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Yanks
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Rift Aview,

But, but, ... Michael said...

"No. We will not take shortcuts on the path to righteousness."

lol
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Rift Aview
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 5:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Josh - there is a clear difference between the liberalism of TNG, which was rooted in 18th century Empiricism (individual responsibility, individual freedom, the importance of logical and rational thinking) and the "liberalism" that typifies STD (no-one is accountable for their actions it's "society" that made you do it, no-one is an individual instead they're part of identity groups, emotion and how you "feel" trumps logic every time).

This gets right at the heart of why STD is so disliked. Barring a few exceptions - who are often played for laughs - the characters in it are completely antithetical to the values of the Starfleet that we used to know. If this was a show about Romulans and the Romulan Empire it would be fantastic - emotional, ruthless people obsessed with inter personal drama and war with no care for the actual wonders of the Universe, taking part in a (well written and cinematic) drama - but it pretends to be about the Federation, so it's terrible.
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Bruce Brunger
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Funny how when the bridge scene view switched from facial shots of Chekov and Sulu at the helm, then switched to the over-the-shoulder view from the perspective of the Captain’s chair looking to the main viewscreen, we see that Chekov has been replaced by other stand-in actors several times....obvious reuse of other stock footage
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Bruce Brunger
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

One of the key characters is called “Masaka” — In Japanese the word “masaka” has one meaning of “nonsense” — given the nonsensical jigsaw-like reveal of the characters as the story progresses, it seems fitting...I wonder if the writers of this episode had knowledge of Japanese language?
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

Put me firmly in the anti-Jellico camp. I do think he's a great character, he's just a bad person. I'm totally with Riker in telling him off, he's little more than a posturing alpha dog. I never even realized until recently that his strict formality of command while also calling officers by their first name is yet another way to belittle them.

All this doesn't excuse Riker's behavior. Regarding the shift rotation, yes he should've just done it. Granted he wasn't given a direct order, Jellico just said "I'd like to change that to four starting tonight," and Riker was just about to explain the situation, but Jellico beat him to the punch and then went all "I'm the captain" on him. I don't see any real problem with changing the shift rotation from three to four, assuming they have the staff available to fill out the extra slot (maybe they don't?), but doing so in such a hurried manner is going to wipe out any benefits that come from having shorter shifts. After all, if it takes weeks for people to recover from the daylight saving time change, imagine what this would do. Jellico seems to be sabotaging his own goals just to leave his footprint on the ship. I also don't buy that the Enterprise needed a major shakeup. De-prioritizing scientific endeavors is one thing, but just because Jellico says things are too comfortable or "not good enough" that doesn't mean it's true. He may believe it's true, but it's just more of him being domineering.

I wonder how many of the pro-Jellico people who consider the crew to be whiny pedants have ever had a boss, teacher, or even CO like Jellico. He had so many opportunities to smooth over his orders and he didn't take a single one. "Then you'd better get to it, Geordi. Looks like you have some work to do," is such an overtly condescending statement that would push many people, myself included, to the point of "f--- you, I'm done, bye." A simple "I know this is difficult, but we have to work together and make do with what we can" is so much better, even if it is just lip service, than, "haha sucks to be you, get it done."

I'd like to steal a quote from Saito S at the Trek BBS that illustrates how Jellico is not being reasonable:

"Later, Geordi complains to Riker about what Jelico expects of him. Not only has he been told to realign the warp coils in two days (a previous scene established that this task alone was pushing the envelope of what was doable and would require the entire Engineering staff to work overtime), but ON TOP of that, he has to juggle all of his duty rosters due to the shift changes and 'completely reroute half the power systems on this ship'. And then, after being given a list of tasks that would push his department to its limits as it is with the time allotted and personnel available, he loses a third of his staff because Jelico has transferred them to security! LaForge specifically says he doesn't mind changes and doesn't mind hard work, but he isn't being given the time and personnel necessary to effect the changes or do the work. That attitude is entirely reasonable, and we can rely on Geordi's assessment of the situation regarding his department as being generally correct - after all, he's been established through 4+ years of TNG at this point to be an extremely competent chief engineer. Some - certainly not all, but some - of Jelico's demands were unreasonable, because some of them went beyond simply being hard or changing their routine, and were well into 'you're nearly asking the impossible here' territory. That's what LaForge is telling Riker, and that's what that scene is telling us. Jelico can hardly be held blameless for the troubles that went on during this episode. "

Again, if he really wants to be ready for battle, all of this needless change and antagonizing only serves to throw the crew off-balance. Are those engineers really going to be effective security officers? If they are, what's their purpose anyway? Are they expecting to be boarded? Even if Jellico was the nicest captain ever, all this would still lead to the crew not functioning at their best, putting the mission in jeopardy.

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Peter G.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

Their mistake was in wanting the Ferengi episodes to be funny, and wanting them to be caricatures of capitalism, and not knowing how to integrate those. They tried to do it commedia style where the known archetypes are overblown and clowned up, but it doesn't work because in order for that to be funny you have to have contrasting types that make up a society. For anyone who knows commedia at all, you can't have a show that's just a bunch of pantalones and no lovers or anyone else. You need a variety of archetypes to bounce off each other; but since the Ferengi are all supposedly the same in values there's nothing to play off of.

And it's not funny. I think we mostly covered that part.

Without integrating the comedy with the critique, and without having a clear idea of what is being critiques, we ended up with a grab bag of random silliness but no comic 'concept' to guide it. It's basically a mess that you'll enjoy if you like silliness but it amounts to little in storytelling. I like Magnificent Ferengi, parts of Family Business, and Treachery... but several of them, and certainly several parts of them of them, are not worth that much.
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Iceman
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

"For me—and I will eventually synthesise this idea with citations when we get to later episodes—the failure stems from the fact that the writers wanted to critique materialism/greed without indicting the system (capitalism/neoliberalism) which perpetuates those foibles. The result is their attempts to throw in “grey areas” into cultures which are *designed* to be allegorical create a confusing mess."

To be honest, I'm not so sure that they did want to critique it. In "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", it seems that some Ferengi have achieved the academic ideal of capitalism. In the episode, everyone gets what they want. It's more likely to me that they wanted to redeem an irredeemably awful species (when I say awful, I mean they didn't work as villains), not make anti-capitalist statements (They probably aren't anti-capitalist. As I said previously, Ron Moore laughed at the idea of a money-less society. If you need entertainment that precisely aligns with your worldview, I'm afraid you won't be able to watch much. Socialists are a tiny fringe minority, and Bernie Sanders is considered a radical here in the States). In my opinion, the writers succeeded with Quark, Rom, and Nog, and they failed with Ferengi society as a whole, "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" excepted. It seems like your issue with them is more an ideological disagreement with the writers. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you on that front, but I agree more with Jammer-for the most part, Ferengi just aren't funny, interesting, or entertaining to watch in the slightest, and that's their biggest problem.
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Lupe
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Virtuoso

The other day I stumbled across an episode of 'My Favorite Martian' on TV, for what must have been the first time since I was a kid. Martin, for somereason had become a folk singing sensation. Rather than being reminded of Boothby, I was instantly reminded of Robert Picardo (in this, and especially the ep where he daydreams hypo-spraying Tuvok while singing Verdi). It was so uncanny I was convinced Picardo must have had Ray Wakston's character partly in mind.
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Elliott
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

@Michael

You don’t stop. That’s the advantage of having close to 800 episodes of Star Trek; you can talk about a lot.
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GordGordie
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: The Void

Why can't reviewers of Voyager remember that replicators are alpha quadrant/Federation technology? It's a huge bargaining chip and resource in a situation like this and many others that show up in Voyager
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Michael
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

Elliott -

And if they had critiqued the system in the episode, then someone would have complained that they should have critiqued the causes of the system, namely the kind of thinking which led to its establishment. Where do you stop?
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Elliott
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

For me—and I will eventually synthesise this idea with citations when we get to later episodes—the failure stems from the fact that the writers wanted to critique materialism/greed without indicting the system (capitalism/neoliberalism) which perpetuates those foibles. The result is their attempts to throw in “grey areas” into cultures which are *designed* to be allegorical create a confusing mess.
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Peter G.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

If I were going to (charitably) look for a coherent theme that the Ferengi episodes illustrate, it would be something along the lines that William B suggested, in the realm of "what are we supposed to learn from them". In their case it seems like this episode in particular shows how much their culture is in a conflict of interests as a result of their economic system. Ferengi actually *do* enjoy having loving parents, even if they later learn that their father was a business failure. But everything in their culture trains them to only value success and money. So obviously this is a commentary on America in particular, but on any place with a materialist ethic. You end up publicly lauding some things even though it actually makes you your own enemy, and being their own enemy seems like the most important trait the Ferengi have. All the things they're supposed to like basically make the 'human' in them miserable, and avarice becomes the only pleasure left. It's the same building but different department from Cardassia, where they too are their own worst enemy.
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William B
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

@Elliott, Chrome:

I wonder if some of the issue is that Ferengi society is more divided than the front they put on. If we take Quark as an example, Quark has all kinds of altruistic impulses, many of which are compatible with his profit-seeking, and many of which run directly contrary to it, and so he has to deny them entirely. If Ferengi society is similar, then it may be that the profit-seeking stuff plays the function of a kind of extreme culture/religious devotion, where really most people aren't very devout, and even the Inquisitors like Brunt know that, but it's important to them to keep Ferengi society functioning by requiring all these public displays (the tithing at entering places, etc.). And certainly, as with any belief which is narrower than the confines of the human (or, in this case, Ferengi) condition, people will start to break out from it and have to be reined into the orthodoxy. Bert Cooper, Mad Men's Objectivist, had loyalty to his friends. The purpose of the FCA in that case is not to regulate the economy but to ensure outward compliance with the society's values.

The other thing about the FCA is that I think that Ferenginar is to some extent run as a kind of large conglomerate, with the Nagus as CEO -- the inevitable endpoint where Disnamazoogle take over everything. And at that point, bureaucracy will be necessary; big companies still have their own administration to "regulate" ("keep on task" etc.) their huge infrastructure. However, the Ferengi still want to have a kind of small business personal profit model of their society and so pretend they have more financial independence than they do, maybe? It's hard to parse.

It's possible then that people will take care of their family members even after they are no longer "contributing" is a sop to compassion, which would not be possible to stably eliminate on a societal level, and that the requirement to meet Ferengi society guidelines is then that "useless" family members be hidden away. That Ferengi have some sort of innate acquisitiveness seems also to be true, which is why it makes sense for Ishka to want to play the game of getting money, but even she is fonder of Rom than of Quark, because she loves sweetness more than she loves profit-seeking.

This is a point that Trek comes back to with a lot of the hat races. Klingons profess honour but there is all kinds of personal nonsense and backstabbing. Garak as our Cardassian representative *wants* to be Tain, but he isn't, and we also find that a lot of what motivates the worst Cardassians (Madred, Tain, Dukat) are personal weaknesses and shames. Vulcans tried to keep their whole pon farr thing secret during the TOS era and are still cagey about it in the Voyager era. The Bajorans' faith is, I know, not really unpacked to your (or my) satisfaction but through Winn at least there is the suggestion that it can serve as a fig leaf for all kinds of authoritarian control-bids. It's not that Klingons *don't* value (and demonstrate) "honour" (courage, glory-seeking), Vulcans logic, Cardassians militaristic control, Bajorans religious faith, etc. than humans do, but they still are human analogues to an extent and so their suppressed opposite always pops up. It makes a certain amount of sense that the Ferengi are more ruthless capitalists than most, but still have private inclinations that go against that, and that they have to have their own Brunts to force them back in line to maintain the illusion of total fealty.

Why they absolutely need "greed" as their organizing principle is maybe the real question the show needs to ask and doesn't do that much to answer, even with Quark himself. With most of the other races, we have some sense of what they are covering. Vulcans need logic because without it they are animalistic and out of control. Cardassians need their expansionistic military because without it they are worried they will be naked and afraid. What is it that Ferengi fear? I think with Quark, it probably is to some extent that he fears that he'll be Rom -- or, more to the point, his father -- if he stops acquiring, but it's sort of a circular argument, because his father and Rom are viewed as worthless because their society undervalues them. Mirror Quark maybe gives a clue -- during the Occupation, for example, for Quark to be too brazen in sticking his neck out for the Bajorans or for proto-dissident Cardassians like Natima could get him killed, just as mirror Quark gets killed. And this does come up in season six when the Occupation comes up again but with the Dominion in tow this time. Even Quark's (in?)famous The Siege of AR-558 speech might help with this: he believes that hew-mons' root beer personas are only skin deep, and that they will turn on anyone, including him, if things get bad enough, that not only can he not rely on anyone but himself, but that to pretend otherwise would be tremendous folly which would open him up to all sorts of horrors.

Ferenginar is a place where it never stops raining and they can never see the Sun; maybe it requires a constant reminder that everyone is out for themselves, end of story, to stop them from wallowing in planetary misery.
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Iceman
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

It's interesting reading both Elliott and Luke's takes on the episode. It seems that the one constant in the Trek fandom, regardless of political ideology, is that the Ferengi are horrible.
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Elliott
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

I meant to say as well that my concern is less worth depicting interracial couples per s...per s[ėê]...more that it’s a problem in media that black women (and Asian men) are rarely depicted as desirable unless it’s to the same race. It’s a complicated issue.
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Elliott
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 11:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

Hi Chrome

The first time I watched DS9, I tuned out most of the Ferengi plot because I found it tedious, but I’m looking forward (sort of) to watching how it all plays out with a critical eye.

Regarding the spelling of sæ/sae/se, I learned the very old fashion way as a kid, with the ligature. I realise that most people use the updated version now, but old habits die hard.
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Chrome
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

@Elliott

“The few times there were black women portrayed as potential love-interests on TNG, they were always for Geordi or Worf.”

True, but on the other hand these two (black) actors were almost always coupled with white actresses. This, in addition to Miles-Keiko originating on TNG, makes me believe that TNG was at least aware and consciously trying to include interracial couples. I do agree with what you’re saying in regards to DS9, that except in the rare instance Sisko and Jake are always with black women. My theory, partially based on the chemistry you described with actors, is that Brooks and Lofton were more comfortable with women of the same race. Dorn is of course a different story.

“Moogie and Quark are seated together and she explains to her son that the two of them are alike, that Rom and their father never had “the lobes” and that she loves him. In a vacuum, this is an effective scene”

I agree this scene works in a vacuum but I don’t think the arc they’re building with Quark here ever works out. We’re constantly reminded that Quark is good at business and Rom is good at non-Ferengi things, but this only culiminates in (spoiler) Rom defying all logic and becoming the Grand Nagus. How this all compares to raw capitalism is, like you say, anyone’s guess.

Oh Elliott - one small thing I wanted to mention since I keeping seeing it. Unless I’m missing some alternate spelling that exists in parts, the latin is “per se” not “per sae”. Sorry to even bring it up; It’s a small gnit in otherwise really entertaining reviews.
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Startrekwatcher
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 5:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Reunion

2.5 stars

Not really excited or really drawn in to this episode. I much prefer Sins of the Father or Redemption to this

Just fell flat. Never a fan of the Kehlehr character or the Worf romance angle. I’d eventual go on to like Alexander but didn’t do much for me here. I also thought Picard was a little crusty in his attitude from way he treated Worf to his attitude with Kmpec.

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Elliott
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Family Business

Teaser : **.5, 5%

Ben is making a meal for him and his son, singing to himself. Jake immediately picks up the thread from “Explorers” in reminding his father about that freighter captain he wants him to meet, Claire Finn.

Quark's is bustling—I guess the station's economy has improved since, erm...the Dominion obliterated an enormous fleet full of the best covert agents in the quadrant. Yeah. Anyway, Quark is bitching to Rom about Nog's slow drift towards humOnism in his preparation to join Starfleet. His little FOXNews rant is interrupted by the arrival of Jeffrey Combs, now playing Blunt, or whatever, who is from the Ferengi Commerce Association. He pins a pamphlet of some sort to the door and Rom evacuates the bar.

Act 1 : **.5, 18%

First question: as the embodiment of unfettered capitalism, why do the Ferengi have a regulating body like the FCA? Ask any Objectivist: red tape is bad for business. This would be like learning that Gowron has set up anger management courses for the High Council or that they have a Burning Man festival on Vulcan. Sigh...anyway, Blunt, a liquidator, is here to evaluate Quark's business. Blunt warns Quark that he had better not be concealing profits from the IRS, I mean the FCA, because that would be a serious breach of Ferengi law. Laws which encourage lying, greed and deceit as a ground state for the culture. Yeah. Quark tries to weasel out of his deceit by blaming Rom for concealing the profits from the Tullaberry wine franchise. This would be the franchise set up between the Nagus and the Dominion, last referenced in “The Search.” Uh-huh...so 1. how in the actual fuck are the Ferengi still doing business with the Dominion? True they'd have no scruples about it, but it seems ludicrously dangerous for a business that apparently doesn't turn over enough profit to lift Quark out of his relative poverty, and 2. how would Blunt not know about a business set up by the Nagus himself? Oh, but it's a callback, so DS9 = good show.

Quark is being charged with the violation of a by-law; his mother has been accused of criminal activity—something which annoys but doesn't surprise Quark—and in a bizarre combination of Klingon and and Kazon cultural/legal norms, Quark, her closest and most financially-successful male relative, is responsible for her actions. To the horror of all present, Suzy Orman or whatever her name is has been charged with earning profit...with a vagina! The audacity.

In a surprising scene, Quark asks Odo to look after his belongings and thieving brother while he sorts things out on Ferenginar. What's surprising is that, while we get a little bit of the typical venom, Quark is pretty forthright with Odo about his family worries, and Odo is oddly sympathetic, deigning not only to listen to Quark's troubles, but he doesn't even make a cruel joke at his expense. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Sisko tells Kira to have O'Brien rename their new runabout the “Rubicon,” because he likes really ironic names. “Sisko” is actually Old French for “peace-weaver.” Dax is being her typical nosy self, asking after Claire—I mean Kasidy Yates. Dax and Jake are conspiring to get them together now, Dax even admitting that :

DAX: If I were Curzon, I'd have stolen her from you by now.

I'm going to be generous and assume this means that Jadzia isn't quite the slut that Curzon was (although there's ample evidence to the contrary...no judgement, to be clear. Being a slut is perfectly fine), and not because she has lady parts now.

Rom decides he's going to join his brother, over the latter's objections. Apparently, Rom is the golden child and Quark is the disappointment, reigniting some childhood frictions.

Act 2 : *.5, 18%

On Ferenginar where it always rains, the brothers and Blunt arrive at their childhood home. As has been commented on already, everything about this trip serves to double down on the monocultural elements of the Ferengi. Now, as I have said before, Star Trek is allegorical and we are meant to see elements of ourselves in the alien cultures depicted on the screen. The Klingons borrow elements from the Soviets, from the Japanese and from the Vikings. And the Ferengi, as Data made very clear, are Yankee traders, displaying “the worst quality of capitalists.” Okay. As someone who thinks capitalism, especially in its current Neoliberal expression, is a blight upon the earth, I think the Ferengi are pretty much useless as an allegory. When they were turned into a joke species in TNG's third or sixth season depending on your view, the exaggerations employed to broadcast FERENGI ARE GREEDY CAPITALISTS became just something to laugh at. We can't comment on the evils of capitalism or mention potential counterarguments about its good aspects when the whole thing is a big joke. We are not meant to want to emulate the Klingons, but their culture is at least respectable and somewhat coherent. They live according to a value system that is problematic, but they come to it honestly, and so, when we encounter Klingons, we can have a genuine debate about the pros and cons of their society before we conclude that it's wrong. Not so with the Ferengi.

Well. Suzy makes her appearance, scandalising the Ferengi dudes by wearing clothing and addressing Blunt directly. Okay, let's address this issue: “The Last Outpost” also established that Ferengi females are not permitted clothing. And why? Because they're nothing more than sexual chattel. The implications of that were quite clear. If we want to extrapolate on Ferengi society then...I'm sorry, but the Ferengi would almost certainly dispose of their females once they ceased being fertile. Of what possible economic value are widows and spinsters who are legally required to produce nothing and just sit around consuming oxygen and resources? At the very least, older women would be enslaved to do menial labour. You can't have a culture so cartoonishly capitalistic that one has to tithe upon entering a home like it's a damned baptismal font, or have people cut up into little wafers and sold after they die if you aren't going to follow through on the implications of that depiction. The only reason for Suzy to be allowed to live the way she does, doing nothing but consume, is if the Ferengi have room in their culture for non-transactional relationships. And if that's the case, then the absurdities we see in the way they behave the rest of the time cannot be justified in-universe. Anyway, Quark demands his mother make the confession, but she refuses.

On DS9, Bashir and O'Brien are trying to break into the bar to retrieve their dartboard, because, god forbid these two should retain some dignity this week. Odo rightly asks why they can't replicate a new one, and O'Brien petulantly responds that they want *their* dartboard. Uh-huh. Did you not replicate the first one? Are you two really this fucking petty, not to mention, since when are *humans* so concerned about personal property? Sigh....this bullshit meanders along until Sisko enters the scene so I can bury my face in my hands over how embarrassing this all is. Looks like EVERYBODY's in on the gag to get Sisko laid. Great. So we're doing “Captain's Holiday” again?

On Planet Contradiction, we get a little character development for our cartoons. Suzy has always been subversive of Ferengi traditions, refusing to chew her sons' food for them, for example. I'm having a really hard time here because, while the episode is ostensibly trying to depict a criticism of Ferengi values, what the writers are really doing is embracing one of the fundamental tools of Neoliberal ideology. The patriarchy, they posit, isn't an *extension* of a culture consumed with greed and avarice, it is a *perversion* of it. Please. The subjugation of women throughout human history is directly related to exploitative economics. Women have always provided *free* labour in that work which was assigned to them as a duty of their gender, like the alluded-to preparation of food. If you trace the history of feminism, it is tightly knit to the labour-struggle and the fight against the ruling class. And this is one of those things at which Neoliberalism excels: take an inherently anti-capitalist movement, like challenging the patriarchy, and commodify it so that it is no threat to the system whatsoever. Think of Che Guevara T-shirts sold at novelty shoppes, or celebrating the promotion of women to high-paid CEO positions over incredibly unjust and anti-woman companies like Sheryl Sandberg. Think... Hillary Clinton.

The Quark clan sit down to a meal prepared by Rom, punctuated by uncomfortable arguing and mugging cheesily for the camera. Try as Armin Shimmerman might, the writers cannot seem, for even a moment, to relinquish the culture-as-joke paradigm that this species has become. At one point, Quark is sincerely begging his mother to relent for the sake of the family's reputation, almost in tears, but the dialogue always reminds us that it's about making sure that he can do business with other Ferengi. It's all farce. So lines like:

QUARK: You're a selfish female who never cared about this family, about Father, or about me.

ring hollow.

Act 3 : *, 18%

Moogie Suzy takes her clothes off to make Rom feel more comfortable. You know...if we took out the painfully obvious reversal going on here, a human nudist who insisted that the freedom to be naked was an assertion of her female power in flagrant disregard for the patriarchy...if this strong character decided, for her grown-us idiot son's sake, to put a robe on in her own god-damned house, I wouldn't find this endearing. This would demonstrate that 1. her principles don't mean a whole hell of a lot if she's willing to compromise them just so Rom doesn't have to feel icky and 2. this family is in serious need of therapy. To say that Rom is in a state of arrested development is like saying Ferengi's ears are their penises; it's obvious, it's disturbing, and it needs to stop. Again...Rom getting his head that close to his mother's vagina is not the issue per sae, it's that she pets him like he's a five-year-old who just woke up from a bad dream. If you can stomach the ridiculous imagery in this scene, something curious emerges here—apparently Quark is extremely “generous” with his stipend to his mother. Exactly how does *that* fit in with Ferengi values?

Anyway, we finally meet Kasidy, who's very clumsily hit on by Sisko. I must say, after enduring Jennifer, Batgirl (Fenna) and mirror-Dax, Sisko is FINALLY given a romantic interest who seems like a likeable human being. That said, I need to return to a running discomfort I have in this series with regard to racialised casting. It is my opinion that the Trek producers of this time (and possibly still) are fucking cowards. Despite continuing Gene's legacy of including as much diversity as possible on the “bridge” of the series, can anyone name a time when Picard, Riker, or Wesley, the Id, Ego and Superego of the Enterprise, respectively, pursued a character who wasn't white or white-passing? Kirk banged anything that moved, green, purple, polka-dotted...and yet these guys always seemed to find the white ladies. The few times there were black women portrayed as potential love-interests on TNG, they were always for Geordi or Worf. Yeah. The one tiny, tiny exception to this legacy was in “Homeward,” where Penny Johnson herself was the one-off love interest for Worf's white human brother, something that could be shooed off the screen after that week's credits. Then we get DS9 with a black male lead, which is fantastic, writing for and acting by Brooks aside, and the one and only time he has a sexual relationship with a woman who isn't black is the one-off, telegraphed-to-be-just-meaningless-sex fling with mirror-Dax. This makes me incredibly uncomfortable—in both series—because it says, subliminally, “There's a beautiful black lady, I guess Sisko is allowed to get serious with her.” It's really fucking frustrating that this still was (is) going on decades after Uhura tore down television barriers on the inclusive sexiness of black women on TV. The saving grace here is that Kasidy and Sisko have decent chemistry and Johnson is a fine actress with an easy-going humanity to her that is most welcome.

Meanwhile, Quark discovers that his mother's indiscretions go deeper than they realised; she has built a small business empire under various male aliases—her illegal profits far exceed Quark's wealth, including all his possessions, meaning he can't possibly make amends under the terms of the FCA.

Act 4 : zero stars, 13% (very short)

Quark confronts his Moogie. Again, the attempted “progressivism” of having a lady stand up for herself and declare ownership of her profits totally ignores the socioeconomic realities that sexism, racism and capitalism are inexorably intertwined, so this little display is pretty flaccid. Well anyway, it turns out Suzy is the best businessman (pardon the term) in the family. Her deceased husband resented her for it and made sure to pass that attitude down to Quark who storms off to report her to Blunt. This leads to...(wait did Rom say “age of ascension?”)...this leads to a totally ludicrous fight between the brothers. If “Family” had a perverted counterpart, this would be it. All you have to do is listen to the score during this crap to realise that no one seemed to know what was going on here—is it supposed to be serious? funny? tragic? grotesque? Well the composer certainly didn't know, which is why we have emotionally neutral vamping underscoring this “dramatic” or “funny” or “whatever” scene. Finally, Suzy Orman breaks them up by tugging on their penis/lobes—yeah.

Act 5 : **, 18%

So Quark climbs the Tower of Commerce and pays his tithe for a chair so he can meet with Blunt. Rom follows him to the waiting room and lets him know that Suzy is willing to share her massive profits with him. This brings us right back to Chez Moogie for Quark to offer his insincere apology. It quickly emerges that Rom lied to them both to facilitate this meeting. Good one. Then we get...you know what, the Rom speech is too painful to summarise on my keyboard, so I'll skip it.

Moogie and Quark are seated together and she explains to her son that the two of them are alike, that Rom and their father never had “the lobes” and that she loves him. In a vacuum, this is an effective scene, but it is impossible to shake the context in which this is happening: she agrees to give back all the money and confess her crime for the sake of her family. Okay...so what about the Rules of Acquisition which you just lauded, lady? Which rule says, “Giving up profit for your family is good for business”?

So, Sisko and Kasidy have their first real date, coffee on the Promenade. It turns out the two share an interest in that paragon of forgotten human excellence...erm, baseball. I guess someone is going to be “sliding into home.” Anybody?

Suzy makes her naked confession through those crooked teeth. Quark bribes Blunt into keeping the issue secret. We get some clichéd “call your mother some time” dialogue, and it turns out she still has about 2/3 of her fortune hidden away. Wow. Who didn't see that coming?

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

Honestly, the most damning thing about this episode is that it's not funny, which is a pitiful irony, as the deeper issues as to why the attempted allegory falls apart are all related to the fact that the Ferengi culture is joke. For counterpoint with the failed comedy, we get incredibly tepid, clichéd and ill-advised “sweet moments” between the Ferengi that range from eye-roll-inducing to cringeworthy. What keeps it from being totally irredeemable dreck is that the performances temper the idiot scripting into something which isn't an affront to television.

The B-plot is a lot like the “Explorers.” It's inoffensive, amiably conveyed and makes sense; it's just too banal to justify occupying this much of an episode. Penny Johnson seems to bring out a more human dimension to Avery Brooks' acting, and for that reason alone, I welcome her addition to the extended cast, but her brief screentime here also showcases admirable talent and presence in its own right. I look forward to her return.

Final Score : *.5
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NoPoet
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Obsession

Kirk yet again gives the giant space salute (which resembles a 20th century middle finger) to colonists who are dying and desperately need medical supplies. Seriously, why do Starfleet keep giving him these missions? At least this time he has an actual motive, other than "Screw the plague victims, this is a NEBULA damn it, we must scan it for three days". And Kirk's motive - his traumatised obsession - is well played. However when Janeway acted the exact same way when pursuing Equinox or trying to defeat 8472, people made Youtube videos talking about what a clueless arsehole she is. It's obvious that episodes such as Obsession inspired the Voyager writers, with Chakotay and Tuvok taking the roles of McCoy and Spock. And yet nobody bemoans the TOS characters. Maybe because in Obsession, Kirk realises he was wrong, whereas Janeway never learns.

It was good to see Spock going to McCoy of all people for advice. Then again, who else could it have been? No wonder Spock is such an iconic character: TOS would still be a good show without him, but with him, there are many episodes that will still be worth watching a hundred years after they were made. And that scene led into another excellent scene between McCoy and Kirk. It's strange that in this show which callously murders or disregards human life, there is so much humanity. That again led to the confrontation where Kirk's officers try to beat logic into the head of a man driven by emotion.

TOS was more character driven than later Trek in which the characters are simply there to advance the plot. It also featured some truly alien monsters, probably more in all of TOS than in TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT combined.

Knowing that redshirts will be murdered left right and centre creates genuine threat, leading to sustained tension. There is a hostile and unfriendly feel to some of these strange new worlds. I am unhappy with the callous disregard for their lives but here we have a redshirt with a personality. He plays his part in making this episode excellent.

No sign of time travel either, hooray! Unless you count Kirk's memories as time travel.

I have my share of criticism for TOS. But I keep coming back to one question: how come the other Trek shows weren't more like TOS?
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Rahul
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Twisted

Yanks,

While I agree it's nice that the solution doesn't come down to more "technobabble and photo torpedoes" and that Tuvok's do nothing is the solution (makes sense to not apply logic since it's an illogical situation), I'd hardly call anything in this episode a blessing. Ultimately it all means too little if anything -- and if it means something, the episode doesn't even make it close to obvious. Have to agree with "Waldorf" that bad writing won the day in this turd of an episode.

What the distortion ring was doing to Voyager was beyond suspension of disbelief -- which you do need a fair bit of in watching VOY.
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NoPoet
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Assignment: Earth

Am going to watch this episode in the coming days but must point something out: this is now the fourth episode in which the crew visit 20th Century earth (or recreation thereof), and the fifth of which the crew visit Earth's history if you count the Adonias episode, THIS SEASON. And these are the pre-Braga days! My overriding impression of TOS from my youth was the lack of creativity in the setting. They were on the edge of the Final Frontier and yet it seems like even the crew of DS9 did more exploring!

The precedent for repetition was set by TOS. Brannon Braga is a one-trick pony (I heard there is no explanation of "one-trick pony" in the dictionary, it simply says "See Braga, Brannon"). But to be honest, the more I revisit TOS, the more I realise the man revered by generations, Gene Roddenberry, was like a 60s version of Braga. It's all redshirts dying, a single female character introduced who happens to be a major babe, close-ups on Shatner's face with light across his eyes and trips to old Earth.

It's ironic that the ones which avoid these cliches happen to be the absolute shining stars of the series. For example, the mind-f*** episode with Scotty being possessed. Fair enough, this also borrowed straight from Earth's past, but it took the Ripper idea and brought it forward to other worlds and other species. TOS created a living, breathing universe that we rarely see in TNG, VOY or ENT, which all focus on one ship and one crew with no consequences for 99% of their actions.

It's easy to see why TOS was so popular/influential. But it's also easy to see why it was canned after the shortest run of any live action Trek. If it had shown more creativity in its storylines and explored that optimistic future more, it might have run for longer.
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William B
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Faces

@Elliott, that makes sense, and I do something similar. I think a lot of the episode works better for me if I do interpret it as that the Torri are semi-unconsciously taking on the traits that Torres already associates with her human/Klingon half, which are to some degree positively reinforced by the actual genetic differences.
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ZITA CARNO
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

I watched that episode, and I have one comment about Janice Lester: "Homicidal maniac". And that seed was probably there from the beginning. Regardless of her motivations(?), she was ready to kill anyone and everyone who knew her deadly secret, and she would have destroyed the Enterprise to boot because she had no idea of how to pilot a starship. I would have preferred "All Our Yesterdays" as a final episode.
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