Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 2 “Tribunal” and “The Jem’Hadar”

What’s going on?

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:

“Tribunal”

Synopsis

Cardassians kidnap Chief O’Brien from Federation space, put him on a show trial with the outcome already determined, and determine he must be executed. Meanwhile, Odo and others from DS9 scramble to save O’Brien, ultimately digging up information that leads to his release.

Commentary

I was brief in the synopsis because this episode, while convoluted, is actually rather simple. Also, it is wildly implausible. Just think about this for a second. Imagine if some country today came into the territory of another country with a warship, used that warship to disable one of the ships of that other nation, kidnapped an officer from that ship, and then announced to the world they found that officer guilty of something that they were going to execute her for. I’m pretty sure that, at the very least, there would be some major outcry from the UN and probably war declared. I doubt no shots would be fired. Do you disagree? Fine. Layer on top of that scenario the fact that the two nations already had war(s?) in the past, currently have armed conflict by proxy along their border territories, and have a major dispute over a vastly important economic junction. Then you have the scenario we got in this episode.

Except, in this episode, the Federation doesn’t act like I’d expect them to. Are they mad? Sure. But they aren’t exactly sending massed fleets to the Cardassian-Federation border. There’s actually very little sense of a broader deepening of threats and conflict whatsoever. Sisko is mad as heck, but basically gets no support from Starfleet more broadly. It’s pretty unbelievable.

The court scenes with the Cardassians are kind of cool, and they help show the juxtaposition between how the Federation handles things vs. how Cardassians do. There’s no presumption of innocence at all. Boom, you’re guilty. We’ll show you why. That part of the episode helps build up the lore of the Cardassians and makes the episode more worth watching than it would have been otherwise.

Grade: C- “None of this makes any sense at all.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I thought it was a good story, aside from the glaring plot hole that the Cardassians essentially initiated war against the Federation.”

“The Jem’Hadar”

Synopsis

Sisko decides to take Jake on a camping trip through the wormhole, and his son invites Nog, who then has Quark come along to try to make a deal with Sisko regarding some profit-making venture on the station. During their trip, Sisko and Quark run into an alien woman and the three of them are taken captive by soldiers of the Dominion. These soldiers inform Sisko and people on DS9 that they are angry about alleged incursions from Starfleet and others into their quadrant through the wormhole and threaten escalation of conflict. As the USS Odyssey and Runabouts from DS9 go to Sisko’s rescue, the latter and Quark free the alien woman’s restraining collar to let her use her telekenetic powers to destroy their prison. They escape and are rescued, but the Odyssey is destroyed. Back on station, they discover the alien woman is actually a spy, and she leaves to return to the Dominion, implying that conflicts may broaden.

Commentary

I think this episode suffers mainly from what I (and I’m sure others) call “middle book syndrome” or “middle movie syndrome.” Namely, it feels almost entirely like a setup for things yet to come, with not as much payoff in the short term. We see Dominion forces for the first time. We get tantalizing glimpses of what may be yet to come. Overwhelming force is displayed by the Dominion, raising worrisome questions about whether Starfleet will be able to compete. But these and many other issues are raised, and nothing is really solved, apart from getting Sisko and group back to DS9. It all feels a bit anticlimactic.

That said, this was still a pretty solid episode. It is exciting, with lots of action shots. Unexpected plot twists hit a couple times. The destruction of the Odyssey is particularly surprising. Yes, it is mostly just an episode to set up later things, but it has its own good moments. In particular, the introductory scenes with Sisko and Quark interacting were great. And Quark on a camping trip? Epic.

Grade: B “An exciting setup episode. But it is a setup episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was just missing something.”

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!

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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!

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Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “The Maquis, Part II” and “The Wire”

Hope you’ve got that uniform insured, bud.

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 Maquis, Part II”

Synopsis

Hudson accuses Sisko with siding with the Cardassians over his longtime friend and all of humanity, but ultimately frees him and his officers. Admiral Nechayev remains fairly oblivious to the realities beyond her office (as she was in a few situations in TNG) and, when Sisko asks her for help, simply orders him to deal with the “nuisance” that is the Maquis. Quark reveals more about his selling of weapons and that he believes the Maquis will be making an attack on a Cardassian base soon. The Cardassians have clearly set Dukat up as a scapegoat for their illegal smuggling of weapons into the colonies. After rescuing Dukat, Sisko goes to intercept the Maquis attack. He leads a couple runabouts, who succeed in routing the Maquis, but, much to the rage of Dukat, allows Hudson to escape unharmed. Sisko believes the situation may continue to escalate, but couldn’t bring himself to kill his friend.

Commentary

The Maquis are here to stay. Though Sisko managed to thwart the immediate danger, it seems clear from this episode that the conflict may only escalate. That’s something that is kind of refreshing for a Star Trek episode, because so often everything is tied up neatly with a bow and handed off. Very rarely do conflicts continue, especially when those conflicts involve Starfleet. This episode shows that DS9, again, is going to be grittier than the previous iterations of Star Trek.

I particularly enjoyed the ending. For a moment, I thought Sisko might indeed destroy his friend’s ship, but it makes sense for him as a character not to have done so–after all, among other things, they share loss together. But Sisko lets Hudson go in the full knowledge that he is likely prolonging the conflict. That’s the kind of thing that challenges the standard Star Trek scenarios where the leader basically always does what is right, in the end. Here we don’t know if what Sisko did was the right choice, nor will we… though maybe later if the Maquis show up again we can get a bigger picture.

The main problem with this episode is that people frequently act in sort of strange ways. In the summary I already noted how the Admiral once again misjudges the situation. But there is more: like why do the Maquis just let Sisko go when he could be a valuable asset? Or why do the Cardassians move so swiftly to throw Dukat under the bus… only to, apparently, easily accept him back later? Some of these threads just don’t make sense.

I particularly enjoyed that they didn’t 100% close off all the plot threads here. It is clear the Maquis can continue to be a political plotline going forward. It was a well-done conclusion to the two-parter.

Grade: A- “A good conclusion that leaves open the possibility for future conflict.

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but it wasn’t outstanding in any way.”

“The Wire”

Synopsis

Garak is having headaches and Bashir wants to help him, but the Cardassian doesn’t want help. This is a really convoluted mess of lies and half-truths so it may be more prudent to just read the summary on Wikipedia.

Commentary

Garak is a lying sack of crap. That’s what I learned in this episode. I have always thought there is something weird about him, and maybe even nefarious (the latter coming out more in “Profit and Loss”), but didn’t really decide he’s a massive liarface until this one. It kind of took away some of my liking for the character. But maybe that’s a good thing, because it challenges ignorant acceptance of everything Garak says. We knew he was a loyal Cardassian in some way, possibly even a spy, but this episode reveals even more how strange his past is.

I was left after this episode with confusion on my brain. I just don’t really know what is true or what really happened with Garak’s past any more than I did at the beginning. I’m sure that was intentional, but it was also kind of annoying. It gives all the reveals throughout the episode a kind of “who cares” aftertaste, because we don’t know what was true or what was a lie. Overall, it makes the whole thing feel unsatisfying.

All my complaining aside, I did enjoy watching the episode, mostly because the actor who plays Garak dons the role so well.

Grade: C+ “What the what? I don’t really know what to think, but I did still enjoy it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I’m torn because, on the one hand, there was really great acting; on the other hand, actually nothing happened except Garak having a weird device.”

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!

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Star Trek: DS9 “Blood Oath” and “The Maquis Part 1”

Time to kick ass.

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

“Blood Oath”

Synopsis

A group of Klingons shows up on Deep Space 9, immediately causing problems with their carousing. After several arrests, Jadzia Dax hears their names and realizes they are sincere friends of Dax’s from the past. She reunites with them and discovers they have come to gather in order to fulfill a blood oath all of them took–including Dax–to avenge themselves against a pirate, “The Albino,” who killed the firstborn sons of the Klingons after they destroyed his base. They have finally found his location and plan to kill him. Jadzia insists on being included–one of the murdered Klingon children was Dax’s godson, after all, and Dax also swore the blood oath–but two of them oppose her inclusion. She finally convinces them to let her come with as part of the honor of Klingon oaths. Major Kira and Commander Sisko each try to convince her not to go, but she does. En route, she discovers that the whole thing is a set up–The Albino knows they are coming and has agreed to give them a “chance” to kill him under his own conditions. Jadzia rebels against the notion and instead devise a way to attack the weapons of The Albino. They attack in the manner she plans, and manage to confront The Albino in his lair. Jadzia herself disarms The Albino, and one of her companions kills him. Two of her best friends are lost in the battle, but she and Kor leave, the latter singing praises of the battle they just fought.

Commentary

BUM BUMBuMbuM buM BUM *Guitar Riff*

Sorry, this episode just really needs a heavy metal soundtrack going along even as I think about it. It was totally badass. In this episode, Jadzia Dax goes with a group of Klingons to take Klingon-style revenge: a Bat’leth to the gut. Yeah. Totally awesome. It also provides a significant amount of character development for Dax, as she struggles to decide whether it is morally acceptable for her to go on this quest for revenge, as well as balancing her former host lives against her own perspectives.

Now, accompany all of this with a group of rambunctious Klingons causing problems all over DS9 for Odo and Quark? Yeah. Not a ton to say about this one because the plot itself basically demonstrates how amazing it is.

Grade: A+ “They really needed to have a soundtrack filled with heavy metal… or Klingon opera, for this one. It’s an epic episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was just an epic Klingon feud of destiny.”

“The Maquis, Part I”

Synopsis

Tensions from the colonies–both Cardassian and Starfleet–that are along the border between the two nations (what is the right term for Starfleet anyway… conglomerate of utopic homeworlds? I don’t know) spill over to DS9 in a big way as a Cardassian freighter is destroyed. A Vulcan attempts to buy weapons from Quark to help in the same conflict. Apparently, they may be part of a group calling itself The Maquis that seeks to limit the Cardassian influence on their colonies through force. Gul Dukat stops by for a visit and, in a trip with a Runabout, shows him the conflict that continues to develop between their peoples. An old friend of Sisko, Calvin Hudson, has been sent to try to stymie the conflict. Chief O’Brien demonstrates that the device that destroyed the Cardassian freighter was of Federation origin, and Sisko moves to defend Dukat. He’s too late, and the Cardassian is captured. Sisko goes in pursuit, but is confronted by Hudson, who has apparently joined the Maquis himself.

Commentary

The Cardassians continue to be a much more interesting foe than even the Romulans were in TNG. Unlike so many of the aliens that are foes of the Federation in Star Trek, the Cardassians aren’t just one trick ponies. The Romulans, for example, you know are going to be lying and plotting. The Ferengi are greedy and that’s about it (but DS9 is also changing that perception), the Borg are rather generically horrible. Yes there are exceptions, but overall the aliens in earlier Star Trek had very little by way of dynamics. The Cardassians feel like a bigger challenge because they have, for better or worse, more humanity in them. “The Maquis” helps develop them even more, showing Gul Dukat as a manipulator, yes, but a manipulator who may not always have the worst possible intentions at heart.

The ending was kind of expected for me. I figured it would be Hudson. But, though predictable, it also shows the episode’s writers weren’t just pulling things out of a hat whenever possible. It is cohesive and a great setup for what is to come.

Grade: A- “The conflict between Starfleet and the Cardassians continues to be compelling, with both personal and broader conflict drawing viewers in.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but not particularly memorable.”

Links

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Rivals” and “The Alternate”

rivals

So much more could have been done in this episode!

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:

“Rivals”

Synopsis

Prince Humperdinck… er, Martus Mazor, an apparent con man looking to make a quick buck, gets some kind of gambling device from someone else in the brig. He decides to open up a new casino across the way from Quark’s. Meanwhile, O’Brien and Bashir continue a racquetball rivalry, playing each other multiple times. O’Brien is convinced that if he just had the speed he used to possess, he’d wipe the floor with Bashir. To try to gain some of the business back from Martus, Quark announces a rival racquetball throwdown between Bashir and O’Brien. As all of this has been going on, weird accidents and luck shifting have changed all over the station. The bets keep rolling in as Quark’s business regains prominence. Martus desperately gives his money to an apparently down-on-her-luck Bajoran in a business investment. Dax discovers that the strange luck events trace ti the device Martus acquired.

Commentary

I think I can readily say this is not a very good episode, but I enjoyed it way more than I should have because it had the guy who played Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride in it. And he’s hilariously over-the-top in this episode, just as he is in the movie. Yes, nothing makes sense in this episode at all. Some dying alien in the brig has a space magic lottery device that manages to impact luck on an entire space station? Sure, why the heck not? Start a new business based on these random lotto devices in which all they do is light up and make a happy noise if you win or turn the lights off and make a sad noise if you lose? Yeah, obviously everyone would be interested in that! Luck as something that can be impacted by some strange device that can be easily replicated and made bigger? Why not?

The whole episode is nonsensical. But wow the guy who plays Humperdinck is great. Oh and I thought the ‘swindle the swindler’ aspect towards the end was kinda cool.

Grade: C+ “I think that having Prince Humperdinck in this one made me like it more than I should have.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “The characters weren’t that great and nothing about the episode made sense.”

“The Alternate”

Synopsis

Dr. Mora Pol, a Bajoran who’d worked with Odo to help him adapt to society, shows up on Deep Space 9 and wants Odo to help him get a runabout to investigate the possibility of some DNA similar to Odo’s being found on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. They go, and it is clear that Odo’s time with Dr. Pol wasn’t as wonderful for the former as it was for the latter–he was treated largely as an experiment, not a person. They get some goo that seems to be Odo-like from the planet and investigate, but a gas knocks everyone but Odo out. Back on DS9, things start to go radically wrong as the life-form goo goes missing and attacks start to happen on the station. It turns out that Odo was impacted by the gas as well–it turned him into a space monster goo. Bashir and Mora manage to cure Odo by taking the gas out of his cells. High fives all around, and Odo seems to forgive Dr. Pol.

Commentary

DS9 has a lot more episodes that are just plain weird than TNG did. This is another one. Interestingly, like many of the weird episodes so far, this one still somehow works, if only in a broken way. It gives Odo more characterization–and shows that his earliest times learning to take on form must have been super rough. It also gave a nice narrative of forgiveness as Odo and Pol worked together to solve problems, with the latter learning that Odo had achieved so much and coming to realize that he was more than an experiment.

The main problem here is the horror-type story in which Odo magically turns into a towering angry beast. I know we’ve already thrown conservation of matter out the window for Odo, and that’s fine. But some gas manages to turn him into a crazy death-dealing creature? And during the time we’ve already been told he must rest in order to survive? I don’t know, but my plausibility radar was going off big time.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s not bad either. I enjoyed it, and that’s what is important.

Grade: B- “Weird, but a nice break from the ‘space magic’ explanations we’ve had for many episodes this season.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The space magic was a little strange but it had some good twists and turns.”

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.