Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 3 “Explorers” and “Family Business”

familybusiness

Summary of this episode in a single picture.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

 

“Explorers”

Synopsis

Commander Sisko decides to see if the ancient Bajorans really could have traveled the stars with some kind of Solar craft. He grabs his son Jake and goes off into the stars, though with the Cardassians opposing the journey–after all, the silly Bajorans couldn’t have developed space flight before the Cardassians, right? Naturally, something goes wrong, but with a little bit of luck the Siskos manage to finish their journey to Cardassia and are met with space fireworks.

Commentary

“…and are met with space fireworks” pretty much sums up this episode. Is it silly? Yep. Is it lighthearted? Yeah. Is it fun? Absolutely. It’s the kind of silly aside that DS9 hasn’t done much so far, but that TNG (occasionally) excelled at. It also gave us some character development for Jake, which hasn’t happened much. One question I have is how the heck did Sisko manage to build this thing?

The side plot with Bashir agonizing over a class rival was interesting as well, but definitely as much an aside as it seems.

Not much more to say about this. Space sails and fireworks. Watch it.

Grade: A- “Lighthearted and fun, with a perfect ending to its silliness.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “It was just so impossible to believe.”

“Family Business”

Synopsis

Quark’s mom is under investigation for making money as a woman, a great crime in Ferengi society. Quark and Rom return home to help settle the business. She says she just wanted to make some money on the side. Quark tries to get her to sign a confession and make reparations, but she refuses. Rom manages to lie to both to get them to talk to each other. She finally agrees to pay back the money to please Quark. In reality, she tells Rom, she only gave a third of the money back, thus outsmarting everyone again. Back on DS9, Sisko meets a love interest Jake has been trying to set him up with, a certain Captain Yates.

Commentary

Quark’s mom, Ishka, has committed an ultimate crime–she made profit. What? Ferengi oppose profit? Yes, if it’s a woman making it. This episode makes light of the serious problem that women across many fields are prevented from succeeding by, frankly, patriarchy. But it doesn’t make light in such a way as to dismiss it; instead, it’s a kind of satire that helps show just how ridiculous Ferengi society is for refusing to allow women the chance to succeed. Similarly, it suggests, we ought not limit people by artificial lines of possibility.

Also, this episode was ridiculous and fun. It’s quite a bit like the previous episode in its fun, lightheartedness, but also stands on its own.

Another great aspect is the revealing of more of Ferengi society, showing what it’s like on the inside and back home. Cool architecture and absolutely perfect moments like chairs requiring payment to use make the Ferengi even more believable. DS9 has truly developed this race from being a source of absurdity to something quite interesting.

Grade: A- “A fun episode with a not-so-subtle message. Also, I love Ferengi society–very interesting.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I just thought it was great. His mom has excellent business skills and he appreciated her for it before it was too late.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

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Presidential Biographies: James Monroe #5

My quest to read (at least) one biography per President continues with James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States. The biography I chose with my selection process (reading reviews online and utilizing and  this website- My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies), I picked James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon.

Here, I’ll offer my thoughts on that biography, and proceed to the DEFINITIVE RANKING OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!

James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon

James Monroe – lived 1758-1831 ; President from 1817-1825

The Monroe Doctrine! You’ve heard of it, right? But do you know what it is? I barely did. Reading this biography helped set the Monroe Doctrine in its historical perspective and shed light on the issues that were pressing in Monroe’s day. But before we get to that, a broader survey is worth noting.

Monroe was another story of success in the United States from someone who held a relatively low place in society. There’s no question that Monroe’s family was wealthier than the vast majority of people in the United States at the time, but his family was also not among the absolute elite. They were planters, but wealth didn’t come easy and indeed, throughout Monroe’s life, he was struggling to make ends meet with his financial obligations and investments constantly battling for attention. He fought in the Revolutionary War and was opposed to the Federalist Party, forming part of the opposition to the ratification of the Constitution. His opposition was based on his feeling that it made the central government too powerful. He eventually went on to become a diplomat to France, and thus helped to orchestrate the wildly successful (depending on one’s view of the situation) Louisiana Purchase.

Elected President, he was one of the first powerful political figures who opposed the Federalist Party, which at this point was starting to collapse. His interest in foreign policy–perhaps bolstered by his time overseas in both Britain and France–was cemented into the Monroe Doctrine. Essentially, this Doctrine basically said that any attempt by European powers to interfere in America (North or South) would be treated as acts of agression and demand U.S. intervention. My analysis as follows would probably make a number of experts in the field weep, but this is how I’m going to summarize it. In a vacuum, this seems either remarkably interventionist or a kind of strange isolationism of two continents from another. But contextually, Monroe was dealing with the very real possibility of a number of colonies in South and Central America declaring independence and getting wars started all over. The Monroe Doctrine effectively gave a blanket warning to all the European Powers that the United States was going to do a bit more than sword rattling regarding wars on its borders. There was also the possibility of numerous colonies realigning themselves with European countries and thus creating major powers right next door to the United States–a danger that was all too real given that Washington D.C. had just been put to the torch in the War of 1812. Thus, the Doctrine at the time seemed reasonable and perhaps necessary. It also clearly helped set the U.S. up as a major power in the West and guided future foreign policy decisions, for better or ill.

Monroe was also of the opinion that Native Americans ought to be allowed to stay put, and he favored a policy in which the government dealt with Native Americans as a whole through a system of federal laws rather than along tribal lines. This was, at the time, seen as a more moderate position. It did, after all, guarantee a stronger Federal system to honor treaties with First Nations groups. However, as Ammon pointed out, the motivation was a bit more insidious, for Monroe and those like him favored this policy as a way to assimilate Native Americans into what they saw as the true “American” society–namely, white society. The thought was that by encouraging a “sedentary” lifestyle among Native groups, they would assimilate and basically just become more white people. This motivation is inexcusable, though the policy itself certainly seems preferable to that of many others’–including several Presidents–which was forced relocation and slaughter.

Regarding slaves, Monroe favored resettlement back in Africa. Ammon did not go much into Monroe’s thoughts on why this would be preferable to freed slaves living in the U.S. but based on what I’ve read from others at the time, it was likely because he and others felt that the freed slaves would be inherently stupid or incapable of living in society alongside whites. Again, I’m not positive this was Monroe’s motivation, but that was what many at the time used as their reasoning for sending slaves “back to Africa.” On the other hand, the freed slaves who did go on to make a colony in Africa–Liberia, specifically–named it Monrovia after the President, so they may have seen it as a pretty good thing. Moreover, it was helped along by the American Colonization Society, whose many members included evangelical Christians and Quakers who favored abolition but felt that freed slaves had a better chance of society in Africa. Nevertheless, it’s important not to lionize people like abolitionists purely for their views on slavery; many still felt that blacks were inferior on any number of levels due to mistaken beliefs about ancestry, among other things. I digress. Monroe did own slaves on his plantation, including while he was in office. So here we have yet another stain on the history of the Presidency.

The complexity of Madison’s treatment of slavery goes even farther, as he had to deal with issues that would lay the seeds for the Civil War. Debates over the legality and slavery in Missouri boiled over, but Monroe helped settle down the issue by offering a Second Missouri Compromise that at least ended the debate for the moment, though it did little to deal with lasting bitterness over the issues.

I thought the biography itself was quite fascinating, if a bit dry at times. Ammon has a very straightforward method of reporting the facts. Unlike some other biographies I’ve read so far, there appears to be very little by way of Ammon’s own view seeping in. Of course, any biographer is going to be biased, but I was hard-pressed to find any clear instances in this biography.

THE DEFINITIVE RANKING OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES*

My criteria for ranking the Presidents will be somewhat arbitrary. Random things I’ve thought of so far is whether they improved our infrastructure, how Presidential they acted/looked, whether they got us into any silly wars, and the like. As you can see, these criteria are somewhat… subjective. So you’ll probably end up disagreeing with me. I look forward to your comments!

1. George Washington (1st President- original ranking- #1): Washington basically defined the office of the President for all who followed him. It was left intentionally vague by the framers, so he had to work within those strictures while trying to expand on them. Not easy, but he seems to have done it rather ably, refusing to become a major partisan while still demanding certain powers of the Executive Branch. During his Presidency the national bank was created, the country’s credit recovered, massive trade booms occurred, the Mississippi was opened for exploration, and beneficial partnerships with other countries were being formed. On the other hand, during his Presidency and life generally, slavery was tolerated and even expanded, Native Americans were brutalized, and throughout it all Washington either participated directly or turned his face the other way. It is difficult to underestimate the impact of Washington on the office of the President. On the other hand, we ought not to lionize him or see him as perfection itself.

2. Thomas Jefferson (3rd President- original ranking- #2): Jefferson’s accomplishments as President, Secretary of State, and Revolutionary cannot be understated. He deftly handled relationships with such countries as France and Spain, while also helping to secure borders of the United States for decades to come. One of the biggest splashes of his Presidency was the Louisiana Purchase, which vastly increased the size of the country. However, Jefferson was also a blatant womanizer, a slave owner who pandered to abolitionist leanings while owning slaves, was clearly racist, and encouraged the destruction of Native groups living on the land that was “purchased” from Napoleon. Back on the positive side, he advocated for religious tolerance–even of other faiths–despite his Deistic leanings. His diplomatic skill is beyond dispute. He actively sought compromise and valued even minority opinions–lessons we need to re-learn now. The legacy he left would impact almost every aspect of the country going forward, for good or ill. It is difficult to fully analyze such a complex, contradictory man.

3. James Madison (4th President- original ranking- #3): Called the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison’s impact is perhaps most important for what he did prior to becoming President. The sheer amount of work he did to get the Constitution written, improve upon it, amend it, and put it to vote is astonishing. As President, perhaps the most important event in his career was the War of 1812, itself a possible foreshadowing of the many and sundry conflicts the United States has entered with tenuous justification since. Though often disastrous, the War did lead to, somewhat paradoxically, better relations between the United States and Britain going forward. Perhaps it is best said that Madison was the consummate compromiser, for good or ill. As with many others, his owning of slaves directly conflicted with his affirmation of the idea that all people are created equal.

4. James Monroe (5th President – original ranking- #4): Monroe was a master of foreign policy, and his Presidency and political career reflected that. Certainly left his mark on U.S. policy in ways that we still feel regarding Europe and South America in particular. Probably to be considered a “moderate” regarding relations with Native Americans and for his stance on slavery, though his positions were still bigoted and rather arrogant regarding both groups of people. Little by way of scandal (see Jefferson for an early example of some rather scandalous things going on with Presidents), so that makes him more Presidential than some. Also, he appeared to be a loving husband and father, overall.

5. John Adams (2nd President- original ranking- #2): There’s something to be said for the fact that Adams basically held the line against all the forces threatening to either break the United States back apart or subsume it under an “alliance” that would turn it into a kind of vassal state. Adams did that, and he managed to keep the US out of another war in its infancy. The political treatises Adams wrote went on to define the constitutions of many states and help clarify the relationship between the state and federal government. Adams did, however, fail to hold his own political party together, whether through inaction or simply not being charismatic enough or willing enough to step into the leadership role he needed to take. Moreover, Adams was an absentee (at best) father and husband.

*Rankings not definitive

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

 

 

Reading Through the [Alleged] Best 100 Science Fiction Books- #41-45

cflI’m a huge science fiction fan, but realized I haven’t read a lot of those works considered classics or greats. I decided to remedy that, and found a list online of the Top 100 Science Fiction Books. The list is determined by vote from sci-fi fans online, so it may change over time. I am going off the order of the list as it was when I first saw it. Each book will receive a grade between F and A+ as well as very brief comments. I’m interested to read what you think about these books as well. There will be very minor spoilers in some of these.

41. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle Grade: A
“Theology, technology, and imagination are intertwined in surprising ways in L’Engle’s classic. It’s scary and delightful all at once. So many elements are here that it becomes increasingly surprising that they manage to stay together without bursting apart at the seams. It’s a remarkable book on many levels.”

42. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov Grade: B
“Another proof that Asimov is capable of at least somewhat interesting characters. The first part of the story is the most compelling, as an apparently free source of energy is revealed to have dire consequences and pretty much nobody cares. Free energy is free, right? So who cares if everyone will die billions of years in the future? It’s the exact kind of reasoning that would probably be used, to the end of us all. But that dire feeling is mostly lost at the end of the book as Asimov changes its tone into a kind of future look at human colonization of the moon and the problems that might face. Yes, there are still references to the earlier portions of the book, and the solutions offered are interesting, but it lost something of the truly bleak and all-too-reasonable feel of the beginning chapters.”

43. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham Grade: B
“There is a lot going on in this book, and some of it stretches credulity a bit, but it is the kind of campy science fiction that makes you not mind so much. I mean really, plants that can’t see but sense people’s eyes as the weakest points on humans? Sure, yeah, why not? But the campiness also hides layers of complexity that aren’t immediately apparent. This is a pretty thoughtful book, though it is never quite clear what it is thinking about. I still haven’t figured out exactly what the message is that Wyndham is trying to get across here. It is also plagued a bit by outdated views of women. A good book with a few problems.”

44. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge Grade: A
“It’s as majestic as it is personal, alternating between intimate portrayals of human-alien relations and massive, sweeping conflict. It’s exciting and breathtaking. The only strikes against it are that in a few places it does drag and that it is occasionally so big that I as a reader lost track of all the events happening at once. A phenomenal read overall that will leave you thinking long after completing it.”

45. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Grade: A
“It’s basically a thoroughly Roman Catholic ‘Mad Max.’ Is it even possible to not like that as a concept for a novel? Effectively three short-stories tied together, this novel tells of a dystopian future at three stages. A Roman Catholic order of monks, those who follow Leibowitz, have preserved human knowledge after major nuclear war and pushback against learning and science have set humanity back centuries. It’s a haunting, beautiful novel with character and delight to spare. Fantastic.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Reading through the [Alleged] Best 100 Science Fiction Books– Check out more posts in this series as I continue.

SDG.

Presidential Biographies: James Madison #4

My quest to read (at least) one biography per President continues with James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. The biography I chose with my selection process (reading reviews online and utilizing and  this website- My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies), I picked James Madison by Richard Brookhiser.

Here, I’ll offer my thoughts on that biography, and proceed to the DEFINITIVE RANKING OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!

James Madison by Richard Brookhiser 

All said, I found  James Madison by Richard Brookhiser somewhat disappointing. Perhaps it’s just because I recently finished 3 giant biographies of Presidents that seemed to offer so much more insight into their character, backgrounds, and motivations than this book did, but I felt left wanting. Indeed, I didn’t feel as though I got as strong a grasp on the life and career of Madison as I did of the former 3 Presidents, and that’s a shame because it seems Madison has much to offer.

Madison is often called the Father of the Constitution, and though names like that often seem to lionize their namesakes rather than offer any compelling insight into their character, in this case it seems fairly accurate. Madison’s greatest contribution, it seems, was to effectively set our country’s entire government up by helping to write, amend, and sell the Constitution. I say sell because he did a lot of legwork and writing to help convince others the Constitution was a good idea. He helped strengthen the central government of the United States.

Another pre-Presidency achievement of Madison was to help complete the Louisiana Purchase. He was Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State at the time and it was in part at his urging that this massive increase of land of the United States was purchased. Though many may see this as purely excellent for the U.S., it is also clear that the Louisiana Purchase led to many later ills, particularly the destruction and genocidal acts perpetuated against First Nations groups on this continent.

As far as his Presidency goes, perhaps the flashiest aspect of it was the War of 1812. Madison clearly gave in to some popular opinion here, following the Hawks in congress and elsewhere and signing the war into law. This war was filled with disasters for the United States–including the burning of Washington, D.C. However, it also led to more leaders understanding the importance of a well-trained military and, particularly, a powerful navy. It set the United States on track for becoming a world power. More interestingly, after the conclusion of the war, relations between the U.S. and Great Britain continued to get better, not worse.

Madison’s legacy is clearly one of compromise. That word is often seen as a negative, but there is no good reason for negative connotations in this or many other cases. Madison knew that it took working together with people with whom he disagreed to get things done, and he frequently did exactly that. His lasting legacy may indelibly be wrapped into that of the Constitution, and for that Americans have much to thank Madison.

THE DEFINITIVE RANKING OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES*

My criteria for ranking the Presidents will be somewhat arbitrary. Random things I’ve thought of so far is whether they improved our infrastructure, how Presidential they acted/looked, whether they got us into any silly wars, and the like. As you can see, these criteria are somewhat… subjective. So you’ll probably end up disagreeing with me. I look forward to your comments!

1. George Washington (1st President- original ranking- #1): Washington basically defined the office of the President for all who followed him. It was left intentionally vague by the framers, so he had to work within those strictures while trying to expand on them. Not easy, but he seems to have done it rather ably, refusing to become a major partisan while still demanding certain powers of the Executive Branch. During his Presidency the national bank was created, the country’s credit recovered, massive trade booms occurred, the Mississippi was opened for exploration, and beneficial partnerships with other countries were being formed. On the other hand, during his Presidency and life generally, slavery was tolerated and even expanded, Native Americans were brutalized, and throughout it all Washington either participated directly or turned his face the other way. It is difficult to underestimate the impact of Washington on the office of the President. On the other hand, we ought not to lionize him or see him as perfection itself.

2. Thomas Jefferson (3rd President- original ranking- #2): Jefferson’s accomplishments as President, Secretary of State, and Revolutionary cannot be understated. He deftly handled relationships with such countries as France and Spain, while also helping to secure borders of the United States for decades to come. One of the biggest splashes of his Presidency was the Louisiana Purchase, which vastly increased the size of the country. However, Jefferson was also a blatant womanizer, a slave owner who pandered to abolitionist leanings while owning slaves, was clearly racist, and encouraged the destruction of Native groups living on the land that was “purchased” from Napoleon. Back on the positive side, he advocated for religious tolerance–even of other faiths–despite his Deistic leanings. His diplomatic skill is beyond dispute. He actively sought compromise and valued even minority opinions–lessons we need to re-learn now. The legacy he left would impact almost every aspect of the country going forward, for good or ill. It is difficult to fully analyze such a complex, contradictory man.

3. James Madison (4th President- original ranking- #3): Called the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison’s impact is perhaps most important for what he did prior to becoming President. The sheer amount of work he did to get the Constitution written, improve upon it, amend it, and put it to vote is astonishing. As President, perhaps the most important event in his career was the War of 1812, itself a possible foreshadowing of the many and sundry conflicts the United States has entered with tenuous justification since. Though often disastrous, the War did lead to, somewhat paradoxically, better relations between the United States and Britain going forward. Perhaps it is best said that Madison was the consummate compromiser, for good or ill. As with many others, his owning of slaves directly conflicted with his affirmation of the idea that all people are created equal.

4. John Adams (2nd President- original ranking- #2): There’s something to be said for the fact that Adams basically held the line against all the forces threatening to either break the United States back apart or subsume it under an “alliance” that would turn it into a kind of vassal state. Adams did that, and he managed to keep the US out of another war in its infancy. The political treatises Adams wrote went on to define the constitutions of many states and help clarify the relationship between the state and federal government. Adams did, however, fail to hold his own political party together, whether through inaction or simply not being charismatic enough or willing enough to step into the leadership role he needed to take. Moreover, Adams was an absentee (at best) father and husband.

*Rankings not definitive

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

 

 

Star Trek: DS9 Season 3 “Through the Looking Glass” and “Improbable Cause”/”The Die is Cast”

Improbable Friendship?

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Through the Looking Glass”

Synopsis

O’Brien comes over from the mirror universe first discovered in “Crossover” and kidnaps Sisko, bringing him back to the utterly different universe in which Cardassians, Bajorans, and Klingons work together to conquer the galaxy. He specifically grabbed Sisko because the Sisko in the mirror universe was killed in action rebelling against this coalition. He needs the “real” Sisko to take his counterpart’s place long enough to unite the rebellion and lure his wife (who is alive in this universe) back to the rebels. After some haranguing, Sisko agrees, and he succeeds at getting Jennifer away from the Alliance. His mission complete, he returns to the “real” universe, somewhat saddened by what could have been.

Commentary

When I saw “Crossover,” I assumed it’d be a one-off with no relevance going forward. That’s obviously not the case, though I don’t know if the mirror universe will show up again. This was, I thought, a superb use of the story of the previous episode that managed to avoid some of the flaws of “Crossover” while also strengthening Sisko as a character.

That, perhaps, is the real story of this episode: Sisko’s character development. We all don’t care much about the Mirror Universe–at least I didn’t–because we know it’s not “real” in the sense of the perspective of our characters. Thus, having Sisko go there and really get put through the ringer–his wife showing up alive and on the other side was genius–made me get invested in this episode in a way that “Crossover” couldn’t manage because it was too busy establishing the differences of the Mirror Universe. Here, we get Sisko struggling to deal with his own feelings of guilt, sorrow, and loss while also experiencing some hope. There is an intensely bittersweet taste to the whole thing at the end, with Sisko thinking on what could have been.

The plot of this one is solid too. It’s nothing special, but it is action-packed and exciting enough to get me as a viewer involved in the struggles of parallel characters in that Mirror Universe.

Grade: A-“It was cool to get another look at the alternative universe, and the story was fairly strong.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: 

“Improbable Cause” and “The Die is Cast”

Synopsis

A two-parter episode. Garak’s shop explodes and Odo investigates, leading to both becoming embroiled in a Romulan plot to kill Garak. As they pursue this lead, they are captured by Romulans who happen to have on board Garak’s former intelligence boss, Enebran Tain. It turns out the Cardassians and Romulans have decided to collaborate to try to end the Dominion threat by destroying the Founders. They bring a combined fleet through the Wormhole and Sisko et al. pursue in the Defiant. Drama ensues when a security officer sabotages the Defiant‘s cloak under orders from a Starfleet admiral, who is trying to let events play out. Meanwhile, Garak is forced to interrogate Odo, leading to a kind of torture in which Odo isn’t allowed to turn back into his liquid state. Garak finds out nothing useful, but begs Odo to let him stop the torture. The Cardassian-Romulan fleet attacks the surface of the Founder’s world but discovers it is a trap, and the fleet is annihilated by a huge number of Dominion ships. Garak goes to save Odo and is assisted by another changeling who reveals the whole thing was a plan by the Founders to end the threat of the Romulans and Cardassians. They escape, and back on DS9 Odo and Garak begin to repair their relationship by meeting for lunch.

Commentary

There is a ton here. First, I want to address the scenes with Garak and Odo. My goodness. It was brutal. To me, it seemed a bit implausible that Odo would turn around and immediately extend the olive branch to Garak after these scenes, but they sold it as a kind of thing with Odo knowing Garak did not wish to harm him. Though that feels a bit tenuous, it also speaks to how brutal reality can sometimes be.

Many other issues regarding the suspension of disbelief could be brought up from these episodes. I mean, seriously, how did the Cardassians and Romulans decided to work together and do so–taking entire fleets–with their overarching bodies allegedly not knowing about it at all? I am quite skeptical. Moreover, if the Dominion is really so powerful that they can just decimate a joint fleet like this, why not just swarm through the Wormhole and take everything over? I’m sure some of this is a setup for later intrigue, but it seems like the Dominion is pretty overpowered at this stage.

Garak’s character continues to have depth, though it’s always frustrating to lose out on how much of the background we get may or may not be true. I do think he got some strong development here, however.

Overall this is a strong two-part episode with some jarring and emotionally disturbing scenes.

Grade: A- “Deeply emotional and exciting, but the episode suffers from some serious implausibility issues.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment:

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 3 “Visionary” and “Distant Voices”

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Visionary”

Synopsis

O’Brien gets some kind of radiation poisoning and experiences time shifts, including one in which his “real” (?) self is dead. He must fight the clock against his visions of the future to save both his own life and the space station itself. As he does so, the difficulties he’s facing become more clear. He discovers that what destroys the station is a cloaked Romulan Warbird, which was sent to destroy the wormhole to prevent any threat of the Dominion from actualizing. They warn off the Warbird and all, including O’Brien’s life, is saved.

Commentary

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine could be subtitled: “O’Brien gets it.” Do they ever mess with the poor Chief Engineer or what? I mean seriously! The guy just wants to fix things, okay? Anyway, this one had a good sense of mystery and surrealism to it. As a viewer, you know more of what’s happening, and so one challenge that’s faced is keeping interest. They do this by having O’Brien actually figure things out in a rather logical, step-by-step progression alongside other people on the station.

The use of comedy throughout the episode is also remarkably well-done. The end, where O’Brien shows he knows at least a little about what might happen at Quark’s in the gambling games and teases Quark about it, is excellent. I laughed out loud.

“Visionary” falls victim to being yet another iteration of O’Brien is subjected to awful things, but it is still quite good.

Grade: B+ “The ‘O’Brien has bad things happen to him’ trope continues, but this is a solid episode. Perhaps the trope is there for a reason.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “Chief O’Brien has the worst luck.”

“Distant Voices”

Synopsis

Bashir is incapacitated by an attack after refusing to sell drugs to an alien associate of Quark’s. He wanders the station, aging throughout, as selected persons on the station appear increasingly agitated. Eventually, he figures out that characters are representing various aspects of his personality. He works to piece his personality back together and fight the alien’s weapon and incursions into his brain. Ultimately, after fighting with Garak about the futility of it all, he manages to defeat the alien personality and become conscious again. The alien has been arrested. Afterwards, Garak feigns hurt at not being trustworthy in Bashir’s subconscious, but reveals he believes this means Bashir has hope after all.

Commentary

First of all, is 30 really the end of vigor and life? If so, I’m pretty sad because I may have crossed that border sometime recently. Bashir didn’t make me feel very good about that. Oh well.

Anyway, I found this episode entertaining, but what the hell was happening throughout it? It’s another one of those DS9 weird episodes, but it is a bit more clumsily executed than others. Early on, I had already assumed Bashir’s vision wasn’t real;  it was too implausible. That took some of the suspense away from the episode in its entirety.

Also, Garak continues to be frustrating. I like the character, but we have yet to figure out hardly anything about him in actuality. I’d like to know more about him that’s real.

Grade: C+ “It wasn’t a bad episode. But what the heck did I just watch? Very strange.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was ridiculous but quite fun.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

The Star Wars Movies, Ranked

Everyone’s doing it, but has everyone read more than 100 Star Wars books? I have! But that doesn’t make me the biggest Star Wars fan ever or anything, I just like to say it. I mean, I love Star Wars and may have named my son after Luke Skywalker, but still, I think wars over who is a bigger fan are silly. Also at least 40 of those books weren’t very good. Anyhow, here’s the real definitive ranking of the Star Wars movies*

Episode IV: A New Hope – It’s complete on its own, it’s gorgeous, it still stands up today, and I love it
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – *inserts obligatory “it’s so dark, oh my gosh blah blah” phrases*- seriously, the reason this ranks so highly isn’t because it’s dark–any slasher movie is *dark*–it’s because it is viscerally foreboding 
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi- For a long time, this was my favorite, until I realized that A New Hope was really much better. I just like finales
Rogue One- Yes, it was truly amazing pretty much all around. The action, the acting, the plot–all were superb.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi- perhaps the most inward-looking Star Wars movie, but it felt a little bloated, didn’t have enough aliens, and I felt it was a bit silly at times. But Luke… was awesome and they really did quite well making this feel full of enough answers while still raising issues for the next movie(s)
Episode VII: The Force Awakens- I loved it all around, but it did feel maybe a tad too fan servicey and redundant from the Expanded Universe. That said, it was well done.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace- say what you want about it, there were a lot of scenes here I actually really enjoy; Darth Maul–and let’s just throw it out there, “Duel of the Fates” is possibly the greatest movie track ever made; the underwater scene was crazy, big, and fun; I enjoyed the podracing, so deal; etc., but yeah Jar Jar and Midichlorians ruined this
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – not well acted, and the whole Anakin to Vader is super rushed at the end, but at least it kind of wraps things up
Episode II: Attack of the Clones – It’s trash

*ranking not definitive