Monthly Archives: April 2013

Indiscretion, Rejoined, Starship Down, Little Green Men

INDISCRETION

Kira and Dukat go searching for some lost POWs.

Breen at last! Breen at last! I’ve always wanted to see what these guys look like and now that I do I really like it.

There is no question that their uniforms are a total rip-off of Boushh from “Return of the Jedi” but by having one of them take off their mask during a rescue and be revealed as Kira in disguise (just as Leia did at Jabba’s palace while rescuing Han from frozen carbonite) they cross over from rip-off into homage territory. Smart!

REJOINED

The infamous Lesbian episode between Dax and her/his former wife.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of Avery Brooks’ acting but I must say I am a fan of Avery Brooks’ directing.

I like Bashir and Kira’s chat on the way out of Quark’s. They stop in this spot that we virtually never see in any other episodes and Kira does this interesting lean against the curved doorway. It’s a beautiful shot featuring that’s incredibly “real”. The way Kira feels comfortable in this spot make DS9 actually feel like it’s her home and she’s become used to it. At the same time I could analyze it from a political or post-colonial viewpoint and say that Kira, as someone who probably sees this station as an offensive place that symbolizes the atrocities committed against the Bajorans can at last find comfort here making it an even more powerful piece of cinematography. But I won’t go quite that deep into it. They did this in the last episode when Kira was talking to Odo – it lets Kira really relax and slouch the way she wants to. They seem to have translated Visitor’s dance training into Kira’s less formal decorum and body language – it’s really working well.

The cut from Dax getting dressed to the reception is a nice flourish.

Regarding O’Brien, I find it hilarious how costume designers (and therefore the people at Starfleet command who make decisions about rank insignia) can’t make up their mind. I read that the DS9 episode about Tribbles references the change in Klingon foreheads; they should do that with regard to non-com ranks and the crazy politics inside Starfleet command.

STARSHIP DOWN

The Defiant faces off against Jem’hadar ships inside a gas giant.

I like this episode but it could have been so much better.

Avery Brooks is not at his best here, it feels like his style and what the director wanted are at odds. His way of delivering tension isn’t the same as Alexander Singer’s and it feels like I’m watching footage of a rough Take 1 all the time.

At one point in the story, Quark finds an undetonated torpedo lodged in the ship’s hull – he decides that he can defuse it. That really felt out of character. I totally believe that Quark is capable of defusing it but he needs a reason. I think Quark should have said that he would rather die quickly at the moment the torpedo explodes than slowly thus giving him a reason to stay in the room with it.

This episode needed a more frenetic pace. I know what the were trying to do, make a single episode focused on the ins and outs of a battle onboard a starship. If that’s the case though it really needed to be faster, more desperate. They should have had the episode take place in real time. The encounter with the Jem’Hadar should have come 5 seconds after the start and never relented.

At first the whole storyline of Kira speaking to an unsconscious Sisko felt like the writers were searching for something these two could do but then it evolved into a very good moment for Kira as she expressed how much he mattered to her as the Emissary. Similarly, I love the ending. I like how their relationship has evolved and I really admire the fact that there is no romantic tension between them.

LITTLE GREEN MEN

This episode is US government disinformation designed to further hide the truth about the Roswell, New Mexico landing.

Any intelligent secular person knows that what really happened in the 1950s was that a Triumvirate of Vegans traveled here through their Einstein-Rosen bridge in response to the Nazi Germany’s radio signal which was broadcast during the 1936 Olympics. Open your eyes, people!

B+

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The Way of the Warrior, The Visitor, Hippocratic Oath

THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR

Worf.

The new opening credits are outstanding. The station is a living entity at last. And the rest of this episode echoes that improvement.

I definitely like Sisko’s look more now: shaved head + goatee. It’s risky tough; a shaved head on a good body makes you look extra fit. If you put on just a few pounds though the shaved head can make a guy suddenly look tubby. Thankfully, the Starfleet uniform is the single most slimming outfits ever devised by mankind.

Nice to see Julian and Dax getting promotions, but I kind of like it when we see WHY characters are promoted. I think Sisko proved himself on DS9 over the past few years to earn his Captain pip so that was clear. It would be nice to know what Bashir did other than putting in his time. It actually always bothered me that Bashir was a Lieutenant (j.g.) and yet CHIEF medical officer. I think it would have really added something if they said he was the only JG chief medical officer in Starfleet, which would at first sound like a compliment, until someone adds he took an assignment no one else wanted. But I digress…

I just noticed that the prop bottles of blood wine are motor oil containers – that it AWESOME.

This is some top notch writing for Worf. Too often he is merely used as a warmonger in conversations so that Picard’s course of action looks to have been the diplomatic route. There’s a great YouTube video that compiles all of Worf’s ideas being shut down. Even though this is a Worf centred story everyone in the cast has something to do. I wish the people who wrote the TNG movies had this ability to integrate multiple characters into a single story. Each of the crew participates in a way that only they can. Odo has been spying on Worf and has thusly deduced that Worf has learned crucial information. Dax is a Klingon at heart and gives sage advice to Worf. Even Kira, while doing something she hates (trying to relax) contributes a lot to the tone of the story.

I will be surprised if DS9 ever does another episode this well.

THE VISITOR

Sisko is taken to another universe (or something) and Jake spends the rest of his life trying to get him back.

I have a soft spot for any Trek episode that lets us see the future of the future.

Now I know for a fact that about a year from now ALL of Starfleet switches to the gray shouldered uniform. However, Nog is wearing an old TNG style uniform in this alternate future. So it appears that one of the things that Sisko affects by being around are the uniform choices made by Starfleet. But how? And why? Maybe Sisko is on the committee of Starfeleet Captains who gets to test out new uniforms and he approves the gray ones? Intriguing.

Well, let’s be a bit more reaonable. Sisko, in the universe where he is alive, helps negotiate peace with the Klingons which brings about an alliance to bring down the Dominion. Thus Sisko does (more or less) cause a war. So, perhaps these gray topped Starfleet uniforms are war based? Does Starfleet dish out new uniforms when a war starts to help improve morale? Maybe the gray uniforms actually have some kind of a war-based purpose?

I’m PROBABLY over thinking this.

I like these “All good things” uniforms from the 25th century because of the fact that I DON’T like them. I wouldn’t personally choose them as a piece of clothing but I BELIEVE that they would be a style at some point in the future. They make sense because they make no sense.

HIPPOCRATIC OATH

Bashir tries to cure the Jem’hadar of their addiction to Ketracel white.

It’s almost a predictable story – not the direction is takes but more just the fact that it was made at all. What makes this story work and gives it a bit of life is the insight into the Jem’hadar power structure. I like the “First” and how he cares about his men in an oblique way. He wants to make their lives better based on his own values but he has to be fairly cruel to get them there. It’s a great ending where he sets off to kill them and put them out of their misery.

Facets, The Adversary

FACETS

The crew let’s themselves be possessed by the previous Dax hosts and allow Jadzia to meet them.

Basically, this episode is an acting exercise. I would actually say that Sidig is the standout. He only gets a handful of lines but he nails them and really creates a person. I can see why he’s had a decent post Trek career. I thought he was amazing in Syriana.

I am definitely looking forward to Avery Brooks as a murderer. Here it comes… Don’t disappoint… Please… The eyes… Damn, creep eyes. The lighting is selling it. It brings out the black in Brooks’ eyes.

Kind of a weird story all in all but it kept my interest. They have made Dax into a very real woman. When the show began she was a little bit innocuous and not full of any real personality – felt like her job was to just stand there and be pretty sometimes. She has come a long way and subtly developed into a real character without the need to be flashy. She reminds me of a lot of the over achieving girls I went to school with who were very insecure deep down and this episode brings that to light.

THE ADVERSARY

A Changeling stowaway tries to force the Defiant to start a war.

I like how DS9 has paved its own way with season finales. TNG found it’s footing with cliffhangers but by the end of the series those cliffhangers seemed to be dictating where the story would go. For instance, in Descent, I think they came up with the cliffhanger (Lore’s reveal) and then wrote a story around it.

DS9 has decided to just make good, exciting episodes for the season finales. They end on an ominous note that foreshadows what’s to come next season and so far they’ve done a good job of following through on those hints.

There is, however, one real flaw in this story. Once the crew realizes they have a Changeling on board they begin systemically sweeping the ship with phasers to try and catch him. A good quarter of the story is devoted to this and several crew members are incapacitated in the process. THEN Odo realizes that if they just take some blood from every crew member they will be able to reveal who the Changelling is. It’s rather annoying that if Odo had realized that fifteen minutes ago we could have saved a lot of trouble. So it seems the story was just treading water to fill in some time.

I really like the TNG episode “The Wounded” where the Cardassians were first introduced. I wasn’t crazy about the fact that we had never heard of this war or species until then even though it apparently took place only about five years earlier. The Federation-Tzenkethi war that is introduced here gets on my nerves as well. What bothers me is that Sisko really plays it up and acts like it was a horrific war, even though no one has ever mentioned it before.

Nevertheless, as I said, good episode.

Explorers, Family Business, Shakaar

EXPLORERS

Sisko rebuilds an ancient Bajoran space craft.

THIS is what every stand-alone Star Trek episode should be…

It builds a character.
-We learn of Sisko’s scientific interests as well as his respect for Bajoran culture.

It allows that character to develop a stronger relationship with another character.
-Jake and Sisko get some NON-forced story time together.

It is interesting from a scientific perspective while also being accessible to mainstream audiences.
-Solar sails are a real possibility and it’s cool seeing Star Trek connect to the real world like that.

It has a twist ending.
-The great thing about Sisko making it all the way to Cardassia is that the Cardassians knew it all along but kept it a secret – such a dick move.

It has a good subplot with a beginning, middle, and end.
-Bashir finding out that the woman who bested him in school is jealous of his career. Great moment for him and an nice life lesson for the audience.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Quark’s mom is stepping out of line.

You know someone should really send a DVD of all the Ferengi related Deep Space 9 episodes to the Republican Party and tell them that even the Ferengi have a regulatory body that oversees business.

Even… The… Ferengi.

The Ferengi won’t let women have jobs, speak, travel, dress or earn money – but EVEN THE FERENGI have enough common sense to realize that a free market cannot be allowed to govern itself under the simplistic code of capitalism. Seriously Republicans, look whose side you’re on here!

If I could have only one Star Trek prop it would be one of those latinum depositories that the Ferengi have in their homes. I would keep it just inside my front door.

Now that I’m really staring at this Ferengi house – I think Peter Jackson ripped off the set design when he built Bilbo’s Hobbit hole.

SHAKAAR

Kira is told to ell a farmer how to farm. EXCITEMENT, SHE WROTE.

I am 25% done this episode as we close act 1 – and the thing has been entirely dialogue – except for the dart game that is. I can’t stay awake. No! Wait! Kira just picked up some dirt and let it fall out if her hand! An action scene!

And… we’re back to the darts. You’re killing me DS9.

Okay, now we’re a third of the way into the story and the plot is still only about Kira’s mission to retrieve farming equipment. I’m not even exaggerating. I wish the story was more interesting so there was something to exaggerate.

I’m expecting a big twist soon – they’re using farm equipment to build puppy killing machines or something. Anything… Please!!! If you’re going to do a slow-burn story it has to be compelling for some reason while we wait.

Crossing the halfway mark – Kira recommends a meeting between Shakaar and Winn. Oh good, I was really hoping for more talking.

At least there is some weird sexual tension between Kira and Shakaar. He looks like he could be her grandfather. Kira’s age is a bit of an anomaly – she’s probably supposed to be almost 40 but she looks great for her age. I remember seeing Nana Visitor play a love interest for Richard Mulligan on “Empty Nest” several years before this. Wait, what was I talking about?

Punch… Elbow… Hammer punch… THANK GOD! Kira is standing up to Winn. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Back to the dart game. O’Brien is playing a Vulcan Lieutenant Commander in a blue uniform. I wonder if he’s a scientist or a doctor? He doesn’t seem to care about O’Brien’s injury – must be a science officer.

Sisko meets with Winn. Two weeks have passed? She’s declared martial law?? The rebellion is spreading??? I’m okay with these developments but they’re coming out of nowhere. It’s interesting as a development of how dangerous Winn is but this should have been setup over several episodes. Or they could have written this ep as a long saga – but this is terrible. An absolute mess… and yet it has some surprisingly good music during the climactic action scene.

Through the Looking Glass, Improbable Cause, The Die is Cast

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Back to the mirror-mirror universe.

Right off the bat let me say something. I always HATE human clothing on Star Trek. I love Starfleet uniforms but every single other piece of clothing is looks like my dog ate some crayola’s and puked on a haberdasherers sketch pad. BUT, I like Smiley’s outfit. Maybe too much denim but I can see someone picking it out.

There’s a little too much talking at the start of this story but at least it builds to Sisko finding out he will get a chance to see Jennifer again. It pays off because the tone change from all that dialogue to Sisko’s sudden sincerity is a nice dichotomy.

Something I don’t get… Sisko and Smiley are inside Smiley’s ship and take a lengthy turbolift ride during a conversation. But looking at this ship from the outside there are no more than a couple of decks.

Dax’s hair is so much better in this universe. Why must so many female characters on Star Trek pull their hair back into such innocuous buns? So Sisko and Dax “load the torpedo bay” together. Wow. I’m glad they had the guts to make Sisko a real human being.

Anyway, my only problem with these episodes is that they don’t go ALL OUT. Obviously this isn’t a scientifically accurate mirror universe. It’s absolutely ridiculous to assume that all the major players from regular DS9 are all so intertwined in the other universe. It’s ridiculous that they even EXIST in both universe’s. So, I’m okay with that – I accept that. These episodes are good, or at least designed to be good, on a sheer FUN level. So I wish they wouldn’t spend so much time on exposition. Just show us the scenes with the sex and the deception and the executions and the action. Skip the rest. Too much talky talky.

IMPROBABLE CAUSE & THE DIE IS CAST

I’m just going to review these as a pair. And WHAT A PAIR! Someone tries to murder Garak and Odo’s investigation leads him to a secret military alliance by the Cardassians and the Romulans.

Right away, let me say THANK YOU to everyone involved for not putting “Part 1” in this episode title of Improbable Cause. The story is so much better because it seems as though the story is wrapping up during the last five minute of Improbable Cause but then the story twists off into an awesome second part.

I can’t even say much to review this two parter because it’s so well done, so INCREDIBLY well done that it all feels organic. You don’t even notice WHY it’s so good as you’re watching it, you just know it is. There are small things like when Odo is meeting with his Cardassian contact who insists on not being seen. It’s beautifully photographed and the set really adds mystery to the atmosphere.

Tain’s speech as his armada is getting whiped out is fantastic; such great delivery. I’m glad DS9 has been developping the Dominion through grand gestures rather than lots and lots of small ones. It’s a smart move as a terrorist or evil empire – let people relax and think things are okay before you strike and shake them to their core – then start the cycle again.

It’s cool seeing Leland Orser because he was just starting to establish himself in movies. It was only a few months after this that Se7en came out.

Destiny, Prophet Motive, Visionary, Distant Voices

DESTINY

An ancient Bajoran prophecy predicts that current events will cause the wormhole’s destruction.

Cool episode. They did some thinking outside the box on this one. The nice thing is that this episode finished on a high note – the prophecy is proven true, just requiring a different interpretation.

Call me a suffragist (assuming that’s a word) but I liked that ALL THREE Cardassian scientists were women. It’s a nice change versus a typical group of 3 male guests or the even worse and pandering: 2 males plus a token 1 female.

PHOPHET MOTIVE

Grand Nagus Zek starts turning the Rules of Acquisition into a commie rag!

At first this episode seems like a whole whack of nonsense but then it actually turns into a decent little story. There’s not a lot to say about it but it’s a competent and entertaining little Ferengi focused episode. “little Ferengi”… that was kind of rude.

VISIONARY

Chief O’Brien has visions of the near future.

Kind of a common Star Trek concept but I like this episode. It works because the plot keeps changing directions and that prevents the ending from being predictable. O’Brien, thanks to his visions, is able to change the future, right off the bat. It’s so common in time travel stories (and I mean not just the Trek ones) for attempts to change the future to be held until the final act. This story takes on a whole extra dimension because the plot is continuously evolving thanks to O’Brien’s actions.

It’s not perfectly executed (the ending is a little anti-climactic relative to the more exciting vision of the climax we saw earlier) but this remains a solid episode.

DISTANT VOICES

Bashir gets attacked then he starts aging fast.

I don’t even want to dignify this episode with a review. I’ve seen bad episodes of Trek where a weird idea never pans out or it’s just too quirky for its own good. But this… this piece of garbage is junk. All around junk. It feels formulaic right from the start so there isn’t even any intrigue that it will BECOME interesting. It’s junk. You know it’s a dream so there are NO STAKES. We know that everything we see doesn’t matter UNTIL the end. If I could DELETE this episode from my DVD just to make certain I never accidentally watch it again, I would.

I consider this episode WORSE than Shades of Grey. WORSE.

Life Support, Heart of Stone

LIFE SUPPORT

Bashir slowly turns Vedek Bereil into a robot to keep him alive.

Problem here is Bashir. We didn’t get a chance to see him struggle with what he’s doing. His dilemma is logical but still comes out of nowhere. There is no character focus in this episode, no main character. As a result we never really get an idea of who is going through what, they all just seem like a bunch of archetypes in the midst of a morality play. But the story is totally saved by the following dialogue…

NOG: What could be more important than dom-jot?
JAKE: I have a date
NOG: Ohh. Well that’s different.
JAKE: It is?
NOG: Yeah, money is money but women are better.
JAKE: Is that a rule of acquisition?
NOG: It’s a personal rule. So, who is she?
JAKE: Leanne
NOG: Leanne. Way to go Jake! So, what is the name of my date? I hope she’s as cute as Leanne.
JAKE: YOUR date?
NOG: She has a friend, right.
JAKE: I’m sure she does.
NOG: Then tell her to bring her along.
JAKE: Nog, that’s not what I had in mind.
NOG: That’s because you were confused. Would you rather the three of us go out?
JAKE: When you put it that way…
NOG: Exactly!

HEART OF STONE

127 Hours – Star Trek version.

The episode’s better than you would think. It actually reminds me of a two-person play on a spartan set where if you just suspend your disbelief it’s really engrossing.

Regarding Nog’s subplot about getting into Starfleet: for a moment, I was troubled by the lack of foreshadowing. All of a sudden Nog wants into Starfleet? He seems like a petty criminal at times with no ambition or ability. When Sisko says that Starfleet is just a whim for Nog I totally agreed and it felt like a whim by the writers as well – one that wasn’t properly planned for. But then Nog explains that he wants to join Starfleet because he doesn’t want to end up like his father, and it suddenly turns into this amazing scene. This is the dramatic Ferengi story I’ve been waiting for. Awesome. I love how a life in Starfleet, free from money is a back-up plan for a Ferengi because he know he’ll fail at capitalism.