#blog #writing #StarTrek #TNG #MEcfs #therapy #mentalhealth #faith
#blog #writing #StarTrek #TNG #MEcfs #therapy #mentalhealth #faith
Duet is a heartrending episode where a Cardassian, claiming originally to be the filing clerk Marritza turns up on DS9 needing treatment from Kolla narra syndrome, which he could only have contracted during the mining accident.
He is then suspected to in fact be Gul Darhe’el, the butcher of the Gallitep concentration camp on Bajor But it turns out that Gul Darhe’el was never at Gallitep during the mining accident, and in fact Darhe’el had died some time ago. Gul Dukat confirms that he attended his funeral.
The man was indeed Marritza, the powerless little filing clerk, who felt so terribly guilty about his inability to stop the atrocities at Gallitep that he had transformed himself with plastic surgery to resemble Darhe’el in order to be convicted and pay for the crimes for which he felt responsible.
“I covered my ears every night, but… I couldn’t bear to hear those horrible screams. You have no idea what it’s like to be a coward. To see these horrors, and do nothing. Marritza’s dead. He deserves to be dead.”
It is like a sad duet between Marritza and Kira Nerys who goes from prejudice, hatred and vengeful anger to understanding and pity. It might have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship of reconciliation, until finally Marritza is murdered by a rogue, racist Bajoran on the Promenade, in typical operatic style, the story ends as a tragedy.
“Why? He wasn’t Darhe’el! WHY?” Kira asks incredulously, and Kainon answers with a sneer, “He’s a Cardassian. That’s reason enough.” Kira replies, “No. It’s not.”
My children are often deeply shocked and angered by the portrayal of racism and prejudice shown within Star Trek. But it is always presented in such a way – either openly or subtly, that is designed to make you shocked enough to realise that it’s not logical or rational and is in fact completely inconsistent with Star Fleet ideals and Roddenberry’s vision for the future. It shines the spotlight on our own prejudices and challenges them. Kira doesn’t completely abandon her prejudice toward Cardassians of course (how could she? the atrocities they perpetrated against the Bajoran people happened in her lifetime, and it’s hard for her to accept that not all Cardassians are evil).
I’m a white female. I don’t feel particularly privileged, but I am aware that the colour of my skin as well as my gender affects how people view me, and treat me. I don’t like to think of myself as a racist. I grew up in a multicultural school in London, my friends were a mixed bunch which included all colours and creeds, and my best friend was Caribbean. But I told my children recently that, in order to confront racism, it is important to realise how the prejudice is so culturally ingrained and the system is so firmly institutionalised that we probably have prejudices we’re not even conscious of. We have to be honest and confront the prejudice in ourselves as well as speaking up to defend the oppressed and speak out when the system is so outrageously stacked against people of colour.
I’m in the UK, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that the killing by a police officer of Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and four year old daughter failed to return a conviction of murder. It is only the latest in a string of killings of young black men – who were guilty of nothing more than being young black men – by police officers that has failed to produce a guilty verdict. I’m sickened, appalled, heartbroken over and over again.
Where do we go from here? When will things change?
Why do these prejudices persist?
What can we do to change the world, change people’s minds, bring down institutional racism?
Is Roddenberry’s vision – of an enlightened society – possible?
The station crew are struck down by a ‘telepathic matrix’ brought on board by a Klingon who dies on arrival. The matrix causes everyone to become randomly obsessed and Kira mounts a mutiny with the rest of the crew taking sides. Sisko, though, seems completely disinterested in the whole managing the station thing, and instead locks himself in his office and obsesses over blueprints which he eventually uses to build a clock.
I’m not sure why.
Dax meanwhile does nothing but reminisce about old times with previous hosts, seeming pretty oblivious about the mutiny. In the end, Odo, who is unaffected by the matrix (although it knocked him out when it tried to affect him) works out a way to assemble all the affected crew together and defeat the matrix by blasting it out into space, and everybody is alright again.
Probably the most interesting thing about this episode is the way Kira and O’Brien both fight for Odo’s loyalty, and Kira basically tries to seduce him with her feminine wiles! Perhaps this episode shows how the characters would act and behave if all pretense and inhibitions were abandoned?
Real Life Notes:
I’ve been so distracted, I thought I’d already written and submitted this post. But then I remembered that I struggled to see much purpose in it all. I’m not sure I can see any of this in our real-life characters. Thankfully, there is no big fault-line which could lead to familial civil war. The main issues are between Julian and Quark, and they regularly need pulling apart. But as far as I know, nobody takes sides, it’s more a case of learning to be peacemakers and negotiators. It is, however, depressingly constant. These two never seem to be able to learn to get on together.
I mentioned earlier that I would introduce my characters more properly in the episode ‘Dramatis Personae’, so here goes:
Sisko: my husband. We’ve been together 23 years which is somewhat miraculous considering how very different we are. Level headed, slow to anger, never acts in haste. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was a Vulcan.
Dr Julian Bashir: my eldest. Highly strung, sensitive and quite brilliant, friendly and sociable but never quite understanding people, so constantly confused, disappointed or frustrated. Feels strongly about social justice.
Jadzia Dax: my only daughter. Beautiful, strong, determined and feisty, capable and knows what she wants, but plagued by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Talented and creative, but with no strong sense of direction.
Quark: my middle boy. Clever in a cheeky, cunning sort of way. Constantly working on any number of projects which usually include avoiding work and getting rich quick at the same time. Extremely sociable and extrovert. Has a heart of gold really but masks it with a thick layer of bravado.
Rom: my youngest. Shy and quiet and almost completely overshadowed by his older brother, (and like Julian, often completely confused about everything) but slowly beginning to come out of his shell to reveal a kind, clever funny young man.
Kira: that’s me. Even when I’m perfectly happy, there’s anger bubbling beneath the surface. I’m not sure anymore what I’m angry about, it just seems to be in my nature. In another dimension, I’m definitely Klingon.
For the purposes of this blog, the characters are interchangeable as I see aspects of ourselves in their stories.
“Station residents suddenly find their imaginations are manifested in physical form; a spatial rift threatens to destroy the Bajoran system.”
I’m really quite ashamed that this post has taken me, what, 4 months to publish?! I don’t know why, but every time I looked at it, I felt stumped, and I procrastinated (along with the million other tasks I needed to do and put off until the last moment).
This is a really crazy and random episode where some undetermined and unnamed aliens conduct an experiment on the station’s crew and residents by allowing their imagination to run riot and we learn something about each character’s wishes, hopes and fears. Sisko conjures up one of his baseball heroes, Quark imagines beautiful girls that desire him, Julian creates an alternate Jadzia who is submissive and fawns all over him, (the real Jadzia is less than impressed) Jadzia herself worries that there might be a spatial rift causing the bizarre manifestations, and that worry turns into an anomaly that really does appear to threaten the station. The Chief calls a Rumplestiltskin into being who threatens to take his daughter away. Odo can’t imagine anything, but somebody thought of it snowing on the promenade, and lo – it snows. It’s just one of those random individual episodes that is never followed up, but put in there presumably for the purpose of character development.
Yes, this is where the problem is, I think – how to apply this whole weird episode to real life, what to make of the metaphors. My brain has just been drawing a complete blank. Perhaps due to the fact that the characters conjured up by the DS9 crew don’t make any sense to me – they’re not the things or people I think I would call into being from my imagination. (Although I did like the snow on the Promenade).
The ability to determine reality from fantasy is, I suppose, crucial to living a mentally stable life – fantasy certainly has its place, but we can’t let it take over because physical reality will suffer.
Without going into embarassing details, most of my fantasies are not the kind of things I would even want to stray into the realm of reality. But there is a spectrum that runs between fantasy, dreams, wishes and plans that we would like to bring to fruition in the real world.
What happens if we spend all our time and energy thinking and fantasising about the kind of things that really ought to stay at the fantasy end of the spectrum – does all that ’emotional energy’ (think ‘Cheeseman’s law’)* actually have any power to bring about manifestations of our desires, as proponents of the ‘Law of Attraction’/ ‘The Secret’ would argue? I don’t think I have seen any evidence of it in my life. But perhaps I’m not looking hard enough? Do good things happen because we ‘love’ them into being, bad things because we fear them?
Answers on a postcard please.
I’m actually about to move offices on the station in the next week or two, so expect my time will be occupied by packing and sorting and organising for a bit. But I haven’t forgotten this blog and do have plans to come back and do some more posting very soon. Watch this space, as they say.
* Cheeseman’s, for those unfamiliar with it, is the postulation put forward by the temporal scientist of the same name, that emotional energy has the power to alter events in time that would otherwise seem to be fixed and unchangeable. (From one of my absolute all-time favourite films, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Marisa Tomei – ‘Happy Accidents’. If you haven’t seen it already, go out and find it on DVD or Netflix or something. Romance, time travel, comedy, what more could you ask?)
I am sorry to have been absent for so long. Life on the Station has been complicated, and hard and painful just recently, and it has been a challenge to keep my head above water. I am trying to surface again now, but we’ll just see how it goes. I’m making no promises.
Kira has to go to one of Bajor’s moons to evacuate the last remaining settlers so that the moon can be used to create energy for Bajor. The settlers are stubborn and determined to stay, and although Kira begins to connect with the man, in the end she is forced to destroy his home in order to get him safely off the moon.
The sub-plot has to do with Jake and Nog who do a little bit of sneaky trading of Cardassian Yarmok sauce/ self-sealing stem bolts/ land on Bajor behind Quark’s back and find in the end that the apparently worthless piece of land is in fact a crucial piece of real estate that has marriage value to the surrounding land.
I was surprised this episode came up so early in the series. This is a difficult episode for Kira, because she empathises with the settler and feels that opposing him and forcing him out of his home is a little bit like doing the work of the Cardassians for them, but in the end she must make this painful decision in order to save his life as the energy project will start whether he stays or goes.
I never quite understood why she went about it the way she did. One minute she’s helping him build, risking her career and Sisko’s wrath by delaying, nursing the man while he’s sick when she could have taken him away then easily, the next minute she’s setting his house on fire to force him to go. It seemed harsh. I suppose it was necessary in the end, but I don’t know that I would have done it that way. Land, in the end (it seems to me) is only land. But the house and everything in it could have been saved, moved, transported. Why did it have to be destroyed? It seemed unnecessarily cruel.
In my life
I think about the house I left, and nostalgia comes over me in waves just like grief does. I was never that attached to the place as such, but that house – where my children were born, where we spent all the years watching them growing up, all those memories. My heart aches with longing for it. I know that those times are gone, and even though it is hard, we adjust to children growing up and becoming their own people with their own ideas and interests and plans.
But having the house where it all happened ripped away from me, well that hurts. Maybe Sisko thought that moving away would save my life, or my health, or my sanity. I don’t know. But I think he might have been wrong. The price was too high, and I left my heart in the old country. But I also know that, since we moved away, the house we left isn’t there any more – it was ruined beyond all recognition by the bad tenants to whom we had the misfortune of renting our home. So I have no choice but to move on. ((((But you exist there)))) Yes I do. Perhaps I just need to accept that fact, that my grief and loss is part of who I am now. There is no moving on, just accepting.
Chief O’Brien, along with Dr. Bashir, visits a community on Bajor that is plagued by a dangerous weather phenomenon which can only be dealt with by the village Storyteller. The Storyteller, the Sirah, dies and nominates O’Brien in his place, provoking the apprentice Sirah, who should have been nominated, to murderous jealousy. The day is saved when O’Brien, who has no wish to become the village Storyteller, fails to tame the beast and has to call on the apprentice who only really needed the confidence to believe he could do it.
Meanwhile on the station, two Bajoran tribes – the Paqu and the Navot come to Sisko for mediation of their territorial dispute. The leader of the Paqu is a pretty young thing who has inherited her position and feels she must prove herself. She violently objects to Quark calling her a ‘little lady’ and throws her drink over him (kind of confirming that she is an immature girl). Sisko tries to impress on her that this land dispute is not worth going to war over, but it is really Jake and Nog’s efforts to charm and befriend her that win her over.
Ah! These early episodes are just so random. They obviously hadn’t decided what Bajor or the Bajoran people would be like at this point, so they’re trying things out to see what fits and they have made these country bumpkin Bajorans ignorant and superstitious. This episode doesn’t really fit in with the overall thrust of the DS9 mythology, and when we do occasionally re-visit Bajor, the people seem to be quite different – always spiritual but not unscientific, and when they have later disputes they seem more mature and thoughtful (although they do seem to indulge in petty squabbles and they’re quite feisty and argumentative. I have always thought of Bajorans as being based on New Yorkers).
The great thing about this episode is the beginning of the huge, series-long, arc of O’Brien and Dr Bashir’s relationship. At this point, they are not even friends, at all. O’Brien just can’t stand Julian who seems pompous and sickeningly full-of-himself, and completely oblivious to what other people think or feel. I would venture to say that Bashir’s character development over the entire series is the most interesting of any of them. He’s obviously not a particularly likeable character at this stage, and it’s hard to imagine that he could be the genius doctor he’s supposed to be when he’s so socially challenged.
Um, well. I’m the Storyteller, obviously, and nobody can dispute that I am the rightful Sirah (well you can, but I may not approve your comments! lol!). I think I’m also the ‘little lady’, trying desperately to prove that I’m not, always going to ‘war’ over things that don’t matter, and taking offence where none is meant. I haven’t done that so much lately though so hopefully I really have grown out of it. I think I can sometimes be Bashir as well, not noticing other people’s feelings (I may be a wee bit self-obsessed on occasion as well…)
The true hero of this story in my opinion is Jake, who finds humour in a ridiculous situation, brings laughter and lightness to the table and that wins the day. In real life, that would be my Sisko. It used to infuriate me because – being the furious redhead Kira character that I am – I really wanted a fight, but he would never give me one. When he’s nervous or threatened or reprimanded, he laughs. And now, instead of smacking him one, I have learned to laugh with him. 😀
I usually post my book reviews over on Life for Beginners, but since this is solidly science fiction, I thought I would share it here too.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey is the first novel written in the series relating to the planet of Pern, written in 1968, but I did not realise that it is quite far along in the Pern chronology.
I chose to read it firstly because it was at the top of my fiction pile, secondly because I read a book by Anne McCaffrey years ago, Black Horses for the King, which I enjoyed, and finally because I am still in the mood for a little bit of fantasy-flavoured escapism.
It was quite different from Pawn of Prophecy which I read last – the writing is far more complex, the language somewhat archaic in places which adds weight to its medieval feel, and the topics more adult-oriented, and the world of Pern was somehow much more solid and easier to envisage, and of course, dragons (top feature – who could resist?).
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Sisko, Bashir, Chief O’Brien and Kira take the Kai on an outing to see the Wormhole, and when there is a distress call, she encourages them to answer it. As a result, they become stranded on a planet where there is continuous war, and the inhabitants have been treated with nanobots which ensure that when they are wounded and killed in battle, they do not die permanently, but are revived, so the cycle of war goes on and on. Kai Opaka is killed in the impact of the shuttle’s emergency landing and is revived, but then it turns out that she can then never leave the planet because the reviving nanobots only work there. And so, when they manage to fix the runabout so they can leave, Kai Opaka must stay, and Kira must say a final farewell.
“I’ve discovered we can’t afford to die here. Not even once.” – Bashir.
Noooo! Why did they do this? The answer of course is that Kai Opaka was just too nice, too perfect; there was no conflict, and that makes for a boring story. And as painful as it is, it’s a good episode full of feeling which explores all the themes of grief and loss, war and peace, love, friendship and hope.
I’ve mentioned my Dad before. I don’t think anyone else in my life has ever quite fulfilled that same role of mentor, and although I would love to find a new mentor, I don’t think it’s very likely that I would find anybody who could fully fill his boots. He was a religious man, and had a strong belief in the after-life to the extent that, when he was very ill at the end, and could have gone on living, he chose to die (by refusing to continue with dialysis) believing that he would go to his ‘eternal rest’, and that seemed more attractive to him than life.
I am a ‘believer’; I have a faith, but I don’t feel comfortable with such assurance that makes people choose death over life. It seemed an unthinkably cruel and cowardly choice, but I know that he wasn’t in his right mind when he made that decision, and for him, dialysis was his worst nightmare come true. After several months of misery, he decided to pull the plug. He was told that he would die within two weeks, but in fact he suffered 8 more months of pain and misery.
The grief that I felt when he left us was so deep, it was physical. I felt as though my chest was crushed and I really felt as though I were seriously, physically ill. Sisko, who had been through something very similar, was able to tell me that no, this was what grief is like.
Of course I like the idea that he is living somewhere, out of space and time, in a place where there is no more sorrow and no more tears and no more pain.
At the end of the episode, Kai Opaka tells Kira, “Your pagh and mine will cross again” but, apart from the odd couple of episodes where one of the Wormhole Aliens appears in the form of Kai Opaka, she does not return, and we don’t see her again as that character. The idea is that, negotiating between the two warring parties to bring them toward peace becomes Kai Opaka’s new life work.
I was speaking to my mum the other day about the idea of heaven and my Dad – what is he doing, what is he thinking? Is he aware of everything that goes on here? Would he be crushed if she were to marry again? I told her that I didn’t think he is aware because – in my way of thinking about how the universe works at least – I think that at the moment of death, he exited time and space, so he exists now in a heaven completely separate to our realm of being. That way, for him, there will be a mere blink, a twinkling of an eye between arriving in heaven himself and the moment when we arrive there to be with him, even, if the Prophets are willing, that will be many, many years from now.
To my mind though, even if you have some great assurance of heaven, it’s never the best idea to choose heaven over life in the real world. Life is precious, and rare and wonderful, and despite all the awfulness of war and misery and disease, there is beauty and goodness and love and hope worth staying for.
This episode is another one that concentrates on Odo and gives us new clues into his possible origins as well as giving us new insight into his character, with his stern and grumpy character apparently covering a vulnerable and compassionate inner, which he purposely hides to avoid being taken advantage of.
Randy Oglesby, Star Trek veteran actor, with at least 6 different parts to his name (we love how Star Trek recycles its actors!), best known as Degra in Star Trek Enterprise, plays the Miradorn twins Ah-kel and Ro-kel, who get mixed up in a criminal enterprise gone wrong when Quark hires a Rakhari man (Croden) to interrupt a sale and one of them, Ro-kel is accidentally killed. (Both are apparently Gamma quadrant species that we never meet again. DS9 seems quite lax on the first contact formalities.)
“Have you known any twinned Miradorn, commander?”
“I’m afraid I haven’t met any before now.”
“In my species, we are not just twin brothers… together we are a self…
two halves of one being. I am incomplete now.“
Croden is played by Cliff deYoung, the father in one of our all-time favourite family sci-fi films, ‘Flight of the Navigator’ (affectionately known in our house as ‘The One with the Boy’), and also the medical examiner in the pilot episode of X-Files amongst other things.
In jail, Croden presents Odo with a tantalising clue to the origins of the changelings when he shows him a key which transforms itself into the shape of the lock to which it belongs. So when later, Odo has to take Croden back to his homeworld, he is inclined to believe him when he says that the authorities there had unjustly accused him, and killed his family because he was a political dissident, and allows him to retrieve his daughter who was being held, for her own protection, in a stasis chamber which the changeling key unlocked.
When Ah-Kel, furious about his brother’s death, chases them into the Gamma Quadrant and attacks them on the moon where the daughter was, Odo is knocked unconscious and Croden has the opportunity to escape his custody and leave him there, but he doesn’t.
“You could’ve left me behind.”
“Don’t thank me, I already regret it.“
When he wakes up, he is back on the runabout with Croden and his daughter, and Ah-Kel is still trying to kill them. Odo cleverly fools Ah-Kel into destroying his own ship and, instead of taking Croden back to the Rakhari homeworld, he allows him and his daughter to escape by transferring to a Vulcan transport ship which offers assistance.
In the end, Odo is no closer to really finding out who his people are or where they might be, but at least he has a good idea now that he at least does have a people somewhere.
Again, I’m seeing Odo as myself in this story. Somehow over the years I seem to have developed a hard and tough exterior in response to ‘life’ and all that stuff. I’m definitely stern and grumpy now. But inside I’m still a softie and I think people like that have to guard against the kind of people who take advantage. It’s a challenge to be just tough enough to protect yourself without becoming bitter and too rough and tough for people to rub up against you as friends. Odo seems to balance it just right it seems – no matter how stand-offish he tries to be, he doesn’t manage to drive people away. Even Quark is fond of him, and they’re the best of enemies.
The Nagus is the first episode which features Ferengi culture in a big way, introducing us to Grand Nagus Zek, the overall leader of the Ferengi people who embodies everything that the Ferengis value – principally, greed and business acumen, so Capitalism personified, if you like, and Quark seems to worship him.
I really can’t stand Zek as a character although I do like the actor, Wallace Shawn – Vizzini from The Princess Bride. I’m sure he is meant to convey some important truths, beyond being a foil for Quark’s character, but he’s just way too annoying for me to notice. Plus I know there is a reference to the Godfather films, but I just don’t get it as I have never seen them. If anybody cares to explain why the Godfather is so popular, feel free. It’s not really on my radar. The nearest I come to watching gangster movies is Bugsy Malone.
Quark’s character development is interesting, as is Rom’s, who reveals himself to be far more devious than his brother had imagined, which thoroughly impresses Quark even though it nearly kills him!
The other interesting development, the sub-plot, is Jake’s friendship with Nog, and the way that Jake and Sisko’s relationship – even at this early juncture – is beginning to grow and change as Jake gets older and starts making his own choices.
I remember my middle son being horrified by Sisko’s apparent racism against Nog, not wanting Jake and Nog to be friends (not to mention the Bajorans’ continued racism against all Cardassians, amongst other examples), but drawing attention to racism and busting race and gender stereotypes is something that Star Trek has always done well. At least until JJ, but that’s another story.
I liked that, when Sisko asks Jadzia for parenting advice, she says “I’ve been a mother three times and a father twice,” but then admits that she was never really very good at it from either side. But then Sisko still takes her advice and chases after Jake to find out why he wasn’t at dinner!
While I was looking for different opinions on this episode, I found this interesting post:
But then I went off on a bit of a rabbit-trail, totally unrelated to DS9, to investigate the origin and meaning of the poster’s username, Andraste.
It turns out that Andraste was the Roman name of a Celtic goddess, Andred, invoked by the legendary Boudicca of the Iceni in her fight against the Romans in Britain, her name thought to mean ‘invincible’ in the Celtic tongue, and cognate with the Roman goddesses Andarte/ Andarta, Victoria and others.
In addition, Andraste is the name of a band from Manchester,
who describe themselves as being “Purveyors of Finest Folk Metal” (my favourite kind!)
Check them out on Soundcloud. I really liked their sound until the singing started. Sorry. Nice flute.
Finally, Andraste is also a character in the videogame DragonAge, which I’m guessing is from whence the poster took the name.
I haven’t really investigated video games very much at all – I’m just a bit too old to have caught it when it all got good. It was all still Commodores and Spectrums, Pacman and Space Invaders when I was young enough to have disposable income and time to spend on such things. But now all my kids are teenagers themselves, I might have another chance to explore. Hit me up with suggestions of good ones to start with!