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.