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The River Temarc
Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 11:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

I just rewatched this episode, and I'm surprised at all the reviews panning it. I thought it was superb.

"Paradise" was an examination of charismatic leadership and its abuse. It was an examination of the allure of cults. These themes ought to resonate in the age of Trump and Q-Anon. Stockholm Syndrome is a thing; and of course some communities, such as the Amish (bizarre as though it might be to the rest of us) do live a luddite lifestyle.

I have no doubt that Starfleet sent a horde of counselors to this colony a couple of weeks later to deprogram them. That's not the point of the final scene. The point is that the cult can outlast its leader.

To those who say that the episode glorified luddite thought, I ask: what were you watching? Someone died from an easily-cured disease; two people were tortured, including a gallant Starfleet captain. The last shot of the two children made it clear where the episode's sympathies lie, as did Dax's line about an old Hopi adapting to the modern world by teaching a Trill rope tricks.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 3:02am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

"Humans [prefer] a compelling smile over a compelling set of qualifications. And we're poorer for it."

An interesting point, but I'm not sure I buy the conclusion. Plenty of experts counseled that by 1940, Britain stood little chance of resisting a German invasion; yet would you say we were better off without Churchill's oratory of "blood, sweat, toil, and tears"?

Similarly, in the 1930s when, yeah, the Depression was a thing -- would the US have been better off without FDR saying "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"?

Leadership is more than credentialing.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 2:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

"but watching this episode only two days after Trump's attempted coup was downright eerie."

The parallels are far from exact, though. Trump failed because he had almost no elite support, including in the military, which (setting aside the issue of who had the authority to deploy the National Guard) remained firmly true to its longstanding tradition of not interfering in politics. Leighton was exactly the opposite.

Moreover, as I noted in the review of "Homefront," Joseph Sisko's stubbornness today looks a lot more like a Covid19 denier or mask resister than anything else: there *were* four changelings on Earth, and Sisko refused to do the slightest thing for the common good (i.e., a blood test) if it would inconvenience himself.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 2:51am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

"Here's historian J Coatsworth: β€œit is not seriously in question that from 1960 to the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites, mass slaughters consistently supported or initiated by Washington."

I'd really, really like to see actual numbers, given Anne Applebaum's profound insight that the gulag was the backbone of the Soviet economy. If Coatsworth is right, it's because he's cherry picking the years of measurement, starting in 1960.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 2:39am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Homefront

It's interesting, in January 2021, to read some of the early comments on this episode, which saw Joseph Sisko's actions through the lens of 9/11 -- because today, they look a lot more like an allegory for someone who stubbornly resists masking or who embraces QAnon.
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The River Temarc
Sat, Jan 16, 2021, 1:58am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

"Indeed, if I may speculate a little outside the four corners of the story, I think that Riker would have to be something of a celebrity in Starfleet due to his defeating the Borg. Knowing what I know about Jellico, his disdain for Riker could be driven by a degree of professional jealosy, which would be made worse by Riker's loose obeisance to Starfleet protocal and his personal charisma."

That's always been *exactly* my read, or at least half of it, on the Jellico-Riker relationship. (Remember how Captain Maxwell greeted Riker in season 4 -- "we all owe you for that one.")

But the other half? There's a further layer of complexity here: Jellico is an expert on the Cardassians. Riker isn't. Riker may well think he's entitled to succeed Picard based on his Borg mission, and perhaps based on his defeat of the Romulans in "Unification," but Romulan strategy isn't Cardassian strategy, and Romuland tactics aren't Cardassian tactics. Riker thinks his strengths are transferrable to any fill-in-the-blank adversary, and they're not.

So while Jellico is envious of Riker, the reciprocal point is also true.

I've often thought that the final episode of ENT should have taken place during "Chain of Command," rather than "The Pegasus," for precisely this reason. It would have given Riker the chance to consider that Jellico had domain expertise that he, Riker, lacks. Archer learned that the paternalistic Vulcans may have sometimes had a point and that T'Pol's counsel was wise, not patrionizing. This ultimately helped Riker to agree to pilot the shuttle laying the mines.
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The River Temarc
Sat, Jul 11, 2020, 2:58am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

Andy's Friend wrote:

"As long as you obey the Emperor ― or nowadays, the regime ―, the specifics are not important. Hong-Kong and Macao are prime examples of this: most people were expecting China not to respect the agreements with the UK and Portugal, but China has, in fact, respected the two-system models agreed upon, and kept Hong-Kong and Macao as different societies than neighbouring China."

Without getting into the (fulfilling) debates inspired by this episode: perhaps you might want to re-think this statement you wrote a few years ago?
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The River Temarc
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

The problem with this episode is not that it presents a moral dilemma. Done well, moral dilemmas make great fodder for Star Trek. The issue is the execution.

First, the crew never really pinpointed the heart of the matter: whether the Crystalline Entity was sentient, and thus could be not only communicated with but reasoned with, or whether it really was (1) sentient but evil, or (2) a sperm whale instinctually feeding on cuttlefish.

If you're in the former territory, Picard has a justifiable stance. If you're in the latter territory, killing the Crystalline Entity is justified. Planets with intelligent life aren't cuttlefish. And park rangers kill bears that have mauled humans. (To be clear, Picard explicitly stated that "it may be necessary to kill" the Crystalline Entity, so clearly he's contemplated the latter territory.)

Second, Marr's character came off as a mustache-twirler from the get-go with her threats to disassemble Data. Moral dilemmas work well when each side can make a credible case (see "Ethics" for a good example), even if one viewpoint ultimately prevails (e.g., "Drumhead"). That's the opposite of mustache-twirling.

If we wanted someone to truly critique Picard, either Marr or another character needed to delve into the heart of the matter above. (Troi would have been the obvious choice; in "I, Borg," she observed that there were no civilians among the Borg. And Guinan did the same thing.) The inexplicable choice to focus the first third of the episode on boring scenes set in caves left no time to cut to the chase.

Third, you can't ignore the fact that "Silicon Avatar" is a sequel to "Datalore," and that ultimately is what undercuts Picard's position here; "Datalore" strongly suggests that the entity knows what it's doing.

So in sum: potentially interesting dilemmas spoiled by poor execution and a one-sided antagonist. "Silicon Avatar" is no hidden gem.
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The River Temarc
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Silicon Avatar

"I rather suspect that if you or your family had had dealings with a rampaging killer, you wouldn't be here defending this thing."

I actually was prompted to re-watch "Silicon Avatar" this evening after re-watching PATRIOT GAMES and vaguely remembering that the actress who played Mary Pat Foley was in a TNG episode.

FWIW, in PATRIOT GAMES, the Deputy Director of CIA, a guy named Marty, tells Jack Ryan -- whose family had been attacked by an IRA splinter group -- that "you are a victim of terrorism, and that does not make for the best analysis." The movie never followed up on this point (it wouldn't be Jack Ryan if he doesn't work at CIA!) but Marty had a point.

We do not, in Western judicial systems, let victims determine punishments -- yes, we take them into account, admit victim impact statements into the record at sentencing, and so on. But we ultimately recognize that victims do not always offer an objective prescription for the appropriate course of action going forward.

I mean, in real life, should victims of IRA terrorism have been able to scuttle the Good Friday Accords?
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The River Temarc
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 12:43am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

In a bit of retroactive continuity, it's clear that Sirella had some sympathies for T'Kuvma from Discovery Season 1. Sirella subscribes to an idealized version of Klingon history and worries that aliens are adulterating Klingon bloodlines. This sounds exactly like someone who would get seduced by T'Kuvma's ideology.

And despite 100 years' worth of changes to Klingon society between the two series, I doubt T'Kuvma's ideology has completely disappeared. (We know that there are still Molor worshippers in Kronos, for instance.)

All of this makes Sirella a lot less likeable than she already was.

All in all, I think this episode suffered from way too may cliches: the angry mother-in-law; calling off the wedding at the last moment; the caricatured Klingon bachelor party. It had its moments, and I enjoyed Jadzia's scene with Sisko and her Polynesian-themed party. And yes, I do think Worf and Dax had some chemistry; but the execution was still poor.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

"However, that again does not explain the blame everybody keeps placing on her. She was attacked, that is, the Klingon was hostile first. Not much she, or anyone else in that situation, could do to prevent it. "

1.^I agree that by and large, Burnham isn't responsible for the war. But that doesn't necessarily stop people from looking for a scapegoat.

2. It is possible that without the death of the Torchbearer, the 24 Klingon houses would not have rallied around T'Kuvma.
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The River Temarc
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

>The first mention of Spock is of his mother reading him Alice in Wonderland with a sister we (and apparently he) never knew he had?

Please tell us where Spock said he never had a sister.

>Tilly is the best theoretical physicist in star fleet?

Why is this so unbelievable to you? Because she's a woman? A redhead?

>Quantum fungus and biology=physics instantaneous space travel 10 years before Kirk's 5-year mission? Forget astrometrics. Seven should have grown some special shrooms in hydroponics. Poof! Back home in no time.

Assuming that the experiment works. Which we've no proof it will. Remember the "soliton wave" episode of TNG?

>If Burnham was raised Vulcan, why is she not even remotely embracing logic? Her moods and rationale change as quickly as the temperature in the Vulcan desert.

Because she's a human with post-traumatic stress syndrome of a terrible incident in her youth. It's the same reason why in BATMAN, a sophisticated, business-savvy scion of high society dresses up as a bat by night, rather than mingling at the country club.
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The River Temarc, in Winter
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 7:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

With the exception of the Klingon makeover, pretty much every objection I've seen as to why DSC contradicts "continuity" is bunk. To take a few examples:

>Why give Spock a new step-sister? This really stretches credibility unless we're assuming the show is a hard reboot.

Hardly. We've seen plenty of examples where Vulcans don't talk about their family as much as humans. Kirk didn't know that Sarek (who was apparently already famous as a Vulcan diplomat) and Amanda were Spock's parents. This despite the fact that Kirk attended Spock's *wedding* only a few episodes before. Kirk didn't know about Sybok, either.

And not every conversation between Kirk and Spock takes place onscreen. We don't know what Michael Burnham's fate will be, but I suspect history will ultimately remember her for something bigger than being The Mutineer.

>Why do we have an android serving on the starship of the 2250's, when the whole Data story arc from TNG pretty much precludes this possibility?

We've had androids in the Trek universe since, what, the third episode of TOS with Richard Korby? And an entire planet full of them in "Mudd's Women"? The point isn't that Data was the first android that Starfleet ever encountered. It was that he was the first *sentient* android (and frankly, in light of Mudd's Women, even that is stretching it), thanks to the positronic brain. If you want to blame a Trek series for breaching continuity, blame TNG, not DSC.

>Why have mind-melds that operate over thousands of years and ships that can traverse the entire federation in a couple of hours?

This wasn't a mind meld. It was an imagined conversation, perhaps guided by an echo of Sarek's katra. That's consistent with the whole idea of a katra. And remember the Intrepid, the Vulcan ship in TOS? Spock sensed its destruction light-years away. Spock sensed V'ger light-years away, too. Again: if you've got a problem with that, blame TOS, not DSC.

>Why do the ships in Discovery look completely different than anything we would expect from the 2250's?

They don't. We haven't seen ships from the 2250s. You're extrapolating from what a Hollywood designer in the mid-1960s *thought* ships jwould look like in Kirk's era.

>What about the design of the bridge? Are you seriously claiming that the bridge of the NCC-1701 (or something in the same style) cannot be updated to modern sensibilities?

With cardboard walls and analog buttons? Seriously? Those became dated when the iPhone keyboard came out, at best -- and likely a lot earlier. I have no desire to see a 1960s aesthetic on a modern show, or even a 1990s aesthetic.
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The River Temarc
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 3:05am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Regeneration

This episode sheds some light on one of the theories about Q: that the continuum is humanity of the far future (the secret that Q was about to tell Picard in "All Good Things," but backed off with the cryptic, "you'll find out"). As such, Q was doing Picard a favor by alerting him to the Borg's presence in "Q-Who."

I can buy the fact that this incident may well have been forgotten 200-plus years later. Certainly the much harder continuity error to stomach is why no one in "Q-Who" knew about the Borg in light of the events of ST: Generations, where the Ent-B encountered the El-Aurian refugees fleeting from a Borg attack.
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The River Temarc
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 2:01am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Carbon Creek

Love your captcha, BTW, although it doesn't respond to the word "Jellico." :)
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The River Temarc
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 2:00am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Carbon Creek

It seems to me that the people who say T'Mir was too much like T'Pol are missing the point. Carbon Creek was T'Mir's story *as T'Pol told it.* She was imagining herself in T'Mir's place, since her fascination with Earth clearly owed a debt to T'Mir and, like T'Mir, she was living among humans.

I've been rewatching key ENT episodes in anticipation of DISCOVERY. Blalock is one of Trek's more underrated actors. Her performance is much more subtle than Tim Russ', and it's up there with Nimoy and Lenard. In fact, in terms of expressing Vulcan kinethestics, I think she tops them.
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The River Temarc
Wed, Oct 19, 2016, 6:07am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: A Matter of Honor

"Also, that Bensite(?)... No space faring race would come to the conclusion that waiting until a solution has been found was beneficial to safety."

You know, I had always thought of that bit as being implausible. And yet: consider the fact that Korean Air Lines CRASHED a 747 because the first officer, who realized the plane was about to do controlled flight into terrain, said nothing, because that would involve contradicting a superior. And much the same thing happened aobut 15 years later, when Asiana crashed that 777 at SFO and again the first officer was hesitant at contradicting his captain.

In commercial aviation, these incidents led to a lot of discussion about the role of Asian culture in cockpit management. Malcolm Gladwell famously discussed this issue in OUTLIERS, although he was not the first to raise it.

If this theory is to be believed, I don't see the portrayal of the Benzites as so far-fetched. To be sure, I wouldn't want to get on a Benzite starship, and my hope is that the Starfleet way ended up changing procedures on Benzite ships, rather like KAL cockpit culture changed after the airline brough in foreigeners for a thorough safety culture overhaul.
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The River Temarc
Wed, Oct 19, 2016, 3:06am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

Sleeper prediction for the "major event": the Vulcanian expedition, referenced in TOS "Court Martial." Which would also explain the idea that Amanda Grayson may make an appearance.
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