I <3 the Borg

borg1

I have heard of the Borg. I had not, until this week, seen them in my Star Trek Voyager. Yes, it is mine.

Initial reaction: they are cool. Scary. Ominous. Imposing. Powerful. I like them as an enemy. Much, much better than the Videan’s or the Kazon’s, which is what the Delta Quadrant has thrown at us so far. Also, I have to say that for a race of robotic beings on sci-fi television, I prefer the Borg to Stargate’s Replicators. There was something not threatening about the Replicators. They were more like bugs than a scary race. Perhaps the Borg are more frightening because they assimilate humans. The Replicators just make more, and more, and more, and more of themselves…until Sam Carter finds a way to disrupt their communication field.

Note: The introduction of the Borg means that we get to meet Seven of Nine very soon. ūüôā

Advertisements

Tampering with Sexuality in 1996

I can only give props to Voyager for the themes it took on in the episode “Warlord.” ¬†The basic plot synopsis is that Kes is taken over by the mind of an individual who has just died. ¬†This individual was a man and a military leader of his people. ¬† Most of the episode was unremarkable except for the 45 second(ish) bit where they tackled sexuality. ¬†Kes was now inhabited by the mind of a man who was in a relationship with a woman. ¬† In an attempt to assure the woman that the man (but now Kes) still loved her, Kes went in for a kiss.¬† *Gasp!

Of course, some random alien had to walk in and interrupt the kiss before it began, but this was at the height of the TV Subtext Era (as I lovingly refer to it)…it was to be expected. ¬†For an air date of 1996, I would say this is darn progressive. ¬† To put it in perspective, around the same time we have Xena and Gabrielle exploring similar issues in “A Day in the Life.” ¬†Buffy and the Willow/Tara relationship¬†is still a gleam in Joss Whedon’s eye, Will and Grace doesn’t start for another 2 years, and Queer as Folk doesn’t hit until 2000. ¬†There were very few TV shows dealing with these topics in 1996. ¬†Again, I say “props to Voyager.”

warlord

If you think about it though, it only makes sense. ¬†In fact, I think if a new series were to spin off today that there would be even more gender/sexuality boundary pushing. ¬†Why? ¬†These are aliens people! ¬†If a Klingon and a human can get married why not two people of the same species. ¬†I can just hear the Star Trek mothers of the future chatting about this over coffee, “Why can’t my son just date a nice human? ¬†I mean Vulcan’s are logical and all, but I always thought we would have the wedding here on Earth.”

Voyager/Frasier Humor

This is amazing!¬† Enjoy…

“Tuvix” Season 2, Episode 24

 tuvix

This episode is an exploration of the old adage “when life gives you lemons” what do you do?¬† Tuvok and Neelix were combined into one being during a transporter accident.¬† Arguably this caused the death of our two crew-mates.¬† The new being created, who called himself Tuvix, contained whispers of Tuvok and Neelix, but was really his own person.

For several weeks the doctor tried to find a way to reverse the accident.¬† By the time a reversal procedure was found, Tuvix has found a place among the crew.¬† He has accepted Tuvok’s security responsibilities and he cooked better than Neelix.¬† Tuvix is his own person with friends and an identity different and distinct from those who are apart of him.

All of a sudden, what was a light hearted episode where we got to watch bits of our favorite characters shine through in Mr. Tuvix, suddenly takes a sharp turn towards the somber.¬† When Captain Janeway informs Tuvix that the doctor has found a way to reverse the process he immediately responds, “I don’t want to die.”¬† Powerful.

Janeway is now burdened with the decision of whether to kill one man to save two.  Tuvok, her normal advisor in difficult matters such as this, is unavailable.  The only person we see who attempts to advocate to the captain on behalf of either side is Kes: she wants Neelix back.

The conclusion of this episode is gut wrenching.  In her ready room Janeway suddenly stands, takes a deep breath, and walks towards the bridge.  We know she has made a decision.  We even know what decision she makes as Tuvok and Neelix are in future episodes.  I did not, however, begrudge her the next conversation she was going to have informing Tuvix that he was about to die.

In a desperate plea for his life Tuvix begins running about the bridge appealing to anyone who will listen that this is wrong.  He is going to die to bring back two people of whom nature has all ready claimed the lives.  He recognizes his attempts are futile.  Security is summoned and Janeway escorts Tuvix to sickbay.

The music playing in the background is close to a funeral dirge.¬† Not typically what you would think of when we are about to see the return of two of our heros.¬† Upon entering sickbay the doctor says that he will not perform the procedure as he will not take the life of a person against his will.¬† The task, once again, falls to Janeway.¬† Watching her complete the separation is painful.¬† When Tuvok and Neelix appear before us the only person who cheers is Kes.¬† Janeway looks over to the two men says, “Mr. Tuvok.¬† Mr. Neelix.” and then she walks out of the room on shaky legs.¬† When the door closes behind her she looks like she is going to be sick.¬† I think I would too.

Kate Mulgrew’s acting in this episode was incredible.¬† I really felt the severity and painful nature of her decision.¬† She did not falter, though.¬† Janeway is every bit a captain.¬† Did she have the right to decide who lives and who dies?¬† I think the decision she made was the right one.¬† I do not, however, envy her the execution of that choice.

Seeing Double

“Deadlock”
Star Trek Voyager

Season 2, Episode 21

Instead of going on and on about how this was, yet another, incredible episode of Voyager I would just like to point out one funny similarity I noticed between Voyager and Stargate SG-1.  It is not, of course, the first time I have noticed a correlation, but I thought this one was worthy of a mention.

Due to a sub-space disruption two Voyager’s were caught in the same space: both in dire straights.¬† To communicate with one another in a more efficient fashion Captain Janeway from one reality crosses the rip in space-time to speak to herself in the other reality.¬† If it sounds confusing just imagine meeting yourself and run with that.¬† The two Janeway’s had great interactions.¬† Both of them were leaders and had the best interests of their crews at heart.¬† In spite of their similarities they did bicker a bit, but it was all resolved with the steely Janeway “mama knows best” look.

deadlock

I was reminded of Stargate SG-1 during this episode because there were a few times throughout the series when we got to see two Carter’s working together.¬† The two Janeway’s discussing the best course of action to merge the two realities back together was strikingly similar to the two Carter’s getting their geek on in Stargate.

carters

Which came first?¬† Voyager’s two Janeway’s?¬† Stargate’s Carter’s?¬† Eh, it’s the whole chicken and egg debate. ¬† If I had more time to research I am sure I could come up with an answer.¬† Regardless, it is a great plot and a fun story path to walk down.¬† It really doesn’t matter who did it first.¬† Seeing the challenges of having to work with yourself played out in front of you is funny, and oh so interesting to consider.

“Meld” – Season 2, Episode 16

What a great episode!¬† Murder on Voyager.¬† Wow.¬† I am only 16 episodes in and I can tell that this is not a show to shy away from challenging or potentially divisive issues.¬† The bulk of “Meld” focuses on Tuvok’s reactions to the murder and it’s perpetrator.¬† Motive eludes the Vulcan for most of the episode.¬† It was not until he became who he was trying to understand that he discovered that sometimes human violence is not founded upon a clear motive.¬† Sometimes a look is all it takes.

tuvokMy favorite theme in “Meld” is the discussion surrounding violence.¬† Tuvok, as a Vulcan, does not understand violence because he is able to suppress the emotion/action.¬† After the murder upon Voyager it is Tuvok’s responsibility to find the criminal.¬† When it becomes clear who the murderer was Tuvok want’s to understand his motive.¬† He goes so far as to employ the Vulcan mind meld.¬†¬† After using this technique he not only comes to understand the murderer’s motive, he also inherits the violent tendencies of the murderer.¬† While Tuvok is no longer able to suppress his emotions or actions concerning violence the murderer now has the cool control of a Vulcan.

Tuvok soon discovers what is happening to him (there was a funny, yet troubling scene where he simulates killing Neelix in the holodeck).¬† To try and make sense of the situation he appeals to the murderer.¬† With steady Vulcan control the murderer says that violence cannot be controlled and that Tuvok even engaged in a violent act when he employed the mind meld.¬† It was “your will dissolving mine.” ¬† What a fantastic turn of the tide.¬† As a law student we frequently have discussions in class that explore possible new crimes.¬† Maybe the murderer is right.¬† Using telepathic ability to merge your mind with that of another (even with consent) could be deemed as a violent invasion of property. ¬† At the end of the episode we see Tuvok restored to his calm self. ¬† This is, of course, after extreme bouts of rage, verbally abusing the captain and the doctor, and physical assaults.

Since “Meld” was so rich in complex themes I will list my other favorite topics.

1. Gambling.¬† Lt. Paris began a gambling outfit on Voyager.¬† Like most casino owners, Paris was reaping the benefits of being the handler.¬† Chakotay put an end to the operation very quickly.¬† It was a waste of the ships hard won resources, he said.¬† Though this may be true, I find it hard to believe that a ship so bent on personal freedom would not allow its crew to spend their “hard won rations” as they saw fit.¬† There was no similar problem on Battlestar Galactica as we saw the viper pilots gambling weekly for the first few seasons.¬† Interesting that Voyager does not allow this form of recreation.

2.¬† Tuvok suggest the captain consider the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for the murderer.¬† Janeway flat refuses.¬† What a powerful stance, and I think spot on for where the world is (or ought to be) heading.¬† The United States is currently the only “developed nation” that still uses the death penalty.¬† It isn’t too far a stretch to believe that the Federation would have a similar policy in the future.

3.  Tuvok used the holodeck to simulate killing Neelix.   I guess you have to assume that if you have a holodeck crew will use it in various ways.  A few episodes ago we saw Janeway participating in a holo-novel where she seemed to have a romantic relationship with one of the characters.  I plan on investigating this topic further, but it is an incredibly interesting concept.  If you have the technology to simulate anything how do you regulate it?  Do you regulate it at all?

4. I struggled a little bit with the writers intentions when the murderer said that he felt nothing after killling the victim.¬† No remorse.¬† Nothing at all.¬† I began to wonder how this was so very different from Tuvok suppressing all of his emotions.¬† Tuvok has said many times that he does not feel.¬† I think they were trying to make the viewer discern the clear difference between Tuvok and the murderer.¬† As far as I can tell the answer all boils down to control.¬† Tuvok does not feel emotions but he does not act.¬† The murderer does feel extreme emotion occasionally that causes him to act out violently.¬† It’s an interesting dichotomy.

5.¬† How are Vulcan’s different from robots or holograms?¬† I plan on exploring this topic further as my viewing progresses, but initially it is hard to tell.¬† Tuvok acts completely based on logic, so do computers.¬† Interesting.

The Ultimate Question: Where to begin?

An avid fan of science fiction from the moment I saw Agent Mulder’s “The Truth is Out There” poster in high school, it was really only a matter of time before I started watching Star Trek.¬† Couple this inevitable occurrence with the easily available DVD TV series and I ran out of excuses.¬† Star Trek is a huge empire though.¬† Where in this galaxy was I supposed to begin?

Some folks urged me to start at the beginning.¬† That sounded reasonable to me.¬† Captain Kirk.¬† Mr. Spok.¬† Scottie.¬† I mean these are all of the Star Trek characters of legend.¬† I wasn’t feeling it though.¬† I find older shows a bit difficult to watch sometimes if I am not really interested in the story line.¬† So, the original series was out for my beginning point.

In my youth I had watched a few episodes of The Next Generation and enjoyed it very much.¬† In fact, I’ve seen all of the TNG feature films.¬† Still wasn’t there for me though…

Enterprise…¬† Eh, I really didn’t want to start with Scott Bakula.¬† I think that would have ruined it for me. ¬† Star Trek fan sites also seemed to rank it at the bottom so I felt confident in checking that one off the list fairly quickly.¬† I think I’ll probably watch it last.

My best friend from law school last year is a big Deep Space Nine fan.¬† Usually agreeing with her in taste, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.¬† Sadly, the opportunity to watch a DS9 episode never happened upon me.¬† In effect, it’s going to have to settle for 2nd place in my series viewing.

That leaves only one, Star Trek Voyager.¬† I LOVE IT!¬† Last week I was flipping through the channels in my afternoon break before class and I caught the beginning of Voyager.¬† It was great.¬† I DVR’d that episode (“The 37’s,” episode 1 of season 2) and I haven’t missed an episode yet.¬† I plan on Netflix(ing) the first season in the near future so I am all caught up.

Why Voyager?  The answer is simple, Janeway.

janeway

I have an absolute weakness for powerful female leads on television.¬† Xena.¬† Scully.¬† Buffy.¬† Colonel Carter.¬† I think they are all wonderful, and Janeway is an excellent addition to the list.¬† Perhaps I like them because I, as a woman, aspire to have similar strength, courage, and wisdom.¬† Or, perhaps (and probably more correctly) I like those qualities in all people.¬† I just think it’s cool when the women kick butt!

Anyway, I am beginning my Star Trek endeavor stranded in the Delta Quadrant with the crew of the Starship Voyager somewhere in the middle of their second year.

Hello world!

startreklogo

After many years as a sci-fi fan I decided to bite the bullet and begin watching Star Trek.¬† I know.¬† I know.¬† I’m light years behind the lot of you, but fire up the FTL drives because I am all ready hooked.

I know my enthusiasm may be strong, but I think it is precisely what one needs when deciding to view 5 seperate TV series with a combined total of 28 (29 including the animated series) seasons.¬† I’m in for the long haul folks.

My hope is that this blog will serve as a “captain’s log” for my reactions to episodes, characters, and all the 24th century has to offer.¬† By the end of it all I hope to be fully assimilated as a trekkie.

I am going boldly.