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Fenn
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Soldiers of the Empire

I am someone who generally likes the Klingon episodes, especially ones with Worf and Dax (it's not really the focus in this one, but it's always interesting to see how their respective backgrounds affect how they function in Klingon settings; it seems that Dax often fits in better than Worf does). I definitely felt the similarity to 'A Matter of Honor' here, of holding a borderline mutinous crew together through some incredibly tense situations. It doesn't do *too* much that's new in that respect, but it's still worthwhile to see a different sort of Klingon crew: low morale is a different problem to face. Less a "fish out of water" story, more about leadership in general.

It's interesting how General Martok fits into this. Both he and this crew have spent the recent past being beaten into submission by the Jem'Hadar, and it's made quite an impression on both. And yet it affects them in different ways. Some clearly spoiling for any kind of victory in a fight, even if it's with their crewmates. Some feeling as if they've already lost whatever battle they're going into. And Martok seems to have grown more timid. No doubt he's suffered enough punishment at the Jem'Hadar's hands for one lifetime.

Contrast Worf, who came out of the Dominion prison victorious -- not just in battle, but in spirit. He *does* repay what Martok did to him there, and while he doesn't win this victory himself, he plays the key role. His invitation to the House of Martok is a touching moment, and well-deserved.

(I will note, though -- near the end of the episode I was thinking "wait, they've only just resolved the power struggles, there's no time for the actual battle!" And then there wasn't. This story does enough on its own, and doesn't *have* to be about GLORIOUS KLINGON BATTLE -- we've had our fair share of that elsewhere -- but I still feel a little let down dammit.)
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Fenn
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

@Omicron: *ouch.* What a nightmare that must've been.

Checking the transcript now, and yeah, the little zapper circle is nothing in comparison. To quote Mora: "Odo, six millivolts is not going to hurt it."
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

@Fenn

"There's definitely a lot to consider in a situation like this. Odo definitely acted as a tempering influence to an extent, and I don't doubt that Mora had much nastier changeling-changer machines."

He did.

In this very episode (I just rewatched it) Odo mentions that Mora used a vacuum chamber and a protein decompiler. Yikes! It's like he had an entire torture chamber or something.
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MadBaggins
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Q2

Hate it when people show up and say things like "This is a light-hearted comedy, not SERIOUS DRAMA!" to excuse terrible writing. Comedy episodes can be just as good as the serious episodes, this one sure as FUCK wasn't.
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HC
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 7:46am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Bliss

Agreed. Solid stuff, even if the second half isn't quite as strong as the first. Seven and Naomi's relationship continues to be very sweet, especially the way Seven calls her by her full name, although it's kinda funny that Naomi has become much more of a prominent presence than her mother at this point. They don't even get a scene together at the end!
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Fenn
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 4:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Ties of Blood and Water

(Also, Kira smashing her cup on Dukat's face? Beautiful scene. I need more of that in my life.)
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Fenn
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 4:41am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Ties of Blood and Water

I wasn't expecting Ghemor to come back, and yet DS9 is exactly the kind of series in which he would. I'm grateful for that -- I loved the unlikely "found family" dynamic they built up over their one appearance together, and I'm glad to see it withstand Dukat's meddling here.

Weyoun is kind of fantastic, isn't he? You really get the impression that he's constantly holding himself back from fits of manic giggling.
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Beranek
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

I'm surprised that Jammer and a lot of others actually like the B plot with Data trying to learn (about) humor.

I first saw this episode as a teenager and, coming from Central Europe, it was pretty much I was exposed to (American-style) stand-up comedy. I thought it was quite the opposite of funny, amusing, pleasant, humorous, you name it. I hated it so much that I'd avoided anything resembling stand-up for the next 15 years, until the horrible feeling this episode gave me finally wore off and I discovered that some stand-up is actually quite nice.

So... the pretty lame plot with Mr. Charming Rogue seemed really nice to me by comparison.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Yep, I meant DIstant Voices. I mean, they both involve whispers...
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

I ALWAYS forget this happened post Odo's de-solidification. Course I always think of this episode as "the one where Odo has sex", which DOES make sense pre "The Begotten."

Presumably, because Odo has lived as a solid, the knowledge of how to replicate the "full" human body, inside and out now rests within him. Whether he chooses to replicate his organs all the time or not is a matter of debate, although I guess that would mean we might see him eat once in awhile after this. Though maybe he doesn't like the hours long digestive process. But he can probably replicate all the necessary equipment and brain impulses to enjoy intimate acts if need be.
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Another episode with shades of "Poor parenting choices"

@Peter G. I think you meant Season 3's "Distant Voices" as "Whispers" was the O'Brien's 'everything is wrong and everyone is in on it' episode.

As for revelation, it does add some wrinkles to Bashir, but I don't think it goes out of it's way to adversely change his character on it's own. Perhaps in conjunction with other events, but that's just characterization marching on I think.

What I do like is how it retroactively works too. First with the aforementioned "Distant Voices" - ehich also gives that episode some additional context that elevates it somewhat, but also with "Our Man Bashir", which Trek reviewer SFDebris analysed from a post Augment revelation point of view. Essentially "OMB" lets us the audience, and Garak, in on Bashir's fantasy. Not of being a spy, but of being able to live a life as the exceptional, superhuman he is. The fate of the world in his hands, the detail-oriented work, seeking out and playing other's weaknesses against them. AND being able to non-fatally shoot a man (Garak) in the neck with pin-point accuracy. And being able to make quick, calculated decisions on the fly. All with Garak mock it, but in reality dancing around the truth of it all and either missing it, or knowing full-damn well what it all meant to Bashir.

Honestly, even if this twist wasn't planned, I don't really have a problem given how well it can be placed upon the previous foundations laid out.
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I think in some Trek episodes it's easy to get hung up on story minutia nowadays and muddle the big point the writers were aiming for. Can't see the forest for the trees as it were. The trees in this case being "shock therapy" and "experimentation" which DO carry a lot of connotations on their own, yeah, but here is just the Trek Twist TM on the "Carrot v. Stick" or "Caring or Clinical" parental/childhood development message.

Here we've got an episode essentially arguing for moderate spanking (or even just punishment for bad behaviour) and pushing your kids, but without beating them or negleting the child's needs. It's "parenting is hard, but approach it with balance, caring and understanding, and sometimes you'll have to push your kid a bit harder than you or they'd like, but it's only to encourage their development"

Let's be honest, Odo likely would be a helicopter parent if given the chance, and his kid would never grow and become independent.

As for Mora, even though he didn't know he'd fallen into a parental role at the start, he never really fully stepped into it either, or perhaps, didn't know how. At the start he's still not fully acknowledging Odo's independence and measuring his personhood by his successes and criticising his lack or it in other places.

And given Mora's role, it's easy to see how Odo got where he did and made his choices. Always looking for belonging, but never finding it, closing himself off when around those that might give it to him. And no wonder he rejected the Founders. He felt a sense of home with them, but also saw the familiar detachment and cruelty he'd "grown up" with. And then he's tried to build that belonging, first with the abandoned Jem'Hadar, a bit with Kira, and now with this baby changling. And all failed, although, through the baby changling he was able to build a bridge back to Mora, and find, if not belonging, at least understanding between them.
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P'kard
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

It always cracks me up to see people treat Trek as this "hard sci fi" show that rests within our laws of physics and understanding. The whole point is to leave those normal constraints behind and use that freedom to explore interesting ideas. That's what this show exemplifies for me. No, it doesn't make sense but it is an INTERESTING story imo. Therefore this show is a success in my book even if it's too "cynical"??? for some.
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Chrome
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

I have reservations with this episode too, and I agree about the murkiness of what was done to Bashir. However, it does turn out to be a pretty good development for the character as we get "Statistical Probabilities" and the Section 31 material from it. Just goes to show retcons aren't always bad.
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Fenn
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

Definitely something that feels strange to have *not* been one of the solid Odo episodes. I can't help wondering, what specifically would changeling Odo get out of sex? Emotional intimacy, closeness, being able to please a partner, taking part in what's seen by many as a pretty damn fundamental part of "The Humanoid Experience"... all pretty solid (ha ha) reasons. Would he get anything out of the act itself, though?

For what it's worth, it does seem like Odo's been hoping a little more intimacy in his life, and not just Kira. That one self-help book he was reading in 'In Purgatory's Shadow'... and not to mention his choice of reading material in 'The Ascent'. Research, huh? That's next of kin to "reading it for the articles".

I will say that this feels like it worked better than a lot of Trek's sex (that rhymes). I mean, compare this to 'Let He Who Is Whatever'... that gives you a super low bar to clear, but still. It *kiiinda* feels like the main purpose of this story (on the level of the series as a whole) was to establish that Odo Can Sex, and it's pretty clearly heading that way from "bedroom eyes" onwards. It does also give a precedent for him actually having some success in romance, which might hopefully do something to increase his confidence in general -- if he can get over the heartbreak, that is.

Arissa here has details filled in well enough that I can muster up empathy, so that's good at least, and things like her data port and her involvement with the Orion Syndicate hint at greater worldbuilding. But it's clear she's not going to persist beyond the end credits, and all through her growing closeness with Odo I was thinking "okay, betrayal's gonna happen any time soon". So yes, this is still very much The Odo Show.

In other news: we have the triumphant return of the James Bond shenanigans! I *love* how much fun Dax has with the holosuites. Sure seems to be having fun with her gossip too, huh.

Also the two Orion Syndicate guys are a fun diversion, and that hasperat they get from the Promenade looks really nice. This line of the comment brought to you by Fenn's rumbling stomach.
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Booming
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

If you are already at the clinic why not pimp that little bugger up to 11?!
More ways to brag at parties!
The father was obviously insecure, so turning his son into a super human is quite understandable. Maybe he is a loser but he produces super children.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Three excellent questions.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Here's an interview in which Siddig expresses his discontent: https://tv.avclub.com/alexander-siddig-on-being-bashir-quitting-24-and-gett-1798282506

What annoys me the most is that they decide that Bashir was not only brought up to normal or even prodigy levels of intelligence by the genetic treatment, but also that it turned him into a god among men physically too. What why what?
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn,

You'll get the most bang for your buck in retroactively taking a look at Whispers from S2. The whole episode reads differently when seen in hindsight. I highly doubt they had any of what was coming in mind when they wrote it, which makes it all the more mysterious that they did write it. Maybe they wanted to leave Whispers vague enough to suit various options for "surprise" without having to settle on one just yet. I mean, why else write in that Julian deliberately failed to get 1st in his class? Why insert that into his past, and have it take a Lethian to draw it out of him, unless it's Something Important? Almost puts Bashir on the same level as Garak in terms of it implying he's hiding something. That said most of the writers probably either didn't pick up on that or else dropped it, since there are no other allusions in the series to Julian having some kind of secret reason to fail.
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Fenn
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

(One note I forgot to mention in my initial comment: it's fascinating to read Jammer's contemporary reviews, I had no idea that Dolly the sheep happened around the same time as this.)

Anyway, Peter G: thanks for the background info! Yeah, this really does seem like the wrong time to pull a "surprise" like this. Episodes like 'The Wire', 'The Quickening', 'Nor The Battle' etc have already done far more than enough to depict a natural flow of character development... and then to suddenly introduce this (AND in such close proximity to Changeling Bashir, as you say) feels inorganic as well as unnecessary. Less an arc, more a loop-the-loop.

Ouch, speaking of which. After a month of no one knowing Changeling Bashir was any different from the regular one, now his own parents can't tell an incomplete hologram from their actual son.

As for how Siddig's playing it from now on, I'll have to keep an eye on him in upcoming episodes. Delving back into the history of the show in light of this twist may not be all that useful, but no doubt this is going to inform future choices.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn.

There were two parallel issues with this Bashir development. The first is that according to Michael Pillar they had decided pre-pilot to run a number on Bashir's character, making him deliberately unlikeable for a few seasons in order to then spring some kind of surprise and have him turn around to become a fan favorite. I have no idea why they wanted to do an experiment like this, but maybe it was due to everyone on TNG just being so damn nice and friendly. For Bashir they actually wanted to fans not to like him initially! Ironically I like early Bashir the best because he's such a dork.

So this character retcon may well be what they settled on for Bashir's 'big surprise'. The issue for me is they had already had one big surprise - the Changeling situation. And what's more, Bashir had already been toned way down by this time and wasn't the aggravating nuisance that Kira wanted to swat every time he spoke. So any kind of sudden reversal at this stage in the game wasn't really that much of a reversal. He was probably a middle of the road fan favorite originally, and would remain so after this. It basically changed nothing. At least, nothing in terms of ratings.

The second issue was how the writers took to Bashir's new identity, which Siddig apparently feared would have them turn him into The Human Computer and take away any humanity from him. So maybe this last scene was Julian sort of playing a bit of Mr. Computer. I wonder whether the actor was trying to portray that he didn't quite forgive his parents yet, or whether it was more of a "I have to try to look normal in social situations but really I am a human calculator with a stony face in private." And the last scene may be him letting down his social face. I guess you'd have to ask Siddig himself about that one.
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Fenn
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Not sure how to feel about the Bashir revelation. As usual, I knew vaguely what the deal was with him, but was basically trying not to think about it until I actually saw it on screen. I wonder if we'll be perceiving much of a change in the character from here on out. It's probably one of those things that'll have you rewatching old content and going "hmm, was this because of this?", but it's a bit retcon-like for my tastes. Overall, it doesn't quite feel *necessary* for Bashir, and I worry that it might cheapen some of what he's been -- but I welcome the late-game addition of this theme into the story, of parents' "best intentions" not always being the best for the child. And often being for their sake instead of the child's.

I've been talking in the comments for 'The Begotten' about Odo's forgiveness of Dr. Mora, and there's definitely more to talk about on the "forgiving your parents" theme here. I really don't feel enough is done here to merit complete forgiveness. Comparing this with the script, I'd say there's a definite difference between how it was written and the eventual performance.

Stage directions for Bashir watching his parents leave in the script:

Bashir smiles back at him and then Richard and Amsha
EXIT to the transport ship. Bashir watches them go and
then he heads off down the Corridor.

But you watch the scene as it plays out, and Bashir's only smiling for the length of time that they can see him -- the moment they're gone, he's stony-faced. I like that touch. Makes it feel less like a lifetime of resentment has been paved over in a few conversations.

I've heard that Alexander Siddig hated this development for his character and made deliberate efforts to put in as little effort into the acting as possible. He must be a *really* good actor then, because if he's doing that here, it doesn't show!
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Fenn
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: By Inferno's Light

Well. When writing up my comment for the last ep, the first thing I wrote was a rant about Dukat and how he's never really been "redeemed" at all in my view. I wrote the rest, looked back at my Dukat rant that didn't fit too well into the rest of the comment, and thought "man, is this really relevant? Dukat's barely in this one. Should I even include this?"

Glad I included it now, because oh boy, that was basically the last chance I had to rant about Dukat before the guy went and proved me very, very right. I'm shocked, but I really can't say I'm surprised.

Cardassia's taken us on a rollercoaster over the course of DS9. We had hostile Cardassia always lurking uncomfortably close to Bajor, we had weak and defanged Cardassia minus the Obsidian Order, and now we've got Dukat's Cardassia that's gleefully skipping right over to the baddies' side. Yeah, how long's that gonna last until Dukat gets tired of being harangued by Vorta and co? There goes Cardassian self-determination --they're Founder lackeys now. No coming back from this, not with the Dominion as the nigh-unbeatable threat they are.

I have surprisingly little else to say, but I loved the prison scenes -- both Worf fighting damn near to the death (the Jem'Hadar are just big ol' Klingon fanboys aren't they) and Garak having panic attacks in the wall (the pressure of finishing his father's work, as if the claustrophobia wasn't enough). Made for some intense stuff. Doesn't feel as well-constructed as last ep, but I loved this anyway.

Time for the bullet points, then:

- I liked Ziyal's little interaction with Quark... who's casually planning for all eventualities. The station's owner may change, but Quark is eternal. Reminds me of the "Welcome, Klingons!" banner that got rolled out in 'Rapture'.
- I'll be very happy to see more of Martok, as a wiser type of Klingon. He's a fixture on the station now, huh? I'll take him over Eddington any day!
- I'm getting a little tired of that "Cardassians on a rooftop watching a broadcast" stock footage they keep using (this is at *least* the third time). It looked unnatural and kinda silly the first time they used it, and it looks unnatural and kinda silly now.
- "By Inferno's Light" (excellent title, I love linked two-parter titles) could very well refer to the nova of the Bajoran sun.
- I'll never get tired of Sisko effortlessly wreaking verbal destruction on Dukat. "Funny, I thought it was built by Bajoran slave labour."
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Atomguy
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: A Piece of the Action

Please don't use emojis in a comment
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Chrome
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Message in a Bottle

I don't really understand Jammer's criticism about this episode when he says its missing its aspirations. It's a straight-forward comedy and it should be reviewed on those terms. I suppose there's some major (but really minor) series' plot-progression of Voyager contacting the AQ, but all the details about the impact of the contact don't need to be explained here.

Judging by comedy, I think this works really well. Voyager is often at it's best when it's not trying to be serious. Picardo is great, and the Romulan cast was well-performed (there's a TWoK veteran playing the Romulan Commander). Andy Dick is okay, but a bit grating for me. I do tend to agree with Jammer that we get one too many self-congratulatory doctor monologues from the pair.

The ship itself, the Prometheus - which likely is using a touched up Enterprise E set - is an incredibly beautiful backdrop. I liked the tri-body attack pattern which beckons memories of the saucer separation maneuver Riker attempted in "The Best of Both Worlds" -- only more effective. The prototype Starfleet ship oozes with a sense of a post-TNG Starfleet that we didn't get enough of in DS9. Speaking of DS9, the Dominion got named dropped, and they also had those weird commando-type Starfleet officers we see abundantly in "The Siege of AR-558".

There's probably a message here that AQ is not doing much better than the DQ. Like William B mentions there's something about The Doctor that symbolizes that being in the DQ really is making him - and more broadly - the Voyager crew better people. That speaks to the show's theme and I like that. I won't get into the plausibility of the Romulan scheme, although admittedly convoluted, it was just nice to see the Romulans who weren't around very much post-TNG.

I'll go 3.5 stars.
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