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SkepticalMI
Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 4:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

Before I begin, I just want to say that I think this is my favorite review of yours, Jammer. Like the show itself, it seems you ended on the highest of notes.

I can't believe it's been over a year since I started rewatching TNG. Actually, I can believe it, but still, that took a while...

To me, series finales tend to be somewhat disappointing. They tend to go in (at least) one of four ways: 1) Upping the melodrama to almost absurd levels, particularly for a light or comedic show, 2) Giving a bunch of characters all some life-altering experiences (moving, marrying, dying, new jobs, whatever) all at once after being stuck in stasis for several years, 3) Unwisely throwing a huge plot twist that pisses off the fanbase (Enterprise, anyone?), or 4) just being a normal episode and the show got cancelled, thus leaving everyone hanging. All Good Things has a wee bit of melodrama, but manages to avoid all of these.

Thankfully, because the plan was to go to movies, they couldn't do all those life altering events that come out of nowhere like most shows do. And yet, despite that, they still managed to show everyone moving on with their lives by showing the future. But instead of everyone making life-altering at the same time, we have no idea when Data became a professor or Geordi got married or Deanna died or whatever. It doesn't feel like an artificial ending to the character's lives, but rather that life goes on... much as it should. The future scenes felt natural and not artificially created. We got the best of both worlds here: we saw adequate closure in everyone's lives while not actually getting a sense that the lives ended.

So instead of crazy plot twists or wrapping everything up or whatever, we got... a typical TNG episode. It is in the same vein as Contagion or Clues or Cause and Effect: something weird happens and the Enterprise crew solves it with technobabble. And this part of the plot was executed as well as any Trek does. Yes, there are the common complaints: why did the anomaly appear in the future? (maybe it grows in time as well as anti-time) Why did they claim the future beam came from the Enterprise and not the Pasteur? But hey, minor details. In the end, the mystery holds up nicely, and it was good to see the crew solve the problem one last time. This is especially true since it happened across three time periods.

But it wasn't just a typical episode. It felt grander. There was some upping of melodrama, but not overboard. But the stakes were higher, and Q's presence as a way to bookend the series ended up giving it almost all of the closure the series needed. Impressive, isn't it, that a weak opening plot with a somewhat dumb premise (godlike being puts humanity on trial, and humanity succeeds due to figuring out something obvious) turned into a great premise at the end (the real trial was getting humanity to expand its consciousness, and the godlike being was secretly helping humanity)? But that's what happened. Q's presence, most importantly his secretly helping Picard, was genius. It gives his character much more weight. I don't like the idea of a nearly omnipotent and omniscient personality having a character arc over 7 seasons, but I must admit the softening of Q turned out well. The fondness for Picard and humanity was on full display here, and it helped to solidify the optimistic view of the future that even antagonistic immortals are impressed with us.

The stakes were higher. It wasn't just the Enterprise that was threatened. It wasn't just the threat of war. The entire galaxy was threatened. The production was higher. We had guest stars: most notably Yar and Q but also O'Brien and Tomalak. We had alternate universes. We had awesome special effects (if you can remember a world before DS9's epic battle scenes, you can remember a world where the future Enterprise swooping in and firing off its massive phaser cannon was the coolest thing ever). We had lighthearted moments and drama and action. We had everything. It wasn't just a typical episode, it was an excellent one!

One thing I really want to point out is the pacing. For a two hour long show, it never drags. Not even once. We start out with the original mystery: Picard's traveling through time. We hear about it first, and it seems weird. Then we see it. The intros are appropriately lengthy to give us time to get used to the future, and to reacquaint us with the past. We start to get introduced to the new mysteries: the spatial anomaly and Picard's visions of people jeering at him. All of this takes a while to set up, yet all of it flows quickly as we move from one oddity to the next. And when we finally meet Q (in one of the best scenes and best bits of dialogue in the show), we are understandably relieved and ready for the second half. It seems surprising, but Q doesn't actually appear until the first half is almost over.

And so Q appears and makes it clear what the stakes are. Suddenly, the anomaly becomes much more important. The shifting between time periods becomes more natural and is simply to be expected. The stakes are increased, as the future Picard starts to look more and more like he's suffering hallucinations rather than telling the truth (to the rest of the crew, of course). Things start looking hopeless as Q keeps taunting Picard and the Pasteur is destroyed. And finally he has the epiphany... and the future crew start believing him. We then get a bunch of quick shots from each timeline as the three crews work together to collapse the anomaly, and we have the standard shaky cam as Enterprises start blowing up during the dramatic climax. And finally...

An impressively touching ending. First we have Q and Picard sharing a bit of, well, perhaps not friendship, but at least comradery. Their conversation, with Picard thanking Q and Q admitting his appreciation of humanity, was a touching end to the roughly once-a-season antagonism of Q. And then we have the final shot of all the crew members together, enjoying some time off one last time. And Picard joins in, as the camera pans away and the Enterprise rides off into the sunset.

This isn't just a good series finale. It's one of the best episodes of Trek. I've seen it so often I can quote practically the entire thing, and yet it's still enjoyable every single time. As sad as it may be that all good things must come to an end, I can still treasure the memory of its ending.

If there is one complaint, the "getting the band back together" aspect of the future got a bit silly at times, especially with the drama of getting the next person on board. Worf's intro was the worst. So we need to find someone who will let us in to Klingon space. Is there any mystery who it would be? And yet, Geordi's line ("How about... Worf?) was done with such drama that it got silly. And got sillier with Picard's over the top response ("Yes! Worf! Worf is the answer!!!") At least he has the excuse of having Space Dementia...

And to backtrack from that last comment a bit, I don't want to criticize Stewart's performance, because his acting was amazing in this episode. One minor example: at the very beginning, he is obviously frustrated as he is relating his experiences to Troi. One of his comments is that he was talking to someone, but can't remember who. Then we get to see the timeshifts. When we get back to the present, just the way he says "Tasha. I was talking to Tasha" and the look on his face was absolutely priceless. Stewart nails the performance, showing off just how emotional it would be to suddenly be talking to a dead friend, yet having it ripped away from you just as suddenly...
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SkepticalMI
Sat, Sep 13, 2014, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Emergence

Weird, I like this episode. Random comments:

1) I don't consider it a "holodeck malfunction" episode. Yes, the safeties went offline again, but it wasn't a major plot point. Yes, the holodeck screwed up, but only because the entire Enterprise was going haywire. So I see it as a "something weird happening on the Enterprise" episode, which I have a higher tolerance for.

2) While everyone talks about the ship coming to life and all, the truth is that the ship was more of an incubator for the new life. Whatever caused the thingy to be created, it wasn't the idea of the Enterprise. Of course, the question remained how a species could have evolved to using the computers in random passing starships to reproduce, but whatever. In any case, that means I don't have a problem or a particular fascination with the idea of the computer becoming an emergent intelligence. Adam thought that the birth of the new life going away made the whole thing pointless, but I disagree. We saw a radically different new life form being birthed, which to me was a satisfactory conclusion to this mystery. It is, after all, part of the Trek credits that the goal is to seek out new life.

3) In general, I thought the holodeck scenes worked ok. It had that random element of weirdness, but the metaphor aspect worked ok. I think in part it worked because nothing was explained. Troi suspected that different people on the holodeck represented different systems, but we have no proof of that. In fact, the engineer seemed to be an avatar of a personality that supported the crew, and then got shot. But the engines didn't die. So she was clearly wrong (what else is new?). But what was going on? It just seemed like the ship's way of talking to itself and figuring stuff out. But it was never actually explained which worked out nice.

4) This is one of the few true ensemble episodes in the latter part of the show. For once, we don't just have one character roaming around while everone else has a tiny bit-plot. Picard, Riker, Troi, Worf, and Data all had significant parts to play in the show. While first season episodes tended to be awful, one good thing about them is it tended to involve everyone. And it was just nice to finally see that again. Character pieces are great and all, but sometimes you just want to lay back and watch the team solve a weird problem.

And really, to me that's all this episode is. Just pretty good fun. It's not overly impressive by any means, it's not Cause and Effect or Timescape, but to me it's servicable. Even though The Tempest analogy at the beginning was about the most unsubtle metaphor imaginable, it did feel like one last hurrah of the classic TNG episode: a weird mystery happens, and the crew solves it. Maybe Trek was moving away from that style, and so be it. Maybe this was just one last hurrah. And it wasn't the best hurrah, admittedly. But to me, it was good enough.

One thing I would change would be to throw a few little in-jokes in there. After all, the holodeck was explicitly made up of different characters that were already programmed in, so we could have seen some old characters. Instead of Data getting run over by a car, why not have one of Worf's monsters attack him? Why not have Dixon Hill's secretary on the train? Or, for a lot of fun, why not have Barclay's mini-Riker or goddess of empathy there too?
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SkepticalMI
Sat, Sep 6, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Journey's End

I know this is way late, but Nick P, what you are describing is not at all what classical liberalism is. The definition of classical liberalism is based on the writings of John Locke (and others) and deal with the concept of natural individual ("negative") rights. It does not speak to religion or cultures as being "good" or "bad" except insofar as to whether or not they violate the individual rights. We saw no sign that these Indians were suppressing any rights, and thus there is no reason, from a classical liberal perspective, to disdain them. In fact, Picard's solution was straight out of the realm of classical liberalism. The purpose of government is to form a social contract in which people give up a bare minimum of their natural rights in order to live in a state of harmony with others. When the government demands more than that (which the Federation is demanding in this case), the people have a right to break that contract and form a new social contract. Judgment of another's culture has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Sorry for the aside, but as a strong classical liberal myself, I hate to see it misconstrued. The corruption of classical liberal ideals has been occurring since the French Revolution, and has almost nothing to do with modern liberalism or leftism.

Also, while The First Duty should have been brought up, I don't think it makes sense to have it be a significant reason for Wesley's current whinyness. The point of this episode was to call back to WNOHGB, which stated that Wesley had a unique gift equivalent to Mozart's ability in music. As such, then Wesley's disillusionment with Starfleet had to stem from the fact that he's destined for something bigger, not just because of other problems. More importantly, to have his whinyness be due to First Duty would cheapen the character, especially after Lower Decks. Sito Jaxa took it on the chin, redoubled her efforts, and worked hard in adverse conditions to end up getting through the hostile environment and getting posted to the Enterprise. If she could do it, why not Wesley? So clearly, we had to give him some other reason to be such a jerk.

And while I know this episode is seen as being the setup for the Maquis, is it really? After all, these folks are now independent. They have no reason to attack the Federation. And the Federation explicitly has no obligation to aid them. Evek seemed to be perfectly ok with this. So this colony couldn't have caused the Maquis. Unless all the other colonists saw this and suddenly declared their own independence... But that's somewhat silly. These Indians had a deep spiritual reason for staying. We were told that these areas were in dispute for over 20 years, yet all these different colonists stayed? We saw in Ensigns of Command that most people's ties to the land evaporate pretty quickly when the phasers start firing. Really, like others said, the whole Maquis thing doesn't make too much sense.

Not to mention that apparently both sides had some planets colonized in the others' territories. One would think they'd be willing to swap a few planets like that? Seriously, how important are borders when all stars are 4 light years away from each other?

And with all that, I haven't even talked much about the episode itself... Which is also a mess. Wesley's mood swings were crazy, and as others have mentioned the scene in Engineering was particularly awful. And while he is feeling depressed and cynical and all that, he decides to take up the Indians' cause and starting a riot? Is that really in character? Oh, and then he can stop time because, well, reasons. And, despite the fact that he spent the first 20 years of his life as a human, caring deeply about people, and spent several years working alongside the Enterprise folks... and then he just walks away from a phase battle because now he's superior to mere mortals. For an episode that was designed to give Wesley his grand sendoff, it didn't really feel like a real person.

And yes, the Indian plot was pretty awful too. Picard's handwringing was a bit much; we already saw Data dealing with a similar situation in Ensigns of Command and there was no anguish involved. I don't see this as the show not supporting its anti-religion bias, but rather not supporting its anti-racism bias. After beating us over the head in TOS about how unified the human race is, we now have this little subculture that thinks it is more important than everyone else. That's not to say they are wrong, but it does strain credulity given everything else we've seen about people working together.

But at least within the community there is no dissent. So not one of these people were willing to see the Federation's side? Not one was willing to leave? Convenient.

Picard's handwringing was over the top as well. The Cardassians were right, what is there to negotiate about? There are three options: they leave willingly, you kidnap them forcefully, or you leave them to the mercy of the Cardassians. There was simply no other choices here. Again, this was all done much better with Ensigns of Command, in which there was no hesitation to show the stubborn colonists exactly what the problem was.

But fortunately, Picard happened to stumble across the one time the Cardassians were being reasonable and accommodating. Hooray!

I don't mean to be too negative. There were good ideas here and there, and a few good scenes. The first meeting of Lakanta and Wesley (when Lakanta asks him point blank what he thinks is sacred and Wesley admits he hasn't been treating anything, including himself, as sacred lately) was great. Picard's interactions with Evek were pretty good. The tension on the ground was believable. And I like the idea of Wesley's arc ending with him leaving Starfleet. The plot just didn't seem to have enough there to sustain it.
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SkepticalMI
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

*Raises hand* Count me in as part of the guilty pleasure crowd. Actually, the B-horror movie part of the episode was rather boring, but the first half, with the crew slowly turning into the animals, was pretty fun. Watching the actors playing around with their new characterizations was worth the horrible science and nonsensical chase scenes. Seriously, who doesn't love to see Riker's stupidity skyrocket? That was great! And Michael Dorn got to go above and beyond his usual Worf-ness. While Troi's manifestation didn't offer much fun, it was still enjoyable seeing her playing off of Worf in 10-Forward. And there were even some minor touches too, like Ogawa getting up from the conference table by leaning on it with her knuckles...

But Dwight Schultz as the manic, frantic Spider-Barclay took the cellular peptide cake. The way he was leaning over everyone, contorting himself into odd poses, and rushing to and fro was just completely awesome. He stole every scene he was in.

Another nice scene I liked was Data and Barclay in Data's quarters. I think this is the first time we saw the two of them alone (wasn't Picard always there in Ship in a Bottle?). And, in a pleasant surprise, Barclay was not his usual stuttering, anxious self. Which makes some sense. This is yet another testament to one of Data's key personality traits: his perpetual, unfailing politeness and patience. We've seen it melt the iciness of other characters, including Pulaski and the crazy Dr from Silicon Avatar. And so it makes sense that Barclay would be at ease with Data. His anxiety is caused by the fear of what other people think about him, and fear of embarrassment regarding something he would say. But Data is never impatient or insulting or insensitive to another's feelings. So naturally Barclay would be ok with him. It's somewhat surprising that Barclay hadn't sought him out earlier. Although, then again, not seeking people out is a trademark of his type of anxiety.

Of course, Barclay's ease with Data only works when the two of them are alone. Data may be unfailingly polite, but he also has a tendency to say the wrong thing. And with everyone else around, that could cause serious embarrassment for Barclay. So even though the two were in the same scenes before, its ok that we never see this side of Barclay before.

But besides the obvious problems with the episode, I did want to point out a few other silly parts.

- Why was Alyssa Ogawa delivering the medical report to the senior staff? She's just a nurse. What happened to the perpetually off-screen Dr. Selar? I would imagine if Crusher is incapacitated, then Selar would be in charge. Oh well...

- Why did Picard and Data bother to bring Troi to sickbay?

- How many crewmembers died during this event? We know at least one did. And no one seemed to care afterwards...
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SkepticalMI
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 11:39am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

Aw nertz, I had my comments for this episode all planned a week or so ago, but got sidetracked by that annoying thing known as life. And now I'm going to look like a copycat of Y'know Somebody. Because that's the exact same thought I had. Well, not the same thought, but basically I felt that this episode's largest flaw was in ignoring its source material.

Fluffysheap compared the episode to Darmok, and I like that comparison. In my comments on that episode, I mentioned that I felt the story did a great job of presenting a truly alien community. It wasn't just the language, but their decisions, their rituals, everything pointed well to a people who had a low sense of identity and focused more on narratives. I liked that about Darmok. And it would have been nice to see it here. Rather than the somewhat generic plot we got, it would have been nice if the plot focused more on learning and discovering who this lost civilization is. After all, that would fit more with the Trek ethos of seeking out new life and new civilizations. And it would have made the symbolism more pronounced, more impressive than a simple sun/moon story. As it stands, what we got was a jumble.

I like mythology. I like sci-fi. I like examining alien cultures. So why couldn't we really delve into it here? With Picard as an archaeologist, this could have been an episode tailor made for him. But anything interesting about these people was dropped and ignored without a single sideways glance to us. I noticed three main issues that were worth exploring, which I think would have greatly improved the episode.

1) Masaka was a bad guy! The sun-goddess was feared rather than worshipped and celebrated! This is hardly consistent with Earth mythologies. Ra, Sol, Shamesh, Utu, Apollo, and probably all the ones I don't know tend to be associated with positive imagery like truth and justice and so forth. Which, of course, makes perfect sense for ancient human cultures. The sun brings out light and warmth and drives predators away. The sun allows crops to grow. Of course we would celebrate and not fear the sun. So why do all the characters fear Masaka?

Here's one interesting sci-fi answer that took all of 10 seconds to think up. I'm not an expert on orbital mechanics, but what if this planet was in a binary star system? It orbits one star similarly to Earth orbiting the Sun, but the second star is in an eccentric orbit. This orbit brings the second star close to the planet every 100-200 years or so, and wrecks havoc on the climate for a few years during that time. Thus, the inhabitants called the second star Masaka, and would have a reason to truly fear her return. And maybe the solution to the plot here involved Picard and company finding out something about this civilization, and thus required Picard to make this logical leap. Now, the symbolism present would be a key aspect to the plot itself, as well as relating to the sci-fi nature of the TV show.

2) All the characters suggested that Korgano was no longer chasing Masaka. Isn't that weird? The plot suggests that's only because the Korgano symbol hadn't been downloaded yet, but that's just silly. Isn't it more interesting to think that something actually happened? If Korgano is the moon, then why did the moon stop chasing Masaka? Was it destroyed? Just how would that impact this society? Maybe that's why they all fear Masaka now. Or maybe that's why the civilization itself was lost. Again, this is something weird in the symbolism itself that the story ignored, and I think it would have been much better to embrace this symbolism rather than just move on with the plot. Again, a destroyed moon would have been an interesting story to deal with.

3) On a meta-example, why did this civilization take so much effort to preserve their mythology? They are undoubtedly an incredibly advanced civilization, and undoubtedly would have discovered the principles of orbital mechanics and the likes. So there is no longer any need for myths to state how the stars and moons and suns move across the sky. And yet, that seemed to be the primary thing that this civilization preserved. If we could recreate part of our society in space, would we recreate Mt. Olympus? Or would we recreate New York or London or whatever? Undoubtedly the latter. Heck, we'd probably be more likely to preserve Marvel's Thor than the Norse Thor... We keep our mythology, but our interest in it is very shallow and doesn't impact our day to day lives.

So why is this civilization different? Like with Darmok, the unique plot aspect (speaking in metaphors, preserving a mythology) should speak to the alienness of the culture. But while TNG succeeds with the Children of Tama, we don't really get a chance to understand the Mask people at all. Why are they so interested in preserving their mythology? Do they still talk like that?

I'm reminded of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin asks his dad how wind appears, and his dad says the answer is trees sneezing. Calvin asks "really?" and the dad responds no, but the truth is more complicated. The last panel has Calvin walking outside on a windy day and commenting that the trees are really sneezing today.

So is that the answer? Do the people not care about truth, but only care about convenient answers? Leave the actual science to the scientists, but we'll just choose to believe the easy answer? Or maybe they just like anthropomorphization? And if so, how would that impact the rest of society?

Maybe this would have been better as a novel than a 43 minute episode. Maybe its impossible to really delve into a culture in a plot like this. But it would have been more interesting than what was given. I know most people look at this episode and just declare it to be a waste, but I think of it mostly as a lost opportunity.
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SkepticalMI
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

I think people are being way too hard on Beverly. For one, her persona has always been that of a Doctor and humanist first, and a military officer second. She never really stood on protocol nor on caring about Starfleet philosophy; she always did what she felt was best. Thus, it's not outside of her characterization to ignore the distance of command. For that matter, even in modern militaries specialized areas like medicine see a more relaxed chain of command.

And we've already seen Beverly be friendly with Ogawa in the past. Heck, they were close enough that Alyssa risked her career for Bev in Suspicions. Given that Beverly is not one to stand on protocol, and has worked with her head nurse for years (she first showed up in Season 4), why wouldn't she be friendly with her?It doesn't strike me as being unrealistic or sexist at all.

Would you also complain that Worf was having a friendly chat with Sito in Ten-Forrward? Or was singling her out to give her special advice? And do you also complain that Kirk was so chummy with Bones and Spock, despite being their superior officer?

Really, the biggest unrealistic part of that is that Ogawa has been an ensign for 3 years, especially since she seemed to be the head nurse for a significant chunk of that time.


Besides that, I think this episode is somewhat overrated, although it's still very good. I guess I just see the switch to the junior officer's perspective as being an interesting and worthy change of pace, but not some mindblowingly brilliant idea. And while Sito's death was tragic, I didn't see it as a brilliant piece of storytelling that was the crux of the story.

But that said, there was plenty that was good here. Each of the relationships between the juniors and their superiors (except Lavelle, ugh...) was good to see. The Taurik/Geordi subplot doesn't get much attention, but I thought it was pleasant. As a Vulcan, obviously Taurik is rather intelligent and engaged in his work. But, of course, he comes off as pushy, arrogant, and unlikeable due to his inexperience with working with humans. And given Geordi's relative lack of tact and empathy, his demeanor towards Taurik initially comes off as rather off-putting. He basically looks like the bad guy here by brushing off Taurik's offers for improvements, putting down his speculations, and so forth. And yet, in the end, it's just because of the way Geordi works. He actually does go through Taurik's list of suggestions and does help implement them. It shows that, despite a difficult working relationship due to some personal problems on each of their ends, they are still professional. And Taurik, the wise Vulcan, was incorrect in his initial assumptions about Geordi, and shows that he still has room to grow despite his obvious engineering ability.
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SkepticalMI
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Sub Rosa

Oh yeah, the lede/lead/leed isn't just the Beverly has an erotic affair with a ghost, it's that Beverly gets horny reading the erotic adventures of her 100 year old grandmother. I mean, I guess I'm not as enlightened as these 24th century people, but I'm pretty sure my response would be an "ewwww" and to close the book really quickly, not start sticking my hands down my pants...

And we can put another nail in this episode's coffin. Apparently they were sued for plagiarizing an Anne Rice novel. I mean, the Trek crew denies it, but still not a good sign.

And not that this episode deserves this much thought, but whatever happened to the mantra of exploring new life? I mean, yeah, Ronin was creepy and possessive and violated about a gazillion of our little ethical codes, but to just up and kill him like that? You couldn't try to reason with him, Beverly? For shame, for shame.

Meanwhile, there was one bit of unintentional (or maybe intentional) comedy here. Beverly was telling Picard about her grandma's erotic affairs, and Picard commented about Howard women maintaining a healthy libido as they age. And the way he said it sounded like he was practically leering at her. And then when Bev mentioned that Ronin was 30 years old, Picard looked disappointed. Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but I couldn't help but think that Picard was hoping to test his theory about Howard women's libido with Beverly... Heck, I can imagine Patrick Stewart intending it to be that way.

In any case, that's about all the time I'm spending with this episode. I've already spent far more time with it than it deserves.
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SkepticalMI
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

Worf's brother is ok, but other than that this was a painful episode. I had the same thought that Kevin had a year ago. After Picard gave his little speech, I would have loved it if Q appeared and reminded Picard about that whole "superior morality" thing from True Q. This is about the most disgusted I have been with Picard's actions since season 1.

If the Prime Directive exists because you don't want to harm a society's development, then so be it. Whether or not I agree with that idea, at least it's a consistent philosophy. But I'm pretty sure planetary extinction rates as a greater harm than any meddling might do. So to stand there and say it's honorable to sit back and watch a intelligent species undergo extinction is just bizarre. So if a society doesn't have exactly enough technology, it's not worth saving? We've seen Picard et al do everything they can to save more technologically advanced species, so why are they more special than this primitive one?

If tomorrow we discovered that the Sun is dying, and we blasted a message into space begging any aliens to help us, would we be ok if an alien race looked at it and ignored it? Or if you think that we're technologically advanced enough to merit help under the Prime Directive, what if it happened 100 years ago?

What if instead of the crystalline entity being destroyed, it had made contact with Picard, and declared that from now on it would only eat planets with primitive societies on them. Would Picard have happily let it go to produce dozens of genocides just because the Prime Directive said so?

But besides the ethical issue, there are a lot of things to swallow here. So we are to believe Nikolai can hack into the computers and use the transporters without anyone noticing? So we are to believe that no one will notice his son doesn't look like the rest of the aliens? So this village of what looks like 20 people is enough to produce a stable gene pool? (I would have assumed Nikolai would want the aliens saved permanently). So after telling us the importance of maintaining these history scrolls for generations, they just up and give it to Worf? So none of the aliens feel the transporter beam?

And the subplot of the kid leaving the holodeck was just boring. We've seen similar things before, in Who Watches, First Contact, Pen Pals, and so forth. Did we need to see another person frightened of all the amazing technology? I found it hard to feel his suicide as a tragedy (wait, he was just randomly carrying a suicide pill with him?) when I didn't care about it in the first place.

And I guess that's the key takeaway here. Perhaps I'd be more forgiving of the episode if I cared for its central idea, or if I cared about the characters, but I didn't. The aliens were bland, the main characters were weak, and the idea frustrating. So good riddance to the whole thing.
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SkepticalMI
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: The Pegasus

People are saying that the Treaty is one-sided, that the Federation gave up too much, etc. But how do you know? We don't know the full treaty, nor do we know what caused it to come into place (at least from my understanding). All we know is that it has limitations on what the Federation can do, but no information on what limitations are on Romulus.

I read an interesting theory that I like due to its simplicity: the treaty was signed in response to the Genesis project. After discovering that the Federation had, in the name of scientific progress, created a weapon of mass destruction, one can understand why Romulans would be nervous. Mutually assured destruction worked between the US and the USSR because both sides had nukes ready to go at all times, and neither side could ensure that they could prevent a retaliatory attack. But if the Federation had cloaked Genesis devices hidden throughout the Romulan empire? They could wipe them out in 5 minutes. Even better, instead of leaving a huge chunk of the galaxy barren, the destroyed planets would be ripe for colonization. With relative parity between the Romulan and Federation fleet, the Federation could prevent the remains of the Romulan fleet from launching suicide missions on Earth and Vulcan and the like.

How would the Klingons, Cardassians (depending on if the Fed knew of them yet), Tholians, etc react to the Genesis device? Would they try to build their own? Or another planet-busting device? Perhaps that is what the treaty is about. The Federation, as the only group with such a devastating weapon, would be prohibited from building a cloaking device to prevent it from being used on Romulus. Likewise, Romulans and Klingons and the like would be prohibited from creating their own planet destroyers (presumably there is sufficient technology to stop conventional weapons from destroying a planet). And thus, the peace is maintained.

Or maybe its something else. Whatever it is, it's hard to judge the treaty when we know nothing about it.

As for the episode itself, its probably the best of Season 7 outside AGT. Normally I don't like the sudden event from a character's past that we never heard about but that is a huge event in their life, since it tends to be rather contrived. But it makes sense in this case. Of course Riker would never talk about it and would try to forget about it. And it does seem to have changed his way of thinking, of being willing to defy orders if he believes himself to be right. Perhaps even his initial rush to command was due in part to this sort of thing, so that he doesn't have to worry as much about being stuck in a similar situation. And maybe that is partially why he slowed down on the Enterprise, as he recognized that he wouldn't have to make such a decision with someone like Picard. Maybe that's why he became comfortable.

But whatever the case, the interplay between Picard, Riker, and Pressman was a lot of fun to watch. Pressman had enough charisma that you can imagine a young Riker being completely taken by him. Picard being forced out of the inner circle was great, and seeing him fume was fun to watch. And Riker being torn between his loyalty to Picard and being forced to follow the orders of his admiral, not to mention wrestling with his conscience. Even if the sickbay scene was too unsubtle, it did show Riker being angry and feeling helpless, which I imagine is exactly right.

The dressing down Picard gave Riker in his room was absolutely chilling. It wasn't entirely fair for Picard, but I think he knew what effect it would have on Riker. That Picard suspected something was up way back when is natural, that Picard suspected Riker would put the Enterprise in danger was a bit too much to expect. However, by pretending to suspect that, he may have pushed Riker into the position of finally coming clean about what happened. That dressing down had to have been devastating to Riker. I'm surprised he didn't tell Picard off right there, but he was probably to shocked to say anything. Either way, it was a great scene.

And seeing Riker go along with everything until the last moment was good to see as well. Like he said, he had the luxury of time. He probably suspected he was ending his career one way or the other, and thus was naturally putting this off as long as possible. Unfortunately for him, the cloak was still there.

Meanwhile, the Romulan side plot was pretty fun. About the only disappointment was that it wasn't Tomalak in the warbird. So while the actor was fairly low-key in his presentation, the lines themselves were done. It was nice to see the blatant lying (that was such a big part of The Enemy) resurfacing once again. Even though it wasn't the focus of the story, the chessgame between Picard and the Romulans was good to see.
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

Todd, good point about his rivalry with Martok. I had forgotten about that aspect. Which did, actually, fit in with what we know of Gowron. I never got the impression that Gowron was a particularly honorable Klingon, but I think he did care quite a bit for the good of the Empire. That's what he talked about in Redemption, and it's what he talked about here. He was also a perfect embodiment of a politician. So I guess the question is, is he the type of person who would put his own personal position ahead of the good of the empire? If someone put the question to him, I assume he would say no, but he does seem to have an inflated sense of ego (see Unification where he tried to rewrite history). So I guess I can see him turning into a Nixon, where paranoia ends up causing other problems.

Sure, Martok had no political ambitions, but how would Gowron know that? All he knows is that a Changeling replaced Martok, and the Changelings tried to have the Federation assassinate him. Presumably, the plan would be that the Changeling Martok would then become chancellor. So presumably, there was a reason even then that people saw Martok as a natural successor. And thus that would be reason for Gowron to be worried about him.

And yet, would Gowron really intentionally start losing the war (and that was my impression of the DS9 episode in question)? That seems a harder pill to swallow. But I will admit that Gowron's fall is more complex than I initially made it seem.
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Parallels


This reminds me a lot of Timescape and Cause and Effect (like Jammer already mentioned). Mostly meaningless fluff, but it's a great high concept episode that is executed almost flawlessly, and thus a mostly entertaining affair. But everyone pretty much knows that already. Thinking about the whole situation, I'm not sure why it had to be this specific Worf that had to go back through the fissure. Sure, some of the Worfs didn't go to the tournament, and thus couldn't hit the rift, but could others have gone through? Or was the rift only initially in our universe? And why would other Enterprises be visiting this area of space and thus go through the rift (particularly the Borg Enterprise)? Or did the fissure just happen to pull them out from wherever they were in space? And for that matter, out of an infinite number of Enterprises, what are the odds that the one they needed would show up so quickly?

So it doesn't make much sense, but oh well. Another oddity: what defines what universes Worf travels to? One idea I heard a while back was that with each transfer, the universe diverged with his even further back in time. For example, his first shift may have been into a universe that diverged only a day or so before hitting the rift, hence why the only changes in the universe was the cake's flavor and Picard's presence at the party. The last two universes would be from 2-4 years ago. While that would be a reasonable theory, Dr. Ogawa's presence kinda hurts that idea (when would she have decided to become a doctor, and still managed to become CMO in such a short time?) Likewise, the Bajoran/Cardassian switcheroo is tough to swallow as having happened within the last four years.

Not that it takes too much away from the story, because it doesn't matter much, but it is curious to see how this all works.

John G: interesting idea, having a Borgified Enterprise appear. I guess seeing the desperate Enterprise instead offered more pathos, but how fun would it have been to have a Borg Enterprise appear, try to give the whole "We are the Borg" speech, and then get promptly smashed by 100 Enterprises... Also, I wonder if the Mirror Universe showed up?
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Attached

I can't speak for anyone else, but to me this episode seemed like an awful lot of effort just for one minute of dialogue. We had an incredibly contrived setup (why was Bev the one to beam down with Picard? Isn't it usually Troi?) with incredibly contrived technology (we are downloading your brainwaves which, coincidentally, will allow you to hear each other's thoughts). And all of that just to get Picard to admit he used to have feelings for Bev. Was that really worth all that effort?

I don't think so. While the Kesprytt were fun to watch, their plot just kinda served to fill time until we could move back to our designated couple. And that's basically what it feels like. The show set Bev and Picard as having a past acquaintance, they were the older members of the crew, and they were brought together as friends throughout the series. So of course the fans are going to try to pair them up romantically. This episode just feels like the writers felt they had to acknowledge this possibility, and so put the whole episode together just to comment on it. And our 7 year payoff is simply to say that there was an attraction in the past, but not anymore. Well, that was worth the wait.

I'm not actually complaining about that being the final resolution. After all, they did work together for quite a while (ignoring season 2), and other than The Naked Now (ugh) and Allegiance (which wasn't the real Picard), there was no sense of a romantic relationship forming between them at all. While TNG tended to play up their relationship whenever Picard had another girl (QPid, Perfect Mate, Lessons), it wasn't really jealousy. Likewise, I don't remember jealousy from Picard in The Host. And given their close relationship, why wouldn't either of them try to start it up if they had any feelings?

I guess the more interesting question then becomes, as they said, what happens now? All Good Things suggests that the feelings aren't entirely dormant. But that's the only time it ever came up again. They certainly seem to suggest that the door is closed, but so be it.

Which means, well, why is there an entire episode about it? Couldn't it have come up in a more organic way? Did we really need magic technology just to get this little piece of revelation? It feels like a bit of a cheap way of doing things. Not

Two more random comments:
- More continuity! We got to see Crusher's fear of heights again! Given that that was the first thing I thought of when we saw that situation in the cave, I'm glad they remembered.
- While most of the Kesprytt storyline was fluff, it was fun to see Riker dressing them both down at the end. I've been harping on the fall of Riker's character for a while, but he is much better here. Maybe Frakes just needs to be directed by Frakes in order to succeed.
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SkepticalMI
Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 2:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

I know Hollywood rules means you have to pay an actor more if she says a line, but does it really make sense to have Ensign Gates be a mute here? Sure, it's fine when Picard says "engage" and the ship engages, but here? Everyone is standing around the comm panel wondering what's going on and discussing it, and poor Gates has to just sit there and tap the panel and ignore them all. A wee bit awkward. The fact that Gates is able to say stuff in other episodes just makes it more bizarre.

So Data goes to talk to Troi about his nightmares, and Troi tells him that it's ok to visit his dark side sometimes. Apparently, she forgot that the last time she gave that advice to him, he held her prisoner and nearly tortured Geordi to death. I guess she still didn't learn her lesson here, and ends up getting stabbed for her effort. I imagine the next time Data comes to her with some negative feelings, she'll prescribe a hefty dose of puppies and rainbows before fleeing to the Andromeda galaxy.

Meanwhile, poor Frakes. Even in Data's dream all he can do is be annoyed and yell at people.

But other than that, it was a fun episode! The humor worked, the eeriness worked, and the mystery worked. About that didn't work was the horror, mainly the slasher scene of Data going after Troi, which was done in just about the most cliched way imaginable. But that was such a minor part compared to everything else that I didn't mind.
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Gambit

Random comments:

- This is a pretty fun episode. Intrigue can be fun, seeing plots within plots within plots. Chases and battles of wits and seeing some of the other worlds and aliens of the Trek world was enjoyable. Yes, the mercenaries were a bit goofy, but Baran was pretty convincing as a captain who isn't quite capable of being in command. So if the only question was if I liked watching it, the answer is yes.

- As others have said, the fact that this is one of the very few Riker/Picard episodes in the later seasons is part of the enjoyment. These two do work well together, in a different matter than Kirk and Spock. It's two professionals rather than two friends. It's more like the mentor and a journeyman working together rather than emotionalism vs rationalism like TOS. It's too bad they don't have more of these interactions.

- Honestly, this does work well as a two parter. A good intrigue does require a lot of time to build up and get all those layers of deception going, so it's needed. There's also the nice B-plot of Data's second command. It's a lot more toned down and realistic than in Redemption, probably because he doesn't have to prove himself to this crew. People are used to following his orders here, so it's a bit more natural to see him as captain. And yet, he still has that rational, unemotional approach to captaining that makes sense for him, as well as putting on the airs of being a captain (such as when everyone else leaves the conference room and he remains). The whole "android is captain!" bit wasn't a plot issue, just Data as captain. And he pulled it off well.

- I see a lot of people complaining about the Worf bit, but I think it was handled ok. Worf is about as opposite of Data as you can get, and at this point doesn't have much experience with being in command. He's the guy who always argues with Picard and Riker anyway, so of course there's going to be some conflict here. And he was reasonably professional (for Worf, of course) except for the one "finally" that got Data to call him out. It wasn't overdone, I think.

- As an aside, I can see Starfleet leaving Riker in command, but when both the captain and first officer died? Yeah, I'd think that's time to bring in a replacement, no offense to Data.

- Meanwhile, the massive Klingon was awesome. I know he wasn't an actor, but James Worthy did an admirable job of being an utterly intimidating loser (seriously, a Klingon smuggling for these mercenaries? How's that for a lack of honor!). And the rest of the cast responding to him was great.

- The ending, however, was a bit disappointing. The greatest weapon in the galaxy is a slow moving telepathic wave? Seriously? The lady mercenary could have zapped Tellera a dozen times over while she was psychically killing the guy mercenary. And, of course, that it was defeated by singing Shiny Happy People Holding Hands. I see the point, but unfortunately Robin Curtis doesn't sell it very well. Her freaking out at the end was rather hammy in the end.

- I am a bit disappointed that the episode implies that these Vulcan separatists really exists. It would have been preferable if it had just been one more lie in this giant episode of lies. It would have been better if it was just Tellera involved in this for some reason. Besides, even if there was a Vulcan separatist movement, I would hope they would be better at it than Tellera was. What was her plan if Baran was still alive?
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 3:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Descent, Part I

This was a great episode right up to the last 10 seconds. OK, so Data had a troubling experience. He started exploring it. Then it became clear that Crosis was controlling him somehow. It was messing him up. He was becoming uncertain. Crosis asked if he would kill his friend to experience emotion again. Data responds that he would. So clearly he's having trouble with his ethical programming. And he escapes in a shuttlecraft (by this point, you would think Picard would invest in some bicycle locks for those things). The crew searches for him and finds Lore. And then Data appears and... gives an incredibly hammy evil villain one-liner. Oy.

It kinda ruined the fall of Data there. The episode is entitled "Descent". It was interesting seeing Data descend from his normal, ethical self. Seeing him skip a whole bunch of steps and seeing him jump to becoming full Hitler was a bit, well, not quite as fun. Just a silly tacked on ending, trying to create a cool one-liner to create a hook over the summer. I don't know if it was effective back then, but it's certainly not effective now.

As for season 6 as a whole, I had assumed that TNG would have a slow downward spiral after season 4, but it seems season 6 was still a pretty good show. Kinda strange that the dropoff happened so suddenly between 6 and 7. Everyone just all of a sudden realized they didn't care anymore?

In any case, season 6, while not having anything quite like Darmok or Inner Light, seemed to have a lot of really good episodes. They didn't necessarily mean all that much, but they were still enjoyable television. At this point in time, the characters are far more comfortable to us, and far more comfortable with each other. We can enjoy them experience weirdness in their lives. And even if this season doesn't say much new about the characters, it does keep showing an ever changing universe and ever changing experiences. In the end, it was exciting to watch.

A couple trends I noticed:

- There seemed to be a lot more emphasis on consistency and callbacks than before. For example, they seemed to play up Picard's archaeology interest a lot more this season and I believe namedropped Dr. Galen a few times prior to The Chase. We had plenty of sequel episodes such as Face of the Enemy and Ship in a Bottle. And events in one episode would impact another, a la Birthright and Rightful Heir. I wonder if this was due to the influence of Deep Space Nine, or if DS9's emphasis on consistency and such followed from the same place that TNG got it. Maybe it was due to the increasing familiarity with the internet, and thus more of a need to cater to the obsessive fans. Who knows? But it was nice to see.

- What wasn't so nice is that Season 6 had a tendency to cut the endings short on their episodes. The drama would build, we'd get the climax, and then... not much. If we're lucky, we would have a quiet conversation between a couple cast members and then an ending. But that's it. Sometimes it worked (like Schisms, where the uncertainty surrounding the aliens was part of the general uneasiness of the episode), but it sometimes felt like the episodes were rushed and simply came up on a cosmic deadline. It doesn't hurt the rest of the episode, but it sometimes feels like there's not enough resolution to what happened.

- Also, this season had a tendency to take a character completely out of his/her position and focus exclusively on that. Face of the Enemy and Tapestry are generally considered great episodes, but are almost entirely Troi/Picard surrounded by guest stars. And Birthright II and Frame of Mind (even if Riker was interacting with images of the rest of the cast). There are other episodes that are similar in concept, too. While these tend to be pretty interesting episodes, it's a bit sad that we don't have as many ensemble episodes as well.
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SkepticalMI
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Timescape

I just want to echo what others have said: this is a great mystery episode. We really were brought along with Picard et al. Not only did we get a lot of contradictory information at first (were the Romulans really attacking the Enterprise or not?), but it was all resolved in a reasonably satisfactory matter. Excellent pacing in this episode overall.

The only major plothole (and its a big one) is why the Romulans had disruptors on them in the Enterprise, especially in sickbay? One would expect better security, even during a mission of mercy. Security seemed tight in the transporter room, after all. OK, I also agree with Jack that the ending (with the Warbird mysteriously vanishing) was rushed. That actually seemed to be a pattern in Season 6, with very little in the way of an ending after the climax. See Frame of Mind or Schisms as other examples.

But other than that, I don't have much to say, because this was just a really fun episode that was ultimately meaningless. And like Jammer said, that's perfectly ok.

I also want to say that TNG seemed to have some really good time travel episodes. Instead of running through the typical time travel cliches, they seemed to be more inventive with them. Really, Time's Arrow is about the only "typical" storyline: conveniently ending up in Earth's past, having an easy to solve paradox, running into famous people, etc. But then you have creative episodes like Cause and Effect (which came out before Groundhog's Day) or Timescape, which played around with time rather than just had a simple travel. And, of course, two of TNG's most popular episodes (Yesterday's Enterprise and All Good Things) used time travel as a background, but the focus and energy was on greater matters. Time travel can be fairly trite or it can be very effective, and I think overall TNG was in the effective category. Only Time's Arrow and Time Squared were on the weak side. I guess you could include Matter of Time and Captain's Holiday as well, but the latter barely dealt with time and the former I thought was reasonably clever as well.
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SkepticalMI
Wed, Aug 13, 2014, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Second Chances

Ahh, Riker... Rewatching TNG, it has become apparent to me that he was devolving into a Neanderthal long before Genesis appeared. I'm not sure where and when the problem started; it was definitely present at the end of Season 5 and appeared to be present throughout Season 6. I'm also not sure how it happened. Is it the writers' faults? Is it Frakes? I don't know. Narrative-wise, though, his story definitely hit a wall at BoBW. He just saved the entire Federation, so what is he going to do next? Disappear back into obscurity by remaining a first officer. I guess he's entitled to it if that's what he really wants, but narrative-wise it's a disaster. He doesn't have a purpose anymore; his character is practically retired. We know he's capable of doing more than this, but yet he chooses not to. So what's the use of watching him? It may have worked if the writers focused on his reasons for staying on the Enterprise (putting down roots), but they shied away from that too. As WilliamB suggested, at this point there's no reason for him not to go after Troi again, unless he has fully moved on. But as All Good Things and (sigh) Insurrection and Nemesis show, he hasn't. So if his reason for staying on the Enterprise is because he is comfortable and ready to settle down, why isn't he ready for a relationship?

So his career is at a standstill and his social life is in stasis. So it's hard to write stories about him. Maybe that's why he gets the everyman stories, stories that he just reacts to stuff rather than be about him (Frame of Mind and Schisms are perfect examples). He's such a bland persona at this point that there's nothing else for him. There's no buildup on his ambition anymore, and there's no longer much emphasis on his ability to think on his feet and improvise. Unfortunately, the only thing left is to contrast with Picard (a la Kirk and Spock). But since Picard's character set is being calm, rational, and highly competent, that just means Riker becomes loud and dumb and emotional. Hence his constant yelling and stomping around and failing to solve anything.

I know some people have said that the problem is that he no longer has the cool duty of leading away teams, but is that a cause or an effect of his devolution? If Picard is becoming more exciting to the audience and becoming a more interesting character, than it becomes easier for the writers to write about Picard. Who wants to write for a nobody? It's not as bad as I remember Chakotay being, but the Riker of later Trek is a rather weak character.

So it was nice to at least see an episode like this, but I'm not altogether thrilled with the execution. Perhaps part of it is, in fact, that it's hard to deal with an issue like this in such a short time-frame. But I think there are some plotting issues too:

1) I was continually reminded of Shelby. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. But Will getting upset at Tom doing things his own way on an away mission? Tom going over Will's head to Picard, and Will getting pissed at it? The old fight about playing it safe? A poker match that is a not-at-all veiled subtext over their antagonism? It was all the same, covering no new material. BoBW concluded that storyline nicely, with Riker proving he could take risks and step up when the time came. So seeing the issues come up again here felt rather unnecessary. But it was unfortunately a big part of the plot.

2) Reading these comments is the first I heard that they were planning to kill Will in this episode. The underground scene suddenly makes a lot more sense. I thought on watching it how plainly obvious it was as a setup to get rid of one of the two Rikers. And just because they didn't do it here, it doesn't mean the scene works any better. If they scrapped the script where Will died, they should have scrapped this scene as well.

3) The technology is highly implausible. If we are going to ding Rascals for the silly transporter accident, and if we're going to ding Unnatural Selection for turning the transporter into a device to make others immortal, than we should ding this episode for making the transporter into a duplicator. I forgive a lot of Trek's magic, and in truth I forgive this episode of it too, but I feel the need to point it out anyway. In order to be logically consistent, we should have just as much a problem with this event as we do any of Voyager's reset buttons. Personally I can swallow more disbelief if the episode is good, but I do want to point it out.

So that leaves, essentially, the Troi romance subplot. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I honestly don't have a problem with Troi ignoring Tom after this episode. It was foreshadowed pretty heavily when Will mentioned that Tom was basically the same person and would make the same choices he did. And then, in the end, we see Tom going off on another mission, promising to go back to her several months later, exactly like what Will Riker did to her 8 years ago. She undoubtedly saw the parallels. And figured it would probably end the same way.

But I guess the question then remains, why did Troi pick up the romance in the first place? Did she really think such a thing through? She should have known that Tom didn't want just a fling, so she would have had to consider it as something for the long haul. And yet, at the same time, did she really think she could commit to Tom while staying on the Enterprise and working side by side with Will? She's a psychiatrist, couldn't she see the obvious tensions that would form?

I guess that means she never really got over Will (as William said above), if she was willing to jump right back into it. Heck, maybe that explains all the jabs she's made at Riker over the years as someone who is still in a bit of a love-hate relationship with an ex-lover who spurned her (see the beginning of the episode as an example, where Troi was trying to embarrass Will during his jam session). But then it makes me wonder, in all the years on the Enterprise, why didn't she ever try to get back together? Why didn't she take the initiative? And if she's built up 6 years of a new relationship with Will, how would she separate that relationship with Tom? You are essentially going from dating one twin to dating another. Yes, it's not really a fair comparison since Will and Tom were the same person back then, but how will she ever see Tom as anything but the "not real" Riker?

Then again, people do stupid things when in love. Why should Troi be any different?

In the end, the Troi-Tom angle becomes the most interesting part of the show, since the Tom-Will angle felt so flat and trite. But then the Troi-Tom angle had its issues too, because they didn't have time to fully explore them. So I think this is closer to a "good" episode than a great one. Very interesting idea, but needed a better execution. I mostly agree with WilliamB's analysis above (except the part about Riker being afraid of hurting Troi again; if he was serious about pursuing a relationship with her, he wouldn't hurt her, at least not in the same way. I think at this point he's essentially adrift in life and is afraid of going after what he wants.), but disagree with how well the story was executed.
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SkepticalMI
Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

I'm having a hard time with this episode. I've thought about it and thought about it, and still don't know how I feel about it. The idea surrounding this episode is a good one, I think. There's a ton of interesting possibilities here, both with the return of Kahless as well as the revelation that he's a clone. There are so many interesting players involved as well.

But that may also be why it's hard to judge the episode. There's a heck of a lot of plot to get through, and because of that certain aspects of it seem a bit rushed. Or not given the attention they deserve. Worf's crisis of faith is a central theme to the episode, and it starts out very well. But his final solution, while smart, seems to come out of nowhere. And there really isn't a resolution to his issues. Did he seem to go with what Kahless and Data said, that it doesn't matter whether or not what you believe is the truth? That's not a very satisfactory resolution, as it is in complete contradiction to everything we saw from Worf beforehand. After all, we know he's a believer, but he wasn't satisfied with that. He was still trying to get a vision of Kahless, he still wanted confirmation of his belief. And then when Kahless did appear, Worf wanted confirmation of that. Either way, while Worf has his faith, he still wants to know what is real.

But on the other hand, perhaps it is fine that Worf's issues are left unresolved. After all, it would be unrealistic to assume that Worf's faith journey would wrap up nice and neatly in 43 minutes. Perhaps it is better that it remains unanswered here.

Meanwhile, Gowron's story is just as interesting. Watching this, I was saddened by what DS9 did to him. Here, Gowron is a pretty shrewd politician, which fits ok with his previous portrayals. He's a jerk and unscrupulous, but he knows what he's doing. So why did he have to turn into such an incompetent buffoon by the end of DS9 that Sisko told Worf to go into the assassination business?

So I like what Gowron did here. He was plainly skeptical, but still very cognizant of the threat Kahless represented to his power. All of his moves here rang true, from asking the Enterprise to transport Kahless (wow, an excuse to keep the main cast involved that actually worked in-universe!), to his probing of Kahless' story. And when, during their duel, Kahless tried to use his oratory skills to stop the fight (as he successfully did with Worf), Gowron was not fooled and finished the duel. And despite Gowron being a complete bastard, by the time he actually won there was enough doubt about Kahless that we were actually cheered by his victory.

But our time with Kahless is fairly short. We don't really get much on him or on the priests who cloned him. How did Kahless not have any doubts before this? He was imprinted with only stories, not his whole life. How would that feel to him? How did he instinctively know what his role would be? And how much of the original Kahless is still a part of him? Will he be successful as a ceremonial emperor? There was a lot of potential with Kahless, but he was shunted aside too easily. Andrew mentioned the insensitivity of everyone talking about him as if he wasn't there. I liked that scene; I thought that insensitiveness worked given the high stakes involved. But it does accidentally mirror the plot itself, as the role of the Kahless clone is shunted aside for matters of faith and politics.

I also am not sure where Worf came up with his plan or why. Or why it had to be him. It seemed like the whole final solution came about because Worf is a main character so of course he has to be the one to come up with it. It doesn't really fit with Worf's character; as WilliamB pointed out it is a remarkably cynical and political move. Yes, Worf's done that before, but only when forced on him and dealing with his own honor. This is different; I don't think it fits in with Worf's character. Suggesting it? Maybe. But demanding it or forcing civil war? Yeesh.

Ah, what the heck. It's a good episode. And a pretty good Worf episode. And an ok Klingon episode. I'll take it.
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SkepticalMI
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

Ferengi scientist is almost a contradiction in terms? Ah, Trek... You know I love ya, but you sure do act stupidly sometimes. After all, why would a race obsessed with profit care about science? It only allows you to create things of immense value that no one else has access to, why would the Ferengi be interested in that? Science can't possibly be used for anything practical. It is only a hollowed religion for the pure and holy Federation, practiced only by the priests of Starfleet. Such an impure race like the Ferengi couldn't possibly be interested in it.

Meanwhile, Jo'Bril is a true criminal mastermind. Move over, Lex Luthor. Get out of the way, Moriarty. This is a diabolical genius here. First, you fake your own death. Then, you sit still while getting an autopsy performed on you. Since there was such a to-do over the Ferengi one, presumably an autopsy here is invasive. Then you sit in the cold freezer in the morgue for a while. Then you sneak out, managing to avoid anyone in sickbay from noticing you despite being stuck inside a freezer and thus having no idea where anyone else is. Then you walk around the Enterprise, even though the weird green alien dying was the big news of the day and anyone who sees you will instantly recognize you. Then you kill the Ferengi because, um, reasons. Then you sneak back into the morgue, because after all this was a weird accident and you never know when the Dr might want to do more tests on your body. Then you sneak out again into the shuttlebay, which is always manned. Then you sneak into a shuttle, with some strange plan to steal it or something. Then you manage to hide in the shuttle somehow when Bev takes it out, even though you had no idea she would be coming and there's no hiding place inside the shuttle anyway.

A brilliant plan!

OK, mocking aside, there were a few ok scenes. I know people complain about Guinan's appearance here, but I liked the scene at the end of the flashbacks. Bev stops talking, and Guinan immediately starts talking about her tennis game again. It was so out there, yet quite well done and felt like a natural thing for her to do. The rest of the episode was generally just boring. And the plot just didn't have much relevance. Very, very forgettable.
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

Ugh. I remember that Tim Lynch review and how I lost a chunk of respect for him from it. So rant time! People here mentioned Prometheus and Contact as similar ideas, but to me the most blatant comparison is with the monolith creators in Arthur C Clarke's 2001 series. It's the exact same premise: the first spacefaring race finds no intelligent life out in the universe, and thus seeds the galaxy with a method to develop said intelligence. Arthur C Clarke. About the hardest "science" author in the science fiction realm. Predicted cell phones, GPS, and satellite television broadcasting decades before they happened. Invented the idea of the geostationary satellite. He was also an ardent atheist who gave increasingly silly reasons for why mankind suddenly and without notice ended up immediately giving up religion in his books. And yet, in his most famous series, the central plot is one of, well, Intelligent Design. So if the most science-oriented, most atheistic respected sci-fi writer can get away with it, why can't Trek?

Oh, but in 2001 it wasn't genetic. Oh, wonk wonk wonk. This is the same series that has riboviloxinucleic acids that make you magically de-age, and where activating introns makes you turn into a spider. Do we really think there was any malice in this plot, any subtle arguments for ID? Of course not. Heck, this episode features DNA that magically fits together to form a shape that also happens to program a holographic image. Lynch seems to think there's a difference between this and technobabble, but there really isn't. Trek uses biology as a magi trick just as often as it uses inverse phase discriminators. No, they really shouldn't. But why is it such a crime here? Given how silly Trek science is, does he really think there was some subtle argument for ID as opposed to just, you know, a story in which as much effort to make it scientifically valid as in Rascals and Genesis.

So really, Lynch's rant comes down to the fact that he doesn't like ID. Well, yippee. Guess what? The Trek universe, like every fictional universe, is intelligently designed (or unintelligently designed...). Not only that, but Trek has delved into plenty of contentious issues (for real, as opposed to this episode which is only in his imagination), and doesn't exactly provide a great argument either way. Yet Lynch never comments on those. And if he only wants to see shows that reinforce his beliefs, then that represents a pretty limited mind.

I mean, he still seemed to think the episode was good, but couldn't seem to get past an issue he created in his own mind.

Oh well, rant off. Like many others, I did enjoy this episode. I think it started off too slowly though, as the scenes with Galen weren't as interesting as the actual mystery and chase. Yeah, disappointed father figure, we've gone down that road a hundred times before. And what's with the Enterprise being conveniently the closest ship to Galen's shuttle when he ended up attacked? And all to have Galen simply say "I was too harsh". I'm not sure if the introduction was made solely to mirror Indiana Jones even more (both Raiders and Last Crusade had Indy trying to finish a quest his father/father figure started). That first act simply seemed to drag on too much, especially compared to the fun of the second half.

And the payoff, with the Romulan being quietly accepting of the message, was very nicely done. Picard had a rather disappointing few days. First, his mentor rejects him. Then his mentor dies. Then, his attempt at finishing Galen's work is stymied by some annoying little Klingons and Cardassians. And then, after the final revelation, the rest of his colleagues completely reject the final message. So Picard was probably feeling rather down about the whole thing. That little bit of a breakthrough, having the Romulan imply that there is hope for the future, was a pleasant way to end with just a hint of optimism. We followed Picard around on a huge chase, and we too were a bit disappointed in the outcome. But putting this last little morsel in the show made it all better.

Likewise, it made sense that the Romulan would be the one receptive to the message. After all, they already have cousins in the Federation, so they know what it's like. Also, given the recent underground movement (particularly a defection of a high ranking senator), the idea of a unification movement might be on the minds of any thoughtful Romulan. They're a fun race to think about, given that they were always portrayed as a smarter, more contemplative race than the Klingons or the Cardassians. Given their contemplative side, the idea of a potential peace, or at least truce, movement with the Romulans held a lot of promise. I thoroughly enjoyed The Enemy and The Defector, but I am finding myself enjoying their more conciliatory tone this season as well.
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SkepticalMI
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

Poor Tuvok, he must be the unluckiest secret agent ever. I mean, we know his undercover op in the Maquis ended when his ship got transported halfway across the galaxy, which is rather unfortunate. But what about his mission before that? A highly sensitive, delicate operation to infiltrate a terrorist operation by posing as a trilithium smuggler. And at a critical juncture, the point where he could see who is interested in obtaining this trilithium resin... he gets a freaking saddle thrown at him by a starship captain. So close...

What? We don't see Tim Russ' character get killed. And sure, he looks human here, but we know cosmetic surgery exists. And it makes the episode I bit more fun. That's the way I choose to remember it. Too bad the Voyager writers didn't decide to make it canon.

As for the episode itself, it's good fun as long as you turn off your brain. If you turn on your brain, it ends up making no sense of course.

After all, look at Kelsey. She killed her nervous tech guy for... what? Being annoying? To cut down on the loot to share? Who knows? What we do know is that means she has no moral concern with killing, no concern in the slightest. So this story should have ended 5 minutes in. Picard brought in to Engineering as a prisoner. Kelsey kills him and gets back to work. Game over. Later, Picard gets captured again. Kelsey asks if he's alive, and is pleased when the answer is affirmative. Why? She's not going to take him with, and the Baryon sweep would eventually kill him anyway. So what difference does it make? Twice Picard should have just been killed if the smugglers were smart. Twice he was allowed to live. Kelsey deserved to lose just based on stupidity.

And, of course, there was Riker and company's brilliant subterfuge on the surface in clandestinely plotting their escape. Anyone else reminded of Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The scene where the kid in the tower who didn't want to marry the lass with huge tracts of land was "secretly" shooting his arrow asking for help while the guards just smiled? The difference, of course, is that in Python it was played as absurdist comedy, while here it was actually intended to be serious.

Still, it was an enjoyable action/comedy, a nice breather from more serious episodes. I don't mind a little ActionPicard; he is the main character of the show after all. It was still done in moderation (until the movies of course), so why not?
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SkepticalMI
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Birthright, Part II

There's one part of this episode that no one has commented on but is probably the biggest problem I have with the episode: the Worf/Ba'el romance. Oh, people have talked about it and its problems, but what about age? Worf is what, 30? 32? We have an upper limit of 25 for Ba'el, but she's probably closer to 16-18. She looks like a teenager and acts like a teenager. And no one writing or shooting this episode saw a problem with this?

I can understand Ba'el being attracted to Worf, being a teenager and all, but I simply cannot see the opposite. Worf very clearly sees these other Klingons as youths. He sees a clear generation gap, not just in terms of culture but also age and experience. There's something rather squicky about Worf taking advantage of Ba'el's inexperience. Even worse, there was no reason for it. The closest plot reason was to cause the rift when he finds out she's Romulan, but as Jammer pointed out that plot point was dropped like a hot potato and nothing of any relevance came out of it. And naturally the relationship was dropped immediately after the episode ended. It should never have happened at all.

Also, as a minor annoyance, even someone who likes Klingon episodes like me is starting to get sick of the way Worf describes everything. Every little detail is of profound implications? I'm starting to wonder if he just makes stuff up now. "It is the Moq'bagh, the right of calling shotgun. If I do not sit in that chair on the shuttlecraft my family will be disgraced for 12 generations!" "Uh, sure Worf. Whatever you say..."

But besides that, I liked the episode. Like Jammer, I thought the themes were excellent. Unlike Jammer, I thought they were played out relatively intelligently. It's not just that Worf needed to get them some adrenaline and they would become Klingons. In fact, I'm glad that it didn't require fights to awaken a Klingon spirit. From watching it, I felt that it wasn't necessary the power of what Worf was telling the kids or the spirit of Klingonosity that was awakening in them, it was mostly the force of Worf's character.

The old Klingons had been beaten down, cowed, and shamed. They lost the will to live, and had lost the will to rebel or even think for themselves. Even though it was clearly not Tokath's intention, he had beaten them into submission to the point that they were virtually lifeless. And they, either directly or indirectly, forced that lifelessness on their children. We see it in the way the kids don't question the prison aspect, despite the fact that there are walls, despite the fact that the Romulans wear uniforms and the Klingons don't. We see it in the way they are forbidden from questioning anything, and how what little tradition they pick up is completely meaningless to them.

So now here comes Worf, who actually has some life in him. He cares about something more than himself, more than the compound. He can explain what things mean. He has exciting stories to tell. He has a richer and deeper culture than anything these people have experienced before. In contrast, the camp offers nothing. It offers no defense of its culture, but rather tries to shut Worf down. It offers no alternative, no desires, no myths, nothing but mere existence and the suppression of anything else. Is it any wonder that the kids would be curious?

Yes, simply smelling one's prey is hardly an exciting transformation. But Worf was teaching Toq something new, something different, that hinted at a richer life than anything he had dealt with before. And Toq accomplished something in the hunt that he never did before. And he came back fresh and excited and wanting to share that experience with everyone else. And how did the Romulans act? By denying him his excitement, by decrying his accomplishments, and by executing the man who he had just befriended.

Regardless of the quality of Klingon culture, is there any doubt that their commitment to the culture of Tokath's suppressive, dictatorial reign would fade? They didn't realize how much of a prison they were in until they were given a peek of the outside world and saw it slammed shut in their faces. And given that it was their only glimpse of the outside world, they clung hard to it. Their "Klingonness" was only skin deep. It was only the fact that the person who showed them the outside world, whose convictions were so strong that they could not be beaten down even at the point of death, that made their Klingon side awaken. Perhaps they will lose the desire to be Klingon once exposed to the rest of the galaxy. But at least now they have a real choice.

To me, the quality of Klingoness was less important than the quality of having a strong moral center. I mean, I agree with WillliamB that Worf is hardly a true ambassador of what it means to be Klingon (and I like that they acknowledge this in Rightful Heir), I just don't think it was that important to the plot. In a situation like that, anyone would do to be able to teach the Klingon ways to these kids, at least enough to inspire them to learn more. The fact that it is someone with such a rock-hard set of ideals like Worf is more important than the quality of the teaching. I mean, it's important in the future, if these kids want to learn what it really means to be Klingon, but it's not important when it comes to awakening a spirit within the kids.

So yeah, other than the tacked on Ba'el romance I thought it worked ok. I also liked the old Klingon's last line that reinforced the fact that, whatever Tokath's intentions may have been, this is still a prison. Some posters here may be ok with suppressing all other thought for their idea of a utopia, but it's nice to see that Trek doesn't always do that.
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SkepticalMI
Thu, Aug 7, 2014, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

I am of 2 minds here. On the one hand, this plot makes little sense for several reasons:

1) As others have pointed out, Picard was already driven before this event took place (his marathon victory). So why was it this event, or lack thereof, that made him a drifter and lazy and all?

2) More importantly, he already had a life-changing event in his academy days (whatever it was that Boothby gave him advice about). Shouldn't that have had some impact on the tapestry of his life?

3) Also, as others have mentioned, if this was really about saving his life, why was he still alive afterwards? Q was just messing around with him, apparently.

4) Which brings me to the next point: Why the heck was Q doing this in the first place? Unless he really does run the afterlife, this was completely out of the blue?

5) Do we really want to have the aesop of this story be "Be stupid and reckless as a kid or you will grow up a loser"? After all, the examples Q gave later that got Picard to where he was (leading an attack on some planet, taking command of the Stargazer) showed Picard was a man who lept forward with decisive action during a crisis. And yet, in the alternate timeline Picard created, that is exactly what he did! A weak-willed man wouldn't stand up to his best friend like that. He wouldn't punch out his friend in order to save his life. Picard saw a crisis, and acted on it. Exactly the sort of man he would become. So why does it make him a drifter later?

But besides that, the episode is thoroughly enjoyable, so let's try to solve these problems.

First of all, I don't think Picard was really dead. Or possibly even dying. Or maybe he was, and Q just cured him at the end. It was always Q's intention to teach Picard this little lesson and to bring him back to life at the end. Of course, being Q, he had to do it in a roundabout why while snarking at Picard the entire time.

And why did he do it? Because of All Good Things. Q, being nonlinear in time or whatever, knew that the trial was still on and that Picard would eventually face the anti-time paradox. And Q, given his fascination for humanity, wanted Picard to win. So somehow, in some subtle way, this lesson must have been needed to prepare Picard for his later test. Perhaps it had to do with expanding his conscienceness, allowing him a better understanding of the subtleties of cause and effect across decades. Perhaps it was to simply get him used to travelling through time. Perhaps it was to reinforce the message of standing up in a crisis, so that he would risk everything to solve the mystery of the anomaly. I don't know. But Q never came to the Enterprise for no reason. I'd like to think there was something more subtle going on here. It just seems more satisfying to me that Q was doing this for a larger purpose, and not just for fun.

So that solves 3&4, what about 5? I think Q was wrong about the lesson. We know OldPicard changed his past because he knew what was happening. But what was YoungPicard's rationale for breaking up the fight before it began and sleeping with Marta? After all, after Q snapped his fingers, YoungPicard would be back in that role, so what does he remember about that event? Surely he doesn't remember Q! So I'm assuming YoungPicard did exactly what I said earlier. He stepped up and took risks. And both of those risks ended up backfiring on him. His actions lost him his two best friends.

YoungPicard didn't know that he would have been stabbed if he didn't do that. So he may have second-guessed his actions there. Did he really see a knife? Couldn't the three of them have beaten the Nausicaans? Likewise, he ruined his friendship with Marta. And regretting those actions (not the "never faced death" bit) is what caused him to drift in his career. He always second guessed himself afterwards, hesitated rather than leaping forward in a crisis. And not only during crisises, but in life as well. He never took risks, never tried to move forward. And so he never made new friends, never fell in love, never advanced his career. So he was as defeated a person as he appeared to be.

That explains why Q kept pushing Picard to sleep with Marta. He knew that that was also part of what would unravel the tapestry, and so needed Picard to screw up there as well.

I still think it's silly that a single event will define your life like that, but whatever. If that's the way it must be, then it is slightly plausible.

In the end, though, it almost doesn;t matter, because the Q/Picard relationship here is as great as everyone else said. It was interesting to see Picard be almost friendly to Q, opening up and sharing his feelings, his regrets, and his deepest thoughts with Q. Regardless of what Picard was saying, he did appear to believe that he was dead and this really was the afterlife. He knew that there was no way out of this except through Q, and thus clung to him. In some way, it was a bit out of character for him. But in reality, it made sense given the situation. What else could Picard do?

I have a hard time rating this as an instant classic like so many do. It's a lot of fun (as everyone already knows), but it just seems somewhat meaningless and disconnected. I had to really stretch things in order to have it make sense for me, which probably is not a good idea in a show.
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SkepticalMI
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Face of the Enemy

I do want to echo what everyone else said. This is an excellent performance by Sirtis, and is probably her best episode. It probably just goes to show how pointless the position of psychiatrist was on the show. They really couldn't show her doing her job much, and she wasn't too convincing as a serious advisor to Picard in delicate situations. Thus, she was relegated to telling everyone that the alien is hiding something, having cringe-worthy "love interest" episodes, and having her body taken over by noncorporeal aliens. So yeah, good to see her out of her element, but in a good plot for once. A far cry from season 1.

I think the dinner scene was my favorite, as it seemed to be the turning point in Troi's transformation to a treacherous Tal Shiar. Up to this point, she was clearly still acting very Starfleet-ish, being rather nice and accommodating and thus always ending up on the defensive. It was clear that Toreth didn't trust her at all, and it was clear that Troi would eventually be uncovered at the rate she was going. Yes, at that point Toreth just assumed she was a rookie intelligence officer who didn't know what she was doing, but things were going downhill fast. Troi wanted to hide in her room, but was forced to join the officer's mess. And then Toreth started to test her, and again Troi looked lost. But somewhere along the way, something clicked with her. She suddenly turned things around on Toreth. She started to be more confident, more condescending. She grew into the role that she needed to play. It was fun to watch.

If I have one quibble, it's the execution of the first officer. At that point, I imagine Toreth could have easily regained control and arrested N'Vek. I imagine that would be the Romulan thing to do (can't interrogate a dead person!). Toreth's action was more like what a Klingon would do. It's easily rectified; N'Vek could have pulled his weapon, and then his death would be justified. But it's a very minor point.

And I also want to echo what Patrick said a while back: this episode just highlights the failure of Nemesis. As I was rewatching this episode, it occurred to me that some sort of resolution to the Spock underground movement would have been a fitting end to the TNG movie era. TNG really did the Romulans best, and were chilling in the 3rd and 4th season. Afterwards they lost their luster a bit, but by calling back to Unification, this episode brought some nice continuity to the table. Suddenly we did have a couple new potential subplots to play with (that were much better than dealing with the daughter of an alternate universe Yar, and certainly better than a clone of Picard...). The tension between the military and the intelligence. A major senator defecting (only 3 years removed from a high level admiral defecting). And a new underground movement gaining steam. Yes, the connection is pretty tenuous, as the Senators in stasis was just a MacGuffin for the Troi plot, but it was nice to see anyway.

Nemesis even had a coup/peace initiative as part of its plot! While it was interesting to hear of the Remans, Shinzon was such a worthless character. Wouldn't it have been better to see some sort of resolution to this situation? It would be a nice swan song for TNG, much like Undiscovered Country was for TOS. It could have even had a Spock cameo if Nimoy was up for it. I don't know what the plot would have been, but it couldn't be any worse than what we got.
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SkepticalMI
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Ship in a Bottle

Interesting theory about Picard having an anti-mechanical bias because of the Borg. It fits the timeline too (Measure of a Man and Offspring were both pre-BOBW). But I think the simpler explanation is easier. Society is simply in unknown territory here. The idea of artificial sentience is still fairly new; even Data's sentience was only defined a few years ago. And everyone thought he was unique. It's certainly reasonable to be skeptical that people are creating sentient life left and right these days. And the implications of that then become even more difficult. Should the scientist from Quality of Life create more exocomps? Does she have the right to? And if not, does that mean that those two are the only ones that will ever exist? Does Moriarty, assuming he is sentient, have the right to grant sentience to random holodeck characters like he did with the Countess? It's all pretty dicey. While it may not be admirable of Picard, it's a bit understandable that he would be ok if the problem just went away.

Besides, Moriarty tried to take over the ship twice. You can't blame Picard for not being a fervent supporter of his rights.

Yes, the final solution is a bit hard to swallow. And perhaps it does deserve more weight, as Elliot suggested. It's a very good point; this episode does just dance around a meaty issue just for the sake of a good time. That's the sort of thing that Voyager is constantly criticized for, so shouldn't it be a criticism here?

Maybe, but I can't help but admit that it was a darned good time. And I do still enjoy this episode and rate it highly.

Maybe its because I'm not so convinced they are sentient. Especially the countess. So Moriarty programmed her with consciousness? How? It seems pretty convenient that even with her free will, she still ends up exactly the way he wants her to be. Likewise, the explanation for Moriarty's sentience never made much sense. Accidentally creating sentience like that seems rather fishy to me. And WilliamB is right, Moriarty is acting more like the fictional character here. So I guess the fact that I don't find the nature of their sentience be convincing means I don't care too much about a meaty solution to their problem. Which means I can just enjoy it as a fun episode.

And wow is it a fun episode.
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