Episode 1.5: Babel

The central conflict of this episode is a clever one, in my opinion.  O’Brien is overworked and undervalued, complaining about people and the demands they put on him.  When he finally cracks at Sisko’s complaint for the command-level replicators, he vents his frustration at constantly being on demand.  He wants folks to simply leave him alone.  The virus that he unleashes gives him this.  As the virus spreads through the station, the infected individuals are completely mentally sound, but lose their ability to process language, verbal or written.  The solution is classic Star Trek, solved in the final 5 minutes.  Fun conflict, and it’s enjoyable to watch Bashir and Kira each struggle with their respective solutions.  Dax’s personality is revealed a bit; she loves being a woman and is confident in who she is.  She finds the attention she receives enticing, which counters Kira’s more traditional discomfort at the ogling.

As with the previous episode though, the piece of this story I enjoy the most is seeing more of Odo and Quark’s love/hate relationship.  The above conflict is merely the setting to push the characters out of their comfort zones.  Their false hatred for each other is extremely amusing to watch, because they see each other far more clearly than anyone else sees them.  Odo is particularly understood by Quark in a way that is rivaled only by Kira, and her only very late in the series.  Quark makes a bad situation worse, but is very good at rationalizing his greed (“The station needs entertainment”).  He’s not wrong.  There’s the practical reasons of avoiding a riot by keeping people calm, but Quark inadvertently strikes a deeper chord with me.  The pagh must be cared for as much as the physical needs of the station’s inhabitants.  In his greed, Quark does this often.  Once the station is nearly completely infected, Odo shows a bit of hidden respect for Quark with his discomfort at never learning to play Dabo, while Quark is happy to teach Odo this game he genuinely enjoys.  After Sisko goes down, and Odo is left to handle the station himself, Quark really begins to shine.  He is dependable in a crisis, and knows when to take advantage of an opportunity (“We’ll haggle for it later”).  Quark will also never, ever pass up an opportunity to rub it in Odo’s face that Quark is needed.  After the station is safe, Odo shows his frustration at Quark’s greed-centric attitude, but he can’t deny that Quark did what was needed when the situation was most dire.  Another fun thing to note is seeing how Quark is immune to the virus.  Quark and other Ferengi never get sick, never get incapacitated, never get trapped.  They never are limited by outside factors.  Ferengi must always fight themselves to overcome adversity.  They contend with their own tendencies for greed and self-centered attitudes whereas the rest of the crew faces obstacles outside of themselves.  In the show, the writers often used the Ferengi as “20th century real humans.”  What they struggle with is what we struggle with.  I’ll come back to this Ferengi-as-humans concept in Move Along Home (Ep 1.10) or The Nagus (Ep 1.11).  Not sure which yet.

One last thought that ended up being longer than a “Random Thought” should be.  Odo gets the better of Quark in this episode.  Through the series, Odo bests Quark more times than Quark bests Odo.  This always bothered me.  I honestly feel that the Odo & Quark relationship is an equitable relationship.  They each give as much as they get, and they each understand each other in unique ways.  I never liked how that is not reflected in their public battle of criminal vs cop.  To be fair though, it is implied that Quark succeeds more often off-screen than on-screen.

Random Thoughts: 1) Morn Sighting!  2) Jake is still very much a boy, needing his father for comfort and protection.  3) The episode name is clearly a reference to the Biblical story of confusing language.

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~ by Joshua Black on July 17, 2012.

One Response to “Episode 1.5: Babel”

  1. I always thought this episode was a fun one. 🙂

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