Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “The Maquis, Part II” and “The Wire”

Hope you’ve got that uniform insured, bud.

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 Maquis, Part II”

Synopsis

Hudson accuses Sisko with siding with the Cardassians over his longtime friend and all of humanity, but ultimately frees him and his officers. Admiral Nechayev remains fairly oblivious to the realities beyond her office (as she was in a few situations in TNG) and, when Sisko asks her for help, simply orders him to deal with the “nuisance” that is the Maquis. Quark reveals more about his selling of weapons and that he believes the Maquis will be making an attack on a Cardassian base soon. The Cardassians have clearly set Dukat up as a scapegoat for their illegal smuggling of weapons into the colonies. After rescuing Dukat, Sisko goes to intercept the Maquis attack. He leads a couple runabouts, who succeed in routing the Maquis, but, much to the rage of Dukat, allows Hudson to escape unharmed. Sisko believes the situation may continue to escalate, but couldn’t bring himself to kill his friend.

Commentary

The Maquis are here to stay. Though Sisko managed to thwart the immediate danger, it seems clear from this episode that the conflict may only escalate. That’s something that is kind of refreshing for a Star Trek episode, because so often everything is tied up neatly with a bow and handed off. Very rarely do conflicts continue, especially when those conflicts involve Starfleet. This episode shows that DS9, again, is going to be grittier than the previous iterations of Star Trek.

I particularly enjoyed the ending. For a moment, I thought Sisko might indeed destroy his friend’s ship, but it makes sense for him as a character not to have done so–after all, among other things, they share loss together. But Sisko lets Hudson go in the full knowledge that he is likely prolonging the conflict. That’s the kind of thing that challenges the standard Star Trek scenarios where the leader basically always does what is right, in the end. Here we don’t know if what Sisko did was the right choice, nor will we… though maybe later if the Maquis show up again we can get a bigger picture.

The main problem with this episode is that people frequently act in sort of strange ways. In the summary I already noted how the Admiral once again misjudges the situation. But there is more: like why do the Maquis just let Sisko go when he could be a valuable asset? Or why do the Cardassians move so swiftly to throw Dukat under the bus… only to, apparently, easily accept him back later? Some of these threads just don’t make sense.

I particularly enjoyed that they didn’t 100% close off all the plot threads here. It is clear the Maquis can continue to be a political plotline going forward. It was a well-done conclusion to the two-parter.

Grade: A- “A good conclusion that leaves open the possibility for future conflict.

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but it wasn’t outstanding in any way.”

“The Wire”

Synopsis

Garak is having headaches and Bashir wants to help him, but the Cardassian doesn’t want help. This is a really convoluted mess of lies and half-truths so it may be more prudent to just read the summary on Wikipedia.

Commentary

Garak is a lying sack of crap. That’s what I learned in this episode. I have always thought there is something weird about him, and maybe even nefarious (the latter coming out more in “Profit and Loss”), but didn’t really decide he’s a massive liarface until this one. It kind of took away some of my liking for the character. But maybe that’s a good thing, because it challenges ignorant acceptance of everything Garak says. We knew he was a loyal Cardassian in some way, possibly even a spy, but this episode reveals even more how strange his past is.

I was left after this episode with confusion on my brain. I just don’t really know what is true or what really happened with Garak’s past any more than I did at the beginning. I’m sure that was intentional, but it was also kind of annoying. It gives all the reveals throughout the episode a kind of “who cares” aftertaste, because we don’t know what was true or what was a lie. Overall, it makes the whole thing feel unsatisfying.

All my complaining aside, I did enjoy watching the episode, mostly because the actor who plays Garak dons the role so well.

Grade: C+ “What the what? I don’t really know what to think, but I did still enjoy it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I’m torn because, on the one hand, there was really great acting; on the other hand, actually nothing happened except Garak having a weird device.”

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 “Playing God” and “Profit and Loss”

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:

“Playing God”

Synopsis

Another Trill, Arjin, who wants to be a host shows up on DS9 to do field work under Jadzia Dax. Apparently previous Dax iterations were notorious for washing out candidates from the program, and Jadzia is determined to allow herself leeway to be herself rather than a previous iteration. So she takes Arjin around the station to the Klingon restaurant, on field work, and the like. She insists he doesn’t need to impress her. They accidentally snag a piece of protoplasm on a mission and it turns out that as the protoplasm stays on station, it starts to expand rapidly. It turns out the protoplasm is a “protouniverse” trying to form within the station [?] and they ultimately manage to take it back through the wormhole, only with the ace piloting of Arjin. It awakens Arjin to his own strength of personality and capacity to contribute to the symbiot program. Oh yeah, and O’Brien and Kira have to try to take out some Cardassian voles that are causing havoc all over the station.

Commentary

THE KLINGON RESTAURANT SHOWED UP AGAIN YES!!!!! It’s my favorite place on the station, and this scene was perfection. A massive Klingon serenading Jadzia with a love song she taught him? Amazing.

The vole scenes with Kira and O’Brien? Suitably hilarious and fun. The major plot with Jadzia as her own person and trying to explain to Arjin that he must have his own personality to be a capable symbiot host? Fantastic.

Here’s the hitch: what the hell was that ‘protouniverse’ plot? I mean I get it, new universes may be out there forming somewhere. But by definition, they wouldn’t be a part of our universe, because they’d be a different universe. Some have theorized that black holes may lead to other universes or something. I’m not a scientist so I have no idea how to evaluate such a theory, but if it is true, it still wouldn’t be some space goo you could pick up and walk around with. Sorry, but this is nonsense.  Realistically, I should knock this one down lower, but I just loved everything else about it so much I can’t bring myself to go down to the ‘B’ range.

Really, this episode is an easy A or A+ without the protouniverse garbage. It’s a fantastic character piece for Dax, it has the best set on the whole show (Klingon restaurant); it has a genuinely funny subplot. Who thought the protouniverse was a good idea? Stop it. Overall, a really great episode that is taken down a notch or two by nonsense.

Grade: A- “An excellent episode marred by a weird sideshow… or was it the main plot? I don’t know.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A/B+ “Everything was excellent, aside from the absurdity that was the expanding universe subplot. Dax development for the win.

“Profit and Loss”

Synopsis

A Cardassian Professor, Natima Lang, and her three students are picked up and brought to DS9 after their craft suffers–they say–from an accident. Odo confronts Quark about an illegal cloaking device he may have acquired as Bashir tries to discover more about Garak’s past. O’Brien discovers that the damage found on Natima’s ship was caused by Cardassian weapons, so Commander Sisko confronts her. Natima admits that they are on the run from Cardassia’s government and are afraid Garak spotted them and will turn them in. Indeed, a Cardassian ship quickly comes near DS9 and demands to have Natima and her students handed over, though Sisko refuses to give them up. Quark offers the cloaking device he acquired to Natima’s students in exchange for having her stay with him–he loves her and had a lengthy relationship with her in the past. They agree, but Natima instead stuns him with a phaser. She realizes she still has  feelings for him and helps restore him from being stunned. As Sisko tries to figure out a prisoner swap the Bajorans agreed to, Garak is visited by Gul Toran who wants to arrange Garak’s return from exile from Cardassia in exchange for his assassinating Natima and her students. Garak blocks Natima’s escape attempt and Quark–now once more with the trio–tries to convince Garak to let them go. Gul Toran shows up and attempts to kill the fugitives after telling Garak he will remain in exile forever. Garak kills Toran and allows Natima and her group to leave. Quark says goodbye to Natima and he and Garak return to the main parts of the station, each with another brick in the wall.

Commentary

I’m sure I missed some things that happened because this episode was jam-packed with action, intrigue, and more. But what it did best was develop both Quark and Garak as major characters capable of carrying an episode on their own. Quark, in particular, is shown to have more dimension even to his love life than may have been expected. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, the plan was to make a kind of science fiction Casablanca, but to differentiate it enough from the source material to escape legal issues, they introduced the relationship between aliens (Quark and Natima) to help drive the plot. Excellent work, I’d say!

The main thing to say about this episode is that it balanced everything remarkably well. None of the intrigue or twists seemed wholly impossible, though some were unlikely. It also helped introduce the idea that there might be different factions within the Cardassian government and people regarding how to govern. I loved this one.

Grade: A- “A convoluted, but overall excellent episode. I love when they develop individual characters more, and this really helped bring forward Quark’s personality.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I thought it was really good and it showed a side of Quark that we hadn’t seen before.”

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.