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Trent
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Jason said: "I don't hate trans people. But the activists who advocate for them I don't just hate but loathe. Anything to spit in their faces. Whatever they hate I love. "

I don't hate desegregation, just those big city folk who push them blacks on us! If they want to integrate, let them do it on their own terms!

I don't hate gays, just the egg-head libruls that keep parading them about! They'd stay quiet and out of sight if others didn't dangle 'em about in everybody's dang face!

I don't hate trans folk, just the big city folk who keep...

etc etc etc. We've seen this all before. The excuses and rationalizations are always the same.

Peter said: "I think it's reasonable to take a position if one feels strongly about it..."

Yes, but you don't go up to a black woman the day after she's been given the right to vote, and diss her for marrying a white dude ("SISTER, YOU DON'T NEED MEN!"). A trans person yearning to be "normal" all their life, and who yearns for a kind of acceptance and assimilation, is going to react badly to being told they're "bad" and "wrong" for wanting the things they're now suddenly allowed to have.

There's a time and place to push for certain things. Heteronormative people can barely tolerate such gender questions, and you're going to push that on trans people now, in 2020? Talk to them. They view this as persecution.

Peter said: "Just a few years ago, for instance, it was practically unheard of for anyone to support the idea of a UBI, but now at leas the concept has been normalized to a large extent (ironically thanks to Covid-19) and it's not quite so radical."

Yeah, but a lot of "radicals" pushing the "trans folk should make their own genders!" stance are genuine reactionaries. It's a lot of Christian and women's groups trying to protect old conceptions of maternity, womanhood and marriage. They feel their little protected spaces, distinctions and taxonomies breaking down ("Trans women aren't real women!").

And meanwhile you have a subset of radical feminists who place an ingrained hatred of men onto trans women ("You're just another deceptive man!"). It's hard to find actual feminists who both recognize, say, trans women as women, AND who advocate for all folk to reject traditional gender norms. Most have ulterior motives. And surely a real gender abolitionist would embrace the subjectivity of socially constructed notions like Man and Woman anyway.

And so when people who tend to hate you, and who don't recognize your existence, are coming at you constantly with these arguments ("Hey trans folk, you don't need our gender constructs! Nobody does!"), you're going to understandably reject these arguments outright.

Peter said: "That's how these things work, people don't just flip on a dime from lifelong convictions."

Yeah, paradigms mostly shift when people start dying off, or when forced by laws. I think trans people will reject the aforementioned arguments, then rediscover them themselves in a couple generations time.

Omicron said: "I find your complaints of "fear-mongering" to be downright hilarious, when 70% of your last post was nothing except fear-mongering..."

You are misreading. 70 percent of my post was fear-mongering, because I was quoting the beliefs of idiots. Murray is an idiot. And an alt-right racist and transphobe. Anyone uncomfortable with how their own personal anti pronoun, anti activist, anti trans, anti puberty blocking beliefs aligns with Murray should either not cite Murry as an example, or mount less ridiculous defenses of their views.

Omicron said: "Accusing pretty much everybody of being a conspiracy alt-right racist homophobe"

Quit saying i'm alt-right! Yes, I know you didn't say I'm alt-right, but quit making me infer it! Also, watch as I label everything I hate as creeping authoritarianism and watch as I casually demonize and stigmatize everyone as alt-leftys and sneaky radicals! Grrr, those damn activists! They're making me hate good people! Grrrr!


Dave said: "Threatening reprisals over words covered by the Constitution isn't going to make anyone more sympathetic to the cause."

Nobody is legally threatening reprisals over wrongful pronoun use. You are wildly misunderstanding how free speech laws work. These laws have been applied to you, and your gay identity, for decades, and you did not bat an eyelid.

Dave said: "It just creates resistance and a lack of inertia towards social acceptance."

The science says the precise opposite. Laws enshrine and hasten forms of social acceptance. You make it legal for women to drive, and society accepts women drivers. You make it illegal to segregate schools, and society accepts mixed schools. You make it illegal to abuse animals, and cruelty becomes stigmatized. You close tax loopholes, and dodging becomes more unacceptable. You implement sexual harassment laws, and sexual harassment goes down. You implement climate laws, and nature is respected more. You extend hate speech laws to trans folk, and you protect trans people.

Conversely, you do not mandate that schools be desegregated, and segregation goes on. You do not abolish slavery, and the south maintains its slave plantations. You do not extend hate speech laws to trans folk, and you make it easier to harm them, or pass legislation persecuting them etc etc etc.

Those who hide behind this rhetoric - "stop telling me what to do! It only makes me hate you more!" - are rationalizing an aversion to a position they were never interested in, or would never have held.

And the cartoonish little "trans folk are coming for our pronouns" and "activists are using pronouns to implement some kinda gender dystopia!" scenario they believe in, exists only in their minds. Like every other hysteria.

Dave said: "I do think it amusing that no one would accept a company punishing someone for exercising their religious rights or the employee's right to protest..."

You've got things back to front. We regularly mandate that companies don't use "religious rights" as an excuse to persecute customers, and the folk in countries like the US or Australia who are pushing through laws (the Religious Freedom Bill, the Fairness for All Act etc) allowing religious folk to persecute customers along religious lines (LGBT, trans or, in the past, black people), are the same folk who don't want to talk about trans people and their pronouns, and who don't want employees, especially trans employees, to have a right to protest and protection.

Dave said: "Just because someone expresses views disliked by the majority isn't enough justification to stifle their right to speak or deny them jobs or business opportunities. "

You do not understand how free speech laws work, you do not understand how hate speech laws work, and you do not understand the criteria necessary for a court of law to curtail one's right to free speech. This is a paranoid fantasy.


Slacker said: "AND administering puberty blocking drugs to a prepubescent are appalling."

This is the same absolutist thinking common in those opposed to abortion. We know banning abortions leads to more abortions and more problems, we know legalizing abortion leads to less abortion, and every sensible person knows killing babies is wrong, but that this must be nevertheless balanced with a woman's rights, a parent's rights (if the mother is underage), various medical criteria and so on; and so the setting up of term limits for abortions, and various planned parenthood departments etc, is a kind of nuanced, balanced approach to the issue.

In a similar way, absolutist thinking plagues thinking about trans people. Yes, forcing a kid to "wrongfully take puberty blockers" is bad, but a transgender kid being forced to go through puberty is equally devastating (depression, suicide, anxiety, low education performance, self harm etc), treatments are reversible (you fully reverse within 2 years of stopping the blockers, and the process can be cut down to mere months if you take hormone boosters), less than 0.1 percent of people regret them (about 3.9 regret them in the sense that they're socially persecuted for the decision), puberty blockers are not the same thing as hormonal therapy (which is not typically prescribed to kids), and kids must meet strict criteria and testing by counselors, psychologists and doctors before being approved for blockers, so that the experts involved are as sure as possible that gender incongruity is present. And these things aren't rushed. It takes years to be approved.

A kid begins to form its gender identity by 3 or 4 years old. These are not naive, confused little things that magically figure themselves out by 18. And scientists are not trigger happy ideologues itching to pump kids full of drugs and trans up the world. Nor can they do this stuff without parental consent.

The fear of legions of kids "transed up" against their will is the same fear of legions of kids "gayed up" by teachers talking about homosexuals. It's a non issue. Experts are hyper-critical of what they're doing.

Slacker said: "Pffft. I'm largely with Rowling..."

Rowling says stupid stuff, lies a lot, believes in the "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" conspiracy, and routinely cites bad science (data harvested from people surveyed on anti trans sites) . She doesn't consider trans women real women, and her chief schtick is the following silly argument: she thinks making it too easy to identify as a woman will lead to men claiming they're trans in order to enter women's bathrooms and abuse them. She’s taken one possibility, inflated it to a strawman, and used it to justify being wary of all trans people, whilst also ignoring how anyone can dress up as a woman and enter a woman's bathroom anyway.

It's interesting that all the major young Harry Potter actors publicly condemned Rowling for the stuff she's been saying over the past four years. It's a generational thing. Older people, and religious folk like Rowling (the "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" theory she promotes originated from a single Christian researcher from rigged data) , just tend to be more scared (BUT ACTUALLY CONCERNED!) of trans stuff.

Slacker said: "Although I don't know how they feel about women's sports."

That's a different issue and a legitimate concern or problem. Sports have started to employ strict rules regarding the amount of hormones you have, to make it harder for trans men or trans women to just roll up in a tournament and out class everyone else.

Slacker said: " However, I also agree with @Dave in MN that it's wrong for someone to face legal consequences for being rude outside the workplace."

That's not how laws work, as I explained some days ago. Hate speech must meet very specific, legally established criteria, for a court to back away from one's right to free speech. This is a false issue and kind of paranoia.

Omicron said: "As a person who frequently encountered prejudice in their own life..."

Murray is gay. Black people can be deeply homophobic and sexist despite facing extensive racism. Encountering prejudice doesn't make one immune from instinctively adopting other forms of prejudice.

Omicron said: "I'm also a big fan of Star Trek's dream of a world where people just accept one another for who they are....And yet, these PC warrior types drive me completely crazy. ..aggressive kooks.... etc"

Case in point. This kind of visceral reaction is wildly out of proportion with reality. There is no pronoun policing SJW armada flocking to Clockwork Orange your brain and feed your puberty blockers.

Omicron said: "the perfect response to anybody who dares accuse J.K. Rowling (of all people!) of fear-mongering or intolerance in general. Pffft indeed."

Rowling, who coincidentally writes under the pseudoname of the guy who pioneered gay conversion therapy, who willfully lies about a court case (Maya Forstater), who's buddies with Magadalen Burns (a woman who describes trans people as "black face actors" faking it for "dirty f**king perversions"), who lies about science, who promotes the "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" conspiracy, who cites a single paper derided by the scientific community to promote her views on "desistance", who thinks kids "fake being transgender because they're mentally disturbed" or "want to be trendy", who thinks "trans women aren't women", who thinks trans women are a threat to cis women (again, the science says otherwise: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pon.0016885), who mis-cites a paper to prove that "transitioning makes people suicidal" which led to the researcher of the study releasing a paper explaining why she's wrong etc etc etc, is your go to expert on trans issues, and not Ron, Hermoine, and Harry Potter, who thinks she's an aggressive kook? Okay then.
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Trent
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 8:37am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 1

Slacker said: "I would say the standalone door and the guardian who speaks in riddles are just sort of collectively owned tropes."

Yeah, the "magic door" standing there and "being policed by a guardian" is a trope that everyone's seen and absorbed at one point or the other. I'm sure I've seen this countless times in cartoons as a kid, then in comics, and twilight zone episodes, and encountered it in SF short stories or fantasy novels. It's a super familiar set of tropes and archetypes.

As for its appearance in this episode, it didn't bother me. I've always liked when Trek indulged this Twilight Zoney style of SF, which is very very hard to pull of nowadays.

Quincy said: "There are all kinds of Easter eggs on the paper that Carl is reading front and back, referencing different episodes, like TNG: "Relics," TNG: "The Last Outpost," TNG: “Parallels,” TOS: "The Gamemasters of Triskelion," and of course the name of the paper Carl is reading, as well as, one of the headlines from TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever."

A neat detail, and a funny selection.

The "gateway" we see in this episode itself seems like a "relic" or "last outpost" which grants access to "parallel" universes and which is presided over a "game master" akin to the rulers of the gate in "City on the Edge of Forever"
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Trent
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 1

"Terra Firma" opens with David Cronenberg talking to Doctor Culber about Phillipa. In a scene which seems to exist solely to get Phillipa off the show and into Alex Kurtzman's "Section 31" spinoff series, we're told that Phillipa will soon die due to technobabble.

As a result, Michael and Phillipa travel to an alien planet where they conveniently find a Superbeing with a Magical Gate. Phillipa travels through this gate and ends up back in the Mirror Universe.

This is all contrived, overly convenient and unwanted. Nobody cares about Phillipa the character, nobody buys her relationship with Michael, nobody understands why exactly the Discovery's crew like her, nobody understands whether she's a genocidal warlord or goofy comedic sidekick, and nobody wants a return to the Mirror Universe. All these things serve only to remind of the bad decisions made in season's 1 and 2.

Even worse, is nu-Trek's inability to STAY ON TOPIC. Season 1's Klingon Civil War quickly gave way to Mirror Universe Madness. Season 2 started off as a cosmic mystery and then ended up with parallel spore lands and Mommy Red Angels. "Picard's" first season promised a tale of refugee crises, and ended up with Borg cubes, tentacle monsters and magic holograms.

Season 3 of "Discovery" seemed to be avoiding Kurtzman's Attention Deficit Disorder tropes, seemed to be sticking firmly on-topic, only to now deliver what seems to be a Mirror Universe two-parter, which either exists outside its main "restore the Federation" arc as a device to get Phillipa into her own show, or will be tied into the arc, and so render it silly.

Yes, this episode is "Discovery's" best Mirror Universe episode. Yes, it is interesting, dramatic, well-directed, clever in places, and the tension between Mirror Michael and Phillipa is gripping in a tawdry sort of way. The way Phillipa returns to her past and finds herself presented with a means of re-writing her future is also intriguing (how changed is she by her experiences in the Good Universe?).

But the episode also derails the flow of the season. The "restore the Federation" arc can stand on its own. It doesn't need constant asides and interruptions. And even a good Mirror Universe or Phillipa episode only serves to remind how bad the idea of Mirror Phillipa is in the first place, and how poorly written this aspect of the show has been in the past. This stuff should all be ignored. If you want Phillipa out of the show and in her own series, do it quickly and fast, like ripping off a band aid.

Maybe the season ties this respectfully into the Federation arc - perhaps the super being revealed here is responsible for the Burn - but it's hard to see how.

Anyway, despite these complaints, "Terra Firma" is one of the season's better episodes. Adira and Stamets continue to work well together, Saru continues to be one of Trek's greatest captains (tragically stuck in a schizophrenic series), Admiral Vance gets a great scene in which he teaches Saru about lifeboats and Michael's mostly fine. Meanwhile, over in the Mirror Universe, Evil Phillipa gets, for the first time, material with some nuance and complexity. We also get a glimpse of Evil Michael, who's convincing as a sociopath.

There are some minor bad moments - an alien superbeing incongruously says "pissed off" (this show too often slips contemporary slang into its dialogue), Phillipa tries to kill Michael in the gym with an axe (Why do people let this woman walk around unguarded?), characters nonsensically chant "Terra firma!" (Why are they shouting "Dry Land!"?), and the USS Discovery fully turns into a Mary Sue Ship (it has an insta-spore-drive, programmable matter technology, and now has a computer filled with data from an all knowing Sphere; the ship is now officially the smartest Federation ship in Trek!) - but given how awful season 1's Mirror jaunts were, this episode is kind of classy.

In a way, the episode makes lemonade with a whole lot of totally unwanted Alex Kurtzman lemons. Did anyone, last week, really want a Mirror episode? An episode about Phillipa? An episode which sets up a Kurtzman spinoff? An episode which again stalls the Federation arc? No. But if Kurtzman is ordering to you to juggle his sour lemons, it takes some skill to make it as palatable as this episode was.
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Trent
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Spock's Beard said: "DOUGLAS MURRAY reveals how transgender rights have become one of the most toxic issues of our age..."

Douglas Murray, who believes in the White Genocide Conspiracy, compares immigrants to the AIDS virus, worries about "rising Islamic birth rates" and "white Britons becoming a minority", spreads the "Great Replacement" conspiracy, advocates discriminatory policies against Muslims, is awash with Koch Industries dark money, has financial connections to far right groups and think tanks (Gatestone, Generation Identity etc), pimps for the English Defense League, the racist Pegida movement, the PragerU propaganda network, publishes climate change denialism, thinks that racist spree shooters might have "had a point", tweets quotes by Mussolini/fascist admirers and thinks that authoritarians, and wackos like Viktor Orbán, are better sentinels of "European values", is scared of transgenders?

Gee I wonder why.

Spock's Beard said: "JK Rowling calls for end to 'climate of fear' around trans debate after being sent 'heart-breaking' letters from women who had irreversible gender reassignment surgery"

If anyone's contributing to a "climate of fear", it is undoubtedly Rowling.

A study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212091/) of surgeons performing trans-related care found that of a combined total of 22,725 transgender patients, 62 reported transition-related regret. This is under 0.3% of patients who seek trans-related surgery. This number also included patients who regretted transition because of social ostracization, medical complications, etc. Only 22 reported a change in identity/desistance. That's 0.1%.

There is no conspiracy to turn your kids transgender. There is no conspiracy to "police your speech". There is no conspiracy to "make you say pronouns". There is no conspiracy to "give kids puberty blocking drugs" and "make them irreversibly turn transgender". There is no "climate of fear" about discussing transgender issues. These are paranoid delusions. And when folk with delusions come up against reality, they tend to develop persecution complexes.

Notice too that transphobic ("We're not haters, we're just SKEPTICAL! and CONCERNED!") people are always ignoring experts and alluding to "anonymous letters", vague stories, hunches and isolated incidents to boost their paranoias (as though experts and scientists aren't already second, third, and forth guessing themselves to hell. As though science itself doesn't have, like a submarine sonar, its own self-correcting ping-effec).

We've seen this all before. People thought "teaching kids about gays" would cause "gayness to spread". They thought homosexuality was a choice. They thought homosexuals were faking it ("It's all in your mind!"). A civilization-ending aberration! Political correctness gone mad!

Similar paranoid hysterias surrounded the end of segregation, the end of anti-miscegenation laws, and the emancipation of women. It's always the same old arguments, the same old fears, the same old rhetoric.

And always such fear-mongering rhetoric is used to erect obstacles to things like transition care. You'll never find such folk advocating for things like ensuring that high-quality and comprehensive information are provided to all patients. They'll never call for the destigmatizing of exploring one's gender identity, so that people exploring their identity do not feel locked into making decisions before they're ready or even at all (which doctors and medical counselors are trained to do).

Why? Because people like Murray and Rowling don't actually care about trans people. They'd prefer all trans people be barred care if there's a chance that even a single cis person might mistakenly transition. Or in Murray's case (a gay man no less), prefer if trans people didn't exist at all.

Anyway, the "Trans Debate" has been won long ago. A few people may find themselves kicking and screaming as they're dragged into the 21st century, but they will fade.

Ubik said: "So, this "non-binary" thing feels, to me, like a step in the opposite direction, to before the feminist movements of the 60's and 70's. "

Yes, and it's an interesting argument put forth by many TERFS (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). The belief that transgender people shouldn't adopt traditional gender tropes (masculine/feminine tropes, social codes etc), because such things either propagate gender stereotypes, or undermines the concept of a "trans identity" itself.

But such things are a kind of intellectual dead end. You can't police how transgender folk think, what they yearn for, and how they interact or are shaped by society. They're free to do what they want. And given how hard it is right now to do what they want, these kinds of questions often get read by them as attacks

It's an interesting topic though. Whenever I ask trans people about this stuff, they say's its a kind of rude topic, but that they can nevertheless see these kind of questions being wrestled with in the future, when trans stuff is a bit more normalized.
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Trent
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sons and Daughters

A decent episode, thanks largely to the always wonderful Martok, and some good scenes involving Klingon Bird of Preys escorting convoys and fighting off Jem'Hadar fighters.

The episode's main drama, however, was rather hokily written. We have Dukat attempting to bond with Ziyal on one hand, and Worf's attempts to bond with Alexander on the other, both arcs interesting from a structural perspective (how they echo and contrast one another), but both written as they were cheesy 20th century domestic dramas; there's little alien, far-future or interesting about this stuff.

Worf's been character assassinated repeatedly (didn't he commit terrorist attacks on Risa last season?), so his treatment of Alexander in TNG is just another in a long list of things you have to pretend didn't happen. DS9 at least acknowledges Worf was a jerk of a father, and in this episode mounts a reasonable attempt to rehabilitate this aspect of him.
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Trent
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Dave in MM said: "Fining or jailing someone because you don't like what they're saying is anathema to me. It's barbaric, imho. " and "Never say anthing that might upset them, especially the wrong pronoun" isn't much of a defense for compulsory language policing. "

You seem to believe in several common myths regarding what hate speech is, how hate speech laws function, and you seem to have bought into unfounded conspiracies about "language policing".

Read slowly. In the major western democracies:

1. Everyone has free speech.

2. Hate speech laws exist.

3. Hate speech laws inherently limit free speech (If an employer repeatedly uses the N word when addressing an employee, and a court finds him guilty of hate speech, this limitation of free speech is deemed by civilized society a "good thing")

4. Courts decide on an individual, case by case basis whether "free speech" tilts over into "hate speech". The threshold for what constitutes hate speech is incredibly high, and because the burden of proof is very high, "hate speech" is rarely proven in court. Courts and judges are also incredibly protective of free speech rights, and such cases rarely make it to court anyway, as purported victims have to pay high fees to take their cases to court.

5. The sheer cost of a claimant filing charges against a harasser means these things never go far. A harassed transgender person thus either gets support by a legal group which does activist work, which is impossible to get if you have anything but an airtight case, or forks out tens of thousands of dollars to do things privately (unlikely, as contemporary transgender people tend to have little resources). ie - financial pressures act as a screening or vetting process.

6. You have been operating under hate speech laws for decades. These laws previously applied to white workers, women, homosexuals, minorities etc. You were absolutely fine with all of this. You were fine with being "barred" from repeatedly saying the N word, or "kike" or "fag", or using countless other racist/sexist/etc slurs in the workplace "at a level which the law considers hate speech". Now that these laws have expanded to include transgender people, it is hypocritical to freak out.

7. Most "hate speech laws" in "democratic nations" apply only to government employees. And most of these laws (in France, Canada, UK etc), do not define gender identity, expression or sex, and are purposefully vague so as to leave local courts with legroom to defend free speech.

8. Here's B. Cossman, a legal expert: "I don’t think there’s any legal expert that would say that misgendering would meet the threshold for hate speech [...] Our courts have a very high threshold for what kind of comments actually constitutes hate speech, and the nature of speech would have to be much more extreme than simply pronoun misuse. If one advocated genocide against trans people, one would be in violation, but misusing pronouns is not what [these laws] are about. The threshold for a conviction under these laws is extraordinarily high."

9. The most famous "they want to police our pronouns!" law in the west is C16, which is widely mischaracterized, and which explicitly says that it only applies to, quote, "the intent to promote hatred or knowledge of the substantial certainty of such, and is also strongly supported by the conclusion that the meaning of the word 'hatred' is restricted to the most severe opprobrium”. The words must also constitute hate proven in court to have been pushed to a point the law deems "severe, persistent and beyond workplace pervasiveness".

10. In other words, no one will be fined, jailed or policed for saying "nigg**", "sweetheart", "kike", "they", "he/she" etc. But federal employees may be fined for using the N word in cases where it can be proven that the word was used to discriminate, with "persistence" and/or with "the intent to promote hatred and violence" and with the understanding that "the word 'hatred' is restricted to the most severe opprobrium". Same applies to Jewish slurs, anti-gay slurs, anti-white slurs, anti-Christian slurs, anti-male slurs, anti-female slurs, sexist slurs, heterosexual misgendering for the purpose of harassment, and transgender slurs and/or misgendering. Nobody is compelling you, or policing you, or stopping you from calling your effeminate gay black Jewish transgender buddy a Congo tranny homo kike sweetheart. Nobody is taking these words from you. But if a court can prove with certainty that you're behaving a certain way to discriminate against someone in order to cause extreme harm, then you may be fined (though in the most famous hate speech case, R. v. Keegstra, in which a guy was teaching literal kill-the-Jews stuff to kids, the perpetrator was not sentenced or fined but rather given community service).

11. To quote Alexander Offord, who goes into detail on such laws: "these misunderstandings of the law rests on his misunderstanding of the legal phrase "breach of peace". [...] “Breach of the peace” has a specific legal meaning which has been determined by decades of juridical precedent. We find the salient definition in Frey v. Fedoruk et al., a 1950 Supreme Court case in which the presiding judge, Justice Kerwin, defined a “breach of the peace” with reference to the 10th edition of Clerk and Lindsell on Torts: 'a breech of peace takes place when actual physical assault is committed on an individual, or wider public alarm and excitement is caused. Mere annoyance or insult to an individual stopping short of actual physical violence is not a breech of peace.' This is, of course, an extraordinarily high burden for any accuser to bear. Moreover, it puts [those fearful of pronoun policing] in a rather uncomfortable conceptual pretzel: in order to prove that hate speech laws lead to the kinds of censorship oft described, one has to prove that the refusal to use particular personal pronouns carries a probable risk of physical violence against trans people and the gender-nonconformist; then, in order to defend the position one began with, one needs to demonstrate that this violence is preferable to the curtailing of free pronoun-use."

So the fear of "language policing over trans pronouns" is a modern hysteria (weaponized for obvious aims, and spread by propaganda). You will find hundreds of news articles about people walking on eggshells due to trans pronouns, but when it comes to actual court cases, the truth is different. Free speech laws are robust and robustly defended.
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Trent
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 6:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

Rahul said: "In true TNG style the Discovery is able to enhance their empath-ness and get the job done. "

lol, that scene had me cracking up. They literally resurrected TNG's cheesiest trope...

CAPTAIN: How do we stop the space locusts?

ENGINEER: If we reconfigure the deflector array to transmit along empathic frequencies we may be able to magnify Books' neurowaves.

CAPTAIN: How long to reconfigure the array?

ENGINEER: Five or ten minutes, depending on how much MAGIC I CAN PULL OUTTA MY ASS.

___________________


Jexemer11 said: “This lovey dovey crap between Burnham and Book needs to go away. I like both characters, but I'm really getting tired of them together.”

I find Burnham way more tolerable and relaxed when Book's around.


John Harmon said: “Does it seem ridiculous to anyone else that it took the Discovery showing up for the Federation to finally be interested in figuring out “the burn”

And why doesn't Starfleet put contemporary personnel on the Discovery? This is your most prized possession, your most important ship, crewed entirely by people with no knowledge of your time period.

Starfleet should immediately put a high-ranking officer on the bridge, and slot experts into other key departments. You don't need to remove Saru as captain, or separate the Discovery's crew, but you must have people you can trust on what has become the Federation's most prized asset.

Austin said: “In short, in season 3, a whopping 70% of crew members that have had their gender/sexuality addressed are not straight. This is not “representation””

It's not "representation". It's an artistic "reaction".

You just had a US President who bashed minorities, women and tried to roll back LGBT rights. The most powerful man in the world systematically picked activist judges with a specific anti-gay agenda, tried to re-instate the ban on transgender people in the military, rescinded federal guidelines supporting civil rights for transgender people, argued in court against civil rights protections for gay and bi people, issued "religious liberty" guidelines to federal agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, fired the entire presidential advisory council on HIV/AIDS, enacted new regulations in DHHS creating a new "religious liberty" agency for protecting medical workers using "religious liberty" as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ people... etc etc etc.

You have to put "Discovery" into the context in which it was made. "Discovery" is best thought of as Minority Pride Trek ("Pride suits you" Culber literally tells Stamets in this episode), at a time when certain people feel specifically targeted. Like the wave of blaxploitation films in the 1970s, it's an unconscious response to a point in history. A kind of return of the repressed: "we're here, we're queer and we're now flying spaceships! Deal with it!"

And of course the show's chief showrunner is now a lesbian, and a number of this season's writers and directors, selected by her, are gay men and women, making this the gayest Trek ever. You can't stop artists making art that reflects them and their concerns.

And in truth, this new team have written the crew's gay characters much better than Kurtzman's team did. This season is the best Stamets has been written. And Culber is mercifully not stuck in a mirror universe and covered in space moss to dodge mushroom ghosts prior to being reincarnated as man-bark.

Ubik said: "Culber and Stamets spend an entire minute referring to her as "they" over and over and over again while she pretend to sleep for no reason other than..."

I think this scene was less about Adira, and more about Stamets and Culber. They've got paternal/maternal desires, and so find themselves tucking a kid to bed while lovingly looking down at Adira like a couple of parents at their child's bedroom doorway. Stamets even praises Adira like a proud father ("Their work has been nothing short of stellar!").

So the scene is less about lecturing the audience on "gender pronouns", and more about trying to evoke (and subvert) a common domestic scene traditionally given to heterosexual couples.

Jason R said: "A really daring scifi show would actually integrate gender issues into the universe building, along the lines of Octavia Butler's Left Hand of Darkness."

"Left Hand of Darkness" (where androgynous aliens develop sexes randomly only prior to mating) is by Ursula Le Guin. But your typo does mention another great writer of weird sexiness. Octavia Butler (possibly trans or gay in real life; she seemed genuinely confused, and had nobody to turn to for help) wrote about so much weird psychosexual alien stuff, her best probably being "Lillith's Brood", which has aliens which colonize you by redesigning your chromosomes, race, body and gender; a kind of genetic colonization.

But that kind of stuff is way beyond "Discovery". Adira's "pronoun reveals" are about as good as a show like this can do. It's low key, Stamets readily accepts her without batting an eyelid, and its framed in a way (the symbiont) that allows even transphobes to rationalize what they're seeing.

Some of the criticisms by commenters above are interesting, but surely it's a leap to suggest that, just because Adira didn't feel a need to "come out of the closet" earlier, that this means that the future is still prejudiced against transgender people? How old is Adira supposed to be? I can buy a 15 year old or less being hesitant to share this information, even in a super advanced future. Is Adira a teenager still?
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Trent
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: The Sanctuary

This is the eighth episode of the season. I'd say the Kurtzman co-written premiere was weak, but that the season then launched into four very good episodes - "Far From Home", "People of Earth", "Forget me Not" and "Die Trying" - which put some decent effort into fleshing out the Discovery crew, and reversing many of the bad aesthetic choices seen in the first two seasons.

The show's also done decent work sketching a post-ecological-collapse view of the galaxy. Here some kind of event has triggered the sudden eradication of the galaxy's main "fuel source", leading to the disintegration of subspace, the isolation of planets, various climate catastrophes, the shifting of ecosystems, the collapse of superpowers, and the rise of refugees and warlords. This all seems like a grand metaphor for our contemporary climate crisis, and where it's likely to lead. Whether the Burn was caused by Federation callousness (the abuse of warp drive?), or the act of a benevolent super-being (Q? The Organians?), we still don't know.

So on the level of political and philosophical allegory, this season is leaps and bounds better than season 1 and 2. Its Mystery Box has a sense of purpose and a desire to say and be something, even if this drive is still being sabotaged by the show's need to also be ALEX KURTZMAN ACTION SCHLOCK.

This episode - which comes after the overly emotional"Unification 3", and the decent-but-generic "Scavengers" - is a return to some kind of form. The action scenes are still unnecessary, the characters still too cutesy, the emotions still overplayed, subtlety still non-existent, BUT there's some kind of Trek soul here. Mostly that's thanks to characters like Saru, Adira and Culber, who Michael mercifully takes a backseat to in this episode.

And so "Sanctuary" has four arcs. In the best arc, Stamets and Adira quietly bond, with Adira functioning as Stamets' surrogate kid (Culber points out that Stamets and he are too busy to have kids of their own in the conventional sense). Adira is likeable, and has always brought out the best in Stamets, so these scenes have a beautifully relaxed quality.

Also good is the revelation that Adira prefers the pronouns them/they, a facet which the symbiotic nature of Trills primes the audience to accept. Still, a better writer would have gone for a more original set of pronouns and invented a whole new form of gendered language; they/them etc feels far too contemporary.

The episode's briefest arc sees Mirror Phillipa treated by Dr Culber for her recent psychoses. It's an okay, inoffensive arc, at its best when highlighting Culber's skills and competency as a professional Federation officer (take notes Michael!).

A more interesting writer, however, would have treated this material differently. According to "Discovery", Mirror Universe inhabitants are biologically predisposed toward being evil, so why not milk such material properly? Phillipa's an alien from another universe. A universe which exists to corrupt life, and to ensure that this life is statistically predisposed to think, do and believe at all times the most evil, vile, violent, horrible crap possible. Phillipa should be treated with absolute fear and horror. She's the antithesis of everything Roddenberry. She should be followed by guards at all times. Culber should be terrified. She should be slitting throats left, right and center.

Then we have a little Detmer arc. She basically "gains confidence as a pilot" while flying the Millennium Falcon across a Star Destroyer's hull, shooting stuff and dodging lasers like Han Solo with a ponytail. It looks glossy, and does well to give heroics to someone other than Michael the Messiah, but it also contains an unbelievably long and self-reflexive speech in the middle of a battle, and is mostly generic space action. The limited budgets of TOS and TNG forced writer/directors to cook up much more interesting, and idiosyncratic, battles.

Then we have the main arc, which sees Book and Michael beam down to a Green Peace planet filled with Space Hippies who "love nature" and dress like Darth Maul and carry guns and who forged an alliance with a Evil Villain Green Lady in order to stop Space Locusts from destroying their Animal Sanctuary. The arc also involves a family reunion, in which Book is betrayed and then saved by his Space Latino brother after fisticuffs in the forest and...JESUS CHRIST MAN.

It's amazing how totally nuts all of this stuff is - the angry brother subplot should be dropped, the action scenes purged, the Evil Villain made into less of a caricature, and Saru's stand-off treated more like an intellectual battle of wits - and yet it plays reasonably well. It flows well. Michael spares us another meltdown. The crew get stuff to do. It's nice to see Saru do captainy stuff. The idea of a Sanctuary planet is nice.

Objectively, it's hard not to argue that this is cheesy stuff delivered in a very obvious and conventional way, but there's a certain vibe to this season that makes it work for me. I like the ecological themes, and I like the vibe Saru imparts over his little Attention Deficit Disorder crew (nobody has time for space travel on Discovery, it's all insta-spore jumps and personal transporters!), the guy like some kind of Totally Fed Up With Yall alien Space Grandfather presiding over a tribe of OTT crack addicts.
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Trent
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Unification III

Slacker said: "I wonder if that very saccharine personal/emotional approach is something they have found via focus group (as alluded to upthread) resonates with today's audiences? Or is it just the predilection of this writing staff?"

I think "Discovery's" writers just aren't familiar with nautical fiction, and none have actually served in the military.

TOS had a lot of ex military men on the writing team, TNG strove hard to feel like a professional ship-of-the-line, and Ira Behr's a big war/history buff.

This lent those past shows a bedrock of realism and professionalism. I mean, Kirk finds Abe Lincoln floating through space, and barely batted an eyelid. If Michael saw that, she'd have a mental breakdown.


Skye-Francis said: "I'm finding this season really hard to get through now and all my initial enthusiasm for DSC has now gone."

All the bad writers are gone now. Kurtzman (pilot) and Kirsten Beyer (this episode) were the worst writers in this season's line up. It's now decent writers from here to the end. And two more episodes will be directed by Frakes.
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Trent
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Unification III

This episode was written by Kirsten Beyer, who wrote the worst episode of "Picard", was responsible for shoehorning into that show several of its worst ideas (7of9 et al), and writes amateurish Trek novels which read like bad fan-fiction.

No surprise, then, that this episode resurrects everything wrong with season 1 and 2 of Discovery. And so we get:

1. A wildly emotional Michael Burnham, who's constantly crying, whining, pleading and over-emoting.

2. Awful dialogue in which characters talk past one another, speak in stilted or unnatural ways, over-explain things for the audience, or clunkily use speech to make explicit the inner psychology of themselves or others.

3. A complete absence of subtlety or nuance, everything laid on thick, and then over-scored with heavy-handed music. There's no showing instead of telling here.

4. Constant reminders that Michael is related to Spock, is related to the Red Angel, has repeatedly saved the universe and is generally the Center of the Universe.

Stop reminding us of bad writing! Season 3 has mostly allowed us to pretend that we've witnessed a clean break from the past, but such illusions come crashing down with this episode. Scenes in which Vulcans orgasm at the name Michael Burnham, or where Michael weeps over holovids of Spock, or in which Michael reminds everyone that she's saved all biological life, are particularly cringey.

5. Shock character walk-ons, typified here by the sudden appearance of Michael's mother. To make matters worse, she's a Space Ninja who belongs to the Absolute Candor (a ridiculous phrase) movement, and so spends all of this episode walking around in a silly ninja outfit and carrying a sword. Even worse, Michael's mother - a woman who surely owes her troubled daughter some semblance of a childhood, not to mention a mother - cynically disappears once the episode is over.

6. Call backs as a substitute for good writing. This episode mentions Picard, brings back Leonard Nimoy, flashes back to young bearded Spock, reminds us of the Qowat Milat, brings back Michael's Mom, references Unification, wishes to be the new Amok Time, references JJ Trek etc etc. This kind of thing - self-satisfied and overly proud of its fanboy knowledge - is typical of bad writing, and the kinds of novels Beyer writes.

7. Incessant info-dumping, in which exposition is not just used to further plot, but to "psychoanalyse" and "explain" Michael's behavior. None of this psychoanalysis is believable, natural, and even if it were, serves only to retroactively justify bad writing in season's 1 or 2.

It doesn't matter what "motivates" Michael to punch Mirror Universe villains, or start a war with the Klingons, or fly an Iron Man suit. These things are stupid. You can't add depth to stupid. You can't "textualize" and add "psychological nuance" to stupid tropes. Stop bringing that stuff up. Sweep it under the carpet and forget about it, which is what show-runner Michelle Paradise had been doing up to this point.

8. Wildly sentimental and saccharine scenes, such as those in which the crew once again huddle, hug and cheer Tilly, or where Saru tells Tilly how special she is, or where Stamets tells Tilly how special she is, or where Detmers and Bryce tell Tilly how special she is. And then they all cry. And then Michael arrives and they cry some more. And then cry some more.

It's too much. Every episode seems to have such hysterics.

9. Silly Villain-of-the-Week caricatures, in this case a trio of Romulans and Vulcans who spar with Michael, act all mean and combative, until they're magically swayed by Michael's emotional honesty. Scenes in which their faces soften with warmth and pride, as Michael bares her soul, are particularly cringey.

10. Nonsensical world-building, like having Stamets still be needed for the Spore Jumps, when 800 years prior it was said a supercomputer could calculate the jumps, it's just slower (the technology doesn't exist now, in the year 3188, for a computer to take over?).

Or like by having Tilly made Number One, when clearly this was decided because none of the actors with major speaking rules could be ripped from their positions (Stamets needs to be in engineering, Culber in sickbay, Detmers at the helm etc). The show literally had no other major character to turn to other than Evil Phillipa. And so like everything else in this episode, the text retroactively exists to justify decisions that have already been made. Connect-the-dot art.

11. Bad buzz words, most notably "The Burn", which is fine when spoken by the Federation or slang-talking mercenaries in the middle of nowhere. But Romulan and Vulcan officials and scientists saying "The Burn" is just unintentionally hilarious. They'd have other, more local phrases.

12. Constant fawning over the Federation. Did TNG, the most idealistic Trek series, gush over the Federation as much as "Discovery" does? The Federation of Michael's era, and even Kirk's era, was not a beacon of light sufficient enough to warrant Michael's constant passionate speechifying. All Michael knows is war, death, abandonment, Mirror Universes, Control and Federation missions to plant WMDs under planets. Why's she always crying like a religious fundamentalist over the Federation's sweet sweet ideals?

I would say this is a really bad and contrived episode. First, Michael is the "only one" brave enough to find the Burn data. Then Michael is the "only one" who can go and convince the Vulcans. Then Michael is the "only one" who can pull a deus-ex-machina ritual out of her butt. Then when all hope is lost, Michael's the "only one" who's mom just happens to turn up. And Michael's mom is the "only one" who can remind the Vulcans that her daughter was the one who saved the universe. And then Michael's the "only one" who can seduce the Burn data away from the Vulcans - an emotionally repressed race - by being the "only one" who can melt their hearts with her crying and sobbing.

Imagine this episode as a episode of TNG:

PICARD: We need your Burn data, and wish to compare it to ours.
VULCAN: We don't trust the Federation. Go away.
PICARD: I propose we set up an independent committee, composed entirely of Vulcan personnel, and 1 Federation scientist, who will examine both sets of data under your watchful supervision. Our scientist will remain with you, under house arrest, for as long as you deem fit. For their whole lives, if necessary. Whether they share subsequent findings with us is entirely up to you. We wish only the opportunity to convince you.
VULCAN: That is logical. Proceed.
PICARD: I also prepared a little emotional breakdown and-
VULCAN: PROCEED!
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Trent
Wed, Nov 25, 2020, 10:32am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Rocks and Shoals

"Rocks and Shoals" is a little masterpiece, with that unmistakable Ron Moore touch.

Essentially a Sum Fuller movie squeezed into 45 minutes - Sam Fuller made low budget WW2 movies, in which little squads of opposing troops found themselves lost in little morality plays - this episode finds Sisko and the gang stranded on an alien planet. Also with them are a gang of Jem'Hadar under the command of a wounded Vorta.

As others have mentioned, the Vorta here is superbly acted by Christopher Shea. IMO it's a performance even better than Jeffrey Combs' Weyoun. Shea's Vorta has an otherworldly quality. He feels like those images of Hindu Gods, humanoid but inhuman, and with a serene, but detached and haughty quality. The guy moves like he's on an entirely different astral plane, and feels far more alien, and even divine, than Weyoun.

Much of the episode plays like a superior version of "Nor the Battle To The Strong", "To The Death" and "The Ship". The Vorta wants Sisko's medic, and Sisko wants the Vorta's communication's relay. Standing in their way is the Jem'Hadar, who the Vorta sacrifices to Sisko in exchange for a pampered prison sentence. It's an interesting triangle, with Sisko torn between the survival of his crew, and the survival of the Jem'Hadar, a species he continues to have sympathy for.

Good location photography, some good fleshing out of Garak and Nog (Nog refuses to ever stand in front of Garak), some great Miles moments, and some great secondary characters (compare Moore's redshirts with Fuller's caricatures in "Empok Nor") help complement Moore's writing, which has a muscular, confident quality.

Equally good is a subplot back on DS9. Here Kira's become complacent with Dominion rule, comfortably pampered and corralled and attuned to a life of submission. It's a slow and gutsy piece of writing, the episode simply watching as a tired Kira goes about her dull daily routines, sipping raktajino and manning her console. When a Bajoran Vedek commits suicide to protest the occupation (the Vedek is played with rare gravity and class by seasoned actress Lilyan Chauvin), Kira snaps out of her fugue. She realizes she's essentially become a collaborator, and resolves to form a resistance movement.

This, of course, echoes Sisko's plight, in which Sisko and the Vorta, Federation and Enemy, collaborate with one another to ensure their comfort and survival. The victims of Kira's collaborations are Bajor and the Entire Alpha Quadrant. The victims of Sisko's are the Jem'Hadar, who in this episode are also asked to swear fidelity to one of two causes.
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Trent
Wed, Nov 25, 2020, 10:04am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: A Time to Stand

An excellent start to a strong run of episodes, "A Time to Stand" marks Trek's first attempts at a new kind of serialization. And so here we get a long string of episodes, each intimately connected, and each dealing with the Federation/Dominion war, and the Cardassian/Dominion occupation of DS9.

As Jammer says in his review, an air of exhaustion and pessimism suffuses these episodes. The Federation have lost DS9, have lost countless fleet battles, and lost countless ships. To turn the tides of war back in their favor, "A Time to Stand " thus sees Sisko launching a sneak-attack on a Ketracel white facility. Much of the episode observes this operation, including a skirmish with a Federation cruiser. It's all quite tense, DS9 confidently turning its back on TNG/TOS styled SF and Weird Fiction, in favor for outright Military Scifi.

Something I never fully appreciated with these episode is Kira's little arc. She begins this arc as a hotheaded resistance fighter, gets beaten down, becomes dejected and depressed, goes through the motions as a Cardassian aide, sleepwalking through life as a Little Eichmann, realizes she's become dangerously complacent and comfortable with Dominion rule, forms a little resistance cell, loses Odo to the Dominion, and then becomes a kind of vengeful, lone warrior.

This little arc revitalizes the Kira character, who along with Bashir had become stagnant throughout the past season.

We also get lots of great Kira sass throughout this episode, particularly in the ways she repeatedly teases Dukat, poking him like a smaller fish pokes a shark ("What's wrong, Dukat? Afraid we'll take the station away from you again?").

Also interesting is the way the episode shows Weyoun INSTANTLY and AUTOMATICALLY kowtowing to Odo. The way Weyoun immediately gives in to Odo's wishes and requests are shocking, and highlights starkly how revered and worshiped the Changelings are by the Vorta. It's a fascinating and original relationship - the Vorta deemed Gods by those they lord over, the Founders deemed Gods by the Vorta.

We also get three brief but interesting subplots. We have the Dominion bending over backwards to seem like "benevolent rulers", hoping to entice future Alpha Quadrant planets into their "federation", and we have Dukat once again touting himself as savior of Cardassia: "Cardassia was on the edge of an abyss, Major," he says. "The war with the Klingons left us into a third-rate power. My people had lost their way. I've made them strong again!"

Finally we have Jake Sisko as a WW2 era novelist-cum-journalist, acting out an archetype familiar at the turn of the century: a Hemingway, Steinbeck or Norman Mailer-esque artist, living behind enemy lines in the name of truth and his art.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Call to Arms

Ira Behr loves to contrast mundane domestic scenes with giant galactic wars. And so this episode - which kicks off the Dominion War - opens with Rom and Leeta picking out a wedding dress.

Such trivialities pile on: Sisko and Jake share dinner, Kira and Dax chat about Yamok sauce, Miles talks about shipping Keiko and the kids off the station, Nog brings Sisko some coffee, and so on and so on. It's a more concise and brisk version of "Way of the Warrior's" first act- the calm before the storm.

The aforementioned storm begins with news that the Romulans have entered a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. Such sinister whispering, which encapsulate how methodically sinister the Dominion are, effortlessly pitting Empire against Empire (Why isn't the Federation this smart?), lead to scenes in which Miles, Dax and Nog brainstorm ways to block the wormhole. Unfortunately these scenes are silly: the wormhole should have been secured years ago. At the very latest, it should have been secured immediately after learning that the Dominon tried to explode Bajor's sun.

And methods of blocking the wormhole should have been cooked up years ago by Federation experts, tacticians and scientists, and not left to the last minute. That Rom figures out a solution - self-replicating mines - when nobody else can, is similarly unbelievable.

The mines themselves are a bit hard to believe. It's not physically possible for a mine to have enough feed stock to keep replicating itself. And any hegemony like the Dominion possesses enough explosives to simultaneously detonate all mines at the same time.

But the show's going for a WW2-in-space vibe, and the mine fields look cool, so we can let that slide.

From this point onwards, the episode serves up one iconic scene after the next. Starfleet positions its fleets to hit the Dominion elsewhere (they use DS9 as bait). Odo fakes com-traffic in order to create the illusion that DS9 hasn't evacuated civilians. The Defiant begins laying a vast mine field at the wormhole mouth. The Dominion send Weyoun to DS9 to negotiate the removal of the mine field, and Sisko gathers his crew and dramatically notifies them to prepare for war.

The only thing lacking here is Sisko explicitly calling out Weyoun for trying to decimate a Federation fleet with an exploding sun several months prior. Surely that event, from the Federation's perspective, and which Dukat confirmed, was the first formal act of war. Weyoun's acting like the Federation are unfairly policing an international shipping lane, not justifiably blockading a "nation" with a recent history of blowing up an entire planet! The Sisko/Weyoun conversations are going for a level of cordial suspicion which the show should be well beyond.

More great scenes follow: Sisko assembles the Bajoran Council of Ministers and pushes them to sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, Sisko politely "turns down" Kira's request that Starfleet turn DS9 over to the Bajoran Militia, Nog indulges Ira Behr's fondness for "Casablanca" homages (he echoes Bogart in his farewells to Leeta), and Garak regrets not shooting Dukat in the back a decade prior, an act "everyone on the station will also soon regret".

Then Damar, Dukat and Weyoun roll up in a hilariously huge Dominion Fleet, looking like wannabe gangsters with fancy space-monocles. Sisko dares them to kick his ass, which they dutifully oblige.

This episode juggles a big cast much better than "Way of the Warrior" did. It's a leaner, more streamlined episode. It's action climax is also better, with the Defiant frantically laying mines, Martok's Bird of Prey bravely running interference, and DS9 spitting quantum torpedoes like a station on cocaine. Some of the FX shots are a bit hokey, but the battle holds up better than similar fare from the era, and several of the compositions are pretty great.

Sisko then gives the order to evacuate DS9. He hops aboard the Defiant, which blasts through the Dominion fleet with Martok's Bird of Prey dramatically in formation.

The iconic scenes then keep coming: the Dominion board DS9, walking in lockstep like Nazi henchmen. Before they arrive at Ops, Kira and Odo self-destruct all useful computers and databanks. Then Dukat famously finds Sisko's baseball - "He's sending me a message" - and we close with Sisko looking pensive on the Defiant, which famously joins formation with a massive Federation fleet.

End result: DS9's best season climax since Season 1's "In the Hands of the Prophets", and arguably one Trek's top five season finales.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 7:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Fifth Season Recap

Out of ten, I'd rank each episode of this season thusly:

Apocalypse Rising - 7.9/10
The Ship - 5/10
Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places - 5/10
Nor the Battle to the Strong - 7/10
The Assignment - 7/10
Trials and Tribble-ations - 9/10
Let He Who Is Without Sin - 2/10
Things Past - 5/10
The Ascent - 4/10
Rapture - 7.9/10
The Darkness and the Light - 8/10
The Begotten - 5/10
For the Uniform - 7/10
In Purgatory's Shadow - 9/10
By Inferno's Light - 9/10
Doctor Bashir, I Presume - 5/10
A Simple Investigation - 3/10
Business as Usual - 4/10
Ties of Blood and Water - 7.9/10
Ferengi Love Songs - 2/10
Soldiers of the Empire - 7.9/10
Children of Time - 8.5/10
Blaze of Glory - 8/10
Empok Nor - 5/10
In the Cards - 7.9/10
Call to Arms - 9/10

I thought this was a muc weak season, rescued by a trio of great Dominion War episodes, and a couple Ron Moore episodes. The Odo episodes were weak, Bashir had no great stories, and the standalones generally felt dull and aimless; with the Dominion having tried to blow up Bajor's sun mid-way in the season, it makes no sense that the Federation waits several months to mine the wormhole.

I seem to differ from the consensus on "The Ship" and "Nor the Battle", which I didn't like. Later seasons would handle such soldiering stories better (eg "Rock and Shoals"). "Looking for Par'mach" seems well respected, but did nothing for me.

Unless I'm mistaken, this season closes off DS9's Maqui arc. I thought "Blaze of Glory" was fine, and did well to rehabilitate Sisko after seeing him WMDing a planet in "For the Uniform". "For the Uniform" is itself hard to rate; it's dramatically exciting and cool, but that Sisko climax is baffling.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" - a neat loveletter to TOS - arguably saves this season from being more heavily criticized.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 6:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Scavengers

Dave said: "At Trek Vegas panel, the showrunners (while talking about this season) tepeatedly said "Michael is our captain" ... and then there was months of reshoots and now that's not the case."

That's a huge change to make, and I'm glad they changed it. Saru is outstanding as a captain - he simultaneously feels like a captain, and is radically different from previous Trek captains - and really elevates things.

That said, this is "Discovery" we're talking about. That Vegas panel might have been right; maybe this season eventually kills off Saru and gives Michael the ship.

Rahul said: "As far as prison break subplots go, this one was definitely above average for Trek."

Which begs the question, WHAT'S THE BEST TREK PRISON BREAK?

I'd probably rank the Worf/Martok/Garak escape from the Dominion concentration camp as the best. Then Kira breaking out the Bajorans in "The Homecoming". TNG's "Allegiance" I'd put next, and maybe "Voyager's" "Workforce" two-parter, if it counts.

Kirk was always getting placed in a cell in TOS, and breaking out, so it's a bit unfair to add him to the game ("Errand of Mercy" and "Bread and Circuses" have some good prison moments).
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Trent
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Die Trying

Slacker said: "Not cool, dude. I never said or implied Nazi/alt-right crap of this sort..."

Yeah, I'm not talking about you. But on here, the startrek forums and the startrek subreddits, "Discovery" is routinely bashed for being "bigoted to white people". These folk are "fearful of the times we're in", worry about "societal collapse caused by black people, gays, commies, effeminate men and radicals", and are paranoid about "reverse racism" of which "Discovery is a portentous harbinger of things to come". It's like bashing a blaxploitation film from the 1970s as being "anti white" whilst being totally oblivious to the context in which it is made.

Slacker said: "I only called for equitable representation."

But a work of art is under no obligation to represent everyone, and we have enough science showing us that forms of unequal representation leads to equal representation. And some of the best works of art, and artists, are deliberately inflammatory. Imagine asking a film like "Soldier Blue" or "Shaft" to have "more white people" or "less racist portrayals of white people". That's silly. Absence is a powerful artistic and political tool. And a lack of representation, or certain forms of representation, is often the point. How you judge these things is by gauging the context in which they're made, and the motivations of those who made it.

For the record, I think you can make the case that season 1 of "Discovery" is kinda racist, in the sense that it simultaneously epitomizes a corporation's very mechanical understanding of representation, and couples this with a really dumb attempt to say something political and contemporary. I don't think this was Brian Fuller's intention though; he just wanted the most diverse possible Trek cast ever, and made the white guy the villain as a twist on convention. Couple this with dumb writers and you get IMO a pretty terrible season.

Season 3 seems to be a bit smarter, and a bit fairer, and very tactical in its employment of race, but we have to reserve judgement. It could degenerate into Leni Riefenstahl territory.

Cody said: "It’s beyond disrespectful to victims of nazis and white supremacists that they use those terms so flippantly. "

Amen bro. People accusing a show with no white people of being racist to white people, are being disrespectful to victims of racism. A TV show with lots of blacks and gays is the slippery slope that leads to anarchy and Auschwitz? How silly is that! And where have we heard that argument before?

Cody said: "...when that shines truth into nutjob ideologies"

Ah, that notorious "make everyone black, Asian or lesbian on a ship, but have the black character be totally unlikeable and the Asian woman be a super villain, and introduce two strong white male heroes in the second season, and make the captain a white actor in an alien suit in the third season, but add a black guy with a cat!" ideology.

What's funny about the aforementioned paranoias - which I'm not saying anyone here holds - is that their tacit admittance that society is not meritocratic, and that forms of racism are zero sum, are never taken to their logical conclusions (you'll rarely find someone wanting "more white people on TV " arguing for equality in any larger material sense). And then their coupled with an unconscious desire to end corporate free speech, police artists and the arts, and introduce white quotas, and even the belief that guys like Alex Kurtzman, one of the largest media corporations in the world, and a disparate team of writers, many of them fired mid-production, constitute a coherent ideology. This results in a kind of weird marriage of corporate bootlicking and liberal legislating (suddenly acceptable, because it's for white dudes).
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Trent
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Scavengers

Slacker said: "Which are detached--how's that work? I mean, I guess they just sort of tractor-beam the ship all the time? Hard for me to see how that's "more efficient" as claimed in the narration."

And according to the JJ movies, the Federation has long had access to TRANSPORTERS WHICH CAN BEAM YOU ACROSS THE ENTIRE GALAXY!!!, which renders ships and warp pretty much unnecessary anyway.


Slacker said: "Best. Episode. Ever."

There's nothing original about the "prison break" subplot though. That's 1980s Chuck Norris Action Movie level writing. The producers booked a mine and factory for a few days, planted some explosives, slapped a few action movie cliches together, and dropped some CGI post-production.

This subplot needed a futuristic, science fictional take on a prison break. Some fresh problems and problem solving of the likes we've not before seen (I'm reminded of Michael escaping the brig in the season 1 pilot by appealing to the computer's sense of ethics). Instead we get Phillipa making a bomb out of spare parts, blowing a hole in a fence, and Michael beating up the prison warden and stealing his keys.

Because the direction's improved this season, the subplot plays about as good as this material can be played, but it still feels like "mainstream action movie" filler mandated so as not to alienated action fans.
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Trent
Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 9:28am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

A flawed classic, "Children of Time" sees our heroes stranded on a Trolley Problem Planet. If they remain on the planet, Major Kira dies. If they leave the planet, several hundred inhabitants die, but Kira lives and our heroes are reunited with their families.

There are a lot of neat little moments scattered about: Worf sires a tribe of mixed-race Klingons, Worf agrees to "murder this tribe so as to grant them an honorable death", descendants of Miles and Bashir are sprinkled about the planet, Odo professes his love for Kira, and various characters gather to plant the "last of the year's crops", a neat moment which encapsulates the wistful, tragic tone which suffuses the episode.

But while a clever premise, and always interesting, the episode's plagued with little problems. Most of the child actors are hokey, most of the scenes with the Klingons are stilted and poorly acted, and Dax is given a number of heavy-handed, repetitive and obvious lines designed to hold the audience's hands ("If we leave, they will die!"). Dax arc - she feels guilty for stranded the crew - is also never milked to its full potential.

When stacked up to similar classics in TOS and TNG, there's a tonal awkwardness to "Children of Time". The "cardboard planet of the week" tone clashes oddly with DS9's attempts at deeper, more realistic character work, leading to a kind of tonal mismatch.

This episode would also kick start the final phase of the Odo-Kira romance, which IMO was a bad idea. Because of this episode, Odo's romantic arc - a tragic tale of unrequited love - degenerates into the gooey, unbelievable couplings seen in the final two seasons. Better to have, in this episode, Present Odo never learning that Kira learns from Future Odo that he loves her. Keep both characters apart, both living in secret, Kira wishing to spare Odo the hurt of rejection, and so never letting on that she knows his true feelings.
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Trent
Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Scavengers

Chrispaps said: "The real Georgiou is being inducted into Section 31 under Crononberg."

Wow, that was Cronenberg? I knew I recognized that voice and that magnificent hair. Seems like "Disco" is ripping off "Mandalorian's" hiring of Werner Herzog, another idiosyncratic cult director.
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Trent
Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Scavengers

This episode opens with the "Discovery" being "upgraded" and "refitted" at the hidden Starfleet/Federation headquarters. She's given new warp nacelles, new bridge consoles, chunks of her hull and replaced with programmable materials and mimetic matter, and her crew are given fancy new holographic displays, combadges, and transporter technology.

Yes, the most Mary Sue ship in the history of Trek has just become an even bigger Mary Sue!

Thankfully these scenes are played with a light touch - like watching wild eyed kids rummaging through a treasure chest - a touch which gets lighter when a cat shows up in spaceship.

Though the weakest episode since the season premiere, "Scavengers" is thematically interesting, and works well as a deliberate inversion of the episode that preceded it. And so last episode we had the Discovery and the Federation learning to trust each other, a trust which earned the Discovery a mission. Here, meanwhile, we have Michael betraying Saru and the Federation, going off on her own, and so potentially jeopardizing a Discovery mission. Ironically, Michael's betrayal of the Federation echoes Saru's own behavior; a Federation admiral berates Saru for not trusting the Federation enough to rubber stamp and so assist Michael's plan.

In other words, where the previous episode was about an isolated, untrusting and paranoid Federation, this episode is about an isolated, paranoid and untrusting Discovery. Both sides need to learn to trust.

The episode contains roughly three strands. In the best strand, we watch Saru, Michael and Admiral Vance debating rules, ethics and various Starfleet stuff. It's all very good, with the frictions between Saru and Michael echoing similar frictional scenes between Chakotay and Janeway.

Also good are strands which "flesh out" the Discovery crew. And so here we get some neat interactions between Stamets and Adira, Saru and Tilly (they debate Michael's mutinous nature), Stamets and Culber, and scenes in which Adira or Tilly help Stamets around engineering.

The meat of the episode, however, involves Michael and Phillipa journeying alone to a Star Wars Planet, where they do Star Wars stuff in Star Wars ways. This portion of the episode bounces from one tired cliche to the next, serving up familiar trope after familiar trope, and though it is directed with competence and style (Book's spaceship guns down bad guys like an Apache helicopter), it's still very hackneyed stuff. Funny how nu-Trek is at its most boring when trying to be exciting.

What saves the episode is the scenes back aboard the Discovery, and the overarching philosophy of the episode. Michael breaks an oath to Starfleet because of love. Not just her love of Book, but her love of Starfleet and the Federation itself (Book's carrying vital data regarding the Burn). Conversely, Saru believes himself acting out of love and fidelity to the Federation, when these very well-meaning decisions may have led to the further disintegration of the Federation.

There are some other neat little details: a Federation Admiral seemed named after famous SF writer Jack Vance, and one ship is named after SF writer Ursula Le Guin, famous for her anarchist/utopian fictions. We also get some okay scenes with Phillipa, though IMO her character's relationship with Michael is too soft and affectionate. This lady is a genocidal warlord and psychopath, and yet Michael treats her like a cuddly animal.
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Trent
Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Die Trying

Another excellent episode, in a season that continues to be vastly better than preceding seasons.

And so this episode watches as the Discovery journeys to the last remaining Starfleet/Federation headquarters, which is in the middle of nowhere and hidden behind a kind of cloaking field. Starfleet's adopted a siege mentality, hunkering down and doing their best to police the handful of planets still formally aligned to the Federation.

We get some neat FX shots as the Discovery approaches a huddled collection of starports and spaceships - a bit too much blue and smeary, flaring whites - and then some great scenes where Saru and Michael chill out with an admiral dude. Here, the crew of the Discovery are like needy, overachieving kids desperate to prove their worth and loyalty to the Federation. The Federation, meanwhile, are deeply distrustful of these new arrivals, and justifiably so.

Much of the episode thus watches as the Federation pushes past its fears, its paranoia, reaches out and learns to trust Saru's crew, an act which echoes the overarching theme of the season - different planets need to reach out, trust one another and re-establish links - and directly mirrors the next episode, in which Michael breaks promises to the Federation and Saru, and so breeches their trust.

This episode works best when we're watching Starfleet officers do Starfleet things in nice, orderly, Starfleet ways: Admirals talk. Holo-medics investigate. Psychologists build psych-profiles. A scene between Phillipa and what seems to be an elderly intelligence operative, is particularly chilling, each trying to out mind-game the other.

Also nice is Saru and Michael's relationship, the duo shining when paired with one another, he a wonderfully watchable captain who sticks close to the Starfleet Rulebook, and she basically Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon, a hero who does any crazy ole thing if it fits in with her personal code. In season's 1 and 2 this trait was super annoying, but under the control of new showrunner Michelle Paradise, Michael's roguish behavior is the very point of the season, and is repeatedly challenged, and interrogated.

There are minor flaws here: Phillipa "blinks" a hologram to death, a character incredulously "abandons herself" on a seed ship, an "alien infection" plot is rushed, the show still dips too much into contemporary speech, is a tad too emotional still, and vestiges of Kurtzman's pen still annoyingly linger (references to the Data Sphere, Control, Red Angel etc), which you sense Michelle Paradise wants no part of, but which the nature of a serialized show forces her to address (and hopefully correct).

But these minor flaws are overwhelmed by the huge improvements made by Paradise and her crew. The show is shot better, the score crackles with the awe-and-magic of 1980s Trek movies, every character from Stamets to Culber, Detmer to Phillipa, is acted better and written better, and the episodes are simply more dramatically competent.

Regarding the comments above, in which people complain about the lack of "straight white males" in the show, and insinuate all kinds of weirdly paranoid stuff ("White genocide!", "affirmative action is the real racism!", "quota picks are the new discrimination!", "Inclusivity is the new bigotry!" etc)...this season is proving why such "corporate pandering" to activists and artists, has positive effects. This is an episode written by a 65 year old gay guy, directed by a woman and overseen by a lesbian showrunner. Its cast is largely black, Asian, female, alien and gay. The one white guy in it is - like in the previous episode - a provincial old dude holed up in a metaphorical cave and who exists to draw attention to very knee-jerk instincts of those who bemoan the lack of white dudes. And it's arguably the best Trek episode in decades.
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Trent
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: In the Cards

My gut tells me "In the Cards" plays a bit better on paper than on screen. DS9 has a rather dry "house style" - a preferred manner of presentation - which you sense doesn't fully capture the wit, pacing and tempo of Ron Moore's script.

My gut also tells me that this episode was inspired by Darin Morgan's "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", Morgan being the writer who pushed "The X-Files", the other big SF series of the 1990s, into doing the occasional high-concept comedy episode. "Jose Chung", an "X-Files" episode, was released a year before "Cards", and they share a similar voice-over heavy ending (the mad scientists and themes of fate seen in Moore's script also echo a number of Morgan's other scripts).

But while I wouldn't rank this episode as highly as Jammer and most DS9 fans - "In the Cards" has long been canonized a classic - I still like a number of things about it. The "mad scientist" who "bores people to death" while trying to do the precise opposite is interesting as a concept, and Weyon is great throughout the episode, particularly when he learns that the "mad scientist's" investigations into immortality echo his own nature as a repeatedly cloned being.

We also get more good Nog stuff, the character continuing to grow considerably across this season, and a neat subplot in which Bajor contemplates joining the Dominion, the episode's title (in the cards) echoing both the planet's destiny, and the Federation's inevitable war with the Founders.

Some commenters above complain about Jake Sisko's acting, but I thought he was fine throughout, and I really dig how DS9's costume department dress him; the guy looks like a 1930s hobo, or Huckleberry Finn on a space station.
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Trent
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: Forget Me Not

IMO this was another excellent episode, and under showrunner Michelle Paradise the show continues to correct the problems that persisted when Kurtzman was fully in control of season's 1 and 2.

Indeed, I'd argue the shift in quality here is akin to the shift seen in TNG season 3 and DS9 season 3. Yes, "Discovery" is yet to produced the stone cold classics that TNG and DS9 had by this point, but Paradise is climbing up from a deeper hole than Piller and Ira Behr ever did. Piller and Behr didn't have to reconfigure their whole casts. They didn't have to drastically rejig the aesthetic of their shows. They didn't follow an utter hack like Alex Kurtzman.

And so props to Paradise. She's making numerous vital corrections to the tone, style and mission statement of the show. Right away, she gives us better camera and compositional work, better mis-en-scene, and even better sets, the "Discovery" brighter, and more inviting, with new tables, new decor, and homier rooms.

You actually want to live and spend time on Paradise's ship. It literally looks better, not just when viewed from the inside, but outside as well*, her choice of exterior establishing shots - the Discovery framed in long shot, or granted languid panning shots - a hundred times better than the garish compositions seen during the Kurtzman-controlled seasons.

(*Let's be honest: the Enterprise-D was butt-ugly from many angles. It took time to figure out how to shoot it right and make it look stately and majestic. And the Discovery is similarly butt-ugly when looked at in certain ways. But Paradise-Trek has started finding those good angles.)

There are numerous other changes. Where Kurtzman-Trek was angsty, angry, violent and dark, Paradise-Trek is lighter, kinder, gentler. Where Kurtzman-Trek is manic and hyper-kinetic, Paradise-Trek is slower and more graceful. Where Kurtzman-Trek was snarky and ironic, Paradise-Trek is sincere and gently funny. Where Kurtzman-Trek goes for Big Moments (The End of the Universe!), Paradise-Trek teases drama out of smaller incidents. Where Kurtzman-Trek used its characters as props to propel plot, Paradise-Trek puts character first, and actively interrogates Michael's need to "repeatedly take on burdens" (this episode directly criticizes her for repeatedly "saving the universe and "putting herself center stage").

Similarly, where Kurtzman-Trek utilized hacky "puzzle-box" narratives, Paradise-Trek goes for character pieces, and stories that are largely self contained (yes, there is an overall arc, but the episodes work well as singular episodes, with clearly defined goals and resolutions).

And of course then there's Michael. Michael was a poorly acted, poorly written, wildly emotional, largely unlikeable character throughout much of season's 1 and 2. But aside from the Kurtzman penned opening to season 3, almost everything about her now works. She's softer, she's endearing, she clicks with everyone well and she looks awesome in her dreadlock-Riker-beard. There's none of that Michael/Ash crap, and none of that Michael/Lorca machismo or Michael/Spock goofiness. In Paradise's hands, the character works.

In short, whilst Kurtzman-Trek is the product of Hollywood super hacks, Paradise-Trek seems to belong to an artist of some integrity. Someone who cares about and genuinely loves the material and the franchise. In a way, the show now feels like "The Orville"; like a polished, cheery, reasonably good emulation of 90's era Trek tropes, slightly updated. The show's not as pioneering as TOS, TNG and DS9 were (or Kurtzman Trek in a sense; after all "Trek for Michael Bays fans" is sort of "new"), not as radically inventive as they were, but Paradise has created a respectful base to work with and climb upward from. Trek is fun again. It's likeable again.

Which is not to say this episode is perfect. It's not. Detmer's dinner table meltdown is over-the-top and unbelievable. Stamet's response to her likewise. The show continues to be too saccharine and sentimental, overcompensating for season's 1 and 2 by "overly stressing" how close the crew are. And Adira's visit to Trill - reminiscent of the DS9 episode "Equilibrium" - utilizes a tired cliche, Adira and Michael "lost in a dream sequence" in which "a repressed past truth" is confronted and then revealed, all while surrounded by CGI tentacles evocative of similar scenes in Miyazaki's masterpiece, "Valley of the Winds".

The episode's climax, cribbed from the Orville (the crew watching a performance in the hangar bay), which cribbed from TNG/TOS/VOY's similar-but-smaller scenes, is similarly too cute, Stamets and Detmer hugging while the crew watch a projection of an old comedy.

But these are minor problems. And you sense that these little problems will be fixed. You sense the show recalibrating itself, tilting in the right direction, and now smart enough to tilt back after recognizing any over-compensations.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 17, 2020, 3:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Empok Nor

In his review, Jammer says he'd have preferred if this episode stuck with its original premise, in which the Federation simply hunted some rogue Cardassians. I think I'd have preferred that too. The rewrite, in which Garak and Miles essentially "devolve" into past roles, one now a bloodthirsty Cardassian, the other a pseudo-racist Federation soldier, always struck me as the kind of superficial "subversion" that DS9 occasionally liked to dabble in.

And so much of this episode plays like a rehash of TNG's "Starship Mine", only here we have two highly trained warriors using guerilla tactics to best each other. It should be tense and thrilling, but the effect is mostly sleazy; the episode delights in rubbing its nose in human baseness and barbarity. After all, the episode says, this is what happens when you put animals on a different station, a different cage, and pump them full of the right biochemical cocktails. Savagery! Barbarism! Murder!

But the episode doesn't earn that lesson. Everything feels contrived to get you to Empok Nor and then to get you to a one-on-one battle between Miles and Garak. That an advanced civilization like the Federation can't fix a technical problem on DS9 without raiding Empok Nor for parts seems silly. That a group of Federation personnel can't use their brains and their wits to outsmart some deranged Cardassians seems sillier. That Miles can't figure out a way to technobabble Garak into a jail cell likewise.

Still, there's some good stuff here. While the episode mostly moves from one action cliche to the next, almost everything with Nog is good, and its fun seeing him develop as a character across the season. It's also nice getting a glimpse of Garak-the-killer, though I'd preferred he not be subjected to the mind-altering drugs. More effective, IMO, to keep him working with the Federation, and simply focus on his cold and methodical dispatching of the enemy Cardassians, his cheerful, affable veneer juxtaposed against the highly trained, highly skilled agent underneath.

One neat detail: when in the runabout, and still docked inside DS9, you can see the walls of the hangar outside the runabout's windows. I never noticed that little detail before (aren't the windows usually just blacked out?). Some of the "off-kilter" shots of Empok Nor also look neat, though such tilting and "listing" doesn't make much sense.
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Trent
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Blaze of Glory

DS9's final Maquis episode, "Blaze of Glory" offers two thematically related plots. In the first, Nog struggles to earn the respect of General Martok. In the second, Sisko and Eddington begrudgingly learn to accept each other. In each tale, a figure deemed pathetic or unprincipled is rehabilitated in the eyes of the other.

IMO, all of DS9's Maquis episodes are interesting. There are hints of sophistication in them, and they tend to play well when watched sequentially, rather than over six years, as they were initially released.

They also tend to have the same problems. Avery Brooks typically plays Sisko poorly in these episodes (his excellent performance in "For the Cause" is a rare exception), and the Federation's approach toward the Maquis and Cardassia is never convincingly or robustly explained. We needed, for example, scenes showing the Federation actively resettling some Maquis onto other planets. We needed scenes in which the Federation challenges Cardassia for breaching laws and withdrawal agreements (after all, the Federation pulls out of the DMZ with the understanding that ex-Federation settlers would not be persecuted. By committing a soft genocide, you'd assume the Federation are thus legally obligated to reclaim these planets). And we needed scenes in which Sisko faced repercussions for using biological weapons on a planet, and scenes explaining how he knew human citizens had evacuated before these weapons detonated.

In other words, DS9's Maquis episodes tend to oscillate from Trek at its most politically complex, to its most goofily simplistic. Complex situations are rushed by. Motivations go unexplained. Political relationships aren't convincingly laid out. These episodes tend to be as frustrating as they are rewarding, cool as they are annoying.

What "Blaze of Glory" does well, though, is rehabilitate Sisko after his bizarre war crimes in "For the Uniform". Here we see a softer Sisko who learns to somewhat respect Eddington. Eddington, meanwhile, begrudgingly grows fond of the Federation. A Federation that is epitomized by one brief scene in which Sisko instinctively gives Eddington a weapon and turns his back on him (because he believes only Eddington can stop missiles heading for Cardassia). It's an incident which recalls Sisko's relationship with the Jem'Hadar in "To the Death", in which Sisko takes a knife to the gut for the enemy, all so that a "technobabble gate" doesn't lead to millions dying.

In each case, Sisko - without drama or complaint - quickly and sacrificially gives up his life for both an enemy and for The Greater Good.

It's a brief moment, but via it Eddington finally gets a sense of how "principled" the Federation's "unprincipled" stance on the Maquis is. The Maquis will die, because risking war with the Cardassians and the Dominion will lead to more deaths. And though Sisko thinks Eddington's a misguided fool to the end, seeing countless slaughtered Maquis lining corridors nevertheless fills him with some kind of sympathy.

There are some other good scenes here. Nog's arc with Martok is pretty much perfect, and some of the phaser battles are better than average, including one scene in which Sisko guns down some cloaked Jem'Hadar like Clint Eastwood in "Where Eagles Dare".

But there's some bad stuff too. Avery Brooks' performance veers from good to wacky, Dax gets another tonally insulting scene at the end (which echoes a similarly offensive scene at the end of "For the Uniform"), and the episode's stance on food is a bit odd; Sisko's family appears to be eating real meat, and Eddington has an unbelievable hatred for "synthetic food". The episode could also using a line explaining the nature of Eddington's prison and prison sentence, as the cell he is kept in seems at odds with the rehabilitation centers seen in "Voyager". Granted the guy is an outright terrorist, but you'd expect the Federation to have jails and rehabilitation programs a bit more "advanced" than contemporary prisons.

Still, whatever its flaws, "Blaze of Glory" ends with Sisko no longer being an a-hole. And it ends with some sympathy for Eddington. After the bizarre "For the Uniform", this ending is about as Trekkian as these two can be allowed. Indeed, of all of DS9's arcs, I'd say its Maquis arc is one of the few which lands its ending well.
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