Monday, December 31, 2012

Revulsion

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Dejaren the HD25 isomorphic projection has killed everyone on his ship. Why? A fine question... which is not satisfactorily answered here. In the long-ago words of Klingon Ambassador Kell: "Motive? Who cares for motive? Humans, perhaps."

The Serosian crew apparently abused their projection, possibly beyond the requirements of working with caustic materials in a single room forever without being recognized as an equal. So... the fastidious holo-janitor with no rights but with consciousness may perhaps have been justified. I'd say it was a tough call, though: what with anyone who might have given the other side of the story being bashed to death with a hammer and stuffed into every available nook and cranny.

Meanwhile, Seven of Nine eliminates Harry Kim's attraction to her by coming on 79 times as strong. I had some trouble with this, because my hero Harry comes away from the encounter looking pretty bad. Too horny to remain loyal to his girlfriend back home, but too cowardly to follow through on his clumsy attempt to cheat with the New Girl. It's very human, but it's very embarrassing. It strains my understanding of his character, too.

The Isomorph graduate from the Lore Soong School of Irrational Rage tries to tear B'Elanna's eight-chambered heart out. Well, she's ORGANIC! Isn't that the same as asking for it??? Anyway, she kills him back in self-defence.

"Revulsion" lurches sickeningly between farce and half-baked thriller (only the audience can decide which is which.) But I have quite a bit of affection and/or respect for guest murderer Leland "What's Inside Me?" Orser. O.K., there's not much being said here. Don't give something intelligence if you're creating it to be abused. Or, preferably, don't abuse things. If you're not sure if something is a thing or a person, err on the side of not abusing it.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Time to Stand

 **** (4 stars out of 5)
Wow. Spend an eye-blink with Voyager and we're suddenly three months into the Dominion War. Sisko and his Starfleet gang (plus Mr. Garak for colour) are living on Starbase 375. Where the uniforms are brighter but the prospects are pretty dim.

Weyoun and the Dominion are actually on their best behaviour with their new bitch planet Bajor. Nobody's enslaved, nobody's going hungry. Of course, they're not exactly equals or anything. Bajorans with extra gumption are moving back to Terok Nor, but none of them are allowed to have guns. It's like Canada with lizard men!

98 out of 112 ships from Starfleet's Seventh Fleet are destroyed by Jem'Hadar. THIS AFTERNOON. This is bad news, but apparently typical of the way things are now. Luckily, our characters are all alive in the AfterMASH, while Dax and Worf are making wedding plans. Mostly Worf.

Sisko's crew is on a secret mission aboard their captured Jem'Hadar ship to destroy the biggest ketracel-white factory in Cardassian space. Along the way, they are forced to exchange fire with U.S.S. Centaur under Captain Charlie Brown, uh, Reynolds. Again, luck is on their side in disabling their out-of-the-loop allies without adding a 99th Starfleet ship to the Dominion tally.

Dukat's initials are S.G. And based on his behaviour toward Kira, if the 'G' stands for Guy, the 'S' probably stands for Sexual Harassment.

Stifled and presumably just standing around keeping Kira alive for the past 3 months, Odo finally makes a request and gets his Bajoran security force reinstated. In return, Weyoun requests his idol Odo sit on the station's Ruling Council with him and Dukat. And also would it kill him to pat Weyoun on the head every once in a while? Wiping out all freedom in the galaxy is so stressful!

Sisko's Sneakies lose their warp drive destroying the white supply. Think Voyager has it bad? Well, what about a 17 year journey with no chairs and rations for only 3 weeks? Join us next time when we'll see if Mr. Garak is as delicious as he looks...

"A Time to Stand" and the rest of this six-episode epic wartime experimental story arc was a full head and shoulders above its sister series. Like the Next Generation, I felt like Deep Space Nine got a little better at saying what it wanted to say every year. I may hate war, but I loves me some space drama!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nemesis

* (1 star out of 5)
Holy hell, this is like NINE shuttle crashes now! I'm starting to think Chakotay has never LANDED a shuttle before!
In Disney's least popular park- Vietnamland, the Vori abhor none but the Nemesis: the Kradin. The Krady beast. Kradinator. Krading Copies.

Vori Sturdy Defender Brone drills Chakotay in the tactics of "The Clash". How to call London back and so forth.

It seems Chakotay's universal translator must've taken a knock, too. It's set to Seldom Used Synonym. The Vori never say simply, cousin, what can be said stiffly and unnaturally: Trees are 'trunks', clothes are 'coverings', seen is 'glimpsed', the future is 'the soon after'. You may come to regard it as cleverly unfamiliar or deeply annoying. Perhaps both.

Kitten Rafin Smith from Starship Troopers is gunned down while wrestling his trembles to rages. Man, oh, man, Gloried Defenders, I wish I was watching Starship Troopers for the 14th time instead of this episode for the third.

But while trying to recover her missing first officer, Janeway has befriended Ambassador Treen of the Krady beasts. Oh noes!

The atrocities Chakotay sees the Kradin perform have all been Imaginary Stories during a drugged indoctrination procedure. The Kradin probably have all manner of REAL atrocities, but for those you'd have to watch them in their other roles: Predator, Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator, etc. I'm saying with maws like those they've probably yanked out a spine or two in their time.

The verdict? As the Vori say: "It's not so savoury."

I propose that the title "Nemesis" should never again be used in Star Trek. Ever. It's clearly cursed. HEED MY WARNING! You'd be sharp to do my tellings. Fathom? Avoid the Nemesis! (I wish it were as easy to stop talking like a Vori as it is to start.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day of Honor

 *** (3 stars out of 5)
It's a Very Klingon Yom Kippur and B'Elanna Torres is having one of those days.

Broken acoustic inverter in her sonic shower makes her hair stand on end. Chakotay orders her to take baby bird Seven into her engineering nest. And to top it all off, some hobos steal her warp core.

Didn't Voyager meet some Caatati off-screen in season two? Rhetorical question. They did. I looked it up.  Caatati must be a very common race name. Well, not THAT common any more, what with how THESE ones were mostly destroyed by the Borg.

Torres wants Seven to feel remorse or guilt from the death and horror inflicted across the galaxy by the Borg. Well, tough. She doesn't. What do you want?  Raised by a cult of mechanistic monsters, remember?

Nonsensically, the Caatati visitor happens across Tom and Seven in a random hallway. Based on a cursory glance at an unfamiliar human with one metal eyebrow he leaps to the absurd conclusion that the woman is a different species. Tuvok unhelpfully informs him that she's Borg. As you might imagine, the Caatati flips out. Forcing our dashing crew to shelter her. How the boys love their new Borg!

Torres doesn't want Neelix's traditional Day of Honour blood pie or to self-evaluate the last year. She found Klingon ritual hateful as a child, yet now she's not so sure. (I'm pretty sure. Klingons are made of anger. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. Heh. Yoda.)

With a deeply optimistic sense of trust in a dangerous sociopath who betrayed them mere days earlier, the crew try to use 7 of 9's atrocity-fueled knowledge to make a transwarp drive. This fails instantly and spectacularly. When Tom and Torres fall overboard trying to fish back the ejected warp core, B'Elanna finally confesses her love for the ship's resident bad boy as their oxygen dwindles away.

"Day of Honor" is a tie-in to a handful of novels loosely linked by taking place on this Klingon holiday. The episode forces me to like the Torres story and roll my eyes at the Seven story. Is this how it's going to be for another 4 years? Every B story will be about Seven of Nine now?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Gift

*** (3 stars out of 5)
7 of 9 has been separated from the Borg collective and the drone's human immune system has begun to reassert itself. The EMH sets about removing the implants as quickly as possible. Except the good ones. The oven mitt hand and corset, for example.  And are the high heels extensions of her actual heels? Because that's very useful.

Fortunately for the quick de-Borging surgeries, Nurse Kes has psychokinesis. And is leaving for her new series Suddenly Psychokinesis. Unfortunately, Old News Elf will have to wait half an hour for Exciting New Boobs to shove her story out of the way forever.

Janeway finds Annika Hansen in the archives: her iconoclastic explorer parents lit out for the Delta Quadrant and distinguished themselves by becoming the first human nuclear family absorbed by the Borg. Hooray?

7 of 9 is still in bits when Janeway decides to become her new Queen, force her to develop individuality, free will, play nice with others and if she has time after recovering from 18 years of inhuman trauma would she mind removing the Borg bits mucking up Voyager.

Kes gains mastery over the subatomic, and under that a new level of reality. And under that, some stray coins and lint from God's pants' pockets.

Harry Kim clumsily hits on 7 of 9. "I guess the Borg meet a lot of people, don't they?" She backhands him and calls in her Borg cavalry. It's Harry's most successful relationship to date.

Kes is talking exactly like The Traveller, seeing thought, time and space as one. Is it the Talaxian moon-ripened champagne talking or is Kes's rebirth into another realm wrecking up the joint?

It's not easy becoming a space genie or whatever.

When Kes vanishes, her parting gift throws Voyager safely beyond Borg space (in theory) and ten years closer to home. Better than a copy of Ocampa Glow Stick: The Home Game.

Leaving one Borg chamber for Seven to live in, they throw the rest out, I guess. Seven hates being human and Janeway for making her into one. But nobody hates the EMH for designing her catsuit and styling her hair. (He's got fashion design down cold, but no head-shrinking database.)

"The Gift" trades Kes for Seven. Which seemed like a mistake. I know, I know, strong, intelligent, opinionated females are not the worst idea ever. And I normally praise skin-tight costumes for their own sake alone! But the tormented cyborg sexpot was simultaneously obvious and off-putting to me. No, really, I'm as surprised as anyone.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scorpion, Part II

** (2 stars out of 5)
Celebrate Boxing Day with a Box of Borg!

You'll recall how last season Janeway miraculously created the first Human-Borg Alliance on the flimsy premise that she wouldn't co-operate if assimilated. Ignoring the fact (as the Borg somehow do) that assimilation by its very nature FORCES CO-OPERATION.

If only someone among the billions and billions of Borg victims had ever thought of VERBALLY REFUSING before!

Eaten alive by the CG Creatures from the Fluidic Space Lagoon sounds pretty bad, but on screen it meant Harry Kim infected by a quiet wasting disease covered in snot-like tentacles. No wonder Voyager's Doctor finds a convenient cure so quickly. During the opening credits, in fact. The instant cure for the formerly incurable disease turns out to be: Borg nanoprobes! No WONDER the Borg couldn't fight this infection! If only the BORG had some Borg nanoprobes... oh. Wait, WHY couldn't the Borg cure this again?

A series of unlikely events during the short-lived alliance lands Voyager in a Mucus Dimension zapping Bio-Ships, Janeway out of commission, and Chakotay taking the only sensible option left by blasting their repeatedly treacherous Borg "Allies" out an airlock. Thankfully, Borg Drone mouthpiece Seven of Nine has powerful, powerful lungs that enable her to be the single survivor. (I'm insinuating that her boobs would not fit through the hatch. In case that wasn't obvious.)

Turns out the Borg picked the fight with Species 8472 (Really? This was all the Borg's fault? Were you as gob-smacked with lack of surprise as I was?). If Chakotay had not once again risked his neck to disconnect Seven of Nine from the Collective, Voyager would've been 148 drones and a smear of blue-grey hull plates on the bottom of a cube.

I have writers and more probably producers to blame for "Scorpion, Part II" instead of the actors as I used to. Weakening the Borg critically with dithering illogic while introducing a "more powerful and terrifying" enemy who never really caught on turns out to have been an idea that makes Disney's John Carter seem like a solid, successful plan.

Meanwhile, the series is saved by pandering to our gonads with the introduction of Seven of Nine. But I'll have plenty of time to complain about that later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Call To Arms

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Rom and Leeta's preparation for their awkward wedding continues. How do you compromise on a Bajoran marriage conducted by the spiritual munificence of the Emissary and a Ferengi marriage where the Bride only has to Be There and Be Bare? Quark can't bear it: his brother will have no bridal auction? No latinum dances? No Pin the Toupee on the Trump?
Jake's got two jobs- as an official correspondent for the Starfleet News Service and for the Federation News Service (unless they are the same thing). Also Jake is going to be hosting 'DMZ's Keeping Away From the Cardassians'.

The Romulans, Miradorn and Tholians have signed Dominion Nonaggression treaties, and all the while more Jem'Hadar warships pour through the wormhole.

Rom helps concoct a cloaked self-replicating swarm-detonating minefield to block the invaders' entry. But his mind's elsewhere: Rom is worrying about the wedding so much, he's always rushing to waste extraction.

Worry rather about Weyoun: he talks about peace, security, and feeding the starving Cardassian children, but remove the mines or lose the station is the man's bottom line. Sorry, I shouldn't follow a sentence about waste extraction with a sentence about a man's bottom.

After Bajor signs the non-aggression treaty, the station's Bajoran population (except stubborn Kira) are ordered to evacuate back to their home planet for safety. Ziyal stays with Kira's friends. It's good to hear Kira still HAS some friends. Alive ones.

But for how much longer? Dukat is eager for a little unnecessary bloodshed.

Nobody gets everything they want as half the good guys practice the 'Running Away' part of valour, and the other half welcome their new alien overlords.

"Call To Arms" is a collection of heart-felt farewells, plus Rom unintentionally delivering a monologue similar to one from Casablanca. Although there's more of Booger than of Bogart about him. The problems of two sentients don't amount to a hill of Breens in this crazy cosmos!

Monday, December 24, 2012

In The Cards

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

The opening shot is a bunch of frightened, depressed people grunting at each other in a grey room with copious amounts of alcohol. It's a Deep Space Nine Christmas!

Jake decides he needs to end his miserable father's wartime doldrums. And the perfect gift comes along from a derelict ship cargo auction Quark is hosting. Exactly the right thing for Ben Sisko: a mint condition 1951 Wilie Mays Rookie Baseball Card. 422 year old bubblegum not included.

Jake only has one small problem. "I'm human- I don't have any money."

Nog scoffs. "It's not my fault your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favour of some philosophy of self-enhancement... If you don't need money than you certainly don't need mine."

Au contraire! Jake guilts Nog into contributing his latinum life savings to give the man who got him into the Academy "endless moments of happiness." The No-J Consortium is back in business!

They are quickly outbid by the ghost of Voyager's Ensign Peter Durst. Or his identical cousin Dr. Elias Giger.

Nog suggests that were Captain Sisko to put some new shoes on, suddenly everything would be right. Jake thinks there's nothing wrong with that idea except it would be stupid.

Giger gets twitchy when Jake and Nog approach him. "I won't be hounded by you and your soulless minions of orthodoxy. I haven't broken any laws... except the laws of nature." (Maybe he IS Durst's Zombie.)

He has been on a fifteen year quest to end death. He believes death is caused by cellular ennui: prevent cells from falling to boredom and you prevent aging and that minor unpleasantness that comes at the end of aging.

He'll trade the card for science equipment: which the Noh-Jay Consortium acquire with other trades. Doing O'Brien's chores so he can go kayaking. Stealing Dr. Bashir's teddy bear Kukalaka back from his ex-girlfriend Leeta. Cleaning distortion off Worf's opera recordings. Punching up Kira's thrill-a-minute speech to the minsters of agriculture.

I'm confused about who is on the side of right today. Is Nog only recovering Bashir's property from his soon-to-be evil stepmother, Leeta? Or from a poor woman who's life of desperation has led her to abscond with an adorable stuffed toy?

Giger's noisy machines, by unfortunate coincidence, are right below Dominion Minion Weyoun's room.

Meanwhile, The Dominion tries to sign a Non-Aggression Pact with Bajor. Winn reluctantly stalls in signing it on the Emissary's advice.

But when all is said and done, eveyone seems to come out ahead. Even mad, weird Weyoun and mad, weird Giger seem to be hitting it off. How touching that they have each found a friend! Of course, if Giger is more than just a kook they've just given the evil Dominion immortality.

"In The Cards" is one of those rare, non-dire DS9 stories. As Captain Sisko puts it: "Even in the darkest moments, you can always find something that will make you smile."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scorpion

 *** (3 stars out of 5)

Borg are being destroyed, eaten alive, and left in piles by a species not entirely dissimilar to Ridley's Xenomorph AKA Giger's Alien AKA That Superior Version of This Crap-->

The Borg call them Species 8472, and in a stunning display of offensive indifference, our Starfleeters never bother to learn their real name. Granted, they're vicious, creepy, giant monsters who make piles of corpses and even a tiny scratch from their claws will painfully devour you alive, but diplomatic relations are never going to get anywhere if the first words out of a human's face hole are the Borg Designation.

Voyager is caught between the frying pan and a bunch of rickety CG ghoulies that are nothing like a frying pan.

Holographic Leonardo da Vinci's advice to Janeway is to pray. Janeway decides instead to appeal to a lower power: the Borg. "The Devil", if you will. Because Janeway thinks negotiating with "The closest thing to pure evil" is better than negotiating with something more powerful than the Borg that hates the Borg and is already killing the Borg.

Chakotay relates that story of the buzzard who took a monkey for a ride in the air wherein the buzzard refused to straighten up and fly right. No, sorry, the story of the fox who carried a scorpion across a river on its back and was stung to death, drowning them both. Janeway archly refuses Chakotay's excellent analogy and runs right up to hug the Borg.

So... uh, won't the Borg just assimilate her and thereby learn everything she knows? Well, yes, historically.

Only Janeway says that won't happen today! And apparently the Borg are so desperate or drunk or something that they agree. All Captain Kathy holds over their head is a rather flimsy threat: 'We won't give you our weapon research unless you leave us unassimilated.'

Somehow it does not occur to the Borg to assimilate them anyway, thus taking the information directly out of their minds. You know, as BORG DO and HAVE ALWAYS DONE.

Why doesn't it occur to them? Because we're doing a thing here that won't become clear until next year.

What we know so far is that those three-legged monsters are bigger badasses than the Borg because they slowly kill with a touch and blow up planets. Kill BORG with a touch. Blow up BORG planets.

I'm not saying Janeway necessarily backed the wrong "Scorpion", but she makes no attempt with the enemy of her enemy. So, no new friend. If the Federation rejected everyone whose motto is 'The weak shall perish' they wouldn't have Klingon allies, either.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Empok Nor


*** (3 stars out of 5)
It's not often you get a haunted house massacre where you supply everything yourself!  There's faceless nobodies Pechetti, Stolzoff, Boq'ta, & Amaro to be picked off one by one, Garak to be the murdering maniac, Cadet Nog to be the quivering hostage, and Chief O'Brien to be the brave and plucky Final Girl.

The titular Cardassian space station Empok Nor is dark and empty. Just add drugs for a fine old evening of racing around sweating, screaming, bleeding, tripping, falling down stairs, breaking necks and stabbing one another playfully with flux couplers!

The famously resource-poor Cardassian Empire never does anything in half-measures. Except when it comes to evacuating, stripping, and booby-trapping abandoned space stations. Leaving useful conduits, heaters, gravity generators, oxygen, expensive racially enraged super-soldiers programmed to murder non-Cardassians, and other bric-a-brac carelessly behind.

These intelligent, efficient villains leaving Empok Nor and its 2 out of 3 successful psycho killers so very intact is confusing. When they fled Terok Nor, Bajorans and Federation types moved right in. So... why was Empok Nor abandoned? It still works! Why isn't it crawling with Breen or whoever drove the Cardies out? Why not tow it away? Break it down for scrap? If it's so useless, WHY leave anyone to protect it? And why, why, WHY would Cardassians need psychotropic drugs to hate and kill? They're famous for doing those things while stone-cold sober enough to make good tactical decisions.

"Empok Nor" also begs the questions: why go into this dangerous place with a handful of frightened tech nerds in a relatively slow, unarmed space rowboat? If keeping DS9 in good working order is vital to the survival of the entire Federation, why is repairing it such a low priority? Why didn't they send in a starship with more troops in the first place? Amaro gets a lot of flak for being a racist in Starfleet, but that's one of the only parts I DON'T find illogical. If they're always one bad trip away from spearing you in the breadbasket, it's probably not easy to be loving and tolerant of the spoon-heads.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Worst Case Scenario

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Set the wayback machine for two years ago. In 2371, Tuvok had some strong misgivings about the Maquis situation and was writing a tactical training scenario for the holodeck called 'Insurrection Alpha'. In the scenario, Chakotay seizes his chance to mutiny and you, the trainee, get to play along!

Torres finds this unfinished opus in the computer wastebasket. She and Tom (and soon everyone else) start playing the novel. It may be a dangerously inflammatory trip down memory lane, but there's precious little else to do around here. It's either 'What If We Turned on Each Other' or more pool and luaus, and everyone's sick of Neelix's poi.

The author in Tuvok gets his logical hackles up when Tom decides to write the rest of the adventure for kicks instead of making sense. Torres sounds like she would rather play 'What If We Turned Each Other On' instead of 'What If We Turned on Each Other', but then, who wants to listen to a GIRL writer?

Especially if that girl is a dead Cardassian with an ax to grind from beyond the grave!!! Triggered by Tuvok's attempt to write more to the tale, Seska's booby trap goes off and causes major malfunctions.

Mortality Failsafe goes down, natch. Communications and transporters, fer sure! Then the mutiny turns against its writers. The rewritten Doctor injects Paris with searing nitric acid. Evil Doc returns to his strangling ways as well.

From outside the program, Janeway counters by writing in a surprise Rukani rescue, a fortuitous
plasma fire extinguisher, and mithril blades to detect any approaching orcs or goblins.

Where does the story go from here? A superlative question- both in front of and behind the cameras.

Is a Maquis Mutiny really the "Worst Case Scenario"? I mean, maybe the world will end today. Probably not, but at least if it does I died doing what I loved: watching Star Trek.

Do what YOU love- and love it well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blaze of Glory

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Nog's working security, and he can't get any Klingons to respect his author-i-tay. Is it his diminutive stature? His nasally voice? His squid breath?

The Klingon High Council was allied with the Maquis and gave them some cloaking devices. This was before the Dominion annihilated the entire Maquis resistance in three days. (Chakotay's Chums don't know how lucky they are to be lost in distant, uncharted regions!)

In vengeance for their defeat, the few living Maquis launched cloaked missiles at Cardassia. They'll hit in under 13 days.

Sisko does the only logical thing and quietly ignores the problem for two weeks.

No, wait, he springs Michael Eddington from jail! With his comrades dead, Eddington planned to lie in his cell until the Jem'Hadar kill him, too.

Sisko does the only logical thing and wholeheartedly supports this plan. No, wait, ROAD TRIP!

Mike Eddington doesn't just love his antique Canadian coin the "lucky loonie". He also loves porn. I'm sorry, he said CORN. He loves CORN. He disdains replicated food ever since growing his own corn and tomatoes. Also, Cal Hudson was killed awhile back, and if the cuffs ever come off, Mike would send Ben to join him. WHAT FUN!

Athos IV, in the fiery depths of the Badlands. Home of Eddington's beloved wife: Hitchcock's Rebecca, a woman of enormous importance never seen before or since. It's the last stand of the Maquis, and Eddington's inevitable "Blaze of Glory".

Speaking of defeatist attitudes, Quark's doom and gloom spewing sets Morn off. The cucumber-headed fellow went on a drunken, naked rampage until tripping over Major Kira in church. Yes, I said MORN, not porn. I did say naked, though. But not the good kind. Morn.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Displaced

** (2 stars out of 5)
The Nyrians have an underhanded method of stealing spaceships. They appear aboard one by one, while also beaming the original crew off. They stand around looking befuddled and deeply put out. Basically kind-hearted people like Voyager's then spend so much time trying to figure out what's what and being polite that they're supplanted before they notice.

Cursed Immigrants stealing our jobs!

The Translocator device works across interstellar distances and culminates in a large holding area for resettled suckers. Each habitat is created to captivate in comfort.

Finally, there's something humans are better at than their foes (besides talking). Humans are better in cold temperatures than Cardassians, Klingons, or Nyrians. Thanks for the adaptations, Ice Age! (Not the cartoon, the actual Age.)

Thus, Tom must cuddle B'Elanna for warmth in the 20 below zero Argala habitat. For SCIENCE!

Their budding affection is certainly my favourite aspect of this mediocre run-around. The episode is essentially Grand Theft Auto by a bunch of owlish Rabbis. Then a half-hour getting unstuck from the habitat cages. Thrill to the obese timid reptile man who has given up his freedom for security!

There's also some good action from Chakotay sabotaging the ship and thoughtfully palming the Doctor before he is caught last, but it doesn't make "Displaced" less forgettable.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Children of Time

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Remember that time a planet's weird atmosphere made two Rikers with different experiences? What if that happened to an entire shipload of Rikers? And O'Briens and Bashirs? Today we find out.

Two days from now, the Defiant is fated to crash and wind up two centuries in the past. Sisko's attempt to cut down on coffee will pass into legend.

The 48 crew have been fruitful and multiplied. Miles, after ten years mourning for Keiko and the Kids, married Ensign Rita Tannenbaum and made Irish babies. Julian made his super-babies with Angie Kirby. Worf's descendants (and fan-girls) have kept Klingon culture alive as 'The Sons of Mogh'.

But it's not all sex and candy here: Kira died of her injuries a few weeks after the crash.


Captain Sisko makes the obvious point: forewarned of the crash they can probably avoid it. Downside: Erasing the almost 8000 people of New Gaea Colony.

Odo of the present can't hold his shape in the quantum anomaly, but Future Odo (Old-o?) is good at it. He's good with expressing his feelings too. He tells Kira he's always loved her. She's just broken up with Shakaar, so who's up for a May/December Rebound? Kira's having a weird day: but praying over her own grave has not made her hot to trot for the 200-Year-Old Man.

Worf's descendant used Worf's mek'leth to slay a Yar-Bear once. Maybe it was named Tasha? Tasha Yar-Bear? Too soon? No? Anyone?

The Sons of Mogh don't think "Erased By Paradox" is a death worthy to get them into the Klingon Heaven Sto-Vo-Kor. They'd rather Worf slay them now. Would he mind? Does a Yar-Bear shit in the woods?

A day planting crops with the colonists, and Sisko can't go through with ending them. Fortunately, Oldo can. To him, one Kira is worth any 8000 nobodies. Or more accurately, the non-births of eight generations of nobodies. Now THAT's a guy with priorities.

"Children of Time" is well done, but not a favourite. The death of the maybes and the might have beens. It's kind of poignant. It's also such a bloodless slaughter that it's more like an imaginary story. Is Oldo really a mass murderer? Or is he the clear-thinking hero who saved the only true life that was REALLY at stake? Why can't the story make me care? I usually care about people who never existed all the time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Distant Origin

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Dr. Frola Gagin is a distinguished exopaleontologist among the reptilian Voth of the Delta Quadrant. Along with his partner, Seeley Booth, he investigates skeletal evidence to solve murders across the galaxy... no, sorry, that's Bones. No, not Bones McCoy. I'm clearly a little tired. Must be all this transwarp travel, I'm getting warp-lagged.

Having found the despoiled and scattered bones of poor Mr. Hogan, eaten by a land eel on Hanon IV back in Basics Part II, Gagin sets about a scientific analysis that leads him on a merry archeological chase across the galaxy, refining and updating his rather cosmoreptiliopomorphic views as he uncovers new evidence.

First contact is accidentally made from behind a personal duck blind cloaking device, and Voyager ends up with Gagin's twitchy chubby, assistant Vir Cotto, uh, that is Veer, while Gagin borrows Chakotay. 

DNA scan and holodeck visual presentation reveals humans and Voth have a common ancestor: the extinct Eryops. From which sprang Earth mammals including humans, and also hadrosaurs, Silurians, Homo Reptilia, Sea Devils, and Voth.

Transwarp, personal cloaking devices, ships that can swallow Voyager whole, and still they can't break free of rigid dogmas that hold their civilization back from the truth and probably greater advancements still. (Consider that they have had over 60 million years more time to make advances than humans, yet they can't be more than a few generations ahead of Starfleet technologically. Call it stagnant, call it moribund, or call it somewhat familiar.)

Chakotay is captured and dragged to trial before Crocodilicus Pontificus, the Space Pope. She begins screaming 'Not the Mama! Not the Mama!' and hitting them with saucepans.

Despite walking, talking, genetic proof of a common ancestry, Galileo, uh, I mean Gagin, is harshly stifled for his radical proposals. He'll never make logical suppositions in this town again!

Still, the othodoxy is merciful. As long as he promises to recant and lose his human evidence forever, Gagin doesn't have to go directly to jail.

"Distant Origin" is absolutely brilliant SF, while not strictly speaking original or groundbreaking it is still rather brave as a church vs science metaphor. Best of all: it's gots dino-ma-saurs!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Soldiers of the Empire

*** (3 stars out of 5)

It's the Year of Kahless 999, and the Klingon warriors of the Bird-Of-Prey I.K.S. Rotarran are shuffling their feet, hanging their heads and hearing the sad music from Charlie Brown.

They never win! Lucy always pulls the football away at the last second. If by Lucy I mean the Jem'Hadar, and by football I mean the missing Klingon ship B'Moth. Like a B'Moth to a flame, drunk on blood wine by the barrel-full, they rush again and again into a conflagration that leaves them hurt, weakened, and humiliated.

They need a victory.

So nobody's happy to be working for out-of-practice former POW Martok, houseless dishonoured Starfleet lapdog Worf, and some Trill lady science officer who, in her previous life, slept with all their mothers. (Probably.)

Only Dax seems to be on board with the hurt feelings of these guys with their sleeveless metal shirts and Cardassian bone necklaces. She starts goading Worf to nudge Martok out of his 'cowardly' funk and back to the reckless abandon of standard free-wheeling Klingon life.

Knowing, of course, that this means her boyfriend must challenge the old one-eyed Space Dog and either re-kindle Martok's warrior heart or have his own torn out on the point of the General's blade. Maybe both.

"Soldiers of the Empire" has some great moments. When Bashir yells at Martok not to get blood on the carpet. When frustrated Space Cadet Nog mimes strangling Worf. When Martok gets it together and the bridge crew sings their space shanty. When Martok invites Worf to join his house. The moments of victory raise it above the merely mundane. Slightly. But don't let a Klingon hear you say that you think a Slice of Life story is kind of dull and same-y. Or it'll be more like Slice of Face.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Real Life

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Sit back down, y'all, it's time for another wacky episode of Everybody Loves EMH.

Voyager's holographic doctor 'Kenneth' programs a perfect fifties sitcom family. Chirpy wife Charlene, overachieving son Wesley, uh, I mean Jeffrey, and 'everything nice' daughter Belle (repurposed by the holodeck from Janeway's Beatrice Burleigh character, apparently).

When the Doctor invites work friends Kes and Torres home to the holodeck for supper, B'Elanna flips her Klingon lid. "This isn't a real family... this is a fantasy! You aren't going to learn anything from these... lollipops!"

The engineer introduces randomized elements of 'reality' into the family: harried hardworking Charlene needs a husband who pulls his weight, underachieving gang member Jeffrey cranks up the Klingon tunes and plots to cut someone with his pals Larg and K'Koth, while Belle wails for attention and plays the dangerous sport Parisees Squares. In days, Jeffrey abandons the family (and human morals in favour of Klingon values) while Belle receives a tragic, fatal brain injury in a fall. What fun!

Tom steers a shuttle into crazy danger while investigating a space tornado. The Doctor becomes enraged at this recklessness, prompting Mr. Paris to inquire after the Doctor's home life.

The EMH, clearly rattled by the family experience, has opted out of it. He's not willing to sit and watch his fantasy child die. Paris insists that shared pain lays the groundwork for genuine love and support. Paris may have low test scores in any objective measurement of familial bonds. But the pilot makes a good point that the crew's predicament has forced them to be better to each other.

"Real Life" is both amusing and anguished. A very worthy drama, well played.  And a lesson well learned: the isolated and emotionally stunted may wish to keep in mind that real world interactions (painful and uncontrollable though they may be) undoubtedly have greater value than imaginary ones.

Say, I'm just wondering: does B'Elanna ruin everyone's recreational enjoyment, or only creeps who drug her and feel her up? Emotionally, the Doctor seems to operate at the level of a very small child. Does Torres also tell babies that their dolls have cancer? Well, how else are they gonna learn?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ferengi Love Songs

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Hiding from the war (the war on rapidly breeding voles in his bar) Quark is more depressed than ever to hear that Leeta and Rom are getting married.

Quark runs home to Moogie. Moogie knows best. She'll make it all better. Only... why is Quark's old room cleared out? And more immediately, why is the Grand Nagus hiding in his closet?

The Uncle Scrooge of the planet of Pure Greed and the troll doll version of Germaine Greer have hooked up. Ishka and Zek met at the tongo championships, and now they're making the Wrinkly Orange Elephant with Two Backs on Quark's bed.

Speaking of horrifying things to say, Dax accidentally sets off a mental time bomb while 'complimenting' Rom: "No traditional Ferengi could ever marry a non-Ferengi and be happy. He could never trust her."

Rom has bent over backwards (relatively speaking) for Leeta. He's wearing a Bajoran earring, taken her religion, thinks of her as an equal and all. But with his Ferengi-hood challenged, he wants Leeta to sign a Waiver of Profit and Property. That way he won't get swindled like he was twenty years ago by his first wife Prinadora. Prinadora's family took everything Rom had (except Baby Nog) after he signed a second marriage contract without reading it. Such is love.

With Ishka's help, Zek's encroaching senility is not getting in the way of cornering the market on all Bolian gambling emporiums. And Quark can be Nagus' First Clerk. But neither Moogie nor Quark's New Daddy will pull any strings to lift the FCA Ban.

Brunt will, however... if Quark quietly ruins the Nagus' relationship with his mother. "Equal rights for females", "Women Wearing Clothes" and "World Domination" are some of the scenarios Quark conjures up. Who wants a female with IDEAS in her head? As the Ferengi say: "Life goes on. There are other slugs in the sea."

Fun Ferengi Fact: Grand Nagus Smeet was the only Nagus assassinated in office. And they buried his First Clerk with him. This is known locally as Mystery Smeet.

Brunt knew this piece of trivia, and he knew about Zek's failing memory too. The Liquidator is testing the throne cushions against his own posterior. Luckily for all, Quark's developing a conscience. "I've fought against it. I really have."

Zek's not down for the count yet, and Vulcans have some great treatments for memory. Provided Ishka writes 'Call Vulcan Doctors' on his hand for him.

And lastly, always remember: Marauder Mo action figures are worth more in the original packaging.

"Ferengi Love Songs" is fun on a bun, but I like the working title even better: "How Quark Acquired His Groove Back".

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ties of Blood and Water

**** (4 stars out of 5)

You killed Tekeny! You bastards!

Worf (never having seen 'Second Skin') is confused that Kira thinks of a Cardassian like Tekeny Ghemor as a surrogate father.

"You should have known her 5 years ago," Dax jokes. "Back then, I thought she'd never be friends with anyone."

Kira's ambitious plans to have Ghemor lead a government-in-exile offering a dissenting voice to Dukat and the Dominion are smashed when she learns the kindly old Legate is dying. Tekeny asks Kira to hear his traditional shri-tal: secrets for loved ones to use against their enemies. (Well, he's kindly for a Cardassian.)
Back when Furrel had both arms and was alive, he carried Kira's original dying father back to her. Her dad was Kira Taban, identical cousin of Fear Clown Victim #1 from 'The Thaw".

Dukat claims he can return Ghemor's real daughter. That and a full pardon is not enough (even on the off chance it were true) for Tekeny to agree to support the Dominion Puppet and his twitchy ghoul Weyoun. Vorta are cloning experts: the Weyoun Sisko saw killed by his own troops was the fourth incarnation of their progenitor, this Weyoun is the fifth. (If they all hatched at once, what a wonderful boy band they'd make!)

Dukat shows Kira war records on Ghemor, including 17 dead monks. Unlike whatever number Dukat killed, it's a number Ghemor deeply regrets from a youth as a misinformed monster.

Sisko intercepts Dukat's chalice of poisoned kanar for Ghemor, and with a hearty chuckle Weyoun drinks it anyway. "Quite toxic." he smiles. "Vorta are immune to most forms of poison. It comes in handy when you're a diplomat."

Kira wasn't there when her own father died- she was out killing Cardassians. Ghemor's passing gives her a chance to make up for that.

Poor Kira, right? A dad who's not really her dad, and a son who's not really her son. Metaphors for her terrible Cardassian past and her uncertain human future.

By the by, Bajorans don't get headstones: they get a croquet hoop. A staple for all the collating they're going to be doing while they're in the Celestial Temple for eternity.

"Ties of Blood and Water" 'introduces' Weyoun, my new favourite. He's a horror show, yes. His body is a roadmap of pain, yes. But he's a twisted delight to watch.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Before and After

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Who wants more elogium? Well, good news, it's time for Morilogium!

Sheer nonsense, you say? Well, at age 9, dying Doctor Kes (retired) is married to Tom Paris, mother of medic Lynnis (age 4), mother-in-law of Harry Kim, and grandmother of Andrew (big kid for six months). It's a flash forward extravaganza!

The EMH (now with holo-hair!) is calling himself Dr. van Gogh (the Doc does love his suicidal geniuses, but he still has both ears). Dr. van Gogh has devised a revolutionary treatment called a bio-temporal chamber. It will somehow reverse entropy, buying Kes another year of life. (Even though he builds one in the present, this miracle machine is just thrown in the cupboard somewhere, totally ignored.)

Our Ocampan octagenarian is seeing snippets of her own future in reverse order. She's probably accustomed to backward things: Ocampas are born from their mother's upper backs, toes first. As in the old Ocampa nursery pod rhyme: Mitral Sack, Mother's Back, Never, EVER leave through a crack.

In this alternate future, battling the Krenim during the so-called "Year of Hell" claimed the lives of Captain Janeway, B'Elanna, and Jim Carrey. Sorry, I meant Joe Carrey. Ace Ventura's safe.

Captain Chakotay and First Officer Tuvok finally let Neelix become a yellow Redshirt. Maybe it was impossible to refuse him with so many of the crew dead. By that point they must have had barely qualified five year olds pulling all the levers that make the nacelles go up and down.
 
"Before and After" is well done. I'm going to miss Jennifer Lien. I know she's going to go on to do some fine voice work as Agent L on my beloved Men In Black cartoon, but Kes was an underused character who deserved better, as we shall see when this season is over, and beyond.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Business as Usual

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Quark's murderous cousin Gaila talks the destitute bartender into selling weapons. Odo is so livid that he's swallowed his lips! No, sorry, that's his normal face.

It's off to jail... oh, wait, not so fast! Weapons Sales are only illegal if you're not a close, personal friend of the Bajoran Government. And Hagath's Cut-Rate Weapons helped free Bajor.

Hagath the Horrible is a crazy rich sadist who fires any minions who cross him. Fires them out of airlocks. For some reason, Gaila plans to retire and let Quark hang around with Hagath from now on.

Adding to Quark's woes, it turns out the Federation types who bailed him out when he was censured by the FCA are all peaceniks. Dax especially drops Quark's friendship like a hot, smoking plasma rifle mowing down millions of innocents with very expensive bullets.

Troubled by friendlessness and dreams of the dead, is it possible the Ferengi has grown a rudimentary conscience? How will Quark get out of this one? Which mad genocidal despot will disintegrate him first?

"Business as Usual" is great but raises some questions.Where, pray tell, does the Federation get its many fine phasers and photon torpedoes? People MAKE them, right? Does Dax think THOSE people are unclean? Are bat'leth manufacturers subject to such ostracism? Laser distributors? The guys who install the energy arrays that keep our quaint little space station safe from Invading Space Lizards?

How is gun salesman worse than Quark's regular job- pouring addictive poison?

Dax's shunning of Quark seems hypocritical coming from someone who engages in vengeance killing with her Klingon pals like a hobby. But I guess she's holding Quark up to his personal standards instead of his cultural ones. He IS a self-professed "people person", after all.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Simple Investigation

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The station's new cat burglar Arissa doesn't trust policemen, which she attributes to growing up on Finnea Prime.  In her defence, the Finnean ambassadors DO seem like horrible people. Wait, those are hired goons.

Arissa has a dataport, the little cyberpunk! Odo thinks the implanted computer access devices ought to be illegal, since they're often used to find information people don't want other people to know. Or, in her case, to work as a Net-Girl. In case you're considering a new career outside that nice, safe Federation Utopia, a net-girl has nothing to do with hockey: she sells access to her mind. It's a job that makes Assistant Crack Whore sound like a step up.

Hannah Bates' Identical Ex-Prostitute Cousin was trying to contact an Idanian (they make spiced pudding, you know) on a search for the daughter she gave up 15 years ago.  She's trying to get all Jenny Neumonic on the station's computers, but Odo's got plenty of protection. But enough about sex, let's talk firewalls!

I'm just kidding, this episode is all about Odo getting it on. Practicing his undercover skills. Dusting her for fingerprints. Providing complimentary pat downs. I can't think of any other law enforcement nookie innuendos. Something with handcuffs? Nah, the moment's gone.

Odo persuades his semi-reformed love bunny into testifying against her crook boss Draim of the Orion Syndicate. But who's playing who? What's up with what? And how shall we avoid the hired goons?

"A Simple Investigation" has a cool twist. Which I have barely managed to resist telling you. The hints lie in the words cyberpunk, Neumonic, and erased memories. Crap, I wasn't going to mention erased memories. Too late! Also, Odo loses his humanoid virginity. Idanians enjoy their pudding, but there's always room for Jell-O.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Favorite Son

** (2 stars out of 5)
Near a trinary star system, Nesari Captain Alben of the Nerada greets Voyager warmly and Harry makes a warm greeting of his own. With phasers. Take that, complete stranger!

In the ensuing battle, Torres is nearly killed for Harry's hunch. (Better than being killed for a siren's lunch! But we're getting to that.)

Racked with guilt about his strange actions and relived of duty, Harry gets a red, Trill-like rash. Is it a recurrence of the Mendakan Pox he had at age nine? Early onset liver spots? Alien Genetic Douchebaggery?

Harry was right about the devious Nesari- they were about to shoot first (Greedo-style) until Voyager bravely shot them under the table like heroic Han Solo.

Mr. Kim recognizes the planet Taresia. They recognize him, too, and welcome him home. They claim he was conceived on Taresia and implanted in his Earth mother's womb. (The second and, I hope, last time we hear about Harry's mother's womb.) He was genetically predisposed to find his way back here.

These cuckoos have a population that is 90% female. Yet they send their males out on these dangerous, outlandish implantation missions as far afield as Earth? Sounds fishy to me...

Well you should ask: it was all a lie anyway. They reproduce rather like the Tarchannens: by viral infection. Men can catch Taresian like a cold. The only true thing those foxy minxes said was how rare males are. They need outsider DNA and conception takes the life of the father. Flattered, perfumed, and drugged into a stupor, alien men are soon sucked... and sucked... and sucked. No, it's not a good thing!

Harry does battle with the sirens, who ring a Betazoid dinner gong and send B5 commercial telepath Lyta Alexander against him with a stick. Whuh-oh!

"Favorite Son" lets Harry have an all-too-brief shot at being the sexy action hero. But as the story points out, punctuality, politeness, and math skills aren't so bad. 'The Lorelei Signal' isn't looking so bad anymore, either. Struggling to find original ideas, are we Voyager? (Thankfully, back then you don't have to try very hard to stay on the air for another four years. At least as long as you start adding leggy blondes in skin-tight tin foil suits. But I've said too much.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rise

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Some dull guys in dull suits sit in on Voyager's attempt to shoot down an asteroid storm threatening their dull planet. Mighty big of them. Sorry, dull of them.

Neelix is so nervous about training with Tuvok on an away team he can barely work his knapsack. They are collaborating with exogeologist Sklar when their shuttle crashes, right on schedule. If a Voyager shuttle is crashing, it must be Thursday.

A 300 kilometer high orbital tether with a magnetic leverage carriage is their way back into comm range. Neelix worked on carriages like this on Rinax (only they were 1/10 scale models from Galoob). Tuvok, Neelix and their motley handful of local ne'er-do-wells ride the skyhook into the very sky itself!

What will kill them first? Twitchy Geologist? Cagey astrophysicist? Feral metallurgist? The burly guy with no stated degree or field of study?

The asteroids have guidance systems in their crunchy centres: that's because The Etanian Order is dropping the rocks on the Nezu people to claim their territory. (Ha, ha! Hilarious. NEEZOO. What a funny word. Say it with me. NEEZOO.)

Neelix names the mag-lev carriage for his adventurous sister Alixia, dead lo, these many years. Vatm launches ahead of schedule, with automatic systems unfinished, not enough air, and also badly leaking. When Vatm is poisoned, it's a locked room murder mystery on a 47 kph death trap. Call it the Vertically Oriented Express.

Actually, the plot is based on the sixties movie Flight of the Phoenix, but there already was a Phoenix back in First Contact, so this one is just Flight of the Neelix.

"Rise" is no Galileo Seven, but it's trying. Neelix voices his long-simmering feeling that Tuvok is prejudiced against him, and you know what? That stinking ebullient hedgehog man might have a point there. The effects guys did a great job on the space elevator. But that's it, really. Very run of the mill.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dr. Bashir, I Presume?

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Two of my favourite 24th Century doctors in one room? Can you say crossover, cats and kittens?

Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, director of holographic imaging and programming at the Jupiter Research Station, is a towering intellect and a towering jerk. He designed the Emergency Medical Hologram in use across the Federation, and now he's chosen Dr. Bashir as the template for the Long-Term Medical Hologram or LMH.

"You'll be able to irritate hundreds of people you've never even met," O'Brien suggests.

Sisko wonders aloud whether this kook is talking about replacing all doctors.

"No of course not. Why is everyone so worried about holograms taking over the universe?"

Zimmerman responds to Bashir's uncomfortable request to leave his parents out of the interview process by contacting them immediately. Also he asks Leeta out. Leeta is so excited when Lewis offers her a job on Jupiter that she falls out of her towel. As God intended.

Richard Bashir has managed to keep a perfectly wonderful wife, but otherwise seems to have failed at everything he's ever tried. His chief success is very illegal, and very secret:

He had his son genetically engineered.

Unmodified Jules was falling behind intellectually at age 6, so his parents paid to amp up his brain and tweak his reflexes and such. Amsha Bashir tells her son it was done out of love, not shame. And no, he's not just a human Furby.

Admiral Bennett, (who loves his new holocommunicator and will use it forever and not, a week from now, get bored with it and throw it in the back of his closet like everyone else) has the task of informing Bashir's dad of his two year prison sentence. By taking all the blame, Richard saves his son's career.

Bennett reminds everyone that the stiffness of these penalties are supposed to stop people making more super-zealot Khan Singhs like they did two hundred years ago. (Bennett accidentally revealed himself to be an unmodified, imperfect human: Khan was born FOUR hundred years ago.)

I'm sure he was making some kind of point, but I was more interested in Leeta and her traitorous towel. Also more interested in Leeta is kind hearted, cowardly, beautiful-on-the-inside Rom: which is why he wins her heart from Zimmerman.

Love, ambition, secrets, lies, hard choices, and taking responsibility. All that and a sense of humor, too? Heck yeah, I love this.  (And it doesn't hurt my mood any that I saw the trailer for the upcoming Trek movie today!)

So what's the verdict on "Dr. Bashir, I Presume?"? Well, the major fallout is that whenever O'Brien makes Bashir stand way back or close one eye or hobbles the doctor with broken knees, it's not cheating at darts. It's promoting FAIRNESS.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Darkling

** (2 stars out of 5)
Fully recovered from her Neelix-ectomy, Kes finds the Mikhal Travellers... (heavy breathing) "INTRIGUING". Especially her irritatingly handsome Zahir. The Doctor thinks this bad boy is bad news.  Of course, if Kes likes the bad boys, has the Doctor got a suggestion for her!

'Kes, do you like Original Series episodes about gladiators? Uh, I mean, stalkers?'

He's 'improving' his personality by merging elements he admires from historical programs. I must say these holo-programs seem to take wild liberties with likenesses: maybe no pictures of Gandhi survived the centuries, but why not T'Pau? She wasn't Asian-Vulcamerican!

Anyway, that's the least of the Doctor's problems: he's picked up character traits of sleazy creepy creepiness. Perhaps his mental stew needed less Byron. (Seriously? Byron? Why not Hemingway while you're at it? Just really load in the crazy! Also, load a holo-shotgun...)

Apparently, the Doctor was creeping in the bushes while Kes was... doing a little travelling on her Mikhal Traveller. Heebies and jeebies, anyone?

Handsome Zahir plans to ride Kes off into the sunset (so to speak). Before leaving, he warns Tuvok not to take Voyager near the Tarkans, powerful enough to shipjack them and strand them on a moon. Like Tuvok would ever let THAT happen! Oh, right, the Kazon.

That night, Secret Nutjob Doctor badly injures Zahir by throwing him into a ravine and burns an innkeeper. (I only sided with him on the Zahir part.)

The Hyde version of the EMH chemically paralyses Torres, smells women in the turbolift, dissects historical figures, and kidnaps Kes for later. He believes that evil has more lasting value than goodness. (Which is why so many kids are named Adolf lately.) Kes argues that empathy and cooperation get a lot more done. Like building transporters that split people into good and evil, or scalpel-wielding holograms with no safety features whatsoever.

The tormented EMH hurls both of them off a cliff- and Ensign Kim beams them up safely and in violation of the law of inertia. Transporters can do that now.

"Darkling" is dumb. There, I said it. Or rather, the performances are very good, and some scares are still there but I just don't see the sense in it:
EMH: I have an afternoon to kill. Why don't I unscrew my head and pop in multiple personalities?
Kes: Wait a minute, Doctor, won't that cause some kind of, I don't know, disorder?
EMH: Hush, foolish girl. Bring me my cape and cowl, for I am BATMAN!
Kes: But Doctor, last year you nearly destroyed yourself just by adding one hobby too many. Is this really what the Diagnostic Routine sacrificed himself for?
EMH: (slobbering through werewolf teeth) I KEEL YOU! Durpy durpy durp...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

By Inferno's Light

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Dukat's little tantrum at his daughter last episode makes a little more sense (but is still appalling) in light of the fact that he's been negotiating a treaty between the Dominion and Cardassia for months. Last week Cardassia JOINED the Dominion.

Well, to coin a phrase, shit.

On sunny Internment Asteroid 371 all the Cardie prisoners are released: oh, not so fast, Mr. Garak. The new ruler of Cardassia is not your pal. But while denying things to his enemies, Dukat pledges to give his eldest son a birthday present: 5 days from now there will be no Klingon or Maquis left alive within Cardassian borders. (And all Mekor wanted was a riding hound!)

The Bashir Changeling modified that beam intended to shut the wormhole: instead it made the wormhole stronger and angrier.

Jem'Hadar prison may be an endless parade of beatings, maimings and murder, but at least it's co-ed! Bashir keeps claustrophobic Garak from going mad inside the wall working on the transmitter. It seems he was buried alive on Tzenketh once. (Oh, also, his father locked him in closets throughout his youth.) Meanwhile Worf Balboa boxes for his life.

Gowron and his troops limp back from Cardassia, re-instating the Khitomer Accords and thus ending their unprovoked war with the Federation out of BRAVERY and UNITY rather than sheepishness and desperation. Right?

Dukat generously suggests Sisko talk the Federation into joining the Dominion, too. Because he's about to try to retake Deep Space Nine. It may have been built with the blood and bones of Bajoran slaves, but, what the hell. What Dukat wants, Dukat gets, at least with a Jem'Hadar army around.

Quark's financial prospects under Dominion occupation look dim. Neither the Founders nor their troops eat, drink, or use holo-brothels. Ziyal looks on the bright side: "For all we know, the Vorta could be gluttonous, alcoholic, sex maniacs."

"My people have a saying: Never turn your back on a Breen." Oh, Romulan Girl! Racist AND Right. Breens might not have blood (weird) but they're great at shooting people in the back.

"By Inferno's Light" is brilliant. I still flip for the sequence where Defiant plucks the changelings' runabout full of corpses and bombs out of its sundive. They got a whole star for that moment alone! Then there's Dukat, Garak, Worf, and Martok, plus a good and evil Bashir? Way to be, DS9! Nice one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unity

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Chakotay survives his umpteenth shuttle crash, but poor luckless Ensign Kaplan not so much. The First Officer is attacked by a disorganized gang of mangled ruffians, and rescued by a loose group of amputee peaceniks.

Riley Frazier, a Starfleet scientist in relaxed command of a disparate group of racially diverse former abductees, falls for the concussed Chakotay. Possibly because of the concussion, he returns her affections before discovering that she's not just a blatant Janeway analog, she's also a former Borg.

Having recently had their hundred thousand metal-clad posteriors collectively handed to them by some bigger, badder baddie, some of the ex-Borgs have adjusted remarkably well. Riley hangs around with a one-eyed Romulan doctor named Orum and they get along within their own Get-Along Gang, but mostly gangs of racial hereditary enemies don't play well with others.

Voyager's doctor discovers that dead Borg in derelict cubes are extremely resilient and that the machine-parts are happy to keep going and going and going long after the flesh battery has approached zombie status.

Frazier's little co-operative loves the healing properties and rapport made possible by Borg tech. They urge Janeway to help them re-connect on a planetary scale for the greater good blah blah blah. Due to having a brain in her head, Captain Janeway thinks this is a bad idea. For one, thousands of people would be forced to participate in this group mind involuntarily. For two, the Borg-ness would inevitably wake up cranky.

So Riley and company seize control of Chakotay's mind to switch the link on for them anyway.

Will the Co-operative new "Unity" find their mental powers corrupting them absolutely? Well, since we already saw them failing morally at step one, I assume the answer is 'Duh'.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Purgatory's Shadow

 **** (4 stars out of 5)
Garak and Worf sneak into the Gamma Quadrant in response to a call from Garak's not-so-dead mentor. They soon find all the Jem'Hadar they could ask for and a free trip to death camp 371!

Conveniently, everyone of interest to them is there... in the same cell.

One-eyed Klingon General Martok has been interred there for 2 years. It's actually the first time Worf has met Martok for reals, and they quickly become BFFs. Enabran Tain has been held captive since the Unpleasantness in the Omarion Nebula. Oh... and SURPRISE: Julian Bashir. Since before the grim grey uniforms came into use, for over a month, Deep Space Nine's chief surgeon has been a changeling! Long enough to treat baby O'Briens, baby changelings, and do delicate brain surgery on Sisko, anyway.

Garak tells Bashir that sentiment is the greatest weakness of all, but he comes by such terrible ideas honestly: Tain was his father. Though they may only have had one pleasant day together, when Garak repeatedly injured himself learning to ride a hound. (Scrappy Doo is a figure of terror on Cardassia.)

Tain's heart is giving out. The crusty, hamburger-loving, spymaster gushes with pride as he dies: "I should have killed your mother before you were born. You have always been a weakness I can't afford."

Speaking of appalling fathers, Dukat does his best but cannot convince his daughter Ziyal to return home with him. She likes that terrible tailor Garak too much. So Dukat abandons her. Not for the first time. And what's WITH Ziyal? Somehow, half-Bajoran Cardassians have accelerated growth in their early teens accompanied by radical changes in their skulls and faces? (I am, of course, mocking the THIRD actress to play the role of Ziyal in as many years.)

Dax's widow Khan (no relation) invents a method to close the wormhole permanently. But for some reason it fails and "Bashir" looks like the cat that's eaten the riding hound.

The Dominion invades the Alpha Quadrant. "God help us all," intones Sisko. And might I add: YOU ASKED FOR IT! If you'd respected their territory, maybe they would have done the same. Probably not, but you could at least pretend you had the high ground.

"In Purgatory's Shadow" earns those stars. The Bashir Changeling reveal is a great blind-side. The death of Tain is powerful. Over two years building to the Dominion War and it is upon us at last. Hold on to your butts.