Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DS9 #25

My final fight is a work in progress, so I stress that this mess is rage at its core. It's time once again for another whistle stop along the way in our seemingly bottomless attempt to recap every single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This week, we finish out Season 4 with a quick twofer which closes things out . . .in more ways than one.

Basically, we're going to very quickly be typing up the whole Klingon business, which you may or may not notice has been pretty marginalised here lately and getting back to what DS9's writers wanted to do in the first place--namely, heat up the cold war with the Dominion. The end of Season 4 pretty much puts a button on that and sets the stage for a Season 5 that gets things back on track.


"Would you buy a book called 'Suggestions of Acquisitions?'"

This is one weird-ass episode. I guess I should get the less effective and most weird part of it out of the way first. Okay . . .the actress who plays Kira, Nana Visitor, had got pregnant. There being no couches or potted plants to hide her behind, they connived a solution--in one of the god-damnedest plots ever, O'Brien's wife's baby is moved from her womb to Kira's because Kira is right there and God help you if you go to Bashir and don't come out with some kind of gonzo medical procedure pulled on you.

This is one of the more farcical subplots DS9 has ever minted, and its borne of desperation in trying to keep Kira's character around, and we get one good episode out of it in the fifth season, but holy geez, the heavy lifting involved in trying to land this thing is enough to make you want to reach for the aspirin.

That's one plot, here's the other: Quark learns that he's dying of Bullshit Syndrome and does what we've heard Ferengi do when they're dead--put his dessicated remains up for sale after his death. Only it turns out that the doctor who gave him the diagnosis was full of shit, and the idea that he had Bullshit Syndrome is itself, bullshit.

So, sale's off, right? Wrong. The buyer for Quark's remains is Brunt, weasly little asshole from the Ferengi Commerce Authority, who wants Quark's remains. He doesn't actually want them, of course--his real goal is to put Quark in the position of either going through with killing himself and selling his parts off, like a good Ferengi, or breaking the contract.

What this leads to is Quark hiring Garak to kill him (being what he considers to be the exemplar of a good Ferengi) which leads us to a great scene were he's complaining about the methods Garak uses to kill him--too messy, too brutal, etc. Finally, in the midst of getting strangled, Quark has a vision of the original Grand Nagus, who tells him all the Rules of Acquisition were good PR and like the Pirate codes, more like "suggestions" than rules.

This inspires Quark to break the contract, which is what Brunt wanted all along. Quark is blacklisted--his assets seized, the bar closed, every Ferengi barred from doing business with him. This leads to my other favourite scene from this episode, which involves the rest of the crew of the station coming into the now-deserted bar to lend Quark a bunch of stuff they don't want (or so they say) and more or less getting Quark back on his feet. I rather like that--it's sweet that after nearly four years there is enough goodwill to accumulate for a scene like to feel earned and geniune.

I could have done without the whole "Brunt didn't take everything! You have your friends!"--yes, thank you, I understood that already, episode, thanks.

Despite being hopelessly schizophrenic, I really like this episode. For one thing, it avoids most of the usual pitfalls of a Ferengi episode, and for another, it's genuinely funny in a rather black-humoured sort of way. As usual, Quark episodes are actually funny . . .all Ferengi episodes, not so much.

As to the pregnancy stuff . . .well, I don't know what to tell you, there.


"If there's one thing Cardassians excel at--it's conversation."

It all starts innocently enough--Odo gets set up by Garak who's playing matchmaker, then Odo gets sick and starts losing his cohesion. Odo tries to ignore it at first, but when he can't even make an arrest without turning into a puddle of goo. This leads everyone to conclude there's only one thing to do: take Odo into the Gamma Quadrant and see if the Founders can do anything for him. Garak tags along to keep Odo's mind busy and to hopefully get a chance to ask the Founders if any of the fleet from "The Die Is Cast" survived the Dominion beating the living shit out of them last season.

No sooner do they get too far in when Big Momma shows up and agrees to take them to the Founders' new homeworld, But it's not to do Odo any favours--they connived to infect him with this disease in the first place to force him to return home and be judged in the Great Link for killing a Founder at the end of last season. What shape this judgment will take isn't known--this has never happened before. But the alternative is that Odo dies anyway, and Odo, whose stood for law and order his whole life, wants to be judged by them--if he tried to skip out he'd be a hypocrite, after all.

Meanwhile, Garak gets his chance to ask Big Momma about the Cardassian fleet, and her response is worth requoting here:

"They're dead. You're dead. Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us. I believe that answers your question."

Garak handles this with us usual aplomb, by making a show of being gracious to her, then trying to sabotage the Defiant so it will open fire on the Founders homeworld and kill all the Founders on the planet (incidentally also Sisko, Bashir, and Odo, and eventually himself and everyone on the Defiant, but Garak's a real "ends justify the means" type, so he's not all that worried) He doesn't get very far before Worf knocks him out, but well, in all honesty, Worf was probably looking for an excuse to slap around someone anyway.

The judgment is made and the sentenced passed--Odo isn't going to be killed, but he will suffer the rest of his life as a solid. He takes it about as well as you could imagine--generally wondering if it hadn't been better for him all around to be killed by his people.

So with that bombshell dropped, it's back to the station for the wrap-up--for trying to sabotage the Defiant, Garak has to spend six months in holding, and Odo realises something as he sees Gowron rattling his saber and promising to widen the Klingon war (snicker)--oh, while he was in the link, he saw that Gowron had been replaced by one of the Founders and . . .yeah, he probably should have mentioned.

As season enders go, this is a bit more closed-off than most--it's basically an Odo episode, but it's a good enough one that you don't mind so much, because it's appropriately ominous and pays off last year's equally intimate but full of portents of doom finale as well. We get a window into how Odo's sense of justice informs on him as a character. The stuff at the end with Gowron, well, you can almost feel the DS9 folks busily kicking dirt on the whole Kilngon thing--it's been drifting to background for awhile in this season and soon enough in the next one, it'll be resolved completely.

All told, it's plain that the Klingon stuff, while it did shake things up and give us a great premiere episode, really never lived up to the hype and it was only when we returned to the Dominion that we really seemed to be on surer footing. We will be continuing in like vein from here on out as the Dominion becomes more and more of an overt threat until the end of the fifth season, wherein . . .well, why spoil it?

That's it for this go-round. Join us next week when we say bye-bye to the never-quite-Klingon-war and chew a hell of a lot of scenery in "Apocalypse Rising"; Our Heroes suffer through the perils of acting in a quarry in the middle of summer in "The Ship"; Quark has a visit from the ex-wife in "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places"; and Jake (and DS9) get a real taste of war in "Nor The Battle To The Strong." Join us next time for season 5, gritty drama, and pleasurre . . .

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