Sunday, March 31, 2013

When It Rains...

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Whenever I see Klingon Chancellor Gowron throwing his weight around I always think back to something I heard him say repeatedly in the ST:TNG VHS video board game: "YOU WILL EXPERIENCE BIJ!" (pronounced BEEEJ, means 'punishment').

And we're all getting punished today: Gowron's jealous of Martok's wartime prestige so he's moving in to take command and credit, Ross and Sisko order Kira to hang out with the fine, upstanding men of the Cardassian rebellion, Odo discovers he has the same wasting disease as the Founders, and Dukat goes temporarily blind. (Not from looking at Kai Winn in the buff, you understand, but from peeking at the devil's books, I guess.)

Sisko gives Kira a drab new uniform and battlefield commission so the Cardassians won't have to think 'Bajoran' while she's bossing them around. Although it's really her face that gives it away... so... whatever. She's not making many friends teaching Killing Cardies 101 at the Cardassian Learning Annex anyway. Also, it's easier to work with Damar and think of him as a hero if Kira and Garak never bring up the way he shot their friend Ziyal in the back.

Dr. Bashir has a scheme to learn rapid organ replacement synthesis from whatever Odo's made of. We'll never know if this payed off... except otherwise Odo would never have found out he was sick. Well, the 'crumbling to dust' would've been a clue, but doctors like to feel useful. Like the desk-bound PADD-pushers at Starfleet Medical: who wouldn't lift a finger if it might help Odo. A cure for Odo might get back to the Founders. And nobody wants THAT. The Founders might be grateful or shamed by Solids who show compassion or something.

As Bashir deduces, that hardly sits well with the solids who infected them in the first place: our old pals, the spooks at Section 31.

"When It Rains..." is continues the gripping saga with desperate humanity eager to throw the Founders to the wolves, Sisko forced to do the same with all his non-Federation peeps (except Quark, I guess), the Kai throwing her blind ex-lover into the street, and Gowron settling in drunk behind the wheel of the bus he's throwing Martok under.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


*** (3 stars out of 5)

No science fiction for you today! Or, more accurately, the minimum daily allowance of science fiction.

Captain Janeway gets to reminiscing, and the reminiscing causes flashbacks, but the flashbacks do not cause Kid Chaos to emerge from null space or Chakotay to start boxing.

Instead, here's a gentle, meandering tale of Janeway's distant ancestors in the distant year 2000 and how most of what she was told about them is probably wrong or made-up. Instead of a mighty astronaut in a private plane who conquered the moon and built massive erections with her own two hands and clever words Shannon O'Donnell was an ordinary engineer who ran out of gas in Indiana and (shudder) procreated with a crusty old bookstore owner named Henry Janeway. Along the way, Henry teaches Shannon to slow down, and Shannon brushes the cobwebs off Henry. Between the pair of them and his plucky lad Jason, they played an extremely minor part in occupying a Mars colony prototype-slash-giant mall still in place 376 years later.

Still, as Chaoktay reminds her: "She may not have known she had to live up to your expectations."

Also, it could be worse: they could have ended up like Harry's ancestor Jack Kim. In 2210, with a crew asleep in stasis, he made a 6 month trip to Beta Capricus. And in the 6 months slog back to Earth, he probably had lot of time to plan a murder against whoever thought there was a star there. Because there wasn't. You don't want to be the telescope guy who f-ed THAT up.

"11:59" turns the hearts of the children to their fathers, the hearts of the fathers to their children, and no bad thing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Changing Face of Evil

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Clearly, 2375 is not a good year to visit San Francisco. Or to visit Ben Sisko, who is bound to be in a terrible mood.

The Dominion chose well when they brought the Breen race into their war with the United Federation of Planets: a direct assault on Starfleet HQ is something not even the Klingons ever achieved. Those Breen are real go-getters! Very admirable work... uh, I mean, GO EARTH! These colours do not run!

As if his new wife semi-intentionally burning his beloved bell peppers to get even with him when he tries to make her take a vacation wasn't bad enough, Captain Sisko also narrowly avoids exploding at the biggest space battle setback yet. Scores of Alliance vessels (mainly Federation and Romulan) are struck down by a fancy-new Breen power siphon, including that brave little toaster: Defiant. The eventual owners of the Chin'toka system should look into the burgeoning field of salvage... once the plasma fires go out and the giant frozen clouds of red and green blood dissipate.

The female shapeshifter makes sure her troops let the escape pods do their escape thing. Lots and lots of demoralized enemies means spreading tales of Dominion bad-assery... somehow still very necessary at this late stage? This should stop that SISKO character fighting back... for about a week.

But what's this? Coming up from behind? Why, it's those heroic-slash-treacherous Cardassians. Instead of doing what they asked for and just handing Cardassia the conquered universe on a shiny silver platter, those Dominion jerks have mostly been riding to victory on the backs of seven million dead space lizards. Now the space lizards rise up against their re-branded oppressors when Legate Damar begins to speechify.

Bajor's Kai Winn is shocked when her assistant Sobor discovers her own personal space lizard, Dukat, is not all he claimed. Further discoveries on Sobor's part are necessarily limited when Winn discovers what substance is required to read ancient forbidden Pah-Wraith texts. Here's a hint: may contain platelets.

"The Changing Face of Evil" continues the rock-solid. slam-bag, gee-whiz, ka-blooey final chapter. Did I mention 'P-tchoo! P-tchoo!'? Because it has plenty of that, too.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Someone to Watch Over Me

**** (4 stars out of 5)
The Doctor's self-appointed mentor position in Seven of Nine's life takes a strange turn as he tutors her in matters of romantic love. (Frankly, I love the man's slideshow. Where the hell did he get a picture of Species 8472 making out? Was he hiding in the bushes with a holocamera during 'In The Flesh'?)

Having struck out with a hologram of superhero Arthur from 'The Tick', Seven tries her luck with Lt. Chapman, an affable if awkward descendant of Johnathan Hayes. For those in the know, Hayes was Captain of the 21st Century generational vessel EarthStar Voyager (no relation). Hayes was himself descended from Stephanie Speck's jerk ex-boyfriend from the early AI biopic 'Short Circuit'. Are you getting all this down somewhere?

Meanwhile, Neelix must play chaperone to a hedonistic, lecherous, "priestly" Kadi called Tomin. Instead of prayer and somber ritual the guy wants to find out how far down a bald, blue Bolian is bifurcated. Can our helpful hedgehog keep the former Kid In The Hall from passing out drunk in the hall?

The title is drawn from the song, since the hologram and the former drone sing together while he begins to unexpectedly fall in love with her. Indeed, this is the theme song of a hologram's unrequited love on Red Dwarf as well, which probably means something in the grand scheme of things, I just can't think what.
"Someone to Watch Over Me" is an adorable, hilarious, even slapstick rom-com that deserves all the praise I can heap on it. Remember how I didn't take to Seven of Nine? Well, I take at least a third of that back! The only thing that keeps this from being 5 stars is that the writers intentionally ended the romance before it got started. I think the Doctor would have been the best thing to ever happen to Seven of Nine.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


*** (3 stars out of 5)

Great Green Globs of Greasy, Grimy Malon Guts- and me without my spoon!

When a gloopy Malon Toxic Waste carrier ship springs a leak it threatens to seep theta radiation poisoning across the entire sector!? Really? SECTOR? How is that even possible? And here I thought the Gamelan garbage scow was filthy!

Speaking of filthy, B'Elanna Torres is a dirty girl. Dirty, dirty girl. What was I saying? Oh, right, she's spending the story crawling around covered in grease, grime and LETHAL RADIATION.

Because radiation is a serious matter, Torres strips down to a singlet. It's very HOT, you see? Why put on some bulky ANTI-RADIATION SUIT? When your life and desire to not mutate are at stake, always wear as little as possible.

Neelix gets into the act with his "Going Spelunking in a Haunted Barge Cat-Suit". I don't think this was quite as welcome, however.

What monster lurks in the dark, contaminated, Health-and-Safety-Regulation Forsaken engine room? Could it possibly be more like the Toxic Avenger? And is it possible Torres could take off more clothing before she beats it to death with a pipe?

Why even pretend that the Starfleet way includes a reverence for life if you never make use of the stun setting? Or ANY form of non-lethal sedations or restraints? No, as Michael Jackson always said: "Just Beat It."

"Juggernaut" is a draggy, one-star episode which ends with a two-star shower scene. Just the way I like... uh, sort of tolerate it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Strange Bedfellows

**** (4 stars out of 5)
The exciting and wonderfully serialized Final Chapter continues! Thot Gor of the Breen Confederacy meets with the Founder face-to-... whatever. Their alliance hopes to erase the Federation from the face of the galaxy. Also, as a minor point, the Changelings give some Cardassian planets to the Breen. Since Cardassians are an infinitely generous and forgiving people, this will never have any consequences at all.

Weyoun cages Worf and Ezri together, because he's a little too eager to watch some interspecies mating. What a wonderful creep! (Although the hanging upside down and barfing probably isn't part of it.) Unfortunately, they just TALK about their feelings and discover they aren't really in love. Poor Weyoun! Also, Worf breaks the Vorta Voyeur's neck, so... mood killer. Somebody uncork Weyoun 8!

Martok congratulates Sisko on entering the "long, grueling, intoxicating war" of marriage. In Martok's view, the husband wins some battles... and the wife always wins the war. Martok knows whereof he speaks.

Damar, tossed aside for the shiny new Breen, watching his people slaughtered in droves in a war FAR less fun than marriage, and accidentally sober long enough to trip over his conscience, frees Worf and Dax to tell the Federation they have an ally on Cardassia.

And enemies on Bajor! Case in point, Winn is doinking False-Faced Dukat, and the "Strange Bedfellows" conspire to play pin the End On The Emissary. Winn learns that her visions have been coming from the Pah-Wraiths. Farmer Dukat is shocked, SHOCKED that such a thing... oh, never mind, yes, he loves the Pah-Wraiths too, and isn't that better anyway? Kira doesn't think so: she recommends Winn step down from the Space Papacy and find her heart and soul again. Winn, however, doesn't like to lose. Stepping down feels like losing. No, I don't think she'll be doing that. Devil Worship it is!

Monday, March 25, 2013

'Til Death Do Us Part

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Kai Winn graciously insists that she receive the burden and prestige of performing the Emissary's marriage. And receives her first Prophetic Vision: or at least, they ACTED like Prophets! All cryptic and not-at-all Pah-Wraith-y. Close enough, right?

Ezri and Worf languish in a Breen cell, eating algae paste out of cans. The Breen interrogate them with a cortical memory probe. Worf overhears Ezri hallucinating that she loves Julian. So that's all it took to get Dax to admit it... brain damage!

The Breen give the odd couple to Weyoun as wedding presents on the eve of their alliance. To hear Worf talk, no one has Seen a Breen and lived to tell of it. (I guess Kira and Dukat averted their eyes for modesty's sake while undressing two Breen guards back in 'Indiscretion'.)

Damar (first among the subjugated Cardassians) drinks himself to sleep, and for symmetry he drinks himself awake, too. He's helped that loony-tunes Dukat get surgery to pass as a Bajoran- the Pah Wraiths have a mission for the mad despot on Deep Space Nine. Posing as a hayseed, Dukat's performance in Pink Face gets him in to see Winn. By hook or by crook, his cover story has all the right buzz words Winn needed to choose him as her spiritual guide. Also, the crook got his hooks into her. I mean in bed. Sex-wise. Avert your eyes now... and bleach your brains for safety.

Ben breaks off his engagement to Kasidy, trying to spare them sorrow and follow the Prophets. But soul searching and the arrival of her non-refundable Terrelian diamond engagement ring means the wedding is back on... no matter what the Prophets say. Sorrow it is!

"'Til Death Do Us Part" apparently had the writers pull the pin on the freakish romance of Evil It Couple "Wukat" a little too early, but it works. Their scenes together are dripping with crazy! Not sure which is cobra and which is mongoose, but some biting is definitely going on.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Sisko just bought land on Bajor to build the home he's been craving. And what's a home without someone to share it with? He proposes to Kasidy Yates and she accepts!

And all's well that ends well... (if only he hadn't as much as said 'Only nine episodes to retirement!')

It seems the entire populace of Bajor wants to come to the wedding of the Emissary, but not everyone's smiling. The Prophet Sarah (Sisko's half-mother) declares his destiny lies elsewhere. Once again, religion stomps all over sex and happiness!

Despite Picard's efforts at reconciliation, it seems the Son'a are still Dominion allies (Aw, that's too generous. I meant insignificant pawns) rather than all going home to their moms on Ba'ku. Nice one, Picard. Leave your mess behind for the stay-at-homes as usual! Also, still plague-ridden, the Founder known as Drop-In-The-Ocean has her Vorta doctors put to death. This encourages their clones to work faster. (Then again, devil's advocate here, why not simply MAKE the clones, PUT them in different labs, and TELL them their earlier selves were executed? Two for the price of one? Many hands make light work? What am I thinking? She's the VILLAIN. If she's not hampering her own recovery by irrationally killing her own minions how would I know who were the good guys?)

Ezri Dax loves to take a Gander... so she does. She steals the runabout (hastily re-dubbed from the long-ago destroyed Ganges to the Newfoundland river Gander) to locate missing Worf after everyone else had to give up searching. They find each other again, in more ways than one. After a night of arguing, getting shot down, and some ill-advised passion on Goralis (Yunga, Yunga!), they are captured by the mysterious Breen. No, not Ben Vereen. BREEN. You remember them? You don't? Well, that's what you get for skimming.

"Penumbra" is the beginning of the most ambitious (and, I would argue, successful) serialized story arc in Star Trek history. The nine final episodes of the niners! Turn off your telephones, ignore your families, and watch it all in one gulp with me, won't you?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Think Tank

** (2 stars out of 5)
A group of clever schemers will think you out of a jam... for a price. Like an intergalactic H & R Block at tax time. Free advertising! Only notice I'm not saying H & R Block are evil alien scammers.

The smarmiest nerd in the bunch, who appears and disappears at whim, is Kurros. As Kermit the Frog once said: "Introducing Jason Alexanderplutz! Yaaay!" Kurros was once, himself, the price asked of his world by these Cosmic Contemplators. Now, in order to think Voyager out of a concentrated assault by Hazari Bounty Hunters, Kurros asks for a basket of trinkets... with Seven of Nine on top.

Because we've seen from the opening teaser that these smarty-pantses, from the sculpture/robot guy to the huge grouchy whale guy, are willing to let planetary populations starve or be swallowed by earthquakes rather than forgive a debt, this is not a bargain most would enter into. Or, as Janeway puts it: "Their morality may be a little questionable." Right.

Me? I want to hear the story of how they cured the Vidiian Phage... and what they charged. But today it's the "paradox" of what to do about the trigger-happy Hazari "The Bounty Hunters With A Work Ethic!". Oh, what a surprise, the Geek Squad dressed up as Malons and HIRED them. However will they solve this sticky-wicket?

"Think Tank" asks me to believe that the Hazari can out-think Captain Janeway (who evaded hordes of Kazon for two solid years), but when we interact with them they don't seem all that bright. Also, it asks me to believe that these scam artists have been in business for hundreds of years without getting killed, screwed people over on a personal and planetary scale, even out-smarted the Borg... but implies that the Hazari will be able to beat them up. And just exactly HOW does a hologram (sorry- isomorphic projection) drink coffee? I didn't hear a 'splat' when he disappeared. I'd ask you to ignore the cheesy elements and focus on the story... but there's not much of that, either. I guess it's a warning to geeks who inherit the Earth not to become jerks.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Fight

* (1 cerebral hemorrhage out of 5)
Voyager is trapped in Chaotic Space, whatever the hell that means. Is it Subspace? Fluidic Space? Parking Space? No idea. Mainly, I guess it means that Chakotay (the man of peace) and Boothby (the wise gardener) suddenly have a back story together as Rocky Balboa and that squinty goblin that trained Rocky Balboa.

Chakotay has a holodeck boxing program so he can beat up Prince Goro from 'Mortal Kombat'. The EMH is disdainful of 'the sweet science'... what with all the mindless barbarism. (Even though he's gained gonads, I'd guess the Doctor never added testosterone, and therefore strife.) I'm with the Doctor on this one. Boxing seems even more stupid and self-destructive than most sports.

And so, our hero loves, and has retroactively ALWAYS loved, to punch dudes in his spare time.

Thanks to a Tyson Blow To The Dome (and/or Reconfigured Neurons or some wacky crap) Chakotay begins to hallucinate. It seems he has the gene for a cognitive disorder called sensory tremens (suppressed by modern medicine before his birth). The gene made his grandfather a kook whenever he refused to take his anti-kook hypospray. The first officer has always been afraid he might someday lose his mind... which is another reason he probably shouldn't bash it in for fun.

Chakotay communicates with Kid Chaos (whatever that means). By punching him (whatever good that does). Then everyone pretends this never happened. If only this was still the Silver Blood ship!

"The Fight" warps Chakotay from a pacifist and contemplative thinker who only fights when he must, to a dumb jock who likes hurting others. Was that a good idea? I come down hard on the side of 'No.' No, it was not. And if you'll recall, I LIKE Chakotay. So, if you don't like my review, you'll find me ready and willing to avoid engaging you in pugilism over it at any time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Grey the Federation is becoming, and grey the Romulans already are; clothes, buildings, and people. Grey-skinned "Gardener" Garak points out that the Romulan heart itself is literally grey, and one doesn't want to inquire just how he learned this. Garak finds Romulans 'unimaginative', and I find myself wondering what happened to the 'passionate people' described in the original series.

Federation-Protecting Quasi-Government Creepozoid Sloan from Section 31 (also grey) returns when Dr. Bashir is invited to a conference on Romulus. Sloan's Romulan counter-creep Fleckus Koval (You know? Identical cousin of Taibak? Tal Shiar operative who tortured Geordi years ago? Never un-grits his teeth?) is eager to hear the good doctor's thoughts on the horribly deadly Teplan Blight. Although not the cure, if any.

Sloan pits Bashir against Koval, gets our hero beaten up and mind-scanned, secrets are kept, people get shot (or DO they?), and a perfectly innocent Romulan woman (Cretak the Barbeau-Bot) has her career ruined and probably went to jail. Merely for trying to help Bashir keep the unsteady new alliance intact! Aw, who am I kidding? Romulans don't have jails. They sent her to NEW JERSEY.

Admiral Ross turns out to be a Section 31 patsy (or apologist) as well. He tells us the title is a Cicero quote meaning: "In times of war, the law falls silent". Bashir echoes Picard's dead prof Galen in accusing the Federation of decaying like the Roman Empire. Then they attend a toga party. At least, they might have.

"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" is intriguing intriuge-y intrigue. I love Romulans, I love Bashir, I love John Fleck. I'm not so fond of the 'compromised Federation' stories... but it's cracking good drama no matter how much I personally prefer optimism to cynicism.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Course: Oblivion

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Here Comes the Bride! Melting away inside!

Janeway finally officiates the marriage of Tom and B'Elanna. Frabjous day! Calloo callay! But, with eerie and ominous background music, the rice thrown in celebration falls in gloops right through the floors... and for once it's not just because Neelix cooked it.

In the sage words of Goofy: 'Sumpin' wrong here!' Everything's getting a little bit runny ever since they put in the super-speedy new warp core with its super-untested radiations. And I don't just mean eggs, noses, and stockings. Everything and everyone is falling apart.

Remember that stupid story last year with the Demon-class planet and the duplicates made of Silver Blood? Yeah... well... this is THEM. The Duplicates. They were copied so well that they made their own ship out of themselves and set sail for Earth before very inconveniently forgetting that they are not human and thus cannot survive things that humans could. (You'd think not being able to breathe oxygen on away missions might have been a clue.)

Pain, however, is not unique to humans. As Copy-tain Janeway says of Copy-kotay: "Duplicate or not, he was real to me..." When B'Elanna melts away, her Tom suffers for real-real. And she's not the last.

"Course: Oblivion" is touchingly tragic. I always feel so sorry for the poor, misguided Silver Blood. That said, it raises some fascinating possibilities for the last 18 stories. It's become entirely possible that some, a few, or ALL of the stories since last year NEVER HAPPENED. At least not to OUR crew. Which do YOU think  were fakes? I vote 'The Disease', 'Gravity', and 'Infinite Regress'. That solves my problems with Harry cheating, Tom urging Tuvok to cheat, and Janeway calling at least one race by their Borg number instead of asking them their name. UNHAPPENED! So... call that a win.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Bashir's friend Felix just doesn't know how to make a holoprogram without crazy antics. His "2013 Papacy Succession Beer Pong Bash" is legen... wait for it... dary.

The holographic Vic's hotel contains a jack-in-the-box character: a mobster named Frankie Eyes. He's bought the place, turned it sleazy, and roughed up our beloved lounge singer. Only a well-planned wacky heist can ruin the gangland goomba and save the day!

The Deep Space Nine crew rallies around their fictional photonic friend, devoting their off hours to solving the dilemma- within 1962 parameters and using only historical Vegas materials. (So no arming Cirque du Soleil with photon grenades, then.) Kira puts the make on Frankie Eyes. Kasidy and O'Brien compete to antagonize the guard into giving one of them a free strip-search. Bashir brews the ipecac, Odo distracts goons with his supple wrists, Nog cracks the safe, and Ezri wears skimpy clothes and slips the mickey to the guy in the count room.

It's Captain Sisko's job to ruin the mood by reminding us that Vegas was WHITE, WHITE, WHITE in 1962. Leave it to Captain Wet Blanket to disdain a fantasy game because of the LACK of period-specific racism.

Of course, Sisko's cause is just. You don't just forget how awful the past was just because it's been hundreds of years. Yet there must come a day when even a righteous grudge gives way to enjoying your present life. The Captain does eventually unclench- sharing the stage with the hologram Vic. Sharing the song in their hearts: 'The Best is Yet To Come'.

"Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" was all about rallying around a fiction and investing heavily in fantasy. AND HAVING FUN, DANG IT! Deep Space Nine was almost never comedic. Brilliant drama, great stories, fine performances, heady ideas... but usually pretty doom-y and gloomy. So here's to just having a blast. Like Vegas itself- hot, wild, inebriated fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Disease

* (1 tawdry star out of 5)
Voyager docks with a generational ship of distrustful aliens called the Varro.  Tom Paris calls them xenophobes, but they seem to be handling humans just fine. In fact, one of them is handling Harry Kim A LOT.

Harry's paramour is called Tal. Her first name is Darren... assuming she IS a she.  As their discussion of each other's unfamiliar groin-area wingus and dingus would have it: "The birds and bees would be very confused."

They're not the only ones! Before you can say 'Cheating on Libby Who?', Harry IS feeling guilty... about breaking protocol. Yes, really. Apparently there are dozens of rules about Sex in Starfleet! "The handbook on personal relationships is three centimeters thick," chirps Holy Mother Janeway. But it only makes sense that archaic regulations would be printed on archaic paper. (It's hard to imagine the Great Bird rubber-stamping THAT rulebook!) Also, you have to ask your doctor and your captain before you bump uglies with aliens.

Did Riker ever have to do that? Paris? KIRK? Did Chakotay have to beg Janeway to let him dally with that bounty hunter? Did Janeway fill out requisition forms for the EMH in order to suck face with the Devore Inspector?  557 Star Trek stories thus far and this has NEVER (so to speak) COME UP?! Frankly, I'm not buying it. But now it's canon and I have no choice. So listen to this ridiculous lecture with your fingers in your ears. Just like Riker and Kirk must have done...

Oh, in case you give a crap what Borg think, Borg apparently regard sex as a disease. No coincidence, since Harry does catch "The Disease". Unlike Earth crabs, these make him literally sparkle like a Twilight vampire.

Speaking of parasites, the Varro ship is riddled with metal-eating bugs. It's coming apart physically as well as socially. Since this has nothing to contribute to the primary story, and isn't remotely interesting on its own, I can only assume they ran out of sex stuff and just started padding.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Casting some doubts on the strength and permanence of the Kira/Odo romance is a straight-up shapeshifter bromance which is neither straight nor terribly "bro".

When O'Brien and Odo meet a mighty space fish swimming merrily along in the vacuum, they welcome one of the 100 missing Founder-baby cosmonauts aboard. That welcome comes with some pleasant-if-awkward linking, as well as some just plain awkward intolerance and violence.

The new shifter, Laas, is two centuries more jaded than Odo, and has the moral superiority of a beast who knows humanity's flaws all too well on a very personal level. He's had the bad break-up when he couldn't be the breeder his "monoform" lady partner needed, and when he literally lived as an animal he  was righteously indignant at the way humanoids obliterate the natural worlds.

Odo must choose between Kira (the best lover he's ever known) and the brutal honesty of a new partner with whom he has much, much more in common.

Throw in Quark's remarks about a 'Changeling Pride Parade' and the genetic-level horror that non-changelings feel toward the alien, and you've got yourself a 'hot issue' show. In fact, it's pure Star Trek.

"Chimera" is a well-performed, intelligent story I'm not qualified to judge in all its nuance. I enjoyed the more first-hand review of Carl Cipra on page five of this issue of the Gaylaxians Lambda SciFi newsletter, and a more detailed 2006 review by Stephanie Dutchen on Rene's Page. These days, I like to keep my mind open. I have less difficulty with unconventional relationships than I do with cheating on one's existing lover, so I'm dismayed more by Odo's wavering loyalty than the concept that he turns to jello for an older man.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dark Frontier

*** (3 stars out of 5)
An itsy-bitsy Borg scout ship is no match for a single Voyager photon torpedo beamed inside! So, naturally, they scoop all the bits up. This is the stuff that auto-regenerates, right? And latches onto mobile emitters and grows baby drones and seizes computer control, right? Sure, crawl around in the debris. Put it right up to your face. Yeah, that's right, lick it!

Hey, only 143 people on Voyager? Didn't Tuvok just tell Noss there were 152? Were they offering some more sight-seers a lift somewhere? Or have they been dying left and right from this foolhardy BORG looting?

To hear Tom tell it, the new world economy took shape in the late 22nd century and money went the way of the dinosaur. (It evolved, developed spaceflight and emerged as a Delta Quadrant superpower?) Fort Knox became a museum. Even the Ferengi who tried to break in back in 2365 failed. So... the one thing that seems clear is Earth isn't on the gold standard anymore. Everything else about current currency is still up for grabs. Is Earth using replicator credits? Energy credits? Good faith? Fairy dust? No idea.

Speaking of not thinking things through... Seven reads the logs of her insane exobiologist parents who set out to find the Borg ON PURPOSE. Let me repeat: ON PURPOSE. Magnus and Erin Hansen dragged their tiny daughter into the reach of entities that destroy planets and souls. ON. PURPOSE.

I'm guessing if they asked an El-Aurian about the Borg the El-Aurian probably said "Sweet Space-Jesus! Are you people NUTS? Why don't you dip your kid in honey and tuck her into the mouth of a space-bear? Look, that's crazy- why don't you do a dissertation on Bolians? Bolians seem nice."

The Hansens invented a life-sign cloaking device called a biodampener. This device STILL works! Despite the fact that the Hansens and all their ideas were assimilated 22 years ago. Or is it all a ploy?  The local Borg Queen, contrary to the Borg philosophy, claims to want Seven of Nine back more than she wants the other 142 crew combined. Why? What makes her so collectible? Is Seven the chase figure?

Janeway's answer when Naomi Wildman pleads for a rescue of the seemingly traitorous Seven is one of the best things the Captain's ever said: "There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew."

Chakotay believes the Hansens were overconfident. Janeway confidently assures Chakotay that she won't become overconfident.

The Queen claims Seven is the only Borg who's been restored to individuality. Uh... there was Locutus, Hugh, Lore's lost disciples... but best not to mention them if you need to butter Seven up for some reason. She wants Seven's help with that weak, paltry Species 5618 that keeps successfully resisting their direct assaults. Next plan: Earth's atmosphere seeded with nanoprobes.

And if that's what they want... well, Voyager stole one of their transwarp coils and got 15 years closer to home. That's kind of the same thing, right?

"Dark Frontier" is a feature-length event. which also gives us our first look at a Borg... city? Space station? Pretty cool. Lot of logical flaws, though. And I hate to say it, I'm getting bored of Borg.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Field of Fire

**** (4 stars out of 5)
In which Ezri Dax uses Trill mesmerism to have crazy conversations with her invisible friend, that murderer who lives inside her brain, Joran.

Who could be killing people at all hours with a ceremonial kill-a-ma-jig? By which I mean a primitive projectile rifle upgraded with (A) an exo-graphic targeting scanner to see through walls and (2) a micro-transporter in the barrel to beam the bullet right where you're looking.

Granted, I'm not a shell-shocked space soldier with homicidal rage and access to deadly toys that sate my lust for blood, but I can think of a lot of ways to have more fun with X-Ray Goggles. Well, one.

Speaking of perversion, I just have to ask: why does Dax (or any Trill for that matter) need this Rite of Emergence? I mean, talking to yourself is exciting and all, but these are HER memories. Aren't they just as good when taken internally?

But we'd wrap much quicker if Ezri just looked up and to the left (J.D. style) in silent contemplation for thirty seconds and declare 'I know who the killer is! Also, wasn't William Peterson amazing in 'Manhunter'?'

"Field of Fire" is the final contribution Robert Hewitt Wolfe wrote for Star Trek. 38 scripts from 'A Fistful of Datas' onward, and great work throughout. I thought this was thrilling and innovative when I first saw it, and I still really dig it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


 ** (2 stars out of 5)
Hey, it's a telepathic cloud-shark 2,000 km in diameter. Seven has never seen its like before! We have, of course, but we saw 'One of Our Planets is Missing'.

Everyone falls under the creature's spell and believes that only the best is happening- which is to say they got home to Earth and every terrorist is pardoned and every pie is rapidly cooling on every windowsill.  In the wise words of a member of the Mon Calamari Admiralty: "IT'S A TRAAAP!"

Only Seven is immune, because she's Seven. Also Naomi Wildman because... uh... she wants for nothing? As a half-Ktarian she doesn't have a sense of nostalgia? I really have no idea why Naomi is immune.

Whatever the case, W. Morgan Shepperd has been hunting the monster for forty years since it ate a ship-full of his family and friends. He's not in the mood for cuddling.

Tricksy and vastly intelligent though the beast must surely be, like the devouring amoeba from 'The Immunity Syndrome', it responds poorly to antimatter and spits them back up.  Even though, by crusty old Ahab's tale, it eats ships all the time, antimatter and all. Sooo... I guess... lucky shot?!

"Bliss" does not live up to its name, Mr. Shepperd's fine performance notwithstanding. Great effects on the beast's innards, but a story that seems very, very same-y.

 I'll tell you what Bliss REALLY is. Four years married to a most wonderful woman today! If she turns out to be a Siren on the Rocks or some devouring telepathic pitcher plant... well, eat away, baby, 'cause I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Emperor's New Cloak

*** (3 stars out of 5)
If you ever needed evidence that the Klingons abandoned their camera surveillance culture at some point after Errand of Mercy (and when WOULDN'T You?) then it is right here:

The most conspicuous pair of Ferengi brothers in the universe stroll into the flagship of the Supreme Commander's Seventh Fleet (offscreen) and stroll out with the most vital component. The Cloaking Device. Cloaked, naturally.

They're hoping to trade it for Zek's life. See, Nagus Zek stole the designs of a Mirror Universe transporter from Rom, and set sail for profit on the Kinky Side of the Mirror. (Maybe he's hoping Evil Risa imports whips and chains in bulk...)

(This cloaking device plan is only viable because the mirror-side Klingon-Cardassian Alliance have forgotten that they already HAVE cloaking technology. The villains ARE amazingly stupid.)

Quark was bending and bribing the ear of his Blessed Exchequer figurine praying for Ezri to be his bedtime pal this Xmas, when an Ezri DOES suddenly appear, but the grabbing and restraining are not all Quark hoped for. She's a black-hearted, black-coated mercenary. Also, she's gay.

Speaking of which, Mirror Kira kills her latest Ferengi out of half-hearted tradition. Poor, kind-hearted Mirror Brunt bears the brunt of her rage, while simple-minded Mirror Garak is offed by Lezri.

Will our not-very-heroes get home alive... and unspoiled?

"The Emperor's New Cloak" is DS9's final foray to the domain from the brain of the late Jerome Bixby is quite adequte to the task, and it's fun. Rom in particular is a welcome voice of reason in a dimension so unlikely that even VIC FONTAINE gets killed there... and yet it somehow stays parallel.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


* (1 star out of 5)
Is it possible Season 5 is Voyager's rock bottom? I sincerely hope so. It's been so long since I've sat down to watch them that at this point I have to fight to remember whether I even LIKE this show.

So, yeah... in the B story flashback, Tuvok had the heart drummed out of him when he was a schoolboy with a crush. Uh, hooray? I guess worse things happen to horny church kids sent into seclusion with creepy priests. But this is just not how I pictured the Vulcan Birds and Bees. Vulcan love is portrayed as private, not NON-EXISTENT. My case in point: Tuvok throughout the series plainly misses his wife and kids.

Stranded down a time hole after the most recent regularly scheduled shuttle crash, it's balmy desert island adventure like that old Vulcan novel Robinson Cruvok. Tank Girl stabs spiders with forks. The desert-dweller Noss spews girlish gibberish and has the hots for teacher.

Tom, for no good reason, spends an unusual amount of time and effort trying to get Tuvok to cheat on his wife. Did he contract a rare, temporary but highly dangerous form of the Iago Virus? It manifests either in jealous urging of happily married black guys to destroy their marriages, or in turning into a parrot with a piercing Gilbert Gottfried voice.

"Gravity" is the most I ever hated Tom Paris. Cruising for a bruising, boozing, selling out, but I never disliked him more than when he was trying to talk a man into cheating on his wife. WHY? Just... WHY? Voyager is making astonishing time WAY ahead of the 75 year schedule. It's been less than five years and they've already come HALFWAY. Even if their luck turns completely, Tuvok is very, VERY likely to make it home before his wife moves on. What kind of twisted jerk tries to mess with true love?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bride of Chaotica!

**** (4 stars out of 5)
The crew must play an over-the-top sci-fi adventure in order to stop a war being waged against energy beings by that darn holodeck. It's back in black (and white) to save the day!

I'm not sure that logical is what anyone was going for here, but that's the kind of Vulcan I am.

Why don't Tom and Harry TELL anyone the holodeck is broken... FOR THREE DAYS? No one ELSE had any play-time booked? No one even hung up an 'Out of Order' sign?  And why does nobody seem remotely sorry that 'Fifth Dimensional' alien explorers are ACTUALLY dying in droves at the meaty hands of fictional 1930's space villains? Of all the stupid reasons to go to war... because a couple of man-children couldn't shut off their video game?

Still, putting the pointless mass deaths of innocents aside, there's a lot of this story that's pretty hilarious. Janeway and her "scent"-mental pheromone pun. The "unimpeachable" President of Earth. Tuvok saying "STOP" to the telegram. Satan's Robot... just anything with Satan's Robot. I'm a sucker for a walking boiler with flailing arms. It ranks at whatever is below 'Pathetisad' in the Hierarchy of Robot Goons. Probably even R5-D4 could take him down, bad motivator notwithstanding.

And Martin Rayner chews exactly ALL the scenery as Dr. Chaotica. For years I've thought this was Rene Auberjonois (no insult intended to either gentleman) cracking the whip with his clunky microphone. A good Bad Guy makes all the difference (or a slinky Bad Girl, for that matter). Wonderful work.

I haven't yet seen any Flash Gordon serials, although I've enjoyed the 1934 comic strip. I HAVE seen some Buck Rogers from this era and "Bride of Chaotica!" seems to have gotten its homage bang-on.

There are better stories of holodeck havoc on TNG and DS9. But I don't think anyone ever managed quite this level of cornball delight. No two rocket ships are not on fire! Man the Death Ray! To Be Continued!?!?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Latent Image

*** (3 stars out of 5)
It really isn't paranoia if they're all out to get you.

The EMH discovers some undeleted photos that show a young lady he doesn't remember. He tries to warn the Captain about a possible Insidious Alien Infiltration of the Pleasant, Innocuous Women. But the Captain merely pats his bald head and promises to deal with it and keeps erasing his memory.

Janeway, apparently drunk or exhausted, back-peddles fiercely in her open-mindedness and says the EMH is more like a replicator than a person. This gives SEVEN OF NINE the opportunity to demonstrate a better sense of civil rights than her Captain!? Or does Janeway just create straw man arguments so Seven can learn and grow?

Either way, the Captain erased a trauma from the Doctor's mind 18 months ago in order to prevent the holographic equivalent of an emotional breakdown.

With the spines of Ensigns Harry Kim and Ahni Jetal disintegrating from an alien weapon, the EMH only had enough time to save one... and all other things being equal he picked the patient he LIKED better. The Doctor is unable to reconcile that choice with his ethics and professionalism, and his mind forms loops of guilt and self-blame.

At some point, I have to stop claiming Star Trek is ripping off Red Dwarf  (the episode where the hologram deals with the pain of erased memories) and admit that "Latent Image" as a concept was probably ripped off from "Clues" the TNG episode that ripped off Red Dwarf. That snarked, it's really well performed and Robert Picardo can do no wrong.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Prodigal Daughter

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Trill businesswoman Yanas Tigan runs the sector's sixth largest pergium mining company with a duranium fist. Not literally, but she does have a heart of stone. Or latinum, anyway. No, if she had a heart of gold she would have sold it.

And Yanas holds despot status over her worn-out children: hardworking foreman Janel, struggling artist Norvo, and Ezri. You remember Ezri, don't you? Ninth Dax host? Mentally addled psychologist?

Well, her horrible family doesn't live in paradise. They live in a big glass house dangling over a precipice, and today we throw some stones.

Their world (either Sappora VII or New Sydney or both, depending on how you take the vagaries of the script) is one of those polluted-looking crap-piles like Farius or Finnea Prime that 21st century audiences find familiar but which are always strange to see in the enlightened 24th Century. Incongruous obsession with money and power. Dysfunctional families. Hard hats.

I'm not saying you can't wear hard hats. Hard hats are cool. But, well, it's all very primitive, isn't it? Are we saying that the Trill AREN'T Federation members? Then why is greed such a motivating factor in their lives? Hasn't egalitarian technological and social harmony reached them yet? How many Federation planets really start to suck if you look too close?

Oh, and incidentally, who killed O'Brien's cat Chester's former owner's widow Morica Bilby? As if anyone cared.

"Prodigal Daughter" is very well played, if you like back-stabbing daytime drama (and I suspect if they added clones, robots, and flying cars that would be ME). Doesn't seem like Star Trek, but it's well played.

Friday, March 8, 2013

It's Only a Paper Moon

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Do you know the one with the holographic lounge singer and the one-legged crazy man?

There's no punch line. But it's one hell of a great dramatic episode from a dynamic duo.

Back from getting his biosynthetic limb and some adequate counselling, Nog is as physically healthy as he's going to get, but still on medical leave for phantom pain. The Ferengi engineer can't just HOP back into his life, forgive the flippancy. Not when there's a couch and a television.

As is his right, Nog selects an unorthodox location for his therapy: he MOVES IN to Vic's Vegas hotel and never goes outside anymore. (Either the holosuite replicates meals and disintegrates waste or that place is going to stink up real fast.)

Nog's corporeal family and friends timidly try to coax him back to interaction, while Vic just appreciates the company and the strange oppurtunity to 'sleep' and 'do paperwork'. Although he leaves the paperwork to the kid with ledger ink for blood.

When Jake's lady friend Kesha gazes a little too long at Nog's invisible impairment while calling him a 'hero'. Nog turns on her, barking rudely. Partly out of tradition, Nog has ruined Jake's date. But it's the first time he does so by punching his best friend.

Nog never quite clued in to his mortality before, and he can't face it yet. If the Jem'Hadar had fired a couple of inches higher, it might have been his head or something. "If I stay here, at least I know what the future is going to be like."

"You stay here," Vic says. "You're going to die. Not all at once, but little by little. Eventually, you'll become as hollow as I am."

When he's ready to rejoin reality, Nog arranges things so Vic is left on 26 hours a day. Get a Life, indeed.

I'm over the paper moon about Nog and Vic, I really am. They fancy themselves ladies' men, but for all the loneliness. "It's Only a Paper Moon" is exactly what I needed to hear at that time in my youth, and I still feel the truth of it when I revisit the story. Fantasy comforts us, but only our loved ones can truly sustain us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


*** (3 stars out of 5)
The paranoid goons of the Devore Imperium spend their time peering deeply into the crannies and crevices of Voyager.

"Gaharay" means strangers, and the Devore don't embrace them. Unless embracing them is part of their TSA-style gropes and pat-downs.

Devore are dead set against trespassing telepaths. Voyager's crew manifest mentions Tuvok, Vorik, Suder, and Jurot- from the Vulcan and Betazoid races. Telepaths. Harbouring telepaths breaks the Cardinal Protocol. Janeway claims they're all dead. But in fact, she's hiding them (and 12 other local fugitives called the Brenari) in the attic... that is to say, a risky transporter suspension.

Devore Inspector Kashyk (named either for the homeworld of the Wookiees or the delicious cashew nut) defects to Janeway... claiming to be helping them find a wormhole to escape through. They grill a fish man together (not literally) on the location of the slippery little "interspatial flexure". Kashyk tells a sob story of the little girl telepath he threw into the prison camps recently... and implying how she made him feel bad and change his ways.

Despite the smooching he does with the Captain, he is a douchebag. Fortunately, Janeway is no slouch in the bald-faced lying department.

"Counterpoint" is devoted to the proposition that deceit in the service of greater moral victory is acceptable and desirable. It could be easily argued that Captain Kirk understood this, and we recently saw that Captain Sisko takes it even further: his lies, bribes and conspiracy with killers are even now saving the Federation. I guess 'The First Duty' is just a Picard thing. For all the good it does him. Hooray for Lying!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Star Trek: Insurrection

** (2 stars out of 5)
And maybe two stars is generous. What the hell, Star Trek?

Data's emotion chip went from permanently fused hardware in Generations, to having an on/off software in First Contact, and now it's like burped tupperware- it's totally removable. Is this also what happened to the creator's brains?

Our programmable plastic pal has apparently gone coo-coo for cocoa puffs, running amok in a peaceful village in his invisible red footy pajamas. He exposes the dirty dealings of the Federation and a gang of cosmetic surgery disasters called the Son'a.  

Interrupted in the middle of what looked like a much better story (involving the diplomatic efforts of flower-munching bead-making fish-goblins called the Evora, and the way they're being rushed into Federation Protectorate status too quickly due to the war), Picard and company rush to Data's rescue. 

They are told to make it snappy while poking around the "Briar Patch" by Admiral Doughy... uh, Dougherty. I mean Beardface.  Riker and Troi start poking around and discover that the Son'a deal ketracel-white to the Dominion and keep two slave races. But who cares! It's just slavery. Riker and Troi start poking around each other and getting in bed together holds their attention better than why the Federation would ever get in bed with these rotting freak shows.

Picard and Worf chase Data down and catch him by singing to him. It is the last good moment in what begins to feel like a nine hour film. Round about then, they meet a race of hippies or dentists or hippie dentists called the Ba'ku. Data strikes up a creepy friendship with a tow-headed youngster, while Picard begins the most tepid romance of all time with the holier-than-thou agrarian leader Anij. Bland, bland Anij.

The Captain and Mr. Data discover a cloaked holoship of Federation design (because an invisible brick has the distinctiveness of the Federation written ALL over it). It was meant for Beardface and his Son'a Cronies to pull a Nikolai Rozhenko with, supplanting the Ba'ku and stealing the planet's metaphasic rings of eternal youth for themselves (and incidentally the billions of other sick and aged races). 

For the Fountain of Youth is what's behind it all. That's why Worf has a giant oily "gorch" on his nose,  why Riker and Troi have rekindled, why Crusher uses archaic slang like "boobs firming up", and why Geordi's eyes have grown in. Why Picard has started to mambo is anyone's guess.

But with billions of sick and wounded people like Geordi out there, Picard cannot conscience letting 600 self-righteous douche-canoes hoard immortality for themselves. He immediately supports the Admiral's plan and boots the Ba'ku from the Briar Patch for the greater good. What? He doesn't?

No, Picard takes the morally confused stance that the needs of 600 people outweigh the needs of the billions, and defends his girlfriend's village against relocation. In much the same way that he did NOT do on Dorvan V, resulting in every Maquis problem ever since.  (It feels a bit like he made exactly the wrong choice for the right reasons both times.) His loyal team of catchphrase-spewing cowboys and cowgirls set out to shoot things down and blow other things up until some sort of compromise can be reached. 

So, kiss your eyes good-bye, Geordi. Kiss your limbs farewell, Dominion-wounded Nog. Kiss whatever you can reach with your tightly stretched lips, undeserving Son'a. Nobody gets nothin' unless they're white, centuries-old know-it-alls who despise the very science and technology that has built Earth's paradise.

Say... that's true. Before they were Son'a (spoilers... but seriously who cares) the Son'a were Ba'ku. The Ba'ku eschew technology. So how did a handful of backward, vain, drug dealing slave owners get the science background to out-science the Federation?

How can you keep the Son'a down on the farm, after they've seen Paree? (By which I mean someplace with urban decay and wee in the streets, not the NICE bits of Paris.)

Oh, also the Ba'ku are magic time wizards or something. But slowing time down is the LAST skill you'll want if you're watching this movie.

I used to be a staunch defender of "Star Trek: Insurrection". 'O.K., it's slow, but it's charming! C'mon, you guys, look at those effects! What a sunny view! I want a pocket squirrel-seal! (Not a euphemism)' But it clearly wore out its welcome. This time I was not just bored, I was a little MAD.

What movie MIGHT have been made with this money? And would I actually be proud to have it on my shelf?