Comment Stream

Search and bookmark options Close
Search for:
Search by:

Total Found: 1,157 (Showing 1-25)

Next ►Page 1 of 47
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 4:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Forgot TOS, whoops:

3: TOS2
2: TOS1
1: TOS3.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 4:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

For the record (I know this has been done before): number of 4* episodes (according to Jammer) -- where here I'll also count 2-hour/2-part episodes with a single rating as 2 eps (e.g. All Good Things, Occupation/Precipice from BSG)

5: DS95,7; BSG4
4: TNG3,5,7; DS96; BSG2,3
3: TNG4; DS92,3,4; BSG1
2: TNG2; VOY5,6; ENT1
1: TNG1; DS91; VOY2,3,4,7; ENT2,3; Andromeda 1; Caprica (as long as reviewed)
0: VOY1; ENT4; Discovery s1; Orville thusfar; Andromeda 2.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

(Lest it seem like I really hate The Icarus Factor: I think the Worf subplot is funny and effective, and the IDEA of Will's conflict with Kyle Riker ends up being very important for Riker's character, and the transition in the character from the hyper-ambitious rank-climber to the more settled man in BOBW and beyond, so it's an important episode, just that the execution of the main story isn't great.)
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

In addition to general series, it also helps/harms individual seasons of those shows to a lesser extent; see the thread for The Icarus Factor, where Patrick asks if Jammer really thinks The Icarus Factor and Family (both 3* shows) are actually equivalent, and Jammer jokes that he thinks TIF is better before saying that he's really rating them relative to what TNG s2 looks like versus s4 -- which is even two years apart. Now that said, I think that even relative to those respective seasons, Jammer overrates The Icarus Factor and seriously underrates Family, but the fact remains that he acknowledges some floating of the levels for the different ratings. That said, except for cases like that, I'm not sure that the rating variance is *so* huge between different TNG seasons, because you can see s2's extreme unevenness in the ratings, and he doesn't really pull punches on the several really bad episodes, even if not-that-successful shows which have some bright patches of characterization and interesting long-term implications like Icarus get a bit of a boost.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Jammer is probably the best person to ask (though it's in some ways not that interesting a question), but here's my take:

I don't think that the point is that VOY s1 or ENT s4 are particularly weak seasons. The lack of 4 star shows just means a lack of 4 star shows; VOY s1 also has only one episode with a sub-2* rating, and it's 1.5*, and that's actually very good for a Trek season overall -- there are only a handful of Trek seasons with no episodes of 1* or lower. ENT s4 has the one 1* ep (Bound) but otherwise doesn't sink below 2*, so also gets points for consistency. And we find the same with ratings for Discovery s1, which never sinks below 2*, which is rare. It's not a knock against those seasons so much as a sense that they don't have classics, which in turn is maybe a knock against them -- since a lot of what we're here are the memorable classics.

I was going to say that I also think that ratings are a little relative to season, and the fact that the VOY s1/ENT s4/Disco s1 ratings were done from week-to-week rather than in retrospect, like TOS/TNG/DS9 s1-2, might mean that it's hard to identify where the level of a four star episode is for that season. And yet, am I really arguing that there are any seasons of TOS/TNG/DS9 s1-2 that don't have any four-star eps? The only possible exception I can think of is that *maybe* TNG s1's 11001001 gets a slight boost by virtue of the season it's in and is maybe more naturally a 3.5* show, but other than that, I can't think of any seasons of TOS/TNG/DS9 s1-2 that don't have any obvious 4* candidates (and in some cases, I'd give out more 4*'s personally). Here I'll add though that if Duet had happened to come in DS9 s2, only a handful of eps later, and if Jammer didn't (subconsciously?) scale one of the 3.5*'s up, then DS9 s1 would be a clear case of "season Jammer really clearly likes and speaks highly of without a 4* show," demonstrating that the 4* classics are not strictly necessary for a year to be good. Though even there, you know, Duet does do something pretty special for DS9 s1 in terms of paying off a lot of the set-up early enough to make s2 clear viewing.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Collaborator

I actually wonder how much Kira herself led to this interpretation of Odo's actions; in Necessary Evil, he demonstrated that he cared about justice rather than serving the Cardassians by letting Kira go when she (falsely) claimed that she was innocent. Kira had said that he would have to choose a side, and he insisted he wouldn't, and she banked on the idea that he was either noble enough or naive enough to believe that, in order to get released, and she succeeded. Kira's personal admiration for Odo can be traced back to that moment, and it also has an element of guilt for her, because their early relationship was based on a lie -- where she used his pro-justice beliefs against him. Certainly Bajorans probably came to trust him for the reasons Peter mentions, but once the Occupation ended and it was no longer necessary to trust anyone working for the Cardassians, no matter how noble, I think it's probably Kira's position and support on the station that probably led to Odo's acceptance and continued role.

But more generally, I think Odo gets his status for being a literal out-of-this-quadrant alien. He was raised by Dr. Mora, but he's still physically and emotionally markedly distinct from either Bajorans or Cardassians, and is even more different physically than the Bajorans and Cardassians are different from each other. If the Bajorans never quite accept Odo as being one of them, then it's not really "collaborating" for him to work with the Cardassians. I have a hard time imagining even some Bareil-type ascetic being able to take Odo's job and convince the entire Bajoran people that he's "neutral" when he arrests and jails Bajorans and sometimes presides over their executions (if they are murderers), even if he doesn't get any cushy perks from his position. Odo's otherworldliness is also part of why people bought the idea that Odo had some sort of preternatural, almost mystical ability to recognize and carry out Justice that was beyond the petty Bajoran and Cardassians, and, indeed, it does turn out to be genetic, though as we discover it's actually Order that he has a genetic propensity for and he had mistaken this for Justice.
Set Bookmark
William B
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 1:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

Just one last thing: regarding my Star Wars point, and Riker's being both good "son" and his own man: I think part of growing up is realizing that one's parents are flawed, and also (eventually) being in a position of actually saving them, rather than the other way around. Riker's initial move to destroy Locutus is tactically understandable, but (metaphorically!) it also is a somewhat childlike response to a parent being wrong: it is necessary to rebel and even destroy one's parent's authority in order to be one's own person. "Father is being tyrannical, so I must run away." What Riker does instead is more like finding a way to save one's parent from making a terrible mistake, to realize that one has the power as an adult to step in and help: "dad is wrong, but he's hurting, and I'm old enough now to be able to help him see the light." Played out on a galactic stage with incredible stakes.
Set Bookmark
William B
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

@Peter, excellent analysis. I'd add a fourth interpretation:

Locutus of Borg, as an asset, is the best of both worlds: he has the clarity, intellect, ideology and resources of the Borg, and also the individual knowledge and insight of a Federation individual. We know, on some level, that something in Picard has been lost or suppressed, but basically his use to the Borg is that he is able to combine the Borg with his detailed knowledge and psychological insight into the Federation. This implies that the Borg is missing something, which they hope to supplement with their assimilation of first Picard and then Earth, and which they believe Locutus will supply them. This is part of why Riker's move to rescue Picard to use against the Borg is perfect, because this gets flipped: recently rescued Picard is also the best of both worlds, a brave, brilliant Starfleet officer, some of the best of what humanity has to offer; and also someone with the technical knowledge and experience of the Borg, enough to be able to use against them in exact symmetry with what the Borg used against them. So the title can also refer to Picard/Locutus whose usefulness to both powers is because of his hybrid nature, and because his essence is Federation rather than Borg, when the brainwashing can be cut through, he ultimately saves the Federation even more than he saved the Borg before by his in between state.

This is maybe part of why it matters that Riker declares "I don't think so" about learning from the Borg cube at the episode's end. Riker's move was to mirror the Borg's action, but in an unexpected, improvisational way. If he stopped to learn more about the Borg vulnerabilities, it might give an opportunity for the Borg to pull a similar reverasal again.

I'll add that I think there's a Star Wars (or, I guess, Hero's Journey generally) element to the way Riker must defeat his corrupted father figure, and that his choice is ultimately to "defeat" him by saving him. And I think it's remarkable that this only happens after Guinan tells him to let Picard go. He both follows and defies her advice. He rescues his father figure, but only does so by fully rejecting his teachings and striking out on his own -- thus, being both a good "son" and his own man.

One more thing: Riker did lose to Picard, in The Measure of a Man. And what distinguishes that, I think, from this (or the incomplete game in Peak Performance) is that the battle was partly a moral one. Obviously that both Picard and Riker believed Data should be a person influences the outcome; Riker was relieved to lose. But in a contest of showmanship and argument-as-battle, Riker was winning, and the way Picard won was with a much farther vision than occurred to Riker, similar to in Hide and Q. It is this greater, farther moral vision that distinguishes Picard enough for Riker to want to learn from him, even though he is tactically the superior officer (and, indeed, no moral slouch either).
Set Bookmark
William B
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:06am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

@Trent, good points. It's worth noting that K'Ehleyr and the other humans assume that the "frozen" Klingons cannot possibly be brought into the present, which itself seems to be a misreading of what traditional values actually mean. K'Ehleyr (expanded out into a whole series for B'Elanna) ascribes all the things she doesn't like about herself to Klingonness, and so also *intellectually* misreads Worf even though she is attracted to and cares about him, and I think largely emotionally gets him even though she doesn't quite know how to deal with what she sees in him.

Anyway I don't think I was trying to say that the show views Worf as completely outmoded and robotic, and was trying to get across that "his passions are sincere, his love is deep"; I read the Ice Man thing more as being about rigidity rather than lack of emotional affect. But rereading what I wrote, I think I was mistaken at the time as to the degree to which Worf was rigid, and some of the reasons. His wanting to be permanently mated to K'Ehleyr, for instance, isn't about dogmatism so much as viewing in tradition an outlet for his romantic passions; he really *does* want to be with K'Ehleyr permanently, and assumes that she shares his values enough to want the same thing as him.

Another thing that just occurred to me: the Klingons waking up from their cryogenic slumber also mirror the reopening of Worf's heart to romantic love, which we gather has been somewhat suppressed since the end of he and K'Ehleyr's previous tryst. IIRC, the only hint of a Worf-romance was that Klingon woman Riker created with his powers back in Hide and Q. There is a bit of a recurring theme of Worf being afraid of letting himself be passionate because he is afraid he will hurt those he cares about if he does so (e.g. Guinan pointing out that Klingons laugh, but Worf generally doesn't in Redemption), which maps him a little bit onto Spock, despite the huge differences in other ways.
Set Bookmark
William B
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Ashes to Ashes

Yeah, I think that Kim Rhodes is fine and the episode does manage some mild pathos from her situation, but, as Elliott summed it up above, "as others have stated, it can't navigate its way to meaning anything beyond the superficial themes of loss and no-return." What is specifically interesting about Ballard's situation is that she's *returned from the dead*; why does the episode play out so much like something like TNG's Suddenly Human? The pairing with Harry is maybe part of the problem, but of course Harry himself has come back from the dead, arguably twice (Emanations, in a way Deadlock) and this is completely glossed over as a way to navigate to meaning, just as, e.g., Janeway's experiences in Coda or Neelix's in Mortal Coil or Seven's or the Borg kids' reintegration into life post-assimilation (which is even the subplot of this very episode!) are not brought up or enlightened by Ballard's story. And, I mean, hell, the whole central premise of Voyager is that the ship is *trying to get to a home in which it's uncertain whether they'll be able to fit in, after, let's recall, some of their loved ones had given them up for dead before Message in a Bottle/Hunters*. Use Ballard to comment on death, or to talk about central themes, rather than do a generic "it's hard when you've been assimilated into another culture" type story. The episode needed to tone down the culture shock of Kobali taste buds and language and emphasize what it means to be dead, to go back into a life which has moved you by because you've already left and been mourned. Play Ballard as a ghost or a zombie; play Ballard as an unfortunate living (or, maybe, "living") symbol of all the people Voyager has lost along the way, and of Janeway's guilt over all the people she's lost. The closest the episode gets is mostly to the Harry stuff, wherein he gets a Second Chance at a lost love, but the chemistry of the two is not really sufficient to overcome the problem that we pretty much know Ballard's death didn't affect Harry all that much, since we've seen him for six years not being affected by it, to say nothing of the idea that he apparently had a crush on her back in the days when he had a serious girlfriend, Libby, who I guess has dropped out of continuity altogether. ("Why didn't you tell me you had feelings for me, Harry?" "BECAUSE I HAD A GIRLFRIEND -- or wait, did I? I forget.")

In some respects, the episode is a little more competent in execution than TNG's sort of schizophrenic The Bonding, which fumbles a lot of the Marla stuff with poor guest acting and weird, inconsistent direction. But that episode's intentions are clearer, and the focus on death, duty, guilt, illusion versus reality, the importance of confronting death etc. are all fresher and more important and relevant; Worf, Wesley, Troi, Riker, Data, Picard, Crusher etc. all have moments in that episode reflecting on what it means to lose a crew member, and what her return could mean.

(I guess the episode could have gone the other way and really seriously examined what it would mean, as a sci-fi crazy concept, for there to be a species which "reproduces" by harvesting the dead, but the episode doesn't seem that interested in the idea, or what it would mean. How exactly does it work that a reanimated twentysomething corpse is supposed to have normal childlike love for their randomly assigned foster ghoul family after a year or two, and why are we supposed to buy that this is somehow the real truth of Ballard's condition?)

The subplot with the Borg kids is alternatively annoying and amiable. It's, I guess, in character for Seven not to have good child rearing strategies, but the obviousness of her failures make it not *that* interesting to watch. The real problem is that obviously Seven shouldn't be left to raise four children by herself with little help just because they're also ex-Borg refugees, and Janeway/Chakotay's insistence that Seven "volunteer" and then not be able to be relieved of this responsibility is played as a joke but is really pretty bad. I get that Voyager's in a special situation, but how can a captain/first officer order someone to parent rescued children just because they judge them best for the job, even if there is evidence to the contrary? Even having Chakotay say, "Stick with it for another week and we'll see, but I think you're the best for them" would have made the command structure less overtly despotic. I guess there is a mild tie in with the main plot, not with the weird Harry and Mezoti ending, but with showing how foster families are real families, but this makes more sense with Seven's dynamic with the actual-children than the adult dead Ballard's relationship with her new "parents."

Why the hell would a replicator burn a pot roast? (I guess it's thematically on point. A burned pot roast is no longer a pot roast, just as a dead ensign is no longer an ensign.)

Despite my negativity, I think there are a few good scenes here and Rhodes' performance is good, so I'll go with a marginal 2 stars.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

@Peter, thanks for the description. That sounds very bizarre. And in particular, with STVI (and the TOS examples I listed), whether we see Spock's actions as justifiable or not, it's clear why he uses them, in the sense that the mind meld and "do nothing" are the only options. Perhaps he should have chosen "do nothing," particularly given the pain Valeris experiences, but we know that Spock was not acting in a situation where there was an alternative, less invasive, way of achieving his goals.
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

""The Dominion is supposed to represent a creditable threat to the combined power of the Klingons, Romulans, and Federation at the end of the series, while being confined to ONE star system, because, 'They can build ships at an impressive rate.'"

I never got the impression the Dominion were confined to one star system; they clearly had the run of Cardassian Union's entire space. "

I think Tim is referring to the dialogue about halfway through What You Leave Behind, when the Dominion really did retreat to Cardassia Prime only:

ROSS [on viewscreen]: Ben, we've driven the Dominion back into Cardassia Prime. We can keep them bottled up there indefinitely.
SISKO: What if they use this time to rebuild their fleet?
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

(Sorry for butting in -- I haven't seen this episode or that scene, and so I have no informed opinion about it. It just makes me think about how TOS dealt with Spock's telepathic/mindmeld abilities.)
Set Bookmark
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Just thinking out loud here:

Out of curiosity, how was this Saru scene played? What I mean to say is -- why didn't Sarek just ask the information, or ask permission to mindmeld? Was Saru unconscious at the time?

What I mean to say is: in terms of Trek history, there are previous instances of mindmelds being initiated with people or aliens who were *not* in a position to consent -- e.g. the Horta in Devil in the Dark was impossible to communicate with before Spock did the meld, or the whales in Star Trek IV. There's also the controversial scene of Spock melding with a sleeping Kirk to help him forget his pain in Requiem for Methuselah. The thing that these have in common is that these were at least partly designed to help the meldees, and so the moral question is whether Spock's good intentions are justification enough to use this technique. If Saru was unconscious or unable to consent for some reason, then, while still pretty bad, it'd at least be fairly consistent with the way Spock behaved in TOS.

More generally, I agree that nonconsensual melds are really bad. But I'm not so sure this is all that unprecedented; reviewing on Memory Alpha, Spock used a meld through the wall to convince a guard to release them from jail in A Taste of Armageddon, and tried to meld with Kelinda in By Any Other Name to accomplish a similar thing, which failed. And then there's that time in...what, The Omega Glory?...where he apparently mind controls a woman across the room without touching her. So that's weird. Anyway, there are obviously instances of melds where the subject not only couldn't consent because of a species barrier, but would obviously not have wished to consent if they could communicate. A key element of these is that not only is the situation urgent, but Spock and Kirk were prisoners in each case, and were attempting escape, but it's unclear how much that should justify those actions.

The difference between these examples and scenes like the Valeris scene in STVI or Mirror Spock's forced meld with McCoy in Mirror, Mirror is largely in portrayal, but/and also what real world behaviours they largely map onto. The melds where Spock attempts to fool their captors function in the same way as the Jedi mind trick in Star Wars ("these aren't the droids we're looking for"), a bit of mental misdirection; the forced melds seem to function as a kind of extraction of information by (mental) torture.

What's worth noting is that TOS is also a product of its time, and the creation of the mindmeld was very specifically to give Spock a less violent way to dispatch enemies (in a similar manner to the neck pinch). Cases where Spock uses mind melds to trick his opponents into letting him go are meant to be cases where the main plot alternative would be for Kirk and Spock to punch them out, or possibly trick them a different way and then punch them out, ala the Fizzbin scene in A Piece of the Action. So to some extent, I think that the ethics of how to best use mind control as a defensive weapon wasn't fully on the radar during TOS, in which the various capture/escape scenes were mostly stagey and (as Trent put it) Brechtian, and we don't have to worry too much about Spock's mind control-as-plot device and how invasive it would be if it existed in reality. Even there, the torture-for-info connotations of forced extraction of information from mind meld are still largely present in Mirror, Mirror when mirror Spock uses it on McCoy. From what I've heard, it seems that DSC is a war show and is also meant to be gritty/realistic and so the torture connotations are harder to avoid.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

@Peter G.,

I was shocked by how little I disliked Michael Sullivan. The most likely explanation is that I've gone soft, but it might also be a total sensory overload from the behaviour of Janeway, Paris, Kim, the Doctor, Neelix, etc. and also the various other town louts that anyone who was even relatively quiet would earn my immediate lack of antipathy.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: The Voyager Conspiracy

I agree with a lot of what people are saying: the episode is cool in that it accurately describes (and predicts!) the consequences of information overload, where the pattern-seeking aspects of the brain, when given more data than was once available and which we are not properly prepared to integrate all at once, leads to superficially complex but actually simplistic, Manichean, and nonsensical conspiracy theories designed to make sense of all the mysteries at once. The episode also gets points for showing why this pattern-seeking is an important and positive quality -- Seven's quick assessment of the photonic fleas as an example of a good consequence of this type of mass collation of data and pattern-seeking within it. Ryan's acting is great and if Seven's eventual breakdown was overplayed, it's not significantly so. The big problem with this episode is Janeway and Chakotay's behaviour, particularly in the cargo bay, in which they apparently bought Seven's nonsense theory, learned to distrust each other, and then got over their identity-shattering doubts in a few seconds. A very big problem, but it at least take up very little time. 2.5 stars.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Fair Haven

I wrote about Spirit Folk already, so I'll just do the short version: I find the depiction of Fair Haven for the most part to be very grating and stereotypical, and while I appreciate the point that it's stereotyped because In The Future, people will have an even worse grasp of the past, but I don't really detect any genuine social commentary as far as that goes. That said, I find the Michael hologram to be relatively tolerable, and his interactions and chemistry with Janeway to be fine (in THIS episode). The depiction of Janeway's loneliness, where she actually goes (presumably) all the way with a hologram as opposed to the way she stopped her Gothic governess hologram after the male character kissed her back in Persistence of Vision, is powerful and touching, and worthwhile, and the notion of the impossibility of her having a relationship with a real person, and immersing herself in a fictional world, is sad and also something that is relatable to a lot of lonely people who find solace in fiction, just taken to a higher degree, and it makes a good pairing with Pathfinder. But -- there's always a but -- the episode seems to stop playing it this way partway through, and "decides" that the real problem with Janeway is not that she's having trouble reconciling her real feelings with the fact of Michael's not being real, or even with her recognition of Michael's "reality" with the fact that he is a creation of Paris' and that Paris and the others are treating "real people" like playthings, but that she should just lay off trying to change her boyfriend, man, like stop trying to control everything and let the relationship happen. The Doctor, who should know better, pretends he and the other holograms are exactly the same, and, I hate to keep harping on this, but IF that's true he should be a lot more up in arms about Paris' continually creating new life and then abandoning it once he gets bored of a particular program. If we take the perspective the show generally takes, which is that unsophisticated holo characters are basically as "real" as NPCs in a standard video game, then Janeway has to accept that Michael is a masturbatory romance fantasy, and recognize that this is as much as she can actually expect of her love life for the foreseeable future, and then *maybe* give herself some leeway to not control her holographic "boyfriend" which in this case would *only* map onto fans coming to accept that the actions of their favourite character are to some extent outside their control and in the hands of writers with a different grasp of narrative. The episode is mixed in quality as it goes along but still sort of works before it incorrectly identifies what the real issue with Janeway's "relationship" is and torpedoes the whole show. But it's not wholly without moments. 1.5 stars.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Collective

I find this episode boring and have little to say about it; it's sort of like a low-rent Miri (already not really a classic) but with the Borg...thrown in...? Very little is done to differentiate the Borg kids from other "kids these days" stories about kids having taken over; the interesting place the episode could have maybe gone is to what a children's idea of the Borg ideology would look like, and to show a more ground-up attempt of kids to form their own collective in the absence of the larger Borg Collective, rather than the (boring) idea of one bossy one trying to push a hierarchy on the others, who mostly react by standing around. The plot takes forever, seems to be haphazard in plot and execution, dropping characters for long periods (Chakotay, Paris and Neelix not only stop doing anything partway through the episode, but are rescued 100% offscreen; Kim's wandering around the corridors ends up being a total narrative dead end without being worth the small amount of time spent on it), never giving an explanation for the deaths of all the parents on the cube, producing yet another potentially lethal Borg-killing weapon never to be mentioned again, etc. The episode seems reverse-engineered to get to the end, where some of the Borg kids are rescued, and it *does* make the episode not-pointless, but wow, it's a rough ride to get there. 1.5 stars.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

Gosh, that was painful to watch. Bryan Fuller wrote this, huh?

Anyway, I've harped on this before in various holodeck episodes, and I'll describe it again. While AI is an interesting topic, I don't really mind if the Trek version of AI does not match with the shape of AI in the real world; it's speculative fiction, and its purpose is not purely predictive. But there has to be some sort of internal logic to the way AI or potential AI is treated. There are at least two modes of talking about holodeck characters: as fictional characters who the main cast can interact with, or as programmable people with inner lives and rights that need respecting. There can be ambiguity in this, especially for edge cases like Moriarty (signaled as a freak occurrence at the very beginning), and it is even possible to have different characters have different perspectives on which of the above a holodeck character fits into. But at the end of the day, especially when this goes on on a regular basis, the stories only work if the characters are able to consistently view them as either real or not. If they're real, then the implications of programming and reprogramming them are immense and they need to stop the constant creation, recreation, destruction etc. of them for their own entertainment and gratification; if they're not real, then they need to stop and recheck their priorities when prioritizing the holograms' fictitious lives at the same level as those of actual sentient beings. To me the portrayal of Janeway, Paris and Kim in this episode as having this perpetual double vision wherein they create these holograms but then treat them like people and don't get to the point of questioning whether they have a responsibility to the life forms they have created OR that they are giving undue weight to non-sentient toys they've thrown together hurts the characters badly and makes them look awful, in a way that I really don't think is the point. This is to say that I am willing to buy that Michael and the others are effectively sufficiently complex to be sentient and to have rights, but if so, then Paris should stop making new programs until they figure out what the hell to do about their godlike powers to keep recreating; and I am willing to buy that Michael and the others are exactly as meaningful as any fictional character, and so they are owed nothing by the crew except for the abstract fealty to the truth of human experience that artists owe.

Now, I know the show eventually touches on some of my complaints in (SPOILER) in the s7 stuff in Flesh and Blood and the like, and then makes a point about the double-visioned hypocrisy of seeing holograms as both real and not-real, and how this can be compared to the hypocrisies and double-vision of slavery and other human institutions that rely on dehumanization. OK, fine -- but at a certain point, you have to actually tell that story, and not spend agonizing episodes like this one without really acknowledging the contradiction, and then having some sort of bizarre moral about how it's great for people of the 24th century to get along as equals with the halfwit walking cliches they've haphazardly thrown together for their own entertainment. It doesn't work as a story about people getting along with real people they've dehumanized, because the Fair Haven people promptly go back to their in-Fair Haven-universe concerns rather than actually grappling with the fact that they were created to be playthings and diversions and that most of what they believe is false. Are you seriously saying that Michael is okay with continuing a "relationship" with Janeway knowing that he's a totally fictional creation, and that she has absolute power to transform him at a moment's notice? That whatsername, cow-girl, finds dating a spaceman a decent trade-off for having been made into a cow for a day? That Seamus is onto searching for a pot of gold or whatever? (Well, that one I believe, but only because Seamus is a hopeless caricature.) Moriarty wanted to escape his holographic prison, and eventually had to be tricked into accepting a new one -- a morally iffy solution to a thorny problem, precipitated by Moriarty holding the ship hostage to what was an impossible idea. The Fair Haven people's reaction to discovering they are fake completely proves that they are unworthy of having wasted time on their perspective. And as a story, it also doesn't work as a story about the proper way to interact with one's fictional characters and toys, which is obvious for reasons on its face. I was reminded in this episode not just of the great Moriarty episodes on TNG, but also of the Toy Story movies, which breathe life into toys and imagine an interior life to them, but which is crafted in a way that doesn't require the children to (all) be psychopaths for having attachment to them.

Anyway, besides all that, the episode is unforgivably boring. That is the other major difference between this and something like Elementary, Dear Data, which made the call to give self-awareness to a genius who quickly appraises his situation and decides what he wants about it. The Fair Haven people are morons, and we have to wade through endless scenes of these uninteresting and paper-thin concoctions piecing together superstitious theories about the Voyager crew, supported by a string of increasingly ridiculous contrivances to move the plot along. Who cares if these characters think the Voyager crew are spirit folk? What does it matter? The "first contact scenario" where the crew is seen as gods or demons because of their superior abilities or tech was handled with relative aplomb as recently as Blink of an Eye, and is a Trek staple, but nothing is added to those other stories and, of course, the idea is not taken seriously here, especially since (again) Voyager created them. Michael is tolerable as a presence, if barely, but the rest of them, Seamus especially, are aggravating in their every moment on screen. The only interesting question if we take the POV of the Fair Haven people seriously is the question of whether they have a justified grievance at how Voyager treats them, and, if so, whether they have enough sentience for their "POV" to be any more meaningful than a programming glitch, and the episode short-circuits this.

0.5 stars.
Set Bookmark
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

@Trent, I went from mildly liking the episode when I was young, to strongly disliking it when I thought about it before watching it a few years ago, to somewhat disliking it when watching it, to being more positive about it after talking it over with my wife (then-girlfriend) who generally liked it. I think it's worth noting that there is something about it that is different from s1 tonally and suggests the way the show's writers, cast and especially directors (Bowman especially) are experimenting and trying to find what it is about the show that works. The Wesley material and the smooth, quiet introduction of the cast shake-ups (Geordi's movement to Engineering, Pulaski and Guinan's introduction) work very well for me, and there is a kind of sensitivity in the way the Troi material is handled -- Riker's reaction, for example -- that resonate, even though there is something both well-worn and relatively pointless about the Ian material directly. The only headway I've ever made with what this story is really about, besides the TNG-era optimism of the idea that aliens will be as curious about us as we are about them, and that apparent violations of personal sovereignty in this case might be forgivable lapses in beings who are not yet aware of what boundaries we consider important, is the sped-up notion of children as beings who briefly visit and then disappear from a mother's life, told from the perspective of the mother (Troi/Ian) and the child (Wesley/absent Beverly). This still doesn't quite gel with what I *remember to be* (though I could be wrong -- it has been a while) Troi's quasi-serene, nearly-disinterested reaction to the goings on, which I think is partly a signal that the writers and maybe Marina Sirtis hadn't gotten a handle on Troi as a person yet and were treating her as some magical symbol of distant, incomprehensible femininity ("Goddess of Empathy," as the Hollow Pursuits take would go) or something. But the episode has its moments, and I particularly remember the tone and visuals, particularly in the just-introduced Ten Forward, being impressive; I wouldn't mind revisiting it.
Set Bookmark
William B
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Tsunkatse

General season update: I'm finding s6 wildly inconsistent, but often very rewarding. I basically feel positive about it, and I am stating this now because I suspect that the next three episodes will take a big hit out of my enthusiasm. (I remember liking Child's Play, though.) The last few eps have really had an on/off pattern (One Small Step +, The Voyager Conspiracy -, Pathfinder +, Fair Haven -, Blink of an Eye +, Virtuoso/Memorial middle, Tsunkatse -).
Set Bookmark
William B
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Tsunkatse

I've stopped commenting for a while. My wife and I got to Tsunkatse last night. At the episode's end, I was wondering what it was about this episode (for example) that left me so cold. Certainly, the gladiator combat stuff is really old hat, and was very hoary back in The Gamesters of Triskelion, and despite the superior production and fantastic acting from Ryan and Hertzler, the whole thing feels rote and warmed-over. But I don't think it being a cliche by itself covers everything; I found the Worf-Jem'Hadar fight stuff in By Inferno's Light kind of on the dull side, but not just the performances (with Hertzler in a somewhat similar role!) but also the script seemed to indicate that the people behind the story cared. In this script, I detect a lack of conviction. The problem with cliches is largely that they become numbing, to the point where we expect the beats before they come, but they become especially toxic when the writers seem to know that too, and seem to lose interest in actually getting us to believe the beats. In particular, the Hirogen's training Seven never gets sufficiently justified; why does Seven think he takes a big interest in her in the beginning? And when his reason for training her is revealed, the explanation only really covers why the Hirogen is training *someone*, not why he chose this particular untrained newcomer to be the one to kill him. It's not that I can't imagine possible explanations for it -- maybe not!Weyoun wants not!Martok to fight indefinitely and keeps throwing inferior fighters at him, and Seven is the first one that showed promise, or something; the emotional dynamics don't ring true, because it's a big buy to begin with that the Hirogen wants to die in the ring but has to put a huge amount of work into training an opponent for that to happen, and that he simultaneously picks a newcomer to train her to kill him over two days. Similarly, while it makes sense to have the episode's climax be a fight between Seven and the person she's closest to, having there be only one brief fight, which she loses badly, before her Red Match fight-to-the-death means we have to have all her character transformation into vicious fighter be in somewhat abstracted training matches. It feels like there needed to be some intermediate moral lines if the story was genuinely selling "will Seven kill in the ring?" -- have another few non-Red Match (non fight-to-the-death) matches where Seven becomes more aggressive, or something. It's possible I'm just complaining about the plot being thin. Anyway, I guess this is a long way to say, I think the idea of Seven finding herself in a situation where she might have to kill and whether this affects her self-image is a good one, but it feels vaguely tacked on here to a story that seems mostly cooked up because The Rock wanted to do a cameo.

The vague moralistic stuff on Voyager, where the crew learns that they were watching wrestling which kidnaps players for their games and Chakotay or whoever says some kind of "we watched it too," is also on the dumb side. That the crew somehow were big fans of the game but didn't find out that sometimes there were matches to the death is pretty unbelievable, and the casualness with which they accept that in this game, people have lights put on their body that deliver painful electric shocks when hit also seems to belie their "I'm in it for the athleticism!" talk. But even given that, I'm not sure who exactly they are criticizing -- if there is some attack on the complicity of audiences, it's worth remembering that most pro sports still don't literally kidnap people and make them fight to the death two days later. A nuanced discussion about, say, major injuries in pro sports (e.g. concussions in football) could be interesting and worthwhile, with say the Doctor and Chakotay maintaining their approximate positions from this episode (the Doctor: this is barbaric, unhealthy, and anyone who thinks they know what they are getting into is being manipulated or is foolish; Chakotay: it's a way to push yourself and people choose it, and the cultural history shouldn't be ignored -- or some such), but this episode is not that.

Annnnnyway, I don't mean to say this episode is awful, and there are some good things about it. The performances are good; it's great to see Hertzler and Combs again, even if their characters feel like warmed-over, far less complex and interesting versions of Martok and Weyoun. 2 stars maybe.
Set Bookmark
William B
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

I think, btw, that Federation ideals would dictate either divesting from the Defiant deal with the Romulans after Die or officially dropping any pretense of neutrality. Tain et al. in Die are like General Ripper in Dr Strangelove, basically launching a first strike which will necessarily force everyone into war whether they want it or not. In Dr Strangelove, in order to avoid mass deaths, the president attempts to stop the massacre. In this case, we gather that the Cardassian and Romulan nominal governments don't make any such effort. Maybe it's not the Federation's or Klingon Empire or Ferengi Alliance's (etc) call but they are all being dragged by Tain et al into war -- or would have if it hadn't been a trap. I don't think warning the Founders would be a PD violation, and I think it would be the moral thing to do, to be prevented preemptive genocide, except 1) I might be too starry-eyed and 2) it's complicated, because the likely blowback against innocent Cardassians and Romulans, and other Alpha Quadranters would be intense. So I don't know what should be done.

I'm also not defending Janeway's choices in Scorpion so much as saying that I don't think it's that far from what they do on DS9.

Re Peter's last point, I still think that the show is more ambivalent about Janeway in many eps, including Tuvix (we've talked on this before), Year of Hell, Prey, Night, Latent Image (where her initial position re the Doc's memories is shown to be entirely wrong), Equinox II, Tinker Tenor (where she also changes her mind re the Doc). I tend to agree that the scales are tilted more pro-Janeway than I'd like and in some eps -- Dark Frontier -- more signals that they know they're writing her cracking up would have gone a long way.
Set Bookmark
William B
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

I'm just thinking aloud. Certainly as bad as the Romulans and Cardassians are, there is an established relationship the Federation has with them, which common sense dictates may be impossible with the Borg. And it's *possible* that the Federation either stopped feeding info to the Romulans or else believed that with the Tal Shiar out of commission, there was no more risk of their data being used aggressively. Mostly though I suspect they continued trading data for cloak anticipating that this would be used against the Dominion, possibly to attempt to wipe them out, and also continued working with Cardassians, particularly after the Romulans/Cardassians attempted preemptive genocide -- which, yes, the Founders stoked as part of a trap, but which a lot of Romulans agreed to and was hatched by Tain -- and I'm not sure why that's significantly different from Janeway's trade of info in a war she's nominally outside of.

I love DS9, but the various attempted genocides -- The Die is Cast against the Founders, By Inferno's Light against the Bajorans -- are so extreme and yet seem almost brushed off a week later, and I find it hard to know how to weight them. The Section 31-created Founder disease and the Founders' massacre of Cardassians in the finale feel more heavily weighted, somehow.
Set Bookmark
William B
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

Just to tease what Trent said above about the Federation not warning the Founders in The Die is Cast, it's worth remembering that the Federation was supplying the Romulans with data on the Dominion in exchange for the cloak on the Defiant. If the Romulans decide to use that information to attempt genocide, I'm not sure how the Federation can claim Prime Directive neutrality or whatever, if they 1) do nothing when the genocide is attempted and 2) (presumably) maintain their tit for tat deal, since the Defiant keeps its cloak. Sisko saving the Detapa Council proves willingness to interfere with a much closer ally than the Cardassians and Romulans, on a non-genocidal mission. Maybe the Federation was right to wait and see and hope that the Founders get obliterated, but I don't think it's a neutral decision given their (continued, after Die) complicity in supplying the Romulans with info. This is relevant because as weird as it is, the Borg really are The Devil You Know against 8472 just as the illiberal, recent enemy Romulans and Cardassians were against the Dominion, and 8472 was honestly more explicitly threatening genocide at the respective stages of those stories. I think; the first time I remember a totally explicit threat of genocide against Alpha Quadranters by the Founders was the Female's "you're all dead" speech to Garak in Broken Link, though I might be forgetting.
Next ►Page 1 of 47
▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2018 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.