I think it's finally time to go

So... I think I'll be shutting down this LJ soon. I mostly post to Tumblr initially, that might soon change to some other platform (Pillowfort is trying so hard) but in the meantime, Dreamwidth is somewhat less Russian and rather less likely to do intensely shady things like making you sign a TOS without letting you in to delete your account first. So.

Probably won't be immediate. I've wiped out a couple of old comms and my existing LJ entries will be on Dreamwidth, as will anything else that would once have been crossposted to LJ. I've got to go through all my posts and see if there's anything actually still hosted here (pictures, docs, etc.) but from there I'm going to go through and actually delete older stuff.

It's a shame. But we all knew it was heading in this direction.
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So it’s definitely spring now

We’ve been sitting here in our office sneezing and sniffling and being all like “god WHAT is in the air today that all our allergies are so bad?” And then I actually looked up the pollen report and

…oh. So basically. All the things I’m allergic to. Okay.

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nsmtnz: In this episode, in a roundabout treatise on bodily...


In this episode, in a roundabout treatise on bodily autonomy and how you shouldn’t fuck with it, some jerkface glowy space lights impersonate The Patriarchy.

(Poor, poor) Mira Romaine, Space Archivist, is on board the Enterprise to install new equipment on Memory Alpha, the Federation’s cultural repository. So, space library/archive, basically. We love this idea, even though its practicality is highly limited due to having been conceived of in an age before network connectivity or automatic quadruple backups and therefore about as vulnerable as the Library of Alexandria. Spoiler: things end about as well for Memory Alpha. 

Like, I love this idea, but the execution infuriates me???

The Enterprise runs into the Patriarchy Lights (aka: the titular Lights of Zetar) on their way there and a bunch of people get weird headaches, but Lieutenant Mira Romaine gets first-stage possessed by the Lights and starts having visions.

So, this sounds interesting. Right? Except the show completely drops the ball.

Mostly Romaine is unnecessary to this episode, because despite being written by a woman (though we’re inclined to blame dude-rewrites) - Shari Lewis, to be specific! - this episode, that is nominally about a woman’s bodily autonomy, consists mainly of a bunch of men, including male-voiced incorporeal-douchebag space-lights (oh look, it’s another exciting episode of You Literally Cannot Trust Ascended Beings) standing around arguing about the woman’s rights while the woman in question writhes, incapacitated in one way or another, in a corner.

Or… floats, as the case may be.

The Lights want to take over Romaine’s body, and keep it until it dies. Romaine, obviously, is seriously fucking opposed to this (we think - she doesn’t get many lines). The dudes in her life (including an inexplicably-besotted Scotty who takes their unconvincingly-portrayed budding relationship as license to speak for Mira, condescend to Mira over things that turn out to be very fucking real and important after all, and make decisions for her) are like, philosophically opposed to and argue against this and are even willing to straight-up kill in order to prevent it, but at no point actually ask Mira what she wants.

Worse, nearly the entire episode is actually told not from Mira’s point of view, but from Scotty’s. And Scotty spends the first half of the episode trying to reverse-gaslight Romaine out of reporting her weird visions, or believing anything is seriously wrong with her.

Don’t worry, it’s probably just your uterus! Those cause precognitive visions, right?

Basically with a few tweaks here and there - completely excise the weird romance sideplot, give Mira 75% more dialogue and a refocusing of the story on Mira’s POV - this could have been a great episode. As it is, the NSMTNZ crew can award it no better than a “meh.”

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

So close, and yet so full of shit.

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nsmtnz: Buckle up, nerds, because this week’s


Buckle up, nerds, because this week’s episode brings together two of our favourite things: 1. Star Trek and 2. a cozy murder mystery! We’re so excited.

(Okay, 2/3 of us are excited. But Kim was loudly overruled because DEMOCRACY.)

There’s no contrived excuse for tossing our crew into the mystery this time: it’s a straight-up scientific investigation of a weird planet that shouldn’t exist in nature. Hallucination? Artificial planet? Sensor ghosts? Actual ghosts? But Kirk decides the most sensible method of investigation is to actually beam down.

Go away, we don’t want any!

That’s maybe his moment of most questionable judgement in the episode (as evidenced by the Ghost of Purple Space Christmas Past popping on board to scream a too-late warning), but we want to give points from then on. A TOS episode in which nearly everyone, nearly all of the time, thinks things through before acting? In which we not only make verbal callbacks to previous episodes, but learn the lessons of previous failures? Impossible!

“Remember that thing that time?” “Oh, shit, you’re right.”

There’s a weird through-running series of out-of-place “oh, she’s killing us one by one but she’s soooooo beeeeeeoooooootifulllll” comments by the male characters, but… it actually turns out to make relevant sense, in a kind of subversive, roundabout kind of way. It took us most of the ep to work this out, and we’re really really mad about it.

This is actually a really enjoyable episode, given that not all that much happens? There’s a murder mystery; there’s a cultural puzzle to be solved; there’s a lot of problem-solving that requires extensive use of logic and deduction; there’s a plethora of crisis-reaction shots which are mainly women; there’s Lee Merriweather aka Catwoman as our female guest star! There’s a character clearly intended to be Indian who was played by a Jewish-American actress which really threw our POC count into a tizzy but we decided to come down on the side of who does a hell of a lot of out-loud problem-solving in a command position on the bridge of the Enterprise. Like, there are some weird, potentially-problematic bits of the type and in roughly the proportions we have come to expect them from TOS, but for the most part, it is good?

It’s like a space pants suit. For murder.

Strange. Confusing. Surprising. Especially given the magnificent insanity of this outfit.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

I feel like I didn’t really do the Purple Space Pants Suit justice but honestly, who could have?

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nsmtnz: So, chances are, you have a hazy memory of a Star Trek...


So, chances are, you have a hazy memory of a Star Trek episode that takes place in a mental hospital of some kind. Like us, you probably made it to Dagger of the Mind and went “wait, what? why is this way worse than I remember, and not just because it’s been twenty years since I last saw it?” Well, I’m about to put your mind at ease, because it turns out that there are, in fact, two Original Series episodes that a) take place in a mental health facility and b) talk about mental illness in a surprisingly sympathetic and progressive way, e.g. It Is An Illness, and this is the second one. The do-over, if you will, given that their actual plots are really, really similar. And spoiler: this one’s a lot better.

I mean, on costumes ALONE.

The Enterprise visits the Elba 2 asylum (a facility for the “incorrigibly criminally insane” deemed incurable by other medical means) to deliver a new wonder drug that Federation scientists hope will provide the cure to all mental illness… or at least, that’s the idea, broadly speaking. Kirk and Spock beam down to deliver the vials and learn that one of Kirk’s heroes, Captain Garth, aka: Garth of Izar, is now an inmate at the hospital. Because apparently no one’s ever told him that you should never meet your heroes (seriously, specifically in Kirk’s case - it never goes well), he asks the Governor if he can see Garth.

Naturally, it’s about two minutes later that we learn that Garth has replaced Governor Corey, taken over the asylum, developed an ultra-explosive capable of destroying planets, and has grand plans to take over the galaxy because the extinction of war as a way of life has made humans weak and robbed them of purpose. Oh, and by the way, Garth has developed shapeshifting powers that allow him to look like anyone he wants. Guess who his new favourite shape turns out to be.

There are… literally too many double-blank jokes.

Kirk is absolutely opposed to this entire way of thinking, and he says so, a lot. Peace, Kirk says, gave him purpose. Peace brought prosperity to the galaxy. Peace made Kirk and Spock brothers. Peace - and compassion, and friendship - are the way forward, into the future.

If this refrain sounds familiar to those of you who’ve seen and liked the thesis statement of Star Trek: Beyond, you’re not alone. And this episode deals with similar themes, enough that we saw direct connections between Whom Gods Destroy and the reboot film. Garth, despite his clear Napoleonic roots, is a sympathetic character. Kirk, while trying to argue him out of the whole galactic domination thing, repeatedly tells Garth that what he’s doing is wrong, but that it’s not his fault: that he’s sick, and that what’s happening isn’t his fault. You could brush this off as coming from Kirk’s clear affection for the man’s legacy, but it’s also obviously rooted in a culture that has gone a long way in destigmatizing mental illness. Garth, we’re told over and over again, is not his mental illness. Garth’s not crazy, he’s sick, and Kirk wants to help him.

The most stylish mental hospital in the galaxy.

These are all attitudes we rarely see convincingly portrayed in twenty-first century television, and moreover, it’s strongly implied that a life of war and its associated trauma may have caused Garth’s mental illness in the first place, long before an accident maimed him and led to his developing superpowers. In the end, the message of this episode is larger than our oft-repeated “safe words save lives.” It’s about compassion, and about how friendship is, really, kinda magic.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

Two Kirks, and some surprisingly good decision-making. Who could have foreseen this.

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nsmtnz: This week, Kirk gets kidnapped by an alien queen to...


This week, Kirk gets kidnapped by an alien queen to become part of her man-harem.

No, literally.

And we love her.

It starts as all bad days for the Enterprise start: with them answering a distress call. Only when they arrive, there’s nobody home; just an entire abandoned city and a lot of annoying buzzing noises. Are they all dead? Is the distress call merely on repeat from long ago? Maybe we should just go?

Our favourite part of the male aliens’ outfits is the ultra-low-cut shirts. V. snazzy.

But they lose their first redshirt maybe two minutes in, realize five minutes later they’ve brought something dangerous back aboard the ship with them, and then we’re off and running. Mostly the crisis amounts to irritating mosquito-sounds until Kirk, himself, disappears - or rather, is accelerated far beyond everyone else - and finds himself in a bizarro-world where his crew is frozen in place and he’s alone, at normal speed, with Deelah.

We have no idea how this outfit works, but it’s a marvel and so is Deelah.

We love Deelah. She knows what she wants, knows what she has to do, and she’s not going to let any insignificant considerations like the objectively unethical shading of abducting people to be your unwilling sperm factories stop her from getting any of it.

Deelah was immediately nominated to our top 10 of female TOS characters. She’s smart, witty, unimpressed by Kirk but also unafraid to say what she wants, and then, uh, take it. She’s in a shitty situation, with her culture and her species on the edge of extinction, but she’s dealing, and did we mention this is the second or third lady in a few episodes to be the undisputed ruler of an entire civilization? I mean, that civilization is down to maybe five people, but still. Plus it seems to be a matriarchy.

Did we mention she outsmarts Kirk about 79 times before the episode is more than fifteen minutes in?

Honestly, this is a pretty solid episode. We get a puzzle, characters whose motivations are clear, and a conflict where you understand why the bad guys are doing what they’re doing, even while you acknowledge that it’s ethically… uh, grey.

We do have some issues with the parting shot/decision on the part of Kirk & Co where he basically dooms the Scalosians to extinction despite having the cure, but up until the last three minutes, it’s a thing of beauty.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

NGL, we are all about the episodes that flip the gender dynamic and objectify men.

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nsmtnz: So fair warning on two counts: this episode contains...


So fair warning on two counts:

this episode contains multiple instances of various kinds of assault, humiliation, and other hella disturbing violations of people’s rights, and

you will have to listen to both William Shatner and Corene make this noise, multiple times:

Plato’s Stepchildren is another of those classic Star Trek stories that everyone has heard of, and in a lot of ways it’s based on a theme that’s often repeated throughout the franchise: intrepid crew meets omniscient aliens who use their ineffable power to fuck with people, omniscient aliens must be taken down a peg and justice is restored. It’s a well-worn and dependable formula.

On the other hand, though, this episode also includes a variety of some of TOS’s most explicit statements about both the perceived backwardness of its contemporary audience, and broader thesis statements about the underlying messages of Trek.

So the trouble starts when the Enterprise answers a distress call from Platonia, peopled by a race (if you can call 38 eugenically-chosen people a “race”) of functionally-immortal aliens who have based their society on the teachings of Plato, absorbed during a millennia-ago trip to Earth. Unfortunately, the Platonians don’t seem to have absorbed the full range of Platonic ideas, specifically hand-waving the parts about peace and justice in favour of living lives so contemplative and “simple” (for a certain value of “simple” that means “extreme luxury and every whim satisfied”) that they’ve gotten too lazy to maintain immune systems. This is what brings Kirk, Spock, and Bones to them in the first place: their self-styled philosopher-king has gotten a tiny cut and developed a deadly bacterial infection. Bones easily fixes this with basic medical science, and the Platonians reward them by turning them into their newest telekinetic playthings.

Must give credit to the balls-to-the-wall physical acting in this episode.

Did I mention that the Platonians also have telekinetic powers, which they mostly use to play games and torture people?

So, “playthings” is too mild. In fact, the lone exception to the Platonians’ superpowers is a little person named Alexander (played by Michael Dunn, who we awarded Performance of the Episode about three minutes in), who seems to be kept around to mock, torture, and push around.

Again, there are a lot of really disturbing moments in this episode. There are a number of scenes that amount to straight-up torture, which are absolutely carried out for the amusement of the Platonians. But here`s the thing: the whole thing is a set of super-unsubtle metaphors. The Platonians’ powers are the disproportionate influence granted by wealth and privilege, and the way that when one part of the population has an obscenely disproportionate level of either, they will use it to oppress and harm those who don’t. When offered the power he’s been so long denied, at the point where our heroes figure out how to out-brain their oppressors, Alexander turns it down: “I don’t want to be like them,” he tells Kirk, after Kirk has laid out as explicit an endorsement of Trek’s futuristic socialism and extreme inclusiveness as I’ve ever seen in Original Trek. “Where we come from,” he tells an incredulous Alexander, “size, shape, or colour makes no difference, and no one has the power.” “The power,” here, being literally their tormentors’ superpowers, but they may as well be handing a printed indictment of rich white supremacist elite right through the fourth wall and directly into the viewers’ living rooms.

It’s not you. They really are just giant bags of dicks.

Add to this the fact that this episode contains the famous First Interracial Kiss (though it’s under undeniably disturbing circumstances and may or may not be the “first,” historically), we can’t exactly call this episode subtle. But we can appreciate it for both its timeliness and how ahead of its time it managed to be.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

Both subtle and oh god, the air-dancing.

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nsmtnz: This week’s episode really, really


This week’s episode really, really wanted to be a ghost story.

It almost manages it - Kirk, rather than saving the day, spends most of the episode floating at low-opacity in the background, waving his arms - but mostly this episode is about getting along.

And also how you never, ever fucking board a ghost ship.

I’m just saying, “let’s go visit” would not be my first impulse.

The Enterprise is in search of yet another missing ship, this time the Defiant (you might recognize the name from a successor’s major appearance on DS9), which is missing and adrift in a section of uncharted territory where space is literally falling apart around it. Into this comes charging the Enterprise, whereupon they immediately become ensnared in the region’s weird physics and harmful side-effects. Specifically: this part of space does a particular kind of brain damage that makes humans go slowly insane.

This is a pretty well-worn plot for TOS, a Man vs. Environment tale where they have to brain their way out of a seemingly impossible situation. What’s unexpected is that after beaming aboard the ghost ship and finding the Defiant’s entire crew not only dead, but murdered by each other, they beam back to the Enterprise and leave Kirk behind… and then he’s lost.

I mean… sort of. Physically.

You read that right: for most of this episode, the crew is not only without the guidance of their captain, but they’re pretty sure he’s dead. They even hold a mini-memorial, is-this-really-the-time memorial service midway through the episode, which mostly serves to highlight the tensions between the surviving senior officers, namely Spock and Bones who, absent the social lubricant usually provided by Kirk, are having what we will call “issues” with their grief, the dangerous situation, and each other.

Fortunately, the triumph of this story is basically what Kirk leaves in his Final Message addressed to Bones and Spock: we need to get along with each other in order to survive.

Also: social drinking solves everything.

As for the titular Tholians? Well, they’re there, for maybe the last 25% of the episode, and they mostly serve to crank up the ticking-clock pressure and build a space-net. I mean, it’s a nice space-net. I guess.

Overall this is a pretty good bottle-episode, even if the Tholians themselves could have been replaced by, like, the ship’s rapidly dwindling power supply. Or a black hole. Or a really big space rock.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

Orange Tang: the cure for space dementia! This explains so much.

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nsmtnz: So just to get this out of the way before we start: oh...


So just to get this out of the way before we start: oh god, later Klingons are so much better than TOS-era Klingons. Not just in terms of, you know, a vastly more fleshed-out and consistent culture and general coolness factor, but also because of the wow, really terrible (both in terms of, you know, just being brownface and also because of the impossibly bad quality) brownface makeup. It is somehow most noticeable on Kang’s science officer, wife and one of only two Klingon ladies in the original series, Mara.

It’s fine, just melt a Hershey bar and smear it all over their faces. No one will notice.

(A heads-up at this point that this episode does include a scene with a sexual assault.)

We’re not sure what the goal here was, since earlier TOS Klingons didn’t… really… have this? So we’re not sure what makeup and wardrobe were smoking that day, but.

This week’s episode also purports to deliver a subtle message of not letting yourself be riled up by bullshit, hate-mongering propaganda to hate and fight things that actually have nothing to do with your own life (we try, guys; we try) that could conceivably be relevant to today’s mediasphere, but actually just brings us a torturously drawn-out metaphor for how we should all just hug it out.

We genuinely did not need the other 50 minutes.

Here’s the rundown: the Enterprise and a Klingon ship under the command of one of our favourite Klingons, Kang, are tricked into a rendezvous. The planet supposedly had a Federation colony on it, but it`s mysteriously gone, with no sign on their instruments that it ever existed. The Klingon ship, on the other hand, suffers a catastrophic malfunction that (possibly) kills 400 of their crew. Tragedy on both sides! How terrible! And then the Enterprise beams the survivors aboard, leaving them with equal numbers of Klingons and Federation crew, and suddenly shit gets weird. 

By which I mean: a bunch of swords appear from thin air.

The takeway is that the whole thing is a hoax perpetrated by a glowy disco-ball alien that feeds on negative emotions like hatred, specifically “race hatred,” because while Star Trek has never been a subtle beast when it comes to its messaging, TOS is somehow even less subtle than its descendants. The disco ball wanted to keep them fighting so it could suck up all those delicious, delicious bigotry feelings, even going so far as to revive fallen fighters when they’ve been killed by the other side.


Like I said, Trek is not subtle. On the other hand, we mostly don’t mind.

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[From The Not So Much The Neutral Zone Podcast]

Oh god, so bad.

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