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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Living Witness

The concept for this episode is pretty bold. Let's take a controversial piece of history which victimized a group of people and show them instead as the aggressors. Unfortunately, the execution is lacking.

Two big issues really stick out for me:

1. The historical reenactment is way too detailed to be believable. I can buy that the Kyrians used a bit of dramatic license to highlight their victimization, but I don't really see the point in adding small talk and needless flourishes like the Voyager crew getting into fistfights when they don't agree. It's too extreme. It feels like this episode is using "historical reenactment" as a framing device for Voyager to ham it up in yet another Mirror Universe episode. I don't have a problem with Mirror Universe episodes, but if that's what the writers want to do with the cast, at least be honest to us about it.

Likewise, when the Doctor fixes the retelling, he's giving information he shouldn't know. His retelling has personal conversations among crew members well out of the Doctor's earshot. How can he possibly know that happened? It strains the credibility of the one person we're supposed to believe.

2. The conclusion leaves out too much story to make sense. Okay, so I get where they're coming from. They're righting a historical wrong which should vindicate a disenfranchised group and lead to peace. That sounds like a good story. But if you think about it, it doesn't make any sense that Voyager would have this much importance considering the nature of the Kyrian-Vaskan conflict. We're supposed to believe that the Kyrians have been oppressed by the Vaskans for centuries and yet they blame Voyager for it? And exonerating Voyager somehow ends the conflict? I can't even imagine how that works. You'd think the Kyrians who have nursed this grudge for 700 years would still cling to their version of history regardless of what the Doctor says. And, even if the Kyrians finally accepted the truth, how does this lead to them forgiving the Vaskans for oppression? It's like the power structure of the roles of these people are backwards, and Voyager is wedged in somehow because Voyager is the name of the show.

There's a good story in here somewhere, where they executed the concept of a living witness bringing justice to the oppressed after centuries. But, I don't see the story brought to life here. 2.5 Stars.
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William B
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Basics, Part II

Good write up Elliott. Looking back on what I wrote, I see I couldn't think of what they *should* have done on the planet, and your suggestion of going to the "basics" of psychology makes some sense. Obviously what they did planetside is bad either way. It occurs to me that it may have worked better to fold in aspects of Resolutions into Basics 2 - - instead of focusing on a Survival Story for ten minutes and then a Can We Ever Get Along With These Savages? story for a few more, have the setup in part 1 be that they clearly do have enough basic tools to survive on the planet, and so the issue is what happens when they no longer have a ship to run (and thus time to think).

One of the things Part I suggested was that Culluh wanted to punish Janeway for not giving him replicators. The episode was also maybe attempting to show the Voyager crew having to live like the Kazon and the Kazon living like the Voyager crew. Culluh thinks it's all a matter of tech, but Culluh is too stupid to use the tech he's given and squanders any such advantages, whereas Janeway and Chakotay can make peace with other random tribes rather than playing the endless musical chairs of internal war that the Kazon do. It's not just technological superiority that makes the Voyager crew, well, better. I guess that could work, but peace with the Ewoks isn't really all that impressive here and the Kazon are so hopeless that it's not exactly a compliment to come out on top of them.
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

It wasn't meant that way. If somebody had his/her formative years during a life or death struggle with a certain kind of a political/socio-economical system then that might have a significant impact. You certainly know what a touchy subject socialism is in the USA, while in Europe it has an entirely different meaning.

And again I just wanted to say that if you ask a capitalist how his utopia would look like and then a communist how a communist utopia would look like then the version of the communist would probably be far closer to what we are presented with in Star Trek. Not that it is the United Federation of Soviets. :)
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 11:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Seems that way. :-)

I gotta say, though, that saying stuff like that in people's faces would hardly be a good way to "avoid conflict" even if your statements were true.
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 10:52am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Sorry, I must have confused you with somebody else, then. My bad.
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 10:35am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap


"That is pretty clear."

Yes, it is clear that they aren't using money as we know it. But this doesn't tell us what they *are* using. Gene Roddenberry notwithstanding, you cannot base an economy on absolutely nothing.

We'll probably never know for sure how Trek economics really work.

But we *do* know that it does not resemble any present day system. Calling the Federation "communist" is just a ridiculous as calling it "capitalistic". Federation citizens clearly own their houses and their stuff. The government can't just stroll into Picard's vineyard and pick his grapes. Just because the raw resources are unlimited, doesn't mean that the concept of personal ownership ceases to apply.

The interesting question is: What happens in those few cases where resources *are* limited? Who decides which person gets that house with the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower? Does the government decide? If so, on what basis? Can people barter for this position, or otherwise influence their chances?

The answer, of-course, is that we don't know these details. And it is in these details, that the Federation might show a somewhat communist or capitalist bent. But either way, it won't be a direct correspondence to any system that exists to day. That's about the only thing we can be certain about.

"I get it Omicron it is maybe an emotional conflict for you? ..."

Oh, gimme a break.

For one thing, I'm neither a Boomer nor an American nor a person who swallows all the hate mongering cr*p that politicians and the media tries to sell us.

For another thing, I don't see how these 20th century issues (which are already on their way to becoming obsolete in 2020) have any relevance to discussing the world of Star Trek.

So let's stay focused on the actual discussion, alright?
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Top Hat
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 6:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

I always find that discussions of the economics of Star Trek stall easily because they give us so little, and what they do give us is barely consistent. Mind you, someone managed to get a book out of the topic. Haven't read it yet but I will:
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Jason R.
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 6:42am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

"The difference would be that it could be a communist post scarcity society but not a capitalist one."

I think the post scarcity thing is the issue here. A communist society in which the means and ends of production are limitless is akin to a capitalist society where every individual can print infinite money in his basement.

It's not to say that such a society couldn't meet the literal definition of communism; only that to call it communist would be practically meaningless.

Or to put it another way - what good is "collective" ownership of the means of production if every individual in said collective has a magic factory in his living room that can produce literally anything? The "collective" becomes redundant.
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Luke M
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 4:06am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cost of Living

Forget the mud bath, what the hell was that bit about Picard and Co staying on the bridge with no oxygen? "Oh hey Data, we might pass out but just... you know... keep going." It's like zero tension for something that's quite serious!
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Luke M
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 3:54am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cost of Living

I had never seen "Cost of Living" before today and I can kind of tell that in context of what people generally like about TNG, this episode could be considered below par.

But... I think I enjoyed it? I don't know why? TNG has this thing that no other Star Trek series has: a touch of The Love Boat (a terrible, cheesy show from the early 80s) and it's on display here. I think it is kind of integral to the aesthetic of TNG and one of its unique features so I have learned to love it. Maybe the later Star Treks needed it? Stuff like Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery definitely seem to be missing something, maybe the cheese factor is it.

I mean, you tune in for Picard vs the Borg at warp 9 and you get Laxwana Troi teaming up with Alexander Worf. And then they go to some weird 1960s commune. It's so kooky that I was kind of digging it. The silent head in a bubble, the two people arguing, the juggler who eats his balls ... it was nightmarish but perhaps in the 24th century that's the entertainment people need to keep sane. Who knows?

Often the "monster of the week" is boring but even by TNG standards, the metal termites are so half-hearted I genuinely laughed when they first appeared in the corridor behind Picard and Riker to a sinister stab of music. Gasp! Some glitter! Kind of moving! It's a threat! We promise! It was a relief not to have to take it seriously for once. I felt liberated.

I was also struck at how amazing Laxwana's costumes were in this ep (except the first wedding dress) but then reading afterwards was still surprised to see this episode, THIS episode, won two emmys, one for costumes. Technically it's one of the most critically successful episodes of all Star Trek of all time. OF ALL TIME.

And come on, Troi in the mud bath with her gigantic wedding do? It's one of the great little character moments in her entire run. Yeah, Deanna knows how to party.
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 3:38am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

PS: About the money thing:
Ronald D. Moore commented: "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that."
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 3:27am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

"Given the above, what would be the difference between a capitalistic post-scarcity society and a communist one?"
The difference would be that it could be a communist post scarcity society but not a capitalist one.

"By the way, it was never actually established that there is "no monetary system" in the Federation."
To give you a few quotes:
- Kirk answering the question "Don't tell me they don't use money in the 23rd century,...?" Kirk: "Well, we don't."
- Picard: "The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the 24th century."
- Nog commented, "It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement."
That is pretty clear.

I get it Omicron it is maybe an emotional conflict for you? You are a baby boomer, yes? So your entire life politicians, the media and so on told you that socialism is bad/evil but at the same time you like or even love something that promotes societal goals that socialists promote. The post scarcity thing is just a way to present a society that is in many ways a communist utopia(one could call it liberal socialism with a very anti capitalistic edge).

But let's stop this here. Talking with Americans about socialism is like talking with religious people about faith.

You are, of course, welcome to give your final thoughts. But I hope it is alright with you that I'm not going to answer and please don't take that as a sign of disrespect. I'm just very conflict averse right now and these arguments have a tendency to become very heated. Live long and prosper :)
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 2:49am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

The entire point of a post-scarcity society, is that it makes these distinctions irrelevant. Let's recap the basics of such a society:

(1) Energy is dirt cheap (in terms of resources)
(2) Replicators are also dirt cheap, and they can use this energy to create anything you want
(3) Individual freedom and protecting individual rights are both a social norm and the law

Given the above, what would be the difference between a capitalistic post-scarcity society and a communist one?

Not much, I gather.

By the way, it was never actually established that there is "no monetary system" in the Federation. We only know that if some form of Federation currency exists, it plays a minor role in the everyday lives of the average citizen. We know that people are no longer obsessed with wealth... and why would they be? If you can do 99.9% of the things you want to do for free, and if society in general frowns at people stabbing each other in the back in order to gain the other 0.1%, there is no incentive to be greedy.
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Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:05am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Well, your comparison to today's USA is only fitting if you ignore stuff that was already mentioned, like the lack of a monetary system, free education, free food, free (insert many things that are not free in the US).

"If you take the current US economy, make medicine insanely cheap (not because the government pays for it, but because technology and knowledge have developed to make cures cheap) and make land insanely cheap, you can have the above economy without any economic transformation. Depending on how much everything costs in our utopian future, our future government could have far lower taxes that the US currently charges."

medicine in star trek is not cheap, it is free. land in star trek is not cheap, it is also free (and given out by the state). The Federation has no taxes.

I also said that it resembles more a communist utopia than a capitalist one which it clearly does. (Socialism is not communism)

"The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity." (So yeah probably not capitalism)
Jean Luc Picard.

And with this subtle viral marketing for the new Picard series I'm out. :)
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 11:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

The above post was by me, of-course.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 11:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

The alleged socialism isn't even "talk". It's just a skewed interpretation of the general utopian idea of a post-scarcity society.

It is quite clear that the Federation is a society where every person does pretty much whatever they want with their lives. You can open a restaurant like Sisko Sr., or spend your entire life doing mostly nothing like Bashir Sr.

The problem is that people take certain aspects of this vision out of context ("no money", "some sort of central planning") and misunderstand it as an example of socialism. This claim doesn't make any more sense then saying that Trek's general message of compassion and diversity is "leftist".

If you want Trek that actually spouts political propaganda, you have Discovery ("Make the Empire Great Again!"). And from the recent things that Patrick Stewart said about Trump and Brexit, it looks like ST:Picard is going that route as well.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 11:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

Pulaskis "folksy" racism and bigotry was cringe inducing. I know she was meant to "challenge" the rest of the crew but you can do that without utilizing such a totally loathsome character.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Rocks and Shoals

This was my favourite section of the arc, no doubt. Everything on display here is top-notch.

It's visually stunning, to start off with. The extreme harsh daylight of the setting makes everything feel more threatening. The feeling of being slowly boiled alive hangs over the whole show. It's a hell of a directorial job in general -- back on Terok Nor, we've got the shots of Kira having to wake up and look herself in the eye every day, and that really drives home how soul-crushing her predicament is.

Intense moments here. Vedek Yassim hangs herself on the Promenade; Starfleet puts the Jem'Hadar to the slaughter. This is extremely weighty subject matter on both sides, and aptly-handled -- with a hell of a lot of moral complexity in both.

Kira's plot shows how easy it is to get caught up in day-to-day life in a situation like this -- to lose track of the bigger picture. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, noticing no change when the heat's ramping up bit-by-bit. It's an insidious display of Dominion technique. It'll take something drastic before she can realise, and Yassim is the one to provide that -- it's just as much a shock to Kira as it is to the audience, and it's the shock she needs.

The final showdown between Starfleet and the Jem'Hadar is difficult to assess from a moral perspective. At what point does this stop being combat and start being a massacre? Their opponents aren't defenceless, and do manage to cause one Starfleet death in the end, but it's so heavily weighted in Starfleet's favour. What matters more is the purpose of the assault: Keevan's sending them into battle purely to have them die, with Starfleet as the executioners.

Sisko talking it out with the Jem'Hadar changes the nature of the situation. He wants an option other than life or death, but for the Jem'Hadar, there's no such thing. We know how they see things: they are dead, and victory is life. So to them, it's a simple matter. If there's no chance of victory, there's no chance at life. They simply stay dead. And they cannot/will not diverge from that. So Sisko is forced to play by their life-and-death rules.

Effective use is made of the individual characters on Starfleet's side; the close-ups during the massacre show us the different perspectives. Seasoned soldier O'Brien has lived through more than enough death in his life already; young cadet Nog has never had to see or do anything like this before. Garak, with no moral compunctions, is grimly relieved to get the dirty job done; Sisko has to agree with Garak despite wishing it could be otherwise. He gives the order; he bears that guilt.

Special mention to the early scene between Garak and Nog, just before they're caught by the Jem'Hadar. Empok Nor was Nog's most brutal Starfleet experience before now, and it's good to see he hasn't forgotten it... or come to trust Garak again. Garak might be on Starfleet's side for the purposes of this arc -- participating in the group scenes, joking with the others, taking his place on the Defiant -- but they do well to give us reminders that he's not one of them. Leaves just that little bit more tension in there.
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Reggie p
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

Why is it in yesterday's Enterprise the 3 battle cruisers are bird of pray.
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Sarjenka's Brother
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Heroes and Demons

The holodecks should be shut down as long as Neelix is cooking in the kitchen. 'Nuff said on that.

Voyager has already made a cliche of energy searches revealing new life forms, just 12 shows in.

A few lines of clever dialogue and nice performance from the Doctor just can't salvage a bad idea, but do make it go down much more smoothly.

This would have been a good time for an aftermath episode from the previous episode -- menace of another sort from a different Kazon faction.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Again, all the socialism is really just talk. There isn't any showing that the universe actually works that way.

From what we actually see of the economy:

-The Federation can build military/scientific ships and bases
-People have family vineyards and personal restaurants, works of art and historical artifacts (we don't see people buying and selling in the Federation after TOS, but people definitely give objects as presents)
-In addition to scientists, engineers, and artists, there are people who have mundane jobs, like working at bars and restaurants.
-Great diseases that wipe out planets can generally be eradicated in a week by one doctor with a good computer and lab
-There seems to be a never ending supply of planets to move to after relatively easy terraforming (think of the American West or Australia in the 19th century with unlimited land without pesky natives to bother you).

If you take the current US economy, make medicine insanely cheap (not because the government pays for it, but because technology and knowledge have developed to make cures cheap) and make land insanely cheap, you can have the above economy without any economic transformation. Depending on how much everything costs in our utopian future, our future government could have far lower taxes that the US currently charges.

Anyone "poor" can find a spot in an idyllic community on some new planet. They wouldn't be wealthy, which in this future would probably be equated with owning unique items: a historical artifact, a great work of art, a house in the Latin Quarter in Paris. But even the "poor" could have replicas of these things (well, they couldn't replicate the "neighbors" in the Latin Quarter, but they could build an identical house).

So, yes, the writers can have the characters talk about the Federation being "socialist" all they like, but if you watch the series they haven't actually shown that the economy is different. They certainly provide no argument that socialism is more likely than capitalism to lead to the technological breakthroughs could produce the Star Trek economy.

I said Star Trek had an intrinsic message: people from different background can work together. Going over this again, I should add a 2nd intrinsic message: technological advancement is great! Despite some characters occasionally praising the old ways (Sisko, McCoy), the whole future is shown to be powered by technological advancement.

Socialism isn't intrinsic to the Star Trek universe. It's just not shown onscreen as something real or necessary to their future.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

I'll come clean and admit that I'm skipping around a very tiny bit, largely based on what type of episode I'm in the mood for -- the result being that I watched 'Waltz' and then this back to back.

They make for an interesting comparison: hallucinations/visions experienced in a character's most vulnerable moments. The crucial difference is that Dukat's in the middle of a crisis of the ego, which his imagined characters serve only to attack or inflate. Sisko's crisis is far beyond just him: it's the entire situation around him. Both Bens find themselves at the mercy of the times they're in; Benny Russell fights for his dream, inspiring Benjamin Sisko to do the same.

At the beginning, before we topple headfirst into the 1950s, Sisko's existence as The Sisko We Know is in danger. What follows is a metafictional plea, making the case for why our world and his world both *need* Captain Sisko. Makes the case for representation in general, as something worth fighting for -- making sure that *everyone* gets all the benefits that fiction's potential can bring. Not just white people on the moon.

The acting in Benny's breakdown scene seems to be what makes or breaks this for a lot of people. I'm on the side of "makes", for what it's worth. It's so rare to see such absolute messy despair, unfiltered and unsanitised by the TV screen. I've been there, I've seen it in myself, and I see it in him.

In modern terms, Pabst is the "I'm not racist, but..." character. There's always the limit. In somewhat more contemporary terms (to the 1950s), he embodies the "white moderate". Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963 sums up this kind of person:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

This fits Pabst perfectly. Not, say, *disapproving* of what Benny wrote... but not wanting any tension, not wanting to play even a small role in facilitating what a black man has to say for fear of the upset it might cause. What King said about a "more convenient time" is something Pabst says directly: "stick it in a drawer for fifty years or however long it takes the human race to become colour-blind". It also fits some of the tensions we've seen with Odo: "order" rather than "justice". (And to go further on that theme, 'Rocks and Shoals' had Kira slowly come to realise she was becoming the person to say "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action".)

To go further with parallels to the characters of Deep Space Nine: Mal a few comments up makes good comparisons. I'll add something of my own about newsboy Nog -- in the minute or so he appears, he spills out his all his "badass war hero" fantasies, and... yeah, can't help worrying that this is what Nog's got going on as well. I think Weyoun as half of the racist cop duo is a bit miscast though: it doesn't really say anything about his character other than "villain" and "in a position of power, with the potential to hurt Sisko". Given that Weyoun's less violent and more just "middle manager", it'd probably work better as someone like Damar.

- Seeing all the black characters together in the café made me realise how *almost* everyone on this show played by a black actor is there because they're "attached to" Sisko. There's Sisko himself, Sisko's girlfriend, Sisko's son, Sisko's dad... And Then There's Worf.
- (speaking of which, Worf in full Klingon armour popping up to say "catch the game last night" -- I found that strangely hilarious)
- Man it feels weird to have Kasidy back after everything that's happened. Not even a mention of her between 'Rapture' and this? And people still don't care about her working for the Maquis? I guess no one really cares about the Maquis any more.
- Hearing the N-word on Star Trek *really* caught me off guard. Said by Fake Jake, though? Ehh... I've liked Cirroc Lofton, but he's kiiind of a weak link here.
- Can I just say how beautifully done this is, in general? It's a hell of a period piece, and every intercut between the "dreamer" and the "dream" (especially when Benny and Cassie are dancing) was incredible. Intentionally jarring at times, smoothly disorientating at others.
- Avery Brooks directing *and* playing the focal character. There's clearly been a hell of a lot of work and passion put into this from him. Hell of a testament to it.
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Sarjenka's Brother
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: State of Flux

Very good episode for all the reasons Jammer and other fans of the episode have well-stated.

Martha Hackett is wonderful. This episode shows what "Voyager" could have been if the writers/producers had been allowed to take the show in more of a stronger story arc direction.

Two more random things: I think "Voyager" has the best theme music and intro. It's also the most visually appealing of all Treks to me.
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Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

Two stars for this shit, are you kidding Jammer? Why are you so scared to give one star OR LESS for utter crap?
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Jamie Mann
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship


That's fair - I hope I'm managing a balance between being a Grumpy Old Git and providing reasoned explanations for my opinions!
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