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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    “APOCALYPSE RISING”

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    That “bad day at the office” feeling...

    So begins the fifth season! If anyone asks my favourite season of DS9, I automatically tend to answer “season five”. The show had already become my favourite Star Trek series (tied with TOS) and had boasted a superb fourth season, but it was here that the storytelling really stepped up a notch and the Dominion war arc kicked into high gear, becoming one of the greatest story arcs in the entire franchise—and, I’d say, the entire genre.

    Despite a fantastic title, “Apocalypse Rising” is, however, a modest opening chapter and perhaps the weakest of DS9’s season premieres. It’s actually a wholly decent episode in itself, it simply lacks the explosive excitement and freshness of the previous season openers. It certainly doesn’t open the season with a bang, although it’s not quite a whimper either; I’d say it’s more of an understated click. I wasn’t enormously excited by the fourth season cliffhanger because, to me, it ought to have seemed obvious to anyone in their right mind that the Klingon leadership had been compromised by Changelings, particularly given the Founders’ admission a year previously that they were “everywhere”.

    Yet “Apocalypse Rising” serves a fairly important purpose: specifically, winding down the Klingon war arc which even the producers weren’t terribly excited by. Ira Behr admitted that he didn’t want the Klingons as adversaries; he wanted to get right back to the Dominion. With Paramount’s attention now largely focused upon Voyager, DS9 had greater leeway to be embrace its role as the rebellious, under-loved middle child and the writers subtly shifted back to the story they wanted to tell. So, this episode serves as a kind of mop-up; moving the focus of villainy back to the Dominion and setting the course for a return to peace with the Klingons.

    Part of me finds the whole exercise a little perfunctory, and there are certainly some flaws, but it’s generally entertaining and well executed, even if Klingon fatigue has really gotten to me by this point. Watching this episode I found myself pining for the Klingons of TOS and the original movies, who at least displayed a modicum of intelligence, cunning and even the ability to quote Shakespeare! The Klingons we see here exhibit the very worst excesses of Berman-era Klingondom. How these complete MORONS established and maintain an interstellar empire is completely and utterly beyond me. We’re really in parody territory by now.

    One of my complaints about the episode is a complaint I had with TNG’s “Chain of Command” and basically any other episode where our heroes are sent on important undercover missions. I simply don’t buy it because they’re not trained for this, and presumably Starfleet has no shortage of highly trained undercover operatives whose speciality is subterfuge and working undercover. The fact Odo and O’Brien are so inept as Klingons (with Odo actually amid a psychological breakdown) simply highlights how risky it is assigning them to such a delicate, vital mission. As for sending Worf without any surgical alteration whatsoever, when he ought to be recognisable to just about any Klingon (given his reputation), I have no idea what they were thinking. It seems Terry Farrell couldn’t wear the prosthetics because, being familiar with Klingon culture, Jadzia would have been a sensible choice as opposed to O’Brien and Odo, the latter of whom really ought to be in counselling rather than undercover missions. Interestingly, the makeup doesn’t look that great on either of them. Odo looks unrecognisable beneath the prosthetics, while O’Brien unfortunately looks like the village idiot.

    Sisko, however, was born to be a Klingon! Avery Brooks more than looks the part and he plays it with relish as well. Who can forget the classic “Brag all you want, but DON’T GET BETWEEN ME AND THE BLOOD WIIIINE!!” Perhaps my favourite scene involves Worf’s attempts to “Klingon-ise” his colleagues (“I called you a DUNG BEETLE! What is your response?” “That you should have your eyes examined.”). The return of Dukat enlivened the episode some more, and while the scenes of Ty’Gokor involved a fair bit of eye rolling for me, I liked the way the mission was set up and James Conway’s directing was typically impressive, and really created a nice sense of tension and atmosphere.

    The twist that Martok is actually the Changeling kept things from being too straightforward and predictable, although he surely has to be the dumbest Changeling we have ever encountered. After Odo accuses him of being a Changeling in front of the entire hall, the Martok-Changeling ought to have denied the claim and shifted the blame to Odo or someone else, but instead he immediately breaks his cover by shape-shifting in full view of everyone. Not a smart move, pal—he really brought the subsequent carnage on himself. Seeing pretty much every Klingon in the hall open fire simultaneously was a darkly awesome moment.

    This episode does out what it sets to do, even if I had some issues with the underlying logic. It’s certainly no classic but it is entertaining and serves the important function of winding down the Klingon storyline and getting the show’s narrative back to its previous trajectory. While a modest start to the season, great things are coming. Rating: 7
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  2. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Season 1 TOS is definitely an excellent season, and another one to call a standard.

    Plus it has the benefit of being the season that started it all. That earns it extra points.
     
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  3. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    The Krajensky-Changeling must have had some plan for rescuing Odo at the last minute. Teach Odo to become a spaceship, or turn into a spaceship enclosing Odo.
     
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  4. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Another great review -- pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of the story - and the way each episode fits into the larger picture. The title seemed a bit exaggerated, more like for the final season.

    I liked the little in-joke where Kira blames Bashir for her pregnancy - ! Ira Steven Behr stated, "We did that on purpose. We thought it would be nice to acknowledge the relationship."

    Colm Meaney really hated being a Klingon - “All I remember from that show was the makeup. It gave me new respect for Michael. I had to do it for six days, and I almost went insane.“ Sisko did look the best of them!
     
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  5. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Red Shirt

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    In View of what Laas can do, it's obvious that the Outerspace Void is not deleterious to changelings, so the changeling could have turned into a spaceship and taken Odo in tow.

    Changelings can probably also hitchhike by mimicking part of the hull. They can go to Earth and then land there without attracting attention.
     
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  6. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Red Shirt

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    @ananta: Another great review! I'd like to add that the changeling was weirdly inconsistent. He must have fooled the Klingon into thinking that he was Martok for more than a year, yet he has no idea what Klingon honor means!!! I mean Klingons talk about honor every five minutes, most of their actions are dictated by it!! But the changeling had no idea what it means. That was a really STUPID plot point!!!! As you said in that episode the Martok changeling was an idiot through and through but to have fooled everyone, including "his" wife, "his" son, Gowron for ONE year, he had to be a genius!!!

    What's wrong with this picture?
     
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  7. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Great review.

    I find myself agreeing with much of what you said, despite my enjoying this episode more than the review suggests.

    I should point out, though, that Worf's Klingon appearance was altered for this episode. So he was in disguise like the others.

    There is some logic to Sisko being assigned this mission. He is the officer with the most Dominion experience. I do agree that having Dax instead of O'Brien would have been a better choice, but I stand by Sisko's choice of Odo. He was the one who outed the Changeling, after all. Even Worf missed the honor clue.

    Love the title of the episode. And seeing Sisko as a Klingon was worth the entire episode.
     
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  8. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Duras didn't seem to have problems being dishonorable.
    How much support did Duras maintain? Klingons could tolerate a great deal of dishonor, reflecting how hypocritical chivalric codes could be.
     
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  9. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Duras was a douche. He got exactly what he deserved.

    (Both by Worf and his ancestor by Archer.)
     
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  10. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Red Shirt

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    Plus the Duras Sisters who got blown to bits by Riker (he was in command at that time).
     
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  11. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “THE SHIP”

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    I don’t know what’s stranger about this episode: seeing Vorta cleavage...

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    ...or Jem’Hadar cleavage.

    Believe it or not, “The Ship” is DS9’s 100th episode and, despite the uninspiring title, it’s a strong one, too. The plot is fairly straightforward, but it’s brilliantly executed, thanks in large part to Kim Friedman’s superlative directing, which succeeds in building an appropriately tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. I know “Starship Down” from the fourth season was a popular episode with many people, but I always felt it lacked the necessary tension and sense of danger and dread; something “The Ship” manages to do in spades. The stakes feel real and, no matter what happens, the price of victory will be tainted by the crew’s mounting losses.

    I do have a couple of issues with the plot, which I’ll get out of the way first. I have no idea what most of the senior command crew are doing in the Gamma Quadrant surveying planets for mineral deposits. First of all, don’t these guys have regular duties on the station? This certainly isn’t part of their remit. Why doesn’t Starfleet assign a science vessel, or, better yet, NOT go into the Gamma Quadrant looking to mine planets?! Given the state of affairs with the Dominion that is surely just asking for trouble. I realised watching this episode that Starfleet is actually responsible for a fair bit of provocation; not least by their continued trips to the Gamma Quadrant; something I would have thought should only be warranted by necessity.

    Anyway, after our crew chance upon a crashed Jem’Hadar warship, Sisko decides to claim it as salvage, which I guess is all good and well, until the Dominion show up and obviously want it back. I have to say, Sisko is really on shaky ground here. Why would he expect the Dominion to recognise and honour Federation “salvage laws”? Isn’t that taking the piss a little bit? They’re in—or, at the very least, on the cusp of—Dominion territory and the ship is Dominion property. Would Starfleet really venture into Romulan territory and attempt to steal (because, yeah, that’s pretty much what they’re doing!) a Romulan ship? Isn’t that dangerously close to...well, an act of war?

    Of course, Sisko is certainly correct in not accepting Kilana’s offer to accompany them back to Dominion territory—not least because “The Search” demonstrated how easily the Founders can hook them into a “Matrix” reality and possibly keep them prisoner forevermore without them even realising it. I don’t really see what option they had other than to retreat to the ship, resist, and hope the Defiant could make it in time. But I have a hard time accepting Sisko’s eventual lament that everything would have been fine if both sides had just trusted one another. Actually, everything would have been fine if Sisko hadn’t tried to steal something that didn’t belong to him. You have to wonder if some of the tensions that arise between the crew are because they have some doubts as to whether this is a battle they should even be fighting. What I love, however, is that we get a follow-up to this episode in the next season and Sisko’s bold and arguably questionable choices do, in fact, pay off.

    It’s surprisingly unnerving seeing our crew crumble under pressure and begin turning on each other. That’s something that would have been practically inconceivable on TNG, which I guess explains why I alway tended to find those characters a little stilted and unrelatable. The concept of “evolved humanity” is one I very much like, but it’s not so great when it comes to television drama. Fortunately, the drama here works fairly well. Worf is simply being Worf and has always had a blunt streak, while O’Brien is clearly devastated at having to witness the slow and agonising death of his protege, Muniz, with whom he almost has a brotherly or even fatherly relationship. It helps that we’ve seen Muniz before and although his sudden prominence in the episode feels a tad forced at the start, it’s nevertheless painful to see him slipping away.

    This is an episode that goes to pains to make us care about ALL the characters, even the “red-shirts”; those poor background extras who rarely get names and exist largely as cannon fodder. Some people may have felt that Sisko’s lament at the end seemed forced, because, frankly, we’re never normally expected to care about the deaths of expendable background characters. But this is how it should be. I don’t expect every episode to have extended focus on the deaths of background characters, but we should NEVER have the sense that nobody cares—because, ensigns or not, these are people, too; people with families and loved ones and whose lives matter. Sisko SHOULD be choked up by the end of the episode, and it works beautifully because it ends up feeling like a really authentic, really HUMAN piece of drama; something Trek doesn’t always manage in spite of its abstract idealism.

    The performances are good all round, with Avery Brooks holding the episode together beautifully. I wasn’t entirely sure about Kaitlin Hopkin’s performance as the fickle Vorta Kilana until her final scene, where she was really rather good. Heck, this is the second episode in a row we see the death of a Founder and this time, in spite of their despicable actions in general, I almost felt sorry for the thing, which started lashing out at Sisko and Dax like a wounded animal before collapsing into a puddle of goo and turning to ash. It’s an appropriate somber final act, for sure. It underscores the tragedy of war that comes by failing to reach a common ground and negotiate, working through problems without the need for bloodshed. Granted, that’s not always possible, but it may have been possible here.

    Again, Kim Friedman’s directing is first class and so are the production values and set design; from the stunning sight of a ship crashed in the desert landscape, to the novelty of being aboard a dimly lit upside down Jem’Hadar ship. The closing scene with Worf making amends to O’Brien by “keeping watch” over Muniz’s casket is quietly touching. Definitely a strong episode; one that managed to really pull me in and not only keep me hooked throughout, but also made me care about both the stakes and the cost of “collateral damage”. Rating: 9
     
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  12. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    I didn’t think he was apart from his hair not being in a ponytail. I looked it up and saw that he shaved his goatee beard, but apart from that he looked the same. He surely would have been easily recognised by Martok, Gowron and any number of Klingons given his status as public enemy number one.
     
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  13. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent review!

    "THE SHIP" is slways a rewatch for me. Definitely a first rate episode.

    You pretty much nailed all the points, from Kim Friedman's directing (She tends to be a kinetic director, if that makes sense. "CATHEXIS" was a great episode, in my opinion, partly because of the directing... though many seem to hate that episode.) to collateral damage.

    That last Sisko scene is sonething that was very rarely done, but needed to be done. And it was perfect.

    Worf at the end... just beautiful. It said many things without saying much.

    Valid points about Starfleet and Sisko here. Can't really argue it because it does seem like poking the bear. One wonders if that was the point...

    I personally give this a 10. Excellent episode to have as the 100th.

    (By the way, the pictures you did were hilarious.)
     
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  14. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Thoughtful review - I agree, a strong episode but with the reservations described.

    The tension, claustrophobia, and heat really came across--I read that filming took place in the desert, it was well over 100 degrees and one of the Jem’Hadar actors passed out on camera.

    What stands out for me in this episode, a paradox in the series as a whole, is that while DS9 becomes increasingly a show about war with the Dominion, it simultaneously avoids glorifying war. The combat trauma becomes personal - we watch Muniz suffer, hallucinate and succumb, after gallant attempts at humor with his crewmates up to the end. We see O’Brien and Worf keep watch over his coffin. We hear Sisko remember, regret the loss of each of the 5 individuals….quite a shift from the anonymous red shirts that were casually dispatched on TOS.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
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  15. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “LOOKING FOR PAR’MACH IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES”

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    “Listen, Ferengi, don’t need love advice...you need FASHION advice.”

    The first of three sex comedies this season’s (the others being “Let He Who is Without Sin...” and “Ferengi Love Songs”) this is by far the most successful, even if that’s not saying a lot. “Looking For Par’Mach...”, which incidentally has one of the greatest titles of any Trek episode, isn’t an episode that immediately springs to mind when considering my top episodes of DS9, but it’s an enjoyable romp and it comes as a nice reprieve following the dark and angsty episodes that began the season (and, indeed, the episode that would succeed it).

    Yup, while the tone of DS9 has already shifted to uncompromising themes of war—and that’s long before the Dominion war even begins—this is a gentle reminder that DS9 is also, of all the Treks, happens to be the best at comedy. The plot is slight, to say the least, and there weren’t that many laugh out loud moments for me, at least not until the inspired climax, which sees Worf literally fighting Quark’s battles for him (in a twist that Futurama liberally borrowed in one episode). But it’s amiable and entertaining hour and one that successfully sets up the first ongoing romance between two primary Trek characters—something that felt strangely revolutionary at the time.

    I don’t actually have a huge amount to say about “Par’mach”; it’s ably written by Ron Moore and the light touch comes as a nice palate cleanser following the grim tone of the previous episode. All the characters get a chance to shine, and the Cyrano de Bergerac-inspired plot in which Worf agrees to help Quark woo Grilka is a fun one. It’s actually quite sad seeing Worf trying to be all Alpha-Klingon, strutting around Quark’s like an aggressive, Morn-bashing peacock as he tries to seduce Grilka, only to be bluntly rejected by her advisor. While Worf has admitted before that he isn’t a “Klingon-Klingon”, on occasion he’s still very much compelled to try to act like one. His decision to help Quark clearly isn’t for Quark’s sake, but to prove to himself that he’s got what it takes to win over a Klingon woman—while oblivious to the fact that Jadzia is on the sidelines hitting on him big style. (Nit-pick: I didn’t like how casually Quark could stroll in and out the Defiant—I thought you needed high security clearance to be allowed on board the warship?)

    It’s a treat to see Mary Kay Adams reprise her role as Grilka, although she doesn’t actually get very much to do here. For an episode that seemingly revolves around her, she’s pretty much just window dressing. As before, she has great chemistry with Armin Shimmerman, who is a delight throughout—particularly during the tech-assisted fight scenes, in which he displays an impressive aptitude for physical comedy (you really believe someone else is controlling his body!). Those scenes are definitely a high point of the episode, as is Worf’s eventual realisation that he’s been overlooking something that’s been obvious to the rest of us for an entire season: namely, his chemistry with Jadzia. It’s kind of bittersweet seeing the two get together here, knowing that it’s actually the beginning of the end for Jadzia and that everything will end in tragedy down the line.

    Pretty much everyone is horny on DS9 this week and Kira and Miles are no different. I’m glad we get at least some exploration of the rather awkward dynamics between the O’Briens and Nerys, and I guess it stands to reason that Miles might develop feelings for Kira given their newfound intimacy. Plus, let’s face it, she’s hawt. O’Brien rather less so, but both actors sell the forbidden attraction without OVERSELLING it, which is a plus. Less is definitely more when it comes to this plot. It’s not a development I ever thought I wanted to see on the show, but such is the nature of human feelings: they can be inconvenient, confusing and downright embarrassing. I’m really glad the writers decided not to send Keiko on the warpath, which would have totally spiralled into unpleasant melodrama. What we got is subtle but I think it works, much like the episode as a whole. Rating: 7
     
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  16. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I almost feel as though this episode's greatest sin is that it's a good comedy episode, but it's up against extremely stiff competition in the form of "In the Cards", "Trials and Tribble-ations", and "Our Man Bashir" among others.

    Perhaps it's the best comedy that doesn't quite manage to be great but avoids the pitfalls committed by the more unfortunate comedy episodes the show does?
     
  17. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, this is a much better end to the episode than the typical TOS tag with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy joking and forgetting all about those redshirts that got killed just half an hour ago.

    Well reviewed as usual :)
     
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  18. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Red Shirt

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    @ananta: Great reviews!

    It's a pity that the Vorta reproduce by cloning given how hot their women can get.;)

    The "Klingon Custom" of guarding the body is not consistent with what we've been told before and it's possible that Worf has invented it* to patch things up with O'Brien which in my opinion would have been sensitive of him, maybe too sensitive, so I am on the fence.

    *It wouldn't be the first time, as he invented a Klingon test just to teach Sito a lesson in "Lower Decks".

    The Adaptation of Cyrano is good, not great but good. Armin Shimerman is aces as always However, the "attraction" between Kira and O'Brien feels forced and I had a hard time believing it.
     
  19. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Nice review --"Looking for Par'mach" always puts a smile on my face. DS9 really was the best Trek series for comedy episodes. The one thing that seemed off, to me, was Keiko’s complete lack of jealousy in the midst of the increasing emotional closeness between her husband and Kira...actively encouraging it, in fact. With other relationships she has shown herself perceptive and sensitive, and very quick to anger, but she seems blind to this situation.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
  20. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Maybe she just doesn't have a problem with it?