We’re joined by Sam to discuss Tasha Yar and Ellen Landry: two very different women who share the same job, whose potential as characters was never quite realised. 

Discussed along the way: 

  • “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, Sela and more missed opportunities
  • What if “Parallels” but with a million different versions of Landry?
  • Star Trek‘s discarded women
  • Sam’s Landry OTP

We also share some of our hopes and fears for season 2 of Discovery.

(Content note: Tasha’s storylines involve rape, of which there is discussion.)

You can find Sam on Tumblr as @vasnormandy, and on Twitter as retconning.

The fic Anika discusses is “To The Death” by shinealightonme.

Ellen Landry and Tasha Yar stand back to back holding phasers from their respective eras. Their arms are not well-executed. A note over Tasha's phaser reads, "dustbusters are hard to draw".
Arms are even harder to draw than dustbusters.

Transcript

[intro music]

Liz:  Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz.

We’re joined today by Sam to discuss the characters Tasha Yar and Ellen Landry. Anika, please introduce Sam, because I’m meeting her for the first time. 

Anika:  Sure! Sam has been my friend for at least ten years, now. We met roleplaying on LiveJournal–


Liz:  Nerds.

Anika:  –and–

Sam:  Yeah!

Anika:  –for many, many years, and that spun out into collaborating on a lot of fiction about those characters that we created, they were all legacy characters of Avengers.

Liz:  Nice.

Anika:  And assorted other fandoms that we sort of snuck in. And we’ve worked together on various blogs, at Fantastic Fangirls and State of Flux, and we have gone to conventions together. We were most recently together on a panel at Wiscon, which is Madison, Wisconsin, every year, that was about Star Trek women, and titled Tasha Yar. So I thought that she would be the perfect guest to have for this topic. 

Sam:  Thank you. What a nice introduction. 

Anika:  You can introduce yourself, as well, if there’s anything you want to say. 

Sam:  No, I mean, that’s about it. I think Anika’s one of my oldest friends, and certainly one of my nerdiest. Which is saying something. But I mean that in a good way. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s because of Anika that I grew a love for Marvel Comics, and now I sort of write adjacently to Marvel characters for a living, kind of? Not really? A little bit? So when she asked me to be on her podcast, I was like, absolutely. And then she told me it’s about Star Trek, and I said yeah, definitely absolutely. 

Liz:  I like that you said yes before you knew what it was about. That is true friendship.

Sam:  Yeah, of course. I knew it would be something good.

Liz:  Fair. So I am curious to know — because I’m told it was you and Anika who came up with this — where the notion that Tasha and Ellen are sort of parallels came from?

Sam:  Well, I think, on paper, very obviously, they’re parallel. By being security chiefs, by being coded as kind of tough/masculine amongst other people, although I think it’s a little bit different on Discovery now. But by also not lasting long enough for either of us, I think? 

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  So, yeah, I remember the initial — when we first started talking about Tasha Yar, it was before Discovery even happened, obviously. But, like, when we were talking about that panel for WisCon, you know, the idea of just all this potential in such a cool character that people connect with, especially women, and especially young women. Like, I was a kid when Tasha Yar happened. And then, having that happen again many years later on all new Discovery.

Liz:  Yeah, kind of a kick in the guts.

Sam:  Yeah. A little bit. I almost quit when she died, Discovery, and I was talked into sticking around. Which I’m glad I did, but I did almost quit that day.

Liz:  They killed a lot of women of colour in a very short time. 

Sam:  Yes. 

Liz:  Yeah. There’s no getting around that. 

Anika:  And shockingly and violently. And with no ceremony, like–

Sam:  Violently, right. 

Anika:  –oh, then they’re dead, now. 

Sam:  Yeah.

Liz:  What really made me angry about Landry’s death was not just the violence of it, but it was just so stupid. And I sort of understand what they were doing with the character, and we can talk about that later on, but it was stupidity on her own part that got her killed. 

Sam:  Yeah. It’s weird to say it seemed out of character for someone who — we know so little about her character. But it seemed — to me, a Starfleet security chief wouldn’t have done something so dumb? But then, again, I guess Tasha Yar — well, Tasha Yar died. She sacrificed herself. And Ellen Landry died because she was a bully, and that just seemed very weird. 

Liz:  Well, Landry’s whole behaviour didn’t seem very — didn’t really seem to be in keeping with Starfleet ideals or rules, or anything. And it made sense once the Lorca reveal happened, and we realised that he had probably spent a long time grooming her to become his follower, the way he did in the mirror universe. And, you know, this is what he wanted to do with his whole crew.

Sam:  Right.

Liz:  But a lot of it is supposition, and, like, I think Ted Sullivan said on Twitter that they had intended for Landry to have been a former Buran crewmember who had served under Lorca for quite a while, both the mirror and the original, and so he had more time to work on her. But that was all implicit, it’s sort of all guess work.

Sam:  There’s a lot of guesswork for a lot of characters on Discovery. It’s just, with her, I constantly do it. I also — you know, once they revealed the whole mirror universe, and what Lorca’s actual background was, I was like, okay, I get it. And then they showed us mirror Landry, and I guess we can probably get into that a little later, but mirror Landry didn’t seem like a mirror of prime Landry. And I wish that had worked more.

Anika:  Yeah, I liked — there was a theory going around that Landry had come with Lorca from the mirror universe, which made more sense. 

Sam:  Right.

Anika:  Because I agree that there was no real difference between the Landrys. It was sort of like, okay, these are the same character, and it just — it didn’t work for — especially with Philippa being so different. It didn’t make sense.

Sam:  Right.

Anika:  And the idea that, like, in the Original Series, the two Kirks were so different. That was the whole point. 

Sam:  Yeah, like, every time you have a mirror universe episode, people are incredibly — well, not incredibly — but they’re mirrors. I mean, obviously — to me, it’s epitomised, besides the original “Mirror, Mirror”, by Kira and the Intendant. Or, you know, the different Daxes, when they go over to the mirror–

Anika:  Showing my DS9–

Sam:  Just showing my DS9 bias.

Anika:  –how much I cannot stand the mirror universe in DS9, I just forgot that it happened in — I was like, oh yeah. 

Sam:  Yeah. That’s fair. Yeah. Well, mirror universe in DS9 is its own sort of problematic. Which, actually, they’ve carried through here. I know this is not an episode about the mirror universe.  But I was really expecting, in my head, once it was revealed that there was a separate Landry, that she didn’t come over with Lorca, I was like, well, so, if he did groom prime Landry, how did that happen? How did he break down who prime Landry was? What was prime Landry like before? 

Anika:  Yes.

Sam:  Can I have an entire series of prime Landry?

Liz:  Yeah, I think it’s difficult to appreciate the mirror universe [Landry] because we never really knew the original in her — in her natural, mentally healthy state. And I’m sure there was some trauma at work with what Lorca was doing, and her wartime experiences separate from him. But we don’t know for sure. 

Anika:  Absolutely. And that’s very interesting, and so you feel cheated even more. Because–

Liz:  Yeah! Yeah. 

Anika:  –those ideas are more interesting than anything that we got. Than her few lines and her relationship with both Lorcas. It’s like, I’m more interested in who she is outside of that than I am with seeing this sort of paper doll version. 

Sam:  Right.

Liz:  Yeah. Obviously, the version we got was interesting enough that we can have this conversation, but I do wish we had more. And I think it’s a testament to Rekha Sharma’s skills, that she brought so much to a fairly flat character. 

Anika:  Yep. 

Sam:  Absolutely. I felt the same way about what she did in Battlestar: Galactica. 

Anika:  Yeah, I agree.

Sam:  I didn’t love the character of Tory, but I loved what she brought to it, and what she did with it, and the way that character changed as you found out more about her. Which is interesting, because we found out nothing about in this, but she did such a great job. 

Anika:  And it’s also interesting because, if you ever see her in person, or even just on Twitter, she’s so bubbly and bright and happy, and — she’s just very alive all the time. And to play both of those really restrictive characters, who are just really angry — it’s really interesting. It’s like, wow, you’re such a good actress. 

Sam:  Yeah, and it just makes you think, like, what would you do — what was Landry like in her first assignment on a ship?

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  What was it like for her at the Academy, you know, my favourite — and it’s funny to think, there’s so few episodes of Discovery in comparison to Next Generation, but even–

Liz:  Of Tasha.

Sam:  –but even that first season, because that’s all we got Tasha Yar in, which was still twenty-two episodes, of which she got, like, I dunno, maybe four or five focus episodes. She was always there. And I think that’s one of the reasons she left, if I recall, because she wanted more to do. And I sort of wonder, we still got very little of Tasha Yar in all of those episodes. So to have her kind of reflect down, thirty years later, and be like — wow, what was Tasha Yar like at the Academy? To ask these same questions about that character, it’s really interesting. 

Liz:  It’s funny, I went back to watch some season one of TNG for this episode, because I really did not pay much attention to Tasha my first few times around, apart from “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, which we’ll get to. I was really struck by how the Tasha we see on screen is quite different from the sort of fandom creation. You know, screen Tasha is quite feminine, she’s flirty, she’s almost aggressively heterosexual — she even makes a pass at Picard at one point. 

Anika:  Yeah. 

Sam:  Oh yeah! Yeah!

Liz:  I don’t blame you for having tried to forget that. I watched “The Naked Now”, and God help me, I do things for this podcast, I watched “Code of Honour”. 

Anika:  See, I did not. I’m gonna put that right out there. I did not. I can’t get through “Code of Honour” and stay come. 

Liz:  You made a good choice. 

Sam:  I rewatched it recently — I mean, recently in the last few years. It’s hard. It’s so hard to watch that with a modern viewpoint. As a kid, I loved it, because it was Tasha Yar getting to fight, right? And that was really neat. And now I watch it, and I’m like, “Oh my God, this is like the worst thing Star Trek’s ever done.” 

Liz:  And the fact that, even at the time, they were saying, this is terrible. 

Anika:  Yeah, like, just drop it guys. 

Liz:  It’s not just unacceptable now, it was unacceptable then.

Anika:  And everyone knew it. 

Liz:  But it was just interesting how much attention was given to Tasha’s attraction to men, and her sexuality generally, compared with, um, anything else? Like, we see her as a proactive and involved security chief, there’s the whole thing in “Symbiosis” where she has a really cool discussion with Riker about the professional challenges of people who cannot be disarmed because they carry their weapons in their skin. But a lot of the attention is about her as a sexual object.

Sam:  Yeah. I think that’s interesting. It’s almost like they were trying to be, like, “Hey, we know she has a short haircut, and she’s essentially a space police officer, and you guys aren’t yet used to seeing women do this kind of thing because it’s 1987? So we swear to God she’s straight.” 

Liz:  Yeah, yeah. And I think they did a bit of the same thing with Kira and Janeway later on, as well, like, “Don’t worry, guys, they’re definitely not lesbians, it’s okay.” Which is quite frustrating, because I think one of Tasha’s most interesting qualities is her friendship with Deanna, and she and Deanna are much closer than Beverly and Deanna at this point. And we never — because Landry was in it so little, she never had a similar sort of female friendship to bring out a different side of her. 

Anika:  Yeah. 

Sam:  Yeah, and if anything, Landry seemed to be dismissive or almost jealous of the other women on the series. I haven’t rewatched Discovery, but that was the impression I got, particularly when Michael showed up.

Liz:  She really only interacted with Michael, and there, I think she is aware that Lorca has an interest in her, and is threatened by that. I think that’s a measure of the number he’s doing on her head, basically.

Anika:  Right. I think they also used her to show Michael as being very isolated from all of Starfleet. Like, she was only in the first episodes on Discovery, the first two on that ship, and it was definitely a — Starfleet as a whole have decided to scapegoat Michael Burnham for this entire war, and so, because she was the first person that Michael even saw on Discovery, she had to be that person, she had to sell the, “you are completely isolated on this ship and we all hate you”. 

Liz:  She also has a dash of what we would later realise is Lorca-esque xenophobia, with her remarks about Vulcan martial arts. She’s dismissive in really un-Starfleet ways.

Sam:  Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, just to compare her again — and it’s hard, because she has so little of her own character–

Liz:  We’re here to compare!

Sam:  Right, right, but to compare her to the way Ash Tyler is treated, and the way he treated Michael, when he ends up essentially taking Landry’s role for no reason that made any sense until you understood that Lorca was trying to destroy everything.

Anika:  It’s true, it’s true.

Sam:  At least, then, it made sense, so I guess I appreciate that.

Liz:  Yeah, yeah.

Sam:  Because I spent, you know, eight episodes going, why does this guy with PTSD get put in charge of security? When the answer is, because it will destroy everybody. But it’s interesting, so she’s sort of, like, under Lorca’s wing. We think. I hope that was the explanation for it. Very rough and gruff person who just treats Michael like crap. And then you have Ash, who’s essentially — she dies so that he can have something to do–

Anika:  Yes. 

Liz:  Pretty much.

Sam:  –with Michael and the crew of Discovery. And so it’s just interesting to see the way the show treated them differently. Especially when you talk about — I mean, there’s all of these overarching themes, like forcing — not forcing, being aggressively heterosexual with Tasha Yar thirty years ago, and then killing this woman who, you know, she could have had a similar story. If she is undergoing some kind of trauma, like, brainwashing and trauma and abuse at the hands of Lorca, then she could have a very similar story to Ash Tyler.

Liz:  Yeah. The interesting thing — Rekha Sharma said on startrek.com that the character of Landry was conceived as a middle-aged white man, sort of your drill sergeant stereotype. But the storyline would have been the same. 

Sam:  Interesting.

Liz:  And I’m not in favour of adding more white men, but I would be curious to know how that storyline would have played out? Because we so rarely get to see guys in this sort of manipulated-and-then-dead role? 

Sam:  Yeah. Well, yeah, that’s something I was thinking about when we mentioned a few minutes ago about how women of colour died quickly on this show, and violently, and it’s — you know, and the show sort of was like, “Okay, this happened, and now we move on, and it moves the plot forward.” And one day, I would like there to be enough women of colour on television that that’s okay, but we’re not there yet. And I think, one day, this idea of gender and colour blind casting can work right? 

Anika:  Yes.

Sam:  But I don’t know if it always does. And you’re right, it would have been interesting to see a middle-aged white man be essentially under Lorca’s thumb, then die, and have that be like, “Oh well, who cares?”

Liz:  Yeah. Yeah, especially if they had kept the slightly creepy sexual relationship with Lorca. Like, I would be in favour of that.

Anika:  I’m gonna go out there and say, I think the word that we’re looking for is “disposable”. It would have been interesting to see the middle-aged white man as disposable. Which — in a way, I mean, I really like what they ended up doing with Lorca, in that they sort of tricked us all into thinking that he was important, and that he was going to stick around, even if he was evil. Like, we were all pulling for him to have a redemption arc, to be secretly good in the evil universe, or something like that. But, instead, they really doubled down on making him completely the most evil person in that universe. 

Liz:  Which is saying something!

Anika:  The emperor eats people on screen, but Lorca is still more evil. 

Sam:  Yes, right.

Liz:  But he’s also sort of pathetic, you know? He has this ambition that he can’t fulfil, and you get the impression that, without mirror Michael, he was never going to succeed. And so he’s really, ultimately, just a legend in his own lunchbox. 

Anika:  That was really well done. But, you know — and sort of twisting the middle-aged white male hero type. 

Sam:  Yeah, and I think that’s a testament to how well Jason Isaacs played that.

Anika:  Yes.

Sam:  His face when prime Michael betrayed him — quote-unquote “betrayed” him — in the mirror universe was great. Like, he did that so well.

Liz:  Oh, I know. 

Anika:  It would be interesting to see the disposable Landry character as a white man, as well, but again, I’m more interested in having there just not be any disposable people. Like — we’re basically saying that that would have been a redshirt. A redshirt with a name. And that’s what she is, but that’s not what we want. 

Liz:  Yeah. 

Sam:  Yeah, I don’t like — right. Yes, I agree. It’s funny, because the redshirt is such a joke, but I would be happy with a Star Trek where nobody dies. Like, that’s fine with me. Because they have such, like, advanced medical technology. Just fix people. You know, and if you’re gonna kill people, I guess kill them offscreen? Obviously, when you’re telling a certain kind of story, people have to die, and it’s not like the other Star Treks haven’t been quote-unquote “guilty” of killing people. I don’t know, it just felt — maybe it’s because there were less episodes, or because of the way they told the story, but it felt particularly bad.

Anika:  I think this particular one — she didn’t need to die. She could have been gravely injured, and Ash could still have her job. She could be, you know, even just slightly injured, and Ash could still have her job. Or she could be traumatised by the big, scary monster, and Ash could have her job. There was no reason for her to be dead in order to create that vacancy.

Sam:  Yeah, it does nothing for the plot, other than to say, “Hey, we’re gonna kill people on Star Trek: Discovery. Even though we already we did. And she got eaten, that other one.”

Liz:  What bugs me is, they could have just gravely injured her and plopped her on a convenient medical shuttle, and have her hover around in the background as a loose end that Lorca can’t quite clear up. It would have been fine. 

Sam:  Yeah, you know, honestly, even if they had had Lorca kill her — you know, we find out later that she was stuck on a medical shuttle, or something, and she’s a loose end, so he has her killed? That, to me, would have served more of a story purpose. I still would have not liked it, but at least it would have been a story purpose. 

Liz:  Yeah, whereas Tasha’s death was meaningless and shocking, but it wasn’t forgotten. 

Sam:  Right, and it echoed down for years and years in that show. 

Liz:  Yeah, for all that we complain about how episodic Next Generation is, that death never stopped mattering. 

Sam:  Yeah, I mean, even had they not brought her back for “Yesterday’s Enterprise”–

Liz:  Yeah.

Anika:  She was part of Data’s trial in “Measure of a Man”, and that was a beautiful moment. Like, it sold the whole purpose of the episode.

Liz:  She was still important, even after her death.

Sam:  Right. I mean, Tasha affected the show for the next six years after her death. Which I guess is sort of about as important as a death could be, really. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  And I guess, to some extent — I mean, I don’t know how much of this is me, like — if Tasha hadn’t died, no Worf doing Worf, right? And then, that means no DS9 the way we had DS9. So I think that’s, you know, her death echoed across the galaxy, the Star Wars galaxy — Star Trek. Oh my God. 

Anika:  [laughing]

Sam:  Don’t tell anyone I said that. The Star Trek galaxy–

Liz:  We’ll definitely edit that out.

Sam:  Thank you. Her death had much more of an effect on Star Trek just as a story than, I suppose, they probably expected it to at first? But they did a great job with that. 

Liz:  Yeah, and for all that Tasha is a character of missed potential, if you’re going to kill off a character suddenly and shockingly — I realise it was an evil oil slick, and it was not, objectively, a very good episode — but the emotional impact is well-portrayed.

Anika:  It is a terrible episode. But I have to say that Marina Sirtis acts the hell out of that episode. She is stuck in that crashed shuttle–

Sam:  The shuttle, right?

Liz:  Yeah. 

Anika:  –the entire episode, and she gets nothing to do. Everybody else is out there, actively trying to get her out, and she just has to talk to herself the entire time? But she — I made a video, and so I got all of her little scenes, and I was like, wow, Marina, anyone who says you can’t act, just show them these little clips of acting against nothing. 

And really selling the emotion of the entire story. Because, honestly, it’s better than everyone else. Everyone who was outside the shuttle for Tasha’s death, they’re just sort of — they have these faces of ‘I can’t believe I actually have to be in this scene’. It’s just really bad! But Marina  Sirtis is out there, really feeling Tasha’s death, and really — it’s just amazing. So I just wanna put that out there, that’s my favourite part of that terrible episode. 

Liz:  I think that episode may have been the first or second — not the first that I paid attention to, but the first that was in the background while I was half paying attention? And so that was quite an introduction. Like, the first episode I watched properly was “The Arsenal of Freedom” a few months later. But Tasha’s death — wow. I was like, ‘I can’t watch this, this is much too scary’.

Sam:  Yeah, for me, I think I was seven or eight when she — was it ’87? Anyway. When she died. And she was my favourite character on the show. Social media didn’t exist. Things weren’t spoiled at the time. I had no idea she was going to die. 

And I didn’t really get it at first? Like, she gets hit by this pulse, but people get hit by pulses all the time, right? And she gets this splotch on her face, and I was like, okay, she’s got a splotch on her face. They had some episode about some other disease with splotches on their faces, like, six episodes ago. 

I had no concept of, like, the the episode was ending, this is the third act of a three-act structure. I just didn’t know any of that as a child. And so, then, they had the funeral, and I was like, “All right, this is weird.” And then she showed up, and I was like, “That’s weird, she’s a hologram.” 

And then — I don’t know at what point it clicked with me that Tasha Yar was dead. But, like, it took a while. And then I was really annoyed about it. Not sad or scared or upset. I just remember being annoyed, like, why would you take my favourite character off your show? 

Liz:  I completely understand, because that was how I felt when I started season 2, and suddenly Beverly was gone. 

Anika:  Yeah, me too. 

Sam:  Yeah. Yeah. 

Liz:  And at least she came back. 

Anika:  I wrote angry letters. 

Liz: [laughing]

Anika:  I did!

Sam:  Did you? Do you still have them? 

Anika:  I have the response. 

Sam:  What was the response, out of curiosity? 

Anika:  It was like — it was a form letter, but at the very bottom, there’s a highlighted arrow, and someone had typed in, “She’s coming back in the next season!” So it’s like–

Sam:  Well, that’s nice!

Anika:  –you know, an eight-point form letter, “Thank you for writing, Star Trek loves you,” and then a “calm down, small child, she’s coming back.” I’ll try to scan it in, and we can post it on Tumblr.

Liz:  Yeah, that sounds amazing. 

Sam:  Yeah, so, speaking of coming back, I guess, do you want to talk about “Yesterday’s Enterprise”?

Anika:  Yes.

Liz:  Yes!

Sam:  Great segue. 

Liz:  I know, I’m so impressed. We should keep you.

Sam:  Thank you. Any time! I love Star Trek, so I’m in. 

Yeah, so, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, she came back. I was older, wiser and I was like, “Oh, great, she’s gonna be back forever.” And then she wasn’t. She died again. 

Liz:  You just have no luck with Tasha. 

Sam:  I don’t. I don’t. Well, there’s always fan fiction, guys.

Liz:  What I love about “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, it’s always been a highlight of TNG for me, but rewatching it last year — twice in a year — I was amazed at how much of an influence on the aesthetics of Discovery it had. You know, it has the dark bridge, and the brightly lit mess hall, and — Ten  Forward, mess hall — and the constant pages in the background. The idea of what it looks like when the Federation goes to war was really consistent. 

Sam:  That’s interesting. Yeah, I didn’t think about that. 

Liz:  And that kind of makes me argue against the parallels between Landry and Tasha. Because we know what Tasha’s like when she’s been fighting a brutal, decades-long war against the Klingons. And she’s still basically a good, decent person. 

Sam:  Yeah.

Liz:  And obviously it helps that Picard is no Lorca. 

Sam:  Right.

Liz:  But I think, even if you dropped Tasha into Lorca’s hands at a vulnerable stage of her life–

Anika:  Ooh.

Liz:  –she would still not have wound up like Ellen.

Anika:  I wanna write that fic!

Sam:  You should. 

Liz:  I know!

Sam:  I think that’s interesting, because — I mean, the way she grew up, she was at constant war all the time. You know? 

Liz:  Yeah!

Sam:  She knew war before anyone in the Federation probably did. She didn’t have the idyllic childhood that the majority of those people did. Like, you know, they’re living on these Federation worlds where everything is hunky dory, they have no money, they get whatever they want, there’s no crime. 

Liz:  Yeah. 

Sam:  And then Tasha grows up in a hellscape, and still ends up being a decent, morally person. 

Liz:  And a very soft person, you know? 

Sam:  Yes. 

Liz:  She is not your nineties type of “strong female character”. She is very empathetic, she’s nice with kids. You know, she’s a nice, gentle person … who can kick your arse without breaking a sweat. 

Sam:  And will. 

Liz:  Yeah! And I think part of that is the eighties, and how women were written in the eighties, but in the context of female action heroes, she’s a bit of an outlier. 

Anika:  I like that.

Sam:  Yeah, I agree. I like that, too. It’s interesting, because as much as they sort of reinforced her heterosexuality, she was also a female action hero who could have a sexuality. 

Liz:  Oh yeah!

Sam:  And wasn’t shamed for it. She got to fall in love, also, which was nice, even though that was why she died in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. She got to have sex, and nobody was like, “Oh, you can’t do your job anymore.” 

Liz:  Yeah, when she’s embarrassed about her sexuality, it’s because she’s made a choice she thinks she’s going to regret, or she’s attracted to Lutan in “Code of Honour” and she knows that’s a bad idea. But she’s also saying, “I’m attracted to him, I’m not in love with him, I’m not going to sleep with him, I just wanna look at him a bit.” 

Sam:  Right, which was really interesting if you think about the way women characters are written now. There’s sort of a lot more pearl-clutching around that kind of thing, that there has to be the discussion of, “Well, I’m attracted to this person, what does it mean?” 

And for Tasha, maybe it’s partially because whoever was writing that episode — and no comment on that particular episode — didn’t really know what to write about? Just because the way we wrote about women was so different, the conversations we had around women and their sexualities were different. 

Liz:  Devastating fact about “Code of Honour”: it was written by a woman. 

Sam:  I know, and she wrote a Stargate episode many years later that was essentially the same plot. 

Anika:  Ugh. 

Liz:  Oh my God. Girl, move on. 

Sam:  Yeah. Yeah. 

Anika:  She’s got issues. 

Liz:  Wow. But I do think, like, Tasha’s behaviour is a choice that she makes. And she makes it every day. Like you say, she has the most traumatic background of any Star Trek character, even including Worf and Michael. 

Sam:  Yeah, absolutely.

Anika:  There are so many levels to it. When she has the very special talk with Wesley, where she explains that drugs are bad — but when you think about that, that means that she has been an addict since birth. And that’s one of the things about addiction, every day you get up and say, “I’m not gonna do that today.” 

Just a few minutes ago, someone said she makes the choice, and it’s like, yeah, she makes the choice every day to be the best person that she can be. And she really makes all of her choices like that. 

And I think that’s why she was so upset about sleeping with Data, because that — it wasn’t her choice. She didn’t get to say, “I’m gonna do this because I want to do this.” It was because of some external force that was taking her over, and that upset her. So she was like, “We’re not — I can’t deal with this right now.” And I do kind of — I feel like eventually they would get to talk about it, if she hadn’t died. 

Sam:  If she hadn’t died. Well, I feel like, also, and I mean, I don’t know if you guys do content warnings, or anything? Because I’m going to go into — okay. The disease or virus, or whatever, from that episode took away her ability to consent. And she grew up on a planet with rape gangs. 

Liz:  Yeah. That would be really hard. 

Sam:  And that is the kind of thing — right. That’s the kind of thing that I imagine would be explored much more richly now, but was still there subtextually then, in the way she negatively reacted to that whole thing. But that she didn’t blame Data, you know? It was more about — to me, and obviously a lot of this subtext I’m adding into — but it was much more about that loss of control, and that loss of consent, and what that meant for this person who grew up without control. But, knowing that in another way, in another world, maybe it could have been a good thing. She still liked Data as a person. 

Liz:  And Data, of all people, is not going to treat her any differently, or look at her differently.

Sam:  Right. Right. 

Liz:  You know, he’s a very safe boyfriend. 

Sam:  Yeah. But “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. I liked that episode. I still like it. I have fond — I thought she was great. I remember reading an interview with Denise Crosby saying, “I got more to do in that episode than I got to do the entire time I was actually on Star Trek.” And she’s right. 

And that also had, you know, the first time we saw a woman captaining–

Anika:  The Enterprise.

Sam:  –the Enterprise. Which was great. I wish she hadn’t died, too, so that some dude could take over for her. And by some dude — I am a big fan of that actor because I’m a weird Grease 2 nerd, and he was in Grease 2. 

Liz:  Oh precious.

Sam:  So in my head, I just call him Goose. So he’s Captain Goose to me. But I still have fond feelings for that episode, even though the way it ended, like, if I had watched it as an adult the first time, I probably would have been, like uhhhhh, so the lady captain dies, and then Tasha falls in love with the same guy who gets to take over the Enterprise, so she ends up going back to the past … I guess that’s good, because it was her choice, and she gets to live, and she knows what she’s facing if she doesn’t do that. But then we have to find out what happened when she went to the past. 

Liz:  That’s the problem! I love her deciding, if she’s going to die, she’s going to have a meaningful death this time, and it is going to count for something. I love that, and I think that is a really good encapsulation of Tasha’s character. 

But then you go on to the later episodes, and it breaks my heart that this character who basically came from Rape Culture: The Planet ended up being captured and raped, and having her rapist’s child. Who was then, as a — I know she’s a child, but she’s still partially responsible for her mother’s death. 

Anika:  And she’s raised to be — yeah. To hate her–

Sam:  To hate her mother. 

Anika:  Yeah. It’s all bad. I am a fan of the Sela story that didn’t happen, which is the one that Denise Crosby came up with, that she was the daughter of Tasha and Captain Goose, and–

Sam:  Thank you for using “Captain Goose”. I appreciate that.

Liz:  He’s Captain Goose now. 

Anika:  And — but who was raised as a Romulan. So the rest of it is basically the same, but she was a human raised as a Romulan. And I’m very interested in that, you know, for the same reasons that i’m interested in Michael being raised by Sarek. 

Sam:  Right. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Anika:  I am always sad that that’s not what it is, and that, instead, it’s the worst possible rape fantasy that is tied up as, “Oh, he fell in love with her.” And it’s like, no, he didn’t! He was an evil Romulan who — ugh!

Liz:  Who came up with that twist? Who on the writers team came up with that twist? Because I have this awful feeling it was Jeri Taylor. 

Anika:  I don’t know. I don’t know. 

Sam:  I don’t know. 

Liz:  No, me neither. 

Anika:  I know that Denise Crosby pitched it one way, and they were like, “We like this story, but we’re gonna change it.” And it’s like, why? 

Liz:  “What if we add more rape?”

Anika:  Anyway, I wish that Sela had been better written in general. I feel like she could have been a half-Romulan child of rape and still gotten a better character arc. 

Sam:  Yeah, and also one that didn’t completely destroy — you know, if she had been more conflicted, and not just hated her mom–

Anika:  Right. Yeah.

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  –it wouldn’t have made Tasha’s death so awful. 

Anika:  It was really — I mean, those episodes are bad. Those episodes are bad in general. Everything with Spock is bad. Everything with the Klingons is bad. It’s all bad. 

Sam:  What I would have loved is if they had just sort of saved that character, put her on the backburner, and she had been the bad guy in Nemesis. 

Anika:  Yes!

Liz:  Oh, that would have been amazing. 

Sam:  That would have been interesting. We didn’t need Tom Hardy clone. 

Anika:  No. 

Sam:  We had that character, already, that existed. That would have been such a great — anyway, to go back to Sela, and — you know, as we sort of approach Discovery season 2, one of the things about these arcs is — we were talking about how Tasha’s death really resonated for seasons afterwards, and years, and probably into other series in much more subtle ways. 

But I suppose Discovery has the opportunity to bring Landry back, but I imagine they’re not going to. And it’s interesting, because they killed Georgiou and brought her back, in a way. 

Liz:  Yeah. I think, if we ever see, like, flashbacks to Buran-era Landry, if that’s what they decide to go with, it will probably be around the time they bring back prime Lorca. 

Anika:  Mm. 

Sam:  Right. Which, I mean, is fine. One of the things Discovery seems to be doing is killing people and then bringing them back–

Anika:  Culber. 

Sam:  Yes, exactly. To me, I mean, I’m the kind of person that that doesn’t erase the death in the first place? And, in fact, almost makes it worse? Because it makes it–

Anika:  Empty.

Liz:  Cheap?

Sam:  Yes, yes. So, you know, I’m conflicted about whether I would want Landry back? I just like her so much, for a character I saw for, like, three-and-a-half episodes? Not even, because she wasn’t in the full episode? That I would love to see her back, and to see the actor back. But–

Anika:  How could it possibly be done? 

Sam:  But how could it work? Or, at least, to have them sort of acknowledge that there was this woman, and she served in Starfleet and died a bad death. 

Liz:  Yeah, and she was effectively betrayed by her captain, and deserved better. 

Sam:  Yes. Right. And who’s going to be security chief next year? Will that be part of the plot? 

Anika:  I’ve been thinking about that. I was like, oh, so–

Liz:  Oh yes? 

Anika:  –now that there’s no security chief, again–

Sam:  They could clone her. 

Anika:  –so what’s going to happen? 

Sam:  Or they could just go in the mycelial network and get her from an entirely other universe. There’s got to be another one. 

Anika:  Yes!

Liz:  Sure!

Anika:  I mean, in “Parallels”, Worf visits a whole bunch of different ones. And we know that the Kelvinverse exists.

Sam:  Right, exactly. 

Anika:  So let’s just go get her. Find her somewhere. 

Liz:  I do kind of like the idea of just continually bringing in alternate Landries for as long as the series runs. 

Sam:  If they just did an episode that was like “Parallels” but with various Landries showing up, that would probably be one of my favourite Star Trek episodes. 

Anika:  It needs to at least be a Short Trek. 

Sam:  Absolutely.

Liz:  You know, Landry is the sort of character who you could do a Short Trek about. You know, about her career, and her personality before her death, and before Lorca. 

Anika:  To retroactively make her death have more impact. 

Liz:  Yeah. Because we don’t know who she was. That’s the problem. And, like, I actually didn’t like her very much as a character, I wasn’t hugely sorry when she died, but I find her really interesting, having realised that she was sort of what Lorca wanted to do with everyone. 

Sam:  Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. I wonder, like, I love her because she checks all my boxes for characters, like, the type of strong female character I like: flawed and kind of angry, and will punch you in the face, but has a moral centre of her own, even if at this point it’s broken because Lorca. Is she a popular character in the broader scheme of things? 

Liz:  She turns up, but I wouldn’t say she’s someone I see much of. 

Anika:  She’s like a rare character. The people who like her like her a lot. But most people just don’t have an opinion. 

Liz:  Yeah. 

Sam:  Right. 

Anika:  I ship her with Tilly. 

Sam:  Yes, well, you know how I feel about that. I could go deeply, deeply into that. 

Anika:  So I have this ridiculous obsession. 

Sam:  Yeah. I — okay. I ship prime Landry with Tilly, with prime Tilly. I ship mirror!Landry, in my head, who’s actually the opposite of prime Landry, not the real mirror!Landry we saw, with Captain Killy. 

Liz:  Yes. 

Sam:  I just — every combination of them makes me happy, even though, again, they shared one scene together. There’s just something about Tilly’s personality that makes me find her complementary to what we saw of Landry’s personality. 

Liz:  No, that makes sense.

Anika:  For me, it’s Tilly’s line where she says, “I was going through a soldier phase, but now I’m into musicians.” 

Sam:  A soldier phase. 

Anika:  And I’m like, I got your soldier phase for you!

Sam:  Yeah. Yeah. I know a soldier!

Liz:  Yeah! She’s right here. She’s dead, but, you know, she’ll get better. 

Sam:  She’s dead, but that’s fine. 

Liz:  Oh my God, I just figured out who should be security chief for season 2!

Sam:  Okay. 

Liz:  Tasha. 

Anika:  [laughing]

Sam:  Oh — what? 

Liz:  I mean, she’s already travelled through time once. So she escapes Romulan execution by … I dunno, popping into an anomaly.

Sam:  Popping farther back?

Liz:  Yeah!

Sam:  Okay. 

Liz:  She lands in the 23rd century, and she’s like, “Well, I’m not gonna change history, but if you’ve got a starship, I can, like, security chief it.” 

Anika:  Okay. 

Liz:  And they’re like, “Hey, we have one with a personnel shortage right here.” 

Sam:  “We need a security chief.” And clearly nothing Discovery does actually changes history, because they would have already heard of it. 

Liz:  Yeah, yeah. “Are you sure you’re not a Klingon? Great. Have this job.” 

Sam:  “Great, you’re in.” 

Liz:  Yep. 

Anika:  Just while we’re on the subject of Tasha flitting around and going through space, I read an amazing fanfic once where Sito Jaxa, when she gets lost–

Sam:  Oh, my fave.

Anika:  –met up with Tasha in a sort of time travel afterlife where they were, like, security chiefs — kind of like Legends of Tomorrow, but — going through to wherever there was a problem in the temporal plane, or whatever, they would go try to fix it. 

Sam:  Um, could you send that to me? 

Anika:  Yeah, I’ll try to find it. 

Sam:  Okay. 

Anika:  Clearly Landry should join up in this–

Sam:  Absolutely. Landry could start hopping through time. 

Anika:  It’s gonna be another–

Liz:  She is, like, the quintessential time travelling bad cop. 

Sam:  Oh my God. This is my favourite thing ever, now. All of the women that Star Trek has killed too soon. So prime Georgiou can join them, too. She can be their captain. 

Liz:  Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Sam:  All of these women that have been unceremoniously discarded by Star Trek can join up in a Legends of Tomorrow-esque caper gang. I love it. 

Anika:  Yes. Perfection. 

Liz:  I am definitely here for it. 

Anika:  So many women characters. 

Sam:  So many of them. Yes, it’s disappointing. I really like Discovery. It sounds like I’m kind of negative on it, but I really enjoy it. But the reason I enjoy it is not, I think, the reason that the writers are — like, the way the writers are writing it. It’s the way I, as a Star Trek fan–

Anika:  Engage with it?

Sam:  –who also — engage with it, yes, exactly. 

Liz:  And you’ve always needed to bring your own thing to Star Trek. 

Sam:  Absolutely.

Liz:  Like, you have to join the dots to an extent. 

Sam:  Yeah, and I think part of that, before, was the episodic nature of it. Although the — of course, stuff was serialised, especially towards the back end of DS9. I think, with Voyager, that was sort of the most episodic of all of the shows, to me. 

Liz:  Yeah, and I’m rewatching Voyager now, and I’m struck, going week by week, episode by episode, by how much is implicit. 

Like, Harry wakes up back on Earth, and he’s reunited with everyone he loves, and his clarinet. And a couple of episodes later, he’s replicated himself a clarinet. And it’s like, well, clearly that impacted him, but they’re not going to say it, because the audience might be watching out of order.

And I kind of enjoy having to do the work, but then you get to stuff like Landry, where you really have to do all the work, and–

Sam:  All of it, yeah. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  But you have to do all of the work in a lot of ways with Discovery. It’s just Landry is the best example of it because she died so quickly.

Liz:  Yeah, generally I don’t mind it, though. Part of the reason I like Discovery so much is that I like that I’m engaged on that level? But I think they need to find a slightly better balance.

Sam:  Yeah. I mean, I have high hopes for — speaking Landry, and sort of what’s next, I have high hopes for how they’re going to do Number One next season. 

Liz:  Yes. 

Sam:  To me, she’s the next kind of Landry. But all I know about Number One is, you know, what we saw of Number One in The Original Series, and what I have in my head. So I’m hopeful for that. I also like Rebecca Romijn, she’s kind of underrated as an actress. 

Liz:  Anika has discussed this at length. 

Anika:  Yes!

Sam:  Okay. So, I mean, I’m hopeful that season two, even though Landry is gone, and they’ve lost this interesting woman of colour, that there’s interesting woman in this position of power, which, sixty years ago — has it been sixty years? Whatever. 

Liz:  Fifty. Ish. 

Sam:  A lot of years. Fifty-ish years ago, the networks were so afraid of that that they literally replaced her. And I think it’s interesting to see where we go with that in 2019 — slash 2018, when they wrote it. And the way they treated Landry, and the way they treated Georgiou, and the way they’ve also treated other characters, like, what does that mean? I am cautiously optimistic for Number One, I guess, is what I’m saying. Because of Landry. 

Liz:  Yeah. Things change, and they also stay the same. 

And, like, I love that Michael is a character who has to work really hard for her successes, because that is the kind of story I respond to. But I’m also aware that she, as a woman of colour, is having to work much harder than the white male characters who preceded her. And like you said about colourblind casting, nothing happens outside of context. 

But I’m cautiously optimistic — no. There’s nothing cautious. I’m optimistic. 

Sam:  Well, that’s good. That’s great. I mean, I like Star Trek so much, even Enterprise, which I never finished watching.

Anika:  That’s okay. 

Sam:  But it’s Star Trek. And there’s just something about Star Trek that brings out the optimism, I think.

Anika:  I think that’s a good way of looking at it.

Liz:  Yeah. 

Anika:  I’m excited for season two. I’m excited for seeing more of Michael with her family. I’m just thrilled that — and I’m hoping that there’ll be less Michael having solitude suffering — how do I say this? Suffering alone, I guess that’s what I’m saying. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Anika:  I’m tired of seeing Michael isolated and suffering. It’s like, enough of that. So I’m hopeful that, now that she’s sort of back in good graces with Saru, and she has a really good relationship with Tilly, and now Spock’s coming back, and Sarek is there, it’s like, there’s going to be a lot of people around her — even Tyler comes back. So she’s going to have lots of different ways to have different relationships, and — you know, I’m sure they’re all going to be rocky in some way, but it won’t be about Michael being alone, it’ll be about Michael with people. 

Liz:  And even if there are elements who are not happy about her being reinstated and effectively redeemed, she still has a support network. 

Anika:  Yes. 

Liz:  She’s not going it alone anymore. 

Anika: And, honestly, I really hope she doesn’t have to suffer as much. I want someone else to suffer this season. 

Liz:  Yeah!

Sam:  I hope everybody doesn’t have to suffer as much.

Anika:  Yeah, it was really rough. 

Sam:  Season one was a real downer of a season. There was a lot of really interesting stuff in there, but the reason “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” is my favourite episode is because it was one that was actually fun, despite Lorca just dying a hundred thousand times.

Liz:  That was the fun part!

Sam:  Like, people got to have a party — yeah, that was the fun part. People got to have a party, Michael got to realise she had feelings for someone. The drama wasn’t all, like, “Oh, these people have been murdered. Oh, we’re at war.” It felt like an episode of Star Trek.

Liz:  See, I’m kind of a bad person, because I really want season two to be a bit lighter and happier, so then season three can torture everyone again? 

Sam:  Yeah, that’s fine. Balance.

Anika:  I’m concerned. As much as I don’t want there to be as much suffering, I also don’t want them to just be all better. Like, I don’t want them to be, like, “Oh, now we have to deal with the Red Angel, so we’re going to forget all of that happened.” No, that happened, and it’s still affecting you, even if you can’t tell. So can we maybe deal with it a little bit, instead of — I don’t want Ash to be back and Michael to be, “Yay, welcome back, let’s go have some french fries!” 

Sam:  Yeah. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Anika:  Let’s have a real conversation. Because they did that conversation so well, the one where she said, “You have to fix yourself, I can’t do it for you.” That was such an amazing–

Sam:  Which was great.

Anika:  –wonderful thing for her to be able to say, and I don’t want him to come back and be like, “I did it!” Like, no, no, no.

Liz:  I’m sure they won’t, but sometimes I feel like, if we express these worries, that means they won’t come true. That’s how it works, right? 

Sam:  Sure. You never know. Well, they’ve already done it, so. 

Anika:  I do have more faith, I just — that last episode, I really hate the last episode of the season. So I worry that they think that that’s their starting point, and I want the starting point to be the episode before. 

Sam:  Yeah. I agree.

Liz:  The people who wrote that episode were fired. 

Anika:  Yay?

Liz:  I think we’re okay. 

Sam:  Yeah. So I think — yeah, I imagine, if nothing else — although I don’t want it to be limited to only Georgiou’s storyline, I imagine she’s — she’s a constant reminder of everything that happened last year.

Anika:  That’s true.

Sam:  So I hope there are a ton of great — I mean, first off, Michelle Yeoh is really great in that role, like, chewing just the right amount of scenery, and really embracing being, like, that character. But any time she shows up, Michael will be reminded of — and Tilly will be reminded. Everyone — I don’t know who she’s going to interact with. It will be interesting — I really want a scene of Michael and Spock talking about what happened to Michael. 

Liz:  Yeah.

Sam:  Because Spock hasn’t really dealt — I mean, if we’re still in Pike-era Star Trek, which we are, Spock hasn’t really had a lot of trauma in his life. Other than being a half-human. And all of the things Michael has gone through, and talking to her brother about that, I’m really hoping for that kind of thing.

Anika:  I’m really hoping for that, too. And I’m interested in the — the fact that Sarek chose to put Spock into the Academy over Michael, but then Spock refused to go to the Academy. It’s like, that’s why Sarek has been so mad for thirty years, or whatever. It makes perfect sense now. Like, “Oh wow, you made that decision make — I love that, that you added that to it.” 

But now that Michael knows — and I don’t expect her to take it out on Spock, and I don’t expect her to tell Spock, but it will still affect it. And I find that interesting as well. Like, those are more threads that are really there, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be, at least, blowing in the wind, if not pulled. 

Liz:  This is not a family that talks about things, so I definitely don’t expect Michael to tell Spock about anything. But…

Sam:  Right.

Anika:  But it’s there, under the surface. And, as we have been saying, we bring it to it. So these are the things I will be thinking about while they’re talking. So I expect to see — for me to read a lot of subtext into it, even if it’s not actually there.

Liz:  Exactly.

Anika:  And I’m ready! 

Sam:  Yes. These are all the dots I’m gonna connect next year: Michael and Spock working through Michael’s stuff. If it doesn’t happen on screen, it’s gonna happen in my head. Tilly being sad about Landry. If it doesn’t happen on screen, it’s gonna–

Anika and Liz: [laughing]

Sam:  Now that they’re not worrying about the war anymore, that’s what I–

Liz:  They can take stock of their losses.

Sam:  She can be sad about it, and, like, whenever there’s a new security chief who’s installed, she can be like, “Ugh, you’re not Michael’s boyfriend and you’re not Landry, I don’t like you.” In a sort of Tilly way. That’s gonna be in my head when I’m watching all those episodes. 

Liz:  Well, now it’s gonna be in my head. So thanks. 

Anika:  We’re spreading it out into the universe.

Sam:  You’re welcome.

Liz:  Having brought us back to the subject of Landry, is this time to wrap up? 

Anika:  Yes. 

Sam:  Sure. 

Anika:  Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can in fact rate and review us on iTunes. But you cannot support us on Patreon or like us on Facebook. You can find us online at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media and credits for our theme music. 

Please send vaguely positive thoughts in our direction, and join us in two weeks, when we start our weekly discussions of Discovery’s second season.

Liz:  Which is gonna be challenging, because I will be at my sister’s house that weekend, and I don’t think my laptop is up to running Skype and Audacity at the same time. So…

Anika:  We’ll figure it out! 

Liz:  If I have to do it all on my phone, then we’ll make it work. 

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