Monday, March 31, 2014
"WHEN IRISH EYES ARE TALAXIAN"
It did not take Neelix very long to brew a fresh pot of his special blend of coffee. However, he felt surprised that someone would actually request a cup. Or a pot. Being a shrewd person, the crew's preference for replicated coffee over his own had not escaped his notice. Nor the pot of freshly brewed coffee that always seemed partially full. Even when Captain Janeway visited the Mess Hall.
Neelix filled an empty canister with the brew. The doors to the Mess Hall slid open. "Seven," he greeted the newly arrived ex-Borg. "What are you doing here?"
Seven-of-Nine slowly weaved as she walked toward the galley. "Neelix." She regarded the Talaxian with heavy-lidded eyes. Neelix noticed that she did not seem her usual precise self. "Have you seen . . .?" The former drone scanned the Mess Hall, wobbling on her high heels.
"Seven, are you feeling well?" Neelix asked.
The blond woman gripped the edge of the galley's counter to steady herself. Her usually confident voice now slurred. "Of course, I'm fine." She flapped her hand in the air. "I'm merely . . ." Again, she glanced around. A conspiratorial smile touched her lips. "I'm . . . I'm merely looking for some . . . have you seen the Commander?"
One of Neelix's bushy brows quirked upward. "The Commander? You're looking for Commander Tuvok?"
"No! No!" Seven shook her head. Several strands of her well-coiffered hair loosened. "Not that commander."
The only other commander aboard Voyager happened to be the First Officer. Only why was the obviously inebriated Seven searching for Chakotay? "Ah! If you are referring to Commander Chakotay, I haven't seen . . ."
Once more the Mess Hall's doors slid open. "Neelix!" A jovial Harry Kim burst into the room with one of the Delaney sisters on his arm. Which one, Neelix had no idea. Wearing a huge grin on his face, Ensign Kim continued, "There he is! The man of the hour! Say Neelix, do you have any more Valax around?" His eyes focused on the canister sitting on the galley's countertop. "Is that it?" Ensign Delaney giggled.
Neelix sighed and replied, "Not exactly, Harry. This is coffee." He picked up the canister and shook it. "Would you and Ensign Delaney like a cup?"
Harry dismissed the offer with a wave of his hand and leaned over the countertop. "Are you sure there's no Valax? Jenny and I were looking forward to more." His eyes fell upon the ex-Borg. Harry smiled. "Seven! What are you doing here?"
An annoyed expression flitted across Seven's face. She heaved a gust of breath. "Why is everyone so conce . . . con . . . concerned . . . over my pres-s-sence in the Mess Hall?"
"I'm not," Jenny Delaney replied cattily. She received a glare from the former drone.
Neelix added, "Actually, Seven is looking for Co . . ."
"Who cares?" Harry said, interrupting the Talaxian. He leered at the blond woman, much to his companion's displeasure. "Say Seven, how about joining me for a little bottle of Valax in Holodeck Two?"
"Hey!" Something like a cross between a pout and a frown appeared on Ensign Delaney's face. "What about me? I'd like some Valax too!"
Harry shrugged. "Okay. Both of you can join me. I won't mind."
The stellar cartographer slapped the Ops officer's shoulder. "I would. I'm not in the habit of sharing my men!"
Seven snorted, taking Neelix by surprise. He had never heard the ex-Borg snort before. "Why not?" she shot back. "It seems to be the only way you can attract a man."
Something like a growl escaped Ensign Delaney's mouth. "Why you Borg bitch!" She released Harry's arm and started toward Seven with hands formed into claws.
Time to end this fight before it starts, Neelix thought. Forever the diplomat, he stepped in between the two women. "Now ladies," he began, "there is no need for this fighting. It's unbecoming on a Starfleet ves. . ." Seven shoved him out of the way, causing Neelix to slam against the galley's counter. Soon, she and Jenny were engaged in a catfight. By some miracle, Ensign Delaney managed to hold out against the former drone. Neelix wondered if the Valax had affected Ensign . . .
The sound of rattling pots and pans cut into the Talaxian's thoughts. He glanced across the countertop and spotted Ensign Kim rummaging through his galley. "Ensign Kim. Harry! What are you . . . Harry, there is no more Valax!" Neelix sighed and realized that the young officer had not heard him. "Mister Kim! Please, I need your help." Realizing he would not receive any from the Ops Chief, Neelix tapped his combadge. "Neelix to Andrews. I need your help in the Mess Hall. There seemed to be a . . ." A fist snaked out and clipped the Talaxian's chin. Darkness soon followed.
Yellow-orange eyes snapped open. Tom sighed with relief at the sight of his friend gaining consciousness. "Neelix? Are you awake?"
The Talaxian slowly eased into a sitting position. Blinked his eyes several times. "Where . . . where am I?" He glanced around.
"Sick Bay," Tom replied. He explained that Ensign Andrews had responded to a summons from the Mess Hall. Which led to the discovery of an unconscious Neelix stretched across the floor. "He beamed you to Sick Bay. What happened?"
Shock welled inside Tom, while Neelix revealed a fight between Seven-of-Nine and Jenny Delaney. Over Ensign Harry "Eager" Kim. Tom could not believe his ears. The Doctor, on the other hand, looked concerned. "Seven didn't injure Ensign Delaney, did she?"
"No. I'd say that the fight was evenly matched." Neelix swung around, until his legs dangled from the biobed. The EMH pressed a hypospray filled with anglesic into his neck. "Surprisingly, Ensign Delaney managed to hold her own against Seven."
Recalling his wrestling match against Megan Delaney, Tom was not surprised. Fermented Leola root mixed with alcohol, obviously brought out brute strength in female stellar cartographers of Irish descent. A voice from the other side of Sick Bay cried out, "That's my sister!" Megan erupted into a burst of giggles and then demanded a cup of Irish coffee.
"Irish coffee?" Neelix repeated, looking confused.
The Doctor dismissed the question with a wave. "Another Earth drink," he said airily. "Where is the coffee you were suppose to prepare?"
"I guess . . ." Neelix glanced around once more and shrugged. "I guess it's still back in the Mess Hall. I could go get it . . ."
Right on cue, the doors to Sick Bay slid open. The tall, dark figure of Ensign Andrews strode inside. "I came to check on Neelix," his deep voice rumbled. "He might be looking for these." Andrews held up a silver carafe in each hand.
"The coffee!" Neelix cried happily. He took the carafes from Andrews and handed them to the EMH. "Here you go, Doctor. Of course, I'm still curious as to why you require my coffee."
The Doctor sniffed. "You'll see." He filled a cup with Neelix's coffee and added several drops of the new inaprovaline from a hypospray. "Here you go, Ensign," he said, handing the cup to Megan. "It's that Irish coffee you wanted."
Megan glanced at the cup in the Doctor's hand with suspicious eyes. "That doesn't look like coffee. And the whipped cream is still missing!"
Tom decided it was time to butt in and took the coffee from the Doctor. "It doesn't need whipped cream," he added in a whisper. "This is Neelix's special blend of Irish coffee. With Valax." He gave Megan the full blast of his blue eyes. "Won't you try it for me? Please? I gave Neelix the recipe."
"We-el-ll," Megan slurred. She smiled and burst into giggles. "All right, Tommy. Just for you."
The Doctor muttered, "Oh please!" Tom seared him with a death glare worthy of Kathryn Janeway and Owen Paris, combined.
Megan took a cautionary sip. "Hmm!" she murmured. "I can even taste the Valax." She then proceeded to consume the rest of the coffee. The four men held their breaths. Megan smiled and declared, "Now that's good coffee!" before she weaved slightly and slumped to the floor. The empty cup rattled beside her.
"It worked!" the Doctor crowed.
Both Neelix and Ensign Andrews looked confused. "What worked?" the former asked.
Tom explained the Doctor's antidote for the Valax. "Apparently, this version of inaprovaline only works orally and with your coffee. How soon can you make more?"
"I'll get on it right away," Neelix replied. He slipped off his biobed. "Meanwhile, I'll serve this coffee," he waved the other carafe in the air, "to Harry, Seven and Ensign Delaney in the Mess Hall."
Andrews spoke up. "They're not there. At least they weren't when I found you."
Tom sighed. The entire situation was fast transforming into a major headache. Harry, Seven and Jenny's disappearances meant more people to search for outside the Holodeck. He took the carafe that the Doctor held and handed it to Ensign Andrews. And he grabbed the other one from the Talaxian and placed several drops of inaprovaline inside. "Okay Neelix, you return to the Mess Hall and begin making more coffee. Doc, give him the inaprovaline, so he can add it into the coffee. Also, help us search for more stragglers. Neelix, once you finish making that coffee, get hold of the Security detail and all of you can serve it to those already inside Holodeck One. Meanwhile, Andrews and I will . . ."
"Jarvis to Andrews," a female's voice crackled from the Security ensign's combadge. "I've found Lieutenant Torres."
Before Andrews could respond, Tom interrupted. "Paris to Jarvis. Where is she?"
"Inside Jeffries Tube 37, Deck 3."
Tom ordered the computer to initiate a site-to-site transport of B'Elanna from the Jeffries tube to Sickbay. "Unable to comply," the computer's voice responded coolly. "Transporters are off-line."
"One. . .two. . .three. . ." Tom muttered under his breath, utilizing the meditation exercises his wife had learned from Tuvok. He never thought he would have to use them. Until today. He finally calmed down and tapped his combadge. "Paris to Engineering. Can someone please explain why the transporters are down?"
Joe Carey responded, "Sorry Tom, but we had to re-route power from the transporters and the replicator system. The ship's external sensors proved to be even more damaged than we thought. And that last ion storm also damaged part of the inertial dampners."
"Wonderful." Tom turned to the others. "I'll be in Jeffries Tube 37 if any of you need me. Meanwhile, I suggest that all of you see to your tasks." He quickly marched out of Sickbay. Both Neelix and Andrews followed close at his heels. The trio soon came upon Turbolift 2 and Tom pushed the button to summon it. "I swear to God," he murmured under his breath, "if I have to go through another day like this . . ."
Neelix asked, "Did you say something, Tom?"
"Huh? Oh, nothing Neelix. I was just . . ." Tom immediately clamped his mouth shut as the turbolift doors opened. Sprawled inside was Voyager's answer to a male model - Ensign Larson. Who wore nothing below the belt and a satiated expression on his face.
"Heavens!" Neelix exclaimed. "What happened to him?"
Tom smirked. "Isn't it obvious? Looks like someone finally got his or her way with the ensign. Not that he seemed to be complaining."
"What's that he's holding?" Andrews added. He stepped inside the lift and removed a small object from Larson's hand. "It looks like a hair comb. Does anyone know to whom it belongs to?" He held it up for the others to see.
The smirk on Tom's face immediately disappeared. He had last seen that comb stuck in Kathryn Janeway's auburn tresses. And he was not the only one who recognized it. "That belongs to the Captain!" Neelix declared. "How did Larson . . .?"
"I think we can pretty much guess how he got his hands on it," Tom curtly interrupted. He took the comb from Andrews and gave the other two men his version of the Paris stare. "Now, as far as we are all concerned, this never happened and we have no idea of who owns this comb or how it ended up with Larson. Clear?"
Neelix frowned. "Yeah, but . . ."
"I understand perfectly," Andrews replied stoically.
The two Starfleet officers stared at Neelix. Who immediately caved under the hard stares. "Neelix?" Tom said. The Talaxian nodded and Tom relaxed. "Okay. Andrews, help me get Larsons to the Doc. And Neelix . . . well, you know what to do."
While Tom and Andrews lugged the heavy ensign back to Sickbay, dark thoughts ran rampant through the pilot's mind. One day, he promised himself. Somehow, he would pay B'Elanna back for talking him into volunteering for Command duty. And when he did, she had better look out.
After he and Ensign Andrews delivered Larson to Sickbay, Tom headed for Jeffries Tube 37, on Deck 3. There, he found Crewman Jarvis standing next to the opened hatch. Tom heard loud sobbing emitting from inside. B'Elanna.
"I don't know how long she's been here, Lieutenant," the tall woman said to Tom. "I was just passing by when I heard loud crying and found Lieutenant Torres inside. I tried to convince her to leave, but . . ." Jarvis ended her litany with a shrug.
Tom nodded and climbed inside the Jeffries Tube. There he found his wife huddled against the tube's wall. Tears flowed from her eyes and she was using her skirt's hem to wipe them away. Tom sighed. This does not promise to be easy. "B'Elanna," he called softly. "B'Elanna, it's me. Tom. It's time to go."
B'Elanna shot back in an emotional voice, "Leave me alone!" Ah, Tom thought to himself. It heartened him to hear a touch of Klingon in her tone.
"I won't go away. You need help. The Valax that Neelix made is affecting you." Tom held out his hand. "C'mon. Why don't you join me? So you can get a little help."
Sable eyes filled with tears, stared at Tom. "Why should I? You don't want me. You want . . ." Loud sobs filled the Jeffries tube. "You want he-e-er!"
A thump against the tube's hatch reminded Tom that Crewman Jarvis stood just outside and could hear everything. He crawled back to the entrance and ordered the guard to join the search for other stragglers from the Holodeck.
"But sir," Jarvis countered, "the transporters are down. Won't you need help in getting Lieutenant Torres to Sickbay?" Despite her words of assistance, Tom thought he detected curiosity and a touch of smugness in the guard's eyes. Jarvis seemed anxious learn the identity of 'her'.
Tom retorted, "I can get her out on my own, Jarvis. Check with Neelix in the Mess Hall He might need your help."
"But sir . . ."
"That's an order, Crewman!" Tom barked in his best Paris command voice.
The security guard flinched. "Yes sir." Then she gave Tom a nervous nod before leaving. Probably to spread the word to her fellow guards that Lieutenant Paris' roving eye had resurrected. Tom wondered how long it would take to live down this latest rumor-in-the-making.
Another sob from B'Elanna interrupted Tom's thoughts. He crawled closer to his wife. "B'Elanna? B'Elanna, please! There's no 'her'. Just you and me. Sweetheart?"
"Huh?" B'Elanna peered suspiciously through her tears. "What did you call me?"
B'Elanna continued in a wavering voice. "You never called me 'sweetheart' before. Is that what you call . . . call Me-ea-gaa-an!" More sobs wracked her small frame.
"How did you know that was . . . ?" Tom sighed. "Never mind." He never realized that B'Elanna was capable of so many tears. "B'Elanna . . . B'El . . . B'Elanna, please stop crying! You have nothing to cry about! Nothing happened between Megan and me. I swear!" Loud sniffles from his wife followed Tom's declaration. He reached out to touch her arm. "B'Elanna . . ." She shrank back. "B'Elanna, I promise you there is nothing going on between me and Megan. Nor have I ever called her sweetheart."
"Then why were . . . were you kissing her?"
Tom took a deep breath. The memory of his wrestling match with Megan loomed in his mind. "I wasn't kissing her," he finally said. He crawled even closer to his wife. "I was . . . defending myself."
B'Elanna replied in a passive whisper, "It didn't look like you were defending yourself."
"For crying out loud, B'Elanna!" Tom's outburst caused B'Elanna to shrink back against the wall in a most un-Klingon manner. He quickly softened his tone. "I swear B'Elanna, I'm telling the truth. Megan had drunken too much Valax and began . . . well, she began groping all over me. She would have done a lot worse . . ." From a particular point of view, Tom thought inwardly. ". . . if I hadn't fought her off."
Another sniffle followed. B'Elanna's dark eyes grew wide. "Honest?" God! She almost sounded like Naomi Wildman.
Tom moved toward her until he was close enough to gather her in his arms. "Honest," he whispered back. Then he began to stroke her thick hair.
"Tom?" B'Elanna pressed her face against his chest.
He replied, "Hmmm?"
"What's that next to you?"
The Doc's new inapprovaline. Tom had almost forgotten. "It's uh, coffee. Irish coffee. With a little of Neelix's Valax in it." He paused momentarily. "Would you like some?"
B'Elanna nodded childishly. "I like Neelix's Valax."
She was not kidding, Tom later realized. Neelix's coffee, mixed with the Doctor's antidote must taste like Valax. Or coffee with Valax. The possibility relieved Tom. It meant that the others would not hesitate to drink the coffee. It took three cups of coffee to knock out B'Elanna. Tom had enough trouble drinking one swallow of the stuff without gagging. If that was how Valax taste, Neelix could keep it.
Eyeing his unconscious wife, Tom tapped his combadge. "Paris to Engineering. Are the transporters systems back on-line?"
"Negative," Carey responded. "They're still offline. But the inertia dampners are now working at 85."
Tom sighed. "That's thrilling to hear. Paris out." He glanced at B'Elanna's inert form and sighed once more. He seemed to be doing that a lot, lately. With the transporters offline, it seemed he had no choice but to carry his wife to Sickbay. Then he remembered. This Jeffries tube was located on the same deck as the Paris/Torres quarters. Leaving his wife in their bedroom would be a lot quicker and easier on his back. Still, it promised to be quite a haul. Tom wrapped an arm around B'Elanna's waist and began to haul her toward the tube's entrance. While muttering obscenities to the universe at large.
END OF PART 4
Sunday, March 30, 2014
"LOST" RETROSPECT: (3.07) "Not in Portland"
As I have hinted in a few articles in the past, I am not particularly fond of Season Three of "LOST". Let me rephrase that. I am not fond of the first half of the series' third season. But despite this dislike of mine, I cannot deny that this period of "LOST" managed to produce one or two memorable episodes. One of those episodes - at least for me - just might be (3.07) "Not in Portland".
This episode marked the first one to feature the back story of one of the Others - the island inhabitants who help protect it from outsiders. In the case of this particular episode, the Other in question is one Dr. Juliet Burke. The episode's flashbacks focus upon the circumstances that led Juliet to the island. In Miami, Florida, Juliet is a fertility scientist determined to help her cancer-ridden sister Rachel become pregnant with a child. Juliet's goal is more or less stymied by her controlling ex-husband, Dr. Edmund Burke. Not only is he also a gynecologist, Edmund is Juliet's supervisor at the Miami Central University. After she finally succeeds in impregnating Rachel, Juliet is approached by two members of the Others - Richard Alpert and Ethan Rom - who falsely offer her a job as head researcher for Mittelos Bioscience in Portland, Oregon. When she reveals that Edmund would never allow her to leave her current job, the latter is conveniently killed by a moving bus. And Juliet accepts the position at Mittelos Bioscience, believing that it will last six months.
The present day sequences of the episode continued where the previous one - (3.06) "I Do" - left off. While operating on Others leader Benjamin Linus for a malignant tumor on the latter's spine, castaway leader Dr. Jack Shepherd holds his patient hostage in exchange for the escape of fellow castaways Kate Austen and James "Sawyer" Ford. While on the run, Kate and Sawyer encounter Alex Rousseau, who reveals that she has a boat they may use to escape to the main island. In return, she asks them to help her rescue her boyfriend, Karl. Jack genuinely begins to operate on Ben, but the latter awakens during the surgery and demands to speak to Juliet. She leaves the surgery to help Karl, Kate and Sawyer escape the island. She also kills Other Danny Pickett to help them escape, and informs Alex, who is Ben's adopted daughter, that she must remain. Later, Juliet tells Jack that Ben would allow her to leave the island after three years, if she helps Jack save Ben.
Many fans have expressed their disappointment in the flashbacks that revealed Juliet Burke's past. I do not share their disappointment. Juliet's background as a fertility doctor and researcher seemed to foreshadow the revelation of the fertility problems endured by the island's current inhabitants. Her background also foreshadowed the revelation of Ben Linus' obsession in overcoming the Others' fertility problems. With Richard and Ethan's help, Ben went through a great deal of trouble to trick Juliet into traveling to the island in the first place. A fake job offer at a fake organization? No wonder this episode was titled "Not in Portland". More importantly, Juliet's flashbacks highlighted how three years on the island as an Other had changed her personality. Or improved it. Despite being divorced from Edmund Burke, Juliet still managed to be controlled and intimidated by him. Although Ben proved to be just as controlling as Edmund, Juliet still managed to become a more self-assured and as this episode proved, dangerous woman. By this time in her life, Juliet was about to discover that she had enough of controlling or manipulative men in her life.
The present day events in this episode seemed more like a part-time psychological thriller and adventure story. And Juliet played a major role in both aspects of this episode. Jack used her as a means to have Ben to his mercy by manipulating Tom Friendly in having her removed from the surgery. And if Juliet had not intervened and killed Danny Pickett, chances are Kate, Sawyer and Karl would have never successfully escaped to the main island. I do not mean to sound cold-blooded, but Juliet's killing of Pickett was a sight to behold. I found myself wondering about Edmund Burke's fate, if she had been just as ruthless back in Miami. Another aspect of "Not in Portland" were a few minor scenes that caught my attention. One featured an exchange between Jack and a tearful Kate over short-wave radios, in which the former tried to convince the latter to leave him behind and escape. The emotional barrage between Jack and Kate seemed to have briefly caught Sawyer's attention. Perhaps this was the first time Sawyer realized that Kate's feelings for him were not as strong as he may have imagined after their sexual tryst in the cage. In another scene, Sawyer was so intent in beating up Pickett out of revenge for his mistreatment that he ignored Kate's cries to run. Was this another hint of Sawyer's destructive penchant for revenge? Who knows.
Was there anything about "Not in Portland" that did not ring right with me? Hmmm . . . well, yes. I never understood the scene featuring Other Karl Martin's brainwashing in a place called Room 23. What was the point of this scene? Are we to believe that brainwashing was a method the Others used to "recruit" members? Was there another reason why Ben ordered Karl imprisoned inside Room 23? I realized that Ben tried to put the kibbosh on Karl's relationship with Alex, but . . . honestly? Brainwashing? Or was this scene simply a shallow form of thrills for the television audience to talk about? I am also a little confused about Juliet's relationship with her ex-husband. Why would she allowed this man to continue controlling her after their divorce? Was Juliet responsible for initiating the divorce? Or was Edmund? I guess we will never know. Speaking of Edmund Burke, I must admit that I found the circumstances of his death just a bit too much. I thought screenwriters Carlton Cuse and Jeff Pinkner were rather heavy-handed in their use of "coincidence" by having Edmund die in the very manner that Juliet had earlier expressed in a conversation with Richard. I mean . . . . c'mon!
"Not in Portland" featured some excellent performances from the likes of Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Michael Emerson, Željko Ivanek, Blake Bashoff, Robin Weigert, William Mapother, Tania Raymonde, and Michael Bowen. But there were four performances that I really enjoyed. One of them came from M.C. Gainey, whose portrayal of Tom Friendly naturally ranged from suspicion toward Juliet, slight hero worship of Jack and a sickening intolerance of the sight of blood. By the way, Tom's hilarious reaction to blood was one of the episode's highlights, thanks to Gainey's performance. Nestor Carbonnell made his first appearance as Other immortal Richard Alpert. With his eye-catching physical appearance and strong and mysterious screen presence, Carbonnell made quite an impression on many fans, including myself. Once again, Matthew Fox gave a superb, yet unappreciated performance as leader of the castaways, spinal surgeon Jack Shepherd. I was especially impressed by Fox's portrayal of an intense Jack, desperate to resort to anything to ensure Kate and Sawyer's escape. But the best performance in this episode came from Elizabeth Mitchell, who gave a superb performance as Dr. Juliet Burke. I am flabbergasted that Mitchell had never received any award nominations for her performance in this episode. She did an excellent job of conveying Juliet's character development from whipped ex-wife to a dangerous and desperate woman. I have always considered her to be one of the best actresses on the series and "Not in Portland" certainly proved it.
Despite being one of the episodes that aired during the dreaded first half of Season Three . . . despite being part of the dreaded story arc that featured Jack Shepherd, Kate Austen and Sawyer Ford's time as prisoners of the Others, I managed to enjoy "Not in Portland" very much. For me, it is a bright sunshine during what I view as an artistically dreary period for "LOST".
Friday, March 28, 2014
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historical event known as the "Cuban Missile Crisis". Below are images from "THIRTEEN DAYS", the 2000 movie depicting the event. Directed by Roger Donaldson, the movie starred Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp:
"THIRTEEN DAYS" (2000) Photo Gallery