Loving in View of Eternity: A Review of No Man’s Land
“Love isn’t something you find. It’s something you create.” — Professor Gillan
At the very end of the Picard first season finale “Et in Arcadia, Ego, Part 2”, we get a glimpse of Raffi and Seven of Nine sitting very close together on La Sirena, reaching for each other, their fingers intertwining. Ever since that moment, I have been wondering if these two strong and beautiful women might become a strong and beautiful couple.
Written by the extraordinary writing team of Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, and performed with passion and tenderness by Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd along with a full cast, this audio drama explores that question with sensitivity and depth of emotion.
Wine in a Red Bud Vase
The drama opens to evocative sound effects and richly seductive guitar music. Conversation between Raffi and Seven indicates they are in Raffi’s home. Raffi has trusted Seven to enter her home and see her untidiness. Seven has trusted Raffi by slowing down and taking some time away from her work as a Ranger to explore the growing feelings between the two.
And those feelings are warmly, tenderly, yet tentatively expressed in the casual intimacy of the “getting to know each other” conversation between the two women. They take it in turns to ask each other questions over a glass, and a red bud vase, of Chateau Picard:
Raffi reveals that she deeply loved her partner – the artist Jason, the father of her son Gabe – but that leaving Starfleet was her most painful breakup. Seven reveals that she thought maybe Chakotay could be someone special… but, no. Raffi likewise has not had anything special since her marriage to Gabe’s father ended. “You deserve ‘special,’” Seven says simply.
The two are utterly content in each other’s company when Hiro, one of Seven’s fellow Fenris Rangers, shows up and turns the peaceful night upside down.
A Mission Together
Helping people who can’t help themselves is all Seven knows how to do. But when Hiro asks for her help to evacuate a world of Romulan refugees under attack by a Romulan warlord, she hesitates for the first time in all her years as a Ranger. She has finally met someone who is worth washing dishes for. Will leaving Raffi be her very first regret?
With a little persuasion, however, Raffi is willing to join her on her mission. And so Raffi, formerly of Starfleet Intelligence; Seven, of the Fenris Rangers; and Hiro, who doesn’t trust the Universal Translators and thus speaks in malapropisms, join together to become the crew of the Ranger ship Tendu.
The mission is to rescue an eccentric, elderly, frail old Professor of Antiquities, Gillan. This mysterious not-human possesses an alien artifact, called the lemniscate, that has permitted him to live through two centuries, and according to legend, will grant him eternal life for as long as he wears it. The warlord Rynin will stop at nothing to claim the lemniscate for himself.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The twists and turns of the unfolding mission serve as a background for the twists and turns of the unfolding relationship. The early, precious hours spent sitting up far too late listening to music and getting to know one another over a glass of wine are essential to a relationship. But getting to know one another to the very core doesn’t happen in safe places. It happens in close quarters on a Ranger ship, in danger, facing enemies together, working together to repair the ship, planning and strategizing together… and it doesn’t come easily.
They each make mistakes. When Raffi crosses boundaries and disrespects Seven’s personal agency, Seven tells her that, now that she has been liberated from the Collective, her thoughts and her choices are her own. When Raffi pours out her heart about the feelings she has for Seven, Seven runs scared.
They learn the good, the bad, and the ugly about each other. Raffi’s fear of losing Seven causes her to make poor choices. Seven is terrified of commitment, pushes people away when they get too close, and feels that she must save the universe on her own.
Each woman learns just what the other’s work means to her. Raffi learns that Seven feels desperately inadequate to help keep the people of the sector safe in the post-supernova chaos. Seven learns how much Starfleet means to Raffi and how much her years of experience can add to the mission.
Along the way, though, they find the footprints of another couple who walked the path they are contemplating walking together… and those footprints serve as their guide.
A Love Worth Sacrificing Eternity For
Threaded through the drama are tenderly read narrations of letters written by Professor Gillan to Helena, his wife, and in those letters is a secret even more life-giving than the lemniscate: the revelation that eternal life is more curse than blessing if you have no-one to share it with. But once you have that one person to share life with, every moment together is more precious than life itself. In the end, both of them rejected the gift of eternal life, because neither could face Eternity without the other.
Raffi and Seven come to see that they want what the Professor and Helena had. But it seems to them as rare as the lemniscate.
“No,” says the professor, with all the wisdom of the ages. “What Helena and I had was built over a lifetime, moment by moment. It’s not something you find. It’s something you create.”
Love like that takes commitment. Raffi and Seven aren’t sure they are ready for that level of commitment yet, but they’re willing to explore the possibility. They agree to take it slow for a while, but now they believe love like that is possible… and for now, that’s enough.
Final Thoughts and Ratings
This audio drama moved me to the depths of my soul. I give it five out of five bottles of Chateau Picard.
Ruth Anne Amsden has been a Trekkie since she was a ten-year-old reader voraciously devouring Star Trek novels (her family did not allow television in the home). She is working toward her first BA and aspiring to professionally write Star Trek novels as love letters to the novels she loved growing up.