My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Outstanding review of this grim but riveting episode....really shows the psychological effect of warfare on the crew as individuals.
    One thing that struck me in reading about the series as a whole, is how deeply some people objected to DS9 focusing on a war that lasts two seasons....Majel Barrett Roddenberry and George Takei were vehement that it went completely against Gene’s vision. A complicated issue, but to me, DS9 still has very much a Trek sensibility, maybe more so.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
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  2. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Great review! Remember what Mark Alaimo said in WWLB about Dukat and Kira's relationship? "I know he wanted her because I wanted her." :D One of the funniest moments of the documentary!

    It's odd that it's been months since the beginning of the occupation and Quark is still trying to get the Jems in his establishment to buy something... Seems a little out of place.

    A very nice beginning to the season.
     
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  3. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “ROCKS AND SHOALS”

    [​IMG]
    Sisko: the ONLY Captain who could square up to a Jem’Hadar and come across as intimidating. Kirk would probably have pretended it was a girl and flirted. Picard would have delivered a philosophical speech. Janeway would have croaked about coffee and come up with a silly one-liner. Archer would have...well, just been inept and petulant. Burnham would have given an emotional speech and cried. Sisko is THE boss.

    Although I never quite understood the title until I looked it up, “Rocks and Shoals” is an instant hit and stands as one of the show’s finest episodes; a definite top ten for me. Ron Moore pens one of his finest and most assured scripts; the cast, regulars and guests alike, put in tremendous work; and the directing, cinematography and music all combine to produce an outstanding hour of television.

    From the opening shot to the final fade out, this episode held me captivated. The teaser is one of the show’s best and wastes little time in setting up the crew’s dire predicament. Once again, we get some great location work in the same quarry previously featured in “Indiscretion” and “The Ship”—and, once again, the oppressive heat and shooting conditions were apparently hellish for the cast and crew. It certainly looks scorching hot, and you can’t help but feel for the actors and extras playing the Jem’Hadar, buried as they are under layers of latex and leather. Incidentally, this is one of the only times you’ll ever hear me complain about the show’s makeup, but the first scene between Remata’klan and his subordinate (as the opening credits roll) feature an unfortunate mistake. As they talk, you can clearly see that the Jem’Hadar officer, who has a bare chest, is wearing a rubber suit, because his scaly ‘chest’ keeps moving every time he turns to Remata’klan. Ah well, given the horrendous shoot, you can’t blame them for not going back to reshoot.

    That’s all I can criticise about this episode. The basic premise is simple but highly effective and, astonishingly, even though our heroes are at war with these guys, it’s also the most sympathetic portrayal we’ve ever seen of the Jem’Hadar; to the extent that these brutally efficient “killing machines” almost seem like the victims. Whereas TNG’s “humanising” of the Borg via Hugh in “I, Borg” pretty much neutered the Borg as a threat for the duration of the series, DS9 has managed to show the Jem’Hadar in a more sympathetic light three times now (also in “Hippocratic Oath” and “To the Death”) and yet they lost none of their sense of danger and power.

    While DS9 got considerable criticism from the Trek gatekeepers around this time (including Majel Barrett Roddenberry herself, who penned a letter criticising the war arc), and certainly the tone is darker than we’d ever seen on Trek before, there’s actually a tremendously Star Trekky message here. Sisko goes out of his way to try to get through to the Jem’Hadar and to save them from the fate conspired by their duplicitous Vorta, Keevan. He offers them another way out of the impending carnage—although, sadly, the Jem’Hadar are products of the Dominion’s engineering. As the Jem’Hadar state repeatedly, above all else, they observe “the order of things”. As Sisko later challenges Remata’klan: “Are you really willing to give up your life for the ‘order of things’?” Remata’klan’s somber, defeated response bears all the hallmarks of tragedy: “It is not my life to give up, Captain, and it never was.”

    The resultant shoot-up is heart-wrenching to watch, and full credit to the writers and producers. DS9 is going out of its way to show that there are no actual winners in war. Whereas a lesser series may have wanted us to cheer in excitement as our crew gun down the enemy, DS9 makes it painful by showing that in war, as in most things in life, there is no black and white. Phil Morris is superb as the Jem’Hadar leader, delivering probably the finest Jem’Hadar performance of the show’s run, crafting a sympathetic, proud and unexpectedly noble character. Christopher Shea is also memorable as the profoundly unlikable Keevan; as blatant a scumbag as we’ve ever seen n the show. Special mention must also go to Avery Brooks, who is back on top form, holding the episode together with his powerful commanding presence. He perfectly captures every nuance of Sisko’s predicament as he seeks a peaceful way out of an impossible situation, while also very much aware that, in war, his choices are practically non-existent (“if it comes down to a choice between them and us, there IS no choice”).

    Meanwhile, the station side of things are equally compelling. Nana Visitor matches the intensity of Brooks’ performance as is absolutely superb as Kira comes to realise she’s gotten too comfortable with this Occupation and has inadvertently become the thing she despised most: a collaborator. Vedek Yassim’s suicide on the Promenade is one of the show’s all-time most shocking moments; brilliantly performed and shot. As it happens, Yassim’s suicide is a suitably powerful motivator for Kira to begin taking action against the Dominion, although it nevertheless sows a dangerous seed of conflict between herself and Odo.

    Aside from a first rate script dealing with powerful, thought-provoking themes, what makes “Rocks and Shoals” the powerhouse it is has to be Michael Vejar’s outstanding directing. This is an episode that has all the quality and craftsmanship of a mini-movie, and a great one at that. Every single shot is beautifully composed, the action is compelling and deftly executed and the emotional beats are struck with devastating effectiveness. The past season or two have really seen DS9 step up with regards to directing. Whereas TNG, and earlier seasons of DS9, were mostly characterised by proficient but somewhat pedestrian, pallid directing (often just a static camera moving between reaction shots), the producers seemed to have made a conscious attempt to get the show into line with the more kinetic and ambitious standard of directing evolving in mid-to-late 90’s television. This is one of the best examples I can think of. Indeed, it’s just a shame the show didn’t manage to maintain this level of quality on a more consistent basis (the very next episode would see a huge drop in quality on every level). The photography is also breathtaking, featuring some of the best location work the show ever did. Special mention must also go to David Bell, whose ominous, weighty score significantly adds to the episode’s tension and emotion.

    I can’t recommend this episode highly enough. It not only works as a brilliant continuation of the war arc, but also as one of the best standalone episodes the show ever produced. A stunning, harrowing and thought-provoking work of art. Rating: 10
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
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  4. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Marc Alaimo came across rather oddly in the documentary; at times a little needy and insecure, and other times a little...predatory. I kind of cringed for him in bits. Those were things the rest of us may have thought but would never have said on camera.
     
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  5. FanST

    FanST Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Rocks and Shoals, another DS9 classic!
     
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  6. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    I suspect that what he said was part of an act in complicity with Nana Visitor, just look at the face she makes when he says those words. Obviously (at least to me) this was played for laughs.
     
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  7. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Another great review! Note the continuity with a previous episode... Nog...Garak...;)

    I must say I would never have recognized Mister Mission Impossible under all that Jem makeup...

    "Rocks And Shoals" apparently refers to be stranded... run upon rocks and shoals...

    BTW, you forgot to say what Beckett Mariner would do?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
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  8. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Great reviews!

    There's not much I can add to either "A TIME TO STAND" or "ROCKS AND SHOALS" that you already stated.

    Except for one thing... your pic and caption for "ROCKS AND SHOALS" is perfect! It's another reason why Sisko will always be my favorite captain.

    Your ratings are exactly as I would make... an 8 and 10.
     
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  9. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Two cents:
    From a VFX standpoint I was impressed by the shots of the damaged ship descending into the atmosphere and perhaps especially the shot with Our Heroes making landfall while the ship is sinking into the ocean in the background. I'm not sure we'd seen anything like that in Trek before or possibly since.
    Also, I never felt "I, Borg" emasculated the Borg. It may have laid the groundwork, but there was no reason the events of that episode needed to have any larger impact. I do like the way it lays the groundwork for Picard's next confrontation with Nechayev, especially since she somewhat ironically basically tells him to act like a Borg with regards to dealing with them in the future.
     
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  10. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Well, doesn't quite emasculate them but it somewhat weakens the threat that they represent. Pls the idea that with a simple image you could destroy the Borg!! I mean the Borg's mortal enemy is M. C. Escher. :D
     
  11. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Oh, I forgot to include this meme I found about “Rocks and Shoals”. It’s hilarious and rather apt.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Is that Sisko or Taras Bulba? :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought that plan was seriously underestimating the Borg's capabilities and never really expected that TPTB would have anything come of it.

    I assumed "emasculating the Borg" was a reference to their de-assimilation of Hugh rather than the pretty picture bit.

    I thought "Descent" and the introduction of the Queen did far more to weaken the Borg as a threat.

    Well, and then Voyager came along, with Chakotay's unintentionally(?) hilarious line: "It's not every day we go looking for a Borg cube." Sure felt like it by that point!
     
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  14. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Fantastic analysis of "Rocks and Shoals' - poignant and powerful on every level. DS9 at its serious best.
    And, the one comic touch was memorable--the crash landing in the water with O'Brien lamenting his torn pants. Love it.
     
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  15. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    Good thing we never saw him again! Perhaps he died honorably in the Cardassian-Klingon War.
     
  16. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Or perhaps when Martok learned how he behaved in his absence, he killed him himself.
     
  17. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The Sisko meme scene looks familiar, but I can’t place it - ?!

    I read that the “Rocks and Shoals” phrase refers to the old US naval punishment of death for causing a ship to run aground … fitting for what happens to the Jem’Hadar. Apparently the original story was inspired by a 1965 Frank Sinatra movie about a downed war plane, None but the Brave.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
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  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    For me, the Borg never quite recovered as a threat following “I, Borg.” It was a great, classic episode but Hugh was too cutesy and cuddly for my liking. I wish they’d made it a bit darker and shown him a little more traumatised after being separated from the collective. The consequences, as seen in “Descent”, really damaged them, rendering something akin to boring, mechanical Klingons. Mind you, “Descent” (part two, specifically) was just a really terrible story, badly handled on every level. The Borg were very effective in FIRST CONTACT, but I hated the Queen. And, as you say, VOYAGER quickly ran the well dry and rendered them boring and far too easily defeated. In some ways, I wish “Best of Both Worlds” had been out final Borg story.

    it’s the distracted boyfriend meme - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distracted-boyfriend_meme

    I’m starting to think there were probably very few DS9 episodes that weren’t inspired by old movies. I just found out the “Sons and Daughters” was too!
     
  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    BoBW definitely set a high bar in terms of Borg episodes and playing to what they should be. Because we did get some good stories afterward, I'm glad it wasn't their final appearance.

    I liked "I, Borg" because I thought Del Arco and the usual suspects gave great performances, and it was kind of awesome to see Guinan of all people become unhinged, and to see tension between her and Picard. And as I said, in terms of the broader Borg storyline, that episode never really needed to have any impact. At least "Descent" implied it was just the Borg on a single cube(?) who were impacted, and I like the idea of a mass of forcibly unassimilated Borg, but what they did with that concept was deeply disappointing and did both the Borg and Lore a disservice.

    Ironic that FC both strengthened and weakened them, because it made them threatening again but also made IMO a misstep with the introduction of the Queen.

    VOY could tell a good Borg story (e.g. "Scorpion", "Drone"), but for the number of encounters the ship had with the Borg it seems like a real stretch that they didn't end up assimilated or destroyed.

    Thankfully the novels, especially the Destiny trilogy, finally showed what the Borg were really capable of while also resolving their storyline.
     
  20. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Let's not forget that if that "sympathetic" Jem had been ordered by his Vorta to kill children and defenseless civilians, he would have done so without hesitation.