Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DS9 #3

I left this lie a little bit, but I feel it fair to take this moment to say hello to the two new followers who added me (twelve, now. Awesome!) and thank Kurt Busiek for stopping by, utterly improbable as that may seem considering this blog flies underneath the underneath the radar.

With that out of the way, here's the next installment of our comprehensive coverage of Deep Space Nine. This week . . .four of a kind, and not the good kind, either.


"There's nothing wrong with a good delusion."

One of the things about shows with ensemble casts is that they will typically devote one episode a season to each character in turn, with the goal of exploring the character and giving them a featured role to show that everyone is equally important and interesting and worth liking. For instance, DS9 annually did what they called their "Let's torture O'Brien" episode, wherein we struggled along with our likeable everyman as he was taken for a walk across hell on a spiderweb.

45 seconds into Bashir's first feature episode he manages to overclock his usual pompous assholery well into scientific notation. It is another three and a half minutes before the credits, so really, we're off to a roaring start, aren't we?

Anyways, Na'Toth from that other space station show is making everyone's lives miserable because she continues to insist the prisoner she was guarding is still alive despite being dead. Bashir gets possessed by the dead prisoner which makes him several times more competent than he usually is and a lot easier to get along with. What's a little murder for a gentle personality adjustment.

Meanwhile in the B Plot, Odo flips his shit when he encounters Lt. Premmin, Starfleet's security liason rolls in, acting like a know-it-all asshole the whole time. This will, of course seem like deja vu when it happens again almost exactly two years later when Eddington shows up, and when you consider that Primmin only lasts two damn episodes, it's a bit of a tempest in a teacup. Anyways, this is a rather obvious song and dance--The Cop Who Plays By The Rules Teams With A Cop Who Plays By His Own Rules And Both Of Them Learn Something, and it's worth exactly this paragraph worth of discussion.

This episode is really aggressively mediocre. The whole business with Bashir getting taken over is needlessly complicated (involving that hoary old cliche about not using your full brain capacity) and really, it's not worth getting into. Villain Bashir underplays it (to the point that it's pretty much Bashir, talking slower than usual) when a little scenery chewing would have been welcomed and it turns out the whole thing is in service to a hijack, which is severely underwhelming.

Oh, and the damn thing doesn't even have an ending. Na'Toth just zaps the container with her prisoner's brain ghost and everyone stands around like she just farted a John Phillips Souza march from behind her left earlobe. It may be me, but "mild amusement" would not be the expected reaction at a summary execution. Then again, like me, they could just be happy it's over.


"One man's 'priceless' is another man's 'worthless.'"

There are good and bad episodes of every TV show. And the better the TV show, the worse the misfires feel when you see them. Whatever else I can say about Deep Space Nine, I can say when they miss the mark, they do so spectacularly.

If you've never had the pleasure of seeing this episode, you've never had the metaphorical equivalent of a lit blowtorch shoved into your rectum. It is awful beyond my ability to convey.

Here it is in a nutshell, the Wadi, let by a guy who looks like Ron Jeremy if Ron Jeremy had "KICK ME" written across his forehead shows up and it turns out his entire society is all about games, so they spend ages at Quarks until he decides to cheat them and then Not Ron Jeremy takes Sisko, Kira and Dax and plugs them into the game and oh sweet holy shining fuck I hate this god damned episode.

Here's all you need to know: The game bits are annoying and stupid, and consist of scene after endless scene of Our Heroes trying to figure out what they're supposed to do. It's done on the cheap, and thus looks boring as hell. Oh, and at the end of it it's revealed they were never in any danger because "it's just a game," meaning that this episode was actually twice as pointless as it seemed and any emotional investment you may have had (your poor sap) was utterly pointless.

There, now you know the plot. Here's my review: Fuck this episode. MOVING ON.


"Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity. I certainly never have."

At least once every season, the people who make Deep Space Nine, labouring under the possibly drug-induced delusion that people wanted to see them, made many episodes that involved Quark and the Ferengi. They were obviously hatefully wrong about that, as Ferengi episodes tend to be full of appallingly broad comedy which is twice as objectionable when you consider they're basically Space Jews and the whole drive of their culture is to make easy and obvious points about runaway capitalism and oh dear lord wasn't "Move Along Home" bad enough?

The Nagus, the ruler of the Ferengi (played by Wallace Shawn, even more annoying here than My Dinner With Andre) comes to the station and enacts a hopelessly elaborate plot to teach his son a lesson by making Quark the new Nagus and faking his own death. Obviously, he isn't actually the new Nagus and the old one isn't really dead this episode's in the DVD player right now and I should be paying more attention but all I want to do is beat my head against the desk until sweet blissful darkness envelops me.

In the name of preventing a self-inflicted concussion, we shall leave it at that. If you like ten Shylocks around a table all trying win the prize for "who's got the most irritating high-pitched voice" then you will like this episode and probably the other twenty times they did this over the course of the seven years. God knows I don't.


"Don't thank me. I already regret it."

Ironically enough, while this episode isn't great (it's kind of bullshit, actually) the stuff surrounding it is not that bad. For one thing, although we didn't know it at the time, we do get a lot of pretty accurate information about Odo's people--they call themselves changelings, they're rather judgmental, and they don't like outsiders.

The rest is complete claptrap, of course--the people we finally see wouldn't let the person in question hang around with them and they certainly don't go around making lockets for them and . . .

Well, I'm getting ahead of myself. A guy named Croden (who very desperately wants to be and probably should have been played by Brad Dourif) interrupts a meeting between Quark and a pair of Miradorn (another attempt at introducing an alien race, and my God are we running to the law of diminishing returns very hard now) killing one of the Miradorn before Odo can bust them. This makes the surviving Miradorn go ever so slightly nuts and everyone makes frowny faces as we try to work out what to do with Croden.

Odo, tempted by the knowledge Croden has about his people, eventually spirits Croden back to the Gamma Quadrant, wherein we learn that Croden was declared and enemy of the state among his people. The state killed his wife and nearly killed his daughter, but he squirreled her away so he could collect her later.

You see where this is going, don't you? Croden's child is an adorable little moppet who melt's Odo's heart, because heaven knows he can't be a bluff craggy asshole all the time and so Odo will honour Croden's last request and see that she's taken care of and it's all serviceable enough, but it's so very very rote and boring and it's another one of those episodes that even when you see it for the first time you feel like you've seen it a dozen times.

It's . . .well, for an Odo episode, there will be several dozen better ones than this and none of them involve such blatant manipulation. Well, not many. A couple. I don't know.

Well, that's it for this time. Join us next week when things get a little zombified in "Battle Lines." We get our first O'Brien feature in "The Storyteller," a decent Kira episode in "Progress." And finally, in "If Wishes Were Horses," the dancing dwarf from Twin Peaks and Mr. Wu from Deadwood show up in an episode I promise is far less interesting than the two guest stars might indicate. Please pass the ketchup, I think it's going to rain!

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