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Old December 5 2011, 04:36 PM   #447
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Rivals (*)

Never before on DS9, and never again, has an episode relied so much on a prop that fails to deliver. I'm not much of a gambler, but can I understand the thrill of a game of blackjack, or roulette, or horse-racing. I can understand why people bet money on those games knowing that the odds are stacked against them. I cannot understand the thrill of pressing a button a a weird-looking sphere that either lights up or doesn't based on its own internal logic that nobody understands. Why would anyone bet money on such a thing? Why would people do so in such numbers that they would be willing to abandon Quark's bar and his much more entertaining dabo table? For this episode to have any hope of working it required those gambling devices to look and act in an interesting way, which they don't (at least not on the surface) and that exposes all the flaws in the episode.

I don't like the concept of a device that alters luck by spinning neutrinos in a certain way (let's just leave aside the fact that neutrinos can only ever spin one way anyway), but if you're going to address such a concept then don't do it in an episode that's not really about anything. Starfleet has just made one of the most important scientific discoveries of the age, the fact that luck can be altered using an easily replicated device that fits in the hand. With some more studying of the devices they may be able to control luck, which would have been highly useful during the war. Just put those devices on every ship in the fleet and give the crew some good luck before sending them into battle, all the enemy weapon's will miss and the war will be over without that messy business with the Romulans. Job done.

All that being said, I do have a soft-spot for episodes like this that aren't really about anything. If this had just been an episode about Quark and a business rival while O'Brien and Bashir play space-racquetball, it would have been better off. In fact, it's the O'Brien/Bashir stuff that rescues the episode a little for me, it's another step on the road to them becoming BFFs. It's not their best outing together, and I'm not sure why any punter would be interested in the outcome of a game between the two, but it's light, inoffensive fun. Also, we get to see O'Brien's flabby moobs, and what heterosexual man wouldn't be tempted by such a treat?
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