Why am I rewatching old Star Trek movies?
So glad you asked!
My upcoming novel Nora and the Werewolf Wedding was partially inspired by the character of Deanna Troi in Star Trek the Next Generation. Now, if you think it’s strange that a science fiction character could inspire a series of urban fantasy novels… Well, you’re probably right, but I never claimed to be normal. And really, we have my mother to blame here because she was the Star Trek fan.
I fondly remember weekends with Star Trek marathons when my mother unfolded that super-heavy and not-quite-comfortable sofa bed so that we could all camp out in the living room. She was a single mom for the majority of my childhood, so she was asleep by 10PM, but it was fun watching her pretend like she could stay awake long enough to get the full experience.
So it makes sense that an impressionable young woman like me would become captivated by a television show where a woman sat on the bridge of a starship. But Deanna Troi was not just “a woman sitting on the bridge” either. We got to see a lot of women strutting their strengths in the movies and tv shows when I was growing up, such as Ripley (Aliens), Sarah Conner (Terminator), and Princess Leia (Star Wars).
Deanna Troi stands out because her strengths are gentleness, intelligence, and empathy.
I know that there are some conversations about her costumes on the show, but I don’t want to get into that debate. We’ve all heard it before. Suffice to say, she had a major role to play in keeping tabs on the emotions of a wide variety of races living inside that fragile spaceship. So while I’m rewatching these movies – and yes, I chose the movies instead of the actual show because of time constraints, but I’ll obviously be rewatching the show as well – I am paying particular attention to Deanna.
With that in mind, let’s dive in!
Star Trek Generations Plot Blurb from IMDb: With the help of long presumed dead Captain Kirk, Captain Picard must stop a deranged scientist willing to murder on a planetary scale in order to enter a space matrix.
First observation, I forgot Malcolm McDowell was in this movie. He has a captivating voice and makes for a fun villain, even if not the cleverest scientist. Knowing what he does about the matrix and all of its strange time travel, you would think he could have anticipated resistance from Picard and Kirk.
Now, on to Deanna’s role.
Troi’s involvement at the very beginning was quite satisfying. Being the empath that she is, she’s the one who knows immediately that her Captain has been given bad news. SPOILER ALERT – His brother and nephew have died and the grief that brings to the table forces him to confront his own mortality. However, she also senses that he needs some time to grapple with the shock on his own, so it is several scenes later before she walks herself into his room to ask him if she can help.
The scene is quite lovely and while they are interrupted by PLOT happenings, it is a nice reminder that she has a true position and job to do on this ship. Her captain was in distress and she met that distress. When he tries to brush off the deaths as, “It’s alright, these things happen.” She confronts him – gently – by saying that no, it is not alright.
We as a society often believe that grieving is a weakness of some kind, but it isn’t. Grief is a part of life. It’s one more thing that reminds us we are human and alive, and while it is painful it shouldn’t be ignored. Deanna’s presence at that moment in the storyline highlights that it is not only okay to grieve, but necessary. Even for the captain of a starship.
The rest of the movie has Deanna doing starship things. She takes the helm when the helmsman gets injured during the space battle and is understandably busy while the ship (SPOILER ALERT) goes down. The one thing I do wish the movie had more time to explore was Data and his emotion chip. Deanna was an obvious choice for him to go to while wrestling with human emotions for the first time, but I suspect the pacing of the movie would have been dramatically hindered by adding such a scene.
All in all, I deeply enjoyed this rewatch. William Shatner’s Kirk was a delight from start to finish, and while there were a couple of things that made me squint – such as Klingons bothering to take Picard prisoner only to throw him right down where he wanted to be instead of, you know, holding him prisoner as a bargaining chip, and the aforementioned shortsightedness of the villain – I am enough of a fan of the characters themselves to brush these off.
Next month, Star Trek First Contact.
Live long and prosper, dudes.