Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Quickening

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The planet Zeist boasts a populace unique in the universe. Composed primarily of hover-boarding punk rockers, they are also sword-wielding immortals. Because there can be only one, they must fight to the death to earn ultimate power known as the Quickening... wait, that's Highlander II: The Quickening. Deep Space Nine The Quickening is much less silly. And much less entertaining.

Because A) We haven't had enough episodes about euthanasia and suicide this season and 2) We didn't have enough evidence that the Dominion are rat bastards, this is the result.

Having long ago defied the Dominion, the people of Teplan were cursed forever with the incurable disease called The Blight. Everyone is born with it, virtually everyone dies from it. They have long enough lives to breed, more or less, and pass along the misery as an object lesson to any other planet that wants to try getting uppity.

This is such an unhappy world that the most revered man is Trevean, a local poisoner. He kevorkians those whose lesions turn red, indicating the Quickening has come, to spare them an agonizing death.

Enter arrogant young Doctor Julian Bashir, from a culture that heals broken arms in seconds, convinced the plague can be eradicated within a week. Horrifically, Bashir didn't anticipate that the Blight runs wild in the presence of his healing purple rays. THIS plague isn't going anywhere, thank you very much, and you can put that in your Halloween pumpkin and smoke it. (I've been living in a condo without a porch for too long: pumpkins are for smoking, right?)

"The Quickening" is another bursting of the bubble that is Bashir's ego. But we WANT him to succeed. No one wants the Federation to end up like this. Any more than Western culture wants to see Africa die of AIDS. Or indeed ANYONE to die of ANYTHING. Unless they're assholes. Or zombies. Or zombie assholes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Basics, Part I

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Seska sends an SOS claiming that Cullah's steaming mad. Her baby didn't come out looking like an orange tree-headed jerk. Seska begs Chakotay to save her. And the baby. Mostly her.

The First Officer knows it's probably a trap, but he follows the guidance of his father in a vision. Some of their ancestors were raped by white conquerors, but the babies were not to blame. Chakotay chooses to accept responsibility for the child forced upon him, and Voyager's Captain and crew loyally throw themselves into the trap, too.

Neelix recuits some Talaxian allies from the colony of Prema II, Torres and Kim cook up a novel method of projecting holographic decoy ships, and Janeway rescues Seska's poor, discarded handmaiden-man, Tierna.

Each of these choices goes slightly wrong as Talaxians are no match for Kazons, one of the holoships turns out to be the Holo-Doctor wailing that he has fallen overboard, and Tierna is a plant. Not literally, even though he looks like a tree. I mean he was planted aboard in order to explode near a power conduit and disable Voyager. Celebrating the close of Suicide Season with a bang!

Before you can say "Wha hoppen?" the dumbest jocks in the Delta have stolen the ship of the nerds and stuffed them in the locker of chagrin. It's a good thing nobody in Starfleet is around to see them get thoroughly spanked.

Unceremoniously marooned on the primitive world of Hanon IV, who can come to their aid? The spear-wielding locals? The dinosaur, DINOSAUR, ancient enemy of man? The liquid hot magma?

And who will they be forced to eat in the meantime? No, the answer isn't as easy as Neelix. The man probably tastes like a giant leola root.

"Basics, Part I" did make a stunning cliffhanger. Watching the ship zoom off without them, it looked pretty bad. There's the Skipper (Janeway), there's Mary Ann (Tuvok), but I don't see Gilligan (Paris is missing). Will the Professor be able to build them a warp engine out of coconuts? And if Paris got away... who else are the Kazon overlooking?

Monday, October 29, 2012

To The Death

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Remember the Iconians? Not surprising, we never really met these long-dead conqueror/innovators, but we saw their galaxy-hopping gates back in 'Contagion'.

And, of course, what lizard army that makes the Romulan Empire look like the Shriners found one of those ancient gates on Vandros IV? You guessed it!

Renegade Jem'Hadar blow a pylon right off the station. Soon, Defiant is joining forces with an A cappella group called Weyoun and The Jem'Hadars. It's in the best interest of the Dominion and the Federation to destroy the Iconian device before lizard-men start popping up out of nowhere in every Popeye's Chicken in the universe. Also, less strategic targets too.

It's our chance to watch the daily grind from the Jem'Hadar perspective. In the sense that they find someone to grind up every day. They're the original Grand Clone Army of the Old Republic, enforcing the will of the Dominion for 2000 years. Their weaselly handlers, the Vorta, dole out the addictive drug they need to live, and pass on the will of their supposed gods, The Founders. The episode is designed to show us they are stronger, faster, and meaner than everyone ever, plus they never make a poo.

A breach of discipline for which Sisko sends Worf to bed without supper is the same one for which a Jem'Hadar will kill his most loyal underling. Jem'Hadar who live to be 20 are honored elders. None have ever lived to 30.

But, when you have nothing to live for except the fight: no food, no sleep, no sex, no women, no fun, no sin, no YOU, no wonder it's dark! I think I'm turning Jem'Hadar, I really think so.

To avoid a higher rating, 32 Jem'Hadar deaths were censored, it's said. Leaving only twenty or so, plus several human stabbings. For the kids!

"To The Death" is a window into the spartan, vicious lives of Jem'Hadar. You might be able to sympathize with them, but there's no way to befriend them. Jeffrey Combs is so splendid as insincere, despicable, cynical Weyoun that being fragged by his own troops is not the last we'll see of him.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
All that closeness and bonding Neelix and Tuvok did last episode seemed like such a good idea, the Captain and the First Officer seem to have managed a bizarre accident of their own. The duo caught one of those rare, incurable viruses while on an away mission together (itself kind of a rare situation). The virus has no effect at all, unless they leave their lovely camping trip on 'New Earth'. The cure is worse than the disease: a life-long romantic vacation.

After 17 days, the Doctor can't find a cure, unless maybe they contact the Vidiians, why not? Janeway transfers command to Tuvok and orders him to head for Earth without them. Also, she orders him not to risk getting everyone killed by going to the Vidiians, hat in hand. Because, it would soon become 'heart in hand', or 'pancreas in hand'.

Six weeks together, Chakotay has built Kathryn a tub, and a headboard. He's also their cook, launching quite happily into homemaking while Janeway continues the search for a cure.

Janeway in a towel, AND an adorable spider monkey? This episode has it all!

Captain Tuvok rejects Ensign Kim's plan to contact Danara Pel and offer some of B'Elanna's DNA in exchange for a cure for Janeway's cuddlesome vacation. (How does Tuvok reconcile the fact that he hasn't put on a Captain's uniform or added the required rank pins... in over a month and a half? Methinks someone doesn't want to accept his new role.) Anyway, Kes goads and flatters her mentor into relenting.

When her lab equipment is ruined in a plasma storm, scientist Janeway has to focus on all that's left: what 'parameters' will she and Chakotay define for their relationship?

Chakotay relates an 'ancient legend'. It's the tale of an angry warrior who finally found peace by swearing to himself that he would put the needs of a brave, wise, warrior woman above his own. Not naming names or anything.

Poor Dr. Pel (looking like a Cyborg Brussels Sprout) offers the cure while her people offer lasers.
A happy ending that puts an end to any thoughts of kissage.

"Resolutions", despite its name, resolves nothing. Except by omission. I was sorry to see the back of the Vidiians. And even sorrier that there was no follow up to the love story. This was the last time we'd visit the romantic potential of "Chakway" or "Jankotay" if you'd like. This has remained a disappointment to me for years.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For The Cause

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Last year, Ziyal was 13. Now, she's getting cozy with Garak! From her end, I guess there's no accounting for taste. From his end, one has to wonder- aren't there LAWS?

It might not be as bad as it looks. Cardassian maturation MIGHT be faster than human. This MIGHT be a totally platonic creepy lying-down date in a hot rocks sauna. Or, (my favourite) Dukat may have a second secret half-Bajoran daughter, an adult, also named Ziyal, also living with Kira while the younger Ziyal is off-station, and they just never told us any of that. This would account for the sudden complete alteration in her age and face.

Anyway, law enforcement officers Odo and Eddington are too busy protecting a shipment of Industrial Replicators to arrest Garak (if it was indeed necessary). A gift to the beleaguered Cardassians from their Federation chums, there is a concern that the Maquis will probably take them. Just slip them in their pockets and sidle out of the station, whistling. Probably.

Under the Klingon thumb, the Cardies have had no time to weed the Maquis, so the malcontents are growing and expanding their bases throughout the Badlands. The cops reluctantly come to Sisko with their suspicion that the Captain's girlfriend Captain Kasidy Yates is illegally supplying the Maquis. Long story short- she is. Oh, I mean, spoilers.

But Yates was just the small fry with her medical supplies, while the big fish gets away.

Eddington gets to bad-mouth the Federation and I can't think of a speech that would sound more insulting to Sisko: in Michael's view the Federation are more insidious assimilators than the Borg. The rebel believes the reason the Federation cracks down so hard on the Maquis is not their violent crimes but their baffling refusal to come live in paradise with the rest of the flock. The blind, blind flock of sheepish sheep.

IS he right? Or is he a traitorous, selfish jerk who's just stolen six planet's worth of industrial infrastructure from desperate, suffering Cardassian civilians? Discuss. If you can follow any of this, that is. It isn't easy: the writers didn't feel like Yates and Eddington needed, oh, I don't know... motives, maybe. Families? Grudges? Money? Morals? I'd accept whatever they'd tell me but the only people I really understand here are the two horny Cardassians.

"For The Cause" (apart from not explaining the cause) continues the tradition of not telling me why replicators; machines that make anything out of energy, are hard enough to come by that they're worth stealing. Seriously: can't you use an industrial replicator to make millions upon millions of slightly smaller replicators? With need and want supposedly eliminated within the Federation, what prevents universal proliferation of this technology? More significantly, where's mine? I want my millions upon millions of buffalo now!

Friday, October 26, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)

The transporter once again proves that it has an endless variety of ways to fuck shit up.

Transporter operator Hogan is as surprised as anyone when he beams up Tuvok, Neelix, and some orchids... but a fusion of all three lifeforms arrives: a single identity that decides to call himself Tuvix.

Wacky antics will surely ensue!

No, wait, I meant reasoned, sober analysis. Which reveals the orchids are symbiogenetic: they reproduce by merging with a second species. Some Andorian ameboa do this, but it's previously unheard of in multicellular life, such as Earth's Lohan family of hominids.

Tuvix is a more thoughtful, organized Neelix, and a Tuvok who can follow his hunches.
Haven't we all wanted to have some Wuzzles of our very own? (I personally loved Rhinokey and Bumblebear.)

Mourning together, Kes talks with Janeway. The Captain admits to being quite discouraged that she will ever see her boyfriend Mark again. Neither of them entertains the notion of using symbiogenesis to create a Kes/Kathy Bride of Frankendude. (Kethy? Kas? Never mind...)

Two weeks after Tuvix arrived, the Doctor devises a method to safely restore Tuvok and Neelix. However, Tuvix refuses to give up his life.

"At what point did he become an individual?" asks Janeway. It becomes a torturous moral decision equivalent to an execution (nobody dares say abortion, although it's a fair amount like that, too). Tuvix is clearly terrified to die, and under his Oath, the Doctor cannot perform the separation. That's why they give Janeway the big bucks.

"Tuvix" has something to say about something, I guess. But it doesn't ask the Really Tough Questions, leaving it to me, as usual, to wonder: how did the clothing work?

Somehow, the original accident also created a costume fusion between Tuvok's uniform and Neelix's zoot suit (implying all-organic materials but thankfully not just adding them to the mix and giving Tuvix horrifying button eyes and a zipper mouth!), and then weeks later Tuvix wears a standard tactical uniform that Janeway somehow instantly transforms into two TAILORED versions for Tuvok and Neelix. (Sparing us all from the sight of their bare bums on a bio-bed at a poignant moment.)

Like the incident of Ilia's instant bathrobe in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I'm forced to assume the transporter can just link into the replicators and manifest clothes around someone. Although, if that's true, why would people bother manually dressing or undressing anymore? See? No one ever asks the Really Tough Questions.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Muse

** (2 stars out of 5)

Jake, minus Nog, still watches over the ladies on the Promenade, just this side of "stalker" because he's a writer making character sketches. At least, that's what he'll have to tell the judge. Unless he's the one that needs defending from predators. Young Mr. Sisko gets a creepy stalker girl of his own. Well, I say girl, but it must be noted she's an older woman. Much, MUCH older. This alien inspires artists and uses them up, sucking their bio-electricity through their shakras. I use the word "sucks" with no reservations whatsoever.

When vigilant Papa Sisko runs Mrs. Robinson off with a phaser, she confesses to "inspiring" many brilliant artists of the past: Keats, Tarbolde, Catullus, and presumably the writing staff of the cartoon Thundercats. She shakes her incorporeal fist and flies off to see how many more seasons she can possibly wring out of that tired old Star Trek writing staff. Hey-yo!

Meanwhile, in the B-story, Lwaxana Troi sobs on Odo's squishy shoulder because she is great with child. Her Tavnian husband Jeyal thinks of her as his property, and wants their son raised traditionally Tavnian: segregated by gender. They are not even told the other sex exists until they are 16. You know: solid Mid-Western values. Mrs. Troi would prefer the kid had a step-father more like Sheriff Waterbed.

Lwaxana's miserable mood is contagious, everyone in Quark's is sad all around her. She has lost her parents and a sister, her husband and her firstborn child, and she's not going to lose another one if she can help it. Odo offers to win the child back for Ambassador Troi with a sham wedding... but it's all over if the shifter can't convince the previous husband of his honest intentions.

"The Muse" is a sorry A-story if ever there was one. I wanted to give it one measly little star. But the Lwaxana-Odo bits are pretty good, and didn't deserve to be lumped in. You gotta give props to Michael Ansara: he's more threatening as a posturing chauvinist than the thousands-year old talent-sucker who's supposedly the Big Bad. It's Lwaxana's on-screen swan song, and she probably deserved better than playing second fiddle to some writer's onanistic magic groupie fantasy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Thaw

*** (3 stars out of 5)

19 years ago, a solar flare caused glaciers, as they so often do.  A world with 400,000 people was reduced to population: 5.

It takes only two SECONDS to scan the ENTIRE planet to a depth of two kilometres. With bioneural gel packs, you don't have to wait for buffering!

Viorsa, planner for the Kohl settlement, used an interconnected dream-state to hibernate through the disaster. (Perhaps if they'd had a better planner, they might have prepared more than 5 sleeping pods.)

Knowing that two people have died of fear, and the rest can't or won't come out, the Captain seals Torres and Kim inside the chambers to find out what's gone wrong. This seems like a good plan for solving the problem... of having too many people with yellow shoulder pads.

Seconds later, an army of creepy computer-generated clowns have conga-ed Harry right into a guillotine. The Chief Clown, unwilling to give up his existence, is nevertheless killing the dreamers on whom he depends. Irrational Mr. Mittens grew out of the Kohl's combined fears, and now he holds them hostage.

The clown torments Harry with age and infirmity, using memories against the sleepers. At age nine, Harry went with his parents on a humanitarian mission to a hospital during a radiation disaster. Somehow they used masks, chain restraints, and scalpels. Some colony! What humanitarian aid would have helped them recover from falling 400 years backward in medical technology? Harry's lucky he didn't see anything that reminded him of a SPINAL TAP!

The EMH enters the dream to save Harry and distract the Fear Clown while Torres shuts things down.
Can Janeway find a way to overcome Fear? Or will Harry have to learn to play the oboe without a head?

"The Thaw" relies almost entirely on Michael McKean as the Joker-esque manifestation of terror. Fortunately, he's great. Just don't let him run a Bed and Breakfast.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shattered Mirror

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Welcome back to Evil Disneyland- the Mirror Universe. Professor Jennifer Sisko takes Jake as an emotional hostage, luring Captain Sisko back to parallel Terok Nor.

The mining station was recently seized by the rebellion, and Smiley O'Brien stole the plans for the Defiant and built one of his own to fight the mighty Alliance. Now he wants Sisko to help him tweak it.

Jake gets to hang out with a woman sort of like his long-dead mom, and a Ferengi sort of like his BFF Nog. At least, his interest in the ladies makes him SEEM like Nog. Not a bad place to visit. At least for four days until the Bigger Badder Bad guys show up. Maniacal Laugh.

The Alliance war fleet is run by Regent Worf, bellowing at his own personal Garak on the end of a genuine Jabba's Slave Princess Leia Collar (TM). The S & M games are played on both sides, as ruffian Captain Bashir uses an agonizer device on his captured tyrant Kira.

In case you thought this reality made sense, Sisko's lady conquests get catty with each other instead of taking any significant revenge for the false pretences of his activities in their beds on his last visit. Mirror Kira even refers to Professor Sisko as 'colder than a Breen icicle'. Ms. Breen Icicle melts enough to send Jake the boy hostage back to his dimension, however.

Catsuit Kira gets a triple- by which I mean she finishes off the entire Keldar family (unless Ishka inherits the bar next.) Having been freed by a grateful Nog (happy to have inherited the bar from his soft-hearted uncle and treacherous father) the Intendant kills the obnoxious jerk and blasts down frigid Jennifer for dessert during her escape.

Sisko takes the Mirror Defiant into battle against Worf on the Negh'Var, using the frontal attack Smiley snidely dubs 'Pattern Suicide'. Regent Worf follows Garak's advice to retreat, in exactly the way our beloved local Worf wouldn't. (And, just in case Worf and Garak playing Ambiguously Gay Duo seemed appealing to you, it's worth noting that a 'Stabbing' from Regent Worf is quite literal and isn't to be recommended.)

DS9 is a series about consequences, so occasional shoot 'em ups without any follow through can be fun for the whole violent family. "Shattered Mirror" knows it's playing Star Wars. That much is clear. Worf as Vader is inspired, although I'm more doubtful about Bashir as Han and Dax as Chewie.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hard Time

**** (4 stars out of 5)
This episode is a misery. But that's what it wanted to be, so... VICTORY!

The Argrathi are arseholes. Their system of justice works remarkably swiftly, and it stinks. Looking too closely at the wrong thing gets Miles O'Brien sentenced to 20 years in a horrible dungeon for espionage.

Once released, he learns no time has passed: it was instead a very realistic, time-compressed simulation of the prison experience. It wasn't technically happening to his body, but it's permanently etched on his mind.

His cellmate Ee'Char learned to laugh and draw rather than go insane, although it's fair to say there was a little of both. They were subject to beatings, periods of starvation, and living in a yellow-brown dust that must mainly be composed of their own filth.

Miles avoids mandatory head-shrinking with Counselor Telnorri. As he's seeing Ee'Char everywhere he goes, this is not the best idea anyone ever had.

After accosting Quark and blowing up at his co-workers and daughter, Miles in final desperation goes for the weapons locker. He puts a phaser to his throat. Bashir coaxes out the truth: at the end, Miles, like a starving animal, killed Ee'Char for a morsel of food.

Miles weeps. "When we were growing up they used to tell us humanity had evolved, that mankind had outgrown hate and rage. But when it came down to it, when I had the chance to show that no matter what anyone did to me I was still an evolved human being... I failed."

"You can't let that brief moment define your life... you cannot let that happen, my friend." Bashir has a course of hyposprays to remove hallucinations and depression. But the feelings will require more work.

"Hard Time" came, for me, after 7 months that felt like 7 years. It was a profound and painful period of my life. I made choices that hurt people and I suffered a great deal. I took the medicine and I saw the counsellors. There's no such thing as an Agrathi prison, but depression is as real as it gets. If you've got patient, forgiving friends like Ee'Char or Bashir, however, it gets better.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rules of Engagement

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Worf returns from a nightmare of a shipload of dead children... to a waking world where he is accused of killing a shipload of children.

Advocate Ch'Pok seeks the extradition of Worf for the death of 441 Klingon civilians. Sisko, rather, explains to the Vulcan judge that the transport de-cloaked right in front of Defiant's guns in combat.

Ch'Pok enters into evidence Dax's testimony that when Worf simulates the historic Klingon Battle of Tong Vey, in the role of conquering Emperor Sompek, he ends it with the historically accurate order to raze the city and kill everyone in it. (Sadly, this is ALSO how Worf ends the holoprogram 'A Day at Seaworld'.)

By Quark's testimony, Worf was hoping his humanitarian mission to help plague victims would turn into a chance to fight Klingons. But, to be fair, Quark also either employs four different dabo girls named Ralidia, Midia, Etheria, and Glidia, or he's terrible with names. And perhaps facts.

O'Brien's recounting (after his 22 years in Starfleet, 235 separate combat situations, and his 9 years friendship with Worf) is of an honourable man who doesn't fire on the unarmed... but Worf IS a little quick on the trigger.

In fact, he's not a great guy to put on the stand. Unless what you would like is for him to punch the lawyer.

Since that IS what the lawyer wanted, it seems clear that Worf fired in anger in the Pentath system. Fortunately, the 441 civilians were never there. It was all an attempt by the Empire to pick a fight and make the Federation look like the bad guy.

"Rules of Engagement" is very watchable courtroom drama. The Klingon lawyer is perfect, no Samuel T. Cogley here today. Another stage in the collapse of good will between two cultures.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


** (2 stars out of 5)

On a moon of Drayan II, Tuvok gets his chance to re-enact the reverse-aging gibberish from 'The Counter-Clock Incident'. (We aren't supposed to know that's the twist, but, SPOILERS, it's a very ridiculous twist.) You can't even blame it on the physical laws of an alternate universe. Sorry, but THIS HAPPENED.

The Drayans' fashionable mosquito netting-clad First Prelate Alcia reveals very little about her culture except that they don't want to make friends. And they love cheesy cheesy face cheesecloth.

After a shuttle crash, Tuvok looks after a passel of little Drayans. The adorable moppets warn Tuvok of the morrok that comes for them in the night. They constantly refer to themselves as "children". Sadly, the Drayans sent them here to die.

The moon is sacred ground. Alcia is angry that Tuvok has blundered in. But somehow, she doesn't aid Janeway in getting him out. Why is she so unhelpful?

On their overnight shuttle-repair camping trip, Tuvok sings the kids one of the 348 verses of the Vulcan lullaby of enlightenment 'Falor's Journey'. It's a lovely moment.

Little Tressa requests asylum with Tuvok after the other rugrats vanish in the night.

Finally, Alcia announces that Tressa is 96 years old. She is confused and innocent because of her advanced age due to a species-wide case of Benjamin Button's disease. So... why did Alcia and all the little oldsters use the word "children" over and over again? Are the Universal Translators on strike?

"Innocence" shows us what Vulcan dads would be like, showcases Tim Russ' talented acting and singing, and very little else. There seems to be no moral to the story, unless it's 'Kids Are Cute', 'Vulcans Are Logical', or 'Euthanasia For Everyone'.

Friday, October 19, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Ensign Wildman, while toiling for Neelix on her lunch break (why, oh why, is he making a heavily pregnant woman do these repairs? More significantly, why did he have a science officer do these things? There are at least four crewmen in gold- the colour of engineers- right there!) ...anyway, she goes into labour. Due to complications (the nice way of saying the fetus' terrifying forehead horns get stuck) the Doctor must beam her out of the womb. The question of why he didn't do this in the first place is answered in a unique and tragic way. It ain't safe. The first baby born on Voyager dies. But only in 50% of reality. Let me explain... No, it's too much. Let me sum up:

Subspace turbulence in a plasma drift caused the ship to be duplicated somehow within the same space. Each copy got only half the antimatter, and the proton bursts designed to... something... it makes boom-boom on the other vessel. Explosions start rattling everyone like beans in a can. See? Clear as trilithium resin.

Hold onto your hats, because Harry is blown out a hull rupture. He dies in space! How's that for a commercial break, bitches?

The reference to the EMH doing triage on Holodeck 2 made me wonder something. Why don't they have a fully holographically staffed hospital program? With 10 holographic Doctors? Or 20? If it's a question of computer storage capacity I can think of a few Jane Austen holonovels that could be deleted...

They have no android dreaming Freudian dreams that something invisible is sucking them dry, nor a Klingon to sort one parallel reality from another, so they had to figure it all out on their own.

The Torreses (Torri?) manage to communicate across the spatial scission but fail to re-merge the copies.  They're losing antimatter so fast now that they have only half an hour to scratch their heads. Then heads, scratching, and everything else will be problems no longer.

Because it's 'Suicide Season' the Janeway with the bloodiest nose intends to blow her Voyager up to save the other one. Let's call 'the other one' Sameway.

Unhelpfully, Vidiian ghouls choose that moment to start stealing all the good bits out of Tuvok, Tom, Kes, and everyone else. Sameway of the ship under attack thoughtfully orders her Ensign Kim and her Baby Wildman onto the copy. Then she takes the Vidiians with her to hell, and the banged-up version sails off to relative safety.

I say relative safety because this is a reality where Ktarian young get teeth in the first month, acceptable only if you have SCALES on your breasts, which I'm assuming Samantha Wildman does not. Yet as the Captain tells the existentially baffled Harry: "We're Starfleet Officers. Weird is part of the job."

"Deadlock" was a great SF concept. Of course, I saw it on Red Dwarf first, but still.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Neelix expands his self-appointed role as morale officer to journalist and head gossip-monger. He broadcasts his program 'A Briefing With Neelix' throughout the ship. Suicides on Voyager increase slightly.

Tom's problems lead him to abandon ship for a job with the Talaxians. Tearful, heartfelt goodbye hugs all around. Hope Tom enjoys kissing girls who look like hydrocephalic liver-spotted warthogs for the rest of his life!

In moments, Seska's Nistrim thugs have attacked the Talaxian convoy and taken Tom for themselves. ALMOST as if someone PLANNED it that way...!!!

Well, spoilers, it was all a sting operation. Paris' gambling, mouthing off, slugging Chakotay, and generally being a dink to everyone while disrupting perfectly good stand-alone stories with his intrusive sub-plot all season was a plan cooked up by Janeway and Tuvok after a hundred bottles of Romulan Ale. Each.

Delivering "Tom The Traitor" into Seska's twitchy hands seems like the only problem it would solve is the problem of too many qualified blonde helmsmen. This is the same Seska who tortured the man she LOVES, if you'll recall.

Anyway, Neelix nosily noses into everyone's business, loudly risking his life on the same mission at which Tom is risking his. Tom gets into a phaser fight and escapes, fingering Michael Jonas (not THAT way) but too late to prevent the sabotage. It's down to the chef with the camera to battle it out.

If the transporter operator took even a smidgen of initiative, he had quite a long time to scan for human lifesigns and beam Jonas into the brig, comm-badge or not.  Of course, if THAT happened, Neelix gets no chance to save the ship, right?

"Investigations" is good stuff, despite itself, and Neelix gets the chance to be very, very likeable. But when all is said and done, what I most wanted to hear was the Doctor's report on "The Klingon Glottis: Friend Or Foe?"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


***** (5 stars out of 5)
In the grand tradition of classic fables like 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Weird Science', here you have arguably the best episode of Voyager's second season.

Dr. Denara Pel manages to put a human face on the Vidiians. Mainly by not LITERALLY putting on a human face. She's a kind-hearted physician who finds the predatory actions of her military and government deplorable. She's even remarkably well-adjusted for a person falling to bits from 'the phage'.

In a Pygmalion-style twist on the advanced cortical implant Dr. Pel uses as a brain supplement, Voyager's Doctor pops her consciousness into a temporary holographic body. Which is lovely as it's based on her healthy DNA instead of her patchwork flesh. Thrilled by her dizzying new simulated life, she's enamoured of the Doctor. His off-putting combination of total arrogance and unfamiliarity with social graces makes his courtship a study in awkwardness, hindered also by her deep rooted shyness bordering on self-loathing. Comedy Gold!

She names him "Shmullus", for an uncle who made her laugh. Her life's been short on laughs.
She wants to trade her clumsy, scaly body for a life with her prince in a single room together. But a room that can be anywhere.

Borrowing a holo-date idea from Tom Paris, they go 'parking' in a '57 Chevy on Mars, the planet of love. Er... whatever. Anyway, it is as sweet and charming as it is quirky. It would be even better if it didn't suffer from a common failing of the DVD age. The wonderful, appropriate 1959 song "I Only Have Eyes For You" performed by The Flamingos in the original broadcast was replaced on DVD by "My Prayer" which isn't as.

It wouldn't be a story at all if there weren't some complications. But fortunately no one has to die and turn to sea foam on the waves, and unfortunately no one flies naked up a chimney, either.

"Lifesigns" is a personal favourite. I think it's probably telling of my psychological deformities that I respond very well to 'programmed' characters- robots, holograms and so forth who are placed in situations in which they must grow and change. Especially funny ones. It's a painful story and it's even part of 'Suicide Season'; what with Denara trying to poison herself even though her holobody is about to expire faster than milk on a counter-top. But I find it very romantic over and over again. For me, it never seems to expire like that self-same counter milk.

There's a billion kinds of beauty in the universe, and we can either add to the beauty, or add to the ugliness.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


** (2 stars out of 5)
Is Sisko the Emissary or not? Why didn't the Prophets issue him a 'Hi, I'm The Emissary' name tag or a t-shirt? Without that clarity, hilarity ensues. Well, not hilarity, but this.

Akorem Lan, famed Bajoran poet from 200 years ago, appears out of the wormhole in his rickety space rowboat. Since Lan maybe became the Emissary by technically meeting the Prophets first, Sisko eagerly steps down. He doesn't even get to keep the bullet-proof Pope Shuttle and latinum-plated vestments.

Akorem makes the sweeping, horrible change of restoring the rigid D'jarra caste system of his day. He hasn't made a Horse a Senator yet, but otherwise he's a pretty terrible leader. Only not pretty.

Caste-Based Discrimination is against the Federation Charter, so Bajor's application would inevitably be rejected. But if obeying the New Emissary means losing membership- they gotta go gospel. New Father Knows Best!

Kira is abandoning government work for the artist caste. Her small army of flightless clay blobs attest to her lack of skill. So she's going to throw herself into it anyway.

Throwing is not in short supply today, as a harmless old Vedek tosses one of his monks to his death. Hey, the guy refused to get a job as an undertaker! Murdering him for his truculence makes perfect sense... in Church World.

Sisko and Akorem take it up with the Prophets. Cryptic as ever, the Glowworms put the poet back in his proper time. Cleared that up, right? Now Akorem's unfinished poem is finished, but everyone remembers Akorem's visit and the dead monk is still dead. Thanks for nothing, Space Gods.

Meanwhile, Keiko's second pregnancy is underway, and Miles and Julian learn that Molly and Morn would make poor replacement darts partners. Although we still don't know who would win in a dart fight between the Baby and the Barfly...

"Accession" is just O.K. Damning with faint praise? So be it. The mild time travel element is pretty illogical, even by Star Trek standards. The stakes seem totally irrelevant, even when the whole series premise is on the line. It's a big snooze. I admit, though, I DO really love the bromance of O'Brien and Bashir.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bar Association

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Back from five days skulking around the Gamma Quadrant playing 'Taunt The Jem'Hadar', Dax accuses Worf of falling in love with the Defiant. (It was a little unusual when he started scent-marking the Bridge Chairs!)

Quark's profits are dropping off during the hilariously joyless Bajoran Time of Cleansing. That and Quark's innate dick-hat qualities cause him to dock Rom's wages when his brother nearly dies of an ear infection on the job.

Dr. Bashir suggests the downtrodden employees form a union before Quark's standard policies claim their meagre lives.

Rom is doubtful: "Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters."

O'Brien's ancestor Sean Aloysius (possibly), led a coal miner strike in 1902, and received somewhere between 32 and 34 bullets for his bravery. In his honour (and to impress the talented and disgruntled Dabo Girl Leeta), Rom starts a union. Even the word is dirty to a Ferengi, and the FCA legbreakers like to keep it that way.

To ride out the strike, Quark buys some Lissepian Emergency Holographic Scab Waiters in Quark's own off-putting image. To get Quark to stop being himself, Landlord Sisko promises to make him pay five years rent and power the Federation has provided gratis.

Did I say leg breakers? Brunt has a pair of Nausicaans to toss uppity labour off buildings and sell their carcasses as mulch for gree worms. After they beat Rom's only brother (the fat cat management) and puncture his lower lung, the fat cat brother relents.

Rom gets a new job anyway: lowest man on the Bajoran Engineer totem pole.

"Bar Association" offers the excellent insight that family members are more likely to not kill each other if they don't work together. The episode is also a wonderful comedy glove around an iron fist of truth. And, for whatever it's worth, Rom makes Star Trek's first overt reference to masturbation. Delightful!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Death Wish

**** (4 stars out of 5)
You know when you dig all the way to the back of the freezer and find something unexpected? This is like that when Voyager finds a Q in the crunchy centre of a comet.

This Q, for today's purposes known as Quinn, has been locked up for attempted suicide. By the 2070's, the immortal gadabout had been, seen, and done everything he ever wanted and his society, the Continuum, refused to allow him to die because it would be the first time any Q had died... and it could throw their stable eternal existence into chaos.

As a paragon of Continuum living (reformed), Classic Q is dispatched to argue on the state's behalf, that Quinn should be forced to live forever in shrivelled soulless emptiness AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT, DAMN IT! Judge Janeway runs an impromptu court so kangaroo-ish that it makes the 'Squire of Gothos' look fair and dignified. Tuvok is Quinn's advocate, as a Vulcan from a culture that saw the logic in suicide for those of advanced age and infirmity.

Q's case hinges on the infinite wonder of life, the universe, and everything, with character witnesses Isaac Newton, a Filthy Hippie, and William Riker brought in to illustrate how Quinn had improved humanity. Sparking the invention of human physics, helping wacky goofballs find true love, and saving the life of Riker's Civil War ancestor, Quinn's existence was pretty good for us human types.

Quinn's case is made on a field trip to a manifestation of the Continuum that mortals might understand: a rest stop on a road in a desert where the unimaginably bored Q dwell in silent tedium. Why silent? "Because it has all been said." Quinn manages to convey how bleak that really is: the clocks have no hands and the Q have nothing approaching feelings anymore. Only "sugar" and "drunk".

Janeway turns down Q's bribe to send the ship home, and rules in favour of Quinn's right to choose. She also asks him plaintively to at least try a normal mortal life. "I like this life. You might, too."

"Death Wish" is amazingly good if you need to heap more praise on a story about the laudable side of killing yourself, which I have more than mixed feelings about. First of all: don't. Second: I don't want anyone to suffer intolerably. Thirdly: I'd like to live for billions of years, myself. So, in conclusion, Man Up, push through the pain, and live forever. Like Star Trek! Star Trek refuses to die, even when it has all been said. Each of us should ask "Have I had enough?" My answer is no.

Sons of Mogh

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Dax is sweet on Worf! Dax and Worf, sitting in a tree, H-I-T-T-I-N-G! While they play stabby stabby and stare at each other's cleavage, there's somebody with much, much worse cleavage. He's drunk off his ass out by the airlock. It's the other Son of Mogh: Kurn the Disgraced.

The only honour Kurn has left is in death. He demands Mauk-to'Vor from his brother. Since Worf is not Alexander or Riker, Kurn gets exactly what he asked for. That is to say, a knife in the chest. It doesn't look like Worf even thinks it over.

But since Dax is quick on the uptake, Kurn is saved. Bashir seems to have made the man more comfortable by turning off all the lights in the infirmary except the handy interrogation floodlights and some kind of serrated metal torture frame like a Cardassian Iron Lung. But- hooray! He's forced back to life.

Sisko has reached his limit on "cultural diversity". You'd think it'd go without saying that he's miffed when his officers stab their families.

Kurn dumps all responsibility for himself on Worf. So he gets a dead-end job as one of Odo's deputies. Which Odo demands have fewer dead ends than Kurn is used to.

His first day on the job is his last. He lets a twitchy little Boslic smuggler get the drop on him with a disruptor- and is revived from the dead by Bashir again.

Dax's scheme to save Kurn by killing him without killing him is more than a mite sketchy. How Bashir wiggled past his 'Do No Harm' oath I'll never know. But he removes Kurn's memory, features and DNA. Now there is only the amnesiac Rodek son of Noggra wandering off to a new life.

When 'Rodek' asks, Worf says "I have no family." Huh. Yup, no Russian parents. No adopted brothers. No son. No Enterprise-D chums. No family. A proud moment for self-loathing stoicism.

"Sons of Mogh" is the first overt kick off in what felt like Trek's 'YEAR OF SUICIDES'. We already had noble self-sacrfices from miserable alternate universe Jake Sisko & Tom Paris, but now we begin to be miserable in earnest. I was at an extreme low point myself in 1996, but I began to wonder why episode after episode had a death wish. Join me again tomorrow for "Death Wish"!

Friday, October 12, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Once upon a time, B'Elanna went over Chakotay's head and re-built a Cardassian doomsday device to attack its own masters and blow up their entire planet. She only had a brief time to reconsider whether this might be overkill before the missile vanished in the Badlands.

Guess what's baaack?

Stubborn, efficient, arrogant and paranoid, the Dreadnought has mistaken inhabited Rakosa V for Cardassian fuel depot Aschelan V. It's an easy mistake to make: they both have a Five in their name.

Dreadlocks tricks B'Elanna into thinking it has respected her authority, but it has actually decided that everyone is lying about the whole "Lost in the Delta Quadrant" Deal. The arrogant AI won't shut down. After all, what are the odds a senile extragalactic cyst would kidnap a nuke to mate with? O.K., you and I know it's a fairly common occurrence, but not Dreadsy-kins.

Meanwhile, Tom is insubordinate and Jonas keeps leaving messages for Seska: 'Call me baaaack! Why'd you leeeave? Was it meeee?'

The Rakosan First Minister Kellan has decided to hurl wave after wave of his own men at the unstoppable force. Like the Mighty Hercules cartoon where Hercules always insisted on leaping headfirst at the invulnerable Mask of Vulcan (no relation) a couple of times just to see if he was still as invulnerable as last week.

With 2 million lives at stake I probably would have had those pilots evacuating people instead. Am I the only one not taking crazy pills?

As Janeway sets the ship to self-destruct in Dreadnought's path, Torres gets the missile into an argument with itself over whether it has Bieber Fever or Lady Gaga Reflux.

We just saw B'Elanna spend an entire episode arguing with machines in 'Prototype' and here she is again versus "Dreadnought", a talking missile. Like 'Dark Star' but minus an unconvincing alien made out of a beach ball. They're lucky that Roxanne Biggs-Dawson is so darn riveting. It's a very watchable episode thanks to her.

And it looks like Samantha Wildman will need a name for her baby after all. I'm in favour of Greshkrendregk, myself. It's better than Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassicmaxarodenfoe.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Return To Grace

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Legate Dukat is a thing of the past. Meet Bellhop Dukat, carrying Kira's Bajoran baggage and Captaining the run-down freighter Groumall. Disowned, divorced, and disavowed, and even though it's Kira's fault (for making him drag his love-child home alive), she knows damn well it couldn't happen to a nastier ex-dictator.

Tricked into a diplomatic mission by her new boyfriend the First Minister, Kira never reaches the conference because the Klingons blew it up. Delegates from both Bajor and Cardassia dead by the dozens. Rather than reporting this to anyone, anyone who might, for example, have a cloaked warship idling away in the space garage with a Strategic Operations Officer drumming his fingers on the dashboard, they go on the offensive alone in their unarmed garbage scow.

With Dukat's humiliating circumstances and chirpy daughter Ziyal to enjoy, Kira finds herself teaching Dukat and Daughter to play terrorist.

They pull the old 'Search For Spock Switcheroo' and swap places with the Klingon crew using transporters. They manage to capture the first Bird-Of-Prey ever for Cardassia. But the Detapa Council doesn't want to carry on this fight.

Dukat can't talk Kira into joining his one-man war, but she talks him into letting Ziyal live with her rather than raise her as a freedom fighter.

 "Return To Grace" is cool, especially if you overlook how illogical it is that Kira keeps ending up hanging out with Dukat. You would think, dramatic as it might be, that in the real world the Israeli girl and Hitler wouldn't have as many dinner dates as these two do. Quibbling aside, Marc Alaimo never disappoints as the insidious Dukat. The effects are good too, and we meet Dukat's right hand man in adversity, Damar, due for recurring character status soon enough.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Odo's not the only one who can smash up his room! Spock's not the only Vulcan who can smash! Troi's not the only Betazoid!

Of course, Troi's never been like this guy! Although, I'm starting to see it might be easier to be a lady Betazoid than a dude-a-zoid. These guys have problems with capital P's! I don't mean pronounciation, which rhymes with decapitation which stands for MURDER!

Maquis Crewman Lon Suder kills Starfleet co-worker Darwin for absolutely no reason. Other than he was named for that irritating dolphin on seaQuest DSV.

We learn that Mr. Tuvok is fastidious to the point of mania. It's the most open and shut murder EVER: full confession, DNA evidence, old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Method: staved in skull. Opportunity: Suder and Darwin alone for hours in engineering.  Motive: well, Mr. Tuvok simply CAN'T leave the form blank just because Suder is a rage-fueled nutbar who was bound to snap sooner or later and never bothered coming up with a motive.

So, of course, Tuvok does the only "logical" thing: a dangerously untested mind meld with a madman to find his answer. It turns out Suder is homicidally angry. And now so is Tuvok. BRILLIANT deductive reasoning, Holmes!

His emotional barriers crumbling, Tuvok shows his own rage and a strong personal belief in capital punishment which is not supported by the Federation. He moves to carry out said punishment against Suder unilaterally. Justice be done... or is it simply vengeance?

"Meld" offers Tim Russ being awesome, and Brad Dourif not being Charles "Chucky" Lee Ray but certainly shining as madly as ever. I've seen him as many different types of nut, and always a remarkable, riveting performance. My admiration for Mr. Dourif is nearly boundless. Can one have a crush on a crazy?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)

Odo finds himself recreating the movie 'The Bodyguard', but with more shapeshifting.

Kira has a fine new rebound boyfriend in Bajor's First Minister Shakaar. Of course, Odo missed his chance to tell Kira about his long-term crush on her, and now he's spending every minute of every day watching over them and grinding his fictional teeth.

Odo must protect the Bajoran lovebirds while they get down to some serious doinking. And there's nothing quite as safe and warm as the embrace of a soul-crushingly jealous man of jelly.

The Constable, frustrated in his job and in his love life, retreats to his room for a tantrum, throwing around the house-warming plant Kira gave him and disturbing his downstairs neighbour with the huge ears.
A big-eared neighbour, in fact, who's got some sympathy in his soul after all.

And, because it's an ongoing space opera and things don't work out neatly in 47 minutes anymore, that's as good as it gets for the changeling.
"Crossfire" has at least one thing to recommend: it is not Threshold. It's more than that, of course. It's painful for me to watch this one because (like a lot of young men) I was terrible at expressing my feelings well, especially to women I wanted to court. It's all worked out wonderfully for me so far (and a trillion thanks to my wife for that) but the pain of loneliness is a common thread in a lot of SF. Spock and Data would know where Odo was coming from, and so does Quark. Though somehow it never occurs to me that Quark might be lonely, too. If he is, it's probably his own fault.