Star Trek: DS9 “Destiny” and “Prophet Motive”

I have a particle accelerator shooting out of my brain. Your argument is invalid.

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:

“Destiny”

Synopsis

A pair (later a triad) of Cardassian scientists arrive on board DS9 to try to set up a way to communicate through the Wormhole. Meanwhile, Vedek Yarka, a somewhat controversial religious leader on Bajor, argues that the Bajoran scriptures prophesy this very event as a calamity that will deeply impact Bajor. Starfleet and the Cardassians press on, however, despite some superficial similarities between this prophecy and current events. When things start to go wrong and it appears the Wormhole is in danger, support for Yarka’s interpretation surges. However, one of the Cardassian scientists finally outs the third, who is revealed to be a member of the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence group. She was trying to sabotage their efforts. With that out of the way, the plan proceeds and, unexpectedly, some filament science magic happens and the communications are able to be established. Sisko, Kira, Yarka, and others see this as the prophecy being fulfilled in an unexpected way they could not have predicted.

Commentary

I thought this episode was a breath of fresh air. We’ve had Star Trek deal with religion plenty of times before. It hasn’t always done so well. In this one, genuinely interesting questions of interpretation of prophecy are brought forward. Who gets to arbitrate such interpretation? How much should we look at current events to try to figure out what prophecies mean? Can a prophecy really be true? These are just some of the questions briefly touched on in this episode.

What made it so refreshing is that the writers didn’t force answers for these questions. The episode dynamically changed the answers and perspectives for these questions. Most interestingly, at the end, many of the characters take what happened as meaning the prophecy came to its fulfillment.

Okay, a bit more on this one. The plot is fairly bare-bones overall–the meat is spent on the analogues to the prophecy–but it does the job of carrying the episode when it needs to. There is just enough question of whether the prophecy might come true or not that as a viewer you keep wondering which direction it will go. The ending is perfect, showing that we very often read our own perspective onto those things which we read.

Grade: A “I found this a surprisingly good look at how religious groups may interpret their scriptures differently, and how events that are happening here-and-now can change that. It was remarkably balanced in its look at this question, while still delivering a great plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a good combination of new characters and development of a long-standing story thread, plus it was fun to get to know some more Cardassians.”

“Prophet Motive”

Synopsis

The Grand Nagus of the Ferengi shows up once again on DS9, but he’s spreading a message that is utterly baffling to Quark and the other Ferengi. He seems to have re-written the Rules of Acquisition into some kind of rules for being kind to others! What gives? As Quark struggles with the reality that the Nagus might really be losing it, they discover that the Nagus tried to meet up with the mysterious aliens in the Wormhole to exploit them for knowledge of the future–and more monetary gain. The aliens, however, sent him back with a message of compassion. Quark must rush with the help of others to save the Ferengi and the Nagus from certain financial destruction. They do so! Monetary gains all around!

Commentary

Okay, this one was a bit silly, but so fun. I particularly loved the scene in which Quark has convinced himself the Nagus is making these changes as some kind of grand scheme that he can’t possibly comprehend, only to give in to the realization that the Nagus has truly gone off his rocker. It’s funny and delightful.

This kind of lighthearted, silly episode is something that I think DS9 pulls off much better than TNG. TNG takes itself very seriously throughout–often too seriously–so the silly episodes have to be quite excellent to succeed. DS9 just is quite serious–wars and rumors of wars abound, serious topics are constantly explored, etc. Because of this, the silly episodes like this one feel like a kind of breather to give some recovery after serious episodes. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and love every time the Grand Nagus shows up.

Grade: B “Radically implausible and silly, but insanely fun to watch nonetheless.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was fun. It was also very silly.”

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: Deep Space Nine Season 3 “Civil Defense” and “Meridian”

Oh…. you want me to turn this off?

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:

“Civil Defense”

Synopsis

O’Brien and Sisko accidentally set off an old Cardassian security system on DS9, triggering a series of events that leads to the station going to war against its inhabitants because it thinks they are Bajorans in revolt against the Cardassian overlords. Gul Dukat himself shows up in a twist, offering to disable the station defenses if they allow a permanent Cardassian presence back on the station. When he tries to leave to give them time to think on his offer, however, he himself is trapped on the station by a layer of security he didn’t know about. Dax manages to shut down part of the station security, and Sisko manages to reroute power to prevent the station from blowing to bits. High fives all around.

Commentary

I don’t know what to make of this one. If this kind of episode showed up on TNG, it would be yet another in the slew of “everything manages to go wrong, somehow, on the Enterprise” episodes. I mean, really, how do they even allow them to use holodecks with all the nonsense they cause there? Anyway, because this is DS9, everything going wrong has a built-in way to make sense: namely, the station used to be Cardassian. And because we all know the Cardassians are nefarious, devious, and probably don’t have much concern for safety standards, the idea of everything managing to go wrong and the station beginning to wage war on its inhabitants is much more believable than it was on TNG.

That is exactly what happens here, too. DS9 begins to wage war on those living within it. O’Brien manages to trigger a security system, and from there things snowball until the station goes into a timed auto-destruct unless the Cardassian overlords override it. Then, Dukat shows up. Having Dukat arrive was pure genius, even if it seemed a tad contrived. Sure, Dukat was just patrolling nearby and got the distress signal and decided to violate Federation/Bajoran space. Right. But having him do so makes for a ridiculously entertaining piece in which he goes from lording everything over the current inhabitants to himself being trapped on the station. That was gold.

Of course, they manage to get everything figured out just in time. But along the way, Sisko had to leave O’Brien for dead to save the station. That little scene managed to show a few things. First, that Sisko is hardcore. He made the right decision, even if that meant leaving a friend for dead. That kind of decision is one that you often don’t see Starfleet people making the right call on. Second, Jake managed to get a time to shine multiple times in this episode, giving him broader capacities than he had before. It was a good development for him.

Grade: A- “A disaster scenario that gives room for both humor and great character development.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I give this an ‘A’ solely because the part with Dukat when it activated the super, super, super defense was hilarious.”

“Meridian”

Synopsis

While out for a pleasure cruise or something, the Defiant discovers a planet that just pops into existence. It’s a pleasant enough place, so the crew goes down to the surface. Turns out the planet shifts between dimensions at a somewhat predictable interval in time, though the stability is now threatened. Dax finds one of the inhabitants particularly alluring and she quickly falls in love. Meanwhile the crew figures out a way to keep the planet from shifting out of existence, allowing the inhabitants to stay in the “real world” permanently. The implementation of this plan will not, however, take place before the next phase shift, meaning that Dax and her love will be separated. Initially, he decides to leave to come with her. Then, Dax realizes the world’s importance to him and decides to go with him. Unfortunately, her presence on the planet interferes with its dimensional shift and she must be beamed back to the Defiant before everything goes wrong. She is forced to leave her love for 60 years. He may as well be dead.

Commentary

Can we talk about the weird inconsistencies in this episode for a minute? First, why couldn’t they have babies? It specifically said that they turn up exactly as they were before the dimensional shift, so why wouldn’t they continue to be pregnant? Why would the 60-year interval in mindland prevent them from procreating when it doesn’t impact their physical bodies. Second, what the hell happened to Dax? She just happens to fall head-over-heels in love over the course of like 4 hours–to the point where she’s going to take the Symbiont into a probably dangerous situation for it? Uh, sorry…. no. She wouldn’t do that. And that guy was kinda creepy too, the way he asked innuendo-laden questions almost immediately. “Do those spots go all the way down?” *wink wink.*

Despite all that, I somehow didn’t hate the episode, and as I’m sitting back pondering how to score it, I find myself wondering why. I don’t know if it was some of the sets I enjoyed, or if I just thought that Dax having a love interest she was serious about–however implausible–was a good development. Nevertheless, the episode managed to grab my attention, however implausible I thought the whole thing was. I feel like I should dislike it much more than I do. But I don’t. Maybe that speaks well for something about it–maybe I was captured by the allure of the planet and its mysteries as well. I don’t know. But if this is a “bad” episode for DS9, we have a really awesome show here.

Grade: C+ “Implausible, ridiculous premise with Dax acting very contrary to her own established personality. Yet somehow not terrible.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “It just seemed so out of character for Dax. Also it was predictable as the end approached.”

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 3 “Second Skin” and “The Abandoned”

Well, this is awkward.

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:

“Second Skin”

Synopsis

Kira gets kidnapped by Cardassians. She wakes up with Cardassian skin and is told she’s been an undercover Cardassian agent for more than a decade. Her Cardassian “father,” Ghemor, is brought in and seems genuinely concerned for her and upset that she doesn’t remember him. As the days go on, she continues to believe that the Cardassians are trying to pump her for information, a feeling that is only confirmed as the Obsidian Order presses her for information from her alleged undercover operation. When her father finally comes up with a plan for sneaking her out, the true plan of the Obsidian Order is revealed. They were trying to trap the man who thought he was her father in a betrayal of Cardassia so they could arrest him and get information about more dissidents from him. Thankfully, Sisko and crew manage to save Kira and her Cardassian “father.”

Commentary

I thought this was a great character piece. It reminds me quite a bit of “Face of the Enemy,” the TNG episode in which Troi ends up as a Romulan. Here, though, Kira is not only placed in enemy hands, she also has very little control over the situation. Watching her deal with that, and try to figure out what exactly is going on, was rewarding.

What really elevated this episode, though, was the revelation that the Obsidian Order was using Kira, not to try to convince her to give up valuable information, but to nail her “father” on his political leanings. When Ghemor tries to help Kira escape, he is outed as a dissident and the Order is about to take him into custody when Sisko et al. rescue them. It’s a twist that I didn’t expect, because they’d sold the notion of it being Kira everyone was interested so well.

Grade: A “It was an excellent episode for both character development and overall plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I just thought it was really well done throughout. Good job. Also, double undercover agent Kira!”

“The Abandoned”

Synopsis

Quark buys a ship in a shady deal. What he didn’t know is that a baby is on board. As the station’s crew cares for the baby and speculates about his origins, he continues to grow at an alarming rate. It becomes clear the child is a Jem’Hadar. He sees Odo as his ruler, just like the other Jem’Hadar. Odo partners with the boy to try to teach him to control his violent impulses and overcome his genetic programming. All his efforts are in vain, however, and he ultimately satisfies himself with helping the Jem’Hadar return to his people, where he can live out the life of violence and other-hating he was designed for.

Commentary

Hey look, Star Trek can pull off a baby-to-adult transition without having to resort to the creepiness that was TNG’s “The Child.” I thought the best part of this episode was actually how it developed Odo. Odo was trying to go against the way his people had oppressed the Jem’Hadar and show that the latter were more than the product of their genetic modifications. Chalk that one up as a failure–for now, anyway. Who knows if the Jem’Hadar will have more to them later. But again, Odo’s own insistence on his not being somehow better than everybody else showed his coming to terms with his own place in the universe. He is an outsider, but one who still makes a difference wherever he is.

The problem with this episode is just how swiftly the Jem’Hadar developed. I guess they may have decided to go from baby-to-adult so quickly to try to show that developmentally, the Jem’Hadar change massively and perhaps the aggression manifests itself later, but I think the episode could have been more powerful if Odo had simply been interacting with an adult Jem’Hadar the whole time. That way, we’d have been able to get into more discussions of the Jem’Hadar philosophy, etc.

Still, this was a decent development piece for Odo, and whenever a main character gets some major character development, I am pleased.

Grade: B- “It’s like ‘The Child,’ but not creepy or terrible.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The sheer implausibility of the Jem’Hadar kid is hard to overcome, but it was a good look at Odo’s character.”

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 2 “Tribunal” and “The Jem’Hadar”

What’s going on?

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Tribunal”

Synopsis

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

“The Jem’Hadar”

Synopsis

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: DS9- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 “Blood Oath” and “The Maquis Part 1”

Time to kick ass.

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:

“Blood Oath”

Synopsis

A group of Klingons shows up on Deep Space 9, immediately causing problems with their carousing. After several arrests, Jadzia Dax hears their names and realizes they are sincere friends of Dax’s from the past. She reunites with them and discovers they have come to gather in order to fulfill a blood oath all of them took–including Dax–to avenge themselves against a pirate, “The Albino,” who killed the firstborn sons of the Klingons after they destroyed his base. They have finally found his location and plan to kill him. Jadzia insists on being included–one of the murdered Klingon children was Dax’s godson, after all, and Dax also swore the blood oath–but two of them oppose her inclusion. She finally convinces them to let her come with as part of the honor of Klingon oaths. Major Kira and Commander Sisko each try to convince her not to go, but she does. En route, she discovers that the whole thing is a set up–The Albino knows they are coming and has agreed to give them a “chance” to kill him under his own conditions. Jadzia rebels against the notion and instead devise a way to attack the weapons of The Albino. They attack in the manner she plans, and manage to confront The Albino in his lair. Jadzia herself disarms The Albino, and one of her companions kills him. Two of her best friends are lost in the battle, but she and Kor leave, the latter singing praises of the battle they just fought.

Commentary

BUM BUMBuMbuM buM BUM *Guitar Riff*

Sorry, this episode just really needs a heavy metal soundtrack going along even as I think about it. It was totally badass. In this episode, Jadzia Dax goes with a group of Klingons to take Klingon-style revenge: a Bat’leth to the gut. Yeah. Totally awesome. It also provides a significant amount of character development for Dax, as she struggles to decide whether it is morally acceptable for her to go on this quest for revenge, as well as balancing her former host lives against her own perspectives.

Now, accompany all of this with a group of rambunctious Klingons causing problems all over DS9 for Odo and Quark? Yeah. Not a ton to say about this one because the plot itself basically demonstrates how amazing it is.

Grade: A+ “They really needed to have a soundtrack filled with heavy metal… or Klingon opera, for this one. It’s an epic episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was just an epic Klingon feud of destiny.”

“The Maquis, Part I”

Synopsis

Tensions from the colonies–both Cardassian and Starfleet–that are along the border between the two nations (what is the right term for Starfleet anyway… conglomerate of utopic homeworlds? I don’t know) spill over to DS9 in a big way as a Cardassian freighter is destroyed. A Vulcan attempts to buy weapons from Quark to help in the same conflict. Apparently, they may be part of a group calling itself The Maquis that seeks to limit the Cardassian influence on their colonies through force. Gul Dukat stops by for a visit and, in a trip with a Runabout, shows him the conflict that continues to develop between their peoples. An old friend of Sisko, Calvin Hudson, has been sent to try to stymie the conflict. Chief O’Brien demonstrates that the device that destroyed the Cardassian freighter was of Federation origin, and Sisko moves to defend Dukat. He’s too late, and the Cardassian is captured. Sisko goes in pursuit, but is confronted by Hudson, who has apparently joined the Maquis himself.

Commentary

The Cardassians continue to be a much more interesting foe than even the Romulans were in TNG. Unlike so many of the aliens that are foes of the Federation in Star Trek, the Cardassians aren’t just one trick ponies. The Romulans, for example, you know are going to be lying and plotting. The Ferengi are greedy and that’s about it (but DS9 is also changing that perception), the Borg are rather generically horrible. Yes there are exceptions, but overall the aliens in earlier Star Trek had very little by way of dynamics. The Cardassians feel like a bigger challenge because they have, for better or worse, more humanity in them. “The Maquis” helps develop them even more, showing Gul Dukat as a manipulator, yes, but a manipulator who may not always have the worst possible intentions at heart.

The ending was kind of expected for me. I figured it would be Hudson. But, though predictable, it also shows the episode’s writers weren’t just pulling things out of a hat whenever possible. It is cohesive and a great setup for what is to come.

Grade: A- “The conflict between Starfleet and the Cardassians continues to be compelling, with both personal and broader conflict drawing viewers in.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but not particularly memorable.”

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 “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: 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.