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Feb 10 2012

Author’s Commentary: Milk Run

I’m going to start with Milk Run, because to me, this is the real beginning of the series.  Milk Run represents the first episode after the novella-length ‘pilot,’ Damn the Torpedoes! Parts I, II, and III.   It’s also the first episode where we get to know the entire crew and not just the Leone-loyal team of Ariel, Wilson, Sovera, and Greg.  Petra is very much the outsider, still, but I think she comes into her own later on in the season.

Milk Run’s title comes from a novella written by Christopher Stasheff, that was the ‘prologue’ to William R. Forstchen‘s End Run within the Wing Commander book series.  That is the extent of similarity, as my Milk Run and Stasheff’s Milk Run are completely different stories.

In Damn the Torpedoes!, we got to know Leone’s command style a great deal.  She’s casual, she’s more about the result than the means.  She’s nearly Captain Picard’s antithesis.  A maverick captain in command of a ship that could nearly rival the might of Enterprise-D.  While she was off gallivanting in the Beta Quadrant, she was literally on her own and looked no further than the pips on her uniform for a higher authority.  In Milk Run, however, I knew it was going to be a little more difficult because her actions in the Beta Quadrant had to be reviewed to discover if any charges should be brought against her for putting the Federation in the middle of a war thirty thousand light-years away.

In addition to that, we meet Jesse Kincaid.  Kincaid is almost Agamemnon‘s Richard Hunter in disguise.  Almost.  While they’re cut from the same cloth, for sure, Kincaid’s background is a little less prideful.  His previous assignment on the Valdemar under a very strict captain leaves him with a sense of duty and discipline that acts as a foil toward Leone’s infectious method of conducting business aboard a Starfleet vessel.  What I was attempting to convey with Kincaid was his need to established his authority as an extension of Leone’s.  And what I ended up with was a guy who was desperately trying to find something about Leone that he could respect enough to believe that he had some authority.  Poor guy.  In the end, though, I realized that in writing Kincaid as a strict guy, I also might’ve removed any semblance of likability from the reader.  So, I softened him a little bit; rationalizing that as the new executive officer, he has to be the whip of the captain’s policies.  Therefore, if she determines that she’s running her ship a certain way, his whip-crack has to match that tone (so to speak).  There’s a moment of capitulation in the act four of the episode that I hoped demonstrated his willingness to join the circus.

Abigail Atherton is a treat to write.  She’s a sharp-witted, very savvy young officer who’s primary function is to frustrate the unholy hell out of Greg Aspinall (which we’ll see more of in later episodes).  Her character profile is a cross between a hard-hitting assistant district attorney and a science geek.  Although you don’t really see that too much in this episode, from her I felt a severe lack of her everyday surefooted stance in her career.  And this is all owed to the presence of the full Betazoid counselor, Isira Otex.  Abbie’s tenure on Farragut is going to be very interesting as she grows.

I’ll be honest and say that I dislike writing Betazoids.  For a while, there, I actually had Isira as a human, but then I realized that there were a few plots that required someone with telepathy later in the series and so I gave in and broke my own rule.  Isira is nothing like Deanna Troi, though.  She has the full telepathic range of a formidable Betazoid (much like Lwaxana Troi), but she’s pushing the Starfleet physical fitness requirements for someone of her size.  She’s definitely a plus-sized girl, looking to explore the universe.  In my casting post (in this board) I envisioned Merritt Weaver (from Studio 60) in the role; a very pretty young lady with a little more meat on her bones than the average stick figure you might find on television these days (Callista Flockheart).  I’m hoping to find her a more substantial role in the future, but for now she’s in a minor supporting role.

Let’s see, who else made their debut in this episode… ah, Tricia Hargreaves.  Yes, what a total bitch she is, but there’s more to her than simply being a head-on antagonist.  She has a legitimate gripe (in her eyes) toward taking Leone down.  This won’t be the last we’ll see of her.

Originally written at the United Trek forums.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the disinclination to write Betazoid characters. They can be a little deus ex machina in some respects. The other thing I think about them is that as fully telepathic would/should make them a whole lot more alien in terms of how they relate to others and how they conduct themselves. Seems to me, that to be fully telepathic is to have a great power very easily open to abuse and indeed very easily misused purposefully or accidentally and possibly damaging to all parties.

    And Hargreaves IS a bitch. She just gets under the skin. My compliments on making her so.

    • For the most part, I think the biggest hurdle for Isira in context to FSA is that a lot of people are going to be apprehensive around her.  Imagine if suddenly you were working with a co-worker who could read your thoughts?  I always wondered why everyone on Enterprise was suddenly so accepting of having an empath walk among them.