My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “THE DIE IS CAST”

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    “Constable, THIS is what happens when you don’t MOISTURISE!”

    “The Die is Cast” is a true watershed for Deep Space Nine: an episode that sees the show finally capitalise on the galaxy-shattering arrival of the Dominion and shift its storytelling focus into the epic space opera it would remain for the remainder of its run.

    One of the frustrations I had re-watching TNG last year was that, aside for the Borg incident (which was something of an early peak for the series) and perhaps the brief Klingon civil war, nothing much really happened in terms of the broader canvas; nothing to really shake up the Trek universe. Episodes tended to generally only focus on smaller scale issues. That’s why, when I first watched this episode some 26 years ago (man, I feel old), I was so thrilled. It truly felt like storytelling on an EPIC scale—and the moment the fleet of Romulan and Cardassian warships decloaked at the station, I knew just how massive the stakes were.

    By this point, the DS9 writers had gained considerable confidence and I could tell that they weren’t afraid to shake up the status quo. One of the show’s greatest strengths, of course, is that plots aren’t neatly wrapped up by the end of each episode. I knew that whatever happened now, there would be consequences, and the Trek world would never be quite the same again. In many ways, I feel this is the point in the series where the writers truly found their feet and decided exactly what they wanted the show to be.

    The plot is bold and, to me, almost Shakespearean in tone. Of course, in DS9, the characterisation was at least as important as the plot, and the two are deftly intertwined here. It’s a powerhouse episode for Odo and Garak, with Auberjonois and Robinson once again delivering superb performances. Garak is initially delighted at being reinstated as Tain’s protege, but things quickly sour when Tain orders him to interrogate and torture Odo, undoubtedly as a test of loyalty. Whereas until now I suspected Garak may be a sociopath (a quality that would, no doubt, be valuable in his line of work), it’s clear that the tailor-cum-spy does have a conscience; for the torture scene evidently causes him almost as much pain as Odo. It’s a harrowing scene and all the more painful for the stunning performances and uncomfortably claustrophobic directing. What we learn—specifically, that Odo is tormented by an almost irresistible desire to return to his people—adds another wonderful layer of depth to an already complex and conflicted character. Fortunately, later Garak redeems himself by rescuing the Constable and the beautiful, enigmatic closing scene suggests that out of this painful affair a new and unlikely friendship has been born.

    Elsewhere, there’s plenty of excitement as Sisko and crew defy Starfleet Command and take the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant on a rescue and intercept mission. I did feel that Sisko was a little too quick to go renegade. Although the cost of his disobedience is laid bare, if every Captain in Starfleet decided to go off and do their own thing irrespective of orders, the chain of command would collapse and Starfleet would be no more. I don’t know if I’d have been quite as forgiving if I were Admiral Toddman. Eddington, of course, proves himself a rather duplicitous character, deliberately sabotaging the Defiant—but, the fact is, he was simply following orders from Toddman. Would you or I have done any different in his position? Hard to say. This plot does sow seeds of doubt about Eddington and how much he can be trusted; something that would go on to provide some excellent drama in the next two seasons.

    I do feel, however, that the scenes of the Defiant dead in space felt just a little bit like padding. The only bum note in the episode for me comes at the end of act two when the Defiant suddenly de-cloaks. Sisko’s line “...AND WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT OUR WAY OUT OF HERE!” is something of a low-key cringe for me. Both the directing (a rapid zoom in on Sisko’s face) and Brooks’ line delivery with a sudden raised voice, come across as a tad melodramatic for my taste.

    Apart from that though, the episode is flawless. I loved the twist that the Founders had actually orchestrated the entire affair, deliberately manipulating the Cardassians and Romulans into attacking them in order to eliminate them both. We see just how dangerous the Dominion is because they’re utterly insidious and manage to pull everyone’s strings from the shadows. The fact that Lovok turns out to be a Changeling highlights that basically no one can be trusted now. How do you defeat an enemy that can change shape and replace people in positions of power? The episode also treats us to one of the most stunning space battles ever seen on Trek up to this point. Most of the time Trek only featured very limited space battles: rarely more than a couple of ships exchanging phaser blasts. This is one of the first times we’ve seen an entire fleet of ships engaged in battle on screen and it’s utterly thrilling—particularly when we get to see the Defiant kick ass as only it can. Fortunately, all the pyrotechnics are warranted by a truly brilliant plot and superb characterisation and performances. This is definitely among DS9’s top ten episodes and basically sets the tone for the rest of the series to come. Rating: 10
     
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  2. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    Great recap, thanks. It struck me how Garak and Odo have utter loneliness in common... the only ones of their kind on the ship--refugees, exiles surrounded with people who hate or distrust them. Still, the idea of Odo having breakfast with Garak so soon after being tortured by him seems like a stretch.
     
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  3. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I almost spit out my drink when I read your caption for the picture. Hilarious!!!

    I pretty much agree with everything you said here. I don't think it's a coincidence that in the end credit, only Rick Berman is shown as Executive Producer, meaning Michael Piller stepped down and Ira Steven Behr fully got the reigns. Behr knew where he wanted to take DS9, and it shows. This is where the golden age of DS9 starts.

    One thing I must point out... the Tain originated the plan, but the Founders moved all the pieces to make it happen. But yes, they are extremely dangerous for the reasons you said, but the real reason is because they have one trait that makes the best villains... patience. They can play the LLLLLLOOOOOONG game, and they are fine with that. One of the very best villains in all scifi (I think, anyway) is Scorpius from FARSCAPE, because he had patience in spades.
     
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  4. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What you said about them being exiles is precisely why I feel DS9 is the most STAR TREK series at its core than any other in the franchise.

    Odo is an outcast. Garak is an outcast and an exile. Quark ended up being an outcast by his own society. Worf is an outcast. Rom and Nog, in varying degrees, are outcasts of their culture. Tora Ziyal was an outcast of both her heritages. Even Bashir ends up with a stigma due to his genetic background.

    They are all outcasts, but they were welcome on the station. "Your people may want nothing to do with you, but you are welcome here and can be a part of our community." I can't think of a better message that says 'STAR TREK' than that.

    DEEP SPACE NINE is the best representation of the ideals of what this franchise is all about.
     
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  5. Sarxus

    Sarxus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree. DS9 is not my favorite ST show. That medal goes to TNG actually, but DS9 comes right after it. Both shows are awesome and while I still love TNG a bit more overall, I have to say that there's at least one thing where DS9 is pretty ahead: Characters. While I like the TNG main crew a lot, I must say that they don't hold up to the DS9 crew and the development of those chars. In that sense, I subscribe to everything you state. Odo with his desire and journey to finally meet his own kind and how all this turns out is a perfect example of character development. Sisko as a character has so many different layers and his personality is very complex and to some point controversal (I just say "In The Pale Moonlight"). And then of course Garak, Rom, Nog and last but not least of course Gul Dukat are extremely interesting and well written characters, and those aren't even regulars.

    Plus, on a side note, DS9 contains with the already mentioned "In The Pale Moonlight" the in my opinion best ST episode of ALL (can't wait for the review in here). So yeah, even when I prefer TNG still over DS9 it's actually a close race, and when it comes to characters, DS9 is clearly the leading one.
     
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  6. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I still remember the way the bottom dropped out of my stomach the first time I heard this:
    TAIN: Signal the fleet to charge weapons and lock onto their targets. We will open fire the moment we drop our cloaks.
    PILOT: All ships report ready. All weapons charged.
    TAIN: So much for the Dominion. Open fire.
    PILOT: The first barrage is complete.
    TAIN: Effect?
    PILOT: Thirty percent of the planetary crust destroyed on opening volley. No change in lifeform readings.
    TAIN: What? That's impossible. Some of them had to be killed.
    PILOT: Our sensor readings have been confirmed by three other warbirds. There has been no change in the number of life-signs on the surface.
    GARAK: They're using an automated transponder to send back false sensor readings. The planet's deserted.
    TAIN: Colonel, signal the fleet to
    PILOT: Colonel, there are ships coming out of the nebula.
    LOVOK: What type of ships?
    PILOT: Jem'Hadar fighters.
    TAIN: How many? I asked you a question.
    PILOT: One hundred fifty.

    I'm pretty sure we'd never even heard of a fleet of 150 ships in Trek prior to this moment.

    Also, of course, this:
    ODO: Why are you doing this?
    LOVOK: Because no changeling has ever harmed another.
     
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  7. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG is theory. DS9 is practice.
     
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  8. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    Now I’m a bit confused as to whether Tain or the Founders really initiated the plan for the Romulan/Cardassian pre-emptive attack.
    Another thing – Odo cried out under torture that all he wanted was to go home to the Great Link… but shortly after, when Lovok asked him to join him and the other Changelings, he turned him down flat. So maybe Odo was actually lying to Garak during torture – Garak had told him to do just that.
     
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  9. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    One day, the Dominion will be back to take their revenge. On Romulus.
     
  10. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Personally, I think the changelings are artificially created. I don't see how their species could have been the product of natural selection. To me, it looks like an experiment gone out of hand and the "creature" destroying the creator, as long as all traces of them. In a word, "Frankenstein". We see this in Voyager with a population of robots that had destroyed they creator because they wanted to put an end to a war.
     
  11. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When Lovok said "No Changeling has ever harmed another", he also told them Tain originated the plan and when they learned of it, did everything they could to move it forward.

    I think Odo was not lying to Garak. He still does not like what the Founders represent, and even if he was lying to Garak, the trap that was just admitted to him could very well have been yet another reason to not go with the Great Link at that time.
     
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  12. dupersuper

    dupersuper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Does that mean the "Silver Blood" in Voyager was created? The Wraiths in Enterprise? The Chameloid in Undiscovered Country? The Allasimorphs in TNG? The Vendorians in TAS/Lower Decks? The Antosians mentioned in TOS?
     
  13. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    The silver blood wasn't even alive before it met the Voyager crew and then... it reverted back to nothingness after a few months of thinking it was the crew itself.

    As far as I know, the chameloids don't take a liquid form in their natural state and neither do the sluglike beings that Archer met on the rogue planet.

    What I don't see is how beings that spend most of their time comingled in a sea of goo could have evolved that way. Evolution is about fighting off predators, hunting prey, and fighting for resources. That's what makes beings become better without it, what you get is dodos, doomed to extinction.
     
  14. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The silver blood crew were destroyed dye to that new warp drive they created. They stopped it, but the damage was too far along, so they disintegrated.

    Plus, I don't think they were an experiment. The planet they were on was completely hostile to all other life.
     
  15. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If Picard S2 revealed that it was the Changelings responsible for the destruction of Romulus that would be a great plot thread to pull on!

    We could get a DS9 alumni joining the cast.
     
  16. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Dominion did try it with Bajor once...
     
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  17. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Or maybe we'll learn whatever happened to the Borg in Picard s2. We saw one reformed cube in s1 but that doesn't tell us about the collective.
     
  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “EXPLORERS”

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    Transformation to Sisko badass mode: nearly complete.

    Following the bombast of the previous episode, “Explorers” is a wonderful change of pace; a low-key character piece with an inspired premise and wonderful interplay between Ben and Jake Sisko.

    Right from the start, one of the show’s most delightful relationships is that of the Sisko men, with Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton displaying a marvellous, natural, authentic chemistry, making even the briefest of scenes between the two a highlight of just about any episode. By all accounts, Brooks and Lofton truly were as close as father and son in real life, and that really shines from the screen. It’s rare to see two actors radiate such obvious love for each other on screen. The writing has also contributed to the success of the relationship, which feels absolutely real and true to life, warts and all. It’s actually surprising that it’s taken nearly three years for the writers to pair the two for a whole episode (“The Jem’Hadar” doesn’t really count).

    This episode marks the first time that we see not only Sisko’s new goatee, but also his obsessive streak—and, as we’d see time and again, once Ben gets an idea in his head all bets are off! His passion is infectious and the episode is set up beautifully; the highlight being a particularly sweet scene between Sisko and Dax, with Ben fondly reminiscing about building a nursery for Jake. It’s just a wonderful character episode all round and one that successfully sows the seeds of a number of future storylines. It sets up Jake’s future career as a writer, and marvellously conveys his mixed feelings about being awarded a place at the prestigious Pennington school. His fear about leaving his father alone is relatable—and another important storyline is also set up as he promises to set his dad up with a certain freighter captain (Sisko’s reticence is hilarious).

    While the episode is primarily character driven, the actual plot, involving a solar sailing vessel, is a triumph and evokes a true sense of adventure and spirit of exploration. After thirty years of Trek stories that take the ability to warp across the galaxy for granted, here’s one that manages to make space travel seem fresh, interesting and even dangerous again. There’s not admittedly a whole lot to the plot, but there doesn’t need to be, for it works perfectly as it is. The climax, where Sisko and Jake inadvertently make it to Cardassian space, thereby validating the myth of the ancient Bajoran explorers, is one of the most uplifting, feel-good moments the series ever had. The swell of the music and the beautiful visual of space fireworks (something I never imagined we’d see—but, heck, why not?) make for a joyful conclusion, and it never quite fails to bring a smile to my face. That’s in spite of the cognitive dissonance of again seeing Dukat as Mr Nice Guy of the Universe!

    The Bashir sub-plot is reasonably fun because we can all relate to the apprehension of what amounts to a high school reunion. The plot, however, hinges on the unlikely notion that class valedictorian, Elizabeth Lens, didn’t even know who classmate Julian was, having mistaken him for an Andorian. Yes, Elizabeth, because “Julian Bashir” really sounds like an Andorian name! Plus, we learn that she’d been keeping up with Bashir’s career and his research on Bajor, so it’s highly doubtful she’d never have seen at least a picture of the supposed Andorian.

    But, you know what, I can forgive this easily, because it gives us one of my favourite scenes of the entire series (and maybe franchise)—namely, the interplay between a very drunk Bashir and O’Brien. I recall seeing Scotty particularly drunk in TOS (and Troi in First Contact), but, coming from 90’s Trek, it was quite astounding seeing two Starfleet officers so completely intoxicated! It’s not something we were used to seeing, and it felt oddly subversive for our “evolved” 24th century humans. Yet it’s utterly charming and hilarious, and shows not only how far their friendship has grown, but how DS9 feels perhaps the most human of all the Star Trek incarnations. In fact, the whole episode just feels remarkably human, good-spirited and comfortingly warm. Definitely one of the show’s underrated little gems. Rating: 9
     
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  19. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    “Explorers” was a treat to rewatch and I enjoyed the whole review. Much appreciate reading these.
    I guess the replica of an ancient Bajoran ship is supposed to remind us of missions like the Kon Tiki. A stretch to believe the solar- sails ship could withstand being hurled at warp speed by the tachyon particles. But, no need to overthink that. The subplot with Bashir’s rival doctor Elizabeth from med school was also fun if not totally believable. “Jerusalem” seemed an odd choice for the drinking song …I read that the other 2 songs the producers considered were “Rocket Man” and “Louie Louie” –!
    What a perfect father-son bonding trip for these two actors who have remained friends for life. A pleasant surprise to see the Cardassian welcome – I’d forgotten that Dukat could actually be nice on rare occasion-- and loved the fireworks at the end. Just a wonderful interlude all around.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2021
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  20. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Wonderful review! This episode is always a rewatch for me.

    This episode highlights one of the reasons why Sisko is my favorite captain. He was a great father. I never had one... closest to one I had was my grandfather. Watching Ben with Jake, I got to somewhat experience what that must be like vicariously. When I met Avery Brooks, I told him his relationship with his son was one of the reasons why not only he is my favorite captain, but why DS9 is my favorite show. I got the most beaming smile I've ever seen anyone give. I wish they allowed a camera in that area because I would love to have had that moment photographed. But that moment will always stay in my mind, and that's good enough for me.

    The Bashir subplot was a lot of fun. And the drinking scene is one of my favorites of the series, too.

    "People either love you or hate you. When we first met, I hated you. But now..."
    "Now?"
    "Now, I... I don't."

    This friendship is THE best representation of male friendship I have ever seen in the franchise. It mirrors so much some of my close friendships.

    Personally, I give this episode a 10.
     
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