Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “To the Death” and “The Quickening”

All the feels.

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:

“To the Death”

Synopsis

Renegade Jem’Hadar are trying to open up a gateway that will allow them to get to anywhere they like. Sisko must team up with Weyoun and a group of loyal Jem’Hadar to stop them. As they try to integrate the crews for the mission, it doesn’t go well. Worf, in particular, is targeted by the Jem’Hadar in tests of strength. When the disobedience comes to a front, the Jem’Hadar first kills the instigator, and demands Sisko do the same to Worf. When Sisko refuses, the Jem’Hadar threatens to kill Sisko. On the actual mission, Sisko ends up saving the First, showing him something of Starfleet’s own way of living. They manage to destroy the Gateway and the Jem’Hadar part with the Starfleet people after executing Weyoun for questioning their loyalty.

Commentary

“To the Death” is a complex, action-packed episode that shows just how intense DS9 episodes can get. The stakes are super high, and believable because we don’t know enough about the Jem’Hadar to doubt it. The integration of crews is a stretch but could be seen as Starfleet being Starfleet and not being aggressive about their enemies. I like the escalation of threat throughout the episode. We know there’s no way these two groups can be together without conflict, but the way it escalates is great. I especially like Worf being center of attention for the Jem’Hadar, because it plays to so many narratives happening around both Klingons and Jem’Hadar.

Having Weyoun get killed was really surprising, too. It’s a fascinating look at how the Jem’Hadar operate that they were so upset by his questioning of their loyalty that they would go to such an extreme rejoinder. Overall, this is a great episode with lots of adventure. It scores lower on the “believable” aspects, but that’s fine, it’s Star Trek.

Grade: A- “Intense and heavy-hitting, it’s a thrilling episode all the way through.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It wasn’t particularly memorable, but I liked it.”

“The Quickening”

Synopsis

Kira, Dax, and Bashir get to a plant where they discover the local populace has been punished by the Dominion by being inflicted with a disease that manifests as black lesions working across their bodies until one day it kills them. Bashir is desperate to help, especially when he discovers the local doctor basically just euthanizes people as they request it due to the pain of the disease. However, when it turns out his medical equipment is actually hastening the onset of the disease, Bashir loses the trust of the people. When all seems lost, he manages to demonstrate that his treatment, though ineffective on the disease itself, actually acts as a vaccine and can deliver the next generation from the illness. The episode closes with Bashir still finding cures ineffective, longing to cure the people and Sisko telling him that the next generation will be the hope for the people.

Commentary

Bashir… is… awesome. I already loved him, but this episode was one long Bashir love-fest of showing the range of his emotions, skills, and the depth of his concern for others. The plot is basic, yes, but it serves as a fantastic setup so that we can see what Bashir will do when confronted with what seems like an unbeatable scenario. And he does win! But only kind of. And he’s distraught, and it is bittersweet, and it is beautiful and I love it.

There’s a kind of horrifying hope built into the episode. You as a viewer just know that Bashir will succeed, such that when he doesn’t, it is especially crushing. And seeing him also crushed is poignant and raw. It’s true that Bashir did save the people, but what of everyone alive now? They just have to last… and give the next generation hope. Powerful.

Grade: A+ “Heart-rending but hopeful, ‘The Quickening’ is a fantastic episode not just of DS9 but of television generally.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was sad, but great.”

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.

Indie Highlight: “The Wings of War” by Bryce O’Connor and “The Ixan Prophecies” by Scott Bartlett

The “Indie Highlight” is a series of posts in which I shine the lights on Indie/Self-Published books that I believe are worthy of your attention. I’ll be writing reviews and recommending them, along with providing links on where to get the books.

The Wings of War series by Bryce O’Connor

The Wings of War series box set was one that got me with great ads. The artwork featured on the covers were fantastic, and we can’t help but judge books by their covers, so I was interested. I was sold when I saw the first four books lumped together for $.99 with more than 500 reviews averaging over 4 stars.

But all of that doesn’t matter if the content isn’t good. Bryce O’Connor has created a fascinating character in Raz i’Syul, a dragon person (the name for his species escapes me) whose life is compelling and tragic. Some aspects of prophecy get woven throughout the fantasy setting of the four books in this series. There are many fantasy tropes packed in here, but none of them feel particularly overdone or boring. O’Connor grabbed me with his characters right from the start and that’s the major selling point of this series. The world-building for the series is compact, generally focused directly around the actions of Raz and his companions. It will be interesting to see if the sequel (the promised 5th book is coming soon!) opens the world up more for exploration or maintains the narrow focus.

The series is sold, in part, as ‘dark fantasy’ and there are certainly some pretty dark parts in the books, though it is rare that the darker/violent moments felt like window dressing as opposed to intrinsic to the plot. There are times where it does dip into the unbelievable with some aspects of how the violence plays out, but it never drove me off the more powerful urge to read just one more chapter. The series is definitely a page-turner that had me looking forward to reading more while I was doing other things throughout the day.

The whole series weighs in at around 1700 pages so far, with at least one more book on the way. It’s a series worth checking out, especially if you like narrowly focused action-filled fantasy. Get the first four books for $0.99!

The Ixan Prophecies Trilogy by Scott Bartlett

The Ixan Prophecies Trilogy begins with Supercarrier, a book I got through Prime Reading and decided to give a chance because I like big spaceships shooting at each other. I didn’t anticipate a truly fascinating piece of world-building accompanied by shades of religion, prophecy, questions of the dangers of unfettered capitalism, and more.

The crew of a supercarrier that some believe is obsolete get thrust into a major conflict that may endanger the whole human race. Does that sound familiar? Maybe a little bit like Battlestar Galactica? I thought that too, but I didn’t anticipate the way that Bartlett would throw much bigger questions as well as a group of fascinating alien species at me to accompany what initially felt like a tried-and-true plot formula. The series continued to evolve throughout the second book, Juggernaut, and came to a satisfying conclusion with the third book, Reckoning. The possibility for more works was left open, and I was pleased to see Bartlett has put out more books.

At times, the actions of the crew were a little bit strange to me, particularly on a vessel that is run with military efficiency. The amount of questioning orders and second-guessing command decisions was a bit more than I tend to think necessary in fiction (admittedly, I have absolutely no idea how things go in the real military other than secondhand reports, so maybe I’m in the wrong here). The battle sequences are a delight. The aliens are interesting, often in ways that were unexpected. I love running into ideas for aliens that feel genuinely original, and Bartlett offered more than one in this series.

The Ixan Prophecies trilogy is definitely worth your time if you are into military sci-fi or like science fiction with interesting aliens. My complaints are minor enough to recommend the series for your reading. Additionally, Bartlett is super engaged through social media and his fantastic newsletter. I love when authors engage with readers, and Bartlett definitely meets that desire. Check out the first book, Supercarrier, for a low price (varying).

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.

Reading the Horus Heresy, Book 6: “Descent of Angels” by Michael Scanlon

I know I’m late to the party, but I finally decided to start reading the “Horus Heresy,” a huge series of novels set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 (though it is set much earlier than the year 40,000). I thought it would be awesome to blog the series as I go. With more than 50 novels and many, many short stories, there will be a lot of posts in this series (I doubt I’ll get to all the short stories). I’m reading the series in publication order unless otherwise noted. There will be SPOILERS from the books discussed as well as previous books in the series. Please DO NOT SPOIL later books in the series.

Descent of Angels by Michael Scanlon

I went into reading Descent of Angels not quite knowing what to expect. In one group I’m in, opinions ranged from saying it was among the worst books in the whole WH40K universe to having it as the favorite book in the Horus Heresy series. Reviews on Goodreads put it just over 3/5, reflecting a generally mixed opinion as well. My own opinion is that the book could have easily been a short story instead of a novel.

In Descent of Angels, we meet Zahariel, a man from Caliban, a planet that is kind of Middle Ages in technology and thought. The book is set decades before the Horus Heresy begins and also introduces the Primarch of the Dark Angels legion. The first half has some background story for Caliban, developing the world somewhat as well as the traditions in which Zahariel is raised. The second half integrates Caliban into the Imperium and sees Zahariel going off to join the Dark Angels and fight for the Emperor.

The problems with the novel mostly fall around the way it is written. It just doesn’t have the same feel as other Warhammer 40K or Horus Heresy novels, in my opinion. There’s action, yes, but it all feels kind of strange and almost alien to the main plot, which is basically a coming-of-age story that unites sci-fi/fantasy worlds together. The whole thing reads more like a Star Wars novel than a Warhammer one, and that threw me off for basically the entirety of the novel. Moreover, there are numerous sections of info-dumps where the reader sifts through tens of pages of information before getting to any additional action or character development. Truly, this could have been presented as a short story telling us about Caliban’s integration into the Imperium, and it would have been much improved.

Descent of Angels is a disappointing work in the series. I’ll be interested to see if it truly becomes important later in the series. For now, I would have to say I’m not planning to re-read it. What did you think of the novel?

Links

Reading the Horus Heresy– Read along with me in the Horus Heresy and see all my reviews of the books.

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.