Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Move Along Home"

“Move Along Home” has a reputation for being one of the worst episodes of DS9. I will agree it has some serious issues, but like “Spock’s Brain,” some absurd moments make it a spectacle to watch. It reminds me a lot of some o the more high concept installments of TOS. Sometimes those worked (“Shore Leave,” “The Squire of Gothos”) and sometimes they did not (“Catspaw,” “The Savage Curtain.”) Early on, TNG attempted to copy the feel of TOS’ episodes like those, but with the poor character development, the charm just was not there. With DS9, the characters have more personality at this point than did their TNG counterparts. It almost saves them from the strange concept.

The episode was intended to bean homage to The Prisoner with its weird plots and even weirder settings. I have never been augean of The Prisoner, but I can see the resemblance. Perhaps part of the problem with “Move Along Home” is that not enough DS9 got the perils of Number Six.

The episode begins with afirst contact situation with the Wadi. They are the first official contact with a species from the Gamma Quadrant other than Tosk and his hunters. The Wadi have n patience for any of the formal trappings of first contact. Somehow, they have heard about Quark’s. all they want to do is play games in his bar.

They do so all night long until they catch Quark trying to cheat them. In response, they force him to play one of their games involving game pieces in a multi-leveled board. Each one of the pieces represents a member of the command staff: Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Bashir. They are kidnapped and trapped in a giant maze. Unbeknownst to Quark, he is determining their fate by his moves.

Or something like that. There is a logical disconnect between what is being said during the game and what is happening in the maze. The command staff work their way through the maze, overcoming number of obstacles, that do not relate to anything Quark has done. They might as well be going through the maze, figuring out things as they go along, without Quark. The only time he seems to have control is when a roll of the dice forces him to sacrifice Bashir.

The obstacles involve a a locked room filling with poison gas, floating energy balls which remided me of Phantasm, falling rocks striking a narrow walkway of a cliff, and, in a scene that must be seen to be believed, a game of hopscotch in order to pass an invisible barrier. Thankfully, a YouTube user agreed the scene is too surreal not to share with the world:Note Nana Visitor looksat the camera as she is hopping along as if to say, “I cannot believe I am doing this, either.”

Absurd moments, no doubt, ut it is the characterizations that really get me. From Bashir shrieking like scream queen when he first arrives in the maze to dax, with an injured ankle claiming she would leave Sisko behind if he was injured, so he needs to go on without her, to Odo reluctantly blowing on the dice for luck, and Quark literally groveling so he does not have to choose another to sacrifice, the characters are so out of their normal ways, it is laughable.

I will concede one point--Quark takes a heroic turn here. Once he realizes he controls the fate of the command staff, he does all he can to save them. It is great how he can believably be a hardened criminal in one episode and a heroic guy you are heroic for in the next. He is the only redeeming feature of “Move Alog Home.”

In the end, we learn it really is just a game. No one was in danger, so all the drama and over the top dialogue meant nothing. It is a big letdown. The final nail is this lackluster episode’s coffin. It is fun to watch once, but that is about all you can stand.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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