Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Star Trek Part II: The Wrath of Dubs

The House of Leesah is with Honor.
Welcome back to Kevin is Right Dubs Knows What He Is Talking About As Well Generally Speaking's guide to navigating all of you neophytes through the morass of proper nouns, navel contemplation, sweaty makeup and OH FUCK--EXPLODING CONSOLE!! that makes up the seemingly impenetrable patina of Trek.  By following this guide, as well as Part I, you will achieve TREK COMPETENCY and be able to speak with some degree of authority about what it is that you actually don't like about the show.  Or, you could just learn to like the show like a normal nerd.  You know, whatever.
Remember Trek Trekkers:  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every awesome Star Trek episode, nor is it meant to be any kind of ranking system.  Instead, what you are getting here, if you follow the list in order, is a gentle peeling back of the labia of inaccessibility and obscurity to find the juicy, soft parts that make up Trek's fundamental awesomeness.  (Yeah, that's a weird metaphor, but I'm keeping it just to make you feel somewhat uncomfortable).
All of that being said, keep leaving us comments telling us how much you hate the episodes that we chose and all the episodes that we should have chosen instead.  I, for one, would like to lament the non-inclusion of "Fistful of Datas" and "Tuvix."
(Disclaimer:  Do NOT watch "Fistful of Datas" or "Tuvix."  Double Secret Disclaimer:  No, seriously-- please, please, please do not watch "Tuvix."  It's truly terrible and you will never want to watch Star Trek again.)

This is why we can't have nice things.
And now-- back to THE LIST!
6:  The Inner Light:  Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 25
This is one of my absolute favorite episodes of all Trek.  If we were making a Top 10 of the best Trek episodes, I would fight tooth and nail to get it on the list.  "The Inner Light" represents some of the most solid storytelling that Star Trek has to offer.  Most of the episode takes place off of the Enterprise, focusing almost exclusively on Picard's character.  No staring at view screens, no holodecks and no herping the derpometer.  This is simply the story of a man accepting his circumstances and learning to live his life.  One of the emotional pinnacles of the franchise.
7:  The Best of Both Worlds: Parts I & II: Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Season 3, Episode 26 and Season 4, Episode 1
For all the squabbling over which episodes are the best Trek has to offer, most Trek fans can shrug their shoulders with half a nod and say "Yeah, that one's pretty good".  "The Best of Both Worlds" is the quintessential Borg (a primary villain race of Star Trek) episode of the series; if the name "Locutus of Borg" sounds familiar, this episode is why.  It also serves as the narrative jumping off point for the character of Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine.  This episode has it all:  suspense, drama, great character development, Wil Wheaton and of course, GRATUITOUS SPACE BATTLEZZZZZ!! (pew pew pew).  Consider washing down this episode with a tall glass of "Family" (TNG Season 4, Episode 2), the follow up and emotional cap to the Best of Both Worlds episode arc.
8:  The Way of the Warrior:  Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, Season 4, Episode 1
Ready to dip your toes into a little DS9?  This is the place to start.  Unfortunately, DS9 stumbles out of the gate a little harder than your average Star Trek series and doesn't begin to find its voice until late in the second season (also due to the fact that all the good franchise writers like Ronald D. Moore were writing for TNG at the time).  "The Way of the Warrior" is DS9's coming out party where it sets the tone for the remainder of the series and boldly goes into awesome.
Keep in mind:  Deep Space Nine is a far more serialized show than The Next Generation.  Whereas TNG was about being on a groovy starship and exploring the galaxy in the name of science and love, Deep Space Nine is about the geo(cosmo?)political undulations of a specific region of the galaxy and the consequent war that breaks out.

As such, the bane of the rookie Trek fan rears its ugly head:  PROPER NOUNS.  Compounding this issue is the fact that Kevin (who is right) and I (who knows what I am talking about as well generally speaking) had you fast forward through three seasons of foundational exposition.  Cardassians, Bajorans, the Dominion, Klingons, the Wormhole, the Prophets, the Gamma Quadrant, the Jem'Hadar...Holy fuck.
BUT--  as the internet asks us to do often:

What he said.
So yes, you might be a bit confused as to the finer points of the Bajoran religion or the command structure of the Dominion, but that's not what's important.  What you're getting here is a vertical slice of the awesome of Deep Space Nine.  A war is being planned, there are more space battles (pew pew pew), and there are Klingons EVERYWHERE, which is never a bad thing.
(Seriously, no one has ever said "Ugh..it's another episode with KLINGONS.") 
Also, almost every awesome character in the series makes an appearance:  Martok, Gowron, Garak, Dukat (the best villain in the whole IP--  eat it, Khan), and of course, Worf's introduction into the world of Deep Space Nine.  So, suck it up and let Deep Space Nine beam into your heart.
9:  Call to Arms:  Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, Season 5, Episode 26
I'd like to note that this episode begins with the lovely Chase Mastersen playing Leeta and looking rather mammarous.  See also:  this podcast.
I'm not sure what to prime you about on this episode:  it's another vertical slice episode and it's just damn cool.  There's war.  And cunning negotiations.  And space battles (pew pew pew).  And destruction.  And deception.  And tactical decisions.  And it even channels a bit of the old Empire Strikes Back darkness.  Watch it.  It'll put you on the edge of your seat.
10:  In The Pale Moonlight: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6, Episode 19
Kevin and I agree on this:  If this were a list of best Star Trek episodes of all time, "In The Pale Moonlight" would top the list.  This episode features Captain Benjamin Sisko staring into your soul the camera as he recounts the events of the past two weeks.  It is the story of  his role in the turning point in the Dominion war, perhaps costing him his sense of morality and self respect.  If this were Mass Effect, there would be a lot of choosing the bottom right of the conversation wheel.

Oh, and the dude boozes it up the whole episode.
Captain Benjamin Sisko:  Loaded Die Emeritus
So there you have it, shmoopy-doos:  our guide to harpooning the majestic whale that is Star Trek.  Do you feel like breaking the Prime Directive?  Do you have the notion that reversing the polarity of the deflector array might just solve all of your problems?  Are you ready to set your phasers to MUTHAFUCKIN' KILL!?  ...Well, good...do that then.

HOWEVER--  We at the Loaded Dice Blogcast are not yet done.  It could be that you are someone who is wrong all the time like Derek and therefore TNG and DS9 don't do much for you.  Or perhaps the episodes we selected have left you untitillated? 

Well, my fellow nerds-- Part III:  The Search For A Good Episode of Voyager will be released for your consumption next week, in which we throw out to you as supplementary material three episodes from each of the five series that we feel like highlighting. 

Until then, lay in a course for the Loaded Dice Cast and...  ENGAGE!

(P.S.--  By the way, the ubiquitous "they" are releasing a Star Trek movie this week.  It's called "Star Trek Into Darkness."  That nice Jewish fellow who likes the lens flares did it.  It looks pretty good!  Go see it.)


  1. The Original series gets snubbed again! How could you leave out Mirror, Mirror? Evil twins with goatees!

  2. But, dear SIL, this is a list that is meant to coax the unwilling and frightened non-Trek fan into fledgling Trek fandom. To that end, and I like Bill as much as the next guy, the Original Series can be a frightening funhouse of makeup, rubber suits, hammy acting and 60's social statements.

    TOS is important and worth watching, but it's definitely not the sort of thing that you give to someone in 2013 and say "Here-- You'll LOVE THIS!" Even I have to watch those episodes with a grain of salt and what a sense of what the hipsters call "irony."

    THAT BEING SAID-- Part III will feature TOS episodes. So stay tuned!

  3. Just watched number 6. God damn you boys know how how to pick them. Link for the lazy - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HESK2O