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- Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 2:27am (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part II
@Luke: "(for me it's [...] a rather ridiculous caricature of the 19th/20th centuries as opposed to the "enlightened" - read, leftist - 24th)."
I don't know, Luke. The Federation universe three hundred years from now is no more "leftist" than *you* are when compared with the people of three hundred years ago.
My point is, terms such as "left" and "right" only make sense and can only be used for a specific time and a specific place: essentially, the late 19th and the 20th century West. Even as we speak, those terms are becoming increasingly obsolete.
300 years ago in 1715, for example, the Whigs came to power in Great Britain, in opposition to the Tories. But this was no "left" and "right" as we understand it: such terms make no sense in the early 18th century. And from everything we've seen on TNG, they make no sense in the 24th century, either.
Think about it: do you consider yourself to be "leftist"? The way you use the term, I should think not. And yet, to anyone living three hundred years ago, you would probably seem as "leftist"―had the term existed then―as they come.
"Don’t you think people should be torn to pieces for their heinous crimes, their body parts put on display at various crossroads in major cities and towns? What?! You don't?! You soft "leftist"!"
"Don’t you think people should at least be impaled at the city gates, or dragged behind a horse until they are dead, for their monstrous perversions? What?! You don’t? You "enlightened" fool!"
"Don’t you think lords and masters should be allowed to beat their servants, and husbands their wives, then? What?! You don’t?! You radical revolutionary!"
"Soon, you’ll be telling me that you actually think a man should even be allowed to speak to his better before spoken to first... What?! You do?! You anarchist!!!"
See what I mean? Mentalities are both fluid and specific to space and time―and so are the meanings of words. I’m betting you wouldn’t consider yourself to be "leftist", nor a "radical revolutionary", nor an "anarchist". And yet, to virtually anyone living in 1715, you would be about as "liberal" and "progressive"―in short, "leftist"―as they come.
These are of course all essentially anachronistic terms when dealing with the early 1700s. In reality, people then would label you in terms you probably wouldn’t quite understand today―nor would you agree with them if you did. Much like the TNG characters surely wouldn’t know what "right" and "left" was, and wouldn’t agree to be labelled any of it.
And of course, this whole exercise is pointless. It is largely absurd to judge our early 21st century using early 18th century standards, nomenclature, and semantics. Just as it is largely absurd to... well, I don’t really need to finish this sentence, do I?
Here on Jammer's, we can often read people ridicule Roddenberry's "leftist" "Utopian" 24th century. It baffles me, as it reveals an amazing lack of historical understanding: in many ways, such commenters seem akin to Liko and Nuria, the Mintakans in "Who Watches the Watchers?", who see The Picard as something he is not, because they can only see things from their own, limited perspective, in equally limited terms.
Do we live in a Utopian society today? I doubt that many would think so: there are still many things we can improve. And yet, I'm sure that the majority of people in 1715 would consider our present levels of technology, of welfare, of healthcare, of nutrition, of education, and so on and so forth absolutely Utopian. But while we, today, might understand why people 300 years ago might do so, we would not agree. Likewise, people 300 years in the future in the TNG universe... well, I guess I don't need to finish this sentence, either... ;)
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:50pm (USA Central)
Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places
@Microfish - Thank you for the comment about Quark and his line! That one caught me also, and of course I couldn't get the Edwin Starr song out of my mind after hearing that!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:30pm (USA Central)
Evolution and adaptation of the human species has always been a featured component of Star Trek episodes, Tuvixian Lives Matter!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 10:22pm (USA Central)
Rules of Acquisition
I also should say, I saw the kiss less as Quark definitely indicating attraction as...acknowledging a connection, returning Pel's kiss, considering what might have been.... I think Quark mostly likes Pel -- as a friend/employee -- and realizes he maybe could develop feelings for her, though he's hardly had the chance. Dax's role in the story is partly to underline how strongly Quark pursues smart and capable women as long as they aren't Ferengi. If Dax or Kira or Vash or whoever kissed Quark, he would return it enthusiastically. He does with Grilka or Natima. It is fully in character for somewhat horndog Quark to kiss a woman he finds attractive, but the kiss he and Pel share is quieter than the kind he probably tried planting on Dax in the holosuite in the incident she describes here. Now, the Pel attraction to Quark might have been excised entirely... But given that Pel loved Quark, it might be strange if Quark, upon recognizing her as a driven, smart woman, didn't return her affections at least a bit.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 10:00pm (USA Central)
Rules of Acquisition
@Elliott, I took that Odo moment as him morosely complaining about his own lack of family connections, and pointing out how awful the lack of gratitude for others of one's kin seems to him. It is still a weird line that didn't work for me, but it didn't read to me as Odo openly identifying himself with that type of relationship.
I don't think that Quark is meant to be In Love With Pel at the end -- attracted, apparently. What I liked about it is the hint of tragedy that Pel is Quark's "type," with the cleverness and tongo-playing of Quark's big crush Dax plus business acumen, AND unlike Dax she has romantic feelings for him. Quark doesn't really believe that Ferengi societal bs about women. It's a fine opportunity for Quark. But he also is afraid of giving up his standing in Ferengi society, such as it is, and is too afraid to rebel except in secret. I can see how that might somewhat weaken the story for Quark to act partly because he has feelings for Pel, but I think that Quark needing a personal connection to someone to risk his neck is a reasonable way to deal with the character at this stage.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 8:24pm (USA Central)
I wasn't too impressed with either of these shows. The only part I liked was that Phlox wasn't his cheerful, gregarious self at the end. Decent science episode.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 8:09pm (USA Central)
"How come young T'Pol has brown eyes and old T'Pol has blue eyes?"
Maybe she ate a lot of a certain kind of confection over those 117 years, given that "Donuts make my brown eyes blue."
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 7:43pm (USA Central)
Rules of Acquisition
Teaser : ***, 5%
DS9's best prop, Morn, has his drunk ass thrown out by Odo. In the meantime, we are properly introduced to Dax 2.0 (the gambling cheerleader). She and a contingent of Ferengi are playing Tongo. We are reminded that Ferengi women are 2nd-class citizens, entitled not even to clothes on their backs. I believe we are meant to infer that the Ferengi seated here accept Dax at their table because she has a mind which was once male (Kurzon). It makes for an interesting allegory to our current culture: how would misogynistic males react to a transgendered man? Assuming an absence of transphobia, how would they treat a man who was not always a man, or for that matter a woman who was once a man?
A slimy little Ferengi named Pel sells some pill (and himself) to Quark, all the while disparaging small-lobed females. Zek calls up Quark to announce that expansion into the Gamma Quadrant is to begin and the Quark will be leading the charge. I smell a sequel...
Act 1 : **, 17%
Zek snorts himself to some blow in Sisko's office (maybe that explains the shrill timbre of his voice?). It's an interesting conversation because it's a more subtle exposition of the capitalist mindset than we often get: Kira is at first disparaging to Zek (the head of state), offering her unfiltered opinion that business with the Ferengi is a mistake. Zek offers her and Bajor “free” fertiliser which could apparently go a long way to dealing with a crop shortage on the “Northern Peninsula.” “Free” is of course a euphemism for “not free at all,” but how quickly Kira puts on the puppy eyes and looks to Sisko for approval when he offers her something she wants. Okay, what the fuck is the Federation doing with itself if the planet it's assigned to safeguard is having food shortages more than a year after their arrival? Talk about contrived. This calls for a peak at the writing credit and...oh look it's Ira Steven Behr. Mhm. Whenever the strawmen appear (in this case the Federation's inability or unwillingness to feed the Bajorans with their unlimited supply of food) related to economics, count on Behr being behind the pen. When it's military scapegoats, look for Ronald Moore. Of course Zek's “gift” is actually the price he pays for conducting business on DS9. Didn't see that coming.
Side note : what kind of geography does Bajor have that allows one to refer to a single peninsula as “the Northern One”?
Cut and we bear witness to two non-unseeable sights: Zek having his ears combed and Quark presenting his rear to Zek. Yep.
Zek reveals his plan to sell Tullaberry wine to races in the Gamma Quadrant. “Tullaberries” gets passed around for a while, becoming the Peewee's Playhouse bit of irritation for this episode. I find it odd that Quark takes Zek's reasoning at face value (getting a Ferengi foothold in the Quadrant from which to expand). I mean, do either of them seriously believe that no Gamma Quadrant races have every heard of commerce? The Federation's lack of capitalism is a rare accomplishment in the Trekverse, after all.
Anyway, Pel continues to impress Quark with his skepticism, brushing Rom aside. This is one of those S 1 Wesley Crusher strategies where, in order to make him look smart, everyone else has to be dense, so the obvious seems genius.
Pel returns to his quarters and...removes his ears. Turns out he is a she...and while I want to applaud the reveal here, rather than letting us piece together the “small-lobed females” comment from before, we are given a long shot of Pel's breasts while the trumpets soar dramatically. Thus a potentially moving moment is unintentionally hilarious.
Act 2 : **, 17%
Well, in case you thought the trapezoid-tattoo-sporting Waddi from “Move Along Home” didn't look retarded enough, a new terribly cheap alien design is here to answer your requests. They're Mediæval Times ™ employee meets football fan meets furry dominatrix. Let's call them the Kinky Knights. They are some race with which Quark and Pel begins their negotiations for vats of Tullaberries, I think. I'm a little fuzzy on the details as the scene is so horribly acted, I had to turn away momentarily to dry heave.
I looked up Zek's manservant's name on MA, but I don't want to use it. We're calling him Lurch2 (Lurch1 would be Mr Hom, Lwaxana Troi's manservant). Lurch2 shows up in Ops to give Kira a piece of jewelry on Zek's behalf. Behr pulls another one of his annoying tricks. Let's run the remainder of this scene backwards :
DAX : Neither would I, but once you accept that, you'll find they can be a lot of fun.
KIRA : They're greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls, and I wouldn't turn my back on them for a second.
DAX : I admit they place too much emphasis on profit, and their behaviour towards women is somewhat primitive...
KIRA : Did anyone ever tell you you have very strange tastes?
DAX : That's because you don't socialise with them the way I do. Looking back over seven lifetimes, I can't think of a single race I've enjoyed more [sic. ew.]
KIRA : I don't understand your attitude about the Ferengi.
DAX : I suppose in a way I do.
KIRA : You sound like you admire them for it.
So Dax admires the Ferengi, even though she finds their culture abhorrent, because they're “a lot of fun.” Just checking. Sounds like a cheerleader to me.
A return to the Tongo table, with Zek this time to loose to Dax along with the other Ferengi. He ups the ante for Quark's negotiations, demanding more vats from the Kinky Knights even though Quark can't hope to acquire the original number. Pel intervenes to save face.
Later on, Dax questions Pel, having deduced that she is in love with Quark. I echo William B. above and applaud the bit where Dax' surprise is not that Pel is in love with Quark but that she is a woman. Kudos, Behr.
Act 3 : *.5, 17%
Kira returns her trinket to Zek (you have to admire his tenacity). Quark and Pel report their failure with the Kinky Knights. In the middle of Zek's rant, Pel intervenes again, offering to pursue the KK in Zek's ship until they convince them to sell their berries. Quark and Pel deduce that Zek is withholding information and seems to be trying to sabotage the negotiations. Quark starts in with the not-gays and Pel tries to quell her disappointment.
Meanshile, Rom is running the bar, feeling neglected by Quark's new friendship. The really weird thing is Odo, who's just loitering around for no reason :
ODO : If I did have a brother [crosses arms and scowls], I wouldn't let anyone come between us.
I think the implication is that Odo thinks of Quark like a brother and empathises with Rom's pain. If that's the case, it's a major mistake and totally contradicts the character play we've seen so far. I mean, whatever affection Odo might have for Quark at this point is not something he would openly share with ROM of all people. I honestly don't know what to make of this.
Rom breaks into Pel's quarters and discovers her secret (a spare pair of manlobes). Again, I cannot escape my recollection of “Menage à Troi” and “Q-less” in that Ferengi ears are auxiliary sex organs. Meaning Rom is essentially holding up Pel's strapon in his trembling hands (again with the dramatic trumpets, making the whole thing feel like a parody). Fail.....
Act 4 : *.5, 17%
On the Planet of the Kinky Knights (who say “eee...”), we are treated to another barrage of terrible acting. Ugh...Quark tries to get Zek's deal pushed through, and is told that the request for 100K vats is impossible to fill.
Pel begins to freak out at the prospect of sleeping next to Quark (I guess in case she gets a girl boner for him). But after a sip of blue liquor, she has kissed and mounted him, only to be interrupted by one of the butcher female Kinky Knights. Not-gay Quark welcomes the interruption. Butch offers to direct them to the Karima (“an important power in the Dominion”) who might be able to fill their order.
Upon returning to DS9, Zek admits that his goal all along was to make contact with the Dominion. Quark negotiates a sweet deal on all Ferengi trade with the Dominion in exchange for putting Zek in touch with the Karima. Rom then outs Pel to him. This time, instead of a dramatic moment (with generic dramatic music) being undercut with unintentional hilarity, an ostensibly funny moment (Quark's feinting) is treated to the same musicalis dramatis generico, thus rendering the moment emotionally inert.
Act 5 : **, 17%
Bashir makes a cameo, treating Quark's, erm, injury. Note: Rom refers to the Rules of Acquisition (which Pel and Quark have been quoting to each other) as “sacred.”
Quark coerces Rom into keeping Pel's secret. The question of course is why.
Quark drops in on Pel and orders her to put on her lobes. It's unclear (at this point) where Quark's conservatism comes from. Rom dropped the hint that Ferengi customs are wrapped up in a kind of religion, but it doesn't seem like Quark feels them in earnest, more that he relies on things being the way they are. A kind of cowardly conservatism to balance his otherwise progressive nature, I suppose.
Later, Pel drops in on dinner with Zek, Quark, Rom and Lurch2. I have to admit, the episode finally strikes a comic note properly with Wallace Shawn's pitiful “ohhhh! IT's a female!!!”
Zek decides to keep Pel's secret (for his own protection), but punishes Quark by relieving him of his potential profits.
The ending is rather confused. I'm glad they decided to make a stand-up guy who sacrifices his Ferengi-driven greed to stand up for the freedom of another, but the idea that Quark has fallen in love with Pel (as their kiss implies) is ridiculous and completely unnecessary. In fact, it makes it seem like Quark's primary motivation for helping her was his lust/love rather than his ethics.
Episode as Functionary : **, 10%
One thing that made “The Nagus” (to which this episode serves as followup) so effective was the juxtaposition of truly gratifying comedy (the Ferengi, almost unbelievably) with sincere human drama (the Siskos and Nog). That episode was brash in its comedic mise en scène and perhaps overly sanguine with its appraisal of the Nog/Jake friendship, but touching nonetheless. Here, the human story is rather confused as the romance between Pel and Quark is very forced and unconvincing. Additionally, the comedy is not in the same league as “The Nagus”'s. The rest of the main cast kind of orbit around the plot, adding very little (other than Dax' convoluted explanation).
I think the ultimate goal here was to develop Quark, which is moderately successful (if one overlooks the romance) and to introduce the issue of Ferengi women's rights, which is lukewarm. It takes tremendous skill to write good comedy and even finer talents to work in social commentary into your comedy. This is not an utter abomination like the eventual “Profit and Lace,” which borrows heavily from here, but it's a significant step down from “The Nagus” and a generally unworthy followup.
Final Score : **
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 5:26pm (USA Central)
Is There In Truth No Beauty?
@ William B: Great analysis. Your comments are often very insightful on various Star Trek episodes.
@ Andy's Friend: Thanks for sharing the poem.
The episode has a great theme and offers some rich material.
Truth vs beauty is a theme that can be taken in a number of directions. Is beauty superficial and truth deeper? Is beauty innate and truth artificial? Is beauty subjective and truth objective? The two words are often compared to discuss different approaches to constructing meaning. (For me, meaning is the product of our attempt to render our world intelligible.) Both concepts: beauty and truth, have value. In this episode, I believe beauty is associated with instinct and truth with intellect.
In this episode, the theme of truth vs beauty helps characterize the conflict of this new 23rd century society. The life of the crew lacks the innate beauty of a more natural ecosystem. They have left their natural ecosystem to unravel the deeper mysteries of space outside Earth. Yet truth eludes the crew in every corner of the galaxy. In this remote existence, Spock's logic represents a more detached, intellectual outlook that one might envy; the pursuit of truth is just as vital as ever in a life of exploration. But, his emphasis on intellect over emotion would seem lonely and hard to bear. Moreover, the crew is still drawn towards innate beauty (see Kirk and the space garden in this episode). How does one find innate beauty in a world that demands so much logic? Dr. Jones may have found that beauty in her connection to the Medusa life form. Here is a truth that is beautiful. But is there any truth in beauty? Or is it just another window into another lonely room in a series of lonely rooms? As Spock's Medusa ponders, even in this advanced society that appears to be ideal, life is still ever so lonely and mysterious. Still they must continue to explore. Is that instinct then?
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 2:54pm (USA Central)
The High Ground
Last time out, an examination of the problems of reintegrating veterans. This time, an examination of the problems of terrorism. Last time, the oppressed were to be supported. This time, not. Last time, the leader was left to take charge when holding a gun on Picard. This time, he's gunned down when holding a gun on Picard. So what's the difference?
This purports to be a balanced and nuanced account of the motivations and drivers for terrorism, but it never makes up its mind what it wants to say. The cause is just, but the means wrong? The end justifies the means? As Finn says - "there’s a hint of moral cowardice in your dealings with nonaligned planets. You do business with a government that’s crushing us, and then you say you aren’t involved?"
To me, the episode suffers from not really taking a stand one way or the other. Everything else is competently handled enough, and for the second episode in a row we get shoot-outs and fist fights. 2.5 stars.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 1:51pm (USA Central)
Chain of Command, Part II
1. Nobody sends a seasoned ship captain on an undercover mission, because he has "experience with radiation".
2. Nobody would assign Crusher to that mission under any circumstances. She's a medical officer, in her forties, with no combat experience - in short: she's a liability
3. Riker is the best shuttle pilot. Just like Paris was in VOY. What makes anybody a good shuttle pilot? And even if there was such a thing as a particularly good shuttle pilot, without question it had to be Data.
4. With the lack of people skills, I somehow doubt Jellico would have made the captain rank. Not in the 24th century, probably not even in the 21st.
5. The last thing a new CO wants to do is change everything up and unsteady the crew.
6. The Enterprise is an explorer ship with hundreds of civilians aboard. The first thing they would do if they were going into a potential warzone is drop them off at the nearest starbase.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 1:33pm (USA Central)
One of those episodes that has pretensions of philosophical examination but mostly just ends up an action fest. The coverage of the moral obligation of society to re-integrate those it trains to kill in its name is all well and good - but heavy handed and with little real insight. The conclusion - in which Picard leaves the Angorian government to face the prospect of a military coup led by psychologically damaged ringleaders - is an exercise in some fairly morally dubious hand washing.
On the other hand the 2nd act is mostly a fairly involving chase sequence as Danar repeatedly outwits his pursuers in clever ways. With some honest to goodness old fashioned TOS-style fist-fighting too, which we can never get enough of. 2.5 stars.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:48am (USA Central)
Man of the People
I will pay it one compliment though. I thought Frakes did a top notch job, especially in the sickbay scene.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:37am (USA Central)
Man of the People
" 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons."
I'm confused here. The Dorian IS a Federation ship and Alkar requested a second Federation transport. So the Federation DEFINITELY is not sticking it's nose in anybody's business, they are already involved. Heavily.
I'd assume (although I grant, this is an assumption) that Starfleet is responsible for the safety of Federation transports. If the Admiral feels that putting Alkar on another transport will paint a bullseye on it, that's his call to make IMHO.
" 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"!"
I think comparing non interference to murder is grossly overstating your case. That said, I really did not care for this episode either.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:05am (USA Central)
You guys are forgetting something. Although Clone! Voyager's death was tragic and their last mission was a failure. Their existence wasn't pointless and the existentialism messages fails.
First they were able to save life's and to change the universe. They had missions and adventures on their own off screen. That means that they were able to help aliens and now thanks to them people lived and were changed due to them. Their influence on the universe will remain forever as their consequences of their choices.
They also had the chance to love, to laugh, to breath and to be happy. No matter how brief it was, their lives were much better than as mindless silver blood. At the end even if voyager never saw them, even if they were a footnote, they proved that what a matters is our choices to accomplish our goals,. Their brief happiness and their enhanced warp engine proved that
Ergo their lives weren't in vain.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:02am (USA Central)
Man of the People
Wow, this episode was something of a minor miracle. It's horrible, make no mistake, but still rather remarkable. They took a main cast character, put her into mortal jeopardy and yet still managed to get me more concerned over the fate of Alkar's next victim, Liva, than I was over Troi's. That either takes a lot of skill applied in exactly the wrong direction or it's a damning indictment of this episode. Pick your poison.
You know, I actually don't have anything against the character of Troi. She is, ultimately, a useless character; but, I don't think she's a bad character. So, I actually find it rather odd that so, so many Troi-centric episodes end up being so bad. When the best you can say about the character is "hey it's kind of funny because she's doing some crazy shit in this episode," that's not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? And when I can legitimately say that I care more about a character who doesn't even appear until half-way through the episode and even then doesn't play a major role until the final act than I do about Troi, what else can I say about how woefully mis-utilized Troi is as a character?
Then there's the other problems. 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons. 2.) So, Alkar just up and admits to his nefarious designs rather easily, doesn't he? Are we honestly supposed to believe that he is so egotistical that he thinks that Picard - or, well, ANYBODY - is going to agree with his "the ends justify the means" bullshit? Apparently we are because when confronted by Picard with the most flimsy of evidence, Alkar just up and confesses whole hog. WTF?! 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"! 4.) The scenes with the young ensigns (the one who Troi beds and Ensign Janeway, 'no relation'). Sorry, Jammer (again, to each their own) but I didn't find those scenes amusing at all. Good grief, talk about objectification with the male ensign. The story literally treats him as nothing but a piece of meat. We don't even get a name for him (first or last). He isn't even referred to by rank - we only know he's an ensign because he wears ensign's pips. And the scene with Janeway.... Well, I suppose it works to show that Troi is turning unreasonable, but Janeway seems to have legitimate concerns. They might be small concerns but that doesn't make them petty.
Seriously, the only good thing I can even think of in "Man of the People" is the fact that I did, in fact, care about the Liva character. But even that plays a huge role in the hugest problem of the episode. This one was bad.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 9:14am (USA Central)
Realm of Fear
"Realm of Fear" - a lackluster character story with a rather lackluster plot. Another average episode, but this time there are things that I actually can point to that I dislike.
What was the point of this episode? To do a science fiction version of the fear of airplane travel? If that's all it was then I'd probably just say it's average and more on, giving a third episode in a row a 5 score. But I don't think that was the main intention. I think the main goal was to make Barclay look like an idiot. So, he starts seeing his arm glow blue after something funky happens during transport and what is his response? To go to Sickbay, like a rational person? NO. It's to convince himself, with the help of the computer, that he's just hallucinating due to a rare psychological condition. Brilliant! Then, what's his response when he thinks he has a mental problem? To go to Troi for help, again like a rational person would? NO. He decides to just ignore the problem, hope it goes away and actively resist help from Troi when it's offered. Fucking brilliant! Look, I get that Barclay is supposed to be a little neurotic and generally phobic (that's why I like him), but this is just ridiculous. Dude, if your arm is freaking glowing, go see a damn doctor!
Then there's the fact that the resolution almost comes out of left field. There is so little energy and urgency to this plot that I almost forgot about the four missing crew members who turn out to be the entities in the transporter stream. The fact that four missing people are deliberately mentioned early in the episode didn't help either. There's one reference to them and then we're off to spend the rest of the episode on Barclay's stupidity. When Barclay re-materialized with one of them in tow, it took me a while to remember that they were name-dropped earlier. And, Barclay sure seemed to come to the conclusion that the worm-things are really people rather suddenly, didn't he (not to mention that it's never explained why they look like that instead of like people).
But, I am going to be generous to "Realm of Fear" for one scene - the scene of Picard talking to an admiral in the Ready Room. It's a rather unnecessary scene for this anemic story, but I like the fact that it name drops the Cardassians as antagonists for the Federation and Ferengi. DS9 would premier a little less than half-way through this season of TNG and it's nice to see them doing what they can, even in this small way, to set up the Cardassian threat for that show. It's a nice little bit of world-building to throw into the mix. It's so small that it would probably go by unnoticed at the time, but looking back you can see how your subconscious was subtly being prepared for something else. Nicely done!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 7:58am (USA Central)
@John - "his eyes were blinded by race so he couldn't stay objective like he always had been"
In what way? I actually thought his point that the Klingons taking legal action over a COUNTERATTACK was ridiculous and only happening because of racism was quite spot on.
A Klingon that picks up a weapon without expecting to die is a filthy petaq and a coward. Today is a good day to die is what is said whenever they go into battle.
Between this and the trial for Worf in S4 I was getting really sick of the Klingons legal quibbling. Although having seen the series as a whole now I think that it's all part of where the Klingon storyline was ultimately going.
This episode did have problems, and Odo was way too enamored with Laas (who really didn't do that much for me). But I think Odo was correct as to where the justice was.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 5:16am (USA Central)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Underrated. Not a masterpiece, but not a flop.
In both its successes and its failures, TMP is the most "Star Trek" of the TOS films.
As in TOS, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy work perfectly, alone and together. I love the way Kirk gazes lovingly at the Enterprise upon reuniting with it -- I even love when Shatner goes completely over-the-top and actually tears up. I love how Kirk thoughtlessly removes the Enterprise captain from duty because the Enterprise is his ship, damnit. I love the decision to turn McCoy into a hippie pacifist. I love that Spock is cold and distant when he returns. I especially love that while Kirk knows something is wrong, McCoy chalks it up to Spock being a Vulcan.
As in TOS, the characters are tragically under-explored. Kirk's conflict with Deckard just kind of evaporates, and McCoy never really gets a moment to shine. Spock's arc actually has a proper beginning and end, but no real middle -- he has a problem, and he overcomes it, but we don't really get to see him work through it.
Also as in TOS, most of the main cast -- Uhura, Checkov, Scotty, Sulu -- are completely sidelined and do nothing of note.
As in TOS, the plot is haphazard and stretched thin. The long sequence of the Enterprise going too fast serves no purpose other than to pad the running time. It almost pays off in the Kirk-Deckard conflict, which could have been really interesting, but it takes too long and that subplot ends up being pointless.
As in TOS, we have an obvious mystery plot with a twist ending. But TMP does something that TOS did rarely, if ever: the twist is genuinely surprising and at least somewhat effective. TOS had a lot of twist endings, but its best episodes are almost invariably much simpler stories. TMP's twist is kind of hokey -- as in TOS -- but it's also genuinely interesting.
As in TOS, the guest stars stick out awkwardly against the perfect chemistry of the main trio.
As in TOS, we see a character get a tiny bit of development, only to be callously killed off. Also as in TOS, the reaction to the death is horribly understated. When Ilea dies, Deckard -- who we're supposed to think loves her -- just makes a quip at Kirk, and that's the end of that.
As in TOS, the gender politics are clumsy and awkward at best. Practically the first thing Ilea says when she walks onto the bridge is, "My oath of chastity is on record." Um, ok. What?
As in TOS, the film wants to be great sci-fi, with lofty ideas about the future, the development of the human race, our relationship with technology, and the possibility of other intelligences.
As in TOS, it doesn't quite reach its aspirations. TMP wants so badly to be 2001 you almost feel bad for it. I don't mind the slow pace. Hell, I don't even mind that the plot essentially comes to a standstill halfway in. (The film looks beautiful all the way through, and the 2001 ripoff sequence is no exception.) But the standstill overstays its welcome; and, more importantly, it essentially destroys the character interactions which had shown so much promise.
Each of TMP's three acts feels like a separate film. The first act looks like it's going to tell the story TOS always deserved. The second act is visually stunning but otherwise empty. The third act rushes to give the Deckard-Ilea relationship some kind of substance before moving on to the twist ending. Each of these acts has promise, but the second act is clearly the most unlike the other two. Instead of trying in vain to be Stanley Kubrick, the writers should have had some confidence and tried to tell their own story.
I'm willing to overlook a lot of flaws in something that *tries*. I would rather see a deeply-flawed film with high aspirations than a highly-polished film with no substance. This isn't pretension -- insubstantial films simply bore me. As with TOS, TMP had high aspirations -- but it came closer than nearly all of TOS to achieving them. Unfortunately, TMP would be the last time Star Trek had such aspirations.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:23am (USA Central)
Thanks for the review Jammer, as always. I had a question that I would really like an answer to, though. What becomes of the pillar/artifact they discover and take back to the station. It supposedly had clues to Odo's people/origins. Did they ever follow up on this? I thought a stone artifact that could have clues to Odo's origins was a pretty neat idea..Can anyone tell me if it was ever followed up on? Thanks!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:12am (USA Central)
@ William B - "Now, because the personal development with Kira leads to her boning with Ghemour...."
Boning? I think there's a missing letter there, or are you implying that Kira and Ghemour had a much different relationship. LOL!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:03am (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part II
"Part two of "Time's Arrow" is a competent but unremarkable conclusion to the competent but unremarkable part one. If part one felt anemic as cliffhangers go, then at least part two didn't have a high bar to clear to live up to its predecessor. And that's pretty much what it does: lives up to part one without for a minute transcending it."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
This episode is exactly like "Time's Arrow, Part I" - average, average, average. Just about everything I said about Part I could easily be repeated here for Part II. What else really needs to be said?
Well, I'll point out that SFDebris adequately summed up the problems with the villains in his review a while back - we don't even find out their motivations! A lot of people have pointed out how the Twain character gets a little jarring (for me it's the use of him to deliver a rather ridiculous caricature of the 19th/20th centuries as opposed to the "enlightened" - read, leftist - 24th). What really stands out for me, however, is the Picard/Guinan story. This is it?! This is what makes their relationship "beyond friends, beyond family"?! He looked after her once for a few hours while she was mildly injured? Damn, talk about disappointing. This story needed more than that to justify all the mystery this relationship has teased us with for so long. What we get isn't bad, but it really needed to be developed more. I'm just going to assume that their second "first meeting" in the 24th century was something amazing.
Other than that.... yeah....
And since, apparently, we're doing lists in these comments for some reason, here's a few of mine. The TOS episode ones are the only ones set in stone for me since TOS is the only series I've completed in this re-watch. We'll have to wait and see if the rest hold up.
1.) The Wrath of Khan
2.) The Undiscovered Country
3.) The Voyage Home
4.) First Contact
5.) The Search for Spock
7.) The Motion Picture
10.) The Final Frontier
11.) Star Trek into Darkness
12.) Star Trek (2009)
1.) Journey to Babel
2.) The Trouble with Tribbles
3.) Mirror, Mirror
4.) The Conscience of the King
5.) Amok Time
6.) Balance of Terror
7.) The Enterprise Incident
8.) Space Seed
9.) The Doomsday Machine
10.) Bread and Circuses
71.) Assignment: Earth
72.) The Enemy Within
73.) The Omega Glory
74.) The Way to Eden
75.) Spock's Brain
76.) The Apple
77.) And the Children Shall Lead
78.) The Alternative Factor
79.) Mudd's Women
80.) The Mark of Gideon
I don't know what my favorites and least favorites will be for TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT until I'm done with the re-watch. But, I can say that as of right now, my number ones are....
TNG - The Defector
DS9 - In the Pale Moonlight
VOY - Scorpion, Part I
ENT - United
TOS - McCoy
TNG - Data
DS9 - either O'Brien, Kira or Ezri (I can't decide.)
VOY - either The Doctor or Seven of Nine
ENT - either Archer or T'Pol
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 11:48pm (USA Central)
This episode is just ok. For someone who has lived a couple hundred years, Laas sure didn't learn his manners. His arguments also don't make much sense on a station filled with a dozen different races where every one gets along. I think this episode doesn't really do Odo's character justice. He values justice so much more than everyone else, and yet his eyes were blinded by race so he couldn't stay objective like he always had been.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 11:06pm (USA Central)
This was no ratings ploy, as some here have suggested. Sure, every producer wants to put something really strong out there during ratings season, but I was impressed over how wonderfully restrained this episode was. It was a great character study on Barclay, and a fun story to watch unfold... The season was really humming along at this point, as this along with other episodes proved that when the stars align, great writing, acting, and directing all come together to put together an awesome story... Totally agree, 4 stars all the way!
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 8:19pm (USA Central)
I think Elliott's idea about same-sex crew members hooking up would've been neat and could've had some interesting conversations between say Reed and Trip.
REED: So apparently I hooked up with Rivers.
TRIP: Rivers? Really? Huh.
REED: Yeah. what's wrong with Rivers?
TRIP: Nothing, no I just thought maybe you'd be more attracted to someone like Kelby.
REED: Well Rivers is handsome in an unconventional way.
TRIP: You know who would've really made a good match for you? Major Hayes.
(My dialogue is garbage)
I did like the design of the old-Enterprise and thought Lorian was great.
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