Friday, July 31, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Innocence

Alright so, once again, Voyager is running low on supplies (probably because everyone in the Delta Quadrant has heard rumors from the Kazon about how mustache twistingly evil they are--I don't know why anyone would listen to the Kazon but there you go) and they send Tuvok and some Disposable Ensign down to a moon to look for... something? I was eating lunch.

Anyway, Tuvok and the Disposable Ensign crash the hell out of their shuttle and the Disposable Ensign is disposed of. Tuvok is doing some respectful burial stuff because he's good like that when a BUNCH OF FREAKING KIDS walk up on him. If I were Tuvok and a bunch of solemn as hell looking kids walked up on me while I was burying the guy who flew me down here, I'd have definitely screamed in a really undignified way. But Tuvok isn't me. He's really calm about the whole thing. Even when these kids tell him about some monster that's been eating their friends for dinner and soon they'll be next.

At first Tuvok doesn't believe any of this bananas mess but then some really suspicious activity happens and he comes around.

MEANWHILE--Because this show is called Voyager and not Story Time With Tuvok--The inhabitants of the moon's planet come up to Voyager for a look-see.

These folks (The Drayans) are pretty closed off from the rest of the quadrant and I can totally understand why (The Kazon, AmIRight?) They take a tour of the ship and then head back home. Later on Janeway gets a really angry call from this lady about how they need to get Tuvok off this moon etc etc. In the end, Janeway and Tuvok find out that these kids aren't kids at all. They old people. They're Benjamin-Buttoning through time. Or Merlining. Whichever. Anyway, this moon is where old people go to die and Tuvok just happened to be here and now he's going to escort the last grandma kid to her final hour.

Honestly, as hokey as all of this kind of sounds, Innocence is a pretty solid episode. I feel like aging backward is a trope that should probably be left either to the realm of magical realism or the written word or both. These kids are kids. They're kids who played bit parts in other 90s TV shows I watched. They're kids. They look like kids. They act like kids. I know they're "confused" but then suddenly one starts talking about her grandson and it's like, "You know, you could've mentioned that before, lady." But it's not terrible. It's fine. Crazy shit happens in the Delta Quadrant and there's plenty of other great stuff in this episode, namely with Tuvok, Janeway, and The Doctor.

Tuvok is great. Tim Russ always does a fantastic job but seeing him wheel out his Vulcan Dad Skillz is particularly nice. We know Tuvok is a husband and father and we know that being away from his family must effect him even if he doesn't manifest those thoughts/non-feelings in the same way humans might. But this is the first time we really get to see him be a dad. When Tuvok starts going on about the songs he plays for his kids, I always think, "Oh, no. Please don't sing." And then every time I love it. Daddy Tuvok has totally won me over.
Janeway is always fabulous. I love this big idea of Janeway showing these uppity Drayans around Voyager and no matter what she says about science and exploration they always have some snippy comeback and then Chakotay's all, "My people..." and they eat it up. Mainly this shtick works with the Drayans because both they and Chakotay are all about saying old timey spiritual stuff. These are the sort of folks who probably make their own artisinal kale infused potato chips because they think it's more "authentic."  So naturally they're instantly into some Space Indian with a probably meaningful face tattoo spouting the words of his people.

The Doctor has a great comedic scene within said tour. He's been working on his people skills and he still kinda sucks. Awkward silence ensues. Totally perfect.

Innocence is one of those episodes I never really think about. I don't look forward to it. I don't regret watching it. It's just a solid, season two (holy crap am I really still only in season two?!?) story with fine acting and some really nice, standout moments.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Generic Ensign's Log: Deadlock

Generic Ensign's Log

Stardate: 49548.7

Holy crap! I was just in the mess hall eating my oatmeal. Samantha Wildman was there and she was helping Neelix with some repairs and then she just went into labor and Neelix took her to sickbay. Man. How exciting! Her baby will be the very first kid ever born on Voyager.
It just really seems like a good omen, you know?
I feel like today is going to be a great day.

Samantha still hasn't had her baby. I passed Kim in the corridor and he said we'd detected a Vidiian ship and were about to move into a plasma field to try and lose them.

We're under attack. Everything is awful. Nothing is good! I was headed down to Engineering and everything was just exploding. I guess I got knocked out and I woke up in sick bay. There are a ton of people hurt in here and--oh no.
Samantha's baby didn't make it.

I finally made it back down to Engineering but now it's the new bridge. I guess everything on the real bridge is totally jacked up. The captain and Tuvok are here and everything. Hogan is manning my station for now. I told him I'd take over but he said he was in the middle of re-routing the power for Torres and Kim. I offered to go with her but Kim said he'd do it.

Harry Kim is dead.

What... Ok... so I guess now there are two Voyagers? I mean, I saw the scans. I was looking over Chakotay's shoulder and honestly I don't think he understands it either. It looks like the captain and Torres are trying to figure out a solution and--what the hell--I just turned around and there's ANOTHER Janeway here. What is going on?

Things here are pretty much as bad as they can get and honestly I can't see how we'll ever recover from this. I can't imagine ever getting back to normal.

So it looks like everything's back to normal. The other Voyager's Harry is here now and he brought the other Samantha's living baby with him. I'm trying not to let the whole thing creep me out. I'm having breakfast with Harry Kim in the morning and I've been invited to a party for Samantha tomorrow night. I heard Janeway knitted the new (new) baby a blanket! Her name is Naomi. The baby, I mean. The first baby on Voyager. The other Voyager. Still, I think it counts. Just look at her:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Voyager Re-watch: Investigations

So this is the one where we find out that Tom Paris isn't actually a jerk. You know how I know that? Because here's literally what I wrote in my notes while watching this one:

Episode 34- Tom Paris Isn’t An Ass

-This is the one where Neelix is an overzealous news reporter and helps to reveal that Tom Paris isn’t an ass. 

Yep. I don't know. I was eating lunch. I always think, "Oh, I'll remember everything I wanted to say about this one. This pasta salad is too good to put down for notes!"

I really enjoy this episode. Voyager wasn't nearly as serialized as DS9 but they did try to throw some serialization in there where they could. The Tom Paris is a scofflaw/jerk/scumbag subplot ran through about five episodes before we finally get to the bottom of what's going on in this one--which is apparently called, "Investigations," and not, "Tom Paris Isn't An Ass."

I like that there's been something going on behind the scenes for several episodes and it's only now that we (like poor Chakotay) are finding out about it. Wait, let me back up a bit and tell you all about what happens:

Basically Neelix gets a blog TV Show where he give everyone gossip and nonsense helpful hints and news about the daily goings on aboard Voyager.

He asks Harry Kim's opinion (a questionable move to be sure) and Harry's all, "Oh but you could be an investigative journalist and one time when I was in college..." Ok Harry, I got it. We all had fun in college. Anyway, Neelix takes Harry's advice a little far and just can't let it go when he feels like there might be a traitor onboard Voyager. He eventually points the finger at Tom and that's when it comes out that Janeway, Tuvok, and Tom were all working together on an elaborate practical joke sting operation. Chakotay's all:
His feelings are hurt and Janeway's all like, "It's ok that we fooled you because you played your part to the max and I bet you feel silly now!" Or something. 

Anyway, I get what Chakotay's going through. He doesn't have the benefit of having seen this episode a million times. He can't just sit here all smug, eating pasta salad like a pro. He's agog. AGOG. I would be too if I were in his shoes. And my feelings would be hurt. I'd definitely have to go talk to my spirit animal for a good three or four hours once we dealt with this stinking traitor. Oh yeah. The traitor. 

So for about five seconds Neelix wonders if it's this Hogan guy: 
BTW- He's gonna bite it in the next episode
But of course it's not. I mean, look at that baby face. Anyway, we all know it's not him because we've been watching the show (unlike Neelix and Chakotay) and we all know it's actually this guy: 

Also about to bite it. 
This guy clearly has Traitor Face. He keeps traitoring his way around the ship until eventually Badass Neelix pushes him he falls into some warp plasma and bites it. Around this same time Tom's over on Seska's ship where she's super pregnant with maybe Chakotay's baby and he has to get back and eventually he does and then finally he goes on Neelix's TV show and apologizes to everyone for being such a jerk the last few episodes.

Good ol' Tom. 
I may have been eating pasta salad during this whole episode but I really love it. I was glad to see it come on. I think this one is sort of proof of concept for serialized elements within Voyager. It's like saying, "Yes, we can add ongoing story lines and our audience is dedicated enough to keep tuning in to see how things turn out." It's a vote of confidence from the big to-dos and higher ups. And I like that. Because I like Voyager. And pasta salad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Lifesigns

Do you remember your first date? Your first kiss?

I don't know. I'm not sure I can really pin it down. My story is a little confusing. I was confused. Is this a date? Is this a kiss? Is this how it works? Does this "count"? My story involves a production of Romeo and Juliet. Tank Girl. Nachos. Broken glasses. It was all a little strange and I had a lot of questions no one could really answer.

The Doctor had a lot of questions too. He wasn't programmed for this. (I wasn't either, really.) So when a brilliant, interesting, charming woman shows up, and captures his holographic heart, what's he supposed to do?

The woman in question is Denara Pel. She just happens to have the Vidiian Phage but (thanks to an implant already jammed in her head) they capture her mind digitally and stick it in a holographic body. Denara's a doctor too. She's been working to treat and cure the disease that's ravaged her people and herself. She and The Doctor have a lot in common. They're really into looking at blood scans and dissecting stuff and talking about epidemiology. As they spend more time together, Denara finds a new zest for life. She's had the phage since she was a child so, like The Doctor, she doesn't have a lot of life experience. No dates. No kisses.

They're both a little afraid. At first, The Doctor is even resistant to his newfound emotions. He's worried there's a glitch in his program. But, after a chat with Kes and Paris, he finally comes around.

Denara and The Doctor experience this romantic life stuff together. Because they're both limited by their holographic forms, they can only go between Sickbay and the holodeck but that means they can dance in Marseilles. They can park on Mars. They can listen to romantic music in an old convertible while they share their first kiss. It's great.

Actually, it's so great that Denara Pel doesn't want to go back to her real body--even when she knows her brain's pattern will degrade in the buffer. She's had enough of living with her disease, of being shunned and unable to live the kind of life she's had over the last few days. And, she's afraid The Doctor won't feel the same about her once she's back in her diseased body. But... of course he will. And that's one of the things I love about this episode. Just as The Doctor doesn't have any experience with love, he also doesn't have any experience with fear or disgust or exclusion. He's programmed with the absolute optimism of The Federation's belief system. He can't even fathom not loving Denara Pel--no matter what she looks like or how sick she gets.

In the end, we have to remember that, unless it's between two regular/semi-regular cast members, Star Trek relationships don't end well. This is a One Off Romance. Though Denara Pel will make an additional (and important) appearance later, she simply can't stick around. She goes back to her body and, soon, she'll have to go back to her life, her people. But, before that, she and The Doctor have one last dance and it's lovely.

Bonus Points:
-Cards on the table. I love accordion music. If I could play any instrument... ok it'd be violin. But if I could play any two instruments? Number two would definitely be accordion.
-This episode has a lot of accordion music.
-The Doctor sort of did this whole episode already in Heroes and Demons but (while I love that one) it didn't have the same emotional punch that Lifesigns does.
-The Doctor learns to dance in this episode--a skill he'll later put to use with Seven.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Voyager Re-watch: Death Wish

Alright, this episode is kind of a big deal. It's the first appearance of Q in Voyager and, in many ways, Q was put to more interesting use here. He was a pest for Picard but he's something more for Janeway. He's a villain, a potential love interest, a combatant, a friend, and, yes, a pest.

So here's what happens in Death Wish: Voyager is going about their business and happen upon an imprisoned Q. Not THE Q. Not the one we know. A different Q. For the sake of all our sanity, he's identified as Quinn. And, Quinn wants to die. He's had enough of immortality. He's had enough of the endless expansion of the universe and knowing all the things and whatever. He's done. But Qs aren't supposed to die. They don't stop living. They're immortal beings. So anyway, Quinn has been imprisoned for something like 300 years because he's so extra unhappy with his life as a Q and basically he appeals to Janeway for asylum and she's all, "Yeah ok. Let's have a trial and I'll be the judge in the end." And everyone else is like, "Sure. That seems fair."

What's the result of all this immortality/death business? Well, it's kind of a mixed bag--of traditional Trek episode types. Since The Original Series, we've had a few different kinds of episodes. You've got the big adventure, the ethical quandary, the romp. (I feel like when I was actually in my YEAR of Star Trek, I had my finger on this a little better but, you know, time passes) And then you've got some sub categories. One-off romance, ongoing romance, single character focus, family focus, etc etc. But those mostly fit into the bigger themes.

I love the big ethical quandary episodes, like City on the Edge of Forever: Ethical Quandry with One-off romance and friendship under theme.

I love the romps. Man, I love romps. Like The Naked Time: Big crazy romp with some one-off romance and character under themes.

For the most part, an episode decides what it is by the end of the cold open and announces its type/theme to everyone. In Measure of a Man you know it's an ethical quandary episode in the first five minutes and you spend the rest of the episode alternately wringing your hands and crying.  In DS9's, Take Me Out To The Holosuite, it's clear from the start that this is an episode about baseball and fun and we're all going to enjoy our Trek friends re-enacting The Sandlot.

Deathwish is kind of both. Mostly, it's an ethical quandary. It's designed to make us feel ways about things. Particularly, it's designed to make us feel ways about assisted suicide. When is assisted suicide ok? Is it ever? What if it's a guy who's already lived as much life as anyone would ever ask for? Etc.

And then Q (the Q we know) shows up and snaps in Riker, Isaac Newton, and Maury Ginsberg for reasons that are... thin. I'm not saying it isn't fun to see Riker. I always like seeing Riker show up but... it's not really justified here. I'm supposed to be feeling ways about things, remember? Not going, "Hey, there's Riker!" It's all really wacky and rompy for about a scene and then it's back to feeling ways about things. THEN, Janeway (who, I'm sure, has had a big day of wrestling with her feelings) wakes up in the middle of the night to find Q in bed beside her trying to get all kissey kissey. He's wearing a night cap. ROMP. Once again, it plays around for about five minutes before Q shows Janeway what she could have if she sides with the Continuum--Earth. They could go home. This is legitimately tragic. The look on Janeway's face is heartbreaking so... we're back to feelings.

I think this one has the makings of a truly great episode. We actually get a lot of great stuff about Q and the continuum and about the background of the Q we know. And that's great. We get a legitimately interesting ethical quandary. We get Janeway and Tuvok at their best. And, we get an interesting and satisfying end to the whole thing. I think it's possible that this rompy stuff is in there to keep you from thinking too much about Q and Voyager getting together, to keep us from asking too many questions about why he doesn't just send them back home. Either way, I've always quite liked Death Wish. I just wish it wasn't suffering an identity crisis.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Dreadnought

We're really getting into a good stretch of episodes here.

Dreadnought is all about how Past-B'Elanna (who was a genius) messed with some super deadly Cardassian junk and then sent it on its super deadly way and now that Cardassian junk is be-bopping around the Delta Quadrant and killing folks willy nilly because it's all confused and Current-B'Elanna (who is still a genius) has to smarty-pants her way out of it. This is B'Elanna literally facing the person she used to be. She even re-programmed that Cardassian junk with HER OWN voice.

Oh man. I don't have any deadly artificial intelligence torpedo ships wandering around (I hope) but I do occasionally have the unexpected memory of some variation of the person I used to be. Don't get me wrong. For the most part, I've always been me. Weird. I play too many video games, watch too many cartoons, and talk to myself in grocery stores. My favorite foods are pizza and ice cream. None of that stuff has changed from the time I was ten years old. But sometimes I think about conversations I had or mistakes I made and I think, "What an idiot." But, really, what I should be thinking is, "Hey, at least I didn't re-program a torpedo ship that's going around killing people now. Because that would be really embarrassing."

So I guess you could say that Dreadnought is really good for helping you put that really bad butterfly tattoo in perspective. But, even without all the added personal crap, Dreadnought is a great episode. It stands on its own as an example of Voyager doing something interesting, tense, and authentic with its existing story and characters. B'Elanna is a badass. She's tough, smart, strong, determined, and thoughtful. She recognizes when she's made a terrible mistake and she'll do anything, even put her life on the line, to remedy it. Good job, B'Elanna, when you look back at this episode, you can remember it fondly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Meld

So this is the episode wherein Crewman Suder (aka Luther Lee Boggs aka Brad Dourif) murders the crap out of some guy for no reason and Tuvok just can't wrap his Vulcan head around it so he goes and does an ill-advised mind meld with Suder and it's a whole bad scene. Suder's sociopathic, violent tendencies infect Tuvok's logical mind and suddenly Tuvok just doesn't feel like himself anymore. He knows what's going on yet he can't maintain control, can't ask for help, can't do anything much besides sit in his room and hope he can logic the darkness away.

I've always loved this episode. Brad Dourif (who plays a similarly disturbed killer in one of my very favorite X-Files episodes, "Beyond the Sea") is spot on. I love that we've always seen Betazoids who are sweet and kind and overtly open and empathic and now we get an individual with all the Betazoid capabilities and none of the empathy. He's Moriarty to Tuvok's Holmes and he brings a legitimately scary sense of darkness to a show that is typically fairly light. Tim Russ' performance is similarly great. It's basically Data playing Lore but I actually enjoy it more and find Russ' performance more nuanced than Spiner's. I'm always happy to re-watch this one but this time it was a little different. A little too timely for me, maybe.

About a year ago, I started to feel a subtle darkness creeping around the edges of my own thoughts. I was stressed out and rightly so and I chalked it up to that. Then, about six months ago, I started having nightmares. It was the same week every month. A week of nightmares. Bloody, gory, awful nightmares. It got to the point that I didn't want to go to sleep. Then it was little things. I was irrationally mad about stupid stuff. Irrationally crying about some little thing a friend might have said. I knew it was irrational, that I was upset for really no reason but I couldn't make it go away. Then someone close to me attempted suicide and it threw my whole world off balance. Granted, that's a crappy thing to deal with and it would be tough for anyone but I fell into a deep, obsessive depression for about a month. And then it just kept getting worse. My friends and family started to notice. "How is everything? You seem a little down lately." But I've conditioned them not to ask too many questions, not to be too clingy or to get too weird and up in my business. "I'm fine," I'd say, hoping that if I said it enough it might really be true.

You watch commercials where a woman is out playing catch with her kids or smelling flowers in a field or drinking tea on the sofa as a soft-voiced speaker glides through all the terrible side effects of the drug this commercial is inexplicably advertising. They say things like, 'May cause depression or suicidal thoughts..." And you think, "Who would take that? Why would you take that?" And you don't even realize that's exactly what you are doing. You are the woman on the sofa. That's how messed up your brain is. That you can't even recognize your chemistry has been altered beyond recognition. It's become impossible to gain any distance. You're trapped inside yourself and that's the last place you want to be.

Sometimes it takes someone who loves you saying, "What is going on? You aren't yourself!" before you realize what's happened, before you realize you've slipped so far down a rabbit hole you can't even see the light at the top anymore, before you realize that you really aren't yourself. That your brain has slowly been adjusted by a medicine you've been prescribed. That darkness has spread inside your head. And, that it's not your fault. That you aren't as broken as you were afraid you might be. That maybe you don't have to feel this way anymore.

I've always had a bad reaction to hormonal birth control--which I've been taking for another medical condition for over a year. Typically the reaction is obvious and comes fairly quickly. This time, the effects were more subtle and it took a long time for me to put it together. I had the physical symptoms of a bad reaction and I knew what was causing it but my brain was so messed up that I couldn't put it together with the depression and irrationality--the loss of myself. I was like Tuvok. My brain was infected and I wasn't ok and I just wanted to shut myself away and logic the problem into nothingness. But, in the end, that's not how Tuvok solved his problem. Tuvok needed Janeway's help. Kes' help. He needed The Doctor's help. By the end of the episode, he's on the shaky road to recovery. Suder's negativity has mostly been purged from his brain but he'll always be left with the knowledge of how easily and unknowingly he slipped into darkness. Still, he's getting better. As The Doctor says, "You're on your way back to being normal."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Threshold (Generic Ensign's Log)

Generic Ensign's Log

Stardate 49372.99
9:05 AM- So I was in the mess hall last night and heard Neelix  giving B'Elanna, Tom, and Harry some advice about warp field theory. No good can come of this.

11:13 AM- Apparently Tom Paris achieved a simulated Warp 10 in the holodeck this morning. What is happening? I mean, I know B'Elanna's a brilliant engineer or whatever but really? Just the three of them? They managed to do what Starfleet's been trying and failing at for longer than I've even been alive? I just can't even.

1:26 PM- Well it's going around. The rumor is that the captain is going to let Paris take out the shuttle for a Warp 10 test flight. I know what I said earlier but I'm actually pretty excited about this. I mean... what if it really happens? If it works we can all go home!

5:17 PM- Holy Crap! He did it. He got Warp 10! There's a party in the holodeck later.

Stardate 49373.1
10:30 AM- I heard B'Elanna and Tom in the mess hall this morning talking about another test but then Tom suddenly keeled over and looked like he'd been poisoned. They took him to sickbay. I wonder what's going on.

2:20 PM- I ran into Kes in the hall and I guess Tom's turned into some kind of monster thing. I mean, she didn't say monster, obviously. But from the way she described him... gross.

5:43 PM- We're on Red Alert. I was in engineering when The Doctor decided to try some kind of treatment to fix Tom (he really is super gross) and he suddenly up and took off. He got to Deck Six and found the captain and I guess he just ran off with her. Now we're searching for both of them but who knows how long it'll take. He left our space going Warp 10.

Stardate 49373.4
12:00 PM- The captain and Tom are both back. Everything's pretty much back to normal. They're in sickbay recovering and no one has any idea what happened to them or how and why they're both alright now. It seems like, once we found them, it only took about five seconds for The Doctor to fix them and, I mean, I'm not saying I know how bad they were but I heard they were in a real bad way. Real bad. And, ok, I know this sounds completely crazy but I swear I heard it from Wildman who got it from Carey who overheard Chakotay telling B'Elanna that (and, believe me, I know how ridiculously impossible and insane this sounds) Tom and Janeway had turned into some kind of salamanders when our team found them. SALAMANDERS. Seriously. And not only that but apparently they had enough time to reproduce while they were down there for three days. I can't believe I'm even recording this log right now. There's no way this is what actually happened. Right?

I mean, honestly, if going to Warp 10 turns us all into salamanders but The Doctor can just turn us all back into humans, why not just use the tech to go back home? We might be salamanders for five minutes but isn't that worth the price of being home tomorrow?  I don't know. I guess I shouldn't even be asking these questions. This whole thing is clearly above my pay grade.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Science Ladies

So the VERY next episode I'm going to talk about is Threshold and I know we're all really excited about that. But... the last couple days what I did was just watch a bunch of X-Files because once I start it's like I'm a kid again and I just can't stop. Anyway, I've done so much writing work lately that I've been aching to do a little art (that's not work or commissioned... just stuff for myself) and I ended up spending some time in photoshop while Scully got kidnapped by aliens/the government.

I've been wanting to do a B'Elanna piece for a while now--especially one in a sciencey setting--so this is what I came up with:

And of course I had to do a Scully piece. I realize eating a sandwich in the morgue is a huge cliche but whatever, if anyone can pull that off, it's autopsy extraordinaire Doctor Dana Scully, FBI. 

I have almost no experience with animated gifs but I really wanted Scully to chew her sandwich while the entrails dripped blood so... I made it happen. Now I'm thinking about animating B'Elanna up there too.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Prototype

SITREP: B'Elanna has discovered an alien/robotic life form in the Delta Quadrant and fixed it up and now he's kidnapped her and wants her to help him make a bunch of new robots (not the old fashioned way) so his people can finally get back to killing the guys that look just like them.

On the surface, this one is pretty much an episode of The Original Series. Seriously, if you took the whole Robots V. Robots who straight up murdered their own creators and now they need the help of a super smart scientist to help get them back on the warpath plot and dropped it into TOS, you wouldn't bat an eye. Add to that the old timey robot costume and you have...

See what I mean? Apparently the people behind Voyager weren't too happy with the Pralor/Cravic design and I get it. These bots definitely just look like guys wearing some carpeting and a plastic mask over their heads. It's low rent. Whenever I see this one I alway end up spending a lot of time trying to figure out how the people in these masks managed to see and breathe and hit their marks. Voyager, like TOS and pretty much all of Trek, had a fairly small budget. They didn't have much money or time for production so I've always forgiven them when their costume design ends up looking a little half-baked. (Except in the case of the Kazon. I can't forgive Seashell Head. I just can't.) So this aspect of Prototype was never an issue for me.

There is greatness to be found in Prototype and it's all in B'Elanna's character and the way Roxann Dawson plays out the mother/creator plot. This part is pitch perfect. B'Elanna (at this early stage of the show) is not naturally mothering or tending toward the stereotype of nurturer but she is a brilliant scientist and engineer. She has a desire to observe, experiment, and create. She is at first elated with the re-construction of the found Pralor then she rails against being made to participate in building a prototype that would only lead to more war. And, finally, she is both relieved and devastated when she destroys her own creation. B'Elanna's journey here is profound yet believable but it's all mare more resonant when she finally has a chance to talk to Mamma Janeway about her experience. The captain and fellow scientist empathizes in a truly touching final scene.

Two lady scientists having a heart to heart? 
Not something from TOS.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Voyager Re-watch: Resistance

Welp, this one's never not hard to watch.

Resistance is a fairly non-traditional episode in that it takes place almost entirely off-Voyager and almost entirely with one cast member--Janeway. While Tuvok and B'Elanna are featured in the B-plot and the rest of the crew are briefly visible trying to retrieve the aforementioned characters, Janeway and this week's Delta Quadrant Guest, Caylem (played by Joel Gray), are more than capable of carrying this one all the way through. It begins with Janeway, Tuvok, Neelix and B'Elanna down on a planet where they're buying some much needed tellerium off the black market. Neelix heads out, some soldiers pick up Tuvok and B'Elanna and a nice little dude helps Janeway get away, though she's injured. She wakes up in his house and most of the rest of the episode is spent with Janeway trying understand her addled companion (who thinks she's his daughter) whilst forming a plan to free her officers from prison.

I actually remember the first time I saw this one and it wasn't in the show's original run. I was in college and happened to catch it in reruns on Spike TV and even then it made an impression on me. I may have cried into my ice cream. I've always liked stuff about Bad Dads and especially Bad Dads and daughters. In fact, just before I saw this one, I had started on my most recent novel which prominently features a Bad Dad and daughter combination so this re-watch really resonated with me.

I love that Janeway is out of her element in this one. She's stranded on an alien world she can't freely navigate and she's stuck with a person who is incapable of taking her orders because of his own mental state. Additionally, when Caylem identifies Janeway as his daughter, and she feels she must go along with it, we see a more tender side of her. This gentility is thrown into contrast when she ends up doing the ole' honey pot gag to get into the prison. While I sometimes balk and this plot move, I don't mind it too much here. It makes story sense and keeps with the whole Don Quixote feeling of the episode. Mulgrew and Gray are lovely together and their read of the subtle script makes this one a powerful (if painful) experience. Whenever this one comes on, I always sort of dread being put through Caylem's hardship all over again but, unlike a few wonky episodes (mostly involving the Kazon) I never change it or skip it or turn it off. I just watch these two fantastic actors carry out one of Voyager's first truly great episodes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Voyager Re-watch: Maneuvers

Alright, I admit, I'm currently writing about episodes I watched a month ago but didn't get a chance to blog about at the time because I was in the middle of finishing a novel. I'd put an emoji of some sort here but I don't think they really make one for, "sorry I let you down because I was writing something else like it owned me."  Anyway, I do have notes for these episodes (of which there are four) but they aren't super helpful and that's not my fault. I'm in a clump of the series where Voyager was still finding itself, figuring out who it was and what it ought to be doing with its nine principle characters.

One thing it did was try to give a little more depth to Chakotay's character outside of, "Hey I'm some sort of Indian, I guess, and I have a distracting face tattoo." This meant giving him a relationship. And, like most Star Trek relationships, this one was doomed to fail and fail hard. Maneuvers is pretty much all about how Chakotay and Seska used to get it on but then she turned out to be a Cardassian and now she's run off to hang out with the most ridiculous aliens in the Delta Quadrant so that she can improbably eventually take over Voyager.

I don't hate the Chakotay/Seska thing. I think it actually kind of makes sense--more sense than Chakotay and Seven, especially. She's intense and rebellious and the member of a victimized society which Chakotay is clearly into. Chakotay has a face tattoo and a startling ability to break into the tough guy leader mode. They're both impetuous people who probably like to drip candle wax onto each other and then talk about their feelings. So, yeah, I get it, I guess.

Anyway, in Maneuvers, Chakotay and Seska haven't been a thing for a while but Seska (now looking way more Cardassian) feels like coming around to twist the knife and make him a little miserable. She succeeds at this and Chakotay ends up disobeying Janeway's orders and goes after his ex-girlfriend and her idiot Kazon friends. Everything eventually works out alright but Janeway is super disappointed with Chakotay in the end.

My issue with Maneuvers and, really, Seska in general is that she seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. She could've been Voyager's Gul Dukat--a merciless, intelligent, dangerous enemy whose cunning and cold nature make a deliciously love-to-hate character. Instead she takes up with some of the most absurd aliens in Trek--people someone with her apparent standards and temperament would never associate with--and then she's surprised when she (a woman in a backwards, misogynistic society) can't get ahead. Come on, Seska, you could've aligned yourself with the creepy female caretaker. Eventually she does manage to do some real damage and I'm excited to get to that episode. Now that I'm no longer writing this novel night and day (again, if there were an emoji...) I should be back on track!
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