Comment Stream

Search and bookmark options Close
Search for:
Search by:

Total Found: 2 (Showing 1-2)

Page 1 of 1
Set Bookmark
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

I'm just watching random episodes and settled on this one tonight. When this series is in its stride the writing is just so good. While your average TNG episode doesn't tend to evoke powerful emotion like a "Duet" from DS9, at the same time the dialogue is so crisp, the actors so much fun, and the nuance is at times is more important than the larger plot. Here we're introduced to Lt. Barclay, who, rather than merely being presented as the odd man out with 'a problem', is instead fleshed out in very short order and rendered as a very human, and also humorous, character. And I don't mean humorous on account of the gags that Schultz managed to work in; I mean that he's actually funny when you get to know him. And that's amazing, because it feels like we do get to know him, and that we actually have to get to know him before we can judge. And for an episode to pull that off in 20-25 minutes is amazing.

Also amazing to me is how the writing never loses sight of the real issue, which is Barclay's suffering. What might have devolved into making fun of his holodiction instead serves as a vehicle for us to ironically laugh at the rest of the cast. Each of them is made to look foolish in the episode. When the real crew encounters their facsimiles and become outraged they somehow come off looking even more foolish. Riker not only fails to keep his dignity in the face of the clown-Riker, but in fact he succumbs entirely and we can see that the shell of composure the crew can put on that Barclay can't may not be as solid as they would like everyone to think. Even Picard is made to look foolish when he accidentally pronounces "Mr. Broccoli." Guinan herself takes Geordi down a peg when he tries to dismiss Barclay's problems. In an episode about a man who feels small, it's amazing that the writers decided to find a way to show how everyone can feel small if they're out of their comfort zone. The difference is that Barclay is always out of his comfort zone.

Barclay's talk with Geordi in Ten-Forward is especially well done, as the writing homed in on the fact that even what we in the audience see Barclay go through is only a glimpse at his discomfort, and when Geordi claims to get it and Barclay says "you *can't* understand," he's quite right, and is indirectly speaking to the audience as well. We feel entitled to judge him because the show's about him, but he tells us clearly we are not equipped to judge what we don't understand. That's as Trek as notion as I can think of.

Special props to one particular line in the show where even Marina Sirtis missed the double meaning. At the start of Deanna's counseling session with Barclay she asks him "Have you ever been with a counselor before?" The phrasing would be odd except that the line is deliberately awkward in order to allude to the fact that Barclay had clearly been having sex with the various incarnations of Deanna in the holodeck. Rather than merely being random fantasy element, it's fairly clear that he is infatuated, or at least attracted to, her specifically. When you listen to the text of the scene it's easy to realize that the entire scene's tension and Barclay's panic are meant to have been caused by that one line, because in asking whether he's "been" with a counselor before, to which he answers "Yes...well no" it's clear that in his mind he's mixing up fantasy with reality and knows he can't keep it straight well enough to interact with her properly. The rest of the scene, rather than being merely a vaguely nervous scene with a man afraid of counselling, is obviously supposed to be Deanna further and further doing things that the holo-Deanna probably had already done with Barclay, but as romantic preludes - turning down the lights, telling him to close his eyes, etc. It's all ambiguously sexual enough to make Barclay go nuts. By the end we should know exactly why he needs to get the hell out of there, and although the scene is decently funny as it is it should have been drop dead hilarious. The writing certainly is, but both the director and Sirtis missed it. Pity.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that another episode I find myself admiring greatly is one of Cliff Bole's, who apparently could masterfully write for many styles and bring out character nuances few other writers ever did.
Set Bookmark
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

@ Skeptical

I think I understand exactly why everyone in our modern feminist culture is up in arms about the McGivers story. A tyrannical man overpowers a woman, she falls for it like a true victim, likes it, and the male oppression over the woman is glamorized as the loves story in the episode. Except that's not what's happening at all. This episode is far smarter than people are willing to accept. They want to look back on it as a dated artifact of a more sexist time, and so judge is with a sense of retrospective superiority. This may well be justifiable in some instances in TOS, such as how Yeoman Rand was used some of the time, but not in this episode. Space Seed knows exactly what it's doing and it already has feminism in mind when it shows an advanced woman who knows better still falling for a despot.

The whole point of that subplot, in fact, is precisely that no matter how advanced mankind gets culturally and intellectually, some core instincts will remain, one of which is the admiration of power. The reason McGivers is special isn't because she's too primitive to reject Khan; it's because she's too advanced to fool herself into thinking she wants to. She's an historian, and her specialty is essentially inspecting those darker parts of humanity that the utopian society would like to pretend have been washed away by 'progress.' She *knows* some part of her is called to powerful men, and I believe the case the episode is making is that she isn't the only one - that it may even be species-wide - and that one runs the danger of ceasing to know oneself if one pretends to be so superior that one is perfect. This is a far more nuanced view of the future of mankind than is presented in early TNG, at any rate, although we must grant the chronological difference between the series as well.

I love the story with McGivers, because it explicitly shows her comprehending how illogical it is to be attracted to Khan, and yet also being honest enough to admit it when Khan tells her how she feels. He also gives her a free choice, and it was no trick. He wouldn't have wanted to be with someone who he merely dominated. He wanted to be followed willingly, and indeed at the end of the episode when she chooses him over Starfleet he praises her; and this is quite the statement since she's an ordinary human. The fact that the willingness had to be in the form of basically worshipping him may seem 'unfair' or something, but that's what he had to offer and he only offered it to her because she wanted it. For another interesting story about how worship may be of more value than reason, see or read the play Equus.

That he wanted willing followers is also the explanation behind why his trying to turn the crew by torturing Kirk wasn't stupid at all. Granted, maybe torturing Kirk as such wasn't the best option compared to humiliating him in some other way, but basically Khan didn't merely want to win; he wanted those whom he defeated to recognize they lost *because* he was superior. Once they understood that, he assumed they might join him willingly, rather than under duress. He had no need for slaves; he wanted loyal followers who valued strength and greatness. He probably knew most of them wouldn't even be suitable for that life no matter what he did to them, but those few who might be susceptible would be worth his effort. This is very close, conceptually, to Dukat's speech to Weyoun in DS9 about crushing your enemies being the wrong way to go about victory. One must keep them alive, and force them to recognize the error of ever having opposed you in the first place. That's what's happening here, and with someone possibly on even footing with Dukat for having delusions of grandeur.
Page 1 of 1
▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2018 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.