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Brian S.
Sun, Jun 14, 2020, 3:31am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Babel

In January 2019, commenter Ashley wrote:

++"I was enjoying the show, then I realised:

Where are the masks to prevent people breathing in the virus?

Do they know nothing about disease prevention ? They must be wanting to get Sick! Even in this “barbaric “ century we know that masks stop air- born viruses.

This blunder destroyed the whole episode for me. It is silly “, silly, silly!"++


I'm just going to be over here in this corner......drinking and sobbing, in no particular order.
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Brian S.
Sun, Jun 14, 2020, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Babel

While whistling past a graveyard, Jammer to wrote:

++"The "race against the clock" is not a particularly effective part of this story, because we all know DS9 is not about to become a floating morgue." ++

Haha, yeah, I mean, the race to get a vaccine out before the virus becomes deadly is just......well, I mean, it's just--okay, sure, they had to convert additional quarters into an overflow hospital ward as the entire medical staff is overrun......but it's pretty obvious the station won't just become one giant morgue, to the point where they have to start digging mass graves just to keep up with the death and destruction, because, well......what kind of horrendously bleak future would look like that, huh?!

Additional negative stars to this episode for some of the other outlandish parts of the episode.....like the bar owner who pompously declares himself to be an "essential service" in the middle of a quarantine, how the one open business in the economy makes a huge profit while everything else is shut down by delivering goods to people that they cannot otherwise access while the station is shut down, the people who ignore the quarantine restrictions and go out to the bars and clubs anyway because they felt fine thereby inadvertently spreading the virus to everyone else far more rapidly and causing it to mutate, the small business owner so single-mindedly desperate to complete his shipment that he fights against the quarantine orders thereby things worse and ends up blowing up his own ship while taking nearly half the station with it.


DAMN, DS9! How is it a quarter-century later, and your episodes are somehow getting even MORE relevant than ever?!
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Brian
Wed, May 27, 2020, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Defiant

... and finally, in reference to Skywalker’s post above about his perceived lack of respect for rank in Star Trek and this episode specifically (from his point of view as a current military officer)... well all your points would certainly be valid, IF Starfleet was supposed to work like a modern military and have similar protocols. Clearly, however, that isn’t that intention... it a deliberately made less militaristic than real militaries of today and the past, probably as a sign of human evolution and less need for such authoritarian measures. There is a line in season two of TNG, a line that I disagree with but definitely shows Rodenberry’s intention towards Starfleet, where Picard goes so far to say “Starfleet is not a military organization” when he is protesting the Enterprise being ordered to hold a battle simulation/competition.

Now I think that statement is objectively wrong, as clearly (and made more clearly by DS9 and even future TNG episodes), Starfleet does carry the responsibility of essentially being the Federation’s armed forces, “military”; it defends against foreign aggression with force, launches attacks during war, and in DS9 we even see that it has dedicated ground troops/marines. However what we can take from that statement is the significant intention of the creators/writers to show that Starfleet should not be seen as simply analogous to a modern military organization. For one point they do missions of exploration or scientific/astronomical research far more than military missions. It’s like a mix of “explorers“ (what Picard and Riker describe themselves as in that episode, as opposed to “naval “officers”), scientists, and military, in a time when humanity is explicitly described as being more evolved and closer to being a utopian society.

So yes they operate different from how people operate in your military, with less of an overriding military feel governing their interactions, and it’s supposed to be that way in this fictional organization. For example notice how they never salute each other, and how Troy said it would be fine for Picard to be in a romantic relationship with a lower ranking officer (TNG “Lessons”). So while Julian may be even less militaristic than the already less militaristic ordinary Starfleet officer, while that causes a bit of initiate awkwardness for O’Brien it’s also not shocking or anything like it may be in your military. Same with Julian’s behavior towards Kira... Starfleet officers and personal are closer to colleagues than modern military personnel are, even among different ranks (except for times of direct orders). Of course there is still good discipline and adherence to the chain of command; Kira did obey Julian in the end since he technically had the authority to do what he did, and in other situations Starfleet officers almost always professional obey their superiors.
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Brian Lear
Wed, May 20, 2020, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Favorite Son

Just rewatched this with my wife. I cannot believe all the vitriol over this episode. I thought it was a fascinating idea and I did not see the twist coming at all. It was not perfect, the only change I would've made was I think Harry "figured it all out" too quickly. I think it would've been way better if he was fooled until the end.
Overall, a fairly campy story but a fascinating idea and they pulled it off. I feel like people are so overly harsh on this show. If this had been a TNG episode and it was Geordi who got abducted, I think people would've eaten it up.
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Brian L
Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

With the utmost respect, Jammer, I think you were far too charitable in your treatment of the writers making this series "about picard saying goodbye to data."
It was one scene at the end of a very long, labored series, that, while superficially satisfying, I don't think really holds up under scrutiny. First of all, it makes the series over-stuffed. Not only did we have to wiz through a hundred other plot points to get here, to top it off they inject a very heavy-handed scene into the finale that really seems to come out of nowhere.

"I always wished that I could have said I was sorry, that it was you and it wasn't me."

Come on, really? The dialogue is clumsy, written in a strange tense that creates disconnection between the viewer and the events unfolding on screen. And it's fan service--basically, totally meaningless for someone who hasn't seen the TNG movies.

"A butterfly that lives forever, is really not a butterfly at all."

Again, wordy, clumsy dialogue. And, then of course they go ahead and turn picard into a synth. So the butterfly really is a butterfly after all, even if its synthetic. Oh the depth! The magnitude!

Really? You would say this fan-servicey tacked-on finale made the show "about" something? You completely ignore how the writers left loose plot strings frayed all over the place, meandered incompetently all over the place? Relied on violence, gore, spectacle? And somehow one poorly scripted scene between Stewart and Spiner somehow fixes it all?

You are one charitable Trek fan, and I salute you :)
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brian l
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@wolfstar
"The show just wanted to go "look, some gays" without wanting to put any of the work in of showing an actual relationship. That applies to all the straight characters too."

And, sadly, it also applies to everything else in the show as well:
"Look a borg cube."
"Look a murder."
"Look a horrible future event."
"Look a head getting sliced off with a sword."
"Look someone saying fuck."

They treat the audience like an infant, trying to get them to look in the camera. Snap your fingers, make a funny face, maybe they'll look for a few seconds.
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Brian
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

“I'm just pointing out a broader dilemma we all face.”

Ah yes, the royal we at work again. Don’t presume you speak for all of us. Or any of us. We can think for ourselves.
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brian l
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Daniel
"Raffi and Seven holding hands isn't a big, shocking thing. It isn't "in your face". In a series (and franchise) where people have hooked up with members of the other species--often only shortly after meeting, this is an extremely tame expression of affaction. What it is, is a possible avenue for character development and story building. I'm all for normal, and even subtle depictions instead of showpiece "in-your-face" or "to make a point" kind of depictions."

well here's the problem, it's a token "relationship" thrown in with absolutely no background, no buildup, essentially no story. It's probably the most cliche and lazy thing they could have done. "Hey audience, LOOK at THIS! This is where the former borg who desperately wanted to be normal and human instead turns into a vengeful, murdering alcoholic, and finds solace in another bitter substance user who abandoned her family, and now they can HOLD HANDS. LOOK at them holding hands. Isn't TRUE LOVE so beautiful? Aren't we a great writing team? Look how awesome we are."

They did the same thing with Jurati and Rios. Another "relationship" launched after a random sexual encounter that makes literally no sense, with no buildup, no story, and really, no chemistry between the actors (and how could there be when they had no time to build any).

Look, your missing the point. What the writers are doing, is thinking that they can get away with tossing a relationship up on the screen in the laziest way possible. Any TV series where relationships just "start" at random without any explanation or backstory, comes off like the writers are just lazy, or very young, or both. It's tailor-made for a generation of young people who swipe faces on Tinder. "Relationships" appear and disappear at random, depending on the situation. "Stuck on La Sirena for a few weeks? Aw shucks, I guess we should hold hands."

"It's so deep".

Please...it's not.
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brian l
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 2:01am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

It had some nice character moments (finally), but the nail in the coffin for me was the "magic device" which is able to create an entire fleet of ships with warp signatures at precisely the moment the plot requires, to give Picard enough time to give his pep talk to Soji. They literally hinged the entire plot and resolution of the season on a magic device that is hand-waived away. I literally burst into laughter and was done with the show in that moment. It was like the writers were subliminally telling us "just use your imagination, pretend this is a good show, just smile and nod."

I also hate what they did to 7of9. Turning her into a confused old lesbian alcoholic vigilante is just asinine, and worse than that is how the writers cannot even figure out how to use her. They just copy-paste her into the script whenever the plot demands it.

All the build up on the borg cube felt like a waste of time they could've used to develop more important characters.

Retconning in a new Soong at the last minute makes it seem like the writers were desperate.

And finally, the division between synths and humans is academic at this point. Soji is basically a human. And now Picard is a synth. And the real synths are a race of extra-dimensional space worms ala Stephen King's "The Langoliers".

Sorry, I'm just not into it. Give me a show where Seven becomes a house-wife in suburbia with kids and then suddenly gets activated again. Give me a show where Picard becomes a xeno-archaeology professor who is obsessed with returning to the dyson sphere and he drags his graduate students into an epic indiana jones style adventure. Give me a show where ANYTHING, PLEASE ANYTHING happens except a retread of the same old science fiction tropes we've been wearing out for decades now.
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Brian
Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 3:46am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Most of this was terrible with a few very bright moments. Honestly we did not need this much buildup for this. Could have been done in an hour. These characters do not know one another well enough to be best buds the way they are here.

I don't know. I kind of enjoy watching this show (In that "something is better than nothing" way) but it was completely unnecessary to sully the legacy of TNG with this slop. I just sat there not believing they wrote this and made it believing they were making good stuff.
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Brian
Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

@Henson

"We already know that there are godlike aliens in the Trek universe that evolved from “lesser” forms so we know for a fact that organic-synth conflict is not inevitable. Unless the Douwd, Organians, Metrons, Cytherians, etc. just complete anomalies that never developed any AI? And they never bothered to warn any of the less advanced races of the impending synthpocalypse? None of the organics that evolved into energy beings bothered helping other organics avoid it? Were the Organians and Metrons just f’ing with Kirk when they implied that humanity can advance to their level thousands of years in the future?"

Well, there is one more episode to reveal any sort of twist. So far, the Borg are just “there” but they represent a hybrid of synthetic and organic life so they still need to fit in to the overall story somehow besides just conveniently having a Cube for defending the planet.

Plus Commodore Oh. I wonder if she has a long ago past with one Section 31 member named Georgiou.

Anyway, as you brought up the Trek universe has so many “advanced” lifeforms, it’s hard to keep up on all of it. This has to be where Picard gets his mojo back and saves the day. So far there have been fleeting moments but he’s still nowhere near the stature he once was.
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Brian
Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 6:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

At this point, I'm just gonna change my "Wait and see" mindset to "This ain't Trek and this ain't never gonna be Trek and whatever this is, it's also not even good and I'm only gonna keep watching because I've already watched this much of it"

I'm gonna pretend that Patrick Stewart is playing an alternate universe version of Picard where Picard just pops into existence as an old man and doesn't know anything about Star Trek. This Picard also has all the video files of DS9 and Voyager stored in his mind where TNG also doesn't exist. This is mostly Picard taken out of TNG and inserted into everything that came after TNG. Which was also not Star Trek. It was sometimes good and often terrible (Voyager was mostly terrible and ended in exactly the kind of way you'd expect for a show that was a cheap knockoff of Star Trek). At least DS9 was good.

This is Patrick Stewart in space. He barely even knows he used to be Picard. It must be the brain tumor. This show would honestly work just as well without him. Except nobody would be watching it. Which I guess is the only reason he's there.

But hey. This is a show that tried to expand on the idea that Data had to be destroyed because Brent Spiner was tired of playing him. I mean, that's probably what it really was. The idea that androids don't age so he couldn't keep playing him only works if you have the worst writers ever. I guess nobody could think of a plot twist that would make data able to plausibly age. It's not like a Star Trek writer never brought Spock back to life or made alternate universes where Tasha Yar was never killed by an oil slick or anything.

Why don't we just bring Luke Skywalker into the picture now and complete the clusterfuck that is this show?
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Brian L
Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@kukalaka
"Aren’t holograms synths too?"

YES. Thank you for bringing this up. Every time someone brings this up, it gets hand-waived away. STP itself completely ignores this problem. I'd like to explore the idea behind this more.

People forget that the fear of AI and synths is really just a proxy for a generalized fear of technology. The overarching theme in most all "dangers of AI" story is that humans start on a path of self-destruction the moment we begin to transcend our biological niche. Humans have been afraid of the changes we ourselves are undergoing for all of human history. That's why we keep on re-telling this doomsday story to ourselves, over and over again. The idea that our technology will one day destroy us has become cliche to the nth degree.

At its root lies fear, and this is the reason why I object to its use in a Star Trek show. Star Trek has always been a show about defying and resisting fear of the unknown, and fear of the future. The reason Trek resonates so deeply with us, is that deep down we all know the only way to avoid destroying ourselves is to to precisely that--to defy and resist fear while going forward. "To boldly go."

And so the best thing a Star Trek show could do, the most defiant and daring thing, would actually be to show us a future where synthetic organisms are widespread and relatively benevolent. A sort of modern-day "Roddenberry's box" for the writers. No "our own tech kills us" scenarios. You have to come up with something better than that.

If ST:Picard ends up giving us a novel, creative take on this story, for example if they end up having the advanced AI save us from some other threat we never anticipated, or god forbid, ourselves, I'd drop my popcorn and give a standing ovation.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

Trent, thanks for your perfect explanation for "why we still watch" and what we are hoping for. I didn't realize just how much of a "workplace" show Trek can be. It totally is! But it hides it well. Regardless, I think TOS, and then TNG, showed an entire generation of kids how to work together as a team. I imagine that must have some kind of concrete effect in the real world. Unfortunately, in the real world, people are a little less perfect. And in some ways, I think those shows set us up for massive disappointment when dealing with real people. Still, there is real value to those early lessons, and I think Roddenberry knew that.
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Brian
Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 12:36am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

@Captain Jon
we watch because we love Trek and we want it to be good. We are waiting for it to get good. And if we don't feel like it is cutting it, we say so. We have valid reasons for not liking new Trek series. I have given credit where credit is due, for the odd well written episode, but overall in my opinion, nu-Trek suffers from a deplorable over-reliance on exposition, clunky dialogue, questionable plotting and pacing, and a dependence on slowly unfolding mystery box formats. I believe other series have done the "serialized sci-fi drama" format much better, DS9 and BSG to name two, and they did much better from day one. All told, I've only enjoyed about 10% of the Trek that has come out post-Enterprise. Whereas prior to that, I enjoyed over 70% of it.

And here again, you not so subtly imply that we don't like nu-trek because "its not perfect". Here's a tip, don't do that. I'm an intelligent adult, and I don't toss things in the garbage because they aren't perfect.
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Brian
Tue, Mar 10, 2020, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

@MidshipmanNorris

Both Riker AND Troi chastize Picard for not understanding Soji. He doesn't mind that Picard is going about this on his own, but he gave him a word of warning about teenagers. Like Tommy D. said, I'm not sure what's so hard about this.
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Brian
Tue, Mar 10, 2020, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

As far the arrogance thing goes, Riker was calling Picard arrogant in the context of not being ready to deal with a teenager. That's fairly consistent with Picard not being able to handle Wesley or those kids on the Disaster-Enterprise at first too. Sopan Deb of the NY Times is a basketball reporter, so he's not exactly a big Star Trek aficionado like Jammer or Zack Handlen.

"Come on, jammer. Out with the review, I wanna hear your opinion about the best episode since Enterprises fourth season"

He's out there crusading for Daylight Savings Time. Let the man be!
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Brian L
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

I really don't understand why a lot of people who didn't like Discovery, now like Picard. I think Picard feels 99% the same as Discovery and I dislike it for all the same reasons.
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Brian
Fri, Mar 6, 2020, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

@Rez

Did it ever occur to you that if we WANTED to be toxic and negative about Star Trek we'd have never watched enough of Trek to care in the first place? Food for thought might be worthless if you're not hungry, FWIW
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Brian
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

@Chrome

I would not be surprised if every single TNG character gets killed off in this series. They have made it clear they are just using TNG to lure fans of that show into whatever they're trying to accomplish here.
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Brian
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

And so you see, it isn't that the critics of ST Picard WANT to hate it. We WANT to like it. An episode like this one still has glaring problems but it makes up for that with substance. This is what good episodes of Trek have always done. There have always been flaws and plot holes and so forth. And when those things exist with very little of anything of substance to make up for them, an episode feels pointless. How much time do we have to waste in 2020 watching 5 hours of something that did nothing for us on a deeper level and could have probably been condensed down into an hour by better writers? This episode (and to some extent the one before it ) did more than pretty much all the other ones put together. But I guess you could also say that if all the other episodes had been condensed they could have equaled this one.

When writers have too much freedom they start wandering off into areas that are probably better left unexplored. Well, especially writers who don't have the capacity to do that well. We're not asking for the best writers ever. We're asking for writers who know their limits.

This one, I have few complaints about. The guy with the sword is still out of place and that whole character seems like a goofy afterthought. An entire episode was wasted laying the groundwork for a bizarre LOTResque character in a Star Trek show where he doesn't have anything better to do than stay behind to give Picard time to travel at FTL speed through space.

I spent some time thinking about what this show's real problem is and that is too many characters. Well, specifically, they often have too many onscreen at a given time. And often, the unnecessary characters are doing things that just get in the way of what we actually need to see. In TNG, there was no problem with a character like Worf standing in the background quietly doing his Worf thing because he wasn't doing anything that was getting in the way of the story. And he had an easy way into any scene that required him. Elegant. In this show, the guy with the sword just shows up. That's about the most hamfisted (and jolting) and unorganic way to cram more characters into a scene I can imagine.

Hopefully, this marks a turn in this show and future episodes will build on the things they did right here.
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Brian
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: When the Bough Breaks

this episode was poorly conceived, but I didn't hate it.

The scene where they first talk to the "guardian" is eerily familiar to modern viewers, what with our obsession with talking to our phones and computers now. A nice bit of foreshadowing there.

The overall concept is fascinating as well. The particular plot points don't really make sense, but if you just accept that, you can still enjoy the performances. Especially scenes where the main cast adopt mannerisms that they later adjusted or smoothed out, sometimes even acting "out of character" compared to their later performances.

The supporting actress who gives them the tour of the facility early on, is horribly bad. Even the TNG cast, when standing listening to her, can be seen almost snickering, or "smiling and nodding"...a group of superior actors watching someone reading lines like they just joined their middle school play. That was hard to watch.

This is a nice piece of historical TNG and its entertaining on re-watch, despite the plot holes.
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Brian L
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

how come no one is talking about the reveal by RLM that the Icheb torture scene was motivated by a real life situation, where the actor who originally played Icheb made disrespectful comments towards Anthony Rapp when he accused Kevin Spacey of making a move on him years ago?

It actually scares me that STP would perform an onscreen torture/murder for the purposes of a real life political retaliation.
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brian l
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:31am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

@Drea
Manipulation. You can see the change in Soji's demeanor to someone who's aware her partner is manipulating her, staying with him because of that manipulation, and aware of it but also not accepting the full reality of that means. It's subtle, complex, painful to watch, and has me sold on Briones as an actor, if I wasn't already. In the prior episode, Narek straight up uses access to knowledge that matters deeply to her to keep her around. It'd be nice if people broke things off when they became aware of a partner's coercive tactics--but they don't, because that's how relationships driven by deception and coercion work.

@Rahul
Narek and Soji want info from each other but in their last interaction prior to this episode in "Absolute Candor" Soji was upset with/far more suspicious of Narek (after their stupid sliding around the Borg cube) -- so this is why I question why she'd go back to sleeping with him. Thinking rationally about how she'd react going forward, I believe she'd stop sleeping with him. But maybe you know more about "relationships driven by deception and coercion" than I do ;)

@Drea
Yes, as a woman, it's statistically more probable that I have been on the receiving end of a coercive relationship, so that winky face is a little misplaced.

Before I go to my opinion on their relationship, let me state that I don't think your gender has anything to do with how much experience in manipulative relationships you have. Manipulation and coercion flows in both directions, regardless of gender.

In the case of Soji and Narek, it flows both ways as well. There have been multiple scenes where it is clear that Soji is also using Narek for infomation...she has actually grilled him a little bit. I'm fairly certain that Rizzo's fears are legitimate and Soji is the dangerous one here. I think all the protagonists at this point are being played for fools.
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Brian L
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

this is a good episode of ST:P, but IMO not a good piece of art or storytelling. I guess at this point I have to admit that I just don't believe calling Soji a "synth" makes any sense. She is a flesh-and-blood human who experiences the entire range of normal human emotions perfectly well, who just so happens to have a good memory and is pretty strong and good at martial arts.

We are being way too loose with who we label "synths". Data was a synth. It was very obvious that he was not a flesh-and-blood human, but instead a very advanced machine designed to look like one. New-BSG made the same error with the new Cylons. Why do people think its so compelling to be told that a human is in fact "not really" a human, but in fact a "synth". But there isn't anything about them that would suggest that, not even close. It is entirely conceptual and just seems rather inconsequential to me.

"It's like they're a human but in reality they're not, they're a synth!"

Well, what IS that? What does that MEAN? If they are made of flesh and blood, and experience the full array of human emotions, but are just a little stronger and with better memory, then THEY ARE human.

This is why I appreciated when classic trek did the "augments". They didn't try to pretend they weren't human. In fact, that was the whole point, that they WERE human, just modified, broken, augmented, but HUMAN.

I'm just not buying it anymore, the whole narrative of "synths" that are indistinguishable from humanoids, who have ultimate power and can destroy the universe. I'm sorry but the premise to me doesn't make any sense. I know some people find these types of questions compelling, and I can see how it leads to a discussion of what makes us who we are, but for me, it doesn't really do that. At least not anymore. It holds back the narrative and the stories. We are constantly stuck on this beat of "well what is she?" and "what is real?"

Can we just have a show where everyone is real, everyone is alive, and just tell good stories about them? And if there is synthetic life being toyed with, make it...grounded in reality a bit more? Like even Data was a huge stretch for me. A very rewarding stretch, and an essential part of the stories, but his existence was pushing the boundaries of what I could believe in.

I mean, we are machines, biological machines, but we inhabit a physical body with physical processes. We are all "synths". What is Soji? A synthetic synth? Maybe a synthetic synthetic synth. Are her cells constantly flip flopping between being organic and "inorganic"? Would that matter? We're all made of the same elements.

To me that whole trope leads nowhere. Just an infinite regress of "well, what is real?" and then you look outside, feel the sunshine on your face, and admit grimly that that's probably real and maybe you should just go outside and do something good or productive instead of sitting inside moping and ruminating about "what is really real really really?"
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