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Rahul
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

An hour of levity after a few serious episodes -- can't take this one too seriously but it wasn't particularly enjoyable either with plenty of cliches and the expected pre-wedding complications, different styles of "bachelor parties". Almost felt like I wasn't watching Trek.

I just don't get the romance between Worf and Dax -- the 2 actors don't portray it well. Worf is particularly wooden here. I don't think the clash of cultures here is analogous to any 2 human religions or races that I know of -- so there's no commentary on any kind of real world situation that I can see this applying to.

Sirella, Martok's wife, is super-annoying, needlessly heavy-handed with adherence to Klingon tradition so you know the headstrong Dax will rebel. But I guess somehow she's ultimately cool with the wedding after Dax supposedly goes begging on her hands and knees -- would have been nice to see that after seeing all the friction between the 2 earlier.

We didn't get to see a softer side from Worf really -- not even any real joy. The whole Worf getting married could have been a much more meaningful thing.

1.5 stars for "You Are Cordially Invited" -- another episode of DS9 staff getting to act out a (mostly) fun episode unrelated to the main story arc. Sometimes these outings work ("In the Cards") but here it really didn't for me. The episode focused too much on the unimportant aspects of the marriage and less about any character development.
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Rahul
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

This episode is all-action and wraps up nicely (actually too much so) Sisko's plan to take back DS9 -- but it is not on the same level as "Favor the Bold" for depth. There are too many contrivances and fortunate happenings here for the Defiant to take back DS9. Another interesting twist for Dukat's character is the strongest part of this episode for me.

The scene with Sisko and the Prophets was odd -- not sure what to make of it. How fortunate that they wipe out all the Dominion's ships in the Gamma Quadrant. The scene seemed out of place with the pacing of the overall episode, but it's clearly important and has future ramifications.

The uprising from Kira & co. was fairly typical. This too was rather fortunate but was better than the battle of the hundreds of starships. (I may be in the minority with this opinion).

For me, the battle scene was too unrealistic -- never seen so many ships all at once. I actually think it was too much and the relative space of the ships from each other had to be inaccurately portrayed (due to TV limitations) -- it requires too much imagination on the part of the viewer to think of how the battle would actually proceed but I doubt so many ships would appear so close together.

The real strength of the episode is Dukat's transformation -- great acting from Alaimo seeing the war lost, his daughter wanting to stay on DS9, and then killed by Damar. I actually like this act from Damar -- showing he's truly concerned 1st of all for Cardassia. He thinks Dukat should leave Ziyal behind but Dukat actually has a "human" side. He's reduced to a shadow of his former self.

A strong 2.5 stars for "Sacrifice of Angels" -- there's enough of a good story and action here to overwhelm the contrivances and I like the Dukat/Ziyal ending. Great performance from Alaimo -- as usual. Always nice to see the happy scenes when DS9 is taken back but it all happens too quickly and quite fortunately.
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Rahul
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Favor the Bold

Great episode with so much going on and it fits together really well -- even the personal stuff between Dukat/Ziyal manages to play a part here. The writers have an outstanding tale going here.

What is still a bit nebulous is the benefits of the link -- some kind of paradise. So it's more important for the female changeling to get Odo to join the link than it is to take over the Alpha Quadrant... I was pretty surprised the 2 spent 3 days shagging. The scene with Odo trying to apologize to Kira was the most powerful of the episode -- Kira's line about being way late for sorry was perfect.

Federation morale is low so they figure they need a victory and Sisko has a plan to take back DS9 before the minefield is removed -- makes sense, but without the Klingons, I'm not so sure -- especially when they find out there are 1254 Dominion ships to deal with. Have to wonder just how many ships StarFleet has. I was also curious as to who the high ranking Romulan female is when Sisko was presenting his plan to the Federation admirals.

As for the tertiary characters, Rom was actually tolerable here -- he isn't so much in "idiot savant" mode. But Leeta's whimpering was annoying -- but that's only a minor knock on this episode. It's good that Quark has a more important role that ties in to the main story arc. Shimerman is a decent actor -- always looking out for his interests but also trying to be of assistance and trying to help his brother.

Weyoun is pretty amusing and he's clearly irritating Dukat -- was funny with his comment about poor eyesight and not being able to see the mines being detonated but his hearing is good so that he can hear Dukat and Damar discussing Ziyal and Kira.

Many aspects of the story are finely balanced -- Dukat has a thing for Kira and the Dominion has an agreement with Bajor so the Cardassians (mainly Damar it would seem) can't do things the Cardassian way.

3.5 stars for "Favor the Bold" -- the continuation of the main story arc is working out wonderfully. All the various sub-stories are moving along nicely. Just the whole link thing and Odo being out of the equation seem slightly less than optimal for story excitement.
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TB
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: The 37's

Lots of unanswered questions but overall I enjoyed this episode.

My biggest complaint is that Amelia Earheart, someone we know to be incredibly adventurous and loved challenging herself would never have chosen to stay on the planet. Does anyone really think she would give up the opportunity to see the stars and potentially learn to fly a starship in order to stay on a planet which, from her perspective, she's known about for a couple of hours and on which she knows nobody?

The script called for her to not be in the next episode and it stood out a mile away. I'd rather have had a silly technobabble explanation of why she couldn't leave the planet (that argon atmosphere she's got used to in stasis or something) or better yet, have her and her navigator take a shuttle (or even an alien ship!) and go off and explore the galaxy.
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kapages
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

I like BDSM and role playing / switching with my wife.
Star trek does not have any character into that.
Its a good idea to start whining about it and blame the show...

Some will say: Being gay or straight is a fundamental division, while BDSM is superficial. Really?
I know straight men/women who enjoy better BDSM with the same sex, than boring sex with the opposite sex.

The truth is, some gay people have developed inferiority complex due to racism and superstition imposed on them by society.
The same apply to darker people, complaining when their color is not represented in the shows.

Truly liberated gays don't care about such nonsense. Nobody is "normal" and socially acceptable in all aspects of life. We have to develop antibodies to social pressure and refrain from judging so easily the others.
Hell, I actually think my parents would rather I was gay with adopted children, than straight and childless by choice.

Interesting episode, as a premise.





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MutualCore
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Krill

If they can dial the dick-jokes down a bit, they might be on to something. The last scene between Captain Ed and the Krill woman was TNG at its best, implying dark things ahead.
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MutualCore
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Sub Rosa

The way I see it, it was 'garbage time' on TNG as they were getting ready for 'All Good Things..." and "Generations". So they needed to pound out a few episodes on the cheap. Thus "Genesis" and "Sub Rosa". Utterly forgettable dross.
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agingfangirl
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

I am enjoying the hell out of this show. It looks great, it is damn exciting, the characters are interesting, there is some high quality acting and I have NO IDEA where it is going. Is it trying to keep you off balance? Damn right it is!

It is hard to evaluate on an episode by episode basis. Discovery is going to succeed or fail based on the entirety of the story, which I fervently hope does not disappoint me.

Some random observations:
--We don't know if anything Mudd or Lorca said about his past is the truth. I am sure it's even more complicated than we think.
--Yes, Saru going along with torturing the tardigrade is against character, and he knows he lost something by doing it. That was part of the point
--This show is all about ethics, good and evil, gray areas, how we treat the "other" and when the end justifies the means. There is nothing more quintessentially Star Trek than that.
--Lorca is a great character and Jason Isaacs is not just nailing it, he is smashing it through the back wall. Ditto Saru and Doug Jones.
--I thought the cussing was fucking cool. I laughed out loud.
--L'Rell sexually abusing a captive? Maybe I am sick but I thought that was dark in an interesting way.
--The mirror shot at the end was awesome.

Discovery is exceeding my expectations, although I hate the Klingon redesign. But then DS9 is my favorite, which shows you where my sensibilities are. I just hope that where it goes makes me want to cry with joy rather than smash things.
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Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

Akkal:

Because it doesn't belong in Trek. Having sex is a perfectly natural part of human behavior but I don't want my kids to see it on Sesame Street.

"OH BIRRRRD!!"

Hahaha
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Toony
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

Regarding the Romulans using Klingon ships, IDW comics offered an explanation.
In the episode Balance of Terror the ROmulans are shown to have plasma weapons and impulse ships putting them at a disadvantage until they developed the cloaking device, we can infer from TNG dylithium crystals are extremely scarce in the Romulan Star Empire so warp drive may have been reserved for fewer ships until they used quantum singularities. The episode Errand of Mercy which introduced the Klingons, shown them as going to war with the Federation but their war was ended by the Organians and the Organian peace treaty was mentioned a few times afterwards. In the IDW comics, the Klingons provided the Romulans with battleships and weapons in exchange for the cloaking device, they hoped to use them as pawns in a renewed war with the Federation. It all fell apart when the Romulans realised their treachery.
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Akkal
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 11:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

To the comments about swearing: What's the big deal? It's a perfectly natural part of any person's vocabulary, throughout the world. Personally, I hate the fact that swearing is censored by a "beep" on most american TV shows. It's ridiculous.
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Jammer
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 11:12am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

There are interesting possibilities here. And there's this Akiva Goldsman quote: "We are wildly aware of everything that appears to be a deviation from canon and we will close out all of those issues before they arrive at the 10-year period and hit The Original Series."

Now, there's no reason for me to believe he is lying and that there's not a plan for all this (otherwise, why do the prequel at all?), although the fact that they will clear this up within "the 10-year period before TOS" gives them wide-open license to clear it up this season ... or not for years or even until the end of the series. (The latter would probably drive us all insane.)

Regarding Stamets in the mirror, you could read that as a literal reference to an alternate/mirror universe, but you could also read it as a more subjective POV reflecting (as it were) the character's mental state -- that he steps away from the mirror while simply feeling as if he can exist in multiple places at once because he has been changed by this experience. This is ambiguous enough that they could go many directions with it, including less extreme directions than things like the mirror universe.
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Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

It'd be interesting if we have been watching the evil mirror universe side of things this whole time, and at the very end the real team of Starfleet good guys appears and that's the squad we'll follow from S2 on.

I mean let's take the first episode (non-two parter, which was likely added on later) is it special? I mean, is it *Bryan Fuller& special? Everyone and their mom said how great this guy was and oh man we were going to be in for some good shit however nothing so far seems to point towards these new / great ideas. I know he quit a while ago but he had already written a few of these hadn't he?

Maybe it was his idea that we see things from the MU from the get-go, and then let us in on it way later. Think a large-scale version of that O'Brien episode where we've been watching the clone the whole time. That's what I mean.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Jammer,

I think the problem with Matrix: Revolutions isn't that their answer was too simplistic, but was rather too elusive. The story didn't have the wherewithal to make us understand how Neo could do that, and so we were left with the impression that it must just be because he's Jesus or whatever. As a bit of a sidetrack, I think the reason Neo was able to do that is because he became mentally linked with The Source while talking to The Architect in Reloaded, which would have been necessary for him to communicate with it assuming he walked through the door to The Source. In the previous incarnations he had always done so, but this time the Oracle rigged it so he wanted to go back to save Trinity. But the neural link would still be there, and then we get weird results. Anyhow the problem here was really that there was *too much* detailing and the films couldn't get into it all. The Wachowskis, it seems to me, had such a dense world they'd created that streamlining it into tight films was a difficult task.

In the case of Discovery I tend to think your concern is entirely accurate, though. Kurtzman material has a tendency to underthink, rather than overthink, solutions to problems. They tend to be pat, tidy, and not overly logical. That said I'm somehow finding myself holding out a little hope that there really is an interesting explanation for all this.

I do like Ruth's idea that the initial scene also somehow has a mirror universe connotation.

I had an idea of my own, which is that the mirror Stamets invented the spore drive before ours did and found a way to use Human navigators already. This would have maybe been him making a foray into our universe in a kind of astral projection way. Maybe the trigger was prime-Stamets hooking into the spore network and alerting the other Stamets to his presence. Looking back to Fringe, they went quite far in establishing back-and-forth relations between the real world and the alternate universe. Why not go there again? It's like a reboot, only in other series, how can you beat that?
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Krill

@ William & Omicron,

I was specifically replying to Omicron's statement that "They gradually became socially unacceptable and people stopped doing them. It's definitely *not* because we, as individual human beings, are somehow less petty and vengeful than our ancestors."

Perhaps you meant that we'd be genetically no different, and so if 'nurture' isn't taken into account we'd be approximately just as petty and vengeful than our ancestors. If that's what you meant then I guess no contest, since it's basically a truism. But it seemed to me that you meant that our behavior and instincts are basically the same and the only difference is that we have more stuff or whatever. But that's really not true. The effect of culture, upbringing, social mores, and the intellectual ecosystem is massive on which instincts are molded and which softened. There was a time not too long ago when if you insulted someone there was a good chance you would end up in a duel to the death, or perhaps you'd just be attacked and killed on the spot. The law not only forbids this, but it would also horrify most people in civilized cultures. That's not just 'we have more stuff.' People are different; not genetically, but in all other important respects. 2,000 years ago people took glee in seeing their fellow man ripped apart by lions. Now if you showed someone that they'd vomit and never sleep again. Genetics: the same. The people: not the same.

Trek is, to whit, specifically about how people really do change, and can change so much that they'd be unrecognizable to us (whether for good or ill). In a way Mirror, Mirror gives us the juxtapose of the two extremes. The suggestion that people in the future would perhaps have the same comportment as we do while nevertheless having a superior moral and cultural ecosystem sounds to me like self-congratulatory fantasy. What's more validating then saying that people who act just like us are superior? Not that you're saying this, necessarily, but I think that would be the theoretical position. In MacFarlane's future while I do agree we're supposed to 'accept' that people are more advanced, the reality we're being shown seems to me to suggest what I've seen in other MacFarlane material, which is that when it comes down to it people are scummy and that will never change. Jason R in another episode thread said it rightly, that it's about imputing low standards onto everyone and projecting that into the future.

That's how I see it, anyhow.
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William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Scientific Method

Consensus is that Jammer underrates this one. I guess I sort of agree, but only sort of. I like this better than (from later in the season) Concerning Flight and even Waking Moments. It has zip and energy and I think it's fun to see cranky Janeway, horny Tom & B'Elanna, and spy Seven. I actually dug the scene of Chakotay and Neelix comparing their respective ailments, too, although I find this exchange funny for the wrong reasons:

NEELIX: If anything, I look like a Mylean. They occupy a region of space near Talax.
EMH: Interesting. Do Talaxians and Myleans share a common ancestry?
NEELIX: Not that I know of.
EMH: Do the two races ever intermarry?
NEELIX: Yes. As a matter of fact, my great grandfather was Mylean.

Neelix, please, be smarter.

The plot doesn't really add up to that much, though, and indeed the whole thing feels disjointed. The idea that the Doctor makes sure Seven doesn't tell anyone about his findings -- that Janeway et al. are being experimented on -- is strange, given that I don't quite know why the aliens wouldn't discover that Seven is on a secret mission, and Seven exposes one of the aliens anyway, albeit in desperation. The extreme-risk-low-odds ending is also both dumb and implausible and also weirdly goes against the "metaphor" (quotes because it's pretty thin) of animal experimentation; so I guess a rat can get out of being experimented on by running into a burning building, huh? Anyway, it might have made the "message" aspect of the show stronger to at least imply what it was these tests were being used for, beyond some sort of generic endurance hazing ritual; and yeah, the aliens' half-hearted defense of their actions seems to make it an "issue" episode without bothering to examine whether the analogy actually fits (e.g. the Voyager crew is sentient, etc.). Oh well. Anyway, I actually still probably give it the same rating as Jammer, because it is a mess and its virtues don't really balance it out, but I don't quite have the same negative opinion based on the review. (I think I'm maybe just a little more willing to give low ratings generally.) 1.5 stars, sure.
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Trent
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

I love William's analysis of this episode, but ultimately side with Trekfan's positive review of it immediately above. Whilst the episode resorts to familiar Trek conventions (powerful God-like aliens who can be defeated only by draining their energy), I like the pulpy surrealism of a giant hand literally plucking the Enterprise from space, and the sheer audacity of having Roman Gods be aliens. There are also two good speeches here, one in which Kirk attempts to convert Palamas, and one in which Palamas finally snubs the Alien God. Agree that Scotty is woefully written here.
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William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

The big, glaring, distracting problem of this episode is that at no point does Janeway simply ask the Mari to let B'Elanna go back to Voyager and let Voyager leave. It's possible the Mari would have refused, but the argument Nimira keeps presenting is not even that B'Elanna needs to be *punished* as that future crimes need to be prevented and that her violent thoughts cannot be allowed to continue affecting their society. Fine! Let her leave! Nimira seems to find *punishment* to be barbaric, and so it is not even a "we have to obey local values" issue -- it seems that her values would be entirely consistent with letting B'Elanna simply leave provided that she didn't return to pollute their culture any more. Of course no one mentions it, because then either there would be no story, or Nimira would come across as too unsympathetic. Seven is, of course, correct in the final scene with Janeway, not so much about whether they should stop and interact with cultures they pass through, but in the question of whether they should actually have someone (Tuvok, presumably, but maybe sometimes-ambassador Neelix, or command officers Janeway or Chakotay) read the rulebook of planets they are stopping at to check if there are any rules that will lead to the crew being executed, incarcerated or violated as punishment. I get that there are some edge-case ambiguities in laws, and sometimes things are so "unthinkable" that they wouldn't bother to codify them in laws, but I feel like "thinking violent thoughts is a crime punishable by space lobotomy" is something that could plausibly have come up.

Putting that aside, though, I think the episode works overall quite well. The way the episode examines the unintended consequences of different laws is really plausible and perceptive, and the basic notion -- of whether "violent thoughts" should or can be outlawed -- is compelling and well executed. "Violent thoughts," here, I think is an exaggeration/metaphor; for our non-telepathic society, substitute violent speech or art, or anything that can plausibly lead to second-order violent outcomes and people hurt and damaged. The idea here that people are extremely sensitive to any ideas that pass their way, and that it's better to control ideas than to control actions themselves, is compelling and makes sense, with the telepathy of the Mari a stand-in for the various ways (subtle and not-so-subtle) that ideas can be transferred and harmful ideas can spread. B'Elanna as the representative for "violent thoughts (art, words, etc.) are fine (or at least, should be non-criminal), violent actions aren't" posits that a person is responsible for their actions only, whereas Nimira as the representative for the Mari points out that violent thoughts (art, etc.) make violent actions more likely, and both are correct, though (of course) I (and the show) agree much, much more with B'Elanna. The second-order consequence that banning violent thoughts outright creates a black market because of the bestial nature of humans (sorry, humanoids) and the fact that we still crave a certain rush from violence even if we don't wish to participate in it, and maybe ESPECIALLY if we don't want to participate in it and if we want it as a replacement (and violent-thought voyeurs like the ones we see in this episode seem to mostly be seeking the thoughts themselves and not to do violence, which is only an unintended consequence) is also totally believable and meaningful and it's an investigation plot where the resolution to the "crime" ends up being genuinely thematically interesting. (Compare to Ex Post Facto.) It's also a good Tuvok episode (which I believe are rare in s4-7), bringing up the violence of his thoughts again (Meld) while hinting at his mixed reaction to extreme (excessive?) control, including thought control. He's got a violent enough temperament, deep down, that he is not so sure that making violent thoughts illegal and purging them is such a bad thing, but he ultimately comes to respect B'Elanna for having her own internal controls rather than imposing societal ones. The contrived aspects of the set-up keep this from being a great episode but I think it's a good one. 3 stars.
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Trent
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Apple

TOS had a number of stories like this: paradise and eden's are a trap, a phony bliss which hampers development, whereby development is code for "contemporary western style civilizeation". It's not a message I agree with. But this episode is nevertheless fun, feels alien and surreal in ways only TOS managed, features another stunning yeoman, is unintentionally funny in a number of scenes (lol@the Beach Boy natives), has a couple good Spock/Kirk moments, and the actual "robot snake cave" is very creepy.
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William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Concerning Flight

Janeway: "This is Leonardo da Vinci we're talking about. Simulation or not, he's one of the greatest creative minds in Earth's history." Oh, great. I'll remember that next time. "This is Napoleon Bonaparte we're talking about. Wikipedia article or not, he's one of the greatest military minds in Earth's history. I'm sure I'll be able to conquer the world with it in no time!" In all seriousness, this episode was dreadful and the worst of the season so far, despite John Rhys-Davies' (and Melgrew's and Russ') amiable performance. The mugging, which affects some but not all systems at random for what the plot needs, is there only to set up the Janeway/Leonardo stuff, but that is all painful to watch, which seems to be intended as a tribute but ends up making Leonardo da Vinci look like an idiot throughout. Oh, so he believes this is all America, does he? So he gets shot straight through but doesn't have to find out why and accepts it, huh? So much material comes down to Janeway trying to convince Leonardo to stop asking questions and to accept his limitations, and I'm not sure why we need to see the Leonardo hologram learning that he's out of his depth. The big emotional flight at the end is maybe meant to be some sort of cheer moment, but I'm not sure that "Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine succeeds, based on Janeway's advice to him and based on 24th century alien ultralight materials" is all that meaningful, especially when the cheer moment seems to be around proving that Leonardo da Vinci *was* smart, after all. Thanks, but I think we knew that. For comparison, Doctor Who's episode featuring Vincent Van Gogh (spoiler) managed to have an uplifting (if bittersweet) ending of having Van Gogh realize that he would eventually be appreciated, and it's given weight because of the tragedy of his life, and it's particularly about appreciation that actually happens, because of work he actually did, rather than an elaborate "well, I bet if he were alive in the future and had a cool best friend and had access to future tech he'd be able to accomplish his goals!" wish-fulfillment stories. Janeway should have just turned the damn mobile emitter off, of course. It's too bad John Rhys-Davies didn't get a better vehicle, I guess (and when I say "vehicle" I don't mean that glider). 1 star.
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Trent
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Balance of Terror

Tense, fast-paced and featuring a great villain, Balance of Terror is for me the greatest Trek "ship combat episode". The remastered cut in particular is excellent, with its gorgeous comet effects and CGI ship models.
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William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Waking Moments

With this ep, on the other hand, I feel like there is very little to say. The only attempt to make the nightmares character-specific was in the teaser, and even there we only reiterated some common fears of the characters (of humiliation, Tuvok; of her crew dying because of her, Janeway; of...Seven making out with him? that's a nightmare?, Harry; and of...flying?...not flying well?, Tom) without much development. After that, the episode is only noteworthy for the are-you-in-or-out-of-the-illusion? tricks, and those can be very good (see: Ship in a Bottle, Frame of Mind, Projections) but here are just drawn-out and largely pointless. Maybe a better villain would have helped; these creative genius aliens seemingly take over waking people by putting them into a mass dream state where they...take them over. Great. In fact even on this plot's own terms it's hard to say what the aliens actually want -- they don't actually want to take over Voyager, obviously, because Voyager only finds them when Chakotay wakes himself up and recommends to look for the tech readings, and so what was their goal anyway? Maybe to protect themselves, but how would simply putting the crew into sleep and leaving the ship out there forever not lead to reinforcements coming and eventually someone getting through before sleeping? We get to see sights like Janeway and Tuvok ignoring the phaser blasts of the enemies through sheer Power Of The Mind, but the aliens who live in sleep state are cowed by Janeway and Tuvok's phaser rifles. The episode's climax is so limp that when it cut from Chakotay's threat back to the Doctor's log on the ship, I had assumed initially that it was the Doctor making a "we're three minutes away from the five minute mark and still no word from Commander Chakotay" entry.

On the plus side, I love Seven of Nine's distraction. "ENSIGN KIM, IT IS YOUR FAULT WE HAVE BEEN CAPTURED," in a full "HOW DO IMPERFECT, NON-COLLECTIVIST HUMANOIDS BEHAVE? BY IRRATIONALLY ARGUING!" voice. Perfect. And some of the moon imagery is cool. That's about it. 1.5 stars.
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Jammer
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

The danger with the more elaborate of these Ash/Voq theories and/or alternate/mirror universes is that you may be setting yourself up for an Occam's Razor disappointment.

I'm reminded of the end of "The Matrix Reloaded" when Neo suddenly realized he had the power to destroy machines with his mind in the real world. That seemed to suggest a theory that everything outside the Matrix -- Zion, everything -- was actually another Matrix, and the Matrix was a Matrix-within-a-Matrix, all for the purposes of the machines carrying out the cyclical conflict between Smith and The One.

But when "The Matrix Revolutions" revealed that, nope, Neo can just destroy machines in the real world because he's magical and special, it was a distinct letdown.

Maybe we're heading for something like that here, or maybe not. There definitely seems to be *something* going on here. I'm just not sure what, or if it can live up to the crazy theories.
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William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Mortal Coil

I've fallen pretty far behind, but I wanted to talk about this episode. So, in the comments a few people have pointed out that we hadn't heard about Neelix's belief in the Great Forest before, or even that he has (religious) beliefs. It's also been suggested that Neelix's crisis of faith is not all that plausible a "crisis of faith," because most people of religious faith would not let their faith be shaken so easily. I can see both points, I can, and I'm willing to grant the possibility that this episode doesn't work as a meditation on religion per se. However, to me, the central element of what goes on with Neelix isn't the loss of faith in God or Gods, but is very *very* specifically focused on the loss of his family. That is something we've known about Neelix since Jetrel, and it's made clear in Jetrel and Rise (e.g.) that this is a core aspect of his character and one of the central reasons he does what he has. So rather than looking at religious belief as a whole, it's focused on the specific role that belief in heaven (or equivalent) plays in helping people cope with tremendous loss, particularly in the absence of enough in this world to help them come to terms with it. The tragedy of what Neelix experienced when he was younger combined with his relative isolation among the crew -- no one else can understand what he's gone through, and he's the only Delta Quadrant native on the ship (besides, notably, Naomi) -- mean that this story makes perfect sense as a Neelix one, to me, not because of the religion but because of the under-processed loss he's experienced.

Neelix's behaviour here seemed so consistent with what I knew about him, to me, that I had to go back and check the Rise transcript to confirm that he didn't specifically mention anything religious/spiritual when describing his sister Alixia. What he actually says is that he talks with her (and the rest of his family) every night, and I think I had mentally added that he does so in a kind of prayer in ways consistent with his beliefs, though checking it Rise doesn't make this idea explicit and so it is a bit of a retrospective element of this episode. And so, okay, yes, the episode certainly goes out of its way to sell Neelix's connection with Talaxian customs (through the festival week material and his statement about the Great Forest to Naomi), in ways that previous episodes didn't, which smacks of contrivance. And yet -- we know that Neelix has mixed feelings about his homeworld from his own unresolved feelings about the war; we know that he loves Talaxian spices and that suggests some desire to continue to link to his cultural heritage; in Day of Honor, he told B'Elanna he's generally a fan of traditions. And in the scene with Naomi, I can understand why he'd open up to a child about his beliefs in a way that he wouldn't to a crew largely composed of adult largely secular scientists. Even there, though, the specifics of his belief don't seem that important to me for the story: what's important is the idea that Neelix had found a belief system which gave him hope that he would see his family again, and that the pain of losing the notion of ever seeing them again would send him into a huge crisis, and make him not want to continue living. It just makes so much sense to me that Neelix would have patched himself together, imperfectly, to deal with his huge war-trauma of the loss of his entire family, and his eventual separation from everyone of his own kind; with Kes' breakup and her leaving entirely, he loses his last connection even to anything near what he considered home, as well as the possibility of romantic love and maybe even a family (which he did consider forming with Kes back in, ack, Elogium). Things just keep being taken away from Neelix, and several episodes (Jetrel, Fair Trade, Rise) make clear that his cheery exterior cannot really hold indefinitely, and that there is an abyss of sadness inside. I'll add that the nanoprobes element, and the total unfamiliarity of Seven of Nine and Borg technology, further cause alienation of him from his own body, which remains the last element of him which remains of Talax/Rinax (and of his family), so that in bringing him back Neelix feels that even his own body has betrayed him.

I don't think of Neelix's suicide attempt as being contradictory to his wanting to be a part of the Voyager family, or of his panicky actions in Fair Trade to maintain his place there, either. Neelix *does* eventually listen to duty (to Naomi) as a reason to stay in this world, after all. But he also indicates part of the problem when he says that that Neelix has already died. Neelix's varied roles for the crew depend on him keeping the faith, keeping a cheery exterior, and if he can't do that, what use is he to them? This is a self-centred perspective, because of course people don't *only* value Neelix because of his upbeatness (and in some senses would value him more if he were a little less obnoxiously upbeat), but with his family being taken from him *again* and the reality of his loss (and loneliness) hitting him, I think he really can't imagine having to live the life in the identity that he's formed for himself on Voyager. To give an example, if Neelix really could not shake his despair, what use would he be as a babysitter to Naomi, who would surely sense the sadness under his exterior and learn that the universe is a horrible place, and not one that it's worth fighting to stay in? Even after Fair Trade, Neelix still doubted his usefulness constantly, just in a different key, and I think in his grateful suicide note we get the sense that he values what the crew have done for him, but does not *really* believe that he's going to be missed all that much, and just hopes that maybe they'll have fond memories of him. Even Janeway's telling him "you won't get off that easy" and keeping him on the ship in Fair Trade could be seen in retrospect as an act of pity. Neelix knows that they mostly don't take him seriously, and there are all kinds of signals throughout the episode that despite his hard work, most of the crew does take him for granted. More to the point, I think Neelix understandably thinks that they don't really understand him, and can't really understand or support him in his recognition of what his family's death -- and of his newfound realization that maybe he won't ever see them again, in any form -- and why he so readily jumps to turning inside himself, lying to others, and eventually breaking down and lashing out. There's a parallel to O'Brien in Hard Time lashing out at Molly, but here Neelix lashes out far less -- in his yelling at Seven -- but I think that Neelix feels a similar brokenness in himself after that point, and no longer believes himself to be the person the ship needs, and so feels he has nothing to live for.

Chakotay's reaching him at the end is contingent on someone showing real need for him, but even that need is selfish, and there's a sadness to Neelix having to put aside his own despair purely because he's needed by others, and not because he wants to continue; but the ending, in which Neelix tells Naomi the story again, manages to recast the (apparently literal) belief that he will see his family again into a myth which he passes down to comfort a child who is scared of the dark -- a metaphor, of course, for us being afraid of what it is that lies for us in the unknown. Naomi invents monsters so that Neelix will come to save her from the dark (the void; nothing; death) and give her comfort by telling her stories; what adults have to do is to learn to tell themselves the stories, and to maybe half-believe/half-not-believe them.

I guess I will say that making Neelix's role as godparent to Naomi central to the episode maybe is a bit of a cheat since *that* hadn't been established in previous episodes (or even Naomi's name), but to the show's credit, Voyager *does not* drop this element of Neelix's character. I also think that it does seem plausible to me that it could work its way into one of Neelix's amorphous "duties," and also that since we see Neelix with less frequency than we see the other main characters, that we might not have known about it before now. As far as the content of Neelix's crisis of faith being largely ignored in upcoming episodes: well, I'll wait and see. (SPOILERS: I think Homestead maybe pays some of this off by showing Neelix finding other Talaxians who have suffered similar losses? But then again, maybe not. I forget.) Other aspects of the show are sometimes obvious -- I found Neelix's vision quest to be a little too rote, for instance, and I find Samantha Wildman's showing up in the transporter room after Neelix doesn't answer his commbadge for a minute to be very obnoxious -- and so I don't think this is a full classic. But I think it's a really moving character tale about a maligned and often mis-handled character. 3.5 stars.
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Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

Oh sorry I didn't fully read your post!

I guess it COULD be a red herring, like STID's Khan but that seems like to much effort and thought on CBS's part.
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