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William B
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Basics, Part II

Good write up Elliott. Looking back on what I wrote, I see I couldn't think of what they *should* have done on the planet, and your suggestion of going to the "basics" of psychology makes some sense. Obviously what they did planetside is bad either way. It occurs to me that it may have worked better to fold in aspects of Resolutions into Basics 2 - - instead of focusing on a Survival Story for ten minutes and then a Can We Ever Get Along With These Savages? story for a few more, have the setup in part 1 be that they clearly do have enough basic tools to survive on the planet, and so the issue is what happens when they no longer have a ship to run (and thus time to think).

One of the things Part I suggested was that Culluh wanted to punish Janeway for not giving him replicators. The episode was also maybe attempting to show the Voyager crew having to live like the Kazon and the Kazon living like the Voyager crew. Culluh thinks it's all a matter of tech, but Culluh is too stupid to use the tech he's given and squanders any such advantages, whereas Janeway and Chakotay can make peace with other random tribes rather than playing the endless musical chairs of internal war that the Kazon do. It's not just technological superiority that makes the Voyager crew, well, better. I guess that could work, but peace with the Ewoks isn't really all that impressive here and the Kazon are so hopeless that it's not exactly a compliment to come out on top of them.
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William B
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

Discovery and Picard have zero negative season seven reviews, either.
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William B
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 2:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

Not that no one else has mentioned this, but for me the key insight about Old Odo is that he was willing to wipe out two hundred years of history he himself knew, of people he in principle saw born and died. It's not the same as Miles arguing they go back to their lives on the station (even had he held fast) because it's a confirmation that Odo will choose Kira over two centuries' worth of other connections he's made (or has not made), that *this* is how much his feelings for her eclipse his feelings for everyone else. To be fair to Odo, something similar could be said about Jake in The Visitor, though at least there it's less clear that there are any lives that definitely won't happen (Jake probably believes that Nog, his wife, etc. will still exist in the world where Ben doesn't die). This also raises the question of where Odo's loyalties lie should his feelings for Kira waver.
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William B
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 3:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

I don't think gathering information and helping Odo are mutually exclusive though. Gathering information has been rigorously reinforced in Garak over decades and I don't think he can just turn it off that easily. And he still can't help but despise himself for not living up to Tain even if he also doesn't entirely believe in him. Maybe helping Odo is cover for gathering information, which is cover for helping Odo (which is cover for...).
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William B
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Muse

And I'm enjoying your contributions to the site very much too!
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William B
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 7:53am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Muse

@Fenn, thanks. I'm doing okay-ish. I was having a bad couple of days upthread.
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William B
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 7:22am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Speaking for myself, of course Stewart is fantastic and the episode wouldn't work without him (or someone of his calibre, whoever that would be!) but mostly what attracts me about this episode is that it corrals the notion of a civilization's existence -- including an unavoidable planetary demise -- to a single well-lived life, and gives us a snapshot of that, via Picard, in an hour. It's about living in the shadow of death -- of the individual, of the planet! -- and finding meaning despite (or even in) that. It's breathtakingly ambitious, the mad folly of putting the weight and meaning of a whole planet and species onto a flute, but it's presented in an elegant, straightforward and (arguably) unpretentious way. Probably the episode relies on cliches to get to its final outcome but it doesn't really detract from the episode for me, at least because any cliches in this episode are still to me representations of recognizably real kinds of people and problems.

The other thing is that in addition to showing Jean-Luc opening up from his closed off world, it also shows him giving up some measure of control -- first he stops trying to get back to the Enterprise, then he stops trying to save his planet. It's not really a message that one should never try to do anything (!) but rather it pops because we know both how hard these things are for Jean-Luc and that he has had and will have plenty of opportunities to save humanity. There are some things beyond our control, however. Now of course here is where it's worth noting the invasive, violating element to what the probe does to Picard, and I do understand why people object. To me the episode is about what Jean-Luc gets from the experience (and the experience itself) rather than the morality of what the Ressikans did, so I think it's still meaningful to see Jean-Luc giving up some of his control in order to appreciate what he life he has.
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William B
Thu, Dec 12, 2019, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Nightingale

I don't think the idea is that Lien was fired instead of Wang because Wang is better looking (both are good looking people), but because Wang got more positive press that year (related to his good looks). It seems as if the producers weren't particularly happy with either of them and then pivoted from firing Wang to firing Lien so they could capitalize on the publicity for Wang. That it seems Lien had some big personal problems is probably another factor.

Strictly speaking, the "character bible" versions of Kim and Kes were some of the characters who would have the most obvious arcs over the course of the series, as the youngest, the naifs who would be expected to change the most over the seven-year journey. It's sort of a shame that one's story was truncated by her leaving the show and the other was kept in a semi-artificial stasis. I say sort of because it's hard to know how much the show could have really done for the characters given the possible limitations of the actors (either in terms of range or in terms of personal problems getting in the way, or maybe both). In fact the best episode (arguably) for each character is one which jumped ahead in time (Before and After, Timeless) to a "fully developed" version of the character, even though in principle we could have seen some of this development in real time. (I know that we did, a bit -- Elliott I'm sure will talk about what Kes development actually did happen in season 3, especially.)
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William B
Thu, Dec 12, 2019, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Nightingale

I also dimly recall an interview where Wang said that they wouldn't let him direct an episode when he asked, in contrast to every other cast member (Trek was generally pretty generous with allowing cast members to direct). For whatever reason, they did seem to maybe have it in for him. Most of us here seem to think his performances weren't really great, so it might be that the producers didn't think he had the artistic chops or something, but I don't know if that fully explains it.

"Alas, they underserve him again. They didn’t HAVE to make him an indecisive, micro-managing, arrogant and unsympathetic middle manager. Those characteristics do not naturally emerge from earlier shows where he’s been shown to have more judgment and maturity. He could just as believably - and more rewardingly - have been allowed to demonstrate more ability here. The writers pranked him."

Yeah. I think part of the problem is that the writers wanted to make "a command episode" for Kim which is *only* about his command abilities, and so that necessarily means they have to have some kind of arc about his command abilities, and so the arc they settled on is "he is bad at it but learns," and then they went about it in a hamhanded way. They might have done better if they'd made Kim commanding part of an episode about something else (as they did in season five sometimes).
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William B
Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

Finale spoilers

Ah so THAT'S why Geordi became a writer and apparently successfully wooed Leah.
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William B
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 11:59am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

Jeez, I meant The Little Mermaid, not Beauty and the Beast (thanks Chrome). Les Poissons is great.
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William B
Sun, Dec 8, 2019, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

I just saw the news about René as well. A wonderful performer, whose work in Altman movies, Beauty and the Beast, Frasier, etc. I enjoyed. His A-game, terrific work as Odo, having the most expansive, complex and demanding arc of the series (possibly of the franchise?), playing a character who was a shapeshifter, grump, cynic, romantic, pillar of integrity, near-fascist, traitor, collaborator, freedom fighter, prodigal son, hermit, friend, lover, and self-sacrificial redeemer of his fallen god people, and keeping these disparate elements balanced within a believable whole, could never have worked without this man's dedication, talent, and soul. RIP.
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William B
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

And in particular, Uxbridge was not planning on using *any* "force," even the threat of force. I think his pacifism was so strong that even depowering them directly would seem to violate his extreme, inflexible code -- only deception and illusion were allowed. Threatening them would be right out. The problem is that Uxbridge didn't really anticipate he would fail, and so didn't consider any intermediate options (threatening the Husnock, un-weaponizing them, destroying the particular attacking ship) between extreme pacifism with some deception and overt genocide. If he had known that Rishon would die and how he'd react, of course he would have taken more steps, but he didn't.
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William B
Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

I hope I'm not being a busybody, but I think Booming meant those "more debate, silly!" "will this madness never end" with emoticons comments in a tongue in cheek, "It's fun to talk about this" kind of way, OTDP, which is to say I think it's not meant to be aggressive or insulting. Not that you have to agree with Booming's arguments or conclusions, of course.
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William B
Mon, Dec 2, 2019, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Retrospect

I'll add that TNG's Violations also was possibly inspired by these "false memory" cases. There the "therapist" (evil memory retrieval person) plants false traumatic memories (and retrieves real ones?) for, apparently, sadistic pleasure. The Doctor is well meaning in this episode but I suspect Jason is correct that this episode is inspired by cases of that sort. I'll add that Seven is already vulnerable because of what the Borg did to her (and her parents, for taking a seven year old into Borg space), but it is not possible to bring the Borg to justice, whereas it seems possible to bring Kovin. I think at core the episode is not saying "people don't get victimized," so much as that there are sometimes places where memory gets hazy, and the (correct) desire to see justice done can cloud judgment, especially when the possible victim is already a victim of a major trauma which the justice system is completely unable to deal with. I don't know that it's successful, partly because the plot takes some cheats, though I think Ryan and Picardo are excellent and much of the character material works.
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William B
Sun, Dec 1, 2019, 2:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

@Jon R.,

I agree to a point, but three things.

1. I do think the episode presents the main choices as annihilation of the Borg or not annihilating them. It's a dramatic conceit that these are the choices, but I think the episode is clear that those are mostly the choices.

2. They do suggest that Hugh might bring the concept of individuality back to the Borg, which is addressing the possibility of offering help to the "kidnapped slaves" therein.

3. Trek seems at times to suggest all Borg are forcibly assimilated from other cultures, but Q Who laid out that there are Borg birthing chambers, so there are some Borg, at least, who are not from other species but are "only Borg." Hugh might be one of those. They need help too, but it might be that there is no species for them to return to, but will have to construct a more individualistic society from the ground up.

I think the episode is great, but definitely it presents some simplified arguments, to scale for a single episode about a species which looms over the series but only intermittently appears.
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William B
Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi (do you mind OTDP?),

Out of curiosity, what chat subjects did you uncover for Crusher/Ogawa and Crusher/Troi besides the romantic conversations? It's not that I'm doubting you, I just can't recall that many such conversations. The only thing that comes to mind is the brief discussion about Ogawa's promotion in Lower Decks, and even there in an episode mostly about career discussions, most of the Crusher/Ogawa conversations were about Crusher's concern about whether Ogawa and her boyfriend were going to make it work. (Credit where credit is due, though, that episode has the excellent Sito material which is completely unrelated to any romantic elements.)

I think that people are underrating the breadth of the material for Crusher a little. Emphasis on "a little," because I do think there are definitely limitations. The "care work" is partly because of the way in which Crusher's medical work sometimes plays out, though off the top of my head it's mainly Transfigurations which has her medical/caretaking/romantic selves all uncomfortably smooshed together, and that's just one episode. But she's a doctor and single mother who is also interested in dance (as Peter mentioned), cybernetics, community theatre, non-medical sciences (metaphasic shielding), command, organizing conferences, and debating philosophy and ethics with Jean-Luc. I do think that McFadden has a smaller range compared to, well, Muldaur comes to mind (though I think McFadden has a likable presence and good chemistry with Stewart) and Crusher doesn't have much of an arc, but there was some effort made to make her a well-rounded person.
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William B
Tue, Nov 26, 2019, 7:43am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Warhead

@Proteus, I'm not sure how useful it is to translate Jammer's star ratings directly into (American-style?) percentages. First off, academic percentages aren't entirely standard - - in Canada, for instance, 50 is generally a D (well, D-), a marginal pass, and 75 is a B. Mostly though Jammer is going on his own system which isn't really meant to translate to academic percentages. My (educated?) guess is that it's mostly following movie star ratings, especially from Roger Ebert. So 2 stars is really not a *failure*, though it's definitely not a success. Certainly you do appear to line this episode more than Jammer, but his 2 star rating should be taken according to how his scale works.

OTOH, it is probably true that the movie critic style 4-star scale is a bit limiting. If a show is good or even tolerable then generally the 2-4 part of the range will get used a lot more than 0-2. A scale like the one SFDebris or Luke uses where 5 is taken to be a kind of Trek (or series) average maybe makes better use of the whole scale. I'm still pretty partial to the movie criticism 4-star scale, though largely because I'm used to it. And with half stars there's a decent amount of gradation.
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William B
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

@Top Hat, I don't think it was ever super popular, but no I don't recall it being mentioned as a Worst Episode. I think it partly benefits from starting season 2. The first episode featuring Guinan and Ten-Forward (and Pulaski, for those of us fond of her) and Geordi in Engineering can't be all bad.
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William B
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

I wonder how much Worf was aware of Jadzia's interest on some level and decided to ignore it. Worf was aware of the possibility of something with Troi but never really followed up, and then lost his connection to Klingons. I think probably the notion of dating a non Klingon was sort of bearable in late TNG because he felt better about his Klingon-ness, but in S4 of ds9 was too focused on his tragic condition to really let himself admit that he could have a full life ostracized from other Klingons. This episode does link Worf's desire to woo Grilka to his insecurity about being a pariah; it appears that being able to successfully woo her through Quark is enough to get him to realize he has the skills to be a Real Klingon, in different circumstances, and thus allay his concerns enough to make him willing to consider what's right in front of him.

Notably, Dax *is* respected by Klingons, so I wonder if on some level Worf feared that any relationship would just end up hurting her, that his pariah status would somehow rub off on her. I guess mostly he needed a confidence shot.
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William B
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

I think additionally it's worth noting that even if it wasn't always the writers' preference, there are big advantages to the model wherein not every significant event in a character's life has to be followed up on. I love texts that are careful to follow through on major events and it would have been great to see more of that on TNG, but it can also be freeing to be able to have stories which would be difficult to follow up on "realistically." SPOILERS but The Inner Light is followed up on to a degree, yes, but not commensurate with the way Picard's life could have been changed, maybe...BUT the thing is, if they had to significantly change the character and do years of follow up to a significant one-off, the consequence would be that they would simply not do some of these significant one offs. I'm not really a fan of this episode and I'm not sure the benefit within the ep outweighs the cost of minimal follow up (or perhaps none, but I think Springy is right that there are probably some indirect or implicit references), but I think there are cases where the show gets big mileage out of doing one off, anthology-esque stories that also rely on our knowledge of the crew's character, and that affect the characters' long term trajectory only discreetly (if at all).
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William B
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 9:49am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Mudd's Women

I am confused. Is there any indication that *Spock, in universe*, was deliberately making any comparison between the crystals and the women? I thought that Spock was genuinely just literally talking about the crystals. Unless I'm mistaken, any subtext (problematic or not) is on the part of the writers, drawing thematic parallels between scenes, rather than the character of Spock himself being conscious of this metaphor.
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William B
Thu, Nov 7, 2019, 11:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Tears of the Prophets

I have problems with this episode, but Sisko dejectedly heading to Earth isn't one of them. While it's not exactly the bravest move, I think the idea here is that Sisko simply cannot face the Bajorans right now, in the absence of the Prophets and their "guidance" (instructions), and the Bajorans' apparent expectations that he'll be able to tell them what to do, particularly since he feels responsible for their absence, compounded with the loss of his best friend to his arch-enemy (which he also feels responsible for). Based on how dependent the Bajorans are on the Prophets for their religious meaning, it's not clear what a Bajoran monastery would look like now that the orbs have all gone dark etc., and it wouldn't exactly be a soothing place for a Sisko who wants an escape.
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William B
Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

I was thinking a bit about one moment Elliott brought up, which is when Worf says that he's not some weak human afraid to face death. One thing to consider is that in context:

O'BRIEN: I'm not some bloodthirsty Klingon looking for an excuse to murder my friend.
SISKO: That's enough.
WORF: No. You're just another weak human afraid to face death.

One thing that's interesting is that while I don't think it's in character for Worf to start on this anti-human stuff, it *is* in character for Miles to reach for this kind of racism (or species essentialism, if you prefer), particularly in stress. Miles likes Worf and considers him a friend, and I can't really remember him having bad things to say about Klingons generally, but of course he's struggled with Cardassians in the past, and we know in, e.g., Hippocratic Oath he was far less optimistic about the possibility of the Jem'Hadar getting freed of the White (and thus the Dominion) than Julian. And of course the Federation is "at war" with the Klingons (or whatever). I think it's a knee-jerk reaction consistent with the way Miles locks down and tries to simplify things to cope.

So on that note, I think we can read Worf's reply less as being about Worf being racist against humans and more as his being retaliatory: he matches Miles' species criticism in kind, repaying Miles' insult. This *kind of* works, but I still don't quite buy it. I think Worf refusing to just sit by and take Miles' insult is in character. I think him snapping back at him is in character. But I guess I don't think that Worf, raised by humans, would go for the human insult in this way. If it were on some issue like humans' approach to sex and commitment, or something, then, sure -- it's not like there aren't significant worldview differences. But Worf was rescued and raised by brave humans; he knew Yar who survived hell and then died in the line of duty; he watched Picard and Riker step into the Klingon world with gusto; he fought against the Borg invasion with the Enterprise crew; he grappled with Marla Astor's death under his command; he commanded the Defiant in battle. Worf lives and rlies on humans in a ay Miles doesn't live and rely on Klingons.

Elliott's going in chronological order, so I'm jumping ahead a bit, but in Star Trek: First Contact, Worf's famously dramatic riposte to Picard's stress-induced lashing out at him was "If you were any other man I would KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND." It's absurd and melodramatic, but what works about it is that it doesn't generalize away from Picard's insult to his entire species; Worf both acknowledges what Picard means to him and how inappropriate Picard's statement is. I think Worf snapping back at Miles would be perfectly in character; I think though that it would work better if Worf still made it more about Miles' insult to him (and his species) rather than playing Miles' species-comparison game. I think if Worf had personalized it and said "The difference between us is that I am not too weak and afraid to face death," it'd be perfectly fine. The species-essentialism of it is what seems smaller and pettier than Worf at least should be.
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William B
Wed, Oct 30, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

I think Kennedy will also be remembered for his assassination, at least for a time - - not that this has any bearing on whether he was a good president or person. I think the Cuban Missile Crisis is also one of the most famous instances of brinksmanship in the Cold War and so that will also stick to his name.
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