I ended up watching Evolution on WGN late last night. I hadn't seen it since it first aired, so I'd forgotten that it was more commonly known to me as "the one with the Nanites."
When I see TNG on the guide, I usually click over and watch for a second before I go back to watching NHL on the Fly, but when I the picture resolved itself, and the first thing I saw and thought was, "Oh God. The Helmet Hair," (I even joked about it on Twitter), I didn't change the station; I just set the remote down and watched … and I felt incredibly happy while I did. I don't know how I did it, but I was able to mentally flip between watching my teenage self acting on a TV show, and just watching Star Trek like a regular person who loves it.
Evolution is actually quite good, and we're all quite good in it. During the commercials, I tried to recall specific memories about filming it, but all I could get were some very vague, dreamlike recollections that were so faint, I'm not even sure they were real and not just my brain making things up so I'd stop entering search queries and taxing its server.
Some memories (of the Future, durr) were crystal clear: how great it was to have Gates back, how excited I was to have an episode where Wesley wasn't a weenie, and how cool it was to finally have scenes together where we interacted as mother and son in a believable way.
The strongest memories, though, were off-set, and more tied to that time in my life then they were to that actual episode: painting 40K minis in my dressing room between scenes, going to game cons with my friends to play with those minis, and driving down to the Forum after work to watch the Kings, listening to Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and The Cure the whole way. When the episode was over, I felt this weird combination of joy and sadness that I can't quite find the words to accurately describe. I guess "wistful nostalgia" probably comes closest to how I felt, but even that feels inadequate.
You know, I really hated the Helmet Hair (to this day, if I even smell Shaper hairspray I feel like I'm going to gag) and the grey spacesuit wasn't the coolest thing in the world, especially when everyone else got to wear those awesome two-piece spacesuits, but if wearing The Helmet Hair and The Iron Maiden were the price of admission to working with people I love on a show that I love, I'm glad I got to pay it.