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William B
Mon, Nov 19, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

"I actually think the scene in "Author, Author," where holo- Janeway executes a crewman in sickbay so Doc can treat two other "more important" crew members, is a reference to what happens in this ep."

I hadn't thought of that, but that's great. If so, though, it might not have been fully "conscious" on the Doc's part (quotes because -- do conscious/subconscious etc. apply to the Doc as a hologram?), because he also says something to her in that ep like, "Last I checked, you haven't executed any of my patients," in order to point out that the holonovel was not entirely based on the "real people" in Doc's life, and I didn't get the impression that he was being sarcastic or disingenuous. So I think that he was not deliberately making this point...though perhaps he was making that point, though he wasn't fully aware of it.

I think the coolest interpretation might be something like...consciously, the Doctor was drawing on his experiences from Critical Care, in that hospital system, to show what kind of medical ethics nightmares the "player" in the holonovel might encounter. But some part of him was also drawing on his buried horror at Janeway's decision "Tuvix," and that's why it both "felt" real for the Doctor to write a Janeway-analogue this way, while he was also overtly, and I think sincerely, claiming to Janeway that it's not about her. Which I think is a lot of how that holonovel plays -- the Doc was both saying things he believes to be true about the crew, and getting out some of his pent-up frustrations from when he was much more powerless, but at the same time in denial to himself about how much it's actually about them.
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William B
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

@Springy, good to see you starting DS9. Hope you enjoy it!

A lot of people find that the first season really dry. I recommend that if the show is not working for you early on, you at least watch to Duet, the second-last ep of s1 (possibly skipping ahead if need be), which is a good place to see what DS9 is capable of and is at or near the top of a lot of people's best episodes lists.
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William B
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

Also, between this episode and Buffy, there are lots of funny genre TV lines about Cleveland.
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William B
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

@Iceman, I agree on your last point. I think though that in the series in general, Odo and Quark are both meant to have good points on their cynical view of human(oid) nature -- just that they both have very blinkered views. Odo seems to sort of grow out of his angry biases, and Quark...maybe is on his way to it, but resists it every step of the way.
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William B
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 11:59am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

I think some of the meat of this episode (which is mostly meant to be -- and is -- funny) is to have a fun look at what c. late 1940's/mostly 1950's SF was doing -- the '47 date is specifically because of Roswell, but the influences are mostly from the SF a little ways after Roswell -- and to identify two strands, how SF of the time was sometimes flying saucer invasion paranoia works and sometimes hopeful optimistic starry-eyed. Both strands often look one-note and silly today, just as both the sets of '47 characters get in for some ribbing, but ultimately the optimistic SF sort of "wins out" in the episode, which I think is also a way of saying that the optimistic SF is more directly the precursor to Star Trek, which maybe also says something positive about the human race.

Quark himself is more morally grey than either the paranoid general or the starry-eyed dreamers make him out to be -- he's neither a malicious conqueror nor an injured saint -- and the existence of Quark as an alien in 1990's SF sort of shows how our ability to think about "the Other" -- as neither demon nor angel, but someone like us -- has evolved. Since there's all the paranoia about the Soviets here, it's worth remembering that the paranoia/optimism were also elements of how people viewed the human enemy, when they were thinking about aliens, and so Quark's being a kind of ethically neutral, flawed but sort of okay guy is a sort of 1990's view of "our enemies," or at least of what the average person of some faraway land is probably like.

Or maybe, Odo, Quark, Rom and Nog are all people who are maybe equally "intrinsically" good-but-flawed, but Quark/Odo and Rom/Nog ideologically align more closely with the paranoid general and starry-eyed humans (to a degree), which leads to their behaviour being more or less helpful or spiteful, foolish or wary, depending. Odo and Quark basically have cynical view of human(oid) nature (Odo is judgmental of it and Quark basically thinks it's a good thing) and Rom and Nog have a bit of a sunnier view of it, and this view of theirs, more so than any "intrinsic" differences, accounts for how they behave differently. It's mostly the dreamers and optimists who save the day in this episode, but it's also sort remembering that Odo's suspicion of Quark was also helpful (and Quark letting his guard down enough to trust his cousin is part of what got them into this mess).
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William B
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Starship Down

That also makes me think about how much effort and care is put into the Odo/Quark relationship. Some SPOILERS: At the beginning of the series, Odo thinks of himself as -- and is often seen as -- a kind of Ultimate Arbitrator of Justice. A bit harsh, perhaps, but unimpeachable, whereas Quark rejects the idea of service or the law or whatever. But the show does, to a great extent, show Quark -- at his early-series state -- as actually more admirable than Odo, as he really is at the series' start. They do that by contrasting how they actually behaved in the occupation, with hints in Crossover and some more explicit parallels in Far Beyond the Stars: Odo did do a lot of good, but he was deeply entrenched in his own concept of justice which was actually order, and was so convinced of his innate moral superiority that he never considered that he had baser motivations. Because Quark is so id-driven in terms of who he is and what he sells -- food, alcohol, excitement, the possibility of gain and sex -- Odo could really look down on him as what's wrong with humanoids. I mean, he doesn't eat or drink or have sex, and Quark's commodification of those seem to be really awful vices. But eventually we see the Founders, and see Odo in them, and -- yeah. Odo was a proto-fascist, at times a Puritan, who was unwilling to extend sympathy to people who were suffering. It actually takes Odo's identity being pretty dramatically and even viciously reconstructed, and for him to fail really dramatically and for people to see his failures, for him to genuinely embrace caring about other humanoids and a real, deeper kind of justice, and then to be able to bring that back to the Founders. And his acceptance of Quark is huge in that -- a recognition of his personal debt to him, that he is willing to embrace his own Quark, so to speak. Odo at the end of the series isn't exactly arrived, but he is much closer to being a Kirk or Picard (or a Spock, who is maybe the closer comparison, especially with Spock ending up on Romulus trying to bring the best of Vulcan to them) than at the beginning of the series. The Quark/Odo arc sort of shows in practice how one has to pass through Quark to a degree to get to something better.

Emphasis, by the way, on "to a degree." Quark's dedication to greed arguably goes beyond an honesty about what he wants and into a pathology. Quark resists being dragged to higher moral considerations rather too much. But I also agree that he makes a good "first step" type of character, and I think his flaws are more about his frequent resistance to the siren call to something higher than for having these baser desires at all.
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William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Starship Down

@Peter, that makes sense to me. Quark's strength is that he's honest about his "worse" traits, and his weakness is that for all his fire in pursuing his interests, he tends to lack an interest in nurturing some of his best qualities (his generosity, bravery) and at times to actively disdain it as useless or counterproductive to his firmly entrenched Ferengi Code.

I reread what I wrote about this earlier, and I compared Quark's treatise on the value of gambling to Kirk's "Risk is our business" speech, and I think there is something kind of TOS in the way Quark seems to marshal his thrill-of-the-deal self to do an amazingly brave but necessary thing in trying to defuse the bomb. By casting it in terms of personal glory and gain and other id-driven elements he's able to overcome the also natural terror, in a way that a rational argument about the necessity of doing it might be less likely to work for him (and many others).
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William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Starship Down

Actually, maybe this is worth dwelling on a bit more. One thing Quark does often is break down how someone else's high ideals are often just self-interest or worse in fancy dress -- it works very well in The House of Quark with Klingon honour, arguably less well in The Jem'Hadar with hew-mons -- and here he takes on the idea of a nobler version capitalism. There is no nobler version, it turns out; anyone pretending that they're a capitalist with better morals than Quark are BS-ing. Quark usually remains sympathetic because he is pretty upfront about who he is, and also has all kinds of nobler impulses which he frequently doesn't recognize or downplays. DS9 seems to have respect for Quark's pursuit of his self-interest as preferable to outright hypocrisy like Kozak in The House of Quark, and so doesn't eliminate a self-starting business ethic entirely, but maybe in this one it actually shows that Quark really is the best you can hope for in anyone whose ultimate goal is profit, even if they dress themselves up better. This is maybe the only time the Quark-exposes-hypocrisy thing gets turned onto another capitalist -- I mean, I guess maybe it happens in the Ferengi eps, but those are so confused for the most part. (The Nagus the episode has Quark bewildered throughout and he mostly gets schooled in his own unpreparedness for the full-on cutthroat corporate world -- Zek comes out of the episode, if not morally admirable, certainly much smarter than anyone else.) I guess if Quark is going to be used to take down or question various other worldviews (human morality, Klingon honour, Prophet large-scale insight, Vulcan logic, Odo's justice thing, Cardassian/Dominion obsession with domination) I guess eventually actually turning it to "respectable businessman" is a natural move.
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William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Starship Down

"The Quark plot benefits from being pretty amusing, thanks to the actors' delivery. What the message is supposed to be is anyone's guess. I guess since Hammock gets the better of Quark in the end, we should conclude that gambling is a vicious cycle of loss and heartbreak. Which it is."

It's possible there is no message, but I think you're on the right track with your Ayn Rand vs. Adam Smith thing -- Quark throws some Objectivist personal greed/whatever shade on Hammock who seems to buy into a kind of classically self-organizing exchange of goods and services through honest exchange of information, and Quark eventually finds out that's BS and he's also a greedy bastard. I guess the point is maybe that shady small-time businessmen and "upstanding" businessmen are both crooks, so upstanding businessmen shouldn't look down on small-time schemers. (Neither has any intention of not being crooked.) It's weird because this story would make more sense in other contexts where the social status of self-described honest businessmen is considerably higher than that of petty crooks, but even in DS9 which is much less critical of capitalism than TNG there is not this big "honest businessman" contingent that needs to be taken down, so there's not much reason to get invested in Quark proving that he's no worse than this other businessman who is not crooked. Still, at least the performances help sell it.
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William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Starship Down

"The “best” plot is probably the Dax/Bashir bit. There's not much to it, but the idea that Bashir has grown as evidenced by Jadzia's comfortable friendship with the reformed lecher works for me. "

Yeah, it's sort of an in-universe acknowledgment of character development/course correction. I don't really think it's "necessary" for the audience, but it is helpful that the characters are in a good place. It's a little too tell-not-show but whatever, it's mostly doing a bit of light threading on a character story that's largely working.

SPOILER

I think some of the purpose of this being here is maybe some deck-clearing for an eventual Worf/Jadzia pairing -- to have Bashir openly let go of Jadzia as a romantic prospect, not just to himself (Distant Voices) but to her avoids having to sit through any kind of rivalry story or even the potential of it. And, I dunno, it doesn't seem that necessary to me -- I think that the naturalness of their dynamic in Rejoined says a lot more than this dialogue does -- but it's probably good to know that the characters are on the same page as the audience about Bashir's feelings for Jadzia.
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William B
Fri, Nov 9, 2018, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Rejoined

@Elliott, I might rewatch this one soon. I really loved it back in the day, and then in my rewatch a few years ago I found it underwhelming.

I think some of my hesitation last time through is that I kinda sorta think that the Trill-joining thing plays out as an aristocracy in other episodes (Invasive Procedures, Equilibrium) and so the taboo against reassociation seems partly like a stopgap against total "interbred" empires, and so while it's still bad to strip individuals of their rights, the argument against reassociation seems really strong in comparison to the specious arguments against homosexuality. I also think that the irony that Jadzia is forging her own path by repeating Torias' is a bit insufficiently developed. That said, the performances are good, Susanna Thompson is stunning in the role and the portrayal of organically arising, genuine love being stifled by customs whose purposes are vague if they exist at all is lovely. And the episode does have the meta kick to it that The Outcast fails at.

I should add, I wrote back in the day that I don't see the taboo being that strong when there is obviously going to be a black market for symbionts. Thinking about it though, given that my Trill theory is that a lot of joining is about social status within Trill's symbiocratic hierarchy, of course there will be significantly lower gains when banned, like being Napoleon on Elba (or Khan Singh on Ceti Alpha V). I think realistically, it's easy to imagine that Dax and Khan would be able to find new hosts, but would live on the outskirts of Trill society forever as a result, even if the symbiont's lifespan would not necessarily *actually* be cut short.

Actually -- and I don't criticize the episode not going into this, because this is getting wildly speculative and Not The Episode's Point -- I think Equilibrium is also helpful in seeing the difference between Dax and Khan's reactions. Dax *knows* that the Symbiosis Commission's party line is bullshit, that there are many more potential hosts, that the Commission basically lies to the populace in order to maintain power. So her willingness to defy the taboo is partly related to a knowledge that the whole social institution in place in Trill society regarding joining ethics is corrupt. Khan doesn't necessarily know that. Now, in practice, Khan decides not to go for it not because she's a True Believer but because she is not enough of a firebrand to accept the huge social cost, but I could imagine the story going in this direction in an interesting way. (Again, not a criticism of the episode, which is already packed.) I could imagine some real world analogues to it, where (say) there is a closeted gay couple who belong to (or are forced to belong to) a religious organization with an anti-gay ideology, and one of the two has already had a disillusionment with the organization and thus is more willing to openly defy them, whereas the other has more or less accepted the organization up to this point and so it's a bigger intellectual leap for them to jump to open defiance.
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William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Definitely, based on the content, The Outcast is more about gender identity than sexuality (who Soren is is more important than who she wants to sleep with, though the two get intertwined). I was more saying that Chrome's point that authorial intent, based on what the writers said in interviews, was more clearly about homosexuality in The Outcast than with Chimera, even if the episodes end up playing differently in terms of their actual content. The Outcast arguably works better as a trans allegory than as a gay allegory, anyway.
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William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome, yeah, that's fair -- the creators are much more forthright about The Outcast, whereas Chimera possibly wasn't intended as being about sexuality (and if it was, they were cagey about it).
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William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 2:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Elliott, I think that one element you are maybe understating in this ep is how much Miles' love for Julian (which, yes, the episode goes out of its way to #nohomo about) influences his decision. I think if it were Dax or something who was on Julian's course, Miles would have respected their choice because he has more respect for them as an officer, but also because he doesn't feel the same protective love for them. On some level, Miles doesn't want Julian to get hurt by his own idealism, and is somewhat unable to see Julian as a wholly independent being because of it. I think that's part of what's tragic about the situation, is that Miles loves Julian for reasons very close to reasons for which he doesn't respect him.

DS9 very often does these stories where the real key turns out to be less philosophical and more personal, which sometimes bothers me and other times doesn't. This is one when it largely doesn't bother me, but YMMV.
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William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

I don't want to get into the conflict that seems to be brewing, but I think in terms of the content, I agree with Elliott and Iceman are right that Chimera can be (does not necessarily have to be) read as being about being gay. The Link has been strongly associated with sex and the way in which Odo reacts with embarrassment at Laas' offering to link with him on the Promenade seems much more like someone being embarrassed about a bit too much overt intimacy rather than someone being embarrassed at a reminder of some cultural/racial symbol. That doesn't preclude the race interpretation at all. Chimera can be about Odo's belonging to different marginalized groups, and Laas has a kind of (X-Men line) Magneto-style distaste for the "majority" without Magneto's desire to fight for broader liberation (or "liberation" depending on how it works).

I definitely read Chimera as being about race back in the day, but I read it as being more about sexuality last time I watched it a couple years ago.
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William B
Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 6:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Non Sequitur

"Harry Kim is seen sleeping with the sunlight on his face (doesn't harry sleep blind-folded?)"

HARRY: I like it. It reminds me of when I was in my mother's womb.
LIBBY: That is the strangest thing I have ever heard and if you do not take it off immediately I am leaving.
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William B
Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

I agree with Elliott that it would have been interesting and worthwhile to see Ben take a look at whether there's anything he can do to prevent Jake from going down the same path of obsession in this lifetime. To be clear, this isn't the same as saying Old Jake needed to send "a message" back, because in a sense Ben *is* his message.

That said -- I don't know, I'm not sure if it's clear what Ben should do. I don't think it takes the heart out of the story if there's no unambiguous action Ben can take to prevent what happens to Jake, besides not getting hit with that blast. Again, the problem is specifically about Ben being in limbo -- of Jake both knowing that Ben is out there, and also him being lost. Ben probably figures that this is not going to happen again.

Jake was also absolutely clear that when he felt sure that his father was permanently lost, he moved on with his life, got married, etc. Maybe there was something missing, and certainly his new life wasn't enough to stop obsessing when he saw his father again. But I think the implication of the story is that if his father would stop "visiting," Jake would be able to let him go.

I don't think this makes the episode strictly a tech plot, because it actually is incredibly painful to have a loved one who is somewhere between here and gone -- in a coma, for example, or gradually declining in health, or with serious mental health problems that prevent them from fully living and which one can do something about, but not enough, etc. I guess my take in that case is that Old Jake tragically was unable to deal with this situation, and so sacrificed himself to avoid it.

[SPOILERS

The irony, as I've said, is that it *does* end up happening that Ben neither lives nor dies outright, but is in a kind of limbo post-series. At least this limbo (being a Prophet) is a little different. This is sort of a problem I have with Ben in the finale, which is that Ben, having seen what became of Jake, should know better than to keep his loved ones hanging indefinitely. Not that he shouldn't be "honest" about the "maybe a year, maybe yesterday" thing, but I feel like he should have said something like, "I will be back, but you and Jake, and the new child, should also live your lives in the interim." I guess if he was really positive he'd be back in 1 year or less, then what he said was fine, but I got the impression there was much more uncertainty.]

It is interesting that Elliott and I, while having some overlap, are still kind of different in our ultimate problem with the episode. I sympathize but don't entirely agree about the problem of whether Jake really accomplishes anything. The Melanie thing doesn't seem to bother him much, whereas it is kind of my beef with the ep.
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William B
Fri, Nov 2, 2018, 11:33am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

You know, I don't mind if Old Jake is genuinely in the wrong, and has no way to even self-correct his younger self, exactly. I don't know that I agree with Chrome that there's an Aesop exactly...and yet, I sort of do, because I think that something about the episode does tend to give Jake credit for wisdom.

I'm going to stop here trying to evaluate where the episode lies on the "very good" to "perfect" spectrum and just think "out loud" (in writing) a bit....

So anyway, the thing is, Jake not only defies some of our views on what he "should" do in this situation, but also Ben's. Ben is very clear that he thinks Jake should move on with his life, and that he absolutely should not stand still. He doesn't *want* Jake to sacrifice himself, and tries to stop him. When Ben is sent back in time, it's true, Ben does dodge the blast (which no one has objected to, of course), but that doesn't mean he thinks Jake was *right*. He's partly respecting Old Jake's wishes, and partly Old Jake is dead anyway, so it's not as if there is any point in saving himself. The moral issues of altering the timeline don't really affect Ben either, because to some extent he was always stuck at that moment on the Defiant anyway. So once Old Jake is done sacrificing himself, Ben agrees to go along with his plan, but that isn't to say that Ben approves.

So again -- why does Jake defy not only the "natural" (children general get over their parents' death) inclination but also his father's explicit instructions?

It was actually @Chrome's suggestion (not mine) that on some level, Jake thought (or the episode implies) that the new timeline was "wrong" and that he was correcting it. And I think this idea has merit. Is it the case? I don't know. The thing is, the episode is very clear that while people mourn Ben, eventually people move on. This is part of Jake's isolation -- that initially everyone shares his grief, but eventually he is the only griever left. War between the Klingons and the Federation heats up, but it eventually cools off and peace starts to open up again, including the possibility of accessing the wormhole -- which seems to me to be part of the story, too. It's as if Ben's death leads to all sorts of bad things, but that those things don't last forever, because no matter how important one man is, the whole universe generally doesn't revolve around him, *EXCEPT* possibly to some individuals. This is I think a mirror of what it means to be the sole remaining griever; initially you are not alone, and the world mourns with you, and seems to be broken, but then gradually lives right themselves and adjust. Life moves on.

So I think that the episode suggests, to me, that no one besides Jake would really see Ben's death as being so wrong that it needs correcting, by the time Jake actually erases him, and that this is actually important to the emotional resonance (for me!) of the story. That doesn't necessarily mean that the idea that Ben's death was so "wrong" that it needed to be corrected is thrown out entirely, though. It may be that we're in a Yesterday's Enterprise-type situation, where there was a significant damage done by some "mistake" in the timeline (the Enterprise-C's disappearance into the future) that everyone is unaware of, and that because they are trapped in this reality they can't see it, and it takes a mystic like Guinan to be able to see what's missing. This is possible, and may be part of the subtext of Jake's mission. Everyone else eventually "abandons" Sisko, from Jake's perspective, and when they do, they become unable to see the damage that has been wrought on their lives by Ben's absence.

I think this read is interesting and kind of works with the larger-scale material. I mean, things are getting better, but they still aren't great, in the galaxy as a whole. But I still sort of think that it's not really what's going on. I think Jake's prioritizing his father really is about Jake and Ben, not about the galaxy, and I think that the Alpha Quadrant's gradually righting itself is legit -- that it's not a Yesterday's Enterprise dystopia of something that was not "meant" to happen, but a universe which ultimately can heal, in a way that Jake personally doesn't.

---

But anyway, the other question is: is Jake really doing something good for his father? He is giving his father another chance at life, but what Ben explicitly wants is for Jake's life to continue. Ben doesn't even spend his few precious moments with Jake asking about Bajor, or the Dominion or the Klingons, or Kassidy or Dax. That's not to say those aren't important to him, and of course it's Jake he's in front of, but the message that Ben keeps sending out when he sees Jake is: "Your life is what is important. I am happy to be able to see you. Don't worry about me." And I really, really don't think this is Ben just "being nice" or self-effacing. This episode contains IMO one of Brooks' very best performances in the series, and he really sells, to me, the deep love and intensity of a father trying to convince his son to live his life, even if that (superficially) negatively impacts the father, because the father's existence is enriched by his son's success. This is basically the same message Sisko gave at the outset of the story -- Jake should live his life rather than obsessing, whether it's about stories, or about Ben. I guess what I mean is, if Jake had a full, mature love for his father, he shouldn't prioritize his father's life over his own, because this would give his father misery. And while I think Jake is obsessive, I get the impression that we are meant to see Old Jake as wise, as having figured something out, in his final years.

So while Jake clearly loves Ben, I don't think he is *quite* doing this for Ben, because if he listens to Ben, he should know that it's not what Ben wants. So the idea that maybe Jake is recognizing Ben's importance to the galaxy is a way to resolve this here, where Ben is so important that it genuinely doesn't matter whether Ben wants Jake to live his life or not, because Ben's centrality to the fate of Bajor, the wormhole, the AQ etc. is more important than what Ben himself wants. I like this idea and I think Peter's observation of how this ties in with the meta of the show, and also with In the Cards and the like, is right-on. But -- I don't really think it's what I see in this episode, ultimately. I don't read this as being Jake's motivation by the end of the story, even if I think it could plausibly have been part of his motivation in earlier years as the political situation gradually went downhill.

I think, then, this: Jake doesn't consciously sacrifice his whole life for his father. It's only clear in retrospect that this is what he's doing, that he's failed to understand his father's advice, until it's "too late." So I think maybe, based on his advice to Melanie and the steps he has taken to live his own life, that he understands by this point. So why sacrifice himself now? The thing that I think makes the most sense is that he wants to give his younger self another chance -- a chance to live, not necessarily with Sisko, but without the gnawing uncertainty that the particular manner of Sisko's "death" brought to him. Not only that, but it's also a gift to Ben, though Ben maybe doesn't realize it, that Old Jake is finding a way to fix Young Jake's life, to prevent Young Jake from having to undergo the ordeal that Old Jake has done.

As Elliott sort of suggests, he doesn't communicate this (or anything else) to Sisko that would be able to make SIsko definitely able to make Jake's life better, this time around, besides the mere fact of his not having become a plasma wormhole quantum ghost. Maybe, though, that's enough -- I mean, maybe it really is not that likely that Ben would become a plasma wormhole quantum ghost inadvertently haunting his son for years, and maybe preventing that is sufficient to make Jake's life better.
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William B
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Juggernaut

@Springy (not sure if you'll see this -- whether you're using the comment browser or not)

"notice too, not just the mention of toys and childhood, but the repeated comments about having children . . . another reference to growth, change, maturity"

I hadn't thought of that, but that's great.

"I do foster care. Guess what happens when a scared, angry, emotional kid finally, finally starts to feel safe and loved? It can be quite the roller coaster ride."

I hadn't thought about it. That's really interesting...and I think it makes a lot of sense that it can happen at any point in a person's life, if they've felt unsafe/unloved for a long time.

And that does seem to be B'Elanna's issues -- that the point isn't that Voyager is a bad place for B'Elanna and that's why some long-buried things are coming back, but because it's a good place. The trick is whether she can deal with all the garbage without alienating Tom and the others, and it's really hard for her (and requires a lot of patience from them).

I think a lot of the time, people who have it rough as kids deal by becoming precocious, successful, or by convincing themselves -- and others, even, if they are very good -- that they are doing all right, by burying, and they can maintain it for a long time, but it wears them down. It takes a lot of energy to keep the buried stuff buried. And eventually it is possible to start lashing out against certain people who deserve it least, because they are the ones who show some evidence of not hurting them, or stopping loving them...but it's also hard for the person to process it. Or people who are isolated for a long time, and seem to be able to deal with it, and then lash out when they do get close to other people...because they've also never really learned how to do that. B'Elanna makes me hopeful.
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

On Jake himself, another underrated part of his post-Sisko misery is that he really is very isolated. His mother's dead, his father's dead. He has lived on DS9 with mostly non-humans, which is already a relatively tiny community, and then that gets tanked. He restarts his life in New Zealand eventually, but by that point he's basically restarting with almost no one he's close to nearby, except for Nog -- and, okay, Joseph Sisko, presumably, but we don't really know the full story in this version of events IIRC. He does mange to build a new life, but it's probably very difficult to fully inhabit his new life when so many things in his life have been taken away. It's not that he has nothing to live for, or that others don't have it worse, but there may be some missing ingredient that would allow him to really fully move on, particularly after his father started returning.
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

@Iceman -- ah, gotcha.

@Peter, I agree-ish -- but I think it's still a huge buy to introduce Melanie as an audience surrogate and have her both take Jake's advice and also accept her doom. Possibly the strong first-person POV means that Melanie isn't even real, and that Jake is deluding himself in allowing himself even one night of passing something on to a world that doesn't exist. I can probably get behind that, it's just that I can't really make up my mind on how damaging Jake's choice is supposed to be, or whether or not his giving her advice on how to live her life that he's about to end is *meant* to be wildly hypocritical and even cruel in its thoughtlessness. I can't escape the feeling that the episode is unwilling to own how dark it is being, in the way Jake actually treats Melanie, who still receives him with such sweetness. Possibly I could still go to 4 stars if I could figure out how to resolve this question, but I get snagged on it. I guess the best way to look at it is that she's not really a character at all, but a tragic representation of the life he could have had, and what he would have liked to tell a younger version of himself, had he not committed his whole life to the course he took, but I also think we're meant to see his superficial kindness to her as a meaningful about who Jake is. I guess it still can be -- he's someone who can be kind and thoughtful, but his tragic flaw is that his obsession about his father has overwhelmed all other concerns, and maybe he doesn't even see it. Still....

OTOH, I agree very much about the character set-up, the storytelling medium stuff (which I also talked about -- Jake-as-storyteller), the first-person perspective, that it's very meaningful to Jake himself that Sisko died and how that broke him, etc. I can see the argument that what I'm focusing on is not important. I don't know, I don't *want* it to be important, but....
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

@Peter,

That's an interesting interpretation, and (spoiler) fits with my feeling, at times, that this episode basically accurately portrays what happens to Jake after What You Leave Behind (as hinted at by the ending shot with Kira) -- that his father being gone-but-not-gone, and outside of time, will eat away at him. I'm not wild about the lack of Ben/Jake scene after Ben is Prophet-ized, but it is an interesting structure if they basically use a reference to a previous episode to suggest a large-scale tragic story for one of the main (if underwritten) characters, which there is not really time for within the finale itself.
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

To be clear, I find this episode very moving. At one point it was one of my favourite episodes of the franchise. I've cooled on it (though I still like it a lot) for this very specific reason, and I disagree that it's about technobabble. However, that doesn't mean everyone else has to care about this issue.
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

@Iceman,

"Perhaps. But that would be devoting a significant chunk of the episode to time travel sci-fi jargon, which I think would have been a mistake. The reason "The Visitor" resonates for me and for many others is because it's a Trek episode where the core of the episode *isn't* technobabble. So while I agree they could have addressed it, it doesn't really matter that much in the long run to me, nor does it stop it from being one of the best Trek episodes ever produced."

I think I see what you mean, but my problem isn't that the episode's technical holes aren't sewn up, it's that to me the episode strongly gives the impression that he is erasing the entire existence of everyone around him, including Melanie whom he is sending off with advice to go live a life that she literally will not be able to follow for more than a few hours. I don't think this issue has much to do with technobabble at all. I don't think the episode earns the sweetness of him sending Melanie off to Live Life when he's basically about to kill her, in a sense, and I don't get the sense the episode is fully committed to this tragic irony.

I think it also depends on how you read the episode. For some, Melanie does continue her life in a split-off timeline, and the episode just doesn't spend the time making this clear, which can seem like a sort of technical flaw. I don't know that I think this is what is intended, and to me the story's tragedy is stronger if that future really does get erased, which necessarily means Melanie's toast. Maybe she'll be born anyway, but her life is going to be pretty significantly rewritten even if she is, and she certainly won't get to enjoy Jake's advice for very long. To me, that she is sent away wistful knowing she's about to be erased is not the result of a technical glitch, but part of the fabric of the episode, and I think it's a big characterization problem that she is *so* fine with it.
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William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

In case it's not obvious, I am talking about people I know, at least some of the time, in the "it's a child who ..." children-saving-parents section. However, I want to emphasize, I'm not really trying to either valorize or demonize it. It's not really healthy, but sometimes a child saving their lost parent is a good thing -- if it actually is possible, and they succeed. And even if they don't, it may be that it's worth the personal cost to keep trying, to a point. I don't know what it is that makes some people be unable to let go when others do, so I don't really know how to evaluate if Jake should be one of those people.

In a mythic sense, it's maybe definitely a good thing to be able to rescue one's parent. Anakin sure was lost -- arguably even dead -- when Luke decided in RotJ that he was going to save him. Everyone had written Jean-Luc Picard off as truly dead and gone when Will Riker decided that he was still in there somewhere in Locutus--and, importantly, would be able to *help*. The irony is that the very trait of Ben that Jake is most trying to rescue so that he can have it again is Ben's admonition to embrace life, which Jake is unable to do until he figures out how to rescue Ben.

(I'll add: if Jake made the call that Ben was genuinely good for the galaxy -- that maybe they could have averted this war with the Klingons, etc. -- then his decision may have been hubristic, but it wouldn't be the same kind of trouble. That is part of why Luke and Riker are not fully tragic figures in trying to rescue their lost fathers, because their lost fathers actually stand to help more than just them as individuals if they are recovered. But it's made very clear that Jake's concerns are personal, and even that conventional wisdom is that by later in Jake's life everything has found a new post-Ben Sisko balance.)
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