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Brian S
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

I remember a few years back when the first ST reboot film came out, I read an interview Abrams gave talking about the time travel plot line wiping clean all the past histories of the crew and the necessity for it.

He said something to the effect of, while Star Trek has a deep and rich history to draw from, sometimes the weight of that history can act like a shackle ball & chain for writers, weighing you down from telling new and interesting stories because you have to carefully fit every part of your story into all the existing pieces.

I know Jammer's made that point before. After 40+ years, 5 series, 10 feature films, nearly 1,000 hours of stories between the mediums....Star Trek did kind of burn out under it's weight. A lot of the stories had been done before. A lot of the galactic real estate has already been covered. Voyager had to go to the other end of the galaxy to find any real estate to work with. Everywhere Enterprise went, it had to be careful not to step on and break any of the countless hours of TV, movies, and expanded universe stuff to come.

As terrified as I was of a JJ Abrams-brand Star Trek reboot and what I saw in the trailers leading up to the release, when I read those remarks from him, I begrudgingly accepted them. He was right, to an extent. You can't introduce a brand new Star Trek crew for a couple movies. TOS-Kirk Trek was the best candidate for a CGI reboot, and while I believe they could've still done a new movie with Kirk & Co. within the existing universe, I could concede that it would be hard to squeeze in a new meaningful entry between 3 years of TV and 6-7 feature films, up to Kirk's death. Abrams had a point....the time travel device cleaned the slate for new fresh movie ideas to come for.

So even if I didn't like it, the first reboot did it's job adequately enough, the crew was pretty well done, and the movie wasn't as bad as I feared it could've been. Abrams did what he felt he needed to do, connected the two universes while preserving the old one, and cleared himself the space he needed to boldly go forth and tell new stories where no Trek had gone before. It at least piqued my interest.

So what did Abrams do with all his hard-fought cinematic space and freedom? Ripped off Wrath of Khan. Badly. Word for word, in some cases. Even Melania Trump thought it was too blatant (:P)

Seriously though.....WTF?!

I have a bunch of other quibbles that are mostly just your standard plot hole and scientific impossibility sci-fi gripes, which many folks have already covered.

But it pains me to no end that they went to all that trouble to wash away the old Trek universe (to the disgruntlement of many existing Trek fans) and then just went: "Okay, new story ideas now, people, new stories. We've got a new film to create, what are we going to do? Any new ideas? Anybody? Anybody at all? So, we've got nothing, huh?!" "Well, we could just do Wrath of Khan again. I hear Trek fans liked that movie" "Brilliant! Alright, lunch!"

I haven't watched any of the trailers for ST: Beyond (I refuse to on principle) but I'm going to go out on a (I think pretty sturdy) limb here and just assume that the Enterprise gets destroyed at some point in ST:B (presumably by self-destruct after the villain army tries to take it over). And I'm just calling it now, ST Reboot:4 involves time travel that takes the crew back to 20th/21st century Earth (toss-up on whether they just go present-day, 1980's flashback, or possibly full on 1960's retro).

+++++

One major plot line issue though.....I know it's a reboot, and in this new timeline everything is bigger, more militarized, darker, and everything has changed.....but Khan Noonien Singh wasn't supposed circa-21st century Steve Rogers minus the spandex and vibranium shield. Yeah, he had a genetically enhanced brilliant intellect, and he had more strength than Jose Canseco & Mark McGwire's love child.....but Khan was still ostensibly a human. Khan can't jump 30 feet straight up as if he were playing hopscotch. In the original Space Seed, Khan was an extremely strong opponent, but non-roided Kirk ultimately defeated Khan on his own in one-on-one hand-to-hand, combat thanks to a cheap lightweight 1960's PVC--errr, uhhh, I mean, a totally solid hard spaceship pipe (probably made of vibranium, or something) and cracking him in the back with it.

Seriously, go re-watch the Spock-Khan battle scene in STID (or not), and then watch the end Kirk-Khan battle scene from Space Seed on YouTube. That's the same guy Kirk fought and won against? I know we're trying to modernize some of the old special effects a bit, and yeah, those old TOS scenes could be quite cheesy at times.....but Space Seed looked much more like something based in reality.
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Brian S.
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

@zzybaloobah: In any case, the bioweapon attack on the Founders isn't "genocide" -- not in the normal sense of the word.
Genocide has strong negative connotations for 2 reasons:
1) It's *mass* murder. Arguably, the Great Link is a single organism. The rules of "mass murder" simply don't apply.
2) It's indiscrimate targeting of all, including non-combatants. But, all Founders are either direct combatants, or members of an entitty that is guilty of massive war crimes, including genocide and the total subjugation of slave races (Vorta, Jem'Hadar). If breeding slave races to fight your battles isn't a massive war crime then I don't know what is.

---------

Interesting points.

It could even be argued that the Founders are the only real combatants since the Jem Hadar and the Vorta are just clones serving the Founders purposes and fighting on their behalf.

Part of the reason the Dominion is so strong and so close to winning the war on multiple occasions is that the Founders don't really care about the lives of anyone. There is no cost to them. If Jem Hadar/Vorta are killed, you just manufacture more of them. They have two slave races of entirely disposable people genetically programmed to fight and die for the Founders. A billion Jem Hadar could be killed and the Founders wouldn't care. Simply ramp up production at the cloning facility and in a few months or years, the loss is nullified.

Without the virus, the war against the Alpha Quadrant was entirely a win-win situation for the Changelings. If the Dominion wins, they win. If the Dominion loses, billions of AQ solids are exterminated. Remember, the Changelings hate ALL solids. Their goal is to control or destroy all of them. So even if the Dominion loses and fails to gain control over the entire AQ, what do the Founders get? Billions of dead Cardassian, Klingon, Breen, Romulan, and Federation peoples. Hardly a loss from their POV. The Founders would just assume kill all Cardassians as rule over them, and they don't really care anything for their disposable slave Jem Hadar or Vorta. All of their "solid" enemies everywhere die brutally while they sit back comfortably out of harm's way.

Attacking the Changelings through this virus seems the only way to get them to have any skin (or liquid) in the game.


Though, I must bring up one other point I just considered and hadn't really seen addressed elsewhere.......Odo was apparently infected with the virus back in S4. The Dominion certainly posed a threat at that junction and there had been a few deadly skirmishes, but the Federation was not technically at war with them yet. The Cardassians hadn't even yet joined the Dominion. It wasn't a peace, and the Cardassians/Romulans had tried to destroy the Founders' homeworld with conventional weapons the prior year (a military strike that Starfleet Command seemed tacitly willing to accept even if not wholly endorsing it or willing to carry the attack out themselves), but it is fairly dark to wage this kind of biological warfare as a first strike against an enemy that the Federation wasn't even technically at war with yet.
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Brian S.
Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

RUSOT: You're still a Cardassian, Garak. You're not going to kill one of your own people for a Bajoran woman.
GARAK: How little you understand me.

----

It's scenes like this that further my belief that Garak is and always was sympathetic to the Bajoran people and that his sympathy is probably what led to his exile from Cardassia in the first place.

It's not hard to imagine that Garak was given a brutal assignment against the Bajorans while a member of the Obsidian Order, and then refused to carry it out. In the S2 episode "The Wire," Garak tells a trio of lies about the reason for why he was exiled. You can't trust any of them, but all of them have some variation of him sparing a large group of Bajoran civilians.

Garak has never shown revulsion, condescension, or even restrained antipathy towards any Bajorans. He's lived on the station for years with them. He hated Dukat (the prefect of the Bajoran Occupation). For someone so formerly ruthless and cold-hearted, he has regularly shown empathy towards the Bajoran people, and been unusually candid about the distasteful atrocities committed by Cardassians during the Occupation.

Now, in the midst of the Cardassian rebellion, when he's finally getting a chance to fight for/with his people again, he sides with a Bajoran over a Cardassian.

And I think his words here are very telling. He doesn't say that he's defending Kira because he likes/knows/trusts Kira more than Rusot or because the mission requires it (the way Damar does). Rusot makes it racial. A *Bajoran* is inferior to and worth less than a Cardassian, in his eyes. It's a sentiment Rusot has lived by. It's a sentiment Dukat and Damar have lived by (though Damar is starting to open his eyes to a different perspective). But Garak doesn't hesitate or even have to think about it. "How little you understand me." He's already there. Unlike most Cardassians, Garak already sees Bajorans as equals rather than inferiors. I think he's felt that way for a long, long time, and given the common thread in his "lies" about his exile, I think his feelings towards them played a part in it.
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Brian S.
Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: When it Rains...

Kira arguably loved Ziyal more than Garak did. Garak may have been somewhat interested in her, but Kira loved her like a surrogate parent or a sister. Combined with her general hatred of Cardassians in general and the number of times Damar and Kira were at each other's throats, I think Kira had far more reason to want to kill Damar...and she was willing to set aside her feelings for the mission.

On top of that, Kira is portrayed as being far more of a loose cannon prone to acting on her feelings of anger and hatred whereas Garak is a very cool customer who generally seems to keep a lid on things, focus on the job at hand, and act with cold calculating precision. Heck, he even fought side-by-side with Dukat in the Klingon attack of DS9. I'm sure Garak was tempted to kill Damar (just as he was tempted to kill Dukat). But if an angry hothead like Kira was able to control herself, Garak certainly would have.
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Brian S.
Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Changing Face of Evil

Boy, Worf is having the worst luck....Over the last 4 episodes, he's been on 3 ships that have been destroyed (the Klingon ship, the Runabout, and now the Defiant).

Worf just spends like a week in an escape pod, gets rescued, then captured & tortured, is bailed out at the last moment before his execution, and just as he gets back to the station, the first battle he gets sent out on....right back into an escape pod.

Worf should probably just take an extended shore leave, though at this point he'd probably find a way to get a paddleboat blown up, too.

Still, he's probably enjoyed his time in escape pods more than he did his own honeymoon on Risa
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Brian S.
Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

So, remembering back to the series pilot episode "Emissary" when Sisko explains the concepts of linear time, death, and procreation to the Prophets.....it would seem they already know all about those things.

Personally, I found this plot twist very disappointing. Sisko's decisions and actions with regard to Bajor and the Prophets seemed far more meaningful when they were just those of a human interacting freely. Now that we know his entire existence is just a byproduct of Prophet manipulation, all of his current and past behaviors are viewed as being those of a baby Prophet rather than a human Starfleet officer.

Later in the season, they make a big deal about Sisko building a home on Bajor. And that would be a big deal, if Sisko were a human. But essentially he's not. He's half Prophet. His entire existence was conceived for the purposes of serving the Prophets and defeating the Paghwraiths. The Prophets are his family. Looking back over the series, it makes his acceptance of the Emissary role more of a pre-ordained inevitability than a conscious choice. Sisko's willingness to let go of his son Jake in "The Reckoning" now makes it look less like a leap of faith and more like something he was just supposed to do.


@Phillip: I hadn't thought of it that way before, but you are totally right. Sisko is a Prophet rape baby.
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Brian S.
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

Some excerpts From Memory Alpha that I think address some of the criticisms posted here:

-According to Ira Steven Behr, "I felt that we needed to do it. War sucks. War is intolerable. War is painful, and good people die. You win, but you still lose. And we needed to show that as uncompromisingly as possible. War isn't just exploding ships and special effects."


-The writers specifically chose Nog, Ezri, Quark, and Bashir as the central characters for this episode because they had the least fighting experience. Characters like Kira, Worf, and O'Brien were purposely left out of the fighting, as they all had combat experience and knew how to handle themselves in such a situation. The writers, however, were more keen on seeing the reactions of people who didn't know how to handle themselves.

-Director Winrich Kolbe had fought in the Vietnam War, and he allowed his knowledge of combat to influence his direction of the episode; "The images you see are trenches of churned-up dirt. The battleground always looked like there was absolutely nothing there that anyone could ever want. Yet people were blowing each other to smithereens over this land. I wanted AR-558 to be that type of battleground, a totally nondescript piece of real estate that didn't deserve one drop of blood to be shed for it. It shouldn't say anything to the eye or the mind except that we were there because somebody had decided to put a relay station on this rock." Kolbe goes on to say, "We wanted the siege scene in "AR-558" to convey the psychological impact, and not come across like a shoot-em-up. What I remember from Vietnam is sitting in a ditch somewhere and waiting. It's the waiting that drives you nuts. You know they're coming. You can hear them. You can feel them. When you have to wait, your mind plays tricks on you, and you hear things and you see things, like Vargas, who's about to explode. Once the battle starts, your adrenaline kicks in and you have an objective. But when you have to wait, time just slows down to a crawl." Kolbe felt that the battle for AR-558 had a great deal of similarity with the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh, a battle which was won by the Americans, but the strategic significance of which is still debated to this day.
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Brian S.
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

@WCrusher: "This is where ST really started to tank...
The same pro-military, anti-trek issues dogging this ep as did on much of ENT. Nog has been completely brainwashed by military dogma. And everyone is ok with it?"


This episode doesn't strike me as pro or anti-military.

To whatever degree you believe (like Quark) that the Federation never should've gotten involved in this war, the fact is they are in the middle of a war. Wars involve soldiers. And as Star Trek episodes go, this episode comes the closest to capturing both the dark brutal reality of what soldiers are asked to do and the costs they must pay (physically and mentally).

What bothers me the most about Star Trek is the hidden antiseptic way that skirmishes, battles, and even entire wars are fought. Wars are fought safely off-screen by faceless soldiers/victims that are never shown and whom we never care about. When battles are fought by the Enterprise or Defiant or whatever other Starfleet ship is involved almost always win. Entire colonies might be destroyed, entire fleets might be wiped out, but all the people we care about always survive. Even when Spock dies at the end of Wrath of Khan, Kirk risks his career and life to get his best friend back (no such sacrifice is attempted for any of the other trainees killed in that battle though).

Heck, the entire joke about the "Red Shirts" in Star Trek revolves around the idea that somebody has to die to make the plot remotely believable or dangerous, but never anybody we know or care about. Dozens of Red Shirts die forgettably or unheralded in conflicts while the main characters chuckle and make wisecracks

To me, this too conveniently parallels how wars are fought in our present-day world. Battles go on every day, but they are fought on what might as well be a foreign planet by nameless faceless "Red Shirt" soldiers whose stories we will never hear or care about because they don't directly affect us. Oh sure, many of us do empathize and even respect the sacrifices they make in a general human way, but since it's not us or people we have a direct connection to, it's not the same. It's why 1730 people are killed in one light week, yet DS9 fans only get worked up over the death of one Jadzia and the injury to one Nog.

For my money, this is the episode among all others that brings the plight of the Red Shirt (and to a certain extent, our own military) into better perspective. War is not pretty. It isn't always fought by balding Shakespearean actors in a plush command center ordering someone to press a button which fires an energy beam which instantly/painlessly kills a thousand people. Victims (on both sides) are not just plot devices involving nameless characters that nobody directly cares about.

In the TOS episode "Arena," over 500 Federation Colonists are killed by the Gorn, along with several Enterprise Red Shirts....and all anyone can talk about is the cheesy costume worn by the actor portraying the Gorn. 500+ Federation citizens died in the conflict of an episode has become quintessential part of Star Trek lore as mostly a joke. DS9 shows an episode where maybe a dozen officers get killed in conflict in addition to the 107 killed prior to the beginning of the episode, and this is supposed to be the poster child for this series being anti-Trek/anti-Roddenberry. The only difference between the two episodes (aside from the 400 fewer characters killed at AR-558) is that one episode showed the brutality and attempted to make you feel pain for the victims and the survivors, while the other sloughed off the widespread death and destruction as a forgettable afterthought.

If Star Trek's "Utopian" vision is simply defined by ignoring or not caring about the horrors of the world/galaxy, then that's not a universe I wish to ever live in.
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Brian S.
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

To be fair to Uhura and Chekov, my wife is 35 years old, has lived here in the Bay Area her entire life....and SHE doesn't know where Alameda is either.

And even if you know where Alameda is, that doesn't mean you necessarily know where the naval base is or how to get there without a car. Which is why they were asking for directions on where it is and how to get there.

The bigger moron in that scene was the clueless lady who "helped" them. Chekov asked where the Naval Base in Alameda was, and her response was to say, "I think it's across the Bay, in Alameda." That's like someone asking me where Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is, and me telling them "I think it's in San Francisco."
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Brian S
Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Sound of Her Voice

The worst part is, some of the problematic details of this episode could have been worked out with just a little extra thought. Shorten the Defiant's trip to 3 days (eliminates the ridiculous 2 week absence of the Commander of the 9th Fleet in the middle of a war to rescue one escape pod), and have the time distortion be like a month. A month would be far enough into the past for the mission to be futile from the beginning, but not so far into the past that the entire plot requires the viewer to suspend belief that the Defiant crew never mentioned the date or even bothered to look up her ship's records.
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Brian S.
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Cause and Effect

"One of this season's better episodes except for the Bozeman showing up and not knowing anything was wrong. The geniuses on the Enterprise solve the riddle in 17 days so the Bozeman must have been crewed by a bunch of dummies"

--------

This entire episode can be summed up in one paraphrased quote from Futurama's Professor Farnsworth:

"Oh no! Data's stuck in an infinite loop, and Frasier's an idiot!"
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Brian S.
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

@Paul M:"Here's a guy who didn't know how to read and write just two years ago! Are we to believe that he managed to catch up on all those countless years of education he missed in such a short time frame?"

I never bought the whole didn't know how to read bit. Ferengi culture is backwards in many ways, but for a society that is so obsessive about business and profit, you'd think a teenage Ferengi male would be literate enough to read & write financial statements, a business plan, a standard contract, etc.

I think it would fit much better that Nog couldn't read English, and that--for whatever reason--Starfleet and Keiko's school didn't translate too many things into Ferengi. Or perhaps that Nog can read well enough for being an employee at his job. Rom did say early in Season 1 that they are given work-study positions. I'm surprised that he wouldn't be able to read well enough to read a business contract. But even reading a menu or a Ferengi financial statement is different from reading a novel or writing an essay. He probably isn't totally illiterate, but rather just very far behind compared to where Jake is. For someone as old as Nog (probably 18-20 years old) only being able to read at a 1st grade level is virtually illiterate.

Nog is very qualified in many other ways. He's a hard worker and seemingly a good engineer. The ability to read Moby Dick and the ability to repair a plasma conduit or understand warp drive mechanics are not the same.

Besides, if you already know how to speak a language, and you already know what all the words mean, simply learning how to read written words isn't all that difficult.
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Brian S.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: His Way

I didn't totally dislike this episode. As Jammer said, it was amusing and lighthearted enough.


An episode with Holosuite Vic was a cute enough story by itself. I enjoyed some of the singing. I agree it was way too long, but I can accept that an occasional episode with a lighter slower pace works.

But the existence of future recurring Vic episodes makes me wish his light bulb had never been switched on. Julian's Bond holosuite program was done much better, IMO. One full drama/comedy episode with some interesting ideas, then a few minor mentions/glimpses in future episodes for continuity. Vic got more screen time than the departing Terry Farrell, and appeared in almost as many episodes over the final 36 episodes as Garak...including precious minutes of the series finale that bascially forced the writers to rush Sisko's *death* in order to get a full Vic Fontaine song.

Also, some of Vic's dialogue was cringe inducing as it didn't really fit the characters of Odo & Kira at all....

"It's the oldest story in the book. She thinks of you as a friend."

....a friend who she had no real attraction to earlier in the year even while she was on the rebound. Then you went and slept with Changeling Space Hitler in the middle of an active war, and got so wrapped in your *link*ing that you neglected your duties to such a degree that your love interest was arrested, your crew mate was sentenced to execution, and the entire quadrant was nearly overrun by a merciless army bent on galactic domination.

Yep, the oldest story in the book.


"Women have been known to change their minds. You just have to give them a reason....The girl already likes you. That means you're halfway home."

Unfortunately that whole sexual attraction half of the equation is kind of a major hurdle that one dinner and one dance doesn't cure. Especially in light of events of the past year.

I can see Kira and Odo repairing their relationship to the degree that she no longer wants to kill him in cold blood for being a collaborator. I can maybe even see her reconciling with him to the point where she can be friends with him again. But actual physical sexual attraction? To the guy who just slept with Female Changeling Space Hitler while she was leading the Resistance?

Sorry, Vic. There are no Frank Sinatra or James Dean anecdotes that can overcome that.
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Brian S.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

One other point......can we Trek fans PLEASE disavow ourselves of the supposed notion that Roddenberry's Trek a Utopian vision that DS9 somehow violates?

Earth itself may be generally painted as a paradise compared to what we have today where war, hunger, and poverty have been eliminated. But I have a hard time accepting that even 23rd century humans are really all that evolved when you consider that the captain of the flagship of that universe is a guy that basically beat the crap out of every alien he couldn't sleep with.

There were any number of conflicts, skirmishes, and even outright wars that broke out between the Federation, Klingons, and other powers during the run of TOS. Even in the TNG days, the threat of war with the Romulan Empire always seemed to be right around the corner.

Roddenberry Star Trek shows a Federation that is constantly on the brink of war. Earth may not be a hotbed of territorial conflict and war any more, but humans were still shown to be just as flawed and confrontational as ever when it comes to civilizations outside. By that measure, present day America is a utopian paradise because we don't have inter-state fighting any more and we only go to war against other countries. To be fair, we probably are more evolved in certain ways than some of our counterparts of the 16th/17th centuries, but we still carry a great deal of flaws that can be examined.

The 1st season of 23rd century TOS Trek showed us a Federation that declared war on Klingons, referenced prior war with the Romulans, and sought war with the Gorn. There are still human smugglers, and con artists, and space pimps (though that might have all been just Harry Mudd). Penal colony administrators who torture prisoners, a Starfleet lieutenant who fakes his own death as part of a revenge plot against his captain, humans who were only too willing to kill any alien they didn't easily understand or identify with, humans who became uncontrollably dangerous a-holes under any intoxicating substance or when given a little extra power. Even the hyper-logical half-Vulcan Spock was willing to go Grand Theft Starship and risk a death penalty just to help out a disabled officer he once served with. And just to ensure that stealing an entire starship for personal motives wasn't limited to people with Vulcan blood, Kirk did the same thing in Star Trek III. And of course, let's not forget McCoy's rather constant racist slurs against Spock. And I won't even bother addressing the myriad of human/Federation problems in TNG.

All in all, this hardly paints an evolved or enlightened portrait of humanity. If DS9 appears "darker" it may be simply because the writers examine the atrocities they use for their episode backstories rather than simply glossing over them or forgetting about them at episode's end. DS9 dives into the horrors and aftermath of 50 brutal years of Cardassian rule over Bajor. TOS takes a civilization with a centuries-old history of enslavement, persecution, and rebellion, grabs one ambassador from each side, sits them at a conference table, and wipes their hands and walks away never to return again. That isn't human idealism. That's laziness and naivete bordering on criminally negligent and ignorant.

Both Kirk and Sisko were prepared to go to war with the Klingons. The only difference is that the non-corporeal Organians stopped the war, whereas the non-corporeal Prophets stayed out of the way.
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Brian S.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

Section 31 is probably just a relatively small black ops segment of Starfleet Intelligence (Sloan did say that they are a branch of SI).

If a naval captain questioned the Defense Department about the actions of some intelligence operative, the Defense Dept would simply respond back without confirming or denying the existence of the operative or his unit. Whatever Starfleet admiral Sisko contacted probably has no control or authority over the specific operations of a highly classified wing of a relatively autonomous segment of Starfleet Intelligence, and wouldn't discuss such matters with a mere Captain anyway.

As for what Section 31 does....they probably do some of the same things our own 21st century CIA does, and with the same questionable ethics. They aren't quite the Obsidian Order, they don't seek to overtly control the entire Federation and all its citizens and military personnel. But they are willing to skirt the constitutional laws of due process and search warrants to seek out major political threats. Starfleet and Starfleet Intelligence disavows any knowledge of their existence and gives them a lot of leeway to do whatever they need to do to accomplish their goals. Is it too much leeway? Maybe. But so long as they get results (and it seems like they usually do), Starfleet and SFIntel don't bother asking too many questions or making too many complaints.

Sloan to me is very much James Bond without the cinematically provided certainty. If you think about it, Bond does act as judge, jury and executioner in all those films. He investigates perceived threats, breaks into people's homes, steals property to gather evidence, takes people against their will, interrogates them, and kills them if/when HE deems it necessary.....all without any court, judge, or lawyer. The audience just *assumes* Bond/Mi6 is always right (which I'm sure Sloan assumes about himself), and the films usually show us the evidence supporting that (or the supervillain's confession). Bond has killed evil henchmen/villains on far less circumstantial evidence than what Sloan had against Bashir.....and to Sloan's credit, he gave Bashir far more of a chance to defend himself than Tain or Garak probably would have in the old Obsidian Order. Bond doesn't carry handcuffs with him and make warrant-approved arrests, he just goes out and takes care of threats....quietly.
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Brian S.
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

Just to briefly go back to discussing the actual episode again.....;)

I had a hard time liking this episode. Didn't like it on original viewing 20 years ago, and struggled to get into it again today. I usually enjoy Trek's social commentary, but I want the social commentary to fit into the plot of the episode or the series or even the character.

This was an episode directly about mid-20th century racism in America (and indirectly about racism in our present time as well), which works for me. I found most of the dream scenes compelling and interesting. And I loved the very hyper-meta-SciFi nature of it where it's essentially 20th century SciFi writers creating a Star Trek TV episode about a 24th century Starfleet captain who dreams about 20th century SciFi writers creating a story about a 24th century Starfleet captain

BUT, what the heck did any of that have to do with Capt Sisko or his plight? I found myself continuously getting pulled out of the story trying to wrap my head around what any of Benny Russell's life had to do with DS9, Sisko, or the episode.

Sisko is stressed out. He just lost another close friend (along with so many others) as a casualty to war. He is so pained by the accumulation of recent events of the war that he feels like quitting the service. And so to help him cope with his traumatic loss and the depressing realities of war he has a vision about.....20th century Earth/American racism? WTF?!

DS9 is a wonderfully complex show that regularly touches on important social matters of racism, sexism, general prejudice--and even some of the more general philosophical "dream vs. reality" concepts--through the prism of this futuristic fictional universe. There are at least a dozen different ways they could've built even a flimsy plot around this episode (perhaps an orb experience) so that the racism in Benny's life equated to some prejudice or challenge actually going on in the 24th century.

Honestly, I think even NO plot could've been better. Just start the episode with Avery Brooks as Benny Russell, end in the ambulance, and have the entire episode exist just as a stand alone commentary on Trek itself rather than try to portray it as something that supposedly has any bearing on Sisko or the Dominion War.

But in the end, Sisko re-commits himself to Starfleet...because something? Plot maybe? Perhaps contractual obligation with the corporeal beings at Paramount Studios?

I know that when I'm totally fed up with my job, contemplating my resignation, and the stresses of life become so overwhelming that I suffer severe medical trauma, hallucinating about a guy losing his marbles in the midst of 17th century prejudice and societal injustice totally gives me the renewed strength I need to......suck it up and go back to work on Monday.

Great SciFi story. Imaginative concept. Wonderful performances. Insightful commentary. But a terrible episode where the middle of the story has absolutely nothing to do with the beginning or the end of the story, and where all of the powerful lessons about prejudice and intolerance are completely useless to the character who is supposedly dreaming about them.
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Brian S.
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 3:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Who Mourns for Morn?

"I was bothered more than I should have been by them saying gold is worthless. This seems really stupid to me. Even if it's not a popular jewelry choice (extremely odd, that), the lines on circuit boards are made from pure gold -- there's even businesses out there that scrap computers for the gold. Obviously gold is useful in both machines and for its beauty."

--------

@Nissa: Copper, Nickel, and Iron are all relatively worthless metals. I mean, yes, they do technically have a value and they are all useful materials for businesses, but if I handed you a 10-lb. brick of iron or copper, you'd probably just use it as a way to tone your biceps. If I handed you a 10-lb. brick of gold, you'd go buy a new house.

"Worth" depends on scarcity, availability, and general acceptance as a currency. I'm sure gold in the Star Trek universe is useful (heck, they use it to encase the latinum), but it's also extremely abundant compared to latinum. When you have the ability to travel to thousands of star systems, the ability to easily extract minerals on a large scale, and even the ability to replicate matter at will, a lump of gold is as "worthless" as a lump of iron.

Personally, I loved the little nod at our own obsession with gold and material wealth, which is what the Ferengi characters are supposed to represent. We care so much about this metal that futuristic alien civilizations regard as worthless, and they prize this liquid latinum as something we view as worthless. The idea of having gold-pressed latinum which both Ferengi and present-day Humans would obsess over but for completely opposite reasons is brilliant, IMO. And I loved Quark's little dig that there are probably some primitive cultures that would value it.
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Brian S.
Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: In Purgatory's Shadow

In order to be effective, any changeling infiltrator would have to acquire an extensive knowledge of the replaced person's history, memories, skills, personality, mannerisms, behaviors, job description, access codes, etc. You can't have a Changeling infiltrator replace Bashir who doesn't remember basic things like his ex-gf Leeta's name, or know the basic codes/passwords for accessing controlled drugs and chemicals. Can't impersonate a doctor if you can't tell the difference between a kidney and a spleen.

That undertaking would require a significant amount of research and observation. I'd assume they hooked Bashir up to some kind of brain scanner or VR device (like the captured crew of the Defiant was hooked up to in "The Search, Pt II" to gauge their reactions to a Dominion takeover) and downloaded/memorized what they needed to know.....including medical knowledge. Changeling Bashir didn't need to be a great Doctor, just a decent enough one to fool others for a few weeks or months.

For the events in "Rapture," I'm not convinced a strong medical background was necessary at all. Hook Sisko up to a diagnostic brain scanner, read the results, consult the medical library, report. Someone with a nurse's training level probably could've done that. Even when it became evident that Sisko would need brain surgery (which, after his collapse, probably didn't take a doctor to ascertain), Bashir might not have been the one to do the surgery. Bashir wouldn't be the only viable medical professional on a station that size. Just sit back and "manage" or bark out instructions straight from a medical journal while some other staff surgeon performs the actual procedure. Dr. Crusher was involved in many important medical procedures on TNG where she had her staff do a lot of the actual tissue cutting, appliance waving, etc. Getting a staff surgeon or nurse to do most of the heavy leg work wouldn't have been too suspicious

As for the baby Changeling, perhaps the Doctor-Ling knew that the radiation level was too high and/or that the baby would die anyway (and that even Linking with it wouldn't be enough to cure it). Linking doesn't cure everything. Besides, while it's unfortunate the baby couldn't survive, the Founders sent a bunch of these infants to the far reaches of the galaxy. They had to assume some of their infant explorers wouldn't survive the journey or would be killed by whomever found them. If the Founders were that worried about these babies, they never would have sent them out in the first place. And there's no indication they are trying to track down the rest of their traveling offspring. So Doctor-ling was probably prepared to let the baby continue with its original mission unaided (even if it meant likely death) in the name of carrying out his own mission.
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Brian S.
Tue, Feb 3, 2015, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

Rather than this episode being about religion (though it is to a certain extent), I saw Sisko's visions as being on par with Lt. Barclay's enhanced intellect from the TNG episode "The Nth Degree."

In that episode, Barclay encountered a probe from an alien civilization of significant intelligence that endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities no human had never experienced before and was somewhat reluctant to give up.

Here in DS9's "Rapture," Sisko consults with an orb (a probe) from an alien civilization with significant knowledge who endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities to comprehend time and the universe in a way no other human had experienced before (granted, the accident caused his visions, but Sisko had enough encounters and contact with these extra-temporal aliens that it seems plausible that the shock triggered something to allow him to explore the universe beyond normal linear time).

Like with Barclay, Sisko was flooded with this knowledge. And that flood was both beautiful and dangerous. It was hard to process it all at once, but both had a feeling that something special was happening to them and that they had to explore it. If I suddenly had the ability to see the universe outside of normal space-time, I would be desperate for more, too.

The Bajorans might have viewed Sisko's experience as a spiritual one through the lens of their own religious faith....but I saw it as an intellectual pursuit. An exploration of knowledge and the limitlessness of the mind. Sisko was right. When you get an opportunity--a gift--like that you don't just walk away from it. You study it and explore it.
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Brian S.
Wed, Jan 28, 2015, 2:21am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Accession

"To continue the Catholic analogy, if Christ himself returned to earth and told people they needed to give thier lives to do something else, don't you think a lot of Catholics (and Protestants too for that matter) would consider doing it?

I think that analogy is more accurate. Oh, and love the reviews!"

That's probably true. Hell, I'm Jewish, and if JC was resurrected and came back to life (and that was somehow verifiable)--or if like Akorem a literary icon from 200 years ago like Mark Twain came back to life-- I'd probably listen, too.

My religious "faith" would probably be a lot stronger if there were physical orbs spread across the planet that led to direct communication with actual aliens.

++++++++++

As for the B-story, I would have much preferred a script that focused more on Molly's refusal to interact with her father.

The writers played up the bit about Miles missing Keiko while she was away, but they gave virtually no credence to the relationship between Miles and his daughter (a relationship that was arguably far more subject to damage by the long time apart).

In this episode, Molly is supposed to be about 4 years old. She hasn't seen her dad in 6 months, and has barely seen him at all over the course of the year. This could have had a crippling effect on Miles as a father. And when Molly refused to play darts with him, even though the writers clearly didn't do anything with it, it hit a nerve with me.

As a father to two small girls, it hurts deeply when work forces me into scarce appearances at home. My baby still lights up at my presence, but my toddler will turn to Mommy for everything. If I try to pick her up, she screams, "No! Want Mommy!" I understand why....it's because my wife is able to be at home more. But it still stings a bit. And that's just after a few late shifts. Molly was gone 6 months. Most kids that age in that position would be standoffish towards the previously absent parent.

Devoting more exploration to that dynamic wouldn't have merely been realistic, it could have made for a very powerful arc all on its own....whether for soldiers who have been deployed, or simply parents who have to work long hours at the cost of their time with their young children.

Miles has essentially missed 1/4 of Molly's entire life, his own daughter regards him as virtually a stranger....and all he can think about is getting back into the holosuites with Julian? That rings extremely hollow for a character who is a supposed family man.
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Brian S.
Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Rejoined

On the issue of homosexuality, while it probably would be better to see actual homosexual characters, I do at least like the fact that Star Trek seems to at least make supportive references to characters of a bisexual or asexual nature. I forget the episode, but Sisko had a bried conversation with someone where he expressed his genuine congratulations and warm wishes for a fellow male officer who had given birth.

It may involve only passing references to off-screen characters we never see, but I do like the implication that the Federation is a place of tolerance and acceptance of all sexualities, and that the differences of those sexualities (be they in aliens or human-like beings) are generally tolerated and accepted as normal by most people.

Maybe "Star Trek" the TV show wasn't willing to show an actual lesbian couple (rather than two women portraying the reincarnation of a straight couple), but there is enough shown to infer that Starfleet doesn't discriminate or denigrate based on sexual orientation.


I also find it interesting looking back now after Britney, and Katy Perry, and all the other things that have happened in pop culture over the past two decades, and remembering how this benign scene used to be such a big deal. Same with the Kirk/Uhura kiss. It's interesting to note how far we've come (and depressing to think about far behind we used to be).

++++++

As for the story itself, I go back and forth for the reasons many of you have already stated.

At first I thought the Trill taboo was an odd contrivance. If past associations are so taboo, why does Dax spend so much time around all of Curzon's old buddies? And if you actually live on the Trill planet, surely you'd come into contact with a LOT of your former spouses and children. Especially in a field like politics where you constantly negotiate with other ambitious Trills and tend to interact with many of your constituents.

On the other hand, I can kind of see the point of the taboo. If I died and was reincarnated, I'd want to go back and rejoin with my spouse, see how the lives of my children and grandchildren turned out. I'd just seek them out and try to resume my old life right where I left off. Which could be a problem for the new initiated host.

They didn't really go into this too much, but what becomes of the initiate host's family? Remember hosts are grown adults before they are joined, with their own lives and experiences and worlds to live. Lenara had a brother. Under different circumstances, does Lenara turn her back on her parents, her brother, and possibly even her own spouse or children in order to go back and re-live past lives with former spouses and siblings and children? Personally, I have a wife and 2 daughters. Once joined, do I abandon them to re-immerse myself with my former wife and children? And what if a host marries someone who used to be one of their past symbiant's former children? Taboo? Awkward? I can see the societal ramifications of such intimate and familial relationships in a way that merely re-associating with old buddies or colleagues might not present.

Now that I am a grown adult with kids of my own, this episode became a lot more powerful for me, even beyond any plot holes. I envisioned the emotional torture I might go through seeing a reincarnated version of my wife. Or even just knowing she was out there, somewhere. Especially if she were taken from me suddenly through something sudden like a plane crash, where so much was left unsaid. I really don't know what I would do. How might I react if my wife's soul was hosted in a man's body? Or my children? If I die and am reincarnated, how do I just let go of them? Never see them or contact them again? How do I just willingly leave that life behind?

Could have been better explored, and the pain and probably could have been better acted, but the story itself is very intriguing.
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Brian S.
Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Indiscretion

The sand spine moment didn't really strike me as comic relief. In other words, it wasn't really intended to be funny for the sake of audience laughter the way a well-timed Rules of Acquisition quote might be. It was a humorous moment for the characters to share. Except that the "laughter" went a lot deeper than that and actually helped illustrate the relationship between the two.

Up to that point, the two characters had been strategically adversarial. Going along and tolerating each other for the sake of the mission and the larger spirit of the peace treaty, but the tension and contempt for each other was palpable. Nearly every comment was a pointed jab at the other, even the compliments (or as Garak might say, "*Especially* the compliments"). Their entire conversation was a constant power struggle. Dukat's condescension towards Kira trying to maintain his superiority and justify his actions during the Occupation; Kira wanting to lash back at the former oppressor of her people and looking for any avenue to attack him.

When Dukat sits on the thorn, Kira laughs loudly at him. But Kira's initial laughter wasn't jovial. It was bitter. It was basically schadenfreude. She was enjoying seeing him in a little pain. Here was the man who was the taskmaster, this powerful man who inflicted so much pain and misery on her and her people, who ordered death squads to kill dozens of freedom fighters.....and he's hopping around like mad, howling and begging one of his former enemies to help him, because of a simple thorn. It gave Kira the satisfaction of seeing Dukat knocked him down a peg....and Dukat knew it. And had no defense for it.

At first Dukat was just simply dealing with the momentary reaction of the pain. He quickly turns to anger and frustration over losing control of the situation and seeing his air of superiority and authority stripped away. He invested so much time and energy trying to maintain his power in front of Kira, and now she's just sitting back laughing as he makes a spectacle of himself. It infuriates him and he shouts at her. But then he calms down a bit and has no other choice but to acknowledge the humor of the situation. And for a moment, the bravado and the power struggles and the manipulative game-playing are all set aside and they share a brief but genuine chuckle that helps bring down some of the walls between, even if only slightly.

They still don't like each other much (Kira less so), but for one brief moment, they stopped being bitter rivals or cold allies. I thought it was well-done.

*****

As for Sisko-Yates, the part I didn't like is how it's acceptable for her to fly off the handle the way she did. I get that he could have been a little more communicative with her, but Sisko was right....her moving to the station *IS* a big step. Surely she would (or should) have recognized that and understood it.

This is his first real serious relationship since his wife's death. The possibility of her moving to the station was pretty sudden (not something they had talked about at length for months before). It's understandable that he might still have some reservations or hesitation before such a major change in their relationship status. A more compassionate partner would have been more understanding of how big a step this was and how Sisko might need a few days to process this new development and figure out if he was ready for it. Storming out and stonewalling him because he displayed a reserved response is detrimental to a healthy relationship where the feelings of BOTH partners are valued.

If my wife had basically asked to move in with me after only 6 months, I would have hesitated, too. And I probably would have rejected it as being too much too soon, even though I loved her.
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Brian S
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 4:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Past Tense, Part I

I have mixed feelings about this episode.

On the one hand I like the message that it tries to convey, which is the message that's really at the heart of the entire Star Trek franchise....it gets better.

Star Trek itself is an admittedly rose-colored utopian view of what humanity can achieve. Unfortunately, for all its utopian ideology spread out over almost 50 years, Star Trek is deafeningly silent on the particular specifics of how we get from here to there.

One of the most interesting and yet ultimately useless exchanges in this episode is that conversation between Sisko and Bashir as they walk through the Sanctuary. Bashir asks how they could let things get this bad and Sisko says he doesn't know. But the answer is obvious and repeated by other characters throughout....because there simply aren't enough resources to feed and house and medicate and employ everybody in society.

We've grappled with those problems for centuries. Right now, there is no viable economic solution to that. Arguably the biggest hurdle we face between getting from here to there over the next 300+ years is the economic front....and yet the economics of life in the Federation are the most underexplored facet of the entire Star Trek genre. They've explored virtually every obscure social, political, and scientific theory to date, and yet they have largely completely ignored explaining something as basic as how Sisko's dad operates a restaurant in a world of replicators and no profit motive.

I love that this episode begins to touch on some of those issues that bridge the gap between our current world and the ideological world of Star Trek, but in an episode where the primary villain is an economic system that is out of control, they basically punted on any discussion of how to actually address any of the very real economic problems. Give people a chance to work. Okay. Doing what? I have no job openings. I love Star Trek's idealistic message, but a message devoid of any practical application is useless.

Say what you will about the transporter "technobabble," but at least the writers put in some effort to logically explain how Sisko, Bashir, and Dax were transported into the past. That was a lot more effort than what they put into explaining how Earth overcomes the economic problems of the 21st century. The existence of the Sanctuaries and the actions necessary to eliminate them are a whole hell of a lot more complex than just some more "caring" and not "giving up."
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Brian S
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Past Tense, Part I

@Latex Zebra: "The thing that I don't get is how a riot influence so much in the future. Surely World War III would have been the biggest game changer." - Probably true. But while WWII was the biggest game-changer of the 20th century, there were still plenty of political, economic, and social turning points in the decades prior to Pearl Harbor that heavily influenced how we went into that war and how we came out of it. If the Sanctuary problem wasn't addressed when it was and the economic divide among the classes grew worse and worse to the point where change became significantly harder to achieve (with potential ramifications for which factions "win" WWIII), that could have had significant consequences. Imagine how different today's world would look if the US that didn't have the economic or manufacturing strength to win either WWI or WWII. The economic impacts of the Gilded Age and Great Depression, as well as the social impacts of Reconstruction and the Progressive movement are still with us a century later.


@Yanks: "This is the standard Rich guy = bad, blah, blah…...If this episode "preaches" anything, it's that the government can't be the solution." - I disagree.

First, this isn't about "Rich Guy = Bad." It's about a lack of empathy and human compassion for those in lower classes. The bad guys aren't bad because they are wealthy, they are "bad" because they've stopped caring about other people to the degree that millions of people are locked up in a de facto prison. Some are locked up for the "crime" of being unable to obtain adequate care for their mental illnesses, and that lack of empathy extends in this episode to people who lose their jobs and are unable to support themselves (or in our current vernacular, the "moochers"). It's the same reason the Ferengi are so grotesquely portrayed. The problem with the Ferengi is not their wealth, it's their excessive unconscionable pursuit of wealth to the exclusion of any compassion or consideration for the well being of anybody but themselves.

Second, Star Trek IS big government. Star Trek's "solution" to the ills of the 20th & 21st centuries is a one-world government, later superceded by a larger Federation government that encompasses roughly 10% of the entire galaxy. Starfleet itself (the organization shown in every iteration of Star Trek) is the military wing of that government. So you'll be hard-pressed to argue that Star Trek is making a case that government is "never the solution," when the government of Star Trek is basically omnipresent to the viewer. Not every government solution IS the answer, but good government solutions CAN be the answer. And the problem isn't really government.....it's power. Removing government power from a situation like poverty doesn't automatically solve a problem. All it does is create a vacuum where someone else with power will step in. In our current climate, that power vacuum will likely be filled by a small group of extremely wealthy and powerful people acting on their own accord, accountable to nobody but themselves. If we're lucky, the elite oligarchs who take control of our society in the absence of strong government will be benevolent. But if they aren't? That's what democratic govt is supposed to do. We put the responsibility of solving society's ills in the hands of a democratically elected Congress, ultimately accountable to the people. If you remove that responsibility of government, the problem of homelessness doesn't go away.....it just shifts to a small group of people like Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, or the Koch brothers, or the Waltons, or Rupert Murdoch who can handle the situation however they personally choose, accountable to nobody but their own whims. And if they choose to exercise their power in a way that benefits them to the detriment of society, so be it.
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Brian S
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Abandoned

Data was (or at least was argued to be) a sentient being, even though he is little more than a byproduct of his own programming.

In TNG's "Measure of a Man," Picard argues that sentience requires merely intelligence, self-awareness, and consciousness. It's unassailably clear that the Jem Hadar boy possesses all these things. That he chooses to to become a warrior and rejoin his people is no different from a Klingon orphan who grows up and chooses to embrace his Klingon heritage. There may be some troubling moral feelings about letting the child returning to the people who genetically manipulated him and forced him to be addicted to drugs as a way of controlling him, but in this episode, he did little but attempt to defend himself when faced with the prospect of spending the rest of his life being a lab experiment.

This also differs from the situation with the Borg Hugh who, although maybe not directly personally responsible for the attacks on the Federation, was to an extent a soldier in an army that the Federation was in an open war against.

To this point in DS9, the Federation was not yet at war with the Dominion or Jem Hadar. There were some battles and skirmishes, but no war. To take a clearly sentient orphan boy who had yet committed no crime and sentence him to a lifetime as a prisoner to be scientifically experimented on simply because he belonged to a race of people that the Federation feared additional conflicts with would have been.....well, inhuman.

By that logic, when Worf was a small boy, the Federation should have imprisoned him in a laboratory and performed all kind of genetic experiments on him, simply because he was a member of a race of warriors whom the Federation had previously fought with. Turning the Jem Hadar boy into a lab rat would have been no different than turning baby Worf into a lab rat. The JH's genetic engineering and drug addiction are irrelevant.
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