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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

" I guess they haven't installed a holosuite on the cube so maybe sliding on wet floors will have to do."

Maybe what was so exciting was how much the music played every time they slid, like it was a private discoteque or something. No wonder he likes it so much, there's a whole orchestra in those Borg walls. Must be a music saturation chamber nearby.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.

Those are good questions, and we can't really address them because we don't know. All we know is a meeting that occurred off-camera caused Picard to feel so strongly about it that he said "this is not my Starfleet" and threatened to quit. This was the same Picard as we saw in Insurrection, so clearly something bugged him enough to do that. Or at least that's what I'm gathering. The message here seems to be something like that even if they were acting poorly he should have stayed in the organization if nothing else to be a voice of reason at the table. But whatever decision they made it seems they're portraying it as throwing all of the Romulans under the bus. Let's face it: talking about whether Geordi could have helped is a bit beside the point, in that what they're clearly going for here is a refugee analogy where if the big government doesn't do it then it doesn't get done. Yes, on a literal level there are perhaps many other ways to get things done, but this is the story they want to tell, and I don't think it's logical.

Regarding The Wounded vs Insurrection/FC, I suppose this is a matter of interpretation but with Insurrection we learned that a single Starfleet admiral had gone rogue, as they seemingly scrapped the script where all of Starfleet went bad. In FC it's because Picard had information Starfleet lacked that could save them. But I agree that he is shown to do the right thing even when Starfleet makes a mistake on occasion, but I feel like those occasions are exceptional. And I do personally believe that a Picardian Federation would not have prevented the Cardassian invasion planned in Chain of Command, that Captain Maxwell was trying to prevent.

But I guess this all skirts around the issue of what Captains could or could not do to help the Romulans. I don't think the writers thought as much about it as we are; they simply wrote that help for them was cancelled, and Picard had to personally choose whether to do it alone, and he didn't. I suppose a modern analogy would be whether Bill Gates could save a bunch of refugees even if the U.S. government said they could't come to America. Should Gates be hiding in obscurity over the shame of not having done so? Maybe, I guess. We could always argue that rich or powerful people *could* be out there risking it all to get refugees somewhere safe. And this isn't even an outrageous argument, but it's a different matter for it to be an open and shut case that he was WRONG and should be ashamed.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

@ Jason R.,

"So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested."

If you mean off-the-books power, then sure, Picard had it. What I meant was that sticking within Starfleet rules he'd have had no power. But yes, he could have pulled a Kirk and just done whatever he wanted anyhow, stealing/using ships and crew who he'd knew would follow him. But it would have definitely been against Starfleet wishes, as they had definitively ruled against doing this. That would essentially be mass piracy then, though, which granted he could have done if the refugee situation was more important than any other consideration. But remember that Picard was the champion of doing things within the rules. My favorite example of this was Captain Maxwell in The Wounded, where the Cardassians were *clearly* violating the treaty and building up, and Picard could not accept doing anything outside of the treaty terms. This would come up later in Chain of Command, and it has always been my contention that Picard would never have done what Jellico did in mining the nebula. I believe it took a certain kind of Captain to not care about treaty terms or diplomacy and to just "get it done." I think Picard would have shied away from that, just as I think it's logical that he would shy away from going renegade to gather a refugee-saving force. That's just not who he was, not his values. Walking away may seem lousy, I guess, but I think being a pirate would have offended his values even more. And this has always been Section 31's point: standing by absolute values is no good when messy work is required. Picard would disagree (as Bashir did), and that's why you need more than one kind of Captain out there.

And this brings up the main question: where were all the other Captains during thing? No conscientious objectors? Picard is the only good man in Starfleet, the rest are cronies? This is really what they're giving off here, and I don't like it. Their fundamental premise is that Picard and Picard alone could save the Romulans, because the rest of the Federation I guess is morally corrupt. And this is to say nothing of what is supposed to be a civilian oversight of Starfleet. Should I really believe the Vulcans did nothing to try to save the Romulans? They don't answer to Starfleet Command. Anyhow the whole situation as it's painted is silly, so it's almost not even possible to get into whether or not Picard did the right thing. How do we address a dilemma that occurs in a nonsensical scenario: the whole good of the universe rests on Picard's shoulders, should he go rogue to save it or just quit to uphold his principles? It's not a good question on a basic level. There might have been a good question to ask about him, but this wasn't it.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Sadly this one is a significant step down from last week. The problems are many, and are not restricted only to the fact that the plot is revealing itself to be stalling. Maybe like Picard said in Remembrance, the writers don't want the story to end so they're not letting it progress. More likely it's because they don't have a strong game plan and are running on the building-up momentum so much they don't know how to provide any payoff. I hope it's not this, but based on the track record of nu-Trek this is what I expect. I will note on the record that I came into this series hoping to hate it, because I intensely dislike the Kurtzman crew's entire concept of TV and writing. I was in a strange way disappointed to actually like the premiere and even more thrown by coming out of Ep 3 very optimistic. This one feels more like DISC, in that we get a plot designed as a series of ad hoc steps that seem unrelated, "first this happens - and then this! - and then this!" trying to keep us occupied with new developments but not giving any reason for their existence.

For instance, Picard needs a bodyguard why? And he needs especially to do a daring drop-in on a guarded planet, endangering his mission why? And he needs to personally endanger himself on the planet why? No reason, it's just exciting...I guess. At least they could have showed Picard as the cunning tactician had he intentionally put himself on death's door just to dare Elnor not to do anything about it. But no, it's just a deus ex machina fixing a stupid undiplomatic move.

Another problem with this episode which reminds me of DISC is the "love scenes" which feel neither like love nor like scenes. Frankly they were all boring; so boring that I was wondering if I was sleepy and not perceiving them correctly. What in the world was going on with those? Man they were a waste of time. I have barely any interest in this plot to seduce android secrets out of her, no less the antagonistic brother/sister hysterics. I mean, I still think these are good actors...but the script descends into borderline B-horror movie territory at times. I never thought I'd say it, but all the scenes on the Borg ship lacked any intensity and interest. It was like a lit-up set with people having casual chats. No thanks.

I could mention other problems but I'll skip right to the main event: the writers have jumped the shark big-time on Picard's past. For the first three eps I figured I knew what they were going for, with Picard quitting rather than taking the refugee situation into his own hands. And I think I was right in my review of Ep 3 that Raffi was apparently upset at him because of the result of the refugee situation. It had nothing whatsoever to do with classism, money, etc etc. I really don't understand this debate here that's been raging about that. In this episode the matter is further clarified and we get hit on the head with HE MADE A MISTAKE, as if it wasn't enough to leave it up to us to decide. Picard comes in with a pithy-sounding "I allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good" or something, which is a fine sentiment except that's not what happened. According to what we've been told he took a moral position not to stand by an organization that chose to allow millions to die, simply because it didn't care about them enough. Say what you like, this is not an irrational position. Then in the scene last episode where Raffi tries to get him to forget Starfleet and get ships on his own to save them, he rightly says that without Starfleet it's kinda hopeless. I guess he could have gotten a little ship and saved a few dozen people or something, but this business of him letting down an entire planet - breaking his promise - is an illogical concept and a broken plot element. They are now asking us to accept that Picard not only made a mistake, but that everyone upset at him thus far was right, and that He Is Wrong, And Now He Knows It. I see, so much for nuance. So he was supposed to remain in Starfleet, I suppose, which is also a fair position to take, maybe he would have done some good. But the argument this episode takes is that he was personally and singularly responsible to save all the Romulans, and by resigning it's all his fault. Except hold on - the Romulan senator tells him that actually his fault was to do anything at all because they could have solved it himself. Ok, so basically any action he could have chosen was wrong and cowardly, I guess. The important thing is he feels guilty about it; check.

So it appears to me that my chief complaint about Ep 3, which I otherwise liked a lot, has been turned on its head. It's not at all that Picard is held in unreasonably low regard, which appeared to be the case. On the contrary, the problem seems to be that everyone holds in in *such high regard* that they saw him as some kind of messiah; the only one to save the Romulans, the pride of the Federation, and naturally when your messiah lets you down you're going to be pissed at him. I suppose it should come as no shock that a show called Picard will hold Picard as some kind of mega-icon, but I think they've got the reasons all wrong: he was an icon in TNG because his principles meant more to him than success or survival. But here they're arguing that he's an icon *only so long as he does what people want*, and breaking off in disagreement makes him a traitor to both sides. Well I don't buy that; Picard's ethos was that each person makes his own moral choices, which you should respect. Picard even fought for the respect for cultures with stupid rules and rituals, but here we see everyone and their sister throw him under the bus for making a conscientious choice. That is crap in my book, but doubly so because Picard believes them. I do not think this is the same Picard we knew from before. As an aside, this feeling is furthered by Stewart's incessant need to be either wry, humorous, self-deprecating, or goofy in every scene. I get it, his friendship with Ian McKellan has rubbed off on him; but Jean-Luc Picard had a dignity and composure which I don't see here. He's sort of just there to have a good time, which doesn't help with my confusion about what I'm supposed to make of this guy who stood by his principles (in his opinion) and was thrown to the fire for it.

So yeah, I'm not a fan of this turn of theirs in trying to portray Picard has having let down the galaxy by resigning. I mean, even if it wasn't his best move, this all feels very wrong insofar as his personal presence in Starfleet seems to be treated as more important than Starfleet itself. His role was always to represent their ethics and their goals; it was about humanity, not about him becoming a personal promiser of salvation for an entire people. Since when would it be ok for a Captain to make personal promises - using Starfleet's ships and personnel - to an alien people? This feels like Captain Garth territory, albeit with altruistic instead of tyrannical shades. But the mechanism is the same: great man thinks his power is so almighty he can decide for the Federation how things should be. Well that's not Picard, and I don't know why they wrote him that way here.

I'm mention one other side quibble, which is that I'm also sick of shows making basically direct references to current U.S. issues (like DISC in making the Klingons Trumpers). Here we have a scene on the planet where Picard basically says in no uncertain terms that this was all about prejudice and fear of refugees, and that the Federation has let everyone down. Is it me, or is this a blatant slam against the U.S. under Trump and its policies about immigration? Granted, hate those policies all you like, but why is it figuring in Trek? And if they decided this *was* relevant in 2385, why was it? What happened to turn Starfleet command into alien-haters? We got a good story of this sort in ST: VI, with the fall of the Iron Curtain sort of happening in that film, with decades of war and fear leading up to a part of Starfleet fearing the Klingons and wanting them to die. But here it's not a part of Starfleet, *it is Starfleet*. In fact, apparently everyone except Picard. How did this happen, and why does it go without explanation? This is especially needful since we barely even know what timeline we're in. While it's not the make-it-or-break-it issue in the plot, it was actually the single moment where I groaned and disliked the writer for including it. Just don't; please leave our stupid politics out of this and give us something about the future.

One quick question: did anyone else notice that the plot felt a whole lot like levels in an RPG? And that they're building up a party, or a Fellowship of the Ring, or something? And did the space battle feel to anyone else like Wing Commander Privateer? And did anyone else feel that the ship combat made little visual sense and looked like it was directed by a child? The whole episode felt vaguely immature and also over-edited, with too much music in places and wrong pace and editing.

I guess in conclusion this was by far my least favorite episode.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Chrome,

I suppose you're right about them not knowing about it. Presumably his reporting on the fact that it *might* happen, from All Good Things, wouldn't be common knowledge.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

I have to be honest, the episodes are starting to feel a bit on the short side. Is the time limit based on CBS and their network needs? Maybe I have been getting too used to web series and their unlimited time limits. An extra 5-10 min would go a long way. Part of the reason for this is they are making this an acting-scene show, much like TNG was, where a huge chunk of the episode is quiet acting scenes between characters where we're getting to know them. This is a feature I think Trek needs, and that DISC lacked, however TNG's downfall in this regard is it was usually too difficult to balance this with the episodic story, and often one or the other got shortchanged. Many of the [tech] problems they solve in TNG were rather perfunctory. I'm thinking at the moment of the ship spores in A Matter of Honor, or the ship parasites in Hollow Pursuits. These problems felt more like throw-ins rather than important story elements. Granted, in TNG the problem of the week was often designed as a meta-narrative about the human issue of the week, so it often just worked as reinforcing what we got in the acting scenes. But since Picard's plotline is extended and complicated, the plot can't really just be a reference to the acting scenes, and vice versa, so each needs enough time. In this case I don't think the story gets enough time, which is probably why it feels to many like these are just setup episodes. I guess that's cause they are.

In terms of how the story itself was told I'm a bit cold to the mystery box treatment being ramped up again, with cryptic conversations and allusions to some grand plot being teased to us. Yes, I do like a mystery, but on the other hand every scene cannot be just more and more setup for the mystery; entire episodes even.

On the other hand some mysteries are ok as long as they're going to be flavor rather than a tease. For instance as Jammer pointed out, not having the shrapnel in the shoulder explained is more like lore about the Rios character than a mystery that needs its own explanation. That's ok with me. I also like how we're not given any immediate explanation of why the Borg ship is being given up to them so easily, or why the Romulans in particular want it. I guess that point probably will end up as part of the general plotline eventually.

Speaking of the Borg, I found it interesting that the last assimilation was 15 years ago or so. That places it - what, 10 years after TNG went off the air? And let's do some math: DS9 started during TNG S6, and VOY started during DS9's S3. So VOY was off the air 7 years after TNG was. Let's assume each year of each show is roughly a year in Federation time, and let's also assume that VOY's finale takes place 7 years after its S1, so that Endgame happened roughly 7 years after All Good Things. That gives the Federation a good 3 years to study and adapt the Borg technology Voyager brought back after having wiped out a major Borg network with advanced torpedos., which sounds about right. No wonder the Borg's assimilations stopped there: they were up against Admiral Janeway's arsenal, which destroyed their ships with a single shot. I assume they would basically be cowering in a corner after that, unless they could assimilate even that new technology and adapt to it. It also would explain why they are letting Romulans scavenge their technology; I guess they can't do anything about it. I don't really buy the explanation given that they just don't care. That would give any old race all of their tech, which is ridiculous.

I wonder if the Romulan condition we're seeing in the ex-drones has something to do with telepathy: we know that Vulcans are telepathic, and the extent of that is unclear. Maybe something about a telepathic species having been part of a subspace mental network exposed them to something 'out there'.

On the topic of the Raffi controversy, I don't really see what the problem is here. Raffi just hates Picard's easy living compared t her suffering; the locale of chateau vs hovel is just a metaphor for their inner life, and their chosen surroundings match their mental disposition. Raffi in commenting on Picard's castle is basically commenting on how it's convenient that he was able to get over what happened, since she can't. And I assume all of this trauma for her is not about Picard being kicked out of Starfleet, but rather about the fact of the refugee crisis being beyond them to solve. Millions no doubt died, and Raffi has it all on her conscience. Maybe she blames Picard for screwing up that whole deal, or giving up on it and just going home. It was, after all, her who tried to get him to come up with alternate solutions, and him who in resignation said it wasn't possible. I think at bottom this is about the fact that Picard, without feeling like he was representing the Federation, was lost and without a cause. Take away his support from them and the winds went out of his sails and he felt like nothing was possible any more. He was always a proponent of the system, as opposed to a Sisko who tended to consider matters more on a right and fairness level rather than a 'fix it within the system' way. Lawful good versus neutral good, I suppose. Raffi seems like a neutral good or even chaotic good type person who hates Picard's adherence to order in this case at the expense of what's right. I guess this little schema of mine ignores ST: Insurrection, but then again doesn't everyone?

My last comment is that it was great to see Hugh, and I thought it was damn lucky that this actor is looking great on screen. His demeanor is exactly what I would hope for in an ex-drone: individuality, but a sort of stoicism, perhaps a bit like we saw from Icheb. For all they knew the actor would be crap but luckily he's looking good on camera many years after Descent. I really hope that (a) he remains as a recurring character, and (b) that we get a cameo by LeVar Burton at some point and have a Geordi/Hugh reunion. I actually care to see them meet more so than even Geordi/Picard.

That's all I got for now, on to the next one.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 11:40am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Chrome,

Re: Picard's outburst in the interview, if we're to take seriously that he might have a condition affecting his mood and self-control (like Irumodic syndrome) then it becomes even more outrageous for a reporter first to try to rile him up (and it did seem deliberately provocative on her part) and then for a high ranking admiral to act just as inflammatory about it. If she thinks he's going crazy then she should treat him like someone suffering from a condition; and if she thinks he is not crazy then maybe she owes him the respect of stating his conscience. Either way she ends up falling into that category of admirals who hate him for having principles...or something. That is not the message we should be getting, I think! I mean, ok, we sort of know that Picard's sense of morality goes above and beyond, but mostly that should be in the sheer level of his discipline; I would still think that most Starfleet officers would generally share his Federation ethos at least to the point of being on the same page regarding standing by your concience. Sure she's allowed to be annoyed and to disagree with him, but I'm pretty sure the writers were going more for "you're done here, you're nothing now, get out." And I don't really buy that. They made the show around the wrong character if they wanted to go that route. I could buy it of Riker maybe, if the show had been about how instead of becoming a Captain and Admiral he resigned in protest and parted on bad terms before he could ever become a legend in his own right. But Picard - no, he had already got there, and there's no coming back from being the most famous Captain in Starfleet.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 12:34am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

Amazingly I liked this one more than the premiere. I think it's because it felt more like we were in the Trek universe, notwithstanding the magic tech exposition forensics scene where they might as well have been waving a wand around and wearing Hogwarts scarves.

One thing I like about this episode is that we're seeing Starfleet Command again, although I agree with Jammer that the hard-headed Admiral cliche is wearing a bit thin. Would they seriously speak to Picard this way, even if pissed off at him? I mean he did literally save the entire Federation several times. You'd figure he could be as annoying as he wanted and still get grudging respect. I know they were playing on the whole "What's your name, sir?" thing to show that he had made himself irrelevant, but I believe that about as much as I believe that Kirk was forgotten 20 years after he vanished into the Nexus. It's the dude who led the Borg into Earth's orbit to assimilate it; that sort of event would have to be so outrageously infamous that for better or worse his face would be as burned into the minds of Earthers as Hitler's is and will continue to be. So I don't really buy the whole "you don't matter any more" speech, especially when his big sin was trying to save refugees. Yeah, what an asshole. The Starfleet I know might reprimand him for going against their policy but they would do so with respect since they'd understand his humanitarian concerns. This felt more like "you betrayed us!" which is really not fitting what the backstory we're being told.

I found the part funny where Picard goes out of his way to say he didn't want to ask his old crew to help him. I was remembering back to All Good Things when being a bother was really the last thing on his mind. Granted on that occasion he was trying to save all life...in the universe, I guess. But still, no thought of Captain Beverly Picard and her neato medical ship? I noticed her name perhaps conspicuously missing from the list of crew mates who would have helped him.

My favorite thing about this show is probably the casting, as so far I have yet to really see a weak link, and that is really rare on TV. So kudos to them on that. Also they did nicely keeping the suspense up considering this was a setup episode. The other nice thing that especially accentuates this one over the premiere is that it's beginning to feel like a sci-fi show, in that they are showing us a society without *showing off* their fancy CGI. The more nonchalant the tech and effects are the more it feels like a real place, and this episode is getting closer at hitting that. Much closer than I would have expected, actually. I would say the directing work is overall quite nice, much better than the sloppy and often thoughtless jobs we were getting on DISC.

I ended up wanting to watch more when this one ended, a very positive sign.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I finally got around to watching this. I sort of lost patience and wanted to be able to read the threads here. I'll mention offhand that this was the only reason I made it all the way through S1 of DISC. Anyhow, having seen this one it has the hallmarks of the Kurtzman clan but it's not as bad as I feared. I'd say overall it was decent, nothing great but not bad. Stewart seems to not quite capture my attention as PIcard so far, and I guess I have to agree with the comments about Spiner really looking different now than how he did before. I am sort of content that they didn't CGI this since that would be worse, so overall I don't see how they could have dealt with it differently. My one comment about Data is that I feel like Spiner has actually lost to an extent how to perform him, because it felt forced, almost like an impersonation.

Regarding the plot the difficulty with these mystery-box shows is that (a) the mystery needs to be really good, and (b) it all they're doing is hooking you in for the next episode then as some have mentioned that feels vaguely hollow. I do like resolutions, even though there's a "to be continued" implied. DS9's S7 final arc accomplished this nearly perfectly, in keeping the threads going but making each episode feel separate. B5 likewise accomplished this when it chose to.

In this episode it took the Picard interview about synthetics, following the first fight scene, for me to assume that Dahj was a "replicant", which is what I assume they are going for in this show (i.e. a Blade Runner story line). Beyond this easily solved plot element, and the screen time it took for Picard to explain it to us, I can be added to the group that isn't really fascinated by flashy fight scenes in Trek. I don't agree with some that fight scenes aren't right in Trek: as a TOS person that is clearly not the case. DS9 also featured many nice combat scenes. But what has mostly characterized Trek combat so far is a sort of steampunk or perhaps Wild West tone, which is that ranged weapons exist and yet hand-to-hand combat is most often what happens. And the hand combat tends to be choreographed either in the style of a Western (TOS) or else in a sort of elevated style such as the Klingon "Viking style" combat or Worf's martial arts style of combat. Basically the fighting tended to either be dramatic (pinned down, what do we do) or else stylized in a sort of genre manner. But what we get here is more like a typical film-style fighting choreo with CGI and crazy powers. It's generic, is basically what I'm saying, and doesn't feel like 'Trek fighting'.

I have to say that the rather rushed backstory about the Romulan supernova caught me off guard. Not because I can't handle new information, but because I was actually confused about whether I was supposed to know this already. My memory of ST: Nemesis is dim as I can't bear to sit through it again after seeing it in the cinema, so just now I had to go read a synopsis to make sure I wasn't remembering its plot incorrectly. So no, there was no supernova in that, just a coup and the death of the senate. Then I remembered that something had been amok with Romulus in ST 2009, so I had to go read a synopsis of that, and found the backstory about the supernova. Ok, at least I knew which canon they were using. The Romulans seem to have a lot of problems lately. Anyhow, then I wondered whether this was the Kelvin timeline, which I expect it couldn't be since TNG couldn't have occurred in it as we know it. So it must be the Prime timeline except one in which that supernova also happens. I guess at this point we don't know if Prime Spock was involved. But at least I know which film they're alluding to here.

One interesting point, since presumably the Romulans are no longer an implacable foe of the Federation, they still managed to get bad guy music playing when we see them on the Borg ship. Ah well, I suppose they earned that reputation. So predictably treacherous. I will also note something else I'm wondering about: In ST 2009 Nero is upset because I guess his planet got blown up and family died. But since the Empire was presumably massive I can't imagine the Romulans were disrupted all that much overall, despite Nero's personal gripes. But in Picard it feels like the Romulans have been turned into the rabble Earth became in Battlestar Galactica. Shouldn't the loss of their homeworld have hurt a little but otherwise barely dented them? We could imagine the Federation losing Earth and barely losing stride in terms of rebuilding and establishing a new command structure. Maybe we'll learn more in the next episode.

I'll just throw in a prediction while I have the chance: I expect that the synthetics destroying the shipyards will somehow end up being shown to be a noble act in some capacity, perhaps due to Bad People (TM) in Starfleet about to do something terrible to the weakened Romulans. I am getting a sense of "refugee issues" here and I expect there will be some "some see them as the enemy but really they just need our help" sent our way. I guess I'll find out!
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 12, 2020, 5:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@ Jason R.

I actually agree with everything you wrote, which makes me thing I should have been a bit more specific. I don't mean to suggest that Geordi is in fact a creep, or that as I watch this episode I'm aghast and offended. Actually the way it's directed is much the same way as many TNG episodes are: sort of sweet for the most part, well-intentioned, and only vaguely willing to have characters really upset at each other. If one went only on the tone and 'feel' of the episode I would say that Geordi's interactions with Leah are if anything overtrumped; that he's making a much bigger deal about what's going on than we really see.

So my commentary isn't so much on what I would call the scenic direction of the episode (how it's played out and how it appears to the camera), but more about the point of view inherent in the direction and/or writing. It's the implicit premise that I think is pernicious and creepy (from a modern mindset). So while I sort of agree that a "player" might actually take a pass on someone offering resistance, that wasn't exactly my point. What I was trying to say was that the episode's point of view (innocent though it may feel based on tone) is that Geordi inherently has a right to a relationship of some kind with her, and his big problem was to figure out how to get it. The mistake we're shown is that his methods were clunky and forced, and he refines his methods by the end. Jason, as you say, it's not the methods that are the issue. It's that we are given the idea (which is backed up at various points in the episode) that Geordi knows he and she ought to have something and it's only a question of how. I agree with you that 'giving it a shot' is not creepy. The world must be peopled, as the expression goes. But rather it's the idea that he *will* have a relationship with her, and that her feedback about this is not really relevant. In fact her feedback is rebuked by him when it's not what he wants.

The show plays as cute, with innocent confusions, and a warm reconciliation. And PS - she does warm to him at the end, marriage or no marriage. All Good Things didn't pick up on that out of nowhere. It's the built-in premise, never actually seen or mentioned on screen, that bothers me. The only real evidence of it in direct action is Geordi's blocking her way when she tries to leave: this makes it pretty clear that on some level he will absolutely not accept a resolution where she doesn't give him what he wants. And it's not because Geordi is a jerk, but rather because the writers truly believed that he has a right to something from her. Don't you find that troubling? It plays as lighthearted, but beneath the surface lurks a disturbing world view.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 12, 2020, 11:37am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I agree with Chrome that the way the situation is set up they are preventing Geordi looking entirely reasonable. But I will go further and suggest that it is completely intentional: not so much that Geordi look bad, but that there be pushback against him.

The entire premise of this episode is that Geordi is an practical engineer while Leah is a designer; he has to improvise while she goes on blueprints. What they were generally going for here is that he was treating dating Leah as if trying to carry out a blueprint of how to successfully date someone, and was inflexibly sticking to his guns even when it wasn't working. What I think the writers were going for is that his real strength is working on the fly, unplanned, and this comes out in the crisis with the alien when he's improvising. But he failed to realize that his engineering strength should also be his dating strength: don't just go by some abstract plan and treat her like a design schematic.

But here's where things get hairy: in our day and age we are not content to only see things from the POV the show intends us to. We're not going to just say "aha! Geordi should have been less planning-oriented from the start, and just let it play out." That's nice, except it completely ignores Leah's side of it, and in 2020 we cannot ignore Leah's side of it even if the writers intend for us to. So we are inevitably adding more content than they perhaps thought we would to what's going on.

But upon reflection I think this scenario gets even worse: what is set up as a problem-solving situation for Geordi - how do you get a woman to like you - ends up being far more pernicious. Because of course, in a sort of gaming-mentality of "there is an obstacle, how do you get around it" of course the theme makes sense that you get around it by not trying so hard and being more natural. That makes sense on those terms. Except hold on: the entire premise is one that has come to be accepted as almost quintessentially sexist and objectifying. What I mean is that the scenario can be described like this: guy knows that he likes girl, doesn't know how to get across to her that she should like him too if only he was given a chance. Instead of being friendly girl gives guy big pushback (uh-oh, plot twist!) and guy finds his planned scheme hitting a wall. Solution: go easier on her and she's come around. Result: guy gets girl to like him in the end, just had to stop pushing so hard. Conclusion: the girl problem was always solvable, the engineer guy just had to figure out the right method.

You can image what I think about this social statement. It basically fits into a male fantasy of "well of course she ought to like me, but if only she would give me a chance or see me for what I really am." It's a super-entitled and rather demeaning scenario that we should imagine a guy's chief goal is how to get around the obstacle of the girl telling him to back off. There's a term for this: being a player. Generally it involves having no respect for women. Now we know that is not true in Geordi's case, and that's why I agree with Chrome that the writers messed this one up badly. They set up a cute engineering episode where Geordi had to learn the lesson of which method is his best, and that's cool. It could *never* come off an innocenet, however, when the engineering problem to be solved is how to get the lady to bed. And yeah, him already coming in with a crush on her and designs on romance makes the whole thing go from "he's a player trying to get past her resistance" right to "he has been thinking about imaginary her for a while and now is going to demand that she behave like the holodeck version, or he'll get upset." They went soooo far off the rails putting the episode together in this way. Poor LeVar.

It would have been much cleaner to take this same theme and apply it to Geordi trying to make a friend or something. Making it a romantic partner, and having it be the typical TNG "Let's solve this" plot, ends up objectifying the other person no matter which way you look at it. She's the tech problem of the week.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 10, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

@ Jason R.

"I find myself vastly preferring the hybrid model we saw with earlier series - yes have an overarching mystery for the season, with maybe even a big mystery for the whole series - but keep it all in the foreground while just letting the characters breathe in more mundane episodes."

I think I'm beginning to understand this business model a bit better now. The mystery box style, or long-form movie told in episodes, has a built-in mechanism for keeping people hooked, which is that every episode ends up being a teaser for the next. There is a the magical "content" you are told to expect, and each episode gives you a sip out of the cup but promises the ambrosia to come later. It's like giving an addict a hit, where the addiction is to know what the actual story is. A self-contained episode, even one that furthers a long-form arc, leaves you satisfied at the end, feeling a sense of conclusion and wrapping up. But this model does the opposite: it wants you to feel like wanting more at the end; to have that urge to yell out "Wait! You can't end it there! What happens next??" And that is the hook into the next episode. The episodes almost end up being advertisements in a sense, and this method reminds me a lot of Star Wars Episode 7, where literally the entire story and all characters featured a "Where did they come from? Who are they? And what's it all about?" mystery box element, where the writer/director literally said it would be answered in future films. An entire major motion picture was just an advertisement for its own sequels! I guess that's brilliant in a sort of morbid way.

It should come as no suprise we're getting more of this, considering that Abrams' crew have taken over the Trek universe, both films and TV series.
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Peter G.
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Tribunal

@ NCC-1701-Z,

Despite how much I like this episode I tend to agree with you on the literal logic of the situation. I actually feel this way even more strongly about Hard Time (later in the series), even though in Tribunal the situation is significantly more uproarious in the grand scheme. Ah well, the price we pay for a special O'Brien episode. Let's not even get into the literal logic of Whispers...but all worth it for Torture O'Brien #27.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 10:49am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Cenotaph,

I agree that the 'propaganda' I was referring to does not originate from or have anything to do with people like Shapiro or Peterson, as Trent suggested. All I meant was that the 'freedom' thing has different sort of groups making similar-sounding claims but for very different (and even antagonistic) reasons. Hence why I think Trent's characterization of "classic liberal" and especially connecting those individuals with rampant corporatism was incorrect. But there *is* an oligarchic presence out there putting out propaganda, who I completely understand Trent wanting to call supervillains. It just has nothing to do with 'classical liberalism.'
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 10:42am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: The Enemy Within

@ Rahul,

I'll try to give it a watch tonight if I can to see what comes across to me most on screen.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 9:25am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Cenotaph,

I don't want to get too far off track from Trek so I'll answer only briefly: libertarian think tanks come in various shapes and sizes, and although many Americans believe in personal freedoms and individualism above all, for some (powerful lobbyists and tycoons) what this translates into is wanting deregulation and for the government to leave them alone to abuse their fellow man and pillage the environment freely in order to pursue greed to its utmost. This is a problem for the 'human rights' type libertarian because they would be just as against corporatism as would be a modern liberal, even though their politics are far apart from each other. The 'propaganda' in question is that government should stop doing almost everything (other than spend trillions on wars, which of course are a cash cow) that throttles their greed, while claiming it's about protecting the everyman's rights. They don't actually believe in those, even though many libertarians do. But they in particular means is they should have the right to dominate others 'freely'.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Trent,

I like a lot of your points here, and agree about the gross misunderstand now about what "freedom" means, and *even* agree that this is propagated by richly funded "groups" that spread their propaganda. However I quibble on the one point of that early list you named of so-called supervillains; you can dislike them for any reason you like, but the fact alone of calling themselves classical liberals is the same usage and sense as people like Stephen Fry when he calls himself that, and he's a bleeding heart leftist. The term is a bit broad but generally is meant to refer to (in their sense) the protection of rights, openness to change, and above all the protection of free speech. This last point is where all of them get into controversy, because at present free speech is usually said to be in tension with 'security' or ideological purity. So in the sense that the people you list may have different ideas about life compared to a Stephen Fry they are obviously each different from each other, but in the sense they call themselves liberals it's because they believe in free speech and the marketplace of ideas.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 3, 2020, 10:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: The Enemy Within

@ Rahul,

I'm gonna disagree with you about Spock and McCoy on this one. Unlike TNG and other shows where it often came down to the facile "science guy vs humanitarian argument" (or Worf's security vs diplomacy disagreements) McCoy usually takes the 'humanity' route via being the champion of human values and compassion. Spock, on the other hand, is a cold rationalist who does not especially value human nature as such (not yet, anyhow) and in fact views it as an impediment. So in this instance, when Kirk is facing a conflict that Spock knows all too well - having a dark human side in conflict with the rational self - this is his wheelhouse and he knows that the darkness of humanity is a problem. Bones on the other hand wouldn't be so ready to agree that humanity is inherently in conflict with itself; he is too much of an optimist for that. He would rather suggest that people may have things to be cured of, like depression or pain, but I doubt he would cynically state that beating the dark side is a lost cause. Spock, on the other hand, would be completely in character to speak harshly of that dark half, knowing it cannot ever really be defeated; otherwise he would presumably have defeated his own human dark half, given his advantages in intellect and reason over humans.

For McCoy to take the "it's a transport problem" seems to me a way of avoiding having to confront the fact that his precious humanity is a flawed and irreparable organism, whereas Spock's zeroing in on humanity itself as the problem - which Kirk needs to overcome with reason - is not only in character but more or less his life's struggle. If I were to complain about something here it would be that this point was barely addressed in the episode since the writers wanted it to be about Kirk; but they did have a missed opportunity to give Spock and important moment and explore it a bit.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 3, 2020, 10:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night

Love your review, JIm
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 3, 2020, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Generations

A pretty reasonable review, Chrome. I think I disagree about some of the content of Generations being good (it is *significant*, but in my view also bad content) but at the very least they were aiming high without trying to make it into an action flick. And hey, Malcolm McDowell, can't go wrong with him, may as well get that whole family in the Trek universe.

I don't tend to make tier lists, but if I were going to I would have a tough time with The Motion Picture. If your criterion is "good film" then I think I would put TMP in tier 1. But the problem is that it's not a good *Trek* film, so that makes it a weird beast. If it had been made as some other property, a random sci-fi flicj, I would say that it's exceptional and interesting sci-fi. It's just not really Star Trek as we know it. Feels more like Arthur C. Clarke to me, and frankly that's almost without a doubt what they were trying to clone. Whoops.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Booby Trap

"And in his failed date at the beginning of the episode he has the violinist play Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms!"

Yeah it's a shame that Berman didn't let Ron Jones or that Brahms guy compose for TNG after S3.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 10:54am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The High Ground

@ Gaius Maximum,

Some very interesting points about terrorism vs guerilla war, and how it might apply here and to DS9. In the case of DS9 I think the reason "terrorism" might apply is specifically because the Bajorans were seeking to drive the Cardassians out through attrition finally making it more trouble than it was worth. In fact this is what happened, as the Occupation ended due to political, and not military, considerations. Contrast with guerilla war, where I think the intent is actually to defeat the enemy outright, through means of non-direct confrontation. Presumably at a certain point guerilla fighters would have to make a final consolidated attack to secure their victory and drive out the occupying force. The Bajorans, by contrast, were never ever going to drive the Cardassians off by defeating them outright.

This point may go in parallel with your good point about it being about civilian versus military targets. However that said I do think targetting even military targets is terrorism is the primary intent of those actions is fear or intimidation. Basically the clearest way to define terrorism is that the goal is to create terror. A guerilla war may or may not create terror, but that is not its primary purpose; the reason to wage guerrilla war is purely tactical and due to having a weaker or different type of fighting force (like commandos). If your aim is the force the government to change its policies due to scaring either them or the population, and for your victory to come through that, then that would be terrorism (for better or worse). You could even scare them in non-violent ways, or by threatening violence without actually following through with it, whereas guerilla war obviously needs to be an actual hot zone with combat or at least maneuvers.
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Peter G.
Wed, Jan 29, 2020, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

@ Chrome,

Oh I agree and could list more faults than that with TFF. But my point was that despite its shortcomings it was often fun and entertaining, if under-plotted. Nemesis is rarely fun. The two may be on par with the "huh??" factor, but at least TFF is not boring (except at the start on that Nimrod planet or whatever).

Re: Sybok's 'leadship skills', I think we were actually meant to not know how he does it. I personally thought (and still think) it's fairly clear he's abusing telepathy to massage people's minds to make him more persuasive, and that it's not just his public speaking skills. The way they behave reads as more than just driven by faith or belief. That said I do think the writing is supposed to show that following Sybok is analogous to following some nice-sounding version of God, in that the teachings sort of take over your brain and you don't act rationally anymore. Especially since Sybok is a fraud and in this film so is God. But at least there's a message there - use science and reason, and don't go based on just gut. Going on gut gets you into wars with Klingons; thinking clearly lets you jettison fake gods and unnecessary aggression. So I think his mind control thing is all part of this general theme, but it's just not written very well.
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Peter G.
Wed, Jan 29, 2020, 10:58am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

Heh, I'll throw my hat in the ring on the side of The Final Frontier here. Like the SW prequels, people have come to bash ST: V much more than anyone did when it first came out. Generally from people I know and from what I heard the reception to TFF was that it was a bit odd but still fun in places and generally enjoyable. Not a great film, and weak compared to ST: IV, but still enjoyable. It had that grand epic feel to it, underscored by the simple friendships shown in the park. And we may scoff now, but the theatre-goers when I saw it loved Spock's rocket boots gag. And so did I. That it's all about how God may be god, or rather some angry alien, is a rather broad concept that didn't get much exploration, but we did have the setup for the Federation/Klingon alliance here, as well as a lead-up towards the "we pretty much need to retire" feeling, which is a step away from ST: IV where they were very much in the center of action still. It's not a bad movie IMO and at the present time is underrated.

Nemesis, on the other hand - I was cringing in the theatre when I first saw it. The freshness of it did nothing to forestall groans at certain parts. A year or two after that I thought maybe I was a bit harsh and I got a DVD copy to give it another chance. I could not sit through the whole thing, it was so boring. It didn't even look good, visually, and the dialogue was useless. I can't say much to recommend it at all, frankly, and I think it is not only the worst Trek film in comparison to the others, but it's just a plain bad film by any standard. I have still never watched it again to this day, and can't imagine why I would want to.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Darkness and the Light

@ Jamie Mann,

Personally I actually like the first half of the episode quite a bit, but I think you're right that it all ends up (sadly) being window dressing to get Kira into some throwback conversation about the occuptation. This not only suffers from been there done that syndrome, but worse - it seems to say nothing about it other than people got screwed over. Yeah, no kidding. I don't even mind the contrivance of getting Kira in that room, so long as the writer had something fascinating to say that had to be told in that way. But it's nothing we haven't heard before, and frankly Prin is just so full of it that there's nothing for us to care about there. Even Kira isn't making much sense. That 'darkness in the light' line sounds vaguely poetical but really what is it supposed to mean in context? That Kira's light shines better because she did dark things? Or that freedom fighters have their oppressors to thank for shining? Or what? I don't think it means anything, and I don't know what Moore was smoking when he wrote those lines, but I guess it's not the good stuff.
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