TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

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

  1. Qutluch

    Qutluch Commander Red Shirt

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    I couldn't agree more. While it wasn't my least favorite episode it just didn't fit, and I find it unrealistic that O'Brien didn't have any reaction to the experience.
     
  2. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Indeed. It's an episode that, considered as a self-contained slice of Trek, deserves to be on the "best of" list, but it's almost totally undermined by the lack of follow-up. Not that I'd want the rest of the series to feature the O'Brien that we'd be left with - and that's the problem, I suppose. DS9 might be more arc-driven than other Trek series, but it's still not a show that can tolerate having one of its characters suffer such a psychological breakdown that his place in the series needs to be renegotiated drastically. Which means it needs to step back from anything majorly disruptive. It feels strange to say something like this, given my general support for strongly character-driven stories, but sadly this episode is just too gutsy and powerful in regards to where it takes O'Brien. In the wider context of the series it's a failure, which is sad because taken alone it's anything but.
     
  3. Worf'sParmach

    Worf'sParmach Commander Red Shirt

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    I think this is done because it's an easy way to show what the person is thinking and feeling on a TV screen. Have them talk to a person that's "in their head" as a way of verbally working out what's going on inside of them. If we were reading a book about O'Brien's experience, Ee'char wouldn't be necessary.

    And I do agree with you, the way this episode was never even mentioned again was very TNG. I would have expected DS9 to let Miles be a bit "off" for a few more episodes at least.
     
  4. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think one of the more interesting things about the episode is that it is one big FU to TNG's utopian nonsense (one of many in DS9).

    O'Brien shatters the edifice of TNGs "new more evolved humans." Its nonsense and the writers on DS9 knew it. They even go so far, at one point in the series to have Quark point out that Humans are a friendly and nice people as long as the power is on and their bellies are full. Take that away and we become as savage as any Klingon. TNG, because of a directive from Roddenberry, frequently denied such sentiment. DS9 called it out for the silliness that it really was.
     
  5. MrBorg

    MrBorg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I first saw Hard Time when I was younger. For some reason, I was more disturbed by that E'char guy's death scene than anything else about the episode. It just felt... so ****ed up.
     
  6. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    I really think "Hard Time" is great. As has been said, Colm Meaney puts on a fantastic performance. And I agree with MrBorg: Ee'Char's death scene is messed up. (According to MA, that scene was edited to remove the sound of bones cracking when it aired in the UK.)

    I'm not sure this episode is really that incompatible with Roddenberry's "new evolved humans." First of all, Bashir argues quite eloquently that O'Brien's remorse is evidence itself of his being one of those "new evolved humans."

    Furthermore, O'Brien himself may believe that he briefly turned into an animal because of his own lack of restraint, but for all we know, his killing of Ee'Char could very well have been "scripted" by his captors. In which case the episode isn't really about how O'Brien dealt with being in the cell, but about how O'Brien and his friends react to his memories thereof. And those reactions are definitely in line with Roddenberry's rules. No one belittles the chief for being "weak." No one says he should try to "tough it out." Everyone clearly has O'Brien's best interests at heart. Compare that to how America treats many of its veterans today.

    Also, I'm not sure that this episode's apparent lack of explicit follow up is really that much of a drawback.

    Not to argue semantics with you here, TheGodBen, but if you look at the next few episodes, this actually doesn't happen.

    Spoilers ahead for those who care...

    O'Brien appears very briefly in the next episode (because it's an MU one). He has a very minor role in the following one, and progressively larger roles in "For The Cause," where he is a supporting character simply doing his job, "To The Death," where he gets more attention, but not really much focus since it's an ensemble episode. (And I can hear you pointing out that O'Brien sees some serious combat in that episode, at which point a mention of his recent psychological trauma would certainly have been warranted. Touché.) Only two more episodes after that, in "Body Parts," does he play a large role. Assuming each episode stands in for about two weeks (52 weeks/26 episodes = 2 weeks/episode), we're looking at 12 weeks til the spotlight shines on him again.
    Now, certainly today, with our limited understandings of neuropsychology and the neurocognitive effects of trauma, 12 weeks would hardly be enough recovery time for someone in O'Brien's position. But 400 years from now? Maybe things'll be different.

    And besides, there are lots of things in Star Trek that we know happen but that aren't discussed because they wouldn't make interesting/relevant stories. Or because there isn't time. Sisko's conversations with Starfleet Command in "In The Pale Moonlight," for example. Or Jake continuing in Mrs. O'Brien's class in the first two seasons. We never see it happen, but we know he's still going. Or Thomas Riker. We know he's still out there, and certainly there are stories to tell about him, just as there surely are about O'Brien's continued recovery. But the writers have an ensemble of characters, and looking at the episodes coming up after this, I'm really glad attention was paid to them, too.

    Would a follow up to this episode have been good? Almost definitely. But the writers would have had to find a new angle to it. Perhaps an episode that chronicles O'Brien's post-Ee'Char counseling sessions, but the focus moves to the counselor, who develops some issue of his own, et cetera, et cetera...? Would've made clear that O'Brien was still recovering while allowing a new story to be told.

    But what episode would we axe or overhaul to fit in this new storyline?
    "The Muse"? Okay, but then we either lose one of those rare Jake stories (however bad it may be), or a pretty decent (imho) Odo-Lwaxana story. Not crazy about that. Perhaps "Let He Who Is Without Sin...," but that closed the Leeta-Bashir arc nicely and, like it or not, had a very key character revelation about Worf.

    My point is that there is a glut of really solid episodes coming down the pipe, and even the weak ones are not necessarily ones that I would have wanted retooled as "Hard Time, Part 2."

    (Now, if someone wanted to write a novel about this stuff... :-D)

    My apologies for the long post. I am procrastinating.
     
  7. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I would certainly throw The Muse or Let He Who Is Without Sin out for Hard Time follow-up! They were terrible episodes. :p

    I agree with what people have been saying here in that the episode as an isolated stand alone was excellent. The way that O'Brien's issues were just dropped unceremoniously when the camera stopped rolling was a bit of a failure. It was a very TNG thing to do, and is comparable to the muck up they made of the Odo/Kira tension after the Occupation Arc.
     
  8. apenpaap

    apenpaap Commodore Commodore

    ^And in that case at least they bothered saying they talked it out, though it was really cheap of them not to show it. There is not even that in the case of O'Brien.
     
  9. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have to admit I can never decide whether I find it cheap or kind of hilarious when there's a large unresolved issue and they decide to have it taken care of off-screen. Perhaps both.

    FWIW we eventually get the details in one of the novels.
     
  10. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which novel was that?
     
  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I believe it was in the Worlds of DS9 novel that deals with the Dominion.
     
  12. InklingStar

    InklingStar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's interesting how Hard Time is basically a dark mirror of The Inner Light. Picard lived an entire lifetime in a few moments, with a loving, fulfilling family, and it inspired him to keep hold of what matters in life. O'Brien lives out a long prison sentence full of darkness and despair. How does that change a man?
     
  13. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shattered Mirror (**)

    The mirror universe is disappointingly narrow in scope. There's an entire parallel universe filled with doppelgängers of almost everyone in existence and all you have to do to get there is rub some techno-magic device across a transporter panel... and yet all its used for is cartoonish stories about rebels fighting an empire. Okay, that's not all it's used for, this episode does attempt some emotional stuff about a son meeting his μmother, but that still takes a back seat to the action. Could you imagine the repercussions of discovering such a universe? How would you feel knowing that there's another you out there doing evil things in your name? How would the religious deal with knowing that God apparently has two plans? What about those in the μniverse that would seek refuge in the prime universe? We can only guess about these outcomes because the writers aren't interested in addressing them.

    Shattered Mirror's main plot is weird. The rebels apparently have the ability to capture Terok Nor and build an advanced warship, but they still need Sisko so they sorta kidnap his son and lazily convince Sisko to help them. What about the Federation's policy of non-interference? Doesn't matter so much to Sisko, apparently. How are the characters in the prime universe reacting to Sisko being stuck in the μniverse for four days? Did they attempt to mount a rescue? We don't know because apparently that's not important. In fact, Sisko is having so much fun in the μniverse that he decides to stay and help the rebels even when he's allowed to go home. I could understand Sisko's personal reasons for wanting to save μJennifer in Through the Looking Glass, but here he just goes along with the rebels because he hasn't had a chance to blow anything up recently.

    The episode isn't exactly bad, it moves along at a swift enough pace. The visual effects for this episode are great, it was a lot of fun to watch those ships dance around the station's rings and pylons. It's just a pity that the battle doesn't matter a damn in the prime universe, I would have preferred that they used the budget spent on this episode on something with the Dominion.
     
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No wonder. I hated that story, so I'm not surprised I flushed that detail out of my mind along with the rest.
     
  15. DS9 Gal AZ

    DS9 Gal AZ Captain Captain

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    I do at least seem to recall Picard mentioning his experiences in the Inner Light again at least once after the fact. Of course, I think that was the same episode he started dating a crew member, so ...
     
  16. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Muse (*)

    There's an a-plot and b-plot to this episode and they both get equal screen-time, so let's deal with them individually.

    Jake and the brain vampire: This plot sucks. It's just awful. There's nothing redeeming about it whatsoever, everyone involved in it should be forced to shower in acid to remove any trace of this plot that stuck to them somehow.

    Odo and Lwaxana: This plot is pretty meh. There are some nice scenes for these two characters, but the plot itself is contrived. Why must Odo and Lwaxana get married in order to annul the previous marriage? Isn't Lwaxana's unborn child a citizen of the Federation and as such entitled to its protection? Why can't Lwaxana just go back to Betazed and tell her husband to screw himself? I don't know, maybe I'd be more forgiving of this plot if it didn't keep cutting back to the brain vampire stuff every couple of minutes.

    Form of... a surface: 26
    Form of... an arm blanket: 27
     
  17. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    For the Cause (****)

    This is one of the better Sisko-centric episodes in the show, possibly the best so far. He has to balance his personal feelings, his duty, his family, and his sense of justice. And he fails. His personal dilemma distracts him from the real plot that was right in front of him, the Maquis steal some expensive equipment that the Cardassians desperately need and all Sisko gets in return is a freighter-captain that was smuggling medical supplies, not to mention the anguish of arresting his own girlfriend. Looking back on this turn of events, that will be an interesting conversation that Kassidy will one day have with her child. "Did I ever tell you about the time that your father arrested me and sent me to a penal colony for a year?"

    Then there's the matter of Eddington's speech. Yes, comparing the Federation to the Borg does go too far, seeking peaceful coexistence with alien races to further scientific and cultural advancement isn't nearly as villainous a plot as forcibly transforming people into robot zombies. But I am interested in Eddington's statement that worlds aren't allowed to leave the Federation, because I've seen similar sentiments among people on this site in regards to states seceding from the US. The argument is that since the US is a liberal democracy, seeking to leave it for whatever reasons would be morally unconscionable. I don't buy that argument at all, so it would have been interesting if DS9 had investigated it further, but that never happened, sadly.

    Meanwhile, Garak and Ziyal promise not to kill one another. I was never comfortable with the Garak/Ziyal thing, she's a teenage girl and he's an unrepentant murderer, but he's also middle-aged and that's icky. I know that it was left vague, and there wasn't much of an indication that Garak reciprocated whatever feelings Ziyal had for him, but it was still a bit weird. Still, I can't help but look back at this plot knowing that their friendship will end in the infirmary, and that adds an interesting layer to the story.
     
  18. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To the Death (***)

    It's not often in Star Trek that you get to say that a character is "everyone's favourite <species>", but I think it's safe to say that Weyoun is everyone's favourite Vorta. Sure, Kilana had some great cleavage going on, and Iggy Pop was fun, but Weyoun is Weyoun, he's a part of the fabric of the show. He's so good that the writers retconned an entire species to bring him back, because they had senselessly killed him off. He's fully-formed too, he's not a personality-less goon like Damar was when he was introduced, there's no awkward gazelle-like stumbling like with Garak's omnisexuality back in Past Prologue, Weyoun is Weyoun from the moment he first appears, and Jeffrey Combs deserves a lot of credit for that. So this episode earns major points for introducing one of the series' best characters.

    The rest of the episode is pretty good too, we get to see more of the Jem'Hadar and learn about them while still maintaining their position as dangerous adversaries. There are some missteps, I don't like how this is the second episode this season where we encounter a group of rebel Jem'Hadar, and killing off Weyoun was a weird move. I like that the episode featured an Iconian gateway, little bits of continuity like that are rewarding for long-time fans while not being off-putting for newcomers, I wish that Star Trek had more throwbacks like that but things like that tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

    All that being said, I'm deducting a whole star from this episode for blowing up one of DS9's pylons like it's no big deal. When I first saw this episode, that shot of the station was jaw-dropping. The problem is that if you pull off a big moment like that and then pretend it didn't happen in the next episode, it loses its power and you become desensitised to epic moments like that. DS9 is usually pretty good with continuity and having the big moments matter in later episodes, but that doesn't happen here and that's disappointing.

    Form of... yet another satchel: 28
     
  19. apenpaap

    apenpaap Commodore Commodore

    Weyound is awesome, enough said. I loved the first time we see him too: these six massive Jem'Hadars standing in the transporter part and there's this bleak little guy in their middle who is obviously in charge. Gave me quite a chuckle.
     
  20. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Presumably, the pylon was reattached somehow. There wouldn't have been time to build an entirely new one.