Twilight of the Gods (…And “The Odyssey” Arc in General)
Original Premiere: April 01, 2003
This episode was supposed to be the conclusion of the most mind-blowing, epic adventure in TFF history. And in many ways, it was. When the previous episode, “Infinity,” posed questions about the edge of the universe, we were treading some very contemplative, very high-concept ground. Though very few people actually stop to consider it, the edge of the universe is probably one of the most mind-boggling subjects known to exist. Is there an edge of the universe? If so, what is beyond that edge? This string of episodes really made readers think about all the different possibilities—and without a doubt, that is my favorite kind of episode… because at that point, I’m not just providing mindless entertainment—it suddenly becomes mind-expanding entertainment. And with Yelss, Drusari, and countless other nemeses to fight, that mind-expanding was definitely entertaining. But… despite all of that, this story arc should have been something more.
Originally, this was supposed to be an incredible space opera. I started planting the seeds for it early—the very first mention of the Zhargosia Sector came in episode 25, allowing for an incredible 52 episodes of buildup. Unfortunately, I forgot to plant all of the seeds, and in the end, that really hurt the arc. Originally, the Drusari were supposed to find Voyager 2—they just happened to intercept it with one of their subspace sinkholes. Intrigued by this discovery, the Drusari started to explore the universe in search of Earth… but then one of their operatives gets killed on Earth, and the Drusari decide it’s not such a great place after all. So they start working to reach the Milky Way using the elaborate wormhole getup we saw throughout this story arc. Unfortunately, I forgot to write that particular episode, and the entire storyline got screwed up. So I had this buildup of ships in the Zhargosia Sector and no way to explain it. To compensate, I started to weave other threads into the story, including Xi'Yor and the Yelss and just about every other loose end I could think of. Unfortunately, while the Yelss plot worked wonders for their particular storyline, Xi'Yor’s thread wasn’t going anywhere fast. In fact, I didn’t know what to do with him, so instead of something incredibly elaborate, I deftly guided the good Overseer back to the Elorg Bloc where he belonged. Naturally, the other plot thread that seemed to suffer was the Drusari plot itself. Without that link to Earth and the Federation, the threat they posed was really, really distanced; and while the Drusari provided some great battle sequences in “In the Heart of Darkness” and “Twilight of the Gods,” that was the extent of it. Tracker Melas’ threats seemed quite empty, and while he insisted the Ghaib and the Drusari would return—I’m reasonably certain they will not.
Another storyline that is threaded throughout the entire arc is the Starlight’s quest for allies and resources in the Zukara Segment—and in the process, they come upon General Kron and his… “kronies.” Hahah… This whole thing was partially inspired by the excellent Voyager episode “The Void,” which featured Janeway and friends in a similar circumstance—but the driving force behind the plot was the movie “Dinosaur.” On the surface, it might seem like a kiddie movie (with talking dinosaurs and all that), but once you peer beneath the surface, you really see some nice character arcs—like Bruton’s fall from grace. In the beginning, he’s the biggest proponent of Kron’s philosophy: Only the strong survive… But after a chance encounter with the enemy, the tables are suddenly turned. Kron leaves Bruton behind because he’s weak, and Bruton really has to stop and think about what he’s doing… What’s more important? Seeing that the strong survive, and ensuring the safety of some—or taking risks to ensure the safety of everyone? Bruton eventually sees the light, but… Kron’s inflexibility gets him killed. And I love that kind of stuff.
This story arc also saw a lot of death. Erin died. Jayla died. Kendall died. Hapless Lieutenant died… Of course, all of them were resurrected, but still, that was a lot of carking (an excellent euphemism for death, I might add… cark… Those Aussies… J). At first, the deaths were merely put in there for shock value. People were extremely concerned when Erin turned up dead in the end of “The Odyssey, part II.” Thankfully, readers were a bit more forgiving this time around—if you’ll recall, fans raised 53 kinds of hell when Rachael Meyer fell over dead in “Meridian Dance.” This time, however, they must have seen my vision—because while everyone was definitely concerned, they seemed much more willing to follow me through to the conclusion of this one. I guess they trusted me to guide them through it—and I hope I didn’t let anyone down… And while the vast majority of these deaths were intended for shock value, one of them meant a lot more—Kendall Johnson’s. It was more of a reflection on his character than a shock… While Kendall has obviously made great strides in recent years, “Twilight of the Gods” clearly demonstrates that if things start looking bad, he’d rather walk away than deal with it. While the implications of this weren’t explored very much in season four, this thread will definitely pick up steam during TFF’s final year, forcing leading Kendall to confront his greatest fears.
As was mentioned in the “Sodom and Gomorrah” commentary, a lot of the aliens appearing throughout this arc find their inspirations back with the dinosaurs. While a lot of the characters, such as Kron and Bruton took their roots from their Dinosaur counterparts (the Iguanodon), most of the other characters had to be created from scratch. Thus, I sorted through my many resources and picked out the most interesting species; I figured this was a refreshing change of pace from Michael Westmore’s approach—which is to use living animals as a starting point (this is, of course, not intended to slight Mr. Westmore. He does some excellent work, there’s no doubt about that. Gotta love those Jem’Hadar!). In fact, my method was very much the same… Amongst the candidates were the Corthysaurus (Corthyan), Velociraptor (Mandroth), and Gastornis (Ghaib). The Drusari themselves were partially inspired by the Bal’rog from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” I mean, if there was ever an awesome creature, that was it. There’s nothing more ominous that a Bal’rog. Originally, the Drusari were supposed to be 50 feet tall with massive, behemoth ships. I don’t think that idea exactly came across in the episode, but it was defiantly intended. Those guys were BIG!
And then, of course, there was the good old Anid’akeirus, that loveable little guy with tentacles and detachable eyeballs… Over the years, Star Trek has had a severe dearth in exotic aliens. Aside from Species 8472 and the Horta, very few other aliens come to mind—though I must admit, Enterprise has done a decent job with the Xindi—both the Insectoids and the Aquatics are a breath of fresh air (even if the Aquatics can’t really do anything). Oh, and those aliens from “Silent Enemy” were also awesome! But I digress. Anid’akeirus… While he was reasonably humanoid, he was also downright gross. Anid’akeirus, that is. Gross. Based upon both LOTR’s Gollum and Babylon 5’s Zathras, he was a delightful character to write for—and his odd speech pattern was also a hoot. I wish I could have found something more for him to do—but alas, no such luck. Maybe he’ll return in season five?
And finally, there were a fair amount of in-jokes scattered throughout these six episodes. From the incredibly obvious (Captain Sheridan, anyone?) to the incredibly obscure (sugar bombs, Lab 16), I went out of my way to pay homage to… a few of my favorite things (not that I’m a big fan of “The Sound of Music,” but how could I pass that one up?). Here is a list of all my favorite in jokes:
In “The Odyssey, part I,” the Odyssey is moving to intercept the Voyager 2 probe. And this joke is an obvious one. Voyager 2 was an actual probe launched by NASA in the late 1970’s to explore the outer portions of the Sol System. And unlike modern NASA probes (the cheap, inexpensive ones they send to Mars), this one actually completed its mission without some sort of critical failure. It is conceivable that, by the year 2167, Voyager 2 will be well on its way to interstellar space for the Odyssey to capture.
And speaking of the Odyssey, it was crewed by quite an eclectic group of explorers. Captain John Sheridan, Commander Sinclair, and Lieutenant Franklin can all be tied back to Babylon 5, while Subcommander Vasar has a striking resemblance to Enterprise’s T’Pol. This ship has undoubtedly intersected more than one interspatial distortion.
While investigating the probe’s destruction in “The Odyssey, part I,” Commander Harrison has the computer replay the sensor data from time index 9-2-4. In Star Trek: Generations, Lursa and B’Etor find the Enterprise’s shield frequency by replaying Geordi’s visual feedback from time index 9-2-4.
The USS Khitomer met its unfortunate demise whilst charting the Anar’qand System in the first half of “The Odyssey.” Thankfully, its intrepid crew lives on in some parallel universe called Star Trek: Khitomer—a fan fiction series written by legendary “Sacrifice of Innocents” author Pete Tzinksi (who loves it when you remind him of that smoldering pile of dung… Though let’s get one thing straight—the small amount of Khitomer that exists is actually quite good).
And speaking of the Khitomer, it was blown to smithereens in the Anar’qand System, a far-flung region of space near the Zhargosia Sector. In Final Fantasy X, after a sultry, moonlit make-out session, Tidus decides to accompany Yuna to Zanarkand. Tidus says that he intends to help Yuna, but we all know he was just looking for a little nookie.
Harrison was caught reading The Return of the King in his quarters in “The Odyssey, part I.” This is undoubtedly the third and final chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
While trapped in a small, sultry corridor aboard a Ghaib vessel, Talyere speculates that the experience is akin to being in kel’thuzad, the Elorg equivalent of hell. And it’s an appropriate analogy, because Kel’Thuzad is an Undead servant of the Lich King in “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.”
As was mentioned earlier, both Kron and Bruton were inspired by the movie Dinosaur. Reena, the tactical officer on Bruton’s ship was an anagram of Neera, Kron’s sister.
In “The Odyssey, part II,” Captain Christopher makes a quip about not wanting to steal a transwarp coil from a Borg ship. Apparently, he’s not quite as intrepid as our beloved Captain Janeway—because she did just that in the VGR episode “Dark Frontier.”
When he awakens aboard the Yelss vessel in the second part of “The Odyssey,” Lucas Tompkins is greeted by an enigmatic alien called Setzer Umari. In Final Fantasy VI, Setzer Umaro is one of the many individuals who avail themselves to your noble quest—which, of course, is to stop that insane SOB, Khefka.
Also in “The Odyssey, part II,” Talyere mentions that Tantari-class vessels are a part of the Elorg fleet. Little did he know, in “The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link,” Tantari is a desert inhabited by evil trophy-stealing Goryias (http://www.sttff.net/pictures/tantari1.jpg, http://www.sttff.net/pictures/tantari2.jpg).
After Lieutenant Berman falls over dead in the Starlight’s turbolift, Bator and Hartman perform an autopsy that is conspicuously similar to the ones seen every week on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
After visiting Eridor in “The Odyssey, part II,” General Kron leads the fleet to the Rolante System. And after he decides that Rolante is too far away, Kron then takes the fleet to the Navarre Cluster. Both Rolante and Navarre are featured in the SNES game Seiken Densetsu III. Rolante is the Wind Kingdom, under siege by Beigu’s dreaded forces of doom; the desert nation of Navarre is at the heart of the thieves’ guild.
Doctor Hartman mentions to Alan Christopher that he is not the Man of Steel toward the end of “The Odyssey, part II.” And while Christopher was clueless to the reference, you’d have to have spent the past several decades in a cave not to know who Superman is…
Also in “The Odyssey, part II,” Captain Christopher’s breakfast of choice is not Wheaties, but… Sugar Bombs! Yum! In the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin frequently ingested Sugar Bombs.
In “In the Heart of Darkness,” Kendall Johnson notes that copious amounts of condensed lazon are interfering with sensor readings. This is undoubtedly good news for King Zarkon—because in Voltron: The Third Dimension, Prince Lotor used condensed lazon (and a long list of other goodies) to build Zarkon’s forces of doom. Of course, Voltron always destroyed the said weapons, but, an evil guy’s gotta try…
Good old Gleeok the Necromancer has been mentioned several times throughout the series (and was prominently featured in the first season’s “Black Fire”). But while TFF’s Gleeok is a hologram, the one featured in The Legend of Zelda is not—in fact, he’s the evil multi-headed dragon guarding the triforce in several of that game’s labyrinths.
Just moments after speaking of Gleeok, Christopher proceeds to mention the Forgotten Land of Brigador. In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Thrall must lead the Orc to the Forgotten Land of Kalimdor.
Whilst peering out into space, Christopher imagines a quaint little world called Astoria. Apparently, this world was featured in Seiken Densetsu III, because Astoria was a small village featured in that game—until that place got trashed by the Altenan army.
And of course, toward the end of “In the Heart of Darkness,” we have the coming of the Drusari—and as mentioned earlier, they look suspiciously like the Bal’rog from LOTR. Just to reinforce that link, Harrison asks, “What is this new devilry?” Of course, Boromir asks the exact same question in The Fellowship of the Ring. Galdalf, however, manages to survive the TFF incarnation… oh wait, he wasn’t there. Never mind.
The episode “New Blood” borrowed its title from the first episode of “Walking With Prehistoric Beasts,” an excellent documentary produced by the BBC. That first episode, by-the-way, is also the one that features Gastornis, the evil birds that inspired Tracker Melas and the Ghaib.
Also in “New Blood,” Lucas Tompkins met with a sultry alien female named Likku aboard the Yelss Station. An equally sultry Rikku is a member of your party in Final Fantasy X… and Final Fantasy X2 (though the latter version of the character wears a lot less clothing. Can’t wait for FFX3 J).
While the Yelss are sending telepathic messages to Christopher in “New Blood,” they mention both “Time’s Scar” and “The Cogs of Fate.” The Yelss must have been playing Chrono Cross before sending those messages, because “Time’s Scar” is the title of the excellent opening theme, and “The Cogs of Fate” are mentioned in the prologue.
Megan Reinbold serves steamed azna for dinner in “New Blood.” In the DS9 episode “A Man Alone,” Dax orders azna at Quark’s.
Alas poor, Sheridan… Near the end of “New Blood,” Xi'Yor finds Captain Sheridan’s skull on the floor. Since he’s insane, Xi'Yor plucked the skull from the floor and started talking to it, an action that mirrors Act V, Scene I of Hamlet, when the aforementioned Hamlet has a chat with poor Yorick’s skull. He knew him well, Horatio…
• Xi'Yor chats with Sheridan’s skull. At the end of the episode, Xi'Yor holds Sheridan’s skull and speaks to it. In Act V, Scene I of Hamlet, Hamlet has a chat with poor Yorick’s skull. He knew him well, Horatio; a fellow of most infinite jest; of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kiss'd I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chap-fallen? Now, get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come; make her laugh at that—pr'ythee, Horatio, tell me one thing… … …
Those Yelss must be big time video game buffs. Their new battle cruiser, featured prominently in “Infinity,” bares a striking resemblance to the Ocean Force Point Temple in Star Fox Adventures. And of course, Lab 16 on that same ship can be traced back to Chrono Trigger; Lab 16 was amongst the ruins in the future timeline in that game.
In Star Trek: Generations, Captain Kirk prepared some Ktarian eggs while chatting with Picard in the Nexus. Bator eats the same thing in the beginning of “Twilight of the Gods.”
Also in “Twilight of the Gods,” Alan Christopher mentioned that he once spent the night on Kemada V. Deft readers might have noticed that if one spells Kemada backwards, they wind up with this very author’s last name…
And finally, Megan Reinbold’s security code is ‘Reinbold sigma-9-5-7.’ She must have been watching Babylon 5, because Sigma 957 is a planet inhabited by the First Ones (in “All Alone in the Night,” if memory serves).