Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Episode Review - Fallen Hero (Enterprise, Season 1)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here




Overview – The Enterprise, en route to the planet Risa for some much needed shore leave, is sent to Mazar to escort a disgraced Vulcan ambassador, V’Lar, back to Vulcan. V’Lar is also a hero to T’Pol, and displays very unusual qualities and mannerisms for a Vulcan (such as shaking hands and engaging in idle conversation with others). As T’Pol learns that her once idol is not what she had hoped she would be, the Enterprise is attacked by rogue Mazarites, who are intent on killing the ambassador. As V’Lar remains hesitant to share the details of her mission with Archer, the danger levels rise. Soon, Archer must decide between the safety of the ship and the safety of one of Vulcan’s most distinguished diplomats.


Score: 8/10 – I really enjoyed this episode, mostly due to the character of V’Lar. One of the many criticisms of Enterprise at the beginning was that the Vulcans seemed too arrogant to be allies of Earth. V’Lar causes that point to be turned, and Archer begins his journey to trusting Vulcans (or, at least, some of them). This also showcases the growing closeness between T’Pol and Johnathan. We are also treated to a wonderful performance by Fionnula Flanagan as V’Lar. She previously played one of Curzon Dax’s former lovers in the first season of DS9 and the “mother” of Data in the final season of TNG. We get some “firsts” in this episode. We have the first mention of Risa (it will take the crew two whole episodes to get there), the first Vulcan salute on Enterprise, and the first time the ship reaches Warp 5. Some of said that this is another typical “diplomat runs amuck” story, but that is far from the truth. Instead of a disgraced diplomat, we see a wonderful character examination paired with a high-stakes dangerous mission that increases the excitement of the story. There a few odd things in this episode, mainly a lack of originality with the Mazarite make-up. Overall, though, this episode is a strong showing for the first season of Enterprise.


Relevance - 3 points. Definitely scoring a point for Risa. Fans were wondering if we would encounter this pleasure/vacation planet that was first introduced in the Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday”. We would visit the planet, but only after another delay in the next episode. I am also going to score a point for hitting Warp 5 for the first time. There is even a little homage to Scotty when Tucker informs the Captain that he’s giving it all he can. Final point is scored for the acknowledgement of the growing respect and friendship between Archer and T’Pol. While this may not be the strongest relationship on the show, it is a vital one.


Continuity – 3 points. Story wise, everything is by-the-book with the truth being dished out a little at a time, complete with a bait-and-switch hoodwink resolution to the dilemma. Universe continuity is in check here as well. Character continuity is especially interesting, as we see T’Pol be challenged by her beliefs towards one she thought of as a hero and icon. She struggles with the disappointment that she feels in how V’Lar behaves, yet ultimately is able to stand up to her and use logic to convince her to trust the captain. Everyone else acts as they should, especially Archer. As he grapples with choosing between his ship and a Vulcan who is again hiding something from him. I especially like in this episode how Admiral Forrest is willing to defer to Archer’s judgement on the matter as it is Archer who is out there in space in the middle of the situation. All on point.


Character Development – 3 points. T’Pol definitely has a lot of development. For much of the first season she has been almost prudish in her insistence on the superiority of the Vulcan way of doing things, and then along comes her hero V’Lar, who is shaking hands and acting much more human that anyone expects. T’Pol is thrown for a loop, but is eventually able to reconcile. Archer also makes some needed progress. He cannot go the entire series with a distrust of Vulcans (no matter how deserving they may be). It is this episode that we get to see those walls break down a bit as, finally, a Vulcan authority reveals the truth of her top-secret mission and demonstrates that she is willing to sacrifice herself if it ensures the safety of Archer’s crew. That he chooses to first trust and then save her is a big step for Captain Archer. As mentioned before, this episode is where we truly start to see the blossoming friendship between the Captain and his science officer. It may not be the Kirk-Spock story that we see in the original series, but it is important to the series overall.


Social Commentary – 3 points. How do you handle disappointment in those you hold in high regard? That is a good question. As of the writing of this review, our society has recently experienced a plethora of accusations of sexual harassment charges against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and many others. Many people are looking at some of their heroes in entertainment and politics as being less than inspiring these days. It is not unusual. As I learn about the lives of many that I admired for most of life I am unquestionably discovering that they are far from perfect. When I learn of marital infidelities, power-hungry abuse, and other unsavory elements of the likes of Jim Henson, Bill Cosby, and even Gene Roddenberry himself, I have had to settle those within myself. Sometimes, it happens quickly without much angst. Other times, it is difficult to accept the mounting piles of facts. Once in a while, I discover that my standards were being held at an unreasonable height. Regardless of which, as we see with T’Pol in dealing with a hero who is acting in a way that goes against T’Pol’s perceptions, we can learn to accept that things change and that sometimes it is us that suffers the most from our disappointments. We need to learn to let go of the hero-worship and move on with our lives, allowing ourselves to be disappointed. We don’t have to condone their behaviour (and in many of the cases about sexual abuse that are coming up now, we shouldn’t even come close to condoning them), just be prepared to have our heroes fall from grace.


Cool Stuff – 1 point. I must score a point for the ruse that Archer and his crew uses to fool the Mazarites who are intent in killing V’Lar. Most crucial to this is V’Lar’s appearance in the sickbay entrance after the rebels think they have killed her, showing Flanagan’s ability to portray sassiness as only a Vulcan can.


Rank – Admiral (21 points). Fans of Fionnula Flanagan definitely want to see this episode, as it is her strongest performance in all of her (to date) Trek appearances. She makes V’Lar a force to be reckoned with. The story is both compelling and exciting and we see two of our characters take some much needed steps in their development. Likely one of the brightest spots of the first season of Enterprise.







If you would like to check out my other episode reviews for Enterprise, simply click here.


If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Episode Review - Defiant (DS9, Season 3)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here


Overview – Kira, under stress from her duties, is ordered by Doctor Bashir to take some R and R time. As she settles in at Quark’s to begin her “treatment”, she is met by Commander William Riker of the Enterprise. As the two spend more time together, Kira offers Riker a tour of the station, including a visit to the Defiant. On board the Defiant, Riker and Kira finds themselves alone. When Kira activates the main computer on the bridge, Riker stuns her and takes over the ship with the help of some Maquis members. Back on the station, the crew are contacted by Riker about a potential warp-core breach. As the station’s crew allow Riker to pilot the ship safely away from the DS9, the ship suddenly goes into warp. The crew soon learn that it was not William T. Riker, but Thomas Riker who was created during a transporter accident several years ago. Thomas Riker had grown disenfranchised with Starfleet since his return to active duty and was a suspected Maquis sympathizer. Upon contacting Gul Dukat and informing him of the development, Commander Sisko soon finds himself on Cardassia, assisting Dukat and the Cardassians in locating the Defiant and stopping Riker. As the hunt continues, more mysteries begin to surface, putting both Sisko and Dukat in a delicate situation.

Tom Riker removes his clever disguise

Score: 8/10 – Wow, what a way to bring Johnathan Frakes into Deep Space Nine. I thought that this was a brilliant idea and was wonderfully executed. The wonderful twist of having the Riker in question be Thomas Riker is a great continuation of the TNG episode “Second Chances”. The fun thing about this twist is that since it is William T Riker, all bets are off and the survival of Thomas Riker is not a sure thing. There are some humorous moments at the beginning of the episode as see Kira breakdown the way that we sometimes want to at work (or maybe we sometimes do). I also appreciate how Bashir takes command of her meltdown and gives her an order to have fun. It’s nice to see Kalita again, as we saw her previously in the episode “Pre-emptive Strike”. There is also the interesting insight to Cardassian politics, with Dukat realising that there is more to the Obsidian Order than they let on. This almost side-story of Sisko and Dukat having to team up to not only catch Riker but to sidestep the interference of the Obsidian Order representative (played with delicious sass by Tricia O’Neil, her third Trek role). Most of all, this is a story of Thomas Riker, who shows that like is identical “twin” William, is a masterful and crafty strategist. How he was able to charm his way with both Kira and Sisko, and he was even able to bluff his way out of not remembering Dax. Of particular note, I thought that the biggest problem with his plan was how to deal with Chief O’Brien, who knew Commander Riker very well. If anyone was going to spot the ruse, it would be Miles. Thomas (via the writers) handled it perfectly by pretending that the two of them had a huge falling out. It took the good-natured Chief off his game enough to get him out of the picture, wondering in bewilderment how he had offended his friend. It threw us fans for a loop as well, which is how effective the writing and acting was. Where the episode comes up a bit short was the romance between Riker and Kira. It seemed a bit out of place and out of character for Kira, but more on that in a moment.

Dukat receiving a briefing on a new threat

Relevance – 2 points. The purpose of the Obsidian Order Fleet in this episode will be made clear in the future episode “By Inferno’s Light”. As of this episode, the Obsidian Order was forbidden to have a fleet, so the revelation of it was a shock to Dukat. We learn later that this is a fleet being built with the sole purpose to wipe out the Founders. Of course, we must score a point for continuing, and likely concluding, the story of Thomas Riker. There are a few stories that I wish DS9 could have followed up, and Tom Riker ranks near the top for me. It is unfortunate that we do not see if Kira ever keeps her promise to free him, and it appears that the door is open for a follow up, but it was not meant to be.


Continuity – 2 points. Story continuity checks out here. Everything in Tom’s plan makes sense and is well executed. Universe continuity also checks out, especially with regards to the Obsidian Order and their secret covert operations that are absent from the knowledge of the ruling government. Where I am going to have to deduct a point is Kira. I must be honest that it is very unlike her to fall for Riker in a romantic fashion while she is in the midst of a relationship with Bariel. Some may say that she got caught up in a combination of the heat of the moment and Riker’s charisma, but that conclusion is very contrary to her core character. Kira is fiercely loyal, and as compassionate as she is, I just don’t see her giving a condemned Riker a goodbye kiss out of pity.


Character Development – 2 points. Kira gets a fair bit of attention here, as does Sisko (Ben Sisko, of course, as Jake does not appear in this episode). Sisko gets some great insight into what is going on within the Cardassian government, especially a sense that not every aspect of it is in sync as Dukat would have him believe. This episode also gives Sisko and Dukat a chance to work together, and the give and take negotiations that they engage in at the end shows Sisko’s diplomatic skills. Kira, as I mentioned, is a little out of character in how she falls for Riker, but we still see her determination and resolve on full display here. She uses her drive and reason to help Riker come to a proper resolution of the situation. Some of the irony in her tale here is that she starts off being stressed, ordered to relax, and because of it ends up in an even more stressful situation. I think, most of all, it was fun to watch her totally lose it on everyone at the beginning of the episode. I know I have had days where all I wanted to do was put my foot down everywhere at the same time, I just never went that far. Good thing Julian pulled her back from the edge.

Kira receiving her treatment

Social Commentary – 2 points. Thomas Riker is a character that many can relate to. He was left behind, forgotten, and then when he learns that his world moved on without “him” (but instead another version of “him”), he is struggling to find his identity. In “Defiant”, the episode title is not necessarily a reference to the ship he steals, but instead his attitude to a society that he just cannot seem to find a place in. So he leaves Starfleet and joins the Maquis, and almost pulls off a major victory for them. Ultimately, he discovers that he still wants to be a Starfleet officer, as evidenced by his actions. So while he is defiant to the organization that he was once a part of, his defiance is really to himself, the William T. Riker who has had a much better go of things. While many of us who have been dealt a bad hand do not turn on their society and rebel, we do understand the allure of doing so.

Prepare for the unexpected

Cool Stuff – 2 points. Thomas Riker played by Johnathan Frakes is definitely a highlight here, so I score a point there. This was a perfect story for him, and the twist at the beginning was well built. I also had to score a point for Tricia O’Neil making her third appearance. Her distinctive voice is perfect as Korinas, and she plays her with a delightful wit. Her first character, Captain Rachel Garrett of the Enterprise-C, is still my favourite of hers, but I really enjoyed Korinas.



Rank – Captain (18 points). It would have been so nice to see the story of Tom Riker followed up on at some point, but without counting non-canon sources, there is little we can do but imagine what might have been. Still, even without the follow-up, “Defiant” is a solid episode that is full of fun, adventure, betrayal, and intrigue. It’s always good to see Frakes in front of the camera playing Riker, whether it is Tom or Will.


If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Discovery Episode Reviews, or Why I Have Been Largely Silent on Discussing Discovery

Hello friends. I thought I would take a moment and address the episode reviews, or should I say lack of, for the newest incarnation of our beloved franchise, Discovery. This article is going to be part explanation, and part getting something off of my chest that has been building over the last few weeks, so bear with me.


In the last few months we fans have finally received what we have been asking for, and that is new Trek on TV. As I have written a lot of episode reviews of all the different series (I am quickly zeroing in on my 100th episode review), there are some who are wondering why I have yet to do an official review for anything from Discovery's first season. Incidentally, I will refer to Discovery from here on as DIS as it follows the short-hand I have used for the other series. I am fine with DSC and DISC, but find STD to normally be used as a derogatory abbreviation that often implies a distaste and even hatred for the new show.

Discovery episode reviews are coming, just not soon.

I have a few reasons for holding off on my reviews for DIS. One is logistics. One of my scoring criteria is for the reviews is how relevant the episode is with respect to other episodes. For example, there are several stand-alone episodes that if you miss will not leave the viewer feeling confused about things later on. This includes relevance between the different series. Seeing Mirror Tuvok in a DS9 episode, for example, connects the two different series. With DIS it is far too early for me to include its relevance with other series. Some things may not be so obvious now, but will become very relevant later on. I already have to go back and update preexisting reviews to accommodate DIS plot lines, so I figured to save myself some time and wait until either the season or a few seasons are done. With all of the other series I have the benefit of hindsight in looking at the whole big picture, and I just don't have that with DIS at this time. I truly want to do my reviews justice by not rushing through them until I can also look at DIS with the big picture in mind. There are a lot of fan theories out there (the Ash Tyler-Voq connection being one of my favourites) and I don't want to get caught up in those in my reviews. I also respect that the producers have stated that there will be explanations as to why certain elements of canon have appeared to have been ignored. Continuity is another category that I have in my reviews, and if they can produce a good explanation later on as to why the Klingons look so different, why there are holodecks in TOS era that were only first seen in TNG, and why nobody else has ever heard of a spore drive, then I want to give them that chance without having to rewrite that section of my reviews.


Second reason is that there is already a plethora of episode reviews out there, and many of them I have enjoyed. Writing the reviews for me is a labour of love for me, but it is not my career choice. In addition to this blog I have a full-time job (teacher) and a full-time family. While there are others who may have a similar situation as myself, I frankly don't have the time or energy to be the "first on the scene" with my reviews. Since there are so many reviews out there already, I am content to let those voices be heard. 


Finally, I would like to address incorrect reasons as to why I have not written reviews on DIS. It has nothing to do with my opinion of the show. I am not intentionally ignoring Discovery because I do not like it, nor do I consider it to be "not true Trek". I will be honest, Discovery is something I am struggling with. This show is nothing like what has come before (much like DS9 was, which is my favourite of the series). There have been elements of it which I have been disappointed with. Let me reveal my cards here and now. I am not a fan of the look of the new Klingons, their ships, and their weapons. I wish they had kept more of it the same. I also am disappointed that this show has used profanity and nudity at levels that I do not like. For me (and I emphasize, this is for me only), those elements were things that I was happy were usually not included in Star Trek and felt that they are out of place. I think the level of violence has been ramped up a bit outside my preferences as well. For me, I wish that the tone was lighter.

Well, maybe not quite this "light".

Having said that, let me make something perfectly clear (and this is the "getting things off of my chest" portion truly begins). These are my thoughts and opinions. These are my disappointments. I am glad that there are many fans that are OK and even happy with those changes. I do not think we need the cardboard sets from TOS or that everything has to be exactly the way it was from an aesthetics point of view. I am even OK if the Klingons looked like TNG era and not TOS. I love many other things about the new show. I love the character of Saru. He is unique and refreshing. I enjoy the fact that Lorca breaks the mold of traditional starship captains. I love the darker, edgier Harry Mudd. Michael Burnham's character intrigues me as well. Sure, there are things I would have changed, but that is true of every series within the franchise. I find many episodes in TNG and TOS to be slow and cumbersome. I hated Bashir in the first two seasons of DS9, and found Avery Brooks to be a poor actor at times early on in the series. With Voyager I thought that the Doctor was going to be a horrible character, and I grimaced at the "gel scene" with T'Pol and Tucker in the pilot episode of Enterprise. With each of those disappointments in the other series, I stuck with it and grew to love the series. TOS and TNG ended up having great episodes. Bashir grew on me and Avery's acting improved as he became more familiar with his character. The Doctor became my favourite Voyager crew member, and the envelope that Enterprise pushed with the gel scene was not pushed much beyond that throughout the series.

Not all Trek was good

My point is, with the disappointments I have had with Discovery, I know that many people do not share them. Some think it's about time for the F-word to be used in Star Trek, and the darker tone is just an indication of the darker society we now live in. That's perfectly acceptable. What I love about Discovery is that it is attracting a new group of fans to all the shows I grew up watching. I get that shows evolve, and that it is OK for me to not be blissfully enamored with every generation's Star Trek series. As much as fans have been responsible for the success of Star Trek, we often make the mistake of feeling entitled to define what is Star Trek for everyone. On the social media circuits I hear over and over "This is not Star Trek" in variations too numerous to track. As always, those who have disliked something make their voices loud and clear. I feel that we collectively need to be reminded that Star Trek does not belong to us fans and us fans alone. As much as we would love to have a say in every step of development, we have to understand that right now the people that are allowed the privilege of deciding what is and isn't Star Trek are either the Powers That Be that work for Paramount (the current movie series) and that work for CBS (Discovery and any future television series). As the franchise grows more fans will find themselves not liking more aspects of the growth. This does not mean that Star Trek is dying, but that it is evolving. Some of the changes will be for the better, some will not, but there will be change.

Some changes are good, some not. You decide for yourself.

A concept tossed around a lot these days, and I am just as guilty of it as any, is the concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination, or IDIC. It is not a perfect concept, but it does bear some weight in these discussions. A significant portion of the fan base need to take a good look at what IDIC is about and decide where they will stand on it. For those, like myself, who find disappointments and faults with DIS, we need to respect that many of our fellow fans are enjoying the changes. Just because we think Klingons should look like some sort of space Mongol for continuity or canon sake does not make those who embrace the new look as anything less than a true fan. Perhaps we need to check our egos at the door more. Perhaps when in out Facebook group we find a thread on how great Discovery is, we need to stop spamming the comment sections as if we are members of the Order of the Bat'leth whose honor has just been challenged. On the flip side, if a person, like me, who enjoys Discovery is tired of the negativity being shown towards the show, perhaps we too should just keep scrolling past the negative posts. We, too, need to more fully embrace IDIC by accepting that not everyone is going to love the show. If someone says that they are disappointed with the use of stronger profanity than Trek has ever seen, can't we just let them have their voice without flooding them with even more vulgar comments? Some of our fellow fans are heart-broken that their own individual interpretation of what Trek is to them is not being followed with the new show. Maybe they are like me and are waiting to see the whole story unfold, but have some reservations. I have talked to fans who, with every incarnation of this franchise, just could not buy into what was being sold. Do we have to berate them for having an opinion that is not shared by the rest of us? Why are we so offended about people being offended? Why are we disappointed when others are disappointed?

Why, WHY, this again?!?

So for the time being I am holding off on Discovery. I can't wait to see the big picture unfold, and when I do start the episode reviews of this polarizing show, I will do my best to keep my own disappointments in check and be fair. I am still hopeful that DIS will worm its way more fully into my heart, but if it doesn't, then that's OK. There is no rule that states one must rank the current product at the top of their list in order to be a fan.







Friday, November 24, 2017

Episode Review - Sub Rosa (Next Generation, Season 7)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.


Overview – The Enterprise is in orbit around Caldos Colony so that Doctor Crusher can attend the funeral of her grandmother. At the funeral, a mysterious stranger lays a flower on the grave, and Beverly is intrigued. As she sorts through her grandmother’s home and belongings she discovers a candle that she remembers her grandmother having, a family heirloom whose flame is never extinguished. When a man named Quint, the caregiver of Felisa Howard, arrives and blows out the candle, he implores Beverly to get rid of the candle. He claims that it is haunted and brings nothing but trouble. After dismissing Quint, Doctor Crusher discovers that her grandmother had a much younger lover named Ronin. Before long, she meets Ronin, who claims to be a spirit that has been involved with the women of her family for eight centuries. Beverly finds herself falling for Ronin, and begins a love affair with him. As she decides to resign from Starfleet and stay on Caldos, she starts to learn that there is far more to Ronin than originally believed.


Score: 5/10 – I had a hard time scoring this episode. There is a lot going for it, but ultimately I found the episode lacking overall. It is definitely a different story for Star Trek, using science fiction as a background for a story that has elements of ghost stories, love stories, and thrillers woven together. I cannot fault Gates McFadden for the short comings of the episode, as she gives us one of her strongest performances. I likewise cannot fault director Johnathan Frakes, as he gives us some great views and scenes. Duncan Regehr (who will go on to play Shakar in DS9) gives a bit of an over-the-top performance as Ronin, and looks like he came straight out of a Harlequin Romance novel. The story is a bit odd, as the formidable Doctor Crusher, in essence, falls in love with a lamp. While I appreciate that all parties gave it their all in this episode, I think that the overall story was a bit of a dud. This is the final season of TNG, and in retrospect the writing staff seemed to be coming up short with compelling storylines for the characters. While I commend all those involved with this story for giving us the best they could with the material that was provided and trying something unique, it just didn’t seem like more than a mediocre story at best.


Relevance - 1 point. A point is scored for showing us Doctor Crusher’s grandmother. Back in Season 1’s “The Arsenal of Freedom”, Beverly tells Picard about the influence that her grandmother had on her in becoming a healer.


Continuity – 1 point. Universe continuity scores a point here. Character and story continuity, however, do not. For the story, it is said that Felisa Howard is over one hundred years old at the time of her death, but according to the her gravestone, her birth year was listed as 2291, which would make her closer to being 79 years old. Details people! Character continuity focusses on Doctor Crusher. I think my biggest hang-up with this episode is that Beverly acts in such an unlikely fashion. She has always been a character of strong conviction and sense of duty, and yet she falls easily to Ronin’s charm and seduction. Again, I just didn’t buy it. She quickly throws everything else away to stay on the colony and live the rest of her life with Ronin, and her actions seemed more like the sappy love-sick teenager type than the strong, fierce woman that we have come to know over the last seven years.


Character Development – 2 points. A pair of points scored for the attention to Doctor Crusher. We see her come back to her roots (figuratively, at least) as she mourns the loss of the woman who inspired her to become a healer. The loss of her grandmother is acute, and yet she handles it with great dignity. This is not surprising, but it is nice to see her as a character come full circle from what was established way back in the first season. We also see her lose control as she falls for the enigmatic Ronin. While her actions may seem out of character, we do see a different side of her.


Social Commentary – 1 point. I have heard that it is unwise to begin a new romantic relationship after suffering a great loss. I suppose one could use this episode as an example of this. Beverly falls hard and fast for Ronin, and she almost pays for it. OK, that is a bit of a stretch, but it does touch on that subject, if ever so lightly.


Cool Stuff – 2 points. I have to score a point for the names on some of the headstones in the cemetery. Two in particular stand out. Next time you watch this episode, look for the tombstones of Vader and McFly (and yes, they were intentional references to Star Wars and Back to the Future). What I do not know is if those two specific names were used with their Trek connection in mind. In the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly disguises himself in a haz-mat suit to convince his younger father to ask out the woman that will eventually become Marty’s mother to the dance. Marty introduces himself as Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan. I also want to score a point for some of the guest stars. I already mentioned Duncan Regehr would become Shakar in DS9, where he would become the love interest for another strong female main character (Major Kira). Michael Keenan is Governor Maturin, and he will go on to star in both Voyager and DS9. Finally there is one of my favorite character actors, Ellen Albertini Dow, who played Felisa Howard. Ellen, who played a woman who lived past a hundred years, died at the ripe old age of 101. She was basically the sweet yet spunky old lady in almost every movie and TV show from the 80s onward, including Sister Act, the Wedding Singer, and Wedding Crashers.



Rank – Lieutenant (12 points). The audience seems to be split on this episode. Women tend to like it more than men. Some classify it as their guilty pleasure, while others see it as being at the bottom of the barrel. I will take the middle of the road on this one. If you want to have a look at this episode, it isn’t horrible, just a bit weird. If you would rather skip it as you are binge-watching the seventh season, I totally understand it. I myself only watch it when I am going through episode by episode or if I am writing a review on it (which is now done).


If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.


If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do. 


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Episode Review - I, Mudd (Original Series, Season 2)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.


Overview – The Enterprise is commandeered by Crewman Norman, who is revealed to be an android. The crew find themselves orbiting an unknown planet. When Norman forces Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Chekov to beam down to the planet, they discover that the planet is populated by androids, with the rascal Harry Mudd as their leader. Mudd informs the captain that after escaping prison, he found himself on this planet where he took the position of being leader of the androids. Unfortunately for him, the androids would not let him leave, so he sent out Norman to acquire a starship. By bringing the Enterprise to the planet, Mudd intends to leave Kirk’s crew behind as he leaves with the ship controlled by androids. Unfortunately, the androids have a different idea and soon Kirk, his crew, and Mudd must work together to stop hundreds of thousands of androids from establishing their order throughout the galaxy.


Score: 8/10 – “I, Mudd” is a delightfully light-hearted tale that brings back fan-favourite Harcourt Fenton Mudd. I actually enjoyed this episode better than “Mudd’s Women” due to the humor and levity. While the story is not terribly complex, it is enjoyable and gives some great comedic moments for many of the crew. The banter between Kirk and Mudd is very entertaining, and the methods that the crew utilizes to deactivate the androids is fun, albeit silly. I particularly enjoyed the Stella android that Harry made, allowing him to get his last word in with his estranged “wife”. The sense of danger is never really present, although it is teased just a bit when it appears that Uhura is wanting the android body promised her to the point where she “betrays” the plan of the crew. It was, in fact, a ruse within a ruse. So while nothing very serious occurs, it is an entertaining adventure for our beloved crew. Oh, and the end fate for Mudd is likely one of the most fitting outcomes for any rascal that has ever tormented the crew of the USS Enterprise.


Relevance - 2 points. One point scored for picking up from where “Mudd’s Women” left Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Another point for the depiction of his estranged wife Stella, although in android form. Looking at the episode from Discovery that had her appear in it, I think they cast the younger version


Continuity – 3 points. Story line works out well. Using illogic to mess with the androids was quite clever and well done. Universe works well. The limits of androids shows how they do not seem to be used a whole lot in the 23rd century. Character continuity is also intact. In particular, I think Mudd was able to tempt the crew members in the appropriate ways (McCoy with the science lab, Uhura with eternal beauty, and Chekhov with women), but as to be expected each of them was more than able to handle and overcome the enticements Mudd offered. Kirk’s banter with Mudd reminds me a lot of his witty sarcasm he uses in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Full points across the board here.


Character Development – 1 point. Because this episode is very silly by nature, we really do not get a lot of insight into the characters. We see some of their weaknesses with the different temptations they are given, but nothing out of the ordinary or of a revelatory nature. If anything, we showcase Kirk’s wit and Spock’s logic, but beyond that there is little that really moves any character forward.


Social Commentary – 2 points. The life of ease that Mudd relished is often less appealing in the long run. We often would jump at the chance to have our every desires granted to us, and yet Mudd’s experience shows us that we would end up enslaved by the experience. Harry Mudd had it all, and yet when he wanted to leave he learned that he was indeed a prisoner of his slothfulness. In our own world, we need to remember that there is great freedom and liberation in hard work and effort.


Cool Stuff – 2 points. I love the ending, when Harry Mudd is left with up to 500 copies of his nagging wife-droid, only unlike the original they are unable to be shut down by “Shut up, Stella!”. I also liked how they were able to cast sets of twins for several of the androids, allowing them to have the effect of multiple versions of the android without resorting to the special effects. It was a clever and practical solution, so I score a point there as well.



Rank – Captain (18 points). A much better Mudd episode, “I, Mudd” gives us some great comedy. It is fun watching the crew act in a way that is so illogical, resorting to using their cunning to escape the predicament instead of brawn. Fans of Harry Mudd should welcome this episode.


If you would like to read other reviews from the Original Series, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Episode Review – The Quickening (Deep Space Nine, Season 4)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here


Overview – Bashir and Dax find themselves on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant where the inhabitants are suffering from a deadly plague engineered by the Dominion. Bashir accepts the challenge of curing the disease, which he soon learns is much more difficult than he originally anticipated. As he races against the odds, he learns more about his own limitations than anything else.


Score: 8/10 – Bashir finally gets knocked down a few pegs in this episode (directed by Rene Auberjonois). No matter what he does, the people on this planet are dying and Bashir cannot seem to save them. This episode starts off with a lot of humor as the main characters deal with Quark’s attempt to include merchandising and advertising for his bar (I dare you to not think of the jingle for Quark’s when reading this). It is one of my favourite funny scenes in all of Star Trek, and it gives us a good laugh that we will sorely need, as the story quickly falls down a dark hole with little hope and relief until the end. Bashir, who is used to being able to do whatever he sets his mind to, gets a strong dose of reality when he comes across a disease that he cannot cure. Indeed, even in the solution he finds it is only a vaccine for the next generation and does not do anything for those already infected by the disease. It is a powerful and tragic tale that leaves us on a bit of a bittersweet ending. Alexander Siddig shines in this episode. With the exception of Dax and Kira (to a far lesser extent), Bashir is the show. Everyone else on the cast is either in the humorous opening scene or the somberly reflective closing scene.


Relevance – 2 points. Tal Shiar chairman Koval will question Julian about this incident in the seventh season. That scores a point here. The opening scene follows up on Quark’s desire to produce merchandising, something he brings up with Sisko in the final episode of the second season “The Jem’Hadar”. That’s enough for a second point.


Continuity – 3 points. No problems with any part of continuity. The plague is a devilish insight to the resources and resolve of the Dominion. The characters respond exactly as we would think they would. While Bashir arrogantly swoops in, thinking that he will save this people from doom, he learns his own limitations. Dax, meanwhile, offers realistic support, blending compassion and hope with realism and logic. Story wise, all goes as it should and tells us a heart-breaking tale of failure and bittersweet hope for the future.


Character Development – 2 points. Bashir gets all the attention, and as I mentioned earlier, it humbles the brilliant doctor like nothing else has to this point. He discovers his own arrogance and hubris when he discovers that the Dominion beat him with their genetically engineered plague. When the hope dies with the people he is desperate to save, he stubbornly moves forward. At this point, hopes of being the knight in shining armor are gone, and he just cannot give up until he has tried all he can. Since so much focus is on him, there is really little room for anyone else to receive development, and so be it. While it does not score a full 3 point in this section, it is a fantastic insight into the character of Doctor Bashir that, for me at least, takes one of the largest and most necessary steps into making this character more real. In doing so, it pushes Bashir farther towards the beloved character he would ultimately become.


Social Commentary – 3 points. I suppose this is Bashir’s version of the Kobayashi Maru scenario. No matter what Bashir does, he is unable to cure the people. Instead, he must settle for vaccinating the unborn and thereby saving the society in the long run. As he faces his own limitations, we learn that how we face our own weaknesses is often more important than the outcomes. Sometimes we have to strip away our pride and accept whatever meager positives we can muster. It is not a pleasant experience, but it is one that we all must face. After the trial is over, we regroup and move forward, taking what we have learned, and grow from the failures.


Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point is scored for the fun opening sequence. As I said before, it is one of the funniest Trek moments and is very necessary for the much darker tone of the following acts. I also scored a point for the insidious disease that the Dominion released upon the poor Teplan people. Meant to mirror the AIDS epidemic, the disease more than adequately conveys the despair found in these difficult to control diseases.



Rank – Captain (20 points). Such a somber and telling story. Auberjonois did a fantastic job of directing this episode, and Siddig shines brighter than he ever has up to this point as Doctor Bashir. The sadness at the situation of the Teplan people is authentic, and this is definitely not a “feel-good” episode. The bittersweet ending is a sad reminder of our own limitations, and that the good guys don’t always get the win that we think they should. Definitely give this episode a viewing. Bring some tissues.


If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.