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Unicornmayo
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Change of Heart

@RahulG

The Cardassian was killed trying to re-enter the base after Starfleet no showed and mosssed the extraction. If Worf had made the extraction point, he would have survived.
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Nic
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I am at least mildly intrigued at Stewart's return to the franchise. There are still interesting issues to explore with Picard's character (which doesn't necessarily mean that they'll do it right, but at least there's the potential).

I see no potential at all, however, in the casting of Ethan Peck as a younger version of Spock in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. Haven't we had enough Original Series homages/ripoffs (depending on how you feel about that sort of thing) already? We've already got Zachary Quinto playing Spock in the film series, and I wasn't thrilled with the endless aping of the classic films in "Into Darkness" and "Beyond". Enough already! If you can't write something original, find another job.
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Nic
Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Abigail Nussbaum brought up an interesting point on her blog Asking the Wrong Questions:

"What's even more problematic about the attempted genocide storyline is how it reveals the shallowness of Discovery's idea of Star Trek. Like the reboot movies before it, Discovery seems to think that the most--perhaps the only--interesting question to ask within the Star Trek universe is "should we have a Federation?" Does it, for example, make a civilization weak to live in peace and prosperity? And what happens when such a society meets an existential threat? Does it give up its values and civil liberties in order to survive? But the thing is, this is literally the most boring, basic question one can ask about Star Trek. The real challenges posed by a society like the Federation aren't questions of IF, but of HOW. How do you create a truly just, fair, equal society? How do you balance freedom of conscience and opinion with your core values of tolerance and peace? How do you prevent the exploitation of those who are weaker than you? How do you help people outside your society, and do you have the right to encourage them to be more like you?

It's been close to twenty years since any work with Star Trek in the title even tried to address these questions, and in some ways Discovery feels like it's going backwards. Even as it prides itself on honoring Federation values in its big moments, it misses their complete violation in its small ones. When Burnham arrives on Discovery in a group of other prisoners--who are apparently being press-ganged to work in dilithium mines--they're greeted by security chief Landry (Rekha Sharma), who remarks that "I see we're unloading all kinds of garbage today". When Lorca and Tyler are held prisoner by the Klingons and mount an escape, they leave behind a fellow Federation citizen who had been informing on them to their captors, even though he begs to be taken along. Worst of all, only two episodes before Discovery's crew refuses to blow up Qo'noS, they blow up the Imperial City-Ship in the mirror universe, with probably tens of thousands of people on board, without anyone even mentioning the subject of collateral damage. At best, this is sloppy writing. At worst, it's an indication that Discovery's writers have only the faintest, broadest understanding of what Federation values are. That whenever they're not writing a story that is explicitly about Federation values, they default to some kind of space opera standard where heroic characters shoot first, think only of themselves, and don't care what kind of society they live in."

That's a shame, and while Discovery may one day become a good show, I seriously doubt that it can one day be good Trek.
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Nic
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I read on the Internet that "Discovery is fun, as long as you don’t think too much about it afterwards". Well, that’s too bad for me, because I like stories that make me think. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show that is so all over the place (thematically, tonally, etc.) and yet doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere interesting.

This particular episode wasn’t the worst of the season, nor was it the best. It had its moments that worked and many more that didn’t, including, surprisingly, the totally unearned "We are Starfleet" moment where Burnham decides and easily convinces everyone that they shouldn’t commit genocide. You’d think that would be one of the first things you learn as a Starfleet cadet. And why does no one have a problem with L’Rell using the THREAT of genocide to force the Klingon houses to unite against their will? And what if they were to discover that the bomb was designed by Starfleet? Don’t you think they’d be a little bit angry? Burnham’s speech at the end was nicely performed, but it was filled with platitudes that had nothing to do with what has happened to these characters over the course of the season.

As Jammer rightfully said, what has this season been about?

The show definitely works better when you forget it’s Star Trek and just pretend it’s set in a completely new universe. Which is why, when they get the distress call from Pike’s Enterprise, I was disappointed. Not because the idea is bad per se, but because I know that the writers will somehow find a hundred ways to screw it up.

For the record, here’s my completely subjective ranking of each Trek series’ first season.

TOS 7.0/10
VOY 6.9/10
DS9 6.6/10
ENT 6.5/10
TNG 5.5/10
DIS 5.5/10

So, overall, I’ve found this season to be about equal in quality to TNG’s first season (which until now was the single worst season of Trek I'd seen). It’s interesting to compare the two, because they were both the first Trek series to air in over ten years, and they both had a revolving door of writers (I’m sure Bryan Fuller’s departure as creater/showrunner before the show even premiered didn’t help). TNG had lower lows and higher highs; Discovery hasn’t had episodes as bad as "Code of Honor" or "When the Bough Breaks" (though certain individual scenes have been that bad), but it also hasn’t done anything as good as "11001001" and, for some reason, I don't expect it ever will.
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Cynic
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Re: The phasered fortune cookies. The odd thing about them since their first appearance in Ep 3 is that we never saw a fortune paper come out of any of them. And now we never will.
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Nic
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 7:59am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

This episode had its moments, and its feel and pace was certainly close to what I would like to see on a regular basis. But it still hinges on us accepting all the craziness that came before at face value, which I can’t. In an episodic series, when you get a “turkey” episode, you can just pretend it never happened and move on. In a serialized show, if you have a bad storyline, you’re stuck with it.
And even with this episode,

- I haven’t counted, but I think there have been more mind melds in this season than in any other season of Trek.
- Some of you have complained about Sonequa Martin-Green’s acting. I agree that she’s no Patrick Stewart, but I say 90% of the blame goes to the writers for not sufficiently developing her character.
- I like Cornwell.
- Saru lets Tyler-who-may-still-be-Voq walk around freely, and later Emperor Georgiou is given command of the ship. I’m sure these are supposed to seem like demonstrations of Starfleet’s attitude of trust and forgiveness, but to me it just seems foolhardy. Given all the “twists” we’ve had on this series so far, I’m expecting a betrayal from both of them.
- Tyler blames Burnham for feeling guilty about falling in love with a Klingon. WHAT PLANET IS HE ON?
- And finally, we return to an oft-used Trek cliché: Fire Something at a Planet Which Will Take Effect Instantly ™.
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Nic
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

Wow, that was terrible. It was like a mash-up of DS9’s « The Emperor’s New Cloak », Voyager’s « Fury » and TOS’ « The Alternative Factor ».

I honestly can’t believe that Jason Isaacs (and to a lesser degree Michelle Yeoh) accepted this role. What a waste of acting talent. I’ve seen Saturday-Morning cartoons with smarter writing and more interesting characters.

I won’t go through each moment on the Charon where I was unable to suspend my disbelief (there were too many of them). The scenes on the Discovery fared slightly better, but I thought Saru’s speech was a pile of cliches.

And why is it that I can’t get into the tech dialogue on this show? TNG had a lot of technobabble, but for some reason I bought it then, and I don’t now. Have I changed, or is it the show that’s not selling it as well?

So, yes, overall I'm not enjoying this show. It's not entertainingly bad like "Sub Rosa" or The Room. It's frustratingly bad, because I keep seeing all this dramatic potential be squandered week after week. But I haven't stopped watching (yet), perhaps because of some faint hope that it will get better like TNG did. Who knows?
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Cynic
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

It occurs to me that the setup for the next installment in some ways mirrors (no pun intended), Star Trek Into Darkness. Starfleet is too goody-goody to fight the ruthless Klingons effectively, so they must rely on someone from outside their timeline to show them the way. In STID, that's time-crossing (and timeline-branched) KHAAAAN!, inexplicably repurposed (and resurfaced) as a weapons contractor by the morally bankrupt admiral. In DSC that's dimension-crossing Georgiou, who apparently will offer her mad tactics (and recipes?) for dealing with Klingons to a potentially corruptible Admiral Cornwell. It could be that Cornwell, who undoubtedly has an axe to grind with the Klingons and brought Sarek with her so he can use logic to justify almost anything, will go along with one of Georgiou's ideas, and it will turn into a major fiasco and war crime, cueing the sort of "This isn't who we are" bromide that ended STID.

As to the Green Spore, there are a lot of possibilities (most mentioned above) that seem very human-centric (Lorca, MU Lorca, MU Stamets, Culber, or the "life essence" of any of these). But it appears to me that the "network" is at least a semi-sentient organism that likely has had enough of humanoid interference. So how about this: Green Spore as its representative eventually takes over Tilly to communicate that sentiment to the DSC crew (Locutus of Spore?). Failing that, Green Spore Tilly sabotages Discovery's drive in such a way that PU's connection to the network is severed forever, resolving (more or less) the apparent continuity glitch with future/past series that the "spore drive" has always represented.
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Nic
Mon, Jan 29, 2018, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

The Lorca reveal may be the best-executed “twist” the series has pulled so far (but still nowhere near Dukat’s betrayal in “By Inferno’s Light”). It’s been obvious from the beginning that he was up to something, but until now I had no idea what it could be. Using light sensitivity as a “clue” is kind of a cheat, because it’s never been mentioned in any previous MU episode.

As others have mentioned, this will probably make him a less interesting character. What I objected to earlier in the season wasn't Lorca's actions, but the way Starfleet constantly let him off the hook.

The actors have certainly risen above the material. Georgiou is written as a cartoonish villain, but Yeoh's performance gives her a little more depth. Imagine what these actors could do with good material!


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Nic
Thu, Jan 25, 2018, 7:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

Not much to say about this one. No major missteps, but no truly riveting scenes either. If the characters had been sufficiently developed beforehand, this one would be a winner.

Of course Voq is the leader of the rebels and Sarek is his psychic and Georgiou is the Emperor. Who else could it be in a Universe populated by about 30 characters?

Although I like Tilly, I agree that having her be the one treat Stamets is, well, just as silly as pretty much everything else on this show. Can we get some recurring characters please? It’s telling that the MU Keyla Detmer (I had to look up the name) had more lines in this episode than the “prime” one did in all previous episodes combined.
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Nic
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

The two funniest and truest lines of your review:
'"Despite Yourself," on the other hand, shows signs of this series becoming a series of prologues followed (or interrupted) by more prologues.'
and
'Is this a Federation starship or a secluded murder-mystery mansion on the upstate coast?'

This one slightly exceeded my expectations. But since I knew in advance the Discovery would end up in the MU, my expectations were very low. I've always felt that the MU was a gimmick that worked for its first episode (or two), but as a sci-fi concept falls apart when you think about it too much. Starting with "Through the Looking-Glass" it has been used mainly for good vs. evil caroonish mayhem, which I've never cared for, and "Despite Yourself" was no exception.

Still, there were some surprisingly good character moments here (humorous and otherwise), and some of the best scenes of the episode involve the crew preparing to act like their counterparts (especially Tilly).

Although I am in favour of killing regular characters once in a while (Anyone Can Die and all that), I am sad that Culber is dead, because after all the hype we got about finally showing a long-term homosexual relationship on Star Trek, we've only gotten 2 or 3 scenes of them actually together, and he could have been an interesting character in his own right.

The Tyler/Voq/L'Rell stuff isn't working for me at all. I see that they're trying to create a realistic portrayal of the psychological effects of what he's been through, but something about it feels... off.
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Nick
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Parallels

@Vii
In regards to him not having a birthday party at the end I would guess that it is suppose to imply that his first shift actually took place when he first encountered the rift. Geordie just triggered subsequent shifts.
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Nick
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 4:31am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

" Preventing oneself from being in the position of having conflicts of interest and abuse of power is the most important part of ethics. "

Well, no. The most important parts of ethics are 1) axiology - the study of values which ought to be the ultimate reason for all our actions and 2) normative ethics, which develop specific principles according to which we can evaluate our actions, that is, to determine if an action contributes to the maximization of intrinsic value or is detrimental to it. Only from here we can proceed to applied ethics, that is, the application of normative ethics to specific cases like abortion, gun rights, or interference with pre-Warp cultures. The Prime Directive belongs to the realm of applied ethics, but I struggle to see what kind of normative ethical theory is supposed to be behind it, and what value it is supposed to maximize.

In this discussion there does seem to be a weird Kantian implication involved from time to time. Kant's Categorical Imperative is "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Kant then famously proceeded to argue that if an axe-wielding murderer asks you if you have seen his fleeing victim, you are not allowed to lie, because lying as a universal principle would be bad. Seems like the Federation has adopted a similar approach.

I, on the contrary, think that such a situation requires one to use one's intelligence, attempt to predict the possible outcome to the best extent of one's abilities, and then act in one way or another. A general PD-like rule is useful to fall back on in unclear situations, but making exceptions where a situation clearly calls for it is also a moral responsibility.

Also, if Humanity in Star Trek are so afraid of unintended consequences of their actions, of being morally compromised by making a wrong decision, and or taking risks and taking responsibility in general, then maybe instead of interstellar exploration they should take up gardening.
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Nick
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

This is an irrelevant technicality. If they are physically unable to help someone for one reason or another, then it's not a question of ethics at all. We are talking about the situations where they are fully capable of helping, but don't. There are episodes dealing with such a situation. "Dear Doctor (Mengele)" immediately comes to mind, even though it's pre-PD, but the principle is the same.
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Nick
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

Even if they form a literal Starfleet-worshipping cult, how does it matter? Saving them from certain death still take precedence by far.

If they save this planet thay are obligated to save every planet in peril. If they don't save this planet if possible, they are still obligated to save every planet in peril if possible, they are simply failing to live up to that obligation to a greater degree than if they saved it.

And yes, everyone understands that they do not have the capability to save them all, just like you or me do not have the capability to save every suffering person on Earth. Being unable to do something is not an ethical failure. However when you or me or Starfleet have an opportunity to save someone at little or no cost to ourselves, it is our obligation to do so. Just like you are not morally required to travel to Africa and work to save Ebola victims (failing to do your best to maximize the total well-being is, strictly speaking, a moral failure, but since it's clearly beyond what most people are capable of, we accept that only exceptional people can fully live up to that standard), but you are morally required to help a person you happen to find having a heart attack on the street.
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Nick
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 8:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

You cannot predict the consequences of your actions with absolute certainty in any situation. Equally, you cannot predict the consequences of your inaction. The difference between these two, and your bias towards inaction, is purely psychological, if we are talking about an abstract case without any specifics.

However in these particular examples (both the drowning child one and the dying planet one) we can actually use our intelligence to predict the outcome with some degree of certainty. There is pretty much nothing vague about them. If we refuse to act in such circumstances, then logically we should refuse to act at all, opting for a life of total inaction.

Nobody is disputing the value of having certain protocols for the first contact situations to prevent things like cultural contamination where it can reasonably be avoided. However, the application of Prime Directive as shown in the series makes me actually think that it was Humanity who were the most prominent victims of cultural contamination in Star Trek universe: their culture was contaminated with clearly inhuman (Vulkan) ideas, and now they are struggling to reconcile their natural Human drive to explore and to change the world for the better with alien Vulkan ideals of detachment and inaction/observation.
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Nick
Fri, Dec 22, 2017, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

"Vile nonsense" is far too gently a term for this episode. It made me give up on Enterprise altogether, simply because of sheer moral disgust it made me feel towards the characters.

In fact, I think I'm done with Star Trek, at least for some considerable time. I like shows about aliens, but not shows seemingly written by aliens whose normative ethics are completely abhorrent by human standards.
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Nick
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

This is a nice, touching episode, which also handily shows Prime Directive as the complete nonsense it is. The "playing God" argument is absurd. You would be equally "playing God" if you were passing by a lake and had to rescue a drowning child. But you don't know the consequences! What if the child grown up to become a mass murderer or a genocidal dictator? What if he grows up and takes a place at the university that would otherwise go to the poor talented kid, depriving him of the chance to become the greatest genius in the history of Mankind? Anyone who would seriously consider such arguments before jumping in to save the child is a psychopath, and so is anyone who would hesitate before saving a whole sentient species because of some "Prime Directive".
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Nicholas A Sergi
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: New Dimensions

Yeah, as a fan of Trek, especially 90's Trek, I like the fact that old stories can be re-purposed for this show, and that the episodes can be both familiar AND new. It's comforting.. that's why I watch. The newest episode (no spoilers) is taking the idea that it's the CHARACTERS who solve problems to get out of anomalies (The Immunity Syndrome) with the two dimensional thing (The Loss) with the responsibilities of being put into command (Parallax) and by combining those three episodes, it feels fresh yet comfortingly familiar. I don't want it to not be what it is now.
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Nic
Fri, Nov 24, 2017, 7:38am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

A good, not great, episode. I agree that it had a sense of conviction and cohesiveness that previous episodes lacked. But it doesn't make up for all the shoddy storytelling that came before. And it has its own share of problems.

- I think the advantage of the cloaking device is overstated. They can't fire weapons or raise shields while cloaked, so even if Starfleet finds a way to get through the cloak, the Klingons can just de-cloak and raise shields. Which is what Kol should have done the moment Discovery started firing its weapons. Idiot.

- The sensors they place on the Sarcophagus ship are ridiculously loud, clunky and bright. How is it that no one found one and destroyed it before they finished relaying their data?

- I'm no expert, but I don't think that's how PTSD usually works.

- There should be a drinking game where you take a drink every time Lorca disobeys orders and then receives praise from the Admirals. Granted, this happened on DS9 (most notably in "The Die is Cast" and "For the Uniform"), but it bothered me then and it is much more pervasive here. I have no problem with characters doing illegal or immoral things, but there has to be CONSEQUENCES.

Still, still... This was the first time I actually cared about these characters, and the ending was the first time I felt genuiune interest in what would happen next.
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Nic
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

No, this was not the worst episode yet (that was “The Butcher’s Knife”), but it was definitely the most schizophrenic.

The scene between Tilly and Stamets is exactly the kind of scene we need to see to stay invested in his story and character, but I find it sad that after all the pre-release hype regarding the first long-term homosexual relationship depicted in Star Trek, Stamets and Culber have only gotten one scene together.

The planet-mission story was something we've seen countless times before, but the execution was fine. Strangely, the weakest aspects of the series are the ones that directly relate to the war.
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Random Communications Officer Guy
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

I'm very late to the party, but I recently discovered this website after enduring "Magic" and wondering what other people thought of it. I didn't like it for the reasons stated above, first by Skeech and then others. I wasn't sure if I was alone. While I usually avoid online discussion boards because they lower an already abysmal view of online-humanity, these were very thoughtful critiques and very insightful adulation as well. For the most part I applaud how well people treat each other (at least relative to most other sites). You should all be commended--except potty-mouth ManManMUC. Just kidding. And the original review is very thoughtful too. Well done.
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Nic
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 8:29am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

By the way, I have no objection to bringing Star Trek into the 21st century. I'm not looking for a nostalgic throwback, and I am strongly in favour of serialization if done right. I think the main reason why Discovery is failing (so far) is that it's trying to have the best of both worlds. It's trying to get Trekkies' attention by name-dropping Mudd and Sarek, but it's completely changing established canon in the process; at the same time, it's trying to please today's Game of Thrones/Breaking Bad audience, and I don't think it's succeeding on that plane either (though I couldn't say for sure; I didn't like either of those shows). Honestly, all I'm looking for is good writing. Is that too much to ask?

Non-sequitur: if anyone here hasn't seen Rectify yet, I highly recommend it. It's a well-written, slow-paced character study with surprising moments of homor despite its fairly dark subject matter. It's probably my favourite TV series of the 2010s (so far).
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Nic
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Okay, so this one wasn't bad, certainly better than the last three. But it has its share of problems.

Aping TNG's "Cause and Effect" turns out to be an asset and a liability. It's nice that they try to squeeze in a few character bits in the midst of all the time/mind-games, but they feel shoehorned in and irrelevant in the context of the crisis. Burnham and Tyler's "romance" (if we can call it that) is too rushed to make any kind of emotional impact.

What hurts the story the most is the ending. The Mudd we see in "Choose Your Pain" and this episode is a sadistic bastard who enjoys killing people and cares only about making money. But at the end it seems we're supposed to believe that this is the same Mudd from the original series who just needs a beautiful wife to keep him in check.

Still, I found this one more enjoyable. It was just as silly, but the writers at least seem to have embraced the silliness.
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Nic
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 8:41am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

The emotional core of the episode—Sarek’s regret at having chosen Spock over Burnham, even though Spock didn’t follow the path Sarek set for him—is actually quite good. But why did we need so much sci-fi telepathic nonsense in order to get there? Again, at least the series is consistently implausible. Not to mention the introduction of Logic Extremists, as if this series didn’t already have enough poorly-defined conflict.

Lorca sleeping with the Admiral reminded me of Riker sleeping with Beata in “Angel One,” which is not something that any writer should try to do. It’s wildly inappropriate, especially considering the circumstances. And of course the Admiral then wanders into a Klingon trap, which allows Lorca to stay Captain despite the fact that he’s more unhinged than all of the Admirals we’ve seen in previous Treks put together.

And I, for one, DO have a problem with the Holodeck existing in this century. In “Encounter at Farpoint,” it’s fairly clear that the Holodeck is a fairly new technology and most of the characters are amazed at how realistic it is. And it’s a continuity problem that would have been easy to get around—just have them wear VR masks or something. OR set the series in the 25th century and then you can do whatever you want.

On the other hand, I liked Stamets in this episode more than in previous ones. It would be an interesting twist of a Trek cliché for an alien influence to make one of the regular characters LESS of a jerk, though I’m guessing from the Ominous Music ™ at the end of the previous episode that’s not how it will turn out.

1.5-2 stars.
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