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James Band
Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Cease Fire

Agreed with Quibbles.

Great episode.
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Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: The Crossing

I liked this episode. Yes, there could have been an alternative story about encountering new civilisations. But the story this episode had was pretty decent as a thriller.

The ship looked like an Independence Day style ship that basically did a Bond style scoop up of the Enterprise. I thought it was interesting when some crew members were essentially compromised and they had to have Security confine them.

Hoshi is hot. The scene with the compromised Hoshi trying to trick the Doctor was cool. I found it hilarious that the Doctor had to go to see the patient with a phaser/gun. Reminded me also of Voyager's doctor being the only immune last defence against hostile forces.

Perhaps not destroying the ship via a multi part episode banding together with "good guys" within these lifeforms would have been preferable to destroying their ship and killing them.

Given the circumstances, the Enterprise acted in self defence and was justified in destroying them. They were after all trying to take the ship and the lives of all aboard.
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James G
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

A superb episode this one; possibly one of the very best of the fifth series so far. These more personal stories are not really my thing; I'd far rather have a confrontation with Romulans or an alien entity taking over the ship's computer. But this personal story was actually quite compelling.

It's difficult to imagine that Starfleet health & safety protocols are so poor that a heavy item of cargo can flatten someone in a cargo bay. It's also hard to imagine that a civilisation with warp drive, replicator and transporter technology can't fix a broken spine (either Beverley or Russell uses the word "humanoid" to describe Worf. Wouldn't it be amusing if the other "humanoid" species had a similar convention? I'd love to hear Worf describe Riker or Picard as "klingonoid").

Anyway - upon this shaky foundation, a rather engaging story is constructed.

I find Picard's attitude much wiser than Riker's. Riker's speech to Worf in sick bay is a bit overcooked. It's selfishly human-centric. But it has a powerful twist, when he insists that Worf's son should be the one to assist him to die.

Patrick Stewart acts beautifully in this one - check out the uncertainty and caution in his manner before he asks Beverley to consider using the experimental treatment.

I'm not a liberal, or a feminist. But this episode passes the Bechdel Test very handsomely, and that's unusual and welcome. But I find Beverley 's stance and dialogue rather sanctimonious.

A nitpick - Russell describes Klingon anatomy as a good design, but not practical. But evolution doesn't do impractical. It doesn't throw in superfluous ideas on a whim, like rear seat vanity mirrors in a car.

I think there are some actual good old-fashioned CRT monitors in sick bay in one of the scenes when we see Riker in there.

The twist when we see that Worf survives after all reminded me of Spock's inner eyelids preventing him from going blind.

It occurred to me that this would have been a very good way to write out Worf's character, had that been necessary. It would have been dramatic and effective, much more so than seeing him lose his life in some Klingon factional conflict or to a Romulan disruptor. Powerful and unexpected, like Henry Blake's demise in M*A*S*H.

Anyway - really very good.
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James G
Sat, Aug 29, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Power Play

The old bodysnatchers ploy again, eh? Quite popular in original series stories if I remember correctly.

I quite liked it - interesting mystery, quite suspenseful. I do think it would have been better if the alien entities had actually turned out to be from the crew of the Essex, as we'd been led to believe. But I quite like the idea of a penal colony for disembodied cosnciousnesses. A bit like the Phantom Zone, and I suspect that Superman II might have been the inspiration for this episode. The three villains do remind me of Zod and his two sidekicks.

Speaking of which - it makes no sense that an Android could be inhabited and controlled in exactly the same way as Troi and O'Brien, but it does give Brent Spiner an opportunity to indulge his mean side. I think he has a penchant for villainous roles.

The solution to the problem - a containment field - seems a bit easy. It's an anti-climactic conclusion.

That shuttle looks tiny on the surface of the planet. Nice to see Ro again. Very odd that Picard so easily lets O'Brien risk his life in what Geordi says is a 50/50 risk of death.

Not a great one, not bad.
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James G
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Conundrum

Another very good one, I thought. It makes no sense that MacDuff doesn't make himself an admiral. But other than that I think it's a pretty coherent episode. I must admit that I didn't think the crew reacted "naturally" to suddenly being without memory, but the camera work when they do is nicely unsettling.

Worf's self-appointed spell in command is a lovely touch. Ensign Ro improves any episode she appears in (though why - given she's an ensign, does she appear so prominently in the manifest?)

It's hard to accept that a culture that's apparently so backward, technologically, to the Federation - despite being an extremly warlike race, they have only weak and underdeveloped weaponry - could so easily overcome the crew and its computer systems.

I laughed when the crew manifest came up and the computer wrote the text to the screen like a teletype. A mid '80s home computer could fill a screen with information retrieved from a floppy drive a lot faster than that. That's one of my sci-fi pet hates. Computers of the future always display information one letter at a time.

Kirk would have ended that war. I can't buy that Deanna would beat Data at 3D chess. Or anyone, really.

Good one! I hadn't seen it before and the mystery and suspense held up throughout.
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Daniel Prates
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

Not once but twice on the episode Ryker says's "PORTHOS A LA YUTA" in the weirdest of manners.... like a gringo intentionally emphasising a foreign dish's name or something. Not cool Riker!
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Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

If DS9's universe is one where the prophets are in charge, then the cause and effect relationships we see aren't actually real. They just appear that way. It would be like a lego toy in a sandbox looking at all these things going on, trucks moving sand, lego people moving around, and thinking objects impact other objects. Meanwhile it's all been the giant kid in the sky all along. So that's another point that DS9 is confused about, apparently. I remember wishing it would decide one way or the other.
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Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

Okay. Now imagine a show which depicted a number of people having visions of Jesus, receiving guidance which then led to avoidance of some major disaster. Would that mean anything to a non-believer?
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Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

One last thing I forgot to add - there is no scientific proof of God or gods in DS9. Sisko's experiences are about as valuable to science as alien abduction stories. No one can even verify he had those experiences, and he is the only one experiencing them.
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Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

"Yes, and this is the cool sci-fi premise that I think gets underappreciated. People like to take the piss out of religion nowadays, fair enough. But what this show does is take a 'typical' religious people who believe the 'usual' nonsense, and right in the first episode a scientific expedition sets out to find the basis of their beliefs, and bam, we get a bona fide discovery that lends a new light on their historic traditions. This is sci-fi at its best, to look at what may have originally spawned their religion, scientifically speaking. Sure, sure, their beliefs are nonsense, right? Except hold on, now we find out they actually came *from something real*. To me that's a really cool premise. What if one day we discover, using 27th century technology, a way to reproduce exactly the parting the Red Sea, and realize thatt they were using ancient alien technology? I'd read that book. Turns out the aliens weren't just alien, but so far removed from us that it's hard to even imagine what to make of them. 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles something akin to this, where we play a part in some larger schema that we could barely hope to comprehend. Now what comes after the discovery is indeed a big deal to sort out as the writing team."

It's an interesting premise for sci-fi, I agree, but it's far more significant for non-believers than for believers. To give something a scientific basis is tremendously important for atheists and agnostics. But it is less important for a religious person than revelatory experience and direct communication with God, because for a religious person those are the reality, and everything else is dependent on it, including the scientific proof.

That's why I don't think a Bajoran would react all that strongly to someone, an alien someone, describing their revelations in a wormhole with a vague incomprehensible being or force. Their race has already had interactions with aliens, they're nothing special. Maybe it would, at best, confirm their beliefs, or maybe not. That the revelation happened in a newly discovered space phenomenon, would not be seen as all that amazing.

There are a ton of books written in the last few decades about revelations just like Sisko's experience, and they're not exactly best-sellers. There are fringe communities extremely interested in them, from both believer and non-believer sides, but they are nowhere near as big as traditional religion. For me, personally, the example you used with the Red Sea parting, would most likely have very little to do with my beliefs, and I'd take no more than a passing interest in it.
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James G
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Really liked this one a lot. I hadn't seen it before. I especially liked the way it overcame and avoided some irresistible cliches. The leader of the genetically engineered society, for example - I expected him to be a villain, but his character is much more nuanced than that.

And the episode's ultimate conclusion - in the original series, Kirk would have forced them to abandon their wrongful ways and converted them to a more "normal" way of life. I'm sure there's a TOS episode where he ends up getting them to reproduce by having sex instead of some artificial method. But here it's much more nuanced, there's a real ethical question mark left hanging.

There's one really obvious flaw in this story, and it seems quite avoidable to me. The colony scientist. How could someone from a society that is, by her own admission, considerably less technologically advanced, and isolated from human technology by a couple of centuries, have been able to assist Geordi so capably? How could she have the necessary insight and understanding of Federation power systems? She operates the technology in engineering like she's been doing it for years.

And there's an example in this one of something that comes up time and again in Star Trek stories - Geordi or B'Elanna, or Scotty or Data or someone else comes up with a massive scientific technological breakthrough on the spur of the moment. Following a five minute conversation, about Geordi's glasses, the Federation now has the ability to move super-massive objects in space.

It's not clear (or perhaps I've forgotten) how big the colony is, but their leader makes his important pronouncement without the aid of a microphone surrounded by about 30 people. Star Trek does that sort of thing a lot, where a small town seems to stand in for a whole planet sometimes.

I don't really buy the relationship between Troi and the colony leader and it seems to add nothing to the plot. Furthermore the conclusion is real 1940s Hollywood cheese overload. Her dramatic apology to Picard that she's been unprofessional doesn't really wash, either. Riker seems to do that all the time.

Speaking of which - that turbolift journey seems to take a while. Over a century since the invention of the Transporter, isn't it a bit low tech to travel between decks in that fashion?

One nice touch is the piano recital given by the boy in the colony. It's cold and mechanical, intended I think to suggest a lack of warmth and humanity in the society he belongs to.

Anyway - if only because it represents an interesting ethical dilemma with an uncertain outcome that steers away from a predictable formula, I think this is one of the better Series 5 episodes.
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Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

"Those gods never, never, never possess moral authority over human beings; they only possess coercive power over them. "

What exactly do you mean by this? I can't speak so much for Greek and Norse gods, but from what I can see the iconography of the whole pantheon of Hindu gods is to do with moral authority.
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Sun, Aug 23, 2020, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

"everything is drawn to look so simple and childish"

Your opinions are simple and childish.
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James G
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Violations

I have no memory of having seen this one before, and I don't think the Ullians could help me with that. I think I actually hadn't seen it before.

But despite its flaws, I quite liked it. The mental archaeology aspect of it is quite original, though I'm not a fan of telepathy in the Star Trek universe. It feels a bit like magic. I wish just once it would be explained in terms of highly-evolved neuro-electro-receptors receiving faint electrical transmissions from brain activity. Or something.

But I digress. It's probably a mistake that the villain of the piece is revealed early on and the method by which Geordi and Data determine his identity is highly predictable. My own neuro-receptors had no difficulty seeing that one coming.

The hallucination sequences, if I can call them that, with the warped lens effect and the distorted sound are really effective - bravo. And Jev is beautifully creepy when he cerebrally assaults Deanna at the end, telling her how lovely she is - I was cringing. Really well done.

I thought Younger Picard's hair was quite realistic although it didn't look like that in real life; he was bald for many years before he did TNG so they could have left well alone.

It always amuses me when different species sit down to have dinner together. People from different cultures on Earth often don't have the same dinner etiquette.

And at the end, when Picard and Tarmin are recounting how their cultures used to be bloody and violent centuries earler, it would have been a nice touch for Worf to chime in with "my planet's pretty much still like that, actually".

Good one, not especially memorable but decently average for the fifth series.
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James G
Tue, Aug 18, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Hero Worship

I can certainly see a similarity of theme between this one and the previous episode, but I found this one much more engaging. I did smile when the old "trapped under a beam" cliche came out again, though.

I found it engaging and interesting. The aspect about the dark cluster and its strange powers was perhaps a bit undercooked. Perhaps if the Enterprise had been in peril for the last 30 minutes, and only the boy held the secret to their escape. Or something.

Even so, a good one. I care slightly less about whether the symptoms of the boy's trauma are realistic than whether a Heisenberg Compensator would work in the real world.

Not a lot to nit-pick in this one, either.
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James G
Sun, Aug 16, 2020, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: New Ground

I knew I was going to find this one tiresome as soon as I discovered it was about Worf's family. And I did. I can't make this a general criticism, perhaps it's just me but I find these family relationship episodes very dull. The one exception is the one about Picard and his brother, set in France, which was at least watchable.

This one plays out extremely predictably. The sub-plot about the magic energy wave is too thin to rescue it. And where does all its energy come from? It appears to grow in size and power until it's big and beefy enough to destroy planets that happen, against literally astronomical odds I would have thought, to get in its way.

i started to get mildly interested seven minutes from the end when the two plots converged and Alexander is trapped, in a particularly brazen cliche, under a steel beam. Strange that a starship should have less reliable fire suppression than I'd expect in a modern building in the present day.

Anyway, I got through it.
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Chris Lopes
Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

I watched the first episode and it is quite silly, but not entirely unwatchable. For those who want to play in the TNG universe, this could be comfort viewing, with jokes. It's not quite my cup of Earl Grey hot, but I can see why others might like it.

As to Jammer not reviewing it, it's his blog and his life. He kept this thread open as a courtesy, and that's more than he really had to do. He owes us nothing.
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Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

Damn, you're right... property laws are wonderful. Where would we be if some bastard who finds an apple tree and puts a fence around it, saying "this is mine, the rest of you f*ckers can all go hungry" couldn't get the backup of powerful laws and forces. Where would we be if we were obliged to share instead of keeping things we deem "ours" for ourselves?
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James G
Thu, Aug 13, 2020, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

I like this one a lot, despite the shaky foundations it's built upon. I'm always a sucker for time travel stories. They never withstand careful scrutiny. This one is more troublesome than most. But it's intriguing.

In the end it's a pretty simple plot and the conclusion is a bit anti-climactic. But I enjoyed the mystery, and Matt Frewer's performance.

Possibly the biggest problem with this notion of historians from the future turning up at significant events, is that said events would be crowded with them. There'd be a few historians from every decade after time travel was invented at the first Beatles concert, at Caesar's assassination, in Normandy on D Day, etc etc.

I really enjoyed the philosophical dialogue about ethics between the self-styled Professor and Picard. But the discussion they have could easily influence Picard away from his intended course. Furthermore, all Picard has to do is to announce that he's taking either option, and wait for the Prof's reaction to see what he's "supposed" to do.

Nice to see the greenhouse effect get a mention, it was very topical at the time as I recall. Back then ozone-friendly products were very fashionable as well, but that doesn't get much of a mention these days.

Surely Data would notice Rasmussen stealing from under his nose? If he's capable of listening to a dozen orchestral performances at the same time surely he can process what's going on in the corner of his eye.

Also - this idea that Rasmussen can pretend to "invent" the items he steals from the future is problematic. You couldn't even take a mobile phone from 1997 back to 1977 and "invent" it, the technology within these devices is actually based on a whole raft of different inventions, from the display technology to the memory to the particular microprocessor technology to the battery chemistry. I doubt anyone in the 22nd century could sufficiently analyse a device from a century and more into the future to gain any useful manufacturing insight from it.

Oh and the manner in which the planet, Penthara IV is threatened, then saved - seems really weak techno-nonsense to me. Imagine the speed of what we see happening on the surface when the Enterprise is somehow used as a sort of space vacuum cleaner. Consider that on Earth, high speed hurricane winds look immobile from real time satellite imagery, due to the scale involved.

I Googled Matt Frewer after I watched this, to discover that he was Max Headroom! Talented and charismatic performer for sure. I thought getting Rasmussen to try to bang Crusher was a nice touch.

Anyway - despite the misgivings described above, I really did enjoy it.
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Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 6:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

@Jason R "Does it concern you that the protests, peaceful or violent, seem to be accomplishing exactly 0 as far as reforming the police? "

Maybe that means the protests aren't violent enough. Here's something to think about: In Trek lore, it took the biggest, most devastating world war to change things for the better.

My problem is I don't envisage any kind of future built on the foundations we have now as a good future, or even a realistic one. At some stage there's going to have to be huge demolition going on of what isn't working (which is an awful lot), there's going to be a lot of resistance, and it's not going to be pretty. Star Trek in some ways agrees with that, with a World War 3 and a number of other revolutions. The warp drive doesn't come from a university scholar but from the ashes of a war, and I love that Cochrane, an outsider not a ivory tower scholar, even rejects the idea of a statue of him.

If people are willing to accept Jefferson and co idolized for the good they did despite their 'minor flaws' like owning slaves, isn't it hypocrisy to say that you're unwilling to accept any amount of violence that might put an end to a violent system?
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Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 1:14am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

I don't really care about the vandalism of statues, nor would I call them violence. They're an unpleasant (for some) side-effect of a reaction against violence that has been occurring for many centuries. And they're a good thing, unless we want that violence to continue (and many do, whether consciously or not).

When people read about or see on the news around the world about statues being toppled, it brings awareness to the idolization of figures who haven't had the best interest of the masses at heart, contrary to what we've been taught. People start to question why. We need to start questioning everything we've been taught in school, because we were taught very badly. If that has to start with tearing down statues, then so be it. Call it vandalism if you like, but they're public property so it's the public who apparently has something to lose, and from my point of view we've been losing the whole time we idolize these historical figures.
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James G
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Unification

Wonderful to see Spock in a TNG, but ..

The first episode is slow and laborious. There's some very nice dialogue between Sarek and Picard, showcasing the talents of two brilliant actors. But the plot doesn't seem that interesting, and by the time the second part concludes, I had myself concluded that it's a dreadful story. It actually feels a bit like fan-fic. Boatloads of mawkish sentimentality, really awful cliches and stupid jokes - Riker being the hard man in the bar, the preposterous piano player, Worf's passion for Klingon opera.

The evil alien Queen who tells her captives the whole plan, like a Bond villain.

And the whole premise of the story is the shallowest cliche of all - an alien invasion fleet. They should have had them turn up in flying saucers.

Some good scenes again between Picard and Spock. Nimoy plays the older, more thoughtful, philosophical Spock really nicely. But again it really feels self-indulgent.

Without all the sentimental dialogue, gravitas and nostalgia you've got a really unimaginative and thin story here that you'd struggle to stretch to one episode, let alone two.

It's surprising to me that Romulans and Vulcans are supposed to have diverged "centuries" earlier - Romulans are as physically different from Vulcans as Neanderthals are from Homo Sapiens. That sort of evolutionary divergence takes many scores of thousands of years, not a few centuries.

The breaking of the ciphers to access the Romulan systems is far too easy, but then again this was made in the early '90s, and even modern TV dramas are similarly naive. Chloe from '24' is a perfect case in point.

What a shame that Spock and Sarek were provided with such an inferior vehicle for their return to the Star Trek universe.
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Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 5:09am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

At least TOS' giant hand in space served a purpose: it was an exploration of Arthur C Clarke's idea that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Apollo's power in the episode came only from his race's technology, and they were worshiped by ancient Greeks for it, with Kirk's crew still in awe of what he could do. The whole idea was for it to appear scientifically impossible, for it to appear as magic.

In the first episode of Lower Decks, we have a disease turning people into bile-spewing zombies, and a giant spider which attacks a crew member. For what purpose? Presumably to acquaint us with the crew. That doesn't make it a good use of the sci-fi premise. There's no reason it couldn't have been done in the Stargate or Firefly or Battlestar universe, or any other fictional universe.
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Sun, Aug 9, 2020, 2:02am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

You guys are wrong. It's a great show. Christian Blauvelt's review on IndieWire says it may be the most Trek series ever.
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Sat, Aug 8, 2020, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

The big problem with the episode isn't the dilemma itself ("shoot on sight" and "let's try to talk to it first, but with our weapons trained on it" are both justifiable given the threat the CE poses). The problem is the script is so firmly on Picard's side and doesn't really care about the alternate view - the scientist is written as a lunatic and the only other proponent of her view is Riker, who brings it up for five seconds and immediately drops it.

Plus Picard just comes across as completely up his own ass. Especially when he deals with Riker. Riker's whole job as a First Officer is to raise alternative viewpoints to the Captain, and when he actually bothers to do that here (a rare occurrence since Riker is usually useless), Picard immediately shuts him down with "oh, well I think you're just mad that your girlfriend blew up". Pretty nasty when you think about it, but Riker just takes it.

The ending scene is farcical. Data, who has no emotions of his own, manages to be absolutely "certain" in his extrapolation of how a dead person he's read the writing of would react. Not only is the end scene dumb, it also makes it completely clear that the script has chosen a side and is going to talk down to the opposite side. I think Picard is right, but at the same time, the script seeming to invite the viewer to be more angry with Marr for taking one life* than the CE for taking millions if not billions.

*and potentially not even a sapient life. You'd assume a creature of any intelligence might notice that the things it's vaporising look suspiciously like settlements full of people, or complicated manmade starships.
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