Mar. 17th, 2014

ext_2512: ([tos] STRONG SPOCK)
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Episode Notes: Well, I remember one or two things. )

Overall Reaction: The main impression this episode left on me is one of feeling really, really bad for that part-Romulan kid? How old was he, twelve? He sounded like he was from Ohio. How can you hound this child, Sister Sarah Brown.

Hm. an incredibly tense, well-paced episode. Jean Simmons was excellent, as always. But is it wrong of me to feel that we get to see female admirals so rarely that seeing this one be such an irrational ball of daddy issues made me uncomfortable? For her father to have been a paragon of reason whom Picard holds up to humble her publically, to reveal her as a paranoiac fanatic... I don't know. It didn't sit well with me. It was an interesting, powerhouse role for a talented actress, and Simmons dominated the episode, but I'm so tired of seeing women in authority undercut as hysterical harridans. Star Trek obviously has counterexamples, but -- not as many as you might want, at this point in its run.

Star Rating: ***, because it was still very well-done

Quote of the Episode:
"Would it surprise you to learn that you have violated the Prime Directive a total of nine times since you took command of the Enterprise? I must say, Captain, it surprised the hell out of me." (Fair point, Admiral Satie)
ext_2512: ([music] lady)
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Episode Notes: Not too much under here. Most of it went in the overall reaction. )

Overall Reaction: Any episode that opens with Deanna sighing "My mother is onboard" is probably going to be one I like, but this one surprised me with its dramatic power. Majel Barrett is capable of taking Lwaxana to a very vulnerable and moving place (as she does in the DS9 episode "The Forsaken", when she finally has a very authentic moment with Odo in a stopped elevator), something that one might not expect from the frequent one-note jokiness of the character. Her awareness of her age (however much she may defy it most of the time!) and of loss is one of the things that can bring real poignancy to the character, and make you appreciate how much she throws herself into enjoying every moment of her life the rest of the time. She's a bit of a whirlwind, but she isn't stupid and she feels things deeply. I loved her scene with Deanna, where they got to commiserate about her grief over the loss of Deanna's father and over the loss she is about to face.

David Ogden Stiers is also fantastic, in his role as the scientist who falls in love with Lwaxana's vivaciousness just as he is reaching the point when his society has elected that "elders" must die with grace and dignity, to spare the future generation the burden of caring for them as their minds and bodies weaken. His romance with Lwaxana, which makes him begin to question the traditions he has cherished, is touching -- I may or may not have gone full Cher Horowitz at some point and said, "Old people can be so sweet!" -- and he plays the character's internal conflict in an understated but powerful way.

This is how I like my Trek -- maybe not resolving anything, but taking on a serious subject from a variety of perspectives and giving us a moving, humanistic story.

Star Rating: *** 1/2

Quote of the Episode:
"As people aged, they... their health failed. They became invalids. And those whose families could no longer care for them were put away, into... deathwatch facilities, where they waited in loneliness for the end to come, sometimes... for years. They had meant something; and they were forced to live beyond that, into a time of meaning nothing. Of knowing that they could now only be the beneficiaries of younger people's patience. We are no longer that cruel, Lwaxana." (Dr. Timicin, explaining his people's customs; breaking my heart)
ext_2512: ([tng] i'm not lying)
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Episode Notes: Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night. )

Overall Reaction: Oh, boy.

Okay, so, I wrote a thirty page paper on queer representation (or lack thereof) in Star Trek when I was in college, and I watched a lot of episodes from the spin-offs for it. One of these was "The Host." I...did not have a lot of great things to say about it. (I didn't have a lot of great things to say about "The Outcast" as an example of queer representation on TV either, but I suspect than when I eventually rewatch it, I will have a lot of great things to say about Riker's constant willingness to step out of his comfort zone. I really do love that about him even if sometimes it leads to him allowing his doctor pal to insert her space lobster boyfriend into his abdomen.)

This episode is probably the prime example of media "pushing its boundaries" in a way that frankly just puts a giant neon sign on those boundaries that says "BOUNDARIES HERE APPROACH WITH CAUTION." It defines limits that the viewer may never have thought were there by being so limited in its imagination.

An illustrative anecdote: when I finally had to watch High School Musical, also for a college course, I was struck by the song "Stick to the Status Quo." In it, the school queen bee watches in panic as her carefully constructed social order seems to be crumbling. Students, inspired by the basketball player and the brainiac who are daring to sing on stage, begin to share their freakiest confessions. And I thought, as I watched this scene, "Wait. You mean I am supposed to be ashamed of being the kind of crazy reprobate who both likes to do homework and to groove to my tunes? That is something I am supposed to feel bad about and that people will reject me for? This is the outer bounds of socially unacceptable behavior?" It made difference so tame and then patted itself on the back for its willingness to celebrate "doing your own thing," all the while sending the subtextual message that even these tiny transgressions against the status quo would be noticed and policed and shutting off the possibility of bigger, unimaginable transgressions.

In my Starfleet, the Starfleet of my dreams, the one I was taught to expect, it would never have occurred to me that gender and sexuality would still be so rigid in the 24th century. "Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited," Beverly says -- referring, in theory, to her inability to cope with Odan's changeable physical form -- and I had sort of thought that that someday might have come already in Star Trek. However the episode tries to frame Beverly's conflict, however reasonable that internal conflict might be, what we see is her able, bizarrely, to accept her love when he is temporarily in the body of one of her closest friends, but unable to fathom the idea of being with a woman, because her ability to love is too limited. I see her saying that Star Trek isn't ready for me.

I have no doubt that this episode was well-meaning. But I want more than well-meaning, or I want nothing at all. I can work with nothing; not enough is just depressing.

Finally, I'm never ever ever going to win this fight with sci fi shows's not okay to sleep with your friend's body when he isn't home? Also now I'm never going to be able to get rid of the mental image of Riker and Crusher macking on each other, so. Thanks for that.

Star Rating: **, for some good scenes and Picard hugs; ZERO, for at all satisfying queer content

Quote of a Different Episode:

SPOCK: Her attitude when she approaches you is profoundly different than when she contacts us. Her appearance is soft, gentle. Her voice is melodic, pleasing. I do not totally understand the emotion, but it obviously exists. The Companion loves you.
COCHRANE: Do you know what you're saying? For all these years, I've let something as alien as that crawl around inside me, into my mind, my feelings.
KIRK: What are you complaining about? It kept you alive.
COCHRANE: That thing fed on me. It used me. It's disgusting.
MCCOY: There's nothing disgusting about it. It's just another life form, that's all. You get used to those things.
COCHRANE: You're as bad as it is.
SPOCK: Your highly emotional reaction is most illogical. Your relationship with the Companion has for one hundred and fifty years been emotionally satisfying, eminently practical, and totally harmless. It may indeed have been quite beneficial.
COCHRANE: Is this what the future holds? Men who have no notion of decency or morality? Maybe I'm a hundred and fifty years out of style, but I'm not going to be fodder for any inhuman monster.
SPOCK: Fascinating. A totally parochial attitude.

This scene from the Original Series episode "Metamorphosis" completely reinforces the gender binary, but, still. This is the Starfleet that I want to imagine. What a totally parochial attitude, Beverly.
ext_2512: ([tng] bored)
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I watched this one while working out, and so I took no notes, but I will try and remember everything I noticed!

Episode Notes: Wingin' it. )

Overall Reaction: What a checkered history you now have with the Romulans, Geordi. Are you somehow irresistible to them, or just lucky?

I can't say I found this episode overwhelmingly compelling -- I'm always glad when there is movement in the intergalactic political scene on this show, but I'm also just never that interested in the Klingons? -- but it wasn't a hardship to watch either. I enjoyed seeing Geordi essentially having a showdown with himself all episode, as he constantly uncovered or foiled his own brainwashed agenda. I can't blame him for not being the one to ultimately put all the pieces together, because "I was the criminal and never knew it!" is a pretty unexpected end to a detective story. (I want than Sherlock Holmes fic now, though. Or the Holodeck adventure when Data is Holmes and Moriarty.)

The final scene, in which Deanna helps Geordi begin the painful process of rejecting his false memories and facing the real trauma that he has undergone, was very well done though. I feel like we don't often get to see Deanna and Geordi play off one another. They had a really lovely dynamic in this episode, and I appreciated getting to see Deanna really do the work of a counselor as she kindly, but firmly, led Geordi through the hard first steps of recovery.

Star Rating: ***

Quote of the Episode:
"And that's all?"
"Yeah. Well, there was this..."
"Her name is Jonek."
"But, er... you wouldn't wanna hear about that. Better get ready for duty. Nice talking to you, Counselor." (Deanna, fishing, and Geordi, being a tease)


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