Sunday, February 14, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Progress"

I have a tough time reviewing progress. The writer, Peter Alan Fields, has gone on record stating the character of Mulibok, an old, stubborn farmer who refuses to vacate on area that is about to be destroyed in order to tap into a new energy source, was supposed to be a manipulative con man type playing Kira’s emotions to buy time for himself. Instead, actor Brian Keith played him as very sympathetic--an old man genuinely bonding with Kira. So in the end, when Kira burns his farm down in order to force him to leave, she look like a royal ice queen even if she is saving his life.

Not that the end result does not appeal to my sense of cynicism. Sometimes there are no good solutions to a problem. There was no other way to get Mulibok off his farm that would not involve injuring or killing him. Since he is certain to die if he stays, Kira’s solution is the most humane. Trek has famously worked the theme of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few with far more tragic consequences.

Does it work here, though? Not for me. I have said before Kira and odo swap places as my favorite character depending on which one was the central focus of the episode I have most recently seen. I have enjoyed the rare times she has gotten the spotlight in the first season, but she has mostly been relegated to bit parts with dialogue that could have been spoken by anyone. I expect a better episode when the focus is fully on her. It does not happen for me here. Maybe it is because of the disconnect between the scripted Mulibok and Keith’s interpretation that does the story in. I do not know, but the thing neither sings nor dances for me.

I am disappointed by the “B” story as well. It is another Jake and Nog scam. This time, they are trying to turn a profit off a shipment of a practically worthless Cardassian condiment. Because it is a Jake/Nog match up right after another, far better oe in “The Storyteller,” it falls flat. perhaps if the two stories had been spaced out further, it ight have fared better since the two could not be readily compared.

To sum up, the episode does not fly because of missed opportunities. But the final product cannot be excused just because the mistakes made as clear as day.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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