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Brian S
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 4:18am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

This episode makes me cringe so hard. From the hammed up awful acting of actors playing Watters, Shepard and especially Peldon, to the directorial choices of Vejar such as showing the console screens PROJECTING on to the cadet's faces (wtf) - I felt bad for all involved.
Every once in a while when I do a series rewatch, I approach this one thinking "ok it can't be THAT bad". Mistake.
Then I promise myself I'll never watch it again.
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Booming
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 3:04am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

@ Peter G.
It's of course impossible to say what was in the heads of writers. I have a problem with the objectification.

@Trish
I have to watch the episode again but still as Peter and you admit it is objectification.
In the 60s it is was quite common to objectify women (it is still pretty common today) and objectification is normally about dehumanizing. You said that you are a feminist. Objectification or dehumanization is about lessening the humanity of a group or person. It is a way of controlling people. One could of course argue, as you do, that it is objectification but objectification in the most positive form, still using beauty as the dominant attribute clearly shows the bias of the time.

We shouldn't forget what Spock says: "beautiful even when burned and broken." Let's take a step back and really see this as basic a possible.
A man is holding an object and compares this object to a group of women who are in a sense burned and broken by another man and the most important feature that still remains for the commenting man is:" These women are still beautiful". It is true that it is a powerful material but he fails to mention that.

Being a feminist maybe you know this paper already but I thought I post it anyway. I haven't read completely though but I know some of Nussbaum's work and found her arguments always interesting and often illuminating.
https://www.mit.edu/~shaslang/mprg/nussbaumO.pdf
And here the faaaar shorter (not really) summery on wiki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectification
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Sleeper Agent
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 1:07am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Good Shepherd

@Jo Jo Meastro (Aug, 2013)

Your comment summarize my thoughts exactly.

A nice 3-solid-stars-story.
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Daya
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 12:24am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

The setup was good. If the ending hadn't been so deflating, we would have remembered this as a better episode. For example, maybe they have an exception to the law that says children younger than 4 years of age are not punishable; and Picard argues that the intent of the exception applies to Wesley.

= = = =

* Edo sarcasm towards Picard's pontification was well done.

* They clearly build very modern buildings, so the Edo probably work. Maybe it was Edo Sunday.

* Maybe the Lysians (S05E14) are the Edo God. They both have the same ship, no direct weapons, and do not communicate well.

* If it had been TOS, Kirk would have argued that God is breaking his own laws (killing the Edos? trespassing?) and the God would have blown up in a self-referential logic loop.

* When ST:TNG first aired, I heard about this episode from a friend. My friend made it seem as if all episodes had raunchy planets -- and being a teenager, I was immediately interested. 30 years later, I have finally seen the episode that got me interested in TNG. Humph!
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Proteus
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 12:16am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

Oh yeah. I forgot the delicious irony of the fragile prey - not EVEN the prey, but a HOLOGRAM of the fragile prey - spouting back to the fierce master hunter his own inane ideology.

Hiro 2 listened so carefully and thoughtfully that for a moment I thought he would hear how inane the cant sounded, have an epiphany that his #1 had been right to see the need to revamp their culture, and shoot Pretty Boy to prevent more killing.

But no. I guess supremacists will be supremacists. If only they could have transported that nutty Dukat over from Alpha, maybe the supremacists would have won.
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Proteus
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 11:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

These episodes were hilariously ridiculous - and ridiculously hilarious. Every over-the-top inane meme you could imagine, from reptilian aliens in Nazi uniforms to a surrealistically pan-historical holodeck free-for-all to drunk Klingons led by a Talaxian with pointy teeth.

Psychedelic Star Trek Soup.

WITH non-comic bonuses like recent character developments continued in period drag, meditations on how cultures atrophy and devolve, one incisive speech about the arrogant pretense of superiority (by the Hirogen to Pretty Boy Nazi), and the purest distillation I can recall hearing of the corrosive poison in ideologies of racial or cultural exceptionalism and social Darwinism (in the speech Pretty Boy used to reinforce what Hiro 2 already believed and inspire him to continue the holy mission).

Make Hirogen great again!

All of that - AND Seven singing torch songs. And wearing bobby sox!

What more could we ask of free entertainment, I ask you?
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Andy G
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 10:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Descent, Part I

I remember reading that this episode had to be altered with the announcement of Generations resulting in a bit of a mess. The "descent" of the Enterprise D was supposed to occur here but was ultimately saved for the big screen.
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Trish
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

@Booming

As for comparing them to an object, the character speaking the line about the crystal (Spock) is not doing that; he is just talking about the crystal. The screenwriter, I believe, is drawing such a comparison, but not because one that says women are just rocks.

It is the nature of metaphors to compare things that are not alike, by highlighting some way(s) they ARE alike, so it is no insult for a human to be metaphorically represented by an object, especially an object that makes men rich, is a source of great power and is beautiful even when it seems burned out.
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Peter G.
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@ Skeptical,

Chrome is right that 'my case' rests largely on that setup dialogue, which IMO is deliberately in the episode in order to underline what Data does later, which is not in line with what he says here. Fajo is, in essence, correct that Data is neatly compartmentalizing his capabilities, and he basically proves it. *That* is a real power that Fajo had over him, and in a dark way Fajo won. The line that cements my position on this is Data's final moment of decision/realization:

DATA: I cannot allow this to continue.

I do not believe "this" refers to himself personally being in danger, and I have never interpreted as meaning anything other than that this man cannot be allowed to live, because he will continue finding ways to make people suffer. And perhaps worse than that, will continue turning good people (like Data) to doing bad things under his pressure. Fajo is sort of like a little Lucifer in this sense, more someone into corrupting people than murdering them. I don't think he kills because he likes it, but rather because it bends people to his will and turns them into more of his possessions.

Incidentally, I've only now just realized I do have one fault in this otherwise excellent episode, which is Saul Rubinek. I rather like the guy, and think he's sort of quirky and fun. I liked him on Frasier and I like him here, except that now that I'm looking at some of this dialogue on paper, it looks so different from what he ended up doing with it. He plays it more like a devilish spoiled child, but the text Chrome quoted sounds so intellectually devious and cunning, almost someone who's smart enough to be able to challenge Data; maybe a more sinister and less refined version of Prof. Moriarty. And based on how the result of the episode plays out, he does indeed challenge Data, proving he was right and Data was wrong, even about being able to teach Data things (bad things). The problem is I don't see this guy in Rubinek's performance, so in hindsight I'm underwhelmed that I don't think the acting and directing quite do justice to what's on the page, although it's still good.
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Proteus
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

I have no opinion on how well the character of Kim fulfills some particular function in a presumed pedagogic compositional formula, whether considered universal to drama in general, or specific to Star Trek convention. I guess that aspect doesn’t matter to me. I’m taking the characters as they’re presented, as I find them - not holding them up to a theoretical standard to calculate what they’re not.

If other Star Trek series prior to VOY had Everyman officers, I don’t recall them. (MAYbe O’Brien, but he’s clearly presented more as gifted blue-collar than as college-trained.) So maybe Kim’s role is an innovation for Voyager, another perspective from which to see the ensemble - rather than a failed something-else.

I guess I’m not interested in the structural genre schematic of the show, just whether or not a character works. For me, Kim works.

You know who didn’t work for me? Yar, on TNG. And Seska on VOY. Whatever marks they were intended to hit, they missed.
_________

I think any comparison between Kim and Picard as Boy Scouts is specious. They’re totally different characters. For one, we meet Picard when he is much older, wiser, and drippIng the kind of gravitas that immediately justifies his command, and inspires confidence - whereas Harry, as you say, is all wide eyes and unproven youth. Maybe Harry would in some imaginable future grow into a commander of Picard stature - but I don’t think so. I could see Harry maturing into Riker.

All three can be accused of being Boy Scouts - but the difference is that Picard has the psychological and philosophical depth, rigor, and will to examine, test, and wrestle with the deep moral ambiguities out of which scout ethics are distilled, and deeply feels the shadows. He’s capable of MAKING moral/ethical rules when circumstances demand.

Kim - and, I think, Riker - are honorable upright officers who intend to do their duty. But neither is the deep thinker, the ancient soul that Picard is. They follow the rules Moses brings down from the mountaintop; they don’t ascend it to face - and wrestle with - God. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)
_________

I take your point about the other promotions and demotions, and Harry’s being overlooked. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe he should have been pipped up. But maybe he fulfilled his duties so ideally that there was just no point.

As for his competence, I don’t recall his being a notable screwup. (Other than occasionally failing to get a lock, or having to report systems down - but we all recognize that critical systems on Starfleet fail in response to contrived plot necessity.) Has there been an occasion when Harry screwed it up?

_________

Chakotay very clearly and specifically does NOT enquire into Katy’s sexual availability. That was my point, made in his defense to others who thought he was too analytical and counseloresque. Ish. Instead he behaves cautiously, respectfully, honorably.

As for the emotional calculus of a day when, after 3 years, a crew first hears the news from home, and some have had to absorb truly devastating impacts...for one thing, we don’t know that it had been “only 10 minutes” in ship time since Chakotay learned about the Maquis. I guess the writers assume we viewers can fill in some of the blanks.

But Chakotay’s response to that news was well and believably covered “hours earlier” (I assume), and we got a double down when he shared it (again believably) with Torres. It was clear during that tranasaction that he felt it necessary to take it in stride “as an officer” (who, with responsibilities to hold an emotionally fraught crew together, may not have time, luxury, or inclination to freak out) - and he encouraged Torres to get an officorial grip as well.

Who can balance relative tragedies, or judge how others are pulled by emotional gravity? Tom’s personal trauma was that he claimed not to want to hear from Pop, then found himself disappointed when there WAS a letter, but it was fragmentary. Even by comparison to Harry’s letterlessness, that seems trivial. But even Torres, who seemed more affected by the Maquis news than Chakotay, had a bit of leftover compassion to sympathize with him - before he (Tom) pivoted to her objectively greater loss and grief.

We have no information at all how (or whether) Janeway had reacted to and absorbed the Maquis news. For all we know, she and Chakotay had found time to cry it out - or, more realistically, for her to genuinely sympathize with and console him.

Or are you saying that Chakotay’s loss was so much greater than Janeway’s that he - or the story - should have ignored hers? “Oh, your fiancé moved on? That’s nothing to what happened to me!” I fail to see how that would have worked on any level.

In any case, we as the audience, along with the crew, had to receive and process the news from home, and consider how it might affect everyone. The script had to present all that business, and move the story along (again, counting on us to fill in some blanks). What Janeway and Chakotay had to say to each other, how their relationship might be changed, was part of that business. The script and the actors did a great job of bringing it out, I thought realistically.

I’m glad Chakotay had enough compassion left over from his own grief to acknowledge the captain’s personal loss - without in any way exploiting it.
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Chrome
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@Skeptical

I think Peter’s suggestion that Data changes in this episode comes from this dialogue:

DATA: I have been designed with a fundamental respect for life in all its forms and a strong inhibition against causing harm to living beings.
FAJO: What a marvellous contradiction. A military pacifist. Tell me, whose dreadful decision was it to enlist you in Starfleet to begin with?
DATA: My skills seemed appropriate
FAJO: Data, Data, Data. Big mistake. A grievous error. You belong in Starfleet about as much as I belong in a verbal contract. Tell me, have you killed yet?
DATA: No, but I am programmed with the ability to use deadly force in the cause of defense.
FAJO: Shame on you. Shame on you. How neatly you rationalise your capabilities. How can you just casually accept your role in murder?
DATA: I would not participate in murder. Perhaps you misunderstand.
FAJO: Can't you see how much better it will be for you right here? The intellectual rewards alone. Our personal exploration of the galaxy. I am at war with no one. I am your liberator!

Up until this point, Data never had to kill, so there was always a certain angelic aura about him. Data was strongest person on the ship yet solved problems with his wits. In other words, an ideal crew member for the loftily diplomatic Enterprise D. Data needing to kill here changes that image. He’s no longer a childlike android. He’s the android capable of killing on his own if he doesn’t like the situation.

I honestly get how people think that Data needed to kill Fajo to free himself, but did he really? He had the weapon and wasn’t in immediate danger. Why not just knock Fajo unconscious and turn him over to Starfleet? Did he really need to kill (violently and painfully with the Varon T disruptor, by the way) at that point in the episode to be safe? I agree with you that he may be justified in the end, but you’d be damned sure Starfleet would have an inquiry and people would not look at Data the same way anymore.
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Skeptical
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

Peter and Chrome, I know the comments have gone round and round on this issue, but I must object. Data's action to fire was NOT about preventing crimes in the long-term future, but about preventing an IMMINENT crime. Fajo told Data to return to his cell or he would kill another crew member. That was an imminent threat (backed up by the fact that he just killed a different one). Submitting under that threat would still be kidnapping, so it's a crime. If Data left, he would be guilty by omission of allowing someone else to die immediately. It's effectively a hostage situation (ie, a current situation), rather than vague threats about the future.

That's why I don't think this was a huge stretch to his ethical programming. It's SOP in a hostage situation that the hostage takers' lives are forfeit if they threaten the hostages and if the hostage takers can be killed without harming the hostages. That's the clearest analogy to Data's situation. He should have had no problem, relatively speaking, in killing Fajo. In fact, he should have even less qualms than a human, who might intellectually understand that it's the proper course of action in a crisis situation but might balk at the emotional side.
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Skeptical
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 6:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

Proteus, just because I am not a strong author does not mean I should blindly accept all stories from anyone who is marginally better at it than me. Yes, the Voyager writers are better than I am at making good stories. But so are thousands of others. So why can't I be picky?

I don't have the time or energy to go through all characters, but let's just look at Kim for a moment. And for the record, I'm not a nitpicky, hate everything type of person. I did think the Seven/Kim "romantic" subplot was a pretty good idea. I don't mind that he is the straight man, as it were. But there are still severe problems with his character.

Star Trek has a long-standing tradition of having two technobabble characters. The "royal smart one" (as SFDebris puts it) is in charge of providing exposition on the weird stuff they encounter and coming up with the solution to it (Spock, Data, Dax), while the engineer is in charge of saying what's wrong with the ship and how to fix it (Scotty, LaForge, O'Brien). Torres is obviously the engineer here. But that makes Kim, the other technobabble character, the Royal Smart One. Except Spock is a superintelligent Vulcan, Data is a superintelligent android, and Dax has a dozen lifetimes of experience. Kim is fresh out of college. There's nothing wrong with being fresh out of college, but you put those people in entry-level jobs, not Chief Science Officer. Chekov had a vague bridge job that made sense as entry-level. Wesley just had to punch coordinates into SpaceGoogle Maps, which works as entry-level. Nog's role was also nebulous, so still entry-level. But Kim is given the job of Ops (nebulous, but we know that superintelligent android Data had the job before) and is seen as a Senior Staff, despite being entry-level.

This gives his character a sense of unbelievability. Sure, presumably the real ops officer died in Caretaker and Kim had to fill in, but we never got a sense of his character within that. He never felt like a n00b in his job, even though he really is. Even worse, because he is not believable as a Royal Smart One, he didn't really get that job either. If anything, Janeway (who had a background in science, and thus is believable as Royal Smart One) had that role in the first half of the show. And obviously Seven (with Borg experiences, believable as Royal Smart One) got the job after that.

Which means, well, what's the point of Kim? It's one thing to say he's the straight man, but this isn't a buddy show or a comedy. It's very much a procedural show similar to cop shows or whatever (obviously more variety though). And in procedural shows, each person has a specific role to perform. But now there's three technobabble characters, and Kim's the least believable, least valuable of the bunch. What, exactly, does he do here? He never grabbed the niche of Royal Smart One because he's not believable at it, and he never grabbed the niche of being the kid (at least in the "work" part of the show, he obviously grabbed it in the "character" part of the show) since he was given such a prestigious position. It made his character superfluous. That's why many people think he should have been the one to go during Scorpion. Seven is believable both as the Royal Smart One and as the kid, and you also would still have Kes as the kid as well. It would have made for smoother storytelling overall rather than trying to justify Kim's presence.

Or, in summary, Kim's procedural role (Royal Smart One) is at fundamental odds with his character role (the newbie), which makes him an unrealistic character. I mean, sure, there was Wesley, but they had to shill him up as a Mozart-esque genius just to get us to barely tolerate him. Kim doesn't even have that.

Next, about him being the straight man compared to the weird character traits. Yes, that's fine. You can have a character like that. But the problem is, that's not his only character trait. The other one was being the kid as I alluded to previously. And the problem was the writers were inconsistent with how well they had him grow out of being the kid. Because let's face it, being the kid is MEANT to be a transitory character trait over time. Personally, I think they (and Wang) did do a better job on this than a lot of people think, but it still was inconsistent.

In NCIS, the character of McGee was brought on to the show as a second straight man (other than being nerdy, he was basically competent, serious, decent, and "normal") in the 2nd season. He also acted as the newbie. So y'know, Kim. Except the newbieness was shrinking dramatically by Season 4 and essentially gone by Season 6. As he gained experience, he stopped being a newbie! He became more confident, more self assured, less gullible. Again, Kim did grow a little bit, but there were many times where he would snap back and be just the kid again. He never truly grew.

Also, even if Kim is the straight man, it doesn't mean the straight man can't be interesting. You described him as being the boy scout. But you know who fits that role even better? Jean-Luc Picard. He is essentially the Roddenberry Ideal made flesh. He is the ultimate straight man. And he was a billion times more interesting than Kim ever was. Sure, the odds were stacked in his favor by being captain rather than a utility man, but still... Picard made TNG what it was. Patrick Stewart made Picard who he was. Maybe it's not fair to compare Wang to Stewart, but the reality is that Kim faded into the background while Picard burst into the foreground (and considering when TNG started they were hyping up Riker as the big deal, the ascendance of Picard in TNG was not a foregone conclusion).

And regarding the promotion bit, well, I agree that it SHOULDN'T matter on a ship that has no real opportunities for advancement. The problem is that the show did seem to think it mattered. Tuvok got promoted. Paris got demoted and repromoted. And yet Kim was the perpetual ensign, DESPITE running a critical department. It made no sense.

OK, I know I said I wasn't doing everyone, but Chakotay's reaction was perfect? So, 10 minutes after finding out that his friends and colleagues all died a brutal death, he... inquires as to the availability of Janeway's pants? That's perfect??? No grief at all?
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wolfstar
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

Absolutely superb post, Proteus.
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Chrome
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 1:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

I think George Monet is underestimating Fajo's power. He was clever enough to make Data look dead and throw off the only Starfleet ship that would be capable of tracking him in a reasonable amount of time. Fajo must've had precautions for dealing with Data's abilities - we know at least he had a ship of loyal people who would deal with Data even if Data managed to incapacitate Fajo.

So Data does have a choice here. He can placate Fajo long enough to find a non-lethal way out - something which Data tries numerous times and fails. Or he can kill Fajo and hope no one else can handle him, which is anything but certain. In the end, Data chooses to kill Fajo not because he thinks it will free him, but because he thinks killing Fajo will at least stop the ongoing slavery, pilfering, and butchery aboard his flying prison.
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Yanks
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Carbon Creek

Bucktown,

No, T'Pol can't be T'Mir.

T'Pol said to Trip in 'Zero Hour': "I'm not old. I will only be sixty six years old on my next birthday."
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Bucktown
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Carbon Creek

Am I the only one with the takeaway when she takes out the purse at the end that T'Mir WAS T'Pol? I actually think that's a great twist, if so. Perhaps it's too far back to fit in with Vulcan lifespans, but the setup of the episode seems to be hinting that T'Pol is much older than anyone on board Enterprise realizes.
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sjdrake
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Scientific Method

An excellent episode, full of action, suspense, comedy- and entertainment, which is what it's all about after all. Yes, you can pick holes in the plot, as you can with just about every Trek episode ever screened.

Though I often agree with Jammer, on this occasion - and like many posters on this thread- I feel he has been much too harsh.

Seven's walk through the decks, trying not to let the aliens realise she can actually see them, was wonderfully played, with a good score to accompany it. The climax, with Janeway losing it and pushing to the brink, was also excellently done.
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Peter G.
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

I think Trish's interpretation is a very interesting one. I haven't watched the ep in a long while but maybe I'll try to make the effort sometime soon.

@ Booming, no, I don't think it's fair to attribute to Spock's comment that he's talking just about the aesthetic of the crystal as being its value, i.e., that the women are beautiful because, like objects, they have a certain look. It seems rather to mean the opposite, that *despite* their aesthetic they are beautiful, meaning their beauty does not derive from their aesthetic appearance. It would almost seem to be a thesis for the entire episode (i.e. that faking their outward beauty is sort of an insult to their real beauty; that fakeness embodied by Mudd himself).
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Peter G.
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 11:45am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@ George Monet,

I personally find your objections cited here to be really beside the point, as the fact remains that bad people exist and will do bad things. The episode is about whether Data will alter his ethics to deal with an unusual situation. And to your last point, that Data is clearly in the right to kill for his freedom, the episode make it as clear as it can that Data was no longer in danger at that point and could have left if he wanted to, but would know that Fajo would no doubt continue to do these things to others. Data didn't kill him in self-defence or in order to escape, but *executed him* in order to prevent him doing further harm in the future, which was definitely outside the purview of his programming thus far.
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Okona
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 7:00am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Chrysalis

@ Aaron, thanks for providing the link to that article. It was interesting reading.

IMO the singing was significant because it showed that these chaotic personalities could come together for a few minutes to give the viewer something intricate, difficult, and beautiful.

The episode as a whole was predictable, but more interesting than the stupid baseball episode. I'd give it a B-
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Sleeper Agent
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 5:59am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Court Martial

Beautifully written and played out from the beginning to the end. If not 4, than definitively 3,5 Stars.

PS. That giant wrench in the end was hilarious.
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Booming
Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 12:04am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

@Trish
Is it not a pretty sexist comment? First, comparing her to a thing and then basically saying: "Well, she is broken but still nice to look at." Meaning that physical beauty is the most important attribute of women while also comparing her to an object.
I mean context and all but phew...
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Proteus
Tue, Nov 12, 2019, 11:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

I’m really tired of Kim/Wang bashing in these reviews.

I take Harry to represent the ideal Starfleet officer of the line: professional, competent, respectfully embedded in the chain of command, unfailingly pleasant to all during the faithful discharge of his duty, neither slacker nor rank-climbing ambitious, steady, dependable, honest forthright steadfast and brave...etc.

In other words, a boy scout. And what’s wrong with that? A vast semi-military operation needs a whole lot more people like that than they need forceful, erratic, life-gambling, ego-ridden, brilliant but unstable, messianic captains and rogue commanders.

So he hasn’t been promoted. So what? There aren’t enough places in the command structure for everyone to move up. On Voyager, 60 light years from home, no one is going to get transferred. Besides, by this point in the voyage, the crew works together more as family than hierarchy, so rank has become less significant.

Harry seems eminently believable - and likable - to me in this context. In a way, his above-average steadiness anchors the rest of the flamboyant, conflicted and troubled crew. He’s a realistic emotional center point. And I don’t recall Wang ever representing the character with less than the full range of acting chops required (obviously within the limits and opportunities of the script he’s given).

I also think the writers have a pretty good handle on his character. Not every character has to shoot off sparks. Someone has to be the straight man. (No, don’t go there, snarkers. It’s “irrelevant”. Thank you, Seven.) And now that I’ve mentioned her, I think it’s perfect that Harry is fascinated, attracted to and intimidated by the Borgesse - isn’t that how most normal non-godlike human men would react?

And yes, in this episode, Harry’s boyish yearning for a letter from home was an oft-repeated note, because he was to represent earnest, normal, uncomplicated anticipation - while we knew many other crew members’ letters were likely to be ambivalent and bittersweet, and their reactions more complex. AND I think the writers were weaving an ambiguous web for us: the longer we waited for Harry’s letter, the more I expected the news to be tragic for him. Can’t believe no one else has mentioned that. I was relieved at the end when he did NOT get bad news.
_______________

I also think the Neelix-bashers are out of line here. We sensed (I think accurately) that by the end of Mortal Coil, a Neelix (who turned out to be deeper and more complex than we assumed) had barely come back from his eminently believable and affecting crisis of faith. Hyper-vigilant character-continuity nazis wanted to see evidence in future episodes that Neelix was still feeling the effects.

Well, did we want him to be fragile, or break down, or slip back into paralysis and depression? At the end of Mortal Coil, he was called back to life by the thin thread of human need for his services - his care, compassion, personal ministry (in the generic, not the ecclesiastical, sense). And I think, given his nature as we’ve learned it, that was a reasonable and powerful incentive for his renewed grasp on life. (In fact, given loss of faith in gods who are not there, in a vast meaningless universe which could not care less about sentient life, I believe our service to each other is indeed one of very few profound and sufficient ways in which we make our own meaning.)

Given that, I think it’s likely and appropriate that lonely, lost Neelix - who has been adopted by and adopted a family of creatures carrying him ever further from the home which was ripped from him, and the family and loved ones who are no longer there - would, after his Hamlet crisis, redouble his efforts in service to those fellow-sentients. He might even be a little over-bright in compensation for the darkness which may still crowd his consciousness. He might try too hard - and the crew, recognizing that, might be more tolerant than usual because they understand he might still be a bit brittle.

So in the context of his recent crisis, his presentation here seems poignant and textured to me - because we can imagine how hard he’s working for it, and how much this lifeline of connection to this crew means to him.

Cut him (and Ethan Phillips) some slack. I think it’s good work.
____________

Janeway and Chatokay. PERfect. Both of them. Brilliant, subtle, powerful acting on Mulgrew’s part as she absorbs the bad news she was surely half-expecting. Both scenes were powerful. And I think both the script and Beltran nailed Chaoktay’s reaction.

Remember there’s still a chain of command. Remember Chakotay has learned enormous respect for Kathryn, both as captain and as a woman. Remember they were on the verge of becoming, effectively, man and wife when they were stranded together on a planet - that Chakotay accepted their situation before Janeway, is clearly attracted to (but not, I think, head over heels about) her, and patiently gave her space and time to begin to accept the situation and him in the same way. And I can’t be the only one to have read, at the end of that episode, a bittersweet note in both characters’ reaction to being rescued. I think both were on the verge of finding satisfaction, even happiness, in building a life together on the planet. It was somewhat emotionally wrenching for both to go back to business as usual on Voyage, decades from home.

And since that rescue, both have been more attentive and attuned to each other, more personal and solicitous - yet still within the bounds of appropriate command staff decorum. I can read into that both that Janeway reined in her growing affection for Chakotay, and Chakotay backed off (as the principled, perceptive gentleman he is) in deference to Janeway’s engagement to the distant Mark, to whom Janeway’s emotional commitment would have revived along with hopes of going home.

In other words, he’s respectful and classy enough not to crowd her. So when he learns her fiancé has moved on, of course he proceeds both honestly and tentatively. At the same time he recognizes this loss on her part might free her emotionally for the relationship he’s clearly ready for, he is also enough of a friend - and, again, principled enough - not to assume, push, rush, or take advantage. And since both are very matter-of-fact people, for whom seeing things clearly and gathering evidence is habitual before leaping ahead, before he leaps, he first wants to know how she’s taking the news.

In a way he’s being a counselor, because that may be what she needs, and he’s intuitive and empathetic enough to want to offer a friend’s shoulder. He wants to “be there for her,” in any capacity she needs. Hs also wants to know where he stands. “How do you feel about that” is a PERfect line to open the dialogue (significantly, after Janeway has already opened up to him matter-of-factly, with some bravely open misting-up during the telling demonstrating her trust and vulnerability).

She then jumps ahead to where he is: “go ahead and say it, I got a Dear John,” and the dialog proceeds into territory showing they’re both very much on the same page. Both recognize a relationship might blossom again, and that given the situation there’s plenty of time.

Was he supposed to just jump her bones? Was she supposed to collapse into his arms? That would have been ridiculous, and untrue to both characters and four years’ worth of relationship-building.

I don’t think either is infatuated with the other, that either sees the other as a love-of-a-lifetime, that they’re fated to be, that the universe has brought them together - nor are they driven by any combination of hormones and puerile fantasy. I think both recognize they’re compatible, they respect and care for each other - they’re important to each other, maybe each others’ best friend - but they’re not obsessed or mad about each other. They could commit to each other in a solid, loving, mature relationship. But neither of them is going to perish of a broken heart if it doesn’t happen

They have time. The dialog and acting captured that perfectly, enhancing two already wonderfully realized characters.
_________

Geez, the critics here! Please submit your screenplays and screen tests for our consideration.
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Springy
Tue, Nov 12, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

It's a rare two parter where part 2 is as good as part 1, but Best of Both Worlds manages it.

Ingenious resolution, every aspect well done, just as in part 1. Moving and well acted. A winner.

Riker rises to the occasion; they all do.

As to the title of the ep - I thought it was about how The Enterprise had to use both Independent (individual) effort and Team (collective) Effort - to win the day against a foe that could only use one of those methods.

The Enterprise had to be Borg-like in managing to continue even after "its head was cut off," so to speak (i.e., Picard was taken from them). They had to work together to quickly mend the great big hole.

But they also had to be able to tap into their individual talents and abilities - notice the emphasis on separation: Riker had to let go of Picard. The saucer had to separate. The shuttle craft had to leave the mother ship.

The Borg couldn't "just let go" of Picard. They can't separate in any way. Not really. So they lose.

So The Enterprise had the Best of Both Worlds - the World in which individuality is most prized, and the World in which teamwork is most prized. They had both abilities, and they had them in spades. Excellent individual talents, excellent ability to work together and sacrifice for the team. They valued separation; they valued togetherness.

They defeated The Borg.

Boom! Just fantastic.
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