Original Premiere: June 17, 2005
Yes, that is my opinion of this episode. A firm and resounding “UGH.” Because, like I have said in about half of all the other commentaries, this episode was HELL to write. Indeed, the entire final chapter has been difficult, but this episode embodied everything that drove me nuts about The Final Frontier’s closing moments. The episode went through no less than four complete drafts, two complete and total re-writes, and I probably pulled out half of my hair in the process. Eh… well, that last bit is probably an exaggeration.
The biggest problem was, of course, finding the episode. This is essentially the penultimate episode in a string of ten. And over the course of those ten episodes, so many plot threads emerged that, at times, it became to difficult to tame the unruly story—and even more difficult to find an actual story. So much was going on that I could have devoted entire episodes to just explaining what the hell was happening—indeed “Eclipse” did a lot of that. The episode itself wasn’t much of a story, but it had a lot of explaining to do. And it was a necessary evil, because if readers don’t know what’s happening, well… that is, in general, bad. “Words Better Left Unspoken” could have very easily become another exposition episode, because I had a LOT of stuff to explain. Indeed, the second draft of the episode featured so much exposition that it became utterly boring and not even I could write the episode. I doubt you could have read it without falling asleep in a puddle of drool on your keyboard—but then your keyboard would have broke and you couldn’t flame me for writing that pile of crap! Yay!
Hoping to find an actual story to serve as the episode’s backbone, I decided to throw in this anomaly-subplot. Yes, the Starlight was going to encounter another spatial anomaly. On some levels, it worked, because it did give the episode a backbone. On most other levels, however, it didn’t work—because we have seen a dozen spatial anomalies this year alone, because we didn’t need an anomaly to complicate an already complicated plot, and because the episode was so damn long that I’d still be writing it. So I lost the anomaly… and was left with the boring expository episode once again. So I brought the anomaly BACK, and got rid of Talyere… I figured I could use his scenes in the next episode. But unfortunately, Talyere had some of the best scenes in the episode. Indeed, that last scene with Talyere and Alan was one of the best the episode had to offer—and the episode suffered even MORE because that scene was gone and the anomaly was in…
So I threw out the anomaly—it was a good one, too… something like a subspace tar pit. All these ships unwittingly get stuck in the anomaly, just like animals got stuck in tar pits back in the day—and then I brought back Talyere. Of course, that brought back… the expository episode! For a while, I concentrated on Erin seeking out Kendall’s treachery, but not even that was very interesting (though it worked with the anomaly plot). I don’t know what happened, but at some point, I had four episodes-worth of crap written, and not enough interesting material to make ONE episode. And the stuff that I did have was all over the board. I had Xi'Yor get killed at one point… I had the Romulans stealing Eredas-Il and turning against the Federation (because Eredas-Il was not entirely destroyed in some versions of the episode) … I was tossing around so many ideas, it was insane!
Still, I combed through the stuff that I did have, salvaged the decent material, and copied/pasted my way to success. So if parts of the episode seem a little disjointed… that’s why. I culled this thing from four separate ideas. Strangely enough, the final version of the episode turned out pretty good. I did go back and augment several plot threads—I expanded Xi'Yor’s role in the story… and I wisely chose to include Ordikan’s plot. Yes… none of the original four versions of this episode included Ordikan. I always wanted him to come back—but it was going to be a big surprise in the final episode. Too bad!
And much like “The Oracle of Ages,” people were awed by the plotting wonders that led to Megan Reinbold’s death. Though this wasn’t nearly as intricate as the long series of events that led up to “Oracle,” I did prophecy Reinbold’s death over a year ago, with Talyere’s vision in “Screams of Armageddon.” Does this mean that I am the chi-goehs? Hmm… Anyway, people took to Megan’s demise fairly well—mainly because, in retrospect, it might have been a mistake to bring her aboard in the first place. Technically speaking, she didn’t have anything to do aboard the Starlight. But Justin, I think, justified her inclusion in the series, so it wasn’t a total loss. I don’t hear a lot about Justin, but I certainly like him; teenagers in Star Trek have been constantly portrayed as complete and utter dorks (maybe the creators are appealing to the fan base? J). Jake Sisko was an exception to the rule, but even he was a goody-goody. So Justin was my attempt to make a “cool” Star Trek teenager. So even if Megan Reinbold didn’t work out as a character, her son certainly did.
Now, I know some people might question Xi'Yor’s lack of vigilance when it comes to killing Talyere in this episode. Suffocation is certainly not the most effective means of eliminating someone—especially if you are an Elorg Overseer and that special someone is your most hated nemesis. But I didn’t want to keep Talyere dead for very long. After all, he did have to get out for his scenes later in the episode. Plus, we can theorize that Xi'Yor and Dra’venn didn’t have any other weapons available to them. After all, Talyere and Xi'Yor fought a hand-to-hand battle on Rebena Te Ra—and Xi'Yor left his weapon inside Megan’s abdomen. And all of the phasers aboard the raider… were damaged. Bah. Okay, maybe not. Maybe Dra’venn is stupid? Maybe he was getting creative? Maybe he’s a traitor and wanted Talyere to live? Maybe I shouldn’t have had Talyere get abducted in “Horn and Ivory”? The truth might never be known…
And Bator. I know I’m going to hear about him. But I’m saving that commentary for the next episode. The final episode! Five years in the making! It’s almost over! I can hardly wait!