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Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 9:48am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S2: Dead Stop

My speculation after seeing this episode is that the Breen (known in DS9 for being rather mysterious to outsiders, and for their extensive skills for freezing and refrigerating things) were the ones who built the station, and that they'd built it specifically to gather information about potential future rivals and enemies in the Alpha Quadrant by downloading information from their computers and collecting a further "hidden fee" by stealing a member of their crew for a kind of virtual vivisection. The station's very real capacity for rapidly repairing ships is what it uses to lure potential victims (though I imagine the Breen have some kind of backdoor code for when they need one of their ships repaired so that the station doesn't try to steal any of their crew). Of course, they also programmed the computer to "play dumb" and ignore any questions they wouldn't want it to answer by insisting it doesn't know what the inquirer is asking.

As to how the station could be putting itself together again at the end, my suspicion is that it never really *needed* that neural network to function; the network was merely a convenient way for it to get itself some extra processing power from its victims' wetware while waiting for the Breen to come pick them up for transport home and further study. Also, the reason the Federation didn't send any ships to attack that station later and shut it down for good (at least so far as we know) is that Archer and his crew figured they'd already done so. It's not as if they stuck around long enough to see that chilling final scene in which the station starts pulling itself back together.
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Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 5:35am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S3: Blood Fever

It's rather nice to see that, for a change, most of the complaints about the episode and rebuttals I'm seeing here are at least valid depending on which premises the ones making these arguments accept. Yes, Vorik *was* being rather rape-y with Torres in that first part, albeit more out of ignorance than malice. As he tells Tuvok later when questioned about the incident, "It felt very important not to let go. I don't know why..." and (when informed he was instinctively initiating a mating bond with her) "I didn't know it could happen that way." I think *some* of our juries here on Earth might agree that at least on charges of attempted rape, Vorik should be acquitted as not guilty by reason of insanity; he really didn't know what he was doing and wasn't in control of himself.

Also, give the EMH some credit here for being right about how "Victorian" the Vulcans are about sex: how exactly was it being at all helpful to Vorik to keep him in the dark about what his Vulcan mating instincts might drive him to do so he wouldn't anticipate his baser impulses and be prepared to counteract them? It evidently didn't occur to any of his fellow Vulcans to tell him "If the female rejects you, turn around and leave immediately, or you might succumb to the urge to form a mating bond with her against her will, which is considered sexual harassment to a degree equivalent to attempted forcible rape in the vast majority of humanoid cultures, particularly including our own and the Federation's." On this point, any indictments for Vorik's execrable behavior will have to be lodged against his entire culture rather than himself.

As for Torres, it's worth noting that her aggressive advances on Paris are indeed very reminiscent of a date rapist's behavior, particularly if we consider how some of the things she says to him would sound to us if we were to flip the script and have him recite some equivalent of her lines back to her: "This isn't like you, B'Ellana; you were never one to play hard to get!" "I've seen the way you looked at me when you thought I wasn't watching; you can't tell me you're not interested!" At the same time, since Torres is as much in the dark about what the Pon Farr is doing to her as Vorik, Vulcan culture will have to bear the majority of the blame for her creepy behavior here too. The Federation's doctors are the only non-Vulcans who know much about the Pon Farr at all, and probably only from observations in the medical logs of a certain Leonard McCoy, who might have thought it an unethical breach of patient-doctor confidentiality to disclose certain embarrassing details about Spock's behavior while he was under its influence.

Concerning Paris, his behavior throughout the whole ordeal was rather exemplary on the whole, though not so altogether noble as to be unrealistic. While we should know better than to believe the popular myth that "a man is *always* eager" to have sex with any woman he finds at all attractive, the double standard concerning the social acceptability of sexual aggression between a man and a woman did not arise in a vacuum: statistically speaking, men do generally tend to have a stronger sex drive than women, women will tend to bear the majority of any adverse consequences arising from sexual irresponsibility, and women do therefore usually need to be more defensive and selective than men.

As such, while Tuvok is indeed practicing something of a double standard in asking Tom Paris to help B'Ellana Torres in a way he never would have asked her to help Vorik, one can make the case that he's not wrong to do so. Also, while Tuvok clearly was pressuring Tom to mate with B'Ellana, he was making a *request*, not giving an *order*. If Tom *really* didn't want to do it, he could still have said "I'm sorry, but I just can't go through with this." (For an added twist, he might also have said "Why don't *you* do it, Chakotay? I think she still might carry a torch for you. Or how about you, Tuvok? You Vulcans are the ones who got us into this mess, so how about cleaning up after yourselves?")

Concerning other complaints about this episode: in just about every one of these reviews, it seems like somebody always brings up the question "Why are the crew sending so many of their main officers (in this case their Chief Engineer, their best pilot and all-around hyper-competent Lieutenant Junior Grade, their main Security Officer, and their First Mate) out to face unknown dangers when a team of reasonably well-trained team of Red Shirts would do?" To that complaint, all I can say is "You've got a point, but that's an original sin of the entire franchise; if you can't suspend disbelief about this particular break from reality, you're just going to have to stop watching every Star Trek series altogether."

Does this episode throw out some of what TOS episode "Amok Time" taught us about how the Pon Farr works? Maybe, but most of the claims I've seen here are speculative: "Amok Time" did not establish that Spock's successful resolution of his Pon Farr came from thinking he'd just killed his best friend; in fact, his ex-fiancee tells him she was expecting he'd release her from their marriage pact whether he won or lost, which suggests the combat itself *was* sufficient to resolve his Pon Farr. "Amok Time" also suggested that Vulcans typically need to go home to their planet to take their preselected mate, and won't be satisfied with any other, but the third Star Trek movie suggests otherwise: an experienced Vulcan female was able to help the rapidly maturing young clone of Spock through his first Pon Farr by mating with him. Vorik's attempt to take Torres as an alternate mate, ineffective as it was, therefore seems consistent enough with the previous lore.

"Amok Time" does establish that the ritual combat typically had to be a brutal duel to the death, but it doesn't establish whether this demand was instinctive or merely traditional; given what a rigid and demanding matriarch Spock's grandmother (who presided over the duel) was, it may well have been the latter. Also, with Torres championing herself, Vorik killing her would logically tend to contradict the whole purpose of the ritual combat unless necrophilia were common in individual Vulcans and enshrined in their culture and its traditions which... suffice to say, I seriously doubt to be the case. Torres not being a Vulcan at all, she obviously didn't have any cultural mandate to kill Vorik (though I suspect the ritually violent Klingons would tend to hold this particular Vulcan tradition in high regard).

Why the EMH's attempted holographic solution (the virtual Vulcan T'Pera) didn't succeed? Probably for the same reason the Vulcans can't just masturbate their way through Pon Farr: the instinct requires two to tango, and Vorik wasn't quite able to convince himself T'Pera (a holographic NPC, and evidently not much of a conversationalist) was loving him back. Tom Paris was able to make the EMH's proposed solution work better for Tuvok in "Body And Soul" in the 7th season, but that's because the hologram was of Tuvok's *wife* whom he knew to be alive, still in love with him, and eagerly awaiting him at home; of course Tuvok and his wife were a lot more experienced than Vorik, and he could easily convince himself that his wife was loving him back, even if only by proxy. (What his wife was doing to resolve her Pon Farr at this time, I can only wonder; maybe Tuvok was considerate enough to send her a discreet romantic message with a holo-replica of himself enclosed.)

On the whole, therefore, while I'd say "Blood Fever" fudges on the Pon Farr lore a little bit, there's nothing in there that flat-out contradicts previous canon. While some of Pon Farr's creepier and more disturbing implications are definitely explored in depth here, it's done in a sufficiently light-hearted and humorous way to keep it from getting too squicky while helping advance a romantic pairing between Tom and B'Elanna. Having that Borg corpse turn up at the end, while it goes slightly against previous lore about them (TNG established that dead Borg drones are typically beamed back up to the cube and recycled for their parts there), was an effective hook for the next few episodes. In this site's four-star rating system, I give it a solid three-and-a-half stars overall.
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Tue, Apr 25, 2017, 9:59am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Rascals

2 out of 4 is just about right, as only 1 out of the 2 plots in this story really worked. The main adults-turned-into-children plot actually raised some interesting questions about how various people would deal with the rather mixed blessing of being so extremely rejuvenated (without any certainty that the effect can be reversed). The "Ferengi take over the ship and the crew have to take it back" secondary plot seems more like filler material than anything else, a ridiculous contrivance just to provide the adults-turned-children a situation that conveniently turns their problematic condition into an advantage.

Really, for all the hokey techno-babble in the explanation of how the transporter turned the adults into children, watching the ways they deal or... fail to deal with their transformation is pretty much the best part of this episode. I really would have liked the whole thing a lot better if the writers had cut out the secondary plot altogether and just focused on the adults-turned-kids trying to adjust to their situation. Yes, watching Riker flim-flam the Ferengi engineer with a lot of technical gibberish was pretty hilarious, but I would gladly trade that for a running gag of teen Picard repeatedly having to explain what happened to him to everyone he knows everywhere he goes. ("You know, Admiral, I am REALLY beginning to get tired of explaining this for the umpteenth time...")

Actually, the real crime the writers committed concerning this episode is that they never thought to bring back the new use for transporter technology they accidentally discovered in this episode for any other Star Trek story ever again. As some other reviewer once pointed out, had Starfleet perfected the rejuvenation technique Picard and his crew discovered here, the whole Star Trek: Insurrection movie need never have happened. To rub the writers' oversight in further, a certain fan fiction writer eventually *did* write a story based on this technology ( that would have made just as good an episode of the show as anything in its actual canon.

With Miles and Keiko, I can understand why the show's writers really wouldn't want to pursue their dilemma any further, as his decision either to stay with his wife and try to make his marriage work (meaning he'd have to try to get over his squeamishness about satisfying her in bed) or take the coward's way out by divorcing her (over a situation that is in no way her fault) would surely have ticked off a lot of the show's viewers either way. Still, just bringing up the O'Briens' dilemma at all surely earns the writers some praise for leaving the viewers a tricky question to ponder. In fact, it inspired at least one author to put the characters in his novel ( in a similar situation and then have them come up with a controversial (but effective) solution.

Then too, as some of your commentators here have pointed out, having Ro Laren keep her youth and try to have a happier childhood the second time around might have taken the whole Star Trek franchise in some more interesting directions and allowed for more character development, especially since her adult actress Michelle Forbes refused to stick around for Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Really, I don't think the franchise's writers ever fully appreciated all the potential material for follow-up stories this episode left them. They must have been too busy trying to forget their severe misfire with the secondary story to realize how successful the primary story of this episode was.
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Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 7:17pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S6: The Voyager Conspiracy

What's really funny about this episode is that it aired well BEFORE 9/11, and predicted the manner of lunacy we were to see from the Truthers remarkably well.

Of course, Truthers are hardly the first cranks ever to act that way. Even back before they were trying to claim that the Mossad did a controlled demolition of the WTC towers, a lot of these nutcases were trying to blame Jews and Israel for everything bad that has ever happened in the world ever, EVER, and "debunk" the Holocaust with the very same rapid-fire-random-data-points-and-tie-them-all-together-into-a-conspiracy-theory method Seven uses here.
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Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 6:42pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S3: Coda

I agree with Ryan on this one. "Coda" was basically a "maybe it's the afterlife, maybe just the alien-of-the-week" plot which is deliberately left unresolved. The initial time-loop sequence, in addition to being a red herring, was there to suggest that whichever it was, this fellow come to claim Janeway did have some control over time and he WAS showing her a possible future.

What nobody seems to notice is what I think is the best part of all: the ending in which Janeway basically tells her log she sure HOPES this was just another one of those bizarre alien anomalies local to the Delta Quadrant and that she's left him behind for good now, but that considering what she's heard of other near-death experiences back in the Alpha Quadrant, there's really no way she can ever be sure. Might Janeway really have met a demon come to drag her to Hell?

Good question, though of course the episode has to close without answering it in order to keep from saying for sure whether Satan or something like him really does exist in the Star Trek universe, which would in turn raise complicated questions of whether that means God is there too and what kind of dealings with each of several million different sentient species in the Milky Way alone such a God would have. (Is the same guy in charge of Sto-Vo-Kor and the Divine Treasury, or are Heaven and Hell franchises or something?)

One reason I like this kind of episode so much is it's the very kind of story that the hopelessly naive humanist Gene Roddenberry never allowed while he was alive for fear of losing his foolish faith in humanity's supposed inherent goodness. "Go back to Hell, coward!" indeed!
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Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 6:03pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S1: The Alternative Factor

Actually, when I look at this episode, I see a potentially good story somebody was trying to make that obviously didn't quite manage to emerge on the screen. If I understand the technobabble correctly, one Lazarus was from the regular universe and the other from an anti-matter universe. If you put matter and anti-matter together, they'll explode, so obviously mixing one universe with the other would cause both to explode, and one Lazarus was determined to stop this at any cost while the other hated him and was determined to kill him at any cost, including the destruction of all the universe.

The story that this could have been? Had the technobabble been done better, maybe this whole situation would have made more sense. Also, instead of suggesting the whole universe was at stake, simply suggest you'll get a supernova-sized explosion if a planet from the other universe gets through, and worse if more than that does. Suggest also that tragic and disastrous stuff like this has happened before because there wasn't any Enterprise around to intervene (which might even make it a little more justifiable that the Enterprise keeps running across all these world-threatening cosmic events week after week; hey, here's what happened when it was Cyrano Jones who encountered the world-threatening anomaly instead--the whole sector got fried).

But what would have made it the best of all would be if anyone had been looking forward to the revelations of a slightly later episode. Imagine this ending: as the U.S.S. Enterprise goes its merry way after resolving the situation with Lazarus, the scene suddenly flips over--literally--to the anti-matter universe, where a certain other Enterprise is just arriving...

Kirk: "What was that? Spock, what the hell just happened down there?"

Spock: [Strokes his beard.] "I am unable to make any determinations at this time, Captain..."
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Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 5:11pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S2: Whispers

It was a rather well-done mystery, though given some of what we saw in other episodes, it occurred to me from the start that Sisko might well have good reasons for trying to put something over on O'Brien. After seeing some of Sisko's underhanded dealing with Starfleet and how cleverly he could subvert the spirit of his orders while following them to the letter, that he might arrange some distractions to keep O'Brien busy and out of the loop was entirely believable and consistent with his character.

I do agree that last scene seemed a bit odd. It's tragic enough that O'Brien is dying for basically doing what he believed to be the right thing; having him send his last regards to Keiko seemed a bit strained and over the top, especially considering what would have to be his lingering doubts that she really was the Keiko he knew and loved.

The whole plot, incidentally, is very similar to Philip K. Dick's short story "Imposter" in which it turned out the unwitting imposter's realization that he was an imposter was also the trigger for his hostile programming (which instantly detonated a nuclear explosion on Earth so enormous that the last line of the story says it could be seen all the way to Arcturus). If Sisko or anyone on his staff had ever read that story, it makes sense that everyone would try to avoid tipping the duplicate O'Brien off to his condition until they had him either completely subdued or safely away from the station.
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