One of the notable things about girls who are geeks, or at the very least about me and my closest geeky friends, is that we don’t prefer “chick flicks”. Given the choice between Terminator and Bridget Jones’ Diary, it’s Arnie all the way.
I believe there is a school of thought that believes that this indicates a lack of emotional connection in us. On the contrary: it simply means that we feel the far deeper emotional impact of the life and death situations faced by our favourite heroes and heroines to the vapid “he loves me, he loves me not” moments so painstakingly drawn out over 2 hours in popular feminine entertainment.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I NEVER watch chick flicks; some of my all-time favourite movies are the chickiest of flicks (namely The Holiday and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is also a cinema classic AND a musical, and therefore definitely qualifies me as a real girl). It’s just that once the Doctor has told you that he doesn’t want to go, or Starbuck has fallen into the maelstrom, the girly dilemmas somehow lose their significance.
Here are some of the sci-fi moments (definitely not all of them) that grabbed me by the feels and wrung me dry (in no particular order):
Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) studies the remembrance wall just before the explosive he set to save the human race detonates, taking him with it. Can somebody explain to me why Fran Kranz has not been cast in every movie ever made? The guy is amazeballs. (Dollhouse, Season 2, Episode 13, 2010)
Wash (Alan Tudyk, who honestly cannot be praised enough for the outstanding actor that he is) gets spiked, just as Serenity reaches her destination thanks to his extraordinary piloting. All of us felt as if we were the ones stabbed through the heart by a Reaver weapon. Also because the show was cancelled for no good reason at all. (Serenity the movie, 2005)
Supernatural has given us many moments that stir us, either to tears or raucous laughter, but this is my personal button. John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bravely battles his way out of his fiery hell (where, we find out later, the one year he’s been dead is more like a hundred) and wrestles his quite-literal personal demon before whooshing away in bright white lights. The question is: what happened to him then? And please can he come back? Pretty please? With extra cherries? (Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 22, 2007)
Another Stargate moment, this time from the Pegasus galaxy. The obnoxious and somewhat repulsive Rodney Mackay (David Hewlett) redeems his arrogant ways by admitting on tape to Jennifer Keller (Firefly alum Jewel Staite) that he loves her, just before his intimidating intellect is taken from him by an alien parasite. Obviously he gets saved, and it still takes a few episodes for their relationship to be consummated, but this is the moment that we realise why she falls for him at all. (Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, Episode 6, 2008)
The series might have gone completely gonzo in the later seasons, but season 1 of Heroes was a masterpiece, culminating in this moment when hopeful, hard-working, wannabe hero Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) starts to go critical after absorbing a radioactive super-power. (Heroes, Season 1 Episode 23, 2007)
Stargate makes another appearance, and once more the poignance of the moment is enhanced by the fact that SGU was cancelled on this cliff-hanger of an episode, when Eli Wallace (David Blue) has finished locking up all his shipmates in cryosleep and is preparing for a three-year solo effort to get the Destiny to the next (hopefully friendlier) galaxy. I’m still crossing all my fingers and toes and holding all my thumbs that we get a movie set three years after these events to tie it all up. (Stargate Universe, Season 2, Episode 20, 2011)
The hero is dead, but he was all of us. He was the Everyman, he was the No Man. The crowd outside the houses of parliament remove their Guy Fawkes masks as the orchestral majesty of the 1812 Overture blares through the streets and a pyrotechnic display destroys the corrupt seat of power in a dystopian future. Hugo Weaving is super powerful as V, probably more so because we never actually see his face behind the stiff mask that hides his disfigurement. (V for Vendetta, 2005)
I mentioned Terminator earlier, so it is only fitting that it features on this list. The T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) condemns himself to the crucible so that the machines can never take over the world. Such a noble (if ultimately futile) act deserves immortality. (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991)
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I mean, I haven’t even mentioned the Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings franchises without which no geek is truly a geek. And although some of these moments are romantic, for the most part they prove that great, sweeping, epic storylines that affect the whole of humanity or the world, and sometimes the universe, and result in individuals making great sacrifices for the good of the whole, are just as, if not more, moving than seeing the girl lose the guy. I would also hope that they inspire us to aspire to greater heights of compassion and investment in the world around us, and lead us to making more selfless decisions when the world does come to an end.