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Dreubarik
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 7:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Luis Dantas "Michael's fate sounds so undeserved that she herself falls just short of pointing out that it is indeed unearned. This Starfleet may well be idealistic, but it is shown to be too lenient with serious breaches of discipline and protocol. Which, again, makes it look a lot more like a Rebel Alliance than a Starfleet proper."

Even more surprising: it isn't just that Michael disobeyed orders and protocol but somehow she was proven right. All of her actions in the finale are wrong:

- Her initial plan to take over the ship fails.

- She then endangers the entire Federation by asking Vance to let Discovery go. Let us emphasize that she does this without having a plan to get back the ship, even though she suggests to the admiral that she does. Vance is still completely incompetent and reckless for agreeing with her, but she still does something completely improper of a Starfleet officer just to save her skin and her friends'. The fact that Booker can later interact with the Spore Drive actually emphasizes this point: The idea that simply ejecting Stamets from the ship makes the Spore Drive inoperable is a hubristic, missguided tactical assumption in a century in which many beings could have the ability to activate it (including her boyfriend).

- She ejects the warp core unnecessarily before doing an untested spore jump, thus putting all of her crew at risk for no reason other than murdering a bunch of people on the enemy ship (sure, Emerald Chain people, but still people).

The only reason she is victorious is because the plot yields that necessary result after a series of nonsensical action developments. But her actual actions would suggest that a demotion, not a promotion, was the right decision here. So the issue isn't just that the Federation is lax when it comes to the chain of command, it is also deeply reckless in the actions it takes and how they could affect billions of lives.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 9:05am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

I'm having trouble recovering from this. I just don't know how to react anymore. So much of the conversation over the past few years has been over whether this is a good Star Trek show, and later whether this is a good sci fi show. At this point, I can't understand how anyone can think this is a decent show, period, of any sort. Even as brainless action entertainment, I can't see anything compelling about it. Yet I can see online that some people do like it, which reveals my own faults at failing to perceive any virtue in this show. I can see that some people even liked this episode, which in my mind is close to the worst thing I've ever seen (in terms of plotting, payoffs, choreography etc). I need to reflect on that.

I'll only say, in reference to those here that mentioned Galaxy Quest. Even the GC catchphrase is in this episode: "Never give up, never surrender!".
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

@Chris L. I couldn't agree more. There is a mainstream economics/commentariat obsession in analyzing capitalism through the lens of scarcity (hence "the market") when in fact capitalism's virtue resides in mass production to create abundance, so it is very badly suited to deal with situations involving limited resources. The idea that such a shock fosters capitalism seems far-fetched and hasn't been depicted on the show, which is why I think the writers call it "capitalism" without understanding what "capitalism" is.

@Nick Yes, "legitimacy" is the excuse that the dialogue uses to justify this. But why would the legitimacy of a foreign power matter at all for the worlds under the Chain's command? The idea that ceding power to a foreign faction somehow cements the Wicked Witch's position is preposterous, if anything it would unify the status quo against her. If anything, it isn't the Federation's "legitimacy" that people in those worlds crave, but its superior material conditions. It is very unclear whether those would be made accessible to them, especially given that we have to assume that those conditions don't come from greater natural wealth (the Federation doesn't seem to have more of those than the Chain) but from a series of power imbalances that the Chain should be throughly commited to preserving. The whole thing is ridiculous.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 9:00am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

While there was the semblance of an intelligent idea lurking in the background, this was all very dumb.

- The Die Hard action plot (I bet they knew this was going to be released around Christmas and decided to go for a self-satisfied homage) undermined the rest of the episode. If you as a viewer were ever invested in the Chain-Federation negotiations, then you couldn't really root for Tilly and Burnham to succeed in retaking the ship and potentially derail an accord. At best, the revolt aboard Discovery was meaningless, at worst it meant that the important part the episode was pointless.

- As many have pointed out, the belief that the Wicked Witch of the West would steal the ship to then bring it into Federation space to negotiate peace is ludicrous. Either the negotiation is done in exchange for her getting her hands on the Spore Drive or she already has the Spore Drive and she doesn't need to negotiate. It showcases that, for all of their alleged wokeness, the writers don't understand that politics is about power and not people being suddenly convinced that the opposing side is correct. Even if the Wicked Witch of the West had always been secretely sold on Federation ideals or thought those would cement her power, there is no chance in hell she would be allowed by her organization to make any concessions to a rival power at a time when the Emerald Chain is winning in every respect (they seem to have military and economic superiority, and now even technological superiority thanks to the Spore Drive). It would have made a lot more sense if it was the INABILITY to control the Spore Drive that led to the Chain wanting peace. Something Star Trek VI did well is to depict the peace with the Klingons as being caused by them being placed in a position of inferiority after the Praxis disaster. It is then that the political opportunists can make peace (mirroring the USSR).

- What is even being negotiated here? At different points it seems to switch from an armistice to fully-fledged political integration. Somebody should tell the writers that these arrangements are polar opposites. Of course, the implications of either are impossible to fathom because neither the Federation nor the Chain have been fleshed out as organizations. The Chain is particulary hard to understand: Are they a crime syndicate, a predatory corporation more akin to the East India Company or a true empire? The implication here is that they do exercise some sort of representative role for the worlds they control, but it is all nonsensical because the writers have never bothered even thinking about these issues. The Federation is an admiral in a corridor and people passing by, and the Chain is a cartoon villain and her goons shooting guns. Nothing can be taken seriously.

- And here we get to the actual interesting idea lurking behind the nonsense: Does the Federation need to accept a different kind of economic organization in a society in which scarcity has returned? Does it need to accept capitalism? The problem is that, as none of this has ever been shown on the series, we don't really know how the economic organization of any world works in the 31st century. We need to take the word of two characters in a room in a 3-minute conversation to get any notion of what it all means. Now, wouldn't THIS have been a worthy subject to investigate from the beginning of the season? (though I have news for the writers: capitalism isn't reduced to mercantile organizations trading for profit, this existed on Earth for centuries before actual capitalism developed. So saying that the Chain is "capitalist" is at this point totally unjustified).

- I will add that I am somewhat distressed by the answer that the writers seem to be providing: That the Federation must indeed accept capitalism as a necessary evil. To be clear, I do agree that this may be the case today (though I reiterate that the writers don't understand what "capitalism" is) but it is concerning that such a moral is being applied with little discussion to a utopian future shaken by a natural-resource disaster. It is the latest example that showcases that NuTrek writers may be openly progressive, but they are also unconsciously deeply neoliberal.
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Dreubarik
Sun, Dec 27, 2020, 4:45am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

I would add two other reasons to watch this show even if you think it's bad:

- To understand the current dynamics of television production and franchise management. Kurtzman Star Trek is a very interesting (if soul destroying) case study of this, and studying its progression (how the show tries and fails to pivot, for example) is quite fascinating.

- To get a better grasp of mainstream Hollywood progressivism nowadays and how those ideas are evolving. There is a very clear evolution from an anti-colonial "Prime Directive" as conceptualized in the 60s and 80s to Picard taking out a "Romulans Only" sign at a bar run by poor refugees.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 9:05am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

@theBgt You make a key point about Adira's relationship with Grey being uninteresting. And I do believe Adira was the most promising character this season and that "Forget Me Not" was the only good episode. But when Grey started appearing to her, I made the (I believe, logical) assumption that the writers would use that to explore Adira's own difficulty as a teenager coping with the multiplicity of adult trill lives within their consciousness.

Instead, it seems that they have opted to treat Adira-Grey as a regular relationship, with the only difference being that Grey can choose to disappear. This is a baffling decision by the writers, because the viewers can't possibly care about a relationship that is just a memory. Are they going to move in together? Break up? Eventually have children? What possible investment can viewers have in a relationship that can't move forward because it's made up? It is as if, in DS9's "Field of Fire", the focus of the episode had been in Ezri's relationship with Joran rather than Ezri's struggle with herself. It would have made no sense.

Perhaps I'm wrong and we will get some real development out of Adira yet. But the writers' belief that being a trill equals talking to dead people, rather than becoming a whole new person, is just exasperating. It clearly comes from having watched the two DS9 episodes in which that storytelling device was used ("Facets" and "Field of Fire") without understanding what the point was.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Dec 25, 2020, 7:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

It's funny, there were a number of things that I appreciated in this episode, most of them stemming from Norma Bailey's direction.

- For the first time that I can remember in an STD episode, there are finally decent exterior shots of the starships that allow the viewers to understand what is going on. There is even a simple tracking shot of the Discovery that doesn't include other crap in the screen. I don't remember any previous episode ever following this route, rather than following up on the J. J. Abrams school of half-showing parts of the titular ship in between lens flares and lasers and thousands of moving objects. Finally.

- Similarly, the camera frames people in the bridge in coherent ways that allowed me to understand what was going on. A combination of wide shots and close-ups was effective at conveying where the captain was, where everyone else was and what each officer was expected to accomplish (of course, all of those characters are irrelevant ciphers, but that's not this episode's fault). I also can't remember many previous STD episodes doing this, rather than framing the bridge like a chaotic night club dance floor. It may be a small feat, but one that came as a big relief nonetheless.

- Some more universe building when it comes to the Kelpians, which I believe at this point are the only semi-reasonably developed species on this show.

- It placed characters other than Michael Burnham in situations in which they had goals to accomplish on their own rather than being simple spectators of whatever Michael Burnham was doing (even if Michael Burnham was still the only one to complete them successfully). We get to watch Tilly's strengths and weaknesses as a captain rather than having the characters or the technobabble explaining them to us. Adira finally does something.

- The villains are ridiculous carboards (the The Wicked Witch of The West is particularly dreadful) but at least they have an understandable motivation here: capture the Spore Drive, which should be a piece of technology that everyone in this post-warp century should be trying to study and replicate. The big question remains, of course, why isn't Starfleet doing just that.

- The concept of an alien child growing up alone protected by simulations is at least somewhat interesting, even if lifted from TNG's "Future Imperfect".

Don't get me wrong, the end result was a bad episode, because the script is just plain horrible. And I'd swear SMG's acting is getting worse as the show progresses. It has gotten to a ludicrous point. This is still one of the worst shows on television at the moment. I'm just glad this episode wasn't directed by a pseudo-random generator algorithm.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 9:17am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

I was honestly expecting him to start using the portal to bring us previews of the next Star Trek shows in production by CBS.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 8:53am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

The Guardian of Forever is now an in-your-face exposition machine for bad franchise plots.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 9:31am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 1

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned it yet, but the CGI effect in which Georgiou "decomplies" as if she were a hologram is totally ridiculous.
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Dreubarik
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 9:07am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

What is particularly puzzling about this episode is that it didn't need all of its problematic elements to work. It could have been made clear from the beginning that the Cardassian doctor is just a walking database that Doc uses to bounce ideas off, with a simulated personality just like any holodeck character, and drop the scenes where he literally performs the surgery itself etc.

In fact, the episode would have been so much STRONGER if it was made clear that it is the DATA that is in contention and not this simulated recreation. As Jammer mentions, Doc surely uses a lot of data that also comes from unethical practices in his everyday procedures. But the question remains: What to do when you suddenly KNOW that to be the case? Should they have erased all of the datafiles in question from the computer and Doc's memory, and let him try his hand without it? The episode could have been outstanding when written this way. It was likely a case of underestimating the audience and wanting to take it all to an excessive literality.
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Dreubarik
Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Since someone complained about this turning into Reddit: I posted my first comment here also on r/StarTrek and it was removed by moderators after less than 10 minutes. I certainly didn't think I was being offensive when I expressed my disappointment at how the Adira moment was handled. Since Jammer included similar thoughts in his review, I'm going to say that my point was at least worthy of being discussed.

Just to remark that it is good this site offers a bit more leeway.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 1:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

@Mike C But it is always framed as looking at the struggles of the distant past! In this case, the awkward situation was in the present. That is precisely the point.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 9:26am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Apu is clearly meant to be a positive character from the onset and to make the viewer sympathize with Indian-Americans. But the point is that this inclusion is done by underscoring his Indian-ness. Then, later in the show, his struggle as an immigrant is focused upon to raise sympathy for

Star Trek's method of inclusion has always been different. The struggles of present day are always depicted as metaphors that affect alien species, not dealt with explicitly, because it wants to present a future in which we as the human race have overcome such issues. This is a tremendously powerful message that can only be delivered within science fiction. The moment that Adira has to explain herself to other 23rd century humans you are debasing this power.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 6:15am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

@Maddy I totally respect that this inclusion was very important for you, and perhaps we must all remember that any form of attempt to depict a minorized collective in fiction has a positive impact relative to the counterfactual in which they are not depicted at all. Back in the day, for example, the inclusion of Apu on The Simpsons was broadly welcome by the Indan-American community, even if it has since then become a much more controversial portrayal due to its stereotypical nature.

But I also think that we must analyze the effectiveness of Star Trek's use of inclusion as its own thing. If TOS had featured a very stereotypical Indan-American like Apu and all the characters openly remarked upon the fact that person was Indian-American, it may have still been better than nothing, but in my opinion it would have lost part of what makes Trek's inclusion powerful: the notion than in the future nobody is minorized anymore.

This is what happened in this episode. It's not, as some people have pointed out here, a throwaway comment (which, to be truly throwaway should have happened right of the bat when Adira was introduced and, ideally, before they were properly joined as a Trill). The episode depicts it with the same moment of awkwardness that would likely happen today when a non-binary person comes out to their tolerant colleagues. And then spends another scene remarking the "they" thing many times over.

To sum up: I do appreciate that doing it this way may be better than not doing it. But in my view it is worse than doing it the real Star Trek way: assume that non-binary people are just a common thing in the future and that people always ask for preferred pronouns right off the bat. Judging by how social themes are usually handled by the writers of STD, this strikes me as yet another iteration of them preferring to hit viewers over the head to flaunt their own progressiveness rather than using the full power of science fiction to enhance the message.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 7:13am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

I am VERY bothered by the fact that they had Adira come out in this episode, and that it all happened in an akward manner in which the characters had to explain themselves (rather than it being assumed as status quo). It goes against everything that Star Trek is supposed to be (like most of Kurtzman Trek).

The people writing these shows still haven't understood that the ideological conquests of Trek are all about building gramscian cultural hegemony on screen (ie showing a future in which social conquests are the status quo), and then debating the social issues du jour via the "others" (alien races). These writers, in their attempt to dangle their progressivism in front of viewers' faces, are cheapening the very same message they purport to defend.
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Dreubarik
Mon, Nov 23, 2020, 4:47am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Distant Origin

This episode is a good reminder of why even the weaker iterations of Trek were better than this new Kurtzman crap: Even episodes that appeared flawed around the time they aired (such as this one, because it strained credulity) are now great when rewatched more than a decade later. The themes are timless and the story has a real heart that will continue to ensure its relevance.
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Dreubarik
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 8:34am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

I asolutely LOVE this episode. Beyond how well it is used to analyze one of the show's protagonists, it is a wonderful devastating commentary on technocracy, the rule of the sage elites and the false promise of social science (appropiately dissecting the difference between "risk," as portrayed by games of chance, and the "epistemic uncertainty" that characterizes the real world and foils attempts to make predictions about human societies). An incredibly relevant episode from the perspective of political commentary and one that many in academia should be compelled to watch. In the Top 5 DS9 episodes for me. Bravo.
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Dreubarik
Sun, Sep 20, 2020, 8:53am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

Actually, the fact that the Dominion fleet engages the Allied fleet a few light years away from DS9 makes sense within the premise of the show: Sisko's main goal is to disable DS9's anti-graviton emitter to prevent the Dominion fleet from deactivating the minefield. It is stated that he wants to reach DS9 with enough ships to do so even if the overall battle doesn't go well. So it would make no sense for the Dominion to wage battle at a location where any potshot from a random enemy vessel could have disabled the emitter.

What DOESN'T quite make sense about this premise is the fact that DS9's deflector is made to be so special because it can be turned into an anti-graviton emitter. Surely, any large vessel's deflector array could do the same, or an appropiate device could be shipped from Cardassia. At no point is there any reason to believe that Terok Nor's deflector technology is somehow special.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Sep 19, 2020, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Rocks and Shoals

One of the best DS9 episodes ever made. Perhaps a scene that doesn't get noticed enough but is key for the story's thematic undertone is when Sisko first meets the Jem'Hadar Third and tries to manipulate him to serve his own ends (a fact Dax them comments on). The core of the episode seems to be about how war is fundamentally about manipulating the troops to do the bidding of the higher echelons without regard for their own lives. This is what "the order of things" inevitably is, and Sisko isn't above it either. In the end, however, Sisko's actions do show that there is indeed more to war than that.
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Dreubarik
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Things Past

Another for the "much stronger than I remembered category." A lot of interesting thoughts about the nature of imperialism are present in this episode, mostly through Garak's dialogue. The core of the story is of course examining Odo's character and his guilt about allowing his love of "order" to go too far, but a second viewing reveals how this is very neatly integrated into an analysis of how the rule of law is fundamentally unfair in context of opression, in which a nation's right to self-determination is being supressed by an invader.

The teaser in the runabout is actually very relevant to the theme: Garak is discussing how he was annoyed that, at a symposium about the Cardassian occupation, his attempts to rationally analyze the occupation were irately shot down by a crown of over-emotional Bajorans--and later reveals his distaste about the Bajorans being fundamentally uncivilized for creating chaos. All in all, a wonderful examination of imperialism and how the high-minded concepts of dispassionate social analysis, including "justice" and the "rule of law," tend to be a luxury of the opressors.
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Dreubarik
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 7:28am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: For the Cause

I agree with the comment above and I think people like Elliott are missing the point. On rewatch, it is a stronger episode than I remembered it to be, even though the B-plot (while not bad) absorbs needed time to make the A-story even stronger.

This is a story about how the Federation, which is in essence a socialist utopia, deals with libertarianism (using both the maquis in general as represented by Eddington and the Sisko-Yates relationship more specifically), and how there is value to personal freedom even after all your material needs have been met. Reducing it to "the maquis are adolescent idiots because everything would be provided for them in the Federation" makes the common mistake of seeing people as "homo economicus", rather than recognizing that some people legitimately search for meaning outside of societal rules, even when those rules are close to the ideal.

Of course, DS9 ultimately sides with the Federation: Warmongering is indeed a step too far for the defense of those values. But highlighting the imperialist tension that comes with an imposition of "modernity," even when that modernity is an idealized roddenberrian paradise, is a great thing for Star Trek to do.

The episode (and generally the maquis plot) should make the point about economic needs having already been met more explictly. But I think this is more a case of Star Trek writers in the 1990s assuming that it was already very implicit in how the Federation is presented than a result of them not having it in mind.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jul 24, 2020, 5:50am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

How times have changed! Back in the day this was just a bad episode. It hasn't become good in hindsight, but it does make me miss the days in which Star Trek was a sandbox for these sorts of high level ideas to be tested out. Misses like "Masks" were the price to pay for a unique kind of show that allowed for scripts that tried to work at an intellectual level. Current Star Trek is all cliched nonsense written for and by extremely dumb people.
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Dreubarik
Sun, Jul 5, 2020, 4:25am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

On rewatch, this is a much, MUCH stronger episode than I remembered it to be. Riffing off some of the comments made here, I read the story as a scathing criticism of the "male gaze" and a deeply pessimistic take on how men can ultimately only process relationships as a satisfaction of their own ego.

While it is true that what happened on the last night is left ambiguous, to me it is clear that the writers wanted to imply that Picard did sleep with her. Not that it is necessary to assume so to make this read of the episode: He convinces himself that the metamorph has truly become independent of thought thanks to him, and that therefore she would belong with him if it weren't for duty and obligation. Picard epitomizes the enlightened man, who does not succumb to the base instincts of less evolved males (and we see the contrast being drawn directly with the "lower class" men on Ten Forward) and can in theory establish a deeper connection with the woman, based on their mutual desires and intellectual interests.

But the story shows us that it is all a lie: As many have pointed out here, the metamorph is designed to satisfy the desires of the partner and always tell tem what they want to hear, and in Picard's case this means stating how she has now outgrown what she was and has bonded with him forever, on a deeper level. The script has Picard (whom we could define for story purposes as "the best among men") falling for his own egotistical conceptions of relationships just like anyone less evolved would. It thus tells us that, ultimately, men are doomed to seek out egotistical validation from their partners, and whatever intellectual justifications are built on top of that are lies.

Of course, the message need not be gendered, as it could in any number of ways. But the scenes with Crusher and Picard's initial justification of relationships being used as political contracts in many cultures leads me to believe that it was meant as an examination of the male psyche in particular. At any rate, a deeply thoughtful piece of writing hiding under the guise of a TOS-like episode. Kudos.
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