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Wed, May 2, 2018, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
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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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:45am (UTC -5)
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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Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
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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Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

I've always viewed this episode as a blatant statement about religion. ie - living beings do not need deities to provide moral frameworks or to define or inspire their actions. Civilization, ethics and progress can be achieved without a deity parasitizing these achievements. The episode is a response to the old charge that "morality is impossible without God".

Picard says this himself at the episode's climax. Did God (Ardra) snap his fingers and transform the planet into a paradise? No, Jared the alien says, progress occurred gradually over a long period. Did God form governments and implement peaceful rule? No, the alien says, they personally formed councils and legal bodies to decide courses of actions. Did God advise these councils? No, simple beings did this, and signed non-aggression pacts and fought for constitutions. Did God, Picard ask, heal the environment and build the economy? No, the alien says, they worked toward this logically and rationally. Did God purify polluted waters and air? No, the alien says, they themselves enacted a "series of initiatives covering everything from atmospheric contaminants to waste disposal". Did God, Picard asks, at least pick up a single piece of trash? No, the alien replies, God left centuries before environmental reforms began. His point made, Picard then stands back and does his little philosophical mic drop: "What then did God do? It seems, with a great deal of hard work and courage, your ancestors changed this world all by themselves!"

It's fitting in a way that the episode opens with a coda taken from Dickens, as Dickens was a kind of materialist preoccupied with the conditions of the poor, a poor "sanctified" in place by all kinds of horrible beliefs. It's also fitting that Data, in this coda, calls a ghost out on its notion that "what a believer feels with his senses must thus exist!". "Humbug!" Data says to the ghost, "I feel your touches, but they can be from anything. I do not believe in you! You're a humbug!"
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Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Bloodlines

Jammer said: "I'm not an expert when it comes to blood-for-blood revenge, but somehow the idea of staging the creation of your enemy's son, then threatening to kill him, and then killing him, seems like a really roundabout way of achieving satisfying revenge."

Jammer said it all really. The episode's central idea is very contrived. It's a shame, because Picard and Jason's scenes were beautifully acted - you saw real longing and regret in Picard's wounded face - and this episode gives us TNG's best Ferrengi, some of whom have dementedly funny lines of dialogue ("You can pay me with your son's life!", "I insist on being paid", "There is no profit in this!").

mephyve said: "With the free sex attitude of the Trekkian future you'd think they'd have come up with some sort of birth control to protect yourself in these casual encounters."

Several above have argued that Jason should really have been Picard's son. Others say they are happy that Picard remains without child (this, supposedly, "fits" his character better; Picard does, after all, come across as a kind of celibate Renaissance man). But I like your take better: have Picard militantly argue against, and be skeptical of, his paternal links. I mean, this is the 24th century. Contraceptives are super futuristic and Picard's a meticulous and careful guy, presumably also with regards to his semen.

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Tue, Apr 17, 2018, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Eye of the Beholder

Toph said: "I actually enjoyed this episode, mostly for its transparently Hitchcockian nods."

I was just coming here to say this very thing. As a Hitchcock fan, this episode seemed to me an obvious attempt to emulate a Hitchcock psychodrama. But Hitch was expressionistic and a master of mood, framing and tension; "EYE OF THE BEHOLDER" is mostly flatly directed.

I did like, however, seeing inside the warp nacelles. New Enterprise sets really help convey the sheer size of the Enterprise D.

Like everyone else, I found Troi and Worf's romance to be utterly unbelievable. They've never been close or flirted or even been especially friendly toward one another, and yet Worf goes in for an impromptu kiss and Troi readily reciprocates without comment.

I've just realized, Chakotay and 7of9's last season random romance must have been inspired by Worf and Troi.
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Sun, Apr 15, 2018, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

Yeah, I mean Riker is literally chubby. Even in BOBW...

...he is pretty round (his weight fluctuates a lot and probably peaks in Season 7). But given that most heroes are stick-thin and perfectly chiselled, I like the idea of a Commander who's a sex symbol (within the show) and who's also comfortable enough to let his gut grow.
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Sun, Apr 15, 2018, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

"Masks" plays like a stuffy version of "The Trouble with Tribbles". Instead of the Enterprise being overrun by multiplying Tribbles, we have an alien ship info-dumping its culture upon the Enterprise's increasingly overcrowded decks. This is a great premise. A better script would have focused on the crew humorously wading through all this cultural detritus, and Picard's giddiness at being swamped with cultural artifacts.

It's a shame this episode wastes its running time on dull mysteries and multiple personalities when it could be exploring a fascinating alien civilization (though given that this civilization seems like a hokey version of an African/Mayan tribe,, that's probably a good thing).
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Sat, Apr 14, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Parallels

Let us pause to contemplate this line:

"It was Worf's shuttlecraft which traversed the fissure and weakened the barriers between quantum realities. If he re-enters the fissure in his original shuttle, and emits a broad spectrum warp field, it may be enough to seal the fissure and stop additional realities from emerging into our own."

I love how audacious Braga's scripts are, and how, because of their mind-bending nature, they always require massively ridiculous levels of deus-ex-technobabble.

TNG was famous for its deus-ex-technobabble, Picard's problems constantly being solved by:

1. Running a level X diagnostic.
2. Reversing the polarity on the X
3. Rerouting power through the X buffer and/or warp coils
4. Rotating the shield harmonics
5. Rerouting/reversing power to the main sensor array
6. Re-configuring the X subbuffer and/or the main sensor array

But Braga, nah, he literally solves problems with lines like:

"Placental barrier, maternal antibodies and amniotic fluids all serve as a filtration system. Maybe we could inhibit the intron virus by using the natural antibodies in Spot's amniotic fluid. Or locate a pregnant humanoid."

Man, Kirk had a way easier problem solving flow-chart:

1. Fight in arena.
2. Sleep with female
3. Talk into self-destruction
4. Use Spock
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Sat, Apr 14, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

I rewatched THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, having not seen it in about a decade. I was surprised at how well it holds up. Aside from some cheap Borg cube sets, and some static FX shots, this remains an excellent, iconic two-parter. More importantly, it manages to feel special; this two parter was a big, bombastic event in a series which generally played things with upmarket sophistication.

The success of BOBW, though, seems to have had a wholly negative effect on Trek. Voyager would constantly try to recapture the high-stakes bombast of BOBW, as would ENTERPRISE and TNG itself, with its subsequent two-parters, only one of which managed to match BOBWs quality (REDEMPTION 1 and 2). You also see BOBW all over DISCOVERY, each of DISCOVERY's episodes a high-stakes race against time to save the Federation from destruction from an alien, existential threat.

And let's be honest: BOBW is stupid. It's pulpy, generic goodies vs baddies stuff. But within certain limited genre conventions - much like WRATH OF KHAN - it manages to be smartly written, tense, feature good character work, and packed with iconic moments. It also does something which only TNG and Nick Meyers do well; it manages to feel nautical. With all its talk of fleets, armadas, Nelson, the HMS Victory and flagships, BOBW really makes the Federation feel like a grand ole 19th century navy. Patrick Stewart's awesome voice only adds to the charm.

Some commenters above mention that this is fundamentally a Riker episode; that's so very true. I'd never noticed this before. Peter G above also mentions PEAK PERFORMANCE, another excellent episode, and Riker's various clever tactics. This was one thing which stood out for me as well; Riker's a fabulous tactician and con artist (the episode makes a point to show Riker bluffing at poker), always coming at you at odd angles. He's also shockingly pragmatic. Without wasting a beat, he orders the death of Picard and a suicidal crash between Borg cube and Enterprise.

It also occurs to me that Riker is a fat dude, and I think this makes him interesting. He's a kind of chubby, content, happy dude who has everything he wants right there in the Enterprise. He has friends, the most famous ship in the fleet, holodecks, a constant line of babes, lots of bad food and giant quarters (rewatching TNG, I've noticed how charming Riker is; he brightens up every scene he's in). With Riker, you sense a career driven guy who's realized that, hey, after a certain point, aspirations are just but additional stress. Riker's content with his belly and his lazy life on his well carpeted floating hotel. And occasionally he saves all of humanity.

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Sat, Apr 14, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

It's interesting how GENESIS' comments are extremely negative, but get increasingly positive as the years go by. Has the generally poor quality of subsequent Trek made GENESIS now look relatively good? Has the episode been slightly misjudged?

Regardless, I rewatched it yesterday and found it to be an interesting take on the final season's obsession with family. Here we don't have an individual character meeting a family member, but an entire crew morphing into its ancestors.

Sure, everyone complains about the junk science here, but I look at it as a kind of metaphorical reverse phylogenesis; some kind of magical virus tapping into ancient junk DNA and then hand weaving it into new mutations. I thought it was a hilariously cool, high-concept and audacious idea. Wasn't surprised when I saw it was written by Braga, the king of mind-bending plots. One imagines the showrunners giving him a season brief ("Something about family, Braga") and then him writing this with a goofy grin ("Oh, Ima give you family. Ima give you a whole damn family tree!).

Obviously the episode has problems - its first act is slack and its last act "monster chases" likewise - but the middle act has a nice Cronenbergian vibe, and offers a decent take on schlocky bodyhorror. Some of the creature effects are also cool: Ogawa turns into a kind of monkey, Troi's a floppy fish and Barclay's spider-face is creepy. The final line's a hoot as well ("He transformed into a spider and now he has a disease named after him. I'll clear my calendar.")

This episode oft gets lumped amongst the worst of Trek, but I think it's fairly solid.
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Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

I don't see how Picard is "fully assessing her qualifications". He is exploiting Sito's particular vulnerability in service of manipulating her into feeling like she has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prove she has value as a Starfleet officer.

Picard repeatedly says "I wanted to make sure you got a fair chance to redeem yourself", and all his conversations with her are framed around redemption. So Sito goes into the mission conditioned to see it as a rites of passage. Picard even goes so far as to say that Sito would not have been given a fair shot at redemption on another Federation ship; this is why he saved her, and why she should defacto be grateful toward him.

An experienced person like Picard should immediately notice that this is an extremely guilt-ridden young woman predisposed to jump at anything in order to earn a promotion, earn her place and redeem her past. Knowing this, Picard's tactic should not have been to assess her by destroying her self-worth, but by assuring her that she has nothing to prove, that ideas of redemption are bogus, and that there are certain things that no Starfleet accolade or duty supersedes. Then, Sito's choice would have more weight. Insofar as hard free will can be said to exist, it would have approached something like a free choice.

But watching this episode again - and I've seen it about six times - it occurred to me that the whole thing was perhaps written to be deliberately dark and cynical. The episode matter-of-factly has Picard illegally breaking Cardassian treaties by sending probes across their lines, and matter-of-factly shows the Federation infiltrating and spying on other Empires. On another franchise, the episode would work really well as a comment on class and exploitative military hierarchies.

Peter G said: "It was all about the mission in that sense, and that was Picard's duty as Captain. It had nothing to do with grooming vulnerable people"

What is Picard assessing? What does his test achieve or prove? Sito is emotionally destroyed and made to feel worthless, is then told that "some things are not fair" and is then told that she is being benevolently "given a chance at redemption". Does this test make sense? Is it the best way to "test someone"? Does it show that Sito is "therefore capable of enduring the stresses and pressures of a secret mission"? I don't think so, but the point is that this is irrelevant. The test coaxes or pushes Sito into accepting a covert mission (of the kind she never entered Starfleet to pursue). It shows a lack of respect for Sito's dignity and autonomy. It's funny how Picard tries this same schtick on Ro Laren and she basically tells him to take a hike.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Lower Decks

Rewatching this episode, Picard seems very sinister and manipulative.

He needs a Bajoran officer for what might be a suicide mission. He finds a young, vulnerable Bajoran whose self-esteem is damaged, who is alienated, isolated, and who hungers to prove herself to Starfleet. He invites her to his room and berates her and then invites her again and praises her, an emotional roller coaster, and form of covert blackmailing, that is straight out of cult indoctrination leaflets.

Desperate to win daddy's love, the Bajoran officer gleefully accepts the mission. Finally she will be accepted! She dies. Picard gives her a eulogy.
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Tue, Apr 10, 2018, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

Wow, most of the comments here are very negative. I thought this was an excellent episodes, made better by its sense of cosmic dread, gloom and its moody score. Indeed, I would go so far as to say this is Trek's best horror episode; doppelgänger Picard - unsettling, his features contorted - is like something out of Lovecraft.

Thematically, I read this episode as a comment on death and mortality. We open with youthful eggs and then jump to Picard confronting his corpse-like double and news that his ship and crew will perish. These deaths, he learns, are a certainty. Inesapable. Fated. Picard's means of evading this fate? He will abandon the ride and go backwards in search of an out. This doesn't work so he metaphorically faces his mortality instead; he kills his corpse and goes fearlessly forward.
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Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

Oh yeah, and Troi loves deserts, chocolate and hates being a sex object, so of course her ironic nightmare will be becoming a giant sugary cake.
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Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

You can almost see Braga's mind at work:

"Let's make an episode about Data having nightmares. But what does Data dream about? What does the subconscious of a machine look like? Well, it would look logical. It would make perfect sense. The symbols would be super locked down and literal.

But why would Data need dreams and nightmares? To save the ship! But from what? I don't know...what eats you while you're dreaming? Ah, evil bed bugs! Okay, now let's tie this plot to subtext and subplot. How do nightmares affect the rest of the crew? I know: Geordi's bad at love but is being pursed by someone he doesn't like! haha, nice one Braga! What about Picard? The guy hates dull Federation meetings! What a wonderfully banal nightmare! And what's up with Riker? He's the First Officier; he's constantly annoyed by everyone wanting to call him! And Troi? She's an annoying character, let's cut her up and silence the smug mouth on her shoulder (don't want to seem too sexist, so we'll let her eat a cake of Data). Sorted." - Braga's Brain (1993)

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Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Cloud Minders

I re-watched this and, no longer distracted by the goofy costumes, found it much more powerful. Treating the zenite as a metaphor for class consciousness (rather than an attack on the IQ of the working class) also makes the episode more palatable. Some staggering dialogue too:


SPOCK: This troubled planet is a place of the most violent contrasts. Those who receive the rewards are totally separated from those who shoulder the burdens. It is not a wise leadership. Here on Stratos, everything is incomparably beautiful and pleasant. The High Advisor's charming daughter Droxine, particularly so. I wonder, can she retain such purity and sweetness of mind and be aware of the life of the people on the surface of the planet? There, the harsh life in the mines is instilling the people with a bitter hatred. The young girl, Vanna, who led the attack against us when we beamed down was filled with the violence of desperation. If the lovely Droxine knew of the young miner's misery, I wonder how the knowledge would affect her.

VANNA: Lies will not keep the Troglytes in the caverns, and neither will your starship!

DROXINE: You talk like a Disrupter, Vanna.

VANNA: I speak for my people. They have as much right to the clouds as the Stratos dwellers.

DROXINE: But Stratos is for advisors and studiers. What would Troglytes do here?

VANNA: Live in the sunlight and warmth, as everyone should.

DROXINE: The caverns are warm and your eyes are not accustomed to light, just as your minds are not accustomed to logic.

KIRK: Unaccustomed to light and warmth? That's necessary to all humanoids. Surely, you don't deny it to the Troglytes.

DROXINE: The Troglytes are workers, Captain. Oh surely, you must be aware of that. They mine zenite for shipment, till the soil. Those things cannot be done here.

SPOCK: In other words, they perform all the physical toil necessary to maintain Stratos-

DROXINE: That is their function in our society!

SPOCK: But they are not allowed to share its advantages.

DROXINE: How can they share what they do not understand?

KIRK: They can be taught to understand, especially in a society that prides itself in enlightenment.

DROXINE: The complete separation of toil and leisure has given Ardana this perfectly balanced social system, Captain. Why should we change it?

SPOCK: The surface of the planet is almost unendurable. To restrict a segment of the population to such hardship is unthinkable in an evolved culture.

DROXINE: The surface is marred by violence, like the Troglytes. But here in Stratos, we have completely eliminated violence.

SPOCK: Violence in reality is quite different from theory, is it not, madam?

DROXINE: But what else can they understand, Mister Spock?

SPOCK: All the little things you and I understand and expect from life, such as equality, kindness, justice.

PLASUS: Troglytes are not like Stratos dwellers, Mister Spock. They're a conglomerate of inferior species. The abstract concepts of an intellectual society are beyond their comprehension.

KIRK: The abstract concepts of loyalty and leadership seem clear to Vanna.

PLASUS: A few Troglytes are brought here as retainers. Vanna was one of them, as are the sentinels. They've received more training than the others.

MCCOY: That may not be easy, Jim. Medical analysis indicates the Troglytes are mentally inferior.

KIRK: That's impossible, Bones!The Troglytes have accepted personal sacrifice, a common cause. Mentally inferior beings aren't capable of that.

MCCOY: Look, I've checked my findings thoroughly. Their intellect ratings are almost twenty percent below average.

SPOCK: But they're all the same species. Those who live on Stratos and those who live below all originated on the planet. Their physical and mental evolution must be similar. That is basic biological law.

MCCOY: That's true, Spock, but obviously the ancestors of those who live on Stratos removed themselves from the environment of the mines. Therefore they avoided the effects of certain natural growths.

KIRK: Natural growths? What kind?

MCCOY: Well. I had this zenite sample sent up from the surface. Now unsealed, it would have had detrimental effects on everybody here.

SPOCK: Incredible. Zenite is shipped all over the galaxy. No side effects have ever been reported.

MCCOY: There are none after it's refined. But in its raw state, it emits a odourless, invisible gas that retards the intellectual functioning of the mind and heightens the emotional.

KIRK: The planet is full of that gas.

MCCOY: That's right. And the Troglytes are constantly exposed to it.

PLASUS: Do you really expect me to believe that that mask can achieve intellectual equality for the Troglytes?

MCCOY: There's every indication that the effect of the gas is temporary, even after repeated exposure.

PLASUS: And do your computers explain how my ancestors, who also dwelt in caverns, evolved sufficiently to erect Stratos while the Troglytes did not?

SPOCK: Unequal evolution did not begin until after your ancestors removed themselves from constant exposure to the gas, Mister Advisor.

PLASUS: Preposterous.

VANNA: It's hard to believe something which is neither seen nor felt can do so much harm.

KIRK: That's true. But an idea can't be seen or felt. That's what's kept the Troglytes in the mines all these centuries, a mistaken idea.

VANNA: Centuries ago, Stratos was built by leaders that gave their word that all inhabitants would live there. The Troglytes are still waiting.

VANNA: But soon the atmosphere will go. We'll die.

KIRK: Die from something that can't be seen? You astound me, Vanna.

DROXINE: Father, are we so sure of our methods that we never question what we do?

PLASUS: How about your education? Was that by force?

VANNA: It served your purpose at the time.

VANNA: Our demands have just begun. Here is the zenite, Captain, just as I promised.

KIRK: Thank you, Vanna.

DROXINE: Stratos is so pleasant and so beautiful. I think I'm afraid to leave it.

SPOCK: There is great beauty in the knowledge that lies below, and only one way to really experience it.

DROXINE: I shall go to the mines. I no longer wish to be limited to the clouds. Is your planet like this one?

SPOCK: No, Vulcan is quite different.

DROXINE: Someday I should like to visit it.

KIRK: Perhaps some form of mediation can be helpful in your difficulties. The Federation Bureau of Industrialisation may be of aid to you.


MARX: Not the consciousness of men determines their being, but their social being determines their consciousness. [...] But the more these conscious illusions of the ruling class are shown to be false, the more dogmatically they are asserted and the more deceitful, moralizing and spiritual becomes the language of established society.
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Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

If you start this episode at the moment Troi is stalked and stabbed in the elevator, the episode plays better; like a tight, original, 22 minute film. There is nothing outside of this 20ish minute segment that is necessary for understanding the episode. Indeed, all the episode's padding, goofy or dull moments occur in the first half.

Regarding the ensign who was flirting with Geordi, and the Admiral's Banquet subplot, I read these scenes as bits of misdirection; attempts to get you to think that the fantasies and nightmares of everyone (not just Data) were being projected and made real.

I didn't like the way the episode misused Freud; on TV, Freudian psychology is too often portrayed as a silly means of interpreting unconscious symbols, symbols which have elaborate meanings and narratives. But Freud believed the opposite; most symbols or "things" in dreams are irrelevent, accidental or simple, and it is waking life that is a kind of shared dream, everyone enacting their desires or participating in the desires of others, all of which are programmed by socio-economic, psychological and cultural forces. The typical TV version of Freud plays like a reductive game of Where's Walo?.
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Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok

Darmok and Jalad the musical:
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Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 8:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok


...counldn't resist.

This is such a classic, iconic episode, with a wonderful premise (two aliens struggling to understand one another over a campfire). Didn't realize Joe Menosky wrote it; he's quite reliable.
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Sat, Mar 31, 2018, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Interface

William B's comments above are some of the best stuff I've ever seen written about Geordi online.

As for this episode, it's all pretty bland, though I did like the scene in which Data stares creepily at his blank computer screen. It recalls that moment in Unification where he looms creepily over a sleepy Picard.

IMO the episode's VR drone/probe plot needed a more pulpy approach (rather than another tired "learning to accept loss" tale) explicitly about voyeurism and the camera's eye; something like Brian DePalma's Snake Eyes or Hitchcock's Rear Window.
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Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 6:22am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Is Discovery a rejected Voyager script?

From the Star Trek: Voyager Production Diaries:

"During the show's sixth season, Bryan Fuller, a fan of alternate timelines and mirror universes, came up with an episode concept he nicknamed "Who's Killing the Great Voyagers of the Delta Quadrant?", the title being a pun on the film Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?.

Fuller described the story as: "(...) we'd follow the crews of several alternate Voyagers. There was a Klingon crew with a "Mistress Jan'toch" – Captain Janeway in Klingon make-up – that was native to a universe where the Klingon Empire conquered the Federation two hundred years ago, a holographic crew that was essentially The Doctor to the infinite power, and several others. In each of these instances, some unseen force would destroy the alternate Voyager and its crew. Ultimately, the real Captain Janeway and her posse would discover that another alternate Voyager with a twisted Chakotay in command was responsible. He was from a universe where the Maquis overthrew the Starfleet crew. He had a personal vendetta against Janeway and Voyager, and wouldn't stop until he had snuffed each and every one of them out of existence. It was a fun, broad concept and for a brief time there seemed like a possibility that we might do it, but ultimately it never came to pass." "
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Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Enemy

"Commander, we are both ready to fight. We have two extremely powerful and destructive arsenals at our command. Our next actions will have serious repercussions. We have good reason to mistrust one another, but we have better reasons to set our differences aside. Now, of course, the question is, who will take the initiative? Who will make the first gesture of trust? The answer is, I will. I must lower our shields to beam these men up from the planet surface. Once the shields are down, you will of course have the opportunity to fire on us. If you do, you will destroy not only the Enterprise and its crew, but the cease-fire that the Romulans and the Federation now enjoy. Lieutenant, lower the shields. Leave the hailing frequency open." - Picard ("The Enemy")

The above is the best sequence in this episode; Picard mocks your cynical Game Theory with his mighty, righteous, bald head.
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Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

This episode gets alot of hate, but I thought it was a pretty good slice-of-life episode, providing you ignore its contrived "action climax" (why aren't Trek writers ever confident enough to focus on simple, mundane plots. Not everything need be a dramatic crisis!) .

Anyway, there's some style here, some good zero gravity sequences, and Sisko gets a couple nice scenes (the way he handles the disabled guest star is quite original). Unlike Jammer, I also liked the Dax/Melora runabout scenes, but then I pretty much like anything Dax does.

And of course this is the episode where the KLINGON CHEF!!!! is introduced. I wish he appeared in more episodes.
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Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

I thought this was an excellent little episode, and one of the few times Trek wrote a decent romance. What I like best, though, is how the episode sketches the Enterprise as a mundane but bustling workplace; we see stellar cartography, finally get to see some blue shirts doing work, hang out at Ten Forward, watch Riker juggle department heads, watch different departments bureaucratically fight for ship's resources, and get to explore the ship's catacombs and Jefferies tubes. I like when TNG takes this approach, something which only a few episodes do (Data's Day and Lower Decks come to mind, any others?).

This episode also inspired the "musical duet" episodes in Voyager and DS9, one of the few times TNG invented a Trek sub-genre which would be parroted by subsequent Trek series (TNG mostly elaborated upon TOS formulas).

One thing no one else has mentioned: One of Picard's final lines here is "I've lost people under my command. People who were very dear to me. But never someone I've been in love with." He chooses his words very carefully. He doesn't say "someone I love", but "I've been in love with", a kind of implied, brutally pragmatic, past tense.
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