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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    “A SIMPLE INVESTIGATION”

    [​IMG]
    “You make me feel all Gooey inside...”

    Oh dear. I guess the winning streak had to come to an end at some point. It’s not often I find DS9 boring, but this is one of the few episodes that failed to engage me for significant stretches and I actually found myself browsing on my phone and only half-paying attention to the screen. Following the riveting run of episodes we’ve just had—episodes with big stakes, great drama and lasting consequences—this one felt too small-scale, contrived and inconsequential. It relies on Odo acting notably out of character and, while Rene Auberjonois gives it his all, it just didn’t come together for me. DS9 was so good at a range of different types of stories; predictably doomed romance-of-the-week was not one of them (with the exception of “Rejoined” which managed to greatly transcend the usual formula).

    While the writers have foreshadowed that Odo may be interested in finding a partner (what with certain reading material he’s been caught with), I still find it a strangely forced endeavour. Arissa is a shady character and compulsive liar, but Odo miraculously sees beyond that and even volunteers to take a leave of absence so he can take care of of this woman he’s only just met. Since when did the dispassionate, crusty, duty-bound Constable become an unprofessional sentimentalist and skirt chaser? I wasn’t all that sold on the genuineness of the relationship for much of the episode because, as with season two’s “Profit and Loss”, I was pretty certain Arissa was using him. All the cheesy flirting and cringe-worthy talk of “bedroom eyes” seemed laboured and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of course, it does transpire that Odo IS being deceived, albeit not intentionally.

    Without doubt, this episode would have worked much better if it had taken place during the Odo-as-a-solid era of the series (and if they’d really beefed up the main plot significantly). It would have made far more sense if it was Odo’s new human hormones that were driving his responses and prompting him to follow his heart, or other more external organs, as opposed to his head. The bedroom scene is a prime example; it would have felt much more natural if it had taken place prior to his re-Changeling-ification. As it is, it feels...weird, in spite of the best efforts of Auberjonois and Dey Young. Seeing Odo naked in bed just feels and looks wrong; I know this is not exactly an uncommon thing in Trek, but I was acutely aware I was looking at a man in a rubber mask and wig. I also couldn’t help but imagine the pair of them stripping off as they got to bed; Arissa seductively slipping off her clothes, while Odo mutters, “Hang on a minute...” *ZLOOOP* <morphs his “uniform” into a naked body>. “Oh wait a second, I think I’ve got the nipples too low...I’ll just adjust them!” Furthermore, why Odo would even get pleasure from humanoid sex I do not know, other than the satisfaction of being intimate with someone, which I suppose may be enough for him.

    The titular investigation is indeed simple, and largely dull as well. In execution, I don’t find the Orion Syndicate particularly interesting; being, as they are, a fairly obvious and unimaginative take on the mafia (although, in theory, it certainly makes sense that such groups exist and ought to add a little colour to the often beige Trek universe). The two assassins are somewhat amusing in their apathy, but also underused and ultimately inept, as we see in the particularly anticlimactic scuffle in the cargo hold. Odo doesn’t even really do a heck of a lot of detective work here as the mystery is pretty much solved for him and there’s a real lack of agency character-wise.

    Again, I’m not a fan of Trek’s naive and formulaic “love stories”. Virtually none of Trek’s romance-of-the-week stories are about genuine love. They’re about desire, lust and that intoxicating “new-relationship energy” which unleashes an intoxicating cocktail of hormones—none of which should actually factor into the equation for Odo. Nevertheless, Auberjonois is incapable of giving a bad performance and he plays the role with such earnestness that it actually gives the eventual twist some genuine poignance. In many ways, Odo is almost an adolescent type of character and one who is still finding himself very gradually. There’s something quite sweet about seeing him open himself up to another person for the first time. I’m still not sure what to make of Dey Young’s performance. She’s quite good at protecting a feisty, worn-down “good girl caught in bad circumstances” persona and there are some sparks of chemistry between her and Auberjonois. She’s perhaps a little too monotonous or one-note in her performance though, and she struggles to make some of the dialogue sound natural, which, frankly, I don’t blame her for. Rene Echevarria is a talented writer, but he seems to be trying overly hard to conjure the feel of a noir-ish pulp fiction (of the type Odo loves reading) and some of the dialogue feels stilted and silly.

    The twist is an interesting one and the final scene is played with the appropriate awkwardness and heartache, although it’s not enough to redeem to slog it took to get there. Alas, it’s undone by the fact that, despite all the “I’ll never forget you” schtick, you know the whole affair will be forgotten by the following week and never mentioned again. If anything, it was “Arissa’s” poor husband who I probably felt most sorry for. I can’t imagine he’ll be at all happy to find out his wife was working undercover as a digital prostitute and then fell in love with another man. Some awkward dinner conversations surely lie ahead...

    There are some nice moments that help elevate the episode, such as the goofy scene of Dax gossiping in Ops, punctuated by Worf’s annoyance (and rather sweet concern for Odo’s dignity), Sisko’s “that’s niiiice...isn’t it?” as he looks to Kira, who seems unexpectedly awkward—and perhaps even mildly jealous? We also get a short holosuite scene with a welcome return to Bashir’s secret agent program, although it’s pared down significantly, presumably to avoid more legal altercations with MGM. I did, however, wonder why Odo was seeking relationship advice from Bashir of all people. Aside from a brief fling with Leeta and his own doomed romance-of-the-week with Melora, he’s not someone who seems to have much luck with women, certainly compared to previous Trek Casanovas such as James T Kirk and William Riker.

    Anyway, on the whole, this is not an episode I’d recommend and one that can happily be skipped in any future rewatch. It’s not acutely bad, I just found it dull and rather forced, with an unengaging, vapid plot and a romance that relies on Odo acting like an altogether different character. I know that’s what lust can do to a guy, but, in this case the end doesn’t justify the means. I’d say this is just the wrong side of mediocre. At this point, I expect much better from DS9. Rating: 4.5
     
  2. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, this would have been better when Odo was human, and Ira Behr readily admits the romance stories are “crappy.” But both Auberjonois and Young really enjoyed working with each other. I liked Dey in all 3 of her Trek roles. Her older sister LeighTaylor-Young played Ezri's mother, in "Prodigal Daughter."
    To me, the Odo-Arissa chemistry was tender, convincing, and the noir atmosphere came across, but the mystery was too vague, undeveloped - more on Draim and the Orion syndicate might have helped strengthen the episode.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
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  3. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Does Odo even shapeshift during the episode? If not, then it's especially confusing as to why they placed this where they did. I haven't rewatched this one in a long time; "Not bad but forgettable," seems like an appropriate summary.
     
  4. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Gret review! So so episode.

    Star Trek contains one IMO inept bias that I find at times grating but most of the time just ignore. It's interspecies reproduction!!! I mean seriously: Speciation, IE the natural phenomenon by which two groups belonging to the same species become two species is normal and has been observed countless times. The reverse... NEVER!!!
    So two humanoids from different planets who coincidentally look similar enough to develop an attraction, maybe, but these two humanoids having babies.... impossible.

    Now about Odo and his people, sexual reproduction makes no sense whatsoever!!! Because sure Odo could morph a... male organ... but why would it give him more pleasure than a foot or any pseudo limb? There's no reason, no more morphing of a mouth gives him a sense of taste!!!

    But why would his people even have males and females given that they all live collectively in a puddle of goo!!! Wouldn't it make sense that they would have a gene pool... literally? That is some sort of collective reproduction. Odo was never told that he had parents, not even a hint. To me, that suggests that the whole link is his parentage.

    Anyway, Odo being romantically involved with women makes no sense and that's the problem with the franchise, they don't know how to create really alien species. Sooner or later they have to anthropomorphize them and I find that pitiful.
     
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  5. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    About Dey Young, as far as the franchise is concerned she is cursed. She only appears in snore-fests. "The Masterpiece Society", this one, "Two Days and Two nights"!!...

    She almost makes me believe in black magic.:D
     
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  6. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent review.

    Spot on with everything. I can only add I give it a 4. I can copy and paste your review and it would be virtually exactly what I think.
     
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  7. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, Odo couldn't ask Kirk or Riker, because they weren't on the station. Who could he have asked? Dax, maybe - at least she'd be all in favor of Odo having a good time even though they were not going to be Mr. and Ms. Right for each other.

    They did establish that when changelings primarily hold one form for a long time they begin to think like that form... maybe that's what's happening to Odo. He's been being a male humanoid, except when regenerating or occassional special needs like a drinking glass, for years.

    The review is excellent, as usual. I still like A Simple Investigation a little better than a 4.5, mostly on the strength of Dey Young's acting.
     
  8. jaime

    jaime Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The circles he mixed in at ‘university’ would do it alone. And yes, it’s a perfectly likely thing, based on my experience lol. (I forgot to give credit to O’Brien too, for being closer to my lived reality. Not bloody Reed though. Lol)
     
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  9. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    We didn't really explore all of Bashir's talents. For instance, we know that he can conceive machines so complex that even O'Brien doesn't understand how they work, all in his head!!! That means that he's not only a super doctor, he's also a super engineer... Who knows what else he could be if he didn't hide his talents. Maybe he's a master of languages as well and can speak with whatever accent he wants. That wouldn't be so surprising, considering.
     
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  10. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    On the contrary, I'd say she probably considered herself lucky. I enjoy rewatching both.
    Just because an episode isn't filled with combat scenes doesn't make it a 'snore-fest.'
     
  11. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    You're right not "just because" but these three truly are snore-fests. And what's more for pretty much the same reason. Odo and her romance is walking dead exciting (or sleepwalking if you will) just as Deanna Troi's with the guy in MS. To say nothing about the stupid plot point of Archer and the "mysterious stranger" the two other plots (Trip and Reed following two girls in a cave and getting robbed (yawn!!) and Hoshi and her "linguistic encounter" (double yawn!!)...
     
  12. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Risa episodes are universally bad... the deck is stacked against her already.
     
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  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Can’t believe this is page 60! That’s a lot of posting. I’ve fallen rather behind, mainly due to fatigue, been watching these episodes faster than I can write about them. But we’ll get there...

    “BUSINESS AS USUAL”

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    Yeah, Quark, getting involved with THESE guys is a really good idea and won’t lead to any potential problems.... /S

    “Business As Usual” is more a case of Business As Unusual. After all, it’s one of only a couple of Quark-centric episodes across the entire series that aren’t played as comedy, but as straight-up drama. Tonally, that’s almost a little disorienting at first because we’re so conditioned to expect a Quark episode to feature zany hijinks involving our barkeeper and at least some of his extended Ferengi family. This, however, is a stark and somber episode that deals with nothing less than...well, potential genocide. So it’s only appropriate that it isn’t played for laughs.

    In many respects, it’s a story we’ve long needed to see. While their portrayal as villains on TNG was an unmitigated disaster, DS9 has portrayed the Ferengi in a somewhat amiable, light-hearted light, and to good effect, I might add. But there are elements of their society that do bear significant scrutiny, in spite of Quark’s tendency to shame hew-mons by comparing them unfavourably to his own race. I mean, worship of extreme capitalism regardless of all moral cost is...well, it’s a horrendously dangerous thing. I mean, read this and literally weep—a “businessman” made £50million by selling fake bomb detectors to war-torn countries and it’s clear that many will have been injured, maimed and killed using them. This vile scammer didn’t seem to care one iota because he was laughing all the way to the bank. This is what happens when capitalism goes out of control and when money is the god that overrules all else, including compassion, morality and basic humanity.

    So, it’s about time we took a long and hard look at where Quark is really prepared to draw the line and how much collateral damage he’s willing to inflict on other people in order to line his pockets. It’s an important theme and I’m glad the writers finally decided to explore the darker side of Ferengi culture because, in spite of the harmless and humorous way DS9 tends to portray them, their way of life and cultural paradigm certainly invites, if not BEGS, scrutiny. Just how far IS Quark willing to go for profit? We’ve already seen Quark’s adherence to basic Ferengi ideology and cultural codes called into question in “Body Parts” last season, when he came to realise that he values his life more than he does his reputation. But was that really all that hard a choice? I mean, he has certainly suffered consequences for it, but surely only a fool would place their reputation over their very life—because, even if they save their reputation, they won’t be around to care about it. This episode asks a far more powerful question: is Quark willing to kill for profit, however indirectly?

    The answer, at least at first, is yes.

    Of course, the episode begins with Quark on the brink of destitution, so he’s particularly desperate and perhaps open to doing things he wouldn’t ordinarily do. Cousin Gaila (effectively and creepily played by Josh Pais) entices Quark into the weapons trade, which, as you might expect opens up a whole host of moral and legal implications. There’s a sense of coercion from Gaila, not to mention the intimidating sociopath Hagath—brilliantly brought to life by veteran actor Steven Berkoff. That, combined with his clear desperation means that we, or at least I, never quite lose sympathy for Quark even if it’s clear he’s going down a very dark path.

    He basically seems to have divorced the products he’s selling from their intended usage and the episode opens up some questions about arms and arms dealers. If I sell you weapons, am I at least partly complicit in any harm you may then inflict on others with them? To the Starfleeters, the answer is a definite yes, and Sisko and Dax—and Quark’s usual customers—make their feelings abundantly clear as they boycott his premises. Quark spends much of the episode then trying to rationalise what he’s doing—until that is, an utterly terrifying Lawrence Tierney shows up and casually states that he wants to slaughter 28 MILLION of his people. Quark, understandably, balks...although, from what I recall, he initially seemed willing to go along with it if the number was nearer seven million. So it seems Quark does have his price, and would agree to facilitate the deaths of seven million people. Hopefully, of course, he would have backed out of that too, because that is still utterly horrific. Heck, making money out of even one death would be bad enough.

    It’s an interesting dilemma and the writers don't shy away from it. Armin Shimmerman is fantastic from beginning to end and shines in the spotlight, more than proving that he’s capable of handling a dramatic as opposed to largely comedic role. The guests are uniformly strong, with Berkoff stealing just about every scene he’s in with a compelling and memorable performance, while the infamous, menacing Tierney is makes quite an impression even though he doesn’t have many lines. Alexander Siddig, confusingly credited as his old name, Siddig El Fadil, makes his directorial debut here and, while not on a par with the show’s stronger directors, he nevertheless does a decent job. The episode has a fair sense of pace and atmosphere, and David Bell’s score lends it a weighty, ominous feel.

    I like that we get some good use of holodeck technology, although somehow things still feel a little dated in its presentation. I mean, you’d think buyers would be able to both interact with Quark and buy from him and Hagath virtually rather than having to come to the station in person just to view a holosuite demonstration. I mean, the internet was already a thing back when this episode aired, yet the writers evidently didn’t manage to predict the ascent of e-commerce.

    If the episode has any real flaw it’s the fact that, quite simply, Quark gets off too easily and without any significant consequences for his actions. You would have thought that being responsible for a shoot-out between the Regent and the rebels would NOT have gone down well and that he’d now have a significant price on his head. Yet there are no mentions or indication of any fallout from this, which I feel is a little improbable. Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining, gripping and important episode for Quark, and one that sees some significant character development. Oh, I almost forgot the sub-plot. I only have one word for it: cute. Rating: 8
     
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  14. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ananta, good to see you back here. Another very perceptive, in-depth recap.
    “Business as usual” was a compelling dilemma for Quark, and Shimerman said it was his favorite episode - a serious, three-dimensional portrayal. Iconic guest stars - Lawrence Tierney was Cyrus Redblock from TNG “The Big Goodbye."
    Two such different plots - selling weapons of mass destruction, and a colicky baby (DS9 really needs a day care center). I liked Bashir’s line about Yoshi’s constant wailing - “perhaps he’s become prematurely aware of life’s existential isolation.”
    The zombie dream sequence showed Quark’s real loyalty to the crew. He was suddenly willing to sacrifice his life to save 28 million people. Then, he uses the old trick of turning the two villains against each other.
    How quickly Dax went back to playing Tonga with Quark…though the weapons he’d sold earlier must have caused a lot of deaths. But, it made for a light-hearted ending.
     
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  15. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, generally good episode, and I agree Quark got off pretty light. I hear the station's security chief doesn't like shootouts on his station.
     
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  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Wow...well, this ship went to warp so long ago it's a galaxy over. Interspecies romance is bread and butter in Trek.

    As for the episode proper, I rarely care for romance episodes and this one doesn't do anything special. So, it usually ranks middle of the road.
     
  17. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Great review, andcwelcome back! (Don't ever feel like you need to explain why you haven't been on for a few days. Take care of your health first. The thread will be here.)

    I do feel I have to correct one thing, as it might alter some perceptions. When the death toll is lowered, Quark says, "Can't we just maim some of them?" I don't think he was fine with a lower death toll either, based on how he said the dialogue. Plus, he was in the room with VERY dangerous people, one of whom has proven to simply kill someone that just makes him mad. (Hagath)

    I feel he was trying to make his stand in as big a way as possible without getting killed right there.

    The 7 million total, if memory serves, was for when he later dealt with them in his scheme, and was offering a discount due to the lower death toll. He was trying to keep his plan together convincingly enough so it not only works, but he doesn't get killed in the process.

    And he DID have to have to end up paying for all the damages, in an installment plan. While this is more a slap on the wrist, he's basically in debt again... only to a more lenient debtor. On essence, he made almost no progress... except his bar is not on collateral anymore.

    I agree with the 8 rate, though. But I feel the perception of Quark might be less harsh with this information.


    By the way, Quark is my wife's favorite character. She says he is the most heroic character in DS9. Essentially because since everyone else is basically trained or born into a world where they are geared to be heroic, Quark does heroic things despite his upbringing, his values, and even himself. This episode is a good illustration of that. He does a heroic thing AS a Ferengi... using deals. He goes against his upbringing by using the very thing he was brought up to be.

    I never used to see Quark as heroic as the other characters, but my wife made a compelling case. I won't go as far as saying he's THE most heroic, but he is certainly on par with the others.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
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  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think Quark had his moments of heroism, but he also had moments such as in "Invasive Procedures", and while I can see Our Heroes ultimately forgiving him for that, I'd be hard-pressed to forget.
     
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  19. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Good to see you back! Take care of yourself and take your time, we enjoy your reviews regardless of how much time elapses between them, and remember that your health comes first.

    Great review, very insightful. I also believe we got some great guest actors here.

    Lawrence Tierney is a fantastic major villain, I also liked his role in TNG's "The Big Goodbye" there's something about his acting that gives you the chills...

    Great Quark episode!
     
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  20. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree, and he should have had some consequences... unless Jadzia didn't press charges, which could very well be a reason why she was invited to play Tongo at first. A sort of 'thank you for not getting me kicked out of the station'.

    And that example, and a lot of his worst ones, are toward the beginning of the series. He wasn't quite as corrupted, for lack of a better term, by Federation values. That happened over time.
     
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