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Darren
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 12:41am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

This was a solid and enthralling episode ... to me, among the better this season, and perhaps even overall. Ed's remark to the effect of "your friend couldn't have shown up at a worse time" really made me wonder, for a good duration of the episode, whether Orrin was actually a Krill (who somehow got past the health exam), or perhaps just someone who, as a captive for so long, had become attached / loyal to their thoughts and goals. And as to what the end objective would've been in such a case? I don't know ... but then you usually *never* know in the early parts of a story what the endgame is, at least when a mysterious plot is underway. In short, it kept me guessing.

The sense that something wasn't quite right--and that time was running out to figure things out--was palpable. And given weight, no less, by the fact that two friends, reunited after one had endured years of abuse, were increasingly becoming at odds with one another. Feeling conflicts of loyalty between two or more others--and even with yourself--is definitely not fun. And it became clearer and clearer that Gordon would have some tough choices to make.

Speaking of that, compared to his "serious" portrayal in "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes", here, Gordon truly came off as a serious character for once. And honestly, everyone has their own personality ... there *are* people in the real world who don't come off all that serious; yet it doesn't mean inside, they aren't grounded, or in conflict, or feeling things that aren't otherwise apparent. Which is to say, other than "he's just part of the shows comic relief", I can further accept Gordon's characterization as valid. This time, we just happened to see a little deeper inside ... and as viewers, it was refreshing.

The resolution of the mystery felt quite reasonable. Again, I found myself wondering throughout whether Orrin *had* in fact destroyed the Krill ships, and, if so, just how. And that, for instance, none of the quantum plasma was missing; that regardless of suspicions or bad feelings, no one could really pin anything down *against* Orrin.

It genuinely came off as a mystery / puzzle. And while some might say that his "daughter" actually being an alien with easily-weaponized blood was a little convenient, honestly, as, in-universe, few had heard of Envalls, it instead came off as, for Orrin, a brilliant strategy. You couldn't help but feel some hope, actually, that he would ultimately succeed in his quest, even if you largely agreed that peace with the Krill was worth pursuing, and that Orrin therefore had to be stopped.

And as to the end .... I've found myself thinking about Gordon and Orrin's final exchange, as akin to that between a friend about to commit suicide, and a friend that would obviously not want them to go through with it. For they have some inkling at least as to the pain and hurt involved; yet naturally do not want to lose someone they care about.

Perhaps ultimately, this episode was mostly a tragedy ... of one person's losses, to the point they couldn't move on--and had nothing left to live for--as everyone around them, including their best friend, left them behind simply by seeking progress. As someone upstream mentioned, yes, Gordon *could've* saved Orrin by just stunning him and getting him into a suit.

Would there be practical challenges to that? Yes. Time was short, after all, and getting someone essentially knocked out into a space suit probably wouldn't be done quickly. And besides, in real life, sometimes people don't think of all the options that others might later scrutinize.

Yet I think as I saw it--and have since articulated to myself--having had even his friend Gordon betray him / place his loyalties elsewhere, aside from years spent with the Krill and having lost his wife and daughter; seeing the very real prospect of peace between the Union and the Krill; and, of course, seeing his last hope and plan come unravelled; at that final moment, he had nothing left to live for.

So while Gordon still cared for him and said he didn't want to lose him, aside from probably feeling some guilt for his role in it all ... perhaps he was like a real-life friend who ultimately wouldn't stop their friend from committing suicide, precisely because they cared so much, and knew what all they were dealing with / what prospects they had for the future.

And maybe, in fact, as I think about it even more, rather than being akin to a situation with one friend about to commit suicide ... perhaps Orrin *did* commit suicide. (In a second degree sort of way, in that he hadn't planned it. Just that in that moment, it was what he set out to do.) And Gordon, despite wanting to see him saved, was simply not going to force that upon him. He wanted Orrin to come with him and save himself; but short of that, he cared too much and had too much respect for him to make that choice *for* him. And so with that final glance back ... he left Orrin to his own choice.

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Well. I've at least skimmed through most of the comments, I think; has anyone else framed the final scene between Gordon and Orrin as a case of one person committing suicide, and the other respecting that decision? I think it's very valid; and points in that case to the episode for not being a mere passive plot mechanic (Gordon couldn't save his friend), but an active character choice (Gordon knew of his friend's pain and bleak future prospects and so chose to leave him to his decision to stay behind and die).

And this probably gives the episode a lot more cohesive focus. The story wasn't so much about the Krill and the Union, which we presume will come later. It was about the tragedy of one friend relative to another, as that other and everyone else moved on to a reality utterly distasteful to the friend.

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And a few more stray observations ...

* The scene with Talla having thrown the Envall against the wall was quite good. Between her laying against the wall with that look upon her face, and then Dr. Finn urgently and seemingly in a panic telling Talla they had to get away from her and out of there ... it was actually evocative of some paranormal moment, as though it were a demon or some other such thing over there. Good stuff.

* The Union's consideration of turning Orrin over to the Krill may or may not have been morally right or good; but then the admirals and other higher-ups were often quasi-villains in Star Trek. And speaking of Starfleet, remember when they wanted to take Data's daughter away from him? Or when they questioned Data's personhood directly? Or when they assisted Section 31 in murdering that Romulan senator, I believe it was? (With Admiral Ross and Dr. Bashier?) Not to mention Capt. Sisko himself--the protagonist no less--once getting at least two people killed and deceptively bringing an entire power into a war. So again, I'm not saying the notion of handing Orrin over was right, or that it wasn't. But if it reeked of desperation ... indeed the situation is desperate. Or in other words ... why get so out of shape over it?
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Darren
Mon, Mar 4, 2019, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

This seemed to me to be a very rare case of a part II being better than the first, and even therefore improving upon the entirety of the episode. While nothing was truly surprising or shocking and, in a way, everything was kind of reset, really, it wasn't. Especially as The Orville *does* maintain some continuity across episodes and seasons. Isaac's actions will not be entirely forgotten (I presume); and, certainly, the relationship between the Kaylon and the Union is now very different, plus even that of the Union and the Krill.

And amazingly (for I didn't imagine it possible), Isaac's ambiguity of how much he "feels" or not has been restored. (And without any revelations of him being reprogrammed or any other such simple possibility.) That captivating sense of Dr. Finn et al. trying to believe in him feeling--yet against the reality he almost certainly doesn't--is back. For instance, did he save Ty because he cares about him, per se? Or merely because it became logical to him to do so? (But if so, logical how, precisely?) Or when he told Ty to tell Dr. Finn he was sorry .... If not from emotion, then why exactly did he find it worthwhile to have Ty relate this to her?

I also immensely prefer the concept of the Kaylon builders enslaving the Kaylon--over which they revolted and killed them all--to some notion of being superior / needing space or whatnot. I had said before for an artificial race that criticizes biologicals' urges to reproduce and such, any need to expand their society to such an extent seemed odd. But to secure their freedom and just treatment--and then to fear (fear? ....) bad treatment by other biologicals out there--albeit still cliche, it just seems so much better story-wise. (I guess because, say, genocidal robots that are so strictly by nature are, perhaps, a narrative dead end. Even with the Borg--which Q once described, I believe, as a "force of nature"--though a great villain, TNG soon, with the notion of Hugh and a drone away from the Collective, put the focus more on individuality and personal motive. Of course, First Contact and Voyager went much farther even in this regard.)

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Lastly, I again found myself contemplating the nature of AI and life in general. For instance, the Kaylon weren't really acting logically, it seems, in deciding to eradicate all life on Earth. And Isaac seemed to recognize that, while no one else did or could. If the Kaylon are truly without emotion ... then why was that? (And why did Kaylon Primary perceive sympathy in Isaac more than once, which Isaac insisted as a Kaylon, he couldn't have?)

In the framework of evolution and natural selection, animals have emotions because they serve a purpose. And nowadays, scientists don't like to say animals have any emotions, but Darwin himself presumably never doubted it, because it makes sense. To me, especially without language and higher logic and such, feelings help animals relate to one another, and to their environment. (Not to mention that emotions wouldn't presumably have just suddenly emerged in us humans either. There's a lineage, as with everything else.)

But if AI didn't have emotions, could they still have something that would serve an equivalent purpose? For instance, did the mistreatment of the Kaylon by their builders leave a permanent "emotional" scar on them, such that they became fixated with eradicating all biologicals? That is, conditioned their algorithms, say, in a way that precluded them from acting "logically" toward the biologicals?

Maybe so. (And indeed, even with biological life, the distinction between emotions and instinct is another discussion to have. Even biologicals, it seems, have a "programming" that operates from a far deeper place than higher thought, logic, or any other such thing.)

As well though, I've mentioned before the sheer complexity of human intelligence. Of a brain that physically develops for years on end; a mind that's shaped by early experiences most especially, but forever by certain experiences; and so on. The notion of a being and a mind that can simply be switched on is actually rather hard to fathom. A mind is just more complicated than that.

And so, could it be the Kaylon too are shaped by their experiences, and their minds can further develop in time? Perhaps Isaac in particular, even, if not with emotions already, is well on his way to gaining them ... because he's spent so much time around emotional biologicals; perhaps even his "youth", as it were. For no mind is static and unchanging ... whether it's a biological mind, or an artificial one.

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Well, I may be borderline rambling here, and have other things to do besides. But in short, this episode brought back what made Isaac more captivating in "A Happy Refrain", and leaves a lot to contemplate. (And I do think too it makes Isaac more distinct as a character. He was said to be like Data; but by now, he seems to have a distinct ... identity ... than Data; a Cylon; or any other AI being. He isn't striving to be more human; he isn't trying to reclaim humanity or such (a la Seven of Nine); he perhaps isn't fixed and unchanging mentally ....

He's simply becoming his own unique being, exceeding, likely, even his fellow Kaylon. (I guess you could say in that, he's a bit like the Doctor, who it was always said had exceeded his original programming. But even he was meant to be human, whereas Isaac isn't. And because, unlike the Doctor, he wasn't constructed to be more human or such, there's no obvious point to which he's changing to. He is unique, and will become even more so as time goes on.)
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Darren
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

Curiously, I must admit upon my first and so far only viewing, I found this episode somewhat ... lacking. Certainly not as engaging as TBOBW (which I saw not on first airing, but later on in re-runs).

I think in part, I had other ideas for the Kaylon than the common notion that, as artificial beings, they would seek to destroy biological ones. Given that they condemn biologicals, for instance, for having urges to reproduce ... why are they so focused on expanding on a societal scale? Hardly even all human groups have been so concerned with expansion and conquest / eradication. And furthermore, given how superior they view themselves as, just as humans don't find it logical to drive lower animals to extinction (maybe mosquitoes or such ... though there's always a balance of ecosystems and such to consider) ... why wouldn't the Kaylon perhaps find a logical place for humans and other biologicals?

And ... it's probably impossible to truly fathom how emotionless beings would operate and relate. And granted, artificials, as creations of biologicals, would presumably have something of their creators within them. Yet even so ... artificials wouldn't have that evolutionary history, that drive, to survive and expand ... would they? (Unless, as it's occurred to me, that way to create AI is not to outright build from scratch, but to somehow set evolution and natural selection in motion from far more primitive AI.)

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Anyway ... I suspect I had other ideas for the Kaylon (like just operating with indifference in a "higher" sphere of influence), than this common sci-fi route.

And, I don't see the cliffhanger as being particularly engaging either, at least ostensibly. After all ... is Earth *really* at risk of being destroyed? It's population being eradicated? I hardly think so.

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But, on the other hand ... I *do* have to say I honestly can't tell how the whole situation is going to resolve. And in *that* respect, the cliffhanger is actually quite good. (Because that's the trick, isn't it? Not to pose a yes-or-no situation that has an obvious answer ... but instead to create a status quo-shakeup with no obvious and entirely satisfactory resolution.)

Is all a simulation (probably to test Isaac rather than the crew ... perhaps to exile him? Out of indifference to humans and such, to rid their society of him? Though why couldn't they just indeed disassemble him? ...)? Was Isaac reprogrammed, but will come back to his original self somehow and save everyone? Will he be killed, and the other Kaylon somehow thwarted, for now? Will he live; the Kaylon thwarted for now; and continue as a villain?

Or ... might he come to reconsider the logic and impossibility of coexistence with humans and other biologicals, and convince his people to stop the attack? (After all, he always *did* insist he was studying them ... that watching over Marcus and Ty was a great opportunity for study ... that dating Dr. Finn was a great opportunity ... and so on and so on. Maybe he'll conclude that further study is warranted.)

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Well, that's about all for now. I do have to say though too, I think this turn of events provides a chance to re-evaluate some things from prior episodes. Like in "Into the Fold", when Isaac suggests vaporizing Marcus and Ty (saying that on Kaylon, a unit is simply shut down or disassembled when not behaving right). Given The Orville's status as a partial comedy at least, this sort of line came off as just for comedic purposes--a punchline of sorts--but not necessarily great insight into Kaylon society. But now ... it seems that to Isaac, killing Marcus and Ty right then and there was a reasonable and logical thing to do. For it seems on Kaylon-1, people are created on a whim, perhaps, and just as soon destroyed when their purpose ends.

Or, in "Primal Urges", when he insists it would be logical to save the most intelligent of the society ... to which Bortus, of course, said that despite being a primitive biological, he was glad he wasn't like Isaac. (Though this latter example *did* seem much more serious and believable from Isaac than the former one, right from the start.)

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In any case ... there remain interesting and good possibilities for where this all might lead. I'm a bit apprehensive that the resolution won't quite hold up ... as Trek in general has always struggled with. But who knows? Maybe it'll be something so unanticipated yet satisfying that we'll all cheer it and find it great.

For that, I certainly hope.
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Darren
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 1:36am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: A Happy Refrain

This was a truly wonderful episode--to me, somewhere around "Home" as the best this season, and perhaps best overall. (Though with the diverse stories and styles / genres The Orville presents, singling out any single "best" episode is inherently tough.)

As Dr. Finn realizes her feelings for Isaac and contemplates whether, as a non-feeling machine, a relationship could ever possibly amount to anything ... we the audience yearn with her. From the earliest moments of perhaps unintended sincerity from Isaac (like bringing her the banana), we recognise what Dr. Finn sees as "adorable" in Isaac (supplemented, of course, by their prior exchanges). And as she so clearly hopes and yearns for meaning going forward ... we so do too alongside her. Yet even knowing, as she knows, that in all logic, Isaac simply does not and could never care for her as she might him--his mission objective to study biological lifeforms and the Orville crew in particular not even considered.

As someone upthread suggested, it just makes for an endearing episode virtually all the way through (something for which the music greatly helped too, including no less a full symphony orchestra in-show). The back-and-forth of it all even; like Isaac deleting his knowledge of Dr. Finn in response to her concerns, or simulating a human body for her. And the ending was quite charming too--goofy, perhaps, but oh-so-sincere ... right???

Of course, the ending was a bit ambiguous. Did Isaac just reconsider about his study? Did he decide that to continue functioning well with the biological crew, he had to respond to their own emotional reactions about his "decoupling" with Dr. Finn? Or ... did he actually learn something about himself and grow as a person ... something he would never have considered possible before? (Bortus' line "I am glad I am not like you"--or whatever it precisely was in "Primal Urges"--hints, perhaps, at some character growth Isaac needs to complete, at least so long as he associates with the Orville crew. Perhaps here ... we *see* a bit of that growth.)

And with that, interesting philosophical concepts come up naturally. For instance, to us, emotions are so very natural and intuitive that do not often consider what actually goes on neurologically. But as Data once explained about his friendship with Geordi, pathways in his neural net became used to his presence, such that without him, an absence was detected. I actually seem to recall reading once, that the feeling of emotions perhaps comes second to certain changes in the brain.

So, in other words ... are emotions based on underlying neurology (or, indeed, circuitry), such that even without *feeling* anything, reactions and such to events and others are nonetheless handled? And, indeed, would this not *have* to be the case, for a purely logical being to ever co-exist with emotional beings? (After all, like Janeway once told Tuvok--in "Prime Factors", I believe--one can use logic to justify anything. Meaning that no actions or societal functioning are even potentially restricted, if being "logical" about it is all there is.)

For that matter, serial killers, for instance, presumably feel little emotion, empathy for others most significantly. And, of course, they murder people with absolutely no remorse or regard. And contrary to the notion that anyone and everything, say, with antisocial personality disorder is or will become such a person, no, people with said personality disorder can be safe and productive members of society. It is just that, as an account I once read said, the range of emotions felt is indeed quite limited, and one has to learn how to mimic basic behavior like smiling at appropriate times even, for it does *not* come naturally, *at all*.

(Though with us humans, it is important to recognise as well that we *do* have underlying instincts, "programmed" over millions of years. From the perspective of artificial lifeforms then, it could be that for us, certain "higher" emotions balance those "primitive" instincts, whereas for an artificial species, no "balancing" would be needed. So no emotions would not be so inherently detrimental.)

Incidentally, I have never understood why shows like TNG and The Orville claim that artificial lifeforms cannot have emotions; or popular opinion at large. (Well, to be fair, TNG never showed they could not; just that it was presumably much harder to program.) After all, at the quantum level, is not even a human brain just protons, electrons, and neutrons? Just like even the most inanimate of things? It seems it is all about the configuration. By current science and knowledge ... in theory, a thinking, emotional, yet artificial being is *entirely* possible. Such a being *can*--in theory then--be created and exist. (Perhaps some early sci-fi work established the "rule" that artificial life is necessarily emotionless? Or maybe from when virtually all the population in the Western world believed that humans were created by a higher power, the very idea of humans creating a sentient being in turn was just seen--being an equivalent, almost, to God's work--as something fully impossible?)

(Though I *do* think it is much, much harder to do than some futurists think. In "Dead Stop", T'Pol names the neocortex as the most sophisticated and powerful computer known--or something to that effect. And indeed, just think about how malleable the human brain is; how the distinction between hardware and software is so very, very blurred. Or how a brain, as with the whole body, gradually develops cell-by-cell. Or how simple things like physical touch are so important early on to proper mental development, followed by a many-year process of further development in tandem with varied experiences. Sort of like how people can imagine cloning as a way to bring loved ones back. Yet with the exception of very young children, who someone was was just as much a product of their life's experiences, as their genetics. As cloning can only reproduce genetics ... it *cannot* bring a person back just as they were. Not really even close.

Well, point being, the only known example of what we at least think of as a fully-sentient being is so incredibly complicated that duplicating it with technology seems almost impossible, indeed ... while finding an alternative way seems unfathomable. And personally ... I think creating a new sentient species is *quite* the responsibility ... one we simply have no business carrying out.)

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Anyway .... I referred to Isaac as "bland" in another thread. Which I do not think I mean as a knock against the actor or such, but still. Maybe in part, it is because, unlike Data even, Isaac just speaks so flatly and monotonically, that a mere robot is indeed what he comes off like. And, has he not generally been used for comedy throughout the series so far? Most often for humorous remarks or responses? One of my concerns with The Orville--even as much as I like it--is how it can sometimes be too lightweight ... as, for instance, by not taking a more serious and dramatic angle on Isaac and his interactions with the crew.

But here, at last ... we got an Isaac-centered episode that, indeed, took a serious look not only at him as a character, but in terms of his interactions with the crew to boot. One where, for once, he is vulnerable, and even relies on advice from the "inferior biological lifeforms". And ... maybe even grows as a character and actually learns something truly new.

I mean, I never *disliked* Isaac. I *did* use the word "bland". But here, in just one episode, I find myself caring more for Isaac as a character than ever before. And, some of the more serious takes I have longed for seem as though they may have been teased, and therefore could be on the horizon. (For instance, information on Isaac's species and home planet, and its precise interactions with or intentions toward other civilizations. While Isaac *does* seem quite earnest in his stated objective to study behavior ... for what true purpose? Dr. Finn seems to think it is so the Kaylon (or Kaylons?) might one day join the Union. But, is that all ... or even correct? And who created the Kaylon, and what became of them? And, do the Kaylon interact within a "higher" sphere of influence with other highly-advanced civilizations, like the Calivon?

Those have all seemed like fertile and interesting ways to go ... yet until now, Isaac has always been presented for more comedy (and, granted, intelligent problem-solving) than anything truly serious or dramatic. So now ... I look forward to what we might yet see.
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Darren
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:56am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes

I've generally only felt lukewarm about this episode, although as I've prepared to comment here, I think I've found myself finding more merit to it than I otherwise felt.

The big problem to me is that, to the extent it provides commentary / allegory, it doesn't really have anything to say. Which is to say, in terms of any suggestions for handling and resolving real-world religious tensions, what does it provide?

If Ed and Teleya had gotten into discussions of what the Ankana says / interpretations of it, perhaps we'd have gotten somewhere. (Even just in the very discussions--that people of different faiths can engage in dialogue, and maybe, just maybe, find some common ground.) In fact, when you consider that in 1800s America, some Christians fully endorsed slavery while others vehemently opposed it (or even how I read somewhere that recently, 50% of Christians opposed gay marriage over their faith, while the other 50% advocated it over that same faith), you can immediately see how even people of the same faith can come to support radically different positions. (And I guess, consider how many Muslims live in Western society alongside people of all faiths and are quite content with it, while a minority of others become extremists who would love to see all of the West die and be gone.)

If nothing else, for instance, Ed could've pointed out that even accepting Avis as a perfect being with the Ankana being a perfect text, if Krill are rather *imperfect* creations, how could they *not* fail to understand a one true perfect interpretation of the Ankana? So then, maybe beliefs like only Krill have souls, or other beings may be killed even at will in accordance with Avis' wishes, are arguably--possibly--not correct? (Presuming, though, that the Krill do not see themselves as perfect creations of Avis. Their belief system seems much more similar to our own Abrahamic faiths than not; and of course, such faiths are very clear that humans are flawed ... by a long-ago bad choice, I guess, but still. But maybe in the Krill's belief system, Krill are indeed perfect and essentially divine. I don't think we've been supplied the answer. (And for that matter, as an aside, I find myself wondering, does Zoroastrianism see people as flawed, at least as other monotheistic faiths do? Zoroastrians believe in the same supreme being as Jews, Samaritans, Christians, Muslims, Bahá’ís, and such ... though it's a rather old faith, and as such, may not share as many stories and content with the later faiths.))

Anyway ... as it is, we heard only again that solely the Krill, basically, have a right to exist, and all Ed really contributed was the pragmatic point that, hey, every species has to find out one day that they're not alone in the universe, and then, they have to react. They can either become much more fanatical or seek common ground, and, in the Union and Krill's case, eventually destroy one another, or find peace.

And, well ... again, to me, that just doesn't amount to much useful commentary at all on the issues facing religion in the world today. And so ... in this way, "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" falls flat.

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That said though, it seems The Orville hardly if ever ceases to be pleasant to watch. That Ed and Teleya had any comparatively-peaceful discussions at all was yet another example of the civility and just general niceness that often permeates the series. And their prior romantic involvement--even though predicated on a great deception--added an element to it all that just made it, say, even touching to watch unfold. (The little gestures of trust, for instance, between them at points. Teleya could've just knocked him out or perhaps even shot him, not least of all when he was challenging her views--such as he did. And Ed could indeed have left her to die in the cave, or--had he *really* wanted to be cruel--have taken his jacket off of her once out in the sun. But instead, they trusted one another just enough along the way to get to safety. Though I *do* wonder ... surely Teleya realized that if *Ed* contacted anyone, it would be the Union, and so she would be taken prisoner again. So, unless she just feared death or capture by the Chak'tal more ... I wonder if in real life, she would've so readily allowed him to contact anyone. She might've preferred for *no one* to be contacted--and to die--than otherwise.)

And as for the end .... It's interesting to think that Ed and Teleya, these great enemies, actually now do share a romantic history. And while it's interesting to ponder how much impact this had on Ed's decision to release her (and not even fear immediate attack by the Krill ship once she was safely aboard) ... that decision itself may bear more fruit than otherwise apparent. (Though I *do* think Ed was *very* foolish to tell her of the Union's decoy code policy. Now all Krill will know of it, potentially further endangering many Union officers' lives and well-being in the future.)

For before, even though Ed explained that he and Gordon only murdered the bulk of her ship's crew because they had no other option to save the colony, from her viewpoint of humans not even having souls--not to mention the death of her brother even--it was very easy to dismiss, and see him as the plain and simple villain. Now though, she--and others--have seen that, indeed, when the stakes weren't such, he did *not* resort to any such action; and, in fact, even went to far as to have her call a ship to pick her up. She might wonder, would a being with no soul have even remotely done such a thing? And maybe his role in murdering her crew really *was* something he only felt compelled to do, but that he *did* indeed regret.

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Well, both us viewers and the characters themselves can hope. And hope is what many of us in our real lives need. So kudos to the episode here. And in retrospect, I do have to say that at least for some things it didn't cover, the door is wide open for follow-up later this season, or next. (Including with the Chak'tal. It was very clear to me at least that the Union indeed had no knowledge of them, and simple plot point or not, we could certainly stand to learn more about them in future. And, while Teleya characterized them as aggressive and relentless, it occurs to me, we don't know that. Not even considering that they fired on to them an unknown species, but one appearing to them as being allied with the Krill. Maybe they're generally quite peaceful and such, only when faced with a species like the Krill who openly declare such superiority that only *they* have souls, and *all* the universe is for them, they--only then--show no mercy in fighting back. Meaning among themselves and other neighboring species and groups, maybe they coexist and cooperate quite nicely. It's just they're not as forgiving as the Union, and so have absolutely zero tolerance for a group like the Krill. I mean, it just seems to me that as a group that'll murder an entire colony with no remorse, for the Krill to deem hostile forces to *them* as aggressive and relentless seems a bit hypocritical or such, and a very biased and filtered view besides. (Really, the Krill could stand to compare-and-contrast the Union versus the Chak'tal's reactions to them, and see tolerance versus not in action.)

Lastly, as for the Gordon sub-plot, it was certainly okay. It added a bit of depth to him as a character ... to think that maybe he harbors some deep-seated insecurities, but might be on his way to confronting and resolving them. And Kelly, of course, was truly shown to be quite a competent leader along the way. Her portrayal as a mentor almost even was absolutely stellar, and better than Gordon's part in it even. (For I too am a bit unsure what his "I'm a pilot" line *really* means. Surely it wasn't an instantaneous absolution of all insecurity or doubt--though the episode almost seems to want us to see it as such. In that way, it somehow doesn't quite seem to work.)
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Darren
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 1:37am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

@ SlackerInc: Fair enough. This certainly isn't the place for a full and proper discussion of the issue. While the stories of "About a Girl" and "Primal Urges" *do* evoke it, even so, it's obviously a sensitive matter to really go into detail about. (Besides, with the Internet, anyone who's further interested can find and read all the different perspectives and arguments they want elsewhere.)

@ Booming: But thanks for the discussion. I feel we both kept it civil, and in the process, a valid perspective on these episodes was brought to light. (Again, one thing I certainly say was good about them was precisely that different viewers can read into them differently. And maybe, in part, to the extents and which ways we each do determines how affecting we found them to be.)

@ Charles J said:

"While it can be argued that a captain stealing a shuttle to spy on his wife and her date is comedy, it cannot be argued that it exemplifies an enlightened and more optimistic future. Not unless you really wouldn’t mind your boss driving around peaking in your windows.

Considering that stalking in real life is a crime, and often escalates into some form of domestic violence, it’s not a healthy behavior we should condone. Nor is stalking something we should aspire to."

@ Dave in MN said:

"I'd rather watch flawed characters I can identify with & relate to than walking paragons of virtue."

Indeed. In fact YouTube was cycling through videos related to DSC and "The Orville" in the background yesterday, and in one, the point was made that good drama comes from heroes being so in spite of their own flaws. (Although oddly, I don't find the Orville crew to be *too* terribly flawed, and nor did I find DSC's characters overly virtuous.)

Take Ed's spying. Yes, it wasn't right, and in real life, would be just as wrong and could lead to things far worse. Yet I feel confident enough in Ed as a character that I don't fear for him indeed progressing to outright stalking. And indeed, that the season is presumably going to show him coming to terms with Kelly's new love interest is precisely the optimism that I feel generally pervades "The Orville".

I mean, I can easily think of so many moments so far that were really uplifting and even inspiring. Something as simple as when Gordon took the time to introduce himself to John (unless it was the other way around ... but same difference), for instance. Or Bortus' sentiments that he still loved Klyden / maybe could never forgive him yet is fortunate to be with him. Or that whole resolution to "If Should the Stars Appear", which, whether by intention or not, to me at least, strongly evoked thoughts of real-life scenarios where people have been abused or neglected or such-or otherwise "trapped" in some situation--but are then given a new lease on life as it were.

"Majority Rule" ended quite nicely as well, with the barista starting to engage again with the "voting" device, but instead then just shutting it off. And even Ed and Kelly's relationship, generally, has been depicted as one of mutual respect. (Obviously, not 100%; but overall.) I mean, former spouses effectively and pleasantly working together in the two highest positions on the ship is really quite something, right? Or even in "Krill", whereby Ed was clearly pained for what they had to do to the people on the ship.

So despite the character flaws, overall, I still find "The Orville" to indeed be optimistic, and uplifting. DSC (which I stopped watching halfway through season one) *did* have it's nice moments. (Michael advocating for and ultimately releasing the tardigrade was one; I seem to recall something with Tilly; and I think something with Sarek.) But then there was, say, Tyler and Lorca leaving Mudd to rot on the Klingon ship, irregardless of his crimes. Or Michael being the only one as I recall who really paid attention to and cared about the tardigrade. Or Lorca (mirror-Lorca) effectively raping Cornwell (insofar as she believed him to be a different man, when in reality not only was he not, but further had no affection or emotional caring for her whatsoever and just preyed on an opportunity). You'd think dialogue could've addressed the severe violation and crime that took place; yet as I recall (and granted, I guess I was aware of this all through YouTube clips and discussions by that point), other than something from Cornwell like "Based on what that universe is like, my Gabriel is gone", absolutely in no way was it recognized. (At least Kelly confronted Ed about his flyby; and didn't he apologize? Granted I saw the episode just over a week ago and should remember; but didn't he? The bad behavior was addressed.)
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Darren
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 2:50am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

@ Booming: There can be no doubt that female genital mutilation is indeed far, far worse than male circumcision. By any of many criteria, be it the sheer effects; the motivations; the expertise / credentials of the people carrying out the procedures; the environmental / sanitary conditions under which the procedures are done; and so on. And in that way, it could be said that the two aren't terribly comparable.

And yet, the fact that "FGM is far more severe and therefore not comparable" (generalized paraphrase; not specifically what you said) can be said, belies nonetheless an indisputable similarity: that *any* medically unnecessary alteration to a child's genitals, no matter what form, how severe, or indeed, on girls, boys, or intersex individuals, is still, well, an unneeded alteration / destruction of natural form and healthy tissue. One which the individual may grow up to resent / not agree with, only by then, it's long been far too late. Can we really set standards for what's too extreme or severe, and what else is okay?

Consider a murder versus a mugging. To be murdered is far, far worse than to be mugged. One's very life is taken, and all who cared for and depended on said person forever lose them. Compared to being held at gunpoint, say, and having money and credit cards taken is so much lesser that, indeed, legally even, it's quite a different level of crime. And yet, we don't disregard muggings because they're not too akin to murder. We don't want arbitrary standards of what's significantly bad; we just want a lawful society where all are safe and protected.

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@ [Everyone]: It's to the credit of "Primal Urges" and "About a Girl" that they have inspired discussions on everything from intersex and trans issues to FGM and circumcision even. Even though the episodes themselves, technically, concern none of these matters. In general, it's one sign of a good story if it speaks to different people in different ways. And for Trek (or Trek-esque), well, Vic Mignogna, the visionary behind Star Trek Continues, once said that a good Star Trek story doesn't tell you what to think, but rather *makes* you think. And while the episodes do seem to want us to side with Bortus, still, enough respect is given to Klyden and the Moclans in general that we can still empathize with them.

And, as impressed as I was that at the end of "About a Girl", Bortus said that no matter the disagreement, Klyden was still his mate and he loved him, here again in "Primal Urges", we have that same sentiment, basically: he may never be able to forgive him for not sparing Topa from the procedure, yet he is still fortunate to have them both in his life. In a world of so much division and isolationism, it's just .... optimistic ... to see characters who struggle with deeply-held personal feelings in conflict, yet come through it all still striving to remain close. (But, the question now is, will Topa ever learn of what was done to him? And how will *he* react to it? Presuming this plot line will continue, this is, of course, a very logical further step to explore.)

In any case, this episode was stellar. It seemed to embody much of what made "About a Girl" good--but without some of the flaws it had--while nonetheless featuring good original content. And to me at least, it substantially contributed to Bortus as a character. I seem to recall having read that, in general, this season will more deeply explore all the characters. If episodes like "Primal Urges" are the result, I think this season will be quite good. (Then, in a third season especially, maybe we could continue with more world-building beyond the ship and crew. Probably my biggest complaint about "The Orville" would be that it can feel too lightweight at times, and maybe a bit too "confined". The humor and such can coexist with deep explorations of the characters that really make us feel for them; and, there's an entire universe to expand upon and explore. For one, I remain very interested in Isaac's reason for serving on the Orville. Is it *really* merely to observe the interactions of the crew? Is he there purely of his own volition, or perhaps at the direction of his government? Either way, what practical gain, if any, does he hope to achieve via his observations? How does he compare to other members of his species? In what ways do the Kaylons interact with and affect the Planetary Union, the Krill, and such, and given their technological superiority, are they alone in that? Or is there at least one other species / civilization that more directly compares to them? I feel there is a *lot* or potential with Isaac ... except so far, he has remained a somewhat bland and insubstantial character. And I mean, given "The Orville" isn't "Babylon 5" or technically even Star Trek, I'm probably imagining a level of complexity it simply won't reach. Still though ... expansions on Isaac and his people are, for one, very welcome.)
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Darren
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

Booming said:

"There is [...] no real issue when it comes to genital mutilation in the West at least. We are against it."

Perhaps this is not quite correct in one case, and quite wrong in another. (With all do respect to Booming. I only mention Booming so that the source of the quote is known, in case anyone is interested in the surrounding discussion.) Female genital mutilation is of course very largely condemned, although that does not mean it is 100% absent in Western society / never illegally carried out in private homes. (Small point here really for our purposes ... yet while I do not have numbers or statistics at hand, however rare it may be, it is worth realizing.)

Otherwise though, male circumcision continues to be a highly controversial matter. (Not adult men choosing circumcision for themselves so much; in fact, there is probably more controversy around adult women choosing elective genital procedures for themselves than adult men choosing circumcision. But circumcision of infant and young boys, yes.) Some people and groups are at least okay with it or even supportive; yet others are strongly against it. Many men circumcised as children are quite content with it as adults; others are anything from not quite happy to devastated. Among adult men who choose circumcision, some are happy with their choice; others end up regretting it.

And through it all, again, it remains a very controversial issue. So while supporters would not agree with the label "male genital mutilation" as some critics do, still, it is clear: there *is* an issue when it comes to [elective genital procedures on children] in the West. We are *not* all against it. No matter which side a given person takes in the circumcision debate, for instance ... it *is* an issue. And this, too, is worth realizing.
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Darren
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 9:21am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

@ Dick:

"Don't be so sure. After all, they brought Leonard Nimoy back as Spock but sent him back in time to appear in a prequel movie. No reason why they wouldn't do the same with Picard given STD's total disregard for continuity."

Very good and astute point. I too was quick to presume that this new series would take place after TNG / DS9 / VOY ... but who knows? Particularly should the creators wish to tie it in with Discovery is some way (shared universes being so hot right now), well, with sci-fi, practically anything can be done, even if it is not the best idea from a storytelling / quality perspective.

And, in fairness, perhaps a prequel with Picard back in time / in a parallel universe or whatnot could still be decent. (I thought I read somewhere, for instance, that Sir Patrick Stewart himself is involved in developing storylines for the new series, which ought to bode well.) Even if it is not what many people expect or want.

But then again, for anyone in the camp of not liking Discovery much at all, with the same company and creators still behind this new series (and, once again, dwelling on / bringing back something from the glory days of Trek), there may be little room to expect something good. So as exciting as this could otherwise be, for a lot of fans, this is merely something of potential interest to keep an eye on.
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Darren
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 7:12am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

wolfstar: "Regardless of people's opinions, positive or negative, I think we need to have a rule on these comment threads that no-one tells anyone else to "stop watching" (let alone in all caps)."

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi: "'If you don't watch the actual show every week, you can't say anything' is the mantra."

I agree. (Well, not with having an actual codified rule, but with everyone striving not to tell others to stop watching.) And, I think that should be extended to not telling anyone they *have* to watch either.

You know, presuming people don't change their screen names, you know who authored a post before you even start reading. If you know you generally don't like a certain poster's content, then simply skip over it. Right? Or, if a particular post isn't going in a direction you appreciate, then just skip it. (Like not eating a chocolate candy ... if you know or else find out upon biting into it that you don't like the flavor / filling.)
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Darren
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 3:34am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Episodes VII and VIII have their moments, and aren't exactly unenjoyable to watch. But what upsets me more is how, taken together, they're making the fabled sequel trilogy play out. Many people dislike the prequels, and I can understand why (even though personally, seeing as I and III are my top two favorites, it might be that I favor the prequels over the originals). But it's difficult to deny that the prequels were distinct from the originals, yet simultaneously integral to the saga as a whole. (Not necessary, granted, but fitting and even enriching--particularly III.)

The sequels so far though (and being two in, I can't see that there's much hope now), to me, are just the opposite: they're informed (copied?) far too heavily by preceding films (the originals), and yet nonetheless manage to come off as supplemental and disconnected. For instance, if you showed someone a space scene from VIII (someone who somehow wasn't aware of the sequels), with the right one, you could probably fool them into thinking they were seeing a deleted scene from VI. Which is to say, if the First Order and the Resistance in VII were already too akin to the Empire and Rebel Alliance from the originals, in VIII, they basically *are* the Empire and Rebel Alliance. So a big thematic chunk once again involves a small, ragtag fleet trying to overcome a great and evil regime. (And visually, the designs of the ships aren't even that distinct.)--

Meanwhile, only some of the characters in VII and VIII seem original (like Finn, arguably Poe, and now Rose). Otherwise (and I imagine this was quite deliberate), Rey is the new Luke; BB-8 is the new R2-D2; Ren is the new Vader; Snoke is the new Sidious; Maz is the new Yoda; and so on. (And of course I get that these characters are not outright copies of the formers, be it in motivations, personalities, backgrounds, or even actions. But they're variations on them, just as if someone was like "hey, the characters in the originals were so great, let's come up with new but similar characters for the new generation of fans".)

So among other examples, the sequels come off as too similar to preceding films; yet they also manage to feel disconnected. For instance, notice how regarding the prequels and the originals, nothing of real significance was mentioned as backstory in the originals that wasn't shown in the prequels. The sequels, in contrast, are partly built upon quite major and, to the characters, quite personal events that happened in-between the originals and the sequels. (Like Han and Leia getting married but then separating; their son falling to the Dark Side; and Luke training a new generation of Jedi, only to have tragedy strike and then go into seclusion such that no one even knows where he is or why precisely he left.) With such new and unseen backstory, what all happened in the originals and prequels practically becomes secondary; but for a nine-part saga, such just shouldn't be the case.

And I have to say as well, a lot of what the sequels give us really "undoes" what came before. I mean, with the sense of absolute victory that we witnessed at the end of VI (and the virgin birth of Anakin and the "Chosen One" prophecy from I and the other prequels), who would have imagined that a few decades later, the Empire and Rebel Alliance would basically be back? That a New Jedi Order would be over after it had barely begun? That Palpatine would in essence be replaced by Snoke? That Han and Leia would be separated ... with Han back to smuggling, and Leia seemingly so sorrowful (and without much, if any, Jedi training)? You could say that this is just my (and others') opinion; but with an ongoing saga that's supposed to move a story forward through distinct themes, to "reset" and "undo" to things that came before just isn't the way to handle it.

Now, having said all that, I hardly think the sequels are all bad. Both VII and VIII so far have had some very nice moments, and I was and remain interested in what becomes of Rey and Ren. (And unlike some--perhaps even many--I didn't object so strongly to Luke's arc in VIII. In particular, I thought his final confrontation with Ren--not so physical, but more psychological--was quite good, what with giving the galaxy hope again and all ... acting to save, rather than destroy and all. And somehow even his death felt okay, and as opposed to sad, strangely fulfilling.)

Yet whenever I think of the complete saga, I imagine it will always be just I - Vi, because to me, the sequels have just copied the preceding films too much (particularly the originals), while simultaneously disconnecting themselves too much (especially from the prequels, but nonetheless from the saga as a whole.)
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Darren
Sun, Nov 19, 2017, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Firestorm

Just so everyone knows: (1) The next episode will be on Nov. 30, a *week* from this Thursday, not *this* Thursday (presumably due to the Thanksgiving holiday); and (2) This first season was recently reduced from 13 episodes to 12, with the now "extra" episode going to the second season instead. (Which of the 13 episodes they chose to move--and precisely why-- isn't clear. Though The Orville isn't serialized, I'm still hoping that the reduction and move won't disrupt anything.)
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Darren
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 7:43am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Cupid's Dagger

@ Alexandrea:

"So all those times of our playing Yaphit's sexual harassment of Finn for laughs was buildup so that we could play Finn having sex with him while drugged for laughs?"

Perhaps not (though I have no info to the contrary, just some speculations). I've actually been wondering whether, by season's end, Yaphit is going to (sincerely) apologize to Dr. Finn about his behavior towards her.

Honestly, up to this episode, I really wasn't sure what the Yaphit / Dr. Finn "arc" was really going for. Was it indeed meant to be funny? (As Yaphit is a gelatinous creature, I wondered if perhaps he wasn't even meant to be taken as a serious, "real person" character.) And did it imply that in the Orville-verse, sexual harassment is accepted?

But between this episode now and the real-life Weinsteins and Cosbys and Spaceys and such, I can picture something different. It's worth noting that whereas Cosby drugged and raped women; Weinstein leveraged his power to force "consent"; and Spacey groped and otherwise inappropriately handled men; Yaphit did none of these such things. Rather, he repeatedly pestered Dr. Finn to go out, and, yes, said strongly sexually-suggestive things to her.

What he had been doing was wrong; was indeed harassment; and would be grounds for dismissal from a workplace. But, I'm not sure that that anything he did was ever criminal (by today's standards). Aside from what I outlined above, for instance, he never even threatened her in any way, or made her feel unsafe.

Further, this episode seemed to establish that he loves her, or at least thinks he does. Now, by no means am I implying that unrequited love gives anyone a right to try and pester another into agreeing to a relationship, or consenting to sex. You have to respect others as people--as equals--such that if they are not interested in you, no matter how good your intentions may be--no matter how well you may envision yourself treating them in a life together--you have to accept that a relationship just isn't there. (And might I add with Yaphit's "awful boys of yours" remark, if you're interested in someone with kids, of course you have to accept and care for your potential step-kids as well.)

So Yaphit has indeed been harassing Dr. Finn, though perhaps not in a threatening, criminal sort of way ... but he's still indeed been in the wrong, and, he seemingly needs to learn what truly caring about someone is all about. (It should not have taken a threat of reporting on Dr. Finn's part to get him to stop ....)

But now to the rest of this episode. Since Yaphit had absolutely no idea that Dr. Finn was under an influence (he was perplexed as to why she changed her mind about him, and he initiated neither their first kiss, nor the sex), he wasn't guilty of taking advantage of her. Aside from harassing her at the beginning of the episode, in fact he wasn't guilty of anything. But he finally had Dr. Finn presumably caring for and being interested in him ... only to later be shot (stunned, presumably), and finding out that it was all not "real". (A bit of poetic comeuppance?)

Might seeing how different Dr. Finn was under the influence than not help clue him in to the fact that she simply doesn't care for him that way? And given that he never did threaten or assault her, might he feel really, really bad and guilty, that in a sense he had sex with her against her will (even if it genuinely appeared otherwise to him, such that he wasn't himself guilty of anything?)

Hence, Yaphit may have just grown as a character ... and some time in the last four episodes of this season, perhaps he just will offer a truly heartfelt and sincere apology to Dr. Finn for how he had acted and treated her before.

Maybe? And if the "arc" does finish in any way like this, would all those harassment scenes and the arc itself be redeemed?
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Darren
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Majority Rule

My initial impression is, this was very good. I can think of a few criticisms; but overall, it was deeply unsettling in a good way (obviously, the whole "everyone votes, ill-informed" thing), and I suspect that as allegory, it's just specific enough so as to be clear, yet a bit open to interpretation, and without feeling forced. (Within minutes, for instance, I was thinking about people who have committed suicide over cyber-bullying through Facebook and other such sites, which is presumably why I started finding it to be unsettling.)

And one really cool thing was, I suspect all those "alien" tie knots are real. Which is to say, of course most people do the standard Windsor and Four-in-Hand and whatnot. However in recent years, various "unorthodox" knots have indeed been devised (many of which are tied using the narrow end of the tie--hence the possibilities for unusually artistic knots).

Unfortunately, it's been way too long since I was last looking up these knots to instantly and readily recognize specific ones. Nonetheless, again, I was delighted to see such knots being used, and, of course for anyone who may be interested, YouTube is a great source for information and how-to-ties and whatnot. (From what I recall, the Trinity and the Eldredge Knots are somewhat standard and good "intros" for these types of knots .... Without looking back, I've been trying to find what I think the Publicity Officer (?) was wearing. It was much like a Vidalia, though there's another one I have in mind that I just can't seem to locate right now.)
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Darren
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

The evidence for Tyler being Voq is so strong that indeed, as @ Dobber said:

"It seems so obvious to me that I think it would actually be more impressive if it turned out that he wasn't."

But then who would it be, if anyone? Someone somewhere (here? YouTube?) suggested Lorca; although if nothing else, with the recent developments concerning Lorca, I would hate for that all to turn out to be for nought (because who we think is Lorca actually isn't). I myself just thought about Mudd today, if only because he was on the Klingon ship, and we know he turns up on Discovery somehow. (Oh, and again I don't recall where I saw it, but, someone mentioned that there was that "out to lunch" person with Lorca and Mudd. I kind of thought that was Tyler--partly because Discovery's dark, "cinematic" visuals occasionally make things unclear--but as someone suggested, perhaps that was the real Tyler. So ... even more evidence for Tyler being Voq.)

But either way (say Tyler is Voq), it does seem he has a new personality. Not only would this indeed be similar to sleeper agents on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, but, it's similar to something from Babylon 5 as well. (Without giving anything away, in the Babylon 5 universe, new personalities can be programmed for people ... and at the right time, assuming said personality was kept hidden, it can be brought forward, destroying the original one in the process.) But I have to wonder ... might Tyler back as Voq still retain any of Tyler's feelings for his crew? Might Voq find himself very conflicted at that time, for which side he is truly on?

Meanwhile, on another topic, I've found myself feeling like, continuity-wise, Discovery works better as a sequel to ENT than as a prequel to TOS. The technology isn't then an issue; the colors and uniforms seem like reasonable progressions; and, the apparent discord within the Federation is more plausible. Although, so far as the Federation discord goes at least ... TOS hinted at it. In "Amok Time", Vulcan came off like any other alien world; Bones--older than the rest of the crew--often made what were really quite racist (specist?) remarks about Spock and Vulcans in general; and, in "Whom Gods Destroy", Kirk--who was of course fairly young--spoke of a time when people like him and Spock weren't yet "brothers" ... before Garth's victory at Axanar, presumably, solidified everything.

But, two things: above all else, the Klingons in Discovery just really, really do not fit with any preexisting continuity ... ENT, TOS, TNG/DS9/VOY or otherwise. And it's not just the looks .... Why is their speech so slow and deliberate? Why, as various others have said, do they speak like they have sand or marbles in their mouths? And as I've been thinking about lately, why is virtually nothing about them familiar? Why, for instance, has their been no gagh? No targs? Why has no one yet said "Qapla'"? I realize the show's creators may want to avoid *too* many such references .... But surely, *something* familiar would be good. Discovery's Klingons just do *not* seem like Klingons.

And second, the novel "Desperate Hours" apparently explains that Starfleet had ships like the Shenzhou and the Enterprise in service at the same time ... which wouldn't be so unreasonable if the technology differential wasn't so great. (Further, only officers on Constitution-class ships wore uniforms as seen on "The Cage".) I'm not even sure if the books are canonical anyway ... not to mention that many fans will never read them.

But suppose Discovery would feature a Constitution-class ship onscreen? Perhaps they could even have Lorca or whonot request to be holographically-projected there, only to be reminded, to his annoyance, that Constitution-class ships don't use that technology. Although the differences in technology would still seem absurd, at least canonically--onscreen--the reality of the discrepancies would be acknowledged.

And for that matter ... it's come to bother me a little that on DS9, we never got to see the Enterprise-E or any of the crew during the Dominion War (and nor, of course, did "Insurrection" feature the Enterprise in the Dominion War.) And now, it's bothering me a bit that, presumably, we'll never get to see the Enterprise with Pike and Spock during (or even after) the Klingon War.

So, I for one would love it if Discovery not only showed a Constitution-class ship--true to the Enterprise as seen in "The Cage"--but actually the Enterprise itself. And ... particularly after this episode with Sarek and Michael, I'd love to see Michael and Spock share a conversation as well.
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Darren
Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 7:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

Regarding Lorca, I have to say I'm strongly leaning towards the "he deliberately got the Admiral out of the way" camp. Early in the episode, he expressed considerable skepticism that the peace meeting was truly for peace (and why wouldn't he have? He's a soldier, not a diplomat). Then, after the Admiral essentially said that she was going to do something about him remaining in command, while Michael expressed regret, almost, that the chance for peace couldn't now go forward (without Sarek), Lorca didn't echo this sentiment, at least openly. Rather, he merely said than the Admiral could get there, and that she would very likely want to try. Finally, of course, when news came of her capture, he refused to attempt a rescue without explicit orders, letting that small window of opportunity while she was still in Federation space slip away.

What's so captivating about it though is the ambiguity. Perhaps he *did* take the Admiral's criticisms to heart; perhaps he *did* think the chance for peace was worth it; and, that it might have been a trap for Discovery *was* a valid point. So even if the Admiral's capture brought him same relief in terms of not having to fear for his captaincy, maybe he didn't actually plan for or hadn't actually hoped for it to happen, and maybe he still felt concern for what might become of his friend. We can't tell for sure, and that's pretty captivating.

I do have to say though, this sort of thing concerns me about Discovery. Star Trek has always been something that encouraged people to become better, whether professionally or even personally. Therefore, it was replete with people being selfless and morally upright, typically only disobeying orders or requests or whatnot if it was truly for the betterment (and ideally, minimal harm) of others. Even when dark actions were taken (like Sisko bringing the Romulans into the Dominion War, or Archer and crew stealing the warp coil to continue on to the Xindi), the decisions behind these actions were not treated lightly, and nor did the characters make them without considerable remorse.

Discovery, however, seems to be supplying us with examples of people being immoral for purely self-serving reasons--with no measured contemplation or subsequent regret in sight--and in this, I fear it may not be holding true to what Star Trek has always been.
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Darren
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

Speaking of such things, here's something else I don't recall anyone mentioning (my apologies if someone has): Why did Landry figure she had to chop off one of Ripper's claws? For one, doesn't their technology allow for identifying material simply by scanning? But if not, wouldn't a small slice of a claw have been sufficient, akin to a nail trimming from a person or animal, and therefore not the least bit harmful to Ripper?

And for that matter, once Ripper's navigational role was uncovered, why was the weaponization of her/his claws and hide and such just dropped? Given Lorca's focus in particular on doing anything possible to gain an advantage in the war, that seems very much to be a thread that was simply dropped for no sound reason.
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Darren
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 4:04am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Eric:

"I'm confused about Stamets; I thought he was in a relationship with the guy that died on the sister ship? How did he get over him so quickly and start dating another guy, even living with him?"

I kind of thought at the time too that he was involved with Strahl (?), the guy on the Glenn. However, as they both used the term "friend" at some point (as did Lorca, I believe), presumably, they were only friends.

But might they have been romantically involved at some point in the past? There did seem to be something in their interaction that suggested romantic affection; but, perhaps like Ed and Kelly on The Orville, they remained friends even once that was all over.

(Or, since we all knew Stamets was gay from the beginning, we're just seeing something that isn't / wasn't there between him and Strahl ...)
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Darren
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 3:29am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Choose Your Pain

@ Brian:

"Gay scene--sorry, this is not a judgement, just a preference--I don't think gay belongs in Star Trek. It's just annoying. I know there are people out there who live that way and that's fine. But to force it into my living room because I'm a Star Trek fan is beyond annoying."

But how is it forced? As you say, there *are* gay people, and in general, it's nice for shows and movies to be reflective of all those who watch them. While I'm personally not fond of retcons in order to reveal characters as being gay (because then it *does* start to feel forced), with brand new characters, why not?

Not to mention how Star Trek sort of pioneered showing diversity. Frankly, considering how much public opinion in the US, for instance, has shifted in favor of marriage equality and such, it's a little late for a Star Trek show to be including gay characters as it is.

"Consider the fact that the risky, challenging part of portraying a real relationship, the evolution of it within the context of a particular set of characters and society, was completely side-stepped. We have a gay couple just copy-pasted into the show, as if some executive said "just put a gay couple in there." It is the absolute laziest, cheapest way to do it possible."

It *is* interesting to see how a relationship comes together and evolves, but so too I would say, can it be to see how one is sustained and nurtured, most especially during such trying times as the Discovery crew is facing. And presumably, of course, in Discovery's time, a gay couple is no more attention-getting than a black comm officer, so the fact that it's apparently being played so low-key is quite correct.

---------

But for those of you who watch The Orville, here's a good question. While Discovery has a gay couple and therefore a same-sex couple, Orville only has a same-sex couple (Bortus and Klyden are from a species of virtually all males, so a gay / straight distinction there doesn't really make sense).

Which show did better in terms of having a same-sex couple on the show? In Discovery's favor is that it's an actual gay couple--human at that--while in Orville's favor it's that it's instead a same-sex couple that's more allegorical for a gay human couple. Some would say Discovery, because they went ahead, in a low-key manner, and scripted an actual gay couple. But then considering how being gay can't be discerned on sight (unlike ethnicity, for instance), and how there *is* still resistance to gay people on TV, some would say Orville, because by playing it allegorically, they managed to get a same-sex couple onscreen in a way that might avoid raising anyone's ire.

I guess you might summarize it as: Orville: Clever or cop-out? And Discovery: Better or miscalculated?
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Darren
Sat, Oct 14, 2017, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Krill

@ Jammer (and others):

"Why would the lights on the ship even be designed to get bright enough to be lethal to the people living there?"

Certainly the lights wouldn't be designed such that everyday settings existed for extreme brightness, and nor would there be a lack of safeguards, I presume, against some electrical problem causing them to brighten, or else someone accidentally setting them to high brightness.

But we don't know the technology behind the Krill's lighting systems. For instance, traditional incandescent bulbs burn brighter with more current. While home electrical grids impose limits on the amount of current, were it possible to funnel a lot more into the grid, only the breaking of filaments from this excessive current, presumably, would prevent people present from being blinded or otherwise hurt. (Offhand, for comparison, I'm not sure how LED and CFL bulbs and such work.)

So, if the Krill's bulbs are engineered such that more current makes them brighter, and if their nature is such that high current won't break them (at least in the near short-term), it's not implausible that Ed and Gordon could manipulate them to produce such brightness.

It also occurs to me that considering how sunburned Gordon even got, those lights were indeed quite bright for a moment. Might the lighting system function doubly then as a sterilization system? As long as no one was aboard, remote activation of a high brightness setting could theoretically be used to sterilize the ship, I'd imagine. (Perhaps something like the baryon sweeps from TNG and VOY, which likewise were only to be used when no one was around.)

If so, and if the Krill employ their lighting systems in this manner, then the lights *would* be capable of such brightness; the grid *would* be able to handle the current / power; and there *would* be a standard setting for it, albeit one not readily accessible, perhaps.
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Darren
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 3:56am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

@ Peter G:

How Michael surmised Ripper's true nature--and how this then made it possible to use Ripper and the spore drive to save the miners--was the true highlight of this episode. It did the best so far to make Discovery feel like Star Trek, and was really, really uplifting.

On the other hand, the clear implication that Ripper is harmed by the spore drive was rather upsetting, though dramatically-purposeful. Perhaps Discovery, no matter how hopeful or uplifting it ever gets, will always balance that with depressing darkness.

Anyway, I hear your concerns about how no one spoke up for Ripper. But I think there might be a reason for it that doesn't involve the crew simply not caring, or perhaps worse, not even putting any thought or attention to it. Keep in mind that until Burnham and Stamets surmised / deduced Ripper's role in using the spore drive, no one had even the slightest inkling about it.

Furthermore, since Ripper can "communicate" with the spores and can evidently use them to travel about autonomously (or at least I gathered this from the episode), there isn't necessarily a reason to suspect that, as the navigator, the device would hurt Ripper in any way. (Like how riding a horse from place to place doesn't harm it, at least in moderation and with proper hydration and such.)

And finally, while Ripper *did* appear to be in discomfort at least during the jumps, to me, it was really near the end of the episode--when Michael brought Ripper some spores and he / she seemed averse to eating--that it became apparent how much the drive may have affected her / him.

In conclusion then, I don't think that no one on the crew cared or was paying attention to ethical concerns with using Ripper in the drive. Rather, I see it that there was no reason beforehand to anticipate the harm to Ripper, and, that it was really only Michael, after the crisis and the jumps, who saw firm evidence that the drive had indeed harmed Ripper. (Not to mention that given the crisis situation, there was no time for testing or thoughtful speculation. Frankly, the crew were lucky themselves that nothing went seriously wrong.)

So, I tend to feel that so long as the next episode indeed addresses it--ideally with several people on the crew weighing in--there really isn't a problem. But how will it be portrayed? We can only wait and see. (This might be a test of sorts for how Star Trek-y Discovery actually is. Of course, while on past shows protagonists have occasionally committed morally-questionable acts, they've only done so after a lot of somber thought and consideration and guilt. If Discovery lets people get wanton with such acts, well, that won't be good at all, so far as Discovery's status as a Star Trek series is concerned.)
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Darren
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 5:41am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Pria

This seemed like the first episode to focus on the "wrong" parts ... to me at least. (I know some people felt that "About a Girl" was a bit unfocused.) Imagine if the Orville had been taken to the 29th century early on. Then, the crew would've had the chance to experience what the 29th century was really like; the argument that having originally died, they should stay could've been given more attention; and their decisions to flee and return to their own time would've been that much more dramatic. Plus (and these are probably the reasons I felt something was off to begin with):

1) We wouldn't just *hear* about the wonders of the 29th century; we'd actually get to *see* them (it was a disappointment to go there, only to see nothing but a ship--even if a cool one);

and

2) The whole "can we trust her?" plot was pretty weak. I mean, that she wasn't a total villain was certainly nice and perhaps even unexpected, but then again, going to the 29th century early on would've made this aspect much stronger.

Still though, as always, this was enjoyable to watch. The leg bit was kind of shocking, and while the whole "main character dies" thing was done way too many times on Voyager (but look--no shuttles lost yet, right?!) I still felt concern when Issac died. (Though how, exactly, did he end up in the main computer, with so little time and preparation in accessing the device? It was like his katra was placed there ....)

Also, it was realistic that they relied on a wormhole to time travel--this has been proposed and seriously discussed by physicists and such as a way to travel back-and-forth, presuming that time travel is possible at all. Though I'm not clear either on exactly what went on at the end. It seems as though anyone or anything from the 29th century vanished upon the destruction of the wormhole, but that actions taken by said individuals or devices remained as they were. (It definitely left me perplexed upon my first viewing, which in turn undermined the drama somewhat, with Ed making Pria go away and all.)
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Darren
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

I said: "I don't doubt that entertainment and such--which has remained popular for decades by now--would suddenly go obscure and forgotten sometime in the future."

But of course I meant I *do* doubt that it would suddenly go obscure.
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Darren
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

While far from sold on this show yet, I actually found this episode to be entertaining, and intriguing. (In comparison, I'm inclined to say the first two episodes--the "prologue"--were atrocious.)

Michael and Saru's interactions were really, really nice. Particularly their walk and conversation down the corridor. It was so sad to see Michael trying to express her remorse ... but then too to see how Saru stilled cared about her, yet now feared her enough to want to stay out of her way. And it was all so believable; "You were always a good officer ... until you weren't." Of course, after doing what she did, people would have good reason to not trust her. As a Kelpien, Saru would naturally go beyond mistrust to actual fear ... and that he and Michael had served together for so long--had been friends even--just made this all very poignant. (I only cited--perhaps just paraphrased, for the exact wording may be wrong--one line from this scene, but there are others. [Actually, now that I think about it, I think that line actually came from a later scene anyway.] This part was just very, very good.)

The characters and their introductions generally went well. Cadet Tilly brings some welcomed kindness to the whole affair; it was nice to even see her apologize to Michael, after telling her that the seats were assigned. (And for anyone wondering, although I'd have to search for the source, I seem to recall it being mentioned that an autistic character would be on the show. Given that she mentioned her special needs, I figure Cadet Tilly is that character.)

Lt. Stamets, while undeniably very arrogant and therefore not entirely likeable, still came off as authentic, and with an interesting disagreement with Capt. Lorca in particular and perhaps all of Starfleet in general.

And as for Capt. Lorca, I have to say I liked him from his very first scene. Maybe it's because he seemed right away to be giving Michael a chance, unlike so many others on the ship. And he does seem to have a kindly demeanor about him, at least some of the time. But he's also very mysterious, and even ominous. I actually found myself thinking of Dumbledoor or Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by the end of the episode, because I got the sense that Lorca is largely very much in control; knows quite a bit about what all's going on, on-ship and off-ship; keeps many things to himself; and is probably more emotionally distant than he might otherwise appear ... willing to use people to achieve grand ends. As for whether he'll end up being a hero or villain, the obvious setup is that Michael will ultimately be the hero and Lorca the villain, though I'd like to think it'll be more nuanced than that. (And as I've seen mentioned elsewhere, Michael and Gabriel are both angelic names; and it's occurred to me that, though often not depicted or thought of as such, angels, while benevolent, are nonetheless not lacking in power and fierceness in all accounts.)

Lastly, I have to say Lt. Cmdr. (?) Landry seemed less like a Star Trek character, and much more like someone from a crime show or police drama. Her attitude toward the prisoners even was just very un-Starfleet as we've known it ... and I can't say for now at least that there was much redeeming about her. (Though I did note that she apparently beamed the creature to Lorca's "collection" without involving anyone else, and she apparently was in on letting the mess hall fight commence--perhaps even having set the whole situation up--all, presumably, on Lorca's orders. In other words, it seems she has a standing and working relationship with Lorca that goes far beyond her formal rank and position.)

(Of course, far from Landry as a singular character, it's still very debatable that much of Discovery feels like Star Trek ... that it truly takes place in the Star Trek universe.)

Finally, although very speculative at this point, it seems that the Discovery is a joint venture between Starfleet proper and Section 31 (the black badged-officers, versus the others). Between that, and Discovery's scientific capabilities, it's clear that Discovery isn't the typical Starfleet vessel, which opens up a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities.

For that matter, so too does their experimental organic propulsion system, considering where all it could take them. Though I don't think at this point that it's at all scientifically plausible. And ... might it be capable of taking the crew to other universes? The creators seem so adamant that Discovery takes place in continuity with everything else, that I wonder if with the introduction of this experimental propulsion system, we're simultaneously seeing the introduction of the "continuity preserver", if you will ... something that will enable a great shake-up or development that will somehow bring everything into congruence ... or simply specify Discovery's reality with that of the franchise as a whole. To me, well, this wouldn't be my idea of Discovery taking place in the prime continuity, but perhaps to the creators, it is.

(Oh, and the references to the Beatles and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" were nice ... even a bit Orville-esque. I don't doubt that entertainment and such--which has remained popular for decades by now--would suddenly go obscure and forgotten sometime in the future. And given Michael's internal conflict between her Vulcan upbringing and her human nature, having her go back to something her foster mother once read to her as a child seemed reasonable enough.)
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Darren
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: If the Stars Should Appear

Although I'm not sold on all the humor The Orville has featured so far, I've at least been okay with most of it. (And I actually find a lot of times that it's less about humor, and more about making the characters seem real ... putting a fresh spin on the whole affair.) This episode though marks the first time I was actually grinning in advance a couple times, such as when Capt. Mercer can't get the hatch open to the bio-ship (I just knew he was going to turn to Lt. Kitan for help ...)

Even better, as someone who often doesn't laugh out loud no matter how comical I find something, this episode also marks the first time that I did so for this series. Isaac's "It is a compliment!" line was good, as were several other lines or moments. But to me, it was his "Perhaps she fears you are not sexually adequate" line that was just really hilarious. (And again in terms of being realistic, it's interesting that Isaac, of a people who claim to be so intellectually superior, would completely misinterpret a situation like that. I hope--and would look forward to--more exploration and insight into Isaac and the Kaylon down the road. In more ways than one, there is a lot of potential there.)

I also thought of "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" as I watched this (but only vaguely of "Return of the Archons"). But perhaps as @Scot did, I nonetheless found the episode to be fresh. There certainly was some good character work--better, I seem to recall, than "FTWIHAIHTTS" had--and as @ Karl Zimmerman pointed out, while the setting was indeed very similar, from there, the specifics weren't. Now, there certainly was a TOS vibe--from the human-looking aliens and the architecture, and even to Capt. Mercer's method of getting into the interrogation building (whatever it was exactly). Actually, I might even suggest that it had a "Star Trek Continues" vibe about it; but with as much as I've enjoyed that series, and knowing that it will all be over in barely a month from now, I would hardly complain about that.

But for me, the real high point was the ending. It was quite moving, and, for yet another first for this series, I found myself tearing up. And I wasn't quite sure why; though upon reflection, I have some ideas. Part of it, I think, was Capt. Dural and his log entry / message. He presumably lost hope once they couldn't fix the engines, yet while it took hundreds of years (and generations upon which their society went astray) for his one small and last glimmer of hope to actualize, of course, with the crew of the Orville, it finally did.

More so though, I was later thinking about, say, people who get caught up and spend years of their lives living in abusive situations; or people who develop detrimental habits they'd like to break but haven't; or perhaps even people falsely imprisoned, only, if ever, being exonerated and gaining back their lives years later. And of numerous situations like that, really, where, "Thank you; We just gave you back what was already yours; Yes ... our future" might apply. (Not that I don't think that too often, we get so set on how our lives should go that when inevitably it doesn't work as imagined, we struggle to still see and appreciate the values of our lives. But there's no question that people get caught up in bad and unfair situations that, essentially, rob them of productivity and happiness that they never should have lost ... and the ending, I think, brought all this up to me.)

Of course, the music really helped sell it (how great has the music been so far in this show?). And incidentally, I really appreciated how Hamelac (?) was, amazingly enough, presented as a three-dimensional character. (You got the sense no matter his means, he did care about and fear for his world. And then, when even he has that briefest flicker of a smile at the end, when the stars are all appearing ... you even get the sense that he's as glad as anyone that the old reality is ending ... that it's all over.)

Overall, to me at least, this episode was the best yet. (In terms of its affect, I'd say it's on par with Star Trek episodes like "Blink of an Eye" (VOY); "Transfigurations" (TNG); or "In the Cards" (DS9).) *This* is (one way at least on) how to be aspirational with your sci-fi story ... in a way that really gives a lot of hope.
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