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- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 2:54pm (USA Central)
The High Ground
Last time out, an examination of the problems of reintegrating veterans. This time, an examination of the problems of terrorism. Last time, the oppressed were to be supported. This time, not. Last time, the leader was left to take charge when holding a gun on Picard. This time, he's gunned down when holding a gun on Picard. So what's the difference?
This purports to be a balanced and nuanced account of the motivations and drivers for terrorism, but it never makes up its mind what it wants to say. The cause is just, but the means wrong? The end justifies the means? As Finn says - "there’s a hint of moral cowardice in your dealings with nonaligned planets. You do business with a government that’s crushing us, and then you say you aren’t involved?"
To me, the episode suffers from not really taking a stand one way or the other. Everything else is competently handled enough, and for the second episode in a row we get shoot-outs and fist fights. 2.5 stars.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 1:51pm (USA Central)
Chain of Command, Part II
1. Nobody sends a seasoned ship captain on an undercover mission, because he has "experience with radiation".
2. Nobody would assign Crusher to that mission under any circumstances. She's a medical officer, in her forties, with no combat experience - in short: she's a liability
3. Riker is the best shuttle pilot. Just like Paris was in VOY. What makes anybody a good shuttle pilot? And even if there was such a thing as a particularly good shuttle pilot, without question it had to be Data.
4. With the lack of people skills, I somehow doubt Jellico would have made the captain rank. Not in the 24th century, probably not even in the 21st.
5. The last thing a new CO wants to do is change everything up and unsteady the crew.
6. The Enterprise is an explorer ship with hundreds of civilians aboard. The first thing they would do if they were going into a potential warzone is drop them off at the nearest starbase.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 1:33pm (USA Central)
One of those episodes that has pretensions of philosophical examination but mostly just ends up an action fest. The coverage of the moral obligation of society to re-integrate those it trains to kill in its name is all well and good - but heavy handed and with little real insight. The conclusion - in which Picard leaves the Angorian government to face the prospect of a military coup led by psychologically damaged ringleaders - is an exercise in some fairly morally dubious hand washing.
On the other hand the 2nd act is mostly a fairly involving chase sequence as Danar repeatedly outwits his pursuers in clever ways. With some honest to goodness old fashioned TOS-style fist-fighting too, which we can never get enough of. 2.5 stars.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:48am (USA Central)
Man of the People
I will pay it one compliment though. I thought Frakes did a top notch job, especially in the sickbay scene.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:37am (USA Central)
Man of the People
" 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons."
I'm confused here. The Dorian IS a Federation ship and Alkar requested a second Federation transport. So the Federation DEFINITELY is not sticking it's nose in anybody's business, they are already involved. Heavily.
I'd assume (although I grant, this is an assumption) that Starfleet is responsible for the safety of Federation transports. If the Admiral feels that putting Alkar on another transport will paint a bullseye on it, that's his call to make IMHO.
" 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"!"
I think comparing non interference to murder is grossly overstating your case. That said, I really did not care for this episode either.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:05am (USA Central)
You guys are forgetting something. Although Clone! Voyager's death was tragic and their last mission was a failure. Their existence wasn't pointless and the existentialism messages fails.
First they were able to save life's and to change the universe. They had missions and adventures on their own off screen. That means that they were able to help aliens and now thanks to them people lived and were changed due to them. Their influence on the universe will remain forever as their consequences of their choices.
They also had the chance to love, to laugh, to breath and to be happy. No matter how brief it was, their lives were much better than as mindless silver blood. At the end even if voyager never saw them, even if they were a footnote, they proved that what a matters is our choices to accomplish our goals,. Their brief happiness and their enhanced warp engine proved that
Ergo their lives weren't in vain.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:02am (USA Central)
Man of the People
Wow, this episode was something of a minor miracle. It's horrible, make no mistake, but still rather remarkable. They took a main cast character, put her into mortal jeopardy and yet still managed to get me more concerned over the fate of Alkar's next victim, Liva, than I was over Troi's. That either takes a lot of skill applied in exactly the wrong direction or it's a damning indictment of this episode. Pick your poison.
You know, I actually don't have anything against the character of Troi. She is, ultimately, a useless character; but, I don't think she's a bad character. So, I actually find it rather odd that so, so many Troi-centric episodes end up being so bad. When the best you can say about the character is "hey it's kind of funny because she's doing some crazy shit in this episode," that's not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? And when I can legitimately say that I care more about a character who doesn't even appear until half-way through the episode and even then doesn't play a major role until the final act than I do about Troi, what else can I say about how woefully mis-utilized Troi is as a character?
Then there's the other problems. 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons. 2.) So, Alkar just up and admits to his nefarious designs rather easily, doesn't he? Are we honestly supposed to believe that he is so egotistical that he thinks that Picard - or, well, ANYBODY - is going to agree with his "the ends justify the means" bullshit? Apparently we are because when confronted by Picard with the most flimsy of evidence, Alkar just up and confesses whole hog. WTF?! 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"! 4.) The scenes with the young ensigns (the one who Troi beds and Ensign Janeway, 'no relation'). Sorry, Jammer (again, to each their own) but I didn't find those scenes amusing at all. Good grief, talk about objectification with the male ensign. The story literally treats him as nothing but a piece of meat. We don't even get a name for him (first or last). He isn't even referred to by rank - we only know he's an ensign because he wears ensign's pips. And the scene with Janeway.... Well, I suppose it works to show that Troi is turning unreasonable, but Janeway seems to have legitimate concerns. They might be small concerns but that doesn't make them petty.
Seriously, the only good thing I can even think of in "Man of the People" is the fact that I did, in fact, care about the Liva character. But even that plays a huge role in the hugest problem of the episode. This one was bad.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 9:14am (USA Central)
Realm of Fear
"Realm of Fear" - a lackluster character story with a rather lackluster plot. Another average episode, but this time there are things that I actually can point to that I dislike.
What was the point of this episode? To do a science fiction version of the fear of airplane travel? If that's all it was then I'd probably just say it's average and more on, giving a third episode in a row a 5 score. But I don't think that was the main intention. I think the main goal was to make Barclay look like an idiot. So, he starts seeing his arm glow blue after something funky happens during transport and what is his response? To go to Sickbay, like a rational person? NO. It's to convince himself, with the help of the computer, that he's just hallucinating due to a rare psychological condition. Brilliant! Then, what's his response when he thinks he has a mental problem? To go to Troi for help, again like a rational person would? NO. He decides to just ignore the problem, hope it goes away and actively resist help from Troi when it's offered. Fucking brilliant! Look, I get that Barclay is supposed to be a little neurotic and generally phobic (that's why I like him), but this is just ridiculous. Dude, if your arm is freaking glowing, go see a damn doctor!
Then there's the fact that the resolution almost comes out of left field. There is so little energy and urgency to this plot that I almost forgot about the four missing crew members who turn out to be the entities in the transporter stream. The fact that four missing people are deliberately mentioned early in the episode didn't help either. There's one reference to them and then we're off to spend the rest of the episode on Barclay's stupidity. When Barclay re-materialized with one of them in tow, it took me a while to remember that they were name-dropped earlier. And, Barclay sure seemed to come to the conclusion that the worm-things are really people rather suddenly, didn't he (not to mention that it's never explained why they look like that instead of like people).
But, I am going to be generous to "Realm of Fear" for one scene - the scene of Picard talking to an admiral in the Ready Room. It's a rather unnecessary scene for this anemic story, but I like the fact that it name drops the Cardassians as antagonists for the Federation and Ferengi. DS9 would premier a little less than half-way through this season of TNG and it's nice to see them doing what they can, even in this small way, to set up the Cardassian threat for that show. It's a nice little bit of world-building to throw into the mix. It's so small that it would probably go by unnoticed at the time, but looking back you can see how your subconscious was subtly being prepared for something else. Nicely done!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 7:58am (USA Central)
@John - "his eyes were blinded by race so he couldn't stay objective like he always had been"
In what way? I actually thought his point that the Klingons taking legal action over a COUNTERATTACK was ridiculous and only happening because of racism was quite spot on.
A Klingon that picks up a weapon without expecting to die is a filthy petaq and a coward. Today is a good day to die is what is said whenever they go into battle.
Between this and the trial for Worf in S4 I was getting really sick of the Klingons legal quibbling. Although having seen the series as a whole now I think that it's all part of where the Klingon storyline was ultimately going.
This episode did have problems, and Odo was way too enamored with Laas (who really didn't do that much for me). But I think Odo was correct as to where the justice was.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 5:16am (USA Central)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Underrated. Not a masterpiece, but not a flop.
In both its successes and its failures, TMP is the most "Star Trek" of the TOS films.
As in TOS, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy work perfectly, alone and together. I love the way Kirk gazes lovingly at the Enterprise upon reuniting with it -- I even love when Shatner goes completely over-the-top and actually tears up. I love how Kirk thoughtlessly removes the Enterprise captain from duty because the Enterprise is his ship, damnit. I love the decision to turn McCoy into a hippie pacifist. I love that Spock is cold and distant when he returns. I especially love that while Kirk knows something is wrong, McCoy chalks it up to Spock being a Vulcan.
As in TOS, the characters are tragically under-explored. Kirk's conflict with Deckard just kind of evaporates, and McCoy never really gets a moment to shine. Spock's arc actually has a proper beginning and end, but no real middle -- he has a problem, and he overcomes it, but we don't really get to see him work through it.
Also as in TOS, most of the main cast -- Uhura, Checkov, Scotty, Sulu -- are completely sidelined and do nothing of note.
As in TOS, the plot is haphazard and stretched thin. The long sequence of the Enterprise going too fast serves no purpose other than to pad the running time. It almost pays off in the Kirk-Deckard conflict, which could have been really interesting, but it takes too long and that subplot ends up being pointless.
As in TOS, we have an obvious mystery plot with a twist ending. But TMP does something that TOS did rarely, if ever: the twist is genuinely surprising and at least somewhat effective. TOS had a lot of twist endings, but its best episodes are almost invariably much simpler stories. TMP's twist is kind of hokey -- as in TOS -- but it's also genuinely interesting.
As in TOS, the guest stars stick out awkwardly against the perfect chemistry of the main trio.
As in TOS, we see a character get a tiny bit of development, only to be callously killed off. Also as in TOS, the reaction to the death is horribly understated. When Ilea dies, Deckard -- who we're supposed to think loves her -- just makes a quip at Kirk, and that's the end of that.
As in TOS, the gender politics are clumsy and awkward at best. Practically the first thing Ilea says when she walks onto the bridge is, "My oath of chastity is on record." Um, ok. What?
As in TOS, the film wants to be great sci-fi, with lofty ideas about the future, the development of the human race, our relationship with technology, and the possibility of other intelligences.
As in TOS, it doesn't quite reach its aspirations. TMP wants so badly to be 2001 you almost feel bad for it. I don't mind the slow pace. Hell, I don't even mind that the plot essentially comes to a standstill halfway in. (The film looks beautiful all the way through, and the 2001 ripoff sequence is no exception.) But the standstill overstays its welcome; and, more importantly, it essentially destroys the character interactions which had shown so much promise.
Each of TMP's three acts feels like a separate film. The first act looks like it's going to tell the story TOS always deserved. The second act is visually stunning but otherwise empty. The third act rushes to give the Deckard-Ilea relationship some kind of substance before moving on to the twist ending. Each of these acts has promise, but the second act is clearly the most unlike the other two. Instead of trying in vain to be Stanley Kubrick, the writers should have had some confidence and tried to tell their own story.
I'm willing to overlook a lot of flaws in something that *tries*. I would rather see a deeply-flawed film with high aspirations than a highly-polished film with no substance. This isn't pretension -- insubstantial films simply bore me. As with TOS, TMP had high aspirations -- but it came closer than nearly all of TOS to achieving them. Unfortunately, TMP would be the last time Star Trek had such aspirations.
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:23am (USA Central)
Thanks for the review Jammer, as always. I had a question that I would really like an answer to, though. What becomes of the pillar/artifact they discover and take back to the station. It supposedly had clues to Odo's people/origins. Did they ever follow up on this? I thought a stone artifact that could have clues to Odo's origins was a pretty neat idea..Can anyone tell me if it was ever followed up on? Thanks!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:12am (USA Central)
@ William B - "Now, because the personal development with Kira leads to her boning with Ghemour...."
Boning? I think there's a missing letter there, or are you implying that Kira and Ghemour had a much different relationship. LOL!
- Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 3:03am (USA Central)
Time's Arrow, Part II
"Part two of "Time's Arrow" is a competent but unremarkable conclusion to the competent but unremarkable part one. If part one felt anemic as cliffhangers go, then at least part two didn't have a high bar to clear to live up to its predecessor. And that's pretty much what it does: lives up to part one without for a minute transcending it."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
This episode is exactly like "Time's Arrow, Part I" - average, average, average. Just about everything I said about Part I could easily be repeated here for Part II. What else really needs to be said?
Well, I'll point out that SFDebris adequately summed up the problems with the villains in his review a while back - we don't even find out their motivations! A lot of people have pointed out how the Twain character gets a little jarring (for me it's the use of him to deliver a rather ridiculous caricature of the 19th/20th centuries as opposed to the "enlightened" - read, leftist - 24th). What really stands out for me, however, is the Picard/Guinan story. This is it?! This is what makes their relationship "beyond friends, beyond family"?! He looked after her once for a few hours while she was mildly injured? Damn, talk about disappointing. This story needed more than that to justify all the mystery this relationship has teased us with for so long. What we get isn't bad, but it really needed to be developed more. I'm just going to assume that their second "first meeting" in the 24th century was something amazing.
Other than that.... yeah....
And since, apparently, we're doing lists in these comments for some reason, here's a few of mine. The TOS episode ones are the only ones set in stone for me since TOS is the only series I've completed in this re-watch. We'll have to wait and see if the rest hold up.
1.) The Wrath of Khan
2.) The Undiscovered Country
3.) The Voyage Home
4.) First Contact
5.) The Search for Spock
7.) The Motion Picture
10.) The Final Frontier
11.) Star Trek into Darkness
12.) Star Trek (2009)
1.) Journey to Babel
2.) The Trouble with Tribbles
3.) Mirror, Mirror
4.) The Conscience of the King
5.) Amok Time
6.) Balance of Terror
7.) The Enterprise Incident
8.) Space Seed
9.) The Doomsday Machine
10.) Bread and Circuses
71.) Assignment: Earth
72.) The Enemy Within
73.) The Omega Glory
74.) The Way to Eden
75.) Spock's Brain
76.) The Apple
77.) And the Children Shall Lead
78.) The Alternative Factor
79.) Mudd's Women
80.) The Mark of Gideon
I don't know what my favorites and least favorites will be for TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT until I'm done with the re-watch. But, I can say that as of right now, my number ones are....
TNG - The Defector
DS9 - In the Pale Moonlight
VOY - Scorpion, Part I
ENT - United
TOS - McCoy
TNG - Data
DS9 - either O'Brien, Kira or Ezri (I can't decide.)
VOY - either The Doctor or Seven of Nine
ENT - either Archer or T'Pol
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 11:48pm (USA Central)
This episode is just ok. For someone who has lived a couple hundred years, Laas sure didn't learn his manners. His arguments also don't make much sense on a station filled with a dozen different races where every one gets along. I think this episode doesn't really do Odo's character justice. He values justice so much more than everyone else, and yet his eyes were blinded by race so he couldn't stay objective like he always had been.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 11:06pm (USA Central)
This was no ratings ploy, as some here have suggested. Sure, every producer wants to put something really strong out there during ratings season, but I was impressed over how wonderfully restrained this episode was. It was a great character study on Barclay, and a fun story to watch unfold... The season was really humming along at this point, as this along with other episodes proved that when the stars align, great writing, acting, and directing all come together to put together an awesome story... Totally agree, 4 stars all the way!
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 8:19pm (USA Central)
I think Elliott's idea about same-sex crew members hooking up would've been neat and could've had some interesting conversations between say Reed and Trip.
REED: So apparently I hooked up with Rivers.
TRIP: Rivers? Really? Huh.
REED: Yeah. what's wrong with Rivers?
TRIP: Nothing, no I just thought maybe you'd be more attracted to someone like Kelby.
REED: Well Rivers is handsome in an unconventional way.
TRIP: You know who would've really made a good match for you? Major Hayes.
(My dialogue is garbage)
I did like the design of the old-Enterprise and thought Lorian was great.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 5:40pm (USA Central)
This was just what I needed: a fun, light, well-acted episode with surprisingly smart and hilarious details. Nothing too serious or heavy-handed. After watching some earlier TNG I was relieved there was no stiffness and bad acting to be found here.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 4:02pm (USA Central)
For all of you getting creeped out by being in love with a worm, have you seen what a brain looks like ?
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 2:57pm (USA Central)
Excellent episode. We finally have a story where the stakes mean something, and by layering the tension we build to a conclusion that's every bit as satisfying as the rest of the episode demands.
We are kept twisting as to the veracity of Setal/Jarok's claims, and due to some excellent guest acting we can identify with the titular defector when he's revealed to simply have been a pawn in a larger game. For someone to have given up everything for an honourable cause, only to have even that snatched away, leads to the inevitable, and affecting, conclusion.
With some memorable Shakespearean allegory thrown in, this is a worthy 3.5 stars.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 1:49pm (USA Central)
The Vengeance Factor
One of those episodes that turns out to be desperately uninvolving, if not actively bad. The Enterprise crew seem to have nothing to do except bang heads together when necessary, and after having dealt with one uninteresting negotiation scene we then get to do it all again with another.
Riker cracks on to Yuta instantly, and in front of the Sovereign too, but the relationship has to move fast because it's the only bit of the episode that really has a pay off - as he guns her down at the end.
So this has a couple of nice moments but overall - 1.5 stars.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 9:26am (USA Central)
@Roman - I think you underestimate the trust Picard has for Guinan. Guinan's "hunches" are always spot-on, which I've always assumed, for lack of a better explanation, is because of the species she comes from.
I honestly don't think Picard would have gone through with the Enterprise-C going back in time if it hadn't been for Guinan saying it was absolutely necessary. This nagged at him, and changed his perception enough that instead of sending the Enterprise-C into battle (which it was clear they WERE going to do, whether or not the ship would have been "hopeless" in such a battle), he actually took time to think about his decision at many levels, and then finally decided that if there was a chance that the Enterprise-C could "fix" the timeline, it should be sent back.
As someone on the thread said before, the temporal prime directive would apply here, even if the concept itself didn't really exist at this point in Trek. Because Picard had an idea that he was FIXING the timeline rather than deliberately changing it, he was willing to do it. And the idea of fixing the timeline came directly from Guinan. Logic, in this instance, could have gone either way. It was Guinan's certainty that made Picard decide to do what he did.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 9:13am (USA Central)
I'm sorry, but the Mariachi band was completely hilarious. It was such a Q thing to do - stupid and genuine all at the same time, and completely embarrassing for the bridge crew. I actually laughed out loud when that happened. Plus, you know, the cigars, and the beautiful women. It was funny, dammit.
I definitely think this episode deserves the full 4 stars. I can't think of a part I didn't like or appreciate in some way. And there is a lot of depth here, which is what I enjoy most in a Trek episode.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 8:41am (USA Central)
William B, Thank you for sharing you personal experience. I will be brief, as I truly understand what you went through when your parents divorced. I had a similar experience after my divorce. I said nothing to my son until he was a about 5 and he asked me where was his daddy. I told him that he lived across town and I didn't know why he didn't come to see him but he could come anytime he wanted to see him. I gave him all the love I had, I even attempted to watch football and baseball with him. (I never liked sports) I refused to unload all of our garbage on my son. I remarried when he was 6 to a wonderful man that doesn't care for Star Trek at all. My second husband came in like a straight arrow,he told my son that he would be his dad and he would never have to look for him because he would always be there; He has kept his word. Ex- husband took us to court to re-gain his parenting rights, when my son was 15. My ex was rejected by my son because he started accusing me of keeping them apart. I took this approach because I wasn't going to be the villain, I let him learn about his dad on his own.
@Elliot I like your "Acts" I agreed with most of it especially about Dukat sitting at his desk in his uniform at any hour day or night. Also when you asked "aren't there any lawyers in the Federation" I think they could have gotten that Admiral from TNG "Drumhead" to arbitrate and it really would have been a fiasco.
@William B, I agree they should have had Sisko give a more detailed explanation of his decision to give rugal back to his father, but I don't think Rugal is capable to making this decision because he doesn't have all the pieces to the puzzle, when he goes home with the butcher he will find that all Cardassians are not the same.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 5:29am (USA Central)
What annoys me is that after something happened Tuvok rushes to Engineering and asks for back-up by Security. Later we see him entering Engeineering together with ONE (1!) security crewmember and he contacts the captain that the female caretaker is aboard. A few scenes later Janeway sees the female caretaker in Engineering and when she looks up she sees Tuvok and Belanna floating in the air: the female caretaker has done this. Where is the security crewmember that accompanied Tuvok? What did the female caretaker do with him? He just disappeared? Strange.
- Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 3:12am (USA Central)
Such a deep episode. As an audience, we KNOW this "traitor". We've seen her jump on the bed as a child! Many (myself included) agree with her choice to join the Maquis. While many (myself included) also respect the hell out of the Federation and what it stands for.
It's a tough call for Ro. But what is not a tough call is rating this episode four out of four stars. I am currently binge watching "Next Generation" in chronological order and as a first time viewer. This one hit me like a tidal wave in comparison to other great episodes of this amazing series.
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