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Peter H
Mon, Apr 23, 2018, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

All these intelligent comments and not one remark about Riker's glorious boots! I wasn't sure if I was horrified or a bit turned on by that prto-Vulcan meets Dick Whittington ensemble :D

I also found all the scenes of Troi, Riker and the Mintakans running around chasing after each other simply *hilarious*.

These points aside I thought this was a pretty solid Trek outing. I was a bit confused as to how such a supposedly sensible people free from superstition could so quickly cast all that aside, but I'm willing to forgive that for the sake of the plot. All the scenes of the Mintakan leader on the Enterprise were Trek gold for me; Picard's admiration for her was also very warming.

I've had my doubts about the Prime Directive over the series run so far. We've seen how putting it aside can do good (Penpals) so it's nice to be reminded of why it's so necessary.
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William B
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Human Error

Props to the Doctor/Seven scenes also -- Picardo nails the "trying to cover own feelings with professionalism, and then shows real empathy" thing without overplaying it, and most of it's in the performance rather than on the page.
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William B
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Human Error

Having rewatched Endgame, this episode's purpose is clear-ish. Chakotay as some sort of symbol for Seven of feelings, spirituality and patience (humanity as opposed to Borg perfection) does mesh with his role for her in Scorpion and One Small Step, even though there's very little set-up for the pairing otherwise and I'm skeptical of the chemistry -- and, indeed, of any real set-up for Seven choosing him as fantasy man. In this episode though we don't have to justify Chakotay's feelings at all, because he's fantasy-Chakotay anyway -- and nor do we have to wonder about fantasy-Chakotay's pushy, almost aggressive behaviour in insisting Seven stop the metronome, when we could reasonably ask whether real-Chakotay doing the same thing should mind his own damn business; presumably Seven has programmed him this way (or at least, has the option of un-programming him at any time), so that she can outsource her humanity signal. The idea that she becomes obsessed with the simulation more or less makes sense, and while it's somewhat well-trod ground (Barclay episodes, mostly), there is a fresh spin on it because we know Seven so well and we recognize how much her image of perfection means to her and how difficult it would be for her to actually break with it publicly. The ambivalence about her relationship with holo-Chakotay and the addictive emotional rushes she gets and can't cope with further makes sense. The episode's pacing is a little slow, but it works with Seven's control issues. I honestly don't find Beltran convincing enough in the scenes to evoke real passion which is supposed to counterbalance Seven's control, but then he is a computer program here so it's not *exactly* a fundamental problem, though it maybe means the episode doesn't quite rise to the level of fully selling what this experience means for her.

I guess where I'm going to break with the episode -- besides its subplot, the details of which I've already forgotten like a week and a half later -- is in the ending: the cortical node malfunction that shuts her down if she feels a lot of feelings? is too heavy-handed a device, and one that doesn't really square with the various emotional scenes we have already had of Seven (The Gift, The Raven, One, Drone, Dark Frontier, Child's Play, Unimatrix Zero, Imperfection, the Doctor in Seven's body in Body and Soul) though admittedly few of those times involved happy experiences. Dramatically it's important that Seven *is* given an out -- surgery, from the Doctor -- and refuses it, so that the cortical node thing is an excuse, but it's still not convincing, and mostly serves to obscure Seven's actual choice. More to the point (SPOILERS), it's still not clear what the point is in having Seven shut things down so dramatically when she's about to start exploring again soon with the Real Deal. I guess here if I felt I had a better understanding of what Natural Law was doing I might see how that episode functions as some sort of turning point, but I mostly just feel like this episode's going for the tragic ending just throws a needless wrench into what is already a huge buy of Seven's emotional/romantic attraction to Chakotay in the first place.

All that said, it's not an irrelevant show and has several decent scenes, and Ryan milks the sadness and loneliness and tragedy and also hits some of the right notes of restrained passion. I'm not really convinced that Chakotay as representation of Seven's emotional growth was ever going to make complete sense, but this episode does do something with it and it's something of a bridge of the closing out of her character arc. So, 2.5 stars.
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William H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I was enjoying the first half on the understanding that Geordi was obviously acting very inappropriately, even if somewhat excused by a weird situation, and would get his due comedic comeuppance, and then hopefully a bit of a redemption thing. But then they turn around and give him this self righteous speech and have Leah apologise and that ruins things a bit.
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Chrome
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

“All this on CBS, the most “red state” of networks! Stunning.”

I’m sorry, have you never seen a Fox news show? And CBS has one of the most liberal comedians, Stephen Colbert, as it’s late night host. Someone didn’t do their homework here.
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JerJer
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

2 out of last 3 episodes are the All-About-Ezri-Show. ENOUGH. Horrible character. What, trying to make up for the fact that she was shoehorned in only for 1 season, by giving her way too much bloody screentime?
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JerJer
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Emperor's New Cloak

Why does the Mirror Universe even have Ezri? So whenever someone new appears on DS9 in "our" world, their alternate "has to" be there in the alt-verse?

And Vic Fontaine is suddenly a real person. Whatever.

Ferengi + Mirror mashup. Ugh, no.
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wolfstar
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

DS9 only had one straight white male in its main cast - O'Brien. The only two straight white American males on the show are Admiral Ross and Eddington. Expanding the net to non-humans, there are also Bareil, Shakaar and Vic.

Of course, Odo kind of functioned as a straight white male too, especially in his season 1 characterization as a hard-boiled detective type, and later in his feelings towards Kira and his vulnerability towards the female Founder. Though "Chimera" obviously complicates this. And Bashir passes for white.

The issue with Discovery's characters in contrast to DS9's equally diverse cast is that it's as if the Discovery writers thought representation was the only thing they had to do. The characters have barely been thought about or developed beyond the box they tick and the plot-driving function they fulfil. DS9's the most diverse Trek series but it never once felt tokenistic because all of the characters and performances were so rich - they weren't there to fulfill quotas, they were complex, engaging, relatable people who had great storylines and wonderful interactions with each other.

This is why queer-themed episodes like The Outcast, Chimera, Rejoined, Stigma and even the Sulu moment in STB resonate with me as a gay guy far more than the tokenistic and totally disposable romance between two of Discovery's desperately underdeveloped characters. Stamets is only there to be gay and to be a plot device, Wilson was only there to be his generically nice boyfriend for a few scenes until being killed off. Absolutely nothing about their storylines was dramatically compelling.
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SouthofNorth
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: The Q and the Grey

WTF was that????

I would rate that as 1 star. I might even rank it below "Threshold". At least, "Threshold" didn't ruin a beloved ST character.

Fast Forward Rating: 10 (keep your thumb on the FF button, zip through it quickly, do NOT pause.)
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Moegreen
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

Garak sold the biomimetic gel to Bashir's Lethian. Case closed.
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Peter H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

...actually, 4 if you count that episode with the pissed-off crystal in the first season that call humans "ugly sacs of mostly water"! Although that wasn't really an AI but a silicon-based lifeform, so I guess it doesn't count after all. Nonetheless it's probably why this episode feels so familiar, as it's a bit of a rerun of that. Fortunately this intelligence is much more reasonable.

On a plus note it looks like the CGI has got an upgrade; the external shots of the Enterprise look better than ever.
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Peter H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:34am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

I can think of at least 3 episodes in TNG where there's an emergent AI that develops in the Enterprise's computer or equipment. It's a wonder all organic life hasn't been wiped out given how ubiquitous this phenomenon is in the 24th century.
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Peter Swinkels
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

Nitpick: the episode makes a point of Bajoran naming convention (family name first), and gives the impression that humans always use the given name first convention. Perhaps this has become the standard in the entire Federation, but different naming conventions are used everywhere in real life. Because apparently nearly all aliens in Trek are absurdly near-human a big deal has to be made of cultural differences that are actually rather insignificant compared to real life differences in cultures that actually exist amongst one species.
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SlackerInc
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 3:34am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I cosign the “Orville” recommendation.

As I said in my comment on the previous episode, I thought this finale was better than most of the season. I would consider the final two episodes of the season among only four or five episodes total that merited three stars (I don’t think there were any that merited more than that).

I did kind of think that blowing up the Klingon homeworld might have been the right play, but I guess maybe I’m just evil?

One thing I find amazing about the status quo as we find it at the end of the season is that there are (unless I’m totally blanking out on someone) no characters who are straight white males. Zero. By “characters” I mean people who occasionally say a line of dialogue, not people who walk by in the background. This radical state of affairs was effectively obscured for most of the season by the fact that the captain of the ship was a straight white male. But then he was revealed to be an evil Terran and stand-in for Trump, who died and was therefore absent for the final two episodes. All this on CBS, the most “red state” of networks! Stunning.
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james04
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Barge of the Dead

That Tom Paris calls B’Elanna a “born-again Klingon”, in a way that shows his remark is intended as less than complimentary, suggests that Evangelicals will be not unfamiliar in the 24th century. If their function as figures of fun has been adopted by some later group after their extinction, that cannot be inferred from canon.

Gods can be killed - though whether this is a credible concept, depends on what one understands by the concept of godhood. Mesopotamian religion has several deities being killed, such as Tiamat and Kingu, who were killed by Marduk in the best-known of several Mesopotamian myths of creation. Horus is killed by Set in Egypt, and most of the Norse Aesir are killed at Ragnarok. So the myth about Ko[r]tar is not in the least implausible. It seems to be a mixture of Etruscan, Greek, Mesopotamian & Norse elements. The writers are to be congratulated on their ingenious mixing of familiar ancient motifs to produce something new. Gods who need to be refreshed by sacrifices (conceptualised as their meals) can presumably - in principle - undergo death.

What made Gre’thor ? Maybe, the Klingon gods, before, or even after, they were killed. Without knowing a lot more Klingon mythology, one can only make informed guesses using analogies from real-world ideas. The details of all these things are not incoherent, so much as fragmentary. A Klingon mythographer or theologian would presumably be able to fill in the masses of missing detail. Maybe Gre’thor is made out of the bodies of dead gods. Myths are characteristically resistant to harmonisation and systematisation, so one cannot expect a harmonious and internally self-consistent picture of the Klingon afterlife here. B’Elanna perceives it only in broken flashes, as might be expected of someone with a busy life like hers.

The sight of Gre’thor’s gates looks uncommonly like illustrations of the description the gates of the city of Dis in Dante, Inferno, canto 9. 7That the idea of killing gods seems implausible, is perhaps a testimony to how deeply Western culture has been saturated with Jewish & Christian ideas.

I found this episode rewarding to watch, because of its various narrative elements, which made it thought-provoking. As I have never had much of a head for the sciences, the scientific problems in this episode don’t spoil it for me, as they might for others. The last 5 or 6 minutes seemed not really to lead anywhere very much, but they were interesting for their echoes of earlier moments in the episode.

3/4, I think. A good episode in many ways, though not exceptional. And there was no reliance on holodecks.


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Peter G.
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Disease

@ Tom,

"That was a deplorable episode. There's no reason why Tal should not have joined Voyager and stayed on as Harry's companion."

Ah, but there is a reason. Voyager's producers were cheapskates and didn't want to have to pay for recurring characters. It's palpable when watching the show to notice over almost every season the distinct lack of familiar faces or anyone recognizable among the crew other than the main cast. It's a complaint even many Voyager fans make, and I can't imagine it was for any reason other than to avoid paying actors when they could just make do with the people they were already obliged to pay each week.
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Tom
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Disease

I agree with Peter G. This episode is very prudish. The captain thinks that she has the right to control Harry's sexuality, even though he's an adult.

But the most disturbing part is how unfair this was to Kim. It's no secret that Garrett Wang was deeply frustrated by his character's treatment on Voyager (see: Straight Talk with Voyager’s Garrett Wang on startrek.com). He was never given a promotion.

This is one of the most egregious examples of a double standard.

Janeway almost states that double standard explicitly : It wouldn't have been so bad for Tom to do this, but Harry? Unacceptable.

I suspect that the writers were unconsciously influenced by racial stereotypes against Asians:

As Wikipedia explains : ""Mainstream America, for the most part, gets uncomfortable with seeing an East Asian man portrayed in a sexual light." Asian men are often portrayed as feminine or sexless in American media." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_East_Asians_in_the_United_States#Men

That was a deplorable episode. There's no reason why Tal should not have joined Voyager and stayed on as Harry's companion.
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Cesar Gonzalez
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

Completely TERRIBLE episode.
Bland, weird, and boring!!

10 times worse than Treshold.

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J Ryan
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

Great ep. But when Kira made her comment to Damar at that moment I just felt it made her look like a cold hearted bitch no better than the Cardassians she hates. She could have made her point another time or way. That's honestly the first time I felt that toward a Star Trek main character.
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Sloan
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Thirty Days

"In short, he disobeyed orders for a reason. That to me is somewhat interesting, because it reveals a "real" Tom Paris. Not one who is watered down to brainless compliance, resulting in the token Lt. One-Liner we've often seen."

I agree with what Jammers says here, but unfortunately we've had 4 seasons of Lt. One-Liner now. At this point, THAT is his character. So this sudden love of the ocean making him willing to disobey orders is a big character flip. Not as bad as if they made Harry or Neelix suddenly go rogue, because at least there is SOMETHING is Tom's backstory that foreshadows it.

I feel like these new character traits, ie Tom's love of all things oceanic, seem to be conjured up to serve one episode's plot, so it is hard to take seriously. Does it ever come up again in future episodes? At least his Hot Rod fetish, and Holodeck programming is consistent enough.
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Chrome
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 10:21am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

@Jammer

I actually didn’t start watching broadcast TNG until season 5. But the local Fox affiliate reran two episodes of TNG every weeknight. This one, “Code of Honor” and “Up the Long Ladder” weren’t in the rerun rotation. I saw all the others, including “Conspiracy” in full gore though.
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William B
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Seventh Season Recap

You know what, I'm going to do the season-end thing EXCEPT FOR ENDGAME now. Endgame is its own kettle o' fish.

Ratings, with difference from Jammer's rating in parentheses:

Unimatrix Zero Part 2: 1.5 (-1)
Imperfection: 3 (=)
Drive: 2.5 (=)
Repression: 1 (-0.5)
Critical Care: 2.5 (-0.5)
Inside Man: 1.5 (-0.5)
Body and Soul: 2.5 (-0.5)
Nightingale: 1.5 (-0.5)
Flesh and Blood: 3.5 (=)
Shattered: 2 (=)
Lineage: 4 (+0.5) (yes really -- it resonates with me in a personal way)
Prophesy: 1.5 (-0.5)
The Void: 3 (=)
Workforce Part 1: 3.5 (=)
Workforce Part 2: 3 (=)
Human Error: 2.5 (+0.5)
Q2: 1 (-0.5)
Author, Author: 4 (=)
Friendship One: 1.5 (-1)
Natural Law: 1 (-1)
Homestead: 2.5 (-0.5)
Renaissance Man: 2.5 (=)

So this averages to 2.4 or so, which isn't terrible, and there are a number of very good shows. The season also has something like arcs in the Holographic Rights material, the Paris/Torres story and in the crew's increasing connection to home, and both the midseason two-parters are good. Neelix gets a mostly good send-off, as well. On the minus side: Tuvok is pretty badly neglected and his one show, Repression, is particularly bad; the Seven material seems to mostly dry up after Imperfection, with Human Error not quite working and Natural Law being a near-total waste, losing out on one of the usually strong links; and some of the characters have either no final statements or a limp, almost pointless one (Nightingale for Kim, Shattered for Chakotay). The movement toward slightly greater serialization happens a bit too late to have a lot of impact except in terms of the Doctor and Paris/Torres (especially Torres) and there is an awful lot of chaff or sleepwalking shows. I'd say that overall, I'd recommend Imperfection, Flesh and Blood, Lineage, The Void, Workforce, and Author, Author, and that's only 7 stories, though admittedly it amounts to 9 when we count two of them as two-parters; there are, however, a lot of semi-successful eps in the 2.5-star range, including eps like Homestead, which is basically successful in its primary goal and it's just the material around it that brings it down. It's Voyager, I guess, which means it's consistently inconsistent and disappointing, with glimmers of the better show it could have been -- but enough to keep me interested, despite the negative tone I get when talking about it. We'll see how Endgame plays for me this time around.
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William B
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 5:28am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Renaissance Man

Oh right -- it also occurred to me when watching this that the Doctor defying the captain's direct order in order to protect her is the same thing that Riker had done and that made Picard interested in him as a first officer, as discussed in Encounter at Farpoint. I'm sure it's not an intentional echo, but I think it's kind of neat to have some callbacks to the beginning of the TNG TV era as it's about to close. (DS9 was much more explicit in having direct call backs to TOS' Where No Man Has Gone Before in its finale.)
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William B
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 5:18am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Renaissance Man

Since I'm in a ranking mood, my overall take on how the characters were handled (both writing and acting) -- not counting Janeway, who is a separate, difficult case -- from best to worst:

The Doctor
Seven
Torres
Tuvok
Paris
Chakotay
Neelix
Kes
Kim
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William B
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 5:18am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Renaissance Man

Doctor episode rankings (by quality and Doctor-ness):

Latent Image
Living Witness
Author, Author
Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy
Flesh and Blood
Projections
Someone to Watch Over Me
Retrospect
Lifesigns
Message in a Bottle
Life Line
Critical Care
The Swarm
Real Life
One (basically a two-hander with Seven for a while)
Virtuoso
Renaissance Man
Body and Soul
Revulsion
Heroes and Demons
Nothing Human
Darkling

So overall a pretty good set of episodes, with only a few losers -- and even them not terrible -- and several real winners among the series' best. Definitely the best character arc of the series, even if it comes from humble beginnings (e.g. Heroes and Demons ain't much to speak of, IMO).

And thus ends my "character ep rankings". I'm not doing one for Janeway -- too many to sift through (since the default episode is "about Janeway" insofar as being about the captain). For other characters see: Fury (Kes), Drive (Paris), Repression (Tuvok), Nightingale (Kim), Prophesy (Torres), Natural Law (Seven, Chakotay), Homestead (Neelix).
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