Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE #35

Sorry for the lack of content this week, and even sorrier that I return in such a state, because y'all, this installment of our never-ending slog through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is going to be a tetralogy of bitchiness from me, because I really don't like any of the episodes. At least three of them should never have been allowed to get past the first draft before they had a better idea and made that an episode, and the other one has so much editorial fiat behind it you can hear gears grinding as things move in directions they just weren't meant to.

I understand that DS9 can't be war all the time (though this raises the question of "if you're not willing to commit to it fully, why do it, then?) Hell, even Babylon 5 would come up for air, and typically they had 2-3 wars going on at any given time. But when you try to shoehorn lighthearted "zany" stuff in the same episodes where you're still going on about what a desperate struggle war is . . .well, the mood whiplash can be a bit much. It crosses over into the zone of utter annoyance when the comedy isn't that funny.

Remember how I said the post-arc episode were going to be hard? This is what I meant. Let's get it over with, then . . .


"There are rules, don't talk with your mouth full, don't open an airlock when somebody is inside it, and don't lie about your genetic status!"

Or, "Gosh, aren't retarded people funny?"

Bashir gets called in to help a group of genetically enhanced humans who weren't as fortunate as he was and are . . .well, a bit mental. Stereotypically so. Jack is manic, combative and paranoid, Sarina is autistic and catatonic, Patrick is an idiot manchild, and Divatox just wants to bake the Power Rangers into a giant pizza or some shit (You'd think this would easily be the Prattle's most obscure reference ever) and all of them are supposed to be as hyper-brilliant as Bashir is (something which vacillates as the plot needs it) but really they're meant to be stereotypes of the mentally ill for Bashir to have fun with, relate to ever so slightly, and ultimately distance himself from.

Typically, this would be the point where I say something like "There's the germ of a good story" here, but really there isn't. That Bashir's Big Secret from last season ultimately led us here kinda makes me wish we hadn't opened that particular Pandora's Box. The Jack Pack (as the creators of the show came to call, them, to which I say "ugh") do little more than annoy the shit out of me and the whole business with them being able to idiot savant their way toward insights about the Dominion, followed by projecting that the war with the Dominion is unwinnable and nearly committing treason is . . .well, there's a reason why mental patients aren't let in on high-level war plans. You can make your own joke about politics here, I just want to get this mess over with.

Needless to say, I kind of hate the Jack Pack, and I hate them even more, because they still have one more appearance yet to go. There's supposed to be a story in Bashir recognising a kinship with the Jack Pack, hoping he can find a place for them that doesn't involve locking them away, but realising they lack enough perspective to be let free, and some of this would work if I had any feeling for any of these characters (Yes, even Bashir is an unlikable prig in this episode) but I don't, and if I don't give a shit, then the episode is worthless. NEXT!


"I hate Ferengi."

Or, "Gosh, aren't retarded people fu"--oh wait, I just did that.

There's a war on between the Federation and the Dominion, so naturally the Dominion has kidnapped Quark's mother.

Here, let me say it so you don't have to: WHY!?!?!?!

Quark decides to round up an all-Ferengi team of commandos to free her, which gives us an opportunity to bring in Brunt and Gaila and give Rom and Nog something to do. Unfortunately for me, that something is to mug and mince and be a pack of annoying little creeps. They decide to negotiate for her release with a prisoner exchange, offering Keevan (the asshole Vorta from "Rocks and Shoals") who they promptly shoot dead just as the prisoner exhange is about to take place.

I should mention: I am watching a painfully unfunny, unamusing, and altogether atrocious roller disco movie as I type this. I do not like it, and do not care about it in any meaningful way--it just happens to be on while I'm typing this, but please believe me when I tell you it is orders of magnitude more entertaining than this god damned (shit, there goes any chance of comic stores in North Carolina carrying the Prattle) fucking awful episode.

Oh, I should also add the prisoner exhange takes place on Empok Nor, which has now slotted into its new role as "whenever we need to make a cheap excuse for using existing sets, we'll just shoot the DS9 model at some ker-azy angles and say it's Empok Nor." I wish this was the last time for it too.

Iggy Pop was in this episode. I think he deserves better, don't you?

My fucking head hurts. What is the point of an episode featuring your comic characters making good (er, if that was meant to be the idea) if they behave like utter incompetents, are neither characters nor comic in the classic sense of the term, and at every turn act like buffoons? Why should I cheer for any of them? Why should I cheer anything except the end of this episode coming soon or the sweet black embrace of death--whichever will make it stop the fastest?

I'm sorry, but when you fail the awful roller disco movie test (in that you make watching one seem preferable to this), you have fucking failed on a level that we don't really have models of measurement for yet. The best I can do is "30 x 10^10 Tera-fails of Failure" NEXT!


"And that is why you are not an evil man."

I'm always deeply leery of any story wherein I am being told what to think and how to feel about a certain character--whenever I run across it, I react very much in the way that I used to when I got scolded or lecture--I tune out and just wait until something more interesting is happening.

I bring this up because this episode is very much a diktat--the creators of the show said as much that this episode was designed, once and for all, to put Dukat in the role of Crazy Arch Nemesis and only the role of Crazy Arch Nemesis, and so it's goodbye to the interesting and multi-layered character of Dukat we'd had for the past 5 seasons and in his place we have a raving loon who really does whatever the plot needs him to do.

He's not that interesting, sadly, and the plot development they will soon hook him too does him no favours.

The problem, insofar as the creators saw it, was that despite the fact that Dukat was never a pure good guy (at best an uneasy ally) and was a character who was always unreliable and self-serving with a gift for distorting reality in any way that would put him in the best possible light, and was, from all accounts, a right bastard when he held all the cards . . .people still liked him.

He was never going to be the hero, of course, just one more thread in the larger tapestry of the show, and a very interesting one who could serve as complication and uneasy ally. The closest character I could compare him to was Desslok from Star Blazers, who tried to kill the good guys for most the first season, was plainly a blue space Nazi, and again, was allowed to stick around.

Couldn't have that here, though, and the two-parter last season was an effort to make Dukat's full-on heelishness a bit more apparent. However, for all his somewhat more obvious bastard-ness during the war arc, there was a still a bit of nuance to be had, as he was a man who had restored Cardassia, but at the cost of making it a client state in an uneasy alliance with the Dominion.

So, they killed of Ziyal, and that was the trigger that made Dukat batshit insane, and this episode, featuring Dukat and Sisko marooned together on a planet is an effort to get all that out and make it more explicit. In case we missed anything in the previous 42 minutes of scenery chewing, that ridiculous bit at the close where Sisko and Dax say, essentially, "OMG! He's more dangerous than ever!" (because a raving crazy bad guy is more dangerous than a controlled, multidimensional one . . .how, exactly?) all of this underlines that you are in no way, shape or form, ever to think of Dukat as anything more than the Big Bad anymore.

And really, that's not as interesting as where we've been previous.


"I wonder who came up with the idea of suspending liquid latinum inside worthless bits of gold."
"Probably someone who got tired of making change with an eyedropper."

Okay, so I may not have mentioned Morn previous to this. It's because mentioning Morn (despite the show's creators being determined to make him a running gag) made about as much sense as mentioning any other part of the set dressing, but in the name of getting this the fuck over with, let me boil it down for you thus: Morn is a drunk who is permanently anchored to the closest stool in Quark's bar. His name is an anagram for "Norm," for all you "Cheers" fans out there, and while we never seen him talk, he is apparently hellaciously talkative.

If this makes you think that any of this lends itself to a character you can build an episode around, well guess what? You're totally wrong, but they did it anyway, and if I have to suffer through it, you do too.

Morn dies (not really, and I really don't give two shits whether I spoiled the episode for you, as I'd really like to kick it in the throat) and gets Quark involved in a chase for a thousand bars of gold-pressed latinum that gets like, 4-5 people involved in it and it's like the person who wrote this watched The Maltese Falcon the night before, and thought all you really needed to make a zany caper was to pile a bunch of boring-ass crime movie stereotypes one on top of the other and have them point guns at Quark. Then everything gets wrapped up in the last 5 minutes, and really, nothing in the previous 40 has much to do with that.

I really have nothing to say about this episode. It's that mediocre. It has nothing that really pisses me off, apart from the time I wasted watched it, it's not interesting, offers nothing for Quark to do, and for all it ties into Deep Space Nine, this might as well have been The Secret Origin of Sisko's Baseball.

This really sucked and was blank as a fart, I guess is what I'm saying.

Thank God that's it for this week, because this was the darkest hour (well, four hours) yet. Join us next week when we get one of DS9's best episodes ever in "Far Beyond The Stars"; immediately after we have one DS9's worst as they do the whole "shrink the main cast" bullshit in "One Little Ship"; Things get a little closer to normal when O'Brien goes all "The Departed" in "Honor Among Thieves"; and because we're still not consistent, Worf and Dax waste an hour of my life trying and failing miserably to convince me they are in love or even very interesting at all in "Change of Heart." Join us next time for racism, shrinkage, and pleasure!


C. Elam said...

I....I remember who Divatox was, sadly. That outfit could do wonders for my memory, even in the criminally bad Turbo: A Power Rangers movie.

I even remember there were (I believe?) two different Divatox actresses, but I have shamed my ancestors enough already so I won't go check on this.

Kazekage said...

Believe me, no one more than I was surprised to see that fucking Divatox had actually made it into other forms of media. Only Vernon Wells going from "The Road Warrior" to Power Rangers Time Force was more of a headfuck.

There were, and I think one of them played the "good sister" version of Divatox and . . .man, even I don't give a shit to look that up. But the gal from this episode was the original, I think, and my GOD did she chew the scenery (even for a Power Ranger show)

Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

My nephew was into that dreadful show for a while - was she the one with the enormous hair cones who kept screaming at everything?

I like to think our generation had better taste at that age, but then, I spent my childhood with the Thundercats and Jem, so what do I know? ;)

Kazekage said...

No, that was Rita Repulsa. Here's every Divatox scene from the Turbo movie as a primer, and if you last all 11 minutes, you did better than I. :)

Power Rangers get substantially better after her series Turbo and the next series culminates with a big Crisis on Infinite Earths kinda deal, if you can imagine that.

It's all relative, I suspect. :) Lord knows I have never hesitated to champion utter crap or disposable entertainment before . . .

Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

I lasted exactly three seconds. Safe to say you've won this particular contest. :)

Kazekage said...

Mmm . . .I'm gonna hold on to that video then, in case I feel like being difficult one day. :)