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Fenn
Sun, Dec 15, 2019, 7:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: The Passenger

For a split second when Vantika lets go of Quark early in the episode, you get a glimpse of his face, and even from that little glimpse I was pretty sure I recognised who that was. Naturally, watching a broadcast in the 90s, you wouldn't get to rewind or pause to get confirmation on that. Netflix with its handy -10s button? Yeah, that's Bashir.

Performance-wise, possessed Bashir as the villain doesn't work for me. Not in a played straight way, and not in a campy villain way. Denouement of this episode wasn't quite as effective as it could've been, as a result.
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Fenn
Sun, Dec 15, 2019, 3:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Dax

Fascinating episode. I'm intrigued by its choice to make no ruling on whether or not Jadzia Dax can be charged for the crimes of Curzon Dax, and I don't feel it's too fair to criticise it for that. Not all exploration of issues needs to have the story settle on a definite answer. Simply raising the questions, with each side allowed to voice their own opinions, is a valid method. In fact, I feel it's stronger for this. In terms of the plot, you'll naturally be led to side with the protagonists, and they're arguing in favour of the distinction between Curzon and Jadzia. Meanwhile, the argument that they're enough of the same entity is hypothetically going to lead to the removal of one of our main characters -- and of course that's not going to happen, so maybe you're even *expecting* Sisko et al to win the debate. Allowing the question to remain unanswered in-story liberates it from the attached plot and consequences, and essentially equalises the two sides of the argument. You can believe in a continuity between Curzon and Jadzia all you want -- Dax is no longer endangered by the answer.

The comparisons to The Measure of a Man are obvious, and practically draw themselves. Both are courtroom episodes where it's not a person on trial, but rather a concept relating to a major character's personhood. But TNG's take did come to a conclusion, and one that surely everyone has to have been rooting for, for Data's sake. When viewed in isolation from Jadzia's possible imprisonment, the fundamental question at the heart of this episode is far less black and white. It can't be equated with TMoaM's question of whether a beloved character should have his choices respected. The question of whether different forms of Dax should be treated as different entities doesn't fundamentally threaten their status as a character. Rather, it makes the character richer for it, and there's fascination to be found in both answers. Hell, I don't think there even *should* be an answer (when talking purely on a level of character analysis -- the pragmatics of criminal justice are, of course, a different matter). Dax is interesting from both perspectives, and to fully understand the character, both *should* be considered.
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Fenn
Fri, Dec 13, 2019, 6:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Aquiel

Eh, not tooooooooooo bad, but... eh. Knowing that "the dog did it" -- and not realising that till seconds before the dog transformed -- mostly just makes me feel a little stupid in hindsight. I guess I did fall for it. I do have a weakness for big, fluffy dogs.

I do find the whole bait-and-switch on the crystal thing kind of amusing, though. Geordi thinks he's about to have some mindblowing crystal-assisted semi-telepathic sexual experience, but gasp, she's actually a shapeshifting entity trying to steal his form! But wait, no, actually, sometimes a mindblowing crystal-assisted semi-telepathic sexual experience... really just *is* a mindblowing crystal-assisted semi-telepathic sexual experience. Thanks, Star Trek.
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Fenn
Fri, Dec 13, 2019, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Ship in a Bottle

Thoroughly enjoyable episode. It manages to reconcile the differing wants of everyone involved, in the end, and the reality created for Moriarty and the Countess is just as real as they are. I can't help wondering if they'd ever realise the deception, though, as the first layer of holodeck had the warp core glitch out when Picard threw something at it. Imagine a holodeck malfunction when the holodeck is your only existence.

I usually can't stand Barclay or his episodes, but there's little enough of him here to avoid much frustration with the episode. His interaction with the Countess is something of a fun moment, even, as is his wary "computer, end program" at the end. Don't worry, Barclay. You're real... or, at least, as real as our own "little device sitting on someone's table" makes you.
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Fenn
Thu, Dec 12, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

I've been looking forward to starting DS9. I'm glad I've decided to watch TNG and DS9 in airdate order, because I love the way the former transitions into the latter.

I can tell there's going to be far more of a sense of permanence here. The Cardassians withdrawing at the end of Chain of Command could so easily have been ignored on TNG from then on -- the Enterprise flies away, the problems aren't theirs to deal with any more, the crew gets another situation to get ankle deep into before moving onto yet another one. And hey, there's nothing inherently wrong with that kind of storytelling. I was raised on classic Doctor Who, which is pretty much as episodic as it gets -- you get the Doctor, the TARDIS, however many companions you've got and a few recurring enemies, and almost everything else will be unique to whichever episode they're in. It makes you feel like a bit of a cosmic tourist, staying long enough to get a feel for something and then moving on -- you get to do pretty much any kind of story you want, at the price of not being able to get too far into any of it.

Deep Space Nine, though? As I can tell so far, it's an entire goddamn *series* of storyline dedicated to the consequences of Starfleet's actions: the shifting of power in the region, and all that comes of that. By showing a lot of different worlds, TNG has made the universe feel more expansive. By taking time to focus on the ramifications, even DS9's existence so far is making the universe feel more *real*. Breadth versus depth. I'm fascinated to see what Star Trek can do with a series focused on exploring a situation in depth, and from what I hear, I'm in for a treat.

Thoughts on the characters, as they're established here:

- Sisko interests me well enough, and I appreciate the dad angle. I found myself really liking the scenes where he talks to... whatever's in the wormhole. They keep a momentum going through a ton of different settings and scenes.
- Jake Sisko > Wesley Crusher, at least from what I can tell so far.
- Poor O'Brien, going from a galaxy-class starship to a half-rusted space station. He's gonna need a lot more kicks where that came from. But god, this was better than anything I'd ever seen from him in TNG (except maybe The Wounded), and I'm looking forward to seeing him used better.
- Oh, naive idealistic Bashir. Wonder how he'll go here.
- You can count me a Kira fan already. I like her for a lot of the same reasons I like Ro Laren (which makes sense), and I'll appreciate her having more space for development than Ro did.
- Quark is a potentially interesting Ferengi who doesn't entirely make me want to bash my head against the wall, which is a good start and a break from the species' track record.
- Not enough of Dax or Odo yet for me to really make a judgement. Feels strange to be finally meeting Odo with René Auberjonois' death just a few days ago, though.
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 10:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: True Q

Well, this was definitely a better "what if human Q" episode than Hide and Q. It could've drawn in some of Riker's experience with sudden godlike being powers, but eh, I'm fine with forgetting all about that episode.

Still didn't have too much going for it. I don't think Amanda ever got elevated far above "generic", and you'd kind of hope a character's going to be a little more than just "generic" if you're going to give them godlike powers. (Sudden Q puberty. Quberty.)

Didn't get me laughing as much as Deja Q did (though John de Lancie is always compelling), didn't get me thinking or empathising as much as... any number of other episodes have. I'm gonna give this one a solid "eh, it was alright" -- a rough two and a half stars.
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

Bloody good one, this. My opinions pretty much fall in line with Jammer's review -- I certainly didn't expect an episode that began with Data's poetry recitals and a seemingly mundane sleepless Riker to build into genuine horror. The holodeck "table" scene was definitely a highlight, too -- I found it almost ridiculous to start out (ahh yes, the Enterprise crew collectively deciding how to construct a table, did someone misplace the IKEA instructions?) but grew into something far more sinister once it started to become clear exactly *what* kind of table they were remembering.

Not too often that TNG goes for this sort of tone. I loved it. The clicking in the alien room was a big part of the horror for me... and definitely helped offset any possible cheesiness from the design of the aliens.

also I love any appearance of the shi's barber, I want a haircut from him
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 5:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

I'm pretty sure Clemens ended up doing more for Guinan than Picard did. Picard pretty much only got the chance to stick around for a few minutes before Clemens got there.

To paraphrase a quote...

LAFORGE: What is it that you want in a man?
GUINAN: Me personally?
LAFORGE: As a woman. What's the first thing you look at?
GUINAN: His body of work.
LAFORGE: His body. Of course.
GUINAN: No, his body of work. I'm attracted to writers.
LAFORGE: Seriously?
GUINAN: Seriously.
LAFORGE: Why?
GUINAN: Maybe because a writer was very kind to me once when I was hurting. Took care of me.
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

@Chrome: ooh, thanks for the mini history lesson! I'm not American and didn't grow up learning their history -- always interesting to learn now.

@Jason R: Mhm, but to clarify, I was talking more about the period near the end of the episode, where most of the Enterprise crew have returned to their time but Picard's stayed to look after Guinan. She's not trapped there, but he definitely is.
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 9:50am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

Actually found myself enjoying this rather a lot. I felt it was too short, though. I sort of expected more with Picard and younger Guinan trapped in the 19th century. And I could watch days of mucking about in the past. Loved Geordi switching from VISOR to dark glasses every time there were people about.

I am the type to love holodeck episodes, so I guess this appeals to me in the same sort of way. I found Twain a bit annoying, though.

RE: comments above questioning Guinan having no trouble in in the 19thC as a black woman, I'm fine with excusing things like this: we excuse a lot of "unrealistic" things about the future in fiction, so why not the past? Lets us do more in past-based stories with less bogging down in societal issues (not to say there shouldn't be stories involving that, even specifically time travel stories, but not *every* one has to. Sometimes we can just have fun.)
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Fenn
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 7:52am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cost of Living

I did genuinely enjoy this one, at least a little. The "free spirit" world to which Lwaxana takes Alexander does appeal to my inner kid.

Weird marriage of A and B plots, though. I love how everyone's on the verge of dying aboard the ship and Lwaxana/Alexander/royal fiancé family get conveniently forgotten about until that's all cleaned up.
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Fenn
Sun, Dec 8, 2019, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Violations

This was one of the first Star Trek episodes I watched, when dropping in on my partner's half-complete first viewing of the series. Trying to remember this from about a month ago -- it couldn't have been more than about the third or fourth episode I saw.

Suffice to say, not an episode I recommend as an intro to Star Trek. It was uncomfortable viewing, and while that's perfectly valid as something TV can aim to make you feel, a lot of it was uncomfortable in the wrong ways -- at least for me as someone brand new to this show.

William B commented here in 2013 about how the episode's internal logic might lead you to believe that, given that Riker and Crusher's memory invasion scenes concerned real events, Troi's memory invasion would *also* be a real event. Complete with actually being raped by Riker.

Well, sit a new viewer down in front of Violations, and there's a damn good chance that they'll actually be on the verge of believing that. I wasn't familiar with the characters or their relationship at all, and reaching that scene -- when it's already been established through faulty internal logic that the Ullians enter Real Memories of Actual Things That Happened -- I didn't have much reason to conclude anything other than "oh god, did Riker actually rape Troi at some point?"

And let me tell you, I didn't *want* to believe that. It made for a hell of an uncomfortable undertone when watching the rest of the episode, trying to gauge Riker so that I could confirm whether he'd genuinely done what I'd just watched him do or whether the memory was a fabrication (which, again, would defy what the episode had established and would continue to establish). The scene where Riker comes to Troi's bedside to talk to her through her coma did reassure me somewhat, but that's still not "proof", is it?

In hindsight, now having the experience of multiple seasons of TNG to fall back on, I agree that they *of course* wouldn't genuinely have had this memory be true. I even knew at the time that it *probably* wasn't what they were going for (though "probably" is less than "of course"). What was it even for, then? As per Jammer's review, the episode's rape metaphor is already secure without *actual* rape. William B saying it's a matter of gratuitous sexualisation and violence seems to be on the money. But why give the rapist Riker's face? Maybe it was the easiest shortcut they could think of to slot in something sexual from Troi's history. Maybe it was an intentional attempt to bait audiences into thinking -- no matter how briefly -- that this genuinely did happen, and reap the emotional response from that. The latter would be one hell of a cheap attempt at drama.

I'm not doing a lot of talking about the rest of the episode here. But then this did overshadow the rest of the episode for me. It's not like they did anything to help with that, not by showing variations on that same damn scene three bloody times. Riker's crew death memories and Picard with hair only get one showing a[hair]piece. Troi's memory invasion unfortunately forms the core of this episode. And it's a rotten one.

(Alternate Troi memory suggestion: Lwaxana having one of her *particularly* obnoxious moments, and then gasp! Suddenly it's Jev being mortifying in an outrageous dress. Troi goes into a coma from embarrassment.)

[Final note: I'd originally intended to say all this on the end of my comment on A Matter of Perspective, an episode which internally accuses Riker of attempted rape -- and which, in-universe, I don't think does enough to exonerate him. But I figured it'd be more appropriate to comment all this on the episode I'm actually talking about.]
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Fenn
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

My god, Rasmussen's voice sounded like a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog to me. I could've closed my eyes and enjoyed the time travelling Muppet Show crossover.

As it stands, though, bit of a middle-of-the-road shrug episode for me. I was amused by all the talk of questionnaires though.
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Fenn
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

Dr. Marr's choice to kill the creature basically saves the crew from any tough ethical decisions they might have to make on establishing communication. Feels like a bit of a cop-out, honestly.
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Fenn
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

I've been looking forward to seeing Ro's proper introduction. I started watching TNG over the shoulder of my partner making their way through Season 5 (picking whichever episodes sounded interesting from their Netflix descriptions!) and as such I've already seen quite a bit of her.

I was struck by how good her introductiory episode was -- both for her and for the Bajorans as a whole. She's an interesting depiction of a member of a minority group -- her resistance to assimilation in "distorting" her name for Federation norms was an early standout moment, and her insistence on wearing her earring continues in that vein. And of course they've gone and laid the ongoing mystery of the eight deaths on that away team, which has sufficiently piqued my interest (I can't imagine it *not* coming up again).

But yes, consider me thoroughly interested by what we see of the Bajorans here. I do plan on watching DS9 when it "starts airing" on my TNG watchthrough, and I know there's a lot more going on with them there -- looking forward to it.

And I do think it's good to have another female member of the regular cast, one who isn't in a traditionally "caring" role. Tasha was basically their original attempt at that, but barely got any characterisation; Ro is well-characterised right off the bat. Promising start, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her -- in the proper series context, this time!
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Fenn
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: In Theory

I could barely get through this one. I love Data and I like his episodes (for example, Data's Day not too long before this), but every part of this attempted relationship just comes off as too awkward for me to stomach. You'd forgive them for lack of chemistry given how Spiner's playing an android, but nothing in the performance feels like Jenna's even into him at all. And then the B plot does nothing, and barely takes up any space in the episode anyway. Not sure I'll ever be able to bear rewatching this one.

(For what it's worth though, I did pick up on the "torpedo bay" line mentioned by the commenters above. Oh, is *that* what they're calling it in the 24th century...?)
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Fenn
Thu, Dec 5, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

Who the hell looked at Tasha "Rape Gangs" Yar and decided "hmm, yes, this character could do with some more rape"?? I'm neutral on how Sela is played here, but the character herself just seems so damn pointless. They should've finished their retroactive messing with Tasha after Yesterday's Enterprise and Legacy.

Good Worf development in the final scene. Android Racist Guy annoys me. Most of all, though, this episode's too busy trying to pack too much in for me to have much of a strong opinion about any part of it. It's just kind of a frustrating mess.
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Fenn
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Mind's Eye

(addendum: I do appreciate the fact that some time is devoted to the psychological consequences though)
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Fenn
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 10:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Mind's Eye

This was intense, and the last scene is definitely a standout. I get the impression Geordi's not gonna get his own equivalent of Family to recover like Picard did though.

I gotta admit, though, I was amused by the simulated "kill O'Brien" scene, where brainwashed Geordi sits down to have a drink and casually moves aside O'Brien's dead body in the process...!
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Fenn
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Half a Life

This one seems to split opinion, huh? I enjoyed it, personally. A Lwaxana episode I *liked*, rather than one that made me mutter "oh lord kill me now" every two seconds (Menage a Troi being the worst of those IMO). There's a lot of her usual self on display for the first half, so I appreciate that she calms down and becomes more thoughtful for the second. It's a relief to finally see her be more than one-dimensional.

Aside from the clear theme of how elderly people are (mis)treated by their society, hardly mentioned in this thread is the discussion of how difficult it is to change or even challenge long-standing traditions and beliefs -- painfully difficult for Timicin and seemingly impossible for everyone else on his planet. It's a poignant, well-acted piece. Excellent work from a great actor.

There's an inherent frustration here: Timicin's planet would rather have him die than allow him to continue saving his planet -- something he's on the brink of managing to do. But there's also a sad acknowledgement that the circumstances make his success impossible. If he survives, his only possible fate is to be blocked from access to his work and live out the rest of his days lightyears from home, while leaving his planet to die. To be able to survive and remain on speaking terms with his planet would require years of social change -- years that can't be suppressed into the few days he has remaining. It's a lament on how we often need more time than we have: society still fails many different groups of people, and many of those suffering die long before the changes that might have had them survive.

In that respect, dying a dignified death surrounded by friends and family really is the best plausible outcome for Timicin. He'd been prepared for it all his life, even if those last few days shook his faith. I'm not against euthanasia -- people should be able to choose their own death and prepare for it accordingly, rather than being left in the constant uncertainty of not knowing which day will be their last, or what state they might be in when they die. I personally know people who wish that -- when the time comes -- they'd be able to plan their own death, for their own sake. It wouldn't be for me, though. So I can see something appealing about the concept of the Resolution, at least the event of it -- but having it forced upon you at a defined date, with no option to choose otherwise, is unconscionable.
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Fenn
Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 10:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

I love how the pacing's done here. The investigations reach full throttle in practically the last five minutes of the episode, and it's the very force of Satie's blind passion that brings them to a halt.

It's established that the explosion was an accident early on, and so the tension of the episode is not in whether Tarses is guilty, but in how Satie -- in such a position of power, and determination to use it -- can be stopped. It's a relief that the crew of the Enterprise are clear enough of mind to see through her in the end, and do not get further caught up in her viciousness for its own sake. Forcefulness and strong stances, whether substantiated or not, can be terrifyingly persuasive.

Also I have to say I was mildly amused by the extent of Admiral Thomas Henry's role in this episode: to sit in a chair, and then leave the room. Is that all you have to do as an admiral? Sign me up!
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Fenn
Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Sarek

Despite the comment being almost six years old, I'd like to reply to Kieran here:

"I liked this one, but not too sure why Picard wasn't just sedated while he had to host Sarek's emotions. Was it integral that he stay conscious in such turmoil?"

I feel Picard would *want* to: to have the unique opportunity to experience this man he admired, in full force.

To quote him earlier in the episode: "I suppose they were foolish and vain, my expectations of this voyage. Sharing his thoughts, memories, his unique understanding of the history he's made." Turns out he gets to do this anyway, and a lot more directly than anticipated.
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Fenn
Wed, Nov 27, 2019, 6:46am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Offspring

Agh, I just wasn't feeling this one. Love Data and love Data episodes, and it *felt* like it should be the sort of episode I'd love, but something about the execution is lacking.

Don't get me wrong: lot of sweet scenes here. Dad Data is great -- his desire to have and raise a child. I'm just not as convinced by Lal, though I can't really pinpoint why that is (might be the acting). Picard also feels off here, and I got sick of the admiral pretty damn quickly. Also having the contractions point be a Big Thing in the episode just feels weak to me, I've never liked that in general.
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Fenn
Tue, Nov 26, 2019, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

I'm awestruck by this episode in a way that leaves me lost for words.

How wonderful it is to have an episode truly centre itself on Guinan, rather than having her flit in and out of others' stories like an enigmatic butterfly in an excellent hat. Her firm conviction, even knowing she can never prove herself, is played beautifully -- and the way she looks at Tasha, dead woman walking, is heartrending.

God damn though, Tasha. Back in S1 I found her character poorly conceptualised and poorly executed. Her backstory in particular always seemed overly grimdark to me (on the run from rape gangs since the age of *five*? good lord you could tell me that was parody edginess and I'd believe you in a heartbeat), but hey, here's a dark timeline where maybe that level of extreme survival comes into play a lot more directly.

This is definitely a different Tasha. She's clearly a character with a relentless drive, not an often-formless crew-filler. And when presented with a moment where she can retroactively save billions, she seizes it with no hesitation and with a renewed sense of purpose. I can't imagine having cause to say *any* of this about the character as we knew her before.

"Tell me about Tasha Yar." I feel we've now got a lot more worth telling.
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Fenn
Tue, Nov 26, 2019, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

I've got a bit of a soft spot for Rashomon-style plots, and I was aware in advance that this would be one, so I definitely went into it expecting to enjoy it.

... as far as the opening goes, I immediately recognised it as the scene that got used for this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=29-iFOEOgIM -- the *actual* opening is funny in itself, but dammit, I couldn't stop thinking about saxophone horse. (I see other people in these comments mentioning other fun videos it's been edited into. I'll have to check some of those out...!)

As for the main plot: as soon as they mention this mysterious radiation burning holes in the ship, it's obvious that it's gonna be the real cause of Apgar's death and the ship's explosion. Pretty predictable in unsubtle ways, but of course that isn't the whole of it. The mention of an unexplained 0.012 second interval is something I knew would come up later, and ends up leading to the twist that Apgar was the one trying to kill Riker... but that gets deduced by the cast in a purely technobabble way, not something the audience could have worked out. So in that sense, I feel it's oddly both too predictable and... not predictable enough? A good murder mystery will lay subtle clues that clever/informed viewers might even be able to put together on a first viewing. Apgar's murder, on the other hand, has the radiation element made too obvious to viewers and the technobabbly "reflected from Riker mid-transport" element as something the viewers can't know until Geordi demonstrates it.

What makes this particularly glaring is that we know Riker couldn't have done it. The only suspense, then, is in how it *was* done, and the realisation of that ain't too satisfying a result. Hell, it barely even makes use of the "differing perspectives" theme of the episode. I guess Picard running through a few statements about "rewards" gives it some more backing in that, but that doesn't really feel satisfying.

But the murder isn't the only crime Riker's accused of in this episode. I watched the final scene and the credits thinking "wait, that's it? Everyone's conveniently forgotten that he got accused of attempted rape too??!" Apparently so. By the episode's logic, as soon as it's no longer part of Riker's "motive" to kill Apgar, it's meaningless. Which is baffling. It's a whole other crime in itself, and they even draw attention to that with Riker's dramatic reaction to the accusation. Did they run out of time, or what? Or is it simply dismissed as "Riker wouldn't do that"? The audience *might* believe that, but do the prosecutors have any reason to? It overcomplicates the story, and in ways that mean it doesn't get a full resolution.

I was gonna write more here but I'm impatient to watch Yesterday's Enterprise, dammit.
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