Alright, I started out with Korra and Asami. Then I moved to Katara and Zuko. I've stayed well within my own straight, male gaze and it's about time that I step outside.

Let's look at Science Officer/First Officer Spock and ship's chief medical officer Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

Beyond simply stepping outside my own gaze for the sake, there's the reality that the original series had a lack of well-realized women in their character roster.

There was one nurse who had an infatuation with Spock. Can you state another character trait of hers? Professional, perhaps, based on an episode in which the Enterprise had almost found her husband. There was Ohura who, only in the original series mind you, seemed often like little more than a token woman on board and nothing else.

I want to be clear that I'm not taking issue with the acting. It was well done on both parts. I am taking issue with the writing that did not give fully fleshed out characters where there was a great deal of potential.

That said, the reason I don't pair Kirk with either is that being forced to watch Kirk seduce various women (for the good of the galaxy, of course) would put a strain on any relationship. Kirk has a close friendship with both Spock and McCoy, but I don't see any reason it has to be more than that.

Spock and McCoy share one of the most entertaining dynamics of the franchise. They trade barbs with a visible glee, or as close as can be displayed for Spock. They never actually take insult from each other. And, episodes like Amok Time show that they nigh-instinctively refrain when matters are sensitive.

This dynamic displays playfulness, respect, and an inherent trust in each to understand the other's boundaries. Almost by accident, I just described the foundation of a healthy romantic relationship.

The Spock/McCoy dynamic indicates a long-time established couple, one that has moved past the initial honeymoon stage, has weathered disagreements, and has come out the other end stronger for it. They're like an old married couple that works together and saves worlds together. Here's hoping that they enjoyed their retirement years before Bones passed on and Spock took on the goal of peace between Vulcan and Romulus.
Examine a Ship: Zuko and Katara

Warning: Potential spoilers ahead.

I'm sticking with Avatar for another installment, mainly to help build up steam for when I get out of the Avatar franchise into other franchises. So, I'm outside of my personal ship to one that I still have very little difficulty understanding.

Zuko's and Katara's stories mirror each other. They each start out brash, young, untaught and impatient to regain something important to them. They've each lost something important along the way, something that cannot be regained (specifically, a youth with their mother). They've each been accompanied, on their respective quests, by a loving, somewhat goofy family member who they've each hurt along the way.

That's a lot to have in common and a lot to bond over. Considering that he's a fire bending male known for bursts of rage and she's a water bending female who has, amazingly, calmed down a nigh-raging Avatar with just a touch, they are the very embodiment of yin and yang. Even without a romantic angle to their relationship, I imagine they'd find uncommon understanding in each other.

Commonalities not being all to it, there's also the story in the show as it brings them together, in two big episodes. In the first, The Crossroads of Destiny, Katara sees a potential redemption for Zuko and almost readies to use a special reserve of spirit water to cure his scar. And, it's been noted that she's the only person, other than Zuko himself, to touch his scar.

In that episode, Zuko is given the choice between redemption and a return home that he's longed for and... he chooses wrong, he betrays Katara. There doesn't need to be more than that at this point. It ramps up her emotions because she feels betrayed and he feels guilt.

The other episode is The Southern Raiders. I'm not going to talk overmuch about that, here, because it's going to be the subject of its own Stuff Done Right episode. But, the upshot is that Zuko displays an understanding of Katara's position and emotions and that she's able to forgive him (more details later on).

There we have an emotional connection, shared pain, shared joy of achieving what was once lost, and an emotional connection and history.

In the previous installment, I noted that Aang's marriage to Katara was a sign to the rest of the world that cross-National marriage was acceptable. I think Zuko (particularly as the Fire Lord) and Katara (as a freaking legendary savior who will probably have Movers made about her life) can make that message as well.

Politically speaking, on top of being an open sign to the Fire Nation that the bigotry of the past century was a thing of the past (not that it would go away so easily, as American history and American present testifies). It would also be a connection between the highest level of the Fire Nation to learn about and gain access to be in better position to make amends, on behalf of the Fire Nation, to the Water Tribes.

And, without getting into too much detail, I imagine much of the fan fiction includes quite a bit of steam heat.

As last time, I ask for both comments and suggestions as to the next ship.
Examine a Ship Korra&Asami

Until recently, I've never been all that into shipping. I got it from an intellectual concept. With regards to Avatar: The Last Airbender, I liked both Zuko and Katara. But, I never really interacted with either of their romantic storylines. (Though, I will examine this ship in future.) The Korra/Asami match is the first potential match that calls to me emotionally. And, that's getting me interested in at least looking at the general notion of character romantic relationships.

That leads to this experiment in another series. I'll want to set a few ground rules.

1. Let's keep this within the specific fiction. If you want to ship Captain Kirk with Spock, I'll look at it. But, not Captain Kirk with Captain Janeway.

2. Alternate ships do not enter into the conversation. After considering Captain Kirk and Spock, I'll be glad to then consider Spock and Dr. McCoy or, in a later piece, consider Ohura with either. But, each ship will be considered on only its own merits and flaws.

That said, let's look at Korra and Asami. This pair is Yin and Yang to each other. Korra is given to emotional outbursts at first, then given to powerful expressions of emotion even when in control. Asami tends to be cool and collected, even in the middle of a fight.

They also symbolize opposites. Asami is of the city, of business, and the non-bending member of Korra's Team Avatar. Korra, at least from the start, is at home in the wilderness, of nature of a sort, and is the freaking Avatar. They are both, undeniably, strong characters. The short way to describe them would be balanced, interconnected opposites.

Spiritually, they seem a good match for each other.

They're also good in their interactions with each other. Their love triangle of having both been interested in Mako was quickly swept into the past. I can respect going both ways between them. Asami shows some touching tenderness towards Korra and Korra seems to feel at ease being vulnerable to Asami in ways she doesn't feel comfortable doing so with either Mako or Bolin.

The spark of affection is there.

This also makes sense in terms of Korra's duties as Avatar and how they go beyond doing outright battle with evil. In the original series, Aang's battle had to do with the divisions of the four Nations. The divisions continued to be a problem when it came to the events of the comic book The Promise (which is, itself, a good read). Aang and Katara's relationship and marriage made a symbolic crossing of lines, a word to the rest of the nation that it was acceptable and right to find love outside one's own Nation.

In Korra's case, aside from dealing with multiple villains in her television series, all of the forces of imbalance she face have to deal with the relations of those with bending power and those without. A marriage to Asami would be symbolic of the very embodiment of bending finding high value in someone who has no bending whatsoever.

What's more, being that it seems the natural progression of these two characters, it would also be a good symbol, by Nickelodeon and by Brike, of same sex relationships being natural and not needing to be either fetishized or the entire definition of a character.

That said, none of what I've mentioned obligates a romantic relationship. All of this, down to and including the in-world symbolism of the relationship, could be met with a platonic, though no less close, friendship. A bromance among these two ladies, rather than a romance. I will have to steel myself for this possibility, because I realize that Nickelodeon will fear the complaints if one of their shows for children acknowledges the existence of same-sex relationships or marriage equality.

Please share your thoughts and share suggestions for the next ship up for examination.

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