TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

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

  1. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a good point, yeah. I was thinking more about the Trill in general I guess than Jadzia or Ezri specifically - they were never gonna get Bajoran or Cardassian level development, but a little more of it, or better than the examples we got, would've helped.
     
  2. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Up to the middle of S4 now. Check it!

    Edit: If anything, for the latest contribution from Rappin_Jake_Sisko in the comments.
     
  3. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A little better, maybe, but still pretty shallow for the most part, and then mostly silly in the final arc.

    Rejoined was the one episode where I thought some justice was done to the basic concept, which is pretty amazing, really. It should be a great sci-fi concept because it should allow the writers to explore issues of identity and transhumanism ("storing" memories and so on, though not by technological means in the case of the Trill).

    By comparison, Rene Echevarria especially was able to develop the concept of the changelings in a way that never really happened with the Trill. Increasingly, it's not about Odo disguising himself as a barrel or whatever, but about his struggles with his own identity, individuality, place in the universe, etc.
     
  4. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :techman:

    Yeah I wasn't thrilled with yet more Ezri, but this episode was a bit better than the last two. It's a solid mystery, and I liked that a Vulcan had been pushed into doing bad things.

    I'm not sure I buy Joran's secret murderous streak either. I preferred him in Equilibrium when he was a bit unstable, but managed to cast doubt over the symbiont selection process.
     
  5. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    By the Prophets, that's some good shit.

    The best one by far though, is this thread here, which develops into a Star Trek rap battle between Rappin Jake Sisko and Tumak the Skreean (or 2Mak, as he goes by).

    It might possibly be the best thing ever on the internet (second only to Dramatic Chipmunk).

    .
     
  6. InklingStar

    InklingStar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I rather like Field of Fire. It actually features some detective work, albeit by the counselor instead of the security officer.

    I wonder if a Star Trek: NCIS would be a ratings winner these days.
     
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    :lol:

    That's fantastic.

    I also like the discussion regarding Zek, the rambling Section 31 revisionist historian, and the Minbari cross-over sex ed content.

    EDIT: On the serious side of things, these are fantastic reviews. I'm annoyed I didn't know of them sooner.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  8. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thank you for inflating my ego. ;)

    I'll have to make some time to read through the backlog then. They were really good reviews, and what made them better was that Zack was almost entirely unspoiled. He didn't know any of the big twists, such as Odo's origins or Cardassia joining the Dominion, and that was really refreshing.
     
  9. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Chimera (****½)

    The Changeling that impersonated Martok somehow miraculously survived, and he cooked up a convoluted revenge plot on Odo. By pretending to be one of the 100 baby Changelings the Founders cruelly sent out into the galaxy, Laas hopes to turn Odo against his humanoid friends and trick him into leaving DS9.

    Or not.

    Chimera is a great episode that explores a great deal of what has gone unsaid on DS9 so far. The most unsettling truth is that the Founders are kinda right, the humanoid races are a bit racist towards them, and their ability to take any form does cause suspicion to be cast towards them. At the same time, Changelings like Laas are smug pricks. They view themselves as higher lifeforms and look down on us as limited beings that are destructive and dangerous. In time, Laas's disturbed form of Changeling pride would lead humanoids to hate his kind, and Laas would set out to kill them in his belief that he's protecting himself. Laas allows us to see the beginning of the Dominion without actually seeing it. Near the end, we get a vision of how it all started.

    For Odo, this is an eye-opening experience. He has always been aware that he's treated as an outsider, Laas just forces him to contemplate it. He has become so accustomed to fitting in with humanoids that he doesn't realise all that he's missing by not shape-shifting all the time. His friends like and trust him, but maybe that's because Odo only relates with them in a humanoid shape. How would the likes of O'Brien or Worf react if Odo decided to have a conversation with them in the shape of a luminescent octopus, or a ball of flame? They may not be opposed to Odo acting in such a way, but it would make them feel weird and understandably uncomfortable, so Odo chooses not to do these things.

    This is where my love of counting things comes in handy, because we can actually chart Odo's decline as a shape-shifter through the seasons.

    Season 1: 6
    Season 2: 6
    Season 3: 3
    Season 4: 13
    Season 5: 3
    Season 6: 2
    Season 7 (so far): 1

    As you can see, other than the random spike in shape-shifting in season 4 (which is inflated due to Odo taking part in Changeling drills), Odo's shape-shifting has been declining throughout the seasons. He has only changed shape on screen once this season, and that was a joke about his umpire outfit. (Also note that one of the shape-shifting occurrences in season 6 was when he "wore" a tux, and two of the occurrences in season 5 were jokes about his sexual anatomy and the appearance of Old Odo in Children of Time.) Odo doesn't shape-shift much publicly any more. The real reason for this probably has something to do with shape-shifting being Odo's gimmick back in the early seasons and as he developed as a character the writers didn't need to rely on it any more, but Laas' claims do make a compelling case in-universe.

    Anyway, the rest of this episode is about love and how it conquers all, especially the city of Troy. See, Kira loves Odo so much that she decides to let him go. That's not really my style of love, I come from the clingy if-you-leave-me-I'll-make-your-life-a-living-hell school of romance, but I appreciate the sentiment. Odo is so moved by this gesture that he realises not all humanoids are bad and that Kira is one person that he can truly be himself with. In a final romantic moment, Odo attempts to reveal his true nature to Kira, but he ends up smothering her with toxic fumes that make her imagine a magnificent light-show.

    Form of... pure love: 35
     
  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I love the tone you adopted for this review. :)
     
  11. Worf'sParmach

    Worf'sParmach Commander Red Shirt

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    I never noticed it before, but you're right, Odo doesn't do much shape-shifting as the show goes on. I bet it was a budget thing that just eneded up fitting his character arc, as he got more comfortable with this group of solids, he no longer felt the need to or felt comfortable changing shape. But as Laas point out, he's missing out.

    (Side note: as a physics teacher, Odo's constant violation of the Law of Conservation of Mass has always bugged me)

    As I watched that episode I kept thinking, "Why does this guy seem to familiar. It wasn't until years later, and Memory Alpha, that I figured it out.

    :guffaw: I'm with you on that one.
     
  12. apenpaap

    apenpaap Commodore Commodore

    For some reason I found this episode really poor when I first watched it. Then when I rewatched it a few months ago I wondered how drunk I'd been the first time around. I did think O'Brien's "Well, it's not us who can change our shape at will" thing as a reply to Laas claiming solids were untrustworthy (I think), was a little out of the blue, and Quark rambling about genetics was a little unlike him. (It would be more like him to talk about stuff he sees in his bar, but these lines were actually from Sisko in the original version of the script, were the ending was instead basically Sisko saying: "Yep, we're all racist bastards." and Odo going "Oh well, you're honest about it so I'll stick around." )
     
  13. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    LoL :)

    This is one of DS9's best imo. It's unusual in that a lot of DS9's finest hours go against the grain of Trek's main themes of embracing difference, cooperation between species, and a sort of optimistic vision of humanity's ability to overcome prejudice, and so on.

    This episode, on the other hand, is 100% Trek in that regard, but it does it in a way that is very simple, understated, and ultimately more profound than Trek usually is when it tries to do this type of thing.

    It also manages to do it via what is basically a love story, something Trek is historically bad at.

    If I were Echevarria, I think I would be very proud of it.

    It also has a lasting impact on the rest of the season because the emotional depth established here for Kira and Odo provides some of the strongest material in the final arc (much better than the Ezri/Worf/Bashir hijinks).
     
  14. Paper Moon

    Paper Moon Commander Red Shirt

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    In their great trilogy, Millennium, Judith and Garfield Reeves–Stevens propose that Odo shunts some of his mass into/from subspace as he changes form. A bit of a handwave, yeah, but it has the benefit of making sense in-universe.

    It's interesting, I think the episode does indeed say this, but I think it also presents a strong case for Laas being unreasonable in his conclusions and the Starfleeters (somewhat less so the Klingons) behaving appropriately.

    In any social situation, one must suppress their individuality to some degree or another. Without that, no one would every listen to anyone else, no one would ever comply with simple requests, society would grind to a halt.

    So the question becomes one of degree: how much individual expression does a society permit? Even the most free societies put some limits on individual expression (fire in a crowded theater, etc).

    Then there's the issue of cross-cultural interaction. No one likes Loud American Tourists. When you're a visitor in another culture (which Laas certainly was), you have to be respectful, to the extent you are able, of that society's laws and customs. Laas does not do this, and, in fact, goes out of his way to be rude.

    Laas proclaims his dislike/mistrust for/of monoforms loudly. What is his justification? Enough monoforms treated him badly over a long enough period that he has concluded that all monoforms are bad. And then he gets ticked at O'Brien, for expressing his dislike for/mistrust of changelings, even though O'Brien's justification is virtually identical to Laas's. (And is somewhat more convincing, since there is much more variety among monoforms than among changelings.) While I'm sympathetic to both views, and at the same time do not fully agree with either, Laas doesn't have a leg to stand on. He's being a hypocrite.

    The episode reminds me of this hypothetical situation: a white (American) man starts going to a church which is comprised totally of African-Americans, and which worships in a traditional Black Protestant style. Thing is, he's rather insensitive to the traditions, behaves rather arrogantly and selfishly, and is just generally pretty unlikable. Some members approach him after service, a few Sundays later, and inform him politely but firmly that his behavior needs to change if he wants to continue worshipping there. The man overreacts and accuses them of hating him because he's white.

    Umm, no. They don't like you because you're being, as GodBen says, a prick. That's the biggest reason.

    It's the same thing with Laas. He intentionally provokes ill-will from the station residents and then acts all wounded when they don't like him.

    Yeah, the Starfleeters could have been better. But Laas should be expected to meet them half-way. And he doesn't.

    I never thought of this before, but I really like it! I am sure it was not intentional on the parts of the writers (I think you're right in that his character developed away from the gimmicks, and that Worf'sParmach is right in that it was a budget thing too), but it sure makes a great connection! :cool:
     
  15. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Along the same lines, the writing for Laas makes good use of the Trek tendency toward having endless varieties of forehead aliens. They're not really all that alien, but Odo and the changelings are.

    There are a lot of really good subtle touches like that in this episode. For example, the fact that the Klingons are willing to resort to legal measures. With another Trek race, you might expect that, but the fact that it's the Klingons underscores the prejudice involved. You can tell it makes Worf uncomfortable in that scene.

    Also the way the Bajoran security guard doesn't hesitate to let Kira talk to Laas in spite of her relationship with Odo.
     
  16. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Chimera was very welcome return to form. It's an excellent look at how Odo perceives himself amongst solids, and the love story between him and Kira transcends any of their material from His Way onwards.

    The moment at the end where Odo meets Kira halfway with the amazing smoke and light is pretty much perfect.
     
  17. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, on the whole, I think Laas is one of those (relatively rare) characters who only appears for an episode but really makes an impact, and it's partly because his behavior and ideas can't really be dismissed, and can even be seen as courageous in a sense, but, as you say, he can also be seen as a bit of a bigot himself, depending on how you look at it.

    I think I recall reading at one point that the writers wanted to bring him back, but never got around to it, and it doesn't really surprise me. He provides a unique point of view on the changelings, whereas before we only had Odo and the Founders, basically.
     
  18. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Indeed. Laas complicates the dynamic, and that helps flesh the changelings out further ready for their final arc, in which their progressing disease separates our sense of their biology and their experience of life from their politics, at least as I see it. Being a communal lifeform as they are, with a history of (supposed) total non-aggression within their species, it does make some degree of sense that the changelings are easily wrapped up in the same package, and so in the past we've had "Odo Vs Founders", with Odo's relationship to his people being at least partly defined by monocultural politics. As The Dead Fish said back in season three, "The Changelings are the Dominion", and they're so insistent on the point that evaluating them at a remove from their political platform has been difficult. Now, though, Laas lets us finally see the changeling species in terms of an individual experience, not a political one. Odo's attempts to work out where he stands in relation to Laas' viewpoints and wishes has nothing to do with the Dominion and so forces a bit of a reconsideration of his position. Which I believe was the writers' intent with this one, wasn't it? "What if Odo meets a changeling who isn't of the Dominion? How does that force him to re-justify his decision to remain a Bajoran?" It's easy to overlook the racial identity problems and other identity issues when the only alternative for Odo was "the Dominion", because we know he objects morally to Dominion politics. This episode neatly returns his arc to being about a lost individual who longs for the companionship of his own kind, but is torn between them and his adopted home, rather than "the hero refuses to join the villains despite temptation". It reaffirms what was so intriguing about this character arc in the first place.
     
  19. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks, I'm pretty happy with how it ended up. :)

    I agree with that. Laas makes some valid observations, but comes to some invalid conclusions. For example, Laas not being allowed to lounge around the promenade as a cloud of fog isn't a sign of oppression. If O'Brien decided to put a bean-bag in the middle of the walkway and sat there reading a book then he'd be told to move along too. There is some discrimination of Changelings on DS9, but Laas is actively looking for discrimination and finds some even where there isn't any.

    :lol: Yeah, it's all fun and games until you take it too far and drive your ex toward self-harm, and then live with that on your conscience for the rest of your life. :sigh:

    Now for some levity!


    Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang (**½)

    O'Brien and Bashir get Vic Fontaine to sing a song about the Alamo, which apparently unlocked an easter egg in his program that replaces Vic's band with a burlesque show, thus improving the program 200%.

    Hey, that actually makes a vague semblance of sense! :D That's the first time in 7 years that a line of technobable doesn't sound like gibberish to me.

    It turns out that Felix, the guy that has been providing Bashir with all his crazy holosuite programs, planted this surprise in Vic's program to add a little excitement to it. Not only that, but he somehow overrode the holosuite controls and prevented the program from stopping. Felix is a security risk that has messed with the normal operation of systems on a strategically vital space station, and the crew of DS9 shouldn't be treating the situation as lightly as they do. But being characters in a TV show, they decide to plan an audacious heist to save Vic from a programmer that widely overstepped his bounds.

    Sisko, there, directly tapping into the thinking of the audience. Until he says this:

    "Our people" is the bit that sticks out the most. Up until this point, there have been no black people in the 24th century, just people who are black. The fact that Sisko openly refers to himself as a black person is jarring, but it does make some sense in light of Sisko's experiences as Benny Russell. As someone who experienced the sort of discrimination that black people faced around that time, it makes sense that Sisko would take personal offence to the fact that Vic's program ignores that ugly part of history. That being said, the way this was handled in the episode was ham-handed and failed to make that connection to Benny Russell. I like the idea of the scene, but it could have been executed way better.

    As for the rest of the episode, there's not much to say. When it when it aired, it pissed me off considerably because it was yet another pointless episode while the show's main arcs were left hanging in the wind. But with the hindsight of knowing that those arcs will be the focus of the final 10 episodes of the series, and the knowledge that this was the show's final hurrah for fluff episodes, it's an okay episode. It also helps that I don't have to wait a week to get to the good stuff. Badda-Bing Badda-Bang is a light episode that allows the crew to come together for one last joint adventure. Except Worf, fuck that guy.

    Form of... extendo-arms: 36
    Form of... a drink-tray: 37
    Form of... briefcase-hands: 38


    Wow, Odo has really taken Laas's advice to heart.
     
  20. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I have to say Sisko drawing attention to his black heritage was quite jarring, and took the shine off the episode a bit. I understand where he's coming from after his experience in the 1960s, but it was a clumsily handled moment that wasn't very Star Trek.

    Having said that, I have such a soft spot for the episode. It was a cool ensemble piece where everyone had something to do, and they were all doing it for their friend. Now I think I said pretty much the same about Take Me Out To The Holosuite, which I also liked a fair bit. As fluff episodes that get in the way of the main arc in the last couple of seasons, I would rank these two episodes towards the top. ;)

    It's also one of the few instances of a holodeck/suite program doing what it was actually programmed to do. So there.