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"A WereWolf!", 10 June 2015
10/10

This second part was written by Jeri, who captured the essence of the first part. Of course, she had to wrangle a part for her son (Who would later become Vorick in Voyager) as the young reporter Twain is talking to in the teaser.

In fact, this teaser threw me for a loop, I had been expecting Twain to react differently. I had thought he was more of a progressive gent, but then again, he was acting on a perceived threat. And that is what made the characterization great.

Of course, Picard's away team is also acting on the same perceived threat, but with Landladies and crooked policemen (Played by William Boyett of "The Big Goodbye") interfering, it was harder for their little Shakespearean Acting Troop. But the meat of this story is all laid out here, where Data's history coincides with the Away Team's history, and both coincide to 1893's "Cholera Epidemic". This part of the story moves a lot more rapidly, as it is less Discovery and more Solution. And of course, includes Picard's very first meeting with Guinan.

Meanwhile, Twain is investigating Data, so eventually all blazes get let loose when all parties involved including the Dividia-II aliens meet up in the Mining Shaft. It's kind of an Er, "Explosive" situation. Which gives Twain a unique opportunity to meet a "were-Worf" I think such "time shifts" would drive normal people mad.

But the idea was to solve this conundrum and have fun at the same time, and it was a success in that respect. As a Fan of both Twain and Trek I was tickled. These two episodes speak for themselves, this is again the Heart of Trek- Prevent Alien Incursions, and Have Fun with Historical Figures.

Best Portrayal of Mark Twain, Best Two-Parter, 10 June 2015
10/10

I take GREAT Offense to those who pan this episode and particularly when they pan the great job Jerry Hardin ("Deep Throat" from The X-Files) did with Mark Twain. I've heard recordings of Mark Twain impersonators who knew him in his lifetime, and I've seen the rare footage Edison did of him, this marries the two. So we can literally SEE Mark Twain speak and walk and it is just done SO well, even compared to Hal Holbrook's great work.

In fact, I believe this episode happened. These two episode are so well written, and the concept is so odd, that I have to ask, which alternate universe did it come from? It's not the usual Time Travel gimmickry. As usual my formula for great Time episodes are when it's accidental, and I would say Data stumbling from Dividia II in the 24th Century to Market Street in 1893 San Fransisco is one great bumble.

And he does not lose a beat, he immediately picks up a newspaper and starts getting his bearings - AND a Poker Game with Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) and Mr Mott in human form, who says "Go to Blazes" to Joe Fallinghawk, the other card shark.

But what is of great importance here is Guinan's role in this, we finally get some great background of the character, and to see her with Mark Twain and Data just tickles me.

These Dividia II Aliens were so strange, so bizarre, and what they were doing so Insidious that my skin crawled. And that "Ophidian"... Shudder.

Data has to inspect his own 500-year old head, which is another creepy thing. "It has happened, it Will happen" - Only Data sees this logically without any fear.

But Mark Twain gets more than he bargains for when he eavesdrops on Guinan and Data. And why is that kid "Jack" at the Hotel so familiar? When I say I believe this story happened, well, "it has happened, it will happen..."

Once again the Heart of Trek, and it is dismissed and panned, 10 June 2015
10/10

Trek is supposed to be about meeting life that is so different, ideas that are so strange that there is no way to make a connection to it - It must make a connection to you. That is what happens here. In some ways this reminds me of the 3rd Season Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun" - Trek's 1966 statement of the film "Hour of the Gun" starring James Garner, also about the "OK Corral" incident - Probably the darkest film ever made about the Earp brothers, and one of the darkest Original Series episodes. But that was 1966. this was 1996 or so, 20 years later - New Trek premises, new Crew members. So where the Original Series used The Melkosians to get into Kirk's mind and dredge up The Old West, this episode gets into Chakotay's mind and uses - BOXING, of all things - to get ideas across, mainly to get ONE idea across to Chakotay.

The only connection is in Chakotay's Genes, who had a relative that could see different planes of existence. The only problem was that said relative, Chakotay's Great-Grandfather (Played by the also great first nation actor Ned Romero in Chakotay's Flashbacks) was considered insane.

It takes a while for us to start understanding what's happening, as this episode starts at the end and then goes back to the beginning. Chakotay was using his Holodeck Boxing program, at the same time Voyager because exposed to what 7-of-69 calls "Chaotic Space". so in an odd series of flashbacks, the story jumps backward to The Doctor having Chakotay also going back over the last few days to find out just when everything started going odd.

This experiment in Disjointed Storytelling worked well with the story that was being told, because it mirrored what was happening from Chakotay's point of view. But what I enjoyed in this, it was a Boxing story, and Robert Beltran appears to have had experience with Boxing, it seems like he's doing all of his own stunts.

And this show also includes Boothby, the beloved Groundskeeper of the Academy, who has been involved with just about every cadet who visited those hallowed halls. And Ray Walston was doing his best Burgess Meredith impression the day they were doing this, it's perfect.

Ideas like this are what made Trek in The Original Series, what kept it alive in the Films, and what Next Generation cut it's teeth with. I feel this is a return to true form for Trek. The concept was so odd that they had to create a metaphor for it, because ideas like "Rentrillic Trajectory" don't translate into English well. The concept that was in Chakotay's mind was so different it could only be understood from his viewpoint with his Boxing metaphor. and it's a successful marriage of ideas, including Chakotay's Native American gadget that starts his Dream Quests.

Therefore writer Michael Taylor succeeded with the concept and it was polished by TNG veteran Joe Menosky, to give us a startling and unusual story of Voyager's wanderings through the Delta Quadrant. Robert Beltran's gruff style was great for the Boxing angle.

And the very last few frames are perfect. I believe Chakotay was the great under appreciated character of Voyager, and it was only in the last two seasons, they gave him some great shows, and even a relationship with 7-of-69 - He deserved it.

Introducing Jean Grey, 10 June 2015
10/10

I think this was Fammke Jansen's first noticeable role.

The Character "Kamala" is very similar to that X-Men character she took on in 2000, and Patrick Stewart was there in that as well.

Both characters got into the heads of characters played by Patrick, but she did it here first. But Kamala was most unusual, able to get a rise even out of Worf who is usually immune to women. She was probably frustrated by Data, but so is everyone else so that's nothing new. Thanks to Data, who tries to protect her from the attentions of Three Miners who try to turn her into a Party Girl. One Growl from Worf and they run. Too Bad. But it was interesting to see the depiction of a woman whose personality changes according to the men she is around, we just WISH there were a real woman that was like this. But I'll bet there are women who would not mind a man who could do it too. But the concept is a form of cheating, negating the work it takes to achieve a real relationship. Oh, we'd LIKE it to be as easy as she makes it seem. But it is not.

Unforeseen Circumstances put her side by side with Picard, who is also usually immune to women. But as boring as he tries to be, he fails. Too late! It could have only been Picard. If it had been anyone else, Riker, she would have called the whole ceremony off and continued the war that was started by a woman like her in the first place. Or Kirk! What if it had been Kirk, the Dolman of Elaas was nothing compared to Kamala! We see Max Grodénchik as yet another Ferengi, but not "Rom" yet. And of course, the Ferengi's nosy snooping cause a lot of problems for Picard: as usual.

The resolution of this tale is the only way it could have happened, but the only other one who knows it is Ambassador Briam (Tim O'Connor), who was chosen for one reason: He was 200 years old! Kamala's Makeup became the Trill Facelift makeup in Deep Space 9. But only because the original Trill makeup did not look so hot on Terry Farrell, but Terry could have been yet another Female Metamorph.

Luwaxana and Alexander, two unlikely cronies, 10 June 2015
10/10

And this episode had me in stitches as it had Worf and Troi and Third Minister Campio in convulsions and knots.

Worf is having difficulties getting Alexander to start taking life seriously, therein lies the problem. Where Worf is great at planning Battle Tactics or Photon Torpedo configurations, he cannot handle one small Klingon/Human Boy, he never expected to have to. And he would not have had to, had Kehy'Ler lived. But Alexander is Worf's responsibility now, and where they both hurt from the loss of Keyh'Ler, the have to learn how to take solace in each other. But it is difficult, Worf is such a Party-Pooper. Even Guinan says so, she's seen other Klingons laugh, just not Worf.

So this episode is important for that developing story of Worf and Alexander- Luwaxana just happens to show up right when Alexander needs her the most.

And I have to admit something also, I also did not like the Luwaxana character that much - Until this episode.

I had to realize, this was Gene's wife, who had been part of this show ever since she was the original "Number One" in the first Star Trek Pilot "The Cage". So - WHY was she driving me nuts in every Next Generation episode? I think it was because, she was not acting, she was playing herself. And that was it. I am honored to have communicated to her in several emails in the 90's, when I was discussing her "Earth: Final Conflict" show that she created from one of Gene's old ideas. Luwaxana is who Majel is, so once I accepted that, I was able to accept Troi's eccentric but talented Mother. Even when she showed up chasing Odo on Deep Space 9.

This episode has Luwaxana times three, pulling out all of the stops. The wackiness and audacity of commandeering the Enterprise D to hold her Wedding to a Stuffed-Shirt nobility figure Tony Jay ("The Supreme Being" from 'Time Bandits') as Third Minister Campio, which was obnoxious enough! She had nothing in common with that guy, no disrespect to his position intended! But then she steps right in and commandeers Alexander. And that they both had fun despite Worf and Campio's interference, or even our interference.

Meanwhile, there is some Conundrum-Goop eating the electrical components of the ship, that adds a bit of tension.

But what makes it is the final scene, where Luwaxana shows up in the "traditional" Betazoid "garb" for weddings. As Picard said in "Up The Long Ladder": "Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd".

This is another Episode that bothered me, 10 June 2015
10/10

But not because it was a bad episode.

It is because, for the first time in Next Generation, Wesley Crusher is shown to be simply Human, and is put into a spot where he has to decide, "Do I keep my mouth shut and support my Leader Tom Paris... Er, I mean 'Nick Locarno'... and Picard will never trust me again in this lifetime, or do I tell the TRUTH right from the start?" I think this episode, despite my personal discomfort watching it, hits at the core of what Star Trek is all about. Our FIRST DUTY is to The Truth, however painful it might be to tell it, regardless of our feelings toward our crew mates and class mates, we MUST tell the Truth. That does not mean that there are not some times to withhold truth, that's called basic "tact" - But there are times to tell it right away. This idea even rises out of our TV sets and DVD players or SmartPhones, whatever we are using to watch this series, into our real lives. I think many of us might have had something similar happen to us. That is what makes this an episode to not pan or pass on.

I can accept Ensign/Cadet Crusher being ambivalent about this, he had developed a pattern of successes on The Enterprise that was leading toward an opportunity for command, which at this point in the series, was what the character wanted.

And we finally get to meet "Boothby" for the first time, portrayed by the great Ray Walston of "South Pacific", "Kiss Me Stupid", and "My Favorite Martian". And it is Boothby who states it: "Nick Locarno is leader, mentor, best friend and even surrogate father to those kids - He would do anything for them and they would do anything to support him, even if it requires jumping off a cliff".

This type of Cadet/Leader is even mirrored in the Deep Space Nine episode "Valiant" where a personality much like Locarno had been put in charge of a Defiant-Class Starship. "Captain" Tim Watters might have been the same to his "Red Squad" cadets as Locarno was to his "Nova Squadron" - But that DS9 episode shows the worst case scenario. Here, Picard is able to intervene before it gets to that point.

Locarno's "Nova Squadron" was not as large as Watter's Red Squad, so we get to see more of each member as they have to decide if they are going to tell the Truth or not. And they all would have lied to save their skins, had not Picard confronted Crusher.

And Picard knew how to Fine-Tune Crusher to get him to comply, by dangling Crusher's own values over a precipice. We know that what Picard thinks is what concerns Wesley the most, and therein lies the answer.

Look for Shannon Fill reprise Ensign Sito Jaxa in the Season 7 episode "Lower Decks" along with Jeri Taylor's son Alex Engberg as "Taurik" - Who may be Vorick's identical twin brother from Voyager. I only started understanding recently why they can't use these names - Tom Paris was supposed to be Locarno and Vorick was supposed to be Taurik - But they would have had to pay Jeri Taylor or Ronald D Moore for every episode those characters appear in. It's an unfortunate truth about TV shows and why characters get their names changed occasionally.

When a planet blows up, don't visit it the day before, 16 May 2015
10/10

I hear a lot of complaints about time stories. I'm tired of seeing them actually, cos lots of shows have dealt with aspects of time. Quantum Leap, Time Trax, Time Tunnel, Voyagers. But Trek is the proper place to have stores about time.

But this episode is more or less about an aspect of Kes' abilities. To tell us about it, there has to be a story "that never happened". This is probably the first Voyager episode where the whole crew is acting like a crew.

As far as the conundrum used, it surprised me. This is also one of the first Voyager Planet Based Eps, and Tom Paris and Janeway get caught up in a planet's politics.

Some new energy source was created by Andre Bormanis, with brand new backward-flowing Time Radiation. So that's how this story is told. How to get the Principles into the Past? We've seen all kinds of gimmicks in Trek, a malfunctioning Romulan Cloaking Device, a Neutron Star, a Regular Star, a bad Injector on a Runabout Nacelle, and even a good Ole Bajoran "Orb of Time" But here, we basically have holes in the continuum, which Paris gets sucked into. The thing we get shown is that Tom Paris, faulty as he is, is good with Children, even one he scares the Bejesus out of by "appearing out of nowhere"- And he is not above risking himself to save someone. And we get reminded that Janeway is a scientist. Picard was the Diplomat, Kirk used Fisticuffs, The Sisko had The Prophets. Here, we have Janeway's scientific Method, and probably the best 1st Season example of it in action.

The question is, how to get what Janeway figures out 24 hours into the Future? If it can't be done, it's "Future's End" once again.

This was my favorite 1st Season Voyager Offering. It is a cyclic episode, exploring Time's circular Arrow. As O'Brien would say: "I Hate Temporal Mechanics!" Here, we have Kes in the Future working with Janeway in the past to find the solution, and the payoff is, they do not have to get vaporized, and Voyager gets to continue on hiding from the Kazon Nistrum and Oogla and Viidians until season 3 or so.

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Happiness is a Worf Gorch, 4 May 2015
10/10

With a possible Treaty with the Klingons on the Horizon, Klingons are now coming back to The Station... Namely Grillka, who comes to visit her ex-husband Quark.

Unless you had seen "House of Quark", this episode will make not a whit of sense. But in fact, circumstances had already brought Quark to Qonos and to the former "House of Kozak", which would have been the "House of D'Ghor" had not Quark discovered, D'Ghor had brought down the House of Kozak- By using Filthy Money! And thanks to Quark, it is now the "House of Grillka".

But Worf gets one good look at Grillka and almost develops a Gorch (Or some other adolescent "growth"!). He thinks just because he's a Klingon, he can use Klingon Methods to attract her. Nope! Sorry, Worf.

His advances are doomed before he even tried them. Mainly we can say "Poor Worf"- Here is one really magnificent Klingon Woman, but she's not on the Station to have Worf dribble and drool and deliver a fresh Lingta.

There is one man on DS9 who can Bring Home the Lingta - Quark. But he doesn't know a groat's worth of Klingon Mating Rituals. So who do you think he has to ask? Of all the... We know Worf, although denied any romantic involvement with Grillka, he has no reason to do what he does next- He gives Quark every detail he needs to have a romantic, candle lit evening of listening to Klingon Opera over the Lingta Haunch.

While Worf is demeaning himself to help Quark get a date, who is stewing in the background other than Jadzia Dax? It's up to Worf to realize as magnificent as Grillka is, there is someone on the station even now, who is more suitable for him. It's a match made in Sto'Vo'Kor! Will Worf figure it out?

But during Quark's Advances, he is Challenged once again, a fight to the death using Battehl's- He can't simply get out if it the same way he did on the Klingon Homeworld- Sometimes, you can't just Ferengi your Way out of a Fight!

One thing I had forgot to mention, this episode has the first ever real musical sample of any Klingon Opera.

Babylon 5 within Deep Space Nine, 3 May 2015
10/10

Bashir's Uniform is "A Little Brighter"- Obviously, because DS9 started using the new First Contact uniforms.

Ironically, we have to remember something about Bashir, or rather, the "Bashir" who was wearing the new uniform in this and the next three episodes. Because Bashir is also still wearing his Old DS9 uniform- Maybe I should stop there, and wait until everyone has seen "In Purgatory's Shadow" - Then it will become clear how and why Bashir could be wearing a new uniform and an old uniform at the same time. And it is one of those typical things from this show that causes the jaw to drop.

Now, it offends me when people unfairly pan episodes simply because they are exploring something about Faith. And Worf says it here: During a discussion about the Bajoran's Religion and The Emissary in particular, Kira is being ribbed by O'Brien and Dax. But Worf tells her to take heart, not because he shares the same religion with Kira, but because he believes in FAITH. And if you consider Worf for one minute, if you consider the character from all of The Next Generation, you will realize he is one of the most religious people in the Trek 'Verse. He rigidly adheres to his Klingon heritage, while at the same time religiously adhering to Starfleet's Principles- His Faith allows him to retain Personal Honour even when his own countrymen consider him a pariah.

But that is because he is a man of Deep Faith and convictions, he never makes fun of anyone Else's religion, be it an Earth religion, or the religion of Bajor. But he won't put up with Hypocrisy, either.

And the point of this episode is mainly "The Sisko", he has started to accept that he IS "The Emissary" of the Prophets to Bajor, but until now, he was maybe not willing to do everything they are requiring of him.

Most people of real Faith struggle with this all the time, they question: "Is Ghod/Buddha/Krishna/YWHW/Moroni/etc, really asking me to do this?" - Most of the time, I can tell you from experience, probably not. If you have to think twice about it, it's NOT HIM. It's my personal belief that if Ghod wants something from us, we'll know it- There will be no question about it. The way to tell is that it will be something 180 degrees in reverse of what the person would expect to be asked to do.

The thing about Trek is that it treats religion with RESPECT, Trek explores our Terran religions by these episodes which tell us about The Emissary, the Prophets and The Bajoran Religion. They even dissect the concept of hypocrisy, in such a way as to not pan any religions of Earth, but to simply ask people, if they are really doing God's Will, or their own, in Ghod's Name? This is something I ask people who wish to put restrictions on me, whose will is it? Gods, or yours? Usually it's their agenda only and God enters into it not.

The Religion of Bajor also delves into the concept of Prophecy, which most people think has something to do with seeing the future. That's only part of it, Real prophecy is a bit more complicated.

As far as the DS9 story goes, The Sisko is being shown some of the things that will happen soon, he just doesn't know what it all means. Yet. Some of the blanks are just not filled in. It was a clever way to foreshadow the last episodes of season 5, in the form of Visions from The Prophets.

If there are any fans of the great J Michael Stracynski show "Babylon 5", you might see a parallel to when Ambassador Mollari is beaten up by G'Kar and sees a vision of "The Shadows" landing on his home world of Centauri Prime. The only difference between B5 and DS9 is that on B5, this is actually SHOWN "as a Vision" that Mollari has. It might have been more effective to show what The Sisko was seeing, but even without any visual cues we understand what will happen.

Somehow, I felt that Babylon 5 and DS9 were telling a parallel story, many of the same things happen, The Centauri and The Cardassians: They both make the same mistake and both suffer similar consequences.

Trek has no problem with digging right into sociological problems, 1 May 2015
10/10

I talked briefly about the politics beneath this pair of episodes, it was something that almost happened in Los Angeles. Actually, the "Riot" portion of it did occur there, in 1992, and in 1995, the aftermath of those riots were still visible. Writer Ira Steven Behr took something basically from his newspaper and wrote it into what we have here. What I will say is I love that guy, he was not afraid to hit the nail right on the head and he is even a fan of Iggy Pop, who was supposed to be in this episode. Iggy of course appears as the Vorta "Yelgun" later in "The Magnificent Ferengi".

Mainly, nobody wants a "forced welfare" state, but they don't want a "No Welfare State" either. In the 24th Century, Earth is an alleged Paradise: There is no need for money, people work for pleasure. It occurs to me that this is not explored much in any of the Trek series, we get a small glimpse of how Life on Earth was in the 2nd Season Voyager Episode "Non-Sequitor", but we've never had a good long look at how this "Perfect Society" will appear.

But this episode sits in the aftermath of those 1992 Riots, and can be revisited today with the Baltimore Riots. Which makes this a difficult episode to talk about, The Sisko is basically holding several people Hostage and incites a full scale riot, even one that will be named after him in a way.

The ingredients of the Riot are already mixed. There is always that one incident that pushes people over the edge. The Sisko, Bashir and Dax had landed on Earth right at the moment one of these incidents was about to ignite. The Sisko tries to avoid becoming involved in it, but in true Trek fashion, he becomes practically the central figure of the whole incident.

Mostly this episode deals with the issues of Homelessness and Repression, several characters are shown who "don't care" - As long as "they don't have to see it". Jadzia confronts several of these people at a 2024 "Party" in her rich savior "Chris Brynner's" Office (Played by Jim Metzler who was, appropriately, the City Councilman in LA Confidential). She is able to show Chris Brynner *why* he should care and this becomes an important plot point later.

On a humorous note, O'Brien and Major Kira (with a "Broken Nose") have to visit a San Fransisco Alleyway through several historical periods as they search for what era the Away Team had been spirited off to, in one era, it's the entrance to a Speakeasy, in another, they confront stoned Hippies, in each case the decor is perfect, especially the 60's- Ironically, I used to work in the Print Shop on Dore Alley where those 60's Rock Posters for The Fillmore were printed.

Regardless of how I feel about Trek Time Travel episodes, this pair of episodes are a nice mid 3rd season distraction from the upcoming and developing Dominion storyline. One thing I liked about these 90's Trek series, was that most of the seasons had a full 26-episode contingent, which gave plenty of time per season for all kinds of tangential stories. Most series these days are only allotted 22 episodes per season.


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