My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    What's ironic is that he's spent two hundred years dreaming about her and in the timeline he actually got her, he left her presumably forever to rejoin the great link, a little more than a year later!!! Seems that the reason that was good enough for him to murder 8000 people wasn't good enough to stay with his dream woman. And please don't tell me that he didn't have a choice, if he really cared for her he would have stayed. 8000 people died for nothing.
     
  2. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “IN THE CARDS”

    [​IMG]
    “Us—? Soulless minions of orthodoxy?! How DARE you!! Take that back!”

    DS9’s fifth season came to an end in the States around the time I was finishing High School, which also coincided with the time we got the internet for the first time. Ah, even antiquated dial-up was a miracle back then. The world was at my fingertips! Aside from surreptitiously looking up the odd rude picture or two (which, in the days before broadband, took forever to load), I also found it irresistible to avoid spoilers for my favourite TV shows. The UK DS9 video releases were several months behind the States, and DS9 was clearly coming to the most exciting time in its then-five year run: the culmination of three years of slow-build to the almost inevitable Dominion war. I remember finding detailed synopsis of both “In the Cards” and “Call to Arms” and I dug right in. I still vividly remember reading the synopsis of “In the Cards” and thinking...WTF? Somebody was surely playing a joke! Sure enough, on paper, this episode sounds completely and utterly ludicrous, particularly when Doctor Geiger shows up with his “cellular regeneration and entertainment chamber”. I later learned that the synopsis I read was not only a hundred percent accurate, but...lo and behold, when I eventually watched “In the Cards” I realised it not only worked, but worked BEAUTIFULLY. In fact, it remains one of my all-time favourite comedic episodes of Star Trek.

    First of all, while the main storyline has its tongue firmly in cheek, the episode also provides some effective and weighty foreshadowing of the events of the season finale, as war brews in the Alpha Quadrant. The tension is palpable, and I loved seeing Bajor struggle with its awkward position—not sure whether it’s safer in or out of the Federation. I do, however, wonder why in the name of the Prophets Kai Winn is conducting the negotiations with Weyoun. She’s the planet’s spiritual leader, not its First Minister or an ambassador or negotiator. If war was brewing on Earth, would we really send the Pope to do the negotiations?! Although it definitely strains credulity, the real reason Winn is featured and not Shakaar (who has quietly been written out of the series) is that she’s an infinitely more engaging and better played character, and I’m glad of any chance to see the brilliant Louise Fletcher on screen. Her interactions with Weyoun are a triumph, and even better are the scenes with Sisko, where we see that, following her (ultimately short-lived) epiphany in “Rapture” she now shows respect for and deference to Sisko, literally begging him to tell her what to do. How the tables have turned. I remember being saddened by Winn’s next appearance (in season six’s “The Reckoning”) where the writers reset her character and forgot about the character development she’d received in the fifth season. Anyway, that aside, it’s a great little sub-plot that expertly sets the scene for the bombastic finale.

    The main plot is...zany, charming, at times hilarious, at other times batshit crazy, but ultimately utterly sweet and uplifting. Jake and Nog always make a winning duo and this story has shades of the glorious sub-plot they had back in the first season’s “Progress”. We see that Jake inherited his father’s obsessive streak as he goes to enormous lengths to chase down a baseball card, with Nog frequently remarking how his friend has basically lost his mind. I love the way they end up doing odd jobs for the station’s senior officers which makes for some charming vignettes; although the episode’s masterstroke is the introduction of one of the downright oddest characters we’ve ever seen on Star Trek—Doctor Elias Geiger. He’s like a cross between a mad scientist and a conspiracy theorist, something quite different for Trek. His scenes work so beautifully because they’re played utterly straight, with Brian Markinson delivering a delightfully deadpan performance as the paranoid doctor who is either completely delusional or a misunderstood genius, or maybe a touch of both.

    Ron Moore’s script is excellent and I rather wish he’d gotten to write more comedy outings. Whereas Ira Behr usually handles the comedic entries and has a very broad, often slapstick approach to humour, Moore is a little subtler; his humour drier and more wry. He comes up with some inspired and hilarious touches, such as Geiger’s obsession with the “soulless minions of orthodoxy”, an expression that always stuck with me years after first seeing this episode (Although the “lions, Geigers and bears” line didn’t quite work for me—just a little too forced and on-the-nose). There are so many wonderful moments, from Nog taking aim at the idealistic Starfleet line lifted from FIRST CONTACT that “we don’t need money; we work for the betterment of ourselves and humanity” (“what does that MEAN, exactly?”) to the elaborate web of white lies spun by Jake and Nog, leading them to accuse Kai Winn of kidnapping and then pretending they were drunk. Of course, it leads to an unexpected scene set aboard the Dominion ship, with Weyoun getting in on the action. Again, it’s a downright bizarre plot, and all kinds of unlikely, but it works so beautifully and is funny and charming throughout.

    The closing montage, with all the crew enjoying an boost of positivity and Ben giving Jake a warm hug, is wonderfully uplifting. “In the Cards” is one of the franchise’s greatest comedic triumphs: a simple, but delightfully wacky, original, charming and feel-good romp that also begins one of the greatest one-two punches in all of Trek history. I absolutely love this one. Rating: 10
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  3. Vash

    Vash Commander Red Shirt

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    Love the review, and the episode -“In the cards” is totally delightful (good timing for the week of Father’s Day-!). Rarely does the comedy plot get to be the main focus, while the serious threat of Dominion warfare stays in the background-- for now. The final scenes of the crew in an upbeat mood, make a great bookend to the opening scene of depression. “Even in the darkest moments, you can always find something that’ll make you smile.”
    One questionable bit - Nog breaking into Leeta’s bedroom to steal the teddy bear as she slept.
    Ronald Moore said “I take great glee at mocking my own work” --repeating Picard’s words when he had Jake say “we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity."
     
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  4. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "In the Cards" deserves a rating of 1500 simply for introducing two phrases into the vernacular:
    Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy
    Cellular Regeneration and Entertainment Chamber

    Fight me.
     
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  5. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm too busy entertaining my cells
     
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  6. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent review!

    This has always been a favorite of mine. It's perfect. As you said, a great one-two punch with this episode and the next. I equate this duo with "THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR" and "THE VISITOR" one-two punch... probably the only two times in the franchise I give perfect 10s back to back without even having to think about it. That speaks to the quality of DS9. One of the beauties of DS9 is its ability to take an absolutely simple idea and turn it into gold... "IN THE CARDS" is possibly the best example of this. "A son wants to cheer his dad up with a gift." It sounds TOO simple to even be a minor story on almost any other show, but it is done PERFECTLY on DS9.

    Ronald D. Moore truly was one of the best writers in STAR TREK. So many of his episodes are classics, and as you mentioned, he might be the funniest writer of the whole bunch. It's because of his subtlety that it works so well.

    I count this as the 3 best episodes for Jake... the other two being "THE VISITOR" and "EXPLORERS". ALL are immediate rewatches.

    I don't think it's possible to be in a bad mood after watching this episode. So many great moments and dialogue. Even Weyoun got to have a happy moment in the end! And that moment at the end when Ben hugs Jake... it's almost impossible to not shed a single man tear. (I'm already starting to build a tear just thinking of that moment.)

    This was a perfectly timed episode, with the Dominion War hitting directly after. From this episode to "YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED", DS9 was just perfect. (Funny how it begins and ends with a Moore episode.)

    Easily a 10 for me.
     
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  7. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Great review! I like that episode but maybe not as much as you do. It's played purely for laughs and nobody dies, nobody's hurt and even Weyoun is benign and friendly but he's someone who will just as jovially order a city to be massacred, something that's not apparent in this episode. All it was missing is some songs and it could have been called DS9 the musical...
     
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  8. Vash

    Vash Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, one of Nog's chores included listening to Worf's Klingon operas....if you count those as songs. :lol:
     
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  9. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was an honorable task he was performing!
     
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  10. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Especially since we always hear the same twenty seconds of the "same opera" throughout the series. You'd think they could have played at least one other twenty-second extract just to give the impression that there is more than one song in Worf's "collection".;)
     
  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe Worf isn't as educated about Klingon Opera as he likes to claim he is? :p
     
  12. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wouldn't say he had no choice. Biology is not destiny, but it is still biology, holding a powerful sway over the individual. Moreover, the Odo who rejoins the Great Link is not the same one who lived within a bubble of time for several hundred years. Their experiences, thus their development, was different. Furthermore, trying to reform the Founders' imperialism is without a doubt important work with profound moral and ethical consequences that could affect more than a single planet.
     
  13. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “CALL TO ARMS”

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    “Oh crap, we’re under new management.”

    [​IMG]
    “You’d better believe it, bitches!”

    It turns out I don’t have a huge amount to say about “Call to Arms”. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s a breathtakingly brilliant episode; that it’s the best season finale DS9 ever did and is, in the franchise as a whole, perhaps second only to the iconic “Best of Both Worlds”. Like that episode, which arguably represented the peak of sister series TNG, “Call to Arms” excels in its ominous build-up to a looming confrontation that you absolutely know will have terrible, terrible consequences for our heroes. Nothing feels safe and seeing the characters spend the entire episode completely on edge has a knock on effect on the audience.

    It’s a superlative build up, but what really makes the episode a delight are the wonderful character vignettes interwoven throughout: from Odo and Kira acknowledging the awkwardness they’ve been experiencing since the staggering revelations of “Children of Time”, to Jake’s new occupation as a hard-nosed reporter, to the cute but thankfully brief wedding of Rom and Leeta, Jadzia and Worf’s unconventional wedding proposal, and a particularly touching, understated scene with Quark looking out for Rom. Everyone gets a moment to shine and it keeps the proceedings grounded and very human (or, you know, humanoid!).

    The plot is actually quite simple but it is staged beautifully, and an excellent script combined with Allan Kroeker’s skilled and taut directing keep ramping the tension up and up, until the moment all hell breaks loose. It’s perversely fun seeing Dukat pacing the Jem’Hadar warship like an impatient and particularly hungry vulture as they prepare to attack the station. Jeffrey Combs continues to impress as Weyoun, who can flip from phoney used-car salesman to menacing warlord in the space of a heartbeat. As with the previous episode, his scenes with Sisko are particularly well done, with both actors at their best.

    Of course, it all culminates in an engaging, action-packed and heart-pounding battle for the station, featuring a dazzlingly impressive degree of special effects and pyrotechnics not seen since the previous season’s “Shattered Mirror”. It’s surprisingly emotional seeing Sisko and co forced to leave the station and retreat in the Defiant, even if they leave behind a few “surprises” for the Cardassians. You can’t help but feel worse for those left behind, and particularly Kira, as she “welcomes” Dukat back onto the station, surely her worst imaginable nightmare. I bet she now regrets hanging out with him in the fourth season—and, in particular, that she didn’t impale him through the heart with the spike she instead removed from his ass.

    This episode really does capture the feel that nothing would ever be the same again. That said, knowing Star Trek for what it was back then, I was nevertheless concerned that this was simply the first of a two-parter and that by the end of the sixth season premiere Sisko and crew would regain control of the station. After all, that was what TNG and VOYAGER would do. At most, I thought perhaps we’d get a two-parter—or at a push a three-parter—out of it. I knew that the Paramount executives, and Rick Berman himself, did NOT like serialisation. Fortunately, as you can rather see from the “What We Left Behind” documentary, Berman clearly wasn’t that invested in the series by this point and pretty much left Ira Behr to run things (while frequently complaining and trying to overrule certain things). Fortunately, although my concern was legitimate, I needn’t have worried. This, as it happens, is a high water mark for the series and for Trek in general. An unqualified triumph. Rating: 10
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
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  14. Vash

    Vash Commander Red Shirt

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    Perfect recap of “Call to Arms” -- what a brilliant episode--the momentum builds with the shifts from starbase to Worf’s ship to the station to the Defiant…everyone pulling together for a common cause. Fine speech by Sisko. The romantic partings were awkward--Odo raises the possibility of dating with Kira, only to dash it--Rom pushes Leeta out the door right after the wedding-- Jadzia says yes she’ll marry Worf - did he ever propose? He looks blank. Ziyal kissing Garak goodbye was okay. Too bad Penny Johnson was unavailable during this time.
    Dukat as a vulture - Weyoun as a used car salesman - yes!
    This episode is the last to be co-written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe....he appears as an injured Starfleet officer when Jadzia says goodbye to Worf.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2021
  15. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Great review! Great episode!

    Let's add that there is a little homage to Casablanca...;)

    Worf must have proposed since according to Martok, it was all he could talk about afterward, that is until his son came along (Worf's not Martok's)

    Btw: Worf is Martok's brother now, I wonder how Martok's son feels about having for uncle the guy who humiliated him publicly...
     
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  16. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Worf didn’t propose as such, but he made it clear he expected and wanted for him and Jadzia to get married after their...bone-busting shenanigans in “Looking For Par’Mach”.

    Indeed, I forgot the Casablanca misquote... it’s fun, but I never quite understood the significance of it. Is Rom a fan of old Earth movies?
     
  17. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    No more than Nog a fan of the "Wizard Of Oz" with Judy Garland. Not the one with Michael Jackson;:D
     
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  18. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent review for an excellent episode!

    You summed it all up brilliantly. Only thing I can add is that I believe this was the last DS9 episode to use extensive motion control for the battle, which is PHENONENAL! What a way to end the era of motion control!

    Easily a 10 for me, as well.
     
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  19. FanST

    FanST Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Last 2 episodes of Season 5 and first 6 Episodes of Season 6.. best stretch in Deep Space Nine and perhaps in Star Trek history.
     
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  20. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “A TIME TO STAND”

    [​IMG]
    “Don’t you DARE put me on hold...!”

    I came to this episode with such a blessed sense of relief when it first aired. The writers didn’t simply do what we’d long come to expect from Star Trek following an epic season bridging cliff-hanger—which is to say, making the next episode a blanket reset. There was simply too much potential set up in “Call to Arms” than could ever be explored in a single episode, so I’m forever grateful that the writers bravely went against the grain and forged their own way on this. While serialised television was not generally the way of things back in the mid-90’s, at least not to the extent it is today, it was a format DS9 was simply born to explore and pioneer.

    I’m delighted to say that although a step down from the spectacular finale, “A Time To Stand” is a strong, confident opening to the new season; very much indicative of a show that knows its own voice and is playing to its strengths. I will say that it’s a surprisingly low-key episode, but then, many of DS9’s season premieres were, with a couple of notable exceptions (“The Way of the Warrior” foremost among them). There’s not actually a heck of a lot happens here, but I think that was the intent. More than anything, this is a mood piece....and, make no mistake, the mood is grim. Grimmer, in fact, than we’ve perhaps ever seen on Star Trek before. Previous conflicts were fairly self-contained on Trek and I don’t recall ever seeing Starfleet this beleaguered and dispirited, even during the Borg incident. An ominous pall hangs over the episode, saturating every single scene and interaction, and it makes for compelling drama even in the episode’s quietest, most understated moments, of which there are many.

    The opening shot of the fleet limping back in varying states of damage and disrepair is a powerful image and a sharp contrast to the closing shot of season five, which showed a vibrant and imposing fleet ready to kick ass. After three months of unrelenting defeat, morale is at an all-time low and that is perfectly depicted with some good writing and strong performances (although Avery Brooks seemed a little detached and distant, although I guess that may have just been Sisko in depressed mode). Lots of great little character moments and sprinkles of humour punctuate the air of doom, including a wonderfully heartfelt and poignant scene between Ben and Joseph Sisko (Brock Peters making a very welcome return) which is a highlight of the episode and really shows things in a very raw, human light.

    Sisko’s new mission (introduced by Admiral Ross in his first appearance in the series—Barry Jenner was perhaps a little wooden but he was likeable) calls back to last season’s “The Ship”, which I greatly appreciate, and provides a little action and adventure. It’s nicely done, with some good moments of tension and a dilemma involving a Starfleet ship and an emboldened friend of Sisko’s. There’s not actually a whole lot TO this plot, and in spite of its stressed importance, their victory doesn’t seem to have any real consequences for the rest of this arc. That said, it’s engaging and fun, and leads to a neat cliffhanger with a VOYAGER-esque twist (“DAYum, we’re stranded far from home!”).

    If I have one real nitpick it’s that Bashir’s characterisation felt a little off, with too much reference to his genetically engineered status. I recall Alexander Siddig admitting he hated this development and the fact he felt they were turning him into a Data-like character spouting complex calculations and equations like a walking computer. Although I liked the genetic enhancement twist when it was revealed last season, it’s handled in a rather ham-fisted a manner here and you can actually tell Siddig is disenchanted with the material. Fortunately, if memory serves, the writers dial things back a bit after this episode.

    Most of the really interesting scenes in this episode take place on the station. It’s just fascinating seeing Kira, Odo and Quark trying to adjust to life under another Cardassian Occupation, with the added delight of the Dominion this time. I enjoyed Kira and Odo’s attempts to establish a Bajoran security force on the station and the awkward, painful interactions with their new overlords. It’s fascinating watching the simpering tension between Dukat and Weyoun, with Damar displaying unbridled contempt and disdain for the passive aggressive Vorta. Clearly this is not an alliance that was ever destined to end well.

    Perhaps the highlight of the episode is the scene between Kira and Dukat in the latter’s office. Dukat, ever under the spell of his monstrous ego, is still desperate for Kira’s approval and has been keen to prove his benevolence and greatness. When she steadfastly refuses to play his game, he basically forces himself on her, placing a slimy hand on her face. Kira’s response is one of shock and disgust. It’s a disturbing, deeply unsettling moment—a single gesture that reveals this man is not above using force to get what he wants. Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo play it beautifully and Allan Kroeker’s directing is absolutely on point, as it is throughout. A powerful, memorable scene; and one that gets extra points for Kira’s barb about Dukat’s breath.

    The bottom line? Although surprisingly low-key and lacking the punch of the previous and succeeding episodes, “A Time to Stand” is nevertheless triumph and a smooth, confident and assured start to the new season. Rating: 8
     
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