Archive for November, 2012

Trekathon 574: The Changing Face of Evil (4) (DS9)

November 30th, 2012

Worf and Ezri return, and the Breen attack Earth.

Here’s a useful measure of how well this serial story is working – I was annoyed that there was an episode of Voyager getting in the way here. And I’m even more annoyed about the fact there’s another one. I said before that it’s hard to describe the episodes, as they’re part of a serial plot. But that’s not to say that things aren’t being set up and resolved – Worf and Ezri have returned to DS9, the Breen have attacked. More is being set up, but there is a real sense of motion in the plot, not just soap opera delay.

The final scene, with Damar’s real betrayal, is electrifying. We’ve seen him go from a nearly nameless offsider of Dukat to lackey of the Dominion. And now he’s finally strong enough to be his own Cardassian. What particularly works is that it all makes sense in terms of what has gone before – it’s not a sudden development, it’s the logical place for his character to go. And that’s also the case for Kai Winn, and her betrayal of the prophets.

A memo to the Pah Wraiths – if you’d like us to believe you’re not evil, can I suggest a name change? ‘Wraith’ just doesn’t work. Can I suggest ‘spirit’?

574 down, 163 to go.

Trekathon 573: Juggernaut (VOY)

November 29th, 2012

Can we be done with the Malon now? They’re a one-note “evil polluting capitalist” species who have no interesting stories to tell.

Star Fleet has never had of radiation suits? The best response to radiation is running around the ship in singlets? But I think this was about setting up expectations. By halfway through the episode B’Elanna has gone full Ripley, so you’re expecting a climactic battle against the hidden alien. Which would actually have been better than the didactic ‘people who pollute are the real monsters’ rubbish.

As for the principal character plot – haven’t we seen this before? B’Elanna has been wandering around like a ball of rage since the very early days of Voyager, and it’s been ‘dealt with’ several times already. It’s good to have some connection between the main plot and development of the characters, but it would be better still if it was character development that didn’t feel like it had happened already.

573 down, 164 to go.

Trekathon 572: Strange Bedfellows (3) (DS9)

November 28th, 2012

Sisko gets used to married life, Ezri and Worf get sentenced to Death, Damar gets sick of his deal with the devil, Kai Winn has a crisis of faith, and the Breen ally with the Dominion.

Or, to put it another way, all of the plots move forward again a little bit. It’s pretty hard to describe the plot of the episode succinctly – this is a step on the path, not a story on its own. Fortunately all of the stories are working well, unlike the previous serial story at the start of Season 6, which had some distinctly dodgy parts.

Weyoun should really give some serious thought to ‘if you undermine subordinates, they tend to betray you’. It would be fair to call Damar’s betrayal ‘inevitable’ now.

(As an aside – the Breen look a lot like they should be threatening Jabba with a thermal detonator. And it does bug me that the major threat is a race only mentioned in about four previous episodes out of 571…)

572 down, 165 to go.

Trekathon 571: ‘Til Death Do Us Part (2) (DS9)

November 27th, 2012

Dukat has an evil plan, and Kai Winn is falling for it. And him.

I was a bit surprised to see Dukat move towards literal seduction of Kai Winn. I hope that this moves along a little bit quicker, as while tricking Winn into believing him is interesting, it’s not going to sustain things for very long.

The Sisko plot moves forward, with him finally deciding to ignore the prophets, and go ahead and marry Kassidy. Married and he’s bought the farm? If he starts talking about ‘one more day until retirement’, no one stand near him, OK? More seriously, it would have been good to see more struggle between his acceptance of the Bajoran prophets and his love for Kassidy.

Compared to the previous long sequence this is much more serial – the individual episodes so far are barely even trying to tell an independent story.

571 down, 166 to go.

Trekathon 570: Penumbra (1) (DS9)

November 26th, 2012

The beginning of the end for DS9, with the first episode in the 10-part finale. Worf goes missing, and Ezri tries to find him.

There’s a sharp turn in structure here, with very little set up in this episode resolved. We get back to the Bajoran Prophets plot, and get some more cryptic threats about Sisko having to stay on his ‘path’. That makes his sudden literal purchase of a farm a bit worrying – standard rules of foreshadowing suggest this will not end well for him.

I liked the other half of the episode quite a bit. Ezri and Worf have never really dealt with the Dax issues, and they start to unravel the problems here. So far it’s just landed them back in the same ‘fighting, then kissing’ framework beloved of movies, and never present in real life. But it honestly works better than when it was Jadzia Dax, rather than Ezri Dax.

570 down, 167 to go.

Trekathon 569: Think Tank (VOY)

November 25th, 2012

Voyager meets an unusual group of aliens who go around solving problems.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire them. They don’t have a cool van though. Oh, and if you don’t mind being blackmailed or outright manipulated.

The ‘twist’ in this episode is so predictable it barely counts as such. But what really puzzles me is the stakes offered. If you have a highly advanced alien race, surely ‘help you get home’ is a more plausible bit of bait than ‘escape from the aliens we’ve set on you’. Especially as the ‘trap’ Voyager is put into makes almost no sense. But it was nice to see some continuity, with references to several past guest aliens.

569 down, 168 to go.

Trekathon 568: The Fight (VOY)

November 24th, 2012

Chakotay hallucinates a boxing movie.

Without quite noticing, I see we’re in another patch of movie pastiches. We’ve had gangster, 1950s SF serial, war movie, spy thriller. And now ‘boxing movie’, probably the greatest stretch seen to date. Or, I should say, boxing movie with an overlay of A Beautiful Mind for no reason that I could possibly discern.

If you liked boxing movies you’d probably get more out of this one. But for me it was an incomprehensible mish-mash – stuff that might have been meaningful to some, but not to me. And introducing a confusing history of mental illness for Chakotay did not make it better.

568 down, 169 to go.

Trekathon 567: Course: Oblivion (VOY)

November 23rd, 2012

A strange disease strikes the Voyager crew.

Interesting idea, and it’s clever to show us the consequences of one of the previous episodes – Star Trek is too often a ‘no consequences’ show. But at the same time this episode is a pretty good argument against such a show. The writers didn’t have any new ideas to add to before – themes of identity, and what it means to be a person.

Still, we did get the highest core cast death count in an episode so far. Well, kinda. But once the twist was clear it didn’t really matter, as we knew it didn’t really ‘count’. And the writing never made us connect with this doppelgänger ship.

567 down, 170 to go.

Trekathon 566: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (DS9)

November 22nd, 2012

Dr Bashir goes to Romulus to play spy.

They really tried. But at the end of the day this episode just circles around and around getting more complicated without any point. The plot is convoluted, and poorly explained – there’s a series of ‘explanation’ monologues, each harder to understand than the one before it. So all we really get is Bashir getting more and more morally superior and smug.

There are some good, interesting episodes to be written about an organisation like Section 31. It’s a major step from Roddenberry’s perfect future, and it makes a kind of grim sense. But it’s painted without the shades of grey needed, and as a result it isn’t a very interesting story to watch.

566 down, 171 to go.

Trekathon 565: The Disease (VOY)

November 21st, 2012

Harry falls in love like a rebel.

Dear ‘writer’ of this episode,

As it turns out, I have watched Star Trek before this episode. As a result, I found the abrupt introduction of Star Fleet sexual purity confusing. Perhaps you haven’t watched The Original Series and Kirk’s liaisons. That was a while ago. Or any of the other 20 or 30 interspecies relationships that have occurred in all of the series since then. So maybe you didn’t know that your premise for this episode made no sense at all.

However, I’m sorry to tell you that the problems don’t end there. Everyone else acts like a total idiot. From the resistance fighter who starts the interrogation with “I’ll never tell you about the movement” to Harry Kim asking Seven of Nine what she thinks of love. Or the alien who has never heard of a shuttlecraft.

As I see that your writing credits include some very good episodes (including The Visitor and Bride of Chaotica), I can only assume that you’ve been abducted and replaced by an alien. Please, can George Lucas and the others of your kind please just leave us alone.

Thank you,

565 down, 172 to go.