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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
Mon, Nov 11, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Rise

I was bored to death with this one. Tried my best not to look to my phone ALL the way.
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William
Sun, Nov 10, 2019, 5:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Darkling

That was the first time I read all of the comments section. And after umlauts, opera and Newton, all I have to say is: GOOD GOD GIRL GET A GRIP
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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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William B
Mon, Oct 28, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@Springy,

I really like this episode and I agree with your comments about it. A few more things I'd like to add:

Fajo's interest in Data is specifically because Data is an object -- but an extremely valuable object, *because* "it" is so close to a man. This is similar to Maddox. Maddox wasn't evil in the same way Fajo is, but I think in both cases we can understand how deeply the contradictions in how humanoids see Data: he is so valuable specifically because he is *almost* a person, but not quite. He wouldn't be so exceptional if he was a person; and he wouldn't be exceptional if he were much further from being a person. The Enterprise crew for the most part, and *especially* Geordi, actually sees Data as valuable *as* a person (we see Picard also quoting Hamlet, "He was a man, taken for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again."). The way Geordi finds him is because Data would not be sloppy -- which is because Geordi admires that quality in Data, and also because Geordi "knows" that Data doesn't have human flaws like the rest of us.

With Fajo, he definitely sees Data as special *not* because Data is merely an object -- Data embarrasses Fajo by playacting a pure object. He also does not see Data as special because he's a person, because Fajo has no interest in or respect for persons -- as we see the way he treats Varria. He values Data because of his rarity and uniqueness, yes -- he's one of a kind -- but also because Data is on this object/person borderline. And that's also how Fajo seeks to control him: he knows what Data's ethical programming means, and he knows that he can manipulate Data by using Data's valuing life.

Data's ability to break free from Fajo requires him to stop being an object entirely. The question though is whether that renders Data less unique and less valuable, in a way. If Data is just another flawed person, then does that actually make him lesser? Does that make him in a way more like Fajo? More broadly, the answer is no, because Data is not as selfish or sociopathic as Fajo, nor does he value sentient life as little as Fajo does. But he can be as cold and calculating as Fajo, as *emotionally* distant, and the thing that separates him from Fajo -- and Lore for that matter -- is his placing value on humanoid life. The act of deciding to kill Fajo is his discovering that his valuing of humanoid life is not absolute. This isn't a knock on Data. It takes incredible idealism, and naivete, to believe that it's possible to never make a choice to protect one life over another. And indeed we know that Data has killed before, as discussed in this episode, in the line of duty. But he *is* in a situation in which there is a (self-sacrificial) course of action open to Data in which all lives are spared -- he just complies with Fajo forever. What Fajo is counting on is that Data's valuing his life is great enough that Data will continue allowing others to die by Data's inaction, or Data will agree entirely to Fajo's terms. The choice to kill here wears away at one of the things that separates Data from Fajo.

With Fajo in the cage at the end, Data seems to be both lording it over Fajo and also re-establishing the previous version of events: "No, sir, it does not. I do not feel pleasure. I am only an android." Is that the truth or a lie? I don't think Data entirely knows what it means. That said, I believe that Data does not feel pleasure. I think he is attempting to...gloat, almost, to Fajo. But I also don't think he gets satisfaction out of it. There is a tinge of...almost despair to it. Data's statement that he is "only an android" seems to be in part a reaction to what it meant for Data to stop being an android. For most of the series, Data's quest to be more than an android is presented in positive terms -- that he can love, procreate, change. Here the possibility is raised that Data's growth might mean that he'll become worse, more like Fajo. Some part of Data recoils, obfuscates, lies, because he doesn't entirely want to be this kind of human(oid). It's appropriate that Data recoils from being too human and reasserts his android-ness, makes himself back into an object, the moment he becomes sufficiently close to a human(oid) so vile that he realizes that he does not value his life enough to preserve it.

I think the issue isn't just that Data learns to attempt to kill Fajo, I think it's that he actually realizes that he understands Fajo, at the end, and wants to be, or at least pretend to be, "just an android" again so he doesn't have to.
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

@Peter, Skeptical,

Interesting points about Tasha. I think either could be correct.

One thing that makes me tend to agree with Peter is that the big sacrifice of the episode is that Tasha doesn't exist in the other world. I wonder if we can interpret this as basically saying that this world's Tasha - - competent, icy, controlled, badass in a quiet way, heroic - - is someone who actually fits in better in the "war" world than in the peaceful version of the Enterprise. Obviously the literal reason she only exists in this one is because Armus didn't kill her, but maybe the symbolism in it is that this Tasha, who is genuinely admirable, is someone who is in some ways made for war, and cannot really exist in a peaceful world. I think this presents us with a pretty beautiful message about heroic soldiers, wherein Tasha willingly sacrifices herself for a world which not only she doesn't live in, but couldn't, but which is better for everyone else that she cares about. This maybe works if we take this episode as arguing (retroactively, of course) that s1 Tasha didn't quite come into focus partly because she wasn't actually in her element. And indeed the show didn't really need her. I'm not saying the show, at its post-s1 superior self, couldn't make good stories about a warrior adapting to relative safety (they do this type of thing with Worf, Ro, Kira, Torres sort of), but it might be that the best way for Tasha to shine is in this type of story, which maybe shows this is more the real Tasha (in a way).
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

@Springy, great catch on invidium!
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William B
Sat, Oct 26, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

The reveal that it was a person who was the root of the plot problem and not the tech also suggests that at the root of Reg's holodiction is interpersonal problems, not the holodeck tech itself. (More generally, it's generally not the chemical effects of the drug that are the root of the problem, but the usually-social problems that cause a person to take it in the first place.)
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William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 10:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Peter,

(spoilers)

I agree.

One thing I was thinking of adding is that while I agree with Elliott that Kilana's choice to hide the Founder's death from Sisko doesn't necessarily make sense in and of itself, it is consistent with the Founders' default assumption of solids' untrustworthiness. In fact, while I don't know if this was intended, I would believe that the Founders (and their Vorta as a result) would want to not only recover their dying Founder, but ideally even avoid revealing that one was dying in the first place. If we assume that the Founders were afraid of showing any vulnerability and were betting everything on recovering the Founder without the solids even finding out it was sick, out of fear that this sickness would be used against them (possibly down the line) then their actions also make sense. The Founders appear to continuously hide evidence of their vulnerabilities, even when hiding them appears to hurt them more than if they came forward with them.
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William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 9:02am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Luke, thanks! That makes sense that it would only be a backstory invented once they wanted to bring back the dead Weyoun.
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William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

(I forget, has it been established by this point in the series that the Vorta are cloned?)
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William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Elliott,

I'm largely in agreement. Especially, I get the nagging sense from this episode that the deaths should have been much more strongly a result of considered choices that Sisko (et al.) made. So either the question should be about whether it was worth it to do a survey mission in the GQ, OR there should have been more indication that the deaths were the result, even partly, of Sisko making strategic calls based on wanting the Ship/"not trusting each other"/etc. and it's maybe marginally true in Muniz' case that he could have gotten Muniz medical care earlier, but even then it's not brought out that strongly what he could have plausibly done.

The Worf material plays very weird IMO. The main way I could see it working is: last year Worf realized he couldn't murder his brother begging him to do so, and his disgust with himself gets spewed outward and projected onto "weak human[s]." I don't buy that explanation though.

I do think Kilana's earrings etc. were meant to be part of the pathetic seduction schtick she attempts, which is meant (in-story) to be a failure and misjudgment. I'm not positive how well it comes across, but I think it's an interesting idea to have the nonsexual Vorta clumsily attempt to use sexual come-ons for these sexually reproducing animals she marginally understands. I feel a little like this element gets lost in the shuffle of the episode, and I'm not sure how well it really fits in with the other themes, but I give it points for the attempt. I think this might be another way to look at Kilana's failure to see that Sisko would let the sick changeling go: she maybe sees the AQ, non-engineered humanoids as brain-stem-dominant marginally sapient animals who evolved to fuck and kill, and lets that prejudice (possibly fueled by disgust) overwhelm what she knows to be true of their values. Maybe. The series does a better job with Weyoun viewing other humanoids through a bemused-zookeeper lens (SPOILER) (culminating in his inability to recognize the signs of Damar's turn).

I'm not sure where I stand on the "genre" issue. I think the DS9 staff can do war episodes if they want, but it should be done well. I agree that it plays as banal in this episode.
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William
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 6:58am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: The Thaw

I rolled my eyes when I saw the design, thinking Dr. Who's Celestial Toymaker and DS9's Move Along Home, but was impressed by the ending.
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William B
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

The subject of the paintings is also a nude woman, but one in an ambiguous pose (IIRC), which speaks to a central concern of whether Manua was being a sex object for Riker or was attempting to entice him sexually. The two styles Data mentions before getting to Picard are geometric constructivism and surrealism/irrationality, suggesting scientific and delusional/emotional motifs, as the murder intrigue is related to both Apgar's work and to feelings related to his wife. Picard attempts to blend several different styles, as Springy/Peter note, which is what he attempts to do. I think within episode we are supposed to view Picard as being more successful as an investigator than as a painter at combining multiple perspectives into a coherent narrative to get at The Truth.
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William
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 7:27am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Prototype

I'm sure when activating an unknown alien device you'd at least put it in a containment force field?
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