TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

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

  1. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That a lot of the ideas we eventually see in season 7 were already being kicked around in the prior season is attested by Statistical Probabilities especially, but, I think also, The Reckoning.

    So... I think that makes sense. Getting the Romulans involved was the one trigger that was pulled, brilliantly, in season 6.

    The Sound of Her Voice works ok, imo, as a kind of "calm before the storm" sort of episode, a little like In the Cards prior to Call to Arms, though that one is more comic, while this one has a contemplative/ominous vibe.

    And the season finale does deliver, though perhaps not in spectacular fashion. My only real issue with it is that there has been too much of a lull already, in this season. So, we didn't really need a contemplative/quiet episode at this point.
     
  2. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Tears of the Prophets (***)

    After a half-season of mostly faffing about, the return of the show's major arc should probably have been cause for celebration, but Tears of the Prophets actually makes me even more upset about all the fluff recently. This episode just tries to do too much in 45 minutes and the result is a story that feels like a collection of random events. The most random of these events, and what this episode is most famous for, is the death of Jadzia Dax. I like Jadzia, but I have no problem with the decision to kill her off. I also have no problem with her dying a pointless, unheroic, death. Sometimes great stories can come from randomly killing off characters and witnessing how the other characters react. But I have to agree with a point that was made earlier in this thread: Jadzia's death was too random. Dying in a car crash is a tragedy. Drowning in a fast-flowing river is a tragedy. Getting stabbed during a mugging is a tragedy. Going to a temple where a demonically-possessed dictator appears and getting killed with a beam of magical fire is just weird. I feel reasonably confident in saying that nobody in all of history has ever died that way.

    Meanwhile, Sisko and the admiralty that he's seemingly in charge of decide to plot out the invasion of Cardassia over a single weekend. That's the impression the episode leaves, at least. I'm fairly sure that D-Day took more planning than Churchill telling Roosevelt that he wanted to invade France Tuesday-week. At least in Favor the Bold the planning of Operation Return took a whole episode, and they were even forced to launch that attack before it was ready. In Tears of the Prophets, Sisko plans out the attack, convinces the Romulans to get involved, the allied fleets launch the invasion, successfully seize control of the Chin'toka system, the Defiant rushes home to DS9, and there's time enough to spare for Sisko to take the major decision to return to Earth. This is far too much material to cram into 45 minutes, and the result is a rushed episode. This should have been a two-parter at the very least, with the added advantage that it would have taken the slot of one of the pointless fluff episodes.

    Still, it's not a bad episode. The formation of the alliance between the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans is good, although such a historic grouping deserved more than a sub-plot. The return of Damar and Weyoun hits all the right notes, and the scenes where Weyoun's mask slips completely off as the diplomatic Vorta expresses his outrage is delicious to watch. The battle footage is also really good, although I'm not a fan of the fact that they found a [tech] solution to the problem. This is DS9, not Voyager, on DS9 you're supposed to solve problems by firing endless supplies of torpedoes at things, not remodulating the deflector dish to yadda yadda.

    Wormhole in Peril: 9
     
  3. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Even though the producers had to keep the show relatively episodic, you'd think by this point it wouldn't be too much to throw a scene or two detailing this build-up to the invasion in the episodes prior.
     
  4. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Precisely. I know that DS9 was a bit of a pioneer in arc storytelling for Star Trek, but the writers had managed big events in far more satisfying ways previously. Were they experiencing fatigue after the Occupation Arc?

    Perhaps it was it something as simple as the behind the scenes change they had when Robert Hewitt Wolfe left? Bradley Weddle and David Thompson went on to be excellent writers on the new BSG series, but it was DS9 where they cut their teeth. I think they had credits on Prodigal Daughter and Extreme Measures, which were both decidedly dodgy.

    Whatever happened, season six ended in a muddle. There's a similar sort of muddle during season seven, where the writers spend either too much time shoving Ezri down our throats, or showing us frivolous escapades. All of which have varying degrees of quality.

    I've said before that I do enjoy Sacrifice of Angels though even though Jadzia's death was crap. I understand the poignancy of a non-heroic, brutal death, but this one tipped far too heavily into hilariously camp.
     
  5. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There's a lot "meta" writing in DS9 in later seasons, otherwise known as "writing about writing," or "navel-gazing," some might say. Far Beyond the Stars is the first place this becomes super obvious: the writers are writing about their own creative struggles.

    Or, another way to look at it would be that the uncertainty about the show's future starts to poke through in a lot of places. Also, I've no doubt that it's partly the result of some of these writers writing for Trek for a long time, and starting to wonder why they are bothering, etc.

    Anyway, Tears of the Prophets can also be seen that way. Part of the problem with "wrapping up" DS9 is the need to deal with both the war and the Emissary/Prophets angle alongside one another, so Sisko himself is torn between those conflicting duties.

    At the end of the season, the connection between the characters and the Prophets (= writers) has been lost, and Sisko goes back to earth to ponder the whole thing in between seasons, as the writers themselves mull it over. Later, the beginning of season 7 picks up on this, with Sisko, as the Emissary, needing to re-establish the connection with the Prophets, and Benny, in the vision, needing to "finish the story."

    I don't know that this makes Tears of the Prophets a better episode, but it does make it a bit more interesting, I think.

    As for Jadzia's death, I agree with it being somewhat odd and underwhelming. Had I been a bigger fan of her character in the first place, I guess it might bother me quite a bit. On the bright side, she gets a fitting send-off at the beginning of season 7.

    It's an interesting tidbit that Kira takes command of the Defiant, rather than Worf, who we have usually seen commanding the Defiant in Sisko's absence.

    Probably it's partly the writer's desire to reinforce Kira's command role again here at the end of the show, as it had really lost prominence in the middle seasons.

    As a story/character moment, I like it a lot, though, as it harkens back to some of the season three and four material, where Kira and Sisko start to get along, and she says she believes that she was chosen to help the Emissary, or something like that (in Destiny, I think).
     
  6. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd like to think that this is the result of interference from on high, but I suspect it's just the result of the writers not thinking things through in advance. Other than the designated arc episodes, they seemed to approach each episode as its own story, just like they learned to do on TNG. This is definitely one area where Babylon 5 outshines DS9. The shows are pretty evenly matched in my opinion, but B5 always kept sight of the grand plan while DS9 kept losing track of it.

    According to Ron Moore, it was a last minute change and they goofed it up:

    But I think that ties in nicely with what you were saying about the writers losing track of the characters. They can't even remember who the XO of the Defiant is at this point, they must really have needed to sit back and refresh their batteries. ;)
     
  7. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    LoL, interesting. Well, it was a positive goof-up, anyway, I would say. Worf taking command at that point isn't really meaningful at all, while Kira doing so makes for a nice moment.

    It seems to lead in, accidentally, I guess, to her being left in command of the station and her promotion in the next season.

    Edit: Re-reading that quote, it seems like the "goof-up" is just forgetting that Worf would technically outrank Kira on the Defiant, but from the point of view of the story, Kira is the better choice by far.
     
  8. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I never really liked the idea of Kira having a post on the Defiant. Just because the US and France are sharing a naval base doesn't mean a French captain is going to take command of a US ship.
     
  9. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    When The Sisko says the non-Starfleet-officer is in charge, the non-Starfleet-officer is in charge.:mallory:
     
  10. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Season 6 Review

    [​IMG]

    The trendline in this graph starkly expresses what I've been saying about season 6 for the last few weeks; it starts out great and goes downhill. Glancing through the old graphs from all the shows I've reviewed, this is the steepest decline of them all. The overall average for this season was 6.423, which is still a pretty strong score, but it's a considerable decline from season 5 and just fractionally ahead of season 4. If we break the season into two halves of 13 episodes, the first half has an average score of 7.231, which would have been the highest average I ever awarded a season. The second half has an average score of 5.615. That's not a bad score, but it's closer to season 1 than any of the seasons that came since. That's a crazy disparity between the two halves, especially for a show that has been consistent or improving for most of its run.

    [​IMG]

    Like last season, I rated six episodes this season as absolute classic episodes, but this season has the highest number of below average scores since season 2. Six episodes were rated below average, three were average, while seventeen were above average.
    Best episode: In the Pale Moonlight
    Worst episode: Profit and Lace


    The Writers

    No new writers this season, but the departure of Robert Hewitt Wolfe has led to Ira Behr teaming up with Hans Beimler. Does that change anything?

    [​IMG]

    Ron Moore maintains his lead with a score of 7.333, with René Echevarria a little behind with a score of 7. Behr and Beimler both get a score of 6.222 this season. Bradley Thompson and David Weddle are at the bottom of the table with a score of 5.2.

    [​IMG]

    Last season, Ron Moore won a technical lead over Peter Allan Fields because they were tied with Moore having more credits overall. This season, Ron Moore officially moves ahead with an average score of 7.273, which gives him a lead of 0.023. Echevarria is next with a score of 6.812, which is well ahead of DS9's average score so far. Wolfe remains on 6.187. Beimler moves up to 5.944, while Behr moves up to 5.927. Thompson and Weddle move down to 5.571, slightly ahead of Michael Piller's 5.5.

    With one season to go, Ron Moore needs to keep his game up to win the race, but Ron Moore doesn't seem like the sort of guy to screw things up in the final season, does he? :shifty:


    Statistics

    Runabouts Lost: 8 (+1)
    Form of... : 33 (+2)
    Wormhole in Peril: 9 (+2)
    Sykonee's Counter: 35 (+1)
    Stupid French Things: 5 (+1)

    Season 1 Average: 5.211
    Season 2 Average: 6.231
    Season 3 Average: 6.192
    Season 4 Average: 6.4
    Season 5 Average: 6.808
    Season 6 Average: 6.423

    Overall Average: 6.257

    Voyager Average After 6 Seasons: 4.889
    Enterprise Overall Average: 5.206
    Babylon 5 Overall Average: 6.121


    In Summation

    As explained earlier, season 6 is a season of two halves. The first half of season 6 is my favourite run of episodes in all of Star Trek, it was ambitious and exciting with some fantastic arc developments and character stories. The occupation arc was a huge success and defined what's best about DS9. But the second half of the season was the weakest DS9 has been since the first half of season 2. The show lost its direction, and all the ambition shown in the first half of the season evaporated into a fog of meaningless fluff. It wasn't all bad, In the Pale Moonlight is easily one of Star Trek's best episodes, but the show lost track of where it was going and what it was trying to achieve, so much so that the season finale seems like it came out of nowhere.

    I've been saying for the last few seasons that DS9's biggest problem is that it's stuck between being a serialised show and an episodic one, and season 6 strains this problem to the point of incredulity. To twist one of the show's own speeches: "People are dying out there, every day! Entire worlds are struggling for their freedom! And here I am playing dress-up in 1960's Vegas." That version of the speech doesn't quite have the same impact, does it? Some light-hearted episodes are welcome, they prevent DS9 from becoming as bleak as nuBSG would become. (I love nuBSG, but Star Trek should never be that depressing.) Sadly, there's just too much fluff this season, and some of it goes too far. It's hard to take the threat of war seriously while Quark is exposing his boobs as part of a crazy scheme.

    Why the second half of this season struggled, we can only guess. Maybe the occupation arc burned out the writers and they floundered in their attempt to produce 26 episodes for the season. Maybe there was an edict from on high that the show needed to focus more on episodic stories and the writers struggled to get excited for that stuff. Maybe they were holding back most of their ideas for the final season. Whatever the real reason was, what could have been DS9's best season has fallen back into second place. With one more season to go, DS9 needs to change course once again and attempt to bring back the excitement that the occupation arc brought, because if it continues down this path then the show will be going out with a whimper, and not the bang it deserves.
     
  11. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is in detail stuff Ben. You really should post it all to a website or something so it doesn't get lost in the clutter of the board posterity.
     
  12. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've subscribed to all his threads so I can look at them again with ease, but a website would be good. We need someone with loads of free time and a load of money to pimp it and get the word out. Anybody around here happen to have have of those?

    I know, I'll start a collection box. Well, by start I mean get an empty jar and pass it round without putting anything in myself. It's Christmas; I'm broke. ;)

    Very good summation of the season anyway. When I was younger, I used to think season six was my favourite of all, purely because of the Occupation Arc, and In the Pale Moonlight. Of course, being older, a bit more jaded, and of having seen the episodes a thousand times, you realise that it's not all rosy.

    I've said it before but season seven is the opposite of six, though with a few more episodes dedicated to the arcs. It's better than six on the whole, though is it better than five? Trend line will go the other way anyhow. :p
     
  13. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I already have a website for my reviews. (I removed the image link to a guy fucking a car's exhaust, in case anyone is wondering.)

    Seriously, I've considered making a website for this stuff, but I don't see a point, much of the value in these threads is in discussion and commentary from everyone. Maybe it could serve as an archive of old reviews for newcomers, but without all the related posts a lot of the context would be lost.

    At the very least, I should probably get around to saving all the reviews to my computer, I don't want to risk them getting lost to a cull. But now there's so many that it would take days to do it properly, and I just haven't found the will to do it yet.
     
  14. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I have mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand, yes: DS9 is stuck between being episodic and being serialized, and the mixture is not always very convincing or compelling.

    On the other hand: it's also one of the things that makes DS9 unique. It's a show that's in a kind of creative flux a lot of the time, which makes it all the more interesting in certain respects, even if it makes the show "flawed" in certain obvious ways.

    No, but life is actually like that. People are dying out there everyday, and some of the time, we are playing dress-up, or the equivalent.


    W.H. Auden wrote a really perceptive poem about this:

    Musée des Beaux Arts


    About suffering they were never wrong,
    The old Masters: how well they understood
    Its human position: how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
    How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
    For the miraculous birth, there always must be
    Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
    On a pond at the edge of the wood:
    They never forgot
    That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
    Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
    Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
    Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

    In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.


    Even on that particular subject, I'm not sure it really detracts from DS9 as a whole that there is sometimes this jarring mix of triviality alongside the darker stories.
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The concept is sound, it's the execution that's off. Modern soldiers watch TV and play video games in their down-time, and if we had holodeck technology today then I'm sure soldiers in Afghanistan would use them for similar purposes. The problem is that DS9 shifts between extremes. One week you'll get an entirely grim, weighty episode, and the next week you get pure fluff with nary a mention that there's a war on. In the Pale Moonlight being followed by His Way is the perfect example of that. DS9 is a good show, but the semi-serialsed format makes the show seem unbalanced during the later seasons.


    Image in the Sand (***½)


    This is a quiet, somewhat sombre follow-up to the events of Tears of the Prophets, and it has an interesting discordant style. There's three plots in play, each one following up on the events of the previous episode but with almost no crossover with one another. It effectively presents a crew which has been torn apart by recent events and sets up how the show is going to bring them all back together.

    The most important of these plots is also, sadly, the weakest. Sisko's decision to return to Earth in TOTP was such a rushed development that it was difficult to digest, now we learn that he has spent 3 months since them doing nothing but play the piano. After watching The Captains, this isn't hard to imagine, but it still doesn't feel quite right. Then Sisko has a vision has a vision of a woman's face and finds out that she's his real mother, which doesn't mean much right now because we never met Sisko's supposed mother so it all feels kinda pointless, at least until the next episode. Then Sisko gets stabbed by a member of the cult of the Pah-wraiths, which seems to serve no real purpose to the plot at all. Then Ezri Dax shows up, but the episode ends before we learn anything about her.

    On the station, Kira gets promoted to Colonel and celebrates by getting a stupid new hairstyle. It's not all good news for her though, because Starfleet seemingly owns the station now and have imposed a Romulan presence on the station against her objections. This leads to a brief, quasi-racist friendship between Kira and a Romulan senator, which blows up with Kira learns that the Romulans have placed weapons on a Bajoran moon. Some tension between the allied races is welcome, just because they're all fighting the Dominion doesn't mean they like each other or work well together, and it's nice that that's being addressed here.

    The best plot of the episode is about Worf and how he's struggling to get over Jadzia's death, and how his friends are trying to understand him. Not much happens in this story, but there's some good banter between the characters, and it's nice to know that these characters still care about one another even though the family has fallen apart in recent months. It's also nice to see Worf and O'Brien reminisce about life on the Enterprise, it has been a long time since those two talked about such things.

    Meanwhile, Weyoun and Damar act as the episode's Statler and Waldorf, gleefully finding joy in the main cast's misfortune.
     
  16. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's a show-defining quality at any rate. And no doubt, to a great extent, the mix of styles is not so much an "idea" that the creators implemented as it is a by-product of Trek having a very firmly established way of producing shows that DS9 stretched and experimented with, but often reverted to as a default for practical reasons.

    But I think that, ultimately, the "problem" probably adds to the quality of the show as much as it detracts from it.
     
  17. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As funny as that line is, I just can't imagine either of them laughing, "Oh hohoho!":cardie:
     
  18. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's true. At one point, I tended to think of seasons 4-7 as one long stretch of roughly equal awesomeness.

    I guess that's partly a question of re-watch value. A lot of the mediocre season 6 episodes just don't hold up or contain much of anything that's worth going back to.
     
  19. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    I can see Weyoun doing it. It's hilarious.
     
  20. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I used to think the same way, and I think selective memory was at work. At the time, I thought that the occupation arc had lasted half the season, or at least ten episodes. But nope, it was 6 episodes, barely a fifth of the season. It still surprises me sometimes how little there is to that arc, yet it colours our judgement of the whole show.


    Shadows and Symbols (***)

    Picking up from where the previous episode left off, Ezri Dax shows up. She doesn't do much. She follows the three Sisko's to some desert world where the Prophets left an orb buried slightly under the surface for some unexplained reason. In all honesty, this plot is kinda stupid. I don't have a huge problem with the Space Jesus Sisko stuff as some people do, but I don't understand why the Prophets sent their most important orb to some random desert world nobody has ever heard of, or why they needed Sisko to open a box. They're magical beings that transcend time and space, and you're telling me that one of them got trapped inside a box? Also, this Sarah Prophet is a bloody good fighter, the Prophets were deadlocked by a single Pah-wraith until she showed and she kicked him out in an instant. In all honesty, the Prophet's plan wasn't very good, they trapped their most powerful Prophet in a magical box on a deserted world, which they planned to be opened by a guy suffering from serious psychological issues.

    Ah hell, there's no point in trying to analyse any of this, it's just a collection of magical happenings that did whatever the writers needed to happen. Sisko's divine destiny could have been to kick Bishop Brennan up the arse to release the Prophet trapped in his colon and it would have had the same end results.

    Meanwhile, Kira has the brilliant plan to take on one of the most powerful military forces in the galaxy with a flotilla of tug boats. Don't worry, it's just a game of brinkmanship, a point which is emphasised again and again by the episode, and then a few more times so that even the mentally impaired know what's going on. It's not a bad story, it's just a little repetitive, but it has a decent ending in that Admiral Ross is the one that folds and not the Romulans. As a side note, Derna orbits absurdly close to Bajor, but it's only Bajor's fourth moon, so presumably there's three other moons that orbit even closer! Good lord, imagine the tides when those moons align.

    Meanwhile meanwhile, Worf and co head out on a dangerous mission to blow up a sun with a tractor-beam, or something. Bloody useful devices, those tractor-beams. Worf's not happy about this because Worf is never happy, and he snaps at his friends because he's still in mourning over Jadzia. In the end, he realises that he's being a dick and apologises, and everyone works as a team (except Quark, who is just sort of there) to achieve a great victory and ensure Jadzia's place in Klingon heaven. Now Worf is through with mourning and can finally move on with his life, Jadzia firmly behind him. Oh, except for the fact that his dead wife has returned in a new body and nobody thought to warn him before she showed up. Ouch.