Crushing Moments in Geekdom

Crushing Moments in Geekdom

May 21


Pondering The Phantom Menace‘s magical tenth anniversary this week has produced a couple of semi-interesting thought blipverts for me. First of all…I’m old. Undeniably, decriptly, cantankerously old. If I had a lawn, I would defend it.

Second, what a moment that was, eh? Judging from all your Poodoo comments, everyone has a seminal TPM memory, and most of them involve dreams/childhood/formerly extensive action figure collections being crushed. For some of you, maybe it was the first time this happened. Others were already jaded, veteran fans at that point, accustomed to being disappointed because you always managed to care just a little too much.

To be honest, I don’t really recall how the raging stinkbomb that was TPM made me feel. I think I just tried to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad. It took a good, long while for the sheer, childhood-obliterating awfulness to set in.

I do, however, remember — in crystalline detail — the first time fandom absolutely crushed me. It’s one of those things that’s hideously embarrassing to recount….but aren’t all the best nerd stories?

As most of y’all know, I have always been a Deep Space Nine fangirl. The show came out during my high school years, when I was sort of emerging from the cocoon of junior high-based attempts at pseudo-coolness and finally letting my Trekkian freak flag fly. I joined a Kira fan club. I wrote for the Kira fan club newsletter. I wore a Bajoran earring and actively hoped that people would ask me about it.

My fandom flame was further stoked when the show introduced a mind-meltingly hot love interest for Kira, a progressive religious leader called Vedek Bareil (played with mind-melting hotness by Philip Anglim — who wants to drop acid and watch Haunted Summer on endless repeat? YOU DO!). This was all before spoilers were A Thing. The internet itself was barely A Thing. So I was genuinely surprised when they paired the two of them up, particularly since they did it in genuinely sexy-for-Trek fashion. When you are like 15 and you are watching a show and you are not expecting to see nudity and then there is nudity, it’s kind of exciting.

The relationship continued to develop in interesting fashion — sort of a warrior-and-the-monk thing, all tied into Bajor’s increasingly complex intersection of religion and politics. I loved every second.

And then…I don’t know what happened. Someone maybe decided there wasn’t anything else they could do with the pairing or there wasn’t anything else they could do with Bareil, specifically. Rumors started swirling around that an upcoming season 3 episode, “Life Support,” would be the character’s last. I expressed concern to a non-geek friend (who, by the way, could not have given two shits, but managed to act like this was, indeed, a Very Important Issue in the grand scheme of things), then sat around and worried ’til the episode aired. (Again: a time before spoilers!!)

As it unspooled, I sat on the very edge of my bed, pillow clutched to my chest, stomach knotted a thousand times over.

They killed him.

I burst into tears.

We are not talking lady-like little sniffles, here. We are talking full-on, body-heaving sobs. We are talking a 16-year-old crying like there is no tomorrow over a fictional character because she can’t believe that those fucking fucker fuckingtons took him away. We are talking, possibly, about the last step before true insanity.

My friend — the same one I had confided in earlier — called me that night, just to chat.

“Um…what’s wrong?” she asked, after I answered the phone with a voice that had deteriorated into nothing more than a wheeze.

“They…killed…him,” I sobbed.

“Oh. I’m…sorry?”


Later, of course, a mirror universe version of Bareil was brought in for an episode, and that soothed the wound a tiny bit. But that’s the first time where I remember my fannish heart being smashed into teeny tiny bits, my breath taken away by my inability to actually control things on TV with my mind. I wish there was a tidy postscript or moral I could offer, something about how this incident changed how I look at ‘shipping or fandom or the occasionally frightening passion with which I embrace things. But I still ‘ship, I still geek, and I still love things deeply enough to be hurt by them. It’s all part of the experience, I guess. If I’m going to be crushed again, let it be, and let it be by something that involves a character as mind-blowingly hot as Vedek Frakkin’ Bareil.


  1. Kiala

    I cried like a little baby when Anya died. She was my favorite. We share a similar love for honesty and foot in mouth issues. And a love for money.

  2. ben

    It’s funny that this should be your Scott and Jean heart-crushing moment since for many, it’s the actual Scott & Jean X-Men 137 that’s their heart-crushing moment.

  3. I hated that Anya died too. I was unhappy with how her whole story went in the last two seasons.

    But I bawled like a baby when Buffy had to kill Angel at the end of season 2. I was 15. Even though I knew he’d be back in some form, at some point, it was a little bit heartbreaking. Sniff.

  4. There was a slow crushing over a long period of time after Deep Space Nine for me. I am a mind-bogglingly enormous fan of TNG and DS9, and then Voyager just…eh. Kate Mulgrew? Meh. Tuvok? Best thing about Tuvok was his repeated mentions on Upright Citizens Brigade. Overall I was just saddened. And then Enterprise came along and it was like they were crushing me even further into the ground. Scott Bakula??? GAH. And that theme song, which made me die a little inside every time I heard it. Fortunately, we got Tivo at some point and started skipping the opening credits, which helped a little. (You’ll note that I’ve still watched every episode of even Voyager and Enterprise, much to my embarrassment and dismay.)

  5. The other Sarah

    I cried when they killed Mulder. I mean, *cried.* I was clinging to the husband, snot and tears sludging down my face, hiccuping sobs crying. And I wasn’t a big X-Files fan.

  6. Something odd that just occurred to me — the fandom things that make me really upset this way are all things that I found out about after the fact. Maybe it’s just because I tend to be a latecomer to fandoms, but the characters who died or split up or whatever in a way that upset me were almost all after-the-fact. I watched the last season of ‘Angel’ as it aired, and I’m *sad* that Fred and then Wesley (my faaaavorite!) died. But I can deal with that, I can deal with Anya. I get a lot more upset about what happened to Darla and to Cordelia, though. Or about Jean dying at the end of Morrison’s X-Men — though I didn’t start reading X-Men until it had already happened. I’m even kind of ‘oh well’ about Cyclops getting exploded in X3.

    I think I’m developing a theory that as long as I can watch along with something bad happening to a character, and get the proper catharsis, then I can be okay with it. I’m mostly immune to fandom breaking my heart in real time. And I’m just basically begging for fandom to prove me wrong, hmm?

  7. (Seriously, if Scott Summers dies in the next six months, point to this post and explain to me how I caused it.)

    Also, adding, I think of my realtime fandom heartbreak is confined to shows/series either getting canceled or going off the rails/starting to suck. I mean, I’m still angry about the last couple seasons of ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ where the tone and focus (and quality) of the show took a total nosedive and you could just TELL it was someone’s genius plan to improve the ratings.

  8. Great post. I have a hard time actually crying at fictional media — something that I honestly think of as a failing, because a lot of time I WANT to cry and can’t make my eyes give me that release. But I’ve definitely been upset by certain fictional happenings. The day Captain America died, I didn’t even get my hands on the issue (did anyone?), but I was spoiled by the internet and I walked around my college campus in a daze all day, feeling empty.

    (On another note, I find myself fascinated by all of the 10-year retrospectives on The Phantom Menace. When it came out, I’d seen the original trilogy multiple times, but I was only 13 and that, apparently, is the perfect age for finding Princess Amidala totally kickass and thinking Jar Jar Binks is legitimately funny and awesome.)

  9. And, as a grown woman, I was pretty upset when Rose got stuck in the different dimension from Dr Who. I seem to be affected by the girly romance storylines…

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