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Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Jean-Luc as St. Jude — Star Trek: Picard’s “Absolute Candor”

And so Jean-Luc Picard has finally gotten off Earth, so now the action can start, right?

Well, sorta kinda. Picard makes a stop on the way to Freecloud (to Musiker’s annoyance), and we get yet still more backstory and exposition, as well as at least a little bit of action, as well as a couple of amusing original-series callbacks.

Having said that, we’ve gotten more cultural details about the Romulan people in these four episodes of Picard than in the entirety of the previous 53 years’ worth of TV shows and movies, so there’s that…

[The existential pain of living with the consciousness of death and how it defines us as human beings.]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Ex Post Facto”

“Ex Post Facto”
Written by Evan Carlos Somers and Michael Piller
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 1, Episode 7
Production episode 108
Original air date: February 27, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Paris is on a couch on an alien world, being asked what he sees. He is reliving a person with a ridiculous hairdo being murdered, apparently by Paris himself after being caught with his wife, whose hairdo is even more ridiculous. He has been punished for killing Tolen Ren by reliving his death from Ren’s own point of view.

[Believe it or not, I know more about mind-melds than you do. I know what every Vulcan doctor has said in every study of mind-melds, and I still cannot tell you what will happen if you do this.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Eye of the Needle”

“Eye of the Needle”
Written by Hilary J. Bader and Bill Dial and Jeri Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 1, Episode 6
Production episode 107
Original air date: February 20, 1995
Stardate: 48579.4

Captain’s log. Kim has picked up subspace emissions that could indicate a wormhole. The only way to be sure is to get closer, but it’s off their course home. Janeway and Chakotay agree it’s worth the detour.

[If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that I am the last to be told about anything that happens on this ship.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“Engage!” — Star Trek: Picard’s “The End is the Beginning”

I have to admit that when the caption came up identifying Raffi Musiker’s home in the third episode of Star Trek: Picard as Vasquez Rocks, I squeed, loudly. I mean, it obviously was shot at the iconic rocks that have been used in pretty much every single Trek production at some point or other, but it’s always been to represent an alien landscape of some sort. For the first time, it’s been used as itself, and to have the caption was just delightful.

Yes, it’s a dumb, nerdy pleasure, but when you’ve got a 54-year-old franchise, dumb, nerdy pleasures are part of the fun.

[So are we excited? Intimidated? Maybe a teensy bit starstruck?]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “The Cloud”

“The Cloud”
Written by Brannon Braga and Tom Szollosi and Michael Piller
Directed by David Livingston
Season 1, Episode 5
Production episode 106
Original air date: February 13, 1995
Stardate: 48546.2

Captain’s log. Voyager has found a nebula that is full of omicron particles. Hoping they can be used to increase their power supply, and maybe get the replicators online so she doesn’t have to keep drinking Neelix’s awful coffee substitute, Janeway orders the ship into the nebula.

[“I found this place just after my pocket was picked walking by the harbor.” “Somebody picked your pocket on Earth?” “Oh, they just do it for tourists. They give it back… most of the time.”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Phage”

“Phage”
Written by Timothy DeHaas and Skye Dent and Brannon Braga
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 1, Episode 4
Production episode 105
Original air date: February 6, 1995
Stardate: 48532.4

Captain’s log. Voyager is en route to a planetoid that has readings indicating huge deposits of dilithium. They arrive, and Neelix bullies his way onto the away team, as he’s been preparing for it all week. Janeway inexplicably once again gives in to Neelix’s whims and he beams down with Chakotay and Kim.

[“Then they tell me there’s no nurses, so I have no one to assist me.” “I thought Tom Paris was assigned to you.” “Like I said, no one to assist me…”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“For a relic, you’re in excellent shape!”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Maps and Legends”

Where “Remembrance” was full of both action and exposition, the second episode of Star Trek: Picard takes a step back and goes full exposition. It’s rather impressive how little actually happens in this episode—seriously, there’s, like, twelve minutes’ worth of plot movement here—but we do learn a great deal, and it’s all fascinating—

—though I’m not entirely sure all of it is convincing.

[“You need someone who hates you and has nothing to lose.” “I’ve already made the call.”]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Time and Again”

“Time and Again”
Written by David Kemper and Michael Piller
Directed by Les Landau
Season 1, Episode 3
Production episode 104
Original air date: January 30, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Paris goes off duty, turning things over to the second-shift conn officer, and then inveigles Kim to go on a date with the Delaney sisters down in Stellar Cartography. Kim has a girlfriend back home, and he wants to stay faithful. Paris tells him he’s being a moron. He also lied to the Delaney sisters about something he did at the Academy, to Kim’s horror. Paris asks how they’re going to check, and I dunno, maybe use the library computer on their super-spiffy-keen spaceship?

[If I understood correctly, this world is going to be destroyed some time tomorrow…..]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Parallax”

“Parallax”
Written by Jim Trombetta and Brannon Braga
Directed by Kim Friedman
Season 1, Episode 2
Production episode 103
Original air date: January 23, 1995
Stardate: 48439.7

Captain’s log. Deputy Chief Engineer Joe Carey is in sickbay with a broken nose, having been punched in same by Torres. Carey is livid. Tuvok wishes to confine Torres to the brig, while Chakotay just has her confined to quarters for now. He wants to make Torres chief engineer, a notion that Tuvok is dubious about, but Chakotay orders Tuvok to let him handle it. Tuvok agrees, but will make a note in his security log.

[Sometimes you just have to punch your way through…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Back to the Future — Star Trek: Picard’s “Remembrance”

The opening of Picard’s premiere episode is pure fan service: we’ve got the Enterprise-D flying through space just like it was on The Next Generation, we’ve got Data back in his old uniform, we’ve got Ten-Forward, we’ve got a poker game (a running gag that got its start in the episode “The Measure of a Man,” far from the last callback to that episode we’ll see in this first hour), and we’ve got Bing Crosby singing “Blue Sky,” which Data sang at the Riker-Troi wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis.

It’s all a dream, of course. But the fan service doesn’t end there….

[I don’t want the game to end….]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Caretaker”

“Caretaker”
Written by Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 1, Episode 1
Production episode 101
Original air date: January 16, 1995
Stardate: 48315.6

Captain’s log. A crawl explains the existence of the Maquis, who are rebels against a Federation-Cardassian treaty that ceded disputed territories to each side regardless of who was living there. Gul Evek is chasing a Maquis ship into the Badlands. Maquis engineer B’Elanna Torres takes the weapons offline to add impulse power so Chakotay, the cell’s leader, can get into the Badlands. Tuvok of Vulcan thinks this is a bad idea, but goes along.

Evek follows them into the Badlands, to Chakotay’s surprise, and is damaged. Chakotay avoids a plasma storm, but then is hit by a tetryon beam of unknown origin.

[“We were warned about the Ferengi at the Academy.” “Warned about Ferengi, were you?” “That’s right.” “Slurs, about my people, at Starfleet Academy!” “What I meant was…” “Here I am, trying to be a cordial host!”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“That’s life” — Joker

Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 was a massive hit, so much so that National Periodical Publications gave him his own title in 1940, though he also continued to star in Detective Comics.

Batman’s villain in the debut issue of his eponymous comic was the Joker. The story of the character’s creation is a he said/he said mess among Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson, but they all at least agree that the Joker’s look was inspired by Conrad Veidt in the 1928 movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs and a joker playing card.

He quickly became Batman’s arch-villain, and has remained so for eighty years.

[I just hope that my death makes more cents than my life…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Introducing the Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch!

Twenty-five years ago today, the United Paramount Network debuted with the premiere episode of the third live-action Star Trek spinoff, Voyager. The first Trek show to have a female lead, Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, joined Kirk, Picard, and Sisko in the ranks of Trek captains. She was joined by a cast that included Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo, Robert Duncan MacNeill, plus a few people not named Robert: Roxann Dawson, Ethan Phillips, Jennifer Lien, Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, and, later, Jeri Ryan.

Every Monday and Thursday, starting next week, Tor.com will run my rewatch of an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Yes, really.

[Yes, it’s really a Voyager rewatch. Honest…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“I’m going to help my family” — X-Men: Dark Phoenix

One of the most popular stories in comics history, the extended storyline that cemented the X-Men’s place in the late 1970s and early 1980s as Marvel’s new flagship title, was the “Dark Phoenix” saga, which culminated in the death of Phoenix in 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #137. Co-plotted by scripter Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, the story saw founding member Jean Grey become corrupted by her power, thanks to mental manipulation by the longtime X-villain Mastermind.

This storyline has been adapted several times in screen versions of the X-Men, including once before in the Fox live-action series. The cowriter of that film, Simon Kinberg, took advantage of the time-travel shenanigans of Days of Future Past to take a mulligan on The Last Stand and do it all over again, this time as both writer and director.

[“I have no desire to fight you.” “I get that a lot.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

School Daze — Star Trek’s “Children of Mars”

Star Trek has never provided a particularly imaginative future. This isn’t really a problem, as such. Science fiction isn’t always—or even often—in the business of accurately predicting the future. And Star Trek in particular has always been more about commenting about the contemporary world than providing a possibly accurate lens to the future.

Because of this, Trek’s track record with schools is hilariously unimaginative, as we see in the last Short Treks episode of this batch, “Children of Mars.”

[We can be heroes, just for one day……]

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