DS9 Versus: A viewing experient

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by Sykonee, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    LoL, what a snoozefest! In all seriousness, though, I think that is the significant flaw in your theory that DS9 relied more heavily on a core group of established Star Trek fans than Voyager, namely that established Trek fans have always had a very mixed reaction to DS9, often declaring that it is "not really Star Trek," generally on the grounds that it isn't about exploration and isn't optimistic enough.

    You're right in a sense when you say that DS9 is a show written by Star Trek fans for Star Trek fans, but only if we add the caveat that it is written by a certain type of fan for a certain type of fan, namely those that enjoyed TNG but found it a bit naive, bland and repetitive at times.

    I think a simpler explanation for DS9's success relative to Voyager was that it was a well-written, acted and produced show that found a substantial audience despite being somewhat under-promoted by the studio and being shifted around the dial a lot.

    Err, yeah. Well, I'm sure he'll be back soon ;)
     
  2. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, I'm back. Last vacation this year, I swear!
     
  3. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Season 7

    Week 1: (Ending 10.04.98)
    DS9 - Image In The Sand (Airdate 09.30.94)

    VOY must be feeling mighty cocky now, having managed to narrowly edge out DS9 in the Yay/Nay Tally of last season. Instead of trying to get the jump on its competitor a month in advance as it has the last few years, the show is spotting DS9 two episodes! (B5, of course, won't come back until late October)

    So what does DS9 do with its early lead? Pulls an Hour Of The Wolf, it would seem. Yes folks, no big action opener here; just quiet, reflective moments on all that has transpired since last season. To be honest, this was desperately needed to give Jadzia's death some proper emotional resonance. Yeah, Sisko's Confessional in Tears In Of The Prophets helped some, but we needed more, and we get to see how its affecting everyone here, especially ol' Wolf. The poor lug.:(

    Anyhow, there's a lot of setting up going on here: Kira's confrontation with the Romulans, Worf getting to go on a Glorious Battle in Jadzia's name, and the Siskos going on a journey to help Ben find some answers to not only help the Prophets, but also discover something about himself it would seem. Yeah, quite a retcon there, huh. Well, it was handled capably enough. Guess we'll see how it all turns out next episode!

    And finally... oh my cuteness!!!!:drool:

    Weekly Winner
    DS9

    Next:
    DS9 - Shadows And Symbols
     
  4. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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  5. Pemmer Harge

    Pemmer Harge Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Come again? Is this about Ezri? I must say, though I found her a decent enough character eventually, I found the way she was introduced in this episode rather annoying.

    Anyway, Image in the Sand is pretty good. It's kind of slow, what with setting up all these plot threads, but it's all going to pay off in the next episode. I don't think the Sisko story with the Prophets here really adds anything to him as a character, but at least it's picturesque and entertaining enough.
     
  6. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I like the Image in the Sand/Shadows and Symbols two-parter a lot. The Kira subplot is extremely solid stuff that resonates in a lot of subtle ways with moments from the early seasons, such as Kira's bluff in Emissary and her earlier efforts at "diplomacy" with Romulans in Visionary. My only real criticism here is that Odo feels too much like an accessory. I will also note in passing that their romantic relationship is about 100 gazillion times more convincing in episodes like Chimera and Tacking into the Wind than it is here, where the actors don't seem to really believe in it yet as romance and continue to act more like friends (or, alternately, an old married couple who've lost the spark but still like each other a lot).

    The requiem for Jadzia is a suitably over-the-top and spectacular Klingon-style gesture that provides some good character development for Worf (who is actually concerned about someone and something other than his own honor for once). It's Quark that really shines in this subplot, though, as he often does when played off of other alien cultures. I love the bit about all the Klingon cutlery.

    As for the Sisko material, the return of Benny Russell is brilliant. My only regret here is that we didn't end up seeing more of him, especially in the final arc. When he explains to Psychiatrist-Damar that he has to keep writing because Sisko hasn't opened the "orb-box-thing" yet, I can't help but laugh every time. DS9 is often very good at telling a dramatic tale while simultaneously making fun of itself.

    While it is not my favorite part of these episodes, I also disagree with the notion that Sisko's arranged birth adds nothing to the overall storyline, but I guess I'll wait until DevilEyes vehemently objects to that statement before elaborating further ;)

    A word also for the direction, which weaves these very diverse storylines together in a skillful manner to emphasize the symbolism of the DS9 saga re-opening itself like the Celestial Temple : the writers reconnecting with their story, and the story re-connecting with them as the old Dax is laid to rest and a new Dax takes her place.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  7. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I vehemently disagree. Now elaborate. ;)
     
  8. Bones2

    Bones2 Commodore Commodore

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    The whole "by the way, there's another orb called the orb of emissary and your mother's magic" was a complete shark jump. So she ends up with Sisko Cartwright and...well what? It's bloody good luck their son ended up the commander of DS9 and so the Emissary. Complete rubbish and a letdown to what went before.
     
  9. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Luck had nothing to do with it. The Prophets didn't create Sisko so that he would randomly stumble across them, it was the other way around; Sisko randomly stumbled across them, so the Prophets created him. It doesn't make sense to the human mind, but that's because we can't escape the rule of effect following cause. The Prophets can.

    Anyway, I'm on team flemm on this issue, so make a spirited response for both of us while I spend my time doing something more fun. :techman:
     
  10. Bones2

    Bones2 Commodore Commodore

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    Causal paradox. Great, that's what Star Trek needs, another of them.
     
  11. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So kind of you. Not to worry, I will just have a few of my underlings handle this discussion while I put my feet up and enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie. But was the smoothie made for me, or I for the smoothie? So many intriguing questions, I almost don't know where to begin. In a sense, I guess it was my destiny to be sitting on this couch at this moment, sipping this incredibly nutritious, yet delicious beverage.

    (Actually I am at work and just don't have time to type a longer post right now, but I'll get to it eventually. :))
     
  12. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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    I want a damn smoothie!
     
  13. mattyhugh

    mattyhugh Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ben's use of the multi-quote never ceases to amaze me. Mad skills I say.
     
  14. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm better at HTML than Tim Berners-Lee.
     
  15. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Week 2: (Ending 10.11.98)
    DS9 - Shadows And Symbols (Airdate 10.07.98)

    Okay, so it's not a retcon, it's a... ah... uh... what the hell is that anyway?:confused:

    Before that, let's give praise to an effective conclusion to this sorta-trilogy of episodes. Yes, that's three totally separate plots you're watching there (with even a fourth sub-plot attached at the beginning as we're introduced to Ezri), and each of them could be a solid A-plot in their own right. Usually, at the very least, the C-plot will suffer, but even with only a few scenes devoted to it, the shipyard mission was great, in that it gave Worf some character development (re: he eats some humble pie, hah!). Or... was the Kira stand-off the C-plot? Man, see what I mean they could all be A-plots!

    But yes, the real A-plot is indeed the Sisko story, which is pretty fun to watch. Seeing Ben go a little 'bonkers' over his visions is amusing enough, and having a Benny Russel 'cameo' is surprising. Apparently all the writing on the wall is in fact plot summaries of all the episodes of DS9 up to that point. Now how cool is that!

    And then it's revealed that Sisko's birth was arranged by the Prophets because... wait, what? Didn't they only become aware of linear existence because of Sisko? Then how could they have-

    Okay, I'm just gonna stop right there. My brain will fold in upon itself if I try to get a firm handle on it. Yes, I understand what's going on in a broad sense (Sisko met the Prophets, so they made sure he was born so he'd be able to carry out tasks for him in the future, right?), but I don't think we're supposed to think about it that much. We're only to know what we need to know when it comes time to know it. Um, like poor ol' Ben it would seem.

    Anyhow, VOY returns next week, but without any kind of cliff-hanger to wrap-up, so it looks to be a fresh start for that crew. Will it be enough to take on DS9's current momentum?

    Weekly Winner
    DS9

    Next:
    DS9 - Afterimage
    VOY - Night
     
  16. Pemmer Harge

    Pemmer Harge Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Although I still don't really see the point of the Prophets engineering Sisko's birth (especially in light of what comes after), I did find Shadows and Symbols to be the best DS9 episode for quite a while, at least since Valiant. I liked seeing Benny Russell again and I enjoyed Kira's storyline a lot.
     
  17. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Very cool. All the Benny Russell stuff is awesome. It's also extremely sophisticated, in both the positive and negative sense. Positive, in that it is an intricate and quite fascinating way of contemplating the relationship between fiction and reality (does it matter? does it mean anything? if so, why?). Negative, in that it is perhaps overly complex and a bit self-indulgent. This duality characterizes much of DS9, actually, which is I think what Ron Moore is referring to in his Voyager "exit interview" when he says that DS9 is the epitome of what has been accomplished creatively in the Trek universe, but perhaps a bit too complex and "inside," i.e. prone to navel-gazing.

    I'm a tad uncomfortable playing the role of defender of this plot development, since it's not something that I ardently enjoy. I don't, for example, think the series would have been greatly impoverished without it, the way it would have if, say, Benny Russell had never been invented, or if Kira hadn't gone to Cardassia in the final arc, or if Chimera had never been written, etc. However, I don't vehemently oppose it either, and I disagree that it is irrelevant in the grand schemes of things.

    So, with that in mind, I shall begin my measured, not entirely impassioned, yet sincere defense of this plot point ;)

    Briefly, its contributions are as follows:

    It tightens the focus on the non-linear nature of the Prophets
    This has been their primary distinguishing characteristic since the pilot, and the writers have played with the idea in interesting ways before, notably in the Emissary trilogy. That said, nothing that had been done up until this point had really forced Sisko or the audience to confront the seeming paradox of the Prophets' non-linear existence the way these episodes do because they affect an important character in an intimate, troubling manner. We can tell these episodes were effective at accomplishing this because some fans object to this development as nonsensical, whereas it isn't any less logical (given the Prophets' non-linear existence) than the events of Destiny or Ascension: it's just more blatant and forces us to think about the concept of non-linear existence, whereas previously it was easier to ignore.

    Sisko's relationship with the Prophets is more intimate from here on
    This is partly important for dramatic reasons: there's only so much that can be done with the kind of visions the show had previously used, with random characters incarnating the Prophets. From here forward, Sarah speaks for the Prophets, which makes for more intimate, affecting scenes, since the Prophets now have a face and a voice. This is also important because it allows the Prophets' love for Sisko to manifest itself more clearly: he is not just their tool, he is their child.

    The Sisko is "of Bajor"
    What does this mean, either for the Prophets themselves, or for Sisko? That they live near this planet, and that he works nearby? Meh. The enigmatic phrase has to mean something more. The writers where smart enough never to spell this out for us, but the revelation of Shadows and Symbols makes it pretty clear: the soul or "Pagh" is "of Bajor," i.e. it is Bajoran, or in Sisko's case part-Bajoran.

    Additional religious resonance
    The Prophets partly exist as a way for DS9 to integrate religious themes and questions into its sci-fi storyline. (The Link also sometimes serves this purpose.) A demi-god, semi-divine figure, or "child of the gods" is of central importance to many religions and mythologies, so this plot point allows the show to present a sci-fi take on those ideas, just like the non-linear existence of the Prophets allows the show to present a sci-fi take on notions of destiny, fate, pre-destination, and their (perhaps only apparent) contradiction with the notion of freewill. The compatibility of God's omniscience with humanity's freewil is a central question of Christian theology, for example.

    DS9 is partly a story about stories
    It's a bit too sophisticated and self-indulgent at times, but DS9 is partly a show about the show's creators' own creative struggles: against the studio, against stale Trek tropes, against their own writing habits. Increasingly in the later seasons, the Prophets can be read as incarnating the show's creators who exist outside the linear time of the story itself, and who are god-like with reference to the story without being anything special themselves, and who are also strangely dependant on the fictional universe they manipulate (for inspiration, for their own careers, etc.). These meta-story elements are particularly common at the end of season six and the beginning of season seven, I think because there was uncertainty as to whether there was going to be only six seasons of the show, or whether an additional season would be green-lit.

    Sisko is a child of the Prophets because he has a special relationship with the show's creators: he is the Captain and the Emissary. The writers are just recognizing a simple fact that is true for all the Trek Captains: Kirk and Picard were writer's babies as well, the stories just never bothered to break with suspension of disbelief to recognize this simple reality. We were just supposed to believe that they always came out on top because they were just that super-awesome. As Dukat points out to Damar (I'm paraphrasing): "we made the mistake of fighting Sisko and the Bajorans, when we should have been fighting their gods."

    Two types of beings are capable of ret-cons: the Prophets and the writers, i.e. they are one and the same.

    To put it another way, the revelation that Sisko is the Prophets' child is tied to his second existence as Benny Russell: he exists inside and outside the story, he is part character and part creator, part Captain and part writer.

    I think that's more than enough to justify the inclusion of this plotline, though I certainly have no trouble understanding why it is not palatable to everyone. For one thing, there is the issue of the Prophets' manipulation of Sarah. I have a feeling we will have a chance to discuss that more fully in the near future ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  18. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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    Exemplary writing, flemm.
     
  19. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like the plot because it makes my username seem clever and not the egotistical creation it really is.
     
  20. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is a total shark jump and shameless retcon of your previous opinion.

    Thanks, Jeff ;)
     

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