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STEVEN LYLE JORDAN - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 4:38pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

We know that Wrath was developed from the original series episode Space Seed, in which Khan and his followers, products of the Eugenics Wars, were discovered in a stolen sleeper ship hundreds of years after they (take note) lost their war to rule Earth. These so-called physical and intellectual supermen then tried to take over the Enterprise, but (again) lost, and were banished by Captain Kirk to a small uninhabited planet “to rule.”

Which should tell you right off that these guys weren't the great s#!+s they thought they were.

Fast-forward about 25 years, to a movie that depicts the Enterprise being used as a training vessel (yeah… for the most celebrated ship in the Federation fleet, and recently refit to-boot, that makes sense), and the Reliant, a survey vessel from the same Federation that is apparently not smart enough to notice that the solar system they’ve entered, which has been mapped by Federation ships before (including the Enterprise) is now missing a planet. In fact, another planet has supposedly been moved out of its original orbit (something else the crew of the Reliant should have noticed), but instead of changing the temperature severely, the planet gets stoopid dust storms. Naturally, they find the surviving members of Khan’s group, but can’t say the words “Beam us out!” fast enough to avoid being captured.

Khan—the leader of “superior intellect”—has responded to the decaying quality of “his” planet, and the death of his non-genetically-improved wife, by apparently going insane, caring about nothing save the death of the man who bested him, James T. Kirk… even if it means the death of the last of his followers in the process. Instead of accepting change and hardship, he’s gone from super-intelligent leader to vengeful sociopath despot.

A great deal of my angst over this movie is in its bad story and sloppy editing, leaving characters hollow and pointless, and diminishing any salient story points to utter twaddle:

- Saavik has her part Romulan heritage left on the cutting room floor (yeah, didn’t know she was supposed to be half-Romulan… did ya?);
- Characters like Scotty’s nephew become nameless footnotes, lessening the impact of their later death scenes and wasting perfectly good pathos;
- Chekov and Terrell can’t just beam out of Khan’s world before Khan’s guys can cross a few dozen yards of sand to catch them;
- Khan “remembers” Chekov, despite the fact that they never met in the original Trek episode;
- Khan, the man of “superior intellect,” apparently responded to the loss of his wife and the change in his planet by going insane with thoughts of revenge on Kirk… but none of his “superior” followers, including his son, have the stones to explain his obsession to him, or take steps to prevent their all being destroyed by the man;
- “Superior intellect” Khan on the Reliant could have had earworm-controlled Captain Terrell greet Enterprise and bring them within transporter range; whereupon Khan could have beamed over with his crew, taken over a superior starship and killed Kirk and crew personally. Instead, he pulls a sneak attack with a science vessel against a heavy cruiser, which he doesn’t know isn’t staffed by a shipful of professionals. The man exhibits the plotting ability of Daffy Duck.
- Khan’s son is the only one of the baddies group, other than Khan, who utters a word through the entire movie (besides “Aaugh!” when the Reliant is attacked—apparently genetic supermen make great redshirts);
- Khan’s followers are no better than slabs of meat (even the women), and in the end, we feel nothing about their being blown up… even Khan’s son’s death elicits no more than a yawn from the audience;
- We discover Kirk had fathered a son and never met him, nor kept in touch with him or his mother… and we’re supposed to actually care;
- The scientists are smart enough to hide the Genesis device on what appears to be a lifeless moon. The scientists then demonstrate they are not smart enough to hide with the device;
- One of the worms Khan dropped in Chekov’s ear could have been dropped into the ear of just one of the scientists in order to find the genesis device, preventing the need to torture the rest of them.

At the end, Starfleet-hater David tells Kirk that he’s “proud to be your son.” Why? All Kirk did was show up too late to save his scientist friends, beat up his son upon their first meeting, best Khan by conning him into making bad strategic decisions, get his ship beat to hell and a few random trainees killed or traumatized for life, and lose his best friend while saving his own skin. What’s to be so proud of?

And let’s face it, the whole Moby Dick theme (with lines from Melville’s book intentionally altered to use celestial references that Khan couldn’t possibly know) is just mondo lame… even when it’s presented by Ricardo Montalban, the one man in the universe who seems to be able to out-overact William Shatner.

Throughout, we suffer through cheap cinematic gags, like the radio dialog obviously written to make sure the slower viewers can follow the action from one scene to another; horror-movie shtick like Bones being distracted by a loose lab rat (Federation scientists still use lab rats?), then backing into the bloody dangling arms of a scientist, accompanied by a bloody close-up and embarrassingly-cliche “boo!” musical cue; the (eww!) worm-in-the-ear bit; the big ancient book and granny-glasses as elephant-obvious metaphors for how old Kirk and crew are getting; and the ridiculous new Star Fleet uniforms, obviously designed to look good in technicolor, maybe in a dress parade, and when a cadet wants to leave a bloody handprint on the breast, but not good for much else.

And I don’t even want to get into the most blatant sci-fi gag, the only thing more predictable than a death of a Star Trek redshirt: The death of a Black man in a science fiction movie; not to mention that Black man being Paul Winfield, the single most doomed Black man in SF movie history! The only cinematic gag I appreciated was James Horner’s music, which was tailor-made for dramatic presentations like this (all the same, you could make a drinking game out of the signature musical elements Horner loves to reuse, in every SF and adventure movie he does).

So, we come to the part that everyone says is the best part of the movie: The starship fights. Okay, considering this is the first time in the history of the franchise that we see the Enterprise (or any other starship in the Trek franchise) taking serious modern-special-effects battle damage, the battles were notable and memorable. Beyond that… meh. We see two starships close enough to spit at each other, but which still miss each other with regularity. We see those ships in a nebula, in reality a collection of mass and gasses that are spaced light-years apart… but here, a nebula is depicted like a technicolor fog bank a few miles wide. We get the whole “Khan displays two-dimensional thinking” bit, and we’re supposed to buy the premise that a “superior intellect” leader who could rule a world (albeit temporarily), steal away on a sleeper ship, steal a starship, who has presumably thought about attacking and killing Kirk for many moons, who knows how space works, and who’s probably heard of submarines, has never figured out three-dimensional warfare. We see the old TV-series holdover of having bridge equipment blow up when a piece of ship dozens of decks away gets hit with a phaser blast… so you know they’re connected.

And finally, we have the Tech-Of-The-Day, a device the size of a man that can change the life-potential of entire planets; and the stereotypical “countdown to disaster” when the genesis device is started—but they never just go off, do they? No, we have to suffer a melodramatic countdown for it to happen. But the Enterprise is crippled… oh noes! Will they die? No, because Spock manages to get the engines fixed mere seconds before it’s too late. Whew. And oh, yeah, Spock is now going to die of radiation poisoning. On a ship that runs on antimatter, in which everyone in engineering is dressed like the Michelin Man to protect them from something, but no one goes where Spock dares to tread without a suit, and after we’ve seen radiation sicknesses cured with hyposprays in episodes of the original series…

You see where this is going, I’m sure. Khan isn’t consistent to Star Trek, not the original series et al nor the particular episode in which it was birthed. It’s not consistent with science fiction, not even the Trek brand of sci-fi. And on top of that, it’s just not well put-together cinematically. Everything in this movie just comes off as being contrived in order to push some incredibly obvious emotional buttons, while ignoring how much (or little) sense they make. It’s showy, it’s pretty, it has more colorful Star Fleet uniforms… and it’s stupid. It’s about as realistic as The Blues Brothers, complete with stupid Nazis.

And this is the movie that fans declare is the best Trek film ever.

IqnaH QaD. (Go look it up.)

It’s funny how Trek fans, who like to proclaim the intellectual superiority of their program of choice, are amazingly unsophisticated when it comes to their preferred Trek movies. The even-numbered movies that most cite as “the best” are in fact the worst when it comes to science fiction realism, Trek continuity and downright story quality. And Khan leads the pack of guilty movies (okay, it’s second, right after The Voyage Home, and barely preceding the disaster right after that, The Final Frontier… but it has the virtue of being iconic of all of them).

The Wrath of Khan was a redshirts movie: Let’s do stupid stuff and beat up on each other, yargh! It was designed to impress Star Wars fans, who (let’s face it) weren’t nearly that concerned with trifles like science and storylines. It was fluff… pure, unadulterated fluff. It was designed to sell tickets and T-shirts (which it did, and very well).

You want good Trek movies? Star Trek: Generations is probably the best, in my opinion; followed by Star Trek: Insurrection. These movies had action, but they also had stories consistent with Trek continuity and the pseudo-science fiction universe that Trek was based within, paid close attention to the established behavior of Trek characters and didn’t go in any phenomenally stupid plot directions. Were they perfect? No; but let’s face it, Star Trek has never been a “perfect” show. But Star Trek has (almost) always had a way to look at the future that was thoughtful, humble and optimistic, and both Generations and Insurrection embodied that attitude.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 4:22pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

Hlau,

Good point. REALLY good point. It makes Odo seem very self serving here doesn't it?

Chris,

That's an interesting thought. If I understand you if the Defiant stays "again", they the 8000 disappear anyway?
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 4:13pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

Vylora,

I enjoy reading your reviews.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 4:08pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

I thought Robert O did well being a Klingon, but it was easy to not like Gowron.

Loved the eyes :-)
Vylora - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 2:58pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Mortal Coil

Deep, probing, prescient, relevant, heartbreaking. Outstanding episode on every level highlighted even further because of Ethan Phillips. Highly recommended.

4 stars.
Jack - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 2:50pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Author, Author

They describe San Francisco as "cold and rainy as usual", but every single time any Star Trek show has gone back to San Francisco it's been sunny. What luck.
Shaen - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 2:32pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

"Can you eject the core?"

"No, emergency systems are offline."

Man, how crappy are all the safety functions in Trek's version of the future? You've got what amounts to antimatter warheads zipping about the galaxy getting into precarious situations with no reliable way to avoid catastrophic failure.
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 2:05pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

It was hard for me not to eventually warm up to Robert O'Reilly's character :) But I suppose I shouldn't speak for the fan base! I was a little sad that he didn't have a happier ending.
Jack - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:53pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: Shadowplay

So this holographic system simulates illness (assuming they have any), pregnancy and childbirth, including presumably all the er, messiness, that goes with it...very thorough.

Jack - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:50pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

Well actually I never "liked Gowron for awhile", but you're right about K'mpek too.
Jack O - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:43pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

So the Enterprise D, "our" Enterpise shifts into another timline. But the people on board are still of the same age. Wesley Crusher wears a Starfleet uniform, so that means a underage kid is a full member of a warship? Who would have thought Starfleet would make military use of children....
Vylora - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:27pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Concerning Flight

I also very much like John Rhys-Davies and really enjoy what he brings to the da Vinci character. Unfortunately, this is not how I wanted to see him utilized. This is the first true clunker of this season (at least the utterly frustrating "The Raven" consisted of 50% awesome) as it serves absolutely no purpose other than seemingly being in love with itself and the aforementioned titular character. A few nice pieces of dialogue and reliable performances can't save this one.

Concerning flight? Ah...no thanks. I'll take the boat.

1 star.
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:19pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

And @Elliott - Picard wasn't a God but Sisko is the emissary of the very real prophets!
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:15pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"And it's all just a man made ideology"

But the Bajoran religion isn't. It's based on non-linear aliens in the only known stable wormhole with tremendous power who sent orbs to the Bajorans....
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:13pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke."

Huh? Can you tell me something in Bajoran religion that becomes wrong because the prophets are aliens? Anything? At all?
Vylora - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:00pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

A few notable flaws, mainly the ones that Jammer mentioned; but overall a nice allegory of how restricting personal freedoms can (and usually does) have unintended negative consequences. A good Tuvok vehicle with some decent enough guest star performances.

As to Chris P.: Holding Torres until everything is ready for the ingramatic purge is fundamentally different than any actual short or long term incarceration. Probably partially explains why the Mari were adamant about getting it started as soon as it was ready. They didn't want to hold Torres any longer than what was necessary. Also, one of the huge aspects of a lot of humanity in Star Trek is that of exploration, learning from other cultures, and bettering themselves from it. Janeway's answer wasn't "forced" by the writers as some sort of apology for Voyager's continued exploration. I do agree at times that there's a lot of contrivances in many episodes, however, but I understand the insatiable curiosity. Hell, I'll bet that a lot of the crew would be rather upset if Voyager did nothing BUT travel straight home. (:

All in all, it's not without its downsides but it is intriguing enough. Some food for thought supplied by meaty dialogue interspersed with great character interplay among the cast makes this a recommended viewing.

3 stars.
DLPB - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:59am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Also, what I hate about this episode the most is the ridiculous idea that religions should be respected the same as science is. No. Religions have caused, and do cause, a TON of problems. Islam is tearing numerous countries up at the current time, and has for centuries. Go back further, and other religions have had their fair share of death.

And it's all just a man made ideology. If Nazism was a religion, would we be expected to respect it? Don't make me laugh.
DLPB - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:53am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

I am not a fan of religion... at all. But the way it is treated here is so basic and with dice fully loaded. It seems to me like the writers tried to be as fair as they could be, but lacked any real understanding of the topic.

The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke.

There is no shade of grey here... it's just very very silly writing.
John TY - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:47am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Prey

Good episode, some meaty questions to ponder.

But I do have some issue with the resolution of the plot. Having Seven countermand Janeway's orders robs us of seeing how Janeway ultimately deals with the impossible decision she faces. I think it would have been good to see Janeway either relent on her moral stance for the good of her crew or deal with the consequences of doing the 'right thing'.

Also, the episode makes Janeway out to be totally adamant, seeing the situation as completely black and white, thinking that her decision is the only right way. Now I'm NOT saying her decision is wrong by any means but I think she should have shown some sign of the pain that decision would cause a Captain. Just because she believed her decision was the moral one doesn't mean she wouldn't have wept blood at the knowledge that the likely result was the capture or destruction of her ship and crew.

It reaffirms unfair stereotypes that having ideals and taking a moral standpoint is naïve and ultimately dumb by portraying Janeway as indifferent to the likely consequences of her actions.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:43am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Jack,

I agree. Check out my review over there.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:38am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Image in the Sand

Jack,

Agree. Hell, they are talking about doing the equivalent of 3D printing on the Moon or Mars to construct buildings. :-)
Vylora - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:20am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

As a whole, this two-parter was a well-performed and intriguing story when it comes down to it. Throughout, all characters involved deal with crisis, conflict, and struggles and, ultimately, we see it arrive to a conclusion that is the sum of its parts. Said conclusion may be that Voyager "reset" back to day one, but choices were still made in whatever alternate timeline for this to happen. Call it a contrivance, but then I'm not a temporal phycisist. As far as high-concept time manipulation stories go, this was a very good addition.

One standout aspect of this showing is in the sympathetic character of Annorax (played admirably by the always reliable Kurtwood Smith). In building the timeship, he inadvertently wiped a colony out existence that, among the inhabitants, included his wife and children. Him and his crew then spend two centuries trying desperately to undo the damage by utilizing the same process on other cultures and so forth. He justifies these actions in the belief, since he's wiping them out of the timeline, that it's not genocide. How can it be genocide if a people never existed? And do the ends justify the means if the end goal is to restore everything back to how it was?

Definitely some probing ideas in what is basically a disaster-themed slash time paradox episode. Everything else that is put forth here on the Voyager side is handled really well. A very good job on displaying a sense of urgency and dread despite knowing full well how it will end. Technically and visually brilliant. Most actions and dialogue by the beaten, battered crew was nicely realized and arose pretty logically from what we know of them.

I submit that, despite seeing elements of this two-parter as lost potential in that said elements could have been part of the series as a whole in one form or another, this episode like any other can really only fairly be judged based on its own merits.

I suppose the ending itself could have been handled differently. It DOES feel like an absolute reset-button for the Voyager side. I liked quite a lot the closing shot of Annorax, back in his century, doing his calculations on a datapad shortly before being summoned by his wife. However, it was confusing. Does he somehow know by his calculations to not go through with the idea because of the events as shown in the episode? I'd like to think so. If anything, it means that all that transpired did, in fact, have consequences. Even if those consequences aren't currently known by Voyager's crew.

If there's any real demerit to these episodes; it's the confusing inconsistencies from last season's "Before and After" that, I think, should have had some sort of explanation. Otherwise, it just comes off as yet another issue with the continuity that is, at times, endemic to the series.

3.5 stars each.
William B - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 9:32am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

I also *really* like the idea, from Jeff, that this is what plants the seed for Spock to become interested in Vulcan/Romulan reunification. I have problems with the "Unification" two-parter, but the basic idea of it -- that Spock's big final project is to reunite the Vulcan and Romulan peoples -- is a good one and I think a fitting way to close out that character's story. (A better way than "and then his attempts to save Romulus from total destruction send him BACK IN TIME where he's being attacked by vengeful Romulan miners," obviously.)
William B - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 9:31am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

This is a lot of fun. It seems to follow the James Bond spy template -- but it splits the Bond role into Kirk and Spock, where Kirk does the action hero material and Spock, for once, is the one to seduce and "use" the attractive enemy woman. It also shows the advantages of working in genre -- because Kirk's transformation, being surgically altered to look Romulan, may in fact be based on Bond having makeup to make him "look Asian" in "You Only Live Twice," which, for obvious reasons, has aged very poorly.

In all seriousness though, this episode seems like there's an inversion built into the script from an early stage. I can't help but thinking that if this were a more conventional TOS episode, Kirk and Spock's roles would have been switched. Spock doesn't have to be surgically altered to pass as Romulan, and so he's the more logical choice from a plot perspective to pretend to be a Romulan. And Kirk had several episodes in season two of seducing women to get what he wants; this would rather obviously be in Kirk's wheelhouse. To be clear, I'm talking not about the plan of the Enterprise crew, but the plan of the writers making the episode. Whether this was considered or not, the inversion -- with Spock getting the girl and Kirk doing the plot gruntwork -- I think enhances the overall feeling that something is unusual and off in this episode, underlining the plans-within-plans aspect of the show. It also means that Spock has the emotional core of the episode, as well as the "romantic lead" aspect usually given to Kirk, which contributes to the feeling that Kirk and Spock's roles (as captain and first officer) have switched, which runs parallel to the Commander's offer to Spock of his own command.

I was trying, while watching this time, to figure out whether it was possible that first-time viewers would believe that Kirk had actually gone insane from being out in space too long, and whether Spock would actually be tempted by his own command and by a relationship with an attractive Romulan Commander. Ultimately I don't think so, and I don't think that's necessarily the episode's intention. I think the audience is meant to intuit that there is some missing information that will explain Kirk and Spock's behaviour, and that all will be revealed at the end. Still, the ruse works by playing up aspects of the characters already present. Kirk's longing for adventure and his edge-of-the-seat intuitive style of leadership is twisted into pure reckless glory-hunting. Spock's rejection of his human half in favour of his Vulcan half and smug sense of his own intellectual, physical and spiritual superiority is twisted into a longing to be rid of humans altogether. And more to the point, the episode also functions by revealing that while Kirk and Spock were indeed playing roles, there was some truth in this. In the Kirk plot, Kirk's motivation was not individual glory-hunting, and he was operating on Starfleet orders; but the morality of stealing the Romulan tech through espionage is actually a little questionable -- insane personal glory hunting is replaced by a minor form of institutional adventurism. And Spock develops real feelings for the Romulan commander, which he admits at the end. The early themes of betrayal -- Kirk betraying everyone for his own ego, Spock betraying Kirk and the rest at the sign of the possibility of advancement with people in some senses more like him -- comes to be twisted at the very end, where the big betrayal of the episode turns out to be Spock's betrayal of the Romulan commander. Vulcans can lie.

D.C. Fontana (from Memory Alpha), wrote this of the episode:

"Overall it was not a bad episode, but I did have a lot of complaints about it and things that weren't approached or handled right...Let's face it, the romantic scene between the Romulan Commander and Spock was totally out of context. Any Romulan worth her salt would have instantly suspected Spock because they are related races. That was wrong. Kirk's attitudes were wrong. A simple thing–the cloaking device was supposed to be a very small thing, about the size of a watch, for instance, and it could be easily hidden. Here's Kirk running around with this thing that looks like a lamp. You know, highly visible. This is stupidity as well as illogical thinking. Visually it was stupid, conceptually it was very bad. There were a lot of things, little things, that were changed, but my biggest objection is the scene between Spock and the woman, because I really did not believe it. And I did not believe that the Romulan did not suspect Spock of something underhanded. She does know enough about Vulcan and Vulcans to know that something's afoot."

I see her point with these criticisms in general. I'm not that bothered about Kirk running around with the big cloaking device, because it's not the type of detail that normally bothers me. I was finding the Romulan commander's credulity with Spock a little hard to swallow, though, and thinking on it. I do think she should have maintained her distrust of Spock all the way through; to give a comparison, check out Janeway in Voyager's "Counterpoint." That said, I think it does work to some degree. She doesn't "trust" Spock immediately; she believes him, to a degree, because it makes sense that humans would be as foolhardy as Kirk is, and Kirk's reputation (from "The Trouble with Tribbles": "an arrogant, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood") makes sense of it; and she thinks that she can use Kirk's madness as the occasion to turn Spock to their side, with the possibility of a real emotional connection, impossible with humans, to sweeten the deal. She starts by playing him, and is played on the long run, because she is unprepared for the emotional connection that they share. And here, I think that the episode relies a little on the mysteries of the Vulcan touch. Had they slept together explicitly, this would not work. But Spock and the Commander touching fingers gently to each other is another story. We don't know what intimacy lies in that touch, and on some level neither does she. More to the point, she is a *soldier* and a *warrior*, and while she's practiced in deceit and seduction, I don't think she's prepared for someone with as much mental control as Spock -- so able, and so *willing*, to betray her while also sharing sincere feelings through touch.

That the small touch of fingers that Spock and the Commander share has an emotional import we in the audience can't fully understand -- can only speculate about -- both helps to solidify why she is so taken in by Spock, and reminds us of Spock's fundamental alien-ness. Spock is half-human, but he identifies with Vulcan, and in that sense he may have a closer kinship with Romulans. In case we didn't get it, Kirk's parading around in Romulan(/Vulcan) garb is the subject of a few less-than-generous jokes: Scotty telling Kirk he looks like "the devil himself," McCoy joking at the very end that Kirk should get back into surgery unless he wants to look like his first officer. The Enterprise crew respects and adores Spock, and Kirk and McCoy even love him (though it's a tempestuous kind of brotherly love in McCoy's case), but they are different, and Kirk's putting on Vulcan/Romulan features is just for show; the Vulcan side of Spock remains isolated because the humans can't quite understand it, and the human side of Spock remains isolated because Spock suppresses it. Spock is isolated from Vulcans because of his difficult relationship with his father, because his betrothed betrayed him, and because Spock senses that he is not whole as a Vulcan the way he wishes to be. It is strange to think that he could have a place among Romulans, but Romulans can understand the unbridled power of the emotions that Spock keeps locked down deep within him in a way that humans can't, and Spock's feelings of inadequacy that he is not a complete Vulcan carry less weight among the Romulans who have spurned logic alone. Spock's "choice" is between Kirk, who can only put on a Vulcan-like face for show in a moment, who can only very briefly step into Spock's world, and the Romulan Commander, who does seem to understand Spock's dilemma in a more fundamental way than anyone else, either human or Vulcan. But Spock is loyal. Spock is logical. Spock will not be swayed by what is good for him, because to do so would be betraying himself. He is never tempted -- he develops real emotions, and in a rare moment, perhaps because he is able to let his guard down talking about these things with the Commander who will not judge him for his Vulcanness as a human does or judge him for his humanity as a Vulcan might, he talks about them. But it is certainly not enough to betray the Federation.

In some senses, Kirk and Spock are the villains of this episode: they break into Romulan territory with a complicated deceit in order to steal Romulan technology. In the process, Spock seduces the Commander into believing him. The explanation given is, essentially, that they are under orders; that the new Romulan cloak will be very dangerous for the Federation. Spock admits at the very end that military secrets are the most fleeting of all, and there is a real sadness there: Spock's betrayal of the Commander is not even for any great, long-term victory, but the nature of the conflict between the Federation and the Romulan Empire means that both must stoop to spying, treachery and deceit even just to keep up with one another.

This episode really is very good. I think the Romulan Commander's credulity with Spock still strains credulity a bit, but it doesn't break it, and overall the Spock/Commander material is one of the series' very best, most effective romances. I don't know whether I'd go for 3.5 or 4 stars -- but, well, keeping in mind the season it's in, I don't mind giving this a full 4.
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 8:46am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

Except that K'mpek schemes like a Romulan petaQ to pin Duras' dishonor on a convenient target because he is away in the Federation and he's rewarded by having Duras poison him, just like he deserves.

And although we liked Gowron for awhile he started off by threatening K'Ehleyr for his own political gain and ended by trying to shame Martok for his own political gain.

And the scheme to dishonor Worf was so shared by the whole council that Gowron once refused to right the wrong just because he needed the council's support. So all the powerful Klingons were more politicians than honorable men.
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