Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DS9 #15

Coming at you with a pattern and a fresh pair of atoms, it's another step on our path to review every single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a task which, if you remember last week, angried up my blood something fierce. Thankfully, this weeks quartet is a much better cross-section of the show and allows us the chance to peek at some long-term plot elements in their early states that spool out from here. So without any further ado-ackadoo, let's to it, shall we?


"You're a coward. You're afraid to stand alone."

Well, well. A lot to cover here. It turns out that, after last season's "The Collaborator," Vedek Bareil has become one of Kai Winn's most trusted advisers (no mean feat, considering how she tried to ruin him in that episode) in what would have been all but unthinkable two years ago--an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty between the Cardassians and Bajor. This is a major step, after all, and is an indication of how far things have come along.

It's also an indication of how delicate everything is, because someone tries to blow up Kai Winn and Bariel and Bariel dies, and with it, the prospect of peace with Cardassia.

Only not quite. Bashir is able to revive Bariel, kinda, and continue the peace process. It seems almost miraculous . . .and then it quits working, and another extraordinary measure has to be taken, then another, and another, and all the time, Bariel is slipping away and there might be a chance to save him, he refuses to stop, and Winn is afraid to stand on her own and finish the negotiations, even though it ensures that he'll die

Oh, and there's a stupid B-plot wherein Jake and Nog go on a double date and hilarity does not ensue. These kind of hijinks are really kind of weird when you consider how things are going to change with regards to that dynamic in the very next episode.

This is a really damn good episode, stupid b-plot aside. Oddly enough though, it's not really a Kira/Bariel episode, as much as it's a Bashir vs. Winn episode with Bariel turning into a vegetable as the football between them. Winn can't handle the negotiations herself and Bashir's ethics will only let him go so far in keeping him alive. There's a lot going on here--the peace treaty is actually a big plot turn, even though it's not exactly foregrounded ever. We get a lot more sense of Winn in her new role (not necessarily as a schemer--she's got what she wanted, for now anyways) as someone with responsibility to go along with her power and she may not have the chops necessary to handle it all.

It doesn't hurt that we've also now said goodbye to Bashir as callow twit for good and all now, and he's ever so slowly moving into a new role as the voice of ethical behaviour among Our Heroes, which is something with a good deal more legs than his previous characterisation.


"Of course it's your fault. Everything that goes wrong here is your fault. It says so in your contract."

Odo watches Kira get trapped in a frankly rubbish growing crystal. Nog undergoes a major character change.

I'm gonna go ahead and spoil this episode here, because, well, there's no way to talk about it otherwise. Odo and Kira follow a shop down and she gets trapped in the aforementioned crap crystal which gives them an opportunity to talk things over.

It's better than it sounds--as Odo tries desperately to break through the crystal with various bits of technobabble, he shares bits of his life that we didn't know about--for one thing, his name is actually Cardassian for "nothing," he kayaks with O'Brien on his off hours and, well . . .he's in love with Kira.

Now, depending on how you feel about this last this is either the beginning of some serious shading to Odo and Kira's relationship, or you see it as the beginning of the end and something which generally diminishes both characters rather than adds to them. There are arguments for both sides, but as far as how I feel about this, this is generally going to pay off in a better episode next season ("Crossfire") and it works better when its not foregrounded and made explicit/acted upon. But that's just me.

I should also point out here that "Kira" is not really Kira, but Big Momma, paying Odo a visit so they can reprise their whole "These are my friends/your link to them won't last/Yes it will/No it won't" dialogue we remember from "The Search, Part 2" because we hadn't really hit on that recently (we had two hours to spend talking about how much being homeless sucks, and there are only so many hours in the day as it were) and also, incidentally to suggest (subconsciously, in this case) that the Changelings are in the Alpha Quadrant.

Nothing to worry about, though.

That's the A-plot sorted, now what about the B-Plot? Nog.

So, remember how Nog was the comic releif? The rapscallion who was always in danger of making Jake a Bad Kid, because he himself was a bad kid? Yeah, well all that changes here. After failing to bribe Sisko to sponsor his application to Starfleet Academy, he relentlessly tries to earn his application, by doing grunt work, but when he refuses to reveal his reason for wanting to be in Starfleet, Sisko shuts him down and forces the truth out.

Nog doesn't want to end up like his father--Ferengi who have no skill to make a profit in life as good as have no status (this is a bit rubbish, because you kind of need a plurality of skills to make a culture work, but really, that ship sailed ages ago on Star Trek, so best not to open that can right now) so Rom, being a great engineer, doesn't amount to a hill of beans among his own people, and Nog doesn't want that for himself.

This is kind of a big deal, as Nog's determination to prove himself will lead to an extended character arc going all the the way into the final season of the show, which is pretty impressive considering he was just a foil for Jake at first.

In all, this is an unassuming episode, as it's very talky and doesn't really have any explosive status-quo juddering moments, but it doesn't move a few characters forward in very meaningful ways that really define them for seasons to come, so if you can survive the special effects deficiency of the growing crystal, it's well worth a look.


"I took your overt irritability toward me as a signal that you wished to pursue some physical relationship."

So we haven't really addressed the whole business of Sisko as the Emissary of the Prophets in any great detail at this point. Oh, sure it gets the occasional bit of lip-service here and there, but when you consider that the Bajorans have their religion intimately included in so much, one would imagine that this would have been a major issue by now.

Well, now it is. In the wake of the Bajoran/Cardassian peace treaty, three Cardassian scientists (one of whom will go on to command Babylon 5 a few years down the pike) come to help collaborate on the establishing a communications relay in the Gamma Quadrant. Naturally, for this they decide to engage the Defiant, because the best choice for a science mission is the ship that was explicitly not built for science missions, which is the same logic that I employ when I use matches to drive nails.

In any event, while all this is going on, a Bajoran prophecy comes to light that three vipers and a sword of stars and how it's going to totally fuck up the wormhole and a whole lot of pressure comes to bear on Sisko, who, in an ironic twist when looked at from later seasons, downplays it, because he's a a Starfleet officer first and an Emissary about ninth.

In the midst of all this, one of the Cardassian scientists is an agent of the Obsidian Order and has to be winkled out, and another of the Cardassian scientists crushes hard on O'Brien because Cardassian foreplay involves a lot of bitter arguments and (it is assumed) fantastic rage-fucking afterward.

This is . . .not a bad episode. It's ropey in places and has some painfully awful explaining of bits we'd already figured out, but there's some good bits in there as well and it's an agreeable way to pass an hour. The Emissary stuff gets a much better vehicle for a store in next season's "Accession," but this at least shows the people who write it are willing to ask the question.


"Not again."

The Nagus tries to make a buck off the Prophets, but they adjust his mind and he rewrites the rules of Ferengi society and it's up to Quark to stop him fucking everything up.

Yes, well, this is our Ferengi Komedy episode for the week and it's just what that entails, namely it's not all that funny. Except . . .the bit where they go into the wormhole and send up the bit where Sisko encounters the Prophets for the first time is pretty damn funny, actually.

Unfortunately, one has to soldier through a lot before one gets there, and really, Ferengi comedy is lost on me. One of these days I will explain why Quark episodes are worthwhile and Ferengi episodes are full of the most god-awful excuse for comedy ever and that the two can exist cheek by jowl is frankly amazing, but not today.

It's Ferengi comedy--you either like jokes about Space Jews from the Borscht Belt or you don't

That's all for this week! Join us next week as it's time to torment O'Brien with a bit of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff in "Visionary"; Bashir has the worst birthday imaginable in "Distant Voices"; We return to the Mirror Universe for "Through the Looking Glass"; and we get the first part of the best bit of this season (indeed the entire run) in "Improbable Cause." It's going to me so positive over here you'll wonder if you're reading the right blog.

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