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Picard is Back
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

For most of the series, PS has been playing Picard like himself and not Picard and therefore making it unreal, to those of us who know Picard so well. However, the dialogue between Seven and Picard near the end was the first time PS was playing Picard like Picard. It was the look on his face and his voice, that finally had me sighing "Ahh..... he's back", which I haven't felt the rest of the series.

Otherwise, most solid episode since the premiere.
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Drea
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Wow. Effective arc-based storytelling at last!

Seven becoming a vigilante in the wake of the Federation abandoning the Neutral Zone makes perfect sense, especially when the Zone becomes a hotbed for harvesting former Borg. Stardust City reminds me of the Planet of Galactic Peace in STV (a bad movie, largely because it *doesn't* wind up concerning that world's characters). It's exactly what happens in the Federation's absence, like with Yar's home planet. Fridging Icheb is probably the best narrative use for his character, since the series clearly wouldn't have space for any larger role, but Voyager built enough attachment that we're genuinely angry to see him butchered.

I dislike the gratuitous brutality in how we watched Icheb dissected. Part of what made 20th-century Trek important was that kids could see politics and ethics play out in ways that, depending on their geography and community, they otherwise might not. But this just plain isn't suitable for kids. Frankly, *I* was looking away from the screen. It is possible to tell this dark story and still make it family friendly; it's just a choice not to.

I didn't anticipate goodness from the "wacky caper" hints of the preview, but both the comedy and the character beats wound up working for me. We see the costs that pursuing the truth had on Raffi and her family. We see Rios' shrewdness--and I now wonder again whether he's a hologram. Elnor feels out of place and unnecessary (if he's not a highly effective combat backup, why is he there?). And Picard--Picard does what he's always done best. He makes a rousing speech in favor of our better angels, a speech that finds a peaceful solution. Then we see that solution given lip service and ignored as soon as Picard leaves. I wonder how many times people did the same thing after the Enterprise flew away in TNG.

I'm a bit disappointed that Agnes does indeed turn out to be a mole, but at least she's a mole with a heart and a conscience. Clearly she believes whatever the Tal'Shiar showed her about the consequences of positronic research, and she hates herself both for what she's done and what she now feels she needs to do. She's not built for this. It also means we may get a change of heart if she's given new evidence or pushed to harm additional people.

Starting next episode, we have our characters at last in the same place! Looking forward.

3.5 stars
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Norvo
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Horrific but effective opening flashback straight out of Saw aside, there's a lot to like about this episode. I loved the little easter eggs like Quark getting namedropped and the fact the Enterprise's chatty Bolian barber Mr. Mot has apparently opened a series of interstellar salons. Good for him!

Oh, and Picard's French accent is beyond 'orrifique!
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Chrome
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 11:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

No one’s mentioned this yet, but it looks like they were telling us that Jurati and Maddox used to be a couple. Killing someone that close to you seems a bit of a stretch, even if it’s a matter of duty to Starfleet. So, we’re pretty sure Jurati is being controlled like the way Geordi was in “The Mind’s Eye”, right?
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QueenOfTheBees
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 11:00am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Stigma

"After all, it's not as if AIDS research has been halted because governments don't feel a need to cure those who were unlucky enough to contract it, or because they don't agree with the behavior of some who have it. The problem with AIDS is not that we don't care about a cure, but that we are not yet capable of providing one."

AIDS research was halted because it was seen as a gay disease. The AIDS epidemic wasn't something inevitable, it was created by state enforced ignorance. It wasn't until people started being less prejudice that the disease started being taken seriously which then led to it's infection rates decreasing.

I liked how T'pol refused to throw minorities under the bus for her own benefit. Let's say only gay people got HIV, should that then mean the stigma against people with it would be any more justified? Of course not! "It doesn't just effect minorities" should never be the sole reason for taking something seriously.
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Walrus1701D
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:29am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Contagion

The writers were still being sloppy about who controlled what at this point, as Riker barked at Wesley about raising the shields when such a command is not available on the navigation panel.
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Trent
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Halfway through each Disco season, you could sense that the payoff would be ridiculous and utterly random.

With Picard, you can already sense that the Romulan refugee situation will go AWOL, and that the show will work toward another goofy click-bait climax. I wouldnt be surprised if Q appears, impregnates Hugh and gives birth to some kind of trans-temporal Skynet/Control gobblygook. Or that the Romulans know of a Disco-S3 future in which all biological life is wiped out.
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Big Pimpin'
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:01am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Also did they recast Icheb too? I think they did...
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Helmus
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

For me the best episode so far. I enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to next week!
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Big Pimpin'
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:59am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I agree with Richard that Picard and Seven's exchange made the episode worth the price of admission. Jeri Ryan is a great actress.

I liked the rest of the episode a lot, even though Patrick Stewart seems to have a somewhat loose grip on the Picard character these days.
I also think that the Maddox Agnes final scene was one "shocking" moment too many.

Also why recast Maddox????
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:56am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Spoilers
*tears for Icheb* very sad and very upsetting, very dark... like First Contact dark...
Is it really character assassination for Seven? And how does that gangster lady know about Annika? Quark's bar! Visual egg.
Since Icheb died and remember in the episode where the futuristic drone called One on Voyager... you could tell that Seven would want REVENGE.
How did it come to this? Why is Seven a vigilante?

Raffi and her son... a good character development and a good delving into her past and her relationships... her addictions and her troubles since the Mars incident...

Who did not see that coming? Dr Jurati and Maddox... that cruel end... Picard will find out soon...

Who likes Elnor? I do... We need good Romulans to fight against the bad Romulans. Hopefully Elnor stays grounded with Picard. Hopefully Laris and Zhaban
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.

Those are good questions, and we can't really address them because we don't know. All we know is a meeting that occurred off-camera caused Picard to feel so strongly about it that he said "this is not my Starfleet" and threatened to quit. This was the same Picard as we saw in Insurrection, so clearly something bugged him enough to do that. Or at least that's what I'm gathering. The message here seems to be something like that even if they were acting poorly he should have stayed in the organization if nothing else to be a voice of reason at the table. But whatever decision they made it seems they're portraying it as throwing all of the Romulans under the bus. Let's face it: talking about whether Geordi could have helped is a bit beside the point, in that what they're clearly going for here is a refugee analogy where if the big government doesn't do it then it doesn't get done. Yes, on a literal level there are perhaps many other ways to get things done, but this is the story they want to tell, and I don't think it's logical.

Regarding The Wounded vs Insurrection/FC, I suppose this is a matter of interpretation but with Insurrection we learned that a single Starfleet admiral had gone rogue, as they seemingly scrapped the script where all of Starfleet went bad. In FC it's because Picard had information Starfleet lacked that could save them. But I agree that he is shown to do the right thing even when Starfleet makes a mistake on occasion, but I feel like those occasions are exceptional. And I do personally believe that a Picardian Federation would not have prevented the Cardassian invasion planned in Chain of Command, that Captain Maxwell was trying to prevent.

But I guess this all skirts around the issue of what Captains could or could not do to help the Romulans. I don't think the writers thought as much about it as we are; they simply wrote that help for them was cancelled, and Picard had to personally choose whether to do it alone, and he didn't. I suppose a modern analogy would be whether Bill Gates could save a bunch of refugees even if the U.S. government said they could't come to America. Should Gates be hiding in obscurity over the shame of not having done so? Maybe, I guess. We could always argue that rich or powerful people *could* be out there risking it all to get refugees somewhere safe. And this isn't even an outrageous argument, but it's a different matter for it to be an open and shut case that he was WRONG and should be ashamed.
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Richard James
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:57am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

It's moving in the right direction, but still bogged down by slow movements to an end goal, rather than telling individual stories.

The Seven of Nine plot worked the best and that opening scene was pretty horrific. Jeri Ryan's has such screen presence and her character is just a million times more interesting than others, especially with her new viligante background. The poor man's oceans 11 scene on Freecloud a were a little pointless, but fun enough.

But honestly, any reservations I had for this episode melted away when Picard and Seven had that brief exchange on the transporter pad;
"Did you honestly feel you regained your humanity?"
"Yes"
"All of it?"
"No. But we're both working on it, arent we"
"Every damn day of my life"

More like this please!
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Burke
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Also: Seven becoming a vigilante makes more sense than becoming Mrs. Chakote. Just sayin'.
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Walrus1701D
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:44am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Deja Q

I love the journey taken by Q in this episode, even if it is rendered meaningless by the end when he's given back his powers. His condescending one-liners and continual mocking of the Enterprise crew through the first two-thirds of the episode make total sense. He's always considered humans beneath him. But a deep and wonderful transformation takes place in the last third. He's a broken man and while that has not caused anyone around him to lose their contempt for him, his pain is palpable and understandable.

Throughout the series, John de Lancie always handled both comedy and drama brilliantly, but this stands out as unique among all his other performances. The comedy is self-defeating and somewhat tragic, while the drama is much more personal than Q's usual menacing, grandiose characterizations.

In a story sense, it's unusual that Q suddenly has no security detail when he confesses to Picard in the Ready Room, nor when he talks to a recovering Data in Sickbay, but from a dramatic sense, these two scenes need a one-on-one dynamic, and of course, de Lancie pulls off both scenes flawlessly. This Q is more interesting and three-dimensional than he is in any other episode (including his appearances on DS9 and Voyager). Bravo to de Lancie and the writers!
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Burke
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:41am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I'll just say this:

No scenes at the artifact, no Soji, no romulan brothers, and the best episode so far.

A coincidence, this is not.
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Trent
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I thought this was the worst episode thus far.

Here we open with yet another lazy flashback. 7of9 is attempting to save Icheb - a young character from "Voyager" - from a sinister organ harvester. She fails and mercy kills him instead. Like the last episode did to Picard, this new character is revealed to be a kind of foster son. 7of9 is herself revealed to be not the 7of9 Captain Janeway took under her wing and nurtured into something poised and composed, but an unhinged gunslinger, a sassy momma bear ("What the hell do you want, Picard?") bent on bloodlust and revenge. It feels like character assassination.

The show's insistence that 7of9 has spent the past two decades kicking ass in the beta quadrant, shooting smugglers, pirates and creeps like a Wild West Sheriff (she's literally a member of the Space Rangers!), is equally silly and mean-spirited.

Of course Star Trek always had a certain "horse opera" aspect to it, but hampered by budget restraints, past Trek tended to avoid boring literalism and/or plagerism. Today, as these limitations wither, a certain amount of mystique and imagination goes with it.

Picard and the gang then arrive in orbit over Free Cloud. Apparently, in the future, malware and commercial advertisements are powerful enough to override a ship's bridge holoprojectors. This is ridiculous.

Once on planet, the tropes come harder and faster. The planet looks like a cross between Kubrick's "AI", "BladeRunner", "Tron Legacy" and "Serenity". The plot henceforth follows the usual heist-movie-cliches, our wisecracking heroes dressing up and trading jibes while flashbacks delineate how and when things need to go down (in order for them to "rescue" Bruce Maddox from gangsters). That their plan merely involves tricking an alien's nose with space perfume, is a huge anti-climax.

Picard's "comical French rascal!" accent during these scenes is itself embarrassing. Here a series that wants to be solemn and serious has taken a break to offer a "fun" and "funny" "romp" of an episode, whilst simultaneously not realizing how grim and bloodthirsty the episode actually is. Shades of "Discovery's" overrated and tonally incompetent "Magic to Make the Sanest Man go Mad", where mass murder and whale headshots are played for laughs.

From low-rent "Mission Impossible"/"Firefly"/"Ocean's Eleven" we segue into "Dirty Harry". 7of9 transforms into a bloody killer, gunning down villains and henchmen in the name of avenging a character we barely know and don't care about. She then exits the show as quickly as she entered, another of Kurtzman's cynically concocted cameos.

But two walk-ons/walk-offs isn't enough. For this episode features Raffi - in her first piece of great acting in the show - meeting her long lost son and pregnant wife, confessing her love for them, and then getting rejected for being a druggie! Who cares about these people?

Continuing it, and "Discovery's", trend of piling unnecessary crap upon unnecessary crap, of introducing things only to immediately jettison them, the show ends with Maddox being acquired and then promptly being attacked (murdered?) by sleeper-cell Jurati/Ash. Shocking! Edgy! Gripping!

Aside from a few of Picard's righteous monologues, this series has been poorly written. Like each of "Discovery's" seasons, "Picard" opened with promise and cool ideas, but quickly revealed itself to be generic, tropey, hacky, and awash with bad melodrama. Like "Discovery", it seems hell-bent on ignoring or avoiding all the actually interesting ideas, philosophical and political topics it touches upon.

Each of its scripts has also been unbalanced, with arbitrary detours and unnecessary plot threads. Things which need space and weight are not given room to breath or develop. Things which should not exist are dwelt upon and given backstories. Endings are almost exclusively designed to shock, titillate and then be thrown away. Characters are introduced - never with skill or grace - only to be jettisoned, again without skill or grace.

This fragmented style of writing developed on TV soaps, and is today mostly the product of modern television financing and distribution, art now fully dictated by Borg algorithms, conveyor belts and moneymen. I wouldn't be surprised if this series eventually dove-tails into "Discovery's" third season. That kind of incestuous plotting and cross-pollinating is how Marvel and DC comics stayed alive and "spiced things up" in the 1970s and early 1980s. And "Picard", produced by a guy whose stated aim is to "turn Trek into Marvel", is obviously becoming more and more like "Discovery" as it goes ahead.
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Jason R.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Peter the Wounded is a bad example because Picard's decision to go against Maxwell was about saving lives and preventing a war. He didn't just turn a blind eye to Cardassian duplicity for the sake of following rules.

His actions in First Contact and Insurrection alone show he would disobey direct orders if the cause was just and lives were at stake.

I am not even sure he would need to have gone "pirate" to do what I suggested. Heck in TNG if the Enterprise just stumbled on this kind of situation with a ship or a planet there is no reason to believe Picard as a Captain (to say nothing of an Admiral) could not have just started evacuating people, subject to the Prime Directive.

You are assuming Starfleet ordered him expressly to do nothing but that is not what we were told. They simply cancelled the official mass evacuation and refused to gather more resources to that end. There is no indication that he was under express orders not to engage in any evacuation. Like if Captain Laforge is out doing a stellar survey mapping a nebula or something, Starfleet would forbid him from flying over to Romulus and picking up a few thousand refugees to get them out of the path of a Supernova??
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Booming
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

It's going against Borg so bringing a sharp something is maybe not a bad idea. I guess a machine gun would be even more effective against Borg. Hmmm
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.,

"So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested."

If you mean off-the-books power, then sure, Picard had it. What I meant was that sticking within Starfleet rules he'd have had no power. But yes, he could have pulled a Kirk and just done whatever he wanted anyhow, stealing/using ships and crew who he'd knew would follow him. But it would have definitely been against Starfleet wishes, as they had definitively ruled against doing this. That would essentially be mass piracy then, though, which granted he could have done if the refugee situation was more important than any other consideration. But remember that Picard was the champion of doing things within the rules. My favorite example of this was Captain Maxwell in The Wounded, where the Cardassians were *clearly* violating the treaty and building up, and Picard could not accept doing anything outside of the treaty terms. This would come up later in Chain of Command, and it has always been my contention that Picard would never have done what Jellico did in mining the nebula. I believe it took a certain kind of Captain to not care about treaty terms or diplomacy and to just "get it done." I think Picard would have shied away from that, just as I think it's logical that he would shy away from going renegade to gather a refugee-saving force. That's just not who he was, not his values. Walking away may seem lousy, I guess, but I think being a pirate would have offended his values even more. And this has always been Section 31's point: standing by absolute values is no good when messy work is required. Picard would disagree (as Bashir did), and that's why you need more than one kind of Captain out there.

And this brings up the main question: where were all the other Captains during thing? No conscientious objectors? Picard is the only good man in Starfleet, the rest are cronies? This is really what they're giving off here, and I don't like it. Their fundamental premise is that Picard and Picard alone could save the Romulans, because the rest of the Federation I guess is morally corrupt. And this is to say nothing of what is supposed to be a civilian oversight of Starfleet. Should I really believe the Vulcans did nothing to try to save the Romulans? They don't answer to Starfleet Command. Anyhow the whole situation as it's painted is silly, so it's almost not even possible to get into whether or not Picard did the right thing. How do we address a dilemma that occurs in a nonsensical scenario: the whole good of the universe rests on Picard's shoulders, should he go rogue to save it or just quit to uphold his principles? It's not a good question on a basic level. There might have been a good question to ask about him, but this wasn't it.
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Jason R.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:52am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Peter on the topic of space battles let me say I haven't been able to even follow them in any Trek production since Nemesis.

This issue has been plaguing me with these shows. Like I literally didn't even know what I was watching in the Battle of the Binary Stars to use a recent example. I couldn't even figure out what ships were Klingon and what ships were starfleet. I was just lost during every CGI shot trying to guess what was happening, who was destroying who, which way the battle was going.

This latest battle was not confusing in the sense that I did know who was firing at who (there were only three ships after all) but I still got this muddy grey blurriness that made it hard to understand what I was seeing. The battle didn't make any visual sense or convey anything to me. I might as well have been watching some screensaver or CGI demo.

I am not sure if this is really a storytelling problem, an effects problem or both.

On the topic of Picard being blamed for what happened after his resignation, I will agree that the hate he is receiving in these episodes is just over the top and unjustified.

But if I were to explain it in a far better way than the show has done, I'd say this. We have seen throughout Trek that Starfleet Admirals are like mini emperors in the kind of personal authority and resources they have at their disposal. And Picard would have presumably been one of the most influential.

Even the Enterprise D alone could have transported 10,000 people or something as the Galaxy Class ships were huge. Someone like Picard, we have to presume, could have marshalled multiple ships just on his own personal authority without even needing Starfleet's approval. He could have picked up the phone and called in Captain Geordi, Captain Beverly, Admiral Riker and who knows how many others and evacuated 100,000 refugees probably!

I said before he should have crawled back to Starfleet and gotten reinstated - but even without being reinstated, do we honestly believe he could not have just beamed back to his ship and his crew would not have followed him? He's Jean Luc Picard!

So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested.

For Picard to have just quit Starfleet and retired was a huge moral failure on his part. He should feel guilty for that.

Now would the Picard we knew have just given up? That is a stretch and something that would require a big leap from what we saw before. Meanwhile, it still doesn't come close to explaining the hatred he has been getting from Romulan refugees that he personally did save!

I do feel there is a good story buried under alot of rubbish. I feel like with just some simple changes this could have been alot more compelling. As of right now though, the story is a bit of a mess.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:39am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Don't have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to give my two cents in.

I liked it, but I didn't think it was better than last week's episode. I thought it was - in most ways - a step back.

The episode was well shot, acted, and plotted, but the really clunky infodumps of the first three episodes reappeared (like Picard's initial dialogue with Seven). Worse, this episode had a lot of corny overly-broad melodrama. The characters didn't actually act like real human beings would across most of the episode, which was disappointing after the much more natural flow of dialogue last week.

At the same time, there was no glacial borg cube scenes this week, which was a welcome respite. I wish I could have said the same last week. Thus even though the main plot was a lot weaker, the lack of the tedious "B plot" made the episode of roughly equal quality.

I still think Rios could be a hologram, though if he is, Raffi is "in on it." That device that Raffi handed him could have really been a mobile emitter. Notice Seven stole it before she left? This will be important later on.

2.5 stars. Meh.
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Andrew
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@Peter G.

"For instance, Picard needs a bodyguard why?"

I had the same thought, but it kind of makes sense when you think about the Zhat Vash attacks he's been through and witnessed in the previous episodes.
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Tim C
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:03am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Damn. They were obviously going for shock value with that opening flashback, but it sure worked on me! (Cue the "oh gosh, that isn't Star Trek" crowd...)

"Fridging" Icheb is a cheap way to give Seven her new, even harder edge. That said, cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad or ineffective. I totally buy it, and Icheb was never that interesting a character that I'm going to mourn his loss. I wonder if the writers are coming for Naomi Wildman next...

Icheb isn't the only minor character to meet the executioner: on the non-Seven side of things, Maddox is introduced and summarily dismissed, and Jurati's double-agent status is confirmed way earlier than I thought it would be. And it looks like we're getting to the cube next week! After four episodes of setup, they're sure wasting no time knocking the dominos over.

As far as chapters of a novel go, this one is my favourite so far. The Trek universe feels bigger than it ever has, with all kinds of unexplored corners and institutions. And no pointless Soji/Narek/Rizzo scenes, either. Nice!
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KMC
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 6:06am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

Boring as hell. Season 5 is all over the place.
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