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methane
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Again, all the socialism is really just talk. There isn't any showing that the universe actually works that way.

From what we actually see of the economy:

-The Federation can build military/scientific ships and bases
-People have family vineyards and personal restaurants, works of art and historical artifacts (we don't see people buying and selling in the Federation after TOS, but people definitely give objects as presents)
-In addition to scientists, engineers, and artists, there are people who have mundane jobs, like working at bars and restaurants.
-Great diseases that wipe out planets can generally be eradicated in a week by one doctor with a good computer and lab
-There seems to be a never ending supply of planets to move to after relatively easy terraforming (think of the American West or Australia in the 19th century with unlimited land without pesky natives to bother you).

If you take the current US economy, make medicine insanely cheap (not because the government pays for it, but because technology and knowledge have developed to make cures cheap) and make land insanely cheap, you can have the above economy without any economic transformation. Depending on how much everything costs in our utopian future, our future government could have far lower taxes that the US currently charges.

Anyone "poor" can find a spot in an idyllic community on some new planet. They wouldn't be wealthy, which in this future would probably be equated with owning unique items: a historical artifact, a great work of art, a house in the Latin Quarter in Paris. But even the "poor" could have replicas of these things (well, they couldn't replicate the "neighbors" in the Latin Quarter, but they could build an identical house).

So, yes, the writers can have the characters talk about the Federation being "socialist" all they like, but if you watch the series they haven't actually shown that the economy is different. They certainly provide no argument that socialism is more likely than capitalism to lead to the technological breakthroughs could produce the Star Trek economy.

I said Star Trek had an intrinsic message: people from different background can work together. Going over this again, I should add a 2nd intrinsic message: technological advancement is great! Despite some characters occasionally praising the old ways (Sisko, McCoy), the whole future is shown to be powered by technological advancement.

Socialism isn't intrinsic to the Star Trek universe. It's just not shown onscreen as something real or necessary to their future.
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Jamie Mann
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

That's fair - I hope I'm managing a balance between being a Grumpy Old Git and providing reasoned explanations for my opinions!
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Jamie Mann
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 11:24am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

To be fair, I was fairly bored, too ;)

Still, tis probably time to draw a line under this overly obsessive analysis!
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Jamie Mann
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 8:17am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

> NO! You still ignored my contractor argument. Again if I might add...
Contractors? I saw your comment but figured I'd typed enough for one night…

It's certainly a possible solution, though Worf's comments strongly suggested that this would be a purely Federation endeavour.

Anyhow, let's go wibbly wobbly timey wimey back to the cold war, and look at trade between the USA and USSR. There was always some degree of trade between the two, both legitimate (Vodka, oil) and black market (Levi jeans, cigarettes, etc). But anything with military applications (e.g. technology, uranium) was strictly verboten and both sides came down hard on anyone they caught.

It's fairly safe to assume that whatever unobtanium Star Fleet was looking for was for military use. And this is the Dominion we're talking about: if you're caught doing something they don't like, the default response is to kill you, find and kill your family and then track down your home planet to drop a dinosaur killer on it and release a tailored virus to torture the survivors for generations to come. As a warning to others, because they're nice like that.

Is there really going to be anyone willing to challenge the Dominion that way? It's unlikely that anyone from the Gamma quadrant would take the risk, and anyone from the Alpha quadrant would have to weigh up the risks of being destroyed or (at best) trapped in the Gamma quadrant if the war kicks off and/or the wormhole is destroyed.

> You do realize that the USA does all that towards their allies, the Europeans. It is kind of a joke in Europe. For example the US embassy in Berlin has huge spy stuff on it's roof

It’s all part of the Great Game (which nearly destroyed Europe when it helped to trigger WW1, but I digress). And I had much fun wandering around Teufelsberg last year, and hearing the reason why Berlin had a ferris wheel for so long ;)

But this is where Star Trek takes the “political dominance” struggle of the Cold War and amps it up. The Dominion isn’t interested in any form of co-existence: you toe their party line or they destroy you. As highlighted a few episodes earlier on with the plot to have the Klingons and Federation destroy each other, and as again highlighted just a few episodes later with the attempted sun-buster trick.

The closest analogy is perhaps the very loosely proxied Korean and Vietnam wars, but with one side actively prepared to use nukes. Which thankfully, the USA and USSR always pulled back from.

> You can mine your own territory as much as you want. There are numerous states who use minefields who are not planing to go to war or are at war.

I’m struggling to think of any scenarios where you’d use a landmine without wanting to go to war or prevent an invasion (which arguably is also a war, albeit more one-sided). After all, a mine has one single purpose: it kills. And before you bring up the DMZ between North and South Korea, that definitely falls into the latter category: they’re still technically at war and NK often fires shells over the border and has attempted invasion several times. I’ve wandered through the tunnels they were going to use to bring their troops and tanks through!

(there’s also the horror of the mines left over in places like DRC and Vietnam; it’s more than a bit of a shame that the Korean DMZ is the main reason the USA refuses to condemn and ban them…)

> And about the drug thing. You do realize that you basically cannot be an US air force pilot on an aircraft carrier if you refuse to take drugs. *cough* Dexedrine *cough*

There’s a bit of a difference between soldiers taking amphetamines, and force-bred, pre-programmed shock troopers who die if their magic chems are withdrawn. Hopefully, we’ll never go any further towards the latter in the real world!

> They only know that they are 3 weeks away from the nearest Dominion outpost

No, they know that they’re 3 weeks away from the nearest *known* Dominion outpost. And TBH, the more I think about that, the less sense it makes. How can they be a week away from the wormhole /and/ three weeks away from the Dominion? I don’t think we ever get a clear statement as to how far the Dominion is away from the wormhole, but this suggests two main possibilities:
1) The planet is in the opposite direction to the Dominion (i.e. the Dominion is two weeks away from the wormhole)
2) The planet is en route to the Dominion (i.e the Dominion is four weeks away from the wormhole)

1) seems more likely, but that’d mean it’d be even easier for the Dominion to intercept any traffic, as they could just amble over whenever they receive notification that the wormhole has opened, and arrive at the wormhole just in time for the Federation ships to return from their two-week round trip, all slow, laden with heavy ores and easy targets.

> "Certainly, it would have been sensible to prepare for the potential arrival of the Jem Hadar as best as possible - and to put as much resource as possible into studying the ship"
> That is what they did until the other ship arrived.

No, they faffed around burying the bodies - something which is not part of Jem Hadar culture and (from a military point of view) a huge waste of potential research material. I’d hope they at least stored some samples on the runabo… oh wait, it was destroyed ;)

> would imply that it could... be many things. What it means is that it is not a standard attack ship.
Suffice to say that if something is different, then it’s potentially more valuable to it’s owners. Or it could just be a garbage scow. Either way, the sensible risk assessment would be to assume that it’s more valuable, and that the owners are more likely to want it back.

(Fundamentally, the whole idea of the dominion letting the Federation take the ship is a bit ridiculous - from the Enigma machine to the A-bomb and the space race, in an era of industrial (cold) war, having a technological edge and/or limiting enemy knowledge of your capabilities is absolutely key)

> The Dominion ships can still not fly faster than warp 9.9. and logic dictates that three weeks away means at maximum speed because if it doesn't than why use a measurement of time not distance. In universe the writers wanted to indicate: "A ship would need three weeks from the nearest Dominion outpost."

Like I said above, the more I think about the “three weeks” thing, the less sense it makes - and not just geographically. Over on Memory Alpha, it suggests that standard Jem Hadar ships cruise at warp 7 - or approx. 656c, according to the Oukda warp scale. Runabouts travel at warp 5, or 213c. And the Enterprise and Discovery top out at warp 9.975, or approx. 2100c.

(Then too, it’s pretty canon that ships can’t travel at maximum warp for extended periods, due to the stress it places on the ship’s systems…)

So, which are we talking about?

Warp 5? That 3 week journey would only take a Jem Hadar ship 1 week, or just over half a day for the Enterprise
Warp 7? That 3 week journey would only take the Enterprise 1 week, or about ten weeks for the runabout
Warp 9.975? That 3 week journey would take a Jem Hadar ship about ten weeks - or /thirty/ weeks for a runabout


The most likely - and sensible - explanation that it was based on warp 7. But that then means a high-warp capable ship would be able to arrive in a matter of hours.

Worse, the week it’d take for the runabout to return to the wormhole at warp 5 can be done in about 2 days at warp 7, or just a few hours at warp 9.975. And why would the Defiant also take a week to get to the planet? Surely they won’t just amble over at warp 5?

To be fair, in the end it’s just a stupid throwaway line which is meant to help justify Sisco’s decision. It’s just /incredibly/ stupid, given the exponential nature of warp speed.

> Again, they only appear so quickly because it is important but it could have just been some random troop transporter.
A cursory inspection of the ship would indicate this, and if it was just a troop transporter, the benefits of salvaging it would be reduced. And this should also be factored in the risk assessment.

> " If not, then at least you've gotten something useful out of it and there's little risk of the entire team being wiped out."
> I thought that the shuttle gets destroyed shortly after they arrive at the ship.
No, it gets destroyed after the team had time to inform DS9 of what was going on and request the Defiant after their attempts to tow the ship with the runabout’s tractor beam failed. They also had time to recover and bury all the bodies they’d found. Faff, faff, faff...

> Yes but the Defiant is a week away. Dominion three weeks. Plus they only know that the Defiant is heading for the Gamma Quadrant not where they are going. Plus the Defiant has cloak.

As per above, the timings are all whacky, unless all ships travel at the same speed all the time. And the Defiant may be able to cloak on the way there, but I’m fairly sure there’s no technobabble to allow them to cloak while towing a ship. And if the ship was able to move under its own power, it would be uncloaked/detectable, and the Defiant would have to decloak to defend it.

> It is save to assume that only a very small part is monitored. I think they also mention that the Dominion didn't get near the wormhole for quite some time.

It’s equally safe to assume that in a “cold war” scenario, the Dominion would be very closely monitoring all traffic around the wormhole - especially if (as you suggested) they have superior sensor technology which lets them monitor from beyond the range of Federation sensors.

Equally, given that individual Jem Hadar soldiers can cloak, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Dominion have the ability to cloak ships and satellites - they just choose not to, though it’s debatable whether this is because Jem Hadar ships are mass produced on the cheap, or if it’s a deliberate statement of strength. Certainly, they’d already developed cloaking countermeasures before the Defiant first poked its nose into the wormhole.

And as we find out just a few episodes later, the Dominion has a POW camp close to the wormhole, and has a large fleet of Jem Hadar ships hiding in a plasma cloud, also very close to the wormhole.

But it’s fine - after all, everyone knows the nearest outpost is three weeks away from the planet in this episode, which itself is just a week away from the wormhole!

What’s that? Is it the sound of dramatic convenience whooshing past? ;)

> "You can perhaps argue that the crew had already volunteered for a high risk mission, given that they were in the Gamma quadrant in an essentially unprotected ship, but then we get back to just how ridiculous this entire scenario is..."
There are many mission in Star Trek that turn out high risk even though at first they seemed fairly low risk.

To be honest, it’s amazing how many things go wrong in Star Trek - from teleporters to warp engines, holosuites and beyond. It’s almost as everything happens for dramatic purposes… ;)

Any which way, sending a lightly armed ship only capable of warp 5 into a region where it may encounter heavily armed ships capable of warp 7 seems a tad… stupid. Putting half the command crew of DS9 onto said ship is doubly stupid!

Almost as if there wasn't any attempt at a risk assessment...

> OMG an hour. I actually have stuff to do.
This has been fun. :)

It is mildly worrying, how easy it is to get sucked into writing about this stuff ;)
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petulant
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 7:09am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

I read a poll where Enterprise beat every other show on television. It also had the highest rated season 7 on YouTube somewhere. These sources are indisputable facts!
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Jamie Mann
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 6:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

> Plus as somebody else mentioned they are not at war and the Dominion stated that they only attack ships that have entered their territory. It's is not at all like merry old England during WW2 for numerous reasons. (I hope I don't have to name them. It seems very obvious to me but I can if you want)

Oh dear. I wasn't comparing the situation to WW2, but was instead using the "liberty ships vs u-boats" example to demonstrate the difficulties of having an extended supply chain across long distances across potential/actual hostile territory.

It seemed very obvious to me, but I can explain further if you want ;)

Beyond that: the Dominion and Federation aren't at war? This'll be the Dominion that has established a spy presence on Terra? The one that's been actively using subterfuge to try and get the Klingons and Federation to attack each other? And the ones, who (just a few episodes later) had prepared an attack on Bajor's sun which would destroy their entire civilisation? The Dominion which force breeds genetically altered shock-troopers addicted to a drug? The Dominion which had wiped out and destroyed all ships which they found on the other side of the wormhole without asking questions or attempting any form of negotiation? Including a Bajor colony!

And let's not forget Bashir's harrowing experience on a planet the Dominion first nuked back to the stone age and then infected with a 100% infectious and 100% fatal disease.

It was pretty clear at this point in the story that the Dominion was not looking for co-existence, was not interested in any form of negotiation and was actively looking to destroy the Federation and Klingon empires. And meanwhile on the Federation side, they'd already significantly upgraded DS9's offensive and defensive capabilities in preparation for a Dominion invasion.

There may not have been much active fighting, but it was definitely a full blown cold war, complete with a lot of black operations, many of which would have resulted in the deaths of billions if successful.

Though as we find out later, the Federation had a few dirty tricks of it's own tucked into the uniform...

> The Federation knew that it couldn't stop the Dominion, especially without the Romulans. "Giving up" the station while also mining the wormhole was a fairly smart choice. Plus they used the ships for destroying a big shipyard.
Laying a minefield? Sounds like something you'd do in a time of war!

(Plus, all that happened several episodes /and/ one Cardassian betrayal later. Again, Sisco couldn't use this kind of future knowledge, even if he was the Emissary ;) )

> To quote Clausewitz:"The defensive form of war is not a simple shield, but a shield made up of well-directed blows."

Ooo, classical quotes time! Here's one from good ol' Sun Tzu:

"On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye on my defenses. On ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances"

I'm pretty sure being a week away from any support would class as open ground, and hence require a very vigilant eye on your defences. Such as, you know, setting up a convoy system for any ships travelling to the planet and back.

And I'm equally sure that the wormhole would count as an "intersecting highway", so Sisco should have been concentrating on his alliances with Bajor, the Cardassians and even the Klingons and Romulans, rather than spending several weeks poking at rocks on a remote planet which the Federation could never hope to support in the event of a full scale war breaking out.

Gotta quote 'em all, baby!

> I mentioned the Dominion has superior sensors so only hiding would have been risky but maybe possible but certainly not monitoring. The better option then would have been to just fly back

For better or worse, Star Trek has always preferred dramatic set-pieces over technical consistency: one week's technobabble is generally (and conveniently) forgotten by the very next episode. For instance, no-one seems to remember the Ferengi metaphasic shield from TNG, despite the fact that this could handle a far heavier energy load than a normal shield.

Certainly, it would have been sensible to prepare for the potential arrival of the Jem Hadar as best as possible - and to put as much resource as possible into studying the ship - rather than sending most of the crew off to dig graves.

> That is not true. Sisko and at least Dax have fought through numerous engagements. Dax probably more than anybody. We also don't know the capabilities of the other officers. I say bad reasoning and speculation, good sir.

I'll grant Dax to a degree. But whichever way you cut it, a small group of lightly armed non-soldiers is never going to fare well against a much larger group of heavily armed, better armoured shock troopers, especially when the latter also happen to be faster, stronger, significantly more motivated and willing to die for their cause. And that's before you throw in things like teleportation and personal cloaking devices.

> Yes Sisko didn't know that there was a founder on the ship BUT he did know that they were three weeks outside of Dominion space and if it was just one of the endless amounts of ships it would probably take quite a while maybe weeks until the Dominion notices and then sends a rescue ship.

You were kinda doing well there.

First, it's mentioned fairly early on that this isn't a standard Jem Hadar ship, which in turn would imply that it could be more important than usual.

Then too, if the nearest *known* Dominion outpost is three weeks away, then why was this ship nearby? This suggests that there may be a Dominion base or other assets nearby, or that it could even be some sort of transit route between points of the Dominion. As such, what are the odds that there are other Dominion ships which are less than three weeks travel away?

Also, just what does "three weeks" mean? Is that three weeks at standard cruising speed? Does the Dominion use the same cruising speed? Given that warp speeds are exponential and the Dominion has superior technology (and less regard for the safety of the crew - i.e. they're prepared to run their systems hotter and have fewer safety/backup systems, so have ships which are both lighter and more power efficient), how quickly could they really travel to this planet if this ship is important to them for some reason?

All things considered, there were four main scenarios:

1) They'd be able to use the runabout and/or the ship's own engines to escape the gravity well and head back to the wormhole. Elapsed time: minimum one week (depending on what speed they can maintain while towing/nursing a damaged ship's engines)
2) They'd have to wait for the Defiant to arrive, and then to tow the ship back to the wormhole. Elapsed time: minimum two weeks (again, depending on what speed they can maintain while towing)
3) A Dominion ship could turn up at any time and simply destroy the ship to protect it's secrets *at any time*
4) A Dominion ship could turn up at any time and drop a platoon of the aforementioned heavily armed shock troopers *at any time*

Scenarios 3) and 4) would mean the death of everyone on the planet. Scenarios 1) and 2) rely on the hope that there are no nearby Jem Hadar ships.

So yeah, the best bet would have been the option I suggested: get as much material onboard the runabout as quickly as possible, and hightail it out of there, while the Defiant trundles over to the planet. If the ship is still intact and there's no Jem Hadar around when it arrives, then it's cocktails all around. If not, then at least you've gotten something useful out of it and there's little risk of the entire team being wiped out.

(And to be honest, I'd question the validity of options 1) and 2), given that even if there weren't any changling spies on DS9, the Dominion would certainly notice the Defiant heading into the gamma quadrant, and would be more than willing to ambush and destroy it. And for all (to quote the Rikers) it's a tough little ship, it didn't exactly fare that well when set upon by hordes of Jem Hadar ships at the start of Season 3, and I doubt it's been upgraded enough to do significantly better.

Then too, it presumably wouldn't be able to cloak if towing the other ship. And even if the other ship could move under it's own power, it wouldn't be able to cloak and would be a sitting duck for any Jem Hadar warships. So the Defiant would have to decloak to defend it in the event of an attack.

So whichever way you cut it, Sisco and co would have to spend at least a week sailing through territory monitored by the Dominion, in an uncloaked ship.

Thankfully for Sisco, the writers handwaved that little issue away...)

> sacrificing the few for the many.But the Federation has never had that kind of mindset
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa6c3OTr6yA
Conflating the choice of an individual with the ethos of an organisation is pretty weak sauce, old chap.

To be fair, the Federation does occasionally ask individuals to risk their lives. Such as when Picard asked a Bajorian midshipman to act as a prisoner for a Cardassian agent (even if this was arguably highly out of character), or when Troi realised that the only way to "win" her command simulation was to order Geordi to his death. But these are at least nominally extreme situations; in general, Star Fleet doesn't send it's members into high risk situations - and spends lots of time agonising over their deaths when something happens, as demonstrated in this episode.

You can perhaps argue that the crew had already volunteered for a high risk mission, given that they were in the Gamma quadrant in an essentially unprotected ship, but then we get back to just how ridiculous this entire scenario is...

> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv8fPISqh_k
What can I say? Except...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-WN_AxH3Ik
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methane
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

"Right-leaning folks' enjoyment of Star Trek for all of its leftist daisy-chain utopianism reminds me a lot of ..."

How profoundly shallow is your view of art! But then again, many artists are probably oblivious enough to voice the same view (my art is all about my message! And it gets people to believe in it!), even though they actually like a large amount of art that contains ideals they don't believe in.

There are millions (billions?) of non-Christians who enjoy at least some Christian art, whether it's Gospel music, Gothic Cathedrals, the better-written parts of the bible, or renaissance paintings celebrating biblical scenes. You can say the same thing about Islamic art, Buddhist art, and any other religious art you can think of.

There is a lot of art made by people who were/are fascists, communists, militarists, racists, sexists, etc., that are enjoyed by people who don't share these views, even though if you dissect these works of art, their views are present.

And Star Trek isn't really about a lot of "left leaning" stuff...at least not in any coherent way. If Star Trek has an intrinsic message it has successfully communicated throughout the various series, it is that people of different backgrounds can come to work together. But, despite what people who call themselves "left thinking" might say, many people believe this who don't identify with the "left". Furthermore, believing in that ideal does not imply you believe in "leftist" race politics (for example, you can believe that all people can work together and still believe that racial quotas are not good for society).

The other main "leftist" idea attributed to Star Trek, socialism, isn't really supported by the shows themselves. Yes, there are random comments throughout the series (not so much TOS, but the ones that follow): "How awful it is to use money," "Aren't you glad we're not greedy Capitalists like them?" "Hey, do you know Capitalists are greedy?" etc., along with individual episodes, characters, and even most of a whole race (Ferengi) where the writers say "Capitalism is bad." But they never successfully justify this opinion; the shows never really show the supposedly non-capitalist system of the future working (indeed, writers have admitted they don't really know how it would work). And they certainly don't show a sincere capitalist society failing (no, the massively corrupt, bureaucratic Ferengi society is not really capitalist).

If you take all the Star Trek shows and movies made before Discovery (which I haven't seen) they have provided more proof that baseball is an interesting sport than they have proof that socialism works. And I know there are a lot of fans of Star Trek who don't think baseball is an interesting sport.

There are a lot of passionate fans of Voyager who will say "Threshold" is a bad episode. So you don't have to be a fan of every Star Trek episode ever produced to be a fan of the franchise.

So, yeah, it's quite possible to not identify yourself with the "left" and be a fan of Star Trek.

Finally, note that I tried to keep "left" and "right" in quotes throughout this post. These "ideologies" are really an inconsistent mix of different philosophies. If you take many of the policies supported by supposedly "right wing" Trump, you will find many of them would have been attributed to the "left wing" not too long ago. A franchise can't run as long as Star Trek has while being consistent with the inconsistent, ever-changing "ideologies" that supposedly characterize "left" or "right".
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Jamie Mann
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Welp...

I think I've got my facts pretty straight.

This mysterious planet was over a week away from DS9 **on the other side of the wormhole**. It doesn't matter how well armed/armoured DS9 is when any armed response will take at least seven days to arrive! As was indeed demonstrated in this very episode.

Equally, the question isn’t just about defending against incursion, but also about the ships travelling to and from it. Because DS9 is on the wrong side of the wormhole.

Again, to use the WW2 example, this is akin to the situation in the Atlantic, where ships sailed from the USA to the UK carrying vital supplies, and were harried every step of the way by German U-boats. Which in turn meant that a lot of naval resources (ships, planes, etc) had to be allocated to protecting the convoys.

To make matters worse in this context, there would be little or no defences of the mining facility - as Worf explicitly states at the beginning of the episode, the planet would be very difficult to defend due to its remote location. Because DS9 is on the wrong side of the wormhole.

As such, the only way to sustain a mining operation would be to establish a permanent base in space (DS10?) and to have heavily armed escorts for every shipment travelling to and from the planet. That’s a huge amount of manpower and resources to tie up, especially when you consider that all the Federation could be bothered to give DS9 for defence was a single prototype warship which was initially more likely to blow itself up than the enemy.

(and indeed, a few episodes later, it’s revealed that Star Fleet is stretched thin and has virtually no resources to assign to DS9 when the incursion finally happens.)

Then too, it’s been made clear at this point that the Founders have hundreds of Jem Hadar ships, and are more than willing to sacrifice them to defeat an enemy. After all, they’re just a slave race and easily/quickly replacable.

And at this point, the Founders have stated that they’re killing anyone they capture (e.g. as per the Cardassian/Romulan fleet. The fact that this may not be true isn’t revealed until several episodes later...

I’d also note that the Dominion has been picking off all ships travelling to the gamma quadrant, as per the earlier mentions of how Bajoran colonies had been destroyed.

And while DS9 theoretically could close the wormhole, that would trap anyone left on the other side, leaving them to the tender mercies of the aforementioned hundreds of Jem Hadar warships. Because DS9 is on the wrong side of the wormhole. As I may have mentioned a few times ;)

Regarding the runabout: Star Trek has always had plenty of options for hiding - the magnetic pole of a planet is the one most favoured by Trek writers. They could also just retreat to maximum sensor distance and switch ship emissions to minimum, so they just look like a random asteroid. Or park in a cave on the planet. Or some other technobabble solution, of which Star Trek usually has plenty :)

As regards the value of the ship: I’ll agree that was significant. On the other hand, Sisco’s resources for securing it consisted of a Runabout and around half a dozen officers armed with light weapons - and of his team, only Worf (and maybe O’Brien) had any significant military experience.

Against that is the risk of one or more Jem Hadar ships turning up, each filled with the equivalent of a platoon of heavily armed special forces with superior combat technology and the ability to cloak. And at the point Sisco made his judgement call, he was not aware of the presence of the founder, so couldn’t consider the crashed ship to be a potentially defensible position - after all, the Jem Hadar could have just teleported into the ship, or even just beamed a load of gas or explosive devices into it.

If it hadn’t been for the Founder’s presence, then the entire team would have been killed when the Jem Hadar arrived and Star Trek would have gained nothing, as the crashed ship would have been either destroyed or recovered. As it was, they lost a runabout and ten or so crew members, which in turn triggered the clumsy monologues about trust and “what they signed up for” yadda yadda.

You can argue in the post-analysis that seizing the ship was a valid trade off. But that’s after the fact, and after the Founder “fluke” intervened to both save the few survivors and allow them to seize the ship.

To be fair, I can believe that the Klingons or Romulans would be willing to take that kind of risk - after all, their cultures are far more military in nature and they’re much more comfortable with sacrificing the few for the many.

But the Federation has never had that kind of mindset; instead they’ve always adopted the “bring everyone home” ethos as per the US army.

(Personally, I would have stuffed a couple of Jem Hadar bodies into cold storage on the runabout and stripped a few computer banks from the ship before retiring to a safe distance and monitoring for any new arrivals, with strict instructions to jump into warp at the first sign of any ships. But hey: I’m not a Star Trek writer who wants to write a siege story…)
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Banana Phone
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 9:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

It's been a pleasure, Jammer, following along with your reviews and the gladiator matches you host beneath them. I've been fortunate to find them to accompany my casual refresher of the show.

Season 7 remains polarizing. The highs were high and man, were the lows low. Season 1 was mostly shades of lukewarm oatmeal, nothing too deplorable but definitely not spectacular, but Season 7 showed some of the drawbacks of serialization. When there's a crap plot-line, it doesn't go away when there's the reset to status quo at the end of the runtime, but it continues until the writers see fit to put it and us out of its misery. That horrific -- horrific! -- Dukat/Winn plot mess was emblematic of Season 7 digging its heels into some questionable story decisions and its tendency to try to include everybody.

Don't get me wrong. The depth given to the secondary and tertiary characters was a brilliant decision that more than not, added to the story, but there was no harm in sending a character like Dukat off onto the good ship No Longer Needed. Dukat was deservedly a fan favorite, but by jove, quality > quantity every time. See Garak. Reflecting, the development that Garak received happened in precise spurts and added something to him that wasn't already there. Contrast that with Dukat who with his whole Pah Wraith storyline was around for no reason. We got it a while ago that Dukat is a selfish power-hungry maniac. Great, so what's next? That again? Eh. That's what you do with your limited remaining air time?

While there were several moments throughout the season where I rubbed my temple in disagreement over how the writers were choosing to allocate the time they had to finish off DS9, there were fortunately more where I was relieved that, as I remembered, characters had their stories progress in satisfying, logical ways. Kira's story, for instance. She suffered from a case of the writers realizing that they had good ideas for her but they would've fit sooner in her character arc throughout the series, but in Season 7, they seemed to restrain themselves in order to let circa Season 7 Kira and her accumulated development proceed as natural. I am still not overly convinced about the romantic angle of her and Odo's relationship, but it thankfully didn't encumber her. That scene where she, Damar, Garak, and other Cardassian rebels are laughing about the impenetrable door felt like dessert for her character arc.

If only they'd spared some of that decision-making for the Sisko arc. The Prophets ascending to divine status to him and the cloying spirituality surrounding that (even now thinking about that scene where he walks through the promenade like Christian Jesus... Zack Snyder must've learned from the DS9 writer's subtle allusions to Christian imagery) is the landmark of where Cpt. Benjamin Sisko's Possibility for Satisfying Character Development goes off-road. The baby was a pointless decision for the last season and the last few episodes. The writers phoned in it from the Gamma Quadrant with that "fight" with Flandarized Dukat (who was already a puffed up, cartoonish villain in the beginning!) It's no wonder that Avery Brooks has barricaded himself in his jazz career and only occasionally can be dragged out to crouch down in shame in a chair at a con over what the promising character he played became.

There is a lot that Season 7 left to be desired you realize once you've finished it. However, when taken as a part of the whole of DS9, it can't be begrudged too hard. It was very much a product of its time. What I think people often forget is that prestige television is very much so a post-2000 phenomenon. It's easy to go back with an electron microscope to comb over its flaws, but when taken in relationship the environment it was aired in, things become more excusable. And don't get me started on the Star Trek purists' enduring dislike for DS9 over its "non Star Trek-ness." The only real Star Trek purist is Roddenberry and well, unfortunately, the man's gone. Trekkies should take notes from comic book fans. You can disagree with a canonical entry without dismissing its validity.

Having been a spectator through the comments, I must point out @DLPB's sneering about Terry Farrell being ungrateful to be on Trek when it was the place she experienced sexual harassment on is a corollary to his repeated dribbling about the evils of leftism. Right-leaning folks' enjoyment of Star Trek for all of its leftist daisy-chain utopianism reminds me a lot of 2012 US Vice-Presidential Republican Candidate Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine. It's interesting the way people can manage the herculean task of unweaving messages from such politically charged media. I suppose when you think of the ideals as fictional and fantastical, it's not so hard after all.
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 5:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Let He Who Is Without Sin...

Ah, one of the infamous zero-rated episodes.

It actually feels like a direct sequel to "Looking for par'Mach", as it also explores a number of relationship themes and follows up on the relationship between Dax and Worf.

It's just a shame that it's all done in such a ham-fisted way.

I've always been a bit wary of the "free interspecies love" message carried forward from the 1960s by Star Trek, and even though this episode tries to balance this to some degree with the arguments between Dax and Worf, this is more than outweighed by Risa: a planet filled with young and attractive californian actors and actresses happy to sleep with anyone who waves a little wooden statue around.

Ugh.

Things don't really improve when it comes to this week's relationship plots. The whole thing between Bashir and Leeta is bizarre, especially when it comes to the way in which they resolve things between them - it's the sort of "ritual" which can only really work if you're both attractive and in a place where there's lots of hedonistic people out for a good time with random strangers. Which doesn't describe Bajor at all, but does pretty much sum up Risa.

Ugh.

(There's also the odd bit where we discover that Dax's previous host Curzon died on the planet during a jamaharon, and it's strongly suggested that this was some form of euthanasia...)

Then there's the prime plot: the relationship between Dax and Worf. And sadly, they just bicker like sulky teenagers, with Worf demanding complete control and Dax demanding total freedom. The way in which they spark off each other makes it genuinely hard to believe they could have anything other than a physical and short-lived BDSM relationship.

And indeed, this leads to the worst element of this story, where Worf decides to listen to the rantings of someone who's essentially a fundamentalist preacher promising hellfire and brimstone if his demands aren't met.

(I'm guessing this was meant to be a reflection of the only domestic terrorism encountered by America at the time, in the shape of the Unabomber and his demands for people to return to a more "natural" way of life. It's interesting to reflect on this some twenty-odd years later, when terrorism has had a much bigger impact on western society...)

Or to put it another way, just one step removed from a terrorist. And naturally, this preacher takes the next logical step and stages a faked attack on the citizens of Risa, which he somehow manages to avoid any form of punishment for; he's not even put under surveillance or deported from the planet. Because this is the pleasure planet Risa, and they accept everything and everyone.

(And again, it's interesting to compare this to real-world pleasure resorts such as Ibiza, Hawaii, Prague, Los Vegas and even deepest, darkest Blackpool. Drugs, alcohol, hen nights, stag dos; where there's pleasure and partying, there's also a range of negative elements, from arguments which go bad (as per Dax and Worf) to organised crime and beyond. So there's always a need for some form of policing at such places!)

Naturally, this preacher's "tough love" approach strikes a chord with Worf. And just as naturally, following an argument with Dax, Worf decides to teach her (and by proxy, the Federation) a lesson, by giving the preacher a tool to deactivate the entire planet's weather-control system.

Wait, what?

The idea that Worf would buy into a deliberate act of terrorism like this is pretty ridiculous. The idea that this wouldn't cause any deaths or significant suffering is also ridiculous. And the idea that Worf wouldn't then be drummed out of Starfleet when his actions were reported?

Hoo boy.

To be honest, the entire show and the premise thereof is a complete wash out. But perhaps the biggest issue I have with this episode is the whole hellfire-and-brimstone rant about how soft the Federation is.

Because in some ways, that's the biggest slap in the face yet for Star Trek's original message.

Star Trek was born out of the optimism of the sixties, when America was still basking in an economic boom following World War II, when their "liberal capitalism" had handily triumphed against Nazi Germany. And this even carried through to the 90s when TNG was launched: it may have taken several decades of the Cold War, but America's "liberal capitalism" had eventually emerged victorious over the centrally-organised dictatorship of the USSR.

And this is one of fundamental tenets of Star Trek: a liberal society is generally able to compete favorably with a non-liberal society. Partly because a liberal society is more flexible (e.g. the UK and USA brought women into the workplace during WW1 and WW2, whereas Germany failed to do so), and because "free" workers are generally more productive than forced workers, both because they're happier and because they have more to lose.

(and yes, it's a gross generalisation. But hey, that's what Star Trek is all about...)

In fact, this is something DS9 highlighted just a few episodes ago, when Jake and Bashir got caught up in the war against the Klingons in "Nor the Battle to the Strong": both the soldiers and the medical staff in this episode showcase this tenet perfectly.

Sadly, in this episode, the local population reacts exactly as the preacher-terrorist predicts.

And for me, that's really what makes this episode one of the worst in DS9. At least, so far...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

It's a time-travel episode. It's a comedy episode. And it's also a homage to the 30th anniversary since Star Trek began.

And it works, not least thanks to some superb technical wizardy to splice the DS9 crew into the original TOS footage.

Well done to all involved!

The only negative point of any note is that the Department of Temporal Investigations was a one-off gag used to provide some straight-man comedy.

(Though I know there's been a few books featuring them...)
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Yeah - I've just realised that this episode was set in the gamma quadrant. Which makes even less sense; trying to set up a supply line when you've got a single, easily disrupted route during an active war is an absolute recipe for disaster, as England found to it's cost during the two world wars, when German U-boats wreaked havoc across the Atlantic.

Given how little priority Starfleet seems to give to reinforcing DS9 and the wormhole (as highlighted just a few episodes later on), it's doubly ridiculous...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Assignment

Alas, after a couple of interesting episodes, this one fell a bit flat.

Star Trek has done the "bodysnatcher" theme a few too many times for my liking, and there isn't really much new or interesting here. Give or take the fact that Keiko takes to her new BDSM-dominatrix personality like a duck to water...

I also have to say that the flip-flopping of Rom's personality is a bit too ridiculous in this episode. From a completely gullible idiot to tech genius and then to strong and silent accomplice, it's all a bit too schizophrenic!
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Nor the Battle to the Strong

For once, this is a DS9 episode I don't feel overly critical about.

In some ways, it's a throwback to the military-hospital stories from MASH, with the conceit of an journalist to witness things from an "innocent" perspective.

And for me, it all ties together pretty well, including the way that Jake first flees from danger and then finds himself forced to fight.

One other point this episode highlights is how Starfleet deals with military situations. And for once, they're actually shown in a pretty positive light; the tough (if dying) soldier and the gallows humour from the medics shows a society whose members are willing to work hard to defend their freedoms, even if some individuals find themselves breaking under pressure.

It's a bit of a shame that this implicit message was then thrown away by one of the more infamous episodes of DS9...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

Something of an odd episode.

Back when TOS began, Roddenberry threw a few things into the melting pot, such as the pulp sci-fi stories published in serials such as Amazing Stories, the waves of optimism and free love sweeping over America (driven in part by a burgeoning economy and the positioning of the USA as the defender of the Free World at the time), and the traditional libertarian and frontier spirit of early american history.

And depending on your viewpoint, Gene was also into open relationships or just a serial adulterer; his relationship with Majel began at least a decade before he divorced his previous wife and there are many stories about his behaviour.

So in many ways, this episode feels like a throw back to Gene's vision from the sixties, as it centres around the exploration of non-standard relationships.

In the first instance, there's the development of a poly relationship between Kira, O'Brien and Keiko. Or at least, I think that's what the writers were aiming for, as I know a number of people in very similar setups - some of which include a child being cared for by everyone in the relationship. It's perhaps a shame that things inevitably fall apart for the sake of dramatic tension (and perhaps because they'd pushed the concept as far as they could get away with on an American syndicated TV show).

There's then the relationship between Quark and Grilka, as mediated by Worf, who selflessly puts aside his own feelings for Grilka to help Quark. And as with Keiko, Kira and O'Brien, it's interesting to see how accepting everyone is of this non-standard situation, though it does fit in well with Worf's long standing traits of being selfless and honourable.

Then, we get to the final pairings: Quark and Grilka, Worf and Dax. And again, this harks back to the free love, pulp sci-fi themes of the sixties, when Men were Men and Kirk could get into fisticuffs before retiring off to his boudoir with the scantily clad, blue/green skinned alien girl of the week.

And it's that side of things which always feels a bit /too/ hand-wavey. There's often significant issues when it comes to human relationships across differing cultures and religions and when you throw in other species with completely separate cultures and religions - and the various biological differences therein - I always find it hard to buy into how easily cross-species relationships develop in Star Trek.

(Though equally, I may just be overly cynical. And to be fair, the use of alien species does allow the writers to explore things which otherwise would be censored by the networks, such as the distinctly BDSM elements inherent to Klingon culture, as epitomised by the damage inflicted on both Quark and Dax...)

Still, it's interesting to see how DS9 was starting to explore topics which were previously taboo...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Another episode which makes me wonder how DS9 mamaged to get itself renewed.

Once again, a large chunk of the command crew from the space station - at a time of active war with two separate enemies - decide to spend several weeks on a remote planet doing some pointless mineral survey. It's almost as if this was a TNG episode rather than DS9. Again.

(They've also managed to pack somewhere around a dozen people onto a single runabout, which is a lot more than we usually see. And as mentioned before, THE FEDERATION IS AT WAR WITH TWO POWERS OF EQUAL OR GREATER MILITARY STRENGTH: why the hell are senior military staff for the main defence hub of the sector buzzing around in weak little ships?)

And look. As if by a hugely convenient plot device, there's a Jem Hadar ship in trouble! And it happens to crash land within visible range of where the misplaced bridge crew happen to be standing.

Handy that. Even handier, the entire crew of the ship is dead and the ship is empty, though there's a few foreboding camera shots to let us know that Something Is Still In There.

(And I have to ask: where are all these Jem Hadar ships coming from? The
episode mentions that there's a dominion outpost 3 weeks away: where have they come from? Assuming my warp maths is correct, it'd take at least ten years at warp 9.9 for ships to travel to the wormhole exit point in the gamma sector and the Dominion doesn't use cloaking technology on it's ships, so can't just nip through the wormhole - which if the federation has any sense, has a very large number of weapons pointed at it...)

So, Sisko sees an opportunity for salvage - which is perfectly logical. But he also somehow fails to take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the ship could have gotten a distress call off or that the Dominion might come looking for it.

Instead, the ground-based crew is set the task of digging graves for the Jem Hadar (instead of collecting samples for analysis for the war effort) and there's a blase conversation with the remaining bridge crew back at DS9, who then happily blab in public about the discovery of a crashed Jem Hadar ship. On a station where literally anyone could be a shape shifting spy.

It therefore comes as a great surprise to everyone when a Jem Hadar ship turns up and blows up the runabout. Fortunately, the federation seems to have an inexhaustible supply of runabouts, and the red-shirt crew required to pilot them.

Even better, the Jem Hadar then beam down to the planet and start attacking the people on the ground. And once more, a bunch of people trained to Civil Defence level are able to hold their own against a platoon of skilled super soldiers who are stronger, faster, better shots and can turn invisible.

But wait! For some reason, the Jem Hadar won't follow them onto the crashed ship. For Reasons. Oh, and one of the crew members - a nobody who's been having suspiciously large amounts of banter with O'Brien - has managed to get himself shot by the Jem Hadar's hugely overpowered weapons, but didn't die!

We gots the making of a siege! With a bonus helping of a cliche dying-companion sub-plot.

And so on the episode creaks and rumbles on, with yet more cliches a plenty, including one of the more pointless monologues yet seen in DS9 (as outlined by several other reviews above).

Eventually, things come to a head, with the revelation that a dying changling was aboard the ship! Looks like those foreboding camera shots were there for a reason. And the Jem Hadar all decide to top themselves at the exact same time as the changling dies, despite the fact that THE ENTIRE REASON THEY DIDN'T INVADE THE SHIP WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHERE IT WAS AND HAD NO WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT.

And then we get a monologue. Blah blah trust blah blah pointless blah blah. It's a speech which makes very little sense in the context of what actually happened during this episode. Especially since the main cause of all the deaths is the complete incompetence displayed by Sisco.

After all, if he'd done the sensible thing and hauled the runabout to a safe spot where they could monitor the crashsite while waiting for the Defiant to turn up, no one would have died...
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Beranek
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

I'm surprised that Jammer and a lot of others actually like the B plot with Data trying to learn (about) humor.

I first saw this episode as a teenager and, coming from Central Europe, it was pretty much I was exposed to (American-style) stand-up comedy. I thought it was quite the opposite of funny, amusing, pleasant, humorous, you name it. I hated it so much that I'd avoided anything resembling stand-up for the next 15 years, until the horrible feeling this episode gave me finally wore off and I discovered that some stand-up is actually quite nice.

So... the pretty lame plot with Mr. Charming Rogue seemed really nice to me by comparison.
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

I ALWAYS forget this happened post Odo's de-solidification. Course I always think of this episode as "the one where Odo has sex", which DOES make sense pre "The Begotten."

Presumably, because Odo has lived as a solid, the knowledge of how to replicate the "full" human body, inside and out now rests within him. Whether he chooses to replicate his organs all the time or not is a matter of debate, although I guess that would mean we might see him eat once in awhile after this. Though maybe he doesn't like the hours long digestive process. But he can probably replicate all the necessary equipment and brain impulses to enjoy intimate acts if need be.
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Another episode with shades of "Poor parenting choices"

@Peter G. I think you meant Season 3's "Distant Voices" as "Whispers" was the O'Brien's 'everything is wrong and everyone is in on it' episode.

As for revelation, it does add some wrinkles to Bashir, but I don't think it goes out of it's way to adversely change his character on it's own. Perhaps in conjunction with other events, but that's just characterization marching on I think.

What I do like is how it retroactively works too. First with the aforementioned "Distant Voices" - ehich also gives that episode some additional context that elevates it somewhat, but also with "Our Man Bashir", which Trek reviewer SFDebris analysed from a post Augment revelation point of view. Essentially "OMB" lets us the audience, and Garak, in on Bashir's fantasy. Not of being a spy, but of being able to live a life as the exceptional, superhuman he is. The fate of the world in his hands, the detail-oriented work, seeking out and playing other's weaknesses against them. AND being able to non-fatally shoot a man (Garak) in the neck with pin-point accuracy. And being able to make quick, calculated decisions on the fly. All with Garak mock it, but in reality dancing around the truth of it all and either missing it, or knowing full-damn well what it all meant to Bashir.

Honestly, even if this twist wasn't planned, I don't really have a problem given how well it can be placed upon the previous foundations laid out.
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Nolan
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I think in some Trek episodes it's easy to get hung up on story minutia nowadays and muddle the big point the writers were aiming for. Can't see the forest for the trees as it were. The trees in this case being "shock therapy" and "experimentation" which DO carry a lot of connotations on their own, yeah, but here is just the Trek Twist TM on the "Carrot v. Stick" or "Caring or Clinical" parental/childhood development message.

Here we've got an episode essentially arguing for moderate spanking (or even just punishment for bad behaviour) and pushing your kids, but without beating them or negleting the child's needs. It's "parenting is hard, but approach it with balance, caring and understanding, and sometimes you'll have to push your kid a bit harder than you or they'd like, but it's only to encourage their development"

Let's be honest, Odo likely would be a helicopter parent if given the chance, and his kid would never grow and become independent.

As for Mora, even though he didn't know he'd fallen into a parental role at the start, he never really fully stepped into it either, or perhaps, didn't know how. At the start he's still not fully acknowledging Odo's independence and measuring his personhood by his successes and criticising his lack or it in other places.

And given Mora's role, it's easy to see how Odo got where he did and made his choices. Always looking for belonging, but never finding it, closing himself off when around those that might give it to him. And no wonder he rejected the Founders. He felt a sense of home with them, but also saw the familiar detachment and cruelty he'd "grown up" with. And then he's tried to build that belonging, first with the abandoned Jem'Hadar, a bit with Kira, and now with this baby changling. And all failed, although, through the baby changling he was able to build a bridge back to Mora, and find, if not belonging, at least understanding between them.
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Pedant
Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 7:29am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Contrary to popular belief, there's no such thing as the Star Wars Christmas Special. It was the Star Wars Holiday Special, and the holiday in reference was Thanksgiving.
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 6:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Apocalypse Rising

This is a surprisingly weak season starter, as is perhaps highlighted by the fact that it's not actually gathered that many comments on here!

The idea that the changlings have somehow infiltrated Klingon High command is interesting, but the series of plot-hacks used to bring our main show-leads is somewhat predictable - though it is nice to see Dukat and his captured Bird of Prey making an appearance. Even if the holo-projector failure scene is both overly contrived and far too quickly glossed over; it would have been interesting to see Worf's reaction to the dishonorable killing of an entire ship's crew, especially seeing how badly the death of just a single honorable Klingon warrior affected his brother just a few episodes earlier.

But we can't stop for things like this: we have to continue to the dramatic showdown and equally dramatic plot twist! Where once again, Odo is directly responsible for the death of a changling[*] - and as with Worf, there's no followup on how this may have affected Odo.

But perhaps the biggest issue with this episode (having watched a couple of the following episodes) is that it's yet another zero-sum episode. Gowron may mutter about a ceasefire, but we're essentially back to a full blown war just a few episodes later!

Overall, it's not a particularly classic tale.

[*] Who for some reason decided to shapeshift in front of an entire room, despite the fact that they could have very easily maintained their cover by killing Odo and dismissing the Federation's claims as a clumsy attempt to discredit the Klingon High Command...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

I have to admit, I wasn't particularly impressed with this episode; there's a lot of filler and a lot of elements which don't really work too well.

The idea that the Founders want to put Odo on trial for killing another founder makes perfect sense, as does (in a somewhat convoluted way) the fact that they'd use some sort of change-inhibiting virus to force him to return in the hope of a cure.

But as previously mentioned, I've never been particularly taken with the idea that Odo is the first ever Founder to kill another Founder. After all, as this episode demonstrates, they are capable of arguing among themselves, and with their ability to infiltrate and mimic other species, there must surely have been situations in the past where one or more changlings have been faced with the dilemma of having to kill another changling to maintain their cover.

Still, it's reasonable for them to want to question him. Even if they were the ones who blanked his memory and sent him out alone and away from the Great Link to grow up in a completely alien culture.

The result though is somewhat trite. Odo is turned into a fully solid humanoid, in an ironic inversion of Pinnochio's transformation, though it's perhaps a fitting punishment for someone who's chosen to side with solids rather than his own kind.

(I'd also note that Bashir is able to detect significant differences in Odo with his tricorder and physical examinations, in direct contradiction of the fact that the writers have been hammering home over the last few seasons how undetectable changlings are...)

However, as with several other episodes in this series, it does feel like the story was written backwards from this plot point, rather than it being a natural development of the storyline. And this forced reinvention of a character feels a bit cliched, though to be fair to DS9, this may be at least partly because other long-running TV shows have taken similar steps to try and keep things fresh in the twenty-odd years since this episode first aired.

In truth, the B-plot with Garak is more interesting, as he joins the Defiant on a mission to try and search for survivors of the Cardassian/Romulan attack on the Founders. In some ways, it's a fairly weak premise for dragging his character into this week's story, but his showdown with Worf is well presented. Even if he does seem to miss a fairly key point when talking with the changling; she states that all the Cardassians from the destroyed fleet are dead, but she also states that she classes *all* Cardassians as dead, including Garak himself.

For me, that implies that there could be survivors, and it's odd that someone as steeped in subterfuge as Garak wouldn't have picked up on this. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the writers intentionally designed her statement to be ambiguous, or if it was just another heavy-handed attempt to show how unforgiving the Founders are...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Body Parts

Argh. It's a Ferengi-focused episode. Oh joys.

To be fair, in many ways, it's one of the better ones, though it's still pretty clumsy. In fact, it feels like it was written backwards from the scene where the crew of DS9 club together to save Quark's bar.

It's also another example of how heavy handed Star Trek tends to be when it comes to alien societies and religion. I suspect this is at least partly due to the need to produce stories which can be syndicated; attempting to examine religious, political or sexual themes through a "human" lens carries far too high a risk of controversy which could lead to American TV networks cancelling the show.

But the result is always pretty ham-fisted, as the need to cram an entire religious concept - and resolution thereof - into just 20-30 minutes (depending on whether it's a A-plot or B-plot) results in simplistic, one-dimensional stories.

And that's exactly what happens here. Just as all Bajorans believe in their religion, and all Klingons follow the warrior way, so too do the Ferengi believe in a religion based entirely on money. And... well... it's just all very clumsy and one-dimensional.

Which isn't to say there's not some entertainment to be derived from this episode. There's the fun of watching Garak kill a virtual Quark in various ways, and the odd B-plot involving Kira becoming magically pregnant - a fairly novel way to work around her real-life pregnancy.

But in the end, it doesn't quite all gel together. It's a shame they didn't lean more into the "pound of flesh" theme - Brunt's character would have mapped well to Shakespeare's Shylock, and an ending in which Quark managed to turn the tables on him would have been entertaining.

Similarly, while the ending had definite shades of It's A Wonderful Life, Quark's response to it seemed somewhat flat. It's perhaps appropriate for him to take the "alien" perspective that the people supporting him are "assets", but equally, it would have been nicer for Nog to point out that they're acually his _friends_.

There's also the question: given how badly Quark has treated the crew of DS9 over the last few years, would they really have clubbed together to support him in this way? Admittedly, the alternative would have been to leave him sitting in the ruins of an empty bar...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Quickening

In many ways, this episode bears more than a passing resemblance to TNG's Thine Own Self, in which an amnesiac Data struggles to find a cure for a mysterious illness sweeping through a village.

But naturally, this all gets the DS9 treatment.

For once, we're not in a little rustic village filled with Californian B-actors, but a ruined planet, filled with an entire population suffering from a degenerative and ultimately fatal disease.

Worse, it's been deliberately inflicted on them by the Founders, using advanced technology which even the Federation can't match. And after over a hundred years of failed attempts to cure it, the only solution the local doctors can offer is a quick-killing poison, once the suffering from the disease becomes too severe.

This makes for an interesting conflict with Bashir, both when it comes to his interpretation of his hippocratic oath and his determined belief that he can find a cure and save the day.

And truth be told, I found it easy to understand Truvada's actions and viewpoint. They've had a hundred years of this plague, and all previous attempts to cure it have failed - and it has both a 100% infection rate and a 100% fatality rate.

In that situation, having seen generations of people growing up with the knowledge that they're going to die writhing in agony, not only would you have no hope of a cure, but you'd offer the only thing you could - a chance to end the pain.

In many ways, Bashir's disagreement with Truvada makes little sense, especially since only a short while ago, Bashir was more than happy to (effectively) euthanase Worf's brother.

Of course, at least part of this is because Bashir believes himself clever enough to find a cure and beat the Founders at their own game.

But since this is DS9, his actions actually make things worse, and he's forced to watch Truvada dealing out the only solution which works: a little dose of poison.

And therein lies the key point of this episode: a chance for Bashir to be humbled and reflect on the fact that for all his brilliance, he does have some limitations.

As a character study, this is one of the better ones in this series, even if Bashir's partial redemption is linked to some clumsy religious overtones.

Though as happens so often in this series, it's a shame that there's no discussion of the trigger for this episode. The fact that the Founders are willing to both destroy a civilisation and then punish the survivors and their descendants with a terrible, personally tailored virus is something which should really deserve at least some commentary, but it's just waved aside.
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