My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm sure if any one from the Trill Symbiosis Commission visited the station, Ezri would've made sure to keep her distance from Worf.

    Settled on Trill, maybe settled in the Federation, but this is the first time it would've come up in the Bajoran legal system.
     
  2. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    That...might actually have made for a good DS9 farce-style comedy! Opens with Worf and Ezri waking up in bed together. They get word that the Trill Reassociation Prevention Officer has just arrived on the station. “Oh noes!”
     
  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “The Passenger”

    [​IMG]

    How most viewers probably felt watching this episode.

    Oh dear—and so we come to the first season’s Terrible Two... (cue ominous Jay Chattaway sonic wallpaper music)

    When I was buying the episodes on VHS as a teenager, I had to skip the volume containing ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Move Along Home’ because I couldn’t afford to buy them all, alas. That was a blessing in disguise, however, because I’m pretty sure I’d that after watching these I’d have marched back to the shop and demanded my money back.

    I often hear fans complain a lot about DS9’s first season being “unwatchable”, and I disagree with that assertion. It’s slow going, yes, and it takes the writers a while to get a grip on both the characters and to find the show’s own voice. There are a fair few clunkers, to be sure—but I don’t think it’s irredeemably bad. After all, how could any season that produces a masterpiece like ‘Duet’ be ALL bad?

    However, when I get to this mid-season slump, I can begin to see why early DS9 gets such a hard time, and why some viewers started bailing at this point. ‘The Passenger’ isn’t offensively bad on the level of such dreck as ‘Code of Honor’, ‘And The Children Shall Lead’ or ‘Threshold’. But it’s bad. The story is utterly formulaic and generic, borrowing a trope that’s been done to death in Trek and sci-fi in general (and which would again by employed before the season was out).

    Now, the ‘alien possession’ lark can often be fun. It can enable actors otherwise stuck in fairly thankless roles to shine and have a ball chewing the scenery (I’m thinking of Marina Sirtis in ‘Power Play’, Rosalind Chao in ‘The Assignment’ and Jennifer Lien in ‘Warlord’). So, really, this had the potential to be a decent enough episode for Alexander Siddig, and, heaven knows, he needs it at this point. I always tend to forget what an utter pain in the ass Bashir was in these early episodes. Even when he’s not harassing Jadzia or other women, he’s insufferably naive and arrogant, as Kira just about tells him in the teaser. Fortunately, that will change as the series progresses, but this episode does him no favours.

    I’m actually not sure what went so horribly wrong here, because Siddig has since proved himself a talented actor, and he’s had one of the more successful careers of all Trek alumni. But, to be blunt, he’s awful as the possessed Bashir. Like seriously, laughably bad. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I saw that this is one of the worst performances ever given by a Trek regular.

    Mercifully, we don’t get to see the Vantika-Bashir until quite late in the episode. Much of the story is simply build up...and sadly even that isn’t at all good. It’s strictly by the numbers stuff, and what could have been genuinely creepy and suspenseful tale is simply dull and tedious, with altogether too much technobabble. Even the normally wonderful Quark, who can elevate just about any scene he’s in, is borderline unlikable here.

    I seem to recall liking Ty Kajada. She was a badass with a cool gun, but she’s actually a pretty one-note character and isn’t all that interesting. We’re also introduced to Starfleet security officer George Primmin, who was intended as a foil for Odo. While I like the ongoing rumblings that Starfleet is uncomfortable with Odo as security chief, this sub-plot isn’t particularly effective, and I think a lot of that is down to the fact Primmin simply isn’t likeable. Fortunately, he would only appear once more, and the writers would later introduce Michael Eddington as a far more successful alternative.

    Overall, this is poor stuff. When the underlying premise is weak, it all lives or dies on the execution, and the execution is just...lame. To paraphrase the words of Grand Nagus Zek a couple of episodes hence: “It failed! MisERably!!” And so did my attention, which wandered throughout. DS9 deserves more, and so do the viewers. Rating: 3
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
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  4. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is it possible Siddig was a victim of poor direction?
     
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  5. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It shouldn't matter whatsoever. Not only was Ezri never under the jurisdiction of the Trill initiate program, she was born outside the Federation. If officers of the commission showed up on the station, she (and Sisko) could tell them to suck it.
     
  6. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Given that there's apparently a limited number of symbionts, if Ezri refused to obey Trill law regarding the symbionts there might be a legal argument that she'd essentially absconded with the symbiont.
     
  7. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    If I remember "Rejoined," the threat was to banish an offender from Trill, and since the Symbiosis Commission was on Trill that meant no new hosts for that symbiont when the host died. But from Ezri, we see that all the joined Trill needs to do is stick close to an unjoined Trill and a doctor who knows how to join the symbiont to a new host.
     
  8. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, though it's never made clear by what mechanisms such a punishment would be handed down or meted out. The fact that Ezri really does not belong to Trill society, despite being biologically Trill, changes the equation significantly. Odan was obviously not ostracized for reassociating with Beverly Crusher. Moreover, the understanding of the meaning of reassociation and its consequences seem to be conveyed via the initiate program, according to Rejoined. I don't see how the symbiosis commission or the Trill government would argue that the specific laws would apply to Ezri.
     
  9. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Move Along Home”

    [​IMG]

    Siddig just read the script for this episode?

    So here’s the million dollar question: Is ‘Move Along Home’ as bad as its shitty reputation suggests?

    It’s only in the past few years that I’ve noticed how despised this episode is online. Back in the day, I don’t recall it getting nearly so much hate, although it was certainly never loved. Don’t get me wrong, it is bad, and it is stupid—but definitely, I’d argue, not as bad and stupid as ‘Spock’s Brain’, ‘Threshold’, or ‘Sub Rosa’, to name but three.

    I refute the notion that this is the worst episode of DS9, or even the worst episode of the season. If I had to choose between watching this or ‘The Passenger’, I’d almost certainly choose this, because for all its flaws, it’s still kind of halfway entertaining and, unlike that story, has a modicum of ambition.

    The plot itself is like something out of Red Dwarf. It’s utterly zany and, with the right execution, might have worked—just. I think the problem is, firstly, the lack of budget, and secondly, and perhaps primarily, the weak writing. The Wadi, one of the first cultures we’ve encountered from the Gamma Quadrant are sociopathic assholes who should’ve been, in the words of Troi, “EJECTED INTO SPACE” at the first opportunity. The teaser is amusing, however, particularly Sisko’s crestfallen “First contact is not what it used to be”. No kidding.

    Now, if you’re going to base an entire episode around an alien game, you should at least make the game interesting, compelling and well thought out. It’s none of those things. For such an imaginative premise, there’s precious little imagination on display. Again, I wonder how much of this comes down to budgetary considerations, which have certainly resulted in a very confined and claustrophobic feeling first season. However, the challenges the players face are utterly inane. The worst, by far, is the infamous hopscotch scene. RARELY have I seen Trek actors look as obviously embarrassed by the material. Although, I hasten to add, Trek has done and would do far worse—I’m thinking Kirk being ridden around making pony noises (‘Platos’s Stephchildren’), transgender Quark being chased around a room by a horny businessman (‘Profit and Lace’) and Beverly Crusher hooking up with her dead grandmother’s orgasmotastic vampiric space ghost boyfriend (‘Sub Rosa’).

    While there’s a nice scene with Sisko and Jake and Odo gets a chance to shine as he essentially takes command, the rest of the characters are not served well and none of the cast give their best. Kira is ridiculously hot-headed, Bashir incredibly annoying, and Dax unusually cold (“If you were injured I’d leave YOU behind!”). Armin Shimmerman is mostly fine, but horribly overplays his grovelling when Fallow wants him to sacrifice a player.

    The ending, where we learn that the players were never really in any danger (“it’s only a game!) is actually quirky enough to just about work for me, although I know it infuriated a lot of others. I actually wonder if this episode might have worked better had it been played as an out and out comedy rather than in earnest. It’s definitely a misfire, and sorely lacks imagination, but I must admit there’s still part of me....almost finds it trashily entertaining.

    Rating: 4
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2021
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  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'll give it a point just for it showing up in WWLB. :p

    Sadly that's just about the only point I'll give it. :guffaw:

    I do wonder whether there were actual plans for Primmin though, and if so, whether he would have inherited Eddington's arc. Because a character who we'd known since S1 joining the Maquis could have packed roughly as much punch (or more) as Saavik being the assassin in TUC.
     
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  11. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Basically, LARPing through Chutes and Ladders, which I think is the closest approximation in terms of mechanism, is just not interesting. It might have been more interesting if the gamer were more like and RPG.

    The funny thing is that everyone can sing Alemaraine. When asked about his least favorite moment on the series, Avery Brooks sang the rhyme from memory. I know others who can do the same after only one viewing. Somehow, it is both the nadir of a terrible episode and endearing. I personally think it is cute watching the actors squirm through the scene, especially Nana Visitor.
     
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  12. Cyfa

    Cyfa Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm really enjoying your rewatch, @ananta - and your choice of screenshots and captions :bolian: :rommie:

    I must say, I agree that "The Passenger" is a horrible episode, and far worse than "Move Along Home" (which, although toe-curling in places, is quite enjoyable - to me, at least). I'm intrigued by the game pieces in Chula that represent Sisko, Dax, Bashir and Kira - it's these little touches, and the world-building that often saves an episode for me.
     
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  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I saw the Avery interview and it was hilarious seeing him immediately sing “Allamaraine” when asked what his worst episode was. You can tell the actors just know this is one of the low points of their career! It is perversely entertaining.
     
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  14. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Thanks Cyfa, rewatching DS9 again after years is so much fun, even the crappy episodes are brightening my day! Glad I’m not the only one who thought ‘The Passenger’ was terrible. I feel it doesn’t get the hate it deserves :guffaw:
     
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  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The funny thing is that Move Along Home is drawn from the same deck of cards as TNG's Allegiance: people transplanted into a new environment, forced to deduce the nature of their situation; the people in real life equally confronted with uncertainties; and the CO forced to sing strange songs. It's another episode in which the characters are confronted with the arbitrariness of tests or, in this case, games. With a stronger concept, Allemaraine would have been remembered as a counterpoint to the story rather than a further humiliation for the actors.
     
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  16. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Not as bad as Spock's Brain - now that's a low bar if I ever heard one!
     
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  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I admit: I laughed out loud.

    Can I interest you in Threshold? Dear Doctor? Profit & Lace? Code of Honor? Author Author?
     
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  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “The Nagus”

    [​IMG]
    What’s a little murder attempt between brothers?!

    Alright, confession time: I actually like the Ferengi! (On DS9, that is—they were, of course, abysmal on TNG) Back during the show’s initial run, that was an unpopular opinion. The Ferengi eps got a whole lot of hate online, and, to be fair, toward the end of the show, there were a few stinkers. But I nevertheless loved watching Quark and co; an extended family the likes of which we never saw on Trek before or since. I can understand that not everyone found the wacky comedy to their liking, but these quirky romps added a wonderful touch of humour to the series and for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed them.

    Make of this what you will, but I actually think “The Nagus” is one of the first episodes thus far that feels uniquely and unapologetically DS9. Up until now it’s as though the writers were treading water, self-consciously looking over their shoulder as they churned out a series of what often felt like generic TNG cast-offs. It’s probably no coincidence that this episode was penned by Ira Behr, who would go on to become DS9’s head writer and guiding force, and you can see the hallmarks of his quirky irreverence all over this. Unlike many of the previous episodes, this is a tale that could only have been told on DS9.

    Armin Shimmerman has been a shining light throughout these uneven early episodes, so it’s wonderful to see him assume centre stage. While the plot itself is cliched and hardly ground-breaking, it’s a genuinely fun romp, wonderfully executed and arguably one of the most thoroughly entertaining episodes of the season. At this point, following a run of somewhat dour misfires, the light-hearted tone of “The Nagus” is a breath of fresh air. It’s a joy to behold Quark’s reactions as he finds himself in an extraordinary predicament, experiencing a gamut of emotions from shock and delight to dismay and terror as he realises the downside of power! Shimmerman is superb throughout, and Max Grodenchik finally gets to put his own stamp on the bumbling Rom, although it’s worth noting that here he’s a TAD more ruthless and, er, homicidal, than the sweet-natured character we’d later know.

    Wallace Shawn is just a riot as the wizened, cackling, rampant holosuite-loving old Nagus. When I was a kid, my sister and I found him hysterical and I remember we used to quote Zek liberally (for example, at dinner time: “I’m old, the fire dims, I’m just not as GREEDY as I used to be!”).

    The Jake subplot is also a low-key triumph, not least because it affords us some delightful interplay between father an son, and the chemistry between Brooks and Lofton is, and always will be, a joy. While I don’t feel the writers have a handle on Sisko’s character at this point, the fact he is a father adds a wonderful depth and angle to him that sets him apart from all the other Trek captains (or, OK, commanders). I also love the Jake and Nog interplay. Generally, Trek had an atrocious history of annoying child characters. DS9 was the first Trek show where the kids felt real and weren’t insanely irritating or horribly acted. So, fair play! This episode definitely seems to display a new confidence and self-assuredness for the fledgling series. While many people didn’t care for the broad comedy, I, for one, found it refreshing and entertaining. Rating: 7
     
  19. FanST

    FanST Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I always loved this scene from 'The Nagus'. One of the strong points of DS9 was the father-son bond between Ben and Jake.

     
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  20. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Worth noting: Jake and Nog never once saved the station either, that I recall.
     
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