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William B - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 9:27pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

I talked about it a bit, but I want to emphasize that there is something defeatist/destinyist in this show. No matter what Sisko et al. do, they cannot stop what is coming from happening, at least not as long as they believe in science. However, their belief in science ends up making the prophesy come true, which turns out to be a good thing (since the prophesy had been misinterpreted). That the original plan to get the wormhole communications relay set up probably wouldn't have worked is also somewhat implied, since it is only the selithium (sp?) in the comet that allows the wormhole to be permanently "open" and to let communication through. It is *very* much a "the Prophets work in mysterious ways" ending, which seems to suggest that a series of unlikely events came together to carry out what the Prophets foretold (through the orbs I guess) or even *caused* to happen through their will; this is what makes Sisko start to be a man of faith at the end.

Actually, this is not unique to this episode; in many ways, "Cause and Effect" and "Time's Arrow," while very...secular, also suggest something like fate operating (the glass that keeps breaking in "CaE," the way in which a series of unlikely events come to a head for Data...). "Time's Arrow" actually is very close to this episode, with the crew trying to avoid Data's death and yet bringing it about, but the literal satisfaction of the "Data dies" prediction does not necessarily work out as badly for him as it had to -- he survives, after all, even if his head does get severed and remain underground. The difference is that this uncanny and unsettling experience, which I think is something of an update of various myths featuring prophesies which come true in the attempt to defy them (ala Oedipus Rex or whatever), really is left in a separate category from religion, whereas "Destiny" very obviously puts this in a religious context. Which...is strange, because yes human religions are non-verifiable (and thus non-falsifiable). But within the context of this episode it mostly sort of works.

Anyway, I think I will go to 3 stars. I really enjoy the episode as a show, find its pacing and characterization generally strong. It is hard to quite get a handle on the show's religious dimension though, because of systematic elements of the show that I am uncomfortable with.
Jay - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 8:28pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S3: Transfigurations

The suffocation attack at the end of the episode was rather absurd...it was pretty much Q-like - any technological explanation for that capability would almost certainly be ridiculous.. And the lunacy that he could fix it shipwide by touching the wall was Q-ish too. Is that what these people are supposed to be on the verge of becoming?
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 8:00pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Accession

Kira: "we would have done anything you asked when we thought you were the emissary" No? you wouldn't? You went against his orders and requests literally all the time? There was constant tension on DS9 between bajorans and starfleet which you clearly opposed?

Also the Wormhole Aliens care about Bajor now? What?

This episode was a retcony mess
Kiamau - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 7:24pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S2: Q Who

Three brief comments:
1) yes, brilliant score!
2) Sonya dying would have been too predictable and I think it was smart to not kill her.
3) great shot when the away team is on the Borg cube and it pans out so show layer upon layer of Borg chambers. Seems The Matrix would borrow this idea. Great wow factor.
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 6:35pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Prophet Motive

@William B

I completely understand that frustration. The orbs are kind of just written off as "foreshadowing plot device X" pretty early despite the fact that they realistically should be a HUGE avenue of study. There is a joke floating around the internet that goes "If you ever feel lazy, just remember that the Ancient Greeks believed their gods lived at the top of a completely scalable mountain but never bothered to go check" and I suppose this may be a similar line of reasoning.

Maybe the idea is that the Bajorans won't because they're too religious and the church (which we've seen have considerable legitimate political power at times) forbids it and starfleet doesn't out of respect to the Bajorans and everyone else doesn't because the wormhole is being held by starfleet and the Bajorans.

A cult of Bajorans deciding to go visit would probably make a pretty cool episode/story arc though. A shame they never followed up on that opportunity.

Ultimately I think the real reason is that the writers didn't want to have to actually explain how the orbs/WA work since they frankly don't know. It's one of the problems with mortals writing a being beyond mortal comprehension, it's creators can't properly comprehend it.
William B - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:48pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Prophet Motive

@Easter, that's a really good point. It does bother me though that the "Gods" are *right there* and yet Bajorans persist in making claims about what the Prophets want of them, most of which seem to contradict what little information is available at this time, and that this is so rarely discussed. I think I understand the general psychology of it, but I wish that more of the non-Bajorans (or, better, some but not all Bajorans and some but not all non-Bajorans) would talk more openly about which of their religious traditions make sense in light of the actual discovery of the WAs right there, scientific study of the orbs, etc. That Sisko barely escaped in "Emissary" does help make sense to some degree of why everyone then stopped visiting the wormhole, though I'm not sure why Dax had to drop her "Emissary" task of doing a scientific investigation of the orb.

Thinking about how the orbs are not directly related to the WAs does help make more sense of why the prophesies are treated as completely nonverifiable except through faith (or waiting around and seeing).
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:22pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Prophet Motive

@William B
I think the show is trying to say that contacting the aliens is a terrible idea. The Bajorans won't do it because they see it as disrespectful. Sisko won't do it because last time he barely made it out alive and then only by arguing for his right to exist and they made it pretty clear they don't like or want visitors. A message he probably relayed to Starfleet. The prophesies are not from the wormhole aliens directly as much as from the orbs which are some sort of nonlinear time message system realted to/created by the WA but not controlled or monitored by them directly. I imagine if you went and asked the WA "hey, are the serpents from this one prophesy the cardassians?" they'd be all "What's a cardassian? also what's a prophesy? also what's a serpent? also how dare you speak to me?"
William B - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:19pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

Great comment, Easter. I just rewatched this episode and am going to write about it soon, but you have said much of what I'd like to say, and very clearly.
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:15pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

@methane: my exact problem as well.

So the reason this one doesn't work for me is that A) they fail to cast Ishka as a sympathetic character B) they act like "Rules of Acquisition" never happened and C) there's no real character driven actions in the resolution. Like, we have a what should be a woman, being oppressed and denied agency by her species going under the oppressive and corrupt government's nose and someone make her the bad guy. Quark is all "Hey. You're going to completely ruin our entire family financially and doom us all to a life slavery and destitution" and she's like "I don't give a shit. I want my money." like, if they had made her part of some feminist movement intentionally flaunting her profits to make a point then I could get behind her. If they ever once implied she was torn about the fact she was going to screw Quark and Rom in doing this I could get behind her. But they don't. Also, the fact that Quark never once shows that he learned from Pel and is like "Yes. I know women can earn profit and all that. I dealt with one a few years ago. But here's the thing..." *points at arrest warrant showing they clearly already caught her and the jig is up*

And then in the end... something happens? I guess? They bond as a family and Ishka agrees to play along with the government (completely undermining her stance for the entire episode) Quark does nothing to accomplish any goals (making him an unsatisfying protagonist) Rom never really had anything to lose and doesn't really clearly have a plan for anything besides bringing his family together which he only kinda does? somehow? (making him also a failure as a potential protagonist even though he clearly isn't cast as one)

The ferengi episodes all have such potential (well, some of them have potential) and if the writers would just have the characters in universe take the culture seriously I could enjoy it, but they seem content to make everyone but Quark see the Ferengi the way the viewers do and it just doesn't work.
William B - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:14pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: The Adversary

Well, so ends season three. I'm going to loop back and talk about the last few episodes of the season soon, but the finale is fresh in my mind.

I have little to say about the main plot elements of "The Adversary." It is reminiscent of something like the John Carpenter version of The Thing, though not as effective. It is an action story, a spooky enemy story, and at times a paranoid thriller. On the last part, the "whom to trust?" question is dealt with most frustratingly in the increasing number of times people get separated (at one point, Odo and Eddington are separated with no explanation whatsoever, after we've already had several scenes); something about the way that Bolian security ensign flips out at Kira registered as particularly fake and over-the-top. And ultimately, most of it was hard for me to get into as an action show, because I kept getting annoyed at the choices that were being made. Send teams of more than two people, so that it would not be easy for the shapeshifter in a team of two to sneak up on the other one; make use of the "nonessential" personnel (WHY ARE THERE "NONESSENTIAL" PERSONNEL ON THIS MISSION?) as well as the security people and senior staff, at least for extra eyes; have more than one guy protecting O'Brien working in Engineering, and when there are two Odos standing there, either stun both of them or at least send both of them to the brig, since one of them is definitely the changeling. This is in addition to the idea that Sisko's first action as captain is to follow the orders of an ambassador without doing any checking whatsoever on the veracity of his statements, leaving the station defenseless since he takes the entire senior staff on this trip whose purpose is to "show the flag." (On the changeling side, why does he keep Bashir alive? I don't get it.)

The compelling personal element to this story is Odo being forced to kill another changeling, and the episode sets this up pretty clearly by having Odo remind us of the "no changeling has ever harmed another" bit, as well as Odo's comment that he has gone his life without killing anyone. Given Elliott's pointing out in his review of "The Adversary" just a day or two ago that Odo is horrified at the idea that he is a monster, yes, but even more so that he is a CRIMINAL, I like how Odo's action here runs against Odo's whole code -- Odo doesn't use weapons, Odo doesn't kill, Odo is not a criminal, but here he kills and breaks the most fundamental taboo of his people. It's an especially interesting moment because of the quasi-rape of the other changeling trying to force a link on Odo, and Odo's partly instinctual, almost angry reaction leading him to push his adversary into the warp field, causing his death; Odo certainly was protecting the Defiant crew (and the Alpha Quadrant, as a result), but I think the violence also comes out in part because of the intense violation of his personal boundaries, which is made even more intense by the fact that he *wants* on some level to Link with the changeling, but has to fight against it. In some senses, we have a bit of a version of this with Dr. Mora, where Odo is made angrier with Mora's attempts to get close to him because Odo wants to on some level; but this is even stronger. The severing of Odo's connection to his people via killing also has particular impact after the way "Facets'" Odo/Curzon thing found another way to approach Odo's changeling nature and loneliness, which, more on that when I write about that episode (I'm predictable, but still, I do think the Odo[/Curzon] material in that episode was largely its strongest bits). I think the episode maybe should have focused more strongly on Odo's headspace; there are hints of the other version of this story, where everything was filtered to some extent through Odo's experiences and the crew's affections for and anxieties about Odo -- see, for instance, Eddington asking Odo where he would go if he were the changeling and Odo's defensive reaction.

Sisko's promotion to captain: well, it is certainly appropriate for Sisko to be a captain given the amount of responsibility he has, with the increased strategic importance of DS9. Still, I really do feel like the teaser would have been sufficient, rather than laying on the HE'S A CAPTAIN NOW stuff repeatedly, especially when it really is true that this does not change anything, since it does not seem as if his duties or privileges are different in any practical way. (I also tend to think the episode should have *either* done the "this is my last commander's log" thing or the "my son the writer says I should say some words etc. etc. but all I can think of is: captain's log" log entry, but not both.) And what was up with that Eddington scene, with the "I really agreed with what Chief O'Brien said, about it being a long time coming" or whatever? I really have no idea. I wonder if it's meant to be character development for the obviously underwritten Eddington, but the whole scene just felt bizarre.

"It's too late. We're everywhere" is an impressive hook for next season, particularly after having an episode devoted to why changelings' abilities make them dangerous.

I think probably 2.5 stars.
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 4:55pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Bar Association

I feel my problem with this episode (along with Family Business) is that's it's predicated on me not liking Quark or sympathizing with the Ferengi nearly as much as I do. I don't agree with Klingon values either but when a klingon episode shows up I accept that their values matter to them and look at the characters as part of that culture. And the writers do the same. When a Ferengi episode comes up I still try to understand their point of view but the writers don't.

Like the last Ferengi episode with his mother, Quark is a model (Ferengi) citizen stuck between a ruthless government he CANNOT win against and someone going against that government and completely willing to throw him under the bus to get what they want and then he gets thrown under the bus despite being, narratively speaking, the protagonist of the story. Rom fills the role previously played by his mom and just decides "oh hey. I don't care about my entire species' ethos and culture anymore for some reason" which causes Quark to stare down the barrel of the government's gun. Rom/Mom continues to spit in the face of their own government, Quark get's in more trouble and then Rom/Mom wins despite facing no actual adversity. This is what I mean by Quark is the protagonist. He's the one with a problem to overcome who faces obstacles. Rom's story is "Rom decides he wants to strike. Rom strikes. Rom's brother gets beaten up very badly and almost dies and then, fearing for his life at the hands of his oppressive government, gives Rom what he wants. Rom quits his job." That's not a protagonist arc, Quarks story is "Quark's staff go on strike. Quark tries to run his bar without a staff and eventually Sisko comes in and strongarms him (yet again) into settling the dispute (Side note here: DS9 has been letting Quark operate rent free this whole time? Why? How? There's no way Quark has been going 4 years without a contract and Sisko has been failing to enforce payments from him. He hates Quark. I don't accept that premise) so Quark tries to bribe Rom and fails. The FCA show up and threaten Quark's brother so, fearing for his brother's safety, he tries to get him to listen to reason but his brother refuses. Quark goes back to the FCA and they almost kill him." now, if this was an episode about literally any other character this is the part where they would come up with some solution to get out of this problem but the show doesn't like Quark so instead he just capitulates to Rom's demands and loses. That's our protagonist right there.

Sorry, I don't suscribe to this Merchant of Venice, Shylock is the villain because he's greedy, crap. You can't cast Quark as the protagonist and as the antagonist and expect me to enjoy your narrative. You can't have Rom and Moogie being randomly Federation valued for no reason and just get away with it with no explanation or consequence and expect me to room for them. If you want a character to be part of an alien culture, they need to show appropriate respect for their own culture or an appropriate arc towards change or appropriate consequences for violating their culture.
Diamond Dave - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 2:36pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

The point of the episode is to do nothing more than tell the story of a people dead a thousand years. It's simple, it's to the point, it needs (and gets) no adornment and it lives on the power of its performances. "I always believed that I didn't need children to complete my life. Now, I couldn't imagine life without them" does reflect a tragedy of sorts relevant to Picard's life. And if you're not tearing up when he clutches the flute to his chest at the end, you should be asking if you're dead inside.

"Oh! It's me..." indeed. Wonderful, wonderful episode. 4 stars.
Easter - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 1:50pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: The Sword of Kahless

This episode is really disappointing to me. It started out VERY strong for me. I was excited to see Kor and Dax back together, it seemed a good way to tell an interesting Worf story (something that's proven challenging for the writers in the past) and actually pulled continuity in properly with the emporer (something DS9 often fails to do despite that being something of their USP in the Trek series') All of it up to the point where they get the sword is wonderfully done and had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see where this great adventure would go next... and then they wandered around in a bad cave set doing a bad LOTR LARP for 2 acts and threw the sword into space.

The idea that Kor would get power hungry and want to rule the empire? Sure. He's a former military commander who somewhat pines for the old days of the empire and knows his time has come and gone (as we saw in Blood Oath) It's an interesting heel turn that makes for an interesting story for Dax (His old friend whos loyalty is torn and now has to face killing the last of her old Klingon friends who she fought beside in Blood Oath) and Worf (the outsider who holds Klingon culture so close to his heart and looks up to Kor with such reverence, believing himself unworthy of his presence) now having to work together to stop him and get the sword back leading to a chase to a new fantastic location and... waitwhat? that DIDN'T happen? Worf became power hungry and evil instead and Jadzia just had to act like a chiding mother to both of the silly klingons? We learn nothing about Dax in this, we either have to believe the sword had magic powers like the one ring or accept that Worf would trick someone into falling to their death (let alone someone he holds in such high esteem) which completely shatters his character we've seen so far... and then they just like... throw the sword away?

The episode would have been much better if they toned done the Worf being evil, toned up the Kor being evil, spent money on a third set and made it a proper Indiana Jones style chase across the galaxy like The Chase. Possibly ending with Worf standing over Kor once again with the chance to murder him or spare him as he did Duras and Kor egging him to do it and be a proper Klingon and Dax telling him not to be and be a proper Starfleet Officer making the whole story a metaphor for his internal discord between these halfs of himself.

1 star.
Diamond Dave - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 11:25am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Next Phase

Colour this one a fun twist on a fairly worn theme. Yes, the premise may be fundamentally flawed, but it's carried forward with such verve it's easy to put that to one side.

The Ro/LaForge relationship works well - I particularly liked Ro's fatalistic initial interpretation for what was going on. And the episode nicely sets up the Romulans as particularly villainous, but in a subtle way. The phased Romulan is also a decent surprise - although one wonders if the chase sequence through the various cabins was not simply done to show off the nifty phasing effect. 3 stars.
Diamond Dave - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 10:26am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

A bona fide triumph of scriptwriting, in that the hitherto unstoppable machine of the Borg are given depth, and, yes, humanity.

You can argue about the moral necessities and justifications of genocide until you're blue in the face, but what this episode boils down to is whether once Hugh has shown his individuality there is any moral compass to using him as an instrument of that genocide. What the episode lacks is offering Hugh that choice as an outcome of his free will - were he to freely and willingly offer to transmit the 'virus' would that then be acceptable?

But as a character piece this is up among the best. For Picard and Guinan, the high points of humanity and rationality in the show, to be so relentlessly against the Borg is rooted within their personal experiences. And yet that humanity and rationality also comes into play as their ideas change when confronted with the facts of Hugh. Up to now, the Borg could not be negotiated with - here, now, perhaps there is a way.

"You gave him a name?" indeed. 4 stars.
Luke - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 9:40am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

"Starship Mine," or as I think it could legitimately be called, "Captain's Holiday 2.0".

Given how much I've criticized Picard as a dull and non-dynamic character, I'm honest and truly amazed that this episode works as well as it does. This is exactly what "Captain's Holiday" should have been. There they tried to humanize Picard by giving him some action-oriented things to do. Here they do the same thing (only switching from an Indiana Jones style adventure to an almost direct clone of "Die Hard"). The big difference is that here the action set-pieces actually work! The action in "Captain's Holiday" was nothing if not bland and nondescript. Here there is an actual sense of urgency and excitement about the plot. And having Picard be the "action hero" of the story works as well, surprisingly. Granted, if we're going to compare "Starship Mine" to "Die Hard" (and how the hell can't we?), then Picard is still certainly no John McClane. He doesn't come anywhere near close to that level of "action hero," but this is a definite step in the right direction. They took Picard out of his bookish comfort-zone and actually had him do some Kirkian heroics (and didn't mess it up). Bravo!

(As an aside, I just have to point this out - Patrick Stewart had some tremendous biceps! Did you see them in the scene where Patricia Tallman had him held at gunpoint?! Those things were huge!)

The episode also works because, unlike "Captain's Holiday," it has a wonderful atmosphere. Jammer is 100% right that the abandoned (and darkened) Enterprise creates, quite unexpectedly, the perfect ambiance for this story. And there's also the use of the villain. It's always nice to see female villains and we get two main ones here. I love how the usual villain dynamics are reversed - with the women being the clearly more strong-willed and the men being rather sheepish. And, I'm going to give this episode a full extra point on the score simply for having the balls to have Picard flat out punch Kelsey in the face during their fight in Ten Forward. Damn, that took guts! Usually when you have female villains and male heroes you never see that. That's because it will often lead to morons crying "sexism!" or "violence against women!" or some other nonsense. And, apparently, that's exactly what happened here with Michael Pillar - who heavily re-worked the episode because that made it "too violent." Yeah, apparently one punch to the villain is too much but having Kesley punch/kick Picard no less than five times in that same fight isn't "too violent." Not to mention the fact that she straight up murders one of her lackeys in cold blood. But apparently that's not "too violent" either. Why treat women like equals when we could treat them like delicate little flowers who have to be shielded from the consequences of their actions? Seriously, fuck that and fuck you Pillar. If you do criminal things, steal explosive material, get into fist fights and murder people, expect to have a punch or two thrown your way. Because that's a little thing called "equality." And, despite all the re-working, "Starship Mine" still presents the female character that way. Again, bravo!

But, the episode isn't perfect. The most noticeable blemish is the sub-plot on the planet with the rest of the senior staff. It's enjoyable enough for what it is and provides some good light-hearted comedy with Data's small talk. But once it turns into a hostage situation, it just feels completely unnecessary. All it achieved was to siphon off time that could have been spent with more cat-and-mouse games aboard the Enterprise. I think it would have worked much better if they had all been schmoozing at the reception the whole time and completely unaware that Picard was engaged in a life or death struggle. And there's the whole business about Picard's saddle. So he keeps a saddle on the ship; who cares?! Why is this such a big deal? I suppose this is as good a place as any to point out one of my HUGE pet peeves about Trek - the fact that everyone always dresses up for the holodeck. Why do we always see the characters leave the holodeck or enter it already dressed in period, or other appropriate, costume? The only reason I can think of is that the show-runners think it's funny to see the characters walk the hallways dressed in some silly outfit. It's not! It's annoying! Why aren't they just using holographic clothes?! And DS9 and VOY do this exact same thing all the time. It drives me crazy! Given all the ridiculous outfits these people clearly must be keeping on-board, a saddle seems rather mundane.

Now, granted, "Starship Mine" is a fluff piece. There's absolutely no doubt whatsoever about that. It's nothing more than an excuse to have some fun. Fluff pieces can be bad, like "A Matter of Time," or they can be enjoyable for what they are. This one is enjoyable.

Diamond Dave - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 8:52am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Imaginary Friend

TNG tries a fairly tale worthy of the Brothers Grimm - lonely little girl's imaginary friend comes alive and after making her do things she doesn't want to threatens to kill everyone. Clara is indeed an adorable and sympathetic character, and the blank portrayal of Isabella - especially in the rictus grimace as she attempts a smile - is genuinely creepy.

Unfortunately at the end it drops the ball a little - Picard's closing speech seems a little out of left field, and you wonder if the ideas well had run a little dry by this point.

There are also some beautiful FX shots, with an unusual use of colour. "Besides, it is clearly a bunny rabbit" indeed. 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave - Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 7:44am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

In some ways this is reminiscent of a TOS episode, and yet one that doesn't concentrate on the typical 'sexy alien' but drives a much more multi-layered and subtle characterisation. In the end it's difficult to conclude what we've actually seen, and that is, I think, the point. My take - that Kamala is 'programmed' to reflect what Picard desires and reflects that nobility and independence. It's less clear whether that reflects her actual will. That she imprints on Picard is a question of timing (there's a narrow window, as the episode makes clear), not choice. But Picard's surprise at that revelation suggests that nothing intimate took place.

On the downside we have the Ferengi as a crude and wholly unnecessary plot device that could easily have been dispensed with.

"I'll be on holodeck 4" indeed. 3 stars.

Elliott - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 5:08pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S2: The Alternate

Teaser : ***.5, 5%

Open on Quark auctioning off a bit of a deceased Ferengi (at bargain rates). Odo manages to sabotage the deal, taking particular zeal in telling Quark how much he's looking forward to his death. It turns out Plaig (the dead Ferengi) is not dead at all and Quark has either been duped or trying to dupe. It's the Capitalists' way.

Enter Dr Mora, who immediately starts scrutinising Odo's appearance. Mora is of course the scientist who was assigned to Odo after he was found. Quark pounces on the opportunity to embarrass Odo, recognising Odo's discomfort.

Particularly pleasurable is Sloyan's ability to match Auberjonois' gruff cantankerousness with nonplussed wit and self-confidence. The wit they share in common. Odo has the authority, Mora has the confidence. It mirrors in some ways the dynamic between Odo and Quark except that Mora seems to actually make Odo feel vulnerable. He knows that Odo still yearns desperately to understand himself and his origins (as does the audience), and he's counting on that truth to bridge the gap of trust between them. A great setup.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Time for a bit of DBI, where we get one of those clichéd father-son conversations between Jake and Ben. [wretch]

Thankfully, Odo ends this crap and asks Sisko for runabout on his and Mora's behalf. Mora wants to investigate some lifeform readings in the Gamma Quadrant which could explain Odo's origins.

There's an amazing amount of information conveyed just by the performances from the more interesting father-son pairing of Mora and Odo. While on the runabout, Mora manages to continuously interrupt and speak for Odo to Dax, all while singing both their praises. It's clear that Mora gets carried away by his excitement and his pride (as many parents do), but also remarkable that this man's ego manages to shut Odo of all people down to nought but rolling his eyes in frustration.

The scientists and Odo beam down to a volcanic planet, which is covered in ruins. They find a pillar and a silicate lifeform which they beam back. This triggers a volcanic eruption which nearly kills them. The set may be cheap, but they manage to squeeze a great deal of drama out of the discovery and subsequent harrowing escape.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

The Bajorans are critically injured by their experience. While Bashir treats them, Odo observes Dr Mora curiously, as one would a scientific sample, and quite likely they way Mora observed Odo many times during their time together.

Sisko shares the story about how his father almost died but didn't with Odo. This naturally triggers Ben to reflect on his own relationship with Jake and....oh wait, no that would make sense. Nevermind.

Later that evening, the lifeform that they brought back seems to have escaped from its containment field. Duhn duhn duhn...

Act 3 : ***, 17%

They deduce that the lifeform escaped through the ventilation shaft (isn't that always the way?) just in time for Dax to make an entrance. Turns out Bashir hid her clothes from her so she had to sneak out of the infirmary. I'm sure that had no ulterior motivations.

In the infirmary, Mora and Odo share a good scene. Mora called him in to ask to be of use. Odo assures him that the situation is under control. They discuss the metamorphic abilities of the lifeform, but what the scene is really about is what William B described above as “just the right set of contradictions.” In the same breath, we can become angry with Mora for being so single-minded in his scientific pursuit, but stilled moved by his genuine and unprompted concern for those around him. Likewise, Odo's feigned indifference is clearly betrayed by a sense of loyalty and affection for Mora, especially in his injured state.

Jammer complains about the dry, technical exposition during the hunt for the lifeform, but I vehemently disagree. While the actual dialogue is indeed dry, director David Carson is able to create a simmering sense of quiet dread. A very refreshing change from similar scenes in season 1. I find it quite effective. This is achieved primary by having the camera close to Miles so that he takes up most of the frame as he moves through the corridors (can we call them Jeffries Tubes?). As for the claim that this horror-movie stuff doesn't belong in a character study, I don't quite get that either. I mean this is really a horror movie populated by strong characters (Odo and Mora), so fleshing out their relationship is a necessary and welcome *addition* to the plot. O'Brien eventually discovers the now-dead life form in a startling moment which is undercut only slightly by the goofy sight of snot dripping onto the floor.

Even the Dax/Bashir flirting scene is palatable, giving way to a classic sneak-up-from-behind monster-movie bit. Is it a little corny? Yeah, but I think it's about as effective as it could be given the limitations present. A genuinely good effort.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

MORA : Constable?
ODO : It's a nickname I barely tolerate.
MORA : It's an expression of affection that you find difficult to accept.

Boom. Mora's dichotomy is on display again. While he pontificates (a little arrogantly) about the similarities between the scientific and police methods, one can attribute his enthusiasm to either grating egoism or an attempt to bridge the gulf between himself and Odo (which is probably even more grating to the Constable).

The script wisely takes every opportunity to flesh out Mora's motivations wherever there's a lull (like during his and Dax' analysis of the DNA residues).

Mora confronts Odo and reveals that he has deduced (secretly) that the monster is actually Odo. It says a lot about the man that, while he may partly still see Odo as a science project, the first person he tells about his discovery is Odo himself, out of respect for his personhood.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

Odo's panic at the news is telling. He's not horrified by the idea of being a monster, but of being a *criminal*. This harkens back to my reflections on “Necessary Evil”: “[T]he story is given this noire veneer in order to accentuate the theme of semblance. Here, Odo's persona as the neutral observer, cold investigator and un-relatable alien is cracked open.” Another crack is forming. While in NE, Odo's persona as a lawman is what held him together, here the idea that he could be acting *illegally* cuts right into that veneer.

The only objection I have to this scene is, while Odo is visibly transforming under the stress of Mora's (understandably) angry reaction to Odo's rejection of his trustworthiness, the observing scientist fails to notice the heaping, sweating pile of goo Odo is becoming. Then again, I suspect Mora is purposefully antagonising Odo in order to test his theory.

After Odo transforms, Mora informs the senior staff about whom they're tracking and suggest using himself as bait to catch him.

Okay, so here's the bigger problem: Sisko decides, yeah sure, let's use this civilian as bait to catch the creature! Are you seriously telling me there aren't gasses they could use to render Odo unconscious? Or energy fields? Odo isn't a telepath, why not use a hologram of Mora to bait Odo? Talk about a needlessly reckless command decision. Likewise, the whole “set phasers to kill” fake-drama is ridiculous. Odo-as-The-Creature has not killed or even wounded anybody. Sure he's dangerous, but come on!

The other bad news is that the CGI creature bits which follow look terrible. Off-camera, Mora and Bashir rid Odo of the particles which turned his resentment into monster-mash. This is exactly how I prefer Trek deal with its sci-fi elements. The plot serves the purpose of creating the analogy which allows the writers to explore the “human” condition of the characters. Dwelling on the specifics is a waste of time, so I'm glad they don't.

Mora and Odo say their goodbyes, having developed a better understanding of one another and their relationship.

Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

For not the first time, Commander Thinks-With-His-Dick sabotages an otherwise strong story, but at least not too badly as he's not the focus. The Mora-Odo material is very strong and plays well against the precedent set by “Necessary Evil.” Sloyan is a rock star in all his appearances on Trek and Auberjonois is typically strong. While I can understand the objections to the monster-movie bits in theory, they are mostly executed very well (save that last scene) and are integrated seamlessly into the fabric of the story, so I don't mind them. This feels for me like one of the few times DS9 attempted a real Star Trek story and succeeded. William B. gives an excellent analysis above of the Mora/Odo relationship and I have nothing else to add, so I won't. A refreshing change of pace from the last several episodes.

Final Score : ***
Diamond Dave - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 4:16pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Cost of Living

You can see the pitch now - "Lwaxana teaches Alexander something about life... and in return, learns a life lesson herself". And to be fair Lwaxana and Alexander do make a connection, and of course there's the one glorious scene as Lwaxana tells Alexander of her loneliness. But it's mostly just irritating.

The B-story is clearly tacked on as the A-story cannot hold the weight of a full episode, and is merely OK. Beautiful FX shot though at the start. 2 stars.
Diamond Dave - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 3:11pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The First Duty

Saved By The Bell: The Academy Years? Hardly. This is a well constructed, mature, suspenseful morality play essayed through the medium of a courtroom drama.

I don't get the idea that Wesley is being played out of character. He spent his time on the Enterprise acting beyond his years, mentored by the father figure Picard. Locarno also promotes him above his years, while offering a similar role model to look up to. That Wesley's moral compass shows him that his direction is wrong - even if it requires the riveting attention of Picard to kick him into acting on it - seems utterly grounded in what we have seen before. For Wesley to have covered up the truth would have corrupted the character beyond repair. 3.5 stars.
Grumpy - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 2:30pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Visionary

According to the Romulan dude, "The Dominion represents the greatest threat the Alpha Quadrant in the last century." Okay, is that a Romulan century or 100 Earth years? What happened a century ago that was such a big threat? It would've happened between TOS and TMP, so we never saw it. Also, what about the mysterious force that scared the Romulans into breaking their isolation in "The Neutral Zone"? Oh yeah, the Borg! But the Borg never tried to assimilate Romulus, as far as we know, so they don't count.
Diamond Dave - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 2:03pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Cause and Effect

A 45 second pre-credit sequence resulting in the fiery destruction of the Enterprise? Bring it on!

This is a very well conceived episode. The iterations never get boring given the different ways they are shot and constructed. And it establishes a nicely eerie atmosphere early on. As a self contained show with no wider consequences, it's about as good as it gets.

And it's got Kelsey Grammer. 3.5 stars.
Jay - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 1:51pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

It's hard to believe that Klingon-Human hybrids exists (K'Ehleyr and B'Elanna Torres, and its hard to believe they're the only two in the universe) without a Federation doctor having no clue about it. I'd presume that as rare as they are presented here, such case studies would be part of a medical school curriculum, especially a Starfleet medical school.
Odo Ito - Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 12:48pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S3: Fascination

Lwaxana isn't a slut, she's a harasser. What she's been doing to Odo is nothing but sexual harassment.

Nana Visitor on the other hand is the worst kissing actor I've seen. Whether it's Bareill or Bashir, what she sells as kissing looks like it's from the 1950s. That's why the scenes with her working even less than anything else - you can clearly tell she's not comfortable doing this. And not just in this episode.

Overall, I find this episode at least watchable. The plot is stupid, but gets some laughs out of me.
"Meridian" on the other hand doesn't work at all, with it's forced romance and Dax being all kinds of silly. Here at least everybody has an excuse.

But yeah, it'S another totally pointless episode that doesn't advance characters or plot, just 45 minutes of filler that should have been used for more important things.
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