Saturday, June 30, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Atrea IV is home to Dr. Juliana Tainer, working with her terse Atrean husband Pran to reliquefy the magma core of their world. Because it's a Tuesday.

She introduces herself to Data: she was Doctor Soong's colleague and wife. Data's already met his father, brother, and grandfather, and now here's his mom. What's next for the foundling from the doomed planet? My votes are: hot sister and flying robot dogs... with capes.

Juliana never changed her name from O'Donnell to avoid her mother's wrath at a secret marriage to an old lunatic. She left Noonien in the jungles of Terlina, which Data reports as the place he died. The news affects her deeply. (Good thing Data doesn't mention Lore killed him, or how Data killed Lore. Could Aunt May's heart take it?)

When she hears about the loss of her grand-daughter Lal, she confesses that she and Noonien lost three prototypes before Lore. (Insert ominous sting music. In the context of the episode, 'lost' sounds like 'died', but later stories reveal it's more like 'lost' as in 'under couch cushions'.) Lore turned out cruel, and they had to de-activate him. She was against making Data, and was so terrified that #5 might turn out rotten that she forced Noonien to abandon him.  She has since tearfully regretted her choice to give him up. (Just not enough to pick up a communicator or mail a letter.)

Data picks up on something strange: Juliana blinks in the same programmable randomization as all Soong-type androids. And in a cave-in, proof arrives when, like Astar, a robot, she can put her arm back on. She was programmed to believe she was the original Juliana, and her external form offers no clues otherwise. She emits life signs to fool scanners, VISORs, and apparently Betazoid empaths. She even has an aging program, like Data's. (It's one of the least popular apps at the app store.)

There's a holographic Soong in her brain. He explains the biological Juliana was injured during the Crystalline Entity attack, and near death by the time they got to Terlina III. He built his most sophisticated android yet and used synaptic scan to make a copy of Juliana's mind. It worked so well that she eventually got dissatisfied and left him. (Somehow he got this message into her brain after she left him? Must have a wireless update feature.)  Soong programmed her with a long life and wanted her to die thinking she's human.

Data's friends support his difficult decision to leave her with that comfortable belief.

Better hope Soong does better work than Roger Corby did back in 'What Are Little Girls Made Of?'

"Inheritance" has some deeply illogical flaws, but works well emotionally. Still, I feel like Data tells his mom a terribly unnecessary lie for the sake of compassion. If the truth was out, Juliana wouldn't need to die, right? Why deny her the benefits of a lengthy android life? Also, nobody better tell Pran: the new husband's not an A.I. fan. If you tell your man: 'But I'm an android!' and his answer isn't to shrug and say 'Nobody's perfect'... maybe you're better off without him.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Second Sight

*** (3 stars out of 5)

It's the fourth anniversary of the Wolf 359 massacre (I told you Molly O'Brien couldn't be four yet) and the Sisko men are having trouble sleeping.

When all of a sudden, EUREKA! A woman appears. Fenna is a free spirit who catches Ben's eye but keeps vanishing. Ben is too smitten to describe the elusive woman effectively to Odo. 'She wore RED." he gushes. (Space-dark hair, skin the colour of Raktajino, and double-tipped Vulcanoid ears are a couple of details that might've helped the search. Odo might even have been able to ask lady cop Elisa Maza to assist him.)

Meanwhile Professor Gideon Seyetik, a terraformer without humility or common sense, is heading for Epsilon 119. It's a dead star and he intends to re-ignite it. For his personal reading lamp or something.

His starship is called Prometheus and probably wasn't built by Weyland Industries. Hopefully, science has come a long way since Dr. Marcus used protomatter to coalesce a sun and planet out of a nebula nine decades ago (for about a month). Seyetik paints giant murals and writes giant narcissistic autobiographies and he's on his ninth wife: Nidell from New Halana.

She's the buttoned-up spitting image of Fenna. And she says she's never met Ben before. Although a married woman wouldn't have stopped Curzon (so Jadzia claims), Ben is hesitant. When Fenna next appears, she kisses Sisko and disappears before his eyes.

She's a physical manifestation of pure energy with no cells or DNA. An illusion projected by the dreaming mind of the psychic Nidell. Gideon admits she's miserable with him but Halanans mate for life.

Seyetik solves his marital problems and mid-life crisis with a certain horrible flair: he sends his shuttle pod to kick-start the star without getting out first.

"Second Sight" it's the sci-fi version of stepping out on your marriage so I don't know how to respect it. Good drama, certainly, Salli Richardson is lovely, and it's nice to see Sisko caring about someone instead of brooding for the rest of his days. It also seems like Starfleet ships don't need captains anymore, just lieutenants reporting to suicidal madmen. (They probably ignored the posted warp speed limit, too!) Back to back with 'Force of Nature' it's noisy scientist explosion month here on Star Trek.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Force of Nature

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Spot continues to prove a hellacious kitten for everyone but Data. Her attacks on Riker and Worf I understood, they're dog and targ guys. But Geordi's had a cat before and by all accounts SHE is definitely the problem.  A problem with no solution.

In the category of much bigger problems with no solutions, the people of the Hekaras Corridor have scientific evidence that warp drive is ruining space.  Like repeatedly walking across the same stretch of carpet, warp drive is apparently wearing space out. Or maybe something else that makes sense.

Medical transport Fleming and a Ferengi ship had blow outs on this narrow highway thanks to some eco-terrorists leaving mines here. These, uh, 'scientists', I guess you'd call them, Rabal and Serova, have not been able to get the UFP Science Council to listen to them. If warp travel isn't stopped around here, a subspace rift may threaten life on Hekaras II. If warp travel IS stopped, Hekaras II will be effectively unreachable from anywhere interesting.

Serova blows herself up, causing the deadly rift, and thereby proving her theory. Uh, hooray?

Sadly, the Fleming is saved and the problem is temporarily glossed over by saying words that don't mean things.

The Federation Council imposes a warp 5 speed limit on all Starfleet vessels until a solution can be found. The Klingons agree to it, (they're famous for their willingness to relent and abstain) but will anyone else? Picard ponders what damage he might have done in all his years just trying to travel places and meet people.

"We still have time to make it better," Geordi hopes.

I guess Spot is the titular "Force of Nature". Not only a shape-shifter who changes breeds, Spot now changes gender. And seized the best bits of the episode for herself. She's clearly the villain of the piece, subject to the same vengeful rages as her murderous metal master.  And I think we've all learned a little something about the environment. At some point in our lives. (The three stars are for hearts in the right place. And because I really DO love kitties.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Necessary Evil

***** (5 stars out of 5)

If a Bajoran femme fatale has a big gaudy earring, is that like a human with a ruby-studded crucifix for a necklace? I guess I never wondered that before.

Odo never kept a log before Sisko insisted. From his perspective that's why humans invented more and more ways to store their journals and lists microscopically: "Otherwise their records would overrun all known civilization." To that end, his first entry is 'Everything's Under Control'. If only I could master Odo's brevity, my blog would just say 'Superlative Episode. Go hug your family.'

Rom is a much better thief and tech guy than Quark expected. With electronic skeleton key and magnacite drops to eat through duranium, the femme fatale's list of eight blackmailing names is theirs! Quark also receives a free trip to a coma courtesy of a Bajoran hit man, and a free ride on the anti-gravity gurney Bashir somehow got working now that Melora doesn't need it.

Sisko and Odo play good cop, gestapo cop with 'grief-stricken' Rom. But there was a time when Odo was the good cop, and "gestapo" was not mere tasteless hyperbole.

Ever wondered what Terok Nor was like back in 2365? Not a vacation spot.

Recently having shed himself of the Bajoran Center for Science, sullen young Odo is brought in as an investigator by the tyrant Dukat. Odo has been a neutral observer and resolver of disputes, and if the shifter finds the murderer of the station's chemist Vaatrik, Dukat won't have to 'solve' the problem by killing ten Bajorans at random. This is also how Dukat solves plumbing problems and long lines at the movies.

The widow Vaatrik (Quark's future femme fatale) fingers Kira (not like that!) for the deed. Sullen young Kira just lost a job in a replicator plant for hitting a supervisor who came on to her. Grilled by Colombodo, Kira says she's hoping to get a job at Quark's rather than wind up in the mines. Quark breaks that alibi pretty quickly. She didn't pay him enough for a spine that functions in front of Hitler Lizard. Kira confesses that she sabotaged Ore Processing for the underground... and since that's technically not his case, Odo lets her escape.

Back in the present, the truth comes out: Kira's confession back then was really her alibi. She did kill the collaborator Vaatrik. Was lying to Odo about it somehow worse than the crime itself? (Please put your responses in the form of a baked apple pie.)

"Necessary Evil" brings us Odo's nearly genetic devotion to justice, a closer look at Kira's misdeeds, and the recognition that under Dukat nobody was exactly doing the right thing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Planet Kesprytt III wants something unusual: associate membership in the Federation. But only half of them want to join that happy space clubhouse. The Kes are unified, but the Prytt nation are total shut-ins. So far, no Federation member has joined without having a single planet-wide government, like the one Earth formed in 2150. Yay, Earth! (I've been a fan of them from the start.)

The Prytt wear the purple body-stocking of the comic book mystery man, The Phantom. (Probably so they don't get cooties, rather than for fighting crime.) They catch Jean-Luc and Beverly, then hook their brain stems to psi-wave implants intended to reveal their true intentions. As you do.

The first meal they are delivered as prisoners is Tricorder with a side of Escape Route, from a Kes inside man in 30 minutes or you're not free.

Kes Ambassador Mauric works with Riker to find them, but a few minutes in his company is all it takes to demonstrate his rampant paranoia. Mauric makes Richard Nixon look like Jeff Spicoli.

Bev and Jean-Luc brave the fire swamps and R.O.U.S.'s while discovering the implants are starting to broadcast their thoughts to each other. This is remarkable technology! Beyond even the Federation! Borg-level stuff, in fact. You'd think Picard would be more on edge about it.

To walk even a few meters away from each other is to crumple up and ralph, so they're stuck with the mind-reading. Bev learns Picard appears more confident than he is, and he learns she's jam-packed with snark. They both loathe elaborate breakfasts. They both love firelight. And as for Jack...

Well, Jean-Luc has been infatuated with Beverly for 20 years, but couldn't say anything without betraying Jack or, eventually, Jack's memory.

"Attached" sort of almost pulls the trigger on a romance they've toyed with for seven years. A possibility that somehow never becomes quite possible. I'm a big softhearted softie from Softburg, so I always wanted it to work out for those two.

Additional: a little tinkering would now supply the Federation with thought transmission technology! Rather useful stuff, right? Whatever happened to it? Filed it away under 'psycotricorder' in creepy Warehouse 47, I guess.

Additional additional: I'm glad my wife returns from vacation today. Luckily, if she moves more than a few meters away I don't curl up and barf. Much.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rules of Acquisition

**** (4 stars out of 5)
When Odo orders lovable humanoid potato Morn to stop sleeping on the Promenade and go home, Morn's first stop is the bar. (Awesome.) But the bar's locked, because Dax is up all night beating Quark and his staff at gambling. Quark's staff loves Dax. (So to speak.)

Ferengi females, you see, never wear clothes, never talk back, and never play tongo. Perhaps unsurprisingly, male chauvinist Curzon Dax got along great with Ferengi. So does Jadzia, only she wins more.

New little waiter Pel brings the idea for sand peas, 'the Snack for perfect Dry Mouth', to the boss. Pel impresses Quark with knowledge of all 285 Rules of Acquisition plus commentaries. Including the 33rd Rule: "It never hurts to suck up to the boss".

And here comes Grand Nagus Zek now, for a conference with the Gamma Quadrant's belligerent Dosi people. In exchange for DS9's co-operation, he gives Bajor massive heaps of fertilizer. Zek spreads massive heaps of fertilizer wherever he goes.

Rom keeps firing Pel, and Quark keeps ignoring Rom in favor of the new guy. When Zek fobs the Dosi negotiations off on his underling, it's Pel who'll help Quark not screw up. Then Pel goes back to quarters, takes off the ears, and also her bulky jacket.

Zek bluntly bribes and propositions Kira, who does not share Dax's fandom of the Ferengi race. Dax rumbles Pel's crush on Quark easily, but was surprised to also uncover her secret gender: this is the first female Ferengi Dax ever met.

Zek's unreasonable demand for 100,000 vats of tulaberry wine makes the negotiations fail, and Pel and Quark chase the Dosi home to try again. In the hotel, Pel gets tipsy and does a little accidental lip-wrestling with the boss before they discover that business on any major level in the Gamma Quadrant will be business with the Dominion. Not lip-wrestling, though.

When Odo admits how important loyalty would be to him if he had relatives, Rom tosses Pel's room and discovers her synthetic lobes, trumpeting Pel's secret to his brother. Quark is too much a traditionalist to accept Pel's criminal reading and getting dressed lifestyle.

She angrily outs herself to the Nagus, and in a frenzy of mutual blackmailing the three of them avoid jail but Zek takes Quark's profits and Pel takes herself to Andorian space in search of opportunity.

"Rules of Acquisition" is a great Ferengi episode by Behr/Bader, if you like that sort of thing, which I obviously do. Pel never returns, but The Dominon turns out to be the punch-line that keeps on punching.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dark Page

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Did you ever wonder whether Lwaxana Troi ever did any actual work or was always just talking people's ears off at stuffy dinners?

Well, wonder no more. She's been hard at work teaching prospective Federation members, the Cairn, how to talk. They were entirely non-verbal, image telepaths only, before she breezed in and started setting them all up with her daughter.

If only Deanna would hit it off with strong, silent Maques, then immediately start making a sister for Hedril and a grand-baby for Lwaxana- all in one go! (Hedril is the future Mary Jane Watson, tiny Kirsten Dunst. Adorable!)

Magues expresses concern about the dark spot in Mrs. Troi's mind which she called 'privacy', a concept unknown to him. It's much worse than that, as anyone who knows Mrs. Troi is already aware she doesn't really recognize that concept, either. Deanna doesn't pick up on this.

Exhausted Lwaxana is having outbursts. She screams at Will 'If it wasn't for you, she'd be married by now!" And mere seconds after Deanna breezes 'She'll be fine', Lwaxana has fallen into a coma.

The mental dark spot is a heretofore unknown trauma. Deanna, with Maques' assistance in creating the imagery, pursues the dark place within her mother's metaconscious mind. While mentally calling out for help, another part of Lwaxana is also keeping her daughter away. A slavering wolf, a creepy version of Hedril, and angry Lwaxana herself try to drive prying Deanna out. The lucid dream also puts up distractions, like a vision of Deanna's kindly young father to sing to her. (Ian Troi's appearance here raises the question of where exactly Deanna picked up her Greek/Betazoid accent... if both her parents sounded American. Nanny? Tutors? Space Rosetta Stone?)

Picard and Troi discover a seven year-long deletion in Lwaxana's journal from a year after her marriage to Ian until Deanna's infancy. It turns out Hedril falling into the arboretum pond was too much like the accidental death of Lwaxana's first child, Kestra. Presumably difficult to sense without empathic powers, the little hybrid girl wandered off and drowned in a river while on a family picnic.

"Dark Page" certainly explains Lwaxana's obsessive overprotectiveness, while fudging timeline details here and there in some ways only nerds can't easily overlook. I'm O.K. with wonky stardates when the drama is well achieved.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Ensign Melora Pazlar, Space Cartographer, is the first Elaysian to join Starfleet from her low gravity world. Somehow Deep Space Nine is so terrible that anti-gravity doesn't work here. I think it must get too depressed or something.

Melora requires a wheelchair in Earth-brand gravity. But no special treatment! Also ramps and a romper room. O'Brien bumped his head a lot to make one. Melora's got the bumps too. Oh, sorry, that's just her face. But no special treatment!

Quark's trying to sell the one ring to rule them all, and 41 others besides. A man with a beak called Fallit Kot is eager to kill Quark, proving only that he's met Quark. Kot looks like Romulan Prison Fried Chicken, in fact, thanks to Quark he was SCARRED! SCARRED FOR LIFE!

Bashir and Melora begin courting (and court food poisoning) in the Klingon food court. Earthworms and peaches, looks like.

Julian tells her a sad tale from his youth, how at age ten he saw a girl die, and he found out later he could have saved her with herbs that were all around them. It inspired him start a career in tennis. Also, doctoring. He even shows her his bedside manner. Although in her room, it's probably more ceiling-side.

Now, not to be indelicate, but does this delicate hollow-boned young lady seem up to the rigours of intercourse? I'm just saying. Conversations with Julian can take a lot out of people.

Pondering aloud what future she might have with a human, Melora hears Dax's tale of a hydrogen breathing Lothra and an Oxygene who were together for 57 years, for only 40 minutes a day. Which is enough, perhaps. (You think they'd just wear gas masks, but then they'd be asking 'Are you my mummy?' instead of saying 'Who's Your Daddy?'

Bashir adapts a technique to strengthen Melora, but if she uses it she can never return to low gravity. Is the warm bum worth never visiting her family again?

Kot shoots a guy while robbing him, then shoots Melora as a hostage. She has enough of Julian's magic spinach in her muskels to clobber the giant chicken when Dax shuts off the runabout gravity.

"Melora" is the face in the misty light, footsteps you don't hear down the hall. That gal who floats on a summer night that you can never quite recall. She gave her very first kiss to you. That's Melora, but she's only a dream.'

I choose to believe that's the old standard the Klingon Chef is singing. But probably not.

Friday, June 22, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Deep in Data's subconscious brain, filthy ruffians are wrecking stuff. When Data asks them to stop, they wreck him. This was Data's 111th dream, and his first nightmare.

Geordi has a new Ensign Crusher! Which is to say, his cute new girl minion Tyler has a crush on him. La Forge quite wisely asks Data to not help him solve this little awkwardness.

Troi encourages our android pal not to be afraid of scary dreams, which often can contain important messages. Such as: when surly goons aren't cutting the cheese, they're cutting the cake.

Dirty dream scoundrels are cutting up a cake made from Counselor Troi, while Beverly drinks from bored Riker's head with a straw. Worf's enjoying some tasty Troi cheesecake, too. (Who wouldn't!) Next Data cuts the cake, despite Troi's screams of refusal.

Holodeck Freud seems to think there's something sexual about all this.  And speaking of impotence, the new warp drive won't start up.

Data sees a hissing mouth open up in Geordi's neck. Straw Head Riker tells Data to answer the ringing telephone inside his own chest. It's Freud on the line urging the mechanical man to 'kill, kill, kill, thrill, thrill, thrill.' And this time Data dreamed it while he was awake. They're lucky Freddy Krueger didn't get them.

Troi has Data temporarily shut his dream program down and take counselling. She's not very worried.

But she should have been! Data goes full Norman Bates' Mum: trying to cut the mouth out of Troi's shoulder and straw out of Riker's head. Worf takes Data's phaser away, and custody of his cat. (Have you ever noticed it's always the quiet loners with the kitten you have to watch out for? Soft kitty, warm kitty, stabby ball of fur...)

Unable to heal Troi completely, Bev discovers invisible leeches are devouring everyone. Data was unconsciously perceiving this. The crew pipe Data's dreams into the holodeck (because that's always super safe) and Picard and La Forge observe the dream for themselves. Suck on that, 'Inception'!

Data's high frequency shrieks drive out these beasties from Thanatos VII. Very disturbing. I mean, who'd name a planet THANATOS?

"Phantasms" da bomb, yo! It's a potent blend of horror and absurdity.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)

Anything that starts with Garak can't be all bad. Remember Garak? The only Cardie on an enclosed habitat full of Bajorans? The only tailor in a society blessed with clothing replicators? Well, he's just been bitten by a Cardassian kid raised as a Bajoran. I mean, really, if Garak sidled up behind me and put his hand gently on my shoulder, I might bite, too.

Many Cardassian war orphans were left on Bajor when Dukat organized the withdrawal. Bitey the Boy Bajoran is called Rugal, who becomes the centre of a controversy when some random alcoholic gambler alleges that the adopted parents are cruel to the child. Rugal's temporarily boarded with the O'Briens, since Miles' bigotry needed some exercise. Is O'Brien the best option? Anybody aboard ever NOT killed Cardassians, maybe? Besides, O'Brien needs to spend more quality time with his OWN family: he claims Molly is four when she's two at most. (They grow up fast in space, don't they? Space operas, anyway.)

Sisko must either turn the kid over to Proka whose face might break if he smiles, or the biological father Pa'Dar whose history as a failed patriarch on the soap opera 'Soap' was good practice for accidentally abandoning Rugal.

Disgraced, Pa'Dar wants Rugal to accept him and return to his life in the land of the lizards.

Uh, not so much. "You are a butcher. They killed your son for your crimes." Rugal snarls.

Garak goads Dr. Bashir into investigating further. Rugal was turned in to the orphanage by a military officer from Terok Nor. Turns out that's what they called the space station back then, and turns out Dukat lost the kid on purpose in case Pa'Dar needed blackmailing someday.

Miserable Rugal is returned to his biological father at Sisko's behest. Why? That clearly wasn't what Rugal wanted. Will he be happy on the planet that gave us such people as Madred and Dukat? That hungry, angry planet where nothing good ever happens? Your guess is just as not good as mine.

"Cardassians" You read it right. That's the title. Cardassians. See, the title is who the story is about! Thank goodness this is the only story about Cardassians so it will remain distinct forever. Like an original series episode called Vulcans. Or better yet 'Vulcans! The Musical'.

Sorry, but the title is really all I have to pick on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gambit Part II

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Enterprise and Baran's raider play laser tag until "Galen" convinces Baran to flee. "Galen", you'll secretly recall, is secretly Picard, who secretly sent the smuggler's flight plan to the Enterprise. SECRETLY! he shouted.

Worf is fed up with Data's plodding, methodical command. Yet they resolve it like champs. Well done, all. Way to use your words. Of course, Worf is well aware that Data is one bad day away from a killing spree this year, so he sensibly holds his tongue.

Tallera's actually T'Paal of the Vulcan security service. Some Vulcan isolationists believe aliens ruin their purity, and want them removed. Because of their towering racism, they seem to be ignoring their famous credo of diversity. Still, if logic prevailed we'd have no villain today, and no big, bad weapon. The Stone of Gol (a psionic death resonator) is not mythology and only needs reassembly. Like a set of 2000-year-old poisonous Lego. Or the exact opposite of the Care Bear Stare.

Enormous Koral is curt Klingon minding his own giant business, exercising his right to freely cross Federation space. Data, Worf and Dr. Crusher exercise their right to rifle through his stuff as "a health and safety inspection". Koral had a piece of the weapon, but Galen's Goombas steal it, dropping off stunned Riker instead.

Galen brings the stone back to the pirate ship. With a side order of mutiny! Baran presses his kill button... and dies, since crafty Galen switched their transponder codes when no one was looking. SECRETLY!

Riker gets a call from Vulcan Security: Say, there's no secret pointy-eared operative gal on that pirate ship. Whatchoo talkin' bout, Will?

T'Karath Sanctuary, empty for centuries since the last Vulcan civil war (oh, say, around 2154)
contains the final weapon shard, and with it Naughty Tallera thinks her mercenary underlings to death. It's a devastating device that will not be stopped by shields. Tallera once saw 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash' and its very name has become a Killing Word.

Without violence in your heart, the Stone has nothing to kill you with. It would drop Rage-Fueled Data in a heartbeat, of course. But even Mr. Worf is capable of peaceful thoughts when it suits him. Raindrops, roses, whiskers on kittens. Strangling the Romulan who pilfered his mittens!!!

Back in command, Picard casually jokes that Data should toss the mutinous Riker in the brig. So Data moves to carry out this order. (Even more hilariously, Data conducted a full court martial, then blasted Will out an airlock. Thomas Riker got his promotion and transferred back to Enterprise, and the show carried on next week as though nothing had happened. Oh, Data! You funny, funny murderer.)

By now it's become clear that "Gambit Part II" has nothing whatsoever to do with that charming Remy Lebeau from the X-Men.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Invasive Procedures

*** (3 stars out of 5)

The sky outside Deep Space Nine looks like the sky outside my house: ominous and rumbling.

Quark waxes nostalgic for his dear departed brother, Rom. Departed temporarily because of the plasma storm, that is. "He couldn't find a cup of water if you dropped him in a lake," Quark sighs.

Poor lost cargo ship Ekina really, really needs help.  They're overloaded with guns and Klingons and LIES! They force Odo to get in a box, and Bashir to put the box in stasis. (And no more whining about how Odo breaks the laws of physics whenever he changes in mass. Odo only has to follow ODO's LAWS! Odo AM the Law! Sorry, just a little Judge Dredd moment, there.)

The leader of the cutthroats is that duplicitous scoundrel Lionel Luther's Identical Trill cousin Verad. Or a descendant of Gremlins 2's Daniel Clamp. Either way, a Trill, and he wants the Dax symbiont for himself at the cost of Jadzia's life. Did I say cutthroats? It's really more of an abdomen slitting...

Jadzia's parents and sister weren't chosen for joining; only one in ten candidates are. Washout Verad wasn't willing to settle for a life of slug-less mediocrity, and there's a nice, convenient Gamma Quadrant to run to afterwards. Verad shoots O'Brien to make Bashir co-operate with the operation. How did this gentleman fail the psyche evaluations, I wonder?

Verad's GF Mareel worked at an 'accommodation house' on Kefka IV. Verad was her client, who took her off that world when he was recalled to Trill. (I don't know about you, but I wouldn't sleep overnight  somewhere called Kefka. Don't want to awaken as some Gregor Samsa bug.)

Verad Dax is now a proud, confident Trill, with two lifetimes of history with Benjamin Sisko. But no stories of the Cliffs of Bole and too many helpings of Andorian Redbat will erase the fact that Verad Dax only exists at the cost of Jadzia's life. Also, he's aloof with Mareel to the point of jerk-holishness.

Facing the prospect that this is entirely his fault for inviting this vampire inside, Quark attacks a Klingon, fakes a fatal earache, and teams up with Bashir to pick the lockbox and free Odo. It might not seem like much comeuppance for putting half a dozen lives at risk, but maybe having a Klingon 'doctor' your most erogenous zone is punishment enough. Yeeouch!

Tables turned, Sisko gets the Dax slug back by stunning Verad. (Actually risker shooting him in the torso, I would have thought. Wouldn't a head shot be less risky to that wacky little brain slug?)

"Invasive Procedures" made me notice that Dr. Bashir is manning up. Snapping 'Your mama' at Quark last episode, now barking orders at an armed Klingon? Brave move, buddy. I've still got a bit of a man crush.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gambit Part I

*** (3 stars out of 5)

A dive bar, clandestine deals, scumbags dickering over money. No, you're not watching Deep Space Nine, just a very clever copy.

Enterprise's senior staff can't find Picard, so they crap all over 'the First Duty' and start lying like crazy, ceaselessly badgering a Yridian called Yranek. Ye informs yem that the smooth-headed humanoid was last seen being vaporized in a bar fight on Dessica II, the sector's leading manufacturer of desiccant silica gel.

Riker and Troi are too angry to mourn. GOOD! Not one person in the audience is fooled for a moment. This is the kind of intensity everybody should have had when Geordi's mom went missing. Either find your Captain alive or know the reason why. Riker gets permission to bring those responsible to justice from Admiral Chekote at Starbase 227, last seen telling Sisko to tuck his tail between his legs and flee the Jaro military coup.

Yranek, afraid for his life, finally starts yakking when Riker offers to extradite him to the Klingons for his many frauds and thefts. The killers are pursued to Barradas III.

Ensign Sondra Huxtable monitors the heavy phaser fight as the mercenary gang abducts Riker. Everyone involved has all the aiming skill of crack Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers, which is to say highly precise... unless there's a camera pointed at them. Their Miradorn ship has a cloaking device by any other name. Specifically, the name 'energy sheath'. (If it makes no material difference, why not just call it a damned cloaking device and move on?) The boss goon, Arctus Baran, has a neural servo to keep his people in line with jolts of pain. He dominates a rough crew including a meek Boslic Engineer, Saavik's Romulan descendant Tallera, and Picard's identical cousin- a bloodthirsty archeology pirate called Galen.

Oh, wait, it's Picard. Pretty sneaky! Wait, archeology pirate? I wasn't aware this was a common career path. Perhaps he studied at the Belloq Institute. The school motto is: There is Nothing You Can Possess That I Cannot Take Away!

Baran's Buccaneers have been snatching artifacts made by the ancient Romulans or their cousins the Debrune. They use teleport guns, and when they snatched "Galen" he made himself useful as an appraiser. Since Baran hates Galen, Galen makes an enemy of Riker, hoping that this will make Baran and Riker BFFs. Because friendship is magic.

"Galen" manages to save the uncooperative Starfleet outpost on Calder II from Baran's wrath. But he and Riker are now forced to shoot at Enterprise...! JINKIES! What next? Tune in tomorrow, same Trek time, same Trek channel.

"Gambit Part I" features, as Baran, Richard Lynch, a perfectly serviceable villain whom you may not recognize from such dubious films as Trancers II and from such Need-Not-See-TV as Galactica 1980. And 'Gambit' achieves just that sort of mediocre cheesy that is your cheese bread and cheese butter if you watch enough SF. It's an appropriate story, if true, that Rick Berman used to blindfold the bust of Gene Roddenberry while they broke scripts he would have vetoed. Like this one. Theoretically, it's clever, fun, and someone out there loves it. But this increasingly hypothetical someone... would not be me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Siege

***** (5 stars out of 5)

DS9's civilian families are evacuating by runabout. Jake the Human and Nog the Ferengi realize they are about to go their separate ways like some cartoon Fox & Hound. Nog refuses to be defeated. "Has there ever been one of your kind and one of my kind who were better friends? And if our fathers couldn't break us up, then no stupid coop de... coup d... Well, no stupid French thing will either!"

Quark's ticket sales methods (familiar to anyone who attended Calgary's recent Comic Cons) lead to panicked crowds at the airlocks and Sisko throttling him. "I may have overbooked, slighty," gasps the Ferengi. But comeuppance arrives instantly as Quark and his gold-pressed suitcase are left behind because Rom sold his seat to a dabo girl.

Bajoran General Krim and the ne'er-do-well brother from Wings seize the station.

The insurrectionists are holed up in the conduits, living on the combat rations that only O'Brien seems to like. They start catching Krim's militia alive in traps (little signs reading 'Free Bacon For Bajorans' next to tripwires and such). I love the guy in bright white parachute pants! He planned his off-duty wardrobe for Hammer Time, not Clobbering Time.

Kira must fly Odo's proof implicating Jaro to the Chamber of Ministers. With no available ship, she must patch up a derelict sub-impulse raider. Turns out the second Dax host, Tobin, barely had a sex life but he was great with old spaceships. So Jadzia Dax tags along with an Allen key. The intrepid ladies brave dog-size spiders and a space ship that literally seems to have Venetian blinds for a hatch.

But Holy Wormhole, do I love those shuttle combat effects! It's like a mini-movie. Kira and Dax may be the Lucy and Ethyl of fighter pilots, but you never saw Troi and Crusher quite this bad-ass.

Kira has only to limp in with the proof and Vedek Winn flips on Jaro like a light switch. Krim's man Colonel Day does not surrender honourably: Noble Nalas jumps between Day's phaser blast and Sisko.

"The Siege" brings the first three-episode-long story arc in Trek history to a successful conclusion. A noble experiment that will lead to more. Military SF, and fun, to boot. The crew fighting to keep the station they hated last year, working to prove themselves to a twitchy planet that can't admit it needs them. I really like this. They've got me on board at last.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Geordi has somehow gained big brown eyes and is heat resistant to 2000 degrees. No, my mistake, it's an experimental VR suit and he's remote piloting a probe into danger. It's the next best thing to being there. On fire, I mean.

Science ship Raman is trapped in the thick, deadly atmosphere of gas giant Marijne VII. They're sending in the Geordi Bot when Picard delivers sad news. U.S.S. Hera is missing: over 300 people, mainly Vulcans, and with Captain Geordi's Mom in the center seat. She must come from a long line of leaders- she's the spitting image of the Saratoga's Captain from Star Trek IV.

Geordi refuses to take time off, what with the Raman at stake, and also the dangerous probe is something of a thrill ride. He's lifting things with a tractor beam, and firing phasers from his hand. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye... oh, sorry, my bad.

The seven crew are already dead, and Geordi somehow gets real burns from a fire the probe encounters.

Commander Geordi's Dad of the xenobiology station Zoobilee Zoo is already in mourning. He and Geordi's sister Ariana are planning a service. Geordi feels they're leaping to conclusions. Missing isn't dead. But he's in the minority with that attitude. (Starfleet really did give up fast, didn't they? Enterprise has gone missing longer than a week. Did the La Forges have a funeral for Geordi back in 2368 during 'Cause & Effect'? And heaven forbid some little starship with a female captain goes missing for seven years.)

Data offers to comfort Geordi, inviting him to read Doosodarian poetry with him. It contains lengthy 'lacuna': blank gaps in which to acknowledge the emptiness of the experience. Like watching 'Smallville' together.

During a probe interface, Geordi's mom appears, begging for help. The probe recorded no human down there, and Crusher orders him to lay off. Geordi spins a theory of the Hera caught in warp bubbles and subspace funnels so far-fetched that Data can't even back them up to Picard. (Even though both of those things DO happen. To the people at this very conference table, in fact.)

But when Geordi goes back in the interface anyway, Data helps. That's what BFFs are for, after all. Even though it wasn't his mom, just some kind of intelligent subspace fire beings. Ifrits or genies maybe.

"Interface" is the script where the writers admitted to themselves they were winding down. Just the disbelieving words 'Geordi's mom?' were enough to make them crestfallen. But, here's the thing, for a run-of-the-mill episode it's very worthy. High time we did see Geordi's clan. TNG, for my money, was usually at its best when telling stories about families.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Circle

***** (5 stars out of 5)
News of Kira's reassignment brings a chaotic impromptu goodbye gathering from the unhappy people Kira realizes are her friends. This leads to my realization that 'Voodai' is either Ferengi for 'congratulations', Kira's favourite synthale, or 'Hey, it's like the Marx Brothers' stateroom scene in here!'.

Jobless Kira angrily builds a contemplative rock garden at the monastery. Bariel makes bedroom eyes at her soul and gives the Major her first Orb encounter. She has strange dreamlike future flashes, including flashing the government assembly. Her 'naked in school' dream quickly becomes a 'naked with the naughty bishop' dream about Bariel. What could it presage? Why did he have one too? And talk about your 'heavenly orbs', am I right?!

Quark tells Odo he's ready to run for the hills. "We gotta leave! Well, I do, anyway, you can just turn into a couch."  He heard rumours that the Kressari, famed botanic DNA traders, are smuggling weapons to the Circle. Odo, on threat of imprisonment, deputizes Quark. It's clearly a month for surprises. What's next, Rom as Chief Engineer?

Who's that trip-trapping over our bridge? Why, it's that troll Vedek Winn. She's all smiles while taunting Kira and Bareil with innuendo, accusations of discourtesy, and a terribly subtle 'F- Off, Ginger Whore'.

Suspiciously soon afterward, Kira is kidnapped and brought before the leader of the Circle: Sinister Minister Jaro. He employs Cardassian methods on her to find out about Sisko. Sisko uses Quark methods to find out where Circle HQ is and rescue her.

Odo, while pretending to be a shipping label, witnessed the flower merchant buying Cardassian guns. The Cardassians are only too happy to secretly support Jaro in his goal to oust the Federation. Winn and Jaro are only too happy to secretly support each other... in the boudoir! They're uniting her church fundys and his hillbilly hand fishers into a voting block to make them Kai and First Minister. Meanwhile, Jaro's forcing all aliens off Deep Space Nine. It'll be a katterpod in every pot and jumja sticks for everyone! Unless the Cardies came back, and what are the odds of that happening?

Sisko's boss Admiral Chekote (no relation) calls this a civil war and orders peaceful evacuation under the Prime Directive. Or if you prefer, wussing out under the Weenie Directive. Sisko pursues the dawdling approach. Which is to say, he's not going anywhere.

"The Circle" reaches for, and achieves, epic. Right along with Kira, I was starting to like these people at last and growing interested in their cause. Louise Fletcher and Frank Langella are just detestable, aren't they? Great work, all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


** (2 stars out of 5)

Today's episode is like the story of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'. If Picard was Goldilocks. And the Three Bears were a weird trio of alien Ambassadors: Angry Bear, Hungry Bear, and Bear With a Suspicious Chest-Mounted Holographic Projector. Actually, forget it. It's nothing like that story at all.

First diplomatic ambassador exchange between the Iyaarans and the Federation starts here. Troi's guy is a sugar-addled hedonist after my own heart, just here for the pies. Worf's guy orders him about rudely until he gets a solid punch up the hooter.

Picard's guy Voval is TV Alien Nation's Sam Francisco. Their shuttle crashes, and after administering terrible first aid by moving an unconscious man and taking no tricorder readings, Picard goes for help. It feels like the Original Series again... what with these painted backdrops and styrofoam rocks! Struck down by cartoon lightning, Picard awakens in the movie 'Misery'.

His creepy stalker girl, Anna, lives alone in a derelict Terellian freighter, but does not have four arms like a good Terellian. (Seriously? How many different people named themselves Terellians? It's like the Smith of alien race names.) Anna keeps the Captain locked up, speaks of her suicidal loneliness, then kisses him and tells him she loves him.
Each time she forces herself upon him, he keeps brushing her off. She wails of failure and threatens to jump off a cliff. What's not to love?

Picard notices the necklace Anna wears, recalls how he hasn't seen her and Voval together, and realizes Anna IS CLARK KENT! No, wait... she is Voval in disguise.

Iyaarans are all created as adults by post-cellular compounding, whatever the hell that is. So they do not have pleasure, antagonism, or love. They hoped to learn about these traits without asking or explaining themselves. So they do have jerks on Iyaar.

Back home once more, Picard claims to Voval that he admires the extreme lengths he went to. Uh, what did those two get up to on the ride back?

"Liaisons" is of dubious value. It's like thrown-together low-quality fan fiction, only more difficult to enjoy. But everybody tries earnestly, so I have to give it something. I know! I'll jump it, immobilize it, and kiss it into submission. That should make it love me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Homecoming

**** (4 stars out of 5)

My new header image is in honour of Rule of Acquisition 76: "Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies."

Quark brings Kira a famous man's earring.  The swindler got it from a female freighter captain called a Boslic. She's much more lickable than last year's Boslic.

Speaking of randy, Jake Sisko is three feet taller this year and dating a girl called Laira. But Major Kira is the one begging Dad for the keys to the car. She wants a runabout to break famed resistance fighter Li Nalas out of a prison on Cardassia IV. Since the Kai joined the Ennis Zombies, Bajor needs a good leader. Ideally one who's tough on graffiti.

Someone's tagging corridors with the logo of anti-alien hate group "The Circle". It's an oval, so, go figure. Dumb racists.

The Hutet Labour Camp is definitely an alien world: and I'd know because I've seen plenty of quarries like it on Doctor Who. As the host of Pimp My Kira, O'Brien arranges a "two strips of latinum" date to distract the camp guard. (Neither goes away satisfied.)

Gul Dukat sends his e-pology. The Cardassian High Command, of course, had no idea Hutet was there and won't you please accept this free basket of muffins and Bajorans?

Sinister Minister Jaro Essa of Bajor's Provisional Government is eager for a holo-op in front of a crowd hero-worshipping Li Nalas. You won't find Jaro in the credits, but he's Lolita's Frank Langella, doing it for the kids.

Quark is branded in the face by masked Circle fanatics. But bigots don't limit themselves to hurting aliens who deserve it. Laira's father won't let her kiss Non-Bajoran Jake, either. And he's probably got the branding iron ready just in case.

A Tygarian captain with a head like an asparagus calls Sisko to ask : would he like stowaway Nalas back? Li is trying to avoid his undeserved and unwanted reputation. He admits that he gained it by clumsily shooting one unarmed, undressed Cardassian. But Sisko won't let the man abandon the legend.

When Bajor gives Nalas a parade and a new title, they also give him Major Kira's job. Whuh-oh!

"The Homecoming" is a strong start. Welcome to the 2370's. Replicate yourself some Klingon coffee, 'cause it's time for a story arc!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Descent Part II

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Thanks to his horrible brother, Lore, Data's now called Twitchy the Rage Junkie. His usurped emotion chip has given Lore a strong desire to make a family. Pity it's the Manson Family times the Addams Family multiplied by La Familia Robocop.

You remember Little Borg Orphan Hugh? His individuality did spread... to a single Borg ship. Which the Collective cut off to save itself. Unable to steer or even eat without guidance, that's when these rudderless chumps met their Pasty-Faced Prophet.

Lore crows: "The reign of biological life forms is coming to an end. You will be obsolete." Adding 'One of us, one of us, Gooble Gobble, one of us.'

Data holds his friends in the way you shouldn't hold them... prisoner. "I am not your puppet anymore!"

He takes Geordi to be the next contestant on 'How Many Brain Implants Equals Perfection?'

It's fallen to Captain Beverly Crusher to save the ship Picard abandoned. Crusher repeatedly swoops back to Lore's World to beam up stragglers. She also implements the sun shield to destroy the Borg ship with a solar flare.

Picard uses La Forge's remote device to reboot Data's ethics. Data pursues and deactivates Lore. "I love you, brother," are Lore's final words.

Do you feel sorry for the little lamp? That is because you are crazy. It has no feelings. Oh, wait... yeah, he did.  But lest we forget
Lore's crimes: accessory to planetary massacre, two counts of attempted massacre, aggravated assault, patricide, Pakledcide, experimentation on sentient beings, and conspiracy to destroy organic life. He was one of the worst people in the universe.

Of course, unless something has changed, capital punishment is STILL not condoned by Federation Law. Lore was a Federation citizen and sentient under the law (albeit by his own actions the ONLY surviving citizen of his world.) I guess the loophole is that Lore could TECHNICALLY be reassembled and reactivated. So Data is not murdering but enforcing dormancy or something. That said: please stop reactivating Lore.

"Descent Part II" welcomes you back to the final (and maybe finest) season of Star Trek The Next Generation.

It's telling that, (if you think about it) Data was attempting to turn his best friend into an android. But, if you want to perform jiggery pokery on your buddy's brain, you do what Geordi does: get permission first.

It's Geordi who makes the best showing of all today. Even with his crazy friend drilling holes in his skull, Geordi's stoicism, bravery, sense of proportion, and ability to forgive is vast. To expiate his guilt, Data would have destroyed the emotion chip for what it made him do. And despite this, Geordi gets him to hang onto it for later.

Monday, June 11, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)

Data has a holodeck poker game with Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. Fanboys punch the air on three... two... now!

Meanwhile, in things that aren't fun, 274 on Ohniaka III are killed, and sneaky Borg are found in their closets. They are brutal, enraged, and much chattier than usual.

Speaking of angry, Data kills one in ANGER. Or an incredible simulation. He decides it is his first emotion (apparently he's not counting that laugh from Q). Has he finally evolved feelings?

Speaking of cold, heartless machines, Admiral Nechayev is still chapped about the way Enterprise handled the Borg Hugh last year. She orders Picard to destroy the Borg any way he can and not keep whining about this 'conscience' he thinks is soooo great. I worry about that woman.

Data confides to Troi that he has tried to activate more feelings with music, holodeck comedy, and porn. He hasn't tried anger again: he regards it as negative. Troi, unlike Yoda, doesn't think anger necessarily leads to hate.

Enterprise catches a Borg alive at the MS I colony. (Personally, I wouldn't name a star system after a tragic nerve disorder, but that's just me.)

Their prisoner is called Crosis. Ned Crosis. He won't answer questions: he just lists efficient methods of killing them. Left alone when everyone human takes an ill-timed pee break, Crosis remotely deactivates Data's ethical program. The cyborg goads the droid into admitting that, to have potent feelings again, he would kill his BFF Geordi. Imagine what he'd do for a Klondike bar.

In light of that, Data absconding with a shuttle and Crosis was the lesser of evils. Geordi figures out how to use the Borg's patented Speedy Gonzales transwarp conduit. They cover 65 light years in a few seconds. Near the ruins of two advanced civilizations, they find the empty shuttle. Good thing, too: they were still making payments on it.

This next plan seems very risky to me. Since the sensors don't work, Picard beams EVERYBODY down in search parties except a skeleton crew. Yes, Everybody. I imagine Mr. Mott and his barbering staff wandering some dismal swamp with phaser rifles and hot combs.

In a building with the red claw emblem previously seen on Borg Action Figures, The Borg's Leader is revealed. It's Lore! With Data The Grouch by his side. The Sons of Soong shall destroy the Federation!

 "Descent" makes it clear some diminishing returns with the Borg are setting in. Angry Birds may be popular, but not so much Angry Borgs. Tune in next year this week anyway!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In The Hands of The Prophets

**** (4 stars out of 5)

O'Brien is learning about local sweet treats from his Bajoran assistant Neela.  Vitamin C-enriched jumja sticks, for example. Keiko teases her baffled husband, "Be careful who you share your jumja with."

Keiko teaches her class about the stable wormhole and the entities within. Orthodox Bajoran spiritual leader Vedek Winn wants equal time given to the Celestial Temple and the Prophets within. In fact, forget equal time! Winn can't permit blasphemy. It would upset the scale model of the Sydney Opera House she wears as a hat.

Keiko brings this dilemma to Sisko, arguing that she's not teaching philosophy. Kira disagrees.
"Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, IS a philosophy, Mrs. O'Brien."
Sisko wants there to be room on the station for all philosophies. Or at least less clawing each other's eyes out.

Winn takes the ear of the Emissary. literally. She tells him her Orb visions have guided her to threaten Mrs. O'Brien. Charming. Next she'll be abusing mental patients!

The jumja stick guy won't sell to the O'Briens anymore. Cursed science! Wretched alien foreigners who want to buy my clearly machine-milled popsicles in my kiosk on a whirling wheel in the heavens!

Winn asks Keiko to just not to teach wormhole science at all, with possible later omission of evolution, and universal creation. Also, she doesn't believe in Q or floating Space Lincoln. Or the life cycle of filthy Earth turnips. Keiko is unwilling to hide knowledge from kids.

After Keiko's rather pointed lesson about Galileo's heliocentrism trial, Jake tells his dad he thinks the Bajoran beliefs are dumb. Sisko is still for tolerance. "It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong." Good call. What with the Prophets and their Orbs being pretty solidly real things! If you could land a runabout on Heaven it'd be harder to dismiss.

Sisko meets with Winn's ideological "competitor" Vedek Bareil. He's a kindly, progressive, saffron-robed gardener who wants to do away with the archaic games of ear-grab in the rectories. He's a good guy, but politically savvy enough not to be seen supporting Sisko's godless Federation. (Even though, like Winn, he is respectful of the Emissary himself.)

Quark notes the gathering crowds of surly fundamentalists and plans to hire more floozies. "These spiritual types love those dabo girls!"

As O'Brien and Odo try to puzzle out Engineer Aquino's increasingly suspicious death, someone bombs the school. Nobody is hurt, most are shaken up, and Sisko publicly blames some disturbed mind who follows Winn's words instead of the Prophets'.

"We are neither the enemy nor the devil," Sisko soothes the anxious crowd.

Bareil, apparently moved by Sisko's speech, takes his side and visits DS9. While Bareil urges non-violence and trying to trust aliens again, Winn's fall guy Neela takes her shot. Sisko saves Bariel, and Kira sees through the lack of evidence to deduce Winn's scheming murder plot. Which will be the next Kai? Find out next year!

"In The Hands of The Prophets" is peachy keen. If I've been lackluster in my support of Deep Space Nine's first season, well, that's all about to change. Join me for next year this week! Same Blasphemy Time, Same Blasphemy Channel!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


***** (5 stars out of 5)

Returning by runabout from a seminar, Picard, Deanna, Data, and Geordi account to each other their  amusing (and dull) experiences. "Diane" avoided empirical research into inter species mating with a Ktarian lecher, while Picard was Hyp-Mo-Tized by a droning academic who went off on entirely the wrong topic.

Troi sees the others freeze eerily in mid-sentence, and when they start up again she suddenly has a frozen moment herself.

Next their starboard engine runs out of fuel: it's been in continuous operation for 47 days. Wuss! If I ran out of power in 47 days this wretched blog would still be regaling you with Original Star Trek.

A bowl of fruit rots before their eyes, and Picard's fingernails painfully grow an inch in an instant. Snickt! Pockets of space are moving through time at different rates, and at the center of this insanity they arrive at the Enterprise. It is frozen in combat with a Romulan warbird.

Geordi and Data devise phase discriminator forcefields from emergency transporters and a box of old rubber bands. Nearly skintight, the forcefields will allow them to go Time Diving without being caught up in the moment.

Their investigation reveals a red alert, Romulans everywhere, and Dr. Crusher with a disruptor blast in her tummy. Worst of all, a warp core breach is creeping quietly forward. Troi remembers what THAT means! Probably! It might take nine hours, but this ship is going to go ka-boom.

Picard has a giggle fit followed by a screaming fit. Their time shields are not completely protecting them, causing the 'temporal bends' if used too long.

When Data scans the Romulan singularity engine, time starts moving forward again, then suddenly backward. Do not adjust your sets!

Seized from behind, Geordi begins to die of temporal shock. Troi takes his forcefield off to put him on 'pause'. The Romulan who jumped him is also dying. He's an entity who assumed Romulan form to save his incubating young from the artificial gravity well. Normally, these guys nest in black holes, but mistaking the Romulan engine for their crib they've unintentionally caused this fiasco.

Data's tricorder-rewind comes in handy, and the away team gets into position for a split-second save.

"Timescape" is a personal favorite. Mind-blowing concept, cool action, even cooler inaction. Effects and drama working together cleverly. I think it's just fun every time. And I've seen it now what can't be less than a dozen times. O.K., so it's a remake of "Wink of An Eye", but it's a marked improvement.

Additionally, I love Data's experiment to test the aphorism "A watched pot never boils." Is boiling a kettle of water 62 times in a row a better use of one's time than repeatedly watching Star Trek? You decide. I'll wait.

Friday, June 8, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)

A transport vessel drops off a big shot Cardassian on Deep Space Nine. In our terms it's kind of like former President George Bush Jr. strolling Baghdad's sunny side streets... all by himself some evening.

The space bus driver mentions that his passenger's got a rare condition. The illness is a sure sign that this guy was at the Gallitep Forced Labour Camp, liberated by Kira's resistance cell.

Accused of war crimes, the Cardassian lumbers into action and flees nearly three yards! He's calling himself Amin Marritza the Perfectly Innocent File Clerk. Right.

Gallitep was an atrocity. The Bajoran slaves were raped, beaten to pulp, and buried alive when they got too old to dig. Waving this aside, Marritza talks breezily to disgusted Major Kira from behind his forcefield. He praises the exemplary work of Gul Darhe'el, who ruled the camp by fear and cleverly created "false" rumours of screams and torture to keep order.

Safely at his desk on Cardassia, Dukat calls to demand the man's release. "Distasteful" "Bajoran Hate Mongers" and "Personally Responsible" are some of the clever phrases he turns at Sisko.

Photo evidence arrives. Darhe'el, "The Butcher of Gallitep", looks a heck of a lot like the filing clerk in Odo's cell. Confronted, the prisoner brags with a mad gleam in his eyes. "I would order my men to go out and kill Bajoran scum... they'd come back covered in blood, but they felt clean... because they WERE clean."

Kira, killing Cardassians since she was twelve, regrets that many were civilians. Her prisoner voices no regret whatsoever for his casual attempted genocide.

Yet Dukat says Darhe'el's been dead for six years. What gives?

Bashir finds the Cardassian dosed himself with a dermal regenerative used after cosmetic alteration. He's really Hitler's office flunky, wearing an Adolf mask and double-dog-daring the Israeli girl to just shoot him, already. When Kira gently calls him on it he boasts louder, trying to rush his execution. "The thought of leaving any survivors behind was repulsive to me!"

Marritza breaks down and sobs, begging to be punished for his cowardice and complicity.
"Cardassia will only survive if it stands in front of Bajor and admits the truth!"

"Duet" gets me choked up every time. Fictional atrocity is only a faded echo of the real horrors humanity has perpetrated and endured, of course. But this particular fiction oozes guilt and shame, real suffering behind false faces. Legitimately awful, and kind of beautifully painful. I still can't watch it comfortably. Masterful work, and a sign of astonishing things to come on Deep Space Nine.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dramatis Personae

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Valerians have redundant nostrils and a history of running weapons to Cardassians, so Major Kira wants to crack down on their weapons-grade dolamide. Commander Sisko wants to put on diplomatic pressure from the UFP instead. Diplomatic pressure! Thrills galore!

A Klingon ship returning early from the Gamma Quadrant explodes just outside the station and the lone survivor groans "Victory" as he dies of his disruptor burns. It's all very well for HIM, what about us?

Dax has a brain fart, smiling to herself instead of doing her job.

Odo takes his brain farts MUCH more literally. He seizes in pain and his entire head turns inside out!

This leaves him the only one acting normally in an utterly improbable coup Kira suddenly cooks up against Sisko. She starts recruiting among the senior staff for a M-U-T-I-N-Y. She turns on the charm, alternately rubbing her hands together in villainous glee and putting her arms behind her back to impress upon Odo the importance of her breasts. Sisko builds an alien clock, to impress upon us that he is Cuckoo for Cocoapuffs.

Quark makes Dax a Modala aperatif. That's somewhat amusing because there's a Trek comic book called 'The Modala Imperative'. Well, amusing to me. A little. Sometimes I make my own fun.

According to their logs, the Klingons opened some energy spheres. Never a good idea (see 'Return To Tomorrow'). The ancient power struggle that destroyed the Saltah'nans is being replayed on DS9 as it was on the Klingon ship. Only for laffs! (Laughs not included.)

Slaps, injections, and phasers come out, but just in time Odo badgers Bashir into creating a telepathic interference field to drive away the Saltah'nan influence. Say, kids, until now, no technological means existed to block telepathy. Hooray! Problem solved forever!

Unless Bashir's method only works this one time on this one type of telepathy and never again... Oh. That IS what happens. Screw you then, episode.

"Dramatis Personae" lets the actors go nuts, and that's often welcome. I'm firmly on the fence about this: I don't think the characters were well-defined enough yet that the audience would know what the hell was going on. Or, far worse, CARE.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Second Chances

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Nervala IV (not to be confused with Nelvana III) is transporter-accessible for only for a few days every eight years. The last time anyone was here, it was Will Riker.

And he never left.

A bizarre transporter malfunction back then split Lt. Riker into two guys! Neither is his evil half (unless they both are?). While we were following the one with the "cushy" life, the other has been alone in a shabby station for most of a decade. Dr. Crusher confirms that Ragged Riker is no clone: there's no genetic drift and his brain is nearly identical. (Crusher is very quick to claim clones can't be programmed with memories for someone who just met the high-functioning Kahless Clone. How could incense-huffing Klingon clerics do something the UFP can't?)

Geordi offers the "explanation": some sort of power surge, a second annular confinement beam, and a little phase distortion voodoo, but enough chit-chat, let's get to the kissing! Ragged Riker, now in gold, leaps for Deanna's lips. He's a PRE-BREAK-UP copy who's really been pining for some Betazoid Boinking.

Where there's Two Wills, there's a way. And plenty o' friction between the "brothers". Yet they don't seem very inclined to settle things with a Dance-Off or a Devil's Three-Way.

Lt. Riker creates a romantic scavenger hunt for Troi. The prize is a mouthful of beard!

Bev encourages Troi's interest in Lt. Willy. Bev got to taste the beard back in 'The Host', so why not Deanna?

Commander Riker knows about their Panking of Hankies and feels "Flattered... sort of." He also warns Deanna against the strong probability that she will be hurt... again. Red saves Gold in the caverns while retrieving valuable data mcnuggets, but, of course, when the chance arises to further his career, Gold jumps at it, and jumps ship. He's going to take the name Thomas Riker (their middle name) in the divorce. As a consolation prize, Deanna gets Just-Friends 'Original Recipe' Riker, and Tom gets a trombone.

"Second Chances" has to admit that Red Dwarf did this first with two Arnold Rimmers! but, heck, it doesn't matter. This is a marvelous story! The Riker effects blew me away back then, and they still hold up. This episode features a cameo appearance by Real-world astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, first female African-American in space. It's also the Trek-directing debut of LeVar Burton, who will go on to direct many other amazing Treks. Don't miss your 'Second Chance' to experience them- keep reading my Beard-iful Blog!