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William
Tue, May 15, 2018, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

I have to admit, I was curious about watching this show thanks to the Roddenberry connection, the cool sounding premise, and some suggestions from friends. Reviews like this one and some clips I've watched have definitely made me reconsider the idea! This sounds like an even bigger squandering of a great concept than Voyager!

You mentioned that you wouldn't be doing a review series for Farscape, but it's something I'd love to hear your opinion on someday, it managed to have some genuinely great action and fun high-concepts while still managing to include some deeper themes, very much what this show seemed to be trying to do.
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William B
Tue, May 15, 2018, 1:44am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

Heh, I agree about Riker actually. In a lot of ways it is as if Riker needs to waste a decade of his life before accepting that he wants to be with Deanna and is just afraid of intimacy. Future Imperfect suggests also that he is partly in love with a hologram -- which (to me) suggests he also has a kind of idealized picture of what a romantic partner should be, or what it would take for him to settle down, which is basically an impossible standard. We can maybe tie in his mother's death too.

I still used him as a kind of shorthand for saying that I don't think the series is really entirely arguing against the free-love position. However, in practice I think it is mostly ambivalent about it -- not fully against it, but suggesting it is incomplete or may be a defense mechanism people use because of fear of real intimacy.
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William B
Tue, May 15, 2018, 12:01am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

@Peter,

Yeah, I was thinking about K'Ehleyr being half Klingon too, and I agree that this muddies things. I also agree that the fact that K'Ehleyr thinks that sex did mean something in this case doesn't mean that it would *always* mean something. And I think maybe there's where I agree with you on the sort of overall shape of TNG (at least early TNG) with regards to the free-love material.

If she's, uh, half-conservative (????), then it may be that we are led to view things in this way:

Maybe the point is that free love is fine for some people -- like Riker, again as the classic example within this series. But Riker, at least at his best, is basically open about what he wants. I don't think Riker have sex with someone *knowing* that that person would expect marriage and then balk afterwards; he'd be pretty forthright ahead of time. K'Ehleyr's free-love advocacy comes after she's already crossed a line with Worf that she should reasonably have anticipated, and so I think in her case, not only is she wrong, but I think we can see that she's using the free-love thing as a shield to avoid dealing with her feelings. Now K'Ehleyr still is surprised by Worf, but I think that speaks to how much she was caught off guard by her own emotions. If she wasn't intensely caught up with feelings for Worf, she would have probably been able to think through how Worf would take it, and while I think K'Ehleyr has flaws I think she'd probably generally be considerate about another person's values. The reason she isn't with Worf is because she's so overwhelmed -- because sex with him is an expression of love, and her attempt to deny that only makes her more miserable.

So I guess I should say, I think the episode's point is more nuanced than that free-love is correct and that social conservative people will slowly catch up. I don't think it's arguing against the free love position in all cases -- basically I imagine they'd have to have Riker get scolded, at least indirectly, for this to be the real meaning -- but I think it *is* saying that there's a lot of value in the social conservative position, and maybe some of the people who rail against it most strongly are people who actually do believe in it deep down, and who are hurting themselves by trying to deny it.

That's, I acknowledge, not *quite* what I was saying above, because I was maybe more characterizing it as being more critical of "free-love" in general, which you're right it probably isn't.
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William B
Mon, May 14, 2018, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

@Peter (and Chrome etc.), I think it depends on how you define "the free love movement." If "the free love movement" generally refers to *any* extramarital sex at all, then I agree that the episode ultimately seems to be supporting that. However, if the free love movement refers to more generally what people seemed to be proposing in the 60's, and what Roddenberry seemed to favour -- which is to say, that sex didn't have to mean anything, and generally didn't, and that sex could be removed from love entirely -- i.e., to support a kind of Riker-ish attitude towards sexuality, I disagree that this is what the episode is saying.

It's a classic romance structure in which both romantic leads start with uncompromising positions and then eventually compromise and start to move towards each other -- and that means that *both* of them start to bend. You've covered Worf's side well, so I won't harp on about that, but let's look at K'Ehleyr's side: she spends the episode basically insisting that there is no point even to try talking to the thawing Klingons. Her episode-long thesis turns out to be totally wrong, and it seems to be that she is blinkered by her own relationship issues with Worf, and to her own relationship with her Klingon-ness. She seems to be both attracted to and aggravated by Worf because he embraces his Klingon-ness whereas she overtly rejects it but it keeps coming back to her, and I think her outsize, glass-table-breaking rage is meant to show not just a Klingon temper (to what she attributes it) but a basic sense of anger that she has at not having as much control over herself (and her Klingon history) as she'd like. What she *wants* is to erase the old Klingons (i.e., THE PAST) entirely, but this is totally the wrong approach. Just as Worf needs to incorporate a little of K'Ehleyr's "modern" flexibility to save the day, K'Ehleyr needs to don the dreaded Klingon uniform and accept a little bit of her Klingon half, and to accept that the Klingons are possible to reason with if approached in the right way.

On that note, I think the episode basically bears out that it's not unreasonable for K'Ehleyr to not want to get married after having sex once. However, K'Ehleyr's statement that "it didn't mean anything" (a nod to the free-love philosophy?) is revealed at the end to be an *outright lie* she reached for in a panic, at the episode's end:

K'EHLEYR: I hid the truth from you. Last night did have meaning. I was tempted to take the oath with you, but it scared me. I've never had such strong feelings toward anyone.

I don't think the episode exactly goes out of its way to say that someone like Riker is wrong and deluded in being promiscuous, but it is very specific in revealing that K'Ehleyr's whole attitude towards Klingons -- who, as Peter points out, are coded as traditionalists / social conservatives -- is misguided and full of her own hang-ups. She doesn't yell at Worf for bringing up The Oath because she is genuinely opposed to it, but because a part of her does believe in it, and she is trying to shut down that part of her because she doesn't feel ready to choose how to spend the rest of her life -- particularly not when she and Worf already have a very volatile relationship which could easily sour. She specifically reached for free-love-type arguments as a way to get out of a lifetime commitment which terrified her, but she eventually admits that *of course* their sex had meaning, and that it was something that was associated with deep love and emotions for her.

I guess what I'm saying is, I know a lot of free-love types who have casual sexual relationships, and that does not match up with what this episode seems to be saying about K'Ehleyr and Worf. Nor is it really validating the social conservative take on sex and marriage. I think it's saying that in their case, the sex was *very* meaningful and significant, and indeed maybe life changing for K'Ehleyr, but not enough for her to be willing to take the plunge and reorder her whole life to marry Worf. And even then, part of that is fear -- which is framed as a character flaw on her part rather than a virtue! -- which she anticipates she will maybe get over:

K'EHLEYR: Maybe someday, when our paths cross again, I won't be as easy to get rid of.

Maybe that is still closer to "the free love movement" than the social conservative perspective, but I think it's still showing significant flaws in "the free love movement" by having K'Ehleyr's attempt to brush their night off as being a complete lie, and having her completely misread the traditionalist Klingons for the whole episode.
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William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

I agree with Peter that there being no mention of the divine in Alixus' philosophy is no smoking gun that this is about the evils of communism; the Federation/Starfleet seems to be secular and most people don't mention the divine very frequently. Nor do I think that this need be about communism specifically.

I also agree with Peter that there are some signals during the series that The Simple Life is missing in the techno-"utopia" of the Federation, and Joseph's statements at the episode's end gesture to that. I don't think it's ridiculous to want to try living with less technology (though that's not what I'm doing) or that there can be something alienating about modernity.

OTOH, I think Rahul is correct that the episode suggests a cult, even without any preconceived notions on the part of the audience. If it is desirable to have a collectivist low-tech agrarian life and such life can be done WITHOUT deeply repressive measures, this episode doesn't show that until *maybe* the very end, where *maybe* it's possible Joseph et al. will be able to build a better society with no Alixus. But this is a society where Alixus hoards all the candles to write her philosophy down and throws Stephen in a hotbox for stealing one; where everyone stands by as Alixus uses more and more repressive means to convince just-arrived strangers to bow to her will; where a member willingly agrees to go seduce Sisko into their, uh, family. It seems as if Alixus at least believed not just that duplicity was necessary to *start* the new society, but that torture was necessary to continue it, and none of the colonists object to her use of torture -- either because they are afraid of her, or because they agree with her. Joseph even seems to agree that O'Brien shouldn't have to bow to Alixus' will, but has to get himself knocked out in order to "allow" it. That doesn't speak highly for this particular group as a positive model; and I don't think this is an incidental considering how central the battle of wills between Sisko and Alixus is to the episode (and how brutal the hotbox is). The silence of the whole community on the use of the hotbox really makes it hard to believe we're meant to see this as a functional society -- especially once it gets used against Sisko, for O'Brien's ostensible crime. Sisko and O'Brien, essentially, didn't ask to be drafted into this society and are obviously being forced into it against their will; even if "the community" agreed on the torture box, Sisko and O'Brien didn't.
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William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

I'll add: in either interpretation Alixus is obviously depicted as wrong to be a torture-happy manipulative authoritarian, and that's definitely bad. The open question is, as Peter says, whether her prescription about how people should live is accurate. And also open is whether a society where people give up readily available tech without being kidnapped and tortured could even be sustained -- if Joseph did decide to leave the tech-suppressor off, would he have to throw someone in the hot box to prevent them from turning it on to call for help next time someone fell ill?
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William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

If anything I'd say the writer seems to believe Alixus was correct that at least for these specific people an exit from the Federation futurism was what was needed, though Joseph suggests they might allow tech again as long as they're together -- so maybe Alixus was wrong about the absolute tech ban, but was correct about the general "true self" stuff and the role of getting rid of most tech to do so. Joseph is presented throughout as a reasonable man and I don't detect much indication in the scripting that we're supposed to view him as a brainwashed cultist. The director ending the episode with a shot of the two children looking longingly and, IMO (IIRC) unhappy at where Sisko and O'Brien beamed out suggests a different take, that the children are basically voiceless, possibly prisoners of a cult that will continue after its leader disappeared. This tension between different creative forces is interesting, but I'm not sure if it quite "works"; I feel a bit like the ep is more "incoherent," with different creative forces acting against each other, than "complex/ambivalent," with a kind of complementary discussion going on. But it's hard to say.
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William B
Fri, May 11, 2018, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

I think the problem I have with Jason R.'s point is that the Prophets are also aliens, and the main reason to consider them Gods is because they are powerful and the Bajorans say so. The problem is that the same argument applies to the Pagh Wraiths and the Founders. Overall, the series more or less deconstructs the Founders' claim to Godhead, but it's not really even their moral bankruptcy but that they are weak enough to be defeated that proves they're not gods. Is the only real reason to treat the Prophets with more respect because they appear to be more powerful than the Founders? Because even then, the Prophets clearly need physical vessels. As Peter says, maybe we should be grateful that it's the Prophets rather than the Pagh Wraiths (or the Founders) who are running things because they appear to sometimes have something that looks like recognizable morality sort of, and seem less obviously motivated by the baser impulses that we see in the PWs and Founders. Still, that's not that much of a comfort.

To put it another way, the proper comparison in the ancient world might be less the Abrahamic god or even Greek gods' interventions but someone like a Pharaoh god-king, who has tremendous power but is still not *actually* so powerful or so different from us that it's pointless to apply human moral calculus to them, and their taking on the god mantle is mostly a way to consolidate their power and make it easier to do things ordinary mortals are forbidden from doing. That seems to be the take the show -- and, especially, Sisko -- has on the Founders and it's not obvious to me why the Prophets are so different. The Founders' collective identity is similar to the Prophets' non linear time identity in being sufficiently different than ours that maybe we can't reasonably judge them, but their actions are still recognized as wrong. I guess conversely, the Founders' expansionist policy is way more consequential than the possession of Sarah.

Probably we should say that in places like Rapture and especially Sacrifice of Angels, Sisko basically has to choose to commit fully to the Prophets in order to anticipate and defeat the Dominion, so basically he had to choose which gods he wanted.
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William B
Fri, May 11, 2018, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Shadows and Symbols

I don't think The Reckoning helps all that much. The Prophet specifies that they had to make The Sisko "because it could be no one else." It sounds to me like it meant that they needed The Sisko, and thus specifically needed Sisko's mother, i.e., a *particular* human woman. In The Reckoning they just needed any willing vessel on a station filled with Bajorans who worshiped them. The Reckoning implies that they'd take a willing vessel over unwilling ones if they are available, which distinguishes them from the Pagh-Wraiths who will take unwilling ones, so that's something. But even the Pagh-Wraiths seem to prefer willing vessels (i.e. Dukat) to unwilling ones, and that doesn't mean they won't use unwilling ones.

I think the burden of proof is on the claim that a human woman was willing to give up her body and two years of her life to some distant, non-linear aliens, particularly when, as far as I can tell, none of the dialogue in Shadows and Symbols indicates any evidence she was willing, and some of it -- Sisko's hurt description of how Sarah did not choose her father and left -- suggests that she was unwilling, or at least that Sisko might be thinking that. I say that as someone who always took from this episode that Sarah was likely an unwilling vessel and that this is what Sisko believes, and that there's no indication of the Prophet attempting to dispel this notion.

However, I will grant that it's possible that Sarah was willing. Normally people don't give up parts of their life to some distant religion, but if the Prophets could convince her somehow that her possession baby is necessary for the salvation of a planet full of people (and also the galaxy) I guess she might go along with it. I'm still pretty skeptical for a number of reasons: for one thing, could the notoriously cryptic Prophets really communicate the importance of this possession baby well enough to convince a human woman to give up her body to them for a bunch of years?
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William B
Thu, May 10, 2018, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@Peter, thanks for the recommendation. What I will say about my recent watchings of Trek over the last few years is that my now-wife (then girlfriend) started TNG a few years ago for the first time, and so I've been slowly watching them with her, for the first time since my adolescence (except for isolated episodes), and so it's largely because of her having not seen them that I've been revisiting them recently. Now one could say that not just I but *she* would get a lot more out of watching Babylon 5 than Voyager, and that's probably true :), but still I wanted to see how my take compared from all those years ago and she was interested, and there is enough worthwhile about Voyager despite its considerable flaws that we're glad we went through it. I don't really think that we're going to watch Enterprise, though, and, well, the jury's out on Discovery but we haven't really been clambering to watch it. We haven't been watching much in the way of TV shows lately actually, but I'll let you (/the board) know if/when we give B5 a shot.
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William B
Wed, May 9, 2018, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@Peter,

I don't really know B5 -- it's on my list, I swear! -- but I think your general point makes sense to me. And I agree about ItPM, and partly it's because while Starfleet (somewhat improbably imo) gives Sisko's initial plan the go-ahead, it is in secret that Sisko and Garak eventually extend this into what actually happens, and we don't have to then buy that everyone around Sisko accepts what he did, the way we do for his more public decisions. It's not that I think everyone would be against his actions, so much as that they would obviously merit discussion. However, since it's in secret and we're not exactly asked to approve so much as understand (and make up our own minds), it avoids the impression that we're supposed to see him as a kind of God among men.
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William B
Wed, May 9, 2018, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

I'll add: one of the reasons Far Beyond the Stars is my favorite Sisko episode is because I think it genuinely gets this duality and expresses it in a way I get, emotionally. Russell and Sisko are both a version of the same ordinary/extraordinary man, and each version is "ordinary" within his own context but with a difficult, extraordinary job, and is also extraordinary within the context of the other (Benny is author/God/creator of Sisko's universe; Sisko is an archetypal inspiration within Benny's). Nowhere else do I feel like I fully get how Sisko is both archetype hero and ordinary man. Other places I feel like I can mostly just see one at a time, and I'm not sure if this is my lack as an audience, or instability in Brooks' performance, or the writing, or what. But it does work completely for me in at least one episode, which is something.
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William B
Wed, May 9, 2018, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@Peter,

Maybe. I mean, I think you're right that this is the cause of some people's disconnect with Sisko. I don't quite think that's my problem -- although it's not impossible. I think that the series as a whole possibly has a tempestuous relationship with how admirable Sisko is supposed to be. On the one hand, as you say, he starts in a relatively small scale position compared to previous leads and his anger and speedy judgments about people are a clear contrast to Picard's more measured diplomatic approach. Relatedly, I suppose, the main cast largely has cordial but more distant relationships with Sisko than we see on the other shows, besides Jake, Dax and Kira. On the other, the series does eventually seem to make Sisko one of the primary decision makers for the quadrant, and so the show still does sort of re-inflate Sisko's stature, and many of his big decisions pass with very little push back (eg saving the Cardassian government in Way of the Warrior, basically starting the war in Call to Arms) in a way that would only make sense if he's meant to be a more traditionally "always right" figure. I think the general intent is to show that Sisko happened to be in a place that turned out to be very important, but the weight he receives still seems out of proportion with the "just a guy doing a job" aspects of the character. Don't get me wrong, I like Sisko in eps like Paradise Lost or In the Pale Moonlight, but something doesn't quite click for me in the way the show goes between having him be the protagonist of both a major war and also religious battle and he's still also the small scale guy who has baseball rivalries with Vulcans. A more realistic narrative would probably have Sisko necessarily have a smaller role in the Federation decision making process and a more mythic story would probably have to remove some of the everyday man elements.

Even as I write this, I think this is an incomplete answer, because I am a fan of many narratives which balance the everyday and mythic and characters who do the same -- and indeed there are many characters within DS9 where I think they balance these banal and mythic qualities in ways that work for me! But it is maybe close to what I find a bit alienating about Sisko, some sort of feeling that we are both supposed to see him as a flawed mortal and a more archetypical hero. Maybe this ties in with Sisko as father, because fathers fulfill both those functions for their children at different times -- as do messiahs who can be both flesh and divine, as in his role for the Bajorans who, at least in Kira's case, do seem to see him as both a flawed person and a sort of divine moral authority.
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William B
Tue, May 8, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

William B is making that case -- sort of. I guess I'd say that Garak is my favourite character and Robinson gives my favourite performance, but maybe I'd give Odo the edge in terms of character arc, both for greater screentime and for more transformations. Garak is not actually static -- he does change throughout the show, as a result of what happens with Tain -- but a lot of his story is about stripping away the layers for the audience, rather than for his own self-image (the way it is with Odo). Odo's my #1 among the regulars. I'm not sure how I'd rank the others. Kira is certainly high but I'm not sure if she'd be #2 or not.

I agree that Meaney is terrific -- and also that O'Brien is somewhat static as a character. That isn't a problem at all -- not everyone should be going through life-changing transformations all the time. I think that of the regulars, Meaney and Auberjonois are my favourite performers.

Next time I watch DS9 I might try harder to get into Sisko. I like Brooks' energy and performance some of the time, and I think I was maybe too hard on the character (both in terms of criticizing the character's actions and in terms of how he was written) when going through the series a few years ago. Something just wasn't clicking, but a lot of it might just have been something about me rather than something about Sisko. The places where I feel closest to him are probably in some of his big season six shows (Far Beyond the Stars, In the Pale Moonlight, Rocks and Shoals) and a few other places, like Paradise Lost, The Visitor and maybe The Maquis two-parter, but a lot of the time I just felt alienated from him and I'm not positive why.
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Alex Williams
Tue, May 8, 2018, 1:22am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

@ Ross Carlton

I agree with all of your points. But an Fminor does not contain an A, it has an Aflat. The difference between an Fminor and a diminished D is, in fact, a whole tone ~ from Cnatural to Dnatural; from the 5th of the Fminor to the root of the Ddiminished.
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William B
Mon, May 7, 2018, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

Although, one can also make the case that Garak is also DS9's strongest character.
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William B
Wed, May 2, 2018, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Drive

You're welcome! And your friend either spoiled you or is messing with you, so, either way, not the *best* of friend behavior (though, not exactly what I'd call cause to cut someone off either!). :)
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William B
Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

I suspect it's because he sees how McGivers reacts to Khan, and how he himself feels some awe for him, that Kirk allows Khan to set up somewhere. It's less about Khan himself than about his followers: if they want to reject the enlightened philosophy and obey a tyrant, Kirk doesn't really feel he should force them to do otherwise. Either the whole lot would have to be locked up, or they can be left alone. It's not necessarily the best solution -- shouldn't one try to see if it's possible to "deprogram" members of a cult? -- but it makes sense, particularly since in the 23rd century there is room enough to allow experimentation with different models.

OTOH, what occurs to me is the question of the (unborn) children: is it fair to let people be born into a tyranny, even if it is "fair" to let people choose to live in one? But I don't mind this being beyond the scope of the episode.
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William B
Tue, May 1, 2018, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Drive

"because I want to see how Tuvok dies (I have two theories, please don't blow it for me)"

If I may ask, since you don't want anyone to blow it for you, where did you learn about Tuvok dying?

"Tom and B'Elanna get married on Voyager about two seasons ago?"

That was in Course: Oblivion in season 5, and it was not the real Tom and B'Elanna, but biomimetic copies, who got married.
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William B
Tue, May 1, 2018, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Suddenly Human

Quick thought about the title (was just reminded because I saw the ep pop up on the comment feed): I like how it refers not just to Jono, but also to *Picard*, who suddenly has to behave in a human (i.e. fallible, personal) role as temporary foster parent, rather than in his more traditional Renaissance Man, and also identifies his actions as wrongheaded (again, fallible) at the end.

In retrospect, it might have been cool if the reason he had survived Jono's attack is because Jono stabbed him in the heart, and his artificial heart could withstand it -- it might connect the story to Picard's youth and also his emotional disconnection (his iron heart is maybe a metaphor for Picard's desire to keep emotional distance from others).
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William B
Mon, Apr 23, 2018, 7:24am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Shattered

As with Human Error, I waited until after watching Endgame to comment on this one, and, you know, SPOILERS for Endgame (i.e. for the whole series): so as Elliott says above, this episode seems to mostly "be about" Chakotay convincing Caretaker-era Janeway of the validity of her decision to strand them in the DQ, using different snapshots of time. As an entertainment I find this episode pretty limp, partly because I really don't think Beltran's bothering much at this point, partly because I don't think that most of the time eras tell us much. An opportunity for a "real" wrap-up between Chakotay and Seska after their complicated history was maybe afforded but discarded for weird and dumb action heroics, even if there is something a little stirring about the crew from different eras of the ship coming together. But anyway, basically we have this brief exchange which seems to be the heart of the story:

CHAKOTAY: With all due respect, it's a little presumptuous to think you have the right to change everyone's future.
JANEWAY: From what I've seen, they'll thank me.
CHAKOTAY: All you've seen are bits and pieces. You're not getting the whole picture.
JANEWAY: Really? Just what am I missing?
CHAKOTAY: It's not what, it's who. People like Seven of Nine, a Borg Drone who'll become a member of this crew after you help her recover her humanity. Or Tom Paris, a former convict, who'll be our pilot, chief medic, and husband to B'Elanna Torres.
JANEWAY: That angry woman I just met?
CHAKOTAY: She's going to be your Chief Engineer. Two crews, Maquis and Starfleet, are going to become one. And they'll make as big a mark on the Delta Quadrant as it'll make on them by protecting people like the Ocampans, curing diseases, encouraging peace. Children like Naomi and Icheb are going to grow up on this ship and call it home. And we'll all be following a Captain who sets a course for Earth, and never stops believing that we'll get there.
JANEWAY: Are you going to be lecturing me like this for the next seven years?
CHAKOTAY: Don't worry, you'll always get the last word.
JANEWAY: In that case, let's get back to work.

So that convinces her. So Chakotay's argument boils down to: yes, there are people who are going to die. But Voyager does good in the DQ, and some people benefit tremendously from being on Voyager. Janeway is convinced by it, and that's that. What he's really convincing her of is the validity of her initial choice in Caretaker, which, in one of the series' dozen or so revisits of the series' opening (figuratively in episodes like Scorpion or Night, literally through time travel/flashback/holodeck/etc. in Projections, Before and After, Relativity, ...), and of Voyager's mission. Chakotay has no doubts, basically, even if Janeway does, and in a way this has been consistent. The splitting of the timeline into shards reflects the impossibility of summing up a grand, huge decision Janeway made in Caretaker and its huge ramifications in a single moment; there are thousands of major consequences that spring from that initial decision, and it's really beyond human understanding to evaluate them all at once, except (possibly) through metaphor or sci-fi shenanigans.

Given that this is the core of the episode, it's not really even a Chakotay show -- his role is just to bolster early-Janeway. And it maybe suggests that despite the promises of conflict or whatever, Janeway does basically need Chakotay in order to believe in her initial decision, and maybe even needs him to stop from going mad. His faith in her is what keeps her going, more so than anyone else's. That there's a suppressed romantic component to that faith is also referenced in the episode:

JANEWAY: Maybe, just a little. For two people who started off as enemies, it seems we get to know each other pretty well. So I've been wondering. Just how close do we get?
CHAKOTAY: Let's just say there are some barriers we never cross.

I guess my problems with this are that 1) it flattens Chakotay's character to be an uncomplicated cheerleader for Janeway, though maybe after about Equinox that's really all that could be done with him to give him an important role in the show and 2) Janeway is convinced a little too easily within this episode, which leaves the rest of it dramatically inert. However, these elements maybe do actually make sense coming up to Endgame, and so the episode's purpose seems a little clearer -- even if there are contradictions. So, hold that thought.

A high 2 stars -- too thin, really, but probably worthwhile.
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William B
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Human Error

Props to the Doctor/Seven scenes also -- Picardo nails the "trying to cover own feelings with professionalism, and then shows real empathy" thing without overplaying it, and most of it's in the performance rather than on the page.
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William B
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Human Error

Having rewatched Endgame, this episode's purpose is clear-ish. Chakotay as some sort of symbol for Seven of feelings, spirituality and patience (humanity as opposed to Borg perfection) does mesh with his role for her in Scorpion and One Small Step, even though there's very little set-up for the pairing otherwise and I'm skeptical of the chemistry -- and, indeed, of any real set-up for Seven choosing him as fantasy man. In this episode though we don't have to justify Chakotay's feelings at all, because he's fantasy-Chakotay anyway -- and nor do we have to wonder about fantasy-Chakotay's pushy, almost aggressive behaviour in insisting Seven stop the metronome, when we could reasonably ask whether real-Chakotay doing the same thing should mind his own damn business; presumably Seven has programmed him this way (or at least, has the option of un-programming him at any time), so that she can outsource her humanity signal. The idea that she becomes obsessed with the simulation more or less makes sense, and while it's somewhat well-trod ground (Barclay episodes, mostly), there is a fresh spin on it because we know Seven so well and we recognize how much her image of perfection means to her and how difficult it would be for her to actually break with it publicly. The ambivalence about her relationship with holo-Chakotay and the addictive emotional rushes she gets and can't cope with further makes sense. The episode's pacing is a little slow, but it works with Seven's control issues. I honestly don't find Beltran convincing enough in the scenes to evoke real passion which is supposed to counterbalance Seven's control, but then he is a computer program here so it's not *exactly* a fundamental problem, though it maybe means the episode doesn't quite rise to the level of fully selling what this experience means for her.

I guess where I'm going to break with the episode -- besides its subplot, the details of which I've already forgotten like a week and a half later -- is in the ending: the cortical node malfunction that shuts her down if she feels a lot of feelings? is too heavy-handed a device, and one that doesn't really square with the various emotional scenes we have already had of Seven (The Gift, The Raven, One, Drone, Dark Frontier, Child's Play, Unimatrix Zero, Imperfection, the Doctor in Seven's body in Body and Soul) though admittedly few of those times involved happy experiences. Dramatically it's important that Seven *is* given an out -- surgery, from the Doctor -- and refuses it, so that the cortical node thing is an excuse, but it's still not convincing, and mostly serves to obscure Seven's actual choice. More to the point (SPOILERS), it's still not clear what the point is in having Seven shut things down so dramatically when she's about to start exploring again soon with the Real Deal. I guess here if I felt I had a better understanding of what Natural Law was doing I might see how that episode functions as some sort of turning point, but I mostly just feel like this episode's going for the tragic ending just throws a needless wrench into what is already a huge buy of Seven's emotional/romantic attraction to Chakotay in the first place.

All that said, it's not an irrelevant show and has several decent scenes, and Ryan milks the sadness and loneliness and tragedy and also hits some of the right notes of restrained passion. I'm not really convinced that Chakotay as representation of Seven's emotional growth was ever going to make complete sense, but this episode does do something with it and it's something of a bridge of the closing out of her character arc. So, 2.5 stars.
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William H
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I was enjoying the first half on the understanding that Geordi was obviously acting very inappropriately, even if somewhat excused by a weird situation, and would get his due comedic comeuppance, and then hopefully a bit of a redemption thing. But then they turn around and give him this self righteous speech and have Leah apologise and that ruins things a bit.
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William B
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Seventh Season Recap

You know what, I'm going to do the season-end thing EXCEPT FOR ENDGAME now. Endgame is its own kettle o' fish.

Ratings, with difference from Jammer's rating in parentheses:

Unimatrix Zero Part 2: 1.5 (-1)
Imperfection: 3 (=)
Drive: 2.5 (=)
Repression: 1 (-0.5)
Critical Care: 2.5 (-0.5)
Inside Man: 1.5 (-0.5)
Body and Soul: 2.5 (-0.5)
Nightingale: 1.5 (-0.5)
Flesh and Blood: 3.5 (=)
Shattered: 2 (=)
Lineage: 4 (+0.5) (yes really -- it resonates with me in a personal way)
Prophesy: 1.5 (-0.5)
The Void: 3 (=)
Workforce Part 1: 3.5 (=)
Workforce Part 2: 3 (=)
Human Error: 2.5 (+0.5)
Q2: 1 (-0.5)
Author, Author: 4 (=)
Friendship One: 1.5 (-1)
Natural Law: 1 (-1)
Homestead: 2.5 (-0.5)
Renaissance Man: 2.5 (=)

So this averages to 2.4 or so, which isn't terrible, and there are a number of very good shows. The season also has something like arcs in the Holographic Rights material, the Paris/Torres story and in the crew's increasing connection to home, and both the midseason two-parters are good. Neelix gets a mostly good send-off, as well. On the minus side: Tuvok is pretty badly neglected and his one show, Repression, is particularly bad; the Seven material seems to mostly dry up after Imperfection, with Human Error not quite working and Natural Law being a near-total waste, losing out on one of the usually strong links; and some of the characters have either no final statements or a limp, almost pointless one (Nightingale for Kim, Shattered for Chakotay). The movement toward slightly greater serialization happens a bit too late to have a lot of impact except in terms of the Doctor and Paris/Torres (especially Torres) and there is an awful lot of chaff or sleepwalking shows. I'd say that overall, I'd recommend Imperfection, Flesh and Blood, Lineage, The Void, Workforce, and Author, Author, and that's only 7 stories, though admittedly it amounts to 9 when we count two of them as two-parters; there are, however, a lot of semi-successful eps in the 2.5-star range, including eps like Homestead, which is basically successful in its primary goal and it's just the material around it that brings it down. It's Voyager, I guess, which means it's consistently inconsistent and disappointing, with glimmers of the better show it could have been -- but enough to keep me interested, despite the negative tone I get when talking about it. We'll see how Endgame plays for me this time around.
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