Monday, September 26, 2016

The WSW Trek 25: #12-9

Previously: #25-21 #20-17 #16-13

So it's gonna be nothing but TNG and DS9 from here on out. Sorry to fans of the other shows, but those are my two favorites.

#12. "Darmok" (TNG). How popular is this episode? I recently saw on Facebook a meme of the Star Wars version: "Obi-Wan and Luke at Tattooine." I love this ep because it shows what we can accomplish if we take the time to try and listen to the opposition, even if it sounds incomprehensible, even if their actions make no sense, even if they seem hostile. In a time when the left and right in America seem further apart than ever, I think a lot of us could learn a thing or two from this ep. (Apropos of nothing: if I were to go to a Trek con in costume, I would like to go as Paul Winfield's Captain Dathon - assuming I knew how to make that alien makeup.

#11. "The Visitor" (DS9). Break out your handkerchiefs... here comes a tearjerker. Jake Sisko, unlike Wesley Crusher, came across as a normal kid: he got into mischief with his buddy Nog, but he had a good head on his shoulders. He had ambitions that were different from his father's, yet he still received input and supervision from the adults around him. He made mistakes. He had moments of doubt and fear. Through it all, though, he had that palpable bond with his father that couldn't be broken, not by the Borg nor the Cardassians nor the Dominion. This ep is an affirmation of that bond, that love. It was recognizable as a Star Trek episode, yet you could watch it without knowing the first thing about Star Trek. Oh, and if you only know Tony Todd as Candyman, you need to watch him here. Seriously.

#10. "The Best of Both Worlds" (TNG). I've already talked in depth about this two-parter, so I'll add a couple of things. It's not higher on the list because the Part 1 climax is so amazing, nothing in Part 2 can really touch it - an anti-climax, almost. The Riker/Shelby arc is very good and doesn't get talked about often. It's a crying shame we never saw her again after this ep because Shelby is one of the best female characters in all of Trek. Fortunately, she found a second life in the novels. I especially like the scene in Part 2 between Riker and Guinan, another outstanding female character, doing what she does best: acting as the captain's conscience. You don't need me to tell you this is a great ep.

#9. "The Drumhead" (TNG). This episode could have been written yesterday with not a word changed. History is repeating itself again. In the Trek world, the witch hunt involved Romulans. In our world, it's terrorists - and this time, a presidential campaign is counting on fear of them, or at least, of those who look like them, to justify extreme acts. Admiral Satie had a certainty. Because she had a certainty, she never stopped to consider the possibility she was wrong - and as we're discovering now, that is a dangerous thing. Props to Hollywood legend Jean Simmons for her monumental performance in an ep that continues to speak to us today... loudly.

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