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- Mon, May 25, 2015, 11:20am (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
Well, given that I am religious and have been my entire life and yet haven't turned to human sacrifices or holy wars, I'd say, yes, I am unwilling to take the "destructiveness of the religious mind" at face value.
This episode seems hell-bent determined to say that even the mere trace of belief in the supernatural will automatically lead to disaster. I simply do not, cannot, accept that. Has religion been used by evil people. Of course it has. Does that mean that every religious person is evil. Of course not. The vast, overwhelming, majority of theists are not, and have never been, in the business of doing what the Mintakans do in this episode. All it takes for these supposedly rational and logical people to go crazy is the slightest trace of belief. One guy shows up, says he saw a god, and immediately it's "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!" and "let's start fearing the weather!"
To me, that is what is banal - the unwillingness to even attempt to see the other side of the argument. As John Logan pointed out, religion has benefited humanity is numerous ways. Taking Christianity alone - it was Christians who originally built the modern university system, developed the concept of international law and ended the slave trade. To focus on only the good and ignore the bad about religion is only to create a straw-man. And let's be honest, there are bad aspects - the Inquisition was horrible, jihad is horrible, certain aspects of the Crusades were horrible, witch-hunts were horrible. But to do the reverse is also to create a straw-man.
If you, or anybody else out there reading this, is an atheist, I say - more power to you. It's your life; live it as you see fit, as long as you're not hurting anybody. But, I hate straw-man arguments and that's what this episode ultimately is. And it surprises me because Trek has had a history of more honest discussions about faith and non-faith - just look at episodes from "The Original Series" like "Balance of Terror," "Who Mourns for Adonis?" and "Bread and Circuses."
- Mon, May 25, 2015, 10:50am (USA Central)
I really want to like this episode, but it's just so bland, bland, bland.
Jeremy's only surviving parent is killed and his reaction is "how, sir?" = WTF! This kid hardly shows any emotion throughout the episode. Even in his "climatic" confrontation with Worf, he barely registers as upset. How much of this is due the unrealistic, and (let's face it) stupid, ideas Roddenberry often forced on the show and how much is due to the young actor, I don't know. But it just sucks the life and drama out of everything.
I'm inclined to think the fault lies with Roddenberry because even Wesley, Beverly and Picard are off emotionally. They all act as if they're not really affected by any of this, even though their dialogue suggests otherwise. The only one who shows any genuine feeling is Worf, and that's what saves this episode. Every Worf scene steals the show (from his insistence in Sickbay to join Picard and Troi in telling Jeremy what happened to his moody/hurt/angry dialogue with Troi concerning the Bonding).
I think it is funny, however, that we never see Jeremy again. He probably took one look at his new family tree and thought "damn, I should have went with Ghost Mom."
- Mon, May 25, 2015, 9:58am (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
I'm afraid it's glaringly obvious that your umbrage with this episode is an unwillingness to take at face value the destructiveness of the religious mind. Now that is your right and I'm not here to debate it with you, but you have devalued every nuance and beautiful turn of storytelling in this episode on the grounds that its message upset you, which is unfair. I find CS Lewis' conclusions to be woefully thin and borderline banal, but I don't hold that against the loveliness of his poetry or strength of his narrative.
- Mon, May 25, 2015, 5:45am (USA Central)
How can Phlox and Archer make that big of a decision themselves when they can contact Starfleet/Vulcans instantly at any freaking time.
And if they were seriously concerned about the Meng, how about they give the Valakians the cure under the condition they provide better conditions for them?
For all we know the Meng die out or devolve because the Valakians die out.
As for me, as I continue watching the series, I'm pretending this episode never happened because I like Phlox too much for me to think of him as a genocidal butcher.
- Mon, May 25, 2015, 2:52am (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
@Luke I completely agree. It is a little known fact that the Romans and the Greeks were just as fine with infantcide as many Liberals are with abortion, and like with abortion this mainly targeted girls. This was banned by the Catholic Church, along with polygamy, gladiator games, human sacrifice, forced marriages, and so on. In fact under the Romans you could force slaves to have sex with you but the church also banned that. Under the Romans women could not independently own property, yet the church also changed that. In fact witchhunts were long seen as Pagan nonsense by the Catholic Church being forbidden by Pope Gregory VII and Pope Alexander IV.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 5:22pm (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
I'm probably going to open up a whole can of worms (if it hasn't been opened already in these comments), but I really do not like this episode.
I don't think I could say why any better than another reviewer already has, so I'm going to quote it, with slight additions of my own. If you're interested, it's from this site.... rightfans.blogspot.com
"In this episode, we've got Riker and Troi serving as the mouthpieces for a philosophical treatise that begins and ends (apparently) with polygamy and pure egalitarianism (taking the form of tribal/communal life) and the supposedly logical Mintakans behaving completely and totally without logic. In their dialogue, we heard the away team go to great pains to present the Mintakans as deeply logical (and of course, what's more logical than open relationships and polygamy...or so you'd believe if you'd listen to Troi). But at the same time, as soon as the Mintakans are confronted with something they don't understand, they go ballistic and prepare for the human sacrifices, inquisitions and holy wars!
The writers cannot have it both ways and maintain intellectual honesty. Because if we're to believe the events of this episode follow logically from its premise, then the writers must be arguing that religion is the source of all logical failings and conflict...and that, my friends, could not possibly be a more dangerous or historically inaccurate message. History is filled with irrational conflicts over everything from sex to limited resources to conflicting religious ideals...but the mere PRESENCE of a belief in a higher being has never once (you heard me!) been the true source of any conflict. How do I know that? Because atheists have never run a country...apart, perhaps, from Soviet Russia and now Communist China...and um...those countries don't exactly have a sterling record of peaceful, purely logical co-relations with their neighbors. Like it or not, my agnostic or atheist readers...every government's peculiar form of authority and morality is informed by an ethical standard that is owed, at least in part, to one religion or another - or it is informed by the needs of the empowered few (dictatorships, cabals, etc)...and none of those governments made war with their enemies simply because the other guy believed in God or not. Why should we assume, then, that the Mintakans are both logical...and somehow prone to a belief in the supernatural that would lead them to commit heinous crimes? Why should simply believing in a higher power lead IMMEDIATELY to ritual sacrifice? Where is the logic in that?
Incidentally, while I'm tearing this show apart, what is logical about polygamy? The heroic Enterprise crew hears about this culture and they all smile and nod at how impressive it is. Do you know who, here on Earth, likes polygamy? Misogynists. That's right...polygamy has never once been employed in our entire history as a means to greater freedom for one gender...and almost always, it creates significantly lesser sexual and emotional freedoms for women. Of course, the Mintakans' brand of polygamy is female dominated (Trek writers love doing that, because if they did it the other way, people would see how wrong it was immediately)...but one gender having the sexual power over another is always wrong...no matter who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed. And this is a flimsy cover for an obviously bad idea. Women don't like polygamy! There may be a few out there who think open relationships and multiple partners are great, but they are dwarfed by the men who are impressed with it. And that's as easy to understand as anything you'll see on this blog. Women are biologically programmed to dream for the security, emotional bonding and child-rearing assistance of ONE man...one committed partner. As one philosopher put it, "Men dream of waking up with a different beautiful woman every day...women dream of waking up with the same man." You can't fight reality, no matter how badly you might want to...a female-dominated polygamy simply doesn't work, long term.
Not that a male dominated polygamy is good either...in both arrangements, it's the women who suffer. In one, women are viewed as prized possessions...social standing is gained by the men who can attain many wives, each of whom is there to service some specific need of his. In the other arrangement, women carry the biologically unnatural function of caring for multiple men...men who would become a drain on her resources and her emotional energy. All of which is to say...there is nothing logical or desirable about a society that practices polygamy. Don't believe me? You go ask the victims of Mormon ideology.
Compound this episode's lousy moral foundation with some seriously bad acting on the part of Kathryn Leigh Scott (Nuria) and Ray Wise (Liko) and even the regulars...including (gasp!) Patrick Stewart (who's over-dramatic bellowing about how he will not allow a culture to fall into the dark ages of superstition is as bad a moment as he ever gives us), and you have a recipe for a big steaming pile of shit.
Atheism is no more logical than mysticism...they're all "isms" and that implies they all are irrational beliefs in things that cannot be proven. There is no evidence that the appearance of belief in one God was the way into darkness for prehistoric man and no evidence that atheism is bringing enlightenment to us now. In fact, I would argue that belief in God has inspired our greatest achievements...INCLUDING our thirst for freedom and the Western belief that all life is sacred."
Add to all of that the fact that this is yet ANOTHER example of how the application of the Prime Directive is morally questionable yet never questioned. So, apparently isn't better if Liko dies than risk the initial contamination, huh Picard?
What can I say in this episode's defense? Well, the music was nice.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 2:22pm (USA Central)
^ Just clarifying above -
I *don't* necessarily think those episodes are "better put together" than "Lower Decks". Just that "Lower Decks" is at least as good as those ones, if not better.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 2:18pm (USA Central)
I'm pretty critical, but I see no reason why I should give this episode anything less than 4 stars and 10/10. Having Ben instead of Guinan hurts a bit, but it doesn't harm the episode so much as it harms the cohesiveness of the series.
Without repeating all the great comments above, I'll just say that I'm having a hard time thinking of an episodes that I can say is definitively better put together than this one. The only ones I can think of are "The Best of Both Worlds Part 1", "Darmok", "The Measure of a Man", "Ship in a Bottle", "The Wounded", and *maybe* "First Contact". "Lower Decks" is in some pretty elite company.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 2:16pm (USA Central)
The Perfect Mate
Of course they had sex. She explained the final step of the "finnis-ral" or whatever as bonding permanently. Whether it was because she saw him first when she emerged, or her words on her wedding day, combined with Picard's non answer of how he resisted (in order not to lie to the ambassador), it was clear they spent the night together. I think this is a beautifully tragic episode with remarkable acting by pretty much everybody, but Janssen is outstanding at conveying the reality of the being she is playing. And the Ferengi are the Ferengi - they are, as someone else mentioned, the perfect echo of the diplomatic drama playing out among the pricipals. Her dress is just amazing too - she plays the goddess with true conviction.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 1:47pm (USA Central)
The movie b-plot was way more interesting than the cargo ship plot, which was marred by leaden acting, and utter cliche and predictability. I almost fell asleep during the cargo ship scenes.
I was also struck by Tucker referring to Mary Shelley as being the wife of a famous poet, she is certainly his equal in literary stature and even surpasses him in my opinion. Frankenstein as the modern Prometheus is a prescient and great read to this day. Just another reason to dislike Tucker as he really grates on my nerves with his shallow and backwards thinking.
And herein lies one of my main issues with Enterprise: the humans on the ship don't appear to be the best and the brightest on Earth. They should have more sophisticated tastes and interests than watching water polo and old films. They're such boring, milquetoast and mundane people that it's hard to watch them or believe they are the best crew Earth could put together for the most important mission in history. Where's the dynamic renaissance man like Picard? Janeway and Sisko had serious interests in science, religion and history. I can't imagine Kirk wasting his time watching movies. Those captains were mature adults of action leading active lives, while the Enterprise crew are passive bystanders acting like children. Again, I can see why I gave up on Enterprise on its first go-around as it's such a dismal and depressing future with these humans supposedly being Earth's finest. T'pol (and to an extent Hoshi and Phlox) saves the show as the only adult on the ship.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 11:26am (USA Central)
Well, I can't disagree more with this score. It's a decent episode, but 4 stars? Hardly.
1.) The whole music-in-Troi's-head subplot was ridiculous. With an away-team on the planet researching how two people and a few acres of land mysteriously survived a planet-wide catastrophe Troi suddenly begins hearing music that just won't stop. Does she report this immediately? No. Does she think "I'm being telepathically manipulated? No. She just dismisses it and tries not to think about it. Is she stupid?! Even when it's to the point of driving her insane enough to cry into the mirror she STILL doesn't tell anybody until Picard flat out confronts her on her obvious problem. I'm sorry, but this just destroys any empathy I have for her in this situation.
2.) Kevin's not exactly the brightest bulb in the box, is he? He tried to fool the Husnock ship and failed. So, what's his plan for the Enterprise? Try to fool them. Genius level thinking there.
3.) If this episode where in the first or second season, Picard would have ended the episode with a monumental condemnation of Kevin's genocide while strutting around like a self-important ass. I'm so glad the crew is no longer acting like insufferable douchebags anymore, but here the writers went too far in the other direction. They're not qualified to be his judges? Yes they damn well are! Maybe the Federation isn't qualified, or capable, of delivering punishment and/or correction on him since he's so powerful, but they can still condemn him for being a genocidal murderer!
That being said, this episode does have some good elements. The acting is top-notch and I greatly applaud the writers for having the guts to have Kevin kill 50,000,000,000 people. It just a shame they ruined it with the moral relativism in Picard's final Captain's Log.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 7:29am (USA Central)
I like this episode. It is entertaining. If your hearts are so closed by detailed interrogation of the episode, you are never going to enjoy i!
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 7:05am (USA Central)
I've always had a hard time with this one. I agree with SkepticMI about Gowron's use; something that always nagged at me on DS9 was the difference in Gowron from Reunion to the end. But the casting here has always bothered me, like most of the Klingon casting in TNG after Reunion; the clerics had the right look but not the right look, and Kahless, though I cant necessarily fault the performance, but the physicality just ruins it; I damn near laughed along with Gowron.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 5:23am (USA Central)
Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
Someone mentioned a while back, that I was a little too hard on Bashir, well maybe I was. At times I felt he didn't use common sense. (ex. in a cloaked ship, going to rescue Dukat and co., with Klingons all around cloaked and he wants to stop and find survivors, which meant de-cloaking). Not this time. In spite of the fact that his values are misplaced, he was great. I really admired him for standing his ground and trying to help save Koval's life. If Bashir stood by and let someone get assassinate he would not be Bashir. He was set-up from the beginning by someone he trusted and played by Sloan with the help of Ross. This episode really proved that Roddenbury's Trek can't work even on Trek. With the brutal and chaotic universe they operate in, those Ideals fall flat. The Federation would cease to exist.
- Sun, May 24, 2015, 4:32am (USA Central)
@ Elliot: Finally, as I've said, the fact that the actors who play the Siskos, Kassidy and Worf, etc. are black is because the show was produced in the 20th century. By the 24th it's highly unlikely that anyone would be so racially pure anymore as to differentiate something as genetically minute as skin colour--especially enough to distinguish themselves as separate: "our people" as he said.
If only this would be true, but with the recent events in this country I would bet it wont change very much. You might say, its a serious problem with law enforcement, but that's just a small piece of a larger problem. If allowed, history will repeat itself. None of us will be around in the next 400 years but I would bet it wont be much different than it is now, some races like for things to stay as it is. They tend to believe differences are to be embraced and accepted. There are some races that want to pretend they are superior and there are others who couldn't care less.
I guess I just didn't like that ugly racist statement about "as usual, black guy can't help but mention racism and "his people".
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 7:59pm (USA Central)
Couldn't really get into it.
For starters, I don't know why Tom was so intrigued with the shuttle when he first saw it. He already has the Delta Flyer, which is pretty much his work in progress, isn't it? Anything he can do to Alice, he can do to the Delta Flyer as well, save for the Neurogenic interlink or whatever it's called.
I also found the actress who plays Alice a little lackluster. She just doesn't sell the manipulation parts. She comes acorss as flat and unconvincing, particularly towards the end. She detects Voyager messing with her shiels while B'elanna distracts Tom and she just doesn't transmit a sense of urgency or desperation, the way I feel she should. She's pretty to look at, but that's about it.
It wasn't all bad, though. I liked the opening scene where they try to guess Tuvok's age. I liked the bit where B'elanna gets locked in Alice and almost dies.
And I liked the joke Seven made where she tells Neelix that all sales are final, including his precious berylium crystal.
It works as a watchable hour, but just barely. Perhaps if Alice had been more convincing, it would have proven more interesting.
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 7:05pm (USA Central)
If Gowron could only see the future and his end in "Tacking into the Wind" :P
I think this episode adds a thread to the Klingon backstory that has been built over the years in TNG and concludes in DS9; it's a marvelous tapestry, the only complete story arc across all of Star Trek to be honest.
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 11:54am (USA Central)
The Ensigns of Command
I agree with just about everything Jammer has to say about this episode.
The B-plot on the Enterprise is more satisfying than the A-plot with Data, mostly due to Gosheven's idiotic stubbornness. It gets the point where this supposedly elected leader starts acting like an autocrat and anyone who disagrees with his decisions just needs to be silenced. At least the Sheliak have legitimate reasons to be obstinate. They're sitting in a position of power while the colonists are hopelessly outgunned - a fact that the viewer is all too aware of right from the get-ready.
I'll disagree, however, on Data's interactions with Ard'rian. Those scenes are what really buoy up the A-plot for me. It's nice to Data in something of a subdued romantic relationship which isn't bogged down by constant references to the fact that Data is completely unfamiliar with human romance - which is a problem I remember having with "In Theory."
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 4:55am (USA Central)
@Grumpy: "I just think it's more interesting to imagine a more layered world beyond the narrow perspective the series gives us."
I see. That would explain your suggestion of Picard as an "unreliable narrator".
As for me, I accept and cherish the vision of the future that TNG has to offer us.
Because as I just mentioned, it’s not just Picard. It’s the very fabric of the series, right there from the very beginning at "Encounter at Farpoint":
PICARD: Most certainly I deny it. I agree that we still were [a dangerous, savage child-race] when humans wore costumes like that four hundred years ago. [...] But even as far back as that costume, we had begun to make rapid progress.
The very pilot of TNG establishes the cornerstone of the series: the child-like race is no more. Which is perfectly book-ended by the final episode of the first season I quoted before, now in full:
PICARD: A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We have grown out of our infancy.
I don't know about you, but I find the optimistic vision of the future of TNG absolutely wonderful. Don't you?
I know things changed. I know that eventually we’ll see devious admirals such as Pressman on TNG, and before we know it we’re watching DS9. But at its core TNG retained a futuristic, optimistic message: humanity is improving. And one day, we may become an enlightened civilization of enlightened individuals.
Now, you may find it more interesting to "imagine a more layered world beyond the narrow perspective the series gives us," as you put it, and you’re of course in your right to do so.
But that reminds me of that wonderful line by Łem I have quoted before:
"We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds."
If indeed you try to "imagine a more layered world", aren’t you really merely trying to see a reflection of *your* world in TNG, instead of seeking out that new world and new civilization TNG proposes?
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 1:45am (USA Central)
been a star trek fan for almost forty years.deep space nine and the original series are my favorites.and i can say that this is certainly not a fluff episode even though it may appear that way on the surface.fiction,if it is done well and is believable and consistent over a long period of time creates its own reality for people.we see this with the entire senior staff of the station in this episode.fontaine and his lounge have become more than just a holoprogram to them.it has taken on a life of its own and they all step in to save it.kind of like what star trek fans did themselves back in the'60's.its why we as fans discuss the finer nuances of this universe.for me,thats the underlying premise of this show even if it seems frivolous at times.
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 1:36am (USA Central)
The Ties That Bind
You're enraged by Roslin, you want her to "stop trying to pull all this devious shit...." but Baltar is the only likeable character left? Now there's a character who's always on the up-and-up.....
Roslin clearly admits that Order 112 is draft legislation she's working on, not some hold-over from Zarek.
Maybe people should cut her some slack, she's always been messed up, particularly since New Cap. But, sorry, she's the CO. She doesn't have the luxury of being messed up. She acts like this, sooner or later she'll have a mutiny.
I *liked* Cally. No, she wasn't a main character, she was just sketched in, not fully developed, but she was the young innocent who just signed up to get dental school paid for. And she did her job. Better than many.
Cottle did not imply she was taking opium. She was taking anti-depressants, and he (in his usual acerbic way) wanted her to stop taking the meds, go home, and get some sleep.
Clearly, she should have gone to Adama. But, she's totally sleep deprived, her life has just gone from a nightmare to her worst nightmare, and she's totally strung-out. Had Tory not shown up, she probably would have calmed down and gone to Adama. (Oh, here's a deus-ex-machina -- how did TORY find her -- how did Tory even know to look for her? Jammer calls this the inevitable conclusion and I don't disagree -- but it's a plot hole you could fly Colonial One through....)
I was really sorry to see her airlocked.... and I was feeling neutral about Tory until this.... now I'm ready to see her roasted over a slow fire...
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 12:20am (USA Central)
If the U.S. was invaded by a foreign power tomorrow, I doubt NASA would be called to defend the borders and/or repulse the enemy.
I'll fully grant that Starfleet is not militaristic, and certainly not imperialistic. But that's a far cry from saying that "Starfleet is not a military organization."
As Elliott points out, a military is tasked with securing and defending the sovereignty of its nation. That's obviously one of Starfleet's primary objectives. Whenever the Federation needs something like that done, they turn to Starfleet. In "Errand of Mercy," when war broke out with the Klingons, it was Starfleet that defended UFP territory and interests. In "Balance of Terror," when there was a Romulan incursion into Federation space, Kirk was tasked to deal with the threat. Even in TNG, in the episode immediately before this one, Picard is sent to deal with a possible military threat to outlying Federation colonies.
The fact that their primary purpose is exploration doesn't negate the fact that they are, without a doubt, the armed forces of the United Federation of Planets.
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 12:04am (USA Central)
Really surprised at the negative reaction.. I liked this one a lot. Just a cool time travel plot with an nice character cameo, I found it fun.
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 12:04am (USA Central)
This episode, while nothing particularly special, is a truly welcome breath of fresh air after the slog through the first two seasons. I almost free like Dante emerging from the pits of Hell into the fresh, clean air of Earth at the end of the Inferno.
Crusher is back, thankfully replacing Pulaski for good. The updated uniforms give a sense of a new beginning. But, most importantly, gone is the over-whelming smugness and arrogance the main cast displayed in just about every episode up until now ("Q Who?" being a notable exception). It's nice to see these characters finally becoming a little humanized.
As for the episode itself - it's average, neither bad nor good. It's got a serviceable story with a passable guest star and good routine performances from the main cast. While the resolution seems rather rushed (the nanites inhibit Data and suddenly everything is fine within two minutes), it is nice to see TNG's main ethic of cooperation on display. It's much better than, say, "Peak Performance," where the concept of cooperation basically boiled down to the crew whining to the guest character that "you're not the boss of me," or "The Neutral Zone," where cooperation meant "shut up and don't be different than us!".
- Sat, May 23, 2015, 12:03am (USA Central)
Future's End, Part II
I remember watching this late at night, UPN before bed time. Voyager did not age well. 12 year old me loved it, especially when Jeri Ryan showed up in her domme suit.
This episode is every bad Voyager plot device: shuttle crash, fun with time, paper thin villains that make Snidely Whiplash seem deep, awful modern day stereotypes (courtesy of plucky white science girl and the conveniently paranoid, racist redneck militia men, ridiculous level Treknobabble and a completely disposable plot line.
One good thing: the mobile emitter giving the Doc a means to leave his confining world, though its just waaay too convenient. I would have preferred they create dramatic tension from the Doc's limitations rather than simply remove the limitations. I liked the early vibes of the Doc teaching Kes medicine because of the very real need for on-site medical care during crises the doc couldn't perform. But no---magical 29th century armband, problem solved.
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