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William
Mon, Nov 11, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Rise

I was bored to death with this one. Tried my best not to look to my phone ALL the way.
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William
Sun, Nov 10, 2019, 5:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Darkling

That was the first time I read all of the comments section. And after umlauts, opera and Newton, all I have to say is: GOOD GOD GIRL GET A GRIP
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William B
Thu, Nov 7, 2019, 11:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Tears of the Prophets

I have problems with this episode, but Sisko dejectedly heading to Earth isn't one of them. While it's not exactly the bravest move, I think the idea here is that Sisko simply cannot face the Bajorans right now, in the absence of the Prophets and their "guidance" (instructions), and the Bajorans' apparent expectations that he'll be able to tell them what to do, particularly since he feels responsible for their absence, compounded with the loss of his best friend to his arch-enemy (which he also feels responsible for). Based on how dependent the Bajorans are on the Prophets for their religious meaning, it's not clear what a Bajoran monastery would look like now that the orbs have all gone dark etc., and it wouldn't exactly be a soothing place for a Sisko who wants an escape.
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William B
Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

I was thinking a bit about one moment Elliott brought up, which is when Worf says that he's not some weak human afraid to face death. One thing to consider is that in context:

O'BRIEN: I'm not some bloodthirsty Klingon looking for an excuse to murder my friend.
SISKO: That's enough.
WORF: No. You're just another weak human afraid to face death.

One thing that's interesting is that while I don't think it's in character for Worf to start on this anti-human stuff, it *is* in character for Miles to reach for this kind of racism (or species essentialism, if you prefer), particularly in stress. Miles likes Worf and considers him a friend, and I can't really remember him having bad things to say about Klingons generally, but of course he's struggled with Cardassians in the past, and we know in, e.g., Hippocratic Oath he was far less optimistic about the possibility of the Jem'Hadar getting freed of the White (and thus the Dominion) than Julian. And of course the Federation is "at war" with the Klingons (or whatever). I think it's a knee-jerk reaction consistent with the way Miles locks down and tries to simplify things to cope.

So on that note, I think we can read Worf's reply less as being about Worf being racist against humans and more as his being retaliatory: he matches Miles' species criticism in kind, repaying Miles' insult. This *kind of* works, but I still don't quite buy it. I think Worf refusing to just sit by and take Miles' insult is in character. I think him snapping back at him is in character. But I guess I don't think that Worf, raised by humans, would go for the human insult in this way. If it were on some issue like humans' approach to sex and commitment, or something, then, sure -- it's not like there aren't significant worldview differences. But Worf was rescued and raised by brave humans; he knew Yar who survived hell and then died in the line of duty; he watched Picard and Riker step into the Klingon world with gusto; he fought against the Borg invasion with the Enterprise crew; he grappled with Marla Astor's death under his command; he commanded the Defiant in battle. Worf lives and rlies on humans in a ay Miles doesn't live and rely on Klingons.

Elliott's going in chronological order, so I'm jumping ahead a bit, but in Star Trek: First Contact, Worf's famously dramatic riposte to Picard's stress-induced lashing out at him was "If you were any other man I would KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND." It's absurd and melodramatic, but what works about it is that it doesn't generalize away from Picard's insult to his entire species; Worf both acknowledges what Picard means to him and how inappropriate Picard's statement is. I think Worf snapping back at Miles would be perfectly in character; I think though that it would work better if Worf still made it more about Miles' insult to him (and his species) rather than playing Miles' species-comparison game. I think if Worf had personalized it and said "The difference between us is that I am not too weak and afraid to face death," it'd be perfectly fine. The species-essentialism of it is what seems smaller and pettier than Worf at least should be.
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William B
Wed, Oct 30, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

I think Kennedy will also be remembered for his assassination, at least for a time - - not that this has any bearing on whether he was a good president or person. I think the Cuban Missile Crisis is also one of the most famous instances of brinksmanship in the Cold War and so that will also stick to his name.
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William B
Mon, Oct 28, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@Springy,

I really like this episode and I agree with your comments about it. A few more things I'd like to add:

Fajo's interest in Data is specifically because Data is an object -- but an extremely valuable object, *because* "it" is so close to a man. This is similar to Maddox. Maddox wasn't evil in the same way Fajo is, but I think in both cases we can understand how deeply the contradictions in how humanoids see Data: he is so valuable specifically because he is *almost* a person, but not quite. He wouldn't be so exceptional if he was a person; and he wouldn't be exceptional if he were much further from being a person. The Enterprise crew for the most part, and *especially* Geordi, actually sees Data as valuable *as* a person (we see Picard also quoting Hamlet, "He was a man, taken for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again."). The way Geordi finds him is because Data would not be sloppy -- which is because Geordi admires that quality in Data, and also because Geordi "knows" that Data doesn't have human flaws like the rest of us.

With Fajo, he definitely sees Data as special *not* because Data is merely an object -- Data embarrasses Fajo by playacting a pure object. He also does not see Data as special because he's a person, because Fajo has no interest in or respect for persons -- as we see the way he treats Varria. He values Data because of his rarity and uniqueness, yes -- he's one of a kind -- but also because Data is on this object/person borderline. And that's also how Fajo seeks to control him: he knows what Data's ethical programming means, and he knows that he can manipulate Data by using Data's valuing life.

Data's ability to break free from Fajo requires him to stop being an object entirely. The question though is whether that renders Data less unique and less valuable, in a way. If Data is just another flawed person, then does that actually make him lesser? Does that make him in a way more like Fajo? More broadly, the answer is no, because Data is not as selfish or sociopathic as Fajo, nor does he value sentient life as little as Fajo does. But he can be as cold and calculating as Fajo, as *emotionally* distant, and the thing that separates him from Fajo -- and Lore for that matter -- is his placing value on humanoid life. The act of deciding to kill Fajo is his discovering that his valuing of humanoid life is not absolute. This isn't a knock on Data. It takes incredible idealism, and naivete, to believe that it's possible to never make a choice to protect one life over another. And indeed we know that Data has killed before, as discussed in this episode, in the line of duty. But he *is* in a situation in which there is a (self-sacrificial) course of action open to Data in which all lives are spared -- he just complies with Fajo forever. What Fajo is counting on is that Data's valuing his life is great enough that Data will continue allowing others to die by Data's inaction, or Data will agree entirely to Fajo's terms. The choice to kill here wears away at one of the things that separates Data from Fajo.

With Fajo in the cage at the end, Data seems to be both lording it over Fajo and also re-establishing the previous version of events: "No, sir, it does not. I do not feel pleasure. I am only an android." Is that the truth or a lie? I don't think Data entirely knows what it means. That said, I believe that Data does not feel pleasure. I think he is attempting to...gloat, almost, to Fajo. But I also don't think he gets satisfaction out of it. There is a tinge of...almost despair to it. Data's statement that he is "only an android" seems to be in part a reaction to what it meant for Data to stop being an android. For most of the series, Data's quest to be more than an android is presented in positive terms -- that he can love, procreate, change. Here the possibility is raised that Data's growth might mean that he'll become worse, more like Fajo. Some part of Data recoils, obfuscates, lies, because he doesn't entirely want to be this kind of human(oid). It's appropriate that Data recoils from being too human and reasserts his android-ness, makes himself back into an object, the moment he becomes sufficiently close to a human(oid) so vile that he realizes that he does not value his life enough to preserve it.

I think the issue isn't just that Data learns to attempt to kill Fajo, I think it's that he actually realizes that he understands Fajo, at the end, and wants to be, or at least pretend to be, "just an android" again so he doesn't have to.
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

@Peter, Skeptical,

Interesting points about Tasha. I think either could be correct.

One thing that makes me tend to agree with Peter is that the big sacrifice of the episode is that Tasha doesn't exist in the other world. I wonder if we can interpret this as basically saying that this world's Tasha - - competent, icy, controlled, badass in a quiet way, heroic - - is someone who actually fits in better in the "war" world than in the peaceful version of the Enterprise. Obviously the literal reason she only exists in this one is because Armus didn't kill her, but maybe the symbolism in it is that this Tasha, who is genuinely admirable, is someone who is in some ways made for war, and cannot really exist in a peaceful world. I think this presents us with a pretty beautiful message about heroic soldiers, wherein Tasha willingly sacrifices herself for a world which not only she doesn't live in, but couldn't, but which is better for everyone else that she cares about. This maybe works if we take this episode as arguing (retroactively, of course) that s1 Tasha didn't quite come into focus partly because she wasn't actually in her element. And indeed the show didn't really need her. I'm not saying the show, at its post-s1 superior self, couldn't make good stories about a warrior adapting to relative safety (they do this type of thing with Worf, Ro, Kira, Torres sort of), but it might be that the best way for Tasha to shine is in this type of story, which maybe shows this is more the real Tasha (in a way).
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

@Springy, great catch on invidium!
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

The reveal that it was a person who was the root of the plot problem and not the tech also suggests that at the root of Reg's holodiction is interpersonal problems, not the holodeck tech itself. (More generally, it's generally not the chemical effects of the drug that are the root of the problem, but the usually-social problems that cause a person to take it in the first place.)
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William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 10:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Peter,

(spoilers)

I agree.

One thing I was thinking of adding is that while I agree with Elliott that Kilana's choice to hide the Founder's death from Sisko doesn't necessarily make sense in and of itself, it is consistent with the Founders' default assumption of solids' untrustworthiness. In fact, while I don't know if this was intended, I would believe that the Founders (and their Vorta as a result) would want to not only recover their dying Founder, but ideally even avoid revealing that one was dying in the first place. If we assume that the Founders were afraid of showing any vulnerability and were betting everything on recovering the Founder without the solids even finding out it was sick, out of fear that this sickness would be used against them (possibly down the line) then their actions also make sense. The Founders appear to continuously hide evidence of their vulnerabilities, even when hiding them appears to hurt them more than if they came forward with them.
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William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 9:02am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Luke, thanks! That makes sense that it would only be a backstory invented once they wanted to bring back the dead Weyoun.
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William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

(I forget, has it been established by this point in the series that the Vorta are cloned?)
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William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Elliott,

I'm largely in agreement. Especially, I get the nagging sense from this episode that the deaths should have been much more strongly a result of considered choices that Sisko (et al.) made. So either the question should be about whether it was worth it to do a survey mission in the GQ, OR there should have been more indication that the deaths were the result, even partly, of Sisko making strategic calls based on wanting the Ship/"not trusting each other"/etc. and it's maybe marginally true in Muniz' case that he could have gotten Muniz medical care earlier, but even then it's not brought out that strongly what he could have plausibly done.

The Worf material plays very weird IMO. The main way I could see it working is: last year Worf realized he couldn't murder his brother begging him to do so, and his disgust with himself gets spewed outward and projected onto "weak human[s]." I don't buy that explanation though.

I do think Kilana's earrings etc. were meant to be part of the pathetic seduction schtick she attempts, which is meant (in-story) to be a failure and misjudgment. I'm not positive how well it comes across, but I think it's an interesting idea to have the nonsexual Vorta clumsily attempt to use sexual come-ons for these sexually reproducing animals she marginally understands. I feel a little like this element gets lost in the shuffle of the episode, and I'm not sure how well it really fits in with the other themes, but I give it points for the attempt. I think this might be another way to look at Kilana's failure to see that Sisko would let the sick changeling go: she maybe sees the AQ, non-engineered humanoids as brain-stem-dominant marginally sapient animals who evolved to fuck and kill, and lets that prejudice (possibly fueled by disgust) overwhelm what she knows to be true of their values. Maybe. The series does a better job with Weyoun viewing other humanoids through a bemused-zookeeper lens (SPOILER) (culminating in his inability to recognize the signs of Damar's turn).

I'm not sure where I stand on the "genre" issue. I think the DS9 staff can do war episodes if they want, but it should be done well. I agree that it plays as banal in this episode.
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William
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 6:58am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

I rolled my eyes when I saw the design, thinking Dr. Who's Celestial Toymaker and DS9's Move Along Home, but was impressed by the ending.
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William B
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

The subject of the paintings is also a nude woman, but one in an ambiguous pose (IIRC), which speaks to a central concern of whether Manua was being a sex object for Riker or was attempting to entice him sexually. The two styles Data mentions before getting to Picard are geometric constructivism and surrealism/irrationality, suggesting scientific and delusional/emotional motifs, as the murder intrigue is related to both Apgar's work and to feelings related to his wife. Picard attempts to blend several different styles, as Springy/Peter note, which is what he attempts to do. I think within episode we are supposed to view Picard as being more successful as an investigator than as a painter at combining multiple perspectives into a coherent narrative to get at The Truth.
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William
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 7:27am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Prototype

I'm sure when activating an unknown alien device you'd at least put it in a containment force field?
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William B
Mon, Oct 7, 2019, 8:53am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

@Elliott, ah I see. I thought the character ranking was per season, with the +- for information about trends. That makes sense, though I guess I'd admit surprise that the cumulative effect of four seasons of Bashir would be higher than four seasons of Garak (e.g.) even though I completely agree Bashir had a great fourth season and Garak a poor-for-Garak one.
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William B
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

Hey so, I happened to catch "The Vulcan Hello" (not "Battle at the Binary Stars"). I don't have particular plans to follow up on this series at the moment. I'm aware of how generally divisive Discovery is around these parts (though I have gotten the impression that probably a majority of comments are negative).

I had already heard enough about the series to have gone in with some preconceptions, which is regrettable but maybe unavoidable. It's hard to know how I would have felt going in absolutely cold. Still: I expected, based on my familiarity with the performers alone, to like Michelle Yeoh and Doug Jones, and I did. Visually I expected to dislike the lens flares, and I did, but otherwise I generally liked the look of things.

Klingons: I guess my immediate feeling is that I don't like the Klingon redesign. My feeling is that the Klingons are designed to look even uglier and more fearsome than the design from The Motion Picture forward so as to make them be more obviously antagonistic, probably in an effort to (eventually) reveal that they're people deep down, no matter how ugly they are. The problem with this is that we already know the Klingons, so if there's a reveal that they're not so bad underneath it all it won't be much of a shock; and if they are mostly going to remain the bad guys it feels cheap to contort them further as part of their repurposing. Maybe it would have been better to just invent a new species as bad guys here? And yes the "we object to non-Klingons" rhetoric is on the nose as political commentary. The scenes drag something fierce.

On the other hand, the basic idea that the Klingons are politically deeply divided and that a war is going to unite them seems like an okay place to start. I'm getting flashbacks of the Kazon, which is not good, but basically it's a backstory that plausibly ties in with the Klingon political unrest that we see in the TNG era. I thought the idea of the bodies being used as symbolic armour was kind of neat.

Sarek: Does not really seem like Sarek to me in terms of performance. I also am not clear on what the deal is meant to be with the Vulcans -- the idea that Vulcans have a secret history with Klingons unknown to Starfleet suggests the Vulcans are not very well integrated in the Federation. I'm not sure how much they are supposed to be separate from the Federation. I'm not all *that* concerned about continuity issues between distinct series, if it's dramatically necessary, but of course the Vulcans are being used because we know so much about them from the other series, so (as with the Klingons) it's a double-edged blade. But anyway, I like the idea of Vulcans using pure logic to get to a we-shoot-first position.

Michael Burnham: I don't have a strong opinion yet on SMG's performance, in part because it's a hard character to pin down. The character concept -- deeply traumatized, then told to suppress her emotions, currently thrown into a situation where she's confronting the species who killed her parents and also getting information from her Vulcan mentor/surrogate father to control her emotions -- seems to demand these huge contradictions and that can explain somewhat the wildness of her actions while other times appearing calm. However, I think the writing choices attempting to show how deeply passionate she is about the Klingon threat tended toward overkill: the radiation exposure with dire warnings that she's about to die, but as long as she gets back to her treatment she'll be fine; her insistence on firing first to start a war (?) and refusal to back down, and then her neck pinching the captain and brazenly mutinying without making it remotely convincing to her crew. The idea with the captain appears to be that because Michael is bad at being a Vulcan, she can do a neck pinch but it only lasts two minutes (?), though really it just feels like the story "needed" some rapid turns to get Michael in a position to do her screwy mutiny while bringing Georgiou back immediately before Michael can actually accomplish anything.

This stuff isn't really convincing, partly because while the stakes are high, the idea that only the Shenzhou can prevent the Klingons from destroying everything and can only do it by opening fire at this exact moment seems insufficiently justified. Michael is clearly meant to be traumatized, but even so I think we're meant to believe that there *is* a logic to her position, just one that is distorted by her wounds. And I'm not sure that the episode earns her going full General Jack D. Ripper on her CO and the Klingons.

So there are problems. That said, I don't think any of the Trek shows' first episodes were exceptional (counting The Man Trap as TOS' "first episode"; I did think both The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before were very good).
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William B
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

@Springy, if it's any consolation I think this is the worst of the season, with one possible exception.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 10:23am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: A Taste of Armageddon

@Chrome, I might be misremembering, but I don't think Kirk's position is exactly against forcing behaviour through the threat of violence. As I think Peter has talked about, TOS seems to not even be that anti-war, exactly. I think Kirk's attitude is that they have to face up to what perpetual war actually means, in order to make an informed choice. Maybe their conflicts really are unresolvable without war, but their current situation is so sanitized that they can't really evaluate it properly. I wouldn't go as far as to say I support Kirk's decision -- it's pretty out there to force a war to be bloodier in order to convince people how to behave. But I think Kirk's position is internally consistent: sometimes violence is necessary, but you have to own it. Not owning up to your violence is what mostly leads to unnecessary violence.

I think in addition to the general Cold War allegory, I think this was specifically about the war in Vietnam, where individuals were shuttled across the world to die in a war that a huge proportion of Americans were basically insulated from, so that for most people, until they or their own relative were drafted, had no real sense of the scale of the loss of life, and even in some cases were able to calmly go into war (like the people in this episode calmly accepting that they've been selected to be killed) because society at large was in such denial as to the reality of what their war entailed. Kirk's actions are in that sense a little bit similar to journalists reporting to Americans on the actual horrors of combat during the war -- levelling with people (to a degree) about what their war actually means, so that they can actually understand it. Not literally, because the journalists weren't really ramping up the war so much as just communicating what was already happening, but I think metaphorically Kirk's doing something similar.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 6:26am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

Well, okay, I'd still put Sisko below O'Brien, and possibly even below Dax. Still.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 6:25am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

I'll add: I'm not a big Sisko fan either, all things considered, though I am much more a fan than Elliott. But anyway, I do think that I'd put him much higher in the season ranking. I agree that For the Cause doesn't work that well for him and I'm not a big fan of much of the Sisko/Worf material this season either. I also dislike To the Death and Shattered Mirror. However, I think The Visitor and Paradise Lost are some of the best moments for the character thusfar, not to mention small but important moments in Rejoined, and while I agree to an extent about the problems Elliott has with Accession, I think Sisko's characterization is strong there too. If I used the same approximate "character ranking" (which seems about right to me) I'd probably put Sisko around where O'Brien is. I'd also probably swap Kira and Dax; the Kira-Dukat stories are quite strong but otherwise Kira is really left hanging, with only Accession and Starship Down focusing on her as a person and I'm not sure how well they works, whereas Jadzia has a (perhaps) surprising amount of good material.
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William B
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Second Season Recap

@Elliott, Peter:

I think I'd argue that of Death Wish, The Thaw and Meld, that Meld is the one that is (relatively) a Voyager-specific story. Not necessarily "quintessentially Voyager," but I do think that it relies both on the specifics of Tuvok's character and on Voyager's isolation in terms of how to deal with a murderer on board. By contrast, Death Wish feels like it needed to be a Trek story and *probably* not on TNG, because it needed to almost step outside Q's TNG arc in order to be able to evaluate it from the outside...but that again doesn't require it to be a *Voyager* story. The Thaw doesn't even really have to be Trek, let alone Voyager, but then I'm not complaining.
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William B
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

@Elliott, welcome back!

I basically agree on broad strokes. The season is very effective -- although effective in a way that is largely in spite of Worf's introduction, despite Dorn having decent chemistry with the rest of the cast. As you say, cut out the Worf episodes (except maybe WotW) and the season improves, and I like the point that "first season problems" are particularly forgivable. Anyway, it's a very good year, for sure, which zeroed in on the series' strengths and had many very strong episodes and few weak ones.
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William
Tue, Oct 1, 2019, 6:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Non Sequitur

Oh, I'm a little late. I hope @Ken got rid of his capitalism worship. After all, people evolve. I have no problem with restaurants in the 24th century, in the age of food replicators. I have microwave meals at home, but I prefer when someone cooks for me in a restaurant.
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