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Dean
Wed, Apr 3, 2019, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

Hi Jammer,

Just some whimsical thoughts, after re-watching this series after 10 years (time passes so fast ...):

If the Colonials staying on Earth had used the principle of non-interference, like on Star Trek, to abandon their technology I would have appreciated the ending more. They could have found an isolated island (Atlantis?) and become part of our own mythology. It prob made sense for most people to continue with the Cylons and relocate to another world, with the hope that one day the people of Earth would explore the stars and meet the descendants of the united Cylon and Colonial fleet.

I'm glad I came by to re-visit this review, as I learned about the Seraphs, which Head Six and Kara may have been, and the connection to the original series from Katie, above. Thanks again for the great site.
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DeanVolecape
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Enjoyed that overall - things are looking up.

I'm glad we're getting to know everyone a bit better - Nhan and Rhys included. That said, the characterisation of Michael as forever brow-wrinkled and talking in that breathy intense voice does irritate, as does Tilly's babble - we don't need either of those signposts to character any more, we've got it. Michael's beginning to annoy me as much as Janeway did, just by manner of speech, and Tilly is starting to remind me of Sonya Gomez - not good, and Tilly was my favourite person on board for a long time.

I understand people's reservations about the way we were belatedly introduced to Airiam's back story so that we'll care at the end, but I still enjoyed this one. I also wonder whether Airiam is going to turn out to be the red angel - we're surely going to learn more about project Daedalus.

Also nice to get a refence to cheese as something people know about and (presumably) therefore eat, rather than just as a threat to ship safety.
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Dean Dent
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Parturition

Not a particularly good episode. The predicted "Breakout Character" Neelix was a poorly written character (No bearing on Ethan Phillips), who is jealous, insecure and an alleged perv (Involved with the barely one year old Kes).
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Dean
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

Who the hell sells resonator coils from a stall in a town marketplace?

A good episode overall, I just have a million nitpicks over the various was Star Trek depicts its alien-of-the-week civilizations.
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Dean
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 10:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

So many have complained about the ending of this episode, but the beginning ruined it for me.

O'Brien detects a duonetic field that "may be blocking communications" and they immediately decide to beam down and leave the runabout unmanned. It still hurts my brain all these years later.
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Dean
Fri, Dec 30, 2016, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Death Wish

I personally love Q episodes, ever since TNG. This is actually one of the better ones.
Tuvalu makes a great lawyer.
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Dean Dent
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

Paramount/CBS stumbled with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and Star Trek Beyond was the biggest casualty.
STB is the best of the "Abramverse/ Kelvin" movies. Feeling as close to Classic Trek character interplay than the previous two movies, while feeling like it could've made a grand TOS episode.
Unfortunately after the bad taste that Into Darkness left in fans mouth, a mind numbing first teaser, under the radar promotion as well as a crowded release date, the powers that be set it up for failure.
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Corvidean
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Fight

I spent the entire episode wondering why they'd given Chakotay the same transvestite haircut as Low Rimmer...

Not a big fan of the episode, partly due to the feeling that it was a Darmok knock-off, and partly since the whole mysticism thing got really old seasons earlier.
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Dean Grr
Thu, Mar 21, 2013, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Gravity

Jammer, first, congrats on the new addition to your family! As a reader, wishing you all the best!

...

I think the intro to this review sums up Voyager nicely. I don't agree 100%: I like having standalone stories, and a noble crew, that doesn't get jaded by time and experience. DS9 is more true to life, while Voyager is closer to fairy tale or mythology, with idealized (or at least more static) characters. I get a lot of "real" life everyday, and found DS9 and it's successor of sorts, BSG, trying to drag it's characters (and audience) through hell just to see the reaction: DS9 in a much softer way, though (Quark? Rom?)!
There's quite a difference between the family life of Chief O'brien, for example, and the despair that Chief Tyrol goes through (although they both go through hell - O'brien, though, only once per season ;).

...

A thought about Tuvok (and what prompted this entry): I suspect Tuvok was underused partly because his relationship to Janeway was often an uncontested one: not the case for Kirk and Spock. Entire episodes were dedicated to the personal conflict between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Without that tension, Tuvok did not have as many stories to tell, or drama to be part of.
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Dean Grr
Thu, Mar 21, 2013, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Disease

I'm going from memory on this ep, but I liked Garrett's perfomance: he came across as genuine and invested in his role. I sensed his romantic interest found her lines amusing, but I still liked their playful banter, their innocence, and Tal's sense of wonder.

I took Janeway's condemnation to mean Harry created first contact problems (pun intended ;) !), i.e. making it hard to negotiate with Tal's people, and putting himself ahead of his duty.
True to life, there's usually not a crackdown until consequences arise, like Harry's electric reaction to Tal (having pun again ;).

I'm okay with the criticism of Voyager: even Michael Piller admitted in an interview (Season 2 DVD) that shows like ER at the time were moving ahead of Star Trek, production wise. One thing about reviewing is that it can come across as jaded much of the time. I suppose my defense is not of Voyager as much, but to keep a part of that child-like wonder at discovery, and the nobility and empathy that Star Trek often showed.
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Dean Grr
Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

Jammer, I disagree on this one for the following:
*I didn't find the underlying story that hard to understand and the archaeological angle was fascinating. It reads as a story about balance in nature, light & dark, yin & yang.
*I remember reading Menosky was not happy with this episode, but a large detractor for me was the cheap production: it was a bottle show with cheaper props (the artifacts in Ten Forward were pretty funny). If they had a cgi battle between two transformed gods, that might have been different ...
*I thought Brent Spiner did a fine job with the different mythological characters, and it was chilling to think that a malfunction (or misunderstanding) of an ancient library could lead to real world death. As a writer above mentioned, it would be like LotR wih the holodeck safeties off, :).

In short, it was more the production than the story that hurt the episode. The idea was cool, the execution lacked, but when I think of season 7, I think about Data's mask. Probably a good Halloween costume, as a nod to Trekkies and to have fun with anyone that hated this episode, ;).
-Dean
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Dean Grr
Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 4:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

I've just watched this ep again, and I wanted to thank-you Jammer for adding so much enjoyment to watching Star Trek with your reviews. It's pretty impressive you wrote these insights during college, while they were first airing. For myself, I've had to become older to be able appreciate some of your ideas.

...

There are two parts of this review I wanted to highlight: First, "... There are so many perceptive, accurate-feeling notes concerning family tensions that the story subtly picks up on ..." Unless a story connects with us personally, it's hard to enjoy it, or remember it for long.
It says quite a lot about DS9 as a whole, that people still think and talk about it.

Also, where you talk about Ezri's mother and how she has "... fallen into the unconscious habit of trying to continuously control her children's lives". A lot of our actions (and mistakes) come from not even being aware of what we're doing. I'd be surprised if her mother really changes for the better after this, but it's possible.

Thanks again, Dean
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DeanGrr
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Birthright, Part II

Haven't watched this for awhile, but I remember wanting it to be more exciting, compelling as a drama: similar to 5th season's Unification. Perhaps Garak was right, everything on Romulus is grey, "... the clothes, the people ... even the Romulan heart" ;) jk.

Like Jammer, I think the themes were compelling: mortal enemies learning to live in peace, and a closed community that values harmony over freedom. I bought Ba'el's attraction to Worf, the bold outsider, and Worf rejecting her because she was part Romulan was sad, and well written.

I guess it comes down to the standalone episode having only a short time to develop its story, and that TNG episodes relied on suspense and tension for excitement. In "Birthright II" it was a lot of people standing around talking (and a lot of grey, ;), but not a lot of jeopardy, which made it dull and wooden in parts.

Also, I think you have to be willing to accept "archetypal" characters and themes, like those used in myths, and accept symbolic sets, like those used in plays, to enjoy many Star Trek episodes. TNG and VOY, like others have said, are not usually told with consequences and complex emotional threads connecting the different stories.
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Dean Grr
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Endgame

Voyager did show the character's lives on Earth: 26 years later, Barclay is part of the Voyager family, toasting the crew at a reunion, Tom Paris returned to civilian life as an author, B'Elanna as Klingon Ambassador, the Doctor ("Joe") with a human wife ...

What would have made the ending, though, is to see Seven of Nine walk into the reunion as an epilogue, with a contented Admiral Janeway looking on.

...

On the Borg ...

Having the last couple seasons witness the Borg expand exponentially, like their power and drive to assimilate would allow, would have been frightening and lent awesome suspense leading up the finale. The Borg were a virus multiplying, and with their transwarp conduits could easily catch up to Voyager. Even though it wasn't perfect, the story "Hope and Fear", where an advanced race is finally conquered by the Borg and you see the despair and rage of the survivors, could have lead up to a final confrontation. A race like the Borg had to be stopped, not annihilated, but have the drones freed and the Collective disbanded.

....

Gotta love that scene, though, of Voyager ripping through a Borg cube with a single shot, ;)!
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Dean Grr
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

Just passing through on my walk through the web ... I wonder how your reviews of TNG are affected by the changes in storytelling since they were aired. When I watch an episode today, it's a mixture of nostalgia and comparing that to recent dramas. Just watched DS9's "Emissary" and that episode has withstood the test of time.

"Relics" is one of my favorite eps from Season 6, due to the idea of the Dyson Sphere, and of course, Scotty. Anytime they feature ancient advanced civilizations, it's the best!

...

It would be interesting to note what reviews would keep their ratings, and which would decrease over time. It would also be fun to compare notes with fans that watched the shows when they aired, versus new fans today. I suspect as long as the props or cgi don't give away their age, many Star Trek episodes tell universal stories. Anyone watch TOS remastered - does it help the shows compensate for their age?
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Dean Grr
Tue, May 22, 2012, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

I apologize for a 3rd comment, but I`m not able to edit a previous one. I have to be careful, because I`m in danger of being conceited myself.

Stories can do many good things: heal, console, inspire, enlighten. I enjoy Jammer`s reviews, and enjoy reviewing myself, but it seems selfish, with all that`s going on in the world (poverty, war, greed), the things that the Star Trek world has solved, to talk about how entertained (or not) we are.

I won`t continue to moralize: anyone reading this is aware about our world. I find it ironic, though, that the baseness of human behaviour, i.e greed, betrayal and graphic violence or torture, would be considered aesthetic, and entertainment.
There are many aspects of BSG I enjoy, for example, but the violence and shock tactics in storytelling begs the question: is this entertainment? So, I am not immune from the irony.

To be fair, Jammer finds this episode cynical, whereas I suppose I find the process of review sometimes cynical. - Dean
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Dean Grr
Mon, May 21, 2012, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

I'd like to ad that I'm thankful for Star Trek and its uplifting themes. I have to suppress a tear sometimes when I hear the different opening musical scores,:).

I'm not trying to belittle the joy of reviewing or people's personal experiences, but trying to define what is desirable or not in artistic expression, seems a bit conceited sometimes.

...

Something that struck me watching this episode is the trepidation Trek has towards sexuality (Neelix and Tom discussing the honeymoon) and also the way extras are not developed as secondary characters, making the Trek world breath more, be more believable on a character level. That's something better done by BSG or Lost.

It was cool for Chakotay to carry an argument with "alternate" Janeway, as she relents in going back to the Demon planet. I also admired that Janeway refused to attack the miner's ship, and tried to prevent the disintegration of the silver blood Voyager, without sacrificing who (she thought) she was. What more can any of us do, sometimes?
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Dean Grr
Mon, May 21, 2012, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

It's nice to visit this quiet corner of the net, and the great reviews of Star Trek. But ... we must lead pretty comfortable lives to critique shows the way we do: at least the most we suffer from sometimes is boredom. Another way of saying this, is that there's a hidden conceit in writing tv reviews: that we are the center of the universe, and tv exists to entertain us, and should do so. Isn't that kind of like spoiled children?
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DeanGrr
Wed, Mar 21, 2012, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Sacred Ground

Science as a Perspective ...

Time, once thought a constant: now it depends on your relativistic point of view, ;). Once, Time was the purview of the gods (or God), and now something we check on our wrist, or smartphone.

I've just been watching "Inherit the Wind" about the Scopes trial for teaching about Darwin in the 1920s. Something Spencer Tracey's character says, about a price to be paid for scientific progress rings true: "you may conquer the clouds, but the birds will lose their wonder".

I think the discussions above are talking about several issues at once: that's why it's confusing. On the one hand with science can come knowledge, power and the ability to be like a god, with contempt for consequences. Captain Janeways shows an almost religious reverence for Science (i.e da Vinci hologram), but is also very controlling.

Yet, knowledge can be held with awe and humility at nature's beauty and its complexity. There's a fear here that with knowledge we will lose our sense of awe and humility, and the world will seem diminished, or be diminished because of our hubris. Absent the faith that the world may be more than we know, we become less, the world becomes lonelier.

For a moment, Janeway gave up control to others, the monks of the cave, which is probably her greatest fear. It's great that Kate Mulgrew is an artist that wears her feelings, yet her character is highly self-disciplined and analytical, hiding her sensitivity from her friends and crew.

Dean
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DeanGrr
Thu, Feb 23, 2012, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Seventh Season Recap

I've been watching my Voyager collection lately, and was thinking about the critical commentary on it. Voyager definitely comes across as TOS updated for the 90s, as you mentioned earlier, Jammer. Even a 60s Western like Bonanza has a lot in common with VOY and ENT, with its character archetypes and standalone episodes.

As a ritual, I'd watch this and TNG after school, and whatever this says about me as a viewer/critic, I did watch it as Berman intended: I loved the moral and scifi concepts the show depicted, or at least aspired to, and the cast became, as corny as it sounds, a family I invited into my living room each week.

When I read critical reviews here, or a blog such as "Asking the Wrong Questions", what comes across is a desire for novelty, flash, shock or surprise, the kind of techniques Joe Menosky lamented in "The Muse". Stories, to my understanding, are there to teach as much as entertain and I've welcomed the role models shown in Star Trek.

However, as others have alluded to, Star Trek has become heavily watered down and themes recycled, especially after stopping the acceptance of unsolicited stories, with which Michael Piller probably saved Voyager. Taken on its own terms, Voyager has many entertaining stories, and some interesting ideas about adhering to principles, individuality and sentience. I'm glad they had a few bombs, such as "Threshold" and "Vis a Vis", which gave a good laugh and reminds me not to take things too seriously.

As an aside ...

I'm not sure what the future holds for TV given that seasons are half what VOY was. There has definitely been a trend for more intense, gritty, realistic drama and detailed characters, which may in no small part be a result of the Internet age. As technology both connects and isolates us, people may look for dramas to show realistic, detailed characters, plots and worlds, as a kind of reaction to the anonymity of modern life. I know this may be controversial, and it may be stretching, but I've been puzzled about the desire for complex, developed characters and stories, when tv itself is art, or entertainment, and an escape from reality.
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DeanGrr
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 3:55am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Fourth Season Recap

My apologies:

Repaired link to quotes on Rick Berman interview:
(no gaps or spaces in link)
trekmovie.com/2009/08/26/rick-berman-talks-18-years-of-trek-in-extensive-oral-history/
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DeanGrr
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 3:41am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Fourth Season Recap

I've been looking over my collection of scifi shows, from Stargate to BSG to Babylon 5, and wanted to offer some thoughts about Enterprise, its potential, and what would have made it a great series:

I want to give Berman/Braga some real credit for developing such an optimistic, outward looking show: perhaps if it had been developed after 9/11 it would have been a much darker series. In Rick Berman's interview for the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (granting the Emmy Awards), he stated to the effect that:

"... [the] greatest legacy of Trek is Roddenberry’s "uplifting vision" of the future "depicting a culture of man ,more evolved in the best of all ways" unlike other dark sci-fi"
link: trekmovie.com/2009/08/26/rick-berman-talks-18-years-of-trek-in-extensive-oral-history/

I know it's a matter of what I like personally, but the best part of Trek scifi are these crews of moral individuals exploring the universe and making it a better place to live. If I ran into trouble, these are the kind of people I'd love to back me up.

...

About Scott Bakula: I think he was a great choice to play Archer, but it did not always work. The temporal cold war diminished the Enterprise crew by shifting the focus to more powerful, 29th century players. There also seemed a strong impulse to have Archer carry the weight of Captains Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard, to be a strong, bold presence, and this doesn't fit Bakula: had they developed him more as a likeable "coach" or mentor for his crew, the way it was hinted in Season 1 episodes like "Fortunate Son" as a mentor for Mayweather, or "Vox Sola" as captain of his water polo team, Bakula would have found his niche.

....

Characterizing the Villians:

Enterprise's best run was the early episodes 1 to 13 in Season 1, starting with probably the best Star Trek pilot in "Broken Bow" and ending with "Dear Doctor": episodes that for the most part felt fresh, before space travel became routine like in Season 2. However, even after some great story arcs in Seasons 3 & 4, the antagonists in the episodes still felt "comic bookish" or "cartoony". It was "good guys vs bad guys", instead of nuanced, multi-layered people with opposing interests. A great example is V'Las, the Vulcan leader in "The Forge", who shows only lust for power and a lot of un-Vulcan emotional outbursts, while his motives for siding with the Romulans are less clear. In the end, many contests can be sifted to show "good" motives versus "evil" motives, but more 3 dimensional antagonists would have given Enterprise the depth and weight of BSG or DS9.

Regards,

Dean
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DeanGrr
Wed, Oct 20, 2010, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

I like to come back every now and then and re-read episode reviews after re-watching one, whether BSG or Star Trek, and rethinking my old comments or seeing new ones from others.

With my old comment above, I apologize, because I think I was trying to understand why I enjoy scifi so much,as compared to other genres, and despite my criticism of BSG, I enjoyed parts of it immensely. The dark tone of the series, and trying to understand BSG's hype and popularity with the media, are of interest to me because of my love for Star Trek's depiction of what humanity can become.

I'm concerned about the Environment and what we are doing to Earth, and scifi often depicts technology as a solution, as well as a maturity for the human species, in that we gain the wisdom to care for the Earth, and be more understanding, loving and tolerant of others: quite different from much in our societies and economies, our cultural and self awareness, we live in today.

Regards,

Dean
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DeanGrr
Tue, Jun 29, 2010, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

I've just re-watched much of the BSG series, and wanted to share a few thoughts:

The best parts of this series, for me, were the deep connections/relationships between characters such as Adama and his son, Lee, and Adama and Tigh, the rich character landscape in developing supporting characters like Doc Cottle, Kat and Anders (who became a regular in Season 4), and the realistic potrayal of the military on an aircraft carrier/battlestar - the atmosphere of Adama commanding the CIC is classic.

This is Ron D. Moore and company's creation, so they ended the story as they saw fit, but there a few thoughts on why the series could not last longer, or parts that did not work for me in the end. First, BSG is famous for shocking revelations and there's only so much Shock and Awe an audience can accept before you become desensitized. The Dark tone of the series, feels at times like a "mind frak", with both Kara and Chief Tyrol descending into near madness, Kara as a result of Leoben's dollhouse in Season 3 and her search for Earth in Season 4, and Tyrol as a result of discovering he's a cylon, losing his sense of identity, then losing Cally. This dark tone is something that can only be sustained so long, then people need a positive balance: like the shock of 9/11, people want to recover from that loss, not wallow in darkness indefinitely.

Finally, Kara as a angel/supernatural being, and the fleet abandoning all technology broke my suspension of disbelief: deus ex machina by supernatural beings, especially the spiteful/amoral manipulations of Head Six on
Baltar, were a little too much.

As you can see, I am fan enough of the series to know and critique it. I suppose part of my wish fufillment in sci fi is seeing a ship like Galactica that can jump away from all the mess that we have on Earth, and imagine different possibilities.

Regards,
Dean
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DeanGrr
Sat, Jun 12, 2010, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: Sine Qua Non

I've re-watched parts of BSG, and wanted to comment on the actions of Lee and Romo in this episode. It seems out of character for Romo to go unhinged, but it seems to me that Romo, being an expert on human nature and a master at tricking others, could easily trick himself. His defense of Baltar could affirm his own cynicism towards human nature, as in he could manipulate the system to get (a partly guilty) Baltar acquitted.

However, that's not the whole story, as Lee so eloquently stated in Baltar's trial, that many in the fleet want to flush their own guilt and shame at surrendering to the Cylons by flushing Baltar out an airlock and justice is not entirely served by either Baltar's guilt or acquittal: it's a messy situation, the kind BSG revels in.

Romo felt guilty about abandoning his family on Caprica, to save himself, and doesn't feel he has much to live for, that humanity isn't worth saving. Killing Lee would be killing hope in a sense, and Romo's own cynicism would make it hard to believe Lee did not have another motive. Lee's commitment to make a difference, despite his own and his culture's past failings, re-affirms hope and the best part of human nature: Romo wants to live, but you need something to live for, a future you can live with. This is one of the best moments for me in the series.
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