“Invincible” – Getting hooked on a new superhero show (Episode 1 Chat)

PLEASE don’t SPOIL events later in this series! I’ve only seen the first episode and will try to watch the rest ASAP.

Anyway, I just watched the first episode of “Invincible” on Prime Video. I actually watched it twice because after seeing it I wanted to share it with other people and my wife and I watched it later the same day I saw it the first time! What an absolutely fantastic hook in that first episode!

I saw the ads on Amazon and thought oh well, just another superhero show. But then someone whose opinion I think pretty highly of retweeted something positive about the show and I thought I’d give it a try. One episode wouldn’t really be that big a time sink if I didn’t like it.

The show starts off and yeah, it seems like a somewhat generic superhero story. Some security guys standing around shooting the breeze outside the White House. Some heartfelt dialogue between the two (I mean, it actually really hooked me in right away with the story of the stepson coming back), and then bam! Time for action as some clone (?) brothers show up to wreck the White House. Then we have a bunch of heroes show up, and they work together like the Justice League. They’re definitely not the Justice League, right? They have similar outfits, traits, and abilities, but this is all part of the setup for you, the viewer.

There’s some other dude with them who seems way stronger and more powerful, and you quickly learn that he’s his own superhero Omni-Man and the others are the Guardians of the Globe. Again, still feels like standard superhero fare. Omni-Man is definitely not Superman, but he’s from some far off planet where everyone has superpowers and looks like humans. Anyway, he has a son and a wife who’s a “normal” human. The son is waiting for his powers to manifest. It seems like we’ve got a kind of coming-of-age superhero storyline tagged on, right?

That’s how the rest of the episode seems to run. And then there’s a massive, enormous twist.

Huge SPOILERS for episode 1 follow.

We see all the Guardians of the Globe having some great character pieces, enough to hook me even more onto them as characters, even if they really are… er, aren’t stand-ins for the Justice League. But then they all get summoned to headquarters and no one summoned them but Omni-Man shows up and literally tears them all to pieces in the bloodiest fashion possible. Wait, what!? He’s a good guy! He seems a somewhat distracted dad trying to figure things out! But what the heck? Why did he just murder all the good guys? It’s a stunning twist, and watching the show the second time I wonder what it has to do with him saying that he wasn’t ready for his son to get superpowers and how maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t. Maybe that has something to do with what he does to the Guardians? What’s the bigger story? I don’t know, but you better believe I’ll be diving back into the show to find out.

I’m dying to talk about it with other people. Tell me your thoughts on episode 1 here! I can’t wait to watch more. I almost want to just buy all the comics and go!

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 5: Episodes 1-4

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 5: Episodes 1-4

1: No Compromises

A new commander is on station, again. Sheridan and the new Captain Elizabeth Lochley have a brief discussion about the station and what leadership of it entails. Lochley notes as Sheridan leaves that he didn’t ask which side she was in in the recent conflict, and Sheridan just notes that she’s right. His priorities are clearly much more on healing and moving on as President of the Alliance than having anything to do with Babylon 5.

Not long after, Lochley is approached by someone naming himself Byron (a reference to Lord Byron?) who appears to have some mysterious power. Byron asks Lochley to meet him later. She does, but not on her own. She discovers that Byron is apparently a kind of rogue telepath who is seeking a place to call home for himself and many others of his kind. Meanwhile, a mysterious murder and threat against Sheridan occur as a guy who looks like the broker for the Shadows (kind of) walks around. Turns out he’s there to try to kill Sheridan before he manages to be sworn in as the President of the Alliance. 

After failing in his attempt to kill Sheridan the first time, the man manages to steal a fighter to come back around for a second attempt. G’Kar speaks eloquently on the rights of those in the Alliance and the many faiths represented by the Alliance as well even as the fighter pulls up behind Sheridan. Girabaldi saves the day in his own fighter. G’Kar summarily swears Sheridan in in a humorous moment that helps break the tension some in the meantime. 

The episode closes with Girabaldi coming back to speak with Lochley about the events while also introducing himself as the new head of covert intelligence for the Alliance. Lochley tells him she was on the “side of Earth” when it came to the near civil war. It’s an ominous start to a new era on Babylon 5. 

2: The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari

Delenn learns that Lennier has requested a permanent transfer back home. Londo Mollari is trying to bring some excellent liquor past security, but he falls down insensate once he drinks it. Please tell me we’re not losing both Londo and Marcus within just a few episodes! Lennier tells Delenn that he feels unneeded at this point–clearly a bit jealous of Delenn and Sheridan’s relationship. But he explains that he’s uncomfortable now. He does everything to suggest (but does not say) that he’s going off to join the Rangers in hopes of Delenn falling in love with him.

Mollari apparently had a heart attack. He wasn’t poisoned, but his survival is in great doubt. Delenn telepathically communicates with him (I think?) enough to set him off on a dream journey. Throughout this dream sequence, he is visited by other main characters. Vir tells him in his dream that his problem is himself–his heart can no longer bear the weight of his conscience. G’Kar then confronts him with his own guilt over teh destruction of the Narn, repeating time and again “You said nothing.” Suddenly we see Mollari placed on the whipping post that G’Kar himself endured, and it is G’Kar counting the lashes. In the “real world,” Dr. Franklin and others work desperately to save Mollari’s life. Mollari also cries out just as G’Kar did. Finally, Mollari firmly states that he does not want to die. The G’Kar figure continues to press Mollari for “just one word.” Finally, we see that Mollari’s problem is he cannot deal with the guilt and cannot bring himself to apologize for his actions. He breaks down, bitterly weeping as he yells “I’m sorry!” 

Mollari wakes, and the first person he sees is G’Kar. He says “I’m sorry” to G’Kar, and the Narn smiles, turns, and walks away. We close with Lennier leaving B5. For me, this central story of Mollari’s dream and coming to realize he must repent is extremely powerful. I was initially worried we’d be seeing some silly flashback montage like Star Trek: TNG’s “Shades of Grey” (my review of that debacle). But instead, we get flashbacks, yes, but with new material added and the struggle of Mollari to grow past himself. It’s a wonderful moment, even if it does drag towards the beginning. The payoff is great. 

3: The Paragon of Animals

Sheridan and others attempt to get the members of the Alliance to sign onto a Declaration of Principles. There’s utter chaos over the debate, and Girabaldi privately weighs in to Sheridan saying that he thinks there needs to be more force behind the alliance anyway. Then, we skip over to some people in a dire situation who voice their opinion that the only hope is the Rangers. 

Girabaldi goes to find Byron because he’s managed to sell the main Alliance members to reach out the the telepaths. He quickly gets that meeting, but then Byron summarily dismisses Girabaldi without even allowing him to make an argument, because he’s already heard it all through his mind. Immediately after this, a White Star ship shows up at B5 with a horribly injured Ranger on board. Delenn pushes to use a telepath to discover what the Ranger was doing, and Lyta reads his memories to see the Enfili desperately hoping to join the Alliance in order to get its aid and survive. From this point, I’m already thinking the Drazi are more involved than they’re letting on–it wouldn’t make sense for any people to be totally uninterested in raids on border nations that are close to their own. And we’ve seen so far that Babylon 5 usually has a reason for things that don’t make sense.

Girabaldi convinces Lyta to go talk to the telepaths and G’Kar drops off his draft of the Declaration of Principles for Sheridan. It’s a beautiful statement that ultimately culminates in the notion that “we are one.” Byron confronts Lyta’s doubts about being a telepath head-on, but frees her to think more of herself while also agreeing to provide some help to the alliance because Lyta does want that help. And, here we go–the Drazi have some huge nefarious plan to destroy the White Star fleet and attempt to throw off any possible interference from the greater Alliance. Sheridan’s thank you to Lyta, even as an afterthought, clearly has a big impact on her. She’s becoming a more interesting character, which I’m totally on board for. Also, can we talk about how much the Rangers miss Marcus!? *Silently weeping.*

The confrontation with the Drazi among all the other members of the alliance is a great, masterful stroke. I loved it. We see them all rushing to sign the Declaration of Principles as Lyta looks on, apparently pleased at the great good she’s done. The tension-breaking humor of having G’Kar come in and bring another Declaration as he rushes off to get everyone to sign the new one was another great scene. Lyta goes to speak with Byron, and Sheridan agrees to work with the telepaths. I hope this means more great things and not some more nefarious plotting!

These guys are awesome.

4: A View from the Gallery

Throughout this episode we keep getting insights from some kind of maintenance team on Babylon 5 and from the beginning I suspected there’d be something much more important going on with them. 

Dr. Franklin has a great conversation about why he cares about trying to save whatever lives he can save. Once again, it ties back into his father. Seeing his father saved by a doctor, regardless of which side he was on, is what inspired him to become a doctor. As someone who’s experienced recent loss of a close relative, this scene was extremely poignant. I love how frequently Dr. Franklin talks about his dad. And then there’s the clincher at the end–the doctor who helped his father was shot and killed by his own side for being a traitor. Incredible. 

One of the battles in the episode has one of the maintenance guys fixing the station even as the battle is going on, and the lackadaisical way he goes about it in the middle of a warzone is just so endearing. I loved it. Also, bugs eating wiring is a major sci-fi trope, isn’t it? Then, Girabaldi is torn up one side and down another by  Lochley, who is suddenly showing a lot more character than I thought she might have. 

Then the maintenance guys crawl through a warzone and meet up with the rogue telepaths. They then have a number of cryptic conversations with the telepaths before Byron basically puts Bo in the cockpit of a fighter after he says it “matters to him.” Apparently Bo appreciated the experience, but it’s hard to tell where it went from there. Going along with that, we see a conversation between G’Kar and Mollari that is absolutely delightful as Mollari complains about the universe having it in for him as G’Kar relates his own struggles with the Centauri bombing his homeworld. Then we see another hugely touching moment between them as G’Kar tells Mollari “You did not grow up, you grew old.” Their dynamic is so perfect.

The final battle culminates in the White Star fleet saving the day even as our erstwhile maintenance workers watch and talk about the impact of everything on themselves and the station. At the end, we see Mack and Bo being greeted by Delenn as she and Sheridan walk past. This episode was so heartwarming and wholesome and I love it so much. 

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

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!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Season 4: Episodes 17-20

Well, this is awkward.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Babylon 5, Season 4: Episodes 17-20

17: The Face of the Enemy
Garibaldi is clearly feeling it with his upcoming betrayal of Sheridan. Sheridan, meanwhile, discovers that the President is telling Earth Force people that they’ll all be killed and replaced by Minbari if they don’t surrender. But one of Sheridan’s allies talks some of the Earth Force down while his old ship shows up. Sheridan is too trusting, in my opinion, as he decides to go over to his old ship. Meanwhile, Franklin and Lyta go to meet up with Mars resistance forces. 

Garibaldi does ultimately seem to go the distance and tranquilizes Sheridan in the middle of a bar after he used his dad as bait to bring him in. And here we have a disturbingly poignant psuedo fight scene as Sheridan attempts to fight off those sent to apprehend him as music goes on hauntingly in the background. This scene is one of the more powerful in the show so far, as we see Garibaldi juxtaposed against Sheridan getting beaten by Earth Force brutes. Then, a news story of his capture is played over scenes of Sheridan being beaten by his captors. As Garibaldi’s betrayal ramps into high gear, he learns of Edgars’s plan to fully control telepaths by forcing them to take a drug. And then we see Garibaldi taking a tooth out that sends a signal to Bester!? 

I just need to pause for a moment and truly reflect on this! The whole plot was brought about by Bester, who set Garibaldi up as a kind of inside man, to spy for him. And then Bester, once he gets the information he needs from Girabaldi, apparently releases Garibaldi from his psychic trap. But the whole thing was set up, in a way, by the Shadows themselves, since they targeted the telepaths and tried to trap them between enemies. Bester releases Garibaldi and leaves him in abject sorrow. He’s believed to be a traitor by everyone.

18: Intersections in Real Time

Sheridan is tortured and questions in some of the more excruciating scenes in the show. It’s not terribly graphic, but since we’ve become so invested in Sheridan as a character, it becomes horrible just to not know whether he’s going to get through it alive. The lengthy sequences also remind me of the scenes with Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Chain of Command, Part II.” In fact, the whole episode is quite similar to that show. I’m not suggesting they’re copying with Babylon 5 by any means, just that that TNG episode is among the best in all of TNG, and Babylon 5 takes the idea of an episode (or two) of interrogation and moves it into one entire episode in which we watch them trying to break Sheridan down. 

“The truth is fluid,” says Sheridan’s tormentor. “My task is to make you desire to believe differently.” Going on, the episode shows this man use any number of tricks on Sheridan to torture him mentally and physically. It’s got al lkinds of shades of 1984 as well, especially when the man leaves with a track on repeat talking about how to be released. Finally, they offer Sheridan “one last chance,” to confess to his “crimes,” which he denies. He’s carried down the hall with an overlay of words from the Bible while he sees a vision of Delenn in the distance. It’s unclear where the words or vision came from. 

He gets taken to another room, but he sees a robed and masked figure, who turns out to be the alien that he saw taken away and killed. Is it a vision again? Everything is unclear as the episode ends leaving Sheridan with a new tormentor. This is one of the most visceral episodes of the entire series so far, and I was left desperately wanting to watch the next one. Of course, before I could do so, I had to go to work! 

19: Between the Darkness and the Light

[I wrote the reactions here in real time, so be ready for the twist.]

The episode begins with a scene we as viewers know immediately is wrong–Sheridan back talking to Dr. Franklin, apparently unharmed. Right away, we see that the awful people set up by the President to interrogate Sheridan have been drugging him in an attempt to get information from him. On the flip side, Garibaldi is captured by the Mars resistance forces and interrogated by them. Lyta and Franklin manage to manage to convince “Number One” of the resistance that Garibaldi is in fact telling the truth by using Lyta’s telepathic abilities. 

Also, excuse me a massive fanboy squeal here, because we have a redemption arc for Mollari! It’s not much at this point, but Mollari works with G’Kar to unite the allied worlds to agree to work together for the sake of Sheridan. Ivanova and Marcus work to try to get away from an apparent ambush set up by Earthforce [edit: I just found out it’s Earthforce, apparently, and there’s no way I’m going to go back and edit all my uses of Earth Force, so here’s where I start getting it right] destroyers while Garibaldi, Dr. Franklin, and Number One also work to try to rescue Sheridan. 

And in that rescue, we have one of the greatest one-liners in the whole series from one of the Earthforce guards: “I don’t watch TV. It’s a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.” Garibaldi: “I couldn’t agree more.” Absolutely epic. The thing that makes this even more awesome is how much it fits with our current narrative in which the alleged liberal media elite are purported to be controlling all information/media. It’s a great tongue-in-cheek moment that is probably timeless. 

Ivanova thanks Marcus for the compliment he gave her many moons ago since she’s now learned enough Minbari to know what he actually said. But the Earthforce destroyers also have Shadow technology all of a sudden, so it initially looks quite bleak. And it is… so bleak. The White Stars fleet manages to destroy the Earthforce fleet, but only with critical injuries to Ivanova. 

Delenn and Sheridan are reunited and it’s beautiful. 

Wait… wait a second. Wait!? Ivanova!? No! No! That’s not okay! Damn! Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that just happened. 

NO! NOT OKAY!

20: Endgame

Ivanova’s not dead yet. Are they toying with my feelings? And worse–those of Marcus!? 

Anyway, the final attack is being prepped, as Garibaldi (whose recovery is remarkable) leads a scout mission on Mars for the attack while the Alliance ships get ready to strike from space. Earthfroce has apparently decided to set up one of Sheridan’s old teachers as his rival for one of these final battles. Meanwhile, Marcus tries to find a way to save Ivanova. I’m also writing this episode reaction real-time and I just remembered a solution and I’m not happy about it. Remember that weird machine that could transfer life force from one person to another? I bet Marcus is going to find it and transfer his life to Ivanova, sacrificing himself for her. He’s too good! I can feel this is going to happen. Please, no! Great, and then he finds out about the alien healing device, just as I predicted. I’m… not happy about this. 

And there he goes, flying off, his vivid blue eyes foreshadowing what I’ve already guessed will happen. I knew from the beginning he’d die! I said so! 

Anyway, back on Earth, the awful President Clark kills himself, but only after deciding to go down in flames, arming the defense grid and taking whatever casualties he can with him, specifically, though, he’s turned the defensive systems towards Earth in order to take as much of Earth as possible with himself. Sheridan pushes the fleet to the limit in order to try to save as many people of Earth as he can. Sheridan’s old commander saves his life, destroying the last platform just before Sheridan’s ship would have rammed it to destroy it. 

After a beautiful scene with ISN coming back online, we have… the scene I’ve been dreading for more than an entire season. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but I did know. Marcus looks at Ivanova’s body and says “I love you,” as he closes his eyes. 

Damn.

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

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!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the first time- Season 3: Episodes 9-12

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 3: Episodes 9-12

9: Point of No Return
A huge amount of plot happens in this episode. Reflecting on it after the fact, I am honestly surprised this much fit into approximately 42-44 minutes. Yet, as has happened consistently so far, at no point did the plot feel horribly rushed or bloated. It worked extremely well. Anyway, to the episode. First, we have Mollari editing what Vir is saying about his visit to the Minbari. I loved this little portrait scene, because it shows the contrast in their characters quite well. Then, we get the Night Watch is being authorized to take over Babylon 5. I know that “this is like the Nazis” gets thrown around a lot, but this is actually extremely similar to how the Nazis took over Germany, utilizing tragedies and misinformation to continue to seize more and more power. I’m sure this is intentional, as well. I read quite a bit of history of WW2 due to a deep interest in the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed at Hitler’s specific orders. I couldn’t help but see many parallels here, and the closeness of the ties suggests at least some research went in to paralleling some aspects of the rise of the Nazis. It’s a fascinating, sci-fi portrayal of how power can go wrong so quickly.

Can we pause for a moment and think about the number of people from Star Trek on this show? We’ve got Bester, played by Walter Koenig. It was a bit jarring to be like: “Hey, is that Chekov?” when he first showed up, but he nails his role here so far. Now, we have Lady Morella, some kind of Centauri Prophet, who is Lwaxana Troi–Majel Barrett. Side note: as a kid, I could not stand Lwaxana Troi, but when I re-watched TNG/DS9 in order as an adult she grew on me. Majel Barrett had more dimension acting than I picked up as a kid, and she shows it here. Side note 2, I love that Bester is Afred Bester and is clearly named after the science fiction author of the same name and spelling. I haven’t read a ton of Bester (I think The Demolished Man might be the only book I’ve read of his, but I want to read more now.

Anyway, I adored the part of this episode where Girabaldi absolutely lost it on the Night Watch, literally flipping tables and getting arrested. It’s a great scene that’s absolutely on point for his character, and the actor they chose has grown on me with scenes like this. G’Kar’s realization that working with the humans seemed like a major point, but we already get the payoff in this episode as the Narn are brought in to combat the Night Watch. Zack Allan hits a turning point in this episode, and I loved that he went with the good guys. I also liked how much ambiguity there was until we finally saw which side he picked. I hope he continues to get developed. I’m not a huge fan of him, but I think there’s room for dynamic growth. 

Morella reveals some kind of prophecy that Mollari will be Emperor, but that Vir will also be Emperor once Mollari dies. I’m not sure how to take this because so far prophetic type things have been basic certainties on the show. But Vir? Really? We’ll see. 

Anyway, ultimately the good guys take the station back after some early morning antics trapping the Night Watch, but this will surely have broader implications for Earth-B5 relations. This episode has way more in it, but I think I hit the major points I wanted to discuss. I loved this one. Heck, I love them all, but this one was particularly great.

10: Severed Dreams
The opener for this one has Mollari complaining loudly about the Narn as security and then having to wait hours because of a “technical difficulty” due to the “inefficient” Narn. I loved it. Good humor, and continues to show Mollari as a jerk. I truly hope he gets a redemptive arc of some sort, because I adored him in season 1. Some Minbari person brings a bunch more info about how the Shadows are making war happen far away. I’m sure that will become important probably but for now it seemed  a sidenote because EARTH FORCE IS BOMBING MARS! Yeah, so I guess I did not anticipate at all the huge amount of political intrigue this show would have. Early on in the show when Earth was mentioned I kind of just wrote it off as background noise, but now we see how important that was. It’s great to see the development here, and the rumblings we’ve seen made it so it wasn’t totally suspension of disbelief-defying. Also, the interrupted news broadcast was a great way to do this as a reveal. Time and again the right choices were made by whoever was running the show to make it dramatic and impactful.

Okay, so now we already have Earth Force showing up to challenge Babylon 5 with some rebellious ships assisting B5, and this battle scene was totally awesome. There’s a huge contrast in special effects with similar shows at the time, with the obvious comparison being Star Trek Deep Space Nine (which I love). These haven’t dated super great, but the excitement is all still there, and this was a fantastic, dramatic, huge epic space battle, which we almost never get to see in cinema or TV. Huge kudos for this great scene. 

Oh yeah, and the Minbari show up to save the day. No biggy. I’m sure that won’t be important (he says sarcastically). Loved it.

11: Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Deporting Night Watch! *Metal music plays in background because this scene is totally awesome.*

We have some assassination attempts, some kidnapping, and some intrigue for the main plot as Delenn gets captured. Lennier and Delenn have an interesting conversation about prophecy given my thoughts on prophecy with Vir above. We’ll see how this all plays out. Mollari has a good line in this episode too, as he plays with Centauri politics: “Why should I listen to you?” asks Refa. “Because I have poisoned your drink!” says Mollari. Loved this moment. I want to see Mollari develop more, and this may be the start of something for him. 

Night Watch people who stayed behind have kidnapped Delenn and it is time to UNLEASH MARCUS, possibly my new favorite character. I basically love everything about him, especially his accent. No, but seriously, he delivers one of the best one-liners in the show so far: “They [the Minbari who trained Marcus] said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger.”
“And?” asks Lennier.
Raising hands to scene of violence, Marcus says, “I’m not repressed any more.”
It’s a laugh out loud moment for me, but it shows some possibility for more background on Marcus as well. I hope he stays around the rest of the series, because he’s awesome in every way. Anyway, they rescue Delenn. New uniforms for the crew. Marcus/10. 

12: Sic Transit Vir
In which we discover Vir is a great human being… well, a great person, anyway. So in his travels, he’s been apparently diverting Narn who were going to be killed through forced labor in order to save them by hiding them as “dead.” This was revealed as Mollari was in the process of praising him for mass murder. Is Mollari truly this despicable, or is he playing a long game? Time will tell! Mollari also set up an arranged marriage for Vir to Drusella, who is… something else. She fights a Narn and ties him up for Vir to kill at one point. I wonder how her character is going to shape Vir. Overall, this episode seemed like a drawn out way to give Vir a plot arc. It was okay, but it dragged at points. 

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

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!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the first time- Season 3: Episodes 1-4

A fragile human moment.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 3: Episodes 1-4

Matters of Honor
I loved the new intro but I stopped looking at it because it looked spoiler-filled to me for the season. The Vorlon ambassador remains delightfully aloof. Mollari trying to be rid of the guy who’s so closely tied to the Shadows is interesting. I wonder how that will play out. I loved Mollari in the first season, but he became a heel in the second. How will he ultimately turn out? I don’t know, but I cant wait to find out. I especially liked the part of the episode where Mollari and Morden–that’s the guy’s name!–split up the galaxy. That random planet is totally not going to be important, right? Mollari also says he’s seen the Shadow type ship when asked about it, and he appears almost haunted by a dreamlike vision of them over his homeworld. I loved when G’Kar is finally asked by the Earth intelligence guy about the Shadows, and he just opens his holy book, eager to finally have someone to listen: Yes, let me tell you about the coming evils! It’s chilling and a great character moment for G’Kar all at once.

Convictions
Some random bombings are occurring all over the station, and as the crew races to stop them, G’Kar and Mollari get stuck in an elevator after one of the bombs traps them. Their air is running out, and we finally see a serious face-to-face with these two. G’Kar has the perfect opportunity to kill Mollari, and I was initially shocked he didn’t do it and try to frame it on the bombing. But, the depth of this show goes much farther than you might think, and I’d forgotten they’d already given an answer for why G’Kar wouldn’t do that: G’Kar himself reasons that 500 of his people would be killed, including his relatives, should he even be suspected of harming Mollari. Instead, he laughs, delighted that the bomber will kill Mollari for him as they run out of air. It’s a poignant scene that reveals the intensity of G’Kar’s hatred, the way Mollari is conflicted himself, and the thoughtfulness of G’Kar all at once. It’s so good. The only downside for me is the slang thrown in there from the time of the show, when G’Kar says ‘”up yours!” to Mollari. It’s funny, but a comedic moment that wasn’t hugely necessary. Anyway, Sheridan goes in and saves the day, of course, with the help of several others. This episode felt like a building one but had enough action and intensity in it to not drag at any point.

A Day in the Strife
I hadn’t realized until this episode how refreshing it can be to not have to deal with anything even approximating a “Prime Directive” type of orders in Babylon 5. There’s not concern here from humanity about how they might impact other species across the galaxy. This is the real world, not some idealistic fantasy-land. I love Star Trek, so I’m mostly saying that previous bit tongue-in-cheek. One can only hope that by the time humanity encounters other intelligent life, we will have learned not to destroy everything we touch. But Babylon 5’s vision of future humanity is unrelenting in an almost cynical way: humanity would put its own interests first, and people would not magically stop yearning for power. Anyway, the thing that brought this up for me was Sheridan basically flat out saying “no” to G’Kar being recalled. In Star Trek, there’d be some huge sequence about the Prime Directive, etc. Here, Sheridan just denies the request. “Nah.” It’s a cool moment, though we later see Sheridan makes it conditioned upon G’Kar’s own desires. And those desires are placed at the center of this episode, along with a second plot featuring some probe that comes offering humanity all its desires if it can pass an intelligence test. Anyway, G’Kar ultimately decides to stay after many of his people come to him basically saying he must stay and continue his resistance. The moment that convinced him: when he asked whether anything is more important than their families’ safety, and his people responded: “Yes, our freedom!” The probe–I loved how this hearkened to being a Berserker type entity and that the writer(s) specifically put that in the episode by using the word. The Berserkers I’m referring to are the pretty fantastic series of short stories and books by Fred Saberhagen (I linked the first book there) which feature Berserkers as the main antagonist–some awful AI things going out and clearing all intelligent life from the universe. It’s a cool nod to older sci-fi in the show. I definitely distrusted the probe immediately, but I thought it might have been sent to steal intelligence. I hadn’t thought of it as a way to destroy competition, and I absolutely loved that twist. 

Passing Through Gethsemane
There are moments when you’re watching something on TV or a movie when you realize it’s a transcendent time. Something about what’s happening on the show clicked; one of those moments where everything aligned. And “Passing Through Gethsemane” was one of those episodes for me. Look, I already love this show. It’s my first time through and I’ve already gone looking for novels, companion books, etc. to read for the second time. But this episode had so much that I love. Near the beginning when we see Brother Edward talking about the Garden of Gethsemane. He says that there, Jesus could have chosen to leave, postponing the inevitable. It was a “very fragile human moment” that resonates so deeply with Brother Edward. But then we see Edward has been mind wiped and is, in fact, a notorious killer. He himself starts to discover this as a telepath reawakens his memories, apparently as a step of a plot to get revenge from families of the victims. Edward finds himself in a kind of broken psyche, realizing who he was, but also that his entire life and outlook on the universe has changed. He asks whether there is “enough forgiveness for what I’ve done” and the answer, provided by Brother Theo of the Trappist Monks, is simple: “Always. Always.” He’s killed by the families of his victims, but he chooses to go to his death, knowing what they will do. He sees it as his own “passing through Gethsemane” and the fragility of the human condition one finds there. He apparently saw justice and forgiveness align and chose that path.
Theo and Sheridan have a conversation about “Where does revenge end and justice begin?” and Sheridan makes a point that forgiveness is a “hard thing”–likely himself thinking about his wife. But then, we discover one of his killers has also been mind wiped, and now Malcolm–one of the men who committed the vigilante act against Edward–is mind wiped and himself one of the Trappists. And Theo turns Sheridan’s words back on him. Knowing Sheridan is enraged by this vigilante killing, Brother Theo says that Sheridan himself just made a comment about forgiveness being a hard thing. Sheridan pauses in his rage and shock, and finally shakes the new Brother Malcolm’s hand. 
Wow. I loved everything about this, and I didn’t even mention bringing back the rogue Psi person. This is a fantastic piece of television storytelling, one that will be bouncing around in my head for quite a while. I liked it so much that I even wrote an extended review and look at the themes in the episode.

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

“Passing Through Gethsemane”- Babylon 5 and the Fragility of Humanity– I discuss the episode in much more detail. Needless to say, I loved it. 

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!

SDG.

Babylon 5: Season 1- Signs and Portents

Don’t mind us, just making an incredibly addicting space opera TV show.

Babylon 5 has been recommended to me a number of times by other science fiction fans. It came out when I was young enough that it probably would have been well beyond me. So, it’s taken a while for me to get into it since I didn’t grow up on it and, let’s be honest, the special effects haven’t aged well at all. It makes the show seem very cheesy at times, and it’s also clear at points that it is over-acted. The CG is extremely out of date. So I wasn’t sure if I could get into it. But, when a flash sale happened on Amazon and I had some Christmas money, I grabbed the whole series at a bargain price and decided to finally check it out. I need to talk about season one, now. There will be spoilers for this season only. Please DO NOT SPOIL any later seasons!

Signs and Portents

I did not expect, at all, the total mixture of feelings that this show has made me feel. I laughed, I cried… I got involved. It’s fantastic television of the absolute highest order. I just finished season 1 and let me tell you, I have feelings about it. The characters are fascinating (though I gotta say, I’m still not 100% sold on the casting of Garibaldi–the guy just doesn’t look the part they try to have him play as a relentlessly tough guy). I absolutely love Ambassador Mollari, for example. He’s a walking trope, but what a way to play it! They flesh him out so that you don’t mind him, and his humor is just spot on.  The music is just phenomenal, by the way.

Also, can we talk about how this is basically just a space opera novel series as a TV show? I mean seriously how is this show not even more revered than it is?

I want to talk about some of the episodes, too. First, “Believers.” What the hell, Babylon 5? Why you gotta do me like that? Just thinking about that episode pains me. It seems like a not-so-subtle look at Jehovah’s Witness beliefs about blood transfusions and refusing care based on that, but they somehow make it almost sympathetic by having the doctor be so damned uncaring about other people’s beliefs. Then, they gotta turn around and plunge the knife in and twist it. I was not ready for that! Not at all!

“Deathwalker” was another great episode. “You are not ready for immortality” – Ambassador Kosh, laying down the law on humans. Or should I saw the Law? I don’t know. It was awesome.

“Born to the Purple” was fantastic character development for Ambassador Mollari, but holy crap was I not ready, again, for the feels I’d have when Garibaldi finally tracked down what was going on with Ivanova. It made Ivanova much more interesting–she had initially seemed very one dimensional to me, but now she’s a hardass with heart and I love it.

“Soul Hunter” was awesome for its turnabout on the villain narrative. Just a fantastic bit of storytelling there.

Also what the hell is going on here?

And all throughout this season, there are, yes, “Signs and Portents” that show something bigger is happening. The finale is just fantastic. Now it’s time for me to go watch more of this fantastic series!

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

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!

SDG.

 

Star Trek: DS9 “Destiny” and “Prophet Motive”

I have a particle accelerator shooting out of my brain. Your argument is invalid.

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:

“Destiny”

Synopsis

A pair (later a triad) of Cardassian scientists arrive on board DS9 to try to set up a way to communicate through the Wormhole. Meanwhile, Vedek Yarka, a somewhat controversial religious leader on Bajor, argues that the Bajoran scriptures prophesy this very event as a calamity that will deeply impact Bajor. Starfleet and the Cardassians press on, however, despite some superficial similarities between this prophecy and current events. When things start to go wrong and it appears the Wormhole is in danger, support for Yarka’s interpretation surges. However, one of the Cardassian scientists finally outs the third, who is revealed to be a member of the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence group. She was trying to sabotage their efforts. With that out of the way, the plan proceeds and, unexpectedly, some filament science magic happens and the communications are able to be established. Sisko, Kira, Yarka, and others see this as the prophecy being fulfilled in an unexpected way they could not have predicted.

Commentary

I thought this episode was a breath of fresh air. We’ve had Star Trek deal with religion plenty of times before. It hasn’t always done so well. In this one, genuinely interesting questions of interpretation of prophecy are brought forward. Who gets to arbitrate such interpretation? How much should we look at current events to try to figure out what prophecies mean? Can a prophecy really be true? These are just some of the questions briefly touched on in this episode.

What made it so refreshing is that the writers didn’t force answers for these questions. The episode dynamically changed the answers and perspectives for these questions. Most interestingly, at the end, many of the characters take what happened as meaning the prophecy came to its fulfillment.

Okay, a bit more on this one. The plot is fairly bare-bones overall–the meat is spent on the analogues to the prophecy–but it does the job of carrying the episode when it needs to. There is just enough question of whether the prophecy might come true or not that as a viewer you keep wondering which direction it will go. The ending is perfect, showing that we very often read our own perspective onto those things which we read.

Grade: A “I found this a surprisingly good look at how religious groups may interpret their scriptures differently, and how events that are happening here-and-now can change that. It was remarkably balanced in its look at this question, while still delivering a great plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a good combination of new characters and development of a long-standing story thread, plus it was fun to get to know some more Cardassians.”

“Prophet Motive”

Synopsis

The Grand Nagus of the Ferengi shows up once again on DS9, but he’s spreading a message that is utterly baffling to Quark and the other Ferengi. He seems to have re-written the Rules of Acquisition into some kind of rules for being kind to others! What gives? As Quark struggles with the reality that the Nagus might really be losing it, they discover that the Nagus tried to meet up with the mysterious aliens in the Wormhole to exploit them for knowledge of the future–and more monetary gain. The aliens, however, sent him back with a message of compassion. Quark must rush with the help of others to save the Ferengi and the Nagus from certain financial destruction. They do so! Monetary gains all around!

Commentary

Okay, this one was a bit silly, but so fun. I particularly loved the scene in which Quark has convinced himself the Nagus is making these changes as some kind of grand scheme that he can’t possibly comprehend, only to give in to the realization that the Nagus has truly gone off his rocker. It’s funny and delightful.

This kind of lighthearted, silly episode is something that I think DS9 pulls off much better than TNG. TNG takes itself very seriously throughout–often too seriously–so the silly episodes have to be quite excellent to succeed. DS9 just is quite serious–wars and rumors of wars abound, serious topics are constantly explored, etc. Because of this, the silly episodes like this one feel like a kind of breather to give some recovery after serious episodes. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and love every time the Grand Nagus shows up.

Grade: B “Radically implausible and silly, but insanely fun to watch nonetheless.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was fun. It was also very silly.”

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.

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

Well.. this is awkward.

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

“Armageddon Game”

Synopsis

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

“Whispers”

Synopsis

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

Links

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

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

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

SDG.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 1 “Progress” and “If Wishes Were Horses”

progressI’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:

“Progress”

Synopsis

Jake and Nog hear that Quark has a huge amount of yamok sauce, and Nog decides to get Jake to help him on an enterprising adventure to attempt to trade or sell the sauce for more and more different things in an effort to acquire profit. Meanwhile, Kira is sent off-station to help get a farmer, Mullibok, and his two mute friends off the land that is going to be used for an energy transfer. Nog and Jake manage to acquire land for one of their trades, and learn that the land is desired by the Bajoran government. They deal Quark into the mix, finally turning a profit. Kira finally must choose between her duty to Starfleet and Bajor and her empathy for Mullibok’s experience, ultimately choosing the former and going so far as to force him to leave by burning down his home.

Commentary

Yeah this was a weird episode. Kira deserved about a dozen court martials for her defiance of orders, but then turns around and goes way over the top. I remember commenting to my wife jokingly: “She’s totally gonna burn the place down to make him leave.” Apparently I was unintentionally prophetic there, as that’s exactly what Kira ended up doing. It wasn’t a bad storyline, it was just strange.

The other thread here was another Jake and Nog adventure, and I admit I have a decided soft spot for them, having grown up thinking we could be playmates on board DS9 (and reading the series of kids books that basically let you follow all their adventures). So I kind of liked this silliness that helped give more flavor to their relationship. Sure, it’s childish, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What are we left with, then? A strange mashup of two episodes, neither capable of standing on its own, that becomes, well, basically the sum of its parts. It’s two half-episodes. Not great, but not terrible.

Grade: C+ “It feels incomplete and mashed together, but I’m a sucker for Jake and Nog storylines, so this one isn’t the bottom dweller it otherwise could have been.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B for Kira storyline and A for Jake and Nog play the paperclip challenge storyline. 

“If Wishes Were Horses”

Synopsis

Across DS9 people’s imaginings start to become real. As the station is overrun with strangeness, Sisko and crew must work to try to solve the problem, ultimately revealing some kind of rupture in the plasma field that is threatening the base. As all their efforts fail, Sisko finally decides even the rupture must be imaginary, and he solves the problem by simply disbelieving it. Turns out all the imaginary friends were some kind of observers sent to see how humans (and others) in this part of the galaxy work.

Commentary

[An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to this episode as “If Wishes were Fishes.” Hey, steal a common phrase and expect people to get it wrong.]

I don’t really know how to feel about this one, which leaves me to decide that I feel largely ambivalent. It’s yet another strange episode in a chain of weirdness that is starting to make me think that DS9’s season 1, while better than TNG’s is quite “colorful,” and not always in a good way.

The reveal at the beginning when Rumpelstiltskin appears basically takes away whatever dramatic buildup was possible–imagine if the first thing that had happened was the Dax/Bashir encounter. We’d be weirded out and surprised, but it wouldn’t be obviously imaginary. Rumpelstiltskin just is not real; so having it be the first thing to show up immediately gave the game away. On the other hand, the playfulness of the episode is kind of its saving grace, such that at the end I don’t mind so much that a long-dead baseball player is telling me about his alien race. Yeah, that’s a sentence I just wrote.

The actors did a pretty decent job selling the whole thing, so I guess bonus points for that. It was weird, it was fun, and it was off-putting all at once. How do you even rate such an episode?

Anyway, can we mention baseball again here? The thought that baseball just dwindles away to nothing is a remarkably sad look at the future, especially for me as a Cubs fan just observing their first World Series win in more than 100 years. Let’s just pretend this pretend future really is pretend and pretend it won’t happen, k? K.

Grade: C “Another weird episode. Maybe DS9 season 1 just is a series of kind of strange, off-beat science fiction stories.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “That was a weird one. It just didn’t make sense.”

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.