TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

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

  1. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    I kind of like Past Tense as well, even though Ln X is right in that Bashir is ridiculously naive.

    It's great because people from both sides of the political spectrum can make compelling arguments from it. I'll save my thoughts (from the "conservative" side of the spectrum) until after Part II, however.
     
  2. apenpaap

    apenpaap Commodore Commodore

    I really liked Bashir in this episode; I think it's where he really starts to develop from the guy he was in season 1 to the guy he is in season 7.
     
  3. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Past Tense, Part 2 (***½)

    On the second part of this very special episode of Blossom, Captain Sisko keeps the peace by wielding a shotgun, Kira and O'Brien meet some hippies, and Odo says "Whoa!" While still being quite preachy, this episode tones it down a bit from part one where the majority of the story consisted of Sisko and Bashir talking about how horrible the whole sanctuary district thing is. That's because this episode actually has a story, a story about hostages, madmen, and internetworks. Still, the episode does end with one of the least subtle scenes in the show, where Bashir asks Sisko why things were allowed to get so bad. I half-expected Sisko to look directly into the camera and say "Only you can prevent ̶w̶i̶l̶d̶f̶i̶r̶e̶s̶ sanctuary districts."

    A lot is made of Sisko's characterisation in this episode and how it signals the true arrival of The Sisko. I have to admit that during this rewatch Avery Brook's performance wasn't quite as off-key as I remembered it being in the early seasons. All the weird little eccentricities and restrained anger were there all along, but the writers didn't seem to get a handle on how to write for the character yet. In this episode he finally gets a chance to cut loose and be a badass, which is something that Avery's "theatrical" style was made for, so it's not so much that Sisko's character changed it's just that it finally starts to develop in the right way. As for Avery Brooks' performance, I can understand why some people have a problem for it but to me it's just part of the character. Sisko's a little weird and that's part of the reason why I like him. And from what I've seen in interviews Avery is pretty weird himself, which is why I like him too. ;)

    Less commented upon about this episode is how Bashir's character comes of age too. His obnoxiousness has been toned down considerably since the first season, but coming into contact with such abject poverty appears to have changed him somewhat. Remember back in Emissary how he revelled about the possibilities of being out on the frontier? Well, now he has truly experienced what that means and he has found the frontier on his own home planet, which is a pretty big learning experience for him. He's less the brave, young, idealistic doctor, now he transitions into a more seasoned, cynical phase which will culminate with the Section 31 arc in the later seasons.

    As an aside, back when I first saw this episode I scoffed slightly at the idea of "the net". The internet was a big buzzword at the time, futurologists were talking about how it would revolutionise the world and it seemed like Star Trek was buying into the spin. I was wrong, if anything this episode undersold just how big a thing the internet would be. Of course, this episode also overestimated how interested internet users would be in current events and tragedies when they could be watching clips of people wiggling their eyebrows on Youtube or making comical images about insane wolves.
     
  4. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    This is pretty good episode, mostly due to Sisko and Bashir's "coming of age." However, I think it truly misses the mark with "the message."

    The Sanctuary Districts aren't examples of what happens when people at large stop caring, it's what happens when governments stop caring. What we have here is a situation where the government has forcibly relocated people it deems "undesirable" into special areas that are separated from the rest of the public. It then forces those people to remain there and violently reacts when they try to change their lives. Does that excuse the fact that the general public seems oblivious? No. However, I would say it shows that people are under the impression of "well, the government is taking care of the situation, so why should I bother with it." Whenever the government takes over something like this, you get the extreme overreaction of storm the place with guns blazing, and that isn't justified either. Private individuals and groups need to step up and deal with the situation in a humane way - something governments, IMHO, aren't capable of doing.

    We also have a situation where the government is using rationing to control the public - just like big governments tend to do. When Sisko and Bashir are first caught, they're asked to produce their "U.H.C. cards" (Universal Health Care cards maybe?). When they can't do that, they're immediately assumed to be vagrants and carted off to the District by men who work directly for the government. And yet, amazingly, the episode never makes mention of the fact that if it wasn't for these government programs the problems wouldn't exist in the first place. No, instead it's the fault of the general public for "not caring." :rolleyes: You get the distinct impression that the episode's ultimate message is that what is needed is an even larger government to come in and fix the problems even though it was the government that caused them in the first place. Intervention wouldn't solve the problem of intervention.

    Of course, all that ignores the problem of B.C. being a cold-blooded killer who gets a pass just because he's homeless.

    Sometimes the show delves into libertarian ideas like this (Shakaar being another example), but often doesn't follow through with them.
     
  5. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Past Tense is a pretty good episode; both parts have their flaws, certainly, but overall its well worth watching.

    Very good points, Admiral Shran. Particularly the tendency for the answer to a problem being, somehow, more of the same. This is a mindset that seems to occur frequently - not just in politics, I hasten to add, but everywhere. People are willing to question, but only so far. All too often, they'll register the problem but are unwilling to truly commit psychologically to the acknowledgment. They fall back on what seems safe, despite that often being, in part at least, exactly what provoked or worsened the problem in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  6. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Agreed. (Great analysis, by the way). It's also the best form of character development - that which occurs without overt commentary; unmistakable, but allowed to unfold at its own pace.
     
  7. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly, which goes along with how I and others feel that even the heroes act ridiculously naive.
     
  8. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Was just thinking about this again the other day, and when I first saw this, BBC2 aired it as a double-length episode. I don't know if that affected how much I enjoyed it as I think part two is a bit better than part one.

    How was this aired in the USA? I sort of lean towards it being two seperate episodes as that's how it's presented on the DVDs.
     
  9. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Life Support (**)

    Speaking of character growth for Bashir, this episode provides a good example of that. Here his attempts to save a man's life end up killing him by another means, and Bashir is not only willing to accept that, he also passionately argues that the man must be allowed to die rather than become a machine in the body of a man. I can't quite imagine the "brilliant" young doctor of season 1 doing that. So this is a pretty good episode for Bashir, and also for Bareil as he roundaboutly chooses to sacrifice himself for the good of Bajor. Then he dies, leaving fans of vaguely creepy monks weeping the world over. Was it a good idea to kill off Bareil at this juncture? Sure, it seems somewhat cynical for the writers to kill off a character because their plans changed and he no longer appeared useful. But at the same time, if the character was going to be relegated to the role of ineptly chasing tail as in Fascination then perhaps it's best to kill him off in a respectful manner and be done with it. After all, isn't that the argument that some make about Dukat later in the show, that he should have been killed off rather than allowed to go in the direction he did?

    However, despite its good points, this plot just doesn't work that well. The idea that Bareil is the only person out of all the Bajorans that it capable of carrying out these negotiations is a stretch, and to try and drive that point home they have to make Winn completely incompetent as a negotiator. This woman is supposed to be Machiavellian schemer to be reckoned with, so her constant whining that she needs Bareil to tell her what to do feels out of place. They try to add some complexity to the character in this episode by claiming that the role of Kai has changed her for the better, but she's still a glory-seeker at her core.

    Meanwhile, Jake and Nog realise that they're culturally different and come to respect those differences. No! I know that IDIC is supposed to be at the core of Star Trek, or at least its merchandising wing, but Nog acts way outside the bounds of cultural respectability here. It's one thing to expect a "female" to cut up his food for him, that's a bit derogatory and weird but it's not purely offensive, but calling a woman stupid and telling her to shut up is out-and-out unacceptable. And for Sisko to tell his son that that's okay because that's Ferengi culture and it must be accepted, what kind of parenting is that? "Don't mistreat women, son, but it's okay for your friend to do it because that's his culture." I'm not saying that the Federation should invade Ferenginar to free the females, but the way that the Ferengi treat women is wrong and it's absolutely right to tell them that. What's more, this plot just does not fit right with season 3 Nog, especially not considering he's going to petition to join Starfleet in the next episode. This would have made more sense back in season 1.
     
  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I rather like the notion that Winn really could have handled the negotiations herself, but wanted Bareil out of the picture for good.

    I think it's very dangerous for one culture to say that its values are "better" than another's, regardless of how "universal" it may be. Additionally, if you think the Federation should do something about it, what would you have them do? Simply say, "Oh that's wrong!" and move on?
    As we don't know what may have led to Ferengi society forming the way it did, I don't think we're in any position to objectively judge them. Not saying we have to approve, but I have a pretty good idea how humans would feel if an alien race came along one day and told us all the ways in which we were doing things wrong.
     
  11. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    DonIago is right, this ain't frigging TNG, where the humans culturally assimulate everything. I prefer Sisko's balanced approach to Picard's morally high standards anyday. Besides I thought Nog was just being a Ferengi... Don't forget in The Visitor Jake (middle aged one) makes that passing reference about Nog and girlfriends, and Nog says something like 'yeah things did go better when I stopped asking them to chew my food'.

    Yah see. Nog was behaving naturally, even though to us he was being a right old asshole. As for the A-plot I thought it was a bit of stretch that Bareil was the only one who could make these talks succeed, but I loved Bashir's qualms about extending Bareil's life, and Bashir cutting Kai Winn down to size. If it was Bareil's time to go then it is his time to go when he was still useful as a secondary character. I'm glad Bareil is out of the way so that we can have Kira/Odo later on.

    In all honesty this episode should have had 3 stars as it was good, and not mediocre.
     
  12. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think the way Bareil died was a bit crummy, and I wish something more grand had happened that would have had harder-hitting consequences for the storyline. I like the suggestion of Winn offing him, perhaps after he helps her with negtiations? Having her cake and eating it to. Just not in the VOY sense. ;)

    I do agree with the writers that it was best to have him leave the show, as they had changed their plans with Bajor. Letting him leave the series in a dignified manner is better than keeping him around solely to be Kira's boyfriend. It's a shallow use of a character that was introduced with grander intentions.

    I think the Nog storyline was fine though. I understand that the Ferengi as a culture are very annoying, but itsn't that the point here? Jake isn't being understanding of Nog, and is embarressed. Sisko is on the money, and it's his sort of stance that makes DS9 better than TNG at the end of the day.
     
  13. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Aye men to that brother!:angel:
     
  14. defiantfan

    defiantfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I totally agree that "Life Support" really showed how Bashir's character evolved, I was especially impressed at a scene between just Bashir and Winn. I felt like the young Siddig really held his own with the Oscar winner Fletcher.
     
  15. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    I also really like the development for Bashir here. It's a shame that it will be somewhat undone later in The Quickening. There he actively fights against letting people die in dignity, even when they want to do so, so he can prolong their lives as long as possible without care for their pain.

    I also like that they let Bareil go here. He's dead and he stays dead (well, sort of). That's another indication of this not being like TNG, where the dead would usually come back somehow.

    As for the B-plot, if I were in Jake's or Sisko's shoes, I'd let Nog know that I considered his behavior unacceptable and would try to lead by example - showing him that treating women as equals is better instead of forcing to treat them as equals.
     
  16. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think once you've told someone you consider their behavior "unacceptable" they're unlikely to give you the chance to lead by example.
     
  17. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Well, in that case, I would just lead by example then, without telling Nog how I really felt. For instance, show he that treating women like equals wields more rewarding results than treating them as inferiors. A Ferengi should find that convincing.
     
  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Better plan. :techman: Especially if Jake could somehow convince Nog that it was more "profitable".
     
  19. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    :techman: That's what I meant. ;)

    After all, Nog himself says "Money is money, but women are better."
     
  20. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought this one might spark a debate alright. :lol:

    Yeah, pretty much. What's wrong with that? When politicians, celebrities, and everyday people in western societies spoke out against apartheid, were they wrong to do that? When apartheid fell, should we have felt ashamed that pressure from western society played a role in the destruction of a keystone of white South African culture? Well, we didn't, we patted ourselves on the back for a job well done then went back to watching crappy American TV shows.

    I'd like to think that we could do the same thing today to help end the discrimination against women in places like Saudi Arabia, but our love of oil prevents that and I'm not selfless enough to risk the ability to buy cheap things for the sake of people I've never met. But if I ever met a man who tried to treat a woman like that in front of me I'm not going to give him a pass because of his culture.

    Annoying is repeatedly playing the same song on a bagpipe for three hours. Calling someone dumb to their face because they have the temerity to have a vagina was downright offensive.