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Episode 73 – TOS 3×18: “The Lights of Zetar”

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

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

Memory Alpha from orbit: a series of interconnected domes.
Like, I love this idea, but the execution infuriates me???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Mira Romaine floating in the decompression chamber
Or… floats, as the case may be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Scotty reassures Mira; Mira looks unimpressed
Don’t worry, it’s probably just your uterus! Those cause precognitive visions, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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