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Star Trek Discovery has wrapped up the first half of its first season and we’re diving in to discuss the controversial addition to the Star Trek universe. What did that cliffhanger mean? Is the show too dark? What’s it saying about the state of the world? And why isn’t this on television!? We’re talking all of that and more when we’re joined by guest Sarah Rasher.

Sarah Rasher began their Starfleet career by founding their high school’s Star Trek club, which doubled as a Gay-Straight Alliance. Now, in addition to being totally obsessed with Star Trek Discovery, they are embarking on yet another rewatch of Deep Space Nine. When not overly invested in Star Trek, Sarah works in education research and blogs about competitive figure skating at thefinersports.com.

Eaglemoss’ “Boldly Cruise” Sweepstakes

With Star Trek fans throughout the US celebrating the 30th anniversary of the “continuing mission” of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Eaglemoss Collections – in partnership with Entertainment Cruise Productionsinvites everyone to enter the “Boldly Cruise” Sweepstakes for a chance to join George Takei and friends on a true voyage of excitement aboard Star Trek: The Cruise II.

By visiting eaglemossgiveaway.com from now until November 30th, fans can enter to win the Grand Prize of a 6 Day All-Inclusive Cruise for Two aboard the spectacular Norwegian Jade, transformed into Star Trek: The Cruise II and packed with special Star Trek-themed interactive events, shows and programs.

George Takei takes the helm as Cruise Host and will be joined by nearly 20 other iconic Star Trek actors and personalities. Grand Prize also includes a bundle of fan favorite Starships and Graphic Novels from Eaglemoss’ Official Star Trek Starship, XL Edition and Graphic Novel Collections.

Five additional winners will receive a mini-fleet of bestselling starships and a selection of TNG-themed graphic novels.

For official rules and to enter, can go to eaglemossgiveaway.com. Once there, they can simply provide their name and valid e-mail address and they’re in! No purchase is necessary to enter the “Boldly Cruise” Sweepstakes. Last day to enter is November 30, 2017.

Why Star Trek: Discovery Matters for Representation

In various interviews about her “Star Trek” role, Whoopi Goldberg describes why she wanted to be on the show: Up until “Star Trek,” people of color weren’t included in any vision of the future. She grew up in an era of segregation, with high-profile murders of civil rights leaders and activists, and a renewed push to build Confederate monuments. In such a time representation in science fiction might seem unimportant, but for 9-year-old Whoopi, it meant the world. Over the years she’s been very clear about how much it meant to her to see Lt. Uhura—a black woman—on screen. But despite the progressive history of “Star Trek,” LGBTQ children have never had the opportunity to see themselves represented on the show until now. This week’s episode of “Star Trek: Discovery” takes us inside the bedroom of a gay couple, putting their relationship front and center for the first time in the 50-year history of “Star Trek.”

“Star Trek” was groundbreaking for its representations of people of color and women. In addition to Nichelle Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura, George Takei played Lt. Sulu, who eventually becomes a captain, and Walter Koenig’s Ensign Pavel Chekov—at the height of the Cold War—showed a future where the Soviet Union was not an enemy. “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to show women in command; the original pilot had a female first officer, but the studio nixed it. The show was also groundbreaking for having one of the first interracial kisses on TV. “Star Trek” offered a view of the future that was so fundamentally different and inclusive that it inspired people about their possibilities.

None of this is meant to negate some of the very real problems with sexism and racism that did creep through. Women wore skirts and, according to one episode, were not allowed to be captains. And in one episode, Uhura’s mind was erased and she suddenly spoke Swahili. Those are relics of the era and mistakes we shouldn’t repeat. But the grand mission of “Star Trek”—to show a future where humanity has overcome racism, hatred and greed, and has united to expand our understanding of the universe—is one that is as necessary today as it was in the 1960s.

While “Star Trek” was a pioneer in depicting people of color and women, it’s been sadly behind the curve in its representation of queer communities. Of course, in the original series there wouldn’t have been LGBTQ representation. It was the beginning of the LGBTQ movement. The Stonewall Riots happened the month the show was canceled, and it would be another decade before Harvey Milk would burst onto the scene in San Francisco.

But by the 90s and early 2000s, when “Star Trek” had the opportunity to continue with Roddenberry’s progressive vision of the future and include LGBTQ people, it did not. The producers flirted with it; Roddenberry himself was supportive of an AIDS metaphor episode, which would have been fitting since one of the actors from the film series died from AIDS related causes around the same time. But the network scrapped that idea. An episode of “The Next Generation” did feature an agender species, and “Deep Space Nine” had two women kiss. This kiss was a big deal; it came two years before Ellen DeGeneres came out, and it generated more hate mail than most episodes. But despite efforts over many years to have a LGBTQ character on “Star Trek,” our communities were mostly left behind by the franchise.

More recently, the film reboots have retconned Sulu to be gay, with the introduction of a husband and child, seen from a distance in 2016. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of Sulu and his family in the fourth film, and while it was a very nice step for LGTBQ representation, it was also a very small aside.

Part of what got Whoopi Goldberg so excited about “Star Trek” was not only the existence of a black woman in that fictional world but the dignity with which she was treated:

“When I was 9 years old, ‘Star Trek’ came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mom, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.”

Dignity is particularly important. LGBTQ people are often a punchline. Take a look at the recent remake of “Beauty and the Beast”; the gay character is a buffoon, someone to laugh at. Or producers will present a sexually charged scene with perfect bodies, meant more for eye candy than character development. And when it’s two women, it’s almost always directed for the male gaze. “Star Trek: Discovery,” however, takes us into the bedroom of a committed couple as they talk about their fears and their love for each other. It focuses specifically on an argument they have, centered on career and personal safety. This is a scene about them as people, whole and complete, struggling with what every other person struggles with. It affirms queer dignity, agency and love. It shows us that we make it to the 23rd century.

Before someone says “Of course you make it to the future,” just stop. The president of the United States made a joke about how the vice president would like to hang us all. He spoke at the conference of an actual real-life LGBTQ hate group this past weekend. Globally there are countries that still execute us. In the United States, poverty rates are higher for LGBTQ people, you can be fired in 28 states for being gay, and violence and hate crimes are on the rise. All of this is to say that we deserve to have a future to look forward to. We deserve to look at the TV and see ourselves portrayed with dignity—the way that Whoopi Goldberg and Martin Luther King Jr. did when they watched “Star Trek” in the 60s.

Growing up, I loved “Star Trek.” I discovered it when I was 6 or 7. It was the only show my mother allowed us to watch, because she too liked this vision for the future. My parents were going through a rather unpleasant divorce, and “Star Trek” offered a refuge, a stability in the future that I didn’t have in my daily life. I gravitated toward and saw myself most in the outsider characters—Spock, Data,  Odo and 7 of 9. I wasn’t quite represented; yes, there were white men, but none of them were quite like me. I recognize now that it was those characters’ struggle to fit in that I connected with. Ultimately, I felt alienated from the people and relationships portrayed in the media. Kids today who watch “Star Trek” don’t have to feel like outsiders; they get to be full people in the series.

Throughout the 80s, 90s and into the 21st century, television made huge strides in LGBTQ representation. “Designing Women,” “Will & Grace” and “Glee” saw LGBTQ storylines develop from one-off episodes to central plots of the series. Even science fiction, full of male bravado and, too often, toxic masculinity, managed to begin to include us before “Star Trek.” “Torchwood,” “True Blood,” “The Walking Dead” and others have had LGBTQ characters and storylines. The “Battlestar Galactica” web series outed a main character; the prequel series “Caprica” had a major gay relationship. And “Stargate” had a lesbian main character in 2009. Of course, there was no “Star Trek” during most of the era when sci-fi began including us.

This may seem small, but it’s affirming and it’s exciting. “Star Trek” has finally come into the modern era and made us a part of the future.


Asher Huey is a DC based progressive activist and organizer.

The Top 60 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes

With Star Trek: Discovery debuting to rave reviews and a level of quality that justifies paying for CBS All Access, the Star Trek universe is back in the fannish consciousness. If you’re suffering from Trek withdrawal in the week-long breaks between new episodes – and you just shelled out for the streaming service – the classic series from the 1990s Trek renaissance could be your methadone. There’s just one problem: those ’90s Treks are wildly uneven. Whether you’re a new fan looking to catch up, or you watched years ago but can’t remember which were the good ones, here is a thumbnail guide to the top 60 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Season 1

The consensus is Skip with Extreme Prejudice, and most of it is indeed terrible. There’s no reason to watch the interminable pilot episode. You can get by on the following three:

  1. “Datalore” (S1 E13): Brent Spiner acts his shiny metal ass off in the first of many episodes where he gets to play Data and Data’s evil twin. This is exciting and darkly funny in exactly the way that the rest of the season fails to be.
  2. “Skin of Evil” (S1 E23): The effects are tacky and some of the dialogue is ho-hum, but it features one of the most brutal character deaths in TV history. It’s also one of those stories that looms over the whole rest of the series.
  3. “Conspiracy” (S1 E25): A tight, paranoid thriller that plays with Cold War fears in a satisfying sci-fi way. One of Badass Picard’s shining moments.

Season 2

Most of season 2 is not actually better than season 1, but its handful of high points are among the best of the entire series.

  1. “A Matter of Honor” (S2 E8): Riker goes to a Klingon ship in an officer exchange program, resulting in character development for him and worldbuilding for Klingon-kind.
  2. “The Measure of a Man” (S2 E9): Data’s humanity goes on trial, Picard and Riker show off some lawyering moves straight off of Law & Order, and we wind up with one of the uncontested classics of the series, a meditation on the boundaries of personhood.
  3. “Q Who” (S2 E16): There were two Q episodes before this, but this is the first where the character and his role in the show come into focus. Also, a creepy rough draft version of the Borg, and some of the series’ most lyrical dialogue.
  4. “The Emissary” (S2 E20): Come for the hot Klingon holodeck sex, stay for the well-paced political intrigue and set-up for a series-long Klingon arc.

Season 3

Arguably the best season of the entire show, despite some mega-turds that we will be skipping. Everyone got new uniforms, and this show finally figured out what it wanted to be. Even the comedy episodes are solid.

  1. “Who Watches the Watchers” (S3 E4): An underrated gem, in which Picard has to convince a colony of early modern Vulcans that he is not God.
  2. “The Enemy” (S3 E7): Geordi gets stranded on a hostile planet with a Romulan. This manages to say smart things about disability as well as raising a big middle finger to Cold War prejudice.
  3. “The Defector” (S3 E10): A taut, quiet character piece masquerading as big Romulan political drama, with satisfying twists at each act break. Also, bonus Shakespeare.
  4. “Deja Q” (S3 E13): Q gets in trouble with the Continuum and is dropped, naked and terrified, on the Enterprise John de Lancie’s comic timing is so perfect that it’s infectious, but the concept is played for empathy as well as humor.
  5. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (S3 E15): The Enterprise time travels into an AU dystopia, and the only way out is painful sacrifice. Saying more will ruin a near-perfect hour of Trek.
  6. “The Offspring” (S3 E16): Data builds an android child, and if you are not weeping at the end, you have no soul.
  7. “Sins of the Father” (S3 E17): Worf gets wrapped up in other Klingons’ political drama, and we get a glimpse of the underappreciated bond between Worf and Picard.
  8. “Captain’s Holiday” (S3 E19): This features a Ferengi in a Hawaiian shirt, a running bit with an alien sex totem, and a love interest for Picard. In spite of the above, it is a delight.
  9. “Hollow Pursuits” (S3 E21): There are a few off-putting moments here, and the message about addiction and gaming is an artifact of the late ’80s. But it’s key as an introduction to Barclay, and as a prescient exploration of geek culture at its exploitative and objectifying worst.
  10. “The Most Toys” (S3 E22): Data gets kidnapped by a rich creep who wants to “collect” him as a priceless artifact. This covers a huge amount of ethical ground in an hour and features Data at his most human.
  11. “Sarek” (S3 E23): A meditation on aging and dignity, with Vulcans. Once you stop crying, you will seethe with rage that Patrick Stewart was never nominated for an Emmy for this role.
  12. “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” (S3 E26): Imagine a pre-internet era when nobody was spoiled for the season finale, and cliffhangers were rare. Then imagine the impact of this brilliant hour of sci-fi horror.

 

Season 4

Still peak TNG, with a greater focus on character arcs and emotional development. There’s even a good Lwaxana Troi episode.

  1. “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II” (S4 E1): The stunning conclusion is a minor affront to principles of computer science, but it’s so tense and emotionally affecting that the Federation’s victory feels plausible and earned.
  2. “Family” (S4 E2): Rather than bounding along as if the events of BoBW were a distant memory, the show stops to acknowledge the lasting psychological effects of Picard’s experiences. Also, bonus unsexy mud wrestling.
  3. “Brothers” (S4 E3): Everyone in this episode is played by Brent Spiner. It’s another quiet, character-focused hour, and a companion piece to “Family.”
  4. “Remember Me” (S4 E5): Four seasons in, and one of the female leads finally gets to sink her teeth into a strong episode. Gates McFadden navigates smartly through a twist on a classic nightmare tale.
  5. “Reunion” (S4 E7): More Klingon intrigue, the second most brutal character death of the series, and Michael Dorn acting through his prosthetics like a true professional.
  6. “Future Imperfect” (S4 E8): Riker wakes up in the future with retrograde amnesia, and of course nothing is as it seems. The twists are more predictable than in some other, similar episodes, but it’s a popular one and a clever sci-fi concept.
  7. “The Wounded” (S4 E12): My hipster pick for best episode of the series, perhaps because it’s an O’Brien episode. Or actually because it’s a brilliant meditation on racism and the psychological toll of war.
  8. “First Contact” (S4 E13): Come to watch Riker get sexually assaulted by Lilith from Cheers, stay for one of the smartest “day the aliens came” narratives in TV history.
  9. “The Nth Degree” (S4 E19): Flowers for Algernon on the holodeck, but more than the sum of those parts.
  10. “The Drumhead” (S4 E21): I’m including this one because the fan consensus is that it’s a classic, which I guess is true if you like slow courtroom dramas with an extra helping of didacticism. Eh, you’ll probably enjoy it more than I do.
  11. “Half a Life” (S4 E22): Lwaxana Troi finally gets an awesome boyfriend, and she has to fight to keep him alive. Who knew this show had so many great episodes about aging?
  12. “Redemption, Part I” (S4 E26): Big, knotty, compelling Klingon drama, with cliffhanger.

Season 5

This season was really uneven, but you’ll never tell from my picks, which include many of TNG’s finest moments.

  1. “Redemption, Part II” (S5 E1): The Klingon drama gets knottier when the Romulans show up.
  2. “Darmok” (S5 E2): If you ever doubt that science fiction inspires, note that this is my non-hipster favorite episode, I have a Ph.D. in Shakespeare, and I currently work in English Learner education.
  3. “Disaster” (S5 E5): One of TNG’s best moments of trashy fun, as the ship breaks down and everyone is thrown out of their element. As with all the best trashy fun, there’s genuine character development, especially for Picard and Troi.
  4. “Unification, Parts I and II” (S5 E7-8): Fun stunt makeup, bonus Spock, and a depiction of reform and revolution that both celebrates the fall of the Iron Curtain and presages Arab Spring.
  5. “The Outcast” (S5 E17): Some aspects of Riker’s romance with a rebel from a repressively mono-gendered species have 1992 stamped all over them, but overall, this is a remarkably sensitive exploration of transgender experience.
  6. “Cause and Effect” (S5 E18): Crusher gets trapped in a Groundhog Day loop, in what remains one of the most effective examples of my favorite standard genre fiction plot.
  7. “The Perfect Mate” (S5 E21): What could have been a self-undermining bro-feminist lament about the objectification of women is instead a complex and tender Jean Grey/Professor X AU romance.
  8. “I, Borg” (S5 E23): Geordi finds an orphaned teenage Borg and attempts to raise him as his own, in a very special episode of Different Strokes that never takes the easy way out of its ethical questions.
  9. “The Inner Light” (S5 E25): Picard experiences the life of a man from a planet destroyed in a long-ago natural disaster, in one of the simplest and most touching episodes of the series. One of TV’s great format-breaker episodes, too.
  10. “Time’s Arrow, Part I” (S5 E26): Data travels back to 19th-century San Francisco in search of his own severed head, and then Mark Twain shows up.

Season 6

The show started showing its age at this point, but it also got deliciously weird and dark.

  1. “Time’s Arrow, Part II” (S6 E1): The rest of the crew goes back in time to retrieve Data, meet Guinan, improvise Shakespeare, and practically break the fourth wall begging you not to think too hard about this.
  2. “Schisms” (S6 E5): This eerie body horror mystery is an underrated gem with twists that swerve just as you see them coming.
  3. “The Quality of Life” (S6 E9): Adorable Roombas achieve sentience, and Data’s impassioned defense of their right to life is a lovely extension of his series-long character arc.
  4. “Chain of Command, Parts I and II” (S6 E10-11): My other other favorite episode splits its time between a harrowing torture and interrogation plot and a more mundane depiction of a dangerously horrible boss.
  5. “Face of the Enemy” (S6 E14): It took TNG 6.5 seasons to give us a decent Troi episode, but when they finally did, it was one of the best of the series. Troi goes undercover as a Romulan, and Marina Sirtis’ acting skills get let out of their corset, too.
  6. “Tapestry” (S6 E15): Q rescues Picard from the brink of death and gives him the It’s a Wonderful Life treatment, only with more stabbing and homoeroticism.
  7. “Starship Mine” (S6 E18): What, you’re going to skip Die Hard in space with Picard as McClane? Didn’t think so.
  8. “Frame of Mind” (S6 E21): Riker is trapped in an alien mental institution! Except he’s not crazy! And except this avoids most of the cliches and is maybe the scariest episode of the series!
  9. Second Chances (S6 E24): Because there were not enough evil twins on this show already, it turns out a transporter accident created a duplicate Riker. It’s played for angst, which surprisingly is the right move.
  10. Timescape (S6 E25): A trippy mind-screw of a temporal mechanics episode in which the nerds save the day.
  11. Descent, Part I (S6 E26): OH CRAP THE BORG ARE BACK.

Season 7

This was the planned last season, and you can smell the producers scrambling to wrap up most storylines and punt the rest to DS9 and Voyager. Nonetheless, TNG finished strong.

  1. Descent, Part II (S7 E1): OH CRAP THE BORG BROUGHT LORE WITH THEM.
  2. Phantasms (S7 E6): When androids dream of electric sheep, they figure out how to save the Or, the one where Troi is a cake. (The episode itself makes approximately this much sense.)
  3. Attached (S7 E8): Shameless fan service for the Picard/Crusher shippers, which is fine, because you’re one of them by now. Resistance is futile.
  4. Inheritance (S7 E10): Data meets his mother, and the acting is terrific.
  5. Parallels (S7 E11): You make an episode about a character drifting from one parallel universe to another, and it’s a Worf episode? No, actually, that’s a brilliant idea, carry on.
  6. Lower Decks (S7 E15): As if to prove that the show still had a few format-breaking tricks up its sleeve, this episode features a quartet of young, low-ranked crew members and turns our perceptions of the main cast on their heads.
  7. Eye of the Beholder (S7 E18): Troi unravels a psychic murder mystery in a well-paced, emotionally intimate take on a classic ghost story plot.
  8. All Good Things… (S7 E25-26): A series finale so perfect that it improves everything that came before.

What’s Next?

Watch the first two TNG feature films, Generations and First Contact; skip the others. Then, move on to Deep Space Nine (Abridged) and Voyager (Abridged).

Preview: Star Trek: Boldly Go #12

Star Trek: Boldly Go #12

Mike Johnson (w) • Tony Shasteen (a) • George Caltsoudas (c)

The shocking conclusion of “Whom God Destroys”! Kirk and Eurydice remain trapped on the planet Antos IV, while Garth of Izar makes his move to assume command of the Endeavour in orbit above them!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken #4

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken #4

Scott Tipton & David Tipton (w) • J.K. Woodward (a & c)

The Enterprise-D is finally under the command of Jean-Luc Picard, and he’s on the hunt for enemy warships, looking to strike back for Earth! But Picard’s crew will find themselves under attack from both sides, as the Empire will stop at nothing to regain its secret weapon!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

New York Comic Con 2017: Eaglemoss Soars with Star Trek Debuts and Exclusives

Eaglemoss Collections is winging its way into Booth #1520 at New York Comic Con with a host of exclusives and never-before-seen starships that’ll have generations of Star Trek fans beaming.

In fact, it was overwhelming fan demand that persuaded Eaglemoss’ resident Star Trek expert, Ben Robinson, to start the production of the U.S.S. Aventine NCC-82602, making its U.S. debut at NYCC. Available for purchase as a bonus edition separate from the bestselling Official Star Trek Starships Collection, the Aventine is a Vesta-class Federation starship featured throughout the Star Trek: Destiny series of novels. Under the command of Captain Ezri Dax (from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), its crew of 750 engages the Borg toward the end of the 24 century.

The Aventine joins the U.S.S. Titan NCC-80102 as the only officially authorized Star Trek starships produced by Eaglemoss with their origin in Star Trek literature. Both will be on display and for sale at Eaglemoss booth #1520.

While there, fans will be among the first to get a glimpse of the mega-sized Enterprise NX-01, the fourth starship to join Eaglemoss’ line of XL Editions, along with the third quartet of Star Trek shuttlecraft, including Starfleet Office Complex Travel Pod 05 and a Space Dock Work Bee (both seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture), the Argo shuttle from Star Trek: Nemesis, and the Type-11 Starfleet shuttle seen in Star Trek: Insurrection. Plus, there may also be a surprise appearance of two of the most eagerly anticipated new ships to join the Star Trek pantheon. All ships are under license by CBS Consumer Products.

On display and available for purchase will be the legendary Deep Space Station K-7, the spiritual ancestor to Deep Space Nine and the scene of many “tribble-ations” depicted in Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Finally, fans will be able to get closer to completing their own Official Star Trek Starships Collections with a wide variety of models on display and available for purchase – as well as Volumes One and Two of Star Trek: Designing Starships, plus full-scale replicas of Starship Dedication Plaques.

As part of their celebration of New York Comic Con, Eaglemoss has also launched its “Winner Take All Giveaway!” One Grand Prize winner will receive over $350 in Eaglemoss collectibles selected from the Star Trek, DC Comics and Alien & Predator universes while nine First Prize winners will receive their choice of one those bundles.

New York Comic Con takes place at the Javits Center in NYC on October 5-8, 2017.

Preview: Star Trek: Boldly Go #11

Star Trek: Boldly Go #11

Mike Johnson (w) • Tony Shasteen (a) • George Caltsoudas (c)

The feathered and fearless space pirate EURYDICE returns to tempt Captain Kirk and the crew of the Endeavour with a daring plan to uncover secrets that could change the fate of the galaxy! Don’t miss the latest chapter of the hit series set after the events of STAR TREK BEYOND!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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