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Humanity Through Character – A Guide to the Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

When Gene Roddenbury envisioned Star Trek, he wanted stories without interpersonal conflict. As upset as he’d be that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine broke that rule, I think he would be proud. Deep Space Nine (DS9 for short) is about taking characters who have issues with each other and having them work together to solve larger problems.

Deep Space Nine begins after the Cardassian occupation of Bajor (think the Nazis and the Jews in World War II). The show largely takes place on DS9, a former Cardassian outpost the Bajorans ask the Federation to occupy while they rebuild their society. Bajor is essentially using the Federation as a shield against the Cardassians while telling the Federation not to get involved in their affairs.

Which makes a great foundation for conflict.

Is The Walking Dead Getting Boring? An In-Depth Analysis of Action Scenes

Awhile back I wrote an article about The Walking Dead that plead for patience. In that article I tried to show that even boring seasons are constructed with larger themes in mind. Unfortunately, this didn’t even begin to address all the problems people currently have with the series, so in this article I’d like to address a few more concerns starting with a complete breakdown (episode by episode, season by season) of how much time the series dedicates to exciting moments. Then I will use this data as a springboard to discuss the other issues people have with The Walking Dead.

Walking Dead: Why Storytelling Takes Time

With the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, “Swear,” fans are starting to get restless.

I’ve had a fortunate background with The Walking Dead. I only started watching just before Season Five, so I was able to binge watch the series up until that point. This meant that if the show dragged for a couple of episodes, I didn’t have to wait long to get to the “solid episodes.” But you notice something when you watch the series all at once; it’s clearer to see that the “slow episodes” are actually building something. Something of value. We all experience the highs of The Walking Dead and those moments aren’t because Rick is stuck in tank and we’re not sure how he’s going to out, it’s because there are themes and ideas the show is trying to convey while simultaneously getting you to care about its characters and where they are going.

And slow as Season Seven may be (so far), I think it’s helpful to look back at previous seasons to remember that the season has a destination in mind and we’re going to be delighted somewhere along the path to that end point.

Smallville: Skippable Episode Guide

Awhile back I offered to make someone on the Smallville subreddit an abridged guide to Smallville that skipped all unncessary episodes. My offer was ignored, but another user recently found my post and asked me if I would still be willing to make the guide. So here it is! The following is my skippable episodes guide to Smallville.

Please note that I created this guide to cater specifically to that reddit user’s request, who was only interested in the main storyline. This creates some problems because typically when you make a skippable episode guide you only include the best episodes (in addition to ones that follow the main plot) and Smallville‘s main storyline episodes aren’t the best episodes. For example, the Season Four episode “Sacred” is a terrible episode. But in that episode we learn about an important set of stones that are integral to the season. Following the main storyline also skips over a lot of great episodes, like the Ryan episode in the first season (which I snuck in anyway) and the Alicia episodes in the third and fourth seasons (which I also snuck in anyway).

Smallville is also unusual in that it continuously reinvents its history. At first we learn about how Clark fits in with the Native American legend of Naman. Later we learn about how Clark is also known among the Veritas group as The Traveler. By the time we’re learning about The Traveler, the Native American legend is hardly referenced again. So is the Native American legend really part of the main storyline? What I decided was that each season focused on a particular story or villain and I tried to include the episodes that developed that story.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d consider reworking this in order to make the best possible list for the most number of people. For example, if you think the will-they-won’t-they, on-again-off-again Lana storyline is essential, I’m willing to hear that argument. Or if you would just prefer a list of the most pleasant Smallville episodes, let me know.

Final note: If you’re a first time viewer watching the show, I’ve separated the article into two parts: The first part is spoiler-free list of the episodes you need to watch, the second part is spoiler-heavy description for fans to explain why I cut what I cut.

Here is the abridged guide to Smallville that let’s you know what episodes you can skip.

White and Black Hats: The Morality of Westworld

In Westerns there is a long tradition of good guys wearing white hats and bad guys wearing black hats. I believe Westworld is playing around with this tradition.

White and black hats goes all the way back to silent films. It’s not an absolute rule all Westerns follow. In fact, many films (like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) deliberately subvert the idea by eliminating white hats to imply moral ambiguity amongst the characters. However, it is imagery we see again and again in Westerns.

the-man-who-shot-liberty-va

I believe that Westworld is conscious of this traditional Western imagery and is playing with the concept — and that it is worth paying attention to which hat a character wears. Here is a brief analysis of six Westworld characters and the hats they wear.