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Caliburn
Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

The arc that Wesley was originally meant to undergo in this episode becomes a whole lot clearer from some deleted scenes that a collector found on a workprint VHS. The Comments section here doesn't permit direct links, but the deleted scenes can be found on TrekCore.com in two batches, the first posted on May 29, 2013 and the second on June 3, 2013. These workprint VHSes inspired the team at CBS to track down the film elements to include deleted scenes on the later Blu-rays (Season 4 and on), unfortunately too late for Evolution, which so far is one of the episodes that has the most substantial deleted scenes.

When the first batch of Evolution's deleted scenes came out, I was a tad skeptical of the value of the scenes, but once the second batch came out, I realized how several of those scenes were meant to build up to deleted scenes 82-84, which were the original turning point in Wesley's arc.

Michael Piller's comments on Wesley's character growth are also of interest, especially in light of those deleted scenes:

"I had this story about nanites. Once I got to know the scientist and realized who he was, I realized that the scientist is Wesley in forty years, if he stays on the course of being the smart kid who is dedicated to his work and seems not to have much else going on in his life. I said, 'If I use that relationship to get it down to a more human level, I can help Wesley grow. I can help Wesley move into a relationship with a girlfriend.'...That became the key element to Beverley's re-entry into the series, which was, 'My son is not having a normal childhood.' We know a lot of kids like that. I saw that and had a sense that was needed."
--from the book Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, courtesy of Memory-Alpha.org
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Caliburn
Sun, Apr 18, 2010, 8:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: For the Cause

* I love what this episode does for the Sisko/Kasidy Yates relationship. It was already an above-average Trek romance (mainly because the standards there are quite low), but it seems a little deeper now, since we see in Sisko's eyes that he is reflecting on how losing Kasidy Yates will end the family dynamic that is building between himself, Kasidy, and Jake.

* Like Jammer, I do sort of wish that Sisko had confided in Jake what was going on.

* The Eddington defection is abrupt, but I don't personally have any trouble believing it. (Granted, this is my second time watching the episode, but I didn't have a problem with it the first time either.) It seems sufficiently consistent with what little we know of his character at this point, even though this episode declines the opportunity to explain his motives. For example, he's always been all-business, which means nobody really knows anything about his values (as further underlined in the scene in this episode where Eddington ducks O'Brien's question about his opinion on the Maquis). He acts like a poster boy for loyalty to the Federation, which obviously could have turned out to be legitimate, but also makes sense if this attitude was a fairly calculated put-on. Someone who has something to hide is likely to toe the party line more closely than his compatriots.

Also, as Ira Steven Behr points out, Eddington's defection does help explain Eddington's remarks to Sisko about the captain's chair back in The Adversary. I'm not clear on whether that particular subtext was really planned back during The Adversary (as opposed to just making Eddington an effective red herring in The Adversary itself), or whether it just worked out conveniently in hindsight, but either way, it works, and it shows that the writers were playing fair with the past as much as possible, instead of retconning.

I'm not saying the writers shouldn't have provided more foundation than they did; I'm just saying that, for me, the revelation worked.

* I wonder if Jammer would have gone a little easier on this episode if he had known at the time that it was not writing either Kasidy or Eddington out of the show, and that it really would receive follow-up.

* As for Gion's claim (in the Comments above) that "the Federation left [the Maquis], not the other way around": Well, that is the way Cal Hudson (Bernie Casey) made it sound back in DS9's Maquis two-parter when he explained why his sympathies were with the Maquis. But in the TNG episode Journey's End, which showed the birth of the Maquis (albeit through only a single colony), it is pretty clear that that colony decided to give up Federation membership so that it wouldn't have to move out of Cardassian territory. To quote from that episode:

PICARD
Anthwara... I want to make
absolutely sure you understand the
implications of this agreement.
By giving up your status as
Federation citizens... any future
request you or your people make
for assistance from Starfleet will
go unanswered. You will be on
your own... and under Cardassian
jurisdiction.

Yes, the Federation basically gave the colony an ultimatum (to move out of what was now Cardassian space), so some of these people who became the Maquis could very well feel that the Federation abandoned them. But some people in the Federation could also very well feel that the Maquis rejected the Federation, because they gave up their citizenship.

So what Eddington says is just as plausible an interpretation of what happened as Cal Hudson's was. Bear in mind that Ronald D. Moore also wrote Journey's End, which would further increase the likelihood that he would have the events of that episode in mind when he wrote Eddington's speech.

* Funny how so many characters in the DS9 universe (Sisko in The Maquis, the Federation President in Homefront, Eddington here) independently arrive at the same "paradise" moniker for the Federation. Writerliness, much? I blame that on the Homefront/Paradise Lost two-parter (where paradise references ran in such abundance that I grew a little weary of them), moreso than on this episode, but the re-occurence of the word "paradise" in Eddington's speech isn't my favorite touch.

* I like the Borg comparison, though. It's rather a shock on first viewing, and ultimately I don't think the comparison really holds, but it makes sense as a comparison that someone might make. People often make comparisons that are somewhat true, yet over the top. And the fact that the show even raises this question adds to its thoughtfulness.

* Jammer's desire for more info on how the Maquis fit into a changed political landscape might have been somewhat assuaged if the original subplot, which apparently involved the Klingons arming the Maquis with weapons, had been retained, instead of being replaced with the Garak/Ziyal subplot. An interesting what-if...

* For me, this episode would probably warrant 3.5/4 stars, but then, I'm partial to stories that hearken back to the political intrigue of Season Two. I might not go as high as Trek reviewer Tim Lynch's re-grade of 9.5/10, but I'm more in line with Lynch's thinking than with Jammer's here.
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Caliburn
Sat, Mar 13, 2010, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Accession

I think, given the restrictions the writers were under, this came off beautifully. In my ideal version of DS9, this would either have been a two-parter or it would have moved the B-plot to a different episode. That would have allowed more time for complex reactions among Bajorans to the idea of returning to the d'jarras, without taking away time needed to tell the *real* story, which is Sisko beginning to accept his position as Emmisary.

The problem with doing this in reality is that, as I understand it, the studio was opposed to stories about Bajoran internal issues, and especially Bajoran religion, because these stories had not performed well ratings-wise in the past. Therefore, I don't think the studio would have been happy about a two-parter, which would take a story they already had doubts about and stretch it out even longer.

As for moving the B-plot elsewhere, the B-plot serves to give residuals to the actors that aren't used in the A-plot (O'Brien, Bashir, Worf, and Quark) . . . without a B-plot, they would have to be incorporated into the A-plot in some way. That might be workable, but it's tough to imagine how these characters could meaningfully contribute to what Sisko and Kira are going through (unlike, say, Dax and Odo, who have very relevant roles to play for Sisko and Kira, respectively). It is true that these other characters (O'Brien, Bashir, etc.) could give voice to different opinions about the whole d'jarras situation, but I don't think anyone in the viewing audience really wants to see the regulars pass judgment from above on the Bajoran situation, we'd rather see the Bajorans themselves express those different opinions.

In a single-parter, then, with an A and B plot, I really don't think there would be enough time to show significant Bajoran opposition to the d'jarras without the viewer expecting some kind of follow-up and eventual pay-off to that opposition. For just one possible example, more opposition might lead Bajor to the verge of civil war as some posters here are proposing, perhaps with Akorem eventually realizing he needs to back down. If that happened, the story would become in danger of being more about the d'jarras and Akorem than it is about Sisko and his position as Emissary. The limited time of a single episode with a B-plot wouldn't allow both stories to be treated with equal care, in my opinion. The writers chose the right one to treat as more important: Sisko as Emissary. Akorem and the d'jarras are mostly just a plot device to serve the Sisko story, however fascinating a plot device they happened to be.

Hence the "easy" solution of going to the Prophets. Yes, it's too easy a solution to the d'jarras and Akorem, but the real climax of the story begins when Sisko decides that he wants to regain his position as Emissary. From that point on, other sources of conflict have to rapidly
resolve, or else the narrative won't work. The only significant source of conflict that remains is whether Sisko really is the Emissary or
whether Akorem is. Going to the Prophets is the only way to resolve that with certainty, though I'll grant that an uncertain conclusion could have been interesting if it were workable.

As the episode stands, Kira's mixed feelings are meant to be the encapsulation of the mixed feelings of Bajoran society as whole, I think. We also have indications that some people embrace the change (Vedek Porta, Kai Winn--though the latter is probably motivated more by political
considerations than faith-based ones) and some resist it (or else why would the unclean caste Bajoran man have refused to give up his existing
position as a monk?). Thus we do get hints that not everyone on Bajor feels the same about the issue, and most people aren't sure *what* to feel. That's about as much opposition as could be shown, I think, without the viewer beginning to view the opposition as a set-up that requires a pay-off.

So, granted that showing only limited opposition among the Bajorans is expedient from a writing point of view, is it realistic? Maybe not, but if anything, this is where it actually helps that the situation is raised and resolved so quickly. Any longer and I think there would have to be more opposition, for the situation to bear any resemblance to real life. As it is, the short time frame makes it a little more believable that the one conflict we see (the murder) is "just the beginning" as Sisko puts it.

Now, I still think my ideal version of DS9 would be pretty cool--among other things, in my ideal version, Bareil would still be alive, and as the most liberal/progressive Bajoran spiritual leader that we've seen on DS9, he would have made an interesting factor in this plot as someone skeptical about the return to the d'jarras, even if he wasn't willing to openly oppose such a return. But without the added time of a two-parter to make it possible to give closer to equal weight to the d'jarras and the Sisko as Emissary plots, I think the writers did about as good a job as could be hoped. To me, this earns its three and a half stars, and I only wish stories like this didn't have to become so rare in seasons three to seven of DS9.
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Caliburn
Mon, Mar 24, 2008, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Wounded

I'm glad to see more of these TNG reviews. Over the years, it's been fun to compare your thoughts with my own and with those of longtime Trek reviewer Tim Lynch, whose reviews I have also particularly enjoyed. (You guys were my springboards for reflection when watching DS9, and though Tim Lynch is retired as a reviewer, I still hop over here sooner or later after every BSG episode.)

I don't have much to add, but I will say that, like WilliamTheB, I'm a little surprised by your reaction to the ending of The Wounded.

I agree, at least in theory, that the episode would be better if Maxwell were "not so clearly unhinged." (In practice, I wonder if it would have been possible to develop the character in a much more nuanced fashion without taking the focus away from O'Brien where it belongs. As it stands Maxwell ends up being a sympathetic character and that's all the story really needs. If more worked, I'd gladly take it, but I would view it as bonus.)

However, I would have said that precisely because Maxwell comes across as someone who has plunged off the deep end into crazed warmongering, the twist that his suspicions of the Cardassians do have some foundation actually helps the episode immeasurably for me, rather than feeling counterproductive. It makes this feel less like a morality play and more like a messy, complicated situation. I don't think it's mutually exclusive that Maxwell can react excessively on the grounds of suspicions he reached partly for the wrong reasons, and *still* have it turn out that at the very heart of those suspicions there was a kernel of truth in this instance.

Don't get me wrong, I love a well-done morality play or I wouldn't like episodes like The Drumhead or The First Duty. But there are times when ambiguity hurts a story (something that I think our postmodern sensibilities don't always acknowledge) and times when it helps. I thought The Wounded was one time when the ending ambiguity helped, but I infer from your description of it as "counterproductive", that you thought it was one of the times when it hurt.

I suppose I'm less interested in persuading you otherwise than I am in hearing a little more what made you feel the ending was counterproductive in this case.

Thanks for once again sharing your reflections with us.

-Luke
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