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Mon, May 8, 2017, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

There's way too much to like about this episode to get hung up on a few guest character performances. The production alone is a cut above just about anything in the show up to this point, from the sets to the costumes to the sound design. The colony is so well done.

And this is some quintessential Data. We're past the dead-end stuff like "Is Data sentient?", "Can Data learn to have emotions?" (Questions without answers insofar as TNG is willing to engage with the philosophy and hard science of them), and onto the real fun of Data's character which is watching a unique personality learn and adapt and use his strengths to overcome his limitations.

The ship stuff is great too, most of all in the way that it feels like everyone is being challenged. It gives the plot a real sense of urgency and stakes. And the Sheliak are wonderfully creepy in how alien and indifferent they are (it works to their creepiness that we never see them again). I can't believe this episode isn't more appreciated.
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Sat, May 6, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

My biggest issue with Dear, Doctor isn't its condoning of what I find to be a morally repugnant decision. Picard made a few of those and I never hated the episode. Admittedly, the result was never of the same magnitude as this, but that wasn't the important difference. It was that in those cases his justification made some level of moral and scientific sense. It wasn't based on a nonsense understanding of biology or an ethical calculation that doesn't even factor in individual suffering. Picard was deeply concerned with suffering, and the TNG-era Prime Directive always came back to a deep cynicism about power and cultural exchange whether it's benevolent or not, a big "slippery slope". I didn't find it convincing, but it wasn't insulting to me.

This isn't that. This is much, much stupider, and hinges on Trek's magical understanding of biology and evolution. There are a lot of comments here implying that Dear, Doctor put forward some big ethical paradox that's still being debated today, but the debate on websites like this one is only about Star Trek. It only makes sense in the context of this episode, this series, and it ultimately comes back to the question of whether this is a good or bad episode.

I haven't seen anyone suggest that if tomorrow we found a previously undiscovered island with neanderthals on it, and those sapient beings were on the verge of an extinction event that we could prevent, we should let all of those individuals suffer and die because they share their island with another less intelligent primate species that 'might' evolve to be more like us in the absence of the neanderthals. Because that would make no sense whatsoever. Dear, Doctor isn't bad because it makes us uncomfortable, it's bad because it's nonsense.
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Sat, May 6, 2017, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Dauphin

It's interesting watching this in HD since it's more clear that the actress playing Salia is quite a bit older than Wil Wheaton. (Apparently she's a decade older.) And goodness. this is a stunningly beautiful woman. She's also quite charismatic, with a genuine smile that keeps the episode from being as dire as it could've been had they cast someone not able to convince of the character's interest in Wesley.

You know what, I like this episode. It's nothing spectacular, but there are some good moments. I like visual of Worf being challenged and threatened by an old woman. I like the monsters, as cheesy as they are. The sudden appearance of the bug-eyed Ewok thing before we know that these are shapeshifters is pretty unsettling. I like Riker and Guinan's, and Worf's scenes as they give increasingly unhelpful advice.

I even like how Wesley is written. He's still a weird and sort of creepy kid, but not in the blandly agreeable, "aw shucks" way that makes the character such an empty vessel most of the time. When he's on the holodeck waxing romantic about exploring space you get a sense of the Wesley that the show usually only goes as far as suggesting. It's a little off-putting how it seems like he's already decided that Salia is going to be staying on the Enterprise, but of course he would.
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