455. [VOY] Parallax

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Another episode laden with treknobabble, but this time I don’t actually mind it, because it’s clearly not the focal point of the episode and serves merely as a backdrop for the human element of the story. B’Elanna Torres is having a hard time integrating into the crew. She put Lieutenant Carey in sickbay with a fractured nose because he “got in her way,” and already battle lines are being drawn. Tuvok wants her court-martialed, and the Maquis crew are ready to support a mutiny lead by Chakotay (who knocks them down a peg for even considering such a concept). That being said, Chakotay has other plans in store for B’Elanna: he thinks she ought to fill the Chief Engineer vacancy.

Janeway is taken aback by this suggestion, and she and her first officer have a very candid discussion in her ready room about integration and fairness. This is a Starfleet crew staffed with officers who worked their whole lives to get here, and she’s not about to pass them up for positions they deserve just because circumstances forced Maquis into the fold. Chakotay is a staunch defender of his people, and he refuses to be the token officer. If she wants the crew to actually integrate, she’s going to have to place higher trust in the Maquis crew. That means putting some of them in high-ranking positions. She agrees to consider her, reluctantly.

Voyager finds itself caught in a quantum singularity. (It’s like a black hole with time travel! Or, depending on what physicist you talk to, just a black hole!) They wander into it when responding to a distress call, but nearly tear the ship apart when they try tractoring it in. Eventually they take Neelix’s advice to seek out a nearby race to assist in the rescue operations, but no matter which way they turn, they find themselves right back at the singularity. They’re stuck.

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454. [DS9] Meridian

SCORE: image (2/5 stars)

While exploring a Gamma Quadrant system with the Defiant (the Dominion threat handwaved away by a single line in his commander’s log), they come across a planet that wasn’t there five minutes ago. They’re immediately hailed by the inhabitants of the planet (a population of only 30) who invite them to beam down to Meridian and share a meal, promising the planet’s not going to vanish under their feet.

Basically, the planet is Brigadoon in space. Every 60 years, the planet shifts from another dimension of pure energy, pure consciousness, back to a corporeal form. It used to be more balanced, 30 years in a physical state and 30 years in an energy state, but the corporeal sessions have been shortening every cycle and are now only at 12 days. Because of the shortened corporeal sessions, they’ve dwindled as a species as they can no longer procreate. Deral, one of the lead scientists of the village estimates that in just a few more cycles, they’ll only be physical for a matter of minutes, and by that point, it’ll have destabilized to the point that they’ll simply cease to exist.

Jadzia thinks they can come up with a way to stabilize the planet’s cycles and return them to a 30-on, 30-off balance. But she also thinks she can come up with a way to get into Deral’s pants, and it’s not long before they’re taking walks in the meadow, climbing trees, and counting each other’s spots. (Jadzia’s go down “all the way” if you know what I mean.) After a week of science and sex, Jadzia has decided she’s in love and wants to spend her life with this guy she’s just met and he agrees, to the dismay of the village leader who had hoped he would marry one of the village women and make babies.

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453. [VOY] Caretaker

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

Unhappy with a new treaty, Federation Colonists along the Cardassian border have banded together. Calling themselves “The Maquis,” they continue to fight the Cardassians. Some consider them heroes, but to the governments of the Federation and Cardassia, they are outlaws.

I’ve always hated treknobabble. I’ve made no attempt to hide that on this blog. And Voyager is notorious for it. But I had forgotten that the bad treknobabble starts in the VERY FIRST SCENE. And worse, they play the “numbers as tension” game. As a Maquis raider flies through a plasma storm in the Badlands while being pursued by Gul Evek, a Vulcan keeps shouting ever-decreasing numbers while a half-Klingon attempts to reconfigure a thing to another thing because the ship’s human captain keeps yelling for “more power!” But the Cardassians aren’t the only thing chasing them through the storm. A treknobabble thingy is coming at them super-duper fast, and they do the thing to go-fast but they can’t go-fast enough and vanish in a white flash.

Captain Kathryn Janeway has been given the USS Voyager, a top-of-the-line Intrepid-class starship, and her first mission is to channel her inner Katharine Hepburn.. Kate Mulgrew fought very hard to make sure that the first woman captain in Star Trek was not to be sexualized, and the writers did a very good job of making her a fully realized character—a rarity for women in science fiction, especially as the successor to TNG, whose female characters could feel a bit two-dimensional at times. Unlike most other captains who went through the command track and earned their pips by flying starships (and sometimes being the highest-ranked person left alive), Janeway is first and foremost a scientist, and while Picard might solicit scientific solutions from Mr. Data, she’ll suggest her own. (They may be treknobabble bullshit, but at least she knows how to wade in it.) She’s even got a fiance named Mark and a pregnant dog at home, people she will assuredly ever see again.

Her crew has been assembled, but she’s got one last recruit for her mission to track down the missing Maquis ship, since her Chief of Security was secretly aboard the ship. Tom Paris (known to us as Nick Locarno, Wesley’s flight team captain at the Academy). After getting kicked out of Starfleet for being Nick Locarno (I insist that they’re the same character despite tiny changes in the accident story), he joined up with the Maquis, but got caught on his first mission and has been serving time at a New Zealand penal colony. Janeway is offering him a good word at his next review in exchange for helping to track down the Maquis vessel, but only as an observer. He’s a very good pilot, but she’s not about to let him behind the wheel.

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452. [DS9] Civil Defense

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

While deleting old files from an ore processing computer, O’Brien and Jake accidentally trip an old Cardassian security program, and without the access codes to disable it, they find themselves at the mercy of pre-programmed Occupation-era Gul Dukat. At first it seems confined to the ore processing room, but as soon as they use empty molten tubes to escape the room, the entire station is put on lock-down. Jake, Sisko and O’Brien have to crawl their way through the underbelly of the station, all the while contending with toxic gas and blocked passages.

Ops is not faring much better. They quickly get locked out of systems themselves since they don’t have Dukat’s access codes, and even though Garak’s codes are enough to allow him passage through the station’s force fields, they don’t have a chance of letting him bypass Dukat’s codes. Jadzia gets second-degree burns on her hands from setting off a force field, and eventually escalation of the lockout causes a 30-minute self destruct timer, as well as the replicator creating a phaser turret that vaporizes a redshirt and leaves the rest of Ops hiding behind consoles.

Quark is locked in Odo’s security office when shit starts going south because he reasons it’s the safest place on the station, and the writers reason any time we can lock Quark and Odo in a room together it’s comic gold. Odo tells Quark that he’s the most devious Ferengi he’s ever met, though by the end of the episode he admits he only said it to make Quark feel better because it looked like they were about to die.

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451. [DS9] The Abandoned

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Quark buys some Gamma Quadrant wreckage sight-unseen because the captain who sells it to him distracts him with her woman parts. Unfortunately for him (and soon the station), he discovers that there is an infant among the wreckage, and is forced to defend himself against Sisko. “You bought a child?

But this is no ordinary child. He grows at an extremely rapid rate, and appears to be genetically engineered. He’s able to pick up English extremely quickly, and Bashir notes that he hasn’t even heard enough of the language to possibly have picked up the vocabulary he’s using, so his deduction skills must be off the charts. (Because in Star Trek, linguists like Hoshi Sato can predict words from alien languages they’ve just encountered.)

Unfortunately, they soon find out the species of the child as he grows into a young adult and attacks his way out of the infirmary onto the promenade. He jumps at Odo, who turns liquid and watches the child pass right through him. The child kneels down in deference to the Changeling before him, and his facial protrusions are now clearly visible. He is a Jem’Hadar.

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450. [DS9] Second Skin

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Kira is contacted by a Bajoran historian who’s looking to interview survivors of a Cardassian detention center called Elemspur. Records show that Kira was held there for seven days, but Kira has no recollection of ever being held there, and can even account for where she was during the time the records say she was being held there. But when she contacts another Elemspur inmate and he recognizes her on sight, she knows there’s something more going on and takes a runabout to Bajor to find out what’s the deal.

But Kira never makes it to Bajor. She wakes up surrounded by Cardassians, looks in a mirror—and sees that she’s been made to look like a Cardassian, too. They tell her that she has always been a Cardassian, and for the past ten years was serving as a sleeper agent in the Bajoran Resistance, surgically altered and memory reprogrammed so she truly would believe she WAS Kira Nerys. Her “real name” is Iliana Ghemor, and she should soon start regaining her memories with the drugs they’re giving her.

In the meantime, she’s staying at what they claim is her father’s home. She’s told she’s not a prisoner, that she is a hero of Cardassia, and she just needs to wait for the memories to return. Obviously, Kira being the even-tempered person that she is readily accepts this story she’s being told, I don’t think. She runs the gamut of emotions, attempting to escape at every opportunity (though the Obsidian Order has put force fields on the windows and have a perimeter set up), refusing to consider anything they’re telling her, and lying about questions regarding Deep Space 9.

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449. [DS9] Equilibrium

SCORE: image (3/5 stars)

Jadzia is having problems. First, immediately after commenting that none of the Dax hosts had any musical ability, she starts playing a rather pretty tune on Jake’s old keyboard. She begins acting accusatory and hostile toward Sisko and Kira. And she starts hallucinating a figure in a layered mask, which causes her to bump into Quark so that he can have a line this episode.

Bashir examines her symptoms, and finds that the neurotransmitter that links the host mind with the symbiont mind is down to 73%, which could be an early sign of symbiont rejection. Bashir doesn’t want to go so far as to call it that yet, but recommends they take Jadzia to Trill where doctors more experienced in joined Trill can take a look and see what’s causing her hallucinations and odd memories.

While receiving treatment from Trill doctors, they decide to pay a visit to the Guardians, unjoined Trill who watch over the symbionts in their subterranean pools. He’s immediately able to tell that Jadzia is Dax, and can tell that there is an imbalance between symbiont and host, and it’s the host’s fault. Not Jadzia’s, necessarily, but one of Dax’s past hosts may be the key to her medical problems.

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448. [DS9] The House of Quark

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

Quark is complaining about the loss of business due to the looming threat of the Dominion. Even Morn takes off, woman on his arm, leaving the only customer an incredibly inebriated Klingon who has run out of money but demands to be extended a line of credit so he can continue drinking. Quark initially tries to play tough, but forgets that he’s talking to a Klingon, and a dagger is pulled on him. The Klingon lunges at him, but in his drunken stupor, he impales himself on his own dagger.

However, Quark is no slouch when opportunity presents itself. Sure, he could just say the idiot Klingon killed himself… but, well, if he were to take credit for killing the Klingon in self-defense, he’d be legally in the clear, and would have a bit of notoriety and respect to carry with him. Crowds of people already are lining up to see what the fuss is, and surely they’ll buy a drink. Odo sees right through Quark’s claims, but since the only witness was Rom, who backs Quark’s story 100%, he’s gotta go with it. Still, he warns Quark that the Klingon he killed was Kozak, head of a Klingon house, and the house may look to avenge his death.

Quark is first accosted by D’Ghor, Kozak’s brother. Quark is about to say that Kozak’s death was an accident, but is warned by D’Ghor that should he say that, he would strip Kozak of all honor, and by extension, his house would be dishonored, and so D’Ghor would have to kill him for that. So his little fiction will have to play out a little longer… that is, until Kozak’s widow Grilka shows up and sees right through the whole thing. She knows he lied, and because Kozak has been considered to die in honorable combat, she has no rights to his house and it will fall to D’Ghor, a dishonorable man. Quark’s ability to deceive might come in handy for her, so she kidnaps him and takes him to Qo’noS.

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447. [DS9] The Search, Part II

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Odo has finally met his species. They explain to him that they once explored the stars but were shunned and attacked by the Solids, terms they use for humanoid non-liquid species. So they found this remote, hidden world and colonized it. But still, their desire to explore persisted, so when Odo and a hundred of his siblings were infants, they were sent out to all corners of the galaxy with an instinct driving them home, so they could return in hundreds of years with accumulated knowledge to share with the oceanic Great Link. But before Odo can rejoin, he must learn more about what it means to be a Changeling. Meanwhile, Kira is attempting to contact Sisko via a masked transmission, but having no success due to a power source on the planet blocking her.

Sisko and Bashir are aboard a shuttlecraft fleeing from the Defiant, heading back toward the wormhole, when they’re rescued by Dax and O’Brien. A lot of new developments have come about since they left for the Gamma Quadrant. After the two had been captured by the Jem’Hadar, they were taken to the Founders and convinced them they were serious about peace. Admiral Necheyev has come aboard DS9 to facilitate treaty talks with the Dominion. It looks like peace is in the best interests of all involved!

Too bad that’s only on the surface. Despite most Alpha Quadrant races being invited to the peace talks, the Romulans were excluded. T’Rul asserts that if the Romulans are left out, it’ll lead to war. (Nechayev points out to Sisko that they’d stand little chance against the combined might of the Federation and the Dominion though). Worse, the Federation is withdrawing from Bajor and DS9 and ceding control to the Dominion. The Bajoran government is not happy about this and has signed a pact with the Romulans. Sisko’s mission to bring them into the Federation may be completely over, and he may even soon be called to fight against them. Meanwhile, the Jem’Hadar get away with assaulting multiple people on the station, hospitalizing O’Brien and killing T’Rul.

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446. [DS9] The Search, Part I

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

It’s been two months since the Jem’Hadar wrecked the Odyssey’s shit. DS9’s senior staff has been running simulations to see how they could survive a Dominion incursion through the wormhole with nothing looking promising, and the only viable options being to retreat to Bajor or close the mouth of the wormhole. However, salvation decloaks in the form of the USS Defiant, the toughest little ship in the Alpha Quadrant, with Sisko in command. After the Battle of Wolf 359, Sisko was tasked to design a new kind of escort-class starship that served a single purpose: kill the Borg.

The Defiant-class was mothballed when the Borg threat didn’t seem to resurface, but with the new Dominion threat, Sisko was able to convince Starfleet HQ to give him the Defiant for a better station defense. They even made a deal with the Romulans to get a cloaking device installed, so long as it is only used in the Gamma Quadrant and the Federation shares all intel gathered with Romulus. T’Rul, a Romulan officer (who looks an awful lot like an upcoming Cardassian villain on Voyager), has been assigned to the Defiant to supervise the use of the cloak and prevent anyone from looking too closely at its workings.

Sisko has also brought some new Starfleet personnel aboard, including security officer Michael Eddington. His job is basically to handle all Starfleet security matters, which Odo takes personal offense at and interprets the whole thing as him getting the boot, so he preempts the whole thing and resigns his commission despite Sisko insisting that he’d still have jurisdiction over all station matters.

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445. [DS9] Season 2 Review

SCORE: image (3.81/5 stars)

DS9 keeps getting better and better. Season 2’s score is tied with season 3 of TNG, which I think is pretty damn indicative of its growth and finding its own feet apart from its parent show. As TNG struggles to find new stories to tell in its waning season, DS9 grows by leaps and bounds, exploring the political developments between the Alpha Quadrant powers and taking a look at not only the darker sides of Bajoran culture, but Federation citizens as well.

DS9 brought us the Maquis, a perfect response to the “oh we resolved everything in an hour” episode of TNG where the Federation-Cardassian Treaty was signed. Picard thinks everything is hunky-dory when the Federation colonists decide to remain on their colonies in Cardassian space, and Gul Evek assures him they’ll be fair. Cardassian officials have never ever lied, ever, and as they continue to funnel weapons into the DMZ in hopes of getting the Federation citizens to abandon their colonies, the Maquis rise up and take matters into their own hands when Starfleet can’t and won’t.

They are a fascinating villiain, the Maquis, because it’s hard to call them a villain despite their clear opposition to the main characters. Indeed, though their methods are hard to support, even Picard has noted that “we’re all sympathetic to the Maquis.” While they’re obviously being set up mainly for Voyager next season, they’ll still be a persistent thorn in the side of both the Federation and Cardassians for years to come, and it’s hard not to root for them.

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444. [DS9] The Jem’Hadar

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Sisko is looking to spend some more family time with Jake, so when Jake suggests they take a runabout to the Gamma Quadrant to perform a planetary survey for his school project, Benjamin is more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately for Sisko, Jake didn’t quite understand the whole point of father-son bonding time and invites Nog to go along with them so Nog can get credit for the science project too. And Quark sees a golden opportunity to attempt to convince Sisko to let him advertise and sell at all station monitors, so he insists on coming along if Nog is going. Great, just what Sisko wanted.

They find a planet with lots of plant life and beam down so Jake and Nog can conduct their survey. Quark complains about everything. He rubs goop on his ears much like you would expect to see on someone’s nose. He sees all this “nature” as something to exploit. And he has a bone to pick with Sisko about how he looks down on Ferengi culture, even calling him prejudiced.

Quark’s annoying pestering (peppered with some surprisingly good points) is quickly shut up when an alien comes running through the jungle and knocks Sisko off his feet with a telekinetic energy ball. It was self-defense of course, she panicked because she’s running from the “Jem’Hadar.” Sisko gets back to his feet, unhurt, but says he’s not with the Jem’Hadar and doesn’t even know who they are. “Then you’d better run,” she says, just as a couple dozen Jem’Hadar footsoldiers decloak around them. (Yup. Personal cloaks. Try that on for size, Romulans.)

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443. [TNG] Season 7 Review

SCORE: (3.12/5 stars)

While it’s sad to see TNG go, I can understand why they ended it where they did. The series had definitely peaked in season 5 and there was a noticeable decline in the quality of episodes, particularly in its final season. A two-parter that left you asking why it needed to be a two-parter and who was this stranger posing as Picard. A Scottish ghost romance novel set in the 24th century, complete with slightly awkward ghost sex scenes. Geordi getting a Mayweather-level disappointment of a focal episode. Data putting on a one-man mythology show that we’re pretty well locked out of. And everyone turning into dumb monsters written by a creationist-level understanding of evolution.

But that’s not to say that the bad episodes dominated. There was a much-appreciated renewed focus on character development, and far more exploration was done inward than outward this season. Beverly learned that Picard loved her all the way back to when she was married to Jack. Troi and Worf pursued a potential relationship, although I’m glad it didn’t end up actually happening. Jadzia and Worf are way better together. Ro Laren made her return and found a place where she finally belonged: the Maquis. And Wesley Crusher decided to resign from Starfleet and explore the galaxy with the Traveler. We even got a fantastic episode devoted to minor characters that we’d otherwise never see, including the Bajoran who was involved in the flight accident coverup with Wesley and Totally-Not-Tom-Paris.

The larger focus on the characters themselves is indicative of a continuing trend toward serial storytelling that DS9 and Babylon 5 at this time in television history are pioneering. I hate to say it, but throwing out Roddenberry’s rule that the crew cannot have internal conflicts makes for better storytelling. Plot thrives on conflict, and the cast is more interesting when they all don’t get along. Perhaps that’s why the next series coming up has a mixed faction crew.

TNG hands-down has the best series finale of any of the Trek series. It reflected on the past 7 years, looked to the potential future, and Q serving as judge was a fantastic bookend to the series. We saw how much the characters grew and saw each other as a family, and Picard even joins in on Riker’s traditional poker night at the end. “You were always welcome.”

It’s not the end for our crew, of course. After a year off, Worf will return to kick serious ass on DS9 and get more character development than he ever received on TNG. Four movies will continue the voyages of the starship Enterprise, and several of her crew will return for appearances in DS9 and a show about a little ship lost in space…

442. [TNG] All Good Things…

SCORE: image (5/5 stars)

Bathrobed Picard interrupts an almost-kiss between Worf and Troi because he forgot to take his space pills and now he’s gone all time-travelly. As he tells Deanna, he’s having trouble remembering the details, but he keeps finding himself slipping back and forth through time. During the conversation, he finds himself in the future at the Picard vineyards tending vines and talking to a Geordi with working eyes and reminiscing of days of yore. He then finds himself on a shuttlecraft being piloted to the Enterprise for the first time. The pilot of the shuttlecraft? Albert Einstein. Er, Tasha Yar.

As he returns to the present, Dr. Crusher can’t find any evidence that he’s physically moving through time, however, she did scan for Irumodic Syndrome (a neurological condition that his future-self has developed) and found that his brain has a defect that could potentially trigger Irumodic Syndrome, so his story holds at least some credibility. Before they can continue, the Enterprise receives orders to head to the Neutral Zone. A spacial anomaly has appeared in the Devron system and the Romulans are amassing on their side of the zone.

He then transitions to the future, where he left off in conversation with Geordi in his vineyard. He begins babbling like an old man, and when Geordi tries to write it off as senility, Picard demands they go see Data, who’s currently holding the Lucasian chair at Cambridge. (Which seems a little unfair as the Lucasian chair is a lifetime appointment, and Data can live a very long time.) Data is surrounded by cats and a snippy housekeeper, and has a shock of gray hair that he grew to add an “air of distinction.” As Data agrees to look into what Picard claims is happening to himself, another shift happens. (Heh. Shift happens.)

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441. [DS9] Tribunal

SCORE: image (4/5 stars)

The O’Briens are taking a runabout for some vacation time when they’re intercepted by a Cardassian ship. Gul Evek and his jackbooted thugs beam aboard and claim to be there to arrest O’Brien. Doesn’t matter that they’re not in Cardassian space. O’Brien keeps demanding to know what the charges are, but nobody’s forthcoming. When his struggling becomes too much, they stun him and beam him away, leaving Keiko fighting ineffectively against a single guard. She’s released and sent back to DS9, but O’Brien is taken to Cardassia Prime to stand trial.

If you remember from the Dukat/Sisko hunt for the Maquis leader, Dukat had mentioned how Cardassian justice was swift, and the verdict in every trial the same. O’Brien keeps demanding to know what he’s been charged of, and keeps being told that will be brought up when he stands trial. He’s assigned a conservator (sort of a public defender) who also won’t tell him what he’s charged of, and explains to him that trials are a means of propaganda whereby everyone sees how swift and just the Cardassian government is and thereby preserve order. The trial is not to ascertain guilt—guilt has been decided already. The trial is to show HOW guilt was ascertained.

Odo and Keiko are allowed to be present for the trial, Keiko because she’s the spouse and they love playing up the drama angle, Odo because he was made an Officer of the Court back when the Cardassians ran Terok Nor and the credentials are still current. He’s serving as O’Brien’s nestor, a role that I’m still not fully clear on (and going by the judge’s exasperation at his repeated interjections, a role that he himself doesn’t really understand).

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