My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    Perhaps I should be a little more careful with my wording. From what I remember, it seems the discussions were about bringing her in from the second season onward. I think that In the Hands of the Prophets may have been an attempt to justify her permanent presence in the stories. She might have been a target for recurring tension on the station.I cannot confirm that there might have plans for her in the regular cast. That said, the scenes with the O'Briens in A Man Alone were actually written for the pilot: Piller, at least, was not thinking of her as part of the decoration.
     
    ananta likes this.
  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    The series actually has a long list of characters who never had meaningful interactions with one another. Shimerman and Bashir recently expressed that they didn't get to act much with one another. Perhaps the most glaring, there is no substantively dialogue between Sisko and Damar, the head of the Cardassian Union and with whom Sisko is at war. There are some not-so pithy retorts in Apocalypse Rising and a conference scene, without crosstalk, in Statistical Probabilities, but everything is far from the relationship between Sisko and Dukat or the relationship between Kira and Damar.
     
    FanST, ananta and frankieteardrop like this.
  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    “The Alternate”

    [​IMG]
    “I love what you’ve done with your hair...”

    I liked this one, more than I expected to. My memories were a little fuzzy. Basically, it’s hard to go far wrong when you give the brilliant Rene Auberjonois centre stage—and when you pair him with a guest star of James Sloyan’s caliber, the results are bound to be impressive. The main plot maybe has some issues, but the strength of the character interplay lifts this one quite a bit.

    First of all, I loved the teaser, and the idea of Quark going into business selling vacuum desiccated pieces of famous Ferengi (including famous Ferengi not yet dead!) is a scream. It’s fascinating watching the change in Odo as Doctor Mora, his old ‘mentor’, steps through the door. While seconds before Odo was towering menacingly over Quark doing his first class policing routine, you can see Odo visibly shrink, his head lowering as Mora approaches. Rene Auberjonois’s simple use of body language is masterful. I don’t know if you’ve ever been somewhere with your friends and colleagues, and your parents suddenly arrive, and no matter what age you are, a little part of you suddenly feels about ten again.

    The difficult relationship between Odo and Mora is well done, with Auberjonois and Sloyan delivering excellent, intense performances. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Odo, for Mora is clearly a difficult and at times condescending character, although thanks to Sloyan’s nuanced portrayal, he’s not entirely unsympathetic.

    The main storyline is intriguing, and I found it compelling for the most part. I do feel the scenes in the Gamma Quadrant felt a little rushed—I was kind of expecting an Indiana Jones type adventure seeking the secrets of Odo’s lost people. But as if that was ever a possibility on the show’s limited budget...! What we get is perhaps a bit of an anticlimax, but the main thrust of the story is, of course, the aftermath. This is when the episode veers perhaps a little too close to B-movie territory, but I have to say it still kept me guessing, and David Carson’s directing is generally strong, giving the episode a sufficient sense of tension, pace and spookiness. I like the idea that Odo is essentially hunting himself, and his breakdown in security as Mora confronts him with the truth (and, rather egregiously, uses it as a way to coax him back to the laboratory) is dramatic and painful.

    That’s about it, really—a decent, reasonably compelling tale, perhaps running the risk of being a little bit hokey at times, but bolstered by excellent characterisation and performances with some enjoyable character moments interspersed throughout. Rating: 7
     
    kkt, Bad Thoughts, FanST and 2 others like this.
  4. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    “Armageddon Game”

    [​IMG]

    “We fought a brutal war...over who had the worst hairstyle.”


    Again, I didn’t have very much memory of this episode other than Bashir and O’Brien on the run from a race with utterly ridiculous hairstyles (seriously, we can only assume that everyone on T’Lani must by law be required to spend 3 hours each morning weaving their hair into those insane ‘dos).

    On the whole, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit—the basic plot is decent, and there’s some great characterisation, particularly between the ever delightful duo of Julian and Miles. This definitely marks a milestone in their initially strained relationship, one which will see them gradually become inseparable besties. Colm Meany and Alexander Siddig (sorry, he’s still actually Siddig El Fadil at this point!) are on great form, and their sparring and eventual bonding is fun to watch. I also noted during this episode how less confined and claustrophobic the show feels during the second season. It’s always nice to get episodes set off the station, even if the budget can only ever accommodate limited sets.

    We get some poignant scenes as the crew learn of their comrades’ supposed deaths. Everyone is perhaps a little stoic, but this was a feature of 90’s Trek, yet the understated performances are still effective. I liked the scene with Dax, Kira and Quark, and special mention must go to Rosalind Chao, whose performance is believable and heartfelt as Sisko breaks the tragic news. You really feel her pain and shock, and her immediate need to try to make sense of things. Unfortunately, it’s about this point that the episode begins straining credulity. Sisko is just a little too quick to buy into Keiko’s suggestion that there could be foul play based on the fact that O’Brien is drinking coffee in the afternoon. At least someone should have suggested the possibility that perhaps she was grasping at straws out of grief and inability to accept her loss. That said, the death of two senior officers certainly demands investigation, and it’s a wonder Sisko didn’t send over a team to investigate immediately.

    Unfortunately, as engaging and entertaining as the episode is, there are significant plot holes that I find impossible to overlook. First of all, while you can believe the T’Lani might be ruthless enough to kill their own specialists who were involved with the bio-weapons, but killing two Starfleet officers is an act of war, surely. Not only that, but when Sisko rescues his officers, the T’Lani’s aggressive retaliation was a definite act of war, and the ironic thing is, the whole reason this mess happened was because the T’Lani were so desperate to AVOID another war. Their pursuit of and attempted destruction of the runabout made them seem incredibly stupid and trigger happy. How the heck did they intend to explain that to Starfleet?

    My other nitpick was the fact Bashir and O’Brien were sent to T’Lani to help them deactivate the ‘harvesters’ in the first place. Surely, Starfleet would have specialised officers who would do that. Why take a CMO and operations officer off their duties aboard a space station in order to do it? Once again, as is common for Trek, Bashir is portrayed as a genius doctor whose expertise extends to any and every field of medicine and science the plot warrants (a few episodes ago he devised a way for the crippled Melora to walk, and now he’s an expert in biogenic weapons). In real life, doctors specialise in a particular field, or are general practitioners. No doctor is a master of absolutely every aspect of medicine, except in Star Trek. But, anyway. Of course, later revelations about the character might help explain why he’s such an mind-bogglingly skilled physician.

    Overall, an entertaining romp and the characterisation is almost strong enough to overcome the plot holes and lack of logic when it comes to the T’Lani’s actions and behaviour (I suppose you could just conclude they were nuts). Rating: 7
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
    FanST and Cyfa like this.
  5. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    I think one of two things happened afterward.

    Sisko got back to the station, and decided not to say anything because it would give away the fact they survived.

    Or Sisko informed Starfleet of what happened, and either did nothing or some sanctions occured that we never saw.

    Given Sisko's personality, I think he informed Starfleet and nothing likely happened. Since the T'Lani and Kellerun knew they couldn't fight against Starfleet and win, they just let it go.

    I agree that the biggest strength of the episode is Miles and Julian. The plot is pretty solid with that nice twist of them killing their own people just to assure the Harvesters is never made again.

    A big shout out to the scene with Kira, Dax, and Quark. That was a wonderful Quark moment, because just when you think it's only about reliable business, he quotes a Rule of Acquisition, with heartfelt emotion, "Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them."

    I overlook the plot holes because the character scenes were so damned good.
     
    ananta and kkt like this.
  6. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    A woman was believed. Isn't that refreshing?
     
    frankieteardrop and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  7. nic3636

    nic3636 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    This is a great thread, thanks for doing it! I've selected my re-watch, Duet, based on your reviews.
     
    ananta likes this.
  8. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    “Whispers”

    [​IMG]

    Replicant or not, he still finds Julian annoying.

    I have to say, this is one of the second season’s sleeper hits, with one helluva twist at the end. I can only imagine what a shocker it must have been for those unaware of what was coming, because we simply didn’t have enough information to possibly guess the ending. That said, living in the UK, which was substantially behind the US airings, I had the ending spoiled (no doubt my own fault, as I often couldn’t resist spoilers), so even the first time I watched the episode I knew what was coming.

    Fortunately, most of the fun is getting there. This episode is well-crafted and beautifully executed. The flashback structure and O’Brien’s narration are an effective touch, and I love the way it gradually builds, with scene after scene of innocuous but slightly “off” interactions with the crew mounting until O’Brien begins spiralling into a very legitimate paranoia. The sense of tension and unease develops nicely, until Miles finds himself setting opposite Keiko at mealtime wondering if she may have poisoned his food. Such scenes are truly effective not so much because of dialogue, but more what is left unsaid. The directing and performances, not to mention a subtly unsettling score, really sell the tension and O’Brien’s simmering sense of suspicion and desperation.

    “Whispers” boasts great performances from the entire cast, with each character responding to O’Brien in a slightly different manner, ranging from mildly uncomfortable and awkward, to hostile and, in Keiko’s case, enormously creeped out by him. Of course, Colm Meaney is particularly brilliant in an episode told entirely from O’Brien’s perspective. Indeed, it’s a credit to him and the fact that this very much seems to be the O’Brien we’ve known and loved for so years that we naturally assume that it’s something affecting the rest of the crew. Which wouldn’t be unreasonable given that, in the Trek universe, being possessed by aliens seems almost as seasonal as the flu.

    The tension eventually reaches a climax when the crew try to apprehend O’Brien and he manages to escape and flee the station. The eventual resolution happens very quickly, in just the final couple of minutes. While this runs the risk of feeling a little rushed, it’s nevertheless highly effective and ends the episode on a note of shock. Really, what started as a paranoid thriller ends as nothing less than a tragedy, with the replicant O’Brien’s final words particularly poignant and true to character. I like that he’s still very much O’Brien, and isn’t triggered into becoming an emotionless killbot at the end, which would rob the ending of its poignancy.

    My one minor issue with this episode is that, given the crew were pretty sure that O’Brien might well be a replicant, the sensible course of action would have been to quarantine him until the truth could be ascertained. I’d say it’s an enormous security risk letting him move about the station and continue his regular duties as one of the station’s senior officers, even if they were keeping a close eye on him. If I were Keiko I’d have found it pretty traumatising having to pretend that everything was normal while under the suspicion that my husband was actually an imposter. If I were Sisko I wouldn’t have taken any chances in this situation. But, then again we wouldn’t have had an episode—40 minutes of O’Brien sitting in the brig until the big reveal wouldn’t have been entertaining at all.

    As it is, it’s a first class episode—a high-concept plot that’s brought to life beautifully with a great script, winning performances and nicely claustrophobic directing by Les Landau. Rating: 9
     
  9. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Yup, I imagine Sisko filed his report and Starfleet put a hazard warning over that particular planet on their charts, kind of a “These people are assholes with silly hair—avoid contact!” Even though what they did was an act of war, they’d hardly be worth going to war over.

    Agree, the Kira/Dax/Quark scene was lovely, and I loved Quark’s contribution, heartfelt and yet still within his own little Quarky paradigm. Rewatching these episodes it strikes me how much the character adds to the series, even if he’s only in just a small scene in many episodes.
     
    Farscape One likes this.
  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Thank you! Glad you enjoying it, and hope you enjoy Duet, it’s a beautiful little piece of television and gets me every time.
     
    nic3636 and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  11. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    "WHISPERS" is one of those rare mysteries that is still very effective even after multiple viewings. Damn near perfect mystery/thriller.

    It would have been nice to have more scripts done by Paul Robert Coyle, who wrote this one. Unfortunately, he only did the story for a season 1 VOYAGER episode, "STATE OF FLUX". (He was a writer for HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.)
     
    FanST, ananta and DonIago like this.
  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    "Whispers" is certainly worth the watch at least twice. Once when you don't know what's going on, and once when you do. I think I may have watched it enough times that it's not as gripping as it used to be, but it's still fun, and Colm certainly plays the part of the increasingly-paranoid well. I suspect he could have done Hitchcock well.

    It's very fun to watch with people who haven't seen it before as well. :)
     
  13. nic3636

    nic3636 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    It was great! The episode ages very well and was just as good upon re-watch. I've really been enjoying my DS9 re-watch, IMO this series is head and shoulders above all the others.
     
    FanST and ananta like this.
  14. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    I can imagine! I really wish the first time I’d watched it I hadn’t seen spoilers. It’s a killer twist that in a split second totally reverses everything you think you’ve seen the past 40 minutes.

    For me, DS9 has aged the best of all the shows, and right up there with TOS as my most loved Trek show. Glad you enjoying it too :)
     
    FanST, kkt and DonIago like this.
  15. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    “Paradise”

    [​IMG]
    “Welcome to paradise, gentleman. Don’t mind the box!”


    I remember many years ago reading a review that described this episode as being “a suitably nightmarish depiction of being stuck on a desert island with Margaret Thatcher”. That about sums it up. It’s a strong episode, boasting solid writing and performances, and it’s about time that Star Trek explored the issue of cultism, which is pretty much what this amounts to (I’m discounting TNG’s “Descent, Part II” because it was such a mess of an episode and ill-conceived on many levels).

    Of course, none of the inhabitants of the settlement would consider themselves part of a cult—and they’re all living happy, contented, fulfilled lives. Little do they know that they’re all part of an underhanded social experiment by a woman who puts ideology before human rights, and even human life. I mean, imagine deliberately marooning a ship full of people on a planet with no hope of rescue, separating them from their families and old lives, just so you can test some theories about human potential?

    Alixus is clearly the villain of the piece, but she’s not exactly a snarling monster with red eyes and lashing tentacles. This is a morally nuanced, shades of grey kind of story. She’s a born leader, with superficial charm, and, in spite of the morally abhorrent way she goes about things, in herself she seems to mean well. She truly believes that what she’s given these people is in their very best interests, and it would seem that she has. These are happy people, living full and rewarding lives. It’s telling that at the end, even when Alixus’s crimes are revealed and they are given the choice, none of them want to leave.

    I also had a slight sympathy with Alixus’s some of Alixus’s assertions. I’m no Luddite, but I do believe the way our society has progressed in terms of the implications of technology has not served us too well. Don’t ever get me started on the topic of social media, and the terrible effects I’ve seen it have on so many people. As a species, we’re sadly disconnected from the natural world, we elevate luxuries to necessities, our use of technology is not always in line with our best interests, and people are statistically more depressed and anxious than ever before. So, I do have a certain sympathy with Alixus’s back to nature, back to basics approach to life.

    But the way she goes about it—? No, no no. She was playing God with these peoples’ lives, separating them from loved ones and endangering their lives. Do the ends justify the means? Again, there’s no black and white answer to that here. The settlers ultimately believe that what she did to them was worth it. That’s the one part of the episode I felt needed beefing up. She betrayed them horribly, conspiring for them to be marooned on that remote planet. Where’s the anger, the outrage and sense of betrayal? It’s only given the faintest of lip service. Her idea of discipline is also horribly inhumane, yet she has these people so deep under her spell that they see it as in their best interests. I do believe that Alixus is a sociopath, or possibly a psychopath. She may have good intentions, but she also doesn’t much care who she has to manipulate, hurt or kill in order to enforce her ideology on others.

    Sisko’s conflict with Alixus lies at the heart of the episode and makes for compelling drama. Sisko basically engages in Alixus in an all-out battle of wills, deliberately enduring terrible pain and indignity to show her that he won’t be beaten. I’m not entirely convinced this pays off. Ultimately, it’s more O’Brien’s efforts and the arrival of Kira and Dax that lead to the resolution. However, I believe that what Sisko basically does is show Alixus up for the monster that she is.

    Definitely a compelling, dramatically engaging and thought-provoking episode, and an example of Trek theme-based storytelling handled well. Gail Strickland is great as Alixus—a character who, like Winn, will be smiling and sweet to your face while stabbing you in the back with a knife. If the episode has one fault it’s that she deserved more of a comeuppance. Although she’s arrested and taken away to pay for her crimes, she’s quite happy about that and isn’t at all repentant (but, then, are sociopaths ever?). It may have felt more satisfying if she’d been shunned by the settlement, or made to feel some kind of remorse. Avery Brooks is also on top form, radiating an intense, commanding presence, and Colm Meaney is his ever reliable self. Also, nice to get a little location shooting—a rarity at this point in the series. Rating: 8


     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  16. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    I totally agree with you about how our 'advances' has really made humans more devolved than ever. Especially in the last 10 years or so.

    This is a solid episode, but the one thing that bugged me was that no one wanted to leave. I guess it's implied that the children might one day, given the two we see staring at the box at the end. But come on... even in crazy cults, there's a few that deprogram themselves, for lack of a better term, once the truth finally is revealed.
     
  17. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    Paradise is the most underrated episode of the series, IMO. It may still have some of the qualities of the less mature DS9, but there are many things that I find are powerful. The scenes between Brooks and Julia Nickson are amazing. It feels as if Brooks is channeling Sidney Poitier. I disagree that Sisko's punishment was meaningless. While yes, O'Brien finds the source of the energy dampening field, that was always the obvious part of the episode. The need and the ability to resist is demonstrated by Sisko. Climbing back into the hot box contextualizes the treatment of dissenters with the mistreatment of slaves. And indeed, it is one of the most badass moments of the franchise. In the end, the community's attitude toward Alixus is natural. The same attitudes are found among those who survived Jonestown, condemning Jones but being nostalgic for the community that the people built together. I don't think that it need be shown that Alixus to face justice in order to be powerful. Indeed, the nuance is refreshing.

    ETA: Finally, this seems to be an episode that engages with concepts and themes that would appeal to Brooks' interest in African American history and politics. The episode is a building block in establishing Sisko as a mature character for the series.
     
    FanST and ananta like this.
  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    This is my single biggest issue with the episode as well. It might even work if it was portrayed as a tragedy that these people were so brainwashed by Alixus that they didn't even realize what they'd lost...what she'd stolen from them...any more, but I don't recall that the episode really plays it that way.

    Maybe Sisko should have returned with a ship full of counselors, or the people whom Alixus's followers had left behind.

    Kudos to Nickson for giving us a female antagonist I loathe more than Kai Winn.
     
  19. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2020
    Yeah, I’m mixed on the idea that no one wants to leave at the end. On the one hand, I think the reason might be the fact the wrap-up happens with just a couple minutes before the credits roll. It might have been interesting had things been resolved a little sooner and we got an extended look at the consequences for the settlers. You’d at least have thought the guy Alixus kept locking in the box for stealing candles would have been “Sayonara, suckers!”

    However, you could see it either of two ways. First, it could be a case of being somewhat institutionalised—this is all they know now, and Alixus had created such a safe place for them, a place where they felt such belonging and comfort, that they were unable to even entertain the thought of functioning outside of it. The other reason could have just been that they were so legitimately happy there that they didn’t want to go back to their old lives.

    Personally, in a situation like that, I’d imagine that the removal of Alixus would have created a huge shift in the community. It’s likely she was the lynchpin holding it all together and that after she left it would begin to fall apart, or people would start fighting as they sought to elect a replacement. Human nature being what it is and all (even in the 24th century). I suspect there were probably a few people left at a later date, and maybe others who stayed on. But, we will never know.

    I also liked the final shot of the two kids watching the departure and then staring at the box.
     
    FanST likes this.
  20. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2021
    Location:
    A series of tubes.
    My one other quibble about this very good episode (besides the fact that literally no one wanting to leave stretches belief) is that I'd expect the concept of "technology" to have evolved in the last 400 years -- it would be more interesting and believable if there were things that we now consider modern technology that Alixus took for granted, in the same way that even modern-day "Luddite" groups tend to have adopted at least a subset of the last few hundred years of innovations as being acceptable. Her refusal to use PADDs, for example, reads as kinda silly to me.
     
    FanST likes this.