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William
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 6:58am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

I rolled my eyes when I saw the design, thinking Dr. Who's Celestial Toymaker and DS9's Move Along Home, but was impressed by the ending.
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William B
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

The subject of the paintings is also a nude woman, but one in an ambiguous pose (IIRC), which speaks to a central concern of whether Manua was being a sex object for Riker or was attempting to entice him sexually. The two styles Data mentions before getting to Picard are geometric constructivism and surrealism/irrationality, suggesting scientific and delusional/emotional motifs, as the murder intrigue is related to both Apgar's work and to feelings related to his wife. Picard attempts to blend several different styles, as Springy/Peter note, which is what he attempts to do. I think within episode we are supposed to view Picard as being more successful as an investigator than as a painter at combining multiple perspectives into a coherent narrative to get at The Truth.
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William
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Prototype

I'm sure when activating an unknown alien device you'd at least put it in a containment force field?
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William B
Mon, Oct 7, 2019, 8:53am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

@Elliott, ah I see. I thought the character ranking was per season, with the +- for information about trends. That makes sense, though I guess I'd admit surprise that the cumulative effect of four seasons of Bashir would be higher than four seasons of Garak (e.g.) even though I completely agree Bashir had a great fourth season and Garak a poor-for-Garak one.
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William B
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

Hey so, I happened to catch "The Vulcan Hello" (not "Battle at the Binary Stars"). I don't have particular plans to follow up on this series at the moment. I'm aware of how generally divisive Discovery is around these parts (though I have gotten the impression that probably a majority of comments are negative).

I had already heard enough about the series to have gone in with some preconceptions, which is regrettable but maybe unavoidable. It's hard to know how I would have felt going in absolutely cold. Still: I expected, based on my familiarity with the performers alone, to like Michelle Yeoh and Doug Jones, and I did. Visually I expected to dislike the lens flares, and I did, but otherwise I generally liked the look of things.

Klingons: I guess my immediate feeling is that I don't like the Klingon redesign. My feeling is that the Klingons are designed to look even uglier and more fearsome than the design from The Motion Picture forward so as to make them be more obviously antagonistic, probably in an effort to (eventually) reveal that they're people deep down, no matter how ugly they are. The problem with this is that we already know the Klingons, so if there's a reveal that they're not so bad underneath it all it won't be much of a shock; and if they are mostly going to remain the bad guys it feels cheap to contort them further as part of their repurposing. Maybe it would have been better to just invent a new species as bad guys here? And yes the "we object to non-Klingons" rhetoric is on the nose as political commentary. The scenes drag something fierce.

On the other hand, the basic idea that the Klingons are politically deeply divided and that a war is going to unite them seems like an okay place to start. I'm getting flashbacks of the Kazon, which is not good, but basically it's a backstory that plausibly ties in with the Klingon political unrest that we see in the TNG era. I thought the idea of the bodies being used as symbolic armour was kind of neat.

Sarek: Does not really seem like Sarek to me in terms of performance. I also am not clear on what the deal is meant to be with the Vulcans -- the idea that Vulcans have a secret history with Klingons unknown to Starfleet suggests the Vulcans are not very well integrated in the Federation. I'm not sure how much they are supposed to be separate from the Federation. I'm not all *that* concerned about continuity issues between distinct series, if it's dramatically necessary, but of course the Vulcans are being used because we know so much about them from the other series, so (as with the Klingons) it's a double-edged blade. But anyway, I like the idea of Vulcans using pure logic to get to a we-shoot-first position.

Michael Burnham: I don't have a strong opinion yet on SMG's performance, in part because it's a hard character to pin down. The character concept -- deeply traumatized, then told to suppress her emotions, currently thrown into a situation where she's confronting the species who killed her parents and also getting information from her Vulcan mentor/surrogate father to control her emotions -- seems to demand these huge contradictions and that can explain somewhat the wildness of her actions while other times appearing calm. However, I think the writing choices attempting to show how deeply passionate she is about the Klingon threat tended toward overkill: the radiation exposure with dire warnings that she's about to die, but as long as she gets back to her treatment she'll be fine; her insistence on firing first to start a war (?) and refusal to back down, and then her neck pinching the captain and brazenly mutinying without making it remotely convincing to her crew. The idea with the captain appears to be that because Michael is bad at being a Vulcan, she can do a neck pinch but it only lasts two minutes (?), though really it just feels like the story "needed" some rapid turns to get Michael in a position to do her screwy mutiny while bringing Georgiou back immediately before Michael can actually accomplish anything.

This stuff isn't really convincing, partly because while the stakes are high, the idea that only the Shenzhou can prevent the Klingons from destroying everything and can only do it by opening fire at this exact moment seems insufficiently justified. Michael is clearly meant to be traumatized, but even so I think we're meant to believe that there *is* a logic to her position, just one that is distorted by her wounds. And I'm not sure that the episode earns her going full General Jack D. Ripper on her CO and the Klingons.

So there are problems. That said, I don't think any of the Trek shows' first episodes were exceptional (counting The Man Trap as TOS' "first episode"; I did think both The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before were very good).
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William B
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

@Springy, if it's any consolation I think this is the worst of the season, with one possible exception.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 10:23am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: A Taste of Armageddon

@Chrome, I might be misremembering, but I don't think Kirk's position is exactly against forcing behaviour through the threat of violence. As I think Peter has talked about, TOS seems to not even be that anti-war, exactly. I think Kirk's attitude is that they have to face up to what perpetual war actually means, in order to make an informed choice. Maybe their conflicts really are unresolvable without war, but their current situation is so sanitized that they can't really evaluate it properly. I wouldn't go as far as to say I support Kirk's decision -- it's pretty out there to force a war to be bloodier in order to convince people how to behave. But I think Kirk's position is internally consistent: sometimes violence is necessary, but you have to own it. Not owning up to your violence is what mostly leads to unnecessary violence.

I think in addition to the general Cold War allegory, I think this was specifically about the war in Vietnam, where individuals were shuttled across the world to die in a war that a huge proportion of Americans were basically insulated from, so that for most people, until they or their own relative were drafted, had no real sense of the scale of the loss of life, and even in some cases were able to calmly go into war (like the people in this episode calmly accepting that they've been selected to be killed) because society at large was in such denial as to the reality of what their war entailed. Kirk's actions are in that sense a little bit similar to journalists reporting to Americans on the actual horrors of combat during the war -- levelling with people (to a degree) about what their war actually means, so that they can actually understand it. Not literally, because the journalists weren't really ramping up the war so much as just communicating what was already happening, but I think metaphorically Kirk's doing something similar.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 6:26am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

Well, okay, I'd still put Sisko below O'Brien, and possibly even below Dax. Still.
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William B
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 6:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

I'll add: I'm not a big Sisko fan either, all things considered, though I am much more a fan than Elliott. But anyway, I do think that I'd put him much higher in the season ranking. I agree that For the Cause doesn't work that well for him and I'm not a big fan of much of the Sisko/Worf material this season either. I also dislike To the Death and Shattered Mirror. However, I think The Visitor and Paradise Lost are some of the best moments for the character thusfar, not to mention small but important moments in Rejoined, and while I agree to an extent about the problems Elliott has with Accession, I think Sisko's characterization is strong there too. If I used the same approximate "character ranking" (which seems about right to me) I'd probably put Sisko around where O'Brien is. I'd also probably swap Kira and Dax; the Kira-Dukat stories are quite strong but otherwise Kira is really left hanging, with only Accession and Starship Down focusing on her as a person and I'm not sure how well they works, whereas Jadzia has a (perhaps) surprising amount of good material.
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William B
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Second Season Recap

@Elliott, Peter:

I think I'd argue that of Death Wish, The Thaw and Meld, that Meld is the one that is (relatively) a Voyager-specific story. Not necessarily "quintessentially Voyager," but I do think that it relies both on the specifics of Tuvok's character and on Voyager's isolation in terms of how to deal with a murderer on board. By contrast, Death Wish feels like it needed to be a Trek story and *probably* not on TNG, because it needed to almost step outside Q's TNG arc in order to be able to evaluate it from the outside...but that again doesn't require it to be a *Voyager* story. The Thaw doesn't even really have to be Trek, let alone Voyager, but then I'm not complaining.
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William B
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Fourth Season Recap

@Elliott, welcome back!

I basically agree on broad strokes. The season is very effective -- although effective in a way that is largely in spite of Worf's introduction, despite Dorn having decent chemistry with the rest of the cast. As you say, cut out the Worf episodes (except maybe WotW) and the season improves, and I like the point that "first season problems" are particularly forgivable. Anyway, it's a very good year, for sure, which zeroed in on the series' strengths and had many very strong episodes and few weak ones.
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William
Tue, Oct 1, 2019, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Non Sequitur

Oh, I'm a little late. I hope @Ken got rid of his capitalism worship. After all, people evolve. I have no problem with restaurants in the 24th century, in the age of food replicators. I have microwave meals at home, but I prefer when someone cooks for me in a restaurant.
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William B
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Qpid

@Peter, I really agree. I also think that Picard insisting on going alone only for Riker et al. to back him up is not just an adventure movie cliché (though it is that) but another version of the same lesson. Picard tries to keep these people at bay, but not only does he need them, it's not even really possible to, because they (like Vash, like Q) have minds of their own. SPOILER And I think there's a direct line from Riker and the others rushing in to save the day and the importance of bringing the gang back together in the future, and eventually joining the poker game, in All Good Things. The abstract, intellectual puzzle is extremely important, but Picard needs his personal relationships as well as his wits to solve it.
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William B
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Booby Trap

@Springy, it occurs to me that even the prurient version of the title can be read two ways. Is it a trap for, or a trap by...? Geordi sets a "trap" for the potential girlfriend, and then the Leah-gram "traps" him. What's interesting is how easily she escapes. The perfectly planned date -- which she immediately recognizes and rejects. It's too artificial, and too obvious, a "trap" and sends off flags of being inauthentic. Not that I think there's anything malicious in Geordi's planning -- just that people resist being compelled into connection, and he gives off vibes that he's desperate for connection which he doesn't know how to get. Geordi gets himself trapped by a pretty hologram which mirrors the Enterprise's predicament, and has to extricate himself; he wants to connect and so initially misses the signs and lets himself get trapped.
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William B
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

@Springy --

I had never thought much about it either, until you mentioned how weird the title is. I think I always thought it had something to do with "ensigns" (low-ranking officers?) in command positions, but given that Data *is* a command officer it never made sense. Your linking it to ensigns as symbols, flags made me realize that must be what the title is, and then it felt like an archaic way to say it, which is what got me thinking. Melinda Snodgrass, who wrote this episode (and, more significantly, The Measure of a Man) strikes me as a literary type, as well as one interested in politics and history, so quoting a president's poem seems to fit.

Amusingly, I had to sift through several pages of internet search results exclusively about this episode before finally hitting the poem.
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William B
Sun, Sep 29, 2019, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

From "The Wants of Man":

I want the seals of power and place,
The ensigns of command;
Charged by the People's unbought grace
To rule my native land.
Nor crown nor sceptre would I ask
But from my country's will,
By day, by night, to ply the task
Her cup of bliss to fill.

I can see how this relates to the episode's themes - - not just about command, but about when that command is "freely given" and when it is compelled by threats of force or trickery.
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William B
Sun, Sep 29, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

The title appears to be a reference to a poem by John Quincy Adams:

http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/adams02.html
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William B
Sun, Sep 29, 2019, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

This was a strange place to pick on someone for being a "fanboy" imo. Chrome didn't even say he (I think he, correct me if I'm wrong) liked the episode and specifically said he thought this angle he mentioned wasn't intended. The only thing he did was present a theory that could account for Odo's behaviour in universe. Lots of us find that kind of thing fun even if it has little bearing on the "objective" quality of the show.
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William B
Sun, Sep 22, 2019, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

This is my favourite Aron Eisenberg performance, though I agree with other comments that he's great in AR558 and Treachery, Faith and the Great River too. I'd add Heart of Stone, In the Cards and The Magnificent Ferengi as some dramatic and comic highlights. He did a lot with what began as a somewhat thankless role, which seemed to be primarily designed to develop Quark and Jake initially, and was a standout recurring player in a show with a huge number of them. RIP.
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William
Fri, Sep 13, 2019, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

I have to say, it's been a pleasure to watch DS9 with Jammer. I know I'm a few years late, but watching one episode at the time, and reading your reviews, it was a wonderful experience. DS9 blew my mind too, much more than TNG (I skipped TOS, sorry bout it).

Thank you for the amazing times and see you on the Voyager section!
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William B
Wed, Sep 4, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

@Chrome, the explanation was that the Doctor needed to make that special suit to help with her vitals or something. It was pretty stupid. Fortunately, as you allude to the Seven character was actually well done -- Jeri Ryan in particular was fantastic. The main thing that's notable is that the visual presentation was largely at odds with the story. OK -- of course we can see why Seven wouldn't notice or mind the weird outfit she's wearing. But it still conveys something weird, doesn't relate to her character, and it's uncomfortable because Seven is basically a child emotionally.
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William B
Wed, Sep 4, 2019, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

I meant to add, certainly by Generations [spoiler?] they were pretty overt that the Duras Sisters were not exactly universally seen as beautiful -- there's that gag where they say "Human women are so repulsive!"

I think that the overall effect intended, which I think may have been successful, was for the Duras sisters to be a kind of dream/nightmare in one for their male audience -- sexy body, scary faces, seductive but deadly, etc. A portrayal of extremely aggressive sexuality. "Arousing" in both the sexual sense and the fear/repulsion sense, which should make them magnetic. Overall I get the impression they're not as popular with the audience as they maybe were with the writers (Moore in particular). That's not *quite* the same as going for pure titillation, though I think that titillation is part of it. This seems to be the role they try to play for Worf in Part II, who of course is having none of it.
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William B
Wed, Sep 4, 2019, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

The two parallel discussions here are:

1. Were Lursa and B'Etor put in the Klingon Kleavage outfits in part to please a section of the audience with their hotness?
2. If so, is this a bad thing?

As to 1? I dunno. I think yes. I find the idea that Lursa and B'Etor are dressed in sexy attire in order to entrap Klingon men, but that none of the audience is supposed to find them at all sexy, a little strange. I think that it's meant to be that the Duras Sisters play their attractiveness to their advantage, which implies that they are meant to be attractive. So either they are meant to be unattractive by human standards but attractive by Klingon ones, or they are meant to be, well, attractive. The only way I'd buy that they are meant to be unattractive by human standards would seem plausible to me if the beauty standard was genuinely shown to be completely alien -- like with Ferengi objectifying women based on the quality of their fingers because of oo-max. That is something where it's so far from a human conception of sexy that the show is definitely demonstrating a sexual topic without expecting to arouse any sexual feelings in the audience. However, attractive women with hefty breasts partly exposed while in Klingon makeup? I don't think the Klingon makeup cancels their physical characteristics all that much in terms of intent.

It *may* be that they were going for a kind of body-horror-esque contrast between their hideous Klingon-makeup faces and their physical attributes. Sexy body scary face is its own thing. I can think of a lot of things they could have been going for.

HOWEVER, as for 2? I don't think it's a problem in this case. the idea that female politicians, particularly in a hereditary aristocracy, are using their sexuality to their advantage, does make sense and there is a story reason. I don't really object to it here, at all -- the Duras Sisters using their secondary sexual characteristics to seduce and intimidate? Why not? The story reason for Seven of Nine dressing like she does is so thin and so bonkers that it's pretty obvious there's no story reason for it at all. That's part of what Ron Moore's complaint was -- that if Seven was going to dress in an overtly sexual way, she should be interested in sex. He does have Lursa and B'Etor interested in sex, at least as a means for power, so, in this respect he's consistent. He takes the "sexy villainess" thing pretty far with Six in BSG, but there also is generally clear that he's not having her dressed seductively in a way that runs counter to the story.

The question of whether the story "needs" Lursa and B'Etor to be dressed this way is a little moot. I don't know that it adds that much to the story for L&B to use sexual seduction and intimidation as part of their arsenal, but I don't think it detracts either.
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William B
Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Icarus Factor

Good thoughts all.

Chrome, I like your idea that Kyle cheated in his encounter with the Tholians. This makes me think of Kirk in his Kobayashi Maru, which then makes me consider whether Kyle could be something of a Kirk analogue. (Kirk also survived the Tholians.) Perhaps Riker wanted to be a Kirk-esque leader, but is that possible for him? Is it what he even wants?
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William B
Wed, Aug 28, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

Just a bit more:

We know their society is in turmoil already, as Riker was injured in a riot.

The main thing Durken wants, all episode, is more time. Time to adjust to new *ideas*. Riker continually gets head injuries in the episode.

KROLA: Will he survive?
BEREL: I didn't think he would have survived the injuries.
KROLA: I have to interrogate him before he dies.
BEREL: At least give him time to regain some strength. Come back tomorrow.
KROLA: It cannot wait until tomorrow.
(Mirasta enters)
MIRASTA: Krola, we can get help from his ship. With their medical technology, he might recover.
KROLA: We're not giving him back. He's the one advantage we have now. Use your drugs to revive him.
BEREL: Those drugs increase cardial rate and vascular pressure. That's the last thing we need to do to him right now.
MIRASTA: It will probably be enough to kill him. You can't do it!

The point being: it takes time to recover from a head injury. Try to make someone recover from a head injury too fast, and they might die - - may be what is needed to fix their head will be too much for their heart to bear, for instance. The "head injury" for the planet is the relatively recent notion that they are not special, not the centre of the universe. The society can indeed adapt, given enough time. But they have not had time, yet.
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