My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by ananta, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    [​IMG]

    Happy new year all.

    I’ve decided that it’s time to finally rewatch DS9 after the better part of a decade. I thought it would be fun to create a thread and share my thoughts, impressions and memories of each episode. I hope this doesn’t seem a narcissistic move on my part. My opinions are nothing special, obviously. But I like sharing my thoughts after watching episodes, and often got my knuckles rapped for oversharing in the general ‘last episode you watched’ thread, so here we are :)

    First up, DS9 is my joint favourite Trek, alongside TOS. I have vivid recollections of watching it all back in the 90’s when I was growing up. I live in the UK and, unless you had satellite TV, which we didn’t, the only way to watch new Trek was to buy the VHS releases which were just a few months behind the US airings. Otherwise it was a wait of at least 2-3 years before the episodes would make it to BBC2. Obviously, when I heard they were making a brand new Trek spin-off there was no way I’d wait years to see it. This young nerd wanted to see it the moment the video was released—which, if I recall, was around July 1993. I was 14 years old.

    There was no internet back then, at least not for most people. So, aside from reading articles in the sci-fi magazines of the time (i recall there was a good one called ‘TV Zone’, which covered all kinds of genre tv), I didn’t really know what to expect. Maybe it’s a blessing I didn’t have the internet back then, because knowing what a BLASTING DS9 got, it would no doubt have soured my experience—as it does now, with Discovery in particular.

    In fact, back then, I didn’t know anyone else who liked DS9. TNG had been very popular, but into my teens, none of my friends liked Star Trek and I didn’t actually know ANYONE who watched DS9, much less liked it. It was a strangely lonely feeling, especially as the series found it footing and I knew it was something quite special. I had no one to discuss the stories or characters with, at least not until 1997, when my dad got dialup internet and I found my way onto the old Trek newsgroups. Ah, the nostalgia...

    Emissary

    Anyway, right from the first time I watched the pilot, “Emissary”, I was blown away. Even today, it holds up extremely well and I think definitely ranks as the strongest and most assured of all the post-TOS pilots...by quite a wide margin.

    It no doubt helped that the creators had been making TNG six years and knew their craft well, because they really hit the ground rounding. “Emissary” remains a confident, mature, sophisticated piece of work, introducing the characters fairly well and weaving a beautiful story that deals with very Trekkian themes of discovery, finding common ground, and, in Sisko’s case, healing from the wounds of the past and coming to appreciate his life in the present.

    I know a lot of people were turned off by the darker themes and the grittier characterisation. One of the TV listing magazines dubbed DS9 “Star Trek: The Vexed Generation” when it premiered over here. But really, the characters feel more real to me and more engaging than the perfect “evolved humans” of TNG (not to put down TNG; I enjoyed it immensely and still have great fondness for the earlier seasons). I think the darkness was overplayed by some, who simply found the contrast shocking. DS9 is not set in a pristine hotel in space; it very much feels like it’s set in the real, lived-in world, and let’s face it, life is not all roses. It can be tough, and painful, and ugly, and people do not always get on. Yet, the humanity is very much there, and these characters would go on to become the most authentically family-like of all the Trek crews. But, oh how I can recall the many years of the “it’s NOT Star Trek” treatment this show would get, until long after it ended.

    The teaser is a knock out, and I’m very glad they actually showed Sisko’s loss rather than just telling us about it. The reflection of the exploding Saratoga as it superimposes upon Ben’s broken face is such a painful, powerful image. Avery Brooks generally does very well in his debut, although the first half of the episode is a little uneven. Apparently the producers were concerned Brooks was coming across unlikable, so they ordered reshoots and ordered him to soften his performance. In my view this was a mistake, because you can tell which scenes were reshot, and the character goes from sullen and intense to strangely bemused, upbeat and quirky. Two scenes they definitely reshot were Sisko’s first meeting with Kira, and the scene in the security office where Sisko ‘persuades’ Quark to stay on the station. Interestingly, the one scene that could have done with a reshoot is the first Sisko/Picard scene. If looks could kill, Picard would have been TOAST. While Sisko’s grief is clear, his hatred of Picard and his rudeness leavers us feeling sorry for Jean-Luc, and given how beloved TNG was, it probably wasn’t a good idea to have had our new lead being quite so abrasive and upsetting poor Picard, who had, after all, suffered horribly at the hands of the Borg himself.

    There are other strange moments where Brooks’ performance seems just a little off-key. His wordless, gurning expression when Dukat asks if he has any objections to his men coming aboard the station is unintentionally funny, as is his Michael Jackson-esque “OW!!” upon seeing Jennifer in his orb vision. In fact, that whole sequence on the beach falls very flat, and I think it may have been the total lack of chemistry between Brooks and Felicia M Bell, who doesn’t give the best of performances in her brief role.

    Where things really come alive is the episode’s second half. The very concept had the potential to be a convoluted and confusing mess, but the wormhole scenes are powerful, masterfully directed and edited, and feature strong writing and an excellent performance by Brooks. Even though each sequence was likely shot days or even weeks apart, Brooks is remarkably consistent and both impassioned and moving. His climatic realisation that, in spite of trying to teach the aliens the concept of linear time, he himself had been living in the past, is genius and really impacted me even at the tender age of 14.

    The other characters are well introduced, although in some cases, the writing and performances have yet to strike the right note. It’s strangely comforting to have O’Brien present, giving us a sense of continuity and reassurance that this is definitely Trek. Kira makes an impact, but it’s not her best episode at all. While I think Nana Visitor is one of the best actors from any Trek series, this is arguably her worst performance. She generally overplays things here, strutting about with an unfortunate, petulant pout, which I’m glad was immediately excised after this. By the very next episode Visitor had reined things in and found her groove.

    Rene Auberjonois gets very little to do, but he’s immediately a compelling presence, playing a unique and intriguing character—hard as nails but clearly with a vulnerability and hidden depths. The relationship between Odo and Quark shines from the very beginning, and Armin Shimmerman establishes himself as one of the show’s gems from the word go, stealing every scene he’s in. Quark was a totally different character to any of the previous Trek casts and the change was deeply refreshing and fun. That’s largely a testament to Shimmerman’s winning performance, which has a certain nuance. You’re not quite sure what to make of Quark at this point. I can only imagine the outcry that came when it was announced a Ferengi was part of the main cast. Although, to be fair, they were dreadful on TNG—just one note jokes. The Ferengi on DS9 would become a guilty delight for me, even although the later Ferengi episodes would get pretty awful. On that note, it was great to see cameos by Nog and Rom, both of whom had astonishing character arcs ahead of them. Who would have thought?

    It was a good idea leaving the introduction of Bashir and Dax til a little later in the episode, giving us space the breathe. They’re both extremely cute, although both characters are pale shadows of what they would later become. Neither the writers nor Terry Farrell were quite sure how to approach Jadzia, and it kind of shows. As for Bashir, his foot in mouth scene with Kira and puppy dog advances on Dax are fun, although his exuberance and naïveté were apparently NOT popular with viewers. Both characters are works in progress.

    Cirroc Lofton doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but he acquits himself admirably and is arguably one of the first child actors on Trek that isn’t horribly annoying. Seriously, Trek and kids did not mix until this point, so it was also a gamble having a child actor in the cast. But the strength of the relationship between Ben and Jake is already in evidence and would be one of the show’s greatest triumphs. The fact that Sisko is a family man is also wonderful, immediately setting him apart from Picard and Kirk.

    The sets and effects are pretty brilliant for the time. I love the scale of the station sets, namely Ops and the Promenade, although visually the show is let down by the poor quality of the DVD transfers. It’s really heartbreaking knowing this show will likely never get the remastering treatment TOS and TNG got. Both those shows look beautiful, yet DS9, one of the most visually arresting of all the shows until Discovery, sadly looks muddy, grainy and grubby. It’s just begging out for, if not HD remastering, at least an upscale and clean up. But, life is life, huh.

    Overall, this is an excellent episode and a skilful pilot, well written, with some wonderful, cinematic directing by David Carson. No doubt the quality of his work here earned him the job directing Generations, and deservedly so. I know the rest of the season was of variable quality, but it’s still hard for me to understand why DS9 was so badly received upon its release. The moment I saw “Emissary”, I knew something exciting had begun, and I already had a sneaking suspicion it might end up my favourite Trek series—which, it pretty much did.

    I’m excited to rewatch more. I’m not sure whether I’ll do so daily, or just a few times a week, but I look forward to sharing some thoughts and recollections. For now, I’m rating “Emissary” a solid 9/10. In spite of some unevenness in the characterisation and performances, this is one of the strongest pilot episodes I’ve seen of anything.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  2. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    In retrospect of course, the biggest surprise is that Quark's sniveling nephew who seems well on his way to becoming a bumbling crook and perhaps comic relief will be a lieutenant in Starfleet by the end of the series.
     
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  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Indeed, from zero to hero. I can’t think of a more major transformation in any Trek series.
     
  4. TommyR01D

    TommyR01D Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    I tried to make a similar thread two and a half years ago, but nobody replied.
     
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  5. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Oh I don’t mind if no one replies, I’ll just witter away to myself :lol:
     
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  6. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Past Prologue

    The opening scene...Garak basically cruising Bashir at the Replimat! I’d totally forgotten how overtly camp he was before the producers dialled things back. Bashir’s deer in headlights reaction is quite amusing, although he gets pretty annoying when he slips into hyperactive Boy Scout mode in Ops. Andy Robinson has so much fun as the tailor/spy, I can’t believe this is his only appearance in the season. Back at the time I assumed he was just a one-episode character.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the episode is...competent, if a tad dull. It’s a standard ‘divided loyalties’ tale, unfolding beat for beat in a fairly pedestrian way. For me, a large part of the problem is Jeffrey Nordling’s somewhat bland, forgettable performance as Tahna. The character doesn’t have the menace, danger or dark charisma to be interesting or to feel like much of a threat. As a result, the dramatic core of the episode doesn’t quite ignite, and the ‘climatic’ runabout chase, which ought to inject a little excitement, is lame in execution.

    There are plenty wonderful little details, the highlight of the episode being Sisko’s takedown of Kira when she goes behind his back, complaining about him to Starfleet Command. There are no theatrics, just Sisko towering over her in Ops, firmly warning her that the next time she goes over his head, he’ll have hers on a platter. Enter Sisko the badass. A turning point in their relationship. He’s otherwise fair to and supportive of Kira, but he establishes himself as a force not to be crossed. I also loved the scene between Odo and Kira, which establishes their strong bond; the chemistry between Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois already much in evidence.

    The inclusion of the Duras sisters adds a little spark to proceedings, and includes a great scene with Garak, but Quark’s presence is sorely missed, and inexplicable given that this is the first episode to air after the pilot.

    An unintentionally funny moment comes when Kira shows Tahna to his room. Kira: “How long has it been since you slept in a comfortable bed?” Me: Judging by the look of that bed, it won’t be any time soon. I’ve seen more comfortable-looking autopsy tables. Ironically these beds won’t change for the duration of the show, nor those awful looking triangular ‘pillows’.

    Overall, this is a decent but unexceptional episode. It’s a necessary part of Kira’s arc, but compared with gems like “Duet” and “Progress”, it’s quite middling fare.

    I’d rate this a strong 6, but probably no more.
     
  7. FanST

    FanST Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2020
    I really liked your first two reviews! Enjoy the rewatch, it really is a phenomenal series.
     
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  8. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Thanks! I will. I rarely watch episodes in isolation so it’s been ages since I’ve seen DS9, and it’s rather like being reunited with old friends again. I’m trying to be objective for review purposes but I’m thoroughly enjoying every second.
     
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  9. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    A Man Alone

    [​IMG]
    Roll up, roll up! Wanna grow your very own clone in order to fake your own death and frame someone you don’t like for your murder? Get yours here, fresh from Bashir’s laboratory of horrors!

    I remember finding this a little more enjoyable than the second episode, and I think that in some respects it is more engaging. All the characters get a chance to shine, with Kira, Odo and Quark quickly establishing themselves as the show’s strongest and most enjoyable characters at this point. The Odo/Quark “frenemy” relationship shows particular promise, as does the respectful bond between Kira and Odo. Even the Keiko O’Brien subplot is surprisingly enjoyable, if lightweight. What we get is a nice snapshot of life on the station, and it feels like a fresh, interesting, lived in place. It’s great to see the beginning of the Jake/Nog friendship, and our first proper introduction to Rom (even if he is a completely different character here to the bumbling but warm hearted barman-cum-engineer we’ll come to know).

    The problem with this episode is the weakness of the main plot. Whereas “Past Prologue” delivered the standard “divided loyalties” trope, this week they roll out the tired old “character falsely accused of murder” cliche. Let’s be clear about this—Trek usually doesn’t do murder-mysteries particularly well. There’s always a left-field sci-fi twist that nobody ever sees coming, but which is rarely satisfying because the writers don’t so much surprise the audience as cheat them (TNG’s “Aquiel”, a.k.a. “the dog done it” is a particularly egregious example).

    The twist here, that Ibduan murders his own clone in order to frame Odo, isn’t bad, but the execution leaves a fair bit to be desired. It also opens up a range of questions: was the clone self-aware (and what was he doing with his brief life aside from sexytime holosuite massages)?—did he know that he was a clone?—did he have implanted memories and think he was Ibudan?—and what on earth happened to the new clone Bashir grows after this episode?

    Odo’s unmasking of Ibudan is a ridiculously Scooby-Doo moment that shatters credulity. I half expected Ibudan to snarl, “and I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you, you meddling shapeshifter!” Puh-lease.

    The other part of the episode that simply does not work for me is the way the Bajorans turn into a bloodthirsty pitchfork-waving mob. I’m often curious as to why so many people say they hate the Bajorans and then I watch an episode like this and it becomes altogether less of a mystery. Basically, the scene outside Odo’s office is like a 24th century Hitler rally. There’s no real dramatic justification for their sudden hatred and blood lust, and it certainly flies in the face with later stories which show Odo to have been well liked and respected by the Bajorans during the occupation. The scenes here are just heavy-handed, unwarranted and feel forced. And Im terribly disappointed in Morn for being part of the mob. You think you know a guy...

    Finally, gotta laugh at Jadzia’s attempts to dissuade Julian’s advances. She’s haughtily tells him that Trill view romance as “a weakness of the young...and although a Trill host may have these feelings occasionally, it is our wish to live on a higher plane, to try to rise above these kinds of temptations.” Given what we later see of Jadzia, the basic translation is simply that she simply doesn’t want a relationship with him. At least she’s being diplomatic with him I guess.

    Rating: 5. Middle of the road territory. Worth a watch— but not one you’ll probably rush back to rewatch in a hurry.
     
  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Babel

    Noodle mongoose cutlery loose in the fraggle sheath. Harken spark monkeys? Plastic melange curtains!

    Back in my dumb, drunken college days a friend and I used to spend ages sending each other completely random jibberish texts, much like above...only with a fair few ruder words sprinkled in. There was no particular reason for doing so, we just did it for amusement—and sometimes still do. Rewatching Babel reminded me of that, although I’d never made the connection before.

    Anyway, this episode reminds me of a lot of first season TNG. By almost any objective measure, it’s NOT a good hour of television. The plot is hackneyed (these early episodes largely tend to consist of tired old sci-fi cliches—this being the “crew stricken by a deadly virus” trope), and things unfold in a very routine way, with little in the way of imagination or innovation. There are a couple of neat twists I liked—namely the fact this was not an evil Cardassian plot as Kira assumed, but was in fact the work of the Bajoran resistance, and there was something quite novel about seeing such dramatic (and unintentionally amusing) breakdowns in communication. But really, most of this is by-the-numbers stuff, complete with the reset ending where everyone is fully recovered and back to work after a quick cut to the station exterior.

    However, also like TNG first season episodes, I still quite enjoyed it in spite of its shortcomings. Once again it strikes me what an absolute gem Armin Shimmerman is, and what an asset he was to the show. Back in the day, DS9 got so much flak for being some kind of dark, dour and depressing show (which I see as a gross misperception), yet it boasts one of the most fun and funniest television characters pure franchise has ever had. His scenes with Odo are wonderful, particularly when the two end up running Ops, much to Odo’s consternation. Quark’s attempt to communicate with aphasia patients to get them to pay their bar bill is low-key hilarious.

    Avery Brooks gets some wonderfully tender scenes with Cirroc Lofton, which really show a side to his character that no other Trek captain (or, OK, commander) got to display. And while Bashir has been a little annoying thus far, he’s actually really enjoyable to watch when he’s sinking his teeth into some medical dilemma. I also liked that we got to see a visual representation of the aphasia while poring over records in the Infirmary. Another minus, however, is that the actor playing Captain Jaheel, though a very minor role, gives one of the weakest performances the show has ever seen. It’s as though he spent so long getting into the makeup he forgot to act when delivering his lines.

    I’m really not sure how to rate this. The Quark/Odo interplay alone makes me want to be generous and give it a 6, but objectively, all things considered...it’s probably a 5. Which isn’t a terrible score, just not a good one. I could never understand why the early episodes of the Berman era Treks tended to have such weak, overly recycled storylines. Whereas many new series tend to pretty fresh, bold and adventurous when they start out...DS9, following an accomplished pilot, wasn’t sure of itself at all and you almost feel it cautiously tiptoeing around, without the confidence to yet make any bold strides. That will come, though...

    [​IMG]
    Someone criticise your food? Then they’re just asking to be Vulcan nerve pinched!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
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  11. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Captive Pursuit

    Definitely one of the better episodes from the first half of season one, ‘Captive Pursuit’ is perhaps DS9’s first classic Trekkian morality tale (I guess you could argue that ‘Past Prologue’ and ‘A Man Alone’ had similar aspirations, but neither really succeeded in my view).

    I’m surprised it actually took Star Trek as long as it did to explore the ethics of blood sports, but better late than never. I’ve always been an enormous animal lover and advocate for animal rights. Even as a kid, I was utterly appalled by blood “sports” and recall helping campaign to abolish fox hunting in the UK. So I’m all for this powerful allegory. It’s a solid episode for O’Brien, who continues to shine in his expanded role, and also for Sisko, allowing Avery Brooks a rare opportunity in these early episodes to display some fire and passion.

    Ultimately, the conclusion is a downbeat one. Other Treks would likely have ended up Tosk and the Hunters making some kind of uneasy truce, and perhaps agreeing to rethink their ways. In fact, Voyager did pretty much that with “The Killing Game”, in which the Hirogen agree to switch to killing holographic prey—a somewhat unlikely and unsatisfactory twist. Ultimately, DS9 takes a more sobering, and sadly realistic, approach. There was no way the Hunters were going to be shamed into changing their ways just by encountering a more enlightened culture. The kicker is that Tosk himself doesn’t want things to change. He’s been bred and conditioned to be prey. Even though O’Brien tries to expand his horizons, this is all that he knows. He was born to die, he accepts that, and all he wants is to die with honour.

    It’s a brave and tragic ending. It might run the risk of legitimising blood sports, were it not for Sisko’s blistering takedown of the Hunters. I like the way he indirectly avoids violating the Prime Directive, chastising O’Brien in true Sisko badass fashion, while having enabled Tosk to escape; a sin of omission rather than commission. It almost feels like DS9 is starting to break out of TNG’s shadow and find its own voice, delivering a rather more complex and nuanced approach to its storytelling.

    Unfortunately, sluggish pacing in the first half somewhat pulls the episode down. The first twenty minutes are only marginally interesting and needed a greater injection of drama and urgency. Once the Hunters arrive, the pace quickens and the episode gets more engaging, but overall it feels uneven. The directing is pedestrian at best, a fairly common issue for Trek of the era, and I felt the action scenes were somewhat botched by poor directing or editing choices. By this point, the show is also starting to feel very claustrophobic. All the episodes since the pilot have been confined to the station, except for one or two runabout scenes. I imagine much of the first season budget was spent on the stunning sets, but by this point it would have helped to get off the station for a little while.

    Overall, though, a fairly strong episode, hinting of even greater things to come. Rating: 7
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  12. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Q-Less

    [​IMG]

    What an odd episode. It’s quite hard to know what to make of it—although I suspect the writers didn’t know either, and that might be half the problem.

    On the one hand, this marks the show’s first foray into quirky, offbeat comedy, something that would continue throughout its run and often with great results. The problem with “Q-Less” is that it isn’t particularly funny, interesting or fresh. If there’s a point to the story at all, I can’t think of it. It’s not so much “Q-Less” as “plotless”. This episode is just kind of...there. It’s not unpleasant by any means, but it’s almost the textbook definition of inessential and forgettable.

    I get the impression the Paramount suits were nervous about launching a space station series, and were keen to have as many tie-ins to TNG as possible in the first season, to keep existing viewers tuning in. While I can certainly understand that line of thinking, these early episodes should really have been about establishing DS9’s own identity.

    I don’t have a problem so much with the appearances of TNG characters (in the first season alone, we get Picard, Q and Vash, Lwaxana Troi and Lursa and B’Etor, unless I’m missing anyone). The real problem is the writers seem to be writing for ‘TNG, only set on a station. The story structures and basic execution have, to this point, been pretty much the same as its sister show. This episode, for example, is saddled with a technobabble B-plot that would have been right at home in TNG’s fifth season. You know the ones I’m talking about—those godawful ‘ship in jeopardy’ plots stitched onto a soap opera storyline in order to inject a little drama (which, of course, usually backfired by having had all the excitement of a wet custard pie).

    There are plus points to the episode, of course, I like Vash as a character. Jennifer Hetrick is charming and attractive, and I don’t know why I never saw her in other things outside of Trek. Her interactions with Quark are particularly fun (although I don’t know if Jean-Luc would have been impressed to realise that he was basically dating a female, human version of our favourite Ferengi barkeeper.).

    It’s strangely appropriate that the episode is titled ‘Q-Less’ because his involvement in the story is only tangential at best. His sparring with Vash is engaging, but we never understand his motivations. Why is an omnipotent, godlike being, stalking a roguish archaeologist like a clingy ex? It almost feels like an afterthought having him in the episode at all.

    That said, he gets some fun moments, such as putting Bashir to sleep and exchanging barbs with the DS9 crew. This leads to the episode’s most memorable scene, where Q goads Sisko into a boxing match and gets more than he bargained for. Sisko’s immortal line, “I’m not Picard!” is a watershed moment for the series, and one that surely got the writers themselves thinking—“Hey, this is our own show! We don’t need to keep pretending we’re TNG mark II!”

    That Q never returned to DS9 was no great loss. The character worked best when paired with Picard, and there’s no hint of the chemistry that John de Lancie enjoyed with Patrick Stewart between he and Avery Brooks. Fortunately, DS9 would go on to create its own marvellous supporting characters and have no need to continually draw upon TNG. I guess it just took the show a little while to find its own voice.

    Rating: 5

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
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  13. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes. This was a weak Q episode. If you're going to get a guest star, you should make sure you use them well in the plot. Q was not credible mooning like a dumped middle schooler over a human, and he had nothing to do with the real threat to the station. He didn't have a chemistry that was interesting to watch with the DS9 regulars. The technobabble was awfully strong with this one, too.
     
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  14. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    I agree, when you realise what classics many of the Q episodes were on TNG, it’s quite sad to see what a missed opportunity this was. After watching the ep I looked up the production notes and, not surprisingly, John de Lancie was in agreement, saying that he was used to Q episodes dealing with philosophical issues,but here he was reducing to “chasing skirt”. Even if they’d had some ulterior motive for his interest in Vash, it might have made the episode a little more interesting and substantive.

    The technobabble was certainly higher than usual. From what I remember, unlike VOY, the later seasons of DS9 didn’t have much technobabble, or at least it was tolerable. Here it’s “according to the <tech>, the <tech> is <teching> the <tech>. We have to <tech> the <tech> or the station will EXPLODE!!”

    Extra marks though, for what I think was the first and perhaps only use of the word “technobabble” on screen!
     
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  15. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    “Dax”

    [​IMG]
    I am one hundred years old. I take no shit.

    I seem to recall this episode being a little dull. In retrospect, there’s actually a lot to like, but it still has some fairly big flaws.

    It starts off pretty well, aside from Julian once again creeping on Jadzia, completely ignoring the less than subtle hints that she ain’t interested. That he decides to follow her to her quarters even after she said ‘no’ surely borders on stalking! Of course, it is part of the plot, for he finds Jadzia being kidnapped and taken from the station. These scenes are exciting and well executed by David Carson, in what I believe is his final Trek outing before going on to direct Generations.

    The remainder of the episode is something of a talkathon. It is, of course, written by TOS icon D.C. Fontana, in her final contribution to Trek—and if you’re going to do an episode with a lot of words, who better to write them? The dialogue is snappy and well written, but whether you find the episode interesting depends a lot on how keen you are to learn more about the Trill species. The central legal argument is, can a Trill host be responsible for the crimes committed in his or her past lives?

    The episode’s greatest strength is the uniformly excellent performances of all involved. Anne Haney is a particular delight as the irascible Bajoran arbiter, and Fionnula Flanagan (better known as Data’s mother and Eloise Hawking from LOST) gives an affecting performance as the widow of General Tandro. Gregory Itzin, who’d return to Trek more than once, is very solid as Tandro’s aggrieved son and chief prosecutor. Avery Brooks also shines as he passionately defends his old friend Curzon and tries to save Jadzia. Ironically, Terry Farrell gets the least to do in this episode and barely seems to have more than a handful of lines. What she does get to do, she does pretty well, particularly in the scene where she finally opens up to Sisko. The Sisko/Dax friendship was one of my favourite relationships on the show, and you can see the warm chemistry between Brooks and Farrell begin to blossom here. The closing scene between Jadzia and Enina Tandro is also touching and beautifully performed.

    There are some pretty fundamental problems, however. The actual legal case is an abstract one, and while interesting, it lacks impact. Part of the problem is the decision to make Dax so completely passive. This is a wholly different Jadzia to the one we’d see in seasons two onward. That Jadzia would have kicked serious butt when attacked in the corridor, and wouldn’t have reacted like an impassive wallflower during throughout the rest of the episode. The fact is, she barely seems to care what happens to her, so why should the audience? After all, by this point we still barely know the character and aren’t terribly invested in her.

    Another problem is that the core of the episode, the question of whether Jadzia is responsible for Curzon’s crimes, is never actually resolved. The hearing is never concluded. All the wrangling about whether Jadzia and Curzon are legally distinct people, was therefore for pretty much nothing, with no real payoff at all. I wonder if Odo’s investigation of Curzon and Tandro’s relationship should have been a bigger focus in the episode? If the show had the budget, which it didn’t (or we wouldn’t be reusing the Quark’s bar set for legal hearings), some flashbacks might have enhanced the story. As it is, the entire episode majorly breaks the cardinal rule of ‘show, don’t tell’.

    I wanted to give this a 7 for the rich performances alone, but the more I think about the story as a whole, the more it feels a little under baked. So, I’ll give it a 6, but a high 6. Let’s hope we made it to supper, not senility.
     
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  16. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, The arbiter was great, but isn't enough to rescue the episode from Jadzia's meek passivity. The Trill have been joining with symbionts for thousands of years, or more. You'd think the legal question of whether a joined host is responsible for crimes the symbiont committed in past lives would be settled a long time ago.
     
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  17. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Good point, and I think season 4’s ‘Rejoined’ answers that question. I seem to recall a conversation between Kira and Bashir where she tells him that “each new life for a symbiont has to BE a new life, otherwise it would end up paying back old debts forever”. It’s highly likely that was the official Trill line on the matter. ‘Equilibrium’ also covers the issue to an extent. We find out that Joran was a serial killer, but no one expects Jadzia Dax to be put on trial and locked away for that.

    I guess the writers were still sussing it all out themselves at this point. It really did take them quite a while to figure out who Jadzia was. She’s a totally different character in these early episodes.
     
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  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We never really got a clear understanding of why Ezri was allowed to do so, did we? Perhaps because of the war et al.
     
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  19. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    They totally side-stepped the issue with Ezri, I don’t think it was addressed at all, which is disappointing given the grief it caused Jadzia in ‘Rejoined’.
     
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  20. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's obviously frustrating, and at some point, the writers gave up on trying to explain the Trill. It might be for the best. I would suspect that the more they tried to dig into the nature of the Trill society, the more joined Trill would be regarded as an aristocracy. The laws about crime might be written in a way that make culpability unclear, not knowing whether host or symbiont is responsible, not making a joined Trill responsible for the crimes of past joinings. How could one talk of equality of justice when so many exceptions are granted to the joined. One of the things I like about Ezri is that they made it clear she was undeserving, in Trill thinking, of joining and the benefits it granted.
     
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