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Peter G.
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 10:11am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

@ Derek,

"I'm with a number of you in that Sisko's reaction to Picard was rude and uncalled for and i was uncomfortable with Picard's wimpy reaction. "

In TNG addressing a superior officer like this wouldn't have happened as that show always had a certain decorum. And that's exactly the point and why it's such an important scene for DS9's pilot: this isn't DS9! (or as Sisko would say in a later episode, "I'm not Picard!") This isn't a show set in a cushy starship, but in orbit around a broken world full of broken people, and Sisko is being shown as being one of them in that sense. When you say his tone with Picard was uncalled for, do you mean that rudeness isn't befitting a Starfleet officer? But Sisko isn't just a Starfleet officer, he was a husband and a father. We're being shown a man who's lost the love of his life and hasn't recovered from it. He's still hurting as if it just happened to him. And the face of the man who did it is sitting right across from him. He's in pain and has nowhere to direct it. Is it fair for him to blame Picard? Of course not, that's not how grief and pain work. He's a damaged man to be sure, that's the point. Picard is savvy enough to pick up on this and chooses not to engage. What could he say to a man who feels like he's lost everything and isn't even sure he wants to be in Starfleet any more? Buck up? Picard has more class than that.

This is one of my favorite scenes *in the series* so forgive me if I rush to defend it. I think it's a very meaningful scene, in both its implications for the series, as well as the sheer fact of someone addressing Picard like that.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 20, 2017, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

For what it's worth, the Klingons of TOS era don't seem to universally subscribe to the 'old ways' and honor. Kor did seem to embody a lot of what we come to know about the Klingons in TNG (glory, glee in battle, seeking challenge) but Koloth definitely doesn't as far as we can tell, and Kang is probably a wash (is willing to use trickery but also has some kind of sense of principles). I don't think that in this era it's so clear-cut what they would or wouldn't do. It probably depends on lot on who's the one doing it. This is only the second time we've seen religious-type Klingons, the first of which was on Borath, and those weren't warriors. So I don't feel confident to suggest that cannibalism or taking sex slaves is off-canon for them. Maybe it would be for Worf's family, but probably isn't for the House of Duras or warriors more focused on their own glory than any sense of honor. Don't forget that TOS Klingons are the USSR, which means a lot of warlike but also deceptive and corrupt traits may fit them.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Jammer,

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

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

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

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

@ William & Omicron,

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

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

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

That's how I see it, anyhow.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 18, 2017, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Krill

@ Omicron,

"It's like we, today, no longer do human sacrfices. Nor do we torture people and burn them at the stake for being of the wrong religion. How did humanity (or at least: western civilization) come to stop doing those things? Simple: our society has outgrown the need for these practices. They gradually became socially unacceptable and people stopped doing them. It's definitely *not* because we, as individual human beings, are somehow less petty and vengeful than our ancestors. "

You're up s**t's creek without a paddle on this one. If you think the docile contented people of today are anything like how people used to be then I think you're really taking modern life for granted. As a Trek fan I'm surprised that you'd take supposed advances in culture so much in stride and not consider that people have changed. Some of the changes are arguably not entirely for the better, but that's a matter of perspective perhaps. The Trekkian utopia is predicated on the notion that people can and do progress. The idea that technology improves but we stay the same is more likely a dystopia setting than anything else.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Chrome,

"One of the science officers, I believe, suggested that the tartigrade could be awakened by hydration, and it was Saru's expectation that they'd do just that. They've been using the creature for weeks now and likely have a better understanding of its biology. Anyway, I think because Stamets realized the risks to the creature were too great, he stepped in and used the stop-gap solution he and Burnham figured out instead."

The creature was being subjected to brain damage from the jumps, and upon being sufficiently drained or whatever it withdrew into an effective coma. The fact that it became dehydrated in the process is a lot different from just saying that it was thirsty so let's give it a drink and it'll be better. In a way it's giving the show some credit to suggest that the hydration idea was a Hail Mary and really had no basis in fact since they were desperate. We already knew it was damage done to Ripper that was the issue, not dehydration. But if you want to suggest that this was a legitimate way to revive Ripper then we enter the Dr. Who zone in full force where [insert magic technobabble] can solve any problem. The unknown alien life form that we don't understand is paralyzed with damage? Easy fix, give it the magic elixir. On this kind of reading of the episode you'd be right, that they could have revived Ripper at will and chose not to do so. But I never got that impression because they never took the time to have any sort of conversation about what reviving it would mean. See other shows re: "Sir, we can give him the adrenaline but he may die if we do" for context of how to handle the pros/cons of attempting revival, to say nothing of the fact that this would be applying an experimental treatment to a potentially unwilling life form. It was just "Revive it, the plot doesn't have time to deal with how." The actual state of Ripper's physiology was irrelevant to the episode, as was the idea of actually giving us a chance to learn about the creature (since you suggest they had studied it and learned). I guess Discovery is about discovering ways to move the plot along, rather than discovering things about a new and interesting being.

Putting aside the issue of how the issue of how to revive Ripper was hand-waved away, that still leaves the matter of whether you'd put your crew's life in the hands of a creature yanked out of a coma and probably on death's door. That's really better than using warp drive and making a run for it? What happened to the good old Trek tropes of hiding in nebulae and making a mad dash for Federation space? The fact of the matter is that Saru didn't even bother to notify Starfleet command that he was taking their precious tech into Klingon space under risky circumstances so that they could at least muster a fleet to try to rendez-vous in case the jump drive failed enroute. If the jump drive is really the lynch-pin to the war effort you'd think that safeguarding it would be of *such high priority* that at least this precaution would be taken. But no, Saru's 'character building' moment (aka character assassination) consisted of him potentially deep-sixing the whole war effort because he was jealous of his previous CO. Yeah, this guy should really be wearing command stripes alright.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Peremensoe,

"William... what *did* Discovery do? The tardigrade was freed, and a crewman took its place in the drive system (at the possible cost of himself, maybe the whole ship, perhaps the war effort). It's not "devolved" to acknowledge that moral challenges can be complicated, that principles can conflict, that things are not always what they first seem, that people do not always know the right thing at once."

Not really. They already knew Ripper was being hurt when Saru commanded them into Klingon space and they made the jump anyhow. That was already over the line in terms of the devolution of Starfleet principles. Later on when Stamets inserted himself into the machine it wasn't even a question of whether to exploit the creature versus using himself; using the creature was already out of the question. Ripper had gone into hibernation and was out of the picture already, and they had zero knowledge of how to revive it or get it back into working condition. Saru's command to "just wake it up, do whatever you have to" was amongst the dumbest moments in Trek, where it wasn't even brought up how they could possibly do that or what state it would have to be in to function as navigator. Would you take a pilot who was in a coma, smack him on the head to wake him up and immediately give him navigational control of a starship? What we see here isn't merely cruel but stupid as well. And Saru was a science officer previously! I guess that got retconned away already.

Back to my point, when Stamets inserts himself it's not even clear that it's because he doesn't want to revive Ripper - we don't even know if he can. Using himself is actually the best chance for the ship anyhow. The plot itself took away the moral choice once they were in Klingon space since Ripper was out of commission. They had already transgressed. It's true that freeing Ripper at the end was a moral choice, but even then it's not clear whether this was to cease the enslavement or because it was the only way to prevent it dying. Either way it's a step in the right direction, but it's a far cry from refusing to use it anymore as a navigator. The fact that the story had Ripper cease to be able to do the job anymore undermined the ability for the crew to choose to stop using it of their own volition. That choice was never made, so all we have is that they used it until it nearly died, then they got rid of it.
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Peter G.
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

I guess I've chosen my pain, since I intend to continue trying to watch this show. I have to admit it's giving me flashbacks with when ENT was on the air and I had to struggle to stay with the show. The main difference between them seems to be that on ENT I was bored most of the time and found most of the characters tedious, whereas here I'm being actively aggravated.

My chief complaint about observing life on the SS Gestapory is the lack of moral fabric. I could believe what happens on that show if it was set in 2017 with advanced tech, but it's the not the Federation I ever knew. The fact, as another poster mentions, that Saru was set up to act like this in the previous episode doesn't change the fact that they took a character who disagreed with Burnham on ethical fundamentals but otherwise had his own unique POV (a throwback to the Bones/Spock disagreements) and turned him into yet another flawed, amoral example of how people in the future are no better than modern people are. Great, how uplifting. Even Saru's arguments with Burnham were never earned on a dramatic level, despite the fact that having a conflict on the ship is good for developing material. When Bones and Spock would quarrel with each other it was understood as being within the context of a friendship, and as two people who respected each other despite having different core beliefs. It was the essence of the Federation in microcosm. With Saru and Burnham their disputes didn't at all come from a place of respect but rather from animosity at the galling idea that someone would disagree with 'obvious' conclusions. Once again, how modern of them, to show future people as being intellectually intolerant. The one character who wasn't like that was Georgiu, who is being made out by this time to have been some kind of paragon, even though to whit she seemed to me like what I would ordinarily consider an average, run of the mill Starfleet officer in her temperament. It goes to show that what is baseline average in regular Trek will be treated here like the holy grail of wisdom. That's where the bar is now.

I don't want to dissect the awkward plotting and clunky dialogue in detail, but I will mention that the dialogue in the opening conversation between Tilly and Burnham was laden with anachronistic contemporary phrases. TNG went so far out of its way to differentiate how future people speak that it overstepped at times and scripted sterile, tepid dialogue. But Gestapory is doing the opposite and it showing from many different angles how much the crew *is not* different from modern people, including the swearing. Set and match.

Returning to my concern about the previous episode, we do indeed bear witness in this installment to the fact that the creature howling in agony whenever it's plugged in seems to be unrecognizable to anyone on the ship as torture, or even discomfort or mistreatment. Is the audience being treated to Ripper's inner monologue whenever we watch it scream? If not, what gives? We seem to have it confirmed that this is a ship of Nazis, where even the suggestion that the creature is suffering, no less sentient, is brushed aside with zero crew members raising a fuss about it. In TOS this would be enough to remove the Captain over. With Lorca we could understand why officers would be afraid to go up against him; but with Saru being the one in charge it just makes them all look like Gestapo. Worse, even Burnham only seems to base her argument on life-sign readings, and not on the fact that the creature spends most of its screen time screaming. And then Stamets even admits in the end (whether he meant this somewhat in jest or not) that he only saved the creature so his partner, who has a conscience, wouldn't leave him. Also, is anyone else sick of the sci-fi trope that the medical officer is the only one who will conscientiously refuse to harm an innocent creature? It's pretty sad when Federation ethics is only being taught in medical school. Even putting aside whether the creature was suffering, no one on the show even brought up the issue of whether the creature was *willing*. Enslaving any creature for menial labor would have been something I'd think the Federation ceased to do long ago, and especially not with a totally new species where no attempt to communicate was ever made. But, yeah, I guess if no one can even notice screaming then they'd probably not be too swift on the uptake to consider that Ripper might have wants.

I guess none of this should come as a surprise from a show produced by the guy who brought us Fringe, the Trek reboots, a Transformers TV show, and a reboot of The Mummy. I actually feel bad lumping Fringe in here with the others since I somewhat enjoyed it, but it too was fraught with inconsistent characterization and a plot that never knew where it was going, along with morally questionable choices.

In the main Gestapory is Trek amateur hour with lots of money thrown at it. The lack of having a real brain on the project shows. It's like having a bunch of eight year olds flying a space shuttle. It looks at first glance like a scientific mission until you observe the piloting and realize it's more like an expensive go-kart.
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Peter G.
Sat, Oct 14, 2017, 12:09am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Sulu,

The fact that a thing *can* survive in space doesn't mean it lives there or hangs out there or is all over the place out there. According to Context Is for Kings Michael can live in space for 10-20 seconds and survive. Not as long as the spores can, but she *can* survive being out in space. Does that mean the cosmos is filled with Michaels and that they encircle every star, ubiquitous elements to a universe dense enough to be an equivalent to subspace?

The whole thing is laughable, unless they mean a different thing by "spores" that we mean. And since Ripper is an oversized version of a common "tiny bear" creature that literally lives on Earth, we know it is *that kind* of spore. So, no, sorry.

And PS - I think some people misunderstand what subspace is. The concept of the warp drive is to use focused graviton fields to bend space in front of the ship, condensing space so that a large distance can be travelled quickly due to it being compress, and it's uncompressed when the ship has passed. This is 100% plausible and hinges on the mastery of gravity fields. Subspace is what you get after you ask this: if you can bend space, then that means it's made of something. Well then if it's actually something, then that something must exist within some medium, which is - presumably subspace. It's literally the substratum beneath normal space. Does that actually exist? That depends on whether there is an aether (and old physics question) and I believe that question become prominent again soon. So much even of TNG Trek is based on either real science or extrapolations of the best guess about science based on what we know now. Even TNG's Parallels went into multiverse theory; there are so many science nods in the show that Prof. Hawking wanted to be a guest star. It's no accident, they did the work. Nowadays I guess [tech] is jut filler.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 13, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

I just had some thoughts about Lorca. I think I'm getting where they're going with him. My initial concern with him was that he was the Section 31 man, an 'evil' character employing ends justify the means mentality. But my read on him may not be their intent, and I think what they're going for is more of a Captain Gideon thing. Has anyone here seen the short-lived spin-off of Babylon 5, Excalibur? The Captain in that one was played as more of a Kirk-like character without being a Federation softie, who had no compunctions giving the finger the stupid people while still trying to help Earth's cause. It was a mix of having an edge with having a sense of humor, and the casting and performance were no doubt presaged by Cole's performance as Sheriff Buck on American Gothic. For those familiar with these two characters, I suspect that's maybe where they're going with this. I do see inklings that intend for Lorca to have a sense of humor, although the writing thus far hasn't done a good job getting that across. But Isaacs seems to want to go there, and it would be good if they let him. The character *could* work if he had that amazing charisma that a charmer can have, but as it is he is coming across as a Nazi to me.

Another thing I noticed is how he phrased one command in this episode: "Get it done." Captain Jellico reference? That was also a captain who at first made me hate him but who has earned my respect over time as being the right man for the job. The thing is, though, that Jellico wasn't un-Starfleet, he was just a hardass who lacked Picard's charisma. In Lorca's case he seems to both be a hardass as well as being in the wrong in terms of his values. But nevertheless maybe they're also trying to channel the Ronny Cox factor here, where his methods begin to be validated the more we see. I hope not, though, because they're not valid! But the Jellico reference may indicate that's what they're thinking of when they write it.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 13, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

@ Skreebles,

Every single thing you say is accurate, I agree with your conclusions entirely. And yet I give the episode four stars. Ha! I think this is one of those cases where it's so stupid you either love it or hate it. I loved it when I first saw it and think that at the very least it's imaginative. It reminds me somewhat of TNG's Phantasms - not in terms of plot, but in terms of having a funny/creepy atmosphere and making me interested despite the story being bonkers. "RED ALERT!" is just as memorable to me as "With mint frosting." I have to give both of these episodes that. If there are quotable lines and I like remembering parts of them, that's a big win. And yet it's a stupid episode. So I agree with you but give it the opposite rating. Funny, that.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

I could swear I saw them leave behind canisters/explosives when they jumped out. I automatically assumed they had mines there and detonated them just as the Klingons closed in and they jumped out.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Chrome,

That's fair. DS9 came in with certain advantages baked in, based on the concept and timeframe of the show. It's accurate to point out that DSC has set itself up with none of those advantages and so has a harder task of creating characters and a world in which to inhabit. And this goes to what some people are saying, which is...why did they pick this setting? Your point would seem to suggest that they basically shot themselves in the foot and made it harder than it had to be to create a backbone for the show. If it had been set in 2400 we could have had cameos from Trek veterans, references to things we know, and milked things set up by other series. The fact that they can't do any of that is their own fault. Want to make a prequel series? Ok then, but you'd better be able to back it up.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Robert.

You've done a good job illustrating the difference between review and analysis. If one reviews Voyager S1 there is a lot one can say that's good, including the FX, production design, editing, pacing, and even some of the stories. But there's a je-ne-sais-quoi missing that would place a ceiling on how interesting it could ever be, in my opinion. And to solve what that is takes analysis. I think, for starters, there's no character on Voyager who cared about anything as much as Kira cared about Bajor (and about hating Cardassians), as Sisko cared about his wife, and as Miles cared about duty. Heck, not even as much as Julian cared about scoring with women. There's a lot of flat energy in there, with the exception of B'elanna and the Doctor, and even then their ferocity is more a matter of temperament than a result of them having some great need to be fulfilled. They're feisty, but seem to have nothing to do. If anything Seska fits the bill more than the rest of them on this score of having some driving force behind their behavior. So you look at Duet and realize that this kind of episode was set up by Kira being who she is and having the problems she has. It's a natural unpacking of her 'issues' when confronted by a good Cardassian. So that's a very high ceiling in terms of what could be done with that raw material. Voyager painted themselves into several corners over the years, most notably with the fact that the crew for the most part had no wants or needs that weren't being met. So you can have technical ratings for Voy S1 based on objective criteria and see it's rated often higher than DS9, while still somehow noting that something's missing and that while some DS9 episodes are wanting in the plot department there is still that magic something in the mix that could be harnessed at any moment (and finally is by the end of S1). A DS9 2.5 star episode might be imperfect but it can point towards something better, while a Voyager 3 star episode is very often a dead end that doesn't suggest anything better to come. And this is borne out in the flow of the series over seven seasons, where they either knew there was nowhere to take the crew, or refused to do so, or both. Introducing Seven of Nine was a more or less blatant admission of this, and the rest of the series is her show. I think ENT had some of that same problem, where there wasn't much they could do with some of the crew with the exception of T'Pol and Tripp, and Phlox I guess. So you could have a good ENT episode but it ends up being a stand-alone, and the next script's quality will make or break next week's outing. In DS9 a good script actually served to enhance future episodes, giving even the mediocre ones still some part in paving the way for the better ones. Was VOY S1 better than DS9 S1 in some respects? Yes, technically. But it didn't lay bricks to allow itself to ascend, and so (for me) the viewing experience is hampered by knowing that nothing good that happens goes anywhere. That's something not captured by the star rating, which reviews stand-alone merit but doesn't address series progress (and I don't mean story arcs). Jammer has mentioned this himself, I think, in some of the season wrap-ups. So you can have the peculiar case of noting higher Voyager or ENT episode ratings while still somehow sensing that the show is suffering from problems.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 1:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Peremensoe,

"Did you not see Burnham watching it, right along with us? Lying on her bunk afterward, troubled? I think the show telegraphed the message pretty clearly. Surely we don't need characters on-screen to literally say everything for us? Anyway, I can't see how it will not be revisited."

I know. But what I'm talking about is someone in the show making a fuss about it. Burnham did look troubled by it, but said nothing, and more importantly, no one else said anything either. Maybe it'll be implied that everyone on this ship is basically a Nazi, in which case that would explain it. But if they're even vaguely normal Federation citizens then I can't see how it would go without strenuous comment. Presenting the Captain with at least a counter-argument "Sir, are you sure we should do this?" Something. Even an average American in the present day would probably speak up about an animal being tortured. And in Trek they're supposed to be so advanced that they're beyond racism, hate, and prejudice. I find the incident really troubling, mostly in terms of how cynical and jaded the show implies the crew is to gleefully allow it to happen. Again, if we later learn that the Captain hand-picked all the most villainous crew possible I guess I'll admit it made sense in hindsight.

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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Chrome,

The issue you raise about how solar sails could achieve FTL is directly addressed in the episode. The Cardassians' entire case is based on that argument! You may not like that it's explained away by FTL eddies in space, but at least they answer the question.

About fungus-based processing power, I do like the idea. I said in a previous post I thought it was cool. That it covers the entire universe would seem to be counter-factual based on what we know now, rather than a possibility modern science may suggest. That a Trek ship magically not only discovers this network but has already created a propulsion system based on it (how? doing what?) it the part that's just magic fantasy stuff. It would take ridiculously long to develop that kind of tech, and it would be a game changer as much as the warp drive was. Like heck the other races wouldn't use it, especially since they just showed it off in front of Klingons (and took no pains to make sure they didn't send out messages about it). Even if it was limited to short jumps they'd use it, so no, I don't think there's any way to make sense out of the continuity. But I'd be ok with that: just call it a reboot, or else some other name than Trek. What we have here looks more like a technological dystopia.

But even putting aside what I think Trek should be, even taken as a stand-alone sci-fi I feel like Discovery so far does little more than insult the intelligence of the audience. Could the idea of a spore network be interesting? You bet. But the show revolves around action shots and tense pacing so that there's no possibility of an observation lounge discussion about what this tech implies or could mean. How about a discussion about what it even means for there to be a unifying spore network in the universe? Nada, it's all just how can this be turned into a cool special effect. The showrunners seems to be of a like mind to Lorca. That's what will drive me away in the end.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Chrome,

Well, sure. You can take particular tech and ask how it makes sense. The old Okuda joke about how the Heisenberg compensator in the transporter system works come to mind: "It works very well!" So we know there are just conceits that help the story so that people don't have to shuttle all over the place, and to try to imagine new technologies. If anything a spore drive could exist in a Trek show dozens of even hundreds of years after Voyager. But putting aside the continuity issues, there is zero science, theoretical, fantastical, or anything, that would suggest a system of living spores inhabits every part of the universe. Isn't this just The Force or whatever? Star Wars had no pretension about discussing physics, right? They were basically on a metaphor about the Yogic system and Qi.

It's true, though, not every Trek tech is really plausible. But at least they're based on an in-universe understanding of reality within some parameters. How does a solar sail work? Presumable surfing on cosmic rays. Is that enough to make a ship go? We already know (in 2017!) that the EM drive works to create significant propulsion using very little electromagnetic input, in a way that is very odd indeed. I definitely think of that when I think of the solar sail. The EM drive didn't exist back then, but it's funny that something potentially like it already does exist. Trans-warp conduits were never explained, but at least it seemed clear that they were some physical structures that the Borg travelled through, like tunnels. Was it artificial wormholes? Who knows. In Voyager it's implied they are entirely artificially constructed. DS9 shows us that wormholes are something that can be constructed, and this doesn't defy modern science in any notable way other than we don't know at present how a wormhole aperture could ever be large enough to fit more than a particle or two. But all that to me is still musing on the limits of what we know. A Dr. Who spore drive (teleportation anywhere) is more like the Outer Limits, if you catch my drift. It's not an attempt at prediction of any sort; there is no reason to believe it's any more real than elves and dragons. Even warp drive is entirely believable as a tech, and NASA even has it in mind that a warp drive could be a legitimate method of conveyance. Even in Dune, which also incorporates teleportation, there is a serious effort made to portray this as being an interpretation of how science really works and how it will be used in the future. So teleportation itself isn't what I'm objecting to, but more the idea of spores being all over the universe and that 10 years before Kirk they'll be able to harness this and have UNLIMITED POWER! Yes, I do imagine Palpatine in Ep III when I think of Isaacs with this tech.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

By the end of this episode I was upset. Not only at the elimination of sci-fi being the centerpiece of Trek, replaced by magic and doublespeak, but because of how they treated that creature to use it as a computer against its will. The sad part is I know the audience is meant to feel for the creature, and therefore in so doing the writers deliberately have the crew do a terrible thing (use a potential sentient as a slave, torturing it) *so that* we may feel bad about it. That's exploitative writing, like showing someone being tortured just to make us squirm. That's not storytelling, that's sadism. The moment it was suggested they use the creature for that purpose, where was the crew objecting to "But Captain! Can we use a living being for that??" Where was the Data trying to speak on behalf of the Exocomps. Zero people objected or said one word about it, and the audience is supposed to feel that the ship experienced a big success. They gave many reaction shots to happy crew members when the colony was saved, and it was blatantly filmed as a triumphant moment. Maybe (maybe!) they'll follow up in a subsequent episode about reflecting back on the morality of what they'd done, but that's not good enough. Forget Trek, ANY SHOW should notify the audience immediately of such a moral transgression. The series 24, famous for creating desperate scenarios requiring extreme measures, took pains to make it clear when and why Jack Bauer had to go too far. You don't do that hours after the fact, you make it clear when it's happening so the audience understands the moral context. So EVEN IF Discovery covers this later on, it's already too late. They perpetrated a moral atrocity on screen with no commentary about it, and with the crew's de facto thumbs up since no one stands up and says anything. Even the chief engineer, who hates violence, war, or misuse of science, seemed gleeful to find a way to power his spore drive. Is that an inconsistency, or is he just a psychopathic monomaniac who cares about his drive and nothing else, and makes up mealy-mouthed BS when his tech isn't used the way he wants? I bet that question will never be answered.

And don't even get me started on the "science" involved in the spore drive. I'll give one example: the engineer mentions something about the Glenn failing because they hit a "Hawking radiation manifold". Nice technobabble there. It's too bad that TNG and DS9 (more so TNG) took pains to incorporate cutting edge physics theories to back up their episodic plots, and that nowadays any old garbage filler serves as the "science" behind the engine. I think Voyager destroyed peoples' minds more than they realize if they'll accept lines like this as "science" fiction. It's just fiction, and not even a contextually rational use of technobabble. Hawking radiation is particles that escape from the event horizon of a black hole due to quantum fluctuations. It isn't something that would be relevant to space jumps, or something that would even be relevant unless you were dancing around a black hole. Maybe in the future we'll discover something new about Hawking radiation, but for now that's what we know about it, and implying some fantastical Warhammer 40k interpretation of it (i.e. space fantasy) is just pathetic. Don't bring science into it if you're a writer and don't know crap about science. It's just insulting to the physics and engineering fanbase that used to love watching TNG because of how on point its science was. We're closer to Dr. Who at this point in terms of the show being about talking about how the universe really is.

Medal for dumbest scene ever on a Trek show (including salamanders) go to the security chief suicide by creature. She was a Nazi anyhow but the way her death was handled was equally fascistic, as another commenter mentioned.

This show isn't Star Trek. For that I could never forgive it, but I could learn to like it as something else, something new. That it additionally has no brain is something offering me no chance to like it.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: First Contact

@ Silly,

"I always liked how sarcastically Picard said the lines "In my century, we don't succumb to revenge. We have a more evolved sensibility."

He KNOWS he's full of it and doesn't care."

You know, that's a really good point. FC focused so much on the action story and on Picard being Captain Ahab that it failed entirely to cash in on what should have been a very interesting point about humanity changing over the centuries. Picard's statement isn't BS - it should be true. He says it because he knows it's true, or it's supposed to be for people of his time. What's supposed to be poignant is that Picard has become *so damaged* by what the Borg did to him that he has actually fallen below the standard for his time in this one regard. It should be a sad moment where we realize that he was more of a victim than we realize, that he was weakened in his moral character in the specific area of revenge. Even good men can be brutalized and damaged, and that's no shame, but it can still *feel* shameful to be weakened in that way. There might even be an analogy here to being a rape victim, where you can still feel guilty even though there's no guilt.

The Earth in Cochrane's time has just been repeatedly brutalized, through the eugenics wars and then WW3. They're still in pieces when we meet them here, and there's a parallel to be drawn between the beaten humanity, exemplified by a wayward Cochrane who has lost hope, and between Picard, who has likewise been beaten down and lost some optimism. He has something in common with these people, but instead of Lily showing him how she can understand how he feels, that at worst he's only human, we instead are treated to a literary reference which is supposed to be deep but which I thought was trite even in the cinema when it first came out.

In short, the thread of Picard having fallen beneath his own values should have been a strong statement about humility and how even great men can need help. It's something Robert Picard said and he was right. But Moore focused instead on the action plot and on Picard being 'out of control', which made for some 'tension' but wasn't particularly moving in terms of what it meant to him. All Picard needed in the film was apparently to hear one speech, realize his mistake, and then he was ok again. How quaint. I think this was a big waste and is one of the reasons why FC is far more of a disappointment than a success in my book. I've rewatched it a couple of times and I have to say that it's just kind of boring at this point. Even mediocre TNG episodes have more interest for me.
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Peter G.
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

@ James,

How can you be sure that Jammer wasn't aware of those aspects of Trek, and instead decided to focus on the technical elements of the episodes he was reviewing? Don't forget that a reviewer may set as his task to assess the objective merits or demerits of how an episode was constructed, rather than to go into the meta-philosophy that the show may suggest. Go read almost any film review and you'll see them discuss things like humor, pace, structure, interest level, characterization, and things like that. Almost zero professional film reviews will ever deconstruct the philosophies or human perspective of the film. They know very well that those can be subjective, and also that it's better to leave each viewer to get what they can from them rather to impose the reviewer's personal interpretation of the deeper meaning. Don't be fooled into thinking that the lack of mention means they missed it. People who frequent this site are free to post interpretive comments; people like William B do so and generate discussion. But that's not a review, it's analysis. Very different operations, those.

If Jammer sounded like he was citing demerits for products like Nemesis and Voyager, maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt and surmise that he simply felt they were technically flawed in certain ways. It doesn't mean he missed the philosophy that may also be present; but the meta-narrative tends to be lost anyhow if the literal narrative is full of holes. The latter is what a review is meant to tackle. I can't speak for Jammer, but I hope this helps clarify what the difference might be between an interpretive analysis and a review.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: This Side of Paradise

The most beautiful thing about this episode is the plot. It's about a scientific research station that has discovered literal paradise, and goes on to show how bad that is! The is a point-blank statement about the Federation itself, and won't be addressed in this manner again until well into DS9. The statement being made is that the Federation *is not* a pleasure-based dystopia where everyone lies around enjoying themselves and doesn't do anything. That's the first thing I think about when I contemplate future technologies like food synthesizers, transporters, and eventually the holodeck: I imagine people living lives of hedonism and struggling to have a reason to do anything. This episode shows us that the Federation is fundamentally about *work*, about furthering the development of the human species (all species really, but we only hear of human progress for the most part), and about exploring and building communities. Paradise may feel good to the colonists when the crew meets them, but once the power of the spores fades they realize what a waste of time their paradise was, how much of a hollow experience it was. Of all episodes in the entire canon, this one is probably the most on-point about what Trek is really about.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

@ Robert,

I wasn't so much addressing your comment in particular, but was reflecting more on the thread as a whole. In context of Trek, I agree that suddenly invoking historical accuracy would seem to be out of left field when all along it's about fantasy. However I think the issue with this one is less about the holodeck in general and more about this particular program. It's one thing for an individual to have a personal fantasy he runs, or even a couple of people like Bashir and O'Brien to have a running plot. But Vic's wasn't just some interactive story, it ended up becoming an actual hangout for most of the crew, even a second reality for them. And I think that's the big difference here: Vic's was a place that many of the crew were beginning to see as being real in some sense, and the fact that they'd spend so much personal time and energy trying to save the *fictional establishment* of a lounge in a holodeck program seems to me in a way problematic in its own right. It really says that this is a real place to everyone, not just a hobby, and that's when Sisko's comment begins to have serious weight for me. They were taking a whitewashed version of a historical place as being real to them, and I do think it at least bears mentioning that this setting, which means so much to them, willfully erases the fact that many of them, including Kasidy, wouldn't have actually been welcome in the real version of it. By uniting to protect Vic's they were in effect celebrating it, despite the fact that at the very least that celebration should come with a footnote of recognizing that they were cherry picking the fun parts of that era while ignoring the harsh parts.

Would it have been appropriate for Sisko to make a huge deal about it? No, after all the crew didn't mean anything bad by it. But was it worth a mention? Absolutely. Kirk in TOS mentions all the time the ways in which the Federation has advanced compared to how people were in the past. In episode after episode he observes more primitive customs and remarks how humans used to be like that. Picard does much the same. Why shouldn't Sisko also observe that humans have come a long way but were once more savage? I think it's the "our people" that makes it stand out. He's not observing from a distance but including himself in the categorization. I think it's fair to ask whether that's anachronistic, especially in light of Uhura not even realizing why having her colored referenced could be insulting. But even if it's anachronistic, I think it's still on point.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

I still don't see why a relevant commentary perspective on race can't appear in one scene without the whole episode having to be focused on that. If it were people would call it preachy, and since it's restricted to one scene it's called out for being out of left field. I think it's totally in character for Sisko, someone who celebrates black history (check his quarters) and who had personal experience in the 1920's. He's also someone much closer to loss and grief as personal demons than your average Starfleet officer. Maybe this is a failing; in Emissary it's certainly painted as being a flaw he needs to deal with. And so what? It's not like he's wrong in what he says. I think the objection comes from someplace like "Oh man, why did they have to bring *that* up in a fun heist story?" Is that too dark a subject matter for what's supposed to be light fun? Maybe that's the point, to show that it's hard for some people to forget the darker parts of life while others can switch it off and go have a jolly old time. Makes you question who really has the flaw when you look at it that way.

Plus, I don't think it's clear in this case that it was the 'writers' shoehorning that angle in. I've had a suspicion that Brooks appealed to them to make a mention of it and they agreed with him. He's the star of the show, and as the first black Captain I do think there's a responsibility to take seriously the issues he thinks are relevant to that. You may disagree, in which case I'd say it's about time you got your own starring role in a series so you can talk to the writers about what's important to you. Writing off Brooks/Sisko as dredging up a subject that should be left unsaid sounds to me like dictating what should be important to someone else. "It doesn't matter to me, so why should I have to listen to him bring it up?" Trek is supposed to make you confront things you'd rather not deal with. Now, if a character says something patently false about morality (like Janeway does, repeatedly) then that's certainly annoying. But when it's a true statement about history, just take it for what it is: part of the mosaic of the various peoples who inhabit the Federation.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

I'm starting to get what's going on with Discovery. They wanted to promote a Trek show where they didn't have to do Trek. They wanted to do a prequel where they didn't want to be stuck with prequel canon. In other words, they wanted to do whatever the heck they wanted - i.e. a reboot that still nurses on fandom from old shows, to have their cake and eat it too. In other words, a marketing ploy. Notice how the show seems conveniently to be set on a Section 31 ship? Or at least, it's run by a 31 Captain. That gives license for the entire crew to be un-Starfleet, because the rogue Captain took various misfits and threw them together because he could use them. It works on a plot level, but also acts as an excuse not to have to bother making any of them act appropriately as Starfleet officers. And it's not like they are being duped either; black alert? It basically screams black ops, and everyone seems in on it, even the green roommate. From that standpoint, the episode pretending that it was a 'normal' vessel is B.S. from every standpoint. They're not putting one over on Michael, or on the viewer. It's also a reboot in terms of tech levels. And that's ok too; having a reboot (or original) sci-fi show isn't objectionable; well it is, but wouldn't be a ground for critique of the quality of the product. We're seeing biotech that at first glance appears to be far in advance even of what the Voyager had. They could have set the series 30 years after VOY, just as some fans wanted, and introduced this spore drive, and it would have been accepted without question. But they call it a canon prequel and instead it looks bogus. That's on them. I don't object to that tech on principle, I think it's cool. It's just garbage for it to exist in 2250. Or maybe Lorca is lying about what it really is. I guess that could be it.

Speaking of Lorca, is this going to be a future Captain Garth? You heard it here first, he'll change his name at some point or we'll learn that Lorca is a code name. It may as well be Garth. "Context is for kings"? I get that, coming from a Section 31 agent. It also sounds like the kind of crap we saw over and over in TOS by rogue Captains who had a god complex. Are we having a show starring one of those? I really like Isaacs, but you know what? I'm not rooting for this guy. I could admire a Garak because he had principles and patriotism of a sort; not human principles, but you could respect them. Lorca sounds more like Dukat, and I'm actually not looking forward to having a show featuring a Captain with a god complex. It's everything the Federation is against, and I'll be the first to hope everything he ever tries to do fails. It's one thing to have Section 31 intruding on the main story; it's another thing for it to *be* the main story. It may just be the flipside, but there's a kind of hopelessness to having to watch the black ops in all the gory details.

Speaking of hopelessness, I notice that all of the people in this show share a characteristic with the characters on the Orville: they seem to speak and act like modern people. There's nothing 'futuristic' about them, or more advanced. They seem to have all the language, snark, bad attitude, and foibles of modern people. How is that worthy of a Trek show? The Trek series allowed people to see a brighter future, to have something to hope for. It's not just about good popcorn stories. Maybe the show is deliberately going to move from a dark crew to a good one over time. So we'll see about that one. But either way it seems that the writers basically don't have to bother wondering what more advanced people would be like. They can just write them however they want and it can be hand-waved away by "Section 31 ship!" In the end that's how you do a reboot without doing a reboot. Say it's a rogue ship so that anything un-Trek going on can be attributed to that rather than to the writing, and da-dah! Instant context for why continuity is disposed of. Oh, well, maybe continuity is for kings too.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Renaissance Man

@ Ben Sisko,

I gave it a rewatch last year. Didn't change what I had taken away from it previously. I noted the stronger and weaker parts, and my current thoughts on it are based on very recent memory.
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