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.

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Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Paradise” and “Shadowplay”

Odo can also provide the vital function of spare toys as necessary.

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:

“Paradise”

Synopsis

Sisko and O’Brien get marooned on a planet as they try to figure out how to contact the lifeforms on its surface. They are discovered by other humans who have apparently come from Starfleet ten years ago and been stranded since then because of [space magic] blocking their electronic equipment. But, don’t worry! A kind of utopic society has been created on the planet by following the teachings of Alixus, who believes technology is the worst. Moreover, they punish people with THE BOX – a metal box that is super hot and potentially fatal to stay in. Sisko gets put in the box for stirring up trouble, but finally figures out that there is a machine that is making the [space magic] that prevents other electronics from working. He confronts Alixus with this and she admits she brought the colonists here on purpose. A timely arrival by Kira and Dax allows them to arrest Alixus and her son, but everyone else chooses to stay behind in their ‘paradise.’

Commentary

Elements of this episode were stolen from all kinds of inspiration, but I was willing to forgive that because it was pretty dang cool. The idea of a utopic society that has utterly brutal punishments that somehow lead to unity? Chilling, but weirdly plausible. And think about it for a moment: before Sisko and folks showed up, the whole thing was pretty much working. It’s just because Sisko and O’Brien are so opposed to what’s happening and confounded curious about the problem with power units that the society starts to collapse.  It’s a cool idea.

What made it even better was THE BOX and the idea that lurking behind this kind of “paradise” setting was some pretty awful, brutal punishment and horror. Moreover, this awfulness was accepted as not just okay but good by pretty much everybody, including the punished. Wow.

I think the biggest problem here, though, is the ending. Nobody is genuinely peeved that their entire way of living has been built completely on a lie? Or that they had to watch loved ones die because of some maniac’s idea of what the perfect society would be? Oh, or that a bunch of Starfleet-trained people wouldn’t have shown more curiosity about the problem that managed to prevent all their tech from working? (Oh I know THE BOX was punishment if you got too curious, but surely it took some time to establish that as an acceptable way to stop people from doing things detrimental to the society.) Or that the Starfleet people wouldn’t, I don’t know, realize that the population size they have is unsustainable? Yeah, sorry, not buying almost any of this. If everyone had gotten pissed and left, I would have liked this a lot more. Sure, show some of them wondering about whether some Luddite ideals wouldn’t be for the best, but staying? Heck no. Sorry, but this ending really didn’t sit right with me.

Grade: B “I found it to be an awesome premise with good execution, but the ending really lets this one down.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was a bit predictable and the resolution was unbelievable.”

“Shadowplay”

Synopsis

Dax and Odo investigate a particle field in the Gamma Quadrant, where they discover a large group of humanoids in a village where apparently more than twenty people have disappeared. After convincing Colyus, the local lawman, that they aren’t the baddies, Odo and Dax help try to track down the missing persons. Meanwhile, back on DS9, Sisko tries to get Jake to work with O’Brien to get trained up for Starfleet. He hates it though, and Sisko agrees Jake can do whatever the heck he wants when he grows up. Yay. Back in the village, Dax and Odo discover that everyone is, in fact, a hologram. People are disappearing because the projector is breaking down. They have to try to fix it or everyone will be gone. They shut it down, discover that one of the villagers is not, in fact, a hologram but rather a lonely guy who fled here to live a life in peace. He does love the people, but suggests leaving it off and going home. Odo and Dax convince him to stay and keep living his life with the “people” he loves. High fives and hugs all around.

Commentary

One problem is that the people of the village seem to have a rather amorphous knowledge of technology. Sheriff Colyus (okay, probably not a sheriff) was blown away by the transporter, but is later asked if he scanned to see if people were being transported away from the village as a way to kidnap them and acknowledges that was one of the first things he checked for. Uh, what? I thought the transporter had convinced him Dax and Odo weren’t nefarious people to begin with because they had space magic? Oh well. A few other things like this happen (eg. the tricorder replacements they have) which I suppose you could chalk up to them all being holograms and maybe, maybe that is supposed to be a hint early on of what’s happening, but I just don’t buy that explanation much.

Another problem is Odo’s argument about what makes someone a person or valuable or whatever. It was kind of similar to the arguments about Data back in the good ol’ TNG days, but it also was similar to Odo’s thoughts on himself. But come on, we’re talking about holograms here. Are we supposed to take seriously the notion that now holograms are people, too? I don’t know about that one. Guess you could never erase a program, then.

Still, those are small gripes for an otherwise excellent episode. I mean, yes, it is a huge stretch, but also, yes, it is touching and heartfelt. Seeing the Jake storyline was good, but totally predictable. Finding out the village was made up of holograms wasn’t a big surprise. But what was great about it was that it showed the way human emotions and love can be so strange and amazing all at the same time. I mean, the angry old grandpa guy did truly love the holograms. Weird? Definitely. Okay? Sure. I liked it. Plus, Odo and Dax get some great screentime here, and that is a good reason to watch, too. Oh, and that touching scene with Odo and the hologram girl at the end, where he finally shows her he is, in fact, a shapeshifter/changeling? Gold.

Grade: B+ “It has some continuity issues, and it is fairly easy to see coming, but it is still a good, heartfelt episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was also a bit predictable, but it was fun to see Odo take center stage.”

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.