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Wed, Oct 28, 2020, 9:55pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

Without delving into spoilers for Picard or Discovery, this episode of DS9 set a gold standard for approaching the classic Trek canon that newer series have failed to meet. Instead of being embarrassed by the camp of TOS, Tribble-ations embraces it head on. The meta, of course, is the characters are interacting with the retro with the same fondness we do. Jammer cited this element as a flaw, but Jadzia’s “pep” is absolutely appropriate - and given strong rationale in the episode. Having lived through this time, like many viewers, she is delighted to revisit it.

Modern Trek is seemingly ashamed of its origins dressing its crew and ships in drab grey and muted blue. Feeling the need to be sleek and edgy, Discovery may share its position on the timeline, but too afraid to share TOS’ colorful optimism. DS9 knew how to honor its roots, respect its canon, and still do something new. This episode is Trek at its best.
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Wesley's pyjamas
Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 3:39am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Far From Home

Did anyone catch what the purpose of using the phaser during the crash was meant to be? I think Saru said something about cushioning the impact, but how would that work? It couldn't be by applying inverse force to the ship, because that would mean anytime a phaser is fired the person or ship would be propelled backward. The only other thing I can think of is melting the ice.
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Sat, Aug 1, 2020, 4:01am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S4: Fourth Season Recap

I have so many mixed feelings about Star Trek: Enterprise in almost every category.

Positives: Unlike later Abrams Trek, Enterprise more or less maintained the Star Trek “feel” (especially in the latter third and fourth seasons). And unlike the bile of contemporary Kurtzman Trek, it demonstrated a general respect for the franchise. Did we *really* need to know why TOS Klingons had smooth features? No, probably not. But I remain in awe that this series had such a love for TOS and desire to honor the overall continuity that it gave us an origin story anyway. That “love-letter” to continuity ended up an albatross in the finale weaving in the TNG cast in a story that was not their own, but it at least proved the showrunners cared about the wider franchise canon. That’s commendable.

Visually, Enterprise is a good looking show. A little more drab than previous entries, but, again, considering how embarrassed Kurtzman seems of classic Trek uniforms, ships, and aesthetics in DIS and PIC, Enterprise honors the visual style of its predecessors, while still being slickly produced.

A number of the series’ characters are engaging, particularly Tripp. Likewise Malcolm and Doctor Phlox (disagreeing with the reviewer) are reasonably well-rounded and no member of the crew grated on the viewer like Wesley or Neelix. I remain a Travis defender in that Anthony Montgomery COULD have handled deeper, more abundant material. His bright-eyed optimism and divergent upbringing could have been a real asset if they had bothered to give him more screen time. If he appears “wooden,” perhaps it derives from so much time atrophying on the bench.

Enterprise also makes more of its premise than its predecessor Voyager. We see first contact with a number of classic races, in-depth looks at early relations with Vulcan, and a sense of the wonder, danger, and novelty of interstellar travel in their era. It isn’t flawless, but it does well as a prequel (again, shots fired, Discovery).

Negatives: The collective cast never gels in remotely the same way as the TOS Trinity or the TNG bridge crew or the wonderful noir ensemble on DS9. Even later Voyager managed to build meaningful dynamics between EMH, Seven, and Janeway or Tom and Belanna. T’Pol regresses in many ways as a character after ingesting toxic metals (emotion crack) losing her strength, competency, and distinctiveness. The continual “will they, won’t they” yo-yoing of her and Tripp’s relationship culminated in absolutely nothing and the reviewer rightly notes that all characters essentially end where they began. Character arcs need not be seismic to be profound (before senselessly killing Data off in Nemesis, his triumph was merely in incrementally becoming more human).

Archer ultimately never really worked as a character, especially when the writers unsuccessfully wrote him as a tough guy. A series of poor scripts resulted in Archer imprisoned or kidnapped too many times to count and the character fluctuated wildly between compassionate and aggressive (Janeway syndrome).

Now the unfortunate standard, Enterprise pioneered season-spanning arcs far beyond even what occurred on DS9. Relying on ongoing narratives for an entire season necessitates that your core story be really good. And like eventual Discovery and Picard, much of Enterprise’s core plot threads were not very good. Particularly the Temporal Cold War which was a) confusing, b) largely unexplained and unresolved, and c) diverting and uninteresting. Anchoring so much of seasons 1, 2, and partially 3 in this plot marred many of the series’ episodes. DS9 paid dividends focusing on the Dominion War, but also showed the dangers of serialization with the P’ah Wraiths and the Prophets (in many ways seriously harming its own finale).

All in all, Enterprise is as worthy a member of the franchise as Voyager, if not in some respects more meritorious. Voyager and even TNG and DS9 all came into their own in their latter halves. With three more seasons and the promising changes of seasons three and four, Enterprise might well have become a great series, despite its flaws. Cut off at the legs as it was hitting its stride, we half to judge it as a half series. Yes, it’s tiptoeing into grittier material and serialization may have helped pollute the franchise of the latter 2010s. And no, Enterprise lacks a Darmok or a Measure of a Man or an Inner Light. But it tried something new, fleshed out the canon in a meaningful way, and showed great respect and care for a franchise we love.
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Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 11:16pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S4: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II

This was my favorite mirror universe episode since TOS. Sure, it was pointless. But considering what a slog some of the DS9 mirror adventures turned out to be, this was a breath of fresh air. Fan service is at its best when its contained to a bottle (like DS9’s wonderful Tribble outing). Keeping the plot relatively light and inconsequential is actually a good thing. Considering other (read: later) series infatuation with the overly serious Mirror stories, relegating this camp romp to its own, independent tale was smart. Plus we get a gorn, a fun twist, and lots of hammy invocations of Kirk through Archer’s overacting. This two-parter is a winner in my book.
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Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 4:25pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S4: Bound

Yes, the episode is a mess. It deals in sexist tropes and its “empowering” reveal makes little sense in regard to t previous appearance of the Orions in an earlier episode. For a final five episode installment, shockingly poor.

But like DS9’s Profit and Lace, it isn’t nearly the worst Trek outing. Despite its many failings, it still has a light, comedic bent that makes it less painful. Some of the banter is fun and it was a treat hearing about the Gorn. But compared to TNG’s deeply problematic forays to planets of both Native Americans and Africans or Voyager’s butchering of both evolution and warp drive that sees Janeway and Tom mating as lizards, this was at least semi-watchable. Not great. Not good. But not mindnumblingly boring or canon-rending.
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Sat, Jul 25, 2020, 10:19pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S4: United

It seems plausible Shran simply viewed “incapacitation” as impossible in a battle with serated blades. Archer took advantage of the secondary element of the ushaan-tor, the tether, to choke Shran and then unbalance him by slicing off his antenna. So I think it’s fair to say “duel to the death” is fueled more by the practical and emotional considerations of Shran than the explicit rules themselves.
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Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 10:16pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S3: Damage

Though a fine episode, it is easy in retrospect to see it as a portend for the franchise’s steep decline into murky, aggressive, any-means-necessary dreck now synonymous with Discovery and Picard. The episode’s message ages particularly poorly as we look back at the actual War on Terror over a decade on. T’Pol’s crack addiction and Pirate Archer are now emblematic of the franchise that lost its way. Picard would convene the officers in his ready-room to weigh any ethical dilemma. Archer unilaterally and continually makes the unethical call. And the franchise still lives with the consequences.
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Thu, Jun 25, 2020, 1:20am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

Like “Doctor, Doctor,” another episode with an extremely dubious moral lesson. Yes, Tripp overstepped bounds by entering the cogenitor’s quarters and bringing it aboard the ship (initially). But once the cogenitor (Charles) becomes aware it is a slave - and there is no avoiding recognizing this fact - and requests asylum, Archer becomes morally culpable for dooming this person to be denied autonomy, choice, or even basic personhood. In “Doctor, Doctor,” Archer permitted an ENTIRE ALIEN RACE to face imminent extinction on the off-chance that the subordinate race MIGHT evolve into greater potential. In this episode, Archer forces a runaway slave back into captivity to avoid offending the slaver race. Only one episode prior, Archer DEMANDED Dr. Phlox administer treatment to an ill alien in violation of Phlox personal medical ethics.

Of course, what Tripp should have done isn’t cut and dry and the degree to which Enterprise should have involved itself in mitigating sex-based slavery among these people is worthy of consideration. But the ultimate conclusion is yet one more example of Enterprise disturbing didactic episodes.
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Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 1:01am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S2: Horizon

I chime in these many years later to say I don’t see Travis as a “blank slate,” but rather very earnest and optimistic. And revisiting this episode after the jaded, downright deplorable character traits on display in ST:Picard, that fresh, eager, openness is extremely welcome. I only find myself disappointed that Travis is relegated to the background when in many ways I prefer him to Hoshi’s blandness or Malcolm’s “must follow the rules” routine.
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Picard Is Wesleys Father
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 6:53am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

Finally, Roddenberry's dream of a drug-filled, vulgar, income inequality laden, xenophobic future has been realized! Actually, therein is my biggest problem with this series - pessimism and grit. I doubt any of us ever *really* wanted to see Captain Picard dressed down with the f-bomb or watch an emotionally shattered Starfleet subordinate take a hit off a future bong. It also feels like watching two shows of very wildly inconsistent quality: Picard Adventures, brimming with the acting talent of Patrick Stewart, and Romulan Borg Cube Exposition, a very boring show about sexy people learning how to act on the set.
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Picard is Wesleys Father
Sat, Feb 1, 2020, 3:42am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Yes, Phlox and Archer ultimately come to a hamfisted, potentially evil decision at episode’s end. It is a philosophy of complete inaction if taken to its conclusion. Indeed, ANY interference in ANY matter great or small might well alter “nature’s” course. Given sufficient time and development, the planet’s microbes might become a dominant species after billions of years. The presence of the dominant species here seems in no way to impede the development of the less developed species. For all Phlox really knows, the Menk and the Valakians may well thrive and both continue to evolve co-dependently for millennia if the cure is delivered.

The worst part of this episode is that is otherwise fascinating and wonderfully constructed. By altering the dilemma somewhat, this entire debacle might have been avoided. Perhaps if the Menk faced certain extinction if the Valakians survived as they both fought over scarce resources. Or the key to Valakian genetic survival was in cross-breeding with the Menk, but their prejudices stood in the way. Or the Doctor made a shocking discovery that the vaccination came through harvesting genetic material from the Menk in such a way that caused them harm. ANYTHING but the distant possibility that the Menk might not reach apex primacy over the planet in a million years.

Even if Archer still accepted that deeply flawed logic, the episode might have been redeemed if we concluded on a moment of thoughtful melancholy. “Did we do the right thing dooming this entire race to certain extinction in deference to a warped understanding of evolution?” Phlox might have mused aloud. Instead, Phlox tees up a date for himself and everyone goes about their business, content knowing that by the Age of Picard, all of Valakian culture, an entire race, its music and history and science, its hopes and dreams vanish from existence with the highly dependent Menk likely also extinct from sudden neglect.
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Wesley C
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 7:55pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

This is one of my truly favorite episodes. Like Nick P, I think there's something astonishingly awesome about letting the unknown remain unknown. Really glad Maurice Hurley didn't get his way about the ending! Jammer is right on for pointing out the pay-off of unexplained mystery in this episode as compared to "The Royale." I agree with others who said that this adds a layer of creepiness to the episode and to the idea of space travel.

As much as I enjoy the clean, technical, explanatory sci-fi of TNG's later seasons, I've also been a big fan of the way the series explores human consciousness as a complicated thing, and have always thought Troi was used to some very good effect in her confident, advisorly (versus strictly therapeutic) role of the early seasons. In this episode, the writers make her the pivot-point between the unknown event "out there" and the unravelling of real-Picard inside himself. He has a naturally difficult time confronting his own weakness, what he thinks is the cowardice of the other Picard who's only six hours older than he is. His cautious, cool-headed patience in "Where Silence Has Lease" is contrasted against Picard's second-guessing of himself in this episode. As digitaurus points out, the uncertainty leads Picard away from his natural instinct to stay and explore, and by pulling away, the ship gets sucked in. Danger increases with every effort they make to force their release. There's a kind of folkloric, even spiritual, message here about giving in, letting go, finding release ultimately by setting resistance aside. Such an interesting antidote to the idea that exploration equals acquisition. And yet, Picard kills his future self -- maybe for good reason so that the space entity doesn't think he's trying to escape (?), but which still adds a flavor of mystery to a captain celebrated for being so measured and humane.
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Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:36pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

You're proving the point, Robert. Vietnam, Gulf War 1 and 2 (WMDs and Baby Incubators) etc were all started by Imperialists faking a war crime in order to justify entering a war. The party doing the faking always lies and says they are "doing this to stop an existential threat", when in reality they are the Imperialists and they are the ones interested in stealing resources/land etc.

In "Moonlight", Sisko pulls the Bush/Reagan defense. He is justified in faking WMDs, baby incubators, Gulf of Tonkins and what not, he thinks, because the enemy is even worse. The episode endorses the behaviour we see in the real world by making real the fantastical existential threat which those in the real world use to bolster their similar lies.

The reason DS9 believes this is okay, is because DS9 literally thinks the Dominion is Germany in WW2. It gets away with this shallow thinking because most Westerners have a very cartoonish view of WW2, a conflict in which the West were complicit in the creation of fascism, and actively fanned the class warfare which let to Hitler (not to mention most subsequent dictators, terrorists etc across the globe).

And of course the West in WW2 were, in aggregate, worse Imperialists than Germany. Britain would kill almost 2 billion in India over its 200 year rule there, not to mention it had colonies across the globe. America would itself commit genocides in the Phillipines and Indonesia and so forth. The point is, DS9 uses very well known real world behaviour but obscures the lessons we should learn from them. If DS9 were intellectually honest, it would LITERALLY DEAL with the Federation's slide into horrible fascism and vehemently denounce this as unnaceptable. Instead all the episodes like MOONLIGHT just tip-toe or abandon these issues.

The Dominion as portrayed in DS9 is a fantasy. It does not and can not exist. To say it has a real world analogue is to insult the historical causes which led to whatever analogue you find, and to obscure the proper way to solve the end result of the historical causes which led to whatever analogue you find.

Episodes like MOONLIGHT are anti-intellectual in the worst ways, because they bolster dangerous myths.
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