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Filip
Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Years ago I played a D&D video game titled Tactics. I don’t really remember the plot behind its campaign, but I remember that there was a significant quest-line that involved retrieving a staff of sorts which was supposed to be crucial to the story. By the end of the campaign, the story resolved itself without ever mentioning the staff again. Like I said, I have no idea what the conclusion was supposed to be but I remember feeling utterly baffled by how what was supposed to be a crucial element was just dropped and never mentioned again. This is what much of this show feels like. It is abundant in a lot of disjointed elements and its numerous ideas ultimately lead nowhere.

Now that the season has reached its end, I can safely conclude that the entire problematic with the Romulan refugee crisis led nowhere in particular, Icheb got gruesomely tortured and killed for nothing more than passing shock-value, murderer-Jurati strode happily into season two and, most notably, the character of Elnor and the business of taking the Borg cube to the synth-planet were utterly pointless. A whole episode was spent on introducing Elnor and creating somewhat of a backstory for a character that does nothing for the show and had he not been there the plot would’ve carried on in exactly the same manner. At the same time he offered no reflection, thought or substance or anything else of value. The sequence where Seven connects with the cube was impressive, yet the huge opportunity to explore the effects that might have on her get completely dropped. The same goes for the cube appearing in front of the synth-world – what could’ve been a great change of perspective to have our protagonists pilot one of those monstrosities is quickly dismissed and never mentioned again. Finally, as much as it saddens me to say that, other than being a nostalgia factor Seven’s role in these final two episodes escapes me. Mid-season I came across a rumor that the show had been recut and many of its scenes reshot numerous times and that the script suffered major changes and that as a result we got a collage of multiple stories that oftentimes had very little to do with each other. Whether that is true or not I do not know, but judging by what we’ve seen this season I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility. Finally, Seven departs with the others on board La Sirena with the cube and the XBs never to be mentioned again.
Another hugely problematic element comes down to the world-building of the show, something I have discussed in my previous comments. There is a whole lot of info dumping and exposition involved, a lot of things are hinted at and yet some important questions aren’t addressed at all. Contrast, for example, how the series treats the Zhat Vash and the overall state of the Romulan society. The former is explained in great detail through relentless exposition while the latter, something of arguably much greater interest to a Trekkie, is just hinted at and never truly discussed. We have no idea what the current military status of the Empire is, nor do we know their political situation. We can’t even begin to guess since the show itself offer contradictory information on the subject – it is highly improbable that an interstellar empire such as the Romulans would be crippled by a loss of one system, even if it is their homeworld, yet they seemed all too reliant on Federation help. On the other hand, this society has successfully infiltrated the impenetrable Starfleet and is able to muster more than 200 state of the art warbirds while a significant community of their own is still living in a rundown refugee camp 15 years after the crisis. A different approach, however, would require significantly more effort.

The reason behind the one employed here is simple – it directly services the plot, the other does not. As I have discussed in the first season of Discovery, the imagined plot of a given show is of the utmost importance in the minds behind modern Trek. A lot of people don’t seem to have a problem with this, however I find that it doesn’t make particularly good fiction of any sort. It creates a paper thin world where anything can happen in order to see the show arrive to its originally imagined conclusion, yet once it arrives there it has no real meaning and feels utterly cheap. If you couple that with the disjointed manner in which the show is put together, the drama the show aims to create is extremely weak. Take for example the relationship between Picard and Raffi. I do not know the character of Raffi nor what her relationship with Picard prior to the show was and secondly, the voyage between the meltdown she has in front of him when she is first introduced and their exchange of love for one another a couple of episodes later doesn’t do nearly enough to justify this change of heart. The same formula then applies to Elnor and his relationship with Picard. It seems as if the writers of this show have a set formula of what they think the audiences want to see in a given situation and then just go crossing items off a list without giving them much thought. Take the characterization of Raffi for example – a tortured soul, therefore she has problems with substance abuse and an estranged son? Check and check. And forgotten. The same formula is applied to its elements regarding the plot - once they have fulfilled their role they are quickly crossed off, which is why both Maddox and Hugh are brutally murdered once their usefulness has run its course. That is the extent of world-building on this show which is thoroughly present with almost every single of its elements and that is why I don’t think it is any good.

There has been a significant discussion on one of the previous threads as to why people who don’t like this show keep watching it. I personally hold TNG and DS9 very close to my heart and given how I grew up with Picard, Riker and co. it has shaped me in more ways than I probably realize. I kept watching this in hopes it would get better, looking for the tiniest ties to those great shows of old. Unfortunately, if there were any, they were few and far between. What is even more unfortunate is that I noticed that a lot of people complaining about those critiquing the show usually do not offer any vision of their own regarding the show, nor do they contest any of the critiques in a rational manner. Instead they are quick to dismiss those who would make them as anhedonic haters and end up offering no insights to the discussion. I assure you, I genuinely wanted to like this show yet I cannot keep a blind eye to its many faults no matter how significant the old material is to me.
I want to conclude this with a comment on the final episode. The small device they use to fix La Sirena and then later to create its multiple images perfectly epitomizes the issue where the plot is paramount. The ship is magically repaired and the Romulan fleet fooled. The writers part with any semblance of meaning behind it in such a manner that I was left absolutely perplexed as to which show I was watching. Another comment said that this is a meta-commentary on all the technobabble of the previous shows, however if that is the case it is grossly out of place since employing your meta-commentary as a plot device at the same time absolutely ruins the credibility behind the show which is already strained to begin with. Another issue is that I see it more as arrogance than meta-commentary as previous shows at least tried to create a veneer of scientific explanations whereas this one dispenses with it entirely, leading to concepts such as android mind-melds or cloning from a single positron.

Finally, it was wonderful seeing Riker in uniform and modern Starfleet ships and the dialogue between Picard and Data is surprisingly good. However, and this is a huge however, the premise behind is utterly absurd. It implies that since Data’s consciousness was reconstructed he was actually alive all this time and trapped in a box for the last 20 years on a planet that is literally a factory of synthetic-bodies. Data’s wish to be terminated in the end is nothing more than another example of the plot getting primacy over common sense. Data always strived to be human, yes, but he was never suicidal and that is exactly what it looks like here as there is no other reason to extinguish him other than having the writers cross one more item from that damned list (to quote Sisko).

Normally a finale of a good show brings about feelings of sadness and closure, a bitter-sweet appreciation for being a part of something special. Given the nature of this show and all of the issues discussed not only in this entry but in my other comments as well, having Data die a second time only left me with a huge pocket of sadness in my heart and believe me when I tell you there is nothing sweet about it.
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Filip
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

Well of course they have a dead kid and of course it is perfectly tied in to the whole problematic of the show, because why wouldn't it be.

Honestly, I am beyond surprised by the overwhelmingly positive comments so far as I was on the verge of shutting this shit down the moment they killed Hugh, because why wouldn't they. And once more, Picard gets chewed out both by Riker and Troi no less and it seems rightfully so because Picard is again portrayed like a dick. It takes a special kind of script to ruin the return of the characters I loved oh so much for so long and the writers and everybody affiliated with this show managed to achieve exactly that. It is beyond irony that Troi tells Picard that he should be "Jean-Luc Picard" because that is just Kurtzman punching me in the gut. Yurati is beyond annoying and like in one of the Discovery episodes we get an unsolicited and forced mindmeld as means of cheaply creating motivation behind Yurati's idiotic characterization without actually letting the audience in on it. When Rios confided in her about thinking that Raffi is the reason they are being followed I thought that was just a ruse to confirm his suspicions in Yurati, but guess what, no such luck. No nuance and subtlety in Kurtzman Trek and I should've known better by now; a show which has an explicit line about this current crew having more baggage than the old one as if we hadn't realized that by now really can't do any better.

I will say that I loved seeing Riker and Troi again but that stems exclusively from that ancient (as this one likes to remind us) show we all loved and cherished and has absolutely nothing to do with this mess. Frakes does his usual good job.

Judging by the next week preview, we're bound for an absolute shitstorm of gruesome scenes.
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FIlip
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

This was actually decent. If I were to take this episode in isolation from all the garbage that came before it I'd actually say it was good. Some proper stuff finally happens.

Narek's sister is no longer portrayed as a mustache twirling villain but feels subdued this time and I hope the writers keep going with it (although judging by the next episode preview that isn't likely). The whole concept of the box and the whole plot revolving around it was pretty good.

No doubt, however, that the greatest scene of the episode, or dare I say the show so far is the encounter between Picard and Hugh. That was the first scene I wanted to see again and actually ended up rewinding it. It felt like proper Trek and it's a crying shame the writers didn't go down that road for the rest of the series. This, unfortunately, bring me back to my previous points; this brief feel only made me feel what a huge wasted opportunity this whole show is and makes me realize how much I miss Star Trek.

The scenes with Yurati and Raffi were plain bad and I don't see the point behind Yurati and Rios having sex and having Rios so readily accept it was plain ridiculous.

@Chrome "One might even say there's a meta-criticism involving "mystery boxes" and Kurtzman is comparing critics to the impatient Rizzos who are unwilling to patiently enjoy a game and learn answers." I'd bet you anything that it is not the case. First of all, I think you're giving Kurtzman too much credit. Secondly, even if it was the case, it's pointless as the criticism is not about slow development of the plot but rather about its poor execution. At least coming from me. If your writing relies solely on a big finale to give it any semblance of meaning that's a problem. Take a look at The Expanse for example. For the first solid five episodes I had no idea what the hell was going on as there were so many different plots paralleling each other and the world was so rich that it was impossible to figure it out right of the bat, but I enjoyed every minute of it and once it all came together the pay off was superb. I don't see that happening with Picard based on the material we've seen so far.
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Filip
Wed, Feb 26, 2020, 9:46am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I got a glimpse of a couple reviews before actually watching this episode so I was putting it off until yesterday, and now that I've seen it I can say with confidence that this was absolutely horrible.

The fact that you resurrect old characters created 30 years ago only to kill them both instantly in a truly horrifying manner says it all about this show. In addition, Picard's impotence is so grating that I am honestly starting to get annoyed by both the way Stewart is playing him and his moral speeches that have so little substance behind them they are insulting to TNG. There was an episode of the Graham Norton Show with Stewart who said they did a pilot of TNG where Picard spoke in a French accent. Whether this really happened or not I can't say, but the bottom line is that they properly ridiculed it. Guess what - for some reason 30 years later they decided it was, in fact, a good idea.

Since I was putting off watching it this, I am writing this after Jammer has already posted his review which gives me a chance to echo his perfect summary of the issues plaguing 'modern Trek': "Look, I don't need sunshine and rainbows. I loved Battlestar Galactica, which started with a nuclear holocaust wiping out nearly all of humanity. But I do need some sort of intelligent approach to the material."
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Filip
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

I forgot to mention that I honestly hope Narek will turn out to be conflicted about this whole business as it would add desperately needed substance to the show.
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Filip
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:34am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

In the review for the previous episode I wrote the following:

"The dialogue is getting tedious. It's laden with exposition which makes it hard for me to feel anything for most of the characters. You don't have to verbalize every single thing. It's bordering on 'I'm angry. -I acknowledge that. -You hurt me. -I know.'"

What we get in this episode, and I'm quoting it here verbatim:
"My feelings are hurt. I actually did think you were fond of me."

Go figure.

Other than that, some more infodumping and world-building done through straightforward description of events with little to no artistic merit. Jurati's speech about space being boring is ridiculous and totally out of place given the context. It does absolutely nothing to add to either the advancement of the plot or characterization, it's there just as uninspired filler. Rios' book is about existential pain to which Jurati ironically responds that it is something you totally want to talk about. Well, guess what, I'd rather hear more about that than about your pointless analysis of space. Also, there are over 3 billion stars in our galaxy? Yes, there are, but not only that, there are over 300 billion stars in our galaxy. Try again, doctor.

Picard is constantly being chewed out for his actions by literally everyone he encounters (I'm echoing @wolfstar's comment), which just does two things:

1. It's getting repetitive and tedious and 2. makes Picard look like a dick.

Now, why would you retcon a character that was absolutely loved by everyone and had such an iconic presence into a dick only to be able to create a cheap story like this one? This insistence on Picard's ill-conceived history is identical to insistence on Burnham's role in starting the war with the Klingons in Discovery. Both don't have a lot of substance, but the writers keep incessantly showing the down our throats.

I realize that Patrick Stewart has aged, but the vibe I'm getting from him here does not remind me of Picard we came to know and love at all. It's not only that his voice is different, which is to be expected, but the way he delivers his lines and his mannerisms are way off.

I guess each episode has to fulfill a quota of expletives, but at least this time it was at least partially organic.

The fact that the Romulan homeworld exploded is certainly a tragedy, but it is a fair assumption that an inter-stellar civilization advanced as the Romulan Star Empire wouldn't be dependent on one planet, even if it was their homeworld, to the extent that its destruction would completely cripple them, which is the principal premise of this show. I hope they address this, but I don't think that's going to happen. Much like Picard, Romulans don't feel at all like the ones that were meticulously built in TNG and DS9. Appearances and names are the same, but the feel is definitely gone.

To end this on a good note, there were a couple of points I did like, but they were few and far between. The opening flashback was decent and had this air of optimism I came to expect from Star Trek. I see that the part about sliding around the Borg cube was panned by almost everyone, but to hell with it, I liked it. The score for this episode didn't have that melodramatic feel to it and was infinitely better than in the previous instances.

And finally, thank you @Trent for bringing the New Sincerity movement to my attention, it makes for an interesting read, especially given the present context.
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Filip
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

@Hank

This was a truly wonderful overview. I couldn't agree more with everything you've said.
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Filip
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

@James I think you are giving the writers way too much credit based on breaches of cannon we've seen so far.

As for the argument that people living in the Federation are happy and that the current state of affairs in Starfleet is a natural turn of events, it doesn't really work because the world building in the show is extremely lazy. Like I said in my review of Maps & Legends, what they should've done is give voice to both sides in order to create a truly complicated situation with no easy solutions. Instead we got the instant characterization of Starfleet as bad with a couple of throwaway lines to try and mask the failure in creating a compelling world.

Look, for example, how they handled the situation with the Maquis in DS9, more specifically, look at the dialogue between Sisko and Nechayev. It was a tough one with no win-win scenarios and you felt that. Nechayev was unlikable, but damn it, she was right; the motivation behind the orders she gave Sisko reflected what would later become a major theme of the series - making tough choices in face of dilemmas where you just can't have it all. And that is what made Sisko's mission and his internal struggles all the more relatable.

In Picard, you just don't have that. Starfleet is straight up "intolerant and fearful," and everybody familiar with the creative thinking behind the show knows why that is so, but when you have a premise like that from the start and decide to blindly stick to it, you can't build a compelling world. All the ideas about happy citizens and turns of events are conjectures which have nothing to do with the material at hand.

Whoever wants another example of absolutely stellar world building should see The Expanse. That show is brilliant in every single way (granted, I haven't seen the final season yet). In short, it has three very different political entities at odds with each other and every single one has been thoroughly fleshed out. You cannot pick a clear 'moral' winner and you can just appreciate the complexity and the work that went into creating it.

Two things I forgot to mention in my first comment; the music was absolutely insufferable, but I guess you need it as the last resort to stir something in your audience since the dialogue for sure won't do it for you most of the time.
The other thing is that the acting was worse in this one than the previous two episodes. One YT reviewer noted that when Raffi was telling her sad story, Patrick Stewart literally just sat opposite of her like he was waiting for the scene to end so he could go back to his trailer. I wanted to share that one with you because I found it absolutely hilarious.
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Filip
Thu, Feb 6, 2020, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

Some quick point of the top of my head.

The dialogue is getting tedious. It's laden with exposition which makes it hard for me to feel anything for most of the characters. You don't have to verbalize every single thing. It's bordering on "I'm angry. -I acknowledge that. -You hurt me. -I know."

Starfleet has banned all research on synthetic life, but there you have an EMH sounding pretty perceptive to me. Enough so that he is able to be a shrink to Raos (I think that's his name) , or maybe just enough to do be a device to jam in some more exposition for the sake of the audience. The line at the end of that dialogue with the captain's brains all over the bulkhead seems like it was ripped out of an 80s action B movie, minus the bulkhead. Actually the whole sequence with Raos feels exactly like that. I'll say that Picard's deduction about him being Starfleet was nice, though. I liked that.

Also, was that guy just sitting in orbit in his pristine ship, chilling with some aguardente and shrapnel flying all over this whole time?

The Commodore with the shades was unintentionally hilarious.

@Trent "These Borg Cube sequences also hint at "religious", "prophecy" and "destiny" cliches and plotlines which I hope the show doesn't elaborate on. No more DS9-esque space orbs and paghwraiths please." I agree all the way.

I also heard that they said those were the only Romulans to be assimilated and I'm pretty sure that makes no sense.

I completely missed Jonathan Del Arco and only when the credits started rolling I realized it was him. Welcome back, Jonathan. I'm pretty sure that you never dreamed that you'd get a call 30 years later to play Hugh again.
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Filip
Sat, Feb 1, 2020, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@Quincy

Dahj's boyfriend and the shipyard workers are a start.
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Filip
Sat, Feb 1, 2020, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

I've spent the better part of the day reading reviews and your comments here so I'll keep this brief.

Some very good insights from you guys, it's always a pleasure reading your thoughts. For me, this one was worse than the pilot. Generally, it all feels 'off.' The pacing and camera work is weird, so many elements dumped in the short span of 45 minutes that it doesn't allow me a single moment to stop and just appreciate the fact that I'm watching something I would've been over thrilled to see under different circumstances.

The scene between the admiral and Picard is terrible. There they had a golden opportunity to give voice to the two sides and give them both valid arguments, and genuinely portray the events that came to pass before the show as difficult for everybody involved. Instead we got meaningless shouting that killed any notion of subtext, and on top of that the expletive we got was utterly gratuitous. The weird shifting of the camera between admiral and Picard, all while it is solely Picard who is doing the talking, is incomprehensible and only adds to the neurotic feel of the scene. On top of that, she is utterly incompetent to have a conspiracy of this caliber take place right under her nose.

This whole exchange reminded me of DS9's "Inquisition" - remember when Sloan created that elaborate deception for Bashir where everybody was acting so out of character, with fake Sisko dismissing Bashir and wouldn't even listen to him? That's exactly what the admiral here feels like, only, unfortunately, it is no deception and it is what Federation has actually come to be.

People above me have already thoroughly commented on the cartoonish nature of the villians, the immense amount of exposition and the whole concept of the secret police within the secret police, so I am just going to say that I'm with you regarding the criticism. One thing I'd like to add, though, they establish here that Romulans hate synthetic life-forms, so how do you explain Admiral Jarok saying in "The Defector" that there a couple of Romulan cyberneticists who would love to get their hands on Data? No other explanation, but another retcon on which the whole show is based.

Regarding Narek, the guy that showed up out of nowhere in ep1 and began his never ending, unsolicited story about his lost brother only an episode later shamelessly says "I'm a man of secrets." What? Someone should really make a YouTube clip with those two scenes one right after another and put it in a loop, it would be absolutely hilarious.

I did like the dialogue between Picard and his former Stargazer colleague, but I feel like here we have been given a hint as to how the show will end, which I didn't like. I also like the CGI with the cube, which it seems a lot of you didn't. It managed to show how enormous it actually is and made it feel like an actual space the characters occupy.

That's it off the top of my head, there were other points I wanted to make, but you have it pretty much covered here.
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Filip
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

@Tim C
"As for Picard waking up at home vs a hospital or police station, I think we can reasonably infer he was treated and returned home, and that things were covered up. YMMV, but does anyone think it really would have enhanced the episode to give us a five minute scene of Picard having magic medical wands waved over him to heal his burns, or frustratedly trying to convince sceptical cops there were Romulan assassins on the roof of a Starfleet facility? It'd just be filler that's just as easily covered by a single line of dialogue, which it was."

I have no idea what hospitals you've been to, but where I come from they don't discharge people in an unconscious state. But that's a minor issue; the bigger one is that this is symptomatic of poor editing and direction. Obviously we don't have enough episodes here to fully discuss that issue, but we were given plenty of material for that in Discovery, which shares a lot of its production team with Picard. If you make a show where such rough sequences are left to the viewer to 'infer' things, then that is indicative of lazy writing.

As for examples of ridiculous science, those were contained to the episode-of-the-week and if they sucked they were quickly forgotten. The idea here present is the staple of this show. Also, what issues would that be?
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Filip
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Hello again, everyone. It's good to be back. I didn't come back for Discovery's second season since I didn't watch it as I'd thought I would, but this I couldn't miss.
First thing I have to get out of the way is that I made my peace with the fact that this was not going to be something I’d want It to be long before it premiered. My expectations were set pretty low. And even so, to be honest, I am surprised by the generally favorable reviews by you guys.

It wasn’t horrible, by any means, but I wouldn’t call it particularly good either, especially considering the material they were working with and its immense potential. There were a couple of comments that said the show was moving too slowly, but I feel the exact opposite to be the case – the narrative sequences were moving so fast from one event to another that it was really hard to savor any of it, which, in my opinion, massively misses the point. When you bring back a character after 20 years who had been established as a thoughtful diplomat and a scholar, and have an immensely capable 80 year old lead, you want every moment to savor the two. Or at least, I do. I wanted longer pauses between the scenes, longer shots of Picard drinking his wine in the garden, more time to see all the emotions he tried to convey develop on his face and to have the show allow us to immerse ourselves in them and feel them too.

Since they decided to portray Picard as a broken man, the producers should’ve known better than to expect to evoke melancholia and try to cram so many things into one episode in such a frantic pace at the same time, because as it is, I just didn’t come across as it could’ve. There was enough material here for at least one more episode. Daj comes and goes, and I’m just left here wondering why should I care.

In his earlier comment, @Trent said it best:

“Almost everything beyond Stewart dips into overcooked melodrama, wild overacting, is rushed, or filmed with shots cut too short and given no room to breath or generate weight. Consider, for example, the opening "beauty shots" of space, all fading into each other, before we see the Enterprise D. All of these shots should be longer, allowed to be savored, as should the beautiful scenes of Picard wandering his vineyard with his dog, which are rushed with a series of frenetic fades”

I also liked your quoting of Hitchcock’s technique very much, it was really appropriate here.

There were also quite a few nonsensical turns of events that too contributed to a choppy experience. Just to give you an example, after being knocked out in the explosion, Picard wakes up on his sofa with his servants (?) pouring water on him. What? What happened in between? The servants said that the police hadn’t seen anyone but Picard on the rooftop, which implies that there was a crew out in the field, but instead of taking a knocked out 80 year old to a hospital, they just beam him in that state to his couch? We’ve seen a bunch of sequences like that in Discovery and I’m afraid the trend is going to continue here as well. Also, can you imagine how bad that Boston apartment must smell, with all those dead bodies and nobody to call the police or something?

As for the sci-fi element, I’ve read a lot of comments on other forums and sites about the idiocy of science behind cloning data from a single positron and how it makes no sense at all. Out of all the venues they could’ve taken to explain the existence of Daj, and right now I could give you five more plausible of the top of my head, they go for something that has zero scientific credibility? As I recall, Jammer, you were particularly harsh on TNG’s Genesis because of its whacky science, and yes, while it was ridiculous, it was fun. I’m interested to see if you are going to apply the same rigor to this issue here.

I could go on, but I don’t want to turn this into a rant already on the first episode. I will most definitely stick around for more. Like I said, it’s not all horrible, but the general style of direction detracts much from the show.

And @OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, I’m with you on this:
“I'm reading the comments and I can't quite believe my eyes.”
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Filip
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Suddenly Human

Here's a thought: if you send out distress calls and then rig your ships to self-destruct when aided , don't really expect anyone to come help you when you really need it.
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Filip
Mon, May 7, 2018, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Ferengi Love Songs

Yes, this episode was mind-numbingly stupid. However, there is a much bigger problem plaguing most, if not all, episodes that dwell deeper into Ferengi culture. All Trek races have something that sets them apart, something that makes them a special culture to be examined and in relation, to examine humanity itself. That is one of the biggest points of the entire series. Now, when you take a concept that defines one of those races and use it as comic-relief and somehow at the same time plan on using it to tell a serious story and incite serious discussion, you do not get either and instead end up with miserable and utterly wasted episodes. To continue to an even bigger issue, those episodes themselves hold the concept on which the entire Ferengi society is based on as something so preposterous that it needs to be rectified to be more in line with human ideals and morals. Take for example the position of women in Ferengi society. Every time the values that dictate they shouldn’t wear clothes or leave the house were mentioned, they were delivered in such frivolous manner that one wonders if there ever was a point where the writers intended them to be taken seriously. As such, I cannot in the slightest identify with their plight or root for their emancipation. And in the end, why should I? What writers and some viewers don’t seem to realize here is that they are NOT a human society and as such shouldn’t be measured against the human standard of morality. Why would you create a culture so different from our own just to thwart it in the end by making it more like “us”, which is exactly what happens in the series finale. The best example of that issue however is without a doubt the entire “Bar Association” episode which I thoroughly hated. It has all of the elements that I have just described that work against the very fiber of their society and actually wants the audience to root for them.

Yes, we as humans should strive towards social justice in the same way we should condemn authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, mindless violence and violations of war conventions. However, you don’t see Cardassian or Klingon cultures made fun of as is the case here. When moral issues arise in a clash between a human and some other culture it is up to you as a viewer to make your stand and examine it for what it is, which is not the case with Ferengi cultures. We even have that very problem visible in this episode between Rom and Leeta. It is a cultural clash where Rom’s culture was bound to lose right from the start for reasons I have put out in this review.

What I’m saying is that by putting out radical ideas and at the same time trying to make them tamer by making them more acceptable to the human eye is trying to have your cake and eating it too, which only spectacularly misfires. We end up instead with a massive caricature of a culture that fails miserably in telling its story, nor do we get any valuable moral questions or discussions because at the end, those do not matter in the slightest. The writers have already decided for you before the story was even told.
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Filip
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

I was about to say how underrated this episode was, but after seeing the overwhelmingly positive comments I am glad to say I stand corrected. A truly good episode where we have two protagonists offering opposing views in a very human manner that makes it natural and unforced for the audience to understand both points of view. Of course, the fact that the two are already well established personas only gives weight to the whole conflict. The episode also offered something that in my opinion was missing from the whole Dominion War arc, and that was humanizing the enemy and I wish we could've seen more ventures like this one into the Jem'Hadar pysche.

The seemingly unrelated and, truth be told, weaker B plot does round up the main theme of the episode and that is trust. I don't think the focus should be on ketracel-white or how the Dominon controls its soldiers as that has been (or will be) discussed in other episodes, yet it should be on the pairing of our protagonists and the conflict it produces in both cases. Bashir asked O'Brien to trust him despite O'Brien's different perception of the situation in the same way Worf should've trusted Odo and have faith that he was up to the task.

As if that wasn't enough, the final exchange between O'Brien and Goran'Agar wins the show by itself:

"You are a soldier?"
"I have been."
"Then you explain."
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Filip
Mon, Apr 23, 2018, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Sound of Her Voice

I just want to echo the first comment on this thread by R.D. Given how I don't even remember when I first saw this episode nor what I thought of the twist at the time I can't really discuss its 'surprise' element, but from this perspective where I knew what was coming I can say that I truly believe that had the twist been handled the way R.D. proposed it in his/her comment, it would've turned this episode from average at best to something genuinely special.

I get that they were using the stranded captain as a device for our protagonists to verbalize their feelings for the audience and to do some introspection, but unfortunately the dialogues were so pedestrian that I didn't give them a second thought after the credits.

The twist raised up some new elements that were never adressed by the episode, such as how did no one realize from the conversations alone that they didn't share the same time period, but Trek rarely addresses such "minor" plot issues anyway. What makes it so apparent here is that this was by no means a bad episode, but something I find to be even worse - an average hour of wasted potential that with just some really minor tweaks could've worked way better.
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Filip
Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 1:05am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

@Gee

It's my pleasure and thank you for reading. I always found this site to be pure gold with many valuable insights and civilised discussions, something you don't come accross so often these days so I am happy to participate. If it wasn't for this safe haven it is quite possible that I would've quit Discovery mid season.
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Filip
Wed, Feb 14, 2018, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

This episode perfectly embodies and reflects everything wrong with this show – and then takes it to a whole new level. Since I have discussed all of the show’s issues in length in previous threads, I am not going to repeat the same points here, but will instead offer a brief overview of the season as a whole. I also want to put this out because Jammer and a lot of other commenters seem to be much more forgiving than I am.

Despite all of the issues that arose even before the premiere, such as the appearance of Klingons and advanced visuals, I really wanted to like this show and for it to be good. I didn’t mind the holographic communication, the holodeck-like shooting exercises and all other elements deemed too “advanced” for a pre-TOS era series, because come on, it’s 2017/2018 and one cannot really expect a show to purposefully limit itself to 50 years old outdated tech.

But when it came to the most important element, it failed miserably. I am, of course, talking about writing. I kept waiting for it to improve. Actually, I desperately wanted for it to improve so much that I was putting myself out there only to be disappointed again and again. And even though it had some rare moments that showed promise, overall, now that we’ve reached the end of the season, I can confidently say that it is very, very bad. The narrative quality of the show is almost non-existent and instead the writers relied on ludicrous twists and actions that sprang only out of the writers’ desire to attack the viewers’ senses in a profoundly vulgar way. I have said many times that inexplicable actions by some of the characters on this show were so obviously subjugated to the advancement of the plot, but now I can look at the wider picture and say that this advancement of the plot was subjugated precisely to that desire to shock and overwhelm the audience. Once I reached this conclusion, it became utterly pointless to call attention to all of the plot holes, nonsensical turns of events and contrived narratives.

Instead of it being interesting tech to be explored, the spore drive became the writers’ hand able to rearrange the in-universe pieces literally however they wanted it to. Except it wasn’t a hand, it was a clenched fist eager to punch you in your face.

Instead of it being an interesting backdrop to examining the qualities of our characters due to its chaotic qualities, the mirror universe became the foundation of a great deal of drama of the show that just straight out ripped those qualities out and shamelessly incorporated them into the main storyline.

In light of all this, the final speech about the nature of Starfleet was so unnaturally, so artificially, so forcibly glued on top of everything that it absolutely baffles me how anyone could buy it.

I am probably going to be back for season 2 to see if the writers’ considered any of the (valid) criticism aimed against the show, but seeing how they pride themselves in a job well done on After Trek and the entire self-congratulatory parade at the end of “Will You Take My Hand?”, my hopes are at an all-time low.
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Filip
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:27am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

@Mertov

When you compare real life occurrences with a fictive concept such as a mind-meld the discussion takes a dangerously wrong turn. I say dangerous because discussing this subject in this light is threading on very thin ice so I will keep this short. Since there is actual trauma attached behind real life occurrences, it is immaterial to discuss the two in that context as there is no one who suffered from a forced mind-meld in reality. What I was referring to was an idea, a *concept* of penetrating one's mind as opposed to penetrating (in this case literally) one's body. When you look at it in this light, I do not see how you would think that pointing at the severity of one would trivialize the other. Never did I think my comment would provoke this reaction, and it saddens me that I explicitly have to say that in no way do I take those issues lightly. If it is the question of semantics that bothers you, then consider my original argument to be about Sarek *violating* Saru, under the threat of a gun, no less. I am not going to comment on this subject any further because of the danger of my words being wildly misconstrued.
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Filip
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Easily the best episode so far, however still abundant in problems and stupid plot decisions.

I say the best so far because for the first time since the premiere at moments it actually felt like I was watching Star Trek. Interestingly enough, that came about at the same time Lorca got out of the picture. It had some decent character work and dialogue and it took its time to tell its story, unlike the episodes that came before it that were just a relentless series of plot building madness. I see a lot of comments criticizing the Tyler/Burnham scene for its dullness, however I thought it was a much needed change of pace. Yes, it could’ve been done better, but, in isolation, it’s not half as bad as people make it out be. The scene with Tyler walking into the mess hall and everyone joining him at the table I just loved. It felt very Trek-like with colleagues helping out their own in time of great pain and is a stark contrast between the ridiculousness that was the scene with Burnham dining in that same room for the first time. I also found the dialogue between the admiral and L’Rell excellent and for the first time I felt Klingons to actually be Klingons. “How does the war end? –It doesn’t.” Good stuff.

On a side note, it is nice to see some familiar faces. Andorians look great, but I’m not sure how I feel about those distorted voices.

However, and this is still a pretty big however, almost every good element is yet again directly linked to a nonsensical decision or is too obviously subjugated to the advancement of the plot. Take for example the Tyler/Burnham scene. I said that it was good in isolation because when you look at it from a wider context which is their entire relationship, it doesn’t carry as much weight as it should given how their entire relationship did not happen organically but was rather necessary to happen for this entire conundrum to exist. The forced manner in which the writers put them together makes this necessity blatantly obvious. To go on with the problems, while I found the mess hall scene superb, it is also made possible by an unexplainably foolish decision to let Tyler wander around the ship freely. While it is possible that he now really is Tyler, and all traces of Voq have been removed, we, or anyone onboard cannot be sure of that since the entire procedure is not well understood and one cannot be sure that Voq is truly gone. When you take into consideration the covert nature of their mission, it is without a doubt an utterly brainless idea to let a former Klingon sleeper agent roam around the ship.

I was surprised as well to see a comment about Sarek’s invasive mind meld so far down since the moment he forced himself on Saru I felt it wasn’t right. I see people trying to justify it, but it just cannot be justified and I would even call it worse than rape. One’s mind and thoughts are about the most intimate thing one has and the idea of someone freely examining it without explicit permission is just terrifying.

As this comment is getting pretty long, I am just going to say that I do not appreciate, not even in the slightest, everything spore and mirror universe related. Making MU Georgiou taking the identity of PU Georgiou has been thoroughly discussed in the previous comments so I am not going to. I will just say that it is a horrible horrible idea.

Let me just put this out – if humans are so vastly different from Terrans, what makes everyone think that PU and MU Klingons share the same qualities to the extent that the knowledge of MU Klingons would be so valuable as to help turn around a war that has gone so bad for the Federation?

Also, have you ever heard of the saying “divide and conquer”? So, how is an enemy divided into 24 different factions a bigger threat and a more destructive force than a single, united and coordinated empire?
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Filip
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

@Chrome
“Burnham's having trouble shaking the fact that MU Georgiou isn't her Georgiou. This was established in "Vaulting Ambition". I'm not sure how I'm "picking some and ignoring other parts of the serialistic(is this a word?) approach", I'm just bringing up scenes relevant to the discussion.”

That much is obvious since the writers made sure the exposition pretty much literally delivered it and later didn’t bother to develop the idea not nearly enough to justify what has been done. I am continually returning to my original point since it seems you don’t see what I am getting at with this. If you think this is good story telling, I don’t. It is too obvious in its service to creating new plot ideas, rather than coming out of genuine characterization. You are doing it by not bringing up all of the scenes relevant to the discussion, but rather those that advance your point of view. In a *serialized* (really?) approach you cannot pick certain elements and discard the others, in this example all those clearly establishing MU Georgiou as a completely different persona. When you take them all into account, and with the absence of significant plot development and characterization apart from all the exposition we’ve been getting, Michael’s choice comes across as profoundly juvenile.
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Filip
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

@Chrome

And its serialization blatalntly put forward the ruthlessness and atrocities commited by the empire and the empress herself just an episode prior to this. You can't take certain elements of its serialistic approach and ignore the others to explain the decisions characters make on the show. There is obviously an issue of Michael betraying her captain, but this person she saved is NOT the captain. Apart from physcial appearance, they have nothing in common. The fact that the entire setting of the mirror universe was used to explore the aforementioned issue is a blunder in itself, leading to problems in rationalizing what was presented this Monday (or Sunday for American viewers).

As for Starfleet not leaving anyone behind, why didn't she save Lorca then? It was obvious Georgiou was about to kill him. Or better yet, why didn't they take that crewman back in “Mirror, Mirror“ who flat out begged them to take her to the PU? Burnham's sentiment didn't come out of nowhere, but like I already said, everything that came before it just doesn't take off nearly enough to justify what happened.
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Filip
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

@Chrome (and others)

When you base that whole motivation on a 40 minute episode that also had other elements to deal with it, it just doesn't take off. Yes, you can rationalize it after watching it, but the show doesn't do it for you. At least not for me. Especially when you take into consideration that out of those 40 minutes a great deal was spent on just running around the ship and shooting things up. "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" suffers from the same issue in offering background to Saru's sudden shift in behaviour in exactly the same way - the built up presented before the culmination just doesn't do enough to believably make it work.
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Filip
Mon, Jan 29, 2018, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

@Chrome

Yes, but her feelings for MU Gergiou are completely misplaced, and someone presented to us as highly logical for a human should know better than this, which is another example of little characterization we got gone out the window for plot's convenience.

Also, MU Georgiou's willingness to give her life to help Burnham escape is trampling on all pre-DS9 characterization of MU humans established so far, especially by Discovery.

All of it is just too much of a mess to keep my disbelief where it should be.
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