Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Rivals” and “The Alternate”

rivals

So much more could have been done in this episode!

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Rivals”

Synopsis

Prince Humperdinck… er, Martus Mazor, an apparent con man looking to make a quick buck, gets some kind of gambling device from someone else in the brig. He decides to open up a new casino across the way from Quark’s. Meanwhile, O’Brien and Bashir continue a racquetball rivalry, playing each other multiple times. O’Brien is convinced that if he just had the speed he used to possess, he’d wipe the floor with Bashir. To try to gain some of the business back from Martus, Quark announces a rival racquetball throwdown between Bashir and O’Brien. As all of this has been going on, weird accidents and luck shifting have changed all over the station. The bets keep rolling in as Quark’s business regains prominence. Martus desperately gives his money to an apparently down-on-her-luck Bajoran in a business investment. Dax discovers that the strange luck events trace ti the device Martus acquired.

Commentary

I think I can readily say this is not a very good episode, but I enjoyed it way more than I should have because it had the guy who played Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride in it. And he’s hilariously over-the-top in this episode, just as he is in the movie. Yes, nothing makes sense in this episode at all. Some dying alien in the brig has a space magic lottery device that manages to impact luck on an entire space station? Sure, why the heck not? Start a new business based on these random lotto devices in which all they do is light up and make a happy noise if you win or turn the lights off and make a sad noise if you lose? Yeah, obviously everyone would be interested in that! Luck as something that can be impacted by some strange device that can be easily replicated and made bigger? Why not?

The whole episode is nonsensical. But wow the guy who plays Humperdinck is great. Oh and I thought the ‘swindle the swindler’ aspect towards the end was kinda cool.

Grade: C+ “I think that having Prince Humperdinck in this one made me like it more than I should have.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “The characters weren’t that great and nothing about the episode made sense.”

“The Alternate”

Synopsis

Dr. Mora Pol, a Bajoran who’d worked with Odo to help him adapt to society, shows up on Deep Space 9 and wants Odo to help him get a runabout to investigate the possibility of some DNA similar to Odo’s being found on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. They go, and it is clear that Odo’s time with Dr. Pol wasn’t as wonderful for the former as it was for the latter–he was treated largely as an experiment, not a person. They get some goo that seems to be Odo-like from the planet and investigate, but a gas knocks everyone but Odo out. Back on DS9, things start to go radically wrong as the life-form goo goes missing and attacks start to happen on the station. It turns out that Odo was impacted by the gas as well–it turned him into a space monster goo. Bashir and Mora manage to cure Odo by taking the gas out of his cells. High fives all around, and Odo seems to forgive Dr. Pol.

Commentary

DS9 has a lot more episodes that are just plain weird than TNG did. This is another one. Interestingly, like many of the weird episodes so far, this one still somehow works, if only in a broken way. It gives Odo more characterization–and shows that his earliest times learning to take on form must have been super rough. It also gave a nice narrative of forgiveness as Odo and Pol worked together to solve problems, with the latter learning that Odo had achieved so much and coming to realize that he was more than an experiment.

The main problem here is the horror-type story in which Odo magically turns into a towering angry beast. I know we’ve already thrown conservation of matter out the window for Odo, and that’s fine. But some gas manages to turn him into a crazy death-dealing creature? And during the time we’ve already been told he must rest in order to survive? I don’t know, but my plausibility radar was going off big time.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s not bad either. I enjoyed it, and that’s what is important.

Grade: B- “Weird, but a nice break from the ‘space magic’ explanations we’ve had for many episodes this season.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The space magic was a little strange but it had some good twists and turns.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 “Second Sight” and “Sanctuary”

sanctuary

This was the only picture I could easily find for the episode. Deal with it.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Second Sight”

Synopsis

Sisko realizes that he almost forgot about the anniversary of his wife’s death and decides to take a walk. While walking around the promenade, he meets an enchanting woman, Fenna, who seems to disappear during their conversation. Later meetings happen in a similar fashion as the woman disappears. Sisko then runs into the woman, who is apparently Nidell, the wife of Gideon Seyetik, a terraformer who is on station working on a project. The woman does not have any memory of running into Sisko before, however. Later, after running into the mysterious Fenna again, Sisko goes to confront Nidell. He finds her ill and it becomes clear that Nidell’s subconscious self is rebelling against a life as the wife of the boastful Seyetik. Due to her own monogamous beliefs, she will not leave him, and it is killing her (literally). Seyetik leaves the station to run himself into the nearby sun he is trying to jump-start, thus freeing Nidell, who has no memory of Fenna’s love for Sisko.

Commentary

I don’t really know what to make of this one. Seyetik’s character is gloriously boastful, but in a way that almost makes him likeable. I’m sure that’s much easier to say as someone watching than a ‘real’ person talking with him, but there was almost something charming about just how full of himself he could be. Could he really turn every conversation into one about his exploits? Yes. He’s the most interesting man in the quadrant.

Aside from Seyetik, the episode is just weird. Some psychological/physical aspect of some alien falls in love with Sisko because she is unhappy in her marriage but somehow she doesn’t remember it herself and she’s dying because reasons? Yeah. I’m not sure what to make of that. But the episode is also fairly predictable: as a viewer I knew that the love wouldn’t last, particularly when it turned out that Nidell looked the same as Fenna. I also predicted Seyetik giving himself up to free his wife–a selfless act, really, for a man who is supposed to be insufferably selfish.

It’s a strange episode, and one that left me feeling a bit like “Huh?”

Grade: C “Weird and predictable.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “I do really like that the answer wasn’t space magic, but it seemed hard to believe that Seyetik couldn’t come up with a solution other than blowing himself up.”

“Sanctuary”

Synopsis

Some refugees show up through the wormhole only to let the station know that an entire people group is fleeing the Gamma Quadrant. Led by Haneek, the Skrreeas (I looked up how to spell it) are different in many ways from the people of Bajor and the Federation, particularly in their distrust of men in leadership positions.The Skrreeas have a prophecy about finding a place that is a planet of sorrow on which they will sow joy themselves. It sounds a lot like Bajor, but when Kira goes to the Bajoran provisional government, they conclude they cannot allow such a large number of refugees to settle on their planet.  Kira sides with the Bajoran leadership, and the Skrreeas leave with mournful words about what could have been on Bajor.

Commentary

A problem in our world that is never going to go away: refugee crises. “Sanctuary” deals with this thorny issue in a rather thought-provoking way. It is easy to see many of the problems in this episode in real-life situations. Perhaps the biggest and most damning part of the episode is that the two groups that are most likely to be sympathetic to the plight of a people group–the Bajorans and Starfleet–don’t come up with a solution that is satisfactory to the refugees themselves. Though it is an alarming proposition to think about the sheer volume of people the Bajorans would be taken in had they said yes, the episode made it seem clear they weren’t going to be losing out on much in terms of arable land and the like. It’s a telling conclusion that shows lip service towards the plights of others often is not met with action. Yes, Starfleet did find a planet for the people to settle upon (speaking of which–do they just have a bunch of life-suitable planets lying around for just such a situation? Maybe that’s why they’re so big on terraforming), but the Skrreeas themselves felt their prophetic home should be amongst the Bajorans. What’s the episode’s answer to such a tough question? Life isn’t so simple. Ouch.

My synopsis did not even mention the Jake/Nog side plot where they keep getting themselves in trouble with the Skrreeas kids, but I enjoyed that well enough. It showed some of the tension between people groups that would exist with so many refugees.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, but not because it is happy. It’s really quite sad–achingly so. It asks us to examine our own willingness to help others in need.

Grade: A- “Predictable, but well paced and with an intriguing message.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I really enjoyed the challenges the station staff faced communicating with the new people group and thought it was well-done overall.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Armageddon Game” and “Whispers”

Well.. this is awkward.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Armageddon Game”

Synopsis

O’Brien and Bashir are sent to aid T’Lani III in the destruction of a dangerous bioweapon that has helped to spur on endless warfare between two factions. After they manage to destroy the last of it, an attack apparently makes them disappear. To the crew of DS9, it looks as though they’ve died. However, Keiko O’Brien suggests that because Chief Miles O’Brien was drinking coffee later than he ever would, the recording has been doctored. Sisko and Dax go to T’Lani III to investigate. Meanwhile, O’Brien has been getting sick, apparently from a bioweapon, and Bashir continues to try to treat him as O’Brien helps Bashir repair a communicator. As Sisko and Dax investigate, they discover that the runabout O’Brien and Bashir used has been tampered with, opening the possibility that they are alive. The T’Lani find O’Brien and Bashir, and it turns out they’ve decided to kill them to erase any possibility of the bioweapon ever being constructed again. Sisko and Dax manage to grab the imperiled crew members and distract the T’Lani, escaping back to DS9 with their lives.

Commentary

I thought this was a great character-building episode. One thing this episode highlights about DS9 as over and against TNG is that it is clear the relationships between characters are more complex. Yes, TNG is my favorite and probably always will be, but here in DS9 we have a relationship between two major characters that is not 100% amiable at all times. The relationship between O’Brien and Bashir is not caustic and awful, but it has tensions and is more depth to it than a lot of relationships on Star Trek in general have. It feels more real because of it.

The plot is pretty intriguing too, though a bit of suspension of disbelief is required for thinking the T’Lani would basically just start a war with Starfleet to preserve their peace after they’d just been assisted by Starfleet to get that peace achieved in the first place.

Overall, this was a great episode, and it built the heck outta O’Brien and Bashir as characters.

Grade: A- “O’Brien and Bashir are the best combination.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Anytime Bashir and O’Brien face up, it’s gonna be great.”

“Whispers”

Synopsis

Something’s not right. O’Brien is in a runabout fleeing from Deep Space Nine, narrating the strange things that have happened. Basically everyone aboard DS9, including his wife, has become very strange, acting as though something is wrong with him when in reality all of them are going nuts. He narrates the lengthy series of events that leads to his escape from DS9. Ultimately, he ends up walking in on a meeting between Sisko and some others, only to see another one of himself across the way. He tries to fire on the imposters, but is instead killed by a bodyguard. As he lays dying, he tells the now-revealed-as-real O’Brien to tell Keiko he loves her.

Commentary

I kept getting shades of the classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (an excellent film, btw) throughout this episode, only to have the whole thing overthrown at the end. It was an unexpected twist that, while a bit tough to swallow, made sense as an ending and was satisfying. I enjoyed this one a great deal, especially because I enjoy a good mystery combined with my science fiction.

The abruptness of the ending is quite jarring, however. It’s clear from the beginning something isn’t right. And of course you simply go along with the expectation that O’Brien is the reliable narrator when in fact it is he who is compromised. But it felt like there weren’t really enough hints throughout to fully sell the ending, that the narrator was the imposter. That’s maybe the only real problem with this episode. I still enjoyed it a great deal.

Grade: B+ “The ending is a bit of a stretch, but this is a pretty mystifying–in a good way–episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I like the premise, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be better at keeping him locked up if they really thought they’d been infiltrated by a murderous spy group.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Rules of Acquisition” and “Necessary Evil”

necessary-evilI’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Rules of Acquisition”

Synopsis

The Grand Nagus, Zek, shows up on DS9 and enlists Quark to be a kind of ambassador for the Ferengi to the Gamma Quadrant. Quark’s new waiter, Pel, shows himself (but wait, there’s more!) to be an excellent advisor, and Quark brings Pel along to help with negotiations. The Grand Nagus keeps changing exactly what he wants Quark to acquire, while Quark continues to struggle with the people from the Gamma Quadrant he’s trying to buy from. Pel, a female Ferengi who has, in fact, covered up her sex in order to participate in wider Ferengi affairs, falls for Quark and after she reveals herself to him, the Nagus and Quark both must keep her identity secret while also giving her some of the prophets of their Gamma Quadrant findings. Pel leaves Quark with both wondering if they could have been more.

 Commentary

It’s pretty amazing to me how well the DS9 writers have acclimated themselves to writing the Ferengi as a genuine, interesting people group. On TNG they were never more than a kind of annoying mosquito to be swatted–along with some really silly episodes–but on DS9 they’ve been developed into fully realized aliens with a complex system of beliefs and culture. It’s great. This episode contributes well to that growing body of intrigue.

Pel’s character is particularly fascinating, because it shows the low status of women among the Ferengi, as well as how some Ferengi females would try to break out from the strictures of their society. I’m hoping we see more of this going forward–I honestly don’t remember much of DS9 at all, apparently.

The episode also does a great job highlighting the strangeness and excitement of the Gamma Quadrant, with aliens that are aggressive, interesting, and full of opportunity (yes, that’s a nod to the Ferengi). I quite enjoyed the ending, with Quark realizing (?) his own thirst for profit and his adherence to strict codes of behavior among the Ferengi could have just cost him big time on the personal relationships front.

Grade: A “An intriguing look into the politics of the Ferengi is accompanied by an exciting look into the Gamma Quadrant.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I thought it was quite enjoyable with the return of the Grand Nagus and the unexpected lady Ferengi.”

“Necessary Evil”

Synopsis

The episode jumps back and forth between what happened on DS9 as Odo first is convinced by Gul Dukat of the Cardassians to take on a job investigating crimes and the present as someone attempted to kill Quark in a kind of burglary/heist gone wrong. In the past, we see Odo investigating a murder in which the (then) newly-arrived Kira was a prime suspect, finding him to be constantly thwarted in his investigation. In the present, the item that was stolen in the violent encounter with Quark was a list of names, apparently of people that Pallra, the woman who initiated the sequence of events and the wife of the murdered man in the past, has recently blackmailed. Odo manages to capture the Bajoran who has come back to try to kill Quark (again), but then realizes that Kira had lied to him in the past and had, in fact, committed the murder he investigated so many years ago. The episode ends with Kira and Odo contemplating their relationship.

Commentary

Wow, this was awesome. We get a huge amount of insight into the past of not just Kira and Odo, but also of Deep Space 9 and the Bajoran-Cardassian conflict. There’s so much to it that I am not going to just type it all up. Watch the episode for all of it! The highlights, though, are seeing how much more militaristic the station was, what kind of conditions the Cardassians kept on the station, and more.

The particular excitement of this episode, though, is found in the skipping back-and-forth between the past and present trying to solve two mysteries at once. It’s a great way to hold tension through the episode, and was handled with such deftness that it came off wonderfully. I can’t imagine trying to write two mysteries across two time periods, connecting them, and pulling it all off, but it was done incredibly well here.

The ending is, like the previous episode, rather bleak. We are left wondering whether Kira/Odo can ever have true trust between them again. It’s the kind of outro that I love in Star Trek episodes. Well done.

Grade: A “A bleak look back at the origins of Odo/Kira’s relationship that basically just makes them both even more awesome.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I enjoyed getting the backstory for Odo and Kira and the Cardassian occupation, but it didn’t quite grasp my attention the way I hoped it would.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Reading through the [Alleged] Best 100 Science Fiction Books- #21-25 scores and comments

snow-crashI’m a huge science fiction fan, but realize I haven’t read a lot of those works considered classics or greats. I decided to remedy that, and found a list online of the Top 100 Science Fiction Books. The list is determined by vote from sci-fi fans online, so it may change over time. I am going off the order of the list as it was when I first saw it. Each book will receive a grade between F and A+ as well as very brief comments. I’m interested to read what you think about these books as well. There will be very minor spoilers in some of these.

21. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells Grade: A
“A classic that remains as powerful and terrifying as ever, The War of the Worlds is phenomenal. Wells also gives much to reflect upon throughout the book through integration of various ideas, and a speculative ending that will have readers searching the skies long after. It also has surprisingly strong characters compared to much early science fiction. It’s a masterwork.”

22. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury Grade: A
“Bradbury’s vision of Mars and our future is haunting. Filled with cynicism and almost relentlessly bleak, there is but little light offered to readers. It’s got the feel of ‘The Twilight Zone’ as well as the thrills. Each individual story left me with a feeling of almost awesome dread. A fantastic book, but not uplifting.”

23. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut F
I read this one in high school and hated it. I figured I should re-read it since I didn’t remember it at all, and–let’s be honest–I was a bit a of an idiot in high school. That was a severe mistake. Vonnegut’s humor is barely 4th grade level, including lines that I think are supposed to be funny like ‘The old man was in agony because of gas. He farted tremendously, and then he belched.’ Yes, this is apparently a classic. The plot is also completely incoherent, effectively set up so that the author could draw an amateurish picture of a necklace dangling between a woman’s breasts. How mature. Slaughterhouse Five is the worst book I’ve ever read.”

24. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin A-
“Le Guin created a world that feels strangely familiar, while remaining radically different. It makes you think about life and the struggles we face. The overarching plot wasn’t terribly strong, but the character-driven nature of it made that not matter very much. It’s an extremely personal novel. I enjoyed it quite a bit.”

25. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson A
“A pulse-pounding, mind-bending ride that I didn’t really want to end. The plot is somewhat hard to follow, but remains enjoyable throughout. The seamless integration of so many ideas is impressive and exciting. I particularly enjoyed the interweaving of Ancient Near Eastern culture with high-tech societies and the subtleties Stephenson introduced that way. Plus, there’s a delivery samurai guy. What can you complain about there? I discovered Stephenson with this book and I’m sure I’ll read more, especially because he has more books on this list.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Reading through the [Alleged] Best 100 Science Fiction Books- Check out more posts in this series as I continue.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through “Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil”

dynasty_of_evilI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we look at Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil, the conclusion of the Darth Bane trilogy, which is set a millennium before the original trilogy. It provides a background for how the Sith came to be as they appear in the films. There will be SPOILERS in what follows. Please do not SPOIL later books in the comments.

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil starts yet another ten years after the previous entry, Rule of Two (which itself started 10 years after the first, Path of Destruction). Bane is beginning to have concerns about his apprentice, Zannah, who has yet to challenge him to combat despite his own belief that she ought to have done so by now–and his suspicion that she may even be able to best him. He is also pursuing the path to possible immortality from a lost Sith document that will give him time to find a new apprentice and destroy Zannah, if needed. Meanwhile, Zannah is making strides of her own, plotting to take on her own apprentice, a rogue Jedi named Set, while pursuing the mission Bane sent her on offworld. Bane is captured by the vengeful daughter of Caleb, the healer Bane threatened in order to be helped. He escapes with help from a former compatriot in the Sith army, and goes to confront Zannah at last. Set takes some valuable Sith artifacts and escapes, hoping to learn about immortality on his own, while Bane moves to confront Zannah. The Huntress, an assassin has pledged to become Zannah’s new apprentice if she defeats Bane. During the battle, Bane appears to have been defeated, but at the end it seems he has simply taken over Zannah’s body in his pursuit of immortality, and he takes on the Huntress as his (possibly) unwitting apprentice.

I have to say, this is a phenomenal conclusion to an excellent plot arc in the Star Wars expanded universe. Karpyshyn has written a work that can truly stand on its own without the Star Wars license, but as he did in the previous entries, he wisely uses that license to improve the work rather than as a crutch. Dynasty of Evil is fast-paced, intense, and absolutely full of twists and turns that kept me guessing–0r at least anticipating–through the last page. The action scenes remain quite strong, but more importantly, Karpyshyn’s character writing continues to exceed expectations. There is no doubt that Bane and Zannah are evil characters, but the motivations, plotting, and the like that they do is every bit as realistic as more complex “good guys.” They aren’t just evil ogres; they are characters that easily stand on their own.

Tying in the continued pursuit of ancient Sith artifacts to the story is really just icing on the cake. There’s a sense of history and depth in this book and the rest of the series that isn’t always present in the Star Wars universe.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil is a fantastic conclusion to a superb trilogy set within the Star Wars universe. It is highly recommended reading, and could easily stand on its own as a great work.

The Good

+Intriguing characters
+Great action scenes
+Excellent pacing
+Open-ended but satisfying conclusion

The Bad

-None

Best Droid Moment

N/A 😦

Grade: A+ “A stirring success as the conclusion to one of the better complete story arcs in the EU.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Cardassians” and “Melora”

melora

The Klingon Restaurant is Everything that is Awesome

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Cardassians”

Synopsis

A Cardassian boy, Rugal, shows up on DS9, apparently with Bajoran “parents.” He lashes out at Garak, the Cardassian tailor on board the station, leading to controversy over his situation. Gul Dukat insists on intervening and says he desires to bring all the Cardassian war orphans back home. When Bashir mentions Dukat’s ideas to Garak, he not-so-subtly hints that there is more than meets the eye with Dukat’s concerns because Dukat himself was involved with and opposed to evacuating Bajor. Dukat and Bashir go to Bajor where they find information that ultimately reveals Dukat intentionally left Rugal behind to poison the well of one of his political adversaries. When Dukat arrives on station to help arbitrate the hearing over custody of Rugal, he is confronted with this information. He storms off, his plan in ruins, and Rugal is sent “home” with his Cardassian father.

Commentary

It is difficult for me to figure out how to feel about this one. It’s also impossible to refrain from a comparison of the Cardassian treatment of the Bajorans to various modern day analogues. I did enjoy this episode. It asked many valuable questions, and what I thought for a while was a gaping plot hole (why the heck did the Cardassians leave any of their children behind to begin with) actually became the impetus for a major plot twist. I have to admit that was really well done.

I also like the character of Garak and his interplay with Bashir, which largely seems to be: Bashir looks kind of like an idiot. There’s a lot going on in this episode, and much of it involves Bashir annoying Sisko with little reason to back up his claims other than that some tailor told him to investigate further. No matter, he does so, and his curious nature is ultimately rewarded in the showdown with Gul Dukat, another great Cardassian character. Basically, the writers of both TNG and DS9 have done a phenomenal job writing the Cardassians so far. They’re much more threatening-feeling than most other enemies. There’s a sense not just of intrigue but also foreboding that accompanies them. I don’t know how to describe it, but they’re good.

I didn’t even get to mention the O’Briens impact on the situation, and O’Brien dealing with his own dislike of the Cardassians to try to convince Rugal that they aren’t all bad after all.

Anyway, the ending of this was tough, too. How will Rugal adapt to Cardassia, among those he has effectively been raised to hate? Will his own perspective help bring change, or will they simply beat into him the evils of Bajor? I doubt we’ll ever know, and the ambivalence of it is tough to swallow.

Grade: B+ “A rather ambivalent look at a number of tough questions that, ultimately, leaves them unanswered.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a pretty good mix of the race relations between Cardassia and Bajor with some good mystery thrown in.”

“Melora”

Synopsis

Ensign Melora Pazlar is coming to DS9 and because she is Elaysian, she is used to lower gravity than DS9 has. Bashir has been getting everything prepared, and is surprised by her abrasive attitude when they first meet. She insists upon doing everything herself, but slowly begins to trust Bashir. After an accident that Bashir helps her to recover from, she gives him the experience of “flying” around her low-gravity quarters. They exchange a kiss. Bashir comes up with an idea to help her muscles adapt to the gravity of the station, but to complete the treatment, Melora will have to give up her low-gravity fields so her motor cortex doesn’t get messed up. Meanwhile, an old accomplice of Quark’s, Kot, has shown up on station, threatening to kill Quark. He is persuaded away from this course of action by a bribe, but as Quark acquires the money, Kot intervenes, insisting on even more. He takes Melora, Dax, and Quark hostage and steals a runabout. On the runabout, after being shot, Melora manages to turn off the gravity in the ship and disable Kot. She decides to discontinue the treatment because she feels it would change who she really is.

Commentary

The biggest problem in this episode is when Dax is talking to Melora and brings up the story of the Little Mermaid as a kind of analogy for Melora’s own situation. It’s like the thrust of the whole episode up to this point has been “Let’s fix the angry disabled person” (itself a major problem) and then it turns into “but wait, disabled people might be better off how they are!” Now, apart from the many complexities in such questions which are largely ignored by the episode, I found this a stunningly inept way of looking at the question of disabilities in the future. Melora is portrayed as rather savagely defensive instead of as a person who is adapting to difficult circumstances, the people around her basically all seem to be trying to “fix” her, and the one person who doesn’t favor that basically tells a horror story about how everything could go wrong with the choice she made.

All of that said, it is clear the intent of the episode was to try to deal with some of these very difficult questions. It just was inept in its execution. What makes this more surprising is that one of the writers, Evan Carlos Somers, apparently is a paraplegic himself who uses a wheelchair. According to the Deep Space Nine Companion, he had to deal with many of the problems shown on screen-elevators not designed to be accessible, etc. I just wish that the episode had highlighted more of the difficulties without making Melora seem so embittered by them. Yes, she does come out of her shell some, but there is little explanation for why she is so upset to begin with.

Also, can we ask how realistic the whole scenario is anyway? Basically any hard sci-fi I’ve read deals with the question of differing gravities, and I think that Melora would have to be better adapted to higher gravities than she is. Simply based on muscle mass and the fact she is able to fling herself about in low or no gravity suggests some better muscles and use thereof than this episode actually discusses. Oh well.

The sub-plot of the blast from Quark’s past was pretty interesting, and I think it could have carried an episode on its own, but maybe that’s because I’m coming to enjoy Quark more and more.

Finally, I give this episode mad props for the excellence that was the Klingon restaurant. That was basically the best non-story moment of any episode so far. Both scenes in the restaurant were pure gold, especially when the owner came around singing and playing his dainty Klingon incident. Superb.

Grade: C- “A questionably-executed attempt to deal with disabilities in the future.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “The ‘Little Mermaid in Space’ didn’t do a very good job addressing disability. Melora was interesting character, though.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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SDG.