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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Fun fact: this is the 24th episode in Discovery's run, and Skin Of Evil was the 23rd in TNG's run. I guess that makes Airiam this series's Tasha Yar.

I was reminded of DS9's Life Support too, where Bashir wrangles with the ethics of replacing parts of Bareil's brain with positronic implants.
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

This is Discovery's Q-Who - it was just stellar. Michelle Paradise came in and systematically attacked all of the show's problems head on while making every single character work (even in small scenes), delivering a compelling plot with superb pacing, and (in a first for this show) managing to convey information and deliver several "reveals" without any of them feeling like terribly-written info-dumps. Compare and contrast with the dreadfully unskilled exposition-laden dialog of last week - it's night and day.

Paradise structures the episode as a fully realized tragedy, managing to humanize Airiam and give her a compelling backstory despite the writing room's failure to do this in previous episodes. So by the end, we actually care. Spock's deconstruction of Burnham's character is superb - Paradise decides to tackle the issues with the character by having Spock (a beloved character the audience relates to) calmly but mercilessly call her out on the narcissistic way she makes everything about herself; over-responsibility as a dysfunctional and damaging coping mechanism. Paradise is smart enough to see that what the Discovery writers have until now sold as Michael's virtues are actually grave flaws, and it sets the stage for a potential retooling of the character going into S3. Even the small character scenes work - Detmer shines in this episode, Tilly is utilised really well, and the Barzan girl (even if we don't know much about her) likewise. There's a Lower Decks feel to the flashbacks of Owo, Detmer and Airiam playing kadis kot with Tilly, and the actresses all sell it and are enjoyable to spend time with - why have they been treated as glorified extras so far? There's a strong ensemble focus and every character gets their moment. For me, this was the first time in the entire series's run that Stamets's character actually worked as intended - just a couple of superbly-written scenes greatly inform his character, humanizing and reframing his snark while showing an underlying warmth.

4 stars. And great that Michelle will be co-showrunner on S3. I feel optimistic about this show for the first time in ages, especially given that Kurtzman will be more focused on developing the other spin-off shows, so Michelle will likely be the main showrunner for S3.
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Karl, I'll bite.

This thing with the "Control" AI – are they using ideas from this Trek novel? https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Control_(program)

(Apparently Control was mentioned in Point Of Light too, but I didn't notice.)
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Trent, chapeau.
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:49am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

The best, and saddest, thing about this episode was watching Wilson Cruz act rings around Anthony Rapp (whose portrayal of Stamets I've always found shallow and supercilious), and watching both Ethan Peck and Melissa George act rings around Sonequa Martin-Green. Great performances by guest stars and recurring characters are always welcome, and Cruz is excellent here, in the most he's had to do on the show so far. Likewise, Ethan Peck is considerably better than Zachary Quinto in the Spock role – he has just the right intonation and sensibility without overtly copying Nimoy's performance – and George is very effective as Vena. By contrast, SMG is just dreadful here; her exposition-laden dialog doesn't help, but the scenes on Talos really show her up – her performance is painfully flat and shallow with the usual wide-eyed overemoting.

It was better than last week. The main weakness (apart from Burnham) is all the Section 31 nonsense, which is pantomimish.

2.5 stars, and I echo Brian on his "check-box" comments.
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wolfstar
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 6:07am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

I'm going for future Tilly, based on a) the hips b) my fun pet theory that Discovery is copying Andromeda, and if Tilly = Trance then the Red Angel = Gold Trance from the future.
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wolfstar
Sat, Mar 2, 2019, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

You know, more and more when I watch this show (especially an episode like this one) I feel like I'm watching Andromeda – because it's much more fantasy than sci-fi, and because of the bad writing and general level of chaos and nonsense. Then it occurred to me:

Spore drive = slipstream (right down to its visual appearance, the fact it's made up of strings, and the fact it requires a sentient pilot)
Stamets = Harper (the snarky blond engineer whose entire personality is wisecracks)
Tilly = Trance (the sweet, ditzy comic relief character who keeps saving the day)
Ash = Tyr (the non-white character from a warrior culture who other crew are wary of... you're never sure whose side he'll be on)
Saru = Rev (the benign, noble alien from a predator/prey species who has chosen a different way of life)
Burnham = Hunt (the personality void at the center of it all)
STD Klingons = the Magog (monsters who eat people)
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 7:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

I have no idea what this was.
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wolfstar
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 6:17am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

I'm settling on 3 stars... at first it seemed disappointingly hoary and obvious, but it got better and better as it went on. The biggie is that none of the Kaylons seem to be networked to each other or aware of what's happening in another room. (Just one example: when Isaac rebels and kills two Kaylon, the other Kaylons on the bridge are totally unaware.) We've been told in the past they operate as a hive mind but there's no evidence of that here, which is a contrivance.

The battle was awesome, and the Krill were well-used, as were Yaphit, Ty and Gordon (his comic moments actually worked for me and helped freshen up the episode, which was veering into cliche at points). Gordon and Kelly's escape was all a bit too convenient, especially the quantum jump which seemed far too gung-ho. There's a lot of Kaylon-on-Kaylon dialog in the first half that feels inert and expository. There's also the 3D warfare issue, when 5 Kaylon ships break through the "line" and head for Earth, but in space it really doesn't work like that - why would there be a "line"? (Of course, Trek did this again and again too.)

The scene where Isaac rebels is totally predictable but nevertheless rousing, and the scene where the other Union ship intercepts the Orville is also completely predictable from the moment Ed mentions the captain's name and says he used to be a flight instructor etc.

There are still a lot questions surrounding Isaac - how much he knew, and what his motivation was in Part 1, where he seemed fully on board with the Kaylons' plans. Was he just reluctantly going along with it because he had no choice and because he wasn't in a position of power to do anything? His line of dialog at the end of this episode, that because of the Kaylons' actions he has no wish to return home, suggests so. Yet we're also given the impression that he essentially turns on a dime in this episode out of his desire to protect the "biologicals". And he must have known the Kaylons' intentions for the whole of S1 and 2 and kept them to himself.

Still really enjoyed it!
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wolfstar
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 7:14am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

Another thought occurred to me – what is Isaac is secretly working for a rebel faction (peaceful and pro-exploration/cooperation) within the Kaylon? He could just be going along with the attack so he can take it down from within and so his faction can take control of Kaylon society.
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

Describing TOS (which, to be honest, I'm not even that big a fan of, having grown up on 90s-era Trek) as "a show created by a homophobe produced in a deeply homophobic country" is single-issue reductio ad absurdum, and false on all counts.
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

"What would you call a show that willfully erased/ignored LGBT people and that didn't even bother to mention anything about that topic during it's entire run?"

I would call it a 1960s TV show. TOS did not "wilfully erase" gay people – it just wasn't something that was depicted on TV at the time. Social mores changed. You may as well argue that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales "wilfully erases" LGBT people or that Discovery "wilfully erases" asexual and intersex people. It's a facile non-argument. I am many more things other than gay, and I don't expect that every aspect of my identity be represented in the media I consume as some kind of narcissistic validation. Todd on Bojack Horseman is the first asexual regular character in any TV show, and that's great – but it doesn't mean that every TV show before it "wilfully erased" asexual people. It's a really reductive and inflammatory way to look at things.
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wolfstar
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

I don't think it's expedient to view shows from 50 years ago through a rigid contemporary lens. I agree, for sure, TOS is pretty sexist in a lot of ways that wouldn't fly today. It also put a black woman on the bridge in a speaking role, at a time when TV roles for black women were often restricted to stereotypical characters such as maids, and showed her as a highly valued professional and an equal member of the team. And TOS showcased and celebrated otherness and the accepting of differences in so many ways. A positive Russian character at the height of the Cold War and a positive Japanese character just 20 years after WWII, again both highly valued professionals and equal members of the team. It showed a hopeful future for humanity that people could dream of and work towards – a world where people of all creeds could come together as equals and work to better themselves and humanity.

Of course TOS didn't feature gay characters, because no shows did at the time. Calling it "anti-LGBT" though is both wrong and pernicious.
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wolfstar
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

My friend says "Calling it now: Bortus is gonna save the day by uploading the porn virus onto the Kaylon mainframe."
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wolfstar
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

I meant to say... so the Ba'ul don't eat the Kelpiens. What do they actually do with them then?

(Also makes it extra-weird that people ate Kelpiens in the MU.)
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wolfstar
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

Haven't reviewed this yet... I agree with Dobber. There are a lot of Discovery-typical inconsistencies and oversights, but on a basic storytelling level this is the most compelling and interesting episode the show has done so far. Or more precisely, the first 75% of it is Discovery's best episode to date and the final 25% is a rushed overblown mess. All in all though, this was for me what New Eden and Brother were for some other people. I enjoyed it.

This episode has in its favor that it's a standalone, but one centered around a character and situation that has been established in previous episodes. (Even if the Kelpiens and their backstory were reimagined for S2, contradicting what we were told in S1.) So we care because we care about Saru. And the script doesn't force events in the episode to revolve around Burnham, who's reduced to a helpful ancillary working alongside Tilly and Airiam. As Mertov noted, it's by the same writers as S1's "Into The Forest I Go", one of the best-written and paced and most coherent episodes of the series to date.

The biggest problem with the episode is that apart from Saru, we only meet 1 Kelpien character and 1 Ba'ul character. Thus the entire planetary-level plight of the two races and the struggle between them is reduced to three people (well, two people and a CG creation) in a room. The village scenes at the end of the episode where more Kelpiens are shown don't help much in this regard, as none have speaking roles and it's too little too late.

The episode kinda falls apart in the final quarter – the Ba'ul trying to kill Saru and his sister with weird drones (that don't look very effective), the all too convenient exposition-via-sphere of the planet's detailed history, the mass vahar'ai initiation (which Saru triggers using... some panel in the floor of the Ba'ul ship???) and the subsequent intervention of the red angel to prevent the Discovery's actions from causing the Ba'ul to murder the entire race. This is all just a mess. The fact that the Discovery's course of action would have led to the Kelpiens all being killed, were it not for the unplanned red angel ex machina, is very much not cool. The "red angel" itself is revealed to be a humanoid in a "mechanized suit"... I'm thinking Riker in his anbo-jitsu gear? :D

Then, as others have flagged up, you have the whole deal of why the Ba'ul are still on the planet and why they still care about controlling the Kelpiens given they're warp capable and so much more advanced than them. And the fact that apparently no Kelpien before Saru has ever just let the vahar'ai run its course and discovered nothing happens.

It was a big step in the right direction though. Both in S1 and in this season, the quality difference from episode to episode is largely determined by individual writers. For me, the episodes written by Lisa and by Erika/Bo are compelling, coherent, have good dialog and characterization, and feel like Star Trek (or at least good sci-fi). The episodes by the other writers, who are less experienced and (apart from Kirsten) less versed in Trek are considerably weaker, mainly on a dialog and plotting level. Lisa and Erika/Bo know how to write for television – the others are struggling.

I agree with the other comments about the show's distracting overproduction, like the spinning camera scene and the lights flickering during the Ba'ul transmission.

A high 3 stars.
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wolfstar
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

1) It was amazing.
2) I'm not sure Isaac after reactivation was Isaac.
3) I don't think it's a simulation.
4) I second Yanks's prediction that the Krill will get involved. They're no friends to the union but they understand the Kaylons pose a threat to them too. There is setup here (the Fishes episode etc.) It would be nice if the Moclans were involved too.
5) I think the resolution will be somewhat BOBW-ish in nature, involving Claire and the kids and Isaac's programming.
6) I agree with the criticisms re: Ty wandering off the ship onto the planet, disappearing down a convenient hatch and finding the bones (why wouldn't they have been vaporized)? And the fact the Union apparently let Isaac be a crew member despite them knowing nothing about his people.
7) This notwithstanding it's still a riveting landmark episode, the best the show has done. I loved it and keep thinking about it. And it's because of what William Wehrs writes: "We've spent multiple episodes getting to know the characters and their relationships, which makes all the emotions feel real in this episode." The stakes are real, it's earned, and we care – that's why this works. Props also on the score.
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wolfstar
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

Those are thoughtful comments, Jack. I enjoy the Moclans (as a gay guy) but I really see where you're coming from. Please don't feel guilt/shame.

For me, part of the issue is that certain aspects of the reality of gay male culture end up falling between the cracks – on one side you have religious conservatives (of various faiths) who have a problem with gay people full stop, and on the other you have a lot of well-meaning progressives who treat gay people like special magical unicorns that must be protected at all costs. Which makes it hard for gay people to honestly and openly discuss problems within the gay community. A lot of gay guys have had really unpleasant and traumatizing experiences within gay male culture – gay-on-gay bullying, the cult of hypermasculinity, body shaming, assault, abusive behaviors etc., not to mention drug abuse and promiscuity – and it's really hard for gay men to talk about these things, because not only does it get shut down within their own community, but well-meaning straight progressives don't want to listen either because they don't want to engage with any negative discussion of homosexuality, out of moral narcissism. I have a friend whose family was totally accepting and supportive of him when he came out, but he found himself marginalized and mocked by other gay men because of his appearance, body, dress sense – and most of all, not being "masculine" enough. Every piece of gay-related media he'd consumed as a teenager had told him that the exact opposite would happen – that his family would reject him but he'd be welcomed with open arms by the gay community. In reality it was the other way round.

There is a damaging cult of masculinity and misogyny among gay men, and while I don't think the Moclans are an intentional parallel of this in any way, I do welcome the depiction of a complex, three-dimensional, same-sex-attracted society that has its own distinct set of problems which aren't brushed under the carpet. Then there's obviously the issue of porn addiction and sex addiction as covered in Primal Urges, which affects straight and gay men but is a particular issue among gay men.
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wolfstar
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 7:42am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Seconded on the Section 31 point... my issue with the Section 31 changes is not that it's implausible S31 would change in nature, it's that a) these changes have only been made because it's cool and edgy, and b) because post-DS9 and Enterprise, Section 31 has essentially been reduced to a backdoor narrative device to allow the introduction of non-Trekkian elements into Star Trek.
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Tina used it first in her comment, I was just paraphrasing her :)
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 8:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Tina - The Apotheosis Of Mycelial Daftness should have been the episode title, haha :)
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

I loved this episode (I really like The Outcast too, which this has significant overlap with), and would put it in my top 3 alongside the other Moclan episodes About A Girl and Primal Urges. However, it has a lot more plot issues than either of those two. I'm really enjoying season 2 of The Orville, quite a lot more than season 1, but one thing I keep noticing is that I'm so won over by the show's sentimentality, family feel, character focus and (increasingly) use of music that the various plot issues and inconsistencies don't really bubble up in my mind until after I've finished watching.

Obviously, Lokar could have just requested asylum up front without going through the whole rigmarole of faking his own murder. He could also have just hidden himself before doing so, and it would have just been treated as an unexplained disappearance. Alternatively, he could have faked his death in an accident. Instead, he sets up a member of The Orville's crew as a murderer in a way that seems contrived and too convenient, and very much against his own interests. So there were too many twists in this episode – him faking his murder by Klyden seems a big reach, and whatever Klyden's antipathy towards him, I don't think he would have done that to Bortus – Bortus who was mature enough and who respected him enough to keep his sexual identity a secret. I'd almost rather the episode had gone through with it and had Klyden be the actual murderer.

It also doesn't make much sense for Lokar, when he's so close to escaping and requesting asylum, to return to Moclus and be imprisoned. The only reason this happens is so the episode can have its tragic ending, one that serves Talla rather than Lokar. Gay people escaping intolerant countries don't go back to be tried and imprisoned (or worse) on a whim.

All of that said, I love Talla and I thought this was another good episode for Bortus, even though his character isn't featured that prominently. The fundamental personality difference between him and Klyden is again highlighted – Klyden had no empathy towards Lokar and couldn't see past his own intolerance, whereas Bortus was the bigger man.

"it bothers me that the same-sex culture is shown as unnatural, wrong and generally screwed-up (things that gay people have traditionally been accused of). And so far, it’s the same-sex characters (and no other regular characters) who’ve been shown as sex addicts, attempted murderers, bigots, mutilators of babies, generally miserable in marriage, and practitioners of bizzare, barbaric cultural rituals. So, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about gay people? " – as a gay guy, I don't agree with this comment of Jack's at all. First, everyone on The Orville is screwed up. (When Alara was shown as unprofessional in Command Performance and Firestorm, did anyone write "so, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about women"? No, because Alara represents Alara, not women. Bortus and Klyden do not represent human gay men, they represent Bortus and Klyden and a distinct Moclan culture.) Second, it's demands like these that have led to so many gay characters in TV and film being sterile and sanitized. To be represented means to be fully represented, not only to be shown in positive roles – and gay or same-sex-attracted characters have the right to occupy just as wide a spectrum of characterizations as straight characters do. Gay characters can be the hero, the villain, the comic relief, whatever. Aside from which, the Moclans absoutely aren't directly analogous with human gay men, but an original sci-fi take on gender and sexuality, which is what makes them such a rich source of storytelling – they're far removed from human homosexuality in many ways. Trent said it above: "The Moclans aren't a 'gay culture'. They're a parody of an extremely patriarchal, conservative society. These guys are so macho, so sexist, so hate women, that they think only males are worthy of anything. Female desire, independence, and agency is completely suffocated. You get the sense that Moclans kill females, or gender/sex reassign them, because of their hyper masculine culture. Throw in their desert planet awash with oil refiners and arms manufacturers, and Moclan culture seems like an ultra patriarchal version of Saudi Arabia. Ed makes this explicit at the end: how long can we be allies with a nation which we deem bigoted, on the basis of arms/tech trade deals?"
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wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 7:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

I didn't get around to reviewing this episode... I'm hovering between 2.5 and 3 because despite the nonsensical plot, I found this the best directed, executed and paced episode of the season. David Barrett also directed Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, and based on that episode and this one I think he's Discovery's best director. He actually directs with a sense of style. As an actioner, this was executed on a level with Into The Forest I Go.

Given that she didn't create the plot for this episode, I think Kirsten Beyer did a relatively decent job with the ridiculous material at hand. With the exception of the technobabble scenes, I found the dialogue reasonable and better than a lot of previous eps. The ep was also better and more coherent than Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum, her previous Discovery writing credit. One detail I liked was that she wrote Burnham as much more wary and hostile towards Mirror Georgiou, which for me helps to undo the damage of Burnham having "rescued" Georgiou and brought her over in the first place (one of S1's predetermined plot points that poorly served Burnham's character and that the show unsuccessfully tried to rationalize after the fact).

I also found Mary Wiseman way better in this episode, because her character was used seriously rather than as comic relief – her performance as an angry, frightened Tilly in a crunch situation was really strong, much better than the usual shtick.

I agree with the consensus on the content of this episode being absolute nonsense... but I wanted to flag up the things that worked well.
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wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Oh yeah, I recognise there's an interesting story to be had with villains, but not for cartoonish ones. Winn, Seska and Dukat were amazing characters, but Mirror Georgiou is like season 7 Dukat or pagh-wraith Dukat – there's just no interest there and my faith in the storytelling goes out of the window. Like William D said – if they're insistent on using Mirror Georgiou, they could at least give her a little bit more nuance. They don't have to make her good, just make her interesting.
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wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Re: Mirror Georgiou... Putting an actor like Michelle Yeoh in that role is a fun gimmick for a few episodes, but as a more long-term thing, it's the equivalent of killing off Kira at the end of Emissary then getting Nana Visitor to play the Intendant for the rest of the series (or in this case, giving her her own series). Not just a huge amount of wasted potential but a waste of a very nuanced performer. In this episode, even when Yeoh's playing such a one-dimensional character, you can see just how good she is. And I don't doubt she's enjoying the opportunity to be cartoonishly evil and vamp it up. But compared to what the writers could be giving Michelle Yeoh to do instead of playing a caricature, it's a waste.
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