Sunday, November 23, 2014

Character Insight No. 122: Michael Eddington

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Michael Eddington, a recurring character from Deep Space Nine.

 ("Another security officer you just can't trust") 

Eddington first appears when he is assigned to Deep Space Nine as a Chief of Starfleet Security after the Dominion contacts and conflict begin. Although he was added to the crew because Starfleet did not trust Odo completely, these two security officers worked together well during Eddington's short stint aboard the station.

Eddington ends up playing a critical role in some of the biggest early missions of the Dominion conflict prior to breakout of full war. He sabotages the Defiant's cloaking mechanism when Sisko disobeys an Admiral's orders to hunt down an Obsidian Order fleet. He later also plays a huge role discovering that blood tests can be used to detect infiltrator shapeshifters in Starfleet as well as in the plot to make a second wormhole to the Founder's home planet.

Eddington then serves an interesting bridge between the stories of the first part of DS9 and the Dominion War storyline as he defects to the Maquis in his second year aboard the station. It turns out that the Maquis battle against the Cardassians appears to be the moral battle to take when the Dominion and Cardassians appear to gain the upper hand in the war. Of course, Eddington and the Maquis take it to the next level, far beyond what Starfleet can tolerate.

To this end, Eddington prepares a biogenic weapon to cause fatal nerve damage to Cardassians and he begins deploying this weapon at Cardassion colonies in the Demilitarized Zone. Sisko and the Defiant outsmart Eddington though and prevent the destruction of further colonies by detonating a trilithium resin device over one Maquis colony with threats to do others unless Eddington turns himself in, which he does. 

From Blaze of Glory
Captain Sisko: [about Cal Hudson] He was a good man.
Michael Eddington: He felt the same about you. He thought you were wrong about the Maquis; but he forgave you. Which is ironic, considering you never forgave him. You can't forgive any of us. And not because we betrayed Starfleet or the Federation. But because we betrayed *you*.

The last we see of Eddington is his assistance of Sisko with the rescue of the final Maquis survivors after the Jem'Hadar take this resistance movement out. He saves his wife Rebecca and Sisko before falling to the Jem'Hadar himself, a fitting fate for a Maquis leader.

Eddington was fond of the novel Les Miserables, and he saw himself as the hero Valjean, always trying to elude the inflexible policeman which he saw as Commander Sisko. Eddington's character is based on a similarly named character in the 1965 movie In Harm's Way, a very unlikeable protagonist. His character ties together some of the important aspects of this TV series while also providing some contrast from the tendencies of the main cast in the late seasons. This type of character works well for that very reason.

Eddington was played by Kenneth Marshall, who has not acted in over a decade. However, you can relive some of his greatest hits in the 80s movies Krull and Feds.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Character Insight No. 121: Best of Geordi La Forge

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we try a new type of segment based on a listener question to the show last week. Let's circle back to some major characters and look at which episodes are best for establishing their character development, and we start with Geordi La Forge from TNG.

 ("VISOR Geordi is the original and best version of Geordi") 

The best episode for learning some of Geordi's past was Hero Worship, where Geordi and Data help a sole survivor child of a ship crash deal with his trauma. Geordi reveals that he also had similar struggles as a young child, once being trapped in a burning building and then learning how to see with a VISOR for the first time at the age of five. 

From Hero Worship
Data - Did you ever experience a traumatic experience?
La Forge - I was caught in a fire once...and it was only a couple of minutes before my parents found me and pulled me out. I tell ya, that was the longest couple of minutes of my life.

We also learn a lot about Geordi and how he got the assignment aboard the Enterprise by impressing Riker and Picard when on former assignments in the episode where everyone thinks he and Ro Laren are dead, The Next Phase. For example, he stays up all night to fix a shuttle's engine efficiency after an offhand remark from Picard during a shuttle ride, which endears La Forge to the future Enterprise captain. 

From The Next Phase
Picard - "I've been thinking about the first time I met Geordi La Forge. He was a young officer, assigned to pilot me on an inspection tour, and... I made some off-hand remark about the... the shuttle's engine efficiency not being what it should, and the next morning I found that... he'd stayed up all night, re-fitting the fusion initiators. Well, I knew then that I wanted to have him with me on my next command."

If there's anything that defines Geordi, it's professional success matched with occasional problems dealing with people. He initially butts heads with legendary engineer Montgomery Scott after saving Scott from a transporter buffer accident in the episode Relics, but they eventually hit it off and work together to save the Enterprise.

From Relics

La Forge - "I told the Captain I would have this diagnostic done in an hour."
Scotty - "And how long will it really take you?"
La Forge - "An hour!"
Scotty - "Oh, you didn't tell him how long it would really take, did you?"
La Forge - "Of course I did."
Scotty - "Oh, laddie, you have a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker."

One of Geordi's weaknesses is dealing with women and romance, and like his mentee Reginald Barclay, Geordi gets himself into trouble falling for holographic representations of  women. This was most evident when he ends up meeting and having to work with the real life Leah Brahms in the episode Galaxy's Child after falling for her hologram in the episode Booby Trap. 

From Galaxy's Child
La Forge: "The acoustic signature doesn't sound right."
Leah Brahms: "You're probably the only other person in the galaxy who could pick that up."

Do you like this new take on the Character Insight segment? Please send feedback into the show and on Twitter. If you like it, we will mix these in every 2 or 3 weeks along with the regular version of the segment, which now focuses on some of the best recurring characters in the shows. 

Give feedback!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Character Insight No. 120: Alyssa Ogawa

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile another character from TNG, Nurse Alyssa Ogawa.

Alyssa Ogawa.jpg
 ("Such a bright-faced young'un at the beginning") 
Ogawa serves a similar role as Christine Chapel in TOS, that being a regular recurring nurse in sickbay. Ogawa was not featured until early in season 4, although she becomes a more regular fixture for the final four seasons as well as two of the TNG films. Ogawa comes aboard as an ensign, but her good effort leads to a promotion to lieutenant, junior grade, and she is a trusted fallback for Dr. Crusher that communicates to the other senior staff when Crusher is unavailable. Thus, we get to see her develop into a vital member of the sickbay crew.
Unlike many recurring characters, Nurse Ogawa does not see a lot of away mission roles. Instead, she is mostly seen assisting with important research and surgeries in sickbay and around the ship. One of these notable surgeries was the work on a trill ambassador, which was the first time Federation officers had actual observations of a trill symbiont. Although she also appears in each of the first two TNG movies, in both cases she is shown merely leading an evacuation of sickbay when the Enterprise is crashing on a planet or overrun with a Borg invasion.
Alyssa is very close to Dr. Crusher and considers her boss a close friend. We also see her hang out and play poker with other junior officers in the notable episode Lower Decks. She dated a small handful of people on the ship and even became a subject of gossip by the Captain and Dr. Crusher, but this leads to her engagement and marriage to Andrew Powell. They conceive a child who was born shortly before the movie Star Trek Generations, and this child saves the crew thanks to using amniotic fluid from Ogawa's pregnancy to overcome a contagion called Barclay's Protomorophsis Syndrome. The magical healing powers of pregnancy and babies even works in Star Trek. 

Quote: from Suspicions
Doctor Beverly Crusher: I don't want you to get involved in this.
Nurse Alyssa Ogawa: Is that an order, Doctor?
Doctor Beverly Crusher: Yes.
Nurse Alyssa Ogawa: Too bad you're not my boss anymore.

This is a high-quality and well-written recurring character who becomes a familiar face the audience cares about thanks to the stories told about her. It was great to see her star in a couple late episodes such as Lower Decks, and this is the type of character who adds significant depth to a series, even with a well-established ensemble crew already in place.  
This character was named by the TNG budget estimator Suzi Shimizu, who picked alyssa based on her daughter's name and ogawa based on her maiden name. Although her daughter's name is officially spelled with a "y" in Alyssa, the character's first name is indicated to be spelled with an "i" in about half of her script appearances. If you enjoy this character, she lives on as a major character in the novel series Star Trek Titan, which is the ship led by Riker and Troi after their departure from the Enterprise following Star Trek Nemesis. 

Nurse Ogawa is played by Patti Yasutake. Her biggest non-Star Trek role was in the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous, but she has recently done voice work for games such as Bioshock Infinite.