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Darren
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 9:21am (UTC -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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 -6)
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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Darren
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 7:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

@Navamske:

"Every Star Trek production (except for TAS, probably) after TOS has featured in its premiere episode a cameo by a character from a previous incarnation of Star Trek: McCoy in TNG, Picard in DS9, Quark in Voyager, and Cochrane in Enterprise. I was disappointed that the new show did not follow this tradition. (Sarek doesn't count, as his role was more than a cameo and apparently he's a regular or recurring character.) Why not have an elderly T'Pol do a walk-on?"

You know, I wondered for months whether the first episode would include an Enterprise character. And T'Pol for one was an excellent choice, because we already saw a much older version of her in Enterprise. (Shran seemed a potentially good choice too.) But I held out so little hope of the tradition being honored that when it wasn't, I didn't even immediately notice.

I suppose for Discovery, it was too much to ask.
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Darren
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 6:38am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

@Canjobear:

"There’s been a lot of talk that this series is devoid of intellectual content and that it’s just JJ Abrams lens flares and pew pew shooting action. I think that’s totally wrong and short-sighted. Just because this doesn’t look like Trek from before, and just because its intellectual content has a different flavor, doesn’t mean it’s dumb and has no content. What is the content?"

I appreciate your thoughts on this, and there's no doubt that the creators intend it to have intellectual content. I'd say you're right about the whole "Vulcan Hello" bit:

"Look no farther than the title “The Vulcan Hello”: when I read about the title I thought it was a silly reference to the hand gesture or something. The hand gesture is old Trek. It turns out the Vulcan Hello itself is something we would not have expected given previous Vulcan stuff: the Vulcan hello is violence. It’s a pre-emptive and unprovoked attack against the Klingons. On one hand, we haven’t seen Vulcans attacking pre-emptively, but the truth is that Sarek’s point is totally logical. If you think being logical implies being nonviolent then all I can say is you haven’t thought this through very carefully. If you’re facing people who only respect violence, you have to speak the language of violence. Being logical doesn’t mean you won’t be violent and it doesn’t mean you’ll always follow the Federation ethics code. Being violent in this case is definitely logical and deeply in keeping with Vulcan behavior, but superficially different since we haven’t seen a lot of Vulcan violence before. It adds intellectual sophistication and depth to the Vulcans, and above all, what I like the most, is it’s a fresh take, and one that deeply respects the underlying ideas. “Violence brought respect, respect brought peace.”"

I too originally thought that the title might turn out to be kind of silly; but in fact, it referenced an argument the episode implicitly makes, that some level of violence might indeed be necessary, particularly in the face of a culture than prizes courage and honor through aggression above much else. Even better, Sarek noted that what worked for the Vulcans might not work for other member worlds of the Federation, which was a very true and nuanced touch.

However, whatever the Klingons were so adamant about--and however it's meant to be allegorical for our times--to me seems quite muddled at best, and rather dreadful at worst.

"T’Kuvma is putting forward a straightforward anti-Federation ideology, something I was hoping for from Star Trek Beyond but didn’t get. The Federation is multicultural and T’Kuvma is anti-multicultural, which is a very very relevant distinction for today’s world. T’Kuvma’s whole idea is that under the guide of multiculturalism, or “we come in peace”, the Federation will actually destroy Klingon culture. That the Federation’s supposed diversity and equality are actually death for everything he loves. It seems like the big political question today is globalism vs. nationalism, and this show appears to be addressing that question right on the nose, and not in an explicitly moralistic way either. You can see T’Kuvma’s point. When Admiral Whatsisname shows up on T’Kuvma’s ship in the holoemitter or whatever and says “When we’re fighting, we’re not talking”—then you understand T’Kuvma’s beef with the Federation, and in my mind when I saw him saying that condescending garbage, I was ready to sign up with T’Kuvma and ram that ship to smithereens.

I certainly see what you're saying; but, it just doesn't seem to me that the episode pulled it off well at all. Most notably, the episode establishes that the Klingons haven't been seen in a 100 years. (Never mind, like @Skeevo pointed out, they attacked the Vulcan Learning Center in the recent past .... Perhaps just the Vulcans, not the Federation as a whole?) That means then, no diplomatic relations; no cultural exchange; no immigration either way; and very likely no economic interdependence either. (After all, the Federation and the Empire both hold large territories. With no reason to presume that either section of space would hold many resources the other doesn't, the mutual benefits of trade wouldn't even be that great.)

Further, we know from other series than the Federation isn't a conquering force. Sure, they seek out new civilizations and hope to engage with them; but, for that matter, admission to the Federation requires that a world meet certain conditions, and that they want to join in the first place. So yes, the Federation would like to open a dialogue with the Empire; but the Empire need merely say "no", and that's that. Engaging with the Federation would likely begin cultural changes; but no one's forcing such engagement to begin with.

So unless T'Kuvma and the other House leaders fear an ever-strengthening Federation--that it might eventually try to conquer them, which they should know full well the Federation simply wouldn't do--hasn't done--their motivations just aren't clear at all. (I mean, like the Romulans once did, they could fear for their own empire's future ability to expand to new territory, to conquer even; but T'Kuvma said nothing about that--only that the Federation's cultural influence would hurt their own.)

And so ... what allegorical connection does this have to our world? A world where the process of globalization is arguably already quite far along? Where music and movies and such from certain countries are well-known and shared; where that influence has changed the entertainment that others produce? A world where economic and financial ties between nations run deep; where exchange students, migrant workers, and citizens living abroad are plentiful; and where immigration is one of the most central and debated issues? Where the most widely-spoken of languages are even studied or learned by so many people?

Versus a federation and an empire than could easily just continue in isolation of one another, who currently have none of these things? Not much of an allegorical connection, I'd say, if any.

Now you *did* imply that all this needs to be fleshed out, and that you think it will be:

"I think T’Kuvma’s idea isn’t fully fleshed out yet. How does the Federation pose a threat to Klingons under the guise of “we come in peace”—exactly how? I can think of some arguments how, and I’m sure we’ll see them fleshed out."

But to me, it seems like fleshing out won't be enough--something more like retconning will be needed, for it seems that the whole setup (prologue?) was really botched. (But, if I may ask, what ideas and arguments have you thought of? Maybe I'm just really missing something; something already shown, or something feasible going forward.)

Just briefly, I might mention something else that seems quite bizarre .... Since Michael's mutiny didn't succeed, it seems to me she played no role there whatsoever in starting the war. (The Shenzhou called for reinforcements once they engaged the Klingons, and once those reinforcements came, the Klingons opened fire; with her failed attempt, she literally had no role in what happened.) Of course, she *did* accidentally kill the Torchbearer; and later, by killing rather than stunning and capturing T'Kuvma, she blew the chance to stop the war before it truly began. Yet the episode, the preview, and even the marketing materials all suggest that she made a deliberate choice that started the war. Mutinying and successfully opening fire would most certainly have been that--but this isn't how it transpired. Weird.

"When Admiral Whatsisname shows up on T’Kuvma’s ship in the holoemitter or whatever and says “When we’re fighting, we’re not talking”—then you understand T’Kuvma’s beef with the Federation, and in my mind when I saw him saying that condescending garbage, I was ready to sign up with T’Kuvma and ram that ship to smithereens."

You know, that admiral, I think, managed to be the most unlikable Starfleet higher-up ever ... I too was pleased to see him bamboozled.
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Darren
Mon, Sep 25, 2017, 4:45am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

Did anyone notice just how much like the Abrams' films this (and the next) episode are? The visuals themselves are much alike, but, it seems to me that it goes beyond that.

[Note: Spoilers for both "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars" below.]










- For instance, starting off with Starfleet officers out to save a planet / civilization? (Questionable as to whether the Prime Directive would allow it?)

- The whole Vulcan learning center? (Whatever especially those pits in the floor are called?)

- A young child, raised Vulcan, getting emotional from a distressing incident in said center? (For Spock, kids teasing him for and disrespecting his human mother; for Michael, the examination asking about the attack that killed her parents?) With Sarek there / near to converse with?

- A young child attacked by other kids? (Emotionally in Spock's case; physically in T'Kuvma's?)

- Phasers that shoot bolts, not in streams?

- Officers beaming to the enemy ship to retrieve someone, shooting along the way? (Pike; T'Kuvma?)

- A ship soon destroyed, with little emotional investment from the audience? (The Enterprise; the Shenzhou?)

- A ship that hardly seems practical, inspired more from space opera and fantasy than science fiction? (Nero's mining vessel; the Klingons' sarcophagus ship?)

- An officer being beamed back, just after witnessing the death of someone they really cared about? (Spock after his mother; Burnham after Georgiou?)

Did I miss any? These specific similarities / rips aside, if someone told me these episodes took place in the Abrams' universe, I wouldn't doubt it. Despite CBS' claim that Discovery takes place in the prime universe, with actual episodes now out, I think, at best, the argument of where it takes place hasn't yet been settled.
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Darren
Sun, Sep 24, 2017, 6:52am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: General Discussion

Well, I just signed up for CBS All Access .... I fear that no matter what potential this show might have, it's not going to live up to it, and that no matter how much I might hope to like it ... it's just not going to work. But it's allegedly Star Trek, so I have to give it a try. Between the first week free (with two episodes coming out today) and then just $5.99 for a month's worth (four more), I'll get six episodes to start with. Perhaps after those, I'll know whether I'll be continuing or not.

I wish I could know in advance, so maybe I would've just not signed up at all; but the consolation is, if I do end up liking it and turn out to be wrong in all my suspicions, I won't miss out. And should I find that it indeed isn't truly Star Trek, then I suppose it'll send a clearer message to CBS once I cancel.

It's been a conflicting and disappointing ride--but now, it's nearly time. Engage ...
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Darren
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 8:03am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: About a Girl

As an allegorical story, I have to say this episode was pretty solid. You usually don't want such episodes to be preachy, and nor, even if just for the sake of entertainment, do you want them to present any one side as weak. Here, legitimacy was brought not only to at least three "sides", but to the characters' interactions as well.

Of course from our real-world human point of view--and the majority of the Orville crew--the procedure was quite wrong and out of the question. Yet on a world where it literally takes on average 75 years for just one girl to be born, the Moclans' arguments in favor were--for them and their world--surprising reasonable. But then when you look away from Moclan society versus Human, or Xelayan--to the individual apart from societal connections--you then get the arguable "third" side: this particular person could nonetheless go on to do great things, and be very happy. Rather than attempt to "fit in", this individual could find her own unique and rewarding path. And just in case that argument might've felt too idealistic as opposed to the obvious pragmatic considerations, once the lone Moclan woman turned up and was revealed to be the most revered author in all of Moclan society, well, legitimacy there too was sealed. ("There's more than one way to contribute to society." .... That's a thought well worth holding on to, whether in how we perceive others' lives or even our own perceived failures; how our lives seldom take the shape we wished, tried, or even feel they needed.)

As for the judgement, it actually caught me slightly off guard. Only slightly ... yet off guard nonetheless. After hour upon hour of Star Trek and more, that was pretty good. And nor, for that matter, did it feel as though it were done just to shock, or to be a twist, or whatnot. Rather, it very much came off as an organic part of the story ... and maybe even necessary.

And how Bortus mentioned to both Klyden personally and to crew members that he loved Klyden irregardless of everything going on ... I just love how on this show, the characters really seem to care and have respect and decency for one another. (Yes, Gordon can be a jerk, though even with him, I wouldn't doubt his loyalty.) And in a world where we can practically hate one another just for having different views and ideas about admittedly serious issues and happenings, such respect and decency is really nice to see again.
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Darren
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 2:46am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

In Jammer's review, I think I hear echoes of his Voyager criticisms. :) And while I'm still fond of Voyager (when I was younger and first getting into Star Trek, it was my favorite series), I do wish now that it might have better distinguished itself from prior shows, and that it might have taken itself a bit more seriously. As for The Orville then, I too would like to see it stick to a serious sci-fi foundation first (and then just happen to be funny sometimes, second). And while resembling TNG and other Star Trek doesn't bother me too much (all along, I was really hoping for it to be like Star Trek), I've been getting accustomed lately to the fact that it *isn't* Star Trek ... and, I think I can already see how it's on its way to distinction.

It was very conspicuous to me, for instance, that in "Old Wounds" even, no one beamed anywhere--everyone took shuttles to get around. And while this episode showed that the Calivon have something akin to transporter technology (as a highly technologically advanced civilization), still, that the Union doesn't immediately makes it hard to imagine this is all part of the Star Trek universe, no matter what else may have been inspiring. Add to that things like how the quadrant doesn't appear to be anything like we would expect it to be 40+ years after the Dominion War (hypothetically, The Orville takes place approximately 40 years after Voyager returned home), or like how Dr. Finn clearly isn't just Ms. Yates with a different name, and, to try pretending that it's all taking place in the Star Trek universe begins to feel impossible.

More than that though, I think there's already some evidence that The Orville, in much more substantial ways, is already on its way to distinguishing itself from Star Trek. For instance, the Calivon do not strike me as like any specific people seen in Star Trek. Yes, the Talosians held people captive; but as I recall, they were searching for a species to be bred and used for slave labor on their planet's surface (it's been awhile since I last saw "The Cage" ...). The Caretaker only pulled ships to the Delta Quadrant in trying to find a replacement for himself, and of course, the Borg were just an individual-less collective on a cold mission to bring more and more "technological and biological distinctiveness" to themselves, to try and achieve "perfection".

But a species that considers itself so superior to less technologically advanced ones that it captures people to display in zoos? While there's nothing non-Star Trek-like about the idea, nonetheless, such a people do not seem to correspond to any yet seen in Star Trek. And if MacFarlane or the other Orville writers would care to bring the Calivon back in future episodes, they could become distinguishing antagonists in The Orville. (In fact, if you think about it, they basically represent an existential threat to the Union. That is, they have the technology to literally eliminate the Union and all its people, and they lack the conscience to hesitate to do so, should they ever come to see the Union as bothersome pests. It's no wonder that Admiral Tucker was so emphatic about no one in the Union engaging in any way with the Calivon; they represent a grave threat.)

And then, secondly, there's Isaac and the Kaylon. Was there ever a person serving aboard a Starfleet ship who was there, essentially--*sent* there, no less--for reasons unknown? Someone from a civilization that the Federation knew next-to-nothing about, yet were an advanced power? I can't think of anyone, and really, while I seem to recall that there *have* been civilizations in Star Trek that were far more advanced than the Federation, they weren't "neighbors" to the Federation; plainly known about and there, yet keeping to themselves. And, given how the Calivon "zookeeper" reacted to Isaac in this episode, we seemingly have proof as well that the Kaylon are indeed a highly technologically advanced civilization themselves. (For that matter, that the Calivon maintain a zoo for similarly-advanced societies clearly implies that there are probably others besides themselves and the Kaylon to boot. Given that the Federation and Klingons and such never had such "higher" civilizations operating in their midst, yet within a sphere of power and influence unto themselves, there's a potential dynamic here in The Orville that, should the writers choose to build upon it, could become quite unlike any seen in Star Trek.)

So, it seems that The Orville already has clear potential to become something distinct from Star Trek. And, even though it's episodic, that obviously doesn't preclude world-building and not necessarily story arcs even ... which, amazingly enough, it might already have. Take Alara's situation in this episode, for instance. Were she a "typical" Union officer, the fact that she was so unprepared for command would not reflect well on the Union, and so, in turn, The Orville itself as a serious sci-fi show. Yet going back to "Old Wounds", Capt. Mercer himself questioned how she could be so young and yet Chief of Security on a ship. And she responded by acknowledging her inexperience, after explaining that because her people so seldom join the military, whenever someone like her does, the Union fast-tracks them. Basically then, taking this episode in isolation, we might not know quite what to make of Alara's predicament; perhaps the show was just being silly. Yet when considering it along with the pilot, it turns out it makes a lot more sense. (And, if this is indeed an arc and the writers would like to continue it, there are all kinds of questions they could tackle, like:

"Why do so few Xelayans join the military?"
"What does fast-tracking their path to officer standing involve?"
"Why is the Union so keen on getting whatever Xelayans it can?"
"Did other Union worlds once discriminate against Xelayans?"
"What do other Union worlds and members think of this policy?"

... and so on.)

And, as just a quick observation on a second potential arc ... while we didn't see the Krill in this episode, they were mentioned twice. First, they were claimed to have attacked and raided a ship, which did nothing to further them from their "cartoony" or "comic book" standing from the pilot. Second though, once Ed and Kelly were in the zoo, a Calivon child and mother argued about going to go see the Krill, with the mother saying they might, if they had time after seeing the Moclans. Here, very subtly, Humans, Krill, and Moclans at least were all put on an equal footing ... which *could* be a bit of development for the Krill going forward.

Ultimately then, it seems The Orville has already been setting itself up for distinction. How it might proceed though (and whether it will "succeed"), just depends on what MacFarlane and the other writers and producers have in mind. For myself personally, I just hope that no matter how distinct from Star Trek it may become, it develops good allegorical and moral play-style storytelling along the way, and that it never loses this, nor the aspirational outlook or scientific plausibility or whatnot. And, while I appreciate its comedic side (which in many cases seems less about comedy than making it feel fresh and real, without going "dark" and throwing out what makes Star Trek shows Star Trek), I'm hoping as well that it will be nonetheless be able to stand up to scrutiny and detailed analysis of its world and mythos ... that there won't be too many things that just have to be chalked up to, "Well, because it was funny". (Or, I suppose, non-funny things that simply don't make much sense.)
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Darren
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 8:22am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

This episode felt a bit less enjoyable to me than the pilot, but was still, I think, a decent, if perhaps average affair. The plot was again a bit standard, and if the story was meant to be allegorical to any degree, I'm not sure it succeeded in that regard. (Although, it did get me thinking about some things, which is a good sign. I'm not sure then that it failed in being allegorical either.)

[Please note that there will be some SPOILERS from here on out.]

Incidentally, I really appreciated that the episode did *not* take various story avenues that it easily might have, particularly considering that The Orville is, after all, partly a comedy series. For instance:

- Bortus' egg brooding was not played for laughs, as in, say, if he had been forced to somehow brood his egg while also somehow being put back as an active officer. Nor, save for two scenes, did he have to endure any disruptions to his brooding, where again, such disruptions could have been done repeatedly for laughs.

- Ed and Kelly were *not* placed in their imitation apartment for any reason related to them having been married and divorced, and nor, again, was their predicament played up for laughs. (Particularly as in a "The divorced couple are forced to be together in their old home!" sort of way ... like a sitcom might have done.)

- And presumably, while they recalled a bit of old affection for one another in one scene, they did *not* have sex, which, considering they were in a zoo and possibly being watched at any given time, again, could have been played up as comical.

With these in mind, it still seems clear that despite its lighter side, The Orville intends to be a series that's earnest and sincere, which to me at least, is a lot of the reason why I'm watching.

But back to the plot and possible allegory, well, of course Alara was ultimately going to try and save Ed and Kelly; that was a foregone conclusion early on. That said though, the interactions between Alara and Dr. Finn were a nice touch, and possibly indicative of a friendship / mentorship going forward. And while Alara seemed to make her final decision less from conviction and lessons learned and more from personal desire / guilt, it's not as realistic that with just one incident, a person would become tremendously more experienced and show it. So, I think her arc, as it were, played out reasonably well, if simply a bit routine.

As for allegory ... well, there were actually a few moments that caught my attention:

- Gordon's remark about whether *he* would be given time off to brood an egg, made me think about paternity leave versus maternity leave, like how (so far as I know), some workplaces don't offer paternity leave. (And of course, whether the two are equivalent, or both needed and such.)

- With the alien zookeeper's line to the effect of, "You want me to talk to *her*?", it was impossible not to think of cultures here on Earth in the present day, where men indeed think so little of women as to not regard them as worthy of carrying on conversations with. Not to mention, all the times in history where one group has thought of and treated another as inferior, and hence again, not worthy of common decency and humanity.

- But potentially the big one, of course, was Kelly's line about animals having been used for entertainment "centuries ago". Was this episode meant to argue in any way that keeping animals captive--on display in zoos; to act in circuses and other shows; to be used in non-lethal sport--is wrong? It seems like too little was said ... and most people would not equate animals being kept captive to humans being so anyway (save perhaps for other primates, dolphins, elephants, and so on).

And yet, as I thought about it, I found myself thinking about a lot. For instance, most people do not consider it wrong to keep a pet snake, so long, as with any living thing, proper food and water and such is offered. Yet most snakes, if not given places to hide in their tanks / enclosures, will end up dying from stress. Point being, food and water is only the basics of keeping a thriving pet--their environment *has* to be fulfilling to them as well.

But did the aliens, say, use their extremely advanced technology to simulate all of the Orville and surrounding space, so that Ed and Kelly might have had "freedom" and autonomy, not even realizing anything was different? No! All they provided them--other than food and water--was a mere apartment; nothing to help them thrive or be content.

And why, likely? Well, why does the horse that loses too many races often get sent to slaughter? Or why do most egg-laying hens still live in little cages? Because of prestige, and money. And so presumably, the aliens were too concerned with their huge collection of species as a draw for visitors to be bothered with the welfare of any particular one, while it would take too much money / resources to do otherwise.

So, whether intended or not, perhaps this episode was more successful as an allegory than it might at first appear. And lastly then:

- The reality shows as a trade was *great*. It made sense that the aliens would love them; and here in the real world, it was a nice jab at what really are displays of human behavior at its most ... something. (Although I'm not sure Duck Dynasty, for one, was warranted to be part of the trade.) Another very clever solution to an episode's central problem, and definitely another point in its favor.
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Darren
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 7:58am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Old Wounds

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi:

Fox has the complete episode available on their website. However, if it has some sort of region lock on it, then unfortunately that won't work for you. Here's the link, just in case:

https://www.fox.com/the-orville/
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