Saturday, October 31, 2015

Whose (Halloween) Couch Is This?

Happy Halloween!!! 
Last week I asked where this couch's flashy fabric came from and Karen got it in one!

This baby's take straight from Gamester's of Triskellion:

I don't have a couch for next week yet. I need to pull some more swatches together and I've been too busy with Inktober to really make a go of it. But I'll try to get back at it ASAP! 

Till then, have a great Halloween. Don't eat too much candy! 
Or do. 
It's up to you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Latent Image and Bride of Chaotica

Lucky for you all I just happened to be super-extra behind in my voyager into Voyager which means  this week I watched both Latent Image and Bride of Chaotica--two episodes that are totally fitting for Halloween.

Latent Image:
The Doctor stumbles into evidence that his memory and program have been tampered with. Upon closer inspection (and with help from Seven) he realizes it was the Captain and that the whole crew knows about it.

So this one isn't really Trick-or-Treat scary. It's a psychological thriller with legitimate psychological and ethical questions being asked. The Doctor suffered an irreparable feed-back loop wherein his ethical and logical subroutines couldn't reconcile themselves with a choice he'd had to make. He was damaged and it seemed there was no way to fix him--they'd had to re-write his memory. And yet... is it what they should have done? Should they do it again? This one is dark and serious. It's almost a bottle episode with the exception of The Doctor's flashbacks so it also feels fairly claustrophobic.
I love that it's Seven who ultimately comes to The Doctor's defense. I love that it's Janeway who sits up with him as he struggles through reliving his ethical dilemma. The Seven/Doctor/Janeway trifecta is a powerful one and it's already off to a wonderful start with Latent Image.

Bride of Chaotica:
It's a romp! Here Voyager accidentally makes contact with a photonic alien species who refuse to believe that biological lifeforms are a thing. It's got all the zany antics of old timey sci fi serials and Kate Mulgrew does a perfect job chewing up the scenery in her fabulous Bride of Chaotica ensemble.
If you're in the mood for some Voyager this weekend, settle in with your bowl of candy and your pumpkin beer and queue up Bride of Chaotica.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Thirty Days and Counterpoint

Thirty Days: This is the one where Paris is in solitary confinement for a month because he helped a guy blow up an aquatic some mining facilities in the hope that doing so might make the government build better (less environmentally distressing) mining facilities to replace them. This isn't a terrible episode I just don't really have anything to exciting to say about it.

Voyager is traveling through Devore Space and they're harboring a bunch of telepaths--who the Devore totally hate. A certain Devore captain (Kashyk) kind of has a thing for Janeway and he defects from his government and suspiciously offers to help Voyager smuggle their secret crew to safety. Along the way a sort of cagey romance blossoms between Janeway and Kashyk and, at the last minute, when Kashyk reveals himself to be a double agent, Janeway lets him know that she was never fooled.

Guys, I love this episode. I love Janeway here. She is all things in Counterpoint. Powerful, calm, collected, sensitive, sexy, secretive, smart. She never loses her bearings, never lets down her guard, yet some part of Kashyk's advances get through just enough that she sincerely offers him a place on her ship and she's remorseful (but resilient) when he shows himself to be a fraud.

The episode itself is tense and dangerous. The stakes are high not only for the people Voyager is carrying to safety but for the telepathic members of her crew as well. In Devore space, if they're caught, they'll be thrown into camps without remorse and never heard from again. If they stay hidden in Voyager's transporter buffer for too long they'll suffer cell degradation and possibly die.

I love that we're thrown straight into the action. From start to finish, Counterpoint is filled with the kind of dramatic rise and fall, the harmonic meeting and parting of the episode's namesake. I always get excited when this one comes on even though I always forget to list it among my favorites. But I suppose it is pretty high up there. For all of its quiet, sub-surface tension, Counterpoint is thrilling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Voyager Re-Pictured: Timeless, Infinite Regress, Nothing Human

So I had this "great" idea recently to, instead of writing long posts about each episode, I could do an illustration summing it (or my thoughts about it) up. So I drew all of these sum-up illustrations over the weekend but then I felt like they weren't actually decent enough to put up. But then I had a crappy day yesterday which ended up with me sitting at the Urgent Care at 8PM (don't worry, I'm fine) and by the time I got home I pretty much said, "No. They're just the first in a line of ideas. It'll be ok to post them." So here they are.

Infinite Regress: 
Why the Voyager crew would've frozen in ice forever if things happened the way I like to imagine them:
Infinite Regress:
Wherein Seven had a ton of voices in her head and, yes, I know more than half are male but whatever. I like drawing boobs.

Nothin Human:
Wherein B'Elanna gets a horseshoe crab stuck to her chest and they have to basically bring in a Nazi Cardassian to fix her and everyone has a lot of feelings (including me):

Monday, October 26, 2015

Whose Halloween Couch Is This?

Alright, so this one isn't really upholstery fabric but (back when I could remember how to make Photoshop do my bidding) I thought it'd be a fun challenge to create a couch based on a certain TOS costume:
Obviously this sort of sidesteps the conceit of these posts as it definitely does not resemble conventional upholstery fabric but I figure couches can dress up for Halloween too! This sofa's material was taken from a rather infamous episode of The Original Series. Its cushions were taken from a second character within the same episode.

Hint: Technically there wasn't enough of the silver for me to work with (the costume was rather skimpy) so I had to make my own.

Guess whose couch this is in the comments! I'll let you know the correct answer on Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Extreme Risk, In The Flesh, Once Upon a Time

Extreme Risk:
So B'Elanna keeps risking life and limb running dangerous holodeck programs with the safeties off. She's totally checked out of her real life and regular duties and everyone starts worrying about her. Eventually Chakotay pokes around in her holodeck programs and figures out that she's been sort of wigged out ever since she found out all their Maquis friends died back in the Alpha Quadrant.
The idea behind this one is that B'Elanna is so damaged by the constant desertion and death of people she loves that now she's numb and she's just trying to feel something. I have some similar desertion issues and my emotions can be unpredictable but I typically just work out really hard--though this means I also sometimes get hurt. Anyway, Extreme Risk is an interesting episode. We see B'Elanna in a somewhat different light, checked out and depressed rather than invested and emotional and it's an interesting place to be for forty-five minutes.
PS- B'Elanna goes to Neelix and asks for banana pancakes at one point here, hoping to feel better by eating them and remembering her grandma. I made banana pancakes this morning but I ate them too fast to take a picture. Sorry.

In The Flesh:
Here Voyager comes upon a super realistic Starfleet Headquarters simulation and realize pretty quickly (after Chakotay does some serious dating sleuthing) that the simulation was built and is populated by Species 84722302948 who figure humans are a bunch of jerks since they teamed up with the Borg that one time. I still remember watching this one the first time and I remember how intrigued I was by the idea. I love that this hearkens back to Soviet spy training towns and I love that part of what brings Chakotay's alien girlfriend (who, yes, looks just like every other blonde, blue-eyed chick he's been after since Seska broke his heart) around to considering the humans' non-evilness is our literature.
Bonus Points here for Boothby's appearance.

Once Upon A Time:
Everyone groans when Naomi or Neelix show up and this one prominently features both. And, I admit, even I am a little put off by Naomi's holodeck program but I like the bits of payoff at the end are enough to make it worth it. In Once Upon A Time, Ensign Wildman is off on a mission with Tuvok and Tom while Neelix keeps an eye on little Naomi. The trip goes south fast and, as everyone on Voyager works to get their crewmen back, Neelix tries to tamp down his own feelings of loss as he distracts Naomi from the fact that her mom is missing and really should've called by now. Under all the holodeck nonsense this episode has a ton of heart and it makes so much sense for this show, where there's no day care, no teacher, no counselor--they're all just trying to get by and do the best they can and sometimes it takes a village. Tuvok even goes so far as to tell Samantha Wildman that if she dies, he's confident Naomi will be alright because she's surrounded by people who care about her and will do the best they can for her and it's legitimately touching.
The Payoff I mentioned: I love the little snippets of dialogue here where everyone reveals their own Flotter Program experiences and I love that Flotter went so far as to recognize Naomi's mom and mention how she's "all grown up now."I don't know what you watched when you were a kid but people tend to forget that our sensibilities change as we grow up. I loved Mr. Rogers and would have defended him to the death as a child but I was already rolling my eyes at Barney by the time my little sister came along and got obsessed with the big purple dinosaur. Shows for little kids are often fairly grating to adults because they're so simple and repetitive but they're not talking to us are they? They exist to teach kids basic lessons about life and learning and kindness and, in that way, I feel like Naomi's program was pretty much just future PBS and I'm not about to fault it for that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Drone

You already know what I'm going to say, right? I love Seven. I love The Doctor. I love Janeway. We've pretty much entered the Golden Age of Voyager now so anytime these three are the main players (which is practically every other episode) I'm 9000% in. Yeah, that's the case here too.

Some of our folks (including Seven and The Doctor) come back from an away mission via transporter (because their shuttles suck and Chakotay keeps crashing them and they need a Delta flyer) and some subspace crazyness causes The Doctor's holoemmitter to go bonkers and when it's paired with Borg tech and some human DNA (sampled from Ensign Mulcahey--I actually considered doing a Generic Ensign post for this one but decided not to) we get a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW LIFEFORM. What a great Trek premise! This one is reminiscent of The Offspring except that the Drone (self-designated, "One) is part of a super scary killing machine race and, also, instead of being the product of hard work and planning he's an accident. Hey, been there, buddy.

I love The Offspring and I think it's a pretty much perfect TNG episode but I definitely identify with One (played with sweet sensitivity by J. Paul Boehmer) more than Lal. I always knew I was an accident. I don't think I ever even had to ask. I always just sort of knew. And, I might not have had a scary robot race coming to claim me but my existence did feel sort of dangerous. I knew my parents' lives veered off course the second they decided to go ahead and have me. Like One I watched from the center of the hurricane of my family's life and often wondered what might've happened if I'd never existed. And, like One, I loved them even though, most of the time, they weren't really sure what to do with this hot mess of a human they'd inadvertently created.

Aside from my personal issues with Drone, it's a well-written episode. Both Seven and The Doctor are the perfect reluctant parents and there are several bittersweet moments throughout. From the crew's initial reaction to One to Neelix's good-natured coaching and the explanation of emotion/anxiety/fear/family from Seven in regard to The Borg. And, of course, the last exchange between Seven and One--a line repeated from his initial awakening--is particularly resonant as One makes the choice to leave Voyager and sacrifice himself for the well-being of the ship.

"You are hurting me."
"You will adapt."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Demon, One, Hope and Fear, Night

There are 73 days left in 2015 and I have 77 episodes to watch!  Hooray for Episode Dumps!

This is the one where Harry and Tom are copied by some almost sentient silver goo and then the rest of the crew is also copied so the goo won't be lonely and then they leave their copies behind on a Demon Class planet. Demon is perfectly fine as a standalone episode. It's an intriguing, SciFi idea and I feel like this one is uniquely Voyager in that (without the support of Starfleet) Janeway sort of has to go along with everyone being copied whereas Picard never would have. My favorite thing about this one is that it leads to the later, heart-wrenching episode, Course: Oblivion.

Voyager treks through a dangerous nebula that only Seven and The Doctor can withstand. Cut off from her new collective as the crew rests in stasis, Seven has to cope with her aloneness. It's an interesting episode but one that I always get mixed up both with the ENT clone, Doctor's Orders, and the later Voyager episode, Bliss, wherein Seven is a different kind of "alone." I prefer One to Doctor's Orders even though I love the rare comic moments T'Pol gets when she's freaking out over how to fix the ship's engines. Jeri Ryan plays Seven's skittishness, her apprehensive desire to be among others, and her annoyance with The Doctor perfectly. And her hallucinatory enemy--Trajis--is just the right mix of snide, condescending, and creepy.

Hope & Fear:
This is the season four finale and I love that it's, for the most part, a quiet episode more about the emotional state of Voyager, her captain, and her crew, than explosions and battles. Janeway and Voyager are in a position no Starfleet ship and crew have ever been in. They're on a one-way trip and that means they don't usually have to face whatever they've left in their wake. Hope and Fear's Arturis does just that. His species had always eluded The Borg but they couldn't hold out forever. Species 8472 was their last hope for Borg annihilation but Janeway ruined all that and his culture was scattered and nearly destroyed. Hope and Fear is their revenge and it makes Janeway question her actions thus far.

The season opener picks up pretty much where Hope and Fear left off. They're stuck in a nearly empty, starless bit of space and, without distraction, Janeway is left to wallow in her guilt. Tuvok actually states that, since stranding the crew in the Delta Quadrant, remorse has been her constant companion. When presented with the option of helping an alien race, Janeway jumps at the chance to sacrifice herself so that her crew can move on and the aliens can rid themselves of a dangerous enemy. Of course, the crew won't stand for that. Like Hope and Fear, it's a powerfully quiet episode and a good reminder that, out here in the Delta Quadrant, without Starfleet's support and strength, there are no hard and fast rules.

PS:Bonus Points to Night for the introduction of the Captain Proton holodeck program!

Whose Couch Is This?

Hey! Ok, so, cards on the table, I won't blog on Saturday. I just won't. Saturday's are when I eat cheeseburgers and watch cartoons with my husband who I really don't get to see as often as I'd like. I will blog on Sunday but not if everything falls apart at the last second. Which is what happened yesterday.

I'd originally thought (on Friday) that (on Sunday) I'd write up a post about five episodes (episode dump!) so I could start a fresh week on Monday but it was a really hectic weekend and I barely even opened my laptop. Then last night I thought, "It's ok, I'll just go online and put up a new couch along with last week's couch." But apparently I've already run out of couches. So I decided to make a new one. But then Photoshop wasn't working properly, or maybe my brain wasn't working properly, and I spent well over an hour on a new couch that ended up not working at all so anyway, here I am on Monday morning still trying to catch up.

The answer to last week's couch was: 
Subcommander Taris.
 As well as a few other Romulans like... Tomalak maybe? 
I don't think Tasha's daughter, Sela, wore this fabric but it was very close. 

Here's the couch I had planned for this week but I think I lost a part of my brain between the last time I made a couch and this time because I just couldn't make anything work. It's Neelix' pajamas:
See what a nice couch this could've been?
 Oh well. 
Hopefully I can get back on my sofa game next week.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In Defense of Screen Time

This artist's work is going viral lately. It's people staring at phones with said phones photoshopped out and they look sort of blank and vacant and creepy and everyone's passing it around saying how terrible it all is.
But here's the thing. This morning I read an article from prominent astrophysicist (and geek icon) Phil Plait about a recent scientific discovery and en-biggened my brain. I looked at some great art and felt emotions about it. I talked to my best friend about one of our favorite TV shows and how beautifully developed the characters are and how great it is that she can watch said show with her young children. I received several well-wishes from friends telling me they care that I'm under the weather and to get better soon. I also talked to my mother about a poetry reading she attended the night before.

You know how I did all that? With my smartphone.

The show my friend and I watched was streamed over Hulu and was an absolutely vital resource for my husband and I when my father in law had a recent health scare. Moreover, while he was recovering from surgery, asleep in the hospital bed and I was sitting there beside him at two o'clock in the morning, you know what I did? I watched episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and I was immediately wrapped in the familiar warmth and comfort that art and entertainment and stories have always given to humanity when they needed it. I streamed it through my phone.

Was my face likely vacant and creepy in that weird almost darkness of the late night ICU?
Did I give a shit?

I'm an introvert on the spectrum. When I spend long periods of time around other humans--even humans I love--I need serious time to rebuild my bubble. I have panic attacks in over-full rooms. I spend approximately 15% of my time in real-life conversations trying to discern whether I'm making too much or too little eye-contact. I spend maybe 20% of my time trying to figure out whether I'm monopolizing the conversation and should back down. Am I being too loud? Too much? Have I been going on about Star Trek for too long? In high school I was a mess. I wanted love and support and friendship so desperately I felt like I was constantly coming apart at the seams yet I had a hard time connecting to people in person. Ultimately I took to the internet and found that love and friendship on old timey, geek-themed chat rooms. My experiences in cyberspace enabled me to be more confident about my in-person exchanges but I never let go of my preferred method of communication.

When I talk with my BFFs on gchat, I don't worry about whether or not I'm being too loud and I can take as much time as I need to say what's fighting through a million layers of weird to get out.

When I finish an art project, I can snap a photo of it with my phone then immediately post it online where people I know in person and online can talk back to me about it.

When I feel sick and terrible on my anniversary my mom, three thousand miles away, can send me a picture of a cat in a cowboy hat and tell me to get better and maybe it's not in person and maybe it's not chicken soup and maybe if a photographer snapped my picture then cut out the phone and cast everything in gray scale I would look, sitting here in my pajamas, like a rather depressing figure. Would the photographer snap the instant that I smiled or would he snap the moment I relaxed? Would he be able to capture the way that small, immaterial action made me feel? Would he be able to capture the relationships I foster with people via invisible, intangible signals?

I mean, I get it. We like to think that when people are engaged they *look* engaged but really it just depends. When we lose ourselves inside a world of information we might look a little odd to the casual observer.

But who really cares? What I look at on my phone or my tablet or my laptop isn't any of your business and neither is how I look. You're celebrated if you join in the criticism of our culture for "always staring at a screen" but you'd be considered ignorant and brutish if you gave someone the business for "always having their nose in a book."

Maybe before we all fly off the handle and take to Facebook (via our smartphones) about how sad it is that we stare at screens all day we should consider the context. And, if you're really that concerned about me, why don't you engage and ask me what I'm reading--via email or text, of course.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Living Witness

So I really wanted to do something special for Living Witness. It's one of my favorite episodes. Top ten? Maybe top five? (Note to self: make a Voyager Top Ten List at the end of 2015) But I've been feeling really cruddy the past few days. This morning I woke up with my lymph nodes all painful and swollen so I finally dragged myself into the doctor and got a Z-pak for my third sinus infection of this year.

I ended up laying on the couch most of the day and didn't even really do an Inktober except for, of course, a quick sketch of me... laying on the couch:

Still, it's nearly 11PM and I didn't want to hit the hay without first at least attempting to get something up about this one. So here we go.
Sit Rep: Janeway's a bond villain with the hair and calf-skin gloves to prove it. The Voyager bridge is appropriately dark and moody. Chakotay has a full face tattoo. Tuvok flashes a super creepy smile. Harry Kim is beating answers out of a guy when The Android Doctor enters and offers his help. Are we in an alternate timeline? A mirror universe? Well, almost.
Living Witness is pretty much Voyager's answer to the Trek mirror trope but, instead of plunking them down in the actual mirror universe, we get an appropriately Voyager-esque approach to the situation. The Doctor's back-up holo-emitter (WTF?! he has a backup?! I thought they only had one. I thought it was this BFD about him not losing it because then he'd lose his freedom) has been found on an alien planet 700 years after Voyager passed by and they're recreating the ship's involvement in their own rather messy history. They've got Voyager all wrong and The Doctor spends a lot of time setting their reluctant historian straight. No he wasn't an android. No Janeway didn't spend most of her time stroking a white Persian cat in her ready room. No Harry Kim wasn't a badass.

Living Witness has everything I love in an episode. Crazy, rompy fun. Mixed-up, bananas alternate history. Action. A well-considered, nuanced culture clash. And real, honest-to-goodness heart. After all, according to The Doctor, he saw all of his friends and colleagues yesterday, for the rest of the universe, it's been seven hundred years. All of everyone The Doctor cares about died a long time ago. That's pretty damn sad.

My favorite stuff about this one:
-It's pretty meta. I mean, come on.
-Tuvok's smile. Obviously. Somebody get me a screengrab of that. I'm too tired to re-watch!!
-Seven is still 100% Borg.
-These folks think the reason there were aliens on board Voyager is that they were "assimilated" and made to work for Janeway.
-They all pronounce "Chakotay" the way only about 30% of them pronounced it in the first season--before everything got ironed out.
-And, of course, Chakotay even sneaks in a little, "My native people..." bit which made me literally laugh out loud. Then I started coughing and wheezing. Then I went to sleep and woke up later in a cold sweat. It's after 11, y'all. I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Vis a Vis, The Omega Directive, Unforgettable

Hooray! I'm back at my own house! In my weird little place in the floor. Yes, I'm still doing Inktober, but today I managed to only spend about 2 hours on a fresh piece. Otherwise I watched three Voyagers and did about a million loads of laundry. Also, can I just ask, is it fall where you are? It's still 96 degrees where I live. What is happening? This is not ok. I want my scarves and hot chocolate and crisp morning air. Anyway...

Vis A Vis: In which Paris is kind of a jerk.
I always get this one mixed up with the forthcoming episode about the time Paris got obsessed with a new toy and shirked all his duties and his girlfriend and everyone thought he was a jerk and then he sort of takes off in the ship or maybe gets kidnapped kind of? What happens in this one is that Paris gets obsessed with a new toy, shirks all his duties, and B'Elanna and everyone thinks he's a jerk but then he gets body snatched.  You can see where I'm coming from, right? It's not just me. Anyway, I sort of like the concept of this one--the idea that there's an alien who's been going around stealing bodies for so long who even knows what his original name/species/gender was?

The Omega Directive: In which Seven meets God.
I really love the idea of this one. And the execution is really great from the moment Janeway gets all cagey and goes into her ready room and seals the door to review the Omega info to the point that Seven stares into the heart of the universe and doesn't want to tear herself away. Basically, they're trying to track down and stop an alien experiment on a dangerous particle known about by Starfleet captains and, of course, The Borg. To Seven, this thing is perfection itself and she's willing to do just about anything to see it. It's an interesting, very human episode for Seven and, for once, her obstinance is rooted in something utterly illogical.

Unforgettable: In which Chakotay has a girlfriend/forgets/has a girlfriend/remembers/forgets.
So, I literally laughed out loud when this one came on. Ironically, I'd completely forgot that Chakotay had a relationship with the woman from Sideways. I think I sort of replaced her in my head when I re-watched Chakotay's other one-episode-love-affair with Riley Frazier (the ex-borg lady) I mean, is it just me? I feel like Chakotay really has a type:
I guess none of us should really be all that surprised with who he ends up with. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Whose Couch Is This #4

Johnny totally called last week's couch. It belonged to the one and only Guinan: 

This week's sofa is upholstered from a TNG guest costume: 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: The Killing Game

I've been way into Inktober lately. Honestly, I can't help it. Being in a hotel room throws me off my game which is good and bad. Good- I'm getting a ton of art done because I actually have a desk and it's a nice change of view/pace. Bad-I'm not getting nearly as much Voyager watched and I've sort of slacked off on some of my other work. Sorry about that. I'm going home tonight so I'm guessing things will get back to normal soon.

Anyway, yesterday I watched The Killing Game. Of course, I love this one. Everyone's playing dress-up. It's WW2 with Klingons and Hirogen. Seven is singing songs at a piano and Janeway's wearing a white fancy dress tux. Of course you have to get past the idea that everyone in this episode is being mentally/emotionally/physically violated thanks to the neural implant that makes them all think they're characters in the holodeck program which is really, truly disturbing if you stop to think about it for too long. But I don't. The rest of The Killing Game is good enough and fun enough and exciting enough that I can totally let the disturbing neural implant thing slide.

My favorite things about The Killing Game:

1-Tom and B'Elanna are long lost war-time loves.
2- American GI Chakotay.
3- Janeway's swanky new look is perfect. She oozes all the classic, tomboy charm of Katherine Hepburn.
4- Klingon Neelix. Perfect.
5- Songbird Seven is still Seven.

And I love the conclusion. It make sense that the Hirogen culture is just sort of treading water, that they're spread out over space only living for the next hunt and never thinking about the future. I love that the guy with all the foresight ends up getting killed but that Janeway makes his dream a reality by giving the Hirogen holodeck technology. And, of course, I love that all that good-will comes back to bite them later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Hunters, Prey, Retrospect

I'm just gonna say up front, it's been a weird few days. Scott's working out of town and I elected to come with him so, for the fourth time in three months, I'm watching and blogging from a hotel. Actually, this one's pretty nice. It has a desk and I've suddenly been made to realize just how nice it is to have a big workspace and a chair. I usually sit in the floor. I've been doing a lot of art (Inktober has provided me with a great excuse to break out my pens) and watching a good deal of Voyager--when the hotel wifi is up to the task:

This one parks Voyager at a relay station while they try to retrieve a data dump from the Alpha Quadrant. Letters from home as well as important info from Starfleet is squeezing through the stream (slower than everyone would like--especially Harry) and everything is made worse when the Hirogen (who own the station) attack. We caught a glimpse of them in Message In A Bottle but here we see them up close and personal. Well, Seven and Tuvok do.
 I love the Hirogen. I think they're a great nemesis for Voyager and their design is beautiful. Where the Kazon were Voyager's Ferengi, the Hirogen are their Klingons. They're tough, war-like, and focused on the hunt. Their ships are stark and utilitarian. Also, they're huge. I love that they're huge. I realize the practical dilemma with recurring alien makeup on a budget--it takes forever, it's expensive, and guest actors often kind of suck once you put a pound of latex on their face and, of course, CGI (especially at this time) was worse. But the Hirogen design is glorious. Utilizing exceptionally tall actors (they tried not to cast anyone under 6'5" though this sort of fell apart later) is a smart move and it sets this species apart from the rest of Trek. They're a nice mix of Predator and Klingon and just the right kind of baddie for the diminutive Janeway and her single ship of puny, regular-sized folk.

Here, Voyager crosses paths with another Hirogen. This one's injured and, ignoring Seven's protestations, Janeway says they should try to be friends. Then the Hirogen wakes up and is all, "Where's my gun?!" and an intruder gets on-board and they let their new Hirogen friend out and holy crap it's Species 844530ujf093. Tuvok briefly makes a psychic connection with the intruder and Janeway's all, "Wait, can we be friends with him too?" But then the Hirogen shoots him and then Seven beams both aliens over to the Hirogen ship. She ends up getting grounded but since I'm a lot like Seven I'm here to tell you that, "Go to your room and be away from people for a week," isn't much of a punishment. Once again, I love all these Hirogen episodes and I love both Janeway's classic Starfleet optimism and Seven's realistic outlook and practical approach to "diplomacy."

 The 90's was a big time for latent memory recovery. All the cool kids were doing it: The X-Files, Buffy, TNG... Not to be outdone, The Doctor puts Seven (who's been acting super cagey) through a hypnotic process he casually read about somewhere and then gets some dodgy memories of abuse, theft, and violation out of her. Everyone rushes to Seven's aid but it turns out (and they have physical evidence to say so) she unintentionally made the whole thing up. By the time they realize their mistake, the man accused dies. For once, Voyager is wrong. Janeway is wrong. The Doctor is so wrong he feels nothing but remorse and offers to delete all the extra subroutines he's written into his program. But then, Janeway reminds him, how would he learn anything from this experience?
In a lot of ways, this episode is problematic. Looking at it through the lens of our current culture it's easy to see how this episode potentially promotes the kind of thinking that casts doubt on women who say they've been violated. And that's really not ok. But, on the other hand, this episode was written in the wake of the nation-wide hysteria surrounding both the day-care sex abuse panic and the satanic cult panic of the 80's and 90's. This kind of hysteria led to the life-ruining jail time (most of which was much later over-turned) of several innocent people. I actually knew someone who was wrapped up in all of this and even have my own story about a repressed (fake) memory. It's a real thing that really happens--especially with kids, who are easily coerced and led.
Of course, this is the problem when you're dealing with allegory. SciFi is often written as a commentary on the current culture. Even though the actual words or images don't change, its message seems to because we're seeing it through the lens formed by our society's current experiences, expectations, and feelings. Retrospect is, in many ways, a daring episode and it's one that only scratches the surface of a deep and complicated issue.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Message In A Bottle

This is a pretty big deal episode, wrapped up in the comics page. It's very rompy and of course I love it because it's all Doctor and romps and flailing.
Catch you up: Seven gets a signal (by bouncing some things through relay stations) from a Federation ship in the Alpha Quadrant) and, though they can't seem to get a message through, they can send the Doctor. It's a pretty big deal away mission and he's totally cut off from Voyager but he's determined to go a good job--even when the ship he finds himself on is currently inhabited by a bunch of jerk Romulans. Eventually he enlists the help of the new EMH (played by Andy Dick) and hijinks ensue.

This one is about as broad as Star Trek gets--which is to say that it isn't really very broad at all. Andy Dick actually had a hard time adjusting to the difference in tone between Trek and the sitcom world he'd been working in. Still, Message In A Bottle is packed with physical humor (Andy Dick can't figure out how to get into the jeffries tube) and snappy quips (The Doctor makes an allusion to making himself fully functional) as the under-experienced EMHes sabotage the Romulans' efforts to takeover Starfleet's latest toy.

The end, though, is where it's really at. After they succeed and our Doctor comes home, he reveals that he got through to Starfleet. That their families will soon know they're still out there, still alive, and still trying like hell to get home. It's a hopeful end and a bright beginning as well--now that Voyager's finally made contact.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whose Couch Is This? #3

Last week's couch belonged to <drum roll> Quark! 

Now for this week's: 
Hint: This magnificent piece of furniture graced a recurring TNG character.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Random Thoughts, Concerning Flight, Mortal Coil, Waking Moments

First of all, I am, once again, out of my hobbit hole. Scott had to work out of town the last couple days and asked if I'd like to come with him. I said yes and wrote a little webcomic about it and put it over on my tumblr so feel free to go have a look.

Alright, on with the episodes:

Random Thoughts:
This one always pisses me off. I mean, obviously, I guess. It's sort of engineered to provoke internal rage, I think. Random Thoughts is the one where Voyager encounters a non-violent and telepathic culture. Tuvok is totally fangirling over this place until they snatch up B'Elanna for *thinking* a violent thought. She's about to have her brain slightly scrambled (I think that's the technical term) by the alien police when Tuvok worms his way into the seedy underbelly of the seemingly benign culture and uncovers a black market for illicit images. He presents his evidence but he's not in time and B'Elanna still gets a bit scrambled because Janeway says they can't pick and choose which rules they follow...except when they totally do.

Concerning Flight:
This is the one where Janeway and DaVinci go on a big weird adventure together. I read that this one was originally titled "DaVinci's Day Out" and that is 9000% accurate. As much as I always wanted to love this one--my dad's an art history prof, remember? I grew up with this stuff--I just never could warm to it completely. It's fine. A bit of a caper--which I like. And DaVinci is played by the glorious John Rhys-Davis and both Janeway and Tuvok wear some fantastic tourist costumes--I would actually wear Janeway's dress in this episode. You know, I think part of it is that it doesn't really feel very much like a Voyager episode. It feels more like a TNG or, even moreso, like a TOS.

Mortal Coil:
This one always breaks my heart a little bit. The ever-bubbly (over-bubbly?) Neelix is killed in a shuttlecraft accident ( yes, Chakotay is there. Never get in a shuttle with Chakotay) and subsequently resurrected by Seven and her Borg tech. (I think we sort of forget Seven has this super power after this episode but we can just gloss over that.) Neelix is grateful but hesitant about life. He isn't the same man he was before and a big part of that is his loss of faith. Before he left on his fateful voyage, he told a teensy Naomi about the Talaxian afterlife--The Great Forest. But when he died, he didn't go there. He didn't see it. He experienced nothingness. And that totally freaks him out. He has to find a way to cope with life now. Ethan Phillips does a wonderful job here and I love the way Neelix' story has developed and will continue to develop as Voyager soars on.

Waking Moments:
Another Chakota-sode! Guys, seriously, I did not set out to make this My Year Of Chakotay but I'm definitely appreciating this character more this year than before. Anyway, in Waking Moments, Voyager encounters a culture who spend their lives in a dream world and they're determined to mess up everyone else's day because of it. If only they had someone on-board who was like, super spiritual and could like...go on a vision que---Oh wait! They do! Chakotay volunteers to head on down to sickbay and do some serious lucid dreaming. I love this one. It's creep factor is turned all the way up and, as Chakotay falls in and out of dreams in a way that is less fancy but as effective as Inception, he gets closer (with The Doc's help) to saving Voyager. This writing, acting, and directing here all play up the inherent eeriness that we all feel when we wonder whether we're truly awake, truly in control.

Oh! Also, is it just me or does it look like Janeway's nightmare might've been caused by her reading up on the old captain's logs a little too much?

Maybe that's just the ever-present fear of a Starfleet Captain--my crew will die, the environmental controls will no longer function and our bodies will be suspended in ice. 

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