In the Light of a Dead Sun

Share this Blog Post:

It was about midnight on a hot Brazilian summer’s night, and everyone had gone to bed. My fourteen-year-old self had been struck with a bout of insomnia and lingered on in the living room, trying to think of something to do. I could watch my nightly episode of the Original Series, couldn’t I? My fingers ran across the old box sets, as I tried to pick an episode I hadn’t watched in a while. I could go for an old favourite, maybe The Conscience of the King? Devil in the Dark

And then I saw that little box set I’d gotten for my birthday, “the best episodes of The Next Generation”. I hadn’t even opened it. My teenage self refused to stray away from my original crew, I didn’t need to watch another set of characters flying about the universe, or so I stubbornly thought. Every night I would watch Kirk and Spock and dream about travelling the stars, why should I do anything differently tonight?

With a sigh I picked up that box set and flipped it over. Yesterday’s Enterprise, Cause and Effect, The Inner Light… I noticed that last one had won an award for best sci-fi. I shrugged. Might as well, for a change.

I put on the DVD and sat in front of the telly, staring up at the screen. As the screen lit up I felt quite giddy, almost like a child watching a secret thing in the cover of night. Things felt familiar, yet different. The bridge was very different, of course (was that a wood panel?). “I like the old one better”, I said to myself, even as I felt a smile creeping in the corner of my lips.

And then I watched the episode. No more snide remarks to myself. I just sat in front of the television and became so completely enthralled by this strange and wonderful story. I remember it like yesterday. The cool breeze creeping through the window, and nothing but the distant chirping of crickets to distract me. It was just me and the story.

I suppose it was a funny first episode to watch. I didn’t know the first thing about these characters and was puzzled by that seemingly stern and cold Captain. But as I watched the story unfold in front of me, I realised I didn’t really need to know anything to enjoy it. This was a human story, a story about memory, yearning, time, and love. I’d eventually get to know Picard extremely well as I avidly watched The Next Generation, but I was getting to know a different Picard in this episode. He was someone who I instantly trusted and got to know just as the other characters on screen did. As I saw him change and age, I couldn’t help but compare his calm, yet powerful demeanour to Kirk’s vivacity, and yet nothing felt lacking. It was about twenty minutes in, when he picked up his Ressikan flute, that I knew I’d love this captain.

I don’t believe I need to sing the praises of such an excellent episode, as they are too many to list and much too difficult to put into words. All I know is that by the time the credits appeared as Picard played his flute, I had tears streaming down my face. As the music faded away and the living room was once again devoid of sound, I smiled to myself and thought “what a fool you’ve been!”. I continued to sit there in silence, enjoying the rhythmic hum of the crickets outside, thinking about all the wonderful stories I had yet to watch. I couldn’t just go to bed. And so, my romantic teenage self made a point of staring out the window at the stars. In the gloom of the night, the stars shone desperately bright, and I wondered if I was looking at the light of a dead sun, still reaching me through the millions of light-years. Before my drooping eyes forced me to go to bed, I recalled the flute melody and smiled once again. I felt like I had been up in the stars myself.

Whenever someone asks me now “what is your favourite Star Trek episode?” I can’t help but think of that night, so marked in my memory. Perhaps it was my stubbornness and resistance to anything “new” (even when the show had been out for thirty odd years) that made it so special. Perhaps it was a perfect storm, a wonderful story in an eerie night. But that night also reminds me of how Star Trek has the power to transport me fully into different worlds, given the chance. The Inner Light and that lonely, silent night will always go together in my mind, and will always be my favourite Trek.

Picture of Annie

Annie

Quite uncontrollably obsessed with Doctor Who. Self-appointed president of the Vislor Turlough fan club. She/Her, 25. I talk about Star Trek on
@twoboldlygopod

Follow Me On Twitter
We use cookies to improve your experience on our site. By using our site you consent to our cookie policy.