Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: The Emissary

First of all, some good news, my newest graphic essay was recently published over at Neutrons/Protons. It's about dads, death, and video games so, if you feel inclined, you can go check it out. It's called, Growing Up Together.

Second of all, I'm in an editorial phase of work which means that I spend about eight hours a day melting my brain trying to critically read every sentence of a long work and comment on/correct it. So, about midway through the day, I need a break. And that's when I have #LunchWithPicard.  Yesterday, I re-watched The Emissary.

Holy hell, I love this episode. More specifically, I love K'Ehleyr. I love what she brings to this episode and what Suzie Plakson brought to the character. And I love what that character ultimately brought to TNG. Worf has always been an intriguing dude but this opens him up in a way "girlfriend episodes" don't usually do. I think a lot of that is because of the paradoxical way Worf chooses to Klingon. He loves all the crap about honor and death in battle and warrior worship but he's way more stodgy than the other Klingons we've seen. He's not a fan of loud drinking songs, inexplicably yelling everything he says, or bawdy jokes. Dude is uptight. (Later on, in DS9, we finally find out why.)

But this one is just as much (or more) about K'Ehleyr as it is about Worf. Again, this is kinda rare for a girlfriend episode. K'Ehleyr is bi-species: Klingon/Human. And she briefly talks about her experience with Troi, who can sort of relate. Two women. Having a meaningful conversation about their histories and cultures. What show even is this?

K'Ehleyr is unconventional. She speaks her mind and she doesn't let Worf get away with sulkily slinking around the LCARS systems. She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to ask for it. She wears red spandex better than anyone on the Enterprise and has amazing, unapologetic sex with Worf, then tells him how ridiculous it would be for them to get suddenly married. She leads high ranking Starfleet officers in discussions about strategy and though her bias about Klingon attitudes shows she's level headed enough to go along with a smart plan when one is offered.

Even in her exit, K'Ehleyr is amazing. She refuses to let Worf sulk his way through their goodbye and helps him see that, even if they aren't getting married RIGHT THIS SECOND BECAUSE THEY SCHTUPPED they don't have to be on bad terms and can even go on to have a relationship.
In a lot of ways, I feel like they hit something with K'Ehleyr that they wouldn't get again until DS9 and, even more so, with Voyager. (But especially not while Roddenberry was still piloting the ship) An exceptionally well-rounded, complicated female character who's capable of having real discussions (not comforting platitudes or worries about children and boyfriends) with the people around her, capable of being flawed and owning up to it, capable of leadership and of admitting when she's wrong, capable of being unapologetically sexual without being injured or somehow punished by it, capable of just, you know, being a person.

Actually, you know, there are a couple of women in TNG who do this stuff:
Guinan and Pulaski are both full of gumption and realness. Unfortunately, they're both far too underutilized in TNG. I watched all the way into the first episode of season three yesterday which means I got to see Crusher return and spend a lot of time wringing her hands over Wesley's non-problems (not the ship-wide crisis) in Picard's ready room at which point, I made this face:

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the new graphic essay (will read it next), and yeah, K'Ehleyr was a breath of fresh air in the series (although as you point out, the second season was generally good for that with female characters). I think she was a little on the nose, though. I'd have liked it if at least one of them understood the other.


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