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Mon, May 30, 2016, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Latent Image


Please stop. You are a moron. Everyone pretty much is complaining.


This episode deserves 4 stars in my opinion. Always liked the Doctor and when it comes to the argument about is he a real person or not, well, he is not. But this crew is allowing his program to develop and adapt. End the end, it is still a hologram that is prone to malfunctions. Malfunctions that need to be fixed. I think that the crew took a very humane approach by not completely restoring it to the original EMH software. They did the best they could for it. Very intriguing episode.
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Empath

I thought Kathryn Hays did a lovely and convincing job of conveying the character of Gem though facial expressions and body language alone. In particular I liked the scene in which she places her hand on Spock's shoulder, obviously reading his emotional state, then gets a look on her face which clearly communicates that she has found the emotion of caring in the Vulcan.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

I was just reminded today that earlier versions of this story focused on Jake uncovering a conspiracy as a reporter, and in particular that an intermediate draft had him uncovering what Sisko was doing. While I think it was the right decision not to have that happen in this episode given the amount of material there is, I can't tell you how much I would have loved to see the show Go There of having Jake uncovering Sisko's actions ala Watergate, maybe in season seven. Granting for the moment that the fact that Sisko succeeds is part of what makes this episode so chilling, the possibilities of another character, especially Jake, finding out about this and how their image of Sisko would adjust really excite me. An interesting might-have-been.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

@William H., I agree.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Ratings for season seven, some of which differ a little from what I wrote at the time, all of which are (as usual) provisional. In parentheses, the difference between my ratings and Jammer's.

Image in the Sand: 2.5 (-.5)
Shadows and Symbols: 2.5 (-1)
Afterimage: 2 (-.5)
Take Me Out to the Holosuite: 1.5 (-1.5)
Chrysalis: 1.5 (-.5)
Treachery, Faith and the Great River: 3.5 (=)
Once More Unto the Breach: 3 (=)
The Siege of AR-558: 3.5 (-.5)
Covenant: 2 (-.5)
It's Only a Paper Moon: 3.5 (=)
Prodigal Daughter: 1.5 (-1)
The Emperor's New Cloak: .5 (-.5)
Field of Fire: 1.5 (-1)
Chimera: 4 (=)
Badda-Bing Badda-Bang: 2 (-.5)
Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges: 3.5 (-.5)
Penumbra: 2 (-1)
Til Death Do Us Part: 2.5 (-.5)
Strange Bedfellows: 3 (=)
The Changing Face of Evil: 3.5 (-.5)
When It Rains: 3 (=)
Tacking Into the Wind: 4 (=)
Extreme Measures: 2 (=)
The Dogs of War: 2.5 (-.5)
What You Leave Behind: 3 (-.5)

I know that my ratings are on the low side for the "fluff" episodes, and I will think about whether that's fair or not; the ratings are based on my enjoyment combined with some analysis, and in the fluffier episodes my enjoyment level is the biggest barometer, and that's going to be even more subjective than usual. The main place I went up in rating is "Extreme Measures." I...still don't like the way the episode played things, but having thought about what the episode did manage to accomplish with Bashir/Sloan (and Bashir/O'Brien) makes me think that it's ultimately not a failure per se, even though it's still a disappointment to me.

In any case, I'm overall pretty happy with this series, despite having some problems with it. I'd say that the biggest problem I have is that I still feel alienated from Sisko pretty consistently, with a few exceptions. The episodes where I felt most interested in him are probably "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost," "Far Beyond the Stars," and "In the Pale Moonlight." I don't quite know why this is the case. It's ultimately a bit of a weird show, going in many different directions at once, with a lot of threads which don't quite come together and many that do and quite successfully, with many great, memorable characters in its huge extended cast and fantastic episodes. I am sad that this rewatch is over. I might still write some more on some episodes, just as I might go back and write some more on some TOS/TNG episodes.

My girlfriend has expressed some interest in watching Voyager, so I will probably leave a few comments there, depending on how far we go. I did not enjoy Voyager as much as TOS, TNG and DS9 when I was younger, but I will try to keep an open mind; we'll see whether it becomes a full rewatch or just dipping my toe back into the Voyager world.
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Silent Enemy

Really Dr. Phlox, you showed a screenful of your patient's medical records to a person who had no business viewing them, while acknowledging it wasn't exactly the right thing to do? For.. pineapple cake?
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William H
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

I enjoy the episode, but I find the too perfect foresight given to Sloan a problem, and one that pushes the story towards promoting his position, rather than being a balanced look at a moral question.

When the story consistently shows Sloan to judge right, and Bashir to only be able to serve as a helpless patsy, its hard to feel like the story is asking us to believe in Bashir's judgement.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

Just one quick note: I like how all three stories here touch on a theme Ron Moore expands upon in BSG, the question of what a society has to do to *justify* continuing to survive. While it is not quite as large-scale in the Bashir/O'Brien plot, there is some degree of Bashir/O'Brien, Worf and Damar all coming up against the difference between the ideals of their civilization and the reality that complicates it, and in all three cases decide that this is the time they must make a stand. The Worf material is a satisfying close to material that goes back to "Heart of Glory," and the big confrontation at the end on the Jem'Hadar warship keeps several threads going at once. It's really wonderful.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

@Peter G.,

I know I should write more carefully. I actually do think that it's quite likely that Sloan was actually working to recruit Bashir for Section 31 (and unlikely that he only decided to go for that at the episode's very end), and running experiments to test his responses to certain kinds of pressures.

The other read is that I think that the test was, as you suggest in the first, one of Bashir's resolve. It's kind of an entrapment situation -- put someone in a sufficiently difficult situation (in a simulation) until they either:

1) as possible, here, agree that they should go over to the enemy in desperation, with their present life on the line;

2) eventually become convinced that they are a double-agent and sign a false confession; or

3) simply fail to be convincingly patriotic -- behave in a way that is deemed by the investigator to be consistent with how an ordinary person behaves.

However, on 3, I agree that ultimately Sloan is only play-acting the role of the HUAC agent who fails to take into account that innocent people often behave in ways that are consistent with a theory that they are behaving guilty. I just wonder to what extent a sufficiently long session could make someone with a sufficient degree of insecurity agree to a confession, either because they have become convinced of their guilt (or started imagining false memories which they were told were mostly-blocked) or because they come to believe that this is their only option. I think that probably Sloan as presented is too smart to accept a forced confession as any proof, even if the forcing is lighter than the type of false confession we imagine the Cardassians or Romulans might be able to extract. I guess my point is that I think that in duress, people are much more able to be convinced of difficult things and their resolve slips, and I think that being able to distinguish false from true confessions (or judging someone's reaction to a scenario accurately) is something that could still be done wrong. I may, of course, be overstating how breakable people's minds are, but I think that there is the suggestion here (or in "Second Skin," or in "Frame of Mind" for a different example regarding insanity instead of double agentness) that it takes a remarkable strength of will to hold out against psychological assault convincing someone that they have a second buried identity and are mistaken about themselves.

I agree that the episode makes the most sense though if we view Sloan as trying to recruit Bashir, and it is pretty interesting to consider to what extent Section 31 has genetically engineered operatives. That said, given that genetic engineering is not easily detectable -- Bashir went a long time without detection -- I'm not sure that it would be obviously true that Section 31 trained genetically engineered operatives would not be able to be in Starfleet. I wonder how much Bashir was a potential recruit specifically because of his position on DS9 and its centrality to the war...though if that were the case, it becomes odd that the one time Sloan did try to use him was on a mission *away* from the station, albeit one where Cretak was present.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

So, I have already started writing a longish thing on this episode (and, by extension, the closing arc, the season, the series...) but it is hard to pull my thoughts together. I think I will write something short for now, just to get some sense of completion for the moment. Overall, I'm okay with the finale. I don't love it, though I love individual scenes; I don't think it's a failure, though there are certain elements that I consider failures. The Odo/Founder rapprochement and her surrender is a good example of my mixed feelings about the finale. I don't find that element incomprehensible at all, ultimately -- I think that the series as a whole has set up Odo's turning the Founder fairly well, and I have already started on what I think it means and its significance. However, I also agree with, e.g., Ric that the moment falls flat emotionally. I agree with Peter G. above that the writers do understand more or less why the Founder changed her mind after Linking with Odo and that it is probably a mistake to believe that the writers simply boxed themselves in on this particular plot point; I don't really have a problem with it on that particular level. However, as with other elements in the finale, I think it is rushed and lacks some of the poetry that the show has elsewhere. Nor do I think it is wrong for fans to feel unsatisfied with that moment and scene. Most of my feelings about the finale are like that -- that I think that things mostly work, but that due to the amount of material that had to be covered (and some of the material that didn't strictly *have* to be, of course), some things fall flatter than they should, are given less justification than they could, and so on.

For the most part, I think the Cardassia material was strong, especially the series of gut-punches delivered to Garak. (Notably, the focus really does shift away from Damar to Garak as far as Cardassian POV goes early on, which is I think a wise choice since Garak is the more central character.) Garak's final scene with Bashir is my favourite in the episode and maybe the most radical development in the show. It occurs to me that to go from the pitch-black despair, covered with a thin layer of vicious irony which can only barely hold him together, to Vic singing and a long shot of the writers hanging out is a kind of tone whiplash that is incredibly hard to take...but I also feel glad they were willing to accept that tone change. I think that the show was never going to end on that extreme a downer note for the central, opening-cast characters, and so to try to have an ending that does *not* jump from such extremes of experience would basically mean reducing the despair shown in the Garak material, rather than bringing a much more sombre tone to the post-war material, and given that choice I'd rather accept the tone mismatch in order to know that we *have* that Garak scene. Cardassia ends up fighting on the same side of the Federation, but *too late*, and the tragedy that they are ruined on all sides, with both Weyoun and Martok indifferent to their fate, is harrowing. I would like to watch some of the scenes again, especially the laughter-before-the-door open scene, which I think is important insofar as it really does sell how intrinsically Kira has become *one of these guys* and the differences have faded (without her actually forgetting what they, Damar in particular, did), though the gallows humour still felt a little forced when I watched it. The Founder's desperation was particularly well-played, and despite my comments about feeling a little unsatisfied by the Odo/Founder scene, I do like the resonances that it includes -- the way, in particular, Odo comes to the Founder when she is isolated in a bunker, surrounded by enemies, mirrors the way the Founder managed to turn Odo's head in "Behind the Lines" once Odo's "side" was something of a minority with less and less chance any moment.

It's interesting that the people who end up having the most to do dramatically in representing the Federation Side at the end are Kira and Odo. I guess in the end I'm not that concerned that Bajor's entry into the Federation was never secured; I would have certainly liked some dialogue about whether or not there were plans for it underway, even dialogue announcing that it was uncertain. But Kira's ability to be both Bajoran and to take on Federation values, and the way that Starfleet uniform is part of the package that allows her to be able to work with former enemies in the Cardassians, satisfies some of the mythological elements of what Bajor's entry into the Federation would mean without actually having to go through the process. For Odo, well, I said I have started writing about it, and I have, but in summary I think it's tremendously important that he can say and believe that the Federation has its flaws but does not believe in conquest, and I think especially the fact that he owes his cure to Bashir and O'Brien risking their lives is a huge factor...though in the end I feel a bit frustrated that after having the Federation complicit in attempted genocide (it's not just that Section 31 did the virus, but that the Federation then refused to consider even talking about curing them until Odo decided to spontaneously) the argument still rests on the Founder finally seeing the light on Federation goodness. I keep going back and forth on this.

The goodbyes mostly work for me; I do think that aspects of it get excessive, and I find both the song and the montage hard to get through. The way characters are all basically sorted into their own species -- O'Brien, the main human character who is neither mutant nor part Prophet, goes to Earth, Worf to Qo'noS, Odo to his Homeworld, Garak to Cardassia, Rom to Ferenginar, Sisko as part Prophet to the Celestial Temple -- suggests to me the implication that DS9 is a kind of intermediate place, where people grew and changed on their way to (eventually) going back "home." It makes sense to me that Ezri, Julian, and Jake are still on the station, as some of the younger Federation types (who are still growing and becoming in a way that others haven't). Of the goodbyes, Kira/Odo is the most touching but Bashir/O'Brien is also quite affecting, the Quark/Odo ending was a little obvious but still a nice counterpoint, and the little moment between Ezri on the Promenade and Worf was a quiet, understated touch ending a dynamic which was not always dealt with in quiet or understated ways. (Bashir/Garak is a different kind of scene -- the other endings can seem bittersweet, but there isn't much sweet there.) The tone of postwar parting reminds me a great deal of the "M*A*S*H" finale, which I like and which has been not unjustifiably accused of being bloated and sentimental. Despite the fact that the Dominion War was not present at the series' beginning, this whole series has been about something like war -- starting with rebuilding Bajor in the immediate aftermath of devastation, after all -- and the mixed feelings about vicious conflict ending but of people scattering now that this is done mostly come across well, albeit largely only in individual one-on-one scenes. (I was left cold by the party at Vic's, for what it's worth.)

Here is what I have positive to say about the end of the Prophets/Paghwraiths plot: I have felt for a while that Sisko's biggest job with respect to Bajor is to prevent them from self-destructing for a couple of years until they can stand to be themselves. "Covenant," for its flaws, pointed out how Bajorans' desperate need to worship someone can lead them straight back to Dukat, and this has been a common theme in the series, not just that there are Bajoran sectarian conflicts but how quick they are to follow any authoritarian leader (Jarro, Winn, Akorem -- Akorem is not evil but they sure changed everything around for him), and also their desire to lionize people like Opaka, Li and Sisko. "Accession" mostly implied that Sisko's primary job as Emissary was to be an object of worship who doesn't tell the Bajorans to ruin their lives, because if he refuses to fill that vacuum someone else will. So the act of Sisko destroying Dukat and himself in the process seems to me to be symbolic of finally ridding Bajor of its need for a dictator (the psychosexual element of Winn sleeping with Dukat being the ultimate metaphor of Bajoran's desire to go back to the simplicity of following blindly some dictatorial figure) or even a figure of worship -- Sisko remains The Emissary, presumably, to Bajorans, but is now just an idea rather than someone whose job it is to use his near-absolute power over Bajoran hearts and minds a moderate rather than excessive amount.

In the end, this was the big risk for Bajor since the beginning -- for Sisko and the Federation to swallow Bajoran identity wholesale. Sisko and the Federation would be benevolent more so than Dukat and Cardassia (who only saw himself as benevolent), but basically it would be impossible in season one for Bajor to join the Federation as an equal member state rather than as a desperate supplicant. For Kira to be both member of Starfleet and member of Cardassian resistance while also maintaining her Bajoran identity is the way to show that Kira, and thus Bajor as a whole, may now be able to enter the Alpha Quadrant as an equal to other powers. Bajor maybe will or maybe won't join the Federation, but hopefully it will be as an equal. And for that to happen Kira needs to be in charge of DS9, Bajor finally in charge of its own fate, though DS9 remains as multinational as it ever was with no contradiction between Kira being in charge (and being Bajoran in a Bajoran uniform) and Starfleet, the Bajorans, neutral agents like Quark etc. still being involved in the upkeep. The last shot of Kira and Jake links the two as "children" of Sisko who are now grown up.

That Kira is, in addition to taking on Sisko's role, also to some degree taking on Odo also suggests what lessons Odo brought her as well; it occurs to me that Kira's dedication to Odo despite his working for Cardassians and seeing him (for a time) as somehow above the fray of the Occupation, and her falling in love with him as her first non-Bajoran true love, maybe indicates that Odo is the key to Kira learning to see things beyond *just* being a Bajoran; he is the first alien she loved, and that includes an eventual recognition of the alienness of his morality, too. (I think by "When it Rains," Kira knows on some level that Odo was sort of a collaborator, despite her statements to the contrary, hence some of the rage after Rusot's dude suggests the point and the way she says "You don't have to answer that"; it's just that her recognition that Odo really was doing his best given how isolated he was is more important to her than that.)

There is presumably more to say about the Sisko/Dukat/Winn story and Sisko's becoming a Prophet and his conversation with Kasidy and his notable ABSENCE of conversation with Jake (or, frankly, Kira), and I want to, I do, but I've said most of what I have nice to say about it. Really, it might just be that I still don't really understand what this story is supposed to be, and I should take some more time for reflection. I do feel very bad for Jake and for Kasidy, especially because the direction and scoring keep referencing "The Visitor," where Sisko learned how devastating his being dead-but-not-quite-dead was on Jake, effectively ruining his life, and so it bothers me a lot that Sisko plays that "maybe a year, maybe yesterday" card (and also fails to say goodbye to his son), in a way I suspect was not actually intended. But I know that some of it is just that I have a hard time understanding what Sisko's ascension to apparent godhood is supposed to mean in the first place, because I still have a hard time telling to what extent this is supposed to be theology, to what extent it's supposed to be weird powerful alien stuff and how much it's a weird mixture of the two and to what extent it's something else entirely. To me the arc just reads as pretty tragic; rather than coming to a greater understanding or something, it seems to me that Sisko just becomes more and more passive in accepting what the Prophets tell him to do, except for his periodic rebellions which don't seem that convincing for some reason; his credulousness seems more and more cultish as time goes on. Whereas Odo is given an ending where he rejoins his people (with pretentions of godhood) and leaves his loved one, it is still clear that there is a two-way exchange -- Odo gets what he has wanted in reconnecting to his people but he also is there to heal his people and to hopefully change them to become less hostile to the whole universe. I guess we know that Sisko convinced the Prophets to wipe out that Dominion fleet that time, so I shouldn't complain, but "Sarah's" cryptic pronouncements read more and more like explicit manipulation as I watch them, which Sisko increasingly consents to. Peter G.'s interpretation ("Shadows and Symbols" thread) that because Sisko is part Prophet the mythological story here is that Sisko's faith in them becomes faith in himself does intrigue me and I will continue to ponder it.

With regards to the Dukat side of things, the main lesson seems to be that deep down, he's super-duper evil, and the Dukat-Paghwraiths combo want to set the Quadrant on fire, and...I don't know guys, I don't even know. I really do feel like much of the Dukat material, starting in "By Inferno's Light" but especially post-"Waltz," is an attempt to remind the audience how evil Dukat is, but, like, okay, got it; what else do you have to say about Dukat besides that he's evil? Aspects of his seduction of Winn were interesting and I already laid out what I think the Sisko/Dukat Holmes/Moriarty self-other destruction were about, but otherwise it still plays out as goofy, especially in the way the dialogue really tries to sell this as the payoff to a series-long Sisko/Dukat arc. At least we didn't get a reveal that Dukat's mother was possessed by a paghwraith. I do like that the episode pays homage to "Where No Man Has Gone Before," for what it's worth. I'm trying to practice a little humility now and again, so I'm willing to admit that there is artistic merit I am not seeing. I did like Winn poisoning Dukat though, that was rad.

So I ended up writing a fair amount anyway. I guess I like this finale more than I don't, but I do find it choppy in tone and with several endings I find quite questionable in execution and, well, concept, too, though I admit that I might just not be able to parse it correctly right now. I was originally going to say 2.5 stars or so, but what it does well it does well enough that I think I can recommend it. I will say 3 stars, I guess. As with all my ratings, it is provisional, etc., etc., I can never make up my mind about anything, but overall I am happy with most of where the characters ended up, think that the melancholy, bittersweet feeling is appropriate to the series, and found several moments to be exceptional.
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KB Murphy
Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Night

I'm enjoying these reviews while watching the show for the first time since it aired (I don't think I saw most of seasons 4-7 so I know they get home but don't remember how).

I have lived with people suffering depression most of my life and I found Janeway's actions consistent with my experience. The point about depression is that people act atypically. The lack of ship's counselor has been a major plot hole that could have been used throughout the series. Most ships would have people who might be interested in the role and who could "go to school" in the holodeck to develop their skills.

In fact, the whole ship's counselor ethos in TNG era shows always bothered me because it clearly showed the idea that they were still dividing health care into mind and body elements. The new fields of study like neuroscience and epigenetics are showing us that one cannot view human health as a set of silos.

The doctor in ENT offers hints of the way medicine may be practiced in our future.

At any rate, I found Janeway's depression consistent with the weaknesses she has displayed in the past. I thought the writers did a reset with Tuvoc and Chakoty's relationship. Now, as Jammer often points out, it will be interesting to see if that change persists. I do think that the "mutiny" may help the captain accept that she cannot redeem her past actions and that she is accepted--warts and all--by her crew--that she is "not alone" (as she commented in Scorpion).
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Peter G.
Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

@ William B,

When you suppose that Bashir might have failed "the test", what do you think the test was in that context? What could Bashir have 'failed'?

It seems to me there are two possibilities. One is the mundane one, which is that Sloan was vaguely testing to see whether Bashir would consciously opt to take shelter with the Dominion and help Weyoun if it appeared that Starfleet was turning against him. This test in itself would be lame, except that there is a better possibility, which would to test how strong Bashir's resolve was the the Federation should surrender to the Dominion (from Statistical Probabilities). In that episode he stops Jack from undermining Starfleet despite his view that Jack was fundamentally correct that Starfleet should surrender. The one thing apparently stopping Bashir was his oath to Starfleet, so maybe Sloan wondered whether Starfleet turning their backs on him would nullify that oath in Bashir's eyes and reopen the concept of trying to get the Federation out of the war. Even so, if we're to take the end of Statistical Probabilities seriously then it would appear that Bashir legitimately saw the error of his ways and learned his lesson, in which case this kind of test would be somewhat redundant. But in this scenario Bashir could potentially fail the test by reverting to his earlier conclusion that the Federation must surrender.

The other possibility, which I think was actually the case, was that Sloan wanted to recruit Bashir and had precisely one concern about him, which was that the Dominion could have broken him in the prison camp and used his enhanced mind to be a sleeper agent. If this was the test then Bashir's conscious loyalty wasn't the issue, and the sole issue was whether the Dominion actually broke him or not. This isn't the type of test Bashir could fail despite being innocent, since his mind was either altered or it wasn't. In this scenario Sloan was just verifying a fact, and Bashir wouldn't be able to 'screw up' the result. The question is, how could Sloan decide that he had verified one way or the other based on his test? The answer to this is probably more startling than the actual content of the episode.

For Sloan to know that this type of procedure could undo a mental compartmentalization he would have to have understood the procedure for both implanting that type of conditioning and removing it as well. I think it goes without saying Sloan has encountered agents of this type before, and deprogrammed them as well, so he would know how far he could go before it was apparent that no conditioning on Bashir had been done. But it gets better. Sloan specifically comments on how Bashir's enhanced mind was specially suitable for that type of reprogramming, which directly implies that Sloan has dealt with agents before who were genetically enhanced, and even has direct knowledge about attempts to compartmentalize someone's mind when they are, and when they are not genetically enhanced. This means that Section 31 has either employed, or at the very least, had to deal with this conditioning before. It also means that Section 31 almost certainly has or had agents in its employ that were enhanced like Bashir. I would even go further than this and suggest that Section 31 would have no problem with going ahead and *creating* genetically enhanced people and training them from a young age to work for them. Now that I think about it I would be surprised if they didn't do this. Their main problem would be that such people wouldn't officially be allowed to serve in Starfleet and would have to work for 31 off the books, whereas Bashir has a prominent post in Starfleet and therefore had access that a civilian wouldn't.

All this to say, I think we should take very seriously the fact that Sloan singled out Bashir to be a potential agent when they no doubt have many agents already who are more compliant and versed in intrigue than Bashir is. But none of them were in Starfleet and none had a reputation for trustworthiness that a spy would need as capital.
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William B
Mon, May 30, 2016, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

Luke's getting to this episode makes me want to say a thing or two more about it --

One of the things I find interesting about this episode is the bait-and-switch it employs -- as Luke just pointed out, it starts off as something of a "The Drumhead" story, in which we feel the walls closing in on Bashir, which doubles as both

1) an extreme interrogation method, not (physical) torture, but some pretty deep psychological games, which obviously ditches due process entirely and, like Satie (and Worf), uses not just questionable methods but questionable logic to implicate Bashir; and then

2) a switch wherein it is revealed that it is an even deeper, more secret, less due-process-filled organization behind it...but which nevertheless, in the character of Sloan, is willing to drop his case against Bashir, having been convinced by him.

So to some extent the Drumhead-trial level is just a ruse of Sloan's, and he *apparently* was less convinced than he actually had appeared to be that Bashir was a spy. He was pretending to use those tactics, basically, rather than actually using them. But think a bit more and we are left wondering, as Bashir is, how close Bashir came to failing Sloan's test, *regardless of whether or not Bashir was actually guilty*. Sloan appears more competent than Bashir had expected, which is a bit of a clever dodge around the obvious problem with what Sloan is doing, but it's also noteworthy that the guilt-by-association type arguments used against Bashir couldn't still be used to ensnare him (and frankly couldn't be used to ensnare innocents). It is possible we are meant to take on faith that Section 31 really is good at what they do and doesn't make mistakes, but I tend to think it's that Section 31 is better at what they do than we are used to in shady conspiratorial organizations, but there is still the big risk. Anyway I tend to see this more as an introduction to Section 31 than a big statement on them, especially since they are only revealed at the very end and Sloan has mostly not actually tipped his hand that much.

While Sloan puts a friendly spin on it, I actually wonder how close Bashir came to failing the "test," despite not actually being guilty of being a Dominion agent.
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Alex (in the UK)
Mon, May 30, 2016, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Perhaps O'Brien simply preferred Scotch. :)
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Alex (in the UK)
Mon, May 30, 2016, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Progress

... and I completely forgot to say I find the B-story utterly charming.

@Luke, I think DS9 is generally kindly predisposed to trade and the free market. In "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" Nog's barter and trade goes to a new level!
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Alex (in the UK)
Mon, May 30, 2016, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Progress

Interesting to see that some people disliked this episode. I like it. I find it to be a winner because at the very least it makes you think.

I subscribe to the view that conflict (not necessarily involving violence, but at least opposing points of view) provides the power in good drama.

Here we have the conflict of interests between the settlers and the vague millions that will benefit from the power generated by the project. Yes, the story is somewhat flawed - trashing a habitable moon to produce power does seem insane. That said I seem to recall that most of Bajor's moons are habitable to some degree and there is no shortage of habitable planets in Trek.

Earlier comments have been along the lines of "why can't the Federation provide plant and equipment to produce sufficient power?" Well, there'd be no story if it were that simple. Realistically the replicator is a simplistic idea and scarcity will probably always exist in some form or other. If you want post-scarcity science fiction that is all well and good but it doesn't speak very well to common contemporary issues and Trek has never really been post-scarcity.

As to the idea that post-Occupation Bajor should abhor violence and respect civil liberties, if you pay attention to the way real world societies have coped with occupation, colonialism and oppression many broke down completely when the occupying forces withdrew. Sometimes occupying forces restrain other forces from coming into play. That's not a justification for occupation or colonialism but it does happen. If anything it is unrealistic that Bajor becomes a prosperous and peaceful world so quickly without suffering many setbacks in the form of coups, factional violence, conflicts of ideas, etc. Thankfully the series does provide some realistic expressions of these (e.g. The Circle) though within the arc-based format the series took such conflicts don't last particularly long.

In my opinion "Progress" is a good episode that succeeds in telling the story they wanted to tell and doesn't come across too preachy. There are multiple ways of interpreting the moral dimension and I actually like that both sides have legitimate arguments. I like my drama to have shades of grey.
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

Jammer's constant DS9 inflections are getting old. Please refrain from comparing DS9 to Voyager. It is clear that DS9 was your favorite series and that you despise, for the most part, Voyager in all aspects.
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

It seems wierd for the federation to help a society who believes in slavery.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 30, 2016, 11:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Maybe in the future Scotland and Ireland unified? Or maybe the writers don't know the difference between Scotch and Irish whiskey... Actually I don't know of a difference except in name, since they're produced the same way.
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William H
Mon, May 30, 2016, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Doesn't O'Brien mostly go on about Scotch? Which... isn't very Irish?
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 4:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Loved this episode! Good entertainment, although I wonder how the station gets by with all or most of its senior staff spending a significant amount of time in the holosuite.

As a musician, I found the music in this episode genious - The usual DS9 theme transformed into big band feelgood-jazz. Nice!
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:57am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Scientific Method

All these years later, I enjoyed this episode too. Thought it was so creepy to see the aliens walking around torturing the crew (shades of lots of other shows including X-files and Buffy--remember when she does that ritual after Dawn arrives and sees her entire house in a distorted way?--but still so creepy, esp. when Seven first sees them). Of course, I'm viewing this thru the lens of nostalgia. (Tere were a lot of TNG eps that I initially disliked but changed my mind about later mainly, I think, due to the nostalgia of rewatching a show that reminded me of an earlier period of my life).

Of course you can nitpick, e.g. why would such an advanced species have such medieval looking devices? (Well, I know why: because you need the audience to see what's happening.) I thought the fact that the aliens were so human looking and so calm and seeming reasonably extra chilling, and had no problem in imagining a technologically superior race that would behave so cruelly.
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:48am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Future's End, Part I

Just came back to correct an error: it wasn't Maggie Wheeler (Janice from Friends) who was in this episode of Voyager but comedian Sarah Silverman. Ooops!
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Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

Is Section 31 anti-Roddenberry? You're damn right it is?! And know what? I really don't care. In fact, I applaud "Inquisition" for just that reason. Sorry, Gene was a phenomenal story-teller who cooked up a wonderful universe for us all to play in, but he was also quite a fucking loon most of the time. No interpersonal conflict? No medium of exchange? "Love counselors" instead of marriage vows? Ferengi with gargantuan cod-pieces? The entirety of TNG: "The Neutral Zone"? Yeah, he could be a real hack sometimes. It's nice to know that "Deep Space Nine" was written and produced by actual adults who understand the concept of "moral grey areas" instead of starry eyed Roddenberry-esque children.

For the first few acts, the episode plays like a remake of TNG:" The Drumhead". That's not a bad thing, as "The Drumhead" was one of the best episodes of that series. However, it ends as the complete opposite of that episode, which I also don't think is a bad thing. Both plots appear to be the same, someone from Starfleet shows up and is driven by personal reasons to uncover a conspiracy that most likely isn't there. The differences set in at around the half-way point, because while Admiral Satie used outrageous arguments to justify herself - thereby making herself the obvious villain - Sloan offers arguments that are, at least, plausible. In fact, they are so plausible (even using direct continuity with several previous episodes) that the audience honestly can begin to wonder if he may be correct - especially when you remember that something very similar was done to LaForge in "The Mind's Eye" (he was abducted by the Romulans, mentally broken and turned into a Romulan agent without his knowledge) and even more so once Bashir is kidnapped by Weyoun. The major difference is that "The Drumhead" ended with a Picard Speech concerning due process and "Inquisition" ends with Sloan saying such a position is naive.

Let me make one thing crystal clear, this is an interesting moral argument and it absolutely has to be discussed. The problem with Roddenberry's vision of the future is that for it to work you have to pretend a lot of things simply don't exist (like basic Human nature and needs). If Star Trek really is supposed to be a franchise about exploring the Human Condition then Gene's rules are simply counter-productive or outright in the way. In the real world there are organizations like Section 31 that act in very similar ways. How are we supposed to move past the obvious need for these groups if we're not allowed to have a mature conversation about them?

And speaking of mature conversations.... that's exactly what this episode is. Sloan is actually allowed to make reasonable arguments. He is not just a delusional madman or someone who is clearly the villain (like Satie). He is allowed to hold his own against Bashir and, at times, even comes across as the more sophisticated of the two. But what makes this so mature and adult is that the writers, while clearly coming down on the side of "Section 31 is bad" (see the episode's coda), allow the audience to make up their own minds. Nothing is force-fed to the audience here. Another wonderful example of this same type of argument is the movie "Captain America: Civil War", which makes really strong and compelling arguments in favor of an organization somewhat similar to Section 31.

Given that "Inquisition", VOY: "The Omega Directive" and "In the Pale Moonlight" all aired within two weeks of each other, I'd say Trek writers were really ready to abandon the "Roddenberry Box".


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Mon, May 30, 2016, 2:31am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night

"Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" is an episode that oh so desperately wants to be as good as previous Kira-centric episodes like "Second Skin" and "Ties of Blood and Water". In many respects, it succeeds in that quest brilliantly. However, in one aspect it fails spectacularly.

First, how does it succeed. It's greatest strength is that it challenges Kira's black-and-white view of the world. Kira has always been prejudiced against any Bajoran who cooperated with the Cardassians on any level instead of joining the Resistance. Up until now she has always used the term "collaborator" as little more than a slur, a damning indictment against anyone who cooperated during the Occupation. But that viewpoint fails to take into account the fact that some collaborators only cooperated because they had no other choice. Sure, some became collaborator for purely selfish reasons - like the utterly despicable Basso - and they rightly deserve absolutely no sympathy. Meru and the other "comfort women", however, are a different story entirely. I understand and sympathize with Meru's choice at every stage because this is what most people would do. Most don't have Kira's fiery brand of determined self-confidence. Most would try to make the best of a bad situation. And look at it from Meru's perspective. She isn't thinking about broad political realities or possible futures; she's only thinking of the here and now, of how to provide for her children. That may make her weak (as Jammer says) and extremely vulnerable but it also makes her very.... well.... Human. So, do I feel sorry for Meru? You bet I do! Given that, however, I also love that Kira doesn't offer up a pat, sentimental ending for us in the episode's coda. Having her simply forgive Meru without a second thought simply wouldn't have worked for her character. With her ingrained hatred of collaborators, this revelation is something she would naturally have to mull over for quite some time.

So, how does the episode fail. In one word - Dukat. Having Dukat be the one who kept Meru as a "comfort woman" is just wrong on SO many levels. First, it destroys the "relationship" between Kira and Dukat. His desire to get into Kira's pants has always been somewhat creepy. But now the writers take that creepiness and crank it straight up to eleven! All those previous encounters now don't look like a man desperately seeking Bajoran approval, they look like a man who just wants to bone a woman whose mother he boned many, many times. Ewwwww! Second, it takes established continuity out behind the woodshed and whips it mercilessly until it is unconscious. For starters, it's been established that Dukat was Prefect of Bajor for the final ten years of the Occupation. That means that Kira travels back 16 years into the past (not 30-35 like Jammer states). Given Nana Visitor's age, it would have to be 30-35 years but just doesn't jive with what we know about the Occupation. That means that present-day, Season Six Kira is, at most, 21 years old. So, how old was she in "Emissary"? 15?! I DON'T THINK SO!! In addition, it simply does not work with Ziyal's backstory. If this is 16 years in the past, then Dukat should be "keeping house" with Tora Naprem - Ziyal's mother. Since Ziyal was 19 when she first appeared in "Indiscretion", that means she's 3 when Dukat first "seduces" Meru. Where the hell are these two women?!

All of this could have been avoided, and the episode would have been immensely stronger for it, if it had been some other Cardassian that Meru was "collaborating" with. If it was, for instance, an officer at the refugee camp that kidnapped Meru away and make her his "comfort woman" we could have avoided all of these glaring continuity errors and still had the emotional struggle of Kira remain intact. Present-day Dukat could still be the one who gets the ball rolling by letting Kira know just to be a bastard. If it had been, say, Dukat's second-in-command we could have even included some Ziyal material - with Kira having to befriend and understand the motivations of both Meru and Naprem (not to mention seeing baby Ziyal). But the writers just couldn't help but make Dukat the central bad guy, could they?

10/10 for Meru. 2/10 for Dukat and his oddly bright space station (seriously, isn't the station supposed to be dark and foreboding during the Occupation days? It looked like the lights were turned up higher than when the Federation is in control).

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