STAR TREK REWIND: “First Con-tact”

“The sand is dancing.”

When we last left the Ferengi (Deep Space Nine’s series finale, “What You Leave Behind”), it seemed they were on the cusp of a grand experiment. The experiment involved the liberation of females. Sorry if I’m spoiling a 23-year-old episode for everybody but Grand Nagus Zek (played by Wallace Shawn) retires and appoints Quark’s brother, Rom as his successor.

Changes were already in place because of Quark and Rom’s mother, Ishka (also known as “Moogie”) and her influence over Zek. It made sense to give females rights since it doubled productivity and profit, but the motivations behind their subjugation had changed over time since the Ferengis were first introduced. It also makes sense that Ferengi females are just as disgusting, just as duplicitous and greedy as their male counterparts.

That’s true equality. At first, it was a matter of privilege, but then it turned into oppression. The reason I’m going into this is because of DaiMon Nendi, a Ferengi female Dal identifies as a mother, though she seemed to be more her ward when she rescued him after he was orphaned. She has a proposal for Dal and the kids on the Protostar. She wants chimerium crystals that grow on a nearby planet, and she’ll give the Protostar a cloaking device.

The others, with the exception of Dal and Janeway (who follows Starfleet protocol to the letter), have no problem with this since they see it as nothing more than a “diplomatic exchange.” Dal knows Nendi, and knows that she is a con artist (as seen in the episode’s title). Janeway is against the idea of interfering with what may be a primitive culture. Nendi, having no moral entanglements, uses Dal and the crew to provide a distraction so she can steal the chimerium crystals.

Luckily, Dal is one step ahead of her. The planet is an interesting paradox; covered in sentient sand and inhabited by fairy-like creatures that float in its wake. Prodigy and the Animated Series (though not Lower Decks) created surrealistic canvases of alien worlds that seem more plausible as static art rather than live-action backgrounds. Even when rendered in realistic-seeming CGI, they inhabit nothing in a supposedly “real” sense.

Something else has happened in the live-action realm. Colors have become muted and murky. Backgrounds have no substance. Unnatural darkness fills unoccupied voids within these compositions. This must be an unwanted side-effect of high definition photography. Out-and-out animated shows don’t seem to have this problem. Perhaps this is an unconscious reaction on our part as viewers.

Because we know we’re watching animation (say, Monsters vs. Aliens for example—we know it isn’t real), we have an easier time acclimating to the visual than we would with live-action, which is purported to be more “real,” when it isn’t (as in Stranger Things when the “mind flayer” looks like crap and the visual effects people think you can’t tell the difference). I’ve noticed this getting worse with newer live-action shows. The artistry of film is being left by the wayside while the banalities of digital video are on display everywhere.

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