Season 5, Episode 14 “The Game” (TNG) with Catherynne M. Valente

Pull on your worst sweater and get ready to save the day again as we play “The Game”!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente returns to the show this week to discuss an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that gives the Wesley Crusher we didn’t know we wanted. A new pleasure-inducing video game is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite shipboard pastime. But when the game is revealed to be a sinister plot to take over the Federation, Wesley and Robin will have to outwit the adults take back the ship!

Wesley Crusher may be everyone’s favorite Trek punching bag, but in reality he’s one of the franchise’s most interesting characters. For a show that’s all about going boldly, we meet him at an age of uncertainty and fear and we see him grow into a character with his own self-created sense of moral integrity. He’s someone with all the gifts of the Federation’s best citizens, and yet he bravely rejects the path that he seems destined to take, military service for an organization whose values he questions.. I mean, how many genius Trek characters drop out of college to cruise the galaxy with their laid-back alien mentor? On this episode, we talk about what’s behind Wesley hate, the way Wesley bridged the gap between child and adult viewers in TNG’s early days, the idea of Wesley as Gene’s avatar in Trek, the strangely Puritan morals on display in the episode, the way that Trek tries to push against Roddenberry’s original mission statement, and the joy that is Robin Lefler.

We also discuss dealing with your problematic faves, putting video games on trial, LESLIE Crusher, the “big gets” for early TNG, a gamut of “O faces”, synthaheroin, magical realism, being horny for chocolate, the persistence of Sadie Hawkins, “Stay dorky, stay alive”, fooling the censors with sci-fi, Trek’s obsession with having a 9/11, post-bang levels of intimacy, some Picard talk, some Pike talk, a Eurovision update, the Hugos controversy 2020 edition, somehow even MORE Mass Effect talk, and Prester John, too!

Thanks to Cat’s Star Trek-loving brother for choosing this episode!

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Listen to “Season 5, Episode 14 “The Game” (TNG) with Catherynne M. Valente” on Spreaker.

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