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Rightful Heir And My Star Trek Legacy

My mother is a mysterious woman. She’s passionate, and clear about where she stands. She gives great advice and taught me most of my moral compass. I love my mother, but there are depths to her that are still mysteries to me. Some of her mysteries I began to understand with time. It was only once I became a woman that I understood her ferocity, because I had to experience first hand what it takes to be a woman in this world. I began to understand her sadness once I had enough doors slammed in my face because of my gender. I knew her skepticism when I was too often fooled into thinking something was attainable, only to find out that it was placed just a little more out of reach for women. These things I have come to understand in time, though they were lost to me when I was a child. When I was a girl, my mom was very much a mystery. The armor that she put on to survive in a male dominated workforce permeated her personality, and I didn’t have the life experience to understand her. This made her unapproachable to my childlike mind, like there was a part of her that was always hidden from me.

While I have plenty of happy childhood memories of interacting with my mother, one of my favorites is one that she didn’t know about for years. When I was in my early teens, maybe pre teens, my mom carved out an hour every day for herself. From 11pm to 12am every weekday night, she would watch syndicated Voyager episodes while she folded laundry. My bedroom was the first door in the hallway, and if I sat on the foot of my bed with the door cracked open, I could see the living room television over her shoulder. This was back in the day, mind you, so I wasn’t watching a 60″ plasma surround sound set up. No, this was a small TV, and I missed many details. Regardless of my inadequate vantage point, I still got to know Katherine Janeway and the Voyager crew. I don’t know which I delighted in more – their hijinks, or the hour every night that I got to spend with my mysterious mother (even though she was completely unaware). It’s no surprise that as soon as the Star Trek franchise dropped on Netflix, I threw it on to recapture those lost childhood moments. I finally came clean to my mom about the nights I spent spying, and found out that most of my siblings had this same memory – our mother watching Voyager while she folded the mountains of laundry that four children never stopped producing.

Once I zoomed through seven marvelous seasons of Voyager, only one of which I recalled from my youth (Farhampton was just as charming as I remembered), I moved on to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I didn’t know if I would like it, I was curious to see if I was a trekkie or if I just loved Janeway, Torres, and Seven. After an absolutely painful first few seasons (exacerbated by the fact that I immediately jumped in to the new show, I should have given myself time to process after Voyager was finished) I found myself falling in love with the crew on the Enterprise.

What I love most about Star Trek (that I’ve seen so far, Voyager and Seasons 1-6 of TNG) is that it’s so fucking wholesome. In the age where everything is getting cancelled for good reasons, when humor that landed five years ago has been revealed as the horrific systemic tool that it is, it is lovely to watch an old show that doesn’t pit my love for nostalgia against my current morals and ethics. While it is important to identify media that is problematic, it can be mentally taxing to keep finding problems. Every movie or show that fails the 2020 test just depresses me, because it reminds me of how sad it is that I’m calling it the “2020” test and that I’ve been privileged and blind this whole time. Then I start a vicious cycle of self hate, which serves no one. Needless to say, it’s been a relief to open this vault from the past and not be disappointed in all of society. What helps Star Trek stand the shifting ethics test of time is the prime directive that every Star Fleet officer adheres to as their moral code: Respect All Life Forms. There are episodes that discuss gender identity or the different value placed on lives in a class system, not to mention the ever present battle between doing what is right and what is easy. There are also characters like Data and The Doctor constantly reminding me that all sentient life forms deserve respect, no matter how we perceive them.

I’m rambling, which I promised I would save for Manic Mondays, but here we are. Throwback Thursday and I’ve written nearly 1,000 words before I’ve even started getting to the point. Well, that’s what you come here for, right, dear six readers? Ranting Reviews For No Reason was too long of a URL, but you know what you signed up for. It was so important that I pay homage to my mother (who, as far as I know, is not one of my six readers) for opening the door to this world that I sacrificed talking about my favorite character in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Kidding, I sacrificed nothing. This article is just going to be really fucking long.

It’s Worf, to get to the point. Lieutenant Worf is a Klingon, who was orphaned at a young age and raised by humans. He is the first Klingon Star Fleet officer, and is frequently trying to balance his two identities which rarely see eye to eye with each other. Unlike B’lana Torres from Voyager he doesn’t seem to hate the conflict within himself, but he often seems exhausted by it. I frequently butt heads with myself when my sothern christian upbringing battles with my free spirited flower child personality. I don’t hate either side of my personal dichotomy, but I frequently find that I have two opinions on everything and I am constantly questioning which one is right.

Every Worf-centered episode brings me a little closer to bringing peace to the war that wages inside of me every day. None so much as the most recent (to me) episode – Rightful Heir. In this episode, Worf finds himself in a crisis of faith (which coincidentally is how I spend a majority of my time). Doubting the Klingon religion that claims Kahliss, their savior, would return one day, Worf goes to a sacred place in order to meditate and attempt to connect with Kahliss. While he’s meditating, Kahliss appears in corporeal form. Having doubts about Kahliss’ legitimacy, Worf continues to probe until the truth is revealed – the religious leaders have cloned Kahliss’ DNA and programmed him, as he was mitosis-ing, with Kahliss’ memories.

This information brings up so many questions. What makes a person – their memories? Their DNA? How do we qualify a life? Answers elude the Klingons as the characters grapple with their own beliefs in a modern, scientifically advanced world. The religious leaders claim that the prophecy of Kahliss returning could have been referring to a time when science would be advanced enough to clone him. The political leaders claim that he is not the same Klingon that left for the afterlife, that because he is a clone he is a fraud. Some of the soldiers don’t question the legitimacy, they simply believe.

Data, who has been observing the Klingon’s through the episode, takes note of the soldiers that appear to believe blindly. Worf questions how the soldiers can believe something without question, and Data tells him about the moment that he gained awareness. Data is an android, he was created by a man before being found and activated by Starfleet officers. When he “woke up”, he had a choice to make. If he believed that he was only a machine, he would never be able to exceed the parameters of his programming. He didn’t want that, so he “took a leap of faith” and decided that he was a person, capable of growing and changing with time. Worf then took his own leap of faith, and announced that the Kahliss that stood before him was the one that the Klingon people needed.

Taking a leap of faith is such an interesting concept to me. Growing up in the South, church is a part of life. Believing in a christian god was not a leap of faith for me, it was peer pressure. When Data describes a leap of faith outside of a religious context, it opened my mind and I saw that faith does not only exist in church. To this day, I call my mother when I have a problem, even if it’s an unfixable one, because I know that her presence will make things better. Last week, when I was staring out the window waiting for Edward to come home so I could tell him that the TV was busted, she was the person I called to keep me company. I’ve come a long way from the little girl that cracked the door to secretly hang out with her mom, the little girl who believed that there was no problem that my mom couldn’t fix for me. Regardless of how much time has passed, though, I still put faith in her every day. Every time I needed her. Even though she hasn’t always been perfect, even though our relationship hasn’t always been easy. No amount of time or change in circumstance has ever shaken my faith in her ability to ease my mind and make my journey through life easier. My mom may very well have mystical powers or she may be a mere mortal, but I know that she was the best mother that she knew how to be. I know that the only hour she could get to herself, she spent folding our laundry. And I believe, every time, that she will make my load lighter with just the sound of her voice.

Note to the Reader: I am so happy to be sharing stories like this with you, and I hope we can all talk about what Star Trek has taught us and meant to us over the years. In order for me to put out more content like this, I need this website to financially sustain me. If you are able, please donate below. If you are not able, please give this a share if you liked it. Thank you.

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Categories: Television

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