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Wadi

Summary: Dax, Kira, Bashir and Sisko are held captive in a game by the Wadi – a gamma quadrant species that we never meet again. They have to complete the game before they can be released.

It seems to me to be a rather weak episode – there’s no reason or meaning in the encounter, nobody wins anything, the Wadi seem to have no purpose in the game other than entertainment, and we don’t learn anything of value about the Gamma Quadrant cultures. So what’s the point, unless the writers/ directors just wanted to have a bit of a laugh making the actors dance around and sing for the fun of it?

I’ve written about this episode more than once, not because I like it but because feeling that you’re a pawn in a game of the gods, or whoever the ‘powers that be’ might consist of (whether parents, partners, employers or government), controlling, arranging, moving us along without our consent or control, while we have no choice but to live by their rules is a common theme, at least in my life!

I feel a bit bombarded at the moment by conspiracy theories, you know – all those theories about New World Order leaders and secret societies that pull our strings. I don’t know why they’re conspiracy theories to be honest, it’s all hiding in plain sight. We are being managed, controlled, funneled along the paths the ‘powers that be’ wish us to follow, just like cattle. Even if we opt out and make our own choices, we are still limited by their economic policies.

Sometimes I feel a little bit like Cypher, who wanted to get plugged back into the Matrix without remembering anything about the truth of how the world really works. But the only way he could do that was by betraying everyone around him, and anyway it turned out not to be possible – getting plugged back in was an illusion in itself.

What can we do then? How shall we then live? Are we all really sheeple, just washed along on the tide of the warmongers and corporate interests that control the governments (no matter what shade or flavour that currently happens to be in)? Is there anything we can do to free ourselves, free our minds? Or is everything an illusion?

When do we get out of the game and start really living?

 

The Passenger

This is another one of the early, experimental episodes featuring aliens we never see again, and the story is unrelated to the overall mythology or anything else in the series.

In summary: A ship arrives in distress, carrying a dying man – a prisoner who has committed atrocities in the name of science to find a way to prolong his own life. Somehow, although his body is confirmed dead, it seems he has found a way to transfer his consciousness into another body.

To cut a long story short, it is eventually revealed that Vantika’s consciousness has been transferred to Dr Bashir and he proceeds to commandeer a ship and cause all sorts of trouble. I am rather fond of Siddig El Fadil but this sequence was a bit of really bad acting which made the episode unbelievable, which is a bit of a shame. I think he improves over the course of the series.

[I thought it would be really easy to find a clip of Bashir acting badly, but I couldn’t find one and I don’t know how to do it myself… so in lieu of what I really wanted, here’s Bashir’s personnel file:]

Compare this though with Jennifer Lien’s command performance in Star Trek Voyager in the episode Warlord where she is taken over by the consciousness of Tieran, a notorious murderous, villanous tyrant who has survived many lifetimes by body-jumping (it’s a very similar story in fact).

Again, I thought it would be easy to find the clip that I wanted, but this is the next best thing, with a nice tune as well 🙂

She was such an amazing actress, it is so, so sad that she has lost her way, getting into trouble and getting arrested firstly for domestic violence a few years ago (apparently the father has custody of the child) and then this year for ramming a police car and then later for indecent exposure in September – all signs seem to point towards mental illness of some kind, and I really hope she gets help and recovers, but I don’t know how likely that is in the US system.

So, real life application? Just that people are not always what or who they seem to be, and even sometimes people you think you know and can trust turn out to be different that we thought. how well can a man ever really know another man? (Or woman, obviously.)

Perhaps I’m cynical because I have experienced betrayal, lies and deceit more than once from people I least expected to behave that way. ‘Trust no-one’ seems a good motto until you realise that it’s no way to live. Relationships, friendships, are really what make life worth living, and if you never allow yourself to be vulnerable, you miss out on life itself. So don’t hide yourself away, folks. Go and get out there again, make new friends.

LLAP.

Film Review: The Machine

I wanted to re-post this here as it is obviously a science fiction film. I’m not sure why I liked the film so much as it was really quite dark and creepy! Enjoy! LLAP. (Warning in case you haven’t seen in – contains Spoilers!)

City Borg on the Prairie

I spent half an hour this morning writing a post about this fascinating film, and the internet ate my post. Ugh. So anyway, you can find the basic plot on Wikipedia.

Here are my condensed thoughts. Warning! Spoilers!

Netflix has this as a ‘G’ it is NOT a G or PG, it has some really brutal, bloody scenes.

Now, I know I keep saying I’m not a feminist, but I saw this from a totally feminist perspective and that’s one of the things that made it so fascinating.

It seems to me that Machine and the Cyborgs could be seen to represent a ‘new world, and perhaps the female world whereas everyone else represents the ‘old world’ of patriarchy.

One of the scenes that I couldn’t understand to begin with is Suri killing a guard in a horrible scene where he is dowsed in petrol and set alight. But after…

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Dax

It’s all nonsense, constable! I’m telling you, I knew the man.”
“But did you know the symbiont inside the man?”

– Sisko and Odo, discussing the murder charges facing Curzon Dax

Dax_on_trial

This episode features the trial of Jadzia Dax for a murder which may or may not have been committed by one of her antecedent selves, previous hosts of the Trill symbiont she carries.

The trial is reminiscent of Data’s trial which is to determine whether or not he is legally ‘alive’ for the purposes of deciding whether or not ‘human rights’ to self-determination apply to him.

I had not realised that this episode happened so early on in the series, and I suppose that really it was included in order to explore the idea of what it means to be Trill. We learn that not all Trill are lucky enough to become hosts; indeed there is enormous competition for the privilege, and Jadzia is impressively accomplished in her own right with several academic degrees to her name.

We learn about her immediately previous host Curzon, who was a friend and mentor to Commander Sisko, and quite different to Jadzia as a sometimes drunken, philandering, badly behaved Trill versus Jadzia who was an innocent, prim and proper young woman before joining.

Being joined with a symbiont has the effect of combining the young Trill’s personality with elements of all its previous hosts – in other words, it changes her so she is a new person. But to what extent does this change affect the host Trill? Does the newly joined Trill become responsible for the actions of its symbiont or its previous hosts?

As it happens, Curzon had not committed the murder, and it all comes out in the wash, but the question is never fully resolved – Dr Bashir testifies on her behalf to say that that the joined Trill is a completely new person and should not be held responsible for anything that happened prior to her time as host.

In real life, the application might be to look at whether individuals can be held responsible for the actions of their parents or ancestors. Benedict Cumberbatch recently spoke about his ancestors having owned slaves. It’s a horrible thought. He is obviously not proud, but should he feel guilty? Assuming he is not still benefiting from the wealth his slave-owning ancestors made off the back of slaves, is it best to leave it all in the past? If his family does still benefit from that wealth on the other hand, should they be made to give it up? give it back? to whom? How can past wrongs be righted so many generations later? Is it even possible?

I was thinking about the skeletons in my family’s cupboard. It was rumoured that my great grandmother on my father’s side, after having six daughters, had conceived her last child, a son, with another man, and the husband may have been ‘bumped off’! I never met that generation, so I know nothing of their characters or if there is any truth in the rumour. But what if it was true? What if the inheritance of the father went to the son who wasn’t his? It’s entirely possible.

Also on my father’s side, my cousin claims that when he traced the family tree he found that, beyond our Celtic heritage in Ireland, we had actually been descendants of Norman nobility, going all the way back to the wicked King John. I rather like that one. That makes me royalty. Bow to me, peasants! Haha! Sadly, second sons (and daughters) never inherited the title or the wealth.

On my mother’s side, the claim was that my grandfather had been a wealthy man of nobility with a title and wealth to his name, but had to give up his inheritance to marry my grandmother. I have no idea whether or not it’s really true. (I think my grandmother thought he was a teller of tall tales.)

What about you? Do you have ancestors that you are proud of? Ashamed of? What do you think you might find if you trace your family tree?

LLAP!

Warehouse 13

warehouse13

I thought I would post a quick note about Warehouse 13 as I just finished watching the series, and it was lots of fun and full of ‘endless wonder’.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I’ll try not to give away any spoilers, but it’s a bit like a comic mash-up of X-Files and Indiana Jones. Like Grimm, it covers lots of X-File style mysteries and explains them in a lighthearted, irreverent way with mild peril and adventure along the way of course.

Warehouse 13 is a secret government installation (think Area 51, but this is South Dakota) where dangerous supernatural artifacts are safely stored out of harm’s way. Operatives are drawn from other agencies to find and retrieve these objects or, as Artie calls it: ‘snag, tag and bag’ them and bring them back to the Warehouse for safekeeping.

The artifacts themselves range from a native American invisibility cloak to Alice in Wonderland’s mirror, to H G Wells’ time machine to the wings of Daedalus – basically, any famous myth or story that you know probably has an artifact at the core of the story, and they are all in the warehouse (except where lost or stolen, or carelessly left in museums!).

The mythology of Warehouse 13 develops over the seasons,and we learn that the Warehouses go back to the time of Alexander the Great and the Warehouse has moved countries 12 times to the site of the foremost civilisation in every era, including Warehouse 12 in Victorian London.

In addition to the artifacts, the Warehouse has its own has its own technology. During its tenure in London, lots of wondrous technology was conceived by agents of the Warehouse, including the Tesla gun, a weapon which stuns without causing serious harm, the Farnsworth communicator – a very steampunk video phone, and a steampunk keyboard of unspecified origin. All lots of fun.

warehousetech

The other thing that is lots of fun about Warehouse 13 is the cast. I hadn’t known any of the main cast other than Artie who was a Star Trek Next Generation character (Saul Rubinek who plays Kivas Fajo – a collector of rare objects who kidnaps Data to add to his collection) but there are many other semi-regular characters that I knew very, very well including, from Star Trek: Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), Jeri Ryan, (Seven of Nine), Brent Spiner (Data), Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Faran Tahir (the original captain in the 2009 Star Trek film), as well as the lovely Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman).

I will say, without spoilers, that I *loved* the character of H G Wells who became a regular member of the cast after she is revived from a steampunk form of hibernation called bronzing.

The interaction between the various characters is lots of fun, and there are constant references to Star Trek and other science fiction, so it’s really a total geek-out to watch, and the team grows season upon season until there are two main teams in addition to the base crew as well as all the regularly re-appearing cast members.

I don’t know why the show was cancelled, some of the stories towards the end were a bit weak and the final season seemed to end abruptly after just five episodes, and it seems a shame as it was really good while it lasted. The final episode was alright, but it featured each agent’s ‘defining moment’ which were adventures we had never seen before, which I thought was a bit rubbish and sad. But it’s definitely worth watching for a bit of light entertainment and I’m glad we found it. Enjoy it if you see it!

LLAP.

John Carter or Under the Moons of Mars

john carter

Netflix has been suggesting we watch John Carter for a while now, so we finally gave in and checked it out as I have seen it has been mentioned a lot since Star Wars 7 and it’s easy to see why.

Disney films are so variable, you never really know what to expect with them. Apparently, the film – released on the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the main character, did rather badly at the box office, but considering the amount spent making it, it would have had to sell an unprecedented amount just to have made even. Well it isn’t awful at all in fact – there were lots of things I liked about it, and probably the thing that put us off watching it earlier more than anything was the lame name, and the fact that the leads seemed to be relatively unknown.

John Carter, a Victorian era American soldier from Virginia is transported to the planet Mars, (which the natives call Barsoom) which is populated by two races of people – the green Martians (Tharks) and the red Martians (Therns), the latter of a similar appearance to humans, but since John Carter is from earth, he finds he has supernatural ability to jump great distances on Mars.

"JOHN CARTER"..Sarkoja (Polly Walker)..©2011 Disney. JOHN CARTER™ ERB, Inc.

The Tharks were very nicely conceived – tall green humanoid aliens with 4 arms and tusks.

The Princess of the red martians, Dejah Thoris, wears a costume conspicuously reminiscent of Slave Leia (although the Disney version is far more modest than her comic book counterparts), and although she is a princess, like Leia, she is to be married off to the leader of the enemy to broker peace and so, unwilling, she escapes to the Thark encampment disguised as a soldier.

dejah

The gladiatorial scene also definitely echoes the second (?) Star Wars prequel.

john carter colosseum

Although the John Carter film was made in 2012, and the look of the film is clearly influenced by Star Wars in its various manifestations, let’s not forget that the book pre-dated the Star Wars saga by more than 50 years. In fact it has been suggested that the John Carter series was at least partly the inspiration for Star Wars in the first place.

Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention, or maybe it was all the interruptions with my son complaining all the way through about CGI, but I found it very hard to follow.

[It seems more fantasy than science fiction firstly due to John Carter’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’ look, and the fact that it is set on a fictionalised version of Mars (you have to suspend a lot of disbelief since we know it’s not M-class and there’s no atmosphere, none of which is explained!) The science fiction elements include an artifact which teleports Carter to Mars by unspecified means, and the Therns use flying ‘Helium’ ship technology.]

The film didn’t make me truly love it, but it was ok. I might like to watch it again to see if I can make more sense of it second time round, and I do hope that they do eventually go ahead and complete the trilogy it was originally intended to be.

What the film did do for me though is to make me want to read the book, which has the far superior title of “Under the Moons of Mars” (I’m sure it would have done much better at the box office with that title).

I really liked the fact that Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, is one of the characters in the film as well, and in fact at the end of the film John Carter tells him, amongst other things, to “write a book”. Good advice!

LLAP.

Q-Less

Q_and_Vash_DS9

Although I love the actor John deLancie, I think I feel about Q exactly how one is supposed to feel about him – he’s an obnoxious, loathsome character, who is always unwelcome and turns up when you least expect him, and he keeps on popping up when you think you’ve got rid of him.

Thankfully I can’t think of anybody in real life who fits his character. Loathsome and obnoxious, yes. Manipulative, yes. But nobody who combines all those features rolled into one.

The idea in this episode is that Vash had been with Q ever since the Enterprise (TNG QPid) but had lived to regret it, and was now struggling to shake off this abusive partner.

A few of our married friends have gone on to split and divorce, one couple’s split in particular was a big surprise, seeming to have been the perfect couple with happy home and settled family.

But after the split the wife claimed that the husband had been abusive all through their marriage, and managed to turn all his kids against him.

In actual fact there was more than a little evidence that it was the other way round – she had been the drinker, violent, unfaithful, verbally abusive, shopaholic, and he had put up with it all, through thick and thin.

Who knows what really goes on behind closed doors? Presumably the children would be in the best place to know the truth of what went on in the relationship.

Vash’s character is not all innocent at all. When Picard met her, she was already a mercenary, thieving dealer in historical artifacts and of course her character has not improved through her time with Q. Q hangs around because she’s up to her old tricks again, and one of her artifacts puts the station at risk. Together with Quark’s insatiable greed, they make quite a pair.

“I’ll never understand this obsession with accumulating material wealth. You spend your entire life plotting and scheming to acquire more and more possessions until your living areas are bursting with useless junk. Then you die, your relatives sell everything, and start the cycle all over again.” – Odo

The highlight of the episode is Q and Sisko’s fight.

You hit me… Picard never hit me.
I’m not Picard.
Indeed not. You’re much easier to provoke. How fortunate for me.

Of course, everything is resolved in the episode, and Bashir wakes up completely ‘clueless’ about the events that have unfolded while he was asleep.

But we can be sure that we’ll see more of Q. Having spotted Sisko’s vulnerabilities, as all manipulators do, he will be bound to return to cause trouble another day.

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas and wish you all a happy new year. Or, as Spock might say, I hope you experience a pleasant celebration of your planet’s winter solstice, and a most logical new year.

solstice

LLAP.

 

The Island

The-island

The Island is a false utopian/ dystopian science fiction film from 2005 starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannsen who discover through a series of events and the main character, Lincoln Two Echo’s innate and insatiable curiosity that they are living not in a compound safe from the contamination of the outside world but rather they are ‘products’ – clones of rich and/ or desperately ill people on the outside who want or need organ donors (fresh ‘skin’ is mentioned as well as livers and kidneys) or surrogate mothers of babies for infertile (or unwilling) couples.

Of course none of the donors/ surrogates are willing participants, but are being deceived by means of a lottery whereby ‘winners’ are supposed to be transported to ‘The Island’, the last paradise where there is no contamination, and they are fed false memories and ideas designed to stop them questioning any of their environment or any of the lies. Lincoln’s ‘curiosity’ was supposed to have been genetically engineered out of them, but the ‘Echo’ generation seems to have developed it spontaneously anyway.

The whole business is operating in contravention of the Eugenics Laws of 2015, which I thought was neat as we were watching at the end of 2015. If the people on the outside had any idea of what was going on, they would have no part in it, and their multi-billion dollar enterprise would be ruined.

I won’t give away what happens in case you haven’t seen it.

It wasn’t particularly well received, nor critically acclaimed – it did better here in the UK and internationally than in the US, and it’s supposed to be quite derivative of other films (there are echoes of The Matrix amongst others). But I enjoyed it (again) it’s quite a gentle film – not too much horrific violence, only suggestions of it, and although there’s a sex scene it’s not graphic at all, so it’s reasonably ok as a family film, at least for sci-fi families with older children! (It has a 12 certificate.)

I was surprised to discover that it’s a Michael Bay film (yes, the man responsible for such atrocities as Transformers), and yes there is a lot of action and a few mild explosions, but it seemed really rather restrained for him.

4 out of 5 stars I think, I’d knock a star off for mild cheesiness and unlikely survival after a Michael Bay explosion!

Enjoy!

Captive Pursuit

Ah, Tosk. A species designed and bred to be prey, for the entertainment of a hunting species, to the extent that he does not even have his own name, he just identifies as Tosk, his very identity is prey. (There’s an echo of this in Voyager’s Hirogen and their holographic prey who rise up against them.)

I remember writing about this episode, but I don’t remember who I would have originally cast as Tosk, the hunters, Sisko, or O’Brien who is the hero of this story.

tosk

Right now I think that Tosk is me. I’m not really being pursued. No-one is after me. It’s just a feeling. But it is a recurring theme in my dreams, being on the run. I think it’s just a result of general anxiety really. I can’t pinpoint a specific worry.

But somehow, I seem to have attracted (or been spotted by) a string of manipulative, controlling women who used me and caused a lot of trouble.

The fact that it happened so many times made me begin to wonder why – I am not a pushover, I am not an easy target. I do not view myself as a victim. And I don’t think I am a bad judge of character. Actually, the first time I was taken in because I had no idea – the person in question was a real charmer, a complete snake.

But I wised up real quick, and I knew from the outset with the others that there was something not quite right. But still they kept spotting me. I think it was because I’m a basically nice person and probably more tolerant than most. But they were always surprised when I turned around and said “No” because when they make a mark, they think they can do anything!

I have found that drawing boundaries is really important, those type of people will push and push to see just how much they can get away with. And often, they’re subtle and cunning and you don’t realise you’re being pushed until you’re already well outside your comfort zone – like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling water.

It becomes necessary, for those of us who are essentially as ‘harmless as doves’ to also be as ‘wise as serpents’, because that’s just what they are.

wise serpent

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

starwars7

I do like Star Wars, love it actually. We one visited a Commune in Devon, teetering on the edge of joining them, but one of the things that put us off was not so much that they had no TV, but that some of the residents had lived there since the mid 70s and had never seen Star Wars! It was a lot like Cassandra’s Paradise again.

Anyhow, back to the new film. I had no expectations, Disney / J J Abrams didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. I expected it might be rubbish, and I kind of cultivated that expectation to avoid disappointment.

But actually, it wasn’t rubbish, it was pretty good. The characters were good. I really liked Rey and Finn. The scenes were good. I’d really like to watch again just to get another view of… Well, no spoilers.

But let me just say, on the subject of no spoilers, that there is *no way* that Han and Leia could have produced the character supposed to be their son…

…And two of my kids went home CRYING. Thanks a bunch, J J.

But, as every good Trekkie knows, George Lucas is the devil.