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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Trent,

I was going to avoid responding to your list of 'reactionary' examples, many of which I don't think quite fit the way you're portraying them, but I do want to address this issue of the Federation "repeatedly violating" so-called Dominion space. In context of the series I think it's 100% crystal clear that the Dominion's territory, in their own eyes, was simply everything, and that anyone who didn't submit to them was in 'violation' of their space. Their actual empire certainly didn't extend anywhere near to as far as the wormhole, and based on the numerous expeditions to the GQ it seems clear that they had to go out of their way to send ships to the wormhole area to clear away the Bajoran colony and other matters. They were basically claiming the entire GQ for themselves, which is ridiculous. Or at least, it's ridiculous to expect anyone to recognize that kind of claim. And I've made this point before, but there's no actual such thing as "Dominion space". What we call "Klingon space" or "Romulan space" is only the result of wars, leading to a treaty signing where both sides mutually recognize borders and agree to obey them. Absent a treaty there is no official border; there is only one side making some obscure claim that the other side has no part of other than that they know it's coming as a threat.

If the Federation allowed other major powers to dictate their borders at will, guess where they would be? The Romulan border would no doubt include Earth itself and I guess the unhappy Federation would have to vacate since they don't want to tresspass. But that's not how it works: both sides instead need to sit down and hash it out so that there's no mistake. The AQ neutral zones were hugely important in Trek stories, and these were the result of negotiations. But the Dominion refuses to sit and deal, instead remaining obscure and only presenting themselves deceitfully after some time for observation and consideration, and the Federation is supposed to just bow down to whatever territorial claims they make? There would be no Federation if they operated like that. And putting aside even the issue of the borders, we know pretty much on the say-so of the Founders themselves that they would never feel safe under any circumstances with solids running around freely. Their intent from day one was to completely dominate (DOMINION) the AQ, and the process they went through was to figure out the best way to do this.

I'm making this nitpick because amidst a discussion of what is or isn't supposed to be a Trek ethos, I do think we need to be a bit clear about what the canon acutally says. And it never says that an evolved and ethical Federation culture is supposed to lie down and let tyrants have their way with no opposition. One thing the Klingons end up admitting is that the Federation are no pushovers, and we need to separate this fact from a modern day understanding of powerful nations, where it seems the only option at present is to be either a pushover or an imperialistic bully. But in the future we hope there will be the possibility of being strong without being abusive.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Booming,

"But Nation building is also a legitimate term used to describe stabilizing a country. Only because the Yankees used it to describe their wars is not the fault of the term. Shouldn't we listen to Wagner only because Hitler loved him... ok admittedly Wagner was antisemitic... hmmm. "

It's true that it *can* mean something altruistic...except that it never seems to. And if a term like this is being used in an American show in a time of American exceptionalism, I guess I'll drawn my own conclusions about what it's implying. Perhaps we'll see more of what Cornwall meant by it later.

@ Jammer,

"From there it's not hard for me to imagine that Section 31 at some point became an official arm of Starfleet Intelligence, if that's even what we are seeing here. And that arm could be completely dissolved and disavowed sometime in the next 100+ years, which is plenty of time for someone like Bashir to believably not have heard of them in the 24th century, where they could've been spun up again as an underground rogue operation."

Agreed, it's not impossible. I do think it's a retcon, but as you point out the retcon would be no problem on its own if the reason for its employment was meaningful, which remains to be seen. Others have suggested that it's a cheap way to introduce non-Trek plot elements under the guise of "but it's Section 31 stuff!" which may or may not turn out to be the case. S1 was rife with this device, instead using MU Lorca as the excuse for why anti-Trek attitudes were being shown. So now what needs to be shown is: do the showrunners really do espouse the Trek ethos, and desire to use these devices to show off antagonists to this ethos (Lorca, M-Georgiou, and now Sec-31) or do the showrunners basically prefer to have unethical plotting (from a Trek standpoint) and recognize that they need to excuse it? I guess you'll have to judge the integrity of this situation as it goes along.

I'll just throw in what my head canon is based on DS9's representation of Sec-31, because it's a bit far from what they're showing here. I sort of understood it to be the case that an old military organization (Starfleet) that had black ops and other arms that most high-ups were unaware of (just like the current military), and that some of these were really off the radar. So maybe a blend between military black ops and the CIA in this sense. At the time of the Federation's founding their activities would have become illegal, much like how the CIA and FBI were far from the ideals of the UN when it was first founded, and how they had to operate sort of underground, officially denying all of these activities. The CIA was supposedly reigned in around the 70's, but I believe all that happened was that it went further underground. So back to our topic, I think that like any dug-in group 31 would have gone deep underground in order to avoid scrutiny from the new Federation charter, and from that moment on operated basically autonomously, using resources it had already gathered for itself to maintain its activities. For instance if it needed a Federation lab, it wouldn't go in "as Sec-31", but would already have created fake credentials that made it look like an official assignment; what would the scientists know about this if the person giving the instructions had what looked like legitimate orders from Starfleet intelligence? Using guile and craft they could do all their maneuvering under the rader, with at best a minimal amount of people actually being in on it outright. By the time of DS9 this would be little more than a myth if it was known at all, to the point where they would have become completely concealed and all activities would have a front to go along with it that could be the 'legitimate' explanation of the resources being allocated. I never imagined it as being official past the founding of the Federation, and I think that's exactly why this point was mentioned, because the Federation would never have tolerated it, nor would the member races. It was deep cover rogue people acting basically as private vigilantes, but where Starfleet was sort of inclined to not chase them because they recognized that this group (a) got things done, and (b) could be denied as being part of the Federation, because they really weren't. *This* is the tidy arrangement that Odo pointed out. I don't think he meant at all to suggest that Starfleet was actually conducting illegal operations and then denying it; that's not tidy, that's just commonplace deceitful politics. What's tidy is denying it and telling the truth as you do it, knowing that 31 will still do their thing. I think it's more like Batman than anything else; this masked 'criminal' who helps Gotham. And were they to go after him it would cost them a lot even though he's violating ordinary civil law. The way Cornwall describes the situation it's basically analogous to the contemporary U.S., which is neither novel nor interesting. It's literal reality, so why do we especially need to see it in a sci-fi setting? So yeah, I really do think it's a violation of canon, inasmuch as we can establish the scanty information we do have as canon. It also violates common sense, I think, because the stability of the Federation really, *really* depends on their true honesty, not just official honest. Hypocrisy on their part would be their doom in so many ways. Basically it would mean that the Romulans and Cardassians are right and that the Federation are just better liars than the Obsidian Order.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ John Harmon,

"To have actual Starfleet agree with them ruins it in my opinion. Cornwell said "nation building isn't easy". In a post scarcity society it would be. "

She actually said this in an episode? Oh lord. In modern terms that's a euphemism for regime change in foreign governments and quasi-imperialism in rich countries dictating policy to weaker ones. It's one thing if she was meant to be an Admiral on the wrong side of the Trek ethos, who needs to be corrected. But from S1's arc it seemed pretty clear that she *was* Starfleet, as their only representative that we ever see (along with Sarek), and that therefore we are meant to take her statements as representing those of Starfleet as a whole. If she is now openly condoning 31 then that means so is Starfleet, and it's not just a question of a few people in Starfleet doing sneaky things and the rest of the organization failing to attack the cancer because it pulls strings (like Palpatine).

That doesn't sound concordant to me with how DS9 portrayed it, which was as something that outraged your average officer when learning about it. Even O'Brien, the most loyal guy in the fleet, basically resorted to what basically amounted to treason to try to deal with them.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 11:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Jammer has always been great as judging a show based on its own aspirations rather than what he might have preferred to see. It's another reason why comparing ratings he gives one series to those of another doesn't work.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

One big difference between Justice and The Apple (or Return of the Archons, or any of those) is that unlike Kirk, Picard *cannot* defeat the computer through force or guile. There is no chance here of simply deciding the fate of the Edo. Rather, Picard's only recourse is to actually engage in dialogue with their god and try to come to a compromise, and this is quite intriguing to note for those who claim that the only good solution to religion is to stamp it out. Justice at the very least seems to say that the advanced way to deal with those who potentially need help is through dialogue rather than through paternalistic force. Now the Edo don't actually reform or anything like that, but in a kind of way a compromise is reached at the end wherein both sides can have what they want without needing to harm each other. So maybe the message here about justice isn't that what the Edo had was phony justice (we really don't know) but rather that perhaps justice is best found when trying to solve it together, as opposed to trying to enforce our own dogmas on others. Even though I think the episode is pretty weak, this point is certainly an important Trek one, and an especially important one to establish early in the series. Doubly so because Picard becomes personally associated with this credo, and so we have an ethos tied up into a person so that it's no mere abstraction. That's good storytelling...or at least it would be if the episode was much fun to watch.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 1:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Gil,

Touche. But there's a certain territory associated with soaps, and perhaps your suggestion isn't so far from what I'm saying. The typical differences between a soap and a weekly included having more far-fetched and even deliberately outrageous stories, and usually more outlandish acting and we might even say worse actors generally speaking. To the point of the outrageous stories, those almost become a design element in soaps, as pushing the boundary of the absurd while yet creating that magical hook is sort of the bread and butter of keeping the viewing coming back the next day. We can imagine the cliche of "But aha! I was your brother all along!!" and it may well hit close to home in how the twists of DISC are conducted. Regarding the bad acting I actually think this may have been deliberate in many soaps rather than a result of thrift, since in a way having very natural, believable acting might well conflict stylistically with the oft silly nature of the stories. It sort of fits to have ham acting going along with ham stories, all of which have a sense of fun and outrageousness that may help rather than hinder. We might compare this to commedia or some kinds of sitcoms, where 'bad acting' is actually required for the effect to come off, where serious in-depth realism from the actors would take the wind out of the zaniness and weight all down. One must, in short, not just suspect disbelief for soaps of this sort to work, but even to eliminate it altogether and accept the premise as being fantastical rather than real; this isn't dissimilar from what happens in a roadrunner cartoon.

So I do think your comparison is a propos to what I'm suggesting, which is that a teaser-style "gotcha!" set of twists and absurd turns in what I'm calling the JJ style is fantastical rather than believable, and perhaps comparing this to a soap isn't the worst idea. I don't exactly even mean to denigrate soaps as I say this; or at any rate I should say that I admire cartoons and commedia and that absurd storytelling can be great. But I don't think Trek ever was or should be that. Some have pointed out that DS9's MU episodes, with their Alice in Wonderland vibe (which I really do enjoy) seem to be the basic storytelling style of DISC, which I guess is legit if Trek is meant to be a nonsensical romp, but in my opinion that would be a catastrophic loss compared to what it could be. Not that ENT or most of the TNG films were groundbreaking or even acceptable, so I'm not of the "what have they done to my Trek!" camp. More like, ugh, more drek, what a shocker. I had become beaten down by it before DISC was ever created, so it's not really like this came as some surprising alarm to me.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:16am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Brian,

"It is, unless you’re referring to the larger arcs which of course take the season to explain. That’s not a JJ Abrams creation, it’s a part of serialized storytelling adapted to streaming television. In a streaming format, you can binge watch an entire season because it’s supported and encouraged by the service. Lost was a typical 24 episode/season show with a self-contained mystery and an ending leading to another mystery with the overarching plot being something like Voyager, i.e. when will the characters get off the island safely?"

JJ didn't invent serialized long-format storytelling, but either spearheaded or at least popularized long-form teasing where the audience is being dragged through a series of improvisations where there's no planned payoff but they're making it up week by week. The typical reaction to such developments is "what!? how are they ever going to explain how *that* happened??" when some new over-the-top thing is revealed. Surely you're right that this must have occurred before LOST, but LOST perfected it and certainly made it notorious. When comparing LOST to, say, the 24 show, the big difference is that 24 seems to have the arc planned in advance with the occasional need to improvise due to casting issues and the like, but overall the story really was going somewhere. Although even that show did excel at cliffhanger endings, and in that respect LOST wasn't unique. Actually LOST didn't even employ cliffhangers all that often and tended instead to introduce borderline fantastical narrative elements that would seemingly be impossible to explain at first glance; and likewise over the top character developments that seemed like chaos except that we were assured it was all to some ultimately planned purpose. It's mostly this aspect I'm referring to with DISC. But I can see how there was a need for me to elaborate a bit on what I meant, so thanks for the comment to help me clarify.
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Peter G.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Bold Helmsman,

"Why are you bringing up Lost? There are no long running JJ style mystery boxes here?"

I'm not sure what your second question means. Do you mean to agree that S1 was a JJ style mystery box, or to suggest that there were no mystery boxes in DISC so far? If the latter, I would suggest watching S1 again and asking yourself, episode by episode, 'is it possible to understand what I just watched with no further explanation?' If the answer is no, and that the answer to the mysteries requires making it to the end of the season, then you're in a JJ style mystery box.

@ Omicron,

"Why would any sane person prefer to trust the showrunners rather than trust their own eyes and brains? If they say that their show "follows canon in awesome ways" and our very eyes prove otherwise, then that's evidence enough that they are either stinking liars or they have absolutely no idea what they're doing (or - in all probability - both).

We don't need esoteric behind-the-scenes information to tell us this. "

I didn't say we required the theory in order to realize this; only that the theory would be *relevant* to this point.
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Peter G.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

There is one reason I can see why the 'conspiracy theory' might be relevant. And please note as I say this that I'm not commenting on the legitimacy of the theory itself. For those who watched LOST when it *first aired* you will all be familiar with the most asked question at that time: do they really know what they're doing, or are they stringing us along? And if you indeed watched at that time - whether just for a season or two, or until the end - then you'll recall that there was a bit of a divide among fans, some of which loved what they were seeing and trusted in the storytellers, and others who became more and more convinced that they were being teased and that the wizard of Oz was just playing a game the whole time with no real solution in mind. The producers *promised* that they knew the whole time where things were going, and those claims ringed very much the same way as the current claims do that DISC is obeying canon in *awesome* ways that are *totally loyal* to the other series and that it will all *totally make sense* if you trust them. I'm telling you - these claims are a carbon copy of those from the LOST team, and in my opinion we're dealing with more or less the same team. Kurtzman is right out of J.J's crew, and especially now that he's really in charge it will be even more blatantly in his style. I find it hard to believe that anyone who was of adult age while LOST was airing would believe the same story from the same crew, when it became not only apparent but embarassingly so that the showrunners of LOST were not only playing fast and loose with their fanbase but in fact were blatantly lying through their teeth about it to everyone. And I'll point out that Fringe, while not quite as guilty as LOST in this respect, mostly due to airing for much less time, was still plenty guilty of improvise-itis where answers were promised but more often than not the writers had written themselves into a corner and had to solve situations with absurd magical solutions within what was claimed to be a sci-fi setting. The 'magic' in Fringe is very much akin to that in DISC from what I can tell at present.

And so in conclusion the reason the conspiracy theory is of interest isn't because it has value in interpreting the content of the show, but rather because it may serve as a gauge about how trustworthy the showrunners are. My instinct is to suppose that they are liars, and perhaps if the theory was true this would further the notion that they will say more or less anything that hypes their show and that post-truth isn't just something for the realm of politics and university.
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Peter G.
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

@ Chrome,

Fair question. In general I don't think the issue of Garak's actual assets is one I've ever given thought to, nor it is one I think I was meant to give thought to. It's mentioned here to give important to the mission at hand and for little other long-term purpose. Neither were these contacts mentioned before nor are they mentioned again - even in context of their absence. To the extent that the plot succeeded in turning the Romulans, that point sticks in the series; but to the extent of any minutiae that go down, such as Quark knowing SIsko has his price, or that Garak lost his operatives, or that Bashir had a major ethical grievance about the gel; or that Sisko's conscience weighs on him - all of these points are a one-off affair that aren't reprised. DS9 was serialized for the time, but not so serialized as that where small points would be mentioned again. And when minor points are re-used in the series, such as the dart board, the Alamo. beetle snuff, Sisko's baseball, Dax's penchant for dating weird people; all of these are made a big deal of to establish the continuity. Small points seem to rarely be re-used as story points since I suppose the series still had to pay general lip-service to the notion that new audience members could tune in anytime and not feel left out.

Is that a reasonable answer to your question? Basically I think the contacts are irrelevant to the broader DS9 world and are useful only as a plot point in this one. My suggestion, at any rate, is not so much the plot point that Garak has lost much in this affair (which the actor surely doesn't play up if we're meant to buy into this idea) but rather that *Sisko* is meant to understand that much has now been lost but that it can be made to count for something.
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Peter G.
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

The reason to lie to Sisko is simple: sunk cost fallacy. Get Sisko on board enough to feel somewhat committed. Then upon learning at how much the attempt has already cost them (lives of agents), coupled with the fact that Garak was only doing this to help Sisko and now it has cost him both his own power at home plus the lives of his countryment, and Garak has effectively leveraged this into Sisko feeling like he owes Garak something and ought to continue for his sake.

And in fact this isn't a mere speculation, but is continued later on when Sisko has already accepted the data crystal plan, and Garak informs him of the difficulty in procuring Tolar's help and the need for the gel: the sunk cost fallacy rears its head yet again, where "we're already gone this far and spent so much...but if you won't do this then I guess it's all over then..." which is manipulative to a T. And the amazing part is Sisko knows exactly that he's doing it, and yet goes along because while manipulative it's Garak's ironic way of showing Sisko that the stakes had been this high already from the start, even though Sisko didn't want to see it that way. Garak eases him into accepting what he believed deep down at the episode's start: namely that we've come too far to chicken out on account of small things. Garak tells him this point blank: that he needed Garak because he could do the things Sisko couldn't. And this doesn't just include assassination, but almost more importantly means awakening that voice inside Sisko that knew they needed the Romulans. Garak's 'excuses' were the means to get Sisko to believe what he couldn't get himself to accept on his own.

And this is exactly why Garak would have lied: because Sisko needed it. He needed to know how much was at stake, that much had been lost, and that backing out would be devastating to the Federation. Had Garak merely said from the start "well we'll just make a fake data crystal" Sisko wouldn't have been far enough along in believing his own conviction to accept that this was really what he wanted. So Garak had to develop his commitment a little first. I actually am inclined to believe this is what happened, and that it's not just my head canon.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: The Emperor's New Cloak

I think I'm the only one on this board that likes this episode...
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@ Quincy,

I think you're really sidetracking from the main issue here, although to be fair Jason R. is also suggesting a side issue, which is that maybe Riker was justified given what we see. But I for one am willing to grant that what we see in The Vengeance Factor was botched straight-up. I'm 100% convinced that the writing and directing meant for us to accept that there was literally no other way to stop Yuta. The fact that you (and I) see that there was another way is a technical storytelling gaff, and I will be the first to back you up that this was a shame because otherwise I think I know what they were getting at.

The story was *supposed to be* about how you can be perfectly all set up for exactly one thing, and be ill-disposed to have any other purpose. This is shown to us in many ways:

-The Gatherers have an entire culture based on being rejected from their world and having to live by any means necessary. They are not set up properly to coexist peacefully and are uniquely disposed to survive as they do. This is why it's so hard to consider repatriating them.
-Yuta's purpose in life is solely geared towards vengeance and nothing else, so that it's nearly impossible for her to consider ever living another way.
-Riker and Yuta have that magical 'thing' that makes them like each other, and are set up by nature to want to be together. They could not avoid liking each other as that is how they're put together,
-Riker could not be any other way but do his duty and stop Yuta, no matter what he feels.

All of these genetic or predisposed traits make each party do what they have to do even if it hurts them. I think part of the episode's message is that the feeling for vengeance is actually hard-wired and would take an incredible amount of work to overcome, just as it would nearly impossible to change a culture like the Gatherers without considerable efforts. It's a very Trek message. And along with this message is the terrible realization for Riker that just as his biology is hard-wired to love Yuta, his sense of duty is hard-wired to stop her, which involves killing her, sacrificing his love of passion for his love of duty. He has the ability to overcome his hard-wired biology for the needs of the many, which the Gatherers are not yet culturally advanced enough to do. *That* is supposed to be the message, and his killing her is meant to be a tragic result of someone of advanced morality getting mixed up with someone good for him but whose biological nature takes her over and prevents her living up to better ideals. He has to kill that part of himself (the savage, the passionate) to serve the greater ideal, which is painful. That is exactly the sort of sacrifice the Gatherers would need to learn how to make to advance towards peace.

This is a great message on its face, even though I think the episode is needlessly mired in annoying scenes and is overall not that interesting in terms of plotting. And I certainly don't feel the great desire to see Riker together with Yuta (note that this is supposed to be a Kirk-Edith Keeler scenario) and therefore I don't feel the tragedy as we realize she must die. Instead we see a too-hasty love arc culminating in a muddled final scene where the staging is all wrong and the killing theatrical but unnecessary. But thematically it was meant to be absolutely necessary. Jason R. is right that the story requires that it be necessary, even though I agree with you that as we see it on screen things don't make sense.

But this is why the comparison between this and T'Kuvma's killing is off-base: In the TNG scene we have a clear storyline need botched by bad execution, which otherwise would have made sense and would show Riker as a superior man who knows to sacrifice his needs for the needs of others. In the DISC scene we have both a botched execution (forgivable, if sad) AND a botched concept. What were we supposed to gather if it had been shot correctly, after all? Either way it seems like we're stuck with a questionable character arc. Either Michael knows her mentor is dead, deliberately chooses the kill setting, and murders a Klingon to take vengeance and botch the mission (thus making her a criminal); or else if they had more clearly shot it as her killing T'Kuvma to save her mentor, only later discovering she failed and her mentor died anyhow, then instead we have someone who valued her mentor over the mission, botching things but perhaps understandably panicking when danger was afoot. This second case (which was not shot but was perhaps intended) would still make Michael derelict in her duty, but perhaps could serve to show someone who values personal love over duty. Amazingly if we're going to compare this result (which I'll remind you wasn't what they shot, but being charitable perhaps what they intended) to The Vengeance Factor then in fact the intention would have been to show that Michael is *not* as moral or good a role model as Riker, in that she will sacrifice the good of others for what she sees as her own personal wants. But that's still a human thing to show and would be legit, but would in no way recommend her as a role model. Instead it would show her to be a flawed person who perhaps needs to reform and learn the Trek way of thinking (the needs of the many...).

And recall: the main argument isn't that Michael is a monster - that's a straw man. The argument is that she *is not* a role model no matter how hard the writers try to portray her as one. Or if she is a role model, it is not one of Trek values but perhaps of some other set of values. Given the current intellectual climate in America I could, for instance, see Michael as being a case supporting the notion that "your feelings are more important than any kind of nebulous objective truth that others claim exists; so follow your feelings, not your intellect." If *that* were the working premise then actually Michael would be an exemplar of that from start to finish in the series. And maybe that's where I've been going wrong in my thinkings. I've been assessing her thus far as being a failure of Trek values; but maybe she was never supposed to be representing Trek values. Maybe DISC overtly espouses other values and has meant to supplant Trek values. In fact the more I think about it the more this makes sense and is consistent with other aspects of S1. Hmmmm....
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 9:12am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@ Booming,

"Isn't Burnham wrong sometimes. During the last episode she almost killed Saru. And we have a whole debate here how wrong it was to shoot T'Kuvma. She also saved evil Georgiou. She destroyed here relationsship with Spock. She sought Sareks advice several times when she wasn't sure what to do. What is a Mary Sue then? Just a woman who is right 80% of the time?"

We need to distinguish between what we, the viewers, think about her actions, versus what the writers are trying to get us to believe. Those aren't the same thing much of the time in this series, I feel. Of all the things you listed (I haven't watched S2 at all so I can only speak about S1) *I* agree that she did bad things. But the way others on the show defer to her I'm 99% certain that she's meant to be portrayed as being correct. Who on the show chewed her out for saving Mirror Georgiou, for instance? On the contrary, "Starfleet" (meaning Cornwall and Sarek, who represent all of Starfleet) approved of it and even used her instrumentally in their plans. Shooting T'Kuvma? Never mentioned again by anyone. Saru? Portrayed as doing what she thought best, no doubt. For the Spock stuff, would you like to lay down money that it's revealed that she behaved charitably towards him and it was his own "issues" that caused their rift? From what I've read of the reviews it sounds like Spock is being built up to be a big troublemaker, maybe who later reforms. In other words, they're writing him to be what Burnham actually is but the writers pretend she isn't. Maybe that's called projection.

One thing is clear: their agenda throughout S1 was to portray Burnham as being the one voice of reason, the only one who could do what no one else could, the only savior of the tardigrade, the savior of the MU, the savior of Earth (and bane of the Klingons), Whatever else we may say of her - like her, hate her, whatever - I believe it's beyond dispute that she was meant to be understood to be the best at everything and the hero of the day whenever occasion needed. She's the Captain America of the ST universe. But I agree with you that she was, in fact, wrong many times. What I disagree about is that the writers were aware of it. I'm pretty darn sure they weren't, or when they *became* aware of it they tried to whitewash it and pretend it never happened.
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Peter G,
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:01am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

Just for clarity in my last post, "quick close quarters encounter" was meant to describe the first surprise incident with a Klingon when Burnham defends herself.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:00am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@ Tim C,

"Yair, she's not obligated to do jack. She could indeed go back to prison rather than continually risking her life on dangerous missions with the Disco surrounded by people who have shunned her; it's a conscious choice to do so, and one that's redemptive in of itself."

She wanted to serve in Starfleet anyhow; it wasn't some sacrifice to continue to do so. You think it's a penance to allow someone to keep doing what they always wanted to do anyhow? That's like saying a teacher that violates a student serves penance by continuing to teach when they could just as soon have quit. The penance is *not* doing the thing you always dreamed of!

"the shit that Burnham goes through in the Disco premiere would break almost anyone, and I've known people who've fallen apart over far less."

What did she go through? All I can think of initially is that she had to defend herself in a quick close quarters encounter. I doubt this is enough to break most soldiers, although perhaps for a human (not a Vulcan!) it would shake them up some if it was their first combat. Past that, we immediately get into the ship to ship standoff, where Burnham mutinies in order to strike first. Are you saying that in your professional experience as a soldier that your average soldier would break orders, knock out their CO, and order a first strike against a *potential* hostile without consulting a superior? I'll follow this up in a moment:

"Seems to me the armchair critics could stand to ask themselves how they would handle a similar situation. I suspect they'd have a reaction like Data: "I cannot allow this to continue"."

I know you're talking here about once Burnham is on the Klingon ship, but backtrack a bit to the mutiny and order to fire first, because the events you're describing are a desperate attempt to dial back what Burhnam wanted to escalate in the first place. Do you believe most soldiers would have done the same as her and decided to fire first, even putting aside the mutiny angle? Would they have broken under these extraordinary circumstances? In case you
are thinking of saying yes, I'll remind you of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a not dissimilar event except that in the case of the CMC the stakes were far (FAR!) higher. So much higher, in fact, that there literally could not be a more tense situation imaginable, and I don't use that phrase lightly. And nobody in that scenario felt the uncontrollable urge to fire first, and certain persons even took extra measures to prevent their side firing first. This is exhibit A on how much self-control real-life humans have even under top-tier tension. And the Russians were every bit as feared as the Klingons here, with the proviso that the Klingons never had the capability to wipe out all human life with one button.

The one thing I'll grant about the events *following* this is that, once on the Klingon ship, seeing her mentor die could cause someone to break, and if Burnham did then she should require counseling. I also suspect that should would have gotten the insanity plea and gone into rehabilitation, rather than being sentenced as if she did what she did with full knowledge of her acts. Since she accepted her sentence I take this to be testimony by her that she did not break but knew what she was doing (at least regarding the mutiny). However I find the argument generally dubious that your average soldier would lose it after having volunteered for the equivalent of a high stakes black ops mission. Don't think groundpounder right out of basic: think Navy Seals. You don't volunteer for that kind of mission (or even insist on it) if you'll totally lose it when your teammate dies. That shows a general unfitness. And regarding whether she was actually justified in the killing, do you believe, as a military man, that it's justified to break orders in the heat of the moment for revenge, on the grounds that "it was a bad guy anyhow"? In your experience, what would happen to a soldier who knowingly defied the CO's orders in the field?
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 2:01am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@ Tim C,

If you're going to try to argue a point (and it's great to do so!) then you'd best try first to actually sort of what it is people are saying before you argue against it. Nobody is damning Burnham for committing a murder. Indeed, there could be a very nice way to explore how a character deals with doing a murder, and how they might get past that and reform. The actual critiques have nothing to do with her being a murderer. They have to do with the idea that she's supposed to be a role model; and further, that despite having done a murder and never shown repentance for it we're suppose to think she learned something from it and it now a wonderful person.

The Most Toys is not Data's character per se but is about asking how high the stakes would have to be before it's legitimate to kill someone not in self defense. What if you know for certain they will kill others if you do nothing? Or to put it in the most extreme form, would you kill Hitler, knowing what he'd do later? I don't know if there's an easy answer, and certainly in Data's case we don't get follow-up episodes to deal with it because the show wasn't allowed episodic continuity. But if you've read the discussion on the thread for that episode you'll see that there is some debate about what Data's actions meant.

However on a serialized show to have a blatant murder, which, as Jason R. puts it, also happened to scuttle a mission and start a war, and then to have no postmortem discussion about it, no repentance, no weighing the decision, even that would be ok narratively if she was subsequently treated as a suspect character. The galling thing, I think, is chiefly that we're expected to view her as the voice of reason and the wisest of them all when clearly she's the most depraved and most in need of help. They have the whole thing ass-backwards. And make no mistake, we would have greatly enjoyed a story about a murderer who needs to slowly learn Starfleet's lessons from inside the pit in order to climb back out again.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@ Thomas,

Are you trying to say that it's the same thing to pre-preemptively ATTACK someone you suspect may be hostile rather than to seek a dialogue, as compared to declining to stick your neck out and risk your crew to help an enemy that may double cross you and kill you for trying? These are so far apart that it's ridiculous.

That being said Kirk is not entirely in the right here, and his concern about the Klingons comes from his son being murdered by then, not from the command principles we saw in TOS. He is a much more wounded person by the time of STVI. To whatever extent his attitude at the beginning of STVI comes from a place of pain rather than principle, the entire movie is about exactly that. In "The Vulcan Hello" there is basically no content about Burnham's wrongness and what she has to learn in order to realize why she was wrong. Since she never learns much of anything in S1 the comparison seems especially odious to me.
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:26am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Code of Honor

That summary is double plus accurate
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Peter G.
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

@ Cody B,

In the TOS episode The Savage Curtain, which is the premiere episode illustrating how racism no longer exists, the episode needed to overtly mention racism and that Lincoln had no ill intention in order for Uhura to be able to reply that she wasn't offended. Do you see? The episode needed to bring it up, one way or another, to draw attention to it. Now, in Uhura's case she wasn't fixating on it personally but was responding to what Lincoln said, so you might argue that this is different from when Sisko himself brings it up. And that is a difference, but then again they're different people. True, they both "represent Trek" since they're black people on a Trek show, but by insisting that they represent it the same way cuts out what makes them different as people. She is a peaceful character, whereas Sisko is a troubled character who has much more trouble getting over painful things. That's in their character bibles and supports them taking a different view. So it's not that because Trek needs to show that racism is behind us that the show must ignore the topic: on the contrary, it must bring it up, and *how* it brings it up in these two cases tells us about the individual personalities of the characters. It makes no sense to me that Sisko *be* Uhura, or anything else for that matter, other than himself. And it's not inconsistent in the slightest for him to be concerned with oppressed peoples. That's kind of what his entire job is on this show.
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Peter G.
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Price

Regarding objection #6, it never could have been a contract for a stable wormhole. That neither makes business nor legal sense, and in fact is an utter impossibility. Thus far there had been no such thing as a stable wormhole and therefore science could have offered no explanation about what such a thing even is, how it remains there, or whether it's stable in the long-term. No contractual negotiation could possibly include in it a clause requiring that the seller guarantee in it a quality that science couldn't even define yet.

As with any other property negotiation you are free as the buyer to send in prospectors and to examine it yourself, but once you buy it the risk is yours. In property transactions the seller is often responsible for problems not disclosed that were not made available to witness on an inspection, but if an inspector looks directly at, say, the floor, says it's ok, and then a month later the floor breaks, that's the buyer's problem and they can complain to the inspector. But for a better analogy, it's more like buying a mine or an oil well. You buy it based on expected yield but once it's yours you takes your chances. The seller is certainly not responsible if it was sold in good faith and it turns out to be a dud and dries out. That is the entire risk of buying such things, and that is precisely the scenario that was painted here. The poker comparison is entirely apt, because since no one knew what a stable wormhole was they were all banking on it (a) being a real thing, and (b) that it would remain stable. Beyond that the seller cannot possibly be responsible for what happens down the line. The fact that it went wild in the very same episode is a conceit of short form storytelling.

The negotiations were never for a *stable wormhole*, they were for *that thing over there*, which everyone hoped was a stable wormhole. It's not like ordering a stable wormhole on Amazon, and when the product isn't as described you get a refund. They were buying a piece of real estate and whatever was contained on it, valuable or useless. Of course it's a risk. The episode makes many missteps, but this isn't one of them.
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Peter G.
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

@ Startrekwatcher,

Can you give some examples of heavily serialized shows in the 80's? If it proves difficult to come up with many then maybe one or two, and perhaps a couple from the 90's? I'm actually curious.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

To be honest, that relationship was a series of lost opportunities, because contrary to public opinion I actually think they were well-suited to each other. What Jadzia most needed in this series was someone to reign in the Curzon in her, which had by S6 gotten out of control, and what Worf most needed was someone to kick him in the butt enough to remind him that despite loving Klingon culture he was certainly no traditional Klingon. This latter point we learned as early as Redemption. So while what Jadzia wanted was a fling, what would be good for her would be to have something actually stable; and while what Worf wanted was traditional marriage, what Jadzia had for him was that life should be fun as well as serious, a point he had been continually been failing to appreciate. But as the series decided to show us that neither of them wants to change, I would tend to agree that they're therefore not ready for marriage. But that doesn't mean they're not right for each other, assuming we take the pairing to be a sign of what each of them needs. Naturally, if they're too pigheaded to realize they need it then there's going to be friction.

I think the missed opportunity is that the friction should have come out of the fact that each of them is right; that they need what the other has, and that while being stubborn is endearing in a "good old Worf" sort of way, that's not what a relationship should be about. They're both strong-willed, so no doubt any bending on this front was going to come through some fireworks, which is what it should have been, but ultimately the message Dax supposedly learns from Sirella should have been learned through being with Worf. And what's worse, Dax seems not to have learned that lesson either way; not in this episode, and not subsequently. She should be smarter than that: it's one thing to be an ass like Curzon, but another to be dense. And being dense doesn't make sense for Dax. So I do consider this aspect of the relationship a failure. But as a straight pairing, yeah, I always saw it making sense. And should it come as a surprise that Worf's previous relationships were a half-Klingon who hated Klingon culture, and a Betazoid? Dax was basically the next logical step in this progression, with Worf being satisfied with not having a traditional Klingon woman, and yet also having someone with some of the martial aspects of a Klingon. Who else other than Jadzia could possibly have ever been suitable for Worf?
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 7:05am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

@ Startrekwatcher,

"A superbeing or group of superbeings even if part of the series from the beginning coming in and saving the day is lazy writing."

If you believe they're superbeings does that mean you subscribe to the Bajoran religion? ;)

But seriously, all they did was forbid travel through their wormhole. If you had a problem with them having control of their own wormhole then your problem should have begun with the pilot, when it was stated that the wormhole was artificial.
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Peter G.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

@ Jason R.,

"Well that's the problem Peter, it isn't just the Prophets. Assuming the mutants' methods are effective, there is zero reason to suppose that someone like Weyoun, with the vast resources of the Dominion, isn't capable of the exact same feats of prediction."

This objection is reasonable if you want to be very technical, but raising it actually raises a much larger problem than you intend to. For instance if back-alley illegal engineering could produce Jack and the others, then assuming the Dominion really has mastered genetics they ought to be able to create an entire race of mental supermen, just as they already made combat supermen. Realistically, there's no reason why they couldn't do this. But if they had there would be no show, because the Dominion would sweep through the AQ in five seconds. So we must just take it as a conceit that they can't or won't do this. Maybe the Founders don't want minions smarter than they are, which could be logical, except that why can't they then...I dunno...shapeshift into being smarter too? The whole thing is a sci-fi black hole and I think for the purpose of the show we're forced to conclude that *no one* can safely create a race of mutant geniuses, and that the Jack Pack are completely unique. And even they wouldn't have been capable of anything except for Julian helping them, so in terms of storyline we could argue that their capacity to conduct military strategy was an unexpected possibility that normally wouldn't have been possible without Julian focusing them. Just like the AI, or telepathy, genetic engineering is a topic that Trek has always made brief comments on but clearly never wanted to invest time to explain as a topic of its own. I basically think that this ep is a Foundation nod, including psychohistory being legit, but the internal logic of it ends around there.

"Indeed, I don't see it as a co-incidence that the writers chose to have the mutants base their predictions on the assumption of an *earth* based rebellion. That was intentional. "

To be fair, this might have been a nod to the Foundation series as well (that Earth had been the instigator for progress all along).

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