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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

For the record, check IMDb and it says Jeri Ryan is to be in all episodes till the end, since episode 4. I think Trent is seriously making unnecessary assumptions.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Trent says //She has nothing to do with Picard's arc. This is a terrible way to integrate Seven into this story. She's a kind of throwaway McGuffin.//

I think these words are stupid and idiotic.
Jean Luc was Locutus.
Hugh is an ex-Borg.
Seven is an ex-Borg.
Icheb was an ex-Borg. This show is about artificial intelligence. This show is so far about Romulans and the Borg...
NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY??? Throwaway McGuffin... ???

//She just randomly turns up at the precise moment Picard needs a Borg bargaining chip to use on hokey gangsters. Then she goes.//

You mean after a decade returning from the delta quadrant, it is NOT impossible for Seven to just show up? Have you even checked IMDB if Jeri Ryan will come back or are you making unnecessary assumptions based on your stupid words?
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Bob Bobness
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Rules of Acquisition

@William B
I'm five years late to the party, but I just want to express my appreciation for your excellent analysis of what is possibly my favourite episode in -- obviously (I mean, let's get real) -- the best Star Trek. And before all y'all get your knickers in a twist, that's *favourite* episode, not greatest (similarly, my favourite Buffy is Beer Bad).

The only significant refinement to your argument that I would suggest is that frailty and -- from the point of view of the writers -- vulnerability play an even bigger role in how the characters behave than you give credit for.

Let's go down the list:

Odo -- Odo's self-image is essentially as the uncorruptible lawman, but he tends to break his own self-defined character pretty easily if it's Kira or -- as it turns out here -- family. And his comment about his imaginary brother is a BFD, because it's that part of him that's going to be tested to the limit. I draw a straight line from this first spur-of-the-moment, possibly-not-even-previously-considered notion of family by Odo to his finest moment (and I'd say *the* most powerful moment) in the entire series, in The Die Is Cast): "I want to go home."

Inglatu/Zyree -- Why doesn't Inglatu just try to set himself up as a go-between and skim off the middle? Why does Zyree have to go behind the scenes to get a one-time score, instead of getting in on the action on a permanent basis? Answer: the Dosi aren't just serious about profit like the Ferengi, they're also serious about their entrenched gender bias. Inglatu lets his toxic masculinity get in the way of his capitalism. He's too damn proud to be the middle man! He's got to be the big man.


Quark -- Why does Quark kiss Pel? Please. Quark is seriously sex-deprived. He is already getting turned on by her way early in the episode (I'm betting his sense of smell is telling him things the rest of him doesn't want to hear). And while he doesn't appear to be particularly bothered by the *idea* of homosexuality, he is still VERY uncomfortable when supposedly-male Pel comes on to him. Why?

He's straight, that's all. If you want a really good analogue to this episode, it's Black Adder II: Bells (and yes, @Diamond Dave, you're damned right that DS9 is Shakespearean). And I suspect that -- just like in England -- it's common knowledge on Ferenginar that half the elite is on the down-low. What else do you expect is gonna happen if you deprive the whole female population of education?


Pel -- One of the absolute best characters to only appear once. If she were just a 2-D shoulder-padded super-capitalist, her once-in-a-generation business acumen would be the same sort of facile hand-waving that makes (all that I could stomach of) Voyager and most of Pepsi Generation so unwatchable. No, the reason she is so impressive is that she is totally believable. So strong, so determined, so amazingly talented, and consequently so completely isolated. She knows what she wants, and crucially, it's not really that much -- a thriving business, and a sexual partner that she can respect.

The scene with the Grand Nagus is only unrealistic if you expect her to have limitless ambition. She is in a very good position to infiltrate his circle and make some serious latinum. But that would mean a hell of a lot more stress, and much more dangerous consequences if she is exposed: palace intrigues, blackmail opportunities, and -- remember, this stuff is filmed in LA -- sexual exploitation.

That's too much. That's not what she's after. She just wants a normal middle-class existence like your average Joe Ferengi. And she came to DS9 in the first place because there was a business that would hire Ferengis, but not so many of them that she'd have to spend all her energy worrying about being outed. Unfortunately for her, Odo's vigilance has already impelled Quark to force Nog to take that locksmithing course.

So she gets there and she gets hot for Quark. She calls it love, but is it? Maybe, maybe not. But then, something extraordinary happens at the Dosi market: Quark dumps the vat of wine.

***
Think about it. Under normal circumstances, that would be laughably out of character. Quark just does not have the stones for that sort of thing. But what if this isn't just a throwaway episode to slyly introduce the Dominion, but a real labour of love, meticulously- and brilliantly-written. I said Rules wasn't the greatest; I didn't say that it wasn't great.
***

Quark is used to living on the fringes, and being denigrated for not being man enough, in a commercial sense by his own people, and otherwise for lack of height. Pel gives him a shot of confidence, and also models really effective -- frankly, ballsy -- negotiating technique. And Quark picks up on it! After being embarrassingly obsequious to Zek, and needing Pel to rescue him every damn time, he handles the (massive, violent) Dosi like a pro. He is a total badass.

And I don't think that it's just that he's learning from Pel, and encouraged by her confidence in him. I think he's got that new relationship energy going. He might not know what's happening to him, but his nose does. And it's not a one-off either. When her gets back to DS9, he handles Zek easily. Twice.

But getting back to Pel:

How encouraging must this all be? Maybe it was a crush at first, but now it's an intoxicating mix of hormones, respect and opportunism (she is still Ferengi). If she can seduce him before they get back to DS9, she's won. In fact, she has hit the jackpot: just the right amount more than exactly what she wanted, with the unexpected bonus being that her partner is the shit, and she *makes* him the shit.

That's about as much as anyone could or should ask from life.

And then it doesn't work out. Thankfully, this *isn't* Shakespeare, so there aren't any corpses. But how should she proceed? Back to nudity and subservience? No effing way. Become Zek's grand vizier? Like I said above, a very bad move, and Pel has already shown that she just doesn't make those. What's left? Exile. She's already gone to the back of beyond by coming to DS9, and that wasn't far enough. Now she'll have to go further.

Is she pissed? Damn right she's pissed. But she is also in a position that she will never be in again. She's got personal access to the Grand Nagus (and it may be that she has already gamed out exactly what happens; remember, she's good at this). So she makes a scene, because it is the best opportunity that she is ever likely to have to influence Ferengi politics and culture. She's not going to see the change, but she just might plant that little seed, that will one day be the change.

Now maybe if she were a different person, she would have taken a different path. Gotten married, exerted indirect influence, maybe even found herself recruited into a crypto-feminist cell. But she isn't. She is an adventurer, an intrepid.

Good on her.


Zek: Unlike the people above, the Grand Nagus is completely secure in his position. When he puts the moves on Kira, he probably rates his chances at an optimistic 1%. But what's the downside? It doesn't work, he gets in a pinch for fun, but he knows exactly how far to push his luck -- he is the Nagus for a reason.

But his last line, that's different. It's not just funny because Wallace Shawn has a silly voice. He's really shocked, and it's that moment where he is both a ludicrous old letch and the supreme leader of his people that let's us glimpse the profound wrongness and disconnect that lurks at the heart of all the best jokes.

His job isn't just to be the richest Ferengi. The Nagus must also be the paragon of Ferengi virtue. Pel strikes at the heart of his identity, both personally and as head of state. It's a moment he is going to remember, one way or the other. I think that if Quark wasn't standing right there, Pel would be smirking with satisfaction once Zek left the room.

As it is, she just has to be content with mercilessly lifting Quark's latinum, and
YES YOU BET YOUR SWEET BOOTS THAT'S A DOUBLE-ENTENDRE.

***

There is only one character who really doesn't have these issues, and that's Dax. And since she is not susceptible to the main driver of the whole damn episode, that means that she can stand outside it all, and see what's going on. To go back to the Shakespeare comparison, she is the herald, and -- solidly in that tradition -- she is given the last word: "Nice try, Quark, but I know you better than that."

So, to conclude:
If you look at the characters' weaknesses, you end up further elucidating the writers' stance on the corrosive effects of societal gender imparity. Neat, huh?

+++++

Finally, a side point to the general viewership round these parts: quit your hating on the Dosi. Inglatu and Zyee are awesome, in the true DS9 way. Why do we all like Weyoun ? It's not just that he's funny, it's that he's indestructibly, looney-tune-cartoony funny ("My, that really is toxic!").


Booyah.
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Bold Helmsman
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

@Trent

Don't you think it's a little quick to say Seven won't be involved in the Borg plot?
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

" I guess they haven't installed a holosuite on the cube so maybe sliding on wet floors will have to do."

Maybe what was so exciting was how much the music played every time they slid, like it was a private discoteque or something. No wonder he likes it so much, there's a whole orchestra in those Borg walls. Must be a music saturation chamber nearby.
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skye francis-maidstone
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Agreed. I feel like the brother and sister thing is trying way too hard be Jamie and Cersei Lannister. She even talks very much like her. Their whole plot is dull.

I don't mind him and the data daughter so much though. Even the sliding scene was tolerable. I guess they haven't installed a holosuite on the cube so maybe sliding on wet floors will have to do.
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Trent
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

R said: "I was pleasantly surprised by how they've handled Seven of Nine" and Drea said: "Wow. Effective arc-based storytelling at last!"

How so? Seven is an ex Borg in a show about the Borg whose appearance on the show is completely incidental to, and unrelated to, the show's plot about the Romulan and Borg.

She just randomly turns up at the precise moment Picard needs a Borg bargaining chip to use on hokey gangsters. Then she goes.

She has nothing to do with Picard's arc.

This is a terrible way to integrate Seven into this story. She's a kind of throwaway McGuffin.
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Mike W
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

What an episode. Was i the only one who clued at the beginning, when evil lady said “where’s that cortical node?” Icheb didn’t have one, because Seven now has it.
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Drea
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Wow. Effective arc-based storytelling at last!

Seven becoming a vigilante in the wake of the Federation abandoning the Neutral Zone makes perfect sense, especially when the Zone becomes a hotbed for harvesting former Borg. Stardust City reminds me of the Planet of Galactic Peace in STV (a bad movie, largely because it *doesn't* wind up concerning that world's characters). It's exactly what happens in the Federation's absence, like with Yar's home planet. Fridging Icheb is probably the best narrative use for his character, since the series clearly wouldn't have space for any larger role, but Voyager built enough attachment that we're genuinely angry to see him butchered.

I dislike the gratuitous brutality in how we watched Icheb dissected. Part of what made 20th-century Trek important was that kids could see politics and ethics play out in ways that, depending on their geography and community, they otherwise might not. But this just plain isn't suitable for kids. Frankly, *I* was looking away from the screen. It is possible to tell this dark story and still make it family friendly; it's just a choice not to.

I didn't anticipate goodness from the "wacky caper" hints of the preview, but both the comedy and the character beats wound up working for me. We see the costs that pursuing the truth had on Raffi and her family. We see Rios' shrewdness--and I now wonder again whether he's a hologram. Elnor feels out of place and unnecessary (if he's not a highly effective combat backup, why is he there?). And Picard--Picard does what he's always done best. He makes a rousing speech in favor of our better angels, a speech that finds a peaceful solution. Then we see that solution given lip service and ignored as soon as Picard leaves. I wonder how many times people did the same thing after the Enterprise flew away in TNG.

I'm a bit disappointed that Agnes does indeed turn out to be a mole, but at least she's a mole with a heart and a conscience. Clearly she believes whatever the Tal'Shiar showed her about the consequences of positronic research, and she hates herself both for what she's done and what she now feels she needs to do. She's not built for this. It also means we may get a change of heart if she's given new evidence or pushed to harm additional people.

Starting next episode, we have our characters at last in the same place! Looking forward.

3.5 stars
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Chrome
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 11:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

No one’s mentioned this yet, but it looks like they were telling us that Jurati and Maddox used to be a couple. Killing someone that close to you seems a bit of a stretch, even if it’s a matter of duty to Starfleet. So, we’re pretty sure Jurati is being controlled like the way Geordi was in “The Mind’s Eye”, right?
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QueenOfTheBees
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 11:00am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Stigma

"After all, it's not as if AIDS research has been halted because governments don't feel a need to cure those who were unlucky enough to contract it, or because they don't agree with the behavior of some who have it. The problem with AIDS is not that we don't care about a cure, but that we are not yet capable of providing one."

AIDS research was halted because it was seen as a gay disease. The AIDS epidemic wasn't something inevitable, it was created by state enforced ignorance. It wasn't until people started being less prejudice that the disease started being taken seriously which then led to it's infection rates decreasing.

I liked how T'pol refused to throw minorities under the bus for her own benefit. Let's say only gay people got HIV, should that then mean the stigma against people with it would be any more justified? Of course not! "It doesn't just effect minorities" should never be the sole reason for taking something seriously.
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Trent
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Halfway through each Disco season, you could sense that the payoff would be ridiculous and utterly random.

With Picard, you can already sense that the Romulan refugee situation will go AWOL, and that the show will work toward another goofy click-bait climax. I wouldnt be surprised if Q appears, impregnates Hugh and gives birth to some kind of trans-temporal Skynet/Control gobblygook. Or that the Romulans know of a Disco-S3 future in which all biological life is wiped out.
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Helmus
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

For me the best episode so far. I enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to next week!
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:56am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Spoilers
*tears for Icheb* very sad and very upsetting, very dark... like First Contact dark...
Is it really character assassination for Seven? And how does that gangster lady know about Annika? Quark's bar! Visual egg.
Since Icheb died and remember in the episode where the futuristic drone called One on Voyager... you could tell that Seven would want REVENGE.
How did it come to this? Why is Seven a vigilante?

Raffi and her son... a good character development and a good delving into her past and her relationships... her addictions and her troubles since the Mars incident...

Who did not see that coming? Dr Jurati and Maddox... that cruel end... Picard will find out soon...

Who likes Elnor? I do... We need good Romulans to fight against the bad Romulans. Hopefully Elnor stays grounded with Picard. Hopefully Laris and Zhaban
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.

Those are good questions, and we can't really address them because we don't know. All we know is a meeting that occurred off-camera caused Picard to feel so strongly about it that he said "this is not my Starfleet" and threatened to quit. This was the same Picard as we saw in Insurrection, so clearly something bugged him enough to do that. Or at least that's what I'm gathering. The message here seems to be something like that even if they were acting poorly he should have stayed in the organization if nothing else to be a voice of reason at the table. But whatever decision they made it seems they're portraying it as throwing all of the Romulans under the bus. Let's face it: talking about whether Geordi could have helped is a bit beside the point, in that what they're clearly going for here is a refugee analogy where if the big government doesn't do it then it doesn't get done. Yes, on a literal level there are perhaps many other ways to get things done, but this is the story they want to tell, and I don't think it's logical.

Regarding The Wounded vs Insurrection/FC, I suppose this is a matter of interpretation but with Insurrection we learned that a single Starfleet admiral had gone rogue, as they seemingly scrapped the script where all of Starfleet went bad. In FC it's because Picard had information Starfleet lacked that could save them. But I agree that he is shown to do the right thing even when Starfleet makes a mistake on occasion, but I feel like those occasions are exceptional. And I do personally believe that a Picardian Federation would not have prevented the Cardassian invasion planned in Chain of Command, that Captain Maxwell was trying to prevent.

But I guess this all skirts around the issue of what Captains could or could not do to help the Romulans. I don't think the writers thought as much about it as we are; they simply wrote that help for them was cancelled, and Picard had to personally choose whether to do it alone, and he didn't. I suppose a modern analogy would be whether Bill Gates could save a bunch of refugees even if the U.S. government said they could't come to America. Should Gates be hiding in obscurity over the shame of not having done so? Maybe, I guess. We could always argue that rich or powerful people *could* be out there risking it all to get refugees somewhere safe. And this isn't even an outrageous argument, but it's a different matter for it to be an open and shut case that he was WRONG and should be ashamed.
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Richard James
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:57am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

It's moving in the right direction, but still bogged down by slow movements to an end goal, rather than telling individual stories.

The Seven of Nine plot worked the best and that opening scene was pretty horrific. Jeri Ryan's has such screen presence and her character is just a million times more interesting than others, especially with her new viligante background. The poor man's oceans 11 scene on Freecloud a were a little pointless, but fun enough.

But honestly, any reservations I had for this episode melted away when Picard and Seven had that brief exchange on the transporter pad;
"Did you honestly feel you regained your humanity?"
"Yes"
"All of it?"
"No. But we're both working on it, arent we"
"Every damn day of my life"

More like this please!
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Burke
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Also: Seven becoming a vigilante makes more sense than becoming Mrs. Chakote. Just sayin'.
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Burke
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:41am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I'll just say this:

No scenes at the artifact, no Soji, no romulan brothers, and the best episode so far.

A coincidence, this is not.
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Trent
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I thought this was the worst episode thus far.

Here we open with yet another lazy flashback. 7of9 is attempting to save Icheb - a young character from "Voyager" - from a sinister organ harvester. She fails and mercy kills him instead. Like the last episode did to Picard, this new character is revealed to be a kind of foster son. 7of9 is herself revealed to be not the 7of9 Captain Janeway took under her wing and nurtured into something poised and composed, but an unhinged gunslinger, a sassy momma bear ("What the hell do you want, Picard?") bent on bloodlust and revenge. It feels like character assassination.

The show's insistence that 7of9 has spent the past two decades kicking ass in the beta quadrant, shooting smugglers, pirates and creeps like a Wild West Sheriff (she's literally a member of the Space Rangers!), is equally silly and mean-spirited.

Of course Star Trek always had a certain "horse opera" aspect to it, but hampered by budget restraints, past Trek tended to avoid boring literalism and/or plagerism. Today, as these limitations wither, a certain amount of mystique and imagination goes with it.

Picard and the gang then arrive in orbit over Free Cloud. Apparently, in the future, malware and commercial advertisements are powerful enough to override a ship's bridge holoprojectors. This is ridiculous.

Once on planet, the tropes come harder and faster. The planet looks like a cross between Kubrick's "AI", "BladeRunner", "Tron Legacy" and "Serenity". The plot henceforth follows the usual heist-movie-cliches, our wisecracking heroes dressing up and trading jibes while flashbacks delineate how and when things need to go down (in order for them to "rescue" Bruce Maddox from gangsters). That their plan merely involves tricking an alien's nose with space perfume, is a huge anti-climax.

Picard's "comical French rascal!" accent during these scenes is itself embarrassing. Here a series that wants to be solemn and serious has taken a break to offer a "fun" and "funny" "romp" of an episode, whilst simultaneously not realizing how grim and bloodthirsty the episode actually is. Shades of "Discovery's" overrated and tonally incompetent "Magic to Make the Sanest Man go Mad", where mass murder and whale headshots are played for laughs.

From low-rent "Mission Impossible"/"Firefly"/"Ocean's Eleven" we segue into "Dirty Harry". 7of9 transforms into a bloody killer, gunning down villains and henchmen in the name of avenging a character we barely know and don't care about. She then exits the show as quickly as she entered, another of Kurtzman's cynically concocted cameos.

But two walk-ons/walk-offs isn't enough. For this episode features Raffi - in her first piece of great acting in the show - meeting her long lost son and pregnant wife, confessing her love for them, and then getting rejected for being a druggie! Who cares about these people?

Continuing it, and "Discovery's", trend of piling unnecessary crap upon unnecessary crap, of introducing things only to immediately jettison them, the show ends with Maddox being acquired and then promptly being attacked (murdered?) by sleeper-cell Jurati/Ash. Shocking! Edgy! Gripping!

Aside from a few of Picard's righteous monologues, this series has been poorly written. Like each of "Discovery's" seasons, "Picard" opened with promise and cool ideas, but quickly revealed itself to be generic, tropey, hacky, and awash with bad melodrama. Like "Discovery", it seems hell-bent on ignoring or avoiding all the actually interesting ideas, philosophical and political topics it touches upon.

Each of its scripts has also been unbalanced, with arbitrary detours and unnecessary plot threads. Things which need space and weight are not given room to breath or develop. Things which should not exist are dwelt upon and given backstories. Endings are almost exclusively designed to shock, titillate and then be thrown away. Characters are introduced - never with skill or grace - only to be jettisoned, again without skill or grace.

This fragmented style of writing developed on TV soaps, and is today mostly the product of modern television financing and distribution, art now fully dictated by Borg algorithms, conveyor belts and moneymen. I wouldn't be surprised if this series eventually dove-tails into "Discovery's" third season. That kind of incestuous plotting and cross-pollinating is how Marvel and DC comics stayed alive and "spiced things up" in the 1970s and early 1980s. And "Picard", produced by a guy whose stated aim is to "turn Trek into Marvel", is obviously becoming more and more like "Discovery" as it goes ahead.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.,

"So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested."

If you mean off-the-books power, then sure, Picard had it. What I meant was that sticking within Starfleet rules he'd have had no power. But yes, he could have pulled a Kirk and just done whatever he wanted anyhow, stealing/using ships and crew who he'd knew would follow him. But it would have definitely been against Starfleet wishes, as they had definitively ruled against doing this. That would essentially be mass piracy then, though, which granted he could have done if the refugee situation was more important than any other consideration. But remember that Picard was the champion of doing things within the rules. My favorite example of this was Captain Maxwell in The Wounded, where the Cardassians were *clearly* violating the treaty and building up, and Picard could not accept doing anything outside of the treaty terms. This would come up later in Chain of Command, and it has always been my contention that Picard would never have done what Jellico did in mining the nebula. I believe it took a certain kind of Captain to not care about treaty terms or diplomacy and to just "get it done." I think Picard would have shied away from that, just as I think it's logical that he would shy away from going renegade to gather a refugee-saving force. That's just not who he was, not his values. Walking away may seem lousy, I guess, but I think being a pirate would have offended his values even more. And this has always been Section 31's point: standing by absolute values is no good when messy work is required. Picard would disagree (as Bashir did), and that's why you need more than one kind of Captain out there.

And this brings up the main question: where were all the other Captains during thing? No conscientious objectors? Picard is the only good man in Starfleet, the rest are cronies? This is really what they're giving off here, and I don't like it. Their fundamental premise is that Picard and Picard alone could save the Romulans, because the rest of the Federation I guess is morally corrupt. And this is to say nothing of what is supposed to be a civilian oversight of Starfleet. Should I really believe the Vulcans did nothing to try to save the Romulans? They don't answer to Starfleet Command. Anyhow the whole situation as it's painted is silly, so it's almost not even possible to get into whether or not Picard did the right thing. How do we address a dilemma that occurs in a nonsensical scenario: the whole good of the universe rests on Picard's shoulders, should he go rogue to save it or just quit to uphold his principles? It's not a good question on a basic level. There might have been a good question to ask about him, but this wasn't it.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:39am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Don't have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to give my two cents in.

I liked it, but I didn't think it was better than last week's episode. I thought it was - in most ways - a step back.

The episode was well shot, acted, and plotted, but the really clunky infodumps of the first three episodes reappeared (like Picard's initial dialogue with Seven). Worse, this episode had a lot of corny overly-broad melodrama. The characters didn't actually act like real human beings would across most of the episode, which was disappointing after the much more natural flow of dialogue last week.

At the same time, there was no glacial borg cube scenes this week, which was a welcome respite. I wish I could have said the same last week. Thus even though the main plot was a lot weaker, the lack of the tedious "B plot" made the episode of roughly equal quality.

I still think Rios could be a hologram, though if he is, Raffi is "in on it." That device that Raffi handed him could have really been a mobile emitter. Notice Seven stole it before she left? This will be important later on.

2.5 stars. Meh.
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Andrew
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:07am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@Peter G.

"For instance, Picard needs a bodyguard why?"

I had the same thought, but it kind of makes sense when you think about the Zhat Vash attacks he's been through and witnessed in the previous episodes.
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Trek noir
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 4:46am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

At least there’s a new episode to complain about now
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Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 3:32am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

THEY KILLED ICHEB!!!!

Why???? No!!!!!

That was awful watching him get tortured. His eyeball getting yanked out was just for audience titillation. And yet ANOTHER flashback to open the show?! This is wasted screentime since the dialogue summarizes these events later anyways.

I also disliked the oral sex joke as well as the continued casual cursing amongst the cast.

Recasting Bruce Maddox probably was a mistake. The original actor probably would've done better.

Agnes acting doofy, clueless and hysterical is getting irritatng. Her "make-cute" with Rios was rom-com cringe and her freaking out over pushing one button on the transporter controls was ridiculous. And that last scene in sickbay? Yeah, another person with a secret agenda .... ugh. (Also, more characters speaking in unnecessary and verbise riddles/obtusely just to keep the audience on a IV drip of plot .... this show has very soapish pacing problems).

Freecloud looks cool, but (nitpick ahead) how does that square with the way Ferengi are discussed in previous shows? The Trek writers (in the past) have certainly presented gambling and other vices as a thing 99% of humanity had outgrown.

The scene where Picard's landing party is putting on their silly outfits reminded me of when The Orville did this (better). The line Picard had in French seemed to written solely to go viral. Are we going to have a Commander Oh No Sunglasses Moment every week?!

Jeri Ryan did a good job (although how she went from being an integral part of the Voyager crew to a ranger wasn't really explained to my satisfaction. ) Still, her acting made her backstory and personality changes believable. Really, she should be a part of Picard's ragtag crew instead of people like Elnor and Agnes. She's just a better caliber actress and her character is way more interesting than almost anyone on the Millennial Falcon.

Raffi's actress also has talent, I was hoping she wasn't leaving the crew (until she wasn't). Her scene with her son was touching and I appreciated that they showed us their connection in real time (using inference and setting) vs another clunky exposition dump.

I also liked how Elnor is already getting the Neelix treatment by the writers ... I wonder how much this character was forced on them by corporate bean counters/Kurtzmann. He's still very annoying, but I don't
won't mind him as much if he's used as a punching bag for well-deserved jokes.

Thankfully, no Borg cube moustache-twirling incest scenes this week. I thought the borg harvesting woman was well acted and mostly written competently .... although what's the point of extracting borg implants without anesthetic?! It's the 25th Century, it is barbaric and cruel for no reason! She would've been a more effective villian if she'd showed some mercy to her victims instead of cracking jokes as she murdered someone ... but this is simplistic scripting and the very good actress who played the villainess shouldn't be blamed for that.)

This was the best looking episode of Picard, it was better directed than previously, the actors seem a bit more comfortable in their roles, the soundtrack was the least intrusive it's ever been, the cinematography was sufficiently otherworldly.... there was actually quite a bit to like in this episode.

But again, I really REALLY hated that they killed off Icheb just to give 7's character motivation! Totally unnecessary.

So, what kind of rating do I give this roller-coaster of sn episode?

1 star more than last week seems fair: 2.5 stars
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Chrome
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 3:29am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Genuinely very good. This week they finally told a self-contained story in a single hour while furthering the overarching plot.

Jeri Ryan really seems to know her character and it helped me to like Seven in spite of the despicable thing she does this week. Heck, it sounds cliche that Seven would become a vigilante, but Ryan really sells it by how driven she appears. Like Picard, she seems like a very different character than the one we saw in her last appearance.

Cabrera is also great in the first away mission we see him on. He slides easily from undercover pimp to rogue pilot with a sense of duty. When I saw Mr. Vup about to pull his weapon, I thought for sure Seven would kill him, but Rios shows us he’s not slow on the uptake (hopefully just stunning him).

The mystery with Maddox appears to be deepening with not only the Zhat Vash involved, but apparently some part of the Federation. Of course, Jurati ends that explanation prematurely in what many predicted as her mole status.

I’m sure many will be happy not to see NareI and Rizzo this week. And - it looks like they’ll finally engage Picard next week.
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