Friday, February 12, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Battle Lines"

I am going to have to violate the maxim de mortis nil nisi bonum, but Hillary J. Bader wrote some of the worst episodes of TNG like “The Loss” and “Dark Page.” Her track record does not improve much for DS9. Or VOY, for that matter, but she only contributed one script for that series. “Battle Lines” is the first of her two DS9 efforts. All I can say for it is we are getting the worse of the pair out of the way now. We get a fairly significant breather before arriving at the second.

The main problem is the same one I discussed with “Move Along Home.” “Battle Lines” tries to be a TOS episode in a DS9 world. While I killed “Move Along home” with faint praise for possessing some absurd elements that were fun to watch, “Battle Lines” will not be so lucky.

The plot revolves around the command staff, sans Dax and O’Brien, traveling in the Gamma Quadrant with Kai Opkaka. They crash on a moon where two sides, the Emmis and the Not-Emmis, are fighting a war no one can quite define. Opaka is killed in the crash, but soon resurrects. Everyone then realizes no one can die on this moon, so the war continues on into perpetuity because of a clannish, eye for an eye principle. Worse yet, once you die, you cannot leave the moon, so Opaka is stuck there even when Dax and O’Brien come rescue the others. Opaka is happy to stay behind anyway, much to the excessively distraught Kira, because she believes shecan broker a lasting peace.

I cannot do justice to how you get beat over the head with the ’all war is pointless” message during “Battle Lines.” Not only do I not buy that as a general principle in reality--war has solved a lot of problems over the millennia--but it does not jibe with the overall theme of Ds9. This is most likely the one episode of the series that does not have Gene Roddenberry’s ashes smoldering across the Pacific Ocean. Although the idea that a kai, a person with a religious title based loosely on Catholic Church officials, is brokering a peace might be enough to burn his atheist biscuits. I do not know.

But everything else could have fit right in on TOS. A shittlecraft carrying Kirk, Spock, mcCoy, Chekov, and a Vulcan ambassador for whom Spock has much respect crashes on a moon. The ambassador dies. Before anyone can morn, the crew is attacked by Ughhs and Not-Ughs, two races who are fighting each other because one of them is navy and the other is baby blue. The Vulcan ambassador revives ad everyone realizes no one can die here or leave once they have been killed, so the war will continue into perpetuity. Scotty comes to the rescue, the Vulcan ambassador decides he is content to stay and negotiatea lasting peace. The emotionless Spock still seems sad at the prospect. Kirk gets his shirt ripped somewhere along the line.

So what I mean? it is almost like someone took an un-produced TOS script and changed the names. It does not work here. Deep Space Nine is too different a series. Unless you are an absolute completes or have a bigger attachment to TOS than I do , I would skip it, if for no other reason than the absurd notion the main characters keep getting into life and death scuffles, but only the only recurring character who dies is the most expendable. How terribly predictable.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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