Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

"Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach"

2 stars

Air date: 6/9/2022
Written by Robin Wasserman & Bill Wolkoff
Directed by Andi Armaganian

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

While making a visit to the Majalan system, which Pike visited a decade earlier, the Enterprise comes to the rescue of a Majalan shuttle under attack by a larger ship from a nearby alien colony. The Enterprise fends off the attackers, which crashes on the planet surface as its crew escapes. The shuttle's rescued passengers are beamed aboard the Enterprise for protection. Among them are a young boy, his father, and a Majalan official named Alora (Lindy Booth), whom Pike coincidentally had some sort of romance with a decade ago.

The boy is the new First Servant of Majalis (Ian Ho), a young genius who is imminently scheduled to ascend to the throne in a crucial ceremony. The boy's father, Gamal (Huse Madhavji), says he is the father in biology alone, as the First Servant actually belongs to all of Majalis. Alora seems friendly, and is really glad to see Pike again. Gamal seems a bit off, like something is wrong.

"Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" is the first episode of SNW that really didn't work for me. It's one of those shows that's clearly toying with us for the duration, building toward a revelation that is guaranteed to be more sinister than what the episode is letting on. Crucial details are hidden or spoken about in euphemisms that are technically accurate but not true in spirit — like "ascend" to the "throne." Meanwhile, there's the mystery surrounding the aggression of the alien colony, about which the Majalans won't come out and say what's happening, even though they obviously know.

In being true to the spirit of TOS and TNG, this episode features a chase/fight sequence that's in the grand tradition of mediocre staging and stunt work. A guard has betrayed his sacred oath to protect the First Servant and was working with the alien colony to kidnap him. He flees the scene, only to be chased down, not stunned, then held at phaser-point, and yet he's still able to grab Alora and put a knife to her throat. (The only twist here is that she saves herself rather than Pike saving her. But the whole sequence comes off as contrived.)

The romantic angle, alas, feels completely by-the-numbers as Trek romances go. Pike is so tongue-tied upon his first reacquaintance with Alora that the whole thing comes across as hammy and oversold. (Is this guy supposed to be almost 50, or 20?) These two obviously still have the hots for each other, and gradually work back toward the inevitable. Hilariously, Pike's Awesome Hair™ doesn't even get messed up during sex. It's still absolutely perfect in the post-coital pillow talk scene.

In the meantime, this episode makes Pike far too passive in his own showcase. I really enjoy the laissez-faire style of Pike's command and his easygoing personality, but it should have limits; here he comes across as slow to catch on as the questions pile up. His approach to everything has that "okay .... then" half-amused half-confused roll-with-the-strange-punches sensibility. But at some point, this guy needs to get mad about the fact that everyone is lying to his face.

Meanwhile, Gamal hangs out in sickbay with the boy and M'Benga, and M'Benga learns that the Majalans have superior medical technology that has allowed them to cure all disease on their world. It could possibly hold the cure for his daughter. The Majalans are forbidden from sharing their medicine with outsiders, however. For M'Benga, it sure must suck to be on the other side of the Prime Directive. (Ultimately, Gamal is able to share some knowledge that may help treat but not cure M'Benga's daughter.) In keeping with this series' laudable characteristic of being an ensemble show, there's an entire fairly-well-integrated subplot where La'an shows Uhura the ropes of security.

The last act stops dancing around and drops all the revelations on us. Being the "First Servant" really means being connected to a machine and suffering for your entire life so that the society's floating cities won't literally fall into the boiling lava below. (This is a very unique problem that seems impossible to have developed organically. I have a lot of questions about how such a society came to be. It also makes the title literal to the point of goofiness.) The alien colony isn't alien at all, but a group of Majalan exiles who are against the way Majalis continues to permit the exploitative outrage that is the First Servant. All of this could've been made clearer sooner, but the story is deliberately evasive so it can yank the rug out from under us at the end. But it's not a huge shock, and it makes Pike look like a slow study for not being more suspicious and inquisitive.

Still, I did like that this episode's true resolution lay in its dialogue. The scene where Alora makes the pitch to Pike that the First Servant's suffering is a willing sacrifice and a noble purpose that their entire society genuinely reveres is something that gets to the heart of the concept of a "strange new world" and the difficult-to-swallow nature of the Prime Directive, which says we don't get to tell others how to live. (This is, of course, even harder to stomach because of the child's young age and the reality that all his choices were made for him, even if he didn't realize it. The Majalans are lying to themselves if they think the First Servant is truly "willing.")

But there's something off in the execution of all this, like they had the pieces, but couldn't figure out how to fit them together organically without ending up with a bunch of grinding gears. The episode feels manipulative and deceptive in the way it conveniently hides key information. The silver lining here is that even when SNW fails, it fails because it's being mediocre classic Star Trek, rather than mediocre generic serialized streaming TV.

Previous episode: Spock Amok
Next episode: The Serene Squall

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162 comments on this post

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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 2:47am (UTC -5)
"Strange New Worlds," eh? Well there you go!

Thoroughly alien society. Tough moral quandary. No clear villains or "correct" side. No easy answers. No way to be the hero. A resolution that's out of his hands that will always bother Pike but that he has to live with.

"Can you honestly say no child suffers in your society while those with more live well?" she asks. "No," Pike might've replied. "But we try, for everyone. At least we try for everyone." And what then would she have then said to that? I'd imagine: "Is trying better than our way, when you don't succeed?" And what answer might Pike have in turn? None, I'd expect. None good enough to prove he's unequivocally right. Because there isn't one, is there? So he can see the impasse, and leaves it unspoken.

"I'm telling the Federation on you the first chance I get," he says. "So what?" she replies. "You have no jurisdiction here. We're not Federation members." And never will be, is so what, is what Pike is thinking. But he doesn't say it, because he can see she doesn't care in the slightest.

If this were an episode of TNG . . . and it COULD be an episode of TNG, it's THAT GOOD in every way . . . I don't know that we would quite rate it as four stars out of four. But it wouldn't be one of those TNG episodes you forget about. It would be one of the oft-discussed solid ones. Not The Best of Both Worlds or The Inner Light. But maybe Who Watches the Watchers?

. . .

This cast is the best cast since DS9. Wow, I love them all. Not quite Ortegas or Hemmer yet, as they're still underexposed. But neither are in danger of becoming a Mayweather or a Harry Kim.

See? You can still tell good Star Trek stories in the old formula that are a joy to watch. You just have to start with a good cast and well-drawn, well-developed characters that aren't just a loose sketch in a writers' bible (i.e. "girl who only lives nine years, surely there must be something interesting we can figure out what to do with that down the line"). When you have such solid characters, the little details that make television leap from good to great write themselves. Like Pike putting on a slight La'an accent in the turbolift to lightly tease Uhura. It's a little thing, but it's also often exactly that difference.

. . .

I love the "weird planet governed by some machine no one alive knows where it came from" setup in this episode. So very classic TOS. And yet, it isn't the point of the episode. It isn't highlighted or treated as some interesting mystery. It's just the MacGuffin. It's almost casually there. The sacrifice of the child is the point--it doesn't matter how or for what--but I love that they picked that for it, anyway.

. . .

Una is only a Lieutenant Commander? After all those years as First Officer? Is she trying not to stand out too much as a genetically engineered person, much like Bashir was in being assigned to DS9? But she's the first officer of the flagship . . .

And speaking of, Pike was only a Lieutenant ten years ago? That timeline also just seems off. And he keeps talking about it being ten years to his accident when it's actually eight . . . we can say he's rounding, but if it were me, that isn't something I would round. I would be quite aware of the exact number, so that's the number my brain would reach for in conversation.

I know a clear timeline for such things doesn't bother everyone, and doesn't really matter all that much when put in perspective. But, I would still prefer more thought was put into it, or, if more thought has been put into it, that it was made a little more clear to viewers. Not quite sure how they would do it. Hell, they could answer questions about it on Twitter for all I care, I would still just like to know what the writers are thinking about the timeline for certain events (like Pike taking command of the Enterprise, Una beginning to serve as first officer, when The Menagerie happens, etc.).

. . .

I'll be interested to hear how many people had issues with M'Benga's dialogue after having more of an opportunity to hear him speak because he had the most lines of dialogue so far in this episode. Did the added exposure help? Again, no issues here with understanding him. He's clear as day to me.
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AMA
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:38am (UTC -5)
The episode does not quite have the impact as its seeming inspiration, Ursula K. Le Guin's 'The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,' because it is not entirely clear whether the population of Majelas are aware of the fate of the servant. It can be read that they are, given that some number of them leave for Prospect VII, but without the explicit revelation and moral negotiation, the episode lacks the same power as the short story.

I actually cannot help draw parallels between the episode and recent events in the world of golf: individuals accepting prosperity despite the morally dubious source thereof. Many of us might be quick to condemn those of Majelas, but clearly some would accept the Faustian bargain. I know where I would stand, though, in modern society, little is ever so clear as is depicted in the episode.

Perhaps not a perfect outing, but yet another very good one.
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J.B.
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:43am (UTC -5)
I found this episode slow and dramatically inert for the vast majority of it, until the very end when it became super dark and kinda chilling. But it was too little, too late. My least favorite of the six.
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Tim C
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 6:39am (UTC -5)
I think we can call this SNW's first truly original story, even if it does have several familiar elements to it. I wouldn't say it's a home run, but the plot moved at a good clip and I was never bored. It was also nice to see Pike on the back foot for a change, with Anson Mount (and indeed, the entire cast) turning in another winning performance.

I did find myself wanting Pike to push back harder when she challenged him on whether children also suffered in the Federation. (1) Because the notion that there's still miserable poverty within the Federation doesn't feel right to me, even in the TOS era, and (2) because there's a difference between society-level problems and knowingly strapping a kid into a life-sucking torture machine.

It's probably too late, and the high production values (even by Star Trek standards, where every show has had absolutely terrific production values) would make it difficult, but Paramount should *really* consider increasing the length of their season orders for this show. Around 10 episodes works well for a serialised season, where a master plot can easily overstay its welcome (and indeed has in every season of Disco to date) but an episode format cries out for more material, especially when a show is this consistently decent.
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Mal
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode. It really feels like a brand new TOS story, a Strange New World, if you will.

Without giving too much away, "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” felt like a cross between TOS' “The Cloud Minders” and Apocalypto.

@Jeffrey's Tube pulls out what might be one of my new favorites quotes from Star Trek. When Pike says that he is telling the Federation the first chance he gets, he gets in reply,

Alora: So what?

@Tim C says, "the notion that there's still miserable poverty within the Federation doesn't feel right to me, even in the TOS era.”

I know it’s hard to think back to episodes like "Mudd's Women” and the harsh conditions that miners are willing to work under, or "Dagger of the Mind” and the state of psychiatric “medicine” at the time, but given all that, it does not surprise me that not everything is rosy for all people in that particular future.

There is a reason we never saw Kirk’s Earth in TOS.

Utopia was a small ship called Enterprise.

Six episodes in a row is no longer a fluke or a marketing gimmick. I think it’s safe to say that this is the real deal.

Star Trek is back baby!
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Galadriel
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 7:41am (UTC -5)
So, this then was the Omelas episode. Although other shows (e.g., Star­gate SG-1) have tap­ped that well before, I think Trek ne­ver did, as it is cer­tain­ly dark material.

And I think it was done very well. I very much enjoyed the slow build­up, and it took me 35 minutes to figure out where the story would go. The last 15 mi­nu­tes than were a well-de­liver­ed pay­off. This is how you pre­sent a di­lem­ma: Make every per­son on every side rea­son­able and honest to them­selves, and keep the script free of dicks, zealots and idiots. Alora never comes along as fa­na­tic or un­lik­able, just as im­pene­trable and alien, as she should be. Her reason just operates on other axioms.

I enjoyed the subtle juxtaposition of Pike’s own future suf­fer­ing (which he con­scious­ly ac­cepts as an adult because of his sense of duty) to the pre­sent suf­fer­ing of the First Ser­vant (which he ac­cepts in child­ish de­vo­ti­on). While I am not a fan of the M’Benga plot­line in ge­ne­ral, it fits well here the­ma­ti­cal­ly (saving vs. sac­ri­fic­ing a child). I find this epis­­ode the most cere­bral New Trek has ever delivered.

Anyone who has crafted a TNG episode of that quality can be proud of them­self; in the TNG scale, it wouldn’t be a classic of “In­ner Light” or “Q Who” for­mat, but rather a tiny step down, more like “Who Watches the Watch­ers” or “Measure of a Man”. This is an epis­ode I’m look­ing for­ward to rewatch, and I gladly award 3½ out of 4 stars.

P.S.: Shouldn’t M’Benga’s daughter be dead now, after all the med­tech had gone on the fritz during the battle with the Gorn?
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:26am (UTC -5)
My least favorite episode of the season so far, though it's still fine. As others have noted, if you know about the Ursula K. LeGuin short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, most of the enjoyment vanishes, because you realize it's not an original sci-fi concept at all, but just a well-executed derivative.

We're now six episodes in, and this is the first episode which is constructed around plot, rather than character. I guess you could call it a Pike episode since he gets a (somewhat tepid) "romance of the week" and all. But he doesn't really end the episode in a particularly different place than he began it. It's hard to see how the ramifications of this episode really will impact his character arc, and I don't think who he is (versus say Kirk, or Picard, or Sisko, etc.) really impacted how things played out. The only member of the cast that may have their trajectory impacted by this is M'Benga, who has a hint of a cure for his daughter.

Since this is a plot-focused episode, and not a character-focused episode, it feels more like an episode of "generic Trek" than the five that came before, which had more of their own unique SNW spin on things. It's well done, but the basic structure could just as easily been an episode of TOS or any Berman Trek series, with only minor differences in dialogue since different characters were uncovering the central mystery.

This sounds overly negative, but it's only because the bar was set so high by the first half of the season, and this just comes across as a well-executed filler episode, when I was hoping they would continue to build depth to the main cast, providing focus to someone who has yet to have their own episode like Ortegas. Better luck next week I suppose.
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modulum
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Holy shit this was phenomenal. This is a tone, and a story approach, that while certainly covered by science fiction at large, I don't think has ever been truly covered like this in Star Trek. Filler? Not any more than than, say "Living Witness."
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Tobias Schächtele
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 9:13am (UTC -5)
First off, while I didn`t/don`t enjoy NuTrek throughout, I am happy for people who love it aswell as sympathetic to people can`t get into it at all.
And like most, I really like what we have seen from SNW so far and want more.

That all said – this was the first really "meh" episode for me. I am glad if some of you wholeheartedly enjoyed it. But I was surprised myself how done I am with the most generic of generic almost human bumpy forehead aliens LOL. Maybe If their culture was a little bit more developed besides the whole "ascention" schtick, i would have cared more. So... basicly it´s "The cloud minders" 2.0 with some slightly not-so-offensive south asian influences with the "Torchwood - Children Of Earth" twist tagged on.
Also, I am aware that is is not cheap to build sets, find impressive locations etc. – but in contrast to the pilot, a lot of the scenery here felt like the did not bother too much making it look alien or at least coherent in art style (e.g. a the a crude mix between temples and baroque interiors and park areas + making "stuff hover")
True to TOS actually, but one of the aspects of TOS i personally do not find charming, but rather disposable....

Still, I was not bored and the plot made basic sense..., so that`s that LOL
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Still a very good episode.
A moral dilemma and that is why this episode is good. Is it right what they did? Is it OK for another society to interfere another one? What makes Pike the "correct view"?
The fact that it raises questions makes this a good episode.
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NachoPicard
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Oh baby this is my jam.

"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omales" is one of the greatest short stories I've ever read and one which had a significant impact on me as a young person.

My favorite sci-fi stories on TV (Trek, Twilight Zone, etc) either adapted classic short stories, inspired them, or were written by short story authors. This felt like a page right out of that classic formula. The short story in this case wasn't even a sci-fi story but they translated it perfectly to the medium.

This episode had great pacing, a good adaptation of the mystery, great character work from the main cast and guests, good balance of dialogue, action, and intrigue. It felt like a TOS episode in how it told its story and even though I figured out the inspiration fairly early on, I still loved the way they brought the story to its end. It's not the same story but they turned it on its head to make it original. Pike becomes "the one who walks away" which makes the romantic subplot meaningful.

I loved it. Love love loved it. I won't say it's as good as "The City on the Edge of Forever" but it might be looked back on as SNW's version of that.

Best Trek episode since the very best of Voyager, maybe best since DS9.

10/10
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Leif
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Can someone PLEASE CONFIRM for me was this episode an ORIGINAL sci-fi concept and nkt derivstive of any TOS or any other sci fi..I hope it's original..I know it a little similar to Dead Stop from enterprise but thatall i see..didnt anyone else want to learn more about about UNQIUE STRUCTURE of this planet and it's sci fi properties? We didn't learn as much about this strange new world as we could have..why not?? :(
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nacho Picard
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
Leif,

It's not "derisive" per se but it is definitely inspired by "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," a classic short story from the 70s.

But the thing is, sci-fi has long-since buttered its bread with stories inspired by other stories. It's built into the medium, since the great thing about sci-fi itself is how it responds to the world around us, to the nature of man, and even to other stories.
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nacho Picard
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
sorry, meant to say "derivitive" not "derisive"
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Walding
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
@Leif it depends on how much similarity you are willing to accept before you call something "derivitive". "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" has already been mentioned as source for the basic idea of the cild sacrifice. You could also see this as an elaboration of "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one" - that would be ST II Wrath of Khan.

What I like about this episode is that you can really debate what the right course of action should be, assuming the Federation had the power to intervene (the Majelans appear to be technically superopr, at least on their planet).
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Jammer
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Tim C
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
@Mal - yeah, TOS certainly showed us there was still a seedier side to life in space (I never really liked Roddenberry overcorrecting that in TNG) but the way she put it to Pike it made it sound like not much had really changed from today. It just rubbed me the wrong way a little.
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Tim C
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Jammer - good spot with Pike's post-coital hair. 😂
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MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
How many peoples College English Professors made them read this story as an example of Leguin’s work?

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Mal
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
@Tim C, Pike's hair is a thing of legend - I was at a pool party over the weekend, and two bikini-clad women were actually talking about it!?
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Dirk
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
I liked it enough to probably rewatch it, and that's saying something, considering I usually can't even watch a whole episode of most science fiction today. It's still feeling like TOS for me - but I agree that this could have passed for a TNG script. It occurred to me as I watched it that there wasn't a lot of Trek involved, but it was still a decent and involving story. I think they overwrote the kid's act at the end - a little mystery would have made it more memorable.
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Tim C
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
@Mal - Pike's hair is always the first thing discussed with my siblings in our family chat after a new episode drops. We are all very approving 😂
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
One of the things from TOS is that there's a lot of ancient functioning technology laying around that is still operational. So I don't have a problem imagining a situation where the locals stumbled across something that could give them prosperity but required a human interface.

It could also have been made by them in the distant past and they've forgotten how it works because they were so reliant on it (like that invisible planet). Either way, its not so contrived as I think it would be in other settings.
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Jimmy
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Gotta agree with Jammer, 2 out of 4. What a great setup, too. They were given the ball at the 15 yard line, and walked away scoreless.

Pike’s reaction to a child ostensibly dying on the cruiser looked like he dropped a corn chip in his salsa. It makes his later tortured-soul routine over the death of the same child later look absolutely ridiculous.

I’m starting to get concerned about Anson Mount as Pike. He has little range to speak of, and everything he says has a vague detachment about it. Its as if he’s the good looking friend of the real captain just sitting in for a day or two. If he nods, says some encouraging words, and gives a stern look, maybe nobody will notice.

Too often the dialogue of the crew seems written by teenage girls, for teenage girls. Almost forgot, SHUT UP ORTEGAS!

Their reach exceeded their grasp with this one, because it was a really nice premise.
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Jimmy
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman. Please, no Ortegas character episode. haha, I will give up national secrets that I don’t even possess to avoid such a horror. Ideally, nurse Chapel will wear a ninja catsuit and assassinate Ortegas in her sleep, but I’m flexible.

I have no problem with episodes that don’t “advance character arcs”. Ever since Chris Carter’s series of the 90’s pushed the notion of a “mytharc”, well-written stories have taken a back seat to absurd soap opera plotting involving the characters. The problem with multi-episode arcs is that they have a built-in conceit to generate drama: the wait for next week.

“Love, love, LOVED IT!” reviews == Mandalorian redux.
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Boris
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I'm going to call this the best episode to date. I can't help it. I intellectually agree with the criticism Jammer and others have provided, but I enjoyed it so much. I'm trying to recall when I last found something of this sort this enjoyable. It must be over a decade. I honestly thought it was me, that I grew out of it or something.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
I’m reminded of the controversy of THE LAST OF US ending that will come up here as there’s essentially two kinds of people who respond to the ending of that and I suspect will have the same reflection in the fandom here.

1:] “What a fascinating moral dilemma! The needs of the many versus the needs of the few. Is it justified or not?”
2:] “These child killing sickos should be nuked from orbit.”

To go with The Last of Us example, one of the things that the developers found out was the younger fandom were all about the belief Joel did something terrible and was selfish. While the older fandom generally reacted with the view Joel did nothing wrong except not telling Ellie about killing the Fireflies.

Here, it’s pretty clear that Captain Pike’s reaction is his ex-girlfriend is a serial child murderer. There’s no actual debate, he’s horrified and disgusted by her. Which I feel is an appropriate reaction but prevents any sort of Star Trek back and forth.

Weirdly, I also note this episode reminds me a lot of “When the Bough Breaks” where the people have forgotten how their technology works and are more or less okay with it since it still provides them what they need. It doesn’t take me being a scifi writer (and there’s several other here on these forums) to come up with reasons that the technology is either damaged, malfunctioning, or not designed for their species but they’ve gotten it to work “close enough” that they don’t care about its cost. After all, plenty of people in our present day primitive society ignore the needs of children suffering to benefit their own luxuries (child labor being just one example).

I also get why Pike’s girlfriend tried to show him the ceremony. She was hoping he’d accept it and stay with her. Obviously, she gravely misjudged how it would go over with him.
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nacho Picard
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
Could not disagree more with Jammer, but maybe I'm biased because the short story it's based on has stuck with me since childhood. It doesn't seem Jammer knows about it.

On the other hand, the episode ought to be able to stand on its own. For me it did, but not for Jammer. A shame.
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Michelle
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
This episode was ok
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Puppylaurah
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
This was the worst one this season. I didn’t like ending at all.
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Derek
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
I nearly always agree with Jammer, but this one I think was a solid 3. Just a good ensemble piece even if Pike was the focus, and still terrifically entertaining to watch.

One thing I thought they were going to do, which I'm glad they didn't, was turn Uhura's phaser shot from the opening into a "Uhura is sad she maybe killed them" plot. Not that NOT using a tired old story is a nice twist, but hey...it was nice.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
[[This was the worst one this season. I didn’t like ending at all. ]]

What didn't you like?
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dave
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
I am not sure what is more amazing ; Pikes hair or the actress playing Uhura. Both light up that show week in and week out when they get lots of screen time.

Very interesting concept over all; reversing prime directive on the federation is a good idea to explore from time to time.

And this is not a either/or situation. They can stop sticking kids in the machine, and their floating cities lose power and are vaporized on the surface. They are unable to find a replacement after centuries of research. So right now it is "sacrifice one child at a time to save our entire planet"; or the entire planet dies. I do like complicated stories like this to think about what we would do in the same situation (hint: most human socities including today would consider that one sacrifice worth it to save the entire species).

I am fine with Jammers 2 stars, it is quite average as an episode but I found the concepts to think about after to have a lot of meat on the bone. Worthwhile for me.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
[[ I do like complicated stories like this to think about what we would do in the same situation (hint: most human socities including today would consider that one sacrifice worth it to save the entire species).]]

They also address that there's a perfectly habitable but harsh world nearby that they could be terraforming or making better but they prefer the luxury of their homeworld and the occasional human sacrifice.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
I don't think there's any question that all societies on Earth right now WOULD do it. The question is, is it morally RIGHT for them to do it.
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Mal
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
@nacho Picard said "Could not disagree more with Jammer”

@Jammer was spot on with DS9, nBSG, Caprica, to some extent VOY, and a large extent ENT. That’s a hell of a record. For TNG, everyone has very individualized preferences, so even if you disagree with @Jammer, it is probably no big deal.

But on TOS @Jammer is really all over the place. "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” is very much of a TOS episode, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it isn’t really @Jammer’s thing.

@dave said "I am fine with Jammers 2 stars, it is quite average as an episode but I found the concepts to think about after to have a lot of meat on the bone.”

Indeed. I keep thinking how different this episode would be as a Spock outing instead of a Pike one. Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or one, and all that.

Also, fascinating that we never see any of the break-away planet folks. It is just assumed that we will sympathize with their revulsion to child-sacrifice, in the same way Pike did. Letting Pike stand in for the viewer and the break-away planet is a great story-telling move.

Another point about Spock I keep thinking about is “Court Martial” and Talos IV.

When Pike is injured in 10 years, Spock now appears to have at least two choices. Presumably the Majalan medical technology has some chance of healing Pike. But Spock must know Pike is totally repulsed by the moral cost of that technology. And so Spock has to risk the death penalty to take Pike to Talos IV.

Maybe that sort of moral dilemma is just not @Jammer’s thing - he gave VOY’s "Nothing Human” only 2 stars as well.

More and more, M’Benga’s arc reminds me of the Babylon’s 5 spin-off “Crusade.” Then again, Babylon 5 isn’t @Jammer’s thing either.

Could it be that "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” is in just that sweet spot where it hits none of @Jammer’s soft spots and all of mine!?
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Ensign Deathbound
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
I was -- and remain -- an enthusiastic supporter of SNW, but I'd say this this one's a bit of a step down from what we have seen so far.

As a plus, I'd say it feels very TOS. It could have been a show from the original run. It has that "Enterprise meets a society that is founded on a strange/weird/alien notion," approach, in which the crew needs to investigate/figure things out, and ultimately deal with it. In that sense, it's most reminiscent of "The Cloud Miners" to my mind -- though of course, here the horrible burden of keeping this advanced and comfortable society going taken up by a child. Echoes of "Spock's Brain" too, though with a darker ending.

I am concerned about Pike tho. Others, along with Jammer, point out that he seems to just roll with the plot, not asking the proper questions. I get that he's just rekindled with somewhat of an old flame, and the future that haunts him might distract him to the point where spending quality time in the here and now is especially important, but there were multiple red (or at least very orange) flags he should have picked up on.

Maybe that kind of thing is more apparent to the audience, which will expect a twist in the third act, but still... questions should have been asked. A lot of questions. Much earlier.

Also, good point @Jimmy : Anson Mount's range seems a touch limited. I actually think this is more a result of the writing as opposed to the acting -- he had broader range in S2 of Disco, i thought -- but the writers need to push him in other directions. We do see him a bit off kilter towards the end, as he is ultimately forced to accept a fait accompli that is very hard to swallow. Still, he should be fleshed out a little more.

I rate it 2/4 cases of Zenite.
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Rahul
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
This is one of those episodes where there's a mystery to unravel and how good the reveal is determines how good the episode is. For me, the reveal/payoff and "lesson" of child sacrifice wasn't good enough. Curious analogy made using the sci-fi of Trek for child labor, poverty etc. There are a lot of plot points and the episode also tries to follow up on various things like M'Benga's daughter and Uhura continuing to excel in her rotation (which is really starting to push it as seeming totally unrealistic). What's also noteworthy is Pike's completely bamboozled here by the woman (Elora?) and has his crew to prop him up with the answers. The final scene with Pike gazing out his window -- must have been like, "Man, what was I doing with that woman..."

Overall, I probably found this one the least enjoyable of the 1st 6 episodes -- lots of stuff seemed arbitrary (the kid's powers/implants) and you just knew that Pike's romantic interest was not trustworthy and there's plenty of subterfuge at play. The many plot points aren't really noteworthy.

La'an (who is one of my favorite characters) was pretty much just a hard-ass with Uhura here, but I did like that she pushes the cadet but also allows her to take the credit for her translation work. La'an is a character of integrity.

As for episodes that this one makes me think of -- there are aspects that remind me of "The Survivors" with the building mystery and reveal although I feel ashamed comparing this to that TNG masterpiece. Also reminded of "The Dauphin" a bit and maybe "Symbiosis".

2.5 stars for "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" -- kind of middling and after all is said and done and a bit unsatisfactory, but the production qualities were visually very appealing. The overall story is decent in a Trekkian way, but I think the message being pushed kind of won't go anywhere. Not a good episode for Pike but the team behind him shined (with the exception of M'Benga who is just thinking about curing his daughter). I think this might be a case where Trek tries too hard, which happens now and then.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
I like the fact that Pike's girlfriend is completely sincere with him (albeit deceptive) and seems to really think he'll come around to the whole "child sacrifice for paradise" thing.

She doesn't even take (too much) offense.
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dave
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:03am (UTC -5)
@CT Phipps

I honestly found that shocking writing that she would be so open to bringing Pike to the ceremony and let him in on the secret. I guess she was blinded by love or so committed that she honestly thought he would see it her way. If I were writing I probably would have had him discover it on his own through suspicion and looking around.

At least we have a clear understanding of why this planet never joined the Federation when invited.
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Ilsat
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:26am (UTC -5)
This one is 1.5 stars. At best. The worst of DSC and Picard is embodied here. You people giving this 3.5 stars and above are insane. Or disingenuous as fuck.
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Ilsat
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Boris, explain with detailed citations why this is better then every other episode to date. And it better be good. You're carrying the water for 20 other apologists here.
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Walding
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:38am (UTC -5)
@dave
I don't think Alora was blinded by love or grossly misjudged Pike. But her culture makes a big point of "not looking away" as part of their justification. For someone to live on Majalis means not only accepting the sacrifice of the child, but also aknowleding it.

So if she wants Pike to become "one of us" than he has to know and telling him straight up (once she is sure he can't interfere with the ascension) is probably the best shot she has. I don't think keeping it a secret is not a possibility. Aside from cultural problem of lying about the Ascension there is the fact that they probably have to do it every few years and none of the previous firsts are walking around.
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Booming
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:59am (UTC -5)
People here make the argument that, yes people today would sacrifice a child (or more) to have a good life. I disagree. While it is true that in modern capitalism sometimes children are exploited, that is still quite a bit from knowingly murdering children. There is a reason that even in antiquity over time less and less civilizations did Human sacrifice. The more developed they became the less willing they were to accept Human sacrifice. India being an outlier but there it was mostly widows and misogyny played a role.

Even today companies spend quite a penny to pretend like they are not exploiting people and especially children, even if they do. Humans have a strong inborn need to protect children. Sure, you can argue that this alien species is different but then the episode has not much of a point.
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Species 10-Forward
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 1:27am (UTC -5)
Agree with Jammer on this one, as well as JB’s comment that this episode was “dramatically inert.” It didn’t grate on me but it just never took off. This was Pike’s worst outing.

The plot points surrounding the advanced medical technology for both Pike and M’Benga’s daughter, plus the true purpose of the First Servant, were so paint-by-numbers for me. “Majalans have cure for everything? We can use cure, make Pike melty face handsome again. But no! Majalans are bad, put cute child in The Matrix. No can use cure. Except maybe can make half-cure help daughter.”

Still happily on-board with SNW, just wasn’t a good week. Hit it!
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Well...it looks like we finally got the "strange new world" that we've all been waiting for. Too bad it's all a little too far-fetched to be believed.

I'm glad to see that so many people got the Omelas reference. And I believe that it's an intentional allusion and not a case of the writers being "unoriginal" or "derivative". That's why they included the part about the fake "aliens" from the L-class planet and the mystery around that, which Jammer rightly finds contrived, but I think is there so that the audience will recognize that they are the "ones who walked away". So I disagree with Karl who thinks that we can't enjoy the episode as much because it's not an original sci-fi concept. I was actually looking forward to seeing the Trek version of this classic story. I just happen to think we can't enjoy it as much because it's poorly executed here.

And by the way, despite what some have said, Pike is not the one to walk away. It's not as if there was ever any question that he might stay behind and live on Majalas with his GF. And not just because of his legacy status. It's because it was established in the first episode that he is first and foremost a Starfleet captain and would always put duty and responsibility above safety and comfort. Even if that means probably being horribly crippled for it later on. There needs to be more meaningful stakes for the one who walks away.

Speaking of which, one of things that I found thematically problematic was that Dr.Mumbles wasn't the one to walk away either since he gets to have his cake and eat it too when he still benefited from their advanced medical knowledge (even if it's not quite a cure). Think about it: there have been many great Trek episodes where the point is precisely that such benefits must be turned down when the moral cost is too high. Or at the very least, the protagonist is given an EITHER/OR choice that proves something about their character. So it's a real squandered opportunity that the premise of the episode wasn't used to demonstrate that the doctor would either, a) violate any moral principle to save his daughter, or b) show that he has some principles that he wouldn't breach to save her.

Another problem I had about the episode was its contrivances and general implausibility. Are we really supposed to believe that a society this advanced wouldn't pack up and move to another planet where they aren't in constant risk of being plunged into lava? All the talk about "sacred this, sacred that" and "we don't know how this stuff really works" is a pretty big cop out on the part of the writers when this society has amazing Quantum technology that is so far beyond what the Federation can even dream of.

Pike's GF does her best to sell this world as a place that could really exist, but she ultimately falls short. Actually I liked that you can clearly tell that she's pretty shady and deceitful, but all of this just undermines her attempt at taking the moral high ground when she tries to compare her world to the supposed poverty and squalor that we're to believe plagues the Federation. How are we supposed to believe that at least they're honest and direct about the moral costs they pay when she lies and conceals the truth all the time? It just makes her look like a massive hypocrite.

You think she's dishonest with Pike because she doesn't want him to misunderstand what they're all about or write her off as evil, so it's pretty hilarious later on when she invites him to the Sacrificial Cave and makes a mustache-twirly show of their worst moral trespasses, including bringing out the corpse of the previous kid. It's almost like she's deliberately taunting him and also the poor boy who has been pressured to share the same fate. Wouldn't it have been better and more in keeping with the classic short story if the skeleton's in this society closet were more...closeted? It would have felt way more impactful if this was a discovery that our intrepid explorers stumbled upon after a more covert investigation.

Some people have been rightly skeptical of Pike/Mount's characterization but I think it just means that he's not perfect, nor should he be. Isn't it just all too human that one's strength in one situation can turn out to be one's weakness in a different situation? I also think that getting a capable Straight White Male within Nu-Trek whose character isn't assassinated (figuratively or literally) means that there are going to be some dues to pay, such as passively deferring to the many women of superior wisdom and judgment he's surrounded by, even when they turn out to be dead wrong. That's why Pike mounts a pretty feeble defense or just goes silent when being lectured by his GF about how much worse the Federation is about having all this poverty that it sweeps under the rug. But if this is the compromise that we have to accept in order to have a decent Captain within Nu-Trek, then so be it.

This relates to another problem I have, that the crew is always so damn sure about their suppositions, even when they're based on some pretty shaky logic. For instance, there are several possible explanations for why the fake "aliens" had the same linguistic roots as the people on Majalas. Such as the L-class world being the original homeworld when it was once M-class, and Majalas was founded as a colony later on. This seems to be a recurring issue in Nu-Trek in general and I don't expect it will be much different in SNW. Even so, it would be refreshing if, once in a while, the crew were proven wrong. Not because they had the wrong facts. But because they used the wrong logic.

Lastly, manning the ship's weapons systems with a cadet-in-training during an actual battle is so incredibly stupid I can't believe they did that. Well, maybe I can. Because after all we can't have Strong Female Protagonists like La'an ever seem weak by making a mistake (unlike Worf) so the only alternative is bestow them with the poor judgment to delegate their responsibilities to someone incompetent enough to make those mistakes for them whenever the plot demands it.

I didn't hate this episode but I can't in good conscience give it more than 2 stars.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 6:35am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one. It's as close to TOS as we've gotten. I think they were missing one bit that could have made this a classic.

Was there ever given a reason why these people (highly scientifically advanced) couldn't just move? You know - something like biologically linked to the planets blah, blah... (insert trekno-babble of choice here) If we would have had that, then the support/horror/reasoning/justification could somehow be more realistic. But I don't think we got that.

I, like probably everyone here, assumed from the start that this kid was going to he "sacrificed" somehow. Even though I knew that, the ending was still a big
punch in the gut. Aren't the good guys supposed to save the day? Especially when Alora said the child will suffer the entire time? How long before another child has to be sacrificed? I was literally shocked here.

The fight/chase scenes were probably the worst I've seen in quite some time.

Does the general population even realize that a child is being sacrificed, or is this played off as some kind of religious ceremony?

I thought everyone's performances were good. I'm especially enjoying Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura and La'an didn't piss me off this episode. Not enough Una for me here.

It was nice to see M'Benga get some help towards finding a cure for his daughter at the end.

... and yes, I have real difficulty understanding him when he speaks.

I think I'm at 2.5 stars.... could have been a classic.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 7:20am (UTC -5)
@ Bryan,

"Speaking of which, one of things that I found thematically problematic was that Dr.Mumbles wasn't the one to walk away either since he gets to have his cake and eat it too when he still benefited from their advanced medical knowledge (even if it's not quite a cure). Think about it: there have been many great Trek episodes where the point is precisely that such benefits must be turned down when the moral cost is too high. Or at the very least, the protagonist is given an EITHER/OR choice that proves something about their character. So it's a real squandered opportunity that the premise of the episode wasn't used to demonstrate that the doctor would either, a) violate any moral principle to save his daughter, or b) show that he has some principles that he wouldn't breach to save her."

What episodes were you referring to? I for one thought "Nothing Human" from Voyager was an idiotic premise.
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karatasiospa
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 7:35am (UTC -5)
A strange new world definitely but not an interesting one
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C.T Phipps
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 8:48am (UTC -5)
[[That's why Pike mounts a pretty feeble defense or just goes silent when being lectured by his GF about how much worse the Federation is about having all this poverty that it sweeps under the rug.]]

Uh no. I mean, disregarding the entire "differing to women in authority" you utterly misread that scene:

1. Pike doesn't say the Federation has poverty. He states that while there's suffering, the Federation doesn't have INEQUALITY and everyone works to better everyone else. They wouldn't sacrifice the few for the many. That is literally the opposite of what people who think it's saying the Federation has inequality and poverty. It says that they haven't cured all evils but they're working on it.

2. He doesn't have much of an argument because he's looking at her as an insane child murderer. He can't Picard this and debate the moral issues because he's DISGUSTED by her.
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lizzzi
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 9:02am (UTC -5)
Well, I enjoyed it, although the ending was sad and creepy. I was on the edge of my sofa to see what was going to happen. For me, this series has scored 6 wins out of 6. My least favorite was Spock Amok, although the ship with solar sails was way cool. Too many people running around doing stuff with too little plot. And the Vulcan love scenes were yawningly tepid even for this prudish grandmother. (Maybe that was on purpose--foreshadowing that the relationship doesn't have the pizzazz to last.) Anyway, I'm not analyzing anything to death. After suffering through DISCO and PICARD, what a joy to see some engrossing Trek that makes sense, with a crew that behaves professionally, and a va-voom captain. They need more than 10 episodes. I just sit down with a tub of ice cream and have a great viewing session. And Anson Mount's hair? Hey, he got up and combed it after voh--dee--oh--doh, and then got back in the round bed with Red. So what's the big deal?
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 11:19am (UTC -5)
@ Yanks

A couple episodes probably blur together in my mind regarding whether or not one should benefit from unethical medicine, that one included. There was also a TNG one where Dr.Crusher kept chastising that researcher for taking risky shortcuts. Just in general, Voyager often plays with the theme of what price is too high to get them hope, which worked for the show since you don't want them to get home too quick or else it's the end of the series! I, for one, enjoyed these ideas, even if the execution wasn't always stellar.

@ C.T Phipps

"Pike doesn't say the Federation has poverty. He states that while there's suffering, the Federation doesn't have INEQUALITY and everyone works to better everyone else."

When does Pike say that? You must be referring to a different episode. Wouldn't it have been a great opportunity for him to speak up and defend his precious Federation rather than just stare at her completely nonplussed and silent?

I realize that there could be a valid Watsonian in-universe explanation for why Pike responds the way he does, even if many of us find it disappointingly lacking. However, my comment about how Pike tends to defer (or at least listen) to women was a more general Doylist rationale that colors the entire series in a way that goes beyond any scene-by-scene analysis.

I hope you can at least see that the showrunners attempt to frame her as having "a point" about poverty in the Federation that should be heeded. Whether or not we as the audience agree that it's a fair point is a separate matter. I'm not so convinced.

I also feel that the debate about "The Federation does/doesn't have poverty" is kind of moot, because it hasn't really been decisively established pre-TNG. So we're all in the awkward position of having to take the word of an "insane child murderer" who has a penchant for lies and deception. Plus, by this point, she'll say anything to seem less evil to Pike.

"He doesn't have much of an argument because he's looking at her as an insane child murderer. He can't Picard this and debate the moral issues because he's DISGUSTED by her."

Nope. Not buying it. His expression at that particular moment is not one of anger or disgust. By that point, he's shifted into Listening Mode and it looks like he's simply not sure how to respond to what she's saying either because 1) he doesn't have a good answer, 2) he doesn't want to admit she may have a point. He just changes the topic.
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Craig f
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Um wow
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Timmy the Tribble
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Alora: *beams in, eyes light up* "Lt. Pike?"
Pike: *looks amazed and pleased* "Alora?"
Me: "Whelp, these two will be boning by the end of Act 2."
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Norvo
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Man, such negativity :-) Inert, slow paced, forgettable? C'mon... It was an enjoyable hour of Star Trek even if the story itself is basically ripped from a 40 year old Fantastic Four story (#254, the rather excellent John Byrne tale 'The Minds of Mantracora')

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/taranith.htm

It would have made a fine mid season episode of TNG or early season 2 DS9 installment.
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
Oh, I should also add that when Pike changes the topic to "I'm reporting this to Starfleet" and she's says "And what? We're out of your jurisdiction" Pike just gives the same deferential nod he always gives to women as if to say 'ahh, you do have a point'. Which is kinda funny since not only does this random foreigner apparently knows Starfleet regulations better than a Starfleet Captain, but it's optically pretty absurd for him to be schooled by the "insane child murderer" in this moment when he should be the one schooling her. Once again, I chalk this up to the showrunners wanting to prioritize a reversal of power dynamics between men and women rather than more obvious and important considerations like Story and Character.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
The problem of ripping off this Le Guin story is that when you set it in the utopian future of the Federation the moral dilemma simply doesn't work.

Also, let me hammer this in (sorry to be repetitive): These writers don't understand the Prime Directive and this proved it once again. Not only does Pike try to violate the PD and needs to be stopped by force (only to say, when he wakes up, that he will attempt it again), but he then claims he will "report this to Starfleet" (wot?) and there is some talk about having "no jurisdiction". Yet more evidence that the writers mistakenly believe the PD is a non-interference rule relative to pre-warp civilizations, rather than a guiding principle of the Federation.
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Maq
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
This was a strange world, although I looked a little bit old. Could the have gotten more out of it? Yes.

It felt somehow as a raw construction of something. It was not really refined.
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C.T Phipps
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
[When does Pike say that? You must be referring to a different episode. Wouldn't it have been a great opportunity for him to speak up and defend his precious Federation rather than just stare at her completely nonplussed and silent?]

Wow, you totally read that differently. Do you NEED to defend the Federation by saying it doesn't engage in child murder? I feel like this is needing to say "water is wet." It's not like Pike doesn't explain how disgusted he is.

Pike: "All of...this...your entire society is founded on the suffering of a child."

Alien: Can you honestly say no one in the Federation suffers in squalor or poverty while those in abundance look away.

Pike: *stares in utter disgust at her*

Then Pike says he'll report to the Federation and she says, "Who cares, we're not members?"

And Pike doesn't need to say what he's thinking, "And you never will be."

[The problem of ripping off this Le Guin story is that when you set it in the utopian future of the Federation the moral dilemma simply doesn't work.]

Weird. I never interpreted there to be a moral dilemma in that short story. I thought the author (Le Guin) was one hundred percent behind those who walked away.

[Also, let me hammer this in (sorry to be repetitive): These writers don't understand the Prime Directive and this proved it once again. Not only does Pike try to violate the PD and needs to be stopped by force (only to say, when he wakes up, that he will attempt it again), but he then claims he will "report this to Starfleet" (wot?) and there is some talk about having "no jurisdiction". Yet more evidence that the writers mistakenly believe the PD is a non-interference rule relative to pre-warp civilizations, rather than a guiding principle of the Federation. ]

Pike isn't ignorant of the Prime Directive. He would actively disobey it because the principles of the Federation are worthless if it doesn't protect life. You can't say that Picard's family should have had an intervention to protect Jean Luc from child abuse and a dangerously unstable mother and then say, "Oh, but these people can murder children as batteries."

Of course, all Star Trek fans know the Prime Directive exists because Gen Roddenberry wanted Kirk to have a rule to be BROKEN.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
I'm rather torn about this episode, as I felt up until the final ten minutes that it was rather weak and clunky. However - and this is becoming a bit of a pattern with SNW - the ending was very strong indeed, with some genuinely interesting (and profoundly chilling) philosophical elements and revelations that were handled quite well, albeit in an all-too rushed manner.

The fundamental premise of this episode was actually rather strong, and the ethical aspects particularly so, but everything played second fiddle to a clumsy attempt to turn it all into a mystery, until the very end. I also felt that the episode would have benefitted from a more central exploration of the relationship between Majalis and the 'conscientious objectors' of Prospect 7, who were unfortunately reduced to a mere plot aside, which would have revealed more about the strange philosophy of Majalis. Pike and Alora's relationship also seemed to be a vehicle to move the plot along until their final confrontation.

So by the end I actually liked this episode, despite the first two-thirds being dull, mainly for its bold attempt at an ethical study (!) of human sacrifice. I feel that a few more drafts of the script could have turned it into a genuinely classic episode. I actually appreciated that the writers and producers at least took a clear moral standpoint on the issue, properly in the vein of TOS and TNG.

Finally, what was the point of Alora's reference to 'can you honestly say that no Federation child lives in poverty and squalor?' That seemed very much like a modern meta-commentary on how absurd, mendacious and naive NuTrek writers and fans typically find the core optimism of the Federation of TOS and TNG, and I really didn't like it.

Overall a mediocre episode that was saved by its ending.

PS: looks like Anson Mount's haircut is making a break for its own spin-off in this ep.
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TheProfessor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Yawn...

That is all.
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TheProfessor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
What a shame.

The first two episodes of this show were great, unfortunately its been all downhill since then.

The last couple of episodes have shown all the worst tendencies of Discovery unfortunately.

I'm predicting SNW wont last more than 2 seasons.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Just want to point out that whenever I watch an episode I immediately come here to leave a comment before I read any of the others (or Jammer's review, if it's up already), so it's great fun to then read the comments and see everyone is busy picking out the same elements (in this episode, Anson Mount's hair obviously stood out). I also enjoy then going through all the points/aspects that other commenters/Jammer noted that I didn't notice (I didn't know of the short story often referenced here).

I agree, by the way, that the fight scene in particularly was very poor. I actually turned the episode off and went and did something else for a couple of hours until I talked myself into giving the rest of the episode a second chance.

Also, I should emphasise that I thought the portrayal of Alora was excellent in those final scenes.

Finally, @Jimmy, I loved 'SHUT UP ORTEGAS!' She really is the weakest of this bunch. Hemmer has had considerably less screen time but I like him already. Ortegas is simply tedious. Pity really as the actress is clearly trying her best with what she's given. Unless the Ortegas episode is a 10/10 revelation I can't see how Ortegas is going to get out the quirky, snarky, contemporary slang of the week rut they've written her into.
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TheProfessor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-snw/s1/lift-us-where-suffering-cannot-reach.php#comment-96806

I fully agree on Ortegas. Just a walking cliché at this point.

Oh and I still cant understand a word the Doctor says.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
I liked this a lot more than Jammer did (three stars), but I would really hope they'd give an actual story credit to LeGuin. This isn't just vaguely inspired by the Omelas story but pretty much totally derived from it. I realize you could say the same about, for example, "The Orville" writ large which I enjoy without reservation, but I see that as different for two reasons:

1. It's pretty obvious to everyone who watches that it is doing a spin on Trek.

2. The source material it is derived from is a huge multimillion dollar franchise of a multibillion dollar corporation.

Whereas outside of niche literary circles, people don't really know about LeGuin and "THe Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", and I seriously doubt LeGuin ever became a millionaire from her writing.
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Ensign Deathbound
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
@Ilsat

"The worst of DSC and Picard is embodied here."

Strongly disagree. Disco and Picard didn't feel like Trek at all to me. Especially egregious with Picard, which features established characters -- you'd think the people involved would be able to refer to 7 seasons and 4 movies (well, let's go with the first two) for guidance.

You might argue "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" is akin to some of the lesser TOS or TNG episodes (and let's face it, there are quite a few), but it's still Trek.
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Ensign Deathbound
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
@Timmy the Tribble

"Whelp, these two will be boning by the end of Act 2."

If anything, I was pleased another TOS tradition was upheld. The only thing missing was the soft focus. :-p
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Ensign Deathbound
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
C.T Phipps

"Of course, all Star Trek fans know the Prime Directive exists because Gen Roddenberry wanted Kirk to have a rule to be BROKEN."

My recollection could be off, of course, but I think the main reason was that it also explained how Kirk wouldn't just show up and interfere/fix the situation. In quite a few cases, he and the Enterprise would be able to "set things right" -- with minimal effort. The Prime Directive prevented him from doing that, and forced him to come up with different ways to interfere and different justifications for making it stick.

Also, I do think that during TOS, the PD was very much a Pre-Warp noninterference directive. It only evolved into a Federation Guiding Principle/Philosophy by the time of TNG. It's a nuance, but an important one. I don't think the thinking on the PD was quite as evolved during Pike's time.
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
@ C.T Phipps

"Do you NEED to defend the Federation by saying it doesn't engage in child murder? I feel like this is needing to say "water is wet."

I'm not sure if you're being intentionally disingenuous or misunderstand me so badly that you think I'd say something as inane as that.

Nobody is saying that Pike needs to be more explicit about his distaste for child murder or emphasize that the Federation doesn't engage in that. That much is abundantly clear.

What's not so clear is whether or not the lady has a point or not about whether the Federation has truly turned its back on those who happen to fall between the cracks and are living in poverty or squalor. You claimed that Pike says that the Federation has eliminated inequality, or at least they are working on it, which would seem to invalidate her argument. Which is why I was so interested where Pike explicitly said that, and also so baffled why Pike didn't simply tell her that to prove that he had the moral high ground instead of her.

So either he didn't really say what you thought he said and are now shifting the goalposts, or he did say that and you are being evasive for no reason at all.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Minor correction from my earlier comment: I said I thought I had rated every episode thus far the same three stars. Not quite. "Ghosts of Illyria" was the outlier at 2.5 stars, but all the others were 3. Still amazing consistency.

@Jeffrey's Tube: "I'll be interested to hear how many people had issues with M'Benga's dialogue after having more of an opportunity to hear him speak because he had the most lines of dialogue so far in this episode. Did the added exposure help? Again, no issues here with understanding him. He's clear as day to me."

Nope, still clear as mud to me. And I was born in Kenya, where M'Benga hails from!

@Tim C: "I think we can call this SNW's first truly original story"

I take it you were unfamiliar with the "Omelas" story?

@Jimmy: "Pike’s reaction to a child ostensibly dying on the cruiser looked like he dropped a corn chip in his salsa."

Although I liked the episode better than you did (three stars, like I think all of them so far?), I agree that his reaction (and that of the rest of the bridge crew) was weird.

@Booming: "People here make the argument that, yes people today would sacrifice a child (or more) to have a good life. I disagree. While it is true that in modern capitalism sometimes children are exploited, that is still quite a bit from knowingly murdering children."

I agree. Look at how much effort people put in when there is a child stuck in a well.

If the choice were "We're all going to die, or one child gets tortured to death every few years", then maybe people would reluctantly go along. But that's not the case here, as they could follow those other colonists to the "barely above subsistence" colony.

@Bryan: "A couple episodes probably blur together in my mind regarding whether or not one should benefit from unethical medicine"

It makes me think of a RL lab I interned in as an eighteen-year-old at the University of Minnesota (Duluth campus). They studied hypothermia with the goal of learning how to better treat patients (often children) who fall through thin ice and are very borderline in terms of whether they can be revived. There was nothing unethical about the experiments we were actively involved in, but the lead researcher also used data collected by Nazis who used Jewish concentration camp inmates as subjects, immersing them in cold water until they died while carefully measuring various life signs (they were trying to come up with ways to help their pilots who were getting shot down in the North Sea). Obviously the original research was incredibly unethical, but the researcher believed (and I agree) that as long as you are not continuing to conduct unethical research, you may as well use this data to help alleviate future suffering. Many people disagreed, and there were periodically protests.

@Bok R'Mor: "Finally, what was the point of Alora's reference to 'can you honestly say that no Federation child lives in poverty and squalor?' That seemed very much like a modern meta-commentary on how absurd, mendacious and naive NuTrek writers and fans typically find the core optimism of the Federation of TOS and TNG, and I really didn't like it."

Yeah, I don't like it either. They are determined to keep chipping away at that and I'm not a fan of that project. But that's the nature of the modern left (as opposed to the more old-fashioned liberalism I espouse): to deny that civilization is making progress (indeed, to claim everything is getting worse, against all evidence--as Steven Pinker has extensively pointed out, or just look at the World in Data website and its graphs showing how hunger, extreme poverty, illiteracy, etc. are all in steep decline).

@Ensign Deathbound: "I was pleased another TOS tradition was upheld."

Couldn't agree more! I always loved Kirk's Casanova adventures. For a moment, I thought Pike was going to beg off, and I was really disappointed, thinking "Aw, c'mon: Kirk would have totally boned her". So I was relieved to see him go for it after that momentary hesitation.
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Ensign Deathbound
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
@Bok R'Mor

"Finally, what was the point of Alora's reference to 'can you honestly say that no Federation child lives in poverty and squalor?' That seemed very much like a modern meta-commentary on how absurd, mendacious and naive NuTrek writers and fans typically find the core optimism of the Federation of TOS and TNG, and I really didn't like it."

It's entirely possible the NuTrek writers feel that way. And I agree that I don't like it either.

I'm definitely one of those who thinks the optimism of TOS was a major draw for the fanbase. Not the only one to be sure -- it's nice to have an awesome crew having cool and exciting adventures every week -- but I can't be the only one who felt something listening to Kirk's uplifting rhetoric, about how humanity managed to leave its sordid past behind to embrace a better future (the ending of A Taste of Armageddon, his chat with Alexander midway in "Plato's Stepchildren," the "Risk is our Business" speech, etc.). Reality might be different, but ideals are what we should strive for. Even if they are ultimately unattainable.

That said, I've always felt that Starfleet and the Federation were fully utopian by Kirk's time. That's a hard fact in my mind. So Alora's speech hit me a little differently.

Her exact words are "Can you honestly say that no child suffers for the benefit of your Federation? That no child lives in poverty, or squalor, while those who enjoy abundance look away?"

My initial take on that wasn't that the Federation has inequality within its borders, but rather that Federation policies can and do impact outer regions and unaligned worlds in a negative way, and the Federation might even prosper from that while still patting itself on the back for being such a great place to live.

Off the top of my head, I'm reminded to Kor's claims that the Federation has been strangling Klingon trade in "Errand of Mercy" (it could have been a pretext for war, considering the Klingons are uber-militaristic, but maybe Kor had a point in this instance, and the Klingons were suffering as a result). Then there's the contentious question of Coridian admission, which is front and center in "Journey to Babel." The Tellarites --- Fed members, no less -- seem pretty cool with the notion of illegal Dilithium mining in that system, while Sarek clearly seems to believe admission to the Federation would relieve some suffering.

I might be wrong in my read of that particular scene, but it would explain why Pike didn't throw back into Alora's face the fact that the Federation doesn't condone child suffering. Yes, the Federation doesn't plug children into machines, but while the Federation itself might be a nice place to live, it's entirely possible that it's making other places a lot worse. Which Pike would know might not be entirely untrue.
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Boris
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
@Ilsat,
I already said I can't explain it, that intellectually I agree with all of the arguments, but at the same time I enjoyed it greatly. I should note that I enjoyed some of the lower-rated episodes of other Trek shows too, like Voyager's "Rise" and "Innocence". I just liked the plot, the action, the mystery (for the record, my guess was that Pike's girlfriend was the one who secretly wanted to harm the first servant; I was sort of right), and the character moments, and everything just seems to flow together well.

For the record, despite your comparisons to Discovery and Picard, I've never felt this way about any episodes of those, although I enjoyed some of them. I feel Lower Decks and Prodigy have potential (and especially LD has a few episodes as good as some SNW episodes), neither has produced an episode as enjoyable (to me) as this one to date.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
@Ensign Deathbound:

Completely agree regarding the idealism and optimism of TOS and TNG.

'Her exact words are "Can you honestly say that no child suffers for the benefit of your Federation? That no child lives in poverty, or squalor, while those who enjoy abundance look away?"'

My reflexive thought when she said this - thanks for her exact quote, by the way - is that TNG Picard* would have answered simply and absolutely affirmatively, 'Yes, I can honestly say so. Humanity - the Federation - once condoned such barbarism, but not anymore.'

Admittedly that would have deflated the ethical tension in the exchange and ruined the scene as a whole, but it's a response I could very clearly envisage of this episode had been written in the first or second season of TNG - indeed, Picard says as much in 'The Neutral Zone'.

*Thanks to PIC we now have to make this frustrating clarification, as 'Picard' essentially refers to two completely separate characters.
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Bok R'Mor
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
@Boris

'I feel Lower Decks and Prodigy have potential (and especially LD has a few episodes as good as some SNW episodes), neither has produced an episode as enjoyable (to me) as this one to date.'

It's up to you what you enjoy, of course, but aren't you forgetting LDS' 'wej Duj' here? I would say that's by far the best episode of NuTrek full stop, and not so far off some of the best classic Trek either.
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C.T Phipps
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
[[Whereas outside of niche literary circles, people don't really know about LeGuin and "THe Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", and I seriously doubt LeGuin ever became a millionaire from her writing. ]]

Earthsea sold over a million copies and she got her biggest paycheck by that awful adaptation of her work. I wouldn't say she's a niche writer either but quite famous in science fiction circles.
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skyelord
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
First 4 star episode for me. It was everything I like about Star Trek without any of the drivel DSC tried to inject into it. Even Ortegas was ok so that's half a star right there.

I'm not saying it was the most original concept ever and you could see much of it coming a mile away but I thought it was nicely paced, acted and felt really well polished compared to some of the more messy episodes (liked Spock Amok with was my least favourite for example).

A nice morality play.

When the leader said about no child going hungry in the federation etc.. she wasn't referring to TNG's Federation and certainly not earth so as we've seen from DS9, not all of the Federation is perfect at all. She had a valid point.

This episode really felt it had an extra coat of polish compared to any of the previous ones.

If this is the direction SNW is heading. I'm all in. Loved it. This is definitely going to be the best first season of Star Trek ever if they don't completely screw up the next 4.

4 stars.
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Alienatbar
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
I’m with Jammer. The execution is off and I just can’t understand the motivation for some of these characters and the plot contrivances that just keep popping up, which they are now even calling out on the show. The real deception here is happening to us where in the end we’ll be the ones to realise that this was the same sub standard guff served up by the makers of Discovery and Picard.

Pike’s fumbling over Alora was just ridiculous from an acting point of view and from a Starfleet Captain. Stow the tired cliches down on the storage corridors with all the other medical pods and cases (seriously, who is looking after logistics on this ship?).

Now if Uhura isn’t our Michael of SNW then I don’t know what she is. She can absolutely do no wrong and again has the answers. Does she have Hermione powers here, because she worked some shit out again in record time behind our backs which helped the plot out and also ticked off the security number 7 thing going on at the same time. We are Piking out here when it’s in front of our face. ‘Spock, I’m your sister’. Oh fuck here we go again.

So this where M’Benga should have been instead of in a river catching salmon with his silly hat. This civilization has phenomenal medical abilities. If you were taking the time to research your daughters disease would you not seek out civilizations such as these? They are not hidden. They established that. And speak up man, do you have the Burnhams?

La’an, you corrupt sneaky shit. If only Starfleet knew? Does this crew even work for Starfleet? They have rules when it suits but as a security officer I’ll break them when I see fit and there’s no consequence. How does this ship function from Captain to Ensign with the flippant misuse of regulations? There’s a big rug in the storage bay with a lot of shit hidden under it. Maybe that’s why everything else is in the corridors.

As for the actual story. I haven’t read or heard of the short story but it makes no difference as we were in typical territory with characters or civilizations not being who we think they are. Was there really any surprise revelation? I don’t think so. Again it’s the execution and character motivation which takes me out of the story altogether.

Shuttles. Can anyone fly a shuttle? They should be banned.

@Bryan
Agree with your reading of Pike here. Get under your rock Chris where Uhura will most certainly find you.
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mosley
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
just an ok SNW episode in my book, but as with the other just ok episode, it makes me super happy to see that very much like in classic trek, the whole trek backdrop and the fine ensemble ensure that i enjoy even weaker outings than even the most "eventful" DSC and picard episodes.

its actually a bit surprising to me. like, i always bitched about DSC being super disrespectful to its ensemble cast by making everything always just about burnam, to the point where the rest of the cast is basically a walking matte painting. i was put off by the weird ensemble choice in picard where instead of a bunch of classic TNG characters, we get this weird random choice of people, half of them having no chemistry with anyone.

so, yes, i did complain about the ensemble aspect in the past. but it took the stark contrast to SNW for me to realize how strong an advantage a good ensemble really is. it makes all the difference in the world. it also now occurs to me that this is maybe why i always felt that i liked voyager more than i should. not always terribly original plots (cough), some actors really not all that great, a criminally underused premise, but...the chemistry within the ensemble was always super natural, arguably more so from the get go than any other trek series (with SNW now aiming to equalize).

so there you go: have a great ensemble with smooth chemistry, and all of a sudden, your show does not depend that heavily on the strenght of the plot of the week.

and since this ensemble isnt going anywhere anytime soon, that makes me a lot more optimistic about the long term appeal of SNW than i thought would be possible.
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Ensign Deathbound
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar

"Now if Uhura isn’t our Michael of SNW then I don’t know what she is. She can absolutely do no wrong and again has the answers."

She's established as a linguistic prodigy, and she proceeded to put those skills to use. She's not leaping tall buildings in a single bound. And how is her being excellent at her job any different than Spock proving time and again that he's Starfleet's best Science Officer, or Montgomery "Miracle Worker" Scott saving the Enterprise from certain destruction every other week on TOS? For that matter, Pike's been a virtual messiah figure since the beginning of SNW.

And didn't Uhura actually mess up a bit when she accidentally took out the Prospect VII ship while attempting to graze them? Setting aside the nonsense of letting an on-the-job/rotation cadet man phasers during an actual red-alert situation, that sure was bit of a mistake. If you're seeing her as some kind of "she can do no wrong" character, then I agree with you, you do not in fact know what she is.

Re: M'Benga: pretty sure being chief medical officer on a Starship is the best place to be if he wants to save his daughter. Constitution Class ships are the fastest, equipped with the best facilities, have the most opportunities for contact, and strong shields/weapons if they run into trouble, which seems to be quite a frequent occurrence outside Federation space.

You're also the second person I've read here (there may be more?) who complains about M'benga's line delivery. Last time I checked, a lot of people on Earth speak with accents. No offense, but maybe you ought to broaden your horizons a little more? Failing that, there's always the subtiles, right?
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Joseph B
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
To me this was a little bit better than a two star episode.

An ending with multiple moral dilemmas is a TOS staple. The show made you *think* about what you might do under the circumstances presented here — and I admire that attribute in a Star Trek show.

Pike’s reaction is one of unmitigated horror as he witnesses this child, in essence, suffer the same fate he knows is coming to him! And he had just described that fate to the woman he thought he loved, and she was still so blinded by her culture that she invited him to the ceremony!!

Just Wow!

The TOS-friendly nature of this plot — combined with what I thought was a decent execution of a hard core science fiction plot device — puts this ep easily at 3 stars for me.
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Alienatbar
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 10:33pm (UTC -5)
@Death

C’mon, Spock got trapped inside his girlfriends body, Scotty didn’t know his ship like the back of his hand and Pike is so casual he didn’t have a clue what was going in this episode and others. Someone who wants to watch that a second time can confirm whether the second brilliant Uhura moment was to do with language. Either way, she’s amazing. The writers want us to know that.

No. The writers think the best place for M’Benga is in a river with a silly hat. No real jeopardy in his daughters situation.

And please be careful in making assumptions on my horizons or the horizons of the more than 2 people who have issues with understanding the delivery of this actor because the first thing I’ll do, is tell the Federation and then, well, you’ll really be in trouble.

And that’s… the power of linguistics!

:)
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
@CT Phipps: Fair enough, and I'm happy she had that much success. My father was a professor of anthropology and used her books as assigned texts in his courses, so I didn't personally have a good sense of how widely she was known. But I still doubt very many people know about Omelas, so it seems like more of a ripoff than The Orville where viewers know it's an homage and whether they like it or not are not going to give it credit for massive originality. In this case, I think there are a lot of people who watched this and thought it was a super creative scenario the show's writers came up with.

@Ensign Deathbound: I vigorously cosign your points about Uhura and the comparison with Spock and especially Scotty. But M'Benga's accent? There are a lot more than two of us who find it difficult to understand. And that's normal when someone has a thick accent. It's also hard to read someone's notes if they have very shaky handwriting. That's not the fault of the person trying to hear, or read as the case may be. I pointed out that I was even born in the country where the character is from!
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Rich James
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 12:35am (UTC -5)
Decent premise, but kind of uninspiring execution. Not familiar with the Le Guin short story - but in good sci-fi “originality” shouldn’t matter - it’s about how it’s done. But this wasn’t well thought out - a lot of the motivations/actions of the alien species didn’t make sense and the plot movements were quite contrived. I think partly because this wasn’t a character episode as we’ve come to expect - there wasn’t an emotional core ot a focal character to anchor decisions around. It wasn’t bad at all - it just wasn’t particularly engaging.
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Bok R'Mor
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 2:29am (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar

I don't agree that Uhura is the Burnham of SNW.

Burnham has Q-level powers and abilities, except she's immortal while Q now isn't (thanks, PIC) and Michael has no sense of mischief or curiosity. Burnham is simply the alpha and omega of everything, whose situationally inappropriate tears seed life and death, and who is worshipped effusively by everyone who has ever come into contact with her (even Pike in SNW, if I recall), most notably her colleagues, who have taken a vow of silence and self-erasure in order to put her on an unprecedented but profoundly deserved pedestal - even rather implausibly stranding themselves in the far future to be able to continue doing so.

So no, SNW's Uhura isn't Burnham: she's closest in fact to Hoshi Sato - the green and uncertain linguistics genius. Nothing more, no less (in my opinion). I'm fairly sure Sato was the template the writers and producers used when planning SNW Uhura.

A more pertinent question might be to what extent SNW's Uhura and TOS Uhura resemble each other - a discussion we've touched upon with TOS Chapel and SNW's 'Chapel'. Both SNW Uhura and 'Chapel' are quite popular (I like them too) and portrayed well by competent actresses, but in the latter case in particular it's hardly the same character as in TOS. And I suppose that's just something we accept.*

To what extent does SNW Uhura match TOS Uhura? Floor's open for further discussion.

*Interesting we accept this change for Chapel/'Chapel' and not, say, Picard (TNG)/'Picard' (PIC), which is also two radically different characters, but that's a can of worms we can kick down the road for now.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 2:32am (UTC -5)
Seems there's a sharp divide on this episode. My first instinct after watching it was that there would be; however, I opted to believe it would ultimately be more universally praised than it is turning out to be initially before I made my post.

To be blunt, I think those being critical of this episode are being overcritical and that Star Trek has never been appreciably better than this, on average, in the past. I think you are having selective memories where you remember only the highest highs and this is governing your standards. I also think, had this episode aired 30 years ago, you would be FAR more forgiving of it, both immediately after you had viewed it and after the intervening 30 years.

But, that's okay. I might argue you should readjust and re-contextualize your expectations and metrics, BUT television and storytelling has evolved in the intervening time and we can't ignore that. It is valid to expect more from a modern Trek series and be less forgiving if it does not deliver to new standards, even if it delivers to the standards of old Trek (which I will firmly maintain this episode inarguably does).

. . .

I'm a big Le Guin fan. Read her entire Hainish cycle, read Earthsea, read The Lathe of Heaven, read Always Coming Home, read a number of her short stories. Somehow I've never come across The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas. I appreciate that you all are so well-read to catch this reference/homage, and I'm going to seek out this story now.

But I'd like to point out that, if I've read all those and hadn't heard of it, perhaps it isn't all that well-known a story? Perhaps? But then again, MANY of you caught it. So rather it could just be one of those weird things where somehow, inexplicably, it passed me by.

(I think she's been rather underappreciated in her time, by the way. But now that she's died, I expect her reputation to continue to grow. Such is the way of things, sometimes.)
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 2:40am (UTC -5)
@ Bok

If we believe that during TOS we didn't see the fullest expression of Uhura's character due to her reduced role, then so far, in my opinion, what we're seeing of her in SNW lines up perfectly with what we did see in TOS. Celia Rose Gooding is a revelation in how well she marries the two, in my opinion.

Chapel, there really isn't any reconciling it. I've personally decided not to care because Chapel from TOS is hardly a "sacred" character to me or even one I had any interest in at all. I completely understand if that's not the case for others and they can't get past it, however.
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Bok R'Mor
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 2:50am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube

Good points. Thanks.

'Chapel, there really isn't any reconciling it. I've personally decided not to care because Chapel from TOS is hardly a "sacred" character to me or even one I had any interest in at all. I completely understand if that's not the case for others and they can't get past it, however.'

This would be my view as well. Others have suggested previously here that there may be room for an arc showing how the energetic 'Chapel' (Bush) turned into the more restrained Chapel from TOS, with reference to Korby, etc., and I do think that could work - indeed, the seeds of her pining for Spock were actually down in the last episode. But it's unlikely that the writers and producers are going to pull a Manny Coto-style continuity repair kit out here, so we'll just have to let it slide as Chapel was a minor character on TOS while 'Chapel' is a main cast member on SNW. As I've stated before, I really like Bush's verve and the 'Chapel' character more generally, so overlooking this particular discrepancy doesn't ruin SNW for me.
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Bryan
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 4:36am (UTC -5)
@JT

I don't think those who didn't like it are being overly critical or just nitpicking. This isn't the kind of episode where the only things wrong with it are the realism or the accuracy of the science, which are easily overlooked. The things that are wrong with this episode the essential story mechanics, the plot elements that the writers dwell upon and draw our attention to, and the disappointing or inconsistent characterizations.

I don't believe these sorts of criticisms are easily dismissed and you don't have to look back 30 years in order to make fair comparison. We already know that SNW is capable of doing much better in all those categories because we've all just witnessed 5 episodes where these sorts of problems didn't show up -- at least not nearly to this extent.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 4:51am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube "To be blunt, I think those being critical of this episode are being overcritical and that Star Trek has never been appreciably better than this, on average, in the past. I think you are having selective memories where you remember only the highest highs and this is governing your standards. I also think, had this episode aired 30 years ago, you would be FAR more forgiving of it, both immediately after you had viewed it and after the intervening 30 years."

I'd agree if the story presented here was an original one. So much of the value of the episode rides on its core moral dilemma... which unfortunately is ripped off from a classic story with no real spin on it. As far as I remember, Old Trek never did this so blatantly.
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Sigh2000
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 4:52am (UTC -5)
@Ensign Deathbound
Yes...It's very close to TOS' The Cloud Minders (1969) Nice point! Theme: an utopian society subsists on exploitation.

If not already pointed out by others, the plot is also reminiscent of the mystery segment of TNGs Encounter at Farpoint, wherein, an innocent being is harnessed by a society to power its infrastructure. The being suffers. The society benefits.

A mysterious craft attacks the society's infrastructure.

The Enterprise crew eventually figures out that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. In Farpoint, that which suffers is freed from bondage. That happy ending greatly softened a story about injustice which Le Guin kept unresolved.
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Maq
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 4:52am (UTC -5)
Sato, Tilly and Uhura differences. Sato had no predecessors and had to learn by doing. Shie did get an informal training. Tilly, well if I remember right the only visible training she got was running faster everything else she alread knew, Uhura although very clever appars like a newbie in all other masters as linguistic gets trained by La'an. I personally feel it unneccesarry to overexxagurating inteligens lik speakin 39 languages but perhaps if you get on aplicant out of thousands you might get the special ones.

To me the difference between ENT and SNW are showing the 130 years development between.

That Tilly appared silly (sorry) is probabyl more because of scripwriters than Mary Wiseman. She was somtimes very good. And yes, her fast track, probably not just runing, was at least mentioned severl times.

Gooding so far has really got it.

Chappel, I have no problem with her so far. Not ever character needs to be in the middle al the time. I do not mind the resue of her character. I also thing the have fited her in well in todays society. I wonder if yeoman Rand will turn up. Her character must be more tricky to fit in todays yesterdays trek.

M'Benga, The Doctor and Plox differences.

I have more problem M'Benga's character and the side plot than his language. As a non native english speaker I somteimes need to concentrate also on Pike among others. His role is to much ego fixated, although its projected on his daugther. Unfortunately this will be, I am afraid, a tedious repeating (never) ending story. On the other side strange new diseases has perhaps been covered enough.

The (VOY) Doctor never needed a daughter for his ego.

Plox used his enormous ego focusing on the wellbeing of others.
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Rich James
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:00am (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar

Uhura is the Bunham of this series? I’ve seen this commented a few times - typically of female characters (La’an as well) but never Pike? If anyone is the Bunham ‘Mary Sue’ type character it’s him. Always makes the right decision, confident, can do no wrong. He even plucked the diplomatic solution from the last episode out of thin air. But somehow, no it’s Uhura or one of the other female characters who is the problem? Come on. She comes up with the linguistic solution because she’s a linguist.
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Patrick C
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:38am (UTC -5)
The fate of the First Servant reminds me of the chapter Rebellion in Brothers Karamazov. The character Ivan poses this question: “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature⁠—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance⁠—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions?”
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Alienatbar
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:32am (UTC -5)
@Rich
Uhura calls out the 1st Servants Papa for accessing bio patterns (linguistics?). As I said unless she had Hermione’s time spell thingy and ducked off whilst the ship was held in the tractor beam, she had literally no time to go check records for bio patterns. The writers could have given this to Chapel perhaps but it’s given to Uhura to further enhance how amazing she is. Now this is probably done to wrap up the needless Lesson 7 security piece but again I am citing the writers for this.
We’ve been down this path with Discovery writers so as far as I am concerned we have been seeing the same patterns here. It’s ok, I won’t be offended if you don’t agree.

Pike looked like a school boy dunce all the way through this. He was even scolded by Alora in front of his crew after the ship was destroyed when that should have been held in private.
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Alienatbar
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 7:00am (UTC -5)
@Bok
‘Others have suggested previously here that there may be room for an arc showing how the energetic 'Chapel' (Bush) turned into the more restrained Chapel from TOS, with reference to Korby, etc., and I do think that could work - indeed, the seeds of her pining for Spock were actually down in the last episode’

From the last scenes of Spock Amok I saw the writers taking the character arc for Chapel off in a different direction. I’m not sure if anyone else had the same impression.
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Bok R'Mor
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 8:25am (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar

'From the last scenes of Spock Amok I saw the writers taking the character arc for Chapel off in a different direction. I’m not sure if anyone else had the same impression.'

I do agree insofar as the sense I got by the end of 'Spock Amok' was that the writers and producers probably aren't interested in prioritising bringing 'Chapel' into line with TOS' Chapel. At the same time it's interesting that they're aware enough of the TOS character (as limited as she was) to already dive into an exploration of the romance(s) angle via 'Chapel'.

As has been pointed out before, there's really no reason why 'Chapel' had to be the same character as Chapel from TOS. They could have given her a slightly different name and modified backstory and saved themselves just that bit of trouble.

There's form for this: Riker and Troi were originally based on Decker and Ilia, among other examples, if I recall correctly.
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Dreubarik
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 8:55am (UTC -5)
I don't see any risk that Uhura could be the new Michael Burnham. If anything the pitfall is her becoming Wesley Crusher. Which isn't a small one.
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Alienatbar
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 9:53am (UTC -5)
@Dreubarik
Hell, there are some lines you just don’t cross. It was a toss up though. Hee hee.
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Mal
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 10:05am (UTC -5)
@Bok R’Mor said, "SNW's Uhura isn't Burnham: she's closest in fact to Hoshi Sato”

Uhura is Hoshi if Hoshi went to the Academy, and was at the top of her class. So basically Harry Kim ;)

But, @Ensign Deathbound pointed out, "Uhura actually mess up a bit when she accidentally took out the Prospect VII ship while attempting to graze them”

Exactly.

Like any cadet going through rotation, she’s doing the best she can. Since she is at the top of her class (Spock said she beat out thousands to get this plumb opportunity on the flag ship), she has done very well in most of her rotations.

But security is a tough one.

Remember the hilarious story Pike told over dinner in his quarters about being caught - literally - with his pants around his ankles back during his security rotation? Security is no joke, and La’an is a tough task master.

Uhura is not perfect - any more than Harry Kim or Hoshi was. But she is adorable, and doing quite a great job for someone so young.

And La’an is a great department head. She sees Uhura isn’t great at the weapons console. So La'an gives Uhura an assignment that Uhura is uniquely suited for (as I suppose @Rich James would).

That’s how we build up the confidence of youngsters. Just like Spock did with Uhura back in "Children of the Comet”. People aren’t born as Kirk or Pike. They are mentored into that form over years. Decades.

@Bok R’Mor asked, "To what extent does SNW Uhura match TOS Uhura? Floor's open for further discussion.”

As I said in my review of the Pilot,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-snw/s1/strange-new-worlds.php#comment-95078

"This actress nails Uhura’s energy. No offense to Zoe Saladana, who is smoking hot, and was very good in Guardians of the Galaxy, but Zoe's version of Uhura never struck me as anything like the original. This Uhura is much closer to the real thing.”

As SNW goes from strength to strength, I stand by that assessment 100%. So I’m with @Jeffrey's Tube on this one.
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Ilsat
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Sorry, but if a society is able to sanction, even revere, the horrific torment of a child, then it is capable of anything. There really would be no boundaries. Advanced minds but savage hearts. You leave the fucking planet if there is no other way for their hokie bullshit technology to work. And every minute you don't, you are complicit in an atrocity. It's just not a believable premise.

Pike is a mentally addled fool in this episode. The chemistry with Alora is way off. Almost inert. The episode telegraphs that things are somehow fucked up so the revelation is only interesting because of how God awful from it is. Star Trek went full blown Saw for effect. Not in the spirit of Trek.

It's also gimmicky to use a single person. If it were 1000 children, perhaps a million, Starfleet isn't going to tolerate it. There would be an intervention. But, hey, the fate of a planet rests on just one person. So, Pike must bitch and then up and leave.

Jammer has it right that the episode is clunky and Pike is just "off" in this. But it's internally illogical to the point that the revelation is just a gratuitous distraction from its clear failings. In that respect, it is like DSC and Picard
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SlackerInc
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube: I agree that "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is not well-known, but as I said upthread I think that makes it a little more "dirty pool" to so clearly crib from it without attribution. (Let's note though that despite my having that and other criticisms of the episode, I did like it overall, giving it three stars out of four.)

I agree with you about Uhura and Chapel. Uhura could have been this character when she was younger/if we got to see more of her. We also have to recognize that on nuTrek, it's a central mission to center narratives of Black women. On Discovery this annoys me because they expand this remit to also mean "no sympathetic straight white male characters". Here we have Pike, so I can live with their focusing on Uhura and her competence/brilliance a bit more to compensate. Chapel, as you say, is totally incongruous but too minor a character to care about the change. (If they messed with Spock this much, that would be a problem.)

@Patrick C: Good catch! I have heard of that book but have not read it. I wonder if that was Le Guin's inspiration?

@Ilsat: "You leave the fucking planet if there is no other way for their hokie bullshit technology to work. And every minute you don't, you are complicit in an atrocity. It's just not a believable premise."

I absolutely agree that every minute they don't, they are complicit in an atrocity. But how does that make it not a believable premise? There have been many examples throughout history of people being complicit in atrocities: slavery and Jim Crow in the US, apartheid in South Africa, the subjugation of Palestinians in Israel, and of course the Holocaust.
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Daya
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Regarding poverty. I thought *Earth* eliminated war, poverty, hunger and famine. The Federation is not a single nation. Just because one planet in the Federation, even the flagship planet has eliminated suffering need not mean all planets have. The Federation cannot dictate the politics or policies of individual members. So Pike's demurring may be appropriate.

Secondly, even if humanity does achieve perfect equality and non-suffering in the future, since humanity's history includes inequality and exploitation, and since a future society rests causally on its own past, in a sense there are children who "suffer for the benefit" of humanity, even if separated by time.

Thirdly, even if humanity achieves perfect equality by some metric they have chosen, it would be rather impossible that perfect equality by every possible metric is achieved or even achievable. To give an example, Uhura was chosen over thousands of cadets for the opportunity of serving on the flagship. There you have it, limited opportunity, and only some able to avail it over others. Maybe it doesn't affect hunger or health, but it is another kind of inequality. Thus, a third reason for Pike not to be able to answer Alora's question.

Maybe this episode is not parting ways with the utopic vision of the future, but approaching it with more nuance.
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Lynos
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this one. Intriguing mistery, a worthwhile, thought-provoking messege and, once again, solid character work. Yeah, you can poke holes in it, but I judge/rate this show against TOS and so far it more than holds its own. A very TOS-like episode, from the reunion with the captain's lover (Kirk did that all the time), and up to the elaborate episode title (if I have a pet peeve with this show is that the episode titles aren't shown on-screen).

I don't agree with Jammer's star rating but I do kind of agree with his review, if that makes any sense. I think the episode deserves another star, though. Two seems low to me.

And now... how funny was that when Pike woke up from being unconscious and then almost immeduatley pulls out his communicator and says "Number One, now" and is beamed up right away? When was this set up??
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Bryan
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
"And now... how funny was that when Pike woke up from being unconscious and then almost immediately pulls out his communicator and says "Number One, now" and is beamed up right away? When was this set up??"

I doubt they they made a special arrangement beforehand. There must be a general understanding between them that "now" is his code word for emergency beam outs for when things suddenly get unexpectedly dicey such as being shown up and made to look like a complete fool by of his child-killing ex-girlfriend.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

“Either way, she’s amazing. The writers want us to know that.”

Again, odd that it’s a stumbling point for you. Other characters in the Trek franchise are über amazing, and the writers go out of their way to show it. But it seems for you to be a problem when it comes to the black female communications officer.

And to be clear: don’t count me as a member of the Burnham Defense League. I was willing to keep an open mind in season one of Disco, but I just didn’t feel like any of her victories were earned, or that the character engaged me on an emotional level. By the time the hero worship started, I was rolling my eyes like many others. But what I see online as of late seems to be a kind of knee-jerk reaction – Burnham rejection syndrome, if you will. Some people feel so aggrieved by Disco that Uhura, by virtue of being a black female officer, now gets red-flagged the moment she makes a valuable contribution. On a ship filled with hyper-competent people who have all kinds of awesome moments of their own, and who never seem to merit the same kind of scrutiny, mind you. Weird.

I could be wrong of course. Should Uhura start performing surgery in her off-duty hours, correct Hemmer on the finer points of antimatter containment, or defeat Spock at 3D chess in five moves, I will be perfectly willing to concede your point.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
@Dreubarik

“I don't see any risk that Uhura could be the new Michael Burnham. If anything the pitfall is her becoming Wesley Crusher. Which isn't a small one.”

I disagree. Wesley was badly handled from day one. It’s one thing to be a child-prodigy, it’s another to bypass all security measures on a Galaxy Class Starship, take control, then lecture the chief engineer on how to turn the tractor beam into a repulsor beam -- something the best engineers in Starfleet would need weeks to do, yet something Wesley proceeds to do on the fly in mere moments.

The TNG writers reigned the character in later on, and he became less awesome/more fallible (note the Nova Squadron incident). Until his ascent as a Traveler, I suppose?.

All this to say that nothing I see so far coming from Uhura hints at anything that is Wesley Crusher like.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
@Bok R'Mor

“So no, SNW's Uhura isn't Burnham: she's closest in fact to Hoshi Sato - the green and uncertain linguistics genius. Nothing more, no less (in my opinion).”

Very much in agreement. The Hoshi comparison is on point.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
@Sigh2000
Yes...It's very close to TOS' The Cloud Minders (1969) Nice point! Theme: an utopian society subsists on exploitation.

Credit where credit is due, thought I had missed the reference initially, re-reading earlier comments I believe @Mal mentioned the TOS episode first. And thank you for correcting me, for some reason, I always referred to it as “The Cloud Miners” when it’s really “The Cloud Minders.”
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Ensign Deathbound
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Bok R'Mor

“Both SNW Uhura and 'Chapel' are quite popular (I like them too) and portrayed well by competent actresses, but in the latter case in particular it's hardly the same character as in TOS. And I suppose that's just something we accept.”

I see more of a divide between TOS Chapel and SNW Chapel, and to be frank, I much prefer the SNW Chapel. As someone invested in canon, I should probably gripe more, but I like the newer version of the character more, and I'm curious to see where they will bring things.

All due respect to Majel Barret, but her brief portrayal as Number One in The Cage/The Menagerie was always more interesting to me than what she did with Chapel (not her fault – she had to read the lines she was given, and did the best she could).

I wasn’t crazy about “Spock Amok” (again, again, why, why WHY no reference to Looney Tunes’ “Duck Amuck”??) but I really dug all the Spock/Chapel scenes. Heck, as much as things appear to go swimmingly between Spock and T’pring at the moment, I’m starting to wonder if T’Pring’s decision to drift off to Stonn wasn’t predicated on the (upcoming? budding? possibly romantic?) bond between Spock and Chapel. Even on a platonic level, the chemistry between Peck and Bush is so good it's already setting off tricorder alarms all over the area.

I’m laying down 400 Quatloos right now. By season 2, we get an episode where Spock and Chapel shuttlecrash the Galileo 7 down onto an alien planet. Just the two of them.

Tentative title: “This time we’ve gone Pon farr”
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skyelord
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube "To be blunt, I think those being critical of this episode are being overcritical and that Star Trek has never been appreciably better than this, on average, in the past. I think you are having selective memories where you remember only the highest highs and this is governing your standards. I also think, had this episode aired 30 years ago, you would be FAR more forgiving of it, both immediately after you had viewed it and after the intervening 30 years."

I agree entirely having watched all of Star Trek as it came out (except ToS - I'm not THAT old).

Whether Jammer agrees or not is irrelevant (no offense J-Dogg). His opinion is no more or less valid than others. For me this is a just about a 4 star episode and I preferred it a little more than the others in the series (I really didn't enjoy Spock Amok much but it was still ok).

People talk like execution, writing, delivery etc are facts when much of it is subjective.

That's not to say there isn't a lower threshold where you'll find pretty much everyone will agree all of those are well below par (DSC/PIC) but even those have people singing their praises.

If viewed side-by-side with the very best of DS9 or TNG then perhaps it isn't 4 star but for Nu-Trek, at least for me, it is 4 star.

Even if you're viewing it pretty harshly then it's an above average episode compared to other above average episodes.

But again it so subjective anyway. The Inner Light isn't 4 star for me but that's what makes these forums so entertaining to read although people to tend to state their opinions as facts.

I believe Jammer stated that the rating system doesn't really carry across shows at some point anyway unless I imagined that.

I'm just happy we have a new show that even the professional whiners are ripping to shreads week after week.

Fact: Discovery deserved it (ok that's not a fact either).

Interestingly IMDB has this episode rated in a joint tie for 2nd place after Memoto Mori leaving Ghosts of Illyria in last place but... there are so few rating for any of them it's pretty irrelevant (Compared to other big new shows like Obi-Wan and The Boys). But then that's just another bunch of opinions anyway.

@Daya yes I thought she was referring to the Federation as a whole. Not Earth which we know to be a utopia. Every planet in the whole of the Federation isn't a utopia. So I didn't see this as canon-breaking.
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The Queen
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
I'd like to address this opinion that several people have expressed (the quote is from Karl Z):

- if you know about the Ursula K. LeGuin short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," most of the enjoyment vanishes, because you realize it's not an original sci-fi concept.

All really good stories have been told and told again. Do you refuse to watch a hero's journey story because you know the Odyssey? Isn't every love story basically the same? I don't think that's the point at all. In fact, when I realized this was a very close retelling of "Omelas" I was impressed.

The point is, how well is it done? Are the writing and acting believable? I'll agree that there should be at least some slight twist/new take on it, and I wonder if the people who complain about this episode really mean that there wasn't enough of that. For me, there was, even though the details weren't explained. But at least it was more specific than the original story, which I don't believe even had any named individuals. If this had been a TOS or TNG story, the computer would have turned out to be broken, the boy would have been rescued, and the Enterprise crew would have taught the society a less cruel way to adapt to their world or found them another homeworld. Would that have been a better story?

Personally I think the title of the episode was a mistake, as it implied a perfection which obviously would have to be broken - and that's not just a "NuTrek" idea but one that goes back centuries in human history, not to mention to TOS. Nor does the idea of a paradise resting on the suffering of a single person originate with Le Guin, which she freely admitted. But even being well aware of "Omelas," I was intrigued all the way through.

I haven't read all the comments, so maybe other people have said this, but thinking back on this eppy, I think one of the strongest elements was the fantastic acting of the boy who played the First Servant. How can you suspect torture ahead for a kid who seems so happy and loved, so kind to M'Benga's daughter, and so downright eager to get to his destiny? When he sees the dead body he quails, but he still mounts the throne without anyone even watching him.

The rest of the actors were equally good - Anson Mount fantastic as ever, and the two adult guest stars were both riveting. But it was that amazing performance by the boy that glued me to the screen.
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Trek fan
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Three stars for me. Not perfect, but this is the first SNW episode that had me fairly riveted from start to finish. It presents a very alien society and leaves a lot of its motivations shrouded in mystery ala TOS, rather than over explaining everything in expository dialogue ala TNG. That’s a good thing.

The best thing I’ll say about this episode is that it will linger in my memory because of the parallel struggles of the child lead and M’Benga’s daughter. This is disturbing because it’s meant to be.

I disagree that Pike looking bad is necessarily a bad thing; the fact he’s distracted by his attraction to a lady from realizing what’s up is humanizes him. I really like how the episode subverts the Pat “captain you’ve saved our planet “ moment (a Trek cliche) by revealing that he’s saved it to sacrifice the little boy. That stings.

I do agree with Jammer that Anson Mount’s lack of energizing anger in response to the final reveal comes across as insensitive and lacking in empathy. Is this guy medicated or what? Jeffrey Hunter was a much better Pike because he got mad in “The Cage” and let his anger clarify the course of action in a desperate situation. His angst also felt real. Again, nothing wrong with showing the captain caught flat-footed with passivity, but this isn’t the same Pike that Roddenberry wrote for the original series pilot. This guy almost seems numbed.
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modulum
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
I see this episode's polarizing, and I suppose I get why - there are some stumbling points in its execution, and it feels sort of vaguely uncomfortable and manipulative in its storytelling. But I land on the side of being a fan, and that's mostly because it ultimately has a really strong concept and that's enough to carry this episode for me. As others have said, it reminds me more of Moffat-era Doctor Who tonally, where the mystery is set up and moved through only to reveal a weird and existential darkness at the very end with no sense of relief. Taking on "Omelas" in the Star Trek universe felt like we were finally walking new ground in terms of the potential of ideas this franchise could explore. In this episode, I see a possible path forward for how Strange New Worlds, and nuTrek as a whole, can establish its own identity while keeping faithful to the overall approach of Trek as a whole.
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Bryan
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
Is Uhura a topic worthy of so much attention? Isn't it just two people that dislike her? Does anyone even care what I think? I dunno, but here 'goes.

Regardless if one thinks the showrunners are pushing her utility and awesomeness too hard or not, the actress brings natural charisma and charm to the character. Which is more than can be said for Burnham and Wesley. She's automatically likable without the writers having to move heaven and earth to try to convince the audience of it.

Forced likability is only one feature of a Mary Sue though. They tend to be pretty awesome at everything and the story logic warps around them so they always come out on top and save the day. Kinda like Burnham. However, there was only one episode so far where Uhura single-handedly saved the day. Maybe the whole music thing was a bit contrived but it legitimately felt like her day to shine since she used her few areas of expertise to help out. The other times she's helped out were either using her language skills or, or she needed quite a bit of guidance from superior officers who knew better. Another strike against calling her a Mary Sue was that she nearly blew up a ship by mistake.

Some Mary Sues tend to be Authorial Self-Inserts, like Wesley was for Roddenberry. When this happens, their strengths get overblown while their weaknesses are completely erased, giving them an aura of Perfection that tends to get shoved in the faces of the other characters in order to prove their utter superiority. Uhura is always well-meaning but not perfect. Her inexperience and timidity is often palpable. You could call her humble and self-effacing. She's also made several errors or oversights that needed to be corrected or admonished by others.

I think where people get confused is that they misread the intention behind the character of Nu-Uhura. They saw Burnham primarily as a vehicle for the showrunners to advance a 'woke' agenda about a politically important archetype, rather than to write a genuinely compelling Strong Female Protagonist that could stand on her own merits, simply by virtue of being a good person who happens to be a Black Woman, and not simply a representative for all Black Women.

There may be some validity to this criticism that is not reducible to mere "bad writing". While the aim of the showrunners was certainly well-intended, propping up such a character to Mary Sue-like proportions actually does a disservice to the very people they claim to represent and benefit. Instead of getting people to shed their prejudices and respect the humanity the Marginalized, it only emboldens them since it seems to them as if the showrunners must resort to a dishonest stretching of plausibility in order to prove their point. It also puts an unfair burden on the Marginalized to live up to a near-impossible standard of excellence in order to gain approvals they shouldn't need to strive for in the first place since they're already worthy of basic human dignity.

But Nu-Uhura is not Burnham. I see her as a revisionist attempt to right wrongs that held Classic Uhura back, often unfairly. If you can call that 'woke', it is so in the best way possible since it truly feels appropriate, just and earned. When some of us tease Uhura about the irony of her reduced future status in light of how awesome she is now, it is not out of spite for the actor or character. We are really just poking fun at TOS for being so unfair to her. In conclusion, Nu-Uhura may superficially look like Burnham, so it almost makes sense that a few people are suspicious that she may become Burnham. But because the logic and agenda behind her existence is wholly different from that of Burnham, I doubt that will happen. Hopefully those few critics will come to appreciate this distinction.
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Ilsat
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Look, this season overall has been pretty good. Like DS9 season 1 quality or slightly above TNG season 2. But it's nowhere near the quality of top TNG or DS9. It's derivative and formulaic and the character development, while good, isn't in the realm of a Garak or Data. Could it get better? Sure, and hopefully it will. But it's hovering around 2.5 stars overall.
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Flair
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

How can I contact you? Your taste in Star Trek is similar to mine but I find your political views troubling. As a Muslim I find your views on Islam in contrast to Christianity misguided. I want to have a friendly discussion over the phone to see if we can understand each other better.
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Ilsat
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
So, Yanks, a friendly discussion with you re your misguided, Islamophobic tendencies. That should be fun.
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SlackerInc
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 1:54am (UTC -5)
LOL, yeah. I don't even get what incited this. Must be something from another thread.

@Ensign Deathbound, you addressed this to me: "Other characters in the Trek franchise are über amazing, and the writers go out of their way to show it. But it seems for you to be a problem when it comes to the black female communications officer."

But you must be mixing me up with someone else, as the quote you attributed to me was not mine (a little Ctrl-F says it's Alienatbar, not really too similar to my name so I'm not sure how you mixed us up). Here's what I said on the subject:

"Uhura could have been this character when she was younger/if we got to see more of her. We also have to recognize that on nuTrek, it's a central mission to center narratives of Black women. On Discovery this annoys me because they expand this remit to also mean 'no sympathetic straight white male characters'. Here we have Pike, so I can live with their focusing on Uhura and her competence/brilliance a bit more to compensate."

@The Queen: "I think one of the strongest elements was the fantastic acting of the boy who played the First Servant."

Agreed, he was really good.
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Booming
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Who wrote something about islam??
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Quincy
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:26am (UTC -5)
This was a good episode. It was at least as good as the first two. Jammer is off his rocker rating this lower than he rated that garbage Spock Amok. There were some mistakes along the way, but all in all a pretty good hour. It's disconcerting, though, that apparently the source of this story is Ursula K. LeGuin, since I despise all things LeGuin.

The ending fit well. However, it's probably what's pissing a lot of people off. Someone suggested that the Federation would or should do something about this? Really? They seem to be reacting to this ending the way I reacted to the ending of "The Vengeance Factor." Even though I preferred the darker tone here, this does make me wonder how they would've reacted to an ending along the lines of Stargate Sg-1's "Learning Curve."

I do think that with a rewrite this could've been a real classic with M’Benga at the forefront of the moral dilemma instead of Pike and his love interest. (They really let him off the hook by having the father defector with the medical knowledge to "point him in the right direction." This saves him from having to choose to lose those filthy, little, misbegotten, bio-quantum implants.) But then we'd have people complaining about they couldn't understand him.

People are totally misreading Pike's response to Alora. He's clearly disgusted by her from the moment he wakes up on the bed with her leering over him. By the time she gives her diatribe on child suffering, his momentary furrowed brow expression says clearly he thinks this heifer is off her rocker and there's no point in talking to her further.

They're also misreading Alora's making a play for Pike. She didn't even attempt to seduce him into her society until she found out about his encroaching demise after seducing him into her bed. Since she was quite smitten with Pike's polearm mastery, she took a calculated gamble, only showing him what was really up her skirt when it was too late for him to do anything about it. She didn't misread him at all. She watched him carefully right up until they showed him the decrepit child carcass on that gurney. She knew exactly what his reaction would be. Hence, the "don't look away" comment. She had no reason NOT to do this. She wanted him. And the only way she was going to have him is if he joined her sick society. Therefore, she rolled the dice that his life was more important to him than his morality and came up craps.

I guffaw every time someone claims someone in NuTrek is a Mary Sue. Kirk was the original Mary Sue. He's the Kobayashi Maru killer who doesn't like to lose. When someone said above "or defeat Spock at 3D chess" he should've been talking about Kirk. You know... the guy Spock NEVER ONCE beat at 3D chess. It took Kirk to explain to Spock, the ship's science officer, that one of the major properties of a star is that... it shines. Nobody else could possibly figure that out. It absolutely had to be Kirk. That's why Kirk went on all those away missions. Some science guy MIGHT need his own field explained to him. It's also why it wasn't Spock that fought Khan with his Vulcan strength. No. Khan required Kirk's devastating double hammer fist. Nothing else would've stopped him. Because when you've got a big bad like Khan you go with the nuclear option.
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SlackerInc
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:53am (UTC -5)
@Quincy, you "despise all things LeGuin"? Why?!?
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Dreubarik
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 5:46am (UTC -5)
I agree Uhura isn't yet a Wesley Crusher. I said there is a "risk" that this happens if they keep being heavy handed about her saving the day every time (as a reminder, Wesley also occasionally messed up, such as when he let nanites loose on the ship). I will also agree the the actress' likability and talent give wider room for the writers to make her awesome without triggering the opposite reaction in the audience. But I think they need to be careful because right now they are getting a bit too close to the edge, IMO.

On Omelas: I'm not against Star Trek being able to adapt classic sci fi stories in an episode. But 1) with proper credit and 2) trying to bring something additional to the table in how it is adapted. This was an uncredited adaptation that rode almost entirely on the end reveal (a revel which is someone else's creation) rather than giving us the entire picture earlier on and then writing some compelling reflection on it.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 6:29am (UTC -5)
@Mal

"Without giving too much away, "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” felt like a cross between TOS' “The Cloud Minders” and Apocalypto."

Apocalypto came to my mind too (and btw that movie's last scene was a shameless lift out of the original Lord of the Flies)... But when thinking about child sacrifice in ancient cultures, the ready examples are the Inca practice of capacocha and the evidence found in Carthaginian tophets.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-01-23-ancient-carthaginians-really-did-sacrifice-their-children
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skyelord
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 6:31am (UTC -5)
I don't get where all this Uhuru stuff is coming from. Do people want her to be crap at her job?

Every crew in all Star Trek's have been the "best crew in the Star Fleet" (somewhat ridiculously).

She is thankfully nothing like SMG/Burnham and apart from that dreadful scene when she was stuck in engineering with Hemmer she's has been a good character (and actor).
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Ensign Deathbound
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 6:55am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

"But you must be mixing me up with someone else, as the quote you attributed to me was not mine (a little Ctrl-F says it's Alienatbar, not really too similar to my name so I'm not sure how you mixed us up)."

That was completely my bad. Apologies for the mix-up.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 7:03am (UTC -5)
@Bryan

"But Nu-Uhura is not Burnham. I see her as a revisionist attempt to right wrongs that held Classic Uhura back, often unfairly."

That's my take as well. The fact that she's a character from TOS puts a spotlight on her. She comes in with a built-in measure of awesome. Same as Spock and Pike, and very likely for other TOS characters that might/will (?) be introduced at some point.
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Yanks
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Flair

"How can I contact you? Your taste in Star Trek is similar to mine but I find your political views troubling. As a Muslim I find your views on Islam in contrast to Christianity misguided. I want to have a friendly discussion over the phone to see if we can understand each other better."

Ilsat

"So, Yanks, a friendly discussion with you re your misguided, Islamophobic tendencies. That should be fun."

What on earth are you guys referring to?
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Alienatbar
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 8:32am (UTC -5)
@Death
‘But it seems for you to be a problem when it comes to the black female communications officer.’

@Slacker
‘We also have to recognize that on nuTrek, it's a central mission to center narratives of Black women.’

What a ridiculous assumption to make. Your comment says more about you than me @Death. I’m discussing a character as they’re written so keep it on track. If you want to go fishing talk to the doctor.
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Ilsat
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Yanks, not a clue. I figured you might have some idea who this clown is.
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Ensign Deathbound
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 11:08am (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar

"If you want to go fishing talk to the doctor."

You forgot to add in the dig about "his silly hat."
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theBgt
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 11:53am (UTC -5)
The biggest mystery of this series is why the Doctor speaks like this? is he a distant relative of Burnham and whispering is a tradition in the family?
I dunno, but combining it with his hoarse voice it is torture listening to him talking.

Of course maybe even bigger mystery is why he is still aboard this ship as he has no issue compromising its security in order to save his daughter. Thinking about it, that's the opposite of what the Majalans are doing. He has no problem endangering the many to save one, when the Majalans have accepted the suffering of one in favor of the many.
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Quincy
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
SlackerInc
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:53am (UTC -5)
"@Quincy, you "despise all things LeGuin"? Why?!?"

Isn't that the woman who mixes anarchism with communism and/or socialism? Essentially ANYTHING BUT capitalism is somehow worth pursuing. It's been 30 years since I read The Dispossessed and other stuff I can't even remember the names of, so I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

I lol'd when someone above said she didn't make enough money for her work, or something to that effect. I'm pretty sure this devout hater of capitalism absolutely had $$$ squirting out the wazoo from that Earthsea crap, if nothing else. Yep, just googled it. She was worth millions.

How did Spider Robinson put it? "If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron." And so is Ursula K. LeGuin!
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Booming
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
I just want to mention that you can be rich and whatever LeGuin was. Friedrich Engels was wealthy and he co wrote "Das Kapital". The main financier of the Russian revolution was *gasp* also rich. Ernest Hemingway was rich. I never understood why some people think you have to be poor when you are socialist (or other). Maybe she gave a lot of it away, maybe she sat on it like Smaug. Who cares. She was a writer. If somebody hates a writer because she/he isn't pro capitalism, well ok. Personal decision. But implying that probably most successful female sci fi author is some kind of fraud because her books made money is not nice.

"Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2v7RDyo7os
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Sen-Sors
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
"You want to improve society yet you participate in society... Curious!" Wow dude, good one. So smart!

If you're poor and you talk about inequality, it's cause you're jealous. If you're rich and you talk about inequality, you're a hypocrite. It's as if there's a large segment of society that just doesn't want to talk about inequality, ever! Weird!
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Ilsat
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
Quincy, I would've probably started my speech with "Isn't that the PERSON who..." Ursula's gender seems irrelevant, even to the point you're making.
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Bryan
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
From the little I've heard and read of Ursela LeGuin, I get the sense that she's generally revered since she took science fiction and fantasy in refreshingly novel and interesting directions, not because she writes any direct one-to-one socialist apologia. But I guess some people aren't satisfied unless a science fiction writer contributes the massive heap of hyper-capitalist dystopias or militaristic libertarian wet dreams that saturates the market.
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C.T Phipps
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
Uhura's actions have largely been translating stuff, which is her job, so I don't see the problem.

The other time was just doing what Hemmer ordered her too because he was crippled.
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Gorn with the Wind
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
If Quincy would care to revisit The Dispossessed, they’d learn that it is far from anarchist propaganda and that the main character has a few more layers than a Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy protagonist. They’d also find a lot of “triggering” material and potentially need to seek out a safe space on Gab or Parler. Wherever they go, I hope it’s not here.
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Quincy
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
"If somebody hates a writer because she/he isn't pro capitalism, well ok. Personal decision. But implying that probably most successful female sci fi author is some kind of fraud because her books made money is not nice."

I don't hate her because she's anti-capitalism. I hate her body of work (at least that which I've read) because she's an anti-capitalist hypocrite preaching for systems that are easily more morally bankrupt than the one she's preaching against.

Fraud? Is that what I called her? Or did I simply point out that someone is a hypocrite when she constantly preaches for the downfall of a system that provides her with a livelihood that the vast majority of people living under ANY system will never reach. Meanwhile, that same person constantly extolls the virtues of systems that have at least as many mutilated bodies lying in their wake. I don't recall saying she was a fraud. A fraud how? Did she sell someone a book without any pages in it and refuse to give a refund? I never made such a claim. Someone can be a hypocrite without committing fraud.

Also, I hate to admit it, but you might be right about LeGuin being the most successful female sci fi author. That's very disconcerting. I would say Octavia Butler (even though some of her work has been known to tilt towards misery porn now and again), but she doesn't have anything to my knowledge that's been turned into a profitable adaptation, like LeGuin. Bummer. I like some of Butler's work a helluva lot more than LeGuin.

One last thing, Booming, are you the nicest person on this board? Is "not nice" an accusation that you of all people should really be leveling at anybody other than lady in the mirror? I'll admit you've been much less trollish of late than at times in the past, but c'mon now.


@Ilsat
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
"Quincy, I would've probably started my speech with "Isn't that the PERSON who..." Ursula's gender seems irrelevant, even to the point you're making."

Ilsat, in this thread alone, you're randomly insulting people you haven't conversed with, calling them "insane. Or disingenuous as fuck," "apologists," and weirdly echoing unknown, unsubstantiated allegations of "misguided, Islamophobic tendencies." I don't believe I'll be taking any speech recommendations from you. Also, I never claimed her gender was relevant to my point. That's actually an ass pull on your part.

One wonders if you would have even troubled yourself to type these misguided recommendations if when Booming mentioned Friedrich Engels, I said, "Isn't that the dude that co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Marx?" I suspect not, even though I'm pretty sure I would've been far less kind to Engels than I was to LeGuin.


@Bryan
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
"From the little I've heard and read of Ursela LeGuin, I get the sense that she's generally revered..."

Wait... so you've barely read the woman, but people other than you love her, so magically that somehow means that someone who's not one of those people likes hyper capitalistic dystopias and militaristic libertarian wet dreams?

Do you even logic?

I can't even name a hyper capitalistic dystopia. Can you recommend one? The colorful name you gave it makes me want to go read one, just for the novelty. I can, however, name some militaristic libertarian wet dreams, but not ones that I liked.
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Quincy
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
@Gorn with the Wind
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
"If Quincy would care to revisit The Dispossessed, they’d learn that it is far from anarchist propaganda and that the main character has a few more layers than a Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy protagonist. They’d also find a lot of “triggering” material and potentially need to seek out a safe space on Gab or Parler. Wherever they go, I hope it’s not here."


Who's "they"?

I never claimed The Dispossessed was "anarchist propaganda" and, no, I'm not going to revisit it.

I've never even heard of Clive Cussler. And I've never read anything by Tom Clancy, so I'll take your word for it.

I don't get triggered, but you apparently just did.

WTF is Gab or "Parler"?

Wherever YOU go there YOU are. Bummer.
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Bryan
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy

"...that somehow means that someone who's not one of those people likes hyper capitalistic dystopias and militaristic libertarian wet dreams? Do you even logic?"

The logic was not that if you like dislike LeGuin, you therefore must love those other things. Rather, the logic was that you must at least be pretty complacent with the vast majority of science fiction that never deviates from the same capitalistic cookie cutter. It any case, my point was not "how dare you like capitalist fiction". I just found it odd that you're so averse to work that broadens the horizons of the genre into the realm of the innovative or refreshingly new and different. I think writers that take chances like that should be applauded, not chastised for not giving you yet another one of the same.

"I can't even name a hyper capitalistic dystopia. Can you recommend one? The colorful name you gave it makes me want to go read one, just for the novelty."

I suppose I'd start with William Gibson and his cyberpunk stuff, which eventually mutated into dozens of subgenres that all have the -punk suffix. But I would also extend the label more generally to any work where the protagonists must suffer through a pretty bleak standard of living and are barely scraping together enough credits to get by even as they do odds jobs that they don't really want to do, and this is the norm for the majority of people in that world. The Expanse ought to count, at least from the perspective of the Belters. In theory, Dune might count as well if it didn't focus so heavily on the Great Houses and the Privileged Few.
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MidshipmanNorris
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
Another day, another comment thread hijacked by intellectual pissing contests.

“I said gimme THE BRANDY!!!” 🎺 🎺 🎶
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Quincy
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
@MidshipmanNorris
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
"Another day, another comment thread hijacked by intellectual pissing contests.

“I said gimme THE BRANDY!!!” 🎺 🎺 🎶"


Duly noted.

I usually try to avoid these, but in answering SlackerInc's question with a fairly short reply, I didn't expect to return to an episode of "When LeGuin Fans Attack!"


@Bryan
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 9:46pm (UTC -5)

Unfortunately, I don't like William Gibson. I dislike most cyberpunk, except maybe one book by Neal Stephenson more than 20 years ago.

I don't read the vast majority of sci fi, because I don't like the vast majority of modern sci fi. If that's complacent to the vast majority of sci fi then... okay.

Dystopias aren't my favorite genre, but sometimes I find them interesting. I've never heard anyone describe Dune as "hypercapitalistic" and I came by The Expanse from the TV series. I've only read one book. The completely different tone of the book relative to the series makes me not want to continue.

The last sci fi I invested a lot of time in reading was the Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy.

In any case, I don't think LeGuin was "innovative or refreshingly new and different" 30 years ago when I read her. Certainly not now.

That's about all I have to say on this topic. I unintentionally derailed the thread, which I'm not fond of doing.
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Booming
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 12:33am (UTC -5)
@Quincy
"I hate her body of work (at least that which I've read) because she's an anti-capitalist hypocrite preaching for systems that are easily more morally bankrupt than the one she's preaching against."
Well, at first you wrote: "I despise all things LeGuin." That goes a little beyond "I hate her work" and your statement seems to confirm that you hate her work because she has a different view on our economical system.

"Fraud? Is that what I called her?"
You implied it. I didn't mean it in a legal sense obviously.

"Or did I simply point out that someone is a hypocrite when she constantly preaches for the downfall of a system that provides her with a livelihood that the vast majority of people living under ANY system will never reach."
I guess you could say that about basically all of the American revolutionaries. Or famous writers like Tolstoi. Also to underline that, not the entire system but economical system. Plus, she wrote fiction, not the Politeia.

"One last thing, Booming, are you the nicest person on this board? Is "not nice" an accusation that you of all people should really be leveling at anybody other than lady in the mirror? I'll admit you've been much less trollish of late than at times in the past, but c'mon now."
What does that mean? That I can not call somebody out for mixing together things that really have nothing to do with each other?
As I said, if you want to hate her work because, in your view, she was "preaching for the downfall of a (our) system", fine, your decision but coming in here and calling somebody a hypocrite because she was successful in a system that she had problems with is just not nice. You attacked her character, not her work. That's what I have a problem with.
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skyelord
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 4:58am (UTC -5)
"ass pull"?
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Ilsat
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Quincy, I was defending Yanks from the unsubstantiated attack, not echoing it, you complete fool. Jesus, did you even read the follow up? No, because you're too busy with your booze-propelled diatribe. And, yes, I've called people out for being overly Polyannish
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Ilsat
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 8:20am (UTC -5)
For everyone else, I get the feeling Quincy hasn't read much of anything. He claims he doesn't like the vast majority of "modern" sci fi, but hasn't read much of it so he hasn't a clue. Instead he pigeonholes the entire genre into odd generalizations. He does this to justify his own ignorance of a subject. He claims LeGuin wasn't especially groundbreaking TO HIM 30 years ago and "certainly not now." Yet, his descriptions of her work reek of someone cannibalizing writeups online rather than having any legit insights of their own. God forbid, as society evolves, works such as hers might continue to inspire thought decades later. Oh no, since Quincy pronounced judgment 30 years ago, LeGuin's significance becomes a fly stuck in amber for all time. He should've apologized for dumbing down this thread, not hijacking it.
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Mal
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 8:58am (UTC -5)
I read LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and it was ok, nothing special. From that book, she certainly didn't seem to be worth all the hoopla she seems to engender. But if you're saying this episode is based on one of her later works, then so be it. I like the episode a ton either way!

That said, Omelas sounds fascinating. I'll have to take a read.

If SNW brings some old scifi classics to life on screen, it'll be doing us all a great service. Certainly Foundation has proven to be a complete FRAUD.

@Ensign Deathbound said, "I’m laying down 400 Quatloos right now. By season 2, we get an episode where Spock and Chapel shuttlecrash the Galileo 7 down onto an alien planet. Just the two of them.

Tentative title: “This time we’ve gone Pon farr”"

LOL. You're hilarious! But yes, Chapel is going to be a real stand out for this show - if they can keep her. She's the type - like Tasha - that might just skip town on us...
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RobSolf
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 9:52am (UTC -5)
While I agree with Jammer about some of the mechanics of the episode, I found it to be a 3, easily. The "super intelligent kid" thing is really hard to pull off with a child actor at that age, but he does a great job, and his lines sound natural and convincing, IMO. Where there are some things that are clunky about the episode, that makes up for a great deal of it, IMO.

And my favorite thing: This is a perfect example of how to sell a moral ideal in comparison to Picard or Disco. Picard creates this cartoonish narrative in the ICE/immigration vein that sends even the most liberal/progressive among us into cringe seizures. Meanwhile, in the wake of yet another slaughter of children in a classroom, SNW points the finger in a more thoughtful way: "You judge us for sacrificing this child... how many children do YOU impoverish/condemn to suffering/allow to die to uphold your precious federation?"

It's so hard to believe these shows share so much as a key Grip. The quality of writing just doesn't come close. The difference in respect for the audience is as stark as it gets.
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Booming
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Gun rights. Interesting take. It's true, a few dozen children are sacrificed for that special American right. In Europe we kind of stopped caring, though. US school shootings are like the middle east now. There will be no improvement during the next few decades so why even waste a thought on it.
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Ilsat
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Booming, there's legislation on the table now. But the Senate version, unfortunately, fails to eliminate the gun show loophole and does virtually nothing to limit semi-automatic weapons purchases. Still, it's a first step. Republicans forget that Reagan himself was in favor of an assault weapons ban. And he was an ardent supporter of the NRA. So, I'm cautiously optimistic we'll get there someday. Just not with the present leadership.
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Mal
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
I went back and re-watched The Cloud Minders, and a few things stuck out for me.

First, Spock and Droxine have an immediate chemistry,

Droxine: I have never before met a Vulcan, sir.

Spock: Nor I a work of art, madam.

This is nicely mirrored in "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” with Pike and Alora, except in "Clouds," Spock grew more eloquent when he saw beauty, while here, Pike became less so.

More interesting is the fact that in Cloud Minders, the planet is a member of the Federation

KIRK: Ardana is a member of the Federation, and it is your council's responsibility that nothing interferes with its obligation to another member of the Federation.
PLASUS: Of course, and we accept the responsibility.

And yet,
- Kirk is unable to interfere with it’s internal workings,

PLASUS: You will return to your ship at once or I shall contact your Starfleet command myself and report your interference with this planet's government.
KIRK: Kirk to Enterprise.
SCOTT: Enterprise, Captain.
KIRK: Mister Scott, we're ready to beam up.

And,
- this Federation planet is deeply unequal.

SPOCK: In other words, they perform all the physical toil necessary to maintain Stratos.
DROXINE: That is their function in our society.
SPOCK: But they are not allowed to share its advantages.

DROXINE: The complete separation of toil and leisure has given Ardana this perfectly balanced social system, Captain. Why should we change it?
SPOCK: The surface of the planet is almost unendurable. To restrict a segment of the population to such hardship is unthinkable in an evolved culture.

PLASUS: Troglytes are not like Stratos dwellers, Mister Spock. They're a conglomerate of inferior species.

Like holy fuck.

Read that again!

PLASUS: Troglytes are not like Stratos dwellers, Mister Spock. They're a conglomerate of inferior species.

@Ensign Deathbound notes that "in "Journey to Babel." The Tellarites --- Fed members, no less -- seem pretty cool with the notion of illegal Dilithium mining”

I’m so glad @Ensign Deathbound brought up Journey to Babel. Like "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”, that is another episode where I am on record completely disagreeing with @Jammer’s star-rating,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tos/s2/babel.php#comment-80468

I think people have something of an over-inflated and downright rose-tinted picture of what the Federation was, as imagined by Genes Roddenberry and Coons.

In Cloud Minders, we have a Federation planet where one race treats another race essentially as garbage, because they are a mongrel inferior people. And there is nothing Kirk can do about it,

PLASUS: You will return to your ship at once or I shall contact your Starfleet command myself and report your interference with this planet's government.

PLASUS: If Captain Kirk appears again, kill him.

Which seems way over the top. This is more in line,

PLASUS: Your Federation orders do not entitle you to defy local governments.

But it turns out, they really could kill Kirk if they want to,

SPOCK: Captain, if you are apprehended deliberately violating the High Advisor's orders, he will be within his rights to have you executed, if he chooses.

So not only does this Federation member planet very much have the death penalty, they can invoke it if you try to interfere with their racist subjugation of fellow Federation citizens!

Remember friends, there is a lot more to Star Trek than TNG.
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Ilsat
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Lastly, for the record I apologize for calling people disingenuous for liking this episode. That wasn't fair. The comparisons to human examples in which people stand by and watch atrocities occur is apt.
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SlackerInc
Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy: I reread THE DISPOSSESSED recently, and LeGuin is very balanced in showing the flaws and hypocrisies of the self-styled utopian society on Anarres. The protagonist has to flee for his life to Urras just to pursue his physics research! And then on Urras, the analogue to the Soviet Union is portrayed even more harshly.
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Bert
Tue, Jun 14, 2022, 4:28am (UTC -5)
This was not the most original thing ever, but it felt like actual Star Trek. Loving this series - no shit characters, a good captain (I love how calm Pike is), and the showrunners seem to know what they are doing for once. Probably the best first season of any of the Treks - I hope they can keep it up!
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Token
Tue, Jun 14, 2022, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
I was dissapointed by the late reveal of the ethical dilemma. It would have been interesting to have different crew members offer their takes on it, especially Spock and La'an. Not that I think anyone should advocate for child sacrifice, but it's a compelling dilemma that we're only given a moment to process before it's time to wrap the story up in a death shroud and wheel it out of the throne room.

Pike had a bad case of passenger syndrome this episode.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 14, 2022, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
@RobSolf

"While I agree with Jammer about some of the mechanics of the episode, I found it to be a 3, easily. The "super intelligent kid" thing is really hard to pull off with a child actor at that age, but he does a great job, and his lines sound natural and convincing, IMO."

I forgot to mention this. Agree!! The kid actor was fantastic!
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Mal
Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Yes @Yanks, best child actor since the Picard episode "Nepenthe".

@Jammer called out the child actor in Nepenthe specifically ("the teenage daughter of Riker and Troi, who ranks very high on the list of child characters to appear on Star Trek").

As did I,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-picard/s1/nepenthe.php#comment-70693

"I’m happy to say that young Kestra’s girl-crush on Soji was both endearing and organic, and frankly very charming"

@Jammer missed it here. Another reason why I think he was a little grumpy when he saw this episode ;)

Also, I just don't think he likes the romantic episodes. E.g., 1 1/2 stars for Captain's Holiday, and Zero stars for Let He Who Is Without Sin...

Each should have been a star higher. As should this episode.
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Luigi Novi
Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
*** Jamahl Epsicokhan: "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach" is the first episode of SNW that really didn't work for me. ***

Erie. I was thinking the exact same thing.

Or maybe it's not so eerie, given the episode.
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Corey
Thu, Jun 16, 2022, 9:43am (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer’s criticisms of the episode. Decent but not great. But can we talk about Pike’s hair? It was tall to the point of distraction! Made me think if the Skrreean women from DS9’s “Sanctuary.” Or even approaching 80’s “mall bangs.” That said this is the best Nu Trek series by far. Episodic with continuity fits Star Trek best.
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Anonymius
Tue, Jun 21, 2022, 9:35am (UTC -5)
The problem with the prime directive (at least the definition here) is that it's very much the definition from the berman era. The problem is, that was mostly during the 90s, that post cold war era of globalisation where we were trying to learn to tolerate other people's culture regardless of if it conflicted with our own sense of morality, and yet we've moved on from that mentality. Don't believe me, check out the website of them0vieblog where he reviews the episode of ds9 where sisko tells jake that nog was raised on a different culture and contrast that with the reviewer's own view that "misogyny is misogyny."
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Willy Lovington
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
If I were the Federation, I would call for the assistance of my favourite Captain, James Tealeaves Kirk to give these rascals a good telling off. It worked in the good old days. There'd be a fist fight, the duh duh duuuh duh-duh-duh music and then Scotty would say she canne take it captain. Has Spock raised his eyebrow? He used to do that a lot.

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