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Randall
Mon, Sep 6, 2021, 10:20am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

"Maybe there is a good reason why the state of Texas forces daughters to have the children of their fathers."

There isn't.

"Can you respect people who believe differently than you do?"

Atheists aren't the ones with the problem when it comes to respecting people with different beliefs. We don't ram legislation through states that strip people not like us of rights and dignity. No, the crime we commit is assailing such legislation and the bankrupt "morality" behind it, which is - to those who *actually* can't respect different people - intolerable. There are theistic jerks and there are atheistic jerks. The difference is, atheistic jerks are rude, while theistic jerks are rude, *and* try to make people they don't like second-class citizens by force of law.
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Randall
Mon, Sep 6, 2021, 12:51am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

"Militant atheists" have "such a bad reputation" because everyone shoots the messenger. Especially when the messenger is pointing out the moral depravity of a beloved institution. Anyone who thinks "militant atheists" are "more irritating" than people who, for instance, just effectively overturned Roe v Wade in Texas, or who use Christian supremacist legislation like the RFRA as an end-run on the legal debates they've lost over LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, et al, needs to explain why they'd rather be socially coddled than protect human rights.

Please.
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Randall
Mon, Sep 6, 2021, 12:35am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Preemptive Strike

What makes this episode much more effective than it otherwise might have been, is how Stewart and Forbes subtly convey a personal relationship between their characters. And so the betrayal is personal. If Ro had been some rando who betrayed her oath/uniform/whatever, Picard might have found it upsetting, but nowhere near as upset as he is at the end of this episode. He's been gutted. He was personally invested in Ro, thought of her as a friend, perhaps a protege, and likely even harbored more complex, intimate - if platonic - feelings towards her.

As she did for him. This makes her choice all the more difficult for her, and painful for both. That she turned from her duty was relatively a small thing compared to turning from a friend/mentor for a greater cause. It is, to her way of thinking, the right thing to do. How many episodes have we seen a TNG character turn on an old friend, because that old friend had lost their way? From Ro's perspective, this was the agonizing position she was forced into. As for Picard, I always got from this episode that he thought - even should her loyalty to her uniform waver - her loyalty to *him* would prevent her from betrayal. Ro certainly gives him every reason to think so.

But in the end, her sense of obligation to him, her personal feelings toward him, the trust and support he showed, couldn't outweigh a just cause he was on the wrong side of. And so she did as she felt she must. And broke Picard's heart.
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Randall
Sat, Sep 4, 2021, 12:28am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Masks

I admired this episode's ambition, and a few elements of its execution, but in a lot of ways, it bit off more than it could chew. The obvious example would be production, which was pretty skimpy. But a better example would be a classic mistake in writing mystery episodes: if the audience solves the riddle before the characters do, every moment after that tries the audience's patience. It was pretty clear early on who Hakuna and Matada (or whatever) were. Watching the elite Starfleet officers bumble around, trying to solve a "mystery" long since telegraphed was annoying.

Brent Spiner was TNG's MVP, and proved it once again in this episode. Sir Patrick was good as always, especially at conveying the melancholy weight of empathizing with these long-dead people. Definitely a Data/Picard episode.

If they'd been able to write the reveal sooner, this episode would have turned out much better. It would have spared the audience much annoyed impatience, and allowed them to explore the culture and the ramifications of the myth they were acting out more. It would have been nice to care a little about these people, and it would have lent weight to Picard's sympathetic resignation when the resolution came. I give this 1.5 stars, plus a half-star for ambition.
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Randall
Fri, Sep 3, 2021, 11:08pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Thine Own Self

I like this episode, for one reason many have mentioned: Data's use of the scientific method, albeit a rather rushed use. And I liked the village "scientist" as well. Her ideas are silly and primitive, but she doesn't reject Data's, and seems quite curious to learn. Give me that message any day of the week. If I had to knock this storyline, it's for something Jammer pointed out: Data's quick facility with language, that has a convenient one-word omission. L...a...z...y writing, there.

As usual, I have to shrug at the sudden inability of many to employ the vivid imaginations they use to debate Trek minutiae into atomized pedantry when it comes to certain characters. Captain Picard gets to be a Shakespearean actor/director, musician, world-class archaeologist, pilot, engineer, renown diplomat, skilled hand-to-hand fighter, expert horseman, fencer, orator, scientist - but Deanna Troi, anything other than a counselor? What bizarre nonsensical bridge-too-far rubbish is this?!?

Sigh. Starfleet officers routinely master multiple disciplines, in multiple professions, and are expected to wear many hats. The idea of Troi being a command officer is so blandly within the Trek wheelhouse, one wonders where the stupefied hostility comes from. If anything bothered me about this storyline, it was the silly fakeout testing procedure.
"This test will be about how well you can align a plasma conduit."
"Okay."
"Surprise! You should have known you were being tested on Kilngon etymology! You fail! You don't have what it takes to be a Starfleet Commander!"
"Uh... I think *one* of us is proving they're not fit to command..."

Just dumb. A lazy artifice to throw obstacles in Troi's way, so she has to deal with (fake) adversity. The second she realizes the fakeout, she immediately passes the test. Anyway, I liked that she wanted to "stretch out," as Commander Crusher put it, and that she proved she can make tough decisions. Which was the point of the test. The one she passed.
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Randall
Fri, Sep 3, 2021, 11:32am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

I was pleased to see even the edgy alterna-critics could only find nitpicks to complain about in this episode. It's brilliance is in part owed to the compactness of the story and stakes. In the grand scheme of galactic politics and intrigue, one ensign is no big deal, but narrow the focus, and that loss can have a profound effect. Like the lower decks ensigns, we the audience will never really know the full story of why she died. We get glimpses of the mission, and can infer many things, but we don't *know* the particulars. Not even of her death. We get evidence of a destroyed escape pod, and a vague report from Cardassian space.

If I try very hard to find fault with this episode, it might be that we don't get to hang around long enough to see how very frustrating and troubling this is for her friends. They know the drill; they're Starfleet officers, as well. But still. Friend. No definitive answers. No real closure. Brilliant storytelling.

Anyway, I don't get all the consternation surrounding Ben. Sure, it would have made more sense as Guinan, but it works just fine as Ben. He's a civilian. The outsized impact and distance differences in rank has to the ensigns (and to an extent, the senior officers) has no meaning to him. They're just Will, Deanna, Beverly, Geordi, Sam, Sito, Alyssa, Taurik. He's the bartender; everyone is equal in his house. Of course he plays cards with both the lower decks crew and the senior officers. He's Ben the Bartender, dispensing comfort and relaxation in verbal and liquid form. He doesn't walk in the paramilitary world of Starfleet. They walk in *his* world. He owes none of them deference, or more respect than the others, because of their rank.
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Randall
Thu, Sep 2, 2021, 6:14pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

Ah, yes, another episode that fails to notice the Prime Directive is morally repugnant. There's no reason this episode couldn't have had a more nuanced debate of a morally defensible Prime Directive, one that allowed Federation captains to prevent, oh, say, extinction. The debate could have been over any number of competing options that could save the endangered populace, each option having a different risk of cultural contamination. The stakes could be laid out, sides could argue their positions, surprise twists could force hands, etc.

But instead, we got this. Sigh.
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Randall
Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 11:47pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

I give this 2 stars, for silliness. Work's "I will feed him" line regarding Spot was the source of a Mandela Effect among my friends and I, who swore for many years it was, "I will feed your animal," which we found much funnier.

Also, there is a much less credible Mandela Effect I just made up, where I could have sworn Troi came in at the end with a whole cake and said, "Data, any number of planets in this quadrant are experiencing food shortages, or even outright starvation. I thought we'd spit in their eye with this massive waste of biomass, for the sake of a very mild callback gag."

And Data replies, "Speaking of eating people, Counselor, I am a literally tireless machine, programmed with endless patience and the ability to perform cunniligus. Why is there not a line outside my door at all hours of the day and night?"
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Randall
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 12:53pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

So, this insipid pile of crap gets full consideration, as everyone goes spelunking for deeper meaning in bland Klingon "politics" Worf magically navigates, yet "Suspicions" is garbage from the get-go, case closed. I'd say I'm surprised, but I'm not.
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Randall
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 3:40am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

@ Jason R.

Yup, I'm sure. I'm also being a little facetious, since they're actors, and it's just a scene, and there were undoubtedly all manner of permissions, protections, and supervision for an underage actor, and not just in a kissing scene. Not counting the usual Hollywood horror stories, of course, but the ick factor gets dialed down a little by the fact that they're just actors acting. At least, that's what I told myself while wincing through underage Thora Birch flashing the camera in "American Beauty," and underage Simonetta Stefanelli's nude/sex scene in "The Godfather," and so on. So it could have been worse...
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Randall
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 3:30am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

I'd give this one 2.5 stars: 2 for the quality of the episode, + a half star for my bias toward fiction where the main character has to question reality. Supposedly, Riker is kidnapped and hooked up to the Mindfuq 2000 machine because his captors want information. But they never try to gain that information. They just spend the whole episode fucking with his head. Which is kinda entertaining, but retroactively diminished by the reveal. I suppose they could have explained that by saying they hadn't reached that stage yet, because Riker was fighting it for the whole episode, which would have taken all of 3 seconds - but they didn't.

The episode seemed to depend a lot on the viewer's familiarity with hoary clich├ęs about mental institutions and mental health. The unhelpful, condescending doctors, the abusive nurse(s), the confidant-turns-out-to-be-crazy switcheroo, and of course Riker's generic "crazy person" illness. You know, hallucinations (misidentified as delusions), twitchiness, violent emotional outbursts, sweaty heavy breathing, bulging eyes, inability to complete sentences or make commonsense observations...

I am also of the opinion that Frakes, as much as I respect him as a director and a Trek alumnus, is the weakest actor on the show. He basically has two modes: normal and shouty. I liken his performance in this episode to Adam Sandler's in "Punch Drunk Love." The role leaned heavily into his instincts as an actor, and while adding "twitchy" to his shouty mode represents a 50% increase in his acting modes, I can't quite agree this was a great performance. It was just tailor-made to fit his strengths.

Anyway, I was relieved to see a few people upthread managed to take this Riker episode as their cue to continue irrationally bashing the women on the show. Solid evidence I'm still in the real world. Whew.
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Randall
Sun, Aug 29, 2021, 2:13am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

This episode could have been "Code of Honor" bad, and still would have been redeemed by any two seconds of Data mimicking the expressions of Commander Hutichinson. Pure gold.
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Randall
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 2:46am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

As good as this episode is, and as much as I like it, I can never, ever forget for a single second of it that J.C. Brandy (Marta) was 17 years old when she had that steamy, we're-about-to-have-sex kissing scene with Patrick Stewart, who was 52.
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Randall
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 1:43am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Face of the Enemy

This was a great vehicle for Marina Sirtis, who finally got to stretch her legs a little. It's clear that Troi would naturally sympathize with the Commander of the Romulan vessel, but her role doesn't allow for that. Instead, she channels her anger at N'Vek, and at her situation, into a cold simmer she directs at Toreth. You get to see that anger boiling over when she smacks N'Vek down in private, threatening him to back him down and do things her way. Some of it is a performance on Troi's part, but it's clearly fueled by her outrage at being kidnapped, medically violated, and thrust into a dangerous situation to serve someone else's agenda.

The episode itself keeps the tension going, when not held up by the danger Troi is in, through the perceived mutual dislike between Commander Toleth and "Major Rakal". Half of this is an artifice, but Toleth doesn't know that. She, too, is angry, outraged by what happened to a father she has convinced herself was innocent.

Having said all that, the episode itself is more better-than-average than good. Thrusting Troi into the line fire didn't have to be quite so hasty to build suspense, and the resolution, improbably enough, is even more rushed. And a letdown, after all that tension. I mean, two women revving up for 40 minutes only to be let down in the climax is nothing new, but you hate to see it in TNG. Jokes aside, The script could have used a little tightening in the middle to make room for a more satisfying resolution.
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Randall
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 12:32am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Aquiel

Okay, okay, there are five lights! Just don't make me watch any more "Geordi the Loverlorn Incel" episodes!
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Randall
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 12:19am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Ship in a Bottle

Many of my favorite stories (particularly science fiction) tend to involve some kind of dropping of a veil between reality and what the characters until then perceived to be reality. The "mind fuck," if you will. Unfortunately, when you watch a lot of these, you start to get a sense of the oncoming twists.

Thus it was that I "ruined" this episode for myself by guessing both twists as soon as they presented themselves. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy the episode; it was great fun. But if I hadn't been 100% positive from the moment Moriarty stepped off the holodeck that they were all still on the holodeck, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it a lot more. Likewise, as soon as Picard went to see the Countess, I saw the twist ending coming.

None of this is meant to toot my own horn, but rather to say that the episode succeeds regardless of whether or not you're surprised by its twists. Everyone is on point, here, both in front of and behind the cameras. The writing was solid and snappy, and the actors (including the guest stars) were excellent.

Also, getting meta-humor right is a rare and precious thing. Barclay's final, paranoid command to empty air was an amusing ending, one that manages to suppose a viewer mindset without being obnoxious or presumptuous. (This has failed many times in tv and movies. X-Men Apocalypse's, "Everyone knows that the third movie is always the worst" comes to mind.)

It's a running gag between my BFF and I that we're living in a simulation, or a television show a la "The Truman Show". Neither of us actually believe that, but whenever something seems oddly coincidental or all-too apropos, we trot out a faux-weary, "That's life in the Matrix," and share a laugh. Picard's wink-wink, "This could all be an elaborate production for someone's entertainment" speech struck the right balance, IMHO.
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Randall
Fri, Aug 27, 2021, 8:13pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: LD S2: We'll Always Have Tom Paris

Lowers Decks rarely makes me laugh, but I do still like it, in part because they sometimes "go there" (in a tame, safe, Trek way), and in part due to the fanservice. (By which I mean when they reference nerdy shit fans used to talk about before the internet.) This episode's example was the long list of ways in which Trek characters have come back from the dead. This is an old joke among old fans, and it was cute and amusing to see the acknowledgement.

Anyway, this episode did get a laugh from me, during Tendi's from-sweet-to-brutally-commanding turns when doing the "Orion thing." I honestly didn't see it coming, though I probably should have. Also, I agree with Jammer; Mariner's discomfort at doing "fake green" was a nice bit of subtle humor the show rarely slows down for. I can see how people would feel a little irritated that Lower Decks so often doesn't treat its audience like it trusts us to get it.
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Randall
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 8:31pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

I'm not a Beverly Crusher hater like many, but I acknowledge they never really do much with her character. Therefore, I say this probably for the first time ever: Dr Crusher was the highlight of the episode, with her observations - and subsequent wager - regarding beards. I wear a beard myself, and found myself smiling at her proposition that beards are affectations, and at the defensive objections of the bearded trio at the table.
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Randall
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 8:18pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: A Fistful of Datas

I wanted to like this more than I did. I remember watching for the first time when it aired, having heard in advance the premise, and being very excited to see it executed. Well, they "executed" it, all right.

Also, it always bothers me when sci-fi writers can't imagine their way out of the place and time their shows/movies are produced in. (Every Trek has to have a character knowledgeable in some way in 20th century American culture; the TARDIS from Doctor Who has a habit of mostly traveling around the UK's history; etc.) Even Picard, the French Captain with the English accent, is an American-style noir nerd.
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Randall
Thu, Aug 26, 2021, 7:43pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: True Q

...aaaand that's Riker getting violated again. Seriously, go back and count how many times Riker gets raped on way or another. When I watched the show during its first run, I thought of him the way most people do: as the womanizing, creepily aggressive throwback. But now, I kind of pity him.
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Randall
Tue, Aug 24, 2021, 1:08am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Here we have a case of judging ideas from 30 years ago by today's standards, with all the mind-rape criticism. Which is not to say the criticism isn't accurate, especially if this episode had been made last week. But the fact is, we didn't think of consent the same way back then, and thus didn't parse out hypotheticals like what occurs in "Inner Light".

So, it's certainly right that we acknowledge this is an issue, but in judging the episode as a whole, if we don't bear in mind the times in which it was produced, we make the de facto argument that we should throw out three-quarters of all art produced before, oh, let's say 1999, and brace ourselves for our grandchildren to reject and condemn the art we make today, because something we don't even think about now will be considered barbaric and hateful by then.

It's perhaps a better idea to take these things with a grain of common sense. How much of Bill Cosby's work do we exile from our culture is not in the same realm as how we view what happens to Picard. Nobody is saying it is, of course; this is just an illustrative example. And we want to start being mindful of this, because trust me, some day, we're going to be taken to task for, say, how often we turn the sexual assault of men into a punchline in our "modern" culture, or some other example I can't even conceive of right now, but will be considered as bad as we're seeing past offenses today.
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Randall
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 9:20pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

A lot of people seem waaay too comfortable advocating genocide. Humanity has been at war countless times, but we don't accept genocide as a moral choice, even if it means our enemies continue killing us. Trek has amply demonstrated the Borg are redeemable. We don't even have to leave this episode to see that. So we're not absent any alternative; an alternative is right there, speaking in simple, halting sentences.

It says a lot that so many people think Dr Crusher has no credible argument, or that Picard is responsible for any deaths the Borg then cause. By that logic, any ship that doesn't attack Borg on sight, ram their ships if necessary, and kill as many Borg as possible, is "responsible" for every death those Borg cause from then on. Anyone who doesn't inject themselves with the most lethal viruses they can find, and immediately allow themselves to be assimilated, in order to kill as many Borg as possible, is responsible for any harm cause by the Borg they didn't kill in a suicide attack. Ridiculous.
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Randall
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 3:11pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Yeah, this episode wasn't good enough to justify the Ferengi and the slave lady. I saw a lot of mental gymnastics upthread, trying to somehow make her enslavement okay, but she was a slave. The idea she was doing it of her own free will, with no external pressure, is absolutely hilarious. There was not a single vagina within sniffing distance of this script, I guarantee you.
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Randall
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 3:41am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

More like The Straw Man Society. "We've used genetic engineering for its obvious purpose: to impose a rigid caste system, enforced by medical violence, and unable to withstand the merest alteration." "Fools! See what happens when you use genetic engineering?"

LOL What?

Also fun was the turbolift scene.
TROI: I got horny. I'm sorry.
PICARD: Shit happens, Counselor.
TROI: I'm really super sorry I had sex feelings, and I promise I'll never bring up how many times this has happened to other officers - who never felt the need to apologize. It's almost as if I've been conditioned to view my own sexuality as bad and in need of control, preferably by an external power.
PICARD: What an enlightened utopia we live in.
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Randall
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 12:56am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

Pretty much everything I was going to say about this episode has already been said in comments. I'll only add that, reading through comments, and seeing that so many of the reasons why this episode was so watered-down still exist, I thought, "Yeah. That's about what I expected to see." I give this comments section 2.5 stars.
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