Trekaday: Final ratings from 1966 to 2005

Posted on December 26th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

This is every episode I watched ordered by star rating. Episodes with the same star rating can be assumed to be equally good.

5 out of 5 stars
  • TNG S07E25 All Good Things…
  • TOS S02E01 Amok Time
  • TOS S01E14 Balance of Terror
  • TNG S03E26 The Best of Both Worlds
  • TNG S04E01 The Best of Both Worlds, Part II
  • DS9 S05E15 By Inferno’s Light
  • TNG S05E18 Cause and Effect
  • TNG S06E11 Chain of Command, Part II
  • TOS S01E28 The City on the Edge of Forever
  • DS9 S02E23 Crossover
  • TOS S01E25 The Devil in the Dark
  • TNG S06E14 Face of the Enemy
  • TNG S04E02 Family
  • DS9 S06E13 Far Beyond the Stars
  • ENT S03E20 The Forgotten
  • TNG S05E23 I Borg
  • ENT S04E19 In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II
  • DS9 S05E14 In Purgatory’s Shadow
  • VOY S05E04 In the Flesh
  • DS9 S06E19 In the Pale Moonlight
  • TNG S05E25 The Inner Light
  • TNG S02E09 The Measure of a Man
  • VOY S04E25 One
  • DS9 S04E10 Our Man Bashir
  • TNG S06E04 Relics
  • DS9 S06E06 Sacrifice of Angels
  • TNG S03E23 Sarek
  • TNG S06E12 Ship in a Bottle
  • TOS S01E22 Space Seed
  • TNG S06E18 Starship Mine
  • TNG S06E15 Tapestry
  • TOS S01E24 This Side of Paradise
  • DS9 S05E06 Trials and Tribble-ations
  • TNG S05E08 Unification II
  • DS9 S04E03 The Visitor
  • DS9 S04E01-2 The Way of the Warrior
  • TOS MOS02 The Wrath of Khan
  • TNG S03E15 Yesterday’s Enterprise
4.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S03E26 The Adversary
  • TOS S01E18 Arena
  • ENT S03E18 Azati Prime
  • TNG S06E16 Birthright, Part I
  • VOY S07E07 Body and Soul
  • DS9 S02E05 Cardassians
  • TNG S06E10 Chain of Command, Part I
  • DS9 S05E22 Children of Time
  • ENT S03E12 Chosen Realm
  • DS9 S03E07 Civil Defense
  • ENT S04E05 Cold Station 12
  • TNG S05E14 Conundrum
  • TOS S01E10 The Corbomite Maneuver
  • VOY S05E18 Course: Oblivion
  • ENT S03E19 Damage
  • VOY S05E15-16 Dark Frontier
  • VOY S04E03 Day of Honor
  • TNG S03E10 The Defector
  • TNG S06E26 Descent
  • TNG S07E01 Descent, Part II
  • TOS S02E06 The Doomsday Machine
  • DS9 S01E19 Duet
  • TNG S02E20 The Emissary
  • DS9 S05E24 Empok Nor
  • VOY S07E25-26 Endgame
  • TNG S05E03 Ensign Ro
  • TNG S04E15 First Contact
  • TNG MNG02 First Contact
  • DS9 S05E13 For the Uniform
  • TNG S06E21 Frame of Mind
  • TNG S04E08 Future Imperfect
  • TNG S07E05 Gambit, Part II
  • VOY S04E02 The Gift
  • TNG S04E22 Half a Life
  • DS9 S04E19 Hard Time
  • DS9 S04E04 Hippocratic Oath
  • VOY S04E26 Hope and Fear
  • DS9 S03E03 The House of Quark
  • TOS S02E18 The Immunity Syndrome
  • ENT S03E05 Impulse
  • VOY S05E07 Infinite Regress
  • TOS S03E05 Is There in Truth No Beauty?
  • DS9 S02E26 The Jem’Hadar
  • VOY S04E18-19 The Killing Game
  • VOY S05E11 Latent Image
  • VOY S06E24 Life Line
  • DS9 S04E08 Little Green Men
  • DS9 S02E20 The Maquis, Part I
  • VOY S02E16 Meld
  • TNG S04E24 The Mind’s Eye
  • TOS S02E04 Mirror, Mirror
  • VOY S04E12 Mortal Coil
  • TNG S03E22 The Most Toys
  • TOS S01E04 The Naked Time
  • VOY S05E01 Night
  • TNG S04E19 The Nth Degree
  • TNG S07E12 The Pegasus
  • TNG S07E24 Preemptive Strike
  • VOY S04E16 Prey
  • ENT S03E13 Proving Ground
  • TNG S02E16 Q Who
  • ENT S02E23 Regeneration
  • TNG S04E05 Remember Me
  • DS9 S06E02 Rocks and Shoals
  • VOY S04E01 Scorpion, Part II
  • TNG S06E24 Second Chances
  • DS9 S03E05 Second Skin
  • ENT S01E15 Shadows of P’Jem
  • DS9 S05E02 The Ship
  • DS9 S02E03 The Siege
  • DS9 S07E08 The Siege of AR-558
  • TAS S01E14 The Slaver Weapon
  • DS9 S04E07 Starship Down
  • VOY S06E02 Survival Instinct
  • ENT S04E21 Terra Prime
  • DS9 S05E19 Ties of Blood and Water
  • TNG S06E25 Timescape
  • DS9 S04E23 To the Death
  • ENT S03E08 Twilight
  • TOS S02E24 The Ultimate Computer
  • ENT S04E13 United
  • VOY S03E17 Unity
  • ENT S01E22 Vox Sola
  • DS9 S06E11 Waltz
  • DS9 S07E25-26 What You Leave Behind
  • DS9 S02E22 The Wire
  • VOY S04E08 Year of Hell
4 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S02E01 The 37’s
  • TOS S03E23 All Our Yesterdays
  • ENT S01E07 The Andorian Incident
  • DS9 S05E01 Apocalypse Rising
  • DS9 S02E13 Armageddon Game
  • DS9 S05E09 The Ascent
  • ENT S04E06 The Augments
  • DS9 S07E15 Badda-Bing Badda-Bang
  • VOY S06E03 Barge of the Dead
  • TNG S01E09 The Battle
  • DS9 S06E04 Behind the Lines
  • TAS S01E01 Beyond the Farthest Star
  • TNG S06E17 Birthright, Part II
  • VOY S06E12 Blink of an Eye
  • ENT S04E04 Borderland
  • VOY S05E12 Bride of Chaotica!
  • TNG S04E03 Brothers
  • TOS S02E22 By Any Other Name
  • DS9 S05E26 Call to Arms
  • TNG S03E19 Captain’s Holiday
  • ENT S02E02 Carbon Creek
  • VOY S06E19 Child’s Play
  • DS9 S07E14 Chimera
  • DS9 S02E02 The Circle
  • ENT S01E11 Cold Front
  • DS9 S04E13 Crossfire
  • TOS S01E09 Dagger of the Mind
  • TNG S05E02 Darmok
  • TNG S04E11 Data’s Day
  • DS9 S03E09 Defiant
  • TNG S03E13 Déjà Q
  • DS9 S03E21 The Die is Cast
  • VOY S02E17 Dreadnought
  • VOY S05E02 Drone
  • TNG S02E03 Elementary, Dear Data
  • TNG S03E07 The Enemy
  • TOS S01E05 The Enemy Within
  • TNG S03E02 The Ensigns of Command
  • TOS S03E02 The Enterprise Incident
  • DS9 S07E23 Extreme Measures
  • ENT S01E23 Fallen Hero
  • DS9 S03E23 Family Business
  • DS9 S06E05 Favor the Bold
  • TNG S06E08 A Fistful of Datas
  • VOY S03E02 Flashback
  • VOY S07E09 Flesh and Blood
  • DS9 S04E22 For the Cause
  • VOY S07E21 Friendship One
  • VOY S03E09 Future’s End, Part II
  • TOS S01E16 The Galileo Seven
  • TNG S07E04 Gambit, Part I
  • VOY S05E13 Gravity
  • DS9 S03E14 Heart of Stone
  • TNG S05E11 Hero Worship
  • TNG S03E21 Hollow Pursuits
  • TNG S01E18 Home Soil
  • DS9 S02E01 The Homecoming
  • DS9 S04E11 Homefront
  • TAS S02E05 How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
  • TNG S04E18 Identity Crisis
  • VOY S07E02 Imperfection
  • ENT S04E18 In a Mirror, Darkly
  • DS9 S04E05 Indiscretion
  • TAS S01E07 The Infinite Vulcan
  • DS9 S06E18 Inquisition
  • VOY S07E06 Inside Man
  • DS9 S07E16 Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
  • DS9 S07E10 It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • TOS S02E10 Journey to Babel
  • ENT S02E19 Judgment
  • ENT S04E09 Kir’Shara
  • VOY S01E16 Learning Curve
  • DS9 S05E03 Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places
  • TNG S07E15 Lower Decks
  • VOY S03E12 Macrocosm
  • TAS S01E08 The Magicks of Megas-tu
  • TOS S01E01 The Man Trap
  • VOY S02E11 Maneuvers
  • DS9 S02E21 The Maquis, Part II
  • TNG S02E08 A Matter of Honor
  • VOY S06E14 Memorial
  • VOY S04E14 Message in a Bottle
  • ENT S02E03 Minefield
  • DS9 S02E08 Necessary Evil
  • TNG S05E10 New Ground
  • TNG S05E24 The Next Phase
  • ENT S03E09 North Star
  • DS9 S05E04 …Nor the Battle to the Strong
  • ENT S04E11 Observer Effect
  • TOS S02E13 Obsession
  • VOY S06E08 One Small Step
  • DS9 S04E12 Paradise Lost
  • DS9 S03E11 Past Tense, Part I
  • DS9 S02E18 Profit and Loss
  • VOY S04E06 The Raven
  • DS9 S04E06 Rejoined
  • VOY S05E24 Relativity
  • TOS S01E21 The Return of the Archons
  • DS9 S04E14 Return to Grace
  • TOS S02E20 Return to Tomorrow
  • VOY S04E05 Revulsion
  • TNG S06E05 Schisms
  • VOY S03E26 Scorpion
  • DS9 S03E01 The Search, Part I
  • DS9 S07E02 Shadows and Symbols
  • VOY S07E11 Shattered
  • ENT S03E07 The Shipment
  • TNG S05E04 Silicon Avatar
  • ENT S03E10 Similitude
  • ENT S01E14 Sleeping Dogs
  • DS9 S05E21 Soldiers of the Empire
  • ENT S03E14 Stratagem
  • VOY S03E04 The Swarm
  • TOS S01E23 A Taste of Armageddon
  • DS9 S06E26 Tears of the Prophets
  • DS9 S05E08 Things Past
  • VOY S05E20 Think Tank
  • TOS S03E09 The Tholian Web
  • DS9 S06E01 A Time to Stand
  • VOY S05E06 Timeless
  • TNG S05E26 Time’s Arrow
  • VOY S06E04 Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy
  • TOS S01E19 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
  • DS9 S07E06 Treachery, Faith, and the Great River
  • DS9 S02E25 Tribunal
  • TOS S02E15 The Trouble With Tribbles
  • TOS MOS06 The Undiscovered Country
  • TNG S05E07 Unification I
  • VOY S06E26 Unimatrix Zero
  • TOS MOS04 The Voyage Home
  • TNG S01E06 Where No One Has Gone Before
  • TNG S03E04 Who Watches the Watchers
  • VOY S07E16 Workforce
  • VOY S03E25 Worst Case Scenario
  • TNG S04E12 The Wounded
  • VOY S04E09 Year of Hell, Part II
3.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S03E06 The Abandoned
  • ENT S04E14 The Aenar
  • TAS S02E04 Albatross
  • TNG S03E18 Allegiance
  • TNG S01E21 The Arsenal of Freedom
  • VOY S06E18 Ashes to Ashes
  • DS9 S05E05 The Assignment
  • TNG S07E08 Attached
  • ENT S04E08 Awakening
  • ENT S04E12 Babel One
  • VOY S02E26 Basics, Part I
  • VOY S03E21 Before and After
  • DS9 S05E23 Blaze of Glory
  • VOY S05E14 Bliss
  • TNG S03E05 The Bonding
  • DS9 S04E26 Broken Link
  • DS9 S01E06 Captive Pursuit
  • ENT S02E12 The Catwalk
  • DS9 S06E16 Change of Heart
  • TOS S02E03 The Changeling
  • DS9 S07E20 The Changing Face of Evil
  • TNG S04E14 Clues
  • VOY S03E15 Coda
  • VOY S04E11 Concerning Flight
  • TNG S02E11 Contagion
  • ENT S03E23 Countdown
  • VOY S05E10 Counterpoint
  • DS9 S07E09 Covenant
  • TNG S01E13 Datalore
  • DS9 S01E08 Dax
  • TOS S03E07 Day of the Dove
  • ENT S02E04 Dead Stop
  • VOY S02E21 Deadlock
  • ENT S01E13 Dear Doctor
  • ENT S04E20 Demons
  • ENT S01E24 Desert Crossing
  • DS9 S03E15 Destiny
  • TNG S05E05 Disaster
  • VOY S03E24 Displaced
  • DS9 S05E16 Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
  • VOY S05E26 Equinox
  • TOS S01E26 Errand of Mercy
  • TNG S03E01 Evolution
  • VOY S01E07 Eye of the Needle
  • DS9 S03E25 Facets
  • ENT S02E24 First Flight
  • ENT S01E10 Fortunate Son
  • ENT S02E16 Future Tense
  • VOY S03E08 Future’s End, Part I
  • VOY S06E20 Good Shepherd
  • VOY S06E25 The Haunting of Deck Twelve
  • TNG S01E20 Heart of Glory
  • ENT S04E03 Home
  • TNG S07E13 Homeward
  • TNG S03E11 The Hunted
  • DS9 S07E01 Image in the Sand
  • DS9 S03E20 Improbable Cause
  • DS9 S01E20 In the Hands of the Prophets
  • DS9 S02E04 Invasive Procedures
  • VOY S01E15 Jetrel
  • TNG S06E19 Lessons
  • DS9 S03E13 Life Support
  • VOY S06E21 Live Fast and Prosper
  • VOY S04E23 Living Witness
  • TNG S01E07 Lonely Among Us
  • TNG S04E10 The Loss
  • TNG S05E09 A Matter of Time
  • TNG S03E24 Ménage à Troi
  • TOS S02E09 Metamorphosis
  • TOS S01E08 Miri
  • TOS S01E06 Mudd’s Women
  • DS9 S01E11 The Nagus
  • TNG S01E03 The Naked Now
  • TNG S01E26 The Neutral Zone
  • TNG S04E17 Night Terrors
  • VOY S04E21 The Omega Directive
  • TAS S01E03 One of Our Planets is Missing
  • TOS S01E29 Operation: Annihilate!
  • TOS S03E03 The Paradise Syndrome
  • VOY S02E07 Parturition
  • DS9 S03E12 Past Tense, Part II
  • VOY S06E10 Pathfinder
  • TNG S02E21 Peak Performance
  • TOS S02E17 A Piece of the Action
  • TAS S02E01 The Pirates of Orion
  • DS9 S02E17 Playing God
  • TNG S05E15 Power Play
  • VOY S01E10 Prime Factors
  • DS9 S01E15 Progress
  • VOY S03E11 The Q and the Grey
  • VOY S07E19 Q2
  • VOY S04E10 Random Thoughts
  • TNG S06E02 Realm of Fear
  • DS9 S06E21 The Reckoning
  • TNG S05E01 Redemption II
  • VOY S03E06 Remember
  • VOY S07E24 Renaissance Man
  • VOY S07E04 Repression
  • VOY S02E12 Resistance
  • TNG S04E07 Reunion
  • VOY S06E06 Riddles
  • VOY S03E19 Rise
  • DS9 S04E18 Rules of Engagement
  • TOS MOS03 The Search for Spock
  • DS9 S03E02 The Search, Part II
  • DS9 S02E09 Second Sight
  • ENT S02E07 The Seventh
  • DS9 S02E16 Shadowplay
  • ENT S02E01 Shockwave, Part II
  • TNG S03E17 Sins of the Father
  • DS9 S06E25 The Sound of Her Voice
  • DS9 S06E09 Statistical Probabilities
  • ENT S02E14 Stigma
  • TAS S01E06 The Survivor
  • DS9 S07E22 Tacking Into the Wind
  • DS9 S07E04 Take Me Out to the Holosuite
  • ENT S01E06 Terra Nova
  • TAS S01E11 The Terratin Incident
  • ENT S04E22 These Are the Voyages…
  • DS9 S07E18 ’Til Death Do Us Part
  • TNG S07E16 Thine Own Self
  • DS9 S03E19 Through the Looking Glass
  • VOY S01E04 Time and Again
  • TNG S02E13 Time Squared
  • TNG S06E01 Time’s Arrow, Part II
  • TNG S03E20 Tin Man
  • TNG S06E06 True Q
  • VOY S02E24 Tuvix
  • VOY S07E01 Unimatrix Zero, Part II
  • DS9 S01E12 Vortex
  • VOY S04E13 Waking Moments
  • DS9 S07E21 When It Rains…
  • TOS S01E03 Where No Man Has Gone Before
  • DS9 S02E14 Whispers
  • TOS S03E14 Whom Gods Destroy
  • TOS S03E11 Wink of an Eye
  • VOY S07E17 Workforce, Part II
  • TAS S01E02 Yesteryear
  • ENT S03E24 Zero Hour
3 out of 5 stars
  • TNG S01E15 11001001
  • DS9 S04E17 Accession
  • DS9 S07E03 Afterimage
  • DS9 S02E12 The Alternate
  • ENT S03E02 Anomaly
  • DS9 S01E05 Babel
  • VOY S03E01 Basics, Part II
  • DS9 S05E12 The Begotten
  • TAS S02E02 Bem
  • VOY S03E16 Blood Fever
  • TNG S03E06 Booby Trap
  • ENT S02E21 The Breach
  • TOS S02E25 Bread and Circuses
  • ENT S01E01-02 Broken Bow
  • ENT S03E11 Carpenter Street
  • VOY S01E13 Cathexis
  • ENT S02E15 Cease Fire
  • TOS S01E02 Charlie X
  • ENT S01E09 Civilization
  • TOS S03E21 The Cloud Minders
  • VOY S02E10 Cold Fire
  • DS9 S02E24 The Collaborator
  • VOY S06E16 Collective
  • ENT S02E08 The Communicator
  • TNG S01E25 Conspiracy
  • ENT S03E22 The Council
  • TOS S01E20 Court Martial
  • ENT S04E10 Daedalus
  • TNG S02E10 The Dauphin
  • ENT S02E13 Dawn
  • TOS S02E12 The Deadly Years
  • VOY S02E18 Death Wish
  • ENT S01E21 Detained
  • DS9 S07E24 The Dogs of War
  • VOY S02E04 Elogium
  • TNG S07E23 Emergence
  • DS9 S01E01-2 Emissary
  • TNG S01E01-2 Encounter at Farpoint
  • DS9 S03E04 Equilibrium
  • VOY S06E01 Equinox, Part II
  • TNG S05E16 Ethics
  • ENT S02E26 The Expanse
  • DS9 S03E22 Explorers
  • TAS S01E15 The Eye of the Beholder
  • VOY S01E14 Faces
  • DS9 S07E13 Field of Fire
  • TNG S04E09 Final Mission
  • ENT S04E07 The Forge
  • DS9 S01E17 The Forsaken
  • TNG S04E16 Galaxy’s Child
  • TNG  MNG01 Generations
  • TNG S03E12 The High Ground
  • VOY S07E23 Homestead
  • VOY S04E15 Hunters
  • TNG S07E10 Inheritance
  • TNG MNG03 Insurrection
  • TNG S01E08 Justice
  • ENT S02E06 Marauders
  • TNG S07E17 Masks
  • TNG S03E14 A Matter of Perspective
  • TOS S01E11 The Menagerie, Part I
  • TOS S01E12 The Menagerie, Part II
  • TOS MOS01 The Motion Picture
  • DS9 S07E07 Once More Unto the Breach
  • DS9 S06E14 One Little Ship
  • DS9 S02E15 Paradise
  • VOY S01E03 Parallax
  • TNG S07E11 Parallels
  • DS9 S01E03 Past Prologue
  • DS9 S07E17 Penumbra
  • TNG S06E09 The Quality of Life
  • DS9 S04E24 The Quickening
  • DS9 S05E10 Rapture
  • TNG S06E07 Rascals
  • TNG S04E26 Redemption
  • TNG S06E23 Rightful Heir
  • DS9 S02E07 Rules of Acquisition
  • DS9 S04E20 Shattered Mirror
  • TOS S01E15 Shore Leave
  • ENT S01E16 Shuttlepod One
  • DS9 S06E03 Sons and Daughters
  • TOS S03E06 Spectre of the Gun
  • TOS S01E17 The Squire of Gothos
  • VOY S01E11 State of Flux
  • TNG S06E22 Suspicions
  • TOS S03E17 That Which Survives
  • DS9 S06E24 Time’s Orphan
  • TOS S03E24 Turnabout Intruder
  • DS9 S06E22 Valiant
  • VOY S07E15 The Void
  • VOY S06E09 The Voyager Conspiracy
  • VOY S03E10 Warlord
  • TOS S03E20 The Way to Eden
  • DS9 S06E17 Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night
2.5 out of 5 stars
  • DS9 S04E16 Bar Association
  • TNG S01E12 The Big Goodbye
  • DS9 S02E19 Blood Oath
  • TNG S07E22 Bloodlines
  • ENT S01E08 Breaking the Ice
  • DS9 S05E18 Business as Usual
  • TNG S06E20 The Chase
  • TOS S01E13 The Conscience of the King
  • TNG S05E20 Cost of Living
  • TAS S02E06 The Counter-Clock Incident
  • VOY S07E05 Critical Care
  • ENT S02E18 The Crossing
  • DS9 S05E11 The Darkness and the Light
  • VOY S03E23 Distant Origin
  • ENT S03E16 Doctor’s Orders
  • DS9 S01E18 Dramatis Personae
  • VOY S07E03 Drive
  • TNG S04E21 The Drumhead
  • TOS S03E12 The Empath
  • ENT S03E06 Exile
  • TNG S05E19 The First Duty
  • TOS S02E11 Friday’s Child
  • VOY S06E23 Fury
  • ENT S03E17 Hatchery
  • VOY S01E12 Heroes and Demons
  • VOY S07E18 Human Error
  • TNG S02E14 The Icarus Factor
  • VOY S02E02 Initiations
  • VOY S02E22 Innocence
  • TNG S07E03 Interface
  • VOY S02E20 Investigations
  • TAS S01E16 The Jihad
  • VOY S05E21 Juggernaut
  • TNG S01E05 The Last Outpost
  • TNG S04E06 Legacy
  • TNG S07E02 Liaisons
  • DS9 S01E04 A Man Alone
  • TOS S03E16 The Mark of Gideon
  • DS9 S02E06 Melora
  • TAS S01E05 More Tribbles, More Troubles
  • VOY S04E04 Nemesis
  • VOY S05E08 Nothing Human
  • ENT S01E20 Oasis
  • TNG S03E16 The Offspring
  • TNG S05E17 The Outcast
  • VOY S02E08 Persistence of Vision
  • VOY S02E03 Projections
  • DS9 S03E16 Prophet Motive
  • VOY S02E13 Prototype
  • ENT S01E18 Rogue Planet
  • DS9 S02E10 Sanctuary
  • TNG S02E06 The Schizoid Man
  • VOY S04E07 Scientific Method
  • DS9 S03E24 Shakaar
  • ENT S01E26 Shockwave
  • DS9 S05E17 A Simple Investigation
  • DS9 S04E15 Sons of Mogh
  • DS9 S07E19 Strange Bedfellows
  • TNG S04E04 Suddenly Human
  • TNG S03E03 The Survivors
  • DS9 S04E09 The Sword of Kahless
  • DS9 S03E17 Visionary
  • TOS S01E07 What Are Little Girls Made Of?
  • TOS S02E02 Who Mourns for Adonais?
  • DS9 S06E07 You are Cordially Invited…
2 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S05E23 11:59
  • TOS S01E27 The Alternative Factor
  • TAS S01E13 The Ambergris Element
  • TNG S06E13 Aquiel
  • DS9 S01E13 Battle Lines
  • DS9 S04E25 Body Parts
  • ENT S02E17 Canamar
  • VOY S01E01-2 Caretaker
  • TNG S02E01 The Child
  • DS9 S07E05 Chrysalis
  • VOY S03E03 The Chute
  • VOY S01E06 The Cloud
  • ENT S02E22 Cogenitor
  • TNG S01E19 Coming of Age
  • TNG S07E07 Dark Page
  • VOY S03E18 Darkling
  • TNG S04E13 Devil’s Due
  • VOY S05E17 The Disease
  • DS9 S03E18 Distant Voices
  • VOY S06E07 Dragon’s Teeth
  • ENT S03E21 E²
  • TOS S03E13 Elaan of Troyius
  • VOY S01E09 Emanations
  • VOY S05E03 Extreme Risk
  • TNG S07E18 Eye of the Beholder
  • VOY S03E13 Fair Trade
  • VOY S03E05 False Profits
  • DS9 S05E20 Ferengi Love Songs
  • ENT S01E03 Fight or Flight
  • TOS MOS05 The Final Frontier
  • TNG S07E21 Firstborn
  • TOS S03E08 For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
  • TNG S05E06 The Game
  • TOS S02E16 The Gamesters of Triskelion
  • TNG S01E11 Haven
  • TNG S01E10 Hide and Q
  • DS9 S06E20 His Way
  • ENT S02E20 Horizon
  • TNG S04E23 The Host
  • TOS S02E08 I, Mudd
  • TNG S05E22 Imaginary Friend
  • DS9 S05E25 In the Cards
  • TNG S04E25 In Theory
  • TNG S07E20 Journey’s End
  • DS9 S05E07 Let He Who Is Without Sin…
  • TOS S03E18 The Lights of Zetar
  • VOY S07E12 Lineage
  • TAS S01E04 The Lorelei Signal
  • TNG S02E05 Loud as a Whisper
  • DS9 S06E10 The Magnificent Ferengi
  • TNG S06E03 Man of the People
  • TNG S05E13 The Masterpiece Society
  • DS9 S04E21 The Muse
  • VOY S06E22 Muse
  • ENT S02E05 A Night In Sickbay
  • VOY S07E08 Nightingale
  • VOY S02E05 Non Sequitur
  • TAS S01E09 Once Upon a Planet
  • DS9 S01E09 The Passenger
  • TOS S02E21 Patterns of Force
  • TNG S02E15 Pen Pals
  • TNG S05E21 The Perfect Mate
  • VOY S01E05 Phage
  • TNG S07E06 Phantasms
  • TOS S03E10 Plato’s Stepchildren
  • TNG S03E08 The Price
  • TOS S02E19 A Private Little War
  • VOY S07E14 Prophecy
  • DS9 S01E07 Q-Less
  • TNG S04E20 Qpid
  • VOY S02E25 Resolutions
  • DS9 S06E08 Resurrection
  • TNG S02E12 The Royale
  • VOY S03E07 Sacred Ground
  • TNG S02E17 Samaritan Snare
  • TOS S03E22 The Savage Curtain
  • ENT S02E09 Singularity
  • VOY S05E22 Someone to Watch Over Me
  • ENT S04E01 Storm Front
  • TNG S01E22 Symbiosis
  • VOY S05E09 Thirty Days
  • VOY S02E15 Threshold
  • TAS S01E12 The Time Trap
  • TNG S01E16 Too Short a Season
  • TNG S03E25 Transfigurations
  • VOY S02E06 Twisted
  • ENT S01E25 Two Days and Two Nights
  • ENT S01E05 Unexpected
  • VOY S04E22 Unforgettable
  • TNG S02E07 Unnatural Selection
  • TNG S03E09 The Vengeance Factor
  • VOY S06E13 Virtuoso
  • VOY S04E20 Vis à Vis
  • VOY S05E25 Warhead
  • TNG S01E17 When the Bough Breaks
  • TNG S02E02 Where Silence Has Lease
  • DS9 S06E12 Who Mourns for Morn?
  • ENT S03E01 The Xindi
1.5 out of 5 stars
  • ENT S01E19 Acquisition
  • ENT S04E15 Affliction
  • VOY S06E05 Alice
  • VOY S02E14 Alliances
  • TOS S03E04 And the Children Shall Lead
  • TNG S01E14 Angel One
  • TOS S02E05 The Apple
  • ENT S02E25 Bounty
  • ENT S04E16 Divergence
  • VOY S06E11 Fair Haven
  • TNG S07E09 Force of Nature
  • TNG S07E19 Genesis
  • ENT S03E15 Harbinger
  • DS9 S06E15 Honor Among Thieves
  • DS9 S01E16 If Wishes Were Horses
  • TNG S02E19 Manhunt
  • VOY S07E22 Natural Law
  • TNG MNG04 Nemesis
  • TOS S02E23 The Omega Glory
  • VOY S05E05 Once Upon a Time
  • TNG S02E04 The Outrageous Okona
  • DS9 S07E11 Prodigal Daughter
  • TOS S03E19 Requiem for Methuselah
  • DS9 S02E11 Rivals
  • ENT S01E12 Silent Enemy
  • TNG S01E23 Skin of Evil
  • ENT S04E02 Storm Front, Part II
  • DS9 S01E14 The Storyteller
  • VOY S02E23 The Thaw
  • VOY S06E15 Tsunkatse
  • TNG S05E12 Violations
  • TOS S02E14 Wolf in the Fold
1 out of 5 stars
  • VOY S03E14 Alter Ego
  • VOY S07E20 Author, Author
  • ENT S04E17 Bound
  • TOS S02E07 Catspaw
  • TNG S01E04 Code of Honor
  • VOY S04E24 Demon
  • DS9 S07E12 The Emperor’s New Cloak
  • VOY S01E08 Ex Post Facto
  • ENT S03E03 Extinction
  • DS9 S03E10 Fascination
  • VOY S03E20 Favorite Son
  • VOY S05E19 The Fight
  • ENT S01E17 Fusion
  • TOS S03E15 Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
  • VOY S02E19 Lifesigns
  • DS9 S03E08 Meridian
  • DS9 S01E10 Move Along Home
  • TAS S01E10 Mudd’s Passion
  • TAS S02E03 The Practical Joker
  • DS9 S06E23 Profit and Lace
  • ENT S03E04 Rajiin
  • VOY S03E22 Real Life
  • VOY S07E13 Repentance
  • VOY S04E17 Retrospect
  • VOY S06E17 Spirit Folk
  • ENT S01E04 Strange New World
  • TNG S07E14 Sub Rosa
  • VOY S02E09 Tattoo
  • TNG S02E18 Up the Long Ladder
  • ENT S02E10 Vanishing Point
  • TNG S01E24 We’ll Always Have Paris
0.5 out of 5 stars
  • ENT S02E11 Precious Cargo
  • TOS S03E01 Spock’s Brain

No rating

  • TOS S02E26 Assignment: Earth
  • TNG S02E22 Shades of Gray

Trekaday #099: Relativity, Extreme Measures, Warhead, The Dogs of War, Equinox, What You Leave Behind

Posted on July 31st, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

VOY S05E24 Relativity (4 out of 5 stars). After flashing all the way back to December 2000 last time, we’re now flashing back to Voyager’s send off from space dock, and Janeway’s first time sitting in the captain’s chair – but before we hit the opening titles, there’s Seven of Nine in a blue Starfleet uniform, looking furtively over her shoulder. She’s looking for “temporal distortions”, because of course she is. Giving even one character access to a TARDIS which can take her anywhere in time and space is dangerous ground for a series predicated on our people being trapped years from home with no hope of rescue, but I’m prepared to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Second time around, and slightly less interestingly, Seven is sent back to Season 2, and one of Voyager’s battles with the Kazon. The central twist in which temporal meddler Braxton turns out to be the saboteur is just the kind of insane nonsense which this show does so well, but it doesn’t mean as much as it would have done if it had been a character we knew better (it doesn’t help matters that it’s a returning character played by a new actor).

I’m fairly sure there’s no such thing as “fractal calculus”.

DS9 S07E23 Extreme Measures (4 out of 5 stars). Kira and what’s left of Odo are back on the station, and their seeming goodbyes are rather touching. René Auberjonois and Nana Visitor are superb – never grandstanding, but totally believable, despite all the latex. This might be the most successful love story in the whole of the franchise. O’Brien and Bashir now break ranks and reveal to Sisko their plan to lure Section 31 to the station. And lo! There’s William Sadler doing his steepled-fingers-while-you-sleep routine. While there was good stuff in the last episode, it was dragged down by the bad. Here we have long-gestating storylines finally coalescing, and we’re putting our major characters at the centre of the action – both things we’ve been getting only very occasionally since Penumbra.

And because this is Deep Space Nine, solving his problem also means Bashir stepping over some ethical lines – using illegal Romulan mind-mashing gizmos to root around in Sloan’s consciousness to find the information he needs to save Odo. It’s rare indeed to see heroes of mainstream American television shows as the ones using torture to get what they want (Jack Bauer comes to mind). If anything, I could have done with a bit more handwringing from Siddig, who switches a bit too easily from “isn’t the irony horrific” to “oh goodie, a hard problem for me to get my teeth into.”

The hard problem involves O’Brien and Bashir walking through a dreamscape of Sloan’s memories (relocated to the station in a budget-saving move) and watching him give an account of himself to his imagined loved-ones and then setting guards on them. There being no shuttlecraft for them to talk on, they confess deep feelings while slumped injured against a wall. We’ve seen versions of this scene before, of course, but this has seven years of history behind it, and the extraordinary high stakes of the situation to bolster it.

While I appreciate the storytelling efficiency, having the miracle cure for the Changeling Pox reverse every symptom inside three seconds of the drug being administered is completely ridiculous, and very unwise for an episode which was playing games with plausible realities. And while I appreciate the novelty of an episode which actually told a complete story, the price we pay for that is that we learn nothing new about Weyoun, Damar, Dukat, Kai Winn, TFC, Martok, the Breen and everything else which was until recently being parcelled out over multiple episodes, and once again there’s literally nothing for Jake and Quark and next to nothing for Sisko, Kira, Dax and Worf.

Okay then – two episodes to go.

VOY S05E25 Warhead (2 out of 5 stars). Writers of nineties Trek grew up watching reruns of 1960s sitcoms and so when they want some domestic business-as-usual they reach for clichés like “I’ve forgotten my wife’s anniversary,” and thus a disposable Neelix/Paris scene kicks us off. Meanwhile Kim is learning that spatial anomalies, alien raiders, unexpected wormholes, temporal distortions and unexpected distress calls all tend to crop up only during Voyager’s “office hours” and never when the internal ship’s chronometer is set to between 0100 and 0600. Shouldering the burden of command is Harry Kim who leads the away mission comprising him, the Doctor and a nameless security officer whose costume doesn’t fit properly – no doubt because he won’t be needing it for very long.

Ensign Still Green After All These Years messes with an automated probe down on the planet which appears to have a human personality embedded in it, and has it beamed up to the ship without a second thought. Even after they discover it’s a weapon of mass destruction, they continue to treat it as an honoured guest and very nearly lose the ship when it arms itself and they aren’t able to beam it off. In a dispiriting re-run of Darkling, the intelligence takes over the Doctor. So, this is the usual Voyager gibberish science, but relies on everyone involved being as stupid as possible, and so both the adventure story and the philosophical musings are weak.

DS9 S07E24 The Dogs of War (3 out of 5 stars). Following last week’s refreshing devotion to a single strong plotline, this penultimate instalment hops from strand-to-strand with an almost ADHD-like frenzy. Bashir and Dax finally cement their relationship, with barely any shows left. The Defiant Mark II aka the USS Sao Paulo docks at the station and Sisko is given the big chair. Damar is adding further Cardassian troops to his anti-Dominion cause, but the Jem’Hadar is one step ahead and he, Garak and Kira end up trapped. Hilariously, Garak arranges to have them hidden by his old housekeeper. Odo finally learns the truth about his illness and he’s understandably peeved to think that his Federation friends are the ones who plotted the genocide of his people. Also – there are Ferengi on the station, remember, including sigh the Grand Nagus, who has chosen his replacement.

Some of these work better than others, some feel like the seven-year story is coming to an end, some of them feel like arbitrary busywork. Still no sign of Dukat and Winn, which is completely baffling, especially given that everyone is in this one, including two different Jeffrey Combs characters (who don’t meet each other). It plays rather like the last five seasons on shuffle, with scenes in wildly differing tones coming one after the other.

“Seskal” probably wasn’t the best choice of name for the doomed Cardassian as when Kira urgently hisses that word and urges him to beam them up, it sounds like she’s saying “Sisko”.

VOY S05E26 Equinox (3.5 out of 5 stars). It’s the end of the season. It’s another all-action, super-mega-crisis cold open, with a battered ship, helmed by people we’ve never met, forced to drop their shields and menaced by materialising Slimers from Ghostbusters. Turns out this is another Federation ship, the Equinox, and they’re only a handful of light years from Voyager’s position. Captain Ransom is known to Janeway and when they arrive, his ship is in one piece – just about – but there are very few survivors and they’re puzzled to say the least to be rescued by other humans (plus Seven and Neelix).

Director David Livingston shoots the wrecked ship with tons of atmosphere and style and it’s always a pleasure to see John Savage as Ransom. What’s puzzling is that Equinox was pulled into the Delta Quadrant after Voyager but didn’t know that another Federation ship was missing. Wouldn’t Voyager’s disappearance have been big news back home? Integrating two disparate crews sounds like it might be a fun plotline, but that was supposed to be the premise of this show, and it was flatly ignored as soon as possible, so I don’t have huge hopes for this aspect of the story. And I couldn’t care less about “BLT”’s old boyfriend (Lost’s Titus Welliver) coming back to needle Tom Paris. Chakotay’s new friend with engineering skills and PTSD is of more interest, but this all seems very sedate and talky after the blood-and-thunder opening.

A frequent trope of Star Trek in all its incarnations is that Starfleet is the best of the best, and very often, our central characters are exceptional even within this exceptional group (Kirk was the only one to bring his ship back intact after his five year mission for example). And likewise, Ransom turns out to be rather less successful at maintaining Federation ideals (and keeping his crew alive) this far from home. The mystery about what they’re really up to isn’t deathly dull, but the ramping down of energy through the middle is an issue, and makes this feel like a regular episode stretched out to double length rather than an epic tale which needs a full ninety minutes. If it weren’t for the twist with the Equinox’s EMH, this would struggle to stay in my mind until tomorrow, let alone three months.

Whenever anyone in a television drama says “I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” make a bet that they’re hiding something.

DS9 S07E25-26 What You Leave Behind (4.5 out of 5 stars). Here it is then – the culmination of the biggest, most complex story the Star Trek franchise has ever attempted. A very different problem to the one faced by All Good Things, five years ago. That needed to end a story designed never to end. This needs to definitively end a story which has been spread over 175 episodes. Commitment to serialisation has wavered over the last seven years, but every story since Penumbra has been part of this climactic arc, and it’s all been building to this.

Sad to say, judged by the standards of modern serialised TV, it’s been a bit of a mess. Early episodes tended to flit from scenario to scenario, barely inching the disparate plotlines along and this lent a disjointed and sluggish air to proceedings. Some developments were thrilling and moving – Kira’s role in the Cardassian rebellion, Odo’s near-fate at the hands of Section 31, the role of the Breen in the ongoing war – some continue to seem irrelevant – Winn’s acquisition of the Pah’Wraith Book of the Dead, Ezri and Bashir failing to get it on, who gets to be number one Klingon. And although Deep Space Nine is blessed with a tremendous bench of secondary and tertiary characters, it’s bizarre to see so little material for the series regulars: Quark has been very badly served, O’Brien just follows Bashir around, Dax has had little to do except to coach other people, Jake has been completely MIA, and even Sisko has been routinely sidelined, despite his unique position in both Federation and Bajoran societies.

But with ninety minutes to play with, and a war to win, hopefully everyone will be on their game. Last episode’s big revelation was Kasidy’s pregnancy, but we open on Bashir and Dax (who have enjoyed a big night it seems). Their pact to both come home alive is rather sweet. Not for the first time, the Defiant takes its place in a huge Federation-led armada, taking the fight to the retreating Dominion. Not for the first time, there’s plenty of time for meaningful conversations along the way (deadpan Worf is the best Worf).

While we’re waiting, there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from the ongoing fracturing of the Dominion/Breen/Cardassian alliance, which we see both from their claustrophobic bunker and on the ground as Damar, Garak, Kira and Mrs Hudson plot to stay alive and ideally escape alive. And Kai Winn and Dukat finally emerge from their plot chrysalis and helpfully recap what they were up to half-a-dozen episodes ago before getting around to doing what they first discussed back in Penumbra – releasing the Pah’Wraiths.

When the action starts, it’s quite spectacular with both the CGI exterior shots and the shaky-camera, exploding console interiors looking very dramatic and convincing. Dominion suicide runs don’t seem to me to be playing fair, but it ramps the stakes up wonderfully, especially as Kira and her Cardassian allies are being captured at the same time – and TFC won’t waste time with elaborate scenarios which give them time to escape, she wants them executed immediately. But Weyoun’s decision to raze a Cardassian city to punish the rebels rebounds and first Cardassian soldiers save Kira, and then Cardassian ships turn on the Dominion. It’s a fast victory, but nevertheless a convincing one, built on threads established patiently – if not always engagingly – over many previous episodes.

Also visually impressive are the Bajoran Fire Caves, the flames of which seemingly restore Dukat’s sight as well as stripping Winn of her hypocrisy (and much of her clothing). Garak and Kira’s assault on the Dominion stronghold is more par for the course, but Andrew Robinson makes the most of the mini-arc he’s given, gleefully roaring “for Cardassia!” along with the other rebels before eliminating the last Weyoun clone.

In an act of pure spite, TFC refuses to give the order to surrender, caring more for taking Federation lives than sparing Jem’Hadar. Odo tries to talk her round and they’re able to link despite her pox. As Bajorans side with Cardassians, it’s Odo the outsider who finally brings peace – and who returns to the Gamma Quadrant in her place. The pain of his and Kira’s separation is testament to the detailed work put in by both actors, as well as some tremendous writing over the years, creating by far the most convincing love story in the franchise. (Bashir and O’Brien are in second place.)

And just as no journey from A to B ever happens during a commercial break on this show, we end the war with thirty minutes of episode left. Much of this is tying up loose character ends: Garak philosophising about what Cardassia was and will be, Worf becoming an ambassador, Kira and Odo saying goodbye, Bashir and O’Brien saying goodbye, Vic Fontaine singing goodbye. But the big loose end is those damned Pah’Wraiths who have apparently kept Winn dementedly monologuing on that cliff-edge for hours, if not days. Inexplicably, Sisko decides to join her at that exact moment – and again, no time seemingly passes while he leaves the Holosuite, charters a runabout, gets clearance to leave the station, sets course for Bajor, navigates into their orbit and beams himself down, where he finds a resurrected and reconstituted Dukat, still in moustache-twirling pantomime villain mode. Winn obediently switches sides at the last moment and space Jesus is, if not resurrected, then certainly given what feels like a less than permanent exit. Even Jake barely seems to register that his dad is missing, presumed dead, and Kasidy’s pregnancy is never even mentioned.

So, this isn’t flawless, and the Dukat/Winn subplot is the worst aspect, but there are weird ebbs and flows of momentum throughout, partly due to the fact that the preceeding episodes did so little to build up a head of steam. And yet, the whole is so much more than the some of its sometimes carelessly-assembled parts, and if the trippy psychobabble in the last act makes very little sense, it does at least centre the star of the show once more, something which we’ve had very little of lately.

Last episodes play by different rules. There’s no reset button, no plot armour and no guarantees of happy endings. If writers Beimler and Behr don’t take advantage of all of those opportunities, it’s hard to criticise them for it, when so much of what we do get is so engrossing, fulfilling and heartfelt. And Quark’s final line is pretty much perfect.

Last appearance of quite a lot of folks. Only Kira and Quark turn up (briefly) on Lower Decks and although Alexander Siddig was seen on Picard, he wasn’t playing the actual Bashir. Janeway and Seven are all over the animated spin-offs, and Kate Mulgrew even filmed a scene for Star Trek: Nemesis (although it was cut) but this series ends as it began – the obscure syndicated spin-off, albeit now in the shadow of the big network show instead of a similarly-syndicated older brother. So this is it for Sisko père et fils, Worf (on television), Dax, Bashir and O’Brien, as well as Dukat, Garak, Ross, Damar, Kasidy, Weyoun, Keiko, Nog, Martok, TFC, Winn and Vic Fontaine. Rom and assorted Ferengi we said goodbye to last time.

VOY S06E01 Equinox, Part II (3 out of 5 stars). Janeway and Chakotay are bonked by slimers but all they seem to do is knock them off their feet, and the end of the teaser is nothing more than “evil bad guy who was evilly bad last episode does evil bad thing shocker.” But these double act-outs at the begin of part two often do this kind of episode no favours so let’s not rush to judgement. Seven’s intransigence onboard the Equinox is a nice way to treat her character (and reminded me of Data vs the toy collector back on TNG) and in plot terms, the EMH switcheroo continues to deliver.

What’s puzzling and disappointing is Janeway’s guns-out, kill-the-SOBs, handling of the situation. The Janeway who expertly brokered the peace in In the Flesh wouldn’t tell Chakotay to stuff his order to start trusting the aliens they’re trying to make friends with. Instead we have the level-headed, compassionate Captain, driven by mainly curiosity suggesting open warfare to her Maquis rebel first officer who is urging caution, dialogue and knowing when to let something go. Sisko you could understand behaving like this. On his very worst day, just possibly Picard. Janeway? Nah. I get that the point is to push Janeway’s actions to the limits of her morality, but the ground wasn’t laid for this to play out in this way. And in the end, it’s Ransom who makes the moral choice, so Janeway is off the hook and her big debates with Chakotay are rendered moot.

Possibly the best part of the whole episode is the early shot of Janeway, marching down Voyager’s corridors, carrying a gun almost as big as she is, pausing only momentarily to glance at the fallen alien, and marching onward, aware of the horrors that her fellow humans have inflicted, equally aware that she has a job to do. The rest of the episode could have done with more of that kind of subtlety. I also appreciated the grace note of Ransom meeting his end from within his seaside fantasy.

Voyager Season 5 wrap-up

After the resurgence of confidence which Season 4 heralded, Season 5 is a bit of a step back. Seven is now just another crew member, so the thrill of watching her spiky Borg ways come into conflict with the warm fuzzy Federation is greatly reduced. But at the same time, thin characters like Kim, Paris and Neelix have remained drastically underdeveloped and once promising characters like Torres and Tuvok have stalled in their development.

Robert Beltran meanwhile seems to have given up almost completely. It’s hard to blame him, given the limited opportunities he’s been given, but whereas actors like Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Marina Sirtis (eventually), Terry Farrell and Alexander Siddig gradually expanded what their characters were capable of, which in turn inspired the writers, Beltran doesn’t do much even when he’s given an actual plot function in a story (which isn’t often, but you don’t catch say Garrett Wang asleep at the wheel in the same way).

So, given that they’re by some measure the best characters, most of the stories tend to centre Captain Janeway, the Doctor and Seven of Nine, rather as TOS put Kirk, Spock and McCoy at the centre of all of the stories and included other members of the “regular cast” at random. You can do this of course, I don’t expect to see Uncle Arthur in every episode of Bewitched, but that’s not how this series was conceived, and it’s hard to see how we ended up here.

The best of this year’s stories have tended to be the ones which didn’t try and beat TNG at its high-minded-science-and-warm-family-feeling-game and which steered clear of DS9’s intense war-is-hell psycho drama. Voyager’s strongest suit turns out to be bonkers high-concept episodes which threaten to upend the very fabric of the show (but never do). Those can be thrilling while they’re on, but they don’t tend to linger in the mind, and the level of invention only has to falter for a second for me to notice that most of the characters are just lifeless puppets being pushed around by the plot.

Top episodes included the very strong season opener Night, the terrific Latent Image and the loopy Bride of Chaotica!. Weakest episodes included the dreadfully moppety Once Upon a Time, the dire The Fight and the ghastly and derivative Someone to Watch Over Me. The mid-season two parter worked very well, but the season-spanning double-episode less so.

Voyager now has the airwaves to itself, as DS9 has wrapped up and Enterprise hasn’t been thought of yet. For the first time since 1994 there’s only one Star Trek series in production. That’s freed-up Ronald D Moore to come over to this show. Rumour is, he took one look at Equinox, Part II and was like: “Guys, I’m out.”

DS9 wrap-up

There’s no question that DS9 sits very oddly in the Trek canon, and there’s no way that it could possibly have birthed a franchise on its own, or even that it would have carried the flame the way that TNG did, if TNG hadn’t come first.

As noted elsewhere, it tends to be overlooked as it always shared the airwaves with shows that had higher profiles, but DS9 exists in the shadows and in the grey areas. No other show of this era could have pulled off queasy, morally-compromised episodes like For the Uniform, In the Pale Moonlight, The Siege of AR-558 or The Ship, to say nothing of the magnificent Far Beyond the Stars. All of this pays of the promise which we saw way back in Season 1 with the extraordinary Duet.

Of course, this show also gave us dross like Profit and Lace and the concluding arc was something of a mess, but nobody can knock out 26 cast-iron classics every year, which makes the incredibly strong run from the end of Season 3 to the middle of Season 4 even more impressive. This is a show on which everything is working. Wobbly characters from the first season have bedded-in. Strong characters have become deeper and richer. And that incredible supporting cast is now fully-established.

This gave the show the freedom to experiment with form, tone and structure, and gave rise to potentially divisive, but undeniably ambitious, outings like Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Badda-Bing Badda-Bang, Little Green Men and Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places. The show which pushed the envelope with serialisation often did its very best work in these purely standalone episodes.

So DS9 ends up with a slightly higher overall average than TNG, 3.42 instead of 3.30, which I think largely reflects how quickly the new show got its act together. But no one season beats the amazing run of TNG Season 6, with its incredible 3.9 average. DS9’s best season was its fourth with 3.72 and its last season averaged a still very respectable 3.34.

What’s also slightly odd about DS9 in the context of the overall Star Trek universe is how much it changed and yet how little it influenced. Over seven years, we put the Federation through the kind of bloody conflict only previously glimpsed in horrific alternate universes, we introduced a major new threat made up of three different alien races (Founders, Vorta, Jem’Hadar), rearranged alliances throughout the Federation, eliminated the Maquis as a threat and added vast amounts of lore to the Bajorans, Cardassians, Trill and especially the Ferengi. But the show which continued after DS9 finished was Voyager, which was sealed off from all these changes by design. And the next show was set over 200 years in the past. So nobody else got to pick up these chess pieces from where Ira Steven Behr and company left them (on TV at least).

As noted, no main characters from this show have been re-used in the Kurtzman era, save a couple of very brief cameos, and DS9 never made it to the big screen either. There was an audience for Picard and Data – until suddenly there wasn’t – and although a spin-off movie gathering up some of the cheaper characters from across various series was considered, it never got the green light.

Voyager meanwhile, quite sensibly, isn’t trying to out-Deep Space Nine Deep Space Nine and instead is charting its own path. You can’t blame it for that, but I’ll miss the detailed character work, pointed ethical conundrums and refreshingly bleak outlook which you can only get here.

Trekaday #098: Juggernaut, The Changing Face of Evil, Someone to Watch Over Me, When It Rains…, 11:59, Tacking Into the Wind

Posted on July 24th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

VOY S05E21 Juggernaut (2.5 out of 5 stars). Unusually, we spend the whole of the teaser on another ship, belonging to Galactic pollutors the Malon. They are struggling with crew dynamics, hull integrity and the need to buy a birthday present – a feature of parenting which is apparently pan-universal. Voyager to the rescue but there are only two survivors. But their crippled and toxic vessel is still a danger to shipping requiring an away team to go and shut it down, which descends into a pretty standard-issue hunt-the-monster runaround. Meanwhile Torres seems to have regressed to a petulant 14-year-old version of the character, written by an inexperienced 16-year-old. All she does is chuck her toys out of the pram and then complain when a grown-up asks her nicely to pick them up. Roxann Dawson does what she can but even by Voyager’s low standards this isa pretty poor version of this-is-the-story-we-tell-with-this-character. By contrast, it’s amazing how far Ethan Phillips has come. Neelix who was once endlessly irritating comic relief is now able to modulate smoothly between enthusiasm, anxiety and even leadership when that’s required. Starfleet protocol when exploring a contaminated vessel appears to involve no masks, radiation suits or breathing apparatus and plenty of choking and spluttering. Seven is barely present which automatically costs this episode half a star, although I’ll give it back for the quiet emotion of Torres’s Sonic Shower of Exfoliating Trauma at the very end.

DS9 S07E20 The Changing Face of Evil (3.5 out of 5 stars). Following two episodes in which nobody seemed the least bit concerned that Dax and Worf were missing believed dead, O’Brien and Bashir greet them happily with tales of how nobody talked about anything else while they were gone. But the bigger news is that the Oculus Quest aliens have attacked Earth, and the race is on to discover their Kryptonite. Luckily, Damar is there, sowing seeds of dissent, Yojimbo-style. Dukat and Kai Winn remain in their holding pattern. They want access to a Bajorn Book of the Dead, but the pages are blank, so nothing happens. Solbor unmasks Dukat but Winn is too far gone, so she doesn’t alter course, and nothing happens. The pages of the book get filled in but – oops – no time for anything to happen now, it’s the end of the episode.

The Defiant takes on the Breen and – in the first sign that we’re actually moving to the climax – is summarily destroyed, leaving Sisko and his crew in escape pods. But when Damar acts agains the Founders, things really feel like they’re starting to ramp up – even though most of our main characters are stuck standing around and watching events unfold. I can barely even remember what Jake looks like and Odo, Kira and Quark get maybe three lines each, while all O’Brien and Bashir do is re-litigate the Battle of the Alamo. Even Sisko is just commenting from the sidelines. The only reason we see any more of the Worf and Dax is that in possibly the least convincing love affair in the franchise (and that’s a highly-contested prize), Ezri has decided that Julian Bashir is The One – the same Julian Bashir whose clumsy advances Jadzia spent two toe-curling seasons rebuffing. Nobody touches Sisko’s peppers.

VOY S05E22 Someone to Watch Over Me (2 out of 5 stars). Tom Paris is enjoying a candlelit dinner with Torres and babbling about cars as usual. Seven’s anthropological study of their “mating rituals” causes the Klingon to lose her gagh and she more or less tells her “you know, this means war”. Both the Doctor and the Captain suggest that she put herself at the centre of her research programme. Thankfully, this will not be inflicted on the rest of the crew, instead the Doctor borrows Tom’s Season 2 pool room Holodeck programme for a simulated “first contact”. This is all pretty run-of-the-mill stuff which we’ve seen versions of in the show’s past. Data had basically this exact plotline in Season 4 of TNG. Holodeck dry-runs give way to music lessons, at which point I began to question just which show I was watching. How much does your high concept science fiction adventure series have to be underrunning by before you resort to three different renditions of the same sappy song? Only Jeri Ryan’s hilariously underplayed look of horrified amusement at the Doctor’s antics kept me watching. Later, the Doctor takes off her glasses and tells her “Why, Miss Of Nine – you’re beautiful.” She dances with her chosen beta-male on their date and almost breaks his arm. I assume this is meant to be amusing, but it feels badly dated, it dumbs down a fascinating character, and it never makes me laugh – or even smile.  The twist – that the real story is the burgeoning relationship between the Borg and the Hologram – is clearly telegraphed, but actually that helps more than it hinders. True, it’s easy to see coming, but that also means that it seems less random and stupid when it finally arrives.

In what feels like a left-over TNG storyline grafted on to Voyager, Janeway has to get her dress uniform on to welcome a visiting alien delegation who have all kinds of mildly exotic preferences and rituals. The ambassador immediately breaks all the rules, gets wasted and Neelix has to scramble to conceal the fact from his boss as if this was an episode of Terry and June. He’s restored to health and then his boss says he wouldn’t have minded what he got up to anyway. Wa-wah. Janeway is shunted off to the alien ship with such haste that I wondered if she was directing (but, no, Robert McNeill is). Gossip travels faster than warp speed.

DS9 S07E21 When It Rains… (3.5 out of 5 stars). Thanks to the Founders’ novel military strategy of leaving alive as many witnesses as possible (especially those who feature in the show’s opening credits), the Federation now has plenty of intelligence regarding Breen weaponry, and O’Brien has found a possible weakness – at least where Klingon ships are concerned. One of my frustrations with this climactic arc has been how little our main characters are involved, and the pivotal Cardassian rebellion against the founders is a great example – it’s all about the relationship between Damar and Weyoun. These are fascinating characters, but they aren’t the ones I’m most invested in.

Having Kira (and Odo and Garak) despatched to go and teach Damar about guerrilla warfare then is a big improvement, putting a main titles character in the thick of the action, and Sisko is fully aware of the irony. Kira even puts on a Starfleet uniform for the first time. But Kira’s tutoring is incredibly basic – not quite on the Father Ted explaining the difference between cows that are small and cows that are far away, but close. Yes, Damar, mounting a resistance against the Cardassian-Dominion alliance will mean attacking Cardassians, since they are members of the Cardassian-Dominian alliance which is what you are resisting.

While not poring over a sample of Odo’s “goo”, Bashir is busy misunderstanding Ezri’s attitude towards him, which I guess counts as a plotline for a main titles character, but O’Brien and Quark are largely stuck as Someone For Bashir To Talk To, and Sisko just pops up to issue orders once in a while. Gowron is also here for the endgame, and even finds ten seconds to completely forgive Worf for everything and welcome him back into the Klingon fold. Who knew it would be so easy? Maybe least successfully, Dukat and Winn have yet another scene in which they do nothing but explain the status quo to each other, until finally Dukat has the good grace to let the Book of the Dead blind him, which feels like their plotline is finally staggering forward, even if it isn’t exactly clear yet what this means or how it will affect the other plot strands.

VOY S05E23 11:59 (2 out of 5 stars). Like the insufferable nerd that he is, Neelix is full of fascinating facts about the Millennium Gate and the Great Wall of China. Some of them are even true (reflective solar panels sound like the epitome of pointlessness). This gives way to Janeway reciting family history at him for presumably many minutes. Sadly, the story isn’t anything like as interesting as it needs to be to divert viewers who tuned in wanting bonkers space adventures, centred as it is on the old cliche of the one resident who won’t sell to Mega Corp Inc. In an unwelcome touch of nostalgia, the holdout doesn’t like computers, and the millennium eve obsession means that this was hopelessly dated within months of its transmission. Other members of the senior staff tell their own stories but they aren’t deemed interesting enough to be recreated. Parts of the story Janeway grew up knowing are contradicted by records in Voyager’s database but it’s hard to know why I should care.

DS9 S07E22 Tacking Into the Wind (3.5 out of 5 stars). The Kira Nerys School of Terrorist Resistance is in session, but she’s having to keep some of her pupils back after class. Despite their obstinate foolishness, the Cardassians are winning some small battles – even if that means doing Starfleet’s dirty work for them. But Odo has the pox (in fact he’s patient zero) and now Garak knows this as well – as does Kira, who didn’t need to be told. We check in with Bashir and O’Brien simply to reiterate what we were told last time (no recap at the beginning of the episode, and maybe this is why). In other words, all the characters who had a storyline at the end of the last episode remain in their holding patterns and all the characters who didn’t still don’t. Finally, Sisko brings Worf off the subs bench in an attempt to put the suicidally reckless Gowron back in his box, but at first it seems his role is just to give a stricken general a pep talk. He ends up taking a bit more of an active role, but quickly hands the conch of agency back to Martok.

Of more interest is Kira’s conflict with Rusot who believes that her reason for volunteering her services is to kill Cardassians, and whom Garak suggests Kira murder while she still breathes. But the deepest emotional story belongs to Damar, whose family have been wiped out by the Dominion. It’s a strong moment between him and Garak and Kira, even if, again, it comes at the expense of decent material for the supposed stars of the show. Jake is entirely absent, as he has been for most of this climactic arc, so is Quark, and Dax makes only a token appearance. The mission to nick the Breen weapon is tense and well-handled and gives the episode a strong ending, but it feels a bit as if this final epic arc could have lost a couple of instalments quite easily. Also MIA are Winn and Dukat, which is strange.

Trekaday #097: Course: Oblivion, The Fight, Think Tank, Penumbra, ’Til Death Do Us Part, Strange Bedfellows

Posted on July 18th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

VOY S05E18 Course: Oblivion (4.5 out of 5 stars). Chakotay and Janeway take the role of mater and pater familias, in a wedding patterned after Earth (ie 20th century American) traditions, as Paris and Torres tie the knot in their dress uniforms. I’m happy for them, even if they’ve never had a scene together as good as the one in which they first declared their love. They follow Keiko and Miles O’Brien and (briefly) Worf and Jadzia as married regulars on these shows. Not only that, their new Warp drive has the capability to get them home in just over two years – provided it doesn’t actually melt the ship, which is what looks like happening.

One episode after Kim’s hankypanky with an alien chick caused him to start literally glowing, being married to Tom Paris causes Torres’s skin to literally start crawling. Chakotay and Tuvok have to watch old episodes of Voyager to discover which past encounter messed up their ship (it was the incredibly silly Season 4 story Demon). Robert Duncan McNeill goes for broke when his new wife seemingly dies, but it’s hard to take her expiration terribly seriously, and – lo! – she is revealed as a duplicate. And in a huge swing even for this bonkers show, it turns out that this is a crew full of Demonplanet duplicates. Not unreasonably, Not Tom Paris figures all bets are off in the face of this news.

Not Chakotay figures that the only thing that will save them is returning to the Demon planet, but Not Janeway is hell-bent on getting back to Earth (who knows, maybe the real Voyager has already been destroyed?). Like alternate universe stories, this set-up gives us amazingly apocalyptic possibilities and Kate Mulgrew has a wonderful time playing a relentless captain who won’t let a little thing like fatal cell degradation stand between her and her goal. And Not Janeway’s reversal of her position is some of the finest acting we’ve seen on the show to date, although the make-up struggles in the final act – a rare failure for the Berman shows. Kim does pretty well as acting-captain, but no field promotion is forthcoming, of course.

VOY S05E19 The Fight (1 out of 5 stars). A bewildering teaser establishes that we are in “Chaotic Space” and that Chakotay is trying to communicate psychically with some resident Zagbars and is having a bad time. Of all “sports”, boxing is still going strong in the 24th century and it’s a Holodeck bout which brought him to sickbay in the first place. Why we are telling this story out of order is not immediately clear, but it’s often a writer’s solution to a plot which isn’t compelling when told chronologically. Worse, much of the content is “vision quest” inspired dream imagery, but the whole thing is relentlessly generic when it isn’t near-gibberish. This is at least as bad as recent plodders like The Disease, Thirty Days or Once Upon a Time, but I’m knocking it all the way down to one star because of the glorifying of boxing, notwithstanding the Doctor putting the case against. Even Ray Walston can’t save this one.

VOY S05E20 Think Tank (4 out of 5 stars). Tiresomely, Janeway has allowed herself to be distracted by an incredibly chunky looking puzzlebox that brings back unwelcome memories of Data’s finger puzzle and Wesley Crusher’s “Game”. Maybe that’s why she allows herself to be so easily cornered by alien bounty hunters. Jason Alexander smirks and smarms under one of Michael Westmore’s less elaborate makeups as galactic “problem-solver” Kurros who exacts high prices from his clientele. He materialises in the mess hall unbidden and unwanted and offers his services – and all he wants to get Voyager out of this jam is Seven of Nine. The cross and double-cross isn’t hard to see coming, but this is all put across with dash and energy, and Borg vs George Costanza is endlessly fascinating. Like many people, Kurros has a fish tank in the waiting room.

DS9 S07E17 Penumbra (3 out of 5 stars). Worf’s ship is reported destroyed by a Dominion patrol. Fearing the worst, and hearing Jadzia’s voice in her head, Dax breaks into Worf’s quarters and tortures herself with memories before taking a runabout and finding him herself. No-one else on the station seemed ready to say goodbye to him, so I wasn’t convinced he was gone. This is really just an excuse to stick Dax and Worf in a runabout together – a signature Deep Space Nine move. Before long, Ezri and Worf are abandoned on a jungle planet, much as Jadzia and Worf were towards the end of Season 6.

Over with Weyoun and TFC, there is still no cure for the sickness infecting The Great Link, and Damar’s trust in his allies is wavering. And Sisko is discovering that he can either be the Emissary of the Prophets, or marry Kasidy in front of a handful of close friends, but not both. We end with Worf and Dax prisoner, Dukat disguised as a Bajoran and Sisko discovering that his dead mom doesn’t approve of his girlfriend. This is a handful of unrelated bits-and-pieces, which is no doubt setting the table for some good stuff to come, but which isn’t all that satisfactory as an episode of television in itself.

DS9 S07E18 ’Til Death Do Us Part (3.5 out of 5 stars). The ultra-mysterious prophets having been reduced to Sisko’s quarrelsome step-parents, it might come as a relief to only have to deal with Kai Winn’s supercilious treachery. “The prophets have never spoken to me directly,” she laments, which the pah’Wraiths take as their cue to make her their instrument. Also picking up where we left them are Dukat and Damar, Weyoun and Dax and Worf. Although I think Worf carrying on with Ezri is rather ridiculous, Nicole de Boer flickers into life as she lists off her cell mates’ failed attempts at escape, criticises the prison catering and speculates about Breen grooming needs underneath their VR headsets.

Everyone moves one further square towards the endgame, but again this is a bit unsatisfactory as an episode. Why have Dax and Worf been shunted into their own sideplot? Why are Odo, O’Brien, Bashir and Quark very nearly MIA? Even Kira only gets a handful of bland lines. And am I supposed to be as interested in Sisko’s wedding plans as am I about the future of the Alpha Quadrant? Because I’m super-not. Half a star up on last week’s for a strong ending, finally colliding two of these disparate plot-lines.

DS9 S07E19 Strange Bedfellows (2.5 out of 5 stars). TFC grows ever more decrepit. It’s a nice touch that her scabies affect her “clothing” as well as her “skin” (because it’s all just shape-shifting after all). On meeting the Breen, she’s able to “pull herself together” which is a curious feature of the ever-more mysterious disease. On board the Breen ship, Worf and Dax briefly get the upper hand and manage to off Weyoun (but as Damar points out, they should have killed him instead, he can’t be replaced as easily). It also finally dawns on Kai Winn that the prophets who have brought her her guide are pah’Wraiths. Was that meant to be a surprise to us all? I just assumed they were the red-tinged incorporeal badguys from the beginning. Sadly, it doesn’t change anything. Dukat continues to manipulate her with distressing ease. It might raise the stakes (a bit) but it fatally undermines a once complex and fascinating character.

Speaking of which, Dax and Worf endlessly re-litigating their relationship doesn’t do much to keep my attention. If I have to hear one more time that Ezri is not Jadzia I’ll put my foot through the TV. And then, wildly improbably, Damar turns around, guns down his own guards and sets them free. The Cardassian leader feels like a helpless puppet, enslaved by the needs of the plot. Sure, Weyoun is being a dick to him, but this is just stupid. And we still have half the main titles cast given nothing to do.

Trekaday #096: Field of Fire, Bliss, Chimera, Dark Frontier, Badda-Bing Badda-Bang, The Disease, Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

Posted on July 12th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S07E13 Field of Fire (3 out of 5 stars). Starfleet’s latest hotshot flying ace is the toast of Quark’s, and flirting with Dax. “I wish they could have been here to see this,” he announces, holding a photo of his old Academy buddies, while the neon sign flickers into life above his head reading “I am about to die”. And lo, he is found shot to death in his quarters next morning. Odo is swiftly on the case, armed with his knowledge of Raymond Chandler novels, but Dax feels responsible, as the last person to see him alive. Her guilt-ridden dreams, in which the dead pilot blames her for his death and she looks down and sees literal bloody on her hands, are all pretty clichéd stuff, alas, shot in familiar this-is-a-dream ways. We learned in Equilibrium that a previous Dax was a murderer and Ezri now decides that it’s only be imaging talking to him that she will understand how a killer thinks. I’m still struggling to get to know Nicole de Boer’s take on Dax, and pairing her with this very standard-issue TV badguy doesn’t do much to bring the character into focus. The killer’s transporter-rifle is pretty cool, if a bit over-engineered. And Worf is back.

VOY S05E14 Bliss (3.5 out of 5 stars). Once-suspicious Janeway is full of sunny optimism when a wormhole leading directly to Earth shows up right in their path. The captain can’t wait to steer Voyager straight into its welcoming jaws, but Seven urges caution, especially when letters from home contain nothing but good news. Even more mysteriously, Janeway’s own log entries (as hacked into by Seven) reveal that she knew all along that it was bogus. Pretty soon, Voyager’s Jonah is swallowed by the mind-mashing whale and the script hits the beats you’d expect, with some finesse, but little innovation. Following his stay in the brig, Tom Paris is still an ensign, so there is some continuity from episode-to-episode even on this show. W Morgan Sheppard adds class as the doomed Qatai.

DS9 S07E14 Chimera (4 out of 5 stars). Returning to the station in a runabout, Odo and O’Brien encounter another Changeling – one of the hundred sent out to gather information. While not one of the founders, the new arrival has a rather sour attitude towards humanoids, and his conversations with Odo are fascinating. But it’s the way his feelings about solids and shapeshifters reflects off Kira and Odo which is the heart of this show. Nana Visitor and René Auberjonois both do superb work and the climax, in which Odo seemingly leaves with the new arrival, is stunning. Weirdly, the new Changeling is played by General Martok actor JG Hertzler.

VOY S05E15-16 Dark Frontier (4.5 out of 5 stars). So, by now Brannon Braga and Rick Berman had figured out what made Voyager work. Took them long enough. Quiet at the back. Where DS9 was going for grounded, character-driven stuff, Voyager needed to be taking big high-concepts and running with them. Seven of Nine was their breakout character. Ratings-grabbing feature-length episodes had helped build the profile of the show. And it never hurts to have the Borg involved. Thus – Dark Frontier, also known as Now That’s What I Call Star Trek: Voyager 1999.

Once again (as with The Killing Game), different directors worked on the first and second halves and this was designed to be chopped neatly into two halves for syndication, but once again it aired as a single two-hour special, so that’s how we’re treating it here. Adding to the fun is Susannah Thompson as the Borg Queen, making only her second appearance since First Contact (she’ll go on to be a big feature of Picard Season 2 where she’ll be played by Annie Wersching). Thompson is handily the least effective of the three, which isn’t to say she’s bad, she’s just a bit generic compared to the spectacular Alice Krige and the much-missed Wersching.

Janeway is planning to heist a warp coil from a nearby Borg sphere which scans reveal is “limping home”. To prepare for this, the Captain wants Seven to review her parents’ field notes, which they’ve had since Raven but Seven has never looked at them. This research is presented in that form of flashbacks to little Annika Hansen and her family, which is all a bit cloying. Practice runs on the Holodeck end in disaster when Holoborgs board the Holobridge – they’re twelve seconds over – and Seven has got the yips, which is concerning for Janeway. Seven is offered a delicious deal: come back to the collective and the Borg will spare Voyager. But her erratic behaviour means that Janeway wants to bench her, only relenting when Seven pleads to be reinstated. When they boost the gizmo, Seven announces that she’s staying behind and the other three barely escape in time. Janeway’s theft just became a rescue mission, at the behest of Naomi Wildman (and together with Little Annika that gives us a double dose of moppets this week, but neither is overly saccharine).

The guts of this story – in the less predictable, more powerfully emotional second half – is the battle for Seven’s soul onboard the Borg ship. Confronting Annika with her drone “Poppa” is a brilliantly grim moment, differentiating this from similar scenes with Data in the movie, and this sets up Voyager’s best recurring villain at least since Seska, and probably ever (it’s not a very hotly-contested title). No-one else gets anything much to do, which is a key reason why I can’t give this the full five stars, but it’s a lovely slice of Trek notwithstanding.

Janeway “always” fiddles with her comm badge which she’s about to drop a bombshell. Can’t say I’ve noticed.

DS9 S07E15 Badda-Bing Badda-Bang (4 out of 5 stars). I’ve observed already that DS9 staked out its ground as dealing with complex characters in richly detailed, highly-realistic situations, whereas over on Voyager you could expect something wilder, sillier and much broader. But DS9 also has its fair share of Ferengi-falling-over episodes and of course Vic Fontaine. The difference is that when Voyager goes for those ludicrous big swings, it plays them with a straight face. But DS9 plays its comedy episodes winking at the audience.

This time we’re on the Holosuite and that means something’s going wrong with it, natch. And these problems can’t be solved by unplugging it and plugging it back in again, natch natch. Instead, our flesh-and-blood characters have to play along with the story and do their de-bugging that way. In this case, mobsters have taken over Vic Fontaine’s casino and made it unnecessarily vulgar, which forces O’Brien and Bashir into immediate action.

Given that this intrusion was a part of the way the program was designed, what follows is essentially a televised escape room and so it should be very hard to get terribly invested. Once more, hologram characters can’t be backed up (even though in this same episode, O’Brien and Bashir talk about moving Vic into their Alamo program where he’d presumably be safe from anything which happened in Vegas) so they work their way through the puzzle designed by “Felix” with their usual easy camaraderie.

That this works at all is a huge testament to how strong this cast is, how careful the script is to keep us from asking too many tricky questions, and how much fun this all is. We don’t even bother with that old standby “the safety protocols are off”. It’s assumed that needing to restore Vic’s is high-stakes enough. Elsewhere, Sisko makes some excellent points about the dangers of fantasy depictions of the past, but his scene with Kasidy feels like a remnant of an earlier draft, written in a very different style from the freewheeling nonsense of the remaining forty-one minutes.

VOY S05E17 The Disease (2 out of 5 stars). Janeway has her sleeves rolled up and is preparing to jumpstart a Zagbar ship, while Kim has his trousers down and is preparing for a jump of his own. In this enlightened society, post-scarcity, post-want, embracing of multiple cultures, Kim still finds it necessary to hide his teenage knee-tremblers from his parents, I mean captain. Instead, he asks Seven for relationship advice for reasons which pass all understanding. When he starts lighting up like a horny Christmas tree, Seven marches him off to sickbay, refreshingly making it impossible for him to continue his feeble deception (but he won’t talk about chicks in front of another chick – this is guy talk). As usual, the patrician Federation sets an errant society to rights, and as usual, a love affair begins, deepens and ends all within forty-five minutes. Janeway notes that she wouldn’t read the rule book to Tom Paris, and this explains I suppose why all of this HR nonsense hasn’t ever come up before. The titular “disease” is Seven’s assessment of romantic love.

DS9 S07E16 Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (4 out of 5 stars). Section 31 has an assignment for Dr Bashir, and their theatrical flair extends to William Sadler’s Sloan sitting with steepled fingers in his bedroom for what might have been hours until he stirs and turns on the lights. Aligning themselves with Garak’s cynical outlook, they want the Doctor to use an upcoming conference as an opportunity to assess the Romulans, likely to be among the fittest of the victors when the Dominion War concludes. Sisko wants Bashir to go along with the plan, but for the purposes of finding out more about Section 31, which is a delightful set of wheels-within-wheels.

Once the conference is underway, Bashir’s best guess is that Sloan wants him to provide a diagnosis as cover for the assassination of a sabre-rattling Romulan, but it’s Starfleet’s Admiral Ross who ends up in sickbay – and Bashir who ends up drugged and tortured by the Romulans, along with Sloan, whom the Romulans believe made up this shit about there being a “Section 31”, and who is seemingly killed trying to escape. Alexander Siddig has never been better (until his hysterics at the end) and although it’s hard to take all of this double-dealing entirely seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed each successive rug-pull and revelation.

Adrienne Barbeau adds to the roster of impressive guest stars essaying ice-cold Romulans. Those white Insurrection dress uniforms show up again, looking just as sleek.


Trekaday #095: Counterpoint, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Prodigal Daughter, Latent Image, Bride of Chaotica!, The Emperor’s New Cloak, Gravity

Posted on July 5th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

VOY S05E10 Counterpoint (3.5 out of 5 stars). In what has apparently become a routine procedure, Voyager is submitting to an inspection by the Zagbars, smug bureaucrats who control this part of space. They are violently anti-telepath to the point where Janeway has to lie about Vulcans Tuvok and Vorik, as well as a couple of Betazoids, and she claims they are all dead. It transpires that, taking a leaf from Captain Scott’s book, they have been kept in the transporter pattern buffer, although there are some dicey moments when trying to bring them back. I wonder if Tuvok was moved to remember being Tuvix as the technology strained to rematerialise him.

As well as Voyager’s brain-bothering crew, there are also some fugitive Zoobles in the transporter suspension who are being persecuted by the Zagbars for their mind-reading capabilities. And there is extra cell damage every time they go in and out, which means they need to offload their refugee cargo as soon as possible as they can’t keep doing this. Complicating matters is the Zagbar inspector asking for asylum on Janeway’s ship. It’s hard to trust the smooth-talking ex-Inspector and he has learned to shield his thoughts against the skull-crackers. Destination for the Zoobles is a nearby wormhole, location uncertain and unpredictable, requiring the input of a pompous and easily-manipulatable wormhologist, underneath what looks like particularly uncomfortable makeup.

The parallel with Earthly refugees is plain to see, but it’s not quite clear what point the script is making beyond – here’s an idea: let’s have our heroes stick up for the underdog against the faceless authority figures. And it’s scarcely a surprise when the smooth-talking shifty liar turns out to have been lying to Janeway all along.

Neelix tells some moppets more stories about Flotter and Trevis, thankfully without a visit to the DayGlow Holodeck. If Janeway violated the Prime Directive by rescuing the telepaths, does that mean that the Zoobles are from a pre-Warp society? If so, this will have been a more than slightly bewildering experience for them. Voyager is down two more shuttles.

DS9 S07E10 It’s Only a Paper Moon (4 out of 5 stars). I should have known better. This series isn’t just unwilling to the reset button, it’s practically addicted to consequences. So, Nog losing a leg and needing a prosthetic is not just a gimmick to raise the stakes in a thrilling action sequence last time. It’s a real and painful reality for a fully-rounded character who is struggling to adjust not just to his new medical circumstances but how friends, colleagues, shipmates, professionals and holographic entertainers treat him. Callous doctors tell him that the pain is just in his head – but of course all pain is just in the head.

And speaking of things that were once just a gimmick, Vic Fontaine has a suite in the virtual hotel he entertains at – which presumably means that this Holosuite is now given over to running this program full-time. Nog moves in with him and they sit watching Jack Palance as Shane on a 1960s TV.

Just as this story in another medium might have involved Nog digging a ditch or bussing tables in a restaurant to learn the value of a hard day’s work, here Nog is put to work doing Vic’s books using a pencil and a ledger. But Ezri, not unreasonably, is concerned that hiding out in a pretend world might not be in Nog’s continuing best interests. My only concern with this heartfelt and charming episode is that – once again – I could have sworn that there was a war on, and too many episodes with no science fiction adventures, real jeopardy or proper high stakes will make me itchy. This is a series-best performance from Aron Eisenberg too.

DS9 S07E11 Prodigal Daughter (1.5 out of 5 stars). I wasn’t a huge fan of Honor Among Thieves, so I’ve no particular interest in Chief O’Brien tying up loose ends left from it. Nor am I fascinated in supplies of Gagh ordered by Jadzia and now being Ezri’s problem to dispose of (Worf is absent, one assumes dealing with the Son’a and the Ba’ku in the Briar Patch). Having Ezri meet up with her family, who keep talking about the person she used to be, and who don’t want to be psychoanalysed by her doesn’t help bring her into focus – given that her problem as a character is that she keeps talking about who she used to be and is a fairly useless counsellor. The rest of the episode largely rehashes the earlier Orion Syndicate story, so it was all I could do to keep watching this one.

VOY S05E11 Latent Image (4.5 out of 5 stars). After Neelix’s podcast, now the Doctor is starting an Instagram. My aversion to moppets remains, but Naomi is a very charming version of the type, and her Robert Picardo impression is spot-on. But it’s Harry Kim who provides the initial focus of the narrative. The Doc’s fancy-schmancy camera reveals evidence of recent neurosurgery which neither physician nor patient can remember having taken place. This is initially treated as an odd curio rather than a vital mystery in need of solving which contributes to a slightly business-as-usual feeling to the early portions of the episode. The mystery deepens though, when Seven attempts to help the Doctor run a diagnostic as they agreed – his memory of their conversation has been deleted.

Further digging reveals that great chunks of his memory have been erased, including everything to do with a particular ensign, a shuttle mission and a strange alien. This has obvious echoes of the TNG episode Clues (or Schisms with Riker’s insomnia), but the fact that the Doctor’s memories are being selectively erased right now gives the story added urgency. Even weirder, Janeway asks him to turn himself off while they investigate, but the sombre glances around the conference room suggest that there’s something they ain’t telling and the Doctor innovates a back-up of his program as a result of his own suspicions. Lo – it is Janeway who is monkeying with his memories, as the result of an unspecified “conflict” which took place eighteen months ago. Now, they have to lobotomise him again for his own good.

Seven, who wasn’t present last time around, throws herself on this ethical grenade and argues for the Doctor’s individuality and right to self-determination. Strong stuff for a primetime adventure show, and this show is at its best when Mulgrew and Ryan are going at each other, even if this doesn’t quite have the fireworks of some of their earlier confrontations.

The deleted events turn out to be the EMH having to choose between two critically injured patients and only saving one, which turns out to be something he can’t live with. Of course, this story only works because the physician who has to make the call is an artificial life form who can have his memories rewritten at will. But that also implies that a copy of his program could easily be made and two (or three or four or a dozen) EMHs could be operating simultaneously. That’s nit-picking though, and this story (and Robert Picardo) does a wonderful job of humanising what Janeway would have us believe is basically a talking microwave. The ending is satisfyingly messy and unresolved too – highly unusual for this series, and almost convincing me to bump this one up to the full five stars.

Why does the Doctor, who has perfect recall, need to take pictures to remember events?

VOY S05E12 Bride of Chaotica! (4 out of 5 stars). More monochrome Holodeck fun, riffing once more on the old Republic serials of the 1930s. This is Paris and Kim’s downtime. Playacting their way through a bonkers science fiction adventure seems like a busman’s holiday to me, but whatever you need to get through the day I guess. Their cos-play is interrupted by the appearance of a colourful wibbly thing hovering in the air, because – and stop me if you’ve heard this one – the Holodeck is malfunctioning.

Once more, the attention to detail in the fantasy sequences is impressive, with the energy weapons for example clearly modelled on the effects of the day, but given a slight 3D effect, and an ever-present melodramatic score runs underneath everything. “Souring the milk” (to quote Geordi La Forge), Torres explains that they have run aground on a subspace sandbar. Escape from the Holodeck is suspiciously easy for Paris and Kim who just transport out of there, but the program keeps running, and two GI looking dudes appear from out of the wibbly things. Rather delightfully, the visitors are keen to contact “other photonic life forms”, in other words, they’re more interested in the Holodeck characters and not at all in the organic crew. This misunderstanding reminds me of the equally delightful movie Galaxy Quest in which genuine aliens thought that a Star Trek style TV show was real life and hoped the crew of feckless actors would come to their rescue.

Because the GI dudes believe that Chaotica’s Army of Evil are real (and Paris and Kim are simulations), war has broken out on the Holodeck which can’t be shut down (for – reasons). To save the photonic aliens from their own poor decision-making and free the ship, Arachnia Queen of the Spider People will have to infiltrate the story, in the person of Captain Kathryn Janeway. Kate Mulgrew has an absolute blast and therefore so do I. It’s all a bit convoluted and it’s very, very silly, but damn I had a good time. Quite what the connection is between the visiting aliens, the inability to turn off the Holodeck, and the subspace sandbank is not ever made particularly clear.

Planet X looks just like the Mines of Mercury – sets were/are expensive. Voyager only has four working lavatories for a crew of 150 and lines are beginning to form.

DS9 S07E12 The Emperor’s New Cloak (1 out of 5 stars). Grand Nagus Zek is trapped in the Mirror Universe and it falls to Rom and Quark to mount a rescue (when Quark isn’t praying for some misfortune to befall Bashir before he can take his relationship with Ezri to the next level). Weirdly, it’s an un-joined Ezri Tigan who is despatched to bring Quark this news, and the price for the Nagus’s freedom: cloaking technology, which the Alliance seems to have forgotten it once possessed. Both Ferengi shenanigans and the Mirror Universe seem to me like overfished ponds at this stage, and I’ve no particular interest in seeing what happens if they get mashed together. It’s nice for Nicole de Boer that she gets to wear the Lilac Eyeshadow of Ultimate Evil at least once during her year on the show, but the rest of this is repetitive, sophomoric and dull. The cloaking device is invisible. Lol.

VOY S05E13 Gravity (4 out of 5 stars). Bratty flashback Tuvok verbally fences with a Vulcan master. It’s a strong scene, telling us more about his character than we’ve learned in the last two seasons, even if Joseph Ruskin is simply doing Vulcan Master 101. Later, on the planet Frank Herbert IV, a Voyager shuttle crash lands and Paris can’t communicate with the lone inhabitant he encounters. As well as our fairly human-looking Fremen, there are some other aliens with bumpier heads and – therefore! – nastier attitudes.

Paris and Tuvok seem like a pretty unpromising pairing. Just about alike enough to make a good team, not opposing enough to make for strong drama. The teaser tells me this will be a Tuvok story, but I can’t initially see anything likely to challenge him overmuch, not even the lack of a Babelfish. Elevating this somewhat is Lori Petty as the (now pigeon English-speaking) Noss. Tank Girl should have made her a huge star, but it wasn’t to be, but it’s always a pleasure to see her crop up in other shows.

The plot is that Tuvok fancies Tank Girl and worries it makes him less of a Vulcan to do so – which is potent, and Tim Russ sells it well. I’m just still annoyed by the simplistic pretty-young-woman-is-nice-and-pretty and horrible-monsters-are-ugly-and-aggressive. The time dilation storyline is a nice idea, but I know this show and I know they aren’t going to age up Paris and Tuvok by any meaningful amount and not reset it. But, remarkably, Tank Girl isn’t required to sacrifice herself so Tuvok can live, which adds a certain complexity to the ending, and I’m definitely grateful to dig into Tuvok’s character a bit more. I just wish the rest of the story had been de-cluttered a bit.

Trekaday #093: The Siege of AR-558, Timeless, Covenant, Infinite Regress, Nothing Human, Thirty Days

Posted on June 27th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S07E08 The Siege of AR-558 (4.5 out of 5 stars). God help me, I’m even getting to enjoy Vic Fontaine’s appearances. That doesn’t extend to Rom’s mangling of old standards, and for a moment there when Vic was talking about hiring a comic I feared Joe Piscopo was going to make a return appearance. Speaking of Ferengi, Quark is onboard the Defiant, having been sent on a fact-finding mission to the front lines by Zek.

Sisko beams down at the head of the away team with supplies for some pretty desperate and demoralised Federation troops, defending a captured Dominion communications array. Even by the usual gloomy standards of this show, the tales of the remaining soldiers are pretty grim, but never melodramatic. Of particular note is Bill Mumy as engineer Kellin. A veteran of both Lost in Space and Babylon 5, he jumped at the chance to do a part with no prosthetic makeup, having suffered for years as Minbari ambassador Lennier.

I don’t really buy Quark’s reason for being there, but his take on humans is always fascinating, and Nog has his own perspective as a Starfleet officer. Sisko takes charge of what remains of the battalion but they’re quickly outwitted by the Jem’Hadar who use holograms to pinpoint the enemy position without risking their own lives. Behr and Beimler’s typically tough script piles on the suspense and sacrifice but keeps the focus where it should be: on the attitudes, choices, fears and beliefs of the characters, not on meaningless action and Boy’s Own heroics. And yes, sure, this is something of a collection of doughty war-is-hell cliches but they’re cliches because they work and they feel fresh reflected through these very specific and familiar characters.

The exception is New Formula Dax who still isn’t clicking. Every time she’s on screen, she simply repeats the same lines about not being Jadzia or Curzon or Tobin. Let’s find out who Ezri is – and soon because there aren’t all that many episodes left. Her momentary qualm about using the enemy’s weapons against them is something, but I need more.

VOY S05E06 Timeless (4 out of 5 stars). Voyager’s 100th episode and the title is a bit of a warning. Voyager’s predilection for time travel shenanigans often ends up with stories that descend into meaningless gibberish. That said, some of the episodes of this show that I have enjoyed the most have been the ones that have taken really big swings, so let’s at least give this one a chance. Exploring on a desolate, snowy planet (decently realised in the studio), two fur-clad figures uncover the frozen form of a certain USS Voyager, which as attention-grabbing teasers go, certainly does the business.

Seeing these familiar corridors iced-over as Chakotay and Kim (for it is they) explore is atmospheric and creepy. They gradually coax the ship back into life while crawling past the frozen bodies of fallen comrades – including Janeway. But it’s Seven of Nine they’re really after (natch) and the Doctor. They are – dramatic pause – here to change history.

That history starts with the christening of the quantum slipstream drive, which Torres and her team have been developing and which should get them home. But Paris is anxious that they’ve built a lemon – his simulations show that the journey will end with them skipping out of the slipstream and destroying the ship. Quite why no-one else has come to the same conclusion is not clear. The solution is to have a shuttle ride ahead of Voyager but the piloting will be extremely difficult. Thus, it has to be Starfleet’s best pilot, Tom Paris who… takes a back seat while Jr Ensign Kim is given the task of steering the life-saving craft on his own.

Back in the main timeline, it turns out that Paris and Kim made it home fifteen years ago and have been looking for Voyager ever since – Kim blaming himself for consigning his ship and all its crew to this frozen grave. The Doctor is put to work hacking up Seven’s corpse for parts, one of which they will use to send a message back in time. The character work here is supposed to be between Chakotay and his new squeeze Tessa Ormond, who agrees to go ahead with the plan, even if it means erasing their relationship. As usual, this would work better with almost anyone other than Chakotay, but it still works, and works very well indeed, on a science fiction adventure level.

Director LeVar Burton gives himself a cameo, pursuing the renegade Chakotay and Kim. Drunk Seven is absolutely delightful.

DS9 S07E09 Covenant (3.5 out of 5 stars). Life onboard DS9 seems rather relaxed considering the conflict raging nearby. So relaxed that an old friend of Kira’s has come to call, but the gee-gaw he’s brought her as a gift turns out to be a transponder which takes her to Empok Nor, at the behest of the Pah-wraith sect led by none other than Gul Dukat, whose descent into demented one-note villainy continues unabated, although Marc Alaimo’s class still shines through. Kira’s old teacher attempts to prove that their death-cult is benign, which is arguably more interesting than tying her to the railway tracks, but makes the early going a little light on drama, except for some insults hurled at the Cardassian.

Maddeningly, when she manages to finagle a gun and point it at Dukat, his disciples form a Bajoran shield in front of him – Dukat odiously whispering “Now do you see how much they love me,” as she lies defeated on the floor. In rather a soapy turn, when a Bajoran acolyte gives birth, the infant looks Cardassian, which Dukat explains away as a Pah-wraith miracle. Apparently there’s no ultrasound in the 24th century.

More miracles follow as Dukat stages an airlock malfunction and the mother almost asphyxiates – but Kira gets to her just in time. It’s a curious treatment of religion. Most stories along these lines present the charismatic cult-leader as one making up stories to tell his followers to build his personal power, often at the expense of his followers. So it is here, but the difference is that we know the Pah-wraiths are real, and so we know that at least some of what Dukat claims is true. However, there are a lot of moving parts here and it strains credulity slightly that Dukat, who must have suspected that the child was his, would wait until the birth was about to occur before summoning Kira to watch what happened next. Anyway, Dukat starts doling out the Cardassian Kool-aid, but he does at least arrange for Kira to go home first. And her method to unmask his villainy is satisfyingly clever.

VOY S05E07 Infinite Regress (4.5 out of 5 stars). Bad dreams. Borg bad dreams. In a new, bright blue, spandex bodysuit, Seven stalks the corridors like a feral predator, scattering fruit and veg from the mess hall in her wake. It’s a wordless teaser and very effective. Next morning, they come across remnants of a Borg cube, which they elect to navigate around. The youngest member of the crew, in the appealing person of Scarlett Pomers, introduced in the dreadful Once Upon A Time, looks like she’s going to be a part of the regular cast. Pairing her with Seven is more promising than with Neelix (Seven makes most things in this show better) but my general opposition to moppets remains.

Suddenly, Seven becomes childish and playful. This is just Jeri Ryan acting “normal” but like Spock laughing in This Side of Paradise, it’s weirdly shocking and transgressive in context. The mask which comes back down when she returns to her usual self is a remarkable piece of acting – almost as good as when Christopher Reeve shifts from Clark Kent to Superman just by altering how he holds himself. Nifty effects here too, when Jeri Ryan sees her Klingon reflection in one of Voyager’s shiny consoles.

The cause of all this is a bit of Borg tech which has latched on to Seven, and – for somewhat spurious reasons – she needs to beam it onboard and deactivate it rather than moving away from it, disconnecting from it, or just blowing it up. It’s quite a nifty bit of design work which towers over the cast in rather a dramatic way. And it’s suffering from Borg flu – an anti-technology virus which is eating away at it.

This isn’t really about anything and we get the usual torrent of technobabble from ridiculous looking guest aliens. But making it Tuvok who has to pull Seven back is a great choice, and makes the solution about people and feelings rather than blinking devices and exotic fictional particles. I could have done without the simultaneous space battle which feels like a distraction, and makes Tuvok’s actions less central. However, this is really all about the Jeri Ryan Variety Hour – and she’s absolutely amazing: funny, shocking, surprising and even touching as Seven finds the confusion in her mind more than she can bear. Oddly, the Doctor announces that her mental pattern has been irretrievably lost as we go into an act break, but it just comes back when convenient, without further ceremony.

VOY S05E08 Nothing Human (2.5 out of 5 stars). In rather a cliché sequence, the Doctor is boring the com badges off everyone with his self aggrandising slide show. An energy wave in space aggressively beams a podcast at them. Rather than unsubscribing, Janeway follows the ion trail back to its source where they find an injured creature which latches on to Torres and fuses with her body. The sight of the five foot latex woodlouse clinging on to Roxann Dawson’s prone form is penny dreadful stuff. Rather than downloading the necessary information into his database, the Doctor and Kim waste endless time constructing a Cardassian consultant on the Holodeck, which is a pretty feeble excuse for adding a popular Alpha Quadrant species to the episode.

However, as they battle to save Torres’s life, it becomes apparent that their new holographic guest is a war criminal and the data they are relying on is the product of horrific Mengele-style experiments. So, this is a Deep Space Nine plot about ethical grey areas, no-win situations and general misery; but dressed up in bonkers Voyager clothes in which the lines between hologram, person, history book and empirical results are cheerfully blurred in a jumble of technobabble. And the bonkers hologram nonsense undercuts all of the impassioned emoting which would mean so much more if the real man was actually present. On the other hand, Paris and Torres’s relationship feels a bit realer here than it has for some time.

I also share the Doctor’s incredulity. If what Moset did is common knowledge to the point where a random Bajoran knows his bleak history in detail, then there would surely be at least some mention of these facts in official Federation databanks.

VOY S05E09 Thirty Days (2 out of 5 stars). The problem with this being such a concept-forward, characters-later show is that it makes everything else seem thin. Sticking Tom Paris in the brig is a fine idea, but Voyager isn’t concerned about the welfare of prisoners, so it’s thirty days in solitary, which is tantamount to torture. And while I’d hope that we’d see a little more of the rebellious cocksure character we met in the pilot, this set-up suggests further neutering more than anything else. He gets busted down to Ensign too, so there is some rank-mobility on this ship, but that doesn’t mean Harry Kim should get his hopes up. It turns out to be the kind of solitary confinement which comes with hot-and-cold running visitors, notably Neelix who brings him his rations and a Dictaphone, the Doctor who regularly checks up on him, Kim who gives him a cuddle when he has nightmares, and so on.

Opening with Paris’s incarceration is partly an excuse to tell the story backwards, another kind of conceptual flourish which has the same problem of adding cleverness in the hope that we won’t feel the absence of texture and emotional complexity. But a bad story doesn’t become a good one when you tell it out of order. And the story we flash back to is pretty dull, with easily-achieved escapes from death, tiresome planetary surveys, and mundane alien gewgaws.

We finally meet the much-heralded Delaney sisters, cos-playing as evil villains in Harry and Tom’s Captain Proton serial. Torres’s idea of a “dinner date” is to meet in her quarters at seven in the morning.

Trekaday #092: Chrysalis, Extreme Risk, Treachery Faith, and the Great River, In the Flesh, Once More Unto the Breach, Once Upon a Time

Posted on June 21st, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S07E05 Chrysalis (2 out of 5 stars). In something of a regressive move, once socially-awkward Dr Julian Bashir who found it hard to make friends, who developed into a much more confident, likeable self-aware character, begins this show acting awkwardly in social situations and finding it hard to make friends. The bad-tempered admiral who summons him to sickbay at 3:00am turns out to be one of the four McMurphys who told Starfleet to surrender to the Dominion last year. Now they want Bashir’s help to treat silent Sarina who is nearly catatonic. Sisko, for whom rules are very often little more than vague guidelines, gives him a slightly hypocritical tongue-lashing about how many rules his friends have broken.

Like a sports movie (see last episode) the contours of these pushing-the-frontiers-of-medical-science stories are pretty easy to track: the intractable problem, the pain of failure, the sudden breakthrough, the glow of optimism, the unforeseen side-effects, oops we’re back where we started, and gosh maybe we should never have tried to play god. And to be fair, this doesn’t stick rigidly to that outline, but nor does it develop it in a very exciting way.

The delight that the other three mutants take in being reunited with her is suitably heart-warming (although the barber shop segment does go on a bit – Miles, I sympathise). But we spend altogether too long with Sarina just enjoying her new life and nothing else very interesting happening – good or bad. And then the twist is that Bashir and Sarina fall for each other, which means splitting up the gang of odd-balls so they can live together unethically ever after. Even on this All Consequences All The Time show, I find it hard to believe that Bashir and Sarina will be standing side-by-side come the end of the Dominion War in twenty or so episodes’ time. So, I still think the dead hand of the reset button will visit itself upon this story very shortly (regardless of the good doctor’s assertion that he isn’t going to give up on her, ever).

And, lo, it swiftly comes to pass, leaving me unmoved, a little bored, and feeling that the potential of these four returning characters has been somewhat squandered. I’m just pleased that Sarina got to leave the station still able to communicate, once free of Bashir’s overwhelming charisma.

VOY S05E03 Extreme Risk (2 out of 5 stars). Thrill-seeking B’Elanna Torres is doing some kind of HALO jump on an alien planet – which turns out to be nothing more than a Holodeck adventure. One could pick holes in both Holodeck technology and voice communication on these shows for a long time, but it did strike me that the Voyager computer needs extremely fine situational awareness to tell the difference between “Hologram computer in this simulation, disengage the safety protocols of the imaginary shuttle,” and “Actual computer running this simulation, disengage the safety protocols on the actual Holodeck.” My Alexa can’t tell the different between my “bar lights” and my “mirror lights” half the time.

And you’d think being on this ship would be excitement enough given all the local skirmishes, time holes, scavenging invaders, spatial anomalies and whatnot which they regularly encounter. But looking at the early running of this episode, I can see her point. We’ve sent out a probe. Okay, sure. The badguys from a few stories ago want it. Fine. We’ve hidden it in a gas giant. Snore. Anyway, cometh the hour, cometh Voyager’s new super-duper shuttlecraft the Delta Flyer. This is an all-hands-on-deck project (where “all hands” means “everyone with their name in the main titles”) but the ship’s chief engineer acts super checked out all the time and yet nobody, not even her boyfriend, calls her on her bratty behaviour for seemingly forever. At one point, she becomes so distressed and irrational that she decides gossiping with Neelix is the only solution.

When her self-destructive behaviour comes to light, Janeway is not so much therapist and friend as unfeeling supervisor and intolerant parent, reading her diary without her permission (and getting others to do the same). Chakotay’s version of tough love is more successful (because clinical depression can generally be cured with a quick chat) and we get back to fending off our bizarrely aggressive neighbours who are hoping to win the Nifty New Shuttle Race. The actual solution to her case of Universumsschmerz turns out to be working longer hours – the American Dream writ large. Any episode giving Roxann Dawson more to do is fine by me, but this feels thin and patronising, and the race to recover the probe doesn’t excite me at all.

Talaxians also present food on silver platters, it seems. Or Neelix picks up idioms very quickly.

DS9 S07E06 Treachery, Faith, and the Great River (4 out of 5 stars). Turns out that there are some advantages to having a Changeling as a boyfriend. The scene of Odo rubbing Kira’s back makes me think things about their sex life that I can’t unthink. Yikes. He’s next summoned to meet a high-ranking Cardassian who turns out to be a defecting Weyoun. Naturally, I don’t trust this story for a second, and equally naturally neither does Weyoun. Love may have softened him (if you see what I mean) but it hasn’t stopped him from being cautious.

You’ll remember that the Vorta are a clone race, thus here the versatile Jeffrey Combs plays two Weyouns (six and seven – five died in a transporter accident). And now, Damar and Seven are faced with a terrible decision. Allow Six to defect and tell the Federation everything he knows, or destroy the runabout with him and Odo on it and murder what to the Vorta is a god.

Salome Jens returns as TFC and Seven has to start hastily covering his tracks. But TFC is also suffering from a debilitating and fatal sickness, which manifests itself as dry cracks across her face and hands. This malady is affecting the whole of the Great Link – every Changeling except Odo. Six’s vision is for Odo to assume the leadership of the Dominion when he becomes the last surviving Changeling. This is marvellous stuff: complex, specific, engaging and detailed, and played by two magnificent actors.

In a tedious Nog/O’Brien sub-plot, the Ferengi teaches the Chief the subtle art of queue-jumping and deal-making. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want this stupid B-plot to be part of this otherwise excellent episode.

VOY S05E04 In the Flesh (5 out of 5 stars). In what we presume to be a flashback, we open with Chakotay snooping around Federation headquarters on Earth (everyone in the old uniforms). I wonder if he’ll bump into Nicholas Locarno? He does bump into Ray Walston’s Boothby the gardener. Trust Voyager to kick us off with more questions than answers. We don’t have to wait too long before some clarity emerges. This isn’t a flashback at all, it’s an alien training camp – a delicious concept.

They’re able to bundle one of the imposters onto Voyager, but he offs himself under interrogation. He’s acting so hard, the zipper on his uniform is visible. The Doctor unmasks him, and it turns out they’re the Gigertrons. Ever the canny operator, Janeway gently probes Chakotay to make sure he is who he says he is. She ends up having the entire crew screened. Latest stats give us a total ship’s complement of 128 (including the Doctor). That’s down quite a few from the 155 we had in The 37s.

Creeping around undercover is always good fun and Chakotay’s attempts to fit in/sow seeds of distrust/get his end away are suitably tense – and even if we do stray into “Commander, what is this thing the humans call love?” territory, well that adds a welcome touch of nostalgia. And it’s good thing that this is tightly plotted and well worked out because it centres Chakotay, who continues to bring nothing special to the party. This is balanced out by the ethical debates between Seven and Janeway, which although becoming familiar by now have yet to become routine or predictable. The “School Reunion” Cold War parable is brilliantly handled, and it just feels so Star Trek, so pure. The great exciting climax of the episode is a furious fire-fight avoided. Plus, the spokesperson for the Telephone Number Species is Ray Walston. That pushes this one over the top, even with Kim and Torres both largely MIA.

Chakotay’s holographic imaging device is even larger than a 1990s Polaroid camera. It’s impossible ever to accurately predict the future, but it does surprise me that designers imagined that a voice-controlled two-way radio could fit into an object about the size of an elaborate cuff-link but that a camera would be about as bulky as a loaf of bread. See also – they had the idea of iPads but couldn’t conceive that data could be sent from one device to another, so people hand over physical tablets instead of sending an email, and nobody has their own personal PADD.

There’s a long story behind Chakotay’s tattoo. See Season 1 for why he doesn’t tell it.

DS9 S07E07 Once More Unto the Breach (3 out of 5 stars). Oddly, the presence of a real war on their doorstep has not dimmed O’Brien and Bashir’s enthusiasm for re-enacting famous battles – although Worf seems to think that Davy Crockett is a legendary figure who may not have existed. And this is a Worf episode, alongside a returning John Colicos as fellow Klingon Kor, who frets that there’s no place in this violent universe for a tired old warrior. Hoping to die with honour, he wants a posting on the front line. Oddly, General Martok has no interested in sending a bewildered old captain out on one of his ships to pilot it to its destruction and so he tells Worf to get lost.

This is a combination of two things I tend not to like. Lots of Klingon honour rituals, and lots of telling stories about places we’ve never been and people we’ve never met. Regardless of the General’s wishes, Worf finds a ship for the old man, who is catching up with Dax, in whom he brings out some of the old Jadzia swagger. Quite why this has to be Martok’s ship isn’t at all clear – to me or to Martok’s fussy aide-de-camp.

In the heat of the battle, Kor rapidly gets confused, imagining that he is fighting the Federation, and Worf comes to regret putting him in that position. Even Martok feels sorry for him. Naturally, he comes good in the end, and he has the opportunity to blow himself up for a purpose, instead of because he’s forgotten which button is which. This whole episode felt like it was running on rails, despite the best efforts of the cast – guest, recurring and regular.

Kira tries out her therapy style on Dax. I like it. I think it would work for me.

VOY S05E05 Once Upon a Time (1.5 out of 5 stars). The teaser establishes Ensign Wildman battling with a recalcitrant Delta Flyer on an away mission with Paris and Tuvok – and her daughter, little Naomi, having “fun” in a maddeningly chirpy Holodeck program, all day-glo costumes and trite life lessons. I can’t help but think that these two strands are going to be braided together in some ghastly way. Initially this just takes the form of Neelix distracting Naomi while her mum is facing dangers unknown. Out of contact with Voyager, the Flyer crash-lands and Wildman is critically injured, but Naomi and Neelix are still pottering around the ship and burning up Holodeck power. Naomi’s fun and games with Neelix are of zero interest, the Holodeck story is of less than zero interest and the grown-up story only gets about 15 minutes of screen time, and feels over-familiar at best.

Trekaday #091: Image in the Sand, Shadows and Symbols, Afterimage, Night, Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Drone

Posted on June 15th, 2023 in Culture, Uncategorized | No Comments »

DS9 S07E01 Image in the Sand (3.5 out of 5 stars). In some ways, it’s convenient that it was Terry Farrell who quit. Probably only Odo and Worf were genuinely irreplaceable. Losing Sisko would have been tough, but Kira could have stepped up to run the station. We could have got a new doctor, Rom could have taken over the bar, O’Brien and Kira we could have worked around. Obviously, Deep Space Nine works without Worf, but his connection back to 1987 is difficult to replace. And having a Changeling on the station was obviously needed for the final stages of the Dominion War to have personal as well as Galactic stakes.

But the nifty thing about Dax is that, just as Curzon gave way to Jadzia, so Jadzia can give way to Ezri, and we can have a whole new angle on this interesting bit of science fiction biology. It’s just a shame that it curtails the Worf/Jadzia relationship so decisively. Nicole de Boer doesn’t appear until the episode’s end (which seems tactful) so we’ll discuss her next time.

In the inter-season gap, various things have changed. Major Kira is now Colonel Kira, and she has a new all-business hairdo. She’s in charge of the station in Sisko’s continuing absence (and she calls Admiral Ross “Bill” now). The invasion of Cardassia has ground to a halt (according to Worf, who is drowning his sorrows in Vic Fontaine songs). Sisko is back on Earth, seeing visions of a woman’s face peeking out of some sand dunes, and she turns out to be a figure from his dad’s past.

It’s a slow-burn, this episode, rather reminiscent of TNG’s excellent Family, all people talking miserably in rooms, rather than the epic space battles we were treated to at the end of the last season. It’s almost a relief when a creepy guy in a red hood slices Sisko’s belly open. But the rich characters make a check-in episode like this worthwhile, even if it doesn’t start us off with a bang.

DS9 S07E02 Shadows and Symbols (4 out of 5 stars). There’s no “Part II” caption, but this continues nearly seamlessly from where Image in the Sand left off, and here’s where we meet Ezri for the first time, learn her backstory and start deciding whether we like her or not. Well, she’s no Terry Farrell, but the producers have clearly decided to head in a very different direction. If Jadzia was an old head on young shoulders, Ezri is a blur of personalities, still coming to terms with fundamental facts about her biology, with none of the support that was offered to her predecessors. She turns to Sisko for help, and you can see immediately how much it helps him to have someone to help. So, off they go together, to seek the Wizard. I’m less impressed when she starts barfing on the runabout. It would be a shame to replace one of the most capable, experienced members of the team with a little girl character who’s nervous about everything and space in particular.

Quark volunteers to join Worf’s mission to get Jadzia into Sto’Vo’Cor. I confess I don’t entirely understand how this works, or if – as mentioned by other characters – whether Klingon Valhalla is going to be Jadzia’s idea of a good time. How does Worf risking his life guarantee someone else’s place in the afterlife? Of more interest to me is Kira negotiating to get those Romulan weapons off Bajor’s moon, even if it means setting up a blockade.

Dax is right, Sisko is getting stranger. And in a quite brilliant flourish, his story is partly told through the eyes of his 1950s alter-ego Benny Russell. This is very fine stuff, expertly melding mysticism, character drama, science fiction adventure and meta fiction in a very complex way – and the crosscutting between this and Kira’s brinkmanship adds tension to both strands. Only the Klingon story thread is a let-down, and even that has a strong ending. However, it can’t be denied that the chief function of this episode is to undo much of the exciting developments from the end of last year, which gives me a queasy feeling. Are we going to start yo-yo-ing back and forth instead of forging on to new situations? Meanwhile: “Worf, we have to talk.” Er, yes.

DS9 S07E03 Afterimage (3 out of 5 stars). Weird times for Ensign Ezri Dax who walks around the station, and even examines the Bajoran wormhole doom box where Jadzia met her end, and has clear memories of all these places despite never having been there before. As Kira says, it’s a lot to get used to. She also claims she isn’t staying on the station. We’ll see about that. When Worf appears over her shoulder at Quark’s, the Ferengi comments drily “I bet the two of you have a lot to talk about,” which is pretty soggy scriptwriting, as that’s almost exactly what Ezri said right to his face last episode. The Klingon’s initial fury at seeing Ezri is a powerful evocation of grief but risks making the proud Klingon seem petulant and immature.

Garak is being kept far too busy by Starfleet Intelligence to make silly costumes for O’Brien and Bashir. He’s also more tetchy than usual and eventually he suffers from a claustrophobic attack and – lo! – Ezri Dax is a counsellor-in-training and Sisko thinks she might be just what Garak needs. I still struggle to connect Nicole de Boer’s lisping lost-little-girl performance to the assured swagger which Terry Farrell brought to Jadzia. She’s appealing enough as a performer, but definitely a downgrade in terms of capability and, I fear, story possibilities. Her attempt to counsel Garak out of his claustrophobia by sharing stories about her space-sickness at first only ends up with Garak feeling claustrophobic and her feeling space-sick.

Of all people, it’s Julian Bashir who forms the strongest bond with the newly-promoted Lt Ezri Dax, who – somewhat inevitably – ends up as station counsellor. And that’s the job of this episode, which it does smoothly but rather unsurprisingly.

VOY S05E01 Night (4.5 out of 5 stars). The Republic serial opening with Kim as Flash Gordon and Paris as King of the Rocketmen (aka Captain Proton) is a supremely confident way to kick off the episode, and the series (as is the Doctor’s colourful intrusion into their monochrome fantasy). It’s certainly more fun that that dreary pool hall, the tiresome luau, or the only fitfully interesting Florentine workshop. In the real world, Voyager is trudging through eerily empty space with no stars, planets or ships to be seen. Another concept which feels both very Star Trek and uniquely Voyager, which is all to the good.

Taking the tedium of the featureless stretch hardest is Janeway, who has retired to her quarters, seemingly forever, leaving Chakotay to run the ship with his usual bland efficiency. Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky’s script likewise keeps Kate Mulgrew off screen for much of the early running as crew morale continues to plummet. When we do catch up with Janeway, she’s mired in introspection and self-doubt, re-living the decision she took in The Caretaker which put two crews in this dire situation.

When a sudden power drain hits the ship, just before the third act break, it’s almost a disappointment. But it’s on theme, as the featureless blackness of space earlier seen through the windows gives way to familiar rooms and corridors shrouded in darkness. And hiding in the darkness is an intruder of some kind. So this does end up as yet more Zagbars vs Zoobles, but it forces Janeway to confront the benefits and drawbacks of her leadership style in a “Captain my Captain” scene which teeters on the brink of cheese, but just – and I do mean just – manages to avoid toppling over. Overall, this is a very imaginative and effective season opener, Voyager setting out its stall as the flagship series, on the big network, and unencumbered by years of necessary continuity.

DS9 S07E04 Take Me Out to the Holosuite (3.5 out of 5 stars) Sisko greets the visiting Vulcan coldly. After waving their medals at each other, the rivals decide to settle their differences via a Holographic baseball game. I don’t share Ron Moore’s enthusiasm for the most American of sports, but I do like Sisko cutting corners, treating rules as guidelines and acting from the gut (just as much as I like seeing Picard following the book, finding loopholes instead of ignoring inconvenient statutes and articulating detailed reasons for his actions). It possibly hasn’t occurred to the grinning station commander as he beams at his senior staff that there isn’t one American human among them, but the Irishman, Anglo-Indian, Bajoran, Klingon, Trill and Ferengi agree to give it a try and begin studying up. It’s complex stuff, full of confusing and unfamiliar terminology. Thank goodness they aren’t playing cricket.

It’s nice seeing Ezri included as part of the crew without issue. Sure, it’s quick, but there are only so many episodes left and we spent much of the last two (and almost all of the last one) dealing with the fact that she was here and Jadzia wasn’t. If she’s going to be an outsider for much longer, it’s going to get repetitive. But the antics of watching the mismatched crew struggle to achieve any kind of competence, together with rum-te-tum music from David Bell to tell us how amusing it all is, does test my patience over this kind of length. I know sports movies and I know how they go. This one is fine, and it’s nice to see our characters as a gang of friends, but it’s not really what I’m here for.

After one brief establishing shot, Sisko elects to have the computer delete the holographic (and expensive) spectators for most of the rest of the match.

VOY S05E02 Drone (4 out of 5 stars). The Doctor and Seven of Nine are working together on a stellar surveying mission. Seven doesn’t understand why the Doctor is included and neither do I. It all goes tits-up and an emergency beam-out is required, which damages (and Borg-ifys) the Doctor’s mobile emitter. This is the kind of junk science which I have come to actively look forward to from this show. Maybe it’s a kind of Stockholm syndrome, but the drawback with a Serious Science Fiction Series like Deep Space Nine is that every so often, I catch myself looking at the absurdity of all these actors furiously emoting away in these ridiculous rubber heads and then the gravitas they’re going for just seems stupid. The beauty of Voyager is that it’s ridiculous all the time, by design.

Torres is trying to diagnose the emitter (when the Doctor isn’t hassling her for updates) and it Borgifys a passing red-shirt. This is a very nifty use of the creatures, as its shiny tendrils spread out through the science lab, like fronds of an alien man eating plant (see Doctor Who’s “The Seeds of Doom”, or for that matter Little Shop of Horrors).

The tendrils become a nursery and the nursery becomes an incubator and the product is a beefy Borg drone, which Janeway wants to keep around. Alas it summons other Borg, which leads to a lot of snooty-bang-bang action, followed by the Reset Button of Inevitable Tragedy. We’ve been here before of course, not just with Hugh Borg but also Data’s daughter, the broken changeling which Odo tried to nurse back to health and so on. But even if it’s easy to see the scaffolding, there is power here, not least because the performances of J Paul Boehmer as “One” and especially Jeri Ryan are so spectacular. Strong start for Season 5. Just in case you were confused, Drone is the episode with One in it and One is the episode I gave five stars to. Speaking of things being confusing, Torres gives the order to Paris “All stop. Keep our distance.”

Trekaday #090: Profit and Lace, One, Time’s Orphan, Hope and Fear, The Sound of Her Voice, Tears of the Prophets

Posted on June 9th, 2023 in Culture | No Comments »

DS9 S06E23 Profit and Lace (1 out of 5 stars). The title is a giveaway. This is going to be a comedy Quark episode, probably involving Brunt, Moogie and – if his schedule permits – Wallace Shawn. There are worse ways to spend an hour, but this is also an ocean which I think might have been overfished. We start with a libidinous Quark sleazing over his waitstaff, in another scene which feels like it’s dated very badly. And you ain’t seen nothing yet in that regard…

Luckily Vizzini’s diary could accommodate this filming, so we do get the Grand Nagus in this episode, as a surprising women’s libber allowing women on Ferenginar to wear clothes. This has led to a financial meltdown and now it’s up to Quark and chums to retake the planet. I can’t tell you how little invested I am in this storyline, and when Quark is forced to dress up as a female to take his mother’s place, it’s all I can do to keep watching. Even Henry Gibson can’t save this one. Poor Alexander Siddig had to direct in what I can only assume was the result of a very foolish wager on his behalf.

VOY S04E25 One (5 out of 5 stars). The Doctor tries to teach Seven how to make small talk – a perennial obsession among this crop of twenty-something mainly men who presumably are still trying to figure out how to talk to girls at parties. Having her bark questions at holograms of Kim and Torres and then not wait for the answer makes her seem far dumber than is necessary. Of more interest is the Giant Spooky Nebula which makes the bridge crew start keeling over and groaning in pain as soon as the ship ventures inside. Not just pain – horrible burns. “He’s dead,” announces Seven turning one poor sap over. “I could bring him back to life, as you know, but screw that guy.”

This is a knotty science fiction problem to be sure, but the Doctor’s solution creates far more problems than it solves: he wants to put everyone into stasis until they get through, with himself and Seven steering the ship. But, half a mo, if the ship can be steered by one hologram and one ex-Borg, then what do they need with all these other people? And if they had 150 stasis booths sitting idle, then why wasn’t this an option from day one? Sixty years of intergalactic travel will be far easier to stand if you’re in suspended animation. But again, why does a ship like Voyager have all of these stasis booths? And why have they never been used before now?

This calls to mind any number of other science fiction stories, including Ripley’s missing years in Aliens, or the misbegotten but not uninteresting Passengers. I’m fascinated to see whether the story will be: Janeway is brought round and uh-oh, look at what went down while you were snoozing; or the Doctor and Seven fly the ship on their own for a month and learn a thing or two. I’m hoping for the former, and I know this show like the big swings, but I’m kind of expecting the latter.

And lo, we get Seven’s daily routine, where she seems perfectly comfortable in her isolation, but discovers Paris keeled over in the turbolift – having suffered no ill effects. Wait, what? Isn’t the whole point of this procedure that nobody can be conscious without suffering from horrible burns? Rather than investigating this mystery, the Doctor suggests that Seven joins him on the Holodeck to continue her work on social skills – and when she declines, he makes it an order. But it doesn’t help her mental state in any way at all…

This is a mite frustrating. When it’s good, it’s very good – the middle third is brilliantly tense and exciting, the last third is a wonderful interrogation of Seven’s character, and we get the ship beaten up, which I always appreciate. But it’s hard to ignore the absurd contortions which the script goes through to get us to this point, which is why it’s hard for me to give it the full five stars. But the final moral dilemma is such a fantastic showcase of drama, plotting, acting, directing (writer Kenneth Biller at the helm) and character development, I’m going to overlook all of the bumpy plotting at the beginning, and am pleased to finally award five stars to Star Trek: Voyager.

Jeri Ryan is an amazing asset to this show. Much of this is thin and unconvincing on the page, but she’s such a talented performer, wrapping this part as tightly around her persona as her silly costume is wrapped around her frame, and Robert Picardo is always watchable, even if the Doctor isn’t as interesting as he was when he was still learning how to be a person. Again, his program can’t be, or isn’t being, backed up.

DS9 S06E24 Time’s Orphan (3 out of 5 stars). Hey, everyone. Keiko exists – and so does Molly who’s looking forward to going on a space picnic. The title of this one, plus the opening shots, kind of gives the premise away: some subset of Miles, Keiko, Molly and Kirayoshi will fall into a time hole and a moral dilemma will ensue. This kind of thing can work: see Children of Time for a wonderful example, but especially against the background of the Dominion War, it feels off-the-peg. And the script wastes no time in dropping Molly (natch) into a puddle of nineties computer graphics goo even before the opening titles.

Sending a strong signal that this is going to be the-gang-works-to-solve-a-science-problem story rather than O’Brien-must-suffer, the parents of the missing child are all business, with only the Chief’s frustrated cry of “bollocks” betraying any emotion at all. Even Keiko takes hours to show any worry or concern. When the, now teenage and feral, Molly is plucked back out of the temporal ooze, it is a strong moment, but despite what everyone says as they tend to her medical needs, I can’t help feeling that a reset button is in Girl Tarzan’s future.

It’s greatly to the credit of this show that we take our time rehabilitating her (when we aren’t cutting away to Worf playing Mr Mom with Yoshi) but the price we pay for that is that, again, Molly’s parents seem perfectly content with losing their child as long as they can imagine that she might be happy where she is. No wonder that the episode quickly finds a way to have its tragic sacrifice and eat its status quo too.

VOY S04E26 Hope and Fear (4.5 out of 5 stars). Intriguing but implausible – Seven’s assessment of her defeat at the hands of Janeway at some poorly-defined Holodeck sport. I continue to find these two characters, and Seven in particular, absolutely fascinating. Just imagine what this show might have been like with Seven on board from the beginning – maybe with the Borg as the reason for their being stranded in the Delta Quadrant instead of the boring Caretaker and his tedious array.

When the episode proper starts, Janeway is still burning the midnight gel packs to try and decode the communication from Starfleet which they received in Message in a Bottle. And in a third strand, unusual for a show which usually favours strong high concept episode premises, Neelix has made a linguistically-blessed friend and brought him on board the ship, and – aha! – maybe he can crack the code (when he isn’t slavering over Seven of Nine). Underneath all that latex is Ray Wise from off of Twin Peaks and RoboCop.

The message guides them to a Starfleet vessel, suggesting a way home. I love the design of the bridge on the USS Dauntless. It’s rare to see such care and attention to detail for a one-episode set (even though it’s the end of the season, this isn’t the first part of a two-parter). Nice model too (digital I expect). It comes equipped with a quantum slipstream drive – and a rather frisky autopilot which threatens to send home only the three-person away team.

This is all good stuff, but if you aren’t feeling like Charlie Brown kicking the football by now, then I don’t know which show you’ve been watching. Thankfully, Janeway’s suspicions are up too which helps me feel a bit less of a sucker. The prospect of returning the ship to Earth strikes different characters in different ways. But the one who we get the strongest reaction from is also the strongest character – Seven, who tells Janeway flat out that she doesn’t want to be like her and won’t be coming on the last leg of the journey. It’s a compelling scene, given time to breathe, and brought to life by two performers at the absolute peak of their powers.

And there’s a savagely ironic twist coming, because once they uncover their Brainbox friend’s deception, he attempts to kidnap Janeway and Seven and drop them off in the middle of Borg space – the very Borg space which Janeway safeguarded in Scorpion and the very Borg space to which Seven was contemplating returning to. The rest of the crew blandly attempt a rescue in ways which don’t force any of them to confront any awkward truths about themselves, but Seven and Janeway’s material is worth the price of admission alone.

DS9 S06E25 The Sound of Her Voice (3.5 out of 5 stars). With all the time spent recently on Pah-wraith possession, Ferengi cross-dressing, school plays, and toppling through time holes, you might have been forgiven for forgetting that the Alpha Quadrant is riven by war and that Deep Space Nine is a station of major strategic importance. The Defiant picks up a distress call from a stranded Starfleet officer, but they’re six days away. This is the DS9 MO of conversations-on-the-journey taken to its logical conclusion, as the whole episode is just Sisko and crew trying to reach poor doomed Lisa Cusack in time (when Quark and Odo aren’t indulging in would-be amusing “hijinks” of course).

Weirdly, I have clear memories of a chilling episode of Steven Moffat’s Press Gang, based on a similar premise. Spike is buried in a building collapse, and is able to talk to a girl similarly buried. She sounds close, so he’s optimistic then when he’s saved, she will be okay too. But horribly, it turns out that her voice was making its way to him through a long pipe and she is quite out of reach of the rescue team. “It’s a pity you’re late guys. You missed one hell of a nice girl,” he tells the paramedics, having heard her expire. (S02E02 “The Rest of My Life”, 22 March 1990.)

Lisa’s chipper demeanour again signals that she’s not long for this world, but her other purpose is to bounce off our regulars and give each of them a chance to explore their own attitudes to life, love, the war and duty. It’s not pulse-pounding excitement but it’s absorbing character stuff of the kind that only this show can do. When they arrive at the planet, the latest in a long line of exotic radiations makes beaming impossible, so a shuttlepod is called-for. The crash-site is impressively rendered but at first there’s no sign of cheerful Lisa. Until there is – a long-dead skeleton. They’re three-years late and the exotic radiation messed with time – a detail which oddly didn’t come to light during any of their lengthy chats. They bury her on the station, apparently without contacting any of their family. An odd episode, tonally very uncertain, but with strong material especially for Bashir, so often under-served on this show.

We’re heading to the end of the season, so Jake and Kasidy show up, although there’s no sign of the other key supporting cast members: Garak, Martok, Weyoun, Dukat, Winn, Nog or Rom.

DS9 S06E26 Tears of the Prophets (3.5 out of 5 stars). A Bajorn festival of thanks has taken place despite the war and Odo is getting a tongue-lashing from Kira because he arrested a Vedek, like a ninny. Sisko is getting a commendation (the “Christopher Pike Medal of Honor”). It all feels positively valedictory, but the war is far from over, and Sisko has been chosen to lead an offensive (finally), and mount an attack on the Dominion shipyards and munitions factories.

Definitely making this feel like a party is the list of names in the opening credits. Even Vic Fontaine is in this one. And Dax keeps talking happily about the future, but I’ve known what’s coming for some time (although I didn’t know the details). But at the top of the episode it’s Sisko that Dukat has in his sights and the Wormhole Aliens aka the Prophets. And those same Prophets sound like they are warning the Captain not to leave Deep Space Nine, on the eve of the planned attack.

That might have been good advice as Dukat manages to summon a pah-wraith from an old Bajoran geegaw and when Dax prays to the Prophets on the station, Dukat appears and cuts her down with a blast of orange pixels. It’s virtually a Tasha Yar end to a great character. It adds to the apocalyptic nature of the episode, but it doesn’t have any meaning or poetry to it. I’ll talk more about Terry Farrell’s exit in my season round-up. More notable for this episode is the fact that Dukat’s actions have sealed the wormhole.

Some nifty space battles ensue with the Klingon attack wing crippled by Jem’Hadar suicide runs, while the Cardassians race to get their fancy new defense grid up-and-running. It doesn’t survive for long either. The Federation/Klingon/Romulan victory is thus short-lived and sour. The Dominion is crippled, cut off from home and on the run. But Bajor is cut off from the Prophets (as is Sisko) and Jadzia Dax is dead.

There’s something vaguely synthetic about this episode. It feels bolted together, rather than emerging organically from the story threads that were already present. The attack on Cardassia, the easily-destroyed weapons platform, the sudden return of Dukat, the seeming end of the wormhole and the death of Dax all feel jarring and ill-fitting. Maybe that reflects the fact that deaths (especially in war) do come unexpectedly, but that fact alone doesn’t make this a television masterpiece. There’s lots of good stuff here, but it’s a shame that more care wasn’t taken over the fit and finish.

Peldor joi to you too.

Deep Space Nine Season 6 wrap-up

  • We end another season with a loss. Last year ended with losing the station. This year we lose the wormhole and Jadzia. She does at least get a goodbye with Worf, which is suitably heartbreaking. And Sisko leaves, taking his baseball.
  • Mid-run cast changes we’ve come to expect. Season 3 of TNG saw the return of Dr Crusher, and Wesley was phased out during Season 5. Deep Space Nine added Worf to its regular cast in Season 4, and Voyager also swapped Kes for Seven in its fourth year. But a cast change in the final season is unhelpful, removing a cast member with years of history and introducing a new one who will barely have time to establish themselves. And it does seem as if letting Terry Farrell leave was a goof. Not as big a goof as the similar situation which J Michael Straczynski found himself in with the final year of Babylon 5, as here there was actually time to write her out, whereas Claudia Christian just wasn’t there at the start of the final season, despite the enormity of what she’d gone through in the previous episode.
  • Why did she leave? Farrell was keen to accept the offer to star opposite Ted Danson on Becker and was convinced that a deal could be struck which would allow her to appear on both shows – probably by not appearing on every episode of Deep Space Nine’s final season. Deep Space Nine’s producers seemingly were incensed that anyone on their show would ever want to appear on anyone else’s show ever and insisted that Farrell was either in or she was out – her standard six-year contract having come to an end.
  • This was surprisingly bumpy. After a stellar run of episodes at the end of last year and the start of this one, during which I thought this was a show that could do no wrong, suddenly it turned into a very inconsistent viewing experience. Almost as soon as the gang was back on the station, it seemed as if a duff episode was every bit as likely as a classic for the ages. The Magnificent Ferengi aired next to Waltz. In the Pale Moonlight was followed by His Way. And the least said about Profit and Lace the better. Maybe Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who left at the end of Season 5, was the secret sauce that really made the show sing.
  • However, this was still the year that gave us Rocks and Shoals, Inquisition and the amazing Far Beyond the Stars, and any show which can give us that and In the Pale Moonlight in the same year must be doing something right.

Voyager Season 4 wrap-up

  • This is still not a show with the warm family feel of TNG, nor the commitment to gritty detail and long form storytelling of DS9. It’s frequently very silly, has at least three regular characters that are barely more than placeholders, and squanders promising story ideas with depressing regularity. And yet, there is something a bit more ineffably Star Trek-y about this show, which I don’t see in DS9, whether it’s in All Pain All The Time mode or operating in its Goofy To The Max style.
  • That TOS optimism and spirit of adventure has been preserved in this show, but it was so faltering in its early years that it wasn’t always possible to see it. Now, with a crew reshuffle and an all-time great addition to the cast, it’s gained a new confidence and even when it’s a swing and a miss, it’s still entertaining, which is more than I can say for those Ferengi-falling-over episodes which blight DS9.
  • Because, not only did we – finally! – get our first five star episodes in the atmospheric and claustrophobic One, this season also saw a year of Voyager shows get a higher average score than the simultaneous year of Deep Space Nine shows. That makes sense – Voyager is finding its feet as the older show is running out of gas – but it stilld surprised me. The numbers are very close, mind you. This year of Voyager shows averages 3.54 stars, compared to 3.31 for Deep Space Nine Season 6.
  • But this year belongs to Jeri Ryan and Seven of Nine. She’s an absolute super-star and the character she’s been given to play is endlessly fascinating. The franchise would be a far poorer place without her.
  • Meanwhile, Torres has had next to nothing all year, with even her romance with Paris providing very little. Tim Russ is always watchable as Tuvok but has not progressed at all as a character. Neelix has had a couple of good shows, and is otherwise generally kept in the background. Chakotay and Kim continue to be barely even personalities and even the Doctor has hit the ceiling of his development. For better or worse, this is the Janeway and Seven show now. Everyone else is along for the ride.