Thursday, October 31, 2013


So today I did this:

And here's what I ended up with:

I get that there are people out there doing things like this:
But I really wanted to do something on my own--something simple. I was super excited because we just moved to the suburbs and figured it'd be like ET out there tonight. Instead there wasn't a single trick or treater to be found. I don't know why. Do kids all do this trunk or treat crap now? Is our street creepy and we don't know it? Did the reckoning happen and no one told us?

In any case, I spent the evening eating Reese's Pieces, playing the Halloween DLC of Borderlands 2, and watching Voyager. All in all, a pretty great night.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trek Or Treat

Welp, it's almost Halloween. Tomorrow night I'll be busy handing out (what I haven't already eaten of the) candy so I figured I'd post a handy list of Star Trek creepisodes just incase you want to snuggle up with a (insert your pumpkin-flavored beverage of choice here) and have Trek-o-Ween.

Catspaw: This is a no-nonsense Halloween episode. It ran Halloween week and features witches, spooky castles, and black cats. Pretty much Star Trek meets Addams Family.
Seriously though, did they just sneak onto the Munsters set to shoot this?
Wolf In The Fold: Scotty is accused of murdering a belly dancer and it's all hocus-pocus seances to figure out who really did the deed.

And The Children Shall Lead: If you think kids are creepy (and who doesn't, really?) this crazy-town Lord of the Flies-style episode will probably freak you out.

The Animated Series
I'll bet you thought I wasn't going to write about TAS.
Wrong, buster! I'm on top of this!
The Magicks of Megas-Tu: The crew is transported to an alternate universe where magic is real and science doesn't work. They end up in a weirdo reverse Salem witch trial and lots of crazy lore (this is magick with a k we're talking about here) is put forth for your fake history enjoyment.

Schisms: Ok, I am legit scared of two things: the dark and alien abduction. The Barenaked Ladies went straight to the heart of it with "watching X-Files with no lights on." This episode (wherein several members of the crew are abducted by aliens) overrides any ability I may have to apply logic to my irrational fear.
I can't even look at this.
Night Terrors: This one is literally called Night Terrors. It's 45-minutes worth of jacked-up space dreams.

Conspiracy: So, maybe some aliens are taking over Starfleet little by little. They have creepy, creepy fish tails (what I thought they looked like when I was five and watched this episode) sticking out of their necks and there's lots of guts and people acting super weird. As a kid, this episode gave me nightmares, what more do you need to know?

Whispers: O'Brien comes back to the station to find everyone acting really strange and creepy. Have they been replaced? Or is it something even darker and more sinister?
This is Miles in every episode: freaked out and put upon,
wondering why he ever left the Enterprise.
Pah-Wraith: O'Brien (because why would it be anyone else?) discovers that his wife has been replaced by an evil, fire-cave-dwelling demon. She has a list of demands and unless he complies she's going to start a-killin'.

Empok Nor: O'Brien, (seriously? How is he not in 24-7 therapy?) Nog, Garak and a team of completely expendable security officers check out a deserted Cardassion space station that's HAUNTED.

Darkling: The Doctor tries to implement some extra personality traits onto his matrix (because that sounds like a great idea) and ends up turning himself into a Gothic novel villain.
Star Trek once again making me feel weird about my attraction to evil geniuses.
Night: Voyager is stuck in a dark region of space and their lights get cut off. Soon enough, some local residents come knocking. And by "knocking" I mean "appearing in the hallway all spooky-like."

Scientific Method: Aliens screwing with people. Once again, I'm extra weirded out by alien experimentation (even though I'm a totally logical person who knows that stuff has been totally debunked) so this episode is one I can't watch alone or at night. Basically, this is one for the freezer.

The Haunting of Deck Twelve: Neelix is straight up telling ghost stories to a bunch of Borg kids who heard from Naomi Wildman (in a scene that I imagine must've been exactly like the one in The Sandlot) about a ghost on deck 12.

Fight Or Flight: The Enterprise comes upon an abandoned ship full of dead bodies--made creepier by the fact that they're hanging upside down.
Note: Nothing good ever happens on abandoned ships.
They're abandoned for a reason.
People don't just leave perfectly good warp-capable vessels floating around.
Doctor's Orders: Phlox and T'Pol have to traverse a large region of space all by themselves while the rest of the crew are suspended in a death-like sleep.

Impulse: Zombie Vulcans attacking everyone. Night of the Living Vulcan? 28 Stardates Later?  He's Undead, Jim?

Every Single Mirror Episode: Why? They're essentially our Star Trek friends dressed up all sexy and acting like jerks. Ie- Halloween.

Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Ok, this isn't Star Trek but it is Shatner-Pre-Kirk freaking the hell out in black and white over a monster on the wing of his plane. This is a serious pop-culture classic so you need to see it at some point and Halloween's as good a night as any.
Actually, no, don't watch this one at night.

Monday, October 28, 2013


So I'm pretty excited about the new JJ Abrams show, "Almost Human." It's about a cranky cop (with a shiny futuristic prosthesis) and his optimistic robot partner who super wants to be human. Because it's a buddy cop show, they develop a unique friendship.
I like both of those guys, I think the concept sounds promising, and I typically like the way FOX does SciFi. Because I started watching Sleepy Hollow I've been subjected to about a million promos for the show and, since I live in LA, the billboards for this thing are everywhere. Surprisingly, the over-saturation hasn't diminished my interest in the series. But today I heard something kind of strange. Someone (TV Guide?) called it, "TVs first Ro-Bro-Mance." The rest of the internet (and FOX) ran with this catchy little portmanteau and now it's everywhere.

I don't have any problem with the word itself but, come on, TVs first Ro-Bro-Mance?

I don't think so:

These guys were Ro-Bro-Mancincing their way across the galaxy back in 1989. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Voyager: Relativity

Tonight I unpacked our books. Before we left Kentucky, we boxed up our books (about 1500) and stored them with a family member. Three years went by and she sent them a box at a time until, little by little, we had most of them back. In our old apartment (the one I was in when this blog started) I unpacked them and put them into our second (third?) hand shelves. When we moved to our last apartment, we ordered brand new shelves for our books but as soon as we got there we realized how terrible the place was. Thus, we left everything (including the shelves) boxed up. Finally tonight, in our new place, I finished our shelves, anchored them, unpacked and shelved our books.

While doing all this, I watched a few episodes of Voyager including "Relativity." In this one Seven goes back through Voyager's past in an attempt to thwart/prevent its sabotage and destruction. She re-visits her friends' and her own timeline in a criss-crossing time adventure with a pretty surprising finish.

Strange as it seems, I felt like my activities were pretty similar to Seven's. Our books are like tokens from our own timelines and unpacking them I couldn't help but remember various parts of my life.

There's a book that my godmother gave me when I graduated high school--it's a reprint of one of her own books, one that I pored over every single time I visited her. I found my great grandmother's Shakespeare's Collected Works, which I inherited when I was seventeen. I found Flower Faeries of the Trees, which my mother read to me when I was little and gave to me when I got married.
Taken before I was too tired and delirious to worry about pictures.
Or standing. Or thinking.
I found my husband's Twilight Zone Companion, which we went through the first time I went to his apartment. I found his Star Trek books (obviously) and his (rather vast) collection of magic and magic history books (have I mentioned I'm married to a wizard?) and smiled when I heaved the Calvin and Hobbes complete set (I got it for his last birthday) onto the shelf.

I love my kindle. It makes me feel like I'm in Starfleet and I love that I have over fifty books in one compact place. But I'll never be able to unpack my kindle books, spread them out on the floor, smile as I put them on the shelf, and relive the times and places I was as I read them the first time.

Occasionally I'll see Janeway or Picard reading an actual book with actual pages and I'll shout at the TV, "You fool! Even I have a kindle! Why are you reading paper like a chump?!" But after tonight, maybe I get it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Course: Oblivion

Yesterday, while assembling some bookshelves, I watched Course: Oblivion. I love this episode and have been looking forward to it all year. While it's not especially fun or action-packed, it's a great example of the interesting stories Science Fiction can tell.

As the episode opens, Tom and B'Elanna are getting married. Janeway conducts the ceremony. Rice is thrown. But something is amiss. The ship is degrading. The people are degrading. Everything is falling apart but no one can figure out why. Tuvok and Chakotay go back through Voyager's timeline, detailing missions in hopes of getting to the bottom of their mystery. Finally, they figure it out: they're not the real Voyager crew. They're duplicates. They originated on the Demon Class planet and without a connection to their home-world (or one like it) the crew and ship will eventually degrade into

I was thinking about this a lot last night. I was at a wedding. Already I knew something was up since I don't (as a rule) go to weddings. I sat in the back row with Scott as the ceremony was conducted and the vows were exchanged and lots of TV references were made and thought, "Is this the real life?" The officiant (a friend of ours who also happens to be a Jesuit priest) said, "So say we all," and we responded appropriately. I asked myself, "Is this just fantasy?"

I considered whether it was possible that I was a duplicate. I thought about the events that had led up to my sitting there: our recent move, Scott's job, my writing and illustration, our trip to Vancouver, Scott's time at UCLA, our move to Los Angeles, my work with kids, our camp, graduating...our own wedding. Our wedding was tiny. It was just the two of us and a police chaplain who recited phrases from The Princess Bride and Star Trek. It was October. A breeze came off the ocean. Our bare feet sunk into the sand of Virginia Beach. A day later we drove back to Northern Kentucky over the Appalachian Mountains where we'd both been born and raised.

Sitting at the wedding last night, I considered whether I might disintegrate if I didn't return to those mountains. Would I fall apart if I didn't return to my place of origin? Could I keep going on my crazy life-adventure? I realized, as everyone stood and followed the wedding party into the reception area and Scott wordlessly stayed back with me and took my hand, that I wouldn't--that I'm not a duplicate and even though I'm a grown up and have to do grown up things sometimes (like go to weddings and pay bills and assemble bookshelves) I'm still the same person. I haven't been replaced and I'm not going anywhere.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Voyager: Bliss

In Bliss, the entire crew becomes consumed by the idea that they're about to get home. Their optimism overrides all logic (yes, even with Tuvok) and the only people with any sense in their heads are Seven and Naomi Wildman. They eventually learn (from Voyager's very own Captain Ahab) that the false sensor readings and hallucinations experienced by the crew are all the product of a gigantic space monster. This freaking cloud of doom shows everyone exactly what they want to see in order to lure them into its belly.

Everyone wants to go home so the beast shows them Earth, letters from family, a quick way back, the works. That's why Seven and Naomi Wildman aren't affected. They've never seen Earth. They don't give a crap about San Francisco or seeing their old buddies at Starfleet or whatever. They're perfectly happy messing around in Astrometrics, charting the Delta Quadrant and eating Neelix's crazy casseroles.

I was thinking about that today as I was unpacking. It's been pretty busy around here. We didn't just move, we moved to another town. That means all new utilities companies to deal with, a new gym, a new neighborhood. The days have slipped by and the last two nights I've gone to bed with the realization that I did not write a blog post. The guilt when I don't write a post is tremendous.

I was visited by a similar kind of monster--the move. It made me think, "Oh yeah. I totally wrote a post today. I'm not letting myself and my readers down in any way. I'm sure it's fine. I bet I'll wake up in the morning and there'll be comments in my inbox."

But then I'd realize that the space monster (ie- a room full of unpacked books) was just screwing with me and I'd have to go all Ahab on it (with a box cutter) probably screaming things about how from Hell's heart I stab at thee etc etc. And then, once I'd overcome my delusion and put down my wordless directions to my Ikea bookshelves, I'd realize that I'd have to write a post.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What The Hell, Harry Kim?

So today (shenanigans courtesy awful Time Warner Cable) I only managed to watch one Voyager. Ridiculous. Don't these people know I have a schedule to keep?

Anyway, I watched Timeless wherein Chakotay and Harry Kim get stuck in the future and end up getting bossed around by Cranky Geordi. Everyone has sexy gray hair and they're all mad at each other (and themselves) because Harry Kim sucks at math and led to Voyager's crash into a glacier planet.
This is a great episode (made even better by Drunk Seven and Janeway's Fancy Dinner Party) but there's a really interesting scene at the end that made me think, "Man, Harry Kim, what the hell?"

It seems like this dude is ALWAYS getting into trouble. He's like the Will Robinson of Star Trek. Examples? He woke up in some lady's freaking coffin in another dimension and then had to die to get back to Voyager. He was kidnapped by some kind of light-energy-Grendel, was turned into a super old guy and a baby by a clown in a fake reality, incarcerated in a seriously crappy prison with Tom Paris, and got stabbed by Species 8472. He was seduced by a planet of women who were all way to into his body (and by body I mean his genetic material, and by genetic material I mean they were going to murder him and leave him a dried out old husk of an Ensign) and he was one of the few crewmen left conscious during the entire ship's worst (best?) FPS experience ever in The Killing Game. Of course, none of this even compares to the time he actually died and was replaced by an alternate version of himself.

And I'm only in Season Five.

So, what the hell, Harry Kim? Let's take a step back from now on. Maybe we shouldn't get into so much trouble. Maybe we should think about letting someone else head up the away team or do the math for today's experimental warp test. Use some caution. That's all I'm saying.

Maybe Harry will be ok. Maybe he won't get into any more trouble for the next couple seasons. Besides, what could go wrong?

It's not like he's going to go on to fall in love with an alien he can never be with or date a hologram who gets turned into a cow, or be reunited with (yet another) lost love who he can't be with. He probably won't beam a dangerous warhead onto Voyager or retain the memories of an absolutely horrendous massacre.

Yeah. Harry Kim will probably be just fine.

That's right. Smile while you can, Harry. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Move Over

We're here! Our move was crazy exhausting. I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow and i desperately need some sleep so for now I'll just leave you with this:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Voyager: Season Four Essentials

I've made a big deal lately about how I'm moving (again) and don't have as much time to write so you're probably already sick of that shtick. Of course, that doesn't make the statement less true. Our move takes place tomorrow but I didn't want to leave you without the Season Four Essentials:

1- Year of Hell Parts 1 & 2:
One of the most solid, engaging episodes of Voyager (and any Trek) shows Janeway and the crew at their most desperate. I always think about Voyager as being a show about family as much as anything else and this episode really brings that theme home.

2- Message In A Bottle:
You can't miss Voyager's first contact with the Alpha Quadrant in four years OR The Doctor's exploits (with Andy Dick) on a Romulan-infested experimental ship.

3- The Killing Game Parts 1 &2:
Klingons Vs. Nazis. 'Nuff said.

4- Living Witness:
This is basically Voyager doing a mirror episode without doing a mirror episode. I love this one for the way it showcases the moral ambiguity, misplaced blame, and subjective history that comes out of bitter war. There are no easy answers, white hats or black hats, no Good Guy Picard following the Prime Directive in this one. It's a tangled mess of history, hate and (on The Doctor's part) homesickness.

5- Hope and Fear:
Here's the (pretty low key) Season 4 Finale. A totally cool looking dude in a nifty pantsuit shows up and offers to decrypt a degraded message from Starfleet. The message leads them to a balls-out amazing, experimental ship from Starfleet, which could get them home lickety-split. What unfolds (especially between Arturis, Janeway, and Seven) is intriguing.

Runners Up:

Day Of Honor:
B'Elanna's having a crappy day and Tom's relentlessly trying to help her celebrate Klingon Christmas or whatever. She, of course, isn't into this thing as she's not feeling super honorable or reflective and would rather be cranky and yell at people. Watch this one to see the Tom/B'Elanna (B'om? T'Elanna?) relationship develop into something deeper than "we almost did it during Pon Farr."

Tom and B'Elanna free floating in space before it was cool. 

Seven and The Doctor are stuck driving Voyager while the rest of the crew take a month-long nap. Her adventure into her isolation-induced paranoia and psychosis is interesting and surprising.
Is this a dream or the weirdo ski vacation holo-program Tom keeps taking.
You may notice that I didn't include "The Gift" and I have to say that I did think about it. In the end though, The Gift is about saying goodbye to Kes and I don't think it's necessary for the rest of this series to see that episode. Also, I have a tendency to include what I think are the episodes that most effectively convey the spirit of the series/season. As much as I loved Kes and as much as I think the scene between her and Janeway is beautiful and heartbreaking, The Gift always leaves me a little bitter. So, I left it off.

Ok, I'm off to finish packing! Wish me luck! See you on the other side!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Voyager: One & The Omega Directive

I was going to do an Essentials List but a reader (thanks Rayna!) asked about my thoughts on the Season Four episodes, "One"and "The Omega Directive." I loved both of these stories so I definitely want to talk about them. However, I've just spent the last five hours packing up our house whilst watching the Dodgers eliminate themselves from the World Series so this'll be a bit short.

Both of these are Seven-sodes and feature her dealing with interesting aspects of her Borg-influenced humanity. In "One" she and The Doctor are the only two individuals immune to the deadly effects of an unavoidable nebula. Consequently, it's up to them to pilot the busted-up Voyager to the other side while the entire crew is in stasis. Seven has never been alone for any real length of time and both her humanity and her Borg nature rebel against the quiet desolation of the ship. Seven gets more than just lonely, she becomes psychotic in this eerie, compelling episode.

I don't get lonely. Or bored. I feel like (if I were a Borg-enhanced super genius) I would be more than fine steering the ship through a big ass purple cloud. But my personal speculations on whether or not I could hack it don't really come into play when I think about how much I love this one, how much I totally buy that Seven would be tripping balls out of loneliness, or how much I don't even mind that they pretty much did Find and Replace on the names in this one when it came to Enterprise and they did the exact same thing with T'Pol and Phlox. Thanks to the writing, directing and acting, I would watch Seven wander around corridors for HOURS.

Ok, The Omega Directive. This is another great one and it's a quite complex idea: Voyager comes into contact with the potentially dangerous Omega Molecule. Janeway has standing orders from Starfleet to destroy the molecule at whatever cost but Seven's got a problem with that since the Borg basically worship this stuff. Individuals or cultures worshiping some piece of technology isn't exactly new but the premise that a faithless, emotionless culture like the Borg would worship anything is interesting all by itself but the fact that Seven is passionate about it brings everything home. She is obsessed with the same perfection the Borg sought and believes that Omega is (or could be) the manifestation of that perfection. She is relentless in her attempts to harness and get a glimpse of her god.

This one is dryer than most of Voyager's episodes but I don't mind that at all. And, in fact, I love the raw conflict between Seven and Janeway. Their philosophical arguments about boundaries in science, about the thin line between awe of nature and the worship of it, and about the ethics of shutting down advancement in the name of safety are riveting for me.

Both of these are fantastic episodes and I highly recommend them--especially if you're into Seven's character arc and/or the whole "exploring my humanity" Trek Trope. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with my pillow and some sleepy time tea.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Voyager: Message In A Bottle

In the Season 4 episode, Message In A Bottle, Voyager finally finds a way to send a message to the Alpha Quadrant but they only have a short window of time in which to do it. After some technical difficulty, they send The Doctor through the data stream and hope he can let Starfleet know their whereabouts. He arrives on the ship but everyone's freaking dead and the Romulans have control. I love this one. Here's why:

#1- You know how much I love Romulans. The fact that they managed to get Romulans into Voyager not once, but twice, is amazing.

#2- when The Doctor activates the EMH he finds that he's been replaced--by Andy Dick who is PERFECT in this episode. From a quippy bit about the Dominion War to the EMH Mark II's desire to get (ahem) upgraded, this guest star role was perfectly cast. Robert Picardo and Andy Dick work wonderfully together and their scenes (full of haughty, snippy, one-liners) are hilarious.

#3- This is a romp. Starting out, Voyager was sorely lacking in the romp department but as the seasons progressed, they seemed to get more comfortable with it. And, just as Quark was the resident romp coordinator on DS9, so The Doctor is the head of hijinks aboard Voyager. Message in a Bottle is a perfect example of a Doctor-led, Voyager romp.

I actually finished Season 4 last night so hopefully my Essentials will be up soon! Is there a Season 4 episode I didn't mention that you'd like to read about? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seven Is My Spirit Animal

In the very first season of Voyager, Chakotay sits down with Janeway in her ready room and attempts to guide her through the process of finding her spirit animal. I remember watching this episode in its first run in my room on my (beloved, very own) crappy, old tv. I remember thinking that I ought to figure out my spirit animal. Of course, as I was about ten years old, I promptly forgot about this endeavor. But, this week as I was watching Season Four at warp speed and Seven of Nine monotoned into my days and nights, I realized that I don't need any further meditation to find my inner, mystical self. Seven is my spirit animal. Here's why:

I often lack tact and have trouble making friends.
(Something I'm completely ok with.)
I basically live for breakfast. 
I'm kind of a badass.
(Or at least I aspire to be.) 
Again with the tact.
(Sexy talk isn't something I understand. You can tell because I call it "sexy talk")
I have absurd nightmares about singing in public.
(This one doesn't move. You can stop staring.)
However, I do sing at home basically all the time:

And, just like Seven, my hero is Janeway:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Voyager: Year of Hell

A few days ago I watched "Year of Hell." It's a well-known episodes and unquestionably one of the best 2-parters in Voyager. This is a concept that was hinted at in the third season and then brought back to great effect in the fourth. Basically, Voyager wanders into Krenim territory without realizing that this region of space is in dispute and that the Krenim are desperately trying to "correct" the effects of a war by messing around with the timelines. Voyager is caught in the middle and all but destroyed. Months go by. Eventually, they've been flying around in Krenim space for nearly a year.

Any episode where Janeway's all greased up and
wearing a tank top instantly takes a place in my top ten. 
The character stuff in this one, especially between Seven and Tuvok, is great. Janeway's unfailing dedication to her crew is touching as always and developments in characters like Neelix and Chakotay are interesting and unexpected. It's a great episode and if you haven't seen in in a while (or ever) you should check it out.

It's funny because, as I was watching this episode, I was pretty caught up in it. I didn't think about the fact that I've had my own "Year Of" right here on the blog. Then, yesterday, Scott figured out that there's just a little over ten weeks left in 2013. I almost cried.

He said, "It's ok. You're going to get through all the episodes."

"I know. I just don't want it to be over."

My Year of Star Trek hasn't involved any vengeful temporal scientists bent on 100% restoration or my security officer being blinded in an explosion but it has been pretty crazy. Star Trek, for the last ten months, has filled my days, nights, dreams, and writing. It (as I recently discovered when some friends from out of town came by) is the subject of all my "humorous" anecdotes. I've made new friendships, new relationships, met LeVar Burton and Jonathan Frakes, got a book deal, moved and am about to move again. A part of my life that was once very private has become public. It has been startling and scary to share that part of myself with strangers. But it's also been rewarding. I can't believe I only have a few weeks left. It doesn't seem possible. This year hasn't been a year of hell but I suddenly find myself worrying that, without keeping up this project as I have done, next year will be.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Series and Maybe Alien-Induced Headaches

So I saw this news today. Apparently Bob Orci went around hinting that maybe, possibly, perhaps there might be a new Trek on TV sometime in the near future. I cannot tell you how incredibly happy I would be if this happened. (I'm talking jump up and down while eating cupcakes whilst chucking glitter all over the place) Unfortunately, it doesn't seem super likely. Multiple big name people have tried to launch multiple new Treks since the sad death of Enterprise but no dice. I've got a feeling Paramount isn't going to potentially compromise their successful movie franchise by possibly introducing a show that might distract from it. But, you never know, the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek is right around the corner. Maybe we'll get a brand new crew on the small screen when it rolls around.

In other news, I watched Scientific Method a few days ago and, seriously, I'm pretty sure those creepy, creepy aliens crawled out of my TV in the middle of the night and have been jamming long needles into my brain ever since.
In other words, I have a headache.
Sure, I guess is could be allergies. Or, it could be stress. But I'm pretty convinced it's the alien thing.

Trek crew members being abducted/experimented on isn't new. Riker, Geordi and some chick Riker saved all got probed "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" style back in TNG. And, Amelia Earhart was straight up abducted and brought to the Delta Quadrant. But, nowhere in Star Trek is alien experimentation as creepy and unexpected as it is in Voyager's Season Four episode, Scientific Method.

Go check this one out. And, if you get a headache or some other weird ailment (like way-too-fast aging or a sudden resurfacing of your grandpa's genes) let me know.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Voyager: Goodbye to Kes

Tonight I almost started writing about Seven of Nine. But I realized I couldn't move on until I acknowledged the loss of one of the series primary characters: Kes.

I loved Kes in spite of the fact that there weren't a lot of great stories for her. She had an abundance of qualities that have always been attractive but a little alien to me. Her feminine, gentle, and self-sacrificing nature brought a warmth to the show. She found a family on Voyager, especially with The Doctor and Janeway. She grows up and, as Janeway points out, has spent almost her entire life onboard. She leaves in The Gift and her scenes with these characters never fail to make me all weepy. It seems obvious that Janeway's goodbye with Kes is as much these actors and friends saying goodbye as it is about the characters.

As much as I love Seven, I'll miss Kes. And, I'm both looking forward to and dreading her return in Fury.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Voyager: Season 3 Essentials

Life here is pretty crazy right now. My first book deadline is tomorrow and we're moving in about a week. I spent the day packing, watching Voyager and freaking out. Somehow I'm already ten episodes into Season Four so I figured I ought to get these essentials up!

Future's End Parts 1 & 2
Watch this one because it was kind of a big deal. It's also really reminiscent of the 90's, which is often hilarious all by itself. Sarah Silverman is a geeky astronomer and Ed Begley Jr is a creepy/totally convincing baddie.
Bonus Points for use of the word "freakasaurus."

Distant Origin
I recently wrote an entire post about this one wherein I went on and on about its brilliance/importance. I love this one. It's a remarkable example of the kind of thing Star Trek does well and it's told with
Dinosaur main characters.
Bonus Points for a truly endearing catch phrase, "Eyes open."

Janeway is a badass. End of story.

Worst Case Scenario
I didn't get a chance to write about this one as I watched Season Three but it's awesome. B'Elanna finds an exciting, addictive holo-novel about the Maquis crew taking over Voyager. This one's rompy and very fun.

Scorpion Parts 1 & 2
If you don't watch this season finale/season premier, you're going to be super lost when giant bugs from fluidic space end up in a Mexican standoff with Voyager and the Borg later on.

Runners Up:

False Profits:
Ferengis in the Delta Quadrant. Ethan Phillips reprising his original Star Trek race as one of the miserly little butt heads. People wandering around with gold ears hanging around their necks. It must be a Voyager-style romp.:

Sulu and Yeoman Rand are apparently part of Tuvok's history. Janeway gets to frolic around in her friend's 23rd century memories serving tea to George Takei and participating in the events of Star Trek VI. It's pretty awesome:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eyes Open, Voyager: Distant Origin

Challenging doctrine is always a dangerous proposition. Religious leaders don't especially like to be questioned. Followers are encouraged to blindly accept the teachings of their spiritual mentors and those who would ask questions or propose new theories, new explanations and new ideas are admonished, punished and sometimes killed.

Galileo Galilei challenged the widespread, papal-endorsed theory that we live in an Earth-centric system. He used observational astronomy to write about how, actually, the Earth and its sister planets all revolve around the sun. His ideas (which we're all taught about as second graders now) were revolutionary (excuse the pun) and (according to the church) dangerous. He challenged the status quo. Basically, he kind of made them look bad. One guy came up with a fact that God had apparently neglected to mention to all the other guys in charge. They didn't like this. When Galileo refused to recant his theories, he was sentenced to house arrest where he spent the remainder of his life.

Voyager basically retells Galileo's story. With dinosaurs:

Gegen is a scientist who challenges the doctrine of his people (the Voth) by proposing that they evolved in a distant quadrant of the galaxy (on Earth) rather than in the Delta Quadrant (which they believe they have a pre-destined, God-given claim over) and his ideas get him into serious trouble with the higher-ups. While the Voth hold Voyager hostage in their way bigger, way scarier ship, Chakotay works with Gegan to uphold the scientist's findings.

This episode is awesome. I mean, seriously awesome. Distant Origin is an example of what Star Trek has done (better than just about anyone else) since its inception. It presents a human problem through the lens of science fiction with a familiar and reliable cast of characters to relate the story. We end up spending time with Gegen via Chakotay and it's completely engrossing. Gegen's plight becomes more and more urgent and eventually Chakotay (in a scene that tears my heart right out of my chest) speaks up about the importance of questioning the status quo, pursuing scientific discovery, and fearlessness in the face of change.

From start to finish, Distant Origin is beautifully written, directed and acted. The premise (Dinosaur people evolved on Earth but no one will believe them) seems so silly. But, in practice, I think it's one of the best, most moving, most compelling episodes in all of Trek.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Voyager: Sacred Ground

About a week ago (Just guessing about this. I work at home and live in a place without seasons so I basically have zero markers for the passage of time) I watched Sacred Ground. And it's been bugging me ever since.

In this one, Kes wanders into a dangerous forcefield (that apparently no one warned her about) and instantly goes into a coma. The Doctor can't revive her. They figure out that one time this happened to a prince (you'd really think someone would've warned him) and his dad marched down to the cave and talked the spirits into restoring his life etc. Janeway says, "Sounds legit. I'm on it," and heads down to the planet armed with a tricorder and bio-scanners in an attempt to follow through with the same ancient ritual to bring Kes back. What follows is Janeway's physical and mental journey through a series of apparently alien rituals.

This isn't exactly new to Star Trek. Lots of officers have had to undergo alien rituals to save someone else or placate a pissed off culture. There are things about this episode I like. I love Janeway's dedication to Kes. I love how much she cares. I love how tirelessly she works and she suffers through the challenges like a champ. I love that this is a Janeway-centric, character-focused episode. And, I like that both George Costanza's mom and the mayor of Sunnydale both make an appearance.

But, this episode is all about faith. And it's not about "faith as perceived by this culture" it's just about faith. It's about Janeway having to gain some kind of faith in order to save Kes and, more than that, it features an alien lady who condescends to Janeway the entire episode about her reliance on science. She says folksy things like, "You sure do love that gizmo, huh?" She and George Costanza's mom (and the rest of the spirits) are smug and arrogant as they passively berate Janeway for her reliance on science. In the end, they throw us a bone by having The Doctor dash off a scientific explanation for Kes' recovery but Janeway dismisses him.

I read that this episode is about how "you can't explain everything with science" but that's not actually true. And, as one of the most accomplished scientists onboard Voyager, Janeway knows that. We can explain everything with science. We can't explain every element of every theory about everything with our science as it stands now, but science (unlike faith) is forever evolving--as long as things like doctrine and fear don't discourage the development of theories and the practice of the scientific method.

I'm not going to sit here and advocate that one ought to replace faith with science. They're not the same thing. They're not even kind of the same thing. Given that, I don't understand why they can't go hand-in-hand. If your faith is important to you, that's fine. But telling a story wherein a scientist has to turn her back on science in favor of faith or else someone she loves dies dies is pretty scary to me as a Star Trek fan.

Star Trek is all about the wonder of scientific exploration, the beautiful mysteries of space and interesting alien cultures, the overwhelming exhilaration of finding and discovering what was previously unknown. So, I guess, there are plenty of other "beauty and importance of exploration and discovery" episodes out there for me to enjoy. I'll be writing about one of them (Sacred Ground) tomorrow.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Voyager: Macrocosm

Janeway is a badass. There's nothing subjective about this. It's just a fact. She defends her crew at all costs. She sticks to her convictions but violates the Prime Directive when she has to. She plays mother, sister and friend to everyone under her care while never failing to command respect. And, she can also strip down to a tank top, climb through the bowels of her own ship and win knife fights with ginormous virus monsters.

People talk about how cerebral Star Trek is and mope and whine a lot about how the newer movies have "too much" action, how it's not Star Trek. I'm not sure how this happened. Kirk fist-fought so many alines in TOS that when the Motion Picture came out people moped and whined a lot about how there "wasn't enough" action.

Whatever. Each Star Trek and each captain is their own thing, with their own strengths. I think Janeway is the perfect combination of smart, assertive, compassionate, kind, and tough. As a kid, Janeway was the kind of woman I aspired to be. She still is. I'm not done cooking. And, I think the chick who knifes monsters while engineering and distributing an antidote AND diplomatically dealing with hostile aliens is the chick I want still want to be when I grow up.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Voyager: Coda

Remember how, when you were a kid, you fantasized about your own funeral? (If you didn't do this, then I half-apologize for the morbid image I just put in your head.) If you did, you're in good company. Tom Sawyer and Janeway both attend their own funerals. I just imagined mine when I felt unappreciated. (I did it all the time.) I knew the music that would play. I watched my relatives wail and flail over my corpse. They all bemoaned how they had treated me. It was a pretty harrowing experience for all involved, I can tell you.

As an adult, this whole thing seems way more morose and awful than it did as a child. The idea of death and leaving behind the people I love is sickening. Seeing someone attend their own funeral, then, is also a lot more powerful than it was when I was a way-into-Mark-Twain ten-year-old.

In Coda, Janeway and Chakotay are be-bopping around in a shuttle craft when they're sucked into some electrical interference and crash land on an empty planet. At first (because I'm guessing this episode was running a little short?) they're stuck in a time loop but Janeway soon realizes that her consciousness has been displaced. She attempts all the tried and true Star Trek methods for rejoining spirit and body but to no avail. That's when her dad shows up.

This guy is pretty suspicious from the get-go and tries to convince Janeway that she's actually a ghost and she's just haunting the ship because she can't let go. He won't leave her alone and they even go to her funeral together where B'Elanna and Harry Kim make excellent speeches about how wonderful she was. This is a legitimately wonderful scene. Kate Mulgrew's performance here is beautiful and, really, the whole episode is worth watching just to see Janeway fight to stay with her crew who, she declares, is a part of her. They are a family. It's really nice.

Why no screen grabs of the episode, you're wondering? Well, here's why:

Five years ago, I took a picture of myself with Janeway. 

This was shortly after re-watching Macrocosm and my Janeway infatuation was pretty intense. 
I wanted a picture of me watching Voyager so badly that I took a selfie with an actual camera and then uploaded it to my computer because I didn't even have a crappy cell phone back then, let alone one that would take pictures: 

Of course, I (and every funeral-picturing ten-year-old on the planet) have one of those now. So, here's an updated version. Me and Janeway today:

My love for her is obviously undying. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Not Dead Yet

Well, hello.

It's been a couple of days. Basically, I'm at maximum stress level and, because I'm about to go out of town, I'm preemptively watching about 5-7 Voyagers a day to keep up. I don't like to write posts while I'm watching because that means I can't really pay attention to the episode. But I don't want to just leave you hanging. Leaving you hanging increases my stress level.  I end up staring at the ceiling out of some kind of defeated "how can I ever go back to my blog" feeling. Ridiculous.

In an effort to remedy this situation, here are some quick impressions of a few episodes I've seen lately:

The Swarm:
I love tiny alien ships.
Kes and The Doctor's relationship is so perfect in this one and The Doctor's memory loss is heartbreaking.

False Prophets:
Ferengi Hijinks! YES!
I'm a little sad that Jeffrey Combs didn't make an appearance in this one as a Ferengi other than Brunt.

Kes is terrifying. I miss her already and she's not even gone yet.
She's playing this smarmy evil guy so well she actually set off my smarmy evil guy sexy meter. Because that's a thing.
Oh. My. Yes.
Hell Yes.
This is basically Janeway McClane. This woman is a super scientist with muscles and a badass knife.
She is my hero.

Future's End:
Tuvok, you're wearing a tank top and sneakers.
I watched this episode really late at night and, for whatever reason, I felt like Ed Begley Jr playing pinball was the absolute most menacing thing I have ever seen in my life:

For real though. Go watch this and tell me you
aren't creeped out by Ed playing pinball.
I'll be back with a whole post about Future's End and Macrocosm. I can't not write more about Janeway knife fighting a bunch of giant flying viruses.

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