23 May 2015


Episode: s4, ep 2

A really strong emotional episode that deals with the issues Picard and Worf have hanging over them. Not the kind of thing I've come to expect from this show.

What Happens
The Enterprise is being fixed near Earth after the 'Borg incident'. Worf's parents (his adopted, human ones) have requested a visit, Worf seems... displeased. Picard is going to his family home for the first time in 20 years, Troi finds this interesting but says it's understandable after what he went through. Dr Crusher gets a box of her late-husband's things out of storage, including a recording he made when Wesley was a baby, she wonders whether it would be good for Wesley to see it.
Picard encounters his nephew (Rene) and sister-in-law (Marie), whom he has never met before. He and his brother have issues, which makes them hard to be around. Robert (the T is silent) Picard is a traditionalist like Picard senior was and doesn't like technology. Jean-Luc meets up with his old friend Louis who tries to headhunt Jean-Luc to help with a project to raise the floor of the Atlantic and create a new continent. Jean-Luc considers his future while being very stoic and brushing off his brother's rudeness. Marie offers sound advice and tries to stop the brothers from making the atmosphere in the house unbearable.
Worf's adoptive parents, Sergey and Helena Rozhenko, visit him from Russia. They are both very excited and not as reserved as Worf would like. His father was an engineer and wants to look at all the parts of the Enterprise. Both of them are worried about Worf and speak to Geordi and Guinan about him. Worf told them about his disgrace in the Klingon Empire, and though they don't fully understand the implications they know it has affected him badly. There are hints of what Worf was like as a child, and the difficulty of him being raised in a human community.
Picard and his brother get into a fight after Robert tactlessly questions Picard about what he went through with the Borg. They end up mud-wrestling amid the family vines and this releases the pent up tension, allowing Jean-Luc to finally react to the terrible things he was forced to do. Although this doesn't remove all the ill-feeling between them, the pair bond and get drunk together. Jean-Luc decides it is time to return to the Enterprise and Robert is less worried about his son dreaming of following in his uncle's footsteps.
Beverly Crusher gives Wesley the recording his father made and Wesley watches it in the holodeck.

Oh Captain My Captain
The Picard sign for recovery
Picard hasn't been home in 20 years, and while Star Fleet can mean people are away from home for a long time it's clear that this absence is unusually long. His talk with Troi reveals time has passed while ship and Captain have been recovering. Picard's physical recovery seems to have been smooth, but psychologically there's still work to be done. He mentions nightmares, but says they've stopped, and it sounds like Troi has been working with him in her Counsellor role. He's grateful for her help, but also dislikes her being analytical and I can only imagine he was a difficult patient.
Jean-Luc has never met his sister-in-law or young nephew before, though Marie has kept up communication with him. My mother is ten years younger than my uncle, and she says she never felt like she knew her brother well until she got to know him  through his wife. This isn't the same situation, but it made me think of that. Jean-Luc is friendly to his nephew, for all his claims of not being good with children he develops a rapport with the boy, but his relationship with Rene only appears a little. Rene is a symbol of the future of the Picard family.
Jean-Luc and Robert have a fraught relationship which involves resentment, jealousy and bullying, as well as the spectre of their father whose attitudes were a lot like Robert's. At first Robert seems grumpy and the issue appears to be his distrust and fear of technology. His brother flies a starship and he may not have electricity (the lighting might have been electric but nothing else was, the house looked a century old now, in the future it must look ancient -no wonder his poor wife has asked about getting a replicator). It's soon clear that their different lifestyles and how they got on with their father aren't the only issues at play. Robert behaves like a dick, and though Jean-Luc tries to be a polite guest at first he soon rises to his brother's taunts. The pair argue and accuse over long-held feelings and end up in a brother-on-brother mud wrestling fight. This seems to be what Robert wanted -though I certainly don't think think that justified saying Jean-Luc deserved what happened to him, nor am I entirely convinced that this was all some cunning plan of Robert's to get his brother to open up. Then again it's very easy to get personal when arguing with siblings. I have no trouble believing Robert bullied Jean-Luc. Much as I dislike Robert and his attitude, as an eldest sibling who didn't rebel against parental values and who experienced a certain amount of jealousy growing up, some of the stuff he says rings true. The wrestling stops with both brothers laughing at themselves, then Jean-Luc starts crying and grimacing as he finally confronts what the Borg did to him, and what they made him do to others. On his mud-covered face the smiles and grimaces form the same mouth-shape, but are so different in context. Both actors deliver excellent performances so the emotions feel very authentic.

Like Capt Picard his entire family seems French but sounds English (the actors are all British). They live in Le Barre in North-east France and grow wine in the traditional way. My earlier theory of Britain conquering France or France conquering Britain, leading to a blending of the cultures, is neither proved nor disproved by this episode.
Rene, Marie and Robert (pronounced Ro-bear) all have English accents, but their names are pronounced in the French way and they use occasional French words (Salut!). Towards the end the two brothers sing drunkenly in French. When saying goodbye (not au revoir) the adults all kiss each other on both cheeks, which is definitely not a British thing.
Then there is the confusing case of Jean-Luc's friend, who also has an English accent. His name is spelled Louis according to the credits (which I think of as the French way, though that doesn't always apply), but is pronounced the English way (Lewis) by everyone. I do not know if he is meant to be English or French? I assume French but then why wouldn't everyone call him "Lou-ee"? It is puzzling.
Of course it could be that this is a US show and if you're going to have Europeans speaking in English you'd better have their accents be something close to Received Pronunciation as that's what the viewers expect to hear from this side of the pond.

Klingon Warrior
I think Odo has this same chair.
I like to think they talk about it when
Worf's on DS9.
Worf wants to avoid spending time with his parents, and tries making excuses. Riker doesn't buy it (he had to spend time with his dad, and their relationship is terrible). Worf's parents turn out to be enthusiastic Russians, his father was an Engineer and is happily geeking out about the ship and telling everyone that he has the specs at home. Worf's mother clearly wants to dote on her son, but also knows he won't accept that, so she tries to keep his father in line and stop him from embarrassing Worf. Worf is just embarrassed anyway, aware that his controlled and reserved manner is undercut by his parents excitement. At one point he even tells them this, and his mother acknowledges that they aren't behaving as he'd like them to, but his father points out they're excited. The Rozhenkos tell Guinan that they knew it would be difficult raising a lone Klingon, and that they let him find out about his own culture by himself. He didn't have other Klingons about, but equally they never tried to make him human, and Guinan praises that. It's interesting that as a child he insisted on eating Klingon food, presumably his way of connecting to his identity, and it's nice that Helena learned to cook Klingon dishes for him.
It's Riker who first suggests that perhaps Worf is concerned about his Klingon dishonour, which I wasn't expecting as it happened more than 6 episodes ago and in a different series. Worf tells Riker that only a Klingon could understand his pain, but when Worf isn't present his parents' concern is evident. Sergey should be bursting to ask Geordi about the engines, but as soon as they're alone he wants a word about his son (though we don't hear that conversation). They eventually tell Worf that they know he's troubled but they will support him, even if he finds their support "too human". He admits that he wasn't sure if he wanted to see them, but he's glad they came.
I suspect that Worf has difficulty being in a support network. While growing up he no doubt felt isolated from all the humans around him (even supportive family members) and leaned on his Klingon identity, he often distances himself from stuff he has decided is "human". That said Worf doesn't seem entirely comfortable in Klingon company either, not helped by other Klingons question/taunting him about being too human/soft due to his Star Fleet position. He didn't grow up around other Klingons and most of his Klingon knowledge was theoretical while he was a child. He's not spent much time in Klingon society and so his pain at being dishonourably barred from it must be great.

The Crushers
Near the beginning Beverly Crusher questions whether she should show Wesley the recording of hisfather as she feels he's just starting to get over his father's death (I have no idea how long Jack Crusher has been dead, but I guess Wesley may have been struggling with it more than we've seen). Troi advises that it might be good for Wesley. Near the end of the episode Wesley sees the recording. We don't seen Beverly give him the recording, or talk to him about it. There are no scenes with mother and son together. The Crushers are only shown as a family unit when it is necessary in an episode, otherwise they seem fairly separate.
Jack Crusher gushes about being a new father and how that feels, happy and overwhelming it seems. He's optimistic about the future and also apologises for the absences his work will force upon them (I'm sure the irony doesn't need pointing out). It's sad that this bright and enthusiastic young man is dead. Wesley says goodbye to his father and it is sad. There's not much more to this story. This feels like a sub-subplot, we've seen Wesley's reactions to his father's death before and in more detail. I guess this is nice to have, but unlike Picard and Worf's stories it doesn't feel necessary.

Guinan's Hat: Navy Blue
When Worf's parents are looking at the stars Guinan introduces herself and asks about Worf. She praises the Rozhenkos for they way the raised Worf, even as they protest they didn't do anything special. It's not false modesty on their part, they did what they thought was right, but equally taking in an abandoned child and adopting him even though he is very different from you and your community is quite a thing. They admit that Worf isn't close to them (which is probably part of his distancing thing) but Guinan points out that it may be true on one level, but on another Worf looks to them for home rather than the Klingon Empire. The whole exchange between Guinan and the Rozhenkos is really lovely.

The End
Picard returns to the Enterprise as Worf's parents are leaving. Worf introduces them, perhaps with less trepidation than before, and Picard smiles as he leaves the warm family scene.
On Earth, Rene Picard looks up at the stars and dreams, his father Robert is content to let him

17 May 2015

Women on the Box

I'm going to talk about 3 British programmes that have no speculative elements in them whatsoever. How unlike me. Two of these were broadcast during the blog project and subsequent hiatus, so I'm talking about them a bit late.

Up the Women
The 2nd series was expended to 6 episodes on BBC2 from the original 3 episode run in 2013 on one of the BBC's second-string channels (though sadly it doesn't look like there will be more). I think this is just how the BBC does things nowadays, it was the same with In the Flesh. I remember when everything started with 6 episodes even if you never saw it again (I know to Americans this still sounds tiny, but that's kinda how it is). It's written by and stars Jessica Hynes, who I've always rather liked but now really admire.*

Set in 1910 against the background of the fight for women's voting rights, it is about 6 women (and 2 men) and their varied attitudes to women's suffrage. The first series saw intellectually curious Margaret become impassioned about the fight for the vote and encourage the women of her sewing group to get involved, with varied success and understanding. The second series builds on the existing dynamic with episodes featuring polling day, a visit from forward-thinking New Zealand sportsmen, a closeted homosexual suitor, and a cross-dressing group outing. Even though it's set in a very restrictive and uptight period the comedy is funny and not afraid to be rude. All sorts of topics including sex, marriage, snobbery and women's roles are covered with good humour and some dialogue that made me laugh out loud. It's all played very straight, no nudging or winking, which only makes the jokes more effective in my view.

The thing that really makes this series work so well is the interactions between the characters. Margaret and Helen both see themselves as the leader of the group, though Margaret's sometimes wobbly self-esteem and tendency to overthink stops her from reaching her potential (I feel for her a lot). Helen is usually the antagonist; the prim, controlling voice of the Establishment, but she's often undermined by her libertine mother who's obviously lived a varied and scandalous life. Helen's daughter Emily is also inspired by the cause of women's suffrage, and has a young woman's passion (or maybe she just takes after her grandmother) suggesting more radical action but still having difficulty openly defying her mother, or declaring her feelings for the man she loves. Eva is more interested in her own life and large family than politics, and she may seem like a bit of a ditz, but she means well and can be supportive of her friends. I suspect Eva is a bit of an everywoman character, though I don't know if that was the intention. Finally there's Gwen, the only lower-class woman of the group, a spinster that the others tend to unthinkingly treat like a skivvy, but whose lack of understanding in certain areas is made up for with good grace and occasionally brilliant practicality and enthusiasm. The token man of the group is Thomas, one of the best effeminate -but not camp- characters I have ever seen on TV. There are a lot of qualities Thomas does not have, but he is principled and compassionate. Finally there's Frank, the caretaker of the village hall where the episodes take place, a non nonsense working-class chap who finds the antics of these ladies somewhat perplexing.

Raised by Wolves
A new series to Channel 4, Raised by Wolves is set in a council estate estate in Wolverhampton (a city in the metropolitan county of the West Midlands, which also contains Birmingham, the city where I live). It's about a large, chaotic family, mostly following the mother Della, and the eldest two teenage daughters Germaine and Aretha. There is one boy among the siblings and the laid-back grandfather -Grampy- appears in the episodes too. It's written by Caitlin and Caroline Moran and is based on their own unusual childhood in Wolverhampton.

Eldest siblings Germaine and Aretha are intelligent and intellectual, aware of politics and pop culture, in a way that you don't tend to see in working class people on TV. Where Aretha is already fairly world-weary and able to see past the trappings of modern life, Germaine is keen to insert herself into the role of edgy outsider, even if that's not how others see her. Della is very dry and never afraid to get her hands dirty. There are various scenes of her doing something practical or giving very blunt and un-TV-mother-like advice to her children. She says it like it is: “We’re not southern twats and we’re not northern twats; we’re Midlands twats." I love this sentiment, if only because as a Midlander it's one I've shared for many years (albeit with less twats).

What's good about the show is that it's focused on what it's like to be a teenage girl, in a way you don't normally see. Despite her intelligence Germaine is attracted to a complete lout and is obviously horny as hell. In most teen-based shows girls are the ones to be attained and rarely is any focus given to their experience of hormones or loneliness (though previous Channel 4 show my Mad Fat Diary also did this). It is a balance that has long needed addressing because TV would have you believe that only men are put upon by puberty, lust and frustration, and that's simply not true. The character I most identified with is Aretha, her head in a book most of the time and never keen to participate, she's a young cynic who is dragged into things by her brash older sister and tries to shield the younger Yoko from Germaine's excesses (not that this reflects my life in any way, but I get the character's point of view best). It's very cool to have a show with multiple weird, offbeat female characters. Many shows will have one odd woman (who can range from regular, returner, or cameo) but never before have I seen so many non-mainstream depictions of women on a show, and it's great.

No Offence
A late addition to this post as it is currently airing on Channel 4, with the third episode broadcast on Tuesday. It's also the odd one out as it's not a half-hour sitcom but an hour-long police comedy drama. Although it is another new show that features prominently female characters. Written by Paul Abbott, whose work I've heard about but not seen much of, it is set in a Manchester police station.

It seems to be shaping into an ensemble show, as there's a cast of various characters, but so far DC Dinah Kowalska is a major focus. She's only person whose personal life we have seen, though that may be because in the first episode she takes work home in a very major way. Her potential promotion to sergeant is scuppered by a mistake she makes off duty, but she does set her station on the trail of a serial killer targeting disabled women. The show deals with serious crimes and treats these with appropriate weight, it is likely to be triggery for some people. Amid the serious stuff there is also a lightness of tone which is similar to that found in other workplace comedies, coupled with a very irreverent and sometimes dark or puerile sense of humour. This is largely embodied by Viv Deering, the mouthy Detective Inspector who is one of the most entertaining characters. Here is another definitely odd woman, but again one who is absolutely effective in getting stuff done. Newly-promoted Detective Sergeant Joy Freers is a nervy presence (and even she questions her promotion), but her insights and tactical knowledge prove she has earned her position and she doesn't quail when infiltrating a criminal's home. DC Spike Tanner seems like the traditional copper you get in this sort of show, and his character hasn't been explored much yet, but never at any point is there the slightest sign that he resents having women as his bosses. This is a gritty show, no gleam or glamour of the US-style cops and nothing cosy like the many police-procedural detective stories that already exist.

I haven't regularly watched a British cop show since Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, and it helped that the weird/speculative elements brought them to my attention. There are whole channels of crime/detective dramas from both sides of the Atlantic (and some places beyond), and I've tuned into a few here and there, but never latched on much. No Offence may not have the most original content, but the tone and style of it feel fresh and it's something I intend to keep watching.

* I started this post before her speech at the BAFTAs, now having heard about that I think I might love her just a little bit.

9 May 2015

The Best of Both Worlds Pt 2

Episode: s4, ep 1

This two-parter spanning a finale and a première is a big step up in terms of continuity and intrigue, especially when you look at the transitions between the previous series.* I was expecting to see a space battle, but even without that the pace of the episode is an improvement on many.

The Borg are close and the Admirals are worried, so they send Borg-expert Shelby to the Enterprise. People who aren't Riker are concerned about Riker's career trajectory and he's annoyed that up-and-comer Shelby is interested in his current job. The Borg headhunt Picard by kidnapping him, leaving Riker in command. A rescue attempt fails when it turns out that Picard has been altered by the Borg and is now their spokesperson (called Locutus). Riker doesn't stop to get advice or orders about Picard's situation, he fires on the Borg Cube...
What Happens
The Enterprise's one-shot weapon doesn't work and Locutus reveals the Borg have all Picard's knowledge. The Borg Cube zips away towards Earth. The Enterprise is damaged and can't join the fleet who are prepared to intercept the Borg at Wolf 359. The Admiral gives Riker a field promotion. Riker has a word with Shelby about putting aside their issues and working together with her as his First Officer. Guinan comes to see Riker and explains that she had Picard's ear because of their very close relationship, which she drops hints about. She tells Riker that in order to get through this he will have to let go of Picard completely, especially as the Borg have his knowledge.
The Admiral's comms drop out suggesting the battle isn't going well. The repaired Enterprise pursues the Borg and finds the devastation of the battlefield (battlespace? battlezone?). We don't get to see any of this space battle only the aftermath of broken ships and as the Enterprise remains in hot pursuit, there are presumably no nearby survivors. Riker gives Data and Worf a special assignment then goes to the battle bridge to try and negotiate. Locutus refuses negotiations as the Borg don't want anything and Locutus thinks it's a trick. The saucer section is separated as the Cube and the battle bridge exchange fire, and Data and Worf quietly take a shuttle into the Borg Cube. The Klingon and the android get Picard and beam back to the Enterprise. Locutus points out that removing him changes nothing as the Borg continue Earthwards.
They only have 27 minutes to save the Earth. Locutus is knocked out and taken to Data's lab, where
Data neural links with Picard to access the Borg system. Crusher monitors Picard's life signs, O'Brien monitors Data, and Troi is there to sense what's happening to Picard. Data is able to connect to the Borg system, slowing the advance of the Cube and causing it to attack the Enterprise. Picard himself facilitates the connection for Data and croaks "sleep." The Enterprise is close to being destroyed by the Borg, and Riker is about to ram the Cube when Data realises what Picard is trying to say. Data manages to access a low priority Borg system and puts the Borg in sleep mode, immediately ceasing the attack. Shelby and Worf beam over to the Borg Cube and confirm that their enemies are dormant. A self-destruct system has been started due to the malfunction and though Riker has the option to disarm it he has the Enterprise moved to a safe distance and the Cube explodes.
Picard is quickly returning to his old self. He and Riker share the ready room as Shelby leaves to help rebuild the fleet. Riker is still prickly about his career plans, but he and Shelby have a warmer, more respectful attitude to each other.

Oh Captain My Captain
We see Picard being upgraded by the Borg and it's a creepy scene as he lies expressionless, surrounded by machines that make him more machine-like. Though he never actually uses his laser-pointer headgear or unspecified-tool-arm for anything. The greater concern is that all of Picard's knowledge has been taken by the Borg. Picard's absence hangs heavy over the first part of the episode, it is the main thing Riker deals with. The Admiral has admired Picard since he was a cadet (not in an inappropriate way, it was because of his uphill-running skills) and views the Captain as a casualty of war, never a traitor.
As Locutus Picard is chillingly robotic. At one point Locutus is stomping around sickbay spouting Borg propaganda about their superior civilisation and good intentions. He's knocked out for being insufferable (and to take him to Data's lab). Locutus also says "Resistance is hopeless" suggesting he's understood the corporate message, but has fluffed the catchphrase wording. The images and Patrick Stewart's performance are definitely effective, and on an emotional level taking away Picard works, but I must admit I don't understand why the Borg need a spokesperson. This doesn't seem to be their usual practice, and as they have no concern for the thoughts or feelings of those they assimilate it's an odd move. When Riker tries to stall them by suggesting he prepare Earth for assimilation Locutus says: "Preparation is irrelevant. Your people will be assimilated as easily as Picard has been." Then why have a familiar face at all? These guys barely need to communicate with their victims. I suspect Picard's strategic knowledge made him more valuable.
During the neural link with Data it's clear Picard is under a lot of strain, but he's still there and helps as much as he's able. He reveals that he was conscious and remembered everything he'd done as Locutus, but being Picard he doesn't express weakness in front of his crew.

Riker: lover, adventurer, temporarily senior management
In the previous episode Riker didn't react very well to his sudden command role, but now that it's made official by an Admiral he puts more thought and care into it. He talks to Shelby in Engineering, praising her on her performance and acknowledging that although they haven't got on, he needs her to keep him on his toes. She pushes for the vacant first-officer post and he comments on her ambition but isn't angry when she points out her value at this time. There's no apology, but equally there's no bitching or snideness, both respect each other and have ways of working together in this challenging situation. It's all very mature and professional.
Riker makes clear to the senior crew that he can't replace Picard, but he will do the best he can. Guinan urges Riker to let go of Picard and tells Riker how low morale is. The crew know and like Riker, but they think they're going to die. Riker isn't sure he can save them, but Guinan points out that he needs to be. Just in case we'd believed the odd 'Riker plays things safe' message from the first part Riker comes up with a daring plan to rescue Picard, which is unpredictable in it's lack of logic and a gamble that Picard has enough Borg knowledge to be useful. At the end when it looks like all is lost Riker is ready to ram the Cube with the Enterprise, sacrificing their lives to save Earth and the Federation.

Does Not Compute
Locutus calls Data primitive and obsolete under Borg system, which makes sense coming from a species that enhances itself through cybernetic upgrades to organic beings; androids would seem like a dead end. Still there are no real parallels drawn between androids and the Borg, which I've commented before strikes me as odd. Data has the most equipment and expertise in this kind of thing. It's never said outright but he's probably the only one who can safely link with the Borg, plus being technology himself he probably perceives their systems quicker and more accurately than a human would. He's also the only one strong enough to match enhanced Picard and remove his cybernetic arm thing. Data hacks into the Borg systems to try and plant a command, but this attracts Borg attention. He figures out that Picard's "sleep" isn't request or expression of feeling but a suggestion about using the regeneration cycle, which is controlled by a low-priority, unguarded system. This episode demonstrates that the Borg's only real weakness is bad system infastructure.

Doctor Doctor
Crusher and Data have been working on possible nanite solution to Borg problem, it will take too long for this situation (weeks not hours). It sounds like a really promising place for further study, I am told it doesn't really come up again, somehow I am not surprised. Crusher examines and monitors Picard, seeing how the cybernetic implants are affecting him. She tries to connect with him as his friend, but it only briefly works before Locutus takes over.

Klingon Warrior and Blind Engineering
Geordi isn't in this episode much, and is mostly around as the Enterprise is recuperating from the initial Borg encounter. When Worf arrives in Engineering Geordi is delighted and gets Worf to help with some engine problems as he's "just the man I need." Yeah, Worf -the Chief of Security- is the only person who can help with a crucial engine problem. Certainly none of these engineers who are presumably littering Engineering can help. Again there seems to be an unspoken rift between Geordi and his staff. Riker seems to have considered Worf for a promotion, but as they're going into battle he acknowledges that Worf serves everyone best by staying in his tactical role. Riker talks to Worf about coming up with strategies that Picard won't know, Worf reckons they're fine because Borg have neither courage or honour. He does not elaborate on how he came to this conclusion.

Guinan's Hat: purple
Guianan pops in to see Riker, explaining that she had Picard's ear. She urges Riker to let go of Picard, not just because he's gone but because the enemy have everything he knows. She hints at the depth of her relationship with Picard "beyond friendship, beyond family", and says she's prepared to let him go. She acknowledges that it's harder because he wasn't killed, just taken from them. Riker can't try to imitate Picard, it won't work. He has to put aside his feelings of stepping into a great man's shoes and instead try to beat that great man.
I wonder whether she would have described their relationship to Picard in these terms. The series has not yet covered how Guinan and Picard know each other, leaving her mysterious and intriguing. Based on what I know I suspect that Guinan already knows/has experienced stuff that is in the future of her and Picard (though at this point the writers wouldn't know that, they were just preserving her mystery). It's interesting that Riker both follows and ignores Guinan's advice. Rescuing Picard is in no way letting him go, but equally it's not something Picard would have done at all. Picard would've listened to Guinan in all ways.

Staff Meetings: 1 (no time for more)
Riker tells Worf and Data he considered promoting them, but announces Shelby as his first officer. After their talk in Engineering he defers to her with more respect and grace than he showed in the previous episode. Everyone discusses options, nothing is decided. Riker gives a small speech about how he doesn't have Picard's way with words and can't replace him. He expresses confidence in everyone's ability, then dismisses them without giving any orders or devising a plan. Bet he was kicking himself just after everyone left.

Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
Riker goes to the battle bridge, leaving Shelby with the saucer section. This is exactly what you should do before engaging hostile forces, send the civilian population to safety if at all possible. Except that's not what Riker does. (Being so newly promoted Riker hasn't had the memo explaining that the Captain is charged every time the ship separates, which is presumably why Picard hardly ever did it when going into danger.) He only separates the saucer after drawing the Borg's attention and uses it to mask Data and Worf's shuttle. He knows Picard/Locutus is aware of the limited capability of the saucer, and so the battle bridge draws all the attention, and fire. Though there is a moment when Wesley points out the the saucer is a sitting duck. Riker is gambling with the most vulnerable part of his ship and its population, taking away the protection of the battle bridge's weapon's capability.

Death By Space Misadventure
We only see the aftermath of the space battle, but it was obviously a rout. Shelby names three damaged starships, we see many more. The Enterprise doesn't stop to rescue, suggesting there are no survivors there. From the info we get here everyone could have been killed.
I only know that they weren't because I've seen Deep Space 9. There must have been many casualties, the only one I can name is Jennifer Sisko, a civilian married to a star fleet officer. It's worth remembering that plenty of those who died were probably non-combatants.

The End
Picard left alone is still experiencing some physical discomfort, which puts him off his tea. He's gotten some blood back to his skin (or whatever made him pale has been reversed), but he still has some face furniture. He looks out of the window at space and the music combined with his expression shows this is a melancholy moment. He remembers what he did.

I used to work in a building called the Cube (which is not actually a cube). I have seen an article that compares my former workplace to a Borg Cube, I think that has more to do with the name than anything else, but I'll leave you to judge.

* Series 1 had a gripping penultimate episode but a weirdly anticlimactic finale, which did nothing to build on the success of the previous episode and only weakly hinted at an ongoing story. Series 2 opened with a bland episode featuring annoying tropes and ended with a clip show. Series 3 also started with a bland episode, but at least it was an improvement on the series 2 opener.

3 May 2015

Return of the Blog

Hi everybody!

I'd always intended to have a bit of a blogging break after the Agents of Shield postathon. Even allowing for the buffer I managed to build up for parts of that period, a longish post every 2 days is quite a lot of words and time. I didn't actually intend for the break to be as long as it has been. It was good to stop for a bit, and I've been working on other things in that time, but I know it probably looks like I'd abandoned ship. I haven't, it was just extended shore leave.

So what's happening with me?

I recently had a birthday and am now officially Nearly Thirty. This may mean that I'm supposed to make lists of goals and ambitions and such. I'm not going to do that. I can forsee some life changes in the next year or so, and I don't feel that I need to add to that with a list, which I expect would feel artificial.

There are things about myself that I want to work on, but these are the same things I've wanted to work on for some years now. This suggests that I'm kind of slow to change, or perhaps that I'm wary? There is personal stuff that has changed for the better in the last year, but it's not something I want to talk about on the internet. I will say that I've realised that you can change bad patterns you've developed, that the picture you have of yourself when you're young is not set in stone, but sometimes you need help with that.

I'm not always very good at sharing stuff about myself. I'd like to think I can be quite an open person, but that's not something I am consistent about and I'm sure I come across as aloof too. It can take me a while to feel comfortable, but not always, and I don't know which way I'm going to react. I think it's a confidence thing, I tend to assume I'm not particularly interesting and/or that I am somehow burdensome to others. I sometimes also feel like I don't know how to be friend to others and so I hold back or purposefully position myself on the fringe of things, because at least it's familiar there. I suspect this is thinking I should try to change as I'm sure it's holding me back.

Writing-wise I continue to alternate between feeling I have progressed in what I know, and being mad at myself for not doing more. The latter is helpful as long as it encourages me, but unfortunately it can also be really discouraging (at which point the feeling becomes counter-productive). Looking back I suspect I've gotten better at dealing with this too, though it doesn't always feel that way. I have also joined a fantasy writing group that a friend set up earlier this year. It's been interesting and has already proved helpful, so that's a good thing.

What I have definitely learned is that writing a second draft that's a different shape and tone to your first draft feels a lot like writing a first draft again, which doesn't feel like progress. Though alongside this I'm trying to redevelop the research skills I haven't used since I was student. I recently found out that my current job gives me access to a ridiculous number of academic journals, so that'll help. I'm not a heavy worldbuilder, but as I want the setting of my story to be somewhere unlike where I live (and I now have a main character who's a doctor) I do need to at least look up practical details. Hopefully this second draft will have more depth than the first.

Normal service will resume shortly. I will continue to do the TNG posts, as I feel like that's a thing I have committed to. I'll also try to get back into talking about books again, I'm not really sure why I stopped. In the spirit of what I've said above I may even talk about myself a bit more, though already the prospect feels somewhat self-indulgent.

Thank you for reading all the way down here (unless you've cheekily scrolled down, as that is kind of cheating, but I shan't hold it against you).