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Star Trek: Enterprise – Awakening (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

9/11 forever changed the world.

In doing so, it also changed popular culture. As part of that, it also changed Star Trek. When it comes to discussing the way that the franchise was shaped and moulded by 9/11, there are a number of easy points upon which to focus. The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise quite blatantly positions itself as an allegory for those terrorist attacks, with Archer directly responding to a terror attack upon Earth and seeking to hold those responsible to account. Star Trek Into Darkness evokes those attacks both in its imagery and its conspiracy theory subtext.

Fallout warning.

Fallout warning.

However, the influence is much stronger than any of that. JJ Abrams’ Star Trek touched on the themes of trauma and loss that inform a lot of post-9/11 culture by making both Kirk and Spock survivors of horrific and unprovoked destruction. Similarly, the cosmology of Enterprise had been shaped and defined by those attacks since at least Shadows of P’Jem, reflected in the hostile and paranoid universe suggested in episodes like The SeventhCease Fire and The Crossing or the destruction of the timeline in Shockwave, Part I and Shockwave, Part II.

The fourth season is no less shaped by the War on Terror than the third season had been, even if that influence is less overt. The chaotic asymmetrical warfare of Storm Front, Part I and Storm Front, Part II evoke the political quagmire of foreign intervention in the twenty-first century. Home explores responses to traumas both personal and cultural. However the Kir’Shara trilogy is most overt in its War on Terror imagery, paralleling Archer’s journey into the desert following a terror attack with the looming spectre of war.

Have we reached peak Vulcan?

Have we reached peak Vulcan?

The aliens on Star Trek have often been a reflection of humanity, a vehicle through which contemporary issues might be explored. Of course, what those aliens represent and how those stories employ them is subject to change or debate. Are the Borg an expression of latent fears about the loss of individualism in a communist society, the last reverberating echo of the Cold War? Or are the Borg instead a commentary on the nature of all-consuming capitalism, a monolithic entity that devours and assimilates all in its path? Are they both or neither?

David A. Goodman used this idea quite well in Judgment, one the most underrated episodes of Enterprise‘s four-season run. In that episode, Goodman positioned the Klingons as a metaphor for post-9/11 America. The script seemed to suggest that the nation was fixated upon war and retribution, with little time for debate or consideration. It was a harrowing thought, particularly given that the Klingons had originally been introduced in Errand of Mercy as a metaphor for the global powers aligned against the United States.

Carrying the torch...

Carrying the torch…

In the opening scenes of The Forge, Ambassador Soval acknowledges the metaphorical aspect of the Star Trek universe. He suggests that many of the species populating the cosmos tend to be reflections of individual aspects of mankind. “You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites,” he reflects. “One moment, you’re as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next, you confound us by suddenly embracing logic.” He also adds, quite appropriately given the episode, “There is one species you remind us of.” Vulcans.

Much like Klingon society in Judgment, Vulcan society in the Kir’Shara trilogy is positioned as a metaphor for America during the War on Terror. The three-parter does an excellent job creating a mounting sense of dread and uncertainty across the three episodes, with The Forge hinting that there is something deeply unpleasant taking root in Vulcan society before Awakening reveals the true extent of the moral decay. Even in The Forge, there are hints that Vulcan society is becoming more of a police state.

China in Your Head.

China in Your Head.

When Koss visits T’Pol on Enterprise, he explains that the government has been strengthening its power using the threat of terrorist action to justify the erosion of civil liberties. “The Syrranite threat has brought new security measures into effect. Private communications are no longer private.” Archer is surprised to discover T’Pau’s DNA is on file when she is tied to the bomb. “Since you had her DNA on record, does that mean she’s been arrested before?” he wonders. T’Pol clarifies, “The Registry records DNA from all Vulcans at birth.”

While crossing the Forge with Syrran, Archer and T’Pol receive a warning about the ever-expanding power of the Vulcan High Command. Offering a brief history of Vulcan culture, Syrran explains, “At one time, the High Command was only responsible for the exploration of space. But that’s changed.” It is clear that the organisation has changed from its original mandate, evolved beyond its first brief. In many respects, it reflects the realities of contemporary American culture, where an intelligence apparatus originally pointed overseas is now deeply rooted on home soil.

Soval, so good.

Soval, so good.

The parallels with the culture of surveillance and security within the United States are obvious. The War on Terror witnessed a massive erosion of civil liberties and freedoms using the justification of public safety and terrorism prevention. As Professor David D. Cole reflects:

“Since 9/11, the criminal law has expanded, ensnaring as ‘terrorists’ people who have done no more than provide humanitarian aid to needy families, while privacy and political freedoms have contracted, especially for those in Muslim communities,” he said. “On the one hand, the past 10 years have shown that criminal law can be used effectively to fight terrorism; on the other, it has also demonstrated that the demand for prevention can all too quickly lead to the abuse of innocents.”

The Forge suggests a paranoid mindset taking root in Vulcan society. The Syrannites are presented as a persecuted minority, forced to go into hiding and subject to fear-mongering and moral panic for their spiritual beliefs. Their community is tied to terrorist actions and they are accused of being a subversive element.

A measure of V'Last resort.

A measure of V’Last resort.

There are also hints of xenophobic elements taking root in contemporary Vulcan society, a nice touch that serves to create a thematic connection between Earth and Vulcan. “Captain, I trust you to keep this matter confidential,” Administrator V’Las reflects at one point. “We don’t share it lightly. But recently, on our world, there have been instances of violence against non-Vulcans.” It recalls the attempted violence against Phlox in Home and the sinister plot against all aliens on Earth in Demons and Terra Prime.

The parallels to contemporary American culture are quite clear. Anti-Muslim hate crimes increased dramatically following the 9/11 attacks, to say nothing of the fact that Islamophobic rhetoric became increasingly acceptable. The War on Terror goes hand-in-hand with a culture of fear and anxiety, one that fosters and encourages xenophobia. The Kir’Shara trilogy is very much offering its own none-too-subtle political commentary on contemporary America, in much the same way that the Xindi arc did.

"Cry havok! And let slip the Vulcans of war!"

“Cry havok! And let slip the Vulcans of war!”

In some ways, the reveal of Romulan involvement at the end of Kir’Shara makes perfect thematic sense. Dating back to Balance of Terror, the Romulans have been consistently portrayed as futuristic version of the Roman Empire. Given the stock (and somewhat melodramatic and heavy-handed) comparisons between the United States and the Roman Empire, it makes sense that the Romulans should be revealed to as the architects of the political unrest underpinning the Kir’Shara trilogy.

After all, Star Trek could be read as a projection of American self-image into the future. Certainly, despite the vague workings of its post-scarcity economy, the Federation could be read as an extrapolation based upon liberal American political ideology. Even the phrase “final frontier” is anchored in President Kennedy’s reference to space as the “new frontier.” With all of that in mind, it is worth noting that the original Star Trek repeatedly evoked the Roman Empire as a spectre to haunt Kirk and his crew.

"I saw Gary Graham teach Kes to put out a candle with her mind. I thought I'd try it."

“I saw Gary Graham teach Kes to put out a candle with her mind. I thought I’d try it.”

That is true of the Romulans in Balance of Terror, clearly constructed as counterparts to the crew of the Enterprise. That is true of the Terran Empire in Mirror, Mirror, a literal reflection of the Enterprise crew. That is even true in Bread and Circuses, which seemed to explicitly parallel sixties America with an alternate Roman Empire. It is worth noting that the fourth season of Enterprise has a renewed interest in these metaphors, paying more attention to the Romulans and the Terran Empire than the franchise had in years. There was something in the air.

The Forge makes its War on Terror commentary quite clear, tying a terrorist attack to a religious order that finds Archer embarking on a journey into the middle of a vast desert. It is hardly subtle, constructing a very straightforward metaphor for the way that the destruction of the World Trade Centre had served to embroil the United States in two costly military conflicts in the Middle East. The Forge and Awakening even tie into broader questions about religion that remain part of the larger debate about the War on Terror.

"But don't be reading my mind between four and five. That's Archer's time!"

“But don’t be reading my mind between four and five. That’s Archer’s time!”

There is some biting political commentary to be found in Awakening. When confronted by the Syrranites, Archer protests, “You have a lot to learn about humans. We don’t sit back and do nothing while our people are attacked.” T’Pau sarcastically responds, “No, you traverse vast wastelands based on false information.” That is quite a loaded observation to make in late 2004, just a year and a half following the Invasion of Iraq based largely upon misinformation about the country’s weapons of mass destruction.

The three-parter reinforces that sense of political relevance in the language that is used to describe the Syrranite movement. V’Las describes them as “radical insurgents.” T’Pol refers to them as “a radical faction.” The language is similar to that employed in discussions of terrorist organisations, with V’Las framing the debate so as present the Syrranites as a fundamental and subversive threat to the stability of Vulcan society as a whole. It is not too dissimilar to the language employed in discussions of al-Qaeda or ISIS.

The Fall of T'Kareth.

The Fall of T’Kareth.

Similarly, the strike against the Syrranited compound in Awakening is very much framed in terms of modern warfare rather than conventional combat; overwhelming military force is employed over a great distance, evoking debates about drone strikes or aerial bombardment as tools in the War on Terror. V’Las talks as if organising a drone strike against Osama Bin Laden. “It’s very likely that Syrran himself is inside the compound. With one decisive thrust, we can cripple this insurgency, perhaps end it.”

Indeed, Awakening and Kir’Shara complete the metaphor by having Administrator V’Las reveal his endgame. V’Las plans to launch a surprise invasion of Andoria, under the pretense that the Andorians have been developing weapons of mass destruction reverse-engineered from the Xindi prototype in Proving Ground. V’Las warns the High Command, “They didn’t steal the prototype because they were merely curious. I’m certain of one thing. Sooner or later, the Andorians will make use of this technology. Is it logical for us to wait for that day?”

Don't hold back.

Don’t hold back.

This mirrors the justifications for the invasion of Iraq, with the United States and the United Kingdom famously insisting that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed within forty-five minutes. Of course, these were lies and untruths, misdirections and obfuscations. As Paul Krugman reflects:

The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

Indeed, the dust had barely begun to settle on the invasion before the media and the public began to realise that the invasion had been built on a fairly unstable foundation. There was plenty of blame to apportion, with media outlets even acknowledging systemic failures in their role as fact-checkers within the democratic system.

Surak rocks.

Surak rocks.

Awakening suggests that this is a central part of the War on Terror metaphor that runs through this trilogy of episodes. Administrator V’Las is only persecuting the Syrranites in order to silence their potential criticisms of his invasion plans. “What does the High Command have against the Syrranites?” Trip wonders at one point. “The Syrrannites believe violence to be antithetical to Surak’s teachings,” Soval explains. “V’Las considers that a dangerous mindset, particularly now.”

V’Las is attempting to suppress any dissent for his invasion, to ostracise and marginalise those who would oppose his agenda. The transition between the oppression of the Syrranites and the invasion of Andoria is probably the weakest aspect of the entire three-parter, but it does serve a very important purpose in the context of the story’s political commentary. The Kir’Shara trilogy suggests that dissent and opposition are a vital part of any functioning democracy, even one that is under threat and under siege. The Iraq War would perhaps be proof of that.

"Are you a Vulcan or a Vulcan't?"

“Are you a Vulcan or a Vulcan’t?”

This was quite a timely topic for November and December 2004. This was an election year, with The Forge airing less than three weeks after George W. Bush defeated John Kerry. The War on Terror had a chilling effect on debate and dissent in American politics. Representative Michael Burgess claimed in May 2004 that those criticising the Iraq War were “basically giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” When Nancy Pelosi questioned President Bush’s competence, she was accused of “putting American lives at risk.”

In the lead up to the election, President Bush himself had advocated for the silencing of political dissent, arguing that it was necessary for the morale of American troops overseas. “You send the wrong message to our troops by sending mixed messages,” he advised the public in September 2004. When Senator Tom Daschle criticised President Bush’s foreign policy, his opponent John Thune argued, “His words embolden the enemy.” This fear-mongering and consensus building ripples through the Kir’Shara trilogy, tying into the contemporary political climate.

Vulcan enlightenment.

Vulcan enlightenment.

Still, there is something slightly awkward about the metaphor at the heart of the Kir’Shara trilogy. Late in The Forge, it becomes clear that the Syrranites were not responsible for the terrorist bombing of the embassy. Stel is identified as the bomber, having framed T’Pau using the genetic material from her government record. Although Administrator V’Las rather quickly throws him under the bus (“our investigation of Stel has revealed he’s a Syrranite”), it is immediately quite clear that V’Las is the story’s antagonist and is responsible for the bombing.

This is a natural story development, in that it allows the Kir’Shara trilogy to position itself as a criticism of aggressive government policy justified by reference to the War on Terror. More than that, it offers a number of interesting dramatic twists and reversals that help to keep the plot moving along across its two-hour runtime. Certainly, a version of the Kir’Shara trilogy that treated the Syrranites as nothing more than dangerous subversive radicals would be a more reactionary and uncomfortable than that version that was broadcast.

Getting his head straight.

Getting his head straight.

The Forge and Awakening frame the embassy bombing as a conspiracy constructed by those in authority to justify a brutal war. Reviewing the evidence, Trip warns Soval, “Ambassador, I don’t know what kind of pull it takes to mess with DNA records on Vulcan, but I think we’re looking at a deliberate attempt to hide the truth.” Soval responds, “You’re suggesting a conspiracy.” Trip certainly is. At the trilogy continues, it becomes clear that Administrator V’Las is framing the Syrranites to further his own political objectives.

Conspiracies are great storytelling tools, in that they provide ample opportunities for twists and betrayals. Conspiracies suggest hidden histories and secret stories, a narrative way of making sense of the inexplicable and explaining the workings of a chaotic universe. There is a reason that The X-Files endured for nine whole seasons; conspiracies can be fun and exciting. Unfortunately, any story dealing with 9/11 imagery needs to be careful in how it chooses to incorporate conspiracy theories.

P'Jem truthers.

P’Jem truthers.

There is a certain strand of political thought in the United States built upon the idea that the 9/11 attacks were hoaxes and false-flag operations perpetrated against the American people by the United States government. It goes without saying that these are fanciful and ridiculous accusations, but they have taken root. Fueled by the internet and the emergence of social media, these conspiracy theories were able to reach a larger audience than they would have in earlier years.

By 2004, the “truther” movement was on the cusp of breaking into the political mainstream. James Buchanin campaigned in that year’s presidential election on a platform built around the movement. The same year saw Barrie Zwicker release the documentary The Great Conspiracy: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw. David Ray Griffin published both The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions over the course of 2004.

Archer won't take this lying down.

Archer won’t take this lying down.

Once again, it is quite striking how the fourth season of Enterprise seems to predict the plotting of Into Darkness. With its metaphor for the War on Terror tied into conspiracy theories and false flag operations, the Kir’Shara shares quite a lot with the aesthetic of Into Darkness. Both stories have very strong “truther” subtext while playing upon 9/11 imagery and critiquing the march towards war in the direct aftermath of that terrorist atrocity. There is a very clear linear development between the final season of Enterprise and the JJ Abrams movies.

Those similarities are reinforced in a number of different ways. Both the Kir’Shara trilogy and Into Darkness share a lot of DNA with Homefront and Paradise Lost, a two-parter from the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which aired more than half a decade before the 9/11 attacks. All three stories find an essentially utopian society driven to the edge of war by militaristic cabals buried within existing power structures. The Kir’Shara trilogy even casts Robert Foxworth in a role very similar to that he played in the earlier two-parter.

"This Admiral Leyton sounds like a pretty righteous dude."

“This Admiral Leyton sounds like a pretty righteous dude.”

Much like Into Darkness, the Kir’Shara trilogy is saturated with continuity references and acknowledgements that draw attention to the rich history of the Star Trek franchise. There is a particular interest in the feature film franchise in general, and with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in particular. Although the Kir’Shara trilogy is much more subtle in its homage than the Borderland trilogy had been, the influence of that classic Star Trek film is keenly felt on the three-part story.

In particular, the transference of Surak’s katra from Syrran to Archer is framed so as to recall the mind meld between Spock and McCoy at the end of The Wrath of Khan. Syrran even repeats the Vulcan word for “remember…”, a direct reference to that earlier mindmeld scene. This is to say nothing of the influences drawn from the other films, like the portrayal of the Vulcan desert in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the emphasis placed on Mount Seleya as it appeared towards the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”

All of this is to illustrate that the themes and continuity fetishism of Into Darkness did not come from nowhere or suddenly manifest from nothing with the arrival of JJ Abrams and his production team. These ideas had been gestating inside the franchise for quite some time. It is some irony that a lot of what makes Into Darkness so hated by a certain vocal section of the fanbase is so lauded in discussions of the fourth season of Enterprise. There is a very strong bond between those two chapters of Star Trek history, even beyond the shared casting of Peter Weller.

In a strange way, the political metaphor at the heart of the Kir’Shara trilogy helps to bring Enterprise something of a full circle, helping to establish the series as a prequel to the original Star Trek in more than just continuity. After all, Administrator V’Las is attempting to silence discourse and debate in a manner that evokes the communist witchhunts of the fifties. When V’Las labels Stel as a Syrranite, it plays almost as the outing of a communist sympathiser. “Numerous documents were discovered in his home,” he insists. “The evidence is irrefutable.”

The needs of the one.

The needs of the one.

Of course, many have noted that the political climate during the early years of the War on Terror was quite similar to that during the “red scare” of the fifties. In Fear: The History of a Political Idea, Corey Robin returns time and again to the idea of the McCarthy era as demonstrating many of the mechanisms employed during the War on Terror:

Many of my examples in chapters six and seven are drawn from the McCarthy period, not because I believe McCarthyism is still rampant but because its mechanisms are still in place. By focusing on its minutiae, I hope to show that political fear is neither strange nor aberrant but familiar and embedded, that it is a problem not solely of the past but also of the present.

It has been reflected that the War on Terror saw an expansion of the doctrine of homeland security and an erosion of civil liberties “unthinkable since the McCarthy era.” Liz Cheney famously attacked the lawyers representing prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, a move that Glenn Greenwald described as a “McCarthyite act.”

The T'Pau-wer of melding.

The T’Pau-wer of melding.

As such, there is something strangely appropriate about building these metaphors about paranoia and xenophobia into a Star Trek prequel. If the original Star Trek series was essentially a metaphor about the utopianism and idealism of the sixties, it makes sense that the prequel series would draw upon the same tone that dominated the more reactionary politics of the fifties. If Enterprise is really positioning itself as a prequel to the original Star Trek show, there is some nice historical symmetry to the way that the War on Terror metaphors mirror McCarthyism.

The fourth season of Enterprise really embraces the idea of the show as a prequel leading into the original Star Trek show in more than just matters of continuity minutiae. It is also something of an aesthetic prequel, drawing heavily on the sorts of pulpy serialised science-fiction narratives that were popular before Star Trek helped to reshape and redefine conceptions of mainstream science-fiction. Even the structure of the fourth season’s episodes recalls the old sci-fi movie serials that would be broadcast in movie theatres before feature presentations.

Body of proof.

Body of proof.

The Kir’Shara trilogy is saturated with this pulpy aesthetic. The three-parter consciously evokes the tone and mood of the Indiana Jones films, themselves constructed as an affectionate homage to trashy adventure fiction. The Forge opens with a teaser following a Vulcan navigating catacombs in search of a lost relic tied to the culture’s mythology and religion. Given the broader themes of the episode, it would not be too much to refer to Surak’s katra as the Vulcan “holy grail.”

That adventure serial aesthetic is only heightened during Awakening, when Archer seeks out the Kir’Shara. It is identified as “an artifact”, and Archer’s journey leads him through caves marked with cobwebs and decorated by the mummified remains of the long-deceased faithful. Although the budget on the show would never stretch to the kind of traps that faced Indiana Jones, there is a door that is opened with a secret code and our heroes navigate using torches. In Kir’Shara, they even find themselves protecting a holy artifact against fascist foot soldiers.

Raiders of the Lost Katric Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Katric Ark.

It is a testament to the three-parter that the trilogy feels at once perfectly of its time and also very comfortable as a prequel to a forty-year-old television series. It is more evidence of just how well the Kir’Shara trilogy works, and a reminder of how skilfully it plays to the strengths of the fourth season.

You might be interested in our other reviews of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise:

16 Responses

  1. The matter of McCarthyism is very apt as at the time, not only were many people drawing the comparison as an indictment, but there was (coincidentally?) a plethora of new books being published which argued McCarthy was right, HUAC was right and/or the Witch Hunt was more right than wrong.

    My favourite summary of this three-parter is Jammer’s: “Now that the Prophets have given the Emissary his mission to help a Bajor that’s in danger from its own government-induced turmoil, the Emissary must reluctantly embark on this mission by finding and using the Orb and its vast wisdom.” Even a snarky comparison to DS9 is high praise for this series.

    • “McCarthy was right”

      A minor point, but that is not new. McCarthy won, regardless. He dusted himself off after the Army hearings and continued to be known as Tailgunner Ted, the man who kicked the Communists out of Washington. Despite failing to make a successful case against anyone. (He had nothing to do with the cases against Hiss and Rosenberg) Many people were unfairly tarred, tried in the court of public opinion, and careers were duly ruined.

      Undoubtedly the Soviets had spies in the government but McCarthy’s whole premise was that it was interconnected. McCarthy and Ronald Reagan taught generations Americans to think of anyone they disagree with (indeed, anyone who expresses any progressive sentiment at all) as a shill or a foreign intelligence agent.

      Your first thought when watching Murrow v. McCarthy is “What a badass”, but then I get a bit disheartened when I thought about how pointless it is if those guys been openly calling authoritarians out on their shit for so long to pretty much no avail.

      • Not to get too political here, but there is something strangely appropriate about Trump’s Republican nomination. The party might be horrified by his ascent, but the truth is that he is a monster of their own creation. The GOP fostered a climate where that sort of extreme polarised fillibuster was lauded and treated as the default mode of political discourse. Trump just dials that up even further, but the truth is that everything dating back to Ken Starr and beyond has been priming the base to embrace a character like Trump, as horrifying as he might be. And that traces itself back to the example you give of McCarthyism and Reaganism.

        (On the other hand, it should be acknowledged that such heightened polarisation tends to cut across the political spectrum. There are certain vocal segments of the left that are equally unwilling to engage in conversation with their opponents. Again, Trump is tapping into something monstrous in the American political consciousness, but many of his voters feel like they’ve been ignored or overlooked. Sure, law of averages suggest some of those voters are clichéd racist homophobic sexist xenophobes. But some of them are simply rural voters who feel like their values and concerns are dismissed and mocked out of hand, if they are even acknowledged at all.)

      • Actually, both the Republican and Democrats on and off flirtations with racism and xenophobia have created an atmosphere where people like Donald Trump can thrive, alongside the fact that both parties are simply stale, terrible parties that largely cater to an upper 1 percent of the American population. However it’s not true that Donald Trump is appealing to ‘rural voters” or voters much at all, as he’s ironically one of the most hated figures in politics right now, which is why he’s trying very hard to remake himself into the Republicans answer to Bernie Sanders ATM.

      • Also Donald Trump is pretty weaksauce when compared to the European far-right, he’s just an average right wing demagogue. Indeed, he’s far better than say Ted Cruz.

    • Ha!

      The three parter is very like a Bajor episode from the first two years of DS9. (In fact, as Jammer suggests, it is very like Homecoming/The Circle/The Siege.) But you’re right that this is not a bad thing. I probably love TNG and DS9 almost equally, with a slight edge to DS9. But it seems quite clear in hindsight that DS9 rather than Voyager was the evolutionary branch that the franchise should have followed.

      But, then again, I’m in the minority of DS9 fans who liked the early Bajor episodes.

      • That three parter is one of the worst episodes Ive ever seen in all Trek, because it’s so boring! It helps to add to the first season of DS9 being called “DS9, the boring years”. And to add to the strangeness, it was apparently a single TNG episode idea that probably would have been better.

      • Love that three parter. But, again, I’m fonder of the early Bajor episodes than most. And I think that – like this one – it has a solid grasp of the three-act structure.

      • You have a really high tolerance for boring political discussions then 😛

      • Probably because it was originally a single episode intended for TNG, yet got stretched into three parts for DS9, it’s one of the few episodes in all of Trek I actually skip totally.

      • I hate not being able to edit comments 😛 But even more infuriating is this “three parter” on DS9 replaced an awesome idea to do a proper crossover with TNG in a plot involving repelling an invading alien force (perhaps the Dominion?) from the Gamma Quadrant. Makes it all the worse IMO

    • Sorry for constant comments, but wanted to add one last thing. Jacobin Magazine (America’s only mainstream socialist/Marxist magazine) recently published an uncharacteristically candid take on how liberal condescension against “white working class” people is a very common thing, and certainly does help feed the rise of candidates like Donald Trump: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/white-workers-bernie-sanders-clinton-primary-racism/

      • No worries about the comments. That was kind of what I was getting at. Maybe “rural voters” was the wrong way to put it, but basically voters who feel like their complaints are not even acknowledged by the system as it stands, let alone engaged with.

        (And, yes, some of those complaints then tie into horribly xenophobic beliefs or regressive social beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that they can be written off. There was an interesting article in Vox or The Atlantic that basically made the point that certain parts of the country stricken by poverty or job losses feel like they’ve been forgotten. While “ban people who don’t look like us from coming to the country” is not a viable solution, they feel righteously angry that their interests have been forgotten.)

      • I don’t know if you live in the US (I imagine you live in Ireland given the description of the blog ) but it’s not just rural voters who don’t get listened to, practically all voters don’t, hence the rise of people like Trump and Sanders who basically represent the death of the center (even if intentionally both would be in the center left and right of politics). There’s a reason most Americans even now don’t vote.

        Some people move to the left, some move to the right, though this is happening with much more intensity (esp to the right) in Europe than it is in the US. European xenophobes make American ones look tame.

  2. Wait, you mean the Vulcan High Command was lying when they claimed that Andoria bought yellowcake uranium powder from the Xindi?!?

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