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Jack - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 10:18am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S3: Future's End, Part I

The *how can the future computer technology exist without the past having created it* "paradox" can be dismissed if you consider that the 24th century computer technology was largely the doing of a Federation race other than humans. If, say, it's the Vulcans that were at the forefront of such technology (remember that fancy Kir'Shara in Season4 ENT that would date back to Earth's 4th century), then 20th century Earth needn't have much to do with it.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:51am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Think Tank

I won't disagree with you there.

But the show was very Gilligan's Island in that regard. It's one of it's flaws.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:49am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible."

We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition one.

What is a God? You've got me. A creator? All powerful being? Benevolent caretaker? Is the Edo God a God? Is the Caretaker an Ocampan God? Suspiria? Is Q a God?

I'll agree that I don't know exactly what a God is, but if you can scientifically explain the nature of God, let me know. As to the problem at hand (science and religion being painted as equal).

KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.

I honestly think the Jem'Hadar from "Sacrifice of Angels" might agree with Vedek Winn. :P

As to religion. The Bajorans have based their religion are real entities. Your insistence that Bajoran religion is less valid than science is ridiculous. Their Gods are real and since Starfleet doesn't totally understand the Prophets... there may even be things the Bajoran religion can tell us about these aliens that we don't know.

The original argument was silly of course. Winn's insistence that Keiko CALL THEM Prophets in a mixed, non religious class was complete nonsense. But then, she was being obtuse on purpose. I think that's something else to remember when you knock the episode for poor writing. Winn's position was painted as intentionally disruptive, because she wanted everything else to play out exactly as it did.

The only points the episode itself (not Winn) tries to make in favor of religion vs science are....

"KEIKO: I'm not teaching any philosophy. What I'm trying to teach is pure science.
KIRA: Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, is a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.
SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station. Now, how do you suggest we deal with this? "

and

"JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn"

We clearly can't look at this episode and think the writers are taking Winn's point of view though. She's clearly being impossible on purpose.

But looking at those 2 points of view... I agree with #2, but not with #1. I think Kira is being a little bit impossible here because she's being given a contemporary issue to speak about that doesn't fit the episode. Bajoran faith is NOT incompatible with science like modern religions are. Several bible books don't work with science, but having the Bajorans say Prophet and Celestial Temple vs Wormhole Aliens and Wormhole is a real potatoe potatato situation here.

As to #2, well he's right (IMHO), as explained above. I think if anything that's the whole point of the episode. Keiko is not teaching anything against Bajoran faith, and Winn knows that (again, she's being impossible on purpose). So does Bareil (who sides with the Federation). I suppose Kira is meant to not side with the Federation initially to create conflict, but I felt it was out of character. Still, to me, that one scene is the only thing that's not perfect about this episode.

4 Stars
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:22am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

I always guess I assumed Mirasta Yale would have wanted to study in the 24th century and that the Enterprise wasn't the ideal place. I guess I assumed they dumped her at the first starbase. But your point still stands.
Tricia - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 7:44am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Endgame

I think the thing that bothered me most, and this might seem trivial, but it was the first scene with Naomi Wildman's daughter. Harry talked to her, and Janeway patted her on the head... But they basically decided that her life was inconsequential. Yes maybe Naomi's life would have followed the same path, and she would have met the same guy and gotten pregnant at the same time - but what are the odds? Janeway took it upon herself to change the course of history, and wipe Naomi's daughter out of existence

I would have thought this episode was okay, if it wasn't for the extreme selfishness of Janeway. If she had been going back in time to prevent some horrible tragedy that affected all of humanity (like Picard in the TNG finale), that would have been one thing. But to go back in time, just to save three friends... Not that three friends aren't important, but it doesn't make sense. I have loved ones that I'd like to bring back, but I wouldn't put all of humanity at risk for it. And why not go back farther, and just destroy the array? Sure they wouldn't save (or even meet) 7 of 9,... but they would save countless others who died throughout the years.

Also, it reduced Janeway to the pathetic sadness of the captain in 'Year of Hell', who just kept trying over and over to restore his wife. Consequences be damned! It would have made more sense if there was some kind of consequence... For example, if Tuvok or Seven had died on the way home.

It didn't bother me that they didn't show what happened after the crew got home. I'd rather leave that up to my imagination, anyway.
Jay - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 12:22am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

Theoretically they'd have to make Tuvix a regular cast member in that scenario, but ST has a history of ignoring characters that are technically still around. The Ent-D took Mirasta Yale aboard but then we never saw her again.
Jay - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 12:19am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

Whenever someone transports, they are actually recreated (using their pattern as a template) from entirely new matter. So I don't see why they couldn't have used prior transporter patterns to reconstitute Neelix and Tuvok form their most recent transporter trace AND let Tuvix continue existing. Sure it would be awkward on Voyager going forward, with Neelix and Tuvok and Tuvix all being crew members, but at least no one is executed.
William B - Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 12:13am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Wink of an Eye

Well.... I can't help but compare this episode to other episodes of the franchise with similar takes on the "sped-up time" concept: Voyager's "Blink of an Eye" and TNG's "Timescape." The former uses the concept to look on long-term societal evolution, among other things, and is pretty exceptional; the TNG episode is a fun, techy adventure with (mostly) carefully-thought-out details. Both leave this episode in the dust. It's not so much that I need TOS episodes to be well thought out in terms of the techy details; the big discrepancy between the ratio of the two timelines (Kirk's and the crew's) is something that could maybe have been fixed with a bit of a rewrite. The bigger problem is that the episode starts with this cool idea -- what if there was a society that lived far, far faster than humans do? -- and then doesn't do anything with it, or does very little. It doesn't really make use of the cool implications of how that would impact society the way "Blink" does, nor does it make use of the time continuity to do cool plot/storytelling developments the way "Timescape" does. Put it this way: would either the plot mechanics, or the meaning, of the episode be particularly changed if, say, the Scalosians lived in an alternate dimension or some such, one in which Kirk could send messages out but -- without doing some hefty research -- no one could expect the crew to come, as Spock does, in?

I guess we can sort of say that the Scalosians' disappearance into obsolescence is the danger of a culture going "too fast" to survive -- which makes some kind of figurative sense. The redshirt death, with a single cut making him launch off into an even further, and indeed instant, acceleration, sort of supports this linking of speed with lack of security. I guess it's also cool, as a small detail, that it's the *coffee* of Kirk's that gets spiked so that he ends up finding himself thinking far faster than his crew -- you need to lay off a bit there Jim! I should say that some of the speed up/speed down stuff is fun, and the mystery surrounding the buzzing is fairly effectively presented.

I like how finely-tuned the Kirk/Spock team is by this point in the series -- the episode's best moment is the one in which Kirk sees Spock, at his own speed, in the corridors, and just nods and the two continue on, no need for any explanation of how Spock got there! Similarly to the way Kirk just looks at Spock for some kind of clue as to the odds of Kirk and Spock returning to normal speed later in the episode. And there's something so goofy and funny about Spock repairing the whole ship before returning. And Spock tells a joke! ("It was an accelerating experience.") I think it works more than it doesn't -- because it's such a tiny joke, delivered so deadpan, and when Spock's level of trust with Kirk is at an absolute high.

What's interesting is that this episode is really "mostly" about the question of whether it's right for a dying people to use people who are not themselves dying. And the answer Kirk gives is "no," but it's an interesting, kind of un-Trek ending that Kirk doesn't seem particularly intent on sending anyone to save this dying specides when he warps away at the end. It's not really a criticism, though it does give a kind of unfinished feeling to the episode; Kirk spent all that time with Deela, but while he found himself sympathetic to her he didn't seem to want to devote any of the Federation's resources to find any alternate methods for Deela's people to not entirely die out. I actually enjoyed some of the Kirk/Deela banter, and the way she seems somewhat evenly matched for him (though ultimately of course Kirk inevitably gets the upper hand); the way she knows he's lying and finds the fun and pleasure in the game they play, works pretty well. Less well is the jealousy plot with her alternate mate. Oh well. I guess ultimately the Kirk/Deela stuff seems like it should have pointed to at least some indication of *some* alternative plan to help Deela, even if it's as simple as Spock giving some advice as to how to improve their research so they stand a chance of surviving the next Earth day. But there's nothing.

I think I'd say 2 stars -- not terrible by any means, and largely pretty competent, but it doesn't make good enough use of the SF concept, and the main story focus is itself undercooked.
$G - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 11:17pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Change of Heart

I like this one quite a bit. I'd consider it a hidden gem of the series. It's not one that I'd ever show as a stand-alone, but it really rewards long-time viewers with some really nice Worf, Dax, and even Bashir moments.

On the O'Brien-Bashir sub-plot: I like how this story climaxes half way through the episode. At first it seems like it's getting too much screen time, but by the time it's over it's satisfying. It even has a bit of a Joyce feel to it, in that it starts out as a fun little O'Brien scheme and ends up with BASHIR getting a bit of a revelation. It's played with a slightly comedic bent, but it's not fluff (at least, not to me). I like this sub-plot and I think it's one of the better executed "B" plots of the series.

On the Worf-Dax plot: I enjoyed the "filler". In fact, I enjoy a lot of the Worf-Dax exchanges in past episodes, and it's nice to see them get a serious hour to themselves. A lot of the times their relationship is lighthearted (which was probably the right move), but I liked the seeing minutiae of their married life. It adds a more lived-in feel to both their relationship and the series.

Their interactions were believable (especially Dax's irreverent attitude towards bad situations) and genuinely enjoyable. I like the execution of the ambush on the Jem'Hadar too. Not elaborate, and as rugged as it should have been. The Jem'Hadar didn't look like poor shots either, missing characters who are standing out in the open (sometimes that happens on this show). The Cardassian officer gets just as much screen time as he needs to. His role in the story isn't treated with more screen time than it deserves. I like that the episode kills him off screen too.

Since everyone's going hog wild with future spoilers - I also think this would have been a good place to kill Dax. But, on the other hand, it's also nice that the first serious look we get at their married life doesn't also become a foreboding presence over the episode. I don't like when shows flesh things out only to destroy them shortly after. It's manipulative, but this episode doesn't do that. I still think this would have been a good send-off for Dax, but I think there's some pretty good value in that not being the case too!

Oh, and the asteroid dodging scene? I liked it. Filler? Maybe, but the effects were good and it was only like 30 seconds long and... well, sometimes I just like some excitement during these transit scenes!

Anyway, I think this is a strong episode in nearly every way. But I can see why some might not dig it. A strong 3 stars for me. One of the better "small" episodes from this season.
Jack - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 11:05pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S1: Fallen Hero

After dinner, T'Pol escorts V'Lar to her quarters and says "this is your cabin", which suggests she hadn't been there yet, but earlier at dinner, when V'Lar comments about the person who had her quarters, T'Pol suspects it's about "the smell", but if V'Lar hadn't been in the quarters yet, how could she have already smelled them?
NCC-1701-Z - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 10:51pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Improbable Cause

Interesting fact from Memory Alpha: This was originally intended to be a one-parter, and it would have ended with the rod Garak told Bashir about being real and Garak threatening Tain that its contents would be revealed to Starfleet if he didn't let them go.

Boy, am I glad they didn't go with that ending. It does make Garak's "If I'm not back within 78 hours, I want you to take that rod...and eat it" quote twice as funny though. I'm a sucker for in-jokes and meta-commentary.
NCC-1701-Z - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 10:35pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Improbable Cause

"You both go to such lengths to conceal the true meaning of your words you end up saying nothing" - Odo

That goes for too many people nowadays.

I miss the days when shows slowed down for a good conversation. For me it's like leaving downtown and going out to the countryside. Odo and Garak together = classic. So many good lines, they alone make the episode worth watching.

Odo: "I find it odd that a conduit running behind Garak's shop should just happen to overload."

Garak re-interpreting the story of the boy who cried wolf. HILARIOUS!

Sisko: "I don't expect [the Romulans] to be entirely forthcoming."
[cut to later]
Romulan: "Yes, we destroyed the Flaxian's ship."

Garak: "It seems that our interesting trip has been cut short."

Odo: "If he did know, he'd already be spinning out an elaborate web of lies to cover up the truth."

Odo: "Given those uniforms of theirs, you'd think they'd appreciate a good tailor."

Garak: "Behind that panel is a compartment containing an isolinear rod. If I'm not back within 78 hours, I want you to take that rod ... and eat it."

Great setup episode. One of Trek's best, and part 2 is even better.
Lal - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 10:34pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Only 2 stars? I would have given it 3. It's a competently written drama with an okay premise, but some great ethical dilemmas. Yeah the 'romance' was a bit lukewarm (not to mention that they became "in love" awfully fast), and Ron Canada's character was unnecessarily stodgy and single-minded. But Geordi's dialogue with Hannah, and her reasoning on why she needs to leave - it's pretty well done.

The society itself is puzzling, with questionable internal stability. I also think it wasn't visibly rigid enough - I would have expected a bit more uniformity of dress, with colours of cloth to differentiate professions. (Plus, there is a somewhat implied caste system at work, if some people are bred to be the top dogs, and others are bred for less high-profile jobs. But I guess there was enough holes in this utopia to see it as a dystopia anyway.

Too bad the Enterprise crew can never examine their claims of being "evolved" human beings more closely (Q comes close to do this from the get-go in "Encounter at Farpoint", but Q had to be the bad guy, so he's wrong no matter what). This is TNG, and Roddenberry's utopia has no problems because its blinders block any peripheral vision from coming through.

$G - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 8:44pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Honor Among Thieves

This one doesn't work for me for mostly the same reason Trek's one-episode romances don't work for me: the development of the relationship is way too sped up, which forces cliched bonding scenes and makes the characters act naive and irrationally.

Bilby's reason for trusting O'Brien makes the whole episode seem silly. And no, Bilby admitting that he's too trusting doesn't excuse the rushed pace of the relationship. Mistakes in judgement under duress is one thing when we know the character and what he or she is about. We know nothing about Bilby, so he just comes off as wearing the idiot hat.

It is mighty difficult to sell a story like this in 40 minutes (less, even, considering the obligatory fit-the-whole-cast-into-each-show scene with everyone complaining to Kira about broken equipment). I don't begrudge the producers for TRYING, but they have to know by now that the stories need to fit the format.

This one just barely gets 2 stars from me. It's at least watchable, I guess.
navamske - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:56pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S3: Distant Origin

There might be an interesting parallel here, if one wants to see it, that would make Chakotay's role in the story particularly ironic. The Voths' "doctrine" says that their origins are in the Delta Quadrant, that they are not "immigrants," whereas the scientific data point to an origin in the Alpha Quadrant. The parallel is that according to some of their oral histories, some Native Americans have been living on the North American continent since their genesis; however, genetic and linguistic data connect the "native" people of North America with ancient northeast Asians who migrated across what is now the Bering Strait when Asia and what is now Alaska were connected by a land bridge.
Jack - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:55pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S1: Rogue Planet

From the look of the creatures you'd think they'd taste less like pork and more like escargot.
dlpb - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:46pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S1: Phage

You know precisely what I mean by liberal.
dlpb - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:22pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible.
dlpb - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:19pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@Robert

. It's based on non-linear aliens

--------

It is a fake religion because they believe the aliens to be gods. They aren't, by your own admission.
Ender - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 5:26pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Think Tank

But that's just the rub, isn't it? This is a show premised on the idea that a ship has been stranded from home under extremely bizarre and unusual circumstances and is trying to get back.

Along the way they repeatedly *almost* get back, because the show treats things like transwarp technology as all too common (remember that episode where weird Alien of the Week "Arturis" actually BUILDS a "quantum slipstream" ship, just to deceive the Voyager crew?). The idea that the Think Tank might just *have* technology like that is part of this trend, and I think it's one that repeatedly undermines the strength of the show.
Robert - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 3:23pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

The social point that it was making was that you gain a perspective walking in someone else's shoes. It was showing someone who, at the beginning of the episode was harassing and marginalizing a female employee what it was like to be her.

I ACTUALLY think it was clever idea. It's just that...

1) Quark may be a shade of grey on this show, but he's still one of the good guys and watching him sexually harass his employee was pretty awful.

2) The fact that Doctor Bashir performs sex change surgery so that they can trick a Ferengi corporate kingpin is just.... insane?

3) The stereotypical portrayal of women might have worked better in the 70s Trek alongside such masterpieces as "Turnabout Intruder".

4) But no, what REALLY torpedoes the hell out of the episode is that at the end, the employee Quark sexually harassed WANTS to screw around with him. So the lesson that Ian touts is actually tossed out the airlock, because the new sensitive Quark doesn't get a chance to fix his mistake, the old jerk Quark wins.

It did have a few cute moments. I personally loled at the scene where Rom was teaching him how to walk... but I like Rom/Leeta and their weird relationship... I know the majority of fans don't. And Worf's line about how a Dominion invasion of Ferenginar would have no repercussions for the Alpha Quadrant was one of Michael Dorn's finest one liners (shame it was in THIS episode). And the fight between Quark and his mother was decent character development for that relationship. But those few shining spots are not enough to recommend it.
Dave in NC - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 2:50pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

Quote:

"Profit and Lace" was actually making a social point - that you all missed!!

@ Ian

And what point was that?

I must also let you know that most people have a very wide berth when it comes to what is funny: I can laugh at 3 Stooges, Frasier, Woody Allen, Cheech and Chong, Oscar Levant, Sarah Silverman, Marx Brothers, Dave Chapelle etc etc . . . yet for some reason, I still don't find this amusing. Stale and trite, yes, but funny? Nope.

The thing about humor and what is personally funny is it's something that can't be quantified. Just because YOU find it hilarious doesn't mean anyone else has to, or that anyone else should (or would).


Ian - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 2:09pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

It saddens me to think you all found that episode crap, for god sake lighten up. If you couldn't see the funny side of it, then well I feel sorry for you, you missed the whole point OF the humour.
As someone who has been into Trek since it started here in the UK back in 1969, Trek has had its ups and downs, for me "The Omega Glory" (TOS) was a pile of crap, Star Trek: Into Darkness was crap, but "Profit and Lace" was actually making a social point - that you all missed!!
William B - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 11:51am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Plato's Stepchildren

Like Jo Jo Meastro, I'm not entirely sure what I think about this episode, which is really, really odd. I think that it's maybe supposed to do for Greek culture what "Bread and Circuses" did for Roman culture -- to show how that's, you know, not a good thing to emulate, at least to a degree. As easy as it is to idealize the Greeks for their philosophical thought and emphasis on intellect, they were a state with slaves, and Plato's ideal that a republic would be ruled by Philosopher-Kings whose superior intellect and dedication to ideas has some, er, problems. I don't have as much of a philosophy background/expertise as I'd like, so I don't claim to speak with much background. Still, some of the big problems are demonstrated here. Parmen talks about how his society is superior to one ruled over by the strong rather than the intelligent, but he employs tyrannical cruelty for his own pleasure just as much as any strongman-tyrant. Someone who is deemed by them to be unintelligent because he lacks their psychokinetic abilities, Alexander, is reduced to slavery and mockery. Given the opportunity, these "intellectuals" lounge around fulfilling their desires and do naught else. I value intelligence, and Trek obviously does too, but intelligence by itself is no guarantee of moral virtue, and a society with an intellectual dictator is still a dictatorship.

On the other hand, Spock makes the point of distinguishing between the awful society that Parmen rules over and what Plato himself advocated -- with truth, beauty, and above all justice as founding principles, rather than this perpetual sadistic cruelty. And the episode could also be argued not so much to argue with Plato -- perhaps a wise decision, really -- as with those who would emulate Plato while ignoring his meaning. In particular, the trait that Parmen believes indicates intelligence, telekinesis, is actually completely unrelated to intelligence, and only related to petuitary hormones and, well, height. His mind powers basically are indistinguishable from any other form of strength, and his smug insistence that his powers make him the most intelligent is just a rationalization for his brutality. I think this also has some pretty far-reaching implications. It makes me think of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and other cognitive biases in which the strong seek to justify their strength as indicative of superior moral virtue rather than of some accident of circumstance. Along those lines, I really like the way McCoy is so highly prized by the Platonians because he has actual skill, knowledge, curiosity and intellectual acumen, which they have essentially abandoned; and that the away team beats the Platonians by using scientific investigation and, well, intellect to beat them. This is the application of intellect and intuition through work and curiosity -- rather than the decadent, lazy "intellect" of the "Philosopher-King" class that we see with Parmen, who has clearly left behind anything resembling valuable intellectual pursuits a few millennia ago.

I also really agree (with Jammer and Jo Jo) that the depiction of Alexander is impressive -- not just because it's a good development of a supporting character, but because it's an unusual-for-the-time (and still for this time, frankly) depiction of a dwarf/little person as heroic while also pretty directly confronting the feelings of insecurity that come with having one's disability constantly thrown in his face as a weakness or even as stupidity. Alexander's arc over the course of the episode is good -- he starts off pretty much just accepting his lot in life, as is to be expected (had he not accepted it, had he rebelled, he likely would have been executed earlier, and he doesn't have the science kits that the crew have), feeling bad that the Enterprise crew are now condemned to his fate, but unwilling to step out and help them because of the inevitable consequences to himself, beginning to feel guilt and shame once the Enterprise crew shows him another path and Kirk immediately reassuring him that it's understandable in his circumstance, him refusing the power granted the others because he sees its corrupting influence, finally refusing to kill Parmen, refusing not just the Power-power of telekenesis but the power-over-life-and-death that is the "real" meaning of that Power-power. I think one could look upon some of these later developments less kindly, and say that perpetual-victim Alexander's refusal to take on power means that he has to be saved by Kirk et al.; that, indeed, it may be that the episode "sides" with Alexander, and views the power as corrupting in Alexander's hands but not in Kirk's, suggesting perhaps that oppressed people really do need some able-bodied guy to come in to save them. It's possible -- but I think that the episode is clear that Kirk trusts Alexander with the power, and Alexander himself makes the choice to refuse it. It's been so much a part of his life for years that Alexander cannot as easily as Kirk view the taking on of such power as a totally passing thing, specific to this planet. He demonstrates his moral superiority, confirms that it was not intellectual inferiority that kept him from having the telekenesis at all, and leaves.

So, okay, that's the Big Themes of the episode, such as they are: what do we make of the actual depiction? This is probably the longest depiction of pure sadism on TOS, with scene after scene of the crew helpless to stop being subjected to different humiliations. I can't really tell if they are "funny" or not: they are...funny to the Platonians, and maybe to the audience for sheer camp value. It's different watching Kirk et al. humiliate themselves to try to convince McCoy to stay for the Platonians and watching Shatner et al. "humiliate" themselves for a paycheck for the audience, because, well, the actors did sign on to this type of thing, I guess, and maybe don't mind it? But the story's basic point -- the Platonians are cruel and barbaric but believe themselves to be intellectually sophisticated -- doesn't really need scene after scene of proof. There is something kind of effective in the episode's repeating the humiliation again and again, though -- especially when we get glimpses of how awful the Platonians are, and what sense of intellectual superiority backs up their reasoning. When Kirk and Spock are made to court Uhura and Chapel and then switch and then switch back, and one of the Platonians yells out how fickle they are and laughs as if Kirk and Spock had any control over their situation, it's not just pure cruelty, but the shocking, disgusting idea that the Platonians seem on some level to believe their victims actually want to do what they are being forced to do, and deserve it. The fact that the last humiliation is actually some depiction of sexual violence -- Kirk and Spock forced first to kiss and then to get whips/hot pokers and presumably torture and maybe kill Uhura and Chapel -- makes this episode seem like something out of the Marquis de Sade rather than Star Trek.

In that sense, the episode is actually maybe more effective than the half dozen or so "Kirk/whoever has to fight in a gladiator combat against his will for entertainment!" episodes, because at least Kirk doesn't have to be forced to pretend to enjoy those gladiator fights, and at least he has control over his body even if he's being put in a kill-or-be-killed situation. When Spock is forced to laugh or cry, or to dance and nearly crush Kirk's skull, or when Chapel and Spock are forced to kiss and Chapel admits that this is exactly what she's wanted but not like this, and Kirk and Uhura kiss and Uhura talks about how Kirk is the person who made her less afraid, or when the whip comes out, there is the sense that the Platonians are aiming to control not just the body but the hearts of their victims as well, which is what real totalitarian savagery is -- not killing someone but tearing them apart from the inside, breaking their will. That the episode does this in a kind of light, fanciful tone is part of what makes it so strange and puzzling.

...which is, I guess, to say that the interracial kiss was maybe not such a television watershed in-story. That they got the image of a white man and a black woman kissing on American network TV is impressive and admirable. But they were forced to against their will, you know? And while the story was careful not to depict the problem as that they were different races -- the problem is that it's awkward because it's a captain and one of his officers, and, more to the point, that they are being telekinetically controlled. But everyone knew that. It just makes the moment weird to watch, and associates this big "THIS IS WRONG" emotion over the moment.

Anyway, uh...I do not really know what I think of the episode, to be honest. I think that enough elements of it work that I'm inclined to think favourably of it -- but it is a bit of a slog to get through and I'm not sure if the long depiction of sadism is clever enough to justify...itself. I guess 2.5 stars.
William B - Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 10:58am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: The Tholian Web

According to Memory Alpha, the original author of the episode wanted to do a ghost story, and Roddenberry insisted that Trek was SF and not fantasy. No ghosts. So he went with an interdimensional phasing thing instead. Great! And that is how this episode functions as SF, though of course like most Trek it's of the softer sort. But really, this is a ghost story. The Enterprise comes across a ghost ship where the whole crew are dead, and then the captain apparently remains with it, and he fades in and out of existence and he may be real, or is he just a figment of their imaginations? And they all go mad. Meanwhile, enemies are enclosing them in a net, which means that if they don't move right then they may be trapped at this boundary between two universes -- you know, the real universe and the spirit world -- forever, and be driven mad by it, until they, perhaps, become a ghost ship themselves. Pretty worrying situation! The decision to set this episode within the established conventions of the Trek universe -- parallel dimensions were established in "Mirror, Mirror," after all -- is an important one, because while continuity and internal consistency is spotty in TOS, it is still meant to overall be recognizably a universe that mostly obeys rational laws, or pretends to. However, the point of this rundown is that the episode's overall emotional impact and story structure are not significantly different than if the Defiant really were a ghost ship, Kirk really did become a ghost, and the crew just went mad because of being close to the spirit world, like this is a Gothic naval novel. Kirk becoming a translucent figure caught between dimensions has the same narrative function of him being a "ghost."

Part of the reason ghost stories have their impact is that they can represent, in emotional/intuitive language, the way in which our bonds with people close to us and to the past in general continue even when the person is no longer alive. That works in this episode -- in which the crew believes that Kirk is dead, and then his "ghost" haunts the ship, even as Kirk is essentially still maybe *the* dominant factor in the Spock/Bones dynamic -- they are unable to grieve Kirk, and as a result they naturally come into their usual pattern of conflict, but without the ability to mediate themselves the way Kirk would mediate them. Similarly, the madness throughout the whole ship is the result of Kirk being gone, possibly dead. The ship is perhaps going to be trapped in a web, forever. The normal tensions within the crew in a stressful, deadly situation are exacerbated by the absence of their leader -- both lack of a leader everyone fully trusts, and grief over the man they admired. Space madness is the figurative representation of the irrational anger and confusion resulting from grief and loss -- exaggerated here for mythological reasons.

I think the idea that the madness is the result of the intersection of two worlds is kind of nifty, because, if one accepts my premise that this story is basically a SF update of ghost lit tropes, it represents madness at peering into the divide between the world of the living and the world of the dead. That Kirk seems to be completely into the world of the dead means that initially his ghost sightings are just attributed to madness. But he's still alive -- just trapped somewhere between what we think of as "living" and "dead," and only carefully watching for the signs he might still be out there can lead to him being recovered (as if he were, for instance, floating out in the ocean, just barely staying afloat but soon to be pulled under by the waves, or in a coma slowly losing life signs). Spock's decision to stay in this intermediate space between life and death in order to recover Kirk has some mythic connotations -- going into the underworld, and risking anyone who goes down there, to save one who is trapped there. In addition to representing the *impact* of Kirk's apparent death, and the continued uncertainty of whether this has actually happened, the "space madness" has the narrative advantage that it allows ghost-Kirk's visits to occur without immediately requiring action.

So, the big draw here is the Spock/McCoy interaction. One thing I find interesting is that it starts off from a conflict in which their superficial roles seem to be reversed: McCoy insists that they need to get out of there as soon as possible, ditch Jim in order to save the rest of the crew. Spock is willing to risk the ship to save Kirk. This makes the episode build on the conflict in previous episodes, especially "The Galileo Seven," in which Spock's for-the-good-of-the-many pragmatism ran up against the others', and particularly McCoy's, human and emotional values. However, true to form, Spock continues to justify his decision on cold, rational grounds, and McCoy continues to voice his objections in terms of hot-headed emotional outbursts, which become increasingly irrational and even contradictory as the episode goes on.

So I...sort of agree with other posters (Jo Jo Maestro, Alex) that McCoy seems a little exaggeratedly contrarian in his interactions with Spock. I mean, McCoy is actually very possibly *right* that the ship needs to get out of there as soon as possible, and that Kirk would prefer them leave and safeguard the crew rather than wait to rescue him. However, Spock's "illogically" staying to try to protect Kirk is totally inconsistent with McCoy's eventual angrier and angrier accusations that Spock is just doing this because he wants Jim's command, which even McCoy seems to recognize (stating as he does that he doesn't understand why Spock would not just leave and protect his new command). McCoy's internal logic breaks down, because he starts using any and all emotional reasons to be mad at Spock to start because he's too stressed to think clearly, and because he's angry that Spock has apparently killed them all in a doomed attempt to save Kirk. I wouldn't be surprised if there was an element of anger at himself in all this, for McCoy to be confused and frustrated that *he* is the one advocating leaving Jim behind and Spock is the one who seems to cling to saving the captain. Because it's so inconceivable to him that Spock might be even more tied to the captain emotionally than McCoy is, his quick, intuitive, not-fully-logically-consistent mind keeps searching for cold-blooded reasons why Spock might want to stay and can find none, and it just makes him angrier.

Meanwhile, Spock really does risk the ship to save Kirk -- and why? I think that there are logical reasons to do so -- as long as Kirk might be out there, there is a distinct possibility that he can protect everyone on the ship from death, including Kirk. Spock's calculation is the one prioritizing the best best-case scenario, rather than prioritizing the best *worst*-case scenario, which is what leaving immediately and abandoning Kirk would mean. I do think that there is an emotional component to Spock's decision, however -- not emotional in the sense of "irrational," but emotional in that Spock's value system is one in which he really does personally value Kirk's life more than he personally values other lives, including his own. Kirk is Spock's friend and Spock will not abandon him. I think this is extremely difficult for Spock to explain or justify, so he simply doesn't explain or justify it, but I think it's one of the major reasons behind Spock's decision, and it's the missing element of Spock's decision to stay, which does turn out to be justified, which McCoy doesn't initially expect or understand.

I do like that it's Kirk's tape that allows Spock and McCoy to come back into alignment -- because it's really an inability to properly grieve Kirk, or to incorporate Kirk's role into their dynamic, which is the source of their conflict. With Kirk there, they can snipe all they want until Kirk stops them, and they can even do so affectionately, but they don't have very effective brakes on their conflict (well, McCoy especially doesn't). They are both angry at the loss of Kirk and unwilling to accept his departure enough to start trying to do for themselves what Kirk would do for them -- remind them that they need each other. It's also another type of "ghostly" message from Kirk, where his presence changes their dynamic after his apparent departure.

Ultimately, Spock's big play to stay and try to save Kirk pays off. I also really like that the way they escape the Tholian web is by phasing into the other dimension when they meet Kirk -- thus being able to escape the purely "our universe"/physical boundaries set up by the Tholian web. The last moment of Spock and McCoy pretending they hadn't seen Kirk's video suggests their new stronger private bond. Here, and in Spock's "I'm sure the captain would simply have said: 'Forget about it, Bones,'" there is the sense of Spock's continued comfort with his humanity without losing his essential core of Vulcan logic, which fits along with McCoy's increasingly recognizing the pragmatic essentials of the situation (i.e. in his willingness to abandon Jim to his fate).

Did Scotty just go get super-drunk at the end of this episode? He is probably THE reason Starfleet put synthehol on their starships.

An effective, if somewhat scattered, episode, and one of the few very essential episodes of season three. A high 3 stars.
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