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Malia
Sat, Jul 13, 2019, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

Dumbest aspect of this episode — aside from its gender politics:

These women, without the pills, were just... regular looking. Maybe a bit tired. Any 13 year old YouTube beauty vlogger today could have Kardashian-ified them with the "right" makeup to achieve virtually THE SAME results as they got with those "magic crystals." And if that weren't enough, a visit to a good dermatologist for the equivalent of a few dermal filler or botox injections later... done.

Besides, much of what made those women so "beautiful" then was that they wore sexy, form-fitting dresses, has their hair expertly styled and flattering makeup. If they missed a few nights sleep, didn't wear make-up or brush their hair, and wore messy old clothes, they wouldn't look that fancy-hot.

Plastic surgery already existed in the 1960s. Surely, by the timeframe TOS is set in, any woman in the Federation probably only has to wave a wand over her face, drink some kind of rejuva-juice, or apply a cream from a jar no more special in their time than Ponds or Nivea were in the 1960s. Thus, those crystals of Harry Mudd's would have attracted little to no value or interest in that era—no more than any other average beauty treatment of the day.

Meanwhile... if these rich miners on their remote planet really just wanted "trophy" wives to stand around, look hot, and have sex with them—not also true and loving companions—surely the techno-aesthetic advancements in sex-bots by that time would have offered sufficient and indestructible models for that purpose.

Harry Mudd has always been, to me, among the more irritating of Trek guest-star characters. That he should be given TWO episodes in the original series... lord. At least on the android planet he had that wacky interplay with the Enterprise crew that offered some amusement.

And speaking of the androids... it would have worked better if those 2 Mudd episodes were combined—with Mudd instead pimping out the "Alice" series beauties to lonely men throughout the galaxy!
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Malia
Sat, Jul 13, 2019, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Man Trap

It wasn't until a commenter above suggested that this monster-being (and let's call it a "being" and not a "creature"; it was sentient life) behaved like an obsessed psychopath that I ever had a truly unsympathetic thought about it. Although it's possible that its mental state was far from "normal", but had actually been warped by living in a near-starving state and having seen everyone they ever knew die from lack of salt-food.

I didn't see why, in the end, they'd need to kill it. Phasers can be set to stun, they could do an intra-ship beam to a cell with a forcefield, or give it a shot of something to knock it out for a bit. They could have ambushed it and while 2 guard held it down, then Spock do the mind-meld to communicate with it (let is know they have limitless salt out in the galaxy and it doesn't need to kill for it—if it's really not killing out of bloodlust but, rather, the need for salt as sustenance.
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Malia
Sat, Jul 13, 2019, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

My biggest issue with this episode is what STEVERAGE noted above:

"Bele has been chasing Lokai for 50,000 years?!?!?!? Right...... yet they were close enough to reach Cheron in a few hours...... and in all that time neither had noticed the Cheroni had annihilated each other...... I'm all for a bit of socio-political commentary, but does it have to be this stupid?"

It made me think that, if the Federation had known about all this sooner (um, if they were already so close to reach Cheron, why didn't they??) this might have actually been a place where [re: TOS "A Taste Of Armageddon" episode] Eminiar VII's plan of "civilized" war-by-computer would have actually been a plausible solution—disintegration chambers and all! In fact, Anan 7 (leader of Eminiar) would have been an excellent diplomat to lead a mission to Cheron about this.

Hear me out, please:

The Eminians encountered by the Enterprise were (after 500 yrs) a super orderly society, seemingly non-violent and peaceful in their inter-personal interactions. They found all that so distasteful—in contrast to the banal destructiveness of their computer war. Whereas the Cherons were so outwardly and inwardly filled with rage and violence. Perhaps the Eminians once were, too, and only "civilized" themselves through the course of the 500 yr war, such that by the time the Enterprise visited Eminianr VII the people had long been "Ready" for this next step: to think and act with diplomacy and end their war for good.

Self-segregation onto different planets or regions, then an "orderly war" over a few hundred years (or whatever, given their long lifespans) might have just been enough for the profound rage in each "Race" to calm itself. YES, as with Eminiar, millions would die over the time, BUT... instead of ending with a burning planet where everyone's dead, the Cherons (like the Eminians) could have survived as peoples and cultures, with the planet in tact, until some future time where they would be read for a Kirk-style intervention and finally end it all.
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Tomalak
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Adversary

"I think what annoyed me most is that this is, to my memory at least, the third outing where the Defiant gets sabotaged mid voyage. It's become quite a tedious trope"

I'm pretty sure it's only the second time, and the other was Eddington doing it in very different circumstances to obey orders. What was the third?
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Malia
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 2:44am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Way to Eden

This was my favorite episode as a gradeschool kid—because of the music and the costumes. Adam was my favorite character, for reasons others have noted above.

My issues with it (because "favorite" doesn't mean "best"—by a longshot!) include:

For a crew on a ship traveling the galaxy, seeking out new civilizations and encountering a multitude of ways, mores, and cultures, it makes no sense for them to find this group so strange—certainly no stranger than most other groups. And with humans from earth already living on maybe tens or even hundreds of planets by then, certainly the already widely-varied cultural expressions found on earth over the millenia would have further splintered into more and more variation.

I agree with comments above about Tong (or is it Tongo?) Rad's darkness. He's just a spoiled privileged a$$.

Re: Irina and Chekhov, I found it kind of a chilling commentary on Federation society for him to express such horror at her ostensibly throwing her life away, just because she decided not to use her education/talents as part of the Federation's military industrial complex. Surely in their century, there are myriad streams of professional and personal opportunities. If only a military one is really respected as a "success"... ugh.

Dr. Sevrin is of course not the only time in TOS we see a well-respected genius type figure losing his or her mind. In his story, it's especially sad as he acts like a selfish and greedy colonizer.

As far as looking for the planet Eden...

I think the perfect planet for this group would have been Omicron Ceti III (from "This Side Of Paradise.) No Indigenous animal life forms to be hurt by synthecoccus novae disease. The plant sports would protect the hippies from any harm from the Berthold rays. And, the laid back vibe created by the spores' influence on human behavior is, frankly, no different from how Sevrin and his gang were already striving to live as, as a value system. In fact, they wouldn't even need the spores (though they'd probably find a way to smoke them, lol.) That planet truly was a paradise for anyone who desired that lifestyle.

Then, for the Romulan element... I did find the hippies dismissing of that threat highly... illogical. Even by their hippie logic. They were all citizens of the Federation (even if they reject its norms.) Surely all know that crossing the Neutral Zone is a BIG F*ing DEAL. Surely they would know, with 100% certainty, that the minunte Romulans discover Federation citizens colonizing one of their planets would bring swift attack and they'd all be killed. At most—even if the plants weren't filled with acid poison!—they'd get a few weeks or months, then they'd be killed. None of them seemed to understand their journey to Eden as comprising a suicide trip. Therefore, why do what they did? Kirk wasn't trying to keep them from that "Eden" to be a d*ck. He forbid them from going because (a) The Romulans would come and kill them all, and (b) it could spark a war with the Federation. There was no possibly scenario in which they would get to go to this Eden to actually make and live a life.

Despite all that, despite it being silly often enough, it's still an episode I always enjoy watching. For the singing (yes, the sining!), for Adam, and for Chekhov finally getting some action! Yay, yayeeee.... brother :)
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Malia
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 12:43am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

Ricardo Montalban was the perfect casting choice for this character—if they'd have made this character... hm, Mexican? They made him a Sikh; I guess there may be some Latino converts somewhere (I've seen a few blonde/white Sikhs.) Then say all this stuff about them being warriors, like their religious faith is genetic? I guess they meant to say PUNJABI (the cultural group in India most Sikhs come from) but in that case, shouldn't he sound Anglo/Indian—presuming he'd have been send to English language schools as an elite being?

That point is what irritated me so much with the ST reboot and Cumberbatch. This would have been a perfect opportunity to cast some macho, charismatic Bollywood action hero (my vote: Akshay Kumar - Google his name + the film "Singh Is Kingh" to see him in a Turban - very much like the handsome turban painted of Khan that McGivers had made.

Other than that, Montalban was absolutely on fire in this episode. He's the kind of compelling, handsome, powerful figure that makes everyone enthralled in some way or other. When pondering how McGivers could just throw away her whole career and life after "90 seconds" with him... who's to say that "animal magnetism" (or some eugenics-friendly ultra-pheramones) wasn't part of his "superior man" character?

A final Khan note: how interesting of an alternative could it have been if the Botany Bay would have been discovered by the Klingons, not the Federation? Hot-blooded, physically powerful, warrior Klingons!! Would he have killed them or joined them! Hmm...
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Tomalak
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Facets

I found the scenes where you actually see the memories of past lives transferred to the senior staff absurdly hokey. The man says a few words in Trill like he's reading a spell, while standing around an apparently superfluous fire pit. Then we see a big blue soul just move physically from Jadzia to the trill guy to envelop the head of Kira or Odo or whoever. Isn't this meant to be sci fi not Harry Potter?
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Malia
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Miri

As a child in the '80s, this was always a favorite episode - so rewatching it with a critical grown-up eye does disappoint a bit for the reasons noted here, to which I'd like to add the following:

They assume, without investigating further (as far as we're shown) any further than what would have been a few miles from that crumbling town. How do they know that, elsewhere—Fiji? the Himalayas? the Amazon? the Sahara? (whatever corresponds to comparable earth geography on this planet)—hundreds, heck thousands or even millions of kids, aren't alive and doing just fine? Why would the go-to presumption be that these 20 kids or so are the ONLY onlies? And that in every other geographic region of the world, 300-year old "child" survivors are all nothing more than a bunch of do-nothing brats?

[I know that sometimes, the Enterprise has some kind of power to "detect human life" in places, but in just as many other cases, it seems they cannot.]

Meanwhile...

If (perhaps taking place only "off screen") the Enterprise actual was able to and did do a thorough scan of the entire planet, and did confirm 100% that there were no other surviving children or adults except for these 20 or so 300-yr-olds...

Why on earth—or rather, why on double-earth—would the Enterprise leave these 20 "children" (dysfunctional people with no education, skills, training, medical care, etc., ALL ALONE on that planet (save for the "teachers" or whomever they left to help; can't be more than 4-5 of them) ? It's one thing for a group of adult space colonists to set up camp on a planet—by choice. But these elderly children surely deserved the opportunity to leave and experience actual functioning communities comparable to their own culture. Or any culture really, so long as it's not a planet where just about entire population was wiped out centuries ago?

Such a small group, there'd surely have been plenty of room on the Enterprise to transport them somewhere. And rightfully, they would have some advocate appointed to them to secure and protect their rights to a stake in their own planet, once outsiders learn of its existence and resources. (Seriously, what a prize for the Klingons to claim!)

One can only imagine the psychological warping of these "children" in all that time. Seeing all that violence of the gr'ups, the horrific extinction of all (at least sentient) life except for themselves. 300 years of festering emotional wounds. Teaching them to read, write, and farm aren't going to fix all that. They need role models and examples of possible ways to live and learn and thrive.
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Tomalak
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Facets

"When Quark refuses to take part she gives him the Ferengi equivalent of a hand-job and plays on her knowledge of his romantic feelings toward her in order to get something she wants out of him. If that isn't manipulative and highly egotistical I don't know what is."

I think we're supposed to be relaxed because it's Quark. It's arguably a weakness of DS9 generally that its senior staff treat Quark the way they do - most often it's just unprovoked rudeness. The idea of professionalism being not necessarily liking everyone you work with but at least being reasonably pleasant is a lesson Sisko's team (usually highly professional people) have yet to learn.
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Tomalak
Thu, May 2, 2019, 6:46am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

No, it's not trolling - I stand by my summary. It was actually you who was unwilling to engage. People made reasonable points in response to your accusations, and rather than respond you simply defined every single counter-argument they made as some kind of bad faith manoeuvre that further implicated them in their guilt. There is all the difference in the world between asking you to substantiate strong claims rather than just take them on faith on the one hand, and saying "If I don’t see the problem, it must not exist."

After reading the above, I don't understand how anyone could even disagree with your view that critics of Burnham are motivated by racism, misogyny and so on without you taking it as further proof that critics of Burnham are motivated by racism and misogyny.
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Tomalak
Wed, May 1, 2019, 2:41am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

If anyone doesn't have time to read all 200 comments, here's a short version.

Axiom: I can't believe all the reactionary misogyny around here - no one would criticise a white male character the way they attack Burnham.
Kinematic: Well, these critics tend to love DS9 with its black captain, but I'll bite... Wesley Crusher?
Axiom: OMG! What a bad faith gaslighting intellectual sin! Deeply problematic. I can't continue this discussion unless you are willing to respond in good faith.
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Tomalak
Fri, Apr 26, 2019, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: The Road Not Taken

I found this one really boring. Just a long wait for the ending we all knew was coming as soon as Kelly appeared at the beginning. I'm glad others got something out of it as I didn't.
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Mal
Wed, Apr 24, 2019, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Like Season 2 of TNG, DISC also wraps up its second year with a clip show. We see Michael blast by the greatest hits of S2 one by one. Who knew Shades of Gray could ever serve as inspiration? I kid, but only slightly.

In Shades of Gray, Riker was infected by a virus and his life could only be saved by triggering past memories. In “Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2”, it is Star Trek that has been infected by the virus known as Discovery, and the franchise can only be saved by blasting that blasted ship far, far in the future and ordering everyone to never (ever, ever) speak of this drek ever again lest it drudge up painful memories of show with an insane budget for CGI, and zero budget for writers.

On the plus side, we have no SMG for the last 8 minutes of the season. Thank god for small graces.

@Trent - you’re killing it. Keep up the good work.

The comments cover a lot of ground already, but I’ll just add (since no one else has) the huge difference in the torpedo scene when Quark and James Cromwell were trying to diffuse a torpedo in DS9 (“Starship Down”) and when Number One and Admiral Cornwell try to diffuse it this week. The scene with Quark and Cromwell is grounded in their characters. Their solution (pick at random with a 50/50 chance of success) is true to Quark’s character. And the gallows humor is phenomenal: these two veteran actors really sell it.

Then take the scene with Admiral Cornwell and Number One. Do we learn anything about either woman? About who they are? Nope. Instead the writers pull Number One out, which breaks the entire flow of the scene. And then they throw Pike in (yeah, that’s the ticket, take your two senior most officers off the bridge in a time of crises, to diffuse a bomb. WTF!?!). But there is no point of Pike being there, because we learn nothing new, but just get one more iteration that Pike's timeline doesn’t end here, because Star Trek still needs a pilot Cage episode, or Discovery will never have existed. Or something.

I liked Kat. She was trained as a shrink, and her talents really were valuable. When she slept with Lorca, she quickly figured out he was a completely different man. She counselled Dr. Colbert on his impossible situation - dealing with his own death and rebirth, and with Stamets. She brokered a lasting truce between Leyland and Pike, at least until Leyland was assimilated. All great ways to demonstrate her skill and training as a shrink. You would think she and Number One would have had some interesting things to talk about before her end. Turns out the writers just don’t have any clue what the fuck they are doing.

Dr. Pelosi, could you expunge the memory of Discovery from our collective conscious? Please.
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Tomalak
Tue, Apr 23, 2019, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

@SlackerInc, given it already happened thousands of years before you were born why would it change anything? As I say, you seem to imagine there is some kind of conscious time line who reacts angrily to interfering time travellers by splitting in two. I'm fact, the timeline would be blissfully unaware and any time travel in the past would not change the time line because it already happened that way.
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Tomalak
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Gerontius, yes, I agree!

Perhaps I may regret this when my younger self starts dating my (currently hypothetical) ex-wife, but I can't see why I have any ownership over my exes OR my time travelling younger selves if the two want to hook up. I can see how the power might be convenient for me, but I can't see why it would be ethical for me to have it in the first place.

Again, sorry if I just missed the class in school where we are all told why this is wrong, but I am still oblivious.
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Tomalak
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

By the way, there was a pretty good time travel detective drama, Crime Traveller, which explored time travel in a way that made logical sense. Each episode the main characters went back in time to solve a crime. But nothing they did changed the "present" as whatever they did had already happened previously in the present that they left.
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Tomalak
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 7:56am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

@Trashbarg, I must have missed the lesson in class/church where the code of ethics for dating a time travelling younger version of a past lover is laid out because I don't find your conclusions nearly as obvious as you do. In particular, I can't see why Kelly-1's views on who Kelly-2 dates should trump Kelly-2's views (either directly or indirectly through making Mercer feel guilty about it)?

@Slacker I agree with Boomer that the theory sounds like "absolute nonsense". I also don't think it does anything to make sense of time travel - unless by make sense you mean solve basic plot errors that the creators may or may not have made? Creators who we have no reason to think are writing the show with this near infinite alternative universes theory in mind.
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Tomalak
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 1:57am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

@Gerontius, yes, I totally agree. How many times did Star Trek rehash the same shuttle crash, trapped in a holding cell or holodeck gone wrong scenario, to name just three tropes off the top of my head? Anyone comparing the Orville to Star Trek on the basis that the latter only used original concepts and plots hasn't watched much Star Trek, and isn't being fair to the Orville.

"I thought Ed was going to ask Kelly her opinion of him dating her younger self, not give her a "if not you, then it'll be her" statement (paraphrase). That felt weird."

Yes, I think this was an attempt to be woke and feminist by McFarlane, but very unrealistic. I have yet to meet a man who would give first dibs to a 35 year old who cheated on him over a 28 year old who didn't, all other things being equal (which of course they are in this case!). Maybe the idea is he knew what the answer would be so could use her refusal to justify pursuing the better option.

"the first face-off of Kelly and Kelly and them circling around each other (with what is supposedly an eerie score) falls flat"

Yes, very badly done. I can get a sense of wariness, but I struggle to believe someone's response in that kind of scenario is to walk like a crab in a perfect enlarged semi-circle and then end up facing 180 degrees from where they started. The way the cameras showed their feet doing it made it much more noticeable.
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Tomalak
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 1:41am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

@SlackerInc "What a twist at the end. I guess she was wrong and she's actually creating divergent timelines (which is the only way time travel makes sense IMO)."

So there are now two parallel timelines? Triggered by what? Does 'the time line' somehow consciously knows it has been interfered with by time travellers and reacts by splitting in two?? Or are you saying every time alternative outcomes come into play there are new universes? In which case there was already a divergent time line in which Kelly and Ed only went on a single date, and time travel did not change this. Either way, I am not clear on how this makes sense of time travel.

I think the only way it can make sense is if any actions we see time travellers take in the past already happened, and therefore can change nothing in the present. Obvs that would make for boring Sci Fi though, so there are efforts to present a paradox that isn't really there. I am happy to suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoying fiction but I don't think there is a paradox in reality.
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SmallKiwi
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

At the risk of sounding like a teenage boy, did anyone else love Young Kelly's look? Adorable. Makes me hope for a hair style change for "Old Kelly" in season 3. Something a little more fun.
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Amala
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

@Lynos

Yeah, you cant tell people that this character who was created only 3 years ago, and was never part of the trek's lore, is the most important person in SPOCK's life and the reason why he is Spock and kirk&spock are friends, and then get surprised when fans find it way too forced, or even a little bit pathetic and trash from a writing standpoint. They really couldn't help themselves.

Michael is a mary sue and people who like Discovery and can't accept criticism need to get over that because it's delusional to deny the evidence she's a self insert fanfiction character created by a writing team who has no respect for 50 years of canon and characters that they don't own and have no credit for.
It's like Spock was so iconic and they selfishly wanted a piece of that, as if people need to thank them for the creation of this character who was unique but now is just used to make their own character important. How selfish is that? Their ego is huge!
If Nimoy were still alive, he'd be disappointed. Not only they diminished the character integrity, they created a backstory that doesn't even make sense with the Spock you see later.
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Amala
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

I agree with those here who felt Spock's monologue about how Michael made him balanced and how she saved him was way too over the top.

I suppose Kurtzman only wants you to acknowledge the latest story he is getting paid for, but I'm not going to pretend he didn't literally co-wrote a Spock in the movies who doesn't have a sister but not only still finds a balance, he does that before Nimoy's version did. He even has a girlfriend! It seems like his life was better without Michael's influence anyway or she isn't that relevant to his evolution and his ability to acknowledge his feelings. I always thought that it was his human mother who helped him understand some things, anyway. He's human too, he could never escape from who he is.
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Tomalak
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 6:05am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Sanctuary

I really liked how they tied this in to Mercer's prophetic comment about how Moclan society is so different that he wonders how much they can really get along. At the time I thought "Hmm well as long as they keep their strange laws to their own planet it shouldn't become a diplomatic issue". This episode answered that.

On Sirtis, she was heavily billed on social media - and then barely got a line this episode. Disappointing, really. Why bother promoting that? I hope she is back again.
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Mal
Sun, Apr 7, 2019, 1:50am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

"i could easily imagine a story constructed around efforts to cheat the fate shown that ultimately fall apart, slowly building to acceptance"

- Jeanne

Oh, I agree completely. Angel - the Joss Whedon show - was particularly good at these. In the Season 2 episode "The Trial", Angel jumps in a swimming pool with no water and undergoes a series of trials to save Darla from dying. And though he passes each test, in the end there is no cheating fate. Or take the great Season 5 episode "Destiny", where Spike beats Angel to the holy grail, only to find the goblet filled with Mountain Dew. Or one of my favorites, the Season 4 episode "Awakening", where Angel goes on a quest to find a sword to defeat the beast - which would have been a hell of a lot better alternative to taking out his soul - but alas it was all a delusion.

In the end these Big Damn Heroes choose not to run away from fate. They choose to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

"but I'll take what we get"

- Jeanne

Indeed. When I want introspection, I always have Babylon 5.

In the Babylon 5 season 3 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane", brother Edward tells Delenn and Lennier about the keystone to his faith:

"On the night before our Lord was crucified he spent the night alone in the garden at Gethsemane. And he knew they were gonna come for him, and in a moment of weakness he asked if this cup could pass from him. If he could be spared the pain and death that would come with the morning.

And of course, the cup would not pass, and the soldiers would come to Gethsemane. But he did not have to be there when they arrived.

He could have chosen to leave to postpone the inevitable for a few hours or even days. He knew what would happen, but he chose to stay. To sacrifice himself, and thus atone for the sins of others.

It's a very fragile, human moment.

And I've often thought about that night.
And I honestly don't know if I would have had the courage to have stayed."


Pike stayed. To save us all.
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Mal
Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

Through the Valley of Shadows
Season 2, Episode 12
Mal’s review before Jammer’s

3 Stars

“Incoming transmission from Amanda Greystone”

- Or was that Cylon-Zoe’s mom’s name?

A few weeks ago, Amanda Greyson, wife of Sarak of Vulcan, tells Captain Pike that her son did not kill those starfleet personnel. Her son is kind and gentle, she said. And indeed he is. This week’s enjoyable outing “Through the Valley of Shadows" starts with Amanda calling Michael to check up on her after her foster-daughter’s clearly traumatic experience of meeting the biological mother. The call happened because Spock thoughtfully remembered to contact his mother (hint, hint) and caught her up on the family gossip - specifically what his sister had just gone through. What are good sons and good brothers for? And Spock is the best brother. To Sybock. And to Kirk, his brother from another mother. And now to Michael. The simple vignette with Amanda ends on an equally simple yet powerful exhortation: “Take care of each other. I love you both.” Amanda may not be the best actor, but we scifi fans in general (and Trekkies in particular) are used to bad actors. It is the thought that counts.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and staff, they comfort me.

This enjoyable Chris Pike outing is enjoyable because Pike is enjoyable. It is shocking what good leadership can do, and what bad leadership has wrought. The poor crew of the Discovery, refugees many of them from the Shenzhou, were beaten and bruised at the hands of Lorca. But now, one man - and two of his Enterprise crew - have vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light of the Federation. On the Starship Discovery, hope lives again! (Am I the only one who misses Andromeda?).

We are treated this week to enjoyable mess-hall banter. I have four 20-something youngsters who work for me, and they like to play this game called “Cities", where you have to name a city that starts with the last letter of the city the previous person said. Watching the below-decks crew play their "opposite compound word" game seemed very familiar and was a pleasure.

And we get a little of Janet Reno (was the ex-AG also a lesbian? they do look similar), trying to play marriage counsellor. Not exactly riveting, but I appreciate the time this episode takes to stop and take stock of where things are in folks’ lives. Foster family - Michael/Spock/Amanda. Gay family - Stamets/Culber. Interracial family - L’Rell/Ash Tyler/and baby. IDIC. Family matters.

There is a lot to be said for comfort. And after decades and decades and decades of Trek, nothing feels quite so comfortable as a nice A/B set of stories. Plot A, Captain Pike and the Temple of Doom. Plot B, Spock and Michael’s crazy adventures.

When Pike beams down to the temple planet, this show felt to me for the very first time like TREK! When he looked up - way up - at L’Rell’s son, with those two bat’lets menacingly close at each side, my mind raced back to Chris Pine at the opening of Star Trek Beyond (my favorite of the nu-Trek films) staring way up at those tiny, tiny aliens; or further back to Archer (maybe because the uniforms are so similar); and further, much further back, to Kirk’s trial, where they too looked way, way up a Klingon judge - before he and McCoy were sent to Klingon Siberia.

Last week I re-watched The Cage, maybe after more than a decade. A few parts really stuck out (“I can't get used to having a woman on the bridge” - seems like he finally has!), but mostly it is interesting how little Pike is really in charge in the Pilot. Pike spent a good chunk of the episode in a, well, cage! It is an interesting command style, and the light touch is clearly very effective. Here on Discovery, Pike has singlehandedly turned around the fortunes for one of the most unfortunate crews of the Federation. Maybe only Captain Ransom’s crew on the Equinox (VOY) came remotely close to this level of breakdown. Pike, so ideal that the Federation sent him far away so he could repopulate civilization if the Klingon war went south (“Sir, I was wondering. Just curious. Who would have been Eve?”), has redeemed the ship, and thereby the show. It will be sad to see him go.

But go he must. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and staff, they comfort me.

I particularly loved Pike’s catechism when faced with the inevitable: “You are a starfleet Captain. *breathes* You believe in service. Sacrifice. Compassion. And love. *breathes*.

Service, sacrifice, compassion and love - let these be your rod and your staff. They will comfort you.

Anson Mount plays it perfectly. He has earned that chair. As L’Rell and Ash Tyler’s son (@Booming - LOL - Television - love it!) says, “I honor you, Captain.”

I will not waste time on the B story. Save to say that the more they keep SMG in the B or C plots instead of the A plot, the better things will go for this show. When a zombie Control freak acts better than your show lead… .

Nor will I go into the time crystals, though I find it fascinating to think this whole season arc - Control, Red Angel, etc. - is all the Federation’s fault (Leland, Michael’s mom, etc.), and Klingon time agents were just trying to contain the damage and get their crystal back! But there is no point speculating about a time travel plot where literally anything can happen.

I’ll end here, but with this friendly reminder from our own Mr. Spock: call your mother.

Love,
Mal
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