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- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 1:58pm (USA Central)
Up the Long Ladder
Funnily enough, I was also about to start this with something along the lines of ""Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd," says Picard. Not me."
This is a horror show of epic proportions, and smacks to me of two ideas not strong enough for their own show being rammed together. From the broad humour and brazen caricatures of the first half, to the more serious and disturbing elements of the second half, to the morally questionable conclusion, this hits all the wrong beats.
The tea ceremony offers some redemption - including a welcome call back for Klingon love poetry - but it can't save it. A shocker. 1 star.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 12:44pm (USA Central)
@Dave - "Picard getting stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan seems a stretch"
Are you watching the series for the first time by chance?
I really did like the reveal that the man that Wesley idolizes and wants to be like was absolutely NOTHING like him at his age. That was pretty fascinating.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 12:08pm (USA Central)
I suppose there had to be come down from Q Who, and boy was this it. This would be all well and good if the Pakleds were played for laughs - but they're not. And if you're laughing at a story and not with it, that's never a good sign.
The B-story is decent enough, and it's fun to see Picard wrestle with his vanity. But the scenes in the shuttle are a bit of a struggle, and Picard getting stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan seems a stretch. 1.5 stars.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 10:54am (USA Central)
A classic episode by any criteria. The introduction of the Borg as a new existential threat is extremely well handled - especially compared to the introduction of the Romulans earlier on in the series. As a harbinger of doom this is also nicely done - we now know the Borg are out there, know they are coming, but know it will be a while before they arrive.
The seriousness of the threat is nailed home by having the crew fail to overcome the problem - and Picard forced to beg to Q to get them out of trouble subverts our expectations of the series.
Elsewhere, the back story for Guinan gives sudden and unexpected depth to that character. The score, as noted above, is excellent. The character design - while it will be still improved in the future - is right there, and the Borg cube design is genius. These are not beings who care about form - just brutal, efficient functionality.
You also have to wonder why Gomez was introduced and not the first to be assimilated - perhaps a further clever twist on our expectations? A worthy 4 stars.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 8:55am (USA Central)
The Search, Part II
@Grumpy, Yeah, I should say that the simulation was weird and disappointing while it was going on, so I don't know what to say about that. The ending is pretty bad but the first few acts get harder and harder to take, so I am not sure what to say about it.
And ha, for some reason while writing that I was thinking you could use "orphan" to describe any child who has lost a parent, even if the other parent is still alive, which now that I think about it is clearly wrong. My brain just slipped, I guess!
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 8:04am (USA Central)
methane, we are saying the same thing. since we don't ever see a power battle between Sisko and the ambassador I think it's fair to assume that the arrangements you mention happened off screen.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 7:12am (USA Central)
This episode does indeed give an interesting spin on two issues - the philosophical imperative of the Prime Directive, and the nature of command and authority.
I agree with others that Data's behaviour seems odd from the start - if his curiosity is overriding his programming it would suggest he's pretty human already... But this behaviour is required in story terms to effectively present Picard with a fait accompli - everyone recognises it's the wrong choice, if the morally right one. Telling O'Brien that "this never happened" suggests to me that the command staff are indeed up to their necks, and then over their heads.
But the fact there is no consequence to their actions acts to deflate the conclusion - although I can't help feeling that Data, by leaving the stone, pretty much spits in the face of his superiors.
The Wesley B-story is handled well, and by not making his team the usual reject everything protagonists it reaches a much more grounded resolution. 2.5 stars.
- Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 5:41am (USA Central)
The Icarus Factor
A welcome character piece, that is happy to hang its hat on the strength of those characters and let them lead the plot. The further insight into Riker's, Worf's and to a lesser extent Pulaski's back story continue to enrich the characters.
In terms of delivery it starts well, but the Riker story tails off badly to the end, and the final martial arts combat of him and his father facing off in spandex and chasing each other round like a piñata is, frankly, risible. It does, however, at least address the issue early of why, if Riker is so competent as a number one, he doesn't have his own command.
"BE GONE..! Sir" is another great Worf line though. 2.5 stars.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 11:43pm (USA Central)
The Search, Part II
William B: "Sisko et al. are left completely passive, and their actions of rebellion come to naught..."
Right there, you may have put your finger on why I never liked this episode. At least, you've elaborated on what Jammer said "torpedoed" the story. Actually, I wasn't liking this episode even before the twist ending, so that can't be it. I dunno; I should rewatch Season 3 just for this.
Tangentially, one other thing:
"(Barash being an orphan like Riker was)"
Riker had a tense relationship with his father, but I didn't think he was dead to him!
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 10:40pm (USA Central)
Robert - I always assumed ambassadors for the Federation either resigned/retired from Starfleet or were on an indefinite leave of absence. I suppose that could be different in the Federation.
Yanks - "The civilians are above the military. Ambassadors many times are put in positions in charge of military assets".
Ambassadors don't put themselves in charge of military assets; the civilian leader (President, Prime Minister, etc.) can assign military assets to ambassadors. This episode gives a good reason why random civilians (even those with titles like ambassadors) can't go in an just order the military assets around. They could be trying to start a war!
In a situation like this, you'd expect the Federation diplomatic corps to ask the Federation President (or whichever official runs Starfleet) to officially order Starfleet to take the ambassador out (this could be the Presidential underlings making the arrangement, with him just signing orders), and even follow the ambassador's commands to an extent. Starfleet Command would then issue their orders to Sisko (or to an Admiral who would then order Sisko), detailing the mission, which Sisko would then carry out.
Yanks - "my point is, why should Sisko get promoted if he hasn't completed his mission?"
Well, I think Federation membership is a long-term goal, not something they expected to happen in a few years. To use real world examples, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989; other than Eastern Germany, the first nations from the Communist block didn't join NATO until 1999; they didn't join the EU until 2004! Sisko can be doing his job well (worthy of promotion) even if he hasn't completed that long-term mission.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 8:04pm (USA Central)
The Mind's Eye
Thanks everyone - I'm almost as impressed by the quality of your comments as I was by this episode, which does deserve 4 stars I think.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 7:02pm (USA Central)
I must of watched Voyager all the way though at least 7 times now and I always look forward two this two parter, It feels almost like a movie at times, really interesting seeing some the characters playing different lives, especially Janeway.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 5:23pm (USA Central)
Good lord, I came here after talking to a friend about the worst Trek episodes and looking what this one was called. We were *both* dead sure that this was a Season One episode. I mean, come on!!!
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 4:51pm (USA Central)
The Search, Part II
The very weird choice to have the entire Starfleet-crew (plus T'Rul) plot be a simulation has some justification: as with Eris' deception in The Jem'Hadar, the Dominion is being set up as placing big emphasis on trickery (particularly with their shapeshifting leaders) s a way to gauge and undermine their opponents. On that level, I like that the simulation essentially tells us what the Dominion is like by showing what types of events the Founders expect if they set foot into the AQ. If Sisko et al. can't stand a little random exclusion of nations, random violence against citizens, and being asked to fight wars against their neighbours, then they are probably not the type of people worth "conquering" and seem more like the type that will require special subjugation. That they bother to program in Jem'Hadar -- who, remember, are completely loyal -- accosting O'Brien more or less sets that as their baseline: they want people to be willing to put up with random, pointless bullying without a fight. That Sisko rebels against this, and that people even tell him that the "peace" that is created is his fault, plays out like a mini-version of his arc up to Call to Arms, with the moral being that even making peace overtures is stupid appeasement which will eventually lead to everyone you love being threatened. Which, more on that argument at a later time, maybe.
I think the reason that the simulation is more frustrating to me in this episode than in, say, Future Imperfect or Frame of Mind, is that the key thing is that Riker works his way out of those simulations. Frame of Mind is *about* questioning reality from start to finish, in different ways. Future Imperfect, with its weird fake-peace that is somehow lightly unsettling, is the closest analogue. But the episode is mostly about Riker finding himself out of place and out of time, and eventually finding the reason why -- a reason which turns out to resonate with Riker's own experience (Barash being an orphan like Riker was). Future Imperfect would hardly be satisfying if essentially Riker spent the whole time debating the merits of the treaty with Tomalak without ever guessing that there is something wrong with this picture, and then Data or whoever happened to unplug him at the end and reveal that it was fake. Sisko et al. are left completely passive, and their actions of rebellion come to naught -- which may be the point, except, well, that we don't even get their reaction once they get out of the simulation, besides momentary confusion. It really would be a lot more satisfying for Sisko et al. to figure things out themselves, too, especially since keeping in the dark leads them to ignoring key facts (e.g. not bothering to wonder where Kira and Odo are after the first couple of minutes).
The big problem with playing out this big simulation as part two of this two-parter is that it distracts from the fact that the whole point of them going to the GQ in the first place was to talk to the Founders and try to communicate to them about peace, and so when they wake up, dazed from being inside a simulation, it is pretty counterproductive that Odo just shoves them off on the Defiant with words about how he'll explain later, and there is no real chance for them to say much else. It's not really that I expect the Founders are going to respond well to peace overtures, because they clearly aren't, but it does also mean that this episode does indeed end with Sisko et al. knowing the location of the Founders' homeworld and how to talk to them, but...WITHOUT any of that whole talking thing happening now or for quite a while. It sidesteps, and the simulation forms a substitute for the dramatic question of what trying to avoid war with the Dominion would actually be like. For that matter, given that it ends with the collapsing of the wormhole, it should be clear that collapsing the wormhole *should* be on the table as an option, starting now, and I can't quite remember when it is brought up again as an option. What this episode lacks, I guess, is a scene between Sisko and the Dominion leader, given that he is *right there*.
The stronger story here is the Odo and Kira material, obviously. I like that Kira is torn between being supportive of Odo and going to defy orders to look for Sisko and to follow her suspicions that all is not as it seems with the Founders. The character work for Odo over the rest of the series will do quite a lot with what the Link means, so I don't really need to talk about all of it here, but I do like that the temptation that is dangled before Odo of *THE LINK* is the ultimate answer to Odo's feelings of loneliness. I like, too, that Odo's somewhat restricted, imagination-deprived view of what his shapeshifting can mean is challenged. One irony is that for all the Female Shapeshifter's concerns that Odo's time in the solids has ruined him, his time as a solid really *has* brought him some understanding for what it means to be a humanoid, on a much deeper level perhaps than the "what it's like to be a rock" type of thing that the FS instructs him in. She seems to get the idea of empathy without the essence of it. The somewhat isolating way they treat Odo, insisting he train alone for hours at a time before he can pass their test when they have caused is misery by setting him off as an orphan to spend centuries by himself, further indicates the moral rot at the core of the Founder philosophy, which they remain unaware of.
Anyway, the dialogue at the end as Odo rushes off and the Female Shapeshifter explains why they need to subjugate the galaxy does bring up some interesting points, most of all the idea (to be explored later) that Odo's desire for justice is actually his instinctive desire for order, instead -- which is an awesome choice for the character. However, the dialogue is so rushed that there is little chance to examine these ideas, either to try to get through to her that subjugating the galaxy is not necessary or desirable or for Odo to express his inner conflict. Fortunately, as with the other plot (with the simulation), the frustrating and rushed non-ending is not truly the end of the story, and Odo's division between His People and those humanoids he cares about remains.
A low 2 stars is probably fair.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 4:18pm (USA Central)
A Measure of Salvation
Rewatching the show and I couldn't help myself commenting on this again.
Man, I'm fracking FURIOUS!!! I loved Helo up until this point but, I tell you what, I'd rip his godsdamn head off myself if I could!
Yes, the question is: Does a civilization that is based on genocide "deserve" to survive?
Answer: If the alternative is a certain death of that civilization at the hands of the target, then yes, it does. The alternative is to be "the bigger man" and allow yourself to be exterminated. There's no third option. What does being "the bigger man" accomplish, exactly? That history will look upon you favorably? Which history? Whose history? Without you there will be no history.
Oh, this is just too stupid for any kind of rationalization!
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 3:18pm (USA Central)
You Are Cordially Invited
Re the part of Elliot's comment on Bashir and Garak as a couple: a thunderous "Amen!"
Re the chemistry between Worf and Dax: it is there, but I would so much prefer K'Ehleyr. I also really liked Deanna and Worf in the alternate timeline TNG episode. Worf and Dax do love each other, but they aren't even remotely compatible.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 2:15pm (USA Central)
"None of this makes any sense" says Riker at the end, and he's not wrong. This is just a desperate mess, a fundamentally boring hour in which there is no peril and a vast amount of time is spent wandering around a single set waiting for something to happen. It's kind of like the worst holodeck episode ever - and it's not even on the holodeck.
The only things to be rescued out of this are an effective pre-title sequence and the discovery of the astronaut, which suggests there was the guts of a decent story in there but that the delivery was fundamentally flawed.
I agree though that there is something in the delivery of Worf's "No!" to the room service phone call that approaches genius. 1 star.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 2:08pm (USA Central)
The Search, Part I
...T'Rul's point that they must leave Dax and O'Brien behind -- which for me is more shocking than the Defiant being attacked and boarded, for one thing because the Defiant was *just introduced* and so we have little idea of what it being taken over means. A good way to demonstrate that the Dominion really is the priority here.
Is sending a ship that is so overpowered it almost is tearing itself apart the best way to communicate to the Dominion that they have peaceful intentions, though? I get that they want to communicate two things -- "we are peaceful, but don't mess with us," though.
The two big character threads in this episode are Sisko's and Odo's. For Sisko, we are told a few times (by Dax and by Jake, as well as by Sisko himself) that the Dominion situation and Sisko's visit to Starfleet Headquarters have made him come to realize how passionate he has become about protecting Bajor and how much he now values DS9 as his home. As a development overall, this makes sense, and the symbolic actions of 1) unpacking his Earth-storage stuff and 2) preferring to be out in the field rather than back at HQ do seem to be meaningful; but rather than let us discover how this all affects Sisko, we have Jake and Dax spell it out for us, in rather a lot of words.
For Odo, the episode's two main elements are his anger at Eddington being brought onto the station and his being drawn to his people. Odo's interpreting Eddington's appointment as being a racial thing (don't trust the shapeshifter!) is part of the setup for his obsession about the nebula where he eventually finds his people. I should say here that while Odo being annoyed at having an officer posted to head up Starfleet security is logical, his reaction is way overblown, particularly since they already went through this in this show with the Odo/Primmin thing in season one (which was quickly dropped). There and here, I think Odo's prickly, angry reaction to any threat to his position and authority is partly the result of his insecurity, and here his assuming that it's a racial decision seems to indicate that Odo still has very little trust that anyone sees him as anything other than The Shapeshifter. Sisko's not wrong in telling Kira that Odo brings this type of thing on himself, though, since Odo's regular attempts to distance himself from humanoids and his continual desire to skirt basic freedoms in the pursuit of justice do just as much to alienate him from others as humanoids' isolation of him. Still, while Odo's fit in this episode has some precedent, it does seem overblown and inconsistent with Odo's ability to -- after a bit of reassurance from Sisko -- take the Primmin thing in stride, to say nothing of his bizarre outburst of threatening Quark. I'm not sure why Odo's reaction in this episode is as extreme as it is, beyond that it's necessary to re-emphasize how little Odo feels he fits in in order to bring us to the end revelations.
On the other hand, Odo's feeling the pull to the Nebula, to the point where he abandons the Defiant to its possible destruction, fits in with his character, and what the series generally presents -- which is that Odo's instinctual pull toward his own people is stronger than most of the ties that he forms in his everyday life. Odo rescuing Kira but dragging her along to the trip is a lovely encapsulation of their dynamic, with Kira as both Odo's greatest champion and as his sometimes reluctant tether to the humanoid world; Odo brings her along unconscious because he cares so about her, even though he leaves the rest of the Defiant to be destroyed, but his instinctual pull is strong enough that he *only* thinks about Kira enough to save her and (selfishly?) keeping her with him. Odo's insistence that Starfleet doesn't trust the shapeshifter maybe is for good reason; Odo may recognize on some level, even if he doesn't want to admit it, that his loyalties to the humanoids he lives with is somewhat provisional on his having none of his own people.
Given that I thought Quark's complaints in The Jem'Hadar were a little much given that he wasn't that badly treated there by Sisko, it's worth noting that he is treated *horribly* in this episode by Sisko and Odo. Odo at least we are meant to see is unstable. But what is up with that Sisko scene where he brings in the Nagus' sceptre? Even if we presume that Sisko is in the right to make appeals to Quark the private citizen's head of state for him to risk his life, Sisko making Quark kiss the Nagus' sceptre while Sisko holds it and has a maniacal gleam in his eye makes him seem like a psychopathic supervillain. I don't know what they were thinking. The later scene of Sisko and Quark wishing each other luck is nicely done, for what it's worth.
So the character work is mixed, and it's hard to evaluate the plot halfway through (and spoilers, the plot in part 2 is not great), so I'd say a high 2.5 stars.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 1:34pm (USA Central)
The Search, Part I
That wasn't supposed to post. Odd. OK, continuing...
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 1:34pm (USA Central)
The Search, Part I
Here we start season three. This is Ron Moore's first script and the first appearance of the Defiant, and of course it ends with the first we see of Odo's people (Salome Jens). The grand scheme changes to the show's focus is, as Jammer said in his review, a somewhat more action/adventure-oriented story, with more battles and explosions. The idea here of tracking down the Founders seems reasonable-ish, though I do somewhat wish that they could discuss more openly whether this is actually a good idea, given that the Founders certainly want to be kept a secret based on their behaviour. Is there any other way that the Federation, Romulans et al. could try to negotiate with the Dominion? Anyway, the biggest indicator of the new stakes are the way Sisko does acceede to T'Rul's
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 1:10pm (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
What I would have like to seen was more mention of the Vulcans or Romulans. The should have been shown to the Mintakan leader as an example of where their race could go. Furthermore, why weren't there any Vulcans with the scientists in the begining of the episode. Wouldn't the Vulcans have some curiosity concerning an offshoot of their race?
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 1:04pm (USA Central)
She was a cult leader point blank, she was evil to the core. There's no difference between her or any other Trek villian. She's a cold hearted murderer.
It's reasonable that some of the colonists did nothing, they're still under the control of Alixus. However, some of them wouldn't be angered to the point of killing her.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 12:13pm (USA Central)
@MsV, thank you. I understand and respect what you say here -- but I disagree and I come about it from a very different perspective. I am not sure what to say about my not explaining my stance well enough or emotionally enough regarding Rugal. My personal take is that it seems as if Rugal's adopted parents raised him and gave him love, and Rugal clearly wants to stay with them. Rugal seems to me to be well old enough to make his own decisions. I do think his adopted parents told him awful things about Cardassians, and that has affected Rugal's psyche, but that doesn't mean that his adoptive parents are wrong. Given that Pa'Dar had no responsibility for his son being taken from him, I don't hold Pa'Dar in any contempt and nor is there any reason he should *not* want to recover his son. But Rugal's wishes should come first, unless he truly has been brainwashed by the Bajorans -- which is, yes, a possibility worth examining, but which I object.
Here is my *personal* perspective, and maybe this will help explain things: my parents divorced when I was very young. My father was very abusive. My mother took me away in the middle of the night. My father very much believed that she had no right to take me away. Now, I *did* continue seeing him (visitation) for several years, but eventually he and I lost contact. Nowadays, I am told he tells other people that my mother denied him visitation. My mother did not deny him visitation, but she did tell me enough about what he was like for me to not want to see him. I would say that this has had some negative impacts on me; that my mother hates my father for what he has done to her is not always easy for me, particularly when I see some of his traits in me. I think she could have dealt with the emotional dynamics much more delicately with me than she did. But the bottom line is that she was trying her best to be honest with me about a very difficult situation, and she is the person who gave me the greatest care. My father may well have loved me, and may still do so, but he is/was also a dangerous person, who treated my primary caregiver very badly.
There are many key differences in our situations, and I am not claiming that they are the same. But I sympathize most with Rugal and I think his right to make the decision about where to go trumps other concerns. His having developed self-hatred of a sort as a result of what his parents told him, truthfully, about the Cardassians is tragic, but it does not mean that his parents should have told the truth either. Rugal cannot automatically be shipped off to his biological relative just because that biological relative wants to have a relationship with him, and removing him from the people who cared for him for years and years without his approval is about the worst thing I can imagine happening to him. That Rugal has some ambivalence -- with O'Brien he seems to recognize that maybe there are things about Cardassians he might want to learn more about -- complicates matters, maybe, but it doesn't change the fundamental balance.
I didn't go into this because, well, it's personal, but also because I think it's more a flaw of the episode that Sisko's reasoning isn't discussed, and thus Rugal's character arc is left floating in the wind. The episode doesn't fully deal with what this decision means for Rugal, so I skimmed over that besides pointing out what the episode was failing to do.
This is all, of course, my own personal opinion, influenced by my own experiences, and I do not claim to hold the absolute truth or to know that I am right.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 11:58am (USA Central)
To William B, I enjoyed reading your lengthy but well expressed post. I have found it very difficult to understand how you didn't take a personal stance on the Rugal portion of your post. I'll tell you why I looked at this from a personal view point; I am a mother, if someone stole my baby from me and stuck him in an orphanage, allowing my enemy to raise him, I would have been crushed. While adding insult to injury, my child thinks I am a butcher, and hates who he is. I will assume I still had some sanity left and reluctantly allowed Sisko to intervene, there would be nothing he could say but take your child home.
I would not share him with anyone. I would try everything I could to get those 8 years back. We would have extensive counseling, I would introduce him to "good" Cardassians. I would find a priest to cast those demons out of him. I am saying Aint no mountain high enough to keep him from me and to teach him to love himself. That Bajoran father was so full of hate, he poisoned Rugal's view of himself. In my opinion, that's worse than a beating.
PaDar should not have been on Bajor, but since he was there was no reason for Dukat to do this to the man or his son. Personally, the show would have ended because Dukat would be dead.
- Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 10:03am (USA Central)
Ridiculous, total waste of an episode. Some of Enterprise's best episodes illustrate the hard decisions faced by command. This shows the opposite: the scientist is a liar and murderer, and his daughter was an accomplice. Both belonged in the brig and on the way back to Earth. Really got the impression that the writers weren't all that familiar with the show
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