Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S07E08 – Attached

In the eighth episode of the seventh season of The Next Generation, I CAN’T DO THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

What a monumental, beautifully written episode.

Let’s talk about shipping, my friends. If you go back through the Mark Reads / Mark Watches archives (and there is indeed a lot that I’ve written), you’ll see that I wasn’t much of a shipper when Mark Does Stuff began. It just wasn’t something I did? Of course, in hindsight, I think I was one, and I did it all the time with media. I just seemed to think it described a different behavior than what I was doing. I mean, I was a Mulder/Scully and Mulder/Krycek shipper back when I was a wee X-Phile. I just didn’t understand that I was.

Truthfully, it wasn’t until the last few years or so that I came to appreciate romance in fiction. It just always rubbed me the wrong way, and I think that I can blame a lot of that on the fact that as someone who spent all his formative years in the closest, I resented the fact that I was not allowed to experience it. I also had very little experience with falling in love, since most of what I’d gone through wasn’t reciprocated or was infatuation. That’s changed, but I don’t want this to come off as some sort of endorsement of romantic plots as inherently relatable to everyone because that’s certainly not the case. (Oh, where are all the aromantic relationships? GIVE THEM TO ME.) I just want to explain how I came around personally to accepting how I engage with relationships in fiction.

Now, it’s no surprise that I’ve been quietly shipping Beverly and Picard for practically this whole show, but I long ago abandoned any sort of canon confirmation or explanation of that. The show didn’t follow up on it, and it wasn’t the only thing that never got touched during seven seasons of this show. At the same time, while I want to address how exciting it was to have this episode explore these two, I don’t think that’s necessary to help explain why it’s just a great story. Through a very common trope that I’ve seen in a BILLION FANFICS, Beverly and Jean-Luc are unable to lie to one another. The nature of the implants that the Prytt give them allows them to telepathically convey their inner thoughts to one another. Thus, stuck in a desperate and thrilling conundrum, they begin to open up more and more to one another.

There’s a subplot that explains all of this, and while it’s certainly fun to see Riker set Mauric and Lorin against one another to prove his point, I admit that all I really cared about was seeing Beverly and Jean-Luc interact. They’re just such fantastic actors, and I feel like the chemistry between them is undeniable. It has been since the start of the show! That makes the events in “Attached” a long time coming, so even if you don’t ship these two, there’s a precedence for this relationship to exist.

Initially, most of this concept is used for humor; Jean-Luc and Beverly poke fun at one another and learn about how their thought processes manifest in the real-world. Even without the romance? I found this incredibly compelling to watch. That’s especially the case for the examination of private thoughts versus public actions. Why do we choose to censor our thoughts? In which contexts do we open up? What does that say about ourselves? Beverly knows that she’s hurt people with her witty comments before, even when she didn’t intend to, and thus, she filters her thoughts more rigorously than she used to.

However, these two can no longer do that, and it’s only a matter of time before their conversation unearths the unspoken (but obvious) attraction they have for one another. I sat there in shock as I watched them talk about how they felt about each other. Was this really happening? Would I discover that this was all some sort of dream that the Prytt forced upon them? HOW WAS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?

Gods, I could watch that scene by the fire a million times in a row. It’s so satisfying. It’s so honest. The honesty here is what kills me. Picard admits to falling for Beverly WHILE SHE WAS STILL MARRIED. He admits to backing off her out of guilt and shame! And the two of them stare at each other, and you can see the gleam in their eyes because they both care and respect for their friend SO MUCH.

So it seemed possible and natural for these two to finally consider a possible romantic future with one another. They were inseparable – literally and figuratively so. Would it be challenging? Difficult? A constant work in progress? Of course it would! In that sense, I both hate and love the ending of this episode. It feels like it’s tacked on so that the show can reset its characters as they’ve always done with the majority of those who’ve nearly gotten character development before. It almost makes no sense at all, and that’s infuriating. At the same time, this episode was about honesty. When these two no longer had any walls between them, what would they do? I find it refreshing that even though the temptation was strong, Beverly errs on the side of caution. She worries about what the implications of these feelings might be.

Ultimately, I think this would be as close to flawless without that ending. Even if Beverly is being honest, it doesn’t feel like it’s written with honesty in mind. It feels like a chance for the writers to dart away from what they set up.

The video for “Attached” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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