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Luke
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

Berman and Braga should have taken notes on this episode. If they wanted to send "a valentine to the fans" with the final episode of ENT, this is how it should have been done. The nostalgia factor is high but the focus never once leaves the "Deep Space Nine" characters. Kirk, Spock and company may take up a lot of screen time, but they don't push our regular characters out of the way - like Riker and Troi do in that episode which shall not be named.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is indeed just an immense amount of fun. It isn't perfect, but it definitely achieves what it sets out to do and then some - play tribute to Trek's past. Watching the "Deep Space Nine" characters Forest Gump their way through the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles" is a very enjoyable experience. Jammer may be right that the episode is awfully light on plot, or meaning, or connection to the rest of the series. But, so what? It's fun!

There are problems, however. The biggest, as Jammer points out, is Dax's actions. She just goes all googly-eyed fan-girl on absolutely everything (wanting to throw caution to the wind and meet Kirk and Spock just for the fun of it, drooling over the TOS era tricorders, fawning over how great a lover McCoy was, etc.). I'm not a big fan of her character to start with (no surprise, I'm sure) but even I thought this was a disservice to the character. Most of time I was just left thinking "grow up, Jadzia". Another major problem was the completely unnecessary pointing out of the differences between TOS and TNG era Klingons. We simply did not need an explanation, any explanation. When Kor, Kang, and Koloth showed up on DS9 back in "Blood Oath" with full forehead ridges, I thought the message was clear - Klingons always had forehead ridges. The powers that be were trusting to the audiences' intelligence to simply suspend disbelief, wink at the screen and accept that the Klingons in TOS had the ridges. But now along comes an explanation, even it is ultimately a non-answer. Totally unneeded and, to be honest, something of a slap in the face to the audience. It's like the writers were saying "we don't trust the audience to understand what we were trying to do in "Blood Oath" so we better spoon-feed them something". UGH! This will even lead to another unnecessary (though surprisingly well-done) explanation in ENT's fourth season. There are also some little nitpicky problems, such as the Defiant again being cloaked in the Alpha Quadrant (in the 24th century) without care for the agreement with the Romulans.

Still, all of those problems only harm the episode a little and only hold it back from a perfect score. As an anniversary tribute episode, it probably couldn't get any better than this. Imagine trying to write a story that straddles the line between being a loving tribute but also something of a parody, a story that's driven by nostalgia but doesn't rely on it and a story which must be told within the limits of another story. That's right, Brannon Braga had quite a difficult task when he wrote "Flashback" and he fucked it up royally. "Deep Space Nine's" team, however, confronted the same situation and they managed to create a classic episode beloved by just about everyone.

9/10
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Justus
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

I agree with a lot of the commenters, this was not a good episode. The show telegraphs pretty early that Hoshi is not experiencing reality when T'Pol knows why the aliens are upset before communication has been established. Hoshi even asks how this is possible, but moves on without a second thought.

This could have been a good episode if Hoshi had to solve a problem to escape or had some insight to gain about herself from the experience, but neither of these things happen. She, along with the audience, just kind of wade through the dream sequence until we pop out of the tranporter on the other side.

To add insult to injury, the episode tries to foist undeserved character development on Hoshi to justify the dream sequence. Archer tells Hoshi that she overcame her fear of transportation by boarding the dream tranporter platform. First, Hoshi was already a ghost in the dream and everyone thought she was dead so what did she have to lose? Second, it's not like Hoshi had figured out that she was in a dream and had to do something she feared in order to escape back to reality.

As it stands, this episode is a lot of sci/fi concept with little substance. I'm surprised Jammer rated this as highly as he did. We're usually in close agreement.
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Patrick
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S3: Exodus, Part 1

@battlestar

The occupation takes place AFTER the 1 year time jump. This episode is 4 month after the 1 year jump.

Yes you are missing quite a bit.
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Patrick
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S2: Downloaded

Mikey, no one is taking you seriously.
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Nesendrea
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

@William: That's an interesting interpretation that I can honestly say never once occurred to me over the years. And looking back, it's probably right.

Part of the fault lies with my memory, as I always recalled Soong using the word "terminate" (rather than "shut down"), which leaves a great deal less room for ambiguity. In my own defense, however, later in that scene (unless I am misinterpreting or misremembering once again), Soong tells Data that he programmed Julianna to "die" after living a long life, and he urged him, "don't rob her of that." We can still assume under your interpretation that Soong meant Julianna wouldn't be able to enjoy whatever time he programmed her to have left if she knew the truth - though it has to be admitted that this seems an odd and even slightly cruel thing to say to Data. But taken with the "shut down" remark, it bolstered my understanding that Julianna would permanently power down if she were exposed to that information.

Still, the episode's final act makes little sense if that is indeed what Soong was saying (especially since the officers didn't even comment on the abortive ethical dilemma I mentioned), so I'm going to go with you on this. It's easy for me to feel that the script should have been a little clearer, but for all I know I'm the only one who misunderstood.

Thanks for the clarification.
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Diamond Dave
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: North Star

Yay, Western! Or not... I'm also not keen on these types of episodes, but I suppose at least with a holodeck you can have an excuse that works a little better than the giant contrivance at play here. As an instrument this is fairly blunt in terms of messaging as well, and it mines every Western cliche in the book from lynching to shootout.

I suppose the cast seem to be enjoying themselves but I can't say that I did. 1.5 stars.
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nothingoriginal55
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Dauphin

i liked this one a lot more than i thought inwould. a low point was riker and guinans scene. Worf had some good scenes in this one.
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Peter G.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

Jammer got this one wrong. And I don't just mean I disagree with him about it being a watchable episode; I've actually always found it fun and novel as a Star Trek outing. I mean he got the intent of the episode wrong regarding Red Squad. They are wrong, were always wrong, and never for one instant had a viable point of view. *At first* we're not sure because we don't know what's been going on, but every single thing we learn about them ought to make us realize they are, just as Jake said, deluded dangerous children.

The Captain taking stims barely scratches the surface, although it does bespeak the fact that he needs to control everything and won't go to sleep. What becomes very alarming is when they tell Jake to avoid talking with the crew; that's when we ought to realize that something sinister is afoot. In time we learn that the ship is not being operated under Federation principles, as it is little more than a dictatorship with a very charismatic leader. The Captain's EXO is evidence of this, as she must enforce his law while he can play being the good guy. Once they put Jake in prison for saying his opinion we can pretty well realize this may as well be a Cardassian ship. We're shown just enough to make us realize that this ship has been a dictatorship all along, since we're told rather quickly that the crew is apparently forbidden to cry or express emotion of any kind (let alone dissent). It's unlikely that most of the cadets would have ever agreed to stay behind enemy lines for 8 months if they hadn't essentially been forced into it. Should we have any doubts that the Captain's choices for senior staff were probably those who would be most loyal to him? Note the lack of senior officers around willing to challenge his decisions.

I think the crux of what we're supposed to understand about this crew is spoken by Jake in the mess hall during the Hitler Youth meeting (which is what it is). When he tells them, correctly, that a decorated hero like his father would never do something this reckless, he was dead-on correct, period end of story. There is not anything controversial about it. The only thing that IS confusing is that the Captain is so damned confident and charming that we want to believe him, which puts him about in the same place as Dukat in terms of how much his charisma ought to inspire our trust.

When Collins, at the end, says that her Captain was a great man, we're supposed to be looking at a child evaluating her big-brother type mentor who just got her entire class killed for no reason and who lost the Federation a battleship during wartime. She is basically in shock, a total basket case, and still suffering from cognitive dissonance delusions about the rightness of what Red Squad was doing. That Nog (and the director) gave her statement any credence was probably a mistake on the part of the script, because it had none whatsoever.

Overall I see this entertaining tale as being about the dangers of introducing young people to a militant education. It can turn bright young stars into little dictators and make them think they're some kind of superior race like Khan and his people. Did anyone watching the episode note the similarity of the pride and sense of superiority Red Squad exhibits and compare this to the Jem'Hadar, who have also been taught that they're a superior race? I think it's no accident. The episode strikes me as being both about the dangers of training young people to be proud killers, as well as the horrors of war in general where the young generation inevitably is the one thrown into the fray and damaged irreparably because of it (see: Full Metal Jacket).
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Diamond Dave
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Twilight

I have always been a sucker for 'what if?' episodes and this is another strong entry into the genre. If the plot device is fairly risible (spatial anomalies delivering subspace parasites... OK, then....) then at least it plays out in a nicely dark tone. There were definitely strong flavours of Year of Hell in there, as well as a bit of BSG too. Interesting.

On the debit side the FX work looked really creaky here for the first time in ages, and as others have noted Travis is really getting sidelined here - killed with not a mention. 3.5 stars.
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Peter G.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

The script was unforgivable, but I will lay the blame for that at the feet of Piller, who signed off on it, and Siddig, who directed it in this fashion. I know the director must answer to the producers but if there is a serious conflict about how to present the work then the director should refuse to do it. You can't "direct" if you aren't allowed to choose the direction.

That being said Siddig should have known better than to allow his actors to do what they did here. It wasn't that the tone was uneven or the style incoherent - it's that the actors were bad. They were straight-up bad. The thing about high comedy or farce is that it's considered in the industry to be far harder to do than serious drama or light comedy. Many directors will admit they simply cannot do it competently. This was not something for a new director to be given. That is also on the exec producers. This script, as unredeemable as it was, could have been twisted around by a clever director in such a way as to say something through all the mess. I'll give a few examples of how scene direction could have taken gruesome scenes and made them interesting in some way:

1) Instead of Quark directly harassing Aluura the scene could have been shot in such a way that the male staff was sitting nearby watching, with Quark trying to impress them. Or add in a line about a liquidator auditing him and have the liquidator sitting nearby to ensure that Quark is sufficiently oppressive to his staff. Quark could then be seen to be harassing Aluura somewhat under duress, even though he does do it. It would still be bad of him, but more complicated than him merely being a slime. The final scene could then pay off by him realizing he never should have done it for any reason, and to hell with Ferengi custom.

2) Quark and Ishka yelling at each other was both terribly acted (the actors were yelling but believing little of it) and comically dead. It's hard for something to be funny when it's aurally abrasive and a repetition of what we've seen many times before. The lines are garbage, and Siddig seemed to be cornered in that it HAD to end with a heart attack, which couldn't occur without histrionics before it. Or could it? Why not add just one line earlier indicating Ishka's health isn't what it used to be, and then in this scene have them teasing each other much more amicably than this, with Ishka getting herself worked up (rather than having a screaming match with Quark) and having a more subtle heart attack. As we here on planet Earth know, heart attacks frequently don't come in the form of a person dropping dead on the spot. Much more reasonable would have been a realization that she had chest pain and weakness, and Quark perhaps making a joke about her being overly dramatic before realizing what was happening. She still would have been unable to complete her task but at least we would feel badly for her (which we don't in the episode, which is a travesty). The scene could have been a touching family one rather than high farce, and it actually would have been much funnier with them 'amicably' sparring rather than screaming. In fact, the most funny would be them realizing they've said these things many times before, as if it was a ritual they could both appreciate on some level, which could then play like a family script that they've come to sort of like in an annoying kind of way.

3) The scene with Quark and Nilva was abominable, and this one was completely Siddig's fault. Physical comedy was the wrong route here. But if it had to be physical comedy then at the very least it could have been something that would lead to the 'reveal' that Quark's surgery was 'complete'. For instance, if Nilva was trying to undress Lumba and for every piece of clothing or jewelry he takes off Lumba manages to put another one back on we could have a Marx Brothers type of chicanery. We could be led to think that "oh, if he sees Quark naked the jig will be up" only to then learn later that Quark was actually just being afraid in general rather than concerned about the plan being busted.

4) The final scene should have been directed in such a way that Aluura said the things she said out of fear. Same lines, different direction. When she insists she was looking forward to the oo-mox the idea should be that she thinks what Quark is saying is a trick to test her and that she'd better prove to him she's serious about complying. This would give us much more of a release of tension when we see him realize this and assure her for real that he'll never ask her to do that again. We might have even ended up feeling good about the theme this way.

As it is this is the worst episode of Trek ever, bar none. I like The Alternative Factor, am amused by Spock's Brain, don't hate Let He Who Is Without Sin as much as many people do, and Threshold...well, it's the *dumbest* Trek episode ever but it doesn't make my skin crawl and cause me to cringe with embarrassment repeatedly. Maybe just once or twice.

I sort of want to give Profit and Lace half a star just for the Hupyrian standoff. I actually laughed out loud at that.
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William B
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

@Nesendrea, I interpreted what Soong was saying differently:

DATA: If she recovers and learns that she is an android
SOONG: She doesn't have to know. I designed her to shut down in the event the truth was discovered. When you put that chip back in, she will wake up and remember nothing. All you have to do is make up some excuse about what happened to her.

I don't think "shut down" means terminate, I think it means "lose consciousness," i.e. what actually happened in the episode. I think it's a fail-safe for this eventuality -- something *PHYSICALLY* happens to expose that Juliana is an android, such as a disastrous event that takes part of her head off, Juliana's androidness is exposed, people find the chip and play it and Soong explains to whoever found out about Juliana that she should stay an android. Along those lines, while the show *should have* made this explicit, I don't think that telling Juliana that she is an android will trigger the shutdown -- I think it's more about physical trauma, because I think Soong is assuming that the only way for Juliana to be exposed is for something like what happened, happened. The reason that's in the episode isn't that the episode is short-circuiting its moral dilemma, it's so that she doesn't find out she is an android from rocks falling on her and exposing her circuitry.
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AmagnonX
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Unimatrix Zero, Part II

I'd like to say the idea of a Borg civil war is genius - it is however extremely obvious - but that does not detract from the concept.

That idea however should have been implemented a lot earlier - and it would have allowed a lot of the other Borg episodes to actually make sense - the Borg with internal fractures would be a lot weaker, and that matches how they have constantly been portrayed in Voyager.

Having said that - the premises of the story are ridiculous - there are literally an infinite number of other methods in which this could have been achieved. The concept of the UMZ itself was ok, and could have been kept - but the Away Team Assimilation Plan is so toxic and lacking logic, and so plainly BAD - how could any writer convince themselves that this was a valid approach?

The whole 'Dialog with the Borg' idea - especially the Queen is really annoying - everything could have been accomplished with limited chit chat with the Borg directly - and Janeway poncing around and acting tough is just so stupidly overdone bah .. she would have crapped in her pants .. lets be realistic.

As for the Borg blowing up its own ships - jeesus .. I would have cracked up laughing .. "Great strategy Queen .. keep at it .. Im about to break .. just blow up a few thousand more ships."

Overall an enjoyable show, as for the the Borg Civil War - I say, about time. However the realistic dread and fear that should have been apparent, was starkly absent - giving it a totally cartoonish feel.
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robrow
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Resistance

All the TV work I've seen from Joel Grey has been good. Especially in House MD. And I liked this story. After 9 episodes which were meh at best - sometimes downright embarrassing - Voyager season 2 is finally improving. But it is wearying to see so many reused TNG or DS9 plots. And, for me, it comes off as inferior copy of the first. And a failure to build on strong ideas set up in the latter. Also, after that brief glimmer in season 1, I really miss the Romulans.
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Luke
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 2:37am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Assignment

And so we're given our introduction to the Pah-Wraiths, thereby having "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" take a massive turn away from traditional science-fiction and into the realm of fantasy (would science-fantasy be a more appropriate term?). I know a lot of people don't like this direction the show took. I've encountered people who hated the idea of the Prophets and thought that made the show too fantasy-based. I've even met people who were okay with the Prophets but absolutely despised the concept of the Pah Wraiths. As for me, I love it! Move the series into a more fantasy-oriented setting? I'm perfectly comfortable with that. Now, of course, the real meat of the Pah Wraith arc won't come until much, much later. "The Assignment" really doesn't factor into that arc other than to establish their existence and the basics of their relationship with the Prophets. Still, it needed to be noted here that I love this new direction for the series.

As for the episode itself - it's a surprisingly effective thriller with a few small problems that do harm it. First off, one of those problems is definitely not Rom! Now, I've been really hard on Rom in the past (just read my comments on "Family Business" and
"Bar Association"), but he's easily one of the best parts of this episode. I do actually like the character and I think it was this episode where I started to have that affection. Rom may be an idiot, but he's clearly an idiot-savant (a downright imbecile in some areas but a total genius in others). It's obvious that interpersonal skills are not one of his strong suits but engineering work is. He also gets some nice character development this time around - he's a guy determined to do what's right, to help out his crew-mates and to have some distinction for that. He was really good this time around. Sure, he may be the comic relief, but he's an effective comic relief for once. No, the major problem is Rosalind Chao's performance. While she is magnificently effective is many scenes (most notably the ones where she "accidentally" pulls Molly's hair too hard and when O'Brien wakes up with her looking at him), she's pretty terrible in others. The scene where she first convinces O'Brien that Keiko is possessed (when the Pah Wraith stops her heart) is woefully bad. What was Chao trying to do there? Her best attempt at playing a man passing a kidney stone? And the scene where the Pah Wraith is killed - talk about over-the-top! Another problem is that O'Brien apparently gets off completely scot-free after what he did. Not only did he sabotage the station, he also physically assaulted Odo, lied to his superior officers, disobeyed direct orders and commandeered a runabout under false pretenses. But, apparently, just saying that his wife was possessed by a Bajoran demon is enough to explain that all away (even though he doesn't have any evidence that was the case).

Still, "The Assignment" is a good thriller episode, allows Colm Meaney to deliver another wonderful performance and shows O'Brien as a truly committed husband and father (always a plus in my book). For all the talk about how he really goes to the wall for his wife, it seems a lot of people are forgetting that he really wants to protect his daughter as well. The moment when he breaks a glass in his bare hand is, after all, because the Pah Wraith is pretending to pamper Molly - something O'Brien simply cannot tolerate. And the opening of the episode (when Molly gives him and Bashir grief for killing Keiko's plants) is a wonderful little father-daughter moment. I love whenever the show takes the time to show O'Brien (or Sisko for that matter) as a loving father, something that is woefully lacking on most TV shows these days.

WTF HAIR - 32 (+1)

7/10
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Luke
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Nor the Battle to the Strong

Wow! I remember thinking that this episode was strong, but not this strong. "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" is indeed one of "Deep Space Nine's" finest hours. As a show focused on the theme of "war is hell", it is (I'm just going to say it) much better than the much beloved "The Siege of AR-558" from Season Seven. While both episodes rely heavily on "war is hell" cliches (notably the stereotypical "ARRRGGG" solider Jake stumbles upon and the M*A*S*H style medics), this episode downplays them much more than the later one.

I suppose I could write paragraph after paragraph on what is so good about the episode, but I'll stick with just the top two things that stand out for me. 1.) Combat is not glorified in any way, shape or form. Star Trek has always focused on the "heroes" doing rather heroic things. Whenever they get into combat it's not exactly glorified but it's not exactly shown as the barbaric act it truly is. Violence on Trek is always fairly stylized. There's nothing wrong with stylized violence in media per se - I love a good late-80s/early-90s stylized action movie as much as the next guy. But when trying to show combat in a more realistic way, Trek often falls short. Not so here! Here we get the absolutely crucial message that war and direct combat is not some fun little pursuit, it's not some proving ground for heroes, it's not something that can and should be used to separate the weak from the strong. It's brutal, it's unforgiving, it's messy and it's simply downright terrible (for everyone involved). There may be "necessary" wars. But there are never any "good" ones. The episode also takes two people (Jake and the solider who shot his own foot) who aren't traditionally "heroic" and presents them as deserving of compassion, sympathy and understanding. Nicely done! 2.) "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" takes the one main cast member who has been given the least amount of development and actually uses him in an extremely effective way that is fully in keeping with his character. Compare the use of Jake "as a writer" here to how that concept was utilized in "The Muse" and the differences are stark. By putting Jake is an Ernest Hemingway style war story it not only allows him to have some magnificent character growth but takes his occupation as a journalist/writer seriously (instead of having an absurd space vampire suck out his writing abilities).

If I wanted to nitpick the episode I suppose I could bring the score down somewhat. Things like the Klingons breaking the ceasefire seemingly for no reason only to then suddenly reinstate it also for no apparent reason, the cliched guest characters and the silliness of Jake somehow surviving a cave he causes himself are all weaknesses. But, the good vastly outweighs the bad. Jammer said it best - this episode is "a real story, with real people, real problems, and real reactions." And real consequences - it would have been so easy to just hit the reset button hard once Sisko and Bashir find Jake alive in the rubble, but the episode refuses to do that and instead has the wonderful coda of Bashir and Sisko learning the truth about what Jake did. Bravo!

10/10
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Nesendrea
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

Strange how this episode short-circuits its own ethical dilemma (and equally strange that no one yet seems to have pointed out that it does so): Holo-Soong clearly states that he programmed Julianna to terminate in the event that she ever learned she was an android. Well, that certainly makes the decision of whether to tell her an easy one! After all, filling her in is equivalent to killing her - killing her, exactly the same as if you had put a knife through any ordinary human's chest. How can her "right" to know something absolve you of such an enormous, unaccountable responsibility? If you met a biological human whom you knew had a truly bizarre medical condition that would cause them to suffer a fatal stroke if they heard a particular sequence of words, and you willfully spoke that sequence to them with full knowledge of the consequences, how are you not a murderer?

Do you genuinely and earnestly believe that it is wrong to withhold from someone the fact that they are an artificial life form, making it morally correct to tell them and morally inexcusable not to? Well sir, then I guess Dr Soong is a contemptible monster. But whether he is or he isn't, he has made it so that you cannot fulfill this person's right to know without immediately and equivalently depriving them of another of their rights - the right to live. Soong has done a terrible thing, then, but your decision is made. You can't murder someone because you have something to tell them. "Dilemma" over.

I'm more than a little surprised that no one - Data, Picard, Crusher, Troi - even mentioned this while they were discussing the matter.
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Skeptical
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

Hooray, a message show... or something. I mean, I guess I have to give them credit for not making it blatantly biased in one direction and trying to show nuance, but in the end it just made the whole thing muddled. Which is the problem with message shows; when the plot is made to service the allegory or point you are trying to make rather than, y'know, be entertaining or logical. But honestly, I don't really care to talk about what Trek wants me to talk about. There were two other problems I had.

First, it's rather insulting how Iko's complete personality changed due to the nanoprobes. Actually, let me rephrase that, it's insulting to say that Iko was innocent of his crimes just because his empathy center was broken. Fine, so he doesn't feel empathy for other people. Why does that necessarily mean that he will turn into a psychopath? Perhaps he would simply be a narcissist? Or perhaps he would study philosophy, consider the needs of society, and be an upstanding citizen due to his interest in advancing society in general? Why does it have to be a sociopath?

That's why the parallel between Seven and Iko simply doesn't work. Seven absolutely had no choice in terms of being a Borg. Iko, however, did have a choice in everything he did, even if he was mentally crippled. It may have been harder for him, but he could have been a good guy anyway. And yes, maybe after his nanoprobe treatment he felt guilty, and at that point he wouldn't kill anymore, but that doesn't excuse what he did before. Seven trying to claim that Iko was not responsible is an affront to the idea of free will and personal responsibility. The plot could have continued without this silly idea that Iko was always innocent, and it distracted me every time it came up.

The second issue is Seven's obsession with this. Jammer mentioned that this deals "once again" with her guilt of being a Borg. My question is, why? When she first became human again, she didn't seem to care about what she did back then. She didn't mind being a Borg. Yes, as she grew to become more human, she left more and more of her Borgness behind. But I never really saw her as needing to be guilty about what she did. And I never really noticed it before. Given her acerbic nature, and given her Borg nature of declaring things irrelevant, I think she would declare the idea of guilt regarding what she did as a Borg as irrelevant. What did she have to feel guilty about? And when did she ever feel the need to atone? This just seemed to come up out of the blue.

All told, a muddled episode. It wasn't bad per se, but not one I really cared for.
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Grumpy
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Captain's Holiday

To answer your question right away, romemmy: yes, someone else thought so.

sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/t167.php

Of course, does anyone else think it would be pretty irresponsible to bring a child to Risa?
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phaedon
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Defector

The opening with Data's performance of Shakespeare.. only to be revisited in Picard's showdown with Tomalak, where Picard, with a smirk, quotes Henry V, "If the cause is just and honorable, [my crew is] prepared to give their lives." This was lost on me as a child. This episode could've just as well been called "King's Company."

Stunning episode all around. Powerful, small performances especially by Troi and Data. That shot of Troi trying to figure out if the defector is telling the truth or not. Data being asked to record this moment for history. Just incredible!
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William B
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

I think it's worth pausing at this moment to sum up season seven before the Final Arc. I'll summarize my ratings at the end of the season, but so far the season has an average (from me) of about 2.4, which is lower than any season average (from me) save s1 and s3. However, this jumps up considerably (to around 2.75) if we eliminate the four Ezri-heaviest episodes (Afterimage, Prodigal Daughter, The Emperor's New Cloak and Field of Fire). To be fair here, I don't think Ezri herself is a disaster as many people do, and TENC is the worst of those and the one that features her the least and there features an AU version. And I suppose with a bit of distance I think I'd rate Afterimage as a 2.5 (average rather than mediocre). After the opening two-parter, which I thought was okay, I think that the season has mostly been spinning its wheels on much of the main cast, which is somewhat understandable. With a few exceptions, the characters are mostly already where they need to be for the final arc by the end of Shadows and Symbols, which means that there are not many *necessary* character pieces to do, and that further it is hard to do any significant development for the characters which won't actually in some ways make it harder to do the concluding stories. I assume that many of the *outlines* of where the characters end up, though probably not the details (especially since the details by and large got sloppier the closer the final arc came to wrapping up) were decided early in the season and that no one really wanted to mess with the characters too much early in the season as a result, which is a common problem in serialized shows which are ending. I don't want to overstate this, since many of the character arc resolutions hardly required all that much shuffling around of the characters. Most of the cast were in stasis. Now despite its serialization, DS9 did not actually change characters *all that much*, but I think the thing is that there even relatively few one-offs where something *very important* happened to one of the opening credits cast besides Ezri.

The number one exception is Odo, who I think actually was still in development in these episodes. Granted for the moment that the only major Odo stories are Treachery, Faith and the Great River and Chimera, 1) those are two great episodes, which no one else really has, and 2) both of them, I think, end up being relevant to Odo's story in the last few episodes. In particular, Chimera really *makes* Odo/Kira, to the point where I don't think the relationship would have that much impact in the final episodes if that episode hadn't happened. That is a big moment for Kira as well, but Chimera gets under Odo's skin more than Kira's (which is not a criticism, just an observation). I think the Odo/Weyoun stuff does not get paid off directly, but the Founders' disease and Odo's acceptance of Weyoun's worship help position Odo to recognizing that he might have an important role to play in the Dominion. It is not surprising that Odo has the good stuff here because he's the best-handled of the main cast generally. Kira, in addition to Chimera, has Covenant as well, which...sort of wraps up Kira/Dukat but which I find unsatisfying, but at least is recognizably an important story that they attempt, so I'd say that Kira is someone else the writers tried paying attention to. The other character who gets some development is Bashir. And well, Chrysalis is not very good and while it highlights some of Bashir's important qualities it does so in a way that seems to regress him (IMO). IAESL, though, does work to set up Bashir.

Of the rest of the cast, while most people got one or two stories, it's notable that they mostly involve some sort of wheel spinning. With Worf, on some level I think the only story they really knew they wanted to do with Worf for a while was to deal with the Ezri fallout, but they waited on this until Penumbra, and kept him mostly enigmatic and showed him from Ezri's perspective (see his tiny role in Field of Fire). The one Klingon story he had, after the opening two-parter, was Once More Unto the Breach, which is good but in which Worf is actually very static (it's Kor and Martok who get the development). With Quark, there is "Quark has a crush on Ezri," and there is The Emperor's New Cloak, which doesn't even try to give Quark much to do; the main use of Quark after the Quark-Worf stuff in the opening two-parter is Quark's role in The Siege of AR-558, which is a good use of the character. O'Brien actually has a fair amount of screentime, but a lot of the time is just him and Julian talking about the Alamo in very similar scenes to each other, and the closest thing to a character-centric show he gets is the comic subplot where he waits around for Nog to solve the desk problem in T,FatGR. He also becomes a murder investigator twice, both in stories told mostly from Ezri's POV. Jake obviously has basically no material. And after Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Sisko sort of fades out and becomes a distant authority figure who sometimes shows up to scold or give exposition but otherwise is absent, with the exception of The Siege of AR-558, where he once again learns a lesson about casualty reports, and Badda-Bing Badda-Bang. Since Sisko actually has little to do for much of the final arc, too, he does sort of fade out. The two most frequently and heavily featured non-regulars in the series, Garak and Dukat, each have one episode, which does have what I would say is important development but which is not executed well -- it's still okay in the case of Garak in Afterimage, but is disappointing, and I am not a fan of the Dukat material in Covenant.

So the big focus here is on supporting players, who do indeed get a lot of work: Nog has his own episode and big roles in both TFatGR and TSoAR558, Rom basically gets the triumphant moment in Take Me Out to the Holosuite and gets about equal time with Quark in TENC, Vic gets *two* episodes (one better than the other), Martok and Kor have the main emotional arcs with Worf in mostly a supporting role in OUITB, Weyoun and to a lesser degree Damar get the focus in TFatGR. Kasidy doesn't have that much to do but she is the one who has the big private emotional revelatory scenes with Ben rather than Jake in the holosuite-fun episodes. Mirror-Brunt basically gets more material as a sympathetic protagonist than any other non-Ezri MU characters in TENC. Ross and Cretak have pretty big roles in the opening two-parter and in IAESL. So that is actually cool, on the one hand, that the supporting cast gets so much attention and development. In the case of Nog, it works great. But some of this gets tiresome, particularly with Vic.

It's also worth noting that the sense of dread that hung over everything in season six, IMO *even the non-war episodes*, has sort of dissipated in season seven. While season six sometimes dropped the war stories and had poor follow-through on developments, they actually did a pretty good job of keeping the war on backburner and not having stories where the Starfleet officers seemed to have totally moved on. The big "lightweight" episodes were either related to the Dominion anyway (The Magnificient Ferengi, One Little Ship), deliberately underlined as being a release from recent tensions (You Are Cordially Invited), or involved non-Starfleet characters (TMF, Who Mounrs for Morn, His Way). Episodes like Time's Orphan or The Sound of Her Voice (like Field of Fire this year) introduced a situation which was clearly urgent enough for those characters to make it their top priority for the moment. Honour Among Thieves dubiously started with O'Brien being assigned to infiltrate the mob, but even there eventually tied things in with the Dominion (albeit, again, dubiously). This season, I dunno. The tone of Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Chrysalis, the O'Brien-Nog subplot in Treachery etc., Prodigal Daughter and Badda-Bing Badda-Bang really seem to me to make the Starfleet crew seem to have mostly forgotten that they are ostensibly in an existential conflict for their very lives. I think that the best way to look at it is that after the Chin'toka system victory in Tears of the Prophets, and after the wormhole stuff was resolved and Worf et al. blew up that shipyard or whatever in Shadows and Symbols, the Fed/Klingon/Romulan alliance were winning and the pressure mostly reduced. The need to remember that people are still dying in The Siege of AR-558 is a kick in their (Sisko's) complacency, but only a partial one -- it's as if most of the Starfleet people on the station have stopped feeling particularly worried about the war despite going out on fights we don't see pretty frequently, and it's only people like Ross and Sloan who are still focused on it. In fact, given how much TSoAR558 emphasized that it was a wake-up call/reminder, it really does strike me as something of an exception to what Sisko et al.'s experience is usually like...which means that for *representative* battle stuff, the only actual war material the season gave us was on Klingon ships (in Shadows & Symbols and Once More Unto the Breach). People are fighting on the Defiant, but it is so de-emphasized and relegated to offscreen that it makes it all seem routine and uninteresting, which is something of a shame. While I do think that the choice to have things look less bleak in season seven than in season six was deliberate, I'm also not sure if they intended people to be quite as blase as they seem to me, somehow.

Still, you know -- I do think that the first three shows are mixed but generally worthwhile (all 2.5's once I bump up Afterimage), and Treachery, Faith and the Great River, Once More Unto the Breach, The Siege of AR-558, It's Only a Paper Moon, Chimera and Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges are very good shows, with Chimera being one of the series' best. I think the Ezri shows don't really work, I seem to be immune to the "fun digressions" (TMOTTH, BBBB), Chrysalis and Covenant left me cold, and The Emperor's New Cloak was very bad indeed, and generally there are signs of wear and tear on the series, but it's still hitting quite a few good notes. Onward to the final arc....
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romemmy
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Captain's Holiday

Did anyone else think it was pretty irresponsible for Picard to throw a weapon in to the bushes where anyone, including a kid, could find it?

Surprised they would have written that in, although I guess when this episode came out, kids accidentally shooting people with unlocked guns wasn't as prominent in the news as it is today!
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Diamond Dave
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: The Shipment

I thought this was desperately dull and felt like stretching a plot line too far to fill the space. Yes, we finally get some indication that Archer is not on a killing frenzy and see that the Xindi are not all bad guys - in some ways this reminded me of a Planet of the Apes style set up but perhaps it was just the creature make-up!

But broadly I thought this overplayed its hand enormously, the action didn't really liven proceedings up and in the end I was yawning well before it was over. 1.5 stars.
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Peter G.
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

I'm sorry, but this is not a sexist episode. If anything it's meant to be feminist even though it's imperfect. Its message is clearly that women being denied captaincy is a gross injustice, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was meant to be a big middle finger to the studio. Its flaw, though, is that the message is injustice is spoken by a lunatic.

We can try to justify why Janice had to be crazy, but in the end I think it was a case of the individual story (crazy person steals Kirk's body) conflicting with the theme (denying people basic dignity can make them hate themselves as well as you). That she was resentful could be explained by her sense of justice, but the sheer lunacy hurts her message.

The audience would do to remember that it is Janice herself who claims the issue is about being a woman, and while we don't hear anyone else's perspective on the subject the message of one person on a show is not necessarily the viewpoint of the show. If she is insane with jealousy and hatred we don't have to take her word for it but can instead step back and notice that there were probably many discontented but reasonable women in the Federation who we DO NOT hear from about this, and the only reason we hear it from Janice is because she can't take it any more and loses it.

That being said the last line of the show was probably a mistake, but growing up I never made to much of that line to be honest. The takeaway I always had was just that a crazy person tries to take over the ship. That she was a woman mattered to her but it didn't seem to matter much to the story. The crew figures out it isn't Kirk not because he acts like a woman but because he acts like a madman. In short, the feminist thread never really came through, which is perhaps confusing to people who see that it should be there but all they see is a crazy woman.
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Diamond Dave
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Exile

I thought after last time's unusual full horror outing that this was going to develop into a full on psychological drama initially, what with all of the directorial tricks. But it didn't, and we actually got something (lonely alien seeks companion) that almost feels like a TOS episode. And a pretty flat one at that.

I do like the increased continuity - references to previous episodes are made without context, which at least feels like we're part of a bigger story - and the 50-sphere revelation at the end was a good moment, but the B-story never offered anything else and to me there wasn't much to the A-story either. 2 stars.
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Peter G.
Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Cloud Minders

@ Jason R.,

I believed the zenite gas plot element is a deliberate statement about class warfare, where conditions among the poor, working classes are such that not only are they relatively disadvantaged but their environment contains controls that will tend to perpetuate their status. The cycle of poverty is well-known, where hard work makes leisure difficulty, leads to a lack of time and energy to go back to school, and where living paycheck to paycheck prevents saving up, which in turns makes it difficult to afford to invest in education.

This episode employs a sci-fi McGuffin to act as a stand-in for perpetuated poverty/slavery that is reinforced by the system. The fact of the zenite making the Troglytes stupid and aggressive is a placeholder for poverty making people resentful and unable to afford higher education. It's an apt comparison as far as I'm concerned, especially where in our culture big business is still utterly reliant on cheap labor to make its big profits, as the giant outsourcing of labor can attest to. Little has changed in this regard since the 60's and of all episodes this one retains its relevance amazingly.

In answer to the question of enslaving those who are actually 'inferior', I suspect Gene's take on this was that they only appeared to be inferior because they had been treated poorly and not given the same opportunities. Insofar as one race might *actually* be inferior to another in some mechanical sense we already know what Star Trek thinks about this: Vulcans are stronger, smarter and more advanced than humans, and yet they cooperate in harmony in the Federation. That's Gene's vision and his statement on inequality in natural gifts.

It's not a perfect episode, but I always liked it, including Spock and Droxine.
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