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Anonymous Texan
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

@wolfstar,
Thanks for re-posting. I somehow missed this comment earlier; it's very thoughtful and on point. I hadn't thought about the psychological aspects of this episode enough, and your analysis of Alixus' character, her control of the colonists, and her dynamic with Sisko really highlight some strengths of the episode I hadn't considered.

I also hadn't noticed the subtle racial dynamic between Alixus, Sisko, and O'Brien. Interesting that Star Trek, which displays a post-racial society, can wordlessly address racial issues through powerful images.

@Peter G.,
Thank you for the kind response.

You make a very good point about the failings of Alixus' characterization. The writers went for the villain mold right off the bat, maybe to set up the interesting Sisko/Alixus dynamic for tension or just because of lazy writing. I did like her overall personality because I think it makes a small point on how extremist positions tend to find a voice in extreme, inflexible personalities. I think the qualities (of which @wolfstar has given a spot-on analysis) ought to have been revealed more slowly, as you suggested, or maybe needed to coexist with more virtuous qualities to complicate her character.

On further thought, I agree with you that my response is perhaps reading between the lines too much and giving the writers too much benefit of the doubt. There really is only implicit evidence throughout for my final conclusion - I would add the interesting bit about Starfleet uniforms, Alixus' desire to remove them, and how O'Brien only commits an act of violence when he is physically out of his uniform, perhaps a commentary on what the uniform embodies (again, probably reading between lines too much). I will also blatantly plagiarize @wolfstar's great comment and point out the ingenuity displayed in the Dax/Kira plot, in spite of the poor dialogue and silly plot, serving as an example of the daily challenges faced by Starfleet officers. And lastly the virtuous characters of Sisko and O'Brien, contrasted with the cowed colonists and psychotic cult leader, really speak to those characters' strengths, if only implicitly Starfleet's (and also to the failings of Alixus' so-called strong community).

Like you said, I think this episode needed more time to work through the problems it presented. It feels like it should have run somewhere between the length of a full episode and a two-parter. Ultimately, I think there was a lot of missed opportunity to flesh out issues of technology, power, cult psychology, violence, 'the uniform,' the good life, etc. Perhaps a high-concept idea was marred by the need for a 45-minute, tension-oriented format.
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Anonymous Texan
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Paradise

Surprised at how many people outright hate this episode. Definitely has flaws in execution, but I think the concept is very good.

The SETUP IS INANE. There's no reason why two senior staff members of DS9 have to do scouting missions like this one. Their procedures during the mission are nonsensical. Further, the Kira/Dax plot is facepalm-inducing: "We lost two senior staff members, so let's send another two galloping to their rescue!" And the 'roping' dialogue - urgh.

Regardless, I'm WILLING TO IGNORE these stupid plot points on the grounds that many Star Trek episodes, even the good ones, have questionable setups or finishes.

People here appear to have TWO LINES OF CRITICISM for this episode (with variations): (1) There's no way that the colonists would so easily get on board, and even if they did, there's absolutely no way they would all choose to stay at the end, and (2) Alixus' anti-technology stance is stupid, unconvincing, hypocritical, and yet another example of Star Trek inexplicably promoting primitivism.

WE SHOULD RETHINK (1). Keep in mind, these people are colonists - therefore they were prepared to be away from family (if they even had any), friends, career, etc. for an extended period of time. Yes, they may have embarked with the idea that they could go back at some point, but I think colonists probably self-select as generally unattached people (or even social outsiders, like the pilgrims). In fact, colonists, by their very nature, seek a sense of purpose, of building something of their own. What better demographic for Alixus to seduce to her extremist philosophy?

We also don't know what has happened for the past 10 years. There's no indication that Alixus immediately took over; the Starfleet engineer guy even admits he was 'the last conquest.' There may have been a power struggle, but we don't know because the episode is purposely giving us the perspective of Sisko and O'Brien. So, from the inside, the community had a history that perhaps justified how people thought in the present, but Sisko and O'Brien had the right sort of outside perspective to realize that everyone was a bit loony.

Many have pointed to Alixus' speeches as dull, repetitive, and unconvincing, but she won the argument long ago and the speeches are perhaps an almost RITUALISTIC REAFFIRMATION of belief for the community, a phenomenon easily observable in cults, mainstream religions (think of Christian litanies), or fanatical political movements. These speeches don't ring true only to the uninitiated (us!).

I agree that it's both UNLIKELY AND INTELLECTUALLY INSULTING that one man could 'speak for the community' at the end, and would have liked to have seen a more agonizing decision. I also agree that the acting, beyond Brooks and Meaney, was lackluster.

As for Alixus' philosophy (2), I find it HIGHLY BELIEVABLE. But just because it's fleshed out in a 3-D form does NOT automatically make the script an ENDORSEMENT for this philosophy, as some seem to be taking it.

One of the great things about DS9 was its DESIRE TO POKE HOLES in the TNG narrative and flesh out 24th century humans. TNG showed the best of humanity using its best technology to explore new worlds, all while moralizing about how humanity has 'evolved.' DS9, by contrast, thrust us to the margins of the Federation, politically UNSTABLE and morally AMBIGUOUS. We meet species who don't like the Federation; we see exploitation, corruption, militarism; and best of all, we see how these 'evolved' humans react to these pressures.

This episode is in that DS9 tradition. Here we have MARGINAL figures (colonists who perhaps were such outsiders that no one ever checked in with them) taken over by a marginal thinker. We see that the best and brightest of TNG are NOT representative of everyone. In fact, some question how 'evolved' humanity really is. Some feel RUDDERLESS AND SOFT in a society where EVERYTHING IS PROVIDED for them (Alixus!). Aren't these echoes of the very criticisms we hear of the Federation from Cardassians, Ferengi, Klingons, etc.? That they are 'soft,' morally 'arrogant,' and 'insidious.'

OF COURSE primitivism is utter fantasy - the writers point this out: people die needlessly, Alixus hypocritically uses technology, institutionalized violence has taken hold (the spears, the 'hot box'). The idea of this story is that TECHNOLOGY ALONE DOES NOT IMPROVE HUMANITY. Alixus is an EXTREMIST who sees technological society as IRREDEEMABLE.

THE POINT is that having better technology does not make us better humans - humans have to WORK to be virtuous, by PRACTICING MORALITY. This is the crux of the episode, and why focusing on Sisko and O'Brien's perspective is BRILLIANT. Alixus sees material comfort as preventing the sort of tests that improve humans. But the answer to Alixus is STARFLEET ITSELF, an organization that puts 'evolved' humans TO THE TEST every day, and has proven itself to be an overall MORAL INSTITUTION. Sisko and O'Brien, even with their technology, are just as tough and virtuous as the community members, because they pursue challenging careers that put their morals on the line (I hear echoes of 'Encounter at Farpoint').

Indeed, what more powerful demonstration can there be of true 'evolved' humanity than Sisko's non-violent protest of Alixus' brutal methods? Or O'Brien's real ingenuity in discovering the truth and outwitting the colonists? Whereas the colonists, with Alixus' guidance, hide the truth from themselves (I think this is part of why they hadn't discovered the field dampener) and make hollow paeans to 'ingenuity' and 'toughness,' those very qualities are what Sisko and O'Brien use to defeat Alixus.

Alixu is unlikable. Her moral equivocating is repugnant. But the fact that she exists, and that she could win people over to her side under the right circumstances, complicates the Federation for us. The people not in Starfleet, the people with boring desk jobs or uninspiring careers, at some level sense that they are NOT REACHING THEIR POTENTIAL in a world of MATERIAL ABUNDANCE (notice the Starfleet guy was the last one won over).

This internal sense of failure matters to our understanding of Star Trek, and it matters to us today. In the 21st century technology and material conditions in the US are better than ever, and yet many feel an INTANGIBLE SENSE OF DESPAIR and frustration (which we see every day in politics and online discussions). Think historically too, of UTOPIAN SOCIALISTS in the 1800s or MODERNISTS at the turn of the century. This dissatisfaction is a VERY REAL PHENOMENON. And still the episode has a positive message, implicitly rebutting Alixus with Starfleet itself, an organization that synthesizes technological progress with the improvement of humanity. The episode even acknowledges that some (the colonists) feel the need to find purpose elsewhere.

In short, thought-provoking and believable concept hampered by flaws in execution.

Sorry for the long comment. I actually haven't posted here before and usually roll my eyes at the longer comments, but now I understand why people post them.
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anonymouse
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

Well if the rumours are true Alarra is off the show soon but fortunately LaMarr had a lot of development in the last 2 episodes of season 1. Who is really lacking right now is our helmsman, sadly I think he will be a character who won't get a lot of development on a Seth Macfarlane show. He's there to hold up the scenery and be comic relief.
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Anonymouse
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Primal Urges

This show is definitely finding its legs. Theyve got a hook now with Bortus a very complex and compelling character with a hilariously deadpan sense of humour.
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anonymouse
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Ja'loja

Loved it. Glad the show is seizing on the blood in the water that is STD and bringing the show in a more relevant direction.
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Anonymous
Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Nobody likes to being preached to, not even back in the day. This episode just gets annoying with its "Racism is bad mkay?" message.
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Anonymous
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

I'm tired of you people judging everything on things like "Sexism", It's always sexism with you, SEXISM THIS, SEXISM THAT. Put a beautiful woman on the screen and then it's SEXISM SEXISM AND MORE SEXISM to you sallow "fans". Let a woman be beautiful, and a WOMAN, who can be both capable and beautiful.
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Anonymous
Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 4:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: Bread and Circuses

What's the problem with Kirk doing it with a slave who was more than willing to fulfill her duty? Are current Star Trek fans this weak and prudish?
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Anonymous
Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 1:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: The Omega Glory

I get that the shoehorned American angle can be a tad jarring and hard to believe. But man, isn't it funny to see all these people cry over an American show showing some patriotism. Seesh are you people soft. (Ps I'm not even american)
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Anonymous
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

This goes out to Okrad Del Diablo:
What the heck is wrong with you? Did this episode get your rocks off or what? Real creepy.
This goes out to William B:
So if a female is portrayed as the villain, that's misogyny? Get over yourself.
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anonymous
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

Thought I knew exactly what would happen as soon as that little girl spoke, but there were still some nice surprises in this one. Maybe my favorite episode tied with About A Girl. Although, for God's sake, I hope they stop focusing so much on Grayson/Mercer. I think any other character combo would be a more interesting focus for an episode at this point.
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anonymous
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 7:02am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: New Dimensions

Excellent episode overall, but I'm getting pretty tired of the baggage between Mercer and Grayson. It's way too prominent in too many episodes.
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Anonymous
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 7:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Everything Wrong With Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6x8B8sawTI
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Anonymous
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 6:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Hero Worship

If Jamahl Epsicokhan can somehow give Star Trek Into Darkness 4 stars and Star Wars The Force Awakens 5 and half stars... then he has lost all credibility in reviewing anything.
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Anonymous
Sat, Jun 25, 2016, 6:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Tsunkatse

What bugged me in this episode is that a Kradin is seen for a short period of time. I always assumed that the beastly appearance was as a result of the mental manipulation that Chakotay suffered, but apparently, this is what they look like. Shame.
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Anonymous
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: Exodus, Part 2

I think "frak" means fuck..
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anonymous
Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Aquiel

Honestly I didnt think this ep was as bad as all that. TNG has admitttedly had some stinkers but I didn't think this was one of them...at least not to be counted amongst the worst. Its main fault was casting the dog as the killer; but hey, you can't say it wasn't a LITTLE surprising! I liked the Laura-esque theme, and poor ol' Geordi shouldn't be ragged on for standing up for the woman he loves, even if it wasn't real love, blah blah blah. Give the guy a break. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the romantic episodes but it kept my interest.
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Anonymous
Tue, Nov 5, 2013, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: By Inferno's Light

It was a nice touch to make Garak claustrophobic. Considering how Andrew Robinson himself is actually claustrophobic which almost prevented him from playing Garak on DS9.
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Anonymous
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 9:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Hatchery

There is a flawed scene where Phlox and Trip confront Archer in the shuttle bay, demanding that Archer immediately report to sickbay for a full medical examination.

When Archer says he'll report to sickbay later, but not immediately, Phlox says that if Archer does not report immediately, Phlox will have to relieve him of duty per Starfleet regulations.

Archer threatens to confine Phlox and Trip to quarters, and Phlox and Trip leave the shuttle bay and begin planning the mutiny.

I see no reason why Phlox did not simply relieve Archer of duty as soon as Archer refused to comply, which would have solved everything and avoided the need for mutiny.

I would also have liked to see the Enterprise remove as much Xindi weapons and technology as possible from the wrecked Xindi ship, to be studied and possibly adapted for use on the Enterprise.
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Anonymous
Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 11:37am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: Home

Whoever started the rumor that season 4 is the best, most focused, etc., should go into marketing, or at least porn. The waves of raging unquestioning boners for what is just another season of "Star Trek: Wasted Potential" is mind boggling.
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Anonymous
Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: The Doomsday Machine

Man what a great episode. I grew up in the 90s watching Voyager and always heard uninformed people say how the TOS was full of camp and 1960s era goofiness. They were so wrong.
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Anonymous
Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Second Season Recap

>says "Arbitrary" overused
>only appears once in entire article

Barry Wogan you must be retarded
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anonymous
Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 12:58am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: Tuvix

This episode makes absolutely no sense. It's not even possible to suspend disbelief long enough to get caught up in. Besides, every time they use the transporter, they're killing the person being beamed. Why is it an issue now?
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Anonymous
Wed, Nov 12, 2008, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Accession

This episode is very unrealistic. If the Pope asked all practicing Catholics to renounce their jobs and give away all their wealth do you think it would happen? And seriously, Kira, the rebel who killed Cardassians, decides to become a potter in a span of 3 days? Sometimes the religious mumbo jumbo doesn't make sense. There is more to an organized religion, especially on Bajor, than some emissary.
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Anonymous
Mon, Nov 10, 2008, 1:19am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Paradise Lost

I really do wonder about the portrayals of Admirals in Starfleet. They are always shown to have limited judgment, be otherwise incompetent, or be very open to treason. Even the Federation President is depicted as a bumbling fool. Are we really to believe the highest authority of the entire Federation is that incompetent, and that every Admiral is less capable than a Captain in command (as it seems). Some realism is lacking.
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