Less organic intellectuals than morbid symptoms

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. K. Jones
    November 2, 2015 @ 6:27 am

    It's true of this run of episodes, that while they're not the same as the opening episodes, being firmly entrenched in the "peak Trek" timeframe is all the redemptive reading they really need.

    I like Babel a lot. But I mean, I like Captive Pursuit a lot, too. I can even understand the … well, ill-thought, story logic of writing out your two most competent characters (and two of your best actors, incidentally) right out of the gate, though writing out your science officer in an episode like this seems like a major brain hiccup.

    Ironically what I think probably makes this episode average is that a pandemic episode on this station should be something with higher (like, midseason or season-ending) stakes. And that's why it feels like an imported TNG episode. Because it's the sort of thing the Enterprise would just encounter then brush off the next day after Beverly had cleared it up, where obviously Data would have been the one to save the day at the end, perhaps with a Worf assist, or perhaps even with Worf hijacking the sciencey doctor at virus-point to get the job done.

    Avery Brooks and Cirroc Loften nail the pathos here, though. Every episode seems them bring it home more and more and show how the family dynamic in space should be done. And Quark saving the day with Odo hasn't gotten to be a recurring meme yet, but it does effectively express his insane resilience, which is character building this early on.

    Great period of "peak Trek" or not, it's not as though contemporary TNG doesn't have some odd stuff coming up, either. For every Move Along Home there's a Masks.


  2. Froborr
    November 2, 2015 @ 6:38 am

    Am I the only person who really likes "Masks"?


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    November 2, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

    Nope, I adore "Masks" too. That post is going to be an absolute spectacle of redemptive reading when I eventually get to it.


  4. elvwood
    November 4, 2015 @ 1:00 am

    Hm, my problem with this episode – and, like you, I think "problem" is perhaps too strong a word for something that is as fun to watch as this – is something you considered fine: the pacing. It felt to me that some scenes dragged a bit, whereas others felt rushed – basically, the emphasis was in the wrong place.

    I didn't find the concept ludicrous at all – it's basically turning a real-life injury into an infection, which is a pretty mild SFisation for Trek. I also thought the virus having a secondary "fever" phase was plausible, although totally unnecessary. I did, however, have a problem with how they dealt with it. Why pack people into crowded makeshift wards when their only symptoms are linguistic (plus maybe tiredness, that wasn't clear)? Can't most of them just be confined to quarters? Also, linguistic communication isn't the only sort (as the scenes with Ben and Jake showed), and they ought to have done more with (for instance) pointing.

    Still, not bad.


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