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Peter G.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Waltz

@ Aaron,

"What would be much more interesting was if Dukat really WASN'T a villain of the occupation. That would be a fascinating twist and a breath of fresh air for his character."

Putting aside your objections about the way this story was told, what you suggest simply couldn't happen. The reason isn't because it would be better or worse TV, but simply because it would be a lie. You can't be a Nazi mass murderer and then be truthfully portrayed as not being a villain of the occupation. Did you murder and enslave people? Yes? Then you did very bad things. Redemption is possible, but the issue in this episode isn't redemption, but about finally coming fully to terms with what he did and admitting it with no lies, facade, self-delusion, or attempt to game the situation. His ego is removed from the equation and he brazenly admits his wrongdoing, and that deep down he doesn't really regret it. It's Dukat at his most honest, and despite him toying with us for years about pretending to repent, he never really did: it was all a political game to him, one which he no doubt believed at times. For him to finally be cast as not being a villain would simply be a lie, to us the audience. What would have been possible, of course, is admitting what he'd done and wishing he hadn't done it. But instead he turns the other way and embraces what he'd done. It may seem 'super-villain' stuff to say "I should have killed them all", but truthfully that's at the heart of some kinds of people; rather than dig out of the hole they're in they'll reach right for the bottom. It's not in the slightest bit cartoonish because there are people literally like this in life, all around us. Should it really be a surprise that Dukat is one of them? Not only isn't it 2-dimensional, but it's the most true-to-life version of him we'd seen until this point.

What may be a letdown to some views is that there was no hope for him at this point to redeem himself, or at least to give us the uncertainly of where his heart truly was. I understand that concern, as it's fun in a TV-way to have a character who's entertaining and you don't know which way he'll jump. But in the end it seems they wanted him to reveal who he really was, and it's this. It's what he always way; the rest was masks, and for those who believed his self-delusions that's just a sign of how tempting it can be to buy into someone's self-image if they're charismatic enough. Interestingly enough, we get a similar transformation for Odo over the series where he starts with defenses and masks, and when they're pulled off we actually see that he, too, is something of a Nazi. But in Odo's case he's learned enough that he rebels against this tendency in himself and wants to be something else. But he could have theoretically gone the way of the rest of his people to as well, and between these two characters we see a not dissimilar starting point (having done bad things in the Occupation, being overly concerned about their public image) and very contrasting ending points. This is great storytelling to me, and also a great view of where choices in life can lead you.
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Peter G.
Fri, Dec 14, 2018, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Thanks! I've probably watched that episode all of once ever :p
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Peter G.
Fri, Dec 14, 2018, 11:47am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

@ Yanks,

"You need to reread the Charter, Article 14, Section 31. There are a few lines that make allowances for bending the rules during times of extraordinary threat. "

Did I miss something? When was this mentioned?If it was said somewhere and I failed to note it, thanks for pointing this out! Very interesting if canon.
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Peter G.
Fri, Dec 14, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

@ Lara,

Although when seen as a "boy meets girl" episode it could seem routine and tired, I think the way they get there is meant to be very progressive and novel. In a society where men are regarded as inferior, Beata's interest in Riker comes from her surprise and admiration that a man can actually be competent. As far as taking old tropes to new places, I'd say that ranks high in terms of completely reversing the well-worn scenario of a woman surprising everyone by actually being smart and capable. From that standpoint I'd give the plot a pass, even though it doesn't date very well. That being said it's just not an interesting episode...
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Fascination

@ Springy,

Funny enough, I'm not sure I agree that the "realistic" portrayal of the O'Briens is a saving grace; for me it actually drags down the episode, and in particular makes Keiko look bad. Sure, relationships can actually be like this, but I don't really see the value in digging into how things can fail to live up to expectation when there's basically no redemptive element in how it's shown. "Things can suck"...ok, yeah...but what about the value of working through them? That element has to be there, or else it just ends up looking like a screed against marriage.

Contrast that with all the 'fascination' scenarios we see, where the mystique of realizing for the first time how wonderful someone is has people falling over themselves. In a way it's not surprising that it's only shown as being romantic/sexual, but the basic idea of seeing someone you already know and going "wow, how did I not see that before" is actually a beautiful one. And that's the sort of thing that should be happening in a marriage as well: you see your spouse, who you know, and yet allow yourself to re-experience the surprise of how amazing they are, as if for the first time. That would be the ideal, in any case, and maybe showing how that could be difficult - but still possible - would have been a better way to frame the O'Briens here. But just showing that all the mystery and romance is gone, that I do not need, and especially since in some other episodes they actually do show that the fire isn't burned out for the two of them.

Despite it being written and shot in an often silly and broad manner, I do like the portrayal of people fully acting out those little moments we can have of a spark welling up inside us when we see someone with great qualities. We don't act on them, of course, but an outer exploration of just how significant and powerful those sparks are strikes me as being well within bounds of good storytelling. My main problem here is that they don't really use it here to tell us something meaningful about the characters. Like, how does it help us to know that Bareil may secretly crush a little on Dax? It's totally useless and in fact we basically have to scrub it from our minds to retain our sanity. But on the other hand the Dax->Sisko attraction actually could have led to something fruitful if they had dared to go there, but maybe it's better they didn't. But at least there was the *potential* of something interesting there.

My point is just that I actually like the idea of expanding on secret and even small 'likes' towards others, whereas portraying Keiko as a harpy not only doesn't help us to appreciate others, but actually poisons us towards appreciating their marriage. So I guess for me that's my least favorite part of the episode, despite being the most sensible.
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 9:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

@ Jason R.

"Each Admiral always seems like an emperor in each episode. How many admirals are there anyway? Were they all going along with this coup?"

Maybe an issue that should have been touched upon is trust, and how much of it flows on Earth. In our current world there isn't very much trust: we assume politicians are corrupt and are out to screw us, and we assume our fellow man would throw us under the bus for money. But imagining for the moment if in 24th century Earth this was unthinkable, I could see how offensive it would be to Grampa Sisko to have his loyalty questioned, and how scary it would be to have guards on the street as if Earthers themselves couldn't be trusted. Along those same lines, maybe Leyton was so trusted by other admirals that if he said martial law was necessary then they would assume he had a good reason and would go along with it. Maybe the extreme trust on Earth is what he was cashing in on to make his move, so that they would only learn too late that the security measures were based on a hoax. Presumably by then Leyton would have cemented his people into key places to cover that up or something, and he could keep milking "security against Changelings" for a long time. I don't know how he could sustain that long-term, but assuming his really felt motivated by securing the Federation, maybe he would have voluntarily relinquished power if he truly felt that the threat was over. This part wasn't ever addressed, since I'm not at all sure he was trying to become emperor or something. I suspect that the episode's idea is that he believed extreme measures were needed for the sake of security and that a little lying and sabotage to get it done was warranted. In theory I think he believed he was being a patriot.
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Peter G.
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 9:25am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

@ Booming,

"Well, you at least need the mail addy?"

You mean you think the troll has been giving his real mail address? Well, even so, only Jammer would see that. We only see the chosen handle.
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Peter G.
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 8:42am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

@ Booming,

You do realize that this isn't a site where we have registered accounts, right? It's not possible for someone's account to be hacked if they don't have one. Anyone can post "as" someone else. I wonder how one could block a user on a site like this.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Crossover

@ William B & Elliott,

"You know, I'm going to take a guess that Peter wasn't actually saying that he thought that the DS9 cast was weaker than Voyager's cast."

Correct! But there are mitigating circumstances to consider as well. Meaney, who I think is a stronger actor than anyone on VOY (and his career shows it), was transplanted from TNG, so it may not be fair to give full points to that. Mind you they did have the vision to increase his role in the franchise, but let's set him aside. Dorn wasn't THE best but was generally strong, and I won't count him for the same reason. Some of the DS9 cast came in with sort of a wishy-washy character bible, especially Dax and Bashir. I mean, look at what Farell is trying to do in the pilot! It's actually fascinating and I wish they could have turned that into something, but ultimately they didn't really, other than to turn her into Curzon. But coming out of the gate her character sort of had no definition. And then Bashir, who I'll remind the jury was originally named Dr. Amoros (the love-doctor), so we can see what Berman had planned for him (and yes, this was Berman's doing):

From Memory Alpha:

"As Alexander Siddig pointed out in 2002, "He was a completely blank canvas, no one knew anything about him." He believes that the only reason the character was created was because the producers knew there had to be a doctor on the show, but beyond the fact that he was a doctor, "they were all scratching their heads." (Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features)"

Damn, this is a tough spot to bounce back from as an actor. Siddig mentions having added some traits to him (like cockiness) but ultimately there has to be agreement on this sort of thing, and although the writers did go with the actors' instincts they were probably not the best long-term idea. But the fact that Siddig and Farell came up with anything specific at all is pretty good. Not stellar, but pretty good. I think in VOY Wang was in a similar position but didn't manage to do anything with it. I think Visitor and Auberjonois were stellar right out of the gate and remained so, and that's probably in part because (a) they had significant backstories that led to real behavior, and (b) because especially in Odo's case they had a real veteran to work with who was endlessly inventive. Which leaves Brooks: to be honest I thought his work was excellent for the pilot but after that they left him hanging; much like Picard, actually, except that Steward can make lemonade out of dirt and so didn't (always) come out looking bad as a result. But otherwise it seemed he was just "the commander" until his material got more specific. That's a writing problem, and in S1-2 DS9 was in the wrong hands, I think, in terms of show-runner and writing staff. When Berman and then Pillar left it alone it improved drastically.

In short, DS9 seemed to have issues with character definition early on in the cases of some principals (notably Bashir, Dax and Sisko). But the actors were overall really strong and tried their best, finally to some good effect when the writing began to line up with how much the actors were willing to work. And we could also begin to see the challenges mount, with the advent of the "torture O'Brien" tradition, Kira being given increasingly complex scenes to play, and Odo's arc always going towards more and more nuance and fragility. Bashir never took off as a character but then again if you read what Berman was trying to do there (his plan was literally to create an unlikable character and then screw with it over time) I don't see how Siddig could really counteract that.

VOY is funny in comparison, because the definition of the characters was a lot more fixed. I think Mulgrew nailed it out of the gate, and despite the writers trying to rewrite her all the time she mostly kept it all together. As far as the rest of the regulars, it seems like everyone was satisfied from day 1 how they came off and left it that way, for better or worse. Doc morphed over time, but not really the others (except Seven, later). This made characters like B'elanna striking quickly, but she had little place to go from there. For a comparison: both she and Kira came out of the gate swinging with fury, but Torres was never given anyplace else to go (like regretting her past, or having to learn new ways) other learning not to punch engineers. Tom Paris came already-assembled, batteries included, as a copy-paste of Nic Locarno. They wanted that and it's what they got: strong early, and a done deal with no need to change it. Tuvok could have done better on the show if Russ hadn't been so screwed over by the hiring of Ryan, who basically supplanted him. Kes also could have stood a lot more development (especially since she was supposedly aging quickly) but she basically got sidelined into weird episodes and Neelix stuff, along with being Doc's nurse, and then fired. It looked like she was never fostered, which she really needed as a newbie. I thought she could have been good, *if* they had cared to help her. And let's not even address Chakotay...

But the difference here is pretty clear: they had more clarified character bibles for Voyager and so the definition we see in Caretaker isn't all that different from when the series ends. The actors sort of did their thing consistently but were never pushed, and from the looks of it were content not to be pushed. No one 'rebelled' against the writing except for Beltran, and occasionally Mulgrew who drew a line in the sand. But the DS9 actors were deeply entrenched in discussions about the characters because they really wanted them to go somewhere, and I think this came as a result of the atmosphere on set and in the writing room. They hired people on DS9 with potential that could only be realized if the writing matched (sort of like Kes, only a more advanced version, since for instance Siddig is otherwise a very competent actor), whereas on Voyager they didn't really need potential since the finished product was there coming out of the audition as well. And I've experienced exactly this difference myself when doing casting: some people need to be worked with but have a high ceiling, while others will never do anything better than what they did in the audition, but at least you can be sure they're capable of it since they did it for you already. The latter type are typically a disappointment to me, but I can see how for a high-stakes network show they might feel the opposite. DS9 surprised us by not doing that, and by hiring for *long-term* potential, even though it wouldn't be realized (aside from Odo, Kira, and Quark) until the writing leveled-up.

So that's what I meant. I mean, duh! No, jk, but seriously I respect the DS9 cast the best even though there are serious bumps in S1-2, and even though Bashir got taken through the meat grinder later. I can really see the actors working on that show, and it's awesome at times even if the stories took time to ramp up.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Crossover

@ Elliott,

I think I would agree that the productions *as product* may be said to be of equal quality. The more specific we get about which part of the production we mean the less that's true, I think. For instance I think TNG is superior in cast cohesion, as clearly they were so close to each other off-camera that all of caring and fun just showed all over the episodes. Watching TNG often feels like 'coming home' in some sense. DS9 had a cohesion in the writing team that I think is unparalleled in the other series, so that fans of conceptual writing will have a lot to like in DS9. But on the other hand the cast seems to have been overworked, especially in the later seasons, so that the pure joy found in TNG is often lacking in DS9. Bill Mumy remarked at how when he came on set to work with them for "The Siege of etc" they were like corpses from overwork.

Voyager, on the other hand, seems to have had a leg up on the other series is having a polished and slick presentation and increased values in editing and pacing compared to previous Treks. Although this may be a sign of the times (sharp editing having a larger factor in final product) VOY certainly had its behind the scenes team at a high level.

For me, though, the clincher always comes down to what happens with the actors on camera. I'm not going to be happy with everything being at a high level if the acting is only so-so, with the actors not challenging themselves, and also where the story is told less through script and more through dollars. This isn't a slight against VOY per se, but actually against where a lot of TV in general was going, with less emphasis on the human storytelling and more on other elements. It's not that those are "bad" but they're not as much for me.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Where Silence Has Lease

@ Circus Man,

"A question I've always had: were the writers actively sabotaging Pulaski (or Muldaur)? "

Do you mean as a form of protest against McFadden's firing, so that they'd have to take her back if the fans hated Muldaur? I never thought of that. I guess it's possible.

My initial hunch is just that they didn't know how to do much out of the gate other than copy TOS in a lot of cases. What we now accuse Trek of becoming - recycling tropes as a form of fan service - was probably true of early TNG until they learned how it could stand on its own two feet. Of the various Trek series, only TOS and DS9 seemed to know what they wanted to be and didn't try to copy something else. And in so doing DS9 caused itself some trouble, because one result of going off in its own direction was being sort of aimless for 2 seasons with both characters and story arc. VOY, by contrast, was much more derivative *but* also more sure of what it wanted to do right away. Likewise, TNG wanted to be TOS series 2, which is basically what it began as, and because of that it didn't have its own identity for a while. Both TNG and DS9 figured out their own rhythm by around S3, and strangely VOY went in the opposite direction, starting out stronger but loosing its way by around S3.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Where Silence Has Lease

@ Silly,

That's a good point. But even worse than that, part of the Spock/McCoy rivalry is that McCoy knew that on some level Spock had the human emotions in him and was in denial (or just stubborn), and so considerable efforts are made throughout TOS to get Spock to admit what was obvious to his closest friends ("in a pig's eye!").

But with Pulaski and Data there is (a) no friendship, (b) nothing for Data to admit, since he literally does have many of the shortcomings Pulaski suggests, and (c) there was nothing friendly in Pulaski's ribbing. Her point was literally that Data was basically a toaster and incapable of doing anything creative. To be honest, her attempts to demonstrate this probably violated half a dozen regs and the Federation charter to boot. I'm surprised no one has raised a fuss about it here! So it's often not only akin to a middle-aged woman berating a school child, but one with a learning disability. Nice lesson in humanity, lady.

The Spock/McCoy recycling plan here is a hard fail, especially since if Pulaski actually cared about cybernetic capabilities you'd think she's be ecstatic to have a uniquely advanced android around so that she could actually work with him to test his limits. But since she doesn't actually care to learn with him about his design, instead we have no choice but to conclude that she's some kind of luddite who doesn't actually care about Data and wants to justify her own bias. Contrast with McCoy who was in no way a luddite but rather often took on the role of the humanist who didn't want to see technology rob us of what makes us human. That this was missed with Pulaski, who just 'doesn't like robots'. Actually it might have been helpful in the series going forward if the arguments made in Measure of a Man hadn't stopped there but had been explored more. In VOY too they were beyond hesitant to ever question their implied premise that Doc was sentient. What does it even mean to make that argument? Neither series seemed comfortable going there.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

@ RomCom,

It's funny you should mention Necessary Evil, since that's pretty much the start of the trend of re-exploring how dumb Rom really is. I don't actually think there's a major difference between this point and the end of S7 for him. The bigger stretch is the difference between him in The Nagus and Necessary Evil.
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Peter G.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Skin of Evil

@ Omar,

Don't you think it's more likely they were going for a concept like "oil leads to violence", rather than "black things are evil"?
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Peter G.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 11:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@ Cody B,

"why in the world Garak such a fan favorite? The guy is a untrustworthy, sneaky, pathological liar."

Are you seriously asking why fans enjoy watching characterizations of people who are immoral? Would you ask the same question of Star Wars fans of why they enjoy watching a brutal murderer like Darth Vader?
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Peter G.
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Crossover

@ Circus Man,

Not sure if your comment was addressed to me but I wasn't trying to comment on the relative popularity of the shows. I knew DS9 didn't have stunning ratings but I believe VOY didn't either. By contrast, I think B5 had less of a market share than either and yet I would call it a far more successful show in basically all categories.
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Peter G.
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 2:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Crossover

@ Springy & William B,

I'll give a few reflections from back when I was a teenager and both were on the air at once.

I used to watch TNG on Saturdays, then when DS9 came on I'd watch both back to back (the glory days). My reaction to DS9 the first time it aired was that it was a little boring, and this stayed true more or less for the first two seasons. It worked primarily because of how much it was a sister-show to TNG and worked in the same universe, so it was sort of like a TNG-spinoff rather than a brand new Trek show. This is partly what kept the show relevant to me, and is also why I disagree so strongly with those who think it was trying to distance itself from TNG and to even bash it. The two worked like a team, showing different aspects of that era. But DS9 definitely got better and by S3 and on I was quite happy with it, but not nearly as much as I would come to appreciate it as an adult. And I think this is a strong proviso: it's not as good a show for kids and young adults, or for anyone who likes action. It's a slow show, where the waves and crests happen long-term. It's also a show for people who like nuanced relationships rather than simple character bibles (like TNG had).

When Voyager came on I was very happy to be able to continue by 2-Trek Saturday nights, and wasn't too put off by the middling strength of the pilot. I did inherently find some of its premises questionable and wondered why they'd so some of the stuff they did that was so uninteresting, like for instance how they designed the Kazon. Going even into S2 anytime they appeared onscreen was so bad you wanted to turn the TV off. I liked some aspects of VOY and it didn't materially hurt my "Sat night fun". However I felt soon enough the show began to go downhill. Many people agreed with me that S1 was to an extent it's strong point and then derailed. Everyone knows about the S4 ratings stunt (and boost) and this worked for me to an extent as well. But by S5 or so my attention had flagged so much that I began to occasionally miss episodes and not care (which you don't understand how insane that was at the time), and by the end of S5 I think I had stopped watching altogether. My general conclusion was that the show-running was a mess and the show all over the place, usually disappointing.

Having tried to review VOY since then and give it another chance, I find myself actually even more critical of it than I was at the time. Since I don't get that excited about action, that removes an enormous amount of its content was qualifying as interesting. I hate to this day alien of the week episodes, which almost defines the series. TOS episodes with new aliens almost always used them to tell an important social or philosophical message. In TNG I think a lot of eps involving aliens were more about their distinctions from the TNG crew, but even then honestly the TNG crew didn't have that many encounters with aliens species compared to TOS. It was more meeting up with Federation colonies or people. The exception of course is the Klingons, Romulans, and other regular races, which I don't count as alien of the week (nor would the Kazon count in VOY).

Overall my rating of VOY has degraded over time, largely because much of what the show is about isn't for me. For those who claim it wanted to be Nu-TNG I say it failed if that's true, because TNG is my most-rewatched show and VOY my least (along with ENT, which barely counts as Trek). DS9 still has its weak spots and although at times I've called it my favorite show it's not perfect. But the older I get the more VOY looks bad and DS9 looks good, and I wonder whether others share that trend.
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

Whoopie delivered that moment of humor history with such finesse that she actually convinced me that her pun was funny, even though I've never laughed at it nor had an impulse that could possibly be mistaken for being amused. So she gets 110% credit.

Other than that I would put this episode among the all-time lows of the entire Trek canon for multiple reasons. It's certainly got less real content than Shades of Grey, is less dignified than The Naked Now, and hasn't got the moral stature of Code of Honor. I can't realistically put this one as low as Profit and Lace, Threshhold, Macrocosm, and all of ENT, but it's right down there.

One exceptional and out-of-character moment, though: when the alien ship arms "lasers" and Picard drops the shields to surrender, it's one if the biggest laughs in the series. So I'll pretend this moment happened in another episode to avoid giving it any credit.
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Our Man Bashir

@ Elliott,

"I'll actually disagree on this quite firmly. The fact that the Bond persona *is* Julian Bashir (he does, after all, keep his real name in the fantasy) is precisely the point. The Bond scenario allows Julian to be himself without being problematised because the genre is full of problematic tropes; machismo, objectification, etc. Julian doesn't have to censor or sublimate the negative shades of his personality in the holosuite, just like he doesn't have to censor or sublimate his genetically-engineered abilities. In the "real world," only a super-man could actually be a Bond-type protagonist."

I'm not saying that the episode failed in some way, but I dock it points because it's just less interesting for me for Julian to play himself in a role where the character in question is really not much like him IRL. And yes, the spy trope as shown in film does have many problematic elements - in fact even the idea of violence and deception being cool is problematic from a Federation standpoint. And that's why I would have liked to see that Julian adopted a persona to enjoy those things, because I don't think he actually does like those things as himself.

My point here plays partially into Garak's suggestion that this is really not Bashir's cup of tea; that he's deluding himself in thinking that he has something in common with a real spy. By only playing himself it almost makes it seem like Julian believes that he, himself, could be a spy as-is, even though I think by now he's pretty confident that he's not that kind of person. That's why you'd playact on the holodeck and take on a character (like Barclay does). And actually DS9 does show Julian in early seasons 'trying to be' various things, only to settle down and be more himself later on in the series when he's matured. So it would have been relatively consistent for him to by 'trying to be' a spy here. That would have made the ending more poignant, had he dropped the spy persona and actually saved the day as Julian Bashir, doctor and humanitarian. But that's just my fantasy of the episode, right, and not exactly a critique of what they did show. I like the episode a lot, but I feel like parts of it are a bit flat with Julian just sort of walking through the episode as himself. Garak especially might have gotten a kick out of Julian 'playing' more early on when there were no apparent stakes.
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 12:12am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Blood Oath

@ Springy,

Ah, hearing those quotes gives me such nice nostalgia. Thanks for that. About Kang agreeing to such an outrageous fight, I think that's explained by Jadzia's comment to him about the whole matter: he never really intended to get out of there alive and wanted the most glorious defeat he could muster. After all this time failing he wanted his failing to finally give him a glorious death. Victory was never his expectation, and in the writing of the episode I think that's exactly why he and Koloth die. They had no more joy of life in them and wanted the Albino to finally put them out of their misery, and maybe if they were lucky to do the same to him (for B5 fans, think of G'Kar and Londo at the very end for an analogy). They knew going in that's what they wanted - but not Kor! And not Jadzia. And big surprise, their reason for keeping Jadzia behind was BS - they didn't want her there because it was a suicide mission for old men. I think deep down it was out of concern for her, not for dismissing her, that she had to fight so hard to join. But really the other two were screwing over Kor, who I think really did want to live, and indeed only he and Jadzia do. Her presence turned it from a suicide pact into a real chance for life, but only for those who really wanted to live.

I'll give this one ***.5 myselt, and honestly I'd be temped for **** .
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 12:05am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Plato's Stepchildren

@ Jessie,

Nice catch with the Aristophanes. And I've been too derelict to ever read him I never would have known that.

However one thing I would point out is that the episode in no way has an intention to depict Ancient Greek society, or any type of society that's literally been on Earth. The Platonians specifically say that they developed their culture based on what they read in Plato's Republic. I happen to be doing a careful reading of the Republic right now, by coincidence, and if you take Socrates' arguments very literally what he describes is on its face basically a fascist state, not totally unlike that of Sparta at the time, where the entire culture is based on creating the most competent guardians (read: warriors). And if you think Parmen's sadistic manner is totally off-base, which I agree it is, I regret to say that most people I've met basically think Plato is advocating for exactly what Parmen demonstrates. I've seen and heard sophisticated academics quite confident that Plato's philosopher kings are basically evil tyrants. I personally do not believe his dialogue is really any kind of advocacy for that, but that takes deeper reading between the lines of what Socrates actually says. So while I agree it's off-base in that it misses Plato's intended point, it's an all-too-common reading of the Republic so in that sense is completely realistic and predictable. And also sadly predictable is a people with a new-found power that can be used for tyranny, finding some excuse to justify using it. From that standpoint I would call the premise of the episode 100% believable; actually not just believable, but probably the most likely result to happen all things being equal.
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Peter G.
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Our Man Bashir

Just to prove your point, Chrome, I really like the TNG Holmes stories when I was a kid and a teenager, and I finally decided to read Conan Doyle's books as an adult, and was disappointed to find them not all that interesting. I prefer the TNG version, hah! But this does show that the material can sell itself even if you don't care for the original (or even know it).
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Peter G.
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Our Man Bashir

Although I generally agree with Elliott's rating, I'm not sure I agree with the reasons. Primarily I give this episode a lot of credit for two reasons:

1) It gives the chance for the actors to have some fun. I give the same credit to episodes in the MU, and although literally speaking it can appear to break credibility I give a lot of leeway for episodes trying to let the actors out of the box.

2) The conversations between Garak and Bashir don't *quite* make sense in context, as Elliott points out. However I've always interpreted them as being a bit non-literal, and not so much that Garak is trying to claim 'spy supremacy.' I think the issue is much bigger than that, and actually boils down to a Cardassia versus Federation argument. I'll try to expand on this point a bit.

Garak's essential point here is that you can't have what might be called victory, and also be nice. His primary objective is a combination of self-preservation and refusing to entertain idealistic goals, and likewise his prime objection seems to me that Bashir thinks you can have your cake and eat it too in life. I very much doubt Garak actually cares whether Bashir is a competent spy or not, but does seem to care over the course of the series whether Bashir truly understands how naive he seems at times. Here we see Bashir claiming to be a "spy", that is, a cutthroat operative, and yet won't settle for any less than "saving the day" and refusing to accept any losses. Here the losses would be his friends, but I think it goes deeper than that: really what's at stake is Bashir's refusal to sacrifice principles, and Garak being disturbed by that because he knows full well that all principles do is remove options for action, and thereby reduce chances for success. A "real operative" would know that and would seek victory over morals. And in this case I think "real operative" really means someone trying to gain security for his own way of life. Their conversations here are really a microcosm of the larger debate about whether a people can protect themselves with airy-fairy principles like the Federation does, while the Cardassians have a much more authoritarian view on what's necessary for self-preservation (of a species). This debate would continue on throughout the series, and when seen in this light Garak's position isn't at all thinly written, but is directly on point with the debate these two characters always have.

SPOILER

It even goes deeper than this, because even though at a certain point Garak and Julian do develop more of an understanding, the debate is picked up again much later by Sloan, which essentially takes the same position as Garak does here with regards to what is really needed to protect the Federation. And the debate rages *to this day* about whether Sloan was right and whether Section 31 did actually save the Federation by infecting the Founders. That is essentially Garak's case here: you can't 'be nice' and call yourself an agent whose goal is it to protect your people. In this episode, which is written in a light and fun way, "Bashir's people" is the main cast, but in the grander picture it's the Federation at large. Could the Federation really survive with people like Bashir in charge of security? This episode really does surprise us by answering, "maybe!"

The reason why I'd dock the episode some points is that I actually don't think they went nearly far enough creating a 'Bond-persona' for Julian. His just seemed like himself, whereas I feel like the idea here was that he was playacting as a Garak-type, but when push came to shove he would reject that fake persona and be the humanitarian that he is. Lacking that dichotomy, it ends up just feeling like Julian playing holodeck, which we got enough of in TNG. Another weak point is as others mention, which is the tech explanations, although I'll be honest I did like Rom's involvement in that part of it. Now that I reflect, I'd be tempted to give it ***.5 stars anyhow.
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Peter G.
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 12:11am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Dramatis Personae

@ Adrian,

I'm with you on that one. It's always been one of my favorites of S1 hands down. Aside from the fun story, it also ends up anticipating a lot of character traits in almost everyone that only become established much, much later. Details in this one end up being revisited (intentionally or not) in many episodes to come. Besides all that it plays on the basis suspense of the divided loyalties in the main cast and casts them all in an extreme light to show exactly where we're at right now in the series in terms of how much trust has really been established. It's almost like a bottle where we're being shown the character bibles from square one, but with a twist - that being, to act out the worst case scenario of how things might actually have gone down with Bajor.
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Peter G.
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Rivals

@ Chrome,

"@Springy

I can see where you’re coming from with the Protestant service comparison to Catholic mass. May I ask how this episode reminded you of it?"

Heh, I interpreted the comment by way of imputing my own experience of watching the episode: "When is the good part going to start? Oh look, it's over :( "
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