My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. LadyMondegreen

    LadyMondegreen Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yeah, I think this episode did "mirror" really well. It's easy enough to take a character and just have the actor play a different, evil character. But it did feel like Mirror Sisko was Sisko who had taken refuge in the absurd in the face of an insurmountable power, Kira was Kira without her concern for the downtrodden, Odo was Odo without his very calibrated sense of justice, Garak was Garak who hasn't fully experienced the same fall from grace...the picture of what Odo could have been feels especially salient in light of the soon-to-come reveal about where he comes from.
     
  2. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    MU Odo probably would have happily abandoned Our Heroes in favor of The Link.
     
  3. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Was there a link in the MU? I don't remember seeing any MU changelings except Odo.
    When prime universe Odo was shot with a phaser, he morphed his body to form a hole for the phaser beam to pass through, in time not to be injured at all. Seems odd that MU Odo didn't know that trick.
     
  4. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In one of the DS9 novels Bashir is brought to trial by the MU Dominion for the crime of killing MU Odo. It develops that the Dominion in the MU is more focused on justice than order, and finds Bashir's killing justified under the circumstances. They speculate that "our" Odo and the MU Odo may have actually exchanged universes in the past, explaining why "our" Odo was focused on justice even though the PrimeDominion was focused on order.

    ETA: I just remembered this is a S31 novel, not a DS9 novel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  5. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I heard that theory before, and I do like it. It does explain a few things.
     
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  6. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “THE COLLABORATOR”

    [​IMG]
    Kai Bareil? “In your dreams, my child!”

    I remember back in the day there was a heck of a backlash against these Bajoran-focused episodes. Those were pretty dark days when it seemed that most of fandom hated DS9 and decried it as too “boring”, “dark”, or that ol’ favourite—“it’s NOT Star Trek”. It obviously didn’t take Paramount long to register this bile and it was only exacerbated by the fact the Bajoran episodes were scoring pretty much the lowest ratings of the first two seasons.

    I think by this point, at the tail end of season two, we can already see a shift of emphasis away from Bajor and toward a broader canvas—something that would definitely define the remodelled third season. Fortunately, being the rebels they were, the writing staff would continue to do some Bajor storylines, even if it became only something of a once-or-twice-a-season event. Nevertheless, “The Collaborator” still feels as if it’s something of a last hurrah as it marks the close of a storyline that has stretched across the two seasons: the election of the Kai.

    I’m one of those rare people that usually enjoyed the Bajoran political episodes even back when it wasn’t “cool” to like DS9, much less the “boring politics”. Indeed, many of the show’s finest episodes in its first two seasons were Bajor focused, from the Circle trilogy, to “Duet”, “In the Hands of the Prophets” and (yes!) “Progress” :) To me, these episodes were the product of excellent, sophisticated storytelling and impressive world-building. In previous and subsequent Treks, attempts at politics tended to be overly simplistic and two-dimensional, but DS9’s writers were altogether more masterful and often wove fascinating tapestries with a great sense of moral ambiguity. “The Collaborator” is one such triumph and also demonstrates, like “The Wire” a couple of episodes back, how wonderful this show is at “bottle shows”. Like “The Wire”, this starts off quietly, but builds into a fascinating mystery with a twist that will have ramifications for the entire duration of the show’s remaining run.

    The arrival of collaborator Kubis Oak on the station sets the story into motion; a character that draws the contempt of just about everyone who encounters him, with Kira, in particular, tearing strips off him. In “Duet” we encountered a Cardassian who was “just following orders” but who was emotionally destroyed by the atrocities that he witnessed. Kubis, on the other hand, doesn’t seem nearly as repentant as Marritza. It seems he saw little wrong with working for the Cardassians, even though it meant consigning his fellow Bajorans to the mines, which meant certain death. Kubis likely believed he was someone making the best of a bad situation and doing his best to “serve the only legitimate government”. He seems like a sad, broken old man, but it’s never clear just how much of that is because of the injury he indirectly inflicted upon his fellow Bajorans, or the fact he’s been punished for it with exile.

    Clearly, Kubis is the polar opposite of Kira, who refused to make the best of things and comply with the Cardassians, and instead risked life and limb to liberate her people. I liked the moral ambiguity, however. The episode doesn’t deal in moral certainty. If, Prophets forbid, you or I found ourselves in the same position as the Bajorans, how can we know for certain whether we’d be a Kubis Oak or a Kira Nerys? Unfortunately, the Kubis storyline gets forgotten halfway through the episode and we never learn what becomes of him, but it still neatly sets up the central storyline.

    As we later learn, the whole episode is about impossible choices—choices in which there’s no way to keep your hands clean. Louise Fletcher is once again a joy to behold as the horrendously vile Vedek Winn, who just happens to have dirt on fellow Kai competitor Bareil on the eve of the election. What I love is the way she manipulates Kira into doing her dirty work for her, and the gut-wrenching position Kira finds herself having to investigate the man she loves.

    I’ve already made it clear how weak I’ve found Philip Anglim’s portrayal of Bareil. In theory, the character and his relationship with Kira is fine, but in execution it’s badly damaged by one of the most monotonous, emotionless performances I’ve ever seen by a Trek semi-regular. In a cast as talented as this, and in a season that’s boasted some wonderful guest stars and performances, it really stands out as bad. Some have suggested that it’s just the character’s serenity that makes the performance seem wooden, but here Anglim had perfect opportunity to display some cracks in Bareil’s veneer—to, at the very least, show some emotion. But he doesn’t. Aside from looking mildly surprised in his visions (and, by the way, even the man’s nightmarish visions come across as strangely boring), there’s just nothing there. Nana Visitor deserves an awkward for acting her socks off and managing to convince us that she’s in love, when the co-star in question is simply giving nothing back.

    Fortunately, I think the writers have actually realised that by this point, and interestingly, for an episode about Bareil, his appearances are kept to a minimum and he isn’t given a huge amount of dialogue. Which is a great decision, because this is really Kira’s episode, and Nana is wonderful throughout. I loved her team-up with Odo, because those are two actors that do work beautifully together, and who bring their A-game to every scene. Their visit to Quark to take advantage of his more dubious skills is also a highlight of the episode.

    The revelation that Bareil is covering up for Kai Opaka is a wonderful twist. It was, as I said, an impossible choice she made—she couldn’t have lived with herself if she’d let over a thousand people die, even if that meant the death of her own son. I’m not entirely sure why Bareil and Prylar Bek felt the need to cover this up at the cost of Bek’s life and Bareil’s future, because surely anyone would have acknowledged that Opaka made the best out of two terrible choices? In this case, it can hardly be deemed an act of “collaboration” when it was done to save so many lives?

    Anyway, this leads to one of the season’s biggest shocks: the election of Winn as Kai (to me, It’s even more painful seeing this following the election of a certain ex-President a few years ago, and that of a current Prime Minister in Britain.) It’s nightmarish stuff to be sure, but it also sows the seeds for so many brilliant future storylines and cements Winn as one of my favourite TV villains of all time. Louise Fletcher seems like a genuinely wonderful person (if you haven’t seen it, go watch her Oscar acceptance speech and try not to get teary-eyed!), but, man, she excelled playing downright hateful characters.

    Finally, I know I’ve been tough on Anglim’s performances on the show. I haven’t seen him in anything else, but I assume he’s a capable actor whose stylistic choice simply didn’t work here. But, having seen his shirtless scenes I no longer question what Kira sees him—the guy’s got a surprisingly hot bod for a Vedek! :alienblush: Rating: 8
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  7. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've met Louise Fletcher at DragonCon years ago. Genuinely nice person, wonderful lady.

    I think one of the reasons why Bareil took the fall for Opaka was because of how much he revered her. So many on Bajor did. Even knowing it was for a greater good, many might see her in a less forgiving light. At the very least, her reputation would be a bit tarnished. Imagine if we discover Mother Theresa did something like this. How would people react?

    I do wish we knew the end of Kubis' story... if Winn kept him in sanctuary or hung him out to dry like she did Minister Jaro. Either scenario is possible, as long as it kept her in power.

    Winn is a master manipulator, and it shows so perfectly here. She knew Kira is a determined and dogged person, but honest enough that if Bareil was in the wrong, she would not cover it up. And the beauty of that strategy is if she can get Kira against Bareil, Winn can use that to turn the entire world on him.

    In some ways, I think Bareil did the best thing by stepping down. Obviously, his fate does not end well, but if he were elected Kai, he would have to watch his back so intently that he would be virtually useless in the position because Winn would be vying for the power even more doggedly. At least he got to remain a powerful Vedek for the rest of his time... even a closely trusted advisor to Winn. A little less power, but a lot more inner peace. Like The Who song...

    "I call it a bargain
    The best I ever had."

    One more thing about Kubis, and you touched on this... he seems to represent precisely why Kira hated collaborators even more than Cardassians. I don't think we've seen a repentant collaborator, only those who use excuses. I can certainly side with her hatred on those people. I'd likely be just as unforgiving. At least have remorse for what you did, not just be sorry you got caught.

    I think this episode also is a great example of a line Kira said later in the series... that anyone who survived the Occupation had to get a bit dirty. Even Opaka.

    Side note: Odo's reaction to Kira saying she loves Bareil. First time we see that hint of Odo's feelings in the series, so this episode is landmark there, as well.
     
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  8. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Captain Captain

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    Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu did far worse than Opaka. She's a pure product of PR. Many react with denial.
     
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  9. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Now, now, Garak, still a few more seasons to go!
     
  10. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah she really wasn't the saint people thought she was
     
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  11. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “TRIBUNAL”

    [​IMG]
    Miles forgot the flash was ‘on’ when taking his tricorder selfie.

    Funny, I never recall this episode as being particularly strong one, but while watching it I found it engaging and throughly enjoyable, up until a somewhat anticlimactic ending. The whole premise was born of a single line in “The Maquis” where Dukat boasts about the efficiency of the Cardassian legal system and how the verdict is always the same—guilty. It’s great to see that deplorable legal system in action, and who better to put through this torturous situation than poor old Miles O’Brien in what has now become a tradition of “O’Brien goes through hell” episodes.

    The story is nicely set up and O’Brien’s arrival on Cardassia effectively disturbing and traumatic without being overly violent and gruesome (as a lot of television is these days; series like Game of Thrones have a lot to answer for!). This episode marks Avery Brooks’ directorial debut and he immediately establishes himself as a skilled director with an excellent visual flair. The episode makes use of limited sets and creates a nicely tense, claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. I particularly love what will become an oft-used stock piece of giant viewscreens on the streets of Cardassia broadcasting the trial (and, most likely, a 24/7 stream of state propaganda).

    [​IMG]

    The world-building is impressive, really giving us a feel of Cardassia as a terrifyingly realistic totalitarian state. Cardassian trials are in no way about justice, but a tool of the state to not only entertain the masses, but drill into them the futility of resistance and independent thought.

    O’Brien is a particularly good choice to embroil in this plot because his hatred of Cardassians has been established as far back as TNG’s “The Wounded”. Colm Meaney is superb as ever, particularly in the scene where he protests his innocence to Odo with an affecting speech about how he simply tries to be the best man he can be. Rene Auberjonois is wonderful throughout as well, with Odo perhaps initially doubtful of O’Brien’s innocence, but then serving as his impassioned advocate, reeling with frustration as he tries to get justice from a legal system rooted in anything but.

    Fritz Weaver gives a fun performance as O’Brien’s defence lawyer, a man who has never won a case in his life, but who seems content that his job is simply to provide the public with a good show. When O’Brien is eventually acquitted, Kovat’s astonishment rapidly turns to terror; “they’ll kill me!”—and they probably will, too. The only slight disappointment performance-wise is Caroline Lagerfelt as the judge, Makbar. She’s adequate, but her performance doesn’t nearly have the teeth or menace it could have done with.

    The plot is generally strong and I loved that it provides some follow-up to “The Maquis” only a few episodes later, reminding us that this issue not only isn’t going away, but is getting worse as time passes. Unfortunately, after such an engaging build-up and some entertaining courtroom scenes the eventual resolution is a tad weak.

    I didn’t entirely buy the station-side investigations. First of all, it seems unlikely that, in the 24th century, a person can only be identified by voice ID, and while the tooth-pulling made for an effectively unpleasant interrogation sequence, i find it odd that Bashir deduces that Boone is a Cardassian by a missing molar—I mean, were all the tricorders on the blink that day? After all, a century earlier McCoy managed to identify a Klingon disguised as a human with a simple tricorder scan, yet here we seem to be reduced to counting teeth. It also seems strange that the Obsidian Order would keep a record of citizens by removing a tooth when it would have made more sense to implant them with some kind of chip or something more technological.

    Sisko bursting into the courtroom at the last minute with fresh evidence was not only highly cliched, but most improbable. Would the Cardassians, being Cardassians, really let Sisko barge into a courtroom, even if (and, in fact, especially if) he has evidence to exonerate O’Brien? I think not. It also ends up feeling a little too Scooby-Doo for my liking (“and I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling Starfleeters!”).

    But, nitpicks aside, everything up to the last few minutes is pretty darn good, and I greatly enjoyed our first proper visit to Cardassia Prime. Rating: 7
     
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  12. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Several elements make me think this episode was also somewhat inspired by "THE OBSOLETE MAN", one of my favorites from the original THE TWILIGHT ZONE. In fact, Fritz Weaver was in that episode, too!

    The way the courtroom is played out in a similar fashion, with the futility of fighting against the system, as it is rigged in such a way as to make it impossible to win.

    O'Brien's take on trying to live like a good man was a really great scene, and I love Odo's response.

    As you mentioned, Avery Brooks does an outstanding job directing, as we see across all 9 of his episodes.

    The color choices of Cardassian buildings and in the air on Cardassia really makes the world feel totalitarian.
     
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  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “THE JEM’HADAR”

    [​IMG]
    Sure, Ben, you can trust her. She looks trustworthy...:shifty:

    And so the second season ends...with a BANG! You know, even though DS9 generally gets the respect it deserves these days, something I still hear over and over again is that the first two seasons are irredeemably bad to the point of being “unwatchable”. They are far from the show’s best, granted, but they are also far from bad, particularly the latter section of season one and large stretches of the second season are pretty damn strong. In fact, this season, which ran concurrently with TNG’s seventh season was far superior to its sister show’s swansong (which was, in my opinion, one of the worst seasons of Trek ever produced). The highs weren’t as high as other seasons, but there weren’t too many lows when all is said and done. The characters developed nicely as the show angled toward its new focus on Alpha Quadrant politics and the Dominion, the latter of which really takes off with this excellent season finale.

    What I love about this episode is that it starts off as a delightfully offbeat comedy with Sisko, Jake, Nog and Quark on an awkward field trip with Quark getting on everyone’s nerves as only he can. There’s absolutely no indication that a half hour later we’d be witnessing a ferocious space battle with an exploding Galaxy-class starship. Now, it’s not unusual for the crew to be apprehended by aliens while exploring a planet, but, with the shadow of the Dominion looming over us for the best part of a season, this time you know things are deadly serious.

    There’s a lot to love here; starting with the Sisko/Quark Odd Couple-esque pairing, which culminates in a memorable tirade from Quark that actually shows the Ferengi race in a completely different light, making Sisko, and perhaps also the viewer, reevaluate his previous prejudice. Jake and Nog are fun as they haplessly try to mount a rescue (there are certainly no Wesley Crusher superkid shenanigans here!), and our first encounter with the Jem’Hadar, the muscle of the Dominion, reveals them as suitably threatening and powerful.

    In some ways this episode reminds me of TNG’s “Q Who?” which basically wrote the book on how to introduce a new enemy in an utterly thrilling and terrifying way. It’s probably the first time in Trek since then that I really sat up and took notice because the sense of threat was incredibly well conveyed—particularly the Jem’Hadar’s brief visit to the station where it’s revealed they destroyed a Bajoran colony in the Gamma Quadrant and they draw the battle lines with a threat to retaliate if Starfleet doesn’t stop crossing the wormhole. Cress Williams is suitably intimidating as the Jem’Hadar first, and Kim Friedman’s directing is taut and well paced.

    I thought Molly Hagan did a particularly good job as the mysterious Eris. On my first viewing I didn’t guess the twist, but her performance seems especially great on subsequent viewings, as there’s actually something quite dark and duplicitous about it. Her final threat before she inexplicably beams out of Ops is quite chilling.

    Oh, and then there’s the Odyssey. First of all, I enjoyed the great Alan Oppenheimer’s brief performance as Captain Keogh and rather wish we’d got to see the character again, if only fate hadn’t had other plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision to use the Enterprise-D model as the Odyssey was a conscious attempt to draw in viewers who’d just seen the final episode of TNG and who hadn’t given DS9 much of a chance. It’s certainly a bold choice—even moreso to feature its destruction. The message was clear: this shit is real, so stick around for the next season. I was certainly excited, and it seemed a long wait for the third season to arrive! (Hard to believe that was the best part of thirty years ago. I feel old!)

    I pretty much loved this season finale and think it still holds up well as one of the strongest episodes of the season. It hit all the right notes and amped up the excitement for the next season tremendously. Rating: 9
     
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  14. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree that seasons 1 and 2 have a lot of strong points, particularly season 2 in comparison to the concurrently run season 7 of TNG. (I find it interesting that the two STAR TREK seasons really run by Jeri Taylor, season 7 of TNG and season 3 of VOYAGER, are what I believe to be among the weakest overall in the franchise. Which is very odd, because a lot of her episodes she writes are really good. I personally think it's a case of she's better at writing than showrunning.)

    Kim Friedman's trademark, to me, is the taut style of directing that you noted. This is especially apparent here, in "THE SHIP", and VOYAGER's "CATHEXIS". She also does character very well... see "THE WIRE", "NOR THE BATTLE TO THE STRONG", and VOYAGER's "JETREL". (The less said about "TWISTED", though, the better. Even her directing couldn't save that mess.)

    Quark's speech to Ben is one of my favorite from him. He's pretty spot on, and this especially shows how well he does in being the outside commentator.

    Ira Steven Behr certainly did a great job creating the menace and threat here, especially with how easy Talak'talan just walked through the force field and his grim warning.

    This was a great season finale, and despite DS9 never doing two-parters for them, I think overall their season finales are the among best in the franchise, particularly when you have to wait all summer for it to come back. (The biggest nailbiter for me... "CALL TO ARMS". My jaw dropped at that last scene.)


    Side note: Talak'talan called himself 'Third', which I found odd on rewatches after they established the Jem'Hadar rank structure more thoroughly. When I watched when it first aired, I assumed this was the third in his name, like how you'd say Reginald Barclay III, only they do it in reverse. I find it odd now because why send a Third when a First is usually the one who speaks for any given Jem'Hadar unit or ship when no Vorta are in sight.
     
  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like the idea that they sent a Third because they didn't feel DS9 merited someone higher up on the totem pole. It's an insult. That said, I had trouble making out the line the first time around, and even when the Jem'hadar hierarchy was more clear I didn't realize that Talak'talan had identified himself with his rank.
    An alternate interpretation might be that they were worried that DS9 might be tougher than they anticipated, and as such didn't want to risk a First.

    I'm pretty sure the first time I saw this episode I was groaning during the first quarter or so of the episode, aghast that they thought Sisko and Jake go camping with Quark and Nog was a good storyline for a season finale. Of course, all of that changes the moment Eris enters the picture. I didn't know a lot of people watching DS9 at the time, and it was frustrating that I couldn't talk about the episode with anyone!

    Granted she's damaged at this point, but the slow turn of the Odyssey as she moves to retreat back to the AQ still stands out to me for how ungainly it makes the Galaxy-class look in that moment. Ironically I was wondering whether they'd destroy the ship, but once that turn happened I figured that was that; I didn't anticipate the Jem'hadar being vindictive and self-sacrificing enough to do a kamikaze run at that point.

    No mention of Jake and Nog's runabout shenanigans, especially regarding the hilarious paradox involving the GNR? Shame!
     
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  16. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Interesting point about sending a Third because it was an insult. Two things make me think otherwise, though.

    First, the Jem'Hadar don't seem to care about insults. Now, it's possible the Vorta on that ship sent him with that in mind. We have no way of knowing either way.

    Second, they seem to have had a lot of intelligence on the area already. I doubt they thought he was in any danger from the station or its people.

    Now, the kamikaze run... that was a shocking moment. Very effective. Sisko was right, it simply showed us just how far they'll go. And we learn later, because of their genetically engineered nature and upbringing, the Jem'Hadar do not care about their lives. Hard to fight an enemy that will suicide themselves on a whim just to damage you. We see it several more times, probably most notably at the first Battle of Chin'toka.
     
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  17. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I am surprised this script has only one name on it. It reads like it has RHW's hands all over it (though it might be because ISB was working from his notes).

    I never got the sense that "third" was meant as an insult. We never get a description of Jem Hadar titles, but I always thought of it as a reference to where one existed in a given hierarchy, not a rank. The head of a platoon would be called first. The commanding officer of a ship would be called first. "Third" in this episode might be someone from the office of ultimatums, which might be somewhat prestigious.
     
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  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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  19. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is not what I was suggesting. Indeed, when we see these promotions happening only in the field, the idea that they are only relevant in terms of the specific unit seems to be supported.
     
  20. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, the times we see them does indicate it only really matters within their platoon.

    The structure seems to be that the Vorta on the ship is captain, the Jem'Hadar First is the XO, the Second is the 2nd Officer, etc. I don't think we ever saw a rank below Sixth or Seventh, likely because we never see more than that on screen due to the costs in actors and makeup. But I always wondered how the bulk of the troops were set up. Are there really only a dozen or so numbered, and everyone else is just a Private or whatever their word for it is? It would be hard to keep track of everyone's specific numbers with a ship of hundreds, particularly since there was no insignia that seemed to show their rank.