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Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:07am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

Enjoyable episode. My rationale for the ending is:

1) Kurn had given up all consent to Worf, as he repeated many times. In a strange way the ending respects the Klingons' cultural traditions, by not only adhering to the family rules (honour is both personal conduct, but also loyalty - as shown by Worf's [many] discommendations with the Klingon Empire). Kurn's consent was more than implied. I like to think Kurn would have either just said 'I'll do whatever my brother says, he is the older brother', or would agree. Kurn didn't want to fight alongside Gowron in Redemption Pts 1-2, but he did it because Worf made him under his authority as 'the older brother'.

2) [the best rationale for me] If we remember Kurn's introduction in TNG, Worf had no idea Kurn was his brother. It was a complete surprise. This episode acts as a kind of role reversal. I would have liked a follow-up after Worf is restored his honour and family name. This seemed to be left open by Dr Bashir - who said his memories would be 'nearly impossible' to restore.

In some ways I preferred this ending for those reasons, to Kurn succeeding in killing himself. That final scene where he idly points the disruptor at himself plays so that we see that isn't an option.

Worf's left in the same position he was before he met Kurn - he has no Klingon family any more, and only has Starfleet.

Good scene where Worf admitted to himself (and Dax) that he doesn't think like a true Klingon, which is quite the realisation for a character who's ran around in circles over that issue all his life.

MINOR SPOILER: Don't forget as well that Worf eventually joins the House of Martok, and is 'adopted' in a similar way that Kurn is.
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Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 9:59am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Endgame

I have similar problems to Jammer with the whole of Voyager: it's entertaining, but it's just that. There seems to be a real lack of a through-line in Voyager which is seriously disappointing, because out of all the Trek series (except perhaps DS9 which I'm re-watching at the moment) has the most clear and single-minded premise or project. That project is, here, the journey - or the destination. I'm inclined to think that these things are not separable, because a journey after-all is the thing between a beginning and an end. Which is why this end just doesn't function well.

Voyager had several (largely) superfluous two-parters throughout ("Killing Game", "Unimatrix Zero"). While DS9 got bogged down in the (highly moving and groundbreaking) Dominion War, away from its original focus:
- on Bajor (in a sense, this enacted Bajor's integration into Federation interstellar politics - the first two seasons were all about the local, and from then on we saw the microscope zoom out, a change in tone detracted from the originality of the series in exploring postcolonial politics in the Star Trek setting)

- and the exploration of the Gamma Quadrant (this was rather left to a few choice episodes, and the notion it was other crews , organisations and individuals taht were doing just that - that DS9 existed as a station, not an excuse to go off into the Gamma Quadrant every single week to see a new token-race - which is how a lot of Voyager felt like).

I realise I've spent nearly all of this comments talking about shows other than Voyager. But this is because it really feels like a wasted opportunity. The finale is all action, very little ethics, and actually compromises a lot of the sense of adventure and loneliness that the series built into its premise. As a narrative it feels lazy, although the debate between Admiral/Captain Janeway does make a good argument for this episode's integrity. The all-action finale is arguably down to First Contact, and Voyager's, relegating of the Borg into an action film threat, rather than a truly cool sci-fi villain ("Q Who?") or opportunity to explore notions of freedom and sentience ("I, Borg"). To shift the tone back (assuming we're still including the Borg in a revised ending) to their earlier appearance would be both a blessing in terms of gravitas and concept, but one which might alienate audiences that have got used to the Borg in this form.

So in typical sci-fi fan form I have some ideas for how they could have done this plot but in a better way:

1) Make this a 6-part arc, or even a whole season, something akin to the end of DS9 or Series 3 of Enterprise. This was a series all about the long-term premise, and while we can include "Homestead" and others in helping to wrap up the series/send characters off on their way, it just doesn't make sense in long-term and strategic ways for it to be as it is: a series of one-off episodes leading to a 2-hour finale...that consists of its own one-off plot with very little consequences. Which is why the Janeway plot in "Endgame" is so puzzling, as the review demonstrates. Every episode leading to the finale should have been an opportunity.

2) Have the final episode as being similar in tone to TNG's "Family", which served brilliantly after a The Best of Both Worlds, in allowing the characters to do character drama after the all-action and suspense. We need to see how these characters go about reintegrating themselves. And I want to see that, not just be told about it.

3) To keep the Admiral Janeway plot, have her not physically time travel, but send some messages back through time. Thinking about it there's a DS9 episode based around this premise - "The Sound of Her Voice", whereas here it would be deliberate. This device would fit a premise in a lot of episodes of Voyager - that they receive important information from afar, but must do something about it themselves, or just have the information in hand. The Admiral could confirm that the transwarp hub is in the nebula, and then the Voyager crew plot to get there. This would give the crew a real scientific challenge (one of the supposed premises of the series being this was a science-oriented series, ship and crew), as Best of Both Worlds did for the TNG crew. The Admiral at this point has done enough to change history - she could perhaps enclose some documents or information that tells the Captain of the terrible fate of some of her friends and crew. In the end of course we know Voyager will succeed, and the timeline will alter (so no back-and-forth talking - this should be about the present Janeway deciding herself whether destroying the hub is more important than getting through it. While in 'Caretaker' her decision was questionnable (e.g. why not just leave loads of bombs to automatically detonate which are really hard to disarm?), here it's based on the familiar backstory of the Borg (she doesn't want there to be more people like the El Aurians or the other people we see whose planets have been devasted and assimilated) and the Starfleet objective to cripple them. In the end they come up with a risky but well-reasoned strategy that gets them through, perhaps after a few attempts. Janeway has a debt to her crew to get them home, and that's the conclusion the show (for me) should take all along. There should be plenty of ethical decisions on the way, but getting the crew home was the televisiual and narrative raison d'etre.

4) Have an arc set in the future depicted here in Endgame, where the future-Admiral Janeway has to decide whether and how to send the message, if you really want that. Then you could have the pathos that this finale does do well. We don't want a rehash of the All Good Things future Picard plot, because here Janeway's trauma and wounds would be from the memories of her decisions, rather than a Syndrome like with Picard. Unfortunately (as it was a very fine episode in a barrel full of bad ones) this would make "Timeless" a bit redundant (then, arguably, so does Endgame).
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