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Dusty
Sat, Dec 31, 2016, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Prey

"I will not comply."

If I had to choose a most memorable line or moment from Voyager, that would be it. Janeway has a point when she says that the ability to show compassion, even in wartime, is part of being human. I agree with her on principle, and this would be the ideal opportunity to teach Seven of Nine that lesson...

...IF a bunch of Hirogen ships weren't coming to destroy them unless they got their prey back. But the Hirogen are coming, and we have no reason to believe they won't carry out their threat, and therefore this is neither the time nor the place for charity. Seven is absolutely correct in her assessment. She goes directly against orders by sacrificing the invader, but in doing so she saves the ship and the crew. Janeway didn't have a third party threatening to kill her if she saved the wounded Cardassian, so what gives her the right to preach to Seven about humanity in this situation? And in such a patronizing manner, too. As Seven observes, "a lesson in compassion will do me little good if I am dead."

'Prey' is a very strong, intelligently written episode of Voyager. It uses the Hirogen more effectively than anywhere else (thank you, Tony Todd) and continues a minor story arc from 'Scorpion'. If these standards had been applied to the rest of the series it could have been something truly special. Three and a half stars is about right.
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Dusty
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Revulsion

I wouldn't call an abused hologram going insane and killing his whole crew "light." But it's not a great episode by any means. Dejaren's craziness is telegraphed from a mile away; in the teaser, really, because what other hologram acts and talks like that? Leland Orser turns in a good performance but they should have had him dial it back and, you know, maybe not done the scene where he's dragging a bloody corpse across the floor. The added suspense of us not being sure what's wrong with this character would have made for a stronger episode.

The Harry and Seven scenes were surprisingly good, actually. And the Harry and Paris scene, and hell, even the Harry and Chakotay scenes weren't bad. That's rare. Seven's outfits, especially this early one, were a slap in the face to Jeri Ryan and the viewers. "LOOK SEE?! LOOK SEE?! Borgg chik iz teh HOTTORZZZZ111! Plz 4 teh love of Grod watch r show!!!" That is the level of thought that went into this. Lowest common denominator. Ryan's acting, however, is golden. This is like a lot of Voyager episodes: potentially great, but settles for average.
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Dusty
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 1:18am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Nemesis

This one misses the mark. The plot holds almost no interest for me and the aliens' dialect is downright goofy. I knew there was some kind of brainwashing or manipulation involved but it was hard to care. Seeing a nice guy like Chakotay get swept up in violence again was kind of interesting, but I didn't enjoy anything else about this. It was just mind-numbing and unpleasant. Season 4 didn't really start to take off until 'Revulsion.'
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Dusty
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Seventh Season Recap

Voyager is a show that I found somewhat appealing in my early teens because of the action and easily understood plots, but even then I tired of the overheated previews and watched it just for a year or two (Seasons 4-5, I think) before moving on. There was nothing in it that really challenged me or commanded my attention, and by the time Dwayne Johnson was guest-starring to fight a futuristic MMA match with Seven I had to roll my eyes. Now that I watch it as an adult, I can see why I lost interest.

1. Overuse of (and over-reliance on) things that I now recognize as signature tropes of ST: technobabble, time travel, fun with DNA, and the reset button. The writing was sometimes brilliant, but more often than not they settled for transparently episodic thumb-twiddling. Voyager felt more like a network product than an artistic vision, and the writers seemed to think almost every week was sweeps week where they had to pull some contrived stunt to grab the viewers' attention. After a while you just go numb and start ignoring it altogether.

2. I found most of the characters unappealing. Kim is too shallow and frivolous to be taken seriously. Paris is facile and immature. Chakotay serves no definite purpose. Janeway is a self-righteous, idealized creation that I don't think has aged very well since the 90s. Neelix is even more of that era as the pervasive "comic relief" character whom no one seems to find amusing. Whereas B'Elanna is all TOO believable a character to a 2010s observer: insecure, prickly, and disagreeable. Seven, the Doctor, Tuvok, and Kes are the only main cast members I find both likeable and engaging.

3. It never respected its own premise or utilized it to the fullest. Voyager just wanted to be TNG with more bells and whistles, and had the disconcerting effect of feeling both too retro and too modern, lacking a sense of self or a coherent central philosophy. That this never really changed in seven seasons explains why I grew out of the show in only a few years and rarely watch it now.
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Dusty
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 4:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

I admit that Star Trek + classic alien abduction story is an interesting idea, but the execution falls flat. The episode totally lost me in the teaser and I had no idea what it was supposed to be about until 15 or 20 minutes in. The holodeck and alien science lab scenes were pretty spooky, but to get there I had to sit through uninspiring technobabble and some Data/Geordi scenes that didn't fit. The premise had potential and the acting was good, but ultimately 'Schisms' doesn't quite work for me.
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Dusty
Sun, Aug 21, 2016, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

A forgettable muddle for the most part. The Acamarian/Gatherer culture war doesn't interest me much, and out of the characters involved--poor actors all--only Brull and Yuta leave any sort of impression; as Jammer points out Brull did get to be sort of likeable before succumbing to irrelevance, and I find Yuta to be both exceptionally attractive and a rather tragic figure, the last casualty of the "old ways." I liked the fake beam-out trick Riker used on the Gatherers, countering an ambush with another ambush. His nonstop flirting got on my nerves but the scenes with him and Yuta were the best. Two stars is about right for this one.
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Dusty
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Booby Trap

This is one of my favorite TNG episodes. I enjoy every minute of it. Normally I don't like Trek romances or heavy technobabble; Booby Trap made both of these work and really helped me identify with Geordi. I am most fascinated by the ambiguous reality of "Leah" and how Geordi responds to her, but the main plot also has a good deal of suspense and keeps me interested throughout.

I don't think the episode is telling us nerds can't or shouldn't have relationships with real women. On the contrary, I think the point is that technology is not, and can't be, a substitute for living people. Sustainable relationships require us to have not only common interests but a common nature.
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Dusty
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 11:15am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

Well, this was...different. As Trek murder mysteries go I prefer 'Field of Fire', due in part to the superior plot but also due to me being an Ezri fan. I care about her in that episode because her character is so vulnerable, impressionable and immediate...whereas I still can't get a handle on Beverly. Who exactly is she supposed to be and why should I care about her? Even her profession is elusive here. She's a doctor moonlighting as a "scientific diplomat" moonlighting as a homicide detective.

But despite Beverly herself, a laundry list of plot contrivances, and Guinan's nonexistent tennis elbow...I still enjoyed this episode. Maybe because it resembles Murder, She Wrote and Jo'Bril was pretty interesting for a one-off character. Even his makeup was great.
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Dusty
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 10:30am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

Still one of my favorites two years later. Several moments really stand out to me, for better or worse:
* "Nice melon." Rene Auberjonois is so good an actor that he could infuse the most basic lines with Odo's trademark gruffness and sarcasm.
* "NOOOO." Some actors just can't pull off the "NO" thing and we can safely add Nicole de Boer to that list. But I like most of her scenes here and her impatience with Joran seems natural.
* "How can anyone be so happy with such unattractive children?" Joran emerges as an arrogant, cynical, even sociopathic part of Ezri that I find uniquely entertaining in Trek.
* EZRI: "...Maybe I overreacted."
SISKO: "I'd say so." Speaking of Sisko, he was above average here; I don't think he over-emoted even once.
* EZRI: "You want me to kill someone? How about I start with you?!"
JORAN: "That's the spirit."
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Dusty
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

Poor action scenes, alien characters that don't really click, and not a very inspired ending. But it scared the hell out of me (TNG does that more than any other ST series) and I like that it gave Riker something compelling to do. Every moment of it engaged me with one brief exception: Riker shouting "NO!" Some actors just can't pull that off very well.

I agree with what Lisana said about Data. Brent Spiner not only plays a brilliant android, here he plays a brilliant android who plays a corrupt and menacing psychiatrist. That's really impressive.
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Dusty
Mon, Mar 21, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

I wasn't expecting much from this but it was surprisingly okay. I ended up caring about the Exocomps and understanding Data's position, even if I didn't really agree with it. Not really thrilling or memorable, but solid.
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Dusty
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 6:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

Not deserving of the hate it gets here, but still a pretty weak outing. Jake Sisko and a lot of shaky young actors can't hold an entire episode together, and the whole premise really strains credulity. Only Nog and Dorian (the moon girl) were of any interest.

The surprise isn't that these kids were destroyed, it's that they survived out there as long as they did. Red Squad seem to be a cadre of privileged "elite" cadets who think they're really special and can do anything. But the truth is, their entitlement and arrogance makes them a liability to themselves and the Federation. We saw that plainly here, and in Homefront and Paradise Lost as well. That's what this episode is about. Not fascism.
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Dusty
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

I instantly dislike Solok, but not for the reasons I'm supposed to. More like "this cold, arrogant racist is supposed to be a Vulcan?!" Since when is Vulcan pride based in anything but the functionality of their own logic-based society? It's not about their species being superior; it's about having a system that works for them and naturally they want to promote it. Sisko claiming that Vulcans lack heart is almost as bad. This series really didn't know what to do with Vulcans, it seems. Only a few of them, such as Sakonna in Season 2, seemed authentic.

Racial bollocks aside, this episode worked okay when it focused on baseball. Odo was great as the umpire, Ezri's backflip off the wall was cool (must've been channeling Emony there), and it was reasonable that the DS9 crew lost badly but still gained something from the experience. I won't go back to it often, but it's a decent filler episode.
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Dusty
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Time's Orphan

Endings like this bother me. Not quite as bad a cop-out as Sons of Mogh, but close.

The actress who played the older Molly was very good, though. It was mainly her performance that kept my attention. I still couldn't bring myself to like Keiko, but I was...neutral. She was a mother concerned about her child and played that part fairly well, without pushing O'Brien away. That was an improvement.
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Dusty
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 4:18am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: The Reckoning

The Emissary/Bajoran religion stuff was always the least interesting part of DS9 and that didn't change here. Sisko was already an important figure in StarFleet; he didn't have to be a demigod too. I'll take Winn and Bareil and their religious politics, because that at least was realistic. But the stuff about Sisko having visions and the Prophets talking to him just got ridiculous after a while.
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Dusty
Sun, Nov 29, 2015, 7:58am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night

You know an episode is great when the inclusion of time travel seems not only unimportant, but almost incidental. This is a deep and harrowing journey for Kira--to the past, yes, but more importantly to the truth. Most episodes about Kira are outstanding; episodes depicting the Occupation, even more so. This one is both.

I understand Meru. Everything. She had one opportunity to get out of that hell and have her family taken care of at the same time, and she accepted it. As Kira said that doesn't make it right--not at all. But Kira did benefit from this arrangement as a child, however little. Perhaps that's why an increasingly unhinged Dukat finally revealed this to her. Out of some twisted desire for her respect and gratitude (which he will never have).

Clearly Dukat was a highly polished manipulator even a generation ago, with his good cop/bad act with Basso and calculated winning over of Meru. One of my favorite episodes.
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Dusty
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Who Mourns for Morn?

This one was okay. I couldn't really get into it, though. Morn doesn't do anything for me and while I like Quark a lot, seeing him in "fluff" episodes where he tries to get his hands on a fortune is just getting old.
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Dusty
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 6:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

It was all right. Not my favorite "Trek in 20th century" episode, but I found it fairly enjoyable. I enjoyed the novelty of seeing actors like Rene and Armin out of makeup inhabiting totally different characters. But it raises a lot of questions that are never answered.

Much is made of the Prophets in this one, but if this is another of Sisko's visions (or even a flashback to a previous life), what is its relevance to the story of DS9? Why do Sisko and the audience need to see this? It's a thought-provoking diversion, but plot-wise it has no payoff other than Sisko resolving to fulfill his role, and who doubted that he would? What the writers really wanted to talk about was 1950s racism in writing and general society. They (and Avery Brooks especially) wanted to make a statement. DS9's loyal viewing audience ensured that it would be seen, and they gambled--successfully--on the emotional impact it would leave on 1990s audiences. If it fails to leave that impact, the entire episode begins to collapse.

Obviously it left that impact on some viewers more than others. Did it impact me? Yes, but only to a point. I care a lot about social issues, but at the end of the day I'm still watching this for entertainment. If this episode had more relevance to the world of DS9 itself, I might call it great. As it is, Brian S' criticisms above are completely (and devastatingly) accurate. Ambitious but flawed.
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Dusty
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: One Little Ship

I didn't have high hopes after seeing the title and the premise, but this one really surprised me. It's a very solid episode of action/comedy with some convincing visual effects and good production values; the giant circuit relay O'Brien and Bashir beamed onto was a great set. It's funny, but the stakes are serious, and fans who watch purely for the ongoing storyline will enjoy the growing tension between Alpha and Gamma Jem'Hadar.

The finale was far more thrilling than I expected, with a very well done fight scene. I enjoyed every minute. I'm with Jammer: 3 stars.
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Dusty
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 5:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Honor Among Thieves

I liked it. True, it's hard to believe that Starfleet Intelligence would turn to a guy like O'Brien for something like this. Since when does he have the skill set to be an undercover agent? At the very least, he's too straight-laced and honorable for that sort of work--which the episode didn't hesitate to confirm. He was unable to gain someone's trust and then betray them as the assignment called for, even though that someone was a criminal and a murderer.

But when I see O'Brien and Bilby onscreen together, it doesn't matter so much. Their performances are strong enough to carry the entire thing. Yanks is right; in this case, good acting holds together a shaky story and make it an enjoyable hour of Trek. Still, I hope more is made of the Dominion/Orion connection to give this episode more long-term relevance.
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Dusty
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 9:42am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Rascals

I can forgive the nonsense about how the transporters turned Picard, Keiko, Guinan and Ro into children. What I can't forgive is the idea that several Ferengi with two stolen Klingon ships could successfully hijack the Enterprise. What a joke and a half. The fact that they act even dumber than usual and are easily foiled by 12-year-olds doesn't help matters.

That aside, the stuff with kid Picard and company was okay. Kid Ro's actress was the weakest, partly because she didn't have an established adult character to imitate. (And yet, she had the best story of the four of them.) Keiko wasn't great, but she at least argues with O'Brien much like the adult Keiko when he frets about having a 12-year-old wife--an issue that I'm honestly surprised the episode even touched. Kid Picard did an okay job, though he was distractingly tall and his accent was the best thing going for him. And kid Guinan was easily the best of the lot because she sounded just like adult Guinan.

Not much of a TNG episode, but not terrible.

@ microfish: I agree. It would have been interesting if Ro chose to remain a child, and the ending actually doesn't rule out that possibility.
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Dusty
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 6:31am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Face of the Enemy

Unbelievable episode. For 40 minutes, with a Romulan face, Deanna Troi is the most intriguing character on TNG. At first I wondered how she could possibly pull off the ruse without having exhaustive knowledge of Romulan language and culture. But it makes for such a great story that I could easily suspend disbelief.

For much of Marina Sirtis' Star Trek run, she seemed to have only a passing interest in the character she played. I can't blame her; better actresses would have struggled to inject depth into Troi's eye-candy wardrobe, gauzy shrink routine, and empathic abilities that wavered between formidable and useless (depending on their convenience to the plot). But in this episode, packed into a funny costume and layers of makeup, Sirtis came alive. A truly poor actress might have faltered worse than usual in that position. But much like Jennifer Lien in Voyager's "Warlord", she delivers.

And as Sirtis embraces her new role, so does the character of Troi embrace her disguise as Major Rakal. Driven by necessity and the hope of aiding the dissidents, Troi becomes utterly convincing as a Tal Shiar operative: cold, authoritarian, secretive, and deadly. For that brief moment when she loses patience with N'Vek and threatens to betray him to the captain (a remarkable Carolyn Seymour), she appears truly Romulan, and it's chilling. I was enthralled from start to finish.

Now to watch "The Face of the Enemy" again, and compare it with "Second Skin."
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Dusty
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 2:29am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

A very effective episode. The Clown, as someone else said, is campy and annoying--but not so much that one can't appreciate what he's SUPPOSED to be: a reprehensible creation, as anything born of blind fear would be, and a very unique villain. The episode overcomes uneven mood and execution with a brilliant ending. I like this one about as much as Jammer does.
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Dusty
Sat, Jan 31, 2015, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: The Voyager Conspiracy

Excuse the typos...stuck -> stick, minded -> mended, and "what the tractor beam in the picture really was."
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Dusty
Sat, Jan 31, 2015, 4:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: The Voyager Conspiracy

Very interesting, an original idea, impressive use of Continuity that I wish we saw more of on Voyager...but still, what the hell?

The episode had an intriguing first half, with Seven concocting a farfetched but not totally implausible theory about Starfleet directing Janeway to establish a military presence in the Delta Quadrant. As Stephen points out, Chakotay has been betrayed before and I think it's in character for him to be just a little suspicious--enough to ask B'Elanna to delay the mission until he can gather more information.

Everything is going fine so far. It's in the next scene, where Seven then summons Janeway to the lab and tells her a totally different conspiracy theory implicating the Maquis--that this thing completely DERAILS. All of a sudden it's a story about Seven's cortical implant malfunctioning and how her drive to make order out of chaos has her coming up with illogical theories. It's all downhill from there.

What they should have done, IMO, is keep it simple and stuck to the Starfleet theory, have Chaoktay and B'Elanna get suspicious to the point of confronting Janeway, and then sort out the whole thing by convincing Seven she had made a very human mistake: information overload = desperate attempt to make order from chaos = making increasingly illogical connections between disparate facts on less and less evidence. No "cortical implant" technobabble necessary. And above all, they should have thought to explain where the tractor beam in the picture really was and where it came from. (How do you fail to tie up a loose end like that??)

By needlessly complicating the story, they force another contrived resolution and the rift between Chakotay and Janeway is minded before it even happens. It would be almost comical if it didn't represent such a lost opportunity. Two stars for the first half, zero for the second.
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