#41 – Not to be confused with Roy Orbison

18 Comments on #41 – Not to be confused with Roy Orbison

It’s a funny thing about the Deep Space Nine pilot: they let two people have orb sects fantasias earlier-life visions, but only two of them. Which seems like kind of a tease, structurally: if there was only one vision quest sort of deal in the whole episode — Sisko’s flashback to his wife on the beach — then that’d feel totally fine and would if anything help underscore the uniqueness of his situation as the Emissary to the Prophets and yadda yadda.

But then they give Jadzia a quick trip back into her experience becoming a Trill host. Which sets up a conspicuous pattern, and gets me as the viewer thinking, okay, so this is part of how we’ll get a tiny glimpse of some backstory for this whole principal cast, that’s sort of clever in its own way, and–

But nope! After that, no more orbing in the episode. Everybody else just has to suck it up and do character defining things or work some expository humblebrags into their dialogue. (Yes, there’s the later Sisko And The Prophets thing that eats up the tail end of the pilot, but that’s just more Sisko and it’s not really the same Revealing Glimpse At Character vision thing in any case.)

The question in my mind then becomes this: did an earlier draft of the script have orb flashbacks for more characters, and they got trimmed for flow/time? Or did it have just the Sisko flashback but they felt they had to add one for Dax as well to reinforce her symbiosis visually and/or to establish more unambiguously that the orb was a multi-use vision machine or otherwise powerful/active artifact? Or was this two-and-out false pattern setup just the specific feel they wanted from early on?

Maybe I should blame Lost for depending so consistently and recently on the reinforcing “each episode will have a featured character flashback element” structure of its writing. For all my complaining there’s no reason that exactly two flashbacks should be seen as some kind of terrible crime against television plotting; I’m just kvetching freestyle here. But still: it does stand out to me. Pecks at my brain a little. It’s a little pecker. (Riker: [sassy grin])

#40 – The Dukat is out of the bag

20 Comments on #40 – The Dukat is out of the bag

Hey, it’s Dukat! He’s totally a guy who is in this game now. Will he remain an NPC property of Geordi? Will someone else pick up the reins? I honestly have no idea yet! I’d say it’d be good for Geordi to stick with him because he could use the practice interacting (even clumsily/icily) with Kira, but then I remember that Kira is actually Data and I’m not sure that someone who needs to get used to talking to girls is gonna get a lot of mileage out of being yelled at by an andromorphic robot in brain-drag.

And I get a feeling that Picard is gonna be man-crushing on Dukat a little bit in any case. Imposing? Leadership skills? Is drily sarcastic in a tete-a-tete? Finally, a worthy frenemy!

In totally unrelated dumb-humor-stuff-I-make news, here’s The Autocorrected Bible to help kick off your weekend.

#39 – more like miles o’beamin

23 Comments on #39 – more like miles o’beamin

Miles and Keiko! Where have you guys been? What jerk hasn’t been giving you any strip time? I really do like writing these two, honest, there’s just been so much pilot plot getting in the way. Blame Geordi!

But so really my feeling about what is going on here is that (a) everybody has a job, (b) everybody has things they don’t like about their job, and (c) everybody vents to somebody about that stuff they don’t like, right? Even if you love your job, it still has its moments. Even in the post-scarcity utopia of tomorrow, that seems like a given, more so on the Enterprise for everybody who isn’t at the top of the pecking order and constantly having big adventures.

So Miles meets Keiko, they hit it off, maybe Keiko’s not really in love with her botany assignment on Enterprise, she complains about work to him, he complains about work to her, it’s a bonding thing. But there’s this asymmetry, right, where he actually really digs his job, a lot more than she does hers — maybe he’s the kid with the Tonka truck who grows up to work in construction, except for transporters on starships — and so she’s essentially created this larger-than-life sympathetic negativity about his career. In her mind he hates that he’s stuck beaming people around, hates that he’s not captain of his own ship or whatever; it’s a mix of projection of her own job dissatisfaction and a sense of care for and loyalty to him as the new important person in her life.

But then that all spools out inappropriately in public. Like things do. Et voila! And so: drama. And one probably shouldn’t engage in drama at Picard’s expense, even Ha Ha Just Kidding But No Really drama. But at least it’s a game, so there’s plausible deniability. I don’t really feel like this is going to help Miles get promoted, though, Keiko.

#38 – …was how to pistol-hands somebody who outdrew ya, hallelujah

20 Comments on #38 – …was how to pistol-hands somebody who outdrew ya, hallelujah

I had such a good time following the comments from friday’s strip talking about Picard’s complicated romantic relationship with Bev that this seemed like a good next bit to tackle. And for a guy who was just giving other people a hard time for breaking character, Picard sure is having trouble keeping it together here.

The question in my mind is this: is Bev actually wanting to flirt with Riker, or is she just enjoying having Dax flirt with Bashir? Or is the latter allowing an excuse for the former? Or is she mostly just using this as an excuse to get up Jean Luc’s shirt a little bit and make him uncomfortable? Or some sort of n-dimensional chess gambit to get him to wake up and smell the Crusher? And is Picard thinking through the “why would you go after her, she’s super old and gross?” argument?

I feel like maybe none of them have thought this through super carefully, in any case. Off-screen: Troi taking copious notes.

#37 – Let Sleeping Jakes Lie

37 Comments on #37 – Let Sleeping Jakes Lie

Context for the DS9 non-obsessives, this is extrapolated significantly from a very short scene in the pilot.

But, yes: I feel like Picard is really just wanting to read a nice Choose Your Own Adventure story in the privacy of his quarters. This whole group-interaction thing seems like it’s not really clicking for him.

Which, compare and contrast with the holodeck I guess, where he often seemed a bit stilted in dealing with surprises but didn’t get outright annoyed (at least usually) at the computer when games went in unexpected directions. Perhaps the distance of it just being The Computer helped keep him in check? Whereas here, he’s among people whom he trusts and relies on to Get Things Done during duty hours but they’ve all let their hair down and he can’t really command them to do anything at all in this context. And they keep doing the wrong things!

Also, I will never really stop finding the weird dynamic between Picard and Bev and Wes on the show interesting. I wish there had been a bit more to it in practice — we get a few different peeks into the sense of potential romance between Picard and Bev throughout the show, even a couple of genuine close calls, but it’s mostly kept at a stodgy, stoic, British Historical Costume Drama level of restraint and repressed emotion that may make for really cathartic shippin’ fanfic or whatever but is just sort of a letdown in the show itself.

I’m not saying Jean Luc and Beverly should have gotten together in the regular run of the series, I’m just saying it’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t get to see a more interesting portrait of why they didn’t. Dig a bit further into why they’d work and why they wouldn’t, really test in detail the conflict between Picard’s sense of duty and his attraction to not just Bev but the idea of a family life, suss out some more of the complicated feelings they must all have about Bev’s dead husband, Wes’ dead father, and Picard’s role at the time as CO and now as a close connection to that ugly time as well as his role as a sort of (however unwilling) proxy father figure to Wes himself.

But with Next Gen the whole episodic, status-quo-restored-weekly style of plot construction probably made that difficult to do in the way I’d have preferred. So the three of them spending some time playing around in the long-form sandbox that is Deep Space Nine might be good for them. Where of course I mean the version of them that lives in my head. So: good for me? I guess? This is a strange hobby I have lately.

Speaking, on what is otherwise the oddest possible tangent, of strange hobbies, another one that I have as of very lately is drawing pictures of US Presidents as if they were birds, complete with semi-punnish bird names and bird epigraphs. So if you’re like “this star trek / RPG humorjoke stuff is fine but what I’m really in the mood for is staid pen-and-ink portraiture of avian politicians”, this is your lucky day.

Also, I probably spent more time debating with friends what to use for x and y in the final panel’s “as alike as x and y” construction as I did putting together the rest of the ship. I put some of our other ideas in the mouseover title text. Feel free to share your own in the comments.