My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    I guess I'm not sure whether they tried to have him extradited, but they certainly didn't succeed.

    Iran did bring the case against the United States at the International Criminal Court. That court ruled that the United States had to pay damages for each person killed and for the aircraft.

    This isn't a unique incident. In 1983, a civilian 747 on Korean Air flight 007 from New York to Seoul via Achorage made a navigational error and strayed into Soviet restricted military airpace over Kamchatka, and was shot down by a Soviet fighter. The 747 was probably never aware the fighters were there. The fighter pilot knew it was a Boeing airliner, but figured the plane could have been converted for military use and followed his order to destroy it without reporting up the chain of command that it looked like an airliner. (This incident persuaded the United States to make GPS signals available worlwide, instead of restricting them to the US military.)
     
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  2. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I didn’t know about that Iranian incident, thanks for the info, KKT, that’s really interesting. The DS9 writers in particular were indeed often inspired by real life events or movies and sometimes it translated well and sometimes it didn’t. For me, I just can’t get beyond them taking it for granted that there wasn’t something immediately suspicious about a ship decloaking right bang in the middle of an actual battle. Like I said, space is eNORmous and in three dimensions. Red flags all over the place. Ideally, Worf would have been absolutely certain before firing, but the heat of battle calls for split second decisions.

    If the episode contained that nuance I must have missed it (and it would have been better for it). Generally in Trek, “Klingon” is portrayed as synonymous with “warrior” and they’re frequently called a “warrior race”. Even the few Klingon clerics we’ve seen seem to share the same warrior values, such as “honourrrrr” and a “good death”, etc. That’s part of the problem I have with Berman-era Klingons in particular; they’re extremely homogenised. So, I don’t see a distinction between Worf behaving “like a Klingon” and “behaving like a Klingon warrior” because all Klingons appear to share the very same values. Ch’Pok and the Klingons are basically full of shit in this episode because their scheming and treachery seems underhanded and unworthy of a supposedly honour-obsessed culture. As Picard once subtly insulted the Duras sisters, “you have manipulated this situation with all the skill of a Romulan.” I guess we can maybe put some of the weirdness here down to the influence of the Dominion.
     
  3. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Fair enough. I might have been more accustomed to the issues that were being played out. There are convoluted things about the trial at the center of the episode, but that is par for the course, IMO. There seems to be a number of issues that really strike at concepts of chivalry:
    • Are you an ordinary person or a knight? The lawyer establishes early on that they should be looking at whether Worf was acting as a member of Starfleet or a Klingon Warrior. Worf stipulates to the latter.
    • Do you limit attacks to those worthy of fighting? Do you attack women, children, the unarmed? These are common in codes of chivalry (if not always in evidence from the chivalrous). The lawyer gets Dax to admit that Worf entertains the notion when outside of combat--weak, but still a kind of evidence. More importantly, the lawyer gets Worf to attack him--he would attack an unarmed man.
    • Do you fight with noble purpose to defend society or do you lash out randomly or selfishly? This was much less explicit in the legal codes, but was strongly present in the culture of chivalry. Quark's testimony showed that Worf was looking for a fight.
    Codes of chivalry--European, Japanese, wherever--tend to be stronger at binding the chivalrous together, but they have been less effective at protecting people who do not belong. Power dynamics allowed noblemen to abuse commoners and follow corrupt practices. The fact they might scheme would not have surprised me.

    Had the setup of the trial been stronger, I think that the nature of the conflict would have been more obvious. Worf's ability to embody both Starfleet ethics and Klingon virtues has been portrayed more or less as a qualified success. However, Worf's tenure on DS9, from The Way of the Warrior (which in Japanese is Bushido) to the end of the series, doing both would get him into trouble. From this overall perspective, Rules of Engagement is helping to build the sense of the character's inner conflict, if not building his character. I would argue by the end of the series Worf favors one side of his inner conflict, even if he avoids making a hard choice about who he is.
     
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  4. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Last edited: May 4, 2021
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  5. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    While I like the review and how well thought out it is, as usual, I actually really disagree with it.

    I thought this was a very strong episode, particularly the directing choices of LeVar Burton.

    It was also another important bit of growth for Worf as a command officer. While he is learning well, he still has some big steps to go.

    I actually think the extradition hearing makes sense. The Federation and Klingons may be cold enemies at the moment, but they were allies for a long time, and the Federation wants to keep the possibility of a return to that state open. This hearing would be a step toward that thinking.

    This episode also, in a subtle way, brings back the type of Klingon we were used to seeing in TOS... the planning, conniving, methodical Klingon. It's no surprise considering Ronald D. Moore did the teleplay and he's a big TOS fan. It was refreshing to see a different type of 24th century Klingon, even though we didn't actually technically meet him.

    I do agree with you about the Vulcan admiral, though I think the fault is with the casting. It's one of the very few times that department for DS9 dropped the ball.

    I honestly have always hated courtroom dramas in general, but this franchise tends to do them very well. "COURT MARTIAL", "The Measure Of A Man", "The Drumhead", "DEATH WISH", and this one are all really good to excellent episodes.

    And while I would rate this lower than most of the season, it's actually still high praise because season 4 is as close to perfect as the franchise ever got. I give this one a 7.5 to an 8.
     
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  6. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ????????????

    Wow. I love this episode.
     
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  7. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yeah, sorry, misstated that - Curzon Dax had been a strong afficionado of Klingon culture, good friends with 3 Klingon warriors, godfather to Kang’s child-- and Jadzia herself knew Klingon martial arts, language-- but that was it.
     
  8. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “HARD TIME”

    [​IMG]
    And you thought you had wild lockdown hair.

    Faith immediately restored! “Hard Time” is not only the best of our annual “O’Brien Goes Through Hell” tradition, but is one of the finest and most powerful psychological dramas ever done by Trek. Colour me impressed.

    One of TNG's greatest episodes was “The Inner Light”, which was co-written by the brilliant Peter Allan Fields, who would go on to become a staff writer for the first couple of seasons of DS9 (and who wrote virtually all the best episodes from those tricky inaugural years) and also guest starred Margot Rose in two very different roles. It was an inspired premise: what would happen if someone transferred the memories of another life into your mind, enabling you to live a whole other life in just moments? Whereas “The Inner Light” depicted this as being an enriching and uplifting, if bittersweet, experience for Captain Picard, enabling him to have a life and family he’d never otherwise have had, it skimped on the inevitable trauma--and, frankly, violation--aspect of the incident. While it would be referenced once or twice again in the form of Picard’s Ressikan flute, the strictly episodic nature of the series meant we never got to see the real aftermath of the affair, and by the very next week Picard was back to his old self.

    To be fair, it’s frustrating that the events of “Hard Time” were never referenced again in DS9, but the fact of the matter is the episode itself focuses on the aftermath of O’Brien’s altogether more nightmarish memory insertion. It’s quite rare now for DS9 to present such a hard sci-fi premise as this, and it’s beautifully executed on every level. We don’t see much of Argratha, which is probably just as well, because the Argrathi have to be among the most heinous races we’ve ever encountered on Star Trek. We never really learn much about O’Brien’s supposed “crime”, but it’s clear that any trial must have been conducted in a flash and the punishment implemented before Starfleet could intervene.

    The idea of a prison sentence being implemented by the insertion of false memories is a fascinating one. It almost makes sense in a utilitarian way, because the Argrathi wouldn’t need to spend any money and resources on prisons. However, two big problems emerge. Clearly, they’re far too eager to inflict these punishments, because it’s clear that O’Brien committed no crime at all, unless it was simply a crime of innocently and unknowingly breaking a local law. Secondly, these “digital” prison sentences are utterly cruel and evidently seem to be designed to completely break the mind and spirit of the recipient. Basically, O’Brien experienced two decades of torture and the resultant trauma was almost enough for him to take his own life.

    We’ve seen our main Trek characters suffer all kinds of hardships and pain over the decades, but this was, to my recollection, the first time we’ve ever seen any of them so distressed and defeated that they're about to take their own life. It’s horrifying to watch and it makes you wonder how the Argrathi can get away with deliberately destroying their citizens like that. If they all end up like O’Brien, how on Earth can they ever successfully be rehabilitated back into society? Is the punishment perhaps designed to make them take their own lives, thus making a death penalty seem self-chosen? Or maybe the Argrathi are a lot more psychologically resilient than humans?

    Either way, this episode explores the aftermath and it makes for very painful viewing. Robert Wolfe’s script is beautifully constructed and sensitively written. It’s utterly intriguing from the very start with a fantastic hook, and kept me guessing throughout (I initially wondered if O’Brien was still in prison and the scenes of his return to the station were false; ie., another in-the-character’s-head type of episode). O’Brien’s return to the station and his old life was perfectly handled, and this remains one of the best explorations of PTSD I’ve ever seen on television. It’s impossible not to get pulled into Miles’ gut-wrenching plight, and all the emotional beats felt genuine and real. It helps that this is Colm Meaney, and he gives a complete tour de force performance; probably the best in all his ten plus years on Star Trek. He just sells the heck out of this and really creates such a strong empathy for what the character is going through; truly capturing the gamut of emotion from shock, confusion and uneasiness to frustration, anger, guilt and crippling desperation. All the characters respond with tremendous empathy, but eventually Miles’ difficult, avoidant behaviour causes them to have to confront him and hold him accountable for his less than healthy coping strategies.

    It culminates in a beautiful scene between Miles and Julian which is the very heart of the episode; one in which Julian assures him that he hasn’t lost his humanity; that it’s the one thing they could never take from him. Both Meaney and Alexander Siddig are superb and the nicely uneasy, claustrophobic directing, which includes a lot of close-up shots of O’Brien throughout the episode, and the music, both work superbly.

    The character of Eechar is a masterstroke and one of the episode’s strongest elements. Craig Wasson gives a wonderfully low-key yet warm, likeable, enigmatic performance and it really adds a lot to the episode’s success. It’s not entirely clear to me, but if we’re to assume that Eechar’s death was deliberately programmed into the simulation then this highlights just how utterly cruel the Argrathi are. They orchestrate a bond between O’Brien and Eechar only for O’Brien to inadvertently kill him. There’s punishment...and then there’s utterly destroying someone’s soul.

    Pretty much everything about this episode is perfect; the high-concept story, the brilliantly written script, the superb performances and effective directing. If there’s one downside to the episode it’s simply SO effective that I find it an uncomfortable, painful episode to watch. It’s about as dark and bleak an episode of Star Trek ever written, but, given the subject matter, that was only natural (at least they didn’t feel the need to inject a tonally inappropriate “comedy” sub-plot as they did with Jake and Nog in “Life Support”!).

    If I have one minor issue with the episode it’s the role of Keiko. While she gets to show great concern and empathy for her husband’s suffering, she gets side-lined very quickly. By this point in the show’s run, it’s clear that Keiko is now written as less of a character and more of a function: ie., O’Brien’s wife. I don’t know whether this was a case of the writers being disinterested in the character or not enough confidence in Rosalind Chao’s ability, but her relegation to the background was marked and is quite sad. I’d really liked to have seen more interaction between the two and more agency on Keiko’s part; making her a key part of her husband’s recovery. But, I guess the writers simply had more invested in the Bashir/O’Brien relationship, which is admittedly a joy to watch.

    Overall, this is is a superb episode and an excellent piece of television full stop. Rating: 10
     
  9. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Very discerning review, as always -I agree this is one of the bleakest episodes, couldn’t bring myself to rewatch it - O’Brien wrongfully accused of espionage, mentally tortured, PTSD, suicidal. Why so many ‘O’Brien must suffer’ stories-- because he’s not as ‘alien’ as the other major characters? Colm Meaney is such a good actor, with a cherubic face, so he has to be the whipping boy?
    It is sort of the negative version of "Inner Light," as you mention. Also reminds me of “Ex Post Facto” (VOY) where Tom Paris is forced to relive the murder of Tolen Ren every 14 hours.
     
  10. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent review. I found myself starting to create a single man tear from reading this review because I kept thinking of the final scene when Molly hugs him and says, "Daddy's home." (My wife caught me holding back a single man tear on that very scene when we watched this episode.)

    The only thing I can add to your review is a comment about the Argrathri. If memory serves me, the implanted memories are tailored to each person, which means it will be the most effective. What Miles went through would be completely different than another person for this reason. It takes the phrase 'we create our own hell' quite literally in this case.

    This was also another look at just how technologically superior the Gamma Quadrant races are. Though briefly, it was nice to see a different species from there.

    On the surface, I can see them as being among the most heinous races we've encountered. But we don't really know much about them. It certainly appears like they have a super quick trial system, probably even faster than the one on Cardassia. It may be that only certain crimes are really frowned upon, like espionage.

    I can also see this system of correction having a lot of merit. There was an episode of THE OUTER LIMITS called "THE SENTENCE" that had David Hyde Pierce as someone who develops a system of mental incarceration very similar in execution to here. (I'm pretty sure this episode aired first. THE OUTER LIMITS one aired in late 1996, I think.) That episode did show it could be quite inhumane, as it does here... this episode is much better, though. However, is it really any more inhumane than what a lot of prisoners go through now? An even bigger problem now is that inmates, when released, end up being worse criminals, very likely due to what they learn in prison. With this kind of mental imprisonment, I think rehabilitation of criminal behavior is much more likely. It's just we saw an innocent man go through it, which makes it inhumane.

    I actually once messaged Robert Hewitt Wolfe years ago on another forum, telling him how impressed I was with this episode and how it was one of the best of the franchise. He was unexpectedly happy, as he apparently didn't get a lot of comments about this one. At least, at the time.

    I'm with you on this one... a 10. No question. DS9 home run, again.
     
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  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was writing while Farscape was, so apologies for any redundancy!

    Regarding the severity of O'Brien's sentence, I assume that's in part because of the severity of the crime: espionage. It does seem draconian that the Agrathi tried and convicted him without giving Starfleet a chance to send any representation, but in their defense, we don't get any insight into their justice system or civilization and what might have led to their justice system evolving into its current state. It equally seems draconian that O'Brien got into this situation apparently just because he asked some questions, but maybe there's civil unrest going on (can't imagine why...) that we're not given any insight into. Perhaps I'm just overly-reluctant to judge a civilization we're given minimal insight into, though it does seem kind of terrible that their sentencing is irreversible. Then again, at least it's also virtual...people can go on with their lives (as best as they can) afterward, versus losing literally years of their life in actual confinement.

    I'd like to believe that the death of Ee'char was not scripted. I don't want to believe the Agrathi are intentionally cruel in their sentencing, and I think it reduces the tragedy of the episode if O'Brien had no agency with regard to that element.
     
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  12. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @ananta, great review. Glad you loved this one. There is but one thing in the episode that annoys me: O'Brien's pronunciation of "murder." I know the script supervisors did as much as possible to keep American pronunciation while keeping the actors' accents (Sirtis excluded), so I don't know why they didn't redo this word. In context, it sticks out,sounding very Popeye-like.

    I accept the conceit of this episode as a premise because it is far less important than the mood and the exploration of morals and memories. It is a means of exploring how much thoughts can be seen as a reflection one's character as well as humanity in general in a means that is relatively free of consequences.

    That said, I believe that the program is a mental simulation in which O'Brien has agency. The place he experiences are of confinement, and he is given a sense of material deprivation. He is also given a companion. O'Brien says he murdered Eechar. I take it on faith that he is referring to his decisions, not something that was programmed in. Looking back at the episode, I would say that it would be easier to manipulate one's sensations to make them believe they were starving in a prison than to download a story about prison into his brain. Eechar was probably not intended to be a target, but a companion to moderate O'Brien's mental state. If anything would have made the premise more realistic, O'Brien should have been imprisoned in an existing memory (he obviously has experiences of Cardassian prisons).
     
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  13. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that Wolfe talked about this story on a recent podcast. I can't remember the details, but the story took a long time to get to film. The proposal was written by a couple, but they became impossible to track down. Wolfe found the man during the third season, who had moved to New York and had broken up with his partner. When he finally tracked the woman down, she wanted nothing to do with the story, so it fell to Wolfe to write.
     
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  14. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    @ananta: Great review and great episode, well-acted. However, I don't see how the virtual imprisonment system can work for long, sooner or later the cat will be out of the bag, and rather sooner than later on a planet where you can be jailed for not sneezing the right way! So what will people do once they know they are in a simulation? Wouldn't the program fail?

    I think that's a recurrent problem with Star Trek, situations that only look plausible if you don't give them too much thought. I preferred this one to the "Inner Light" which was a little bit too mawkish for my taste. Plus a planet where everyone is peaceful and loving even in a time of severe scarcity!!! Please!!!
     
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  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's more plausible than you probably realize. All the current neuroscientific research is pointing to the fact that most of our perceptions come from mental models and memories rather than direct sensory input. When you walk into a room you have been in before, your mind pulls up an image of the room and checks its accuracy. If the image is good enough (if the reality matches or the changes that have happened are minor), you will work with that mental model. Our minds are more predictive than reactive, allowing it to do things faster than if conscious cognitive strain were required. Never mind the arrogance of thinking that one can think one's way out of PTSD or other mental trauma: it's likely that memory can be manipulated, if not implanted, to convince people that they are inhabiting a particular reality, not unlike what the Talosians did to Pike. Add some dopamine for positive reinforcement, it's probably difficult to achieve a more "lucid" reality.
     
  16. FanST

    FanST Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Another gem of an episode by DS9. After The Visitor, I found Hard Time to be the second most emotional episode of the entire series. That scene where Miles takes out a phaser and points it at himself ... gets me every time.

    Great reviews as always! Thank you for taking the time and effort.
     
  17. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Fleet Captain Red Shirt

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    That doesn't address the fact that someone who would know in advance that it's a simulation would likely refuse to cooperate. And sorry but I don't think this is the least plausible. I've been aware a few times during my dreams, it's really not difficult to achieve. I got the idea from Feymann's memoirs about a decade and a half before Chakotay's ridiculous approximation. The thing is that after a time you get sick of it and you normally stop. Anyway, the world in a dream doesn't feel at all like in reality, for one thing, it's constantly changing. You can't keep a stable shape in focus and it's much less detailed... The idea that you could be fooled by a lucid dream kinda state for more than a few minutes, is ridiculous. And the only reason you are fooled for these few minutes is that your conscience is in a dormant state otherwise you'd realize it instantly just like you'll never confuse a cartoon and a people movie.
     
  18. dupersuper

    dupersuper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Whether guilty or innocent, being tossed in a hole and nearly starved to death is inhumane, and doesn't seem interested in rehabilitation.

    I don't see why you think they'd have the option not to cooperate. I to have been aware in dreams a few times, which means I've been unaware in dreams many many many times, and that was without a high tech doo-dad on my head to keep me in a dream state.
     
  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I guess there is the question of whether you can "die" while imprisoned in this manner.
     
  20. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Again, the simulation is tailor made to each offender. Or more to the point, the brain itself guides the prison sentence that is created. The program makes parameters, but it builds everything from the brain.

    That means O'Brien did it to himself. (I know saying that sentence will likely get a lot of heat thrown my way.) Hus unconscious mind probably added bad things to some of his own events tjst happened to him... or perhaps even stories he heard in his life. Bajorans, for example. We know for a fact the Cardassians were brutal, and leaving many to starve while jailed would be child's play compared to other stuff they do.

    And what I meant by rehabilitation is making sure a criminal does NOT do tue crime again. Someone going through a punishment bad enough would likely keep them from doing the crime again.