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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

This is an amazing point. When the Founding Fathers were making this country it was ok to own slaves.

When my Grandpa was born it was ok that women couldn't vote.

When my father was born it was ok to not want black kids in your school.

When I was born it was ok to think gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry.

What is ok today that isn't?

For the record I'm conflicted about crime/punishment because nobody will discuss why we do it. If it's to deter crime it doesn't work. If it's to keep us safe at all costs than lock em up and toss the key is ok. If it's about revenge... well I hope it isn't. At least not legally. If it's about rehabilitation than life sentences make no sense.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

Neelix's gullibity keeps getting voyager into trouble. They need to revoke his privileges to contact anyone other than VOY crew.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

@Joao Sousa, you're so right. Even worse, these things aren't absolute, and come in and out of fashion. Take solitary confinement, it started out as back in the day by Quakers as a humane way of rehabilitating the criminals. The theory bring that the solitude would bring penitence (hence the term "penitentiary"). Back when Voyager was being filmed, it apparently wasn't considered to be cruel by the writers, who sent Tom Paris sent to solitary for a whole month (!!!) for disobeying an order. Now, in 2017, it's considered cruel. I just wish people had some sense of the uncertainty that exists just under the surface of their beliefs.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

Very nice sci-fi exploration of CRISPR and its promises and challenges. Very cool. If we can fix scoliosis, why not fix cosmetic features?

Also, great character development. We finally know why B'Elanna is such a chronic asshole. It turns out, she has a long history of being a self-hating, super sensitive baby, with a persecution complex and a distorted perception of realty.

The only social interaction thing she has ever been right about (other than Tom's love affair with his alien ship in "Alice") is the reason her family fell apart. If her mom was anything close to the douche B'Elanna Jr. was (and, as we saw in "Barge of the Dead," she definitely was), I'd have left her and her stupid mom too.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Fascination

What the hell did I just watch? I didn't like or love it but it was million times more watchable than "Meridian". The humour was mostly flat, but since I have grown to love these characters it wasn't a terrible ordeal sitting down to watch it. If it was a TNG episode I would have been filled with rage and hatred. This episode is easily a 257,976 out of 125,860,730,133.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

This is a tremendous episode - a nuanced, sophisticated look at cult dynamics unlike anything else in Trek - and the issues with the ending, as discussed exhaustively above (I agree with William B regarding the ending), shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the whole thing. The episode does not vindicate Alixus or pull an "Alixus was right" twist at the final hour, though it does come dangerously close. It also doesn't let her off the hook in terms of answering for her crimes.

Alixus is the worst kind of narcissistic, manipulative holier-than-thou abuser, as the smart script and strong performance make evidently clear - an adept brainwasher who's prepared to abduct and kill in the name of the "common good" and the "community", but really it's all just about her power, like Winn but worse; what they share is that they never use direct aggression to achieve their aims, instead passive-aggression, control and manipulation, all beneath a beneficient layer of plausible deniability. This is pretty close to how the most evil cult leaders, groomers and abusers operate in reality. She's a true sociopath and psychopath; everyone else's wellbeing is totally collateral to her, she's only interested in other people insofar as they prop up her power and serve her delusion. In a really great piece of writing, the only way she even seems able to experience or conceptualize others' suffering is in narcissistic ways that put the focus back on herself (when Sisko says "What of the dead?", she replies "Only my son knows how I have suffered" - it's the "this will hurt me more than it will hurt you" school of thinking; everything is about psychological control). Abusers in group situations requires an enabler, and here Joseph fulfills that function, though I agree his characterisation is inconsistent - but the Joseph shown at the end is subservient to her and unwilling to stand up to her even once the truth has been revealed; worse, he repeats her dogma and speaks for the entire group in her place when she is removed at the end to take responsibility for her crimes, segueing into the leadership role in a way that, yes, isn't entirely believable or well-executed (the same applies to the total lack of the reaction from the group).

The battle of wills between Alixus and Sisko is riveting, and Avery Brooks's performance is outstanding, full of dignity, unbroken spirit and burning passion - the fact that it's a black man and an Irishman whom she's abducted, tortured and made work in the fields isn't lost on present-day audiences. The uniform becomes a symbolic issue of control and the object of their power game (a little like Sisko's baseball would between him and Dukat) precisely because of its representative value and the message Alixus knows it would send to the rest of the group; she knows the Starfleet presence is a threat to her rule and stands for the possibility of an outside world and an alternative authority and way of doing things. Crushing Sisko's will and assimilating him into the group would crush any lingering thoughts of freedom among the others. The wordless scene where Ben chooses to return to the box rather than live in her community is incredibly powerful. O'Brien following this by taking decisive action to shatter the status quo and get himself, Sisko and hopefully everyone else out of there is also rousing. While I agree there are issues with the over-swift ending and the lack of outrage from the group, I totally echo Justin's comment above: "Anyone who doesn't understand why the colonists acted the way they did has never seen a cult at work. These people have been brainwashed by their leader for 10 years, and brutally punished for crimes of individuality or opposition [...]. When the truth is revealed to them, of course they choose to ignore what it means. It breaks the worldview that's been hammered into them every day for a decade. The only ones capable of rational, objective thought are the ones who have yet to be fully indoctrinated: the two children we see solemnly staring at the cage at the end of the final scene."

Works for me. It's not necessarily implied the colony will continue, but that they're now free to decide their future. I suspect a lot of them will leave.

Jadzia and Kira's rescue mission may seem less dramatically compelling by comparison, but it works as a strong contrast - here are two independent women who do have real power but who use it responsibly by working together to help others, out of a true selfless sense of community. The maneuver Jadzia performs to pull the Rio Grande out of warp risks both her and Kira's lives, and they're both prepared to do this because they trust and respect each other and because of their responsibility to Sisko and O'Brien, important members of their community. This true selflessness and collegial communal spirit stands in total contrast to Alixus's entirely self-serving and hollow instrumentalisation of "community" as a tool of power; she's prepared to sacrifice anyone, even her son, to her ideals, but never herself.

For the record, I'm highly critical of anti-tech episodes like the BSG finale and to some extent Children Of Time. This isn't one - it veers too close to being one at the end, but ultimately it isn't. It's a thoughtful script with no easy endings that doesn't endorse Alixus and condemns her pretty strongly throughout.

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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Time's Arrow, Part I

I have to note the similarities and differences between Data's desire for death in this episode and Asimov's character's desire for death in The Positronic Man (I believe that's the name of the story I'm thinking of? It's been years since I've read that story and even longer since I completely watched through the almost unwatchable TV adaptation, "Bicentennial Man". (I'm not a fan of Robbin Willliams, his way of speaking and acting in pretty much everything I ever saw/heard him in always made me feel very embarrassed by/for and very bad for him, as though he hated himself and was willing to do any humiliating or self-defacing thing to make me laugh. I felt like I was watching a man with little to no self respect/esteem torture himself for my amusement, it's very hard to watch. Given how things turned out I wonder if my feelings weren't too far off the mark, poor man.)

Data makes for a poor Bicentennial Man. Given what I remember of the story, in that one the robot chose to die so that he would be granted human status. In this episode Data is happy to learn he will die because it makes him feel closer to his human companions. In Asimov's story it makes sense, because the robot has done everything possible to make himself as human as possible, and dying from old age is just the final step. It makes less sense for Data to want to die, especially since his death is not a natural one (despite what he claims unless he's replacing/upgrading his parts as he goes along he will wear out and naturally "die" some time in the distant future) but shown to be a seemingly violent end. For all he knows he may be no more long lived than a humanoid like Guinan, not knowing the length of his life-span hardly means he's immortal and is a really illogical conclusion for him to come to. Even if he was "immortal" he's still obviously able to be destroyed, just like anything else. If existing indefinitely truly disturbed him enough that finding his own remains comforted him, he could have just as easily decided that one day he will have himself destroyed (I don't recall any of his programming making him unable to do so). There are species in Star Trek that do appear to live forever, like the Q, so fixating on having a death at all reflects his desire for humanity, rather than a desire for becoming "alive". It is an interesting look at the character, but really cements how odd some of his conclusions are.

@Ross I don't remember the exact lines, but it's possible Whitley was a secretary or the like, and thus while frequently talked to wasn't important enough to be introduced by name or was introduced by first name only. I'm not saying they didn't fudge it with Data (they do slip up and I think someone mentioned Spiner would ocassionally throw in some contractions just to see if they'd catch it (they didn't)) just that we could probably imagine a plausible explanation in this case.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

I just realized Troi becoming "oversexed" actually makes sense given her rapid aging and Betazoid women's hyped up sex drive when they reach middle age. I loved how all her outfits looked like something her mother would wear. Not saying this was a great episode, I'm pretty sick of Troi getting mind raped, but it did have a few amusing moments.

I always got the impression background characters were trying really hard to ignore their superiors' embarrassing/inappropriate antics out of respect or fear, rather than being truly unreactive.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Spock's Brain

I've been reading these reviews, and comments, off and on, for a few years now. Very enjoyable reading. I began watching Star Trek in elementary school, early 1970s. Even as a child, I knew this wasn't a good episode. As a youngster, I liked the friendship of the main three most of all. I also really wanted to be a crew member on the Enterprise. I had a vivid imagination.

I know Gene Coon wrote this episode. I don't believe he would have submitted a script this bad. I believe the damage was done after submission. Fantastically bad episode, however I admit that I still rewatch it.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 11:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

Why was Julian dressed as a tomato? Why has no one commented on that?

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Ross Carlson
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Time's Arrow, Part I

Recently re-watched this episode, in my top 5, and realized something that's always bugged me. Clemens mentions Mr. Whitley from the geological survey and Data says he doesn't know the man's name but he talks with several people in that office. Given the time period he was in certainly he would have been introduced by name or at somepoint he would have learned the names of everyone in the office. Name plates, on pieces of paper, conversation, etc. He'd only have to hear it once and he'd remember it perfectly forever. The way they play it and the line written would be more like a human would have probably heard it and just didn't remember as that'd be very common for anyone other than Data.

Anyone else notice this??
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Jason R.
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

K9T let me say that I agree with you in this case that upholding the prime directive where doing so results in a race's extinction seems dubious - especially considering that the Federation will happily consider lending aid to more advanced cultures. So if your culture has warp drive, like say the colony on Penthara IV, Picard will go to the wall for you, but if not - so long so sad! It is just arbitrary in some ways.

But to play devil's advocate, I'd say the PD is about more than just protecting others. The purpose of the PD is also to protect the Federation and its peoples from themselves and their own best (and worst) intentions.

TOS had several episodes where even Starfleet officers were corrupted by the impulse to play god before less advanced races. In this case they were not just averting a natural disaster like in Pen Pals but taking custody of an entire species. That kind of power could be corrupting. We know Picard et al. would behave ethically but there is a sense that the Federation does not wish to take responsibility for entire races.

What happens if the Boraalans don't thrive in their new home or suffer an even worse fate? Is the Federation hooked into becoming their guardians, like the Caretaker in Voyager?

Remember that the seed of Rodenberry's vision is not technology but a better human being. One has to believe that the only way to cultivate and maintain that better state of man is to curb the lust for power and dominance. In an inherently unequal relationship of dependancy between a less advanced race and the Federation there is too great a risk of power corrupting and sliding into domination. Cardassia"s relationship with Baajor offers a hint of where such a path could lead less stalwart men than Picard. The Prime Directive is a firewall against this dark path.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

3 stars for me - as many others have observed, the Traveler hokum of the final third derails it quite considerably, due to Menyuk's unconvincing performance and the daftness of having Wesley pressing buttons with his eyes shut in some kind of telepathic trance. The episode plays its hand a little too soon; we should have stayed in Beverly's reality until almost the very end, rather than starting to cross-cut between her reality and the real Enterprise, which pops the buble of mystery and intrigue which until then had been very effectively built up. Gates McFadden's performance in this episode is really excellent and holds the whole thing together - it's compelling, relatable and extremely well-realized, acting as a relatable anchor for viewers and basically saving the episode.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

>More importantly, if McCoy had a copy of Spock's mind up to the point when he entered the energizer chamber, why was revived Spock's first memory a dialogue he had with Kirk *after* uploading his katra? I hope somebody was fired for that blunder.

Really? I thought his first line was "The ship? Out of danger?" clearly shows he doesn't remember the dialogue with Kirk in the Antimatter Remix Chamber, else he would have known the outcome of that dialogue (in which he found that he saved the ship).

He replayed the dialogue to Kirk on Vulcan because that was what was currently on his mind when he gave his katra to McCoy. He repeated the very next words when he was restored that he said after he melded with McCoy, as not only artistic repitition, done very well as a parallel between the two movies' ending scenes, but also made sense in that Spock's katra would just start off from where he had left off, and replay those moments (and words) once he was restored.

Someone should have won an AWARD for that decision.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Given Shatner's pechance for overacting and strange speech patterns, Spock's death and the funeral was nothing short of a masterpiece of subdued emotion, subtlety, and low-key grief, perfect for this storied relationship.

Where many movies would give the big "NOOOOooooo! SPPPpooooockkk!" at the death scene, this gives us a quiet "no..." as if all energy had been drained from Shatner's body (as indeed it would for us if we watched our best friend die).

Where many stories would give this flowery, hammy speech with sobbing, crying, huge proclamations, this gives us one of the most stoic Shatner's quietly stating "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human." And the quivering of the voice leading up to the one crack just focused all of the sadness and grief that the character of Kirk must have been holding in, into that one small moment of vulnerability, where he shows his crew just how hard this hit him, how that invincible mask dropped for just a moment. And the way Shatner follows through with this scene sells the emotional moment so subtly, yet so powerfully, I think it is one of the best moments in all the Star Trek franchise.
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 1:14am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

No real understanding that this is an allegorical mythology of the sun and the moon, night and day? Wow, I guess I liked this episode because it gave some intellectual meat, rather than being just technobabble sci-fi action (which we see in almost every other non-Sub Rosa episode), but I guess the reviewer couldn't keep up intellectually with the ideas presented in this episode (which are very much like a condensed and "layman's version" of the myths of many non-Western ancient cultures), and as such, discards them all as "a mess."
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Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 12:58am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

>The Boraalans were selected by nature for extinction.

This is such a false premise that shows up constantly, it's frustrating to the point of tears. Nature is not a force with intelligence. It doesn't "choose". It doesn't "select." Under terms of natural selection, what is happening is that some mutation creates a numeric advantage (in terms of number of offspring that survive to reproducing age), so that one population can gain that advantage and win out numerically.

That's it.

Nature did not "select" these people. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, much like Data's friend in Pen Pals. There is nothing inherently wrong about either species that suggests they "deserve to die", as a qualification about "nature selecting them" would entail. So, there is no reason to allow that to happen, as if they are destroyed, there is no longer any civilization to protect and nurture with non-interference (thus defeating the whole point of "helping' a civilization by staying neutral, because that neutrality destroyed the civilization completely; which the academics among us would note is the opposite of "nurture").

The PD is basically saying if there is some social evolution (note, NOT natural phenomenon) that is leading to change in a society, don't interfere with that change, and let the species resolve it as they would without outside interference. It says (or shouldn't say) nothing about helping a species doomed to die because of natural phenomenon out of their hands.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

@ comments about Data and Pulaski (yeah I know I'm 5 years and 50 comments too late)

Pulaski didn't hate Data, though. Sure, she gave him a hard time (given her character's similarities to Bones' and Data's to Spock's she pretty much had to), but they were clearly friends and it was fun to see someone always putting him on his toes and challenging him. None of Data's other friendships had that nice back and forth, and it's not like he couldn't take a little ribbing (I don't recall her being actually mean to him at any point, either). I also liked her relationship with Picard, I could have totally bought it developing into romantic tension (personally I never saw any chemistry between Beverly and Picard).

Ok, the actual episode:

Why so many creepy episodes these last few seasons? Sure this one succeeded in being spooky but it always feels off to me when Star Trek tries to be The Twilight Zone. It's just so far from what they're usually off doing. Episodes like this just seem to clash with the worldview Trek usually puts on.

I did enjoy Data's poetry, especially the way he made sure to remind Riker to come. (I thought it was pretty brilliant, especially the first one that was probably describing an actual event (how many times in previous seasons did people ask Data to shut up in not so many words?), although the Spot one is a close second. I love little continuity nods like that, especially when they tie-in to character growth.) I wonder if anyone there was genuinely interested and didn't just come to avoid hurting his feelings, the whole room looked ready to fall asleep. I'm endlessly amused by the irony in that. I also enjoyed the scene where Geordi tries desperately to avoid hurting Data's non-feelings.

The rest of the episode, I'm not sure about. Like I said, I'm not sure how to take episodes like this.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

I hate how the writers and characters treated Scotty like he was some doddering old codger to be passed off to someone else at the nearest convenience - this is Scotty, for crying out loud! Scotty the miracle worker, Scotty who apparently wrote half the books on Starfleet engineering regulations! Geordi especially should have been hanging on his every word given how much Scotty's done, not snapping at him and sending him away. (This isn't the first time Picard has had to tell Geordi to play nice with someone, either. Geordi's generally a nice guy, but I'm noticing a pattern here...) The only characters who seemed willing to give Scotty the respect he was due were Picard and Data, and Scotty wasn't really interested in spending time with Data (given all the far more advanced androids Scotty encountered during his time with Kirk, I can't really blame him though, Data literally pales in comparison).

Scotty's been in stasis for 75 years and he came out alone as the only survivor of a deadly crash with the whole world now completely different, and other than Data creeping up on him at the bar and giving him a proper drink (Data's polite to everyone though, so that hardly counts) the only person even willing to sit down and talk with him is Picard. If this were some one-off character you could bet they'd be making a big deal out of this and would all be clamoring to listen to what he had to say and help him adjust to modern times. It's appalling.

I also hate how they robbed Scotty's character of all initiative. He's a captain and an engineering genius, and instead of giving him a ship or a place at Starfleet doing engineering research they make him content to take a shuttle craft and wander aimlessly completely alone, probably to just crash somewhere else and die for real this time. Not a very satisfying sendoff for an iconic and beloved character.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Flesh and Blood

Voyager involved in yet another mess that is none of their concern. Because "we gave them the technology." No. You can't be responsible for what a sadist does when you give him a fork. "Oh no, he's stabbing someone with the fork we gave him."

But it moves the plot along and brings up nice issues about sentient photonics. I like it. Of course you need the double reversal, where we find out that the leader of the photonics is deranged. He also happens to be an idiot who doesn't know the difference between sentient holograms and 1-job subroutines.

Not sure why I'm supposed to care about whether the Hirogen live or die. I do care how they seem to always be there, no matter how far away they seem to get from their home world. I'm waiting for the Oompa Loompas (Kazon) to show up again.

Janeway to the doc after his insubordination: "How can I punish you for who you are?"

Janeway to pedophile: "How can I punish you for who you are?"

Sounds like a solid way of running a ship and society.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

I went to see a midnight screening of this the day it came out and... blah, was not impressed in the least, but after having been thoroughly let down by 'Into Darkness,' was not particularly surprised.

After the brilliance of 'Star Trek (2009)', I was hoping that the momentum would carry on into the sequels and that the incredibly strong first movie would be a sign of even better things to come, but nope. It's a terrific shame as these films had so much potential. The casting was right on the money, especially for Spock, Scotty and McCoy. The first one was spectacular but after that everything went downhill. 'Into Darkness' was a rehash of 'Wrath of Khan,' and this one, the only good things about this one were the highly entertaining Spock/McCoy dynamic, the nice jacket Chris Pine wore at the reception in the last scene, and the ending theme, which was from TOS anyway. I can never resist it when someone says, 'These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilization, to boldly go where no man has gone before.'
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

Superb acting from Stewart in this episode. Was good to see Picard outside his comfort zone.

Kudos as well for referencing Star Trek IV when Picard and Riker are discussing attempts at time travel (slingshot around a star)
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

'Now I'm picturing the Gilligan's Island episode where they found the Japanese guy who thought he was still fighting World War II.'


Uhmm was that the Voyager episode where they found Amelia Earhart? 'The 37s' I think it was called.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Prophet Motive

I, too, thought that Bashir's annoyance/reluctance at being nominated was perhaps indicative of his genetic engineering, which was an issue that would come up in later episodes.

Eh, I liked this episode. The Grand Nagus Zek is hilarious and his voice and laugh are so ridiculous they're good. I also enjoyed seeing the Nagus' bodyguard, Maihar'du. Tiny Ron does a great job in that role and conveys a remarkable amount of emotion for someone who doesn't have any lines (his scenes as one of the Prophets don't count, as it's not him who's speaking).

Improbable Cause this certainly isn't, but it's entertaining enough.
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Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Shore Leave

Yeah.... this episode was pretty not-good, but at least it was kind of fun. Probably 2/4 for me (after 4/4 Balance of Terror and 3/4 Conscience). Better pacing than some of the early season episodes, but just a dumb premise that was pretty lamely executed. But it was nice to see the crew in an actual outdoor location.
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