Presidential Biographies: Educating Myself and Giving Arbitrary Grades

I like lists. Are there people that don’t? Probably.

Anyway, I heave been burning through the science fiction reading list that I’ve been doing for a couple years and realized I was rapidly running out of ideas for what to read next. I am, of course, going to keep reading science fiction and fantasy, but I wanted to do something different. I tried looking up some lists of classics, but I’d either already read too many of them or they included “modern classics” alongside things like Pride and Prejudice or Crime and Punishment. No thank you. So, while I keep searching for a list of classics worthy of the name, I decided to educate myself. I realize that even though I studied history in college and got more than my heaping helping of history, I still know very little about the history of the United States. So to alleviate that, I figured I’d start reading through biographies of Presidents of the United States. So then new quest is launched: read one biography of every President of the United States, in order! I’d totally have an awesome picture with all the Presidents on it, but I couldn’t find one in the limited time I took searching. So here’s the book cover of the first biography I’m going to read.

How will you choose which biography to read?

Good question! Goodreads reviews and lists, blog reviews, and the like will help me choose which biography to read. Heck, feel free to suggest one if you think there is a MUST READ biography of a specific President.

Grading?

Yes, I’m going to rank the Presidents. As I read through this list, I’ll do a review of each biography I read, and at the end I’ll have an ever-increasing ranking of the Presidents until, at long last, we will have:

THE DEFINITIVE RANKING OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES*

My criteria for ranking the Presidents will be somewhat arbitrary. Random things I’ve thought of so far is whether they improved our infrastructure, how Presidential they acted/looked, whether they got us into any silly wars, and the like. As you can see, these criteria are somewhat… subjective. So you’ll probably end up disagreeing with me. I look forward to your comments! I’m hoping each entry will look something like this:

1. George Washington: THE Presidential appearance, basically saved the existence of our country, but owned slaves. _____ (list of other accomplishments). Starts ranked at one because I haven’t read about any others.

Anyway, I’m hoping it’ll be a good time. I’m sure I’ll have fun anyway. Come along for the ride! Starting…. soon… ish.

*Rankings not definitive

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!

SDG.

 

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 3: “The Search” Parts I + II

A lake of Odos!

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:

“The Search: Part I”

Synopsis

The USS Defiant is delivered to DS9 as part of an effort to shore up its defenses against a possible Dominion threat. Turns out the ship has a cloaking device, along with a Romulan officer to help keep an eye on how their loaned device is being used. Sisko and a team head into the Gamma Quadrant in order to see if they can find the leaders of the Dominion, the Founders, and possible open negotiations to show the Federation is interested in peaceful coexistence.  As they continue to track the Founders, the crew gets split up and O’Brien and Dax must be left behind. The Defiant is assaulted and several members must independently make their escapes. Major Kira rescues Odo and the two of them go to a nearby planet to try to recoup. On that planet, they run into a lake that seems to be made of the same material as Odo, and four humanoids emerge, welcoming Odo home.

Commentary

Here’s a great idea for a space station facing a major threat: take away basically the entire command crew for a secret mission and hope for the best back home! “That’s a bad idea,” you say? Why? We do it all the time!

That’s one of the miriad of issues in the plausibility of this episode. I mean seriously; would they really just remove command officers from where they were needed so often? I doubt it. Another difficulty: throwing a Romulan cloaking device on a Starfleet ship. Suddenly the Romulans are more than happy to help the Federation? I don’t buy it.

But hey, this was actually a fun episode to watch. The tension was ratcheted up pretty high, and the curiosity regarding the Dominion has been building ever since they were first mentioned, so it is exciting finally seeing some payoff there. Most importantly, it offers a tantalizing hint that we will learn more about Odo’s past. Awesome.

So this episode was very low on the plausibility side, but high on the fun side.

Oh and the Defiant is awesome. Definitely my favorite Star Trek ship and class.

Grade: B- “There were some severely implausible moments throughout the whole thing. It was still a fun watch, though.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+  “Can we talk about how they take their senior officers through the wormhole all the time?”

“The Search: Part II”

Synopsis

Odo finds out that he is part of the “Great Link” which is some kind of society for shape-shifters like himself. He is filled in on some of the past of his people, who were ostracized by “solids” everywhere before finding sanctuary on this world. Back with the rest of the crew, they get back to DS9 with the information that the Founders want to have peace talks. On station, the terms of this peace agreement become more and more irksome, as the Dominion is going to be given control of the wormhole and DS9, along with excluding the Romulans from the treaty talks, leading to almost certain war with the Empire. Back on the Changeling (a name they adopted that was originally pejorative) world, Odo learns more about himself through changing into various objects and creatures. Kira continues to try to contact the Federation, but discovers something is impeding her. When she goes to investigate, she finds that there is a door to a chamber that she cannot get through. She tells Odo about this and together they discover that the rest of their crewmates have, in fact, been captured on this planet. They aren’t back on DS9 where awful events continued, but rather undergoing a simulation to see if they would give in to Dominion rule. The Changelings are, in fact, the Founders. They’ve used their powers to try to establish order throughout the galaxy, and are intending to do so to the Federation. Odo decides he has stronger ties to the Solids he knows than to these Founders who deceived him, and he and the rest of the DS9 crew are allowed to leave. Odo realizes he will be an outsider among the Solids, but it is the decision his morals allow.

Commentary

We get to find out more about Odo! But it turns out his people are rather more sinister than initially expected! Cool. The setup for the Dominion gets a rather huge payoff here, as it seems the message is that the powerful group is actually controlled by the Changelings, who were originally derided and feared but now bring order through force across their, er, dominion. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it, and the layers of command between the Jem’Hadar and Founders makes this even more complex and exciting. Love it.

I also like that this was a major Odo episode that gave him a chance to both explore himself as a shape-shifter while also revealing more about his people. This revelation makes him repelled by them rather than rushing to join them, and that is bittersweet in the best way, because it also fits Odo’s character. He would choose what is right over his own people. That’s just who he is.

The main problem here is that it fairly quickly became evident that half of the episode simply could not be real. They did a decent job of throwing some doubt on this for a while, but once the Federation had completely capitulated to the Dominion, it became clear. After all, a known enemy (Romulans) is probably better to have than a lopsided “alliance” with an almost entirely unknown quantity. Also, we knew that Admiral Nechayev was a bit of a loose cannon, but her allowing the Dominion to trample all over the Federation at these simulated peace talks pushed it too far. She’s not that big of an idiot, though she has frequently been wrong.

Apparently, according to the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Companion (an awesome book you should run to get ASAP), the produecers hated how they did Odo’s world, but I kind of liked it. Oh well. Also, Jonathan Frakes directed this one. Awesome.

Oh, and another good thing about this episode is that, unlike several recent episodes where it turned out nothing the characters did mattered in any way, Odo still had major growth and very real drama throughout this one. Well done.

Grade: B+ “Wait, changelings are baddies? Cool. Wait, are they really bad guys? Ambivalence? Yes!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Odo homeworld was pretty sweet.”

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 Wars: Expanded Universe Read Through “Revenge of the Sith” by Matthew Stover

I 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 Revenge of the Sith, the adaptation of the film of the same name and book 2 in the Dark Lord Trilogy. It’s a surprise, I’ll give it that. There will be SPOILERS in what follows. Please do not SPOIL later books in the comments.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Matthew Stover has done something with this book that I did not believe possible. Namely, he made the film “Revenge of the Sith” seem not so terrible. Yes, it’s still full of atrocious dialogue and gaping plot holes and random jerking around of character’s emotions and reactions to events, but somehow Stover manages to make some of this not stupid.

The way Stover accomplishes this nearly miraculous feat is by taking advantage of the written format. So, for example, when Anakin Skywalker is about to deliver some horrendously awful line of dialogue that Stover is forced to use because he’s adapting the film into a book format, he can massage the text to make it somewhat reasonable for Anakin to sound like an idiot. He does this by providing reasoning behind what the characters do and say throughout the book in a great many instances. There’s constantly internal dialogue (the kind of dialogue that should have been in the movie) explaining why the characters react the way they do or speak like they’re being controlled by three-year-olds. It’s frankly remarkable, and for that alone I want to give Stover a high five.

But Stover goes beyond that Herculean task and also gives more flesh to the story and the characters more generally. I admit, I was really skeptical about reading this Star Wars novel, but I saw time and again people citing it as a great one. Stover delivered, big time. There is a much greater sense of foreboding and inevitability in the novel than the film ever had. Scenery is built up and integrated into the story. Planets feel like more than simple set pieces for fights; there’s a reason that people would go to an absolutely hellish planet. Motivations for characters are interesting. It’s all superbly done.

All of this said, I know the film is bad, but because I love Star Wars I almost can’t help but like it. Thank you, Stover, for making that not seem so foolish. I’d give this book an A+ for effort, really, but the dialogue from the movie is still there, and it can’t be avoided, so it, unfortunately, must be bumped down a bit because of that. But seriously, read this book and you may be able to sit back and think, “Maybe that movie wasn’t so bad.” And that, my friends, is a delightful thing indeed. Pick up Revenge of the Sith and read it. I bet you’ll be surprised.

The Good

+Massively approves upon the movie
+Provides background explanations for strange character actions and reactions
+Makes up for shoddy dialogue by exploring why characters sound juvenile
+Makes the film a tad bit more bearable

The Bad

-Dialogue from the movie still must be included

Best Droid Moment

I don’t know. Maybe when they weren’t delivering awful dialogue alongside everyone else. They’re forgiven, because they’re droids.

Grade: A- “The source material drags this down, but Matthew Stover does a phenomenal job working with what he’s got.”

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.

Reading through the [Alleged] Best 100 Science Fiction Books – #31-35

I’m a huge science fiction fan, but realized 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.

31. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick Grade: B-
“I still can’t figure out the ending, but it was an enjoyable book. Very little here to count as science fiction, and I’ve read some other great alternative history that imagines the same scenario. Dick’s strength is in the way he conveys a mix of humor and horror. Since reading the book, I’ve watched the first two seasons of the TV show, which is pretty fantastic and shows directions Dick could have gone to make the book even better. I liked the book, but wish it had been more.”

32. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov Grade: A
“Turns out Asimov is capable of writing characters. This science fiction/mystery mashup was magnificent. Asimov showed here the diversity of science fiction as a genre. It’s full of exiting ideas and memorable scenes, and twists that don’t feel manufactured. Though I eventually predicted some parts of the case, I found enough here to throw me off the scent. I enjoyed it immensely.”

33. Gateway by Frederick Pohl Grade: A
“I found this to be a supremely interesting story with a number of intriguing elements. The reports, classifieds, and the like found throughout fleshed out the world. The interplay of the pseudo-archaeology, pseudo-adventure story with a [robot] psychiatrist’s office was amusing, thought not always in a good way. It makes the book feel quite dated at points, with its clear dependence on what was then cutting-edge psychiatry making for some laughable scenes. Ultimately, though, the story is a heart-rending, get-you-in-the-feels tale that has me mourning it days later. Maybe I should read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.”

34. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny Grade: A+
“Astonishing. It’s part retelling of Hindu Scripture, part origin story of Buddhism from Hinduism, part interplay between psuedo-imparialist Christianity and other faiths, and all beautiful. I’ve never read Zelazny before but I eagerly look forward to reading more. This book was made of myth and legend in the best possible sense. It’s immersive, exciting, and exotic in a way few science fiction books are. Superb.”

35. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem Grade: B-
“The idea of an ocean that is possibly (?) sentient and beyond anything we can imagine is utterly fascinating. The descriptions of the study of that ocean planet are compelling. Unfortunately, Lem spent much more time with the human predicament and questioning humanity. I admit I wanted this to be a very different book than it turned out to be. It wasn’t bad, by any stretch, but it felt throughout like I never got to ‘see’ the parts of the story I wanted to. I was stuck on the space station rather than enjoying the scenery. What could have been amazing turned out to be barely above average.”

 

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 Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 2 “Tribunal” and “The Jem’Hadar”

What’s going on?

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:

“Tribunal”

Synopsis

Cardassians kidnap Chief O’Brien from Federation space, put him on a show trial with the outcome already determined, and determine he must be executed. Meanwhile, Odo and others from DS9 scramble to save O’Brien, ultimately digging up information that leads to his release.

Commentary

I was brief in the synopsis because this episode, while convoluted, is actually rather simple. Also, it is wildly implausible. Just think about this for a second. Imagine if some country today came into the territory of another country with a warship, used that warship to disable one of the ships of that other nation, kidnapped an officer from that ship, and then announced to the world they found that officer guilty of something that they were going to execute her for. I’m pretty sure that, at the very least, there would be some major outcry from the UN and probably war declared. I doubt no shots would be fired. Do you disagree? Fine. Layer on top of that scenario the fact that the two nations already had war(s?) in the past, currently have armed conflict by proxy along their border territories, and have a major dispute over a vastly important economic junction. Then you have the scenario we got in this episode.

Except, in this episode, the Federation doesn’t act like I’d expect them to. Are they mad? Sure. But they aren’t exactly sending massed fleets to the Cardassian-Federation border. There’s actually very little sense of a broader deepening of threats and conflict whatsoever. Sisko is mad as heck, but basically gets no support from Starfleet more broadly. It’s pretty unbelievable.

The court scenes with the Cardassians are kind of cool, and they help show the juxtaposition between how the Federation handles things vs. how Cardassians do. There’s no presumption of innocence at all. Boom, you’re guilty. We’ll show you why. That part of the episode helps build up the lore of the Cardassians and makes the episode more worth watching than it would have been otherwise.

Grade: C- “None of this makes any sense at all.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I thought it was a good story, aside from the glaring plot hole that the Cardassians essentially initiated war against the Federation.”

“The Jem’Hadar”

Synopsis

Sisko decides to take Jake on a camping trip through the wormhole, and his son invites Nog, who then has Quark come along to try to make a deal with Sisko regarding some profit-making venture on the station. During their trip, Sisko and Quark run into an alien woman and the three of them are taken captive by soldiers of the Dominion. These soldiers inform Sisko and people on DS9 that they are angry about alleged incursions from Starfleet and others into their quadrant through the wormhole and threaten escalation of conflict. As the USS Odyssey and Runabouts from DS9 go to Sisko’s rescue, the latter and Quark free the alien woman’s restraining collar to let her use her telekenetic powers to destroy their prison. They escape and are rescued, but the Odyssey is destroyed. Back on station, they discover the alien woman is actually a spy, and she leaves to return to the Dominion, implying that conflicts may broaden.

Commentary

I think this episode suffers mainly from what I (and I’m sure others) call “middle book syndrome” or “middle movie syndrome.” Namely, it feels almost entirely like a setup for things yet to come, with not as much payoff in the short term. We see Dominion forces for the first time. We get tantalizing glimpses of what may be yet to come. Overwhelming force is displayed by the Dominion, raising worrisome questions about whether Starfleet will be able to compete. But these and many other issues are raised, and nothing is really solved, apart from getting Sisko and group back to DS9. It all feels a bit anticlimactic.

That said, this was still a pretty solid episode. It is exciting, with lots of action shots. Unexpected plot twists hit a couple times. The destruction of the Odyssey is particularly surprising. Yes, it is mostly just an episode to set up later things, but it has its own good moments. In particular, the introductory scenes with Sisko and Quark interacting were great. And Quark on a camping trip? Epic.

Grade: B “An exciting setup episode. But it is a setup episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was just missing something.”

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 Wars Expanded Universe Read-Through “Labyrinth of Evil” by James Luceno

Broody Anakin is broody.

I 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 Labyrinth of Evil , the beginning of The Dark Lord Trilogy, which tells the story of the rise of Darth Vader. There will be SPOILERS in what follows. Please do not SPOIL later books in the comments.

Labyrinth of Evil

Labyrinth of Evil  came to me highly recommended as part of another trilogy which, like the Darth Bane trilogy, showed the dark side of the Force in an interesting way. I had been looking forward to reading it for a while and finally picked up the book from the library.

One thing I’ll immediately say in its favor is that it presents a broader picture of how Anakin Skywalker went from a hero to a Sith Lord. There are more gaps filled in about how his reasoning behind several decisions made sense at the time, as well as his growing frustration with his position within the Jedi. It makes Episode III seem more plausible in the fall of Vader. I also quite enjoyed the development of Count Dooku, who I believe could have been a much bigger deal in the movies than he was. Plus, he has the coolest lightsaber, so there’s that. Anyway, the book makes him seem more of an interesting character than a man who was just easily duped by the Emperor.

There are a number of problems with the book, however. For one, Obi-Wan Kenobi is portrayed as very whiny. Rather than guiding Anakin, it seems he’s always just complaining about things he does–many times without merit. Perhaps this is a stylistic way to show Anakin’s perspective on how Obi-Wan is obnoxious, but it struck me as pretty out of character. Of course, Kenobi is also portrayed in a similar fashion in the Clone Wars TV show, which is apparently canon, so maybe it’s just my feelings about what Kenobi should be played like that I’m going by. Still, it annoyed me. The dialogue is part of the problem, and that persists throughout the book for all the characters. Conversations seem stilted and forced. Another problem is that the galaxy is made, again, to be too small. When there are so many people and droids in the universe, how is it that the same 10 people keep making everything happen? It seems to stretch credulity and make Star Wars seem much smaller than it should.

Labyrinth of Evil  shows Anakin as a selfish, increasingly insular individual and makes the fall he experiences in Episode III feel more plausible than it does with just the film. However, it suffers from some of the same difficulties the entire prequel trilogy suffered from. It’s a decent read, but not a fantastic one.

The Good

+Provides background for the fall of Anakin Skywalker
+Some good development of Count Dooku

The Bad

-Obi-Wan Kenobi is incredibly obnoxious, which seems pretty out of character
-The dialogue is not great
-Many key points seem rushed
-Again makes the galaxy seem tiny

Best Droid Moment

When Anakin decides that he could have done whatever he wanted because he thinks of C-3PO and his construction of that protocol droid. Kind of a strange aside but it shows Anakin’s arrogance.

Grade: C+ “It sets the table to understand more of the fall of Anakin Skywalker, though it doesn’t do so in a particularly compelling or unexpected way.”

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: Deep Space Nine Season 2 “The Crossover” and “The Collaborator”

Bajorans have issues, yo.

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:

“The Crossover”

Synopsis

Kira and Bashir experience a strange glitch in the Wormhole and end up in an alternate reality with copies of everyone on Deep Space Nine. In this alternate reality, however, the Cardassians, Klingons, and Bajorans have formed a kind of alliance and conquered humanity. Sisko gets special treatment as a kind of rogue trader. Bashir is thrown to slavery, with Odo as the overlord. He manages to convince the O’Brien copy that there may be more to life than drudgery even as Garak threatens to kill Bashir if Kira doesn’t take her copy’s place. O’Brien and Bashir are captured in an attempt to escape but Bashir’s words about a world in which humans aren’t all slaves inspires Sisko to take up the fight. He aids Bashir and Kira in getting back to their own reality and copy Sisko and O’Brien stay to continue the fight.

Commentary

Now we’ve had two episodes in a row that don’t do anything to move the plot forward. I’d like to reflect on some perspective here. In “The Next Generation,” it barely mattered if an episode happened wherein nothing that happened impacted the broader world because that’s often the premise of the show. It’s just a spaceship flying around running into things and occasionally dealing with much wider-scale problems. But DS9 has set itself up, for better or worse, as a show built on strong continuing narratives. Because of this, it’s really frustrating to get episodes where there’s not any continuation of the broader narratives, and this episode suffers from those expectations.

Anyway, the episode is also problematic in that it has established characters acting completely abnormally. That goes along with the premise, but instead of creating an aura of weirdness, there is a sense of impossibility. Bajorans… working with Cardassians? And Klingons partnering with others for conquest? Sisko as a marauder? Yeah, these things are weird, but they also go against basically everything that has been established about these races and people groups.

All of that said, the episode was kind of fun in a campy, cheesy way. It’s silly, it’s impossible, and it takes itself all too seriously. But it somehow still manages to kind of have a sense of fun. Not a good episode, but not a terrible one, either.

Grade: C- “Another episode where actually nothing that happened mattered.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “I don’t know. It was just weird.”

“The Collaborator”

Synopsis

Bajor is gearing up to select a new Kai. Bareil seems like the logical choice, as he was hand-picked by Kai Opaka. However, when an exiled Bajoran informant returns, Vedek Winn, Bareil’s opponent and an able conspirator, grants him permission to return to Bajor. She begins to use the exile as evidence of a collaborator elsewhere on Bajor, namely, Bareil. Kira is given the chance to prove Bareil is innocent, and attempts to do so with the help of Odo, and a dash of Quark’s hacking skill, seems to implicate Bareil even more. However, when Kira confonts Bareil, he argues the collaboration was necessary to save Bajoran lives. Kira can’t accept this, but continues her investigation and discovers that Kai Opaka herself was the collaborator, not Bareil. Opaka sacrificed the life of her son to save 1200 other lives. Bareil sacrificed his career to preserve Opaka’s prestige. Vedek Winn is made Kai.

Commentary

Here’s an episode full of twists and turns. It’s clear almost from the outset that Bareil is hiding something, though I didn’t expect he’d be covering up for Opaka. That was a big reveal, and one that asked questions about what is important in life–and death. Did Opaka do the right thing? Should such a decision that she made be paraded out in front of all of Bajor for analysis? Was Bareil’s sacrifice valiant or foolish because it allowed Winn to become Kai?

None of those questions have easy answers, but they do promise for more intrigue on Bajor, which is an exciting prospect.

Another great aspect of this episode is it doesn’t try to hard. There’s no overly dramatic shots or scenes. The plot is dramatic enough, and it relies on its own drama rather than tricks of camera or overdone lines to draw viewers in.

Grade: A “It had enough twists that it was exciting all the way through, but not so many that it became unbelievable.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I always enjoy a good, sleuthy detective story.”

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.