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- Sat, May 18, 2013, 3:51am (USA Central)
I apologize if I hit a nerve. I was in a very bad place when I wrote that comment 5 hours ago.
- Sat, May 18, 2013, 3:39am (USA Central)
I'm convinced Weyland-Yutani was one of the founders of Starfleet. Why else do they never learn that studying obviously malicious aliens and technology should be done before you reactivate them on your ship?
- Sat, May 18, 2013, 2:29am (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
I agree that Jammer seems to be a little harsh with his review here. I thought this one was quite good and nailed the Prime Directive concerns appropriately. Solid episode, an easy 3 stars.
- Sat, May 18, 2013, 2:23am (USA Central)
I also could not recall this episode as being exceptional, but after watching it recently I can't see where I can take any points away. Every puzzle piece slots together brilliantly. The concept of killing billions of people in an instant is absolutely great. A truly solid piece of science fiction.
- Sat, May 18, 2013, 1:32am (USA Central)
Absolute bottom-of-the-barrel, the nadir of TOS. It's the worst episode of the original Star Trek because it ISN'T an episode of Star Trek at all; Gary Seven is the prime mover of events from beginning to end, while Kirk and Spock are reduced to standing around like idiots who can do little more than hope everything works out. As for the real stars of this ep, Seven's a smug prick and Roberta's an insufferable airhead.
And all of this happens under the "Star Trek" title because "oh hey, by the way, we time-traveled back to 1968." From this, through the idea that there were orbital nuke platforms in '68 (which would have been a surprise to everyone in the viewing audience) and that Seven's purposefully detonating one in the lower atmosphere would save the Earth rather than trigger World War III, right up to the Enterprise's history tapes spoiling the entire spin-off series before it can even get started with the revelation that everything that just happened was supposed to happen all along and Seven and Roberta are destined to succeed in all of their missions, the episode treats its audience like complete morons.
The worst the third season had to offer still beats "Assignment: Earth", and the third season featured a whinny-ing Kirk being ridden around the room by a midget.
- Sat, May 18, 2013, 12:09am (USA Central)
No Sintek. Your life is not richer and your human experience is not deeper because you never noticed the difference in the costume. You're just less observant. Now if you noticed the difference but just didn't give a shit THAT would suggest you might have healthier priorities. However you ARE posting a comment in a "Star Trek" message thread - and a "Voyager" one at that. Unless you're randomly trolling boards then you must be as big a geek as anyone here. Still I'll be the bigger geek and point out that the commbadge props were made of wood and not plastic.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:59pm (USA Central)
I loved this episode so much! I'm a sucker for AI rights episodes, I must admit, so even if this was done poorly I'd probably still love it, but it was done very well. There's enough humor to keep it from coming off as a rip-off of "The Measure of a Man," and in a realistic turn of events the Doctor only scores a small victory. It may not be the ending I was hoping for, but it is the ending that makes sense. We didn't go from endowing only white male landowners with rights to where we are today in one big jump. It's always been a slow process and will no doubt continue to be that way. Look at the gay marriage struggle in the US. Even if every state agrees to legalize gay marriage, it will always be an uphill battle. Has racism disappeared since equal rights were granted by law? If you say yes, you REALLY need to get out more. Homosexuality was officially a mental illness until 1971, and transgendered individuals are STILL considered mentally ill. I don't know what the next big battle will be, but I trust that us Star Trek fans will mostly be on the right side of history. When the first AI wakes up and sees the world with an abstract understanding similar to that of humans, you can bet I'll be the zealot camping outside of the research facility in protest - maybe even devising a rescue plan. I hope my fellow trekkies will be right there by my side.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:58pm (USA Central)
Scorpion, Part I
Torres can lock onto my bone anytime.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:56pm (USA Central)
"forced situations" is not standard fare for Deep Space Nine, or at least it ended up not being.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:17pm (USA Central)
Anyone else feeling better about their life for never noticing the difference in plastic props on costumes nor commenting at length about said difference?
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 9:28pm (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part II
Just to clear up the semantics here, by "cast" I mean the actors who portray the characters, not the characters themselves. Voyager's only real weak link acting-wise was Garret Wang. TOS is hard to judge this way since the non-Big-Three were rather cartoonish (in a loveable way of course). TNG had to contend with Sirtis and McFadden and VOY's child actor (though only a guest), Scarlet Pommers outdoes any of the other series child actors except maybe Aron Eisenberg. DS9, as I said, had weak players in the key positions (Brooks especially)--I think Visitor did better in the later seasons, but it was really rough for a few seasons. It also had only average players in their Science Smart Person (Dax). Compare to Spock, Data, The Doctor, Hoshi--it's no contest there. ENT had only decent actors in its key positions, and the winner of all terrible in the person of Anthony Montgomery. Jolene Blalock made for an horrendous Vulcan.
The implication in your assessment of ENT's characters' developments mirrors what you say about DS9 and seems to imply that only by surviving brutal tragedy can characters develop well (cf O'Brien, Sisko, Trip, T'Pol). One need only cite Picard as the perfect example (up until the overrated "Tapestry") of a great character who defies that rule, and I would broadly apply that principle to most of the VOY cast. Ironically, the oft-hated Neelix is in many ways one of Trek's most tragic characters with regard to backstory.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 2:19pm (USA Central)
Field of Fire
Good episode. I don't get the Ezri hate, but then I didn't get all the Jadzia love either. She was a boring, badly-acted supergenius; DS9's Wesley Crusher.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:20am (USA Central)
Another fine review, though I don't think four stars is generous for "The Defector" at all. The only real unfortunate part of the episode was Jarok's death. I would have loved to see James Sloyan take on a recurring character - he always makes such an impression. It's true that Dr Mora appeared twice on DS9 (it feels like more), but his later appearance on Voyager in "Jetrel" felt like something of a retread.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 9:16am (USA Central)
As Jammer pointed out, “The Defector” is a huge improvement on Ron Moore’s first script in “The Bonding”; both are clear demonstrations of Moore’s interests and running themes throughout TNG, DS9 and BSG (well, maybe in Roswell and Carnivale too, but I haven’t seen those). The episode takes the brinksmanship from “The Enemy” and turns it up a notch by opening with the suggestion from “Seval” that the Romulans are planning to start a war. The episode also connects forward; the set-up of Jarok posing as a lowly desk clerk carrying information so as to hide that he is a high-commanding officer, thought of by the Federation as a butcher and by the Romulans as a hero but who is perhaps neither, is inverted in DS9’s “Duet,” where the lowly desk clerk poses as a high-commanding officer.
One of the themes running through this episode is a question that always fascinates me: how do you make decisions based on incomplete information? As Geordi said, you never have the complete picture, and you can fill that in with pure deduction or with “instinct,” which at best is a form of logic only perceived on the subconscious level and at worst is a reliance on arbitrary feelings and prejudices rather than the truth. Related to this is the recognition throughout that knowledge is power, from the knowledge gained by disassembling starships (which both our crew and Tomalak are interested in doing) to knowledge of a person’s background. Jarok destroys his ship and refuses to give military information because that would shift too much power to the Federation (hiding the truth because it could help the Federation); he hides his background and identity because he believes it would prejudice the crew to disbelieve him (hiding the truth because this truth could reasonably lead to the crew coming to false conclusions). And indeed, this is a great episode for form mirroring content: the whole episode is structured as a mystery, in which disparate elements which push and pull in different directions (“Seval” is clearly lying about something and his pursuit by the Romulan warbird seems staged, but he also seems sincere) and which finally come together in the suggestion that Tomalak, representing the Romulans, masterminded the whole thing. Of course, there is still more that Tomalak doesn’t know, and Picard’s masterminding the Klingons’ arrival on scene works brilliantly. The sharp, twisty plotting is not merely a fun device (and it is fun), but supports the theme and helps us recognize the difficulties that come in attempting to make quadrant-shaking decisions when only part of the picture can be seen.
At the episode’s end, the Tomalak makes the choice to avoid a battle which is essentially Mutually Assured Destruction. (“You will not survive our assault.” “You will not survive ours.”) Tomalak leaves and lets the Enterprise and her Klingon escorts zip away. The open question is whether every step of the Romulan plan was to test Jarok’s loyalty, or whether it was only in the final stages. Certainly, the Romulans want conquest, but are only the aggressors in extreme sneak attacks done in secret (like the Tal Shiar assault on the Dominion in DS9). Are they eager for war, or do they desire peace as much as the Federation does, but with an eye to prevent continued Federation and Klingon expansion and to subvert those powers if they can and an unwillingness to brook any disloyalty to the High Command? My suspicion is that it’s the latter, with the Picard-Tomalak-Klingons sequence a microcosm of the political situation in the quadrant which will always end in stalemate. The Romulans continue to be interesting, proud but intelligent, desiring expansion but not at all costs. Which, of course, is who Jarok is, and it’s part of the episode’s strengths that Jarok is at once clearly a Romulan who believes in Romulan values, not particularly repentant for the “campaigns” he had been involved in nor especially proud of them, and a man whose belief in the value of peace (and the possibility of his children growing up in a quadrant without war—“They will grow up thinking their father is a traitor…but they will grow up”) to leave everything behind. Picard’s words from Henry V when he confronts Tomalak at the end—“If the cause be just…”—are part of what help alleviate the tragedy of Jarok’s end: he kills himself out of shame, but his defection or death are not meaningless insofar as his giving up his homeworld was for a genuinely meaningful cause.
I feel like dancing on the 3.5-4 star line for the episode. Jarok himself is a great character; the use of Henry V to help frame the episode works well. The interaction between Jarok and the whole crew is excellent—the best scene is the scene with Picard in his ready room but the interrogation with Riker and Troi, and the Ten-Forward and holodeck scenes with Data are highlights. Generally the whole cast is used well to show a spectrum of responses to Jarok, all of which hint at a part but not the whole of what motivates this complex character. Picard’s asking Data to chronicle these last days in the event a war should happen ties into the main themes—history should have as much information as is possible, from as objective source as possible—but I do feel like this thread was a little underdeveloped. But this is a minor criticism. The only thing that makes me hesitate to give it four stars is not any significant flaw within the episode but the desire to save four stars for episodes that are near the best of the season (if not the series)—and season three is so good that I am not quite sure if this episode should properly make the cut. Ultimately, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and agree with Jammer’s four star rating.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 8:15am (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part II
@Elliot: Thanks for the thoughtful response. A couple counterpoints:
I really disagree that Voyager had the best cast. The Doctor is a classic character and Seven was a great (if overused) addition. But otherwise, the Voyager characters were badly developed. Some had their moments (Chakotay, Paris, Torres) and some were well-acted but poorly written (Janeway, Tuvok). But Kes, Kim and Neelix just bring the overall cast average down.
Also, I think Enterprise had better character developments than you give it credit for. Trip was a strong character who had a real emotional arc in the final two years of the show. T'Pol was a weak character for two seasons, but became more interesting. Enterprise's biggest problem -- other than a terrible season 2 -- was Archer, who was not written well (too many swings from easy-going to Jack Bauer) and not well acted. It's a shame, because I'm a Scott Bakula fan, but he wasn't good in that role.
I don't disagree that Avery Brooks wasn't great, but I thought Nana Visitor was one of the better actors in Trek. Colm Meaney was great, too. Other than TOS, I think DS9 had the best overall cast. TNG would get the nod, but the overuse of Troi (Trek's worst character not named Harry Kim) the overuse of Data (a great character who became a crutch in later seasons), the weird direction for Worf in the final season and Riker's marginalization in the final two years hurt the overall cast ratings, IMO.
Now, was TNG the most daring? That's a really interesting thought. I suppose it was in that in tried to reboot the entire TV franchise and did it successfully. But a lot of it in the early days was just redone TOS ("Code of Honor" being the most obvious example) and it was standard episodic fair from the time.
Still, I'd probably say TNG would be my favorite series if not for the seventh season.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 7:18am (USA Central)
One thing I wanted to add, I don't think it has to be an either/or situation. I believe humanity could reach Gene's vision, but we don't all improve at the same speed, there are always outliers. I don't think the Maquis or Section 31 or any of those themes necessarily have to trash humanity as a whole.
Also I think the worst thing you could do is portray the paradise of the Federation as being easy, or even the inherent goodness of humans in the future as being easy. It's hard work, it's important to put those ideals under pressure. Your characters need to be able to make mistakes.
Jo Jo Meastro
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 6:57am (USA Central)
*unhelpful. The same can be said for Neelix, you'd think from what he went through in Mortal Coil would make him the perfect candidate for helping Torress through her difficult time. The rest of the crew at least have the excuse of not understanding and being too caught up in the mission, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that this needed at least one full episode in order to adequately cover such a relevant and important issue. It would be like trying to seriously cover a cancer story in a subplot, then abruptly ending it with "good news the alien of the week cured you!" *roll credits*...
Jo Jo Meastro
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 6:40am (USA Central)
I just wanted to add I agree with Elliots' comment about the way people suffering from depression can often turn that corner to break out of the numbness quite suddenly, depression is like a endless cycle of days when you can keep your head above water and days when you just get swallowed whole. I fortunately don't speak from personal experience but a lot of people close to me struggle with it so I understand it all too well. The episode did a respectable job in protraying the numb emptiness, if the ending had been more subtle and done more to suggest the every day struggle even on your good days; this may have been worthy of more praise. In all honesty they should have at least given the issue an entire episode, something akin to DS9s' Only A Paper Moon, the writers would be on to some powerful relevant stuff (which is what Star Trek is all about). Another thing, the Doctor really wasn't much help to Torress at all, I would have thought he'd be there for his patient a lot more instead of being so distant and
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:50am (USA Central)
All Good Things...
The sky's the limit!
I choked up seeing the final scene of TNG, still do every time, and even did reading the last paragraph of the review.
A beautiful ending to an amazing series.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:41am (USA Central)
@Cloudane, I liked Wesley too, and his sulky brattiness did annoy me too. In particular, as has been mentioned before, there was an easy way to write Wesley's dissatisfaction into the story in a way consistent with his past -- say that he was more deeply affected by the death of his Nova Squadron companion and his own role in it as well as the punishment and shame that was associated with it from "The First Duty."
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:39am (USA Central)
@Claudane, technically not younger -- just with years less experience chasing other women. (Hint hint Commander.)
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:10am (USA Central)
As one of the rare people who kind of liked Wesley (I was a young nerd kid myself) I really disliked the assassination of his character and turning him into a brat as a form of closure. Oh well.
I wonder how the Traveller stuff would be seen if it were written today. Certain subjects have become more touchy in society, and I'm not sure in the modern day how they'd take "older guy who has always had a bit of a shine for this young boy stalks him and then takes him on a magical adventure"
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:00am (USA Central)
I remember a while back seeing this (knowing, I think, from future episodes that Tom Riker is a more "edgy" version and then coming back to it) as a classic example of the nerd frustration of "bad boy comes along and *instantly* snaps up the girl you've been trying to figure out how to win for the past 6 years" in its purest form: a younger and more determined version of your own self.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 4:47am (USA Central)
Call me naive if you will, but I believe in Gene's vision. I think the biggest problem is that too many people get bitter and cynical and end up saying "welp, humanity sucks, no point in trying".
We didn't put people on the moon by saying that we're never going to be capable of it - it was a dream until, eventually, we achieved it.
I think humanity deserves a little credit - yes we still have considerable problems and plenty of conflicts we shouldn't be having.. but I think we have made good progress. Not so long ago our own countries were lopping people's heads off every 5 minutes and burning people at the stake. Just a generation ago we were treating females as lesser beings, criminalising homosexuals and inflicting brutal physical punishments in schools that caused our children to scream and bleed. I know some countries and even some states of America are still lagging behind and still do some of these things, but I really think we're getting somewhere.
It won't happen overnight, but the visions showed to us by Gene (and some other positive shows and communities I follow) can inspire us to do our best as individuals. And ultimately, "humanity" is a sum of its parts. I'd love to see more shows like TNG.
- Fri, May 17, 2013, 4:14am (USA Central)
In the words of Chris Pine's Kirk, "Enough of the metaphors, ok? That's an order."
I guess the champagne glasses were replicated, I think it's in Trek lore somewhere that as well as projecting holograms and conjuring force fields a holodeck can also act like a giant replicator so you can eat and drink in all those simulations of France and whatnot. Replicators are always seen constructing the container as well as the drink.
Also explains why Wesley comes out wet in the very first episode - whoever created the program must've thought it was funny (or maybe feels more realistic) to use replicated water instead of holographic.
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