Monday, March 16, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Learning Curve

Ok so this isn't exactly a huge secret but--I am not the military type. I'm just not. I suck at taking orders. I get really mad when people tell me what I'm doing wrong. I am the WORST at ironing my clothes--literally all I wear are t-shirts and jeans and chucks. I really, really, really hate being around a lot of people for extended periods of time. It's a whole bad scene. And, of course, I'm not overly fond of jogging. Running flat out like a five year old on a sugar high? Yes. Jogging? No.

Anyway, one time when I was eighteen years old and didn't have any money for college and was terrified of the crippling debt I would have to take on in order to pursue my degree--I walked into the Air Force recruitment office in my hometown and asked about my options. "Of course," said the recruiter with all kinds of enthusiasm, "You'd be a great candidate." I'd taken four years of foreign language, my ASVAB test scores were very high, and, this being about 6 months after 9/11, I had all kinds of patriotic spirit. I almost did it. But I didn't. The day of my physical I had a crisis of faith and called a friend who basically laid out all the reasons I mentioned above as to why I should not sign up for military service.

Turns out, I wouldn't have been able to go anyway. As my sister learned, ten years later when she tried to join the Navy, psoriasis--a skin condition that makes vaccines necessary for military service overseas potentially deadly--will get you disqualified. We both have it. Neither of us could go. (My sister's smarter though and managed to hustle herself a nearly full scholarship to a swanky liberal arts college.)

I bring this up because it's what I was thinking about as I watched the last of Voyager's first season episodes--Learning Curve. This one starts out with Janeway in her creepy gothic holonovel. Some glitches occur and soon we realize Voyager's a bit under the weather. Meanwhile, Tuvok encounters a few Maquis crewmen who still aren't adjusted to Starfleet life and he decides to change all that. Mostly by jogging. But also by re-enacting several elements from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. In the end, Tuvok figures out a cheese making experiment (it was Neelix) produced a bacteria that essentially made Voyager's biogenic gel packs sick. By the time The Doctor comes up with a plan to give the ship a fever, Tuvok and his Starfleet washouts are stuck in a deathbox cargo bay.

Now, I love a good dairy based catastrophe as much as the next guy but this episode never really appealed to me all that much. Probably all the jogging. Re-watcing it this time, I had another opinion. I just liked it more. Maybe my expectations were lower. Maybe Leonard Nimoy's recent passing meant The Wrath of Khan was on my mind and maybe this near-tribute of an episode hit me a little harder than it usually would have. Maybe I've been thinking a lot about my sister. Maybe I've spent the last couple of years figuring out exactly who I am and who I am not. Not everyone's cut out for military service. Or Starfleet service for that matter. This episode really reminds me of that. As much as I'd like to have put on a uniform, as much as I'd like to picture myself in a bi-color spandex unitard, the truth is I'm just not cut out for it.

Bonus Points:
-The class takes the Kobayashi Maru.
-Tuvok basically quotes Spock's sentiments about the needs of the many.
-Neelix' speech to Tuvok about learning to bend is genuinely awesome.
-B'Elanna literally says, "Get this cheese to sickbay." I love it.
-"I don't want to get to know you...and I don't want to be your friend."--I feel ya, Darby.

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