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R.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 9:46am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

I watched this episode for the first time last night and I was surprised at how much of a gut punch the ending was. Especially for a show that is marketed as a comedy.

What a topsy turvy world we live in when a Seth MacFarlane show of all things channels the core values of Trek infinitely better than the actual Trek CBS is airing.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 1:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

"but Gul Dukat and Central Command *know* that Darhe'el's been dead for six years, and Marritza appears to have only been taking concrete steps towards this for five (coinciding with the time he started taking dermal regenerators). Why proceed with this plan over a course of years when Darhe'el is known to be dead, and can easily be proven as such?"

I don't really know if this was what they had in mind, but in season 7 it was mentioned that Cardassians had little faith in the truth of what their government was saying, despite outward appearances. When they claimed Damar was dead, no one really believed it either.
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Jason R.
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"Also, Sarjenka was such an awful, insolent child. When she’s on the bridge of the Enterprise and Troy wants to talk to her, and she screams “just leave me alone” I felt like I would have said, “if you want to be left alone then stay off of their bridge/starship!”

Little children are such idiots.
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Jason R.
Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

"Women have far less problems with that."

Far fewer problems.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 6:36am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Ha Alexandra kudos for your contrarian rant against one of Trek's sacred cows.

I am not going to disown this episode to the extent that you have, but I too have found it draggy in retrospect and agree with your assessment of the secondary characters.

To the extent that people love this episode (and I would have counted myself in that group when it first aired) it really has to do with two factors: the cool high concept and Patrick Stewart's performance. The rest of the show is actually quite weak on execution.

Regarding the concept, I am not all that concerned about its ethical implications (I really don't see this as meaningfully analogous to "rape" sorry) but it really has so many logical holes and with the reset button structure of the show back then, it just doesn't work. This would have been far better as a two-parter.

And so we are left with Patrick Stewart, who like so much in TNG, is the Atlas holding up the weight of the show on his shoulders. Let's face it, Patrick Stewart delivers the goods on this one. But I agree 100% that Family is the better episode. The acting, the characters, the themes - that episode really works much better. Not co-incidentally, I will return to watch Family but almost never TIL, which I haven't bothered to watch in years.
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Jason R.
Thu, Jan 9, 2020, 6:37am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: The Doomsday Machine

"The Doomsday Machine" might very well be the first one which actually looks better with the new graphics"

Normally I don't get much out of these attempts to retroactively upgrade the effects for old TV and movies like with the Star Wars re-releases.

But something about this particular episode seems to really come alive with the remastering, especially for the doomsday machine itself. I just love the color and scale of it. The episode was always a classic but the remastered version is like they took that greatness and perfected it.
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Jason R.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Unnatural Selection

The thing about Pulaski is that her antagonism towards Data is mostly exaggerated in fans' minds. Her arc in season 2 is basically one of learning respect and admiration of Data. Look at episodes like Elementary Dear Data and especially Peak Performance where she's practically his biggest fan by the end. Mulder and Spiner just have great chemistry together. Her scenes with Worf, though few and far between, are also good. In fact, her chemistry with every member of the main cast is dynamite.

My whole thesis here, aside from sexism of course, is that she was simply a victim of timing and the way TV was watched back then. Many of us, especially as kids, only got to watch the show piecemeal because religiously catching every episode was not feasible especially in the first two shakedown seasons when the show had yet to hit its stride.

By the time the show got really good and established (end of Season 3) most of our experience was with Crusher - she was the doctor at the beginning and at the end. Hell, she was the doctor of Best of Both Worlds - end of story. It didn't matter if she was any good. And to the extent there was Pulaski, she was kind of this anomaly in our heads - like oh she's that doctor from when the show was still kind of weird and alien and still not quite right.

I know that's how it was for me. Pulaski was the new Coke of STNG. Season 3 set the standard for TNG in my mind and many others' minds and Pulaski didn't belong.

But it didn't occur to me until recently how much better so many episodes could have been with another tentpole character. Oh well, we will never know.
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Jason R.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Unnatural Selection

Well Skeptical I did only say I was *almost* ready to call sexism on it - ha.
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Jason R.
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 7:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

This is another understated gem. I just love the chemistry here between the characters as they play off one another. My favourite moment in this one is when Worf expresses the absolutist rule oriented opinion and Pulaski retorts that his way is "cowardly" (definitely a deliberate choice of words on her part) - and then Picard sensing that Worf is in danger of tearing the good doctor's throat out puts up his arms like everyone take this down a notch! I also love the "how deep are we now?" gag between Picard and Riker.

This episode is pure character with a classic prime directive debate with Picard as the lynchpin. Even Picard's discussion of horseback riding with Troi is splendid character work for him.

The Wesley parts about leadership tie elegantly into the main plot. As much as I want to dislike Wesley here I can't because his story is done splendidly.

I give this 3.5 stars and only withhold a 4 star rating owing to the fact that such great character work was done in the service of a relatively mediocre (but totally passable) plot.

I have to say, this latest watching of Season 2 is giving me new respect for these episodes. It's not as consistent as Season 3 or 4 but I strongly suspect with episodes like this (not to mention bona fide classics like Q Who and Measure of a Man) it might be the third strongest season overall.
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Jason R.
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 4:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Unnatural Selection

I didn't dislike this episode the way I expected from the review or the way most Trek fans seem to remember it. In fact, for me it wasn't just watchable, but quite good - a solid 3 stars.

I found the mystery interesting including the explanation good (notwithstanding the continuity issue), the character work on Pulawski and even her chemistry with Data excellent. Even the technical solution, while crazy in its implications in the larger scheme (so the transporter is a fountain of youth?!) was perfectly logical given the premise of the disease and the underlying technology of the transporter. It is not the episode's fault for extrapolating the transporter's potential to its logical conclusion.

I continue to find myself impressed with the Pulawski character and incredulous that anyone could have been happy to see her replaced with Crusher. Here we have the first strong, intelligent, interesting regular female character in Trek history and people wanted her gone? All because of a few awkward attempts to draw a parallel with McCoy with a few throw away references to her hating the transporter? I mean yes, the parallels are there, but hardly more so than those between, say, Spock and Data - and no one hated Data! I am almost ready to call sexism on this one. Bring back the red headed pretty nebbish to replace the overly willful older woman with an actual personality.

It is seriously bugging me imagining what the show would have been like with another keystone character and a woman to boot - what a crying crying shame that it had to happen the way it did.
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Jason R.
Sat, Jan 4, 2020, 7:42am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"Discussion points if anyone is interested? Do you agree with my assessment of Picard's leadership style or do you think he should have just summarily made a decision? For those of you who have managers, how do you think they would react in the same situation? (I asked my wife, she said her boss would freak out and scream. Conversely, I am considering leaving private practice and working for someone; I know he would respond very much like PIcard. )"

I remember I once missed a deadline on filing an appeal in court on a very significant file. I completely screwed up - was referring to sub rule X which was a 15 day deadline when Y was applicable with only 7 days. Absolutely my fault, no excuse. I get in at 6 so I ended up just leaving the office at 6:30 and not coming back until 8:00 because I was so upset and needed to take a long walk to nowhere.

Anyway, the guy in charge of the file didn't miss a beat when I communicated the error when he got in at 9:00. Just extremely practical - how do we fix this? Didn't even flinch. And fix it we did, not even as big a deal as I thought. He was always like that. Never one to get angry just extremely practical (what do we do to make the best of this?)

It's really the ideal boss personality type. If someone screws up it's something to deal with in terms of performance review time or heck fire them if need be at some point later, after the crisis is resolved. No sense in freaking out. Picard's management is bang on. It's a model I have tried to follow in my own practice when people under me have screwed up.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

I confess only cursory knowledge of this but from the Wiki page:

"The Japanese program to develop nuclear weapons was conducted during World War II. Like the German nuclear weapons program, it suffered from an array of problems, and was ultimately unable to progress beyond the laboratory stage before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender in August 1945."

Maybe it wasn't "mothballed" but ultimately there was no serious "race" as no one but the USA had made serious progress on building an actual bomb.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

"It’s a historical fact all major nations in WW2 were racing towards completion of the atom bomb, including Japan. It would be a greater travesty to ignore this."

None of the major powers had a serious program that was close to completion by the end of WW2. Of course the Americans assumed others were on the path, especially Germany, but post war it was determined that said programs were basically mothballed.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 7:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

"In fact, it would have been even better if the original bombing was shown to be part of the admiral's plot, and the changling spotted in the footage was simply trying to escape the blast; it would have helped to reinforce the fact that the Federation was tearing itself apart in a fit of paranoia."

In most witch hunts, the 'witches' are real, except ironically in the original kind. Islamic terrorists really did attack the WTC; Soviet spies really were running around in the 50s and 60s; etc...

The chief sin of a witch hunt is not that the witch hunters are delusional or that the witches pose no real threat. This is exactly the wrong lesson.

Portraying paranoia as being wholly irrational (just idiots running amok) detracts from the message of the story. If it's all just some evil Admiral plotting to take over the Federation, then there's really no "paradise" to be lost - it never existed in the first place and any debate over the balance between security and freedom is meaningless.
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Jason R.
Sat, Dec 21, 2019, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: About a Girl

"- This kind of feels like a white guy in the 90s making a movie about how hard it is for black kids. Tolerant and intolerant at the same time."

I can't speak for Orville because I only watched a couple episodes (not including this one) but from Family Guy at least it seems like MacFarlane has a thing with women. Like really, he hates them or something. The show is misogynistic, and that's not a term I throw around loosely.

The description for this episode sounds consistent with that trend even if it is portrayed seriously (and not in a glib way) as it would be in FG.
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Jason R.
Wed, Dec 18, 2019, 10:00am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

Booming I didn't mean to imply you or anyone else was a child. But on a cosmic scale, our knowledge of how things truly work might as well be on par with a child's - which is another way of saying, to quote Hela: "Dahling, you have no idea what's possible [or impossible]"

And yes it will be very interesting to see what ITER and others are able to accomplish. Although I confess to being disappointed to learn that even if ITER delivers on everything it promises, the most optimistic projections don't promise anything remotely like a commercial reactor until the end of the 21st century.

That's what kind of sucks. In 2019 we are still at the science experiment phase of the process.

One project that I did find interesting though is General Fusion, a company that seeks to initiate fusion using pistons to compress a tiny grain of tritium. What is neat about that one is that it's meant to produce an actual reactor and isn't just a big experiment. If it's successful, we could see economic commercial fusion within a couple decades!
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Jason R.
Wed, Dec 18, 2019, 7:31am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"As far as I know there is quite a bit of development in the field of nuclear fusion.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50267017

I'm fairly confident that some of the described approaches will lead to a usable reactor, a so called Tokomak. (picture in the link)
https://comicvine1.cbsistatic.com/uploads/scale_medium/1/15659/5325753-7425820912-latest"

Oh I am aware of this. There are some good books on the history of fusion research that are worth checking out - A Piece of the Sun, for example.

What is interesting is that back in the 50s it was just assumed by many that fusion would be mastered within the decade. And why not? We went from crude atomic piles to working nuclear fission reactors in a couple decades. The hydrogen bomb itself is based on fusion. So you could forgive researchers their optimism.

But as of 2019, no one has demonstrated even a proof of concept on an experimental level, to say nothing of a working reactor. ITER, the massive Tokamak being built by a consortium in Europe, is a big gamble, essentially something based on a really good guess that size and scale will make the Tokamak design work where it never has in the past with smaller scale experiments.

Essentially, ITER, for all its fanfare and outrageous cost, is still just a glorified science experiment. No one knows if it will even work.

I see this line of thinking as essentially fallacious - well we did X and X is really amazing so ergo anything we set our minds to, anything in our field of vision (even the stars!) has to be possible. Like my 5 year old thinking she can walk to Montreal because she walked downtown.

"It's just a problem that we can't even begin to tackle at our current technological level."

It's a problem that frankly I'd bet money on us never being able to accomplish at any technological level. There's walking on the moon and then there's walking on the sun.

I think the fictional Overlords may have had a point.
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Jason R.
Wed, Dec 18, 2019, 4:37am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"it's just an engineering problem. And if it's just an engineering problem, it can be done."

Well errrr.... I am gonna have to disagree on this premise. I guess a Dyson's sphere is also just an engineering problem too. So don't get me wrong I am not suggesting any of this is capital "I" impossible - just that it's probably kind of almost certainly impossible as one seriously wonders if it could ever realistically happen given the limits of human ingenuity, physical / psychological endurance, resources.

There's this cool comment by the Overlords in Childhood's End about this topic and their conclusion was just no... humans ain't travelling to the stars sorry - not unless we evolve into some kind of semi immortal super octopus people.

Like when Ali G asked Buzz Aldren if man would ever walk on the sun should Buzz have said "sure! It's just an engineering problem!" or be risk being thought a fool by future generations? I guess if the Hirogen and Thor could do it...

I think about nuclear fusion as an interesting example of something that most people think of as "just an engineering problem" and there's just this manifest destiny about it, like of course it will happen. And people forget that our scientific community has been banging its collective head against this particular brick wall for well over 70 years and to date not one example exists - not one - of anyone ever demonstrating that net gain fusion is even possible with any of the designs in existence, whether laser based or magnetic. Because reproducing a process that only exists in the heart of stars is bloody hard even if it doesn't violate the laws of physics. And fusion is as far from interstellar travel as having a sun tan on the beach is from walking on the sun Hirogen style.
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Jason R.
Tue, Dec 17, 2019, 5:52am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

Booming don't get me wrong I grew up with Star Trek and always kind of believed in the notion that technology would find a way. And I am not saying it won't.

But manned interstellar travel is one of those things that seems kind of simple from a big picture perspective (hey, if we could go from living in caves to rocket ships why not from rocket ships to starships?) but when you actually start asking questions about how it could practically be done, absent magic warp drive, you start to realize that it is not comparable to any task ever undertaken previously.

It's the fallacy my five year old might fall into, imagining that because we can walk a couple hours downtown (which is really really far!) surely it can't be *that much* farther to walk to Grandma and Grandpa's in Montreal, which after all, is a measly 2 hours by car down the highway.

Except talking in terms of interstellar travel we might as well say Montreal is 8,000,000 hours down the road to do the analogy justice:)

Go and read about the energy density needed to actually fuel a ship to little old Proxima Centauri a measly 4 ly away. Even with nuclear fusion I am not sure it is possible in a human lifetime (and to date, it should be noted that no one has even proven that net positive NF is possible with any current technology)

I want to believe it's possible I do. But even setting aside the possibility of our civilization collapsing due to whatever nuclear war or climate change and assuming we March along for the next 1,000 years without a hiccup- this may turn out to be the long 8,000,000 stroll down the highway :)
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Jason R.
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"With half the speed of light we could reach Proxima Centauri in 8 years."

Not if we wanted to do anything but a flyby. Make that 16 years if you want to account for deceleration.

And if you do manage to deflect particles flying at your ship at suicidal speeds where a speck of dirt hits your ship with the force of a hydrogen bomb, and you dodge the deadly cosmic rays that bombarding you constantly and can wipe out your crew in an instant, you ain't producing the fantastical amount of power to even get up to that speed in the first place - probably not even with nuclear fusion which by the way is still basically scifi, to say nothing of large quantities of antimatter and artificial singularities which is scifi with an extra dollop of *fi*.

Getting up to significant fractions of the speed of light is easy in principle even with current technologies, except for the minor quibble that it requires a power source that might as well be magic.

The obstacles to manned interstellar travel without the magic wand of warp drive make the prospect basically impossible no matter what scifi has led us to believe.

Let me put this in different terms. Let us just imagine the kind of science that would actually produce a technology like warp drive and further, imagine that contrary to Trek this is not just 21st century humans with ridged foreheads. Let us imagine they are as beyond us as, say, humans are chimps.

Chimps go to war. They fall victim to natural disasters all the time. Is it our job to intervene every time some chimps get injured or fall into danger? Would it be in our interest or even theirs frankly, for us to go around being their guardian angels? And frankly, if you look at how humans treat chimps in the real world, would you *want* that kind of intervention if you were one of them?
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Jason R.
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"@Jason R.
What does warp drive mean? Flying as fast or faster as lightspeed. Warp 1 is just light speed. It is an arbitrary line."

No it's not arbitrary. Warp drive is a necessary precondition for interstellar travel of any kind because it's impossible to bridge such distances without it. Not difficult - impossible, within any humanoid lifetime.

And I could be wrong but I don't think warp 1 is light speed. But even if it is, that would be a minimum speed for any realistic manned interstellar travel and even at light speed you'd be bordering on impractical / impossible.

"And not all warp drives are based on antimatter. The Bajorans had their space sailing. The Romulans use quantum singularities."

Well keep in mind we are talking about power sources here. So if you have a power source capable if fuelling star travel, whether anti matter or artificial singularity, yes you would have a ridiculous power source that in absolute terms might as well make you a god next to any civilization that doesn't - hence the problem.

The Bajorans feat wasn't due to inventing warp drive - they didn't. It was established that they basically stumbled on some weird local phenomena that led to an accidental acceleration.

"So flying with half of light speed. Federation will not help. Flying with light speed. Federation will help? How is that not arbitrary?"

Because if someone is capable of interstellar travel non interference becomes moot - they are already on your doorstep. Versus showing up on their doorstep with your starship and making contact with someone who isn't ready for it causing likely upheaval in their society.

"Or how about that. The Federation decides to not help a civilization that is 10 years away from the warp drive, gets hit by a meteor, billions die, the civilization recovers against all odds, develops warp drive and then finds out that the Federation just stood by watching them die by the billions. That is going to be an awkward first contact."

If earth was hit by an asteroid I wouldn't, frankly, be shaking my fists at the skies in anger at aliens who failed to save us. The thought would not even have occurred to me. I find it bizarre that you would even think this to be some kind of issue. At what point does this duty to fly around the universe saving aliens from natural disasters end? Is this like in Dear Doctor where all the posters concluded that Archer "murdered" the aliens by not curing their disease?
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Jason R.
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 9:17am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"The warp barrier is a completely arbitrary line"

I don't agree that it is arbitrary. It is what separates space faring civilizations from non space faring ones. A race that has warp drive is in the galactic community - you cannot avoid interfering with them because their involvement in your affairs is a fait accompli.

Also, in order to use warp drive, it is established that you pretty much have to have certain technologies, most notably antimatter. We know even today that to harness antimatter (assuming you could find or manufacture any significant quantity which for us is impossible) would be a game changing technology, on par with discovering fire. It isn't an arbitrary line - it's the difference between civilizations of a completely different level of development.

Going back to my original point about the danger of a greater civilization interacting with a lesser one - if any civilization possessing antimatter interacted with one without, it would be tantamount to a a group with fire encountering one without - a ridiculous mismatch.
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Jason R.
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 6:57am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Pen Pals

"And there are cases, like in this episode, where following this arbitrary absolute is clearly the wrong choice. There is no real moral dilemma in this episode. Letting the Dremans die simply doesn't make any kind of sense."

I am not persuaded by that. One of the essential truths explored in TOS again and again was the notion that absolute power is corrupting and that any time a massive power imbalance manifests the temptation to corruption becomes difficult to resist.

There is no inherent power imbalance greater than a prewarp civilization interacting with a Federation level one. This theme played out throughout the series in episodes like The Omega Glory, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, Space Seed, Patterns of Force etc... This has also been a recurring theme in our own history.

Thus, the PD is as much about protecting the Federation and its citizens as it is about protecting less advanced cultures. The PD is a stopgap, a kind of firewall against the temptation to play God which inevitably results from the interaction with less advanced cultures. Part of the idea of the better human (as opposed to the human with merely bigger and better technology) is a kind of moral principle which includes laws like the PD and also the prohibition against genetic engineering.

This firewall against corruption is a primary function of the PD, one that gets overlooked in debates of this nature. Picard does talk about this in Pen Pals as I recall.

There is also the more big picture view, which is that no action of cosmic scale (and saving a civilization is such an act) is without ramifications, both positive and negative. On a cosmic scale a world may be rendered lifeless in one epoch only to become life bearing many more eons in the future - to intervene is to save life today perhaps at tomorrow's expense, much like if some alien chose to deflect the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs or saved the Neanderthals from extinction.

Unless you are outside of time like the Prophets, how can a mere human take responsibility for the consequences of such an act?

Obviously this is the tough argument to make bit I personally think Picard's defence of the PD is valid and the underlying reasoning absolutely justified.
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Jason R.
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 11:29am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

"I sort of expected more with Picard and younger Guinan trapped in the 19th century"

She wasn't trapped in the 19 century I.e. time travelling. She was simply alive then and visiting earth or so I understood.
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Jason R.
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There were flashbacks in TFA that hinted at some kind of origin for Rey that ended up on the garbage pile for TLJ (like most things Abrams set up in that movie).

That said, I can't imagine how Rey having some special origin would improve her character or make Daisy Ridley less dreary.

I'm long past worrying about whether Rey is a "Mary Sue" or not. Suffice it to say she's just not very good and after two movies, we've seen all there is to see at this point from her .
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