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Jason R.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Chrome, I should explain what I meant by "easy" in this context. I don't mean to suggest that Picard's actions were easy in the sense that they required no personal courage or sacrifice in any sense. Obviously surving torture, choosing to destroy the ship rather than submit to inhumane experiments etc. are all difficult things requiring tremendous integrity and conviction.

But I'm talking about a *moral* sacrifice here. I am saying that Picard's choices are easy in the sense that they don't require him to sacrifice his principles the way Sisko does in ITPM. Picard choosing to endure torture rather than surrender, or blowing up the ship rather than submit to experiments, affirm his own personal sense of morality. He may lose his crew or his life, but for a man like that (and Starfleet officers) those are acceptable stakes and indeed, it is what they signed up for.

If Picard had chosen to let Nagolim kill half the ship to save the rest, or if he had chosen to use Hue as a weapon against the borg, that would have been a true sacrifice for a man like Picard.

Why didn't he? Because the show never really permitted us to test that resolve with stakes that could truly move the needle. Would Picard have let Hue go if he knew the Federation would be assimilated as a result, if the wolves were really at the door and a cube was on its way to Earth?

Picard was a man who captained the flahship of the Federation, set policy, had a huge role in its strategic operations and policy, yet somehow got away with never sullying his own conscience, never having to compromise his personal integrity for a greater good. I just don't buy that.

Unfortunately, TNG always cheated, refusing to really put a man like Picard's feet to the fire the way Sisko was. In ITPM there is no doubt in my mind that Sisko made the right choice. I agree with Sisko that one officer's self respect was a small price to pay. Picard, in my view, got off lightly in TNG.



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Jason R.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 5:36am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

The problem with TNG is that outside perhaps one episode (I Borg, to be specific) Picard's choices were never all that hard, at least as I always saw it. Doing the right thing, by 24th century Picardian standards, is relatively easy when you're the captain of a Galaxy Class starship at the vanguard of an interstellar federation that is simultaneously virtuous and all-powerful.

Most of Picard's moral dilemmas entailed choosing the sacrifice of strangers (Pen Pals, Symbiosis, the one with Worf's Brother...) or alternatively, the sacrifice of crewpeople where in the end it isn't even necessary and the price need not be paid (eg Justice, When the Bough Breaks).

In the Pale Moonlight, and to a lesser extent, Paradise Lost, are rebukes of that fraudulent TNG era Roddenberry morality where humans are supposedly *better* yet where that concept is never tested. Saints in paradise is right.

The irony with Silicon Avatar is that I don't even think it should have been much of a dilemma. The Enterprise could have blasted the entity to pieces with its phasers any time it pleased. They were either going to convince it to behave or destroy it. Picard's position was not all that radical.

I Borg should be the much more controversial episode. That should have been Picard's ITPM moment. But since he never had to pay the piper and take responsibility for his decision (the Borg were transformed by Voyager into villain of the week cartoons) he once again got away with being the Saint but dodging the lion's jaws.
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Jason R.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 5:25am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

"But indeed, control of one's thoughts is something to be striven for. By this I mean doing one's best to eliminate violent, immoral, and otherwise improper thoughts. The fact that this does not happen in the world around us is a real shame and the increase in violence is the sad result. Such things as violent videogames, television, and other "entertainment" (I use the word in quotes as it is anything but) is sadly condoned and again, the results speak for themselves"

Control of one's thoughts and emotions is indeed something to be strived for. But if it is your desire to have the state enforce this control through authoritarian means, then that is where most are going to part ways with you.

Indeed, assuming such technology existed, it would only be adopted society wide through the use of force. To think otherwise is utopian.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 9:43am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Boomer maybe we don't even disagree after all. You seem to be implying that CBS is selling the family silver to pay its rent for the month. In other words out of desperation. Cam't say I disagree.

And if they really think they are going to compete with Netflix? Then they're insane.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 9:40am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

"And as I pointed out 10 years ago Trek was basically a dead brand which still had value as a cultural phenomenon. In other words. Everybody knows Spock."

You're wrong on several points. First, Star Trek wasn't a "dead" brand. Dead brands don't have legions of fans writing fiction, attending conventions, playing card games, reading novels etc...

That was Star Trek's magic and its value. Movies would come and go, TV shows would rise and fall, but Trek was immortal.

It was never about mere recognition as you imply i.e. everyone knows Spock. That was exactly the wrong conclusion to draw. I am not discounting the value of name recognition, but that was only a fraction of the Trek brand's true value.

I will concede my retail analogy is not perfect, but it is a stark lesson in business of the dangers of diluting a brand beyond recognition. The masses are fickle. Those who fight in those murky waters for a true mass audience had better be titans, because not many are going to thrive.

Can CBS turn Trek into mass entertainment? Is that the optimal use of *this* brand? Maybe if you want to goose the stock price for a couple years so Mr. CEO can get his quarterly bonus. Is it a long term strategy to effectively stripmine Trek? I just don't see it.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 8:54am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Ubiq I agree completely that if it's good, that is, in some ways, all that matters. In theory if you made a Star Trek slapstick comedy a la Pink Panther, and it genuinely as funny as Pink Panther, it should be successful. But what are the odds of that happening?

Going back to my retail example, Coach could start producing $7,000 purses and go toe to toe with Prada and Chanel - but would they want to? Even if they could succeed on quality, on marketing, on rebranding, would it make any sense? Would it be an optimal use of resources?

Brands are investments. They are packed with value in terms of built-in audience, good will, expectations. When CBS purchased the rights to Trek, it paid for that package. So what sense does it make to wipe the slate clean and start over? Commercially, it makes no sense at all. If Trek isn't Trek, then what did CBS buy?
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 6:54am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Booming, these things are cyclical. I'm reminded of how branding goes in retail. A company like Coach has a brand name that stands for luxury, exclusivity. They have a loyal following. Someone logically says let's open many more stores, sell at outlets to the masses. It works, for a while. But over time, everyone has a coach purse. Everyone is buying that $400 purse for 50% off and before you know it Coach isn't luxury anymore - it's cheap trash. And the masses? They've moved on. And now Coach has a hard time going back because they've trained their customers to think of their purses as bargain bin merchandise. They killed their golden goose.

Netflix is a behemoth that burns through cash producing buckets of programming, most of it godawful, with just enough quality shows to keep people subscribing. It remains to be seen if that business model is sustainable in the long term.

CBS will never compete with Netflix on Netflix's terms, nor should it try. CBS thinks that it can leverage Trek (the Coach brand of its lineup) by making it all things for all people. Come see Trek on sale, 50% off! Trek for less! Trek comedy, Trek drama, Trek for all! Trek on every TV.

We'll see what happens in the long run, but I think turning Trek into a mass market brand a la Star Wars is a mistake. I think CBS, like Coach, will end up with neither the niche exclusive market, nor the mass market. They'll just be nowhere.
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Mr. Gene Dynarski
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

A truly inspired episode. The premise of Kirk being responsible, though indirectly for introducing a death sentence to an entire world is thought provoking. Also, the trick with giving the wrong beam down coordinates was a nice add- on to the story.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 11:14am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

I agree with Peter about world-building but I wanted to hone in on that point. What is world-building? What does it mean? I think it refers to a kind of storytelling that implies that things are going on in the background, that this universe has a vitality beyond just what is shown on the screen. That even if something is left unexplained on screen, it is *explicable* on its own terms.

Little details about how big or small an operation Bespin was in ESB, the Huts being described as gangsters and criminals outside of imperial control in PM, or slavery being illegal in the Republic but practiced out on the rim in TPM, the Senate being dissolved in ANH, the great library in AOTC, droids not being allowed in bars, Mos Eisley being a hive of scum and villainy...

None of these references are even necessary to the story in their respective movies and are at best tangental to the plot, but they contribute to the sense that stuff is happening behind the scenes, that not everything that matters in the universe is on camera.

In TFA I can scarcely think of a single plot element or reference that isn't directly a part of the main plot. Hell even basic elements of the universe that are fundamental to the plot are sketched in the most rudimentary detail. What the hell is the First Order? What is Hosnian Prime, the planet that gets destroyed? What happened to the Republic fleet? Who or what is Snope?

I guess the closest we get is the casino planet in TLJ which seems to have *no connection* to the plot at all. Even there, I can't even understand what I was watching - it felt like a half-assed social statement about income inequality awkwardly grafted into Star Wars. It had nothing to do with anything that had come before and I doubt we'll see or hear about it again.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 10:53am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

"I'm really confused by your reply. In what way was "my little green friend" a reference to anything we had seen prior? What exactly was the relationship between Palpatine and Yoda? Did he ever refer to him as his "little green friend" during their political meetings? I don't get it."

I'm confused by your confusion. Did I suggest this one comment was about their prior relationship? I just thought it was a fun quip punctuating a moment between two great characters. I love how in that scene after putting Yoda on his green ass with a bolt of lightning Palpatine just raises up his arms in total joy, as if mugging for an applause. It's just a moment of tremendous satisfaction and a rare glimpse of hubris in a character who previously was all business and didn't really express a ton of emotion or egotism.

But you know, scratch that - I think this line (and the scene) was about their relationship after all.

Palpatine did have a pretty significant relationship with Yoda. The two were political colleagues for years. We did have scenes where Palpatine and Yoda are together and Palpatine even defers to him. Yoda was the grandmaster of the Jedi, the wisest, the strongest and Palpatine just knocked him on his green ass, after outwitting him, killing most of his friends and taking over the government. For Palpatine, this had to be the cherry on the sundae. Yoda even saw the lightning bolt coming and couldn't even block it.

Yeah, I'd say this was extremely personal for these two characters. But even if you ignore that subtext and just call it a fun quip, it's a great scene because McDiarmitt just oozes personality and character. He sells it.

On the topic of TLJ I don't really recall much about the battle with Kylo and Luke so I can't say if it was good or bad. I just remember being so disappointed that Luke wasn't even there, and that he just died - arbitrarily. I didn't much care about the Resistance at this point because their survival meant nothing to me so his "sacrifice" (why did he die again?) was a pointless diversion of little consequence. They should have just had Rey fight him at that point. Who needs a Jedi Master anyway when Rey could just do it herself?

I didn't care about the First Order either because apart from Ren, they were just a bunch of clowns whose leader was played as a buffoon (General Nazi or whatshisname)

Yeah, again, no idea what was so appealing about any of those battles.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 5:49am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

"Lightsaber battles are *not* about the lightsabers, they are about the characters."

Agreed. And I will give props to Force Awakens for focusing on character rather than choreography in the final Ren / Rey fight. Too bad the characters were such a failure for me that I just didn't care about them by that point.

Not sure what fight in TLJ you were referencing - There were no memorable ones for me. To be fair I only saw TLJ once, on my 15 inch kitchen tv while cooking a meal for a large dinner party. Since most of the film (including pretty much every scene with Finn and Rose) scarcely required any attention I felt I was giving the film its due. But I'll rewatch the Ren / Luke duel and the Ren / Rey versus red shirts one just to make sure I didn't miss anything good. God I love Netflix.

Regarding Palpatine versus Yoda it's ironic that the high point of the whole mess was when Yoda thumped those two red guard guys - that got the whole theatre every time. Plus I loved the little exchange of force powers with the "little green friend" line which was awesome. As you said, it's about the characters. Once Sidius started flinging senate seats at Yoda I was just not as engaged.

By the way Sean, cool idea!
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Elliott in a universe where Sith can see the future and manipulate minds with the force Sidius's plan seems almost mundane frankly. They are completely plausible in that context.

Actually, not only do I love what McDermitt does with the chatacter on-screen I think the overrarching story around him is nothing short of brilliant. He makes the Jedi look like fools over three movies. I essentially consider him to be the protagonist of the prequels.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

"Aside from the music and the special effects (which obviously, the new films possess in equal or greater measure), I can't think of anything in the Prequels which I would label "gold."

Every scene with Ian McDermitt in it.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

For what it is worth nobody I knew hated PM or talked about hating it. We didn't talk about Jar Jar at all if I am recalling correctly. I do recall raging a bit against the bad romance dialogue in AOTC mind you.

I have watched Phantom Menace and the other prequels more recently and I stand by my 50/50 ratio. The highs were high. Palpatine was a spkendid villain and for me it was his story. The world building was beautiful.

On the topic of Clone Wars, it is an irony that Asohka Tano, a character that never even appeared in film, became a more popular character than Anakin, the ostensible star of the prequel trilogy. I didn't watch the show at the time but having seen it recently on Netflix, I think Lucasfilm really caught lightning in a bottle there. It really did pay them (and Disney) fantastic dividends for what I presume was a relatively tiny investment.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 11:52am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

The prequels were lots of garbage mixed together with lots of gold, a 50/50 proportion I would say.

The Abrams era movies are pure garbage, gold plated.

I know which one I preferred.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

NCC what I realize in retrospect about the prequels is that whatever their faults, they were world building stories that contributed to a larger Star Wars mythos. The Disney era movies, are not.

To be clear I am not even commenting on the quality of the storytelling or the acting, but rather on that quality which I think is the mortar that helps build franchises that churn out $2 billion dollar movies.

Interestingly, I caught an episode of the animated show Star Wars Rebels recently. Funny that this struck me as having that quality I mentioned, so Disney is clearly capable of producing such content. Also interesting though that the show takes place just before Episode IV and therefore has nothing to do with the new characters or the movies.

In many ways the Clone Wars TV show was a brilliant move for Lucasfilm, a franchise building property that probably played a significant role in paving the way for Episode VII's success. That property might be part of the reason some are looking to the prequels with renewed nostalgia.
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 7:10am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

"OTOH, I do wonder if all the people who complain about SJW's and liberals hijacking Star Trek have ever watched the show. Did they forget about the condescending speeches Picard gave in 'The Neutral Zone', the treatment of labour relations in 'Bar Association', the Ferengi in general, the contempt for theism in 'Who Watches the Watchers?'? Star Trek has always been "liberal".

True, but what passed for "liberal" in 1987 ain't so now. Or more precisely, what's left in 2018 isn't really liberal by any reasonable definition.
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 4:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

"Data: "The [random space object thing] has a density of 100 billion kilograms per cubic centimetre." Uhh, bit exaggerated?"

I think they said it was a neutron star fragment. Short of a black hole that would be the densest object in the universe. Not sure about the math (someone who knows this stuff could say) but yeah, ridiculously dense.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

"The Bajorans' behaviour treats the Aliens as deities because, to an primitive culture, they would appear to be so; the only reason this continues after "Emissary" is because the Bajorans self-consciously avoid interacting with their gods in a scientific way--which they are perfectly capable of doing. It's ridiculous"

One reason the Bajorans may have avoided "interacting" with the Prophets on a scientific level is because doing so is inherently dangerous, as Dukat and Sisko found out in Emissary, and as a Dominion fleet discovered in SOA.

I agree with Peter that this cannot be considered a Pagan religion yet there are very interesting parralels. The ancients certainly understood that you don't mess around with Gods - Greek myth is chalk full of the horrible consequencea of such "investigations".

I say it is an interesting parralel because the Bajorans are very much in a similar position to an ancient observing a thunderstorm. To such a person, one not need to resort to metaphor to explain God's power. One need not resort to faith in the modern sense. The lightning and thunder *is* the God from his point of view. He doesn't need to speculate much as the truth is manifest.

The Bajorans don't need to speculate or resort to metaphor. Their Gods are real period full stop. The power they possess can't be explained easily, or indeed, at all, using 24th century science. If we tale Q's musings in AGT about the time paradox and what understanding this could mean for a human mind, the Prophets may be as far beyond 24th Century humans as our science would be beyond the understanding of cave dwellers. What they accomplish daily makes Picard's insight in AGT look trivial in comparison. And unlike Picard, the Bajorans don't run elbows the the Q, the Dowd, Armis or others like that every Tuesday.

To say that the Bajorans could not see the Prophets as Gods because they have scientific understanding disregards the context of their religion.

You can say that this type of faith isn't really "faith" in the modern context or that such faith is less valuable or less fulfilling than what Christians experience - that's fine. But you'd also have to make the same point to the cave dweller trembling before a lightning storm, that somehow he doesn't have real "faith" either. You'd have to claim that his behaviour is absurd, his religion foolish or whatnot. Fine, but frankly, ridiculous.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 9:06am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

"The onus is on you (or the show) to prove this, because your position has no real-world equivalent. No post-Enlightenment civilisation on Earth has ever maintained a religion around pre-modern god concepts."

The Bajorans don't believe the Prophets create lightning - they believe they are beings with the ability to see and exist outside of time, which is factually correct. On what basis do you claim that they cannot view them as "Gods" on those terms?

Indeed, what you seem to be caught up on is the fact that certain physical processes (such as the weather) were used to explain such Gods in the past by people who had no other explanation for such phenomena, presuming that explanation of natural phenomena must have been the primary purpose for such beings being invented. But that is an assumption, not a fact.

You are confusing correlation with causation. That ancient Gods were always correlated with some explanation of natural phenomena does not prove that the inability to explain natural phenomena caused people to worship Gods.

I am reminded of the discussion concerning Space Seed and the innate human need to worship power. All over the world, powerful men attract worshippers putting themselves forward as nothing less than Gods to their followers. Men like David Koresh were provably human and mortal yet their modern post enlightenment worshippers believe them to be more than they were.

It's absurd to claim that modern people could not worship beings as awesome as the Prophets when people today do no less with flesh and blood men who have no special power beyond personal charisma.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 8:51am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

"In the first episode of the series Sisko has to explain time to the wormhole aliens. The same time in which the bajorans live. This should have been a huge topic of discussion. How are the aliens seen as gods of the bajorans if they need a human to explain the time in which the bajorans exist"

This always seemed a retcon to me. But after watching All Good Things the thought occurred to me that perhaps Sisko was as responsible for the Prophets as they were responsible for him? Perhaps in teaching the aliens about linear time, he encouraged them to become "Prophets" even to the point of sending orbs to the Bajorans in the past. As they exist outside linear time, what they "learned" from Sisko in the present would apply both to the future and the past. Indeed, Sisko may even have precipitated the intervention by the Prophets that led to his birth.

Not unlike Picard creating an anomoly in the past because of knowledge he gained in the future. A total paradox. Also a bit like Benny Russel where the future changes the past. Very much consistent with the idea of a race "beyond time".
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

Elliott you say that the writers don't understand how religion works. Do you?

The Greek and Roman Gods, plainly, were not abandoned because of improved scientific understanding of the universe. Indeed, their decline precipitated the dark ages. It wasn't another 1000 years before western cultures gained back much of the knowledge that was lost following Rome's fall, even basic concepts such as the world being round. Christianity's ascendence and supplanting of the Pagan order cannot possibly be explained in terms of scientific advancement.

I think Peter has it right - there is no law of the universe that says that a modern civilization cannot worship "gods" unless they are Gods in some Judeo Christian sense of total infallibility and omnipotence.

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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 10:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

"We don't think it is. It's a fact it is. It's a classic deus ex machina. Very lazy writing. Accept it."

Nope. As has been explained many times, the capability of the Prophets to do what they did was established in Emissary. A Deus Ex Machina comes out of nowhere and employs arbitrary or previously unknown means.

While their relationship with Sisko and their personal interest in him as an individual is a retcon, their power to do as they please in their own wormhole, which they constructed, is not.

Like Dukat (and the Federation) the audience completely forgot what the wormhole was. I actually think it's brilliant.

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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

Not sure why you limit this to the Alpha quadrant. I actually figured they influenced all life in the galaxy. Otherwise Voyager and DS9 would assert that the galaxy happens to be populated with humanoid life in general anyways, independent of the progenitors' meddling. This would of course render the central thesis of the episode meaningless.

Actually funny enough, other Trek canon isn't incompatible with the hypothesis that the humanoid form is unique to our galaxy. In TOS there were only two extra galactic races encountered - the guys who Spock saw as multi tentacled monsters in their natural states (who took human form) and those plastic pizzas from Operation Annihilate! In TNG the only extra galactic lifeform we met was Kevin Uxbridge, who was basically an energy being who took human form after the fact. And I guess Q, if you presume his race evolved somewhere outside our galaxy.
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Jason R.
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Shades of Gray

I suppose if the price for Q Who was Shades of Grey it was a fair trade and I'm pleased with the outcome. Definitely puts a more satisfying spin on the situation.
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