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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 5:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Sure, they "chose" to stop at six seasons because after negotiations and consultations and what not they knew they couldn't get more. Therefore they planned seasons 5 and 6 with that in mind, and are hopefully able to provide a satisfying conclusion to the story. Were they hoping for a chance to adapt the whole damn thing? Of course they were! There are still three books worth of story to tell after Season/Book 6. Naren Shankar, the showrunner, and his team are outright saying that they hope that The Expanse will continue in some form or fashion. Talking about that possibility, Shankar said in an interview: "You know, honestly, that would be more of a question for our studio, for Alcon, they control the property. What I will say is that there's definitely more to tell and I'm sure Ty and Daniel would say exactly the same thing. But yeah, that's probably about as much as I can say at this point."

So yeah, depends on how you define "cancelled".
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 3:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Well, The Expanse was and it wasn't cancelled. It wasn't in the sense that the writing team, which includes the writers of the novel series, was operating for a while now on the assumption that six seasons is all they get...

SPOILERS: There is a pretty massive time jump after Book 6 which makes for a pretty convenient place to wrap it up in a somewhat logical and natural fashion. END SPOILERS

It *is* cancelled in the sense that the guys surely hoped to be able to adapt the entire 9-book-long series and, as it seems, they won't have the opportunity. I am still not exactly clear why Amazon and Alcon Entertainment didn't reach the deal to continue producing the show. The Expanse is allegedly in the TOP10 streamed show in the US in 2019/20.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 1:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2


From what I've heard, Mira died of complications after contracting West Nile fever... which is just utterly random.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Dom, right you are. The semi-serialization that was in vogue in those years sometimes feels like a lost art. We need more of that.

I also agree that, for now, BSG is the better show. Much rides on how The Expanse bows out next year. Let's wait and see. However, I don't agree that The Expanse has nothing to say on politics or the human condition. Quite the contrary! It's intensely political and engages in socially grounded worldbuilding to an extent rarely seen in televised speculative fiction. It examines and deals with colonialism and imperialism, class issues, resource scarcity, ecology, terraforming, physical and social effects of generational life in space, the way old prejudices inform current political climate and how the changing political landscape (courtesy of the discovery of the ring gates) has far-reaching consequences, social and psychological alike.

It isn't allegorical or symbolical the way Trek (at its best) is. Even BSG, for all its "realism", is also to a great extent influenced by that kind of allegorical storytelling tradition. The Expanse, I feel, more closely follows the "old school" speculative fiction tradition of literary sci-fi where authors set up certain worldbuilding and societal parameters in advance, extrapolate from there and see where it leads them. From this standpoint, I can understand why someone would call The Expanse "not as relevant" since it lacks the aforementioned generality and mythic qualities of, say, Star Trek. I appreciate it in the same way I appreciate The Wire, because the two shows share a fascinating sense of time and place, the characters rooted in the specifics of their respective worlds to an extent their more dramatically archetypal counterparts by definition can't be (nor should they).
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

"And yet... it remains perhaps the most ambitious, serialized, epic story ever put to TV, perhaps outside Game of Thrones. Even DS9 and Farscape were mostly episodic shows with some continuous plot threads. The Expanse is great, but rarely reaches that operatic level of B5."

I am trying to think of shows in the vein of Babylon 5 and I keep coming short. I think you are right: there isn't anything out there except Game of Thrones that operates on such an epic, serialized, character-driven, and mythic level. Straczynski always said he was writing a novel for television.

As it stands right now -- though I'll have to see how it ends before I pass my final judgment -- The Expanse is next to Battlestar Galactica my favorite sci-fi TV show of all times. Babylon 5 and various Trek incarnations are monumental achievements, no doubt, and they probably rise just as high, if not higher, in certain episodes, but are too inconsistent hour-to-hour to definitively crown them as the best of the best.

That said, I don't think The Expanse should be directly compared to Babylon 5. Both are heavily serialized, character-driven, and directly tackle political and socioeconomic issues. But whereas The Expanse operates more in the sphere of hard-ish (well, to an extent) SF with characters that exhibit correspondingly grounded, easy to relate to motivations and behavior, Babylon 5 is, as you say, operatic, its themes and plots going thousands of years to the past and future, its characters often feeling like players in a grand drama that engage in theatrical monologues and ruminate on their place in the cosmos.

Speaking of re-watches, I am currently engaged in three, and enjoying all of them immensely! I am on DS9's fourth season right now, Babylon 5's third, and Fringe's second. Fringe is also one of my favorite shows, but for whatever inexplicable reason I have never actually seen its fifth and final season, so in the process of remedying that, I opted to start from the beginning. Good times!
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 7:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Babylon 5 is an unpolished gem. Frequently awesome, sometimes solid, on quite a few occasions dire. But for all its flaws, B5 was a fascinating experience, a show like no other. So sad to hear about Mira Furlan. What is it with actors from Bablyon 5? Why are they all dying so young?
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Paul M.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 11:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

It's interesting to try and understand the motivations behind actions of various characters in this episode. For all the talk about the "big picture" and whether helping Jem'Hadar is in Federation's interest or not, I'm not sure the two main protagonists -- O'Brien and Bashir -- operate on that level.

Bashir, as will be demonstrated again this season in "The Quickening", is a doctor first and foremost. He is willing to do everything in his power, up to and including sacrificing himself, to alleviate the suffering of others, no matter who they are. It doesn't matter if they are the genetically-engineered enemy; in fact I think it makes it even more of a moral imperative for Bashir to help them, because in a way Jem'Hadar are victims by virtue of being who they are.

O'Brien is the one who repeatedly brings up the fact that the Jem'Hadar are the armored fist of the Dominion, and that helping them in any way might bring about unintended, potentially disastrous, consequences. Thing is, I don't think that's his primary motivation. He is constantly depicted as DS9's, and Trek's, resident everyman. He's not someone who loses his sleep debating finer points of morality or worrying about the future of the Federation because of some rogue Jem'hadar. I choose to interpret his rather startling, and explosive, refusal to follow orders primarily in light of two conversations he has with Bashir that bookend the episode. In the beginning he expresses a wish that Keiko was more like... he wants to say "Julian", but ends up saying "a man", highlighting once again (as if the drinking scene from "Explorers" wasn't enough) that O'Brien really loves our good doctor, as a friend and co-worker. Then, at the end of the episode, O'Brien says that he destroyed Bashir's work because that was the only way to save his life. Not because of higher principles or military pragmatism, but because he couldn't let Julian die. I don't know if it was the correct course of action, but I find that very touching.

As for Worf, no , I don't think, as some here do, that writers were making him look stupid (again). I think this little B-story works on two levels. First, I believe it's important to show how a quasi-civilian installation differs from a Starfleet vessel, and how a new transplant from the sister show is bound to have some trouble integrating into the new crew. Sisko is right, there *are* shades of grey aplenty on DS9, and it isn't always easy to navigate them. Second, knowing the real world story behind Michael Dorn's character getting on DS9, I'd say this storyline is a clever meta-commentary by the writers on the perils of and solutions to bringing over a beloved character from the higher-profile sister show. There was always danger that Worf would "take over", step on toes of other characters, and inadvertently diminish them in the process (see also: 7 of 9). This was a way of showing us that no, it's not the others that will have to adapt to Worf, it's Worf that will have to adapt to them. It's a slight B-plot, but an enjoyable one nevertheless.
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Paul M.
Sun, Jan 17, 2021, 3:39am (UTC -6)
Re: Trek Films S2: Star Trek: Generations

One thing I'll give to Generations: it's the only TNG movie that feels cinematic and sweeping, something the other three movies, even the very good First Contact, never quite managed. For all its flaws, it has a different quality to it whereas the others, and especially Insurrection and Nemesis, always seemed like expanded TV episodes.

That's why I think TOS movies are still unmatched. They operate on a whole another level compared to the series.
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Paul M.
Sat, Jan 16, 2021, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Eh, I didn't like the Riker-to-the-Rescue scene all that much, to be honest. Too manipulative for my tastes. The show also didn't follow through on it in any significant way, as Riker just goes away five minutes later like nothing happened. And of course I simply can't get over the hideousness of the copy-paste low-res fleet. That shot is a CGI embarrassment for year 2000 let alone 2020.
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Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 1:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Third Season Recap

Season 3: The (Somewhat) Overrated One

In Trek fandom it is almost a truism that Deep Space Nine’s third season is „when stuff gets good“. It’s not that everybody shares that opinion, but coupled with the general Trekkian Third Season Rule, it’s widespread enough. And it’s easy to see why. This is the season the Dominion, which will henceforth play a central role in the story, got properly introduced, and is the focus of multiple well-regarded installments. Our crew got their hands on the Defiant which quickly became one of Trek’s most beloved ships, thanks in equal parts to its formidable firepower as well as its unusual and inspired design. The ship allowed the writers to get away from the station more in order to tell more varied stories. Indeed, the feel of the show really did change. It became less concerned with Bajoran politics (or the Maquis for that matter), and more adventurous and playful. There were multiple action-adventure episodes like the opening two-parter and „The Defiant“, comedies became a regular occurrence (some more successful than others), „Past Tense“ I and II were DS9’s first time travel story, and the season even had The Thing-inspired paranoia-driven thriller for the finale. I can’t be sure about this, but I think the show was also visually retooled a bit; it seems a bit brighter and more colorful. And last but not least, the Beard has arrived. (We are still waiting for Hair-B-Gone, though). The season felt livelier, no doubt about it.

However, when viewed and rated in isolation, there are a lot of average and/or mediocre episodes, and a couple of abysmal ones. I doubt there are many who want to see another „Meridian“ or „Family Business“ any time soon. Even perfectly competent episodes leave much to be desired or are too simplistic for their own good („The Search“, „Equilibrium“, „Civil Defense“, „Past Tense“, „Shakaar“, „Facets“...).While the „turn towards adventure“, whether originating inside the writers room or mandated from above, definitely had some good things going for it, I can’t help but feel it came at the expense of nuanced storytelling, at least in some episodes. My season averages (see post above this one) are therefore well below Season 2 and barely above my Season 1 ratings.

That said, Season 3 did an admirable job depicting the looming threat of the Dominion. Multiple episodes directly dealt with this issue in one form or another, ranging from the adventure-oriented opening two-parter („The Search“), character-driven look at the Jem’Hadar („The Abandoned“), masterful politically charged „Improbable Cause“ and „The Die Is Cast“ which remain among the all-time best Trek two-parters (and culminate with a space battle that puts to shame anything Discovery tried 25 years later), and closing with a solid and tensely paranoid final episode („The Adversary“) that serves as a good showcase of just how dangerous Founders can be if allowed to infiltrate the „solids“. Even episodes that ostensibly had nothing to do with the Dominion were used well either to foreshadow what was to come (Obsidian Order fleet buildup in „The Defiant“; Romulans trying to collapse the wormhole in deliciously high-concept „Visionary“) or to simply paint a picture of the new status quo (Quark noting that business is slow because everyone fears the Dominion in „The House of Quark“, incidentally the season’s, and the show’s up to this point, best comedy).

Cardassia was also surprisingly well-served this season. Building upon Season 2 material regarding the Obsidian Order and the dissident movement growing on the Cardassian homeworld, this season gave us quite a few very good-to-outstanding episodes that depict a world on the precipice of change, for better or worse.

The ensemble is as enjoyable as ever. In my humble view, this is the best Trek crew of them all, and this season served them just as well as the previous two have. I’d say Sisko is the most improved character, finally breaking through from a more background role of previous years and blazing his own trail to the pantheon of great Trek captains. He established a more commanding presence, his bond with Jake is as strong and believable as ever („Explorers“ being an absolute highlight), he meets captain Kasidy Yates for the first time, and gets promoted to boot. Thing are looking good!

Odo as a character is in a good spot as well. He began the season by finally meeting his people, only to realize they are the power behind the Dominion. The rest of the season he is shown to be gradually accepting his place among the solids and adopting their ways, be it slowly swaying with music in „Fascination“, admitting his love for Kira in „Heart of Stone“, or letting go of his inhibitions while joined with Curzon in „Facets“. All this came to a head in the „The Die Is Cast“ where under torture Odo admits he wants nothing more than to be able to return to his people. Looking through this lens, I find Odo’s journey this season quite remarkable.

As a huge O’Brien / Bashir fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that their famous bromance is finally in full swing this season. Be it racquetball, kayak, or darts, nothing can keep these two apart and I’m here for every second of it. Their drunken singing of Jerusalem in „Explorers“ is a highlight of the franchise, as far as I am concerned.

Although Andrew Robinson isn’t part of the main cast (for whatever reason), this is the season where Garak truly becomes an integral part of the DS9 character formula. His every appearance is a highlight thanks to Robinson’s brilliant portrayal, but what’s more he is integral to the plot of several essential episodes throughout the season in a way even some cast members aren’t.

Quark and Kira are probably somewhat underutilized, at least compared to previous years where both had some very strong and relevant material. Not to say they are in a bad spot, they’re simply not as focused on this year.

Dax, as always, is a weak link. I think that Farrell’s performance plays into and reinforces the writers’ inability or reluctance to give her good material as she probably doesn’t inspire them as many of the other actors and characters do. It’s telling that Dax-centric episodes routinely sideline Jadzia in favor of other cast members („Equilibrium“) or previous hosts („Facets“), which is something previous seasons were also guilty of („Dax“ is S1 or „Invasive Procedures“ in S2).

All in all... Season 3 is a tough one to parse. As noted above, individual episodes are often on the average side with some real stinkers and several masterpieces, which is reflected in my ratings. Then again, I also believe that the more serialized nature of the season featuring compelling intersecting Dominion and Cardassian storylines („The Search I“ – „Second Skin“ – „Defiant“ – „Visionary“ – „Improbable Cause“ – „The Die Is Cast“ – „The Adversary“), as well as certain playfulness that permeates much of season, bring the season’s overall quality to a level above what my ratings would indicate. Still probably not as good as Season 2, but I would definitely put it solidly above the first season, at least in terms of how much enjoyment I derived out of it.
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Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Third Season Recap

My ratings of all Season 3 episodes on both 4-star and 10-point scales.

The Search, Part I: * * * (7.5)
The Search, Part II: * * (5.0)
The House of Quark: * * * (8.0)
Equilibrium: * *.5 (6.5)
Second Skin: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Abandoned: * * * (7.5)
Civil Defense: * *.5 (6.0)
Meridian: * (2.0)
Defiant: * * * (8.0)
Fascination: * * (5.0)
Past Tense, Part I: * * * (7.0)
Past Tense, Part II: * *.5 (6.0)
Life Support: * * (4.5)
Heart of Stone: * *.5 (6.0)
Destiny: * * *.5 (9.0)
Prophet Motive: * *.5 (5.5)
Visionary: * * * (8.0)
Distant Voices: * *.5 (5.5)
Through the Looking Glass: * * * (7.0)
Improbable Cause: * * * * (10)
The Die Is Cast: * * * * (10)
Explorers: * * *.5 (9.0)
Family Business: *.5 (3.5)
Shakaar: * *.5 (6.0)
Facets: * *.5 (5.5)
The Adversary: * * * (7.5)

Season 3 average: 2.73 stars (6.69 out of 10)

Best episodes: Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter, Explorers, Destiny

Worst Episodes: Meridian (utter trash), Family Business, Life Support
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Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 10:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Explorers

One of my favorite DS9 episodes. I loved it when I first saw it and my appreciation only grew with subsequent re-watches. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the warmest fuzziest-feeling hours of Trek.

Bearded Sisko with a crazy glint in his eye has always been my favorite Sisko and he is at his glintiest here. He dives headlong into this crazy little building project of his and it simply rings true; there has always been something monomaniacal about the man. This might also be the best Sisko/Jake episode with some understated yet eminently believable father/son dynamics going on. I love how Jake sets up the meeting between Sisko and Kasidy. This is also the first time we hear about Jake's writerly tendencies which pays off magnificently early next season. The two of them alone in a cramped sailing ship (beautiful design, by the way), just talking to one another in a way we haven't seen in a long time... I felt their bond, Ben's love for his son and Jake's respect for the old man.

Having said all that, it's the "Jerusalem" scene with Bashir and O'Brien that cements this episode's status as one of the underrated greats.

Miles: "You're not an in-between kind of guy. People either love you or hate you."
Julian: "Really?"
M: "I mean, I hated you when we first met."
J: "I remember."
M: "And now…"
J: "And now?"
M: "Well… Now, I don't."
J: "That means a lot to me, chief, it really does."
M: "And that is from the heart! I really do… not hate you anymore!"

The bromance, oh the bromance! Be still my heart.

I want to give "Explorers" four stars, but I don't think I'll go quite that far. Gotta control myself.

* * *.5 stars (9 out of 10)
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Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 8:24am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Despite some reservations, I thought the season was going along just fine until around mid-point when it started going downhill and fast. Unification III was the last episode I enjoyed. After that... shudder...
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Paul M.
Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Ugh, am I always so lazy to spellcheck before I post?
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Paul M.
Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Absolutely. There are countless examples of well-crafted serialized season of TV than span 10-13 episodes. It's been a cable TV standard for many years now. If anything, the opposite is true. It's hard to sustain an engaging and well-paced storyline over 20+ episodes.
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Paulus Marius Rex
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Bang on Jammer. You expressed it all just as I wish I could have had I not been blubbering to myself incoherently at the end of that mess. At least this season had a string of three good episodes in a row. (3-4-5? I can't remember exactly which ones.) My wish for Season 4 or any other future iteration of Star Trek: please can we stop with so much action, fisticuffs, gunfights? We've seen it all before. Boooooring. Yawn. I would like some intelligent, thoughtful writing instead please pretty please
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Paul M.
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

An outstanding episode in its own right and probably one of the tightest scripts DS9 had produced up to this point. I've read majority of posts above concerning the religious angle of the episode and its real-world applicability and relevance; great stuff highlighting the issue from all sides, to which I don't think I could contribute in a significant fashion.

I am more interested in the way "Destiny" is structured as an episode and the vehicle for examining its characters, and it is in this sense that I find it an excellent example of a well-crafted hour of television.

The first thing I noticed as I watched the episode is the clear-cut and precise way the individual scenes are presented and how well they flow in sequence, with one leading to another seamlessly. The cold open wastes no time and informs us that two Cardassian scientists are en route to the station to deploy a relay on the far side of the wormhole that will hopefully facilitate instantaneous communication with the other side. In the next scene we get a vedek deliver an ominous prophecy about what might happen if the enterprise is allowed to proceed. We meet the scientists who happen to be rather friendly and outgoing (for Cardassians) followed by the reveal that the first contingency mentioned in the prophecy looks like it might come to pass (the third viper!). This segues rather nicely to a conversation between Sisko and Odo on his role as Emissary and in what way it might make him unconsciously resistant to considering all sides of the situation. At the same time, the vedek and Kira have a similarly intriguing exchange about how she reconciles her view of Sisko as Emissary and his position as her superior officer. One thing leads to another, parts of the prophecy sequentially appear to be coming true, things get from bad to worse, and characters try to find a solution to the problem, all coming from their particular viewpoints and life experiences.

It's an exceedingly clever episode that tightens the screws with each passing scene but never resorts to cheating or glossing over important plot points to arrive at the conclusion (which is something Trek is often guilty of).

Even if this intricate yet elegant structure is all there is to the episode, it would still be a fine installment very fun to watch. But it's the character beats and the way they drive the story forward that is the highlight of the hour. As Odo succinctly puts it, each character approaches the material from the position of his or her own biases. Sisko doesn't want to put much stock in the prophecy not only because of his Starfleet training and position, but also because he doesn't want to accept the religious role of Emissary that Bajorans have thrust upon him. As I noted in my seasonal reviews of Seasons 1 and 2, while Sisko is a fine presence, there is a feeling the show doesn't use him to drive the story nearly as often as it probably should. Here though, his dual role as Emissary and Starfleet officer is examined to great effect, with Sisko not only increasingly torn on whether to heed the prophecy, but also for the first time beginning to accept his role in Bajoran spiritual life, as evidenced by his final conversation with vedek Yarka.

Kira's predicament is no less interesting. Just like with Sisko, "Destiny" says "enough with avoiding the issue" and puts Kira in a situation where she, like it or not, has to admit to herself -- and later to Sisko -- that, yes, she does consider him to be Emissary of the Prophets. Their conversation on the Defiant where she comes clean about how she views him is a scene long time coming and I am glad it's finally addressed. Yet she approaches the central dilemma of the episode from the viewpoint of a spiritual Bajoran who believes in the wisdom of the ancient texts. Important to notice that the script doesn't make her a zealot that'll believe anything. After all, prophets do know the future and the mounting evidence that something is about to go wrong is getting increasingly harder to ignore.

The side story with O'Brien and one of the Cardassian scientists could have easily come off as light padding. Thankfully, writers' dedication to their primary goal of examining personal biases is evident here as well, examined through the lens of cross-cultural misunderstanding. O'Brien and the scientist seem to get off on the wrong foot, but what he interprets as disrespect and rudeness is a result of Cardassian gender dynamics where scientific and technical roles are female-dominated. Coupled with inherent Cardassian aggressiveness and territorialism, she probably views his self-asserted expertise as off-putting and misplaced. When O'Brien returns in kind, she then interprets his belligerence as courting, because, hey, that's how it's done back on Cardassia, and changes her behavior accordingly.

Finally, the episode provides us with some nice worldbuilding as it furthers the overarching plots brewing throughout the season. The Cardassian - Bajoran treaty signed in the previous episode is mentioned again while the Obsidian Order makes an appearance as well, in preparation of the "grand finale" of this particular plotline in the excellent Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter.

I enjoyed this episode tremendously and I am actually surprised by how compelling it is.

* * *1/2 (9 out of 10)
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Paul M.
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 9:57am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars S1: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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Paul M.
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

The topic of series-defining episodes is an interesting one.

While The Enterprise Incident is indeed a very good episode, I wouldn't exactly call it series-defining. I don't think it represents what TOS is best known for and what may be its lasting legacy, namely the vaunted Trekkian morality play. In that sense, The City on the Edge of Forever is a fine pick.

TNG, I feel, is a bit harder, as that show went beyond the storytelling format of TOS. Darmok maybe? The Drumhead? Measure of a Man? Something that captures the intellectualism that sets TNG apart from all other Trek shows (and that preferably has a Picard Speech(TM) in there somewhere ;)

Deep Space Nine... While my heart wants to say Duet, Visitor, or Far Beyond the Stars, those are nevertheless episodes of a more "classic" Trek bent. For authentic Niner experience, I'd probably go for something that combines politics, character drama, and high stakes. In the Pale Moonlight is an obvious choice, but for the sake of variety and in order to pick an episode from an earlier season that sets the tone for what's to come... say... The Wire for a more intimate episode or maybe the Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter for the epic war drama stuff.

The Voyager is at its heart a slickly produced action-adventure show that has the Borg fetish. I haven't seen it in a long time, but from what I can recall the best episodes in that particular vein are probably Scorpion and Dark Frontier? I think? There are surely better episodes around, but stuff like this is what I remember about Voyager.

I am not sure that Enterprise has a definitive series-defining episode. That show was all over the place. The first two seasons were poor man's Voyager, the third one was something else entirely, and then the fourth season was a total retooling of the show once more. The Azati Prime three-parter I'd say comes closest, but how representative of the entire show is it really? Not sure it is.

With Discovery, I have the opposite problem. That show is so consistently samey in tone and theme from episode to episode that it almost feels like one big huge movie that doesn't slow down for a second. I mean, go and pick an episode at random and chances are good that the one you picked is a perfectly fine example of just what Discovery wants to be. I don't know. It's a heavily serialized show so an arc episode would probably be the one that's the most series-defining. The only problem is that on this series arc episodes are hands down no contest the worst of the lot. That leaves us with... If Memory Serves, I guess. An outstanding episode that utilizes the prequel status of the show to great effect in a very smart way. And since DIS is kinda ape-y of certain elements of TOS -- in Kurtzman's view of what would TOS look like if filmed now -- it fits.
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Paul G
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 2:30am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Burnham doesn't work as a character for me. Making her captain makes no sense.
The burn makes no sense either. If dilithium is so unstable, it should all have disapeared a long while ago. The writers came up with the burn for shock value, so that the federation is crippled and vulcan and earth have left the srarfeet, who is now a legend. No one knows if it exists anymore. Ten minutes later, the federation is still a great power in the galaxy, everyone rejoins, back to square one. The burn is explained (?) and handwaved, it will have no more consequences. You can do this in episodic series, like old trek, but no in a show with season arcs. If nothing has consequences, why bother watching the whole season?

I'm still watching this because I think Saru is a great character and I like jammer's blog so I try to keep up with the episodes. But maybe it's time to cancel my Netflix account and switch to disney and look at the Mandalorian. I like shows with tigh writing like Babylon 5, or lots of humor like Stargate, Firefly and Farscape. I'll try the expanse when it's availlable somewhere in France, if anyone has other suggestions, tell me!
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2


I love how sooner or later someone inevitably brings up The Expanse. And for good reason. I've said it a million times already, but that thing is just marvelous. Go watch it, everybody and then come back and despair at the state of Trek. ;)
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Jason R.

There are multiple headscratchers when it comes to the way Discovery was initially designed:

1. Setting the show in the TOS prequel era was a stone around their necks from the very start and for no good narrative reason at all. Seeing as how it turned out, why not start in the future?

2. As you point out, why abandon the successful ensemble setup and go for this silly Burnham as the center of the universe thing they're attempting? Even Star Trek: Picard, with *PICARD* in the title is much more of an ensemble that Discovery is.

3. Why focus the show on a character that isn't captain and then still pursue earth-shattering plots? I am all for a more "lower decks" theme, but then you have to approach it from a different angle and not have your mutineer / science officer / solve every single problem the ship encounters.

It's interesting how so many of the problems this show faces are actually self-imposed for reasons that I can't really fathom, and that, as far as I know, were never satisfactorily explained by any of the (trillion) execs.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Yup, I'd say this is the worst season thus far. And after such a promising start. All three seasons had rubbish overarching plots, complete nonsense. However, Seasons 1 and 2 at least had quite a few solid to good individual episodes and I, on balance, liked those seasons. Season 3 though... ugh, after midpoint, it's been going from bad to worse on one long uninterrupted spiral to oblivion.

Discovery is simply an utterly mediocre show. Not a mediocre Star Trek show. Not a mediocre science fiction show. Just an all around forgettable action-adventure drivel punctuated with the most insufferably melodramatic self-centered bullshit I've seen in a long time. Normal people don't behave this way. Teenagers on an ego trip behave this way, making grand proclamations and reveling in their special specialness all the while daydreaming how one day everyone alive will recognize their awesomeness and congratulate them on just how unique a human being they are.

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Paul G
Wed, Jan 6, 2021, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

@Franck A. Booze
"I am trying to think of another show where the lead character is really not that great. A show that lasted more than a season? Can anybody think of one? "
Kevin Sorbo in the later seasons of Andromeda? The rest of the cast had their screentime greatly reduced, the script was inept, and it was all about showing how the captain in great. I sometimes get the same feeling with Disco.

About SMG being a bad actress: I don't know, butI think even the greatest couldn't save this character. Burnham is badly written. She's supposed to have been raised by vulcans and keep her emotions at bay, but now this is all forgotten and she cries for nothing in every episode. She can betray her captain or her crew several times, it's also all forgotten the following week. If we're not supposed to remember and care about a character past, it's difficult to care about it's future....

Also, I have seen many comment about the Bechdell test. I think this is largely unrelated to the quality of the script. We can have an all male cast and a plot that still makes sense, and a very diverse cast with a weak script.
Having a diverse cast is good from a diversity standpoint.
Passing the Bechdell test is good from a feminist standpoint. Nothing more, nothing less. If you replace all characters by white straight males, the burn being caused by a kid or the EC wanting suddenly to join the federation is still bad writing. And if you replace Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda by a black actress, you still get a bad show. Those things are unrelated in my opinion. It's nice to have diversity if you like diversity. But it won't save the show.
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Paul G
Sun, Jan 3, 2021, 12:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

I agree the serialization is a burden for Disco.
There are bad episodes in all seasons of all previous star trek shows, but they were mostly stand alone and you could ignore them. And when you rewatch old shows, you can skip them. Disco doesn't have this chance, so the bad ideas in some episodes are dragging the whole season down, even the whole serie.
Also, it feels like each episode is written separately from the others. The emerald chain wants to make peace with starfleet? Where is that idea in previous episodes? The whole arc should be written completely before you even start shooting your first episode, even if you can allow for flexibility. Babylon 5 did it well in its time. The Expanse also, as it's based on books. Here, I get the feeling the writers didn't have a clue what could have caused the blur at the start of the season, and they struggled to come up with an explanation after that. Too bad. Discovery have very strong aspects, but that improvisation is hurting it. Burnham has to become captain? Well, let's suddenly derail Saru's character.

I stop here, I'm too frustrated. I would probably wouldn't watch this if it wasn't a Star Trek show. But I won't give up, I'll be back for season 4, hoping for better writting, and for more stand alone episodes (i really hope for a Detmer centered episode one day)
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