Star Trek: Discovery

"All In"

2 stars

Air date: 2/10/2022
Written by Sean Cochran
Directed by Christopher J. Byrne & Jen McGowan

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"All In" describes the subject, but not the spirit, of this week's episode of Discovery. This is fine as a routine stopgap sort of episode, but the lack of ambition is notable. Fortunately, the lack of ambition is somewhat offset by the fact that at least there's a solid character core here, even if that character core feels mostly redundant when considering what happened at the end of the previous episode. This episode is not strictly necessary, but then what episode of television is? (I guess it's probably a problem if I'm waxing philosophic on the existence of all television episodes.)

When you consider the previous episode ended with Booker deciding to go with Tarka to pursue their forbidden mission to destroy the DMA, do you really need "All In" to explicitly show how Booker and Burnham come to grips with that realization and further affirm to each other that they're committed to their positions? On the one hand, Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala do a good job of making me believe the emotional stakes of this relationship. On the other hand, setting this aboard an alien port amid the major set pieces of an Epic Cage Fight and a High-Stakes Poker Tournament feels a bit tropey. It's like a TOS throwback hour.

On the plus side, this episode is a good showcase for Owosekun (I will never argue with this show providing spotlights for the supporting characters, particularly Owo, the most likable of the bunch), even if it can't be bothered to think of a more imaginative use of her than putting her in a ring where she takes two dives so she can hustle her competitor before then kicking his ass. As plot goes, it's pretty basic — but also kind of fun.

The same goes for the poker tournament, overseen by Haz Mazaro (Daniel Kash), who keeps altering the deal and telling you to pray he doesn't alter it further. Book and Burnham must face off against each other in order to win this week's MacGuffin — the isolynium, the unobtainium substance necessary to create the isolytic explosion that can destroy the DMA — but must first work together to defeat a pair of other players (using over-the-table signals that would get you kicked out of any casino worth its salt) lest they end up with the dreaded isolynium and do something awful with it. For all the lacking inspiration here, this mostly accomplishes its modest goals and is decently executed. Burnham loses to Booker, as she must for this storyline to continue, but the actors do a good job of selling the cost of the choices made, and this looks to solidify the end point of their relationship (maybe).

One thing that continues to irk me on this show is the way characters are able to jump to new conclusions with regard to the sci-fi properties of the DMA simply because the story decides they can. Just like the discovery that the DMA was artificially created came after about 30 seconds of unpersuasive dialogue, we get here the revelation that the DMA is actually a mining device being used to collect the energy needed to power Species 10-C's presumed superior technology. But notice how this changes nothing in terms of the mission or how the characters approach it, only reinforcing what they already know they need to do (stop Booker and Tarka). Maybe if this show would spend a little more effort exploring its sci-fi mysteries in compelling and believable ways rather than just piling on chilling discoveries with minimal context and on-the-spot conjured technobabble, this would work better.

"Admiral, there be whales here!":

  • The inclusion of a DS9 Changeling as a casual throwaway only had me wondering where the Dominion actually is in this century.

  • Tarka continues to get the best acerbic one-liners: "You're boring me. Go stand somewhere else."

  • Tarka has stolen the Federation's new prototype spore drive so that he and Booker can jump around like Discovery. They're sure in deep.

  • Vance has Burnham take on the mission to stop Book against Rillak's wishes. The Starfleet higher-ups can never be on the same page, can they? At the end, various riot acts are starting to be read, until Burnham reveals she can track Booker thanks to a hidden transponder she has planted.

  • How's this review for cutting to the chase? It's a necessary component of keeping pace and not getting behind, especially after the week I've had. Are shorter reviews a welcome change? Is less actually more? Are you happy with life?

Previous episode: ...But to Connect
Next episode: Rubicon

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113 comments on this post

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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 2:35am (UTC -5)
Five minutes into this episode, they're talking about going to get star charts from a previously uncontacted race called the Sylph at the very edge of the galaxy and I am PUMPED. We're going to make first contact with a strange new alien race! There will surely be some kind of uncertain diplomatic maneuvering amidst a cultural exchange that will invariably have miscommunications and misunderstandings; we will learn to navigate them, solve the problems and come to an understanding by the end of the episode. Perhaps the alien race will have a cool sci-fi idea that characterizes their society or biology. Perhaps they will have a really cool look. Perhaps they themselves, or the story of the first contact with them, will have allegorical meaning or a moral to impart. You know--STAR TREK STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Instead we get Burnham and Book wagering the fate of the galaxy over a poker game in a low-rent Quark's bar-slash-Mos Eisley cantina.

It's my own fault. I . . . should have known better. The show was off the air for a month. I forgot myself for a minute.

. . .

Well, the stakes as laid out by the end of the episode are hugely exciting. I hope they're saving some money to really live up to the spectacle they're promising, here.

. . .

Owo is jacked! While not as good a caliber of actress as the actual regulars and guest stars (like the rest of the bridge crew she was, after all, originally intended to be a glorified extra who had the occasional line and did reaction shots), she's definitely the clear best out of all the B-list recurring cast (followed by Detmer, I'd say). And she's also way better than some of the people who've been actual regulars on Star Trek shows in the past (hi, Anthony Montgomery). I'm thrilled that this episode gave her a bigger part.

. . .

That conversation Owo had with Tarka was cryptic and interesting, and I don't know what to make of it. Frankly I'm not sure I'm bothered to try--I'm happy just to sit back and wait and see what the show has in mind for this one.

. . .

We got to see a Changling turn into a tribble. Too bad the Changling didn't speak. It was . . . a rather ignoble way to use one of the franchise's great villain species, I feel. Kind of like if there had been a fully-Borgified Borg drone drinking whiskey at the bar. Sure, it's been 900 years (or whatever), but that's like three generations for Changelings. Given what we know of their very monolithic society, that seems a short window for change that one would be slinking around bottom-feeding at a casino, rather than trying to achieve whatever its aim was through more . . . imperialist means.
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Andre Rhine-Davis
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 7:32am (UTC -5)
A few things I'm confused about.

How did Owosekun win the fight? The first two times she was pummelled to the ground, clearly outmatched. Then suddenly in the third fight she manages to beat the other guy? How? It looked like the other guy just stopped trying in the third fight for some reason.

What exactly did the Changeling do wrong? I originally thought it was something about the blinking that was communicating information between multiple people? But it turned out there was only one person? So what exactly were they doing to "cheat" the system? Was it just them counting cards or something?

In general I seem to have a harder time keeping track of what's happening and why it's happening and how it came to be that way in Discovery as opposed to other shows. It could just be that it's been off the air for a month and so I've forgotten some stuff, but I think even when it was on, I had this struggle.

Oh also, the "blob" in space that contained the alien civilization sounded like a Dyson sphere to me.
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The Queen
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 7:57am (UTC -5)
Oh Wow! An actual Owo episode! At least, what passes for one on Discovery, and I'm happy enough with that. Jeffrey's Tube, you kind of questioned her acting, but don't forget she's had almost no practice for the last four years. Under the circumstances I thought she did fine. I could have done without the bar setting (they all look the same) but Haz the owner was well done. The poker scene lost any suspense for me because I had no idea what the cards meant. And the changeling turning into a tribble and rolling away? What a waste.

The Stamets-Culber scene confused me because the characters seemed backward with Stamets comforting Culber. Also, I found it hard to believe that Psychologist Culber would have succumbed to guilt like that, I mean even now aren't they trained to keep strict emotional distance? Personally I would have liked to see this scene set in the holosuite rather than just talking about it, but that's probably trivial. I did love the rebellious DOT.

The captain's love affair with a non-Starfleet pirate really is turning out to be a problem, isn't it? Does anybody know whether David Ajala is coming back next season? I'd hate to lose such a good actor, but something's gotta change. And by the way, are Owo and Tarka going to, you know?

I'd give this one about a 3. Liked the explanation for the anomaly, although why is it only happening now? Species 10-C must have needed power for however many millions of years they've had that . . . blob.
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The Queen
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Andre Rhine-Davis, I'm with you on all your questions. I had more problems than usual just hearing this particular episode. Had the CC on all the time, but it was unsynchronized so still kind of confusing. My question about the fight was, if Owo basically won the third time by kicking him in the balls, why didn't she do that the first time? Logic isn't a particular strength of the writers.

Stamets said the blob was a Faraday cage, and I'm too lazy to look that up and see if that makes sense.
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Jeffrey’s Tube
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Guys, Owo threw the fight the first three times. That was the plan all along. They were hustling the room so everyone would bet against her. Then they bet everything they had on her in the last round. I think she had 45-to-one odds by then. So they got a massive payday when she won. Oldest trick in the book.

As for the Changeling blinking his eyes with a certain rhythm to communicate information about his hand to . . . himself? Okay, you’ve got me. It seems like he still must have had another accomplice they didn’t catch.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 9:27am (UTC -5)
I had real mixed feelings about this week. The episode started off strongly I think, but it ultimately devolved into a set of clichés by the end.

I'll start out with what I liked first. Narratively speaking, I thought this was a tight episode. Tilly, Gray and (apparently temporarily) Adira being gone really helped to cut out the extraneous B/C plots which could have weighed the episode down and caused it to lose focus. There was one narratively unnecessary scene with Stamets and Culber, but I did enjoy it, since we got to see the shoe on the other foot with Culber being the anxious one. It's always good when character dynamics are mixed up. I also liked that after many previous weeks of overwrought emotionality, this episode was much more straightforward and dry.

I was in for the ride during the setup for this episode, but once it became clear that we were dealing with a "mob planet" I lost interest. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that Haz Mazaro wasn't really that much of a bastard, and played fair with both Michael and Book, but in the end he came across as a more boring Quark expy. Obviously water under the bridge, but he really felt like a character we should have met last season - obviously Michael and Book had a complicated relationship with him, and not being privy to this kind of makes the scenes not work well.

Then there's the fight scene. Look, I'm willing to look past a woman beating a man who is close to twice her body mass in a fight, since just about everyone does it now. I had no issue with Geogiou kicking dudes in the face until they were on the floor. But the fight choreography and the direction was awful. It reminded me of fights I saw in high school more than anything I've seen in an action movie. And I had no suspension of disbelief, because the plot pretty much required Owo to eventually win. I have no idea what they were trying to accomplish here.

The poker game was another misstep. Playing cards is one of those things which just looks boring, unless you're really into it. They really tried to liven it up with the interactions between the characters. But the fundamental reason card games work in fiction is the tension of not knowing who would win. As with the fight with Owo, it was always clear Book was going to win, because their plan relied upon getting the needed material, but there's still another five episodes to go.

I also don't know what they were thinking thrusting Michael and Book back together again right after pulling them apart. They needed at least an episode or two to be off doing their own things before meeting up again, to raise the stakes of the breakdown of their relationship. The episode seemed to imply that maybe this is splitsville for them, but it would have been so much better if they strung us along here at least.

On to arc work. I continue to note that it seems like the VFX team doesn't seem to understand what the Great Barrier being at the edge of the galaxy means. Maybe they don't understand what a galaxy is? None of the graphics really show a location outside after all. That last scene, while it does provide needed exposition about the creators of the DMA, really didn't fit tonally with the episode at all, which was about the breakdown in Michael and Book's relationship. It ruined the ending on a "sour note" that the episode should have had. The infodump should have been held over till next week.

So on the whole, meh? Star Trek has done crime stories way, way better than this, and it brought absolutely nothing to the table which made this side quest narratively worthwhile. It was just a mundane casino heist story with a tiny SF veneer on top.

Two stars. On, and FWIW, I always have to watch Discovery with close captions on, because I can never hear a damn thing that is said over the music/ambient sound.
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The Queen
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 9:38am (UTC -5)
She threw the fight, ah, makes sense. About the hard to understand part, I just rewatched it and realized a lot of it for me was all the unexplained slang in the bar. "I'm a banta tree either way." And there was quite a lot of it. Not really fair. But it was a serviceable episode despite its faults.
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Andre Rhine-Davis
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 10:27am (UTC -5)
I also always watch with the subtitles on, but sometimes they go out of sync which is really annoying :(

@Jeffrey’s Tube, thanks for the clarification about Owo throwing the fight. I thought maybe that was a possibility, but there was no indication beforehand that that's what was happening.

@The Queen, oh yeah I forgot about the Faraday cage line. I mean sure, it could also serve as a Faraday cage, but the scientifically dubious/interesting part was actually the idea that it doesn't emit black-body radiation. I was going to post that according to real science this would be impossible, but now that I think about it, it's actually not that unrealistic that an advanced civilization could make some form of exotic matter that doesn't interact with photons. Also yes, lots of weird slang in this episode.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 10:48am (UTC -5)
@ Karl Zimmerman

I agree with all your points. Well, maybe not the fight choreography--Owo's not a superhero, after all. I guess they could have been more ambitious though. Maybe have her fight a guy with four arms, or something.

Although there were things I liked about it (the Owo spotlight especially), this was a very disappointing episode overall.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Spoilers of the episode...
This episode left me feeling very good, in that Starfleet was right. What if they had been wrong?
I still do not understand what the purpose of the DMA is, that it is a mining/dredge? Bit confused about that. Nevertheless they need to find Booker and Tarka...
3/4
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Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
After the promising season so far, Discovery came back with a bit of an average episode. A real shame.

It's clear the season hadn't been designed with a break in mind, so it's a pain that Covid forced it.

The fight and then the game later didn't flow well at all. That shapeshifter looked like it could have been a changeling.
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Norvo
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Well, this was certainly 50 minutes of plot driven filler, wasn't it? The prospect of first contact with the mystery species or exploring near the galactic core all disappeared within minutes to make way for an infuriatingly long winded and ultimately unnecessary chase for the macguffin... Did they call the mineral unobtanium? They should have.

The alien casino felt like something out of Star Wars and Haz looked and acted like a demon Buffy the Vampire Slayer would need a two parter to handle. And after the whole song and latinum dance we still don't know anything about the creators of the DMA because they cloak their entire system. Get. On. With. It.

And what was with Saru and Stamets actually telling Burnham they supported her. Was there ever any doubt? That's chain of command 101.
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Colin Lindsly
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
After having seen Jackass Forever last week, I could have lived my life without seeing another man getting incapacitated with a hit to the groin. Thanks Star Trek. :S

The DMA is a piece of mining equipment, which uses space dredging to gather boronite to keep the Faraday cage structure operational. Boronite was associated with omega particles in a Voyager episode.

I am attempting to wrap my mind around the economics of the Karma Barge. This is a "raft" on a ocean planet where there appears to be no other settlement, so how does it keep in the black? This feels like something someone thought would be cool to see, but didn't think it through.
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Geekgarious
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
So, we kick things off with the president explicitly ordering Burnham not to pursue Book, then Admiral Vance says off the record that she should do the opposite. So we've got a situation we've seen a billion times with our rogue protagonist acting against orders. Less than five minutes in, we have our first well worn trope. What did we learn, kids? These writers have zero imagination. Oh, and didn't Tarka say that he is from another universe? Tarka, Lorka, they barely changed the names. You cannot make this shit up.

Oh, now we're chasing isolineum and star charts...yep, here we go again...we gotta get the map to Luke Skywalker...we gotta collect the tapes to stop the observers...we gotta spin our wheels with superfluous scavenging. The writing on this show cannot be any lamer. Throw in a gratuitous fight seen, then the usual pleeding and emotional conversations. Then two big reveals at the end after spinning our wheels for 50 minutes. In other words, it's an episode of Kurtzman Trek. Let's see how long it takes before we get to the cartoon fight with the final boss.
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Trek fan
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
How much further down the drain can Discovery go? Here we have another dull, drawn out episode focusing on Burnham as the savior of the galaxy, this time represented by Book. This trope is so old that it doesn’t even elicit any reaction positive or negative at this point; it just sits on the screen and dies.

The admiral has become ponderous and uninteresting since the Federation president started calling the shots this season. His whispery delivery is starting to feel one note and limited. Given this show’s tendency to dump characters left and right, I wonder how long he’ll last in the regular cast.

Still, even the forced dramatic conflict of the stolen spore drive is more interesting than the predetermined debate of the last episode. So I give it 2 1/2 stars. I just wish it all wasn’t such a dramatically inert retread of tired Trekkian situations.
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Harpohara
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Forgive me for what I’m gonna say.

Utter fking tosh.

I stopped after 10 mins.

Make a big deal of going to the galactic rim. But Burnham knows someone there? How the bloody hell is that credible?

I just turned the episode off.
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AMA
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Probably the weakest episode of the season, for me. I appreciated the reveal about the origins of the anomaly, and there were some nice character moments, but most everything on the planet felt rather needless in the grand scheme of the season's arc. An almost completely forgettable episode.

Will add that the break between episodes did a disservice to the momentum the show had created beforehand. Found it a bit difficult to invest myself back into the story.
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Winde
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
In 2010 there was an odd little sci-fi show called "The Event". It only lasted one season. (It ended with one of those finales that kind of pisses you off because you know there will never be any follow-up like Dark Matter or SG:U.) There was one particular episode that always stuck with me and has informed my thoughts about TV ever since. In the episode, several groups of characters had to get to a warehouse-type building that was going to explode. They were all in the same city and the building was "only blocks away."

It took everybody an entire hour to get those few blocks and then the building exploded, the end. It was the first time I really sat back after the end of an hour and said wow: Nothing. Happened. The entirety of the episode's plot advancement could have been quickly exposited in the next episode.

"The Event" had a 22-episode season, and there's bound to be dogs, I get it. So what in the world is Discovery's excuse for such dreadful pacing in a season half the length? In a 4th season I am still continually frustrated by Nothing. Happened.

This particular episode underwhelmed me greatly. The Owo fight and the poker nonsense was cringingly uninspired and took sooo much more time than they needed in the story, both deflating the overall arc. I wish I could zoom in and figure out what this means. I'm inclined to think that it's the result of a very lightweight writing staff combined with inexperienced showrunning but who knows? I don't know any of them or about anyone's qualifications. The storytelling just feels very amateur. Every week.

And if I could throw another small complaint out there... I think the show could be a little more clear about the geography of things. Barrier/Federation/Orions/HQ, etc.. Maybe it's me, but I never get a real sense of where anything is in relation to anything else. Maybe unnecessary? 🤷‍♂️
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Rahul
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
This was a real disappointment after all the good work DSC did over the past several weeks -- just very little impressive here, nothing of interest or intelligence and it really dragged with all the happenings in the casino. The dialogue that was so well-written in "...But to Connect" just reverted to cliched, non-descript crap. The whole thing could have been tightened up a great deal. Did DSC want to to some kind of homage to casinos and gambling all of a sudden? Or did they want to do their own take on James Bond / Indiana Jones?

Thought the fight routine with Owosekun was cringe -- obviously playing rope-a-dope -- and Burnham collecting bets etc. And then the poker game -- clearly it would come down to Burnham and Book after the 2 Emerald Chain idiots lost. The casino host was another cliche.

Tarka continues to be the most intriguing character to watch. It was odd to see him and Owosekun paired off as Book/Burnham played poker, but I liked their little conversation. Owosekun tries to get all analytic on him and he talks about his weight of loss.

What seemed original is the realm of Species 10-C and how they are mining "Boronite" (or some such) to keep powering their hyperfield. So now if Tarka/Book prevent them from doing so, Rillak figures 10-C will be royally pissed so the episode ends with her saying Book/Tarka must be stopped whatever the cost. No really?? Does she actually have to say it?? Are we idiots??

Even the interaction with Stamets and Culber didn't work for me. Culber is blaming himself for Book running off with Tarka so he's obsessive-compulsive cleaning... "Let's be terrified together!" goes Stamets. Ugh.

2 stars for "All In" -- just felt a bit like amateur hour on DSC. Not the usual flaws of excessive schmalts and wokeness but just overly simplistic and uninspiring writing. Hard to believe this mediocrity could come right after "...But to Connect" but these kinds of things happen on Trek.
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Leif
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
BORONITE HELLO OMEGA ALERT!! DIDNT THIS SET OFF VOYAGER ALARMS IN EVERYONE ELSE?? WHO ELSE BETS AND HOOES THIS WILL TIE IN TO SPECIES 262 OR 263 and into the species introduced by Kirsten Beyer in her Voyager book series culminating in THE ETERNAL TIDE and the SPOILER ALERT Omega particle based life form and the omega continuum..i hope we get a new species too not just stuff based on those thiugh..very promising and now have high expectations
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Bryan
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 1:38am (UTC -5)
The writers sleepwalked through this one. Very bland, rote, by the numbers and forgettable. You could delete this episode from the season and nothing important would be lost in the arc, and there are no shining moments that would be missed either.
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modulum
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 11:27am (UTC -5)
the changeling and omega particle callbacks were nice and the notion that the DMA is a mining structure is legitimately a fun concept. wish the writers would learn to stop doing casino episodes though.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Is this the worst single episode of Discovery yet? The more I think about it, the more I wonder.

Everything about it was just . . . lazy. Disappointing and lazy. Discovery has made bad plot decisions before, but offhand I don't remember any other episodes being this lazy. Usually when it fails, it's at least being ambitious.
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Winde
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Maybe the DMA is a backdoor to the Borg, who sought Omega as a pinnacle of perfection. I can see it now... . o O (After being defeated by virus-loaded Future Janeway at the end of VOY, the Borg retreated to a single, safe, enclave past the Barrier. In 900+ years they've found and harnessed Omega and started mining with the DMA to gather more. Having found perfection, they've become a cult. Assimilation happens at the same time as DMA mining, so there's no need for Cubes or conduits... ...)

*going to bed now*
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AMA
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube

Not sure "All In" is the worst episode. I prefer its forgettable nature to most every episode from Season 1. Put another way, I would sooner watch "All In" than anything, except maybe "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad," from Season 1. Wish I could forget Season 1...
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Winde
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
@AMA

Shots fired! ⚡

I guess I'm the only person who thinks S1 was the best of Disco. Klingons fresh and alien. Mirror Universe done well. Good arc. Solid performances. I was 'All In' for a good shot of imagination in a new Trek.

It's been straight downhill since. S2: sorry, that Red Angel thing felt like it dragged on soooo long. S3: all that Very Serious Burn time spent on an insultingly silly outcome. S4: spin wheels until... still there.
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modulum
Fri, Feb 11, 2022, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
S2 is still my favorite season of Disco mostly off the back of how phenomenal Pike was on screen and the matrix-y action time travel vibes of it all. S1 is my close 2nd though and i definitely didn't appreciate how genuinely cohesive its vision all was at the time. it's absolutely bonkers on every level and so unrepentantly violent and weird. a star trek show about a mysterious science vessel forced to perform unethical experiments in the dark while a brutal war unfolds distantly in the background could have been an awesome pitch for a new generation of trek.

by contrast the newer seasons' attempts at being "more trek" have felt bizarrely hollow and boring, as if they're going through the motions of TNG A/B plots but without really believing in any of it. the sense of trying anything new has just been lost and so no thread ever gets paid off and the characters don't fit well in the "normalized" setting. Tilly and Michael felt like real people going through real and difficult lives in season 1. they just feel like leftovers from some other show that nobody had any idea what to do with now.
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Mal
Sat, Feb 12, 2022, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Star Trek: Discovery
season 4 episode 8

All In


"Dameron signs off on a plan involving Finn and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) traveling to the luxurious colony of Canto Bight ... the whole Finn/Rose excursion feels oddly disconnected from the desperate urgency of what's happening back with the fleet”

- @Jammer’s review for the Casino planet in Star Wars pretty much sums up this entire episode


* 1/2 (out of 4 stars)


What a waste.

What a completely boring waste of an hour. Before the mid-season break, as @Rahul says, Discovery was really on a roll. This clunker completely destroys the momentum. And it brakes the record for worst Star Trek episode in a very long time.

The plot is so simple you can summarize it in a single sentence: "in order to build an isolitic weapon Tarka needs isolinium; that’s a black market element that is not easy to track down.” Yes that is an actual sentence of Michael’s exposition 3 minutes into the episode. No, the writing doesn’t get any better as the episode clunks along.

If you care enough to remember, you’ll recall that Season 3 started with Michael and Book at a very cool trading post. That’s not where we go this week. Instead Book decides to go to the most boring cruise ship casino in the known universe.

Because no one will ever guess that’s where he went.

So yes, that’s literally the first place Michael guesses that Book will go.

This episode sucks so bad.

@Geekgarious makes a really good point: its unfortunate they write Admiral Vance so poorly this episode. He was one character that consistently impressed. In the past the writers have been smart enough to keep Vance’s machinations implicit and off screen. But smart is not a word anyone will use for the writers this week. They just have Vance come out and tell Michael to do her level best to work against the spirit of the President’s orders.

I guess Star Fleet has a Deep State problem.

The only saving grace is at least the President chews them out for their disobedience. Of course that only further diminishes Vance’s stature. What a waste.

And so we find ourselves on the most boring casino planet in the known universe, Parathia. And we get a wonderful homage to that classic Trek episode “Tsunkatse”. Not. Owo is no Seven. And her opponent is no Rock. And this episode just sucks so bad.

The one interesting scene is Culber and Stamets in their quarters. These two have had just about the only good relationship in the four years of this show. And this small domestic scene, with Culber having a small breakdown in their quarters, with all the work pressures, is very genuine. Culber is a professional, and I don’t expect him to let these pressures effect his work. But coming home for a small melt down is, well, very human. He and Stamets have a nice short chat, but what Culber really needs is just a little R&R. So they go for a walk in the holo-arboretum. Simple. It works.

This is where the episode descends in a cheap knock off of Rura Penthe. Owo wins a fight by punching a guy in the balls ("Not everybody keeps their genitals in the same place, Captain”) and Tarka finds out the casino cheater is a Changling,

McCOY: Would you mind explaining that little trick you do?
MARTIA: I'm a chameloid.
KIRK: I've heard about you. Shapeshifters. I thought you were mythical.

That’s about all the time we have for Undiscovered Country call backs for today.

Oksana Sirju has the last engaging line in the episode, “Congratulations. Everyone’s a winner on Haz Mazaro’s Karma Barge. Do you want a bag?” Then Tarka captures the Changling cheater. And then there are still almost 20 minutes left for the episode.

Nothing else engaging will happen. Just let your eyes glaze over.

The rest is the card game. So boring. So. Bloody. Boring.

Yes 40 minutes in, Michael actually yawns. When the characters think the story line is boring, you’re really fucked.

As Tarka says to Owo, “Ok you’re boring me. Go stand somewhere else.” The musical queue when Tarka says that line may be the most boring Star Trek score ever.

And the episode is still not over. There is still the exposition at the end explaining that the DMA is basically a mining device. Dum, dum, dum.

Ok you’re boring me. When does Prodigy come back?
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Maq
Sat, Feb 12, 2022, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
I saw what I saw but I am not sure what I saw.

The only positive was the use of Owosekun but that part felt wery constructed.
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Nick
Sun, Feb 13, 2022, 11:33am (UTC -5)
I liked it, 2.5 stars from me. This was never going to be a top tier episode, but I thought it was an entertaining diversion (I'm also a sucker for casino stuff).

- I like Captain Burnham's character. Vast improvement over prior seasons. She actually had to be prompted by Vance to bend the rules and used strategy and planning to get the upper hand instead of action. This is a huge improvement over S3.

- I liked Owo's performance. She's never really stood out to me before but she's clearly the strongest among the bridge crew (Bryce/Rhys/Demter/Nilson). That smirk right before she punched that guy in the nuts was top notch. More please.

- I think they are doing a much better job with the mystery box story telling. I came into this season with very low expectations after S3's "cause the burn" disaster but they have done a good job with the DMA plot this season. Finding out that the DMA mines boromite (also used to make the Omega particle) by a super advanced species to maintain a super shield around their system is intriguing and I'm genuinely curious what happens next.

Other than that there's isn't much to say. This was more of a diversion / filler episode, which is fine by me.
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Quincy
Sun, Feb 13, 2022, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Didn't like this episode. Only thing I was interested in was Book and Burnham's interaction and the info on the DMA. Everything else could've been scrapped and rewritten.

At first it annoyed me when I thought they were making up a new super powerful mineral. I'm like why needlessly multiple the amount of Treknobabble? But one trip to the Internet and low and behold Boronite was mentioned as the main ingredient for producing Omega Molecules in VOY's "The Omega Directive." Nice call back.

I was just thinking that if these 10-C beings are dark matter creatures, they might not even be aware that baryonic life exists. Hence, the uber destructive mining equipment.

Humanoid Lifeforms: "Dark matter based life is highly unlikely."
Dark Matter Entities: "Baryonic organisms are woefully improbable."
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The Queen
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 12:36am (UTC -5)
Nick, Nick, Nick. You seem to believe that without "prompting" from Adm. Vance, Burnham wouldn't have done anything shady. Now, is this something we really can put our faith in? Isn't the whole message of Discovery that everybody should do what they feel like doing, regardless of orders or rules, and they will be gently tapped on the wrist at worst?

Oops, I got a little tetchy there.

Quincy, I like your idea about dark matter entities, that would be such a Trekky explanation.
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Yanks
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
So, Discovery is trying to tell me that Michael "let's fly" Burnham, our goddess that has broken every rule in the book to include mutiny, disrespect, will disobeying several lawful orders, willful disregard for life, somehow when Book is involved is not allowed to break the rules because they are out of Federation jurisdiction? Everything she has done and THIS is going to far?

lol.... and they want me to take this series seriously.

Loved the Owo scenes.... more please. Very good actress and SA-MOKIN hot... she towers over Michael... lol

Cool to see a Changeling... they didn't butcher this one like they did the Klingons.

Again, I struggle to root for a series that puts someone with Michael's record in the Captain's chair.
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Yanks
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
@Andre Rhine-Davis
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 7:32am (UTC -6)
A few things I'm confused about.

"How did Owosekun win the fight? The first two times she was pummelled to the ground, clearly outmatched. Then suddenly in the third fight she manages to beat the other guy? How? It looked like the other guy just stopped trying in the third fight for some reason."

She was tanking the 1st two round to get the odds up. I thought they did a shitty job of portraying that though.

"What exactly did the Changeling do wrong? I originally thought it was something about the blinking that was communicating information between multiple people? But it turned out there was only one person? So what exactly were they doing to "cheat" the system? Was it just them counting cards or something?"

The Changeling was turning into that one species that was blinking and communicating with another giving the opponents hands away.
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Yanks
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
@The Queen

"The Stamets-Culber scene confused me because the characters seemed backward with Stamets comforting Culber. Also, I found it hard to believe that Psychologist Culber would have succumbed to guilt like that, I mean even now aren't they trained to keep strict emotional distance? Personally I would have liked to see this scene set in the holosuite rather than just talking about it, but that's probably trivial. I did love the rebellious DOT."

Why hasn't Star Fleet assigned a counselor to Discovery? Why does Culber need to carry all this weight?
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Dreubarik
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised so many people hated this one. I quite dislike Discovery and thought there was some nice character work in the bones of this episode, even though admittedly the writers used too many cliches (as usually) to get away with it. Also, and I know I say this a lot, but SMG is one of Season 4's greatest flaws. Burnham had a decent storyline in this episode, but SMG's overacting (particularly during the poker game) makes it very difficult to root for her.

As an aside, and relative to the de rigeur Discovery Therapy Session of the Week™, I have to say that I am starting to get really irritated with these. This week's problem is that Dr Culber has too much on his plate being simultaneously the ship's phyisician and counselor... and it is never discussed that the obvious solution is that a single person shouldn't be doing these two jobs (does anyone expect their GP to be their psychologist as well, for God's sake?). Discovery's writers live paying attention to their character's constant psychological needs, but when the source of the distress is something they themselves unnecessarily and implausibly manufactured then the whole exercise rings hollow and dumb. Not to mention that it also puts across somewhat of a toxic message: That as long as we keep acknowledging each other's feelings at work and doing therapy sessions, it will all work out because we all have trauma. Well, I'm sorry but no: Sometimes people are understaffed and overworked and the system needs to change to make it not so, rather than put the blame/absolution on the individual. Get lost, Discovery.
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Sen-Sors
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
"...That as long as we keep acknowledging each other's feelings at work and doing therapy sessions, it will all work out because we all have trauma. Well, I'm sorry but no: Sometimes people are understaffed and overworked and the system needs to change to make it not so, rather than put the blame/absolution on the individual."

This is a really good observation and IMO it speaks to the particular brand of American liberalism that animates this show; the kind that seeks to acknowledge the various structural problems of society and increase representation of marginalized peoples among the ruling class while ostensibly working to preserve the status quo. This type of liberalism is distinct from leftism, which actually demands systemic change and solutions to structural problems.

That is why Discovery is always about validating people's feelings and Being Seen and throwing in X/Y/Z type of person regardless of whether or not they have anything to actually do on the show. And many people that love DSC love it explicitly for those reasons. I don't wanna get all political and say that DSC is often a reflection of the affluent American suburban liberal, but it totally is.
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Dreubarik
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 4:12am (UTC -5)
@Sen-Sors I couldn't agree more, and we see that underlying ideology throughout NuTrek. In the classic uncontacted peoples moral dilemma, both Treks fall squarely on different sides: Old Trek would advocate for leaving those peoples alone to deal with their issues of poverty, classim and sexism on their own, whereas NuTrek would just buldoze them and "civilize" them to fix said issues affecting the individuals. A clear example is the famous scene in Star Trek Picard in which the titular character angrily rips out the "Romulans Only" sign from the Romulan refugee bar. It is a truly imperialist statement that original Trek would never have made.

And don't get me wrong, I like the representation (honestly, it's the best thing about the show). But the brand of leftism behind the show overall has indeed shifted and I think it warrants a much better discussion than the whole anti-SJW nonsense.
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Booming
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 5:39am (UTC -5)
@Dreubarik
It's the horrifying outcrop of third way politics. That was a time where often formerly left wing parties decided to pursue right wing economic policies and left wing cultural policies. Famous proponents of the third way were/are Bill Clinton, Blair, Schröder and Macron.

This has lead to these fairly hollow shows. I just finished "Inventing Anna". That show is awful message-wise. Everybody behaves immoral and unethical and that is portrayed as admirable. The show essentially states that it is not about creating a better world but giving women equal opportunity to be horrible. That's all we can and should hope for. At the end of the show I was praying for Kim Jong Un to drop an H bomb on New York. People who made this show must be completely removed from reality.

The same seems true for NuTrek (I haven't seen LD or Prod). The themes appear like they are written by people who have no idea what justice even means anymore, who have accepted the hypercapitalist individualism narrative and are incredibly cynical towards the working/lower class. The three times we got a kind of comment on economic issues that I remember were when Raffi accused Picardf of sitting in is huge Chateau being all Mr. fancypants which didn't even make sense because why is she poor? Couldn't she just replicate her own chateau? Then there was the scene with the workers on Utopia Planetia who complained about getting bad replicators (???) and who were mostly really shitty people. These workers were the only glimpse we got of the new underclass inside the Federation and that portrayal was pretty negative. The last thing were the Romulan refugees who were really angry about not getting more stuff from the Federation. Also very nice. So the three scenes about people being poor had all of them complain about not getting more or better stuff and being more or less bad people.

Say what you will about Discovery but at least it doesn't vilify poor people like Picard did. Even though it seems equally blind on several issues.
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Dreubarik
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 9:08am (UTC -5)
@Booming Agreed. I've analyzed both shows as a single thing on the assumption that they the same creative people and therefore the same ideological undertones are behind both, but it is fair to say one has been far worse than the other so far (I also absolutely despise Picard on all grounds, so you'll get no argument for me that Discovery is far better no matter how you want to look at it).

Underlying it all, however, there is the fact that right-wing critics of NuTrek do make some valid points about the hypocrisy of the shows' ideology (albeit, in my opinion, for the wrong reasons). You've pointed out some of them that show up on screen. But there is also the fact that TOS's progressive activism caused real trouble behind the scenes, whereas NuTrek's brand of it is a sanitized version of this progressivism aimed to capture new demographics and hit economies-of-scale targets on the streaming-service financial spreadsheets of bean counters. As much as one may want to avoid it, this cynicism shows up in the final product. There is no real progressivism without upsetting the system.
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bhzerbh
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Again with the fucking politics? Give it a fucking rest already.
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Bryan
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
There's no denying it. Star Trek has always been unapologetically political, for better or worse. So there's no escaping it either.
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Rahul
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
I don't feel like Trek has always been "unapologetically political" -- it's really DSC mainly, but PIC a bit as well that are "unapologetically political" -- and for the worse. To me, classic Trek was never divisive like DSC, PIC though an individual episode here and there might elicit strong and differing opinions along political lines. It's about how to do social commentary through a sci-fi lens in a mature, responsible way. DSC, PIC seem to try to pander to a certain audience whereas for me classic Trek aimed to be broader in its appeal.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Enterprise is, in my opinion, comfortably the worst of all the Treks (including all of recent Trek and the alt-universe reboot films), with very little worthwhile contribution to either Star Trek or to entertainment in general. But just now, reading the above posts, what springs to mind is the episode Cogenitor, which is one of the few the show ever got right.

What was the message of that episode? "You didn't understand. You should have left it alone. You applied human morals and ways of thinking to a complex alien biological and social dynamic, and someone died, and someone else won't be born, and first contact is totally buggered."

How do we think Discovery would handle the same exact sci-fi idea as Cogenitor to write an episode around?

Yeah. Exactly.

I'm not one who is down on recent Trek in general, or who thinks that all shows have to be the same basic thing in tone and purpose. But I know which take on the concept would be more interesting and more thought-provoking, as well as more responsible given the lessons of our own human history as so-far confined to this one planet, and it isn't Discovery's.
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Dreubarik
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube I recently rewatched "Cogenitor" and had the same thought. Endless blogs would be written today vilifying its message. Generally, I am convinced that NuTrek creators and followers would consider the Prime Directive odious if it weren't a franchise legacy of the past, which is why you don't see many episodes seriously focusing on it anymore.

@bhzerbh So is a debate on the political sensibilities informing Trek akin to trolling now? I didn't come here to discuss party politics or any government policy, I was making a point about this specific episode. If a Star Trek forum isn't a place to discuss a show beyond its superficial plot points, then I don't know where else it could be done
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Mal
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube said, "Enterprise is, in my opinion, comfortably the worst of all the Treks.”

I get what you’re saying, and Enterprise is certainly the only Star Trek that I just stopped watching, in Season 3. "Chosen Realm” came on the heals of the decidedly sub-standard “Carpenter Street”, and given the two mediocre episodes in a row before that - I was done.

January 14, 2004 was the last time I watched Star Trek until the re-boot movies 5 years later.

On the other hand, it is season 4 of Discovery, and I’m still watching. But things are different now for a few reasons.

First, Enterprise’s “Chosen Realm” was episode 64. Discovery is only at 51. Do we really think we’ll still be watching Discovery after 13 more episodes?

Second, "Chosen Realm” came on the heals of TNG, DS9, and VOY - that is 526 episodes in 14 straight years! Talk about Trek-fatigue. Discovery premiered on a blank slate - there was no Star Trek on TV for a dozen years when it premiered. We were all willing to cut it a lot of slack.

Third, there was a vast cornucopia of sci-fi at the time ENT was on. Farscape. Firefly. Stargate. Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers. X-Files. Andromeda. Lexx. Battle Star Galactica. Believe it or not, even the new Doctor Who overlapped with Enterprise. It was quite a time!

What is on TV today? Even the Expanse is over. Man in the High Castle is over. Humans is over. I suppose that leaves Westworld. And oh yeah, Doctor Who is still on (I think?). But competition in sci-fi shows just isn’t what it used to be.

I think if Enterprise was on today, after a dozen year drought of Star Trek, and no other high-quality scifi on TV anymore, it would be received very differently.

I went back during the pandemic and watched ENT again - this time the whole way through. First of all, by stopping at “Chosen Realm” in 2004, I missed the amazing “Damage” with Casey Biggs (Damar from DS9). And of course I missed the wonderful trilogy format for season 4. If Discovery is pumping out episodes of that quality next season when DISC's episode count starts to approach ENT's, then I’ll be willing to give the show it’s due.

Until then, Discovery is not very good. And Picard is utter shit. Enterprise smells like a rose in comparison. It is no longer the worst. Not by a long-shot.

Now pass the pecan pie.
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Sen-Sors
Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul

"DSC, PIC seem to try to pander to a certain audience whereas for me classic Trek aimed to be broader in its appeal."

Look at the makeup of the bridge crew of TOS on TV in 1966 and tell me that's not political. It was trying to "broaden the appeal" in a TV market that, at the time, was exclusively playing to a white American audience. It didn't have to portray men, women, Americans, Russians, Black women and Asians working together on the bridge of a spaceship but it chose to do so. I agree that STD and PIC are pandering (and garbage) but "current day" political themes have been shot throughout all of Star Trek since the beginning. Colonialism and Cold War politics, mostly, and some series more than others, but it's always been there.
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Booming
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Maybe the NuTrek shows were never supposed to have a broad appeal. Maybe the NuTrek shows are so numerous because every show is supposed to appeal to a specific audience. Maybe they did lots of audience testing and constructed the shows around that.

Ok so let's continue to speculate wildly. A streaming service differs from TV because you have to pay for it on a monthly basis. You want customers who have enough income to maybe even forget that they have a subscription. In other words, you want people from the middle class. People who are willing to pay for half a dozen streaming services.

Discovery is aimed at younger people at college or with a college education, in other words the proto middle class/Children of the middle class. It has a good looking black women as the protagonist with ever changing hair styles, it has a mixed race gay couple, two white male authority figures (one good, one bad), one white female authority figure (good), a middle eastern boyfriend with a secret past, a nerdy and neurotic friend with weight issues. Life is kind of unfair to people who do the right thing. WAR. DRAMA. EMOTIONS and the desire to get along with those darn religious nutjob fanatics (Republicans:). Economic questions are still absent (because daddy pays for everything?).
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Dreubarik
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:17am (UTC -5)
@Booming I think there is something to that theory, though I suspect data science has little to do with it. I think it likely this is a bit of a retcon that the showrunners have championed after the show failed to have broad-based appeal. I think people forget that the stuff Discovery focuses on today wasn't that emphasized during Season 1. I think the creators introduced a diversed cast because, well, it was the usual MO in Star Trek, and then it turns out they got a big amount of praise for that among critics and Internet forums, whereas the creative decisions were mostly failures. So they doubled down on the "we are capturing a key demographic" argument, which as you point out is only possible in the streaming era. This meshes well with the pitch that the other shows will then each address a different niche.

Personally, though, I doubt this works in a sufficient magnitude to make sense. I've always suspected that young middle-class media critics are a very skewed representation of actual young middle-class people.
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Tomalak
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:55am (UTC -5)
I think the key point is that you can get away with rather juvenile political messaging and casting for diversity if you can also write and produce great TV. But if you can't do the latter, all you get is instantly forgettable junk food TV. You'll still get trendy media critics singing your praises for all 5 minutes as you say. The broader failure of Discovery seems to have led them to double down on seeking the unrepresentative media praise, but it's not obvious how valuable that is. Even very ideological left-wing people, while quietly are pleased to see the 999th Strong Black Woman (TM) lead on a Netflix show, are probably not going to actually watch crap TV, or recommend it to anyone else.

There's also surely a legacy effect here. They can rely on bored fans of earlier Treks, and the broader Star Trek franchise, to keep the sinking ship afloat far longer than would otherwise be the case.
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Tomalak
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 6:24am (UTC -5)
I think Gone with the Wind is a good example of how to do this kind of thing well. Very few people on here would agree with its portrait of the American South or slavery. It wasn't even subtle, although perhaps subtler than Discovery. But it has a lot else going for it and most of us are mature enough to overlook the politics/ideology, or at least segregate it from the acting/storyline/romance etc.

If Mitchell and the film's directors had simply written pure Confederate propaganda, with protagonists just as interesting as Michael Burnham and actresses just as talented as she is, it is unlikely to have worked out.

Like Rahul, I also don't accept at all the idea that this stuff is nothing new for Star Trek. Until 2017, the actual political messaging in the franchise, while not particularly subtle, was rare.* You could watch a whole season of TNG or whatever and only get a little of it. Those who say otherwise seem to be exaggerating a small number of TOS episodes and scenes and forgetting everything else. They appear to believe TOS was nothing but preachiness about racism, rather than 99% about other things. Obviously it was a force for racial equality, but there was a lot more to the show than the first interracial kiss scene and so on. Pretending otherwise to salvage Discovery just doesn't wash for anyone familiar with the show.

* I mean it in the sense of dealing with contemporary issues in the 20th/21st Century. Obviously the politics of, say, Cardassia joining the Dominion featured a lot more.
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Rahul
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 8:51am (UTC -5)
@Sen-Sors

I think the word “political” is problematic and it is used too frivolously. Maybe more accurate descriptors are progressive, pioneering, ground-breaking.

Obviously, it’s well known that Roddenberry was ruffling feathers with his casting choices etc. And classic Trek dealt with topics like the Cold War, colonialism, imperialism which are political in nature. But was classic Trek forcing some kind of unequivocal and consistent political / ideological narrative upon the viewer? I never felt it was. Were, for example, Russians or Chinese or blacks or women or straight white males being singled out for some kind of judgment? I didn’t get that sense. Classic Trek just dealt with topics that are political in nature without coming across as judgmental or pushy, IMHO.

The point I’d like to make in contrasting classic Trek with DSC/PIC is that I have a great deal of comfort in viewing the former as I don’t feel like I’m being force-fed a specific political or ideological narrative. With DSC especially, I find it to be forcing a woke, divisive narrative, which is also to pander to a certain audience (to the show’s detriment). So that’s why I’d say DSC/PIC are “unapologetically political” (just to use Bryan’s term) whereas classic Trek doesn’t come across as such to me.
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Yanks
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 9:46am (UTC -5)
@Rahul
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 8:51am (UTC -6)

Stands and applauds!! EXACTLY!

Uhura, Sulu and Chekov were in their positions because they were talented officers. Their race was never front and center aside from Lincoln speaking of Uhura.

Michael Burnham is in her position because the show was written to put a black woman in the Captain's chair, regardless of her actions. If anyone on Discovery should be Captain - it's Saru... and he has his issues as well.

Discovery is woke trek for the sole purpose of being woke trek. Not displaying a positive future where humanity has grown past it's many fallacies.
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Booming
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 10:17am (UTC -5)
@Yanks
" Their race was never front and center aside from Lincoln speaking of Uhura."
I'm pretty sure that for many people having a black woman as a bridge officer was extremely insulting and Chekov had such a strong Russian dialect for the same reason. It was a huge deal, certainly divisive, groundbreaking and progressive. I also don't remember any moment where DSC put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Burnham is black. Burnham is also not incompetent. Her main "problem" (the show more and more portrayed it as a positive thing) is her constant insubordination.

"Michael Burnham is in her position because the show was written to put a black woman in the Captain's chair,"
Then why wasn't she in that chair from the beginning with the rank of captain, instead of season 4. Why did they turn her into that pariah for a season? The first few episodes she was constantly humiliated. It also continues this thing where black leads don't start as captain. Sisko also started as commander not captain, even though he was at least in command. The white leads all started as captain, also true for the upcoming show with Pike. So far we had five white leads, all captain from the start and two black leads all only commanders at the beginning only several seasons later becoming captains. Isn't that strange that even in the woke show blacks only start as commander?

Later Burnham became officer always right but it certainly didn't start that way and on Picard we had one black woman in the main cast. Raffi, a bitter drug addict who screwed up her family. Maybe Raffi will become space Jesus later but so far her life is pretty bad and she is far from a role model. Could you explain how that is woke?

Apart from that we have the gay couple. Both are unquestionably competent in their respective jobs. It's also never highlighted in a way that it's super awesome that they are gay or anything. They are just a normal couple. What is woke about that? (I'm seriously asking)
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Jeffrey’s Tube
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 10:54am (UTC -5)
This is the same argument I have to hear about comic books. People thinking they “didn’t used to be political,” when in fact they always were. It’s just the issues have moved on from then so what you don’t realize is political and controversial when you view it after the fact isn’t anymore, and it passes you by without you realizing it ever was, let alone how much.

Each of the Star Treks has things about them that haven’t aged well. We accept these things as “of their time” and contextualize them when we see them and probably little note them as being important. They’re besides the point. We pay such little attention to them it’s easy to forget they’re there at all, or on what way they’re there, or how much they’re there.

Discovery has things about it that won’t age well either. It’s fun to speculate what they are. Personally, I think the touchy-feely crap will stand out to viewers as “painfully of this era.” I can promise you they will little note that Burnham is a black woman, or that the show features a gay couple and a transgender couple. Nothing will stand out about the way they’re portrayed. If they’re highlighted or spotlighted, well, why shouldn’t they be? They’re main characters in the story.

Even something as hokey as Su’Kal being the source of the Burn will be more accepted due to longer familiarity with the plot development. We forgive plenty of equally hokey things from past Treks.

Anyway. This “woke” tone I’m constantly having to hear about will be little noticed by future viewers, who will in turn not realize it was ever here or was something people complained about. Instead, they will be complaining about the woke tone of “Star Trek 2045,” and wondering why it can’t be less political like Discovery was!
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Jason R.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
"Then why wasn't she in that chair from the beginning with the rank of captain, instead of season 4. Why did they turn her into that pariah for a season? The first few episodes she was constantly humiliated."

That's because for the latest generation, being a paraiah is a badge of strength and moral authority. What makes her heroic is her emotional turmoil and outsider status. Making her a captain from the start would have undermined that characterization. Anti heroes are the new heroes.
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Booming
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@Jason
Then why did she not stay a pariah? Why did she become the heroine that is always right? She is now constantly in contact with the most powerful people in the Federation, commanding it's most powerful ship. How much more insider could she be?
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Jason R.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
"Then why did she not stay a pariah? Why did she become the heroine that is always right? She is now constantly in contact with the most powerful people in the Federation, commanding it's most powerful ship. How much more insider could she be?"

Die a hero or live to see yourself become the villain? :)
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Yanks
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 10:17am (UTC -6)
@Yanks

"I'm pretty sure that for many people having a black woman as a bridge officer was extremely insulting and Chekov had such a strong Russian dialect for the same reason. It was a huge deal, certainly divisive, groundbreaking and progressive. I also don't remember any moment where DSC put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Burnham is black. Burnham is also not incompetent. Her main "problem" (the show more and more portrayed it as a positive thing) is her constant insubordination."

Did I ever say she was incompetent?

"Michael Burnham is in her position because the show was written to put a black woman in the Captain's chair,"

"Then why wasn't she in that chair from the beginning with the rank of captain, instead of season 4. Why did they turn her into that pariah for a season? The first few episodes she was constantly humiliated.
... Isn't that strange that even in the woke show blacks only start as commander?"

I don't know, it's the way they wrote it.

"Later Burnham became officer always right but it certainly didn't start that way"

Michael has always been right in her mind.

We're we talking about 'Discovery'? Why bring up 'Picard'? Did I say Picard was woke? .. bad yes, but woke?

"Apart from that we have the gay couple. Both are unquestionably competent in their respective jobs. It's also never highlighted in a way that it's super awesome that they are gay or anything. They are just a normal couple. What is woke about that? (I'm seriously asking)"

What is the only other "couple"? Why do we have these actors and these characters?

Come on Booming.

Look, if you felt preached at while watching the original Star Trek and the spin-offs then there is nothing I can say that will make you see it. In all other trek, aside from a few minimal instances, I never felt preached at which was the gist of Rahul's post.

Maybe you can explain why, with too many insubordinate acts to mention - to include assault on her Captain and mutiny, why Michael is now the Captain of Discovery? I guess is wasn't the plan from the start, it's all based on her performance and conduct you know... the show was always just going to be centered around someone that wasn't the Captain of the ship... yeah - right.
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Booming
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
@Jason
Hahaha

@Yanks
"Did I ever say she was incompetent?"
No, you wrote that Uhura, Sulu and Chekov were there because they were competent and I also wanted to point out that Burnham is also competent.

"I don't know, it's the way they wrote it."
It is quite the coincidence that all white leads started with higher ranks than all the black leads.

"What is the only other "couple"?"
Do you mean on this show? Book and Burnham, Lorca and Cornwall, Sarek and... Mrs. Sarek (I want to say Florella?), L'Rell and Voq/Ash, Burnham and Ash/Voq. Was that all of them?

"Look, if you felt preached at while watching the original Star Trek"
No, I don't think so. Well, in a few scenes maybe like when Kira (who I mostly really liked) talked about religion. That you can only understand religion when you understand religion or something.

"Maybe you can explain why, with too many insubordinate acts to mention - to include assault on her Captain and mutiny, why Michael is now the Captain of Discovery?"
As Dreubarik speculated, I think that's just bad writing and then some parts of the twittersphere applauded certain aspects so they went with it and put them in more.

"he show was always just going to be centered around someone that wasn't the Captain of the ship... yeah - right."
Yeah... I remember how big that announcement was. The first Trek show where the protagonist isn't the Captain.
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Tom
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
Couldn't we say that whether or not something is political depends on who's watching? In TOS and TNG we had Kirk and Picard being the captains. They also happened to be the best leaders and diplomats. It could be argued that's why they were captain, but it could also be argued that they came to be the best at what they did because of the economic and class circumstances when they were growing up. I think that's where nuTrek is coming from, and if so explains why it's pretty well regarded outside these forums. Of course, if they'd watched DS9 or Voyager they'd know class or race equality wasn't an issue in the Trek universe, but that's not much comfort for those people dealing with those issues now.
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Jammer
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Bryan
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
When I said Star Trek has always been political, the main idea was that we shouldn't be ashamed to discuss political themes that relate to any of the episodes so I couldn't be happier to see so many people here doing just that and making some great points too.

To be clear, I tend to concur with Rahul insofar as there are important differences in the ways that Old Trek and Nu Trek present their politics, with the latter generally being more divisive, which I believe is for the worse. The disagreement there may only lie in that I don't think that the political dimension (which in Old Trek, Rahul calls "social commentary") needs to be divisive in order for it to be counted as truly political.

In an earlier discussion with Booming, in which she said "the Dalai Lama is a divisive figure" I realized that "divisive" can have at least two different meanings. For me, a message is divisive when it intentionally pits people against each other based on their differing beliefs or identity. But the word can also be a synonym for "controversial" where the division is not intrinsic to the words, actions or intentions of the message, but to the reaction it gets from others who don't all agree with it. So when Booming refers to Uhura's inclusion as "divisive", this is a different sense of the word than I would use. Surely there was nothing divisive inherent to the message of having the historic interracial kiss -- the intention was one of inclusion rather than division even if not everyone was immediately on board with that.

Also, when I say "unapologetically political" I don't mean preachy or pushy. I mean that many of the showrunners or writers have had particular political sensibilities (liberal, leftist, socialist, progressive, utopian, humanist, or however you'd care to define them) that they proudly display either overtly or more subtly through metaphor. This is in stark contrast to most other sci-fi where the writers may hold similar beliefs but either exercise some restraint until their politics seep through more subconsciously or they try to present a more 'objective' tone of the show where "both sides" of an issue are held in balance. And this to me is also one of the key differences that distinguishes political messaging from the broader category of "social commentary" -- a clear position has been taken that pertains to matters of some political concern.

As Tomaluk points out, it is possible to overstate just how political is Star Trek is as a whole and I don't mean that every episode in every series is brimming with political messages to unpack. The only people overstating their case, however, are the fans of Nu-Trek who try to justify the political messaging of Nu-Trek by picking a few examples in Old Trek and then say, "see, it was always this way!"
I also want to suggest that there's a lot more going on politically across Star Trek than most viewers would credit as such. Beyond the more obvious analogies to racism, sexism, and colonialism, there are also recurring statements on socio-economics such as capitalism that is often highlighted when an outsider (hohoho we don't need money anymore!) or Ferengi appears. A lot of this may fly under the radar because these kinds of messages are distinct from those found in Nu-Trek, and but also, as Jeffrey's Tube rightly points out, we may now take for granted a lot of what may have struck the viewer as more progressive or controversial at the time. There also may be a point in the future where all the 'displacement of Indigenous people' story lines don't register as political because they no longer have a recognizable real-world reference.
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Quincy
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Aw, man. I have officially seen everything. Booming is defending Discovery. And I am (mostly) agreeing with Booming. Now all we need is for Omicron to defend Booming and Elliot to defend DS9 and I'm absolutely certain that I'll look out my window at that exact moment to see Satan leading a flock of pigs south for the winter. The only word fitting enough to leave my lips will be Hallelujah!


@Rahul
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 8:51am (UTC -6)
"And classic Trek dealt with topics like the Cold War, colonialism, imperialism which are political in nature. But was classic Trek forcing some kind of unequivocal and consistent political / ideological narrative upon the viewer? I never felt it was."

"The point I’d like to make in contrasting classic Trek with DSC/PIC is that I have a great deal of comfort in viewing the former as I don’t feel like I’m being force-fed a specific political or ideological narrative."


You never felt it was overly political because you most likely agreed with whatever politics you were watching. Suuuuuuurrrrreee Abe Lincoln wasn't political on TOS: "The Savage Curtain". Uhura was indeed a rather "charming Negress!" I certainly thought so! ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

It's the same reason all those suddenly disenchanted Sunday football widow makers somehow never saw any politics before Kaepernick took the advice of a US Military Veteran and started taking the knee during the national anthem, instead of sitting down as he had been doing.

MAGICALLY, military jets flying over the Super Bowl weren't political. MAGICALLY, all the hoopla made over Patrick Tillman quitting the NFL and joining the military wasn't political. MAGICALLY, $5.4 million in taxpayer dollars paid out to 14 NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 for them to put on elaborate "patriotic" salutes to the military were not political. MAGICALLY, nothing was EVER political in the NFL until Colin Kaepernick.

This is of course bull$#. The national anthem itself is political and has absolutely nothing legitimate to do with any sporting event besides the Olympics and the Army / Navy game, plus a handful of other events. Every last one of the individuals screaming keep the politics out of football, while wholly and solely pointing fingers at Kaepernick's kneecaps are so chock full of excrement that I bet you could see the raw sewage sloshing around behind the eyes. I for one vote we get rid of ALL the politics in football, not just the ones that some folks don't like.

Star Trek, on the other hand, has always been full of politics, from being white on the RIGHT side to gay rights cross-dressed up as androgyny all the way to god forbid space environmentalism (Jesus Christ on a crucifix). Discovery's politics has at times left my stomach contents on my computer screen, but not much more than TOS, TNG, etc. As long as the politics doesn't override the sci fi, I'm good to go. And so far Discovery fits that bill.


@The Queen
Mon, Feb 14, 2022, 12:36am (UTC -6)

Yeah. It comes from Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. The entire universe is being terraformed by a dark matter species referred to as Photino Birds (stupid name, I know) for the past umpteen billion of years, making it increasingly hostile to baryonic lifeforms. No one even realizes this is happening until an alien godlike species known as the Xeelee discover their existence, even then they're the only ones who know.

The Photino Birds don't even realize baryonic life exists until they are attacked by the Xeelee. The PBs have one weakness, gravity. The Xeelee use black holes to kill them. Unfortunately for the Xeelee, they have several unassailable strengths: time, immortality, and the 80 percent of the material universe which consists of dark matter. The Xeelee decide they can't win and start building a way out of this universe to one that presumably doesn't contain PBs.

While that's a bit involved for a Trekkian plot, the basic concept of godlike lifeforms being blissfully as unaware of us ants as we would be of them had they not accidentally bulldozed a planet with what amounts to a gold dredge is very Trekkian indeed.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, the review is exactly the kind of length an episode like this demanded. There will be episodes that demand more text, and those that demand less. It doesn't feel like you rushed or "cheated" the episode because this one is shorter.

You were too generous with the stats by a full one, but hey. I'll consider that star solely for giving Owo a spotlight, and then we can agree, heh.
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Mal
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 1:50am (UTC -5)
@Jammer asks, "How's this review for cutting to the chase? It's a necessary component of keeping pace and not getting behind, especially after the week I've had. Are shorter reviews a welcome change? Is less actually more? Are you happy with life?”

Yes, super happy with life - the sun is out and hitting me through the bay windows while I sip some warm coffee - hope all is well with you and yours :)

Great review (even if, as usual, I disagree with your star rating).

I don’t mind you getting right to the point, and I really appreciate you keeping pace with the show (this is going to be huge as we move into the coming Trek storm - SNW, PIC, PROD, DISC - my gods!).

That said, less isn’t actually more. More is more,

https://youtu.be/ab6GyR_5N6c?t=60

But an episode like “All In” doesn’t really call for so much more. I have to believe that when an episode warrants it, the Spirit will move you, and your classic-length reviews will surface again from time to time.

But life, as we all know, doesn’t always give us freedom to pursue our hobbies when we want, and to the extent we want. I’m just grateful that you choose to share this hobby with us.

@Jammer noticed, "we get here the revelation that the DMA is actually a mining device being used to collect the energy needed to power Species 10-C's presumed superior technology. But notice how this changes nothing in terms of the mission or how the characters approach it, only reinforcing what they already know they need to do.”

Funny that.

Fortunately, nothing like that would ever happen in the world we live in today ;)

“This is the power of Math, people!”
https://youtu.be/cof4oP8uoxw?t=22

The great thing about classic Trek - TNG or TOS or whatever - is that moment when they would Discover something new and realize they had to change their entire approach. Sadly, that’s not how modern, highly politicized science works on Discovery.

Take TNG’s Galaxy’s Child. When they fired phasers at the space baby, it just sucked up the energy. So they changed tactics, and soured the energy,

RIKER: Weapons status?
WORF: Auxiliary power only. Two seconds phaser fire available.
LAFORGE: Ensign, power readings.
PAVLIK: We're on auxiliary generators. life support is functioning, that's about all.
LAFORGE: Keep your eye on that generator console. We've got less than six minutes to get that baby off our back before his relatives get here. Whatever we try, Junior responds by sucking up more energy.
LEAH: Commander, I have a thought. If you're interested.
LAFORGE: Of course. What is it?
LEAH: If the baby is nursing, perhaps what we need is to find a way to sour the milk. If we could contaminate the energy he's feeding on, we could try to
LAFORGE: make it unpalatable somehow.

That’s the power of science. Clear, unemotional, logical thinking. That’s what Spock personified.

https://youtu.be/4HczsDUSNtg

Another example is the Borg. In “Hugh” Picard decided not to go with the virus route to destroying the collective. And why should he? It would still be a few years before that worked for Jeff Goldblum in ID4 and it worked for Arthur C. Clarke in 3001?

In “Descent” Vice-Admiral Nechayev tears Picard a new one, stating quite clearly that all weapons, even genocidal weapons, were to be on the table,

NECHAYEV: Your priority is to safeguard the lives of Federation citizens, not to wrestle with your conscience. Now I want to make it clear that if you have a similar opportunity in the future, an opportunity to destroy the Borg, you are under orders to take advantage of it. Is that understood?

PICARD: Yes, sir.

In some ways, the entire Cardassian arc, from “The Wounded” through “Journey’s End” through "Preemptive Strike” over to DS9 and “The Maquis parts 1 & 2” all the way to "For the Uniform” and ultimately to "By Inferno's Light”, the whole arc is an exercise in showing how disastrous things can be for innocent bystanders when the Federation allows its ideology to get in the way of reality.

Not to say that other Captains haven’t been as disastrously wrong as Michael. But they had the decency to admit when they were wrong. Take Kirk. Here’s what Kirk says about the Klingons at the beginning of "Undiscovered Country,"

KIRK: You know how I feel about this. They're animals!

SPOCK: Jim, there is an historic opportunity here.

KIRK: Don't believe them! Don't trust them!

SPOCK: They are dying.

KIRK: Let them die!

And here is what Kirk says upon deeper reflection,

Captain's log: I can never forgive them for the death of my boy. To me our mission to escort the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit is problematic, at best. Spock says this could be an historic occasion, and I'd like to believe him. But how on earth can history get past people like me?

As with pursuing peace with the Klingons, or peace at any cost with the Cardassians, the plan in “All In” was voted on by some interstellar coalition of the willing, and I imagine it would be a major bitch to get them all together in a room for another vote to change course. So we’re stuck with the plan as is. Which means every new data point has to fit the ongoing narrative, both in the episode, and the the plan the writers have put together for the season. Just a total coincidence that the plan also jives with their ideology.

The unmediated ideology behind Discovery doesn’t allow for the kind of self reflection that Kirk or Sisko undertook. Michael can never be wrong. She has to give the Big Monologue in which she explains how she was right the whole time. Even when she gets chewed out by the freaking President, then - totally unlike Picard with Nechayev - it is Michael who ends up having to have the final word. Cause it is she alone who is right, who will save the day.

Kirk could be wrong (Undiscovered Country).

Picard could be wrong (Descent).

Sisko could be wrong ("I've failed as the Emissary, and for the first time in my life I've failed in my duty as a Starfleet officer. I need time to think. Clear my head. But I can't do it here, not on the station, not now. I need to get away - and find a way to figure out how to make things right again. And I have to make things right again, Jadzia. I have to.”).

Janeway could be wrong (in “Parallax” she ended up choosing B’Elanna as Chief Engineer despite serious reservations).

Archer could be wrong (“Cogenitor”).

But even when Michael is insubordinate, even when she starts a giant war, she is still technically right.

And that’s really the crux of the the problem with this show. As wonderful as it is to see @Booming defending Discovery and all of us actually agreeing (wow!), one thing @Booming asks, really gets to the nub of the problem,

Q: “Then why did she not stay a pariah?"
A: Because that was the Plan.

The cardinal sin is in the third episode “Context is for Kings.” This is what I wrote at the time,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-dsc/s1/context-is-for-kings.php#comment-44219

"Why bother with long-form story telling if you’re just going to skip ahead 6 months? Even nBSG waited till the end of 3 seasons before it pulled this crap. At least give us one episode featuring Michael’s prison life, before you thrust us back into the doom and gloom that is this particular version of the trek verse. Voyager had the decency to give us 30 days with Paris in the brig (VOY’s “Thirty Days”). And DS9 had a whole lota prison hijinks in the "torture O’Brien" episode “Hard Time.” Kassidy went away and did her time. How long were various cylons locked up in nBSG - hard to even keep track - fuck, some were in so long, they got pregnant and others gave birth! Roslyn did her time. Gauis did his. And boy did he come out a changed man. Lord knows Tom Zarek did his time. I know STD is supposed to be some CBS All Access version of Game of Thrones - so how about Ned in jail. Or Cerci. Or Tyrion (how many times does he get locked up?). And perhaps the best prison episode of all was on Babylon 5, season 4, “Intersections in Real Time.”

See, if you want to show that someone is different after time in the slammer, you probably want to show time in the slammer. Show. Not tell.

But “Context is for Kings” tries to get away with a quick and dirty version (sans context, if you will), by staging a prison food fight on Discovery.”

We all talk about how TOS was political - and sure, it was. Gene wanted a woman first officer. The Network said no. And so it has taken 60 years for Gene’s vision of the female first office on the bridge of the flagship Enterprise to come to screen (assuming what we understand of Strange New Worlds casting is correct).

Gene was a socialists at the very least (maybe even further left), but the USSR was The Enemy, so the most he could get was a young Russian kid who was more often than not the butt of a joke.

Gene had a little more luck getting communism into TNG. Thus Picard’s famous speech in Neutral Zone,

PICARD: A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We have grown out of our infancy.

It took Mark Twain to come back to the future to call bullshit in "Time's Arrow part 2",

CLEMENS: So there're a privileged few who serve on these ships, living in luxury and wanting for nothing. But what about everyone else? What about the poor? You ignore them.

TROI: Poverty was eliminated on Earth a long time ago, and a lot of other things disappeared with it. Hopelessness, despair, cruelty.

CLEMENS: Young lady, I come from a time when men achieve power and wealth by standing on the backs of the poor, where prejudice and intolerance are commonplace and power is an end unto itself. And you're telling me that isn't how it is anymore?

TROI: That's right.

CLEMENS: Where's Raffi at? Where the fuck is Raffi? Where's Raffi, String? String! Where the fuck is Raffi? Huh? Stringer?!

https://youtu.be/bLDdVuYOgSI?t=42

Gene wanted someone black on the bridge. And he got it. But while she's not exactly a secretary, Uhura was basically a receptionist - Captain you have a call on line 1 coming in from Star Fleet Command.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy Gene got away with as much as he did. I completely agree with @Jeffrey’s Tube, that in the future, people "will little note that Burnham is a black woman, or that the show features a gay couple and a transgender couple. Nothing will stand out about the way they’re portrayed.”

But Gene's politics was tempered by the “suits” and the result was a show that actually survived 3 years. And more than that, it could focus and some truly excellent ideas with insanely high-level execution. Discovery has none of that.

The “problem” with today’s niche offerings is that if they have just enough of a revenue stream, there is no one to save the Gene’s-of-the-world from themselves. On Discovery, communist Chekov is essentially the captain. And he’s a woman. And he’s black. And his name is still a guy’s name - Michael - but holy hell, we have a Plan, and we’re going to stick to it. So Michael always has to be right.

[Fun aside, good luck getting a good-guy Russian horny young Chekov on the bridge of Discovery in this woke era! Oh god, now I sound like @Rahul...]

And so to answer @Booming’s question, the Plan was always for Michael to have one additional check-mark beside her name - woman (check), black (check), man’s name (check), and ex-con (check). Thus the brief stint in the slammer.

No need to show how she came to any of these traits. Or how they made who who she is. They simply are check-marks for the type of lead character they want. Because as @Jason R. says, "for the latest generation, being a paraiah is a badge of strength and moral authority." The story be damned.

Gene on the other hand had the strong arm of the “suits” even with TNG. Remember what we thought Riker would be? Picard would sit at home, and Riker would go out and be the Kirk for a new generation. But then Patrick Stewart fucking killed it, so they got him to stick around for the later seasons of the show, and Picard's particular brand of Shakespearean diplomacy dominated the story arcs.

Discovery cannot pivot. Saru cannot be Captain. Owo cannot be a Russian horny young man.

They could go a million years into the future, and they’d still be the same show.

They have an ideological plan (as did Gene). But unlike with Gene, there are no adults watching the store.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal

I just need to point out that Gene Roddenberry was an unabashed, unrepentant capitalist, not a socialist. He was all about that money. Two examples that readily come to mind are Spock's IDIC pin (solely so he could merchandise it) and writing lyrics for the TOS theme song that weren't actually real and would never be performed, but allowed him to claim half the royalties.

In fact, didn't he run a Star Trek merchandising company under-the-table that he had the studio give the rights to, even though that was self-dealing and not allowed? I'm not sure. I'd have to check.

Oh. And the movies. They wanted him to not really be involved after The Motion Picture, and he fought it like crazy, and then they cut him a big check, and then he quieted down.

Guy liked money. He liked money A LOT. He even liked taking it out of the hands of his friends and collaborators to line his own pockets. So. Definitely not socialist.

Oh and let's not forget Kirk's speech at the end of The Omega Glory, eh? Reportedly that was all Gene. He wasn't Team USSR. He didn't share USSR values.

He was a humanist. In this day an age we think that capitalists aren't humanists. And you know what, in this day and age, maybe they aren't. But they're not mutually exclusive by nature.
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Booming
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 3:22am (UTC -5)
@Bryan
About the divisive thing. I could certainly be wrong. For you intent is the deciding factor but an issue itself can be divisive and an issue cannot have intent. I think we are both right. Where all those English language students when you need one?!

It is somewhat fascinating that TNG for example is now seen by many here as uncontroversial even though it is pretty much looks like a fully formed socialist utopia. Sure people say that it only looks like it because it is post scarcity but still.

@Quincy
"Aw, man. I have officially seen everything. Booming is defending Discovery."
On several occasion I have said positive things about Discovery, mostly about Burnham's hairstyles and I will continue to defend those. Praise where praise is due.

@Jeffrey's tube
"I just need to point out that Gene Roddenberry was an unabashed, unrepentant capitalist, not a socialist. "
Ok, that is a common mistake in what a capitalist and what a socialist is. A socialist can be a successful business(wo)men. For example, several financiers of the bolshevik revolution in Russia were. Capitalism is a mode of production and a form of capital usage (among other things). A Babylonian silk merchant 5000 years ago wasn't a capitalist, even though that person made a lot of money. Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's Buzz Aldrin, was the son of a rich capitalist and worked on and off (he was often in other countries fighting in revolutionary uprisings) in the company of his father in Manchester. He used the money to finance Marx. While working in a capitalist enterprise he wrote the communist manifest with Marx. :)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91zdHwFmpRL.jpg

Roddenberry was a fairly successful businessman but he was no capitalist. One could even argue that if you work in art you cannot be a capitalist, even though Marvel is certainly trying. Was he pro capitalism? Majel Barret said that Roddenberry was a hard core communist/maoist (but I'm not sure about the sources, so take this with a grain of salt) and as I said above TNG certainly looks like a socialist utopia. A socialist may want things and the only way to get those in a money based society is money.
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Tomalak
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 4:02am (UTC -5)
"TNG certainly looks like a socialist utopia"

Maybe I missed the socialist utopia episodes because we almost never see 24th century earth and what we do see is very Starfleet-focused. It's true that we're told money doesn't exist in Star Trek but again, this isn't sketched out in any detail at all because it obviously doesn't make much sense the moment you think about it. Basic questions like "Would anyone be a waiter or tech support for free?", "Who actually decides who runs a company if there are no shareholders?" and "If Bob and I both want to live in that lovely penthouse overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, who gets it in a world without money?" go unanswered.

If you're seeing socialism rather than throwaway lines about no money than you're seeing what you want to see.
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Bryan
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 4:36am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"For you intent is the deciding factor but an issue itself can be divisive and an issue cannot have intent."

Actually I think the intent of a message or issue can clearly be conveyed in TV/film through tone and narrative framing. It clues us in as to whether what we're seeing is something the author thinks we should be cheering or booing.

But whether or not you can unambiguously read intent isn't the point. In order to determine whether or not a message is divisive, you must examine what is intrinsic to the message itself. On the other hand, when you examine whether a message is controversial, your analysis is mostly extrinsic to the message -- you need to look at the audience's reception at the very least. Hence, how controversial something is can change over time due to the changing reception. Whereas, "The Birth of a Nation (1915)" was, and always will be divisive by my definition.

"It is somewhat fascinating that TNG for example is now seen by many here as uncontroversial even though it is pretty much looks like a fully formed socialist utopia."

Yeah, it really is interesting that so many people gloss over that. If TNG came out in the 50s it might have raised some alarms but socialism is no longer the bugbear of our times. Identity politics is now the hot button issue that has everyone up in arms. I also think that the socio-economics of TNG safely linger in the background in most episodes and the show had great stories that people of any political persuasion could be drawn into. It was seldom the case that anything pertaining to plot or character required the viewer to buy into a socialist
mindset in order to enjoy those stories. The politics of Nu-Trek as showcased through the story, however, is definitely gonna make the viewer go "yay!" or "nay!" depending upon their own political views.
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Booming
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 6:04am (UTC -5)
@Tomalak
Abolishing money is actually communistic, not socialistic. I meant stuff like free housing, healthcare, food, transportation, energy, education and no wage labor, maybe also stuff like no advertisement, no stock market, no banks. Of course, you can now say that maybe there are advertisements and so on but as you certainly know you cannot prove a negative (not actually true but in this case it applies).

"this isn't sketched out in any detail at all because it obviously doesn't make much sense the moment you think about it."
I disagree. So far capitalism is the dominant economical system because it is the most effective in fulfilling societal needs but it is far from effective in an absolute sense. It produces gigantic amounts of waste, because of overproduction and an ignorance for future costs. It is also fairly unstable because of overproduction crises. With modern AI and modern forms of participation we certainly could do better. We are also not far from the point where a huge chunk of the population will no longer be needed in the production process. Some advance ideas that try to limit the impact of that through stuff like universal basic income but that is really only a bandage for capitalism losing huge parts of what made it work in the first place. Anybody with foresight will understand that probably a majority of the population either will have to be financed in a way that guarantees a fulfilling life or society will only provide enough so that these people can barely survive without any hope for a better life. A is again pretty close to socialism and B will probably lead to a socialist revolution. Of course, it could always go in different way. A collapse of society for example but if that doesn't happen we will either life in a socialist world or in the world of Robocop.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEYoY3NwF24

@Bryan
" Whereas, "The Birth of a Nation (1915)" was, and always will be divisive by my definition."
Was that movie controversial at release? I know that President Wilson was really racist and the KKK was at an all time high.

" It was seldom the case that anything pertaining to plot or character required the viewer to buy into a socialist mindset in order to enjoy those stories."
Lots of stuff was hidden in plain sight. It wasn't on the nose but it was always there. One of the strange things about america is that in many aspects a majority of Americans is for stuff socialists want when you actually ask specific question like free healthcare which has an approval of 63% in the population. around the same number is for tuition free public colleges. The list goes on. You often have two thirds majorities for many socialistic programs. The oligarchic elites have different interests, though.
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Mal
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 6:33am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube, I take your point. Certainly in early Star Trek, Gene was quite comfortable with money in the future. Take Pike in “The Cage” contemplating life after an early retirement from Starfleet,

BOYCE: And do what?
PIKE: Well, for one thing, go home. Nice little town with fifty miles of parkland around it. Remember I told you I had two horses, and we used to take some food and ride out all day.
BOYCE: Ah, that sounds exciting. Ride out with a picnic lunch every day.
PIKE: I said that's one place I might go. I might go into business on Regulus or on the Orion colony.
BOYCE: You, an Orion trader, dealing in green animal women, slaves?
PIKE: The point is this isn't the only life available. There's a whole galaxy of things to choose from.

So men certainly went into business in the Star Trek of Pike’s future.

Or take that great businessman Harry Mudd. Here’s what he says when he finds out the Enterprise is heading to a mining colony,

KIRK: Mister Spock. Miss McHuron, would you mind. Mister Spock, will you contact the miners on Rigel 12? Notify them that we'll need the lithium crystals immediately upon arrival.
MUDD: Oh, you beautiful galaxy! Oh, that heavenly universe! Well, girls, lithium miners. Don't you understand? Lonely, isolated, overworked, rich lithium miners! Girls, do you still want husbands, hmm? Evie, you won't be satisfied with a mere ship's captain. I'll get you a man who can buy you a whole planet.

Rich! Rich! Rich!

Of course at this point, 1965, Gene was 45. He had flown in WWII. He had been a police officer. And he had been a freelance writer. None of which sound like they got him very much money. So no doubt he was obsessed with money.

Things were very different by 1986. By then Gene was Rich! Rich! Rich! By then he was what @Booming might call a successful socialist businessman. And so here’s what Star Trek economics started to look like in The Voyage Home,

GILLIAN: Don't' tell me they don't use money in the twenty-third century.
KIRK: Well, they don’t.

Uh huh. Sounds like a little revisionist history. Pike and Mudd are calling, they’d like to have a word with their bankers.

And so by the time TNG premiered in 1987, Gene was 66, filthy rich, and ready to transition the Trek verse from mere socialist utopia, to full fledged communism.

PICARD: The economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the twenty-fourth century.
LILY: No money! That means you don't get paid.
PICARD: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.

And of course communism in Star Trek ended the way communism always ends,

RAFFI: I saw you, sitting back in your very fine château. Those big oak beams, heirloom furniture. Yeah, I'd show you around my estate, but it's more of a hovel, so that would just be, you know, humiliating.

And so we end up right back where we started with Christopher Pike in “The Cage” contemplating life as an Orion trader. Only now,

Welcome to Freecloud. Whether you are here for the maximum-security financial and information services or the minimal restrictions on personal liberty. Come. Freecloud keeps your secrets.

https://youtu.be/w5iOMdLj6Pk

So is it any wonder Michael and Book settle their differences in “All In" by who has the most money? All this has happened before. All this will happen again.
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Sigh2000
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 7:21am (UTC -5)
@Mal

Making a fortune is part of the original thought process of many TOS characters, as you point out so correctly. AND They seem to be secondary ones and often less than well-esteemed ones. What are the traders Pike sits down with? Humans, but coarse, and one is I think may possibly be the model for the later Ferengi. His values are expressed in the paraphrase 'wouldn't you say that green dancer is worth a man's soul?' Pike hates the guy. He also hates himself for sitting down with such. If Roddenberry was responsible for that thought, I would say that he had issues with wealth.

The miners on Rigel are richer than Croesus but will dig alone on a g-- - forsaken planet for years to build their fortunes (just a little bit more, then I'll get out for good). Strong resemblance to the Bogey and Co., in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Perhaps Roddenberry saw that flick?

Eve finds them to be loathsome. Me too.

Whether exchange was handled through currency or in-kind is a separate issue. I whatever way wealth was registered in the Trek universe the scripts try to teach the viewers something about correct values. Some would call this socialism; others would call this responsible, humanistic capitalism. A third group would say that humanism and capitalism are forever in opposition.

Apart from "credits" are the only relics of currency mentioned in TOS the quatloos on Triskellion?
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Rahul
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 8:23am (UTC -5)
@Tomalak

I agree with your arguments.

"If you're seeing socialism rather than throwaway lines about no money than you're seeing what you want to see."

Exactly. And I don't see socialism in TNG (and classic Trek in general). Trek tries to portray a futuristic utopian world. But it has nothing to do with socialism. Long-term socialism would never result in any kind of utopia. It would bring about communism or nazism.

One little example that comes to mind is "In the Cards." Jake needs Nog's latinum to bid on the baseball card for Sisko. The 2 engage in a discussion of how the Federation doesn't use money but obviously the Ferengi do. Jake's arguments to Nog makes no practical sense. It's just more handwaving around the issue of a medium of exchange in the future world of the Federation.
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Quincy
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
Roddenberry was pushing utopia, not necessarily socialism. He never really explored how this utopia was supposed to come about or be administered to. It just existed. Presumably, if you have magic devices called replicators that can create most anything you can imagine, normal laws of distribution, supply and demand go out the window. All you need at that point are blueprints (data), replicators, raw materials, and energy. What you do NOT have is anything we've seen before, whether socialist or capitalist.
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Booming
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy
That's really going to the heart of it. Replicators. Roddenberry could portray a socialist utopia without having to explain how anything of it works because that would have been boring and complicated. If that quote is accurate that Roddenberry had transitioned from kind of lefty to harcore communist in the 1980s then it really all make sense. It's kind of genius. By adding replicators he could portray many leftist dreams and people were ok with it. Dreams for Americans, in many European countries we have all these things. I once listened to a Chinese economist who argued that the most socialist country on the planet was probably one of the Scandinavians and that these were for the time being probably the closest a country could get to actual socialism. The Enterprise bridge certainly looks like it was designed in an upper class ikea.

TOS is a different animal, though. I think Roddenberry had less of a free hand than with TNG.
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mosley
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
i dont really have much of an opinion about where this discussion went, but can i just chime in to say, wow, what a stinker of an episode that was.

its been mentioned somewhere in the discussion already: at the end of the day, all of the political agendas, all the good will, all the good intentions or the nuances of how to have star trek doing its political thing (i agree it always kind of did to varying degrees, and i like it for it - when done right) - none of that matters if the show doesnt entertain.

i was not entertained. to put it mildly.

but hey, we got some lines from Owo! what can i say: even with the tough hand shes being dealt, like, not getting to act for 4 years, and when you get some lines, it starts with thanking Ye Holy Burnam for the opportunity (made me throw up a bit in my mouth), and then they throw you into the worst star wars clichee fight scene and throw a good old woman vs. man, oh my, who is gonna win predictability in there...

...and shes still acting in circles around the shows lead.

i do find that kind of refreshing, in a weird way. sometimes, when i watch this show and cant help but flat out hate burnam at this point, the "uuuh, its just because shes a black woman!" narratives get to me and i question the validity of my, er, reservations about that particular actress.

so thinking "can she take burnams place, please?" whenever Owo utters one of the few lines they give her, is kind of reassuring that its not that. it reminds me that, no, i do not care about gender and skin color, despite an army of people trying to tell me what i feel and why. i just care about good acting. and people who try to lecture me about my true motives should go and....cuddle a tribble or something.

oh yeah, btw, way to turn the potentially super super interesting topic of what became of the dominion into a throwaway tribble joke. this show is truly a parade of wasted opportunities. but hey, we got to see burnams (obviously awesome!) poker playing skills. yay.
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Tomalak
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Quincy, yes. A world in which healthcare workers, including the people who develop medical innovations, all work for free may or may not be plausible. But either way it is not any more socialist or communist than a world in which people earn a living that way. By that logic, every time someone volunteers their labour for a local charity, the world gets a tiny bit more socialist, and every time someone gives up their voluntary position it becomes a bit more capitalist. In the end money is just a medium of exchange, not some kind of magic bullet that stops socialism.

If replicators make a lot of "stuff" so cheap/free to produce that no money need change hands, you can say that people would become less money driven in response, or you can say that they would direct their resources towards those things replicators can't make, like other people's time. No doubt there would be a mix of both. But again, you don't even begin to get away from questions like how you allocate the remaining scarce resources like that penthouse apartment overlooking the most beautiful city locations, or how you get people to do the less attractive roles for free.

The idea Star Trek is socialist, rather than a show that avoided these issues for decades, is pure wish fulfillment.
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Booming
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 8:11am (UTC -5)
@tomalak
Ok I have posted this quite like five times but here it is again:"Ronald D. Moore commented, "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that."
How much more clearer could it be?!

"A world in which healthcare workers, including the people who develop medical innovations, all work for free may or may not be plausible."
First, they are not working for nothing and then crawl into a ditch to starve until the next shift. Everybody can have any food, clothing and so on. Furthermore, caring for the sick is a very fulfilling job for many.

"By that logic, every time someone volunteers their labour for a local charity"
I have heard libertarians argue that all charity work is bad because it could be paid work. I heard communist argue that charity work is bad because it is effectively privatizing care. :)

I only mentioned replicators to highlight a point. Specifically why did Roddenberry put replicators into the show? What purpose do they serve for the world they exist in? How would the world look like if they did not exist?

"But again, you don't even begin to get away from questions like how you allocate the remaining scarce resources like that penthouse apartment overlooking the most beautiful city locations, or how you get people to do the less attractive roles for free."
If you have a less attractive job you get a penthouse apartment with a nice view. One could also mention that bad apartments only exist because there are poor. If there are no poor, then anybody can have at least a somewhat nice apartment. Again these are not real problems, more like small issues.

I get it 99.9% media you consume has capitalism as an important element. People want money, try to get money, fetishize or vilify money. Do yourself a favor and actively notice for one day how often money is mentioned and in what way in the media you consume. Your entire life you have been told that socialism leads to stalinist Russia/EVIL. So even when there is a clear decree by the series creator that money doesn't exist in any form then that cannot be because you cannot like something that promotes something you consider evil.

Hey, you still have the other 99.9 percent and a lot of that is very much pro capitalism. So you like one show that is anticapitalistic. Big deal. As long as you don't start dreaming of this scene to often it's fine. ;)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4BRe0ZKTAc


And hey I can watch shows that glorify capitalism.
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Tomalak
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 10:37am (UTC -5)
"Again these are not real problems, more like small issues."

They're absolutely fundamental. Even if you can replicate meals and gadgets you can't replicate real people's labour and time, nor can you give endless numbers of people that perfect penthouse apartment overlooking that particular beautiful spot. The implication that these issues of scarciuty would simply melt away if you scrapped currencies or invented replicators is a fantasy.

It's difficult to know how to respond to the rest of your post as you haven't actually addressed anything I said - just taken a few lines from it and made irrelevant points that don't support your argument and don't contradict mine.

I am genuinely baffled that you could believe I denied currency no longer exists in Star Trek. If you work in academia you honestly need to work on your reading comprehension if you could possibly read me and come to that conclusion. The whole of my last post was about how abolishing currency doesn't get you any closer to socialism or communism. Everything ok, hun?
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Tomalak
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Sorry, that was a bit rude and unfair. I have complained repeatedly about you diverting discussion away from Star Trek on these boards, so I do now want to bend over backwards to encourage you when you stay on topic. :-)

Clearly we disagree and I don't think you have addressed my points or understood some of them, but apologies for how I worded that.
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TheRealTrent
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Tomalak said: "The idea Star Trek is socialist, rather than a show that avoided these issues for decades..."

The perception that the franchise is "socialist" is due to early TNG. Roddenberry's beliefs tilted toward "socialism" (his wife says his house was full of Maoist literature), and so when he had power to make a new show, he went full Space Commie. When he died, things softened, and the franchise was pulled in different directions by different writers. For every Gene Coon or Roddenberry, for example, you have a Manny Coto or Ira Behr, who are pretty right wing. As more and more writers and shows enter the franchise, the "ideology" of the franchise then becomes more schizophrenic.


Tomalak said: "In the end money is just a medium of exchange"

The economist Georgesu-Roegen used to rally against the "money is just a medium of exchange" meme. It's a subtle form of brainwashing which obfuscates where money comes from, how the right to credit creation was historically won (largely by private commercial cartels), how money is not "neutral", and how it is not merely a "medium" but itself an endogenously created commodity.

Most of the problems in the world are due to the false perception that money is just a "neutral medium of exchange". Capitalism's unsustainable growth rates, for example, are due to the grow-or-die imperative instigated by debt-based money. That the global majority is in poverty is similarly due to the nature of money (the value of a dollar is dependent on millions not having any).

The meme also distorts how money itself affects prices. The price of everything we buy is inflated by about 45% (a kind of stealth tax on disposable income toward costs for capital), while about half of our taxes are lost to interest (we would pay 50% less tax were there no cost for capital), the result being that roughly 50-75% of your average human's gross income is lost to interest to those who create money (private commercial banks, who "rent" money into the system).

The end result of all of this is that 80% of the population pays arbitrary interest to the richest 10%. And within the top 10% bracket the redistribution of wealth continues: the ‘poorer’ 80% pay interest to the richest 1%. So far from "neutral" and just a "medium of exchange", money is more properly described as a form of parasitism. And that's before it leads to knock-on effects on unsuspecting third parties whenever a supposed "free", "two party transaction" uses it.


Tomalak said: "The whole of my last post was about how abolishing currency doesn't get you any closer to socialism or communism."

It gets you closer, but you'd have to do other things as well. You'd need some form of "labor credits". Unlike traditional money, such hypothetical credits would not circulate within traditional markets. They'd also not be exchangeable for any means of production, and not be transmutable into capital. Once a purchase is made, the credit would then be destroyed or re-earned through labour. These ideas were quite popular for a while amongst scientists (Silvio Gessel, Frederick Soddy, Thomas Edison, even Einstein in a way), who were quite aghast when they started looking into how banking systems worked.

Like Trek, this would all perhaps be complemented with regular allowances (caloric/energy allowances and socialized free stuff) and some kind of system which allows cybernetic requests (moderated by computers which holistically gauge resources, environmental costs, transportation, production footprints, demand, consumer wants etc).

Businesses and corporations would also have to be restructured. Rather than how they are currently set-up - autocratic and dictatorial - the hierarchical structure of corporations would be flattened or rounded, with the business then democratized and run co-operatively. These would then probably be hemmed in by ecological/holistic limits set by a body above.

Land would be handled like how we instinctively handled all land discovered after the Age of Colonialism. Like the Moon and Antarctica today, everyone would be a kind of shareholder. As for the classic "Who gets the waterfront property?!" problem, some futurists see the best stuff given to public institutions (most of the Chicago lakefront is held by a trust to ensure it stays public access, for example), re-wilded, or rotated amongst the populace. And of course a post-capitalist society would likely be a motel society. People would constantly move and experience new places.

Note too that a lot of "in demand places" are desirable because they confer a certain social status and are places populated by affluent people (which leads to them being well taken care of and catered). Conversely, there are plenty of beautiful places that aren't in high demand as places to live (and so are arbitrarily deemed "not beautiful"). A radically restructured society will thus have a "bigger distribution" of beauty.

A good book which tries to imagine what near-term post-capitalist societies might look like, is Kim Stanley Robinson's "Pacific Edge".
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Mal
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Socialism in Star Trek requires magic - magic technology. Turns out if you can break the laws of physics, you can break the laws of economics.

The Burn shows us how dependent the Federation is on faster-than-light travel. In a lot of ways it is the natural sequel to TNG’s "Force of Nature.” Simply put, there is no Star Fleet without warp technology,

PICARD: You know, Geordi, I spent the better part of my life exploring space. I've charted new worlds, I've met dozens of new species. And I believe that these were all valuable ends in themselves. Now it seems that all this while, I was helping to damage the thing that I hold most dear.

But equally essential to the Federation way of life, if slightly less visible, are other technologies, such as the replicator, that exist largely in the background.

We get a taste of that in “Up the Long Ladder,”

BRENNA: Why did you have to tell them that this magic wall can give them more than meat and potatoes? Now we'll never get a lick of work out of them.

Even cleaning is automated,

RIKER: That isn't necessary. The ship will clean itself.
BRENNA: Well, good for the bloody ship.

No need to cook, clean, or do laundry - no need even to commute thanks to the transporter,

https://youtu.be/LFNJFgEVQco?t=113

Pretty much all the problems of scarcity are solved.

By breaking the laws of physics, you also break the laws of economics, which is sometimes called the science of scarcity. If the laws of physics and economics no longer apply, then who’s to say that socialism couldn’t work?

Even places to live - given Earth’s weather control system + transporters + new planets - are exponentially expanded,

https://youtu.be/TW5uERC7HIY

Although there does still seem to be that other pernicious byproduct of socialism: rationing,

SISKO: I remember, Jake, I wasn't much older than you when I left for San Francisco to go to Starfleet Academy. For the first few days, I was so homesick that I'd go back to my house in New Orleans every night for dinner. I'd materialise in my living room at six thirty every night and take my seat at the table just like I had come down the stairs.

JAKE: You must have used up a month's worth of transporter credits.

And what technology there is, is not evenly distributed, especially outside Federation space,

PICARD: Mister Data, see to it that the replicators provide a blanket for every man, woman and child before nightfall. … In an age when their technology should be able to clothe and feed all of them, that they should have to live like this.

And always remember what happens when you take these technologies away,

QUARK: Let me tell you something about humans, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time, and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon.

Physics reasserts itself. So economics reasserts itself. And the shiny socialism of the future evaporates like a dream,

JANEL: Remember when the Ferengis opened up the Timor Two mine and there was a ten point drop in the price of pergium? Well, that came at a bad moment. We were overextended on some loans, our cash reserves were depleted, and a Jem'Hadar raid destroyed an entire shipment before it reached the refinery on Rigel Four.

And fundamental forces of supply and demand once again rule the day.

As @TheRealTrent says, money is more than a medium. Sometimes the medium is the message. Money is information. And the message is, what is abundant and what is scarce.

Magic is misdirection. Magical technology can hide that information, for a while. Scarcity disappears with a slight of hand. But pull back the curtain, and there is no escaping the yellow brick road,

https://youtu.be/G3AfIvJBcGo
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Bryan
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
In discussions of the vague socio-economics of Star Trek, and of TNG in particular, I think it's possible to put too fine a point on the supposedly 'post-scarcity economics' that most attribute to the invention of replicators.

Because this is actually not a universe where everyone magically gets what they want with the snap of their fingers. The Federation may have eliminated hunger and poverty but apparently they haven't eliminated everyone's desire to have their own ship. You don't see too many free citizens whizzing around space in their private ships even though you do see many with the need to book passage on ships for interstellar travel. Sometimes even these more modest hopes are dashed.

Also, notice that when Lily imagines that the Enterprise must have cost a lot of money to make because the sheer amount of steel required, Picard doesn't say that they can just replicate anything they want and that economics are a thing of the past. No, he says that money no longer exists and economics are DIFFERENT now.

Money may no longer exist but wealth has been centralized as indicated by the ability of governments to focus that wealth into military might through ship building. Wealth here mainly takes the form of energy rather than material resources, since that energy is used to make whatever material resources one needs assuming one has the sufficient energy requirements. This is necessary because E=MC2 means that the energy requirements to create matter would have to be immense. It also explains why replicator privileges or replicator credits are commonly referenced.

So economics cannot be magically hand-waved away, but hunger and poverty have been solved within the Federation, so how could they have gotten to that point in a purely capitalistic system? As we have seen in our own times, technological advancements have only served to amplify rather than amend the growing divide between the wealthy and impoverished. It is easier for me to imagine that that a centralized government must have already regulated economics in such a way to work towards solving these problems before replicators were even invented. Because otherwise they would sooner have been used for more profitable and less philanthropic ends. The holder of the first replicator patent would have clung to it tighter than a Ferengi would cling to his last bar of gold-pressed latinum.

The economic system that made this possible may not have been called "socialism" or "communism" per se but it must have echoed some of its strategies and aims, in contrast to all the bleak if not dystopian sci-fi we see that attempts to predict the future based on the present neo-liberal conditions of countries such as the USA, with its relative disdain for many decidedly un-capitalistic social reforms, and where the power and influence of multinational corporations begins to eclipse that of the governments of individual countries.
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Peter G.
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal,

"Magic is misdirection. Magical technology can hide that information, for a while. Scarcity disappears with a slight of hand. But pull back the curtain, and there is no escaping the yellow brick road,"Magic is misdirection. Magical technology can hide that information, for a while. Scarcity disappears with a slight of hand. But pull back the curtain, and there is no escaping the yellow brick road,"

Why should we need to insist that either (a) mankind can magically reach utopia without need of advances, or (b) that these advances are *merely* technological and don't change the basic economics behind the magic? Can there not be an argument for man/machine advancing together, the one needing the other? I see no reason to conclude that because it took warp drive and transporters to make the Federation that therefore this isn't a real advancement in human civilization. And further, that man itself isn't more advanced. That there are preconditions to maintain this advance seems to me a given.
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Sigh2000
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 12:19am (UTC -5)
@Bryan "So economics cannot be magically hand-waved away, but hunger and poverty have been solved within the Federation, so how could they have gotten to that point in a purely capitalistic system? As we have seen in our own times, technological advancements have only served to amplify rather than amend the growing divide between the wealthy and impoverished."

You make an important point here. If we accept the idea that the Federation developed after a horrific war which reduced population size enormously, we can see how a societal reset based on equity might finally have occurred. Private capital, and the associated lending institutions that supported the self-interested industrialists if not eradicated in that war, were greatly diminished. A govermental apparatus of a kind never fully sketched out by Trek, must have developed. It presumably featured a system of state-coordinated industries built on principles of achieving public good.

Through subsidies, housing and food are provided. Jobs are assigned based on affinities, talents and proclivities as determined through tests. Nobody is forced to do things that they detest. People perform useful work for the society (16 hour work week max :) Selfishness is discouraged a la Plato's republic. Having written all this, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the system was socialistic.

All of this comes into being before replicators. But as someone suggested (@Mal, on Feb. 20, I think) the economy was primarily organized around space fleet design, construction, operation, and refit.

What a great idea for a two-parter: a show about how the Federation actually developed. /s It would be followed by episodes depicting the invention of the replicator and the transporter and how the devices were introduced without creating social divisions or after some kind of struggle was averted. Perhaps this history got written up at some point? In the novels? No doubt.
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Mal
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 7:09am (UTC -5)
@Sigh2000 said, "What a great idea for a two-parter: a show about how the Federation actually developed. /s It would be followed by episodes depicting the invention of the replicator and the transporter and how the devices were introduced without creating social divisions or after some kind of struggle was averted.”

I’m not sure if the “/s” means you intended to be sarcastic, but I actually think this would be a great show. In a way that’s what Enterprise was supposed to be. 100 years after "First Contact”. 100 years under Vulcan direction. 100 years and now they had their first warp 5 engine. No replicators. No transporters.

But of course it was not meant to be. The writers got lazy, and transporters became a central technology. People were also just a little too “evolved” to be relatable. They tried to fix that with the deplorable arc in Season 4, but by then it really was way too late.

Same with Discovery. They should not have had replicators (at least not until they jumped forward in season 3). But of course the writers got lazy, and lo and behold, we got replicators.

https://youtu.be/pYYgR6PoKT0

So for two shows that should have been significantly constrained - which is great for story telling - one became unmoored in time (Enterprise) and one became unmoored in space (spore drive), universe (mirror), and time (31st century). These writers simply have no discipline. It makes for a boring journey.

As Ronald D. Moore said,

"Replicators are the worst thing ever. Destroys storytelling all the time. They mean there's no value to anything. Nothing has value in the universe if you can just replicate everything, so all that goes away. Nothing is unique; if you break something, you can just make another one. If something breaks on the ship, it's "Oh, no big deal, Geordie can just go down to engineering and make another doozywhatsit." Or they go to a planet and that planet needed something: "Oh, hey, let's make them what they need!" [The writers room] just hated it and tried to forget about it as much as possible.”
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Sigh2000
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 8:07am (UTC -5)
@Mal
Great post.
On my use of /s sarcasm. I am not reddit poster and now regret inserting it. It threw it in wantonly at the time. I should have used frowny face :(. Or nausea face... Thanks for recognizing that I probably was not being sarcastic about the potential of it being a great idea for a Trek show.

I really wanted to indicate the "sad irony" that the back stories of replicators, transporters and indeed about how the government of the federation developed were never written up in a responsible way. I knew that /s would mark a kind of intonation. I think that "/si" might be usefully introduced to indicate the notion "sad irony" that is if no other means of doing that exists.
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Booming
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Sorry guys, lots to do and I started watching outlander (horrible feminist propaganda none of you should watch. Get this, almost all the men wear skirts). I, against my better judgement, love it.

First I want to make a general comment about Ronald D Moore (outlander is developed by him). I always thought that he was a bad fit for Star Trek. He is obviously more interested in dystopian themes and war. That he thought that having no capitalism/financial anything in the Federation was BS and hated the replicator really only shows that he never really liked several central themes of Star Trek and there are probably other aspects he disliked about it. That is probably true for many of the writers. They wanted dark and disturbing. Roddenberry didn't.

@Tomalak
Nice that you apologized. Sorry, that I didn't address anything you saw as important. Maybe you could highlight what you see as a response-worthy?
I mentioned it once a few years back but studies show time and again that people in anonymous online communication have a tendency to interpret posts more negatively then they are often intended. One of the ways to circumvent that are smileys. It may not appear as such but normally I have a smile on my face while writing hoping that the person it is addressed to finds it maybe not convincing but at least interesting.

When my answers seem a little unfocused then that is down to me often responding to several people and some things may get mixed up. I also have a million things on my mind right now and this forum is more of an outlet where I can have interesting debates but I do not approach this with scientific rigour. I often cut down what I write because I think that nobody would want to read that. :)


@Mal
"Socialism in Star Trek requires magic - magic technology. Turns out if you can break the laws of physics,..."
Ok, I never said that right now we could have a socialist utopia. My point was that Star Trek, at least in Roddenberry's view, was one.

The replicator is not breaking the laws of physics. It is possible in theory. Everything that exists is energy. Creating a thing just means having a blue print down to the basic energy level and the energy needed for the thing itself and for the transformation process of that energy. If our technology gets sophisticated enough then it definitely should be possible. Hopefully it's ok that I do not go through every point but if you want a specific response to something then I'm happy to answer, of course. I mentioned that Chinese economist who thought that the Scandinavian countries are the most socialist countries and probably the maximum amount of socialism a country can achieve right now.

You seem to think soviet union when you hear socialism but that is really not accurate. For example India is an extremely capitalistic country right now and at least hundreds of thousands of people starve to death there every year. Does that mean that people starve in every capitalist country? No. Same goes for the soviet union when it comes to rationing or a dictatorial governing systems. I hear this argument about socialism all the time. It is a classic inductive fallacy.

@Bryan
Maybe anybody gets there own space ship. Maybe many people don't want one. It's not like a car for a teenager who wants to visit the sugar shack (dumbest name I could think of :). If you hop in a space ship you fly alone for weeks. Maybe non warp ships are fairly common if you want to see another planet in your system. Even the Bajoran rebels had a few and they were really poor. If you actually want to travel to another system meaning flying for days often weeks I rather do that on a bigger ship. Can you even imagine what happens if you have a technical problem?! How many warp core explosions are we willing to accept so that 19 year olds can zap around the galaxy? ;)
I think your point about all sci fi now being dystopian because the neo-liberal grip on society is tightening every year is pretty accurate. Every year we hear that the gap between rich and poor is widening. Money interests undermine the political systems more and more, China is certainly no viable alternative. Even Jimmy Carter called the US an oligarchy in 2015 and he is correct. So what can we hope for? Sci Fi seems to answer: Nothing. Maybe that is the reason why super heroes and fantasy are popular right now. As any literature student will tell you, both genres are fairly conservative in their outlooks. Super heroes are modern savior figures and fantasy has literal magic to solve things, strict hierarchies and clearly defined enemies who are just evil.

@Sigh2000
You make a good point about societies probably needing a lot of coordination after WW3. So maybe that is what we can hope for! WW3. Come on Ukraine, you can do it!!

"They mean there's no value to anything. Nothing has value in the universe if you can just replicate everything"
From a writer perspective that might be true but in reality I don't think that this makes much sense. We all live in the so called "first world" or "developed world". These societies aren't called affluent societies for no reason. If you have a favorite ice cream then you have basically an infinite supply of that ice cream. Does that mean that it has no value to you? Chocolate will still be tasty even if it was just energy 5 min prior. Ask Counselor Troi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPTccYPzbTU
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Booming
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 10:15am (UTC -5)
whoopsie, the last paragraph is @Mal not @Sigh2000
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Bryan
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
While it can't be decisively proven or disproven that anyone who wants a ship can have a ship (maybe all the private joy rides happen off-screen), the ships are just one example that stems from the idea that replicators are not necessarily the unlimited wish-granting genies that they might appear at first glance.

And as the Ronald D. Moore quote shows, replicators, if they are conceived as such, can certainly make things more difficult from a writer's perspective because good storytelling kinda depends on people wanting things that they can't immediately have. This is the case whether anyone has capitalistic sensibilities or not.

Apart from ships, I think there is more than one way to demonstrate that Star Trek is a show where people have wants that they can't always fulfill, some of which the capabilities of replicators are not relevant to at all, like particular jobs, living in a particular place, having a rare archeological artifact or powerful relic of a mysterious alien race, etc...
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Booming
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
@Bryan
"because good storytelling kinda depends on people wanting things that they can't immediately have."
Sure, in a sense but replicators were put in there because Roddenberry didn't want a show where material needs of people are a dominant topic. Apart from Star Trek Is there any Sci Fi show that doesn't have the struggle for material needs as a central theme? I cannot think of one.

"Apart from ships, I think there is more than one way to demonstrate that Star Trek is a show where people have wants that they can't always fulfill, some of which the capabilities of replicators are not relevant to at all, like particular jobs, living in a particular place, having a rare archeological artifact or powerful relic of a mysterious alien race, etc..."
Are we still talking about an utopian society or paradise? :)
Yes, there will always be some things that you cannot have, that the Picard cannot grant. What is your point?

I listened to this while writing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agupWxwvxaI
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Bryan
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
The point being that the utopic dimensions of Star Trek cannot be entirely reduced to post-scarcity economics, because it is only post-scarcity in the rather limited sense of basic survival needs. Economics and its problems and complexities, however, have always been more about wants than needs.

Therefore when we talk about Star Trek's utopia we need to talk about more than just replicators. We also need to talk about the politics, regulations, and socio-economic policies that might have made such utopia possible. Rather than talking as if those things are no longer relevant because all the problems and complexities of economics have been magically eliminated by replicators.
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Booming
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
@Bryan
Sorry if my answer is a little bit incoherent. I just saw a scene that was deeply disturbing.
It is described here by Ronald D Moore.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_ni1ItFpUg
and the scene with all parts is almost 20min long. The whipping itself is horrifying but there is so much more. So if you haven't been traumatized lately then give it a watch.

Anyway...
" Economics and its problems and complexities, however, have always been more about wants than needs."
Yes and Star Trek argues that we can reach a point where these things are no longer reason enough to turn men into wolves. Is that realistic? I guess all who are reading this will never find out which might be a curse or a blessing.

"We also need to talk about the politics, regulations, and socio-economic policies that might have made such utopia possible."
Are we solving the worlds problems right now. :) The shows certainly lack a clear answer but maybe just seeing that better future might encourage some to dream up something to get us there.
I'm sure we could come up with solutions that would bring about a more harmonious society then the current one. Don't you?

As I said I'm a little out of it. I hope this makes some sense.
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Bryan
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Yeah, I've watched Outlander til about Season 4 when it started to feel stale and formulaic. As an aside, many have criticized this show for its unflinching portrayals of rape and torture that border on sensationalism, but I think it's also more shrewd about its sensationalism than Nu Trek is about its own sensationalism. I'd prefer to have Ronald D Moore than Alex Kurtzman at the helm even though we could surely do better than either.

And yeah, I definitely agree that even if we can't see all the nuts and bolts that make the socio-economics of Star Trek functionally viable, it's possible that just watching the show and thinking about it could inspire future thought leaders to work towards something better than the status quo.

And that's one of the reasons I really wish that Star Trek has retained that kernel of hope, that things could be better than they are now. Because there's nothing inspiring or aspirational about using Star Trek as a mirror to critique present-day inequality and injustice, at least in my point of view. All that really does is get people frustrated and angry, when people already are frustrated and angry since nothing has changed. So, unable to imagine any alternatives, they take those added frustrations out on their fellow man and all we get is just another social media rant.
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Mal
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
@Booming wrote, "I listened to this while writing https://youtu.be/agupWxwvxaI “

Beautiful. I almost thought of giving it a watch based on this soundtrack, but then I saw @Bryan write, "Yeah, I've watched Outlander til about Season 4 when it started to feel stale and formulaic. As an aside, many have criticized this show for its unflinching portrayals of rape and torture that border on sensationalism… .”

Yeah, I think I’ll skip it. I don’t know what people get out of watching rape and torture, but it isn’t for me. That’s why my take on TOS “The Empath” is diametrically different from so many others, including (not for the first time) @Jammer,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tos/s3/empath.php#comment-81733

@Booming says, "replicators were put in there because Roddenberry didn't want a show where material needs of people are a dominant topic. Apart from Star Trek Is there any Sci Fi show that doesn't have the struggle for material needs as a central theme?”

Replicators were a TNG phenomenon. In Star Trek, there were no replicators, and the struggle over material needs formed the basis of some of the best episodes,

Like The Trouble with Tribbles,

LURRY: Quadrotriticale is the only earth grain that grows on Sherman's Planet. We have several tons of it here on the station. It's very important that grain gets to Sherman's Planet safely. Mister Baris thinks that Klingon agents may try to sabotage it.

And Conscious of the King,

SPOCK: According to our library banks, it started on the Earth colony of Tarsus Four, when the food supply was attacked by an exotic fungus and largely destroyed. There were over eight thousand colonists and virtually no food. And that was when Governor Kodos seized full power and declared emergency martial law.
MCCOY: I've heard of it.
SPOCK: You may not have heard it all. Kodos began to separate the colonists. Some would live, be rationed whatever food was left. The remainder would be immediately put to death. Apparently he had his own theories of eugenics.
MCCOY: Unfortunately, he wasn't the first.
SPOCK: Perhaps not. But he was certainly among the most ruthless, to decide arbitrarily who would survive and who would not, using his own personal standards, and then to implement his decision without mercy. Children watching their parents die. Whole families destroyed. Over four thousand people. They died quickly, without pain, but they died. Relief arrived, but too late to prevent the executions.

A Private Little War,

KIRK: Bones, the normal development of this planet was the status quo between the hill people and the villagers. The Klingons changed that with the flintlocks. If this planet is to develop the way it should, we must equalize both sides again.

And one of the the best Star Trek episodes of all, Journey to Babel,

SAREK: We favour admission.
GAV: You favour? Why?
SAREK: Under Federation law, Coridan can be protected and its wealth administered for the benefit of its people.
GAV: That's well for you. Vulcan has no mining interest.
SAREK: Coridan has nearly unlimited wealth of dilithium crystals, but it is under-populated and unprotected. This invites illegal mining operations.
GAV: Illegal? You accuse us?
SAREK: Some of your ships have been carrying Coridan dilithium crystals.
GAV: You call us thieves?

The struggle for food and land and fuel - the oldest struggles we know - were are the core of the conflicts in Star Trek. Conflict propelled great storytelling.

@Booming is not really correct about Ronald D. Moore, that "he thought that having no capitalism/financial anything in the Federation was BS and hated the replicator really only shows that he never really liked several central themes of Star Trek” The replicator had nothing to do with Star Trek. It was a trick introduced in early TNG that was an attempt to completely change the laws of scarcity.

For a few years in TNG, Roddenberry tried his best to magically hand-wave away conflict borne of scarcity. You get a replicator! You get a replicator! And you get a replicator! And pretty soon we start believing that man has changed, or as @Peter G. put it, "I see no reason to conclude that because it took warp drive and transporters to make the Federation that therefore this isn't a real advancement in human civilization. And further, that man itself isn't more advanced."

But within a few years that trick started to fade.

By early season 5, in the very month that Roddenberry died, we see the Bajorans deprived of replicators and thus the basic necessities of life.

We see the ugly struggle for land return in season 7, Journey’s End.

We see the struggle of natural resources play out in “Insurrection,”

DOUGHERTY: On Earth, petroleum once turned petty thugs into world leaders. Warp drive transformed a bunch of Romulan thugs into an Empire. We can handle the Son'a. I'm not worried about that.
PICARD: Someone probably said the same thing about the Romulans a century ago.
DOUGHERTY: With metaphasics, life spans will be doubled. An entire new medical science will evolve. I understand your Chief Engineer has the use of his eyes for the first time in his life. Would you take that away from him?
PICARD: There are metaphasic particles all over the Briar Patch. Why does it have to be this planet?
DOUGHERTY: It's the concentration in the rings that makes the whole damned thing work. Don't ask me to explain it. I only know they inject something into the rings that starts a thermolytic reaction. When it's over, the planet will be uninhabitable for generations.

Add scarcity back into the equation, and even the socialist utopia of TNG cannot survive. Before you know if, folks are back to living in poverty,

EDDINGTON: Those people, They were colonists on Salva Two. They had farms, and shops, and homes, and schools, and then one day the Federation signed a treaty and handed their world over to the Cardassians. Just like that. They made these people refugees overnight.

SISKO: It's not that simple and you know it. These people don't have to live here like this. We've offered them resettlement.

EDDINGTON: They don't want to be resettled. They want to go home to the lives they built. How would you feel if the Federation gave your father's home to the Cardassians?

SISKO: I'm not here to debate Federation policy with

EDDINGTON: I didn't tell you to turn around. Look at them, Captain. They're humans, just like you and me, and Starfleet took everything away from them. Remember that the next time you put on that uniform. There's a war out there and you're on the wrong side.

Capitalism is a system where Capital - money - decides what gets made, and who gets what. Socialism is a system where Society - through the government - decides what gets made, and who gets what. (There are other systems: feudalism, free market, communism).

For a few seasons of early TNG, technology like replicators, tricked everyone into believing that Society would no longer face any hard choices. Everyone would be given access to everything.

With limits of course,

PICARD: Those comm panels are for official ship business.
RALPH: If they are so important, why don't they need an executive key?
PICARD: Aboard a starship, that is not necessary. We are all capable of exercising self-discipline.

And then one day Society - the Federation - decided that certain people would not be allowed to keep their land. Native Americans. So the Native Americans renounced allegiance to the Federation,

PICARD: Anthwara, I want to make absolutely sure that you understand the implications of this agreement. By giving up your status as Federation citizens, any future request you or your people make to Starfleet will go unanswered. You will be on your own and under Cardassian jurisdiction.

ANTHWARA: I understand, Captain. And we are prepared to take that risk.

Kirk’s Star Trek was already a utopian vision under ordinary constraints of scarcity. The only magic in the original Star Trek was the transporter, meant to save narrative time of shuttling down to each planet; and of course faster-than-light travel, a metaphor for the great untamed Frontier, a final frontier if you will.

TNG took that utopian vision and sprinkled in a additional piece of magic, the replicators. It proved a story-telling step too far. The narrative fell apart within 5 seasons.

But the dream proved to be an addictive heroine, and was even retconned into the prequel Discovery. Turns out the genie of a Socialist free lunch is powerfully seductive. Having once infected the Star Trek writer’s room, it is very hard to go back in time and unscramble that egg,

https://youtu.be/1C-i7J9ZLuM
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Peter G.
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
I don't know about replicators being a "trick" to pretend that human issues didn't exist. More likely it was just an FX upgrade that allowed them to have cool upgrades for the fans to enjoy after 20 years. New gadgets and such. And even if there was some meaning in the fact of replicators (a device which was almost never mentioned in TNG episodes for their real value) it was at best a symptom of Roddenberry's real dictum, which is that there shall be no conflict of any type among the TNG crew, since humanity had evolved past conflict!!! Now *this* is an example of a B.S. rule and I suspect all the writers knew it. If replicators bugged Moore on a show with a rule like this then maybe he was projecting or experiencing transference or something. One of the reasons DS9 was better in terms of its character dynamics (e.g. Quark/Odo, Sisko/Kira, etc) is that they had issues to sort out. Seeing people come together is more helpful to us than seeing them already perfect and preaching to us as if this is some kind of manual.

Anyhow, Roddenberry was himself (it would appear) deeply confused about the difference between the logic of his setting in-world (the Federation is a place of peace) versus how to write a show (the script is a place of peace...yuk). Lovey-dovey script-writing is one of the reasons TNG S1-2 comes off as so naive in places. In fact it makes Pulaski's attitude toward Data all the more jarring because of how out of place it is. If there were other crew conflicts I think her relationship with Data would have been less tonally wrong.
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Booming
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 3:36am (UTC -5)
@Bryan
"As an aside, many have criticized this show for its unflinching portrayals of rape and torture that border on sensationalism"
I can see that and maybe later on it takes a turn but rape and sexual assault were basically crimes without punishment back then, especially during wartime, and many men would probably be surprised about how common these crimes still are. I found the constant threat of rape the protagonist was living under fairly convincing and the torture scene, while deeply disturbing, was not played like these scenes often are in shows like Game of thrones. It wasn't torture porn, it was torture. I must admit though this show is far better than I expected and I do wonder how long it can fly that high.

"I'd prefer to have Ronald D Moore than Alex Kurtzman at the helm even though we could surely do better than either."
I was actually thinking the same. The characters and dialogue are a lot better in Outlander but as I said, I don't think Moore wants to write about utopias not that this would be a problem anymore considering what Star Trek has become.

"Because there's nothing inspiring or aspirational about using Star Trek as a mirror to critique present-day inequality and injustice, at least in my point of view"
Who would dare to disagree with that statement. I guess all those writers complaining about how hard it is to write for Star Trek finally got what they wanted. A dark dystopian world with lots of interpersonal conflict.

"So, unable to imagine any alternatives, they take those added frustrations out on their fellow man and all we get is just another social media rant."
Let's just hope that they still sign up for CBSAllaccess. :)

@Mal
"Yeah, I think I’ll skip it. I don’t know what people get out of watching rape and torture, but it isn’t for me."
I totally understand. The books this is based on were written by a woman so the constant threat of rape is not shied away from. Other shows either portray the past with rose tinted eyes aka no rape/sexual violence or the men who commit those sexual assaults are portrayed as evil. This show doesn't do that. Again I don't know where this show goes and I might change my view but so far it is really good. The show can also be very funny and lighthearted. The protagonist and central viewpoint is that of a woman so keep that in mind.

"Replicators were a TNG phenomenon."
Sure, TNG and what came after. TOS was pretty far away from TNG, DS9 and Voyager.

" You get a replicator! You get a replicator! And you get a replicator!"
Uh I get that reference. Oprah!

"But within a few years that trick started to fade."
Yes, Roddenberry was incapacitated for a quite a while before he died so the writers could slowly water Star Trek down. Soon we had gods battling it out, Jesus and endless war which eventually lead us to NuTrek ST:Picard where ironically replicators seem to be one of the last remnants of what Roddenberry imagined. At RedLetterMedia they put it:"It slowly started to be watered down and when Benjamin Sisko jumped off that cliff, Star Trek fell of a cliff." and the rest is history.

"Capitalism is a system where Capital - money - decides what gets made, and who gets what."
That is really true for almost all money based societies from ancient Uruk to the modern Age. Capitalism is a phenomenon that came into existence in the 18th century in England (there is some debate about proto-capitalism but that would go to far). It is first and foremost a specific mode of production, ownership and probably most important accumulation of capital.

"Socialism is a system where Society - through the government - decides what gets made, and who gets what. "
That is actually a certain form of communism (and there are quite a few).

@Peter
"Seeing people come together is more helpful to us than seeing them already perfect and preaching to us as if this is some kind of manual."
Well, ok but wouldn't the portrayal of any kind of enlightened society come off a little preachy because the people who exist in that society would have reason to believe in things we constantly doubt?
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Mal
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 5:06am (UTC -5)
@Booming asked, "wouldn't the portrayal of any kind of enlightened society come off a little preachy"?

The enlightened are rarely preachy. The enlightened are well aware of their flaws and their history. If anything, that tends to make them humble,

Kirk: humans are killers -

https://youtu.be/lbsXklGF_WM

Picard: we lived in caves -

https://youtu.be/6zU8bw4raiE

Sisko: I was egotistical when I was young -

https://youtu.be/BI0KgT2xoes

Janeway: I was stubborn and self-righteous -

https://youtu.be/M3CT_qVzL84

Archer: playing god is above my pay grade

https://youtu.be/T8k5HbspfrA?t=228

Dal (Prodigy): "I sat in the seat. I gave the commands. I tried to win at any cost. And I still lost."

https://youtu.be/898E_4aDXFk

-

And then there's Michael. Humble is her middle name:

"We can only look forward. We have to be torch bearers."

https://youtu.be/8FJi4bToYJA?t=46

So say we all.
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Booming
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 5:58am (UTC -5)
@Mal
The examples you chose are a little preachy, wouldn't you say. :)
I never said that an enlightened society would have no need for critical reflection or would be blind to it's own shortcomings.

"Kirk: humans are killers -"
Ok that is so much Shatner ham and I never saw Bill Shatner and thought humble or self-critical. Seriously though, that scene is a little preachy and saying"Let's just not kill" is not the most enlightened message.

" Picard: we lived in caves -"
The video itself is titled "Captain Picard Explaining Progress". Humble or not it is certainly a little preachy, wouldn't you say?

"Sisko: I was egotistical when I was young -"
Then he became space jesus. :D

"Janeway: I was stubborn and self-righteous -"
Well, the point old Janeway is trying to make here is: "Let me mess around with time and commit genocide." Sure it's against the Borg but I wouldn't call it humble or enlightened.

"Archer: playing god is above my pay grade"
Come on! That scene is sooooo preachy. :D

"We can only look forward. We have to be torch bearers."
They cannot be that enlightened if they need to carry around torches all the time. ;) Discovery is certainly a cringe festival of a very special kind... hahaha
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Sigh2000
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 9:21am (UTC -5)
@Booming
'@Peter "Seeing people come together is more helpful to us than seeing them already perfect and preaching to us as if this is some kind of manual."
Well, ok but wouldn't the portrayal of any kind of enlightened society come off a little preachy because the people who exist in that society would have reason to believe in things we constantly doubt?'

I agree with Peter G. that seeing people come together is "more helpful"... than seeing them already perfect and therefore able to quote from a manual. Actually though, I think a bigger problem is that the characters as written are terribly, terribly flawed and incredibly obstinate. Cheap conflict is channeled all the time in current Sci Fi or Fantasy shows, i.e., constant bickering by characters whose ears shut off when another person speaks. Because whenever someone speaks it is interpreted as "preaching" and as we all know, nobody wants to be told what to think. Ironically, it is a trend in cinema that the ears of a character shut off even when they know that the preaching of another character makes sense. Sadly, we are entertained by this kind of incessant, frustrating strife; audience numbers show that and therefore a vicious jealousy reigns in so many characters. True in reality too. The pony ridden ahead of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is Envy. Sorry I preach as if I am enlightened, but because I expressed myself instead of keeping it to myself, I am surely not.

Perfection in characters leads nowhere, because the story should be in how problems get worked out/solved in spite of a person's flaws or disadvantages, or even because of them. The replicator solves problems without true human input. My broken vase not only gets mended; it gets replaced with a better version in a fraction of the time it took to make the original. Even characters get shoved through the transporter and are remolded, made whole again.

New show idea: ST Pattern Buffer. No one ever dies and Jamie's back can be healed when transported from Inverness to the great hospital ship in the sky called the USS Reconstitution.
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Peter G.
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 9:22am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Well, ok but wouldn't the portrayal of any kind of enlightened society come off a little preachy because the people who exist in that society would have reason to believe in things we constantly doubt?"

We are not talking about the characters being preachy (which on early TNG they sort of are actually) but about the show being preachy. But in fact I wasn't addressing "preachy" anyhow; what I said was the show was *preaching to us* (which is ok to do) in a way that is not helpful. DS9 also 'preaches' (i.e. tries to tell us what is good) but in a way that is more demonstrative rather than pat.
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Booming
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
@Sigh2000
"I agree with Peter G. that seeing people come together is "more helpful"... than seeing them already perfect and therefore able to quote from a manual."
The people even in TNG had problems with one another. Sometimes people were arrogant, insecure or had relationship problems. If people were actually "perfect" then why even bring counselors. Roddenberry didn't mean humanlike angels floating around the enterprise, he didn't want racism, sexism, greed to name a few. The things the Federation should only encounter in others as a reflection of our times.

"Sorry I preach as if I am enlightened, but because I expressed myself instead of keeping it to myself, I am surely not."
Your Jedi mind tricks don't work on me. Phew I filled my star wars prequel quota for the year. :)

"The replicator solves problems without true human input."
What technology doesn't?

@Peter
" DS9 also 'preaches' (i.e. tries to tell us what is good) but in a way that is more demonstrative rather than pat."
Yes but what lessons did we learn in DS9. The ends justify the means? Gassing planets is ok sometimes, maybe even genocide? Inter arma silent leges? Especially later on DS9 had some very problematic lessons.
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Sigh2000
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
"Sorry I preach as if I am enlightened, but because I expressed myself instead of keeping it to myself, I am surely not."
Your Jedi mind tricks don't work on me. Phew I filled my star wars prequel quota for the year. :)"

LOL

Always ready to help you fulfill your SWP quota.
It's the enlightened thing to do.
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Mal
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Here is a fascinating interview with Gene Roddenberry

https://youtu.be/KMa1v7ii5P0

The whole thing is worth watching. Not least because it is uncut and unedited - completely raw.

But relevant to our discussion, by the time of this interview (1988) Gene had revolutionary politics and would have voted for Chairman Mao if he had been on the ballot.

Also the one time Gene recounted beating his daughter, is when she joined all her girlfriends in supporting Nixon for president.
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Quincy
Wed, Feb 23, 2022, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
Tue, Feb 22, 2022, 3:36am (UTC -6)

"@Bryan
"As an aside, many have criticized this show for its unflinching portrayals of rape and torture that border on sensationalism"
I can see that and maybe later on it takes a turn but rape and sexual assault were basically crimes without punishment back then, especially during wartime, and many men would probably be surprised about how common these crimes still are. I found the constant threat of rape the protagonist was living under fairly convincing and the torture scene, while deeply disturbing, was not played like these scenes often are in shows like Game of thrones. IT WASN'T TORTURE PORN (Emphasis mine), it was torture. I must admit though this show is far better than I expected and I do wonder how long it can fly that high."


Sweet Jesus, Mary Mother of Mercy, I quit watching Outlander early on when it was portrayed as wrong for the men who were always coming to save the main character to demand that she quit putting all their lives in danger. (While I agreed that they shouldn't be laying hands on her to gain compliance, what they should have done was tell her to go jump in a lake.) I then look in again awhile later and not only has that not changed, but she does something incredibly stupid, WHICH SHE IS WARNED ABOUT, and ends up in the clutches of The Duke of Aholes (I forget his name and I refuse to look it up.) Not only is she saved from the big bad. This is accomplished by the male lead volunteering to be raped by the bastard in her place.

This was pure torture porn. This was slash fan fiction level torture porn. Self entitled feminists were online bragging loudly and proudly about how it was good that the tables were turned and Outlander was the most feminist show on television because this man so rightly offered up his anus for this woman's sake. Prepare your anal recess for anal recess, fellas, because @$$ invasion is the least a man can do for a woman's needs. It was retarded. It was very clearly fan service for a bunch of guilty pleasure titillated women indulging in slash fan fiction fantasies. They might as well have been watching 50 Shades of Penetration: No Homo.
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Booming
Thu, Feb 24, 2022, 2:00am (UTC -5)
@Quincy
Eh a little spoiler warning would have been nice.
I'm not even at the end of season 1. The show has become a little hectic during the second half of the season which I'm not overly fond of.

Spoiler for season 1 of Outlander.

" I quit watching Outlander early on when it was portrayed as wrong for the men who were always coming to save the main character to demand that she quit putting all their lives in danger."
Really, I thought the main argument was about Jamie physically abusing her. Are you really blaming Claire, a woman who at that point had served several years in WW2, had stitched up an endless amount of men, had lots of them die in her arms, then fell through time, had to live with people who hated her, was sexually assaulted several times, taken hostage, mentally and physically tortured and almost murdered also several times to act rationally all the time. I think, considering the circumstances, it is pretty impressive that she can tie her shoes without having a mental breakdown.

I was actually more worried about Jamie's idiocy. Running around his estate openly, hoping that this pardon would materialize eventually while the authorities still hunted him for murder of a British soldier.

"Self entitled feminists were online bragging loudly and proudly about how it was good that the tables were turned and Outlander was the most feminist show on television"
I always wonder how people like you come across such information? Do you frequently visit radical feminist message boards? :)

"This is accomplished by the male lead volunteering to be raped by the bastard in her place."
So if it is your butt or the butt of the woman you love, you would not start lubing yourself up and try to dream of merry Scotland?

I guess, Jamie was just willing to take one for the team. I don't know why this happened but arguing didn't help, physical punishment of her didn't help, maybe next time Claire wants to do something hasty, she will think of Jamie's ass.
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Quincy
Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 1:18am (UTC -5)
@Booming

Aw, man. I'm really sorry about that. I thought you had to be further along than when I stopped watching it. I thought it was old news. I apologize as I never want to spoil people's enjoyment of any show, even those I don't like. Perhaps Jammer can erase that, so at least no one else is affected. Truly sorry.

That was awhile back, but as I recall Jamie's people treated her well. At least, some of them did. They protected her and put themselves in danger for her sake, especially Jamie. No, I don't agree with him putting his hands on her. I also don't agree with him jeopardizing his people's lives for a distressed damsel he barely knows. Yes, I blame her. All she had to do to avoid at least some of the things that happened to her was listen to the people who were trying to help her.

It doesn't matter what I had been through. If some people I barely knew protected me and put their lives in jeopardy for my sake, I would be horrified to learn that I had intentionally or even accidentally further jeopardized their lives. It's not even a matter of thinking rationally. Wouldn't you care about the lives of good people? Wouldn't it be purely reflexive to not want to be a mortal burden on those people? Any character I'm likely to root for should have this quality at least.

It's been 5 years as I recall, but I generally liked the premise of the show, so I came across such information by saying, "Hmm. I wonder if that show Outlander is better now than it was when I quit watching it?" Then I searched for current episodes and all this feminist claptrap popped up along with the Jamie incident, which apparently was somewhat controversial at the time. Pretty sure I didn't see it on any radical feminist websites, just review or recap websites. I was like, "You've got to be kidding me!" I watched the episode and sadly they weren't kidding me.

Sorry, not sorry. My anus says "Exit Only." If it's my buttocks or my lady's buttocks, at that point, it's fight, or flight, or die trying. It's time to say, "Over our cold dead butt cheeks!" and take the Bonny and Clyde (Thelma & Louise in feminist parlance) way out and call it a life. Just make sure you take at least one of those bastards with you Aliens style: https://youtu.be/aHjRQJZsUGg?t=85
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One question, how can a feminist deign to ask that question, even in jest? Wouldn't you have to turn in your feminist card for ever allowing a man to offer up his buttocks for yours? I've seen you on this very board scoffing at the very notion of men protecting women. "Preposterous!" was the tone I recall. Shouldn't this instead be the feminist manifesto in regards to sacrifices of the filthiest kind?!? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtyWRviYp0o

Maybe, you can answer another question for me. Why does every woman I know seem fascinated with absurd hypotheticals? How would you even end up in such a situation in real life? Did the Booty Warrior just happen to break out of prison and just happen to break into your house or something?

Here's a scenario and I'm pretty sure it's TOTALLY plausible:

"Your booty cheeks or hers; what's it going to be?" said the gunman, brandishing his Desert Eagle menacingly.

Moe just stood there furrowing his brow and saying nothing with a stunned expression on his face. Moe's prolonged silence yawned into a deafening dissonance in Mary's mind. His thoughtfulness was one of the reasons she'd married him. But now at this critical moment never was his well known nickname "Slow Moe Johnson" more insufferable. Her heart palpitated as the furrows in Moe's brow increased in number. The sound of crickets on the midnight breeze grew loud and insistent.

Finally, the gunman exhausted his patience for the nine months pregnant pause and spoke, "I guess it's gonna be eeny, meeny, miny..." ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Booming
Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 4:17am (UTC -5)
". I apologize as I never want to spoil people's enjoyment of any show, even those I don't like."
It's alright.

Again Spoiler for season 1 of Outlander.

"That was awhile back, but as I recall Jamie's people treated her well. At least, some of them did. They protected her and put themselves in danger for her sake, especially Jamie"
Apart from Jamie none treated her well (not counting the beating) and they were not protecting her, they were holding her hostage under constant supervision, both of her guards openly talked about raping her, some of them sexually assaulted her. They also on purpose talked gaelic around her as a sign of distrust and to exclude her, after all they thought that she was an English spy. The only other men who behaved nicely towards her besides Jamie, was the lawyer and he only appeared at the midpoint of season 1. When she was accused of being a witch, apart from the the lawyer Gowan, none of them interfered and Gowan made it clear that the laird was actually against helping her at all, in other word wanted to see her burn. Also let's not forget the only thing she was trying to do was getting back to her own time. What was she supposed to do? Asking the people who had taken her prisoner to please bring her to the magic stones so that she could travel back to her time? That she was immediately taken hostage by the English was one of the story twists that I did not like. She walks 100m away and bamm a British patrol appeared out of nowhere.

"I would be horrified to learn that I had intentionally or even accidentally further jeopardized their lives."
She was. The first thing she does is to thank Jamie, then later she tries to thank all of them and they ignore her. She also apologizes several times and admits also several times that she was in the wrong to disobey his orders but Jamie and the rest think that she needs to be physically punished or she will not learn her lesson.

"Pretty sure I didn't see it on any radical feminist websites, just review or recap websites. I was like, "You've got to be kidding me!" I watched the episode and sadly they weren't kidding me."
Seriously and I thought that was obvious, these opinions are obviously stupid. While it is brave of Jamie to offer up his body to spare his wife another rape, that is nothing to be seen as positive. Rapists around the world will not see this and think that maybe they should rape less women and more men. The only thing it shows is that Jamie is willing to make second biggest sacrifice for his wife and it probably sets up future drama. I try to stay away from two groups when it comes to opinions: fanatics and morons because these people have a tendency to make me really furious and I cannot convince them anyway, so arguing or even reading their opinion achieves nothing.

"One question, how can a feminist deign to ask that question, even in jest? Wouldn't you have to turn in your feminist card for ever allowing a man to offer up his buttocks for yours?"
That's the thing, there is no feminist card, anybody can call themself that. Even stupid people. You call yourself many things, maybe American, sports fan, patriot. It might come as a surprise to you but some people who call themselves patriot are absolute morons and make idiotic statements all day long, does that mean that you will stop calling yourself patriot? No. It means that you accept the fact that any group of people includes idiots.
To the actual question, no I would not want the man I love being hurt. For me or for any reason really. If my loved one would do such a thing for me I would feel horribly guilty, while at the same time feel happy to not have to suffer which would make me feel even more guilt. It would just be an endless guilt spiral.

"I've seen you on this very board scoffing at the very notion of men protecting women. "Preposterous!" was the tone I recall."
Well, it has gotten a little too "damsel in distress-ish" for my taste. It felt like Claire was constantly in danger and waiting for Jamie to swing through a window. I'm also not scoffing at the general notion of needing a protector in a show about the 18th century during a time that was basically a proto civil war with lots of brutalized, often intoxicated men. That is always a dangerous time for women, especially women who have nobody to protect them.

"Why does every woman I know seem fascinated with absurd hypotheticals? How would you even end up in such a situation in real life?"
I really don't know in what circles you socialize in. :)
But I'm sure that there were probably numerous bisexual sadists maybe after conquering a city who gave a captured couple the option. Sadist slave owners. Oh, I have no doubt that throughout Human history that there were thousands of those incidents.
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Seyms
Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
From Memory Alpha:

Armus was well enough known to be a watchword for uncivil behavior into the 32nd century. Haz Mazaro warned his guests not to "act like an Armus" in 3190. (DIS: "All In").

Nice callback to TNG season one.
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Booming
Wed, Mar 16, 2022, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Guys a little update on my outlander watching.

spoiler outlander ep15-16 season1

I did not make it past episode 16 in season 1. There was so much torture. I started to skip through ep15 and then went into ep16 which I would call the Jamie rape flashback episode. Times were dark enough, why did they have to include so much extra torture. I really liked the show at first. :(
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Pietro
Wed, May 4, 2022, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul

“ Long-term socialism would never result in any kind of utopia. It would bring about communism or nazism. ”

Aww shucks, did that big meany Stalin or Mao dispossess or imprison your great grandpa, who was a “good” businessman or kulak, despite the fact that in order for profit to be made it is necessary to extract surplus value from the labor of others, ie take a cut of the fruits of someone else’s work, meaning that everyone who makes their living from something other than wage slavery is a thief, and most people agree that thieves should be punished ?
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Robert
Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
Tired old tropes. The high-stakes poker game. The fighting arena, where, by the way, the two vastly different weight classes would get a woman of Owo's size demolished... but you know, yay girl power? It's all so long and dragged out. What is it with NuTrek and casino/James Bond themes? They did this in Picard too, and it also fell flat there.

This show makes you pay dearly in watch time for any pay offs, and they are delivered at the 11th hour and 59 minutes. Ok, I did enjoy Owo's moment, we finally got to see her in a new light. But did we learn anything new about the other characters that really matters?

Also? How disappointing that Tarka's whole motivation is also a tired cliche. That he lost someone, is grieving, wants to make a species pay, and reunite with his loved one. He's willing to possibly throw away billions of lives for this. Does the Federation not do psychological screening anymore? Yeah, we know he's Vance's guy, but what gives? You do no real profiling on a man you've given unlimited access to Federation R&D? Look at the hyper-intelligent analysis that Kovich did on Zora, not to mention Georgiou. Yet they let a guy like Tarka into the most inner circle?

Oh well... just watching for the popcorn value now.

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