In between all the craziness, you can count on three things--death, taxes, and the fact that every Saturday I will write another installment of my seemingly never-ending recaps of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Episodes. And then fall asleep two episodes in and the whole things doesn't go up until Sunday sometimes, and really, my work ethic is terrible. I have tried digging around in my head with a screwdriver to knock out my sleep center so I have more time for this sorta thing and hopefully haven't brain my damage.
Strained comedy aside, this is a pretty big week. We have the last two episodes of the big "Take back the station arc" and then we begin our stretch of mediocrity as we have a few episodes jammed in to leaven the mood, because . . .well, I'll try to explain as we go. There's a bit of rot that starts to seep in as well. Some good things to, but not near enough. Let's get down to it, shall we?
"FAVOR THE BOLD"
"Did you kill him?"
"No, but I thought about it"
We left off last week with things looking really bad for our heroes. The Dominion has figured out how to take down the minefield, paving the way for their reinforcements to sweep in and finish kicking the shit out of the Federation and the Klingons, Dax had been made captain of the Defiant so they could cruelly yank it away from her this episode in a way that says "ha ha, just kidding Dax--we know no one gives a shit about you," and Kira was an island unto herself because Odo's hanging out with Big Momma all linking all the time and shit. Odo not giving much a crap about what happens now has isolated Kira and made her one bad word away from losing her shit and beating ass.
She finally does lose her shit, by the way, and beats the holy fuck out of Damar for being . . .well, Damar, who was walking around like he was begging for an ass-kicking every day he drew breath anyways.
On the plus side of things, they're going to execute Rom. I don't know why everyone on the show acts like that's such a bad thing.
In any event, things are humming along. Kira tries to get Ziyal to get Rom spared--being that this is Rom they're trying to get clemency for and Ziyal is the cipher that walks like a character, this ends up about as well as you might think. Jake manages to get a message to his father about the minefield coming down.
Just as well, then, that his father is working on a plan to take the station back in the name of boosting morale. The destruction of the minefield gives everyone a perfect ticking clock to get them doing something (Just think--had this come earlier, we wouldn't have had to deal with "Sons and Daughters") and we have our forces set in place for the finale.
"SACRIFICE OF ANGELS"
"Chief, how does that poem end?"
"You don't want to know."
It's saying something that Sisko has the biggest fucking space fleet ever shown on-screen in Star Trek's history and he still wanted more. But then, when you look at the Dominion fleet opposing him, you can hardly blame him for wanting more ships, can you?
Sisko's plan is to punch through the Dominion fleet and make a run for the station and hopefully stop them in time. Dukat, having figured out Sisko's plan (not like it was a Grand Admiral Thrawn-level plan to begin with) Dukat plans to open a hole in his own lines and crunch Sisko inside, which I will say, at least involves some sort of strategy.
Meanwhile, back on the station, Damar gets Kira, Jake, Leeta, and the rest rounded up and taken into custody (even pausing to note Leeta's boobs are just thrust into every damn thing--yes, her cleavage is so omnipresent as to be metatextual) to prevent any more sabotage which leaves only Quark and Ziyal to buy them some time.
Meanwhile, Odo has a dose of cold water thrown on him, as Big Momma isn't even pretending with him anymore, and says, yeah, Kira and the rest are as good as dead, and really it's the best thing possible for them. Odo has the nerve to look surprised by this.
Ultimately, even as Our Heroes get closer to stopping the plan, all it seems to do is move the hands of the clock closer to the flashpoint. Quark frees Rom and company, and Rom tries to take the minefield down, but he's too late. The Defiant arrives just in time for the minefield to come down, and, having no other option, flies into the wormhole to fight the Dominion reinforcements.
And here is about the time where the episode, the arc, and the whole damn series badly fumble the ball. Because the Prophets intervene, saying Sisko can't be allowed to die. Sisko says "OK, well, I don't have to if you'll just wish them into the cornfield"
And they do. Now, I've read plenty from the people who created the show and they complain that this shouldn't be thought of as a deus ex machina, but dammit, it is exactly that, and for all the damage control they try to do ("a penance" is exacted from Sisko. It will be a very stupid one) it doesn't change the fact that they just wrote themselves into a place where they could not get out of it without the Prophets taking a hand.
Ultimately, this does no one any favours, as the Prophets will appear more in the final two seasons than they did in the previous 5 total, and every single time they drift further and further from being unknowable, enigmatic aliens and just become plot pointers who say "do this" to Sisko, who then doesn't, and then bad stuff happens. And yes, this is where the "rot" I spoke of comes in.
Oh, yeah, Damar shot Ziyal. This is supposed to be a Big Tragedy, but it's fucking Ziyal for God's sake, and she never really had enough character for this to have the weight it's supposed to.
So . .on balance, how did DS9's first arc go? Well . . .better than you'd expect for a first attempt, but with some glaring problems. We didn't really need "Sons and Daughters" at all, did we? I mean, the amount of fuck I give about Alexander and Ziyal together couldn't be measured with an electron microscope, and that ending with bother me until the day I die.
Never mind, the follow-up to all this is horribly botched (I'll explain a little about that in a sec) Did the Dominion just quit trying to send ships through the wormhole? Did the Prophets just continuously wish them into the cornfield? DID IT OCCUR TO ANYONE IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO ANSWER THAT FUCKING QUESTION SOMETIME?!
P.S.: That battle footage was pretty awesome, huh? I hope you liked it, because you're gonna see it a LOT from here on in DS9 and the original Battlestar Galactica could have a contest about who recycled footage the most.
However, on balance, the idea that the Federation is always on the verge of losing the war is a good hook, and the idea that they're just barely hanging on is very compelling stuff. "Rocks and Shoals" is a terrific episode, and it feels like the one episode which is strong from start to finish and doesn't have any obvious padding in it. The rest of the episodes have strong bits, which always seem in conflict with the weaker bits which have the curious effect of the stronger bits being much less strong and the weak bits being even more excruciating than usual.
The good news is, when we do this arc thing again in the final season, the results will be much, much stronger.
But first, here's a wedding and some stupid-ass comedy.
"YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED"
"I'm going to kill Worf."
I rather liked that the late, lamented Cynics Corner referred to this episode as "You Are Hopefully Inebriated."
The idea of this episode, featuring Worf and Dax getting married, more and more Klingon rituals of ever-ascending stupidity, and most every character acting utterly imbecilic, this episode should be in that rarefied strata of unbearably terrible episodes like "Fascination" or "Move Along Home" that are so diabolical, they cause me to be physically ill when I think about them.
"Invited" comes perilously close to this, falls off the edge a few time, and isn't a great episode by any means. I hate this episode--Worf and Dax really have no chemistry and no pressing reason to be together apart from the fact that the people writing the show really don't have anything else for them to do, and every scene they're in is played with that failure glaringly apparent.
Fortunately for me, there is Sirella. Is there a word for a character who's put in to a story who's there just to hate on everything? Because if that's the case, Sirella is it. Sirella is one of the few one-shot characters I would have loved to see return, and her presence is the only thing that makes this bearable.
Because in this episode, Sirella calls Worf a dumbass (and it has been implied she's done so for ages) call Dax a slut and generally treats her like shit, pulls a knife on her, and breaks Martok's balls at every opportunity (a fact that Martok seems to love, which makes their relationship at least as dysfunctional as Gomez & Morticia Addams, I guess) and generally feels about the wedding the way I do.
Not that Sirella is perfect--she's not, mostly because she's racist as fuck. She doesn't really like the idea of bringing non-Klingons into the house. Then again, the two latest additions are Worf and Dax, neither of whom make the best impression. If you just think of how Archie Bunker handled Mike and Gloria, you have an idea of how this is going to go.
I'm really not going to go into this in any great detail because it's a by the numbers wedding episode--there's lots of zany wedding preparations, then the wedding's back on, and then they get married. It's nothing you haven't seen dozens of times, only now it's made stupider because Klingons can make everything stupider. Because there's something else better worth complaining about:
Remember how in the arc that just finished that Odo basically betrayed Kira and the rest by hanging out with Big Momma and not doing anything until the last episode? Well, that plot thread gets resolved this week. With a long discussion between Kira and Odo. In a closet. Which we don't get to see.
Again, I've read what the people who made the show wrote about this and how they felt like they had to get this settled but didn't want to disrupt the wedding shennanigans (oh yes, wouldn't want to fuck THAT up) so they came up with this as a compromise. However, like all compromises, it ultimately pleases no one because all you've done with this resolution is remind everyone that you didn't resolve it in any great detail.
Then again, one of the people who wrote this would forgive the trespasses of an entire TV series by waving his hand and saying "God did it" about twelve years after this, so I guess I really shouldn't be surprised.
This pisses me off very much, so I'm going to stop talking about this episode now. NEXT!
"And sometimes your taste in men frightens me."
Oh lord, is this episode ever flaccid. The Intendant and Bariel hop over from the Mirror Universe and try to steal and Orb, for . . .well, the episode's not really concerned about what the reasoning might be for this, and I'm in no mood to cut them a break about it.
We're past the law of diminishing returns for Mirror Universe episodes and somehow they will get even worse from here on in as I present to you a near Platonic form of medicore DS9 episode. Action confined to the station due to blowing their budget on other shit? Check. Threadbare plot that uses the "OMG, how will I react to seeing the dead person I love alive but different in the Mirror Universe" that we used in the last two Mirror episodes? Check. Bunch of nonsense about the Orbs that contradicts earlier stuff from the Mirror episodes? Check. Ending that doesn't resolve one damn thing? Big check.
There is some effort made to make this work insofar as Bariel's concerned--in the MU he's a thief, and the notion of him as a holy man is amusing and a little worrying for him and . . .yeah, it's 45 minutes that feels like 90 and I don't give enough of a shit about Bareil to really endure this episode again.
The only nice thing I can say about this episode is that the final one in the seventh season is so very very much worse, and I hope that I drink myself to death before I get to it. For now though, fuck this episode.
That's it for this week. Join us next week when my disposition does not improve as the Jack Pack goes on the attack in "Statistical Probabilities"; DS9 contravenes the Truth In Advertising Act in "The Magnificent Ferengi"; Dukat gets all his character shading scrubbed away in "Waltz"; and Quark has to deal with a ridiculous conspiracy and two aliens who sound like Jack Nicholson in "Who Mourns For Morn?" Join us next week for mediocrity, crankiness, and displeasure!