Monday, May 31, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Children of Time"

I am the first one to admit DS9 uses the concept of time travel too much. “Children of Time” is the eighth such instance and the third of the fifth season alone. There is not much room to complain about it here, though. “Children of Time” is oe of the best episodes of the series.

The Defiant investigates strange energy readings over a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. They discover the planet is inhabited by their descendants and a two hundred years older Odo. . In two days time, there is going to bean accident which will send the ship back two hundred years in time, marooning them there in the process.

As they plan out a way to prevent the crash from happening, the crew bond with their descendents. Eventually, they come to realize they have to go through with the crash as originally occurred so that al these people can live. There is one catch--kira does not survive.

She decides to sacrifice herself so the rest may live. But when they go through all the proper motions to recreate the crash, it does not happen. Our odo comes to Kira’s quarters later to confess the other Odo sabotaged the plan so she would not have to die. He says he committed the act out of love, but kira is aghast 8,000 people were wiped out of existence in her name.

I have mixed feelings about it myself. I am still in the camp Odo loves Kira een though the writers have been shifting away from the idea since “Shakaar.” Odo is still profoundly lonely regardless, but he has always tried to fill that lonely void with the pursuit of justice. Somehow, sacrificing 8,000 people--an unjust act-- for a love he can never have does not seem like something Odo would do.

Perhaps the intervening two hundred years changed his attitude or seeing Kira again after all that time affected him deeply. Whichever the case, his decision is bitterly tragic. The emotional impact offers “Children of Time” a boost above most other episodes.

Ratings: **** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Soldiers of the Empire"

So what is Klingon therapy like? “Soldiers of the Empire” demonstrates.

Martok is given his first assignment since his imprisonment. He is given command of a ship ordered to find a missing Bird-of-Prey. Martok offers Worf the first officer role. Because the two made a ’warrior spirit’ connection while they were prisoners of the Jem Ha’Dar, Worf feels compelled to accept. Dax cannot resist being a tag along, so she signs up, too.

Unfortunately, the crew is demoralized because of a string of defeats they have suffered from the Jem Ha’Dar over the last seven months. Worse yet, Martok is gun shy about fighting battles since his capture. Even though the crew desperately needs a victory, Martok avoids the opportunity to strike, preferring instead to sneak round enemy ships.

The crew’s frustration collides with Martok’s timidity, erupting into a near mutiny. In order to build Martok up as a confident leader, Worf challenges him, but lets martok win the battle. With his fire restored, Martok defeats the Jem Ha’Dar in battle and rescues the crew of the missing Bird-of-Prey.

Later, worf admits he was not certain I Martok would kill him for issuing the challenge. Martok is grateful for Worf’s assistance in finding himself again. He offers Worf a chance to join his house. Worf readily accepts.

“Soldiers of the Empire” is pretty much a TNG episode set on a Klingon ship. It is as squishy and sensitive as Klingon-centric stories can get,. Therefore, it is a bit od, too. Not bad, but still strange.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Ferengi Love Songs"

“Ferengi Love Songs” is another sitcom-style effort in Trek, but it is saved from being terribly embarrassing by featuring Quark’s family.

Quark is depressed about his lowly lot I life thanks to losing his business license, so he goes home to see his mother. He discovers she has not only been carrying on an affair with the Grand Nagus, but she has been supplying him with better financial advice than he could ever muster on his own. Quark’s archenemy, brut, discovers the affair and offers quark a new business license if he breaks them up. Quark does. Asa result, the economy is ruined as well the his mother’s heart is broken.

Feeling guilty, Quark admits what he has done and fixes it all. Things return to normal with Quark’s mother secretly managing the Ferengi economy.

I the B-story, Rom and Leeta decide to get married. I do not even want to think about it or blood will spurt out of my nose.

“Ferengi Love Songs” is frivolous fun unlike most anything else done in Trek. A nice change of pace, but only if one is partial to the tone of Ferengi-centric stories.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Ties of Blood and Water"

“Ties of Blood and Water” is a sequel to the third season episode ‘Second Skin” in which Kira was genetically altered to become the long lost daughter of a prominent, Ghamor, in order to expose him as a member of the dissident movement. He and Kira bonded in the ordeal. Since then, they have served as surrogate family for one another.

In this episode, Kira brings him to DS9 in order to gather intelligence on the dissident movement since the Dominion takeover. Ghamor is dying, so he quickly has to impart all that he knows to Kira. As he does, Dukat and Weyoun arrive on DS9 to demand his extradition.

The story continues Dukat’s slide towards villainy after a long stretch of shades of grey in his morality. He and Kira have gone back to a personal animosity in which Dukat gets a perverse pleasure--words chosen deliberately, considering his physical attraction for her-- in tormenting her. Attempting to separate her from her surrogate father here is one of the most brutal.

He nearly succeeds by exposing Ghamor’s involvement in a monastery massacre during the occupation. Kira as appalled. She thought Ghamor was different than other Cardassians. Dax convinces her that no matter what he has done, he does not deserve to die aloe. Kira thinks back to how her father died alone because she was off on a terrorist raid and decides she cannot let Ghamor die without ’family’ present.

I suppose it is a sweet sentiment, but given the parallels between the nazis and Jews so often alluded to in the Cardassian/Bajoran relationship, I cannot help but think kira’s decision is like a Holocaust survivor befriended the Nazis who violently put down the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Sometimes forgiveness seems like a betrayal to those who have been wronged. Perhaps that feeling is a moral failing, but I have doubts.

Ghamor dies. Kira buries him o Bajor next to her father to keep Dukat from gaining any political advantage from bringing the body back to Cardassia. Again, that is awkward. Kira’s father died because of his imprisonment by Cardassians. He is probably rolling over in his grave in consideration of his new neighbor.

Weyoun makes a return appearance. The writers decided the Vorta clone themselves as a means of bringing back Jeffrey Combs to play the role. We have to overlook the fact that multiple cloning degrades each additional copy, but I am willing to do so since Weyound is such a amusing character.

“Ties of Blood and Water’ is not a bad episode. I can appreciate what the writers were trying to do with it, but I find the continued relationship between Kira and Ghamor, considering his atrocity, too disturbing to appreciate the message that anyone can be forgiven. Like I said above, maybe it isa personal failure, but I think the concept was a misfire.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Business as Usual"

“Business as Usual” pulls double duty. It is a Quark Actually Has a Conscience and an O’Brien Must Suffer episode. Quark’s story is good as usual. The O’Brien B-story tries a little too hard to be cute, but I ca handle it.

The episode also marks the third time an actor from Rambo: First Blood, Part II appears on DS9. This time, it is Steven Berkoff, who played Padovsky in Rambo. The other two are Charles Napier, who played Murdock in the movie and appeared in ’Little Green Men” and Julia Nickson, who played Co in the movie and appeared in “Paradise.” I am sure they are all very proud of this intersection.

Word travels fast that Quark’s bad investments have left him nearly broke, so his cousin shows up to offer him a job as an arms dealer. One never goes broke dealing in weapons. Quark agrees, but gets in way too deep when he is to sell weapons with which his buyer plans to kill 28 million people. There are limits to Quark’s greed, so he stops the deal and exposes the genocide plot.

In the B-story, O’Brien cannot get Kirayoshi to sleep without his mother there, so he has to hold him constantly, even at work, to keep him from crying. Only Worf is able to placate the baby. Did not see that coming after Worf’s bad reaction to taking care of data’s cat in TNG, did you? Yeah, I figured you did.

We get further proof in “Business as Usual” that quark has a certain moral center. It is always good when his character is fleshed out to be more than a greedy crook or comic relief.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"A Simple Investigation"

“A Simple Investigation” is another bittersweet of Odo trying to find love, but not quite making it. Some of these episodes are tough to watch because they hit close to home. This one does not resonate with me as much as some of the others like “Heart of Stone” have. Trek just does not do romance very well. It doesrise above “Let He Who is Without Sin…” but pretty much anything short of being dragged naked across gravel by a speeding train would.

Odo has to protect a woman from a murder plot. As he does, he slowly falls in love with her. You know it is desperate because he goes to Bashit for advice. Bashir, being the reckless type, advises him to go for it with any consideration for professional ethics. His rationale is Odo should not fear the pain of rejection, because if he goes through life avoiding rejection, the pain of loneliness will cripple him.

So he does go for it and they wind up in bed together. Not Odo and Bashir. Odo and Ailissa. It comes across as kid of sweet. Odo has never done it before, so he feels compelled to sheepishly ask if he did it well. But I could not help but recall that Odo--how can I put this discreetly?--does not have the equipment for the job naturally, so he had to form one. Is that not…awkward? It casts this odd pall over the scene.

The romance cannot last. the science fiction twist is that Ailissa is not the woman’s real name, face, or identity. When the investigation has concluded, she returns to normal--a married woman who does not love Odo. Talk about getting the rug cruelly yanked out from under you. Or in this case, a pretty woman yanked out from under you. Literally, as it were.

The intended emotional impact just was not there for me. I have two problems with the episode, aside from the logistics of the sex scene. One, it would have been more poignant if Odo had his relationship with Ailissa when he was human. Falling in love would have made his experience as a human more poignant. Two, the episode impies that he no longer loves Kira. I do not buy it. Too many little instances, even as she is in a relationship with Shakaar, say otherwise. Ultimately, he does win her affection, but I prefer to think he was carrying a torch all along.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"

Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time, I am not a Bashir fan. But in “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” there are two redeeming factors. One, Robert Picardo makes a appearance as Lewis Zimmerman, the creator and model for the Emergency Medical Holograms. Ricardo is always a joy. He is also stands head and shoulders above anyone on his regular show, VOY. Two, we finally learn why Bashir is such an arrogant jackass.

Zimmerman comes to DS9 in order to model the latest version of the EMH after Bashir. As we will later see, the idea is abandoned in order to model the latest EMH after Andy Dick. Apparently, the federation has its own version of ObamaCare which kicked in around the 24th century, so that is about the best quality of medical care around. Scary thought.

Zimmerman wants to know all about Bashir’s past so he can fully program the EMH with Bashir’s personality. But Basir is not very forthcoming, particularly about his childhood. Zimmerman decides to invite basher’s parents to DS9 to interview them. Bashir is not happy to see them and for good reason. They brig the secret with them that Bashir is genetically enhanced.

He was not a good student as a child, but rather than let him fall behind in his studies, his parents secretly sent him to a specialist to have his genetically altered to metal and physical perfection. Such is illegal in the Federation, but his father takes full responsibility and goes to jail forth crime so Bashir can remain in Starfleet.

No explanation is given why children were being genetically engineered in TNG’s “Unnatural Selection,” but one suspects that was part of Gene Roddenberry’s often conflicted view of utopia. If man had become perfect morally in the 24th century, he must have been genetically perfect as well. Very fascist viewpoint and one subsequent Trek writers pretend never existed. Wise move.

Having Bashir be genetically enhanced was never part of the long term plan One suspects tons of continuity errors throughout the series up util this point which are best let unexamined.

Rom and Leeta inexplicably hook up in this episode. Grab your barf bags.

“Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” is not bad for a Bashir-centric installment. At least it does bother to explain why he acts as insufferably as he does. One has to excuse the contradiction on genetica engineering’s status with ’Unnatural Selection,” but since I disliked that episode--mostly because Pulaski did not die in it--I can forgive it. Like I said above, the addition of Picardo makes everything better

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"By Inferno's Light"

“By Inferno’s Light’ is the conclusion of the two part re-emergence of the Dominion as the major villains of DS9. It is the biggest escalation since the third season and something of a course correction after the whole Klingon-Federation conflict that just sort of limped along there for awhile. As such, it has a lot to accomplish I ashort period of time.

The episode runs through three stories. One, the Dominion fleet that came through the wormhole in the cliffhanger is heading for Cardassia. Dukat has arranged for Cardassia to join the Dominion while he takes over the government himself. Two, the Changeling posing as Bashir puts his plan into motion of luring the entire Federation-Klingon fleet into a massive star explosion that will destroy them and the entire Bajoran system. Finally, Worf, Garak, the real Bashi, and Martok facilitate a prison break.

The results are Cardassia becomes the foothold for the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant, the Changeling dies while failing to destroy the fleet, and everyone escapes the Dominion prison for a hero’s welcome home. Gowron resigns the Kkitimer Accord reestablishing the Klingon alliance with the Federation and appoints Martok head of the permanent imperial military presence on DS9.

It is an exciting episode that sets up much of the story arc that will carry through the rest of the series. But it lacks a lot of hart. There is a brief attempt to add dimension to the Jem Ha’Dar when one refuses to fight Worf any further in sporting combat because he realizes killing him would not defeat his spirit, but that is about it. The episode isall about foreshadowing worse things to come. It could have been better, it could have been worse.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"In Purgatory's Shadow"

“In Purgatory’s Shadow” and the next episode are an attempt to recapture the feel of “Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast” with mized success. But I think that is only because the bar is set so high.

The Federation has decided to seal off the wormhole. Garak, still holding out hope of finding survivors from the failed joint Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar attack on the Founders, heads into the Gamma Quadrant with Worf for one last look. The chemistry between the two is not as good as between Garak and Odo. Garak had a better connection of being exiles from home with Odo than Worf, whose honorable warrior spirit cannot connect with the sneaky, clandestine acts Garak is so found of. If their relationship was not played as comical, it would be insufferable.

The two wind up captured by the Jem Ha’dar ad taken to a secret military base ear the wormhole. There they discover the real Bashir was replaced a month prior by a Changeling and that Martok is still alive. They all know that it is imperative to escape because a military base this close to the wormhole can only mean the Dominion is preparing to invade the Alpha Quadrant.

But that is not the heart of the episode. The real heart is the interaction between parents and children. Garak discovers Tain is still alive, though he is dying. Tain finally admits he is Gara’s father before he makes Garak promise e will escape and avenge his death. Garak agrees. Back on DS9, Dukat is returning to Cardassia and wants Ziyal to return with him. she refuses, because she is waiting for Garak to return. Rntaged she has feelings for his enemy, Dukat disowns her, hinting that she has doomed herself.

We discover what he means when the wormhole opens and a huge fleet of Dominion ships enters the Alpha Quadrant

“In Purgatory’s Shadow” isa decent episode, but I have two nitpicky problems. One, why is Martok not completely dishonored by what happened to him? Supposedly, being taken as a POW is a dishonor that spans two generations in a family, but hewill still be highly honored when he returns to the Empire. Two Bashir is I one of the old style uniforms to emphasize he has been held prisoner awhile, but that also means, according to him, he fell asleep in his uniform. Is that not odd? Stranger still, the Changeling that replaced him performed brain surgery on Sisko and either would not or could not save the baby Changeling. Weird.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"For the Uniform"

“For the Uniform” is the seccod part of the unofficial Michael Eddigton Joins the Maquis Trilogy that will end with next season’s “Blaze of Glory.” The general purpose of the trilogy is to tweak the utopian ideals of Trek, not only by making Eddington a traitor to Federation philosophy, but also to show how Sisko will abandon his own moral code when he deems it necessary. His motivation is a lot more dubious here than will be in, say “In the Pale Moonlight” when he rationalizes his immoral acts as for the greater good. In “For the Uniform,” it is personal.

Sisko has spent the last eight months pursuing Eddington and the stolen replicators that were meat for Cardassia. The Maquis have been using the replicators to create biological weapons which render Cardassian planets uninhabitable. The Maquis have taken advantage of the weakened state of the Cardassian Union thanks to the Klingon invasion to put them on the run. The former Federation colonies in the DMZ are on the verge of declaring independence.

But that is the big picture. The smaller one is the most important.: Sisko v. Eddington. Sisko’s beef is obvious: someone under his command etrayed him and is currently beating him at every step. Eddington has not only eluded capture and used his stolen materiel, but he has sabotaged Sisko’s search for him and taunted for good measure. His actions reveal Eddington’s beef: heats to be a hero. He remarked to Sisko in “The Search, Part I” that he envied Sisko’s promotion to captain. Eddington is stuck as a security officer. They never become captain. So Eddington is playing out a fantasy here of being what he never could be.

The point is driven home when he sends sisko a copy of Les Miserables By Victor Hugo. Sisko takes it as a message Eddington views himself as Jean Valjean to his Javert. Javert pursued Valjean for twenty years because he stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Valjean is a folk hero, pursuing what he believes is a moral cause against all odds. Sisko that to catch Eddington, he must become Javert.

Which hedoes with reckless abandon. Sisko was taken off the Eddington pursuit because of his continued failure, but volates orders to chase after him anyway. Sisko threatens to use a biological weapon on a Maquis planet if Eddington does not surrender the replicators. Eddington insists he is bluffing--until he uses the weapon and the Maquis have to scramble for their lives. Sisko threatens to do it aain unless Eddington surrenders both the replicators and himself, which he does I pure drama queen fashion.

Interestingly enough, Sisko gets away with disobeying orders, destroying a Maquis ship with all hands aboard, and employing a biological weapon to render a planet uninhabitable, presumably killing some in the process there, too. The Federation is obviously eager to wash their hands of the Maquis problem.

“For the Uniform” is one of the best examples of exposing the folly of Gene Roddenberry’s silly idealism. It goes way over the top, particularly with Sisko’s behavior, but is a refreshing change from the bulk of Trek. Neither Sisko, nor Eddington are particularly right or wrong in their actions. They are both so blinded by their own egos, they care very little who gets hurt in their personal vendetta. The surprising part is that Sisko truly does take o the villainous role of Javert--and wins.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Begotten"

Since we seem to be shifting between focus on Odo and then Kira, how about an episode in which both their stories culminate n them both beig pseudo parents for awhile, then having it ripped from them? It isan intriguing concept considering you would never think either one is parent material.

Quark acquires what he believes is a dead Changeling ad sells it to Odo. It is a Changeling, but it is very much alive It is also a baby who has no idea it is a shape shifter. Odo decides to take it under his wing to teach it how to be a Changeling. His plan is complicated when Dr. Mora, the scientist who worked with him, shows up to ofer his insight.

The problem is that when mora did not know Odo was an intelligent life form, he used torturous means to study him. Odo still resents him for it because it has tainted his view of people. He is not going to let Mora treat this Changeling the same way.

Thus begins a thinly veiled debate about disciplining children as guidance versus time outs and the like. Odo coddles and tries to reason with the Changeling. Mora says they should give it a mild electric shock to prod it along or it will never change form. When Starfleet demands results or they will take over, Odo agrees to try it. The result is the scene above.

Odo has had nothing but animosity for Mora since his early days, but now that he has taken on a certain paternal pride in the Changeling’s response, he understands how mora must have felt when Odo changed shape for the first time. While Mora’s tough hand probably did help jade Odo, he forgives Mora.

Unfortunately, the Changeling is still sick from radiation poisoning from when he was found. It isdying. As Odo holds it I his hands, the Changeling absorbs itself into his skin, giving him back his shape shifting abilities. Odo flies around DS9 asa hawk in celebration, though he mourns the Changeling’s loss.

Kira is giving birth during all this. The shenanigans surrounding the birth serve as comic relief. In predictable fashion, the child is birth as the Changeling dies. What is unpredictable is Kira’s reaction. It is the O’Brienses’ child, but she has a hard time giving him up even though she never wanted a baby to begin with. Odo expresses his newfound empathy as they walk off together.

Usually, episodes revolving around Kira and/or Odo are my favorites. I often relate to the characters’ emotional issues, particularly when it comes to friends and lovers. But I am far from ever becoming a parent, so I just cannot relate to “The Begotten” as well as I have other similar episodes. It is not a bad episode. It is just not my thing. I do believe Mora has a point when he quotes Solomon about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. I more wonder how a Bajortan scientist has read proverbs than dwell on the concept of differing parenting styles. A timeout is for when it is 4th and Goal, not when your child is misbehaving.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The episode reminds me of Live’s "Lightening Crashes.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Darkness and the Light"

“The Darkness and the Light” is one of the most intriguing episodes of DS9 because of what it reveals about Kira’s character. Members of her old resistance cell are being killed off one by one. The assassin has an ax to grind with the cell and Kira in particular because he was collateral damage in one of their sneak attacks against the Cardassians. The thing is, she is grossly unapologetic for maiming the man. Hers is a cold reaction you do not see too often on television.

The premise of the episode is based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, aka Ten Little Indians. A murderer is picking off members of Kira’s Shakaar resistance cell and sending her a taunting countdown to mark each death. She is frustrated because her pregnancy is preventing her from going to Bajor and conducting the investigation herself.

She finally snaps when two of her friends hiding out o DS9 are killed. Stealing a list of Cardassian suspects, Kira heads off to hut them down, pregnant or not. She is ambushed and captured by prin, who turns out to be the murderer.

Ptin cleaned uniforms for a military officer responsible for killing fifteen Bajoras for not displaying the Cardassian flag outside their homes. The Skakkaar cell decided to plant a bomb at his home in revenge. Kira was ultimately responsible for the act which killed 23 people an maimed Prin. He wants them all to pay for harming the innocent.

But Kira is unapologetic. The Cardassians invaded her world, squandered the natural resources, and committed a genocide of 15 million people. None of them are innocent as far as she is concerned, even a butler with no military service. Prin considers her a criminal who must die for her crime. The thing is, they are both right and both wrong. Neither of them should have committed the acts they did. Neither one of them is a hero in any sense of the word. They are both terrorists and unapologetically so.

Contrast Kira’s attitude here with the one in “Duet” in which she realized there was such a thing as innocent bystanders. Prin negates any sympathy he might have had from Kira or the audience by murdering her friends. Or, if you want to be cynical about it, there truly are no innocent people in war.

Kira escapes by convincing Prin to spare the unborn child asan innocent. A medication she has been taking blocks out the sedative prin gave her, so she overpowers him when he suspects she is asleep. I am going to chalk Prin’s decision up as a subtle pro-life message because a similar scenario occurred on Battlestar Galactica years later. Both scripts were supervised by Ronald D. Moore.

“The Darkness and the Light” is a disturbing, but fascinating episode to watch. No one comes away unscathed or innocent. While the final exchange over the morality of war between Kira and Prin is the episode’s highlight, a closes cod is when Kira breaks down in the infirmary over her friends’ deaths. She has her back turned to Odo while relating astory about her first days in the Shakaar cell. The look on Odo’s face is one of pure, frustrated love as he cannot comfort her as a soul mate would. I many ways, it is more difficult to watch that scene than it is the climax.

On a final note, the story for “The Darkness and the Light” was conceived y Bryan Fuller. He only wrote two episodes of DS9, but it is interesting to note I cover one just days after his show Heroes is canceled by NBC.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Rapture"

“Rapture” is the final in a series of sporadic episodes in which Sisko increasingly embraces his role as the Emissary. By default, it features the most overt religious themes of the series and trek in general. Highly unusual, considering trek’s death grip on secularism as mankind’s salvation. I think it is refreshing because it is so different than anything that has come before.

Sisko requests an ancient Bajoran artifact being returned from the Cardassians to the Bajorans take a detour through the station so he can study it. Shades of Picard’s interest in archeology, but much more personal. Sisko’s attachment to the fate of Bajor has never been more clear. He becomes obsessed with studying the artifact in order to discern the location of an ancient city lost for 20,000 years.

An accident causes his senses to be heightened enough to receive what he believes are visions from the past and future. Through them, hediscovers the ancient city, solidifying his role as Emissary even to Kai Winn. But the visions are causing degenerative brain damage. He refuses surgery to repair the damage, lest he lose the visions.

Sisko eventually collapses after insisting Bajor not sign the treaty admitting them into the Federation. Even though he does not want the surgery, Jake, as his next of kin, gives Bashir consent when his father falls into a coma. Sisko is saved and even though he regrets losing the visions, is confident delaying Bajor’s entry into the Federation is the right choice.

Two points about this episode. One, Kassidy Yates returns after serving six moths for aiding the Maquis. She and the Siskos show signs of forming a happy family more prominently than ever before. Two, the grey on black uniforms make their first appearance on the series. They are my favorite style of Trek uniform. The dark colors go well with the more bleak tone of Star Trek: First Contact and the Dominion War.

I have always liked "Rapture” because it stands out so much from the rest of the series and Trek in general. It is nice to see a spiritual counterpoint presented as a positive alternative to the often obnoxious secularism trek usually preaches. Such episodes are not usually popular among fans, but I take them when I can get them.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Ascent"

It surprises me, given the popularity of Odo and Quark, it took five seasons before there was an episode exclusively centered on the two of them. They are two of my favorite characters as well, so ’The Ascent” counts as one of my favorite episodes even though time is taken up way too much with another lackluster B-story.

The two stories are supposed to complement one another. While Odo and Quark, sworn enemies, have to cooperate with one another in order to survive marooning, Jake and Nog, best friends, are at each other’s throats as roommates. The former is a revealing character study that reveals more about two good characters with banter similar to Waiting for Godot. The latter is a send up of The Odd Couple. Take a wild guess which one is more entertaining.

Full disclosure; I played Felix--minus the hypochondria. I really am ill-to my roommates Oscar. We had incidents that mirrored the one’s between Jake and Nog, so irksome memories may be the root cause of my distaste for the story. That and I do not much care for Jake and Nog as characters in the first place. Yeah, this was doomed from the beginning.

But Odo and Quark more than make up for it. Odo is giddy to learn Quark will be testifying before a grand jury. He assumes the authorities have finally caught up with the Ferengi and wants to be there to watch him squirm, so he decides to fly Quark to the hearing on a runabout. They get on each other’s nerves for the first few days of theeight day trip in predictable ways, but when a bomb blows up on the ship, they are forced to crash on a icy planet and struggle to survive.

Yes, I do wonder how a bomb could have been placed on a Federation ship without anyone knowing about it. It is a mystery that is quickly lost in the story, so shrug and move on like I did.

The communications relay was damaged by the bomb to the point it does not have the power transmit through the atmosphere. The two have to haul the relay up to a snow covered mountaintop in the aint hope a nearby ship will pick up the SOS. In the vast reaches of space, you have to assume the chances of that are next to nil, but it is either that or take bets on whether they freeze or starve to death first.

There are three highlights here. One, Odo was wrong about Quark’s being a suspect. He was going to be a witness for the grand jury so there is Quark‘s twisted, but still existent, sense of justice. Two, Odo’s new fragility as a humanoid is vividly on display. He is caught by quark reading a romance novel before thec rash and is totally dependent on Quark when he breaks his leg shortly afterward. Finally, the symbiotic relationship between the two is never more prominent. They need each other asa foil to te poit that even though they despise one another, they are both desperate to keep the other alive.

Quark makes it up the mountain. Almost implausibly, the Defiant is close enough to receive the SOS and rescue them in the nick of time. Convenient.

I like ‘The Ascent” a lot because of the interaction between Odo and Quark, but virtually everything else is either a distraction or laughably dumb. Jake and Nog are the distraction. I could have done without them. As for the laughably dumb, how about the bomb on a federation ship, the predictable one man gets injured bit, and the Defiant just happening to be in the right place at the right time. I would be inclined to give “The Ascent” four stars otherwise, but I have to rate the episode as a whole.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Things Past"

I am a big fan of Odo centric episodes in general, but “Things Past” is near the top of the list because it takes the most honest look we have seen at the character thus far. On a minor note, we also learn much more about Dukat’s mindset. The difference between the two is how the revelations about Odo will make some of his decisions regarding his people more clear in the future while Dukat will, for better or worse, do a 180.

The thing about Odo up until this point is how he managed to work in law enforcement for the Cardassians during the Occupation yet still remain so trusted by the Bajorans. Surely some Bajorans would think he was a puppet controlled by their oppressors. Surely he is holding some dark secret about his past actions that would change opinion of him. Lo and behold, he does.

Odo, Dax, Sisko, and Garak are traveling back from a conference on Bajor when some sort of radiation surge combines with traces of Odo’s Changeling DNA to put the four of them in some sort of coma in which they are living the lives of Bajorans accused of an assassination attempt on Dukat seven years prior. I am not big on the implausible set up, but I assume the writers did not want to use flashbacks or time travel as a plot element again. I will ot question their judgment too much considering Odo’s guilty conscience plays such a large role in setting up the scenario. It serves as a nice touch.

The truth is Odo once allowed three innocent Bajorans to be executed for the crime seven years ago because he failed to investigate properly. Presumably, the incident is what inspired his staunch pursuit of justice we have seen in him so far, even to the point the was willing to be judged by his own people. He is not even certain he has not screwed up other times and sent more innocent Bajorans to their deaths.

Now that we know he has feet of clay, it will not come as much of a shock when he betrays his friends next season by connecting with the Female Changeling. His actions will not ruin the character for me, surprisingly enough.

As for Dukat, ’Things past” shows him as the brutal dictator who needs to be loved. I suspect it is ore because he has a huge ego to feed rather than the symbiotic relationship that exists between n abuser ad his victim. Whatever the root cause, future stories will drop this aspect of his character in favor a ruthless ambition for power without the need for his subjects’ admiration. He is still one of the best trek villains ever, but I am disappointed to lose that part of him.

I really like this episode. The atmosphere reminds mea lot of the second season’s “Necessary Evil,’ which also ranks near the top I my book. ’Things past” shines a much needed light on some of odo’s emotional issues to tell us why he is the way he is beyond the social alienation he has experienced since his lab rat days. The episode adds a much appreciated extra dimension to him.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Let He Who is Without Sin..."

I have dreaded the coming of this episode for a while now. It still is not the worst episode of DS9--that honor goes to “Profit and Lace”--but it is the worst execution of an episode in the series. The concept is done poorly and there is not a single one of the main characters who comes across as likeable.

First problem, the concept. ‘Let He Who is Without Sin…” is all about sex. Giggly, junior high level, fantasy sex. Such appears to be about as much as Trek can muster. Sex is nothing more than a laugh line here.

The catalyst for the story is that Worf and Dax caot have sex with one another without bruises and broken bones. Dax decides, while discussing her sex life with Odo and Sisko, they need a vacation to improve their relationship. Worf reluctantly agrees for thesole purpose of working out their problems. Bashir and Leeta ask to go along so they can engage in a break up ritual that involves having lots of sex with the person you are trying to get rid of. Quark comes along just for the sex. He turns out to be the most reasonable of the five. At least he is beig honest with his intentions.

Second problem, the characters. I have ripped Dax on a number of occasions for being a shallow, self-absorbed bimbo. I consider this episode my vindication against anyone who disagrees with my assessment. Dax’s complaint about worf is he is too controlling. So she forces him to go on vacation, forces him to spend said vacation on Rsa, picks out all his clothes for him, demands he spend all of his time doing activities she wants, and all the while complaining about his domineering attitude. Yes, really.

I feel a lot of sympathy for Worf up to a point. I the middle of all this, the villains arrive in the form of the New Essentialists. In spite of the episode title being inspired from jesus’ admonition to the men about to stone a woman for adultery, there is nothing religious about these guys other than the slight Mormon hint of their outfits. They are not claiming people are sinful for their hedonistic practices, but that they have become complacent.

Their complaint falls pretty flat until dax, who up util this point has been aggrevating Worf, decides to run off and have some pseudo-lesbian un with Ananda, the woman who sexed Curzon Dax to death.

I did say this was all juvenile, did I not? What is worse is that Ananda is played by Vanessa Williams. She is famous for being the first black Miss America--a title which did not last long after some old photos of her simulating lesbian acts were unearthed. One wonders if her fling with Dax is supposed to be a cute nod to the scandal. It did not work for me I so.

Worf is so upset, he jois the New Essentialists and sabotages the artificial ecosystem to help them get their point across. Worf is not the kind of guy who would joi such a group in the first place, but to ruin a whole planet’s worth of vacationer’s fun in his own irritation is the epitome of douchebaggery. All my sympathy for him goes out the door and does not return even after he prevents the New Essentialists from escalating their terrorist acts. Somehow, his actions magically fix his and Dax’s relationship. Well, good.

One final bit of idiocy. Bashir and Leeta are breaking up so she can pursue Rom. I can accept that Rom is an idiot savant with a skill at engineering, but I cannot believe a hot chick, even dumb as Leeta is, would dump her doctor boyfriend for a toad like him. Call it throwing a bone to all the geeky fan boy rom types out there watching who fantasize the same thig will happen to them.

Skip this episode at all costs. I even hate the grammar error in the title. It should be “Let Him Who is Without Sin…”

Rating: * (out of 5)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Trials and Tribblelations"

“Trials and Tribblelations,” DS9’s celebration of Trek’s 30th anniversary, is the biggest geekasm the show managed. If you have been around for my early reviews, you will note I am not a fan of “The Trouble with Tribbles.” I thought the episode was trying to be too cute with the actors hamming it up far worse than normal. Nevertheless, the addition of the DS9 element makes “Trials and Tribulations’ a vast improvement.

(I realize saying so adds to my reputation as one of those elitist Trekkies who likes DS9 to the exclusion of the other series because it so often skewered the utopian philosophy. So be it. Deep Space Nine is my favorite trek series and the hokey socialist utopianism of the other series is often embarrassing than the grown men who wear pointy ears to conventions.)

The geeky references do not end with trek, either. The story is told by bookends of an interview between Sisko and two temporal investigators, Dulmer and Lucsly, are anagrams of Mulder and Scully, the two FBI agents from another favorite of mine, The X-Files.. A nice touch there and a reminder science fiction in general was a lot richer in 1996 than it is today. Flashforward, V, and Fringe just cannot compete with Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, and Babylon 6, et al.

The only part of “Trials and Tribblelations” I find weak is the set up. The Cardassians locate another Bajoran orb, this one with the property of time, and offer it back to the Bajorans. Our heroes are escorting the orb on the Defiant, along with Darvin, a merchant who was trapped on Carddassia during the Klingon invasion. This is the same Darvin who was the Klingon genetically altered to be a human in the original “Trouble with Tribbles.” After Kirk exposed him, he was disgraced by the Empire and has had to eke out a living as a merchant. When he heard about the orb, he decided to use it to travel back in time ad kill Kirk to keep him for exposing his identity in the first place.

Our heroes have to pose as 23rd century Starfleet officers and traders I order to find Darvin. Much of the episode involves the ooh and aahs of seeing the old costumes and sets as well as the Forest Gump tricks of today’s actors iteractig with their thirty year passed costars. The scenes still hold up well, particularly the brawl between the Enterprise crew and the Klingons on K-7. One bit in particular is forced. Sisko’s encounter with Kirk is actually taken from “Mirror, Mirror.” I assume it is the best the creators could come up with, but Kirk’s reaction to Sisko’s admiration is awkward. Presumably, the emotional impact helps many fans overlook the strange fit.

Darvin’s plan is eventually revealed. He placed a bomb inside a tribble. Although there is over one million of them on K-7, Sisko manages to find the right one and beams it into space just in the nick of time. What can I say? Kirk must have been born with a golden horseshoe up his butt.

There is still no explanation why tribbles fall on Kirk when he opens the grain silo, but grain never does. Or why Sisko and Dax, who are inside hunting tribbles, do not tumble out, either. Probably the same magic that hides Terry Farrell’s underwear from being exposed in that short skirt she was wearing:I imagine I am in the minority for thinking “Trials and Tribblelations” is a much better episode than “The Trouble with Tribbles” originally, but I am prepared toface the accusations of blasphemy. I will ever bear the brunt of calls of hypocrisy for thinking the conclusion, in which Odo brigs a tribble back to the 24th century with predictable results, was a nice touch when I generally dislike the over the top humor of the original episode. I cannot help it. I do.

“Trials and Tribblelations” reminds me why I thought TNG should have done some direct sequels to TOS episodes. But then I am remided how poorly ENT connected with TOS when it tried things along similar lines and I go back to being depressed over the general state of today’s science fiction.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Assignment"

“The Assignment” is the annual O’Brien Must Suffer episode. This time around, Keiko is possessed by a Bajoran demon on his birthday. She forces him to destroy the wormhole Prophets or face Keiko’s death.

The episode has a throwaway feel to it. There is no explanation given for how Keiko is possessed by a pah-Wraith. She just shows up from a trip to the fire Caves on Bajor and announces to o’rien she has been and he is going to destroy the wormhole or else. The bulk of the episode is the creepy act she puts on in front of everyone to convince them nothing is wrong while O’Brien scurries about doing her bidding while trying to figure a way out of this mess.

He eventually does with the help of Rom, whose rise from night shift flunky to full time day shift engineer is chronicled in the B-story. His promotion comes when he serves as the unlikely hero of the story.

This is the first time we meet a pah-Wraith and the only time a possession is so subdued. In subsequent appearances, anyone possessed by one develops glowing eyes and a metallic voice. The only common element is the completely evil demeanor. They will, however, lay a big part in the series finale when Dukat becomes possessed. It is still not a very auspicious introduction.

To me, “The Assignment’ feels like a TNG episode. It sticks out like a sore thumb even with the introduction of the Pah-Wraiths as a key DS0 feature. Part of the problem is that o’Brien himself was possessed in a similar manner in TNG’s “Power Play” wherein he threatened Keiko. So not only are the plots similar, but the same characters are involved. Putting the shoe on the other foot is not enough to make the plot different enough to use again. I will give it two stars because it sets up both the Pah-Wraiths and Rom for bigger things down the road, but otherwise, it is a dud.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Nor the Battle to the Strong"

The title for this episode is taken from one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happened to them all."-- Ecclesiastes 9:11
Nothing explains fate quite like that verse.

“Nor the Battle to the Strong’ is also one of my favorite episodes of DS9. It continues the trend of turning war from a the sanitized, distant act it had previously been in Trek to the dark, harsh reality. To do so, the episode features themes and direct lifts of scenes from such literary works as Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage and Erich Maria Reargues All Quiet on the Western Front, both novels that left a strong impression on my young adult life.

“Nor the Battle to the Strong” is one of the few episodes to center around Jake and rarer still, one that takes him seriously as a character. I exclude much of ’The Visitor” in saying this because of how much that episode depended upon Tony Todd as older Jake. Up until this point, Jake has bounced from mischievous scamp to whiny teenager mostly for comic relief. He finally grows up here after a long absence from the series altogether.

Jake is traveling with Bashir to a medical conference on his first journalist assignment. He is supposed to write a profile of Bashir, but has little enthusiasm for it. He catches what he thinks is a lucky break when a group of Klingons violate the ceasefire by attacking a federation colony. The heat of battle would make for afar more interesting article. Bashir is reluctant to divert their trip, but Jake convinces him the colonists will need a good doctor like him.

Jake is immediately overwhelmed by the carnage he witnesses in a makeshift hospital set up in a cave and the cold demeanor the medical staff have to maintain in order to to handle the masses of wounded and dying. Jake has to abandon his writing when he is drafted as an orderly.

Thecentral theme is Jake’s struggle to differentiate between fear and cowardice. He watches bashir treat a soldier who claims to have been shot by a klingon, but in fact wounded himself to avoid fighting. Jake remarks how disgusted his colleagues are by his cowardice. Later, Bashir and Jake come under fire when Klingons attack. Jake abandons Bashir is stark terror. When they are later reunited, Bashir does not blame him, but jake is tearing at himself inside.

Amid all the death, Jake deteriorates until the moment the Klingons enter the cave. Everyone is evacuating I a mad panic, but Jake is frozen with fear under a table. He grabs a phasor and begins firing wildly, causing a cave in.

Later, he awakens to learn he had inadvertently blocked the Klingon invasion party and bought enough time for everyone to escape. He is hailed as a hero, but does not feel it himself. He writes in his article about his true feelings and allows Bashir and his father to read it. Sisko assures him that everyone who faces combat feels that way. No one blames him for it. Yet, he still feels as though he did not measure up to the others’ sense of duty.

This is a powerful episode because it makes the mai character a flawed person, which is rare in Trek. The heroes are the ones that are always right. Ut here, it is left up to the audience to decide whether Jake was placed in way over his head by Bashir or if he truly was coward. I am inclined to think more the former. I do not think poorly of Jake after watching. On the contrary, I think he is more of a man now than ever before. I have never been in a situation like his and hopefully never will, but I certainly cannot judge his actions when I would likely do the same thing under the risk of death in a war of which I am not even supposed to be a part.

The only drawback I see--and I cannot blame the episode for it--is the bonding between Bashir and Jake never goes anywhere beyond “Nor the Battle to the Strong.’ I am disappointed by that. Certainly, these events were a life altering experience for Jake. You would think he would have connected with Bashir far more than he apparently did.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"

I am reasonably certain this is the only trek episode with a Klingon word in the title and absolutely certain it is the only episode title to parody a country song. In this case, Johnny Lee’s classic from the ’70’s, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” One wonders how many Trek fans out there are also into country music. Next to none would be my guess. Well, except for me, of course.

The episode is a sequel to the personal favorite, ’House of Quark.” It has some high points, but does not shine quite as brightly as its predecessor. The big problem for me is how indicative it is of the immature way I which sex is dealt with on Trek. I can forgive the light treatment of sex in quark’s case, since his story is meant to be comic relief, but the goings on between Worf/Dax and O’Brien/Kira boggle the mind. Watching the episode, one would think the writer had not changed his attitude about relationships since the eighth grade.

I will start with the good bits. Grika, Quark’s ex-wife, has fallen on hard times and wants him to help straighten out her finances. He agrees and as they work together, he begins falling for her. Worf has taken a shine to her as well, but when Quark seeks his help in wooing her in the traditional Klingon manner, Dax convinces him to play Cyrano de Beregerac for Quark’s sake.

Quark is faced with a bat’leth duel for his trouble. He has no choice but to face the challenge for Grika’s sake. Worf and Dax use a device which allows Worf to control Quark’s movements during the duel. Aside from the predictable moment when it stops working and Quark has to comically stall to save his life, the plan works. Quark wins and gets the girl.

Side note-is that not an underhanded, dishonorable deceit on Worf’s part to help Quark cheat? Just sayin’.

The B-story involves O’Brien feeling obligated to care for Kira’s needs while she is serving as the surrogate mother for his unborn child. This involves frequent, intimate massages which Keiko does not mind, but wind up bonding O’Brien and Kira. To the point she feels the need to get away for a while. Keiko, oblivious as to why Kira wants to get away, insists O’Brien go with her on vacation. The two come up with an excuse as to why O’Brien has to skip out o her.

A couple things bug me about the story. First, Keiko’s character is really diminished her by looking so clueless. She is not one of my favorite characters, but she deserved better than that. Second, I have a tough time buying the idea Kira and O’Brien are falling for each other. Neither is the type to go for the other. The urge is based solely on the idea O’Brien is a great masseuse. See what I mean by an eighth grade attitude about relationships? Physical touch equals love, baby.

But it gets worse. Not just because this episode marks the beginning of the Worf/Dax romance, but that it carries on the idea Kligon sex is al about brutally beating the bejebus out of your lover. Quark, Grika, Worf, and Dax all wind up in the infirmary after intercourse. The whole concept is played for cheap yuks. I am not particularly prudish, but I do not go for how cheap physical relations are made out to be.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. The Quark story elevates the episode like it so often does, but I am disappointed with some of the odd character moments otherwise. Aside from O’Brien and Kira inexplicably falling for keynoter, I do not think Worf would play matchmaker for Quark or help him cheat in a bat’leth duel. Neither completely ruins things, but the out of character actions are glaring compared to the rest of the series.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Ship"

Officially, “The Ship” is the100th episode of DS9. It clocks in at 98th here because I combined “Emissary” and “The Way of the Warrior” as the two hour movies they originally aired as rather than the split episodes they are in syndication. This means we are moving steadily towards the end of the DS9 run of reviews and likely trek reviews in general, at least for a while.

“The Ship” would have served as afar better season premiere. It is one of the more intriguing of the fifth year because it helps change the way Trek presents war. Often, conflict is highly sanitized in Trek. Phasor blasts cleanly disintegrate their targets with no mess. Usually said targets are aliens for whom we have no attachment, but the good guys do not get off easy, either. Seventy-three crewmembers died onscreen in TOS, most often anonymously and without comment from the series regulars. The Next Generation was not much better.

The situation is ironic considering one of the best episodes of Trek in general, “A Taste of Armageddon,” involves war becoming so clean ad bloodless, people are willing to fight one just as quickly as they would agree to run an errand. It should have been a lesson for trek in general, but I do not think anyone in charge noticed. Deep Space Nine changes the tone with a number of episodes before, but especially during, the Dominion War storyline.

Half the command staff is on a mission to a remote planet in the Gamma Quadrant to explore the possibility of establishing a mining operation when they find a crashed dominion ship with a large crew of dead Jem Ha’dar aboard. Theydecide to salvage it for any intelligence value. Another Dominion ship arrives and attacks as the crew attempts to salvage the downed ship. Several are killed and another, Munoz, is severely wounded.

The crew takes shelter inside the ship, but the Jem Ha’dar do not follow. Their Vorta leader arranges a meeting with Sisko in which she offers to take them back to Federation space if they will leave the ship alone. Sisko does not trust her, so he refuses. The rest of the episode becomes a standoff with the ticking clock of Munoz’s wound being mortal without treatment.

But all is not as it appears. Unbeknownst to Sisko, there is a Changeling in hiding on the ship who is also severely wounded. Both heand Munoz eventually die from their wounds. The Jem Ha’dar commit suicide in response for their failure to save their god. All the deaths are pointless. If only the two sides had trusted each other, everyone would have survived.

The mission is successful. Starfleet is thrilled to get the crashed ship. They do not fault sisko for his decision, but he does. Everyone’s blood is on his hands because he made the wrong decision.

There is alsoa poignant moment at the end in which O’Brien is keeping vigil over Munoz’s casket. Munoz had saved O’Brien’s life from a Jem Ha’Dar shortly before he died. His sacrifice gnaws at O’Brien. Worf comes by and tells O’Brien he is honoring an old Klingon tradition of protecting a fallen comrade on his way to their version of Valhalla and asks to join him. Many fans note that Klingons have disregarded the corpses of their fallen comrades as empty shells and consider this scene a mistake. I think they are wrong. Worf tells O’Brien a fib to make him feel as though he is returning the favor by protecting Munoz just as he had done. The scene is two old comrades in arms from the Enterprise looking out for each other.

I think that scene and Sisko’s angst make the episode. There is an effort to create a last stand at the Alamo vibe to the story, but it falls flat for me in comparison. It is the aftermath of war, when losses are counted and second guesses torment, that mean more emotionally than the war itself. “The Ship’ might have earned five stars if it could have made both aspects equally compelling.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Apocalypse Rising"

“Apocalypse Rising” has a tough job to do. It has to get the series back to it regular plan of a coming conflict with the Dominion while wrapping up the practically non-existent Klingon war storyline without it coming across as having been a pointless interlude. It does the job as best it could, but for a season premiere, it does not start the year off with much of a bang.

Sisko, O’Brien, Odo, and Worf go undercover at a Klingon military base in order to expose Chancellor Gowron as a Changeling. Dukat and his stolen Bird-of-Prey are thrown into the mix for good measure. Most of the episode is played for fish out of water laughs as our heroes try to blend in with Klingons. The twist is that Martok is the Changeling, not Gowron. The Founders tricked Odo into believing it as Gowron hoping the Federation would assassinate Gowron, thereby escalating the war. With the truth revealed, Gowron declares a ceasefire while the Empire negotiates with the Federation over Arcanis rather than fighting to conquer it.

The episode has a couple logical problems. It does not seem plausible the Changelings would be sloppy enough to let odo find out the true identity of their spy. He should have suspected something was up right away. Nor does it make sense Martok is the Chagelinng. Sue, he isa high ranking general, but does it seem likely he could convince Gowron to invade the Cardassian Union and declare war on the Federation/ if so, then Gowron is a nut unworthy of ruling an Empire. The episode needed a twist for excitement, but that stretches plausibility.

I am not a huge fan of ’Apocalypse Rising,” but since I did not like the Klingon diversion last season, I am just happy it served to shift gears away from it for the fifth season. Generally speaking, I enjoy the fifth season more than the fourth, so I am in a generous mood when scoring the season premiere. But not much of one.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Broken Link"

The fourth season finale is not bad, but I do consider it the weakest since the first season closer. It had a lot to accomplish in switching the focus of the series away from the Federation/Klingon War that Never Came to the heating up of tensions with the Dominion.

The screw have not yet been tightened for the big picture, but they have for Odo. He is my favorite character and I more often than not appreciate episodes centered around him. But making the season finale--the story that should serve to make you want to come back in the fall--solely about him felt like missed potential. The cliffhanger revelation of Gowron as a Changeling, which is not so, actually--does not have much impact because I have yet to care about Klingon saber rattling since the season premiere.

Nevertheless, Odo is a great character and he gets some good moments to shine here. I particularly liked the bit where he is practically carried by Kira and Bashir to the Defiant until a good natured taut by a concerned Quark gives him a boost of strength to make it to the ship himself.

Odo has been poisoned by his people in order to force him to come to the Great Lake for judgment since he is the first Changeling to murder another. The crew takes the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant to contact the Dominion and wind up surrendering to them I order to make it to the Changeling’s new home planet.

In the Great lake, Odo is judged for murder. Because he chose the “solids” over his people, they take away his shape sifting abilities in order to make him one of them. It is in this bonding that his scrambled mind learns of theChangeling posig as a Klingon.

“Brokwen Link” has some interesting Garak moments as well. He accompanies the crew ito the Gamma Quadrant I order to discover the fate of the Obsidian order task force from ’The Die is Cast.” The Female Changeling responds that they and all of Cardassia are dead. The threat will have a twisted journey on its way to fruition, but she will make good on it. Garak attempts to take control of the weapos system in order to destroy the new home world, but is stopped by Worf. Although for a short time there, worf was carryig on his TNG tradition of getting his butt kicked by yet another alien he faces in hand to hand combat.

I enjoy ’Broken Link,” but I would like to have more bang in a season finale. The klingon stuff is supposed to be the point we are hanging on the edge of our seats for over the summer, but the plot was reduced to bookends in order to wrap up the Odo killed a Changeling bit from a year past. The episode has a “get rid of storylines that are not working” vibe to it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Body Parts"

“Body Parts” ranks right up therewith “The House of Quark” as my favorite quark-centric episode. It has a combination of heart and dark humor that I find highly appealing. It is good enough that I can forgive the rather strange solution of hiding Nana Visitor’s real pregnancy by having the O’Brien baby transported into her.

Quark receives a diagnosis from his doctor that he only has six days to live. He decides to sell pieces of himself on the commodities exchange in order to pay off his debts. At first, no one wants to buy them, but when an anonymous buyer purchases them all, he jumps at the chance.

The buyer turns out to be Brunt, who despises Quark because he considers him a non-Ferengi. Among Quark’s affronts areis mother’s business dealings and giving in to Rom’s union. Brunt also tells him he was misdiagnosed. He is not dying, but he is going to have to honor his contract like a good Ferengi. In other words, he is going to have to die so Brunt can have his body parts.

Quark may have a twisted moral code, but he does have oe. He hires Garak to kill him in order to honor the contract. Quark has a vision of the first Grand Nagus, the one who wrote the Rules of Acquisition, who tells him he wrote those as a marketing ploy. Quark should not take them seriously enough to give up his own life for them. The next day, quark refuses to honor the unconscionable contract, so Brunt revokes his business license.

Quark’s friends show up to restock his bar in order for him to remain in business.

I the B-story, Keiko is wounded on a trip to the Gamma Quadrant. In order to save her baby, Bashir beams the child into Kira’s womb. Kira will have to give birth to the bay because of the short Bajoran gestation period. The O’Briens invite kira to live with them for the duration. She is reluctant atfirst, but warms up to the idea of finally having a family.

“Body Parts” has an odd, macabre heart to it which makes it uniquely enjoyable. There is something about Quark the ex-patriot trying to prove he is still a Ferengi at heart even though he has bent the rules in the past in order to accommodate family that is charming.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Quickening"

“The Quickening,” like “Hippocratic Oath,” is an attempt to grow the character of Bashir from a cocky annoyance to a mature doctor. Unlike ’Hippocratic Oath,” the episode deals with the heart of the problem--Bashir is unappealing because he is obnoxiously arrogant. In ’The Quickening,” he is placed in the middle of a situation well beyond his control, so he is forced to grow up and realize his limitations.

Bashir tries to find a cure for an incredibly gruesome plague engineered by the Dominion as a punishment on a rebelling planet’s population. The plague has similar effects to leprosy. Bashir struggles to save everyone within the week’s survival odds, but he cannot. He laments his arrogance in thinking he could find a cure within a week when there is not one. Dax reminds him he is being even more arrogant by assuming there is no cure just because he could not find one.

“The Quickening” was originally intended to serve as an AIDS allegory I memory of a production staffer who had recently passed on from the disease. It was decided to rewrite the story to remove any elements of the disease carrying aliens being pariahs after becoming infected to the more Bashir-centric plot. I can only guess, but the change feels like it was for the better. I say that as one who still does not like Bashir. His receives a much needed dose of humility here, but still not enough to make him a multidimensional character.,

Once again, I found the B-story out of place. The plot involves around quark’s intrusive advertising campaign disrupting life on DS9. While an episode as tragic as this needed a comic relief element, this was too over the top and uncomplimentary to the main story. A B-story probably should have skipped altogether.

“The Quickening” continues the shift back towards the Dominion as the central villains of DS9 after a meandering season in which the supposed Federation/Klingon conflict never materialized. I also liked the scorched Earth feel of the surroudings. The burnt look added a desperate atmosphere. For this, I am glad. There are not many Bashir episodes I like, either, but this is one of them.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"For the Cause"

“For the Cause” turns out to be a very timely episode to review. The plot features Sisko’s love, Kassidy Yates, being accused of smuggling for the Maquis. She is, but sisko is manipulated into following her ship by Michael Eddington, who plans to steal a shipment of replicators being sent to the Cardassians and defect to the Maquis with them. Writer

Mark Gehred-O’Connell’s motivation for the story was the public reaction after the Oklahoma City bombing. He was surprised in the early days how there was much suspicion about Middle Eastern men having been behind the terrorist attack when it was Tim McViegh, a supposedly all American boy and war veteran responsible. The shock is supposed to be that you never suspect what the people closest to you are capable of.

Fifteen years later, there is a failed car bombing in Times Square. A man of Middle Eastern descent takes responsibility and acknowledges he was trained in the art of explosives. The current reaction is that an MSNBC anchor laments he is not a white man and the mayor of New York City remained confident the failed bomber was a conservative upset over ObamaCare. Times have definitely changed for progressive guilt, no?

“For the Cause” is all about loyalty ad betrayal. Yates has been smugglig medical supplies to the Maquis out of a sense of duty, but returns to Sisko in order to face up to what she has done. Eddington also feels a sense of loyalty to the Maquis over the Federation. He offers up the most damning criticism of the Federation we have seen so far. They have abandoned the Maquis, former Federation citizens, to the Cardassians all the while making overtures to eventually bring the Cardassians into the Federation. Eddington compares the Federation to the Borg, but with the exception the borg annouce their intentions to assimilate cultures. The Federation is far more insidious.

Eddiington goes way over the top with his comparison, but he has a point. I have written numerous times about the underlying attitude that Federation ideals, which are identical to secular humanist ideals, are far superior to any alien culture. Said alien cultures are usually only applauded when they adopt humanistic philosophy. How is that different than Eddington’s accusation the Federation is taking great steps to bring Cardassia into the fold, even to the point of sacrificing some of their own to do so?

“For the Cause” begins the semi-regular arc of Sisko’s obsession with capturing Eddington for his betrayal. It is a fantastic start to wrap up the Maquis storyline, particularly considering they were introduced, not as a major part of DS9, but to introduce them in order to save time and space for the immediate inclusion on VOY.

Garak and Ziyal begin a friendship in the B-story story. Kira continues her protective role for her. A good story, but it does feel tacked on considering how much focus is on the main story.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Muse"

I have good news and bad news. The good news is this is the last onscreen appearance of Lwaxana Troi in Trek, so there will be no further duds featuring her. The bad news is I still have to review this dud. As if I have not suffered enough in life, the rest of the episode’s plot is also bad. Just my luck.

Lwaxana comes to DS9 seeking Odo’s help. She is now married to an alien played by Michael Ansara in one of his last roles before retiring, too, if I am not mistaken. She is pregnant with his child, a boy. The problem is in her husband’s culture, children are raised solely by the parent who shares the child’s gender. She wats to be a part of the child’s life. Odo is reluctant to help.

Nevertheless, the two continue their awkward bond from the first time they met. Maybe that resonates with other fans, but I ever bought into it. Their relationship reaches absolute absurdity when they play hide and seek--yes, really-and Odo agrees to a quickie marriage to take advantage of a legal loophole that will allow Lwaxana to keep her son. We are heading into goofy sitcom territory here. It gets doubly worse when he has to convince everyone he is truly in love to prevent any challenges to the wedding.

I suppose Odo’s actions presupposed to be a shining moment of how much he has the capacity to care or maybe he is paying Lwaxana back for allowing him to rest in her lap in his liquid state when they first met. Whichever, it just does not feel right.

In the other story, Jake is aided in writing a novel by Onaya, an alien who inspires young artists to do their best work, but kills them young in the process. She mentions a number of earth poets and writers she has performed this ‘service’ for. I did not like the concept because it takes the mystique out of the unfulfilled creative potential of artists who died young. The sting of tragedy I removed when it is revealed their great works were due to an alien parasite. Meh.

“The Muse” is 0 for 2 in my book. It is definitely a cellar dwellar when it comes to DS9 episodes.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Shattered Mirror"

Oh, no…not the annual mirror universe romp! Anything but that!

I am going to give this installment some unusual praise. It is the best of the bunch, although, to steal a line from Jon Stewart, that is like being the skinniest kid at fat camp. “Shattered Mirror” gets higher marks because the story has more of an emotional investment for the main characters than at ay other time.

Jennifer comes to the main universe, preys on Jake’s emotions over the loss of his real mother, and kidnaps him in order to lure the real Sisko to the mirror universe to force him to modify her copy of the Defiant, which has a number of structural flaws. The Siskos wind up indulging their emotions: Ben leads an attack against Worf’s ship to save the humans and Jake bonds with his “mother.” Even though she really is not, nor is she the kind of mother she would really want, the compulsion is too great. It is sad, but I empathize. particularly over the sense of loss as she dies.

Mark the occasion--”Shatter Mirror” isa mirror universe story that earns three stars. It will not happen often, so mark the occasion.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Hard Time"

Deep Space Nine proved itself separate from the other modern Trek series in “Rules of Engagement” by not relying on a reset button for the ending. Worf really did screw up and destroy a civilian transport. He was fortunate it was empty. “Hard Time’ carries on the theme. When O’Brien is given the memories of twenty years in prison for espionage crimes, they are not only a permanent part of him, but he has to live with the fact he was pushed to the point of murdering his cellmate.

So much for enlightened 24th century humans.

Trek is not famous for its subtlety or it fine acting, but “Hard Time” is an exception. From the joyous moment O’Brien sees DS9 again, which to him has been a twenty year gap, to his emotional deterioration as he struggles to regain his old life while eaten up by guilt, we feel every raw emotion vividly. No hamming it up or phoning it in.

I believe Colm Meaney is considered a much more serious actor in the United Kingdom than in the United States. I believe it. I watched the David Tennant and Patrick Stewart version of Hamleton PBS a few nights ago and marveled how Tennant in particular appeared to be holding back emotionally on Doctor Who. What is it about science fiction that convinces otherwise good actors to tie one hand behind their back when performing in it?

“Hard Time” earns high marks from me. Consider that unusual. It is another O’Brien Must Suffer episode, but the best of the bunch. I am usually adverse too stories in which a character is descending ito madness, either.. Often, the plot device is used to excuse lazy writing because nothing has to make sense when the focal character is going bonkers. But when the process is done well, I can appreciate it. “Hard Time” is a tough episodeto watch, but I like it.

I am also glad the original idea was not used. “Hard Time” was originally supposed to be a sequel to TNG’s “Lower Decks” in which it would have been discovered Sito was not killed, but imprisoned by the Cardassians. The episode would have been about her readjusting to freedom. Such a move would have destroyed the emotional impact of both “Lower Decks” and “Hard Time.”

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Rules of Engagement"

I do not claim to be a legal expert just because I have a law degree, but I do notice errors and illogical points in any television episode or movie that features a trail these days. My view affects my enjoyment of these episodes and movies more than more than it would have in the past. “Rules of Engagement” is a case in point.

The plot is not bad. Worf is accused by the Klingon Empire of destroying a civilian vessel, killing all 441 men, women, and children aboard. It is all a ruse to have him extradited to the Empire to punish him for being a dishonored traitor because of his opposition to the invasion of Cardassia. It is all a ruse. Worf attacked an empty transport in the heat of battle. The Klingons faked the casualty list from another transport accident three months prior in order to frame him.

The moral is not bad, either. Worf did blow it and destroy a civilian ship. He got lucky it was empty. The incident serves to strip Worf of some of his credibility with Starflert. It is a dramatic point considering he no longer has his people or his family in his life. Chipping away at his career is the last thing that can be taken away from him.

What bugs me is the trial procedure itself. Sisko serves as Worf’s counsel instead of a JAG. I understand that is for thesake of drama. We have to have a regular character to root for. But it still defies all logic when Worf’s life is on the line. The prosecutor then steals a holodeck program from Worf and submits it into evidence. No judge would have allowed it even if the defendant agreed. Any final ruling on Worf’s extradition would ave been overturned on appeal. Then Sisko calls the prosecutor to the stand to testify. While it is not prohibited for the opposing lawyer to testify about unprivileged information, there is a high standard to meet before it is allowed, at least in American law:
1. That [opposing counsel's] testimony will be actually adverse to [his or her client].

2. that the evidence sought to be elicited from the lawyer will likely be admissible at trial under the controlling rules of evidence.

3. that there is a compelling need for such evidence, which need cannot be satisfied by some other source.
Does calling the klingon prosecutor asa cultural expert qualify? Probably not. It is also certain the evidence of the faked casualty list could have been entered into evidence otherwise. There was no point to calling the prosecutor to the stand.

I cannot be too harsh on “Rules of Engagement,” however. It is a decent episode when the procedural errors are overlooked. Worf did screw up. He just happened to catch a break when the Klingon deception was exposed, so the standard hero comes off smelling like a rose did not happen. Kudos for not following the formula there.

Rating: *** (out of 5)