Star Trek: DS9 Season 4 “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost”

I just came to gloat over your demise.

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:

“Homefront”

Synopsis

A terrorist attack on earth is revealed to have been the work of a Shapeshifter and Jake Sisko, Captain Sisko, and Odo go to Earth for both a family visit (Siskos) and to help increase security against Odo’s people. They also interact with Nog, who is at Starfleet Academy. Nog wants Sisko’s help to become part of Red Squad at the academy. Captain Sisko begins to give into the paranoia of the age, even starting to suspect his father of being a Changeling. He realizes that he has become quite paranoid, but ultimately helps usher in serious security increases, and the episode ends with Starfleet beaming security forces across Earth; the war has come home.

Commentary

It’s kind of hard to decide how I feel about this episode. It’s intense, but it seems as though it steps up the intensity too easily or with too few “real” consequences. I thought Captain Sisko was portrayed as far too paranoid for how he normally acts, though the episode conveyed the feeling of paranoia pretty well across the board. I enjoyed seeing Sisko at home on Earth, but it was overshadowed by strange paranoia of the Captain.

I do appreciate the sense of broadening conflict and how the Changelings would attempt to infiltrate major points of influence. However, I’m torn about both the ease and lack of broadening of this policy. If it is this easy to get a Changeling to Earth, why not send more than one and truly take things over? But if there are difficulties, why not wait until the maximum impact can be had rather than using it to attack a diplomatic process? It’s like there are conflicting notions of the capabilities, numbers, and limits of the Changelings.

Nevertheless, this was an interesting episode even if it did take place too swiftly.

Grade: B- “It’s intense, but it feels as though some of the changes happen to quickly or dramatically.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I enjoyed it, but found some of the plot implausible.”

“Paradise Lost”

Synopsis

Sisko and Nog uncover a plot to take over the Federation from within. Admiral Leyton has been planning a coup, but the higher authorities do not believe Sisko. Sisko now enlists Nog’s help in finding out more information behind the conspiracy and Red Squad’s involvement in it. The conspirators manage to set Sisko up to fail a blood test and get revealed as a Changeling. Admiral Leyton admits to Sisko he set him up. Sisko manages to escape, however, and the Defiant brings conclusive evidence against Leyton after a standoff with another Starfleet ship.

Commentary

Another episode where too much happens with not enough buildup. It feels a little bit like the season finale for TNG’s first season, where we find that the whole of Starfleet is taken over by weird bug things. Here, it’s a vast conspiracy that somehow snuck under the radar for far longer than seems believable. There are too many moving parts to bring them all to satisfying conclusions, as well.

Fake O’Brien showing up to mock Sisko was an interesting touch, though.

Reading the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, it is apparent the budget wasn’t what they wanted it to be for this episode, which may have helped flesh out some key scenes, or at least have made it more believable. Also, this episode along with the previous one was apparently intended to be the break between seasons 3 and 4, which would have both upped its budget and possibly the way they wrote it (could it have broader reaching implications?).

Overall, this two part episode didn’t satisfy as much as I think the frustrated writers/everyone involved wanted it to. It’s a case of being forced into a box when the episode could have broken out. But we have to judge what’s here, and that’s still a pretty competent and interesting episode. It’s just one that is frustratingly short of what I’d like it to be.

Grade: B- “Too much happening in too little time.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It seemed out of character for Starfleet, but I enjoyed it.”

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 3 “Shakaar” and “Facets”

Didn’t I have enough makeup already?

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:

“Shakaar”

Synopsis

Kai Winn calls on Major Kira to intercede on Bajor in a dispute between a group of farmers and the government. Essentially, the farmers have some equipment the Kai believes would be better put to use elsewhere, but the farmers point to a contract they have allowing them use of the equipment. It turns out some of the farmers are former resistance members who fought alongside Kira. Kira manages to convince Shakaar, the leader of the farmers–and of her former resistance cell–to speak with Winn directly, but instead of trying to speak with him, Winn simply sends soldiers to arrest the farmer. Shakaar and others resist the arrest, and Kira joins in. They flee to the mountains and an escalating conflict develops as Winn devotes more and more soldiers to the pursuit. The conflict ends when the soldiers and resistance fighters refuse to fire upon each other. The leader of the government soldiers takes Shakaar and Kira to Winn, and the two explain to Winn how Shakaar now plans to run for First Minister. Kai Winn, ever the amoral person that she is, steps aside to ensure her crazy actions bringing Bajor to the bring of Civil War are not exposed.

Commentary

Kai Winn… she really has it coming sometime. She’s a slithery snake; an eel! She manages to get out of every situation mostly intact, and often on the better end of things! In this one, it feels like she’s gone too far, but she still seems to get out of the consequences of her rather insane actions. Also, the actor who plays her is fantastic at making a really love-to-hate persona come to life.

Overall, this episode’s main plot is pretty astonishing. I mean, I don’t know what kind of media services Bajor has, but I’d imagine pretty much everyone would be outraged by the Kai sending the military after some group of farmers who were basically just insisting the government follow its own agreement. These are Bajorans, after all! Haven’t they had enough of governments ordering them around and going off the deep end in response to minor slights… like the Cardassians? Also, how believable is it that the thing escalated as quickly as it did? I’m fully willing to believe that Shakaar and his group could elude their pursuers on ground they knew better (though what kind of technology Bajor is using to track them is another question), but to go from “Yeah, we’d like this farm equipment back” to “KILL THEM!” seemed pretty abrupt.

What sets this apart, though, is what I just mentioned with Winn, and it applies to all the characters here. There’s some pretty good acting happening here and it helps sell the crazy plot. Somehow, I want to believe that a culture that just threw off the shackles of oppression would be totally willing to just do the same thing to their own people. Indeed, knowing humanity, it doesn’t seem that surprising that another people would do the same kind of crazy stuff, does it? But still, my suspension of disbelief did struggle here.

Grade: B- “It is pretty unbelievable, but the actors all do a great job pulling it off.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “Kai Winn should not expect any other outcome from sending Kira to put down a people’s rebellion.”

“Facets”

Synopsis

Dax wants people to take on the roles of previous Dax hosts so she can learn from them. Nog fails his exam, but only because Quark rigged it. Rom makes Quark admit to it, Nog retakes the test and passes. High fives.

Commentary

Yeah, that first sentence summarizes the main plot of the episode pretty well. We’re already familiar with many of the Dax hosts, but here we get to see them as various crew members. Somehow, we’re supposed to get past the idea of Odo somehow–without any neural network–getting the memories of a completely different species and changing his appearance perfectly for it. Oh yeah, and a Bajoran, and humans, and a Ferengi all manage to have the same thing happen to them. Sorry, not buying it. It also wasn’t all that interesting, because the transformations really just get used as ploys to make the main characters do weird things. I guess it was kinda cool to find out the reason Curzon Dax was so harsh on Jadzia was because he was in love with her, but that’s also creepy. The Nog side story is really the saving grace here, because it’s cute, simple, and resolved.

Grade: D+ “Weird. Too weird. But the Nog side story was good.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “It just felt like they couldn’t think of anything to do with an episode, so they just made all the actors be weird.”

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 “The Nagus” and “Vortex”

Well... he's not _that_ heavy!

Well… he’s not _that_ heavy!

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 Nagus”

Synopsis

Grand Nagus Zek, leader of the Ferengi business empire, visits Quark’s and asks to convene a meeting of the Ferengi higher ups. As the meeting goes on to discuss ways to exploit the Gamma Quadrant, Sisko fights with Jake over the influence Nog is having on him. Jake resolves to remain friends with Nog despite the difficulties their friendship faces, and Sisko, discovering that Jake is teaching Nog to read, realizes what a good influence they’re having on each other and relents. Meanwhile, Zek names Quark the future Grand Nagus, just before his own apparent death. As Quark takes on the role of leading the Ferengi, a plot to take the position of Grand Nagus is exposed, and Zek shows himself just as Quark is about to be killed by Quark’s brother, Rom and Krax, Zek’s son. He notes that Krax still has much to learn, but Quark commends Rom for his nefarious plot and makes a new role at the bar for his brother to fill.

Commentary

I think this is a great example of how to make an episode fun. There was character development for Quark even as he stuck to his role. There was a great deal of humor without ever taking away from the seriousness of the plot–difficult to do. Most importantly, it made the Ferengi much less of a joke than they have been so far in the Star Trek universe. This was a pretty fascinating episode, even if some aspects of it were hard sells.

Quark’s role came to the forefront and it is made clear here that his character alone is capable of carrying an episode. That’s an important thing for a show like DS9 to learn early and to succeed at- realizing that individual characters are perhaps just as important as the overarching narrative. Here, the show succeeded dramatically in a funny, breakthrough episode for one of the stars. Making it a clear reference to The Godfather in many ways–including the hilarious scene where Quark mimics Don Corleone from the movie–was an added touch that really sold the whole concept.

Grade: A- “A vastly entertaining episode that is maybe just a little too hard to buy.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was just so fun to see the Ferengi culture. It was also hilarious.”

“Vortex”

Synopsis

When Croden, a newly arrived alien on DS9, gets in a fight with two Maradorns and kills one of them in the ensuing firefight, he is taken into custody by Odo pending trial. However, when Sisko and Kira make first contact with Croden’s homeworld, they demand his immediate return and basically say to leave them alone. Sisko orders Odo to return Croden to his home, where he will certainly be executed. Meanwhile, Croden has been telling Odo he knows more about changelings, giving a name to Odo and hope of the existence of more like him that heretofore he knew nothing about. As Odo transports Croden back home, they are attacked by Ah-Kel, the surviving Maradorn. To escape, Croden takes the controls, ladning them inside the vortex that he hinted Odo might find more of his people. However, there are no more changelings, just Croden’s daughter who had been hidden away in stasis after his family was killed for his alleged crimes. Odo is hurt as they try to flee, but Croden gets him back to the runabout. They manage to destroy Ah-Kel’s ship in the vortex, and are hailed by a Vulcan vessel, to whom Odo gives Croden and his daughter as refugees he found in the vortex.

Commentary

Odo’s character got a ton of development here, and it is the first episode that shows how much potential his character has for the rest of the series. What are changelings? Are there more like Odo? How did he get separated from them? Will they be friendly? These are just a few of the questions that come up in this episode that it would have been difficult to even formulate earlier in the season, because there wasn’t enough that we knew about Odo to ask these questions.

To be fair, there are some real stretches here–how can Odo make himself into a glass that gets broken apart (presumably light enough to carry on a tray) and then have Croden complain about how heavy he is? Where does all that mass go? Answer: don’t ask questions! But I don’t mind those stretches as much when they’re fairly superfluous to the plot.

The plot is the star here, too. Odo is shown to be more than just a hardhearted mean policeman on the station. He has feelings about right and wrong, and a strong sense of justice that transcends laws even among species. Croden’s people are an intriguing aside, but according to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion by Terry J. Erdmann with Paula M. Block, they never show up again. Oh well. By the way, get that book if you want some really cool facts about the show as we go along.

With “Vortex,” we get hints of how interesting DS9 could shape up to be. Will it pay out dividends or just sink under expectations? We’ll have to keep watching!

Grade: A “Hey, Odo is a character!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was really impressive character development for Odo along with an interesting plot to keep things moving.”

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.