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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 6:26am (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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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Paul M.
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

Re: DSC vs Expanse worldbuilding,

I agree with many above who voiced concerns regarding Discovery worldbuilding, especially after having seen the phenomenal job The Expanse did in this regard. And honestly, it's not that difficult to see where the issues are.

In Discovery Season 3, we are transported into the far future where the Federation is much diminished with many species apparently holding some kind of grudge against it. Yet after 10 episodes, although finding the cause of the Burn and rebuilding the Federation are ostensibly the main objectives of the seasonal arc with various people going on constantly about the good old days when Federation banner flew high, we STILL haven't seen a single Federation homeworld and/or species, and what's more, our entire interaction with both the Federation and Starfleet amounts to one small set and two people - the admiral and David Cronenberg. That's not myopic; that's total blindness! We have no intellectual or emotional connection to this new world because we nothing about it!

EXPANSE SPOILERS!!!!! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!!!!

Contrast this with the Expanse Season 1. The show invented the entire Earth-based subplot, which didn't take all that much time, only a couple of scenes per episode, in order to bring Avasarala into the show from the get-go. To do it, aside from Avasarala (UN assistant undersecretary) as the focus of the subplot, the show introduced us to her husband, grandson, UN Undersecretary, top UN Navy admiral, UN ambassador to Mars and his husband, CEO of a huge Earth corporation, and several other bit players.

Then in Season 2, when the planetside plotline really gets going, we also get UN Secretary-General, several additional high ranking military personnel (new UN navy C-in-C, commander of the Jupiter fleet, science advisor to the cabinet), Avasarala's bodyguard and spy, etc.

And this only regarding one specific subplot. Not to mention the sense of place, again only regarding Earth - Avasarala's home, various governmental offices, beautiful-looking lobby of the UN building, outside shots, and even a 5 minute scene in a gorgeous underwater zoo/aquarium because why not. And establishing shots everywhere, that linger and breathe and make environment itself a character. Watching The Expanse and its characters, you can truly get a wondrous sense of scale, of time and place.

Meanwhile, in 32nd century Trek, unimaginable vastness of space consists of one smallish room that is the center of an interstellar union and several planets represented by a couple people each.
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Paul M.
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Blood Oath

Forgetting the star rating, silly me.

* * *1/2 or 9.5 out of 10
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Paul M.
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Blood Oath

"The only weight I carry now, dear comrade, is my own bulbous body. I was once, if you remember, far less than you see and far more and far more than what I have become."
- Kor, Klingon Dahar Master (in Jon Colicos's inimitable voice)

Blood Oath may not be the season's best episode -- though it is close -- but it is its most poignant. It is an adventure story, a mythical quest, the best Dax episode by far, but it is also a love letter to the franchise's past, embodied in the original three Klingons from TOS that make an appearance.

And what a trio they are! While Koloth had a strong screen presence, I was mesmerized by Kor's joyful wistfulness, the way he can turn from a silly drunkard to a larger than life figure to an old man living in his past. And don't get me started on Ansara's (Kang) voice and line delivery. Brilliant.

A few episodes ago, I was critical of how abruptly writers began to retool Dax's character, and while I still think they could have been a bit more elegant, Peter G. shared an interesting view of her that did change my own understanding of Jadzia's motivations. Admirably, writers stuck with it and proceeded to feature the new and improved Dax, although hampered to an extent by Farrell's limited range. Dax's dilemma in this episode is well structured: before she can embark on the quest, she has to prove her worth, and before she can do that, she has to confront her own feelings regarding the matter. Are Curzon's commitments her own? Is she willing to kill to honor them? What will those closest to her think of her? There's a lot to untangle here and it leads to several outstanding scenes: Jadzia's clumsy attempt to get Kira's insight into what it means to kill; reminding Kor of his own legend, as he is still a Klingon Dahar Master (the quote at the top); intense confrontation with Kang ("Come and fight with us. Come and be damned!"). This is some quality stuff.

But what I find most fascinating about this episode is the way it interprets the Klingon culture. It's an opinion shared by many that Trek has over the years bungled Klingons more often than not by turning them into bloodthirsty savages who drink, fight, and yell a lot (let's not even mention Discovery). To me, Klingons are at their most interesting when writers embrace the underlying theatricality of the race, when they paint them with bold strokes and find in them virtues and flaws that speak to the viewer as commentary we can all understand and sympathize with. In that sense, Kor, Kang, and Koloth are not just men, they are forces of nature, embodiments of everything fans find so compelling about the race: true honor, relentless devotion to a cause, enjoying life to the fullest, but also rashness, cherishing past more than looking towards the future, being much too eager to welcome death.

Related to this, I appreciated how Jadzia's own outside perspective as someone who is intimately familiar with Klingon culture but isn't a part of it, allows her to see the folly of the original plan ("It is a good day to die" vs "It is a good day to live") and propose the alternative that utilizes skills specific to her, Jadzia as opposed to Curzon. Writers manage to imbue Jadzia with a specific voice that nevertheless owes much to Curzon yet is distinctly her own, something they've had significant problem with in the past.

The ending? Kang and Koloth die, but they *are* Klingons. We in the audience may be sad that they didn't manage to pull off a miracle and live, but to the two Dahar Masters, that's the way to go: in a blaze of glory. A fitting end for legends.
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Paul M.
Sun, Dec 20, 2020, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Playing God

You defend the episode's merits admirably, Peter! I particularly find your Watsonian explanation of why Jadzia seemingly suddenly behaves the way she does very enlightening. I have no clue whether that was writer's intention, but it does hold up to scrutiny.

I do still think that Arjin's "growth" is too muddled to make much sense of. To me, his confrontation with Jadzia in the science lab doesn't come across as Arjin standing up to her or being forceful, he seems petulant and childish and unable to respond to criticism in a remotely mature way. Afterward, he goes straight to the bottle to drown his sorrows... which only further paints him as a totally clueless guy. Maybe it's not fair to mention this, because Trek never really had a good relationship with numbers, but for me Arjin's fate was sealed when they mentioned that only 300 candidates are chosen for joining each year. Think about it. 300 people out of however many millions or billions of Trills. And this guy we should consider as a prospective candidate? If he gets joined, I shudder to think what other Trills are like.
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Paul M.
Sun, Dec 20, 2020, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

Concerning The Expanse, I urge everyone to give it a try and watch the whole thing. Great characters, phenomenal plotting, it's part thriller, part mystery, part good old-fashioned sci-fi. And its showrunner is Naren Shankar, who started his career on TNG as writer and story editor.

A contingent of fans had problems with the first half of the first season, complaining about the slow start and unengaging story, but that certainly wasn't my experience. I felt the show's grip on me from the very first episode, but hey, if it doesn't appeal to you from the word go, give a couple episodes. You won't regret it.
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Paul M.
Sun, Dec 20, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Playing God

Discovering who you really are... or something... is the name of the game in this episode... I guess. Writers should have included Jake's subplot from the last episode here. There he finally admitted to the old man that he doesn't want to join Starfleet with Sisko giving Jake some sage advice about finding out what he wants to do and doing it the best he possibly can. It'd be perfect alongside Dax/Arjin storyline and might even elevate the episode to something resembling watchable. On the other had, we did have a very nice scene where Jake tells Ben he's in love with a girl... sorry, a *woman*, so that's something. These two always work well together.

The main story, though, ugh, among the dullest the entire season with dubious character work and flat performances, which I sadly have come to expect from Farrell, not that Arjin actor is much better.

I found the way that writers suddenly retooled Dax's character very jarring. I was no fan of hers last season, but one would hope the process would be more gradual. Now, all of a sudden, after more than 30 episodes have passed, we find out that Dax collects the work of lost composers, sings Klingon songs with lively Klingon chefs, wrestles with the best of them (hmmm, that *wrestling* thing always seemed a tad... ribald), and hangs out with a bunch of Ferengis. This last one was actually the only thing that was previously established. Jadzia's character always needed more oomph, so I guess it's better late than never to shake her up a bit, but jeez they really went for the sledgehammer, didn't they?

As for Arjin, he was a blank slate when we first met him and he remained a blank slate when we last met him. What exactly was it that convinced Jadzia he'd make a good candidate for the joining? He's clueless, boring, insecure, bland and doesn't know a first thing about pretty much anything except flying. I get that the episode tried to parallel this with Jadzia's own joining and make some kind of point about growing as a person and finding your own voice and way through life, but it was all so muddled that I am still not sure what they were going for. What did Arjin learn? What did flying a protouniverse through the wormhole while avoiding verteron nodes like a pro teach about what it means to be a joined Trill? What did Jadzia learn from her turn as a mentor? The episode ends with her smiling and saying to herself "I am not Curzon", but how and why did she arrive at that conclusion as a consequence of her experience with Arjin? Because she wasn't a total ass with him (as presumably Curzon was to her)?

Protouniverse stuff pretty much went nowhere. I was intrigued for a moment when Dax detected life within it, but that wasn't pursued at all, and wasn't something writers were interested in. Just another ticking clock scenario to hurry up the proceedings.

So, what was good here? DS9 being DS9, there are always fun vignettes sprinkled around. Quark's lifecoaching advice to Arjin was hilarious and true to what we've come to expect from him. For all my bitching about suddenness of Jadzia's transformation, I do think it's needed in the long run and am curious to see how it pans out. O'Brien's vole problem -- resulting in another instance of Quark screaming or groveling -- is a silly little subplot that I enjoyed nevertheless. And, as mentioned, Sisko and Jake have great onscreen chemistry and are usually well served by the script.

Final rating: it teeters on the brink. I just can't make up my mind for now. It's either:
High two stars * * / 5 out of 10 ; or
Low two-and-a-half stars * * 1/2 / 5.5 out of 10
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Paul M.
Sat, Dec 19, 2020, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Armageddon Game

Ah, I've always liked this one a great deal and it mostly comes down to The Bromance. The story itself is nothing we haven't seen on Trek: some silly-looking aliens (those hairstyles really *are* hideous) want to kill our jolly heroes. Shame on them! But character work is extremely solid and it elevates the entire episode. It certainly stuck with me over the decades!

All the O'Brien / Bashir scenes are good, but the one where they talk about marriage being the ultimate adventure because you are on it together is particularly memorable. Bashir reminisces about his great ballerina love back on Earth that he hasn't heard from since graduating and how career officers are so often forced to put their duty ahead of marriage and family. Their conversations are understated and natural... and the more O'Brien expresses his annoyance with Bashir, the more it's clear there's real respect behind the gruff exterior. When O'Brien says "it's been an honor serving with you", you can feel he's sincere. He started liking the good Doctor and it's a sweet moment. Of course, he can never admit as much to himself, so when Keiko asks him how it was to spend all that time alone with Bashir, he responds with "it was hell!". I love these two!

Stationside scenes were perhaps a bit too pat which does bring episode down a notch. Keiko doesn't have much of a reaction, but that is probably a matter of Rosalind Chao's limitations as an actress as much as a matter of direction. I did find Quark's toast a very good example of how to use Quark properly, always a Ferengi yet with much more to him than meets the eye. Also, that Bashir gave his journals to Dax so she can understand him better and the fact that she never got around to reading them is such a nice way to remind the audience of the fun connection these two have.

Armageddon Game is an episode that had no right to work nearly as well as it does. But when a show takes time to flesh all these characters, as DS9 has done over the past year and a half, we shouldn't really be surprised with the results.

* * *
7.5 out of 10.
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Paulus Marius Rex
Sat, Dec 19, 2020, 2:05am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 1

I am fascinated to see there are people who liked this episode. I disliked it. A lot. I thought it was terrible. Abominably awful. 0/4. Granted, I am sick of the MU, and Georgiou, but I am also sick of terrible writing, overdone schmalz, and belabouring a storyline that should have long ago been wrapped up. Yawn. But I am sincerely fascinated that people liked it. It goes to show. Different strokes for different folks!
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Paul M.
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

I know it'll never happen, but Jammer needs to review The Expanse pronto. I hope he watches it at least. The best space-based sci-fi of the 21st century, next to BSG.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: First Season Recap

My complete Season 1 rankings on both 4-star and 1-10 scales:

Emissary: * * * 1/2 (9/10)
Past Prologue: * * * (7/10)
A Man Alone: * * (5/10)
Babel: * * (5/10)
Captive Pursuit: * * 1/2 (6.5/10)
Q-Less: * * 1/2 (6/10)
Dax: * * * (7.5/10)
The Passenger: * * (5/10)
Move Along Home: * * (4.5/10)
The Nagus: * * 1/2 (5.5/10)
Vortex: * * * (7/10)
Battle Lines: * * 1/2 (6.5/10)
The Storyteller: * * 1/2 (5.5/10)
Progress: * * * 1/2 (9/10)
If Wishes Were Horses: * * 1/2 (6.5/10)
The Forsaken: * * 1/2 (6/10)
Dramatis Personae: * * 1/2 (6.5/10)
Duet: * * * * (10/10)
In the Hands of the Prophets: * * * 1/2 (8.5/10)

Average score: 2.61 stars (6.66/10)

All in all, a slightly above average season, but still neither here nor there.
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Siege

Frank Langella may disagree! ;)
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Paul M.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Siege

@Peter G.: "they are just bad guy terrorists led by Skeletor"

Ah, a connoisseur of Dolph Lundgren's opus from the 80s! I approve. :)

Yes, the trilogy needed clearer plotting: what exactly was Jarro's plan and how did he intend to achieve it. Devote more time to socio-political climate on Bajor. What do people (and Starfleet for that matter) think of the provisional government, what are its failings and why does the military think the current situation is untenable?

Ideally, much of the groundwork should have been done in Season 1, Babylon 5 style, but barring that, this three-parter had enough time to flesh out these issues instead of culminating with boring phaser fights.
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