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Charles J
Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

I’d advise strongly against asking Jammer to remove comments. As a long lapsed film critic and former communications manager, I will tell you, no good will come of it. It often backfires. And you have to constantly chase fires for it to be effective even when it does work. I doubt Jammer has time to play whack-a-mole, and turn himself and the site into a target if someone thinks they are being singled out.

At this point, Jammer’s site is an archive unto itself. While some of these comments are problematic (a liberal said problematic, drink!!!), they do shade the conversations. In ten years*, they will provide context when someone wants to find out what fans and naysayers were saying. Good, bad, downright terrible, this IS the type of discourse that’s out there.

*hell, in 10 months someone will come across some post or YouTube video and ask “what was that all about?”

And keep in mind, even if he did boot people, someone else is just going to replace that person eventually.

Oh...and if you haven’t tried it...writing a response, reminding yourself that no good will come of it, then deleting it, is incredibly helpful. I’ve done it many many times. :-)
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Charles J
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

The question isn’t would the data be rare, it’s would it be accessible? And how much would they have to sift through? Is it in a University archive? Does whatever version of a corporation that exist in the future control the information? Even if it is publicly available, one has to imagine that after 400 years, that’s a lot of data to go through.

I honestly thought this was one of the best episodes of the season and the entire series. The smoking plot was fun and this grounded and humanized Gordon more successfully than every other attempt so far.

This also can be read as an examination of parasocial relationships and interactions. Gordon makes a connection with someone he’s never met. He then literally starts a relationship with that person. Then he’s continuously surprised as he learns new details, even though that information was always there. Getting back with the ex. Why she started singing in public.

And as others have pointed out, the simulation, as realistic as it is, is based on what she curated and shared. Was she really the linchpin amongst her friends? How much did she really dislike her job?

Overall, this is a much more insightful look into social media than Majority Rule. More importantly, they finally treated Gordon like a real adult.

The only issue I have is at the end. Not sure why Kelly has to continually explain things that Gordon should be able to recognize on his own. If he was fresh out of the academy I would get it. But, he’s too old to be that slow.
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Charles J
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

* Power struggle, not Power structure...

Amazing how the brain can make mental swaps like that when you're thinking on the fly. #towerofbabelinsteadofjourneytobabel
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Charles J
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

@Gil

"As I stated previously, there was never any indication of a power struggle between Airiam and Control."

Earlier, it's clear that Airiam is starting to suspect that something is wrong with her. She just doesn't know what that is. That's why she asks Tilly to not leave her side at point. It's not implausible that by the time of the fight with Burnham, Airiam is finally aware of what's happening. Armed with that knowledge, she can at least partially fight back. Also, by that point, there's no need for pretense. Control doesn't need to fully take over Airiam. It needs to focus on breaking in more than it does controling Airiam.

Could they've shown Airiam and Control engaged in a power structure? Yes. But, that likely would have made it seem like Pike and Spock were truly being assholes as they pushed Burnham to activate the airlock.

For all we know, that could have written that in and excised it for any number of reasons. From being kinda hokey, to wanting to up the drama, to it just doesn't add enough information to make a difference to the narrative.

Just because it's not on screen doesn't mean it wasn't considered, written, or even filmed.
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Charles J
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

@Gil

1. Tilly is not Airiam. At best, Tilly is interpreting what Airiam has told her. There's nothing in this episode, or the previous ones, that leads us to believe Tilly is an expert in cybernetics, or Airiam specifically.

2. Extending from that, characters have subjective POVs. Without supporting evidence, not everything they say should be taken as objective truth. Unless they are written to be omniscient--and omnipresent--they are just as prone to information gaps and misinterpreting the world around them, including their own experiences, as we would.

3. A challenge of television and film, compared to novels and short stories, is that we aren't privy to what's going on in a character's head. And that's informed by the writing, the actor, the director, and the editor. Collectively, they are creating a performance. If we were to ask each of them if Tilly's line is factual, or is it an emotional interpretation of a fact--or more apt, the emotional interpretation of something she's been told--we'd likely get different answers. Or, they may have all landed on the same one.

4. We see the types of memories Airiam is sorting through to archive earlier in the episode. We're never led to believe that she has to archive her personality or core functions.

5. If Control dumped Airiam's ROM, how is she even functioning? There presumably has to be a base for her to operate. It's not like Control will just happen to have all the code needed to also operate a cybernetic body. And have enough information to fool people into not noticing when Airiam isn't fully in control.

6. We also don't know if Airiam dumped her memories as an act of self preservation. It could have been Control. Allow Airiam to beam over, dump the data, replace the memories when Airiam returns. Attempting to leave no evidence, and possibly continue using Airiam are just plausbile reasons.

Could be a fail safe. For all we know, Airiam swaps out large chunks of data so she can process large data sets. Backing up her archive is an automated process when that happens.

Going back to number 3, it's not always easy to convey motivations, nor is it wise to be explicit about what's motivating every action. One, it just slows scripts down, undercuts the drama, and it leads to exposition hell more often than not. Two, it doesn't make discussions like this possible. The questions a story can raise are just as important/fun as the answers. That isn't a bug, that's a feature.
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Charles J
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 12:41am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

They had checked the video to see if it had been doctored. They would have discovered that bit of trickery. It’s already been established that Section 31 possesses tech far beyond standard issue Star Fleet. There’s little reason to assume the people in the video are fake, only the video itself. Especially if the holograms are radiating heat. Presumably Saru was using the UV spectrum for further confirmation that they were not real.

From our perspective Nhan is dying or dead. There’s never any indication that the crew reacts as if that is what is happening. In fact, the framing purposely obscures Nhan’s display on the Discovery so we never fully see what information is being relayed back. The only text we see says “suit cam offline” and a few numbers below that. She also never says what would happen if she didn’t have her breathing apparatus, only that she needs it. Basically, she passed out and we assumed she had to be dying.
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Charles J
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Ariam was part cybernetic and organic. They joke about that early on. In one of her deleted memories she’s also shown getting something to eat.

They had turned the shields on after the first set of mines attacked them.

They couldn’t use the transporters because the prison made it impossible to scan for lifesigns. They could beam in, but couldn’t beam out till they had taken Control back over.
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Charles J
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

It’s not about realism. It’s about establishing the moral and functional rules of the universe and being consistent with them.

The Orville is all over the map when it comes to ethics and morality. Which is where good drama comes from. But, the rules should give us an idea of what kinds of consequences we should expect. And in The Orville, there aren’t many.

Keyali can be shot by the Kaylon and bounce back up after a single sickbay visit. Ed doesn’t have to actually make a decision, Orrin’s actions will resolve the conflict for him. Isaac can work his post as if the last two episodes never happened. The Union* can switch sides on a dime, and the Krill won’t call them out on it.

* Honestly, the Union trying to win over the Kaylons should be way more of a major obstacle at hand than the actions of one man. From the Krill’s perspective, whose to say the Union isn’t still looking for another culture like the Kaylons they can bring into the Union. What if the Kaylons had joined? Would it would be just for defensive purposes, or would the Union decide they had to go on the offensive? But, that’s par for the course with The Orville. Why raise the stakes based on what’s previously happened, when they can just introduce a new random element.
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Charles J
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

I wouldn’t praise the world building too much. The Krill have been in a third of the episodes so far. Other than the first season episode the Krill, we haven’t learned much more about them. They are still mostly just the primary antagonists established in Old Wounds.

There was an opportunity in this episode to flesh them out and that didn’t happen. Even Orrin’s backstory doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

And every Krill, excluding Teleya has been interchangeable. I couldn’t say if any of the other Krill have been recurring characters. Which is only an issue because they’ve been so heavily featured as a culture. It’s not like they need to be distinct. But, if this show is meant to be aspirational, not making at least one Krill a character we can connect to undermines that goal*. It continues to just make the Krill the inscrutable other. And after 23 episodes, it gets repetitive to say maybe they’ll explore that more in the future.

*Teleya really should have been the character Gordon and Kelly went to. Or, at least tried to contact in Identity. Ed could have even suggested it and someone else could have handwaved that away as being implausible to pull off. However it shook out, some kind of callback to Teleya would have reinforced why Ed letting her go was a vital first step. And the other Krill could have acknowledged that decision played a role in their coming to the Union’s aid and/or continuing to talk afterwards. The Orville definitely replicates TNG’s episodic approach to continuity and arcs. It’s very spotty what the characters remember and act on.
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Charles J
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

I have to question the moral aspiration that’s here. One moment the Union is courting the Kaylons to defend against the Krill. The next, they are using the new Kaylon threat to normalize relations with the Krill.

Ending the decades long conflict between the Union and Krill is a worthy goal. Is using the threat from a third-party the most ethical and sustainable path to achieve that end?

While it’s clear Ed wants to end the bloodshed, it’s not entirely clear if that’s the Union’s primary motivation. As depicted, the Union often comes off as driven more by caution and pragmatism than any set of guiding principles. Is the Union more focused on the balance of power than achieving lasting peace? And what about the Krill? What is driving them besides the Kaylon threat? Their faith? More pragmatism?Is peace with the Kaylon even a goal the Union and Krill could even agree on? Even if it isn’t likely?

This all feels very much like two superpowers who still need to find something deeper and humanitarian that can connect them than mutual survival and existential fear.
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Charles J
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

@Hank

"Yes, sure, we have seen this story before, but which story haven't we seen somewhere before?...so why is everybody surprised when they cover previous Trek?"

My issue is that there is no real point to this version of the story.

Past Prologue clearly establishes several of Kira's arcs and internal conflicts. Reconciling her past as a terrorist and freedom fighter with her present as a member of the Bajoran Militia. Wrestling with her feelings about the Federation and Star Fleet. Having to diplomatically work with same people that oppressed her people.

DS9 will mine these elements for some great stories. And Kira will come full circle when she trains the Cardassians so they can fight for their own freedom, and by extension, the security of all of the Alpha quadrant.

There's none of that level of depth here. We don't really learn much new about Gordon. Nor is it clear that this was setting up a personal journey for him. There didn't even seem to be a direct connection to Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes.

There also isn't much we learn about the dynamics of the Planetary Union either. Kira's unease with the Federation's presence and authority is also a running theme the episode further establishes after the pilot. From Quark to Garak, we'll repeatedly see how ambivalent different cultures feel towards the Federation. Again, that will play out till the end of the series when the Cardassians have to rely on the Federation and the Alpha quadrant alliance for assistance.

Why replicate beat for beat a nearly three decades old episode and not do something truly unique with it? Especially when that episode is arguably just as crucial to setting up DS9 as the pilot itself?

It's also frustrating, because The Orville just did their riff on The Best of Both Worlds. And it looks like they're about to do another episode also inspired by TNG.

The story influences for TNG and DS9 were pulled from all manners of places. Many of the best, or just most memorable, episodes were not drawn from just sci-fi. Classic movies, mythology, short stories, current movies, etc. When The Orville closely redoes Star Trek, and we don't recognize any other allusions, it's weaker for it. Other than inserting overt pop culture references, it's not clear where else The Orville writers are drawing inspiration from.
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Charles J
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

@Spockless

"...but I believe it was be threaded into future episodes.. I do not for second think that Seth will ignore any of those points."

I don't doubt that he won't ignore them. However, the lack of foreshadowing really mutes the dramatic impact. And it's not that they need to immediately answer those questions, nor answer all of them. They just need to raise them. By doing that, it reinforces the gravity of what just happened.

The first 4/5ths of Identity the Union got its ass handed to them. The last fifth makes it feel like they simply got a really good scare. It's like if TNG did TBOBW, then backtracked and did Q Who as a 10 minute coda.

@OTDP

"How did you get from this to "everybody is ready to forgive Isaac"? Don't expect things to just return to normal in the next episode, either.How did you get from this to "everybody is ready to forgive Isaac"? Don't expect things to just return to normal in the next episode, either."

Ready to forgive means exactly that, they are starting the process. The Union wants to drop the hammer on Isaac and Ed opts to show him mercy and try a different route, and the Admiral barely puts up a fight. As, you just quoted, Claire indicates that forgiveness is a possibility in Isaac's future.

We all know that the crew was going to forgive Isaac. It's not like the writers were going to ice him out. This is not that type of show. But, it gives Ed's fight more weight if the Admiral didn't just rollover. Or, even better yet, if Ed had to stand before an entire committee. And if Ed had a true confrontation with Isaac, that would make it clear that everything that happened has had a real effect on him.

"He saved the day in the end not because he was loyal to the Union or to humanity, but because he cared about his friends on the Orville (even though it took him a while to realize this)."

Isaac didn't save the day. He helped save The Orville. The Orville could have been destroyed and the rest of Identity Part 2 continues as is.

"Remember what happened to the Bortus/Klyden relationship after "About a Girl"?"

Yes I do. Nothing really. Primal Urges brings up the events of About a Girl, but that's about it. They spend all of about 5 minutes on it. It's been several episodes, and it doesn't appear that they have had to continue working on their issues. And since Topa is now a seemingly healthy young boy, it makes Bortus's lingering anger appear unfounded. It also renders the events in About a Girl just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

"And even if it doesn't, you can bet your *** that things won't just "go back to normal"."

That's the hope. But, so far, the show hasn't really demonstrated it has the will power to do that. If they do, I'll be pleasantly surprised. If it doesn't, it won't be a shock. Not at all.
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Charles J
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 12:34am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

It's not about classifying the show. It's about understanding what the rules of the universe are. It's about the consequences matching the established stakes and tone of the show.

- At least 30 plus ships in the fleet were destroyed. Presumably thousands were injured and killed.
- Dozens of ships took heavy damage.
- The Krill were already a major Union threat. Now after the attack, the Union is more vulnerable.
- The Kaylon now possess all the knowledge Isaac gained. A Union ship was in fact destroyed when Ed used a code the Kaylon were aware of.
- Dozens of Ed's crew were killed. One right in front of him.
- Claire's kids could have been killed. Her youngest son had to risk his own life to help save the ship.

The last few minutes of the episode blows right through all of this.

- Barely anytime has passed and everyone is ready to forgive Isaac.
- The Admiral just acquiesces to Ed's offer to take responsibility of Isaac. The security of the Union is outweighed by Ed's impassioned speech.
- Whatever impact losing such a large portion of the fleet is glossed over.
- Any disruption recalling the entire fleet created isn't even discussed.
- The opportunity to at least from an alliance with The Krill isn't built up.
- The Kaylon as a future threat is more an assumption because we all know that's just how these types of stories work, than actually something to be explored.
- Most importantly, there's just no time spent letting the gravity of the events settle. If losing any of his crew, or the losses the Union fleet took on, is weighing on Ed, it doesn't matter. Getting Isaac back is the higher priority. Claire's anger at Isaac just evaporates. Because in the moment, Isaac's loss and feelings are more important than Claire's.

The Orville wants to be a drama, but none of the main characters really ever have to pay a real price. I struggle to think of moments* when anything has forced a character to change, or that has fundamentally altered the show. The status quo is always preserved and It works out in the end.

* This is what made Happy Refrain one of the more successful episodes. It's one of the few episodes in which a character really makes a change, and it carries over into future episodes. Yet, they immediately undermined all of that just two episodes later.

Lamar can act a fool, then be promoted a few episodes later. Kelly can disrupt the culture of an entire planet, but it doesn't matter, because they eventually outgrow the religion anyway. Alara can abuse her command and it doesn't effect her career at all. After all they've been through, Bortus and Klyden's marriage is still fine. Now, Isaac can participate in the potential genocide of an entire planet and all will be forgiven in under 10 minutes. Talla can be shot point blank and survive. And Yaphit can escape electrocution, AND learn enough to reactivate Isaac in the process.

At the end of the day, it's not clear there are lines characters can never cross. And death isn't a real threat in this universe.

While The Orville is entertaining, it's not a show in which actions have any meaningful or lasting impact. The show time and time again signals that these events are supposed to be radically altering the lives of these characters. But, there are no stakes. Nothing bad really happens to any of the cast. Which is fine when this show wants to be a comedy. When it wants to be a drama, there have to be consequences. Situations, relationships and characters should change. It at least should feel like the characters really could lose. Otherwise it's all a contrivance.

And please understand, if you enjoy the show, that's fine. I nitpick, yet I'm still watching the show. It's entertaining as sci-fi goes. But, The Orville can't strive to be a drama, when every episode plays by the no consequence rules of a comedy.
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Charles J
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

Predictable as hell. Several moments of cheese. Lots (and I mean lots) of good old fashion Trek Shake. A mix of dodgy SFX* and staging, alongside some competently executed work. MacFarlane’s “dramatic” acting. Main and reoccurring cast enjoying the privilege of plot armor while tons of extras are red shirted. Ty Finn’s man up moment (I legit teared up). The Kaylon’s blanket indictment of all organics as a potential threat because of their history. The convenient lack of Kaylon Bluetooth so they can communicate with each other. Isaac’s betrayal of his people. Everyone spouting battle jargon. Issac’s return thanks to Deus Ex Yaphit.

This was an enjoyable episode for all the above reasons. This was so 90s sci-fi, it almost hurts.

It was also not a game changer. A possible alliance with the Krill was ultimately anticlimactic. As he’s never professed a strong connection to his home planet, Isaac’s longing for Kaylon was more perfunctory sci-if plotting than emotionally stirring. Ed’s plea to the admiral, and Claire’s willingness to start the process to potentially forgive Isaac, while touching, runs counter to the dramatic scale of the episode.
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Charles J
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

@John Harmon

"Why would a technologically advanced society waste their time perpetuating such a charade?"

The oppression of the Kelpiens is systematic. A system that existed long before they had the advanced technology they do now. The question isn't why they would continue to waste their time. It's why would they upend thousands of years of social infrastructure if it's worked out in their favor? Especially one in which the Kelpiens are willing participants?

And as long as the Kelpiens can be controlled, they are not a threat. It's akin to slavery in the Americas. The threat of slave revolts didn't incentivize slaveowners to undo the institution. They reacted by enacting laws and engineering a society that ensured they remained in control.

That's ultimately what underlies this all. The Great Balance may have started out as the Ba'ul protecting themselves. In the end, it became a system that prioritized maintaining power over the Kelpiens over prioritizing the safety of the Ba'ul. Unfortunately, the show does blow right pass this, and it's never properly explored.
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Charles J
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

I critique this show pretty hard. But, this just might be their Riker’s Beard.
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Charles J
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

"And following the indicators, there’s a unmistakable trending away from fidelity to the Trek ethos in favour of the flavour of the month, whereupon today in 2019 the franchise finds itself painted into that same dank, dark, distant corner of the flow chart where sophomoric YA serials on the CW slither and wriggle."

Uhm... for the most part, each of the shows has reflected the time period.

TOS was very much influenced by the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the recognition that Western Europe didn't represent the entire world. The world was fully entering into a period that was post-Colonial and post-Imperialism.

TNG's focus on post scarcity, peace and liberal ideals was a reverse image of the 1980s. With the rise of Reganism and the new conservative movement, the fear of Nuclear war, the economic uncertainty that still lingered after the 1981 to 1982 recession and 1979 energy crisis, and the rising backlash against Civil Rights, TNG's optimism was rooted in our fears and concerns.

DS9 reflected where we were post fall of the Soviet Union. There was an even greater emphasis on the role liberal democracies and liberal institutions play in the world. The world was beginning to more fully understand the impact decades and centuries of Imperial and Colonial rule had on African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries and global politics. Those countries were also wrestling with rebuilding their economies, prioritizing their culture heritage, and becoming active political actors in their own right. And Western Democracies were trying to figure out their roles in all that.

Voyager is arguably the least political of all the shows. Shows and movies shows were still struggling to figure out what exactly defined the period after the Cold War and the Fall of the Soviet Union. How do you tell stories when we no longer have a big bad, or easy to define ideological conflicts? It's not surprising how much Voyager's emphasis on technobable is akin to how in the Pierce Bronson era, the James Bond series increasingly focused on more and more outrageous gadgets. If you look at sci-fi in the 1990s, it's incredibly apolitical. Even the anti-consumerist and corporate messages are mostly toothless. Shows like the X-Files and Babylon 5 were truly among the exceptions, and not the rule.

Enterprise is the most unfocused of all the shows, and that's not by accident. By the time it aired, it really wasn't clear what direction the world was headed in. Putin and oligarchs in the Soviet Union had put to rest the idea that people would automatically embrace capitalism and liberal democracies. Or, that they'd immediately lead to more freedoms. The political divide in the U.S. was even more apparent than it was in the 1990s. If you're on the left, the fear we were going backwards felt all too real. And if you're on the right, it felt like the values that guided this country were being unmoored, and the country might be ill prepared for new threats. Using nation states as the predominant way to define global politics was becoming complicated by all the other actors that now had sway over world events and policy. The founding of the European Union, the role of economic treaties and partnerships, the rise of global terrorism, corporatization, and the growing influence individual parties could have on global conversations and policy, made the world much more complex.

Enterprise, of all the Trek shows, most could have benefited from a brief hiatus before it was conceived and produced. Season 2 might have actually found something unique to say about our world post 9/11. Considering how the Bush administration went to war, the writers might have spent more time focusing on the founding of the Federation and less on Star Fleet.

As for the movies, Wrath of Khan could be read as the Boomers reflecting on the choices they had made in the 1960s. The Genesis device can be read as a commentary on how our technological prowess can both be our salvation, or lead us to do great harm. Star Trek III is revisiting the Cold War conflict that was still very much part of the public consciousness. Star Trek IV's environmental message was of the time. Star Trek VI is very much rooted in the fall of the Soviet Union and Communism. Star Trek 2009 is the start of a film series wrestling with a film industry that is increasingly making films with a global audience in mind. Coming two years after the end of the Iraq war and the start of the Iraqi Insurgency, Star Trek Into Darkness is about the dangers of military jingoism and stoking fears for political purposes.

What in culture and society is Discovery reflecting? We really won't know that for a while and I wouldn't venture to guess. It really takes close to a decade before it becomes clear what any piece of media is really tapping into. Especially as you have to look at what other genre stories were also ruminating on at the same time. What are the themes popping up over and over again.

The idea that Trek has been one continuous, unbroken ethos until DS9, JJ Trek or Enterprise came along is just bunk. For good and bad, every iteration of Trek has been of its time. Star Trek, like the majority of pop culture, is all about the flavors of the month.
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Charles J
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@John Harmon

"I just don't buy it. I can't believe that in the future of interstellar space travel, our history keeping would become so bad that in about one hundred years, nobody remembers what Section 31 is. If it was ever intended to actually exist as an official part of Starfleet, Bashir would have just reacted by saying "I thought they didn't exist anymore" or something like that. The only way I've ever been able to tolerate the idea of Section 31 is by assuming they were rogue extremists."

There is a difference in what is in the historical record, what is accessible, and what is taught. As such, we don't know how much of Section 31's work was ever declassified, or even entered into the official record. We don't know what areas of Star Fleet and Federation history have been focused on over the years.

We also don't know how much of the Federation and Star Fleet have changed in shape and structure. Nor do we even know how many different sections and agencies comprise them.

Take the U.S. as an example. The Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies includes this in it's appendix:

"[T]here is no authoritative list of government agencies. For example, FOIA.gov [maintained by the Department of Justice] lists 78 independent executive agencies and 174 components of the executive departments as units that comply with the Freedom of Information Act requirements imposed on every federal agency. This appears to be on the conservative end of the range of possible agency definitions. The United States Government Manual lists 96 independent executive units and 220 components of the executive departments. An even more inclusive listing comes from USA.gov, which lists 137 independent executive agencies and 268 units in the Cabinet."

If the Federation truly existed, the number of agencies, sub-agencies, and departments would surely number in the 100s. Many of them having changed names, gone defunct, been absorbed, or moved around, several times over the course of 100 plus years.

Although, your point does stand in one respect. Bashir is someone who is interested in spies. As a doctor, he'd be much more familiar with the agencies that intersect with his work on a day to day basis. Yet, as someone who has made spying a hobby, has a relationship with someone like Garak, and has been pulled into different plots, he'd be much more likely to stumble across references to Section 31 than anyone else on the station. Especially if Discovery establishes that they were much more well known than previously established. That's a thread someone like Bashir definitely would have pulled on. Even if it was just to satisfy his curiosity. And, considering how popular spies are, there would be thousands just like him, also pulling on that thread if they came across it.
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Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

Also, none of those Moclans have exhibited non-conforming traits. Either by our standards or theirs. What the Moclans do would be traditionally masculine. Right down to how they express their emotions.

If the Moclans were truly queer, they wouldn’t care if Lokar slept with women. We would see more Moclans that ran the gamut of sexuality and gender expression.
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Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@Slackerinc

I’m a straight cisgendered black man. I’ve also ran and covered LGBT film festivals for several years. People police other people, including people who are queer. I learned that lesson as a programmer and as the person trying to market these events.

But, we are also talking about what the majority of audiences see and know. While many of the folks here have a more expansive definition and personal experience, the general audience will only know the Moclans as gay. Again, lessons learned marketing LGBT events and working with LGBT filmmakers for nearly 15 years.
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Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@Wolfstar (and others)

"When Alara was shown as unprofessional in Command Performance and Firestorm, did anyone write "so, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about women"? No, because Alara represents Alara, not women. Bortus and Klyden do not represent human gay men, they represent Bortus and Klyden and a distinct Moclan culture."

That analogy doesn't holdup.

Two elements about Alara had been made clear by those episodes. One, that she was young and experienced. Two, that her upbringing played a large role in how she sees herself.

So far, we've only spent time with one Moclan couple. While they may not represent gay men, they are members of a society in which all the males are gay. And, as presented in multiple episodes, that society has not come off as being tolerant of any Moclan that isn't male and homosexual.

If another Moclan joins the ship, we'd expect him to be more like Klyden in his attitudes. When another Xelayan joined the ship, we didn't expect her to be like Alara.

While I agree with everyone that the INTENT is to present the Moclans as more than just a gay society, the show hasn't been well balanced in that regard.

Every episode that centers around Bortus and the Moclans has been about gender, sex, or sexuality. Even the Ja'loja is a ceremony that is about a Moclan bodily function. An entire joke was written about what the Moclans can eat, which is nearly anything. As written, what Moclans do with their bodies, and with whom, is a huge component of the show.

We have yet to get an episode in which the central conflict is rooted in other aspects of Moclus. Such as their polluted planet, their industry, their military, or their religion (if MacFarlane would allow them to have one). I'm not even sure we have learned what Moclus thinks of other worlds and cultures.

"Female desire, independence, and agency is completely suffocated."

We have not seen that on screen.

For one, Bortus and Klyden seem to have no issues with the women on The Orville. In this episode, Klyden doesn't confront Talla, he only confronts Lokar. When Klyden thanks Talla for freeing him, there doesn't appear to be any latent animosity towards her. Even in episodes like All the World is Birthday Cake, Bortus is in a coed bunkhouse, and he doesn't say a thing about it (IIRC...correct me if I'm wrong on that).

We've only met one female Moclan, and we don't even know what happens to her after About a Girl. In fact, we really don't know what happens to any females that are later discovered, that's if any have been. The gender change seems to be pervasive enough that Bortus still believes females are only born very 75 years. Even though he's married to someone who was born female, and his child was born female.

@Quincy

Now why I think Talla is the wrong choice of character to follow is illustrated by the elements that make The Outcast a much stronger and successful episode in comparison.

First, we see Soren struggling with her identity from the start. She's asking questions and searching for perspectives that she can't find within her society. We're with her journey from asking, to taking a huge risk and starting a relationship with Riker, through to when we see her after she's forcibly been changed.

Second, we see Riker develop feelings for Soren. Then when she's put on trial, we watch as Riker tries to take the blame to protect her. After that, he struggles with his options. Ultimately, he, along with Worf, decides to risk his career to save Soren. Then he's confronted with the horrific truth, it's too late. She's undergone the procedure.

By episode's end, you feel for Soren and Riker because they both lost. Soren way more than Riker in the grand scheme. Yet, neither walks away unscathed.

Dramatically, Talla doesn't go through much. There's nothing at risk for her. It's not like if she does or doesn't solve the murder her career is over. She demonstrates time and time again that she's good at her job.

It's not like her actions will have any effect on the relations with Moclus.

Telling every Moclan she runs into that they are wrong for their beliefs won't have any meaningful effect.

She doesn't even pay much of a price for turning Lokar in. The only reason she has to turn him in is because an innocent man's life is on the line. However, it's because of Lokar that she had to make the choice she did. He framed another person, and he was the one that decided to turn himself in.

And, they didn't even have a relationship. They danced and kissed, and then he faked his death.

What is she risking?

Compare that to Bortus and Lokar. They both start the episode with things they can lose.

Bortus knows the truth about Lokar. Having that type of information, and not acting on it, could create trouble for him. If Klyden finds out, that could create a rift. Having an old flame come back into his life, secret aside, is potentially disruptive.

As for Lokar, he has a secret that he doesn't want revealed. He also doesn't even know if Bortus knows the truth. If it gets out, his career and life are over.

For Klyden, an old flame showing up could potentially introduce problems. After the events of Primal Urges, this could reignite the issues he and Bortus were having. When he learns the truth about Lokar, Lokar is even more an existential threat to Klyden. He's violating the mores, and laws, of Moclus. Something he fought hard to adhere to in About a Girl.

Unless you take the time to put in the work, the main characters rarely take on any of the same level of risks as the guest characters.

Also, as it often is, we rarely get to understand the true depths of what a guest character is experiencing once the credits roll. After the episode is over, their story is over as well. The main characters rarely ever revisit what has happened. Whatever pain they experienced is temporary. It's not like we often see characters in stories like this reapplying the lessons they learned. They don't have to. And when they do, it's easy, because they can just move on.

By extension, it's easy for the audience to learn important lessons. Yet, never have to really wrestle with how they have to apply those ideas afterwards. That's really the hard part.

I'm not asking shows to do that. That's not really my ultimate concern. But, too often there are people who simply learn the lesson of "don't be racist" or "don't be homophobic." Yet, don't realize that means more than not using the n-word or a gay slur. When a coworker really needs you, what do you do? If your boss says or does something, do you personally take a risk, or do you just put your head down and not say anything. If you adopt a kid who needs your help, how do you deal with some of these issues when they happen on a weekly basis?

Again. I'm not asking shows to impart these nuggets of wisdom.

However, when we pat a character on the back for doing the bare minimum, I'm not going to join in. Nor, am I going to think in 2019 that's anything extra special. Especially since other shows have already been saying and going the bare minimum since at least the 1960s. And now there are shows that are doing multi-episode arcs and have leads that are exploring these same issues.

Forgive me for the long posts. I pop when I can, so sometimes I'm trying to catchup on all the things have been discussed...and I'm also a long-winded asshole.
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Charles J
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@Dave in MN

The Xelayans don’t have an aversion to just the military. They don’t think highly of the Planetary Union AND the militarized arm of the PU.

Even if you excise the military portions, it’s been fairly clear that wouldn’t change Xelayans opinion about the PU.

They also haven’t shown much interest in affairs off world.

They are isolationist, not big on a liberal (poly sci definition) institution like the PU, and they are anti-military. Some political scientists would think they are very much conservatives.
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Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@SmallKiwi

"Also, how can you not understand that the moclans are not coded as homosexual? Theyre literally homosexual. Monosexual. They're coded as conservative."

A large number of the cultures in The Orville exhibit some version of conservatism. The Orville taps this well so often it's what each culture is conservative about that matters.

Politically, the Xelayan stance on the Planetary Union and aversion to the military fits some schools of conservative thought. They'd be right at home debating if the U.S. should have get into WWII or not. The Krill are religiously conservative and militarized. The aliens in Mad Idolatry and If the Stars Should Appear are also uber-religious. All the World is Birthday Cake and Majority Rule are critiques of conservatively strict judicial and social structures.

In the case of the Moclans, like they Krill they are militarized. So it's their mores around gender, sexuality and bodily functions that further defines their conservatism.

Being male and homonormative are the two most important aspects of Moclan society. This entire episode centered around a male Moclan being attracted to a female. They are by definition homosexual.

Not sure why this is a point that needs to be debated. *insert shrug and a smirk*
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Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@Dave in MN

A) Nope. Do not care IF they use metaphors or not. Do not care WHAT metaphors they use. As long as how they use those metaphors don't contradict the message they are trying to send I'm all good.

See the criticism of Netflix's Bright. Using the discrimination against Orcs as an analogue for racism wasn't the problem. It was that the Orcs were an amalgamation of racist and gang stereotypes that was the issue. On top of that, the rest of the world has a legit reason to be concerned in Bright. The Orcs once sided with the bad guy. Reverse the analogy, and it just reaffirms the idea that maybe people have legitimate reasons to be scared of black and Latinx peoples.

B) Nope. I only criticize shows that say humans have eliminated prejudice on Earth, then never acknowledge when those characters are being prejudiced against other species and lifeforms. Or, in some cases, still exhibit some form of prejudice and bias against other humans.

See the Federation's treatment of genetically engineered people. There are a lot of prejudicial assumptions embedded in their language and policies. Even though it's been hundreds of years since the Eugenic wars.

C) Nope. I have issues with how The Orville explores bigotry and bias. The writers too often rely on stereotypes, and the easiest takes on issues. That often means, as they are sending one message that's positive, they are sending another that can be problematic.

Topa is an example. Changing Topa's sex is supposed to be a big deal. Bortus and most of the crew were not happy with the results. It violated the basic principles of the Planetary Union.

Yet, why is it a big deal? Klyden was born female. He doesn't seem to be suffering. So far, Topa isn't illustrating any ill effects from having his sex changed to male. Now that their son is old enough to talk and attend school, Bortus shows no concern that their decision may still have consequences.

One of the unintended messages the show is implying, is that medically unnecessary reassignment surgeries don't create lasting psychological and physical harm. It's obvious that's not the goal. Yet, that is the message they are sending.

Am not looking for the writers to tell the story in a "traditional way". What I hope is the writers will a demonstrate a deeper understanding of the stories they are telling, and the climate they are telling those stories in.

Nor, do I need the characters or cultures to be perfect. What I want is The Orville to explore the flaws in society and cultures with more nuance than if they are misguided, then they also must be harmful. Or, the entire society and culture must be bad because of a few flaws. And, when they explore the flaws within the characters, I'd like them to do that with empathy and compassion.

"I see a proud gay culture that is reknown throughout the galaxy for technological achievement, a culture so strong the Union has made them an ally. I see a culture with an appreciation for high literature and art, where relationships are built upon love and children are raised with care, where parents (*gasp*) can even be annoyed with each other and have relationship issues like straight people."

You are reading a lot into the show.

We've seen one Moclan couple for any extended period of time, Bortus and Klyden. The majority of the time they've been on screen, they've either been at loggerheads, or it's Klyden snipping at Bortus, or Bortus being passive aggressive. The amount of time we've seen them at odds, even if it's just jokingly, greatly out weighs the times we've seen them being loving. Even Primal Urges and Deflectors establishes that healthy communication is not a large part of Moclan culture. You stab your mate if you want a divorce. If you want to breakup, you extract a tooth and give it your boyfriend.

The bitchy nature of Bortus and Klyden's relationship, and the forcing of their child to be male, just plays right into the stereotype of the aggressive, predatory gay. As presented, they literally don't express "feelings" like the rest of us.

We've seen one Moclan child. And Topa's had all of maybe five minutes of screen time. We can only infer that he's healthy because the show hasn't indicated differently. There's also no evidence of how exactly Moclan children are raised.

Do we know why the Union needs the Moclans as allies. Is it economic? Is it for strength? Is it for diplomatic reasons? Ed never says why they are allies in this episode IIRC.

And, if there's such a high regard for Moclan culture, why do so many of the characters, including the Planetary Union, seem to know so little about them?

At the end of the episode, Ed says, "You know, the more I learn about the Moclans, the more I see that our differences go right to the core of our values...how long can an alliance with a culture like that last."

That has troubling implications when what we've been given steers into the stereotypes as often as the writers want to debunk them. The Moclans, as presented, are gay. It's an all male society. They don't reproduce asexually. They are not hermaphrodites. This episode, a male Moclan had a heterosexual attraction for a female, and it was considered unnatural.

Replace Moclan with homosexual, and what Ed says sounds too much like something a bigoted politician would say. "You know, the more I learn about the Homosexuals, the more I see that our differences go right to the core of our values...how long can an alliance with a culture like that last."

Again. I do NOT think MacFarlane and the writers are bigots. What's happening, is that like all of us, they have blindspots. They have unconscious biases that aren't always easy to notice. And, sometimes, even as we strive to do good each and everyday, we repeat some behaviors and thought patterns that can be damaging. It takes effort, and many, many people working together to take note of them, and to challenge them.
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Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

@Jack

"It’s 2019. You can talk directly about bigotry, sexuality and gender — you don’t need clunky metaphors."

Couldn't agree more. This episode has multiple problems. All amplified by how easy it is to enjoy this episode, without further examination, because the messages are well intended.

The first is the pov for this story. It should be Bortus, not Talla. Talla's not Moclan. She wasn't raised Moclan. As an outsider, with nothing to lose or gain, she shouldn't be the episode's center. She doesn't know what it would be like for any Moclan to be ostracized by their own people. It's not her experience.

When she outs Lokar, that's crossing a line that shouldn't have been. It was not her right to reveal that bit of information. On a personal level, that's a violation. On a macro one, she has no idea what the consequences will be. It would be like someone outing a friend at work. Even in today's world, that friend could lose their job. Or, their family could find out and that puts them in a position they were not prepared for.

While her heart is in the right place, she can't lecture Klyden. He was born female. His child was born female. As such, he understands what it's like to live a life that adheres to Moclan norms. Unlike Talla, he knows what's at risk.

Is he being a bigot? Yes. Is it moral cowardice for Klyden to act the way he does in this episode? Well, that's all dependent on your vantage point. He could be putting his family in harm's way if he doesn't admit what he knows about Lokar. Social change often requires physical risks and sacrifices. It's not an easy process that's self-evident.

And the show has yet to ask several obvious questions surrounding Klyden and Topa. Are they actually comfortable with their current gender? Have they experienced body dysmorphia? Have they been additionally altered so that they wouldn't have those feelings? What will happen if Topa says he thinks he's female? That he doesn't feel comfortable in his own body?

Which leads one to wonder if Klyden fiercely protects the status quo because he is insulating himself from criticism and questions. Or even worse fates if he and his family aren't considered to be model Moclans. Was Klyden programmed to not question Moclan beliefs so his change in sex would "stick" and he'd express himself as male?

Make Bortus the main character, the episode takes on a new shape. For one, the reveal that Bortus already knew about Lokar adds new shading to the events of About a Girl and Primal Urges. He was demonstrating how much he's motivated by love, and capable of accepting people as they are, long before About a Girl. It illustrates that he was always capable of defying Moclan society if it meant protecting and respecting the rights of the individual.

Bortus and Klyden could continue the conversations that should have followed About a Girl and Primal Urges. Bortus can interrogate his and Klyden's beliefs, and dismantle the contradictions and the underlining issues with Moclan culture. And, they can dissect why it's so hard for societies to acknowledge the lasting harm some of their ideas and policies can create. They can dig into issues like body autonomy, personal rights, and a child's right to health.

At one point, Bortus says that Moclan culture is the reason they survived living on a harsh planet. It implies that the Moclan's may have altered their own species. Was that intentional by the writers to hint at a future reveal? Is Bortus just parroting what he's been taught?

The Orville continues to treat sex and gender as being one in the same. They are not. It's much more nuanced and complex than a simple one to one.

As an example, it would have been an interesting wrinkle if Moclan culture expects all Moclan's to be male, but they are more forgiving of an individuals sexuality. That no one "cares" as long as you eventually mate with another Moclan male (would they care if a Moclan dates a male of another species?).

Bortus's matter-of-fact response to Topa that relationships are what happens before the egg, is funny. But, it's also problematic, as its telling Topa that relationships are only valid if it leads to kids. What kind of scene would we have gotten if Brutus had said relationships can lead to an egg, but not always. Would Klyden have agreed? Would he have blown up?

We could have seen that there is gender-fluid expression among Moclans. While they are expected to all be born male, they aren't all expected to express traditionally masculine traits.

The writers seem to have no interest in exploring any of these questions with any greater depth. Not because they are unfeeling monsters, or stupid, or lazy.

But, because they are already starting from a perspective that these issues are easy to understand. That supporting LGBTQ+ people instantly makes you more enlightened and progressive than those who don't. Yet, being progressive does not make one automatically more enlightened. Progressives and liberals can act just as inhumanly as someone who is conservative. They can hold and express the same problematic norms as others, just in ways that aren't instantly noticeable.

Two more things. Lokar's willingness to frame Klyden adds an extra level of ick. Gay and lesbians being portrayed as lacking in morals is a very old trope. By making heterosexuality an allegory for homosexuality, the writers are just reaffirming a dangerous stereotype.

Lokar could have easily just faked his death without implicating Klyden. Especially as he doesn't know if Klyden wouldn't be more likely to reveal the truth about Lokar's sexuality as a defense. If Lokar was dead, what motivation would Klyden have to out him? And, if Lokar wasn't murdered, Talla wouldn't have a reason to bring up his sexuality either. They'd be looking for a cause of death, not a motivation for murder.

When the little girl asks what's wrong with Lokar's head, she doesn't even ask Talla the same question The girl never acknowledges Talla existence. Lokar is the only one of the two that she asks "who are you". Either Lokar stood out because he's black, or Talla didn't instantly standout because she presents as white first, and alien second. The writers, director and actors seem to be unaware of the racial implications of that scene. It's a replica of 1940s New York. It's a bit disconcerting that moment goes by and isn't commented on.

And before someone suggest it. That scene being some kind of subtle comment on the themes of the episode doesn't fit. While there are intersections and they can influence each other, racism and homophobia are not interchangeable. I'm black. I can't out myself. Being black doesn't dictate who I love, or how I identify.

If there was supposed to be a connection, that connection belies a fundamental understanding of what POC and LGBTQ+ experience. Or, how and where those experiences intersect.
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