Toccata and Fugue
Original Premiere: March 16, 2004
Normally, I don’t feel I have the justify the episode titles, since they are (for the most part) self explanatory, but this is one case where some explanation is probably required. The title comes from a fairly well known piece of music called Toccata and Fugue in D Minor written by Johannes Bach (it actually comes from the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within soundtrack, but I assume they got the title from Bach). Now, since Xi'Yor is a musically inclined individual, episodes that focus upon him usually have a title of a musical nature (“Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” and “Aria of Sorrows” both come to mind). Now, to the best of my understanding, a toccata is a composition for a keyboard instrument written in a free style that is intended to show off a player’s technique… And a fugue is a musical form where a theme is stated and repeated and varied and all that good stuff. Technically speaking, this episode has absolutely nothing to do with toccatas and fugues—but one can rationalize that Xi'Yor’s theme is one of deceit and treachery—and that this episode is designed to show off the technique (and the technique’s variations with Talyere and Va’kyr… hey, that rhymes… Talyere and Va’kyr…). So, why bother with all this rationalization? Why just not name the episode something else? Well, that, at least, is an easy question to answer: “Toccata and Fugue” just sounds cool.
Not only does this episode have an interesting title, its origins are also rather unique. Twenty years ago, when I was a wee child, there was an episode of Voltron: Defender of the Universe called “Zarkon is Dying.” In it, King Zarkon pretends to fall ill so he can test the loyalty of his son, Prince Lotor. Meanwhile, Robeasts are giving Voltron all sorts of trouble. It was really a very good episode—because twenty years later, I still remember it. Thus, when the struggle for domination of the Elorg Bloc began to unfold, it didn’t take much for me to realize TFF needed its own version of “Zarkon is Dying.” Thus, “Toccata and Fugue” was born. Of course, to pay homage to the Voltron episode, I deftly inserted the character Doctor Kharzon… an anagram for the evil King Zarkon himself—though I did manage to throw an extra “H” in there for some reason…
Thankfully, “Zarkon is Dying” was a little thin on plot—because I had a lot of terrain to cover in this episode. First and foremost, a lot of people were not pleased with the previous episode, “In Memoriam.” Nobody that complained was very specific about what went wrong, so I have to guess about the episode’s shortcomings—the biggest of which was probably the plot. “In Memoriam” was a fusion of two episodes: “Screams of Armageddon” and “In Memoriam” itself. I hadn’t been able to finish “Armageddon” on time, so instead of posting the episode late, I decided to take that episode’s remains and toss them into “In Memoriam.” Unfortunately, that really short-changed “In Memoriam” in the plot department, so the episode essentially became a bunch of related scenes… that didn’t necessarily constitute a plot. And I won’t even waste time talking about Neelar’s subplot. Blech.
Still, crappy or not, “In Memoriam” was a necessary episode. You can’t have a major attack without dealing with the emotional consequences. Well, you can, because Enterprise pretty much did that… (Archer got pissed off, Trip got to bed T’Pol, and there was a flock of sea gulls (that apparently crapped on those MACO uniforms). That doesn’t cut it, in my opinion.) So while I had to deal with those emotional consequences… it probably could have been a little more interesting.
Thus, “Toccata and Fugue” had to be a better episode. It also had to make sense of the Elorg plot; the problem with writing long, drawn-out stories is that the details get spread out over the course of several episodes—and minor ones tend to get lost altogether (how many of you honestly remembered Xi'Yor’s illness from “A Touch of Darkness”?). “Toccata” was my attempt to bring all of those plot-threads back to the table and solidify them so we know who is doing what and why. Additionally, as is usually desirable in any story, the plot had to move forward—but since many people expressed a desire to hear about the Elorg’s past history… I had to delve into the past while moving the plot forward. So there was definitely a lot to accomplish, and thankfully it worked.
Many TFF readers have also noticed something peculiar… they have been turning up as members of the Starlight’s crew. And it is true. Any reader that has ever contacted me via email (enough times for me to remember him/her), or is a member of the Update List will undoubtedly find his or her name mentioned in TFF at some point. The primary reason I started doing this was as a little thank-you to the fans… but the secondary reason was just as viable—I hate coming up with names… so instead of wasting hours trying to come up a minor crewmember’s name, I thought it would be a lot easier to simply pull those names from the Update List. And don’t worry, if you’re name hasn’t appeared yet, give me time; there are lots of people on that list, and lots of episodes left (unless, of course, you’re reading this after TFF has ended, in which case, there aren’t any episodes left, and you probably won’t be making an appearance).
And Alan’s little dilemma in this episode—his lack of a comeback to Ryan Landsberg’s insults. Can I ever sympathize. Sometimes I’ll be laying in bed six days after being insulted and then it hits me… “Damn it! That’s what I should have said!” Alan was going have such a scene (it was supposed to be right after his last log entry), but… considering the dark tone of that chapter, the humor wouldn’t have fit. So the scene, sadly, was dropped.
There were a few other in-jokes in the episode, most notably Landsberg’s comment about the bull’s eye on the Starlight’s hull. Anyone who has ever spoken to me about the Dominion War has undoubtedly heard my Akira-rant. EVERY time the Federation fleet went into battle, those poor Akiras were the first ones to go. And “The Tears of the Prophets” [DS9] was a particularly traumatic episode, since it prominently featured the demise of TWO Akiras. Aghahad @#!@%** @#@!!!!!!!! Those were troubling times.