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!

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 “The Siege” and “Invasive Procedures”

A perfect role for Quark to play.

A perfect role for Quark to play.

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 Siege”

Synopsis

Sisko refuses to evacuate all people from DS9 and instead only evacuates civilians and non-essentials even as the Bajorans say they’re coming to take over the station. Kira and Dax depart to try to find a way to communicate with the Chamber of Ministers regarding the Cardassians’ collusion with The Circle. Back on the station, Colonel Day and Over-General Krim arrive to take over, finding a series of traps and decoys set up by Sisko and the gang. On Bajor, Dax and Kira are recovered after bing shot down and they are helped by Bareil to get them to the Chamber of Ministers. She presents evidence of the Cardassian involvement with Jaro and The Circle. Vedek Winn, ever-shifting to whatever side is winning, joins with Kira to have Jaro arested. Krim decides to honor the Ministers’ wishes and return DS9 to the Federation, but Day fires at Sisko, who is only saved by Li’s intervention. The latter is killed, dying, at last, as a hero.

Commentary

Again, there is so much going on in this third (!) part of the “Circle” plot thread that it is hard to type it all up. There’s just a lot going on in this one. Unfortunately, most of it is fairly predictable, and the twists and turns that had happened in parts 1 and 2 are largely absent here. Part of the problem with a thread like this is that viewers already know that DS9 is going to return to Federation control–or at the very least that Sisko et al. will be on board it in some capacity. The tension just isn’t there. I think it would have been better to have The Circle taking over the Chamber of Ministers and having Sisko deal with whether or not he ought to intervene. That would have made it believable drama, because we don’t really know or fully understand Bajoran law and custom. The threat would have felt much more real, and characters like Winn and Jaro could have fully realized their potential.

Oh well. No need to debate could-have-beens. This is still a satisfying conclusion in many ways, and it leaves Winn free hand to show up and cause all kinds of problems at a later point. Moreover, killing off Li means we won’t have to deal with yet another off-station recurring character. The episode is good, but not quite as good as I think it could have been.

Grade: B+ “Somewhat predictable, but a satisfying conclusion to a three-part (and then some) plot line.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “They seemed to have too many plot strings to tie them all together neatly.”

“Invasive Procedures”

Synopsis

DS9 is temporarily evacuated apart fro ma skeleton crew due to some dangerous thing happening nearby (doesn’t matter what, to be honest). Quark helps a gang enter the station and they quickly take over. Turns out their motivation is that Verad, the apparent leader of the group wants to take the Dax symbiont out of Jadzia, which will kill her. Verad also applied for the symbiont program, but was turned down. He manages to coerce Dr. Bashir into helping him remove the Dax symbiont and putting it in Verad. Sisko makes Verad Dax feel quite guilty about the whole endeavor, and also drives a wedge between Verad and his apparent lover/cohort, Mareel. She lets Sisko go and he intercepts Verad, striking him down with the phaser despite the danger to Dax. They save Jadzia, barely, and Verad is left behind, lonely and confused.

Commentary

Look, another Star Trek trope pops up! Never leave your space station/starship with a skeleton crew. Something will always go wrong, and it will usually be someone trying to take over the station. Alas.

Anyway, this one had some interesting points in it, and Verad is a rather sympathetic antihero, though he’s a little too whiny throughout to fully pull the role off. A glaring hole here is that Quark doesn’t seem to receive any punishment for his helping the gang, other than having everyone mad at him for a little bit. It’s surprising, but I guess it’s what they had to do to ensure Quark would continue to be a real character and not just languishing in a prison cell for several seasons (though, let’s be honest, an episode in which he manages to get himself out on some loophole in Federation law would have been epic). On the other hand, Quark’s role in this episode was spot-on, from his double-timing DS9 without really knowing what was going on to his faking being in much more pain than he was in sickbay. His character continues to entertain, even when you’re rooting against him.

I enjoyed this episode, but it was a bit of a stretch to think how it all came off so nicely, with a bow on top. It’s just a little too simple. Good, not great.

Grade: B- “It’s not great, but it is exciting enough throughout to capture my interest.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “A cool bit of backstory into the symbiot, but it sort of seemed like yet another ‘how does Starfleet have such bad security?’ moment.”

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 “The Homecoming” and “The Circle”

I really just want to be left alone. *EVERYONE COMES IN*

I really just want to be left alone. *EVERYONE COMES IN*

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 Homecoming”

Synopsis

Quark gives Major Kira an earring from a freighter captain, and Kira immediately recognizes it as belonging to Lia Nalas, a major player in the Bajoran resistance. She begs Sisko for the use of a runabout to seek him out, and ultimately is granted it. Chief O’Brien goes with and they manage to free Li and a few others from the illegal prison camp. Gul Dukat calls to apologize to the Bajorans, claiming they had no knowledge of the illegal camp. Meanwhile, Sisko converses with Li and discovers that the man has been harboring a secret: he isn’t the hero he is portrayed as. A simple incident caused him to be venerated, and he is uncomfortable in the spotlight that is placed upon him. Sisko responds by telling him that although he may not in actuality be the leader the Bajorans believe him to be, he can become that leader for them. Minister Jaro on Bajor, however, pulls a political maneuver that seems to leave Li exiled on DS9 rather than having him on the surface, recalling Major Kira and putting Li as the Bajoran liaison officer.

Commentary

Okay, I think it is fair to say that Kira should be in some major trouble here. But I guess Sisko caved into her request for no apparent reason, so it was fine. Speaking of which, how does Sisko constantly allow himself to get talked into other people’s harebrained schemes? One of the themes of DS9 so far seems to be that Sisko will basically allow or endorse anything, so long as someone feels passionate enough about it. I vaguely recall him being a bit of a hardliner from watching the series before, so maybe that changes at some point.

Anyway, the core of the plot here was decent. It had a good setup for more development, and I like seeing more political intrigue on Bajor. It’s always interesting to see how the areas around DS9 are developing and interacting, and this makes it fairly clear that Starfleet and Bajor aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye (as if that was a question before). The action in the episode was pretty solid too. I was enjoyable, but a bit unbelievable.

A fun tidbit from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion- apparently they filmed parts of the episode at a working rock quarry in Soledad Canyon, north of LA. This meant it was super hot and really not fun to work in with temperature shifts that were dramatic and dangerous. Apparently the actors hated it because it was truly hellacious, but they used the location more than once.

Grade: B+ “Kira should be all the court martialed.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It created a good set up for what was yet to come.”

“The Circle”

Synopsis

Sisko protests Kira’s replacement, but Minister Jaro points out it is a promotion for Kira. Meanwhile, a Bajor-first/Bajorans-only group called The Circle has taken to scrawling their graffiti over the station and Starfleet fears violence may spread to the station as well. Odo discovers that The Circle is getting weapons from the Kressari, and goes to investigate further. He discovers that the weapons ultimately come from the Cardassians, thus undercutting the whole purpose and core values of The Circle to begin with. It appears as though the Cardassians are trying to get rid of the Federation in order to come back to take over DS9. The Circle kidnaps Kira. Quark says he discovers The Circle’s headquarters, and Sisko and a team rescue Kira. Sisko asks Admiral Chekote from Starfleet what to do about the impending crisis and is ordered to evacuate.

Commentary

I left out a ton of plot here, to be honest, just to make the synopsis work. This is an episode that does not let up whatsoever. Boom. Boom. Boom. Major plot point after major plot point is thrown at the viewer, non-stop. It’s exciting, and it is mostly done well. The only real complaint here is that there is so much going on and it moves so quickly. But they put some of the rumblings of Bajoran politics into the end of Season One, so it doesn’t feel quite as rushed as it may have otherwise. Another big surprise is the order from Admiral Chekote to abandon DS9. You’d think that Stafleet, with its “Explore everything” mandate, would be loathe to lose the base, especially with evidence of the Cardassian involvement. On the other hand, the Prime Directive may have been part of the reason to evacuate. Whatever the case, a few hiccups don’t take much away from this otherwise great episode.

Grade: A- “Good development of many plot threads.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was my favorite part of the three-parter.”

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: Deep Space Nine Season 1 “Duet” and “In the Hands of the Prophets”

Everything is awful.

Everything is awful.

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:

“Duet”

Synopsis

Major Kira investigates a Cardassian passenger who is suffering from a syndrome that was limited to the survivors of an accident at one specific Bajoran forced-labor camp. She believes he helped perpetuate major war crimes at that camp, but he denies it, asserting that he was merely a clerk. As she continues the investigation, with help from Odo, she discovers that he was, in fact, Gul Darhe’el, the leader of the Cardassian labor camp. Or at least he appears to be. But some parts of this don’t add up, even as Gul Darhe’el now proudly boasts of the tortures and slaughter he helped carry out at the camp. The Cardassian leaders say that Gul Darhe’el is dead, and they have a different person. But why would anyone claim to be a war criminal? As Kira presses him, he breaks down under questioning, revealing that he was in fact the file clerk Marritza, who had changed his appearance to that of Gul Darhe’el to try to gain some justice for the Bajorans slaughtered at the camp he worked at–whose deaths he feels an enormous amount of guilt over, despite his being unable to do anything about it. As Kira goes to release Marritza, another Bajoran murders him, saying that his being a Cardassian was reason enough to kill him. Kira realizes, at last, that it is not reason enough.

Commentary

I can’t really say enough about how excellent this episode is. It draws quite clearly from various accounts of Germans who lived through the holocaust, often with immense guilt at not doing more to prevent the atrocities. It also draws some aspects from the true story of the capture of Eichmann (something well worth reading about if you haven’t–I suggest this book). It offers commentary on morality and human nature (and alien nature… whatever). It has a bleak ending, and I love my bleak endings in Star Trek. It’s got immense drama, mystery, and sorrow. These all combine to make a simply fantastic piece of Star Trek viewing.

Another aspect of the episode that is interesting is how much it relies on the characters. It gives Kira a way to shine without just being some insubordinate crazy person all the time (remember that time she BURNED DOWN A GUY’S HOUSE after camping out with him for a bit? yeah, like that). I think it is interesting that so many of the best Star Trek episodes are really just people sitting around talking to each other (“The Measure of a Man” from TNG, for example). That says something about the writers, to be honest.

If you really wanted to poke holes here, you could, but I’m not even going to go through and list the nitpicks that are possible because the episode is just too fantastic. It makes you think as a viewer, not just about the episode, but about who you are, what humanity is, and about history. A truly excellent episode and definitely the best of DS9 so far.

Grade: A+ “Not just one of the best Star Trek episodes across all the series, but one of the great pieces of television, period.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Everything was great about it, except that by now Sisko should know better than to put Kira in charge of anything involving Cardassians.”

“In the Hands of the Prophet”

Synopsis

Keiko O’Brien is teaching her class about the wormhole when she is interrupted by Vedek Winn, a spiritual leader from Bajor. Winn complains that Keiko is not teaching orthodox Bajoran beliefs regarding the wormhole and bemoans any Bajorans being mislead by this teaching. As tensions surrounding what is taught in school about hte wormhole increase, Sisko visits Vedek Bareil, another spiritual leader of Bajor. Bareil is a front-runner to be the next kai, a major leader of the Bajoran people. He agrees with many of Sisko’s concerns, but refuses to put himself in the potential political quagmire that would follow condemnation of Winn. Back on the station, a bombing happens at the school, which finally prompts Bareil to come to DS9 to help ease tensions. Winn, however had set up an assassination attempt, and Neela, who’d been working with O’Brien, is stopped–barely–by Sisko. Major Kira realizes that Winn’s activity was largely an attempt to lure Bareil into the open, but she cannot prove anything regarding the conspiracy.

Commentary

I think the biggest problem with this episode is its rather condescending tone towards those who disagree with its central premise. Basically, if you don’t line up lockstep with reinterpreting your religion in whatever way Starfleet’s characters determine best, then you’re a fundamentalist idiot. But there’s no question asked about whether trying to force others to reinterpret the tenets of their faith is just or even acceptable. It’s just assumed that if you believe x, you should instead believe y, because we don’t like x. I found that a pretty severe problem, especially because Starfleet continues to be portrayed as this kind of benevolent, allow everyone to believe whatever they want, kind of society. Of course, there are plenty of religious people who do explicitly condemn or deny findings of science, and this can lead to bad things. However, there are others who do reinterpret such claims or findings, or simply accept them. The narrative of the science-religion conflict is front-and-center here, but that narrative is itself mistaken.

Okay, with that out of the way, it is worth looking at some of the things the episode got right. It did have a great build up to drama. The conspiracy Winn was involved in made sense looking back but was surprising when it was revealed. It built up more drama surrounding the Bajoran political system. So really, a lot of things were done well in this episode. But it was so danged pretentious I couldn’t get over it.

Grade: B- “It showed just how inconsistent Starfleet is with its alleged tolerance of all viewpoints, but had a fairly strong central plot to make up for it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It dealt with the issues it raised, but I’m not sure that the issues it raised were real issues. Also, I just have a hard time believing that Bajoran spirituality is as monolithic as it keeps getting presented.”

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: Deep Space Nine Season 1 “The Forsaken” and “Dramatis Personae”

Well this is weird, all around.

Well this is weird, all around.

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 Forsaken”

Synopsis

A delegation of ambassadors shows up on DS9, one of whom is the great Lwaxana Troi. Bashir is assigned to show the ambassadors around while Chief O’Brien struggles to teach the stations computer how to work. Troi starts to pursue a relationship with Odo. When an alien object shows up, suddenly the computer goes haywire. Troi and Odo are trapped together, and the other ambassadors are trapped due to an explosion with Dr. Bashir. Troi allows Odo to go liquid form in her dress to protect him, and Bashir manages–just–to save the other ambassadors. High fives all around.

Commentary

Lwaxana Troi drives me crazy, but she has become a progressively better character, despite her obnoxious qualities, as Star Trek goes on. Here again we see a new dimension of her character–a touching one–in which she reveals to Odo her own weaknesses regarding her looks to allow Odo to feel more comfortable with his own need to go liquid form (that’s what I’m calling it–deal with it).

Yeah, the side plot with the “puppy dog alien computer virus” was weird, but it served its purpose–to create drama for the other characters. Bashir’s delightful idiocy also got some expansion as he was smart when under pressure–something he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to demonstrate. He got all the perks of showing the ambassadors he could have dreamed of. Go Bashir!

So yeah, there are some big problems in this episode, not least of which is the weird virus that just wants some love, but those can largely be forgiven because Odo/Lwaxana worked so well together. It’s a true character piece that gives a lot more dimension to both of them.

Grade: A- “Like a puppy, it’s got some problems to work out, but it has a lot of heart.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It revealed depths of Lwaxana’s character that were previously hidden.”

“Dramatis Personae”

Synopsis

When an alien object is returned to the station, the crew starts to go crazy. It turns out that the alien object has managed to force most people on the station to start acting out roles in an ancient alien drama, recapitulating its warlike, betrayal-laden plot. Odo and Bashir manage to remove the alien influence from the crew, and everything is saved with only minimal losses.

Commentary

Okay, this is a really strange episode. It’s like some attempt to integrate Shakespeare into DS9 but in a way that isn’t as spectacularly epic (or fail) as many of the episodes with the same idea in TNG. It’s just weird. The impending paranoia that surrounds everyone in the crew made me as a viewer uneasy, but I never felt it was truly a threat to anyone, largely because they didn’t introduce any side character who might actually be in danger (yes, I know, it is hard not to meta-). But, that said, it was fun seeing all the characters being so out-of-character, and Sisko made a really, really cool clock that I would love to have. I don’t have much more to say about this one, to be honest. Strange.

Grade: B- “I want that clock.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was a cool story, but didn’t seem to make much sense as a Star Trek episode.”

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 1 “Progress” and “If Wishes Were Horses”

progressI’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:

“Progress”

Synopsis

Jake and Nog hear that Quark has a huge amount of yamok sauce, and Nog decides to get Jake to help him on an enterprising adventure to attempt to trade or sell the sauce for more and more different things in an effort to acquire profit. Meanwhile, Kira is sent off-station to help get a farmer, Mullibok, and his two mute friends off the land that is going to be used for an energy transfer. Nog and Jake manage to acquire land for one of their trades, and learn that the land is desired by the Bajoran government. They deal Quark into the mix, finally turning a profit. Kira finally must choose between her duty to Starfleet and Bajor and her empathy for Mullibok’s experience, ultimately choosing the former and going so far as to force him to leave by burning down his home.

Commentary

Yeah this was a weird episode. Kira deserved about a dozen court martials for her defiance of orders, but then turns around and goes way over the top. I remember commenting to my wife jokingly: “She’s totally gonna burn the place down to make him leave.” Apparently I was unintentionally prophetic there, as that’s exactly what Kira ended up doing. It wasn’t a bad storyline, it was just strange.

The other thread here was another Jake and Nog adventure, and I admit I have a decided soft spot for them, having grown up thinking we could be playmates on board DS9 (and reading the series of kids books that basically let you follow all their adventures). So I kind of liked this silliness that helped give more flavor to their relationship. Sure, it’s childish, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What are we left with, then? A strange mashup of two episodes, neither capable of standing on its own, that becomes, well, basically the sum of its parts. It’s two half-episodes. Not great, but not terrible.

Grade: C+ “It feels incomplete and mashed together, but I’m a sucker for Jake and Nog storylines, so this one isn’t the bottom dweller it otherwise could have been.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B for Kira storyline and A for Jake and Nog play the paperclip challenge storyline. 

“If Wishes Were Horses”

Synopsis

Across DS9 people’s imaginings start to become real. As the station is overrun with strangeness, Sisko and crew must work to try to solve the problem, ultimately revealing some kind of rupture in the plasma field that is threatening the base. As all their efforts fail, Sisko finally decides even the rupture must be imaginary, and he solves the problem by simply disbelieving it. Turns out all the imaginary friends were some kind of observers sent to see how humans (and others) in this part of the galaxy work.

Commentary

[An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to this episode as “If Wishes were Fishes.” Hey, steal a common phrase and expect people to get it wrong.]

I don’t really know how to feel about this one, which leaves me to decide that I feel largely ambivalent. It’s yet another strange episode in a chain of weirdness that is starting to make me think that DS9’s season 1, while better than TNG’s is quite “colorful,” and not always in a good way.

The reveal at the beginning when Rumpelstiltskin appears basically takes away whatever dramatic buildup was possible–imagine if the first thing that had happened was the Dax/Bashir encounter. We’d be weirded out and surprised, but it wouldn’t be obviously imaginary. Rumpelstiltskin just is not real; so having it be the first thing to show up immediately gave the game away. On the other hand, the playfulness of the episode is kind of its saving grace, such that at the end I don’t mind so much that a long-dead baseball player is telling me about his alien race. Yeah, that’s a sentence I just wrote.

The actors did a pretty decent job selling the whole thing, so I guess bonus points for that. It was weird, it was fun, and it was off-putting all at once. How do you even rate such an episode?

Anyway, can we mention baseball again here? The thought that baseball just dwindles away to nothing is a remarkably sad look at the future, especially for me as a Cubs fan just observing their first World Series win in more than 100 years. Let’s just pretend this pretend future really is pretend and pretend it won’t happen, k? K.

Grade: C “Another weird episode. Maybe DS9 season 1 just is a series of kind of strange, off-beat science fiction stories.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “That was a weird one. It just didn’t make sense.”

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 : Deep Space 9 Season 1 “Battle Lines” and “The Storyteller”

"This seems bad."

“This seems bad.”

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:

“Battle Lines”

Synopsis

Kai Opaka, the religious leader of Bajor, visits DS9 but promptly departs with Sisko, Kira, and Dr. Bashir to see the wormhole. Something goes wrong and they end up stranded on a planet in which war is constant. Opaka appears to die in the landing, but later shows up, very much alive. Apparently there’s a virus on the planet that invades once someone dies and keeps bringing them back to life. Opaka stays behind on the planet to attempt to usher in an era of peace there, believing she has found her calling.

Commentary

First, the way the planet works reminds me of one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, Hyperion. I won’t spoil anything beyond that because the book is an absolute must-read.

Anyway, the episode is kind of weird and really shows how willing Starfleet is to bend over backwards for Bajor. I mean seriously, let’s just go on a field trip through the wormhole on a whim? Does anyone ever wonder how they fuel their starships and how wasteful such a trip might be? But oh well, they want to get along with Bajor and I’m willing to buy it. Plus, the episode is weird but deliciously so. It’s a kind of strangeness that made me want to keep watching and learn more. And, realistically, we only learn enough here to want more. Could the thread be picked up in a later episode? I don’t know, but I’m going to go ahead and guess it might be.

We also got to see a little more development for Major Kira, as we discover through her sorrow over Opaka’s death that her faith seems clearly devout. I’m interested to see more development in that direction, too.

Grade: B+ “It’s weird, but in a good way.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I liked the way it developed the character of Kai Opaka.”

“The Storyteller”

Synopsis

Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir go on a field trip to help an endangered village on Bajor while Sisko greets Varis Sul, the leader of a Bajoran faction that is threatening civil war on one part of the planet. As Sisko–along with his son, Jake, and Nog–manage the delegates, O’Brien and Bashir discover the threat facing the village is some kind of entity that feeds on fear. O’Brien is given the mantle of “Storyteller,” but the apprentice storyteller is not pleased. Nog manages to give some decent advice to Varis Sul, leading to her listening to Sisko on how to potentially compromise on the dispute. O’Brien manages to pass the mantle of storyteller onto the apprentice, and they discover the whole thing was probably manipulation by the previous storyteller to push the apprentice to his full potential.

Commentary

As I write the synopsis, I again realize how convoluted the plot is. This is an example of a problem that not-infrequently plagues Star Trek in every form: it’s one episode that is made up of more than one episode’s worth of plot ideas. Either of the main threads could have been stretched into an episode, but instead we get two rushed episodes in one.

The main problem with the Varis Sul storyline is that they treat her so much like a child while still trying to say that she’s so much more than a child. There are a few too many moments where people explain things in a rather condescending way to her, along with too many moments where she acts in ways that I realistically think someone in her position could not possibly not know to not do. Oh well.

The O’Brien/Bashir dynamic made this episode click for me. Snarky O’Brien was epic, and shows once again the greatness of the actor who plays him. Love that character. Seriously. It was so fun to see him get thrown into a situation that made him so uncomfortable, and it was played up well. O’Brien is turning out to be this series’ Worf. Good stuff.

I do like the Jake/Nog dynamic, but that is at least partially because as a kid I totally loved them. But hey, nostalgia’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?

Grade: B+ “It’s a stretch, but I loved snarky O’Brien so much.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was an interesting story, but the resolution felt a little contrived.”

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.