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Neil
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: When it Rains...

Actually, I've come to see in Garak an extremely cold and ruthless side. I think he would be quite ready to cooperate with anyone if it made sense tactically. I think that would have been lesson #1 growing up in the house of the Obsidian Order.

Kira is prepared to work with Damarr, I think it was harder for her than it was for Garak.

But I also find it absurd that the Cardassian rebels would need Kira's assistance. Euqally absurd of the idea that one person could come in and train and deploy a rebel force with thousands of troops.

We never see any troops in this show; even in the seige of AR-558 we see a dozen or so footsoldiers at the most. But we hear things like the Cardassians losing 500,000 soldiers on that moon that finally proved the last straw for Damarr.

Obviously Trek doesn't have the budget to conjure up the effects necessary to show a 500,000 strong army in action, or a battle with than many on each side. But they should never have mentioned those sorts of numbers when all we ever see is the same 5 or 6 people doing *everything* themselves.

With so much being done in space, and the way a couple of battlecruisers can secure an entire solar system, they really should have stayed away from talking about footsoldiers at all. It's somehow ruined the story of the dominion war for me that they try and imply there are millions of troops involved on each side.

As for the question of the Federation committing genocide - I don't see it as quite the moral quandary that Jammer does. Normally when you talk of genocide, it's abhorrent because it implies that 99% of the people killed are innocent civilians. But if you just spoke of killing all the armed forces, it becomes much less troublesome.

Well, the dominion is united - every single founder is an active participant in the fight against the alpha quadrant. In my opinion the entire founder population might be just one sentient individual anyway.

Against this kind of enemy, I think in a desperate situation like this, the idea of 'genocide' being morally wrong doesn't carry the same weight as it does in a normal country-at-war situation.

I think it's actually a pretty reasonable response, in that it could easily save millions or billions of lives if it defeats the founders a few years early, while killing only known combatants.
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Neil
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Strange Bedfellows

The idea of Gul Dukat offering up his body to Kai Wynn as part of the 'Guide' package sent a shiver up my spine that lasted for twenty minutes.

And when she said 'the man who shares my bed', I almost threw up. I'll say one thing for Dukat; he's got a strong stomach.

He's also back to his full operatic bombastic self by the end of the episode - how Kai Winn hasn't yet realised who he is, is extremely difficult to believe.

Unfortunately for the Breen, their masks make them look exactly like the K9 robot dog from the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, and now of the Sarah Adventures on the BBC. And I mean *exactly* like the dog's head.

So they just look like walking canines to me. Not very threatening.
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Neil
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: 'Til Death Do Us Part

Sisko behaves so childishly in this episode it's difficult to believe; but it's not necessarily out of character.

The very previous time he ignored a prophet warning, Jadzia was killed, the wormhole was locked shut, and he had to go to earth for 3 months until he discovered the Emissary's Orb and reopened the wormhole.

Does that mean nothing to him just because he thinks he loves Casidy? This is the woman who was treacherous enough to smuggle supplies to the Maquis back when Sisko hated them to the point of obsession. She served 6 months in jail for that, and now this idiot wants to marry her.

Wouldn't starfleet have something to say about him marrying a convicted criminal and supplier to the Maquis, and in fant she's marrying the guy who arrested her? I would have expected that he would have to resign his commission before being allowed to do that.

But ignoring the prophet's warning is much worse. It's actually impossible to believe that the guy who blamed himself for Jadzia's death, because he ignored a Prophet warning before, would be so feeble-minded as to gleefully do the same thing again. If it were me, I would assume that the Prophet meant that Kasidy would die somehow, that's what leads to his perpetual sorrow.

Bah, it's just complete bullshit.

Worf is really pissing me off, too, with his petty jealousy and paranoia about Dax loving someone else. I am pretty sure a honour-obsessed Klingon would just kill her if he really thought she was getting it on with Bashir. But he seems to have reconciled her existence and now seems to have decided to continue his relationship with Jadzia by hooking up with Ezri, in the process dishonouring Jadzia and the supposed effort he went to to get her into sto-vo-kor, while also dishonouring Ezri by completely ignoring her individuality as a person, and just using her to get at what's left of Jadzia.

Worf is not only jealous like a child, but also a real jerk with the way he's using Ezri now. I think he actually thinks he has officially resumed right where he left off with Jadzia, and poor Ezri doesn't have any idea that he's decided this.

I do like how this episode reveals what a true bitch Kai Wynn is; she gets to talk with the prophets once (and I'm sure they are paghwraiths) and she has completely forgotten about the emissary and instead will do whatever Dukat tells her to... especially if it undermines Sisko along the way.

You would need the IQ of a spoon to not notice that it's Gul Dukat with a fake nose. His voice is identical.
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Neil
Thu, Feb 3, 2011, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Chimera

Yeah.. planetary soup. I actually believe that the founders is just a single being. The 'baby' changelings that were sent out into space were actually just fragments of the whole thing, somehow stripped of their knowledge of themselves.

When Odo first meets the founders (and every time after that when the female is teaching him about the great link) he tries to get an idea of how many there are, and her answer is evasive enough to ring the alarm bells. She says things like 'Sometimes we are as one, sometimes we are many; it depends on how you look at it'.

That is classic cultish diversion to avoid the truth - once you are reunited with the great link, Odo, you won't have your own thoughts or personality any more. It's a single creature, capable of spiltting itself up almost infinitely, but when a piece if integrated back into the 'whole', it cases to be separate.

Bear in mind I've never read of watched any material or DVD commentary that might shed light on what the writers of the show meant. I'm just taking the show as I see it, and the singularity of the founder (not plural) seems pretty clear to me.

This theory has some holes in it. If it splits itself into 100 equal parts... which one is the 'real' founder?

I think it just knows innately which part is 'itself' and which parts are formerly 'itself'. Pretty much the same as the way our consciousness just 'knows' that I am me.

Anyone actually agree with me about this?

I think Odo was actually pretty terrified of losing his uniqueness if he joined the founder fulltime, but it wasn't shown in the series so it's probably just me making shit up to amuse myself.
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Neil
Thu, Feb 3, 2011, 1:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Chimera

@Elliot:

OK, so that explains it. I guess they are telling us that the chengelings sent in as 'spies' were much much older than herself, and more skillful too.Seesa a bit weird because she seems to be the leader, but I' not going to quibble about that. AS a longtime Trek fan I only need the barest hint of an explanation to satisfy my nitpickiness.

I've skipped a few episodes on this run through the series, but only the fluff and inconsequential ones. I was pretty sure I hadn't missed anything with founders in it but I was probably distracted by email or something.

Thanks anyway
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Neil
Thu, Feb 3, 2011, 12:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Chimera

Sorry, I seem to repeat myself for a large chunk of that last post. Can't edit it, so you have to live with it. I think it's pretty obvious what my point is, anyway.
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Neil
Thu, Feb 3, 2011, 12:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Chimera

This episode was a bit annoying because Laas was such an a-hole, but it did raise a neat idea about love, as Nic points out: Changelings could never feel love as we do, despite claiming it was a pale imitation of the great link. Changelings can not, apparently, choose to link just between two of them and exclude the rest of the population.

So a key part of humanoid love is the idea that it's an intimate connection between just two people and it's like a secret you have that you don't have to share with anyone else.

Unfortunately the episode was almost ruined by the one line of dialog where Odo and Laas agree about the difficulty of emulating humanoid faces. It reminded me of the glaring inconsistency they created when they had changelings take over the positions of Bashir, Admiral Ross, and Martok. These clones were perfect in every respect yet they still persist with the idea that changelings can't 'do' human skin in detail.

How does this sort of thing get through everyone and end up as part of the script? Did I miss a bit of technobabble somewhere that explained this?

I think they could have explained it by saying the replacements *were* actual clones that they made using DNA from the source person. This would make sense because they have already established both DNA & cloning expertise, and the ability to accelerate clone growth so they reach maturity in a couple of weeks.

But I distinctly remember these replacements acting as changelings at the time they were 'caught' (except for Bashir) so the writers shot themselves in the foot.

This show already suffers from implausability, just because of the science stuff they can do which would be impossible as we currently understand the physical universe.

They have also formed bad habits that make the audience work even harder to suspend disbelief, like the random way that the deflector seems to be this magical device than can emit streams of magical particles that can apparently do almost anything that is required in order to wrap up the plot.

But on top of this, from time to time they let slip something like this changeling issue with skin detail that finally tips the scales and makes it impossible to take seriously any more.

Luckily that only last for a few minutes and I soon forget. But it really sucks.

It sucks first because it's not necessary. I can think of dozens of ways to explain their ability to insert 'replacement' humanoids as spies. The easiest is to say that they are clones, created by taking the DNA of a Vorta and then adding the necessary bits to make it look and act like the target. This is beleivable because we already know they can do this stuff.

But I've seen these spy characters act like changelings when they get found out, so the clone excuse can't be used.

Or, they could simply tell us that it takes a lot more skill to perfectly do humans than Odo is capable of, because he is self-taught. They could then show how Odo improves over time, and eventually he could not have to do 2 hours of makeup every morning. This explanation would have been easy too, but they have screwed up again by showing the female founder have the same crude facial features while obviously being a very experienced shapeshifter.

Why do the writers do this to themselves? Did I miss a bit of technobabble that explained how the spies can perfectly imitate human skin and hair?

Surely I must have missed the explanation, it's almost impossible to believe such a glaring contradiction could be left hanging in the air like the most stinky fart ever, while everyone just stands there breathing it in, making no effort to move away or anything.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Tears of the Prophets

Well, first let me admit I never liked Jadzia - I don't really know why but I'm not sorry she's gone at all.

The serious flaw in this episode was Sisko choosing to go on the mission instead of staying on the station. After all he had been through with the prophets, had they ever lied to him? Especially after he basically failed them in 'the reckoning', I was waiting for him to tell the Admiral 'Then I choose to be Emissary' when he was given an ultimatum.

After all, he had seen the Defiant go off on missions without him dozens of times already, and did he actually *do* anything during this mission? He didn't need to be there at all.

After all the time we've spent seeing Sisko gradually coming to accept that the prophets are 100% real and he is the genuine Emissary, his choice here was completely against character.

People saying that he wouldn't have prevented Dax's death if he had been there anyway - well we don't really know. He might have accompanied Dax to her first Orb experience to guide her, he might have been standing behind Dukat when he transported in, he might have shot him right then with a phaser and sent the pag-wraith running away... who knows?

I think we have to take at face value the idea that the prophets simply knew that if he stayed, Dukat would have been prevented from killing the orbs like he did.

Also note that the Orbs were the important thing. The prophets didn't care about Dax getting killed. They needed Sisko there to stop the pag-wraith getting into the Orbs and then (somehow) closing up the wormhole.

Actually, the whole idea of the wraith just getting into the Orb, and from there somehow killing the other Orbs and then closing the wormhole for good seemed like a shortcut. They could have spent more time creating a dramatic battle involving Dukat as the Wraith's physical form.

Anyway, I loved the final scene between Weyoun, Damar and the hilariously mad Dukat at the end - every time Dukat reveals another way in which he has won a major victory, both Weyoun and Damar shout 'Well, so what?' in sheer horror...

Dukat genuinely doesn't seem to notice that nobody else gives a crap about the pain he's dealt to both Bajor and Sisko.

It was absolutely hilarious and I hope Weyoun skins Dukat alive when he returns 'triumphant' to Cardassia.

I guess the writers had to get the wormhole closed, and Dax killed somehow, and it was easiest to let Sisko go off against all instinct and fail to protect the prophets.

One final whine... it seemed absurd for Bashir to come out of 'surgery' wearing the red gown as if he had been elbow-deep in guts... and he says 'I saved the symbiont but I couldn't do anything for Jadzia'... and in the very next scene she's still speaking! Errr... wouldn't a doctor be still there trying every possible thing until she has definitely died? Even today, doctors have about half an hour worth of stuff to try *after* a person dies, to try and get them back.

It seems logical to me, given the medical tech we've seen time after time on this show, that if a human is capable of speech, i.e. the brain is still active, then a competent Starfleet doctor could keep the brain alive practically forever while a new body is grown from DNA or something?

I bet that the EMH from Voyager would have had Jadzia up and running around in a couple of days.

We know that she had to die, of course, because Farrell wasn't returning. But in that case she should have been dead and stone cold when Sisko and Warf get there. But no, the writers can't help themselves and they just *have* to give us the 'dying in Warf's arms' scene. It was pathetic. If they wanted the dying scene, they should have had Bashir in there frantically trying to keep her alive at the same time.

As it was, it made her death seem really bizarre, almost like terrible fan-fiction.

Still, it was a reasonable end to a mixed-bag season 6. It's great that I have no memory at all of what happens next season, even though it's only been 2 years since the last time I watched the whole thing. It will be like a new series again.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

I have to disagree with RT about Avery Brook's last line being perfectly done. The emphasis on 'can' that suggests he is trying and failing to convince himself of that, is so badly done it's difficult to imagine how it was chosen from the probably 100 takes they did of that final scene.

However, the problem is that in reality, a person trying to convince themselves that they can live with what they've done will always be speaking to himself mentally, in his head. So as humans we don't have much experience with hearing that kind of sentiment out loud.

The closest thing I can think of is a boxer, standing in his changing room before a bout he is likely to lose, clenching his fists and shouting 'I *can* win this' to himself. Or some similar situation. And compared to that, Avery Brooks' version sounds small and obvious and badly acted.

Then again, maybe it's just me, but I find Brooks' acting pretty much uniformly awful whenever he does anger or frustration or any negative emotion. I think in real life he's a pussycat and he just can't do 'bad' very convincingly.

I did enjoy the episode the first time I watched it because the shuttle explosion was a genuine shock, I wasn't expecting it and in fact was really clueless as to what was going to happen after the hologram fake was detected.

And the retrospective narrative style was interesting, I'm not sure if DS9 has done one of those before.

But, by far the worst part of this episode for me was the main idea that Sisko was being torn apart by his evil actions in getting the Romulans into the war. If 'for the uniform' had never happened, it could be believable. But it had, so it wasn't.

There's 2 parts to his anguish. First, the people who were killed by Garak. An earlier commenter mentioned that the death of the romulan soliders on the shuttle didn't seem to bother him, and that's a key point. By this stage Sisko has murdered dozens of people in one-on-one combat... hell, he's murdered at least 50 Jem'Hadar face to face already.

Second, he's destroyed at least a hundred enemy ships by this point in the series, sending thousands of soliders to their death, the vast majority of whom were just innocent grunts fighting for their commanders like Sisko's own underlings.

So the idea that he cares about the death of a couple of random people is ridiculous.

The second part of his pain is the idea that he cheated to get another entire race tangled up in his war, and there will be thousands and thousands of deaths in the future because of this. I think this is the obvious *real* source of his pain, but again, I just don't beleive that someone in his position, having done the things we've seen him do, would even blink at this in reality. His self-hate for this is just not believable.

First, the fact is that the Romulans *would* have been invaded by the Dominion after the current war was won. That's been the Dominion's plan all along - they will enslave Cardassia and Bajor as well, eventually. And then *every* other race in the quadrant.

So even though the Romulans don't see it, he's actually done them a huge favour.

But more importantly, a rear-echelon mother-frakker one the losing side of a war this big and evil simply wouldn't think twice about doing this sort of thing to get a chance at victory. Sure, the Federation as imagined by Roddenberry originally would never have done this, but they would also have crushed the Dominion in two weeks due to their incredibly advanced technology as well. Roddenberry's Federation was *never* as pure as it should have been and by the time DS9 rolls around, the Fed is just as good at dirty tricks as every other species out there.

I enjoyed this story, mostly because I experienced genuine suspense in not guessing the outcome when I first watched it. But the core premise of Sisko's internal struggle is nonsense, and Brooks' acting was the over-the-top scenery-chewing over-acting we always get when he is in evil mode.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

Ken, I actually concede your point. When I wrote the previous comment I was only about 20 minutes into the episode, but by the end I have to admit I laughed out loud a couple of times.

But it was much less 'bumbling Ferengi morons' and more like real people having a comedy of errors.

It emphasises, I guess, that DS9's writers had done a really good job of making the Ferengi less cartoon-stupid than in previous series.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Inquisition

Anyone who understands Roddenberry's design of 'The Federation' back in the late '60s should be able to realise that something like 'Section 31' would never be necessary in such an idealised future.

Another of Roddenberry's ideas for the Federation was that we had evolved beyond the need for money. Anybody can have anything they need, the 'system' will provide it free of charge. Technology such as replicators had become so efficient that the economic concept of 'scarcity' simply didn't exist and once that is true, currency itself becomes unnecessary.

People can argue about the 'realism' of that if they want to, but they are completely missing the point. That was what Gene wanted the Federation to be, end of story. Along with eliminating money, humans had managed to eliminate war, poverty, crime... pretty much every single negative aspect of human existence did not exist in Roddenberry's original vision of what 'The Federation' was.

This is quite easy to see in the original series, in most episodes. While there was conflict between humans and other species, the humans internally seemed to be completely at peace and united.

Of course, Gene and every writer since found it difficult to create compelling stories and characters within such a framework; conflict is essential to storytelling and suspense so even in the original series, the reality of Kirk's behaviour was often far from what you would expect from a super-enlightened race as Roddenberry designed them.

If the Federation really *was* so enlightened and peaceful, Kirk would have had brain surgery shortly after birth to change his obvious violent and irrational tendencies that were visible from examining his DNA. Right?

Roddenberry, for all his genius, wasn't quite clever enough to bring us a real believable version of this 'perfect' society that the Federation was supposed to be. For one thing, it is pretty obvious if you care to look that Human Society as shown in TOS and TNG was basically a communist, invasive hierarchy where people had no privacy and everyone worked as a cog in the giant Earth machine. Think about the sensor technologies they had in TNG; I wouldn't want to live in *that* kind of 'utopia' in a million years. No thanks.

Now, the Sci-Fi author Ian M Banks *has* managed to create a society in which technology has completely eliminated money, or 'wants' in general, where people spend their lives free to pursue whatever they like, including several gender reassignments per lifetime, practically infinite life-length, real AI that is vastly more powerful than any organic brain, and implants that let humans metabolise any drug of their choosing at will just by thinking about it... for pleasure as well as to enhance physical attributes.

This society is called the 'Culture' in his novels and by setting them in a society that is many thousands of years more evolved than our own, he is able to make all this seem quite believable.

Roddenberry's problem was that he gave just 100 years after the eugenics wars for mankind to become so enlightened, and from the comments even on this page it's obvious that people don't believe that's long enough to really transform society. If TOS was set in the year 10,000... all that utopian mumbo-jumbo would have been a lot more beleivable. But I don't think Roddenberry had the sheer imagination required to realistically portray a culture that far evolved from our own.

And the tech, makeup, and set-building of the 1960s wouldn't have allowed it either.

Anyway, back to the original point: No, 'section 31' would never have existed in Gene's original version of the Federation. But this original vision was hopelessly compromised even in the TOS run in order to come up with plots, so it's silly to expect DS9 to be more 'pure'.

In reality, the universe as portrayed in TNG, Voyager, DS9 and even Enterprise was far darker and meaner than Roddenberry's original vision of super-enlightened mankind and similarly advanced aliens. We do get Picard and others *appearing* to take the moral high ground time and again, even making quite enormous sacrifices to do so. But in reality the Federation could not exist in the universe as we see it in the various series' without being just as immoral as many of their enemies. Section 31 would *definitely* exist.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

Alexander: "Has to be in the top five of DS9 episodes ever"

Wow, that's a pretty crazy idea :P I doubt even those who rate this episode as 'excellent' would claim that!

Alexander then went on a long 'rant' about racism and educating people about it. I use quotes around 'rant' because it wasn't angry or sarcastic, but 'rant' was the only word I could think of.

Here's my take: Roddenberry created the show not long after the period shown in this episode. Perhaps 15 years. He included African Americans, Chinese, and women in senior ranks right from the very first episode. You may remember that in the first episode, the XO was a woman, but the network executives got Gene to change it to make Spock XO for the 2nd and all further episodes.

However, Roddenberry *never* made a fuss about the race-neutral approach of his casting. He made the point that 300 years in the future, racism would be completely non-existant, so it would be highly unrealistic for any of the scripts to make a big deal about the race of officers on the ship.

So, I think this episode is *completely* against the way Gene wanted to deal with the issue of discrimination in the Trek universe. This episode is incredibly heavy handed, unsubtle, and itself completely cliched in it's portrayal of the police, the newstand boy, women, petty criminals and so on. In fact, almost every single character is a pretty offensive caricature in some way.

So it really is pretty lame to try and present some kind of message about racism while insulting half a dozen other groups along the way.

Besides, the 'lesson' the story tries to teach us might have been appropriate in 1950 or 1970, but in 1990-whatever it's completely inappropriate. It's good to discuss discrimination issues but this thing does it so clumsily, its almost impossible to think about without laughing at it.

Second, Sisko's 'breakdown' at the end when he gets the sack is just weird and over-the-top. A black guy in the 1950s who had made it into the writing trade would be *so* used to being discriminated against, he would never even dream of putting a black guy in the captain's role in his story. If he did, he certainly wouldn't be surprised if it was rejected.

No, the various racist incidents shown build up such a level of stress in Sisko, I think it only makes sense if it's Sisko himself getting treated so badly, and being completely unused to *any* kind of racism, he would find it very difficult to deal with. But the Sisko we know wouldn't respond to this by breaking down like a baby. He would suck it up and either ignore it, or go and beat the crap out of everyone who treats him badly.

Finally, the ending where 'it was only a dream' is really stinky and as always, the audience feels completely cheated. It might have worked if they writers had somehow tied the prophets into the dream and it was their way of communicating with Sisko about something. But instead, it was just a completely pointless diversion.

I actually skipped this the first couple of times I watched the series, but watched it this time based largely on Jammer's high rating and positive review. I think honestly that he, and many others, had so much fun seeing the regular characters playing dress-up (or, in some cases, dress-down, as they are all without the usual prostheses) that they gave a lot more credit to the actual story than it deserved.

It *is* entertaining seeing Quark without the makeup, or Odo as a real person. I liked Shimerman as the nasty principle on Buffy; and those of you who are old enough will remember Rene Auberjonois as the stuck-up irritating PR guy on 'Benson' about a thousand years ago. So it was good fun to see them as their ordinary selves again.

But the story was crap, and as allegory about discrimination it was childish and too obvious to take seriously.

ps: Rene Auberjonois doesn't look like he's aged one day since Benson in the early 1980s. He was born in 1940, so when he filmed DS9 he was almost 60 years old. Pretty well preserved, I have to admit.
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Neil
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

"Until this episode, I never realized that just having a bunch of Ferengi scamper down corridors was pure comedy gold."

Did you never watch TNG? I always *hated* Ferengi because in TNG they were always portrayed in this 'keystone cops' bumbling-idiot way, and I just found it irritating. I find most Trek attempts at comedy episodes pretty annoying, but the constant Feregeni-as-idiot joke really got on my nerves.

Voyager was almost as bad, but finally in DS9 we found the role of Quark which kept the Ferengi's ultra-capitalist habits but built a much more rounded and realistic character around them.

Rom was plagued at times by the same old bumbling idiot, but by this point in the series he had acquired some very serious attributes. And the journey of Nog from idiot Ferengi child to starfleet cadet was a real growth in the nature of the Ferengi portrayal.

So to me this episode is actually a crappy return to old habits by the writers, I didn't find it funny and I really thinki Quark, Rom, and Nog deserve better than this from the writing team.

I'm not a humorless jerk, either. I love comedy when it's done right - in my collection of TV shows, the cartoon and comedy section is much larger than my drama and sci-fi collection. But comedy in Star Trek has never worked for me. The 'Q' episodes are annoying as hell. The 'alternate universe' and other 'evil twins' episodes that are done as comedy are never funny either. And the ferengi keystone-cops stories are just rubbish.

I *do* like the small bits of humor that occur from time to time in all trek series. These are fine, and all good drama has a joke or two. But the attempts at comedy episodes always fall flat on their face. Trek just isn't a comedy show.
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Neil
Mon, Jan 31, 2011, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

Well, having watched the whole arc serveral times now, I just can't escape the fact that this episode was a complete disaster for the writing department. There's a whole *team* of people writing for this show, remember, and they collaborate a *lot* to come up with big arcs like the dominion war that last en entire season or longer.

It's acceptable, barely, to use a deus ex machina to resolve a single-episode storyline, and we have seen this before, at least once. There was that episode when the 'other' emissary arrived from the past, and in the end Sisko could only resolve the issue by going back to the prophets and asking them to specifically say which of them was the 'real' emissary.

As a writer, it's frustrating to have to use a device like the prophets apparently awesome power to resolve a plot. You are admitting that you couldn't think of a better way to end the story. In the emmissary story I mentioned, this is at least a resolution that fits the plot, so it doesn't seem too creatively bankrupt.

And as a writer on a series like Trek, if you establish the existence of a super-power like the prophets right at the start, you are very conscious that you cant just invoke them whenever you like to resolve any story. If Sisko could really just go into the wormhole whenever he liked, come to a full stop, and wait to be taken to the prophet's reality to beg them to do him a favour, then almost every story in the entire series could have been resolved a lot easier. Have they ever denied him when he asked for help?

So, the writing team had a long time to come up with a way of ending the occupation of DS9, and of making sure the jem'hadar reinforcements don't make it through the wormhole.

But if all they could come up with was a 1-minute miracle where the prophets simply 'deleted' the entire dominion fleet just seconds before they entered the alpha quadrant and doomed the entire quadrant to defeat, well, that is just incredibly embarassing for the writers.

In about 5 minutes of thought, I can come up with a few other ways to destroy that fleet without resorting to the prophet miracle. The defiant could have tried to close the wormhole, perhaps using some new type of torpedo that starfleet had been working on in secret to overcome the stability that was added by the fake bashir.

Perhaps they could have invented a new kind of warhead that would ignite some kind of plasma inside the wormhole that would destroy the entire jem-hadar fleet without closing it.

Or, perhaps, the could actually build on the freaking 'white' storyline that they started when the Defiant destroyed the only white depot in the alpha quadrant a few episodes ago. Remember that? The Jem Hadar should have run out within a couple of weeks, remember? But here we are months later, and that whole storyline has just been abandoned, with no explanation at all. Perhaps the Jem'Hadar that are already in the alpha quadrant should be slowly going insane because of the white shortages, with only a tiny number of Jem'hadar on DS9 still having a supply and able to defend the station against the now-crazed rest of the warriors. So, just a the DS9 manages to detonate the mines and open the wormhole, the crazed Jem'Hadar go in themselves to try and get more 'white', and they engage the reinforcements themselves and the two fleets manage to destroy each other almost completely.

That would be kind of cool and would actually tie up the story started weeks ago that went nowhere.

So... I really don't understand what goes on with Braga, Behr, and the rest of the top-level creatives in the Trek franchise. They should be ashamed to have to resort to such a weak solution to the problem of reinforcements coming from the Gamma quadrant. They should be ashamed to have not done anything with the 'white' shortage created a while back.

I've never read any of the supplementary material about DS9 and Trek that reveals some of the writer's thoughts and motivations. Maybe these questions are addressed already. But this episode in particular completely ruined the story for me, the excellence of the previous 5 or 6 episodes (not including Sons and Daughters), and the season as a whole. It was dumb. As soon as I saw the defiant enter the wormhole and stop, I literally groaned with despair. I couldn't *believe* they were going to do this.

Then they did it.
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Neil
Mon, Jan 31, 2011, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Empok Nor

My only complaint to add to Jammer's accurate observations is this: Garak and O'Brien had that conversation about O'Brien's heroic soldiering, on the runabout a long time before Garak was under the influence of any drugs.

But his attitude at that point was very antagonistic toward O'Brien, and while I know Garak is always playing mind-games when he talks about people's pasts, in this case it was way more aggressive and just plain mean than normal, and I don't think O'Brien's done anything in DS9 to make Garak hate him more than anyone else.

It really felt like he was already on the drugs before they entered the abandoned station, which of course was impossible, but the writers seemed to get Garak's personality *completely* wrong in that initial discussion.
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Neil
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Blaze of Glory

I always thought the Maquis were a horribly-designed component of the alpha quadrant politics. How could a tiny bunch of rag-tag colonists every be anything more than a nuisance to huge and powerful empires like the Cardassians, or the Federation? It's absurd.

Most terrorist operations work by causing civilians casualties often enough and random enough that the terrified population eventually demands that the government negotiates with them to reach a compromise.

But in the world of Star Trek, war is practically permanent, between large powerful races. The casualties caused by the Maquis would be barely noticed, and in any case the races involved would simply wipe them out in a few weeks.

So, all in all I just never found the Maquis concept credible, so it taints pretty much every story they are involved in.

However, in this episode in particular, I had a bigger problem with the starting premise; that if the Maquis managed to land a huge missile attack on Cardassia, that would start a huge war between the Dominion/Cardassian forces and the rest of the alpha quadrant.

Obviously, if the dominion thought that they could defeat the federation & co, they would already be doing it. And that's *with* a full-strength Cardassian empire on their side.

If the Cardassian forces were both weakened by the missile attacks, and distracted by rescuing survivors and rebuilding the damaged areas, then it's obvious the combined Dominion/Cardassian threat would be less than it already is.

So why would they attack the federation & co? To begin with, they would already know that the missiles came from the Maquis. And they would be certain to lose. Starting a war would be moronic.

The most likely outcome would be for the dominion to abandon their newly-weakened ally and retreat back to the Gamma quadrant to re-group and hatch another strategy. The Cardassians would be terrified of the Klingons and would beg the Federation to forgive them and protect them.

The missiles hitting Cardassia would be the best thing for the Federation in years. Sisko and Martok would be sitting back and watching, clinking champagne glasses as the missile strike landed.

But it gets worse, because we eventually find out that the whole thing was a plot by Eddington to lure Sisko to take him to a specific place to rescue his wife. So Eddington has to be able to predict that Sisko would think a Maquis missile attack on Cardassia would result in a huge war between everyone in the alpha quadrant. And he would have to predict that Sisko would try to avoid this by *begging* Eddington to take him to the 'launch site', alone.

The goal of getting Sisko to take Eddington into Maquis territory on their own could be acheived in a lot of ways that would be 100 times more beleiveable than this missile attack = universal catastrophe hogwash. A simple trick like a faked message from Sisko's other Maquis friend asking for help because of some old pact from the past, would be a more believable way to motivate Sisko into the exact situation Eddington wants.

So.. blech... my enjoyment of the sisko/eddington story (which I do actually enjoy) is seriously hampered by the moronic way the writers get things moving.

One more random criticism; not really about this episode but just in general... why oh why do federation ships not all have cloaking devices? The Klingons have had cloaks for as long as I can remember; definitely several hundred years by this point. Same with the Romulans. Are we supposed to believe that the scientifically advanced Federation has never been able to figure out how they work? Even with the hundreds of Klingon ships that have been captured? Even with the Romulans installing a cloak in the Defiant? It's just ridiculous. Every Federation ship should have a cloak by the time of the DS9 stories... there's just no excuse for having Sisko in a bloody little runabout with no cloak having to evade Jem-Hadar ships using technobabble of the week bollocks. The 'how do we conceal our warp trail' thing is one of those Trek tropes that is used to soak up time on every second episode. Here, it's used to show Sisko bluffing Eddington (again) into piloting the ship to prove he wants to live. But there are other ways to do that; it's just lazy for the writers to rely on such a tired old idea that shouldn't even exist because cloaking should be either common for *all* races, or not possible at all.

If only two races had the ability to cloak, they would be ruling the universe by now, because cloaking in reality would be an unbelievable tactical advantage in *any* military engagement.
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Neil
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

I've watched this a few times now and have to say that it's in the top 2 or 3 of all Trek time-travel episodes. And there's a lot of them.

However, having watched it a few times, it seems obvious to me that the entire premise of there being some kind of dilemma is just absurd. In fact, both groups of people - the original defiant crew and the 8000 colonists - would only have wanted one thing, which was the survival of *their* group.

Taking the colonists first: There's just no way Odo could have developed his emotional behaviour like that without having had some serious relationships during the 200 year wait. Those would mean far more to him than Kira, an ancient memory that would really just remind him what a gruff, unlikeable, and emotionally stunted jerk he had been all those years ago.

Same goes for Dax... the symbiont would have long ago given up feeling guilty and formed much more significant relationships with the descendants than he ever had with Sisko. He knew Sisko for 15 years or so? Obviously there would be people on the planet he had known for their entire lives.

On the other hand, for the members of the original crew, the idea of sacrificing themselves so the 8000 descendants could live wouldn't even be a consideration. Think about it: If they decided to let the past repeat itself, that would cause a ton of suffering and grief to their friends and relatives back on the station and around the universe.

But the sudden disappearance of 8000 people who never had any contact with a single other person wouldn't move the grief meter at all. For them, they would all 'die' at the same time, presumably without any pain or suffering. For the rest of the universe, it wouldn't matter at all.

Why would the Defiant crew ever think there was a choice here?

So, it's pretty obvious that both groups would have no dilemma, and would pursue the course that obviously benefited them the most.

For the colonists, this would mean they should capture the defiant crew, put them all in some sort of stasis that would end after they travelled back in time, then just autopilot the ship straight into the anomaly at exactly the correct time. Dax would have had 199.9 years to plan all this, after all.

For the defiant crew, they would just try to do anything they could to stop that plan from happening.

In fact, I think I would have enjoyed watching *that* script a lot more than the one we got, with all that fake agonising over choices that didn't actually exist at all.

I still enjoyed it though, and as I said it's one of the top 3 Trek time-travel episodes. It had less obvious plot holes and creaky contradictions than the 'Enterprise' episode where they encountered their own ship 200 years after a similar anomaly did the same thing.
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Neil
Sat, Jan 30, 2010, 4:28am (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

Well, I've just finished watching this from start to finish over a ten day period. I've never seen it before but I had heard a lot of hype about it.

The original BSG was right in my formative years and was one of my weekly must-watch shows when I was 11 or 12 or so. I didn't really want to watch a new version, especially being so different in tone from the original, but eventually I relented.

And I'm glad I did. I don't watch much TV these days so I'm short on comparisons with shows like The Sopranos, The Shield, or The Wire. But this series is certainly cut above just about anything I've ever seen on TV.

If I had to pick one defining characteristic, it would be the commitment of RDM & co to taking risks and not always saving the good guys at the last second. Important characters can die on this show at any time, and just that simple fact makes watching it more interesting than anything else that I've seen in the last 20 years.

I will admit that season 4, overall, wasn't good enough to keep up the standards from earlier seasons. And the final wrap-up was pretty unsatisfying; for once there weren't any really shocking revelations and it was pretty predictable once we got to Daybreak. I guess if they went crazy and came up with an ending that turned the whole story upside down, it would probably come off as cheap and annoying, like the 'it was all a dream' trope, and nobody wants to close out 4 years on that kind of crap.

Still, RDM has really set a high bar for Sci Fi on TV now, I've watched Dollhouse, Firefly, Enterprise, Stargate etcetera and none of them can hold a candle to the storytelling and acting on display in BSG.

Torchwood is another contemporary show that takes a few risks, and Russell Davies has said many times that RDM and particularly BSG has been a real inspiration to him as he revived Dr Who and then created Torchwood.

I do love Dr Who and I enjoy Torchwood, and yet, despite obviously trying to foster the same kind of innovative approach as BSG, neither show really comes close in the sheer quality of the writing, acting, set design and FX.

I'm looking forward to Caprica, the pilot was pretty enjoyable even though it's clearly not BSG 2. But most of all I just hope that the BSG revival has made a long-term difference to the way one-hour Sci Fi dramas are done on TV from now on. If you go back now and watch TNG, VOY or DS9 they seem incredibly lightweight compared to this masterpiece.

So my hat is off to RDM and friends. And to Jammer as well for providing one of the most comprehensive review sites on the planet!
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Neil
Sat, Jan 30, 2010, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Deadlock

I found Tyrol's desire to leave completely understandable... go back to his outbust at Adama a few episodes ago, he was obviously desperately unhappy with how things had turned out for him. I think his initial reaction was to stay like Saul, but after a couple of seconds he mentally shrugged and thought 'why not?'

As for Ellen, the writing was too much 'old' Ellen. As others have observed, when the final four were 'woken up', their personalities didn't change. But in Ellen's case the change should have come from the memories she now had. Her fake life as a human never had her as a brilliant scientist and an achiever of great things, which is obviously what she was in her real life on Earth. I would have expected her to show up on Galactica and take charge of the other Cylons, have a firm plan to deal with Cavil and act like someone who had created these things. But also prone to petty vindictiveness.

Writing her instead as *exactly* the same as fake Ellen was a jarring mistake imho
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Neil
Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: No Exit

Just while people are talking about contrivances and all... I didn't see the show at all while it was new, but I've watched the entire thing, including razor, over the past ten days or so.

Quite a marathon.

It's good to see the episodes one after the other like that, but it does tend to highlight issues that you might not notice with a week between shows and hiatus's (hiatii?) between seasons.

The main thing that has bugged me became most painfully obvious during the mutiny arc of Oath and Scales. At no point has the leadership actually tried to explain to the people just why the alliance with these cylons isn't getting into bed with the enemy.

Think about what the main characters know:

- There is a bitter split between two Cylon factions
- The rebel faction realise the war was a mistake and want to be at peace with the humans
- The evil faction is led by one particularly nasty Cylon who has caused the whole thing
- The 'final five' are not even close to being 'machines' evolved from centurion cylons. They are basically people and there's no reason to think of them as toasters

If the leadership had made an effort to publicise this information, over and over, drilling it into people's heads, there would never have been the intense mistrust and subsequent mutiny.

Especially considering how long Athena has been with the Human side, in the real world there would have been a lot of discussion about why and how she is able to change sides and why other Cylons can be trusted if they want to switch.

Think about the real world, it's not uncommon at all for a faction within a group to split and ally with the other side. This happened in WW2 a few times in different theatres. In the pressure of the war, these changes of allegiance usually work because of necessity and obviously in BSG both parties are stronger against Cavil if they stick together.

This falls into the standard script-writing phenomena of having the characters behave unrealistically to lead them into conflict and other dramatic situations. It bugs the hell out of me.

Particularly in the case of this mutiny. They could have had 90% of the fleet accept the Cylons in good faith. Gaeta could have been motivated by going a bit mad, with losing his leg to a Cylon and also nearly being executed by Tigh who turns out to be a Cylon.

If Gaeta had led a mutiny, and he had perhaps 10 guys he was able to persuade to join him (instead of 50 or more), we could still have had an exciting, uncertain munity with plenty of tension.

It's ridiculous to try and portray the entire fleet as being incapable of reason and unable to understand the difference between good Cylons and bad Cylons.

It bugs me even more because the writing has been so good in almost every other way. Moore is good enough, he shouldn't need to have people act like morons just to create tension.

Still, BSG is so much better than anything else...

I have recently watched every Star Trek series from start to finish as well and trying to compare *any* of those to BSG makes Trek look like a children's show. 'The Inner Light' in TNG is just about the only episode that measures up to any BSG episode.
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neil
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

Yeah, this show was garbage, for all the reasons listed in previous comments.

One thing that afflicted the entire trek universe, from TOS through to Enterprise, was the problem with Starfleet.

Far too often they have used starfleet as the source of some evil-doer who creates whatever disaster the show is focusing on this week. While every single regular cast member is the epitome of a heroic starfleet officer, it's ridiculous that every other member of starfleet is corrupt, evil, stupid, arrogant, ambitious, paranoid, and inept.

YOu can get away with this a couple of times in the life of a series, but Star Trek has gone back to the well twice a season for every one of the 27-odd seasons that make up the franchise across all series.

It's far beyond the point of just being lazy writing, it's criminally lazy writing and makes about 20% of all stories completely predictable.

While I'm complaining, I'll add that Jake Sisko is a terrible character. Are we supposed to be sympathetic to him? He is always whining, making terrible decisions that put other's lives in peril while trying to make himself feel like an adult investigative journalist. Perhaps the writers are doing this deliberately but by this point in the DS9 series I despise him more than any of the 'bad' guys.

I haven't enjoyed a single episode when Jake is the primary character.

This may not be the writers' fault. Cirroc Lofton is as bad an actor as Jake is a character, so perhaps he's not bringing the writers' vision of jake to life. His emotional scenes are flat as a pancake and he has no physical presense at all.

I know Jammer likes both Jake and Cirroc so perhaps I'm digging my own grave, but the DS9 story would have been a lot better off if Jake had never existed.
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Neil
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 7:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

Although I enjoyed this, I don't agree that it's the best of DS9, nor even in the top 5. Avery Brooks solo performance in front of the log recorder is far too hammy for that.

It's something that he's been getting progressively worse at as the years go by, overacting, overemoting, chewing the scenery... but this episode has the worst of the lot.

I also thought the final scene where Sisko gives Garak a couple of solid blows to the face was over-the-top. Kirk was happy to throw his fists around when necessary but it was never the first thing he thought of. It was unnecessary in the context and the fact that Garak didn't seem to suffer much discomfort from it just makes it worse.

Finally, I think you may as well remove the 'bot checker' field from this comment form - it's always the same question. Is it broken or did it never actually work?
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Neil
Fri, Oct 30, 2009, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

I really hated this episode for it's single glaring logical flaw that rendered it completely pointless.

As mentioned in a comment above me, these geniuses could not have predicted the Prophet's interference in the taking of the station, so their prediction for that event would have been wrong.

There are so many potential cataclysmic events that could destroy the dominion:

- a meteorite strikes the founders homeworld, killng them all... the vorta and jem hadar starting infighting and the invasion collapses

- as they push further into the alpha quadrant, the jem hadar encounter a virus that is lethal to them thanks to a flaw in their DNA. The virus has a 2-year incubation period and in extremely virulent, so by the time they realise what is happeneding they entire race is already infected. Within 5 years there isn't a single Jem Hadar left in the universe.

- Q turns up and uses his genuine godlike powers (as opposed to the founder's fake godlike powers) to push the dominion back through the wormhole and seals it forever

I could go on for days. In fact, the further in the future you try to predict, the more likely it is that something of this type will occur, ergo by the time you've gone out 1000 years it's almost guaranteed that something will occur that you didn't anticipate that will change things completely.

What I really don't understand is how the writers can get through producing an entier episode script and not realise this. They could include it in the story and still make the episode work, so are they just lazy?

Ruined the episode for me.
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Neil
Wed, Oct 28, 2009, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: For the Uniform

One thing to add to these comments... I thought it was great to see Nog out of the academy and doing something useful. He was acting like a real starfleet cadet, doing everything eagerly and properly.

It would have been easy for them to forget about his story, we haven't seen him for a while, but I enjoyed bringing him into this episode, even if it was a contrived situation.
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Neil
Sat, Oct 24, 2009, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

@gatton - I don't think the math involved was unrealistic to have Rom doing it. In previous episodes he's been described as a mechanical genius so it's not too hard to believe.

I enjoyed the episode a lot, mostly because I'm watching every star trek episode across all series, and DS9 is the last series. In TNG, ENT and VOY, the ferengi are portrayed as bumbling idiots and I really hated them. But DS9 gives them a lot more credit and I just find it a relief to watch a Ferengi episode and not be completely aggravated by them.
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