Star Trek: Voyager: Message in a Bottle   Rewatch 
October 12, 2017 2:55 AM - Season 4, Episode 14 - Subscribe

On a high-stakes solo mission to the Alpha Quadrant, the Doctor runs afoul of Romulan shipjackers and his very own next generation. Luckily, he brought the right…equipment.

I'll send an S.O.S. to Memory Alpha:

- Robert Picardo made some uncredited, humorous contributions to the script of this episode. Shortly before the end of Star Trek: Voyager's fourth season, Picardo explained, "I have gotten into the habit of calling [episode writer] Brannon [Braga] with joke suggestions, and I scored pretty well on that particular episode." At about the end of the fifth season, Picardo commented, "I'm still phoning Brannon quite often with potential joke lines, although my record is still 'Message in a Bottle'. I think I had six jokes that were mine, in that episode." All six of these humorous suggestions were promptly approved for use in the installment. One specific instance of the suggested jokes was, as described by Picardo himself, "in the scene with [...] EMH Mark-2... and my scripted line was 'Stop breathing down my neck.'" The actor recalled, "I said to Brannon, 'You know, we don't really breathe.' He said, 'It's just a Human expression.' It still troubled me." Picardo consequently requested the addition of two particular lines of dialogue. "I remember calling Brannon," remarked Picardo, "and suggesting the following two rejoinders: EMH Mark-2 says, 'My breathing is merely a simulation.' To which The Doctor replies, 'So is my neck. Stop it anyway.'"

- Robert Picardo suspected that he may have influenced some of the episode's jokes without being told he had. "There are even sex jokes which I insist Brannon Braga stole from my convention material," Picardo declared, "because I've been doing 10 minutes at conventions for a couple of years now about whether or not the holographic doctor is anatomically correct."

- The episode's final scene was considerably altered; the scene was first shot in Voyager's mess hall, with the ship's entire crew, but was subsequently reshot and relocated to sickbay. Explaining why the first version was not used, Robert Picardo stated, "It was too much. Originally, we had all these extras, and it was this big emotional moment. They decided it was too much like The Waltons. We ended up redoing that scene and keeping it small, just with Janeway, [Chakotay] and Tuvok."

- Although Andy Dick found that he extremely liked his Voyager character, he also found that portraying the EMH Mark II took him into unfamiliar territory. "I was right in thinking it would be a challenge for me," Dick admitted. "It was really an eclectic style of acting. It's like doing a French period drama and then doing Shakespeare. It was completely different from what I had done before. I mean, there's no comparing how we do NewsRadio to how they do Voyager. None [....] The characters are so different, too [....] As with Shakespeare, you have to stay within boundaries when you do a Star Trek show. The words are different; the style is different. I wanted to challenge myself and try that, too." He joked, "It was really like taking a class in Trekker-ism."

- Other difficulties were caused by the fact that, although Andy Dick normally wore glasses (including on NewsRadio), he found that he couldn't do so here. He said of his Voyager appearance, "One of the strangest things about doing it was that I couldn't wear my glasses [....] I was tripping down steps and bumping into things all the time. It was really funny."

- A particular relationship that Andy Dick valued was with Robert Picardo. "Robert Picardo was so awesome!" Dick raved. "He helped me so much, getting me to relax and helping me get that Star Trek jargon right. I don't think I could have pulled it off if he hadn't been there. Robert was hysterical. He's probably funnier than I am. He had me and the crew cracking up all day."

- Early in their working relationship, Robert Picardo and Andy Dick teased one another about each others' surnames. During production, Picardo remarked, "My favorite Andy Dick story is this. About three or four days into the shooting he says to me, 'So your name is Picardo. It's so close to Captain Picard. Do you get teased a lot about that?' And I said, 'Your name is Andy Dick, and you're going to make fun of mine?' So he laughed – apparently he has a sense of humor. I don't think you can grow up with a name like that and not have a healthy sense of humor."

- Initially, Robert Picardo was nervous about this episode's script. "That was one of our most overtly comic [episodes]," observed Picardo. "The whole second, third, and fourth acts with Andy Dick were quite funny, and intended to be funny. I'm always a little nervous when we try to do a funny script, because in my opinion Star Trek has never been known for its comedy [....] The situations they put us in were funny, so there was a lot of high anxiety and panic." Ultimately, however, Robert Picardo was very pleased with the episode. He opined, "'Message in a Bottle' was [...] very well done. It was quite a funny show, but its ending was quite serious [....] It was an exciting show." Additionally, Picardo considered this episode to be "a nice demonstration of how the writers can use me, and find ways to give me interesting and different things to do, within the given circumstances of this character."

- This is the second time that Judson Scott has portrayed a character who commandeers a Starfleet ship. He previously played the (uncredited) role of Joachim, who assisted Khan Noonien Singh in hijacking the USS Reliant in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

- Tiny Ron (Idrin) is better known for his role as Maihar'du, the Hupyrian servant of Grand Nagus Zek, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

- The two Starfleet officers beaming over to the bridge of the Prometheus near the end of this episode were played by two regular DS9 extras. This is probably because, unlike the Voyager extras, they were fitted with the latest Starfleet uniforms – the same type as can be seen worn by the other Starfleet officers aboard the Prometheus here, including the EMH Mark II. However, they carry Voyager-style compression phaser rifles, one of the few times that Alpha Quadrant personnel are seen with these weapons.

- According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant, the bridge of the Prometheus was a redress of the USS Enterprise-E's bridge. This would seem to contradict Michael Okuda's text commentary from the Directors Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which claims that the Prometheus bridge was an extensive redress of the Enterprise bridge set originally built for that film. Visual effects supervisor Mitch Suskin was highly pleased with the sets for the Prometheus. "I think the art department did an amazing job on the interior of the Prometheus," Suskin remarked.

- Voyager was officially declared lost fourteen months before the events of this episode, which is approximately at the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager's third season.

- The Doctor's message at the end of this episode seems to suggest that the Romulan Telek R'Mor from the first season installment "Eye of the Needle" did not, or could not, make arrangements to send Voyager's personal letters to their families, in 2371, after his death in 2367, which would have informed Starfleet of the ship's location in the Delta Quadrant.

- The Doctor states four years have passed since his activation, placing the events of this episode in 2375, despite that it takes place in 2374. It is unclear, since the events of "Year of Hell" and "Year of Hell, Part II" were excised from the timeline due to the destruction of the Krenim Temporal Weapon Ship, whether that "year" took place, or if no time passed from the beginning to the end of it.

- Tom Paris, while treating acute functional dyspepsia in sickbay, says, "It's heartburn, Neelix, not the Tarellian plague." The Tarellians, and their plague, were seen in the TNG episode "Haven".

- This episode marks the first appearance of the Hirogen on the series.

- Robert Picardo later cited this as one of two episodes from the fourth season that he knew had been favorites of fans on the Internet (the other such outing being "Living Witness").


"What did you feed them anyway?"
"Rodeo Red's Red-Hot, Rootin'-Tootin' Chili."

- Neelix telling Tom Paris what he fed the crew


"I have even had sexual relations."
"Sex, how's that possible? We're not equipped."
"Let's just say I made an addition to my program."

- The Doctor and EMH Mark II


"The secondary gyrodyne relays in the propulsion field inter-matrix have depolarized."
"In English!"
"I'm just reading what it says here!"

- EMH Mark II and The Doctor


"Our viewscreen is non-operational. We've had some trouble with... Starfleet commandos..."

- The Doctor, impersonating a Romulan


"My brilliant existence cut short... no time to explore the universe... no time to smell the roses... no time for... sex..."

- EMH Mark II


"Doctor, we've done it! Two holograms alone, Romulans on one side, Starfleet on the other, alarms beeping everywhere!"
"EMH Mark II; newborn but filled with courage!"
"EMH Mark I; armed with years of experience!"
"Together they emerge triumphant!"
"The end."

- EMH Mark II and The Doctor, summarizing their adventure


"60,000 light years... seems a little bit closer today."

- Captain Janeway, after being told The Doctor's message


Poster's Log:
So this is actually NOT one of mwhybark's must-see VOY installments, but I for one would probably put it on a Close-Call Runners-Up list. As the MA page mentions, the way this episode wraps up had a significant knock-on effect in later episodes.

It's great fun, of course, though I feel like its comedy sort of teetered over the edge of descending into excessive retro camp, the way DS9: "Profit and Lace" did (leaving aside that episode's additional huge problem w/r/t gender). But the dramatic stakes were just enough to keep the episode grounded. Andy Dick was well-used here, echoing Picardo himself a bit (as did Alexander Siddig in DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"), which suggests that Zimmerman doesn't adjust his medical holograms' personality subroutines too drastically with each iteration. I also enjoyed seeing Joachim again; his Romulan wasn't as menacing or deep as some of the franchise's better Romulans, but he worked well here in a frustrated, put-upon, bank-manager-confronted-with-the-Stooges sort of way.

And the Prometheus was cool in a fanboyish way. It almost feels like something out of the Trek Expanded Universe, though I'm probably saying that because it figured prominently therein following this episode.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
This is far from VOY's deepest meditation on the personhood of holograms, but there is a bit of that in here—Voyager's EMH inspiring Prometheus's to become more than his programming and all—and for those further interested in the topic, there's some pretty deep, and at times acrimonious, discussion of it and related topics in the recent Blade Runner 2049 FF thread (warning: spoilers). I recommend the film, but it's dark and disturbing, moreso than the original.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Particle of the Week: We had several MacGuffins in the air here already, so no time for particles causing problems this time.
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: There's technically a lot to talk about here, but I'd prefer to discuss the Hirogen later. In the meantime, several ships based on the Prometheus are available from the Star Trek Online cash shop. I've never flown any of them - ships separating into smaller ships seems like the opposite of Voltron, and therefore something to be avoided. (See also: saucer separation.)

Ongoing Counts: Another roll forward.
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: 17.
* Shuttles: Down 8.
* Crew: 141.
* Other: 46 bio-neural gelpacks remaining, maybe 25-50% of the escape pods should be gone at this point.
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 9.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 1 game of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

Notes:
* This is another episode that muddies the waters about holographic sapients in Trek.

The idea that the Doctor is irreplaceable is a narrative choice that the writers like, and it makes sense from a dramatic standpoint: if the crew could summon up a whole bunch of him, that's a strain on the budget and removes a bunch of possible plotlines where he's at risk. (It also offers a lot of questions about stuff like 'why don't Starfleet ships have holographic security officers to shore up their lackluster internal defenses?')

So... there can only really be one Doctor, and the ability to replace him is necessarily difficult, especially in the wake of Projections. (There's talk of a backup every so often - Year of Hell brought it up, and Living Witness relies on it, but that's also treated as a one-off affair each time, like they have a dusty backup module in storage someplace that may need tweaking or repairs.)

However, this doesn't make a lick of sense given what we know about holograms in the general TNG era. Making sapient holodeck characters is so easy that it's happened accidentally: Geordi endangered the ship conjuring up an opponent that could defeat Data. Moriarty was at least as capable of critical thinking and improvisation as the Doctor, arguably moreso. More recently, we saw Janeway's da Vinci program occupy the Doctor's mobile emitter and behave very similarly to the Doctor - he could solve various engineering problems, was still fully Turing-capable and so on despite having a perceptual constraint about his location common to holodeck characters.

The idea that holodeck characters can be rendered instantly by the computer with any sort of expert knowledge you please, (from 'behave just like the Leonardo da Vinci' to 'duplicate the behavior of a living Starfleet officer on file'), but that a medical hologram requires a bunch of extra stuff is just... not internally consistent. It's the same problem the holodecks have generally: the writers want them to be their own walled-off thing so badly that the holodecks use a separate power supply from the rest of the ship that cannot be tapped for other uses no matter how dire the situation.

It's completely lazy and nonsensical, and the subplot about Harry trying to replace the Doctor highlights it in a bad way. I mean, the Gray's Anatomy joke is funny and all, but it's drawing attention to some major holes in the entire Trek franchise.

* The Prometheus itself was a little silly for me.

I mentioned this above, but I feel it's worth mentioning twice. The Defiant is a Federation warship done right, (compact, uncomfortable, looks designed for quick mass production), while the Prometheus feels like a boondoggle. I suppose that may be true in-universe though: IIRC, we don't see a ship like this again.

* The array is a decent gimmick.

Its introduction was a little abrupt, and the Hirogen are especially hardheaded aliens of the week here, but the idea that there's an alien communications array Voyager could piggyback a signal on is plausible. It's a good way to get Voyager in touch with Starfleet without giving them an immediate way home. I liked it way better than yet another wormhole.

* Cool shout out to the Tal Shiar.

The idea that the Tal Shiar isn't merely an intelligence service, but its own shadow faction was a big deal in DS9's excellent two-parter Improbable Cause/The Die Is Cast. It's also an ongoing thing in the MMO. I'd forgotten that detail from the original airing, so that was a neat surprise upon rewatch.

* The hologram team-up is fun.

I complain a lot about hologram stuff in Star Trek because they didn't think it through even a little. However, Andy Dick and Robert Picardo are pretty great in their stuff here - that all worked pretty well for me. Ultimately, I agree with Cheeses: the humor skirted the line of 'too much,' but I think it managed to stay in bounds. Overall, this episode isn't one of Voyager's absolute best, but it's both fun taken individually, and important for understanding a bunch of major events later on. It's also fun to know that Picardo was responsible for some of the humor.
posted by mordax at 5:23 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


IIRC, we don't see a ship like this again.

The MA page alleges that it makes a cameo in "Endgame," but…I gotta say, the MA pages for this series may be starting to go downhill. I dunno whether Jack's experience has been similar to mine, but the phrasing is getting weird, the organization is even worse than usual, and it looks like in a couple of seasons the sheer amount of detail is going to drop off from "asphyxiatingly excessive" to "carelessly cursory." In the MA page for this episode, I found something, don't remember what, that was a straight-up non-fact. (I elected not to challenge it within MA because I didn't want to fall victim to the worst of the classic blunders: never get involved in an edit war on a Wikia.)

But yes, Prometheus does feel like a boondoggle, but a slick-looking one at least.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:11 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


The idea that holodeck characters can be rendered instantly by the computer with any sort of expert knowledge you please, (from 'behave just like the Leonardo da Vinci' to 'duplicate the behavior of a living Starfleet officer on file'), but that a medical hologram requires a bunch of extra stuff is just... not internally consistent.

Every time this sort of thing comes up I'm quick to mention Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space series of books (especially The Prefect) which have a good take on simulated people. In t there are three levels of simulations: Gamma, Beta, and Alpha. Gamma-level simulations are basically futuristic chatbots, with pre-programmed behavior. Beta-level simulations are created deterministically, basically a computer monitors your behavior then models a program that exactly duplicates that behavior. This is analogous to a Star-Trek holodeck character. An alpha-level simulation is depicted as having a "true conciousness" that beta-level simulations lack, since beta levels only seek to simulate the responses of a conscious mind. I suppose The Doctor and say, Data, would be examples of an Alpha-level consciousness. Characters in-universe question if there really is an important difference between alpha and beta simulations, since alpha levels are awarded the rights of a sapient and betas are treated as digital slaves.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:36 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


I thought that this was a great episode, not just because of what it does but how it does it. Not only does it have a great science fiction premise (when all you can send across the galaxy is information, send a sentient program to investigate the situation), but one that's very specific to Star Trek, where the speed of subspace communication has always outstripped warp drive; not only is the episode funny, but it's funny in a fairly serious setting (the Romulan strike team that took over the Prometheus killed everyone, and they're going to hand the ship directly over to the Tal'Shiar; this is especially significant given the timing of the Dominion War and the Federation's attempts to get the Romulans on board with the Alliance); and it's obviously a big Doctor episode, but it takes the two-pronged approach of both confronting him with This Year's Model of EMH while demonstrating all the ways that he's grown beyond his original operational parameters, while still challenging him enough to bring on that pop-eyed dismay that Robert Picardo does so well.

In terms of the various problems WRT how holograms are handled on the show, I think that they're pretty easy to No-Prize away. The "no back-ups for the EMH, except when it's plot-convenient" can be explained if you accept that the ship either had no back-up facility when it embarked, or that it was damaged in the transit to the DQ. ("Caretaker broke it" can explain quite a lot; it's almost too convenient.) So, this is obviously a problem, especially when you're doing things like using your ship's only really qualified medic (sorry, Tom) to do a transgalactic Hail Mary pass over a data network that you discovered literally minutes ago, so you look around in the various junk stores and flea markets of Planet-o-the-Week and find something that looks like it should work... only once you back up the Doctor's holomatrixthingy to it, you can't get the data back out again. So B'Elanna sticks it on a shelf somewhere, time passes, things happen, and several centuries later another civilization figures out how to make it work, thus "Living Witness."

As far as the difficulty in re-creating the Doctor, a couple of things there. First, the fact that Moriarty happened is a great reason for making sure that Moriarty (or another exceedingly clever hologram) can't happen again, at least by accident. The Federation is still pretty skittish about AIs, I think, and is still working out how to treat them, as witness the time that they were ready to vivisect a highly-decorated Starfleet officer on the off-chance that they could reverse-engineer him, because why not. All it would have taken for Starfleet and the Federation to have become a maybe-less-benevolent version of the Culture would have been Moriarty being willing to clone himself and an open subspace channel. So, you probably have certain limits on holoprogram sentience, with the EMH and Vic Fontaine being restricted to certain functions, although we'll see that the EMH eventually gets to be an ECH, under certain circumstances. Mr.Encyclopedia's comments re: the Revelation Space system would make sense if the Federation were at that level, but I don't think that they're there yet, although by the end of this series, they seem to be moving somewhat in that direction.

Also, WRT CheesesOfBrazil's comment regarding Memory Alpha: yeah, I've noticed that as well. The DS9 entries tend to be more even in terms of their level of information probably because they're based heavily on the DS9 Companion, which is an excellent source of information--Terry Erdmann and Paula Block got access to the DS9 sets and, in addition to the factual information, got some very frank opinions from the show staff. The Voyager Companion, on the other hand, was pretty weaksauce, I'm guessing because UPN kept a tighter grip on the crew giving some maybe unflattering opinions of what was going on behind the scenes. So, there's a lot of information about the first few seasons, but not a lot about the rest except for what can be scraped together from random interviews. (A lot of this episode's MA entry seems to come from Andy Dick.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:03 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I mentioned this above, but I feel it's worth mentioning twice. The Defiant is a Federation warship done right, (compact, uncomfortable, looks designed for quick mass production), while the Prometheus feels like a boondoggle. I suppose that may be true in-universe though: IIRC, we don't see a ship like this again.

After watching some Star Trek Discovery, I'm thinking that it's not totally unusual for the Federation to crank out one or two prototype starships based on a crazy idea, and then mothball them if the idea doesn't work out / isn't practical to mass produce.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:19 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


IIRC, it's semi-canon that one of the reasons why you see so many different models of starships in Starfleet is that they made a decision, post-Wolf 359, to vary them as much as practically possible because of the Borg; once the Collective figured out the weak point(s) of a particular ship class, it was all over. (The more practical real-life reason would be that, with the advent of CGI, they could put as many different types of ships on the screen as John Eaves and Rick Sternbach felt like designing.) There was also a trend away from relying on big capital ships like the Enterprise, although the Prometheus seems to be of a similar size, maybe; splitting up into three smaller ships may be their way of trying to have it both ways.

Also, I wanted to add onto my comment above re: the Leonardo hologram, which, if I'm remembering correctly (and I may not be), wasn't actually created by Janeway or anyone else on the crew. There could be a bunch of holodeck programs that are just sitting around, like a bunch of games that you bought on Steam for $5 apiece while they were on sale and then just kind of forgot about. There are obviously holodeck programs that are created by the crew--Tuvok's Insurrection Alpha in "Worst Case Scenario", the Doctor's Photons Be Free in "Author, Author"--but those rely on familiar settings and characters based directly (more or less) on Voyager's own crew. Sandrine's is a Tom Paris original, I think, but also based on a real-life place. Pretty sure that "Club Neelix" is original.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:44 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I think the guess about there being a tighter lid on behind the scenes info on Voyager is likely a good one. Even if it wasn't an official dictate from UPN itself, I've long suspected the writers weren't entirely open about some aspects of their dealings with the network for reasons likely related to their own acceptances of sketchy attitudes, see Kes going and Seven joining the crew, and just the general belief in not slagging one's past employers since they may very well be one's future employers too. See Harvey Weinstein for details.

About the doctor's "sapience", I tend to think they are fairly consistent on the difference between the doctor and the other holograms, even if it isn't immediately apparent in how the other holograms behave. As they say a number of times, one of the key things about the doctor is how he "exceeded his programming" that is to suggest not only he learns, but that he can behave in ways counter to his design.

The Turing test is obviously not a useful measure in Trek, and for good reason I think since it is so narrow, limited to "our" perception of whether an AI could pass for human intelligence. While that demand has yet to be met, it isn't difficult to imagine it could be exceeded and still not yield a sentient being, even if it appears that there is sapience since we would be the measure, not something intrinsic to the AI.

Comparing the doctor, for example, to DaVinci, Davinci wasn't able to exceed his programming, not only couldn't he recognize an alien planet as being something other than America, he wasn't able to fully conceptualize who Janeway was, his situation, or a number of other things one might think of as signalling a more robust self awareness. Being DaVinci meant he could extrapolate scientific concepts to different materials and follow his "logic" to adopt reasoned approaches to obstacles, but there was a limit to how far that could go as almost stated explicitly in Janeway's parable about the sparrow.

Moriarity would perhaps be another example of a character whose own strengths, that of deductive logic, would allow him to seem to exceed his parameters, but that may not be quite the same as the doctor since logical inference isn't what is alleged to make the doctor "real", and perhaps that measure wouldn't fit Moriarity. (Though I admit that episode is too foggy for me to remember the details of clearly, so I'm only speculating based on what I do know about the character.)

Voyager, being Voyager, of course fucks this up in some episodes too. Most notably Equinox part 2 where they pretty much gut the idea of the doctor being more than a program given his actions once his "ethical subroutines" are deleted. So, as one would expect, they aren't entirely consistent but they do at least suggest there is something other than a Turing like determination needed to recognize individuality beyond the program. There are plenty of other questions that could reasonably be asked about all that of course, including what that suggests for Voyager's main computer, what "rights" the doctor would have in regards to Voyager given it is the seat of his consciousness, or perhaps, given Equinox and a couple other episodes, whether he is actually as individualized as they think.

As to the backup doc, my theory was they could always reactivate an non-aware doctor at any time, but doing so would essentially replace our doctor unless he was somehow off the system. (Which is maybe sort of hinted at in Projections with Zimmerman.) It'd basically be a reboot in other words. (The suggestion of a more aware backup I guess would be that he has an earlier aware version of himself stored in the databanks that they could go back to, something that would explain Living Witness perhaps, but that, for me, is another outlier episode and one which I seem to be in the minority on in not particularly liking.)

Now I'd better go watch the episode so I can see how it works against what I just said, as it's bound to do since I shot my mouth off before double checking it.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:49 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Andy Dick as EMH MkII trying to figure out how to crawl through a small service hatch is physical-comedy genius.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:50 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


Ah, good to see this episode was pretty much as enjoyable as I remembered it being. There were a couple of moments that were a bit questionable, Janeway and crew being so eager to send the doctor on a risky journey without much thought of losing him being foremost. I can understand the initial reaction given the chance for making contact, and not being entirely focused on the doctor's safety given his holographic status, but they should have been more critical of their actions once he was gone and they hadn't received a quick response. The scene on the bridge with Janeway talking to Chakotay about letters home should have been about questioning their haste in sending the doctor and worry about his safety and return.

Of course the idea they could send the doctor but not messages is pretty silly on the face of it, and even much more so with the scene showing Harry and Tom trying to program their own version of the EMH. Given the amount of data the doctor would have to have as part of his program now, it's really, really difficult to imagine sending that as a datastream, how it would possibly retain his consciousness going to and fro, and what that would suggest about how they envision data working, since it evidently is removed from Voyager's computer and send in its entirely to Prometheus, which really shouldn't be a thing they'd need to do.

Secondly, the attempted programming of the EMRH, or was it REMH?, is also pretty silly on the face of it given what amounts of data any of their usual holographic programs would have to contain to work. I mean, that requires the assumption that the data is somehow dedicated to individual holograms rather than being normally stored data accessible by any program, which seems to be how they envision the doctor for unknown reasons. If the holomatrix can't handle text files of Gray's Anatomy and however many other volumes of medical literature they have, then it certainly couldn't handle that plus all the personality, history, and other bits of data the doctor would be made up of, even DaVinci or one of the bikini girls from Neelix's luau would be more data heavy than that.

Why does Tom all of a sudden need Harry to do the job anyway? He creates more holoprograms than the rest of the crew, from what we've seen anyway. Wouldn't it be easier just to add medical info to an already fully working holocharacter? The doctor modifies himself all the time and we know they had a couple other doctor types in their holographic database already, so reconfiguring one of those with some additional know how should be the easier path to take. The problem should be in the diagnosis and improvisational aspects of those programs, but they've already shown that isn't the case, so that doesn't provide a good excuse either.

But we already knew the holographic concept was riddled with inconsistencies from the get go, so while it's fun to try and figure out how it could possibly work, it'll still be a mess so instead probably better to just enjoy what they did with the idea even if it's hard to fathom.

Picardo and Dick are a lot of fun together. I enjoyed seeing the Romulans again, they always seem underused for a signature TOS species. These weren't particularly good examples of Romulanning at its finest, but they'll do and the little side story about Prometheus and the Romulans was a nice touch, even though it's hard to figure how 27 Romulans took over a state of the art Starfleet vessel without it sustaining any noticeable damage other than an entirely dead crew.

The ship itself is nifty and I like the prototype explanation, and the reasoning in the posts above for the possible implications or back story for it. The mix of serious and foolish was well done, and pleasingly matched a bit with Seven back on Voyager thanks to the "mild shock" bit. Janeway and Torres's reactions too helped make that work.

This may not be one of the very top tier episodes in terms of what it means to the series, but it's definitely one I'd recommend to people as one of the more easily accessible and entertaining choices and fitting well into the second tier of quality Voyager episodes. I do remember thinking on first watch that it was a bit unexpected that they actually succeeded in contacting the Alpha Quandrant so soon. I would have thought they'd put that off as long as they could since it does sort of lessen the "Alone in the Delta Quadrant" vibe. Not sure what I think about that overall right now.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:11 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


So this is actually NOT one of mwhybark's must-see VOY installments, but I for one would probably put it on a Close-Call Runners-Up list. As the MA page mentions, the way this episode wraps up had a significant knock-on effect in later episodes.

Heck, feel free to add suggestions over there!
posted by mwhybark at 2:49 PM on October 12


I'm gonna go ahead and take all comers for a minute in the spirit of 'picking at Voyager is fun.' :)

Comparing the doctor, for example, to DaVinci, Davinci wasn't able to exceed his programming, not only couldn't he recognize an alien planet as being something other than America, he wasn't able to fully conceptualize who Janeway was, his situation, or a number of other things one might think of as signalling a more robust self awareness.

The thing is, da Vinci is capable of an existential crisis. When an energy blast passes through him, he's able to infer that there is Something Wrong, and immediately demands an explanation because he believes he may be a ghost.

Think about that: he just demonstrated more self-awareness than most sitting members of Congress.

Moriarty was similarly compelled by worries about his own existence. From his perspective, his origin story sounded pretty horrifying.

More broadly: da Vinci is someone they must convince to help them, rather than override. Tuvok - the least sentimental crew member short of Seven - advises Janeway to behave as though da Vinci were a (flawed and unreliable) sapient, instead of offering advice about how to hack him, which would be the more logical conclusion if he were a glorified video game sprite. (I mean, maybe they can't, but it's an issue that bears discussing.)

I suppose The Doctor and say, Data, would be examples of an Alpha-level consciousness. Characters in-universe question if there really is an important difference between alpha and beta simulations, since alpha levels are awarded the rights of a sapient and betas are treated as digital slaves.

I guess to be clear: my problem isn't that we're unable to posit explanations for this. We're clever, we can totally do that, and that story sounds pretty cool.

It's more that the writers didn't, which offends me on various levels. It's pretty clear that the way that many Trek writers, and especially the Voyager ones, regard the holodeck is basically that it's a case of Rose Quartz's wishing room from Steven Universe: it magically makes whatever the people inside it want, but nothing carries out into the rest of the world. (Disclaimer: the SU writers also thought about this more than the Voyager ones, and their room is used in intriguing ways.)

Mostly, it's lazy. Like, we're told:
- Holodeck food doesn't count. (See Tom telling Harry that he can't get drunk on 'holographic wine,' whatever that's supposed to mean.)
- The power system is incompatible with the rest of Voyager, purely to make sure the holodeck will still be working even if the food replicators aren't. (Wouldn't want to deny us holodeck episodes just because the ship's half gone, after all.)

The unjustified, unexamined assertion that the Doctor is somehow different from holodeck characters despite having very little in-universe evidence is just more of the same handwaving that always goes on when they do something dumb with the holodeck.

This episode leans heavily on holograms, so it highlights that weakness in the show overall.

It doesn't ruin the episode - episode's fun - but it's definitely worth pointing out, IMO. Basically, it goes toward my ongoing complaint that the writers of Voyager don't know how to worldbuild, or even that they should.
posted by mordax at 2:54 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


the writers of Voyager don't know how to worldbuild, or even that they should.

I think that they could and they knew, but they simply chose not to.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I think that they could and they knew, but they simply chose not to.

Hm.

I'm basing my general opinion on the backstage notes of Initiations as much as anything, because it's the one time I remember them putting forth a serious effort on this score. Recapping for lurkers, (as I know you remember this whole deal):

They wanted to come up with plausible social organization for the Kazon, so they studied gangs. However, the street gangs they were studying are underground criminal organizations within a cohesive/legitimate state, while the Murderhobo Zone was clearly a failed state after the overthrow of the Trabe. The Kazon are more like bands led by feuding warlords, a situation that comes with some different implications and practices, but the difference was lost on the writers.

Plus, there's basically anything connected to Chakotay: the presence of 'Rubber People' on Earth, still hunting with bows and arrows in the TNG-era. Past the racism inherent in those concepts, it's pretty clear none of them really thought about what Earth must be like in a world with casual teleportation.

*thinks*

And I think I talked myself into splitting the difference on this with you: I guess it might be more fair to say that they knew they should worldbuild, mostly chose not to, but would not have been up to performing the task to my satisfaction even if they'd tried every week.
posted by mordax at 10:06 PM on October 12


I'm not sure, its even so much that they intentionally chose not to world build, but perhaps more found that UPN made it difficult, then changes in showrunners ended up making it almost impossible so they just gave up trying. They showed some ability and interest in developing continuity at times, then there'd be a change and it'd all go out the window, so may as well just focus on the individual episodes more and not worry much about it at some point.

The holodeck has always been ridiculous in how its been handled. That started with TNG, wasn't really fixed in DS9, at least early on, and certainly not improved on by Voyager. The physics of it simply don't work, and I don't mean in its existence, which I'm willing to run with, but the way it creates physical space. TNG started one of their movies, Generations I think, with the crew in the holodeck on a ship. They were standing on board the ship, which was shown to be at floor level, but they could fall in the water below that level somehow, which means the room had to create a space below itself for the relative positions of the characters to work.

DS9 did something along the same lines and all the shows have holodecks where one crew member is separated from another by a distance larger than the room, in ways that illusion alone certainly couldn't explain.

The holodeck is like the Tardis in its interior space and able to create anything, pretty much, without clear rules for how it works. Food and drink sometimes rea and sometimes aren't quite the same as "real" food. Physical properties of created characters and "safety off" functions aren't consistent. Why, for example, would DaVinci not be affected by being shot when he was corporeal at that point? And crew use certainly doesn't follow expected patterns of how I would imagine people would want to use the device. I mean, sex, sure, but maybe more visits home and to actual loved ones like a picture developed into life.

The holodeck and holocharacters are more just handy devices to allow the show to break from their ship in peril and alien visitor norms and provide the cast something more "normal" to work with, which helps the audience understand the characters through a more stable set of references, in theory. In practice it's just a way to give the show a chance to do something different to break the routines set in having a 100+ episode series I'd imagine. The problem for Voyager is in the doctor being a crew member, which requires them to focus on the issue more than the other shows needed to, something they occasionally do well, but at least as often do poorly with. I'm not sure there was any way around that entirely given the flaws already present in the imagining of the holodeck.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:41 PM on October 12


Other people have gone over how a holodeck could create the illusion of having a much larger space than it contained--how, for example, you could have two people on a football field and one throw a literal Hail Mary pass the length of the field. (It depends on having the holodeck create the illusion of the two characters being further away from each other than they really are, superimposing the distant image over the real one. So, you have one character throw a real football at the other, the holodeck suspending the football while it plays a 3D illusion of the ball traveling through space, then accelerating the real ball so that the other person could catch it.) For the illusion of Worf falling in the ocean on the sailing ship Enterprise in Generations, it's likely that they used one of the larger holodecks (the E-D had seven), and that it would accomodate the simulation of Worf walking the plank and falling in the sea; if Worf wanted to do a little free-diving, the holodeck would have to create a bubble of salt water and manipulate the light and pressure to simulate his "swimming" downward. It's possible that there are some simulations that would break the illusion, or at least be very difficult to pull off convincingly. (In the first episode of DS9, Jake is fishing, and I wondered at what point during the process of catching a fish, cleaning it, and frying it up the holodeck would beam in replicated raw fish.)

In terms of how much they intended to worldbuild and how hard they tried, I'd refer back to Ron Moore's interview re: Voyager and his time on it; he clearly wanted to establish some continuity and have things make a bit more sense in the context of the show, and was just as clearly overridden more than once. Moore also mentions Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda, who'd both worked on TNG and DS9 and put a lot of work into VOY--I think it was Sternbach who came up with the idea of giving the ship a spare warp core and the Aeroshuttle that can be seen on the underside of the upper hull in literally every episode of the show, but never got used.
Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and [scenic illustrator, technical consultant Rick] Sternbach and [scenic art supervisor, technical consultant Michael] Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn’t going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn’t going to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn’t happen. It doesn’t happen at all, and it’s a lie to the audience. I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. VOYAGER is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spick-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn’t act like this.
Also:
You are trying to tell the audience on the one hand, ‘We’re so far from home, and it’s going to take us so long, and we really wish we could get home. It’s rough out here.’ Janeway wrings her hands about all the things that she has sent the crew through. Then, it’s off to the holodeck. You can’t talk with any kind of a straight face about food rations and energy conservation, and having a real kitchen in the mess hall, when at the same time you’ve got the holodeck going. It’s such a facade, and no matter what kind of technobabble bullshit you come up with, the audience intuitively knows, again, that’s not truthful. There is no reality there. That would not happen. Even on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, they didn’t have the Skipper and Gilligan sitting in the Minnow, watching color television. But on VOYAGER, who cares? We want the holodeck to run so we can go do period pieces, and we can do dress up and we can do fun adventures on the holodeck, and we don’t want to give that up. Okay, but don’t try telling me at the same time that you are really out scraping by and barely making it out there on the frontier, when none of their hair is out of place, and their uniforms are pristine, and the bridge is clean every week.
So, at least some people were aware of it, and some tried.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:42 AM on October 13 [3 favorites]


Sure, there are illusions the holodeck could create, but the ship episode couldn't conceivably work that way, and neither, I think, could Jake's fishing, but I'd have to rewatch that one to be sure. Think of Tom's Irish pub setting, where Janeway wanders off to some removed area, far from the others in the holodeck. The holodeck would not only have to allow for some illusion of space, but differing illusions of space, in a confined area, for the various occupants simultaneously. A hallucinogen deck may be able to do that, and the show somehow convey itself to us as being all differing interior scenarios, but they really don't take care to hold to any reasonable boundaries on the matter, as if they cared about "rules", so trying to make sense of it requires a lot of exceptions or special pleading, where the crew is only "playing along" as would have to be the case in B'Elanna's freefall skydiving with safeties off.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:26 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure, its even so much that they intentionally chose not to world build, but perhaps more found that UPN made it difficult, then changes in showrunners ended up making it almost impossible so they just gave up trying. They showed some ability and interest in developing continuity at times, then there'd be a change and it'd all go out the window, so may as well just focus on the individual episodes more and not worry much about it at some point.

I'm glad you guys brought up worldbuilding. I think maybe the thing that disappointed me the most about VOY, ultimately, wasn't the premise-cheating Ron Moore discussed, or the inconsistent characterization. It was the lack of ambition w/r/t worldbuilding and storytelling. So many VOY episodes feel like retreads of previous franchise episodes. And that would be fine—if the show were trying to break new ground for the franchise in other ways. The closest VOY came, I think, was either 8472 or the Hirogen, and they really did not get explored. They spent a lot of time on Borg stuff, but that's not really breaking NEW ground. You'd think, given the whole Delta Quadrant premise, they would have.

Jack: Other people have gone over how a holodeck could create the illusion of having a much larger space than it contained
gus: The holodeck would not only have to allow for some illusion of space, but differing illusions of space, in a confined area, for the various occupants simultaneously.

This is all within the realm of possibility according to the TNG Technical Manual, which helped to clarify some of my own "Wait but how" questions regarding holodecks.

First off, the Enterprise-D's largest holodecks are actually two decks deep (according to this source), which is more than enough space for a sailing ship's deck and the water immediately beneath it, considering the height of the Enterprise's decks.

More challenging to explain, I think, is the DS9 baseball episode. As gus mentioned, characters are separated by vast distances, suggesting a Tardis-type situation. But suppose Jake, on the mound, is in reality only like four feet away from the catcher (Nog? don't recall), and the baseball is holographic. Now obviously, the holodeck can insert interstitial projections to extend the apparent distance between them, like when you look through the wrong end of binoculars.

Their interactions with one another are maybe more complex. So what happens is, Jake pitches, and the holoemitters immediately adjust the ball's rendering to make it appear to move away/towards all observers in a manner consistent with its speed on leaving Jake's hand and the distance of (*checks Wikipedia*) 60 feet that it's actually supposed to traverse. Now, I don't know enough about optics or w/e to know HOW the holoemitters do that (I imagine mirrors are involved), but it's certainly conceivable. And if Jake unexpectedly decides to tackle his catcher and runs toward home plate, the holodeck's "treadmill" feature compensates for his movement so that, in reality, his actual forward movement is throttled until it's time for him to collide with the catcher.

What *I* don't get is how a holodeck can do all that without every participant getting queasy, since momentum and gravity are actual senses (beyond the apocryphal limit of 5) that our bodies possess. Anybody ever been on Mission: Space? (Maybe the bodily fluid that holodeck swabbers spend the most time removing is actually vomit.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:08 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Heh, sorry, but I can't agree that it's conceivable, not without magic being involved. I guess that's not too far off from how they treat the doctor though, so at least they're consistent in the computer magic area.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:21 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


In terms of how much they intended to worldbuild and how hard they tried, I'd refer back to Ron Moore's interview re: Voyager and his time on it; he clearly wanted to establish some continuity and have things make a bit more sense in the context of the show, and was just as clearly overridden more than once.

Thanks for the link. And that's fair: RDM probably could've improved this considerably if his hands hadn't been tied. I could nitpick DS9 to death, but I never felt the need because it was significantly better than any other Trek property at worldbuilding. (It's still fuzzy on where anything is in a coordinate sense, but even B5 - definitely my gold standard for this on TV - handwaved geography a lot.)

So you're right, some of them probably could've pulled it off. Definitely not the whole team though - I'm not sure there's actually a good counterargument to the stuff that went on with both the Kazon and Native Americans on the show, and those problems extended further than Brannon Braga. (I'm also not sure RDM would've been great unchecked - I have a lot of notes about BSG - but I must concede that he was fine at it in a place where the writer's room worked the way he wanted it to in that article.)

I'm glad you guys brought up worldbuilding. I think maybe the thing that disappointed me the most about VOY, ultimately, wasn't the premise-cheating Ron Moore discussed, or the inconsistent characterization. It was the lack of ambition w/r/t worldbuilding and storytelling.

I think you may have jostled loose why this bothers me so much. I have always held the impression that Voyager is a deeply lazy spinoff, and it might be coming from that lack of ambition more than them having no elbow grease.

TNG extended TOS, at least after the first couple seasons: new races, new threats, new stories. Picard's a very different captain from Kirk, and the Federation itself has grown up in a way that makes a lot of sense in the context of stuff like ST:VI. There's a Klingon on the bridge instead of a Russian. For that matter, Data would've been an antagonist or pawn in TOS, not an officer.

DS9 worldbuilds and handles continuity pretty deftly. It's not always perfect, but they tell a political story - I've been reviewing it a bit lately because I missed the potential Voq/Albino connection on the last episode of Discovery, and I'm struck by how far ahead they set up things like Kai Winn or the Dominion. I forgive them their problems because they were really interested in the world.

Enterprise... I enjoyed Voyager more than Enterprise, but it's mostly a question of liking the main characters on Voyager better - I'd rather hang out with Tuvok and B'Ellana and Tom and... well, everybody but Neelix than the crew of Enterprise. (No slight to the actors - it's strictly about their roles.) That said, Enterprise engages in some fascinating storytelling, particularly late in the run. They're willing to mess with the formula in risky ways, including ones that ultimately ended the show.

Voyager promised to offer us Trek-BSG/SGU, and then stubbornly insisted that we sit around at Sandrine's instead of watching people scrabble for their meals. Behind the scenes, everybody with clout seemed to want a reskinned/updated TOS instead of doing what they said they would, or much of anything else new and surprising. They flirt with it sometimes, and they have some real gems in there, but as a whole, the series doesn't really break much new ground. It's also a bait and switch to me, which is always annoying - they could've just said 'we just want to do a long range science ship screwing around on the frontier, Kirk-style.'

So I'm always irritated with them on some level, and I'm way less charitable than I'd be with any other spinoff. (Like, I don't feel this about Discovery: they obviously care about what they're doing even when I don't agree with it.) I'm a lot more inclined to sling around accusations of laziness or incompetence because in my mind, the show failed to deliver what it promised in a way that is unique across four Trek spinoffs, plus whatever we want to count Discovery as at this point - it's the only one where you can tell someone didn't care about the work.

It's sad to hear about why from Moore in Jack's link above. I'll try to keep it in mind, same as I keep the 'street gangs' talk or Jeri Taylor's weird relationship stuff in mind though.

A hallucinogen deck may be able to do that, and the show somehow convey itself to us as being all differing interior scenarios, but they really don't take care to hold to any reasonable boundaries on the matter, as if they cared about "rules", so trying to make sense of it requires a lot of exceptions or special pleading, where the crew is only "playing along" as would have to be the case in B'Elanna's freefall skydiving with safeties off.

Yeah, I lean your way on the overall plausibility of the holodeck. I'm willing to look the other way most of the time, but it definitely doesn't work when I think about it.

I actually wish they'd gone with something like the VR rig on the Equinox, just with the ability to add sprites and interactivity. Like, the crew should've had the Trek equivalent of Oculus Rifts. (I admit it would've rendered a number of these stories untellable, but mostly just stupid ones anyway. The Doctor still would've worked, and it would've removed all these weird questions about how he differs from stock sprites.)
posted by mordax at 10:25 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


The ship has inertial dampers, so in Trek-world, it's entirely consistent that the holodeck could move you (or slow your motion) without upsetting your inner ear by ensuring any given person's inertial and visual environment match. You can feel you are falling without moving and vice versa.

Granted, inertial dampers make no goddamned sense in terms of real world physics, but neither does a lot of stuff. It's mostly internally consistent, though, if you think through the implications of the various technologies they appear to have on the show. Only rarely is it completely magic technobabble that doesn't even make sense in universe given the depicted technological limits.

Of course, those limits are often subject to the needs of the story. The transporter is supposed to work out to about 40,000km, but in any given episode it varies from 500km to 200,000km without explanation. (Or farther with "special sauce" plotting, but then there is at least an explanation offered)
posted by wierdo at 11:08 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm generally pretty laissez-faire about ST's relationship with distance... the only time it really gets me is when you have ships "500km away" in a voice-over as said vessels are swooping in within a single ship-length of Voyager (or Discovery, Enterprise A-B-C-or-bloody-D, etc).
posted by Seeba at 3:44 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Of course, the ships are that close because otherwise you wouldn't be able to see them both on the screen at the same time, unless you did some split-screen thing which wouldn't be as dramatic. Ditto for scenes in which Janeway and Chakotay are well within each other's personal space when they're talking business, because the 4:3 screen ratio pretty much demanded it for close-ups.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:43 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I'm also not sure RDM would've been great unchecked - I have a lot of notes about BSG - but I must concede that he was fine at it in a place where the writer's room worked the way he wanted it to in that article.

Yeah, I'm not so sure about Moore either. I mean he's right enough about Voyager in the specific circumstances, but it's easy to call out the problems you see in others. BSG had a bunch of character issues and some rather tedious world building at times, but, unlike Voyager, BSG started strong and got worse over time, where Voyager kept restarting over and over to varying degrees of success.

I'd also say, judging only from the first seven episodes, DS9 might be getting too much credit for the smoothness of their show. I have no doubt it does get to be as good as people say, but it starts off really badly. Gunsmoke in space is a mediocre starting point at best, and the characters and actors aren't all that interesting or well integrated at the start. The sexism in those first few episodes makes Seven's appearance on Voyager seem like Phyllis Diller around Bob Hope in comparison. The cast's varying methods of performing don't mesh well and for every interesting notion there is a equally silly one to balance against it, so even the good stuff is watered down.

But, yes, there is some world building going on, with hints at bigger storylines even from the start, which is helpful in a show set primarily in a fixed location. Voyager's story carried certain implications with it that they ended up minimizing or flat out ignoring for a more TNGish vibe for the first few seasons. DS9's story would have had to be "visiting alien of the week" if they hadn't developed longer story lines, which isn't very appealing in the long run, so they had some advantage there perhaps in sticking to longer arcs without feeling pressure to please immediately like Voyager seemed to give in to.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:43 PM on October 14


judging only from the first seven episodes

Seriously, don't. (Heck, you're not even at "Move Along Home" yet.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:26 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Oh, sure, my point wasn't about judging the series, but about looking at it on an episode by episode basis, right now I kinda hate DS9 and would have completely abandoned it were it not for the world building element, which is ladled on so thickly that everything else is of minimal interest so far. It's the opposite of Voyager in that way, where the more episodic structure can provide more show to show interest even if it directed towards some particular end. BSG did much the same, but started off better, it just didn't build to anything more satisfactory, which, for now, I'm assuming DS9 will do judging from all the comments about it.

Long continuity world building, in itself, just isn't a guarantee of enjoyment overall or episode by episode. Lost can attest to that. So I'll eventually try to get through DS9, it's just that, right now, it's a deeply unpleasant chore more than something I'm excited about.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:05 AM on October 15


Long continuity world building, in itself, just isn't a guarantee of enjoyment overall or episode by episode.

Agreed. My favorite example of that is Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, in which he spent a lot of time in the early books doing world-building, to little effect. It improves hugely several books in, when Pratchett makes the stories less (or not at all) about his arbitrary rules for magic and more about satirical/allegorical takes on our own society. DS9 really takes off when someone figures out that the development of post-occupation Bajoran society might be less compelling than what might happen if they went through the wormhole and found a society that was larger, more technologically developed, and more implacably conquest-minded than any of the current and former enemies closer at hand.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:15 PM on October 15


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