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Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 1:37am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes

This episode gives a giant middle-finger to "Discovery". In a mere 40 minutes it does better with its Tyler/Krill plot what "Discovery's" Tyler/Klingon plot took an entire season to botch.

The differences between the two approaches are also interesting. Disco's Tyler was a human who essentially got hijacked by a Klingon, his personality split between Federation utopianism and a hyper religiously conservative Klingon. He falls in love with the female lead.

Orville does the opposite: its Tyler is a Krill who hijacks a Union human, her personality split between Union utopianism and a hyper religiously conservative Kill. She falls in love with the male lead.

"Discovery's" Tyler isn't a real Klingon, so love-bombing him with Gene Roddenberry hippie vibes is a bit pointless from the Federation's point of view. His arc mostly serves to teach Michael to love Klingons, even though he isn't really a Klingon, and even though, as a social scientist and Vulcan, she shouldn't be taking Klingon aggression so personally anyway.

In "Orville", Ed and the Union aren't racist crazies like "Discovery's" Federation, so they don't need to learn what Michael learns. The Gene Roddenberry hippie vibes flow the other way instead. Ed teaches the Krill that being space hippies might be a little bit more compassionate, moral and selfishly pragmatic (and even religious/spiritual) than their (religious) warmongering.

Or at least lays the first steps in this direction. It's a very Picard thing to do. And it unfolds in a very Picard way; no fuss, just a kind of moral clarity.

And of course aesthetically the episode is the complete opposite of "Discovery". Where Disco goes for elaborate pyrotechnics and "drama", Orville strips things down to something more intimate: 2 characters in a cave.
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Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 12:30am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Home

Whatever flaws it may have, this episode at least tries to capture the beauty of nature, the wonder of strange planets and cityscapes, the quiet majesty of moonlit night skies, the thrill of buzzing over oceans in your sun-kissed hover-pod, or running across a beach on an alien unicorn-horse-thingie. Too few works of TV scifi reach for the sublime.

The lonely homestead in this episode also reminded me of the home at the beginning of TOS' "Conscience of the King". The episode also had one neat visual: the incongruity of Ed in his sealed-off suit, which clashes with the home and its open-air inhabitants. It's a nice juxtaposition.
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Trent
Thu, Jan 10, 2019, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Home

I haven't watched this episode yet, but you guys are making it sound like Orville's pulled a Tasha Yarr with Alara. So we've had Lamar pull a Laforge (promoted to engineering after a season), and Alara pull a Yarr (Yarr left after 22 episodes, whilst this episode was originally the 2nd of season 2).

Sad news if that is true; Halston Sage's character was lots of fun.
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Trent
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

"About a Girl" was less about "trans-sexuals" and "gender reassignment", and more about "misogyny" and "sexual discrimination". It was an episode about a highly patriarchal society (a desert planet awash with arms manufactures and oil rigs; a kind of space Saudi Arabia) which treats women as second class citizens, or citizens of less value or less competency. Rather than stoning or covering women in veils, they change the sex.

The way the episode maps onto the real-life issues faced by transgender people, or those who seek gender reassignment, is very weak and superficial. Indeed, TNG's "Outcast" is a better example of an episode which tackles the pressures transgender people face (the pressure to conform to gender/sex codes when your brain and body is chromosomally pushing another way).

And the kind of "gender reassignment" we see in Orville is something almost not worth critiquing, because in real life its either obviously wrong, or done with the best intentions (to conform a person to their chromosomal sex using hormone replace therapies or sex change operations, none of which can legally be given to people before a certain age).

But this unintentionally forces the Orville episode into a icky position. Because it's not interested in critiquing literal gender reassignment, and the episode exists simply to make the point that women are equal to men, a point it can't make without demonizing a single act of gender reassignment to make a larger metaphorical point, it might come across to dumbasses that the episode is criticizing transsexual people who seek to move away from the sex assigned to them at birth.

Your stance on the episode basically boils to how insensitive you think the writer is, and how much responsibility an artist has to cater for dumbass audience members. It's a good episode IMO, but a better artist would arguably be more robust and maybe insert a blatantly pro "sex change" line somewhere. Something that really rams home that gender reassignment/conforming is in most cases a positive, vital and necessary thing.
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Trent
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

wolfstar said: "My only nitpicks are J Lee's continued weak line delivery."

Apparently J Lee was Seth's receptionist. He seems to have little or no acting training; Seth just sort of threw him a bone and gave him a starring role.
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Trent
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

I can see why this episode was held back; it's kind of icky and disturbing. But the choice to center the porn addiction subplot around Bortas - an alien male of a single gender species - also creates a kind of distancing effect. It desexualizes what might have turned into something unintentionally salacious.

Trek, of course, did many "addiction" episodes. "Hollo-pursuits" and "The Game " (underrated, and a personal fave) come to mine, and several Janeway episodes which I thought were well done. I prefer all of these, largely because they treat the issue of addiction/pornography tangentially, metaphorically, whereas Orville goes for blunt literalism (the porn dealer is himself a walking penis monster). You could probably argue, though, that the bluntness is more radical (as a statement, and as an effect on the audience?). I don't know.

Bortas' description of masturbation/orgasm as "a little death" (what the French coined as La petite mort), was a nice scene; there's something profoundly tragic about it.
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Trent
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

It seems like Orville is also poking fun at Discovery.

In the first season, the actress Michaela McManus played the female Krill who is captured by the Union and swears revenge. In the second season, she appears as Lt. Tyler, which recalls Ash Tyler the sleeper agent in Discovery. Will Orville Lt. Tyler be some kind of similar fusion of cosmetic surgery and hate?

Omicron said: "I don't think the show is "anti-intellectual". It just comes from a different perspective. A lighter, more down-to-earth tone. There's a difference between not putting an emphasis on the intellectual side, and being "anti-intellectual"."

Yeah, I think you're right. Poor choice of words on my part. Agree with your other points too.
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Trent
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

BOOMING said: "It is a rich kid fantasy...."

Booming have you seen this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn_Sgcxg5PQ ?

I suspect the reason people like Orville is precisely because it's a nerdy fanboy's fantasy. It's the class clown from your school getting a chance to jokingly play a drunken Shatner. The series, a kid's love-letter to Trek, needs someone like him in the lead: a massive manboy with a decades long dream of making a big budget Trek home movie for him and his stoner buddies.

I'm sure most Trek fans dream of a new Trek franchise with a level of sophistication (political and philosophical) that dwarfs past Trek, and which borrows liberally from modern hard SF - I know I do - but after the disappointments of Enterprise, the TNG movies, DISCO, and much of Voyager, I suspect fans are latching on to Seth's Frat Boy Trek precisely because Official Trek has, in kowtowing to various trends (aesthetic/political/philosophical), become even worse.
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Trent
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Startrekwatcher said: "Read any book about 90s trek or have seen any interview with Piller and it becomes obvious how important he was."

Amen. Piller was to TNG what Coon was to TOS; he sought out political and philosophical material, brought in fresh writers and had a big influence on TNG-era world-building. IMO DS9 was also at its best when he was involved in the early seasons.
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Trent
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

LYNOS said: "I'm learning here in the comments that this episode was actually a season 1 episode? It's also apparent to me like it or not this is a show with a single creative vision, even if last season was written by different people"

Lynos, this episode was not from season 1. From what I've read, this episode was simply supposed to be the second episode of the second season, but was shuffled around until it became the first. At least that's what others have told me. Also, Seth wrote 9 of the 13 Orville episodes thus far.

JOHNYTY said: "But the fundamental problem in this series for me is that SM writes/directs and has himself as the captain and resident casanova.. The sheer vanity of it is hard for me to put to one side."

Isn't it the opposite? Ed's romantically inept, a drunk and a loser, struggles to do action hero stuff (his female crewmen always come to his rescue), but also fundamentally a nice guy, and with only a dash of Shatneresque machismo, always played ironically.

DOUGIE said: "Kermit the Frog on Ed’s desk. This is how the writers treat the viewers of this show."

While you're right that the show is anti-intellectual (though compared to most TV, it at least aspires to say something), I think you're wrong on Kermit the Frog. Kermit epitomizes Trek and hippie values. Jim Henson was himself a massive lefty, utopian, environmentalist, did much for underprivileged kids, and Kermit such a loveable leader of oddballs. The Kermit doll is a great touch IMO, and says a lot about what Seth sees this show as: a muppet family in space.

"it’s clear the show has no reason other than to be a deep comedy. And it’s not, so the show misses completely."

This is a 45 minute long dramatic comedy. It's not aspiring to be cutting edge SF, comedy or drama. It's a slightly more straight faced Galaxy Quest or Red Dwarf, and needs to be watched on those terms.

Omicron said: "And yes, i agree that Seth isn't a great actor."

But there's something charming about him. He comes across like a kid who's just been giving a giant toybox. And the strange tenor of his voice - he's an accomplished singer - has a weird gravity, a bit similar to that of a Kirk or a Picard. There's a tongue-in-cheek pomposity to his voice which suits Trekian material.

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Trent
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

Apparently the episode was not meant to be the series premiere, but the second episode, but the order was shifted about at the last minute.

Jammer in his review heavily criticizes the "Ed and Kelly" romance, but that's what kept me from bailing on season 1. To me it recalls those Howard Hawks screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940; they're always sniping at and one-upping one another, and I feel they have good romantic/sexual chemistry. Seth himself seems to be a romantic at heart (and Ed's a romantic loser; even when he gets Charlize Theron, he comes across looking like a sap).

One thing I like about Orville is that, like TOS and TNG, there's a sense that anything can happen. It's not only episodic, but eclectic, and you get the feeling that this is genuinely a vast universe where any wacky thing can happen. In this sense it's the same universe of TOS' floating Abe Lincolns, tribbles and giant Space Amoeba. I wonder if this old school approach to scifi can even survive sans comedy in today's more cynical, realism obsessed age.
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Trent
Mon, Dec 31, 2018, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

"Orville's" massively popular on every Trek forum I visit. The fanboys are going mental for it, and it seems beyond criticism at this point. Everyone's fully aware of its numerous flaws, but there's something comforting about it that's hooking Trek fans of all ages.

Has Seth written all episodes thus far? If so, this is a staggeringly personal series; his own personal Trek fanfic.
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Trent
Mon, Dec 31, 2018, 6:54am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja


Vger23 said "It had no main plot whatsoever".

I thought it's plot was pretty militantly constructed around its themes. It starts with a cameo by Jason Alexander, famous for being in a sitcom about selfish people doing banal nothingness. We then get a deliberately banal tale of all the crew chasing their idea of love and happiness (most of whom nobly and self-sacrificially step aside to make another happy).

Troy said: "She seemed eager to watch more so we began season one from the beginning and watched the first three episodes. She liked those, too."

Similar experience. Non-Trek, non SF fans seem to like this, the relationship stuff and the comedy.
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Trent
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

Like TOS Season 2 (Amok Time) begins with Spock needing to be taken back to his homeworld to begin the rare act of procreation, Orville Season 2 begins with Bortas being taken back to his homeworld to begin the rare act of urination.

This show grows on you, mostly because of the crew camaraderie, and Seth's milky smooth voice.
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Trent
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:58am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

YourNewsWire...

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/YourNewsWire

...is famous for being a kind of troll site. It proliferates on social media, where algorithms, and targeted ads running on mined/harvested data propagate click-baity links to it, and other (often far-Right) websites.
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Trent
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I tried re-watching the first season of Discovery, in preparation for its second season, but gave up on episode 4. Everything's so manic yet superficial. I ditched it and put on an old TNG episode, where we first see Ten Forward. The sleek compositions, elegant windows and casual dialogue somehow turned this TNG set into something more spectacular and visually interesting than anything we see in Discovery. TOS and TNG made space seem weird and beautiful, but nowadays its seemingly been reduced to a canvas for droll violence.
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Trent
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 7:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

Baron said: "Overall, I thought this was a great episode, one that encapsulates TNG's strengths as a show"

It's always been one of my favorite TNG episodes as well. Yes, the village leader is poorly acted, written and heavyhanded, but the episode quickly sketches two neat alien cultures, has some excellent Picard and Data moments, and has some nice diplomacy, anthropology and politics. It's a shame Melinda M. Snodgrass didn't hang around for another few seasons. This, Pen Pals and Measure of a Man are some of Trek's more interesting and overtly political/philosophical scripts.
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Trent
Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Requiem for Methuselah

I regret my earlier comments; watching this a second time, about a year after first seeing it, I now find it a powerful and affecting episode. It also has one of Trek's great villains in Flint, and a nicely tragic ending (the death of the android, and Spock's gesture of compassion/love).

I think most TOS episodes benefit from rewatches. You need to get an initial feel for what the episode is attempting, you need time to get over your assumptions, and you need time to assimilate some of the hokiness. In "Requiem for Methuselah", this entails accepting that Kirk's going to fall madly in love within the space of ten minutes, a floating robot and a shrunk Enterprise. You accept these minor "problems", and this plays like an excellent, soulful tragedy in the vein of season 1's underrated "Conscience of the King".

What I also like is how subtly hilarious this episode is. You have a guy, Flint, who basically literally was Da Vinci, Moses, Brahms, maybe even Beethoeven, Ghandi, Jesus and Mother Teresa. He's an immortal creature trying to live the best possible life and so teach humans how not to be giant jerks. But of course he gives up - you stupid humans! - and exiles himself on another planet, where he lives in a mansion and bitterly fumes about the stupidity of man whilst building himself a hot robot chick to live with. A hundred years later Kirk comes along and steals his robot babe. Even a hundred years in the future, humans are ruining poor Flint's day!
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Trent
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Savage Curtain

What's wrong with me? I'm re-watching season 3 and finding my estimation of several episodes going up.

This episode's introduction is wonderfully bizzare and Twilight-Zoney. It's a tone subsequent Trek, in its drive for "realism", too readily avoids.

Then we get several wonderful utopian conversations with Abe Lincoln, prior to meeting Surak. His introduction is a haunting and powerful sequence. There's something so sublime and eerie about his presence.

From here on, the episode shifts gears; something that promised to be high-brow SF becomes low-brow, on-the-nose pulp. But the attempts at embedding the episode's violence with philosophical ruminations now feel edgy in light of contemporary Trek. The rock-monster is also pretty neat visually, though his motivations and dialogue are poor.
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Trent
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 10:01am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Elaan of Troyius

Maybe it's because I'm starved of Trek, but watching this for a second time made me appreciate it much more. The tragedy and plight of the alien princess really shines through once you're familiar with the plot, her warrior culture is nicely sketched, and you begin to appreciate more the way she masks fragility and innocence with aggression, fire and bluster. I thought her tears - a kind of pheromone used to trap a mate - were a neat scifi concept. The idea that an aggressive species might be pressured by evolution to develop something like this, is pretty neat.

Others above have complained about pacing; I disagree entirely. This is a fast episode, packed with clever rapid-fire dialogue. Finally, the episode makes excellent use of the Klingon's; the combat sequences and little tactical game they play with Kirk, is very imaginative.



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Trent
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: The Apple

I watched this episode last year and liked it. Watching it again today, it's gone up even further in my estimation. Indeed, it captures well what I like best about Trek: lots of planetary exploration, studying alien plant life, first contacts with primitive aliens, some political and philosophical conversations (the one in the hut is beautifully lit) and a very concise, allegorical or theatrical tale in the vein of early SF short stories. In an age of serialized drama, TOS seems so refreshing.

"The Apple" also neatly inverts the book of Genesis. Here we have an Edenic utopia in which aliens are ignorant of sex, violence and lack "knowledge". Instead of an Abrahamic God presiding over this Eden, we have a giant mechanical snake. In other words, the episode rightly portrays the Biblical God as a kind of tyrannical, oppressive figure. It reconfigures the Abrahamic God as a serpentine devil. The liberators of the Bible - Satan, who entices man with the apple of knowledge - become the humans here, in the form of Kirk and the gang. Completing the inversion is Spock, who resembles a devil, becoming a kind of spokesman for the Old Testament God: he urges against granting knowledge to the primitive aliens and urges fidelity to Starfleet laws (of non-interference). And from various philosophical perspectives, he's arguably right: a totalitarianism in which inhabitants are happy, or believe themselves to be happy, is not inherently worse than contemporary human conceptions of "freedom" and "individualism".

Episodes like this also highlight what Trek has lost in its slow shift toward "realism" and "naturalism". TOS and TNG were very stylized, theatrical, didactic, deliberately stilted, expressionistic, Brechtian and so forth. Their zany sets, orange skies, weird plants, giant snake caves and goofy aliens didn't really pull you out of the story, because the stories were already operating on very abstract levels anyway. Indeed, the type of imagination required to key into something abstract seems to make the stories even more powerful.

Modern Trek finds it hard to do this, to create forehead aliens which are simultaneously believable/symbolic, but it's still possible once you get the tone right (Dear Doctor, Duet, Outcast etc). Another option is to ditch anthropomorphized aliens altogether, and start doing hardcore xeno-science.
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Trent
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 8:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Hide and Q

If you start this episode after Tasha's meltdown on the bridge, this is actually a pretty great 30 minutes of Trek. The music is tense and moody, Riker at times feel threatening, Riker and Picard share a number of excellent conversations (you really get a sense of Picard as a skilled gamesman, as he manipulates both Riker and Q) and there's mercifully no Troi.

The standout scene, though, is this one between Picard and Q...

Q: Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

PICARD: I see. So how we respond to a game tells you more about us than our real life, this tale told by an idiot? Interesting, Q.

Q: Oh, thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps maybe a little Hamlet?

PICARD: Oh, no. I know Hamlet. And what he might said with irony, I say with conviction: What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason. How infinite in faculty. In form, in moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god.

Q: Surely you don't really see your species like that, do you?

PICARD: I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is it that what concerns you?

...which as Peter G explains above, creepily hints that humanity is potentially destined for some kind of Godhood (a byproduct of Roddenberry's Utopianism and SF's techno-transcendent fetishes, tropes which fell out of fashion in science fiction come the birth of cyberpunk, several years before TNG aired).

BTW this episode has the saddest Trek quote ever:

LAFORGE: Worf, is this your idea of sex?

WORF: This is sex. But I have no place for it in my life now.

And Q just makes the moment even sadder ("No place, micro-brain? What possesses you?")
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Trent
Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

Aside from its "action climax", this is a great episode about the seductiveness of domineering, powerful, charismatic psychopaths. McGivers, who keeps paintings of tyrants in her bedroom, is obviously attracted to a form of power which Kirk's "enlightened" era seems to have moved beyond.

Is Kirk's choice to "spare Khan" emblematic of his "enlightened" stance of criminality? Does he view Khan as a product of a different era and so give him a relatively lenient sentence?
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Trent
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:45am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

Chrome said: "Except there was no second coming in this episode, it’s a hoax...."

That's the point. Almost all religions have a second coming narrative: Maitreya's coming in Buddhism, Kalki Avatar et al in Hinduism, and Judaism, Islam, Rastafarianism and almost all New Age cults all have similar narratives about "paradise on earth" coming only when a savior arrives. The point of the episode is that this progress is achieved not by foretold supernatural dieties, but by the hands of men.

Chrome said: "but the meat of the story lies in catching a fraud in the act."

The meat of the story is that the original Ardra story - the tale of a God providing salvation to people - is itself a fraud which is hijacked by a money-milking con-artist. The second con-artist is almost besides the point.

Peter said: "I actually never did consider Planet of the Apes to be about black/white inversion!"

Planet of the Apes is pretty blatant about its race politics. In 1961, its writer Rod Sterling was asked "what he'd most like to write about next?" He responded: "I'd like to do a definitive study of segregation, from the Negro's point of view." Soon after he'd write "Planet of the Apes", a giant "what if the shoe were on the other foot?" parable about a chauvinistic American astronaut (Charlton Heston) forced to experience racial discrimination (justified along bio-genetic lines) of a type once reserved for blacks. The various revolutions in the original franchise were themselves based on the Watts riots, and tap into a zeitgeist in which some believed that black liberation struggles would threaten the security of white racial hegemony.

Charlton Heston was also cast for deliberate reasons. Heston made a career starring in epics in which Western and non-Western interests collide. In "Gunfighter Nation: The myth of the frontier in 20th century America", for example, cultural historian Richard Slotkin states that the typical Heston character was a "hard and self-willed White male", an uber conservative "who stands for the highest values of civilization and progress but who is typically besieged from without by non-white savages who greatly outnumber him and beset from within by the decadence, corruption and softness of his own society". Indeed, in the sixties Heston seemed to be perpetually fighting to defend an outpost on the margins of Western civilisation from black/brown/oriental barbaric onslaughts (The Naked Jungle, El City, 55 Days at Peking, Khartoum etc).

Peter said: "But reverse your premise and assume religion is correct (or at least worthwhile) and then you can have an alternate read, which is "if not for con artists these people could have gone very far on the power of their faith."

The episode makes it clear that the power of their faith can't get them far, as their faith demands they be crushed and enslaved. This is foretold. This is what they believe. Escaping this teleology is to break free of their faith. The episode makes it explicit that Ardra's "progress" comes at a huge cost. Intellectually defending Ardra thus forces one to pick and choose what aspects of her you deem positive; a delusional belief in Ardra may inadvertently lead to centuries of progress, but it is not belief per se, it is not an honest belief, but a denial and rejection of over half of what Ardra represents. Ardra grants you salvation only to ultimately own and torment you.

And that's the very point of the religious critique. As Data and Picard say, "Fear is a motivating factor", but an irrational and unneeded one. You don't need a fear of God to stop you beating your wife - a fear which will open you up to hysteria (the planet is literally on the verge of mass suicide), subjugation, blackmailing and cons - you have the ability to realize problems and solve things yourself.




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Trent
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 6:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

Sean said: "Besides which, Andra was saying she was their devil, not God"

A common science fiction trick is to reverse "real world things" when doing an on-screen allegory. Witness, for example, how TNG's "Outcast" codes "androgyny" as "normal" and "heterosexuality" as "gay". Witness too how the original "Planet of the Apes" franchise codes "white people" as "black slaves" and "black people" as "the ruling class". We wouldn't say "Planet of the Apes" is not about institutional racism and slavery, would we?

So here, in this Trek episode, instead of the Judeo Christian God abandoning a corrupt world and returning to bring salvation and peace, we have the reverse: a Devil Deity abandoning a perfect world and returning to bring strife and calamity. It's a heretical inversion of the Second Coming narrative (probably inspired by Clarke's "Childhood's End").

And as in Gene Roddenberrry's (a quite militant atheist) original draft for this script, it all ends with an unmasking of God. In Roddenberry's tale, we learn that the fake God was invented by philosophers- enlightened conmen. But the point is the same in both scripts: God wasn't responsible for the planet's progress or achievements. God wasn't responsible for man's Good. Rather, God hijacked these achievements. God, then, is a kind of charlatan, as is faith.

The opening teaser makes these things explicit (Data refuses to believe in a Ghost, despite the "real feelings" it pretends to give). The last segment does the same: "I tried to tell you Jared," Picard says, "you saved your own lives a long time ago". The allusion to Judeo-Christian notions of Second Comings coming to save believers and bring salvation is made explicit here, but only for the purpose of subversion. The panacea promised by religions is demystified as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. We want these things not because they are divine and holy and prophesied - the con - rather, these things are deemed divine, holy and pined for because we want them. Behavior and attitude precede belief.
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