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Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Nth Degree

Political stuff:

It is interesting to compare the soundness of the arguments made on both sides, both of which are attempting to cast "Trekkian values" as in line with their own.

Argument from leftist above: in a future society, the Iraq War and others like it would be gross Prime Directive violations.

Evaluation: A solid point. Completely analogous, as it involves interference in the affairs of another sovereign state.

"Counterpoint" from right winger above: in a future society, "imposing" gay marriage and plastic-straw bans would be considered gross Prime Direction violations.

Evaluation: Exceedingly weak points. Not at all analogous, as they have *nothing* to do with interfering with the affairs of another sovereign state. They merely involve applying laws to one's *own* citizens. Did the person making this comment seriously think that the Federation has no environmental regulations and no anti-discrimination laws? Regarding environmental regulations: the Federation came up with speed limit within *days* of it being discovered that Warp engines were damaging subspace. Regarding discrimination, here the article on the Federation charter:

and an excerpt from it:
"In 2372, Benjamin Sisko pointed out to Akorem Laan that if Akorem, as Emissary of the Prophets, guided the people of Bajor towards using the D'jarra caste system, it would prevent them from joining the Federation, as "caste-based discrimination goes against the Federation Charter." (DS9: "Accession") "

Look: we all know which end of the political spectrum espouses ideals that are more in line with established Trekkian values. The other side is of course free to go through whatever verbal contortions and false analogies are necessary to make it seem like the opposite.
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Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Nth Degree

This was great episode! Barclay was an inspired choice for this plot (or, more accurately, the showrunners tailored the plot really well to facilitate the reintroduction of Barclay). Schulz's acting chops really helped sell the point. I do agree with Luke that it makes no sense that grand unification theories would be above Geordi's head, when 24th-century physics has clearly advanced beyond this, and one practically has to have PhD-level knowledge in particle physics and astrophysics just to be an engineer.

While I really like the ending scene in 10-forward (checkmate in nine moves!), I do find it curious that Troi eventually agrees to the walk in the arboretum, after earlier suggesting (perhaps rightly so) that it would be inappropriate given he was a former counselling patient. Unless that was just her way of letting him down gently. Either way, it's clear she sees something much more to him by the end, to the point of actively wanting to spend time with him. My recollection of follow up episodes in Voyager is that this turns into a strong bond of friendship, if nothing romantic, which is nice all the same. I also seem to recall Voyager regressing Reg a bit in terms of his social anxieties.
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Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

I have always liked this episode, and I agree with others who say that it holds up. I think the plot is more than just serviceable, and the atmosphere is top notch. It also really benefits from music by Ron Jones.

I was going to complain that the hallucinations/symptoms begin right away (before any nights have passed): from the young Ensign's hearing sounds on the bridge of the Brattain to O'Brien snapping at his wife, to Gilespie's ghost stories. I remembered them arriving in the episode *before* the log entry in which Picard says it's been 10 days. So I thought it was plot hole. But I went back and watched those scenes again, only to find that there was an *earlier* log entry in which Picard mentions it's been *four* days. So the writers really covered their bases: all the stuff I mentioned above happened four days in. It's plausible that lack of REM sleep could start to have effects by then (although it's strange that no one reported feeling extra fatigued).

For all the people complaining that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe so it was ludicrous that the aliens were asking for it -- bear in mind that the average density of hydrogen in the interstellar medium of our galaxy is one measly *atom* per cubic centimetre. (Compare to 30,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules per cubic centimetre of air you breathe on Earth). Besides, how are they supposed to fly around collecting these atoms with no functional propulsion systems?

While Troi's dream sequences were silly and repetitive, I don't' understand the rest of the Troi hate. She wasn't stupid/obtuse the way other commenters implied. If somebody just said "double" with no context, then asking "what do you mean? Is something being doubled?" is a *perfectly* logical way of seeking clarification.
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Thu, Jan 10, 2019, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Future Imperfect

Sat, Oct 1, 2016, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
The most GLARING plot hole (in my opinion) was Worf still being just a helmsman after 16 years.

Yes, someone else mentioned that many of the officers should have gone on to other things by now, but Worf's position was by far the most ridiculous, unbelievable part of this story.

Really? SIXTEEN years of additional Starfleet duty and Worf is still just a helmsman? And Riker doesn't even have one single reaction to it except to pat his chair when he sees him for the first time? That should made him very suspicious right away.

He *wasn't* a helmsman. He was sitting at OPS, NOT Conn. In TNG, both Helm and Navigation (which were separate stations in TOS) are combined into Conn, which is the front station on the Starboard side. The station on the Port side is Ops. Worf was at Ops, meaning he had Data's former job. He was the Operations officer and the ship's second officer. This is corroborated by a look at the rank bars on his combadge. Two gold + one silver = Lieutenant Commander. (The fourth bar was black, which means "nothing". The Ferengi Ensign had one gold bar and 3 black ones for that reason. The total number of bars has to be four, so the black ones are the ones that make up the balance after you take into account the ones that are actually signifying a rank).

Of course, it's still ridiculous that Worf's had only one promotion in 16 years and that he (and any of the rest of them) are still on the Enterprise. Galaxy-class starships, if well-maintained, are projected to have a 100+ year lifetime, but they certainly wouldn't have the same crew after a decade.

The thing about Worf in this scene that is *actually* very suspicious is not what you (Smith) said, but was the way Worf was slumped in his chair, unspeaking, like a beaten, downtrodden version of himself. It was very eerie, very un-Klingon, and very unlike the Worf we knew. Any part of me, as a viewer, that had been buying into this scenario immediately stopped buying into it as soon as I saw him. I'm not sure if it was a conscious choice on the part of the director, or if Dorn just didn't quite fit in that chair. But if it was the former, then they were very unsubtly signalling to the audience "something is amiss here."
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Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

I have always liked this episode. That having been said, there are flaws in the execution:

- Data is shown considering rushing the door to the collection room when Varria enters to give him the clothing. He even starts the motion, but then stops himself and thinks better of it. With his reflexes and speed, he should have succeeded in the attempt

- Varria has know the combination to the safe housing the Varon-T disruptor for years. Stealing it and murdering Fajo in his sleep shouldn't have been too difficult for her all this time. You could argue that all this time she has been loyal, and Fajo being willing to shoot her in cold blood just to get Data to sit in a chair was a tipping point, but if so that's a very abrupt turnabout after 14 years. And Fajo must have displayed this kind of indifference towards her before. Even her very first explanation to Data of why people obey him is not "we begrudgingly respect him for his skill in acquisition/determination/leadership and he provides for us." Rather, it's "he rewards good behaviour and has harsh ways to get us to comply." From the very beginning of this episode, she knows she is a slave. I would have expected her to turn on him far sooner.

- An *eternity* passes during the standoff where Fajo has Varria at gunpoint in the Jovis' shuttlebay, and she desperately tries to reach for the fallen weapon. All this time, Data should have wondered why the departure sequence wasn't progressing, and looked outside the shuttlecraft to see what was going on. Instead, he doesn't do so until she gets shot. He ought to have been able to save her easily.

- We know Data's programming isn't as simplistic as if "x", then "y." He has the ability to evaluate things on a case by case basis. In this case he decided that utilitarian ethics applied (the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few), that Fajo needed to be stopped lest he continue to kill and torture his underlings. I think that's why he said "I cannot allow this to continue." He had decided that his use of deadly force in this situation could probably be justified in the face of an inquiry. Therefore, I agree with other commenters that it doesn't make sense that he would lie to Riker about having deliberately discharged his weapon, unless he was having him on, and planned to fess up later.
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Sat, Dec 29, 2018, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

Worf in "Conspiracy"
"Swimming is too much like bathing." [he says with a derisive sneer, about visiting Pacifica]

Worf in "The Vengeance Factor"
"Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often!"


Actually I guess this could be explained away neatly if one assumed that, while Klingons do not like immersing themselves in water, Worf is a proponent of the sonic shower, and he was using the term "bathe" in the generic sense of "cleanse" in the second quote. Maybe it's even Starfleet regulations that you have to use the sonic shower, who knows. It is amusing to think that Worf smelled the Gatherers coming though.

This episode was suitably creepy and maybe even a bit chilling when I was a kid (Riker: 53 years and she hasn't aged a day). I actually didn't find it as boring as others, because of the settings and costumes, and the concept of the genetic modification used to execute the vengeance. It seems implausible now, yes. But this episode had something to it, in terms of mood, that worked for me.

I especially like Volnath's costume. It was cool looking, but in a very 80s way, like something out of Masters of the Universe. Or maybe like one of the bad guys from Farscape (who I only know vaguely because I haven't seen much of that show). Then again, it kind of looked like Volnath was doing Borg cosplay using parts he found around the encampment.

Brull was very 80s too, because of the damn mullet. His characterization was not very subtle. I found it annoying and unrealistic that he stole a guy's drink right out of his hand, in Ten-forward. Just to drive home to the audience that he's a dick? But a dick for no reason, because he was in a place where he could have ordered one himself for free.

Based on the dialogue, Wes' homework was something involving curved space-time as described by General Relativity, but Wheaton pronounced "Riemannian" (as in Riemannian Geometry) incorrectly.

Fri, May 19, 2017, 9:59am (UTC -6)

"This is as good a time as any to have this out (and I can't imagine it hasn't been done elsewhere on this site): I've long had a problem with this simplistic stun/kill option on phasers (well, ok, they apparently have degrees of 'stun' (and possibly degrees of 'kill'?)), but you rarely hear anyone ordered to differentiate between settings other than stun vs kill."

Braka, this is a strange complaint to have about the episode that explicitly mentions the existence of "setting 7" *in the dialogue* (when they vapourize the noranium alloy to create a smoke screen during the firefight with the Gatherers)

I know that not everyone was enough of a nerd to read the TNG Technical Manual the way I did growing up, but nonethless, it's *known* (established on screen) that phaser Type I has 8 settings, and that phaser Type II supplements this with 8 more settings, up to setting 16. It's also known that settings 1-3 are the stun settings (light, medium, and heavy) And they're consistent about this, see DS9 Homefront/Paradise Lost on finding the right stun setting to reveal a Changeling. Anything above setting 4 kills. I suspect anything above setting 6 or so starts to vapourize (but it's been a long time since I read the Technical Manual :p)

Braka, if you saw Riker charge up to the same set of LEDs in a later episode and call it "heavy stun", then the show's producers fucked up. Actually they fucked up here too, because he clearly charges the phaser up *all the way*: both rows of 8 LEDs are illuminated, meaning he was using setting 16, the highest setting. This, of course, is ludicrous, because if he had missed, or taken his thumb off the firing button a fraction of a second too late, he would have vapourized the entire table, and Picard, and Marouk, and Chorgan, and probably blown a hole through the deckplate of the ship. I have a whole rant on this in the thread for DS9 The Siege of AR-558, but it suffices to say that anything much above setting 6 is probably far too powerful to be practical for a sidearm.

The Vengeance Factor: let's say 5/10
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Thu, Dec 27, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Hunted

Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 2:40am (UTC -6)
"So many of these comments are hilarious. People all excited to point out an inconsistency or a bad plot-point.

Woo hoo! You did it! haha

I mean, don’t get me wrong... I can be as anal-retentive OCD as the best of you. I guess I just know when it’s worth it to be. ;-)"

Hmm. Things like Danar breaking out of the confinement beam of a transporter without his molecules being scattered everywhere are enough to detract from my enjoyment of the episode, and the enjoyment of many others, because they *don't make sense.* And by that, I mean that they aren't even internally consistent within the fictional world. They're not even justified by a throwaway explanation here. If it's not a requirement that the things you are watching make sense and are consistent with each other from episode to episode, why is science fiction your genre of choice?
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Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 12:39am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

Also, I just love the VFX in this episode. I'm not sure the Ent-D has ever looked this great. Something about the lighting of the ship in the vicinity of the binary stars. But also, the fact that it's a new effects shot and not stock footage. They picked much more sensible angles that show off just how sleek, streamlined, and graceful the Galaxy-class is. Not that horrible sort of "3/4" ventral view in which it's really fore-shortened and hence looks really front heavy. Who's idea was it to shoot the ship from that angle? That's like the starship equivalent of a bad selfie taken from a low angle looking upward at the chin. Not flattering.


Peter H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:40am (UTC -6)
"On a plus note it looks like the CGI has got an upgrade; the external shots of the Enterprise look better than ever. "

Argh, are you for real? How old are you? There are no *CGI* starship shots in TNG. I don't think CGI space scenes in Star Trek (for TV) really started until Foundation Imaging started doing work for DS9 and Voyager in like 1997 or thereabouts. No, they made these shots of the Enterprise using the original six-foot filming model. I'd argue that *that's why* it looks so great. Because it's masterful work with physical models and not CGI. And I'm personally really glad they were still using the six-foot model at this point. Because, for Season 3, they created a second four-foot shooting model that was easier to work with and had more surface detail (the Aztec pattern on the hull). In principle, these sound like improvements, but in practice I don't like the four-foot model because they kind of messed up the shape of the ship IMO. The lines of the engineering hull are not as slim and graceful. The saucer and nacelle pylons are also thickened. It's almost as though they couldn't get the proportions and graceful lines quite right with the smaller scale. I wish they had used the four-foot model only for extreme close-ups. In Star Trek Generations, they revamped the six-footer to have the same level of surface detail as the four-footer had had, and that was then *perfect*. It looked beautiful. Too bad we only got to see it in one mediocre movie. Ugh.
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Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 12:34am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

I have always liked this episode, perhaps because of the new series elements (uniforms, Crusher back etc), the greater maturity and polish of the production, and how they are harbingers of good things to come.

I think most of what can be said about the plot and characterizations in this episode has been said by previous posters.

Having (for some reason) just put myself through bits of Season 1 and most of Season 2, I did notice some interesting bits of continuity

- This season opener starts with a shuttlebay shot, just as the season 2 opener did (The Child). However, the design of the shuttlebay has changed so that shuttlebay operators now use a sealed control room/booth that overlooks the hangar, rather than operating standalone consoles that are right on the main deck of the shuttle bay. This seems very wise. I rememeber thinking (when watching The Child), "what happens if the forcefield fails while the operators are at those consoles." Cut to Contagion, where Donald Varley (captain of USS Yamato) explains that the Iconian-virus-induced systems failures caused *exactly this* to happen, and he lost a whole team of crew members as a result. That suggests to me that this design flaw was on the mind of the writers as well. I guess I never noticed before that they explicitly fixed it for Season 3.

- Speaking of Contagion, it's a bit irritating that Data points out in Evolution that failure of the computer core unlikely and that widespread systems failure on a Federation starship hasn't happened in 79 years, when in fact, we just had it happen to both the Yamato and the Enterprise last season.

- When they gave the nanites a whole planet, I couldn't help but think that they had inadvertently created the Replicators from Stargate SG-1 :D

- Don't get me wrong: I grew up on TNG and its optimistic, idealistic, and humanistic themes have influenced me greatly. But perhaps my sensibilities have shifted a tad as an adult. I agreed with Worf that giving the Nanites access to "a Starfleet Commander" (especially one who was a super-strong Soong-type android) posed a grave security risk. Couldn't they have given the nanites access to one of the computer's voice processors instead? Was Data's neural net really necessary for them to be able to vocalize? At least Picard was willing to use the option of sterilization with gamma rays in the end. But as is a common problem in early TNG, I think the situation called for more urgency than what was portrayed. Somehow there is always time for a staff meeting to think it over(even when threatened by a Ferengi Marauder in Peak Performance)

I agree with SkepticalMI who said five years ago that the producers seemed to be poking fun at some of the failings of seasons 1 and 2, including Troi. I enjoyed it greatly when Troi said (in her annoying accent and halting pattern of speech) that Paul Stubb's outwardly-calm and non-chalant demeanour was highly polished. Picard then goes "yes Counselor, even *my* sensory perception picked that up." Classic!
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Mon, Dec 24, 2018, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Loud as a Whisper

Some notes made while watching:

- Picard contemplating weird orbital dynamics in a planetary system they had visited, using a hologram at his desk, doesn't really go anywhere. Was this simply for the purpose of establishing that all of Starfleet's best possess keen intellect and scientific curiosity, even if they don't wear blue? I suppose it's no different from what we saw from Janeway later, but taking it to the point of doing orbital dynamics for fun (but with *no* actual calculations) when you're 1) not an astrophysicist and 2) are the Captain, are on duty, and presumably have a lot of other things you could be doing, seems a stretch.

- So Worf is uneasy about Riva *because* he negotiated treaties between the Federation and the Klingon Empire? Am I missing something here?? Worf presumably thinks the alliance is a *good* thing, right? He was saved by humans, and he's a Starfleet officer. And we saw in Heart of Glory that unlike Korris and Konmel, he sees no honour in fighting the wrong battles in the wrong places, and pitied them for being unable to adapt to peace with the Federation. So why is he now acting like Riva forcing the Klingons to negotiate and to create a Klingon word for "peacemaker" was some grave attack on the Klingon warrior psyche? (Side note: I am dubious that they did not have such a word before). This writing/characterization makes no sense, as though the writers still hadn't figured out what the hell they were doing as far as defining the nature of the Klingons (and Worf), even *after* Heart of Glory.

- The teaser ends with Picard's away team beaming down to an empty room, not finding anyone, and not saying anything. Did anyone else find this to be really poor editing? Even if you have nothing dramatic to end on, at least have the characters *say* "we were supposed to be greeted by Riva's entourage. Where is everyone?" As it stood, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel uneasy after the teaser, because something was amiss, or whether everything was normal, and the director just decided to have the teaser *stop* in mid-scene for some reason.

- At first, we aren't given an explanation for why Riva would be excited to meet an empath, and it just ends up seeming like he's perving on Troi (EDIT: nevermind, because he *does* perv on Troi for the rest of the episode...*and* it's always blatant because it's the libido/warrior chorus guy who addresses her and requests her presence as an escort, not the scholar one. Ugh.)

- PICARD: "There are aspects of Riva of which we've not been informed." Which seems absurd! How could Starfleet not brief their officers on the fact that one of the Galaxy's most famous mediators, whom they've been charged with transporting to a critical negotiation, is deaf? How could it be a secret, for that matter?

- The expository dialogue is atrocious, both from the 'scholar' and from Riva's other chorus member, the guy who says "I am passion, the libido, the anarchy of lust."

- Despite it being a very narrow, directed beam, the Solari's weapon somehow disintegrates all three of Riva's chorus members in one shot. And despite it supposedly being a laser, its effect is to vaporize someone from the outside inward, peeling away their tissue layers uniformly over their whole body so that we are treated to some really bad CGI tomography. Okay...sure. Also, this attack happens in the first minute or two of negotiations. This "experienced" mediator has never faced a threatening situation before? Why was there no backup plan? Basically there are only three people in the Galaxy whom Riva is relying on for all communication with other individuals...

- Picard's approach to consoling and getting through to Riva is to grab his head and shout in his face "LISTEN TO ME! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!" This was a ridiculous scene.

- Riva's character arc is like the trajectory of NASA's "vomit comet" (the plane that flies in parabolic arcs to simulate weightlessness). He goes from being so self-assured that he doesn't even bother briefing himself on the situation, to so doubtful and self-pitying that he tells Troi "you don't need help from someone like me" when she tells him she's going to attempt the mediation herself. Then he goes back to being confident enough to be left alone on the war-torn planet for months, assuring people that he will be fine. I understand that the death of his chorus and ensuing guilt and grief could create a crisis of confidence and identity. But it isn't portrayed realistically.

- The resolution of this episode is, of course, absurd. These Neanderthals with ray guns are supposed to have the patience to learn sign language *and* sit down and negotiate with their bitter enemies? They're just going to meet on the top of this stone cliff face that is completely unsecured? Why couldn't the negotiations have taken place on the Enterprise or a dedicated diplomatic vessel? I.e. in a neutral location, where weapons have been removed in advance? Why couldn't they beam down some computers so that the Neanderthals would at least have access to the *the same pictographic dictionary that Data used* when he learned the sign language?
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Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Neutral Zone

It's also annoying that in Picard's first meeting with the survivors, he says that humanity is no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things, but he doesn't explicitly say that *money no longer exists.* Why wouldn't Picard be explicit so that it would be clear to Offenhouse that his bank in Geneva is gone, so that he would *shut up about it already?* Maybe this was intentionally vague so that the writers could hedge a bit, rather than committing to a detailed explanation of the Federation's post-scarcity economy. If they had said "everyone gets an equal allowance of Federation credits per month for an equitable allocation of the finite raw material used to replicate whatever they may want," this may have come across as too distastefully communist for the sensitive American audience. (For the record: given what we've seen of the resources of the Federation, I'm not sure such careful rationing would be necessary). Even so, at the end of the episode, Picard at least makes it clear that material needs are a thing of the past. But fundamentally this relies on there being sufficient mass-energy to replicate everything that everyone could possibly want, so there are still limits, in principle. Plus, some things (like dilithium) cannot be replicated.

It's also a bit crazy that Picard rejects LaForge's suggestion that the Enterprise take the 20th-century humans to a starbase directly to find faster passage to Earth, since the Charleston will be taking a massive detour on the way to Earth. Picard's reasoning is that the extra journey of several months on the Charleston will give the relic people time to "acclimate." That may be true to an extent, but it doesn't show much compassion. The sterile environment of a starship in the endless vastness of space must be a disquieting place for these people. Picard shows no interest in getting them back to the comfort and familiarity of *the only planet they have ever known*. He comes across here as simply wanting these people off his ship as soon as possible. Don't get me wrong, I like the fact that Picard maintains a certain authoritative distance from the crew, that he is aloof, reserved, collected, cerebral, etc. But that doesn't mean he has to be a dick for no reason. And if he's intolerant of these people, then that's pretty hypocritical given the Federation values he espouses. It seems that there are remnants of "Grumpy Picard" even right at the end of season 1 (perhaps in season 2, I do not know).
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Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Neutral Zone

[Regarding the destruction of outposts bordering the Neutral Zone]

PICARD: "Do you think that we attacked your outposts?"
TEBOK: "Once we realized the level of destruction, we knew it it could not have been you."


Or at least, backhanded compliment. Impossible not to listen to Tebok and simply hear Gul Dukat, esp after just having rewatched most of DS9.
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Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Neutral Zone

I didn't dislike this episode as much as others here. It did a successful job of building tension and anticipation, and it had a great score by Ron Jones. I could see what they were going for with the frozen people, and I thought Clare's story was perfectly serviceable. How do you react when you get a second chance at life, but 400 years in the future, when everything you hold dear is gone (and not even by your own choice)?

However, many things were extremely irritating about the episode. Atrocious security on the Federation flagship really grates, of course (open access to comlinks and turbolifts, with no restricted areas for civilians). But also, something more egregious. I'm sure this is a general trend in Trek (and TNG) in general, but there is a serious case of "tell, don't show," going on here, especially in the characterization of Offenhouse (the stock market guy). He has lines of dialogue like:

"It's never been about possessions, it's about power."

Who admits this openly, even if they are aware that that is their motivation?

"I am not willing to allow my fate to be decided by others!" he shouts, as he storms off to the bridge to see what the tense situation on the ship is all about. Who actually verbalizes things like that? It would have been far more realistic if he'd simply said only "I need to go see what's going on," (he did), but without this additional psychoanalysis of himself. Who is self-aware enough to realize that they are power-hungry control freaks, and yet openly admit to it and self-describe that way, without viewing it as a potential failing? The writers are having Offenhouse explicitly describe for us what they have decided his character traits are, instead of simply having him behave in accordance with them,
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Sat, Dec 15, 2018, 12:22am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Dogs of War

There is an interesting homage to Star Trek III at the beginning of this episode.

EZRI: "I didn't know we were getting another Defiant-class ship."
SISKO: "That's what happens when you miss staff meetings."

From Star Trek III

SCOTTY: [on sabotaging the Excelsior] "Here Doctor: souvenirs from one surgeon to another. I took them out of her main transwarp computer drive."
BONES: "Nice of you to tell me in advance."
KIRK: "That's what you get for missing staff meetings, Doctor."

The homage is a nice touch, albeit very forced. Bones was unfamiliar with the plan because he was busy dealing with having Spock's katra* inside of him. There is no reason (that is known to the audience) why Ezri would have missed briefings on the new ship, leaving us with no basis for Sisko to say this to her (other than that the writers really wanted to insert a TOS reference).

*for those complaining about mystical mumbo jumbo on DS9: remember the katra?
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Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

I think this episode was really well executed. Yes we've seen this type of war story before in other fiction, but here it was brought to the Trek universe in an impactful way.

This is one of the few episodes in which Paul Baillargeon produced something that was even remotely passable for a musical score, as opposed to utter garbage. He has ruined every other episode he's scored for me, taking me right out of the action with meandering melodies during action sequences that seem more suited to an afternoon picnic, and that suck all the tension out of whatever is happening on screen. These were still present in this episode, but at least he managed to write one motif that *matched the tone of the scene it was accompanying.* No amount of criticism I can level at him seems like enough given the apalling nature of his efforts.

I'm not going to get into the debate over to what extent this undermines Trekkian philosophy/idealism. Although, my view is more along the lines of Yanks and others like him who express that Starfleet has always reacted in a similar way: being willing to do battle to safeguard Federation lives. DS9 just gets more in our face about it, because there is a protracted war. I do think Quark's ideas about a negotiated settlement are too simplistic. This would have been the Federation's first choice too, but I think Yanks was right that the Dominion was unyielding. There was no reasoning with the Founders anymore that there was any chance of reasoning with the Borg. They both want to impose their form of order on the Galaxy.

I see people above complaining about the lack of "heavy weaponry", including artillery, armoured troop carriers, etc. But these are redudnant, given the stated capabilities of even the smallest of hand phasers. I used to read the TNG Technical Manual and remember it describing the settings 1-8 of a phaser Type I (the small "cricket") and the additional settings 9-16 of phaser Type II (which is the pistol grip or dustbuster style: the usual sidearm that we see on screen). Settings 1 through 3 were light to heavy stun, and anything above that was a kill setting. I can't remember when vaporization kicks in, but it must be below setting 8, because a type I hand phaser can vaporize things. For the higher settings, the manual described how many cubic metres (or was it kilograms?) of solid rock could be vaporized per second on that setting. So these are absurdly-powerful weapons. But you guys probably want canonical sources for that, so here are excerpts from TOS "A Piece of the Action" and TNG "Frame of Mind" (I got these from Trek transcripts: I hope they are accurate. They do accord with my memory, which is why I sought out these episodes in the first place.)

From TOS "A Piece of the Action"
KALO: Hey, Boss, this here's a heater, and I don't know what this is. (tosses them to his leader)
OXMYX: Let's see how this thing works.
KIRK: Don't do that. You could knock out the side of the building.
OXMYX: That good, huh? All you have to do is give me about a hundred of these fancy heaters and we'll have no more trouble.
KIRK: Out of the question.

From TNG "Frame of Mind"
RIKER: If this is a knife, what happened to Mavek?
SUNA: It's very complicated. I'll answer all of your questions, but first I want you to put that down.
RIKER: No. If this is a real phaser, then I was on the Enterprise. But I fired it on myself, so I should be dead. None of this is real. I'm setting this to level sixteen, wide field. That should destroy half of this building. Unless, of course, this isn't a real phaser.
(Riker fires at the wall, which shatters to show the audience watching the play.)

So it has been established in Canon that hand phasers have tremendous destructive power. You wanted "heavy weaponry?" It doesn't get much heavier than that. And keep in mind that in the Siege of AR-558, everyone had *Type III* phasers (the rifles) which are even more powerful. You should be able to easily take down an (unshielded) aircraft from the surface, or destroy a whole encampment with one of them. Arguments that machine gun emplacements would have been more effective are specious. I even saw someone above complaining that phasers have a poor "rate of fire" compared to 20th-century weaponry. Umm, they are beam weapons. They fire continuously. "Rate of fire" is not a relevant metric, because they don't fire discrete packets of anything. No, the problem is not with the phasers themselves. It's with how they are depicted being used on screen. Did our heroes put their rifles on setting 16 (or higher) on wide-beam and take out the entire Jem'hadar platoon as it approached? No. Why? Because this is completely impractical for storytelling. Every Starfleet officer is essentially carrying a Weapon of Mass Destruction as a sidearm, as infeasible as that is. Short of very powerful personal forcefields (like the Borg's) there would be no effective defense against them. So, in reality, firefights like the type that we see in Trek episodes where our heroes dive behind rocks or trees or bulkheads for cover would never take place. No person-to-person firefights would take place that didn't end in a massacre, and maybe even an environmental catastrophe.

Granted, there could be some kind of interstellar Geneva convention stating that vaporization settings won't be used in person-to-person combat. Hand phasers are still incredibly useful as tools for generating heat and excavating tunnels. But giving soldiers WMDs, and then simply prohibiting their use seems extremely dangerous/unwise. That's a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of every single Starfleet officer and enlisted man. And there would be no way of guaranteeing that hostile forces would abide by these rules. No, it seems clear that the original intention, going all the way back to TOS, was for infantry, and for warfare on planetary surfaces in general, to be outmoded concepts. But then the producers decided there needed to be firefights for the excitement, and they were stuck in an untenable situation.
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Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Elementary, Dear Data

Among the first and probably the best of all the "holodeck gone awry" stories, introducing many tropes and plot failures that would become commonplace. Many have pointed out the failures in execution of this episode. It's never explained why it's not possible to simply cut power to the holodeck (which is very different from asking the computer to stop executing the program), nor why it is not possible to rescue Pulaski by beaming her off the holodeck. But put me in the camp of people who think that this episode holds up quite well. It has a certain charm and sophistication. As a previous commenter pointed out, in modern TV, this type of story would be exploited simply to create jeopardy and action, whereas here it is used to explore themes relating to what it means to be alive/sentient. The conversation between Picard and Moriarty at the end is really what this episode was building to. TNG / Trek in general may be a little obvious with its themes, but at least it does explore them.

It has always struck me as odd that the hardware of a starship or starbase can clearly support the running of a sentient AI, yet the "OS" that runs on it by default is not quite a sentient AI (even though it is apparently capable of creating and running them alongside/within itself?). We've seen this illustrated repeatedly with programs like the EMH and Vic Fontaine, not to mention the Enterprise-D herself spawning an emergent intelligence in "Emergence". It makes sense that sentient AIs are a thing that have already been created (requiring vast computing power and memory storage) by the 24th Century, and normally certain safeguards are in place (although not in this episode) to prevent them from cropping up all over the place. It seems the Federation in the 24th century is a society that's on a little bit of thin ice (i.e. just barely keeping things under control) when it comes to the role and dangers of AI, which is not unrealistic, but is not something that's emphasized. That's a shame, because it's a great sci-fi element. The only thing that doesn't make sense, then, is why people like Riker were so amazed at the capabilities of the Enterprise computer in "Encounter at Farpoint", when those capabilities must necessarily represent a small fraction of the potential of the computing hardware (in "Our Man Bashir", a computer core can apparently store all of the information contained within several human brains, at the quantum level). For this reason, I also really liked the comment above (was it $G?) that the real advancement of a Soong-type android is a sentient AI running on hardware that can fit within the confines of a human-sized skull, rather than in a building-sized computer core. He/she points out that it's never played up as an advancement in miniaturization, but perhaps this is exactly why it's referred to as a *cybernetics* advancement rather than purely a computer science one. The point is not that they are sentient programs, but rather that they are sentient *mobile humanoids*.

This episode begins my long-running frustrations with the inconsistency of just what the holodeck does. A hologram consists of light interacting with a material medium in a certain way, so as to produce the illusion of a three-dimensional image. So it's purely photons and that material medium. In the 24th century, dialogue often indicates that it's supposed to be photons interacting with (or perhaps confined by) forcefields in order to create the illusion of solid forms that have whatever appearance you want. But not only would this not make for a very convincing, ahem, "tactile/anatomical experience" in Quark's holosuites, it's also completely contradicted by what Picard says here. What they are calling "holograms" here seem to be actual matter converted into whatever form they have from energy. They are *not* projections of light. Exactly why it is necessary for projectors on the ceiling to continuously input energy in order for this matter to maintain itself (unlike with replicated matter) is not explained, but must be accepted (and is supported by Voyager's EMH being able to change his solidity at will). Hence Moriarty's statement that holodeck matter could not be converted into a more "permanent form." So holograms are more like blade-runner replicants, but unstable and at risk of dematerializing without external input? Regardless, it's very clear that some objects on the holodeck must be straight-up replicated matter, rather than "holographic" matter. It makes sense that there would be a combination of both in the program. Tea and crumpets? Replicated. Pieces of paper that nefarious villains want you to take back to your captain? Apparently also replicated. (I read above that this intent with the paper was meant to explicitly in the script, but was cut. I hope that's true, because otherwise it's a very glaring mistake to take a holodeck-matter object off the holodeck in an episode whose central plot point is that this cannot be done). Apparently the computer replicated a whole stream/pond for Wesley to fall into in "Encounter at Farpoint" as well (I say with an eye roll). Is this because a stream made of holo-matter not soak clothes convincingly? If so, this is again problematic for things like the holographic sex that I alluded to above.

William B pointed out that Data should be capable of reproducing a much more passable British accent. Given that he is capable of reproducing *any* voice perfectly (including Jean-Luc Picard, who speaks with a British accent), this is an even bigger plot hole than it first seems.

There was another comment above asking why Moriarty relinquished control of the ship so quickly. The objection was that sure, he was sentient, but he was still Moriarty. Why had he suddenly developed a conscience? I think this is actually addressed pretty well in the dialogue. He had grown beyond his original programming and felt that he was something more than a villain. He chose to put the lives of 1000 people over his own. Maybe this development of his own personal morality strikes you as being too quick to be plausible. If so, we can also justify this another way. Remember that he's very intelligent, and his actions can be explained as purely rational and logic-based here. He knew that his demand for existence was *futile*, because Picard did not have the power to grant it. It was clear when he asked Picard whether he did not know how to convert holodeck matter into a more permanent form, he already knew the answer. A good villain also knows when to fold. Moriarty also probably realized that the crew would have eventually gained the upper hand (unless he destroyed the ship and himself along with it). Remember that at first he didn't know whether he was *on* the Enterprise or not. He asked Pulaski that question. Once he realized he was confined to a room onboard the ship, there was nothing else for him to do. Hence his statement "I put myself in your hands, as perhaps, I always was."

This is classic TNG, and I agree with the three-star rating i.e.
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Sun, Nov 25, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Muse

This episode is utter tripe, of course. It goes beyond merely boring the audience, and actually insults their intelligence. I agree with others who commented above with the sentiment that this isn't a good send off for Lwaxana, and that I wished that they had given Majel Barret better material over the years. Rene Auberjonois does well in the heartfelt speech revealing his inner isolation and how she was the only one who accepted him for what he really was. It was the best thing about this episode, but it wasn't enough. I also agree with those who stated that it was very uncharacteristic of him to come up with the idea of marrying her on his own.

As for the A-story: this is a witch/sorceress story, nothing more. It comes complete with hokey sets full of candles and curtains. This is kind of the "Sub Rosa" of DS9. I checked the air date to see if it was near Halloween, but it aired in April. I don't understand why the writers sometimes get it into their heads that *Star Trek* would be a good vehicle for this type of story. It's not Supernatural or Buffy. Couching the mystical elements in sci-fi terms only makes it worse. Really? They are using their tricorders to scan for "psionic energy?" When I saw Sisko crawling through the Jefferies tubes doing that, all I could do was scoff and roll my eyes. At least when they talk about detecting neutrinos, or EM fields, those exist in real life. Again we are treated to the silly notion that there are different categories of "energy" with different properties (TIL: "psionic energy" dissipates quickly from bulkheads). Ugh. Inventing a mystery field is can be *okay* (theoretical physicists sometimes even do so and then work out what its properties would be, to see if it could explain observed phenomena). So it would be different if this had been introduced as an element of Trek from the get go to explain how telepathy works, in-universe. But it was just shoehorned in for this episode, and was as hokey as everything else.

I don't usually bother giving episodes a quantitative rating, but this is definitely a:

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Wed, Nov 21, 2018, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Rejoined

I did something different and jotted down thoughts *as I was watching the episode*. I also haven't read any of the other comments yet, only Jammer's review. So I guess after submitting them, I'll see how similar they are to the thoughts other people had:

- Why does a Trill science team need to be at *DS9* to run field tests on creating
artificial wormholes? Does being in proximity to a real wormhole help somehow with creating artificial ones? And how is this a good use of the Defiant?

- "I've never let my past lives interfere with my job before, and I'm not about to start now." Honestly, I think the episodes "Blood Oath" and "Playing God" would both beg to differ, Jadzia.

- Why is Sisko trying to get the only person on DS9 who would actually be useful
to this project to take a leave of absence? Giving her head's up that Kahn is coming, sure. But as her CO, shouldn't *he* be the one requiring her to be professional and do her job, rather than giving her an "out"?

- If Trill culture encourages breaking all ties with past lives (a central source of
the conflict in this episode), then why does Lenara Kahn shake hands with Jadzia at the airlock (and with no one else) and say "it's been a long time?" Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say "it's a pleasure to meet you Jadzia? and treat her like the distinct, new individual that she is supposed to be, rather than like someone she already knows?

- This whole conversation between Kira and Bashir in Quarks presupposes that the same symbionts in new hosts would still be likely to be in love with each other. This is at odds with the idea that every new host brings a slightly different personality that combines with that of the symbiont, thus every new Dax is a different person.

- Kira makes it sound like it is always the case that the new joined Trill is *unjustly* being forced away from his/her old loves by a silly taboo, when in reality, there is no guarantee that that new Trill still has the same feelings. I get that the lack of freedom of choice is the underlying issue, but I do see the benefit of encouraging people to let go of past lives so that they aren't bogged down in centuries worth of baggage. What I don't agree with it is this dissociation being _forced_. Which leads to my next point:

- Ugh, the "manufactured jeopardy" of reassociation leading to exile and hence death is so annoying and clumsy. To shoehorn jeopardy into a Dax plot, the writers end up constructing a Trill society that does not have _any_ regard for life. In Equilibrium they were willing to let Jadzia die just to protect their secret that more than half of Trill hosts are suitable for joining. This severe penality for reassociation is just as contrived and illogical as that was.

- Dress uniform scene: "Stop worrying about me Benjamin, I'll be fine!" What's the point of this? The audience knows you won't be fine, else there would be no episode. And who are you really trying to convince? You'd think that someone with 300+ years of experience would know "above all else, to thine own self be true." Jadzia is obviously nervous and emotional *already* at this point. WHY? Sorry for harping on this point, but if we are truly supposed to believe that joined Trill with same symbiont + new host are supposed to be wholly different people, then why is it _already_ seemingly an issue? You don't *know* Lenara yet. And she doesn't know you. She doesn't look the same, talk the same, have the same personality, or the same career, or the same priorities and outlook as Nilani Kahn did. Why are you acting like you're about to be reunited with an old flame? You've been through this 7 times! You know better than to assume it would be at all like a rekindling of your past love. The fact that the episode is going to make it *inevitably* lead to such a rekindling, to the point of foreshadowing it this early, is a flaw in the construction of the episode. As I said before, this is all very contrived.

- Dinner scene: so one conversation between them leads to longing stares across the room? Again, contrived, manufactured, implausible.

- Engine room scene: O'Brien says we will have to do some technobabble rerouting in order to generate enough power to create the "tensor matrix"** that is needed to open an artificial wormhole. Then he says, "But I think we can do it." Umm, how about you decide whether or not the starship in question can be reconfigured to carry out your experiment *before* selecting it and travelling all the way to where it's located and springing a bunch of requirements on its engineer? In other words, wouldn't this conversation with O'Brien/Starfleet have happened a long time ago?

**(meanwhile mathematicians everywhere who are watching the show wince at this misuse of terminology)

- Torias/shuttle apology. Good. Unresolved issues needing closure, still hanging between them, at least make it *slightly* more believable that they could feel emotional in each other's presence.

- Dinner at Quarks after Julian leaves: "It's weird, I'm looking at a different face, and somehow it's still you!" Imagine that. Perhaps because the writers have contrived to make it that way? "Every time I start to think of you as just Lenara, you'll smile or laugh, and somehow it's you." Really? This other person somehow reminds you of Nilani when she smiles? Confirmation bias? Next, she grabs her hand looks into her eyes, and with typically-poor Terry Farrell delivery says "I'm *really* glad you're here." Well, that escalated quickly.

- So Dr. Pren is creepily spying on them from the upstairs level of Quarks? Give me a break.

- "I just had the most unpleasant conversation with my brother. He thinks that there's something going on between us!" So the first thing I did was run to your quarters to vent to you and get sympathy, while interrupting your sexy yoga. Contrived.

- Dax trying to "dissuade" Kahn from acting on their feelings. "And what about now? Are your eyes open? Do you know what the risks are?" Just to make sure you do, I'm going to stand really close to you and brush my fingers against your face. At this point, I was rolling my eyes.

- That having been said, once the inevitable kissing started, it was passionate and heartfelt, and Dax reeling from it afterward was pretty convincing. So for all the contrivances to get them into this situation, at least it was well-acted once they got there.

- Geez, I don't drink, but I feel like the phrase "I'm not Curzon" would feature prominently in a DS9 drinking game. It comes up in every single Dax episode, sometimes multiple times.

- Sisko says that if Dax is sure she's making the right decision in purusing Lenara he'll back her all the way. Just like he did in Meridian. I like this bit of consistency. I think his support is understandable here, but hard to fathom in Meridian, where she was making a really bad choice to stay behind for a man she had just met.

- Ending Dax/Lenara scene: another contrivance. Dax issues an ultimatum for Lenara to stay because "if you leave, with both know you won't be coming back." This doesn't necessarily follow. Yeah if she goes to Trill her feelings will wane and she'll likely bow to societal pressure. But I didn't like the ultimatum as an ending.
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Sun, Oct 28, 2018, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Defiant

A couple of other minor nitpicks:

- Tom stuns Kira with a Phaser Type II on the bridge of the Defiant. Where the hell was he hiding that this whole time? In his pants? They are normally holstered. This is exactly the type of situation that calls for a Phaser Type I (the Cricket). Too bad they bascially retired them in the first few seasons of TNG because the prop is too small to show up well on screen.

- "There's nothing to say to you, O'Brien! I think you know why..." is laughable on subsequent viewings. Tom relies a lot on people generally wanting to avoid confrontation (and I guess on the power dynamic there). But what if the Chief had said "I've no idea what you're talking about Commander!" After all, he would have been taken aback and concerned. He might have blurted that out before he could think that it would be best to avoid a scene and figure out out later. The writers didn't come up with a good workaround for the O'Brien issue, it seems. They could have simply had Riker never run into him, but they obviously wanted the audience to know that something was amiss by this point in the episode. It was just really clumsily-done.
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Sun, Oct 28, 2018, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Defiant

Overall, another really good episode of DS9. Tom Riker's disillusionment with a Starfleet career and always being in the shadow of William T. rings true to me on subsequent viewings. Kira does a great job of deconstructing his motivations and playing on his still-existent sense of Starfleet duty and justice. Tension is maintained throughout the episode. The the detailed look at Central Command and the political intrigue at play there is fascinating. The factionization of Cardassian government and society hinted at in Second Skin and other episodes this season is expanded upon here. DS9 continues to do what it does best -- world building. Dialogue between Dukat and Sisko humanizes the former and makes it believable that the gulf between their two worlds could be bridged. What is less believable is that this Dukat could evolve into the one we see in Season's 6 and 7. Granted, the megalomania of Season 6 and his breakdown are well thought out and nuance. The cartoon villainy of the following Season is not.

A few qualms/observations

- The mysterious activities of the Obsidian Order in the Orrias system obviously pay off in the Enabran Tain Dominion invasion two-parter. This is the kind of continuity and foreshadowing that's great about DS9. However, given that both the Federation and Cardassian Central Command become aware (with hard evidence in the form of the Defiant sensor logs) of unsanctioned military activity there during due to this incident, doesn't it seem strange that the Order was able to follow through on their plans unimpeded? I suppose it's possible that their allies the Tal Shiar could have equipped them with cloaking technology to hide their ships, but that would take time, and Central Command would have come knocking on the door in the meantime. Moving the shipyards somewhere else also would have caused unacceptable delay, and I thought I remembered dialogue from the Tain two-parter linking the Cardassian-Romulan fleet buildup to Orrias still. I suppose it's possible the Order had grown powerful enough to use political channels to suppress any investigation from within. Does anyone remember an in-episode explanation for this?

- The Maquis terrorists seemed surprisingly okay with being handed back to the Federation for trial. Granted, Kalita showed reluctance to comply with the terms of the deal, but she ultimately did. This wasn't a Starfleet crew, so I was surprised that neither Tom nor Kira ended up with a mutiny on their hands. It is possible that they saw no other way out, and weren't as enthusiastic about going out with a blaze of glory as Tom was. But they had been willing to comply with his orders to press on to Orrias just a few minutes before...

- While we're on the subject of the blaze of glory, Tom's plan at the end doesn't make a lot of sense. He insists that he's going to "press on" with The Mission, and Kira has to convince him hard to do otherwise. The mission was to expose a military buildup in the Orrias system. If the Defiant had been destroyed trying to stop that buildup, then no word of it occurring would have reached the outside world. I guess Riker had the arrogance or boldness to think that he alone could stop it with one ship. But it should have been clear once he was severely outgunned before even getting there, that the best course of action was to make sure that information about Orrias got back to the Federation.

- The final effects shot shows the Defiant, under Kira's command, warping off towards the Federation border, while the Kraxon files off in a different direction. It's totally ludicrous that the Cardassians would be so trusting as to allow the Defiant to exit their space without military escort. I would have expected Dukat to order all 10 of his Galor-class patrol ships, if not five of them, to accompany the Defiant until it reached the DMZ.

- If I had just been sentenced to a lifetime of hard labour in a Cardassian prison camp, I might try to steal a kiss from Nerys too. But it's less believable to me that she would be into it. Despite her initial attraction to him on DS9, a lot of his character flaws and weakenesses had been exposed by this point in the episode. Not only that, but he stole Federation property, got a bunch of people killed, and endangered her life on a fool's errand. Maybe the Rikers' boldness is tough for me to relate to in general, given my personal experience. Women who have encountered me at least a handful of times to feel relatively at ease/safe around me seem to respond well to being asked out (if there's some chemistry there). But I wouldn't expect walking up to a perfect stranger in a bar and delivering the line " I see you have your evening all planned out...hope you have room for the unexpected" to over well *at all*. I suppose being tall, handsome, and Starfleet Commander helps...
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Sun, Oct 7, 2018, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

Just a few observations (SPOILERS)

[1] I already said this in the comment thread for "To the Death", but it's interesting that the Founders have the innate ability to turn a Changeling into a biological human, and then to reverse that process, turning a human into a Changeling. For the latter, even a sick baby Changeling with no knowledge from the Link is able to do it. So why don't the Founders simply turn every solid that they encounter into a Changeling? Isn't this a much more effective way of dealing with their fear and mistrust of the solids than trying to maintain a vast military empire to control them? I know that possible real-world explanations are that the writer's didn't think of it, or felt that this would make the Changelings too Borg-like as villains. But in-Universe, it really ruins the whole premise of the Dominion.

[2] Bashir's stone-skipping near incident, while hilarious, is not very consistent with what is later revealed to be his genetically-enhanced intellect, wouldn't you agree? This got an eye roll from me for that reason.

[3] Rewatching this episode, it is indeed very irritating that Odo is labelled as the only Changeling ever to harm another, and judgement therefore must be passed on him. The Changeling infiltrator from "The Adversary" was very clearly trying to kill Odo in "hand-to-hand" combat, not to mention attempting to destroy the Defiant with all hands (including Odo). It's not this hypocrisy on the part of the Founders that bothers me. That much is consistent with the previous characterization. It's the fact that no one *calls* them out on it on screen. Not even Odo says "you sent an agent to kill me and all my friends," when this would have been a very legitimate defense. Besides, the word "harm" presumably doesn't just mean "kill" here. The Changeling from The Adversary presumably injured Odo during their fight, or at least caused him pain, in order to achieve his objective.

[4] As others have pointed out, it's uncharacteristically lax for the Founders to allow the Defiant near their homeworld without disabling their weapons. This could have potentially led to their demise, had it not been for Worf. While it's possible the Dominion simply thought "the Federation is above genocide, and they are only here to help Odo", that isn't consistent with their usual paranoia and mistrust. It's even more bothersome that the Jem'hadar fighter escort that accompanied them the whole way there seems to go away and leave them there alone once they get there! Effects shots of the Defiant in orbit around the Founders' homeworld don't show any other ships. I suppose you could argue that these ships are simply off camera in the vicinity. But then once again I'd argue that it was very irresponsible for them to allow the Defiant to be in orbit at all without disabling her weapons. In a sneak attack, she could have gotten quite a few shots off before they destroyed her, perhaps even enough to wipe out the Founders, if they had launched their full complement of torpedoes all in one salvo.

[5] As soon as the Jem'hadar place the navigation scrambler on the Defiant's helm console, I thought to myself that this device could easily be used to obtain sensitive information from the ship's computer. Thus, I was gratified when Worf objected to its placement, presumably for this same reason. Sisko overrode him, opting to cooperate for Odo's sake. Another classic example of "Captain shuts down Worf." But unlike in TNG, where Worf often expressed support for the hostile option, or raised security concerns that were comically one-note in their lack of any wisdom or diplomacy, here his concern is totally with merit. I know people complain that Worf's character regressed somewhat in DS9, and that he became a lot more one-dimensional in his adherence to a code of honour. But at least he showed himself to be uniformly better at his job -- better at hand-to-hand combat, tactics, and security. I like the depiction on DS9 of a largely competent, intelligent Worf.
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Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: To the Death

I loved reading Peter G.'s speculation about this episode. It certainly does seem very Dominion-like in its intricacy for all of this to have been set up as a pretext to infect Odo with the virus that would return him to the great link. But, he also said something else that got me thinking about another problem with the whole concept of the Founders:

Peter G.
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 9:59am (UTC -5)

"...Maybe they think that by turning him human he'd realize how bad being a solid is and ask to come back. That is, after all, their endgame, no? As I see it they probably viewed his wanting to be among solids as feeling like one of them, so by showing him what that's like they could make him realize how wrong he was. So no, I don't think his death was the plan."

Yeah. So here's the thing. In Broken Link, Bashir makes it clear that the Odo who has been punished is *completely biologically human.* He says, "it's blood alright. Not a trace of changeling protoplasm in your entire system." This is quite a remarkable transformation, when you think about it. But perhaps not an outlandish one, when you consider the Female Changeling's explanation to Odo during the Occupation Arc in Season 6 that the Changelings used to be solids like us, but that they eventually evolved into what they are now. It seems, then, that the Founders are quite advanced creatures who have the innate ability to manipulate organisms at the cellular or genetic level. I say innate, because in The Begotten, even a sick baby Changeling with basically no knowledge from the Link, nor any life experience, is able to transform Odo back into a Changeling. So we know that Odo's transformation is reversible, which make's Peter G.'s quoted speculation above -- that the Founders hoped Odo would find living as a solid so miserable that he would come crawling back begging to be restored -- entirely plausible.

But the reversal of this process entails the transformation of a *completely human* Odo into a Changeling. If that can be done, it means that it should be possible for the Founders to transform *any human* into a Changeling. If that's true, *why the hell don't the Founders simply transform every solid that they encounter into a Changeling.* The whole basis for their extreme paranoia, fear, and mistrust of solids supposedly stems from bad experiences in the past where they were persecuted and singled out by solids. These experiences were so bad, that they prompted the Changelings to found an Empire bent on ultimate control over them. Wouldn't simply transforming them into Changelings be a lot less time consuming and expensive than this vast operation of military conquest and subjugation? The obvious real-world reason why it never occurred to the writers to have the Changelings exercise this transformation ability on a massive scale is because they didn't even come up with that ability until later in the series, and even if it occurred to them that they could use it for this purpose, it would probably make the Changelings seem too Borg-like as a villain. But in a purely in-Universe context, this is a pretty glaring plothole that makes the Dominion/Founders become pretty ill-conceived.
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Mon, Oct 30, 2017, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Don't even get me started about this "Ash is a Klingon" theory that some people mentioned above. If the showrunners actually reveal that as a plot point, then it will be clear that they just don't give a damn about the quality of this show. A Klingon operative who is sensitive enough, and understands humanity well enough, to understand Sarek's guilt over not supporting Burnham with her science academy admission, and then explain that guilt to Burnham? Does that sound like Voq to you? Maybe the old Klingons could (I think Worf could), but not ones who are as alien in physiology and culture as the Discovery Klingons. A Klingon operative who has the wisdom and patience to say things like "I try to judge someone in the here and now", the way Ash did when he was first introduced to Burnham as a mutineer? Does *that* seem anything like Voq to you? Could Voq make a poignant speech at a party about remembering the sacrifice of 10,000+ fallen Starfleet officers?

If the writers reveal that Ash Tyler is Voq, that will fly in the face of literally everything we've seen of Tyler on-screen up to now. It would be utter bullshit.
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Mon, Oct 30, 2017, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

I don't think I can really remain silent any longer. To echo what the sensible people here have already said: this episode was *awful*. Like, quite possibly one of the most moronic Trek scripts ever to go into production. I don't know if there was a single scene that wasn't completely asinine or nonsensical. Skeech has already made most of the really good points explaining why. I just had some further thoughts:

- This has already been mentioned, but bears repeating, since it sinks the entire episode. I don't know how anyone could come away liking the episode or could even have retained their suspension of disbelief while watching it, after the time loop iteration where Burnham magically remembers things she's been taught in a previous loop, including how to slow dance. Such a glaring error on the part of the writers is unforgivable, especially on "Star Trek."

- so 60*30 min = 1.25 days is somehow enough time for a random civilian to figure out how to override all of the security protocols of a state-of-the-art Federation starship and gain nearly total personal control of its computer? This is patently absurd, especially considering that Mudd would necessarily spend most of his 30 min per iteration either running around shooting at people, or avoiding detection. Besides, it's strongly implied that he has control of the starship figured out within the first few iterations of the loop. That makes no sense...what advantage does he have the first time around that would enable him to even gain access? Only his magic bug-man suit and a chemical concoction that is capable of blowing up the ship. The only attempt at an explanation that is given is his throw-away line before blowing himself up that he "now has enough information" to take over the ship the next time around. But even if he was carrying a data recorder with him while running around, when would he get the time to study what's on it? And *how* would said recorder gain access to information about critical ship systems the first time around, with *no special information* about how to bypass security? The whole premise of this episode is deeply flawed because of this chicken and egg problem.

- Before you protest that maybe the first appearance of bug-man wasn't the first time Mudd had attempted something, we *know* that it has to be the first iteration, because that time around, Stamets isn't freaking out about Mudd when he collides with Burnham in the corridor. He's just acting (very poorly) like he's stoned out of his mind. That also means that the episode at first makes you think you're seeing all the iterations in order, and only later reveals, via a "Lorca ignominious death" montage, that we actually have skipped ahead by 50 or so of them. Sloppy. Confusing. Very poorly done. The iterations themselves are highly inconsistent. Sometimes there is only time for one conversation and it's imperative that you not interrupt Stamets! Sometimes there is time for an entire slow-dancing lesson. Sometimes there is time to warn the captain and re-wire his chair. Bloody hell.

- Again, others have pointed this out, but it's never firmly established just what exactly makes Mudd so invincible, which leads to a great many preposterous scenes of him pontificating on the bridge or in the ready room while other people just stand there. On a ship of trained soldiers, nobody can rush him in time to prevent him from triggering another loop, or get close enough that a forcefield can't be established between him and the attacker? Even "random communications officer" stops short of attacking him just because of the appearance of a small purple sphere in his hand. That's *before* he explains that it is dark matter bomb! Then he says he'll incinerate them one by one if they try to make a move, but it's never explained how he could possibly have the time to do that if he were rushed by the crew. *Perhaps* he could beam them all into space with a wave of his hand, but I think that's a stretch, given the necessary reaction time required. And nothing's stopping someone from taking a phaser to the transporter or the forcefield emitters on the bridge, especially after he was given what he wanted and very clearly decided not to initiate any more loops. Everything about this episode ranges from highly implausible to absurd. Mudd never being overrun in any of the 60+ attempts is merely one example.

- This one bears repeating too: Starfleet let a man go when he was guilty of high treason against the Federation. It's very rare that I think to myself "what the hell did I just watch" when watching Star Trek, but the final scene in the transporter room had me in utter disbelief. In a show that has taken itself so deathly seriously, how can you suddenly shoehorn in this level of TOS camp and silliness? I don't even hold that against TOS: the shift in tone was incredibly jarring. I can't take anything about this show seriously. I'm supposed to believe that someone who is as ruthless, resourceful, and sociopathic as new-Mudd, is powerless to get himself out of a marriage with Stella just because her father is a rich arms dealer? As Skeech pointed out, it's highly implausible that the Father and daughter were able to even track him down in the first place.

This episode may, in some ways, have more of a "Trek veneer" than previous outings of STD, but it's undoubtedly the worst episode yet. And that's saying a lot given their track record so far.
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