My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

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

  1. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I Borg did what it needed to do, IMO. The crew was predisposed to resist empathizing with the Borg, to let them suffer for the suffering that they themselves had caused.There was no reason to believe that somone so long gone could have come back from being a Borg. A naive Hugh makes sense, although perhaps not as innocent written.

    I wasn't terribly impressed by Hugh in I Borg, but throughout all his appearances, it was a great character. Indeed, Jonathan Del Arco was the standout performance of Picard (and I wish he were the recovered Borg who became part of the permanent cast, not that other one).
     
  2. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Hugh is human yet he must have been assimilated long before "Q Who?", so he in fact poses the same problem as Seven.
     
  3. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was speaking at the beginning of Q Who, from the perspective of the crew, not in hindsight. (I'm sure we all agree that the Enterprise crew had no knowledge of a show called Star Trek: The Next Generation?)
     
  4. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    I get the feeling that we're speaking at cross purposes here.
     
  5. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “SONS AND DAUGHTERS”

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    “What do you mean you don’t recognise me?! Just because I’ve aged about ten years in the past three and look and sound like a completely different person! Worst father EVER!”

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    *Whispers to Martok* “I STILL have no idea who he is...”


    Well, colour me disappointed. DS9 remains my favourite Star Trek series (along with TOS), but consistency wasn’t always its strong point, so it was perhaps only inevitable the writers would drop the ball somewhere in this seven episode arc. I really don’t know what they were thinking here. Yes, it was inevitable the Alexander issue would have to be addressed at some point (unfortunate as that is given how grating the character could be). Alas, why they thought THIS was the time for some insipid soap opera, right bang in the middle of a gripping multi-episode storyline, I have no idea. While the B-plot is stronger, “Sons and Daughters” still manages to grind the arc’s momentum to a halt.

    In all honesty, I find the Worf/Alexander plot tedious to sit through and, uncommonly for DS9, it features some particularly bad writing (I think this was the moment I realised that Bradley Thompson and David Weddle were the weak links in the writing staff). Alexander’s arc in this episode is an incoherent mess that blatantly disregards just about everything we knew about the character from TNG. In fact, TNG’s “Firstborn” was one of the better efforts in the show’s final season and provided some effective closure for the character, giving us a glimpse into his future, in which he grows up to be James Sloyan (and, frankly, who could hope for more?). Given that one of the DS9’s own writing staff actually wrote that episode (step forward Rene Echevarria) you’d think there would have been a greater sense of consistency and coherence here.

    But, no. The character’s motivations are never explored. What in the name of Kahless is he doing on the Rotarran? It surely must be sheer chance because there’s no way a lowly grunt could request which ship he is posted to. Alexander never had ANY interest in becoming a warrior—in fact, quite the contrary, it was made explicitly clear on TNG that he didn’t want to embrace his Klingon heritage. Worf actually made peace with that, with the two coming to fairly good terms. So, what gives? Is Alexander trying to prove something to Worf, or trying to get back at him? Who knows! All he basically does is spurt some crappy, petulant lines like, “well if I get killed by the Jem’Hadar I’ll be dead and you will be happy. Now leave me alone!”

    The resolution is frustrating because things just somehow fizzle out. Alexander gets locked in engineering and then, all of a sudden, he seems to have forgiven his father and ends up being initiated into the House of Martok in a truly tedious closing scene. How does that actually resolve anything, and what will become of him? Alexander isn’t even treated as a character here; he’s just a plot device whose decisions and behaviour seem hazy and irrational. We get the basic idea: Worf has been a terrible father and Alexander is pissed about it. But it’s handled so weakly, I truly didn’t care.

    The episode suffers poor writing, unimpressive directing (even the action scenes fell flat this week) and while Michael Dorn acquits himself reasonably well given the substandard material, Marc Worden doesn’t do a particularly good job as Alexander Mark III. If you’re going to recast a character, there should at least be some attempt to make it seem like we’re watching the same character. Worden’s voice and mannerisms were completely different to Brian Bonsall’s and he never once conveyed the sense it was the same character. Furthermore, his rapid ageing stretches credulity to breaking point. Here he seems as though he’s about twenty years old, but in chronological terms, Alexander couldn’t be more than ten years old at MOST. Yeah, maybe Klingons age faster than humans, but this needed to be addressed at some point instead of just hoping the audience wouldn’t notice.

    The best I can say is that J.G. Hertzler is, as always, a joy to watch and he shines even when delivering some stupid lines (such as the classic “when a father and son do not speak it means there is trouble between them.” You THINK, General Obvious?). Oh, and this episode would have benefited by keeping some of the Rotarran crew we got to meet in “Soldiers of the Empire”. Alas, we’re back to generic cookie-cutter Klingon characters. Speaking of cliches, another Klingon episode means another fight in the mess hall! It’s a wonder these guys ever manage to eat anything at all. They all must suffer chronic indigestion.

    The station plot is much more engaging, even though I do have some issues with it, too. Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo are on top form as always, although I do somehow feel this should maybe have come before Kira’s watershed moment in the previous episode. Seeing her almost semi-charmed by Dukat and, for a brief moment, considering accepting a dress he sent her seemed like a step backward for the character. Why would she let her guard down around this narcissist creep when she’d already resolved to lead the resistance against him? I can buy her friendship with Ziyal and the resultant conflict, but I just don’t see Kira letting herself get on even slightly friendly terms with Dukat. That ship should have long sailed. Speaking of which, Ziyal’s naïveté in this episode is off the scale, but I shouldn’t criticise her given that in my early twenties I was probably just as naive, optimistic and idealistic. She seemed altogether too quick to forgive Dukat for ditching her and leaving her to die with everyone else in “By Inferno’s Light”. But, yeah...it’s really no surprise she has daddy issues given who her daddy IS. It really is a toxic relationship, and although Dukat does seem to have some genuine affection for her, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had deliberately patched up their relationship simply to get closer to Kira.

    Overall, this is a disappointingly weak entry. It’s rather painful when this show lurches from a bona fide masterpiece to bland soap opera in the space of a single episode. Fortunately, things will quickly pick up again. Rating: 5
     
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  6. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Agreeing with all the points in the review…Alexander’s incredible growth spurt, no explanation for changing his mind about becoming a warrior…. if he was so very inept, how did he even get enlisted? Was he trying to commit suicide by locking himself in engineering, or was it just more bungling? Too bad the scene with Kira and Damar had to be cut...wish they’d omitted the Klingon palm-slicing ritual instead.

    I didn't mind that the episode doesn't advance the war arc, but it could have been alot better. Maybe something more on Jake's new role. Both Marc Worden and Melanie Smith seemed unimpressive.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
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  7. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Great review.

    I think you are right about Weddle and Thompson being the weak link... though they definitely improved for BSG, as they penned some really good ones.

    Regarding Kira... I'm not sure we can fault the writers too much here. This episode was filmed before "ROCKS AND SHOALS". Her arc here makes better sense if it aired as produced. By the time the realities of producing that episode came up, it was likely too late to change much more than the teaser with Sisko and company with this one. This was their first experiment in doing such a large arc, so there were bound to be hiccups. This was the biggest one, but not enough to hurt the whole.

    Alexander... there's growth spurts, and then there's Alexander. Not really explained, but that is the least of this episode's problem. I hate saying this, but the Klingon portion of this episode is a slog to go through. (Though the wonderful 'Martokism' always invites laughter.)

    They clearly needed a 'son' portion for the title, but you are right that it could have been a showcase for Jake... though it would be thematically difficult since Ben couldn't be on the station at this time.

    I think I would rate it a 5, but mostly because of the station side of things.
     
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  8. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Great review! The episode on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired.

    True, Kira letting her guard down with Dukat is more than a bit of a stretch.

    Alexander is insufferable. Worf is right, his son is not warrior material. He shouldn't be trusted with a butter knife, let alone with any kind of weapon.
     
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  9. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Alexander's plots were terrible and including him in DS9 was just...poor choices.

    Dukat and Kira bother me less largely because I think that Kira allowed her softness towards Ziyal briefly color her attitude towards Dukat. It sounds stupid but I actually find their sparring more interesting than a lot of other relationships in Trek.

    But, yeah, this episode usually doesn't get a rewatch from me.
     
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  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “BEHIND THE LINES”

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    “Baby you melt my heart! And my hands, and my toes, and my everything...”

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    “Get a room, you guys.”


    I’m happy to say that “Behind the Lines” marks a return to form for this multi-episode arc, if not quite to its previous dizzying heights.

    For the first time this season, most of the action takes place aboard the station and, as before, it’s utterly compelling watching what constitutes the “new normal” of daily life aboard the station. The episode begins, of course, with Kira’s resistance handiwork as the Cardassians and Jem’Hadar come to blows in Quark’s. I’m a little torn about this sequence. While on the one hand it’s neatly staged and quite fun to watch, the way Kira and Rom narrate what’s happening as they watch from the balcony is too heavily stylised to feel natural. It’s basically an exposition dump for the sake of the viewer and it strikes me as unwise for them to be saying all this stuff aloud because it’s basically a complete confession that they’re the leaders of a resistance movement. This is a public space and they could have been overheard by anyone, including any Cardassians or Jem’Hadar who happened to be lurking about the second level.

    More interesting is the conflict this causes with our resident Changeling. Indeed, the core of the episode is the fractious relationship between Odo and Kira, with things considerably complicated by the arrival of the female Founder, played to malevolent perfection by Salome Jens. It’s deeply unsettling watching Odo being so thoroughly manipulated and corrupted by this dangerous tyrant, who has no qualms about exploiting his feelings for Kira and his loneliness and need for connection...and, well, Changeling sex. It’s almost like seeing someone get hooked on drugs, and the Link certainly seems to have a narcotic effect on Odo, which may explain his later actions. Things get quite ambiguous by the end with regards to Odo’s motivation and his reason for betraying Kira. Did the Founder basically Link Odo’s brains out? Is he so overcome by post-coital bliss that he lost all sense of perspective? Or is the Founder subtly controlling and manipulating him through the Link? My feeling is Odo was not in full control of his faculties, but that doesn’t excuse the seriousness of his actions, or, rather, inaction.

    Personally, I found this quite a slow episode in terms of pacing, and it’s only in the final act when things really heat up. It’s worth it alone for the shocking finale which seems to change everything for Odo as a character and his relationship with Kira. Watching this in retrospect, however—with the knowledge that things will be resolved in an unsatisfactory off-screen conversation three episodes later—does blunt the impact considerably. But it’s still nicely done, with Nana Visitor expertly conveying Kira’s rage and sense of betrayal and hurt. It’s a testament to Rene Auberjonois that Odo doesn’t become altogether unlikable after he slips into sociopath mode following his three day Changeling sexy-time binge. As mentioned, Salome Jens is superbly creepy and unsettling as the Founder, a character that surely ranks as one of Trek’s most effective and underrated villains.

    One of the high points of the episode is seeing Quark gradually come to the realisation that he has to take a stand despite his earlier statement that he can happily live with the new status quo. I really enjoy Quark’s character journey through this multi-episode arc and, even though Armin Shimmerman doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, he absolutely aces the material he does get. A perfect example is the delightful scene where he drunkenly gatecrashes the resistance meeting (after pressuring Damar into getting drunk and perhaps kickstarting his alcoholism). Rom is also a surprisingly effective element in the mix and it’s wonderful to behold how much he’s grown as a character since the show’s early days.

    The B-plot sees Sisko promoted to a desk job at the starbase and finding it difficult watching the Defiant head off into battle without him. It’s decent stuff, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and is undercut by the fact that Sisko will be back in command of the Defiant by the end of the following episode. This renders the plot a little redundant, and I couldn’t help but wish we’d instead gotten to see Dax’s first command mission. But, I guess the writers had to watch their budget and save some dollars for the epic battles ahead. I’m not sure if I cared for the power cell pep-talk ritual, which didn’t seem terribly Starfleet-y to me, but I guess a captain still has to factor crew morale into the equation, particularly in times like these. It’s great to see Dax in command, even if she doesn’t deliver the speech nearly as well as Sisko did.

    Overall, a solid (excuse the pun) if unevenly paced episode which builds to a brilliant and dramatic final act. Definitely a sharp step up in quality from the preceding episode and provides a sense of forward progression. Rating: 8
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  11. Vash

    Vash Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Another excellent review. What a gripping episode, so well acted and directed. Really liked Quark and Rom here, as well as Dax’s successful mission. But it is SO distressing to see Odo betraying his promise, his friends, jeopardizing the entire alpha quadrant, to link with the female changeling again. How did she know exactly when to link, to destroy the commitment he’d made with Kira and Rom?

    It is also intriguing to ponder what the link parallels in earth experience, if anything - sexual ecstasy, a drug high, union with the divine, or all of the above. LeVar Burton states, "Those are love scenes. She was seducing him, plain and simple." According to Auberjonois, "I think it has some kind of sexual implications. It is definitely a very sensual experience. For Odo, it is absolutely the consummation of a kind of peace that he can't have." To me, it seems that if the linking was sexual in nature, Odo would not have responded to Kira in such a calm, detached manner. ..more like he was looking down from a cerebral “higher plane of existence.”

    DS9 clearly endorses Kira’s active resistance rather than Odo’s passive collusion / complicity, in the face of a fascist takeover…in the 90’s this must have seemed a reference to WW2 and the Holocaust, but it’s a timeless threat, e.g. white supremacist nationalism and continued assaults on democracy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
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  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Man, I still remember the dread I felt watching this episode. From the moment the Female Shapeshifter shows up it's a slow moving diaster-in-progresss where you hope things won't go the way everything is hinting they will.

    I don't think the Female Shapeshifter either knew or cared about the sabotage attempt, though I suppose it's possible she deliberately linked with Odo to distract him at the crucial moment.
     
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  13. Farscape One

    Farscape One Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Grear review, as always!

    There definitely seems to be a sexual connation to linking, but I'm actually more inclined to use an episode from DISCOVERY as a counter to that. Saru once was freed from his perpetual fear, and it gave him almost the same sense of peace and ecstasy that we see Odo have when linking. Other examples would be how Borg drones react when hesring the collective calling them. It seems very seductive to them. Such a collective mental gathering must be extremely enticing. In some ways, the Borg and the Changelings are the exact same.

    It's still a seduction, but as I've gotten older, I don't think it's sexual. People can still be seduced by things not related to sex. The Dark Side of the Force in STAR WARS, for instance.

    And Kira's anger when she storms to Odo's quarters... that was one of the most oozing angry moments I've ever seen in television. Magnificently done. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the other side of that door...

    One of Rene Echevarria's strengths is doing completely character driven episodes, which is why it's perfect having him do this one right before retaking DS9. Also not a coincidence that a lot of his episodes center on Odo. "IMPROBABLE CAUSE", "CROSSFIRE", "THE MUSE", "THE BEGOTTEN", "A SIMPLE INVESTIGATION", "CHIMERA", and this one.

    I'll give this one an 8.
     
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  14. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    @ananta: Great review!

    It doesn't take much to turn Odo into a traitor. He seems like someone who's hopped up on happy pills. Things like this are why I don't consider Odo to be a consistent Character which is of course no reflection on Auberjonois who's a very competent actor. It's how he's written.

    What could possibly excuse his behavior here?
     
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  15. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Finally feeling like he belongs. People often underestimate that power of belonging.
     
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  16. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    I think the Female Shapeshifter timed their linking to distract Odo, although she did want to link with him anyway to find out what he knew and help lure him back to the great link.
     
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  17. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    He's betrayed everything he's believed in for many years, including a woman he's madly in love with, a woman his counterpart killed 8000 people to keep alive!!! all of that for that feeling... Not plausible.
     
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  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Completely plausible if one has felt an outsider all of their lives and someone finally offers that feeling. Especially given that it is a part of the Founders nature. In humans that desire is very strong. Founders might be even more intensely aware of that need to belong. Especially given the history with the "Solids."

    I get the analogs to drugs, but I think gangs and cults could have a similar comparison with Odo. At least, that was my take.
     
  19. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Believe what you will but personally, I don't think it's plausible. Just I don't see how Kira can ever forgive what he did here, given how strongly she feels about collaborators ( She almost murdered her OWN MOTHER!!!), and yet she'll forgive Odo just like that!
    This is just inconsistent shallow writing...
     
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  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Obviously.

    But, humans are strange creatures, and the research around interpersonal neurobiology, and the like, sheds light that belonging and being accepted are powerful motivators, at least from my research and work. So, do I find it improbable? Yeah, a little bit. But, is it possible? Also yes because Odo is getting something he has long sought after, and manipulated in the process.

    It's not a black or white, on/off thing. It's layered.