Monthly Archives: March 2013

Shadow Play, Playing God, Profit and Loss, Blood Oath

SHADOWPLAY

Dax and Odo investigate a mystery planet of vanishing people. I didn’t get where this story was going and it was hard to get into. The population also seems a little bit mentally challenged. They reminded me of Pakleds. It feels like someone took a script for a TNG episode and hit Edit + Replace with the character names.

There was one thing in this episode that I loved, the subplot about Sisko wanting Jake to join Starfleet.

I’ve often wondered, “Who WOULDN’T join Starfleet!” Sometimes it feels like the only job in the 24th century. The fact is that 99% of people watching Star Trek would kill to join Starfleet. I gotta say it would be an awesome job. So the audience is definitely on Sisko’s side in this story. We all expect Jake to join Starfleet. I love that Jake isn’t interested in it. This really adds an extra dimension to the Star Trek universe. To Jake, Starfleet is his dad’s boring job and he wants to do something else. He knows what the universe has to offer and he wants to try something else. I don’t agree with Jake, but I understand him.

PLAYING GOD

Trite.

Cardassian Voles infest the station. A universe is born. A Trill host applicant gets berated by Dax.

All the stories play out the same way – who’s life is worth more? Who’s life is better? Yours or somebody else’s? Is it wrong to kill an innocent person in exchange for your own?

This episode weakly answers this question of evolutionary superiority.

1. If it’s vermin, yes.

2. If it’s a universe… well… figure out a way around the moral dilemna so you don’t have to come to an conclusion.

3. If it’s a fellow Trill initiate who wants your guidance, spare the rod, spoil the child.

Thanks for the wisdom.

PROFIT AND LOSS

Quark’s former love comes aboard the station but she is sort of using him. And I guess she’s helping some terrorists.

If you’re watching this on DVD, just skip to when Garak is on screen. He has so many amazing lines and Andrew Robinson really shines with each and every one. A very under-rated actor.

Although it was interesting to see Quark has a heart, it was too much. His actions were way out of character and they made everything he has ever done on screen seem trivial. They’ve made it seem as though all he wanted in life was this Cardassian woman and everything else is a consolation prize.

Personally, I would have just scrapped the Quark romance and made this a multi-character story relating to the hand-over of terrorists. BUT have Garak hanging around behind the scenes until he suddenly becomes important at the end. It’s thin… but it’s mine!

BLOOD OATH

Dax runs into three Klingons; former friends of Curzon Dax.

I really like this twist on the standard Trek plot people showing up from someone’s past. I was expecting the traditional story – they ask Jadzia for help – she must honour Curzon’s commitment. Instead, the onus falls on Jadzia to prove to the Klingons that she has the same soul as Curzon. I’m glad they focused most of the episode on that dynamic rather than the violent assault. It’s a nicely balanced storyline.

One issue though… when it serves Jadzia, she isn’t really the same as Curzon – like when she’s on trial for murder. However, at times like this she states “I am Curzon” when it suits her own needs. I wish they would address that.

Last point, I love Jadzia’s pseudo Klingon uniform.

Armageddon Game, Whispers, Paradise

ARMAGEDDON GAME

O’Brien and Bashir help some aliens destroy the last of their WMD to prevent further bloodshed, but then someone tries to wipe them out, too.

Decent concept. Episode starts well but then O’Brien and Bashir’s deaths are faked in laughable surveillance footage.

Then there is this ridiculous scene. Keiko watches the video of her husbands last moments on earth. The time code indicates it’s the afternoon but O’Brien is drinking coffee? Keiko tells Sisko that Miles NEVER drinks coffee in the afternoon! Sisko, logically says that maybe O’Brien was drinking something else. No! No! No! Keiko responds, the molecular scan in the video indicates it was coffee!

What?!

I believe that warp engines are possible.

Transporters – it’s kind of ridiculous that a computer could possibly break down a person AND their mind into data and transfer it, along with said bio-matter to another place in five seconds but I’ll buy it.

However…

The writers of Deep Space Nine actually expect me to believe that four hundred years from now surveillance footage will actually contain molecular scans of everything in the video.

Ridiculous!

WHISPERS

Chief O’Brien wakes up on an episode of “The Twilight Zone” where everyone is conspiring against him.

This feels like a retread of many many many other episodes of Star Trek, and sci-fi in general.

I have virtually nothing to say about this episode. Despite the fact that it builds to a twist ending, and that we can clearly see a twist ending is coming, it’s totally by the numbers. It also seems to be a close copy of that Phillip K, Dick story Impostor

PARADISE

Sisko and O’Brien get stuck on a planet full of marooned humans who have abandoned the use of technology.

I like this one. It reminds me A LOT of that movie The Beach – it’s hard not to compare the two. I should note, I am a big fan of that movie (I realize that isn’t the norm).

I actually had a bit of trouble analyzing this episode because I was expecting it to play out exactly like The Beach. When I think back, the villain appears as Tilda Swinton in my mind actually.

Anyway, it’s a good little story and I like getting the chance to see Sisko be stubborn. He spends a lot of time on the station, getting his way, it’s good to see how he handles NOT being in control. I disagreed with many choices he made in trying to prove he wouldn’t bow down to the laws of this settlement – but my disagreements here actually built his character. Some of Avery Brooks better acting for sure.

The ending, where the more low-key characters said they liked their new home wasn’t believable to me and came a bit out of nowhere. They were pissed off just now about how they wound up there. The last show though kind of redeems that mistake as he see two children staring at where Sisko and O’Brien’s transporter beams just were – contemplating a future and galaxy they may never get a chance to see.

Sanctuary, Rivals, The Alternate

Sanctuary

Refugee aliens from the Gamma quadrant show up, and they want to settle on Bajor.

I remember seeing this episode way back when it was first on the air. It was probably the only season 2 episode I caught that year. Both then and now my opinion is actually that this episode has some first rate make-up. It really sets these characters up to visually convey both their culture as well as their personalities. The other thing is that in a species with such rough skin, it stands to reason that women would be considered strong leaders rather than objects. I like how well thought out it was – not just forehead ridges as per usual.

All that aside, I love the story about these aliens thinking that Bajor is their “promised land”. The thing I love about it is that they are pragmatic, they don’t just expect everyone else to respect their religion, they want to contribute, they want to give to the Bajorans in exchange for a place to settle.

However, here’s the problem, this story doesn’t start until more than half way through the episode. This could have been a first rate piece of science fiction, exploring a subject that is incredibly complicated and echoes our real world without actually being totally allegorical. The fact is that Bajorans could use the help, it would really have been fascinating to see Dax do simulations of how these aliens could benefit the Bajorans, as well as simulations showing the devastating consequences if the aliens fail. Sadly, a large chunk of this episode is devoted to a slow moving universal translator. That was interesting to see, but this episode needed more focus.

Side note: second mention of the Dominion. Credit to the writers for being so in credibly vague in setting up the Dominion; they didn’t paint themselves into any continuinty corners while also creating an effectively ominous feeling.

Rivals

Some loser El-Aurian opens a competing business across from Quark.

Ummm. This episode sucks. Some good banter between Quark and his nemesis, but I never took this guy seriously as a villain. He was so pathetic I was just waiting for him to fail.

Odo shows up at the start to say some couple whom we’ve never seen are pressing charges against the El-Aurian. A few minutes later, these unseen people have changed their minds so Odo let’s him go. At the end of the episode, they’ve changed their minds and he is going back to jail. Worst… Deus… Ex… Machina… Ever. And THAT is saying A LOT!

The Alternate

This one starts out rather reminiscent of other Trek. Odo’s “father”, the scientist who studied him and helped him through his adolescence, comes to DS9 to ask Odo to come on a research mission with him.

The story starts twisting very quickly and it never really pauses for long enough such that you can find it predictable. As I watched “The Alternate” I didn’t know the genre of this episode and it was better because of it.

The director certainly studied the original “Alien” to build suspense in a few spots. It’s effective and it does a great job of diverting our attention from what’s really going on. Too often Trek director really half-ass it in scenes that could really be suspenseful.

One small note – given the realization that Odo’s dad comes to during the climax – he really should have caught Odo as he fell.

Rules of Acquisition, Necessary Evil, Second Sight

Rules of Acquisition

The Grand Nagus makes Quark go negotiate for some wine. This is, I believe, the first mention of The Dominion.

One thing I should say is that I would really like to see a story about the Ferengi that is NOT comedic. Other than the Ferengi woman in drag (or rather, in clothes) this episode is highly unmemorable.

Necessary Evil

Quark is nearly killed and Odo investigates causing him to reflect on how he got his job as Constable years earlier.

This episode is WAY better than my meager synopsis would indicate. The flashbacks to DS9 during the occupation are outstanding. The cinematography really sets the scene and makes this feel like a completely different time and place. The story also effectively settle one major issue I’ve had with DS9; how Odo would up in charge of security. It actually makes sense now. That being said I would actually like to have seen more interaction between Odo and some Bajorans throughout DS9’s run to get deeper into whether or not he was considered a collaborator.

That being said the real strength here is the Odo / Kira story. These two characters have a lot to offer with their roles in the occupation of Bajor. It’s nice to see that fleshed out here and how they knew each other. It adds a lot of depth to their relationship with some character defining moments here. I’m glad the writers weren’t afraid to start looking at the dark side of the Trek universe.

9 outta 10!

Second Sight

Probably the worst episode of DS9 I’ve seen.

The re-ignition of a collaprsed star is hangled with all the gravitas of… whatever the opposite of a collapsed star is!

The scientist doing it is designed to be annoying. Too annoying. Way too annoying. I would gladly hand this guy a beating if I ever met him. Oh wait, I don’t need to… he kills himself… for NO reason whatsoever. This is sub-elementary school writing.

And his wife who can physically project her alter-ego is not adequately explained… nevermind… I give up.

Oh, wait, one other dumb thing: some of the episode takes place on board the USS Prometheus – I can handle the fact that Starfleet commissions another Prometheus on Voyager just a couple years later. WHY do we never see the Captain? What the hell? Some Lieutenant is running things the whole time. It’s just annoying.

Invasive Procedures, Cardassians, Melora

Invasive Procedures

Okay. Back to work. Been away camping…

During a ‘space storm’ that requires the evacuation of DS9, save for a skeleton crew, a rejected Trill host comes for Dax.

This is a really good example of a solid concept with poor execution. I actually wish this episode was worse, just so it could have been more interesting. Nothing interesting happens. John Glover, notoriously creepy in most roles, even in photographs actually, doesn’t come off as creepy here. Or sad. Or angry. Or even annoying. He barely registers as three dimensional matter. He has two Klingons who help him take the crew captive. His girlfriend is fairly cruel. Other than that, this reject Trill is a reject character. He isn’t clever or strong or manipulative. He’s just kinda whiny.

The very beginning of the episode was far more interesting before the story even began. The storm outside the dead silent station was really great atmosphere. The episode goes wrong shortly thereafter; the take over is rushed and had no gravitas. The crew acts more like, “lets see where this hostage taking is going” than “fight for your life!”

Anyway, the Trill host goes back to Dax. Shocking.

Cardassians

Cardassians started well. By the halfway point I was annoyed, to the point of actually offended. Side note – I think people say they are “offended” far too easily so I actually really mean I was offended on both moral and intellectual levels.

This episode has an interesting premise: at the end of the Cardassian occupation many ophans were left behind when the Cardassians fled. I don’t think the word “rape” is said but that’s the impression I got. A Cardassian boy, Rugal, who has been raised by Bajoran parents is now wanted back by his Cardassians biological father.

Before I go any further, I’ll should openly admit that I have an adopted daughter. It’s for you to decide if that unfairly skews my analysis of this episode.

The boy despises Cardassians, despite being one on a biological level. He has been raised to hate Cardassians. Maybe through indoctrination, maybe just through reading history books – it’s never particularly clear. There is talk that the boy has been abused by his Bajoran family but there’s never a conclusion. My take on all this is that the kid is just a kid, and for someone his age life is very black and white. He’s been raised on a planet formerly ruled by conquerors and he now hates them – I’m not surprised.

That being said, since the kid was born a Cardassian he should have been taught Cardassian history, the stuff that Picard spoke of in “Chain of Command pt 2” about Cardassians formerly being an artistic society that became militaristic to prevent it’s own downfall. It would be good for the kid to understand why Cardassian society is the way it is – otherwise he will likely wind up seeking out that culture later in life at a time of crisis.

One majorly offensive concept relates to the boy having been abandoned. Yet everyone acts like he was kidnapped and that the kid needs to sent back to where he “belongs” or was “meant to be”. Apparently you get several chances at parenting in the 24th century, you can give up your kids until you’re TOTALLY ready to settle down.

Then comes a twist, the biological father didn’t know his son was alive all these years. So, now, he has somewhat of a legitimate claim to the boy. This doesn’t seem to complicate matters so much as it just settles it that the biological father was wronged and that he shouldget his son back. The fact that the boy is happy as a Bajoran is irrelevant – he’s property in this situation.

I wasn’t sure if I was just projecting my own beliefs onto this episode. However, when O’Brien makes mention of the boy’s REAL father, the Cardassian, I settled myself on the fact that this episode really didn’t know what it was talking about.

Now, you might say that this episode is twenty years old so opinions on adoption were different back then. Perhaps…

To that, I counter with The Next Generation episode “Suddenly Human” which is actually 23 years old but could easily have been written today. It deftly handles a really problematic situation of a child who was NOT abandoned but rather stolen. Despite HOW he was adopted, the fact is he loves his “new” family and has been treated well by them. The boy’s wants and needs are more important than the adoptiove parent’s crime.

Here though, there is an inane storyline about how Gul Dukat was using the kid to embarass the biological father and ruin that man’s career. Possibly the most unintersting TWIST ending I’ve ever seen. Because of this twist Sisko et al. accept that the kid belongs on Cardassia due to an unrelated matter going on behind the scenes.

Idiotic. Stupid. Lazy.

Melora

I’ve heard this episode trashed before. I’m pretty sure I even saw it branded as the worst ep of DS9 on one list by Entertainment Weekly.

Melora is a woman from a planet with such low gravity that she needs mechanical supports to serve in Starfleet. And here she comes now…

I don’t think this is such a bad episode but the romance that blossoms between Melora and Bashir isn’t well established. It was clearly destined to only last this episode. If was going to last longer, the writers would have cared about it. This was a good opportunity to get some history from Bashir. Why does he want to help so much? It could have made his annoying eagerness sympathetic for once.

I have to say though, the end almost sways me into saying “this is the worst episode of ds9”.

Bashir gives Melora the opportunity to walk like the rest of us but she’ll never be able to, wait for it… set foot on her home planet again. So she has a tough decision to make: move on with her life and never look back or spend her whole life struggling. THANKFULLY, a Klingon hijacks her runabout so she turns off the artificial gravity thus giving her the upperhand and she beats him with her wire-work. So, of course, thanks to this important life-moment Melora decides she needs to stay the way she is. UNGH! She could just as easily have been forced to run into a burning building to save a small child. And from that she would learn that only without her disability could she live a happy life.

Manipulative story telling at its worst.

The Homecoming, The Circle, The Siege

Season 2 starts… NOW!

Academy Award nominee Skeletor guest stars. We’re taking it up a notch! Good to see this level of casting. Fills me with confidence.

This episode and, it would be fair to say already, this season is a vast improvement. They’re already distancing themselves from TNG with these less episodic stories. I have to give them credit, the story with a begging, middle and end.

Part 2…

Boy voyage to Kira is an amazing scene. It’s really well directed and acted.

Love this set on Bajor of the police type station. Nice scene too for both Sisko and this other guy – Sisko volunteering information BEFORE asking a favor is not an original moment. However, they play it so well it seems like no one in history has ever done anything this noble.

Odo just morphed into a rat on one of his many spying missions. I like the fact that he can shape shift into something much smaller. Take THAT T-1000!!!

Kira’s torture – man, those are quite the cuts. They’d have to be pretty blood thirsty in their torture. Seems excessive.

Admiral Chakotay? But the subtitles say “Chekote”? Curious. I think ‘memory alpha’ has jumped to a conclusion that there is a connection to Voyager; the closed captioner was probably working off the original script.

I kinda figured the Cardassians were behind all this but I suspected a different notice than helping the career of a guy who wants rid of the Federation. Seems like the Cardassians would have to know a ridiculous amount of Bajoran culture. My thought was that it would be a smart move simply to provoke a civil war.

This Chekote doesn’t look too Native American. Wow! Ordered to evac the station. I would indeed obey the order even though I don’t totally agree with it. I like Disco Sisko’s interpretation that some of his people can’t evac because they’ll still have equipment to pack. Leaving it behind would actually be a partial breach of the prime directive – IMHO.

To be continued… again… NICE! I think I’ve got just enough time during my daughter’s nap to make this work!!!

Part 3…

I like Disko’s little opening monologue about how tied the whole crew is to Bajor. The crying Lt is a good touch – we rarely see that much emotion on Star Trek. It’s also nice to see so many minorities in amongst the crew. I see five black Starfleet officers in here. Thumbs up!

The rest of the episode isn’t so great – but I am actually judging it alongside the opening two episodes of this season. As a third act to this story it’s a nice touch to have it all build to this “DS9 Hard” situation. However, it’s a bit jarring to suddenly have an episode that is so short on plot.

Nevertheless, season 2 is off to a great start. Rather than matching the quality of TNG it’s really started to choose its own path.

Progress, If Wishes were Horses, The Forsaken

The Bajorans want to mine one of their inhabited moons. But a few people don’t want to leave. This story feels out of date. I don’t mean from 1993 to 2013, I mean that even for 1993 this episode feels out of date. It’s not subtle enough to have any meaning – it’s just preachy. There are no layer to this story.

However, the subplot is way more interesting – way more unpredictable. Jake and Nog wind up with a ton of free Yamok sauce to sell because it’s a Cardassian condiment and there are no Cardassians around anymore. So they trade it for something. But the thing they trade it for, self-sealing stem bolts – Jake and Nog have no idea what it’s used for.

The story somehow manages to both veer off-course and be repetitive from this point on. If they were trying to accomplish that oxy-moron – I will say ‘job well done!’

Considering the innumerable cultures and species on Star Trek, I think it would be neat if this came up more often. Unknown technology that could be dangerous, could be useless. It think that would be a fun story to experience through the eyes of two teenagers as they try to get sensitive information from the main characters that we, the audience, take for granted.

Instead, they make a deal to trade the self-sealing stem bolts for some land and… I think they ran out of time. The story only vaguely wraps up. Wow. Horrible execution.

NEXT!

I like the word Holosuite. That’s a nice play on Holodeck; it adds a hint of commerce to it. I hate Holonovel as a term, it sounds like a step behind a Holodeck, not a step beyond.

Other than that… this episode is 90% crap followed by 5% decent and logical ending. The other 5% were just credits.

Lastly… The Forsaken… that title is way too dramatic for this story…

So Lwaxana Troi walks into a bar. She accuses a Ferengi of stealing her hair brush. Then Odo helps her figure out who done it.

When this episode started I kinda rolled my eyes at seeing Lwaxana Troi. Not because I dislike the character but rather because it felt like a desperate move by the producers of DS9 to recapture the magic of TNG.

Once Troi and Odo wind up on the elevator together I got pretty bored. They were stuck there forever. Each scene made me more and more annoyed – the story wasn’t moving anywhere. Although, I got a genuine thrill out of Troi admitting she actually slept with DaiMon Tog three years earlier.

Meanwhile, some probe has dumped a virus or something into DS9’s computer core and Bashir is escorting diplomats around. These are both some of the weakest filler I’ve ever come across on any TV show. Bashir’s story never even wraps up. He gets increasingly annoyed by them but then there’s a fire so he never has to actually deal with the problem.

Anyway, back to Troi and Odo. I’ll give credit where it’s due, great ending to this little story. Troi removes her wig and Odo liquefies. It gave us a lot of insight into the character of Odo without letting him look vulnerable in front of the rest of the regular cast. Lwaxana Troi let us see inside Odo  – a very effective and organic use of a woman whom any Trek fan sees as a mother.