Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vis a Vis

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The EMH finds it as difficult as pulling teeth to get Tom Paris to focus on sickbay work when there's a holodeck Camaro in need of surgery. (Seriously, what's wrong with Voyager? NONE of those people I'm always seeing in the halls with the blue shoulder pads have more medical experience than TOM PARIS? I guess nobody is willing to declare their minor in medicine while getting their subspace physics degree: because it would mean spending more time with the EMH.)

Tom saves a guy in a space hot rod with a coaxial space-fold drive which goes into a skid. In space. Turns out it's Bulldog from Station KACL. Oh, I finally got that: it's Cackle. Nice one, 'Frasier'.

Anyway, Steth from Benthos is a thrill-a-minute test pilot dodging the Entaban po-po. For no Earthly reason I can imagine, Tom wants to run off with this dude instead of playing with B'Elanna's plasma manifolds.

OF COURSE, Steth is not all he seems. He's one of those anime characters with fluctuating gender, but hardly as benign as Ranma Saotome or Birdy Cephon. Reading up on Tom, he swaps lives with the dissatisfied helmsman, launching the unconscious grease monkey off in his discarded Benthan body.

While Steth with Tom's face gets down to some kissage with Torres, Steth-Tom meets up with a pissed-off Benthan cop who's been similarly body-jacked.

Bored, irresponsible and drunk, the identity thief threatens Torres and Seven before strangling the Captain. Tom and the cop chase "Janeway" down and, at last, the Doctor forces everyone to play nice and go back to their original sets of genitals.

"Vis a Vis", like many 'Voyager' episodes, was better when it was the 'Red Dwarf' episode, in this case, "Body Swap". Still, I have to hand it to Dan Butler and Robert Duncan McNeill, who play each other's characters quite well.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night

*** (3 stars out of 5)
In the wise words of my good friend and colleague Ron Gleason: "There's no worse career than Assistant Crack Whore." Major Kira discovers the truth of this while time travelling into her mother's past.

 A midnight video call from that bastion of honesty and mental health S.G. Dukat reveals an unappetizing "truth". Kira Meru was his lover... for years.

Umm... would you take the word of Hitler, tooling around a war zone in a VW bug? (And you'd think Starfleet could track its own stolen shuttles, but Dukat seems to continue to elude everyone. Insanity must work like a cloaking device.)

Kira again uses the Orb of Time, but now the only funny tribbles are in Dukat's pants.

Evading soup muggers, "Luma Rahl" briefly meets her infant self, and is quickly 'procured' as a "comfort woman" alongside her mom. "Linger as long as you want in the sonic showers." says Basso, formerly from the movie UHF. "Cardassians value cleanliness." Oh, Basso, you sleaze. Why didn't you stay in television with your pal Weird Al? U62 was a broken-down station, too, but at least there the goings-on weren't so unsavoury.

Prefect Dukat is full of honeyed words about bridging the gulf between their peoples. Of course, he'd be easier to like if he wasn't running a rape dungeon orbiting a slave world.

Despite literally walking a mile in her mother's high-heeled shoes, Kira can only take the hard line that she should have died before "collaborating". Or can she? One thing's for sure: nobody's forgiving Dukat anytime soon.

"Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" in the words of Dax: "It'll be the grimmest party you've ever been to..."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Killing Game, Part II

*** (3 stars out of 5)
It's Hirogen vs the Frankenstien's monster crew of historical re-enactment soldiers they created last episode. This will happen if you plaster up hundreds of holo-emitters in the halls. At least they don't have era-appropriate trench mouth.

The Hirogen doctor finally has enough of the EMH's bleeding heart and shuts him down. Human wounded will now be placed carefully in the trash.

Tom as "Lt. Davis" nearly shoots a suspiciously Asian Harry Kim without the right answer. The right answer is: Betty Grable has great gams. Thankfully, Harry knew this. I'm not sure I would have survived in his place. I don't know Betty Grable from Betty Boop. (I'm no good with sports questions, either, but with a blog like this one you've probably guessed that.)

In her right mind, Janeway forms an alliance with Chakotay's "Captain Miller" and Neelix's Drunk Klingon "K'Leenix". Holographic explosives work just fine on real corridors.

Young Hirogen Taranj is inspired by the strength and purity of a Holo-Nazi's speechifying. He guns down his Alpha superior and returns to the Most Dangerous Game with Janeway herself. She fakes him out with pretend cowardice and real fisticuffs. (Plus a gun. Kathy's no dope.)

After "heavy casualties" which seem to have happened offscreen again, the Hirogen leave with a trophy: Janeway gives their new Alpha some holodeck tech so he can whip holo-characters like uppity rent boys to his cold lizard heart's content. Morally questionable to sell a hypothetical holo-race into slavery? Who cares! We'll never see THEM again!

"The Killing Game, Part II" is a fannish run-around. But I'm a fan, so what the hell. My biggest question is: why not leave the holoemitters up? Handy as the Doctor is, wouldn't this be like giving him wheelchair ramps? Helpful, right? Plus... (and granted this might get confusing) why not program a complete copy of your crew to do all your work? Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Killing Game

*** (3 stars out of 5)
What the what? Janeway's a Klingon? And stabbed? What can the Hirogen be playing at?

They really are playing. They captured the Voyager, and true to form, they cut the geeks up for fish bait. Everyone's dead and the series is over.

No? No. Instead, their too-clever leader must have seen the movie 'Dark City' and decided to do that instead. He's rigged the crew up with neural interfaces so they all believe themselves to be holodeck characters. Their Nerd Slave Harry Kim has been tasked to expand the holodecks. He's wallpapered the whole ship in holo-emitters from the spring collection, as you do. Now they'll be killing: not for real-real, but for play-play.

They've been at this for weeks. At least one crewer has died, despite the Doctor's non-stop efforts to keep everyone alive in this Hirogen blender.

Why, you ask? "Species that don't change... die," the commander insists. He wants to re-build Hirogen civilization before they spread themselves too thin and die out. Play Nintendo Duck Hunt instead of Hunt Actual Ducks. His men would rather shout the Hirogen equivalent of 'yee-haw' and splatter all the guts, but what are you gonna do.

So they hang out with brain-hijacked Janeway as Rick from 'Casablanca' in a French Night Club in September 1944, taking pot-shots at Neelix while he peddles around on his baguette bicyclette. It is both absurd and horrible. Absorrible!

The Doctor and Harry manage to re-set Mademoiselle Sept de Neuf back to Seven of Nine. Apparently she never assimilated a chanteuse, because she immediately forgets how to sing. Can she succeed against a box of action figures like 'Tommy-Gun Tuvok' and 'G.I. Maquis Joe'? The fire-fight in Sainte Claire blows a hole through the holodeck walls and angry brainwashed crew spill into the real ship.

"The Killing Game" is visually interesting, and does actually have a better SF premise than the previous Nazi alien outing "Patterns of Force". But it's also got more explosions than brains. So turn off the brains and enjoy the pretty explosions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Change of Heart

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Dax and Worf are assigned to extract a Cardassian double agent called Lasaran.

Worf's idea of a honeymoon is a slog across Vulcan's Forge, or shivering their way across the mountains of Andor. Dax wants to have room service on the self-indulgent planet Casperia Prime, the "vacation capital of the Hoverian Cluster". Worf agrees easily. Dax is surprised he's so agreeable.

She's even more surprised by how dull the Enterprise must have been if they thought WORF was the funny one. (Ha, ha, DS9. Dull is not a stone you want to throw today, what with your glass house.)

Lasaran is defecting with information about the Founders, and he needs to be lifted out of the jungles of Soukara. Which are full of transporter scramblers. Time for some old-fashioned walking! (And he'll probably want to be literally lifted on the way back, he seems like a load.)

Meanwhile, O'Brien is a man who loves a challenge. Kayaking down the same holo-river for seven years. Playing darts against a guy with enhanced co-ordination. And today: beating QUARK at tongo. Well, forcing the enhanced guy to beat Quark at tongo. The Ferengi distracts Bashir with the sob story that Dax was probably their only chance at happiness and they let WORF win her heart. This technique works: turns out the doctor still fancies her.

Not as much as Worf, of course. Fancies Dax, I mean. Not Bashir and Worf. Save it for the slash fiction, ladies.

As a boy, Worf wanted to run naked with the wolves of the Ural Mountains when his father took him camping. But when his wife is shot by a Jem'Hadar anti-coagulant beam, the sexy talk stops and the real misery sets in. Will Worf save a selfish Cardassian jerk and thus potentially end the war, or will he save his wife? There is no contest. Worf didn't really want an upwardly mobile career anyway, did he? Or (let's not kid ourselves) an END TO THE WAR. He's a KLINGON, if you'll recall.

"Change of Heart"offers some stunning effects as Dax dodges asteroids. And the 'Dax' effects of spotted skin and shoulders romping under a fur blanket with her man can set to stun as well. As Sisko and all husbands know, there IS no choice here. Save the wife, save the world.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


** (2 stars out of 5)
While buying the ship a new gun, Seven of Nine and the Holographic Doctor become suspicious of the suspicious weapons dealer. Seven attacks the man, Kovin, for banging into her slightly.

Voyager's Doctor quickly tries to help with his new Psychology For Dummies software. He recovers or possibly gets Seven to dream up a scenario wherein Kovin stole and weaponised her ever-ubiquitous nanoprobe-laden blood, then wiped her memory.

Is the bad guy a bad guy? Is there any recourse? Are we on a witch hunt or acting from righteous indignation? Is there a difference?

When Kovin starts to feel hounded, he runs and then shoots and then all his guns blow up and kill him. Although this makes a compelling argument against using the cannon they bought from him, it answers none of the questions previously posed. Our pair of new humans feel some ill-defined remorse and the ship flies ever onward.

In retrospect, "Retrospect" feels like a good effort and a huge waste of everyone's time. Save only for a rather useful moral: be careful how you act on what you think you remember. Or, if you prefer: save your budget for better stories.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Honor Among Thieves

 *** (3 stars out of 5)

Meanwhile, in Neo Tokyo, humans snort death sticks, Dopterians skulk, and a Steve Buscemi-looking alien called Flith is stealing lunch from a take-out machine.

It's a world with back alleys and pants pockets. What is this, the 22nd Century? No, it's some urban decay called Farius. It's like Finnea Prime but without the charm or proprietary author's rights. Here, Orion Syndicate underling Bilby has a darling picture of his Federation-looking family somewhere that's green. And he talks like a man who's only three days from retirement!

Irish Tinkerer "Connelly" was pulled in by Starfleet Intelligence to befriend Bilby and catch a stool pigeon. Not coincidentally, DS9 is missing their Irish engineer. Huh.

Despite his humanizing geniality and his cuddly cat, Bilby casually kills a fink in front of "Connelly". Should the title be 'Honour Among Murderers'?

"Connelly" helps Bilby & The Scuzzbuckets hack the Bank of Bolius. I've always assumed Bolius is a Federation member. So, what do they have a BANK for? Money, I'm guessing? And if Farius isn't a Federation member (as seems likely), why does the Federation have jurisdiction to put Bilby into their nice, safe prisons? Well, don't think about it very hard. That's what I'm for.

When all is said and done, O'Brien's conscience hurts because his duty got Bilby killed- but on the bright side: free cat!

There's a kajllion stories in the underpants-clad city. "Honor Among Thieves" is one of them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Candyman Kurn's Identical Hirogen Cousin hunts a CG creature, and it's not Jar Jar Binks. It's not even that adorable CG Yoda!

To a Hirogen, war paint and a little mascara are just the thing when hunting those infectious jerk-bags from Fluidic Space who don't deserve their own name: Species 8472. And now they've got a Hop-On. The Fluidic tripod is clinging to the hull like a Garfield doll. (I'm OLD, kids!)

Janeway chooses to try compassion with two species that between them boil bones and decorate with hooks, chains, spinning fans, and severed heads. Kathy tries to explain compassion to a dubious, insubordinate Seven of Nine. As a lieutenant, Janeway's proudest moment battling Cardassians was a wounded foe she aided- under orders she thought were ludicrous.

But, despite that long, heart-warming story, Seven disobeys the Captain and beams 8472 to the Hirogen wolves to save Voyager's skin. Right or wrong, the Borg is grounded. When she's not at school, she'll be in her cargo bedroom unless mommy says otherwise.

"Prey" offers Alien Vs. Predator when that still seemed appealing. But, on a TV budget and with prime-time violence, it's only as good as the actual movie Alien Vs. Predator. Still, no one's ever gone wrong with Tony Todd, even under a hundred pounds of lizard face.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Little Ship

** (2 stars out of 5)
A subspace compression anomaly comes under investigation by Dax, O'Brien and Bashir. In other words, they contract the worrisome medical condition known as 'Shrinkus of the Dinkus'.

Worf was commissioned by his wife to write a poem about the event. Kira has been commissioned by her entire gender to find the entire idea of shrinkage to be HI-Frickin-LARIOUS.

Difficult as it may be to imagine, the Jem'Hadar easily fall prey to animosity. Even amongst themselves! Shocker! In this case, the Alpha Quadrant Newbies versus the Gamma Quadrant Classics. The infighting is nowhere near pronounced enough to stop them seizing Defiant.

The Defiant, if you can believe this, has a hand-sized opening to space called an aft plasma vent with an anti-backflow valve. Which allows an itsy-bitsy ship to fly inside without all the life-giving air whistling out. Or, more importantly, deadly superheated plasma whistling in. I mean, come on! When Red Dwarf did this, at least they started from inside the landing bay. Fine, fine, forcefields, nanites- I don't care what you say, but say something! A fine mesh screen is not going to cut it.

Despite their supposedly excellent eyesight, the New Coke Jem'Hadar do not spot the brightly glowing finger-length runabout buzzing around the engine room.

Beaming into the circuit boards with a batch of miniaturized oxygen, Tiny Bashir and Mini O'Brien help Regularly Pint-Sized Nog release the command codes. Then a mighty wizard waved his magic wand and they were all big again. Or something.

"One Little Ship" is a not-too-terribly fantastic voyage. It takes more than Pym Particles or X Waves to make a great little adventure. But the effects are good, and maybe it was fun to make?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Far Beyond The Stars

***** (5 stars out of 5)
In a vivid historical place and time, Ben is Benny Russell, a science fiction writer who dreams of a world as sweet and fair-minded as Deep Space Nine. It's a world Benny needs desperately, since New York of the 1950s is not even ready to imagine a "Negro with a typewriter". Let alone a brown man who's responsible for the fate of an entire fourth of the galaxy.

The soulless minions of orthodoxy, in the form of cops and editors and the white man's oppressive culture, won't let Russell publish his stories of future racial integration, not even in a dream. Also, the crackers shoot his friend dead for, as I see it, having a suspiciously black tone.

Like this episode's Albert the Asimov Analogue, all I really want is stories with robots. You get what you paid for with robots. Why must these writers drag me back to the misery and madness of the real world?

I watch sci-fi to ESCAPE from this REALITY crap, don't you?

"Far Beyond The Stars" is a powerful polemic against racism. It also has a heartbreaking pessimism I find even MORE uncomfortable: it seems to suggest that the desire for utopia destroys your brain. Or, put another way, only a crazy person would want to live in the future of Star Trek. On the one hand, I'd argue that things have gotten better overall since the fifties. It rarely occurs to me (a lower-class milk-white shut-in from a tentatively "democratic" socialist society, to be sure) that Captain Sisko being brown and in charge is any BIG DEAL. I grew up with this idea. It's as normal as starship captains with lady parts. On the other hand, things are not better for everyone everywhere and they're not better ENOUGH. We NEED the reminder. Which is why I must rate the story so highly, even though it always makes me feel sad, afraid, and powerless.

Monday, January 21, 2013


 **** (4 stars out of 5)
Letters from home clog the Hirogen Singularity Satellite Service Provider; pissing off the closest thing to 'The Predator' since the Krady Beast. But they're bigger. By half!

Like Gaston from Disney's Beauty & The Beast, Hirogen use antlers in all of their decorating. And skulls, and spleens. They make sure to use every part of the human!

Neelix loves playing mailman. Good News, everyone! Well, some. Tuvok's first son Sek has made him a grandfather.

Kathryn gets her 'Dear John' letter from Mark Johnson. It seems like the only thing they have left together is that he still has her dogs. He got married four months ago (while Janeway was having a Tea Party for the Borg, no doubt.)

Chakotay's missive from his Maquis recruiter Sveta is worse: once thousands of freedom fighters- now a mere handful. As followers of Deep Space Nine will already be aware,  the Dominion killed 'em. Only the lucky ones are making starship license plates in prison! B'Elanna swears to make someone pay... if only she she had a 60,0000 light-year long phaser.

Tuvok and Seven are strapped into bondage gear and daubed with paint. Kinky! Their Hirogen chef/captor hopes that their unusual organs will win him status and dates with large women.

Will the "Hunters" get their fillet of Grampa Tuvok? And is it true that after you de-naturate a Vulcan, you're hungry again an hour later?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who Mourns For Morn?

 ***** (5 stars out of 5)
It's Star Trek: Leverage as Quark becomes embroiled in the dangerous antics of the crooks who pulled off the Lissepian Mother's Day Heist.

There's Larell, the cat burglar, who plays men of all races like cheap Etanian fiddles. There's Krit and Nahsk, the muscles that resemble Brussels (Sprouts). There's Hain, the Con Man, who must have been hiding out on planet Klaestron impersonating the son of the planetary hero (back in the episode "Dax"). And last, but never least, there's Morn, the suave Lurian getaway driver. You know? The lumpy potato-looking guy who's never NOT at the bar in Quark's?

Actually, Morn has been away lately- since the reports of his death when his ship was lost in an ion storm. And with (Characteristic? Uncharacteristic?) generosity, he's left all his otherworldly goods to his bartender.

Our Ferengi Anti-Hero must sift through a sea of lies (and sift through a mud bath with the comely naked Larell) to find the truth. And, much more importantly, find the money. Was Morn a lucky lottery winner? Crown Prince of Luria? Just a chunky guy with a cargo hold full of rotting beets?

And whose neck is on what chopping block when the all the gold-pressed latnium dust settles?

"Who Mourns For Morn?" probably deserved the make-up Emmy that Mr. Westmore was nominated for. Virtually every character is a non-human and by this point it never even crosses my mind how much effort that really takes. Thank you, Michael Westmore and company, for putting the weird flesh on a strange little galaxy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Message in a Bottle

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

A stupendous episode if you're a comedy geek with a spaceship fetish. Fortunately... that's me all over.

While hacking into the intergalactic satellite communication network of what turns out to be a vicious race of giant killer monsters (sort of like Verizon with bazookas), Seven of Nine electrocutes the phone operator and allows the transmission of a brief holographic message to a Starfleet vessel on the other side of the galaxy.

The message IS the Doctor, ill-prepared but quick-thinking. The vessel is U.S.S. Prometheus (no relation to the one with the black goop and giant albinos). Prometheus is an experimental warship, the construction of which was so rushed that they painted the wrong registry number on the hull. Prometheus splits into its own squadron of transforming robot lions done up in primary colours... sorry, that's VOLTRON.

The Emergency Medical Hologram can't inform anyone here of Voyager's status: they were all killed by Romulan hijackers. Well, except an untested EMH Mark 2 who would rather shut down than try to retake the ship.
And yet Mark 1 learns to respect Mark 2's more current medical knowledge ("We don't use scalpels or leeches anymore!"), while Mark 2 learns to respect Mark 1's experience. (Especially that modification Mark 1 has used to equip himself... IN HIS PANTS!)

I've read that my favourite exchange in all the bickering between the holograms was contributed by Robert "EMH Mark 1" Picardo:
"Stop breathing down my neck," barks Voyager's doctor.
"My breathing is merely a simulation," Mark 2 informs him.
"So is my neck. Stop it anyway!"

The terrified nerd duo must outdo the enemy soldiers and fly their empty warship into combat. (More's the pity- they shoot at their own forces. Fortunately, Defiant-class ships may not look like much, but they can take a pounding. That's What She Said!)

Best of all: Voyager still can't get home, but home knows where they are. They're not alone any more.

"Message in a Bottle" may be an unfortunate title when showcasing notorious drunkard Andy Dick. Still, I admired his character for fighting off his quite reasonable panic that he is out of his depth. He can't even crawl properly- he wasn't designed for anything he's forced to do. With the physical awkwardness and arrogance of a humanoid stork, there's much to enjoy about his performance. EMH Mark 2 is almost as funny as Clone High's Mr. Sheepman.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Waking Moments

*** (3 stars out of 5)
You got your 'Night Terrors' on my 'Schisms'! You got your 'Schisms' on my 'Night Terrors'! It's 'Nightmare on Voyager Street Part IV:The Sleepening'!

Neelix is boiled in a stew. Tom crashes a shuttle. Janeway fails to save her zombie crew. Harry suffers from the terrible fear that Seven of Nine will give him Borg Kisses (they're like butterfly kisses but with more unwelcome probing). Tuvok has the Naked at Work nightmare.

Speaking of dreams, I've decided this was a missed opportunity for me to see Torres having the Naked at Work nightmare.

And speaking of forgotten uniforms, Torres is suddenly wearing the engineering smock equivalent of Dr. Crusher's Season 4 Lab Coat. It's in the replicator menu under 'Nothing To Hide, Definitely NOT Pregnant'.

A race of perpetually sleeping aliens, tired of being harassed by 'Waking Species' built a machine to force interlopers into a shared dream state and thus take them prisoner. They built a machine, you understand. In their sleep, no doubt?

I don't understand how this unnamed, absurd race was created by the series SCIENCE CONSULTANT.

How do they reproduce?! How do they EAT?  WHO DRESSES THEM?!?

They're lying in ROWS, for Spock's sake! How would that ever HAPPEN?

Of course, if you need a Dream Warrior, you probably can't do better than Chakotay, who uses Lucid Dream technique to save the day when no one else can wake up anymore. If there is something worth three stars here, it's Chakotay. (Although, the audience can't see anything below Tuvok's waist. Maybe I spoke too soon? Are there three stars worth... IN HIS PANTS?!?)

As Janeway says in "Waking Moments", 'Sometimes First Contact is Last Contact.' We can only hope.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Sane enough to stand trial on Starbase 625, Dukat is heading there with prosecution witness Captain Sisko. We will never know what the Federation would have decided to do with the Lizard Hitler who made the hover-trains run on time. Eternal POW? Treatment on Elba II or Tantalus V or wherever folks whose cerebellums have sprung leaks end up these days?

I can think of a few million Bajorans who wouldn't mind very hard if the authorities offered him an all-expenses paid trip into a nice warm star. Still, the true secret of the universe is that no one gets everything they want. The crew of starship Honshu for example: mostly died while Dukat and Sisko survive and wind up stranded together on a jolly holiday in a miserable cave.

The Cardassian delivers nourishing soup and savage beatings to his injured foe. Dukat needs the captain to acknowledge his mercy and compassion to the planet Bajor. O.K., so he hates the very sight of them but he improved their world, didn't he? Digging huge holes in it? Watering the soil with the blood of millions? And improving the gene pool by fathering his bastards?

Isn't it unfair to call him an evil monster whose choices cost him his daughter's life? Isn't it really Kira's fault? And Weyoun's? And Damar's? At least those are the ghosts he sees and talks to whenever Sisko isn't offering the right answers to his one-sided conversation.

Watching conversations about and including torture, cruelty, misery and madness are not really my cup of meat. Give me a meaningless meandering lightsaber duel any day of the week! That blathered, "Waltz" is well performed and very eerie, so your experience may vary.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Magnificent Ferengi

**** (4 stars out of 5)
What with all the war heros around, Quark's financial victories in the arena of squill syrup and groat cakes (though described with a showman's flair) are not enough to get the Ferengi anywhere near a woman's groat cakes.

Fortunately for Quark's bruised ego, the Jem'Hadar have nothing better to do than kidnap the Nagus' girlfriend on her way back from a lobe lift on Vulcan. Rather than worry about the PTSD the Vulcans must suffer from dealing with Zek or Moogie, we're focused on Zek's problems today. The Nagus actually CARES about Ishka and set her rescue reward at 50 bars of latinum. Granted, that's like a modern man offering many THOUSANDS of dollars when he personally has many MILLIONS, but let's not kid ourselves. If a Ferengi is willing to PAY MONEY when it's a mere LIFE at stake- he cares. Big time.

Quark, puffed full of Ferengi pride, assembles a motley crew of family members and murderous lunatics (often the same people) and sets up a prisoner exchange on Empok Nor. Kira owes Quark her freedom recently, so she arranges to trade Vorta POW and rat-bastard Keevan for Ishka. When Rom accidentally lets slip that the total reward is higher than Quark promised the others, however, the squill hits the fan. Keevan is killed by vagrant Gaila, aiming to shoot cousin Quark. Leaving them without a bargaining chip.

"The Magnificent Ferengi" will have to save the day because Vorta Iggy Pop's Lust For Life does not extend to Ishka, beauty tips notwithstanding. You'll believe a Ferengi can raise the dead when Nog uses Starfleet engineering know-how (well, kind of know-how) to prop Keevan's corpse up like a Comic-Con re-enactment of Weekend At Bernies 2. Is anyone, even a weak-eyed Vorta, going to buy it? Literally. Are you buying it? It's for sale.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mortal Coil

***** (5 stars out of 5)
In which Neelix dies and is revived by Seven of Nine's Do-Anything Mystical Magical One-Size-Fits-All Nanoprobes. However, the story and the acting is so good I would forgive it this. I would forgive it nearly anything.

Struck down on a shuttle mission during the Talaxian holiday season of Prixin, Neelix gets high on life and sings Wookie Life Day carols with Carrie Fisher, who also gets high. Sorry, I'm thinking of something unrelated.

After a record-breaking period of death, (18 hours) Neelix is resurrected with a bloodstream full of Borg. (Would now be a good time to regrow his other lung? Just asking.) In fact, this is my favorite use of Seven of Nine so far: as the well-intentioned genie who brings you back to life whether you'd rather or not. Florence Nightenborg also mentions that the mighty Kazon were 'unworthy' of assimilation. Apparently Locutus' assertion that the Borg "wish to raise the quality of life for all species" only applies to species that don't suck.

There's a two year old blonde in Neelix's life again, and THIS time he's not dating her. Ensign Wildman's daughter Naomi trusts our hero to drive the monsters away and tell her a bedtime story. He relates the tale of the Great Forest; a beautiful glade at the heart of the Talaxian afterlife, where all your loved ones wait for you.

Until today, this idea gave Voyager's Chef/Ambassador enormous comfort. But after 18 hours, he didn't see any of his moonful of dead kin anywhere. In fact, it's not looking promising for the afterlife at all. In another of my favourite moments for Chakotay, the first officer guides Neelix on a vision quest. But although his dead sister speaks to him: it's only a hollow mockery from a crumbling skeleton.

And it's going to take more than visions for Chakotay to talk Neelix down when he wavers on whether his renewed life is worth living at all. It's going to take a story that needs telling and a child that needs tucking in.

"Mortal Coil" was a profound emotional experience. Astonishing stuff from Ethan Phillips and Bryan Fuller. Thanks, Space Hedgehog! Thanks, Pushing Daisies Guy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Concerning Flight

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Want your very own Leonardo da Vinci hologram?

Why not steal one? I mean, if you've already stolen a translocator (which, if you'll recall, is like a long-distance transporter that punches easily through shields and dices tin cans.) And if you've also stolen a starship's main computer and Portable Holo-emitter. After all, a bushy-bearded 15th century artist should be useful to your alien criminal empire! Why, just think of it! He could... um... AND he... well...

O.K., so I can't think of anything, either. But he makes a great conversation piece and he doesn't eat much at all!

Thankfully, Janeway instantly catches the crooks napping and snatches back her simulated hero (and, one would think far more importantly, the one-of-a-kind emitter). Still in character as da Vinci's apprentice, she drags the delightful but not very useful archaic genius along on her hunt for the main computer (without which, you'd think, Voyager wouldn't be up to any tricky maneuvers except falling out of the sky). Hampered by Leonardo's many pompous questions, the Captain does not avail herself of the easy option of putting him on "pause" and just pocketing the emitter. But, of course, there's no need for efficiency: the bad guys can't shoot straight anyway.

"Concerning Flight" makes reference to "Requiem For Methuselah" when Captain Janeway says Captain Kirk claimed to have met da Vinci. A neat trick, since Spock erased Kirk's memory of the whole thing. Which thankfully implies that Spock must have thought better of his action, and perhaps more thankfully, that jerk-bag Flint must have died or Kirk wouldn't have blabbed about it. Of course, it's also a little bit "The Savage Curtain" with our illustrious Captain getting to pal around with her historical idol the way Kirk did with Lincoln.

What weird hat will Gimli wear next? Gimli fires a phaser! Gimli rides in an Ewok hang glider! I'm not immune to John Rhys-Davies many charms. The man can elevate any material. He was in Sliders, after all.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Statistical Probabilities

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Starfleet therapist Dr. Loews separated four rare problem mental cases from 'The Institute'. Jack be very nimble indeed, with a double-helping of high-speed blurting and paranoia. Lauren be horny, very possibly an actual Hall-and-Oates-style Maneater. Patrick be childlike and bipolar. Sarina be pale and silent. It's like 'The Big Bang Theory' vs. 1989's comedy 'The Dream Team', only without the joie de vivre.

Loews hoped Bashir might find common ground with them, as a fellow genetically engineered "mutant". Seemingly, it isn't just that Voyager is pressed for living space with Seven of Nine: the mentally ill really DO live in cargo bays now. Way to go Federation! Is the only improvement in nuthatches since the 18th century that the inmates are no longer regularly beaten for the amusement of a paying audience?

Anyway, in seconds of listening to Damar speechify, the marginalized freaks have gleaned his history as the pretender to the Cardassian throne who killed the princess.

Bashir engages the geeks in studying holographic war records. Jack learns Dominion-ese in a morning. Patrick follows their body language to divine their desire to acquire the Kabrel system. Sarina draws the chemical formula for turning Kabrel fungus into part of Ketracel White. Christopher Lloyd is a patient who thinks he's a psychologist!

Sisko takes the stochastic predictions to Starfleet Command. SFC likes their ideas so much they agree to have them consult on classified battle readiness. The results are not encouraging: There is, statistically, no way to win the war. If they fight- 900 Billion Federation casualties. If they surrender- a mere five generations of Dominion rule and eventually a better, thousand-year Federation. Also potato chips will be 20% less fattening.

Bashir pushes for surrender to save more lives, but Sisko and O'Brien won't hear it. Not willing to leave it up to them, Jack attempts to leak the battle plans. The Alpha Quadrant would fall in a few weeks with 2 billion dead instead of almost everybody. Plus there'll be time left to go count Tongo cards in a Ferenginar casino!

I really like "Statistical Probabilities", especially Jack. Violent, twitchy, treasonous Jack. He's so well-meaning! Of course, his good intentions would have gotten everyone killed, but they probably should have thought of that before they made him.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Random Thoughts

* (1 star out of 5)
Too much TV and comics make you violent, kids! I read it someplace. No, I tell a lie. It was probably on TV. Nobody READS when they've got TV. (Also TV makes me lie.)

On the peaceful planet of the Mari, a society of telepaths gets along just fine, unless somebody has an unkind thought in their head. In which case, all hell breaks loose. Beatings for everyone!

Neelix has just met a Mari girl with big melons to squeeze, and she really wants to tug onhis whiskers. Somehow, these are not euphemisms. Unfortunately, before he can make her his newest child bride she is murdered by some random nobody who passed near our resident Klingon.

Torres' excitingly violent thoughts were stolen for Home Distribution in a process sometimes known as Vile Sharing. As the originator of the thoughts, B'Elanna is the condemned criminal here and scheduled for a brain purge. Tuvok works with the uptight lady cop from "The High Ground", AKA B'Etor's identical cousin, to try to prove Torres' innocence. Or something. When the crime is 'Thinks Too Loudly' there's not much wiggle room.

Undercover Tuvok shares some of his own deeply buried nastiness and freaks out the back-alley Illicit Idea dealer. Apparently Tuvok saw the last two Star Trek movies and even Event Horizon! His thoughts contain several scary clips, as many as five! A PG rating at least! I'd half expected to see Dexter Remmick's head explode again in flashback, except it could be hard to justify Tuvok having been there to see it.

"Random Thoughts" is pretty much a re-hash of Voyager's own "Ex Post Facto", only without any of the noir style or charm. And this from a guy who likes B'Elanna to the degree that can earn restraining orders. The story slogs along without surprises or insights and ends on Seven of Nine clucking her so-superior tongue at human folly and Janeway's snappy comeback, as usual, is essentially  'Mommy's tired, so just do what mommy says! Now go back to your cargo room and watch TV.'

Friday, January 11, 2013


** (2 stars out of 5)
What a great teaser, though! I forgot which episode this was, the title didn't stand out at all... and then BAM, in beams EVIL Bariel. Crossover!

Kira lets the scoundrel kidnap her with his powerless phaser, then takes him back to her place to check his other weapon. IN HIS PANTS! Of course Kira falls for him: he's mad, bad, dangerous to know, a liar, a thief... and he's dressed like a vicar. What's not to hump... uh, like? If Odo gets to shtup Fluid Floozy then Kira needs a little Sinful Something-Something too!

Somehow the presence of a guy from the Mirror Universe causes no one to go on the alert. Odo, Worf, nobody is looking over their shoulder to see if any power-hungry Alley-Cat Nutcase versions of Major Kira have snuck in on tippy-toe like some sexy Grinch?

Well, of course I mean the murderous Intendant Kira! And of course she did. She's brought in a Ringer, a copy of Bariel Antos to distract local Bumpkin Kira and steal the Orb from the Temple Promenade. It sounds like Mirror Bajor doesn't have any Orbs. The Intendant is convinced that 'The Orb Bearer' will unite the people of Mirror Bajor in a common faith and lead directly into a holy war against the evil Alliance. Isn't she banking rather a lot on a total unknown? What guarantee does she have that this new religion would suddenly catch on? For every Catholic Church there must be hundreds or thousands of Raelians. And who wants Sardaukar legions, anyway? What a hassle!

Dax starts the episode "Resurrection" by trying to get Kira to cast her dating nets a little wider. Maybe a guy with a transparent head or a third eye could have could good qualities, too? (Or even a certain long-term buddy in law enforcement who fits into a jam jar?) But Kira is so conservative she actually knocks boots with a dead ringer for a dead lingerer. Sometimes... you just have to move on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Year of Hell, Part II

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Am I really the only one who thinks a nebula with greater atmospheric pressure than the ship is a terrible place to hide?  I ask because in any science-based universe, when ONE atmosphere comes up against anything less (like, say, your basic nebula) the air goes OUTSIDE. Today the poison gas leaks INTO Voyager like it was a damn submarine.  Mainly so our beleaguered crew has something to do other than stare in silent rage at each other month after month. The intrepid Captain sears her lungs on this gas, and then the rest of her in a fire. If only she'd let some maintenance people stay behind!

Captive but well fed on many extinct cultures' finest foods, Chakotay tries to talk sense into Annorax. Would he mind terribly not erasing everyone so much? The answer, predictably, is no. The Krenim Obsessive will not stop until every blade of grass from his original time is restored. And by grass he means his wife. She was lost in what Annorax believes is the universe punishing him for totally changing time. But is it paranoia when the universe really IS out to get you?

Having gone blind saving Seven from a torpedo, Tuvok continues his daily routine. For some doubtless LOGICAL reason, he shaves with a straight razor the size and shape of a Klingon Bat'leth. I just can't imagine what that reason might be. Maybe the little blue cubes run out of charge? Maybe this deadly Vulcan follicle remover is nostalgic as well as tempting decapitation? Or maybe Tuvok just wants to look freakin' bad-ass.

Speaking of which, the solution lies in an act of self-sacrifice that restores order at the cost of the Captain's life. For the fifth time in the series, no less.

Janeway hurls her ship into the inferno, and makes the Unhappening Machine Unhappen. The cat's out of the box now! Butterflies are springing back to life! And no one will remember, because the entire year was a hoax, a dream, and an imaginary story to boot. Well, to RE-boot, anyway.

Maybe you'd never know it from the complaining, but "Year of Hell, Part II" is a tale I really like. This and others like it prevent me discarding Voyager. Just when I've lost interest, gems like this one shine through. The premise is sound, the villain oozes malevolence, and goodness triumphs. Most of all I love the moral: put down your obsessive work every once in a while and appreciate your loved ones right now... before time takes them away.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Are Cordially Invited

***** (5 stars out of 5)
The station is now the Headquarters of the Ninth Fleet (only six years after it obviously needed a fleet). Martok is named Supreme Commander which sounds a little pretentious for an Allied Fleet title, but just right for a Klingon, so who's counting.

Jake announces he has sold the rights to his first book, but this is merely an expression- as we all know that in Federation society no money has changed hands. Quark is so proud and irritated to hear about this that he offers a round of drinks "on the house"... which is also only a figure of speech.

Worf's marriage is a rushed affair so his son Alexander can be 'sword-bearer' before leaving on his new assignment. Perhaps this explains why Worf's human parents and closest friends from the Enterprise aren't there. (Or he just never invited them. A marriage that celebrates the Klingon hearts whose strength slew the gods may not be recommended for all denominations.)

For Jadzia Dax, joining the House of Martok requires the approval of Lady Sirella. Sirella doesn't remotely approve of aliens. Or Worf. Or Martok, for that matter. She doesn't see her husband very often and she expected him to have perished by now.

"I shall endeavour to die this year if possible," Martok declares amicably. In fact, this episode shows my favorite side of Martok. Henpecked Husband- AND LOVING IT.

Dax has to find a way to grow up a little, or at least drink synthehol instead of the stuff with the free hangovers. Worf needs to find a way to loosen up, or his human friends will surely murder him. Bashir and Sisko I understand, but O'BRIEN should have known that a Klingon bachelor party wasn't going to be any fun. Worf's the guy who has people hit him with sticks for his birthday. During all the sweating, starving, and bleeding, the men give up on a stripper in a cake and just start praying for cake.

"You Are Cordially Invited" to have a great time with this one! After six intense war-torn stories, they give us an intense war-torn comedy instead. Nog's dance at Jadzia's wild party is a highlight of pure gold. And, at long last, after all these decades: PROOF! TOILETS OF THE FUTURE when Odo and Kira repair their strained relationship by hiding in Dax's bathroom all night. Deep Space Nine doesn't get much better, and that's really saying something.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Year of Hell

**** (4 stars out of 5)
This is probably among the last things you'd want to see looming in the sky. It's no Death Star, but it's the next worst thing. It's an Unhappening Machine. It makes thing Unhappen.

Having put his fiendish mathematical mind into the construction of the temporal warship, Annorax of the Krenim has been warping the space-time continuum for over 200 years. Stepping on butterflies. Poisoning 50% of all cats in boxes. Dividing Planck's Constant by Infinity to keep milk from spilling, spoiling, or needing to be cried over.

Actually, it's mainly for genocide. Preventing enemies of the mighty Krenim Imperium from ever having existed.  Today, for example, they exterminate the perfectly nice Zahl race before the Zahl ever had the chance to affably say 'Hi There' to the Voyager. Or compliment them on their shiny new astrometrics lab (which Seven and Harry built in between chasing each other pantsless through the Jeffries Tubes).

So begins a series of explosive excerpts from 73 days in 2374: The Year in the Merde. We've caught up to an alternate version of the future Kes saw in 'Before and After', full of torpedoes, fire, and general hardship. No, strike that: General Hardship posed a threat to the Krenim and was erased from history decades ago.

After months of pummelling, the scorched and blackened little starship with the flickering lights is finally abandoned. Possibly because Captain Janeway doesn't need a full compliment to run the ship anymore somehow, or more likely because many dozens of tiny, unarmed warp-incapable escape pods somehow stand a better chance against the despicable Krenim hordes.

It's the previously untried "Incapacitate the Foe With Side-Splitting Pity Laughter" Maneuver.

"Year of Hell" asks the big questions. Is Kurtwood Smith's villain named for Professor Aronnax of '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea', or the U.K. term for a gaggle of otaku: Anoraks? Either way, he's a Big Bad I can get behind 100%, a name worthy to be spoken in the same breath as Khan Singh and Darth Sidious. It's as true now as it was before: Kurtwood Smith is the cat's ass.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sacrifice of Angels

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Operation Wipeout is underway, with (if my math is right) about 400 Federation starships destroyed in the Battle to retake Deep Space Nine.

200 ships eventually get through, begging the question: exactly how many starships does the Federation HAVE, anyway? Answer: a lot less now. (Though, of course, some of those were Klingons, winging their way to glory in Sto'Vo'Kor, lucky stiffs.)

Speaking of divine intervention, it must be nice to be on speaking terms with the Almighty. Case in point: Captain Emissary's impassioned speech urging the Prophets to intervene in linear matters and save Bajor. Ever enigmatic, they do so, but they exact a game penalty: "The Sisko is of Bajor, but he will find no rest there."

In return for Sisko's deferred retirement, the entire Alpha Quadrant will not be enslaved... THIS week.

The Petulant Gods have spoken: all the Dominion ships en route through the wormhole vanish, Egyptian-Chariots-in-the-Red-Sea-style.

But there are some small victories without which the station would still have remained in enemy hands. Quark and Ziyal spring Kira and Rom from the hoosegow, and Odo stops linking long enough to save their lives. Well, except Ziyal.

During the Dominion's "Scurrying Away" Maneuvers, panicked Damar kills his boss' daughter and somehow fails to win Dukat's approval. Although this DOES drive Dukat insane. MORE insane. Insaner?

The "Sacrifice of Angels" turns out to be Ziyal. Which is too bad because now Garak will never know why she loved him. Indeed, why DID Ziyal love him? Why, he could be old enough to kill her grandfather!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Scientific Method

** (2 stars out of 5)
Once upon a time, invisible aliens made lab rats of a starship crew. But enough about the Next Generation episode "Schisms", we're here to talk about Voyager's rip-off adventure, "Scientific Method".

I'm sure I'm just being a dink. After all, alien abduction tales are commonplace SF tropes... the Vians from The Original Series episode "The Empath", perfect example. Which is neither here nor there. These particular unidentified douche-nozzles treat humans the way some humans of our day treat non-humans. That is to say: with the genetic equivalent of pouring shampoo into their eyes.

Janeway has unseen needles in her head. Chakotay and Neelix are wrinkling up like old prunes. Torres and Tom are making out all over the place, although this may not have anything to do with the undetectable monsters.

Escaping erasure, the holographic Doctor hides out in Leo da Vinci's drawing class, and modifies Seven of Nine's artificial eye to see the villains. The lady drone saves the ship (except the unmourned random mustard-clad Redshirt Lass whose blood vessels all burst at once). Thanks, TV.

To prevent or cause more deaths, Janeway drives the ship into a pair of deadly pulsars to scare off the heartless bastards, in a very, very gutsy bluff. IF it was a bluff, and not a genuine suicide attempt. Either way, it's got real intensity and the actors all seem to give their best to a very hum-drum run-around. In other words, Voyager's new status quo. And, yes, one of the review stars is for Janeway in a towel. If all else fails, show some leg. Or Robert Picardo in jeggings. To each his own!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favor The Bold

 **** (4 stars out of 5)
Morn smuggles plums... sorry, I mean plans. The brown cucumber background dweller brings a secret missive, off the station, to Captain Sisko. The Dominion has finally unjiggered Rom's jiggery-pokery with the wormhole. Starfleet masses to retake Deep Space Nine before all is lost.

To that end, Nog is promoted to Ensign. Take that, SCHOOL! See? Put on a good war and the surviving kids will advance in half the time!

Weyoun was made by the Founders, as you know. Vorta like him have great hearing, and terrible eyesight. They aren't soldiers like the Jem'Hadar, so they didn't NEED good eyesight. If that sounds cold and horrible, Vorta also apparently didn't need a sense of aesthetics. Is there in truth no beauty? Don't ask a Vorta. Neither one matters a plugged chunk of latinum to them.  Says a lot about the Founders in my view. A society with no love of art is nowhere I want to be.

And the Founders' undesirability as galactic elite is further illustrated in their representative and her relationship (and relations) with Odo. She perceives her people as guides to the lesser races. This "guidance" will include breaking the solids of their love of freedom.

Case in point: Rom. Texas isn't the only government willing to execute the mentally incompetent! Ziyal's pleas to her father Dukat to Free the Ferengi fall on deaf ears. And any Vorta who can look Leeta in the pouty face and still flip the switch on her hubby really doesn't have an eye for beauty.

All looks bleak as 600 good guy ships face twice as many oppressors. What, to use the vernacular, will Cosgrove DO?

"Favor The Bold" has some of the best starship fleet effects to date. Of course, it's only the penultimate episode of the arc, and they've saved some for next time. Thankfully, my weak eyes are sufficient to activate my sense of aesthetics when it comes to SPACE LASERS!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Behind The Lines

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Having not heard Jim Kirk say "Don't let them promote you", Ben Sisko is kicked upstairs behind a desk as Dax takes the Big Chair on the Defiant. Captain Sisko started a ritual of applauding their battles by saving each and every spent phaser power cell. Dax continues this. Also, for good measure, she saves all the empty TP rolls.

Kira and Rom start a riot by stealing and losing Cardassian Glinn Damar's contingency plan to poison his Jem'Hadar allies... losing it right next to his Jem'Hadar allies. Is it any wonder the man's become an alcoholic? Or at least too drunk to keep from blabbing his schemes to Quark?

Because if Damar gets rid of Rom's minefield, 'Freedom Fries' are going to have to be re-named again.

The Lady Founder (though how can you tell? and would it make any difference?) drops by for some mingling with Odo. She hasn't got a name: she's simply a Drop out of the Ocean.

The fate of multibillions rests on Quark's idiot brother Rom sabotaging the Cardassians. But instead of backing him up, Odo is having, well... a jellyroll with the Founder. He's such a Mellow Jello afterwards that Rom's arrest, Kira's screaming, and all the people who are going to die, are simply shrugged off because it's not his problem. Whu-oh!

"Behind The Lines" has beautiful moments of character triumph and failure. Odo at his most passive- just letting injustice slide. Shrugging when reminded of the stakes: "I has nothing to do with me." While genetically ultra-selfish Quark realizes that his distaste for all the root beer in the Federation isn't worth trying to make nice with the Dominion. Beginnings and endings may get at the pomp and flash, but let's hear it for a strong middle third!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sons and Daughters

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Having dropped off Sisko's Sneaks back to Admiral Ross of Starbase 375, General Martok takes 5 new warriors aboard the Rotarran. Ginger, Skipper, Proffessor, MaryAnn... and Alexander Rozhenko.

Perhaps you remember him? He's a strapping lad. Nearly 9 years old? Ready to enlist in the Ancient and Justified KLF... uh, KDF. Klingon Defence Force, am I right? Rocking to the Rhythm in their Ice Cream Van? Anyway, he's eight. TOPS. And thus he's full-grown. But why in Gre'thor is he trying to be a soldier, asks Worf and everyone ever. "I learned it from you, DAD. O.K.? I learned it from YOU!"

And maybe you remember Ziyal? University lass? Maybe as much as 15 years old? Famed interstellar artist with a Deranged Despot Daddy? They grow up so fast.

A convoy to Donatu V needs Klingon bodyguards, but they're all pretty busy laughing at Alex gagging on gagh.

To hear Worf talk, Norpin (where Scotty had planned to retire) has falcons with astounding reflexes. Is that safe? Centenarians vs powerful birds of prey? I guess "plucked out" is one cure for glaucoma.

Dukat admits leaving Ziyal to die was an "overreaction". But he's making up for it now: by giving his daughter the sexy dresses Kira casts back at him in contempt. What a charmer!

Alexander resents Worf not having tried to contact him in 5 years. Is that Klingon years or Soap Opera years? Or Klingon Soap Opera years? I ask because we saw him not more than 4 Earth years ago, and he and his dad were getting along swimmingly. (Overly dramatic speeches and resentments came with the growth spurts.)

Martok and Worf finally welcome weak but determined Alexander into the House of Martok with some fun-filled bloodletting. (You know, Worf just lit a few candles with Jeremy Aster. Martok must be Klingon Orthodox.)

We HAVE to get these two crazy kids together! Their mixed-race Klingon-Human-Cardassian-Bajoran "Sons and Daughters" would probably reach adulthood in the 3 month gap between seasons! Eat your heart out, Ocampas!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Raven

** (2 stars out of 5)
Captain Janeway's swinging new hangout, Leonardo da Vinci's workshop, has an unimpressed visitor. Kathryn is urging her new Crew-Borg to explore her humanity with sculpture. Perhaps from sheer boredom, Seven of Nine's head begins to spin in circles while smoke and beeping noises start pouring out of her.

Before you can shout 'Danger, Will Robinson!', Seven has regrown her weaponized bits, bobs, and personal forcefields (though OF COURSE nothing too unsightly). She overcomes everyone and everything blocking her path, blows up the shuttle bay doors and is over the hills and far away before you can squeal UPN. The Voyager crew, clearly, have never heard of anesthizine, the knock-out gas commonly deployed on starships. What? Does she have lung shields now, too? Isn't it worth a TRY? Tuvok? Captain? Anyone?

Rampaging Seven immediately offends some easily offended aliens called the B'omar. They are not the same B'omarr whose monks stuff their own brains into spider-legged jars (that would be the Star Wars universe). The Star Trek B'omar are anal-retentive newts in football helmets. They count and monitor every blade of grass on every asteroid that approaches their territory. So you can imagine how much they love an unannounced mad Borg. Their eyes are on the sparrow... because they want to shoot it down.

Speaking of threatening avians, Seven of Nine is tormented by visions of Edgar Allen Poe's feathery chum while traumatically flashing back to the assimilation of her Mommy and Popsicle.

"The Raven", in my considered opinion, owes the rare moments that have any emotional impact whatsoever to inserts from co-writer Brian Fuller. I can't disparage actress Jeri Ryan, she's doing a great job. But Seven is a frustratingly, hair-pullingly overpowered Mary Sue character who can outthink a Vulcan tactician and saunter through a sea of security yellow while sleepwalking. The mind boggles that anyone could ever get the best of the Borg when ONE dozing half-drone makes them look like yam-and-turkey-stuffed mall cops.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rocks and Shoals

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Cadet Nog's third year field training continues to suck a Denebian Slime Devil's ass. But what do you want? There's a war on, you know. Welcome to 2374.

The Jem'Hadar shoot down Sisko's Sneaks. The infiltrators and the attackers both crash into a sea.

Back on the Dominion-occupied station, Bajoran Vedek Yassim hangs herself after worn-out Major Kira informs her they must make no protest. The Vedek's final statement to those on the Promenade: "Evil must be opposed."

Jem'Hadar Third Rema'tiklan chafes under the smarmy condescension of his injured Vorta handler Keevan. Nog still cringes from Garak after last year's creep-ery on Empok Nor, but the killer and the Ferengi Boy Hostage are soon equally captives of the lizard-men.

Keevan trades Garak and Nog for Sisko and Bashir. After the Doctor has micro-sutured his cells, Keevan tells his foes that he is out of ketracel-white. Without the drug, his engineered soldiers will kill everything they see, then each other, before they die of withdrawal. So Keevan is telling the Starfleeters in advance where to aim when he sends his dupes... uh, troops to their deaths.

Rema'tiklan refuses to disobey, or surrender to Captain Sisko, even knowing this. He and his nine men are loyal to the Founders. And thanks to that, they're loyally pushing up the daisies Lt. Neeley's burial detail planted over them.

"Rocks and Shoals" is great stuff, a day in the life of an interstellar war. Kira trudging to work every day, using the elevator with heaps of creepy lizard-men she'd rather make hand-bags out of. O'Brien's belly laugh that he came crashing down from the heavens on fire, paddled to shore on a roasting, barren wasteland, and that his biggest problem is that he's torn his pants. A slimy tactician who sells out his own troops, and troops who would rather die than turn against 'the order of things'.

However, did I miss the part where this slaughter was strictly necessary? Are Jem'Hadar immune to stun settings and restraints? Aw, heck, you know what?  They probably are. The Founders do excellent work, curse their jelly hides.