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William B
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: 'Til Death Do Us Part

@John, believe me, I don't disagree with your general point but:

"She certainly was allowed to have whatever relationships and lovers she wanted."

Kira seems to have dated Bareil in part because an Orb vision in The Circle told her she and Bareil would become a thing, and she and Shakaar broke up because a different religious thing told them they weren't to be. Kira apparently *does* live her relationship life at least partly based on what the Prophets tell her.
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William B
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 10:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The House of Quark

@Elliott, quick q (just curious, not stirring up any more trouble): did you dock the ep for sexism? You said you hadn't, but I assumed that the only reason you went to 3 stars rather than 3.5 for the functionary rating was the sexism charge. The only other criticism I saw in that section was that you weren't sure if this episode's Quark was consistent with the s2 problem areas of the character.
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William B
Mon, Sep 17, 2018, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The House of Quark

@Peter, Elliott,

"In House of Quark I can't help but feel that what was intended to be progressive - a story about how women's careers are just as important as men's - is being regarded through revisionist goggles and being somehow seen as sexist. That's really crazy, when back in the 90's the model of "woman at home" was still standard, if waning due to socioeconomic realities about it taking two jobs to pay the bills. But stay-at-home-daddy wasn't even a thing, and although admittedly it would have also been super-progressive to have O'Brien take that course, the station really couldn't do without its Chief Engineer. But nevertheless the "flowers" scene, which you call sexist, basically states that women don't need to be placated, they need to be important, which means placing their careers on an equal level with those of men. If that's not progressive for the 90's I don't know what it."

I don't think I agree. MASH had episodes about how a woman's career is as important as a man's, and it was sort of the central premise of Mary Tyler Moore. Granted neither Margaret nor Mary had children. But I don't think that men and women's careers having equal weight was at all novel in pop culture in the 90's. I see your point that it wasn't the norm though.

Additionally, statistics show that there were 1.1 million stay at home fathers in the US 1989: https:// www.statista.com/statistics/319707/number-of-stay-at-home-dads-in-the-us/. Hardly the norm, but I don't think that constitutes "not even a thing."

I don't really see Elliott's objection to the flowers scene itself though.
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William B
Sun, Sep 16, 2018, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Equilibrium

To elaborate some more, Jadzia seemingly chose to become a host under the assumption that Dax didn't have any wildly unstable, murderous previous hosts, and gave up her individual life on that basis. I'm not saying she should dwell on the betrayal forever, but a bit more on what discovering the Symbiosis Commission lied about joining in general and her symbiont in particular, and that she made life-altering decisions as a result, means for her would be nice.
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William B
Sat, Sep 15, 2018, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Equilibrium

"Sisko continues to be a morally-rotten leader, having no compunctions about letting a planet-wide deception continue if it means getting what he wants for himself, namely the continued company of his friend. I can't even engage with whatever dark pragmatic logic the writers might be trying to imply this week, because they couldn't even be bothered to have the ethical debate on screen. It's just sort of dropped. In some ways, this is far worse than being subversive of the Trek ethos; this week we are just too lazy to be unethical."

I tend to agree, but in particular because Trill is, I believe, a Federation planet. In Sins of the Father or whatever, there was a greater Prime Directive indication of why not to expose a state secret. Now, there are reasons I could imagine for Sisko not to expose the Symbiosis Commission's corruption, but as you say there's no real discussion of it. It's also unclear how much power the Symbiosis Commission is supposed to have.

Also, even if Trill were not a Federation planet and/or the internal mechanisms of Trill were fully off limits non-Trill, there's still Jadzia. I get that "at death's door" isn't the easiest time to blow the whistle, but I feel like finding out about the Church's, I mean, Symbiosis Commission's massive deception and cover-up would put her in a position to consider doing something about it. Again, I can think of reasons not to, but I feel like the retconned massive lie is so big that it warrants greater attention, and could be addressed through Jadzia who is a particular victim of it.
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William B
Wed, Sep 12, 2018, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part I

FWIW, without getting into things too much, I want to add that actually this is actually *not* a retcon. From Emissary:

PICARD: Your job is to do everything short of violating the Prime Directive to make sure that they are. I have been made aware by Starfleet of your objections to this assignment. I would have thought that after three years spent at the Utopia Planitia yards, that you would be ready for a change.

It was established in the series premiere that Sisko worked at the shipyards for three years, which is the approximate time between BOBW and Emissary (actually, it's a little more like 2.5, but sure).

I think later episodes make clear that Sisko studied engineering. Presumably from the red uniform, Sisko had a command position at Utopia Planetia, but it was probably his engineering background that led him there to an extent, similar to Beverly Crusher being captain of a medical ship in All Good Things.

That Sisko was specifically working on a warship during that time is, of course, new information in this episode.
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Andrew Williams (AndrooUK)
Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

Hey, guys. I have the cure for cancer, obesity, heart disease, and dementia... but it was obtained by testing on humans without their consent, so I'm going to destroy that information to stick it to anyone who might try that kind of thing again.

I'm also going to retrospectively destroy all psychiatric advancements made by experimenting with unwilling patients.

There is no ethical solution, because both arguments are correct. It is wrong to conduct medical research on people without their informed consent, and it is wrong to not use medical research to help others.

The pragmatic solution is to use all research and discoveries, regardless of how that was obtained, because why punish others by withholding or destroying it? You can have disincentives for doing so again, but really, if the need is grave enough... we would remove all research safeguards in the real world.

If we had a deadly plague killing 50 % of our populations, we *would definitely* start unethical medical testing on willing or unwilling participants. We would not sit by and carry on with double blind studies and the decade long process to approve a medication.

Any comparisons with medical or scientific discovery/research and criminal evidence gained illegally is absurd. They are not comparable. Criminal evidence is not a new scientific/medical discovery or innovation, it is information that already existed.

This episode was tedious, and obviously rubbed a lot of people the wrong way... considering all the comments, which I don't feel like reading them all. The magic hologram, the butthurt crew, and the incredible decision of the EMH to keep him as a Cardassian to stick it to his evil xenophobic crewmates, instead of saving the trouble during a lifethreatening emergency.

The acting was good from the Cardy, but the Bajoran was a snooze. Technically, the episode was constructed well... but the story really falls flat, and ends inexplicably.

"Get over it, but I will delete him now you're better. Let's just hope you don't have a cockroach sucking on your veins next week."
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Andrew Williams (AndrooUK)
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Gift

A bit off topic, but I always found it very strange when Seven is trying to access the communications system.

We see the bridge at red alert knowing there's a problem and where, but then we cut to Tuvok and Kes in quarters, who are still going through the motions and not hearing the red alert.
Tuvok then contacts Security, so he's not concerned about keeping things quiet for Kes. It seems like these were supposed to be the other way round, and the editor/director didn't get the memo.

Neelix was the obvious choice, but I guess the producer liked him. That, or the writers must have thought he was more amazing than we did. Look at all his amazing skills he has, even though Kes is the one with a photographic memory. How old is that dude if he has done so much? A bit creepy hanging around the very young woman that is Kes. A 'barely legal' one year old... which raises even more questions.

NB: How long is a year on Ocampa? Maybe it is twenty Earth years. That's always a bit silly. The same when he estimates the age of the Kazon boy in that stupid episode as 13. How does he know the Kazon calendar? Tuvok's birthday should also fall on a different date every year, assuming that Starfleet works on the Earth Gregorian year.

That, or every habitable planet has exactly the same duration of its orbit.

Seven of Nine magically skips several episodes or even a whole series of progress, by suddenly being cool with freedom and silence, and even up for sex with Harry the L Fudger. (Garret Wang cannot pronounce the letter L, and one you hear it, you cannot unhear it. Very annoying, for an already annoying character.)
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William B
Sun, Sep 2, 2018, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Collaborator

Thinking about this some more, I wonder if we really are meant to *specifically* view the Opaka issues as a synecdoche of religious/Prophet issues. Opaka is so idolized by Bajorans that Bareil will sacrifice his own chances at the Kai, and give the office to a terrorist-supporting social-climber fundamentalist like Winn, to preserve her good name. And what Opaka did is not only the worst crime that Bajorans can be accused of by other Bajorans -- collaboration -- but she even gave up *her own son* to die, for a greater good. Opaka sacrificing her own son maps onto the Prophets allowing who seem to be their chosen people to suffer unimaginably during the Occupation, and the explanation/justification is perhaps the same: Opaka knew that something worse would have happened if she hadn't given her son up, and perhaps the Prophets worked the same way. It is even possible that Opaka literally consulted the one Orb that the Bajorans kept hidden away (that she shows to Sisko in Emissary) and that the Prophets actually told her what decision to make, which -- given the Yahweh/Jewishness elements that seem to be occasionally in play for the Bajorans and their relationship with the Prophets, might have some Abraham/Isaac connotations -- in which case the Opaka and Prophets stories are *really* intertwined.

My take, I guess, on Opaka herself, is not to judge her too harshly, personally. I think in war, and particularly when facing potential extermination, it's not so clear what the correct choices are to make. I don't doubt that Opaka made her decision unselfishly, and probably under the circumstances it was the less horrific option in her Sophie's Choice. What I found when I last wrote about the episode, and find now, is that I think it shouldn't be covered up, now that the Occupation is over. To know that *Opaka* made some calls that the Bajorans' knee-jerk reactions would see as evil could allow them to come to better grips with the moral complexity of the Occupation. Probably some collaborators were self-interested scumbags, but some may have had their reasons (like Opaka did), and an honest accounting is probably necessary for Bajor to actually heal. That keeping Opaka's secret leads Bajor to Winn rather than Bareil in the interim is a signal about what is damaging about this strategy.

Along similar lines, I guess I feel like the Bajorans will eventually have to recognize the ways in which the Prophets either failed them, or made decisions "for their own good" which Bajor will eventually have to grow up enough to grapple with. Maybe they simply are not capable of it at this stage of their development, which is an idea I find disturbing...but does not necessarily mean it is wrong. This episode seems to be pointing with a bigger reckoning of Bajorans with what the Occupation actually meant, and what their faith meant, and what the Prophets' highly selective interference in Bajorans' affairs meant, one which I don't think the series really gets to, partly because Bajoran affairs to some extent get shunted aside except through Kira's, Sisko's and to a lesser extent Winn's and Dukat's characters, and some episodes like Accession.
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William B
Sat, Sep 1, 2018, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Collaborator

@Elliott, Peter, Chrome:

I am not sure that the visions in this episode specifically require Wormhole Alien intervention. Not that they don't, but what future events are shown to Bareil that he himself couldn't predict or anticipate? What elements couldn't be part of a dream (or acid trip)?

You are right though that the episode seems to be tying Bareil's faith in with his decision to hide the truth. Overall, the need of the Bajorans to worship Opaka personally -- who not only didn't save her son, but actually helped kill him -- does seem to tie in with the Bajorans' inability to consider what the Prophets' non intervention (and, if the comparison with Opaka holds, perhaps even active engagement) in the Occupation means.

This could tie in with Peter's point in an interesting way. I guess my problem is that for the most part, I don't think DS9 really engages with the question of "what if the Prophets do bad things in the short term to prevent a worse outcome," ala Q or Leto Atreides. It addresses it to an extent, but mostly through Sisko and pointedly almost never through Bajorans. We see Picard react to Q with more than blind worship, even if he eventually accepts him. The cynical take on the worship Leto encourages is examined in God Emperor of Dune, and the case against his tyranny is mounted and examined. I might be forgetting something, but the Prophets' good intentions seem to me to go unexamined. Maybe that's the best you can do with beings so powerful as to basically be gods, but dramatically they remain too opaque for me, so that even Peter's point, which I think is probably what the writers were going for with the Prophets, doesn't quite come through for me, even putting aside my moral reaction. (I like God Emperor of Dune, FWIW, so I don't object to the trope of the prescient, benevolent tyrant as such.)
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William B
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 7:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@Chrome, I see your point and I think that your read is close to the episode's intent. And I do see that in the episode, so I don't think it's a total failure. I think for me, what gets in the way is that I don't see Geordi and Leah's behaviours as being equivalently out of bounds, and I also see the resolution to the ep as pushing a little bit far toward what Geordi wanted. There's sort of the implication that they *should* be friends, and Geordi overshot by wanting to be romantically involved and Leah undershot by wanting only a cold professional relationship, when really Leah's flaw would tend to suggest that once they get past it, they should have a comfortable working relationship -- but they don't *have* to be "friends" at the end, and she's not too cold if she'd rather not be friends. I think that's part of the problem with Geordi's "I offered you friendship" speech -- in addition to it being out of place when she's caught him with his apparent photonic love toy of her, the bottom line is that it's not appropriate to "offer friendship" to a colleague and then get mad at them when they turn it down, even if that friendship came with no romantic strings attached. This isn't to say Leah couldn't have handled things better when she first came onto the ship, and if I squint a little I can read the episode's end more generously as saying that their getting off on the wrong foot doesn't mean they *can't* be friends, if both of them want it, which I agree with. It's just hard given what's come earlier in the episode not to read it as saying not just that Leah does want the friendship, but that she *should* want it, and that's off-putting given other things in it.

All that said, I wouldn't say I hate the episode. I gave it 2 stars back in the day, and that's still about where I land, because I think it's sort of a bad episode (the one Peter and I were just describing) and a good episode (the one you're describing) in one.
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William B
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

Ugh, I forgot the blocking the exit. The thing is, by this point, Leah has no idea what is up with this guy, and in the 20th century she would have reason to fear for her safety. In the 24th, presumably everyone is enlightened generally, so maybe Leah isn't going to be *that* worried that Geordi is blocking the exit, but the script is *very* 20th century in its tone.

Anyway I concur with your general assessment. I think part of the problem is that the episode *also* is playing a "theorist vs engineer" thing where Geordi has insight into the engines on a starship that Leah lacks, and so she needs to learn from him, which might be okay if the ep weren't also doing these other notes simultaneously.
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William B
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@Peter, I would have to rewatch the episode to be sure, but your description really matches my memory of this episode, and I was not unaware of Maurice Hurley's contribution to the episode. The thing is, I think that it we *are* meant to see Geordi as *somewhat* wrong, but I think that the degree of wrongness is greater than was intended by Hurley.

I think also that, even if we can give Geordi a break, I feel like the episode should have made clearer that Leah had every right to be put off by how he acted, and especially that hologram. I think coming on to her in a Jeffries tube (a very enclosed space without much escape) or his quarters (his space, on his ship) is not really Geordi deliberately trying to make her uncomfortable so much as not really knowing how to proceed, but I think that it does put her in a pretty weird position, which she handles with aplomb and tries to assume the best of him, until she finds that his romantic interest in her follows from a hologram of her telling him he loves her. I feel like under these circumstances, there's no reason for her to think that Geordi's interest in that hologram was purely professional, and not to assume he used the holodeck for, well, what people tend to use the holosuite for. So for Geordi to do the I OFFERED YOU FRIENDSHIP speech, which reads as being intended to be at least somewhat justified, is sort of painful to watch. Now, Guinan does set him straight -- the look mentioned earlier, and also the way she tells him that he has his wrong VISOR on -- and the episode is partly about Geordi's flaws. But it still feels uncomfortable to me.

I think the other thing to say in Geordi's defense -- taking the episode as written -- is that I think he really doesn't think there's any power imbalance between him and Brahms (which there isn't, in terms of their overall professional standing, but there is to a degree in that Geordi is in his element on the ship with everyone he knows, and she's a stranger aboard, despite knowing about the engines), and he's so focused on his own feelings that he doesn't quite register that he's making her uncomfortable by acting strangely. These are things that he should be more sensitive to, and I think it is to some degree a general character flaw of Geordi's that he can be a little literal-minded or goal oriented and miss some of what is around him; many episodes focus not just on his romantic difficulties but his problems dealing with someone who has emotional problems that are outside a certain range of his experience (Barclay in Hollow Pursuits, Scotty in Relics).
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William B
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Fury

@Bubba, I think the thing is that Threshold is an easy episode to ignore, as terrible and crazy as it is. The series is basically unchanged if you pretend it didn't exist. Fury completely changes the final state of Kes' character and is the last time she appears. That said, it's probably mostly possible to ignore it too. It's probably not really any more extreme to ignore that Kes, Tuvok and Janeway knew for years she was going to attempt to murder the crew than that Janeway and Paris left their lizard babies on some random planet.
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Andrew Williams (AndrooUK)
Tue, Aug 21, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Cupid's Dagger

Lieutenant Alara Kitan runs to the shuttle bay... instead of calling. Way to go. She's earning her 'pay' there.

There's the other stupid transgender episode where she runs to Lieutenant Commander Bortus. Great rehash.

(Amazingly, we see her running in the next episode.)

Why does the Captain locate by scanning for and then walk to the Commander's quarters and then force entry instead of calling first? It was clearly to force the encounter instead of for a believable reason.

The fact that The Union doesn't have any information about 'space Cupid's arrow' was lame. I get it is a plot device, but it is a flimsy premise. Some 'space infection' would have been better.

If you ignore the flimsy premise, the episode had some good potential... but fell a little flat.
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William B
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

I think Worf is a great character (though it's a bit of a wash since he's on both TNG and DS9) and I think Riker is underrated. But yeah, DS9 perhaps has a better rounded cast of characters, as opposed to TNG's and especially TOS' heavy-hitters model. In terms of average episode quality, I think TOS, TNG and DS9 are similar, and DS9 probably has the edge because none of its seasons are as weak as TOS s3 or TNG s1. I tend to think DS9 is a successful show, and somewhat disagree with people who think it is leaps and bounds ahead of TNG, which I probably prefer overall, though it's hard for me to separate out my nostalgic love of TNG as my first Trek love. I also am not that satisfied with the way many of the arcs in DS9 resolve themselves, but am satisfied with many others. I'm going to stay out of the "ethos" question for this particular iteration of the debate.
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William B
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

"William B didn't care for DS9 much at all either"

I wouldn't go that far. I think that I tend to rate the average DS9 ep lower than most on the board, and I did focus on he negative a bit when writing about it, but I still like the show overall and love a lot aspects of it. I'd say I'm a fan, just with caveats.
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William B
Thu, Aug 16, 2018, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@Peter, I think that's somewhat what I meant. "Roddenberrian ideals" are most prominent, for better or worse, in TNG s1-2, because that's where Roddenberry had the most freedom to show all his views. "Federation ideals," of the sort we get more generally in TOS and TNG (and beyond) are more the product of multiple (authorial) views, including the tension of other writers, producers etc. figuring out how to apply Roddenberry in a way that is recognizable to them and to the audience, and the very fact that there had to be more compromises to get his way would lead to a more pluralistic series. I'm not saying that there are no proto-Dax characters in TOS, and O'Brien and his backstory literally comes from TNG. Bashir is extremely close to both Dax and O'Brien, which says to me that those characters are mostly the closest to other things that Roddenberry contributed to those series, but to some extent Bashir is "purer," for better and for worse.
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William B
Thu, Aug 16, 2018, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Wire

@Elliott, great take on one of my favorite episodes.
Though,

"Dax' cosmopolitan nature divorces her in many ways from the ethics of the Federation, she's quite open to the moral codes of Klingons and Ferengi; and O'Brien doesn't engage with lofty ideas"

This is sort of a recurring theme of your take versus DS9 fans'. While I think Bashir is the series' main avatar for Roddenberrian ideals, I think Dax' multiculturalism and O'Brien's simple decency (and possibly Sisko too, but, put a cap on that) are also consistent with Trek. The Federation is meant to be pluralistic in terms of individual cultural values to a greater degree than, e.g., the 1960's American establishment, and both TOS and TNG emphasize the fundamental value of people we disagree with. Similarly, O'Brien's everyday kindness is evocative of the enlightened picture of humanity where ordinary people are meant to be more selfless, non-egoistic, kind and compassionate than "the average" person today. I think that the show rather shows different aspects of the Federation and what those flaws might be: Dax is non-chauvinistic and seeks to understand others, which can slide into dangerous moral relativism; O'Brien is kind and decent, and does not always deal well with a universe which requires more specific ethics, or which is too complex and cruel for an unpretentious good man; Bashir is idealistic, but is sometimes blinded by his need to be a hero in order to match his ideals. If one sees each as a representative of a different aspect of Federation values, the characters' strengths (and, inverting, the flaws) generally, and Blood Oath, Whispers ("O'Brien" is, as in most of his eps, a decent person unprepared for the forces he's dealing with) are some of the shows that really start looking under the hood.
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William H
Thu, Aug 16, 2018, 7:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Bloodlines

I think Bok's plan makes more sense if you assume he initially thought Jason was Picard's son, and only resorted to fakery when he discovered he wasn't.
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William B
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Child's Play

In I, Borg it's also stated that the Borg very much wish to recover lost drones and ships. This makes sense for a number of reasons -- a kind of extreme esprit de corps, wanting to recover all the information from their lost drones, not wanting their tech to fall into the hands of imperfect beings who might gather against them, etc. I think that with Icheb in particular, the Borg want to recover him since he's "one of the collective." Why the Borg assimilated him in the first place is a different story though.
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William B
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Maquis, Part II

I also figured you didn't mean Madred was lying about his childhood -- though I addressed that because it's always possible. I also agree that there's no reason to believe that the Cardassian people are better off. I mostly just thought that Madred's argument was that the military saved him, and thus that the military power has significantly tightened during his lifetime, rather than that his experiences as a child were *because* of the fascist leadership. It's maybe not that worth further defending this point, because other episodes tend to back up your take on the history -- The Neverending Sacrifice suggests that Cardassia has been totalitarian for generations, for example. I just for whatever reason read CoC as implying that the military takeover was within Madred's lifetime.
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William B
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Maquis, Part II

Peter,

Re: Garak, I agree that Garak does not really believe in the military as such. I was mostly indicating that Garak believes in personal sacrifice for Cardassia in a way that others (Tain, Dukat, Damar at least before the last section of season seven) do not. In his case, I think that on some level he *wants* to believe in The State because that is what Tain wants, but what he really values is Cardassian art and beauty and culture. I guess what I meant about his exile is that Garak accepts his punishment, for a while, partly because Tain imposed it, and he can't entirely go against Tain. I think that Tain and the OO are intermingled in Garak's mind, and as brilliant as he is, I think he has a blind spot about exactly what he believes regarding Tain and the OO. I don't think Garak had any intention of getting back on top in a way that would hurt Tain, and because Tain is a sort of symbol of the State, that also meant on some emotional level accepting the State's view of him. I think things become clearer for Garak after he realizes in The Die is Cast that he couldn't really go back to being who Tain wants him to be, but before then I think he is still trying, on some level, to believe in the State stuff even if it's not what he really values. That he seemed to believe he could go back to being Tain's at the beginning of TDIC is why I think he is still somewhat self-deceived before this point, and not just deceiving others (e.g. Julian) about it -- though indeed, it's true that his reaction to the dissidents suggests that he's basically open to reforms.
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William B
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Maquis, Part II

@Peter,

"My assumption is that since Madred literally experienced the thing said to be been abolished that this is a 1984-esque comment. Meaning: the state says it's eliminated something like hunger that's actually been getting progressively worse, and the people cheer at the "gains" made. The clue here is that the "4 lights" scene was directly inspired by Orwell, so I recall, even to the point of trying to get him to betray his comrades to save himself. I don't take anything Madred says at face value; at least, not as being openly honest. Picard does get him to show weakness and regret and he justifies it by saying that without the military things would be even worse; that it's saved the day. Yeah, sure it has. That's why they "had" to occupy Bajor and strip it of resources. So if the torture scene mirrors that of 1984, Madred should immediately be understood as having zero credibility. His otherwise respectable or semi-civilized demeanor is just part of the interrogation method. We even see at the end that he's more interested in torturing Picard than he is in doing what's best for Cardassia, as he's basically disobeying orders by the very end,"

I get that, I do, and I recognize the 1984 parallels. Even in 1984 though, the poverty that existed before the Ingsoc take over was real and not imagined, though it's been exaggerated; Winston can't really determine whether those experiences were real or not, but we know about the Great Depression, the injustices Dickens wrote about, e.g. I got the impression that the parallels with 1984 extended into even this scene, i.e., that Madred was describing the horrors before the current regime, using his own life as an example -- that, as in 1984, the current regime has started within living memory, but that the people who can remember are slowly dying, and their memories can't be trusted. Further, I really thought that the argument Madred was selling to Picard was specifically that the military improved lives -- like, for example his.

To be clear, I never read Madred's "confession" that he was a poor, scrawny child on the street as being a slip-up. It was a tactical error, in that he didn't expect Picard to use it against him as readily as he did. But, rather, I think it is part of the same narrative he was pushing about his daughter not going hungry -- not a contradiction to it. The way I read it is that he was implicitly tying his story to Cardassia's, and saying: look! Like Cardassia, I was a hungry child. Then the military came. And now here I am -- like Cardassia, I am bound in armour, full of power, here to dominate you. And my child can eat. This wouldn't really work if Cardassia was *exactly* as militaristic as it is now, unless Madred were *also* trying to convince Picard of a lie about how long Cardassia has been ruled by a military dictatorship -- possible, but I think unlikely, because I don't think he expects Picard to be totally unaware of basic chronology, even at this stage. So I didn't read this as Madred letting slip that his narrative is contradictory, but bolstering his narrative. This is perhaps false, because of course Madred is also a Gul, so his daughter's not starving can just be a function of his own personal position in the hierarchy, rather than the hierarchy's existence.

More generally, I think that the reason Madred brought in the taspar egg and then shared that story about his youth was because he wanted to convince Picard, too, that the path to salvation is to accept Cardassian dominance. He definitely wants to dominate Picard -- and part of that domination is to make Picard "love Big Brother," or accept the *correctness* of the ideology Madred espouses. This is the same type of thing that animates Dukat too -- c.f. his statement in Sacrifice of Angels (I think; it was in that arc anyway) that a true victory is to make your opponent realize he was wrong to oppose you in the first place. So Madred wants power over Picard, and part of that power is making Picard believe that Madred is right about Cardassia. One of the tricks in 1984 is that O'Brien plays both good cop and bad cop at once to Winston, and Madred is attempting something similar; he torments Picard, and then he makes a point of creating a link between them, by essentially forcing Picard to live through a version of Madred's childhood, where Picard becomes the scrawny, broken being who needs to submit wholly to the Cardassian state in order to be saved, to be fed, and to be given meaning. He is counting on Federation values being -- like Quark suggests in The Siege of AR-558 -- only a matter of how full the person's belly is; he assumes that being forced to endure sufficient hardship will make Picard not only bend to his will, but also agree and see the rightness and righteousness of Madred's narrative of Cardassian military dominance wiping away want. It backfires because Picard is still, in this state, stronger than Madred is now, which is what makes him furious. And that's also how we know that Madred is telling the truth about his childhood, rather than using it as a tactic. (In The Most Toys, Fajo attempted a sob story about growing up poor in order to attempt to shame Data into submission, but this failed immediately because Data is completely immune to such tactics, and Fajo throws it off instantly, because he was neither particularly invested in this control scheme, nor was it a true story. Picard hits on something real about Madred.)

That said, yeah, it probably makes more sense that the military dictatorship has been going on for longer than a generation. In that case, I'd say that Madred's revealing that he grew up hungry was still not a *slip-up*, because I think he is still selling the same basic narrative -- his submission to the military is what saved him from starvation -- but it does show that there is something inconsistent in the narrative *about Cardassia* he is pitching.

Without going on too much more, I will add: Picard is a rare opportunity for Madred to talk to a brilliant man from another culture. Madred believes in the Cardassian militaristic ideology, but he surely knows that there are counterarguments to it, and he believes himself to be a civilized intellectual. Thus it is *really important* for Madred to be able to demonstrate that he can "prove" his philosophy is the correct one, to another intelligent man. That he uses force to do so is not even a contradiction, because his philosophy more or less comes down to the idea that force is all there is. If he is wrong -- if there is a man out there that can withstand torture -- it undermines his whole belief system, and, most importantly, it shows that Madred, who perhaps once had a conscience of some sort, did not *have* to become a sadistic torturer for his state, so that his belly be full. If he can break the great Picard, this proves to him that anyone can be broken, and thus that he is right to be on the team that believes in breaking one's enemies.

"Based on what Garak reveals in The Wire, and later what Tain mentions, it seems that Garak's failing had to do with sentiment. Of the various versions of his stories, the common element is going against Cardassian interests one way or another for reasons of compassion. Whether it was a matter of saving the ship of Bajorans, or his "friend" Elim, or whatever else, he saw something of necessity beyond following orders. He tells Tain eventually he never betrayed him...at least not in his heart. So he did do something, I think involving using his 'heart', and that it showed Tain that Garak was never going to be the cold, brutal controller that his father was. He had a conscience and it wasn't going to go away. I'm totally guessing at this point, but I would assume out of hurt pride Tain would rather have seen Garak gone than live near him and be imperfect in this way. Especially so after showing how gifted Garak was in carrying out orders, so see that Garak might not want to...that's the worst betrayal to someone like Tain. We don't know what the crime was and it doesn't matter, but I think where Garak is different from other Cardassians in power is that he, too, is willing to do things for his own reasons and not for the state, but in his case it's out of love rather than out of vain avarice."

I agree. What I meant in particular is that Garak's belief in the State superseding all is part of why he cannot really recover from his exile. When Dukat is on the outs, he licks his chops for a little while and then schemes to get back on top, probably at his own people's expense. When Garak is on the outs, he mostly blames himself, even as he *also* rails against the injustice in it, because he both believes in the ideology of the state's absolute authority, and also suspects in his heart that he made the right decision in "betraying" Tain/the state. Both Garak's conscience and the genuineness of devotion to the state seem to be very rare traits among the Cardassians in power.
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William B
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Invasive Procedures

@Iceman, yeah, I debated whether Chain of Command 2 or Tapestry could lay claim to being as good as FBTS or better, and I think it's a tough call with COC2. And for the most part your assessment matches with mine.
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