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Tue, May 3, 2016, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Unimatrix Zero, Part II

I always imagined that this was a story that Neelix told to the borg-children after he finished the other story from "The Haunting of Deck 12".

I don't know if this is the worst episode of Voyager, but it comes close for me. The more I think about it, the less I like it. At every point I think "wait, that wouldn't work".

Example: The Borg Queen sees Janeway in Unimatrix Zero. Drones not under the control of the collective are a vital threat to the borg apparently. There is a Tactical Cube within 3 lightyears of Voyager. Soooooo .... destroy Voyager? Episode over, series done? No.

Janeway is onboard of your tactical cube. You are the Queen. You know everything. You assimilate Janeway. You can't hear Janeway. Kill Janeway, while tracking down Voyager and assimilating it. If you can't assimilate it, kill it. I was fine with the Borg ignoring intruders before when they didn't view them as a threat, that was fine in TNG and earlier in Voyager. But now you KNOW they are a threat.

A Tactical Cube has no tractor beam apparently.

A super advanced torpedo from a megapowerfull tactical cube that has Voyagers shield frequency instantly destroys ... half a hull plate of Voyager.

Voyager shoots the Cube. Harry says "Direct hit, no damage to their shield emitters". Later, the cube needs two hours to repair his transwarp drive. Why? You didn't even scratch the shields.

How does that "Neuro Supressor" even work? The borg uplink is physical, not psychological.

The Queen tries to supress the interlink frequency of UMZ. She fails, but recognises that it is a triangulating signal or whatever. But instead of adapting she --- gives up. Later, the Voyager supresses the same frequency. The fuck?

The Delta Flyer beams Janeway aboard the Cube - after being destroyed. Given that the transporters on Voyager fail if somebody sneezes at them ... this is totally believable.

The Queen wants to spread her virus in UMZ. That is like spreading cholera in an internet chatroom.

One guy in UMZ says that the queen has identified them all. But she does not kill them all? I thought if she found one - she could identify them in the real world, as demonstrated earlier.

The collective is comprised of hundreds of billions of drones. There are maybe 20.000 in UMZ. The queen sends small groups of up to 12 drones at a time. Why not 12 million? A Billion? One hundred billion drones?

Seven does not remember UMZ, even when inside UMZ. Later, she remembers shit from UMZ. SHE kisses Axom, says "We had something more", then SHE is angry at him for saying "yes we did"? And apparently being frightened by his advances or something? Her reaction made no sense to me, and was out of character for her.

Btw, how the fuck did Axom contact Seven if he can't act in the real world? If she has the mutation - wouldn't she always be in UMZ when she regenerates? Why can she remember shit from UMZ in the real world? If you are severed from the collective, can you still reach UMZ? I thought that UMZ is a subset of the hivemind, and relied on borg infrastructure.

Well, and Janeway sucked as well, but that's nothing new I guess.

So, my TL;DR: Nice special effects, but you can cover a turd in sugarcoating, it will still taste like shit.
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Tue, May 3, 2016, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@erasmus palmer: I'm not justifying it, but it's been handwaved away in the past for a couple reasons, usually because of the ol' "in the 24th century we've erased all bad behavior" reasons and that the Enterprise crew generally seems to allow guests mostly free reign of the ship for some reason (Picard offered Kamala the same, though).

Of course it is silly that there were a) no locks on the doors on the ferengi doors, b) no guards posted, c) no computerized logs of people leaving their quarters, d) no alerts of the ferengi getting to the cargo bay, e) no crew saw them (or thought it of interest to report it), f) no logs of entry into the cargo bay (with sensitive diplomatic cargo in it, nonetheless - cargo that for some reason needed to be in a ridiculous contraption (why not have a box around it?). You'd think there'd be the equivalent of key fobs on a starship.
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Tue, May 3, 2016, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Hard Time

Not a complaint but a comment-the way Siddig delivered the memory wipe comment suggested he (or the writers or director) knew it was inconsistent with "Sons of Mogh" and there was a deliberate distancing from the previous episode.
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Tue, May 3, 2016, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

Anything negative I say about this episode would be nitpicking, it was enjoyable. My gripe is actually with Picard. When did he suddenly go horse crazy? Also I cringe at the blunder blindly forward line.,,but thats all i got...i should hate the Wesley plot, but I don't.
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Diamond Dave
Tue, May 3, 2016, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Third Season Recap

A definite and significant improvement here - overall I scored this season at 2.58 on average and that makes it the 9th best Trek series of all, and better than anything Voyager scored at. Looking back what's noticeable is the consistency - after some patchy early stuff that tried some new stuff that didn't always work (zombie Vulcans!) virtually week after week it was scoring 2.5-3.0. Nothing much higher, nothing much lower. Just banging in decent episodes.

And I think that is a reflection of the series long arc. I've said a number of times that I thought it was too ambitious and was running on empty by the end. Perhaps that reflects that the action was carrying the plot by this point. But the production values by now are uniformly excellent, so action is something that can be carried off with aplomb. And with the serial nature, long running plot developments (like T'Pol's addiction) can be given room to breathe, which is to the writers' credit. So not perfect, but a strong season. With the WTF-ery of the final 10 seconds of Zero Hour though, who knows how the next season will play out...
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Diamond Dave
Tue, May 3, 2016, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Zero Hour

Well, you have to commend the sheer brass balls to come up with something like this. It's almost as if all the WTF moments you could think of have been shaken up with the Xindi arc and this is the result.

The mice toasting intro! Daniels! Shran! Exploding, blood splattering Reptilians! Archer running slow mo Rambo style as explosions chase him! And the ultimate - Nazi frickin' aliens!

If I wanted one thing out of this it was some resolution out of what I thought was ultimately a too long and over ambitious Xindi arc. Not only did I not really get it, it now seems we are off on another story. Ah well. As ever, this did the action well and never pretended to be anything else. But ultimately it was just too much - it's never a good sign when your laughing at the sheer over the top effrontery of what you're watching. 2.5 stars.
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Diamond Dave
Tue, May 3, 2016, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Countdown

Well, you can't say that this episode doesn't rattle along after a fairly slow start, and the action sequences are again standout. But after so many episodes of this I'm starting to find it a little exhausting and can't help feeling that this whole back end of the arc could have stood a little weeding. It's not that it's bad per se, just that with the resolution constantly being shunted off ahead please show me the money already. At least that has to happen next ep!

Again, some good stuff in here and some average stuff. 3 stars.
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Tue, May 3, 2016, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Hard Time

I thought this episode was pretty great except for the last act which did feel too much like attacking, on unnecessarily explicit terms, TNG Roddenberry idealism; the episode had already showed O'Brien had fallen from the ideal and was feeling bad about it, there didn't need to be the explicit discussion of how it related to his society in general. It also felt gratuitously grim and dark that the other prisoner wasn't even actually hiding/hoarding food, that the cause that made O'Brien furious was actually a misperception.
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Tue, May 3, 2016, 2:40am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Distant Origin

One of those ideas that seems so imaginative and cool I don't care how implausible it is. And the thinly veiled allegory of political and theological hostility to science appealed to me. Lovely episode.
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Mon, May 2, 2016, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Favorite Son

I think that' B5s Patricia Tallman playing one of the women who attacked Harry just before the end. The only time I actually concentrated on this. Couldn't get over the stupidity of Taresian reproduction. Very poor.
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Mon, May 2, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Learning Curve

That little boy in the cold open could act!
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Mon, May 2, 2016, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: The Xindi

Two things. First, I can't believe they managed to make the theme that much worse. Please give me back the cheese ball, soft rock of the first two seasons. Second, they FINALLY fixed T'pol's eyebrows!
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Mon, May 2, 2016, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: The Void

Well, I have to say that was enjoyable. I'm going to ignore the issue of whether or not this should have been the way Voyager always was. I will say, though, that it does show that it's possible to have kept up Voyager's initial premise without losing its optimism. It didn't necessarily require a Maquis mutiny or everyone constantly on the edge, it didn't require hard headed aliens to always be there. We could have had a series of aliens coming in and out, with Janeway needing to deal with them as the situation required. Not just be used as backdrops for whatever silly plot contrivance they could come up with.

But such is life, the show was what it was, and at least we had this episode to show for it.

Basically, this was a very well plotted, enjoyable episode. Just take the musical squatters, for example. First of all, they were a unique species with multiple unique aspects of their personalities. They were basically a fun diversion from the rest of the episode. Or at least that's what you might think, but they intersected with the rest of the plot in ways that you wouldn't expect. The comment by the one guy about how they're vermin was the tipoff that he would be a bad guy. But it was also the excuse to get more of them, creating the nice symphony scene, but also get used at the end to sabotage the bad guys. It's nice to see the A and B plot intertwined like that.

They also had plenty of good scenes, such as the Tinker Tenor aliens using Stellar Cartography to spy on everyone else, which starts out seeming to be ominous but actually just them contributing in their own way. We had an interesting montage rather than technobabble gobbledy-gook to get ready for the jump. We had Janeway frustrated at the actions of one of her alliance members and cursing herself for letting him in in the first place when she knew he would be trouble. And we had a variety of different cool aliens to see. What fun!

By the way, one tiny bit that I really liked. At the end, when the alliance captains were saying their goodbyes, Janeway made a comment to Chakotay that it was almost like being back in Starfleet. Yes, I know, that part and the overall optimism was pushed way too much. But while she said that, the music quietly played the Star Trek fanfare. It was good to here again, and helped to emphasize that this series isn't just about getting home, and they aren't just wearing those uniforms because they're comfy and stylish. It's always good to have a reminder that these people are proud of their society and proud to be a part of it. And by tying it in with the classic music from TOS, TNG, and the movies, well, it was a nice moment. I really hope the new series puts that fanfare into their opening credits; I really miss it from DS9 and Voyager.

I do agree, though, that the positive Starfleet ideal aspect was being laid on a bit too thick. In particular, Tuvok and Chakotay arguing so heavily to become raiders seemed out of place and only there to make Janeway look better. It's a common trope on Voyager, and I really wish they would do a better job of writing these morality conversations. Instead of having Chakotay argue for becoming thieves themselves, why not have him agree that it seems like a good idea, but that he doesn't feel they can trust anyone. The only survivors in this void are the most battle hardened, most cynical, most underhanded thieves. How can Janeway possibly think any of them would be willing to put their cynicism aside and agree to join her?

Then Janeway could respond by asking him how she could possibly ask her enemy to become her first officer (hey, if this is the "Voyager as it should have been" episode, why not mention the Maquis again?). This would serve to still give Janeway's optimism center stage, but not make Chakotay and Tuvok look intransigent to get there. Instead, Chakotay would be bringing forth a real criticism of her plan, but Janeway could use Star Trek idealism as well as her own past experiences to move past it. Would have been much better.

But that's all I'll complain about, because I did really like this episode.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, May 2, 2016, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: The Council

I thought this was a bit of a let down in the end. After all the build up Archer's intervention to the council results in a bit of shouting and a lot of over-acting and then the Reptilians (who by this point are basically caricature villains) do what the hell they want anyway. The Sphere Builders are also definitely coming over like the Founders as they direct behind the scenes.

The B-story is fairly light and throws away Hawkins to justify an extraordinary outburst from Reed that was so over-acted it threw me right out of the story. The action scenes are, as ever, exemplary so that gains another half point for a 2.5 star total.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 2, 2016, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

@ William B,

The mapping of Benny/Sisko as you describe is what I see too. I'll add in one more thing, which goes to the basis for why a lot of people have a problem with DS9. Wycoff/Damar's suggestion that Benny give up the wild dream sounds like good advice. Good, rational, Starfleet-type advice. The crossroads in the asylum is not dissimilar from the ultimatum Admiral Ross gives Sisko about choosing between the hard-reality of the Federation or his role as Emissary. And this, in turn, leads us to something DS9 subtly deals with that TNG never did, which is the difference between Starfleet and the Federation. Gene's vision was never about some great space navy, but rather about a great Federation of different peoples (UDIC) where tolerance and understand begin by not pre-judging others' differences. The prime directive plays right into this theme, and supposedly takes priority over every other consideration for Starfleet.

Here we are shown the narrow, wrong way to view a humanistic future, which is to think that only standard methods of evaluating normalcy should be called rational. The wormhole aliens think and operate on some bizarre other level? Well they're just some weird damn entities, pay them no mind. We need to think about real facts, dammit, not some religious nonsense. But the wormhole aliens *are* that new life and new civilization, and the fact that the Bajorans created a religion around them has nothing to do with what they are: an alien intelligence of unknown proportion. This is not unlike what Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan gave us in Rama and Contact.

Starfleet is largely a military organization, and it's all too easy for that kind of organization to lose the balance between being explorers like Picard and being rank-and-file soldiers. TNG ignored this by always allowing Picard to have his cake and eat it too; by being both strictly bound to his duty as well as free to make moral Federation decision. DS9 shows how this may not always be possible, especially during a war. In the aftermath of Wolf 359 and then the Dominion, we know that Starfleet began to massively produce starships and then warships. This kind of arms race erodes the philosophical properties Starfleet was supposed to represent and make it more military, and I think in this episode we see how far that's come and how it's a dangerous trap. Admiral Ross is even contemplating allowing the Romulans to basically Annex Bajor in exchange for their continued alliance during the war, so we can see how desperate things have gotten.

I see the scene between Benny and Wycoff as being not only about Sisko the man/prophet, and about the mythos of the prophets/wraiths, but also about Starfleet itself and how in times of duress the dream of the Federation is in danger of being lost in favor of victory. I think the message is that even when things appear to be beyond repair and lost the faith in the dream of the Federation must be maintained even if that means edging away from strategic cold facts. To be a leader in the Federation you do have to be a sort of dreamer, rather than an organizational bureaucrat. It's not supposed to just be a better society, it's supposed to involve better people, who turn their dreams into reality. As I see it Kirk was a good example of the romance of fighting for that reality, Picard embodied the logic of it, and Sisko is the heart of it. As of DS9 season 7 I think we now have the complete package of what the Federation is supposed to be about. Faith in the prophets isn't just about some religious nonsense, it's about what it takes to have faith in the Federation and its destiny.

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William B
Mon, May 2, 2016, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

Continued to Peter G.: I do agree with the interpretation of "dreamer and the dream" and the possibility of Sisko being a creative actor (not just in the "artist sense" but in the sense of making his own choices of how best to do good) while also following the path laid out for him, and I think that does get at the mythological elements here. Benny choosing to continue to write his story and Sisko choosing to open the box do work together quite well. Really, the "temptation" the Paghwraiths offer maps on very well (and perhaps is the same) to the one that Sisko gave into for a time -- of leaving his life on the station behind after Jadzia's death and stopping to attempt to fulfill his roles as Emissary or Starfleet captain (or, for that matter, friend or boyfriend -- the only relationships he maintains are his family relationships). The asylum as prison maps onto Sisko locking himself away from life, and the asylum as "place for the 'crazy' people" maps onto Sisko's increasingly erratic behaviour once he starts "writing" again, i.e. once he starts trying to follow his divine inspiration/intuition to save the wormhole.

In practice, I still have a hard time seeing Sisko as an active agent in making choices; while it is true that he has faith in himself and that is the key element for Benny, Sisko's faith still must be faith in himself insofar as he has faith that his faith that his Prophets-inspired vision/intuition that he should open the box is not misplaced. Either the Prophets gave him visions/are guiding his actions...or Sisko himself has Prophet superpowers which allow him to "know" that Ezri throwing the baseball to a random spot on the desert means that is the place where they should dig. The latter is more appealing, but still is very heavily abstracted. Sisko's faith in himself means faith that he has Prophet-based superpowers, rather than that he can rise to difficult occasions, though I guess him having Prophet-based superpowers is the Hero's Journey equivalent of having faith that he can rise to difficult occasions. So I take back what I said about this material cheapening FBTS and that the vision coming from the Paghwraiths mitigates its narrative impact; the Benny flashback is effective, but I am still uneasy about the Sisko-frame material relying so heavily on Sisko's Prophet-mystical intuition. Still, I do very much like that the real development here is for Sisko to return to the station (and his life and his responsibilities) as a result of his Orb of the Emissary experience, which means that Benny continuing writing the story rather than being wholly cowed by his breakdown signals that Sisko is ready to move forward past his loss of self-faith in "Tears of the Prophets."


On another topic:

Looking at some of the comments here and rereading what I wrote, I think that how one reads the Worf plot depends on how seriously one takes the "suicide mission" aspect of things. The episode tries to play it as a Very Dangerous mission, but the portrayal of it is pretty unconvincing...which to my mind is something of a benefit. Because, you know, given that Bashir and Quark don't have much reason to believe in Sto-vo-Kor, for them to give up their lives to send Jadzia there doesn't really fit them, whether they loved Jadzia or not, and within the episode most of the material focuses on whether Quark deserves to be there on this mission where Julian and Quark seemingly have nothing to contribute. It really does seem as if they are there to *prove a point*, Quark especially, to tell Worf that he has the right to die for Jadzia, rather than because he thinks it's a good idea. And even if they did decide to go, for O'Brien to basically sign up to die because he and Bashir are best friends is very silly. But honestly, despite the dialogue about how dangerous this mission is, no one seems all *that* concerned about it or that worried that they will die. We could see this as *extreme* grace under pressure, which is possible, or we could say that it's simply bad characterization, or we could accept that everyone knows that it's a risky-but-not-THAT-risky assignment, so that it is not that foolish to sign up for the mission just to prove a point. I tend to do the latter, in which case the plotline loses a lot of its heft -- the "suicide mission" stuff is overwrought -- but the character dynamics make more sense. It becomes a somewhat lightweight story, not that riveting but okay, rather than a hugely dramatic story which (arguably) forces much of the cast out of shape to do it.
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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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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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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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