Episode 4.13: Crossfire

•September 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

What I find beautiful about this episode is how a character so alien can be made so very human. This is a common literary element in Sci/Fi, but I think it’s well executed here. Odo is the most alien of any Star Trek species (with the possible exception of the Horta); he is literally a different phase of matter (liquid) who lives to become things around him. Despite his alien nature, he is confronted with loneliness, unrequited love, and a descent into depression. Odo is faced with the reality that he may be too late in expressing his feelings to Kira; this is something that probably resonates very strongly with a majority of DS9’s fan base. Shakaar lays out Odo’s dilemma for him: either he says nothing to Kira, enjoys the friendship they have, and the relationship goes no further; or he risks losing the friendship for something more. Odo’s advice to Shakaar is to have patience. When Odo quietly mutters that this is what he’d do, it strikes deep at my heart, because both the audience and Odo realize that patience only leads to the status quo. Shakaar ignores this, pursues Kira, and forms a romantic relationship with Kira. This is the best evidence that Odo has missed his opportunity. Odo’s depression is enhanced by how his struggles with his own feelings impact his ability to do his job. Not only does he fear he’s too late with Kira, but that fear puts himself, Kira, and Shakaar in danger. To add injury to insult, Worf ends up doing Odo’s job for him. Every bit of order in Odo’s life is falling into chaos.  In the beginning of Odo’s rampage in his quarters, he throws and shatters a plant in a pot.  This is deeply symbolic.  The plant was given to him by Kira when he moved into the quarters, and the pot was the bucket he regenerated in.  This being destroyed symbolizes both the (implied) destruction of his future with Kira and the destruction of his old self.  At the end of this episode, Odo has moved on from both.

What I don’t want to imply here is that Kira is some prize to be had between them. What I think the core element DS9 is trying to convey is that we cannot expect life to be unchanging. Life progresses around us. And per Quark, we must either allow our feelings to manifest, or we have to move on. If we stay in our unchanging bubble, before we know it, life has passed us by. A powerful truth about life I learned early on is that life will change. The better pursuit is whether we change with grace and whether we change into who we want to become. There is certainly comfort in the familiar, in the order of our lives. Having order can be helpful, especially for some personalities. But as with most things in life, we need wisdom to know whether our order is preventing us from gaining other joys or stagnating our progress.

Odo and Quark’s friendship has this stark, masculine quality to it where they cannot bring themselves to openly acknowledge their plutonic feelings. It’s actually a safe kind of relationship for Odo. Where Odo needs to confront his romantic feelings for Kira, his plutonic feelings toward Quark don’t need the same kind of confrontation. They have a stability between them; it’s important to remember that Quark and Odo knew each other years before the events of Emissary (Ep. 1.1). And so Quark is able to recognize the feelings Odo is having before Odo himself publicly acknowledges them. Odo must address his not just his feelings, but his capacity to handle his feelings. Odo spends some hard years coming to grips with the fact that he even has the capacity to love a humanoid. And he spends time learning how to be vulnerable, how to trust others, how to be pliable to others’ needs. Quark plays a key role in guiding Odo through these difficult transitions. What’s important to remember about Quark (and most Ferengi) is that their honorable nature often manifests itself in their profit seeking ventures. It is a deep testament to Odo’s integrity that Quark has set up a betting pool. Is helping Odo going to help Quark’s profit margin? Sure. But his underlying concern is to help Odo out of his depressive spiral. Despite their friction, they have a caring, grudging respect for each other.

There’s a lot of little elements that really bring this episode together, but I couldn’t work them into my above thoughts. So here they are in a somewhat random way. Quark, as a Ferengi, is a listener and a watcher; he sees the love triangle before anyone else. Odo and Kira have plutonic moments, like with the belt or how Odo scowls at the party. Odo’s ordered world is shattered when Kira arrives late to their weekly meeting and doesn’t want her drink. Odo is utterly forlorn when he stands guard all night outside Kira’s quarters just to watch Shakaar leave in the morning. Quark and Odo’s continued faux lack of concern for each other is fun to watch. Concentrating on the essentials is the hook Odo needs to get himself out of depression. Odo cancelling the weekly meeting is important. If he didn’t, he’d just be living a farce of a relationship with Kira; that quickly becomes destructive.

Random Thoughts: 1) Shakaar is the guy that should work for Kira. They have plenty of boxes checked. They have a history of friendship. They have chemistry between them. They are comfortable and open with each other. I think it’s a shock for most of us to learn that romance is built on more than our expectations. Weirdly, it is only after coming to this realization that we see how obvious this is. 2) Quark’s pause before his line, “Nah,” is perfect. 3) It’s a nice addition that the domestic violence Odo and Kira discuss is a woman beating a man. More instances of DS9 challenging social norms in subtle ways. 4) Bashir and O’Brien’s banter is fun. Definitely a bromance. 4) Worf and Odo have a natural connection between them through their mutual desire for order. And mutual comfort with using intimidation to manipulate people. 5) Odo’s belt, which was added, then dropped, from Odo’s outfit, is used as an element to represent Odo’s letting go of his feelings for Kira. 6) The DS9 writers again take a crack at Roddenberry’s paradise. The Federation claims to be open and understanding, but they always think they are right. 7) Worf challenges Odo when Odo is distracted from doing his job. I think there’s value in the Klingon way here. Too much grace can become unhealthy enabling. Challenges can be healthy. 8) I love the camera angles on Quark and Odo at the end of their scene in Odo’s quarters. The camera looks up at a confident Quark, but down on a depressed Odo.  9) Obviously, Odo doesn’t miss his opportunity; he needs to grow in some substantial ways before His Way (Ep. 6.20).  10) The terms of an accelerated entrance into the Federation that Shakaar negotiates are for naught.  When the ceremony finally happens in Rapture (Ep. 5.10), visions from the Prophets cause the Bajorans to not go through with it.

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Episode 4.12: Paradise Lost

•September 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The story in Homefront (Ep. 4.11) turns out to be a red herring. The direct Dominion threat to Earth never materializes. The true threat to paradise comes from Leyton and his coup. I think the heart of the episode lies in the exchange between Sisko and the O’Brien Changeling. Paradise on Earth is balanced on the edge of a pin. It only takes 4 Changelings to push key individuals into staging a coup, to incite martial law, and to cause a Federation ship to fire on another Federation ship. Fear is the key weapon the Changelings wield. Humans may be ingenious enough, honorable enough, compassionate enough to create paradise, but they also fear losing control of what they have. That fear is deep seated in our communal psyche, I think. Leyton’s obsession with the chain of command is a manifestation of this fear. The exchange Sisko and Leyton have at the end are over diametrically opposed philosophies. The chain of command demands obedience; it exerts control over others. Oaths (such as those to the Federation) relinquish control; they give away one’s sovereignty to be obedient to another or to a higher cause. What I find fascinating is that paradise is built on the latter, not the former.

I learned a new term in the last few weeks: Alternative Wisdom. I believe Paradise Lost is a story of alternative wisdom. Traditional wisdom is the kind that fits into our expectations, into our box. Follow the law to be good; the rich get richer; everything in life has a right and a wrong answer. These are the kinds of things we expect out of life. Alternative wisdom is the kind that surprises you. Generosity pays dividends back to us; there can be many true answers; the more we tighten our grip, the faster something slips away. Alternative wisdom runs counter to our standard expectations. I believe this story is one of alternative wisdom. To hold onto paradise, we must release our control over it. We cannot force paradise into being nor protect it at the point of a phaser. Paradise rests our ability to surrender our need for control in favor of trust in our fellow man.

A key manifestation of Sisko’s oath to the Federation is how he constantly seeks civilian authority throughout the episode. Foremost, he goes through the President of the Federation, not his superiors at Starfleet. It is through the President’s authority that Sisko must act. If he acts on his own, he’s no different than Leyton. Sisko’s brooding over the situation lasts three scenes, until Joseph, another civilian authority, convinces Sisko that he must act. After this, he turns again to the President, though at this point, he is too late as Leyton beat him to it.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but I think the story kinda just fizzles out as a second part. The first part was great, filled with paranoia, questions of loyalties, and the hints of moral compromise. In Homefront (Ep. 4.11), Sisko exhibits these qualities; Paradise Lost shifts all those emotions and actions onto Leyton, which somewhat disappoints me. The ending was also really abrupt to me; Sisko went from being in the cell to being in total control very quickly. The believable part was how Benteen abandons Leyton, and it all falls apart. The loyalty to the Federation and to each other is deeply engrained, and destroying a fellow starship would be horrendous.

Random Thoughts: 1) Leyton’s plan was working on the populace. After the power station sabotage, even Joseph is willing to get blood screenings. As a proxy for the civilians, this was to show that Leyton’s coup would have been more easily accepted, had been successful. 2) I really like Nog’s role in this. He brings very unique, very Ferengi abilities to Sisko’s crew. He knows how to obtain information discreetly. He’s also learning what it means to take orders. In a related note, Odo breaks into Leyton’s files using skills he learned from Quark. 3) Sisko manipulates Cadet Shepard by tricking him into showing off what Red Squad did. 4) Colm Meaney exaggerates himself for his role as a Changeling. Both movement and speech are overdone. 5) The Bajorans are used as a resource outside the Federation to assist Sisko, foreshadowing their coming role in the Dominion War. 6) Odo gives a terrible Vulcan Neck Pinch when rescuing Sisko. 7) At the end, Leyton is truly deluded. He falls back on loyalty, not truth, when Sisko directly lays out the consequences of his actions. 8) Letyon intentionally targeted and manipulated Sisko. He knew ahead of time that Sisko would be a pawn, which is why he set up the wormhole to act in the manner that it did.  9) The title of the episode comes from John Milton’s book of the same name.

Episode 4.11: Homefront

•September 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The Founders have a pattern to how they assault the races of the Alpha Quadrant. Against the Romulans and the Cardassians, they used their deceptive and arrogant nature to set up a strike intended to chop off the Dominion’s head (Ep. 3.21, The Die is Cast). Against the Klingons, they goad their warlike nature into fighting a weakened Cardassia, instead of preparing for the greater, more honorable enemy of the Dominion. Against the Federation, the Founders manipulate the Federation’s basic trust and mutual understanding into paranoia and fear. The Founders use or twist foundational aspects of a culture to destroy that culture and make it ripe for invasion. They attack what they see as vulnerable or weak cultural pillars. This is something that makes the Dominion so insidious. They don’t what to just invade the Federation. They want to rot the foundations of the Federation and have it implode prior to that invasion. They wish to fundamentally shatter a culture’s identity and confidence.

Many of Roddenberry’s fans had a lot of trouble with this kind of episode. DS9’s main criticism from within the Trek world was that it had little respect for the positive future that Roddenberry believed humanity was ascending to. And yet, this kind of episode is what I love about this incarnation of Trek. DS9 doesn’t take paradise for granted; paradise itself is seriously under threat. Not only that, but the threat comes from within the Federation. This will come more in the next episode, but Starfleet transforms from a peacekeeping, exploratory, and diplomatic force to a military force. The real Leyton is the mastermind. The Founders simply found the weakness in him and helped it along, similar to what the Changeling revealed to Tain in The Die is Cast (Ep. 3.21). To maintain paradise, to maintain the vision that Roddenberry saw for humanity, we cannot expect it to simply come. We must shepherd that new world into fruition, then we must protect it in a way that doesn’t destroy what was built. The crew has to protect the very essence of what Starfleet is and prevent it from becoming militarized. The tragedy is that, with the war looming, this is inevitable. But when it does happen, it happens because Starfleet is forced into it, not because they allowed their paranoia to override their good decency.

Joseph Sisko abhors to the actions his son authorized. People shouldn’t have to prove they are who they say they are. As a citizen, he is not bound by the same oaths and restrictions that Sisko is under. Nor should he be; blood screenings are an invasion of his privacy, an illegal search and seizure, and propagates the paranoia Starfleet is feeling into the populace. Sisko is on a path toward the militarization of Earth. In the absence of an imminent threat (like the Borg), these steps should never be invoked. And paranoia from Sisko is not a substitute for an imminent threat. Though Sisko thinks he is protecting paradise, his actions are what are destroying it. His statement, “We aren’t looking to destroy paradise. We’re looking to save it,” is justified by his fear and need for control. This is exactly how the Founders want events to play out. At the height of his argument with Joseph, Sisko stuns himself by thinking his father was a Changeling. The paranoia runs deep within Sisko, however, because even after this, he still supports martial law.

Jaresh-Inyo isn’t just a good peacetime president; he’s a good president for what the Federation strives to be. He is willing to resist any military occupation of Earth as long as possible to preserve the basic decency and respect that the people of the Federation have for each other. What finally tips him into declaring martial law is Sisko’s perspective. The distribution of armed Starfleet onto the streets, to Sisko, is meant to show the people of Earth that the government and Starfleet have the situation under control.

The bit with Dax trolling Odo by rearranging his quarters on the order of centimeters is both amusing and intentional. This was meant to remind us that Odo is very much a Changeling, even if he’s not a Founder. He aspires to order in all things, is deeply perturbed by chaos, and views Solids as the pinnacle of chaos. I was highly amused by his description of Dax as, “The most humanoid of all.” But he is still very much on the side of Bajor, and by extension, the Federation. His quick assessment of Founder-Leyton speaks to his masterful deductive skills. We are reminded of Odo’s killing of a fellow Changeling, making him “the only Changeling who’s ever harmed another.” That is the prime thread in this season that will not culminate until the final episode of Season 4.

Random Thoughts: 1) The Bajorans think the Wormhole’s behavior is a sign from the Prophets. I’m slightly disappointed they added this. We’ll find in the next episode that the opening of the wormhole was a result of an agent on DS9, and no activity from the Prophets. It can be seen as the Bajorans’ faith being foolish. 2) Sisko has a sister, Judith, in Portland. 3) Joseph Sisko gives the audience the “citizen” perspective. I think he’s somewhat a foil for Leyton. Both are father figures (one Sisko’s actual father, the other a career mentor), but Joseph sees all the actions Sisko takes in favor of a more militarized Earth as foolish (the opposite of Leyton). 4) Bashir and O’Brien find themselves in a Battle of Britain holosuite. Keiko is still away from Earth since the beginning of Season 3. Therefore, O’Brien’s and Bashir’s friendship has had 1.5 years to flourish so far. I’m not sure if they explicitly show Keiko returning, but I believe it is soon. 5) I love how Quark describes a terrible financial situation to equate it to bombs going off on Earth. Culturally, however, it is a similar situation. 6) Odo expresses a fear that the humans will only see his Changeling face and not how he’s trying to help them; sadly, the racism he faces here hasn’t changed much since A Man Alone (Ep. 1.4). 7) While on Earth, Sisko wears the TNG-style uniform. 8) Joseph’s failure to eat in front of Sisko heightens the uncertainty that he’s a Changeling. 9) Nog’s appearance is a nice element as well. He’s integrating into the Academy, but slowly. The relationship he has with Joseph feels incredibly natural, to me. 10) Sisko’s full name: Benjamin Lafayette Sisko. 11) The capital of the Federation is Paris, Earth. 11) Joseph enumerates a very simple method to defeat blood screenings: dole out a little bit of blood at a time when needed. Sisko can’t beat the Founders with some gadget; he has to beat them by outsmarting them. 12) The final scene of armed Starfleet troops beaming into civilian New Orleans has just the right ominous feel for me. 13) This is a great line by Joseph, “I’m not sleeping; I’m checking my eyelids for holes.” I use that whenever I can in my own day-to-day. 14) Brock Peters, the actor who plays Joseph, was a Star Trek movie alum. He played Fleet Admiral Cartwright in two movies, Star Trek IV and VI.

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.