Star Trek

Steven Rainey indulges his inner nerd with Star Trek's most controversial episode

A chance to indulge one’s inner nerd and enjoy the treat of watching something forbidden, the Black Box screening of 'The Higher Ground' shows an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which was deemed too controversial to be screened first time around.

A thinly-veiled allegory concerning a group of people who have been pushed into acts of violent terrorism against a security force imported from another country, the reason we’ve not had the chance to see this episode on terrestrial television is because of one small reference to the unification of Ireland in 2024.

One might consider this an over-reaction, but then again, perhaps some of our politicians would disagree.

Imagine my surprise, approaching the Black Box and discovering a queue that stretched around the block.

I had never even imagined that there would be that many Star Trek fans in Belfast. Or perhaps the lure of the forbidden was enough of an enticement.

I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed upon discovering that the queue was actually for Richard Herring, performing that evening.

The tone for the event is set at the very beginning when the episode starts with Captain Picard’s pensive narration being delivered in German.

A quick jaunt back to the DVD sound options and we we're ready to go.

One could be forgiven for imagining that the audience would have been made up of die-hard fans, all dolled up in uniform, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

Enjoying the action was a wide spread of people - the fans, the curious, and those in search of a laugh, more than willing to go where no audience has gone before.

To say that very few people were taking this event entirely seriously would be an understatement.

'The Higher Ground' has not aged well, and much of the sentiment now comes off as very heavy-handed and cloying.

If anything, this only added to the enjoyment of the screening, with the mention of the Unification in Ireland getting a particularly hearty laugh.

By the time the episode had ended we were all in stitches, the atmosphere electric.

I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that everyone had gotten something out of this event.

The amount of, shall we say, audience participation will remain a highlight of the festival in my mind, reinforcing exactly why this festival could only happen in Belfast.

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