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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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Luke
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

Hey, hey! It looks like I've been talked about a little in this thread and didn't even know it. :-)

@Skeptical - that was indeed a fantastic post. I could only wish to put it so well myself.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And I was alone then, no honor in site
I did everything I could to get me through the night
I don''t know where it started (the invasion of Cardassia?) or where it might end
I'd turn to a stranger just like a friend

'Cause I was lookin' for par'mach
In all the wrong places
Lookin' for par'mach in too many faces.

Okay, that's a painfully obvious joke, but I had to make it. :-P

What really is there to say about "Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places" other than that it's simply a joy to watch and a very worthy follow-up to "The House of Quark"? Jammer is right that the episode is remarkably light on plot and focuses almost exclusively on comedy (all of which actually works! - no clunkers) and character dynamics.

Probably the one thing I enjoyed most about the episode is how well Quark came off in it. Sure, he might be overly interested in only having sex with Grilka but there is a genuine emotional connection at play as well. But, in addition to that, this episode, probably more than any other, shows that Quark may just be the most "color-blind" character in the history of Trek. He'll pursue anybody romantically - he doesn't discriminate. He pursues female Vulcans ("The Maquis"), Klingons (duh), Trills (duh), other Ferengi ("Rules of Acquisition"), Cardassians ("Profit and Loss") and Bajorans (Kira, Leeta, and any number of Dabo Girls). I can only assume that if given the chance he would pursue a female Breen or Vorta. Combine this rather nice little character bit with the fact that this is a comedy episode featuring a Ferengi character that doesn't devolve in unfunny "slapstick" shenanigans and you have a real winner for Quark as a character. But then, when the pair Quark up with non-Ferengi characters in a comedic episode, it usually works. Pair him up with other Ferengi and it's usually a disaster.

As much as I harp on how much I dislike Dax, I have to admit that her relationship with Worf does work surprisingly well. That's probably because the writers don't just treat it as a silly romance-of-the-week and give it some of the respect it deserves. Oh, it will give us some of the most insanely horrible moments in the series (especially in an episode coming up very shortly - I assume you all know exactly which one I mean) but it is refreshingly mature for a Star Trek romance, even with the standard Hollywood nonsense of "we just started dating so let's jump straight to the sex!".

As for the B-plot with the O'Brien's and Kira, it might very well be the best part of this otherwise fantastic episode. Not only does it take the concept established in "Body Parts" of Kira living with the O'Briens and use it very effectively, but it also gives us quite possibly the most "human" story Trek has ever done. Here are two people who, completely unbeknownst to them, have developed something of an affection for each other and that makes them, understandably, very uncomfortable. "Deep Space Nine" sure seems to have a talent for using O'Brien effectively in these "human" situations. The scene of him and Bashir drunkenly singing in "Explorers" was the most "human" moment up until then and now it's been replaced. This plot-line is just thoroughly enjoyable because there are no high-stakes involved. It's just two people in an personally uncomfortable and dangerous situation and the drama solely focuses on how they deal with it. And Kira's "get out" is delivered by Visitor with such subtlety that you get the feeling that she may have actually "done the deed" under only slightly different circumstances. Very well handled.

If there is any problem it's the character of Thopok. Why does Grilka even keep this guy around? The moment he butted his way into her relationship with Quark she should have just dropped the hammer on him and kicked him to the curb. For that matter, how is he even able to have the "fight to the death" with Quark in the first place? Is Sisko really allowing this to happen on his station? Given his reaction to Worf's attempt to kill Kurn back in "Sons of Mogh", I find that highly unlikely.

HOLODECK TOYS - 16 (+2)

9/10
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Luke
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Jammer is absolutely right that "the message" of "The Ship" is rather forced. Look, I get it - losing people under your command sucks. Still, I do think it was effectively conveyed through Muniz's deterioration. He's also right that the message is pretty substantively undermined by Sisko's decisions not being the direct cause of any the five Starfleet deaths. You could argue that his and the Vorta's decisions to not trust one another lead directly to the deaths of all the Jem'Hadar and Founder, but that clearly isn't the focus in the final scene with Dax. It's painfully obvious that Sisko doesn't give a damn about those deaths, only about the deaths among his crew. In that, the episode definitely suffers.

However, "The Ship" is a superb episode in every other way. The lighting, the atmosphere, the close-quarters and especially the dissension among the heroes make this a very enjoyable outing. Having O'Brien and Worf so at odds with each other is indeed something that is almost never seen in Trek, so that was a very welcome change. And they even had Sisko call Dax on the carpet on her often overbearing attitude and personality, another plus (at least for me). Having Muniz be the one who dies in the attempt to ram home "the message" was also a nice touch. Since he has been a somewhat recurring character before now (not on the level as most of the recurring cast, but he has appeared before - most notably in "Hard Time"), having him die was more impactful for the audience. They could have just had a random nobody character die like most Trek episodes would, but they instead went with a somewhat established character. I applaud them for that. Finally, it was nice so see a little variety in the make-up of the crew this time around, with two very distinctive non-Human aliens among them.

As for the role of Kilana, the Vorta character, I have to strongly disagree with Jammer. I didn't find things like her mid-sentence pauses and stumbling demeanor off-putting at all. It seemed very much in character. That's because I think it's clear that she's using a very specific technique in her "negotiations" with Sisko - she's trying to flirt with him. She adopts a very demure attitude and mannerisms and lays on the flirtatious affectations in order to lower Sisko's defenses. She even goes so far as to show a rather generous amount of cleavage as a part of ruse. She's trying to use her feminine wiles as a negotiation tactic. On a lot of people, that probably would have worked, as she is a pretty attractive woman. It just doesn't work on Sisko. Given that all of these mannerisms completely disappear in her final confrontation with Sisko and Dax after the Founder's death - gone are the mid-sentence pauses and flirty attitude, she becomes a fairly no-nonsense straight-to-business type person - it only solidifies my belief that she was putting on an act for Sisko for most of the episode. Given that we also never see another female Vorta act this way, it only further bolstered that belief. In other words, the character really worked for me.

8/10
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Skeptical
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

Heh, yeah, I like the way you phrased that: "fake it til you make it." I think the Voyager staff accidentally turned their failure into an asset. The buildup to their relationship was well done in Season 3, but they didn't do anything with it once they got the two of them together. None of their scenes together, nor the rest of their actions, made it seem like they really were a close couple. Probably bad writing on their part. But because of Tom's simple live and let live nature and B'Elanna's insecurities, perhaps it makes sense that their relationship wasn't very intense for the first year or two. Perhaps it really did take B'Elanna that long to realize she really did love him and wanted to break her isolation. Perhaps it really did take Tom that long to realize that B'Elanna wasn't just another flight of fancy for him. Their relationship was slow to get serious because they were unsure if they wanted to be serious. Once it was clear that both of them did really care about each other in Drive, it was time to move their relationship into high gear.

I too like B'Elanna as a character, and find it frustrating that the writers basically didn't do anything with her character. It's probably why the Klingon stuff feels so pronounced; there was nothing else there! So the fact that this season so far has shown a real commitment to Torres and Paris has been a pleasant surprise.
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William B
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

I agree with commenters above about The Spy Who Came in from the Cold being the obvious inspiration for this episode's plot. In some ways, having seen the movie recently (haven't read the novel), it makes the episode's plotting problems a bit more clear to compare with the source material, and also clarifies for me what this episode is doing by comparison. In the film at least, the impression I get is that we are meant to see the spy agencies from both powers as corrupt and despicable, and while there may be "justification" for it the the tone suggests a pretty negative take on what goes on. This episode is a little less definite about whether Sloan is a rotten, bad guy or a man of conscience who eschews conventional morality in favour of desperate preservation of his people. However, I still don't think this episode is actually arguing in favour of Sloan. The episode ends with Bashir/Ross and Bashir/Sloan scenes in which Bashir remains unconvinced by their arguments, and there is a real sense of irresolution to the episode as a result. To me, this is because the Bashir/Section 31 episodes form a sort of trilogy on DS9 -- Inquisition, this one, and Extreme Measures -- wherein it is the third piece which gives something like answers. As the middle installment in the trilogy, IAESL keeps the moral positions of the characters relatively static, while leaving Bashir and Sloan poised for a sort of rematch which will end that arc up.

In fact, in terms of the overall storyarc of the show, it is easy to imagine this episode being deleted; Cretak had not been in any episodes since the season's opening two-parter, and so her absence in the final string of episodes does not particularly need explaining. Section 31's duplicity had already been established in Inquisition -- though certainly having them do something besides put Bashir through the wringer helps set them up as a genuine force to be reckoned with. We could have just taken as read that the Romulan Alliance wouldn't fall apart. Now I want to emphasize that these aren't complaints -- I just want to point out some things about this episode and the show's serialization.

So here are a few things that I think this episode does for the series and for the series' arc, which are a little more subtle than the actual content of the big-scale plotting (shifting Koval into power at Cretak's expense).

1) Apart from the very brief moment of Bashir running into Ezri in the corridor (and calling Odo on security at the end), the only station people we see Bashir interacting with who don't end up on the Balleraphon or on Romulus are Garak, who decries Bashir's idealism and recalls his own experience with the Romulans, and Sisko, who tells Bashir to go along with what Sloan wants, having since spoken with Admiral Ross. As we know, Ross was playing Bashir all episode, and as Nathan B. suggests, it is fully possible Sisko was *consciously* in on Ross' plan (if not necessarily in specifics); at the very least he was unconsciously involved. I think it's appropriate that those are the two that Bashir talks to, because this episode involves secret dealings including the (probable in this case) death of a Romulan senator, to bolster Federation interests and ensure the Romulans stay in the war. Of course Garak and Sisko were the people behind the assassination of Senator Vreenak in In the Pale Moonlight. Sloan and Ross, effectively, map onto Garak and Sisko, respectively -- cynical spymaster who does this for a living, high-ranking Starfleet officer who enters a reluctant temporary alliance because of the difficulty of war -- whereas of course Cretak as sacrifice maps onto Vreenak. So I think that having this episode play out elements of ITPM allows for a way to talk about that episode's plot without actually threatening Garak and Sisko's secret. One imagines that Bashir's end-of-episode conversations with Sloan and Ross could be what Bashir would say in response to Garak and Sisko in ITPM, where the true "idealistic" Roddenberryan moral voice was actually absent. I am not saying that Garak and Sisko are unethical entirely -- Garak does have an ethical code, albeit not a very traditional one, and Sisko hates himself for what he does -- but basically it is entirely on the audience to react to this. Bashir actually gives a voice to the moral objections, not just in the sense of "I am upset about what happened but can live with it" but an actual voice saying "This is wrong and I reject that this is 'necessary.'" I like this because the link with ITPM also ties Bashir's story into Sisko's in a weird way -- in fact, in Tacking (spoiler) Bashir plans to fight back against Section 31 in the same episode where Sisko tells Worf to do Whatever It Takes. That ITPM immediately followed Inquisition further links these stories together.

2) Bashir gets to live out his thrilling mission of being a spy, and realizes that his goodness backfires, and can even be used for nefarious purposes. "He's manipulating you!" O'Brien warned him in "Hippocratic Oath," about Goran'agar, and here we see, and Bashir sees, that he can indeed be manipulated. But he is also smart enough to see through the manipulation, though after it's "too late" (more on this in a second). This really is very appropriate for the second act of the Bashir-Sloan story; in Inquisition Bashir's only real accomplishment was managing not to lose his mind and also figuring out Sloan's deception, but no harm was done and Bashir also did not quite get to the point of seeing how far out of his league he was. Here he gets it, and it sets him up to be readier come Round Three in Extreme Measures. (My memory and Jammer's review tells me that Extreme Measures is not very good, which is very much a shame, but I don't think that means that isn't how these episodes work -- building toward an actual climax.)

In terms of the plot, I don't actually get how this was supposed to work -- not only do Sloan and Ross know that Bashir will go to Cretak, but they also know she will access the secret files rather than going to Neral or whomever. Further, the episode's ending is hard to parse -- Cretak accesses Koval's secret files hoping to get info on who is trying to kill him, after Bashir talks to her. Koval indicates that it is *possible* that Bashir was a duped innocent, and surely that possibility is the only reason Bashir is allowed to leave. But then Koval argues that Creatk accessing the data proves that she was planning on killing him? But if she was planning on killing him, why would she wait for Bashir to tell her? If she was in on the plot with Sloan, she wouldn't need Bashir to tell her about the plan. Unless of course she wanted to find out who was involved in the plan, but then if that were the case then there are others involved in the plan, whom Koval should track down. Unless the idea is that Sloan had no mole at all, in which case -- what, Cretak was looking for someone to partner with? Or if she was accessing is information to use it to kill him alone, somehow, what does this have to do with Sloan's plot -- did she not consider assassinating him until someone pointed out that it was possible to do so? If the idea is that she did not know about his illness before then, it's odd that Koval acts like it is common knowledge within the organization at the end. Also, if Romulans have those nifty neural probes, could those be used to determine if Cretak is telling the truth? (Now, granted, if Koval is in charge it would be easy for him to fake those results, but it seems like it'd be worth bringing up.)

That Bashir comes forward to save Koval's life demonstrates how he operates. But then once he finds out Cretak is going to be wrongfully executed, *and he knows information that demonstrates this* -- i.e. Ross and Sloan's true involvement, Koval's spy status -- he does not try to build on this knowledge to try to save Cretak from execution, or even consider doing anything about that. I think it may be on that last point that he has given up trying to outmaneuver Sloan, at least in this round, or it may be that he genuinely thinks that the depth of the conspiracy here really is too extensive for him to unravel all by himself, or revealing the truth really might destroy the Fed/Romulan alliance and despite his ethical objections he won't actually intervene at this point. But I think the episode rather treats it as something Bashir sees as a fait accompli when it isn't -- there would still, probably, be time for him to make a last-ditch appeal to someone for Cretak's life, especially if he was willing to make that appeal for Koval's.

I ultimately am much more Bashir than Ross or Sloan, in terms of my ethical orientation, but I do understand where Ross and Sloan are coming from. One argument that I do wish that Bashir gave, though, is the pragmatic one: putting aside the ethical horror of condemning an innocent woman to die, there is also the fact that:

1) it could get out, somehow, that they did this, and that would seriously jeopardize all Romulan/Federation relationships; and
2) despite the risk that Cretak will leave for the Dominion, is it not still possible that she is more trustworthy than a plant like Koval?

We don't know exactly how Koval operates -- why he is a Federation operative, why his loyalty is to the UFP foremost. But we do know that he has Sloan-or-worse style ethics. We actually don't know much about him except that he is willing to destroy Cretak to get ahead, since the let's-use-the-Quickening-on-someone could actually be part of his act. But he is willing to destroy innocent Cretak. Cretak is a patriot and she might decide that it's in Romulus' best interests to do something else, but Cretak also is a woman of integrity, as we see in this episode, and her integrity is part of the crux of the trap that Sloan, Ross and Koval lay out for her. Cretak decides to trust Bashir. And Sloan and Koval know that Bashir and Cretak are people of integrity who could learn to trust each other, and use that to destroy her in favour of Koval-who-does-not-hesitate-to-arrange-his-opponents'-death. A Federation of Bashirs could convince a Romulus of Cretaks that the Federation, ultimately, *is trustworthy in a way that the Dominion is not*, and that this is ultimately the reason for them to join together. I know, I know: I am simply naive. But part of the tragedy here, and part of what Bashir should recognize, is that it is only people like Bashir and Cretak that make the Federation and Romulan Empires any different from the Dominion anyway, and that to kill Cretak by using her good qualities seems short-sighted as well as wrong.

Other things: I like that Ross had never had Romulan Ale, and cited the illegality, in order to set up his later betrayal of core values, to help establish that it is very often law-abiding men who reject all law when in positions of power. There is a lot in this episode about idioms -- Koval says "what's the phrase?", there is the discussion about "Never say die," etc. -- which I think is maybe emphasizing the various communication/language barriers (in terms of idiomatic phrases) and underlining Bashir's aloneness in this situation. The whole thing is very effective paranoid-thriller, though I think the plot does not quite hold together fully. 3.5 stars.
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Diamond Dave
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Impulse

Zombie Vulcans - you could see that pitch a mile away. This indeed did create an interestingly claustrophobic atmosphere, and the strobe lighting (while probably a bit overdone) did add to the unusual effect. There were a few decent jumps, accepting this is Star Trek so the splatter is unlikely to be featured!

But really all this was was a long haunted house show and it didn't really transcend the genre - indeed a number of cliches were apparent, including the false ending. 2 stars.
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Peter G.
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Reckoning

Jayrus got it right. Winn is and always was the Bajoran analog to Dukat in every way. How could anyone ever think differently after watching The Cirlce? The difference between them is their background but they have the same character. Every single time she ever appears to 'come around' is an instance of egotistical theatrics involving a puppet show of growth and revelation. I'm not surprised some people are taken in by her apparent 'changes' seeing as how much the audience was swayed to Dukat's side during S4. They are both manipulative enough - although Dukat is better at it - that you can be taken in by their delusions for a time. Knowing Dukat as we know him later on it's very easy when watching S4 to realize exactly what's going on in his little fantasy he plays out about himself.

The reason for Winn aborting the Reckoning at the end may not be just one thing. I think that once the prophet shunned her she wanted to lash out and teach the prophet a lesson about paying her the proper respect (!). I also agree with a previous poster that she most likely doubted the prophets would prevail and decided her judgement was better than theirs. People perhaps miss that it takes a truly deranged mind (or a Klingon) to literally think it knows better than a god what to do. I also think she did it for pragmatic reasons since she's overall a pragmatist rather than a person of faith. She believed the station was essential for the protection of Bajor and she wasn't about to let the Emissary or even the prophets tell her to give it up for some stupid battle.

If I had to guess I'd say the need for corporeal vessels was to test Sisko's faith. The pagh wraiths would want it to crumble, while the prophets no doubt saw it as a chance to cement it. In fact, I'd even go as far as to suggest that "the reckoning" had nothing to do with any golden age but rather was outright a reckoning of Sisko's resolve. The bits in the prophecy about "the rebirth" may just have been there to mess with Winn's mind and give her the mental fuel to do what she was meant to do and defy the prophets. It's easy to forget that the prophets don't merely predict the future but exist outside of time. I find it hard to believe they "didn't know" what the outcome of the reckoning would be, as if Winn was some total mystery to them. A problem with my theory is the prophet's "NO!!!" when the chronoton radiation begins, but actually we don't know it was the prophet speaking. If the prophet relinquished control of Kira just at that moment it could very well have been her screaming in protest at someone interfering with the prophets and halting an apparently winning battle for them.

Regarding the light show at the end I'd like to point out that this is a clear lift of the battle scene in B5 between Kosh and Ulkesh, even in terms of the similarity of the special effect used and the 'good energy being vs. bad energy being' aspect. This doesn't precisely excuse the scene for those that didn't like it, but I guess at times Behr went full turkey in borrowing from B5. It's not strictly required to think of the battle as 'good vs evil', though, since we certainly don't know enough about the prophets to call them good. If we're to look at the source material we'd find that the Vorlons are many things, but good is not one of them.

SPOILERS ***

This episode is important because it cements Sisko as being on the side of the prophets and Winn as being their opponent. She was going to go on pretending to be their humble servant, except that after outright shunning her (just as Sisko and the Bajorans shunned Dukat) she was never going to put up with that. She blatantly says in a later episode that prophets that don't pay her the proper respect don't deserve her loyalty, and the road leading to that statement was paved here. I think The Reckoning is a very good episode and I've always liked it.

I always wonder at people who don’t like the religious aspect of DS9 when in fact it is pure science fiction involving the “what if” of aliens that could exist outside of time. There is essentially nothing religious about it, but because it involves aliens far more advanced than Humans (see: Arthur C. Clarke’s comment about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic) people seem to freak out. Sisko’s relationship to the prophets doesn’t need to be seen as anything more than a Starfleet officer participating in a treaty with a very peculiar alien race.
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icarus32soar
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Emanations

One of the stupidest wastes of an hour's worth of TV, ST or not. Good grief is my only reaction to this inane nonsense.
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Yanks
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 10:00am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Marauders

Justus,

You obviously missed this part of the episode.

"TESSIC: If you're thinking about coming back, I wouldn't advise it. We'll be ready. We're not afraid of you anymore.
(Korok holsters his weapon.)
KOROK: We can find deuterium anywhere. Yours isn't fit for a garbage scow.
(He speaks into his communicator and the party is beamed away. The colonists rejoice at their victory.) "

These garbage scow Klingons don't want to bother with it. Why would they?
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Robert
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 8:22am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

@Skeptical - I somehow feel I like this episode better after reading your review.

I have often felt that they dipped into the "Torres can't come to terms with her Klingon side" (Faces, Day of Honor, and Barge of the Dead) well too many times. Probably I'm more sensitive to this because VOY has this problem a lot of re-learning lessons (Kim learns to "man up" and stop being green once a season at least). I'll include Juggernaut as well, because her "temper" was often code for her "Klingon side". At the time I felt some of this weakened "Lineage". Now I just think "Juggernaut" was a stupid episode, especially for S5. Did the person acting as Chief Engineer of a starship for FIVE YEARS really need to learn to control her temper now?

But if you look at Faces/Day of Honor/Lineage, all of which have a good span of time between them, falling about 3 seasons apart each, they actually form a really nice character arc. I won't include "Barge" because a) I don't really care for it and b) although it's very Klingon I think it's more about coming to terms with religion than race. In Faces you get introduced to the idea that she resents her Klingon-side because she feels she can't always control her "Klingon temper". She eventually realizes that her Klingon side adds things to the mix and without it she wouldn't be her. It's a good lesson, if a bit pedestrian. We are who we are, warts and all, and if you start pulling at threads you unravel the person.

But Day of Honor and Lineage are actually 2 sides of the same coin. This episode actually strengthens that one. She keeps Tom at arms length because she's afraid he'll leave her one day.... because she's Klingon. These 2 episodes taken together (and with Faces) show a really good arc. In Faces she learns that she needs her Klingon side because she isn't her without it. That's not acceptance or love, it's just tolerance. Before that you could say she wasn't even tolerating it. In Day of Honor she decides to let Tom in... but she does so in spite of her fears, not through accepting them and moving on... in fact she's "faking it" in the hopes that she'll "make it". But she doesn't. She never really lets go of the idea that who she is makes her unlovable in the end. And that's what Lineage is for.

Actually she's really one of my favorite characters in Trek (not just Voyager) and a really good example of how to do serialization well on an episodic show. It doesn't piss me off that VOY didn't serialize like DS9, it pisses me off that VOY couldn't figure out how to do THIS with all of their characters. Each DS9 character has a character arc of some kind. VOY... they really don't. But Torres has 2. Her relationship with Paris, especially from her side, is really, really well done and visited once a season. From "Blood Fever", to "Day of Honor", to "Alice" (which I don't love, but she's pretty good in it) to "Drive" they really do a nice job showing her slowly growing to let him in. And the 2 arcs together are very sweet as she goes from thinking she's worthless and unlovable to a respected and valued member of this family with a husband and a child.

And she gets some good one-shots also ("Dreadnaught", "Remember", "Extreme Risk" and "Muse"). It really sucks because if VOY could have given their entire ensemble this level of care with their story arcs it'd really have made a huge difference.
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Skeptical
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

Huh. Where has this episode been the last seven years?

Yeah, the ending was probably a bit too over the top with the violins and all, but not at all over the top in terms of the plot or the acting. That part was perfect. And the overall story was very, very good. Finally, we get to see what makes B'Elanna tick. And while I'm normally not a fan of the idea of a singular event in the past being the defining aspect of everything about a person (this is the reason I think Tapestry is overrated, even if it is overall a fun episode), it works here. Because it's not just about the event, but rather about young B'Elanna's interpretation of the event. By showing us the whole picture of the camping trip, we can look at it both through B'Elanna's eyes as well as objective ones.

For example, note how kid Torres thinks everyone hates her because she's Klingon. And note that, in the entire flashback, we never have one instance where the older cousin seems to resent B'Elanna or dislike her in any way. It's probably similar with her classmates. Some probably tease her, and she magnifies those events in her mind. But others probably don't care. And yet, because of her interpretation, B'Elanna is probably withdrawn and projects a bad attitude towards all of her classmates. Which means the rest of her classmates probably feed off that bad attitude and are cool or distant to her, thus creating a positive feedback loop for B'Elanna's feelings of isolation. It's nothing new, it's nothing kids haven't had to deal with for ages, but it probably hurts her nonetheless. So the obvious yet kinda stupid answer, that everyone hated B'Elanna because she was half-Klingon, is eliminated, but eliminated in a way that makes it believable that B'Elanna herself could believe that.

Yet people grow up, and many are able to see their childhoods in different lights. What was incredibly important back then becomes irrelevant as an adult. So why was it not with B'Elanna? And the episode provides the answer by having her overhear her dad's conversation. Now, there's a bit of an oddity with that conversation. I mean, seriously John, you're interpreting a 12 year old girl getting moody to her being a Klingon? Because no 12-year old girl ever gets moody, right? Sheesh... But then again, he was probably just venting frustrations. It's clear that his marriage was already on the rocks, and the stress of raising B'Elanna during this time probably didn't help. And maybe he simply feared for the future, who knows? But it was important to have B'Elanna hear those words, to make her believe that her dad resented her. Because she was a Klingon.

I don't think he did. Like I said, he was just venting to his brother. He probably just had a poor choice of words. Besides, even if he did think it would be a challenge raising her because she's Klingon, that doesn't mean he doesn't love her. Or want to be with her. But that's a bit harder to explain to a 12 year old, so we can see why B'Elanna was so upset about it.

And so, like with her interpretation of her classmates, her relationship with her dad undoubtedly worsened considerably at this point. And so when her dad decided to divorce her mom... well, no point in mincing words, he's a coward for leaving her too. He probably justified it as being easier on B'Elanna, that he couldn't be a good dad when she hated him, but still, no excuse. Because that did have a huge impact on her life, and continued her deep isolation with the rest of society.

Up above there's a huge debate about what sci-fi is. Besides the obvious fact that this episode considers the impact of genetic engineering on families, another part of sci-fi is to take universal themes and societal changes and place them in a new environment. Well, this episode was created at a time when there were major societal changes, when new generations of children were growing up in divorced families for the first time in mass quantities. And one common issue that appears in these children is their belief, deep down, that the divorce is their fault. This episode looks at that theme with a new twist, and does it by showing rather than telling. We see why B'Elanna feels it's her fault (or more accurately, her Klingon half's fault), even though the fault lies in her father alone.

Meanwhile, all of this flashback is important because it gives this episode its weight. And it gives B'Elanna's character its weight. If B'Elanna went to such great lengths to remove her child's Klingon DNA just because she had such a hard time as a kid, well, we would condemn her for her actions. But that's not why she did it. It's because she believes (perhaps incorrectly, but believes it nonetheless) that it will destroy her family. It already drove away the most important man in her life as a child, perhaps it would also drive away the most important man in her life as an adult? We can still say she's in the wrong, of course. But it's at least understandable.

That's why I don't complain about the ending, and instead praise it. To see her lay it all out like that, to see Tom recognize the problem and comfort her and reassure her, was absolutely needed. And it was very, very touching to see. For so long, their relationship was in the background, barely existing. But their scenes here made it real, made me truly believe that Tom cared about her. And it made it clear how much her dad leaving her messed up B'Elanna, providing the final say on her past and who she is.

We have not had too many B'Elanna-centric episodes that focused on her as a character (rather than as a plot device). Of those few, three of them (Faces, Day of Honor, and Barge of the Dead) have focused on her rejection of her Klingon self. If the writers were going to go back to that well so many times, there needed to be a real payoff to it, not just that it's in her character sheet and they don't have any other ideas. This episode reinforced these previous episodes and gave them more real meaning. Her entire life was shattered as a child, and she interpreted the reason for it as because she was Klingon. It was both a rational and irrational interpretation on her part, so we can see why she's overreacting but at the same time sympathize with her.

It's a lot like Dark Page in that sense - that episode makes Lwaxana's over-bearishness towards her daughter understandable - but this is a far superior version of that idea. And it was touching and hit all the emotional chords needed. One of my favorite episodes.

(By the way, I even like the end that she chose the EMH to be the godfather. On the one hand, she fears a difficult childhood for her daughter due to being isolated. Well, it's not hard to see that the EMH has some experience in being different and treated differently, to put it mildly. But as a more subtle point, B'Elanna has always treated the EMH worse than most of her companions, even though she works with him quite a bit. So there's a bit of a parallel here; she feels she was treated poorly because of who she was, even though she did the same to others. By giving the EMH this honor, it is perhaps her way of apologizing, not only for what she did in this episode, but also for her attitude and her own hypocrisy.)
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