Episode 4.24: The Quickening

•December 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is one of my favorite episodes. I can’t even come up with a good intro; I just want to jump straight into it.

The brutality of the Blight is shocking. The Dominion created a disease the causes physical, emotional, and cultural distress upon these people. These people are wracked with immense physical pain. They suffer sudden, unexpected deaths of their loved ones. Culturally, the society loses people at all stages of life, and they cannot create or maintain cultural institutions. Yet there are enough people who survive to childbearing age that the society can continue to limp along. It doesn’t end here. Efforts to cure the disease have all lead to failure, which further demoralizes the people. In fact, trying to cure the disease causes yet more pain. The only way to find how to cure it is to use advanced medicine. However, advanced medicine, and the EM fields it creates, accelerates the progress of the disease and inflicts immense agony in the person. Think of it: the disease prevents society from advancing; it’s stops just short of ending the society by allowing some procreation; and the cure cannot be researched due to the agony advanced medicine creates. It’s a perfect trap that keeps this society swirling around this moment when the Dominion broke them. The solution Julian inadvertently finds, which is a vaccine, not a cure, is quite poetic, I think. The disease is a generational disease. The effects go far beyond any individual in the society. The vaccine is also generational and goes beyond the individual who is inoculated with it. Those alive will not see relief, but their children, their society and future are preserved. The ending wraps up tragedy and beauty and leaves the viewer holding this tense ball of contradicting emotions. Perfect.

This episode leans into Julian’s idealism and romanticism, and it portrays a very positive consequence of that romanticism. In the runabout at the beginning, Julian is waxing philosophic about exploring the universe (a clear nod to his romantic philosophy). That transitions into him believing he can cure this disease in a week. Arrogance or idealism? I contend both. Julian is undeterred. He sees an insurmountable problem (this society has struggled with this disease for 200 years) but is willing to throw himself into the thick of that society’s pain. His idealism fuels his passion and determination. But lets be honest…finished in a week? Immense arrogance. Jadzia is the perfect companion here. She offers wisdom that can only come from 300 years of life. Her line: “It may be arrogant to think that. But it is more arrogant to think there is no cure because you couldn’t find one.” This spurs Julian and keeps him grounded. Stops him from descending into a swirling vortex of depression. That moment leads to perseverance. He settles into a more humble posture of simply helping Ekoria through her pregnancy and helping her give birth. Simple doctor stuff. Without his care, Ekoria would never have made it to term. Julian never would have known his cure was actually a vaccine. He refused to give up on the core principles of medicine: do no harm, reduce pain, and help the patient in their desires. That idealism…that refusal to surrender…initiates, fuels, and finishes Julian’s role in helping this society out of it’s trap.

Given the tragedy this society has suffered, they should be completely broken, bitter, and emotionally destroyed. Much of Julian and Jadzia’s interactions see these elements. They are broken, committing suicide with the help of Travean. They are bitter, scoffing at Julian’s offers of help. They are emotionally destroyed, exhausted from the cycle of pain. Yet hope burns in these people. In a darkness where there should be no hope, a flame persists. Ekoria carries this child and adamantly refuses to surrender to despair at her child’s future. She has a similar idealistic attitude as Julian does. Even after Julian’s failure in his clinic, she still has hope in him. What else can she cling to? Hope is most powerful in the darkness of despair. In her last moments, Ekoria sees her child is free from the Blight. Her own dedication and perseverance in seeing her child be born is the lynchpin of this story. Trevean, also, is an absolutely fantastic character. He isn’t a monster who reveres death. His own philosophy as a healer is in alignment with Julian’s, and Julian learns from him, I think. Trevean works to reduce the pain of his patients and do no harm. The suffering of his people weighs on him. His compassion for his people has become woven together with the daily suffering he sees. The look on his face when Julian shows him the baby free of the Blight is fantastic. His own hope, dead from years of seeing suffering, bursts forth, and he tenderly accepts the task of creating the vaccine and distributing it. In that moment, his compassion is separated from suffering, and instead becomes woven together with hope.

This story, with the elements of the Blight, Julian’s idealism, and the alien characters, is a powerful story of hope. These flames of hope are so difficult to snuff out. That should tell us something. Hope does not easily die because there is a mystical truth and reality to it. Hope isn’t a delusion. If it was, it would be so easily dispelled. Hope is a universal human experience, transcending culture, and an experience that can bind us together. Finding that seed of hope that we commonly share has the potential to end strife between us, to break tribalism. In our darkest moments, may we remember the flames of hope.

Random Thoughts: 1) There are three things, that it seems to me, are universal human experiences. Faith, hope, and love. May these be used to bind us ever closer and combat the forces that seek to drive us apart. 2) We’ve seen over several episodes this season that the Dominion has immense skill at genetic manipulation. This is crucial to their power. 3) Both of the two guest actors were fantastic. Ellen Wheeler, who played Ekoria, was primarily a soap opera actress, and won an Emmy for that work. Jaques André, who portrayed Trevean, had some solid starring performances and was a guest actor on many projects throughout his career. 4) The intro with Odo, Quark, and Worf was hilarious. I love it when Worf gets livid at Quark. And I love seeing Odo in the background enjoying it. 5) I liked the matte painting of the devastated world. 6) Trevean initially sees naiveté in Julian, like so many characters do. For Trevean, there’s also the element of him fiercely defending his people from suffering. That includes suffering caused by false hope. 6) Julian gives us a bit of insight into why he’s a healer. He wants to drive off death for another day. 7) In the moment where Julian is in despair trying to save Epran, Dax can only get through to him by calling him “Doctor”, appealing to his professionalism. 8) After the tragedy at the clinic, Julian’s humility is shown by him willing using very old techniques, like creating a salve in a flask. 9) Ekoria dying within moments of her child being born is absolutely tragic. But equally poignant and poetic.

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Episode 4.23: To The Death

•December 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Weyoun’s presence in DS9 is an essential element that shapes the second half of the series in a profound way. He is an embodiment of the sinister, ruthless Dominion. Weyoun represents the velvet glove of the Dominion. Weyoun constantly sounds like he’s being a polite, reasonable guy. But he is evil to the core. He will utterly destroy a civilization if it advances the Founders’ agenda. Weyoun is constantly maneuvering himself and others. He’ll manipulate anyone, from Jem’Hadar to Federation officer, to get what he needs. He’ll respect the order of things as long as it advances the Founders’ agenda. While Bajor has a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, he respects the agreement and is amicable to Major Kira. He’s a great friend…until the moment he’s not a friend. Weyoun is also very calculated. I think he cleverly tells Sisko about his pyschographic profile to manipulate Sisko. His portrayal by Jeffery Combs is absolutely brilliant. His nonchalance is a core character trait of Weyoun. I’m not sure if they intended to have Weyoun come back, but I’m immensely grateful they did.

Jem’Hadar seek victory above all else. In this episode, Omet’iklan is willing to suffer any indignation, even disrespect from a Vorta, to eliminate the rebels. These Jem’Hadar are immensely loyal to the Founders. This creates both a respected and formidable foe. The more the Federation sees into the psyche of the Jem’Hadar, the more insurmountable a foe they become. The Jem’Hadar were implicitly compared to two different species in this episode. There is a subtle, but important, difference between the Jem’Hadar and the Klingons. For Klingons, they fight for the honor of it. They clearly seek victory, but only because victory brings honor. The Klingons revel in their accomplishments. The Jem’Hadar, on the other hand, seek only victory. There is no joy, no pride. Just victory. This makes them immensely dangerous, because they are not distracted by what comes after victory. There’s also a contrast between the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta. The Jem’Hadar are steeped in ritual and structure. When Weyoun shows contempt for the ritual of giving White to the First, he disrespects the Jem’Hadar themselves. When the Second, Toman’torax, disobeys orders, he is killed on the spot. Their loyalty to the Founders is rooted in this structure and ritual. The Vorta, on the other hand, are loyal to the Founders in a devotional, sycophantic way. Weyoun speaks to Odo in hushed and reverent tones. It’s a formidable combination of loyal servants the Founders have created.

The episode is rounded out with some great tension and action. Worf gets several moments here to be fully Klingon, which I greatly enjoyed. He protects his own honor and the honor of others. He finally breaks and attacks Toman’torax because Toman’torax called O’Brien a coward. He gives sound advice to Sisko as an executive officer…followed by a vow to avenge his death should it come to pass. The action sequence to end the episode allowed a nice conclusion to all tension from the rest of the episode. I think this operation spread word through the Dominion that the Federation and the Klingons are not as weak as the other Alpha Quadrant races. The killing Weyoun took me by surprise, but it was a perfect way to end the episode.

Random Thoughts: 1) There is a core of recurring characters that are fundamental to the show, and without them, DS9 would not be the same. I would consider this list to be Garak, Dukat, Winn, Weyoun, Martok, Nog, and Damar. And Morn. There are other excellent recurring characters, but this list, to me, contains characters that shaped the essence of DS9 in some way. This will probably become an Interlude sometime in Season 5. 2) This Weyoun clone was Weyoun 4. We’ll see a total of 5 Weyouns during the show, ending on Weyoun 8. 3) An awesome effect to have an entire pylon be blown off DS9 and for the viewer to see it. Emphasizes the danger the Dominion poses.  4) I like how Julian toys with Worf in the beginning about his seat. 5) The incident with the Enterprise and the Iconian Gateway that Worf mentions is from Contagion (TNG Ep. 2.11). 6) Weyoun confirms that the Founder control over the Jem’Hadar partially depends on the White; it isn’t just genetic programming. 7) They do address the obvious way to deal with the renegades…bombing the gateway from orbit wouldn’t work. 8) The interaction between Virak’kara and Dax is amusing. Jem’Hadar only live to be in the teens, if they are lucky. 9) Omet’iklan’s speech contrasted with O’Brien’s speech was hilarious to me. 10) Weyoun encouraging Odo to return to the Founders and submit to them foreshadows the season finale, Broken Link (Ep. 4.26). In fact, and I didn’t realize this on my own, it is written into the script of this episode that when Weyoun claps Odo on the shoulder, he infects him with the virus that forces him back to the Founders in Broken Link. 11) It’s a common trick of Odo to be a bag during a fight. 12) Jeffery Combs also portrays Liquidator Brunt, FCA. I have to admit that it wasn’t until I saw Dogs of War (Ep. 7.24) the first time that I figured this out. Granted, at the time, I was watching only one a week as they came out. 13) Clarence William III, the actor who portrays Omet’iklan, is a brilliant Jem’Hadar. He brought out a fierceness that I really liked and it felt very Jem’Hadar-y. Another one-off guest star that brings immense strength to DS9.

Episode 4.22: For The Cause

•December 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I like the personal nature the conflict with the Maquis takes on. This isn’t a conflict about grand, galaxy-wide politics or ensuring the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. This is a conflict of people being oppressed who simply want to be left alone. They feel abandoned by their government and threatened by an outside power. Putting Eddington on the Maquis side, a character with a fuller personality and motivation, is brilliant. It gives more life to the Maquis. The way he does this, through betraying Sisko and assaulting one of Sisko’s officers, creates a personal dimension for Sisko. There is a battle of philosophies, but most of the remaining conflicts with the Maquis are seen through this personal lens. The betrayal Sisko feels morphs into a personal vendetta against Eddington. To Sisko, he pursues Eddington not for the bigger political reasons, but because Eddington broke his oath and attacked a crewmate. I have to give it to Eddington. He manipulated all the people involved expertly. He used Kasidy to distract Sisko. He used Odo to support his proposals. He gingerly lead Sisko to the conclusion he wanted. The only one he couldn’t manipulate, Kira, he shot. More respect for Kira!

Though I think the core of the remaining conflict with the Maquis is a personal conflict, the battle of philosophies is at the core of what DS9 tried to do with the Star Trek world. Eddington gives a scathing damnation of the Federation by comparing them to the Borg (incidentally, this fuels Sisko’s personal vendetta, given Sisko’s past). The “paradise” created by the Federation is meaningless to the Maquis. They don’t feel it. The Federation’s paradise is for the lucky and powerful on Earth and other core worlds. The people in the DMZ are merely pawns in the galactic political game the Federation is playing. I actually feel similarly to O’Brien. I have respect for these people. The overly violent nature of the Maquis’s methods causes me hesitation, but at some point, when voices aren’t listened to by those in power, more forceful measures are necessary. I wouldn’t go so far as violence (especially violence that injures people), but civil disobedience can be appropriate (similar to Martin Luther King Jr.’s approach).

Kasidy is a pawn in this episode, but her reaction to all the events is important. I think a key element here is that she was completely intentional in her actions. She knows she’s is smuggling. She creates very complex and full lies for Sisko whenever he asks her about her travels. She’s ready for him, and that is a deep betrayal to Sisko. His anger at her when he boards the Xhosa is a justified, quiet, simmering rage that Sisko is best at. All of this, however, is mitigated because she was carrying medical supplies. She turns herself in because she is deeply in love with Sisko. She’ll serve her time, then she’ll return. As I said above, there is an element here that, to me, is appropriate civil disobedience. Kasidy’s actions were done, not to cause harm or violence, but to prevent people from dying and improve their quality of life. She’s willing to pay the Federation’s price for her actions so that she may return to Sisko. Due to the mitigating circumstances (smuggling medical supplies and turning herself in), the price won’t be high.

Garak’s plot is an enjoyable diversion from the heavier element of the main plot. Garak, in his usual way, vastly overthinks the situation with Ziyal. She’s just interested in good company, while Garak is looking for more sinister elements in her actions. I love how Ziyal reacts to this. She doesn’t need his company (said with complete confidence). She just would enjoy it, and it’s up to Garak to decide if her openness is something he can trust. Despite Dukat, despite Kira, Garak is willing to trust Ziyal on her terms. He goes so far as to admit, without obfuscation, some elements of his past. The confirmation that he tortured and killed her grandfather is monumental for Garak. He has a level of implicit and unearned trust with Ziyal that, I think, Garak will never really completely explain to himself. Personally, I think the fact that they are both outcasts is very powerful. Our desire for belonging, for something bigger than ourselves is huge. Even growing our circle from 1 person to 2 people is immensely attractive to our souls.

Random Thoughts: 1) This is the only appearance of Tracy Middendorf as Ziyal. I’m somewhat disappointed by this, because I think this is the best actress of the three to portray her. 2) It wasn’t until this viewing of the episode that I realized that Garak actually confirms that he tortured and killed Dukat’s father. Some of my previous entries have alluded to the fact that we don’t get confirmation; this is clearly wrong. 3) From the beginning, Eddington is trying to play a good, loyal Federationist. To Sisko, he assumes Kasidy’s guilt in order to prove her guilt. This is contrary to Federation principles. 4) I personally greatly enjoy that forms of racquetball are in DS9. I love playing that sport myself. 5) I love Quark. He can state the obvious that we need to hear. “You’re a man; she’s a woman. It’s a date.” Amusingly though, in the same scene, he sows confusion by planting the idea of a double cross in Garak’s mind. 6) Eddington directly names some of the thematic elements DS9 is doing with the Star Trek world. “No one leaves paradise.” The challenge is that it isn’t paradise for everyone in the Federation. 7) I think that Ziyal’s attitude of not needing company, but wanting it, is an immensely healthy attitude for her to have in life.

Episode 4.21: The Muse

•December 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I think there are interesting topics here in The Muse (Ep. 4.21), but as a whole, I was fairly unimpressed with this episode. On the one hand, I love how Odo reacts to Lwaxana. When he’s with her, he realizes he has a deep yearning to be known intimately, and she does know him that well. I enjoyed how she knew the structure in his quarters was for shapeshifting, not as a sculpture. Lwaxana forces Odo to face himself and his feelings for Kira. He can’t escape them because Lwaxana won’t let him hide behind his excuses. Yet, she knows that Kira is the woman for Odo, and therefore she must leave. I love how Lwaxana able to soften Odo’s hard exterior, so that he may one day allow Kira inside the shell. On the other hand, her character grates on me. I know this is a key aspect of her character though. Lwaxana is a challenge to the audience to not be judgmental of her clingy, annoying nature. She is a wonderful person who brings out good in others. But in this setting, fleeing a misogynist while pregnant, she feels overly comical to me. I have a similar impression of Onaya. While there’s a good allegory with Onaya’s and Jake’s interaction, but the portrayal of Onaya feels so comical to me. Even after watching the episode, I’m not sure which of the two was the A plot.

However, I applaud the attempt by the writers to portray an intentional allegory of this nature. There is a clear sexual allegory with Onaya. She’s portrayed as a predator, but as a Sci Fi show, they misdirect the target of her desire onto artistry, not sex. Her quarters are laid out as a den, her voice is breathy and seductive, and she is very physical with Jake as she manipulates him. She uses her hands to stimulate him in a primal fashion, directly on chakras. The inspiration for this type of alien came from Celtic folklore: the leannán si. This creature takes a lover, who lives a brief and inspired life. Jake falls prey to this. In the Jeffery’s tube, Jake is forced to write against his will, an allegory for rape. After Jake is rescued, Onaya escapes without any consequences. It’s a good story to tell, but for me, the ending falls a bit flat. I’m not sure what the resolution was intended to communicate, other than last minute heroics by Sisko and his fatherly love for Jake.

There is a second allegory here that I see, but I’m not sure if it was intentional or not. The alien feeds on creativity and artistry, as if those were real substances. I believe that artistry is a real substance in our world. It isn’t tangible, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I think sometimes that we can forget the need for and value of artistry. We get lost in consumption, and we forget to allow art to change us, to move us. The essence of life is more than just our physical stuff, in my opinion. It’s in the ever flowing relationships we build and find ourselves participating in. At it’s heart, art is relational. It’s a minor component of this story, but one that struck me.

Random Thoughts: 1) Michael Ansara, the actor who plays Jeyal, is also Commander Kang the Klingon. He’s been in 3 Star Trek series (TOS, DS9, and VOY) and portrayed two characters. 2) This is the last on-screen appearance of Majel Barrett, in any Star Trek show. She does continue doing voicework. 3) The station is clearly bustling more than it has in past seasons. The station has become a central hub of commerce and traffic. No longer is it a backwater outpost. 4) Sisko is spending more time on Bajor. He is investing more in that world. 4) When talking about feeling like a changeling who’s forced to keep her shape too long, Lwaxana is referencing her first appearance in The Forsaken (Ep. 1.16). 5) I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but Bajorans will clap by hitting the back of one hand against the front of another hand. Kira is clearly seen doing this at the wedding. 6) The name of the book Jake wrote is Anselm. This is the same book that is discussed in the alternate, future timeline of The Visitor (Ep. 4.3).

Episode 4.20: Shattered Mirror

•December 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As with all of the Mirror Universe episodes in DS9, this one is all flash and little substance. It’s an action episode with the usual Mirror characters. I am one of the few who enjoyed the Mirror Universe episodes, and that’s mostly because I liked the flashy, tongue-in-cheek episodes where the characters have totally different flavors to them. In this installment, the space battle was high quality; multiple ships engaged together with a last-minute save by Mirror-Bashir and Mirror-Dax. However, this episode is the 3rd of 5 Mirror episodes though and little has happened in this world. The Mirror characters remain one dimensional and there is only a flimsy meta-plot holding them all together (the Terrans on Mirror-Terok Nor fighting the Alliance). In one sense, I clearly like this, but I will say, I’m glad it’s only an annual tradition. The best part of this episode is that we’ve had 3 Mirror episodes, and we’ve now got 3 dead Mirror Ferengi!

There’s a hodgepodge of interesting character points here. Since I didn’t see a coherent theme to this episode, I’m just going to list the bits I saw. Jake is completely vulnerable to Jennifer, and her death was very rough on him and Sisko. It’s like they experienced their mother’s death all over again. Nog is extremely different than his Mirror counterpart. Mirror-Nog has no redeeming qualities, quite unlike Mirror-Quark. Mirror-Bashir and Mirror-Dax are together here, a scenario that would never happen in the Prime universe. Mirror-Worf is fairly uninteresting to me. He’s portrayed just like any other overly aggressive Klingon. All brawn and no honor. The Intendent has become even more hypersexual, instead of narcissistic as Nana Visitor desired.

Random Thoughts: 1) As with previous episodes, the next Mirror episode, Resurrection (Ep. 6.8), is foreshadowed with Kira saying Sisko will pay for his actions. 2) Smiley stole the Defiant plans during the few seconds he was on the other side kidnapping Sisko during Through the Looking Glass (Ep. 3.19). 3) Mirror-Garak provides some modest comic relief. 4) Mirror-Worf’s ship is the same design as the Negh’Var, the Klingon Flagship in the Prime universe. 5) In one universe, Jake is chased off from the Spot by Odo; in another, he’s chased off by Mirror-Nog. 6) Mirror-Nog: Dead.

Episode 4.19: Hard Time

•November 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I think this is the roughest, most monstrous of the “O’Brien must suffer” episodes. It’s utterly brilliant and horribly cruel. The writers leverage a very sci-fi premise, a time-compressed simulation, but they do it to add 20 years of an inhumane incarceration. And Miles was ostensibly innocent. It’s possible he broke a law he was unaware of, but we’re confident that Miles was at least following his own code of respect for Agrathi laws as best as he could. The trauma induced by this experience nearly destroys O’Brien. As I’ve written this entry, I realize I probably didn’t do the theme of psychological trauma itself due justice; I’ve focused mostly on how Julian’s and Miles’s relationship reacts to Miles’s incarceration. Psychological trauma isn’t something I’ve thought much about, but I hope that others who watch this can find connection and solace in how O’Brien himself experiences and deals with his trauma.

The theme of this episode, the psychological trauma of murder and the guilt associated with it, revolves around O’Brien’s relationship with Ee’char. The similarities between Miles’s relationship with Ee’char and his relationship with Julian are clear. Ee’char becomes a friend to O’Brien, despite O’Brien’s initial resistance to this. Ee’char has, what can be considered by some, an annoying happiness in him. He’s in a horrifying situation, yet he has inexplicable happiness in his soul. This is similar to O’Brien’s initial annoyance with Julian. When Miles returns to the station, Julian is the one to meet him, mirroring Ee’char greeting Miles when he’s thrown in the cell. At the climax of the story, Miles tells Julian that he would have killed him, just as he killed Ee’char. The rage and vitriol Miles directs at Julian is because Miles feels that for himself and has nowhere to release it.

Without Julian, I believe Miles would have killed himself. Not just because Julian was there at the last moment, but also for the things Julian did throughout the episode to help Miles. Julian can see beneath the surface with Miles. He knows he needs to integrate slowly and do things beyond just work. As Miles deteriorates, Julian stays focused on his well-being, authorizing him to be relieved from duty. What’s key here, I think, is that Miles was completely fooling himself, but Julian knew better. After 4 years, Julian is Miles’s closest friend; he knows things that Miles needs before Miles himself realizes it. The final scene in the cargo bay is absolutely brilliant. Miles finally reveals the burden he’s been carrying, and Julian is there to name the falsehood of what Miles is feeling. Miles may have failed in a singular moment, allowed the hate and rage overcome him, but that is not the defining quality of Miles Edward O’Brien. At his worst, Miles nearly hits his daughter; but he doesn’t, and that’s absolutely crucial. The remorse we feel is an essential component to our humanity. Julian was there to show him that Miles’s pain is the most human reaction to the brutal psychological trauma he experienced.

I consider this one of the best episodes because it does so many things well. It leverages a great sci-fi premise and uses that as a proxy for a broad theme. Central to this episode is Julian’s and Miles’s friendship. Julian exhibits some of his best qualities (perseverance, medical insight, compassion). O’Brien’s conflict builds and builds, and we watch him descend into pain throughout the episode. I enjoyed the parallel storytelling as more of O’Brien’s experience was revealed. The acting of the guest actor Ee’char was excellent.

Random Thoughts: 1) I like how O’Brien is not confused at what is reality. This is about the trauma, not his reality. 2) At one point, Julian lists the “O’Brien must suffer” episodes to Keiko. It’s a nod to this story type in DS9. 3) I’ve tried eseekas myself. They were an interesting way to find mediation and peacefulness. It’s very similar to breath focus as a way to meditate. 4) Jake helps O’Brien remember the tools. This was a nice way to use Jake’s past and to reintegrate O’Brien. 5) When stressed, O’Brien reverted to his old opinions of Julian. Calling him smug and superior. 6) O’Brien’s various explosions are his repressed guilt bubbling up. 7) I do think it was a bit sketchy that Ee’char was hiding food. I don’t think that he was really saving it for both of them. Otherwise, why didn’t he reveal it earlier? It doesn’t excuse Miles’s actions, but it did strike me as deceptive. 8) At the end, Miles thanks Julian deeply. With each experience they share, the stronger friends they become. 9) Craig Wasson, the actor who plays Ee’char, is another of the excellentguest actors on DS9.  He has a litany of guest spots on TV.  He’s been nominated for a Golden Globe.

Episode 4.18: Rules of Engagement

•November 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The battle being played out in the courtroom is not a battle over truth or determining guilt. It is a battle over narrative. At the outset, Advocate Ch’Pok declares that there are no facts in dispute in the case. What the Advocate wants to do is show that Worf’s Klingon nature has no place in the Federation. His purpose is to drive a deeper wedge between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and ideally leverage that to the Klingons advantage by stopping Federation aid to the Cardassians. The resolution of the episode rests ultimately on Odo finding truth, and not which lawyer tells the better narrative; this is a much more satisfying ending to me than one where Worf is shown to be more Federation than Klingon. What I like about this episode is that it’s a good bit of storytelling. The Advocate weaves his elements well and is able to get into the minds of his opponents.

This episode centers around the telling of the narrative. It pits Ch’Pok against Worf’s collection of witnesses (as even the witnesses Ch’Pok calls are on Worf’s side). I think a tension that the episode attempts to convey is that Worf is absolutely a bloodthirsty Klingon, so if his character is truly what is on trial, then Worf is doomed. All of Worf’s friends are maneuvered into telling the truth: Worf is a Klingon, and he loves being a Klingon. What’s admirable about the Advocate’s strategy is that he uses the witnesses to show that Worf is a Klingon, but calls Worf a coward and a traitor Klingon culture to Worf’s face. Both tactics support his strategy of portraying Worf as someone who cannot be judged by Federation standards. He even plays Sisko, by tricking Sisko into thinking he is afraid of Worf on the stand.  Ch’Pok expertly used that to his advantage. If not for Odo, I believe he would have succeeded in making his case.

The conversation at very end is quite important to understanding Worf, and Worf’s words are something many of us can learn from. Throughout the episode, he’s clearly shown as a passionate warrior who seeks to claim victory through any honorable means available to him. On the battlefield, he lived in the moment. Yet at the end, he’s deeply introspective. He realizes he did have something to prove, and that his actions as an officer in red will reverberate into his crew. Leadership isn’t simple, and it demands sacrifice. In general in Star Trek, it seems like the Klingons that are portrayed positively are those who are warrior poets. Ferocity and spirituality, combined. I think there is something deeply admirable about anyone who can meld such divergent personality traits. They seem to have a holistic view of life that I strive for.

Random Thoughts: 1) Ron Canada, the actor for Ch’Pok, specializes in portraying lawyers and judges. I wonder if he thought anything differently about portraying a Klingon lawyer. 2) I didn’t like the Vulcan judge. She was too passive against Ch’Pok. 3) At one point, Ch’Pok criticizes the Federation legal system as favoring procedure. In the following scene, he uses that to his advantage by illegally searching Worf’s personal files, only to get around it by shaming Worf into permitting him access. 4) Sisko does a terrible job as a lawyer. He never cross-examined the witnesses. The Advocate certainly does this. 5) I’m amused at Quark getting lost in the details of the bar. 6) This is an instance (of many) where it’s the joke that Morn will be about to speak, only to be cut off somehow. This is a recurring joke in the series. 7) As another criticism of O’Brien, he is a non-comm. He hasn’t been trained in leadership like an officer would have. 8) The element where the characters speak directly at the camera during the flashbacks was a good one.  It helps the episode be a bit unique.