Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing--STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE #39

What up everybody, so glad you're here. It's Kazekage with the flow back in your hear. This ain't the Fantastic Voyage, but I'm, still on a mission to see if I can get your attention. Now I'm about to drop some information--a little additive to your education. Yes, Coolio references aside, it is time once again for another installment of recaps of the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This week, we close out Season 6, and this means we are coming on to the final lap. Who will live? Who will die? How many times will goddamn Vic Fontaine pop up?

Well, let's find out, shall we?

"The war changed us – pulled us apart... I want my friends in my life, because someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find that someone is missing from this circle. On that day, we're going to mourn, and we shouldn't have to mourn alone." "

OK, I figured it was just close enough for the 38 Special reference. Sue me. The crew of the Defiant responds to a distress call from one Captain Lisa Cusak and Our Heroes each take turns talking to her to keep her alive and generally chart everyone's character arc through the season only to learn thanks to some technical bafflegab, all is not as it seems.

I'm playing coy because for the most part, the Big Twist at the end is really all this episode has going for it, at least insofar as the actual main plot is concerned. Once that has banged, there's not much meat to this episode . . .

. . .unless that is, you're watching it for the character interactions between the characters and Cusak. O'Brien and Bashir's scenes (and to a lesser extent, Sisko's) are actually quite good, and they get a lot of mileage of what would be, on the face of it, a If you're looking at the B-story, which is some zany sitcom bullshit with Odo and Kira's one-month dating anniversary (which is, once again, the kind of thing I desperately hoped this show was above because it's impossible to do this plot without making the woman look like a petty shrew and the man like an idiot) which is best dashed off in this paragraph and not thought about any more than that. Ditto with their bit in the next episode.

It's an OK episode, really, and function as less a living breathing episode in its own right and seems to function more as a selah, a palate cleanser wherein we take stock of things before the season finale, which will be going too fast for such things. But it really has to be watched in conjunction with the next episode, as it's far too slight to stand on its own.


"By this time next year, the three of us will drink bloodwine in the halls of Cardassia's Central Command."

The Federation and its allies go on the offensive, the Cardassians try a daring plan to thwart them, and one of Our Heroes Will Not Return, probably because she never left the station in the first place.

It's been decided that Sisko's plan to attack the Dominion at a weak spot in their lines--the Chin'Toka system, and there's some internecine bickering as he tries to get the Romulans and Klingons to join in the fight (as one would imagine the Dominion would be wise to the Klingons tendency to ride in to the rescue at the last minute) There is a time limit on this, as the Cardassians have deployed orbital weapon platforms to reinforce that particular weak point.

While this is humming along, let's thread in some subplots. Kira and Odo are having their first argument, which as I said before, is one of those things which makes both characters looks petty and stupid, and really we're not going to spend a lot of time on it.

Not when we have this to deal with--Dax and Worf are trying to have a baby, a fact which initially makes Quark and Bashir all depressed, because this means they're totally out of the running insofar as securing Dax's affection is concerned. Mind you, the utter lack of romantic chemistry she had with either of them might have been a clue, but the upshot of this whole thing is that it's time for them to visit Vic Fontaine for some vague words of comfort and a musical number. While I think James Darren does a great job singing "Here's to the Losers," I really don't see that it adds much, as his advice to Bashir and Quark is "Stop moping; there's plenty of other fish in the sea" and thus, this scene has very little real point except to make us feel like Dax having a baby is a game changer. It is, but not in the way you think.

Oh, hey! While all the pre-war prep work is happening Weyoun and Damar are fretting over the Federations imminent attack and Gul Dukat shows up With A Plan to open the wormhole back up. As this is Ker-AZY Dukat, this plan is very stupid, but everyone goes along with it anyways, because they had nothing to do on Saturday.

Dukat's plan is to re-open the wormhole by having a Pah-Wraith (yes, the awful future I predicted in "The Reckoning" has not come to pass) fly up his nose, turning his eyes red and giving him a spooky voice. It is so much more idiotic than it sounds.

Back to the station, where Sisko feels a great disturbance in the Force when the Prophets tell him not to go to Z'Ha'Dum--er, Chin'Toka, and when he tells Admiral Ross that, Ross digs in his heels and tells him that he can be the Emissary or a Starfleet Captain, but he can't be both. Man, we've never heard that before, have we? (we have, of course--we just saw it in "The Reckoning") so Sisko decides to go, because apparently "The Reckoning" didn't really convince him that The Prophets were Serious Business, although that episode doesn't really make the best case.

Anyways, the fleet flies off for some battle footage that isn't 60% re-used shots for a change, and while they're off Dukat shows up on the station, casts Gifoi on Dax, and barfs Pah-Wraith all over the Orb that's in the Bajoran shrine, demonstrating a mind-boggling lack of security on the station.

The wormhole . . .slams shut, so well done Dukat. Given that you're crazy as a shithouse rat I can't say I'm shocked by this. I should mention here that Dax is dead, but given all her talk about having a baby with Worf . . .c'mon guys, she was a walking bullseye from frame one of this episode.

I should mention here, that the writers felt this was all a great idea because it followed up on thwarting the battle that framed "The Reckoning"--because the battle never finished, the Pah-Wraiths were free to attack the wormhole. However, the problem is this is never really made explicit and it's hard to give credit for something not in the episode . . .when it's not in the episode. Also, it is goddamn impossible to take "The Reckoning" seriously enough to fret over the long-term implications of it, and the fact that they rolled out the spooooooky voices and the red contact lenses for it doesn't help very much either.

Sisko goes all Obi-Wan Kenobi when the wormhole closes, but the battle is won--the Federation and their allies have successfully gotten a toehold in Dominion space, but it's a Pyrrhic victory--the wormhole is closed, Dax is dead (Jadzia, anyways. The symbiont is OK, and how convenient is that?), and Sisko and everyone is all distraught. Sisko is so distraught, of course, he heads off back to Earth, having been seriously broken by the whole ordeal. In an echo to last year's finale he takes his baseball with him, because he's not sure he's coming back.

Yes, well. The actually battle stuff is somewhat OK, I guess, but the rest of this episode makes my head hurt. Once again the goofy shit with the Pah-Wraiths and the Prophets and Ker-AZY Dukat just kills any dramatic weight the episode has, as does the notion that Dax's death is supposed to be anything more than the big ball of cliche that it is. For fuck's sake, her last words were "our baby would have been so beautiful."

Still, should we say some words about Jadzia Dax, the member of our ensemble Who Never Worked Out? I'd like to say there was plenty of potential there, and there was, and we got some decent Dax-focused episodes out of her character ("Blood Oath" and "Rejoined" spring to mind) but generally there was a feeling that no one really had a consistent idea of what she was supposed to be. She couldn't be the strong angry chick, because that was Kira's thing, and she had too much of an alpha-wave pattern to be Troi or Crusher, so that was out. And so began her long drift to the background until they paired her off with Worf, who was another character they never really had a handle on and together they were allowed to be romantic without romance and get on everyone's nerves trying to convince us ever more desperately that they really loved each other and then when that didn't work, they finally killed her off so the actress could go be Becker's secretary.

Sad to say, it was ultimately no big loss, as they gave up on making Dax interesting long ago and this was only late confirmation of a long-known fact: Creative had nothing for her.

And much like the season, we will leave it on a down note. Join us next week when we begin the final DS9 season with "Image in the Sand"; We then juggle three plots at once, introduce a very troubling retcon, and introduce an old new character in "Shadows and Symbols"; Treat said new character like shit and hope she survives the experience in "Afterimage"; and take some time out for fun as we finally come to The Baseball Episode in "Take Me Out To The Holosuite." Join us next time for promotions, honest-to-god successful comedy, and pleasure!


Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

Ohh yes, I remember that one. Gul Dukat breaks open a Tiki statue and goes Mad With Power.

I actually thought there was a kernel of a good idea there, in that the Pah Wraiths could have been responsible for driving Dukat insane: rather than being Flanderized, he's just ignoring Oda Mae's warning of "You in danger, Gul."

Of course, for that to work, we'd need to know something about the Pah Wraiths besides the fact that they're red and therefore evil (or, if you follow the Shatner-era Trek lexicon, they're doomed to cheap and pointless deaths). What's their beef with the Prophets? Why do they want to torch Bajor? Maybe they want to be corporeal and experience linear time, and the only way they can do that is via possession? Maybe they were the original inhabitants of the wormhole and got kicked out by the Prophets? Given that they're built up to be antagonists at least as threatening as the Dominion, you'd think the writers would've spared a thought for basic motivations and such...

Kazekage said...

Yeah, Dukat never quite recovers from that one, really. Although! there is an effort made in "Covenant" (which is a couple weeks away) to explain both Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths as a sect of the Prophets that wanted to take a more active role in protecting Bajor.

That's a good idea, and very DS9. I'd be up for seeing that developed.

This was, of course, immediately discounted as the ravings of a crazy man and the Pah-Wraiths were just nutty CGI effects that wanted to burn things. Missed opportunities are going to be our theme for Season 7, I fear.

The problem--and someone on another review site said this--that about this time, DS9 seems less willing to leave those shades of grey uncoloured and yet aren't willing to really think things through much beyond solving their immediate story problems and before you know it you have vague, muddled, antagonists and no time to really flesh them out.

Oh, and spooky contact lenses and Force lighting.