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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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Skywalker
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

I thoroughly enjoy this episode. Thanks to these reviews, I have some adulthood clarity to refine my criticism, so I agree with what Jammer et. al. have said, especially how this was Voyager's blueprint season (thanks to Braga, that ass-clown).

But the TNG characters are so much better than in VOY! So with a silly episode like this, it feels earned. I suppose that makes it a mere guilty pleasure, but I'm still laughing at the fun moments watching it today, like lizard-Spot's pink collar! Adorable. And how Picard flips out when Arachinald Barclay jumps at him, the same exact way I freaked that time a cockroach flew at me. Hilarious!

Three cheers for totally impractical palm-held flashlights! Hey Starfleet, the 20th century called; they said, "Use handles, dummies!"

It occurs to me that the "1,011 life forms" aboard have nothing to eat and probably no replicator skills anymore. What happens when you let a thousand zoo animals mingle? — How many crewmen did Worf eat alone?

And speaking of eating: sorry, kittens, no milk from Spotted Liz means rapid dying.

But, those are the only two problems I have with this episode, haha.
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John Stobbart
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I

I agree Paul. I come here after the episodes. If somebody wants to comment on something that happens in part 2, they should do it for the comments for part 2
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Justus
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Marauders

Why didn't the Klingons just beam back down behind everyone and open fire?
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Robert
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: A Taste of Armageddon

@grumpy_otter - I thought the argument was that if we allow trans women into the girls bathroom then other people with a penis with follow suit. I didn't think we were actually afraid of the trans people, but I'm not sure. As though the only thing stopping them from entering the bathroom to do God knows what to (for some reason) unsupervised little girls is that other penis possessing people aren't supposed to go in there. But if we facilitate the allowance of this by not passing new laws... God knows what will happen. At least this is what I think Ted Cruz was saying. My day is always confusing when I wake up and find Donald Trump making sense.
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grumpy_otter
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: A Taste of Armageddon

Vance, if I could attach a video clip, it would be of me giving a standing ovation to your comment. Indeed, we are so removed from war that we might as well be like the idiots presented in this episode. It is a shameful aspect of our culture that these "removed wars" have become commonplace to us. I teach history, and find my college-age students so oblivious to our wars, and so accepting of them, that I sometimes want to slap them.

Additionally, in relation to the episode, my mother always taught me that I must "respect others' beliefs." I accepted it as a child, but around about age 16 I turned to her and responded, "Not if they're stupid." And that's how I feel about this episode and the prime directive. If a culture embraces stupid beliefs, then I will NOT respect nor cooperate with those beliefs,

As to who is the arbiter of whether or not a beliefs is stupid--there are certain standards of behavior that harm no one. If your beliefs violate that, then they are stupid. At the moment, I am speaking specifically of idiots who cannot comprehend the reality of transgender individuals, and think transgender women only do it to "get at" young girls in the restroom. Those are stupid and ignorant beliefs and I will not respect them. And I will fight them as I am able.

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Diamond Dave
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Rajiin

I thought this was OK. From a very ToS style opening (even the music) it opened up through a decent twist into a stock but competent action finale. What marked it out for me through were the levels of continuity we're now getting. When was the last time a standalone episode like Extinction got referenced directly the following show? And with the Xindi story moving forward as well it at least seems like story progress was being made. 3 stars.
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AmagnonX
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Virtuoso

This was an excellent episode - and I completely disagree with Jammers assessment of the aliens - they were extremely consistent, and it was the understated and frank flatness of the Tincoo that foreshadowed what was coming. It was like watching the Doc run full tilt at a brick wall - the anticipation of the impact was reasonably suspenseful .. when will he work this out, when is he going to wake up?

If the aliens were nice - this would never have worked - their holier than thou attitude was supposed to be annoying - in fact I found it quite amusing. They did deserve a few kicks though - but nobody delivered. "I'm sorry - Gandalf isn't signing any more autographs - you'll just have to go back to the Shire."

The idea that the Doc wouldnt leave the ship, that he fell for it too easily? Hah - the Doc's ego has never been under control - and it is the cause of most of the flak he gets from the crew. We always see the Doc misreading sarcasm - its not new, and his ego has never been under control, and neither has his sense of under appreciation.

This situation hits both of his principle flaws - and hits hard - I had no problem with the premise of his character just loosing control under the circumstances - I would have been surprised if he had shown any caution. Its always been very clear - the Doc is always ready to listen to anybody who strokes his ego.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Extinction

A fairly comprehensive misfire. 'Bad Voyager' is as good a summary as possible - and as others have noted what is a particular shame is this is completely divorced from the broader Xindi arc which seems a strange choice so early in it.

Good things - the teaser intro was excellent, as were I thought the sound FX. But that's it - everything else fell into the cliched, the banal, or the outright boring. 1.5 stars.
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Diamond Dave
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Anomaly

Definitely seems that the tonal shift is here to stay. The Expanse seems to offer the anomaly of the week options of Voyager crossed with the darker, more gritty atmosphere seen on DS9. Will it work here? Well in terms of dramatic action, most definitely yes. In terms of character development? I wonder.

To me, avenging angel Archer is just about credible. But I'd agree with all those who thought successful torture was unpalatable in the series - it is very much a child of its times and perhaps dated because of it. Perhaps more interesting is Trip's character shift - even the famously fatalistic Reed is trying to get him to see the bright side.

Overall, I thought this looked stunning, was dramatic and entertaining, but left me feeling just a little queasy about the future direction of the show. Gritty and realistic can be good, but a series that takes Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as its inspiration needs to play very carefully in that realm. 2.5 stars.
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William B
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

Though of course Robert is right about the draft in the US in particular -- since the draft has not been invoked and is not likely to be invoked (or at least, that is how it seems to me), it has no current bearing. Insofar as it has historical bearing, so does the fact that women had no right to vote until the early 20th century, and any number of other limitations on women's rights which have since been amended.
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William B
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

@Robert, hear hear.

Also, one presumes that the deck cannot be stacked against boys, because we have evolved this system and therefore it is the best. Just as this episode is the product of the whole of human evolution, and is therefore the best.

To be fair, though, I actually agree that there are specific areas, some of them very important, in which men are (if I could use that term) discriminated against. That men are drafted to fight in wars (frequently against their own interests) is tragic, though not specifically because women are not. However, I think that men are drafted or circumcised or whatever has little bearing on the question of why there are a greater number of male leaders than female.

As for women in STEM fields, look: If we are looking at anything but the very recent past, women did not have the opportunities that men had. Emmy Noether, maybe the most brilliant mathematician of the 20th century, had to work without pay for years and years and even after gaining approval from the most renowed mathematicians of the age had to lecture under Hilbert's name until 1919 because the philosophy department refused entry to a woman. University math and science departments are still frequently hostile to women -- fellow grad students who were female have indicated which male professors they simply have to avoid for fear of sexual harrassment, which limits career options. The point is not that the male dominance of STEM fields is necessarily 100% the result of discrimination, but I strongly disagree with the notion that relative historical and even recent absence of notable female figures in STEM proves that women lack potential in those fields and thus that we know that girls suck at math generally.
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Robert
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 8:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

"No. Society, first of all, doesn't have parameters for greatness. It has qualities which are more practical, or less, for the aim of achieving greatness. And it's those practicality which define what qualities are valuable. "

Actually it does in a lot of ways. Considering we were talking about sports and chess and I can't think of one that was invented by a woman. So in some spheres it clearly matters. Obviously Einstein is going to be awesome by any standards.

"No he doesn't."
"1) There are other differences."

Deep thoughtful rebuttals here.

"2) This has nothing to do with "male activism", and neither does anything DLPB said."

There's overlap. Male activists are often proponents of male exceptionalism in the workforce (ie the concept that because males are so awesome at the things that society needs for the most part and women are so awesome at babies that men should go out and make the money while women stay home barefoot and pregnant). I'm not trying to paint you as one of those people, but there is overlap in MRA arguments and what's being said here. If you disagree go Google "Mens Rights Activism".

"Amazing truism. It doesn't negate the fact that there are differences beyond physical strength."

You're going to see in a minute why this truism is so important....

"There is a difference between men and women when it comes to mental ability. And the difference is that on a scale of intelligence, women trend toward the middle, while men have a wider trend. Meaning that both the dumbest and the smartest tend to be men, while women trend toward the intellectual middle-ground. And this does cause an achievement gap. Among other things. It gives men a leg up in intellectually strenuous fields like those in STEM, and they're also more inclined towards taking an interest in those fields."

Any proof on that besides correlation? The fact that there are few women in STEM does not mean men are better at STEM unless you remove all other variables from the equation. The reason I constantly cite correlation!=causation is because it's a really simple concept that few people actually are capable of processing because they think they understand data. But if you have proof beyond correlation I'd love to see it.

"No it hasn't. They are the ones who have the most government assistance, are politically represented without having to consent to being forced into war, and are the ones that actually have greater legal rights. Not just in regards to voting, but in regards to reproductive rights, and the right to not have one's genitals mutilated at birth. And there are many more disparities, like the fact that the education system actually is stacked against boys (both by human bias and by the institutional framework). Which is reflected in the fact that men are the minority of college graduates. Yet, despite the fact that you deny any inherent differences beyond physical ability, they still massively dominate STEM fields, the ones they more often take interest in and the ones that are arguably the most intellectually challenging. Funny, that."

Some of these arguments are preposterous, others slightly more interesting (though I won't say better). First of all, sodomy is still against the law in some places technically but we have universal gay marriage. I think there may even still be anti-interracial marriage laws still on the books, though a few places dealt with that a few years ago so maybe they are all gone now. The draft laws haven't been updated because we've had an all volunteer army for 50+ years. Old outdated laws tend to sit around gathering dust. If someone tried to arrest someone for having a blow job in their own house I promise that law would be addressed. And if the draft were ever to be reinstated it would be reexamined. For all intents and purposes unless you're retired, you've never seriously worried about being drafted.

I think circumcision is stupid, but I'm not sure it has a bearing here. People are allowed to all number of stupider things to their kids (especially in the name of religion... which is the origin of circumcision). That's more an issue of children not having any rights to protect them against stupidity than it has to do with gender differences. For God's sake kids have died because their parents don't believe in blood transfusions or vaccinations! I'd be all for taking away parent's ability to be stupid.

Now that I've wasted breath on some of the more ridiculous nonsense I'll get to the actual meat of that which is that the deck is stacked against boys but they are so awesome at STEM that they rise above that. To support you cite that the majority of college graduates are girls but the majority of STEM graduates are boys. This is still, largely, a substance less argument based on correlation. It's actually an interesting thought that academia in general is leaving more boys behind and it's entirely possible that it's true. That doesn't necessarily prove that "the education system actually is stacked against boys (both by human bias and by the institutional framework)" but it probably is a problem that needs addressing. That said... how does women graduating at a higher rate then men prove that STEM fields are not stacked against women? These data points are not even related. I could use it to "prove" the opposite! STEM is SOOOO stacked against women that even though there are more women in college and more women graduating college there are so little women in STEM fields. That's how stacked it is!

This is why taking 2 different sets of data points and correlating them together to make an argument is pointless. You need to have something else backing up your assertion!

"Tell me more about how the deck is stacked against women, because I haven't even gotten started yet. "

Your right, you have not! I do not yet see the beginning of an argument. I see a lot of random thoughts, opinions and unrelated data points though.

"Thirdly, "typically male" forms of intelligence are valuable not because men have been dominant and have stacked the deck in their favor, but because they are valuable for practical purposes. "

I can give you a real world example and a possibly hypothesis for how this is not necessarily true. In my field, a STEM field, most of the professors/text book authors are male. Perhaps, as you say, most of academia is stacked against boys. This might make sense if girls and boys brains worked differently. After all women are the primary educators in the lower grades (until I hit high school I was probably running 90% women... and until I hit 7th grade I was at 100% women teachers). So if women and men's brains work differently (which I actually think they might) all of the teaching and testing might be in a way that's easier for girls, since girls are the ones making the lessons/tests. So back to my field. Is it not possible that it's harder for women in these classes the same way it is for men in other classes? And when you add in the cultural biases that make STEM intimidating for women couldn't you see that playing a part? In the Seven Sisters colleges they fill their STEM classes. Often taught be women as well. But I will say that as a manager in a STEM field I find mixed groups tend to come up with more creative solutions to problems. It can be a lot of things but in my feeling male "forms" of intelligence in my field are not better but just different. Having different views on a problem is a good thing. I wish I could hire more women at my company because I value their contributions to their teams.

In conclusion your argument thinks very highly of evolution and the natural order but concludes that we reached these societal divisions in gender because they are for the best. With all due respect... I think that's a lot of crap. Evolution does not take place over such a short period of time and the truth is that my brain would have been useless a century ago. Nobody would have wanted me to go to school for engineering. As a man I'd have been responsible for working on the farm or some other manually labor most likely. Sure there were always scientists but in reality men worked and women did babies because people had broods and the work was very physical. When we switched to more people doing office jobs women kept doing babies because that's what they had been doing.... but they had been doing that because they were more suited to babies than they were to physical labor! That was your evolution! It has nothing to do with STEM. There weren't tens of thousands of yearly STEM graduates 100 years ago!

You want it to be true that because men were better at the most valuable non-baby job 100 years ago that they are still better at the most valuable non-baby job today. Because that suits your world view. Not because you have any facts to back it up.
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