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Pat - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 11:01pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

DS9's biggest weakness was always Avery Brooks. Scenes between him and Kassidy or Jake, when he lets out that little giggle of his, are near unwatchable. So the fact that his arc is the least satisfying isn't at all surprising. But this episode is still able to be great because the other actors do such terrific jobs. As usual, Andrew Robinson is a cut above the rest as Garak. He way always able to convey so much while saying so little, which is difficult for any actor, let alone one in pounds of makeup and prosthetics on his face. 4 outta 4 stars
Pat - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 10:31pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

I always felt that when Riker is in the fantasy, the scenes on the ship feel different in someway from normal scenes. I always wondered if they used different lighting for those scenes but I've never been able to see anything specific. Maybe the music is enough to produce that eerie feeling. In any case, it all came together with a great performance by Frakes. 4 outta 4 stars for sure.
John G - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 10:28pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S3: Zero Hour

Good episode ruined by the idiotic ending. The Xindi story arc has already been way too long. Finally the war is won and Earth is safe and then suddenly the crew is in the middle of WWII?

I don't know if I will bother watching season 4 after this garbage.
Pat - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 10:26pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Game

You all are being too tough on Wesley. I'm not a fan of him saving the day (who is?) but in this particular case, it actually works pretty well. The things he does when he's running from the entire crew are all very Wesley Crusher type things, like the site to site transporters and the phaser pulse into force field. Ashley Judd being cute as hell definitely helped too. To me the episode is pretty fun. I give this episode 2.5 outta 4 stars.
jason - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 10:09pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Fascination

is it just me or does this have a lot in common with the naked and the naked now, especially with the crew losing their minds and trying to have sex with each other?
Damian - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 9:47pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

I miss DS9. Thank the Prophets for Netflix. I would have LOVED to have seen an eighth season - the Federation rebuilding from the war; Bajor adjusting to all the changes it's been through in the last few years; the aftermath of the Pagh-Wraith cult; the reconstruction of Cardassia; what happened with the Fed/Romulan alliance post-war; etc. etc... Sigh!
William B - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 7:59pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: The Alternate

Re: Sisko's father:

This reminds me of a joke on "Frasier." On "Cheers," Frasier had told Sam that his father was dead, long before the idea of Frasier starring in his own spin-off had come up. When his spin-off did happen, Frasier's father was introduced as a living cast member. So when Sam visited Frasier on his own series and was introduced to his father, he immediately said that he thought Frasier had said that his father was dead. Martin (Frasier's father): "You said I was dead?" Frasier: "I was mad at you!" A good way to turn a continuity error into a joke by confronting it directly. (Somewhat similar to the famous "we do not discuss it with outsiders" joke from "Trials and Tribble-ations.")
William B - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 7:57pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: The Alternate

Enter Dr. Mora Pol. The Mora/Odo relationship is the focus of this episode, including what initially appears to be an unrelated monster movie B-plot but turns out to be explicitly about Odo's feelings about Dr. Mora. The plot itself is nothing much to speak of, and it is indeed pretty weak. However, while both this and, say, "Armageddon Game" have weak plotting elements and good character development, I ultimately prefer this because the plot really is integrated into the character work, making the stakes high in ways specific to the characters rather than as a purely external device. "Alien gas has weird effects" is a dumb idea, but fundamentally the problem is created because of deeply buried feelings Odo has, and the problem is resolved through Mora's familiarity with Odo and his opening his mind to what he does *not* know.

James Sloyan -- excellent in all his various Trek roles -- is wonderful in his interactions with Auberjonois, and creates a portrait of a man who has just the right set of contradictions. He sees Odo as a son and a science project; he knows Odo better than anyone in some respects and is blind to some of the most obvious signals Odo gives off; his words of encouragement have the natural effect of pushing Odo back into his shell. I love how Mora correctly recognizes more clearly than Odo does that Odo sets himself apart from others because he feels he has to and only retroactively justifies it as "what he wants", and yet at the same time is totally unable to see how his needling Odo about this just makes Odo grind his heels more. I think that one of the most telling moments in the episode for where Odo's distrust of others (and himself?) comes from is toward the end, when Mora secretly informs Odo that Mora knows that Odo is his sample, and then makes the argument that Odo's friends on the station would *never* accept him knowing this. In many ways this is an exaggeration of a particularly anxious parent's response -- "I want to protect you by poisoning your ability to trust others, because I know that none of them can love you as I do" -- which has the secondary effect of ensuring that the child comes back with them. Mora, who was a scientist during the Occupation and very likely had to work hard to keep Odo out of the Cardassians' hands (I wonder if part of the reason he insisted on Odo doing the Cardassian Neck Trick was a recognition that being a lovable clown is the best way to reassure the Cardassians that Odo was neither a threat, nor a creature they can [ab]use for their own purposes), distrusts everyone but himself when it comes to Odo, while also criticizing Odo for failing to open up to others. His desire to see Odo blossom makes him critical -- or, worse, surprised at every indication of Odo's success; his desire to see Odo safe makes him try to make Odo afraid. And he is completely unaware of these behaviours.

Mora's little speech on the similarities between scientists and lawmen also serves to highlight the ways in which Odo, overall, takes after Mora. Despite his frustrations, we know that Odo values Mora because he patterned his physical appearance after him (though he couldn't get the ears right!) and shrinks in Mora's presence. Mora's cluelessness about how his "friendly" advice about what is best for Odo would actually affect Odo comes down, in part of course, to being a parent, but also in part to being a *scientist*. Just as Odo falls into the trap of believing that his desire for JUSTICE gives him some sort of superpower of objectivity (which he even attributes, in the "Necessary Evil" logs, to perhaps his species), Mora's training as a scientist makes him see himself primarily as an observer, and an objective and dispassionate one at that. He is not quite depicted as the type of scientist like, say, Bashir, who lacks social skills altogether, but Mora's background of viewing himself as an investigator into Odo's nature makes him unable to turn the microscope back on himself and recognize how many of Odo's "flaws" are the result of his own behaviour -- his own stubbornness and certainty of his own objectivity and infallibility -- as *well* as to what extent their mutual desire for the truth and their dedication to hard work means that Odo has learned some of his surrogate father's best traits as well.

While we don't actually get much information about Odo's origins here -- a bit of a disappointment, though people who have watched ahead know what's coming -- I do think the idea that Odo would subconsciously desperately want to destroy the lab very cool. Odo's inability to get through to Mora exactly how traumatic his upbringing was, and (more to the point) how lonely he still felt even around Mora, culminates when the id-Odo essentially tries to murder Mora. Mora's recognition that Odo *wants him*, and his rejection of "RF power"-type tech solutions in favour of the personal, emotional one also signals Mora's full willingness to regard Odo as a person as well as, well, an "unknown sample" to be treated scientifically; and his willingness to risk his life so that Odo can be trapped (and hopefully not killed) is real proof of his feelings for Odo which Odo can actually see and understand. And I like the idea that once Odo expresses his anger the only way that is possible -- through alien gas, ha -- there is the possibility open for real communication between these two.

That Odo actually does turn out to be the killer monster and is still forgiven also helps address one of Odo's big fears -- that he will, if he steps too far afield of what the solids approve of, be destroyed. Mora's fears, which he somewhat projected onto Odo, are wrong -- at least with the station personnel. Odo is regarded as a sick, lonely person affected by alien material, rather than an evil maniac/monster to be destroyed. And in a lot of ways I think that it's good for Odo's rigid moral code for him to find out that he has some destructive urges that he didn't quite recognize. I think Odo knew he was angry at Mora, but I don't think he fully knew *how* angry, and his guilt over having hurt Mora, and Mora's *forgiveness* of Odo, probably help Odo along in understanding that there are grey areas in "justice."

The monster stuff is indeed a bit silly and has a B-movie quality, but it doesn't take up much of the episode, and it is used to good effect to spur a change in the relationship between Odo and Mora, which also helps move Odo along further on his series long arc. 3 stars.
Bill - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 5:07pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S1: Balance of Terror

Yep, 4 stars for me. I give it that for all the little things, too, like after the briefing the way Sulu tracks just behind Kirk, both faces grim set in determination--it lasts only a few seconds by I found it captivating both in its effortlessness and its portrayal of a war-time commander with his tactical officer on their way to battle. Or McCoy's counsel to Kirk in his quarters, even as he enters the room maintaining a smile in the midst of the possible horror about to unfold. I guess I was more focused on those aspects than on what hats the Romulans were wearing.
Eli - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 1:21pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S1: Caretaker

After re-watching this original episode, I still enjoyed it thoroughly. The show offers an interesting, morally ambiguous conflict that provides the crew with good opportunities for personal growth and heroism.

Re: criticisms

I completely agree with Tim (Nov. 2014). It's not fair to suggest that Voyager leave a time delayed bomb. As he pointed out 1) The technology is complicated and time consuming to set up, and 2) they are under attack. I would add 3) Voyager is not familiar with the technology and 4) it would be extremely tricky and complicated to ensure the bombs and the space travel machine were perfectly in sync. After all, they would have to be careful to delay the detonation of the bombs very soon after they left, otherwise the Kazon could disable them.

Also, Janeway's decision to destroy the array adds moral and intellectual complexity to the story. Take that decision away and the conflict is less interesting.

I do think, however, that the reason for blowing up the array could have better explained. In my view the Voyager crew should blow up the array because otherwise the gangster Kazon (or another threatening group) would be in control of the most powerful technology in the galaxy and be a threat to everyone. Destroying the array is not simply a matter of saving the Ocampa; it is also necessary for the safety of the galaxy.
navamske - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 12:26pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S7: The Pegasus

@Dave in NC

"Not to be specie-ist, but if the Klingons understand cloaking technology, how hard can it be to master? Why would the Federation allow itself to be hamstrung this way?"

Because the script demanded it. No other explanation is plausible, especially "Well the Feds were taking the high road."
Aine - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 8:48am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

I thought the sexism was nightmarish, but I still wouldn't have given this zero stars. In fact, I thought it was given zero stars as disapproval against the blatant endorsement of workplace sexual harassment by the writers (it's one thing for the Quark character to do/say what he does, it's another thing for the writers to endorse that completely).

Nancy and others covered the main problems with this. I think the redeeming points for this episode are:

1) Lumba kisses a man and there's no revulsion etc around it. The romance is also not something Quark-Lumba regrests or is homophobic about. (Although the rape-as-love trope continues in both storylines.)

2) Quark arguing the case for females to earn profit (though again, with very stupid logic that should have been self-evident on Day 2 of Ferenginar, but still)

3) Odo-Quark hug was kind of fun to watch, even though Quark is basically hyper-stereotyping 'female emotions' etc.

4) While the transgender scenes are FAR from what we could easily expect from Trek (Consider Dax as a transgender character for instance), it's still 'something' to have that on screen (and I felt the review's absolute hatred for watching this - while tolerating other similarly bad stories might have been fed by this :p)

I didn't like Worf's line or any of those Ferengi-hating lines that randomly show up as a normal thing, as if it's 'funny' to be dismissive and derogatory of an entire race. The best counter-scene to this is in one of the early episodes of one of the seasons when Quark tells Sisko that humans only hate on Ferengi's because they remind them of what humans used to care about, and yet Ferengis NEVER DID all the terrible things humans did, historically.

The amount of hatred directed at Ferengis is pretty nauseating. You won't see that kind of dismissive hatred directed at the tall, white, changelings now, would you? :p
Aine - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 7:43am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

This was such a weird episode - it seemed to have a lot of dramatic potential and nothing much happened. All the interesting stuff seemed to have already happened - had they been captured or something then there could have been something.

The plot also. What happened to that message to the Grand Nagus? Why that opening montage? What happened to the 8 month's mission results? It's all a waste? So what's the contribution of this 'dramatic' episode to the storyline? Absolutely nothing!
Aine - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 6:24am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: His Way

Sad to hear that Vic ever comes back - way too much complacent, annoying screen time.

The Odo/Kira kiss looked so painful to watch - almost like some clamp was being shoved on something.

Odo had some pretty nice moments (the Sisko office singing), but I completely agree with the review that said that they had a complex comrade/siblingy dynamic which was way more moving than the Trek romances ever seem to get. It was such a great contrast to the way some of the characters would sexualize Kira, while Odo always appreciated her for her strength etc. It honestly just felt as if because a 'male' (haha changeling gender by the way!) and a female are friends, the story has to spin them into a romance. Look at Sisko and Dax - works so much better as friends.
DG - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 6:23am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

Noggra's face when he says "Your name is Rodek... So don't worry!!!" he just seems so freaking happy about it tot he point where I almost want a whole episode just about what the heck Noggra's life is like that he's THAT happy to have another kid.
romemmy - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 2:33am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Return to Grace

Um.. is it just me or is no one wondering how they are operating the bird of prey without its command codes? Sure, the computers may be unlocked (since they were using them), but being a military vessel it's highly unlikely you don't need codes/passwords to access a significant number of functions on board! Without the codes (and thus the ability to change them) the Klingons should be able to override the computers and take the ship back.

None of them were, as far as we know, capable of hacking the computers (stands to reason that the Cardassians wouldn't waste a valuable technical resource on a freighter, and neither Kira, Ducat or Damar are engineers).

Of course it's another example of rules (and common sense) going out the window to enable the plot, but it's annoying some times! I love Star Trek, and they at least do usually consult scientists to make things plausible (with the exception of the Abrams stuff), but these plot holes are annoying some times ;)

Thanks!

S.
legrate - Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 2:09am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Conundrum

Richard, those rationalizations might work, indeed.

I thought msw188 hit one of the larger plot holes - Crusher performing a complex medical procedure on MacDuff without noticing he wasn't human. Similarly, Troi did share a room with MacDuff, but she also picked up nothing - either a strange inability to read him, or an ability to read a mind buzzing with deception.

While we're at it, how did MacDuff get on the Enterprise at all? They did have shields up, even if they didn't block the scan, one would hope they'd block any sort of transport. Not that they ever do, admittedly. And... sigh... must the Enterprise always meet strangers with its shields down? Starfleet had already ordered against this stupidity back in Kirk's day, and it just gets more and more ridiculous. This is a galaxy where a first strike can (and often does) cripple an unshielded ship, where transporters can (and do) whisk critical people away (why not beam off the whole bridge crew?)... puttering around with shields up should be a sign of trustworthiness, as it means you're not insane.

And as others have mentioned (and a problem with The Game too), it seems the writers often forget that many species are present on the Enterprise. It calls for "magic" technology to be able to remotely and precisely erase the differently-stored memories of: the computer, Data, and how many species... 3 just on the bridge, plus Guinan (conspicuosly absent), Mott the barber, and surely a handful of others at any particular time.
William B - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 10:35pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Armageddon Game

In spite of the title, "Armageddon Game" is not in any particular way "about" the weapons of mass destruction, which are only the MacGuffin to start the plot going. We know this because the one interesting idea -- that having found peace, these peoples must kill anyone who knows about these weapons, including the people who disposed of them! -- is never examined or discussed; it is repeated by the villains a few times, and there's a minor wrinkle in that it initially seems to be one group planning this murder and then it turns out it's both. No one offers any counterargument, nor even particularly expresses outrage that these guys asked for Federation assistance and then planned to kill them. The end section, in which the T'Lani tells Sisko that she has no quarrel with him or the Federation but must kill Bashir & O'Brien, comes across as ridiculous -- if the T'Lani had planned to keep their murdering the heroic scientists who ended the terror of the harvesters a secret, as implied by their hastily blaming O'Brien for activating a subroutine that obliterated them, they surely couldn't just let Sisko go. The escape sequence at the end has weird, heavy-handed over-explanation ("We saw them die!" "Did we though?"), and in general the entire investigation is plodding. Bashir and O'Brien, besides not dying in the initial attack, only accomplish one thing -- to attract the T'Lani to them! -- which is a decent twist, but also means that, since they get rescued at the last minute through no action of their own, their struggle is not all that inspiring. Would Sisko not have been able to find them if they hadn't contacted the T'Lani? No explanation is actually given how the Runabout crew could identify Bashir and O'Brien immediately when the planet couldn't -- I guess superior technology, though if they were found because Sisko could find the T'Lani having beamed down that might give some sense that the endless jiggering with that comm device actually had plot importance.

This is maybe a harsh assessment of an episode that is mostly about Bashir and O'Brien talking. But I do think that survival stories have a greater kick when there is some sense that what the characters do to survive actually matters. To compare for other Trek examples, "The Next Phase," "The Enemy," "Shuttlepod One," "The Ascent" and "The Galileo Seven" all had plots that ultimately did hinge on our trapped characters accomplishing something, often which reflected some major character growth, and an episode like "The Most Toys" has a kind of tragic air because Data's rescue saved him from the long-term external consequences of killing Fajo, but not from the implications of readying himself to. In this case, besides having O'Brien not die nothing Bashir and O'Brien do matters much to the eventual plot resolution, which means that anything they do besides talk is a waste of time.

Given that one of the subjects of their talk is marriage, it seemed like a neat tie-in that it is Keiko's deep, close knowledge of Miles that ends up saving him. In execution, it seemed terribly unconvincing that Miles drinking coffee in the afternoon while on some alien ship, in space, working on a major project with risky, deadly WMDs, would be the smoking gun required to let Sisko investigate it, not to mention the plot contortions required to justify this already-silly idea (my favourite is the idea that, to justify that it's coffee, the hastily-edited video recording designed to fake deaths has a *spectrographic analysis* precise enough to be able to tell the chemical composition of what's in O'Brien's cup). But accepting this on a "what they are going for" level, that Keiko could identify a small, specific detail which demonstrated the falsenes of the cover story while Jadzia could only bemoan that she never got around to reading Julian's soul-baring journals absolutely reinforces Miles' argument that marriage and intimacy are worth the headaches that come with it. And then the episode undermines it for a not-funny joke at the end -- Keiko actually has no clue about Miles drinking coffee! My girlfriend and I laughed out loud at that point, not so much because of the joke itself (not really funny) as the way the series regularly seems to undermine anything positive in the O'Briens' marriage, as well as the way the episode undercuts its own thematic point. I am not opposed to this kind of undermining, but the episode is thin enough and the coffee idea was already sketched in enough and the O'Briens' marriage already so inattentively rendered that I felt kind of sad. Nevertheless, we still can take from this the idea that Keiko made up an artificial reason to save Miles, and her refusal to give up on him did lead to his being saved, so, that is something.

I do tend to find the scenes on the station overall not quite effective, and I am not sure why. Some of it is that there hasn't been that much development of relationships between Julian and Miles and the rest of the main cast, Jadzia (and each other) excepted, and Garak does not make an appearance. Still, the crew's moderately sad reaction to their death, while realistic, doesn't quite give me much sense of them as individuals. The big scene regarding Julian's death is the Kira/Dax conversation in Quark's, which overall works pretty well; I don't quite find Farrell convincing here, but putting that aside I think that there is something of the right way of conveying the mixture of grief, loss and guilt of someone who knows that a person with an unrequited thing for them has died. There is something both sweet and pathetic about Julian giving Jadzia his medical journals, consisting of his "innermost thoughts," much of which were about his struggle to be the best in his class and his fear of failure, as a way for her to "understand him," like any other young nerdy male desperately giving out his livejournal account in the hopes that only THEN will she see how truly deep he is; and, well, it's a kind of sweet and pathetic I can relate to, while also sympathizing with the mixed feelings that this inspires in Jadzia. Capped by Quark's "good customers" line, it's a melancholy thought that reminds us exactly how lonely and alone this guy is, and Jadzia, by realizing that she probably *is* the most important person in Julian's life right now, gets some sense of what that means for him. The scene of Sisko telling Keiko I did feel was ineffective; I don't think that Keiko reacting with something like shock and not having any emotional outbursts is believable, but there's a certain something missing from the performance or the direction to give a real sense of what she's feeling underneath, at least for me.

As for the Bashir/O'Brien scenes, in a weird way they serve a similar purpose to Jadzia talking about Julian's medical journals. Bashir already likes O'Brien and wants his trust, so even though it's Miles who is closer to death the story is much more focused on O'Brien coming to see Bashir as his own person and coming to care about him than the reverse. As the older and more experienced man, O'Brien's gradually slipping away into disease, and just missing death, with Bashir slowly taking more and more charge of the situation, has a bit of a Circle of Life vibe, a short version of the inevitable fate of people to watch the next generation come into prominence as they themselves go into decline. The age difference isn't so great, but it seems artificially greater because O'Brien has "lived" more than Bashir in many respects, having fought in a war and served multiple Starfleet jobs and having a wife and child. I like how Bashir's backstory, involving a ballerina who is the daughter of a doctor, ties together the interests in medicine and physical fitness that we have seen from him recently. O'Brien's impassioned defense of marriage, while weakened both by the show's need to undermine Miles/Keiko regularly and by the lack of specificity in the details ("oh yeah we fight, she doesn't want to be on the station, but it is worth it! for... reasons"), is touching, and is the most important lesson that he imparts onto Bashir; and when O'Brien imparts this wisdom, there is the sense in which he now recognizes that Bashir's skirt-chasing and immaturity is the sign of his youth, inexperience, and insecurity rather than just a personality type Miles can't really stand.

Overall, the plot of this episode is very weak and the character material is...good but not great, making this a prime example for what Jammer termed the Split Personality Syndrome of the season. 2.5 stars from me.
William B - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:54pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Rivals

A bit more on Julian-Miles:

The Bashir-O'Brien friendship is between awkward supergenius and skilled everyman, and so one of the recurring elements is the way any competition between the two of them will go to Bashir, if it's actually something that requires pure physical or mental aptitude. So given the "luck" theme here, it might be worth considering that Bashir happens to have "won" a certain genetic crapshoot that O'Brien didn't. O'Brien is very smart and talented, but is not the kind of physical/mental prodigy that Julian was/is, and has several years on him to boot. O'Brien has experience, Bashir has "talent" in its rawest form, and O'Brien tries to beat Bashir head-on through sheer force of will in spite of the fact that Bashir has every physical advantage, plus training. Bashir did work hard to become an expert racquetball player and, for that matter, briefly wanted to be a great tennis player before going the "easier" route of medical student. But it is hard for O'Brien not to see him, on some level, as having on his side things which have nothing to do with how hard they worked -- Bashir is younger and happens to have been some kind of genius prodigy.

It's another instance where the retcon about Bashir's genetic engineering works wonders. The reason Bashir is so talented is that his parents rigged the game, secretly. And so this brings Bashir into parallel with Martus, and O'Brien into parallel with Quark -- Bashir's genetically enhanced mega-talent gave him an artificial leg-up which amounts to "luck," not in terms of probability but in terms of him happening to have an advantage unrelated to the effort he put in. And then when Martus starts losing, Bashir loses badly. The episode's comedy and the reversal of fortunes perhaps implies that even accidents of birth (or deliberate choices by parents to give their children an Advantage) are just as ephemeral as any other random-number-generator -- even if these accidents of birth end up determining a whole lot of what happens in a person's life. Pretty interesting, if not fully fleshed-out (and I might be imagining things, more so than usual).
Mallory R. - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:37pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S3: Similitude

Perfect science fiction story.
Luke - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:20pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Game

Wesley Wesley Crusher, Where are you?
We've got some work to do now.

Wesley Wesley Crusher, Where are you?
We need some help from you now.

Come on, Wesley Crusher, I see you
pretending you've got a game.

But you're not foolin' me, cause I can see
the way you fake that shiver.

You know we've got a mystery to solve so Wesley Crusher be ready for your act.
Don't hold back!

And Wesley Crusher if you come through you're gonna have yourself a Lefler Snack!
That's a fact!

Wesley Wesley Crusher, here are you.
You're ready and you're willing.

If we can count on you, Wesley Crusher,
I know we'll catch that villain!

---------------------------------------

Seriously folks, this is a "Scooby Doo" episode masquerading as a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode. It might as well of ended with an exchange like - "Why, it's Etana! The woman Riker was awkwardly frolicking with on Risa." "That's right! And I would have conquered the Federation if it wasn't for you meddling kids!"

Good grief, did we honestly need yet another "Wesley saves the day" episode? This time it's so bad that they literally have the entire rest of the crew brainwashed and villainous in order to make Wesley look good. Even the love interest character succumbs to the "make-Wesley-AWESOME!-at-everyone's-expense" cliche. I said it my comments on "Final Mission" and I'll say it again - "We get it, Wesley is awesome. But people, it is of paramount importance that as you feverishly fellate this character until he leaves a gland-shaped impression on your tonsils, you occasionally come up for god-damn air!"

I'm just going to skip over the technical problems with how the game works because, quite frankly, I don't care. Instead, I going to focus on something this episode does make me care about - why the hell is Robin Lefler interested in Wesley Freakin' Crusher?! Not only is she played by Ashley Judd (which means on a scale of 1 to 10 in the beauty department she's OVER FUCKING 9000!!!!!) but she's also warm, outgoing, intelligent, compassionate, self-less, etc. This woman is the catch of the millennium! And she's so interested in Wesley (who, by the way, has to be at least five years YOUNGER than her) that she's got friends at the Academy keeping tabs on him?! I just don't get it. I mean, for crying out loud, his idea of a first date is to show up late and then take her to a science lab to perform experiments on a new video game. But, hey, she's into it all, for some reason. I guess there's no accounting for taste. Where the hell can I find a woman like this?!

There are some intriguing moments on display here, but that's all they are - moments. They're moments like when we see Picard put on the game and when Data first emerges from the the turbolift (that is, before he starts with his strobe light nonsense). Okay, good attention grabbing moments, even if they only last for a few seconds. The problem is that what they're surrounded with is rather.... well.... boring. I was shocked when the first act ended and so little had actually happened. The only legitimately enjoyable part is the final chase through the Enterprise sequence. There is an true sense of suspense to it. But, I can honestly say the same thing about most "Scooby Doo" episodes. Other than that and those few, brief moments, "The Game" never really held my interest.

They should have left well-enough alone and kept Wesley off the show. *sigh*

4/10
John G - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:01pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S3: Chosen Realm

The action parts of the episode were pretty good, but the allegory was cliched and shallow.

I loved Phlox scaring his guard with his bat. "There's no cure for the venom!"

I totally believed D'Jamat falling for the transporter trick. He thought that he and Archer were alike and "understood" each other. He also would be apt to believe in any sort of religious custom.

At first I thought there must be a backup for the deleted database, but then Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner's emails came to mind. If there are still Democrats in the 22nd century, anything is possible. :)

William B - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 4:01pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Rivals

This is an episode which examines the theme of luck, in that sometimes people have good luck and sometimes they have bad luck. It also examines the theme of rivalry, in that there are two sets of people -- Quark and Martus, Julian and Miles -- who are competing with each other, who are "rivals" if you will.

...

...

OK, that's it. I've got nothing more to say.

...

OK, OK, I'll try a bit more. The episode's depictions of the ups and downs of fortune makes it feel a bit like some kind of genie story, or some such, and the idea of a device that artificially makes one's luck good or bad has a certain appeal as a fantasy idea. The episode's attempt at a SF explanation is pretty painful, so I won't belabour that. The episode doesn't do much interesting with it, except that it does get something of the charge that the compulsive gambler feels. The real issue with those luck spheres for Martus, and for the previous owner, is that the initial run of good luck creates an artificial high which then makes the person restless and unhappy until they have that again, which is why it's often said that the worst possible thing that can happen to someone is to win big the first time they gamble, since it creates a thrill and a set of expectations that can't really be matched. Making unknown character Martus the person whose luck changes so radically was a weird choice; while, yes, it's nice to see Chris "Prince Humperdink" Sarandon in the role, there's no indication why we should care about this guy aside from the most general "all human[oid]s deserve our empathy" sense of it. The one advantage of making Martus the luck-holder is that it helps establish Quark as the real underdog hero of the episode; while Quark allows gambling at his place, and is a gambler of sorts himself, he judges each deal as it comes and uses his wits, cunning, and interpersonal skills to profit, while "listener" Martus, despite his rep as a con man, mostly ends up a passive individual, at the whim of The Fates splashing him to and fro. The passive man who bets on luck may briefly overtake the canny individual who focuses on skill, but fortunes change and eventually skill tends to win out. Comparing the way Quark makes the O'Brien/Bashir feud into a big source of profits, using the carrot of charity to lure the two in, makes Martus' "a random guy gave me a luck generator which I used to make more luck generators" approach seem even more pathetic.

The Bashir/O'Brien rivalry is pretty fun, actually, though it takes up less of the episode's runtime than I had remembered; I also think that their not resolving their rivalry in episode -- no tag, even! -- is a bit of a shame. It's a comedy plot, yes, but comedy plots still (mostly) work best as plots. Anyway, I find their scenes, along with the related ones (Julian's telling Dax that he's afraid Miles is going to have a heart attack, Miles' venting to Keiko) pretty enjoyable throughout. The personality clash/buddy cop formula is obvious but it does work here, and much better than in "The Storyteller," and I like that Julian is both much more enthusiastic about the friendship and also tries very hard to put an end to the matches while leaving Miles' dignity intact; Miles' desire to beat Julian and wipe that smug smile off his face as a way for Miles to (willingly!) choose to spend more time with the guy is a neat way to push their development without resetting Miles' fundamental attitude, nor putting them in a big life-death situation.

I get something of a kick out of the image of the ball bouncing around the room and O'Brien catching it. I don't quite know what it is, but I like it.

Comedy or no, I do think it's a bad sign when the "main plot" essentially gets resolved because, EVENTUALLY, the main cast notice something, then pick up their tricorder, and then shoot spheres with phasers, end of story, taking all of like one minute.

2-2.5 stars. Probably a high 2 -- enjoyable fluff in the B-plot, somewhat dull and very silly, but with some redeeming elements, A-plot.
William B - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 3:41pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

Wow, what a mess. Setting aside the real-world analogues this episode is attempting to allegorize, the episode makes wrong turns in basically every scene. In attempting to represent the whole breadth of the refugee experience, from language barrier to being bullied to religious prophesy, the episode never stays on any topic long enough to come to any satisfying point, and further is ridiculous on basically every point. The Universal Translator material wastes time and is forgotten the moment it is no longer a problem, with the sole impact that we find out that the Skrreeans are matriarchal and only want to talk to Kira. The matriarchy stuff with the Skrreeans is at least *not* "Angel One," and for a culture to be matriarchal is not that big a departure from the Trek norm (given the number of patriarchal cultures we encounter), but it's not used to any effect except to present, and never dispel, the idea that the Skrreean men are a bunch of foolish, aggressive dolts who wander around getting into fights, which, ahem, undermines Haneek's arguments about how wonderful Skrreean society is. The friendship between Haneek and Kira, solidified over their shared dislike of a dress and unfunny laughter afterwards, comes across as affected and false (and why did Haneek stare at that dress so long? did she really spend all that time saying "LOOK AT THIS STUPID DRESS!"). The Nog/Skrreean boys plot is supposed to, I guess, demonstrate that conflicts arise due to the native people's non-acceptance of the refugees, but since the episode is all building toward the Bajorans turning the Skrreeans down, why even bother involving juvenile delinquent Nog, a Ferengi who just escaped being jailed because Sisko blackmailed his uncle, rather than showing some possible BAJORAN-SKREEAN culture clash? Haneek's son taking a ship to Bajor because he's an idiot and being shot down, because he's an idiot, is manipulative, artificial "tragedy" at its worst, especially since his motivation is so badly sketched in.

The real question of import here *should be* the question of how refugees should be housed, and what it means to deny refugees entry to an already battered land. The episode begins with Kira neglecting her duties by arguing all the time with the Provisional Government, followed by her strongarming Quark into taking a Bajoran musician, to reestablish her bona fides in terms of her desire to preserve and help the Bajoran people, so that when she ultimately does not extend this to the Skrreeans we understand that Kira's broad desire to help her struggling people ultimately ends and cannot extend to all oppressed peoples -- which is not, by the way, me criticizing Kira, just stating the sad fact that resources are finite and we have to choose, and people tend to choose their own family, tribe, people above another even if the other suffers just as much and is equally "deserving." And, fine, but the post-scarcity world means that there's no reason they can't just settle on Dralon II, instead of a planet in a system they stumbled upon like a week ago. With every indication that Dralon II is habitable and indeed is *better* for farming and building a life than the burned-to-the-ground peninsula they are eying on Bajor, there is no reason to see Haneek as being shut out; Bajor turning refugees away because they quite literally have a galaxy of other options which are brought straight to them leaves us with no reason to criticize Bajor, and makes Haneek et al. just seem ungrateful, especially when Haneek suggests that Kira is her friend only as long as Kira doesn't have to do anything for her, after Kira saved her and her family's life, spent hours working on communicating with them, bought her a present, and then let her and hundreds of her people use the station and its food resources for days (?) or weeks (?). Jeez.

The ONE argument Haneek has in her favour is "God said so," where she has some mythological reason to believe that the first planet they happen upon on the other side of the "eye" will be their new home. And, you know, it does make some sense that Bajorans in particular would be sympathetic to "BECAUSE THERE'S A VAGUE PROPHESY" as a justification. But there is not, to my recollection, a single scene of Kira or the Bajoran government actually responding to the religious reasons Haneek gives, and so this is not even discussed. First Haneek suggests that it will be good because that's where they're supposed to go, and then at the *very* end, right after her son stole a ship because Skrreean males are apparently lunatics, says that it's Kira/Bajor's fault for not recognizing that the Skrreeans can help cure Bajor of its ills, an argument which she had not explicitly pointed out previously in the episode (though, to be fair, it is in the myth and she did make a point of saying she didn't want Bajor's help). So, no. I don't think we are "forced" to side with Haneek, but Kira's inability to come up with a good riposte suggests we're supposed to feel that Haneek at least had a good point, which, you know, she didn't -- in that it's hardly the Bajorans' fault that neither Haneek nor any other Skrreean pointed out that they would very likely be able to help Bajor, and so could not give any counterargument.

And, you know, putting all that aside, why would all the Skrreeans need to settle on one place anyway? Could not someone have suggested maybe letting a few hundred or thousand Skrreeans settle on the northern peninsula of Bajor, so that if the drought continues and no food is grown it is *not* going to be an unmanageable amount of aid necessary to keep them alive, and, if no aid comes, it won't be a full species extinction? It seems likely Haneek would reject this suggestion out of hand, but there is no reason the Bajoran provisional government couldn't *suggest* it.

I find this episode pretty painful to get through -- and while there are bits of interesting content, they are very scattered about. 1.5 stars at the most, probably 1 star.
William B - Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 3:16pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Rules of Acquisition

@Yanks, thanks for the kind words.

I was talking more about Pel's initially going to show up Zek to begin with -- ripping off the lobes and so forth. Reviewing the transcript, she explicitly says "I'm sorry, but it's time he learned that when it comes to accumulating profit, women are as capable as men." So her motivation is not officially love-based after all...and yet, her going to the Nagus only *after* Quark rejects her and asks her to leave the station does suggest that she's motivated partly by heartbreak, which she then turns into a desire to bring on massive social change. Which...I don't know. It's noble and I don't want to dismiss it entirely, but Pel has surely gone incognito for years and I'm not sure if the episode totally justifies her showing off her female-ness at *this* moment.
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