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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

I have reservations with this episode too, and I agree about the murkiness of what was done to Bashir. However, it does turn out to be a pretty good development for the character as we get "Statistical Probabilities" and the Section 31 material from it. Just goes to show retcons aren't always bad.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Message in a Bottle

I don't really understand Jammer's criticism about this episode when he says its missing its aspirations. It's a straight-forward comedy and it should be reviewed on those terms. I suppose there's some major (but really minor) series' plot-progression of Voyager contacting the AQ, but all the details about the impact of the contact don't need to be explained here.

Judging by comedy, I think this works really well. Voyager is often at it's best when it's not trying to be serious. Picardo is great, and the Romulan cast was well-performed (there's a TWoK veteran playing the Romulan Commander). Andy Dick is okay, but a bit grating for me. I do tend to agree with Jammer that we get one too many self-congratulatory doctor monologues from the pair.

The ship itself, the Prometheus - which likely is using a touched up Enterprise E set - is an incredibly beautiful backdrop. I liked the tri-body attack pattern which beckons memories of the saucer separation maneuver Riker attempted in "The Best of Both Worlds" -- only more effective. The prototype Starfleet ship oozes with a sense of a post-TNG Starfleet that we didn't get enough of in DS9. Speaking of DS9, the Dominion got named dropped, and they also had those weird commando-type Starfleet officers we see abundantly in "The Siege of AR-558".

There's probably a message here that AQ is not doing much better than the DQ. Like William B mentions there's something about The Doctor that symbolizes that being in the DQ really is making him - and more broadly - the Voyager crew better people. That speaks to the show's theme and I like that. I won't get into the plausibility of the Romulan scheme, although admittedly convoluted, it was just nice to see the Romulans who weren't around very much post-TNG.

I'll go 3.5 stars.
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Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 10:53am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

This was an engrossing two-parter and, if nothing else, it kept me watching. We get an interesting take on the quantum mechanics where the Krenim are basically trying to suspend time in the best possible outcome. The Captain Nemo similarities are apparent to most, but the temporal planning concept is also very similar to the Asimov novel "The End of Eternity" -- except that in the Asimov story the time engineers were successful.

Like Jammer, I thought that Kurtwood Smith was great and had an amazing range for a villain. Of course we're supposed to hate Annorax for the atrocities of genocide he commits, but he does make some solid arguments. Smith elevates this by really looking like he believes in his cause.

Unfortunately, this episode loses steam halfway through and I feel like many of the developments discussed get thrown out the window. For example, why cultivate the relationship between Chuckles and Annorax, if Chuckles is just going to turncoat 180 on the plan anyway. Jason R. above mentioned DS9 above in another context, but to expand on that I really think DS9 would've given us some conflict over whether the Krenim were right or not. Voyager's unfortunate black-and-white morality here really takes much of the gas out of this show.

I did like some of the scenes on Voyager, especially the part with Janeway shaking off her wounds and shrugging at the Doctor. The Seven-Tuvok material learning about the chain of command was pretty interesting too. However, the scenes on Voyager become tedious and unnecessary as the story shifts focus completely over to the time ship. We do get a shift to Voyager in the end only for Janeway to show off her action hero wit with such brilliant lines like "Time's up!". Well, at least Schwarzenegger would be proud.

According to Memory Alpha, Menosky was having real issues on concluding the episode. There's one excerpt I found illuminating (quoting Menosky): "We actually wrote this ending even though we didn't shoot it, where time is reset, the weapon is gone; we know what has happened to us through some complication I can't even remember. When we meet up with the next Krenim, Chakotay asks offhand, 'Have you got a colony called Kyana Prime?' And the guy says, 'Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about.' The idea was that time had in fact in some ways punished Annorax. Everything was reset except that. That was denied him, so it was this great, final, tragic moment. That was written and never shot because Rick said it was too complicated, We were tortured with concluding this and Rick said, 'Just plow Voyager into the weapon ship, and reset the timeline, and nobody remembers.' That was the simplest solution."

Still, I think this mostly works and it's pretty entertaining and even thought-provoking for brief moments. Unlike others, the whole reset thing didn't bother me, because well, I expect that from Voyager. I think I will go with 3 stars for a great concept and good acting with some notable blemishes in the writing department.
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Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 10:16am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Force of Nature

See, because the cat is uncontrollable just like the forces of space. Nope, even the analogy isn’t helping. :-)
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Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

RDM said that they goofed up with Ziyal in regards to the antagonism and made her outwardly nice her pursuit of Garak. I don't know if Garak is being antagonistic here, or just shifty as usual. He's got feelings for her, obviously, but you could interpret this many other ways than the intended romance scene, I suppose.
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Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

"Destiny" establishes that Cardassians flirt through spirited antagonism. Just one more wrinkle for you to consider. :-)
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Wed, Jan 15, 2020, 10:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I think Garak and Ziyal was sort of a natural coupling though. You can imagine this discussion in the writer's room...

WRITER 1: So Ziyal and Garak are the only Cardassians on the station. What are we going to do with that?
WRITER 2: Dukat and Garak hate eachother, right? It's only logical that Ziyal should hate him.
WRITER 3: No, let's make Ziyal unlike her father for the twist. You know, shades of gray...
BERMAN: Brilliant! Put my name on that somewhere!

But seriously, Ziyal is really just a character foil. She's Dukat's morality pet, Kira's little sister, and Garak's token girlfriend. We're not supposed to care about Ziyal as much as the characters she's developing.
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Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 8:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

I liked Peter's write-up, and I just wanted add some thoughts about Marritza's motives. My reading is that Marritza represents total war guilt such as the Germans and even the U.S. feel to some degree. To that end, Marritza doesn't care if the Cardassians expose him; he's making the ultimate sacrifice by symbolically showing that he, as a representative of the Cardassian occupation, deserves to answer to justice. What's great about this is that it plays into different shades of Cardassian patriotism. Those like Gul Dukat would call Marritza a traitor, but Marritza has a good argument that Cardassia answering for its crimes is the best way for it to move beyond its dark past. And in that sense, Marritza is the true patriot here.
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Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 11:37am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

@Fenn

True, and I don't think that's just you who feels that way. It's common in all Star Trek, but unfortunately you can tell that the DS9 team is mostly male writers because women are objects of affection, rather than lovers reciprocating deep feelings. One of the weaknesses of the Odo-Kira romance later is that we only get Odo's perspective, whereas maybe there was room to see why Kira would want to be with Odo *romantically* and what that level of intimacy meant to her.

That said, I'd say the Dax-Worf romance crackles most of the time, and the Ben-Cassidy one feels natural too. That might be thanks to the acting, or maybe that they spent more time fleshing out Dax and Cassidy's point-of-view.

Now with Arroya? The scenes don't bother me so much, but at the same time it's weird to have the scenes and not have them go anywhere. I mean, sure, maybe Garak is screwing with Odo, but given the Odo emphasis I would've liked more of a confirmation or a denial by Odo about whether he wants to pursue other love interests.
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Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 11:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

@Fenn

It turns out they meant that woman Odo met to be a recurring character:

“Chalan Aroya was originally written to be a recurring character. The producers wanted to give Odo a love interest while he was a Human and Aroya was supposed to return in the fifth season as that love interest. However, after watching this episode, the producers felt that she wasn't right for Odo, and so they abandoned the concept until the episode "A Simple Investigation", where the character of Arissa was introduced as a one-show love interest. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p.356)”

So your picking up on the fact that the woman didn’t work is actually a feeling the showrunners shared. I suppose that also answers my question of why she gets so much screen time in this episode.
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Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 5:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

I agree that Garak would be keeping track of all the details of people around him because of his former job. Intelligence gathering has been ingrained into him so much so that he probably does it impulsively.

I'm just thinking the episode goes through the trouble of bookending the teaser with the final act, so there's probably something real about romance that's meant to be said here. Perhaps maybe as a changeling Odo wasn't that interested in breaking his comfort zone and dating, but now that he's changed, the possibility of just dating for fun like a solid is on the table. And Garak sees that!

*Spoiler*

Of course, the writers aborted the solid Odo arc pretty quickly into season 5. The setup of Odo learning to date, drink, gamble, have fun etc. being a solid was probably one the writers thought could make some great stories. I don't know why exactly this got aborted, but maybe the writers didn't enjoy writing solid Odo stories in the end? Or maybe fans like Fenn expressed a lot of negative feedback about this new direction for Odo?
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Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Broken Link

I read the scene as more of a follow up to “The Die is Cast” where Odo and Garak build a comradery and Garak thinks he’s doing Odo a favor by finding him companionship. There may be an angle of duplicity to it such as “if I help out Odo he’s less likely to follow my shady activity on the station”. But I tend to think of Garak as more of a jerk with a heart of gold - perhaps because he doesn’t really like the heartless spy career that his dad lost himself to.
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Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 11:19am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: The Muse

Enjoying Fenn's comments too. Always nice to see some of these great Trek shows from another thoughtful angle.
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Sun, Jan 12, 2020, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Yeah, I mean “Hard Time” deconstructs the same as Sci-Fi concept introduced here. This one’s more interested in showing us the wonders of the past lost. Like imagine if you could experience a life during the Pax Romana and keep that life with you and still live your current life. That sounds like an amazing opportunity to me, and generally I think it’s a great concept.

“Hard Time” is more of a PTSD metaphor where we take the most stable guy on the show and have him no longer able to enjoy that stability. It’s a very different story in that it focuses more on day-to-day grief. We mainly see how a memory violation impacts Mile’s life on DS9 with less focus on the memory itself. Both are good in their own ways, really.
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Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Eh, there are women in this comment section who like this episode a lot so I’m a bit skeptical of rhetoric saying it “speaks only to men” any more than Sci-Fi itself speaks only to men. I think women also enjoy seeing emotionallyl vulnerable men and Stewart is good at expressing that.
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Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Perhaps it’s overhyped? I remember not liking it much when it first aired then being surprised seeing it appear on everyone’s top 5. Oddly, I like it much better now but it took me awhile to appreciate Kataan despite its plainness. I think it should be ranked highly though because it’s one of the few episodes that speaks of Picard’s loneliness as a captain. If you draw a narrative line through TNG leading up to Generations, the conflict of the Nexus makes more sense if Picard really does have a deep hidden desire to be a simple family man.
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Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

@Peter G

Yeah, what level of government intervention is allowed here is kind of sketchy to begin with, so I don't really want to go off into random hypotheticals because we simply don't know. I mean you could imagine that if the Klingon Empire got wind of this cover-up with Kurn's new identity it could create a huge stink and maybe even exasperate relations between Klingons and Starfleet further. So the simplest explanation to me, at least, is that everyone (on DS9) came to a private agreement that this was the best path for Kurn.

"I wonder why they wanted to remove Kurn from the roster of recurring characters at all. Why not keep him around to participate in later plotlines?"

That's a good question. I know Tony Todd branched out and was doing many other TV shows and films at the time so it was probably hard to secure him for many DS9 episodes.
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Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Sons of Mogh

Just speaking about the forced imprisonment for suicidal people, I don't think the state can really arrest you or if they can, they definitely can't imprison you indefinitely. I had a close childhood friend who unfortunately became a drug abuser and her family wanted her under custody of state to keep her away from drugs and/or from committing suicide. But in the end, the state can only really do so much because, at least in the U.S., we value people's opportunity to choose, even at the risk of making bad decisions.

I don't know if Bajor/The Federation have fewer civil liberties than the U.S., but it really does seem like it would be odd if they could essentially sentence Kurn to a new life without his consent even if they feared suicide.

So, I'd like to believe that they did tell Kurn off camera before he did the procedure what would happen and he agreed. I don't think robbing him of his rights was meant to be a conflict of the episode, at any rate.
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Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 9:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

There’s a moment in this episode where Picard is desperately trying to get back to his ship and he slowly sees the possibility of escape disappearing. I think that scene captures the aspect of Picard as a victim and we really are supposed to feel sorry for him, at first.

In Science Fiction, often the protagonist will become subject to a power so great, so beyond control, that the world as they knew is ripped away from them. In Arthur C. Clark’s 2001, for example, the ending has Bowman transcend time reverting him back into a foetus. The prospect of this experience sounds horrifying, but Bowman doesn’t die per se — he’s actually seeing Earth and space from a perspective he couldn’t dream possible. This evolution, in a way, is the explorer’s greatest wish fulfilled even if it wasn’t what they were expecting. I think that’s the point.

To speak more from a Trek angle, there’s a great episode of TOS, “Metamorphosis”, where Zefram Cochrane appears to be trapped by an entity who is keeping him eternally young but in perpetual undeath. The entity sees this is wrong, and grants Cochrane a partner that he can share the wonder of space with. It’s as if in the end, Cochrane discovered the soul of exploration instead of just walking blindly along the path.

“The Inner Light” is Picard’s Jupiter moment, it’s his metamorphosis. He’s no longer just a guy in a uniform investigating anomalies but he’s living out a whole life that he could not fathom when he began his career. I think Jason R is correct that this episode could have been given time to breathe, though the consolation prize comes in “Lessons” where we see this story’s events really do move Picard profoundly.
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Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 7:12am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Acquisition

Actually, there are a few DS9 episodes where the Ferengi value gold. "Little Green Men" comes to mind.

If there's a contradiction here, it came to be well before the Enterprise episode.

Moral of the story: Don't blame this episode for having the Ferengi value gold. Blame this episode for using them in the first place in a setting where they don't belong.

(though I also kinda agree with Mike, that continuity issues are not that important anyway in a comedy episode like this one)
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Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 3:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

@Fenn

Actually, I think that could've been a cool angle to push for Garak actively in the show to sort of explain his eccentricities. Maybe he even had to sleep with men as part of being a spy and he's so emotionally removed that he just does it matter-of-factly. I don't think the show ever gets there, but the pieces are in place.

Anyway, I think the show does a more explicit representation of bisexuality with Dax. We've got the lesbian episode along with whatever she's doing with Vanessa Williams on Risa. Trill society may naturally lend itself to pan-sexuality and the writers jumped at that chance.
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Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

No need to get hostile. I just don't readily accept actors at their word. Sorry if that offends you?
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Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

You can read a gay, feminist, anti-gay, right, left, whatever into a show. That's the neat thing about art. Did DS9 successfully pull it off in this episode? I'm not so sure, despite Elliott's arguments. Shows at this stage suffer from what we call "early-installation-weirdness" (Max Grodénchik's Rom is a great example) but Robinson shows it too with Garak. I think it's hard to figure out whether Robinson was just trying to figure out Garak or was actively trying to play him pansexual. I think he gets more warm fuzzies for touting how progressive he was instead of simply saying "I'm not really sure who Garak was at this point in the series".
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Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I'm not saying his lying, but his portrayal of the character didn't affect the product much. Frakes has gone on the record as saying "The Outcast" should've been about him and a male actor in a relationship. Good for him, but "The Outcast" we got doesn't bear Frakes' intentions out.
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Wed, Jan 8, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

I don’t agree with DLPB often, but I think he’s right here. All the actors coming forward with these super progressive ideas *after the fact* don’t really change the product we got. I can’t wait for JJ Abrams to make a documentary 20 years from now telling us how much better the sequel trilogy should’ve been for women.
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