Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Armageddon Game” and “Whispers”

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:

“Armageddon Game”

Synopsis

O’Brien and Bashir are sent to aid T’Lani III in the destruction of a dangerous bioweapon that has helped to spur on endless warfare between two factions. After they manage to destroy the last of it, an attack apparently makes them disappear. To the crew of DS9, it looks as though they’ve died. However, Keiko O’Brien suggests that because Chief Miles O’Brien was drinking coffee later than he ever would, the recording has been doctored. Sisko and Dax go to T’Lani III to investigate. Meanwhile, O’Brien has been getting sick, apparently from a bioweapon, and Bashir continues to try to treat him as O’Brien helps Bashir repair a communicator. As Sisko and Dax investigate, they discover that the runabout O’Brien and Bashir used has been tampered with, opening the possibility that they are alive. The T’Lani find O’Brien and Bashir, and it turns out they’ve decided to kill them to erase any possibility of the bioweapon ever being constructed again. Sisko and Dax manage to grab the imperiled crew members and distract the T’Lani, escaping back to DS9 with their lives.

Commentary

I thought this was a great character-building episode. One thing this episode highlights about DS9 as over and against TNG is that it is clear the relationships between characters are more complex. Yes, TNG is my favorite and probably always will be, but here in DS9 we have a relationship between two major characters that is not 100% amiable at all times. The relationship between O’Brien and Bashir is not caustic and awful, but it has tensions and is more depth to it than a lot of relationships on Star Trek in general have. It feels more real because of it.

The plot is pretty intriguing too, though a bit of suspension of disbelief is required for thinking the T’Lani would basically just start a war with Starfleet to preserve their peace after they’d just been assisted by Starfleet to get that peace achieved in the first place.

Overall, this was a great episode, and it built the heck outta O’Brien and Bashir as characters.

Grade: A- “O’Brien and Bashir are the best combination.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Anytime Bashir and O’Brien face up, it’s gonna be great.”

“Whispers”

Synopsis

Something’s not right. O’Brien is in a runabout fleeing from Deep Space Nine, narrating the strange things that have happened. Basically everyone aboard DS9, including his wife, has become very strange, acting as though something is wrong with him when in reality all of them are going nuts. He narrates the lengthy series of events that leads to his escape from DS9. Ultimately, he ends up walking in on a meeting between Sisko and some others, only to see another one of himself across the way. He tries to fire on the imposters, but is instead killed by a bodyguard. As he lays dying, he tells the now-revealed-as-real O’Brien to tell Keiko he loves her.

Commentary

I kept getting shades of the classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (an excellent film, btw) throughout this episode, only to have the whole thing overthrown at the end. It was an unexpected twist that, while a bit tough to swallow, made sense as an ending and was satisfying. I enjoyed this one a great deal, especially because I enjoy a good mystery combined with my science fiction.

The abruptness of the ending is quite jarring, however. It’s clear from the beginning something isn’t right. And of course you simply go along with the expectation that O’Brien is the reliable narrator when in fact it is he who is compromised. But it felt like there weren’t really enough hints throughout to fully sell the ending, that the narrator was the imposter. That’s maybe the only real problem with this episode. I still enjoyed it a great deal.

Grade: B+ “The ending is a bit of a stretch, but this is a pretty mystifying–in a good way–episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I like the premise, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be better at keeping him locked up if they really thought they’d been infiltrated by a murderous spy group.”

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 1 “Duet” and “In the Hands of the Prophets”

Everything is awful.

Everything is awful.

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

“Duet”

Synopsis

Major Kira investigates a Cardassian passenger who is suffering from a syndrome that was limited to the survivors of an accident at one specific Bajoran forced-labor camp. She believes he helped perpetuate major war crimes at that camp, but he denies it, asserting that he was merely a clerk. As she continues the investigation, with help from Odo, she discovers that he was, in fact, Gul Darhe’el, the leader of the Cardassian labor camp. Or at least he appears to be. But some parts of this don’t add up, even as Gul Darhe’el now proudly boasts of the tortures and slaughter he helped carry out at the camp. The Cardassian leaders say that Gul Darhe’el is dead, and they have a different person. But why would anyone claim to be a war criminal? As Kira presses him, he breaks down under questioning, revealing that he was in fact the file clerk Marritza, who had changed his appearance to that of Gul Darhe’el to try to gain some justice for the Bajorans slaughtered at the camp he worked at–whose deaths he feels an enormous amount of guilt over, despite his being unable to do anything about it. As Kira goes to release Marritza, another Bajoran murders him, saying that his being a Cardassian was reason enough to kill him. Kira realizes, at last, that it is not reason enough.

Commentary

I can’t really say enough about how excellent this episode is. It draws quite clearly from various accounts of Germans who lived through the holocaust, often with immense guilt at not doing more to prevent the atrocities. It also draws some aspects from the true story of the capture of Eichmann (something well worth reading about if you haven’t–I suggest this book). It offers commentary on morality and human nature (and alien nature… whatever). It has a bleak ending, and I love my bleak endings in Star Trek. It’s got immense drama, mystery, and sorrow. These all combine to make a simply fantastic piece of Star Trek viewing.

Another aspect of the episode that is interesting is how much it relies on the characters. It gives Kira a way to shine without just being some insubordinate crazy person all the time (remember that time she BURNED DOWN A GUY’S HOUSE after camping out with him for a bit? yeah, like that). I think it is interesting that so many of the best Star Trek episodes are really just people sitting around talking to each other (“The Measure of a Man” from TNG, for example). That says something about the writers, to be honest.

If you really wanted to poke holes here, you could, but I’m not even going to go through and list the nitpicks that are possible because the episode is just too fantastic. It makes you think as a viewer, not just about the episode, but about who you are, what humanity is, and about history. A truly excellent episode and definitely the best of DS9 so far.

Grade: A+ “Not just one of the best Star Trek episodes across all the series, but one of the great pieces of television, period.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Everything was great about it, except that by now Sisko should know better than to put Kira in charge of anything involving Cardassians.”

“In the Hands of the Prophet”

Synopsis

Keiko O’Brien is teaching her class about the wormhole when she is interrupted by Vedek Winn, a spiritual leader from Bajor. Winn complains that Keiko is not teaching orthodox Bajoran beliefs regarding the wormhole and bemoans any Bajorans being mislead by this teaching. As tensions surrounding what is taught in school about hte wormhole increase, Sisko visits Vedek Bareil, another spiritual leader of Bajor. Bareil is a front-runner to be the next kai, a major leader of the Bajoran people. He agrees with many of Sisko’s concerns, but refuses to put himself in the potential political quagmire that would follow condemnation of Winn. Back on the station, a bombing happens at the school, which finally prompts Bareil to come to DS9 to help ease tensions. Winn, however had set up an assassination attempt, and Neela, who’d been working with O’Brien, is stopped–barely–by Sisko. Major Kira realizes that Winn’s activity was largely an attempt to lure Bareil into the open, but she cannot prove anything regarding the conspiracy.

Commentary

I think the biggest problem with this episode is its rather condescending tone towards those who disagree with its central premise. Basically, if you don’t line up lockstep with reinterpreting your religion in whatever way Starfleet’s characters determine best, then you’re a fundamentalist idiot. But there’s no question asked about whether trying to force others to reinterpret the tenets of their faith is just or even acceptable. It’s just assumed that if you believe x, you should instead believe y, because we don’t like x. I found that a pretty severe problem, especially because Starfleet continues to be portrayed as this kind of benevolent, allow everyone to believe whatever they want, kind of society. Of course, there are plenty of religious people who do explicitly condemn or deny findings of science, and this can lead to bad things. However, there are others who do reinterpret such claims or findings, or simply accept them. The narrative of the science-religion conflict is front-and-center here, but that narrative is itself mistaken.

Okay, with that out of the way, it is worth looking at some of the things the episode got right. It did have a great build up to drama. The conspiracy Winn was involved in made sense looking back but was surprising when it was revealed. It built up more drama surrounding the Bajoran political system. So really, a lot of things were done well in this episode. But it was so danged pretentious I couldn’t get over it.

Grade: B- “It showed just how inconsistent Starfleet is with its alleged tolerance of all viewpoints, but had a fairly strong central plot to make up for it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It dealt with the issues it raised, but I’m not sure that the issues it raised were real issues. Also, I just have a hard time believing that Bajoran spirituality is as monolithic as it keeps getting presented.”

Links

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

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

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

SDG.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9 Season 1 “Past Prologue” and “A Man Alone”

Look, I'm handing you this case on a platter. Can you please figure out what I'm talking about!?

Look, I’m handing you this case on a platter. Can you please figure out what I’m talking about!?

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:

“Past Prologue”

Synopsis

Tahna Los is rescued by DS9’s crew from a ship being pursued by Cardassians. The Cardassians demand his return because he is a terrorist, but Sisko grants him at least temporary asylum. Meanwhile, the Klingon Duras sisters show up on station and it is unclear why they are there. Dr. Bashir, however, forms a friendship with a Cardassian on the station, Elim Garak, who is ostensibly a tailor and clothier. Garak’s repeated and pointed directions lead Bashir to help uncover a possible plot that the Duras sisters are helping Los obtain materials for an explosive. Major Kira goes with Los, who ultimately wants to destroy the wormhole, thus keeping Bajor out of international meddling over the economic prosperity that wormhole would bring. Kira, saddened by his betrayal of trust, foils his plan, and he is given over to Starfleet authorities.

Commentary

This is another jam-packed episode, which does make sense given it being so early in the series. There are several threads here, I have to say I enjoyed pretty much all of them. Garak, the Cardassian tailor, is a fun addition to the station and I hope he keeps showing up. The way that he continually talks in a way that effectively punts to more meaning is exciting. Moreover, the cluelessness of the adventure-seeking Bashir was a delight to behold. I also enjoyed the continued look at political turmoil. It’s not like having the Cardassians pull of the region suddenly stabilized Bajor. I’m sure this is a theme throughout the show if I have any memory of it whatsoever, and I’m excited to see more.

The tie-ins to TNG continue as well, as those Klingon sisters show up on DS9, clearly up to no good. Can they really be Klingon if they have no honor? File that away to think about later.

I felt that this gave a good look into the fact that the Cardassian-Bajoran conflict has broader ramifications in the region. It helped to set the stage for future conflict. I look forward to learning more.

Grade: A- “An exciting set-up with great payoff that shows continued political turmoil in the region. It’s just a tad predictable, though.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The story was overall good, but there were a few things that just didn’t add up.”

“A Man Alone”

Synopsis

Ibudan, a former smuggler who killed a Cardassian officer, shows up on the station. Odo recognizes him and wants to arrest him, but Sisko says he cannot be arrested if he hasn’t committed a crime on the station. Odo relents, but Ibudan turns up dead, and Odo is the prime suspect. As they scramble to figure out who committed the murder, more and more evidences surfaces that implicates Odo. However, it turns out that Ibudan cloned himself and killed the clone, and Odo takes him into custody for murder. A side story follows Keiko O’Brien’s struggle to find a place to fit on the station, and she does when she founds a school.

Commentary

Jake and his Ferengi buddy, Nog! I remember reading the heck out of the children’s series for DS9 that almost entirely followed their adventures around the station, so I admit I have very fond memories of them. Hopefully the show keeps featuring interactions between the two that build their characters. I also enjoyed the subplot of Keiko O’Brien setting up a school on board the station.

The main of plot one gives a great mystery that kept me in the dark for the most part but didn’t just have some kind of deus ex machina moment that is all too common in science fiction mysteries. Yes, it was a clone, but there were enough hints along the way that you could figure it out if you paid attention. The mystery also serves to distract from the episode’s major, glaring error. Namely, there is little-to-no motive for setting Odo up to take the blame for a murder. Sure, getting rid of the changeling security chief may make it easier on this specific smuggler for one time, but Sisko already told Odo he couldn’t just arrest the guy for no reason. So going through all the trouble to frame Odo seems superfluous. Still, as long as you don’t think too hard about it, it’s a solid episode that is a lot of fun.

Grade: A- “It’s a good mystery episode that keeps you guessing for most of the duration.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a good way to show us more about the individual characters while still having an interesting plot.”

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: TNG Season 6 “Rascals” and “A Fistful of Datas”

A dream come true: Star Trek: The Ancient West.

A dream come true: Star Trek: The Ancient West.

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

“Rascals”

Plot

A strange transporter incident leads to Ensign Ro, Captain Picard, Guinan, and Keiko O’Brien to have their bodies turned into those of children. As the crew tries to adjust, a treacherous Ferengi trap leads to the Enterprise being taken over. The bite-sized crew members have to work with children to take the ship back over, and succeed in the nick of time.

Commentary

I found this an absolutely charming and delightful episode. Seeing how each individual struggled with their new body was hilarious, but also at times endearing or even sad (as in Keiko’s case). Picard, of course, had a lot of trouble simply because he doesn’t like children. My favorite part was watching young Picard throw a fit and hug Riker, his “dad.” It was hilarious and advanced the plot.

The Ferengi are always a bit hard to take seriously as a major threat, but they did a good job here of making them more threatening by taking over others’ ships and being craftier than usual. Too often, they’re portrayed as just being stupid or greedy (or both), but “Rascals” cashed in on them being more nefarious and cunning.

I remember hating this episode when I was a kid. After all, why would I want to watch what kids were doing when I could see the cool adults solving all the problems? But now, adult perspective has made me think this episode is just quite a bit of fun to watch.

Grade: A “Surprisingly fun, ‘Rascals’ was a treat to watch.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was delightful. Also, ‘A+’ to whoever got the same actor to play little Whoopi that played her in Sister Act.”

“A Fistful of Datas”

Plot

The Enterprise has a few days to wait for a rendezvous and as they do so, Geordi and Data attempt to make Data into a backup of the computer system. Meanwhile, Worf and Alexander are joined by Troi as they go to the holodeck to enjoy a Wild West (as they call it, “ancient West”) adventure. Data’s interfacing with the computer, however, leads to his neural network weirdly integrating with parts of the recreational systems on the ship, including the holodeck. As systems on the ship go haywire, Worf, Alexander, and Troi are put in terrible danger as Datas begin to take over the holodeck simulation. Ultimately, they manage to play out the story of the ancient West and Geordi/Data get Data’s brain out of the computer.

Commentary

Genre-blending can sometimes go terribly… TERRIBLY! Other times, it is awesome. Here, we have a mash-up of science fiction and wild west and it goes quite well indeed (of course, I would be remiss to mention Firefly around as another example done right).

First, the opening was hilarious. Picard just trying to relax while the whole crew comes to him with various requests… then Worf trying to get out of the time in the West with Alexander.

It was funny to see Data taking over various personages in the holodeck simulation–the amount of outfit changes he must have had to do for this episode! I laughed out loud a couple times as the transition continued. It feels like a generic shootout set-up (though with strong tones of the movie Tombstone, which is fantastic), but you don’t mind because having it mixed in with the science fiction elements just makes it all work together smoothly–or at least more smoothly than one might expect.

The episode comes full circle at the end when Worf tells Alexander the Ancient West needs its sheriff and deputy. It’s just so fun.

Grade: A “Who wouldn’t want to mix Wild West adventure with Star Trek?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It also was delightful!” 

Links

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

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

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

SDG.