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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

@Peter G., I got why Benny was in an asylum (based on FBTS), and I also recognized that Casey Biggs' character was clearly meant to represent the enemy and, more particularly, the Establishment (similar to how Marc Alaimo and Jeffrey Combs also played Establishment forces who were going to hurt him); obviously Benny is meant to triumph over Wycoff. I had thought, though, that the whole vision was created by the Paghwraiths in a way that matches up with his own vision and experiences, rather than that Wycoff alone is a representation of the Paghwraiths' presence. I felt that the Paghwraiths simply inadvertently hurt themselves in presenting their temptation for Sisko in terms which were clearly narratively engineered for Benny to triumph over the Damar (enemy establishment) analogue, but it makes sense if the writers' framing of the material matches with the Prophets', and that Benny's independent existence continues despite FBTS ending. That helps clarify the matter further; I guess the analogy is that within Benny universe, which is allowed some sort of independent existence (if only as a narrative), Wycoff is a figure who represents the forces that the Paghwraiths control, which then means that he represents the forces that the Paghwraiths are meant to represent and thus the opposition to Sisko's liberation of the Bajorans. I guess I was pretty glib in my take on that plotline, reading what I wrote again.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: E2

Well that one came completely out of left field - a definite WTF to find that another Enterprise had been doing a Voyager through the Expanse for over 100 years.

But hackneyed time travel or not, I found this to be an extremely enjoyable episode. That may be because I'm a sucker for the "what if?" episodes, but there were a whole bunch of really nice character beats in there (Reed being the most amusing). Lorian was also an interesting character and brought something new to the table. The shoot-em-up finale, as great as it looked, was probably a little overdone but the ambiguous resolution worked fine for me. 3.5 stars.
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Robert
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

@Peter - Well said. This vision for me does everything the other one doesn't. If FBTS was as organically integrated into the station plot as this episode is it'd go from a 3.5 to a 4+ for me.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

@ William B,

Benny was in an asylum because he had a nervous breakdown at the end of FBTS. The stresses of his vision being denied broke him but he chose to be broken rather than to submit. The scene in the asylum is a natural continuation, since he would surely have been committed after that explosive scene in the office.

What I think the viewer might misunderstand is that the false vision wasn't of Benny being in an asylum; that part was Sisko's 'reality'. The false vision sent by the paghwraiths was of the appearance of Dr. Wycoff, who seemed to be there to help Benny but really wasn't. His being played by Damar is the tell that this wasn't a real vision from the prophets, since they aligned the real DS9 characters with similar counterparts in the Benny Russel story (Dukat and Weyoun as racist cops, Quark as a misanthropic but caring dissenter, Odo as the maintenance of order, etc.). When we see Damar appear we should know that he's not a good guy and that his advice would be harmful to follow. But it sounds so reasonable to an audience that doesn't really buy into losing sanity for the sake of a religious vision that we almost want Benny to take the first step towards recovery. That's why I think the vision sequence is well written; it makes the paghwraith temptation alluring and even rationally correct.

I think this episode add substance to FBTS, since we now know exactly why Sisko is the dreamer and the dream: because he is both prophet and the one who fulfils the prophecy. Naturally this is a larger metaphor for life and creative agency, but in the particulars of the story it means that Sisko having faith in the prophets isn't just a matter of surrendering his will and being their servant. On the contrary, he's in part one of them, which means that faith in them mean having faith in himself, which is the whole point of the Benny Russel sequences and ties in nicely with one of the challenges of being a Starfleet Captain.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: The Forgotten

Notable for a standout performance from Connor Trinneer, which culminates in one of the most heartfelt scenes you could ever wish to see in Trek. Unfortunately the rest of the episode doesn't really match up for me. Yes, it's moving the plot along (albeit slowly), but the Xindi negotiations are not the most riveting bit of the story and while impressive visually the plasma leak again points to an episode treading water a little. 3 stars.
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Yanks
Mon, May 2, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

Agree Peter G.. Nice review.
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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ascent

@Luke, you know, I'm convinced. I think that this is a good show and I don't think I adequately explained why it doesn't get 3 stars on the Jammer scale from me, despite the Writing 101 and somewhat repetitive elements.

Looking back over what I wrote, I think I missed something (I don't know why this occurs to me now) -- Odo obviously played up that he was happy Quark was going to jail forever because he wanted Quark to talk about what he knew about the Orion Syndicate. I mean, I know that Odo *said* that he pretended he knew that Quark was going away for good but had no proof, but I guess I didn't fully register that this meant that his previous behaviour is also called into question. As long as he still has a goal in mind -- here, trying to trick Quark into revealing the information -- of course Odo being Odo he won't actually consider whether he actually wants Quark to go away to jail; it's more important that he play the hardass lawman role when that role might pay off with an arrest. In other words, Odo pretends the game is over so he can gloat, but the reason he is gloating is that the game is still going on. We don't really know *how* Odo would react if he thought he had finally caught Quark at this point in the series, where he and Quark have somewhat made progress on admitting to their relationship ("Crossfire," e.g.); by late season six Odo is willing to look the other way in "The Sound of Her Voice," but I think that is a consequence of things like their getting some of their issues out here as well as other events in season six. It is a good character piece.
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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: 'Til Death Do Us Part

First of all: hilarious moment in the "previously on...": Kira says "Worf didn't make it," and then cut to Sisko telling Kasidy "let's get married." All that Sisko was waiting for was to be rid of that Klingon....

Anyway, an improvement on "Penumbra," to be sure, partly by adding a fourth plot. This one really earns the A/B/C/D designation (with some Es floating around). Of course, it may be that A,B,C,D are ratings for the individual plots....

Worf/Ezri: I think the dialogue is mostly better than in "Penumbra," but the structure is very repetitive (as Jammer says, it begins to feel like a joke), some of the choices here are very silly, and, well, actually I think I have a fundamental disagreement with a key story choice. The dream material/Breen memory probes not only gives us another round of audio montage, this time with characters repeating what they said in previous episodes so that they don't get in trouble with Terry Farrell's lawyer again, we have Ezri mouthing, after an interminable series of quotations from Ezri-centric episodes, "...I love you, kiss me...Julian." Hey, weren't the rest of those lines things she actually has said? Anyway the real problem I have with this story is that it really does foreground Ezri having a thing for Julian as the reason that she and Worf don't work -- we can tell that she and Worf are doomed, and just mistaking nostalgia and grief for new love, because Ezri actually loves someone else. And that's quite a lazy shortcut to make the important point, which is that Ezri/Worf is a mistake. Worf's intense jealousy is, let us say, unbecoming, though it's something of a relief after he talks about how they will have many years together, etc. Oh well. Of course there has not been much real setup for Ezri/Julian -- yes, they had that scene in "Afterimage" and Quark and Odo talked about them holding hands in "The Emperor's New Cloak," but they have barely interacted and it still runs into the same problem as Worf/Ezri, which is that it will take a lot of effort to sell the audience (i.e. me) that the relationship is not just running on fumes from Jadzia and has something particular to Ezri. Still, I do think that is the point here -- Ezri has built a life for herself on the station, and over the time from "Afterimage" through "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" where she talked to Worf about three times, she formed a relationship with Julian (still mostly offscreen, despite Ezri's considerable screentime), so that she *has* formed a life for herself on the station which is not just a repetition of Jadzia's life. However, only her dreams know that for real! Can she and Worf figure this out, or will the Breen zap them a bunch more times?

Sisko/Kasidy: Basically, there remains no particular reason why the Prophets are so vague. The series really here pushes the notion of Sarah as being essentially Ben's mother, behaving toward him in a (humanoid) motherly fashion, while also insisting that Kira is right and that the Prophets cannot be clear and must continuously obfuscate because it doesn't work that way. Anyway, on the one hand I think Sisko is absolutely right to rebel against the notion of simply following what the Prophets tell him to do -- he is his own person. On the other, the last time he didn't do what the Prophets told him Jadzia died and he had something of a breakdown. I feel like Kasidy should surely be able to understand cooling the wedding plans (after all, Sisko only just proposed last week) based on Sisko's reluctance to repeat the same incident as last year. (Note: okay, so it seems as if Sisko is supposed to, what, break up with Kasidy because of Sarah-Prophet's warning? But the vision only came to him after he proposed to her, which indicates that there is something about getting married which is fundamentally different.) The question is whether the Prophets are telling him what his destiny is because they want him to do their bidding, or whether they are giving him important information. On some level, there is no clear resolution to this; the Prophets have such levels of power that they can basically do whatever they want. But I miss the TNG model of, in "All Good Things" e.g., Picard talking with his senior staff trying to figure out what Q is trying to tell him and to what extent he can be trusted, when it comes to beings of superior power. But anyway, I genuinely don't believe Sisko would make the choice he makes here. As people have pointed out above, he was willing to let his son be possessed in a potentially station-destroying death patch because of his faith. "Shadows and Symbols" if anything underlined Sisko's True Believer status much further. And as people have pointed out, it's strange he does not even consider that Kasidy might be placed in danger and that is the reason for the warning. I don't actually think Sisko *should* just do whatever more powerful beings tell him to do, in general, but this does seem to be a time to consider his next move carefully rather than do the binary break-up/marry-today dance he does, and even there I don't particularly believe that Sisko would make this call at this point in the series, given the development he's had.

What is interesting is that in addition to the Prophet-Emissary dimension, the mother-son material (emphasizing Sisko as Jesus, of course) somewhat brings Sisko's development down to Earth, as if we are seeing a case where a parent simply *knows* their child is making a big mistake marrying someone, but for whatever reason they can't articulate it and so their child makes this disastrous decision.

Weird moment in this plotline: Julian and Miles asking vaguely where Ezri and Worf are and Miles saying that they just went to get a gift. Ha ha. How many days late are they now, given that they were four days late at the end of the last episode? What's odd is how, because the plot needs Worf/Ezri to be alone for a while, the show violates established convention where people are *always* *very worried* about missing friends and go on risky rescue missions and so forth all the time, and can't focus or can't sleep etc., until these episodes where there is no indication that anyone is concerned in this episode at all.

I like Quark's role here advocating for Sisko to continue with the wedding (a shame to see that ring go to waste). Of course Quark has no idea why Sisko called off the engagement, but I think he would probably give Sisko similar advice even if he did, being an advocate for individualism.

Damar: First, I want to talk about the Dukat-Damar scene. I really love this closure to Dukat and Damar's story, and that Dukat actually gives Damar the inspiration to rise up. It's actually really remarkable. SPOILER: Given that "WYLB" destroys Dukat's "shades of grey," I really do love that even in the final arc, Dukat is allowed at least some shadings -- he really is able to inspire Damar to make large-scale change for good. Damar ends up something of a hero, albeit a very flawed one (who ends tragically). Despite being the one to start the Dominion alliance, it is Dukat who plants the seeds to save his people (and the Alpha Quadrant), though at a terrible price. And that also sort of works with the heel-much-worse-heel-turn Dukat makes in the Fire Caves; there is nothing to be redeemed, the show seems to be saying, about Dukat's role in Bajor's history. But we see here that despite his evil and self-serving decisions, Dukat *does* have some genuine feeling for his people, as represented by Damar, and so his influence on Cardassia is not wholly negative. That spirit from on the Klingon ship with Damar is part of what help turn the tide.

Otherwise, I think the material here is very effective but still mostly set-up. One key moment that I liked was Damar's demanding Weyoun tell him what's going on, and Weyoun doing that great glare and then softening and saying "of course." The sense that Weyoun is always deciding whether to issue threats or flattery is pretty well done. The Dominion/Breen alliance -- well, more about that in the next few episodes. I think it's a neat, though not that important, detail that the Founder's making an alliance with the Breen means that she is finding new allies who can deal with the cold which is currently useful for their disease, whereas the Cardassians are obsessed with the heat.

Dukat-Winn: Irrespective of where this plotline is *going*, I really enjoyed it in this episode. It is somewhat repetitive to have several scenes of Dukat dropping information to tide Winn over, but I think as a seduction/manipulation it is very well done. Dukat's fake humility, which cracks at certain moments, is a joy to watch, and the way he gradually wears down Winn's defenses by appealing to her vanity, faith *and goodness* (i.e., by bringing up her actions to save lives during the Occupation and linking himself to that) shows him bringing his manipulator A-game. The Restoration set-up here -- the farming metaphor of needing to burn the land to set it anew -- really does appeal to the fundamentalist in Winn...and yet this episode spends more time than any previous ones making Winn genuinely seem to be a person, with an interior life, lonely and with a need to be loved. Okay, so Winn/Dukat's coupling is very fast, but it's worth noting the contrast here with the Sisko story, wherein Sisko at least has separate, established feelings for Kasidy which exist independently of his Prophet experiences, and is willing to keep those feelings alive without the Prophets, whereas Winn is so dedicated to the Prophets and yet so hungry for power (and, as we find out here, love) that she jumps at any opportunity that seems to allow her to please both personal and religious urges. Obviously the Prophets want her to be in this relationship. Despite Shakaar being the official head of state, Winn has still more or less been the key "most powerful Bajoran" (see, e.g., season five), and having Dukat seduce *her* surely satisfies his perverse longings for Bajoran acceptance combined with the desire to defile Bajor, with Bajor "willingly" agreeing. A key moment that I think is telling is when "Anjohl" talks about how Sisko can't understand what it was like to be Bajoran because he wasn't there during the Occupation; while Dukat is surely manipulating Winn, I also think he basically believes what he is saying, and believes that he, Dukat, *can* understand because he was there during the Occupation. Oh, fine, so he was the prefect rather than one of the billions under his thumb -- details, details.

So I find the story about the non-regulars more compelling here than the Sisko or Worf/Dax stories. I'd say 2.5 stars.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Damage

An interesting example to me of an episode that sets out on an unremittingly dark path - which lies closer to my personal tastes - but yet which I feel is not entirely successful.

For me the big problem is the falseness of the set-up. Enterprise needs to be at point A, for which they need a warp coil, which they can get from a ship they just met, which doesn't have a spare. Oh, and despite all the killer fiends the Enterprise has encountered since they entered the expanse these happen to be nice guys. OK, it doesn't detract too heavily from the drama but ultimately it does throw me out of the story a little.

The T'Pol story is almost a surprise in addressing an issue that has been very subtly evolving for weeks without any real open discussion of it, which makes it a very unusual plot device for the Trek franchises. Fair play for that one, it's a compelling watch. 3 stars overall.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Azati Prime

A strong but slightly unsatisfying episode that is big on spectacle but slow on resolution - hopefully setting us up for a big finale next time.

What works well is the final act - the pasting the Enterprise takes is stunningly realised in VFX and live action work. Not every day we get a human torch on Trek. But it does take a while to build itself up to that point, and the problematic appearance of Daniels yet again as a plot device left me rolling my eyes a bit. What was better were the signs of internal conflict among the Xindi. 3 stars.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 7:40am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Hatchery

Another disappointing episode. Ironically I was one of those that thought Archer's initial solicitude toward the insectoids was as a result of one of the strange jerks of morality that the writers have him perform on occasion, until it quickly became apparent that there wasn't going to be anything interesting going on here but another standard story. The mutiny was completely as you would expect, and even the Stafleet/MACO split wasn't mined for drama at all. 2 stars.

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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 2:49am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Penumbra

Also, Sisko saying "she won't forgive me [if I don't let her go]" is such BS -- come on man, we have been through this in "Change of Heart." You disapproved then of this type of rogue life-saving with Worf/Dax. I know it's different (by a huge margin). But the point is that either Sisko should give Ezri permission to take the Runabout, or he should retrieve it; it's not like she owns the Runabout. I know he tacitly gave her permission by sending her the files, but it's the "tacit" element that's irksome. Oh well.
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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Penumbra

The DS9 final arc begins on a somewhat muted, low-key note, which overall didn't work for me this watch. Roughly, the episode has something of an A/B/D(/D) plot structure. The Sisko story gets the opening and closing scenes, so I guess it gets the A-story, though the Ezri/Worf story probably gets more screentime and is thus the B story. The C story is a pretty general "happenings on Cardassia" plot, which could, I suppose, be split into a C-story following Damar and a D-story which is the single scene of Weyoun talking with the Founder (or, perhaps, split further). Of note, here, is that this structure does more or less tell what the final arc will be about: Sisko and the Prophets, the Dominion War and internal fissures therein, and personal (mostly romantic) unfinished business.

So, plotline by plotline:

Sisko: You know, I applaud that Sisko/Kasidy was mostly kept a low-drama romance, "For the Cause" excepted. However, the consequence of that is that there hasn't been all that much material on that relationship, and I didn't find myself all that invested in their getting married. Arguably the best thing about the show's handling of Ben and Kasidy is that the relationship is/was somehow understood not to be the most important thing to Ben (or, as we see in For the Cause, Kasidy) and not the defining trait of the characters. However that does mean that the dramatic push of this plotline where Sisko has to choose between Kasidy and the Prophets' warning feels pretty abstract. And while it's not the choice I'd *like*, frankly the series has laid a lot more groundwork for Sisko doing what the Prophets tell him than for him to prioritize his relationship with Kasidy. Sisko was willing to risk his death for the visions back in "Rapture." While Worf/Dax got the goodbye in "Call to Arms," there was never any effort to state exactly how Ben/Kasidy dealt with being apart when the station was abandoned, or reclaimed. Sisko's choosing between duty and wormhole aliens' warning in "Tears of the Prophets" led to him leaving the station for months, with no mention of Kasidy between her appearances in "The Sound of Her Voice" and "Take Me Out to the Holosuite." Again, that's not by itself so bad, but it makes Sisko's Difficult Choice in this episode have a little less heft. Sisko has been somewhat MIA this season, too. On the Prophets' side, having Sarah be the avatar for the Prophets generally makes the Prophets seem that much more human and thus banal, which makes her/their refusal to come straight out and tell Sisko what will happen if he marries Kasidy more frustrating. I guess I will say more about the dilemma in my comments on "Til Death Do Us Part."

The dialogue is clumsy sort of throughout all the station material, but it's especially bad in that opening scene, where Sisko and Kasidy recap the season opener to set up Sarah's role and recap Sisko's "house on Bajor." Sisko's somewhat obsessive focus on that house model is sort of justified in dialogue by the idea that he's trying to keep his mind off Worf and Ezri's absence, but still feels odd to me. What the material emphasizing Sisko's connection to Bajor does is emphasize the connection between him and Dukat, who takes on a whole Bajoran identity but also, unlike Sisko who really wants to live on Bajor, emphasizes to Damar that he has no plans to stay a Bajoran. The set-up for the Emissaries of the Prophets/Pah-Wraiths as opposing figures continues.

Ezri/Worf: This is the plotline that annoyed me the most, for various reasons. Worf's disappearance leads to a series of scenes of Ezri being sad in her quarters, then sad in Worf's quarters, then sad on the Runabout. If anyone else on the station is concerned that Worf is missing and possibly dead, we don't see it, except for the brief suggestion that Sisko is working on the model to distract himself. Presumably O'Brien is concerned about his friend offscreen, and after all the plot is only there to justify the Worf/Ezri story, but the intense Ezri-centrism to the exclusion of showing any other reactions to Worf's death felt myopic and got on my nerves. The audio montage in Worf's quarters felt tacky to me (so you could imagine how I would react to a full visual montage!).

Then after rescuing Worf, the Ezri/Worf scenes are incredibly irritating -- her attempts to make conversation would drive me to distraction, too. I do get what they were going for; Ezri slips into Jadzia's skin and old conversational habits of bemusement and sarcasm with Worf because of the depth of feeling that's still there, and the line between her and Jadzia keeps getting fuzzy. Worf is initially very upset with Ezri's attempts to engage with him in Jadzia-like ways but then realizes he sees Jadzia in her, after all, and bounces back and forth between insisting that she stop bringing up Jadzia and comparing her to Jadzia. Ezri bounces back and forth between forgetting that she's not Jadzia and insisting that she's not Jadzia. It is no doubt a confusing, difficult situation.

Then they argue because they are stressed and have sex. The argue-sex cliche is unconvincing in and of itself, but, okay, tensions running high etc. After the sex, time to discuss the reassociation, at which point Ezri blithely dismisses it, which undermines "Rejoined" quite a bit. Worf, meanwhile, not only has a we're-married-now attitude, which, well, I guess that's how he takes sex and that's consistent, but also really seems to think that his relationship with Ezri is a direct continuation of his relationship with Jadzia, which requires seeing Ezri as being that similar to Jadzia. And I dunno. OK, so: obviously this has not been "building" since "Afterimage," because Worf has ignored her all this time, as Ezri mentioned. The way this can work is if Ezri and Worf are basically *so close* to falling back into old patterns that it takes just a tiny bit of time together for all the identity confusion to seize Ezri until she really thinks she wants to rekindle Jadzia's romance, and for Worf to think Ezri really is Jadzia 2.0. But Worf has barely spent any time with her, first off, and second she is not so similar to Jadzia that it reads to me that Worf would get to this love-forever point with her based on knowing little about her. It bothers me that Worf and Ezri seem so...*nonconflicted* about an obviously messed up situation, and while some of that is that they were captured by the Breen and can't exactly spend all their energies having second thoughts about having sex, it still seems to flatten the characters to suggest that their previous-life attraction is enough to spontaneously change on a dime like this. I am probably just insufficiently romantic.

I think part of the problem for me, too, is that I feel like Worf's perspective has been pretty lacking since "Afterimage" (or, okay, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," where he had lots of lines). Yes, there's "Once More Unto the Breach," but that was one episode about a particular situation; otherwise Worf has had almost no material except as generic authority figure or as somehow imposing to Ezri in "Field of Fire." It's not just a matter of "how has Worf dealt with Ezri?" because, yes, I can certainly imagine Worf just ignoring Ezri for months and months. It's a matter of, what has Worf been DOING with himself, now that his wife is dead? What is his experience like on the station now? He did not move back onto the Defiant. Does he spend time with Miles and Julian? Is he only commanding Klingon ships? Did helping get Jadzia into Sto-Vo-Kor resolve things for him or is his life empty? I can imagine, and some sense of what Worf's experience has been like would maybe make his behviour with Ezri more convincing. Oh well.

On Cardassia: it's interesting how little actually *happens* in those early scenes, but they are doing set-up for Damar's situation starting to boil over, as well as reestablishing the Founders' disease. Dukat's entrance and odd plan works, in part, to underline for Damar how far he has fallen -- Damar has taken on Dukat's petty vices, but Dukat himself has grown beyond them (to grow worse ones -- who needs booze when you get periodically possessed by evil fire monsters). The embarrassment Damar feels at Dukat seeing him, along with the tension remaining from their previous encounters (and the unspoken but still present reality of Ziyal), is well portrayed and works as a way of kickstarting Damar's self-reflection.

Overall I found this episode slow, with often obvious or unsatisfying dialogue. Of the three plots, the Ezri/Worf one actively bothered me, the Sisko/Kasidy one felt neutral and I enjoyed the Cardassia material, so 2 stars for the whole package.
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Daniel B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 2:20am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

Season 7 was weak. I don't know about the weakest as 1 and 2 weren't that great, but it was certainly a letdown after 3, 4, 5, and 6. TNG was clearly on it's way out and declining and probably had used up enough good ideas that it wasn't likely to get any better. But there were enough really good episodes in season 7 that it was a worthy season still, and certainly it wasn't so bad that anybody should be claiming season 6 should have been the end.

So you know what that all adds up to? They ended TNG exactly when they should have. Not very many notable tv shows can really say that. Most get cancelled before they reached their full potential, or else drag on far too long, like a former superstar athletic who doesn't want to retire. But TNG lasted exactly the right amount of time.
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Daniel
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:52am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: The Pegasus

The Enterprise decloaking in this episode is the best single scene in any iteration of Star Trek just for pure magnificence.

{ I get there was a treaty, but what did the federation get out of it? Nothing. People love to make excuses . . . there really is no reason Starfleet cannot have a cloak, that is all I meant by my comment. }

Consider the series never goes into the detail of the treaty these types of statements are always ludicrous. My personal guess: It has something to do with how the Federation flat out STOLE Romulan cloaking tech in TOS - The Enterprise Incident. But presumably there was some concession the Romulans made in return for this.
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Jeffery
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:30am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

@Alvin, I think you're a little confused as to the definition of a bottle episode...
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robrow
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:25am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: The Q and the Grey

As a follow-up to Deathwish, that was ghastly. Although the opening scenes and de Lancie's repartee were as good as usual. I can understand how the production team thought it might be a ratings winner, but I almost hoped the civil war story was one almighty scam by Q to get Janeway to sleep with him. No such luck.
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Daniel B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Next Phase

"Of course, the nitpicker in me has to ask exactly what it is about this technology that makes it possible to pass through all objects except, of course, the floors. "

Easy - artificial gravity. Although there are still a couple of logic holes I found - resting a hand on a workstation, sitting on chairs in the shuttle.
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Luke
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ascent

Oh, something I forgot to mention....

Another wonderful plus to "The Ascent" is that it actually focuses on Odo's new status as a Solid. Given that he'll be returned to a Changeling just three episodes from now, that's definitely a welcome addition. Actually, the show hasn't really focused all that much on Odo's new solidity since "Apocalypse Rising", has it? Episodes either skim over it with a few quick lines of dialogue or just outright ignore it. However, here Odo actually has to deal with the fact that he's Human when he breaks his leg.

For that I'll be generous and up my score.

8/10
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Daniel B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

What they really should have done was leave out the stupid "Riker falls in love at first sight and wants to spend the rest of his life with her" crap.

Without that, it's actually a good story because it reverses thing. They made the odd-sexuality/gender-out people the oppressors and the familiar-gender/sexuality-to-most-people-who-watch-the-show people the oppressed, as if to say "Here's how it's like from the other side. What if society told you that you were wrong for being male or being female?"

I must say, it wasn't excellent, but it pulled off this "role reversal" 50x better than Angel One did.
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Luke
Mon, May 2, 2016, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ascent

Take two characters and stick them in a room together. If they're both good characters and/or have at least something of a decent relationship established, wonders can occur. That's why TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II" works so well. It's why DS9: "Waltz" and ENT: "Shuttlepod One" will also work so well. Odo and Quark are both great, not good - great, characters and have a wonderfully complex and intriguing relationship. Placing them alone together in a room (well, nature really) was not only a brilliant idea, it produced a truly enjoyable character-based episode.

Oh sure, the story is kind of repetitive and nothing really unexpected happens. The idea that one of the characters has to single-handedly save the day after the other is injured literally comes from Writing 101. But so what? These two actors (and the characters and relationship they've created) more than adequately carry the story. And while "The Ascent" is largely a filler (or maybe a bottle) show, the writers still managed to offer some good character insights. For example, we're shown that Quark is, in fact, a fairly decent guy. He may be a petty thief and a scoundrel, but he certainly isn't villainous enough to achieve admittance into the Orion Syndicate - Trek's rather thinly veiled version of the mafia. And, despite his statements to the contrary, he's not willing to leave Odo to die alone until he absolutely has to. It's always nice to see Quark actually treated with respect by the writers.

Meanwhile, over in the B-plot, we get another relationship story, though a less effective one. Probably the best part of this plot was its use of Rom. You know, maybe having him leave Quark's employment in "Bar Association" was a really good idea after all. Because he sure has been used better, as a character, since his abysmal use back then. The scene of him telling Sisko that he fears that Nog is really a Changeling is comedy gold. "Nog's moved back in with me, you know. It's horrible. He put me on report the other day. Said my tool kit was untidy. That's the exact word he used. Untidy. *shakes the vile of Nog's blood again*" That literally had me laughing out loud. The problem with the B-plot is that, while it mirrors the A-plot's focus on Odo and Quark quite well, it is resolved far, far too quickly. Jake and Nog have grown so different and far apart that they literally can't stand each other any more. However, one quick little scene together and everything is just fine and dandy again between them. The dreaded Trek Reset Button reared its ugly head rather noticeably here.

7/10
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Daniel B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 12:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Conundrum

Here are my answers to the 2 big plot holes:

1) Why could MacDuff and his species have even needed the Enterprise? Maybe their mental beam technology was way advanced, but their conventional weapons were crap, or maybe their enemies found a way to block the memory beam (which the Federation probably could too, but they'd never encountered it before), or maybe they just have a much smaller population and industrial base and so are badly outnumbered despite superior tech.

2) Why didn't he make himself the captain? Because he hasn't got the foggiest clue how to run the ship. Everyone else retained their skills and technical knowledge, so he had to put himself in a place where he could get away not spouting technobabble about the ship's capabilities or how to do anything, but he could command most of the people who did (and advise anyone he couldn't command).
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Luke
Mon, May 2, 2016, 12:14am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Things Past

As something of a spiritual successor to "Necessary Evil", "Things Past" is a very worthy episode which ultimately fails to achieve the same commanding heights. Everything in "Necessary Evil" worked together like an exceptionally well-oiled machine. However, there are a couple of elements in "Things Past" that simple throw a monkey wrench into that machine. When the episode works, it works phenomenally well. But it does stumble.

The scenes in Odo's mind dealing with the Occupation and his closely guarded secret failing are indeed every bit as good as "Necessary Evil". The lighting, the camera work, the acting and the surreal imagery at the end all add up to a very compelling story. And it offers some magnificent character development for Odo - finding out that he isn't as perfect as he likes to portray himself as is a very interesting layer for the character. The final scene, especially, being an almost exact mirror replication of the ending of "Necessary Evil" - right down to Odo bowing his head in shame like Kira had earlier done - was a very nice touch. Sadly, whenever the episode cuts back to the "present" or "real world" it completely destroys the allusion and atmosphere. The framing device of the four characters in the Infirmary with Bashir and Worf looking after them was simply unneeded. Whereas the framing story in "Necessary Evil" worked smoothly with the flashback sequences (Odo's noir-style log entries, Quark's involvement, etc.) and added a great deal to the overall picture, this framing narrative adds virtually nothing to the mix except techno-babble, padding and an unnecessary sense of mortal jeopardy. One or two scenes to set the situation going, I could get behind that. But the countless interruptions to the much more intriguing and worthy A-plot were just poison. The early parts of the show should have been full of mystery and intrigue. Instead that potential is cut to pieces by having it all explained for the audience by Bashir.

And there's a second major problem with "Things Past" - a problem that goes by the name of Garak. As awesome a character as Garak is - and Andrew Robinson continues to shine in the role here - he simply should not have been in this episode. This story takes place a mere five months after "Broken Link". Shouldn't Garak still be serving his six month sentence in a holding cell for attempting to wipe out the Founders? Given how Garak's punishment was such a big deal in the Season Four finale, this is a continuity error of astronomical proportions. Or did Sisko just decide, off-screen, to let Garak out early so he could attend a conference on Bajor? If they had aired the episode only a few weeks later in the season this wouldn't even be a problem. But as it sits, I have to dock the episode a point for such a glaring gaff.

Overall, Jammer is 100% right when he says that "Things Past" is "a standout episode that approaches greatness." It doesn't quite get there - better focus on continuity and a few script rewrites to tone down the B-plot would would have probably made it so.

8/10
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Edax
Sun, May 1, 2016, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Twilight

Something that really irritates me about Enterprise is the sexism on display. Hoshi is intelligent and has invented revolutionary technology and helped facilitate first contact with a number of species and diffused a number of diplomatic problems: no promotion in 12 years. Trip on the other hand is dumb as a bag of hammers, racist, “learned about warp cores working on a fishing boat”, will blow up the engine and cause himself severe brain damage that requires a partial brain transplant not 2 episodes from now, and this is the man then gets promoted to captain of the Enterprise??? Is that the Star Trek utopian message? That if you’re a white male, you’re on the fast track to the top, no matter how inept and incompetent?

When T’Pol is captain (finally she gets to wear something that makes her look like a professional), it is automatically described as a “disaster”. When she desperately rams the Xindi ship, Trip viciously condemns her decision, but he doesn’t offer an alternative on what they could have done. T’Pol gets them out of a tight situation, and Trip just disrespects her authority in front of everybody and offers nothing constructive (yeah, real command material there Trip…), whereas T’Pol remains very professional coolly reminding him that she’s in charge, and that he must go through proper channels to have her removed. And we’re supposed to believe her command is a disaster? T’Pol managed to get everybody out of the Expanse alive whereas Trip’s command resulted in his death, and the death of his bridge crew in the first few minutes of the battle.

Reed, another white male, gets to be a captain of his own ship, but at least that makes sense given that he’s competent and knows how to follow the chain of command. Though the reason he’s manning a tactical station instead of captaining his ship is beyond me. Was his rank honorary?

The ending of this episode really grates on me. It’s not the reset button that bothers me, it was obvious that was going to be pushed the moment Earth blew up, it was how we got there. T’Pol, whom throughout the episode has slowly devoted her life to Archer, captaining a ship throughout its darkest hours and deciding to tie her fate to humanity’s…is thanklessly shot in the back to die instantly while operating controls to save the day. They couldn’t even give T’Pol the heroic moment, despite all the sacrifices she made, they have to give it to Archer, whom gets shot square in the chest and is barely fazed, then gets shot in the back by the exact same weapon T’Pol was, and he can still has the fortitude to move levers around, this despite the fact that T’Pol, being a Vulcan, has the strength of 3 humans. Jeez, what does that say about T’Pol, that she can’t even last as long as Archer, a man who loses every fist fight he ever gets in, despite her discipline and strength. And as a final indignity, Archer collapses on T’Pol’s, as if all she was good for in the scene was to have her dead body soften the fall for the real hero: Archer. Even Phlox gets to have a heroic death, with sparks flying and his body flying several feet during his last stand. Guess the best women can hope for being allowed to wear a uniform…

Still, horrible sexism aside, this was a great episode; combining the movie Memento with Year of Hell was an interesting idea. I do agree it should have been a 2 parter, imagine of Year of Hell as single episode, there would be no time to explore the damage or consequences. This episode I feel glosses over T’Pol’s captaincy too quickly, seeing what was left of humanity in that colony would have been interesting. Heck, how they rebuilt Enterprise’s nacelle is a total mystery, it would have been interesting to see Trip on EVA rebuilding the coil, Star Trek nacelles are hardly ever mentioned in the shows for some reason, and seeing a retro nacelle with the turbine would have been cool. So many things could have made the episode better, such as ditching the total reset button that means all of what we said never happened and had no effect. I point to the Stargate SG1 episode There But for the Grace of God where Dr. Jackson ends up in an alternate dimension, where the impending Earth invasion happens is in progress. Not only does he witness the devastation of the invasion and watch all his alt!friends die, but he also attains critical intel from that universe and brings it back into the prime universe. Everything that happened in that episode happened, while also showing what the stakes were, and providing tools for the characters to work against the problem. Archer should have gone back and retained some of the memories, even if it was a few hours of his last day. He should have taken with him some knowledge, like T’Pol’s regrets as captain, (ex. The Xindi aren’t united, we should have gotten some of them on our side, I shouldn’t have gotten high on Trellium-D, ect.), so that Archer in the present can now go forward with a plan and a direction, even if the outcome of the new direction is still uncertain.
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Skeptical
Sun, May 1, 2016, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

Not my favorite, but not for the same reasons other people are complaining about. Basically, I really, really liked this idea, and just wish they did more with it. The very first Klingon episode of TNG (Heart of Glory) and the very last Klingon episode of DS9 (Tacking into the Wind I think?) dealt with the same theme, as did many of the episodes in between. That the Klingon Empire, with all its emphasis on honor and tradition, had lost its way and was a shell of what it used to be. There was constant tension between those trying to revive the empire (the dissidents in Heart of Glory, the monks in Rightful Heir, etc.), those trying to keep the status quo (K'Mpec, Gowron), and those willing to abuse the lack of honor for their own gains (Duras and company).

Even Undiscovered Country, although it didn't focus on the honor aspect, showed us dissent among the Klingons. It's not surprising that this concept keeps coming up; it's so rich with so many possibilities to mine for from all sorts of angles. We saw political intrigue, religious revivals, good people swallowed up by the infighting, everything you could think of. So another episode in this vain is not a bad idea, but I just wish they did it better. And spent less time focusing on the standard action (of course there will be a bat'leth fight, right?) and more of fleshing out these characters.

For starters, the main Klingon guy frustrated me. So, um, does he still believe in his mission or not? The fact that he flat out tells B'Elanna to lie and claims he only wants to settle down suggests strongly that he doesn't. And yet, he is genuinely shocked that B'Elanna doesn't practice any aspect of the Klingon religion, and then offers his own prayer. He also seems to genuinely want the daughter to be the messiah, even if he doesn't believe it. So which is it? People who have lost their faith often become 100% opposite and turn into militant atheists. They also occasionally slowly fall out of belief, in which they look at their belief with embarrassment but still feel uncomfortable with a complete split. He didn't act like either of these. Instead, he acted how Hollywood seems to think religious people are, that's it's akin to a fashion statement that people choose or not choose on a whim. That the truth doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if she's the messiah or not, just what we can get away with.

If you're going to have a show about religion, why is the main guest star so cavalier about it?

Instead, I think they could have worked it in that he was still a true believer. The bit about convincing B'Elanna to go along with it could still work. He could have talked to her that it doesn't matter what she believes, and tried to convince her to look at it that way. Remember how Kira basically explained the prophecy in scientific terms for the Starfleet crowd in Destiny? And the rest of the crew could have convinced B'Elanna to go along with it. I think it would have been stronger if he had been so desperate to have finally found the messiah that he wanted to believe anything, that he would go to any length to dispel any doubts he may have had. He would have been a more believable character and made his situation more tragic. Instead, he was just the designated hero for the episode with inconsistent writing. What a waste.

Meanwhile, the giant elephant in the room that NO ONE was mentioning was what was going to happen if the Klingons did accept her daughter as the Messiah? Wouldn't they then want to stick around and follow her? Wouldn't they demand B'Elanna stay with them? Surely the scrolls don't suggest the messiah's mom should find them a new home and then leave them, correct? This could have added more tension to the episode.

Speaking of which, the episode completely failed to really show how B'Elanna would feel about this. For one thing, her incredulousness about the whole deal was disappointing after Barge of the Dead. She was willing to risk her life based on her belief in the Klingon religion. Yes, it was ambiguous, and it was more about saving her mother than her own spiritual growth, but it means she's open to believing in such things. So why did she completely reject the possibility? As Tom said, it's an incredible coincidence that they ran into them, that B'Elanna was pregnant at the time, etc. No, she isn't going to suddenly become a true believer, but I could imagine she would be more conflicted. At least give a hint that this whole situation is troubling her beyond simply being annoying...

And again, why did she think the problem would simply go away at the end of the episode? The Bible states Mary would have great sorrow in her life, so being the mother of a messiah is not an easy task. And if you want a more pop-culture, secular example, look at Sarah Conner from Terminator. The knowledge that her son was the savior of the world turned her life completely upside down. John Connor did not have a normal childhood. Sarah was not a normal parent. If she was going to go along with saying her daughter was a messiah, wouldn't B'Elanna have to eventually tell her daughter? Isn't that a huge responsibility for her daughter? What if these Klingons somehow find a way to contact the rest of the Klingon empire? What if the entire Klingon race knows about her by the time they get back home? Unlikely, perhaps, but how would they know that? Again, the episode does not treat this idea with the weight it requires.

That's what's missing, the weight. The writers seemed to just have this episode for the fun of having Klingons around. We had bat'leth fights, Klingon romance, trying to take over the ship, boasting about battles, all the usual tropes. Yet the story of a crumbling empire, a decaying culture, and B'Elanna caught in the middle of a religious revival sounds really awesome to me. Too bad that was so downplayed.
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