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- Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 2:44am (USA Central)
Return to Grace
That may be true ordinarily, but the Klingons were at war.. and in literally the very next episode (Sons of Mogh) they talked about procedures the Klingons were taking to totally secure their vessels - including "entire directories of false information" - which was done in case the ship was taken (which means presumably their security would be massively increased.
Even *todays* security is better than that!
Also, you could say that, in response to the stolen Bird of Prey, that's why they increased security by the next episode.. but in Sons of Mogh Worf said he couldn't get ahold of Kurn for a long while, and that Kurn had been stripped of his rank and position months before when Worf originally told Gowron he wouldn't help them. Since Kurn knew of the security procedures, it stands to reason he found out *before* he was stripped, which is, in all likelihood significantly earlier than when Dukat stole the ship....
Finally, as for easy to break codes, there have been numerous occasions where the various different crews have said something like "Computer - lock out all command functions!" - without resorting to the long code Data used in TNG:Brothers.. And then it seems to take days or never for the intruders to break the code (e.g. Ferengis in TNG:Rascals).
I know, I'm guilty of over thinking it, but the technical inconsistencies can be annoying... Still love Trek tho ;)
- Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 2:27am (USA Central)
Ashes to Ashes
Does anyone else think Ensign Kim is violating protocol by asking the captain to give him and Ensign Ballard a minute? As soon as the captain agrees to accept Ballard as telling the truth, Ensign Kim almost dismisses the captain! Seems to me an ensign would keep his mouth shut until a private moment presented itself.
- Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 12:44am (USA Central)
My reticence to support "Second Skin" also has to do with the magic trick the episode does which is very much like the one in "In the Hands of the Prophets" and "Cardassians" -- it sidesteps the apparent story to reveal unscrupulous political scheming as the root cause. Entek was behind it because the Order is diabolical. That's a plot explanation for why Kira was captured, but it does not provide the reason for the story to take place. Now, because the personal development with Kira leads to her boning with Ghemour, the sidestep does not wholly render the story irrelevant, by any means. And I think this sidestepping can work well -- "Duet" somewhat inverts it, in that Marritza's apparent villainy turns out to be part of his own scheme, but for various reasons I hope to talk about at some point, I think "Duet" earns that twist, an does not render the foregoing material irrelevant.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:30pm (USA Central)
Elaan of Troyius
Okay, I'll confess. Can't argue with Jamahl or the other posters here so I won't rate this episode. Can't bring myself to do it.
Because... I'll always be enthralled watching France Nuyen as Elaan just as much as I am watching Sophie Marceau's performances in "Braveheart" and that silly Bond movie ("The World Is Not Enough").
Yeah, okay. I know I'm a dick. To each his own.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:12pm (USA Central)
This is indeed the worst among the worst. At least with "Spock's Brain" or "The Way to Eden" I could laugh. This episode's premise is the complete opposite in every way of Individualism, Egoism, and Rational Self-Interest. Kantian in its drivel ("the greatest good is that which enriches the doer the least") and steeped in Christianity, the silliness even extends to things non-philosophical and strictly scientific such as the diversity within the Human Race itself toward all ends of all ethical spectrums. And yet, by Gem's performance, the Vians will know her species? Even the Old Testament's rubric required "10 good men." God awful (pun intended) in every way, from sets, acting, philosophy, ugh. Zero stars with a McEnroe "argument for the next call" for some future capability on this wonderful website to rate episodes negatively.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 9:55pm (USA Central)
Day of the Dove
Michael Ansara! (Cochise!!)
Allow me to borrow a line from Ricardo Montalbán: "Excellent. Excellent."
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 4:30pm (USA Central)
Who Watches the Watchers
A wonderful little episode - but one that for obvious reasons is going to lead to strong opinions on either side of the spectrum.
For me, this is an examination of what might happen if a primitive but rational people were exposed to the dictum "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Some might interpret that as evidence of a supreme being. Others might believe in the supreme being, but question how to interpret the wishes of that being. Others might not believe without proof. And if proof were provided - a primitive but rational people might conclude that the supreme being was not actually a supreme being.
Given the broad constraints of an hour's TV this episode does not perhaps examine all of these elements with subtlety. But it does at least ask the question based on its premise with some sensitivity. The scenes between Nuria and Picard on the Enterprise are particular highlights. 3 stars.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 3:25pm (USA Central)
A triumph of pacing and slow-burn revelation as a mystery unfolds in classic style. Wonderful acting as well - except, it must be said, from Marina Sirtis - building to the most shattering conclusion in the series so far. It's a pitch perfect examination of an omnipotent being bounded by conscience and tortured by guilt and regret.
There are also some wonderful little vignettes - Worf's "I admire gall" and "Good tea. Nice house", and Riker's upside-down delivery in the trap of particular note.
Without the Troi subplot - which was an intriguing idea but which was perhaps not perfectly implemented - this would be a slam dunk 4 star. VFX dropped off badly in this episode too. 3.5 stars it is.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 1:57pm (USA Central)
As for the advanced technology-well it seems related to the cloaking device . However the Romulans clearly nicked the idea from the Daleks ( Dr Who-Frontier in Space) when they were trying to foment a war between the Draconians and Earth Empires.
When is the Third Doctor going to turn up ?
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 1:49pm (USA Central)
The Ensigns of Command
I always have an aversion to plot devices that nullify the simplest way of dealing with the problem - evacuate 15000 people with no transporters because of a radiation effect that never gets mentioned again? Boom, there's your episode.
But these naked plot contrivances aside, I found the Data story to be interesting. Here he is having to improvise and be creative - and yet, really, he makes no progress, simply trying a number of menu options until finding one that works. And in Data's relationship with Ard'rian, even the final kiss is something he computes is required, rather than intuits.
The B-story also reaches a satisfactory conclusion, as the Seliaks are hoist with their own legalistic petard. And the C-story reaches a conclusion with a miracle not being completed, highly unusually, and the transporters remaining unfixed. Overall, a solid 2.5 stars.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 12:46pm (USA Central)
@Del_Duio - Agreed. I always thought it was a butterfly effect story, not a direct cause->effect thing. Like, one Klingon ship found the wreckage of a Federation starship, pulverized with Romulan disruptor fire, found the "black box", figured out what happened and was impressed enough to collect the bodies and deliver them back to a Starfleet ship.
The Captain of the Starfleet ship had a brother on the Enterprise C and the Klingon Captain and he share a moment of mutual respect. Years later they are both stodgy Admirals and meet to fight over something or other, remember each other and take a different path. One stone plopped in a lake makes a billion ripples and all that.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 12:30pm (USA Central)
First impression is that those VFX shots look good.
It goes downhill from there though, and it seems a very low key way to enter a series. A number of the plot elements - Wesley's school project gone awry, Dr Crusher's overbearing motherly concern, Ken Jenkins' scenery chewing performance as Stubbs - get the eyes rolling rather than helping engage with the episode. That the nanites achieve sentience suggests that Wesley created an entire civilisation - and that little bombshell is wrapped up in 10 seconds at the end.
There are some nice little character moments, but really I didn't get along with this one at all. 1.5 stars.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 11:06am (USA Central)
@ Roman / "so how is the Enterprise-C doing to make a dent into a modern Klingon warship?!"
That's not the point though, it's to show the Klingons that a Federation ship would be willing to fight to the death in a lost cause (something most Klingons would respect of course). If you can respect your enemies, that might open the door to future negotiations for peace which is what likely happened.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 11:05am (USA Central)
I wonder.... has it ever been commented on that Seven and her families early assimilation adds a very benevolent light to the rather dark actions of Q in "Q Who?"
If the Borg were already on their way to Earth, having learned of it's location from the Hansens... then Q did Picard a huge favor.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:36am (USA Central)
I think Guinan was probably necessary for Picard to think that the plan had any merit in the first place. I don't see Picard as someone who would normally endorse the notion of using time travel to undo an unfavorable event or series of events. Guinan made the case that sending the Enterprise-C back was actually *reversing* an accidental manipulation of the timeline rather than initiating the manipulation.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:30am (USA Central)
I think it's tough to really identify a "shark-jumping" moment for Voyager because it was so inconsistent as a series. While Seven did eventually become overused, she was in fact one of the most interesting characters on the show and many of the episodes focused on her were actually pretty good. But from Day 1, Voyager was capable of producing a fantastic episode one week and a thoroughly laughable clunker the next. I can't really pinpoint any particular episode of Voyager and say "it was all downhill after that" or any single change or development that led to a series of consistently bad episodes.
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 1:01am (USA Central)
Lenny did it, he allowed a real TOS episode to appear in VOY. This is what Star Trek was always about. A good story not just techno it's way out of everything.
Picardo and Lenny stole the show.
(Lenny is from Lenny and Squiggy of Laverne & Shirley fame)
- Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 12:11am (USA Central)
Coincidentally, Bob, you referred to this episode as the show's "shark-jumping moment"--the phrase "jump the shark" was coined from a moment in the show "Happy Days" when a water-skiing Fonzie jumps over a shark. This episode of Voyager was directed by Anson Williams, who played Potsie on "Happy Days."
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 10:30pm (USA Central)
-A good plot, but imperfectly executed. I would agree that it gets overwrought at times, and the scene at the beginning (explaining Trills to all the viewers at home who are only tuning in to see one of the first lesbian kisses) drags on. In fact, many of the scenes seem to drag on a bit too long; this could have used a short "B story" to let them sharpen some of those scenes in editing.
-You can tell Lenara will be gone at the end of the episode (the relationship was moving way too fast to be anything but a one-episode romance), which removes some of the drama. We all know the 2 characters will end apart; we're just wondering how they will end apart. It would have been better if Lenara had spent multiple episodes at DS9, with her relationship with Dax building up in the background until finally coming to a head with Lenara deciding she should leave the station.
-Nobody's mentioned Avery Brooks' direction; there are several choices with the camera that I thought were well chosen. I wonder if he got a bit more freedom than the "normal" directors.
-there certainly does seem to be good reasons for a taboo against "reassociations" for Trills, as others have discussed above. It might have been interesting to see this discussed more than it was in season 7.
I'd suppose I'd give the episode 2.5 stars.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 9:20pm (USA Central)
For most Star Trek episodes with ambassadors, I would agree. But at the end of this episode, we find out the real ambassador was supposed to be on vacation, and the Tzenkethi coup that was the cause of their alleged mission never happened.
The impression those revelations give is that the changeling showed up at DS9 right after kidnapping the real ambassador, gave a mission, and nobody checked with Starfleet or the Federation, as they would have quickly found out something was wrong.
The alternative, of course, was that the Changeling had spent some time at Starfleet or the higher levels of the Federation bureaucracy, impersonating multiple people to fake intelligence about a coup and set up the mission. But 1) that doesn't seem to be how the writers were presenting it and 2) that would have immediately sent up alarm bells at DS9 and in Starfleet, because they would have started searching for what else the changeling could have done while there. They would have no reason to believe the only thing the changeling did while at the Federation and/or Starfleet was set up this mission. Our DS9 characters certainly don't seem specifically concerned about this possibility.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 8:13pm (USA Central)
I think this episode would have made a great two-parter WITHOUT GUINAN.
I'm probably one of the few Trekkies who never liked Guinan. But this episode would have been decidedly better without her.
Picard is already speculating that a Federation starship being destroyed in the defense of a Klingon outpost could have prevented the war BEFORE the second confrontation with Guinan. And Data is making that observation as well in the briefing.
What Guinan effectively does it not so much advance the story by telling Picard something is wrong, rather she is ultimately giving him the moral cover he needs to make the decision to send the Enterprise-C back.
I would have loved a more pacing revelation of things. While they're getting the Enterprise-C ready for battle in the 24th Century -- which is futile, they already mention that if the Enterprise-D went back to the battle with 4 Romulan warbirds they'd have no chance against her weapons - so how is the Enterprise-C doing to make a dent into a modern Klingon warship?! -- they begin to discuss the possibility that escaping the battle caused an alternate history.
Picard and Captain Garret will then have to make a truly brave decision to go back - not because some supernatural bartender tells them it's the right thing to do, but because logic dictates it. And logic is a cold mistress.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 6:26pm (USA Central)
I like "Second Skin." I love the set design in Kira's Cardassian quarters, and the way the music score is allowed to carry certain scenes, like Kira staring at herself in the mirror, searchingly. I like Visitor's performance, and also agree with Garak that she looks ravishing. I think the episode effectively gets across how shocking and painful it is to have the foundations of one's reality questioned, especially with an idea as shocking as that one is one's own enemy.
I like "Second Skin." This episode demonstrates some of Kira's better qualities and continues her development. I like that she is snarky and funny when interrogated, and that she quickly unravels Entek's plot once she has the missing piece of the puzzle (Ghemour's dissidence). That Kira hates the idea of herself as a Cardassian does not make her unable to perceive the genuine love that Ghemour has for Iliana. While it takes some time for her to see Ghemour as genuine, that revelation is not treated with the fireworks that we had in "Duet"; an honourable Cardassian is not a surprise for her anymore, it's just that it took some time for her to recognize that her apparent kidnapper was as duped as her. Kira's willingness to accept the role of Iliana substitute as put upon her by Ghemour shows her recognition that Cardassian ties mean as much as her own family ties.
I like "Second Skin." Garak returns for some witty bons mots; an early scene has him telling Bashir how desperately he wants to travel, and he gets to do some traveling later in this episode. He gets the best lines, as ever, and he gets to play the hero role in rescuing Kira. The development of Cardassian culture continues and I like that we have three distinct factions that are clearly delineated -- Central Command, Obsidian Order, Dissident Movement.
I don't love "Second Skin." When I start trying to write about the episode more deeply, I keep coming up to reasons that the episode falls short for me. There are numerous impressive things about Kira and Visitor here, but I feel like there is something missing in her arc. The pile-on of evidence that Entek provides, some of which is never explained (how *did* they find out about that mother animal she killed?), makes Kira question herself but does not totally undo her, which is fine but does mean we don't get the same sense of Kira losing her grip on reality and fighting back for it as we do in something like "Frame of Mind" (which others have noted). Kira does figure out Entek's plan at the last minute, but she is rescued by others, which means that she is largely passive as far as the episode's plot is concerned. More importantly, the horror of becoming a Cardassian is somewhat well explored, but the natural place to go with this is to examine how it would be possible for Kira's essential self to be a Cardassian? Kira watches Iliana's video, and the big, central question should be: Iliana seems like a person of conscience, an idealist like Kira -- how could she view the Bajoran resistance as a terrorist threat that must be quelled? And could that have been Kira, in some other life? The interesting question is not whether Kira was Iliana -- which is something of a foregone conclusion -- but whether she could have been her, and what that means for Kira's foundational worldview, not to mention the Cardassians that she killed. It is not that Iliana, the real Iliana, was *right* in believing that the Order infiltrating the Resistance would be a good thing -- I'm on board with the Occupation being wrong and the Resistance being ultimately a worthwhile pursuit, though I disagree with some means they used. But Iliana clearly believed in what she was doing, and was also enough like Kira in personality for the deception to take effect on Ghemour. Kira has the opportunity to see things from the Cardassian perspective, and we don't really learn much about how that affects her view, or whether she lets it at all. It is maybe bad form to criticize an episode for what it wasn't rather than for what it was, but the episode keeps almost going there and holding back. Kira can care about Cardassians who were too afraid to fight for what is right (Marritza) and who are secret dissidents (Ghemour); what of the young idealists, roped into an evil machine (Iliana, her double)?
While Garak is amusing, the show is sometimes verging on giving him too many superpowers. The scene where he talks down a Cardassian Gul is very similar to the Dukat scene with the freighter in "The Maquis," and is nearly as entertaining, but having Garak hold such influence at all times makes him seem much more invincible than I think is desired. Going to Cardassia, trashing an Obsidian Order operation and shooting an operative should probably have consequences, non? And we do get something like it, in "Improbable Cause," but Tain's reasons there have little to do with Garak's actions here, so that he's somewhat rendered a person who can just Do Anything (a problem in "Profit and Loss" as well). As for Sisko's blackmailing Garak only a few episodes after he blackmailed Quark, well, I guess they are consistent in their characterization.... In general, that the Defiant can be taken to Cardassia undetected *without* the cloak on is also rather much.
Probably 3 stars.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 5:32pm (USA Central)
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Difficult for me to expand significantly on any of the excellent comments, particularly those of Paul's and William's. I enjoyed William's isolation of "compassion" as the significant quality that became inversely proportional to the growth of Gary Mitchell's god-like persona.
The only aspect I would add is to give an enthusiastic nod to the direction of Gary and Elizabeth as portraying their evolving characters with a pronounced physical stiffness. Such is often the case in real psychological armor (review historical records of totalitarian dictators or any extremist today, Left or Right). It's often most prevalent in their "frozen" faces. I didn't know about this as a boy in the 1960's, of course, but I do now, having studied these phenomena in depth. When Gary briefly transforms back to human in the holding cell on the planet, his softness returns and he utters, "Jim," before losing the empathy and compassion of his humanity again, in effect, re-armoring. A similar scene can be studied in Spielberg's "Schindler's List" when Amon Goeth has pardoned a few prisoners, then looks in his bedroom mirror and says to himself, "I pardon you." The outstanding acting by Fiennes shows clearly the armor returning and, a few seconds later, he goes to his balcony and shoots a prisoner dead.
The portrayal was also perfect in hooking into the kinesiology of another well-known monster: Frankenstein's. I mean, c'mon, they can create beautiful gardens out of nothing, destroy force fields, move cups of water, strangle unsuspecting Kelso's with a cable, and on and on... but they can't lubricate their knee joints? So yeah, while I thought it was just creepy as a boy, I find this peculiarity brilliant today.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 1:45pm (USA Central)
These Are the Voyages...
I agree with Jammer's review and two stars. I felt the episode was well-intentioned but with some obvious missteps and off-notes. I loved the recreated TNG sets (my favorite Trek by far), and the last 30 seconds brought a tear to my eye.
But Trip's death was utterly ridiculous. It felt so off and rushed, like let's just tape this and get it done. How the aliens got on board? Where was security? It was absurd. Too much Riker playing chef. No character development for the Ent principals in 6 years. It could have been much better with a few more rewrites and plot tightening.
I also think it would have been better received as a regular season episode with Riker and Troi commenting on history through the holodeck (minus Trip's death). That would have been a real love letter to the fans, and allowed Ent to have a more rewarding finale.
In any case, 10 years later and still not Trek series... just a rather poor alternative universe film reboot. I hope the 50th anniversary next year persuades the suits at CBS to do a new Trek TV series that continues in the prime universe.
- Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 12:48pm (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part I
Well, that certainly was no "The Best of Both Worlds" or "Redemption." For an episode that deals with Data's possible death, time travel, soul-consuming aliens from the future, a look into Picard and Guinan's backstory and Mark Twain and is a season ending cliffhanger, there's a rather surprising lack of energy and excitement to "Time's Arrow, Part I."
Let me just say that I don't mind time travel stories in Trek. I don't even mind holodeck malfunction stories. So, I'm not going to hold that against the episode. In fact, most times when people start complaining about the overuse of time travel and/or the holodeck, it seems (to me anyway) to be nothing more than whining. Time travel isn't the problem here. Jammer said it better than I could with this - "'Time's Arrow, Part I' is all setup and absolutely no payoff."
Really, what else is there to say about it? It isn't bad, but it isn't good either. It's just another episode like "Hero Worship" and "Imaginary Friend" - mind-numbingly average, average, average. It really does seem like this was a one-part episode that was stretched almost beyond the breaking point to become a two-parter. Nothing really amounts to anything. I suppose I could point out how ridiculous the crew's reaction to Data's severed head was. Why are they so off-put by Data's matter-of-factness about the whole situation? He's an android people; you know he doesn't have emotions! Thankfully those scenes don't last long. I suppose I could point out how enjoyable Picard's statement of "Then I'll be irrational!" was. But when that truly brief moment is the highlight of the episode - well, you see the problem. Even the alien antagonists come across as fairly uninteresting, though the episode seemed hell-bent on making me think they were terrifying. The problem here (once again, just like with "Hero Worship" and "Imaginary Friend") is that I'm nitpicking. And that should probably be a major hint as to the score I'm going to give the episode.
As for the Twain character - well, a lot of people appear to either love him or hate him. For me, he was just like everything else in "Time's Arrow, Part I." I didn't think he was particularly bad (Twain was a rather larger-than-life guy in real life after all). But, I didn't think he was particularly good either. Nothing about the performance or the character himself made me hope to see more of him in Part II. In the end, he was probably an unnecessary addition to the story that really added nothing either way and could have been cut without, therefore, losing anything either way. Just another average piece in an average puzzle.
I feel kind of bad not having anything else to say about a season finale, but there it is.
Time for some more post-season number crunching....
"THE NEXT GENERATION" SEASON FIVE
7 - Redemption, Part II
8 - Darmok
7 - Ensign Ro
6 - Silicon Avatar
5 - Disaster
4 - The Game
6 - Unification, Part I
7 - Unification, Part II
3 - A Matter of Time
7 - New Ground
5 - Hero Worship
3 - Violations
1 - The Masterpiece Society
3 - Conundrum
4 - Power Play
8 - Ethics
5 - The Outcast
6 - Cause and Effect
8 - The First Duty
7 - Cost of Living
6 - The Perfect Mate
5 - Imaginary Friend
9 - I, Borg
8 - The Next Phase
6 - The Inner Light
5 - Time's Arrow, Part I
Average Season Score: 5.731
Average Series Score: 4.936
Final TOS Average Score: 5.150
Best Episode: I, Borg
Worst Episode: The Masterpiece Society
This season was something of a mixed bag. It's the first season since the abysmal depths of Season One to not give us any 10 out of 10 episodes. In fact, it only managed to deliver one classic episode (which I consider to be episodes with scores of 9 or 10) - "I, Borg." But, it's also the very first season of TNG (and the first since TOS Season Two) to not give us any 0 out of 10 episodes either. While it's a slight step down in overall quality from the previous season, that's not by much - Season Four had a score of 5.885 and Season Five gets a score of 5.731 - and it still managed to exactly tie (with 149 total points out of 260) the single best season of TOS (Season Two).
TNG is slowly but surely crawling its way out of the basement it dug for itself in its first two years and is slowly closing in on TOS's final average score.
I've seen a lot of people saying that TNG was really past its prime after Season Four. Well, that might be the case. I doubt Seasons Six and Seven will be able to match Season Four's high score. But, if this is TNG past its prime, I'll gladly take it. Because it is still damn fine entertainment overall.
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