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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Though there are many flaws with the whole "Cornwell's heroic sacrifice" moment - most notably, as I said, the idea that blast doors (with a window!) could protect Pike from a photon torpedo exploding less than 20 feet away - from a character sense it was clear what they were trying to do here. Cornwell died for one reason only - in order to reinforce why Pike has accepted his fate to become a wheelchair-confined invalid.

The key is in their final exchange. Pike is ready to die in Cornwell's stead, since it is his ship. He's also a bit incredulous that he can die, considering he knows his true fate, and perhaps is considering that such a heroic out is better than what otherwise awaits him. Cornwell notes that he may be wrong, and he needs to think of all the people he could yet save in the future. This convinces Pike to let her make the heroic sacrifice.

The point of the scene is basically to say the reason Pike is now fated to end up in the chair isn't because there's some sort of god of destiny pushing things to their improbable conclusion. It's because he's a man driven by his sense of duty and selflessness, and because of that, he will continue to make the right decisions, right up to saving the cadets. Making other choices simply is not who he is.

Honestly, it was probably the single best "character moment" in the entire episode. It's a shame the scenario they used to railroad this moment into being was so fucking contrived.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

I had a lot of issues with this episode (some listed above) but Discovery still going into the future once "Leland" was killed and Control seemed defeated was not one of them. Remember Mama Burnham said no matter what she did Control always ended up with the Sphere data. Also remember that the Discovery crew thought they had defeated Control after the end of Project Daedalus when Airiam was dead and the station was destroyed, but Control managed to piggyback via Mama Burnham back into the 23rd century. Any defeat downtime would only be temporary without moving the Sphere data out of reach.

Now, why they picked the future - rather than 1 billion years in the past, or just spore jumping to Andromeda or an alternate universe - I'm really not sure.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Apr 18, 2019, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

That was a fairly satisfying - though not perfect, finale to the season.

What I Liked:

Spock's final monologue was on point. Peck is so damn much better at delivering these monologues without making them seem overwrought than SMG is.

I was expecting the Klingon cavalry to come in, but I enjoyed L'Rell's crowning moment of awesome, particularly the "Today is a good day to die"

Siranna showing up, on the other hand, was totally unexpected. A bit forced honestly (how did they learn to fly Ba'ul ships so fast?) but it was still a nice touch which helped to tie Saru's arc this season in with the season arc as a whole.

In general, I feel like the the arc tied together much more neatly than last season. The way out of the "seven signals" issue was not totally unexpected, but it was a nice answer for why we had yet to see two of them. And yeah, in retrospect - since they wrote everything towards this conclusion - I can see how each of the earlier five signals was building towards this point in the finale. They found a way to work faith back into the arc as well. So even if they made hash of the planned arc midway through the season, they managed to salvage it by the end.

What I Disliked:

The action and VFX were overstuffed. The space battle was much more beautifully rendered than in the first season, but it was so busy that it was hard to keep track of action. And while I appreciated seeing Burnham relive the five earlier signals from her POV, it really was just episode padding.

You mean to tell me that all you need to do in order to stop a photon torpedo from blowing up a ship is to close emergency bulkhead doors? The scene made some emotional sense (someone had to make a heroic sacrifice) but it didn't make a lick of logical sense.

I don't understand how destroying Leland was enough to kill Control - at least locally. One would imagine AI is a distributed intelligence, and just like how he was simultaneously able to possess Leland and that mook the other week he would be able to run on the ships and within Leland at once. Not that it mattered much, since by the time Control "died" Discovery was already on its way out, but still.

Spock telling Michael how damn special he was to him during the scene where he was stranded in the shuttlecraft was laying it on a bit thick. Not that I think it's out-of-character in any way for Spock to feel deeply for someone underneath the surface, but being that explicit and overwrought about it was just eye-rolling.

Also, I find it curious they decided to end the episode from the POV of the Enterprise crew rather than the Discovery crew. While as I said Spock's closing monologue was good, it sure gave the impression that we were going to pick up next with the Pike series rather than with Michael & company.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Sanctuary

@ Zifnab

The Moclan ambassador was played by Tony Todd, a well-known Trek alumnus who (among other roles) played Worf's brother Kurn and the grown-up Jake Sisko in The Visitor.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 8:20am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

Man, they found a way to fit in every single recurring character other than L'Rell (who got her sendoff last time) this week huh? I mean we get":

1. Sarek and Amanda inexplicably showing up in their shuttle which travels at the speed of plot.

2. Admiral Cornwell, who is on Enterprise when they rendezvous just because, and then is onscreen for all of 30 seconds with one line. Seriously, did they cut something here?

3. Jett Reno, who hasn't vanished into the place she's hidden for most of the past season in the bowels of Discovery.

4. Georgiou, who shows up again as the plot requires.

5. Number One - which is understandable given they hooked up with the Enterprise.

6. Leland - via the visions of Michael and Jett

7. Mama Burnham via footage Michael is watching.

8. Po - for no particularly good reason, given anyone could tech the tech to plot the plot.

In addition, everyone who is part of the main cast gets scenes here, including people who have been relatively ignored in recent episodes, like Tilly and Stamets. No wonder the episode was so light in plot, when they had to fit so many people in!

Honestly, what this makes me realize is the more standard Trek format where most/all of the recurring characters are onboard a single ship, helps make for a much more straightforward show, because you don't have to come up with a series of contrivances to fit everyone into a given episode.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Sanctuary

Not a bad episode at all. I think I heard Marina Sirtis was doing a cameo this episode, but Tony Todd was a nice surprise. That man always deserved more work. More broadly, this was another episode with heart, and managed to perform the Trek "issue episode" dance much better than some of The Orville's other outings.

That said, I had a few issues with it. First, I am feeling a bit Moclan-ed out. This is the third full-on Moclan episode this season - arguably the fourth if you include the whole urination ritual thing in the season premier (which was I think more a framing device). The biggest issue with the episode, however, was I felt like the ending was - at least on a global sense - kinda a reset button. Rather than have to make a harsh choice between realpolitik and ideals, The Union splits things down the middle, and any sort of wider ramifications are kinda scuttled. The only lasting change may be that Bortus's relationship with Klyven is even more disfunctional than it already was.

Oh, and another random aside - although Isaac is seen in this episode, I don't think he had any lines. One wonders why they went to the trouble of keeping him if he isn't going to play any role in the show beyond an extra? They must still be hoping for a third season I suppose.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

I really didn't enjoy this episode that much overall.

There were good elements of it of course. I'm not immune to the fanwank of seeing the Enterprise. And the script had a lot of nice character moments that I enjoyed - elements I'm guessing were due to Michelle Paradise. I also liked for the first time in the past three episodes Control was largely off camera, allowing us to deal with the characters directly and not focus on the silly threat.

That said...my god the arc is ending in a contrived manner. There's very clearly an endpoint they wish to get to, and everyone is doing what they are not because it makes sense in a manner rooted in their character, but because they either are or are not going to be in Season 3 of Discovery. So all of the main cast just decide to follow Michael into the future and abandon their families...just because. Except Tyler, who loves her, but apparently can't leave because he's needed for the Section 31 spinoff??? I'm not even getting into the technobabble in this episode. It was very, very hard for my disbelief to be suspended because it's pretty transparent they're no longer even really interested in finishing up the story for this season, just teeing up the story for next season. The character moments also, while nice, were kinda turned up to 11 to the point of melodrama in parts - like Sarek and Amanda just showing up right in the nick of time before a battle just because they thought it would make a nice scene. Small universe syndrome anyone?

I dunno, maybe 2.5 stars?
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

There's a key line in this episode, where Gant/Control outright says that Section 31 stepped up its threat assessment program in the wake of the Klingon War. This is important because it implies with no Klingon War, there's no Control. Season 1 established - somehow, I guess - that Michael Burnham caused the Klingon war singlehandedly. Hence if she goes back in time and fixes her childhood - ensuring her father doesn't die and her mother isn't lost in time as the Red Angel - Control is butterflied out of existence. Which is more fodder to the hypothesis that we're heading towards a retcon which essentially erases the first two seasons (outside of First Contact style plot-armor for the main characters) from continuity entirely.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 8:50am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

I hate to say it, but [spoiler removed]
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 9:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

Much better than last week, or even the week before. Still no If Memory Serves though.

Breaking down my thoughts on each part of the show:
The Pike on Boreth plot was mostly great. Anson Mount put in a great performance, and it was chilling - yet gripping - to see the accident finally dramatized. It was also nice to see a different sort of Klingon from what we are used to with the monks. My only problem with the episode is nothing about the time crystals in this episode made a lick of sense. I'd say it was a fantasy element dropped into a science-fiction show, but it's not even that. It's just a hastily constructed plot device which does what the show requires. As long as you ignore that, however, it was a good element of the episode.

The Burnham/Spock B plot on the Section 31 ship was meh. First, SMG's acting was off this episode again. Like the time that she said to Spock "I'm not angry, I'm furious" in a completely level tone of voice. Even two episodes ago I thought she was really hitting it out of the park. But in every scene, she's outshone by Peck as Spock. Even outshone by the Control-possessed mook of the week, who is a convincing character until he goes all bond villain. Which gets to the other issue - the plot is boilerplate, and does nothing whatsoever to even bring the arc along further. Honestly, I'm not sure who thought it would be helpful to have fights for two weeks in a row between a character and a control-assimilated person. The only thing I can think of I'm supposed to get out of this is that losing mama again knocked Michael back on her heels, and this gets her groove back. But I think that could have been dealt with through a 5-minute conversation somewhere, with more focus on Pike.

There's a couple bits of non-plot character work. One is Ash's journey - dealing with his unsettled feelings about abandoning his son, meeting L'Rell again, etc. The initial bits where he talks to Michael about things is painful - as are all his scenes with Michael. His later scenes with L'Rell are much, much better. Still, I've come to the conclusion Latif just isn't one of the best actors on the show. He's not given the best role, but he does nothing with it other than make it relentlessly bland, where a greater actor would help to bring out the torture within.

The other big character work involves Stamets and Culber. This stuff is great. Stamets gets basically one scene, but considering how much the show has been ignoring him, it's great that he got that one scene. Culber is kinda bland in comparison to the last few episodes in sick bay, but he's really there to get lectured to Reno (and Tig Notaro shows she can do more than snark). The group mess hall scene was much appreciated, but...where the fuck is Tilly? You have Stamets and Reno eating with four extras, and you can't have Tilly there? Did she even appear in this episode?
So yeah, good, but not great.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 8:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

I should note that for all of the flaws of this episode, Michael for the third episode straight was mostly a passive character who didn't really accomplish much.

Who - at least temporarily - saved the galaxy by stopping the download of the sphere data? Georgiou, with a tiny bit of help from Tyler and Pike. All Michael did was help destroy the containment field so Leland couldn't kill her mother Gabrielle. But she stupidly procrastinated on this till what seemed like the last possible second - something which was so painful to watch I use the ten second fast forward at one point.

Also, the episode goes out of its way to establish that Gabrielle was the only one who ever used the Red Angel suit. Basically every time we've seen the suit on screen it's mentioned as a visit by her mother. This, coupled with the seeming destruction of the time crystal, means that there really isn't much of a chance of Michael taking over for her mother. Gabrielle even tells Spock the reason she chose to reach out to him was his dyslexia (ugh, I know) which means it had nothing much do do with his being Michael's adoptive brother.

The conclusion of all of this is unlike last season there really is nothing special about Michael at all - except to her mother. She's just some rando who has been put at the center of great events by happenstance. For now anyway.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 8:16am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

So, I realized in the morning while people keep claiming the Control story has been raided from Terminator, it's really a horror movie storyline. Like something from the Cthulhu Mythos. Which is why it doesn't work at all.

Think about it. You have a being of vast power outside the realms of normal time. Like Cthulhu once was, Control will be, and yearns to exist in the present. There is a book of secret knowledge (the Sphere data) which will, if fully read, cause it to manifest itself. And it's capable of possessing individuals - it has done so twice.

The reason it does not work is although the season has been suspenseful, it's not really been frightening in any way. So much of good psychological horror comes down to direction, and Discovery is just directed like an action-adventure show. There were a few scenes last night that could have been creepy if done better (like Leland's "assimilation" and the scene with his face partially disassembled) but for some reason they won't go the whole nine yards and commit to what it is - which is horror.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

That episode didn't really do it for me.

First, I'll say on the good side, the actress they cast as Burnham's mother was great. Her vocal cadence was down cold. Also, the plot was somewhat more coherent and straightforward than last week, and the action bits were well done.

That said, this was fundamentally a hollow episode. The first 2/3rds of it was largely a visit by the exposition fairy once again, while the last 1/3 featured that cliche "ticking time bomb" crisis which also happens slow enough to have a touching emotional goodbye complete with hesitation. Perhaps the single worst thing however is that unlike last episode, there really are very few great character moments. Mama Burnham in particular was a waste of a character, as she's literally portrayed as a vehicle for exposition - nothing less and nothing more - until the last few minutes. Everyone in the episode though is basically just getting pulled around like marionettes due to the needs of the plot.

I dunno what I'd rate it. Probably two stars, because it's a bit worse than last week.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:16am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

@ Spockless

Disney now owns Fox Studios, but not the Fox TV network. They can continue to sell legacy Fox programming to the TV network, but once the contracts run out, it will cost Fox just as much as buying shows from any other independent studio. As a result it's widely thought Fox is going to pivot away from scripted TV, towards more sports coverage and cheap reality television. It's also widely thought that Disney is going to systematically dismantle Fox Studios and merge it into their existing system.

It's possible I suppose The Orville survives and moves over to ABC, since Disney owns it.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 9:54am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

I have to admit being a little confused as to how time was working in the simulation. The show made us believe the simulation was basically constantly running - at least in "silent mode" - given his love interest was texting him when he was outside of the simulator, and when he went inside after being gone for awhile, time passed. But this would seem to be a waste of the ship's resources.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 7:49am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

In a lot of ways, this episode is a ripoff of the Voyager episode Fair Haven. You have a main cast member who falls in love with a hologram, tweaks the hologram to their own specifications, and then learns there are repercussions for doing so - that you can't really have a convincing facsimile of a relationship if you're always in "god mode" altering whatever elements make you unhappy. Because real human relationships are about not having things under your control and rolling with it.

That said, it did a better job pulling this off than the bland Fair Haven. The result was still basically fluff though. It didn't really tell us anything deep about Malloy as a character. We already knew he was kind of a loser when it came to women after all.

I do wish they hadn't had the "ensemble piles onto Malloy" dynamic though, and just had the A-plot focus solely on Mercer acting not as Malloy's captain, but his best friend. I think there would have been the potential for some good character work there.

Also, where the hell was Isaac this week?
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 10:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: The Red Angel

I called the "Burnham's mom is the Red Angel" thing a few weeks ago, so I was not all that surprised at the twist.

Anyway, this episode was kinda a roller-coaster for me.

The first bit - Airiam's funeral - was quite well done with nice emotional beats, although it arguably laid it on a bit think in places.

Most of the rest of the first half of the episode was mediocre as hell. Tons of Red Angel-related technobabble. Leaden scenes with Michael and Ash (including Ash once again - unconvincingly - defending Section 31). That weird scene with Georgiou flirting with Stamets. The culmination of this was the scene with Leland and Burnham, which - despite one of the best performances from SMG to date - just came across as idiotic. Leland was partially responsible for the "death" of Michael's parents - but only in the sense he fucked up his job. And it was decades in the past. I thought that Michael's response seemed way, way too overwrought - as if he was one of the Klingons or something.

But from then on in, the end run of the episode turned from bad to good. Burnham's discussion with Spock was fantastic. Georgiou began being more than a cartoon character. The Culber/Cornwell discussion was unexpectedly gripping. And the last 10 minutes finally built some tension and action into an episode which had been - up until that point - just a bunch of people talking in rooms.

I'd say 2.5 stars for this one personally, though it's hard to rate, given some sections were good, and others were frankly bad.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 10:18am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Thinking about it more, the unearned emotional beats regarding Airiam don't annoy me as much as last night. Basically the showrunners had been responsible for the arc, and Michelle Paradise wrote this episode. She was already handed a scenario where Airiam was compromised by Control, and needed to be defeated in some manner by the episode's end. She had two options. One was to not develop Airiam and treat her as a shallow plot device (as Discovery has often treated even main characters like Stamets) that needed to be defeated by Burnham. The other was to develop her into a character. She chose the latter. That the payoff was unearned is ultimately the fault of the showrunners, but it doesn't mean the writing of this episode was badly done.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 10:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Viewed in isolation, the episode had a lot of good elements. The dialogue in the last episode seemed like it went up around 15 IQ points, and it's continued here. I liked the little touch where Detmer essentially lampshaded to Airiam that they were secondary characters (the whole "going on an away mission" thing - considering Airiam was actually fairly high ranking it made little sense in universe, but made sense to us as viewers. The acting was for the most part great too (I never really liked Cornwell that much in the first season, but this one sold me on her as a character). Frakes did a good job with direction as well, although there were admittedly a few shots (the pan when Cornwell came out of the shuttle, and some of the slow-motion fight stuff) which was too stylized.

That said, as with others, I felt like the episode lost a lot of potential impact because Airiam was not well developed as a character. Hell, she wasn't even a character. In the first season, she was an extra. This season, she got a few more lines in earlier episodes, but wasn't even as developed as Detmer and Owo. It felt kinda like when Voyager would introduce a special guest character and then kill them off at the episode's end - which is not a good thing. Actually, it's a bit more extreme, because the episode was consciously framed largely from the POV of Airiam. Again, if they built her up as a character for the last season and a half, it would have been awesome. But I didn't get the feels with the emotional response to her death at the end. I just didn't.

A more minor quibble is the sudden veer into the plot - Cornwell's shuttle shows up, and she gives an infodump - was just a bit too much for me to suspend disbelief. Maybe I've gotten used to serialized drama, but I expected a tiny bit more connective plot tissue here. Some sort of indication as to what life on the run has been like for Discovery. We didn't get that.

The episode also felt curiously half-finished. Don't they still have to get in and disable/reset Control? Are they waiting till next episode? Will it happen off camera?
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Here's an outside the box idea: The Red Angel is Burnham's mother.

Not Amanda - Burnham's birth mother.

Consider the following:
The Red Angel personally intervened to save Michael's life.
The Red Angel is female and human.
Burnham never actually saw her parents die - she was hiding in a cupboard IIRC.
Section 31 - Leland in particular - is somehow responsible for their "deaths."
Sarek raised Michael, and had connections to Section 31.Basically maybe Burnham's parents were either working for Section 31 or their work was known to them. Their research involved time travel. Control rules it was too dangerous and they must be killed. Burnham's mom somehow escapes into the future, finds a future suit, and is battling with Control across the timeline.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Spock explicitly said that the Red Angel is human. If we take him at his word, it can't be "Zora" since she's an AI. Mind you, this is an absolutely horrendous idea which would totally ruin Calypso, which was a sweet little character study. It's like if TNG decided to follow up The Inner Light by revealing that the flute was a piece of advanced technology which allowed Picard to travel through time and space whenever he played it. Fanwank at its absolute worst.

The Red Angel saving Burnham does not mean that it couldn't be FutureBurnham. Some hypothesis about time travel suggest it would be possible if it happened in a closed loop - meaning someone was always "fated" to go into the past and do something. This would mean there was no free will, and the future was as determinate as the past, but that's how some physicists think of time anyway. Time is literally no different than the three dimensions of space - it's just an illusion of how our consciousness is set up that we seem to "move forward" through it.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Regarding the Red Angel, it's now established by Spock it's a human. Also, Spock said "she" - which I think was obvious given those hips, but some people still seem to think it's a man for some reason.

Given how this show works, the Red Angel is probably someone we've met before, probably the main cast. Frankly, Tilly wouldn't fit into that suit. That leaves, in decreasing order of likelihood, Burnham, Georgiou, Reno, Cornwell, and Amanda.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:18am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

Better than the terrible astrology episode, but not great.

On one hand, I'm glad after 1.5 seasons Malloy finally got a focus episode, giving Scott Grimes a chance to showcase that he can be more than awkward comic relief - that there's greater depths to his character than being...well...an idiot.

On the other hand, it basically plays like a slightly above-average Voyager episode. There's nothing at all here we haven't seen many times before. Considering the roll that The Orville was on for the last several episodes, this is a huge effin let down.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 10:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Don't have much substantive to say, except - given the rating system here - I would call this a four star episode. On a ten point scale it would probably be a nine though, due to some minor flaws (like Ash still not doing it for me). Still, overall it's far and away the best executed episode of Discovery to date. It feels like Trek, was well directed/paced, had good emotional beats, and the exposition was handled in a relatively artful way.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

I don't buy the argument that just because Enterprise fucked up the Temporal Cold War it can never be revived. TNG fucked up the Ferengi after all, and DS9 somehow salvaged them as a concept.

That said, I think it's very, very hard to get the TCW to make a lick of sense. I say this because any effort to alter the past would destroy the future due to a temporal paradox. This has been established numerous times in Star Trek.

The best way to square this away is to presume whatever temporal incursions the Red Angel and the "squid faction" are doing were always destined to happen, because they happened in the past and time is a closed loop. But if this is the case, the Trekverse is completely deterministic, and there's no drama in the outcome whatsoever.
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