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.

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