avery brooks, chrysalis, deep space nine, embracing beauty, jay chattaway, robert picardo, seven of nine, Star Trek, the doctor, the inner light, the next generation, the visitor, the wrath of khan, tony todd, voyager
Star Trek has been one of my favorite shows for many, many years. I have to admit, I was never so crazy about the original series, but I loved the movies, and nearly every incarnation of Trek that has come since.
One of the powerful things about the various television series was that you spent so many years with the characters that you felt like you really came to know them. And with dozens and dozens of episodes, the writers had plenty of time to develop the characters and give them moments to shine.
But what does Star Trek have to do with embracing beauty? Because every now and then – in the midst of this ongoing mission to seek out new life and new civilizations – moments of tenderness and beauty take you by surprise.
For today’s examination of beauty, I want to single out a few scenes from some of my favorite episodes that are, well, beautiful.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, The Inner Light, an episode widely considered to be one of the best TNG episodes, Captain Picard is struck by an energy beam from an alien probe, and while only a few minutes pass for his crew on the Enterprise, Picard seems to live for decades in the probe. Over the years he is unconscious, Picard learns how to play a flute, has a family, grows old, and dies.
The probe, we find, is actually from a long-dead civilization that keeps its memory alive by capturing other species and having them live a life within that civilization. When Picard finally regains consciousness back on the Enterprise, he retains all of the memories of that lifetime, but feels lost in what should be his own life.
It’s an emotional and perplexing time for Picard as he has to relearn everything he’d forgotten in the decades he’d been “gone”. When Riker brings him a flute found within the probe, it is the only thing that is still familiar to him. The haunting song Picard plays in this episode is called “The Inner Light”, and it was composed by Jay Chattaway.
Chattaway went on to compose an entire orchestral suite based on this tune, called “Orchestral Suite From The Inner Light”, which I present as a companion piece.
The flute and the tune made a reappearance in another episode of TNG, The Lesson, in which Picard falls in love with a Lt. Commander pianist stellar cartographer, and the two bond over music in the 4th intersect of Jefferies tube 25.
Of all the scenes in TNG that could have stood out to me, this one always has stood out the most. In fact, since watching this episode, I have always made it a point to find the most acoustically perfect spot in any building in which I’ve lived, so that I could play my own tin whistle, just like JLP.
Turning from TNG to my favorite series in the Star Trek universe, Deep Space Nine, we have several beautiful scenes from which we can choose. My favorite doesn’t involve the cast regulars, but the quartet of genetically enhanced individuals who appear on a couple of episodes of the show.
In the episode Chrysalis, Sarina is a genetically enhanced woman who is unable to speak or act or do much of anything. But Dr. Bashir operates on her, essentially waking her from her slumber. Sarina then begins to explore what it is like to be alive. This scene is another one of my favorites, as Sarina’s friends help her to explore her musical abilities.
As beautiful as that was, the real beauty in DS9 came through the relationships of the main cast. Especially, I would argue, with Captain Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake. In The Visitor, one of DS9’s most powerful episodes, an accident on the Defiant causes Captain Sisko to vanish. Years later when Jake grows up, his father seems to return for brief moments, and it turns out that he is trapped in subspace. Jake then focuses the rest of his life in search of a way to reunite with his Dad. When he finally figures out how to free Sisko, Jake is an old man who has lived most of his life without a father.
The scene has some tremendous acting by veteran actor Tony Todd and Avery Brooks, and it is truly beautiful.
For my final example of beauty in Star Trek, I will move on to the series I’m currently working my way through, Star Trek: Voyager. Voyager also has some nice moments, although the show never quite captured me the way DS9 or TNG did. Many of of the nice moments seem to revolve around the acting of Robert Picardo, who played The Doctor, the Emergency Medical Hologram.
In Someone To Watch Over Me, the Doctor is helping Seven of Nine learn how to properly interact with the other crew members, specifically in the realm of romance. As he’s coaching her, The Doctor realizes that Seven has a lovely singing voice, and then the two sing a little duet.
I’m sure there are many more scenes from the various incarnations of Trek which would qualify as beautiful, and if you would like to suggest a scene in the comment section, I’ll gladly expand my examples here. Just describe the scene, or better yet, provide a youtube link so that I can post it.
Meanwhile, I’ll end this with one of the most moving and beautiful scenes in the history of Star Trek. Ah, those pipes…
Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.
Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to include it!