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Paulus Marius Rex
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Bang on Jammer. You expressed it all just as I wish I could have had I not been blubbering to myself incoherently at the end of that mess. At least this season had a string of three good episodes in a row. (3-4-5? I can't remember exactly which ones.) My wish for Season 4 or any other future iteration of Star Trek: please can we stop with so much action, fisticuffs, gunfights? We've seen it all before. Boooooring. Yawn. I would like some intelligent, thoughtful writing instead please pretty please
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Paul M.
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

An outstanding episode in its own right and probably one of the tightest scripts DS9 had produced up to this point. I've read majority of posts above concerning the religious angle of the episode and its real-world applicability and relevance; great stuff highlighting the issue from all sides, to which I don't think I could contribute in a significant fashion.

I am more interested in the way "Destiny" is structured as an episode and the vehicle for examining its characters, and it is in this sense that I find it an excellent example of a well-crafted hour of television.

The first thing I noticed as I watched the episode is the clear-cut and precise way the individual scenes are presented and how well they flow in sequence, with one leading to another seamlessly. The cold open wastes no time and informs us that two Cardassian scientists are en route to the station to deploy a relay on the far side of the wormhole that will hopefully facilitate instantaneous communication with the other side. In the next scene we get a vedek deliver an ominous prophecy about what might happen if the enterprise is allowed to proceed. We meet the scientists who happen to be rather friendly and outgoing (for Cardassians) followed by the reveal that the first contingency mentioned in the prophecy looks like it might come to pass (the third viper!). This segues rather nicely to a conversation between Sisko and Odo on his role as Emissary and in what way it might make him unconsciously resistant to considering all sides of the situation. At the same time, the vedek and Kira have a similarly intriguing exchange about how she reconciles her view of Sisko as Emissary and his position as her superior officer. One thing leads to another, parts of the prophecy sequentially appear to be coming true, things get from bad to worse, and characters try to find a solution to the problem, all coming from their particular viewpoints and life experiences.

It's an exceedingly clever episode that tightens the screws with each passing scene but never resorts to cheating or glossing over important plot points to arrive at the conclusion (which is something Trek is often guilty of).

Even if this intricate yet elegant structure is all there is to the episode, it would still be a fine installment very fun to watch. But it's the character beats and the way they drive the story forward that is the highlight of the hour. As Odo succinctly puts it, each character approaches the material from the position of his or her own biases. Sisko doesn't want to put much stock in the prophecy not only because of his Starfleet training and position, but also because he doesn't want to accept the religious role of Emissary that Bajorans have thrust upon him. As I noted in my seasonal reviews of Seasons 1 and 2, while Sisko is a fine presence, there is a feeling the show doesn't use him to drive the story nearly as often as it probably should. Here though, his dual role as Emissary and Starfleet officer is examined to great effect, with Sisko not only increasingly torn on whether to heed the prophecy, but also for the first time beginning to accept his role in Bajoran spiritual life, as evidenced by his final conversation with vedek Yarka.

Kira's predicament is no less interesting. Just like with Sisko, "Destiny" says "enough with avoiding the issue" and puts Kira in a situation where she, like it or not, has to admit to herself -- and later to Sisko -- that, yes, she does consider him to be Emissary of the Prophets. Their conversation on the Defiant where she comes clean about how she views him is a scene long time coming and I am glad it's finally addressed. Yet she approaches the central dilemma of the episode from the viewpoint of a spiritual Bajoran who believes in the wisdom of the ancient texts. Important to notice that the script doesn't make her a zealot that'll believe anything. After all, prophets do know the future and the mounting evidence that something is about to go wrong is getting increasingly harder to ignore.

The side story with O'Brien and one of the Cardassian scientists could have easily come off as light padding. Thankfully, writers' dedication to their primary goal of examining personal biases is evident here as well, examined through the lens of cross-cultural misunderstanding. O'Brien and the scientist seem to get off on the wrong foot, but what he interprets as disrespect and rudeness is a result of Cardassian gender dynamics where scientific and technical roles are female-dominated. Coupled with inherent Cardassian aggressiveness and territorialism, she probably views his self-asserted expertise as off-putting and misplaced. When O'Brien returns in kind, she then interprets his belligerence as courting, because, hey, that's how it's done back on Cardassia, and changes her behavior accordingly.

Finally, the episode provides us with some nice worldbuilding as it furthers the overarching plots brewing throughout the season. The Cardassian - Bajoran treaty signed in the previous episode is mentioned again while the Obsidian Order makes an appearance as well, in preparation of the "grand finale" of this particular plotline in the excellent Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter.

I enjoyed this episode tremendously and I am actually surprised by how compelling it is.

* * *1/2 (9 out of 10)
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Paul M.
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 9:57am (UTC -6)
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Paul M.
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

The topic of series-defining episodes is an interesting one.

While The Enterprise Incident is indeed a very good episode, I wouldn't exactly call it series-defining. I don't think it represents what TOS is best known for and what may be its lasting legacy, namely the vaunted Trekkian morality play. In that sense, The City on the Edge of Forever is a fine pick.

TNG, I feel, is a bit harder, as that show went beyond the storytelling format of TOS. Darmok maybe? The Drumhead? Measure of a Man? Something that captures the intellectualism that sets TNG apart from all other Trek shows (and that preferably has a Picard Speech(TM) in there somewhere ;)

Deep Space Nine... While my heart wants to say Duet, Visitor, or Far Beyond the Stars, those are nevertheless episodes of a more "classic" Trek bent. For authentic Niner experience, I'd probably go for something that combines politics, character drama, and high stakes. In the Pale Moonlight is an obvious choice, but for the sake of variety and in order to pick an episode from an earlier season that sets the tone for what's to come... say... The Wire for a more intimate episode or maybe the Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter for the epic war drama stuff.

The Voyager is at its heart a slickly produced action-adventure show that has the Borg fetish. I haven't seen it in a long time, but from what I can recall the best episodes in that particular vein are probably Scorpion and Dark Frontier? I think? There are surely better episodes around, but stuff like this is what I remember about Voyager.

I am not sure that Enterprise has a definitive series-defining episode. That show was all over the place. The first two seasons were poor man's Voyager, the third one was something else entirely, and then the fourth season was a total retooling of the show once more. The Azati Prime three-parter I'd say comes closest, but how representative of the entire show is it really? Not sure it is.

With Discovery, I have the opposite problem. That show is so consistently samey in tone and theme from episode to episode that it almost feels like one big huge movie that doesn't slow down for a second. I mean, go and pick an episode at random and chances are good that the one you picked is a perfectly fine example of just what Discovery wants to be. I don't know. It's a heavily serialized show so an arc episode would probably be the one that's the most series-defining. The only problem is that on this series arc episodes are hands down no contest the worst of the lot. That leaves us with... If Memory Serves, I guess. An outstanding episode that utilizes the prequel status of the show to great effect in a very smart way. And since DIS is kinda ape-y of certain elements of TOS -- in Kurtzman's view of what would TOS look like if filmed now -- it fits.
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Paul G
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 2:30am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Burnham doesn't work as a character for me. Making her captain makes no sense.
The burn makes no sense either. If dilithium is so unstable, it should all have disapeared a long while ago. The writers came up with the burn for shock value, so that the federation is crippled and vulcan and earth have left the srarfeet, who is now a legend. No one knows if it exists anymore. Ten minutes later, the federation is still a great power in the galaxy, everyone rejoins, back to square one. The burn is explained (?) and handwaved, it will have no more consequences. You can do this in episodic series, like old trek, but no in a show with season arcs. If nothing has consequences, why bother watching the whole season?

I'm still watching this because I think Saru is a great character and I like jammer's blog so I try to keep up with the episodes. But maybe it's time to cancel my Netflix account and switch to disney and look at the Mandalorian. I like shows with tigh writing like Babylon 5, or lots of humor like Stargate, Firefly and Farscape. I'll try the expanse when it's availlable somewhere in France, if anyone has other suggestions, tell me!
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Booming,

I love how sooner or later someone inevitably brings up The Expanse. And for good reason. I've said it a million times already, but that thing is just marvelous. Go watch it, everybody and then come back and despair at the state of Trek. ;)
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Jason R.

There are multiple headscratchers when it comes to the way Discovery was initially designed:

1. Setting the show in the TOS prequel era was a stone around their necks from the very start and for no good narrative reason at all. Seeing as how it turned out, why not start in the future?

2. As you point out, why abandon the successful ensemble setup and go for this silly Burnham as the center of the universe thing they're attempting? Even Star Trek: Picard, with *PICARD* in the title is much more of an ensemble that Discovery is.

3. Why focus the show on a character that isn't captain and then still pursue earth-shattering plots? I am all for a more "lower decks" theme, but then you have to approach it from a different angle and not have your mutineer / science officer / solve every single problem the ship encounters.

It's interesting how so many of the problems this show faces are actually self-imposed for reasons that I can't really fathom, and that, as far as I know, were never satisfactorily explained by any of the (trillion) execs.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Yup, I'd say this is the worst season thus far. And after such a promising start. All three seasons had rubbish overarching plots, complete nonsense. However, Seasons 1 and 2 at least had quite a few solid to good individual episodes and I, on balance, liked those seasons. Season 3 though... ugh, after midpoint, it's been going from bad to worse on one long uninterrupted spiral to oblivion.

Discovery is simply an utterly mediocre show. Not a mediocre Star Trek show. Not a mediocre science fiction show. Just an all around forgettable action-adventure drivel punctuated with the most insufferably melodramatic self-centered bullshit I've seen in a long time. Normal people don't behave this way. Teenagers on an ego trip behave this way, making grand proclamations and reveling in their special specialness all the while daydreaming how one day everyone alive will recognize their awesomeness and congratulate them on just how unique a human being they are.

Vomit-inducing.
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Paul G
Wed, Jan 6, 2021, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

@Franck A. Booze
"I am trying to think of another show where the lead character is really not that great. A show that lasted more than a season? Can anybody think of one? "
Kevin Sorbo in the later seasons of Andromeda? The rest of the cast had their screentime greatly reduced, the script was inept, and it was all about showing how the captain in great. I sometimes get the same feeling with Disco.

About SMG being a bad actress: I don't know, butI think even the greatest couldn't save this character. Burnham is badly written. She's supposed to have been raised by vulcans and keep her emotions at bay, but now this is all forgotten and she cries for nothing in every episode. She can betray her captain or her crew several times, it's also all forgotten the following week. If we're not supposed to remember and care about a character past, it's difficult to care about it's future....

Also, I have seen many comment about the Bechdell test. I think this is largely unrelated to the quality of the script. We can have an all male cast and a plot that still makes sense, and a very diverse cast with a weak script.
Having a diverse cast is good from a diversity standpoint.
Passing the Bechdell test is good from a feminist standpoint. Nothing more, nothing less. If you replace all characters by white straight males, the burn being caused by a kid or the EC wanting suddenly to join the federation is still bad writing. And if you replace Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda by a black actress, you still get a bad show. Those things are unrelated in my opinion. It's nice to have diversity if you like diversity. But it won't save the show.
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Paul G
Sun, Jan 3, 2021, 12:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

I agree the serialization is a burden for Disco.
There are bad episodes in all seasons of all previous star trek shows, but they were mostly stand alone and you could ignore them. And when you rewatch old shows, you can skip them. Disco doesn't have this chance, so the bad ideas in some episodes are dragging the whole season down, even the whole serie.
Also, it feels like each episode is written separately from the others. The emerald chain wants to make peace with starfleet? Where is that idea in previous episodes? The whole arc should be written completely before you even start shooting your first episode, even if you can allow for flexibility. Babylon 5 did it well in its time. The Expanse also, as it's based on books. Here, I get the feeling the writers didn't have a clue what could have caused the blur at the start of the season, and they struggled to come up with an explanation after that. Too bad. Discovery have very strong aspects, but that improvisation is hurting it. Burnham has to become captain? Well, let's suddenly derail Saru's character.

I stop here, I'm too frustrated. I would probably wouldn't watch this if it wasn't a Star Trek show. But I won't give up, I'll be back for season 4, hoping for better writting, and for more stand alone episodes (i really hope for a Detmer centered episode one day)
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 1:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

@Booming: "Think about it, Vance sacrifices the freedom of probably millions maybe billions of slaves and the end of other countless crimes, so that one villain goes to prison. It is the dumbest shit."

I really hope I'm not right, but I have a suspicion the writers are trying to jam a message down our collective throats. Just as they're making Saru emotionally compromised so Burnham can ride in and save the day, it seems to me they're purposefully making Vance unreasonable in pursuit of some moral point they're making. It's not just that the Federation representative is needlessly inflexible, there's also Osyraa's interesting point about the Federation caring too much about abstract things and then expressing surprise that Vance never had a real apple. Also consider how the Federation HQ is hiding in the middle of nowhere, perpetually on the defensive, like it's hiding from the world. And then that arbitrary capitalism remark... There's some half-baked superficial BS moral brewing in there.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 10:33am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

All this talk about Federation - Emerald Chain negotiations reminded me of a peace summit between Mars and Earth in The Expanse Season 2. Now that's how you do stuff like this, with each side having goals and strategies and hidden agendas that are nevertheless presented in a believable way. Link is below. Well worth a watch to get a sense of how The Expanse deals with politics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILL60am-Rb4
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 6:26am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Life Support

Huh, as soon as I submitted my comment, I noticed I didn't mention the Jake/Nog subplot. Let me just say that I generally agree with Peter's take on it. I do think there's more than meets the eye here and that the episode does have a worthwhile message when it comes to bridging difference, even when -- especially when -- those differences seem to be vast. I'll admit it does help that I have a rather un-PC sense of humor so Nog's ludicrous misogyny was kind of funny to me. What can I say. This subplot is probably what pushes this episode to two stars for me. The A-plot is... ugh.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 6:18am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Life Support

While not nearly the worst or the most boring episode so far, there's something in here I really dislike. I don't have the energy to dive deep into it, but here are some bullet points:

-- Winn and the Legate are purportedly negotiating -- and signing -- a far-reaching treaty that normalize Bajoran-Cardassian relations after decades of brutal occupation, yet we heard nothing in previous episodes about some kind of thaw in mutual relations nor, to my recollection, do we hear anything regarding repercussions of the treaty later on. There's this Real Important Treaty that may as well have never existed.

-- Pertaining to above, the notion that all together three people are negotiating the treaty (two Bajorans and a Cardassian) is hillarious. Can you imagine, say, Iranian nuclear deal or any number of important international treaties to be the result of 3 people talking to each other instead of entire delegations hashing out various aspects of it?

-- In order for the treaty and the process of reaching an agreement to have any meaning to the audience, we should have ideally been informed of the underlying political situation on both Bajor and Cardassia. Unfortunately, we don't know anything new regarding Bajor, the current state of the Provisional Government and the role Kai is supposed to have in the functioning of their political system. Still, I can accept the planet being ready to move on if the other side shows a measure of goodwill. What I am less sure about is this sudden willingness of Cardassia to sign the treaty. Why now? What's in it for them since they're apparently agreeing to pay what should probably be huge war reparations? We do know that the dissident moving is growing on Cardassia thanks to last season's Profit and Loss and this season's Second Skin, but from those episodes -- and others, like The Wire and The Defiant -- it's obvious the Obsidian Order is up to no good while wielding enormous political power. It's never made clear in the least what Central Command and the Obsidian Order get out of all this.

-- medical ethics / Frankenstein story is underwhelming. Bareil is needlessly stubborn (the result of the mentioned silliness that only two Bajorans are conducting negotiations) in endangering his health and ultimately forfeiting his life. While Winn is definitely immoral enough to condone and abet Bareil's de facto suicide, the episode does her no favors by making her seem incompetent and clueless in order to impress upon us Bareil's importance and heroic sacrifice.

-- Kira seems strangely blasé about Bareil's situation up until that last soliloquy at Bareil's deathbed. She also doesn't seem interested in confronting Winn regarding her role in all this, which is very strange considering the two women always had a *lot* to say to one another and were usually good foils for each other.

-- it's painfully obvious that writers didn't like Bareil and/or Philip Anglim's performance (not that I exactly blame them for it), and also wanted to free Kira to pursue certain other romantic entanglements (see the next episode), but this was not the way to do it. As I see it, the episode fails on two fronts: (1) as a character examination of Bareil, Winn, and to an extent Kira; and (2) as a political story that builds on two and a half seasons of established Cardassian and Bajoran relations. The episode barely rises above the waterline as a (3) medical ethics story: it's not particularly good in that regard, but it does say something coherent and has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Barely ** or 4 out of 10
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 1:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

Speaking of safe places, there was an incident a few months back in DSC writers's room, after which one of the writers, Walter Mosley, resigned. He had this to say in New York Times:

"Earlier this year, I had just finished with the Snowfall writers’ room for the season when I took a similar job on a different show at a different network. I’d been in the new room for a few weeks when I got the call from human resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, 'Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the n-word in the writers’ room'. I replied, 'I am the N-word in the writers’ room.'

I hadn’t called anyone it. I just told a story about a cop who explained to me, on the streets of Los Angeles, that he stopped all n---ers in paddy neighborhoods and all paddies in n---er neighborhoods, because they were usually up to no good. I was telling a true story as I remembered it.

There I was, a black man in America who shares with millions of others the history of racism. And more often than not, treated as subhuman. If addressed at all that history had to be rendered in words my employers regarded as acceptable.

"There I was being chastised for criticizing the word that oppressed me and mine for centuries. As far as I know the word is in the dictionary. As far as I know the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence assure me of both the freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness.

My answer to HR was to resign and move on. I was in a writers’ room trying to be creative while at the same time being surveilled by unknown critics who would snitch on me to a disembodied voice over the phone. My every word would be scrutinized. Sooner or later I’d be fired or worse — silenced."

This incident, as well as various documented earlier incidents involving previous showrunners, reveal a troubled workplace. How and if these things influence the final product, we'll likely never know.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 11:31am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

@Nick "I've only read a couple of interview transcripts and I am by no means an expert on her and I also have no idea how to make a TV show. So it's possible I'm being unfair. I'm also not saying she's a bad showrunner, it just doesn't seem like she's a good fit for a Star Trek show."

@Booming "Don't read these stupid interviews. They are as informative as an interview with 99% of politicians. I wouldn't be surprised if PR people tell them exactly what the very narrowly defined guardrails are."

Actually, these interviews can be very informative in a roundabout sort of way, by noticing what is absent as much as what is in there. I will also note that I don't know much about Michelle Paradise, but several of her interviews that I did read were all very vacuous, pleasant-sounding and without much of a substance. You can get some general notions, but almost nothing that would really dive deep beneath the surface. It's a rather common occurrence with a lot of entertainment industry insiders. You can easily compare this to interviews and other sorts of media appearances of people that are... better regarded, shall we say. While they obviously won't spoil the game ahead of time, you can get a much better sense of what they're trying to accomplish and why, what's important to convey... It's pretty easy to spot people who are artists and storytellers first and who approach their show from the Watsonian in-world perspective as opposed to those who are businessmen and execs first and who favor the Doylist out-of-fiction perspective.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 10:12am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

That quote betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what genre means. While story and characters absolutely *are* important, no doubt about it, there's a reason for genre and subgenre distinctions in art. It's something that, for example, Mandalorian showrunners get and the reason that show is so good. It includes themes, atmosphere, mood, story beats and character types one might expect, narrative structure, the way to direct and edit a scene, etc, etc...

I don't know, but I constantly feel like I'm missing something. Because if I, a random guy who happens to like science fiction and fantasy, is aware of some of these things, it's unfathomable to me how these people with countless years of experience in TV storytelling don't get it. But of course they *get it*. They aren't morons, most of them are undoubtedly creative and smart people. Which brings me back to "I must be missing something". What is the thought process behind all these decisions?
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 7:36am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

@Nick, following on your comments about Michelle Paradise, I also came across an interview she gave. Here's an excerpt:

"In the room, we don’t start any episode by talking about genre. We always start with our characters. The genre stuff always feels like that’s the fun, and of course our audience expects that, so we want to make sure that we are delivering all the super-cool VFX that they want to see, and all of our teams that do that are absolutely incredible. But it always comes back to character and story, what does someone want, and what gets in their way. Those things transcend genre."

Unless I'm missing something, Discovery showrunner is equating genre (meaning sci-fi) with special effects, as if that's all "genre" is. Double-Picard facepalm.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 4:08am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

I don't know what the problem is with these writers, but it's remarkable how every season followed the exact same trajectory. It started solid enough, showed some early promise, then started going downhill around midpoint only to crash and burn at the end. When this happens three times in a row, I have to wonder if the powers that be wanted it this way. Or are Kurtzman and co really that clueless? Even this I have trouble accepting because surely a bunch of professionals have certain basic competence. Baffling.
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Paul M.
Tue, Dec 29, 2020, 6:28am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

Americans getting offended over something again, what a surprise. Is there some hitherto unknown correlation between guns per capita and getting offended?
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Paulus Marius Rex
Mon, Dec 28, 2020, 2:47am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

Give me this over that Mirror Universe pointlessness any day. I agree with the comments above that say this episode fits more with a TOS ethos, with a Star Trek ethos, than much of what we've seen in the past few episodes. I don't come to Trek for mindless fighting and endless action sequences. I was entertained enough by the mystery and imagination in this episode to not want to expend energy dissecting its flaws. With the Mirror Universe episodes, all I could see were the flaws. Judging by the polarization of opinions here - and indeed on most Discovery episodes - I'd say the show does a good job of pushing different Trek buttons for different Trek people, rarely pushing all the right buttons for everyone. I had hoped that might happen this season, and the first few episodes seemed promising. Although my hopes have faded, I'm still entertained enough and it still feels like Trek every one out of three episodes or so. Which, you know, is a nice thing.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 24, 2020, 12:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Second Season Recap

Season 2: A Tale of Two Halves

I am not sure what was going on in the writers' room this season, whether there was some kind of shake-up behind scenes or if the writers by the simple process of trial and error learned what works and what doesn't, but the results are quite striking. The first half of the season (up to and including episode 12) is essentially Season 1: The Continuation, for good and ill. Except for the opening trilogy which embraced the storytelling format made possible by the established premise (but was beset by problems of its own and was ultimately a middling experience), the rest of the half-season was "plagued" by the same kind of approach that was on display the year before: not enough specificity, too much TNG-lite syndrome. Looking to my episode ratings above, I can outright recommend only 4 out of 12 episodes (3 stars and above), and two of those were part of the opening trilogy which unceremoniously concluded. The only standout episodes after the opening were Cardassians and the visually and thematically stunning Necessary Evil. Thankfully, there were only two bad apples: the sleep-inducing Melora and nausea-inducing Sanctuary, with Rules of Acquisition only marginally better. That leaves a whole lot of the episodes simply "there", hovering around the average mid-tier, not bad, but not particularly intriguing either.

And then, the second half happened. The increase in overall quality is remarkable, with 10 out of the remaining 14 episode either good or great. Even those lesser 4 are solid installments, well worth a watch. What sets the majority of these episodes apart is the intense focus on what this show does best: setting and character evolution. The Maquis two-parter does a fine job setting up the eponymous rebel group, all the while exploring thorny political issues like the cost of peace through great character pairings, be they Sisko and Dukat, Quark and Sakonna, or even Sisko and Hudson (sadly marred by latter's wooden delivery).

Bajoran politics get a welcome jolt of energy with underappreciated The Collaborator, an episode that treats us to kai Winn in all her delicious villainy and that also serves as an interesting examination of what it means to choose lesser evil. Blood Oath is a quintessential Klingon episode and by far the best vehicle Dax has had thus far, while Crossover is a dark and unsettling peek through the looking glass, a triumph of mood and atmosphere. The season culminates with the long-expected introduction of the Dominion, which is a fine episode when viewed in retrospect, but a striking one when initially exposed to it.

Any review of this season would not be complete without mentioning The Wire, a masterpiece of slowly increasing psychological tension, a fascinating look into Garak's mind, and a perfect showcase for Andrew Robinson's talents. Although I have seen the episode several times in years past, it was still a revelation to me on my latest re-watch; the sheer power and intensity of Robinson's portrayal is like nothing I've seen on Trek.

In case it's not clear, it's the characters that shine the brightest. Season 2 continues to build upon the already solid foundation of Season 1 and really comes into its own in this regard. Last year I awarded the Best Character Award to Kira, Odo, and Quark, with Kira slipping behind Odo this time around, not because she's badly served by the material, but simply because she's not as much focused on in many of the episodes like she was the previous year. Odo -- or should I say Rene -- is busier than ever with multiple episodes examining what makes him tick... and what makes him tick isn't always all that pleasant to see. The darker side of his need for law and order rears its head on more than one occasion. Quark is eminently watchable as ever, and except for a writerly slip-up in Invasive Procedures, has a lot of solid material throughout the season.

Much like last year, Sisko is often in the background, having a charismatic presence as station commander, but scripts don't seem to involve him nearly as much as earlier Trek shows did their commanding officers. And frankly, I'm fine with this. Deep Space Nine redefined the word "ensemble" in Star Trek, and Sisko is almost more a mayor of a frontier town than he is a classic military CO. His relationship with Jake is still strong, delivering some very solid scenes in episodes like Second Sight, Shadowplay, and The Jem'Hadar. Avery and Cirroc work great together.

Bashir's and O'Brien's Bromance has a real start this season, for which I am grateful to a level probably best not admitted outside nerdy circles. The Bromance Watch identifies these two essential episodes this year: Rivals and Armageddon Game, with Crossover warranting an honorable mention for the way Bashir befriends and turns Mirror O'Brien to his cause.

Dax is still the weakest link, but thankfully writers have identified this as well and taken much needed steps to rectify the issue. Although there's only so much they can do with Farrell's limited range, I nevertheless find her character in a much better spot. She's livelier, more joyful and adventurous, with a zest for life that is quite refreshing... she's essentially been Curzonified, but that's okay since Jadziafication obviously didn't work and amounted to little more than dispassionate whispery sleepiness.

Last but not least, Season 2 is when DS9 patented Side Character Bonanza truly got going. Rom and Nog continue to be regular fixtures on the show, ved... err... kai Winn returns with a vengeance, but it's Garak and Dukat that steal every scene they are in with powerhouse performances by Andrew Robinson and Marc Alaimo. And Morn, well, Morn is the barfly we all love. At least he's prettier than that other Hollywood Barfly that surgeried himself into... whatever that is.

All in all, after a disappointing start, this season rebounded quite nicely, a definite step-up from Season 1. If it continues the way it's been going the last half-season, the show's in good hands.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 24, 2020, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Second Season Recap

My ratings of all Season episodes on both 4-star and 10-point scales. Some of these may differ from ratings given on several of the episode threads.

The Homecoming: * * * (8.0)
The Circle: * * * (7.5)
The Siege: * *.5 (5.5)
Invasive Procedures: * *.5 (6.0)
Cardassians: * * * (8.0)
Melora: * * (4.0)
Rules of Acquisition: * * (5.0)
Necessary Evil: * * *.5 (9.5)
Second Sight: * *.5 (6.0)
Sanctuary: *.5 (3.5)
Rivals: * *.5 (6.5)
The Alternate: * *.5 (6.0)
Armageddon Game: * * * (7.5)
Whispers: * * *.5 (8.5)
Paradise: * * * (7.0)
Shadowplay: * *.5 (6.5)
Playing God: * *.5 (5.5)
Profit and Loss: * *.5 (6.0)
Blood Oath: * * *.5 (9.0)
The Maquis I: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Maquis II: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Wire: * * * * (10)
Crossover: * * *.5 (9.0)
The Collaborator: * * *.5 (8.5)
Tribunal: * *.5 (5.5)
The Jem'Hadar: * * * (8.0)

Season average: 2.86 stars (7.06 out of 10)
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Paul M.
Tue, Dec 22, 2020, 1:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Blood Oath

Ugh, that last sentence should read "I like the *system* because..."
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Paul M.
Tue, Dec 22, 2020, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Blood Oath

@EventualZen

Not quite. If we assume half-star increments and a minimum rating of 1 star (although Jammer's ratings can on occasion dip lower), there are 7 possible star ratings available. On the other hand, on a 1-10 scale with half-point increments, there are 20 possible ratings. Obviously, one rating system won't mirror the other perfectly.

Anyway, I'm using the old Jammer 10-point scale from back in the day where:
1 star and below = 2 and below
1.5 stars = 2.5 - 3.5
2.0 stars = 4.0 - 5.0
2.5 stars = 5.5 - 6.5
3.0 stars = 7.0 - 8.0
3.5 stars = 8.5 - 9.5
4.0 stars = 10

I like the because it reserves the elusive 4 star rating only for the best of the best.
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