My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think they literally took it back to exactly where it got snagged, which is why we see them exit to the Gamma side with the protouniverse inside the runabout still.
     
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  2. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Profit and Loss”

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    Here’s lookin’ at you, Quark.

    I didn’t remember this as being a particularly strong episode and, alas, a rewatch confirmed that. This is, by my count, the final of three particularly poor “romance of the week” plots this season, with all three ranking as the year’s weakest episodes. Surely, by this point, the writers must have realised that Star Trek simply wasn’t very good at romance episodes. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to stop them trying again and again.

    There are a couple of good ideas at the heart of the episode. I liked the notion of a Cardassian dissident movement, which would be explored better in future episodes, and which continues to give depth and nuance to the Cardassian race. All too often Trek portrayed its races in very broad strokes, presenting homogenous and fairly two-dimensional depictions of its species. By this point, however, the DS9 writers have been attempting to give greater depth and variety to the Cardassians, making them more than just generic bad guys. By the end of the show’s run, I felt the Cardassians were one of the most interesting and varied of all Trek’s primary races—not quite good, but not entirely bad (much like 21st century humans, I guess ;)).

    Unfortunately, the execution leaves something to be desired here. While I love the idea of a Casablanca homage, this falls pretty flat. Whereas a string of superb guest performances has elevated a number of episodes this season, the guest stars this week are so-so at best. Natima’s students are particularly weak, although to be fair to the actors, they are written less as characters and more as gullible ciphers. Mary Crosby is reasonable but forgettable as Natima, which contributes to the episode’s central failing: its reliance on the Quark/Natima romance.

    While I find the idea of Quark as romantic lead strangely appealing, it doesn’t work in practice, at least not here. For a start, it’s a jarring tonal shift seeing Quark played more or less completely straight. I kept waiting for the reveal that our favourite barkeep was leading Natima for some reason, most likely as part of some scam. Armin Shimmerman gives an earnest performance, but that’s not enough to make the relationship feel genuine when there’s so little chemistry between the two. The writers seem to think that by continually telling us how perfect the two are together, and how their relationship had been the best time of their lives, this makes for a strong, emotionally affecting relationship. It doesn’t. When Natima begins professing her undying love for Quark, I actually thought she was manipulating him somehow, because the words coming out of her mouth didn’t feel genuine. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is often weak and hokey (“Tell me you haven’t been thinking of me all these years” / “I haven’t been thinking of you all these years”). This felt like soap opera level writing and acting, and I expect more from Trek.

    The general plot is a little vague and undercooked. We never learn much about what Natima is teaching and why she’s viewed as such a dangerous heretic. She and her two students don’t come across as particularly interesting or dynamic, which doesn’t exactly sell them as hot political fugitives. The other characters also seem sidelined, with Sisko not doing a whole lot of anything effectual and Odo doesn’t seem nearly as on the ball as he usually is. He allows Quark to manipulate him into releasing the prisoners, even though I can’t what authority he’d have to do so (surely it’s judges that decide what happens to prisoners, not the police that apprehended them?). You also would have thought he’d have security storming the cargo bay the moment Garak killed Gul Toran. I mean, surely he was monitoring them as they fled the station? There seem to be no consequences for Toran’s death at all.

    If the episode has a saving grace it is Garak. The plain, simple tailor elevates every scene he’s in, although sadly I’m still perplexed by the finale. Garak’s sudden about-turn and decision to kill Toran seems arbitrary and doesn’t make much sense. Was he simply annoyed by Toran’s personal insults? Garak doesn’t normally come across so thin-skinned, so I doubt that. At the start of the episode, he tells Bashir that he would definitely kill his own brother if it meant protecting the state, and I believed him. Which makes his actions all the more inexplicable at the end of the episode. I get that the writers like to keep Garak enigmatic and unpredictable, but not for the first time this season, it felt like sloppy writing; as though the writers had reached the end of the episode and needed a quick resolution, so they just do “whatever...THE END.”

    Overall, I was disappointed by this one. It’s not unwatchable, thanks largely to Garak, but ...Casablanca it ain’t. Rating: 4
     
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  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Cool, thanks for the heads up. I don’t have much time/energy for reading fiction, but it sounds interesting and I may get around to checking it out sometime. I think there’s the potential for some great drama there.
     
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  4. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Quark's performance in this episode totally sold me, but Natima's fell completely flat. I think this could have been a great episode if they had cast an actress who felt genuinely emotionally conflicted and regretful, even if some of the dialog was stupid.

    As far as Garak goes...my interpretation, with the caveat that I'm only two seasons in and don't know about any later reveals, is that Garak believes Toran to be incompetent and shortsighted, and therefore part of the central problem with the Cardassian government. Garak seems like he believes that if he returns from exile, he can fix things from the inside -- his disagreement with the dissidents isn't that he thinks the government is perfect, but that he strongly disapproves of revolutionary action as a method. He was willing to work with Toran to get himself reinstated, but once Toran made it clear that this would be of no help to him, he decided that continuing with the plan would be of very little use given the hot water it would put him in with Bajor and Starfleet, while leaving him still unable to return to Cardassia. I'd buy that he doesn't really view this small group of dissidents as much of a threat -- if he thinks they're doomed to fail anyway, he doesn't have a strong cause to make sure they're taken care of himself.
     
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  5. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a spot on analysis of Garak in this episode.

    He is a patriot first. He will do what he feels is in the best of Cardassia. He is also a survivor, and will do what is necessary to keep himself going, and as many options open for as long as possible.

    For those who know ANDROMEDA, I really feel Garak inspired Robert Hewitt Wolfe to create Tyr Anasazi. Those two characters are remarkably similar.

    I feel Garak, in the end, said exactly what he meant... he loves Cardassia, and he did what he did for his love of Cardassia. It's probably one of the only times he was completely truthful. Which brings me to another great thing about Quark... as strange as this sounds, I think he brings out the truth in Garak whenever they are together. Like the root beer scene.
     
  6. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Garak is, so far, one of my favorite characters in the series. I think it's a testament to DS9's writing that they can make him so engaging and likeable even while we know that he's loyal (albeit in an unconventional way) to a government we've seen commit horrific atrocities and he's undoubtedly done horrible things in the past while working in service of that government. Making Bashir the regular character for him to play off of was the perfect choice.
     
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  7. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very true.

    Pairing someone as morally fluid, for lack of a better term, as Garak with someone as staunchly moral and ethical like Bashir was perfect.
     
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  8. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    That, as well as the fact that Bashir is both very curious and very easy to frustrate, so pairing him with someone as cryptic and unreadable as Garak leads to some great interactions.

    And, to pivot to another topic without having to double-comment, I'll be starting my first watch of Voyager soon (partner and I have been watching TNG and DS9 episodes in staggered airing order), and might start my own thread about it over in the correct forum. I've been really enjoying the episode discussions here, so if there's any interest I may post a link to it here when it's underway.
     
  9. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Good analysis of Garak’s possible motives, LadyMondegreen and FarscapeOne.

    Things do make sense a little more when considered from that angle. Except for the fact that simply shooting a man like that isn’t really Garak’s style at all. Planting a bomb on his ship, yes; administering some poison or convoluted assassin plot, yes. What’s more, the murder of a Cardassian Gul on DS9 ought to have been a MAJOR diplomatic incident and/or crisis. The Cardassians would have been screaming for revenge, and perhaps even threatening war, while eager to exploit this to their advantage in any way they could. It surely wouldn’t have taken Odo long to discover what Garak did, and he ought to have then spent the next few seasons in the brig—assuming the Cardassians didn’t try to extradite him.
     
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  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I’m not a Voyager fan myself, but I would still enjoy reading your take on the episodes as you watch them. I love hearing your thoughts and interpretations. Go for it!
     
  11. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, please do the VOYAGER watch. I'll check it out.

    Regarding how Garak got away with killing him... remember, DS9 is a Cardassian station, and he has a LOT of codes and knowledge of back ways in and out of the systems that it's not unrealistic to assume he shut off the sensors in there.

    Plus, that Gul was clearly doing things rather covertly, so I doubt the Cardassian government would have done anything because it would give those dissidents credibility. It would announce to the their enemies, like the Federation and the Bajorans, that there is dissent in their society.

    Pretty much the same reason Worf didn't get a reprimand after "CHANGE OF HEART".
     
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  12. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, I'd be interested in a link to your Voyager viewing! I only got as far as season 2 of Voyager, so I'd be especially interested in later episodes that I shouldn't miss.
     
  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Nah, I’m not buying it. A murdered Gul on his hands would have been a nightmare for Sisko, whichever way you swing it—not only in terms of the Cardassian response, but also the enormous shit he’d get from Starfleet Command. Regarding the Cardassians, it would have been highly uncharacteristic for them to simply shrug and say “oh well, these things happen”. Especially when they could have blown it up and used it to discredit the dissidents by linking them with Bajor and Starfleet. As for Garak, even if he had disabled sensors in the cargo bay, there’s no way Odo, being the type of guy he is, would ever rest until he got to the bottom of things. This was just weak writing, plain and simple (excuse the pun).
     
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  14. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    A like for "plain and simple", but Garak is one of the best agents in the quadrant. He could disable the sensors and make it look like an accident. It's what he does.
     
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  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like what some of the novels have done with Natima Lang, but the episode earns a big "meh" from me. I agree that it seems a bit out of character for Garak to summarily vaporize another character...though he will do it again, so maybe I just don't understand his character as well as I think I do. :p I also agree that it seems strange that a gul gets assassinated on DS9 and there's no evidence that anyone notices or cares.

    I've rewatched the show enough times that it's probably telling that I can't remember much about this one.
     
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  16. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree the episode is weak, but I still think Garak had enough tools in his mental arsenal to find a way to get rid of any evidence the Gul was even at the station, let alone killed there.

    Put it this way... he had enough resources and ability to help Sisko bring the Romulans into the Dominion War, and this was after all his contacts and associates were killed. Imagine what he can do with some of them still alive. Disappearing a single Gul is a picnic by comparison.
     
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  17. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Captain Captain

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    I've always seen this episode regarded as rather poor, but I like it.

    There are plot holes and unexplained events, but that applies to so many episodes.
    The students/terrorists are particularly weak, indeed.
    I just enjoy the Natima/Quark romance. I like that Quark is capable to forego profits for love (to an extent, as revealed by the past betrayal). Makes him a lot less unidimensional.

    And Garak/Andrew Robinson is excellent as usual.
     
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  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Blood Oath”

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    You can’t keep an old Klingon down...

    Now THIS is an episode! Given that DS9 and TOS are my favourite Trek shows, it’s nothing less than a delight to see three of the original and most memorable Klingon adversaries return here, nearly 30 years later, and the results are impressive.

    The changing look of the Klingons between TOS and the movie/TNG era has been the subject of interminable debate over the years. Of course, the real reason was that the limited 60’s budget made prosthetics would have been unaffordable. So, all the various fan theories (and Enterprise’s later, ill-advised attempt to provide a canonical explanation) are ultimately moot here, with the three Klingons being given the ‘ridge treatment’ by Michael Westmore—although their designs are admittedly subtler than the average Klingon on the show. I have no problem accepting this, although something looked a little off with the wigs if you ask me (particularly Koloth’s). It looked as though someone in the costuming department had sheared a sheep, added some grey dye and glued bits of the fleece to the head prosthetics.

    Anyway, the second season’s stellar guest cast roster gets even better, with Michael Ansara, John Colicos and William Campbell all delivering absolutely wonderful, rousing and, at times, poignant performances. Their characters have changed quite considerably since their TOS appearances, but one of the things the episode does wonderfully is examine the changes that age brings, and John Colicos is particularly brilliant as Kor comes to realise that he was once “far more” than he is now. The three characters have such great, rambunctious chemistry, it’s almost a shame they didn’t get their own spin-off. I’m not generally a huge fan of 80’s/90’s Klingons, having gotten bored of them during TNG’s run, but I’d be here for these guys any day of the week.

    This is also a strong episode for Jadzia, and Terry Farrell does a good job selling her passion and sense of obligation. In fact, with her ties to Klingon culture now firmly established, it feels like the last pieces finally snap into place for Jadzia 2.0, and this facet of her nature will continue to be developed throughout the rest of the series.

    Peter Allan Fields’ script is masterful, and does a great job incorporating the not insignificant moral implications the quest brings for Jadzia. The scene where Jadzia asks Kira about her experience of taking other peoples’ lives is particularly excellent, and perfectly performed by Nana Visitor. If there’s one thing I’d like to have seen beefed up it would be Sisko’s misgivings, which make for an excellent confrontation scene, although I’d like to have seen even more, not least because this may well have affected Jadzia and Ben’s friendship.

    The script raises the issue of cultural, ethical and moral relativism but doesn’t spend long dwelling on it. What Jadzia is doing is a clear violation of Federation law and, as a Starfleet officer, should she have been captured, would surely have reflected badly on Starfleet. I feel Sisko would have been well within his right to discipline—and maybe even court martial—her for skipping off to take part in a murder pact. The episode doesn’t really explore this, I suppose because it would have taken focus away from the core of the plot. The final scene in Ops, where Dax returns to a painful silence as she exchanges glances with Sisko and Kira is beautifully, painfully done, with superb performances by all three actors, conveying a huge amount through body language and their eyes alone.

    The episode does suffer uneven pacing, and the eventual mission almost feels a little rushed at the end, but that’s a minor complaint, because the execution is otherwise incredibly strong. It’s a testament to Farrell that she holds her own against these three larger-than-life characters, and the eventual assault on the Albino’s stronghold is nicely executed. I’d like to have known more about the Albino (the word “Albino” must appear in the script about fifty times and always sticks out to me because, here in the UK we pronounce it “al-bee-no” rather than “al-bye-no”; that’s your useless fact of the day). I’m wondering if he’s meant to be an albino Klingon—the ridges are similar, but the rest of his look is decidedly un-Klingon. Christopher Collins only has a couple of lines as the character, but he manages to make him so loathsome that there’s never any doubt that we’re Team Klingon all the way.

    The eventual fight is suitably violent and nasty, although I do feel the script lets Jadzia off the hook a little too easily. I also have to wonder if she and Kor completed their pact and cut out and ate the Albino’s heart (although I’m certainly glad they didn’t depict that on screen—these days, in a post-Game of Thrones world, they likely would have).

    Overall, this is a great episode and a definite second season highlight. It’s something very rare for Star Trek and all the more refreshing for it: basically a Kung-fu revenge epic. To its credit, it never loses sight of character, incorporates some thought-provoking moral issues, and boasts strong performances throughout, particularly from its wonderful three guest stars. Rating: 9
     
  19. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is one of my favorite early DS9 episodes.

    Ending an episode with a question of how the characters will feel about each other afterward is a hallmark of Peter Allan Fields, and it's one of the reasons why he's one of the best writers in the franchise. Honestly, pound for pound, DS9 had the best writing staff of the franchise. We'll never get another writers room like that again.

    Of all the Berman era spinoffs that brought back characters from TOS, I think DS9's episodes did them the best. Here, "TRIALS AND TRIBBLE-ATIONS", and the other Kor episodes are all excellent ones. "FLASHBACK" from VOYAGER, while a decent premise, just felt off for some reason. The "Unification" two-parter was okay but felt like it dragged its feet half the time, though "Sarek" and "Relics" were really great. Funny how the series that was constantly treated as the black sheep of the franchise treated its parent series the best...

    Regarding the heart cutting and consumption, I've always felt that since Klingons tend to be a bit exaggerative about their stories, I think this part of the vow falls into that category. I'm sure they cut out the Albino's heart, but there is likely some ritual or song after that which acts like 'eating' it. Sort of like taking the quickening of an immortal in HIGHLANDER or how the Mayans would cut out the hearts of their fallen enemies and perform a ritual under the belief that they added its courage and strength to their own. (Fairly certain it was the Mayans. I know some civilizations in our past did this very thing.)

    This is one episode that can make the argument that the symbiote can sort of override the host a bit, but I actually think it's the opposite. Curzon took the blood oath, and I wonder if that host is the one really pulling the symbiote's strings using Dax as the courier. We find out in "FACETS" that Jadzia started putting her hands behind her back on a regular basis because of Lela, the first host. This points to the symbiote acting as mostly a courier, for lack of a better term, of traits that creep into later hosts. I think that is the case here.

    Anyway, agreed about the guest casting this season, and especially here. Three Dahar masters in their own show? Sign me up for that viewing experience!



    Also, the Albino... I heard a theory that he IS an albino Klingon, because they do exist in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. They are treated very badly in Klingon society, so I can see this one raiding other Klingons and not taking on their clothes or mannerisms because they were so bad to him. I believe he is Klingon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  20. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yeah, it seems like the Albino is a Klingon who hates Klingon culture and other Klingons. If albinos are marginalized in his society, that makes even more sense.
     
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