Thursday, September 3, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: The Q And The Grey

Alright. Guess who's back in California! (Me. It's me. I've been gone a while)

The last month's been a little lopsided. I really felt like I was doing such an amazing job holding it together through all of the stress and crises and whatever else my south east roots had in store for me. Then, I got back, thought I'd lay down for a nap, and slept for twelve hours. Twelve. Hours. Out cold. I spent the remainder of the weekend eating cheeseburgers, watching cartoons, and reading the first third Watership Down. I felt like I had "recovered." I had my mind set on getting back to work bright and early Monday morning. Which is precisely when I got a somewhat snarky review for my latest book. Folks, I'm not gonna lie. I cried.

Here's some background and you can skip it if you're more interested in the actual Star Trek part of this Star Trek blog: 
The thing is, I don't think I was shedding major tears over this review. That kind of thing just goes with being an author and putting yourself out there. No. What actually happened is that for the last three months or so I've been writing a novel about a woman losing her father. Then, sort of out of the blue, the idea of losing my kind-hearted, amazing, flesh-and-blood father-in-law was suddenly a real possibility. I spent a week in the hospital with him and the family who've so lovingly made me their own and then two more weeks at their house. While there, all I wanted to do was go see my own big, weird dad. So I did. And then I didn't want to leave. All I could think about was the possibility of losing my dad. How suddenly this is a real thing. But I had to leave. I had to come back here to my real life and work on my book about a woman losing her dad and maybe get it published and maybe people will like it and then maybe my big, weird dad will finally think I'm somebody. Holy crap! But the whole time I was gone, I didn't cry or freak out. I felt some feelings but (with the exception of dumping them here--which is where most of my feelings come to live/die) I pushed them all down. And then I got up on Monday morning, ready to face one more edit on this new book before sending it out and... I got that review. And many tears were shed. And then I wiped my face off and resolved to buck up and keep going. Because, really, isn't that what it's all about? So that's what I did the last three days. Work. Get caught up. Etc.

And now I'm back!

Ok, so, Q And The Grey. I actually watched this one last week, while I was still in Kentucky so I might be a little fuzzy on the details but basically Q shows up on Voyager and is all, "Hey Kate, let's make a baby!" And, of course, Janeway is all, "GTFO!" And this goes on and on until a LADY Q shows up in the form of the wonderful Suzie Plackson and is all, "That's my man. WTF!?" And then Q snatches Janeway away and into the Continuum where Janeway comprehends her surroundings as a battle in the American Civil War. There's some blood. Some gunshots. Some near-executions. And then Q and Lady Q are reunited and have weird Q sex with their fingers and then Q shows up a little while later, back on Voyager, with a tiny, adorable Q baby.
Basically all I can think about with this episode is, were I in Janeway's place, whether or not I would voluntarily produce offspring with Q (or anyone) to save my ship. Since i've been meaning to write this post for about six days, I've had a lot of time to consider the question and, like Janeway, I'm going to have to say no. I've gone into this before (probably a lot) but I don't want kids. Not even with Q or, maybe, especially with Q. Now, if it had been like Vash and Q was like, "Wanna go on some amazing dates across time and space?!" I'd be like, "Yes." Because then you're basically a companion on Doctor Who except probably there's a lot less running.

My favorite stuff about this episode:
-When Suzie Plackson (who played Alexander's badass half-Klingon mom) tells B'Elanna how she always liked Klingon women.
-Paris and Tuvok dressed up in Civil War duds.
-Janeway's monster dress. She totally pulls off the disgruntled Southern Belle look.
-I know this is probably lame but I actually like it when Chakotay admits to Q's relentless pursuit of Janeway bothering the hell out of him.
-I love the idea that when Qs are at war, the whole cosmos begins to rip itself apart
-Q refers to Neeliz as "bar rodent"

I know this episode is kind of a mess and a little bit all over the place but I think it's tremendous fun. Also, I'm glad Janeway stuck to her guns. There's nothing more tempting for her than the idea of going home but that doesn't mean you have to give a baby to an omnipotent being just so your crew can have a free ride.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Warlord

Ok, so I guess somehow it's Tuesday now. Over the weekend (I think?) I watched Warlord. I love this episode. It's a fantastic character episode for Kes, a great chance for Jennifer Lien to flex her acting muscles, and it contains an emotional Kes/Tuvok friendship scene. You know how I just love Vulcan friendships. So much fun.
Here's the thing, I've been banging my head against the table/keyboard/steering wheel for the last two days in preparation for this post. I wanted to write about it. I wanted to do a great recap where I delve into Jennifer Lien's great performance and go further into detail about what makes this a unique and intriguing episode. But all I could think about was Kentucky. The rolling, green hills. The twisting rivers and streams. The endless, deafening hum of cicadas.

Weird, right?

Well, maybe not.

See, the thing is, I'm actually in Kentucky. I've been here for nearly three weeks.

At the beginning of August, Scott and I took a crazy whirlwind trip to New York City to see Penn and Teller on Broadway. We got back on Sunday night. We went about our regular lives on Monday. And then on Tuesday we got a call saying that a close family member had had a health emergency. We waited for news, hoping for the best. On Thursday, we hopped on a plane and came back to the South East just in time to be here for a major surgery. We've been here ever since.

We've been helping out here. At first we were at the hospital. We were the night shift. Quietly sitting by or wandering the corridors at 1AM or eating cafeteria pork chops as we watched moonlit rain pound the windows. After about a week we left the hospital but stuck around Kentucky, doing stuff that needs doing and just providing emotional support. Two weirdos--one with Asperger's--are maybe not the best emotional caregivers but, I mean, whatever. We do what we can.

In the midst of all this I've managed to steal away for a few hours here and there. I had tacos, breakfast, and beer with my friend Kate who also took me for my first pedicure. I met with my mentor. I had dinner with a great friend and former costumer. Scott and I ate barbecue with a few of our Shakespeare students and an old friend. And, I went to see my dad.

We went for a quick hike, visited my grandpa's grave, played video games, ate pizza, and watched weird movies and anime until we fell asleep. The next day I got in my rent-a-wreck and drove back toward Scott's family's house. In the car, it felt like there was a vice gripping my heart. I was choking, I was smothering, I couldn't breathe. I was drowning in the thick, wet Kentucky air. 

This is the first time we've been home in just about two years. Circumstances have prevented us from making our way back like we've wanted to and it took a real emergency to make it happen. And that feels rather strange. There's just not enough time. I'd love to make the trek to North Carolina to see my mom and sister and brother. I'd love to spend a couple days just hiking around the Appalachian Mountains. I'd love to hit up some legit fried chicken places and chow down without worrying about catching a plane. I'd love to roll around in the grass and climb the trees until I felt like I'd somehow absorbed enough of Appalachia's greenness to last me another long while in the desert. But we just don't have the time or the opportunity. The thing is, this whole experience has made me feel--more keenly than ever before--the way time slips away. I feel like I use my time well. I write my heart out. I publish books. I make art. I lift weights. I eat good food. I have great relationships. I appreciate the little things. What else can I do? 

Nothing really. Just put my foot on the gas and point my car to the next destination. I could pound my head against the steering wheel/keyboard/table all day. It won't change how fast the clock ticks. As a great guy once said, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." So that's what I'm doing now. I'm writing this post because, even though I only barely mentioned the episode, this project is still a huge part of my life. What'll I do next? Who knows? But I feel like I'm on the right track. Even if there's never enough time. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Voyager Re-Member: Future's End

So about a million years ago  two weeks ago, because I was stuck on a plane/in an airport/generally unable to access the internet I wrote a post recapping the Voyager episode "Basics" completely from memory. I felt like it was pretty successful and, the thing is, I'm still in this weird place where I'm away from home and don't really have great internet access or the time to really just sit down and watch a 2-part episode. So I'm back to do it again with "Future's End." The idea here is that I'm not going to look up stuff about the episode or watch it--only describe/guess/make up what I can remember from all the times I've viewed it in the past.

Alright! Let's get started!

Ok, so... Voyager ends up in 199Something because...? Time rift? Yes. That sounds right. I think Voyager encounters a ship from FURTHER in the future than them and they're all like, "You've contaminated the timeline!" and Janeway's all, "Nuh-uh." But then I think there's a fight and suddenly both ships get sucked into the time rift.

Alright so now we're in 199Something and it's Los Angeles and what I remember about this is Janeway wearing a snazzy white pantsuit and it's really sunny and maybe they're supposed to be down around Venice Beach or maybe the Santa Monica Pier. I don't know. When I saw this as a kid I remember thinking, "This is LA? This place looks ridiculous." And now I live in LA and it is ridiculous. Anyway, so Janeway and Chakotay are walking around and... maybe taking scans? And then they meet up with Paris and Tuvok, I think? And Tuvok is wearing like... the BEST outfit. I love Tuvok's outfit in this episode. I mean, he and Paris are both wearing tank tops, amIright? I'm right. There's no way I could forget Tuvok running around Los Angeles in a tank top.

Ok so anyway, I guess something happens and they head up to Griffith Observatory because of maybe someone's spotted Voyager on their sensors or radar or whatever we puny 199Something humans were using to scan the skies for alien life. And so they get over there and I guess knock on the door and Sarah Silverman answers and she's like, "Cool tank top." Or something. And then I think... maybe some folks show up to kill her at this point or maybe it's not yet. Oh! Maybe they are there to destroy evidence of Voyager so she can't go around telling people about them because then they really would've contaminated the timeline.

Hmm. So at some point in all this we're made aware of the giant turd who's actually behind all this business. Ed Begley Junior. That's right. He's the CEO of some tech company and he's been pedaling technology gleaned from a crashed UFO (the future ship) he found back in like... the 60's.

How'm I doing so far? Good? Deep breath.

So I guess he makes contact with Voyager or they make contact with him. Does Harry talk to him on the comm? That kind of seems familiar. So then I think he scans them and downloads their database and suddenly The Doctor pops up and he's all, "WTF am I doing in Ed Begley Jr's office?" Also I sort of feel like Ed Begley Jr is building his own time ship? Maybe?

Ok maybe now is when he sends some goons to kill Sarah Silverman. Anyway at some point she and Tank Top Tuvok and Tank Top Tom all jump in her old VW Van and we get a kind of weird chase through Los Angeles. Do we all go back to her apartment? Does Tank Top Tom flirt with her? In my head there's a scene where maybe there's pizza and flirting but I might've just filled in the gaps on my own there.

Anyway they all decide to make a deal, I guess. Sarah Silverman has... something? She has something. And Ed Begley Jr wants it and they're going to do some kind of trade for The Doctor? Is this making sense? I feel like it's really sunny and there are goons and phaser fire and The Doctor is all, "I'm panicking! Get me out of here!" Oh! And also somewhere in this bit The Doctor says something to the effect of, "Going somewhere? In case you haven't noticed, I'm a hologram, I can't go anywhere!" (I made up that dialogue but it sounds totally legit in my head) and then Ed Begley Jr is all, "Well, Doc, you can now. Here's a holo emitter. Take good care of it for the next 4 seasons because it's just about irreplaceable. Also here's a backup one for you to lose on a planet somewhere so a culture can build a big museum about how awful Voyager is." Also I think I remember Sarah Silverman wearing a tank top in this part too because all we did in the 90s was go around wearing tank tops and saying ridiculous slang.

Oh! And then somewhere in here Janeway/Chakotay maybe run into that Future Jerk from the beginning and are like, 'Holy crap! What are you doing here?!" And he's all, "Ed Begley Jr is a turd!" I don't know where that goes. Probably at the beginning before all this stuff where we know Ed Begley Jr is a turd and he's trying to kill Sarah Silverman.

Next... some kind of... conclusion? I feel like there's some outsmarting that happens here. How does one go about thwarting Ed Begley Jr? Hmmm. I really don't remember at all but I'm sure it has something to do with Janeway being really smart and also maybe Sarah Silverman's in on saving the day. Probably there are some explosions. Anyway, the day is saved and Voyager goes... back through the rift? I guess? And...Oh! And then is there another time ship maybe? And he's all, "You're going to contaminate the timeline!" And Janeway's like, "Slow your roll."

And then I think they all eat cake.

DONE! Alright, how'd I do? Let me know in the comments.

PS- I found these pics in my files from the last time I watched this one. Who totally called the tank tops and pantsuit? Me. That's who.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Sacred Ground

Guys, I'm sorry. I just can't. This episode has always irked me. I'm not saying it's badly written. I'm not saying it's badly acted or directed or scored. But, it does make me make this face:
I don't even make this face when watching gross X-Files episodes.
Here's the thing--I don't think it's a Star Trek episode. At least, it shouldn't be. This episode is all about Janeway undergoing a sacred, religious, alien ritual in an attempt to get an answer for how to cure Kes (who walked into a weird alien field and got zapped into a death-like sleep.) An alien woman goes along with Janeway on this totally BS ritual and Janeway, all the while, is a willing participant who figures (as a scientist would/should) that any supposed spiritual benefit this ritual grants will also be physiological and replicable and will lead to a cure. Ultimately Janeway finishes this crazyness and Kes is cured and they move along with Janeway saying something kind of vaguely condescending about The Doctor's scientific explanation of what happened. 

Here's the thing: if this were a Chakotay (who is inherently spiritual) episode, I don't think I'd have as much of a problem. Of course, then it wouldn't be an episode. Chakotay would just walk straight through this business chanting a-koo-che-moya and lighting sage or whatever and it would take five minutes and he'd be like, "Here's the cure." Because that's how Chakotay rolls. 

You know how Janeway rolls? With the effing Scientific Method. That's how. 

And this entire time, the "guide" (pretend you can hear me saying that with utmost sarcasm) offers the kind of higher-than-thou patronizing smiles and nods that only the deeply religious can truly muster. Trust me. I grew up in the Bible Belt and I'm well attuned to the familiar "Bless his heart, he's going to Hell," passive aggressive attitude. 
Anyway, yes. The guide unnerves me. Yes, the giddy condescension of everyone involved makes me grumpy. But I think what really gets under my skin about this one is summed up in a line uttered by one of the maybe spirit guardians, maybe ancestral spirits, maybe bored old fogies in a cave, "If you can explain everything--what's left to believe in?"

I mentioned The X-Files earlier. It's one of my absolute favorite shows. I grew up with it and I love it to my core. I read somewhere that this episode's writer compared Sacred Ground to an X-Files episode. And, yes, this would've worked there. But Star Trek isn't The X-Files. Star Trek isn't about the struggle between science and faith. It's not about seeking out paranormal explanations when normal ones are the most probable. It's not about looking for wonder in the supernatural. 

Star Trek is about finding wonder in the physical universe, in the science of exploration, and in humanity itself. If you can't understand why these things are magnificent, beautiful, awe-inspiring, complex, and, yes, wondrous, then I'm not sure you get the whole Trek mission. And, as the captains of Trek are sort of the human embodiment of that mission, I feel like it completely goes against the conceit of the show to do an episode where Janeway finishes up with a "we don't have to understand everything" mentality. 

Maybe I'm not getting my point across. A few weeks ago Scott and I went to New York for the express purpose of seeing Penn and Teller on Broadway. I've been a fan since I was in 1st grade and saw their amazing "Don't Try This At Home" special. My husband has been following them practically his whole life. We always said if they ever went back to New York (their career took off in NYC about thirty years ago) that we would go. No matter what. We'd find a way and we would go. And so we did. And it was... magical. Anyway, P&T often end their Vegas show with their version of the bullet catch. It's loud. It's showy. It's amazing. It's perfect...except that both Scott and I have always preferred their alternate show ending. Fire eating. 

In a recent interview for NPR Penn recalls the great Richard Feynman (who'd brought some fellow Nobel winners and his wife along to a show) approaching him afterward and saying, "I wanted them to hear that monologue, and I especially want my wife to hear that monologue because she has never understood how those who look for answers are the ones who love the mystery the most. I could never explain that...your fire eating monologue does that." 

So, thanks to the internet, here's Penn's complete fire eating monologue. It's hella long but it's beautiful and worth the read. But, if you ever have a chance to see them live... go see them. 

[The stage is dark. Penn speaks to the audience.]
Everything that Teller and I do in this show comes from a love that we share of the American Sideshow.
[Penn lights a candle. He is seated on a stool.]
Now, the real name for the freak show is the Ten-in-One Show, and it's called the Ten-in-One Show because you get ten acts under one tent for one admission price.
When I was a kid I used to go the Franklin County Fair-- That's where the carnival came in my hometown. And that fair would be in town about ten days every year, and every one of those ten days, I'd go to the fair, and every day at the fair, I'd end up at the Ten-in-One Show. And I loved the freak show. I loved it because you'd pay your seventy-five cents and you were allowed to go into a tent with people who were entirely different from you, and then you could just stare at them.
And I loved the freaks, but I especially loved the self-made freaks, the fire-eater, the sword-swallower, the tattooed people, because they had made an extra decision to be there. I can remember standing in that tent watching the fire-eater and I swear my whole life was there; it meant everything to me.
And my friends would go with me to the Ten-in-One, but my friends were different, 'cause they took the whole show as some sort of weird challenge, and all through this fire-eater's perfect act, my friends would be talking. And they'd be saying stuff like, "Oh, I know how he does that, Penn, he just coats his mouth with something." They would try to convince me there was sort of something you could just smear in your mouth, then go suck on a soldering iron, and it wasn't going to hurt you.
And it's not just kids -- it's also adults-- and it's usually a man, and it's most often a man who's with some woman he's trying desperately, and often pathetically, to impress. And I'll hear this guy who just thinks he's got to pretend to know everything, you know? So he's saying stuff like, "Oh, don't worry about him honey, he's just using cold fire." Yeah. [He laughs]
Or needles. Now the reason that Teller and I are working together today, is about thirteen years ago I saw Teller on stage in Jersey, alone and silently eating those needles. When I watched him up on that stage I got that same feeling in my guts that I used to get watching the fire-eater as a kid, and I knew we had to work together, and we have been ever since.
Now, I go in to the lobby during intermission. I have a cola and I talk to folks and I hang out. But the whole time I'm talking, I'm also try to listen, and I've learned a lot from eavesdropping on you guys for all these years. And one of the things I've learned is there's a certain kind of person who comes to our show, and they may like the show, but they don't get it. And these are the people who cannot accept mystery.
Now I want to make this very clear to you: by "not accepting mystery," I am not talking about scientists, and I am not talking about skeptics. 'Cause I'm a skeptic, and I've always felt that skeptics love the mystery, and that's why they don't want to believe anything. They don't want to have any faith. They either want to have it scientifically proven over and over again, or they want to leave it alone. "We'll get to it. Let it go." The kind of people that cannot accept mystery are the kind of people that, when there's a mystery there, they just believe the first thing they're told for their whole life, or they pretend to have an open mind, so they'll believe anything that's popular that comes along, or they'll make up something that makes sense to them and they'll just believe it. Just anything to shut the mystery out of their heads and stop them from really thinking.
And I'll hear people doing this even with things as trivial as the needles. I'll hear guys in the lobby with these real authoritative voices gathering little crowds of people going, "Oh, yeah, needles, yeah, I figured that one out, sure. He's got a little pocket sewn in the back of his throat. It's a skin graft from his leg." Or my favorite one, and I actually heard this, I did not make this up. (Some stuff I just make up, but this I heard.) There was a guy in L.A., who was talking about "candy needles." Now I don't know where this guy ever heard of candy needles, but I assume he figured they're manufactured around Halloween time, as treats for the neighborhood children. I don't know.
Anyways, about nineteen years have passed, and those kids I grew up with, I guess they're all still living in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and I turned out to be a fire-eater, and the ironic thing I found out, is that there's no trick. Not to this. To everything else in the show there's a trick--don't let anybody tell you differently. Susan floating in the air, she wasn't hypnotized--there's no "balance point." Go home, get a chair, clear your mind, think clean thoughts, concentrate: you'll break your ass. It's a gimmick, it's a lie, it's a cheat, it's a swindle! But fire-eating is a stunt, and if anybody here still thinks that there's any such thing as cold fire, and I'm using it, you wait till I get it lit, you raise your hand, I'll stick it in your eye--prove it to you.
[Teller enters from left with the fire-eating props.]
Teller's coming out here with a fireproof camping fuel container. In the container is lighter fluid--it's Ronson brand--and Teller's dipping the torches in.
[Teller hands Penn a torch.]
The torches are cotton, sewn tightly around a threaded, metal rod that's then screwed into a wooden handle. It's not the cotton that burns, it's the fuel that burns and the way fire- eating works is this:
You've got moisture in your mouth, and all that moisture has to evaporate from any given part of your mouth, before that part will burn. So you learn how to handle the burning vapors, then you gotta make it look good. Now if you've got a lot of saliva in your mouth (and that's at least where I try to keep most of mine), you rub your lips right along the cotton and pull that vapor off. Now the vapor's still burning, but if you breathe in a little bit , the audience can't see it, so you've got a beautiful surprise there. The you just wait until the time is right an just let it flow, like it was magic smoke. Then when you want to put the fire out, there's a move for that, too, and it's the move that gives it the name "fire-eating." Now, you're not actually eating the flame, but I guess they figure that "Oral Fire Extinguishing" didn't sound that butch. When you feel your mouth drying out, you close your lips tightly. That cuts out most of the oxygen and... [he snaps his fingers] the fire goes out. Now when I was being taught this, I got burned every time I tried it, and I still get burned occasionally, but the burns you get from fire-eating are for the most part extremely minor. They're the kind of burns you get--you know what I'm talking about--when you eat a pizza too fast, and that cheese'll snag you, or you gulp some hot coffee. Now I'm not trying to snow you. I'm not talking mind-over-matter jive. There's no such thing, it just hurts like holy hell. But it's not dangerous. The dangerous thing is something lay people don't even think about. And that is every time you do this act, no matter how carefully or how well, you swallow about a teaspoon of the lighter fluid, and that stuff is poisonous--that's why they write "Harmful or Fatal if Swallowed" right there on the can-- and the effect is, to a certain degree, cumulative. Now I say a certain degree: I do eight shows a week, I'm a big guy, that doesn't effect me. Carnies, the real boys, they'll do up to fifty shows a day, and in as little as two or three years that stuff'll build up in their liver and they'll get sick enough, they actually have to take time off and do another line of work in the carney while that liver regenerates, which, thankfully, it will do.
Now I take the time to explain all of this to you in such detail because I think it's more fascinating to think of someone poisoning themselves to death slowly on stage than merely burning themselves, and after all, we're here to entertain you.
I really tell you this 'cause this is the last bit in the show, and when you leave here tonight and you're thinking about our show, as I hope you will be, I don't want you to be thinking about how we did it. I want you to be thinking about why. So sit back and relax, I'm going to burn myself.
[Teller lights the torch. Penn twirls it with a flourish.]
This move right here and this move right here are called stalling.
[Penn and Teller look out at the audience, studying them.]
I realize you've been sitting in these seats a long time, but if you can just bear with us another moment, we'd like to look out at you guys. 'Cause there's an obvious but still unique quality of live theater, and that is that while we're doing the show, you're right here in the room with us. And that means that light will fall on some of your faces. And if light happens to fall on one of your faces while we're doing the show we'll do a small part of the show for you, I mean, just for you, just staring right in your face. And when we do that, and we've picked you, and you know it, and you can feel it...we're not paying any attention to you at all. We're trying to get the tricks to work, get the laughs. We can't worry about you individually. So what I'm saying--convolutedly--is that right now is the place in the show we can look at you in the same light we're in, and we can kinda pay attention. And it's really important. And I used to feel that importance should be made explicit, so I would do these little speeches about community and these speeches were superficial and they were contrived, and I really believed them, so they were embarrassing. So now I'm trying to learn to shut up and look at you. Teller's got it down.
And if your the kind of person that needs to sum things up, all you need to know now is that you're in our tent, so it's okay. And the sideshow ain't dead. That's for damn sure.
[Penn eats fire.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Remember

So here's what happened: I watched this episode on my phone on Thursday night (when I was loopy and exhausted) with the idea that I was going to sit right down and write the post but then explosions (not really) happened and suddenly it's Tuesday and I need to put a post up or risk falling into the trap of just letting things go (again.) Anyway, I finally have a bit of peace and quiet and aloneness (and wifi) and my brain fog has lifted enough that I *think* I can remember Remember enough to write about it. Here we go.

I wasn't particularly excited about this one, if I'm honest. I've never thought it a bad episode but it was always a little unpleasant/hard to watch. And, really, I suppose that's the point.

Basically, there's a group of psychic aliens--the Enarans--tagging along with Voyager on their way back to their homeworld. They're lovely, sophisticated people who are way into the arts and shiny curtains and whatever. In the middle of their journey, B'Elanna begins having super sexy dreams about an Enaran man she's never met.

The dreams are so vivid and sensual she pretty much can't wait to get back to her quarters at night for bedtime. The dreams get so intense they become kind of dangerous but she has to keep having them because she's B'Elanna. Eventually the dreams take a new direction and she realizes that these aren't dreams but memories and the Enarans were jerks who committed genocide against a whole subset of their own people.

I found that I had a new appreciation of this episode on Thursday night. Maybe it's because I hadn't been looking forward to it I was simply pleasantly surprised. Maybe now that I'm not watching Voyager at such a fast clip (as I was in 2013) I can slow down and appreciate the episodes in a new way. I don't know. But I'm glad I re-watched this one.

Roxann Dawson is particularly fantastic here. She is convincingly both B'Elanna and the more bubbly/excitable/naive Korenna. I believe she's enraptured by the dreams and I believe that she doesn't want them to stop--even to the point of willingly accepting the memories from a much older and wiser Korenna. I believe Korenna's slow descent into the Nazi-esque political movement which seemed innocent enough on the surface. "We're helping them," is the repeated refrain from Korenna's jerk dad. And I believe that, after all this time, Korenna's finally realized her awful mistake and wants to share her knowledge before it's too late.

Trek has a long history with socio-political allegories and I believe this one is a success. It seems a little like a TNG episode and that's because it was originally dreamed up as a piece for Troi but I think it actually works much better here. Troi is always willing to listen to whatever anyone has to say and she's very sensitive and patient. B'Elanna has a much different style. She falls into this dream stuff ass-backwards and becomes so obsessed with it she fights for her right to "know how it ends." I feel like back in Troi's day this one (unfortunately) wouldn't have been written with as much proactivity on the main character's part. Troi would experience the dreams and she would plead with Picard to do something about it but there's something about B'Elanna's desperation and her agency that is more appealing. She seeks out Korenna, accuses the Enarans of murder and genocide, insists that an investigation be conducted and doesn't stop until someone will listen to what she has to say. I think it's an important emotional evolution for B'Elanna--one that likely would've been missed or gone undeveloped with Troi.

Re-watching this one, I remembered what the Enarans were guilty of, I remembered that B'Elanna eventually got to the bottom of it but couldn't take real action against them. But, I'd forgotten the very last moments: when Jessen agrees to take B'Elanna's/Korenna's memories and we see her wake up in the same dream, it's a resonant representation of the power and importance of knowledge.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: False Profits

Well, I watched False Profits on my phone in two different sittings--one at around 1am and the other at about 5am. I was cranky and in no mood to even be awake, let alone doing things. But, this wasn't too bad because False Profits is a romp. You know how I love a romp.

So what happens is Voyager detects a wormhole and they realize that it's actually a wormhole they've seen before on Next Gen  in the Alpha Quadrant so they decide to swing by and check it out because maybe this thing can take them home. When they get there they find that the Ferengis who ran into the damn thing seven years before have been stuck here ever since and have been parading around as gods among the planet's primitive culture. Obviously their presence isn't strictly (or at all) beneficial so Voyager finds it necessary to step in. And when I say Voyager, I mean Janeway. Because you know Janeway isn't about to let a couple of Ferengi ding-dongs take advantage of a bunch of old timey folks with an inexplicable shoe obsession. Hijinks ensue (as they do) and Neelix almost gets burned at the stake and eventually the wormhole closes and (surprise) Voyager is still stuck in the Delta Quadrant.

Cards on the table: I don't have any really exciting revelations about this episode. As much as I do love a romp and as much as I typically really enjoy this episode, I have to admit, I'm getting a little cranky. I'm not saying the shine's worn off the lobes. I'm just saying I'm tired and I haven't slept in any kind of actual human way for about a week and watching Voyager in the middle of the night on my phone isn't really the best way to go about things even though watching Voyager actually makes me less cranky.

Anyway, there's plenty to love about this episode:
-As I already mentioned, it's a romp--complete with Ferengi hijinks.
-Neelix is a fantastic Ferengi. Maybe that's because he'd had some practice in TNG's Ménage à Troi.
-The ear necklaces. Brilliant!
-The punny name. I love puns. I feel no shame about that.
-Ferengi costumes.
-Why are these people obsessed with shoes? I don't know but I think it's a great running joke.
-I'm glad we got a chance to see Janeway give some Ferengis the business.
I feel like maybe the reason I can't fully appreciate the rompiness of this one is the way it ends. Any time Voyager finds a possible way to get home I get a little irked if it doesn't seem like it's handled with enough gravity. Yes, we all know they're not going home in this episode. The writers know it. You know it. I know it. But... I mean, the characters don't know it. The idea that there's this wormhole that could spit them out a few lightyears from earth (literally the biggest deal to our TV friends) and these doofus Ferengi manage to not only get past their security guy, and shoot their way out of the shuttle bay, but also they--I don't know... evade?--Voyager long enough that the wormhole goes all bonkers and Voyager can't go in? It's maddening to just watch Voyager sit there within reach and twiddle their thumbs at the Ferengi. I mean... it's a problem. We all know it's a problem and I don't want to dwell on it. Even if I'm cranky.

There are plenty of reasons to watch False Profits. Even if the end is a little shaky this is still a solid, fun, energetic episode.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: The Swarm

So I watched this one at about one o'clock this morning on my phone because I'm still doing family stuff. I couldn't take notes and somehow it's now late at night and I don't know where the time has gone so I'm a little off my head but I'll do my best to write something at least akin to the fifth grade book report version of a recap:

The Swarm finds Voyager navigating into an area of mysteriously hostile space. They can't communicate with the inhabitants of this area but they're fairly sure they aren't wanted. Tuvok suggests maybe they shouldn't just barge on through but Janeway's got places to be! They take a shortcut and run into a swarm (hence the name) of these jerk aliens. Around the same time, The Doctor starts experiencing memory loss which gets progressively worse as the episode wears on.
You know, the weird thing is, I tend to forget about this one. I think I meld it together with the later episode where The Doctor realizes he's forgotten stuff because of a conspiracy/cover up. But I shouldn't forget this one. It's a legitimately great episode and a fantastic example of the way The Doctor continues to evolve. His memory loss is a product of cascade failure (two of the scariest, saddest words in Trek) because he's overtaxed his program, running nearly non-stop for two years. In short, he's losing it because he's evolved and his emotional journey in this episode only serves to provide further evolution.

Often in this one I found myself anticipating Jennifer Lien's absence and dreading it. At first, Kes was pretty much just a bubbly little innocent with a weird jealous boyfriend. But, like The Doctor, she's grown. By the third season she's an excellent nurse, a valuable crew member, and The Doctor's best friend. At one point here she even says, "I've known him most of my life." And it's true. And I believe it. Lien shows mad skillz here as she fights for The Doctor's right to existence, his right not to be erased, to continue to evolve. I love Seven. I love her. But I also love Kes and I think it's possible that Voyager's biggest mistake was jettisoning her character.
Lien and Picardo are both phenomenal in this one and their scenes are further bolstered by some great Janeway/B'Elanna stuff. The Doctor's fast-paced memory loss is devastating and Lien's desperate race to save him is a perfect development for her character. Likewise Voyager's confrontation with the Tholian-web-esque aliens is well done and adds just enough physical drama/action to compliment the episode's emotional core. This one works for me.

At least it did at one o'clock in the morning. Honestly at this point I feel like I may have a developing cascade failure. Or maybe I just need some sleep. Either way, I hope I don't forget this one again.

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