My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There was never any evidence presented one way or another in the series.

    DS9 inhabits a world where godlike entities possessed a character's mother to ensure his birth, so I wouldn't put identical twins from different races off the table. :p
     
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  2. Discofan

    Discofan Admiral Admiral

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    Am I the only one to think that the wormhole aliens are assholes? Do you realize that they've taken over the body of a woman? forced her to sleep with a man she obviously didn't love and then let her go probably completely messed up and PTSD'ed by the whole experience? I wouldn't be surprised if it was the reason she died not much later.
     
  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Progress”

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    Major Kira Nerys: Not someone you want as a houseguest?!

    Now THIS is more like it. ‘Progress’ is a beautiful character piece for Kira and arguably the best episode of the series so far. The plot is a simple one: Kira must evacuate unwilling colonists on one of Bajor’s moons, but it will be far harder and more heart-wrenching than the otherwise gutsy Major could have imagined.

    There is no sci-fi element to the story; it’s a character study pure and simple, and beautifully written by Peter Allan Fields (it’s unfortunate that Fields only stayed with the series for the first couple of seasons, but he nevertheless wrote some of its finest episodes). Of course, even the best of scripts can fall flat if they aren’t well executed, and that’s certainly no problem here, for the performances are uniformly brilliant. If she hasn’t already, Nana Visitor establishes herself as one of the franchises’ finest and most engaging performers, and she is matched beat for beat by the marvellous Brian Keith. Keith brings Mullibok to life perfectly, balancing a stubborn irascibility with a real sympathy and charisma. The chemistry between Keith and Visitor just shines from the screen and really sells their bond, making the inevitably downbeat ending all the more heartbreaking.

    My favourite scene in the episode is, however, the confrontation between Sisko and Kira. Both the writing and the performances utterly nail it, and it becomes a pivotal moment in their unfolding relationship. Kira essentially finds herself on the side of the oppressor, and Visitor conveys her conflict and heartache perfectly. It truly is a wrencher. Had this been any other Trek, I suspect they’d have come up with some twist whereby Mullibok could stay on Jerrado and Kira and he would remain buddies. DS9 is a little more honest and realistic, alas. Life rarely works out that neatly and sometimes there is no compromise or easy solution. Sometimes you have to break someone’s heart in order to do what must be done. The ending cuts rather abruptly, and I do wonder what happened afterward and whether the two managed to maintain any kind of future friendship, but the episode is all the more powerful for its incisive fade to black.

    The sub-plot is lightweight and frothy, but it’s amiable and enjoyable in its own right. Again, Jake and Nog prove an entertaining duo, and there’s a fair bit of fun to be had watching their enterprising scheme unfold. And, of course, we are introduced to the mysterious, now-legendary “self-sealing stembolts” (I think I actually cheered when a recent episode of Discovery referenced them!). As with many things on Trek, you probably shouldn’t analyse it too much. This storyline made me realised how illogical it is to have traders on Trek dealing in things like yamok sauce and stembolts in a universe where replicators are everywhere! I mean, why would Quark order in cases of sauce when his food comes from replicators anyway? Same with the stembolts. Why not simply replicate them as and when needed? Why the need for traders at all in the future? As I said though, best not over-analysed. It’s fun.

    Such a beautiful and human episode. I can recall as a kid watching it, and my grandmother was in the room and she became drawn in by the story (and was disappointed by the ending!). Still holds up very well all these years later. Rating: 9
     
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  4. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    They’re a touch sociopathic to be sure!
     
  5. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My biggest issue with "Progress" was that I understood the issues but couldn't bring myself to sympathize with the characters who wanted to stay.

    It's not entirely dissimilar from problems I have with INS I suppose.
     
  6. Anduinel

    Anduinel Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    And I think you can have a good time with "Move Along Home" if you're in the right mindset. Roll with the absurdity, throw popcorn at the screen, sing along with the rhyme. Same as "Way To Eden" - camp does have some entertainment value, taken on its own terms. Mediocre episodes are just bleh.
     
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  7. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I felt that way in “The Ensigns of Command”—the colonists were largely obnoxious assholes, so I didn’t care whether Data managed to evacuate them or not. In fact, they kind of deserved to be ass-whipped by the Sheliak. To a lesser extent, I wasn’t wholly bothered by the plight in “Journey’s End” or “Insurrection” because I can’t recall any legitimately good reason why they couldn’t and shouldn’t leave (the “we were led here by our ancestors” schtick didn’t work for me!).

    However, in this case, we’re essentially dealing with holocaust survivors who found a place where they finally managed to find peace and happiness. So it was hard for me not to side with Mullibok over the Bajoran bureaucrat (not to say which was right and wrong). Taking he and his friends back to Bajor, where they’d endured such horror, would no doubt be very traumatic for them. So I was far more emotionally invested in this episode than the other examples mentioned.
     
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  8. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's fair, though to use an argument that's come up in INS, planets are really big, so it might be arguable that Mullibok et al. could have been taken to a place on Bajor that would have bore little resemblance to the place where they'd been traumatized.

    It would be interesting to do a comparison of the various Trek episodes of this ilk and how audience sympathies tend to break down and why. I freely admit that for me a utilitarian view tends to ultimately prevail: if X people relocating will save X+Y people, then they should consider doing it. I know a lot of people tend to argue that it's horrible to forcibly relocate people from their homes, but that doesn't tend to work well for me as a counter-argument, because space is also a big place, and Federation tech can perform near-miracles by our current standards, so if you want an exact replica of your current home, you can find something that's roughly the same (or better!) or you can live on a holodeck. That's simplifying the argument, but I think the point stands.
     
  9. Discofan

    Discofan Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, exactly. I didn't like this guy He was an ass. Maybe it's was done on purpose though to tell that Kira sees in him something that we can't but to me that doesn't matter. I still didn't like him and thought he was a complete imbecile.

    On the other hand, destroying an ecosystem when we know how delicate and rare these are and also unique, just to create a source of energy is to me beyond stupidity. It would be like breaking a Stradivarius to swat a mosquito. A crime against reason.
     
  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Wow, Im surprised by the reaction. I was under the impression that ‘Progress’ is a highly regarded episode. Opinions differ, but I don’t understand how anyone could call Mullibok an ‘asshole’ and ‘imbecile’. Irascible, yes, stubborn and stuck in his ways. That doesn’t make someone an imbecile, just human (or, OK, humanoid). He’s an old man, he’s lived through hell and he built his own little piece of paradise. I found it easy to empathise with his plight. Again, I thought Brian Keith was tremendously charming and sympathetic, even though the character was clearly rough around the edges and difficult. Interestingly, Peter Allan Fields wasn’t happy with Keith’s performance as he envisaged Mullibok as far more cantankerous and forbidding. As it is, something about him reminds me of my grandfather, I don’t know if it’s the way he carries himself or the way he relates stories, but he was one of the greatest people I ever knew.
     
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  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's been a long time since I've rewatched it, so my opinions aren't the most reliable. I believe a lot of people do consider "Progress" a good episode, though I'm not sure I'd go so far as "highly regarded". I didn't think Mullibok was especially an asshole or imbecile either, and I'm often amused by stubborn sarcastic types (they remind me of me, ha!), but like I said, whether it's Mullibok, the Baku or the Maquis, I think my key problem is that it's a relative handful of people causing problems for many more for causes that I don't really find sympathetic. This isn't a reflection on the quality of the episodes featuring them; in fact, having an episode where it's harder to land on one side or the other is a hallmark of some of Trek's finest outings.

    I'm glad he wasn't more cantankerous for sure though. I can see how he's sort of a grandfatherly type, though not in the vein of either of my grandfathers. :)

    There may be something more fundamental going on here with me: In terms of Argument theory in general, I don't trust appeals to emotion, and to my mind, that's primarily what Mullibok et al.'s reasons for wanting to stay fundamentally were. They didn't have to go back to Bajor specifically if they didn't want to, but what would have been wrong with going to a planet like the one they were on other than the fact that it wouldn't be the one they were on?
     
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  12. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Oh don’t get me wrong, Kira made the right decision. As the great Spock stated, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—or the one. What I loved about the episode is that it showed the human cost of that. Kira is now an administrator, and she here had to face the repercussions of simple decisions like that, and I loved the way she had to deal with the uncomfortable reality that she is now “on the other side”; she was now the establishment rather than the underdog. That was something Tahna Los said to her, but it’s only here that she has to really face that. For me, it was a wonderful turning point and moment of growth for the character.

    I agree, that decisions should be driven by reason rather than emotion. Human beings, however, are generally driven by emotion, which is often quite capable of overriding logic and reason. That’s how I interpreted the episode. Mullibok was reacting entirely emotionally, and it was selfish in many respects, but I can totally understand why he was doing it. Certainly, he would have found places just as peaceful and beautiful on Bajor. But in his mind, he associated Bajor with trauma and pain, and that was driving his decisions entirely. I’d like to think his return to Bajor helped resolve those demons. This is one character I wish they’d revisited at some point, even just as a sub-plot or mention.
     
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  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    ‘If Wishes Were Horses’

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    If wishes were oo-mox...

    Following an excellent episode that played to the show’s strengths, we’re back to generic Trek-by-numbers. This story had already been done twice before on Star Trek (TOS’s ‘Shore Leave’ and TNG’s ‘Where No One Has Gone Before’) and both were more effective than this. It’s not a bad episode really, because it’s rescued by a number of fun and amusing moments, but it is decidedly middle of the road stuff and, ironically, for an episode that’s supposedly a celebration of imagination, it’s really very...unimaginative.

    Had the writing been sharper, the various hallucinations could have revealed a lot about the respective characters, delving into their psychologies and uncovering hidden facets surely more interesting than, say, the fact that Sisko and Jake like baseball. The episode seems to want to create some kind of emotional bond between Sisko and the Buck Bokai alien, which doesn’t work. Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot more likely and interesting had they dreamed Jennifer back to life?

    While Kira’s violent and distressing hallucination is tellingly indicative of her traumatised psyche, much of the rest of rest are pretty superficial—Bashir dreams up a Dax who reciprocates his...ahem, interests, Quark parades around with a pair of semi-naked floozies, Odo finally gets to put Quark in jail and O’Brien dreams up a grotesque character from Molly’s bedtime story book because...well, I’m not really sure what significance that had (but I’m glad they ditched the decision to make it a leprechaun at Colm Meaney’s insistence).

    There’s certainly fun to be had, of course. The two Daxes are amusing together and you can’t help but cringe for the embarrassed Bashir (imagine having your sexual fantasies come to life for all to see!). The Odo/Quark interplay is delightful as always, and I loved the chaotic Promenade scenes, with a harassed Odo having to deal with everything from snowstorms to herding gargantuan emu birds.

    Unfortunately, the episode gets bogged down by a tedious sub-plot about a space anomaly threatening to destroy the station. The technobabble goes into overdrive and I kind of tuned out by that point, so I can’t really tell you too much about that other than it also turns out to be another hallucination. The twist that these manifestations are an alien species’ way of trying to understand new races might be very Star Trekky, but it’s also somewhat tired, underdeveloped and isn’t executed with nearly enough finesse or depth. Which pretty much sums up my feelings on the episode as a whole. Rating: 5
     
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  14. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Of course. They're gods.
     
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  15. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    ‘The Forsaken’

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    Is your face melting or are you just happy to see me?

    Unpopular opinion: I always rather liked Lwaxana Troi. Mind you, I’ve always had a fondness for exuberant people and larger than life eccentrics (although, having said that, as an introvert, I can only handle such folk in small doses!). I know she was deliberately construed as overbearing and annoying, but I often found Mrs. Troi a more human character than many of TNG’s unrelatably ‘perfect’ crew. I love the way she ruffled their feathers and found it particularly refreshing to have a rare depiction on television of an older woman who was vital, self-possessed, vibrant and unashamed of her sexuality. Her joie de vivre was refreshing at a time when the Trek universe could often feel a little staid and dull.

    So, I was quite pleased to see her appear on DS9, and certainly this is one of the more successful TNG/DS9 crossovers in these early seasons. It was something of a masterstroke pairing her with Odo, who was all kinds of repressed at this point in the series. This was one of the first times we got to see cracks in his tough guy veneer, and indications that he’s actually a vulnerable and sensitive soul, who deliberately keeps others at a distance. Of all the DS9 characters, Odo was the one that, for better or worse, I related most to when I was growing up.

    To begin with, the Odo/Lwaxana interaction recalls Lwaxana’s relentless pursuit of a flustered Jean-Luc, but as the story progresses, we get some quietly touching scenes in the turbolift as both their masks slip. Admittedly, the ‘trapped in an elevator’ trope is as OLD AS TIME, but it’s nicely done, and allows for some excellent interplay between the characters, with Rene Auberjonois and Majel Barrett exhibiting a charming, natural chemistry.

    The rest of the episode is a mixed bag. Bashir’s task of entertaining the irksome ambassadors is sporadically amusing, if insubstantial. You have to wonderful why these high-ranking diplomats exhibit so little...well, diplomacy. Maybe I’m reading to much into it, but this seems a conscious attempt to make Bashir more likeable and relatable. It’s fun seeing the devilishly sadistic way Sisko revels in Bashir’s discomfort. Ultimately, this storyline is lightweight and doesn’t go anywhere, other than a formulaic ‘Bashir saves the ambassadors so they end up liking him after all’.

    The technobabble computer sub-plot has the germ of a good idea, but isn’t at all engaging or successful in its execution. The problem with these tech plots, which were rife on TNG and VOY, is that they’re all ‘tell’ and no ‘show’. I mean, the only way we know about the ‘pup’ invading the computer is through reams of technobabble-laden dialogue delivered by O’Brien with great frustration. I suppose, you could say, we see the effects of it through fires and broken turbolifts, but it’s really difficult to get your teeth into such an abstract plot. Although this ‘pup’ is eventually integrated into the computer it is never mentioned again. Discovery has done a much more interesting job with the sphere data integrating into its computer systems—a storyline that has, thus far, continued to develop rather than being dropped after one episode. All in all, this plot is pretty dull.

    So, a mixed bag on the whole—there’s a fair bit to enjoy, primarily the Odo/Lwaxana scenes, but it’s hampered by an unremarkable and forgettable technobabble sub-plot. Rating: 6
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  16. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I want to say that "pup" was brought up again in one of the novels, but I don't even know whether I'm remembering that correctly.
     
  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not to mention they sat on their nigh-omnipotent asses for all 5 decades of the occupation. "We are of Bajor" indeed...

    https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Pup
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well that's amusing. I was right, but I haven't read any of those works. :p
     
  19. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I’m glad Pup got some follow up, it would have made a cool running thread on the series and elevated this episode in my view. I read a few DS9 novels back in the 90’s but haven’t since then. Maybe I will when I finish watching the series.
     
  20. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “Dramatis Personae”

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    I like clocks. Clocks are cool.

    This is another of those episodes which I tend to forget even exists. Like many of the first season instalments, I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it’s middle of the road fare. By this point, DS9 had suffered with a long run of mediocre episodes interspersed with the odd winner. Fortunately, the season would end with one of the strongest one-two punches of Trek’s entire history, ending its inaugural year on a triumphant note. But first, we have what feels like yet another discarded TNG plot.

    To be fair, this is a whole lot better than the season’s other alien possession story, ‘The Passenger’. For a start, the performances are infinitely better, not that such a thing would be difficult given how wretched that episode was. The cast have a lot of fun playing exaggerated and distorted versions of their characters. In particular, Avery Brooks is a delight as a far zanier Sisko, and Nana Visitor is obviously relishing the chance to play a Machiavellian and deviously flirtatious insurrectionist. Terry Farrell is also quite fun as she gets to play Dax as a legitimate ‘old man’, absent-minded, sleepy and completely lost in recollections of times past. At times it almost feels like we’re watching a dress rehearsal for the Mirror Universe episodes. Odo and Quark also make a winning combination, as always.

    Unfortunately, aside from the fun performances, the execution, particularly the directing and music, is pedestrian and mundane. I found my attention wandering and there’s never any real sense of urgency or menace. The alien possession trope is SO old that it all comes down to the way it’s executed, and frankly this is just too generic and dull. Fortunately, we’ve now made it through the worst of the season and things are uphill from here! Rating: 5
     
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