Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DS9 #16

Winding like an endless river, the time is now again. For our latest stop on the never-ending soul train that is the Prattle's journey to review every single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we close the books on April with a quartet of rather splendid episodes, actually. So much so that I'm going to quit hemming and hawing and get right down to it.


"I hate temporal mechanics."

We haven't tormented O'Brien in ever so long, really, so let's bomb him with something so intricate it may as well have come from Steven Moffat. The Romulans have come to the station to get all the intelligence they can about the Dominion, which was their price they exacted for giving Starfleet a cloaking device for the Defiant.

Well, that's the theory, anyways. In practice, the Romulans just come in and act like real shitheads to everyone and annoy Our Heroes. Well, except for O'Brien, who's having these odd time-shifts were he jumps ahead a few moments into the future at odd intervals. This wouldn't be too big a deal--hey, who doesn't get drunk and time travel a little, eh?--except that in one time-jump he sees the station destroyed and the wormhole collapse.

So it's up to O'Brien to try to work it all out and prevent that, and since there's three more episodes this week--SPOILER--he does. The mechanics of it are so much technobabble and aren't that important, and there's a good twist that results that, so far as I'm aware, is never followed up on but . . .you know, it's not a bad episode, really. It hums right along, never gets too tangled up in technobabble, and actually gives us some good scenes of the Romulans winding up Our Heroes.

There's better to come, though. Just wait.


"The trick is discovering who is guilty of what."

Bashir turns 30, then gets his brain leeched by an alien. I think on my 30th birthday I went out for pizza and got a bit drunk, hence, I win.

This is not a bad episode, not least because of Garak (I quite liked his revelation that Cardassian murder mysteries say that everyone is guilty, the only question is who is guilty of what) and because things get very weird and abstract as we're trapped in Bashir's head while he's dying of old age, trying to work out what's going on, and Our Heroes, which are avatars of various elements of his personality, aren't really all that helpful.

Though these "what is reality" episode would become more commonplace on Voyager, this iteration of this plot isn't too bad and looked at in light of later revelations about Bashir's character two seasons on from this, it takes on a very different tenor than it does if you start from episode 1.


"Do I get a vote?"
"Of course you do--it just doesn't count."

Hey, remember when we went to the Mirror Universe again last season? Well, this is our second visit, and while it's not a bad episode, it does set a few troubling precedents.

1) Everyone In The Mirror Universe Is Fucking Stupid: Seriously, I understand that the driving element of the Mirror Universe is barbarous violence and they're not subtle, but honestly, the collective brain activity of the Mirror Universe wouldn't equal the brain power of a pound of dirt.

I say this with the following proof: One, they forget that they have Orbs, because by the time of the penultimate Mirror Universe episode they come back to steal one even though it was mentioned in "Crossover." Here, we see a ship de-cloak, except by the last Mirror Universe they don't seem to have cloaking devices. So what the hell, y'all?

2) There Is No Subtlety In The Mirror Universe And An Hour Of That Is A Bit Much. Everyone tries to camp it up when they're playing the Mirror versions of themselves and that can be a bit much to take--oh sure, one camp guy or girl is one thing, but when you have a LOT of them all being loud and chewing scenery it's a lot to take.

That said . . .this isn't a bad one. In fact, it's the most action-packed of the Mirror romps (there's a decent space battle next season in "Shattered Mirror," but the rest of the episode really makes my head hurt) and gives us a chance to see Sisko kicking ass.

Here's the plot: Mirror O'Brien kidnaps our Sisko (the "Crossover" Sisko having been recently killed) to help persuade his wife (who is not dead on the Mirror side) to not finish a sensor array that could pinpoint the resistance. Action and dual-wielding disruptors and shit ensues.

The nicest thing I can say about "Looking Glass" is that it's cracking good fun. It gets a bit less so when you consider the three episodes that follow it, but generally, this one is pretty good. We have Sisko as an action hero, we have some decent scenes with he and Mirror Mrs. Sisko, and the whole thing hums along with such brio that the weak bits really don't register until a good time afterward.

We could (and will) do worse.


"Yes I thought you might appreciate it, on an aesthetic level"

This episode is part one of a two-parter that was the thing that turned DS9 into appointment viewing for me, honestly. More on that when we talk about Part 2 next week, but for now, I felt like it was important for y'all to get that.

Things start out normal--Bashir and Garak having lunch, Garak saying he doesn't "get" Julius Caesar (thus earning the sympathy of first-year Shakespeare students everywhere, no doubt) and ambling off back to his shop.

Which then explodes.

An investigation is launched into it, but Garak is his usual evasive self, and really doesn't help things (obviously it wasn't disgruntled Shakespeare teachers), and when you pull that shit with Odo, you're really trading on not much patience, really.

But working on it, Odo stumbles in to something else--a LOT of Garak's former co-workers have been dying mysteriously the past few days. What's more, there are indications that the Romulans were behind it, and what the hell could that mean?

Well, Odo assumes a Romulan/Cadassian war may be in the offing, so he and Garak pile into a runabout and go to find Enabran Tain (late of "The Wire") in the hopes he's not already a victim of this.

They find him.

On a Romulan Warbird. But he's not a prisoner, oh no: He's leading a join operation between Cardassian and Romulan intelligence agencies--turns out they've been developing a fleet for ages (since at least "Defiant"--see how things tie together?) To make matters even more complicated their real plan is finally unveiled. They're going to stage a first strike on the Dominion--taking out the founders with their first assault on the Founders homeworld.

So, Odo and Garak are unable to contact anyone, and the only person who know what's about to happen, have no way to contact anyone and . . .oh yeah. Garak went back over to Tain, which means it's just Odo now.

"Improbable Cause" is fucking awesome, because it raises the stakes and dangles a number of red herrings out there, each of which would have been a satisfying plot line in and of itself--Garak's past, the Romulan/Cardassian war, the first strike against the Dominion--any of these would be "Holy shit!" moments, but by lining them all up and continually raising the stakes, it really build to a moment whhere you are DYING to see the next part.

And we will soon enough! Join us next week for the denouement of this here episode when "The Die Is Cast"; Sisko, his new beard, and Jake go all Kon-Tiki in "Explorers"; My soul is withered by some Ferengi Komedi with "Family Business"; and we wrap it all up by remembering Bajor for a bit in "Shakaar" Tune in same witless time, same Witless Prattle!

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