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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 3:13pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply


"...but then came the stupidity of the bald Picard in the NEMESIS photo."

There is a surplus of stupidity to be found throughout all of STAR TREK: NEMESIS...



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 4:51pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

"...but then came the stupidity of the bald Picard in the NEMESIS photo."

There is a surplus of stupidity to be found throughout all of STAR TREK: NEMESIS...
+++++++++++++
 
Patience. I'll soon get there!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

*It still bugs me all these years later that Ro and LaForge are mysteriously supported by the deck floors but are able to phase through walls -- and for that matter, they are still tied to the momentum of the ship (otherwise going to warp would suck bigtime).  I find it real hard to to turn my brain off for this particular sticking point yet I don't feel the same way about the practicalities of Kitty Pryde using her powers.  Chalk it up to a different standard for suspension of disbelief for different mediums, I guess.

+++++++++++++++

Yeah, I noted that, myself. It just has to be considered a necessary conceit in order for the story to work.

"Geordi and Ro phased through the ship and out into space during Act One" doesn't exactly make for a good episode, y'know?

 

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 04 February 2018 at 1:18am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I'd have been happy to see it.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 12:08am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

“The Inner Light”.


Easily one of the best episodes in the entire run, and one of four STAR TREK episodes to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (the other three all being TOS episodes). The premise is simple, yet immensely effective, and the story takes its time to unravel the mystery. The idea of the only record of an entire culture existing as the memories of a single man is quite touching. It certainly gives new meaning to the notion of walking a mile in another man’s shoes. Kamin is basically a version of Jor-El who sent his own life experiences out into the galaxy instead of his infant son.

Of course, this being episodic television, Picard will be back to normal in time for the next episode. That being said, I do find myself thinking about the effect that this kind of incredible experience would have on someone. Ron Moore admitted that the writing staff really didn’t think about it until after the episode was done, but the fact of the matter is that Picard would be fundamentally altered by the probe’s transmission. Spending literally decades living someone else’s life (with only a half-hour passing in real time) would completely alter a person’s behavior and personality, and the shock of having to re-acclimate to life aboard the Enterprise-D would likely be deeply damaging for him on an emotional and psychological level. Realistically, Picard would probably need years of therapy to properly deal with this experience.

Anyway, the Emmy-nominated makeup is excellent. Patrick Stewart is wonderful, and was robbed of an Emmy nomination. Interesting to see that he considered this episode his single biggest acting challenge during the entire run of TNG. The supporting players are also excellent, and it was a clever move to cast Patrick Stewart’s actual son as Kamin’s. The final scene is one of the best in all of STAR TREK, and I must confess that I found myself getting a bit misty. Seeing this episode as a child and again many years later as an adult are two very different things, and the emotion of it really struck me. Also, that famous flute solo has never left my mind, and it probably never will!

A strong contender for the very best episode of TNG. I still lean toward “The Best of Both Worlds”, mainly due to its more overt TREK-ness and its use of the full TNG cast, but this one really captures the intelligence, emotion, and humanity to be found in the very best of STAR TREK.
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 12:37am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

That's interesting. I remember hating this episode when it came on, thinking it "sappy" and could never understand why it was so popular.  I might have to watch it again. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 1:48am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Much as the episode depicts in a literal sense, time changes one’s perspective. It wasn’t a favorite of mine, back in the day, but seeing it with older eyes has made it much more impactful than it once was.
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 11:37am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I'll have to give it a another watch. It's not been a personal favorite, and I've failed to understand why it's so praised.

Perhaps I'll come away with something I haven't before with a fresh viewing.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 8:42pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Because it's a television show, our main character must retain his identity throughout, and yet his realization of who he is cannot derail or disrupt the story being told through Kamin's memories of his own life. 

The process of writing and recording Kamin's entire existence from the day of Picard's arrival on would likely have taken the actual Kamin some time and been a key feature of his later years, including his involvement with the space probe team and so on. It could not logically result in a single moment of awakening realization for Picard unless large parts of the actual Kamin's life were left out just to create that "aha" moment.

Again, that's the events writing themselves to be a TV show rather than an accurate record of one man's life and death upon a long-dead alien world seeking to be remembered by someone, anyone out there in the universe. It works as a TV episode, hitting the correct emotional beats to involve us as an audience, but it doesn't work well as an actual account of how such events would play out if they were really happening, which is fine. They're not. It is a TV show. 

But I was never happy with how much of a stick-in-the-mud, curmudgeon Picard was with his transformed existence and the weird way everyone in Kamin's life changed character to accommodate this aspect of their life-play's central character. How would everyone have had to behave if the role of Kamin were played by a Klingon? "Now, now, we know you're hardly yourself since the fall... Well, of course it's amnesia, dear... Look at the bumps on your head..."

How true an account of Kamin's life is it when the players have to spend half their time accounting for the fact that the guy playing the role doesn't want it?

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 8:54pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I like the fact that the episode is so highly praised and yet not truly representative of the show's usual story structure. In this respect, it is TNG's "City On the Edge of Forever." 

It involves a certain degree of "time travel" into the past, the assumption of an identity that fits in with that era, an unconventional focus on a small sliver of our cast, away from daily life aboard their ship (in this case one, Picard; In "City's" case, three; Kirk, Spock, and McCoy) bookended by appearances from our regular characters. The ending is about accepting the inevitable loss of loved ones from events long since gone by, leaving the audience with a lump in the throat and bittersweet recollections of what our Captain had to go through this week. Both Kirk and Picard undergo transformative experiences and should remain emotionally affected as a result, and to some extent, they do.

The scale is different. The nature of the trip into the past is as well. The two episodes are not the same, but what similarities there are between them are nevertheless interesting. I wonder if at some point anyone in the writer's room considered sending Data along on the trip as well. "My friend is obviously Albino. I see you've noticed the eyes. They're actually easy to explain..."


Edited by Brian Hague on 05 February 2018 at 9:01pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 9:23pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

My impression is that the transmission was designed to adapt itself to its recipient, with the whole "decades in real-time" aspect serving to break down Picard's apprehension and desire to escape, so he'd just relax and have an authentic experience of living life on the planet.

Since all of the key players in Kamin's life (even the dead ones) come back at the end to explain the purpose of the whole thing to Picard, it seems that the "program" (for lack of a better term) was more about giving a sense of the culture as viewed through one man's eyes, rather than being a dead-on-accurate biography of Kamin's life. It seems more like a holodeck simulation of his life, with Picard being prodded down a particular life path, and the program adapting when Picard strays from the overall story. After all, Picard totally retains his memories and freedom of choice, and yet still ends up having (presumably) the same children and overall life experiences that Kamin did, even if the day-to-day specifics were different.

 

The thing which most intrigues me about the story is that it's sort of Picard's version of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, with him fully embracing a planetbound life that includes a wife and children. Which was practically anathema for the guy we met in the pilot, five years prior. It's Picard's look at the road not taken, and so the comparison with "The City on The Edge of Forever" is apt in that way, as well.

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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 9:57pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Ah, yes. A holodeck simulation. Can never have too many of those.

Unfortunately, "Tapestry" is also Picard's version of a IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and provides the blueprint for the only foe the writers of STAR TREK: NEMESIS believed was worthy of Picard, Picard himself as a younger man; more reckless, more daring.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 10:42pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I think that “The Inner Light” works better than “Tapestry” as Picard’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Though that may change when I actually rewatch “Tapestry”, in a few weeks.

I think that “The Inner Light” hits closer to home because it shows him (in decades-long detail) how a family life could fulfill and enrich him. “Tapestry” shows him...what? That he should have had more one-night stands with his close friends, and that not being a Captain would be less fulfilling for him?

Not exactly on the same level!


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 05 February 2018 at 10:42pm
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 12:07am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

...and one of four STAR TREK episodes to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (the other three all being TOS episodes)

I believe the TNG finale ("All Good Things") won a Hugo as well.   For TOS it was "City..." and "The Menagerie", but I'm scratching my head for the third ("Doomsday Machine" or "Journey to Babel", perhaps?)
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 12:52am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

There's a couple very important aspects of "The Inner Light" that are left ambiguous but are implied...

*The probe 'chose' Picard but it's not stated whether this was blind luck (right place-right time) or whether the probe specifically sought out a compatible mind in both biology and psychology.  "The Chase" retroactively makes the biological requirement somewhat moot.   From a psychological and emotional perspective Picard was a fantastic choice for the probe: Here's someone who is accomplished but whose life could have taken a different turn (as a scientist) and there's a lingering regret for paths not taken.  There's also a curiosity tempered by a sense of logic.  The perfect candidate to eventually settle in and stop resisting.  Could you imagine Riker or any of the other bridge crew in the same position?

*The probe appears to have shut off after it's session with Picard but it's somewhat implied the simulation was a one-off, designed specifically to impart the experience and memories to one person -- It's then up to that person to relay the 'flavor' of the Kataan culture by good old fashioned oral tradition.  Or music. :-)

I agree the simulation was not meant to be a strict representation of actual events.  The interactive nature of the simulation appears to adapt to Picard's wishes and personality -- to a point.   Like modern video games that give the illusion of choice but actually have 'invisible walls' that will prevent the player from going too far out of bounds the Kataan simulation also continually shepherds Picard down a certain path.   Kamin's best friend, wife and kids all gently (or not so gently) steer Picard  -- like good video game NPCs.   

I'm sure Picard would have tried to apply aspects of Federation science and engineering that were unknown to the Kataans and the simulation would have adjusted to block his progress -- you get an inkling of that when he tries to appeal to the Administrator about a technological solution to the drought and also his evacuation proposal.  There's a convenient explanation for why both ideas wont work and then to cement the idea of futility the Administrator reveals that the council already came to the same conclusions that Picard just came to -- *two years ago*.  Talk about a metaphorical kick in the nuts!

The biggest tip off the simulation is not a direct representation of events happens near he end when the whole thing switches gears and suddenly everyone seems to know something that Picard doesn't -- not to mention *they are watching the launch of the probe*, which if you think about it could not have been recorded by the probe itself!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:02am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I believe the TNG finale ("All Good Things") won a Hugo as well.   For TOS it was "City..." and "The Menagerie", but I'm scratching my head for the third ("Doomsday Machine" or "Journey to Babel", perhaps?)
++++++++

No, you’re right. Brain-freeze on my part. Two TOS episodes (“The Menagerie” and “The City on The Edge of Forever”) won, as did two TNG episodes (the other being “All Good Things...”, as you noted).
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:13am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

“Time’s Arrow”.


Whereas “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Redemption” are considered TNG’s strong season-ending two-parters, “Time’s Arrow” and “Descent” are...less so. This one definitely has some good ideas and moments, but overall it’s...meh. It never quite comes together into a satisfying or exciting episode.

The reveal that it’s all a predestination paradox is of course implicit in the discovery of Data’s head, but I kinda think that Guinan’s little “full circle” comment hits the nail on the head too bluntly. It might have been more fun (and more of a surprise) for her first appearance in the episode to be when Data runs into her in the 19th Century.

Probably the best aspects of this episode revolve around Data (and Brent Spiner clearly having fun with the material). We go from some interesting philosophical talk regarding Data’s thoughts on his own mortality (and his conducting his own autopsy), and the crew’s reactions to his lack of an emotional reaction to his seemingly-imminent demise. Then, we get a tonal shift to Data’s wacky antics after he’s sent back to the past, and there are some good laughs to be had.

Also nice to see TNG vets Marc Alaimo and Jerry Hardin, too.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:17am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The probe 'chose' Picard but it's not stated whether this was blind luck (right place-right time) or whether the probe specifically sought out a compatible mind in both biology and psychology.  
+++++++++

I found myself wondering if the probe somehow knew that Picard was the leader of his ship, and therefore the one who was theoretically wisest and best-suited to disseminate knowledge of Kataan to his people.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:18am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I agree the simulation was not meant to be a strict representation of actual events.  The interactive nature of the simulation appears to adapt to Picard's wishes and personality -- to a point.   Like modern video games that give the illusion of choice but actually have 'invisible walls' that will prevent the player from going too far out of bounds the Kataan simulation also continually shepherds Picard down a certain path.   Kamin's best friend, wife and kids all gently (or not so gently) steer Picard  -- like good video game NPCs.   
++++++++

Yes, exactly. That’s the sort of analogy I was going for, but couldn’t quite articulate.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2018 at 1:06am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

“Time’s Arrow, Part II”.

A reasonably fun and interesting episode, but it still doesn’t quite come together. At the very least, the story of how five people from the future in their odd-looking future-clothes were able to acquire period clothes and blend into 1800s San Francisco is completely skipped over. It’s not escactly essential to the plot, but it does feel like a big leap from where Part I left off. The villains of the story aren’t fleshed out at all, and the conflict doesn’t feel quite as urgent as it should.

On the flipside, Jerry Hardin is delightful as Samuel Clemens, and I do believe this marks STAR TREK’s first use of an actual historical figure in a time-travel story. And, it’s nice to see Whoopi Goldberg get a bigger-than-usual role. This two-parter has provided some more interesting hints about Guinan’s past, and I feel rather strongly that her backstory is one which should remain mysterious. Heck, the notion of her being Picsrd’s Great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother isn’t even something one would ever guess just from watching the show proper. It’s all vague clues and hints. Has any spin-off novel/comic/whatever gone to the trouble of fleshing out her backstory?

It’s also rather trippy to realize that, for the rest of his days, Data’s head will be 500 years older than the rest of him.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 07 February 2018 at 6:33am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I consider "Time's Arrow" to be the worst TNG two parter and also one of the worst overall episodes of TNG (yes, even worse than some of the Season 1 and 2 clunkers, including the clip show).

TNG two-parters are curious beasts.   Twice the screen time should equate to twice the story but it rarely works out that way.   What inevitably happens is you have 1.5 episodes of story padded out to fill two episodes and most good writers tend to stack the cards to make episode one more exciting to lure viewers into sticking around for episode two.  The majority of them are ok but the resolutions are usually weak.

"Time's Arrow" doesn't even have that going for it.  It feels like less than one episode's worth of ideas smooshed out into two episodes purely because every season now needs to end on a cliffhanger.  The Data part of the story is interesting but it's really only half an idea.   I'm sure someone said "hey, there's this guy who does a spot-on impersonation of Mark Twain, and he's cheap to hire.  Let's write a story for him".   Then Guinan got shoehorned into the script.  It's a mess.



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 07 February 2018 at 6:54am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2018 at 11:23am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I tend to agree, Rob. Also, I read that the story was split into a season-ending two-parter so as to assure fans that TNG was not coming to an end, since DS9 was going into production at that same time. It explains why the story feels so directionless and padded.

I wouldn’t go so far as to cite it as one of TNG’s worst, but I’d agree that it’s easily the worst two-parter, and feels like a lot less than it could have been. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 February 2018 at 12:23pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I did think at the time that it would have been funny for Data to start using this as an excuse every time some computation of his or decision went awry. "I am sorry, sir. My positronic circuitry is well over 500 years old at this point." The writers could even have used this to their advantage and made Data's behavior progressively loopier and less accurate, putting a crimp in their built-in "tricorders are now people" dynamic they established at the outset with Data and Geordi. Riker could even have had some fun with it. Data stumbles over another calculation and Riker smiles. "Old head?" he asks. "Yes, sir..." Data admits awkwardly.

It's been a long time since I've seen this one, so forgive me if this is covered in the episode, but do they explain why they couldn't repair Data's head in episode one and simply have it explain to them what happened, and yet in episode two, it's easily reparable; so much so that Data walks around with it on his shoulders for the rest of his life?

As for noted historical figures, they did meet future New York City mayor Frank Pestle in "City On the Edge of Forever," the celebrated "Bum Mayor of NY" who used Keeler's 21st Street Mission as a turning point in his life, becoming a city councilman, and finally Mayor for two terms, albeit extremely corrupt ones. Okay, not anymore since he found McCoy's phaser, but at one time...


Edited by Brian Hague on 07 February 2018 at 12:29pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 February 2018 at 12:36pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

It's been a long time since I've seen this one, so forgive me if this is covered in the episode, but do they explain why they couldn't repair Data's head in episode one and simply have it explain to them what happened, and yet in episode two, it's easily reparable; so much so that Data walks around with it on his shoulders for the rest of his life?
+++++++++

This is an excellent point, since we saw that Data’s head could function independently of his body, in “Disaster”. That being said, Geordi at least has a fair bit of trouble reactivating Data in Part II, so having his body on-hand may have made the process easier than it might otherwise have been.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 12:07am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

“Realm of Fear”.

Always a joy to see Dwight Schultz doing his thing as the ever-neurotic Lt. Barclay. This is a solid and entertaining episode, although the science (fiction) is a bit...shaky. We get the very first POV shots of a person during the act of transport, which is neat, but the idea of being able to see, move, and act while in the process of beaming is a bit strange. Although, we did previously see people talking (THE WRATH OF KHAN) and walking (THE VOYAGE HOME) during transport, so it’s not entirely without precedent. Of course, the nature of 1960s visual effects dictated that the actors would become freeze-frames during transporter scenes. This had the side-effect of indicating that the process was likely instaneous from the point-of-view of the transportee, rather than being akin to their standing in the middle of a giant tube of Alka-Seltzer for a few seconds.

What this episode does well is examine Barclay and his phobia, which was modeled after episode writer Brannon Braga’s own fear of flying. It’s interesting to see the basic plot-device conceit of the transporter examined in more detail after 25 years. Yeah, McCoy often expressed his distrust of the process, and yeah, it’s treated as a casual convenience 99% of the time, but there are surely people who would have a major problem with it, and surely accidents which would occur.

Fine performances, an engaging story, but a bit too much reliance on technobabble and a distortion of how the transporter should actually work (with the aforementioned perception/movement within the beam).

The dangerous feat of suspending Barclay in the beam for just a minute or two also foreshadows the premise of an upcoming episode...
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