I guess I just have too much empathy, or something. I should play more violent video games.
Oh my, yes. Grand Theft Auto completely removed all my empathy for other people. Not because of the violence, but because the cars don't use their indicator lights when changing lanes, and they'll pull out right in front of you. That lousy piece of AI programming has encouraged me to kill thousands of NPCs.
Speaking of senseless violence...
The Siege of AR-558 (****½)
AR-558, the planet so unimportant that nobody bothered to give it a name. You'd think they'd call it Chin'toka VI or somesuch, but then the show would lose the point that people are fighting and dying to secure a planet that in peacetime wasn't important enough to have a name. But there's some sort of Macguffin on the planet that the Federation are fighting to secure, and now Sisko and his crew are stuck in the middle of it. And Quark is there. Why? Because fuck Quark, that's why.
There are four main characters on the planet:
- Lt Larkin is a woman that's not wearing make-up, thus proving how serious a situation this is.
- Reese is a soldier that wears the ketracel-white tubes of all the Jem'Hadar he has killed, because wearing neck-bones would be too grisly for a human in a Star Trek show.
- Vargas is a meth dealer who tried to expand into the ketracel-white business, but things went south and now he's stuck on this rock.
- Lennier is a Ranger, but after an incident involving President Sheridan he ran away and joined Starfleet.
This episode uses every war movie cliché in the big book of war movie clichés, and that does harm the episode a little. But overall this is a vital tale that DS9 needed to tell before the end of the war. What we mostly see of the Dominion War is the epic space battles where spaceships and torpedoes wizz by one another in an exciting light-show of computer-generated explosions. You can't convey the horror of war that way. DS9 needed to visit the troops on the front lines and see how they were holding up, and the unsurprising answer is that they're not doing well. For all the pressures we've seen the DS9 cast have to go through in this war, they've been living in luxury compared to the troops on AR-558.
While I make fun of Quark being on the mission for no good reason, he does serve an important role in the story as the observer who can see what the war is really doing to these people. I wish we had seen more of this Quark than the greedy misogynist he often is. And this is a major episode for Nog, obviously, but I guess I'll leave that are of discussion for It's Only a Paper Moon