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Peter G.
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

Am I remembering wrong, or did Odo not link with Older Odo before the end of the episode? If so, the decision would have to have been at least partially joint. But I actually do think there's a such thing as not being mature enough to make a decision, that, if you get it wrong, you'll regret for the rest of your life. There are decisions in life where "you won't know" how it will go, and maybe there are others which, pick wrong, and you'll never be able to take that back. In the case of who will have families with whom it might be hard to say which way is better. Or at least it might have tempting to think about the colony. But in Odo's case he had 200 years to think about it, which I think is really not taken seriously enough. She meant that much to him. I'm not sure I agree that him making the choice for her (and for his other self) is antagonistic towards her wishes. It's not exactly as if her life's goal was to die for some random colonist. But her heartstrings were pulled and she gave in to it, which is one of the things he loves about her, but also a good reason to provide her with a kick when she needs to get back to her chosen mission. Maybe that's a contentious assertion and I don't have that much time now, but I'm pretty sure I'm onto something with that.

@ Fenn,

"I feel the majority of the episode *is* dedicated to having both the characters and audience see these people as living beings with a right to persist."

The thing is, I don't really see any point made in the episode about their rights. I don't in fact think they have any right at all to expect anyone to die so they can live. Rather I think a lot of time is taken to help us connect with them, to give a clear vision of who they are and what *wouldn't happen* if a different course is chosen. It's that vivid connection to what *could be* that makes life's choices so difficult. But we let ourselves off easy by not thinking about the consequences of what we *don't do*. Funny that, since we don't do a great deal more things than we do. It's worth thinking about, at the very least, even if what we have chosen to do really is right for us.
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Peter G.
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

@ Fenn,

Yeah, I agree the lack of spotten Klingons may be a production oversight. They certainly did not imply they split up.

A lot of people have gone on about Odo as a murderer, or how Kira should be horrified, and so forth. But I think part of this is that after the episode is over they really could think of it as "they never really existed". Sure, it's a sci-fi thing, but in the real world these events exist in some small time loop but otherwise no one died. They have the memories, and I think that is the important take-away: like Picard in The Inner Light, they had a taste of life other than in service to Starfleet, and it was a pretty good one. It's the simple living they all could have had, in an alternate set of choices and circumstances, and one that's no less important or relevant that serving on a super-important space station. And yes, I think the episode is about highlighting how we shouldn't forget about the incredible importantance of little things when thinking about grand wars and intergalactic politics. It shouldn't be just numbers on a screen; planting seeds matters too, and so does having a community. This is the 'real deal' version of what they kept trying to shove at us with the Maquis and maybe with Paradise. Losing all of those descendents isn't murder; it's what actually happens to every person in real life if they're being honest about the life choice to value career over family. You *do* lose something, but that choice may still be the right one. And yes, there are thousands of descendants each person will never have if they choose not to have kids, or to have fewer kids, or whatever. That doesn't mean their choice is wrong, but it *is* a choice with consequences. If you really thought it through it would be no different from this episode.

So regarding Kira and Odo, I really don't think that deaths being on her conscience is relevant to their relationship. It's not really relevant in terms of the sci-fi trope, and it's not relevant because from what we see of 'Oldo's character, he's no murderer, but what he is is a lover, and that is very different. Where he's changed, and maybe why he's not afraid anymore to show his real face (and yes, I think his inability is based in fear) is because he's not afraid to admit he has vulnerable emotions any more. Actually he's relishing the chance to show them to Kira, so this is about as big a character change for him as you can get. He *wants* to be seen as in pain and willing to sacrifice anything for her. So what Kira gets out of this is knowing that the guy who's too ashamed to even smile in public would do absolutely anything for her. So yeah, that is a pretty good trait to have in a romantic partner :)
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Yep, I meant DIstant Voices. I mean, they both involve whispers...
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Three excellent questions.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn,

You'll get the most bang for your buck in retroactively taking a look at Whispers from S2. The whole episode reads differently when seen in hindsight. I highly doubt they had any of what was coming in mind when they wrote it, which makes it all the more mysterious that they did write it. Maybe they wanted to leave Whispers vague enough to suit various options for "surprise" without having to settle on one just yet. I mean, why else write in that Julian deliberately failed to get 1st in his class? Why insert that into his past, and have it take a Lethian to draw it out of him, unless it's Something Important? Almost puts Bashir on the same level as Garak in terms of it implying he's hiding something. That said most of the writers probably either didn't pick up on that or else dropped it, since there are no other allusions in the series to Julian having some kind of secret reason to fail.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn.

There were two parallel issues with this Bashir development. The first is that according to Michael Pillar they had decided pre-pilot to run a number on Bashir's character, making him deliberately unlikeable for a few seasons in order to then spring some kind of surprise and have him turn around to become a fan favorite. I have no idea why they wanted to do an experiment like this, but maybe it was due to everyone on TNG just being so damn nice and friendly. For Bashir they actually wanted to fans not to like him initially! Ironically I like early Bashir the best because he's such a dork.

So this character retcon may well be what they settled on for Bashir's 'big surprise'. The issue for me is they had already had one big surprise - the Changeling situation. And what's more, Bashir had already been toned way down by this time and wasn't the aggravating nuisance that Kira wanted to swat every time he spoke. So any kind of sudden reversal at this stage in the game wasn't really that much of a reversal. He was probably a middle of the road fan favorite originally, and would remain so after this. It basically changed nothing. At least, nothing in terms of ratings.

The second issue was how the writers took to Bashir's new identity, which Siddig apparently feared would have them turn him into The Human Computer and take away any humanity from him. So maybe this last scene was Julian sort of playing a bit of Mr. Computer. I wonder whether the actor was trying to portray that he didn't quite forgive his parents yet, or whether it was more of a "I have to try to look normal in social situations but really I am a human calculator with a stony face in private." And the last scene may be him letting down his social face. I guess you'd have to ask Siddig himself about that one.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 9:40am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I agree with Omicron that Mora was probably not pulling any punches, especially as the Cardassians wanted results. But I'd say the major difference between Odo and Mora is that Mora did what he did because he liked it; he wanted to succeed in his science experiment. In Odo's case even if he took exactly the same steps he'd have been doing it out of caring. I think the motive and attitude may be what this is about. Odo may well have recognized by the end that Mora's methods were sound, even while still knowing that making the child stronger has to be for its own sake, not yours.
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Peter G.
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

To be fair, I always interpreted that particular scene as Garak being a bit selfless for once and suggesting that it was a bad idea to get mixed up with an ex-assassin and Dukat's enemy. Her naivete would lead her to judge him based on what she sees and how he treats her, and he knows that you shouldn't necessarily believe those things. I think in this scene he's putting himself down in a sense, and trying to give her good advice despite the fact that he does like being with her.
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Peter G.
Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

SPOILERS

Frankly I don't think I ever got a vibe that Garak was 'into' Ziyal, just that he cared for her. Maybe even felt bad for her. That even comes across in the script, and he was never given lines that showed overly romantic overtones. Granted he's not into sentimentalism, but still their relationship was about as warmly platonic as you can get onscreen. It makes perfect sense that she'd be lonely, and maybe even respect Garak for his sense of assuredness and calm. On Garak's side it was a perfect chance to cross Dukat and bewitch his daughter. At least at first. And he would have never felt the need to make a distinction between spending time with someone nice, and continuing his 'private work'. His association with Julian very much had that character, where he was enjoying Julian's company but also working him.

I'm not exactly fighting for the pan-sexual Garak intepretation, but on the other hand I could see a case where Robinson was resisting portraying being overtly attracted to Ziyal. It did sort of seem more like he was curious about her, rather than drawn to her.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

@ Fenn,

"He reckoned having someone recently liberated from oppression/occupation striking out at (someone perceived as) one of the former oppressors to be a risky move, especially with the 90s having had a lot more Holocaust survivors alive compared to now."

Funnily enough, I think the killing of the Cardassian was meant less to be controversial and more meant to be what the standard modern response would be to someone like that. The Barjoran who did it isn't a radical extremist, he's just an ordinary guy. Kira is the one who's been through a radical experience that's opened her eyes and made her realize it's about more than just revenge.

Now Marritza wasn't maybe a very important Cardassian, but based on what we've seen IRL it became standard practice for Nazi's around the world who escaped Germany to be hunted down and taken out. For the most part this has been celebrated, or at least tolerated as as sort of inevitability. Rarely if ever have I heard someone say "yeah but wait a minute, how responsible were they really? Is there a way to forgive?" When it comes to Nazis they just gotta die. I think that's the standard opinion TBH. So what's controversial is having Kira say that killing him was wrong; the actual killing is true to life.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 11:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

Ah, ok I see. I wasn't quite sure about that.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

@ Fenn,

I'm sorry to say, but I think there is approximately a zero percent chance that they were (subtly or not) portraying Keiko as hinting at an open marriage. There is just no way; it's out of character for her, and not the kind of 'humor' they were going for here. She's basically a futuristic version of a culturally Japanese woman who believes in a mix of scientific learning with more traditional values. Otherwise she'd never have gotten along with Miles, despite the fact that each of their versions of 'traditional' are no doubt different due to Irish vs Japanese. But they're not William Riker, let's just put it that way.

If I was going to criticize an aspect of this episode - and I'm loath to because I love it - it's that Keiko is clearly being portrayed as being outright stupid about this. The 'joke' as it were is that she keeps shoving them into intimate situations while being oblivious to what could happen, and she no doubt thinks that they're getting the better of Kira since Kira's doing all the hard work and Keiko is 'getting away with something', not having to carry the baby. So yeah, she wants to give Kira the royal treatment since their family is getting such a service from her, and her husband is going to be the royal slave to fan Kira with palm leaves and feed her grapes. It's not a sex thing, it's a "you better take care of her just like you would me if I had the baby inside me!" She's making Miles pamper her by proxy, and since it can't be called selfish she gets a kick out of it at the same time. My criticism is that portraying Keiko as being this oblivious is more of a sitcom trope than anything that belongs on DS9 as it does her no favors here. And if you want evidence of how traditional this scenario is, even Miles gets startled at what's happening between him and Kira, as if it wasn't entirely predictable. The fact that it would even get as far as him and Kira in that shuttle shows they were going for a comedy style rather than a realistic situation. I don't mind that, but I just think it does make Keiko look dumb.

This episode (and others) did foresee situations that could arise with surrogate motherhood, but I think it is most definitely not about unconventional *sexual* relationships. The title is about looking for love/sex in the wrong places; in Worf's case it's thinking he wants a Klingon woman; in Miles' case it's thinking it should go towards the woman bearing his child. That natural instinct leads him wrong. Or at least I think that's the confusion the episode is going for; not that he wants a relationship with Kira (or ever has) but that he's become attracted to her by the bond over the pregnancy.
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Peter G.
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

Sure, I don't have a problem with any of that. My point is just that I don't think we can look at a random comment from Garak about "oooh, look at her" and take it at face value that the show has definitively put him not only into the hetero camp but specifically into the old boys' club camp.
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Peter G.
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 11:19am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

@ Fenn,

In response to some serious questions about (a) the Founders, and (b) how DS9 is or isn't channeling the '90's, I would like to offer a theory that I'm not 100% certain reflects the intent of the writers but which is actually my head canon.

I think the reason Odo presents as male is *only* because Dr. Mora was the one who found him. He copied him, his hair, and to the extent he could, his face. But Odo is very bad at faces, which IMO is a metaphorical way of saying he's bad at lying. The Founders, on the other hand, have duplicity and disguide *with solids* as their second nature, the first nature I suppose being the Link, which is the exact opposite: pure sharing. I also think that Odo assumes a hetero take on sex (being attracted to Kira, but not some dude) is likewise due to eventually coming to feel the things a male tends to feel. Now we could argue 'why couldn't he have been a gay male' but don't forget he's copying what he sees, which we assume is hetero Cardassian males, and maybe Bajoran ones too. Now this is perhaps a DS9 channeling the '90's thing, that both races don't have gay couples, but nevertheless I think it's fair to say that Odo probably doesn't even know where his feelings come from. It was embarassing enough for him to have them in the first place.

The Female Changeling is another matter: I think she appears in female form purely for Odo's sake, and only because they know he has an attraction to a female already. We already know she's choosing her form based on what will make Odo comfortable: her face. Founders can copy faces perfectly well but she chooses to have a face like Odo's. I surmise that her sex is also chosen to soften Odo. As a result, my head canon at least is that the Changelings do not have sex or gender at all, but can assume a sex or gender when they shift into forms that have those. At that time they'd adopt the chemical characteristics that that species has including sexual attraction.

About Garak's seemingly hetero leering, I have a different idea about this: I think he's testing Odo, to see if he can learn something about his sexuality. Maybe by being so brazen about it he thinks he can get Odo to open up a bit and not treat sexuality like a taboo, which basically does end up working. The thing is, I always expect Garak is doing this to study his subject, not to have a fraternal high-five session over the ladies. Even if Garak did indeed love the ladies he's not that kind of guy. So this is a performance he's putting on, and maybe in part it's for Odo's benefit as well, as William B suggests. But generally I default to assuming that he's trying to extract information, where all situations to him are a kind of practice at interrogation.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

@ Chrome,

I agree that Kurn's consent was certainly not scripted as being the main issue. I think the issue was one of finding the middle ground between Kurn's desires and what the crew was going to find acceptable to settle with.

However I do think it's the case (and perhaps this varies state by state) that if a call is made to the police warning them of a suicide attempt, they will not only come, but will possibly come armed with weapons drawn. I've read multiple stories about the police coming due to a suicide call with bad consequences. What probably varies depending on case is what they do with you after arresting you for making an attempt on your life (which I believe they would do if it came to it). Part of the issue isn't just the law, but medical infrastructure. If the state doesn't have available permanent care facilities (aka asylums) then even if they are legally permitted to commit you against your will, they won't do it if there's no place to put you or no funds for it. So yes, there is a mental health problem in the U.S. at least in part as a result of the lack of care available. That's a bit of a tangent, but my main point was that it's almost universally seen as unacceptable to take your own life in the West. The euthenasia argument tends to come in when discussing incurable diseases, and even then it's contentious. In the case of a completely healthy middle aged adult wanting to just die, it's practically anathema to the American sensibility as far as I understand it. I'm just making the leap and sort of assigning those values to Starfleet since I do think there's a generally American value system at work in much of the Trek universe.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

I'll take a contrarian side on this episode, since most people seem agreed that the ending is problematic. To me the matter comes down to cultural values. Klingons believe in dying gloriously, humans (mostly) believe in living no matter what.

This episode shows us the Klingon side and how a life miserably lived is no life at all. They believe in honorable suicide, which ends up being equivalent to dying in glorious battle. Kurn wanted that, and Worf tried his darndest to convince himself that he believed it too. But at the end of the day, the suggestion to mind wipe Kurn turns out to be a humanized version of the Klingon goal: Kurn doesn't have to live in misery any more, but he won't die. It's a completely human ending, and one that shows 'respect' for the Klingon belief without actually giving in to it fully.

So the question is "was this ok"? Well assuming Kurn would have killed himself *for sure*, then the answer is that human values say that, yes, anything is better than that. In our current culture we will actually arrest and imprison people who are trying to kill themselves, that's how seriously we take it. So by human laws and values (never mind that it's a Bajoran station) taking drastic action seems to be permissible if saving a life is the stakes. Kurn's consent is not required to take such emergency actions with him, according to our values. The question then becomes whether another action other than this procedure would save him. My argument would be no, unless we're willing to include torture and 're-education' to force him to change his beliefs, which I believe would be far worse than mind-wiping him. So based strictly on human values this seems to have been both the humane and also the most legally acceptable answer.

But I think the main event for us here isn't whether mind-wiping someone without consent is ok generally speaking; I think the main event is Worf signing off on it. This shows us clearly that in the end he really does have values that are more human than Klingon. And we see this again and again where his sense of honor isn't actually quite the same as his fellow Klingons. Through TNG and DS9 real life Klingons have never lived up to what he idealized them as. The truth of the matter is that Worf is more like a Klingon-convention cosplay fan than a real Klingon, so true to their ideals and the image of Klingonness that it's actually not like the real thing. It's more like a human trying to be like a Klingon so hard that he ends up as something else: a perfect Klingon impression. Sons of Mogh shows me pretty well that deep down he really doesn't long for some of the cultural things Klingons do, even though genetically he does have the bloodlust and so forth. Killing Kurn without killing him is the perfect representation of Worf being a human wanting to be a Klingon. That he could accept this course of events means that he'd rather Kurn live than die gloriously through suicide, and that's a huge statement of his beliefs.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jan 9, 2020, 3:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I'm with Chrome that I'm not a fan of revisionist artistic vision. What they intended *then* is what they intended then. On the other hand it's worth asking what Robinson intended then. Could he have been exaggering his belief in Garak's pansexuality because it was cool to talk about? Not that he didn't believe it, but did it really impact the performances very much? So I do think it's relevant to inspect the episodes for signs of this, if for no other reason than out of curiosity.

I suppose I'm not surprised that some viewers distinctly see Garak's *sexual* attraction, whereas for my part while I do see attraction I've never really seen it as sexual. Maybe that's the issue, that a dude liking a dude, and even wanting to touch him, risks being seen as homosexual in America when in some cultures it wouldn't be seen that way. The German notion of friendship and kissing is totally different from the American one, for instance. So to be a bit more objective I do think we need to do what Booming is wary of, and look for signs of gay coding in either the writing or the acting.

The issue about gay coding *in art* is that there are certain objectives in art, one of which is usually (and in the case of TV, almost always) to clearly communicate content. If you have a gay character, it's not enough to say that in real life you might not know someone is gay; on TV you need to 'show your work' in the sense of having the content be *presented* to the audience for their understanding. Usually you'll know things about TV characters you wouldn't know about real people except maybe for those closest to you. It's not because they're telegraphing stereotypes necessarily, but because it's the job of TV to show you stuff and portray it in a digestible and clear format. This might well mean going above and beyond verissimilitude for the sake of storytelling. So a real life Garak might be inscrutible totally, whereas on DS9 we do need to be able to scrute him a little. If we didn't see it then it wasn't there, basically. Like, if the character successfully hid that he was with the Obsidian Order for the entire series, then it would simply not be canon that he ever was a member. It's a simple as that. So if we're going to assert something in canon about Garak's sexuality it has to have been onscreen somehow, and therefore in absense of an actual homosexual relationship we need the coding signals to at least flag it somewhat.

This argument runs parallel to another one I could make, which is that in real life LGBT people code signal plenty themselves. Some of it may be subconscious, some may be overt, as there are definite advantages to being able to make others (at least certain others) aware of your proclivities. It's no accident that the gay stereotypical characteristics exist as they do; it's because many gay people really do exhibit them. So portraying a gay character in art that has gay signal coding baked in surely doesn't run counter to actual reality. To me the only question is whether it's tasteful, interesting, and relevant. An insultingly broad depiction of gayness may get a laugh but it's probably 'not nice' on some level either. But throwing out the baby with the bathwater makes it almost as bad, where no signalling at all would probably mean that we are even mor restricted in portraying gay people than real gay people are at portraying themselves. And that can't be right.

So for Garak we have:

1) Is into clothes.
2) Is a bit touchy-feely, at least at first.
3) Wears slim-fitting clothing and comments on others' looks quite frequently.
4) As others have mentioned, often chooses sass over violence.
5) Does not do that arrogant alpha-male thing that other Cardassian males tend to do.
6) Feels kinship with the two other people on DS9 (Odo and Bashir) who also have something to hide and are odd men out.

However when inspecting this list I'm not sure I buy it very much:

1) I've always felt his positive references to clothes and tailoring were completely ironic, as if to say that he hated everything to do with it despite it working excellently as both a cover and a side business. Whenever he compliments someone's looks I can almost feel the sarcasm meter rising, as if to comment on the banality of actually caring about such things. I think he actually detests the preening side of Carassian culture, as seen in Civil Defense, and as a result probably has made a habit of jesting about liking clothes, just as his regularly seen smile is a gigantic jest in the face of living in a place that's practically torturous to him.

2) I guess this point might hold, but I guess it's hard to tell the difference between "this guy is weird" and "this guy likes guys". I also think his objective in Past Prologue was to maximally mess with Julian, so I don't really buy that it was all just a come-on. He was totally manipulating Julian on multiple levels and making him guess what each weird signal meant.

3) The slim clothing style for him didn't persist much past S1-2, and in terms of his manner in observing clothing in general, I think it was part of his 'game' of always pretending to be Plain Simple Garak even while knowing no one believed it. He was always poking people about this, like a double wink.

4) I actually see this as being strategic rather than a personality trait. He uses violence exactly as often as needed, and no more. The difficulty of being too violent too often is it shortens your lifespan. Garak is all about surviving. Also been seen as physically threatening is something his image could not sustain, so I think he tried to minimize exposure to that side of him.

5) I think part of this is the self-hatred of his society, despite having been shaped by it. It takes us the entire series to see it, but his view of Cardassia is not to rosy-colored as he'd led us to believe in The Wire (when discussing The Never-Ending Sacrifice). And likewise, his view of himself. The self-critical part of himself, the one needing help in early S7, is probably the self-examining faculty lacking in the narcissistic Central Command people we meet. That being said, that preening attitude seems to be more a thing among power-hungry guls and legates rather than ordinary people, of whom we have little contact. Judging regular human behavior based on military officers ranked Captain and above would probably create a ridiculously skewed vision of us too.

6) To be fair Bashir's secret didn't exist at this point in the series; or at least the details of it didn't. Pillar's original plan for Siddig may or may not have been dropped by this point. And regarding Julian being anything other than a keener womanizer, I'm not sure there's evidence of it yet here. Garak just decided to take advantage of the green officer who could be gulled into thinking he was breaking into something important. Anyone less arrogant wouldn't have imagined they'd be the center of an amazing adventure. The scene where Julian asks to be bugged (a laugh every time) seals for me why Garak chose him, at least in terms of the scripting: it's because he's a brlliant dolt, the perfect tool to use. The idea that his looks has anything to do with it seems to me far-fetched.

In conclusion: I'm not writing all of this to denounce the theory. I guess I'm inclined to believe Robinson's statement about it. But like Chrome I'm not sure it matters. I don't quite see any evidence of it on-screen, and to whatever extent DS9 (unlike other Treks) really explored male-male non-sexual love in Bashir/O'Brien, Odo/Quark, and Garak/Bashir, the Garak parts of it fit right in with that and don't seem to me to be of a significantly different color. At least to my eyes.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 7, 2020, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

@ Some Garak Fan,

Thanks for adding all that info. I've never researched the matter and generally only confine myself to watching what's onscreen. As a kid I loved cons but over time I've come to actively avoid them and even avoid watching interviews, because basically it takes the magic away for me to see them out of uniform talking about the show. It's now a 'show' to me, it's a real place populated with real people. Taking the stuffing out puts me off. However that does result, on occasion, with me probably missing some information such as you just provided. If Robinson has repeatedly mentioned his take on Garak then I'm sure that's legit. I still can't say that really comes across clearly to me in Past Prologue (or even in The Wire), because since Garak is so opaque it's never clear what his motives are. And if the average TV viewer would notice flirting then so would Bashir, which he didn't, so perhaps we didn't either. It was probably smart for Robinson to cloak that aspect of his character. Or maybe it just got lost in the mix. It can often be tough to tell if you got your idea across clearly enough, and in this case if you're actually doing something contrary to the desires of the writing team or producers then you can't exactly go up to them and ask if the pansexual idea was evident in the work.

In hindsight I agree with Robinson in that thinking of Garak as gay, straight, pansexual, whatever, actually affects my understanding of him about zero. It basically doesn't matter, Which is maybe the point. Or at least it wouldn't to a futuristic alien dude who's an exile anyhow.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 7, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I have to grudgingly give one to Elliott about this episode. I recently watched What We Left Behind, where Andrew Robinson said very cdirectly that Garak was obviously gay in this episode, practically coming on to Julian with every word. Now to be honest I never saw that when I watched the episode, nor do I see it to this day even with this in mind. But I suppose I can see why it might be taken that way; Garak's slim fitting costume, his strange touching of Julian. I always took it as Garak trying to put him on edge; perhaps even to feed into what might be Julian's homophobia, since we can likely assume that a skirt-chaser might well be very self-consious about being seen as gay. Maybe that's a 20th century conceit, but I suspect that this hesitation to want to be seen as gay won't go away anytime soon.

The thing is, though, that Garak didn't end up written the way he did by accident. The writers clearly fed off Robinson, to the point where that's the only reason he was written back into the show in the first place. And I suspect that Robinson is a first class troll. So I am extremely hesitant to outright accept what he says about Garak clearly being gay, especially in a statement made now, about a show made 25 years ago, where there has been plenty of time in the interim to come up with theories about Garak. And Robinson eats that stuff up; so much so that he wrote his own Garak book. In which Garak was clearly not gay.

SPOILERS

But then that raises another point: maybe Robinson really did think of Garak as gay, until the writers screwed him over by giving him a Ziyal romance plotline. And once the series ended and Robinson wrote his book he was maybe stuck with the continuity they gave him, rather than his original conception of the character. It's pretty telling that Robinson made Garak straight in the book, since in theory he could have made him bi or anything else. It could even have been possible to imagine that his relationship with Ziyal was more for company and love than sexual attraction, and that he really was into guys and not ladies. Who knows.

So I'll give Elliott kudos for his certainty that Garak is gay, even though I'm not sure if Robinson was trolling us in the documentary or not. But he did say it, so that can't be ignored.
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Peter G.
Tue, Jan 7, 2020, 10:25am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Rejoined

I have a sneaking suspicion that the reassociation law has more to do with contract law than with emotional baggage. Imagine if you could have your head detached and re-attached to a new body. Would the 'new you' still be subject to contracts signed before? I doubt very much that the legal system can define which 'part of you' is entering into a contract. We can't argue it's "all of you" because you are constantly shedding skin and altering aspects of yourself. Your brain itself is not static. So there is some sort of vague continuity which we take for granted, but would become nearly impossible to chart if people could treat their body parts (or brains) as plug-and-play. I don't know how a society would cope if Altered Carbon was possible. Is it your mental "essence" that enters into a contract, or a relationship, or is the body relevant? If so, what about when Bareil's brain was largely computerized, but he had the same body? Was he still subject to old contracts even though he didn't even have the same personality or cognitive system any more?

In the case of the Trill we're dealing with a partial continuity from and old person, of which it's unclear how much of the previous remains. In Jadzia's case we have a slow arc where it's made very muddy how much of Curzon, for instance, is really still alive or not. Because it would be an endless cycle of debts and burdens, I think Trill society basically had to outlaw any continuity from past lives in any strict legal sense. The problem there is that society and law are usually in a sort of sympatico, and it would naturally be very difficult to pretend that all bets are off from a past life even though you're maintaining the same relationships. How can you be legally absolved of obligations to an old marriage if you're actively carrying on as if the marriage is still on? It would be impossible for the individuals in the society to function in this way. So I can see why they would need the law to be officially broader than just voiding contracts; they would need to 'unoficially' (but still with force) have social rules where you also *act as if* old contracts are voided, even romantic ones.

The trouble comes in when you have a relationship with no 'official' obligations. Are you really carrying something over, or are you just enjoying a new relationship? That's a question they could have done a better job investigating between Jadzia and Benjamin. Was their relationship a new one, or a continuation of Curzon's? Maybe there was something wrong with Ben calling her the old man. Ezri made a much clearer statement about that then Jadzia ever did.

All of that being said, I can't help but feel that the writing intent here really didn't explore any of those things. I would actually have liked a episode, maybe a follow-up to Dax, to discuss what exactly Trill society does need to do in order to function. But as it is Rejoined seems to me to *entirely* be about homosexual relationships. The rest of it is window dressing and 'sci-fi' stuff to place the modern gay theme in a futuristic setting. On the one hand that makes it clever, but as Ira Behr said in the documentary, it also made it somewhat craven since it wasn't "obviously" about gay relations. But although as Fenn points out no characters make a big deal about it being two women *in the script*, the entire problem itself is clearly that it's two women. We can tell this not only because we've never before seen the same issue brought up in context of a hetero relationship, but also because the showrunners clearly knew what they were doing with the two-women kiss. You can't pretend that's anything other than what it is, and all the rest of the dialogue will be understood in that context whether or not you want to pretend the story is about something else. So from that standpoint I think the intent here was clear enough. It was about how much are you going to risk to express love regardless of the threat society is focusing on you.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jan 2, 2020, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: For the Cause

What is it with everyone calling the Maquis the Marquis? What are they, a bunch of aristocrats?
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Generations

Sometimes it feels like the franchise never left the nexus.
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Peter G.
Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 12:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

@ Omicron,

Agreed, which is why I think it's a bit funny to disagree with warp drive being a good indicator of 'advancement'. Disagree on what basis? We don't know how tough it would be to invent, which is why I made the scale argument: if it's much harder than Trek would lead us to believe then perhaps it's a good indicator. Maybe it's not 'the line', but at the very least very clearly past the line where you should make contact with them. I don't see it as being an unreasonable standard, personally, although I also agree with the notion put forward that there could be parallel standards that could also permit first contact.
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Peter G.
Wed, Dec 18, 2019, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

@ Booming,

I think a more reasonable interpretation of Jason R's comment could avoid the insinuation that he's calling leading scientists a bunch of children. There is a much better way to frame the issue, and it involves an analogy just like the 8,000,000 km walk that a little kid thinks they can do since they can walk downtown. The issue is about timeframe. Given infinite time I personally have no doubt that we will be able to juggle galaxies like Q can do. However the fact that matter might be amenable to manipulation using incredibly advanced techniques doesn't give us even remotely a comprehension of just how tough that next quantum leap in technology would be. Will the next thing comparable to the computer age happen in 100 years, or in a million? No way to know.

Sci-fi's usual failing is in woefully mistaking how hard certain things really are to achieve. In TNG for instance, we see PADD's which looked super cool at the time, like, 'futuristic' and all that. Thing is, we already had stuff better than PADDs a mere 20 years later (granted, not run with isolinear chips). But Trek also had warp drive being developed around 2063, which is reminiscent - but far more egregious - of Back to the Future's flying car system by 2019 or whatever. Such infrastructure changes, and the necessary AI accompaniment, are far more costly and difficult than they perhaps thought; but it's a fun movie so whatever. But warp drive? That might take 10,000 years to achieve, if it's even possible. Frank Herbert is one of the few sci-fi authors to have the good sense to set Dune 20,000 years in the future, as he saw it as unrealistic to expect grand advancements too soon. His timeframe is arbitrary, but at least it recognizes that some discoveries may be so far-off that they may as well be impossible from the standpoint of current planning purposes.

So when discussing the PD, having warp drive may or may not be a good indicator of advancement. In Trek they seem to think it is; some here think othewise; but really we don't know. The gist seems to be that if an alien can come to you then there's no point avoiding them. But whether they really means they're 'advanced' would have to do with how hard it is to achieve warp drive, which we can't actually assess. Do we expect transporters would be easier or harder than warp drive? At present it woudl seem to be impossible (Heisenberg compensators) - but is it? Maybe it's waaaay easier than warp drive, and for all we know could come in a fraction of the time. Or maybe in 10x the time; or maybe it's impossible.

But just for comparison's sake, assuming we had a policy in North America of leaving native villages alone if they have no contact with outside civilization, if we saw them flying around in stealth bombers you'd better believe we'd be making contact with them.
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Peter G.
Tue, Dec 17, 2019, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

@ Top Hat,

Interesting point. On the one hand I'd have to assume that Starfleet's primary mission guidelines come down from the Federation council, and thus have civilian oversight. On the other hand, their rules may be different in some cases from civilian rules. However in an age where warp-capable vessels are available for regular use by citizens I find it hard to believe that while Picard is hiding under a hill watching the Mintakans with binoculars civilian ships can land freely on the planet and teach them how to make transparent aluminum. So this element of Trek - let's call it the detailed world-building - is really not on the menu in terms of giving us great amounts of detail. The relationship between the Federation at large and Starfleet in particular is hazy at the best of times, and frequently enough it seems to me that Starfleet's policies are treated as basically being the views of Federation citizens.
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