Episode 5.18: Business as Usual

•June 30, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This is Quark’s best episode, in my opinion. His morality is really put to the test. He’s actually in a fairly desperate situation. He’s barred from doing business with other Ferengi. He’s in immense debt. He doesn’t have new prospects of income on the horizon, and his primary source (the bar) is up for collateral with three creditors. Gaila’s offer is really attractive to Quark. Mere weeks with Hagath would wipe out Quark’s debt. Because of his desperate situation, Quark forgets where the line is. He forgets that even selling holographic weapons is morally reprehensible. The moment lives start being discussed however, he realized he was in over his head. When he shows up at Dax’s quarters with the tongo board, I think he’s trying to seek help from her. In the end, he found a clever way to get out of it (let everyone kill each other), but he was also reminded where his moral lines are. He turned down 10 million bars of latinum because he would have had to destroy a planet for it.  For all of his pettiness and minor criminal activity, Quark has more scruples than to an arms dealer. He only does so here because he felt like he had no other choice. I’m glad they pulled back and didn’t have him go down this path willingly.

I wonder how often we rationalize our behavior so that we can get out of situations. If my scruples were put to the test, would I maintain my standards, or would I start to slip in ways like Quark does here? I think it’s really easy to judge someone without understanding the journey that brought them to a moment. Now, I’m not defending Quark’s actions, nor am I saying that actions are objectively wrong, but I am saying that temptation is a very strong motivator. It’s too common to find ourselves in a situation where we must choose between two unfortunate situations. I actually see parallels from this episode to In The Pale Moonlight (Ep. 6.19) Both involve moral compromise, though this one is more light-hearted and the gain is merely financial. Quark is left with the choice of becoming destitute or selling a few weapons and compromising his personal integrity.

This is another B-side story that I feel like is all fluff. Some nice banter between Bashir and O’Brien, but that’s about it.

Random Thoughts: 1) The actor who plays Bashir, Alexander Siddig, directs this episode. However, he’s billed as Siddig El Fadil, which was his stage name from the first part of the series. I’m not sure why he reverted here for his director’s credit. 2) Random connection, but Josh Pais, the actor who plays Gaila, also played Raphael in the 1990 Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. 3) Steven Berkoff, the actor who plays Hagath, is fairly well known. He was in the Bond film Octopussy. He’s also got a number of theater credits. 4) Lawrence Tierney, the actor who played the Regent, is well known for taking on mobster roles. 5) Gaila says that weapons are a growth industry, further hinting at war to come. 6) A Rule of Acquisition is obliquely quoted, and no number reference is given. Rule 62: The riskier the road, the greater the profit. 7) Quark does get out of all his debt. 8) Yet he gets back in debt to repay the damage to the cargo bay. But it’s better to be in debt to the Federation than to anyone Quark would find elsewhere. 9) I did like the scene in Odo’s office where Quark is told he won’t be prosecuted by the Bajoran government. He’s reminded by Sisko of all he’s gotten and how grateful he should be.

Advertisements

Episode 5.17: A Simple Investigation

•June 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This is a clever little episode. The Odo investigation/mystery episodes are well done, and this one has a nice Sci-Fi twist in there. Odo’s prowess as a policemen is so casually presented here. His unique security protocol against hackers with data ports and his letting Arissa go so he can follow here are nonchalantly brushed off. But in the end, the truth is so convoluted that Odo hasn’t cracked the case before the Idanian arrives. I think the true identity of Arissa (her personality being saved on the chip she seeks) has an excellent Sci-Fi flavor to it. It lets the show maintain a status quo, but doesn’t force Odo into doing anything unsavory. The Orion Syndicate is a small theme that delivers well. This is the second of only four episodes featuring them, but there’s some excellent plots on morality. This episode doesn’t have any moral grey areas, but I think it delivers much better on exploring Odo’s loneliness and the heartbreak that comes from rejection.

Odo’s had many ups and downs between his loneliness and satisfaction with solitude. Up until now, he’s tried to be happy with solitude, confronted his feelings for Kira, buried his feelings for Kira, and now opened himself up in a deeply vulnerable way to a woman who then rejects him (through no fault of her own). At the end of this episode, Odo is emotionally raw. Bashir at one point says if Odo doesn’t tell Arissa about his feelings, Odo’s heart would break from loneliness anyway. Life is funny like that. Doing nothing and doing something can both lead to the same outcome, yet tending toward action seems to be the norm. Or at least, if we do something, we regret our choice less so. I think a big part of the raw emotional state Odo ends the show in is because he still has latent feelings for Kira. He’s learning that he isn’t a stone, and that love is for more than humanoids.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that everyone is best off being romantically involved with someone. Some people truly embrace and love the solitary life. I just think that here, Odo learns that he isn’t one of those people. What’s elegant is that Odo’s personality at the start of the series was a profoundly solitary figure. He gradually learns that he is a social creature, which culminates in him joining the Great Link at the end of the series. He transitions from being Nanook of the North, to someone in love with one other (Kira), to a creature literally in liquid communion with the entire rest of his species. I think that’s a poetic path for Odo.

Random Thoughts: 1) As I was writing this, I realized the English language has a word for loneliness (or dissatisfied with solitude) but does not have a word for “satisfied with solitude”. That’s telling about our culture, I think. 2) Bashir’s supplier of Bond-like holosuite programs is someone named Felix. 3) I think a key thing that attracts Odo to Arissa is how observant she is. 4) Kira both encourages Odo to seek Arissa, and then has a nervous face when she learns he spent the night with her. I think she’s starting to realize her feelings too. 4) Odo noticing the imprint of the chair after it was moved is an excellent detective story element. 5) Hasparat is apparently a burrito. 6) Using the data port as a way for Arissa to sell herself is another nice Sci-Fi element that lets the writers add some depth to her, but not go too far for television. 7) Odo made a huge mistake of walking out of his quarters after bringing Arissa there. He should have beamed back to the other quarters, then walked out of that. If no one saw him leave the first quarters, some might have realized Arissa was moved. 8) I was highly amused Bashir knew about “bedroom eyes”. 9) Speculation is over. Odo can copulate as a humanoid.

Episode 5.16: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

•June 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I severely dislike this episode. In my opinion, the events of this episode significantly diminish the character of Julian Bashir. The biggest loss is that his past relationships are re-envisioned as him pandering to those around him. Consider Miles and the darts; Julian has spent all of that time acting the fool with his friend. His brilliance as a doctor, particularly in episodes like The Quickening (Ep. 4.24), are less grand because he’s “more than human.” Even his missing the pre-ganglionic/post-ganglionic question on his medical school finals becomes faked because of his genetic manipulation. Additionally, by having his parents come to the station, Bashir’s racial heritage is defined. Prior to this, Bashir’s racial origin felt very ambiguous. At best, I could discern he was kinda British, but clearly not fully. The best part was that with him, it didn’t really matter. Upon meeting his parents, his heritage is clearly Middle Eastern. I liked his ambiguity, because that was symbolic of Roddenberry’s desire for people to no longer see race as divisive. Alexander Siddig himself had similar feelings about this definition of Bashir’s heritage. There also was an unexpected shock that Bashir had this hidden self-loathing persona.

The episode tries to redeem all this by showing how internally conflicted Bashir is about his past. He felt like he never had a chance to succeed, but instead was considered a failure by his father from the start. Then, after his change, Julian felt he was still a failure to his father for not being proud of his intellect. At one point, his father mocks the very intellect he gave Julian! Therefore Julian builds up this hidden persona of being an outcast. But Julian is not defined by what his parents did. In O’Brien’s words, genetics are not what makes someone human. Julian has a passion to help people that isn’t hardwired into his genetic code. A few characters slightly mock Julian’s naïve attitude at “frontier medicine”. But that desire has saved countless lives, even a whole civilization at one point. I think the best part is when O’Brien validates who Julian is, and that he is a valuable friend regardless of his genetic heritage. I also really appreciate the moment when they showed the parents’ struggle at conducting a dangerous procedure or letting their child be mentally impaired for the rest of his life.  Despite Julian’s loathing, it was a hard decision for them to make.

The B-side story with Rom is a nice diversion, but that’s all it is.

Random Thoughts: 1) I have to give them props for the ingenuity to create a crossover episode with Voyager being stranded in the Delta Quadrant. 2) Both of the actors who play Julian’s parents are fairly well known. Fadwa El Guindi, who plays Amsha Bashir, holds a PhD in anthropology and is currently a distinguished professor at Qatar University. This was her only on-screen role. Brian George, who plays Richard Bashir, has done a lot, including appearing on Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory. He’s also done a lot of voiceover work. 3) The title of this episode refers to the quote “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” 4) In Statistical Probabilities (Ep. 6.9, the second of three episodes that focus on genetic engineering), the genetic enhancements are portrayed as a disability instead of an advantage. In this first episode, that post-modification-disability angle isn’t really present. 5) The Cardassian technology being “incompatible” with the EMH is a nice out to not having one there. 6) Zimmerman’s comment about “holograms taking over the universe” is similar to the modern feeling of “robots taking over the world.” 6) I was amused at the EMH being threatened by the LMH. 7) Hilarious use of Morn here. 8) Dax reveals that Julian’s advances were “not unwanted advances.” Supports the theory of them ending up together if not for Worf. 9) Rom using a Ferengi trick to eavesdrop is a cool, unique quality for an alien species. 10) Kahn is referenced, from the second movie, The Wrath of Kahn (or Into Darkness with the Kelvin Timeline). Also Space Seed (TOS Ep. 1.22). 11) The Starfleet JAG’s micro-speech about the Eugenics Wars is a nice nod to Star Trek history, but I felt like it was very out of place given the tone of the rest of the episode.

Interlude: Recurring Characters

•June 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s universally accepted that the recurring characters and single-episode guest characters are a central strength to DS9. Their contribution to the overall acting and quality of storytelling is top notch. There are some guest characters that appear in single episodes that simply dominate the screen. Interestingly, I’m thinking mostly of Cardassians like Maritza in Duet (Ep. 1.19), Entek in Second Skin (Ep. 3.15), and Prin in The Darkness and the Light (Ep. 5.11). These characters come in to facilitate a deep, meaningful theme. They help create, for me, an intimate moment of episodic storytelling.

The best recurring characters contribute to central meta-narratives that have threads throughout the series. Some are only marginally less complex than main cast, it seems. Some become so important they have episodes themed around them; they change and grow throughout the series. Others might be more simple and be more of an archetype or caricature of humanity. Personally, I have eight recurring characters that are integral to my experience of DS9. Those are: Garak, Dukat, Kai Winn, Weyoun, Martok, Nog, Damar, and Morn. I don’t want to dismiss some fantastic characters like Eddington, the Female Changeling, or Vic Fontaine. But when I think of the supporting cast of DS9, those eight stand out as being great, well-acted characters with contributions to the meta-narratives. Five of them appeared in the first season.

Garak is without a doubt my favorite recurring character. He appears in 33 episodes. He’s a deeply conflicted, cultured, elegant liar. I love how he twists and manipulates truth into a “near truth” that conveys the exact opposite meaning. We never really learn the full story of Elim Garak. Throughout the series, he harbors a desire to see Cardassia grow beyond the military oligarchy that strangles it. He facilitates moral compromise in the rest of the crew; he’s a major character in my favorite episode (In the Pale Moonlight, 6.19). Episodes like The Wire (Ep. 2.22) and The Die Is Cast (3.21) show how clever he is. I also love his relationship with Bashir, and how they play off each other as such different people. It’s a beautiful friendship of opposites. Garak is a unique character in that he both provides his own excellent storylines and is able to enhance the storylines of others.

I see Dukat as the primary villain of the series. He appears in 35 episodes. Repeatedly throughout the series, he introduces or progresses the meta-narrative conflict. In the early seasons, he’s the Cardassian aggressor trying to re-subjugate the Bajoran people and reclaim his place as Prefect of Bajor. In the middle seasons, he gets some excellent episodes that soften his villainy and add a more human side to him. That ends with his pact with the Dominion and precipitating the Dominion War. In the final seasons, he’s refocused on the Bajorans, but he tries to subjugate them through spiritual means by releasing the Pah-Wraiths. What I love most is how he is the true enemy of the Bajorans, both as a free people and as a spiritual people. At every stage of the series, Dukat is the instigator of the conflict. Despite broadening in scope, the show stays centered on Bajor, and Dukat is always Bajor’s enemy.

Kai Winn I love to hate because she uses her faith so poorly, and I sadly often see her actions enacted in modern life. She appears in a mere 14 episodes, but she has a powerful effect on the show. Ambition is her true religion, and she manipulates the Bajoran faith so that she can gain power. Her beliefs are a facade, used often to guilt other more faithful Bajorans (like Kira) into doing her bidding. She is an ally a few times throughout the series (Life Support, Ep. 3.13; Rapture, Ep. 5.10), but her disingenuous use of the Bajoran faith makes her the slimiest of the villains in my mind. I think her best moment is in Strange Bedfellows (Ep. 7.19) when she reaches out to Kira for help in resisting the Pah-Wraiths. Kira tells her to step down as Kai. But Winn’s lust for power is too strong, and she chooses the Pah-Wraiths. Truly a villain.

Weyoun is hilarious. His various clones (we see Weyouns 4-8) appear in 24 episodes. He’s an apologetic villain, really. He conquers but is sorry for it. He just wants everyone to worship the Founders like he does. It’s really so very odd and fantastic. I really appreciate the deadpan comedy he brings to the show. He’s actually the most naïve of the villains, I think. He is just baffled at why anyone would not worship the Founders. But he’s not an idiot. He’s a worthy tactician and fiercely loyal. Weyoun exemplifies the velvet glove of the Dominion, holding back the Jem’Hadar in hopes of “peaceful” surrender of enemies. The clone aspect of Vorta was put to great use by writers to give some quite interesting storylines and hilarious deaths (Treachery, Faith, and the Great River, Ep. 7.6, and Strange Bedfellows, Ep. 7.19).

Martok is deeply broken, and his path to redemption is glorious to watch. He appears in 24 episodes, 22 as himself and 2 as Changeling-Martok. The man who is introduced in In Purgatory’s Shadow (Ep. 5.14) is completely different from the Changeling version. He believes he has had his honor shattered and is unworthy of even death. Worf reminds him of the honor deep within him. In Soldiers of the Empire (Ep. 5.21), Martok’s cowardice nearly kills him and his crew. Luckily for the Alpha Quadrant, Martok finds his courage and honor again, and he becomes a hero of the Dominion War. I love watching how he goes from a broken man to a reluctant leader of the Klingon Empire. To me, he is a great example of strength in leadership. He is strong at heart and inspires others onto great deeds.

Nog is another character I like because he changes so much during the course of the series. He is in quite a few episodes, 46 total. What’s great about Nog is that by the end of the series, Nog is proud of who he has become. In the beginning, Nog is disappointed in his father and disgusted by his uncle. He fears that he’ll become just like both of them, so in Heart of Stone (Ep. 3.14), he secures a letter to enter Starfleet. He’s willing to enter a rigorous program, be isolated and mocked as the only Ferengi, and commit himself to learning a different culture to better himself. I absolutely love that. Additionally, one of the greatest episodes in all of Star Trek-dom, The Siege of AR-558 (Ep. 7.8), centers on Nog, and this produces a series of episodes where Nog is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Those stories alone are brilliant. Then consider how Nog has changed. Started as a boy flicking sand peas at travelers; ended as a man, scarred but proud of himself.

Contrary to outward appearances, Damar is no villain. Damar appears in 23 episodes, and he represents hope for change. I’ve always believed that anyone can change. Perhaps that makes me a naïve optimist. He begins as an enabler to Dukat and a lowly bridge officer. He rides the Dominion wave because he isn’t really sure what else to do, I think. He was always a Cardassian patriot, so he helps the Dominion in their goals of dominating the Alpha Quadrant. Slowly, he finally realizes that the Dominion would destroy the Cardassia he wants, and he makes a change to start opposing them. It’s minor resistance at the start, killing a Weyoun now and again (Treachery, Faith, and the Great River, Ep. 7.6), but by the end of the series, he is a lynchpin to the destruction of the Dominion. I also love how he starts out as a throw-away character. A character with a few lines to add spice to Return to Grace (Ep. 4.14). In that episode, Kira refuses to teach Dukat and Damar guerrilla fighting. It’s poetic that at the end of the series, Damar is learning exactly that from her. From what I’ve read, this growth as a character was planned by the writers.

Morn was in more episodes than even Jake Sisko. Morn was in 93 DS9 episodes, one TNG episode (Birthright Part 1, TNG Ep. 6.16), and one VOY episode (Caretaker, VOY Ep. 1.1). Jake was only in 71 DS9 episodes. I put Morn on here because throughout all of the meta-narratives, the brutal war storylines, the epic space battles…DS9 is a show set on a space station teeming with life. Morn represents to me Life on the Station. Throughout all of the rest of it, there is life there that is fun to watch. I admit that DS9 is a place that I would see myself. The Sci/Fi elements (the fantastical, the futuristic) draw me in and show me a world I’d want to participate in. As for the Lurian himself, Morn himself is comic relief. He never speaks, which is itself an irony as he’s known to hardly shut up amongst other characters. He does get his own episode, Who Mourns for Morn (Ep. 6.12). His name was inspired by and is an anagram from Norm, from the show Cheers. This is why he sits at the bar all the time.

Random Thoughts: 1) Weyoun was portrayed so well in To the Death (Ep. 4.23) that the writers invented the Vorta clones just so that Jeffrey Combs could return. 2) This Interlude entry was prompted by the recent episode, In Purgatory’s Shadow (Ep. 5.14), where the introduction of the last character on this list occurred (the real Martok).

Episode 5.15: By Inferno’s Light

•June 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The Dominion’s skill at deception and misdirection is unparalleled. Once again, the climax of this episode involves the Dominion creating an elaborate deception that nearly creates catastrophic consequences. The Alpha Quadrant powers have feared Dominion invasion for years, so when the Dominion finally comes pouring through the Wormhole, they react predictably. The Dominion carefully planned this, even planting a Changeling on DS9 for the effort. If not for Garak and Worf (and the subsequent chain of events that followed), Changeling-Bashir would have succeeded. And even though the deception didn’t work, the Dominion gained valuable information. When threatened, the Alpha Quadrant powers will stand together against the Dominion. Knowing that, the Dominion will spend great resources in the next two seasons keeping the Alpha Quadrant as fractured as possible.

Possibly the best storytelling element of this episode is how the writers bring together multiple past storylines into a single tapestry. Consequences from The Die is Cast (Ep. 3.21), Way of the Warrior (Ep. 4.1), Return to Grace (Ep. 4.14), and Apocalypse Rising (Ep. 5.1) all converge here. This element of “consequences returning” is archetypal of DS9. I love how they all collide in this episode. The Klingon invasion creates an outcast Dukat seeking to restore his powerful position. Dukat makes a pact with the Dominion. Martok is a leader in the escape attempt and supports Worf in his combat trials. Tain brings Garak and Worf to the prison, where both are instrumental in freeing Bashir. Realizing that there’s a Changeling impersonating Bashir is what gets the DS9 crew to stop the explosion. Both the conflict and the resolution in this episode are dependent on consequences from past episodes.

I think there are grave consequences to the inaction of Sisko and the Federation here. It’s interesting to note that the Federation has another half a year of cold war. The Klingons will be fighting tenaciously and alone from now until the end of Season 6. The Federation does support the Klingons indirectly and provides them with a safe harbor for rest and repair at DS9 (similar to the United States in World War II). Against a weakened Klingon fleet, the Dominion is allowed to establish their base of strategic operations, Jem’Hadar and Vorta cloning facilities, and shipyards in the Alpha Quadrant. While it’s certainly speculation, the inaction of the Federation…one could argue their rigid dedication to diplomacy and non-violence…allowed an aggressive and oppressive empire to expand. As with many Maquis themed episodes, the Federation will give up precious things to avoid war. The DS9 writers critique this inaction and portrays it as foolish. I think there is a very deep and meaningful tension here that dedication to non-violence might have long-term, severely destructive consequences. While I don’t think DS9 ever resolves this tension, I appreciate they portray it as such.

The parallel between Worf and Garak continues in this episode. They both fight important battles that are necessary for them to escape the prison. Garak battles himself while Worf battles others. Garak cannot do his work without the distraction Worf provides. Worf’s honor is clear; he will not yield. Garak’s honor is less obvious. But Worf and Martok both recognize the tremendous courage it takes to face one’s fear. Garak has help from others, but the crucial battle is when he’s alone in the crawlspace, talking himself through the fight. Neither will yield to their enemy and both are required for escape. At the end of the episode, Garak has gained a new respect from Worf, Martok, and Bashir.

Worf is a paragon of Klingon virtue and honor. He places honor above his life and will not yield. This goes so far as to earn respect from the Jem’Hadar even. Interestingly, this episode equalizes the Klingons and Jem’Hadar in a way. In the final combat between Worf and Ikat’ika, the sayings of each culture are contrasted: “Victory is life” vs “Today is a good day to die”. I love the juxtaposition. The Jem’Hadar saying is about life, yet seeks victory at any cost. On one level, it fears death, and because it focuses on victory, it can be beaten. The Klingon saying welcomes death and places honor above simple victory. Honor comes from within the Klingon, and therefore, it cannot be beaten. Because of his actions, Worf forms an unbreakable bond with Martok. Both suffer the same trial under the Jem’Hadar, and Worf takes over the mantel from Martok. Worf carries Martok’s legacy in this episode, and that becomes central to their ongoing relationship.

Dukat’s deal with the Dominion forever changes the tone of DS9. The third act of the DS9 meta-narrative hasn’t quite begun, but this episode makes that inevitable. Dukat’s motivations are entirely self-serving and egotistical. What I find really interesting here is how much of an influence Dukat has on galactic events. Without him, it’s likely the Dominion would not have found a charismatic leader enough to sway the Cardassian people to join the Dominion; they would not have gotten their foothold. Dukat’s propaganda video is clearly relevant to modern events. Talk of making Cardassia whole again, to returning to a past glorious state. As the last two seasons unfold, we learn that these promises are hollow and unfulfilled. The Cardassians become little more than vassals of the Dominion. At the end of the episode, Dukat is once again swaggering and confident. He absolutely sees himself as being righteous (“One man’s villain is another man’s hero”). This is the old Dukat, and he is delicious.

Changeling-Bashir watch. And so my watch ends for the Changeling-Bashir. With the secret out, he’s very stiff and impersonal. There’s nothing to hide, so the acting is obvious. As with most of the Dominion deceptions, this was a very good one. I never knew about the uniform thing until this most recent viewing. I think killing Changeling-Bashir was a necessity. That way there is no ambiguousness about the real Bashir returning.

Random Thoughts: 1) At this point, we’ve seen several episodes of the Dominion creating an elaborate deception to cripple an enemy or gain information. An incomplete list off the top of my head: The Search, Part 2 (Ep. 3.2); Homefront (Ep. 4.11); The Die is Cast (Ep. 3.21); and Heart of Stone (Ep. 3.14). 2) The presence of the Romulans felt forced, but I appreciate why they did it. It makes the revelation of the real plan (to blow up Bajor’s sun) more shocking. 3) The wormhole is now stronger than ever. This is a good thing, as it takes this final option off the table for the Federation in the future. It’s good to not have that deus ex machina. 4) In that moment, Kira would have absolutely killed Dukat. Bad for the Bajorans; great for the meta-narrative. 5) Garak is forced to stay in the prison because of his personal feud with Dukat. 6) Blood screenings are mentioned here. I want to point out again that even from the moment the Federation started doing them, blood screenings have been completely ineffectual. 7) Kira offers some excellent wisdom: judge people by what they do, not what they say. 8) I’m highly amused that the monumental Khittomer Accords were resigned in an infirmary after a bloody battle. That felt appropriately Klingon to me. 9) I wish I could hear the song that Martok has written about Worf. I believe he followed through on that. 10) Quark’s lamentation about the abstinent, sober, non-food consuming Jem’Hadar and Changelings was highly amusing. 11) BOOM! Runabout Yukon destroyed.

Episode 5.14: In Purgatory’s Shadow

•June 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This pair of episodes is a crucial hinge in the meta-narrative where the Dominion gains a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. This first episode is very much a cold war sort of episode. The clandestine operation into Dominion territory is meant to not provoke them. Sisko acts to deter war through the ultimate sacrifice: destruction of the wormhole. Actions are taken so that war would be avoided, at any cost. I think ultimately there’s a cost to this kind of avoidance. Perhaps I’ll expand upon it in the next entry, but the Federation here refuses to engage in war. The cost of that choice is the Dominion gains a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. In Purgatory’s Shadow (Ep. 5.14) is an action episode, with a bit of mystery. As the first of a two-parter, a lot is set up here that will come to fruition in the next episode.

One thing that I think is neat about this episode, after seeing the whole series and reflecting, is that there is a lot of strategy and careful planning on the Dominion’s side to assault the Alpha Quadrant. They know that the wormhole is easily blockaded, so they have to create an area in the Alpha Quadrant that they can build a base of operations. The shattered Cardassia becomes that base. In this episode, we see the Dominion has done a lot of legwork to do that. They’ve manipulated the hubris of Dukat. They’ve planted a high-ranking Changeling on DS9. They’ve built a large fleet to set up operations. And nothing the crew does in these two episodes stops that. They are blind-sided by the Dominion and are barely able to save Martok and Bashir. One thing that comes in powerfully in this last half of Season 5 is that the Federation loses the cold war they are currently engaged in. Before Season 6, the Dominion gets all they want: a foothold, a war against only the Klingons, and control of DS9.

I love how deeply disappointed Garak is with Tain as Tain dies. Garak, in a moment of true vulnerability, allows Bashir to hear the truth about Garak’s parentage. Garak wanted so much to hear from Tain something that validated their relationship as father and son, and Garak was rewarded with an oblique reference to his childhood. At his core, Tain only cared about his enemies and standing as the greatest spymaster. He died alone, even though his son was there, ready to comfort him. Garak’s loyalty to even the likes of Tain make him a fantastic character. Garak knows he emotionally lost his father years ago (perhaps before Garak was even born), so when Tain finally passes, there’s closure for Garak. I think this is a turning point for Garak. With the death of Tain, the old Garak also passes. From here to the end of the series, Garak is fighting for the new Cardassia that will eventually be reborn. Perhaps, through this, Garak does fulfill Tain’s dying wish for him to enact vengeance on the Dominion.

A quick shout out to Martok. I love how they brought him back, yet the real Martok is the exact opposite of his Changeling counterpart. His is a paragon of honor and Klingon virtue. Like with Weyoun, I’m very glad that the DS9 writers found a way to keep such a great actor on the regular lists. Martok is one of my favorite recurring characters. His lack of an eye is a nice touch.

Changeling-Bashir watch. Finally, some out-of-character action from Changeling Bashir. Garak mentions that Changeling-Bashir is more distrustful and suspicious. But these hints don’t go on for long as the location of the real Bashir are finally revealed. Use of the old uniform is perfect, I think. It wasn’t too far in the past, so we didn’t have the Changeling-Bashir for long, and it offers a clear point on when the Changeling arrived. Bashir here mentions being captured at a burn summit, but I don’t recall hearing of that in previous episodes. As I said in The Rapture (Ep. 5.10), I never realized this until I read about it in another description of the episode online a year or so ago. I’m also very proud of the real Bashir being in solitary lockup, and the respect he gets from Martok. Bashir is always willing to stand up to tyranny. And this is clearly the real Bashir. In response to Garak’s feelings on sentiment being a weakness, he says it’s a lesson he’s rather not learn.

The end of this episode is some great television. The Dominion is pouring through the Wormhole. A call for battle stations. The music rising with the tension. Has the war finally started? Not quite.

Random Thoughts: 1) I find the action episodes the hardest to write about. I love them, but finding more to say than “Just watch the awesomeness!!!” can be paradoxically difficult. This was one of those episodes. 2) The episode is dedicated to Derek Garth, a grip who died in a car accident. 3) Kira finds Odo’s romantic novels and encourages him to keep reading, in hopes that someone is out there for him. Foreshadowing! 4) Even though Garak knew the message was from Tain, I think he honestly cared about other potential survivors. It wasn’t just an act. 5) The difference between Garak and Worf on how they tell their partners they are going on a dangerous mission is a nice contrast. Worf claims he might die; Garak assures Ziyal he’ll live. 6) This Ziyal is the last Ziyal actress. She’ll play her until the character’s death. 7) Garak taunting Worf over joining Starfleet is hilarious. Even the audience knows it’s an elaborate lie, and Worf is just gullible. I’m also tremendously amused that Garak can manipulate Worf by appealing to his honor. 8) Dukat’s insistence that Ziyal go to Caradassia are foreshadowing the next episode. 9) Poor Sisko. In his war council, he has two traitors: Dukat and Changeling-Bashir. 10) Sisko’s reference to the Borg attack is to the movie First Contact.

Episode 5.13: For the Uniform

•May 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This episode is one of the thematically iconic DS9 episodes. This episode throws the Roddenberry paradise down in tatters and questions the benevolent purpose of the Federation. To preserve the ideals of the Federation, Sisko must poison a planet’s atmosphere and manipulate a man into surrendering himself through the threat of violence to Federation citizens. Sisko betrays foundational ethics of the Federation! But consider who Eddington and the Maquis are. He maroons a man on an ice world, giving him a slow death. Eddington has intimate knowledge of Starfleet systems and efficiently disabled two starships. The Maquis, with little hesitation, used biological weapons of mass destruction against two planets! All the while, Eddington hypocritically claims the Maquis are not killers! Which path is worse? To allow Eddington to continue his terror campaign, killing innocent lives, or for Sisko to betray his oath and attack Federation citizens? The normal Federation method won’t work! This is what Sanders and the Malinche represent. Eddington, the Maquis, cannot be beat by the standard Federation method.

Sisko and Eddington renew their debate on the Federation’s facade of neoliberal inclusivity regarding the colonists; this episode is the second in the “Eddington Triology” (the first was For The Cause, Ep. 4.22; the last is Blaze of Glory, Ep. 5.23). The more I think about the DS9 criticism of the Roddenberry Paradise, the deeper and more nuanced it becomes. In their first major debate in this episode, Eddington asserts the Federation ignored the colonists desires, and sold them to the Cardassians. The Federation would only defend their own if it served the needs of the Federation core worlds. Sisko points out that the colonists had options with resettlement, and the Maquis sold them a lie on the hope of returning to their old life. Their debate is over how the more inclusive a society becomes, the less the needs of any individual should matter. To the Federation, the colonists need to get in line and accept that their worlds needed to be sacrificed to preserve the higher order between empires. The colonists, on the other hand, had their soveriegnty ripped from them and were forced to bend their will to the powerful Federation. The benevolance of the Federation seems, at best, conditional and, at worst, a lie.

Sisko, in the end, is forced to adopt the absurd position of betraying every tenant of his oath in order to protect the Federation. He attacks Federation citizens using a weapon of mass destruction! In their final debate, Eddington is appalled at Sisko’s vendetta. Sisko justifies his obsession by thinking it’s all “for the uniform.” A cause higher than himself. He tells Dax that he has to play the villain, but I think Sisko’s rage and his vendetta are real. Eddington betrayed more than just Sisko’s trust, and there is a deep core of Sisko that cannot abide that. As Eddington points out at the end, Sisko would break his own oath because Eddington broke an oath. The absurdity of where Sisko has to go to “beat” Eddington is beautifully clear. Which brings me back to the dilemma of Sisko. Is it worse to allow Eddington to continue his campaign, or for Sisko to betray his oath? There is no good answer to the dilemma, which demonstrates the impossibility of Roddenberry’s neoliberal, perfectly inclusive, conflict-free paradise.

The use of Les Miserables as analogy is fantastic, and I see similiarties to Picard. For Picard, he was Captain Ahab where the Borg was his White Whale (from Moby Dick). Sisko is Javert while Eddington is his Valjean. Both captains have a deep seated obsession with something that threatens the foundations of the Federation. Both captains are personally injured by their obession. The Borg and Eddington challenge the Federation from eerily similar perspectives. The Borg would destroy paradise by stripping away individuality and forcing assimilation; the Federation would then cease to exist. Eddington would destroy paradise by fracturing the Federation into a million different individual needs, dividing a nation so that it cannot stand united; the Federation would then cease to exist. Both captains struggle to preserve what they see as the honorable Federation. For Picard and the Borg, the social commentary was heavy-handed and without nuance; diversity and inclusivity are good. What DS9 does with the Maquis storylines and Sisko’s moral compromise is elegantly ask, “When the Federation doesn’t care for it’s minority citizens, how far away is that from being just like the Borg?” For Sisko and Eddington, the social commentary criticises elevation of the majority view as the predominant view in a society and challenges the notion that democracy (the majority) should always win out. This is why I love DS9.

Random Thoughts: 1) Shockingly, Eddington only appears in 9 total episodes. This is his penultimate. 2) Eric Pierpoint, the actor who plays Captain Sanders, appeared in TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT. Prior to the airing of Discovery last year, he had appeared in all of the modern Star Trek shows. 3) The holocommunicator is a neat addition to the show, and I wish they had used it more. Nice touch that this was unaffected by the cascade virus, since it was added after Eddington would have installed the virus. 4) I like how Odo reminds Sisko that Eddington was there because they didn’t trust the shapeshifter… 5) I love seeing Sisko’s raw emotion during the punching bag scene. 6) Cobalt diselenide could exist as cobalt(IV), I guess. 6) This is Nog’s first combat situation; combat later becomes central to his character development. 7) When the Defiant leaves DS9, the crew is overly specific on ship commands. This is meant to show they are being more manual with the controls while the computer is down. 8) I found a major discontinuity. When describing the limitations, O’Brien tells Sisko that there are no transporters available. Yet when Sisko is faced with the dilemma of chasing Eddington or saving the Cardassian freighter, he asks about transporter range. 9) The fact that the Federation and Cardassian colonists have to switch planets is fantastic and poetic. 10) The moment when Sisko says he must become the villain and force Eddington to surrender was so very delicious for me. It just hammers home how much DS9 criticizes the idea of a future utopia.  11) Changeling-Bashir Watch:  He doesn’t appear in this episode…