Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 3: “House of Quark” and “Equilibrium”

“K’plah. Or something.”

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:

“House of Quark”

Synopsis

Quark tries to get a Klingon, Kozak, to pay his bill, but the latter objects, leading to a scuffle in which Kozak trips and is killed by his own blade. Quark milks the incident for all its worth, playing it up as though he’d engaged the Klingon in combat and defeated him. Another Klingon, D’Ghor shows up and gets the true story from Quark, but then insists Quark maintain the facade of combat to not dishonor his family. Then, Kozak’s widow, Grilka, comes on station and kidnaps Quark. Before he knows it, Quark has legally married Grilka, who made the move to prevent D’Ghor from seizing the property of her house.

Back on the station, Keiko has closed down the school due to lack of students and flounders looking for something to do. Ultimately, she goes on assignment to do some botanical work to engage her mind more.

Quark digs through the Klingon finances to see how D’Ghor has cheated Grilka and confronts him at the Klingon High Council, but the Klingons are unimpressed with his use of finances to try to settle a dispute about honor. Quark challenges D’Ghor to combat, then, to settle the dispute like a Klingon. When they meet in combat, Quark throws down his blade, calling the fight for the sham that it is. D’Ghor goes for the killing blow anyway, however, showing he has no honor. He is discommendated immediately by the High Council. Grilka thanks Quark and her house is restored to her. K’plah all around.

Commentary

My goodness was this episode fun or what? Okay, let’s get this out of the way: the episode completely ignores all kinds of gaping plot holes and inconsistencies with how we have learned Klingons operate. But these are child’s play for this fun episode. Yes, it seems obvious that the Klingons would be pretty ticked off that D’Ghor has dishonorably used his money to build up others’ debt, but you can sort of see them reacting the way they do, can’t you? Forget all these numbers, fight to the death! K’plah!

None of this has to make sense. Quark is going Klingon, baby, and he does it like a good Ferengi, looking to get whatever profit he can; and if he can’t he wants to at least escape with his life. He does it in a clever way, but that underscores Quark’s own brilliance. He’s a manipulator, and he’s taking a calculated risk. Yes, he knows he will die in combat; may as well try a different route, because otherwise he’s dead. It’s the exact kind of thing his character would do. I loved it.

Also, as a kind of afterthought, the episode explained why we won’t be seeing Keiko or lil O’Brien for a long time. I wonder if there was some issue with these cast members.

Anyway, fun, fun, fun episode.

Grade: A “Implausible? Goes against what we know about Klingons? Ignores major details and plot holes? Check, check, check. But is it a rip-roaring good time? Check.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was just a high quality Quark episode. Rules of acquisition for the win. That was sweet!”

“Equilibrium”

Synopsis

Dax starts to exhibit elements of a personality that she doesn’t remember. The DS9 gang takes her to her home planet for treatment, but not all is as it seems. There’s a cover up happening, and Dax is at the center of it. It turns out that a violent person had taken control of the Dax symbiont and that this meant the possibility of getting paired with a symbiont is much higher than anyone has been led to believe. Finding that out, though, would undermine the whole of society on the planet, and the episode ends ambiguously as Jadzia discovers the missing personality and accepts it into herself.

Commentary

I thought this was a weird episode, but not as weird as some that have come before. The biggest problem here is the big question mark surrounding Dax’s society. It seems clear that a society with a hidden self-contradiction is not going to last indefinitely. Will it come up again? I hope so, but it’s always hard to tell in Star Trek. Things are picked up and dropped like children with toys, never to be seen again. Oh well.

The episode’s premise is decent, but it is also kind of hard to believe. An entire personality completely blocked from both the Trill and the human host? I don’t know if I buy that, but I guess I’ll ease off on the suspension of disbelief for now. Or would that be increase my suspension of disbelief? Oh well.

A lot happens in this one, but it really is pretty bare bones. That’s what made it work. If there’d been much more to the main plot, or too much on the side, this episode wouldn’t have worked at all. As it stands, it does work, even if it feels a little unsatisfying.

Grade: B “A good development episode for Jadzia Dax, but too many unanswered questions remain.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I liked getting to learn more about Dax and the symbionts, but it just felt off somehow.”

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.

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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.

 

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.