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.

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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- “Emissary”

"I don't even get a mention in the plot summary? What?" - Quark

“I don’t even get a mention in the plot summary? What?” – Quark

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:

“Emissary”

Synopsis

Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to command Deep Space Nine, a station that the Cardassians used in their occupation of the Bajoran system. He arrives with his son, Jake Sisko, to find the station in a state of disrepair, the Cardassins having emptied it out. As Chief O’Brien (from the Enterprise) tries to repair the station, the security commander, Odo, tries to keep the people in order. Major Kira Nerys was briefly the station commander, and seems displeased that Sisko might displace her.

Sisko eventually must meet with Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Enterprise, where tension stands between them as Picard was involved in the Borg attack (as a Borg, briefly) that killed Sisko’s wife. Sisko then meets with a religious leader on the surface of Bajor, Kai Opaka. She says that he is the prophesied one and that he is to help Bajor as a kind of messianic figure.

Sisko and Lieutenant Jadzia Dax go looking for another one of the mysterious orbs that the Bajorans have been gathering due to prophecies and discover a Wormhole. A Cardassian ship follows, and though Dax returns, neither Sisko nor the Cardassians do. As more Cardassian ships arrive near DS9, Major Nerys works to prevent them from taking back the station. Meanwhile, Sisko discovers he is communicating with beings that may have created the stable wormhole.

Ultimately, the Cardassians return, tractored by Sisko in a runabout, and the Enterprise returns to enforce the peace. Sisko informs Picard he’d like to stay on in command of DS9, which is likely to become a major trading center.

Commentary

Whew, that was a jam-packed episode. It’s tough to know exactly where to pick it up.

First, it is clear there is a ton of potential here. The characters each have clear ways to develop as well as potential flaws. Odo, as I recall from the times I’ve watched the series, gets some weird stuff happening to him. Sisko is conflicted about his past. Nerys has Bajoran interests at heart. Quark seems much more serious than Ferengi have so far. There is a lot here to build upon, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The notion of watching the station develop into a major trade center is a great idea.

Second, the episode itself does a good job introducing each major character, however briefly, while giving some interplay with the cast of TNG. Picard and Sisko talking was a good reminder of how Picard’s off-screen battle with the Federation as a Borg would have much farther reaching impact than it may have seemed when watching The Next Generation.

Third, the action seemed super intense here. I’m hoping this keeps up throughout the series.

The only real problem with this opener is that it drags quite a bit when Sisko is trying to explain how humans work. They did this backwards. See, we who are watching the show are humans, so we don’t need someone to explain to us what humans are or how time feels passing, etc. What we don’t understand is the aliens. It would have been better to flip the script and have the aliens explaining to humans what they’re like. But hey, budget probably didn’t permit it and it would be difficult to do. It was just a pretty boring part in the middle of an otherwise excellent episode.

Grade: A- “The parts with Sisko talking to the weird alien things dragged, but the rest was pretty fantastic.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The first half was better than the second half, which left me sort of confused. I liked all the characters.”

Mother-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was engaging, and it had developing elements that left it open for much potential. The idea of a space station gave it much potential, and the characters were interesting. I wish they would have done something more than paint on Dax’s neck to make her stand out as a kind of symbiot.”

Father-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: A- “A promising introduction to a new chapter in the Star Trek saga.”

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: TNG– 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: TNG Season 7 “Emergence” and “Preemptive Strike”

preemptive-strike

You can feel the emotions in this episode just bursting through the screen.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“Emergence”

Synopsis

Data and Picard discover something is seriously wrong with the holodeck. As they find this out, multiple nodes are appearing throughout the Enterprise. It seems like these nodes have similarities to Data’s positronic brain. Moreover, the crew can only interact with the ship through the holodeck program that it has been running, with hints throughout it on board a simulation of the Orient Express. It turns out that some kind of emergent AI intelligence has been created on board the ship. Once it is grown enough, it leaves, restoring the ship to normal.

Commentary

Other than the infamously horrid re-run episode “Shades of Gray” *shudders,* this may be the episode where the crew is least involved in the episode. Sure, they are there, but realistically the whole episode could have resolved itself without them. Indeed, they could just go into the shuttles or something, wait for the ship to get to the energy source it needs for the AI lifeform, and then return to a perfectly sound Enterprise.

Hey, speaking of life support failing–are there really no space suits or oxygen tanks or anything on board? You’re telling me with a ship that can create force fields, etc. they can’t sustain life support in one section long enough for the crew to get through the whole situation? Come on! There have got to be some kind of life support things–and if nothing else, the escape pods, presumably, would have a long enough life for life support to make it livable. Oh well. Ask no questions, hear no lies, I suppose.

All of that said, I didn’t really hate this episode. The mystery-solving was straightforward but still fun. The episode just wasn’t as good as I’ve come to expect. In season one this episode might have been among the top 10, but that’s saying how far the show has come.

Grade: C+ “Star Trek has had a few too many… somethings.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, it was just bizarre.”

“Preemptive Strike”

Synopsis

Ensign… er, Lieutenant Ro Laren returns to the Enterprise, only to immediately be assigned to infiltrate the Maquis, a group of people fighting back against Cardassian infringements in the demilitarized zone between Cardassian and Federation space. However, as Ro carries out her mission, she begins to realize how much resonance there is between the Maquis’ struggles and those of her own people, the Bajorans. When push comes to shove and she is assigned to betray the Maquis to get them captured by a Federation force, she instead gives away the plan to the Maquis and saves their strike squadron, ultimately leaving with them to join the Maquis. She leaves Riker with a message for Picard, who is seen looking stricken by her abandonment of Starfleet.

Commentary

Wow! This one blew me away. As readers know by this point, I love a bleak ending, and that, for Picard, was bleak. His protege, whom he has guided for so long, abandons Starfleet to join the very rebellion she was assigned to help take down. Yet, remarkably, this is exactly in character for Ro. Indeed, from about a third of the way in, I expected Ro to abandon Starfleet and join the Maquis. It made sense for her character.

I suppose that means the plot twist didn’t surprise me at all, but not for any bad reason. The characters have just been established so well that they operate inside certain parameters of behavior, and for both Ro and Picard this was right on.

Moreover, the number of interesting set pieces in this episode was huge. Each scene had a kind of poignancy embued into it by the scenery and set. The scene where the disguised Cardassians show up and start shooting (I spotted them earlier in the same scene and wondered if they may be trouble) was expertly set up to foreshadow the events to follow. I have to say this is one of the best TNG episodes. Certainly a great way to set up the ending of the series and lead into Deep Space 9.

Grade: A+ “Ro finds herself. And rebellion.” 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A+ “One of the best episodes of the series.”

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: TNG– 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.