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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 11:20pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: When the Bough Breaks

Captain Deladier Starship Troopers (1)
I liked Brenda Strong in that....she was a great captain (wonder if she tried out for the Janeway part?). Managed to save her ship during the debacle at Klendathu when she utters the terrific line "Somebody made a big G-- d-mned mistake." Unfortunately, the writers gave her a painful sendoff at Planet P , but at least she got Carmen out safe.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 9:44pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

Still watching but this is just creepy. White Geordie is cyber stalking a 400 year old digi zombie. creepy
The Mocluns get hooked on synthesized cigarettes.
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William B
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 9:32pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

I'm just spitballing here, but:

While Kamala does have a "pre-episode" existence, it seems to be primarily education (which she references). She seems to be going through a sort of accelerated puberty, which is interrupted when the Ferengi get her out of her egg. The reason I mentioned the total blank slate thing is that I don't think Kamala should be judged for going after Riker or the miners or Worf, and nor do I think it is a writing mistake, or, at least, if it's a writing mistake, the mistake is a few steps earlier. I like Trish's idea that this is sort of more generally about social determinism, about the extent to which everyone bases aspects of their identity on fitting in with others.

One of the reasons the episode is icky is that Kamala's rapid transformation from, essentially, a floating egg into a marriageable woman takes place over a few hours, which is kind of like adolescence, but also kind of like going from zero to 30 while being, in principle, sexually available. This is where the male fantasy accusations of the episode kind of land and make the story uncomfortable. But we can, perhaps, view it as being a metaphor for what it actually means to go through the stage of being basically *entirely new to sexuality*, of having a nominally adult body but no experience and raging hormones, and then developing into romantic maturity. The rapidity of the process is, again, icky if taken literally, but maybe if we view it as a little more like The Inner Light, or even The Child, where the accelerated process is sort of for narrative benefit, then it's not quite so bad; Kamala is a "blank slate" *romantically*, doesn't yet have a "type," and so on. And we can also generalize away from the particulars of romantic issues into life in general, where children are, to a degree, sheltered, and then become adolescents when they have a possibility of imprinting on different adults or peers, and then become an adult with a, relative to their childhood, more set, less neuroplastic, identity. Yes, of course, in real life most children have had time to form some kind of rudimentary romantic notions of what they might want, and so on, but maybe this is a way to bring together some of the ideas here.

The problem with this read is that it erases what is particular to Kamala (or metamorphs in general). There is no big speech at the episode's end that in fact if you think about it, Kamala is everyone, or whatever. So this idea maybe can't have that much traction. I'm not sure. And the ickiness is, again, because I don't think we actually want the episode to be genuinely about a teenager running around imprinting on people by hitting on Riker; eps like Charlie X and True Q are able to show "teenager is attracted to one of the adults" without having the adults reciprocate the attraction. In fact the ickiness is maybe part of the point, and ties in with what Beverly is saying, but still. It might be that there are different stories being told her simultaneously, and the wires get a little crossed.

I have thought about the comparison to Elaan of Troyius. I think what is interesting is that Kirk chooses the Enterprise over Elaan because, if we take the episode seriously, he is already basically "in love with his ship" already, so Elaan's magic tears (eesh) can be defeated. Whereas Picard -- well, he loves duty and nobility, and he does like his ship, but I do think that there is a sense in which what Picard has to choose over Kamala is much more abstract, and colder. Kirk's attachment to the Enterprise, and to his mission in general, is much more visceral; he really just loves being on that ship. Picard is a little more distant in his relationship to what he does, so that his having to give up Kamala is less triumphant.

In any case, I think Peter is right that Kamala does seem to be drawn to Picard, and seems to genuinely *like herself as she is when she's with him*. The cynical read is that this is itself just part of the metamorph package, but I do like to think that there is something in the inherent nobility of Picard's values that is kind of self-evident, a kind of search for meaning which is more sustaining than happiness.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 9:13pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: LD S2: The Spy Humongous

Jammer's right, Lower Decks has been disappointingly tame. I get the sense the writers have one hand tied behind their back, so most of the stuff that could be said, can't be said. Even the Orville is allowed to be more risqué, though not nearly enough imo. Now, a South Park in space... that is something I would get behind.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 9:08pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

The obligatory change of pace after the excitement of an all out battle royale.
This one was a mystery, did he or didn't he. Admittedly that wasn't much of a mystery. We all know he did it. The only question was how. There was no way to deduce that his daughter was actually an alien with an explosive blood type so this was more of a wait for the reveal story that falls somewhere along the border of ok.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 8:03pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@ Trish,

I actually thought of Elaan of Troius as well, for just the reasons you mentioned.

The main reason I find William B's suggestion troubling - that Kamala cannot really be said to have wants *at all* - is that it eliminates her entirely from any conversation about whether she's being used or not. Of course she is, she literally cannot be anything but be used if that's her nature. I have to say in all my years of watching this ep, it never really occurred to me that she literally cannot have thoughts other than those generated by the nearest man's fantasy. If that were really true, it would be possibly the most alien being in all of Trek, so distant from our notion of free will and self-sovereignty that I do not even know if there are reasonable terms we could use to describe her participation in any scene at all. How can we tell that anything she says to Picard at any point is coming from her? Maybe it's all just a house of mirrors reflecting his own mind back to itself. What about when she's with Data? Well maybe she's close enough to some man somewhere to pick up something or other from him. I guess it could make for an interesting alien of the week, that it's incapable of having thoughts that are its own.

But as William B and Trish both mention, I don't think the episode is at all about exploring what it would be like if an alien could literally only reflect someone else's personality. I don't even know whether your idea, Trish, that it's about the person we can become when with others, is really emphasized (although it is of course at least obliquely present). That idea that it's a Picard episode seems pretty evident from the story progression...but what's the actual story?

If Kamala absolutely has no personal agency, then every moment Picard spends with her is just him fooling himself that he can have a real conversation. Nothing she says can be taken seriously as having a unique perspective. And likewise, it can't be a sexist piece, really, because we're dealing with a being so unlike us that there's no comparison. On the other hand, if she does have personal agency, and if indeed she does have thoughts of her own about Picard and about her life, then we have to completely reverse our assessment and look carefully at everything she says to inspect whether it's purely her own idea, or whether it's being tempered to please the man she's nearest.

I will say one thing, though: the episode always played (to me) as one where she admired Picard, and drew from him the strength to *truly* go through with her mission of her own free will. Prior to bonding with him Beverly was probably right that she was saying what she was conditioned to say, but afterward, she knew exactly what it meant and she chose it. So we could perhaps say that bonding with Picard was a choice to be a person with free will of a particular sort, and that being like him was in her eyes the best version of herself she could be. I always come out of the episode with the idea that she did have some will of her own in this, that she knew she was different with different men, and that she actively preferred the person she was when with Picard. So in the end, her bonding with him isn't just the playing out of his personal fantasy of loss (although this is a neat idea, William), but is actually the best outcome for her since now she doesn't have to devolve into being a prostitute for her husband. That she leaves Picard is because he taught her duty (as Trish points out), so this leaves us with hints of Pygmalion, where he gave her the best he had, and in becoming his ideal she had a more important mission to complete than making house with him. She rose above the need to please a man, and instead took on the mission of saving two worlds. So the ending is bittersweet, rather than a lesson in mere loss due to Picard sowing his own doom. It's not really his doom, after all: he did save her. And that is, finally, his mission.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 7:56pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

So this episode took the predictable route, using Isaac to save the day thereby sowing seeds of redemption. But it also implied that despite his protests, Isaac does have a heart.
Clearly the semblance of emotion is a part of the programming of Isaac's race. There seemed to be more than a self preservation logic in their resentment, yes resentment, at being enslaved. Wiping out the entire race of their creators wreaks of revenge. And their inability to believe that humanity could evolve past their basic instincts seemed to have a tinge of a phobia.
As for the green runny booger. Good job. Didn't even recognize Norm's voice before he actually appeared on the show. Now it is sadly distinct. I don't know if the slime ball survives the season. If he does it will be interesting to see what they do about his voice.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 6:40pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

As I was saying, once you extend your hand it's hard to take it back. This reminds me of Dr. Who's Cybermen. A robot army created to take over the universe.
Nice work giving Isaac Data's voice so that viewers get comfotable with him. But as I pointed out, Isaac had no desire to be human. The fact that he viewed humanity as inferior definitely should have been taken more seriously.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 6:04pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@William B

Your use of the word "disentangling" has helped me to articulate what I see this story to be about at the real-life level (because Trek is pretty much always trying to be about real life in some way):

I think maybe this episode is not necessarily so much about gender roles as it is about the extent to which the person each of us becomes is determined by the company we keep. I see it more as posing a question than as settling on a single confident answer.

In Kamala, we see an example of utter social determinism. Even though she seems to break "free" from the path that was determined practically from the time of her birth, in that she does not end up bonding with and molding her personality around the desires of her prearranged mate, this very breaking away is still just as determined by an outside force, her contact with Picard. In a sense, she, as Kamala, does not quite "exist." She simply "is," and her being is utterly determined by the existence of her bondmate. I think that is what @Peter G. is getting at about her being an "empty shell."

Picard, on the other hand, exists to the nth degree. He is not merely the person his experiences and relationships have made him, but the person he has chosen to be, even in the face of all Kamala's charms and pheromones. He is tempted by her, but no matter what you think happened between them before morning, he does not yield to the ultimate temptation Kamala represents for him, the temptation to forsake all duty, his and hers alike.

Was Kamala falling for temptation when she allowed herself to be with Picard enough to bond with him instead of with her husband? I'm not sure of that. I think it was the closest a metamorph could come to exercising something resembling free will. She chose Picard, and invited him to spend the night, emphasizing that she was not asking him to make love to her, but refraining from mentioning that if he stayed long enough, she would be bonding with him, a far more significant intimacy than a one-night stand. I think I see her as knowing full well that if she spent that night in his company, she would bond, and the door would be forever closed to bonding with her future husband. It was her choice, and after she made it, she expressed no regrets.

She may have been an empty shell, but she chose what would fill her. She might in a sense be forever enslaved to the bond formed that night, but that slavery would be for her a sort of freedom, or at least the closest to freedom that it was ever in the cards for her to have.

She had no realistic choice of living a life "disentangled" from everyone. The part of her nature she could not change was that she would be entangled with someone. What she could do, and did do, was disentangle herself from her society's determination of what specific entanglement would define her identity, and instead entangle herself with a companion of her own choosing.

Is determinism still determinism when the individual herself determines who will determine who she is? That is the episode's question. We must each find our own answer.

As I wrote this, I found myself for the first time connecting this episode with the TOS episode, Elaan of Troius. The two stories seem so different, yet they are at one level the same story: The alien woman seems blown from one passion to the next and carries in her body the power to enslave men to that passion, but in a Starfleet captain she finds a sense of duty, and he finds in his duty a superpower no other man has shown her, the strength to walk away from her. It is painful, and it is difficult, but in the end, his duty to his ship is the "antidote" to her biological charms, and she comes away better for having known a man such as him. Her people will never know how much they owe him.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 6:00pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

I think TOS's issues with sexism reflect the issue of the show's quality overall. It can't live up to the high bar it set for itself in S1. Pointing back at Number One to defend individual episodes is difficult, both because "The Cage" is getting further and further away but also because it only highlights that the show is capable of better.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 5:15pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: LD S2: The Spy Humongous

Review now posted.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 5:02pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S2: Tribunal

Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 3:12am (UTC -5)
The fact that these episodes are still relevant after nearly 30 years...

30 years!? What are you talking abo...oh god. I suddenly feel so old.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

Ok, so Kelly reveals the she actually is both hypocritical and self absorbed.
Now that's out of the way let's deal with the Moclans. This species was introduced as a joke species. They showed Bortus sitting on an egg and hatching it. Was that not disturbing in itself? lol
Unfortunately you can't have your cake and eat it too. I said before that it is a mistake to use Moclans to make a serious moral point because a. They're hilarious and more importantly b. They're not human. So unless you're saying that all species need to be judged according to human morality, painting humanity as the self righteous morality gods of the universe, then why should humans care about the moral code of non humans?
Now I get it, if the other species is the Krill that actually do believe they have the moral highground and moral right to literally tread all over every other species in the universe to the point where they wipe out anybody who isn't Krill, then we have a right to defend ourselves.
However since the existence of alien species is supposedly a sign that humanity isn't the center of the universe then we need to learn to respect alien cultures, otherwise we're no better than the Krill, enforcing our morality on others.
In that sense, I don't care about Moclan morals, laws nor sexuality. The synopsis of this episode says that The Orville finds out "a disturbing aspect of Moclan culture." Disturbing to who? It isn't disturbing to the Moclans, it's their way of life.
The Union's problem, which has been highlighted repeatedly, is their lack of preparation. Find out about a culture BEFORE you desecrate their statues, BEFORE you make first contact and most certainly BEFORE you invite them into the Union. Once your hand is extended it's hard to take it back.
So who actually was the bigger person at the end of this episode? The security girl who shuns Klyden because of differences in cultural ethics or Klyden who has learned to live with other species despite cultural differences. He doesn't hate male humans for liking females despite the fact that in his culture that's disgusting.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 4:37pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S1: Cold Front

Jason R said:

"I mean in one episode they are marvelling at this alien replicator that can materialize a fish dinner on demand because yes, they can magically turn a human body into energy and recreate it atom by atom remotely on a planet thousands of km away"

*vvv* TNG "spoiler" , if that matters *vvv*

The transporter being able to dissemble and recreate both a human body's anatomy and its physiology ended up making episodes like TNG's Ethics look rather absurd.

What was it about fabricating a spinal cord that was so groundbreaking when the transporter does it every time it's used, from random organic matter no less?

Why cut Worf open to remove and replace the afforementioned spinal cord and burden him with a long, unnecessary convalescence when they could just put him in the transporter and use the template from his last uninjured pattern? By the time of "Ethics" the technology was two centuries old.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 4:09pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

@Gorn "The Motion Picture is a form of story telling that will never come again, at least not with A listers and a huge budget."

Well we might have moved back in that direction though. "Midsommar" has an extremely leisurely pace. Though, the gore was rather excessive to me.

"Interstellar" had both A listers and a high budget, and it definitely aims to be epic.

2014's "Young Ones" has a markedly slow burn, almost Kubrickian in many ways. Not much really happens, but it gives what I thought was a very creepy vision of a near future Dust Bowl Great Depression. It's creepy because although there is technology from maybe 30 years ahead of use, most people are quite poor. This is probably what the Great Depression was like. They didn't have computers and cell phones, but the 1930s was hardly primitive.

(And, likely completely coincidentally, "Young Ones" could fit in the "Interstellar" verse. )
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Michael Miller
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 4:00pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S5: Thirty Days

And when Captain Janeway violated the temporal prime directive like 1000 times? She even stole Klingon technology and went back in time just to get her crew home a few years faster, after she was already home! She was even quoted several times basically saying she doesn't give a damn about the integrity of the time line. What Tom did was nothing compared to all her reckless decisions over the seasons. Tom should have yanked off his com badge and told her to shove it up her ass after he was released. Fly the damn ship yourself!
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William B
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 3:04pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter, I think you are correct; the episode is in some ways using Kamala as an empty shell to tell a story about Picard. But it's also important that the story is about Picard reacts to an empty shell, and what he fills it in with.

It is also worth noting that while of course lots of guys just get sexual/romantic attachment to her, Kamala is objectified all over the place by everyone in the story. The Ferengi (including proto-Rom I guess) are of course going to commodify her sexually, but mostly view her in terms of her value as an asset; the basic societal function of her is to be a peace wife. Even Beverly's description of her as a slave is really an incomplete application of her humanism (and feminism, though this is mostly on the meta level, since sexual equality is meant to be solidly established in universe) rather than an ability to engage with who Kamala is. (Though I think Beverly erring on the side of her personhood is more admirable than the Ferengi erring on the side of viewing her as a commodity.)

You are not wrong that Janssen plays it with a certain common baseline. I was thinking about whether I was overstating the point (that's part of why I emphasized the "IMHO" on this particular post even though it's understood). It might be down to her limitations as a performer...though I'm not positive if that's what's going on.

The episode is mostly about showing off Picard's attributes. I think that the subversive (feminist?) level to it is that it's subtly a self-critique of these types of saviour narratives; the surface level mostly emphasizing Picard's sacrifice gives way, when pulling back, to a larger narrative of whether Picard is more than superficially different than the Ferengi or the miners or the guy she's being married to, in terms of objectifying her. Picard's version of Kamala is the most complex one depicted in the episode (more complex than even Beverly's), but it's still about Picard's ideals. Kamala not really being a complete subject might, in this read, be more a criticism of the narrative itself than a statement about the interior lives of people in real life who might be in Kamala's position. But eventually we start to veer pretty far from anything we can say with certainty. I like Stewart's performance (and, honestly, Janssen's in her scenes with Stewart) and the dialogue enough to give this episode possibly more credit than it deserves, but I feel like there are hints here that it's operating on a few levels, even if it's hard to disentangle.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 2:05pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: The Paradise Syndrome

The final goodbye scene is undercut by how little Kirk, Spock, and especially McCoy cared about Miramanee in the previous scene by the obelisk. They didn't spare her a second - nay, a *first* glance - for a good 5 minutes while they dealt with Kirk. Have to get her out of the way so Kirk can remain unfettered.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 12:17pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

If all that is true, William, then it ironically means that not only is Kamala an empty shell, but the role of Kamala as written into the episode is also an empty shell whose only purpose to exist is to show off Picard's attributes.

But again I have to say that Kamala does seem able to think for herself even apart from morphing into people. Or rather, the actress portrays a common Kamala across various scenes which doesn't particularly seem to be a fantasy of anyone in particular. I dunno.
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William B
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 11:57am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

My read is that, within the parameters of the episode, Kamala isn't even herself intrinsically interested in seeking out men to bond with, but doesn't have any inner self or motivations to begin with -- she has knowledge, maybe, but is emotionally a genuine blank slate. So when she throws herself at men, it's because that really *is* what those men, on some level, want. I don't think she can control it, or, rather, I think she has free will *once she becomes the person that she becomes, in reflection of the man she's around*, to act within those parameters. So that she turns into a kind of season 2 guest starring woman throwing herself sultrily at Riker is because that is, at the bottom, Riker's type. Riker has nobler aspirations and can turn her down, but those nobler aspirations are a few layers up from what he basically wants. (Not to get too Freudian, but Riker's losing his mother at a young age is maybe part of it. He really, *really* wants a woman in his life, but is also afraid of becoming attached to one.)

I think in this sense, the Kamala that we see in the second half of the episode who can control herself is because moral fibre, independence and self-sacrifice is a non-negotiable part of what Picard wants in a mate. Even Vash is independent and hard-working, and follows a kind of code.

As for whether this maps onto women in real life, I think it's a bit complicated. I think that part of what's being explored is the idea of people brought up to view desirability, and being partnered with someone, as being so intrinsically part of their identity that they can't turn it off, and indeed there is nothing there underneath. In real life, it's not "nothing" (and I'm not claiming that real life people can't be expected to control themselves), but within the parameters of the story, I think it is pretty absolute. To the extent that someone is to blame in the real life equivalent, much of the blame rests on the society, parental/guardian figures, and social groups who convince people that their sole worth lies in pleasing others.

The episode tells us more about Picard than anything else, and I think it also is a signal to why Picard is perpetually alone. His nobility is so deeply part of his self-conception that his fantasy has to reject him. What's interesting, and has been observed by a few, is that this is still a kind of self-serving fantasy, that in fact only Picard is a remarkable enough man to want to be rejected. This has been kind of part of his thing since We'll Always Have Paris, and the Casablanca reference in that episode title gives a bit of a clue: the heroism is part of the package of his aloneness, the noble sacrifice of romance for the cause becomes part of what makes the romance(s) burn hot.

It's also, perhaps, the way he copes with Beverly's slavery argument, which is that he can't really believe either that a person can genuinely be an empty shell (because it goes against his deeply held convictions in the essential dignity of sentient life) nor that a person can be sold against their will into slavery (for obvious reasons) nor that he should interfere (because this is a Prime Directive issue and there are many lives hanging in the balance), nor even that she actually *wants* to be matched with whoever her guy is (because that's on some level too easy and so is suspicious), and the resolution which seems most possible is that a brave, dignified individual can make a self-sacrificing choice for the greater good but hold onto a certain spark of freedom within her, while also requiring a sacrifice of Picard to partly assuage his guilt at being the bearer of Kamala into her fate. It is *a* resolution, and I think it's what makes the episode tick, because dramatically it sort of resolves the episode's underlying moral dilemma but it might, itself, be a trick to soothe Picard, and the Picards in the audience -- but it's a trick that we can maybe step outside and see.

All IMHO of course, and it's been a while since I've seen the episode.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 11:01am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@ Trish,

Yeah, there's no escape from the fact that the show throws us a sexy lady as the centerpiece, so the exposition line doesn't impact us that much. I wasn't really talking about whether it's sexist per se, and more exploring whether they're trying to map the situation onto the real world at all.

About women changing themselves vs men, I wasn't making the case that women don't have to do anything. Obviously the game is two-way. But the action of the game typically is the woman does certain preparatory procedures (which can include make-up, costume, etc) to put beauty on display, and then the males come to her. This is similar to (but inverted from) the peacock situation, since in the Western human culture it's the female that is adorned. Her preparation may involve a lot more work than males do, and may be stressful, etc, so I'm not trivializing things into 'the woman does nothing.' But if the woman does do these things typically she can be assured of some result; she won't have to go around asking men out just to get a date. A guy, by contrast (perhaps because of the social system) can sit around minding his own business, and will get nowhere. He will usually have to get out there and try to make something happen. Actually I'm not particular fond of this dichotomy, but in my experience this is the setup. It just is what it is. And more point, in any case, was that in the final analysis, the women select the men more than the men select the women. Sure, any given women might not be able to get a particular arbitrary man, but she will have options within bounds. A guy will have typically have zero options unless he creates those possibilities for himself, unless he is unusually attractive. I have seen the odd guy that women throw themselves at, but it's pretty rare. With women, not so rare. So functionally they gatekeep dating (this is not a complaint on my part, I think it is actually good).

About point 2, I think you are speaking about Kamala like she's a biological sex machine rather than a sentient being who can choose to govern her choices (maybe not her desires). It's sort of analogous to arguing that a horny guy is only doing what his biology has programmed him to, so it's not his free choice whether to ask like a horny animal or not. But I think the Trek mentality is that we really are capable of being civilized no matter our base impulses; this topic was more prevalent in TOS then TNG, I think. So yes, Kamala has a tough job to be at the peak of her sexual maturity, and yes it's what she was born for, but if she is an intelligent adult she should also be capable of saying "You know what, my desires are really strong and it would be bad for me to act them out, I need to try to discipline myself." It's like, ok, maybe you have a need as strong as a powerful addiction. Well people IRL do face that problem, and steps are taken to deal with it if you're being responsible. But she seems really unconcerned with the effects of her actions, to the point where they are really quite wanton. From that standpoint I can't be sure whether to blame the script, the actress, or what. She just looks like she doesn't give a damn whether she starts a brawl or whatever. I mean, what, is she supposed to be a sociopath?

And maybe your objection about what we're shown is in line with mine, because I don't really see any metamorphing going on in the episode. Every scene is just her coming on to the nearest guy in the same way. She doesn't strike me as changing for them, just using the same smile and pheromone routine to guy any guy to like her. Is that supposed to be respectable? It may be an issue with the show's directing in the end.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 10:29am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

It sounds to me as if you are making two points:

1) It isn't sexist because in the episode and in real life it's actually males who usually have to mold themselves to females' desires, not vice versa, and Kamala is a counterexample.

2) Kamala is behaving badly by throwing herself at men.

What I would say to 1 is that while the writers TELL us that among Kamala's species, male metamorphs are common, they choose not to SHOW us any male metamorphs at all, only the "rare" female metamorph. In their writing, no matter what they say in one throwaway line of exposition, 100% of the metamorphs we meet are (is) female. The throwaway line about male metamorphs makes no difference at all to the story, and could easily have been left out. I suspect it was added fairly late in revisions when someone said, "Hey, does this script sound a little sexist?"

I would also add that it's kind of a typical male perspective that "Men are the ones who have to do all the work to attract women. Women just get to stand there while we jump through hoops for them." I can assure you, the female perspective on this aspect of real life is very different. I think it's easy for each sex to assume that the other is not "jumping through hoops," and that what they see in the opposite sex is just the way they "naturally" are without any effort. No. That's not how it works. If it were true, the cosmetic industry would either have only men as its customers, or would grind to a halt. I think you have no idea how often women and girls are told to change everything they are if they want to attract a man. I'm willing to take it on faith that men and boys get such messages about attracting women. Can you take on faith, that we do, too, and that you are not all the work?

Regarding 2, I think the whole POINT is that "Her priority is to make men go crazy for her." This is not her free choice, as if she were deciding to be promiscuous for her own purposes, or, as you put it "irresponsible." It is what being a metamorph at this particular stage of her development MEANS. She is in the brief period when her biology is hard-wired to motivate her to seek the man with whom she will then bond for life. After that bonding, there will be no more throwing herself at every man who comes along, but until then, she has a biological imperative to enter into such a bond. What Picard calls "This thing you do with men" includes not only her willingness to become whatever her instincts tell her each man wants, but also her all-consuming motivation to do so, during this brief period of her life.

If she doesn't make use of that brief period to find a mate, then she will end up … Well, as she does end up: Bonded to a man who will not in fact be her mate, and living a lie with the man she marries.

I wonder, would she have been so much worse off if she had bonded with one of the rowdy miners and spent the rest of her life with him, as the woman he wanted her to be? Would whatever man she bonded with have been the "perfect mate" for her, not just her the perfect mate for him?

In a natural state, unmanipulated by political realities to serve a diplomatic purpose, I can see how metamorphism could lead to stable, happy families. The manipulation that she has been subject to from earliest childhood to make sure that she ends up in a marriage that serves her people's political purposes is perhaps not exactly "slavery," but it is not "freedom," either.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 8:06am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Watching this one again reminded me of a few things.

First of all, they claim that male metamorphs are relatively common, but that it's the female metamorph that is so incredibly rare. This means not that the episode is painting women as being a mere object of our desires; in fact if we take the premise seriously then on this world it's more the norm that the men will do anything the women want to conform to their needs, and it's a rarity for the reverse to be true (to this extent, anyhow). To be honest, if we're looking at contemporary (90's) society, this episode more or less maps onto reality in this sense, that women in the West mostly control sexual selection and that guys must 'win them', meaning, do whatever is required for the female to accept them. For it to be the reverse case - for a woman to have to change herself and jump through hoops to appeal to a man - is, I think, much more rare. I'm assuming an analogy between being a metamorph and having to bend oneself to appeal to someone else. If I'm right about the analogy, then rather than saying that women are subservient, on the contrary the episode is saying that women have won the sexual revolution, and that it's now super-rare for a woman to have to go through any kind of ordeal to win the attention of a men.

Regarding the slavery angle and whether Kamala is being treated with respect, Beverly at breakfast certainly makes the case that this is slavery, and Picard is particularly irate at having to defend against this point. But why is he irate? And his irritated response continues when he tells the ambassador that Kamala is going to be let out to visit the crew. I think he may be irate because despite his intention to stay away from Kamala and not get involved in any interaction with her, Beverly is goading him on to go and save her from imprisonment, and by the time he goes to the ambassador he's being cornered into taking a macho "not on my ship" attitude. His overdone bluster about this shows that even though Kamala isn't present he's still having an interaction with her, impressing her with his boldness. And it's mostly against his will at that; he'd rather not be fighting for her. And when the ambassador says that she'll drive every man on the ship nuts, Picard mutters "not every man!" as if Data is going to somehow shield the ship from her effects. It almost seems like Picard knows exactly what's going to happen and is daring his own ship to take her on. But why? I think it's macho bravado. He's already not thinking clearly.

The problem with this theory is that Kamala has to have driven him wild already from their first interaction, which is sort of implied but doesn't quite come off properly on-screen. And in fact overall I'm having a problem with Janssen's performance. Every scene features her looking cute and knowing she's looking cute, and speaking in this really flat tone that says little else than "I know you think I'm cute". Considering what her abilities are supposed to be, this is really monotoned on the seduction scale. And frankly all she ever seems to do is be trying to seduce every man she sees. Sure, I can understand if she can't turn off her metamorph power and her emapthy, but I don't see why that has to mean that she's also actively choosing to go forward with seductions, kissing Riker, going over to the miners, etc. She seems to sort of be a dunce. Or maybe this is just too much of a one-note performance. I actually found that to be the case in X-Men as well, that Janssen's scenes were all one-note and pretty boring.

So I was definitely missing Janssen actually portraying someone who's personality changes depending on who she's with. She seemed pretty much the same in every scene regardless. You'd think that, being alone with Picard, her demeanor and attitude would immediately change, and moreover, into something more respectable, someone who could challenge Picard on a level he respects, rather than just animal attraction. I did not get that he left her quarters with something to prove to her about how tough he is, despite the fact that from then on this is how the episode has him act. So really the scenes that fail for me are the one's she's in. It would have been so much better if, instead of just smiling at everyone she sees, she actually changed into different people with different priorities. Her priorities in every scene, as it is, seem confined to making the men go crazy for her. At that point I'm inclined to agree with the ambassador that she should have been locked up in her quarters, if she's going to be irresponsible like this.
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Latex Zebra
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 3:58am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: LD S2: The Spy Humongous

Lower Decks continues to entertain. Yes some of the trash antics was a little OTT and silly, but it was also funny. The Pakled spy cracked me up. In fact the Pakled's as a whole were a constant source of amusement.
The Redshirt thing was well done as well.
Solid 3.
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Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 2:01am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ORV S2: A Happy Refrain

Ok, this one has to be dealt with on levels.
Level 1: The spoof
Seeing that the doctor is clearly the anti Polanski, it stands to reason that Polanski's cold treatment of Data would be spoofed by having the doctor fall in love with the android. Polanski's logical approach is spoofed by the doctor's whimsical, illogical, reactions to the notion of a human/robot affair.
Level 2: The Philosophical
The doctor's love for Isaac is an allegory for her love of science.
On a side note , wasn't expecting to see Norm Macdonald. A comedic genious who has given me many a belly laugh. I was definitely knocked aside when I heard that he died less than a week ago. Seeing him here was rough. R.I.P. Norm
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