Episode 4.10: Our Man Bashir

•August 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This episode does not take itself very seriously (like the Bond films that it parodies). I love how fun it is, and this is why it is one of my favorite episodes. Comedy, fantasy, and archetypal heroism are generously mixed together. Julian is spending time in one of his fantasies where he’s a suave, heroic secret agent. To rescue his friends, he has to go more deeply into his fantasy and play out the story he’s in. Julian has the opportunity to treat his fantasy as completely real; a scenario I’m sure many of us would envy. A key component to this story is how the crew is split between the good and the bad sides of Julian’s story (Kira, Dax, Julian on one; Sisko, Worf, O’Brien on the other). This means that Julian can neither win nor lose the story. So he ends up doing the unexpected. He joins Dr. Noah’s side.

Bashir’s character is proudly on display here. This is a fantasy for him, and I think he exercises a freedom he would not otherwise allow himself. He gets to play out the fantasy in a way that saves his friends outside the secret agent story. This fantasy is wholly his. Garak’s cautious and self-serving suggestions would even be detrimental. Secret Agent Bashir is supposed to win while taking the most outrageous of risks that only a playboy jetsetter would. He resolutely refuses to bend to Garak’s suggestion that some will have to die to save others. This is his fantasy, and everyone will make it through. Julian juggles the two sides, refusing to “win” as long as possible, even as it endangers himself and Garak. I think it’s perfect that in the end, Julian sacrifices the world to save the day. This is indicative of who he is at the core: he will sacrifice all he can to be the hero. He’s not even willing to allow the possibility of disrupting the program, via calling for the exit. And he does so not because he wants some accolade; he simply follows the best past he sees to help those around him. His portion of Starship Down (Ep. 4.7) had a similar theme.

I love how Garak is utterly offended by the fantasy. It’s similar to when a doctor watches ER or House; to Garak, the fantasy is a mockery to his reality. Garak thinks that Julian is getting lost in his fantasy and that Julian thinks this is all just a game. The end shows how Garak is wrong in this perspective. Julian is willing to destroy the holosuite world to save the crew. He had his wits about him the entire time. Julian just knew that his fantasy secret agent world would not react well to Garak’s Obsidian Order style of spywork. I don’t think Julian tried to kill Garak. I think Julian is finally beginning to understand Garak, and that he needs a show of confidence to get Garak to fall in line. Julian uses Garak’s perspective at the end to stall for time. In a way, it is Garak’s perspective, not Garak himself, that helps save the day.

I’m a fair fan of the Bond films, so I tried to catch as many Bond references as I could. I’m sure I missed some, but here’s what I did see. The overall tone felt like a Roger Moore style movie. From the 60s/70s with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments, such as the suggestive women’s names. Obviously, “Bashir.  Julian Bashir.”  The setting, Kowloon, reminds me of The Man With the Golden Gun. Bashir playing in the club with Worf is similar to a scene in Diamonds are Forever. Professor Honey Bare reminds me of Holly Goodhead in Moonraker. Dr. Noah is clearly a reference to Dr. No, both in name and demeanor. The crazy plan to create a new paradise in an extreme location (the mountain of Everest) is similar to the plot of The Spy Who Loved Me. The absurd 5-minute killing scenario where the heroes are left alone is like every Bond movie ever from the Connery/Moore/Brosnan eras. The gun in the shoe is sorta similar to the knife in the shoe of From Russia With Love. Finally, it ends with a “Julian Bashir Will Return” sort of moment.

It also has a lot of excellent one liners; so many that I don’t think I caught them all.

  1. “I think I joined the wrong intelligence service.” – Garak
  2. “Try to stay cool, Mr. Bashir.” – Dr. Noah
  3. “Kiss the girl; get the key. They never taught me that in the Obsidian Order.” – Garak, and one of my favorite lines in the whole series
  4. “There comes a time when the odds are against you and the most reasonable course of action is to quit.” – Garak
  5. “You’re a man who dreams you’re a hero because deep down, you know you’re not.” – Garak, which in this case is categorically false about Bashir
  6. “I don’t intend to destroy your console; I intend to use it!” – Bashir

Random Thoughts: 1) Runabout down! Orinoco destroyed. 2) I think this episode was sequenced  so that there was a lighter episode before the heavy two-parter where Earth is under siege, which is coming next. 3) The invasion of privacy into Bashir’s fantasies is similar to If Wishes Were Horses (Ep. 1.16). 4) I love how Garak expertly manipulates Bashir into saying “I have nothing to hide!”, which is the opening that allows Garak to stay. 4) The line “What could possibly go wrong?” is clearly a reference to the TNG prevalence of malfunctioning holodecks. 5) It is Quark who realizes that the neural patterns of the crew are held in the whole of the station. 6) Hypocrisy is a key character trait of Hippocrates Noah. 7) I think Garak gains a stronger respect for Bashir in this episode. Julian is more confident and knows enough to use what Garak is saying to his advantage. Garak respects both of these things. 8) I think Avery Brooks plays Noah extremely well. He channels the likes of Donald Pleasence. He also has a brilliant look of confusion on his face when Julian tells him he is right about the decadence of the world. It’s like I can see the holosuite program being confused at this response from the player.  9) This episode was nominated for two Emmy awards (music and hairstyles).  10) The owners of James Bond, MGM, apparently didn’t like the overt references to their copyright.  They sent a letter to the showrunners.  That caused the Bond references to be severely toned down in A Simple Investigation (Ep. 5.17).

Episode 4.9: The Sword of Kahless

•August 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The Bajorans are not the only species to explore faith in DS9; the Klingons have a strong spiritual component to their culture. The faith of the Klingons is much more mystical, and far less structured than that of the Bajorans. Faith journeys for Klingons involve straining the body and staring into fires for hours on end. This journey for the sword is akin to a quest of an ancient artefact, such as the Holy Grail. It begins in a bar, where all good quests start, with a tale and a shroud. I quite enjoyed this opening. However, I think this episode was mostly written to appeal to TNG fans through Worf. There are a lot of connections to Worf’s past here (the Duras connection with Toral, the mention of Worf’s family on the High Council, the Klingon Emperor being a clone). Because of that, I think, this episode ultimately didn’t capture my attention very well. There are few lasting impacts. The only consequential theme is the connection between Worf and Dax begins. Worf sees Jadzia as a strong woman for the first time, worthy of challenging him.

The power of the sword was the effect it could have on Klingons. The sword is never portrayed as anything more than just a sword. But it is so much more than simply a sword. This clear effect it has, without any techno-babble explanation, is the mystical quality of the sword; I think this was better than giving the sword some technological quality. Klingons who come near it become corrupted by grandiose thoughts of power. Even Worf, who is honorable to his own detriment, ends up using fate to justify his selfish actions. He attempts to deceive Kor about the ledge, and afterwards said had he fallen, it would have been destiny. Worf questions the Emperor, someone who Worf himself helped put into power, in favor of himself leading the Klingons. I take away from this the notion that symbols indeed have power. Power to sway hearts and minds, to inspire leaders and villains. They are a rallying point under which we unify our cause. We should tread lightly around our symbols and be critical of them, else they can end up controlling us. I think ancient cultures had a sense of this through idol worship. In the end, it was a common enemy and the heat of combat that bring Kor and Worf back together and back to their senses. This is the Klingon path. Though they did not have a destiny to use the sword to unite the Klingons, they did have a destiny to find it.

Random Thoughts: 1) Kor is a great storyteller. It’s a rare art anymore. 2) Worf had hero worship of Kor. 3) Kor is attacked by a Lethean, the same species that attacks Bashir in Distant Voices (Ep. 3.18). 4) The shroud of the sword appears to be modelled after the Shroud of Turin. 5) Asking Sisko for a runabout in his quarters felt a bit odd. His justification for giving them the runabout, to patch up relations with the Klingons, felt very plausible. 6) The Hur’q, who ruled over the Klingons a thousand years ago, are from the Gamma Quadrant. That means the wormhole has been around a very long time. 7) Kor gives up nearly instantly when they initially couldn’t find the sword. It is Dax and Worf’s tenacity that finally finds the sword. 8) The sword is wrought in a manner similar to Damascus steel. 9) The cave set looks extremely similar to the cave from Move Along Home (Ep. 1.9). 10) Dax ending up stunning both Worf and Kor was well deserved. 11) Kor’s encounter with Kirk in the TOS episode Errand of Mercy (Ep. 1.27) is referenced. 12) This episode is referred to DS9’s version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Episode 4.8: Little Green Men

•July 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is practically a required storyline for any Star Trek series: do a time travel episode in the near-modern day, specifically in the past so the viewer knows how history will play out. DS9 decided to frame this as a Ferengi episode, which means it is an introspective look at our modern human condition. It’s an episode intended not take itself too seriously. It’s fun to think of past events having actually involved Star Trek characters. The story gets some of the details of the Roswell incident correct, such as the weather balloon fabrication and the connection to nuclear test monitoring; the real balloon from Roswell was a nuclear test surveillance balloon, hence why it was concealed by the military. One big thing doesn’t match history though. The events of Roswell happened in 1947. The only New Mexico test the United States conducted was the Trinity test during WWII in 1945. After that, the next nuclear test was in 1946, however it was in the Pacific Ocean. The next test in the American West occurred in Nevada in 1951. None were conducted in 1947. So unless there was an unrecorded nuclear test (highly unlikely), the timeline of this episode doesn’t fit history.

The writers do explicitly state one of their allegories: that modern humans are Ferengi in DS9.  They are so Ferengi-like so that even Ferengi are disgusted by them. In Nog’s words, humans of the mid-20th Century are violent, bigoted, stupid, petty, and selfish! We foolishly irradiate our own atmosphere and purchase poison in stores so that we could willingly inhale it. Sadly, I think much of this is accurate at a broad cultural level. Has much changed? Really, the only change is that we explode nuclear weapons nearly never (though we have plenty in case we change our minds). Still plenty of violence (mass shootings recently?), bigotry (do black lives matter to you?), stupidity (should you vaccinate your children?), pettiness (when did you last forgive someone?), and selfishness (should the healthy fund healthcare for the poor and the elderly?). By the end, the soldiers were acting fearful, distrustful, and gullible. Much like Ferengi.

But that commentary aside, I still think the core of this episode was that it was simply intended to be fun. It made me laugh. The humans’ interpretations of the Ferengi’s actions were amusing, as was Quark’s power trip. Quark was completely willing to destroy the future over some profit. Seeing him in the captain’s chair also made me smile.  Nog’s fantastical tale at the end felt like it was pulled straight from a 1940s swashbuckling space opera, complete with Klingon shock troops! Quark is handed a solid loss here by Odo, though he likely got out of any charges due to lack of evidence. And Rom quietly capitalizes on being in charge of the bar for a few weeks. Odo and Quark got a few good exchanges in, which I always enjoy.

Random Thoughts: 1) The scientist’s and the nurse’s assistance of the Ferengi was idealistic and more representative of humans of the 24th Century. 2) The Ferengi Rite of Passage completely fits: an auction of boyhood treasures to have money to head out into the galaxy. 3) Quark’s quote, “All I want is a tall ship…and a load of contraband to fill it with,” is a modification of the quote on the Defiant’s dedication plaque. The actual quote is by John Masefield, “All I want is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” 4) Mourn is left in charge of the bar! Apparently him drinking profits is cheaper than a Ferengi waiter stealing them. 5) Jake and Nog have a heartfelt goodbye in “the spot.” 6) Sisko’s face is shown as Gabriel Bell, a reference to the events of Past Tense (Ep. 3.11/12). 7) The Ferengi judge human history by the advances in economic systems, not scientific advancements. 8) The Ferengi had to buy warp technology, though from whom is not stated. 9) The opening shot of the 1940s humans have them all smoking copiously. Apt. 10) The Ferengi are actually quite spiritual! This is the first mention of the Ferengi afterlife. 11) Rule of Acquisition 203 is stated! Quark also quotes Rule 62, but doesn’t give the number (The riskier the road, the greater the profit). 12) The sodium pentothal, which is an anesthetic, has no effect on Ferengi. The typical Ferengi trope of not being affected by outside factors. 13) Megan Gallagher, the actor who plays Nurse Garland, also played Mareel in Invasive Procedures (Ep. 2.4).  The writers requested “someone like Megan Gallagher.”  Her agent heard about this, and offered the woman herself for the role.  She also has some good credentials, making her a nice fit as a guest actor on DS9.

Episode 4.7: Starship Down

•July 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The structure of this episode is very interesting and enjoyable. It masquerades as an action episode, but it’s infused with character intrigue. There is a central plot, however it is fragmented into 4 independent storylines, each centered on a different location. At this point in the series, 3 seasons in, there are several well developed characters that are able to carry an interesting storyline using a fraction of the screentime. Not only do they present interesting and independent stories, but all of them progress the characters in some capacity. Three are focused on individual characters, and one of them is focused on a relationship.

On the bridge, Kira’s faith collides with her fear of being rejected by the Emissary because of her faith. I like this one the most because the conflict swirls entirely within Kira and her own tensions. We see Kira frantic at the prospect of losing Sisko; her letting this fear show through is very unlike her. Sisko certainly gives signals that he’s uncomfortable at being Emissary (by scheduling this mission during Ha’mara), but the tension on the bridge is Kira’s struggle to be both a woman of faith and a loyal officer to Sisko. She tries hard to help Sisko using secular wisdom (talking to him about work, using a stimulant). But this is insufficient to assuage her because her core worry is the spiritual consequences of Sisko’s death. He represents great hope for her people; he’s a man who will do great things for Bajor and help heal her people. On a personal level, he represents Kira’s own hope in the future and trust in the Prophets. Once she starts to connect to him through her heritage, her tensions start to ease. When Sisko slips a second time, she turns to a beautiful Bajoran prayer and a medical stimulant. At last, she melds her secular and her spiritual. I like how the cause of his healing is left ambiguous. I like to think it was a combination of her secular and spiritual actions that brought Sisko through his injury.

Quark’s scene in the mess hall is a tale of Quark finding a fellow spirit in his love for business and gambling. Tragically, Hanok initially espouses a business ethic that I feel is most just; the costs of goods are determined by raw materials and labor, not any kind of perceived value or haggling acumen. However, by the end, Quark has convinced him of the joy of gambling. Quark truly is thrilled by this situation with Hanok. He may have been caught cheating, but Quark has the (risky) opportunity to turn this to his advantage and strengthen his relationship with Hanok. Quark thrives on these kinds of risks. As with many of Quark’s storylines, he stumbles through it on instinct, opportunity, and gambling. Without Quark’s actions, the ship would have been destroyed. But he’s resourceful and has the lobes to win his gambles.

Worf’s leadership style is tested and refined in engineering. Worf’s storylines, obviously, carry over from TNG, but in DS9, they have a distinct flavor to them. Worf is moving on from being a security officer, and starting to struggle with the burdens of command. In a combat situation such as this, he is an ideal officer to be in command of warship. However, crippled as the Defiant is, he struggles with using subpar resources. Prior to the attack, he is irked at the imperfect response times of the crew. It is elegant, then, that his command crew in this crisis consists of engineers. They are problem solvers, and on a crippled ship, they are better able to provide for his needs than a by-the-book command-track ensign. I also like how his command style is mentored by O’Brien. The Chief knows how his people work best, and he is able to detect how Worf’s command style chaffs at them. He bridges the gap between them.

Below decks, Dax and Bashir are faced with the reality of their changing relationship. Bashir conducts himself in a typical heroic, idealist fashion, rushing to save Jadzia at great risk to himself. For Jadzia, she has finally come to realize that this is simply who Julian is. He might hope that his heroics impress his love interests, but he is fundamentally motivated by his idealism, not his desire to impress. Julian is a romantic, in the broad sense of the term.  He strives to create the world he wishes to see, one where he can rescue those around him from danger. For Julian, he is (somewhat abruptly, I think) confronted with how his relationship with Jadzia has morphed to one of plutonic friendship. Dax likes who he is, but his initial immaturity was dissonant with her multiple lifetimes of experience. He pursued her too hard and naively. One of his own naïve fantasies has finally come true, and they do not connect sexually. It’s absurd to think they would in such a situation! Now that the sexual tension is lessened between them, they are truly getting to know each other. That tension was acting as a block for friendship. An interesting aside is how this gradual, plutonic path might have lead to them finally get together. In The Visitor (Ep. 4.3), it is implied that Jadzia and Julian end up together, if Worf is taken out of the picture. A similar thought is expressed by Ezri, and I finally found the episode that mentions it! In Afterimage (Ep. 7.3), Ezri tells Julian that if Worf hadn’t come along, it would have been him with Jadzia.

Random Thoughts: 1) The title is a reference to the movie “Grey Lady Down”. 2) The action scenes are fun, as are Sisko’s and Worf’s cleverness in combat. The combat enables the separation of the crew into different compartments and adds well meaning excitement. 3) I like to think that Sisko’s journey toward being Bajor’s Emissary is helped by these exposures to Bajor’s heritage. 4) This episode is a clear win for Quark. His cheating of the Federation isn’t caught, and he forges stronger deals with Hanok. 5) Hanok is played by James Cromwell, the same actor as Zefram Cochrane in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. 6) The Ferengi vessels are effective against the Dominion. Ferengi aren’t useless, as they often are portrayed. 7) Sisko’s confidence in the Defiant is rooted in the fact that he built it during his stint at Utopia Planitia Shipyards after Wolf 359. 8) Quark’s coat comes off. You know it’s serious then. 9) Mourn has 17 brothers and sisters… 10) Kira dislikes holosuites, so her taking Sisko up on a game is very meaningful. Also, Nana Visitor says “Hot. Dogs.” with just the right amount of comedic hesitation.

Episode 4.6: Rejoined

•July 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Oh, how far the world has come in 20 years. This episode ranks fairly early in televised same-sex kisses, which is typical of Star Trek’s desires to push social boundaries before they are culturally accepted. This ranks with the TOS episode Plato’s Kiss (Ep. 3.10) where an early televised interracial kiss occurs between Kirk and Uhura. What’s elegant about how this episode is structured is that nowhere in the episode does any character express concern about Dax and Kahn being of the same sex. It is only the Trill taboo of reassoication that is discussed. This allows a doubled-edged allegory. DS9 explores homosexuality through symbolism of an alien society and portrays the challenges members of the LGBT community face. Simultaneously, DS9 can portray a world where homosexuality is a norm. Both are be done concurrently and with great plausibility. This is the advantage of sci/fi.

Dax, Kahn, and reassociation are infused with allegory. Reassociation is considered “unnatural” by Trill society; this is (to me) a clear reference to the NIV translation of the Biblical text of Romans 1. There is also a veneer of a “legitimate” reason against reassocation: that hosts might get lost in the past an not move on to experience more. This mirrors, in my opinion, thin reasons some Christians give for opposing LGBT rights. I see the Trill perspective then as intended to represent (at a very high level) this specific Christian perspective. Most of the episode is Dax and Kahn working closely together, being tempted. The nature of Torias’s death exacerbates the tension they have; there was so much unsaid between them, so much emotion. These feelings are where their struggle hinges. Ultimately, I think this episode does well in what it intends to do: create a space where the conversation around LGBT rights can be had amongst the audience during a time (1990s) when it wasn’t a pleasant conversation to have. The actual kiss wasn’t overdramatized; it was simple and intimate. Dax and Kahn had good chemistry between them. They had an appropriate nervous interactions. After the accident, Dax and Kahn have a passionate embrace together where they desire to never be apart again. Afterwards, however, only Dax retains this desire; for Kahn, the price to be paid for reassociation is too high and not outweighed by the love they have.

I do want to mention the conversation between Sisko and Dax when she expresses to him her desire to reassociate with Kahn. Sisko is a fierce friend to Dax to do what he did. He honestly challenged her on the social consequences of her choice. DS9 didn’t fully endorse acceptance nor rejection of reassociation (given the allegory and the early 90s air date, firmly endorsing acceptance would have been difficult). However, Sisko’s words do force Dax to engage with the consequences of her actions. She would be shunned by Trill society and her host would be the death of the Dax symbiont. He tells her of her own desires: that she herself values the fact that Jadzia is but a link in the chain of Dax. His argument isn’t about any sort of broad social context; rather he narrows the focus onto her and reminds her what it is that she has striven for in her life. As long as Dax is able to clearly see both what is currently in front of her (Kahn) and what decisions she has already made (her legacy in the Dax line), then Sisko would fully support any decision she makes.

Random Thoughts: 1) I have read some challenges saying that this episode doesn’t actually address homosexuality because the situation involved “an alien who used to be a man” and that Dax was actually kissing as a symbiont, not as the host. While I appreciate this perspective, I think it misses the intentional allegory. 2) I want to emphasize that not all Christians hold now (or even held back in the 90s) this perspective I outlined above. I myself support and desire full equality for the LGBT community both inside and outside the church. My perspective is (I hope) much more holistically considerate of a person. None of us should be solely defined by our sexual orientation or behavior. 3) In Christian culture, Romans 1 involves the most explicit discussion of same sex interactions of anywhere in scripture and, (in my opinion) it is the key verse any informed Christian opinion must address to develop a position of the topic. 4) I’d like to hope that Star Trek pushing these boundaries helped instigate the cultural conversation that formed in the 2000s around LGBT rights. The change in public opinion in the US on same sex behavior and general LGBT rights has been immensely fast, in historical terms. Over the course of 20 years (1996 to 2016), the approval of same sex marriage in the US nationally went from about 25% to 60%. Since just 2006, it went from about 40% to 60%. 5) I also tend to think of this episode alongside the TOS episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (Ep. 3.15). This was another episode that used sci-fi trickery to challenge a poor social norm (racism). 6) Quark’s “future” thoughts on how magic work are amusing (such as beaming the egg into Dax’s mouth). 7) Bashir is a true friend to Dax. He sits through a dinner with her as chaperone and is bored out of his mind! 8) I really looked at the station this time (during the opening sequence). Such a comforting sight to me. 9) Avery Brooks directed this episode. He absolutely loved it and felt it was a great episode. 10) Dax often gives off a cool exterior, even if her interior is boiling over with nervousness. It peeks through here when she puts her commbadge on upside-down. 11) I’m highly amused by Worf’s jokes: “It is better you do not know.” 12) This is Worf’s first command of the Defiant. 13) The artificial wormhole is very different than the Prophets’ wormhole. It is angry, red, and triangular. 14) Much of Dax’s willingness to flaunt the rules comes from Curzon. 15) Torias was Dax’s 5th host, Jadzia Dax’s 8th. With his early death then Joran, Lenara was only 1 host removed from being married to Dax. 16) The plasma fire was green. This is standard in Star Trek. I’m not sure if that would be accurate or not in real life. 17) When trying to convince Kahn to stay with her, Dax gets on her knees. I’m honestly not sure if that was intended to represent her begging or proposing. 18) Susanna Thompson, the actor who plays Lenara Kahn, has also portrayed the Borg Queen in VOY.

Episode 4.5: Indiscretion

•July 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In this episode, Dukat becomes quite a bit more complex as both a character and a villain. This man is an arrogant, self-absorbed megalomaniac who has a twisted love affair with Bajor and her inhabitants. Ziyal is the physical embodiment of Dukat’s split nature. He is deeply Cardassian in his inflexible rules and his superiority complex. But he has a love for Bajorans that oscillates between slimy, lust-fueled interactions to genuine compassion, even if that compassion is executed through his insensitive and arrogant methods. His relationship with Ziyal gives Dukat his most relatable quality; he has strains of both good and evil within him. This is only present in his character while Ziyal is alive, however. Especially after she dies, Dukat descends into a madness that is part evil, part insane. By allowing her to live, he finds compassion for someone who he knows will only cause him pain everywhere else in his life. It’s really easy for us to create caricatures of our enemies in life. But all people, even the most terrible ones, I truly think have good within them. Like Dukat though, they might only show it to their most intimate relationships. And I would challenge anyone who thinks they don’t have enemies. They might not be storybook ones, but all of us have people we disagree with, we might secretly try to rival, or who antagonize us.

Dukat and Kira’s argument over whether the Occupation helped the Bajorans was short but immensely fascinating to me. Dukat’s attitude is certainly laced with Cardassian arrogance, but some of his arguments should make us wonder. The Bajorans are better prepared to handle the galaxy as it is, especially with more villainous foes on the other side of the wormhole. They become more cautious, able to endure hardship, and have a stronger military. Good qualities for a dangerous galaxy. However, it is extremely important to note that this assumes that being a quiet, contemplative race is a less important than these things! I envy these qualities in the pre-Occupation Bajorans. In fact, Kira argues that Bajor accomplished all it did in spite of the Occupation. I would say that the Bajorans who do retain the contemplative nature (Opaka and Bareil practice it; Kira finds it as she grows) are able to prevent the Occupation from hardening them. Instead, it allows them to be pliable for the needs of the greater whole of Bajor. I think the ultimate arrogance of Dukat here is not that he assumed that the Occupation made the Bajorans stronger (which tragedy often does), but that their strength was his definition of strength.

As with many subplots, Sisko’s actions with Kasidy have a refreshing, lighter tone than the main plot. It has a humorous undercurrent, with Sisko appearing to be the typical commitment-resistant man, but I like how they connected this back to a very personal fear of his. His job is what killed Jennifer, and the last thing he wants to do is expose someone else he loves to that kind of danger. That is meaningful, and I think it’s clear at the end that his hesitancy is justified. But thankfully it isn’t enough to overcome how well suited Kasidy and Sisko are for each other. She is a strong woman, accepting of the dangers that come along with Sisko.

Random Thoughts: 1) I’m not unaware that 2 of the 3 people I listed as contemplative are dead (effectively). Their contemplation lead them to risk much, accomplish much, and pay with their lives. 2) Odo and Kira are seen meeting for the weekly criminal activity report. It has an intimate undertone, as Odo knows what Kira will do before she does. 3) Waiting 52 hours is two days in DS9 time. A station day is 26 hours. 4) Dukat does have knowledge of the Bajoran people, by respecting their burial customs. Kira also knows enough of Cardassians’ high respect for family. 5) Bajoran faith mirrors most faiths, by placing importance on the soul, not the body. 6) The Bajoran Resistance was fairly sophisticated. They implanted key people with trackers. 7) Kira takes a strong interest in Ziyal from this point forward. I think she sees her as abandoned by her father and motherless by tragic circumstance. Kira herself was orphaned early in her life. 8) Jake has surpassed his father in some ways. His and Nog’s advice was filled with wisdom. 9) The Breen are first introduced. 10) Dukat and Ziyal have a tumultuous relationship. A big portion of that, I think, is that Ziyal is traumatized by Dukat wanting to kill her right off the bat, and she had to convince him otherwise. 11) Thanks to Ziyal, Dukat loses his career, family, and power.  12) When Dukat sits on the spine, that is a pivotal moment for Kira’s relationship to him.  In that moment, Kira starts to see Dukat as a person, not just a villain.

Interlude: The Opening Sequence

•July 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The opening sequence of DS9 makes one major change, between Seasons 3 and 4, so now seemed like a good time to discuss the two variants. The sequence is reflective of the setting and tone, and the change happens while the show’s tone is transitioning. Some of the changes are subtle while others are much more obvious. The visual changes, such as adding the Defiant, were obvious. But the tempo change actually took me several years and multiple viewings to realize it happened. Despite the changes though, the core of the opening sequence is the same. The station remains the central focus of the sequence; the camera rotates around the station, as opposed to the station moving past the camera (as the Enterprise does in the opening sequence to TNG). This show is about a crew based in a single place where they must manage the changing situation around them and deal with the consequences of their actions. The steadfast nature of the station is prominent.

The first version of the sequence is the one that sticks most strongly with me, and it is the one I usually conjure in my mind’s eye. As the camera pans through the scene, there is mostly darkness, and the station grows in size as the camera approaches. The station is a bastion of light and activity in the literal darkness, as if it’s a fort in the wilderness in the Old West. This is the crew’s speck of home in an empty, distant place. There is permanency to the station’s presence that lays a bedrock for the setting. The station also has the feeling of being on the doorstep of the unknown. It is the origin for the lone runabout, and the sequence ends with a burst of light, color, and motion just outside the station. The wormhole is clearly a portal as the runabout goes through into an unseen beyond. There is absolutely this sense of the station being an unusual place that stands out against the blackness. The opening seconds with the comet and the quiet music is soothing, inviting, and calm. The song itself isn’t grandiose or attack the senses; it retains a quiet strength to the melody as it crescendos. I relate strongly to the song itself; the musical qualities mirror attitudes I want to cultivate in myself. The first version of the sequence was slower and fit the Old West style.

The changes that struck me first were the visual changes. The station is a much more active place from Season 4 onward. There are multiple runabout flying about, lots of ships docked at the station, and the Defiant is present. The station has changed from a bastion to a hub. Lots of activity surrounds the station, as it now is the epicenter of the Dominion threat. Science vessels prepare to head into the Gamma Quadrant on exploratory missions; the Defiant also heads to the unknown quadrant, but for defense and reconnaissance, not science. The change in the song took me several viewings to actually catch. The tempo sped up, and there’s some added melodic nuance and a strong beat. Both of these changes reflect the more urgent and tense nature of the show. I find the heavy beat symbolic of the Dominion threat; it is the narrative that runs throughout the rest of the series.

Random Thought: 1) The song itself actually has a physical soothing effect on me whenever I hear it. I’m sure it’s an interplay of nostalgia and lyrical quality, but it can act as a touchstone for me to recenter myself. 2) The order of billing starts with Avery Brooks, as the captain, followed by the rest of the crew in alphabetical order. 3) Throughout the series, there are changes to how the crew is billed. Promotions happen, Worf and Ezri are added, and Siddig El Fadil changes his name to Alexander Siddig.