Episode 29: DNA Shenanigans (PIC 3×09 Võx)

Kevin: Hello and welcome back to Subspace
Radio, the show where Rob and I watch an

episode of Star Trek and that makes us
wanna watch more episodes of Star Trek.

Rob: That's right.

And I'm Rob and that's Kevin.

So, we've filled that quota very well.

Kevin: This week we are talking about
Star Trek: Picard, season three,

episode nine, Võx, and the DNA
shenanigans that went on therein.

Rob: The penultimate episode of this
there's been so much attention put

upon this show for so many reasons.

This new brand of Star Trek that's
come out has ebbed and flowed with

the public interest, but with Picard
season three, it's definitely made some

impact on the zeitgeist, as it were.

Yeah, that's right.

I use Zeitgeist.

Kevin: I think it's worth
saying out loud here, Rob.

We can dispense with the air of mystery.

You and I have seen the finale at this

Rob: We have.

Kevin: This episode we will be
talking about the semi finale,

I guess you could call it.

And and we'll come back for
the finale in the next episode.

Rob: My, my favorite thing was before
we went into the episode, Kevin Yank

said, Well let's just see how it goes.

And we may do a double episode
where we'll talk about episode nine

Kevin: Yeah, if there's not enough
to talk about this half episode,

Rob: And as soon as the episode came out,
I got a message from Kevin Yank going,

Yeah, we'll do an episode for each one.

Kevin: The pace definitely
changed with this episode.

That was my overarching impression.

Rob: Definitely, as there seemed to be
this as, as soon as Vadic's body sprayed

into the dead cold of space, not only was
a weight lifted off the Titan's shoulders,

but I think of the entire series and,
they layered into this Federation wide

attack, but there was this sense of
dread that had lifted, and there seemed

to be this sense of, okay, we're back
into a more, a traditional approach to,

to Star Trek without all that influx
of this new tone that has dominated

Picard and Discovery, especially, that's
been heavily influenced by most recent

phenomenon of Game of Thrones and your
Stranger Things and stuff like that.

There was some incredible moments.

There were some amazing moments in there.

Especially we will, we'll spend
quite a bit of time talking about the

last 10, 15 minutes of this episode.

Um, but for me there was definitely a lot
of, despite the fact they had 10 episodes,

they rushed through a lot of stuff.

And and there was a lot of hand
waving of going we'll explain it

later, or, just uh, let it go.

We need to get to the big set pieces.

Kevin: I talked earlier in this season
about how I was like happy that they

were not indulging in too much puzzle
box storytelling of Ooh, there's a

secret over here, and we will indulge
in, in the mystery of it and never

actually reveal it until the last moment.

And I was saying there was
refreshingly little of that stuff

at the start of the season here.

The puzzle box became very apparent here
as they ripped the top off and spent

an entire hour like dumping parts onto
the floor in front of us and going, Ooh

look, there's this and there's that.

And it's Borg again.

It's DNA.

And it's, there's a lot
to take in this episode.

There was definitely a lot to take in
terms of spectacle in a good way, but

there was a lot of new information
to take in of here's everything we

haven't been telling you to this

Rob: Yes.

Kevin: Please accept it as
quickly as possible because we

have a finale to get on with.

Rob: Exactly.

And there was also that case of, because
now we have introduced the truly, big

bad of the entire season run in the
last two episodes, that threat that has

been there for the entire first eight
episodes that we have put so much import

into let's just shuffle them not even to
the side, like completely off the table.

The Changelings had been this
epic part of the entire first

eight episodes of this season.

And then to cram in our realization
and the explanation of the Borg,

there was no balance at all.

It was literally a case of the
Changelings are gone, it's all Borg now.

And for that was, that's that was
always gonna be a tricky thing

and it wasn't handled the best.

But you just go look at the pretty
lights and look at the, oh, and

that is Alice Krige's voice.

This is amazing.

Kevin: The original Borg Queen.

Oh, the way you could tell the moment.

She said the word fuh-lesh.

Like that word was the tell.

I was like, Ooh, no one says
flesh like, uh, Alice Krige.

Rob: She added in a couple
of extra syllables for that.

Kevin: Yeah.

Rob: How about you?

What was your first impressions of it?

Kevin: Yeah, it was, it was good.

There was even more, I think, than
the finale that we'll talk about next

episode, this one ha had some stuff in
it that I was kind of leading back and

go, I know you're doing that because you
think I want it, but it's a bit rich.

Like the Enterprise F emerging from Space
Dock with Admiral Shelby in command and

fireworks going off in space around it.

She gives a keynote speech from
the captain's chair about the

founding of the Federation.

I was going, look, it's a bit
much, you know, take it easy.

All those things in isolation are
excellent, but you pile 'em all on

top of each other and it, it strains
belief that this is something that would

really happen in ah, this universe.

I felt like just take any one of
those elements out and I would've

been completely on board, take the
fireworks out and make it like a

grand, respectful pan over a new
ship, I would've been on board.

But add multicolored fireworks that
you can hear in space, and I'm like,

okay, now we're, this is almost a
cartoon of Star Trek fan service.

Rob: Because there was so much of
it, I missed it was the Enterprise F.

I know, and I, I mean, how I
look, it's a ship coming out.

But look at those fireworks.

They're pretty.

It wasn't until.

Kevin: quite say it.

They said vessel registry
NCC-1701-F ready for departure.

And it was on a distorted radio voice
as everything else was going on.

So it was definitely easy to miss.

Rob: Yes.



Kevin: I think the only reason I caught
it is that we had been given the heads up

earlier, like in the press stuff before
the show, that the Enterprise F would

be appearing and everyone said, Ooh.

The real nerdy fans said, the only
place we've seen the Enterprise F

is in video games and some video
game designer designed that ship.

Is it really gonna be that Enterprise F?

And and the show owner said, you'll see.

And sure enough it was like they
took, they copied and pasted the ship

design from the video game into canon.

And I think you can tell, like it is
not quite, I don't know how you felt

about the design of that ship Rob, but
it was a bit of an Excelsior, in the

sense that it looks great from some
angles and from o other angles, you're

like, yeah, why is it so fat there?


Rob: Yeah, it's like, it,

Kevin: that that's an unattractive angle.

And a good hero ship should
not have a bad angle.

Rob: Well after, it, it took me a
while to get used to, back in the

eighties and nineties of the new
design of the Enterprise from when

Next Generation first launched.

But after Generations when they've
incorporated these newer types of

Enterprises, they've never really,
they've be been a bit samey.

They've, I haven't been able to really
distinguish them much from the Enterprise

from First Contact or the Enterprise
from, the ones that come later on.

But yeah, so this one didn't, yeah,
it was a little bit Excelsior.

I couldn't really tell the difference
between that and the Titan.

They didn't have that really

Kevin: had a really fat wide bottom
and very circular, very rounded,

much like the Excelsior, it had
two necks with a gap between them,

connecting it to the sausage, to
the connecting it to the saucer.

Rob: Please keep that in.

Please keep that.

Kevin: And uh, the other thing it had
that you, that made it stand out for me

as a video game origin ship is it had the
black panels on the top of the saucer.

It had like, it has patches that are black
instead of the metallic color of the hull.

And that is something that very
much came in the video games is

when they wanted to design the
imaginary next generation of ships.

They're like, we're
gonna give them all black

Rob: black.

Kevin: panels to make them look
like extra sports car-like.

And yeah, that was
definitely preserved here.

Rob: It's been a big, noticeable thing
within the other franchises like Star

Wars and stuff like that, that blend
in comic books, computer game law

novelizations, all that type of stuff.

So for Star Trek to start to do that as
well is, is a sign of the evolving nature

of fandom and franchises out there.

Kevin: Yeah.

Rob: So the biggest secret that
wasn't really a secret of all was

of course the Borg behind it all.

And Troi did her she served her purpose
well and then was well and truly

shuffled back into the background.

Kevin: I did appreciate her kind of
pulling rank on, on Picard and Crusher

in that moment where she said, hang on,
there's protocols, your son's dangerous.

I have one job in Starfleet and
that's to keep the dangerous

people behind force fields.

And your son is now a dangerous people.

Rob: That's the one, that's
the one thing I wanted to say.

It's, it started off she came in
so strong going, he can't leave.

He's a dangerous presence.

He has Borg part of him.

But Jack left because of plot contrivance,
they went, we can't keep him here.

We don't have enough
time to go through it.

So he'd literally,

Kevin: saddest part is that this, like
the first 10 minutes of this episode,

cancel everything they achieved in
the eight episodes up to this point.

We'll keep Jack away from the Changelings.

We'll keep Jack, ultimately,
away from the Borg.

That was the entire point of the eight
hours of TV we have watched this point and

then they're like, so there are protocols.

Cut to the protocols failing miserably,
as for some reason they went, okay,

let's see, what are we dealing with here?

Someone who can control minds of
people, so let's send two heavily

armed people to restrain him.

Rob: Yeah,

Kevin: That was never gonna work.

Rob: it said yeah, they got to
a point where they've got, we've

done this for eight episodes.

Now we've got two parts, but we
need Jack off the ship because

we need him to start off this
whole process to bring our threat.

So he needs to be gone
within five minutes.

So he easily got through an entire ship
with only two people him controlling.

He gets onto a ship and gets out
of it, get near without any tractor

beams or any type of teleportation
getting him beamed off or anything like

that, purely for the fact of it's a
plot contrivance they needed to get.

Kevin: theme, I'll say, of shuttles
that get away suspiciously easily.

Rob: So yeah, it was very, that stood out
for me of a case of that wasn't story,

that was a plot contrivance of we need
to get Jack to B so he has to leave A

straight away, and everything that we
have done beforehand that could easily

stop him from doing that, that has stopped
him from doing that, you know, we have

to get rid of that completely because we
don't have time to have a big chase scene

through or overriding things or someone
helping out in some way, shape or form.

Because no, he needs to go right away.

We need to leave him now.

Kevin: In the midst of all this, we
get the reveal that the thing about

Jack is that he has inherited a Borg
organic technology that was embedded

in Picard when he was Locutus, way back
at the Battle of Wolf 359 in Best of

Both Worlds, and I had seen some fans
pick that in advance, and it felt to

me like it was supported by the clues.

The red vines, the controlling
bodies, the hearing voices,

Rob: The motherly voice.

Kevin: of that stuff
connected back beautifully.

They did a lovely thing in that
corridor with the red door where

the voice went back and forward
between Beverly Crusher and the

Borg And it was almost imperceptible
until you knew to look for it.

That was all great.

And then they push beyond that
and go, but wait, we got more.

And the more is that the Changelings, were
embedding that code, which they stole from

Picard's body into the transporter system.

And we've rewritten the genetic code
of everyone in Starfleet and they are

now receptors to Jack's transmitter.

Rob: Only if you're under the age of 25.

Kevin: Only if you're under the age of 25.

Which I was like, I'm sure there was a
good explanation for that, that I missed.

I'll watch it again.


There wasn't, said it doesn't
affect people under the age of

Rob: Yeah.

Beverly said something about the cortex
stops developing at 25, but it's just

case of young fans of Star Trek, you
are easily manipulated by other things.

Us old school Star Trek fans,
we're the old trusty ones.

We can't be, we can't be
manipulated by anything.

Kevin: I can see the hand of the creator
in that, that they said, what do we want?

What kind of story do we
wanna tell this season?

And they went we wanna tell a story
where we show and demonstrate that

old people have worth and that
there are things only they can do.

And so let's make it so that the
Borg only assimilate people under 25.

That was the leap.

Rob: And new isn't necessarily better.

New can be dangerous.

And the old ways are the best.

And for the last two seasons,
they've been focusing on this

whole disease that killed Picard.

And again, like what they did last week,
which I've been picking up with, Riker

and Troi going, oh, I hate the farm.

Let's live in the city.

A total disregard of what
the creators did beforehand.

And this was, this disease that
Picard's had all for two years.


It's all Borg.

Kevin: I'm gonna be ranting about this a
lot next week, by the way, but I actually

quite like the Irumodic syndrome was never
really fully explored or explained, and

it, in hindsight is remarkably consistent
that all they've really said of it

is, it is a structural defect in your
brain that we have no explanation for.

And it's rare enough that we don't
know a lot about it other than

we call it Irumodic syndrome.

And so I think that is a beautiful
retcon, if you want to call it that,

or rewriting, or reverse explanation
of a mystery that has existed in

Star Trek for a very long time.

And to me, it, it works because
it is more satisfying than

the explanation we had before.

It holds more water, it
holds more story weight.

It affects the character in
a more interesting way than

you have a special disease.

Rob: As you know from Kevin and I,
listeners, if you don't know, come from

an improvisational theater background.

And one of the skills I was taught
when you are creating improvisational

stories in a long form format is
the end is always in the beginning.

So when you're moving forward,
look back, you can, you don't

Kevin: what's already there.

Rob: what's already there.

And so bringing in this disease
that they don't really explain, they

just say it's there doesn't, but how
Matalas has worked so hard to tie

back with what has been created in
seven years of, TV show, four movies.

It's all there.

You don't need to bring in all this
new stuff that doesn't connect.

You can find it in the past.

And so that, so much retconning.

I have never seen so much
retconning of a show literally

from one season to the next, ever.

I don't think I've seen it so clearly
where this, without some shows that have

completely changed format and disregard
like eighties shows where, which is

reset button at the end of every episode.

But this is still keeping
on the trajectory.

Kevin: They did it more
well here than not.

Like my main discomfort watching
this episode was not the facts that

they were introducing or the logic
that they were asking us to buy into.

It was just the pace of revealing it
that they have been holding these things

in reserve for eight whole episodes.

Having characters very awkwardly not speak
to each other or open their mouths and

not say the thing that's on their minds,
in order to avoid telling us any of this

stuff until the last minute, so to, to
maximize the shock value or to add to

the strength, the punch of the finale.

That's what bothers me.

The actual logic of the idea that the
Borg sneakily rewrote Picard and then

when Picard's died, thereby foiling their
plan, their fallback plan was to sneakily

rewrite everyone through the transporters.

That's stuff like, I like it.

It feels fresh and yet relatively
consistent with what we know of the

Star Trek world, DNA shenanigans
aside, which we're about to talk about.

The other thing that I really felt
like added a layer to what was

already there, that, that kind of
felt like it was already, it already

existed, no one had yet put their
finger on it, was the commonality

between the Borg and the Changelings.

And there was a bit of this last
episode, but the Borg reveal had

not come yet, so we weren't quite
sure what they were talking about.

But the, these are both races who
look down on humanity and the broader

Federation because they live as
individuals, or as they say in this

episode, like shattered glass, that
they are these separate entities

who can't feel what each other feel.

They can't empathize with each other.

And, and there is weakness
and chaos because of it.

And the idea that the Borg and the
Changelings would come together

in alliance in a belief that the
right way to live is in complete

connection with one another.

That is something I can't
believe I never saw that before.

And it was sitting there the whole time.

Rob: Yeah, but it is interesting, they
reduced the threat or the impact of

the Changelings, which was really like
for eight episodes it was ratcheted up.

You didn't know, like you literally
didn't know who to trust and, trust

no one, all that type of stuff.

Ro sacrificed herself,
to help Picard get away.

It's been, been happening for years.

This type of process of, we, it's
from the highest level to the lowest

level, and then it just gets reduced
down to, oh the whole plan was just to

change the structure of the transporter
system and you're there going, no,

they were doing more than that.

They weren't just there
to set up that program.

That was one thing, but they
have infiltrated and crippled

the entire Federation.

So there's that's a war on two fronts,
but we pushed that front aside to just

focus on the Borg threat as opposed
to the fact that they've set up the…

I'm sounding very critical, but I
absolutely adored, I've adored this

season and I've adored this episode.

But it is that case of there was a lot
of sacrifices made for pace and time.

So it was a war on two fronts, the Borg
and the Changelings, and they never dealt

with both, which they had to at the same

Kevin: Vadic and the Shrike exploded
at the end of the last episode.

And, the show kind of
went, that's it for the

Rob: That's it for the

Kevin: we we fixed that problem.

And you're like there's still like
all the evil Tuvoks out there.

What are they doing?

Probably a lot, right?

Rob: Yeah.

And that's stuff where we can
talk about, when we talk about

how they dealt with that.

When we talk about that next episode

Kevin: The remote assimilation
technology, I thought was okay.

Like the suddenly, the uh,
transmission comes through, Seven

flinches and says it's a borg signal.

The screens on the bridge, uh, glitch
with green Borg stuff, which is I'm

like, I'm not sure why that's happening.

And then the young people on the bridge
the black veins spread across their face.

Rob: And their eyes go black.

Kevin: Yeah.


And I'm like, okay, that's a lot
for a bit of DNA to do there.

But I suppose like the alternative
would've been worse of nothing

visually changes about them, but
they suddenly start acting like

drones, would've been worse.

I think they needed to do something.

It like it's a visual medium.

They needed to show rather than
tell, and that worked enough.

I'm glad they exercised the restraint
to not have like metal implants

bursting from people's faces and us
having to believe that a radio signal

caused a metallic thing to burst
from someone's face outta nowhere.

Like that, that could have
happened and they exercised enough

restraint for it not to happen.

And it created, I thought, an
interesting visual of what does

an organic assimilation look like?

Rob: Yeah, there is that case of there
are certain phrases or turns or concepts

within sci-fi that can become like a
magic wand and DNA since the nineties has

definitely become that, oh, late eighties,
early nineties has definitely become that.

How does, how do we explain this?


There we go.

It's all DNA manipulation.

So, the creation of organic technology
and all this type of stuff connected

is techno babble to the extreme, to the
point where it's almost, abracadabra.

It's DNA it's the future.

That's what they'll figure out.

And you go, oh, okay.

We just have to accept that.

But having that visual realization
and change of the veins coming through

and seeing that dramatic visual image
of the eyes turning black, is that

effective, oh, we know that they have
now literally changed physically, so

they have changed internally as well.

Kevin: Yeah.

I chuckled because we really got to
see who Geordi's favorite daughter

is, as he asked the computer,
Computer locate Alandra La Forge.

And did not seem to care a wit for
what happened to Sidney the bridge.

Interestingly, the computer responded
with The life signs of Alandra La

Forge are no longer compatible with
human designation, which I said out

loud, that's not the question he asked.

He asked, where is she?

So yeah, sometimes the computer tells
the audience what they need to know,

not the character what they asked.

Rob: There's a epic escape
to try and get off the Titan.

Geordi has come up with an idea
and they just have to trust him.

And uh, we had the moment I realized
while that happened, I went,

of course this is gonna happen.

I can't believe that I
didn't pick it earlier.

We had a sad goodbye that we
had to say goodbye to one of

the MVPs of this season, really.

Kevin: Very much.


Rob: And what were your thoughts
about the death of Captain Shaw?

Kevin: There are worse things
than being, the most memorable

character in one season of Star Trek.

You're in, you're out.

You get to do conventions
for the rest of your life.

It is so easy to water down a character
over many years and turn them into

something less memorable with familiarity.

The fact that everything we got
from Shaw this season was strong,

almost every one of his lines was

Rob: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: I think there is something to
be celebrated that they had the courage

to create something they knew was great
and end it before it got less great.

Rob: Because he was such a wonderfully
written character and a wonderfully

performed character as well.

I mean, any, any other actor in that
role, it would've probably come across

as a bit too jarring, probably a bit
too two dimensional, black and white.

But the natural charisma of
Todd is just there on display.

And so you forgive those moments
of harshness and prejudice.

Those, those scenes of true reliving his
trauma during the original Borg battle.

That, that type of stuff comes from,
good writing, but skilled performance.

And so you forget the fact that
he is a plot tool to get us to the

character who is actually the regular
cast member and what they need to

achieve with their character arc.

Kevin: He's there as a
springboard for Seven of

Rob: He is there for Seven of Nine.

Yeah, exactly.

And that's how good he is
to be able to hide that.

And then you don't realize
it until after he's gone.

You go, he was never gonna be there
for any other time because this

is, this is Seven of Nine's show.

So he did a great job, wonderful job,

Kevin: I thought he deserved a better end.

Like the, the death in the corridor was,

Rob: With those conveniently set up boxes.

They were very conveniently set up
in the cargo area, like they were

spaced out one on one side of the
corridor, one on the other side.


Kevin: The, I don't know if you
noticed on the floor there was a,

an X and it says Shaw stand here
and like between the two boxes.


He, died a pretty swift death that I
think to my eye did not gain anything.

And in a sense deaths can
be shockingly meaningless.

Reference Tasha Yar, for That in itself
can be an effective emotional tool

for storytelling, the meaninglessness
of a death itself resonates, but

think I'm probably not the only
one who felt like Todd Stashwick if

not Captain Shaw himself deserved
a better ending, a more heroic end.

One that achieved something.

Rob: It was most definitely functionary.

We have to get our lead
cast off this ship.

We need to keep the supporting actors,
Seven of Nine and Raffi on this ship.

We need to now position Seven of
Nine into a complete leadership

position, and we need to get rid
of this character straight away.

And eight and a half episodes of
development be damned, get shot like a

chump, in a corridor behind a conveniently
placed box, and hopefully his final lines

will be emotional enough that you forget
the fact that he died like a chump.

Kevin: If you're looking for a reason for
him to have died, you can go, oh, he's

the one who knew about the sub-level with
the shuttle, because he's an engineer

and he recognized the maintenance channel
that the people were broadcasting on.

There's a little bit of, they would
not have gotten that far without

him, but he didn't get himself
off the ship, is the tragedy here.

Rob: And he survived the Borg last time,
and he didn't survive the Borg this time.

Kevin: Yeah.

The, we haven't talked about the
fleet formation and appearance and

swift dispatch of Admiral Shelby.

Rob: Has Shelby been in it before or
is that her one and only appearance?

Kevin: In Picard, this is her only
appearance, but she, she was in the

two-parter, Best of Both Worlds.

She was the young hotshot who came on the
ship, and she was the expert in the Borg.

She was sent and she said, Hey,
Captain Picard, Commander Riker,

we're going to check out this planet.

It's had all the major cities scooped
off the surface, and this is a pattern

we've seen before, we think it's the Borg.

She is gunning for Riker's job
throughout this two-part episode.

She comes right out and says it, and she
says to Riker in the turbolift, You're in

my way, my next job is going to be first
officer, and I won't settle for anything

less than first officer of the flagship.

So get outta here.

Go be a captain somewhere
cuz you're in my seat.

And Riker is like, there's a great line
where he says, Shelby, you do an end

run around me like that again, I'm gonna
snap you back so hard you'll think you're

a first year cadet, and it is so good.

Hard ass Riker is a sweet taste.

She is a little too ambitious for her
own good and at times is the person with

the bad idea that allows our heroes to
have the better idea in that two-parter.

But she is, effectively, she is
the Federation Borg expert and

established that way in that episode.

So when she comes back here,
you're like, Ooh, how ironic.

And they say it, they say, how
ironic to hear Shelby of all people

preaching something so Borg-like,
she hated the Borg more than anyone

back in the series when she appeared.

So yes, that was great to see her.

I thought it was a shame that they
couldn't afford to give her a crew on

that, that Enterprise F bridge of hers.

It was very obvious she was
sitting in an office chair in front

of a blue screen of some kind.

Rob: But yeah, the crew did show up
just to, to dispatch her very quickly.

Kevin: Yeah, there, there was
one silhouette that ran behind

her as things were going wrong.

And then two people with phasers stepped
up and shot her in the chest, which

was, it was a great, shocking moment.

But I'm not sure I, I really bought
the reality of the Enterprise F other

than it was a CG model surrounded
by fireworks, and the bridge did

not look like a bridge to me.

Rob: Yeah.

Kevin: It looked like a
corridor or a, a matte painting.

And uh, next episode, when they,
they swiftly move along to the

next Enterprise, I'm like, what
happened to the Enterprise F?

Ah, who cares?

Rob: So let's let we've
delayed it long enough.

Let's go to

Kevin: The D!

The fat one.

Rob: Everything you could have wanted.

And just they took that time.


The Federation is falling apart.

It has come under complete Borg control.

Jack has now been completely
assimilated with into the collective.

But let's take this time, ladies and
gentlemen, to see the D again, to walk

on the carpet, to touch the chair to just
talk about the phaser banks and the armor

array and dropping lines about what,
whatever happened to the Enterprise E?

Kevin: Yeah, That wasn't my fault.

Rob: the, The line that
launched a thousand.

Twitter, Twitter messages.

Kevin: A nice little uh, contribution
there, like beta cannon or like the novels

I believe have established that Worf went
on to be the captain of the Enterprise E.

So that was something that fans who
uh, look at the wider universe assumed

to be true until we are told it's not.

And this reinforced to that little
bit of history without telling us a

story that there wasn't time to tell.

They hinted at a story that we might get
somewhere else someday, which was great.

And boy, yeah, I said earlier
in this season that I am a

Constitution class guy, just like
Jack Crusher I have to take it back.

The D, the Enterprise D is my first love.

I've I've got three models of it sitting
in this room right now, those curvy

lines, the too big for its own good
saucer section, it all speaks to me.

I love it dearly, and I don't think
I realized how much I missed it

until we saw it in all its CG 4K

Rob: Well, Yeah, we haven't
seen it since since Generations.

Kevin: It still has the scrapes
from, its landing on Viridian

III across the surface of it.

And there's a line where Geordi
says the, the port nacelle

covers are a complete nightmare.

And as it flies out of the Fleet Museum,
if you look closely, there's some panels

missing on the top of port nacelle.

Like they went way above and beyond
in, in creating this, unlike the

Enterprise F that I felt like a CG model
and they couldn't afford a set, they

couldn't even afford a bridge crew.

Rob: You know what the
bridge should have been?

It should have been that bar.

Kevin: that's

Rob: have Shel Shelby at the bar
doing her announcement about frontier

Kevin: Full credit to them, they've been
staying away from that bar these last

Rob: Yeah, they'll have to
use it for one last time.

Kevin: Yeah.

Yep, Yep.

Rob: I thought very much of you when
they just took their time around

this old friend, this old house that
you used to live in for seven years.

And especially those Next Gen fans
like yourself who, lived and breathed

that show and those four movies.

This was what you've been waiting for,
because they never did that even with

the with the original cast, with the
original crew, it was all about, the cast.

So that final, beautiful moment
on Star Trek VI, that that's a

completely different Enterprise.

As is famously known, they demolished
every single set of the Enterprise

Bridge after every Star Trek movie,
cuz they thought it was the last one.

Kevin: And they did that here too, they
had to rebuild this thing from photos.

Rob: Oh my gosh.

And so to have that moment that the
original crew never had to actually

have the original seven walk around, and
I'm so glad they mentioned the carpet,

I'm so glad they mentioned the carpet.

Kevin: A shot of the commissioning
plaque just close enough that you

could read Admiral Gene Roddenberry
uh, first the first name on the plaque.

All of it was there.

They showed us exactly what the fans
wanted to see, and they showed us that

it was a little better than we remembered
it as well, like the, when they turn

on the lights and there's a shot of the
panels, like lighting up in sequence.

And that's ooh, like it looks
just like we remember it, but it's

also just a little bit better.

It's how we wanted it to be, but couldn't
afford to make it back then as well.

Just a tasteful amount of improvement.

The special features on Wil Wheaton's
show The Ready Room talk about how,

especially the tactical station, the
curved tactical station, that Worf

stands in front of, that one, back in the
eighties when they built the set, there

was no LED backlighting that could work
in that, like thin of a surface back then.

And so the, those panels were actually
lit by fluorescent tubes behind them.

And because fluorescent tubes have a
bluer, colder light compared to all of the

other stations and screens on the bridge,
that one of Worf's was like blue tinted.

And they slavishly recreated that
here to be true to the original.

They gave it a bit of It's too bright in
some spots and too dark in others because

there was once a fluorescent tube behind
it and they made sure that the color

temperature was wrong in the right way.

So yeah, it was a loving recreation.

Rob: All our talk this whole season
about, where the money's gone into

the bar, now we know where the money's

Kevin: Now we know.

All is forgiven.

Like set every other scene in that bar.

Also Geordi, you have to buy into
this because by the time that ship

crashed in Star Trek Generations,
there had been some changes made to

the bridge to make it look more modern.

There was extra stations
at the side of the bridge.

There were some extra stripes and
extra details added to to add some

visual interest for the greater detail
that you see on a cinematic screen.

And that has all been taken out.

That Geordi in his restoration,

Rob: Went back to

Kevin: Yeah, went back to the
original setup and uh, you

can buy that Geordi would do

Rob: Of course he would.


And there, there was a lot of talk about
what he could find and how, it's very

much your dad talking about fixing up
the car or in all those American TV

shows of the eighties and stuff like
that, the dad's got the car in the garage

that they're, they've got a roadster
that they're repairing or fixing.

But yes, that whole lead into
uh, to hope and the talk of

family, and we're all with you.

You are my family.

We've gotta go save, Sidney and the other
one and Jack as well, their family too.


Kevin: No mention of Alexander
or Kestra, I noticed.

Worf apparently has no
family and Riker and Troi.

Troi, who's saying, and all of your family
matters too, doesn't mention her own

Rob: They're our daughter.

Yeah, they talk about the dead
son quite a lot in this season.

The daughter's amazing.

That's one of the few highlights
of Picard, season one I love.

Their daughter is incredible.


She should get her

Kevin: Well, I guess she
doesn't use transporters.

She's safe.

Rob: safe.

She's safe.

Someone's looking after her
on the farm that they hate.

Kevin: Yeah.

Yeah, that's right.

So let's talk DNA.

Because um, a lot hinges on the
power of DNA in this episode.

Rob: magic wand.

Kevin: The idea that a transporter
could be programmed to replace some

of the common sequences that exist
in all humanoid beings, so that there

is the seed of the ability to be not
just controlled by the Borg, but like

organically assimilated by the Borg.

Rob: Yes.

Kevin: It's a lot.

The one thing I give them credit
for is, depending on the timeline

we're being asked to accept here,
there is time for a DNA change to

result in a change to physiology.

And this is my biggest objection
to the way DNA is handled in Star

Trek, is that you point a beam at
someone and change their DNA and they

instantly morph into the new shape.

Let's inject some Klingon DNA
like we saw this in with Dal in

Star Trek Prodigy last season.

We'll activate your dormant
Klingon DNA and 10 minutes

later, his teeth are growing.

I am not a cell biologist by any means,
and hey, you are write in and tell us

what we're getting wrong, but the little
research I have done to confirm that I

am appropriately outraged here, tells me
first of all, if you can manage to alter

every cell in someone's body to change
their DNA at once, you are nevertheless

looking at months to years before the
changed programming of that DNA will

result in changed anatomy due to new
cells following the instructions, the

growth blueprint embedded in that DNA.

And so when I say DNA shenanigans,
this is basically what I mean, is

that we change your DNA now and it
instantly modifies your anatomy.

What did DNA in Star Trek
trigger for you, Rob?

Rob: It's definitely something
we've brought up before and we've

talked a little bit about Julian
Bashir and how he became a far more

interesting character once they
introduced his manipulation of DNA.

Kevin: DNA re-sequencing.

They hit on a goldmine when, whoever
created the word re-sequencing.

I want to know when the word
re-sequencing first appeared in

Star Trek history because they, they
should be paying that writer serious

residuals, like entire seasons of Star
Trek plot have been justified by that

Rob: It's amazing.

Within the world of science
fiction, you get a phrase or

a word to justify something or
explain something, and it sticks.

Then you can use that forever.

Like in Doctor Who, it took them a while
to figure out when, one actor leaves

and another actor takes the place of
The Doctor, they called it renewing.

They called, it change.

It took them quite a few years to
come up with the term regeneration.

And so now, yeah, and now that's it.

It's stuck.

So re-sequencing is very much a,
it's a, yeah, like you said, it's

the goldmine has never stopped
handing over beautiful nuggets.

With that justification.

But also it's been brought up in
Strange New Worlds as well with this

only real sense of prejudice left
within the Federation is towards

species that manipulate their DNA.

And Number One, of course, Rebecca Romijn
has uh, is public enemy number one because

of her being from a species that that,
wholeheartedly embraced DNA manipulation.

So it's definitely embedded in there and
has become encompassing of many different

justifications within the Star Trek world.

It's far more complicated than
just a flick of a switch and you

turn, you have more bumps on your
forehead than you used to do.

Kevin: Yeah.



So it sounds like the two examples
I've brought are definitely these

kind of ooh, your DNA got messed
up and now you're changing.

It sounds like, What you stick
onto is that idea of deliberate DNA

manipulation is a taboo or a crime in the

Rob: I've got, I've actually
gone for a representation of a

species, so more of a general look.

And then I've gone to one of
the most infamous episodes

in Star Trek history and how,

Kevin: I think we have a match.

All right, I'm gonna go
first because I've got a TNG.

This is season seven, episode
19, so right towards the end of

Star Trek: The Next Generation.

And this is an episode entitled
Genesis, which famously is

directed by Gates McFadden.

She got her turn in the director's
chair and she plays a pretty major

character part in this episode as well.

So she did a lot of work in this one.

And I gotta say, this is a good DNA story.

I went back to watch this expecting,
I think it's, there's a lot of makeup

in this episode as people change.

And it's the eighties or early nineties
by this point, and it doesn't all look

super convincing, but the story holds up.

And also I think better than any
other DNA story I've heard, I've seen

in Star Trek, the science holds up.

They at least make the attempt to
explain in scientific terms that

are real, based in our real world
knowledge of DNA what's going on here.

In this episode, it's all Barclay's fault.

Rob: Barclay!

Kevin: Barclay is going through
his hypochondriac phase where

he is spending his spare time
surfing the web for diseases that

he might have and then showing up
in sick bay, convinced he's dying.

And Crusher is completely
frazzled by dealing with this

guy who, keeps self-diagnosing.

She's like, you promised you
would stay off the computer.

And turns out he's
actually caught something.

He's caught a, an alien flu that human
biology is not equipped to fight.

And so what Crusher does, and she
talks through the science later in

the episode when things go horribly
wrong, she synthesizes an artificial

T-cell to activate the introns, the
dormant parts of the human genealogy

from past stages of evolution.

She reactivates some of these introns,
which are real things, you can look 'em

up online, and it's a fascinating read, in
order to activate some natural immunity or

immune system to fight this alien virus.

And she sends Barclay on his way.

But then, things start getting weird.

Uh, it turns out that the synthetic
T-cell that she synthesized is itself

like spreading among the crew and
activating all of the dormant gene

sequences in everyone onboard the ship.

Conveniently Picard and Data leave the
ship to go and retrieve a rogue torpedo

for a couple of days as this is going on.

And so you get that nice thing of,
things just start to go wrong, and

then you cut to Picard and Data
returning to the ship days later to

discover just how wrong they got.

And Troi is this salamander creature with
gills that lives in her bathtub with the

temperature turned up in her quarters.

Worf is this armored turtle thing that
is only seen in, in silhouette, but

is convinced that Troi is his mate.

This is, again, linking into
that brief period in season seven

where Worf and Troi were together.

But he's pounding on her
quarters' door to get in.

Picard, after coming on board the ship
and himself getting infected, Data says

to him I can already tell in, in, in
the tricorder that you are de-evolving

into something akin to a pygmy marmiset.

you get to see Jean-Luc Picard or more
appropriately Patrick Stewart play a

very different character color as he
is frightened by the slightest shadow.

And yeah, it's, it is delightful.

I went back to watch this thinking,
okay, I'm gonna watch a bad episode

of TNG, but it's actually really good.

It really holds up.

In particular, Data's cat spot
transforms into a lizard, and

I'll just leave that there.

Rob: Hm.

And it, and of course, all resolves
in the end, and there's no.

Kevin: All resolves in the end.


Data figures out what's going wrong
and manages to synthesize a cure,

release it into the air supply.

Everyone is mortified at
what they did when they

Rob: Of course, of course.

That representation of how we look
upon that very nineties, and it's still

here a little bit, that very nineties
simplistic view of DNA is then, and they

do it with like futuristic things, with
splicing your DNA with animal stuff, so

you've got like these hybrid type things.

And so that's a case of what will look
cool as opposed to what actually that

means on a fundamental cell by cell basis.

You go no, I want to have turtle Worf,
or I want to have salamander Troi,

or I want to have marmiset Picard.

It just strips it right down of
all the complexities of, the basic

structure of us as what we stand for.

They go no.

I want 'em to look like a cheetah.

Kevin: Yeah.

It's I think my favorite character
turn in this is really subtle.

Riker de-evolves into some kind
of like primitive human, so he's

basically becomes a caveman.

But in the initial moments of the
transformation, like Picard is away so

he is on the bridge, he is in command,
and he, his, he keeps forgetting what

he's doing in the middle of doing it.

Or someone will ask him a question
and he will not be able to hold

it all in his head at once.

And just that.

The acting that he does in those moments
of, I am frightened that my brain

isn't working, but I am in command,
so I can't let it show is beautiful.

It is some really strong Jonathan
Frakes stuff, way back in season seven.

So, yeah, really good.

But it does have that DNA problem of
you change someone's DNA and hours

or days later, they are a completely
different creature that uh, that only

gets worse as Star Trek indulges itself.

What's your first one?

Rob: I'm gonna talk about a species
that has been, cloned, but also DNA

manipulated to be so subservient.

I can't go past without doing a
Deep Space Nine reference, we're

gonna be looking at the Jem'Hadar.

Kevin: Ah.

Rob: And how they are manipulated,
DNA wise to be addicted to a drug,

ketracel-white, so that they become
dependent and they are completely reliant

on the Vorta and their position within
the Dominion cuz they are the foot

soldiers and they are incredibly violent,
brutal incredibly strong physically

who could dominate any race, really.

They have an honor code within their
own subservient nature, but this

is where the fundamental basics of
this race is controlled down to a

DNA level so that they are purely
at the control of another species.

And to make them addicted to a drug
very much pushed a lot within that

nineties era of sci-fi about what,
drug epidemics and how that looks

in within a futuristic setting.

But it's a fascinating concept of
the codependence of a species, those

three levels from the foot soldiers to
the yes man, then to the brain of the

operation with the actual Changelings.

But they're a fascinating species and
they developed them throughout, like

how their own culture that they had to
develop because they were pretty much

bred and created by the Changelings.

But, life finds a way to,
to quote Jeff Goldblum.

They developed their own culture.

Kevin: It's fun to explore what even
is a culture under those constraints,

and that culture still happens.

It is beautiful.

I feel like there is more to be
told there, they did not explore the

Jem'Hadar as far as they could have,
and I feel like maybe if they had,

in the context of DS9, it would've
robbed them a bit of that stormtrooper

sense of inevitability that you need
with the boogeyman of your series.

But now that is resolved it would
be lovely to go back and see like

what, if anything, remains of
the Jem'Hadar in the universe.

Rob: Because they kind of were filtered
out within this most recent season

Picard, where the Changelings themselves
are a threat as well, when the whole

point was that all they do the change
things, they change their forms and

they're the intelligence of them.


Kevin: They're the puppet masters.

Yeah, they pull the strings.

Rob: Yeah.

But we did see episodes where, we see
them when they haven't taken their, when

they haven't taken ketracel-white, you
see them how their withdrawals and how

that affects their bodies and their minds.

And so that's a really fascinating way
that takes away from how, that, that

sorta like simplistic view of, and now
you look like a rhino OSCEs because

you've got Rhino OSCEs DNA in you.

How that breaks down you as a person
from a fundamental basis when you are.

You are manipulated from every cell
to you can only survive by being

addicted to this particular thing.

Kevin: I love that the villains that
are the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta,

two species created through genetic
manipulation, designed species, designed

to be in service of a master race.

These created slave species, that
how ugly that is almost justifies

the other side of the coin of how
hard a stance the Federation takes

against genetic manipulation.

And I love that.

It's a, nice bit of if-this-then-that
in the DS9 storytelling.

It's if Bashir was manipulated to make
him smarter, what else would be possible

in a universe where that's possible?

What would be possible is that
a villainous race like the

Changelings could create a slave
species to their own design.

And and if this is true, then that
must be true, is the, it is the

essence of good science fiction.

And I love that those things, like
they found that in the context

of a single series so that it is
internally consistent in that way.

Rob: Yeah.

And they do show the whole, that
Bashir is the Goldilocks example where

he has the other members who have,
he sees them as like his family that

have had the same process that he
had, but they have become misfits.

They have become, they have to be
looked after and supervised because

they can't exist outside of the
institutions that they're tied within.

They're dangerous and dangerous
to themselves and to others.

Yeah and I like how they brought
that element into the Jem'Hadar,

that they are vicious and scary
and they are the boogey men.

But you did have a sense of sympathy
and empathy towards them for how their

lives were controlled and manipulated.

Next up for you?

Kevin: I think we're
gonna match on this one.

I'm going to Star Trek:
Voyager, season two, episode 15

Rob: Threshold!

I was gonna, I was debating
whether Threshold or Tuvix

and I went with Threshold.

Kevin: We could talk about Tuvix For sure.


In Threshold, Tom Paris attempts
a transwarp flight and there's

a lot made of the fact that Warp
10 means occupying every point

in the universe at the same time.

Rob: Make sense.

Makes sense.

Kevin: He achieves it.

Somehow, he achieves it, and then somehow
he returns to exactly where he started.

It's all very hand waved.

Even the warp science, before we even
get to the DNA, even the warp science

is completely bent in this episode.

The problem with this episode is that
the person who wrote it, I think, did

not care about getting the science right.

They or they were on a timeline,
they were like, I'm gonna break

every rule I need in order to get my

Rob: I just need to get
this script done in time.

I don't care what, I'm not
even gonna pay any attention.

I've got a short amount of time.

Let's get in and out.

Kevin: So let's move past the warp stuff.

But it makes no sense.

Rob: That's another episode.

We can break down Threshold over multiple

Kevin: Yeah.

Yeah, we can.

This is the episode in which Tom Paris
and Captain Janeway infamously evolve

into salamanders and have salamander
babies together In the last two

minutes of this episode, that's what

Rob: In out.

Kevin: Gosh, of the swamp, you mean?

Rob: Yes, exactly.

I'm not, I'm look you, you come for
high brow entertainment when you

do a podcast with me, Kevin Yank.

Good Lord.

Kevin: This is.

It's painful to watch Threshold, and
it's painful in ways that I didn't

remember it being painful, like the
actual DNA changing, evolving stuff,

and even the salamanders at the end.

It's at least surprising.

It's at least interesting.

But the bulk of this episode is just
long sequences in which Tom Paris is

lying on a table, feeling sorry for
himself and talking about everything

that's wrong with his life, everything
that's wrong with his dad, and he wants

to be famous to impress everybody.

But the big lesson of this episode is
what is most important is that he believes

in himself, which is completely f like
it's a completely fabricated lesson.

It has nothing to do with
the events of the episode.

And so it just, there is almost nothing
that holds water in this, and I don't

want to entirely blame it on the actor.

I think there is plenty
of blame to go around.

He was not given good stuff to work with.

Rob: Don't just, don't give all
the blame just to, to Robert

Duncan McNeil, there's so

Kevin: He did not write the line
as the doctor is frantically trying

to save his life and increase the
charge by 3%, maximum dosage, go.

Robert Duncan McNeil is asked
to lie in the bed and say

the words, Pepperoni pizza!

I could really go a pepperoni
pizza right about now.

It's an hour of that.

It's really painful.

Rob: That being said, I have just
found out that Threshold did win

outstanding makeup at the Emmys.

So there you

Kevin: They did a good
job with the makeup.

They, yeah.

He, they did a good job.

They, you couldn't tell that
it was Robert Duncan McNeil

underneath that salamander at all.

Rob: Look, it's a big it's a, when
you get to something like that, that

fundamentally alters your physicality,
your personality, and down to it's core,

when it comes to DNA or in any type
of, when it comes to science fiction

or fantasy or stuff like that, there
is a line that you have to decide of

whether once that alter alteration
happens, that person is gone, or whether

there is a chance to get them back.

And it's either black and white.

Kevin: They don't make the decision, here.

They don't make the decision.

They hedge all the way through.

They kill him.

He dies on the table, and then without
explanation, comes back to life.

And the Doctor goes, you have
two hearts, and your brain waves

are changing every few seconds.

But he still recognizes us and
he still knows the voyager.

And like, yeah, he wants
that pepperoni pizza.

It's bad.

Rob: And after all that, and
big salamanders and salamander

babies and all that type of stuff,
they go straight back, they go,

Kevin: Cut to: resolved.

Rob: is resolved.

we gotta carry on with our

Kevin: On the science, I will give
them this small bit of credit.

The way the doctor explains that he
cures them is somewhat scientifically

accurate, from my reading.

Something that some of the Reddit posts
that I've read about this stuff in, in,

in Star Trek Reddits from real scientists
commenting on the science is that if you

want to change someone's physiology by
altering their DNA, you gotta get it all.

Because if you just change
the DNA in one cell or a group

of cells, that's not enough.

All the other cells of the body are still
operating on their original instructions

and like the majority is likely to win.

So in order to effect a change, you have
to either change all the trillions of

cells, you gotta get 'em all at once,
or you have to kill off all the cells

that have the original DNA and then let
the new DNA spread, or at least kill

off the DNA, destroy the DNA in them.

And in this episode, that is
effectively how the Doctor

claims to have effected a cure.

He says, we're gonna extract especially
strong radioactive particles from the

warp core, and we will use them to
destroy all of the altered DNA and

let the original DNA reassert itself.

So there is something there that it
is least like the, that is I think

the one point on the board that the
science consultant managed to get that

They were like, Oh god, I only get
to fix one thing in this script?

Okay, fix this.

Rob: Yeah.

But yes, so Threshold is
infamous in more ways than one.

It's just the broad strokes
of using DNA for what?

That's not even for a gimmick.

It's just, they literally, it
comes across as we need to fill 50

minutes of television and because
it, it's from Michael DeLuca and and

the teleplay is by Brandon Bragga.

So Brandon Bragga has been
with the show for a while.

Kevin: Oh, poor Brandon Braga.

He will never live that down.

That's the episode that people
bring up with him of did it ever

get worse than Threshold for you?

And he goes, oh, Threshold,
please let me forget it.

Rob: Never.

We will never let anybody forget it.

Kevin: Look, I will say just because
we matched on Threshold, I will say

it did get worse than Threshold in the
DNA stakes and Star Trek Discovery's

explanation of Ash Tyler and Voq is
particularly egregious because that

is the time where, as far as I can
tell, according to that story, you can

copy someone's memory, personality,
and consciousness through their DNA.

What is explained in a horrible line
of dialogue in Discovery's Vaulting

Ambition is that Lieutenant Ash Tyler, the
original human, his DNA was harvested in

order to reconstruct his consciousness,

Rob: Kevin Yank is putting
up the uh, the quotes.

Kevin: and rebuild his
memory in preparation for

grafting with Voq's psyche.

Rob: Yeah, that's the word.

They used it a lot in Discovery.

Yeah, grafting.

Grafting a personality
onto another personality.

Kevin: With DNA.

With DNA, somehow.

Rob: Yeah.

Because that all went very,
it's almost body horror.

It is body horror stuff in there.

There's some horrific stuff in, in, in
there about, the, like the body horror

and the physical violation and yeah.

It was not done well at all.

Kevin: Yeah, I think they changed
their mind halfway through

the plotting of Ash Tyler.

I think as far as I can tell,
originally it was supposed to be Voq

the Klingon, and Ash Tyler was a fake
person, created for his spy persona.

And that it, he was physically modified
and pretending to be Ash Tyler.

But then they're like, would it be
like they're, when you make Michael

Burnham and Ash Tyler stand next to each
other, they look really good together.

Why don't we make them fall in love?

Why don't we make her fall
in love with the Klingon spy?

And then they're like, oh, that's,
they're so good together, we really

like to get him back next season.

How about we, we say
that he's not a Klingon.

He's actually the original human psyche.

And we'll explain it with DNA.

This is, yeah.

Rob: Yeah.

It's like what they do with Alison
Pill's character in season one.

She kills somebody and that they
wave it away with a explanation.

They go, oh, possession,

Kevin: Yeah.

Rob: Now she's a Borg Queen.


That type of retconning while
they're going along is it, the

clumsiness of it really shows.

Kevin: So I think we can conclude
that of all of modern Star Trek's

sins around DNA, Star Trek, Picard
does a reasonably constrained job.

Like it, it exercises
some self constraint.

Rob: Yeah.

And it has been explored throughout
the entire series, like cuz we

didn't even address like Khan,
Khan's genetically altered as well.

So it's not something
that's just been brought in.

Like I said, it was quite vogue in
the nineties of that type of stuff,

but it has been a part of sci-fi
exploration even back in the sixties.

Kevin: Yeah.

Well, there you go.

That's DNA.

Rob: That is the DNA of
the DNA within Star Trek.

And next week we get to
finally let go of the shackles.

We've already seen episode 10, The Last
Generation, now we get to talk about it.

That people have seen on the big screen.

Some people have seen it in IMAX.

There has been so many posts about tears
and crying and, oh it's gonna be, it's

gonna be emotional next week, Kevin.

I dunno if I'm, my heart is up for it.

Kevin: Oh you can't stop me.

Episode 29: DNA Shenanigans (PIC 3×09 Võx)
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