TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by TheGodBen, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. AdmiralScreed

    AdmiralScreed Captain Captain

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    Paradise is an extremely underrated episode. I completely agree with your analysis, including the bit about the ending being unrealistic. Other than that, this really is a terrific episode. Brooks gave a truly memorable performance, and the scenes with him and the box are, like you mentioned, very iconic.
    Great review! Like you, I would give this episode a 3.5.
     
  2. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    I'm going to be upfront about this.... I hate this episode.

    The only good things are Brooks' performance and the simple fact that we're actually focusing on Sisko at long last. But that alone is just not enough to save this turd for me.

    First off, if this was going to be an effective story of two competing philosophies, which is what I think the writers were going for, than Alixus really needed to presented much more sympathetically. As TheGodBen said, as it stands, she's a fucking loon and it really shows. We're left with no philosophical, moral or simple common-sense choice but to side with Sisko. Now, I would have sided with him anyway because I've never understood the anti-technology/automation argument that it "takes away from a person's true potential." Like was said, technology is the way in which we make our lives better and more efficient so we can have time to indulge in self-improvement instead of being required to perform back-breaking, grueling labor.

    Apparently, Alixus is of the the opinion that such back-breaking work is somehow conducive to the human spirit. "Break out the shovels men! Digging into that cow shit is going to make you a better human being!"

    Second, something that goes along with my first point, is that Alixus is, essentially, a dictator/tyrant. She has literally kidnapped these people, systematically brainwashed them over the course of years, essentially imprisoned them and tortured them with her brutal discipline methods all in order to satisfy her own desires and philosophy. In addition to that, she forces them to do the hard work of society, while she enjoys a life of comfort with her philosophy and writings (Animal Farm anybody?!) If that's not the definition of a tyrant, I don't know what is. And yet, all the colonists simply accept her commanded way of life seemingly without question (even to the absurd length of refusing to leave when they have the chance, which TheGodBen covered). If someone tried to impose that life on me, I wouldn't be saying "Oh yes, please put me in the sweat-box!" I'd instead be reaching for my gun.

    I said more on Paradise in Shatnertage's review thread, so I'll leave it with this, for now.
     
  3. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shadowplay (***)

    If I was asked to sum up this episode in one word it would be this: Pleasant. It's not great, but it's not bad, it has some good character moments and it manages to be enjoyable without being anything special.

    The main plot involves Jadzia and Odo discovering a village where the townsfolk are disappearing, so they decide to help out because they're the good guys and that's what good guys do. The twist in this plot is that most of the villagers are holograms living in a program made by a refugee of the Dominion. It's not a ground-breaking story, it's just pleasant. So pleasant that it would later be copied almost entirely for an episode of Enterprise, but they added a phaser-fight because bitches love phaser-fights. There's some nice moments for Odo, but the best thing for me as a returning viewer was hearing the folk-tales about the Changelings, it adds to their mythos in a subtle way prior to their (unplanned) introduction next season.

    The least effective of the three plots revolves around Kira and Bareil and how they hook up. Firstly, Odo has a security staff, why is Kira the one that takes charge of keeping Quark in line and not one of the deputies? And how does Quark know that Kira and Bareil like to fantasise about getting it on with each other in front of the Council of Ministers? This plot didn't need the Quark angle, Bareil could just have shown up and gotten Kira all hot with his attractive creepiness, but I guess that wouldn't have fit in with the "shadowplay" angle of the story. But other than the Quark thing, it's a fairly pleasant story.

    My favourite story revolves around Jake and his dilemma about not wanting to join Starfleet. In once sense this was a smart move in defying the audience's expectations and it further distances Jake from Wesley, but in the long run it's hard to deny that it hurt the character as he doesn't have a place in the long-running arcs of the show. In the final season Nog is a more important and visible character even though he's not part of the main cast, and all because he chose to join Starfleet. But ignoring the future problems with the character, this is still a nice story for Jake, and for The Sisko himself as he doesn't take it personally when Jake tells him the truth and only wants Jake to be happy. It's a nice pleasant story.

    Form of... a spinny thing: 12
     
  4. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree - the Jake part of the episode is easliy the most interesting. I was happy that he didn't want to grow up to be Wesley Crusher, though we wouldn't know at the time how limited his role would end up becoming on the show. It's a very solid character choice though, and even though Jake doesn't have a huge role to play in later seasons, he still appears in some of the best shows of the series.

    The rest of the episode, for me, is average, which is a shame. What I want to know is did ENT intentionally lift this story, knowing they were going to have Auberjonois as a guest, or was it just it all a big honking conincidence? IIRC, that episode (Oasis?) also ended up being average. I rest my case. :p

    Also, I've tried racking my brain trying to work out what happened in Paradise. I've read your review, and I've read Jammer's summary, and I still can't remember. :confused:

    But at least Elite Force 2 was cleared up for me. :D :techman:
     
  5. DS9 Gal AZ

    DS9 Gal AZ Captain Captain

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    It also occurs to me that in "Shadowplay," Odo got to be the Data of the episode - in TNG, Data more than once formed a (non-creepy) bond with a little girl and wound up saving her people. The difference was that Data was always kind of open and "innocent," so it was more interesting to see the charm of the little girl break through Odo's gruff exterior to the point where we could see that he's just a big ol' softie underneath, heh.
     
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    TGB, you're right that Jake became kind of aimless in later years. In a fanfic I am probably a long way away from posting, I decided to have the character get called out on that fact. His (in my opinion) lack of ambition is something that I wish we had seen be more of a source of frustration to Sisko, but at least we saw a certain other character who most certainly was ambitious confront him with it later on (though not in the best or most mature way).

    As far as the contribution to Changeling mythology, it's also quite bittersweet to see how the little girl genuinely appreciates Odo for who he is--and it seems not just because he turned into a top at the end--and contrast that against the Founders' extreme xenophobia that no solid could ever be trusted to deal with a Changeling as an equal again.
     
  7. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I love it when they pair random characters together, the pairing of Odo and Jadzia was pretty cool. I basically love any episode where Jadzia on a mission - Shadowplay, Blood Oath, The Sword of Kahless, the Quickening, Change of Heart...I just loved the damned character when it came down to it.
     
  8. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    I agree that Shadowplay is pretty average - not bad, not great. It does have some good character moments for Odo and a nice final shout-out to the Dominion before their proper introduction at the end of the season (showing that they're not just an economic and military power to reckon with, but a power that is completely willing to be brutal in their methods).

    But, I love what they with Jake here, even if it ends up meaning that he plays such a small role later in the series. When Nog joins Starfleet, it's not a rehash of Wesley Crusher, since he's someone who is trying to improve himself, not a child prodigy. If Jake had joined the service, it would have easily gone down that same route, which really would have hurt the show. As a result, Jake is much more sympathetic than Wesley to the audience, he's just another guy making his way in the world.
     
  9. Eyes

    Eyes Commodore Commodore

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    Exactly. Throughout the later seasons of the show, I was always very sympathetic with Jake, and it's hard not to be. I can see so much of myself in Jake, and I always enjoy his episodes, they feel very real, and human, and it's partly because he's a human not in Starfleet, it's also nice to have a young and, maybe, foolish civilian among the main cast. I remain of the opinion that if they'd been able to use him more, it would have been even better, but I'm satisfied with what we've got.

    Given this is where Jake really started, in a sense, I have to like the episode for this. One of the best decisions they made throughout the series.
     
  10. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    TheGodBen got it spot on. While I don't look forward to watching Shadowplay when I do watch it, it is all so pleasant and I never get that 'meh' feeling. The good thing about this is how that alien girl was not annoying (you know how it is with Trek and children, big palm to the face) and developed Odo's character in those subtle ways which die-hard DS9ers like ourselves love.

    I thought the Kira and Bareil plot was fun to watch, and I like a bit of smooching... I also thought it was more fun to watch than Jake's plot (even if that was far more thought-provoking)

    In terms of this episode this is a smart move by Jake not having an interest in Starfleet. It feels more real, more human, and it was a bold move, even if it meant Jake's important plummeted like ENT's ratings... Jake only becomes useless as a character from season 6, but we can thank this episode for it.

    Conversely though, if Jake had gone to Starfleet Academy he would have left sometime in season 3 or 4. Which would mean we would see very little of him, or he and Nog would go together to the Acedemy. But would both eventually be posted at DS9? Now there's a question for you all...

    Thank the Prophets Jake got cold feet about joining Starfleet, otherwise we would have seen less of him, and it would have screwed up Nog's character, and tainted numerous good episodes like Empok Nor, In The Cards, Rocks and Shoals, Valiant and so forth...
     
  11. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe Starfleet Academy could have sorted out his bad posture.
     
  12. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Bad posture?
     
  13. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes, did you not notice how bad Jake's posture was all the time?
     
  14. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    No, I can't say that I did. :shrug:
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To be honest, they could have done more with Jake in the final two seasons if they wanted to, they just didn't. He was a reporter during wartime, he could have travelled to different worlds to witness the war, broadening the scope of the conflict in the process. But they either didn't have the money or the inclination to do it. Also, the original concept for In the Pale Moonlight was a good one, and if they didn't want Jake getting into conflict with his father due to their bond then they could have had Jake investigate some dodgy dealing that Martok and the Klingons were up to. But they just dropped that whole concept instead, which is unfortunate as exploring the role of the media and whether they can be harmful to military strategy during wartime would have been something interesting to explore.


    Playing God (*½)

    I've been thinking, the Trill aren't all that interesting as a species, are they? I'm not talking about individual Trill characters, but the species as a whole. They've got this gimmick with the symbiont and nothing else, all Trill stories revolve around that one thing in some way. We know almost nothing about their culture, their politics, or their traditions beyond those that relate to the symbiosis (even though 90% of Trills aren't joined). Compare that the the Bajorans, the Cardassians, the Klingons and others, those are species with defining traits but we get to see multiple angles of them as a species. Even the Fenergi have two avenues to explore, their greed and their misogyny. But the Trill have just the one, and it's interesting for a bit, but there comes a time when you feel that they're making too many trips to the same well.

    The main plot of this episode revolved around Arjin, a rather uninteresting Trill that wants to be joined, and how Jadzia judges him unworthy of the opportunity because of just how uninteresting he is. I suppose the core of this plot is about how Jadzia is still upset about being thrown out of the initiation program by Curzon due to his abrasive and judgemental attitude to her, but now she finds herself acting in a similar way to him and she tries to reconcile those two elements of her personality to find a solution that works for the new Jadzia Dax. Or something like that. It's well meaning, but it's just not that interesting and neither is Arjin.

    Then there's the b-plot. The crew has made the greatest scientific discovery of all time, an actual universe within our own, one that even contains life. So it's extremely underwhelming that this amazing discovery is reduced to a ticking timebomb that will blow up the universe in a couple of hours if they can't find a solution. In fairness, it tries to be more by having Sisko tackle the complex moral issue of whether or not to destroy the new universe to preserve his own, but it feels awkwardly added on to a plot that's already outrageous in how poorly it handles this gargantuan concept. To be honest, the concept just doesn't suit the show. DS9 doesn't do high-concept sci-fi well, and this is the highest of all concepts imaginable. DS9 is more grounded in characters and societies and how they interact with one another, so hearing Sisko do a log entry debating the fate of two entire universes just doesn't sound right. On TNG or Voyager this plot may have stood a chance, but on DS9 it sticks out like Steve Bushemi at a Scandinavian male model convention.
     
  16. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'll admit I kind of liked Arjin and hoped we'd see more of him (especially if he ended up getting joined). Anyone know whether any non-canon materials ever followed up on him?
     
  17. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Sometimes I think "Playing God" might actually be worse than "Meridian."
     
  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    At least PG has a character in it who I feel I can actually relate to.
     
  19. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Playing God had some serious sci-fi slock... A miniture universe? Right... It scarry to think that could have been their universe or think of the ending of Men in Black, with that alien playing around with universes. CRAZY!

    This was a meh episode that used the Trill guy to really showcase Dax's character. It's probably from this episode that see the Curzon in Jadzia: singing Klingon opera, greeting that Trill guy with just a towel on...

    I disagree with TheGodBen that Trill episodes lose their interest, this Trill episode was not interesting. But I thought Dax, Facets and Rejoined are all good Trill episodes. Maybe the angle about the Trill was one-sided, but I think the Trill were a culture like any other. Perhaps closely related to 24th century Earth, except for the symbionts and all.

    The best bits of Playing God was Arjin confronting Jadzia, that was good, and then Arjin crying into his synthale... The worst bit was right at the end when Jadzia pulls off the most stupidest of winning looks and says 'I'm not Curzon!'

    Jeez... About the dumbest lines ever, and some of the dumbest directing ever. Seriously how many times have you thought about a person you did not really like, or had bad memories of, and say out loud in public: 'I'm not <blank>'.
     
  20. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Honestly, I think the problem with the Trill is that they just didn't try. It's not like there isn't plenty of possibility there with a minimum of effort (hell, the DS9 Relaunch made the skeletons in the closet of Trill society a running plot thread for 6 books), it's that they were more interested in exploring Cardsassians, Bajorans, Ferengi, and Klingons. Which is fair enough and I can't blame them (well... the Ferengi...), but the Trill in general end up getting the Jake treatment.

    I've always liked Playing God well enough, but it was never all that great to me. The backstory was more interesting than the actual plot, unfortunately.