Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 2 “The Crossover” and “The Collaborator”

Bajorans have issues, yo.

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 Crossover”

Synopsis

Kira and Bashir experience a strange glitch in the Wormhole and end up in an alternate reality with copies of everyone on Deep Space Nine. In this alternate reality, however, the Cardassians, Klingons, and Bajorans have formed a kind of alliance and conquered humanity. Sisko gets special treatment as a kind of rogue trader. Bashir is thrown to slavery, with Odo as the overlord. He manages to convince the O’Brien copy that there may be more to life than drudgery even as Garak threatens to kill Bashir if Kira doesn’t take her copy’s place. O’Brien and Bashir are captured in an attempt to escape but Bashir’s words about a world in which humans aren’t all slaves inspires Sisko to take up the fight. He aids Bashir and Kira in getting back to their own reality and copy Sisko and O’Brien stay to continue the fight.

Commentary

Now we’ve had two episodes in a row that don’t do anything to move the plot forward. I’d like to reflect on some perspective here. In “The Next Generation,” it barely mattered if an episode happened wherein nothing that happened impacted the broader world because that’s often the premise of the show. It’s just a spaceship flying around running into things and occasionally dealing with much wider-scale problems. But DS9 has set itself up, for better or worse, as a show built on strong continuing narratives. Because of this, it’s really frustrating to get episodes where there’s not any continuation of the broader narratives, and this episode suffers from those expectations.

Anyway, the episode is also problematic in that it has established characters acting completely abnormally. That goes along with the premise, but instead of creating an aura of weirdness, there is a sense of impossibility. Bajorans… working with Cardassians? And Klingons partnering with others for conquest? Sisko as a marauder? Yeah, these things are weird, but they also go against basically everything that has been established about these races and people groups.

All of that said, the episode was kind of fun in a campy, cheesy way. It’s silly, it’s impossible, and it takes itself all too seriously. But it somehow still manages to kind of have a sense of fun. Not a good episode, but not a terrible one, either.

Grade: C- “Another episode where actually nothing that happened mattered.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “I don’t know. It was just weird.”

“The Collaborator”

Synopsis

Bajor is gearing up to select a new Kai. Bareil seems like the logical choice, as he was hand-picked by Kai Opaka. However, when an exiled Bajoran informant returns, Vedek Winn, Bareil’s opponent and an able conspirator, grants him permission to return to Bajor. She begins to use the exile as evidence of a collaborator elsewhere on Bajor, namely, Bareil. Kira is given the chance to prove Bareil is innocent, and attempts to do so with the help of Odo, and a dash of Quark’s hacking skill, seems to implicate Bareil even more. However, when Kira confonts Bareil, he argues the collaboration was necessary to save Bajoran lives. Kira can’t accept this, but continues her investigation and discovers that Kai Opaka herself was the collaborator, not Bareil. Opaka sacrificed the life of her son to save 1200 other lives. Bareil sacrificed his career to preserve Opaka’s prestige. Vedek Winn is made Kai.

Commentary

Here’s an episode full of twists and turns. It’s clear almost from the outset that Bareil is hiding something, though I didn’t expect he’d be covering up for Opaka. That was a big reveal, and one that asked questions about what is important in life–and death. Did Opaka do the right thing? Should such a decision that she made be paraded out in front of all of Bajor for analysis? Was Bareil’s sacrifice valiant or foolish because it allowed Winn to become Kai?

None of those questions have easy answers, but they do promise for more intrigue on Bajor, which is an exciting prospect.

Another great aspect of this episode is it doesn’t try to hard. There’s no overly dramatic shots or scenes. The plot is dramatic enough, and it relies on its own drama rather than tricks of camera or overdone lines to draw viewers in.

Grade: A “It had enough twists that it was exciting all the way through, but not so many that it became unbelievable.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I always enjoy a good, sleuthy detective story.”

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 “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.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “The Homecoming” and “The Circle”

I really just want to be left alone. *EVERYONE COMES IN*

I really just want to be left alone. *EVERYONE COMES IN*

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 Homecoming”

Synopsis

Quark gives Major Kira an earring from a freighter captain, and Kira immediately recognizes it as belonging to Lia Nalas, a major player in the Bajoran resistance. She begs Sisko for the use of a runabout to seek him out, and ultimately is granted it. Chief O’Brien goes with and they manage to free Li and a few others from the illegal prison camp. Gul Dukat calls to apologize to the Bajorans, claiming they had no knowledge of the illegal camp. Meanwhile, Sisko converses with Li and discovers that the man has been harboring a secret: he isn’t the hero he is portrayed as. A simple incident caused him to be venerated, and he is uncomfortable in the spotlight that is placed upon him. Sisko responds by telling him that although he may not in actuality be the leader the Bajorans believe him to be, he can become that leader for them. Minister Jaro on Bajor, however, pulls a political maneuver that seems to leave Li exiled on DS9 rather than having him on the surface, recalling Major Kira and putting Li as the Bajoran liaison officer.

Commentary

Okay, I think it is fair to say that Kira should be in some major trouble here. But I guess Sisko caved into her request for no apparent reason, so it was fine. Speaking of which, how does Sisko constantly allow himself to get talked into other people’s harebrained schemes? One of the themes of DS9 so far seems to be that Sisko will basically allow or endorse anything, so long as someone feels passionate enough about it. I vaguely recall him being a bit of a hardliner from watching the series before, so maybe that changes at some point.

Anyway, the core of the plot here was decent. It had a good setup for more development, and I like seeing more political intrigue on Bajor. It’s always interesting to see how the areas around DS9 are developing and interacting, and this makes it fairly clear that Starfleet and Bajor aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye (as if that was a question before). The action in the episode was pretty solid too. I was enjoyable, but a bit unbelievable.

A fun tidbit from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion- apparently they filmed parts of the episode at a working rock quarry in Soledad Canyon, north of LA. This meant it was super hot and really not fun to work in with temperature shifts that were dramatic and dangerous. Apparently the actors hated it because it was truly hellacious, but they used the location more than once.

Grade: B+ “Kira should be all the court martialed.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It created a good set up for what was yet to come.”

“The Circle”

Synopsis

Sisko protests Kira’s replacement, but Minister Jaro points out it is a promotion for Kira. Meanwhile, a Bajor-first/Bajorans-only group called The Circle has taken to scrawling their graffiti over the station and Starfleet fears violence may spread to the station as well. Odo discovers that The Circle is getting weapons from the Kressari, and goes to investigate further. He discovers that the weapons ultimately come from the Cardassians, thus undercutting the whole purpose and core values of The Circle to begin with. It appears as though the Cardassians are trying to get rid of the Federation in order to come back to take over DS9. The Circle kidnaps Kira. Quark says he discovers The Circle’s headquarters, and Sisko and a team rescue Kira. Sisko asks Admiral Chekote from Starfleet what to do about the impending crisis and is ordered to evacuate.

Commentary

I left out a ton of plot here, to be honest, just to make the synopsis work. This is an episode that does not let up whatsoever. Boom. Boom. Boom. Major plot point after major plot point is thrown at the viewer, non-stop. It’s exciting, and it is mostly done well. The only real complaint here is that there is so much going on and it moves so quickly. But they put some of the rumblings of Bajoran politics into the end of Season One, so it doesn’t feel quite as rushed as it may have otherwise. Another big surprise is the order from Admiral Chekote to abandon DS9. You’d think that Stafleet, with its “Explore everything” mandate, would be loathe to lose the base, especially with evidence of the Cardassian involvement. On the other hand, the Prime Directive may have been part of the reason to evacuate. Whatever the case, a few hiccups don’t take much away from this otherwise great episode.

Grade: A- “Good development of many plot threads.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was my favorite part of the three-parter.”

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.

Star Trek : Deep Space 9 Season 1 “Battle Lines” and “The Storyteller”

"This seems bad."

“This seems bad.”

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:

“Battle Lines”

Synopsis

Kai Opaka, the religious leader of Bajor, visits DS9 but promptly departs with Sisko, Kira, and Dr. Bashir to see the wormhole. Something goes wrong and they end up stranded on a planet in which war is constant. Opaka appears to die in the landing, but later shows up, very much alive. Apparently there’s a virus on the planet that invades once someone dies and keeps bringing them back to life. Opaka stays behind on the planet to attempt to usher in an era of peace there, believing she has found her calling.

Commentary

First, the way the planet works reminds me of one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, Hyperion. I won’t spoil anything beyond that because the book is an absolute must-read.

Anyway, the episode is kind of weird and really shows how willing Starfleet is to bend over backwards for Bajor. I mean seriously, let’s just go on a field trip through the wormhole on a whim? Does anyone ever wonder how they fuel their starships and how wasteful such a trip might be? But oh well, they want to get along with Bajor and I’m willing to buy it. Plus, the episode is weird but deliciously so. It’s a kind of strangeness that made me want to keep watching and learn more. And, realistically, we only learn enough here to want more. Could the thread be picked up in a later episode? I don’t know, but I’m going to go ahead and guess it might be.

We also got to see a little more development for Major Kira, as we discover through her sorrow over Opaka’s death that her faith seems clearly devout. I’m interested to see more development in that direction, too.

Grade: B+ “It’s weird, but in a good way.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I liked the way it developed the character of Kai Opaka.”

“The Storyteller”

Synopsis

Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir go on a field trip to help an endangered village on Bajor while Sisko greets Varis Sul, the leader of a Bajoran faction that is threatening civil war on one part of the planet. As Sisko–along with his son, Jake, and Nog–manage the delegates, O’Brien and Bashir discover the threat facing the village is some kind of entity that feeds on fear. O’Brien is given the mantle of “Storyteller,” but the apprentice storyteller is not pleased. Nog manages to give some decent advice to Varis Sul, leading to her listening to Sisko on how to potentially compromise on the dispute. O’Brien manages to pass the mantle of storyteller onto the apprentice, and they discover the whole thing was probably manipulation by the previous storyteller to push the apprentice to his full potential.

Commentary

As I write the synopsis, I again realize how convoluted the plot is. This is an example of a problem that not-infrequently plagues Star Trek in every form: it’s one episode that is made up of more than one episode’s worth of plot ideas. Either of the main threads could have been stretched into an episode, but instead we get two rushed episodes in one.

The main problem with the Varis Sul storyline is that they treat her so much like a child while still trying to say that she’s so much more than a child. There are a few too many moments where people explain things in a rather condescending way to her, along with too many moments where she acts in ways that I realistically think someone in her position could not possibly not know to not do. Oh well.

The O’Brien/Bashir dynamic made this episode click for me. Snarky O’Brien was epic, and shows once again the greatness of the actor who plays him. Love that character. Seriously. It was so fun to see him get thrown into a situation that made him so uncomfortable, and it was played up well. O’Brien is turning out to be this series’ Worf. Good stuff.

I do like the Jake/Nog dynamic, but that is at least partially because as a kid I totally loved them. But hey, nostalgia’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?

Grade: B+ “It’s a stretch, but I loved snarky O’Brien so much.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was an interesting story, but the resolution felt a little contrived.”

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.