Because of my Deep Space Nine rewatch...

… I have a greater appreciation for Nog’s journey

Nog started out the series as a troublemaker. He and his eventual best friend, Jake Sisko, didn’t get along at first. He was constantly in trouble with Odo. Quark always yelled at him. Part of his transformation was due to his friendship with Jake. He gained a vocal supporter. After all, Jake was the one who sacrificed his time after school to tutor Nog so he wouldn’t fall behind. Also through his relationship with Jake, he got an example of a strong, male figure (sorry, Rom) in Benjamin Sisko. It was this quiet respect and admiration for the Captain that Nog boldly declared his intent to join Starfleet.

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The show doesn’t make a big deal about it but his decision was pretty historic. Nog was the first ever (I mean, ever) Ferengi to join Starfleet. With reluctant support from Sisko, Nog set about proving himself. Nog transformed in a major way. Starfleet gave him the direction and purpose that the young Ferengi had been missing. In a pivotal character moment, Nog admitted to Captain Sisko that he didn’t want to end up like his father, Rom. According to Nog, his father was a brilliant engineer but by Ferengi standards he was a failure. Rom didn’t have the lobes for business and couldn’t earn profit. Nog didn’t want that to be his life.

Interestingly, Nog’s decision to break away from traditional Ferengi norms inspired his father. Rom signs up to be part of the station maintenance crew working under Chief O’Brien. He quickly proves his worth as a capable and efficient worker. Also, it was Rom that had the bright idea to make self-replicating mines that kept the Dominion fleet from coming through the wormhole during the Dominion War.

The two episode arc in season 7 where Nog gets injured, loses his leg, and overcome his fear of serving in Starfleet is a masterpiece. 

To see Nog go from troublemaker to a Starfleet Ensign was truly inspiring. Nog found his place and excelled.

…I actually like Klingons

I wouldn’t say I hated Klingons going in but they didn’t hold any interest for me. I didn’t get why people would dress as them at comic cons or speak the language. My entry point for liking Klingons came through Jadzia Dax and General Martok. Jadzia was an outsider who appreciated the culture. She showed me what was beautiful and special about it. General Martok is just a cool ass dude. I love him. I can’t even say it’s one specific thing. Like Captain Sisko, he is one of the few leaders I’d follow into battle. I can think of no higher honor.

I will refrain from expanding on it but I don’t get Worf. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Dorn. I bumped into him at a Star Trek convention and heard him speak. Dorn is funny, charismatic, and a phenomenal storyteller. Worf is dull. Just dull.

…I like Ezri Dax

I know some superfans were crushed to see Jadzia Dax go. Hell, I teared up to because I loved her but I loved Ezri from the beginning. It was great to see a character who was unsure of themselves while dealing with some internal baggage. She’s a great contrast to Jadzia as she didn’t have any interest in being joined but found it thrust upon her. Moreover, she didn’t really have anyone to guide her through the process. She had to bumble her way through it like the rest of us, amirite?

…Bashir is still bae

My crush/thirst for Bashir remains strong. He started out the series as a poorly drawn, inconsistent character. It was mid-season two and definitely in season three that solidified his character. He became the doctor I remembered and began to crush on as a kid. That crush remained intact by series’ end.

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…I finally get Kira and Odo’s relationship

Y’all this was one of the biggest relationships I struggled with. I didn’t see it or understand it as a kid. I was firmly TeamVedekBareil for Kira and TeamLuxannaTroi for Odo. Those love interests fit better to me than Kira & Odo. It was hard to see because the show didn’t really tackle the growing romance head on. In the few times they did, it felt out of place. The turning point for me was season six, specifically His way (S5E20). It really got to root of what was Odo’s problem. That kiss between them was fire. Then I was like yep, I ship this relationship now.

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…I truly get the weight Sisko felt of being the Emissary

I didn’t get it until now that it was a pretty big deal for Sisko to be the Emissary. A prophet to the people of Bajor. He was so integral to the Prophets that they engineered his birth. Sarah, Ben’s real mother, was inhabited by a Prophet in order for her to meet and marry Joseph Sisko so they could conceive Ben. That was like WHOA. WHOA. It also explains why it wasn’t so easy for him to walk away from it. He felt this unconscious pull back to the Prophets. I get that now.

…I dig the male/female platonic relationships

Most these relationships pivot around Sisko. I always knew Ben and Jadzia had a special relationship. He affectionately referred to her as ‘Old Man.’ It didn’t really hit home to me how important this relationship was until the season 7 opener. Ben’s best friend had died and the Prophets had abandoned him and Bajor. He didn’t know what to do but he knew he couldn’t do it at Deep Space Nine. He retreated back to Earth to work at his father’s New Orleans restaurant. It was in a darkened alley while scrubbing clams that he admits it. He was lost AND he missed his best friend.

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Y’all, I teared up for him. I have a friend who is at that level and I cannot imagine life without her. I refuse to even go there mentally because I know I would have a breakdown.

It’s only minutes later that the new Dax host finds Sisko. Ezri tells him that she doesn’t know what to do and that she, like him, feels lost. One thing she knew was that she had to find Sisko. He was her constant and she was his.

I tweeted out:

I really love Sisko and Dax’s relationship. Even though the host has changed, they’ve found their way back to each other at a time when they need the other the most. #ds9 #startrek

I already loved this relationship. His growing relationship with Ezri pushed it into the stratosphere.

One unexpected relationship was Kira and Sisko. Admittedly, it didn’t get nearly as much development. One scene that always stuck out to me took place on the Defiant. Sisko suffered a head injury and it was Kira’s job to keep him away. In a very rare moment between the two of them, Kira admitted why she keeps Sisko at a distance despite how long they’ve worked together. He is the Emissary. How can you be friends with someone who you regard as a spiritual leader? I like that later in the episode, after his recovery, Sisko invites her to a baseball game. Figuratively, he extends an olive branch. To see her face light up was amazing. Through out the rest of the series they have these little moments that harken back to the fact they too have a friendship.

I love it. All of it.

Baewatch: Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko

Ok fam, this post is a bit of a departure from my usual fare. Yes, I’m going to discuss Star Trek: Deep Space Nine but I’m letting my thirst for Captain Sisko shine.

You’ve been warned. Welcome to the thirst trap.

When I watched DS9 as a kid, nine years old to be exact, I was drawn to Benjamin Sisko. It was his blackness. I’ve talked previously about how blackness drew me to science fiction. Watching it as a 33 year old woman, I couldn’t help but notice Benjamin Sisko, the man. Here’s a couple of reasons why he is the ultimate thirst trap for all you science fiction nerds.

That Smile

Now true thirst cannot be complete without talking about the physical. (Guys, if this makes you uncomfortable, move along). Sisko is tall but what really clenches it is that he walks and moves with a quiet gravitas. He isn’t the “look at me” sort but when he is in the room everyone stands just a little straighter.

Sisko has a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts, north of the Wall in Game of Thrones. I mean, just look at it.

I LOVE this middle period when he had the hair and the goatee. Some of the best Sisko-centric (and that smile) came during this all too brief period.

I LOVE this middle period when he had the hair and the goatee. Some of the best Sisko-centric (and that smile) came during this all too brief period.

I personally noted that about mid-season two until season four that smile comes out at least once an episode. When the show took a darker turn with the Dominion War, Sisko smiled less. In fact, he was notably absent for some of season four (a grave error!). But, that smile comes back in season seven when he finds his purpose again. Guys, when that drought ended and the heavens opened up to deliver that smile, I was through.

Devoted Father

Can’t nobody, I mean NOBODY, tell me that Sisko doesn’t love his son! There were so many heart wrenching episodes from season one when Jake fell ill with a seemingly incurable illness, to the alternate reality when he and Jake are separated through a tragic temporal shift, to Jake being possessed by a Pah-Wraith.

Not only that, the amount of affection coupled with discipline is a sight to behold. This is a man I would have a kid with!

A Master in the Kitchen

What I loved most in the show is how they showed Sisko’s love of cooking. He was always cooking whether it was for Jake, hanging with his fellow Starfleet officers, or wooing his main squeeze Kasidy Yates. He was happiest in the kitchen. Not only that, he was an adventurous cook adapting alien food into classic New Orleans cuisine.

His love of blackness

Although his race was not explicitly mentioned in the show, interestingly, Sisko made it clear he was a proud black man. He had African art and sculptures in his quarters. And, in one episode, he spent his vacation on Earth visiting…you guessed it: the motherland.

Also, he is a black man that loved woman but more specifically black women. I love that the show made all his love interest black women. That part made me very happy because black women typically aren’t the love interest in most shows today.

Y’all he loved Jennifer and then Kasidy with a fierceness that made even ya girl either tear up or stand up and shout like I was back in a black Baptist church on Communion Sunday.

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On that Starfleet grind

Sisko was damn good at his job. Full. Stop. No other explanation needed. So don’t @ me on Twitter.

A True Friend

He was a damn good friend. He called them on their bullshit and he had their back when shit went South. When Worf made that critical decision to save Jadzia versus go scoop up the Cardassian spy, Sisko reprimanded him as his superior officer. But, then he low key told Worf, “dude I get it. If it was Jennifer out there dying, I’d peace out on the mission too. Real talk, fam.”

Also, when Ezri Dax comes onboard after Jadzia Dax’s death, he doesn’t skip a beat. He is there for his friend. Sure the host may have changed but that’s still his ride-or-die friend.

Everyone needs a friend like that.

In conclusion

Sisko is the shit. I get that he is a great Captain, one the best and fully realized in the whole Star Trek franchise (again, don’t @ me). But let’s not forget, that man is sexy as hell on all front.

The thirst is real, my friends.

Peace and love.

 

23 years later why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Paradise still bugs the fuck out of me

According to the episode synopsis, Paradise (S2E15) of Deep Space Nine is as follows:

While surveying nearby star systems for M-Class planets, Sisko and O’Brien locate a planet that already supports a colony of humans.

I originally started my rewatch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as part of a bi-weekly blog for Black Girl Nerds. That project has fallen by the wayside but I continued watching old episodes out of nostalgia. DS9 was my first foray into the Star Trek universe. I remember seeing syndicated episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series but they didn’t stick in my mind. They captured my attention for the length of an episode but then I quickly forgot about it afterward.

Deep Space Nine captured my imagination.

The show premiered in 1993 when I was 9 years old. I vaguely remember my mother being excited to see it. It wasn’t until I saw Commander Benjamin Sisko, a black man, on screen that I actually sat down and watched the show. DS9 became a weekly bonding experience with my mother. We would watch it and then during commercial breaks discuss what happened. Then, after the episode was over, we would talk about it at length. I attribute by scifi nerdom and love of Star Trek to my mother. Sometimes when I hear of a new science fiction show or movie, I wonder if my mom would like it and, admittedly, I miss her because I want to talk to her about it. But, I digress.

During my rewatch, one image, one episode kept coming to mind. It was the sight of Sisko crawling into this sweatbox on this planet as punishment. I couldn’t remember the details surrounding it only that the image in my head stirred such strong emotions in me. Emotions that still existed some 23 years later.

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I remember being angry. Angry at the circumstances surrounding the punishment. Proud of Sisko for standing his ground. Lastly, I felt pity because of the physical toll the punishment took on this character I had grown to care about. That is what I remember.

Then, this past Friday, I reached that episode which originally aired on February 14, 1994. It was surreal watching an episode that I first saw at 9 years old versus being a 33 year old woman now. Unlike when I was younger where I waited a week in between, I am binge-watching so I’m easily watching 2-3 episodes in one sitting.

Seeing this episode as a child is a wholly different experience than watching it as an adult, especially now in 2017.

The first themes to grab me was the racial dynamic at play. While the colony was composed of people of different racial backgrounds, the main person in charge, dispensing the rules, was a white person, specifically a white woman. Her name was Alixus. Not only that, her antagonist to this status quo was a black man, Commander Benjamin Sisko.

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What struck me was how dehumanizing the whole experience was for Sisko.

Her treatment of him was an exercise in stripping him of his Starfleet prestige and breaking him down into a contributing member to “her colony.” For example, she initially called him Commander but quickly settled into call him Ben. This may be a trivial, but I strongly believe it was intentional. Her way of saying who you are doesn’t matter to who I want you to become. She often broke the touch barrier. Reaching out to invade Sisko’s personal space without asking. She demanded that he adhere to her rules partly knowing that as a Starfleet officer that aspects of the Prime Directive were at play. Non-interference is ideal but if there is an interaction and potential impact to keep it minimal. She couched her rebuttals in this language.

Her tone of voice was more abrasive with Sisko than O’Brien, especially when Sisko showed his defiance to her rules and rejecting that this way of life should become his. For example, he chose to stay in uniform than to put on the clothes of the other community members in spite of Alixus demands.

It is telling to me that Alixus never takes the time to understand Sisko. To get to know him. She spent more time dominating the conversation and pontificating her ideas. I bring this up because, at this point in the series, Sisko has been established as a strong but fair leader, a widower, and devoted father to his son Jake. Nowhere in this episode is Jake mentioned. It’s all part of the dehumanizing process. Alixus does not take the time to learn about Sisko. I wonder if that would have changed her behavior toward Sisko to know that he has a son. I firmly believed it wouldn’t have impacted her actions toward him.

Much of the above could have been dismissed as a warped sense of leadership until we get to “the box.” A person who committed a crime that negatively impacted the community was punished. That punishment was to be placed in “the box” for however long without food or water. The box was, from what I could tell, situated directly in the noonday sun.

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This is where the racial dynamic, the white supremacy of it all, pushes Alixus and her fixation on Sisko to another level. O’Brien, in his own way, tries to help cure a woman in the community using technology. Alixus deemed this a crime because that was time he could have spent contributing to the community. (So, saving a woman’s life isn’t helping the community? Um, ok.)

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At this point in the story, Sisko has been a little too “uppity” and non-conformist. So, she defers O’Brien’s punishment onto Sisko. The one prominent black person is being placed in a box as punishment by a white person. This 24th century punishment parallels 19th century punishment of enslaved peoples.

Add to this the statements of Alixus to Sisko to work in the fields, I was close to done y’all. That anger I experienced as a child all clicked into place. As much as I loved science as a kid I was also a big fan of history. So even if I didn’t have words for it, I understood on some level what was happening. The underlying racial tension. As a 33 year old black woman in 2017, I seethed with anger. This time I had the words.

All I could see was the trope of Alixus as the slave master and Sisko cast as the obstinate enslaved person. She was trying to break him into submission. Alixus even wielded her power to get another member of the community to seduce Sisko. She thought (incorrectly, of course) that by appealing to Sisko’s sexual desires would help him to conform but he saw through that. I was even more appalled that she sent the only visible woman of color to do it. That power dynamic with heavy racial overtones.

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Ultimately, Sisko didn’t break and I felt vindicated but I left deeply unsatisfied by the ending.

It turns out that Alixus engineered the group being stranded on the planet in order to live out her philosophies. She impacted the lives of a group of people, lied to them, and derived power from it. In the ten years they were stranded, people died y’all so this woman could get what she wanted. The show undermined this idea by saying that they had better lives because of her. The group accepts that premise and decides to stay. The whole thing was wrong and terribly unfair. In that sense, Alixus (and the show) had stripped these people of their own individual humanity.

They had families. They had friends. What of the anguish of their families not knowing that their loved ones were alive?

Alixus goes to face her punishment as the white savior/tragic hero that the show unintentionally (or intentionally) painted her. The people stay.

The last shot is of the two children born on the planet looking sadly, regretfully at the box. I pitied them. Where was their choice? Out of a group of 30 some odd adults they were the only children. What would happen to them when the adults died? Likely, it would be the two of them left stranded on a planet that they didn’t need to be stranded on in the first place.

Deep Space Nine Review: Dax (S1E08)

Original Air date: February 14, 1993

This is the first Dax-centric episode so far and, I gotta say, Dax is one of the more interesting characters on Deep Space Nine, outside of Sisko. As I rewatched this episode as well as work on the write up, I realized that this is a very female-driven episode that incidientially aired on Valentine's Day. Not only that, there was the undercurrent of love throughout this episode.

Jadzia Dax is a Trill and host to the Dax symbiont. She is an intelligent, hardworking 27 year old woman. Unfortunately, she is being charged with a 30 year old murder. Correction, the previous host Curzon Dax is being charged but he is dead. The Dax symbiont is alive and well in Jadzia. So, that begs the question, is she morally and legally culpable of a crime she did not commit but a previous host did? That's the question being explored. 

Jadzia is one of three female figures the show pivots around. Let's discuss them further.

Jadzia Dax

The frustrating aspect of this entire episode is that Jadzia is passive. She doesn't say much to defend herself either publicly during the trial or in private with Sisko. I feel Sisko's frustration but for different reasons. He sees his old friend Curzon and not the woman before him. I see, instead, a woman who holds the answers to her own defense but not saying anything. Ultimately, I get her reasons for doing so (love - after all, it is Valentine's Day) but I'm upset that we don't get to learn from Jadzia what it means to be a host or Trill. Everything we learn, we learn from others and during the course of the trial. This is the one time, thus far in season 1, where Jadzia could express her intellect but her character is cut off at the knees.

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Enina Tandro

She is a widow to a "hero" and carrying the burden of two big secrets: her affair and her husband's betrayal. Unlike Jadzia, her silence is born out of societal expectation. This is her status: to carry on the memory of her dead husband in a country obsessed with glorifying him.  I can't help but think of the weight of that on her shoulders. How it must gnaw on her. Where Jadzia does not assert her power, Enina does. At the end of the episode, she decides to reveal the truth. Curzon did not murder her husband because he was in bed with her. *shocking* She reclaims to an extent who she is. Her story. She was in love with a man that was not her husband and she will no longer carry that secret. I found it interesting that she only revealed one of her bigger secrets. She is a tragic hero. She is falling on the proverbial sword and having her reputation sullied. Is it because in some way she wants to still protect her husband's memory OR, much more realistically, she knows her people don't want to hear it. To believe that the man they worshiped as a hero actually betrayed his people? I like to believe its the latter but I can't help but shake my head at what life will be like for her now that the secret is out.

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Judge Renora

Although a minor character, Judge Renora, the Bajoran arbitrator holds a lot of power. She is the lone voice that will decide if Jadzia is culpable for murder and can be extradited back to Klaestron IV. Unlike Jadzia and Enina, Renora is a different sort of woman. First, she is much older than those two characters and that gives her a kind of "I don't give a fuck" attitude when it comes to the pontificating and grandstanding during the trial. Present her with the basic facts, your defense, your rebuttal and let's keep it moving. Even with Enina sweeping in to reveal the truth, its up to Renora to still cast a judgement. 

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Overall, I thought this was a good episode. It is the first one out of the season I distinctly remember from my childhood.. When I saw it was next up, I settled in for a good show.

 

 

The Future is Black: Musings on the origin of my SciFi/Fantasy love

My first introduction to science fiction & fantasy came from the library and Star Wars. During my childhood, whole Saturdays were spent at the library. One day, I ventured over to the adult section (seriously, they had their own room) and peeped their VHS collection. I flipped through and saw Star Wars. I wasn't familiar with it so I rented all three movies. I consumed them in one day. In one sitting.

My love of scifi would have ended right there. 

Then my mom introduced me to Star Trek universe, Commander-then-Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Seeing a black person in space and in charge was mind-boggling. Someone who has the same skin tone as me in space. From there, my mom introduced me to The Original Series and the lovely Lieutenant Uhura. My world was shaken. These were my people. To this day, I ride for Star Trek all day. Every day.

2014 will forever be known as the year I met Nichelle Nichols. Beautiful spirit who I was absolutely speechless to meet. 

2014 will forever be known as the year I met Nichelle Nichols. Beautiful spirit who I was absolutely speechless to meet. 

Rather than pontificate, I want to provide a list of the black characters that got me hooked on shows that, frankly, I wouldn't have watched otherwise. It was seeing black faces, black women especially, that gave me a glimpse of black people in science fiction & fantasy.

Storm from X-Men

Storm could fly. She was wise. She could control the motherfucking weather! I got hooked on to her because of the cartoon show but then quickly branched out into the comic books. I even had the four limited edition Storm comic books (before my dad threw them away). She was the reason I even got into comic books. At least twice a month, I would hit up the comic book store in the mall to buy whatever X-Men comic book I could get. 

Aisha from The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

Aisha was my girl. She was a badass and rocked those braids like the queen that she was. Admittedly, I was in to the Yellow Ranger with Trini (RIP __) but I kept up with the show when they introduced Aisha. I even went and saw the movie when it came out. And real talk, can't NOBODY tell me that Aisha and Zack (the Black Ranger) didn't have a thing going on. 

Vanessa from Space Above and Beyond

Vanessa was smart with a little dash of shyness. I could relate to her because I was her minus the degree in nuclear physics and petite frame. I was known as the smart kid in class but also the one that was occasionally overlooked. I would have loved to see a romantic relationship develop for Vanessa during the show but alas that didn't happen.

Gina Torres in pretty much everything (Firefly, Hercules: The Legendary Adventures, Cleopatra 2525)

I mean, have you seen Gina Torres? Have you seen her act? What is not to love. She stays playing the badass. What made her such a stand out for me, in Firefly and Hercules, is that she was a woman in love. She was cherished. She was coveted by one man. Just seeing a black woman in a relationship nourished my spirit.

Kendra Young from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I watched Buffy but I didn't really sit up and pay attention until Kendra was introduced as a slayer. It still bugs the hell out of me that she got taken out so quickly on the show. She really could have been something. *shakes fist at Joss Whedon*

Martha Jones from Doctor Who

*sigh* I'm happy and not happy about Martha Jones. First, she exposed me to the wonderful universe of Doctor Who which, to be honest, was barely a blip on my radar. Second, she was the rebound for the Doctor after he lost Rose. Rather than be the brilliant M.D. that she was her love for the Doctor was a one-sided affair. If I saw that open mouthed lip quiver one more time, I was ready to go off. 

Bill Potts from Doctor Who

Bill reinvigorated my love of the Whoverse after the Clara years. I'm not #TeamClara so there was a significant wane in my Doctor Who interest. When I found out that Bill would be queer and black, I was there for it. Bill was quirky and loved her deceased mom dearly. These were things I could relate to.

Raquel from Crazyheads

First, how can you not love Susan Wokomoa? Seriously. I was browsing on Netflix for something to watch and came across this show. I ended up watching it one sitting. I literally stopped everything I was doing that Saturday to watch all the episodes. Raquel was vulnerable, powerful, offbeat, and sarcastic.

Naomi from The Expanse

I started watching for Naomi and stayed Krisjen (my girl), the amazing story, and production value. My love of Naomi ebbed and flowed but its due in part because she is presented as a flawed individual. I may not always agree with her decisions but she is 100% the reason I even gave this show a chance.

I'm sure I'm leaving others off the list but as you can see my love of science fiction is rooted in blackness, specifically black women.