Saturday, April 10, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Explorers"

As is usually the case with DS9, the show features a smaller, more personal episode after an intense story arc in order to defuse tension. I am often wary of them. Deep Space Nine has a great track record for character driven stories when said characters are driven up a tree and then have rocks thrown at them, but not so much when the story is a slice of life. Fortunately, “Explorers” is one of the better ones. The episode features the bonding of two relationships: Sisko/Jake and O’Brien/Bashir.

I noted when I started reviewing DS9 that oe of its virtues was the show featured healthy family relationships. Looking back over previous Trek, that is a rare occurrence, particularly concerning father/son relationships. Outside of Sisko and Jake, I am hard pressed to name one. I am not even big on the Worf and Alexander dynamic, as you may recall from the TNG reviews. But Sisko and his son is near perfect.

When Sisko decides to attempt to prove an ancient Bajoran solar powered ship could have made it to Cardassian space log before warp drive was invented, Jake is cajoled into coming along. The trip, despitea setback or two, turns out to be a much better father/son outing than the planetary survey undertaken in “The Jem Ha’Dar.” Jake reveals that he has gotten into a prestigious school back on earth, but will defer for a year because hedoes not want to leave his widowed father aloe. He also hints at wanting to play matchmaker between Sisko and freighter captain Cassidy Yates to fil the void once he does leave.

No hint od teenage rebellion or jealousy over another woman in a possible relationship with his father. How refreshing is that?

On the flip side, we have O’Brien and Bashir. O’Brien tells Bashir at one point there is no middle of the road with him. You either love the doctor or you hate him. He is pretty much expressing the general fan sentient. The two share a bottle of alcohol and a drunken sing-a-long because Bashir is confused over the mixed signals of the latest frivolous female conquest he is pursuing. So what you have is Bashir the shallow skirt chaser deepening his bond with O’Brien. It is difficult to decide if you love or hate him at the same time..

There are no extremes for me with “Explorers.” It is in the good, but not great category. I do not dislike it, but it is not my cup of tea. I do breathe a sigh of relief it is a notch or three above similar episodes in the series, so I give it some kudos for that.

Also for tossing in Dukat. He is a bit wasted here, serving only as a greeter to Sisko’s ship when it arrives in Cardassian space, but it does add to the complexity of the character. Dukat is one of the best villains in Trek because he can credibly go fro uneasy ally to psychopathic villain with each appearance. He is much like Michael Emerson’s Ben Linus from Lost in that regard. Emerson won an Emmy for his role. Too bad Marc Alaimo never got the recognition he deserved.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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