Two Drive-Bys (S02:E10; S02:E11)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

The Dauphin

Wesley falls for a visiting dignitary who is not who she appears to be.

There’s just a few brief things to say about this episode.

Wesley’s first crush is a young woman born to royalty. She has been given a duty by birthright; the weight of an entire warring world is on her shoulders, and she feels no ability to shape her own life or deviate from her assigned path. She may have power and privilege, but her agency is curtailed. She cannot fathom even visiting the farflung places Wes talks about, much less being able to sustain a relationship with him. In contrast, Wesley’s great freedom and oportunity stand out. At one point, when she says a relationship between them is impossible, he replies with “Nothing is impossible.” This is one of the few times that Wesley’s experience felt quite foreign to me, feeling trapped as I did in an excruciating situation. I was jealous of his freedom, but also gained strength and a sense of solidarity in his own realization that he doesn’t have as much control over life as he thinks he does… even if it’s because of the life circumstances of people he comes to care for.

Picard is compassionate and thoughtful in making decisions that directly affect Wesley. He eventually decides to warn Wes away from spending any further time with the girl. He does so to secure the success of the mission and the potential for peace on a planet, but it’s clear he also does it to protect Wesley from further hurt. And he does it sadly, with a fatherly love for Wes.

The girl is a shapeshifter. When she appears again in humanoid form after Wes witnesses her turn into a large, bear-like creature, Wes believes her to be “dressing up” as a human to somehow fool him. She explains that her human form is not any kind of lie, that she is just as much this as she is the many other things she can be. This concept of being both/and on such a fundamental level, of embracing this multitude of being, was something that softened some internal ground for me, as I grew to break boundaries and embrace both/and living in a multitude of ways.

As the episode concludes, and she has gone, Wesley nurses his feelings of loss in Ten Forward, and Guinan joins him. They have the following exchange:

Wesley: I’m never gonna feel this way about anyone else.
Guinan: You’re right.
Wesley: I didn’t expect you to say that.
Guinan: There will be others. But every time you feel love, it’ll be different. Every time it’s different.

This valuing of people and relationships as unique and varied is special to me, and my adult self is grateful for this exposure I got as a teen.

Contagion

The ruins of an ancient civilization somehow destroy a starship, and have begun to affect the Enterprise and a nearby Romulan vessel.

There’s even briefer things to say here. Much of this episode is simply some solid action-adventure, but there’s a couple of things to mention:

Archeology is here revealed as a passionate hobby of Picard’s. He is again a model of pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Despite pressure in my family to excel academically, it is Picard’s modeling of true curiosity that fired my imagination.

There is a kind of standoffishness and indignance in Riker’s leadership style. It’s another way that I feel distanced from him, and I was uninterested in learning more at this point.

At one point, they’re discussing the known history of an ancient civilization, and Picard casually offers the observation that “the victors write history.” My mind was blown by this idea. I remember not hearing it anywhere else for a long time, and feeling I had been let in on some sort of secret here, in this small questioning of the objectivity of historical records.

Data is absolutely adorable. No further context needed.

1. From http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=88747
2. From http://www.startrek.com/database_article/contagion

Published in: on July 13, 2012 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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