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

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    Something that the episode does not do well is establish the motives of the people of the community. They were on a journey to found a new community, no? And they were already followers of Alixus to some extent, no? The background of the community is passed over so quickly in the first act that although I think both statements are true, none of them come out clearly. They are both relevant because it could be interpreted that they were already anti-modern in their outlook. Alixus merely enforced that outlook more forcefully than they may have been initially willing. What they seem to miss is contact, and that's all they seem to want to have back after Alixus is exposed. To some extent, they all contributed to (or were complicit in) the creation of the community standards, especially the code of conduct. Alixus may have focused or exploited the impulses of those who signed up for the journey, but weren't those impulses already there?
     
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  2. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    This is the episode I think about when I listen to hipsters talk about essential oils and any number of homeopathic wares.

    Alixus to me is one of the vilest, most disturbing characters ever seen in Star Trek who wasn't a mass murderer.

    RAMA

     
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  3. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Probably the only episode I disagree with you strongly on, this was one of a handful of really good episodes in a season with very few.

    I thought the episode was an effective demonstration of Kira's progress after the occupation, and very important for an early episode. Sure, she still had an edge and was called on to use her terrorist skills again later, but here we see where she stands as part of the station crew and as a Bajoran rather than freedom fighter.

    RAMA


     
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  4. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    I think it's very unlikely that ALL of the colonists would want to stay. Of course asking them all in a group is likely to make anyone who does want to leave shy of speaking out. Perhaps in a few weeks or months as they have a chance for it to sink in, especially if they get communications with the outside galaxy. And if not the current colonists, then their children, in the restless years of the late teens-20s.
     
  5. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm thinking about this more, and another consideration I have...we don't know how many people died on the planet, and we don't know how many of them may have died because they tried to speak out against Alixus and got hot boxed, do we?

    I think it could be argued that many of the adults on that planet bear some responsibility for the ones who didn't make it. Nice of Alixus to take the lion's share of the blame, but in the end, she acted with the silent(?) consent of everyone else.
     
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  6. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I assume you mean Gail Strickland, who played Alixus. Julia Nickson played Cassandra.

    Yes, Sisko called her the right word... contemptable.

    As someone else mentioned, it would be interesting to see what exactly is anti-tech, as the more decades and centuried pass, the harder it is to define low tech.

    Take the bicycle. When it was first created, it was probably considered a marvel to behold... high technology. Now? We don't consider it technology in the slightest.

    Regarding the body count, it was stated that they lost numerous people, though an exact count was never said. Good thought about the colonists having a piece of the blame, too. I never considered that.
     
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  7. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yeah...the people who survived may get to make the decision to stay, but the people who died because Alixus cut them off from medical technology (and/or punished them by locking them in the box) don't get to make that choice. There's definitely some responsibility to be borne by all the people who stood around and let Alixus do what she did, or even actively helped her.

    One thing I was wondering while watching this episode, though, is what it means for the guy locked in the box to have "stolen" a candle -- you'd figure in such a small community most non-personal property like tools to create light would be held in common. Maybe it just means he took and used more than his allotted share.
     
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  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Alixus' argument about how Stephan would likely have been in prison also doesn't hold water. He stole a candle, presumably because he didn't have one and needed it but couldn't make or barter for it or didn't have the time to do so, but in the 24th century replicators eliminate all those factors and so such behaviour just wouldn't be an issue, so her stranding them there saw them having to let go of their "evolved" manner and give into more primitive actions, so she created the problem and came up with a horrendous punishment/deterrent (which clearly didn't work).
     
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  9. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The box is meant to draw comparisons between the idealization of the past to the nostalgia for the Antebellum. The types of displine and punishment that are meted out on the community are not much different than the treatment of slaves. Consider the following:
    • There is only one punishment that needs to be deployed. It is a punishment against the body.
    • It is done with a sense that like a child, the person only learns if they suffer physically.
    • The judge is someone who sits in her office while everyone else works in the fields.
    I don't think that Alixus is being equated with a slave master, but the comparison does provide a sense of depth to the notion of what is problematic of back to nature movements. It necessarily puts people back into the situation in which they cannot offer their labor freely. Indeed, Alixus first reactions to Sisko and O'Brien is that they are two healthy bodies. She demands that they focus their efforts on working in the fields. She continual demands that they relieve themselves of the clothing that makes them distinct from the rest of the community.

    When Sisko gets back into the box, he is saying that the punishment cannot break his individuality.
     
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  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Interesting. I recently watched Bridge on the River Kwai, and the hot box parallel there was obvious. I just checked at Memory Alpha, but there's no discussion of the direct inspiration for it.

    The more I'm thinking about this the more I'm inclined to say that the colonists don't get to choose for themselves whether to stay on the planet. At least some of them should be facing criminal charges.
     
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  11. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It could be. However, if you look at the script, you'll see that Hans Beimler had a hand in it. Many of his scripts injected discussions of power imbalances.

    ETA: not only was the sweatbox a punishment for slaves, there were similar punishments at Jonestone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
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  12. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Does it matter? She is punishing him as if he were a child. She is treating him as someone who needs to be broken in order to contribute to society. It is exactly how she treats Sisko.
     
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  13. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    She is a thoroughly unpleasant person who is revelling in the power her imposed cult provides her.
     
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  14. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    This isn’t something that is addressed much, and if it was I may have missed it. My assumption was that the crew were just regular folk, who happened to be travelling to a colony. I didn’t get the impression that they were already ‘followers’ of Alixus, or into her anti-tech ideology. Maybe they were? My impression was that she simply hi-jacked them all, and then assumed the position of leader and imposed her cultish ways. If they were already ‘Alixus-ites’ that changes the dynamics of the story quite a bit.

    Yup, they were all put on the spot and it’s possible that even if some people did want to leave, they’d feel uncomfortable saying so in front of the whole colony. I think that can happen with cult members—they really fear being judged or ostracised by the group, so they are careful to tow the group line. I think at a later time, however, there may have been a number of people decided to break away.

    Absolutely, sins of omission. By failing to act and allowing Alixus to get away with such things, they are basically enablers. The Netflix documentary “Wild Wild Country” about Rajneesh is fascinating to watch for the insight into cult dynamics. Even otherwise good, well-meaning but gullible people are capable of becoming murderers when they quite exercising their own discernment and simply follow the commands of others. It’s very scary actually. But, yeah, Alixus’s followers also have a burden of guilt to shoulder.
     
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  15. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Shadowplay”

    [​IMG]
    “And for the encore, I do the Cardassian neck trick.”

    “Shadowplay” is an usual episode in terms of structure. While it’s not altogether uncommon for the series to feature an A-plot and B-plot, this episode pushes the format even further by adding a C-plot. All of them work well to varying degrees, although they do feel disconnected and tangential. If there’s an overarching theme to it all, I can’t fathom it. I suppose it could be that some things are not always being as they appear to be, although that’s a stretch.

    Fortunately, in spite of the divergent structure, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable episode. The strongest of the three plots is what I’d consider the main one: Odo and Dax’s attempts to uncover the mystery of disappearing villagers on a Gamma Quadrant world. Admittedly, in spite of an amusing teaser with Jadzia regaling a disinterested Odo about station gossip, there’s not much chemistry between the two and they don’t work as well together as many of the show’s other pairings. But the story is nevertheless engaging and particularly enjoyable thanks to the guest performances.

    DS9’s second season is perhaps its strongest in terms of high class guest stars. This one boasts excellent performances by Kenneth Mars as the amiable village magistrate, Kenneth Tobey as Rurigan, the villager with a huge secret, and the adorable Noley Thornton, who previously appeared in TNG’s “Imaginary Friend” and is even more delightful here, aided by a far better script in this instance. While Trek often had a terrible track record when it came to unbearably annoying children (“And the Children Shall Lead” is truly the stuff of nightmares), there were times when it got it so wonderfully right, and this is one such instance. The friendship between Odo and Taya, two orphans hoping to find their parents, is just wonderfully sweet without being at all saccharine. I always love those moments when the writers and Rene Auberjonois allow us to see beneath the Constable’s gruff, forbidding exterior.

    The plot is ultimately highly reminiscent of TNG’s “The Survivors” and, although by no means as powerful, is nevertheless affecting and nicely done. Kenneth Tobey’s performance is subtle yet poignant, and it leads to a wonderful, passionate and quintessentially Trekkian speech by Odo about what ultimately constitutes life. Interestingly, it’s a completely different take to the one in “It’s Only a Paper Moon” five years later, which would see everyone convince Nog that he cannot live the rest of his life in a holosuite, or he will end up “just as hollow” as the holograms. Of course, Rurigan’s situation is quite different, and he doesn’t have a life to go back to as Nog did. But I find the parallels interesting nonetheless.

    The other storylines are successful to varying degrees. The strongest sub-plot is Jake’s admission that he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in Starfleet Academy. It says a lot that everyone, viewers probably included, assumed Jake would join Starfleet (I guess because, until now, that’s about all we’ve seen our Trek characters do!). Jake’s hesitancy to break the news to his dad is highly relatable, and leads to a great, understated little scene between the two. There’s not really much to this plot other than setting up future storylines for the character and, as such, it’s a necessary progression for the character.

    My feelings are more mixed regarding the Kira sub-plot. It starts off well, for Kira and Quark are always good value, and it is great to see how their relationship will progress through the series. At this point, there’s still no love lost between them, particularly from Kira’s side (in fact, she flat out admits to despising him!). Quark’s manipulative attempts to distract the Major in order to pull off a scam are a fun idea, even if it leads to the return of Vedek Boreil.

    I’ve no idea why exactly, but the writers had already made it clear in “The Siege” that they were angling for a relationship between the two, which wouldn’t have been so bad in itself if the character had been better performed. Philip Anglim is, frankly, a set hazard, bringing whole new levels of meaning to the term “wooden”. Bareil seems more mannequin than man; there’s just nothing there whatsoever. Nana Visitor does her best as always, but it’s just impossible to see why she’d be attracted to such a complete non-entity. The protracted kissing scene is particularly painful to watch. My only consolation is that the writers would quickly realise what a mistake they’d made. Certainly, it was about time a Trek regular was in an ongoing relationship (something conspicuous by its absence in Trek until now). It’s just unfortunate the choice of relationship couldn’t have been less inspiring.

    Overall, I did enjoy this one quite a bit. The Gamma Quadrant plot was the strongest and most interesting and could perhaps have done with being beefed up a little and given more time. The sub-plots are diverting; and whether that’s ‘diverting’ in the good sense or the bad sense is up to you. Rating: 7
     
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  16. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have always loved "SHADOWPLAY".

    One of its strongest aspects is the fact it balanced three stories in one episode and not feel like it was dragging or too much.

    I'll address Jake first. As you pointed out, it had a great scene with him and Ben at the end. He was truly a terrific father, and scenes like this just illustrate that. Jake and Miles was great, too. I liked how he related his story about telling his own father he wanted to join Starfleet. And nice touch adding the cello fact... good callback to his cello days on the Enterprise. I'm glad they remembered that fact.

    The hologram story... agreed it was the strongest one, and the ending always gets me about to cry a single man tear.

    Kira and Bareil... Quark's plan was fun, and in a sense you can say this was the D story, because it was his own thing that folded neatly into the B story, which is Kira and Bareil.

    I want to say something in defense of Bareil. As a kid, I was totally bored with him. As I got older and rewatched the series, multiple times, I realized why he came across as boring.

    It's not boredom. It's a centeredness, tranquility, and peacefulness he exudes. I think this was a deliberate choice because a character like Kira needed someone like that in her life. She was damaged, angry, and the exact opposite of peaceful and centered as any person probably could be while still being a functioning member of society. Bareil was a big, necessary step toward the woman we see her become. And you know the phrase opposites attract... probably a big reason why she fell for him in the first place.

    I actually contend that if Bareil never happened, she would have taken a lot longer to internally get to the place we see her at in the end. I've found over the years that we tend to, without realizing it, take on a few traits of those we love.

    And while some may see nothing there in Bareil, we should remember that it's very difficult to maintain that kind of peaceful quality for long. Feankly, I have NEVER felt that, and am a little jealous of those who seem to exude that quality. I don't think we gave Bareil enough credit over the years.
     
  17. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I'm kind of endeared to the fact that Philip Anglim has a sort of generic 90's Hot Guy look to him, but Bareil is always walking around with these sad puppy dog eyes, and he trips right over himself half the time Kira talks to him. I'm not particularly invested in this relationship (as of yet, at least -- just finished S2 yesterday) but I see how it would be good for Kira.
     
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  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Nice to hear an alternative take on Bareil. I do agree that’s how the character was intended. But a peaceful, centred, serene character doesn’t have to be a complete bore. I think it’s entirely a fault in the way Anglim plays him. I’ve never seen him in anything else, so it’s wholly possible he’s capable in other roles, but he just has no charisma, no life, no passion. He actually comes across as borderline creepy, which I’m sure is not what was intended. If I think back to season one, Camille Saviola played Opaka as serene and tranquil, but she also conveyed life, lustre, charisma and a wry kind of humour. She brought the character to life in the small number of scenes she had. Anglim is just lifeless and stiff. He sucks the life out of just about any scene he’s in.

    In terms of Kira’s arc, it is perhaps a necessary step toward her healing. I just wish they’d found a better character/actor to pair her with.
     
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  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the person Bareil most reminds me of right now is Commander Sinclair from Babylon 5, and I've heard both actors' performances criticized in similar manners. I'm with Farscape on this One; Bareil may not be the most dynamic person, but given the trauma Kira's endured, I can entirely see why she'd want someone who seems to have the inner peace and meditative side that Bareil projects and that she wishes she could find within herself.
     
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  20. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There is only a few lines of dialogue that discusses how the community got there, but the context seems to support the notion that they were more or less already under Alixus sway. They were a group, as Joseph describes them, not just travellers who independently boarded the same spacecraft. Indeed, it would probably have been too small to have normally been considered a form of travel. It was likely a transport that was chartered, and Joseph may well have been an employee, not a passenger who intended to go to the original destination (which is likely why he is the only character to sympathize with Sisko and O'Brien; Cassandra doesn't). The fact that they were travelling outside trade routes suggests that their destination was itself non-standard, and it may have been underdeveloped (in the standards of the 24th century). It also become unlikely that they would have come to such an easy consensus about how to take such radical action. The community did not just shun technology, they "removed every trace of it"--they destroyed it.

    On the other hand, if they were not a pre-formed group to some extent, it becomes difficult to regard the community as a cult. But it is a cult, not a tyranny, no? This also is not forcefully articulated, other than perhaps Joseph describing himself as a convert. However, none of us articulated a sense that it is not a cult. It seems untenable to me that the community would come to such a specific consensus about how to go about survival without having some ideology that brought them together. Things like no doors and surrendering one's personal clothing are not survival elements; they are things to which resistance should be easy and successful.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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