Video Games: Games With Good Romance Options

Screenshot of Solas from ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’. Copyright goes to BioWare.

Hey! Hallie here!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about gaming on this blog, but I love it so much that I really can’t stay away from it for long. This time around I’m speaking directly to the people who, like me, are hopeless romantics. I’m not going to lie, romance options seriously elevate my opinion of almost every video game that includes them. One reason is absolutely because a good video game romance supplies me with instant serotonin. But another reason is that video games that include romances often have much more character development for their side characters than other games in order to make them viable romance options. This list is going to include some of my favorite, and some of the most popular, games with romance options. I won’t be able to talk about them all (And I’m not going to talk about ‘Witcher’ because I have problems with the way women are written in that series), but I’ll try to cover the most notable ones. With that out of the way, let’s get started!

BioWare Games: BioWare’s getting its own section because their games are very clearly at the top of the romance competition at the moment. For simplicity’s sake, though, let’s talk about their two most popular series: ‘Dragon Age’ and ‘Mass Effect’. The romances in these franchises work similarly. In each of their entries your main character, who is customizable and meant to be a stand in for the player, spends part of their time recruiting allies to their party in order to achieve the main goal of the game. In all of these games all of the recruitable characters have backstories and character development that can be discovered by the player if they talk to their party members enough. While not all of the characters that can be recruited are romanceable, most of them are and, should you choose to romance them, will reveal even more about themselves than you would learn otherwise. ‘Mass Effect’ is the weakest of these two when it comes to romances, though it’s by no means poor. The romances in these games are important, but not nearly as detailed as the later entries in the ‘Dragon Age’ series. The first game doesn’t have many romance options, only one romance option that can be a LGBTQ+ option, and doesn’t include many romance scenes. The second two games do much better though, with many more options including more LGBTQ+ options, though still not enough, and more romance scenes. ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ gets even more detailed, and finally has a decent amount of LGBTQ+ exclusive romances, though the overall story of the game is controversial. ‘Dragon Age’ does better with much more developed romances through its games, many more romantic scenes, and particularly in ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’, a large plethora of romance partners for anyone of any sexuality. As far as the romances go in these games, they really can’t be beat.

GreedFall: ‘GreedFall’ may have flown under your radar if you’re not paying much attention to indie game companies, but especially if you like the BioWare style of romance, I would recommend this game. Right off the bat I’ll warn you that if you’re expecting BioWare levels of cutscenes, storylines, and character moments dedicated to the romance you chose, you won’t find it here. But you will find something satisfying with characters who are very well developed. ‘GreedFall’ operates the same way as most BioWare games. You have a customizable character who must put together a party of side characters to help them complete the tasks at hand. All of these characters have backstories and storylines worth exploring should you choose to talk to them, and all but one are romanceable. Like early ‘Dragon Age’ and ‘Mass Effect’ entries, the options for LGBTQ+ players aren’t exclusively LGBTQ+ and there are less options overall to choose from due to the smaller party. But the romance scenes available here are really good and do feel at least partially important to the plot. Plus, these characters are well explored in the story so you don’t feel like you don’t know a character well enough to make an informed decision about dating them.

Persona: Not all the Persona games have given players the option to pursue a romantic relationship, but the two most recent main entries gave players some really good options. The catch is that, if you’re not attracted to women, there isn’t really a romance for you here. Both games force you into the role of a male protagonist who doesn’t have much personality so that you can still insert yourself into the story, but is not customizable at all. Instead of the player recruiting the side characters in the game, the characters are introduced gradually throughout the story, though it’s still up to you to pursue deeper relationships with your peers and learn more about them. Whether or not you explore their deeper stories, both games do a good job of fleshing out their characters so that you feel as though you know them very well by the time you can choose a romance to pursue. There are also a few moments in each game, particularly if you purchased ‘Persona 5 Royal’, where you get to spend some quality time with the person you chose and even get to arrange a few of your dates. ‘Persona’ has its problems with romances, especially considering that you, as a minor, CAN romance adult characters like your teacher in ‘Persona 5’ but you CAN’T romance any men including Goro Akechi who is clearly in love with the protagonist. That said, it’s sadly not that different from most other video games in this regard and the games still dedicate a good chunk of time to the romances.

Fire Emblem (Three Houses): ‘Fire Emblem’ is one of those franchises that’s consistently had romance options for a while. ‘Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ is the best attempt ‘Fire Emblem’ has made in the way of romance options. This game works a bit differently from the games listed above because the sheer amount of romanceable characters here is actually kind of overwhelming. The way the game narrows down your options for you is by having you choose one of three “houses” to represent and teach for. Once you choose your house, you’re pretty much limited to other faculty and whichever students are part of your house. Understandably, some people find the romances in this game a bit questionable because you take up the role of a teacher while the majority of romanceable characters are students. Luckily, you’re established as being a prodigy that’s around the same age as your students, and all of the romantic relationships in the game are only possible once you create a trusted friendship with whoever you want to romance. If anything, it makes the faculty romances more questionable. Anyways, there aren’t a ton of romance scenes in these games, and your dates are more minigames than they are romantic moments, but you do get a handful of rewarding scenes for each character you wish to romance. Like too many other games on the market, LGBTQ+ options are few and far between in this game despite the amount of romance options, but they did attempt to add more with the DLC. While the romances aren’t important to the plot here, they’re still perfectly satisfying.

Stardew Valley: This one is just a really feel-good game with some really wholesome romances. This game is light on the story, but unlike many games of its kind, romances aren’t just a matter of choosing someone to marry on the spot. Each character has a developed backstory that you can learn if you earn their trust. Earning a character’s trust is a difficult but fun process, involving not just speaking to the characters, but learning about the things they like and giving them appropriate gifts to match those things. Once you spend enough time giving the characters gifts and spending quality time with them, you’ll have the option of entering into a romance with them. While the process to get to a romance is much lengthier and more detailed than the romance itself, it’s still really rewarding to be able to cement a relationship after all the hard work you put in. And once you give the final gift, a gift that’s meant to mimic a proposal, you get an adorable marriage sequence and then your new partner moves in with you. They won’t have much more to say to you at this point other than some really lovely compliments, but they’ll help out around the farm, sometimes treat you to breakfast in the mornings, and you can even expand your house and start a family with them. Plus, the kissing animation in this game is really cute. And though none of the characters state their sexuality explicitly, that does leave it open for anyone of any gender to romance any character! Yes please!

And that’s it! Of course, if you’re looking for games centered entirely on romances there are other places to look. There are plenty of games on the App Store and Steam that you can seek out, and even independent ones online that are worth giving a shot. I’m specifically going to name drop ‘Dream Daddy’ and ‘Andromeda Six’ if that kind of thing’s what you’re looking for. As far as the titles I listed go, they’re really good options for the people who want an epic story with a little romance on the side. I clearly have a particular soft spot for ‘Dragon Age’, but really any of the things I listed are worth giving a shot! And if you are going to try out ‘Dragon Age’ for the romance options, stay away from the egg. You’ll understand later.

Don’t of anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Sci-Fi: Best TNG Data Episodes

Screenshot of Brent Spiner in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. Copyright goes to Paramount.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Re-watching various seasons and series of Star Trek has proved to me one thing over anything else. My love of Data from watching odd episodes of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ when I was young has come back with a vengeance. I’m not sure any character comes close to Data for me for so many reasons, many of them having to do with the complexity with which they handled his character. But I think what really stands out about Data is how much he’s become a comfort character for so many people. Data is kind of like a giant golden retriever puppy in the form of an android; he’s the innocent on board and easily befriends children of all ages. Easily one of the most huggable characters in all of Star Trek. Data’s episodes are some of my favorites not just because of how important of a character he is to me, but also because of how eloquent, cute, and meaningful they are. So I’m going to rank some of my favorites! Obviously, MAJOR SPOILER WARNING for TNG.

Dishonorable Mention: Of all of Data’s episodes, choosing my least favorite one was remarkably easy. That is because this may be the only Data episode that I’m not particularly fond of. ‘In Theory’ is technically Data’s second attempt at a romantic relationship, but the first real one. Not only is his love interest in this completely annoying, but she also seems to think that because Data is an android she can tell him every time she feels he’s not doing something correctly in a relationship. Oddly, this episode seems to have been made with the purpose of proving that Data is a machine, while the other episodes focus on showing us that he’s more human than he thinks he is. Though as Picard so eloquently put; have we ever argued that Data isn’t a machine? No. Not being able to figure out his partner who is evidently putting in no effort to figure him out in turn, does not make him less emotional. Though trying to make Data seem less emotional to the audience seems to be the point of the episode. Personally, I don’t think this works in any regard. It wasn’t as though the episode depicted a moment where Data wasn’t there for her when he needed to be or didn’t love her when she loved him. All the episode depicted was her attempting to force gifts onto Data because she didn’t like the look of his quarters, or insisting that he drop whatever he was doing the moment she walked into a room. Both seem a bit stupid to me. The lesson of this episode feels less like Data doesn’t have emotions as humans do and more like the moral is to be careful who you choose to date.

Honorable Mentions: ‘The Offspring’ is unfortunately going to have to go here for me, though I know many would argue against this. Don’t get me wrong, I like ‘The Offspring’! But there were elements of this story that I thought were done better in other episodes. Data dealing with family members, such as his father and brother, feels more meaningful in other episodes in my personal opinion. And the threat of Lal being taken away feels almost too much like ‘The Measure of a Man’. I love Guinan and her interaction with Data this episode and I love that Lal learned to love. But the fact that Data was able to randomly create this effect feels a little odd. Especially because she’s so much like Data and whether or not Data actually can love but just doesn’t know it seems to be a question throughout TNG. I’ll talk more about that later. So why would Lal be able to tell that she has those feelings and Data not? It’s still a very emotional Data episode though and I love it all the same. I also want to bring up ‘Elementary, My Dear Data’. While this isn’t the most profound Data episode, it has to be one of the most fun Star Trek episodes I’ve ever seen. Seeing Data as Sherlock is adorable and the fact that Picard has to come in to easily fix the mistake of the kids, is hilarious.

5. ‘Data’s Day’

Again, this isn’t the most profound of the Data episodes, but I think it’s particularly important. This is the only episode of TNG to be told entirely from Data’s perspective. The plot is fairly standard, there’s nothing really special to it except that this is the episode that we see Keiko and Miles O’Brien marry. But Data’s interactions with people and how he still doesn’t seem to understand them is hilarious. Keiko tells Data that she wants to cancel her wedding because she doesn’t feel happy on her wedding day. Data, only really hearing that she would be more happy if she postponed it, interprets this initially as good news. Wouldn’t Miles be happy if his fiancée is happy? And then the audience witnesses the hilarious moment when Data tells Miles, who is very much… not happy. This episode continues with instances like this, as Data partially narrates through letters his difficulty understanding people around him. It’s nice to see an episode completely through Data’s perspective and also see what his friendship has meant to his closest friends in the form of his integral role in giving away Keiko at her wedding.

4. ‘Brothers’

Not only is this Brent Spiner in three different roles, but this is also an amazing appearance of Lore. I’m always a fan of when Lore shows up and it’s never underdone when it happens. During the first part of this episode the audience is left in complete confusion, as well as the crew, when Data suddenly goes rogue. He completely takes over the Enterprise and brings everyone aboard to an unknown location that he immediately goes down to. It’s here that we finally see why Data suddenly went a bit off the rails. His homing beacon was activated and he, as well as his brother, return to their father. The man who created them. The best part of this episode? The reveal that Data was actually created after Lore. We had all, including Data himself, been under the impression that Data was created first because of his more android-like traits and his apparent lack of emotions. But here we find out that Lore actually scared the villagers with his semi-malicious personality. Data was created to be more approachable. Leading both Lore and Data to the realization that Data is no less perfect than Lore. This information both angers Lore and adorably shocks Data who now seems to value himself a little more than he had before. It is everything Data deserves.

3. ‘Descent’

This is another one of the Lore episodes. This I particularly like because it’s one of the episodes that features Lore as a truly powerful villain. While he does damage in other episodes, this is a world domination kind of damage. Through many different means, he controls Data who is confused through the entirety of the episode. This is all including a point where he almost kills Geordi. Watching a highly confused, manipulated, and controlled Data in the middle of Lore and the Borg is both heartbreaking and highly interesting. It’s also nice to see Hugh back in this episode! But what really makes this one for me even over all of that, is Data saving the day at the end. Not only is he reminded of who he is and who his friends are, but he successfully takes down Lore singlehandedly. And this is the most heartbreaking part. Throughout the episode Lore is trying to emphasize his familial relationship with Data, even attempting to convince Data that he loves him. Towards the end of the episode when everything starts falling apart, Lore tries to kill Data who in turn is forced to shut down Lore. And just as he does, Lore tells him that he loves him. It’s an emotional moment for Data and a confusing moment for the audience, who doesn’t know if maybe this time Lore is actually being sincere.

2. ‘Hero Worship’

If you’re looking for a cute Data episode, look no further than this gem. In this one Data saves a little boy from the debris of a recently destroyed ship. And the traumatized boy immediately, and understandably, attaches to his savior. We all know that Data is good with kids. There’s an entire other episode where a child attaches to Data and the crew can do little to get her to detach herself from him. But this episode takes it to a completely different level. In an attempt to forget his trauma, the boy decides that he wants to be as similar to Data as he possibly can. This includes him watching and imitating Data and Data even helping him to look like him. One of the cutest Data moments ever is Data’s attempt to style the boy’s hair so that it looks like his. There’s even an adorable moment where the boy falls asleep painting with Data, who then takes him to bed and even tucks him in. This is the ultimate comfort Data episode. Even above all of his adorable moments with Spot, which is a difficult level to pass. But this specifically shows how attached Data can get to other people. In fact, Data tells the boy at the end that it would be a pleasure to be his friend. One of the only times that Data doesn’t seem to realize he just expressed that he felt an emotion. Pleasure. This one is so cute!

1. ‘Measure of a Man’

I think everyone could tell that this was coming. This is not only the best Data episode, but it is also one of the best philosophical episodes of Star Trek. Which is saying something. But likely, you’ve heard something about this episode whether or not you’ve seen Star Trek before. Whether it’s Picard’s message about Data being exactly the new life that they’ve been trying to find or Picard’s speech about how the decision will determine whether or not they condemn an entire race to servitude; this episode has blown up for being so applicable to real life. This episode follows Data as a Starfleet science officer comes aboard in order to propose a potentially lethal study on Data that would allow him to make more androids like Data. When Data refuses, the science officer argues that Data is property belonging to Starfleet and a trial ensues. Picard defends Data while Riker is forced to prosecute, and here we establish that Data is far more human than anyone thinks. Data expresses that he packed his medals simply because he wanted them and even shows a capacity to fear for his life. I cried the first time I watched this and it still never fails to make me a little emotional. Even though calling Data, an entity who chose to enter Starfleet and wasn’t created by it, property of Starfleet is kind of ludicrous. You would think they would have answered that question when he joined Starfleet. But either way, this episode is pure genius.

I love Data so much! Absolutely the kind of character that you wish was real so that you could hug him at the end of a long day. It helps that this comfort character has so many comfort episodes too! But I’m also blown away with how intricately Data was written. Because Data could have easily become a gimmick, but instead he’s probably one of the most complex Star Trek characters to exist.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi: Uhura and the Most Influential Women in ‘Star Trek’

Screen capture of Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura in ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

A few days ago we were all hit with the news that Nichelle Nichols had passed away. This news has been really difficult for her friends, family, fans, and all of those who took major inspiration from her work. The impact she had on the film industry, science, and the fight for equality for both the Black community and women can’t be understated. It’s really hard to put into words how amazing she was and how missed she will be, especially after all of the lovely words already shared by people much closer to her. That said, I still didn’t want to just brush over this news given how big of a role ‘Star Trek’ has played in my life recently. So this post is going to be a huge appreciation post for Uhura and all of the women she paved the way for in future ‘Star Trek’ series. I narrowed down the characters for this post based on popularity, screen-time, and overall impact on the series, but know there are plenty of other strong women left off of this list that I appreciate as well! Let’s talk about Uhura!

Nyota Uhura: Uhura was a Black, female lead in a major show during a time when women were considered largely unimportant to represent in the film industry, and women of color were almost nonexistent in popular media. But it wasn’t just her presence alone that made her so memorable. It was that she was, despite all the odds, GOOD representation. If you look at other female characters in the original series of ‘Star Trek’, such as Christine Chapel and Janice Rand, they have no personality and serve no purpose to most of the plots. Uhura’s different. Uhura was given the role of a communications officer. While this role wasn’t well handled in every episode, it was still inarguably valuable to have someone on the bridge who could communicate incoming transmissions and translate languages that the captain or crew couldn’t immediately understand. And while she wasn’t given as much screen-time as many of her male counterparts, the time she was given was full of personality and badassery. Amongst her most iconic moments are singing a song about Spock to tease him, slapping mirror verse Sulu across the face and threatening him with a knife, responding to “I’ll protect you fair maiden” with “Sorry, neither”, and forcing a lower ranking officer to lock himself in a closet at phaser-point to help save Spock. She was doing things that women at the time were rarely, if ever, seen doing. And part of that was thanks to Nichelle Nichols and the life she breathed into Uhura regardless of what the script did or didn’t give her. She was the backbone for so many POC and female characters that came after, including the brilliant return of Uhura we’re getting in ‘Strange New Worlds’, and we have Nichols to thank.

Deanna Troi: Deanna had her problems. Her role as an empath was written poorly in many, many episodes of ‘The Next Generation’, her empathic abilities often fell into sexist tropes, she was hardly ever allowed to participate in fight scenes despite Marina Sirtis’ experience in fencing, and most of her episodes were focused on shoddily written romances. Still, Deanna held an importance we only saw glimpses of until the final seasons. Deanna proved herself incredibly capable in those later episodes, finally earning an official rank and a Starfleet uniform. In her finest hour we saw her go undercover on a Romulan ship as a Tal Shiar, not just intimidating everyone on the ship so much that they didn’t oppose her forcing the captain to step down, but also arguing with Spock’s spy to the degree that she managed to take over the mission and make it succeed herself. But even after she got there, she was never any less feminine, nor was she ashamed of her femininity. She proved you could be a woman who embraces her femininity and a strong Starfleet officer at the same time. Despite my issues with Deanna, I appreciated the character we got to by the end of the series.

Beverly Crusher: Beverly’s biggest issues lie in the fact that she’s the least prominent character amongst the main cast. But when she was on screen, she was amazing. Beverly was a capable doctor, ready to throw herself into danger for the sake of those who needed her. There was even an episode that focused on her being captured by a terrorist group because she refused to leave a group of injured people behind. Along with her bravery, she was always extremely intelligent and reasonable. Almost every character in the main cast had at least one episode where they came to Beverly for major life advice and relied on her support as she helped them sort out their problems. Picard himself had several of those episodes, all of which established Beverly as an equal to Picard in strength and wisdom. And if all of that wasn’t enough, she was one of the first main women in ‘Star Trek’ we got to see take up the position of captain, and she proved herself more than capable in not just the one, but two occasions we saw it happen. Beverly was incredible as a mother and a Starfleet officer, and I hope we get much more of her when she comes back in ‘Picard’.

Guinan: Guinan was in even less of the show than Beverly was, but Guinan is rightly remembered as a major presence on the show. She was the first woman of color we got to see amongst the main cast since Uhura and she stole the hearts of fans. So much so that many fans acknowledge any episode Guinan shows up in as a good episode. Guinan wasn’t human, but that put her in the position of having even more wisdom and knowledge than Picard. She was much older, and much more inclined to listen to those who needed someone to talk to than anyone else. In fact, her willingness to lend an ear was the only reason Picard managed to befriend another fan favorite, Ro Laren. When something went wrong and Picard was looked to to come up with answers, it was very often that Picard would seek answers himself from none other than Guinan. This was especially true when the Borg were involved. Guinan is probably the most comforting presence in all of ‘Star Trek’. We all wish we had a ’10 Forward’ to go to just so we could chat with Guinan.

Kira Nerys: Anyone who’s read ‘Star Trek’ content on this blog knows that I can’t praise Kira Nerys enough. She’s become one of my favorite characters of all time. Kira Nerys was the first woman on ‘Star Trek’ to actually take up one of the two main command positions as the first officer on Deep Space 9. And she wasn’t a first officer to mess with. Nerys stood up for her people in every situation regardless of the cost, often going against Sisko’s orders in earlier seasons for the benefit of her people. As the seasons went on she learned how to work more harmoniously with Sisko, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t push back fiercely if she was met with a decision of his she didn’t like. Nerys also wasn’t willing to take unwanted attention from others, threatening to break Quark’s wrist in only the first episode of the show for touching her without permission. She also participated in fights just as much as her male counterparts did and sometimes even more because of her past as a resistance fighter. Even when she was pregnant the show never treated her gingerly. Along with this badass behavior was an extremely compassionate woman who learned to work with and appreciate the people around her, including Cardassian characters she initially disliked for admittedly valid reasons. Kira Nerys blew me away when I first saw her on screen and I’ll never forget her for that.

Jadzia Dax: What to say about the woman who shared one of the first lesbian kisses on screen? Though the writers initially tried to make her a Spock-like character in the first season of the show, complete with lines about swearing off romantic attachments for being unreasonable, she grew into so much more. Starting season two we got to see her relationship with the Klingons, her excellent fighting skills with a bat’leth, and her more flirtatious personality. Jadzia was never to be underestimated in wits or in strength. She was an excellent source for fun banter and sarcastic comments in the show, in particular while interacting with Sisko. Just as important was the advice she gave, which was full of wisdom her peers didn’t possess because of the age of the Dax symbiote. There was never a dull moment when Jadzia was around. From falling in love with a woman from her past despite Trill rules, to crawling through sewers to get to Sisko and Julian, to exploring the past of a former host who was guilty of murder, she kept viewers on their toes. And it does help that her constant reintroduction of her pronouns and her experiences with gender spoke to the trans and nonbinary communities. Purposeful or not, she made waves in the queer community and beyond it.

Kathryn Janeway: Our first female captain! Janeway was no push over. As a former science officer she was able to take over some of the scientific research on Voyager and even took control of a few experiments by herself. But those things never interfered with her command duties. In the first episode she was forced to make peace between the Starfleet and Maquis members of the ship and she refused to take any nonsense from either side. It was her discipline and careful watch that made the crew cement together as quickly as it did. Only Janeway could have the resilience to keep seeking a way to escape the Delta Quadrant after so many failures. Only Janeway could singlehandedly protect her ship while under attack as she does in ‘Year of Hell’. And only Janeway could convince a Borg to change their ways and join the crew. Say what you will about her disregard of the rules, Janeway was the most resilient captain in all of ‘Star Trek’.

Seven-of-Nine: Though she was clearly brought in as eye candy, Seven was an interesting character right from her introduction. Her experience with the Borg gave us the first look into what being assimilated as a Borg at a young age might do to a person. Seven had very little experience being a human to go back to after she was disconnected from the Borg collective, and that made for really interesting content. She also took up the position as most intelligent on the crew alongside the Doctor, cementing her importance. But her trauma and previous position as an adversary to Starfleet made her quick to disobey commands and take problems into her own hands. While these traits were problematic, they made for a much more complex character than “eye-candy” usually were. When Seven was introduced on ‘Picard’ she was given even more time and even more nuance while she fully explored what it meant to be human and what morality she wanted to adopt. Along with that exploration came her feelings for Raffi and now she’s one of the first ‘Star Trek’ characters in an openly queer relationship. Seven only gets better as they continue to write her and I hope to see her more in the future.

Michael Burnham: I’m, admittedly, not completely sold by ‘Discovery’. But I can’t overlook the importance Michael Burnham holds as our first Black woman to take up the mantle of captain. Michael Burnham is a nuanced character with both incredible logic from her time growing up on Vulcan, and incredible passion when she chooses to let her more natural humanity take over. She forms relationships fast and can sometimes take unnecessary risks for those she cares about, but she simultaneously can always be trusted to keep a clear head and come up with the best solution to a problem. ‘Discovery’ also took the time to flesh out her character completely before having her step into the role of captain, making it a part of her character growth in a way we’d never seen before. Whether you like the writing for Michael or not, she’s a well developed character and one that deserves appreciation.

Beckett Mariner: How can you not love Mariner? First off, Mariner is a canonically bisexual queen who isn’t ashamed of who she pursues romantically and won’t shame you for who you choose to pursue romantically either. She’s also the closest of all the Lower Decks crew to taking up a command position. Because she’s already done so multiple times. She even served on Deep Space 9! But that scene isn’t for her. She doesn’t want the pressure and she prefers being able to have fun with her friends. Not to mention that she views any orders given by her superiors as a challenge, and has proven in almost every episode that she could fight each member of the bridge crew for their position and win. Where her interest wanes in more scientific endeavors she makes up for with street smarts and wisdom gained by her past Starfleet experiences. Those things make her by far the most knowledgable of the Lower Decks crew and the most admirable in each episode. She just needs to get reigned in sometimes.

None of these women could have taken the major steps they have for female representation without Nichelle Nichols paving the way first. ‘Star Trek’ has always been far in front of other major franchises when it comes to representation of women and people of color, and Nyota Uhura was one of the first characters to set that trend. But Uhura and Nichols didn’t just effect ‘Star Trek’. They made waves in all television shows as well as scientific fields. Since Nichols’ passing we’ve heard story after story from astronauts and women in STEM who made the decision to pursue their career path because they saw Nichelle Nichols on screen. I have her to thank for some of my favorite characters of all time, in and out of ‘Star Trek’, and we all have her to thank for the walls she actively kicked down not just in ‘Star Trek, but in her every day life. We’ll see you out there, Nichelle Nichols.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: Good Morning Call

Promotional image of (left) Shunya Shiraishi and (right) Haruka Fukuhara. Copyright goes to Fuji TV and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

This drama has been on my list forever and I don’t know why I kept pushing it off. The show is conveniently on Netflix and has an adorable premise. It is literally- “And they were roommates”. Maybe it’s because I was learning Korean and for a while I’ve been focusing on watching K-Dramas so that I could pick up more of the language. But I’ve even had friends recommend this one to me and I figured it was about time I watch it! The premise is adorable and it was described to me as a nice and lighthearted drama. And it is that! But I also had a few issues with it, maybe because it’s an older drama and maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many dramas now. Anyways, I’m going to go into all of my opinions about season one of this drama. I didn’t choose to watch season two as that one has a different storyline of their college years and can be watched separately. MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for ‘Good Morning Call’! If you are at all interested in seeing it, go ahead and watch it. It isn’t offensive in any way! But I’m not going to highly recommend this show this time.

Summary: Nao Yoshiwaka is a poor High School student who decided not to move with her parents when they decided to move to the country in order to stay with her friends. Hisashi Uehara is the most popular and most attractive boy at her school, though known for his stoic stature. When the two of them are caught in a lease scam, they must become roommates in order to afford the apartment they were both assigned to. But if their school finds out, they both could be expelled.

The Good:

The Best Friends- I loved Marina and Yuichi! I often find that the main character’s best friend can be an unsupportive character for the most part in dramas like this. Marina wasn’t like this at all! She has to be one of the most supportive best friend characters I’ve seen in a long time. When she becomes angry at Nao for keeping her roommate situation under wraps, it isn’t because Marina has a crush on Uehara; though this is what Nao assumes at first. Marina is quick to point out that her issue stems from the lies that Nao had been telling her. She actually becomes really supportive over Nao’s need to live with Uehara and continuously sticks up for and lies for Nao. When they first announced that Yuichi had a crush on her, I couldn’t see it. But when they did end up getting together, they were my favorite couple in the entire series. They’re both hilarious and the best wing-men you could ever hope for. I loved every moment these characters were on screen! Especially when Marina and Yuichi decide to date in the middle of chaos. Like going to the noodle shop while Nao is working while Uehara looks at her longingly and Isei does the same though attempts it more subtly. And of course they comment on it, making everyone uncomfortable to a hilarious degree. The best parts of the show right there.

Isei- I loved the character of Isei so much that he has to be my favorite character hands down. I thought he was the best choice in love interest from his introduction, even though he doesn’t really come into the story until later. And when we first meet him, I wasn’t even expecting him to eventually come into the main cast. He gives Nao a job at his Father’s noodle shop and acts as a big brother character for much of the show and to many of the characters. Not only is he an amazing chef, but the characters from the High School go to him for advice often. I always love a big brother type who cares for everyone else! I was not expecting for Isei to become the third piece in the love triangle after Daichi left for college. And though love triangles aren’t always my favorite, I loved that it gave Isei more screen time. He was also completely unselfish throughout the love triangle. He knew from the off that Nao wasn’t interested in him, but was definitely interested in Uehara. So in order to see her happy, he tried to get them to realize how much they cared for each other despite his feelings for her. Completely unlike Daichi who also knew this information and instead decided that he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. But seriously, how do you not choose Isei??? He cooks, he cares for everyone, he’s attractive as hell. I know that I often suffer from second lead syndrome, but it was insanity to choose Uehara over Isei in my opinion.

Santa- Are you confused? So was I! But I laughed hysterically when Uehara had to wear a Santa suit, beard and all, for his part time job. And then raced home with cake in hand, still in the beard, for Nao. Yes, it was kind of cute! But I absolutely laughed.

The Bad:

Female Lead- Just like most female leads from dramas when this was released, she’s a bit of a wet blanket. She doesn’t stick up for herself usually, a lot of the time her friends do that for her, and she is constantly pushed around by any of the guys who like her. The only time she sticks up for herself is against her Father, but as soon as Uehara tells her to make up with him she immediately does that without argument. She will literally do anything that Uehara asks her to, and I wasn’t a big fan of that. I also wish she would have told off Daichi, who constantly was attempting to emotionally manipulate her on his behalf. Of course, she never seemed to notice this or get angry at him for not taking her “no” for an answer. Even though she gives him that answer multiple times. She even has a moment when he asks her on a date and she goes with him because he insists that she owes him a favor, and then won’t believe anyone when they tell her that Daichi will take it the wrong way. The show is quick to call her stupid, justify Uehara when he calls her stupid, and declare that she is bad at every subject in school. If you’re looking for a strong and intelligent lead, don’t look here at all. She’s written almost pitifully. And to make things worse, she’s also constantly passing out for no reason because the show has to have its ‘damsel in distress’ moments.

Male Lead- I know a lot of people like Uehara, but I couldn’t bring myself to like him at all. He was stoic to a point where he never really showed that he cared in any outward way. He felt like he was just kind of there in their relationship. And whether or not he would stand up for his relationship or just let Nao flounder for the hell of it was always up in the air. Sometimes if he did stand up for their relationship, he would sulk afterwards like he wished he hadn’t done it. Like after he won Nao (this aged very badly), in the tennis tournament against all of their friends. Not to mention how most of his interactions with Nao were him calling her stupid. He really liked to call her stupid! But I do think some of his failings were because the writing almost seemed to want him to fail at points. When Nao really needed someone to be there for her emotionally, he was never there. The show gave her an emotional comfort moment with almost every character except for Uehara. There’s even a point where she’s in the hospital on her birthday and he doesn’t visit her for either occasion. The show tries to explain it off, but one of their explanations is that he didn’t know that it was her birthday. Which doesn’t make the situation better. At all. Uehara is the worst boyfriend and the writing never even gave him a chance.

Daichi- The first second lead in this show is one of the worst I’ve seen in any show. Not only does he ignore every “no” from the female character, but he’s also a master manipulator. He tries to manipulate Nao into going out with him on multiple occasions on account of him saying that she owes him “favors”. Which ends up sounding just as creepy as it seems like it would. He’s also not consistent at all! At one point he tries to emotionally manipulate Nao into going out with him by giving her an ultimatum. Either she goes out with him or he won’t be her friend anymore; despite the fact that the two have been close friends since they were kids and practically grew up together. Nao, thankfully, continues her rejection of him. Instead of honoring her choice in the ultimatum, he decides to throw away the ultimatum altogether. He instead declares that he’ll still be her friend until the day when she will ultimately say yes to him and tells her that he’s good at waiting. Apparently he isn’t, considering it only took him about a day to decide against the ultimatum he already gave her. And way to, once again, not take her own answer into account at all. What’s funny is that I was watching this one with a group and we all agreed that Daichi was the most attractive of the main characters. But he was also all of our least favorite. Attractiveness doesn’t make a character likable, which seems to be what this show was trying to rely on.

The Romance- It feels so one-sided that it isn’t even funny. She makes him all of this food and constantly tires herself out to make life easy for him. And he calls her stupid. I genuinely hope that I never find myself in this kind of relationship. Every time he actually shows he cares are in moments that are inconsequential to the plot. And she slaves away for him like the show means for her to be a house wife. She even yells at him about this once, in a rare moment of strength for her character. But it doesn’t seem to really get through to him except for him making one dish for her one time and then things go back to the way they were before.

Other Side Characters- I found that none of the other side characters were consistent. They all seemed to change personality traits dependent on what the plot wanted. When Uehara’s sister was first introduced, I appreciated her strength and carefree personality. But she quickly crumbled the next time we saw her because of her husband; who the plot was quick to point out that she wouldn’t crumble for in the plot line before. Isei’s Father was sweet up until an uncharacteristic moment where he turned extremely violent and then the show almost pretended like it never happened. I wish these side characters would have felt like fully fleshed out characters rather than whatever the plot points felt they should be at the time.

This wasn’t my favorite of the dramas I’ve watched. There were things that I liked about it! I liked having something with low stakes to watch and I liked the atmosphere of the noodle shop! It was one of those places in a show that you wished you actually had in your life. For both the food and the company! And it was also one of those shows that made you want to be a part of the friend group because of a few of the friends in it. Like Marina, Isei, and Yuichi. But the main point of this was the romance and I couldn’t get behind either main character and definitely not the romance itself. Isei is such an obvious choice between the three love interests too! The main character choosing any character that wasn’t him felt like the writers had no idea what they had written. Over-all, there are so many other dramas I’ve seen that were so much better. This was cute in some ways, but I wouldn’t watch it for the romance. While I might return to some of the characters, this one isn’t going on my favorites list any time soon.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop: Hobipalooza

Official image of J-Hope (Jung Hoseok) for the “Arson” music video from the ‘Jack In The Box’ album. Copyright goes to J-Hope and the Hybe Corporation.

Hey! Hallie here!

J-Hope’s slot at Lollapalooza has been one of the most highly anticipated performances of the summer. It’s the first time one of the members of BTS decided to take on an entire concert performance as a solo artist, and more importantly, the first time a Korean artist has headlined a US music festival. Given the craziness of past headliner performances at the event, and the craziness of any BTS performance, this historic occasion promised to be immense. And it exceeded expectations. J-Hope said he set out to prove himself to both long-time ARMYs and those at the event who’d never heard his music before, and sure enough, he blew all of them away. From a well-thought-out set, to tight choreography, to impressive vocals and rapping, J-Hope spent his time on stage proving that he deserves every amount of hype he’s ever gotten. I, unfortunately, didn’t get to attend, but I did catch the event as it was streaming and there’s a lot to talk about. Let’s get to the details!

Dark Set:

I’m distinguishing the two parts of his performance by his clothing style, the first being his darker and more gritty look. This entire set started with the intro to ‘Jack In The Box’ and the story of Pandora’s box. In a concert setting the intro sets a really creepy, exciting mood and made for a really good prep for J-Hope’s entrance. As for his entrance, J-Hope jumped out of a huge box setup, giving us a literal and very badass jack in the box. The instant he hit the ground he started “MORE”. Throughout the first few songs we got less choreo and more unhinged vibes, which is exactly what the ‘Jack In The Box’ material needs. But we didn’t just get ‘Jack In The Box’. After “MORE” and a really intense performance of “Pandora’s Box”, which radiated energy even when J-Hope was delivering from a sitting position, he went into “Baseline”. This song in particular was one of the most praised by non-ARMYs in the audience and it’s really nothing short of perfect. It was even further sweetened by the transition straight into J-Hope’s verse from “Cypher Pt.1”. It was such a fun throw back and fully demonstrated that this cypher has aged incredibly well. “Hangsang” came next in a continuation of the “Hope World” fun before he slipped into his first crowd interaction. I really enjoyed that he introduced ‘Jack In The Box’ and the way his music represents himself before going straight into “P.O.P”. “P.O.P” is a song directly about what he stands for, as is “Equal Sign” which was the perfect song to go with it. I love hearing his singing voice, and it was especially good to hear it live in “Equal Sign”. “STOP” came next, but given how intense this one is too, “Blue Side” was a good transition to the more mellow “Safety Zone”. The set ended with “What If” and “Arson”, “Arson” in particular being remixed more dramatically to end this set with a bang.

Light Set:

This was a bit shorter and more of his solo BTS stuff. I really liked that this was separated from some of the rest because it really does give off a different vibe than the majority of the ‘Jack in the Box’ content. J-Hope used “Music Box” to give himself time for a quick change and then came back on stage for the Tropical Remix of “Dynamite”. Here we start getting more of his excellent choreography, and though this performance was more dance and less rap or vocals, it was a lot of fun. After a brief break he started up “Daydream”, a song ARMYs enthusiastically sang along to to the point of apparently and adorably shocking Hobi. “Ego” gave us more choreography, some of which ARMYs spotted Jimin joining in on from his private seat above the stage. “Hope World” and “Just Dance” were really feel-good performances that he was clearly in his element for. And then Becky G came out on stage to give an adorable and amazing performance of “Chicken Noodle Soup” filled with a lot of hugs. J-Hope ended the whole thing with “Future” which was a move that I didn’t see coming but was so perfect that I couldn’t help but appreciate J-Hope’s planning here. This whole concert and the line up of all of the songs went together so perfectly, you could really tell he took his time slotting all these songs together. He put so much work into Lollapalooza and it made for an amazing show.

J-Hope is nothing if not a showman, and the reactions to his appearance at “Hobipalooza” prove it. There’s no way to watch the energy in his performance and not get sucked in. Jimin was correct when he said he believed J-Hope could take this on tour. He can clearly hold his own for a long period on stage, and more than that, he can be incredibly entertaining. That said, I hope he rests before considering doing anything else. Jimin made clear in Hobi’s recent V-Live that Hobi hasn’t been eating or sleeping well. Hobi has done some of the best work in his entire career between ‘Jack In The Box’ and Lollapalooza, and he really deserves to take it easy for a while.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: ATEEZ-‘The WORLD EP.1: MOVEMENT’

Promotional image of (from left) Song Mingi, Choi Jongho, Kang Yeosang, Choi San, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Park Seonghwa, and Jeong Yunho. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

The ATEEZ comeback I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for all summer just dropped and there have been very few albums as worth the wait as this one was. I was so completely blown away in the middle of listening to this album that I almost started crying. I’m not sure I can even begin to describe how amazing this album is in words; but I’m certainly going to try! And ATEEZ always gives everyone so much to talk about with each comeback. Between lore about their MVs to their often experimental take on music; ATEEZ always has more than a few things to keep people buzzing after each comeback release. I also don’t think any group has come out with anything near the simultaneous lore, storytelling, and music quality that this album contains in quite a while. I have so much to gush about, so I’m just going to jump into it! Usually this isn’t necessary for an album, but there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the ATEEZverse up ahead!

‘Guerilla’ MV:

Though it is still unclear exactly where this fits into the lore, I’ve heard the word prequel tossed around. Which would make sense! Could this possibly be the beginning of the pirate ATEEZ or even the already rebellious HalaTEEZ? Either would make sense! Both versions of ATEEZ spread messages of hope and rebellion. As many of us noticed, the storyline for this MV closely followed the storyline ATEEZ presented in their performance of ‘Rhythm Ta’ on the show ‘Kingdom’. ATEEZ takes the form of a group of revolutionary rebels in an apocalyptic type world where human emotion has been outlawed. In this MV we see the secret operation that ATEEZ sets up in order to broadcast their message of revolution, including some insanely realistic looking disguises (CGI!). The MV depicts each of the members, hacking, stealing, and running away from officials to broadcast a message of rebellion and emotion to all the brainwashed citizens. Much of the video is depicted with them in some kind of recording studio delivering the message. Our main context as to where this would fit into the lore comes at the very end of the MV. Make sure to stay until the very end of the video, because we get a clip that is probably going to be really important going forward. ATEEZ is sitting in a warehouse with an older man who seems to be a mentor, when all of the security alarms go off. They gather around the security camera to see a young boy stumble through the gate to the warehouse, looking confused and wearing an academy uniform from the students being brainwashed by society earlier in the MV. Who is this kid? We have no idea. Who is the old mentor in the warehouse? He’s also a character we haven’t met. But I’m excited at the concept of new characters in the lore and what they might mean! Though the storyline didn’t immediately answer some of my questions, it’s clear from the full storyline here that ATEEZ is playing a much longer game than any of us probably expect. We’ve glimpsed the storyline of this for a while now! For example, we finally seem to have gotten the true identities of the faceless masked figures in many of their MVs as they are the society that ATEEZ fights against in this MV. I can’t wait to see where all of this goes!

‘PROPAGANDA’:

This track is the non-traditional but typical introduction to any ATEEZ album. This isn’t a full song but more like a track to really set the mood and the world building of the album. The track features a type of siren going on in the background while a voice repeats a message (likely Hongjoong) pointing out the faults in society and asking the world to wake up. It ends with the ‘eyes in the sky’ message that we’ve come to connect to this comeback. But all of this is still a musical piece that has an addicting beat. It reminds the listener that this album isn’t just music. The album seeks to remind the listener that the story they’ve been advertising is just as much relevant to the music in the album as the MV itself.

‘Sector 1’:

This is the only song on this album other than ‘Guerilla’ that got a full stage performance for the comeback. The softer opening really struck me, especially because I loved the choreography with Yeosang, San, and Yunho at the very beginning of the performance. Lyrically, this song specifically tackles the lies in society, uncovering them no matter how painful they may be, and listening to your gut instincts. Even lyrically this song fits in with the storyline. The song goes from the softer beginning vocals of Yeosang to the strong vocals of our maknae ace Jongho. I have to say, it was really nice to hear Yeosang begin this one. This isn’t one of their more experimental tracks from this album, but it is absolutely up to par with anything that ATEEZ does. Everything that they release is excellent, no exceptions.

‘Cyberpunk’:

This song completely took my breath away when I first listened to it. This is the first of the songs that feel experimental to me in how they combine music with vocals. Listening to this album feels like listening to an epic movie soundtrack with vocals. I have never heard an album that wasn’t a soundtrack piece that sounded this epic. You could easily put this album over an amazing action movie and it would fit perfectly! Of course, with the storyline there, ATEEZ kind of made a movie of their own! This is also one of my favorite songs lyrically. It not only reflects the storyline, but it also is incredibly relatable after having experienced quarantine. The song talks about feelings of numbness and wanting to feel alive despite the darkness we’re living in. It even questions the meaning of life and expresses the wish of knowing some sort of answer to that question when things start feeling meaningless. Of course, all of this is coupled with a rebellious message. One of the things that struck me about this song too was how much every member was included. Almost the entire vocal line take turns with the chorus and the rap line really pull through with the hard hitting lyrics and a flow that perfectly matches the song. This has to be one of the most evened out songs I’ve heard from any group in a while and they all do such an excellent job on each of their pieces.

‘Guerilla’:

I don’t even know where to begin with this song. It begins so strongly with a Hongjoong rap right off the bat. I always love both Hongjoong and Mingi’s style of rapping, but they both go so hard for this song. Starting out with one of the best Hongjoong raps I’ve ever heard, and one of my favorite raps in general, was such an eye opening moment. Mingi also delivers one of the best later in the song. I love the elements of screamo used in here, I wasn’t expecting them at all and it was incredible! ATEEZ only succeeds in making their songs more hype with every comeback! This song is not only a call to action but it makes some really good points about human emotion. It comes with the message that any emotion is good emotion and that you shouldn’t just push emotions away because they’re uncomfortable sometimes. Their choreography also just seems to get that much more difficult with every comeback. They put such a huge emphasis on Yunho being center in several moments, which makes sense as they have actually started introducing him as main dancer, as of the comeback showcase, since the Yunho debacle and fandom arguments that happened earlier this year. Also, San’s soft high notes are a high point for the song and were not a piece I expected from a song this hard hitting. Though, as always, everyone delivers equally with this. And this entire group is made up of some of the strongest dancers in K-Pop.

‘The Ring’:

This is probably my favorite song off of this album. It hit me so hard the first time I heard it that a song that isn’t necessarily supposed to be emotional almost drove me to tears. The musical elements of the song could be my new favorite movie soundtrack piece if it had been in a movie. The song depicts a world of darkness and sadness where ATEEZ promises to defend and protect us. A message that has always been clear with ATEEZ. Even last year when they were here for their concert, many of them expressed that in this hard time they always wanted Atiny to feel like we could lean on them. This is the action-packed epic promise of those statements. The rapping in this song from Hongjoong and Mingi has a determined softness to it that almost sounds dangerous. Jongho echoes all of us when he croons that he’s not ok with his otherworldly voice. Yeosang begins the song, once again (yay!), encouraging us to follow him with his enrapturing deep vocals. And Yunho follows Jongho’s vocals with vocals that are somehow just as strong as Jongho’s! How is this group this talented? Seonghwa and San do the repeated chorus that feels like something you could fight to. Wooyoung’s almost rap vocals matches the song perfectly, though I wish we would have gotten a little more there. Otherwise, this song is perfect. I can’t stop listening to it! And it quotes ‘Lord of the Rings’ at the end as the song talks about their power and ends with the ominous “one ring to rule them all, one ring to bring them all” from LOTR. I’m obsessed!

‘WDIG (Where Do I Go)’:

This song is another epic dive into relatable insecurity. The song described feeling lost within darkness and wondering what to do and where to go. Once again, I’m getting a bit of a lack of Wooyoung. While the song is pretty divided between everyone else, I’m kind of sensing that Wooyoung is the Yeosang of this album. Yeosang got so much more to do with this particular album and I am so happy for that! I just wish that Wooyoung also would have gotten a little more. But this song feels like the apocalyptic theme for the album. The sounds feel very, well, cyberpunk, though that’s a completely different song. It has the amazing cyberpunk feeling backtrack with the almost somber but hopeful feel to the vocals. Another soundtrack feeling piece as well.

‘New World’:

This song actually has quite a bit of Wooyoung in it; in fact it has a lot of him in it! While this doesn’t necessarily make up for some of the other pieces, it’s nice to see that it doesn’t extend to the entire album. And really I don’t want to blame anyone for this because I know that ATEEZ has a say in what they each sing and I also know that Wooyoung has been stepping up massively with learning more and more choreography. This is a beautiful ending to the album simply because of how completely hopeful it is. While the other songs talk about the darkness and confusion of an apocalyptic world, this song expresses hope for the new world. It even encourages the listener by saying that even one ray of light is enough to keep going. A message that I am absolutely in love with! It’s another call to action mixed with hope both in lyrics and in the melody. The members of ATEEZ encourage us to take their hands and follow them into this new world, and I know that I’m going to be following ATEEZ straight into that happiness.

Also, since this album came out they also announced a tour at the end of the year! Hongjoong said that they were coming back this year and they really weren’t kidding! I’m going to do anything I possibly can to get to that concert in November. I just hope that ATEEZ gets a well needed break soon and that they aren’t being overworked. For obvious reasons, I feel the well being of artists is more important than ever and all of them should take breaks should they need them. This is one of my favorite albums I’ve ever witnessed a comeback for and I already know that I’ll miss listening to all of these songs for the first time. If you haven’t already given this album a listen, go and do that now! You won’t regret it! I promise you, this will be one of your new favorite albums! And ATEEZ has already broken records and sold more than any group outside of the big four with this album! The last group to challenge the big companies like that was BTS; so I am so beyond proud of them!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi: ‘Star Trek’ Movies Ranked

Screen capture of Kirstie Alley as Saavik and Leonard Nimoy as Spock in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve talked about the J.J. Abrams films a few times on this blog, mostly because I love them, but I’ve never discussed the original ‘Star Trek’ movies here before. I recently sat down to watch all ten of them though, and now I have a lot of thoughts. So as every ‘Star Trek’ fan has done at least once on the internet, I’m going to rank all ten from worst to best! ‘Star Trek’ is one of those things that always came across as better suited to a serial format, so admittedly a lot of these movies aren’t…well…very good. But I’d say at least half of them are worth watching and even rewatching. That said I have some unpopular opinions in here, so though I know Trekkie’s tend to be a pretty chill fandom, I do want to emphasize that all of this is just personal opinion. In any case, let’s get started!

10. ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’: This one is widely regarded as the worst of all the ‘Star Trek’ movies. First off, the character of Sybok alone is so cringy, he’s worth ranking this film in last. He bases his religion/cult on the idea that one can become their true self if they’re released from the pain they carry. But his followers don’t change much aside from winding up loyal to him, which makes his beliefs completely irrelevant. There’s also the issue of Sybok being both a Vulcan and Spock’s brother. Neither of these things play into this character at all. He doesn’t address his Vulcan side most of the time, with the narrative telling us he abandoned logic long ago. He uses Vulcan mind melding to rid people of their pain but the process acts so differently from most mind melds that it could easily be something different. And his relationship to Spock is non-existent, with the only event it provides conflict being Kirk criticizing Spock for not killing Sybok immediately. As if Spock regularly goes around shooting first and asking questions later. Putting Sybok aside, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov all get the shaft by siding with Sybok for no reason and betraying Kirk. The only characters who actively don’t do this are Spock and Bones, and that’s only because Nimoy and Kelley were in a position to object to it. After all that, we get cringy scenes with Kirk and Bones trying to teach Spock “Row Row Row Your Boat” for no reason and some Shatner scenes that come across as ridiculous because Shatner was the director and didn’t reign in his own…er…acting quirks. And I didn’t even mention the search for “God” that results in the regularly quoted line “Why would God need a spaceship?” Just a really bad movie overall.

9. ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’: Here we get the worst of ‘The Next Generation’s feature films and a movie that’s cited as a reason for the temporary fall of ‘Star Trek’. ‘Nemesis’ primarily gets this placement for the treatment of Deanna Troi. Deanna was never a completely well treated female character in any ‘Next Generation’ content. But here they decided that they were going to go for a telepathic sexual assault scene that’s intermixed with a love scene between her and Riker just to make the violation she’s experiencing more obvious. Because clearly we needed to have violence against women be the main storyline for the only female character that gets any substantial screen time in this film. And then, when she tearfully recounts this whole thing to Picard, clearly traumatized, Picard brushes aside the assault and suggests that the information that could be gained from it is more important than her well being. This entire sequence completely damned the movie for me at only around the halfway mark. But the rest doesn’t help its case. Tom Hardy doesn’t come across as anything like Picard. Shaving someone’s head doesn’t suddenly make them a Patrick Stewart look-alike, and no decision he makes in this movie, no tone of voice, not even one mannerism, makes him feel like Picard. He’s just vaguely creepy. That’s it. I liked the moments between Data and B-4, but they never really went anywhere aside from giving us someone to survive Data at the end of the film. And Data’s death felt so abrupt and random that the wrap up they did to honor Data at the end of the movie didn’t feel earned. And what was with the lack of Worf? This movie was one big yikes.

8. ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’: There isn’t much to say about this one. Nothing really happens in it. Genuinely, the majority of this movie is just reaction shots from everyone on the bridge while something very slow and very bright moves across the view screen. We get so many shots of the Enterprise that I don’t think there’s a single angle of the ship I haven’t seen. The plot line, which follows a strange life-form interacting with the Enterprise and somehow killing one of the crew, could be interesting but winds up a little silly. And the fact that two random crew members and their love story take up a huge chunk of the plot even though we’ve never seen them before and never see them again, also makes this movie feel pointless. If you want a ‘Star Trek’ movie to bore you to tears, this is the one to go for.

7. ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’: This movie definitely has problems, but it isn’t horrible. The main issue with this movie is the treatment of both Spock and Bones. Spock isn’t really in this. He shows up at the end briefly, but that’s all. For the rest of the movie we get various versions of Spock as he ages into the person we all recognize. Except it’s also still not Spock, because Spock’s soul is essentially inside Bones and is fighting for dominance with Bones’ personality. Which is where my issues with Bones come in because, for a majority of the time, he’s a raving lunatic who talks to himself in the corner. Where this movie does shine, is the use of the rest of the cast. Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov all get to joke around with each other more in this film. We also get epic moments of these characters turning against Starfleet command to save Spock, including one where Uhura holds someone at phaser-point and forces him to lock himself in a closet. She’s such a badass. Still, this movie suffers from a never-fully-developed villain, which is sad because it’s Christopher Lloyd, another weird venture into Pon farr, and a really unimportant death despite the fact that Kirk’s son is the one who dies.

6. ‘Star Trek: Generations’: This one is another mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s really nice to see a crew that’s a bit more well-balanced and closer to one another after all the TOS movies. With the TOS cast it often feels like the characters outside of Kirk, Spock, and Bones don’t really hold a close relationship with one another or the core three. That’s partly because TOS is an older show with older forms of storytelling and character development that were updated by the time Next Gen rolled around. And though the movies do a good job of putting more of these things on screen, the camaraderie between Next Gen characters still comes off stronger, shown best is scenes covering Data’s emotion chip. Past that though, this film doesn’t have a strong story. The villain wants to unleash the Nexus to escape his personal pain, which could make for an understandable villain. But he just spends the majority of the movie setting up a missile on a desert planet and ranting to a very bored looking Picard. Eventually we get into the Nexus to reunite with Kirk, who disappeared earlier in the movie. But it’s probably worse once we get there. Picard’s “perfect life” involves five kids, and while I did appreciate some of the emotional moments Picard has over his nephew’s untimely death, I still don’t buy that he’d want five kids. He could barely handle three when he was stuck with them in a turbolift. And Shatner’s acting is so jarring after a movie full of Stewart’s, their scenes together feel odd. It all ends with Kirk’s death, and though I’m not a huge fan of Kirk, I still thought being crushed by a bridge was a ridiculous death for such a popular character.

5. ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’: This movie’s biggest issues align with the fact that it feels like a weaker episode of ‘The Next Generation’. But it’s at least gleeful in its execution. The movie hooks you right from the beginning when Picard manages to calm Data down and take him captive by singing “A British Tar” and getting Worf to sing along. A scene that could be cheesy immediately comes across as endearing simply because of the acting. This fun, particularly with Data, extends to the rest of the movie where a child decides to teach Data how to “play”. And though the villains in this movie aren’t all that intriguing, it still is satisfying to see the villains reunite with their parents at the end of the film. Where this movie fails is its ridiculous plot points, including an environment that makes the crew act like teenagers again. Which leads to a ridiculously sexist scene where the effects are shown on Deanna and Beverley by the two discussing their breasts. We also have a really forgettable love interest for Picard here, which is never my favorite Trek story element. Jonathan Frakes saves this movie with good directing and an emphasis on the chemistry between the cast, but it still suffers for its strange plot.

4. ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn’: I’m sorry! Don’t hurt me! I really do like this movie. In fact, this movie is the start of the ‘Star Trek’ films on this list I really like. I just like the other movies above this one better. My main issue with this one has to do with its two leads. William Shatner’s dramatic acting comes through with this film a little more than it does in other entires in this series. Which is not much helped when it’s being paired with Ricardo Mantalban’s fun but still very dramatic style of acting. Still, this is definitely one of the more solid ‘Star Trek’ plots. Kahn is an intriguing villain that gets enough time to really dive into his character, which is a rarity for many villains in Trek movies. The movie does a good job of setting these two up as rivals before engaging in space battles, where the two use each other’s weaknesses against one another in a back-and-forth that’s captivating to follow. This movie also has the most satisfying death in the series. Spock’s death is sad, but the way he sacrifices himself for the entire crew and is able to still say goodbye to Jim makes for a sequence that will never be forgotten by ‘Star Trek’ fans. Though I don’t care for the storyline about Kirk’s son or the way Kirk refers to Spock as “human” in his eulogy, this movie still pulls through triumphant.

3. ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’: This is the perfect ending to the TOS movies. The way it ties in the themes of the past movies is truly enviable. It manages to pull in Kirk’s son, whose death really had no impact on the story, in a way that challenges Kirk. It also ends the feud with the Klingons after several movies of seeing them as adversaries. As the Klingons experience catastrophe on their planet and are forced to seek peace with the Federation, Kirk has to come to terms with his hatred of Klingons because of his son’s death. And his ability to commit to peace is put to the test when a group of people dressed in Starfleet space suits go over to the Klingon ship and start killing people while the Enterprise fires torpedoes at it though Kirk gave no orders. This setup leads perfectly into a prison-break storyline for Kirk and Bones, who are tried and sent to prison for the murders. Though I disliked the random, brief love interest they give Kirk in this sequence, the sequence is still very fun to watch. Meanwhile, we get scenes where Spock gets the spotlight as he works out what actually caused the attack on the Klingons. Though the villains aren’t great here, Chang is formidable enough, and well acted enough, that he’s certainly respectable. And I really like the ways that the rest of the crew actually play major roles in this film. Uhura gives various suggestions that lead to the Enterprise’s success at the end of the movie. And Sulu is the captain of his own ship and gets to save the day a few times. This is definitely one of the more well rounded films in Trek.

2. ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’: This movie is the most fun I had with a TOS movie. Though its premise isn’t the most serious given its focus on whales, it still has a good message to send. The best part of it, though, is the way all the characters are written in this movie. This film is by far the best at giving us the full cast of characters as full pieces of the story. It also uses a story element I love, which is pairing off the characters for part of the film to give us stronger relationships between characters we don’t always see together. We always see Kirk and Spock together, but this pairing is particularly meaningful because Spock is still regaining his memories after the events of ‘Search For Spock’. And who better to help him out than Kirk? Spock also gets some of the funniest moments in this movie because of his general irritation with everyone around him. The moment he Vulcan nerve pinches the guy on the bus will always be one of the best moments in all of ‘Star Trek’. Meanwhile, Scotty and Bones make a surprisingly hilarious and competent duo. Sulu gets some time on his own to just enjoy flying a helicopter which is very wholesome to watch. Uhura and Chekov don’t get as much time to talk, but they get more action sequences. They also have funny moments given their general cluelessness about modern day. The love interest is forgettable here but she doesn’t diminish the joy this movie brings me, all encompassed in the scene where the entire crew celebrates the return of the whales with an impromptu swim. I couldn’t help but smile throughout the entire run time.

1. ‘Star Trek: First Contact’: I really love ‘The Next Generation’ and this is by far the best movie within their four movies. It’s also the most tense and exhilarating of all the ‘Star Trek’ films. Honestly, the Borg are always strong villains. They’re terrifying and giving us a full movie of the Borg’s attempt to take over the Enterprise was such a good idea. ‘First Contact’ goes even deeper with this though, deciding to dive into Picard’s trauma over becoming Locutus to make the fight against the Borg feel even more personal. It’s horrifying to see Picard strike down crew that turned into Borg without a thought, and you really get to see how far he’ll go to wipe them out. This movie, like four, also includes time travel in a way that really works for the plot. In this film the time travel gives us the character of Lily, who is one of the most badass women in any of these movies. Though she screams her head off when she sees the Borg, and who wouldn’t, she kicks ass and she’s one of the only people in all of Trek to give Picard a piece of her mind and manage to make him change his stance. In particular, she helps conclude Picard’s arc by making him realize how destructive his need for vengeance is. She does all of this and she’s never a love interest, which is too rare within Trek. Simultaneously we get to watch Riker and Deanna head the group on Earth that’s trying to help the scientist who invented warp drive. Deanna gets a lot more to do here than in other movies, and the scene where she gets drunk is so endearing. I didn’t like Data’s storyline in this movie as much, partly because I don’t care much about the Borg Queen who is really only meant to be sexy. But I do like a good Data-saves-the-day moment, which happens at the end of ‘First Contact’. Between an eye-catching holodeck scene and a lot of tense moments, this film completely stole my heart. I love many of these films, but I’ll return to this one the most.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Book Adaptations: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Analysis

Screenshot of Mathew Macfayden and Keira Knightley in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Copyright goes to Universal Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I think it’s a complete crime that I have only talked very little about one of my favorite movies of all time and my favorite adaptation of my favorite book of all time. The Joe Wright movie is one of the most beautiful films ever created when it comes to the cinematography and seems to perfectly capture each character even in its truncated form. The storytelling is beautiful, the acting is excellent, the directing is genius; what doesn’t this movie have? As I have said before, I personally prefer this adaptation to the BBC series mainly because I feel that it does a better overall job of capturing the way the characters feel in the book. Lizzie is so vibrant of a character in this version and she is just as playful as she is described in the book. And don’t even get me stared about Mr. Darcy. Mathew Macfayden plays a version of Darcy that is honestly too irresistible. In this post in particular, I want to go over my favorite scenes from this movie, over-analyze them (something I do best), and really go into why the way they were shot was so incredibly important. Obviously, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie. If you haven’t seen this movie already, go and do that right now! I swear, even if you haven’t read the book you will still love the movie. It is gorgeous in every possible way for a movie to be gorgeous.

First Dance:

The first dance that Lizzie dances with Darcy is one fraught with tension and for obvious reasons. Lizzie hates Darcy at this point for slighting her and for everything she thinks she knows about Wickham. She is automatically disappointed when she gets to the ball because she rightly deduces that it’s Darcy’s presence that has driven away her hopes for the night. So when Darcy asks her to dance and she is so shocked that she accidentally accepts, she is definitely not the most thrilled. In direct opposition, Darcy has at this point decided that he really is very interested in Elizabeth. A dance that’s part attraction part hatred is already a dynamic that makes what could have been a simple dance, so much more. The entire scene is filmed in one take and only cuts when it switches to a version of the scene where they are the only two people in the room. Though their conversation is awkward and Darcy experiences obvious hostility from Lizzie, both of them still feel the tension from each of their sides so completely that they can’t focus on anyone else in the room. To both characters and the audience, it feels like they are the only two people in the world at the time. And the interaction leaves both characters with more questions than answers.

The Hand Flex:

It would be a mistake to analyze scenes in this movie and not talk about the hand flex. After Lizzie and Jane have been staying at Netherfield, Darcy is fairly certain that he has some feelings for Lizzie. But the audience doesn’t really notice this until Lizzie is saying goodbye to the inhabitants and getting into the carriage. Darcy reaches up to help Lizzie into the carriage, which isn’t just a polite gesture. This would have been scandalous at that time. Men and women were not allowed to touch at all nor were they allowed to be alone together. One of the reasons why dancing was such a form of excitement for young people at the time was because it was the only way to spend time with the opposite sex without being chaperoned. And dancing was done with all of the ladies wearing gloves. All of that considered; skin on skin contact was absolutely unheard of. The fact that it’s such a simple movement that nobody realizes but that it’s such a meaningful form of contact, makes it the kind of thing that you continue to think about long after the scene is over. And obviously, Darcy was thinking about it. That hand flex, man.

Rain:

This is probably the most popular scene in the entire movie, which is saying something. After hearing about Darcy’s hand in the breaking up of Jane and Bingley, Lizzie runs out in the rain to get away from everyone. And, unfortunately for a very smitten Darcy, he chooses just that moment to follow her and profess his love. What follows is a scene that more directly delivers the argument that we see in the novel. And it delivers it with much more drama. The shock, to anger, to attraction scene is punctuated with various thunderclaps that seem to reflect every change of emotion. This scene is also very simply shot. There is one camera on Mathew Macfayden and one camera on Keira Knightley that pull in close to the actors as the argument gets more heated and the characters begin to step toward each other. This is the first scene in the entire film where we get to see such close up shots of either character. And that is probably because this is the first scene in the movie where they are completely vulnerable around each other. Even if it is out of anger completely on Lizzie’s part; they each reveal their thoughts and feelings to each other without a pre-existing sense of decorum. And somehow the heated-ness of the conversation turns from anger to attraction. Come on, they were both looking at each other’s lips at the end of that argument. We all could see it!

The Walk:

The penultimate scene when Mr. Darcy is noticed in the early morning across a field by insomniac Lizzie. While the walk itself is brilliant, it’s actually the music that really draws me in here. The walk would be nothing without the swell of music that brings that sense of hopefulness and romance to the scene. But what I really like here is how consistently both Mathew Macfaden and Keira Knightley play their roles. Mr. Darcy approaches Elizabeth in this scene with the very same soft earnestness that he first used to profess that he loved her. But this time his words reflect the soft mannerisms rather than accidentally insult. Elizabeth’s guard is completely down now that her feelings have changed and she meets him back with the same earnestness but almost in a more confident manner. Elizabeth is definitely much less awkward than Darcy, after all. I also once again want to talk about how romantic this scene is. The fact that instead of a kiss, there’s so much emphasis on them resting their foreheads against each other while the sun rises behind them is beautiful. Somehow, it feels worlds more intimate than a kiss could have been in that scene. For those of you who don’t know, the ending scene (otherwise known as the Mrs. Darcy scene) is actually only in the US version of the movie. In the UK, they don’t have the scene. It was added on for US audiences because Americans were unsatisfied with the lack of kissing. Though I like that scene, I am personally of the opinion that it was entirely unneeded. To me, there are more intimate moments that you can portray without there having to be a kiss. Passion can be showed emotionally just as effectively as if you showed it physically. I often feel that showing a more emotional dynamic is even better! And I think that this was the perfect romance scene to almost end out the movie with.

I’m always struck by something new every time I watch this film. Which is incredible considering that I probably don’t want to own up to how much I watch it. Either it’s how absolutely adorable and lovable Jane and Bingley are or it’s noticing exactly when Darcy starts liking Elizabeth because his mannerisms around her and even his eyes seem to become softer. I personally think that the scene he truly realizes he likes her is when she shows up to Netherfield after having walked there with her hair looking wild. The way he tells her where her sister is, I think, is the first time Darcy speaks to her with that softer tone that I adore so much. And I think Elizabeth first realizes that she really likes him, more than just respecting him after the letter, when they meet at Pemberley because that’s also when she first starts talking more softly to him. Though I think her reaction at the end of the rain scene was what first caused her to realize that she was at all attracted to him. But I could seriously analyze this movie forever. It is so perfect in every possible way!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi and Superheroes: ‘Star Trek’ Comic-Con Announcements

Screenshot of Sir Patrick Stewart in ‘Star Trek: Picard’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

Comic-Con is one of the largest events where a mass of geeks, regardless of fandom, come together to freak out about new content and nostalgic projects for an entire weekend. Everyone who’s lucky enough to get tickets can’t stop talking about how amazing it is to be there, and everyone who doesn’t get to go waits anxiously for Twitter notifications updating them minute-to-minute on new announcements. There’s tons of things I could talk about that have already been given major panels, many located at the highly coveted Hall H. That said, if you’ve been following this blog recently you know that one of my favorite things to talk about is ‘Star Trek’. (You’ll also know that we’ve been radio silent on Marvel and might remain that way for a while. Marvel fatigue is very real.) There were so many mind-blowing announcements for all three shows they covered at the ‘Star Trek’ panel, and I’m so excited about all of them that it’s really difficult NOT to talk about them. Let’s just get into the reveals!

‘Star Trek: Picard’:

Going in order of the way the shows were presented at the panel, the ‘Picard’ section definitely gave us the most fan-anticipated announcements. First off, we got to see Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden reunited on stage! They’re always so sweet together and spend a lot of time wholesomely complementing one another. Both of them took turns teasing small things about the new season. Stewart told us we’d be seeing the old Enterprise again and that two different Enterprises would be at play in the season. Meanwhile, McFadden said she felt the new season was the most Beverly Crusher had ever been given. I’m really happy she’s getting the screen time she deserves, and I’m even happier that the returning cast of ‘Next Generation’ are all part of the main cast instead of cameos. And then we got the trailer. This trailer gave us a first look at all of the characters we’re going to see take the spotlight in the new series. First there’s our returning cast, Picard, Seven of Nine, and Raffi. Of the cast of ‘Picard’ these three have been by far the most consistent and interesting, so I really don’t have any problem losing the rest of the cast. We also get footage of William Riker and Deanna Troi, who were some of the most memorable parts of ‘Picard’ season one. For the new (or old) faces, we get to see Geordi LaForge looking maybe the best he’s ever looked (I’m convinced LeVar Burton is a fae creature). Of all the small lines each character speaks in the trailer, his is the most interesting because it reveals that he’s now a father! Apparently his real-life daughter will be playing his daughter in the show. Then we get to see Worf! I ADORE Worf, and like many fans, I was concerned they would alter his appearance too much due to the recent Klingon redesign. But Worf looks exactly like Worf, as promised, and I’m so excited to see him in action! Lastly, Gates McFadden appears as Beverly looking amazing with her natural brown hair. ‘Picard’ has been a rough ride since it was released, but this season makes me feel like they could end it all with a story that makes up for all of it.

‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’:

‘Lower Decks’ is one of those shows that I always appreciate, even if the adult comedy style isn’t quite for me. Its charming cast really sells their characters and their love of ‘Star Trek’ is so obvious every time they get to talk about the show. From what we see in the trailer as well as what was said in the panel, the upcoming season, and by upcoming I mean we only have a month to wait, will start with the rescue of Captain Freeman. But it promises to go so many other places. Most notably, ‘Deep Space Nine’. ‘Deep Space Nine’ is my favorite series of ‘Star Trek’, so when I saw Joseph Sisko’s restaurant in the trailer, I was already freaking out. Hell, I was freaking out when the series name-dropped Miles O’Brien and Garak in past episodes. But then we see the Cerritos actually go to Deep Space Nine and the creators promised returning characters! Martok already appears in the trailer and we’ll see more once the season airs! I also love Rutherford in his Jake Sisko sweater. Truly an iconic look. Almost as iconic as the return of Peanut Hamper. I’m really excited to watch this next month!

‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’:

If you were hoping for any major news regarding next season, you were probably disappointed. I’m not really surprised, however. ‘Strange New Worlds’ JUST ended their first season, and while season two is already filmed, it isn’t set to come out until later next year. We did get one huge announcement, though. Anson Mount knows about the hair memes and thinks they’re funny! Ok, I’m joking. He did confirm he liked the hair memes, but more important is the crossover event announcement. Apparently an episode of season two of ‘Strange New Worlds’ will feature live action versions of Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler played by their voice actors Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid respectively. The ‘Lower Decks’ characters are coming to Pike’s Enterprise! I don’t quite know how they’re going to do it, or even if Mariner and Boimler will be the only characters making the switch to live action in the show. But given the chaos these two can cause, I’m really looking forward to that episode. Aside from this major announcement we heard from Ethan Peck about how Spock will continue to explore his humanity in the upcoming season, and we heard from Paul Wesley about the younger version of Kirk we’ll see next season. Paul Wesley also received an epic ‘Star Trek’ cake and an enthusiastic “Happy Birthday” sung from the entirety of Hall H. It was really adorable to watch. Really we don’t know much about season two yet, but we do know that the writers aren’t planning on diverging from canon. Which might be interesting for relationships like the one between Spock and Chapel, which is already moving at a fast pace.

And that’s it! There were other smaller ‘Star Trek’ panels I haven’t talked about here, but I do recommend you check them out. From another Anson Mount appearance, to video games, to costuming, ‘Star Trek’ came out to Comic-Con this year with everything a Trekkie could want. I’m especially excited for the video game set to release later this year, ‘Star Trek: Resurgence’. The game is a single player, dialogue-based RPG set in the time period of ‘The Next Generation’ and ‘Deep Space Nine’. It promises returning characters and has already given us a good look at Ambassador Spock, who will be playing a major role in the game and who sounds almost exactly like Leonard Nimoy. If you haven’t heard of this, I really recommend checking it out. Either way, I’m so excited ‘Star Trek’ is making its way back to the center of pop culture. It’s truly one of my favorite franchises and if Comic-Con is anything to go by, there’s plenty more excellent content to see in the future.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Sci-Fi: The Evolution of Chapel and Spock

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Screenshot of Jess Bush and Ethan Peck from ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’. Copyright goes to Paramount+, CBS, and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

My sister, who is very obviously into ‘Star Trek’, has recently pulled me kicking and screaming into a fandom that I already kind of was in, but wasn’t really. I’ve absolutely loved the J.J. Abrams movies for years, but I hadn’t really gotten further than that and maybe watching a couple of episodes of ‘Next Generation’. I’ve watched a lot more now, though my ‘Star Trek’ education still needs a lot of work. But most of my knowledge when it comes to ‘Star Trek’ actually does have to do with the main characters from the original series. I’m not going to talk about the original movies which I may or may not have been binging with my sister. That’s going to be a post she tackles entirely by herself. I’m also not going to talk about what episodes I’ve seen. But I have found, like many people, that my favorite original character is probably Spock. And honestly, it kind of has been since I saw Zachary Quinto play Spock in the Abrams movies. Obviously I love Leonard Nimoy, but Zachary Quinto is the first person I saw play the character. And now I absolutely love Ethan Peck. But Spock is actually my second favorite character in my new favorite ‘Star Trek’ media (because I don’t think anything will beat ‘Strange New Worlds’ for me now). Christine Chapel has absolutely stolen my heart in the new series. And, of course, I was delighted when they started hinting at my two favorite characters romantically. But this is not the first time they’ve done that for Spock, though it is undoubtedly the best. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Christine Chapel:

I don’t think there’s been a good version of Nurse Chapel until she was played by Jess Bush. And I say this with every respect to Majel Barrett. I think we can all be honest with ourselves now; the original series of ‘Star Trek’ wasn’t the best for female characters. Most of the amazingness that Nichelle Nichols added with Uhura were not things that were scripted. It was her own improvisation and attitude that at all made Uhura a great character. I personally believe that she deserves most of that credit. But Nurse Chapel in the original series had no such chance to recommend her to the audience at all. She barely had any screen time, she was demure, and she had no personality traits other than being a nurse and having a giant crush on Spock. Can you blame her? No. But that shouldn’t have been her entire personality regardless. Especially since, in the original series, it did not seem like Spock wanted to have anything to do with her whatsoever. There was barely an established friendship between Chapel and anyone else on the crew, let alone Spock. You would probably be hard pressed to find someone before ‘Strange New Worlds’ who had Nurse Chapel as their favorite character. And she probably would have been great with some better and more well directed writing in her favor. But unfortunately, this was kind of the way of writing women at that time in media in general. Christine really had nowhere to go but up.

Spock:

I think talking about how Spock was in his previous media is almost too obvious. Spock is the most popular character from the original ‘Star Trek’ series and is still one of the most popular characters in the franchise. Spock was always a completely honest and interesting voice of reason. And the fact that Spock was half Vulcan and half human made his character so much more emotionally interesting. The fight between logic and emotion has always been a dichotomy that’s fascinated scientists and audiences alike for good reason. They are usually considered to be such opposing forces. So to create a character that was made to be in the middle of that dichotomy added an element to Spock that hadn’t really been explored in depth in many characters before. This is one of the most interesting elements of any iteration of Spock and makes the character unique and even more lovable. So, it most likely doesn’t surprise anyone that Spock has been attempted to be paired off before ‘Strange New Worlds’. The most notable pairing, other than T’Pring of course, is in J.J. Abrams’s movies. That pairs Spock and Uhura and I don’t think it was necessarily the best in doing so. Uhura, though she got more time in those movies, still didn’t receive nearly enough development. She often came across as Spock’s girlfriend rather than having much in the way of her own character, except for maybe in the first film and a little bit in the second. Not only that, it just didn’t seem to quite work. We saw them already in a relationship in the movies, when the question of how Spock would navigate a potential relationship with a non-Vulcan has always been a hot topic. Because we didn’t see it originate, the relationship felt weirdly shoe-horned in and almost unnatural to the story. And, in my opinion, the two characters also didn’t have much chemistry.

Relationship:

In comparison to some of the original episodes of ‘Star Trek’; ‘Strange New Worlds’ goes so much deeper into the friendships between many of the crew. It also goes much deeper into the personalities of characters that might have been snubbed before. Obviously, my main example here is Christine Chapel. Instead of a demure character, we automatically see the fun-loving, slightly sarcastic, incredibly charming, and extremely empathetic version of this character. She even gets her own fight scenes! Chapel does not easily take slights to heart and she is always up for running after a patient if she needs to. Usually the adrenaline is something she even enjoys. But what really strikes you about this version of Chapel is how self assured she is in so many areas. She doesn’t apologize for being who she is or feeling how she feels and she is absolutely certain of anything involving her work. Her openness to her emotions makes her the perfect friend for Spock and this series really shows you the growing relationship between the two of them. When Spock is unsure of himself because he doesn’t know how to react when feeling an emotion strongly, it’s Chapel that comforts him. And when Chapel is being dressed down for her emotions, it’s Spock that defends her because they are insulting the very thing about her that he values so much. Their relationship with each other is innocent and adorable; they are both nothing but completely honest with each other. That is, until Chapel actually catches feelings. And then she lies to his face about having feelings for him. Really, what else was she going to do? She already had a slight crush on him and then he kissed her for a ruse. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for her. But the interesting thing about that scenario is that the show is really making you wonder if maybe her crush isn’t one sided this time. Because when T’Pring tells Spock that she knew there was no way he could have feelings for Chapel, there seemed to be a little hesitation on Spock’s behalf. But we’ll have to see what future episodes hold.

Future:

This is largely because, ‘Strange New Worlds’ takes place before the original series. And if they are going to go the route of the original series, we know for a fact that Chapel’s crush will most likely remain unrequited. Just because Abrams changed the timeline doesn’t mean the new shows are also going to do so. But, it’s not like they haven’t already made slight changes by using and re-doing the characters from the original series, so you really never do know. I, personally, am obviously hoping for more when it comes to this specific relationship. I’m so invested in it at this point! And I have loved all of the interviews Jess Bush who plays Chapel has done about why Chapel feels so drawn to Spock. Because we know that Spock feels drawn to Chapel because of the vibrancy and openness she expresses her human emotions with. But she said that Chapel feels safe around him because he’s so open and honest. I think I got called out a little bit there. Regardless, I’ll love to see Chapel’s future friendship developments with characters like M’Benga and Ortegas. But this Spock one has really caught my attention more than any relationship in any fandom has for quite a while.

I’m just really excited to see what’s going to come next for them. As you can tell, I’m so invested in this storyline now that it almost hurts. I’m so excited to see what they’ll announce at the ‘Star Trek’ panel at San Diego Comic Con for this show. I know I just saw the first season, but binging shows has completely spoiled me now. I want to see the second season as soon as I possibly can! And now I’m even considering cosplaying Chapel, so I guess I know where my money will be going in the near future.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie