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Tranya and Tonic
Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

This felt hard to judge on its own, as it's not only a part of the entire series, but also part 1 of its own 2-part episode. Which begs the question: why format it like that?

But anyway, I suspect we're witnessing the setup to a more peaceful resolution. All of the pieces are being set up for a massive death battle between 218 Romulan ships and a fleet of galaxy spanning murder robots. But the conversations between Picard and Soji lead to me to believe that they're going to ultimately take a third option. My money is on Soji convincing the galaxy-spanning murder robots that organic life is worth preserving and the Romulans that synthetic life has merit as well.

I'm somewhat puzzled that anything resembling short-terms stakes is immediately perceived as antithetical to the Star Trek ethos. Consider the end of Deep Space Nine (***Spoilers for a 20-year-old episode, I guess***), where the Dominion has retreated to Cardassia and refuses to surrender. The female Changeling is prepared to fight until the last Jem Hadar soldier is killed just so the Federation has to mount up losses too. Those are the stakes. Then Odo pipes up and says, "Hold on, let me try a third option," and beams down and links with her as a way to broker peace. I see something similar happening here next week.

I'd love to get more information about these synths. Are the gold-eyed versions somehow more-robotic than Soji? The one guarding Narek seemed super Data-like, but then Gold-Soji seemed deviously more human. Are they entirely organic? Are they silicon based? Being organic would explain how stabbing one in the eye would kill them. But if they're completely organic, how are they not just clones? What exactly makes them androids? Does that mean that Vorta are "synths"? Or the people from "Up the Long Ladder" and "The Masterpiece Society"? In ability, Soji seems more like Khan than Data. None of these things CAN'T be reconciled, but I wish they would explain them so that we understood the stakes.

I enjoyed some of the short character moments. Picard expressing his love for Raffi shows his growth from who he used to be way back in TNG Season 1, but he's so clearly uncomfortable doing it. It seems to be a believable growth of his character. He's not suddenly a completely different person. The Soji/Picard stuff continues to interest me on both a character and philosophical level. Their conversations always have my full attention.

I'm less sold on the Jurati stuff. I still don't buy her relationship with Rios. I am confident though that she's pulling a fast one on the Synths. The Synths asked "Are you willing to die for us?" They DIDN'T ask, "Are you willing to help us murder the universe?" I suspect some trickery afoot.

Elnor is still a personality cypher to me. I don't hate him; I don't like him. I don't really feel anything about him. He is the Travis Mayweather of this ensemble.

Looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up next week.
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Tranya and Tonic
Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

This show is really impressing me. There were two episodes so far that didn't really engage me, but nothing has completely turned me off so far. I find myself genuinely looking forward to each new episode to see how they surprise me. With Discovery, I always looked forward to each episode as well, but my overall feeling was more like, "God! Please don't screw this up." I like that show quite a bit too - the characters are all enjoyable and the individual scenes play nicely, but their approach to story arcs is... peculiar. Some episodes seem to tread water and then a single episode will suddenly lurch the whole story forward with a massive dump of exposition.

Picard, on the other hand, feels much more balanced. Some episodes have been more action oriented than others, but each episode seems to add something to the canvas in a way that makes sense. Compare to episodes of Discovery like "The Red Angel" or "Through the Valley of Shadows" that seemed to be juggling more plot elements than they knew what to do with.

I enjoy Rios a lot. He's easily my favorite of the new characters in the show. His basic character type (cynical loner who plays by his own rules) is such a cliche, but the show and actor manage to do some interesting and unique things with him. The holograms also add a nice element of comedy without being ridiculous and slapstick. I was happy to learn a lot more about him in this episode.

Picard laying into Agnes was also fun to see. We've seen Picard make the impassioned inspirational speeches before in this show, but I don't think we've seen a solid "I'M SO DISAPPOINTED IN YOU" dressing down a la "The First Duty" or "The Pegasus." Nothing makes a person's motivational turn make more sense like having Picard rip them a new one.

Deep cuts with Marta Batanades. Nice.

I would watch a complete Seven of Nine series. The plot elements involving her weren't that interesting, but Jeri Ryan is just so engaging to watch!
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Tranya and Tonic
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

This episode continued a lot of the fascinating character exploration of Picard that I enjoyed in the first episode. I particular enjoyed two scenes:

First, his meeting with the old Stargazer doctor friend was nicely introduced. Not only was I engrossed in the discussion of his impending Irumodic Syndrome, but there was just a bit of subtle mystery thrown in about who this guy was. They don't reveal that they knew each other from the Stargazer until near the end of the conversation. At first, I thought it might be his old buddy from the episode "Family" who tried to get him to leave Starfleet to work with ocean stuff. Then when it became clear he was a doctor, I wondered if this tied in with Crusher in some way. I agree with the point above: not using Crusher for this was a wise move. The other character history from those two would have greatly overshadowed the point of the scene. This added to Picard's history in a very believable way without being distracting.

Second, I liked the explanation for why he doesn't just contact Riker, Troi, etc. to help him. He knows that every single one of them would help him without question, and given the dubious legality of what he plans to do, that's A LOT to put on the line. More to the point, it makes it Picard's CHOICE, so that we don't have to pick through a lot of pointless plot details. Regardless of whether he's technically right or not, Picard's feelings on the matter struck me as very true.

I like a lot of the visual cues on the Borg ship to create a very tense atmosphere. A lot of the little details hint at this being an extremely dangerous project (the little badges, the masks, the scanners, the containment fields, etc.) without anything actually happening. The only Borg we actually see is unconscious and already mostly stripped of Borg parts. And yet, the whole atmosphere indicates that this is a DANGEROUS thing to be doing.

All that being said, this episode did give me pause on a few things:

I'll add my vote to the group saying that Starfleet doesn't need a vast evil conspiracy. It's been done.... a lot (Section 31, Insurrection, Into Darkness, Beyond to an extent, Discovery Season 2). I actually liked the scene with Picard and the admiral, and I think most of the same effect could be achieved with Starfleet and the Federation having become well-intentioned but maybe just too self-focused. Having one side saying that helping the Romulans was right and the other saying that doing so would have caused a Federation Civil War: that creates the inner conflict while still giving both sides a pretty fair point of view. We the audience can still side with Picard and want him to change Starfleet's way of thinking, but it gives their motives much more clarity.

The Vulcan Commodore (who I assume is the Head of Starfleet Security or something?) was far too mustache-twirling nefarious. Also, these vast and elaborate conspiracies feed into the paranoid idea that such things exist in real life, and that's just not the way things really work. Even the Romulans having an even MORE evil and MORE secret government watch agency made my eyes roll. Sure, there are times when very small groups can be conspiring together, but the logistics of keeping an ENTIRE organization that spans hundreds and hundreds of individuals across centuries.... that's a bit of a stretch.

None of this is a deal breaker for me. I had similar believability problems with the introduction of Section 31, but the stories surrounding them on DS9 were often some of the best. If they can do something new and refreshing with this premise, I'm on board. If it's just a lot of "everyone is a double agent and evil... trust no one," then I'm kinda over it.

Still all in for this show. Despite any misgivings, my general impression after both of these first episodes has been overwhelmingly positive.
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Tranya and Tonic
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I found this first episode to be surprisingly engrossing. I think my greatest concern was that Picard himself was going to be a dark, brooding, and cynical in a way that wasn't in tune with the character we all grew to love back in the TNG days. He was certainly a man suffering from the aftereffects of some pretty hefty traumas (the failed rescue of Romulus and the Synth attack on Mars), but he was still kind, respectful, and dignified in his own way. Even his anger during the interview was directed toward Starfleet not living up to his own ideals (a theme that certainly resonates with TNG episodes like "The Drumhead" and "The Pegasus") rather than any changed worldview on his own part. There's also the implication that the Federation might not be as corrupt as he's making it out to be - that his own struggles with Data's death, the Synth attack, and the Romulan refugees have colored his view a bit. And naturally, Patrick Stewart is such a stellar actor that he can convey a sense that something has been lost in Picard while still exuding a natural warmth and compassion to everyone around him.

I also appreciated that so much of what happened pulled naturally from the characters of TNG without feeling predictable. Picard has always been a surrogate father for so many characters on TNG that him almost longing for that role again with Dahj felt very natural to me. I was worried at first that they were implying that Data secretly built himself a secret, magical daughter, but I liked the idea that he's just been taken with the concept of having one since the death of Lal in "The Offspring" and that Bruce Maddox was actually the one responsible. In fact, bring Bruce Maddox into the show so directly was a welcome surprise.

I liked Allison Pill's doctor character as well as the two Romulans that live with Picard.

Nice Disco tie-in with the boyfriend being a Xahean, like Tilly's friend Po.

Really cool design on the new Romulan ships.

Some of the exposition on the androids was a little clunky. I'm still not totally clear on what exactly Dahj and her twin sister are supposed to be. Sorta like the Cylons from the new Battlestar Galactica? But can only be twins? Somehow? This didn't worry me too much since this is clearly going to be THE major plot of the show, so I'm sure further explanation is forthcoming.

Anyway, I liked it.
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Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

How many times did you jack of to BSG?
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Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Tears of the Prophets

Head canon: When Sisko joined the Prophets he existed in a non linear realm and before he left he said to Kassidy that he would return maybe in the future or maybe in the past. In my mind he returns before Jadzia’s death, he saves her life and she and Worf have their happy ending with their baby.
In a show with godlike beings, parallel realities, a new canon timeline, time travel etc. I can’t see Jadzia staying dead for long.
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