Friday, August 31, 2012

Through The Looking Glass

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Sisko sleeps his way to the top of the parallel universe. Oh, there's more to this, but that's pretty much the whole story. And is that a bad thing? Probably.

O'Brien kidnaps Ben at gunpoint, beaming him to the Mirror Universe. Of course, it's Smiley, who carelessly lost his previous Sisko and needs a new one.

The MU's Local Ben (full-on bastitch though he was) got a full-on rebellion going against the Evil Alliance before he full-on exploded. Our Ben has inherited a band of merry men... Merry Rom, Merry Tuvok, Merry One-Eyed Dennis, Merry Dax. Amidst all the merriment, there was marriage, too:

Pirate Ben's estranged widow Jennifer is a scientist building a trans-spectral sensor for the Alliance that would doom all humans. I hope that job has great benefits. I hear Catsuit Kira poached Jen from Ming the Merciless.

Quickly giving up on any pretence that he doesn't want to interfere, Sisko seems to treat the whole experience like a dream or holodeck excursion. There's a Prime Directive, and a Temporal Prime Directive, but if there's a Parallel Prime Directive Ben isn't REMOTELY following it! Punch and shoot, shoot and punch, regular off-camera sex with duplicates of his co-workers, and finally pitching woo at a woman physically identical to his dead wife.

By sheer coincidence, my buddy Ron just ran Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' for me. If you should want the creepy vibe of the guy falling for a copy of his former lover. Not really my thing, as it happens. But at least Ben isn't forcing Evil Jennifer to wear her costume from 'Emissary'.

Mirror Garak's command to his troops to "Pursoooooo!" is my personal favourite over-the-top moment. Maybe from the entire series!

"Through The Looking Glass" with Mirror Sisko, and now Mirror Rom, added to the pile of dead characters that started with Odo and Quark, one wonders how this place stays "Parallel". But one does not wonder too hard. It's not a show about thinking hard. I like Dax lounging about in a tiny tank top as much as the next guy, but... I... what was I saying?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Distant Voices

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Having just turned 36, I find that Bashir's grumpiness about turning 30 gets funnier all the time. And sadder. No matter the number, you're only as old as you feel. And being old sucks butt.

A drug-seeking Lethean named Altovar fires Sith lightning into Julien's brain during a robbery attempt.

The world goes all cattywampus. The station's lights and computers are futzed, everyone's missing or acting strangely, and Bashir ages ever more rapidly. Altovar picks off the remaining crew one by one. Even ODO is reduced to a literal puddle in terror of the Lethean.

And like a certain Craven killer, one with a messed up face and knifey finger gloves built right in, the Lethean's got rather a lot of power over everything in this warped reality.  Bashir soon finds himself a tennis-playing centenarian limping around with extra-malevolent Garak not very helpfully at his side.

Soon a dabo girl is breathily singing 'Happy Birthday, Dr. President' while Garak sings 'Dem Bones'.
Can a Geriatric Kung Fu Hamster like Bashir get the better of the dreadlock-free Predator?

"Distant Voices" was an old-time favourite, and I do mean OLD time. This viewing didn't seem like a five star experience any longer, although I still really enjoyed it. Limping along on plantar fasciitis, I find it harder to believe that Dr. Bashir thinks he can hop around on a broken hip. But, what the hell. He's still a loveable hero and a better-looking crusty old bloke than Noonien Soong. Happy Birthday, Julian!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

State of Flux

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Ensign Seska attempts to rekindle a romance with Chakotay over some mushroom soup. When he learns she's stolen the repast in what she brags about as a Maquis operation, he turns them all in (including himself), cancelling their replicator rations for two days as punishment. And ten points from Hufflepuff.

Of course, Seska is rather naughtier than that. They renamed the episode from the working title 'Seska' because of a little thing I like to call spoilers. Anyway, it's all about Seska. That poor Bajoran girl who fought Cardassians with the weird, Cardassian-like attitude and the Cardassian-like blood who's always holding a spoon up against her forehead and sighing wistfully has a secret...

When Voyager responds to a Kazon distress signal it is too late to save a ship of fools who botched the stolen plans for a food replicator so badly they wound up embedded inside walls.

Who would give Federation technology to jerks like Kazon Maje Cullah? Didn't we already cover technology sharing yesterday and exactly how everyone feels about it? How Janeway feels, how Tuvok feels, how Carey feels... hey, Chakotay, how does SESKA feel? A little scaly, you say?

Cullah plays the identity of Voyager's traitorous inside man close to his fuzzy Muppet vest, even poisoning his own goons rather than risk Janeway figuring it out too early.

"State of Flux" has great character moments for Chakotay, demonstrating the fierceness of his loyalty. And the traitor is very suitably chilling even if her identity could not have been more clear if she had worn a hat proclaiming her the Mayor of Obvious Corners here in Obvious County.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Prime Factors

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Gath of the Sikarians offers a shore leave on their lovely planet.  He's clearly offering more than a new wardrobe to Janeway. I've heard of Eurotrash, but I guess this guy's more of a Eurojerk.

Harry's date Eudana whisks him away 40,000 light years to bask in the euphoria breeze on Alastria. This spacial trajector could get Voyager halfway home! But the Sikaris Canon of Laws forbids any sharing of tech with less advanced cultures for fear of its misuse. They're also not big on file-sharing.

It's a crappy-ass rule, but Janeway points out that people on the wrong side of the Prime Directive feel exactly the same way. Also, pirating is wrong for a reason, people!

The Sikarians are nutty for stories, and with official channels closed, some guy named Jaret offers Harry a trajector for a copy of all the literature on the Voyager. And all the bacon and eggs they have. 

Janeway refuses to break laws, even a jerk's jerky jerk laws. Tuvok, therefore, does it for her, and Torres, Seska, and Carey rig it up to the ship behind the Captain's back. At last! The crew is getting along... as one jolly, cohesive, mutinous family.

When it doesn't work, Torres and Tuvok sheepishly admit their actions to Janeway. Torres gets the 'I'm disappointed, and next time you screw up you lose your job' speech, while Tuvok gets "You failed me as a conscience, your logic sucks, and your kung fu is weak".

"Prime Factors" travels well, but I was surprised to discover how much COOLER it could have been. Original writers David George & Eric Stillwell proposed that the superior alien race be the ones who sent Gary Seven on his 'Assignment: Earth'!  Able to beam all across the galaxy, they'd have been a great idea for a recurring villain: a batch of morally holier-than-thou types who are really only out for their own gratification. It seems I can blame producer Michael Piller for pulling their hedonistic pants up (so to speak), and removing the shout-out to the Original Series. The real shame is the villain part: I've barely begun this re-watch and I'm already pretty sick of those lackluster Klingon knock-offs called the Kazon all over again.

Monday, August 27, 2012


** (2 stars out of 5)
The 247th element known to Federation science, found in a planetary ring, turns out to be a byproduct of decomposition. So if it would make a good energy source (or breakfast cereal), we'll never know. Our heroes, especially Chakotay, won't desecrate graves for their own benefit. Rightly so. That would be like putting dead people into their engine! What jerk would ever do that?

Harry Kim is lost down a subspace vacuole, landing in some screwy techno-coffin on the homeworld of the Vhnori. They send their dead through it: our dimension is their afterlife.

The Chief Thanotologist (Mark Twain's identical cousin) explains that the Cenotaph pre-emptively kills to coincide with the opening of the ruptures. Good thing everyone's 100% certain they lead to heaven!

What did the Vhnori do before Cenotaphs were invented? Did they just throw the dead into the Ruptures? How in hell did THAT get started? Hey, there's a weird hole in the air, I'ma gonna toss Grampa into it! Hur hur durp!

Vhnori wrap themselves in INHERITED death shrouds. First, ick, Second, exactly HOW does this shroud stay behind?

And Federation medicine can apparently sometimes revive the dead after several hours. Well, thank goodness when Captain Kirk died of simple crushing injuries recently that Picard dragged his body up a mountain to bury instead of to a starship to make a revival attempt... oh, wait... that's not good at all.

"Emanations" tells us Voyager's sensors can scan neural energy escaping a Vhnori body at death! They have, just listen: A MACHINE that routinely measured BRAIN WAVES lasting BEYOND DEATH. So... what? Does that mean only dead Vhnori do this? Or does this happen when a human dies and Star Trek has just never mentioned it before or since? That would be rather useful to know about 'emanations'... or 'soul farts' as I like to call them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)
Chief O'Brien takes a radiation blast in the face, and shrugs it off with a dollop of old school hyronalin, yo. But the lingering effects keep tossing him a few hours into the future, for a tiny glimpse of what he's about to do... in 5 hours time. (Time in the Star Trek universe seems like an extremely accessible, infinitely malleable dimension. Pick up the wrong fork- travel through time. Lean against a dimmer switch exactly on the quarter hour- travel through time. Sneeze and hiccup at the same time near a warp core- kiss the universe good-bye.)

Meanwhile, brusque Romulans try to wring out of Kira every scrap of information they can legally find about the Dominion. Drunk Klingons are picking fights and setting booby traps like the Spy Vs. Spy comics.

Somebody blows up the station for some reason. The explosion of DS9 with fleeing runabouts is some really beautiful effects work. Cheers!

Miles and Miles meet in the middle and figure things out. Mainly that time travel makes no sense and they both hate it.

Technogeekery is the star here. Not logic, not emotion, just people saying science-y things and O'Brien passing out now and then.

Yet a true technogeek knows if you have Romulans around, and a troublesome quantum singularity that's also INVISIBLE, then maybe you have a cloaked Romulan ship! How come no one, especially science officer Dax, mentions that likelihood? So that's the big surprise at the end... unless you're been paying attention to other episodes ever. Or decided that Dr. Bashir's doohickey made from the Romulan warbird model kit owned by plenty of nerds (yours truly included) might be a clue.

"Visionary" is more fun than 'Time Squared', though it quickly invites the comparison with its Double Picards, explosions, and non-logical time events. At least 'Visionary' has action and semi-believable jeopardy, and most importantly, when one O'Brien perishes and his "future" self somehow doesn't, it wasn't because one COLD-BLOODEDLY SHOT the other, like the Picard in 'Time Squared'. Possibly the local Miles has died, and been replaced by one from a virtually identical parallel dimension. Since there's no dead body a few hours later, where did that guy go? Did he die at all or was that prevented somehow? Question mark?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ex Post Facto

** (2 stars out of 5)
Before we begin, I should note: this episode is an homage to Pulp Fiction and Rashomon. Since I don't like either of those films, it's no surprise this story did and does nothing for me. Your experience, as usual, may differ.

Baneans, warring with their Numiri neighbours, take time out of their busy schedule to falsely accuse Tom Paris of the murder of their famous physicist, Tolan Ren.

Ren invited Tom and Harry over for dinner with his chihuhua Stimpson, and Lidell his granddaughter... oh, wait... WIFE. Lidell is a femme fatale right out of a Warner Brothers movie, so Tom ramps up the anti-hero mook with infidelity on his mind (and temporarily, the morals of a bug) just long enough to fall afoul of an unusual legal system.

Here, Murderers are punished every 14 hours for the rest of their lives with the last experiences of their victim. Great sci-fi concept. Mostly wasted on this story.

After lengthy interrogation, Harry Kim rushed home dehydrated and with no sleep to fetch help. Sure made me admire Kim more! Just not the mook he's trying to help. And I was enjoying Mr. Paris before this: the Guy who made mistakes was on the road to redemption. I personally have a difficult time with extra-marital affairs and smokers, so I really have a difficult time understanding what Tom possibly sees in this woman. He actually is what B'Elanna called him in jest last episode: a pig.

Because, like everyone in the 24th century, Mr. Tuvok has never heard of a psychotricorder, he orders an autonomic response analysis to determine the truth of Tom's claim of innocence. They hope to plea bargain Tom's sentence down to lethal injection. Yay!

Lidell avoids Tuvok's queries in the Accusing Parlour, so Tuvok jumps directly into an ill-advised mind-meld which does, indeed, save the day. Tuvok also comes out of this looking pretty good. And with Tom Paris for a friend (which now looks less good).

"Ex Post Facto" gets two stars because on some intellectual level I appreciate everyone's efforts. I dislike it enough that 1.5 stars is closer to the truth of the matter. The Numiri spy's scheme is INSANE: 1. Kill a scientist.
2. Bed his wife.
3. Sneak weapons data out in an alien patsy's brain? Gambling that this untested process would not kill Paris or turn him into a vegetable? Risking ARMED conflict with a completely unknown alien spaceship in order to snatch Paris, which fails twice? There are about a kajillion ways the plan could go wrong, so, of course, it does.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Prophet Motive

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Finally, the answer! Turns out self-sealing stembolts are used to make reverse-ratcheting routing planers! Which is breathlessly explained by Emi, the rich female mark... uh... investor, kneading Quark's ears like bread dough. And otherwise will never matter. It's what I do here. You're welcome.

Thanks to Dax's aging government contacts, Dr. Bashir is nominated for a prestigious Carrington Award but expects to lose: they tend to give it to doctors pushing 100 in recognition of a lifetime.

Speaking of the shining lifetime achievements of dusty old kooks, the Grand Nagus Zek has moved in with Quark, revised the Rules of Acquisition, and reduced his good and faithful servant Maihar'du to a sobbing wreck.

Exiled to Rom's filthy hovel, Quark finds it stocked and furnished from items pilfered from his bar.
But that's not as bad as The New Rules: liberal, democratic, and above all ALTRUISTIC rules.
The Nagus wants to move his people 'beyond greed'. Quark is convinced that when the Nagus goes public with the changes he (and whosoever is standing next to him) is going to get thrown from the Spire of Commerce, tallest building in the Ferengi Alliance.

Zek got religion. And, yes, it's contagious- he picked it up inside the wormhole: hoping to schmooze with the Prophets for Profit. The Prophets find GREED adversarial, and so they returned Zek to a purer, earlier stage of Ferengi evolution. Rather than have to spend any more time (or non-time?) listening to Quark complain about it, they put Zek back to normal.

Normal: a man who would just as soon blow his nose on you as steal the fillings out of your teeth. Hooray?

"Prophet Motive" is better than average, but not a favorite. The 'Carrington Award' B story never really goes anywhere, maybe because it's built around an inside joke (that ST:TNG lost an Emmy to something called Picket Fences, apparently). And yet Wallace Shawn makes everything better: even with Zek's morality on backwards. I like the bit where Zek's forgiving Quark for kidnapping him and humming loudly to himself inside the kidnap-sack.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eye of The Needle

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Harry Kim finds the oldest, smallest wormhole on record. At 30 centimeters wide, it's not big enough to fit through. Unless you're an actual worm, I guess. It might be good for pool, as the famed hustler Captain Janeway once put it: "That's the one with the pockets, right?" They lose a microprobe down the drain while snaking the thing, and it's breaking down. Harry's probably wishing they'd found something better to name after him than this wormhole.

But it's got one quality in its favour: it opens onto the Alpha Quadrant.

But it comes with a curse: it's in the space of everyone's favorite non-communicative xenophobes, the Romulans.

But there's a free topping: scientist Telek R'mor is effusively friendly and reasonable for his kind, and Kim and Torres found a method to beam safely through the little subspace tunnel that could.

But the topping also comes with a curse: R'mor is from 2351. That's only a problem because Voyager is from 2371. They can't in good conscience go home before they've left! They'd risk totally changing time, like some renegade Timecop! On the edge of space! As a miserable consolation prize, they leave their contact letters to transmit to their loved ones someday.

But the curse comes with a curse: Telek died in 2367. There's no way to know if he passed on the messages, or just passed on.

Some outstanding character moments here, my favorites of which include Kes and the Doctor.

In between memorizing human anatomy texts in a single day, Kes speaks out to the Captain about the Doctor's rights. Janeway takes a hard look at her attitude toward the hologram and changes her approach. She calls the Doctor a full-fledged member of the crew, and allows him control of turning himself on and off. (Mostly off. That's what she said!)

The camel can't fit through the "Eye of the Needle", the rich man can't get into heaven, and Voyager's not getting back home today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


*** (3 vipers out of 5)
Does it really make any difference what religious prophecy has to say when you can make it mean anything?

Prophetic warning arrives in the person of a defrocked Bajoran Vedek named Yarka, identical cousin of Daniel Jackson's father-in-law from Stargate. (I love Erick Avari: all across the multi-verse his job is to pop out of a library or museum and intone "DIRE PORTENTS SHALL ENTOMB THE FAITHLESS!")

Today he's in a snit about a 3000-year-old text that features the Emissary (Sisko) and also three vipers that threaten the Celestial Temple (wormhole) and possibly something about a sword of stars except I nodded off for a moment there. But  we're VERY clear about the three vipers! Dodge the vipers, I say!

By no coincidence, three lady Cardassian nerds have come aboard in peace to put up a cell phone tower in the Gamma Quadrant.  Ulani the good witch, Dejar the bad witch, and Gilora, the horny witch. Because of O'Brien's overt hostility, Gilora's convinced the Chief has the hots for her. Hilarity ensues! (Put on your scronkin' goggles, she's 'Racy' Tracy Scoggins.)

You've heard of dilithium and trilithium, now here's a whole comet full of si-lithium.  Or perhaps Sy Lithium, a battery salesman from Jersey City? Can Sisko and Kira find common ground between science and nonsense, uh, religion... in time to prevent this dirty snowball from getting all over their nice, clean Celestial Temple?

"Destiny" is standard fare, most notable as far as I'm concerned for a couple of Ferengi Rules of Acquisition that explain a lot about their financial stability through the centuries.  #34: War is Good for Business, and #35: Peace is Good for Business.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Cloud

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Well, here's "The Cloud". THE Cloud? Try A Cloud. The Creature from the Mediocre Title resembles a nebula, like the one in "One of Our Planets is Missing" or "Lonely Among Us" or V'gr or the Vampire Cloud.  And, no offense, but with a Starfleet library at their fingertips, why are Kim and Tuvok fighting over who hasn't seen something like this the most? Why aren't they hurriedly googling 'cloud creatures' like the four I just named off the top of my head? When things called 'VAMPIRE CLOUDS' exist, you'd think you'd want your tactical and ops guys to know about it...

That whining achieved, the strength I credit this episode with is ALL in the character work, not the cloud. Writer Michael Piller makes Good Filler, as I have always just said for the first time. To whit:

1. Janeway's Quest For Coffee and some friends to drink it with. Plus, she's got a good leadership moment laying the smack down on Neelix's yellow streak. (Even though his request to leave in his own little ship every time Voyager goes somewhere dangerous makes a certain amount of sense... at least then SOMEONE would survive to tell the tale. And if you accidentally forgot to retrieve him... would that be so wrong?)

2. Chakotay's practical approach to a ship without a counselor. The 24th century medicine bundle and animal guide vision was pretty cool! He's clearly making an enormous effort to trust and get along with his captain. And is this actually some FORESHADOWING that Janeway's spirit guide turns out to be a lizard? Emphatically NO, it is not. You'll see it when we get there, but no, it's not. Shut up.

3. Tom's friendship with Harry in the dive bar in Marseilles holoprogram, placing slightly more emphasis on sexual innuendo and pool than on drinking, which is for the best. My favorite bit is when Tom says his wallet got stolen outside the real Sandrines. Harry's incredulous that this could still happen on EARTH. 'They just do it for the tourists," Tom soothes. "They give it back. Most of the time."

4. The Doctor's sarcastic response to B'Elanna's surly suggestion that he could be programmed to be self-modifying. "What would I do with that ability? Raise a family? Build an Army?"

It COULD be argued, (and I have done so myself in the hypothetical while pondering where Voyager may have got it wrong), that the crew is becoming friends TOO well, TOO quickly, and the tone is therefore silly. But damn it all, I LIKE fluff. I don't WANT them literally at each other's throats. Let me have my stupid sci-fi fun. Rack 'em up, Voyager!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Heart of Stone

**** (4 stars out of 5)
The peace treaty Bariel died for seems to have held for at least a week. Kira and Odo check on the Bajoran colony worryingly near the Cardassian border, and it's not ash and cinder yet. Call it a win!

Odo (like Green Lantern Mogo) doesn't socialize. He doesn't eat, either, but he grumbles at Kira for refusing a dinner invitation on his behalf.  They settle their differences by chasing down a Maquis ship. NOBODY likes those jerks with their hearts of gold!

Speaking of jerks with hearts of gold, Nog has completed his Attainment Ceremony. Now an adult, he bribes Commander Sisko to take him on as an apprentice. Nog wants to be the first Ferengi in Starfleet. Sisko is reluctant to write a recommendation for the Nog he knows: the Nog with a checkered history of stealing, making pranks, and angering women as recently as last week.

I remain deeply moved by Nog's plea. Nog's desire to find a worthwhile life outside his family is just really well done. Way to be, Aron Eisenberg.

While chasing through the tunnels of a remote moon, Odo returns to find Kira's foot is trapped in an ever-expanding crystal. It only grows faster when phasered. Odo demonstrates the science-y side he probably got from Dr. Mora by rigging up a sonic screwdriver, or more like a sonic battering ram. Anyway, it doesn't work.

Kira's disappearing inside the crystal, bit by bit. But the prospect of her death is breaking Odo faster than it's breaking her. There's something our shapeshifter has never admitted to anyone...

"Heart of Stone" plays with genders a little as the lady gets hard and the guy softens up.  With all those deep and painful feelings, I mean. In career or love there's probably nothing more difficult than baring your soul to someone who holds your future in their hands.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Neelix is mugged and instead of his wallet, the thief steals his lungs. Shades of 'Spock's Brain', you say? Well, turns out it's possible to run with the same story to a much more satisfying end.

The Doctor's inspired temporary solution is a pair of holographic lungs based on Neelix's transporter pattern. So long as the Talaxian remains utterly still in his isotropic restraint and never leaves it for the rest of his life, the device will keep him alive.

The holographic doctor has a friend at last! A friend who can never, ever leave...

While Voyager pursues the organ harvesters, poor Neelix goes none-to-quietly stir crazy. And he didn't have that far to go. He's insanely jealous of the attention Tom Paris pays to Kes: offering his sympathy right in front of the dying boyfriend in what Neelix believes is a clever ploy to ride the Kes Express. Kes, for her part, is insanely sweet and supportive for a one-year old. Ironically, she's the mature one.

Can't they rig Neelix up a voice-activated book to read? Or even a damn TV? It might have prevented or delayed his awful panic attack inside his iron lung.

The organ thieves (the phage-riddled Vidiians) are hiding in an asteroid rigged like a hall of mirrors. I expected more on the chamber of horrors front- bathtubs of kidneys and the like. But the horrors are smaller and maybe a little worse: the patchwork flesh of two civilized but deathly ill bastards who'll do anything to take another breath.

Horrified, Janeway still can't bring herself to kill a guy to get Neelix's lungs back, but swears she'll kill the next Vidiians who even sidle near her people and remark 'What lovely eyes you have..."

In guilt and gratitude, the Vidiians transplant a lung from volunteer Kes and slink off.

So, to be clear, the Holodoc told us that Neelix's original lungs were too complex to replace with artificial ones. Yet Kes' Ocampa lung IS made compatible by advanced Vidiian medicine. We're told ANY lung in the room would have worked. BUT... doesn't this mean that Neelix's only lung will (like Kes) die of old age in a mere 8 years?

Might not logic dictate that Tuvok's lung (with its Vulcan longevity) would better serve? And could not Tuvok then get one of the artificial ones more easily? Whelp, too late now!

"Phage" is another medical drama on the heels of 'Life Support' but I found the stakes higher and I felt awful for Neelix and The Doctor both. (And this time, for Kes, too.) And even the Vidiians! It's quite a feat to make organ-theiving monsters believable and relatable. In my opinion, they're the best Delta Quadrant villains of Season One, because they're hideous, and it's easy to sympathize with their desperation. I want to believe I wouldn't kill others to save myself, but I really hope I never find out.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life Support

*** (3 stars out of 5)
Jake Sisko runs into Leanne, a female chum who's just broken up with their mutual acquaintance Orac and wants to date Jake instead. Who can blame her? I saw ORAC on 'Blake's 7' and he's just a plastic box. A high-handed, insufferable plastic box at that!

Kira's bed-buddy Bariel is killed by a radiation accident, but it's one of those NERVE-FORTIFYING radiations I've never heard so much about. The upshot of which is that Dr. Bashir resurrects him. FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!

The Zombie Bishop's boss, Kai Winn, immediately forces him back to work. Bashir begs Winn to release Bariel from the Bajoran/Cardassian peace talks and let him heal, but neither of them will listen to him. What does science know anyway?

Nog's culturally ingrained misogyny offends Leanne's friend Riska on the double date the boy troll bullied his way into. It comes out later that telling a woman to keep quiet and cut up your food IS Nog trying to meet them halfway: traditional Ferengi ladies chew it.

"Life Support" chews us up a plate of confusion. Dueling A and B stories! Wacky antics with Jake and Nog butt up painfully against the morbid tale of Bariel's deterioration. Although on an individual basis I feel they both work emotionally, they are not great tastes that taste great together.

Also, speaking of emotions, I personally disagree with Bashir's decision to let Bariel die rather than burden him with an emotionless positronic brain. It's a tricky subject to define morally: but, if you'll recall, there's a guy out there in the fleet with a positronic brain who loves his kitty cat! I'm just saying: in Star Trek, artificial brains can be modified to feel emotions. Dead ones can't.

And for the record, don't tell women to shut up and chew your food. Unless you want them to test the limits of medicine beyond death... YOURS.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Time and Again

* (1 star out of 5)
Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris play havoc with time in nonsensical ways, all while dressed as the galaxy's least appealing popsicles: Carrot-Cola-Mustard flavoured. I'd say the goofiness reminds me of classic Doctor Who, but classic Doctor Who tended to have more dignity and made more sense.

Far-flung Delta Quadrant! Same as the old Quadrant. Exotic, unexplored vistas! Which look like a wilted park outside a strip mall. Never-before imagined aliens! Who (except for Neelix the warthog/potato) sadly look like cut-rate Klingons with rocks for hair, a blond Vulcan, and now, uh, humans. Hooray? Especially in light of the cost over-runs from the pilot I understand the reasons, but this looks cheep, cheep, cheep.

Speaking of chirpy and irritating, little blond kid trying to expose Tom and Kathy as aliens nearly makes me long for the nuanced squeals and gawping of Jake 'Anakin Skywalker' Lloyd. Nearly.

The part of the plot that can be followed relates to a militant protest against 'polaric energy' that results in a polaric disaster. Also an attempt to rescue Janeway from time-travel that destroys a planet. The moral being, apparently, don't do things because doing things goes wrong. Like 1995's other time-warp  disaster 'Twelve Monkeys' without the benefit of being good.

"Time and Again" is a title that might as well be "Ho and Hum". Thanks to TNG's finale and Generations, and DS9's 'Past Tense', fans have recently been treated to ENJOYABLE time travel stories and now... there's... this.

"It seems I've found myself on a voyage of the damned," moans the holographic Doctor, (rapidly becoming my favorite Voyager character) and while that may be a harsh review of the series, it is right frakking BANG ON for this episode.

On top of everything else, the time travel erases itself, so none of the characters even remember it happened. Which might be preferable, but it's maddening. Arrgh!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


*** (3 stars out of 5)
B'Elanna the Fix-It Gal and Janeway the Theory Lass bond while rescuing the ship from the bottom of a reflective singularity that only metaphorically resembles the bottom of an iced over pond, yet doesn't make a lick of sense if you apply any thought to it. Still, it's not like I passed physics- maybe their authentic space frontier gibberish IS legit. Anyone? Anyone? Higgs Boson?

On the interpersonal relationships front, Chakotay is working overtime to prevent a mutiny by his Maquis minions. They seem to agree with singer Voltaire: "Screw the Ocampa", I wanna go home. And since Janeway's altruism left them stranded, they have little interest in following her anywhere.

Yet, either because Chakotay strong-armed them, or because their old clothes reeked and were crusty with Cardassian blood, they are now sporting Starfleet togs and can only be identified as former outlaws by the chip on their shoulders. Literally.

I'm saying there's a gold tag on their necks that someone apparently took the time to replicate. It's a not-too-subtle "token" rank for the people that don't belong, and if that was Janeway's intention, it kind of sucks. If you're going to forever emblazon the Maquis with "NOT A REAL RANK" pins, then why not just let them wear their casual clothes? Are ALL of them Starfleet dropouts like Chakotay and Torres? Of course not. They were primarily CIVILIANS. So why not treat them with all the individual respect you show Kes and Neelix, which is still almost zero, but at least THAT'S because they're weird foreigners?

So after breaking the nose of the guy who's earned the right to be in charge of engineering by staying in school (and, yes, he's an arrogant, elitist S.O.B.) Torres gets to be our new Scotty. Because people with hair-trigger tempers should work with antimatter!

"Parallax" actually does do good character stuff, I'm mostly being a dink. Chakotay, for example, is admirable in his divided loyalty to his angry friends and his new circumstances. Janeway is pretty chummy for an inflexible jerk. And Torres? *Sigh.* She's dreamy. But this is not an invitation for my lovely wife to break my nose, oh nose!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
The Time: 2371. The Place: Spinning off station Deep Space Nine.

Just in case you've been under a rock and/or watching 'Babylon 5', there's a nasty little border skirmish in which a bunch of heroic malcontents called the Maquis are defending their homes against the terrible Cardassians. These brave outlaws have a stick in their craw because their normally idyllic Federation and its stalwart defense force, Starfleet, left them to twist in the plasma wind.

Captain Chakotay, probably from the North American Indian world of Dorvan V, is a man of peace compelled to fight for a noble cause. Which is not going to matter again for a long time since he and his crew vanish from their hide-out in the Badlands.

Kathryn Janeway, gung-ho, science-minded Starfleet Captain of U.S.S. Voyager, springs ex-Starfleet, ex-Maquis mercenary, ex-drunk, ex-con and all-round handsome charmer Tom Paris to track Chakotay down. Not for being an outlaw, particularly, but because Janeway's undercover Vulcan security officer chum Tuvok is also lost.

Paris prevents Eager Young Space Cadet Harry Kim from blowing his wages trying to smooth race relations with the Ferengi Quark. Thus, the instantly lovable Harry takes a shine to the besmirched young pilot. Which is quite amazingly good luck for Harry, since in an instant, (and surely by coincidence) every Voyager character who besmirched, sneered at, spurned, or looked sideways at Tom Paris is killed by an energy wave that strands the starship in the unexplored reaches of the Delta Quadrant.

Even their jerk doctor died, but not to worry: they have an emergency jerk doctor! An interactive hologram linked to a medical database brings you all the snide comments you love at a fraction of the cost of, say, Julian Bashir.

Quickly falling afoul of the cast of 'Little House on The Prairie', (who turn out to be holograms working for a Giant Senile Jellyfish), the Maquis and the crew of Voyager must put aside their animosity in the face of bloodthirsty (and just plain thirsty) Kazon water pirates. The Kazon hope to prey on the water-hoarding underground doomsday cult of telepathic elves called the Ocampa. The Ocampa have relied on the kindness of strangers since a stranger called the Caretaker (the aforementioned Giant Senile Jellyfish) accidentally roasted their planet into Darth Vader's desert homeworld Tatooine with a side of Arrakis.

The dying Caretaker has been kidnapping spaceships for months in a last-ditch attempt to... there's no other word... rape himself up an offspring. So far, only Chakotay's rage-fueled half-Klingon engineer B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim have genes remotely compatible with a Giant Senile Jellyfish. Ludicrous as THAT may sound, the Banjo-Twanging Extragalactic Cyst has already given them deadly diseases while trying to impregnate the pair while they were unconscious.) Why does the Caretaker want an heir? Well, someone to carry on his noble work- keeping the Ocampa like mushrooms: in the dark and fed on shit.

A rebel Ocampa named Kes fled into the sunlight, only to become the unfortunate child bride of Neelix: one of those rat-like muppets that worship the Trash Heap behind Fraggle Rock. In fact, I think we were supposed to like Neelix. I'm virtually hard-wired to adore cuddly aliens. But the writing leaves me no conclusion other than that Neelix robbed and pissed off a gang of Kazon, abandoning Kes to their abuses. Whereupon he flew off to paw through a junk zone until the luxurious starship Voyager HAPPENED past. He gorges himself from their replicators, takes a long bath, chatters happily with nonplussed Tuvok, chooses a natty suit of new clothes... and finally, FINALLY tricks the humans into rescuing his girlfriend from TORTURE. Would he have EVER gone back for her? Kes doesn't seem to mind his dubious lack of urgent concern for her welfare. It's a symptom of the slow, slow second half.

I DO like this. It's a strong opening. The characters are very appealing. It just does everything... very gradually.

Yet it also wraps up some things TOO quickly. Chakotay plows his empty ship into the Kazon, forcing his crew to cram aboard Voyager, also forcing them metaphorically into the Starfleet mold and literally into Starfleet footy pajamas.

Janeway bombs the dead Caretaker's GO-HOME machine, forcing everyone into a SEVENTY YEAR return journey. All so the Ocampa get to watch TV for another 5 years before the power goes out and the Kazon assuredly eat them.

"Caretaker" is the most expensive Star Trek episode ever made. It's nearly twice as expensive as the pilot of its little brother Enterprise. It was even more expensive than Wrath of Khan! This makes it THE ONE TO BEAT!!! I mean, beat by being more thrilling yet more fiscally responsible. Get to it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Past Tense, Part II

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Whuh-Oh! Seems we have ourselves a 'City on The Edge of Forever' today, cats and kittens! Just as Edith Keeler's untimely life caused Starfleet to disappear or be radically altered, the death of OGB (the Original Gabe Bell) has likewise erased the Federation. Earth never became a utopia, and without Earth the biggest name-brand in the local galaxy is the Romulans. Unless they want to start pouring viinerine on their Cheerios, O'Brien and Kira must search for their missing team in time. They beam to the city by the bay in several historical periods including the 1930's, the 2040's and the 1960's.

Back in 2024, everyone's too busy using the net to watch porn and cats and cat porn to give two craps about the homeless and mentally ill overflowing their fenced-in 'Escape From New York' ghettos.

Enter Gabriel "Ben Sisko" Bell, the original Hobo With A Shotgun. Caught up in a riot, "Bell" tries to stop the desperate maniac Bittle Coleridge from killing the cops and social workers he's taken hostage.

Jaunting pristinely through the sewers (with the help of four humanoid turtles, one supposes), Dax catches up with her chums, and recovers her stolen commbadge from Ron Howard's weird brother Balok.

Despite the massive budget cuts that have them using 30-year-old cell phones, the National Guard of 2024 is poised to roll right over the poor, the meek, and the huddled masses. Dax's boy-toy Richie Rich salvages a sliver of conscience by risking his broadcast license in the interest of the phenomenal ratings he hopes to get from the homeless pleading their case. Will anyone listen? Maybe. But better let a white person (or at the outside, a Hispanic fellow), do all the talking, apparently...

"Past Tense, Part II" is Deep Space Nine's final shining moment as the only Star Trek on TV, and it's an inspiring voice. Writer Ira Behr's observation of the rich tourists ignoring the scenic street people of Malibu remains equally relevant 17 years later, and will still be relevant with new names and faces so long as people are self-absorbed capitalist greed sphincters.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Past Tense, Part I

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Defiant's crew goes to Earth for a Gamma Quadrant symposium (leaving Bajor utterly undefended from this Gamma Quadrant everyone's so worried about that they want to hold a symposium. Great plan!) The Nagus wants Sisko to mention, just in passing, how crucial the Ferengi were in the Dominion first contact and also incidentally to free his nephew from Federation custody on Aldebaran III. After all, there's Rule of Acquisition 111: Treat people in your debt like family-- exploit them.

Sisko, Bashir, and Dax step into a routine transporter and land in San Fransisco, but WAY BACK on August 30th, 2024. (A Friday.) It's a little less 'Things To Come' and a little more 'Soylent Green', a little bit country and a little bit 'Rock and Rule' slightly before the city of Nuke York. Ten points to Gryffindor if you've seen any of those movies (which have very little to do with this episode, frankly).

Ben and Julian are mistaken for mentally challenged 'dims' and escorted at gunpoint to a Sanctuary District. (The nice word for a walled-up slum.) Jadzia falls into the lap of luxury, which is to say the lap of Chris Brynner of the 1%. She finds playing a little mugged Dutch girl with tattoos is easy enough. After all, Dax was alive way back now, only not on Earth-Snooki (as the planet was renamed following Khan Singh's conquests. Brynner owns Net Interface Channel 90, AKA Your Face In A Tube.

It seems chroniton particles from the cloaking device, lodged in Defiant's ablative hull armour, struck by a micro singularity sprinkling fairy dust futzed with the transporter. As is wont to occur.

According to Sisko, to see an Earth they're used to they'd have to visit 2124 at least. This is still that shitty primitive Earth I've heard so much about. The homeless are walled up in every major city in the States. Bashir doesn't know much 21st Century history: "Too depressing." Which of course, means it's a hobby of Ben's. Ladies and Gentlemen, Commander Benjamin Sisko: he unwinds by reading about social breakdown, chaos and suffering.

When Ben realizes the date, and the location: Sanctuary District A, he warns Bashir that they are mere days away from 'The Bell Riots', one of the most violent civil disturbances in US history. THE ONE TO BEAT! And with the original Gabriel Bell shanked dead by a gang of 'ghosts' while trying to help them, Ben takes the homeless man's name and place in history. Which is to say: a hostage taker, fighting only to be heard, who is fated to be gunned down by the authorities.

"Past Tense, Part I" has many fine assets, chief amongst them Roger Corman's favorite cabbie Dick Miller. The crusty fascist cop with the heart of gold, or so one would hope. And hope is what this two-parter is all about: in order to reach Trek's utopia, the 21st Century was always presented as monumentally disastrous: Eugenic and Atomic War, WWIII, and social collapse. I hope not, but this near future looks a little too familiar.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Nobody gets what they want at the Gratitude Festival. Mardah the Dabo Woman has left Jake for the Science Academy of Regulus III, 300 light years away. Miles has discovered that 35 racquetball games a month with Bashir is no substitute for a wife. And even when Keiko returns on the holiday flight she's brought a sick kid thanks to the exuberant Space Auntie Mame who gave her too much candy.

Yup, Ambassador Lwaxana Troi is here to hit on Odo, who is ever more obviously secretly interested in Kira.

I thought it was impossible, but Bajorans actually have fun sometimes! Everyone writes their problems on scrolls to burn before a 26 hour day of passion.

And what's more passionate than a Betazoid telepathically spreading inappropriate love? Jake decides Mardah was too immature for him and asks out Kira! Saintly Bariel puts the make on Jadzia! Jadzia leaps aboard the USS Ben Sisko!

Keiko's plant survey is extending to seven more months, and Miles misses her so much he barks at her like an Andorian Jerk-Beetle.

Quark is not a sympathetic ear. "You let your women go out in public, hold jobs, wear clothing and you wonder why your marriages fall apart." And if Ferengi marriages are so perfect why is Quark still single again?

Bashir and Kira can't stop making out. Jealous Bariel punches Sisko, Dax knocks Bariel on his butt. Even though Ferengi can't be scanned by Betazoids, they CAN catch Zanthi fever from them, as Quark is rubbing up against Keiko before the Commander figures it out. (And before the audience can finish vomiting.)

"Fascination" proves that I can usually count on Ira Behr for amusement value. This is no exception. I read that the intention was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', but as a nerd I noticed that it's 'Sarek' played for laughs and smooches. Deep Space Nine is, for the most part, rather dour and serious. Which is only going to get worse. So I'm glad of the break for a silly bedroom farce.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
Unless no episode will ever feature the Defiant again, this title is about as useful as the episode called 'Cardassians'. But, like 'Cardassians' it's a great story and I'm here to spoil it for you. You're welcome!

Overworked Kira meets a familiar bearded face. Riker! He's visiting DS9 on his way to Risa and he and Kira have a pleasant evening's "conversation". (Yeah, it was probably just a conversation. But where would we be without innuendo?) Somehow, despite Riker's up-to-date commbadge, he doesn't mention the crash of the Enterprise. What gives? Riker vaguely remembers Dax, and dismisses O'Brien gruffly, but he just LOVES Kira... and her free tour of the trustingly empty Defiant.

Especially the part where she releases the security right before he stuns her. And not with his beard: IT'S FAKE! He's got a goatee... MIRROR UNIVERSE! Nope, wrong again. He's the latest Maquis in the Badlands: TOM Riker from 'Second Chances', kids! He left his post on the Gandhi and hooked up with Ro's chum Kalita and the rest of those plucky Cardie-blasting outlaws. Yes, the Maquis are still a thing!

Dukat, when informed, believes only the destruction of the Defiant will suffice. He, Sisko, and shifty Obsidian Order agent Korinas plot against the runaway warship from a bunker on Cardassia. Dukat misses his son Mekor's 11th birthday. He tells Sisko how SAD it is that Mekor will look back on this with hatred for the Federation. (But if that's so sad, why did you raise your kids to be so hateful, man?)

Apparently, the cloaking device is really, really, REALLY user friendly. The Maquis don't have that cheerful Romulan technician gal with them. (Is she even still around?) It must have a big ON/OFF switch or something. Anyhoo, even held hostage, Kira manages to slow the starship down by blowing up her replicator. With her shoulder pad. (I think?) Tom Riker's mad quest for personal distinction does ultimately expose the hypocritical, illegal fleet built by the Obsidian Order. But the Cardassians can be trusted not to use THAT, right? Let's not think about it.

Sisko gets Dukat to return the Defiant and the Maquis for Federation trials (yes, Defiant has the right to a fair trial, just like the horrible wedding-exploding drones of our time) in exchange for sensor records of the forbidden spy fleet, and wins life imprisonment for Tom Riker in the Lazon II labour camp. Yes, that's the best they could do, why do you ask? He even won a copy of 'Steal The Defiant' the home game.

Kira promises to rescue Tom, and he kisses her good-bye.

"Defiant" has an exciting story arc that never arced anywhere, although I'll get to the novels SOMEDAY. And I'd be flabbergasted if no-body ever followed up on Rogue Riker, despite TV dropping the ball.

Friday, August 10, 2012


***** (5 stars out of 5)
I know, I KNOW. I'm all alone out on this particular limb. This movie isn't as beloved in the fan community as I feel it should be. Too bad! I love it to pieces, which is all that's left of the video tape I wore out watching it into the double digits.

Back in 2293, Starfleet launched the Enterprise 1701-B under Captain Cameron from 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off'. I adore Captain Harriman, not least because he has to deliver lines like "I remember reading about your missions when I was in grade school," and "It won't be installed until Tuesday." You see, Captain Kirk came along on this maiden voyage/press junket and was heroically blown out into the ether because the B had no staff or equipment ready for a rescue operation. Possibly including poor Harriman, who I firmly believe only looks bad when standing next to his boyhood hero.

The rescue went badly for the El-Aurian refugees partly because they did not WANT to be rescued: the glowy, sparky Temporal Nexus that's killing most of them is the next best thing to heaven, and that's not an easy dimension to turn down. One who turned her back on it was Guinan, and one who did not is the Commodore from 'Wing Commander'. Also, Captain Kirk fell in while saving everyone else, never to be seen again... Until...

In 2371, Data finally has his emotion chip installed. The mechanical feelings graft themselves in permanently and start causing him no end of comedy and tragedy, often at the same time. While drinking Guinan's concoctions, for example, Data sums up my experience of marathon reviewing:

"I HATE this! It is revolting!"

As Picard reels from the death of his brother and nephew in a fire, nutty El-Aurian physicist Dr. Soren teams up with the Duras sisters in an elaborate, scientifically unsound scheme to snag himself a trip back to paradise. With the slight side-effect of destroying a populated world.

Data's newly discovered cowardice nearly gets Geordi killed by Soren's tortures. The android also contends with the suicidal guilt that follows. Picard orders Data to cope and integrate his new feelings into his life. (This scene is one of my all-time favorites. God, I love those two!)

When Soren destroys the Veridian system, he accidentally whisks Picard into the Nexus with him. (Offscreen, Soren lives out his dream of ruling a desert Earth as the head of Water and Power. 'Blast you, Tank Girl!'...)

Picard must resist the lure of a charming British family on Christmas Eve, which is apparently his idea of heaven, Tiny Tim's Captain Power jet and all. Picard is guided away from all this by the Ghost of Christmas Guinan, who partly exists here (explaining her otherworldly sense of time at long last). Picard implores Kirk for a time-travel team-up. The Shat is reluctant to leave off his heavenly retirement of horse riding and marriage (to a woman, not a horse, you understand).

"Come back with me!" Jean-Luc urges. "Make a difference again!"

Through force of will, the two great Captains join forces to beat up a scrawny old madman. Kirk avoids getting shot in the back long enough to save millions of strangers he's never met and will never get to sleep with. Then he's crushed to death by a collapsing bridge. It is still a profoundly sad moment for me, and a worthy death for a mighty hero.

It is also the end for my beloved Enterprise-D. I'm sick of people including me making the joke that they should never have let Troi behind the wheel! Keeping in mind that the drive explosion probably took out everything but the maneuvering thrusters, I'd say a thousand people owe their lives to a woman driver's ability to land what was essentially a falling rock. If you need someone to blame, ask RIKER why he didn't eject the damn warp core when it started to breach! Pssh! Men!

Real Men may not have saved the ship, but they sure can cry if their kitty cat is found unharmed! Acting props to Brent Spiner (who does not enjoy cats) for making me sob for a filthy moggy when Spot is rescued from the wreckage. (I DO enjoy cats, you see.)

"STAR TREK GENERATIONS" has logical flaws that don't take a dozen viewings to discover (not least of which is how easily the Duras sisters annihilate the Federation flagship when they were last seen scrounging for cash and mildly inconveniencing a lone Dopterian wimp).  I see its flaws and I adore it anyway. So: "Time is the fire in which we burn" OR "Time is our companion reminding us to treasure every moment?" Discuss. Share your work.