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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

While I like this episode I never understood why Dr Crusher was so against the procedure. Didn't Riker tell her Worf was going to commit suicide if he couldn't walk?
3.5 stars.
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Peter G.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

@ William B,

I think you are near to the point when you say that the Bajorans are portrayed as having a fundamental need to worship, but I'll dissect that idea a little and try to tie it into Covenant. One thing the series repeatedly urges us to accept is that there are strong benefits to having faith in something greater; we get this from Kira, from Sisko (about the Federation and later the prophets), from Julian (about saving lives), of course from Worf, and even from Garak about patriotism. None, of them, however, mentions anything about worship, and even Kira tends to avoid stressing how important worship is to her, and rather stresses how faith gets her through the day.

This distinction between worship and faith is a big part of what Covenant seems to be about. Faith can be a good thing - even necessary - but not when it involves also submitting and even worshipping. It would be foolhardly for any Bajoran to not have *faith* in the prophets. They clearly exist and clearly have impressive powers. That is why the common objection that Bajor only has one religion is silly; what idiot wouldn't believe in beings that actually send magical orbs and do various things? But to choose to worship those beings is another matter, and that, I think, doesn't necessarily say something about Bajorans as a species, but more about how their culture stagnated for a long time. Dukat was right when he said they were a complacent people and that the Occupation stirred the pot and may have helped them, horrible as that is to contemplate. The one thing characters like Mirror Bareil and Odo show us is that some kind of faith in something in necessary, but that it doesn't have to be in some god. For Sisko and Picard it's faith in the ideals of the Federation, and as I mentioned in another post that faith can be just as fanatical as a Bajoran's faith. Surely it would have to take a great leap of faith and act of will to allow one's entire crew to die rather than to violate the Prime Directive, which is exactly what the directive requires of each captain. And that's pure Roddenberry, no dark tint required.

I think Star Trek, and secular humanism in general, is *all about* faith, and it took a show like DS9 to really get into how difficult that can be to find and maintain when things are going badly. In TOS there are a few episodes (like Patterns of Force) involving captains who didn't adhere to this philosophy, and the result every time was disastrous. That show clearly believed in the ideal both as a philosophical premise but also as a practical safeguard against tyranny and oppression. Belief in the Federation ideal is the most faith-based position in the Alpha Quadrant. Look at any other race and you could just imagine them sneering at how stupid the Federation is to give up obvious strategic potential in favor of their precious ideals. Look at how feared the Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar were. Was Federation security feared by anyone? Every major power, up to and even including the Ferengi, can't understand why the Federation plays by weird rules. They frankly can't even believe it and most of them probably think it's a trick. I think a Romulan even said this at one point. To believe in Federation ideals requires great faith because the allure of abandoning them to make strategic gains is very strong. Operating on pure realpolitik basically yields the Cardassians.

I see the Bajoran people as being the missing element from TNG: the heart behind faith in the Federation. Picard maybe had some of that, but mostly he argued intellectually about Federation ideals. I think it takes a spirited, optimistic people to make the Federation what it is, and a lot of what we see on Star Trek is business-like problems being solves which could have been solved by anyone else and the result remaining the same. The problem is the Bajoran's faith has them all wrapped up in worship at the moment and they're stuck in a rut, but as a people I think their spirited desire to believe in something great is exactly in the spirit of what the Federation is about. The question is about finding something solid for that spirit to latch on to.

Incidentally, Covenant isn't my favorite episode as a matter of entertainment, and I agree with Robert (I think) that it loses some enjoyment on repeat viewings. However as a part of Trek canon I think it's very good.
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William B
Fri, May 6, 2016, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

Good point of Robert's about the Edo God. I think this discussion also reminds me a little of the Sigma Iotians in "A Piece of the Action" -- at the end of that episode (...spoiler, I guess?) Kirk uses his gangster cred to force the SI'ans into agreeing to an alternate system which will hopefully correct the previous damage and allow the SI'ans to make their own way. Sisko letting the Bajorans idolize Li Nalas because he is dead, or worship him because he won't go Akorem on them, seems to be a way of using the "primitive" people's beliefs to guide them to a place of independence similar to the way Kirk does there. But it plays differently when it's a whole series.
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William B
Fri, May 6, 2016, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

@Peter G., I think we are on the same page about the Bajorans, the Prophets, the Paghwraiths, and Sisko versus Akorem. I think the major difference, at the moment, is how successful the show was at presenting these issues. I am willing to be swayed on this point.

I agree that it is a bad sign that the Bajorans so badly want someone to worship, and that this is part of what we see with Nalas, Akorem, and here Dukat. Winn's problem is actually not entirely that she is powerhungry herself, though it is, but that she has a strong need to be *near*, but not at, the top of an authoritarian regime; while I think that you are right that Dukat would eventually want to overthrow the Paghwraiths, as I see it Winn very much loves being at the top of a power structure dedicated to serving a higher power. Her problem with the Prophets is both that they are non-interventionist and, indeed, are personally indifferent to her, and some of that covers some of Winn's traits that are not so terrible -- I think Winn is not incorrect in that *if she should worship and devote her life to some beings, it should be more than a one-way relationship*. However, she, like most Bajorans we see who convert to the Paghwraiths, does not take the step of freeing herself of the concept of submitting to a higher authority, but just switches authorities to one that suits her and her worldview better.

On that level, the Bajoran desire to be seduced by Dukat, which ends up being quite literal and eventually includes Kira's mother and Winn, is, I agree, a major flaw, and Sisko's primary role is just to be around long enough to prevent that from happening. One could imagine a figure like Ross, mostly wanting what's best for the Bajorans, still eventually falling into the trap of treating them as vassals for convenience, as you point out nearly happens in the opening to season seven, and would have more or less happened if Kira had not been so openly rebellious. Had Ross been the Emissary and had he been willing to use that excessive/false moral authority, the episode would have played differently, but Kira had enough strength of will to demonstrate that she intended on being an equal partner in this (secular) alliance.

The false argument is that we still only really see Bajorans who decide whether to submit to the Prophets or the Paghwraiths, or Sisko or Akorem (or Dukat). I think there are indications that Kira is getting out of this by the end of the series, and the fact that Kira is able to separate Sisko the Emissary and Sisko her CO, and that she can and will defy the latter but would implicitly do whatever the former said if he actually chose to wield that power, is also a good sign. I do sort of wish that, even if the show did not need to have an outright rejection of the Bajoran religion, there were a Bajoran who rejected the Prophets without then going over to the dark side. Various episodes do seem to suggest that Bajorans have a fundamental need to worship an that they are incapable of living ethical lives without it, such as Mirror Bareil in "Resurrection" or that "he was a violent man but he found the Prophets" member of her Resistance Cell who was the first one killed in "The Darkness and the Light." And to some extent the show still seems to me to have Sisko tacitly or sometimes openly encouraging it -- by accepting their worship of him rather than continuing to denounce it, or by agreeing to promote the lie that Li Nalas was a mythic figure -- with the recognition that this is the only way to prevent the Bajorans from destroying themselves. And that is an interesting story but 1) are there no Bajoran exceptions to this? and 2) if this is something of the result of their experience under the Occupation, how much can we/should we hope they will "get over" this phase, wherein someone must continue filling their belief vacuum to keep them from embracing another dictator. There is a parallel with Odo accepting Weyoun 6's worship at the end of "Treachery, Faith and the Great River," where Odo is well aware that he is imperfect (his belief that he has an intrinsic sense of justice having mostly been abandoned by this point) but he also knows that Weyoun-6 is programmed for belief and so he might as well let him die happily (with his blessing).

As I said, I think that the series closes with optimism in general, though there is no indication that Kira has changed her mind about her faith in particular. Which, again, she doesn't "need to," for this story to be interesting, but it still feels like there is *almost* an arc that would be satisfying to me, here.
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Peter G.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

@ William B,

As I see it there are two separate issues at play that Covenant addresses:

1) Is there a substantial difference between the prophets and the paghwraiths?

2) Are the Bajorans correct to worship one versus the other?

My answer to these based on what the series presents is as follows:

1) They are different, and this difference lies primarily in the policy of non-interference I mentioned above. It's a massive difference - core the entire ideal of the Federation, as an example - since it enables a people to grow freely as they see fit. There are apparently exceptions to this in extreme circumstances, and indeed even honorable Starfleet captains ignore the Prime Directive in certain extraordinary circumstances without serious reprimand. Sisko is the perfect fit for the prophets in this sense, because as a Starfleet officer he has a policy of non-interference with Bajor, and only intervenes in their internal affairs under extraordinary circumstances; for instance, to avert their destruction by telling them not to join the Federation. This is exactly why Akorem was NOT what the Emissary is supposed to be like. He used his influence with the Bajorans to shape them into what he thought they should be like, rather than merely as a tool of necessity to protect them. He would essentially have been their ruler, unlike Sisko, who is their protector. This leads us directly to #2:

2) Whether we, as viewers, think the Bajorans should worship the prophets is beside the point, since it's not something the prophets ever seem to have demanded. When presented with god-like beings it's natural for a primitive people to worship them, but that doesn't mean the prophets sought worshippers. But I get the feeling that the paghwraiths do. And not just worshippers, but more likely slaves (or worse). The dilemma presented to Kira, as I see it, isn't whether she's right to worship the prophets, but whether she's right that the prophets are "good" and the wraiths aren't. In that I have to side with her. In fact I would personally decline to call the prophets 'good', but would rather call them benign, as you suggested. 'Good' actually implies motivation to interfere just as 'bad' does, whereas benign allows the possibility of not interfering much at all. In any case, the fact that Kira was brought up as a fanatic speaks to the way in which she personally would choose to deal with thinking of the prophets as being the 'true gods', but she can be correct about their goodness without also implying it "is" correct to worship them.

I would even go further than this, and suggest that the biggest problem Bajor has is its need to worship gods. They would have made one of Sisko if he had let them, and this is the great peril that the Federation was designed to prevent. Faith in the prophets as being both real and helping Bajor is one thing, but treating them like gods puts the Bajorans squarely in the same boat as the Vorta who worship the Founders as gods even thought they know on a mechanical level they are not deities. Akorem seems to me not to have only been a test for Sisko's faith in himself as Emissary, but also a test for Bajor to see how they would handle a more benevolent type of Occupation - the very kind Dukat apparently wanted to give them! And they welcomed it with open arms and made Akorem their leader immediately, just as they likely would have done with Li Nalas back in Season 2 (and he wasn't even an Emissary, just a hero). The point here seems to be that the Bajorans are not ready to take care of themselves yet because they are almost desperate to find someone to rule them rather than to stand up and manage themselves. From a Roddenberry/Star Trek perspective the Bajorans are still too close to those TOS people who worship obelisks to be ready to join the Federation. The terrible danger of a people who want to be led is precisely someone like Dukat, who can appear to be a very caring and enlightened leader when he wants to be. The moral is not to surrender one's will to leaders, which is perhaps a Democratic moral but in any case speaks to the Star Trek philosophy of secular humanism and each person taking up the torch of learning and independent thought rather than comfortably searching for a leader to do the thinking for you.

The way I parse this episode is that Dukat is secretly what the Bajorans are yearning for; specifically, a charismatic spiritual leader who will tell them what to do. And this is a serious problem, which, as you say, is helped by Sisko being removed from the picture so they can learn to get by without him. The prophets already seem to do as little as possible to encourage this worship of them, but it will take the Bajorans however long it takes them to get past their 'Waiting for Godot' stage. Kira's dilemma seems not to be whom to worship, but rather what one should do with one's faith. Should one use it to surrender one's mind, or to open it? To me this is a quintessential Star Trek episode.
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Robert
Fri, May 6, 2016, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

It's worth wondering if there's something of the Edo in all this too... if one of the writers was fascinated by some such idea. I always thought that was such a stupid episode but it had a lot of interesting concepts. I'd have loved to see that episode redone by say... the S4/S5 writing team.
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Robert
Fri, May 6, 2016, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

THAT at least is explainable. I don't think she hates Cardassians that much, but this is like being friends with a bunch of Holocaust survivors and then needing to be treated by Mengele. Or at least it would be if it weren't a hologram. Right now she's just refusing to let the Starship Voyager treat her :P
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William B
Fri, May 6, 2016, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

Of course, it may be that what I am looking for the show to do is not necessary; it may be that what I don't get is because there is nothing to get. The Prophets are aliens and the Bajorans worship them, and that is the whole story -- perhaps whether the Bajorans are "right" to is not a relevant question to ask of the show to address. Some of this is about fan reactions to the show, maybe -- I feel a lot of discussions about the Bajoran religion in the show and especially in the fandom come down to questions of whether religion or faith are appropriate, whereas I think the question "should you worship observable alien beings whose existence is not in question, but whose power is limited and whose trustworthiness is unknown?" is actually quite different from questions that come up with most modern human religions, IMO.
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Cardassians

Only 15 million Bajorans died during the Occupation? The way the Bajorans always talk about how The Cardassians used them as slave labor,engineered famines,Stole resources,Destroyed entire regions in retaliation for Resistance attacks for 50 YEARS! I expected the casualties to be well over 150 million.
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William B
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

TL;DR version of my previous comment: this is one of the only episodes I can think of where someone puts Kira in a position to seriously shake her faith, but here as in other episodes, it is easy to put forward the proposition that others are worshiping the wrong gods. This is similar to Accession where the bottom line appears to be that it is wrong to do whatever Akorem says because he is the *wrong* Emissary. The Prophets and Sisko exist, but are they worthy of worship? is the question that the show remains frustratingly vague on to me. But maybe the main point is that as long as they aren't hurting anyone, they can worship whoever they like, and the Prophets and Sisko mostly stay out of things enough that the Bajorans' worship does not seem to impede them as much as, say, dying in suicide cults or giving up their jobs to make bad bird sculptures do. (Note: Akorem isn't evil like the Paghwraiths apparently are, it's just a similar "worshiping the wrong guy!" moment.)

I have trouble because I want to try to phrase it in a way that does not make me sound contemptuous of (real life) religion. The reason I find the Bajorans' worship of the Prophets stupid is because they are beings who, from what we can see, seem to be "just aliens," who in early episodes did not even seem to care about Bajorans at all, and eventually just became something of benevolent figures who don't interfere. Whether they love Bajorans unconditionally as Bareil claims seems to be unanswerable because we don't even know if they know what love is. They seem somewhat disinterested in Bajoran affairs, while eventually Of Bajor. Bajorans mostly seem to read the Prophets as something like an Abrahamic God (though of course they would not term it like that), which seems to be an inaccurate appraisal of who the Prophets are. Their worship seems to be based on false assumptions. And if it is helpful for Bajorans, well, good, but why worship observable beings? Do they even *know* that the Wormhole Aliens *are* the Prophets, or are The Prophets not aliens who live in the wormhole in their solar system but ideals akin to Abrahamic God?

If the Bajorans' worship of the Prophets is simply a quirk that we in the audience can accept from an IDIC perspective, that's one thing; if it is actually wrong, not morally, but categorically (i.e. it is a category error for Bajorans to see the Prophets as gods rather than very powerful aliens with some knowledge they don't have), but it is not hurting anyone and so we in the audience can learn to overcome the Bajorans' biases and see the Prophets as another set of aliens, that is also fine; if the Prophets really are beings of superior moral authority who unconditionally love Bajorans and have a plan for them, well, then the burden of proof is on the show that the Prophets' plan is not awful, and then it does not seem *that much* as if they are different from the Paghwraiths, but I suppose the show could eventually make the case. As is, I don't really know what the perspective on the show is. And it's not that I think the show presents multiple perspectives but fails to choose one, but rather that I cannot exactly see what perspectives are being presented. The show seems to be emphasizing analogies between Prophets-worship and real life religions enough that I cannot quite dismiss the entire thing as an elaborate thought experiment (what if there were higher beings and they were worshiped as Gods?), and emphasizes the Prophets' alien-ness and aloofness too much for me to take the Bajoran religion seriously. I am confused by what is being depicted, I guess, and I suppose I can reluctantly admit the humility to say that I might just not be clever enough to sort it out.
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

Great Data episode. I found the Sheliak to be one of the most memorable one appearance species in all of Trek.
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

Why did the Irish stereotypes and the Clones have to merge their societies? It would have made more sense for the Clones to ask for DNA from them and maybe some nearby colonies In order to continue their society. But no Each man has three wives Each wife has to have three kids from three husbands for the next nine years.
1 Star for the Tea ceremony.
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William B
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

@Peter G., I agree on your second point, except insofar as I do tend to think that the Prophets do want to interfere on specific occasions, especially when it comes to Sisko...but I have given a lot of thought to your comment in the "Shadows and Symbols" page and am trying to parse it. As it happens, we do know that the Paghwraiths are destructive and we get regular tells that they are EVIL by Keiko and Jake feeling their evil presence. But this is pretty unsatisfying for me, because a possible explanation is simply that the Prophets are better at keeping themselves serene when they possess someone for hours (Kira) or years (Sarah). I think it's also worth noting, on point 1, that the Paghwraiths wanting to kill the Prophets can also be turned around and attributed *to* their imprisonment, acts of terrorism from a weaker party.

I think that part of the issue I have is that I cannot escape the feeling that Kira's faith that the Prophets are benevolent and take a personal interest in Bajoran affairs is a view that the writers do not seriously want to undermine. In that sense, the Bajorans do seem to be slaves, just with more benevolent masters than Dukat (or, it seems, the Paghwraiths). While Sisko is, as it turns out, part Prophet, and so it can be argued that he is not their puppet but a part of them (and he becomes one at the end), we still have increasingly explicit moves by the Wormhole Aliens to position The Sisko into place for them -- bringing forth Akorem basically explicitly in order to get Sisko to "play ball," taking over his mother for years in order to move him into position. They intervene to stop the Dominion horde but not to stop the Occupation, because they either are "of Bajor" or care bout protecting *Sisko's* life because he is one of them. I suppose it may simply be that the Prophets regard the Bajorans' worship of them neutrally (or are unaware of it).

I *will* say this, and I will put a spoiler warning here for the finale just in case anyone is reading this:

I am not satisfied with the way the Sisko/Dukat/Winn/Prophets/Paghwraiths plot ends in WYLB, but there is a read which I find compelling which I have thought about over time. Sisko and Dukat, who align themselves with the Prophets/Paghwraiths, also happen to represent competing political powers close to the Bajoran level -- Sisko the Federation, Dukat the Cardassians and later the Dominion. In the model where the Prophets do not actually want Bajoran worship but are indifferent to it, and maintain only a distant relationship with Bajor, protecting them at times from extreme threats but other times allowing them to suffer, they map onto the noninterfering but benevolent Federation, whereas the Paghwraiths apparently map onto the exploitative Cardassians and later Dominion. Dukat and Sisko become avatars for the respective philosophies and duke it out, and Winn, while initially siding with Dukat, does at the last minute act to help Sisko -- she represents something of the damaged Bajoran soul, which has nearly entirely lost its way as a result of the Occupation. What's notable though is that Sisko does not defeat Dukat and then go back to his station to continue his mission. He is a Prophet now, and despite his promises to return, we have no idea when that will be or whether it will even happen. That means that Sisko's role, essentially, was to protect Bajor from Dukat, Cardassia, the Dominion and the Paghwraiths just long enough for Bajor to be able to finally stand on its own. Kira is left in charge of the station at the end, which is part of why I like the Kira plot in the season seven premiere, which emphasizes that Kira is capable of making leadership decisions and she is ready. The link between Kira and Jake in the final shot emphasizes that Bajor is effectively a child shepherded into adulthood after a difficult loss (the Occupation/Jake's mother's death), who is now abandoned once fully an *adult* to be able to make their own choices.

So given that the Federation is *POTENTIALLY* little more than a more benevolent hegemony than the Cardassians or the Dominion, it is important that Sisko has to destroy himself in order to destroy Dukat. He is maybe not "dead," but he is no longer an active agent in Bajoran affairs, which in the grand scheme of the show works not just on the spiritual sense but on the philosophical sense that you have talked about -- the Federation avatar does step back to allow Bajor to start to rule its own destiny. In that sense, fans' disappointment that Bajor did not join the Federation does seem to be perhaps misplaced, though I agree that some dialogue on what this status would be worthwhile. Bajor doesn't "need" to join the Federation. I think it may well, years down the line, but it needs to join as an independent power rather than a broken one. And for that, Sisko, *religious icon* worshiped by the Bajorans, has to disappear, too, so that they can stop relying on him, either as their Emissary or as their Federation post-Occupation saviour. It makes sense to me that Sisko's primary role is to stop Dukat (and others like him) from destroying Bajor, and once this is done to disappear from their lives at least until he can be treated as an equal rather than a vast superior. (I somewhat wonder if this is what he means by he will be back -- despite the implication that he may be back for Kasidy and the child within their lifetime, he may simply wait until the Bajorans are at the point where they can see him as equals.) Sisko's increasing willingness to use his Emissary status is maybe a sign that he needs to be taken out of the picture for Bajorans, at this point in the series; his using his clout to get Kasidy put on leave ("I never once said the word 'Emissary'") does suggest to me that his ability to resist abusing his power is fraying, though that may just be the cynic in me.

Anyway, what gets to me is not so much whether the Prophets or the Paghwraiths are better, though I did focus on that, as that Kira advocates that *worshiping* the Prophets is good and right, but worshiping the Paghwraiths is wrong and evil, and while the latter is true, I'm not clear that the former is true. The episode having Kira's former mentor die by jumping off the cliff Dukat and the Paghwraiths pointed out for him and Kira's uncertainty about it at the end suggests that maybe it is questioning Kira's blind faith...or maybe her faith isn't a problem, or maybe it's totally irrelevant. The problem I have with the show's depiction of the Prophets comes down to the sense I have that they continuously play the Prophets as both religious deities who really actually are gods AND secular advanced aliens who are Clarkeian beings with powers
indistinguishable from magic, but it may simply be that I'm not good enough at reading the show to disentangle it.

On the last point, I agree that the message of this episode (and some of the other Dukat episodes) is squarely aimed at the fans. I think that there's a certain fannish folk wisdom that in fact the writers deliberately wrote Dukat as more and more *explicitly* "really evil deep down" to stop fans from sympathizing with him so much. The problem with this for me is partly that it reads as condescending -- because some audience members start to see Dukat as "good," the writers need to make the character increasingly unambiguously evil, rather than an evil man who had some good qualities. Now, I think Dukat was always an evil guy, deluded and narcissistic. I think that he's simply a more interesting character when he was willing to trash his career rather than kill his daughter, especially when this ended up having him ricochet back and make a deal with the Dominion to restore his career. He could not be as easily pinned down, and while, yes, some fans took Dukat's good qualities too far, I don't think they were wrong to view Dukat as a complex guy, and so the writers' need to deliberately make Dukat worse and worse in order to force them to see how wrong they were seems unnecessary. However this is something of a matter of personal preference.
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

Mixed opinion on this episode. The whole time I was thinking just LEAVE with your wives and children and settle on one of the thousands of colonies the federation owns! Why did they insist on staying on a world that's beliefs obviously conflict with their own? thats like if a federation ship crashed on a Ferengi colony and the women decided to settle down and fight for women's rights!
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

ugh This would have made a much better episode of DS9. Imagine it while exploring the Gamma quadrant a strange creature attaches itself to Kira and she is taken back to DS9 for treatment but alas! Doctor bashir can not remove it but a Cardassian doctor in a nearby system can.

Also why does B'elanna hate Cardassians so much all of a sudden? She grew up on a Federation world! but here she acts like she grew up on Bajor!
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

The only possible explanation I can come up with, for why Barclay turned into a half spider is that somewhere down the family tree one of his ancestors was some kind of Spider alien. Otherwise I really liked this episode.
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Caroline
Fri, May 6, 2016, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Rules of Acquisition

I've always hated the Ferengi but Quark has grown on me and was actually really likeable and sympathetic in this ep. Pel was good, even the Grand Nagus was ok and I liked his savvy scheming and the reveal of him really seeking info on the Dominion. All in all, the first ever Ferengi episode I've actually enjoyed.

I didn't see Pel's reveal to the Nagus as being about her broken heart, more about trying to effect change in Ferengi society and prove females are as capable of profit as males, which is consistent with what she was doing in disguise in the first place. I thought Quark did care for her and probably knew he would have fallen in love with her if they had any more time together. I thought there was some good chemistry between them,..and I never thought I'd say that about any Ferengi characters!
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Ben
Fri, May 6, 2016, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Homefront

@Shinzon
Sisko contacts another two star admiral who obviously knows about the coup. Others are probably involved, too.
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Peter G.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

@ William B,

In answer to your question about what the real difference is between the prophets and the paghwraiths, I think there are two that we know of:

1) The prophets only imprisoned the paghwraiths, whereas the wraiths want to kill the prophets. On the other hand we could argue that the prophets left the wraiths alive for use in their future plans.

2) This point is more important, which is that the prophets appear to have a policy of non-interference, while the wraiths want to interact directly with daily Bajoran life. The latter seems more appealing in a sense, especially when terrible things like the Occupation are happening and you want your gods to help, but there's a word for a people whose gods meddle in their everyday affairs: slaves. It's not like they would be interacting as equals. I see the prophets as having something in common with the Federation, where they have something like the prime directive in place and prefer to help Bajor through advice and wisdom rather than direct interference. From a Star Trek perspective I think this alone would be enough to call the prophets "good" since declining to enslave others is probably the primary difference between the Federation and all other major powers.

@ Robert,

You hit the nail on the head about Dukat being in actual communion with the paghwraiths. In the episode we see him praying to them for guidance, and the next thing we see is him telling them all to commit suicide. The Jim Jones angle is clear, but what if it was actually the wraiths telling him to do this? And what if it wasn't just to clean up his mess, but rather their preferred outcome? Assuming for the moment that the wraiths are really anti-prophets then I could see the entertainment for them in having Dukat take a bunch of gullible Bajorans and con them into slaughtering themselves. I somewhat think that sadistic pleasure may well be the paghwraith's MO. Maybe this was a test for Dukat as well, so that the wraiths could verify that he was really the kind of twisted maniac they needed as an emissary. He apparently is, because after this episode (SPOILERS) he graduates on to the real plan. Now that I think of it, I doubt most of what happens in this episode was Dukat's idea, even thought his narcissism would always convince him believe it was. No chance he would ever think of himself as a puppet; heck, I could see him down the line planning to assassinate the wraiths and take over the celestial temple himself :p

PS - I kind of find it funny that many of the posters above see this episode as ruining Dukat. They don't realize the episode is quite subversive and is directed at the fans of Dukat to an extent. For all those viewers who sympathized with him in S3-4 and don't like that he is now "just evil", I think they missed the point. Dukat takes people in, for years at a time. He plays out little fantasies that he even believes at the time he engages in them. The viewer in S3-4 was just like the cult members who believes Dukat had changed and began to believe in something. In this sense I think the episode is sympathetic to the cult members because it can be hard to disbelieve a man like Dukat who is that charming and also believes what he says as he says it. It's hard to contemplate someone that delusional and narcissistic, and in real life when faced with someone like that people can remain confused about the person for years on end. It takes a hard-headed - almost fanatical - type like Kira to refuse to play into his mind-games and to instead stick to simple truths that she won't back down from. If the viewer ended the episode upset about Dukat then this only reflects the anger the cultists felt when they realized he betrayed them. He betrayed the audience as well! That's good writing, if it was intentional.
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Robert
Fri, May 6, 2016, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: For the Uniform

@Luke - I've defended this ending before, so I'll try to again.

The move was calculated, not done in a rage. The fact that the thing he used coincidentally is non-toxic to Cardassians and that they can just switch planets with the Cardassians that Eddington attacked is supposed to hint towards this.

Sisko is enraged at Eddington, but the end is all an act. Every last bit of it. He was NEVER going to poison another planet. The idea is that he had Eddington so figured out that he knew this was all it would take.

You might find that to be crappy plotting, and I don't know that I'd totally argue with you, but this is not a guy that went off the handle and started lobbing WMDs at everything in sight.

"What if the colony didn't have enough ships to complete the evacuation? That would be hundreds, possibly thousands, of people dead and Sisko would be a genocidal maniac!"

I've never bought this. Just because trilithium makes a planet uninhabitable to humans doesn't mean they'd die in a minute or an hour. It could just be that they'd need treatment when Starfleet or whomever picked them up tomorrow. It also depends on how much resin was scattered in the atmosphere. I think he probably left wiggle room.

But more to the point....

"EDDINGTON: Wait! If you call off your attack I'll turn over all our biogenic weapons.
SISKO: Not enough.
EDDINGTON: All right, Javert. I'll give you what you want. Me. "

It wasn't JUST to get Eddington. Eddington had become enough of a threat to Federation security that he was lobbing biogenic weapons at Cardassian planets. And Sisko's ability to read Eddington got him to turn over himself and all of their bio weapons and all it cost was that the Maquis colonists had to switch planets.

Come on!!!! Is that SOOOO bad? People rage at this, but do the ends really not justify the means here? And he gets off scott free because it worked. It's hard to argue with results is really the truth. What are they going to do? He just came back with the traitor and all of the enemy's bio weapons. His IS the hero of the piece.

This really all depends on how much you read into Sisko. In the final act he's playing the bad guy for Eddington. The scenery chewing and all is Sisko acting, not Avery acting. Before that... yes he got carried away, no doubt. But remember he WAS going to follow orders and back off until Eddington used a bio weapon.

Again, not saying everything Sisko does is on the level and that the magic "outsmart Eddington" moment is perfect but it's better than Kirk outsmarting his seventh computer and it's vastly less monstrous than everybody seems to think. But don't ask me, ask the writers

"EDDINGTON: Do you realise what you've done?
SISKO: I've only just begun. I'm going to eliminate every Maquis colony in the DMZ.
EDDINGTON: You're talking about turning hundreds of thousands of people into homeless refugees. "

There was never supposed to be a threat to their lives, the script says so. He took their homes.
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Nolan
Fri, May 6, 2016, 4:31am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: A Night in Sickbay

Wow, over a decade since it aired with 60 some comments on this page and no one's pointed out that the easily offended aliens were the same ones from VoX Sola?

I guess that speaks to both how hated this episode is and how forgettable most find Vox Sola. (Though I liked it for how all the main crew contribute to solving the problem. Like an actual team, doing their jobs.) But hey, at least we got continuity! =D
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Luke
Fri, May 6, 2016, 1:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: For the Uniform

"For the Uniform" - a fairly entertaining and thought-provoking episode. It has some good cat-and-mouse games between Sisko and Eddington, mostly nice performances (aside from Avery Brooks literally consuming whole areas of the set with his scenery chewing "YOU BETRAYED YOUR UNIFORM!!!!!!!!!" insanity) and some of the wonderful grey area material often associated with the Maquis. Unfortunately, the episode is totally, fundamentally and completely destroyed by it's utter WTF! ending.

The idea of Sisko poisoning an entire planet - and threatening to poison countless more - has got to be one of "Deep Space Nine's" worst thought-out plots ever. It might be one of the worst thought-out plots in the entire franchise. So, after allowing his obsession with Eddington to literally get the better of him (to the point where he literally goes into battle with a half-functioning ship because he's so eager for his revenge), Sisko quite literally goes so far as to commit a war crime. And I don't say that lightly. I don't see any other way to describe what Sisko does here. Poisoning that planet was completely unnecessary and unforgivable. And the fact that Sisko does it simply to satisfy his own sense of vengeance against a man he feels slighted him personally makes it all the worse. The man deliberately ruined (and endangered) the lives of thousands of Maquis colonists (a.k.a. former Federation citizens). What if the colony didn't have enough ships to complete the evacuation? That would be hundreds, possibly thousands, of people dead and Sisko would be a genocidal maniac!

I'm honestly surprised that Worf and Kira let Sisko go through with this. They could have so easily (and by all senses of morality should have) said "You are way out of line Captain and I'm relieving you of duty." That would have been much better. Eddington would not have capitulated and he would still be free. At that point, Sisko would have had to realize what a royal asshole he had become and the episode would have been much stronger for it. Hell, Dax should have been absolutely furious with Sisko for stooping to such low, desperate and downright evil actions. That would have made for some good drama. But, of course, we didn't get that. Sisko is allowed to completely betray his uniform (as Eddington so righting points out) in more ways than one - openly defying Starfleet's orders taking him off the assignment, endangering his crew by using a malfunctioning ship and openly engaging in an activity that HE HIMSELF condemns as totally unacceptable when Eddington does it - and he gets off scot-free simply because he's Sisko - the hero of the show. He and Dax even laugh it off in the episode's final seconds like it's no big deal. Excuse me while I vomit!

I've heard a lot of fans say that Quark's actions in "Invasive Procedures" were reprehensible and irreparably damaged the character - when he comprised the security lockouts when the station was evacuated which led to the villains attempting to steal the Dax symbiont and bringing Jadzia close to death. No, that is nowhere near as damaging to his character as Sisko's actions here are to his. Quark, at least, didn't know what was going on - he thought the villains only wanted to smuggle something - and when he did learn the truth he went out of his way to save Jadzia and ultimately was the one who saved the day almost single-handedly. Here, Sisko knows precisely what he's doing, knows how morally contemptible it is and does it anyway. And then he gets away with it because "sometimes I like it when the bad guy wins"? Again, allow me to vomit! The only way I'm able to forgive the character is to pretend that none of this ever happened.

Then there are other less serious problems with "For the Uniform". Jammer is right that the extensive amount of technical jargon used while piloting the Defiant is total dramatic and narrative death that drags on for far, far too long. And, the criticisms of Victor Hugo's novels really rub me the wrong way personally. Hugo is one of my all-time favorite authors, so saying that he's needlessly melodramatic and not a very good writer isn't going to win the episode any points from me (but that is just my personal, subjective opinion - your mileage may vary). Also having Dax, of all characters, complain that Hugo's heroines are two-dimensional was particularly laughable. This coming from a female character who has barely been given any characterization beyond "superficial, egotistical narcissist"?

"For the Uniform" could have been a magnificent episode if they had made the ending make any fucking sense - because there is a lot of good on display. Sadly, having Sisko turn into a lunatic just torpedoes it.

HOLODECK TOYS - 17 (+1)

3/10

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robrow
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:27am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

I hate to see characters crudely bent to complete a plot. Especially one with such a neat, sententious coda. After the Hirogen leader is killed for heresy, there is no way the others would simply negotiate like that. Maybe after a 5 year war with heavy casualties on both sides, but there's no suggestion this has happened. And the Hirogen-Nazi analogy fairly explicit in that WW2 simulation tends to suggest the reverse: no compromise. Having Janeway flimsily point out this miraculous volte-face only makes it seem more ridiculous. Also there's the way the new Hirogen leader runs away from Janeway with a gun, only to turn round defiantly 1-2 minutes later. Groan. I'm just over half-way through watching the complete series for the first time, and I'm beginning to think a run of more than 2 good episodes in a row is beyond Voyager. A fair review Jammer.
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Luke
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Let He Who Is Without Sin...

It is amazing that of all five main characters, the writers picked Quark - their favorite whipping boy - of all people for the least amount of character assassination (relatively speaking).
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Luke
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:03am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

@William - interesting. I think your fifth point may be the strongest.

1.) That just goes against everything we've seen from the Founders. They've gone to enormous lengths to protect their own at all costs. They even sabotaged centuries of painstakingly crafted Dominion security all for Odo's benefit in "The Search, Part II".

2.) It doesn't seem likely that the infant could have been a part of the Bashir Changeling from the very beginning. If that's the case, how does it learn the same way Odo did under Dr. Mora? And, how was Quark able to come by it via one of his business contacts in the first place?

3.) I don't buy it. We're never given any indication that an "individual" Changeling is anything other than a unique individual. We never see one away from the Great Link that contains two or more distinct consciousnesses or personalities. Whenever one is separated from the Link it seems clear that it's every bit an individual as we would understand the term. When it merges with the Link its consciousness is subsumed into the greater whole - connecting it to the rest of the individuals in a way that is almost incomprehensible to us.

4.) The Founders are indeed assholes, but I think you're overstating the case. While they did send out one hundred of their young into rough and unexplored space, they don't seem to have any problem accepting them back. They were more than happy for Odo to return and, again, greatly sacrificed their security measures when he refused to join them. As for the Changeling in "The Adversary", he never planned to destroy the Defiant - that was Sisko's choice when he set the auto-destruct sequence. The Changeling only wanted to use the ship to spark a war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi. When he ultimately confronts Odo in Engineering, he links with him and tells Odo that they could escape together. Clearly he was planning on not harming Odo. As for the Bashir Changeling blowing up the Bajoran sun - we don't know exactly what he was intending to do. Sure he could have been planning on sacrificing himself by flying into the star or he could have been planning on shooting the bomb into the star and then warping out of the system as fast as he could to avoid the shockwave. The Defiant stops him before he could complete his plan so we'll never know exactly. As for killing Odo with the supernova - well, that all depends on whether or not the Founders actually did secretly give Odo his abilities back. I'm not sold on that either. I'll have to wait until I get to whatever episode it is when the Female Changeling implies it, because I don't remember that at all.

5.) This one does seem likely. If I could give my own take on the idea, it would go something like this.... The Bashir Changeling does manage to save the infant. While Odo and Mora are out celebrating the night away until Mora goes to bed and Odo continues with Quark, the Changeling clandestinely spirits the infant off the station somehow (I wouldn't put it past him given what the Dominion has been shown to be capable of previously). He then replaces the infant with a small sample from himself which he rigs up to look like it is the infant, only relapsed in its condition. This sample then somehow merges with Odo, unlocking his abilities again - something the Changeling hadn't planned on. At this point the Changeling faces the prospect of revealing the plan for "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light" or simply keeping quite and letting Odo be a Changeling again. That's a sacrifice I can see the Founders being willing to tolerate, much more so than the knowing death of one of their own.

The problem with all of this, however, is that it's all fan fiction. There's nothing wrong with fan fiction but it has no bearing on the episode itself. If "The Begotten", or later episodes, had given some indication or subtext that all of this was going on right under the audience's noses, it wouldn't be a problem. But, we have to come up with our own rationalizations for what happened because the writers dropped the ball. That's why I hold the retconned continuity against the episode.
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