Deep Space Nine (DS9) Season 6
A Time to Stand -
Rocks and Shoals -
Sons and Daughters - Behind the Lines
Favor the Bold / Sacrifice of Angels - You Are Cordially Invited - Resurrection - Statistical Probabilities
The Magnificent Ferengi - Waltz - Who Mourns for Morn? - Far Beyond the Stars - One Little Ship
Honor Among Thieves - Change of Heart -Wrongs Darker than Death or Night - Inquisition - In the Pale Moonlight
His Way - The Reckoning - Valiant - Profit and Lace - Time's Orphan - The Sound of Her Voice - Tears of the Prophets
Stardate not given: Months after the abandonment of Deep Space 9 the Federation fleet suffers defeat after defeat in the war against the Dominion. Admiral Ross sends Captain Sisko and his crew on an undercover mission to eliminate the Dominion's biggest Ketracel white supply depot - using the Jem'Hadar fighter that Sisko had recovered the year before. After an unscheduled and almost fatal encounter with an unaware Starfleet vessel, the USS Centaur, Sisko's ship proceeds to the Ketracel white depot. The crew manages to beam down a bomb, but their ship is trapped when the facility raises its shields. In the attempt to outrun the wave of the explosion, the ship is severely damaged.
I was hoping for the sixth season to continue to be as exciting as "Call to Arms" promised. Well, "A Time to Stand" narrowly misses the fulfillment of that expectation. To start with, I would have liked to see some big battle instead of a battered fleet of ugly kitbashes in the beginning. Well, it is clear that the episode primarily needs to wrap up the conquest of Deep Space 9 and then slowly build up tension in emerging enmities, which is done quite skillfully. Yet, the most memorable part of the episode is the bumpy ride on the captured Jem'Hadar vessel, the encounter with the Centaur and the explosion of the Ketracel white depot that leaves Sisko and his crew stranded behind the lines. With this cliffhanger DS9 enters a temporary serial format, comprising the first six episodes of the season.
The forced collaboration of the remaining station residents with the Dominion probably bears more conflict potential than any continuing setting so far in any Star Trek series. And the writers give it a good start. It is just too obvious how Kira loathes being Dukat's subordinate, although she does her best to restrain herself in everyone's best interest. Dukat, on the other hand, means what he says to Weyoun: "She is a fascinating woman." His open advances toward Kira may be a game of power more than real desire. Still, I think he wants to get her to like him, just as in his delusions the Bajoran people revere him. The alliance of the Cardassians with the Dominion is just as unlikely. Actually, I think of it a bit like the Hitler-Stalin Pact, with Bajor being their Poland. Not only are their goals very different. Dukat and Weyoun despise one another, and they do not even bother to coordinate very basic matters of the operation of the station. This should make it easy for the new Bajoran Resistance to divide them, and Kira takes a first step. Well, it almost seems like she prefers to talk with Weyoun not just because he would rather agree with her demands. Her appreciation of his perfidious personality is totally undeserved, however. Odo appears as overly cautious. It is only understandable, considering that his enemies look up to him as a "god". Jake, on the other hand, looks miserable in this episode. Does he truly expect Weyoun to honor the freedom of press? Especially since this man abducted him and Nog in "In the Cards" and must have scared the hell out of him.
- Nitpicking: When Sisko's Jem'Hadar vessel is caught in the security grid of the asteroid and the bomb is about to go off in less than three minutes, everyone agrees that only with a precise timing there would be a chance of survival. But then the bomb goes off early, with the vessel at most a few hundred meters away. How slow can the explosion wave front possibly propagate to leave as much as ten seconds to react until the ship finally goes to full impulse?
- Remarkable dialogue: "You're not genetically engineered, you're a Vulcan." - "If I'm a Vulcan, how do you explain my boyish smile?" - "Not so boyish anymore, Doctor." (Garak and Bashir)
- Remarkable quote: "Then I'm sure you share my delight in knowing that life here is returning to normal. The shops are reopening, the Promenade is abuzz with activity once again, the Habitat Ring echoes with the laughter of happy children." (Weyoun)
- Remarkable fact: Only 14 ships out of 112 of the Seventh Fleet make it back.
Stardate 51107.2: Sisko and his crew are stranded on a desolate planet, with Dax being wounded. Nog and Garak are captured by a group of Jem'Hadar who are marooned as well. When Keevan, the injured Vorta heading the Jem'Hadar, learns that there is a doctor among the Starfleet crew, he asks for a hostage exchange. Sisko and Bashir agree to replace Nog and Garak. Keevan tells them that he is running out of Ketracel white supplies and therefore losing any control over the Jem'Hadar. In order to save his own life, the Vorta reveals his soldiers' attack plan to Sisko. When Sisko later gives the trapped Jem'Hadar an opportunity to surrender, their leader, Remata'Klan, refuses. All Jem'Hadar are killed in the skirmish.
Although the premise is a different one, the setting is a tad too much reminiscent of DS9: "The Ship" to make this a truly remarkable episode. It is a pity. The one grave blunder concerning the appearance of the planet out of the vacuum of space rather lies in the script. Otherwise "Rocks and Shoals" convinces with a great execution. In particular, the visuals are brilliant. It pays that this episode was shot on location. And instead of a clumsy partial build of a ship like in "The Ship" we get to see the digitally inserted Jem'Hadar sink in the background, adding a good deal of realism to the scenario of the marooned crew in the foreground. The shots with the Jem'Hadar and Starfleet being hundreds of meters apart provide a depth as it can be found in hardly any other Trek installment.
One main issue of the episode is Keevan's demeanor, which must appear as betrayal by human standards. However, the way the Dominion hierarchy really works is so incomprehensible that we can't really tell whether a Vorta wouldn't possibly be worth the lives of several Jem'Hadar. And as much as the honorable Jem'Hadar Remata'Klan may disagree with Keevan, he is still too much of a drug-addicted slave soldier that he would dare to contradict his superior. In the end the Jem'Hadar end up just as they are designed to in case they run out of Ketracel white or out of leadership. It is certainly a waste that they are all slaughtered but probably no big deal in the mindset of the Dominion.
The B-plot further builds up the tension on the occupied station. At the beginning Kira casually and lethargically enters a turbolift with Jem'Hadar. She has apparently put up with the situation. The suicide of Vedek Yassim on the Promenade changes her mind. I can understand her qualms about doing nothing, which seems to her like collaborating with the enemy. But she knows that, given the circumstances, resistance may cause even more harm to her people. Rather than being a logical choice at the time, I think it is a personal decision to engage in covert resistance, because Kira just can't stand being inactive any longer.
When Kira and Odo give him a courtesy interview, Jake once again doesn't understand what is going on. Last time it was the freedom of press, now he claims the freedom of speech when he learns that Kira would not allow a rally on the Promenade. He still thinks of Weyoun as the cozy local dictator. The vedek who kills herself in protest represents the other extreme. It is disturbing that it requires a suicide, but her kind of protest is rather successful than Jake's pathetic writing.
- Continuity: I like how Nog refers to the events of DS9: "Empok Nor" when he is unwilling to turn his back on Garak.
- When the Jem'Hadar attack the ship, Dax is tossed against a railing that topples down as if it were completely unsecured.
- We all know the convenient coincidence of Class-M planets being nearby whenever an emergency landing is due. However, the incidence in this episode is by far the most improbable ever shown on Star Trek. Sisko orders Dax to head for an uncharted nebula to escape the Jem'Hadar, and Dax explicitly says "We don't know what's in there." No one is even aware of the existence of that planet until the ship crashes down there! Now, what is the chance of an inhabitable planet being hidden in a nebula, and of a ship accidentally getting into its gravity well? One in a quadrillion? It seems O'Brien has installed an infinite improbability drive on that vessel.
- Remarkable quote: "Half the Alpha Quadrant is out there, right now, fighting for my freedom - but not me." (Kira)
Stardate not given: Worf is surprised to see his son Alexander as a new crew member on General Martok's Bird-of-Prey. Much to his dismay, the boy soon becomes the ship's fool when he exhibits poor fighting skills and falls for a battle simulation running on the bridge that he thinks is an authentic Dominion attack. The two have an argument about Worf trying to get rid of Alexander like he were still a kid. But then the Jem'Hadar actually attack, and Alexander proves himself worthy when he successfully repairs a plasma leak. Like his father before, Alexander is accepted into the House of Martok.
This episode unfolds so slowly that it gave my plenty of time to marvel how amazingly fast Klingon children grow up when I first watched it. As the title says, "Sons and Daughters" is all about family. Worf has not seen his son Alexander Rozhenko in years, at least not since the time when the former Enterprise officer came to Deep Space 9 two years ago. By human and by Klingon standards Alexander was a kid when Worf decided to let the Rozhenkos tend to his son after the events of TNG: "Firstborn". There was no strife that could have separated the two, simply because Alexander was still too young. Since it looks like they have not even been talking via subspace in the past couple of years, there is no other conclusion than that Worf consciously broke off the contact. Why? Was it only because Alexander did not want to follow in his footsteps? We may have expected Worf to be more tolerant than that. Or was it because the House of Mogh was disgraced once again? Regardless of the big mistake he probably made, Worf's feelings about his son are just as ambiguous as his actions in this situation. We cannot really figure out what he could or what he should do, much less can Worf himself.
Alexander's opinion of his father is more clear-cut, although his Worf is the much more prominent character that the viewers are more likely to identify themselves with. The boy says, "You never accepted me. You abandoned me." We have to concur for all we know. Alexander defiantly joined the Klingon Defense Force to prove that he is worthy but ultimately to gain his father's respect. It was foreseeable what would happen with Alexander on a Klingon warship, a world he does not really belong in. In this respect he is not unlike many human teenage boys with their self-imposed trials, only that (fortunately) only few would want to die in case of failure.
The daughter in the title is Tora Ziyal, of course. She has made her peace with her father Gul Dukat, the man who abandoned her to die in last season's "By Inferno's Light". And so the story of odd Cardassian family relations continues. Ziyal even manages to incorporate Kira into her family for some time. I wonder why it takes Kira so long to recognize that pretending to be Dukat's friend is wrong. I thought she already made her mind up in "Rocks and Shoals". The most revealing scene regarding Dukat, however, is when Kira refuses to accept the dress he sent her as a gift and calls him an opportunist before leaving his quarters. Only a few moments later Ziyal enters. Dukat promptly tells his daughter that he bought the dress for her. I also like how "Uncle" Martok helps Alexander find his way, which Worf failed to do, just like "Aunt" Nerys cares more about Ziyal than Dukat ever would. Cues like these ones and a decent character development make the episode enjoyable, although it exhibits a considerable lack of action until the final eight minutes.
- Remarkable quote: "Lie to yourself if you must, but not to me. You do not hear the warrior's call. I ask again: Why are you here?" (Martok, to Alexander)
- Remarkable fact: Alexander was born in 2366, the current date is 2374. That makes him just eight years old!
Stardate 51149.5: On Starbase 375 Admiral Ross puts Dax in command of the Defiant and sends her on a mission to destroy a Dominion sensor array in the Argolis Cluster. Meanwhile on Terok Nor, Odo meets the female Founder, much to Kira's displeasure. When Quark has learned that Damar is modifying the station's deflector array to disable the Starfleet minefield that protects the Alpha Quadrant, Kira, Jake, and Rom devise a plan to sabotage the deflector. But they fail and Rom is arrested because Odo is not on his post when he is supposed to give the Ferengi a sensor window for his tampering. Kira is infuriated when Odo tells her that he has rejoined his people.
Like already in "A Time to Stand" and "Sons and Daughters", the pace of this episode is very slow. The whole action is once again concentrated in the final couple of minutes. Another common pattern of the six-episode arc is that the focus is on no more than three or four permanent crew members, with changing recurring characters entering the scene in the roles of mischief-makers. This time it is up to the female Founder and to Damar to further escalate the situation. Actually, it is the first time that Damar gets to say really meaningful lines, besides drinking too much kanar. It becomes clear that his role is slated to grow.
The female Founder is much more of a temptation to Odo than the prospect of having a "family" consisting of Ziyal and Dukat was to Kira in "Sons and Daughters". Odo finds everything he ever wanted to know and to be in the link with her. The single stages of Odo's gradual enchantment are worked out nicely: At first he is skeptical and avoids contact with the Founder. Then he becomes curious and links with her for the first time. But he is careful not to expose the Resistance, as he reaffirms to Kira. Later, however, he reveals to the Founder that he promised Kira not to link again. This is what I see as the actual turning point of his loyalty, because by disclosing this personal information to the enemy he definitely crosses a line. Finally, Odo goes as far as betraying the Resistance and turning Rom over to the Dominion. As much as we may believe in the female Founder's figurative description of Changelings in a link being like an ocean, he commits a serious offense. Well, if Odo were human, we would ask him what he has been smoking. But while it impairs the perception and the rational thinking in a similar fashion, linking is obviously a more profound experience than any drug we could imagine.
To make things worse, Odo provides a pathetic justification for his misdeed when he says to Kira that "Nothing else matters." and "You can't understand." It is the same old story that superior lifeforms keep telling to humanoids as if they were talking to kids. At the end of this episode Odo is so estranged from Kira that we would not expect them to come together again any time soon. It has taken a while, but this is the first time something serious happens under the Dominion occupation that has a bearing on the regular characters.
The link may superficially appear as the Changelings' equivalent of sex, as Damar insinuates when he notices Kira's jealousy. When she accuses Odo of weakening their cause after his first linking with the other Founder, it may be a pretense because she would not admit that she is simply jealous. Then again, Kira is the type of woman who would postpone personal matters in a crisis.
- Remarkable dialogue: "Do you realize what you just did? You just handed the Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion." - "I was in the Link." - "Are you saying you forgot?" - "I didn't forget... it just didn't seem to matter." - "A lot of people are going to die. Don't you care?!" - "It has nothing to do with me." (Kira and Odo)
- Remarkable scenes:
- I am usually not fond of hollow rituals meant to boost morale, but I kind of liked Sisko's "phaser power cell ceremony" in the Defiant's mess hall. Dax follows suit but is not half as convincing as the charismatic captain.
- It is cute how Kira portrays Quark's stalking victim when Rom comes to her quarters with a basket of fruit and two Cardassians walk by.
- Remarkable facts:
- Damar is promoted from the rank of Glinn to Gul.
- The female Founder tells Odo that she has no name because there is no use for one in the Great Link.
- A hatch label says "A 51 - Restricted area". Area 51?
Stardate not given: In an attempt to boost the morale of the Federation, Sisko devises a plan to retake Deep Space 9. On the station, Rom is about to be executed, while Odo continues to link with the female shapeshifter. Quark learns that the minefield would come down within a week, and Jake secretly informs his father of the aggravated situation. Sisko decides to attack earlier, even though his fleet is outgunned against the Dominion. When the battle begins, Sisko orders his ships to focus their attacks on the Cardassians, in the hope they would leave gaps in the frontline. But only with the help of Klingon reinforcements the alliance can turn the tables, and the Defiant makes a run for Deep Space 9. Quark and Ziyal free Rom from prison. Odo rejoins the resistance group, but they are too late to prevent the minefield from detonating, with thousands of Dominion vessels waiting on the far side of the wormhole. Sisko summons the Defiant into the wormhole where the ship would meet certain destruction - but the Prophets interfere. Sisko convinces them to protect Bajor against the invasion, and the Dominion fleet vanishes. The Dominion has to abandon the station and retreats to Cardassia. Damar kills Ziyal before the eyes of her father, leaving Dukat on the station as a shadow of his former self.
The double feature is the most thrilling installment in a while, and I wouldn't have expected anything less. "Favor the Bold" begins as slowly as the previous two episodes. But with the Defiant crew preparing for the attack, while the Dominion is about to bring down the minefield, we can hear the clock ticking all the time. "Sacrifice of Angels" wraps up the six-episode arc with its numerous character conflicts, but is notable most of all for showing the biggest space battle in Star Trek so far, and the first one entirely created on the computer.
I think the focus of the double episode is on the various villains though, namely on the female Founder, Weyoun, Dukat and Damar, in descending order of evilness. The female Founder continues to entrap Odo. Well, the two obviously have sex, or rather imitate this humanoid behavior. In any case it does not mean a lot to either of them. And the female Founder is using every opportunity anyway to put down the "small solids" when talking to Odo. Everything she says typifies fascism. It is the culmination of all contempt for humanoid races that superior beings (like most prominently Q) almost habitually exhibit.
Weyoun, on the other hand, is just a minion. He appears to be too intelligent to be a devoted follower of the Founders. However, it becomes clear more than once that he does not bother to question their orders beyond a certain point - maybe simply because of a built-in loyalty that gives the Vorta the satisfaction they otherwise couldn't gain. Speaking of built-in qualities, we learn about the Vorta's allegedly limited sensory and emotional capabilities on no less than five occasions in the double feature. Vorta lack a sense of aesthetics, as Weyoun claims when he consults Major Kira about Ziyal's art. I wonder how this fits with their well-developed communication skills though. They also have poor eyesight, because Weyoun is not able to see the deactivation of the single mines from the station. But they do have good ears, as Weyoun proves when he hears the private conversation of Dukat and Damar. In "Sacrifice of Angels" Dukat embarrasses Weyoun, expecting him to explain to the Founder details on the tactical display. Finally, Dukat describes Weyoun as anhedonic. It may have been a bit too allusive, but I liked this running joke.
Dukat appears as a disordered dictator whose capital weakness is his self-delusion. He is already drunk when he complains about the Bajorans not erecting a statue in his honor (one of my all-time favorite Trek quotes!), still it suits his character. However, when Weyoun suggests that the population of Earth has to be eradicated in order to break any resistance, my impression is that Dukat backs off because he still has a conscience, rather than because of the typically Cardassian idea he outlines, that they may gain a greater victory by re-educating the enemy.
Gul Damar is another minion, but one with an attitude. He loves to talk and to boast, but other than that he represents the "true Cardassia" rather than Dukat. He cares more about the welfare of his people than Dukat with his defective egocentric personality. As much as we despise him for killing Tora Ziyal, he brings order to the current Cardassian chaos in an odd fashion. In a human view Ziyal's death is certainly tragical and Damar is a murderer, but from Damar's perspective he does the only right thing. The macabre irony is that under somewhat different circumstances Dukat would have killed her himself for her betrayal, as he already planned to do twice. But now someone else does what he would have claimed as a father's right to do or allegedly in the best interest of the Cardassian people. Dukat first loses the station and then his daughter, but also his power over both of them is taken away, the only self-fulfillment he used to have.
The non-villainous characters do what they have to do. Well, Kira picks a bad time when she knocks down Damar after his pathetic plea to Ziyal to return to her father. Considering that the Resistance must prepare for another act of sabotage, this may take away the leeway from her that she needs. Leeta is just standing around in her few scenes, and her stagy sobbing in front of Rom's holding cell is annoying. As always, Quark needs longer than anyone else until he takes a risk that does not bring him a return other than everyone's appreciation.
Sisko seems to have made another leap of faith. He tries to explain to the skeptical Admiral Ross what the Bajoran faith really means to him - and that he intends to settle down on Bajor. But when he orders the Defiant to enter the wormhole in a suicide mission he is determined to act against the Prophets instead of asking them for help in the first place. Ross must have a good deal of faith in Ben anyway, considering that he gives the command over the fleet to a man who is emotionally attached to Bajor.
Everything in the double episode fits together nicely, except for the Dominion fleet that disappears in a "deus ex machina" fashion. With thousands of enemy ships waiting on the far end of the wormhole, only the Prophets could possibly save the day. Still, it left me a bit disappointed that the Dominion fleet was simply spirited away.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Billions and billions of people are counting on you." - "Boy, they're gonna be disappointed." (Rom and Quark)
- "Chief. I was just coming to see you. Can you believe it? They made me an ensign." - "I didn't realize that things were going so bad." (Nog and O'Brien)
- "I'd like to toss this smug little Vorta off the nearest airlock." - "Hahahaha." - "And his Founder with him." - "Now, Now, Damar, that's no way to talk about our valued allies. Not until this war is over, anyway." (Damar and Dukat)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Morn, you do have a problem. But lucky for you, the solution is simple: You're a grown man! And if you don't want to attend your mother's birthday party, you don't have to." (Quark)
- "Let me tell you something, Odo. We are way, way past sorry." (Kira)
- "There's an old saying: 'Fortune favors the bold.' Well, I guess we're about to find out." (Sisko)
- "Perhaps the biggest disappointment in my life is that the Bajoran people still refuse to appreciate how lucky they were to have me as their liberator. I protected them in so many ways... cared for them as if they were my own children. But to this day, is there a single statue of me on Bajor?" (Dukat)
- Remarkable scene: A broken Dukat hands over the baseball to Sisko with the words "I forgive you too."
Stardate 51247.5: Worf and Jadzia decide to get married despite the ongoing war. In order to be accepted as Worf's bride, Martok's wife Sirella has to agree, but she gives Dax a hard time. In the meantime Worf, Martok, Alexander, Bashir, O'Brien and Sisko celebrate the Klingon version of a bachelor party, a ritual of pain and abstinence. When Dax rejects to leave her own, much more joyous party, she ultimately falls out with Sirella who expects the Trill to apologize. Dax refuses and calls off the wedding. Only Sisko can eventually convince her to do as requested, for Worf and his esteem of Klingon traditions.
I remembered this episode as being a bit silly. However, after watching it again a couple of years later it appears to me as light-hearted but still serious. In other words, as just the right type of episode to be aired after the mini-arc of intense conflict.
Perhaps my prior impression of "You Are Cordially Invited" was mainly due to the harsh contrast between Worf's dead serious fast and pain ritual and Jadzia's anarchical South Sea folklore party, both of which had their own childish outgrowths. But this antagonism nicely illustrates the conflicting interests in the episode. The Klingon-Trill cultural clash is just the tip of the iceberg. It is obvious since DS9: "Let He Who is without Sin" that Worf and Jadzia are simply quite different, and now Sirella comes along with still different expectations.
Martok's wife Sirella seems to be austere and inflexible at first, a mother-in-law from hell. In the end it becomes obvious that she just acted as everyone on the Klingon homeworld would have expected from her. Still, she is unfair to Jadzia, as she demands her to be even tougher and overall better than she would expect from a Klingon woman. But even if we leave aside that Jadzia is an alien to her, can a series of physical and mental exams possibly prove Jadzia's worthiness? In any half-way enlightened civilization rituals are only still performed because they symbolize something, never to come to a decision. The Klingons may not yet have achieved this level of abstraction of their rituals, and of pragmatism for that matter. Well, since they deem duels to the death as appropriate to resolve power struggles, the test before a marriage is still the lesser evil.
Worf always attempts to get the best of both worlds. He sticks to the Klingon idea of honor, just as well as he heeds human principles of tolerance. The ironical thing is that this time he appears as too Klingon to his human friends, putting them to a Klingon ordeal, but as too human to Martok and Sirella. Worf complains about Sirella's treatment of Jadzia: "That is a prejudiced, xenophobic view." And Martok confirms just that, perpetuating what all Klingons except for Worf always say in such a case: "We are Klingons, Worf. We don't embrace other cultures. We conquer them." Worf also says: "She is nothing like the woman I thought I would marry." But what did he expect? He knew all the time how easy-going Jadzia is. And stubborn when someone comes to spoil her fun. So would she of all women become the Klingon equivalent of a model housewife? Dream on, Worf.
Jadzia does her very best to impress Sirella by being stronger than the Klingon woman would expect from an alien. On the other hand, she provokes her prospective mother-in-law when she digs up a discontinuity in her lineage, that Sirella hasn't actually inherited imperial blood. The last straw, however, is when she overextends her right of amusement and heavily flirts with Lt. Atoa. Sirella calls her a "Risian slut", and although I doubt she knows what Risa is like, she hits the nail.
But most of all I love Sisko for setting Jadzia straight. He does not just criticize her self-indulgence. He also gives her new self-confidence, referring to Dax's 356 years of experience, including six marriages.
A little B-plot is concerned with Odo and Kira. When Odo appears at Jadzia's party with a security detail, he is not just reserved and formal because there have been complaints about the noise. He still hasn't resolved his discord with Kira. But I wonder. Why didn't Odo join the party? I mean, Worf's party. While he couldn't experience the pain and hunger like the rest, the mood would have been just the right thing for him. But it was the probably better decision to finally talk to Nerys - even if it was in Jadzia's bedroom.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "We now begin a fast that will continue until the day of the wedding." - "That's four days away." - "It is a short time, I know, but we'll make the best of it." (Worf, Bashir and Martok)
- "I'm having a vision... about the future... I can see it so clearly..." - "What is it?" - "I'm gonna to kill Worf." (Bashir and O'Brien)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "The Rotarran's crew actually thinks of me as a good luck charm. The more mistakes I make, the safer they feel." (Alexander)
- "You put on weight, and your hair is going gray." (Sirella, to Martok)
- Remarkable scenes:
- While Martok is speaking with Sisko, he is "targeting" the captain's baseball, ready to grab it any moment. But Sisko comes to the "rescue", taking it himself.
- The most horrible thing that happens in the episode is when Julian and Miles are just being served an opulent meal, and Sisko comes to take everything away because the fasting is slated to continue.
Stardate not given: The Mirror Universe version of Bareil Antos appears on the station and grasps the special attention of Kira, who was once in love with the late Vedek Bareil of her universe. Mirror Bareil develops an interest for Bajoran religion, but it turns out to be a ruse in order to get his hands on the Orb of Prophecy and Change. He is supposed to steal it for the Intendant, Kira's counterpart in the Mirror Universe. But when he is just about to take the orb with him, he has a vision and stuns the Intendant with a phaser blast. Feeling unworthy to stay with Kira, he departs for the other universe.
It is the first cross-over with the Mirror Universe since DS9: "Shattered Mirror" in the fourth season. But I can't say I have been missing the Mirror Universe a lot. Its principal idea, that everyone is a rogue or a bizarre version of a character we know, is exhausted by now. While "Resurrection" is the first time that someone from the Mirror Universe stays in our universe, the story about Kira Nerys's encounter with Mirror Bareil isn't much different from that of Sisko and Mirror Jennifer. Only that the latter was embedded into an exciting setting. I never cared a lot about Bareil Antos anyway, although I found the way he was killed off in DS9: "Life Support" unfair and contrived. Replacing our Bareil with the Mirror version doesn't make up for this mistake. The two twists that he has a hidden agenda but eventually follows his conscience are not enough to compensate for an otherwise boring course of the story.
Even Mirror Kira has no chance to excel as a formidable villain in the new playground of our universe. On the contrary, I would have hoped for a less predictable twist than the revelation that Bareil is just one of the Intendant's many lovers and thugs, and that it is nothing but an attempt to steal the Orb (that Bareil, the thief, was fascinated with all the time). I liked Mirror Kira's jealousy of Major Kira though. Actually, Nana Visitor's performance is about the only attractive thing about the DS9's Mirror Universe. Rather than the unremarkable plot, I enjoyed the decent ironical humor in the episode and a few tie-ins from previous installments.
- Inconsistency: The space surrounding Deep Space 9 must be swarming with activity. Yet, when the transporter buffer is activated from somewhere without warning (actually from the Mirror Universe), Jadzia states: "There are no ships in transporter range."
- Remarkable quote: "When you overindulge the body, you starve the soul." (Vedek Bareil)
- Remarkable facts: Jadzia suggests that Kira might bring Capt. Boday to the dinner, the one with the transparent skull (DS9: "Let He Who Is Without Sin").
Stardate not given: Dr. Bashir is working with a group of four genetically engineered people like he is one too. However, Jack, Lauren, Patrick and Sarina have spent most of their lives in an institution because, in spite of being highly talented, they are not ready for social life. When the group proves quite helpful in making projections about the war and possible peace negotiations, they are given access to classified data of the Federation. Their devastating prognosis: The Federation would lose hundreds of billions of lives if the war were going to continue. When their proposal to surrender is naturally turned down by Starfleet, Jack, Lauren and Patrick attempt to meet with Weyoun and Damar to supply them with strategic information. But Bashir foils their plan with Sarina's help, and he sees no alternative but sending them back to the institution.
Although it starts off as a comedy, "Statistical Probabilities" continues the discussion about the ethical impact of genetic engineering. Most importantly, this time the scope is not limited to the danger of enhanced people getting dictatorial powers like in some previous installments, most notably TOS: "Space Seed" and TNG: "The Hunted". The Eugenics Wars are hinted at only in a side note. Instead of that the episode focuses on the individuals themselves. A minor point of criticism is that Jack, Lauren, Patrick and Sarina, representing four extreme archetypes of human (mis)behavior, may be too odd examples and their variety too fabricated to create awareness for the problem of genetic engineering. The diversity of the group may be just the reason why it was assembled at the institute in the first place though. Yet, in spite of their inability to live what is considered a normal life, all of them are apparently geniuses. Although being extraordinarily intelligent has been a goal of their genetic enhancements, it still reminds me of the wrong impression that Dustin Hoffman's character left in "Rain Man", that everyone with autistic disorder naturally must have amazing mental capabilities.
The time and circumstances to get Jack & company involved are badly chosen. It is just not the time for peace talks with the Dominion, much less for the continuation of the hypocritical diplomacy games of the fifth season. Any half-Betazoid counselor could have revealed Weyoun's intentions easier than the four geniuses. And since probability theory doesn't work like shown here, I don't care for their prediction (or should I call it prophecy?) of the Federation's defeat either. Starfleet has received help apparently against all odds from the Klingon cavalry, from wormhole aliens and from their own engineering miracles. Should they suddenly throw overboard everything they fight for, only based on the outlandish calculations by four nerds? I have a problem with the depiction of ingenuity as something inherently nerdy in any TV series or movie anyway. I would have preferred to see Jack and the others in a plot unrelated to the Dominion War or any other critical situation. The episode could have remained as funny as it started. And Jack, Lauren and Patrick would not have betrayed the Federation, thereby abetting Trek's oldest preconception about genetic engineering.
While Julian naturally has the lead role, I initially found O'Brien's involvement a bit misplaced. He only serves as an antipole, as someone merely representing common sense. Still, he eventually comes out much better than Julian, who is at a total loss (and I am tempted to say the same about Alexander Siddig who just doesn't look good here). His attempts to mediate between his four new friends and the "real" world are inept, and he doesn't even reflect on the position he takes himself. Julian is obsessed with extremely hypothetical casualty figures like a bigot. In this context he also has the worst line of the episode, which is unequaled in its naivety: "If we fight, there'll be over 900 billion casualties. If we surrender, no one dies." What sounds like a plea for humanity shows that he is a dick for all he should know about the Dominion's boundless cruelty.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "What happened? Your parents couldn't afford the full overhaul?" (Jack, after performing a salto, to Bashir)
- "There are rules. Ah... ah... don't talk with your mouth full. Don't open an airlock when someone's inside it. And don't lie about your genetic status." (Jack)
Stardate not given: Quark's and Rom's moogie has been kidnapped by the Dominion. With fellow Ferengi Nog, Gaila, Leck and Brunt they attempt to free her in exchange for the Vorta Keevan who was captured a few months earlier. The exchange is supposed to take place on the abandoned station Empok Nor. But Keevan is accidentally killed before he can be sent back, when the Ferengi struggle for the possession of Quark's reward money. Nog devises a method to let Keevan appear alive, using neural stimulators. The Vorta on the opposite side, Yelgrun, notices that something is wrong with Keevan, but not before the Ferengi manage to kill his guards and take him prisoner.
What I like most about this episode is how it ties together several previously separate threads without contrivance. Gaila, Quark's cousin, is the one who sabotaged the shuttle in "Little Green Men" and was arrested after the illegal weapons deal in "Business as Usual". Empok Nor from the episode of the same name is the site chosen for the hostage exchange. The Vorta Keevan to be returned to the Dominion is the one captured in "Rocks and Shoals". Finally, Ishka's and Zek's relationship was discovered by Quark in "Ferengi Love Songs". He has obviously kept it a secret and tells Rom only now.
Other than the nifty continuity, plus the fact that the away team consists entirely of Ferengi, the plot is not particularly interesting. The episode starts off very slowly. Quark's clumsy planning of his moogie's rescue and the assembly of the motley Ferengi crew take up the first half of the episode. It is good for a couple of laughs (e.g. when Gaila shoots moogie in the holosuite training) but overall rather predictable. The Ferengi are initially lacking any team spirit and tactical skills, and it is also foreseeable that they would jeopardize the whole mission because of financial disagreements.
Ironically the somewhat silly twist that Keevan is inadvertently shot in the turmoil and has to be kept alive like a zombie, something that could have easily ruined the episode, turns out quite successful. The story eventually gains momentum, better late than never. Especially the black humor of the remote-controlled Keevan bumping into a pillar is hilarious.
However, the Ferengi can be glad that the Dominion has apparently become a paper tiger. Briefly after "Statistical Probabilities" it is the second time that high-ranking Dominion officials are eager to negotiate and fall for rather simple ploys. Iggy Pop as the Vorta Yelgrun is a highlight of the episode though, and not just because of his wonderfully haggard face.
- Remarkable quote: "A child... a moron... a failure... and a psychopath. Quite a little team you have put together!" (Brunt to Quark, referring to Nog, Rom, Gaila and Leck, respectively)
Stardate 51413.6: Sisko and Dukat are en route to Dukat's trial when the starship is attacked and destroyed. The two escape in a shuttle and land on a desolate planet, but Sisko has several broken bones. Dukat pretends that their emergency emitter is sending out a distress call, but actually the Cardassian is under the influence of hallucinations. When Sisko repairs the emitter himself, Dukat destroys it. Sisko and Dukat are struggling for the control of the shuttle, with Dukat prevailing. He manages to escape, but the Defiant picks up his signal and locates Sisko.
I don't care at all for this episode that alternates between bland and obnoxious. It starts with Sisko's and Dukat's exchange of pleasantries aboard the Honshu. We learn that Dukat has "recovered" from his recent military and personal defeat. None of the two is resentful as it seems. As if the Cardassians knew of their almost conciliatory conversation, the Honshu is suddenly attacked by them and later reported destroyed. The next thing we see is that Dukat and Sisko are sitting in a cave. If at least the battle had been shown (it is worrying anyway that Nebula-class ships repeatedly become such easy targets), it may have provided a little excitement for this very boring episode. But perhaps I should be glad that the usual part of the narrow escape and the almost fatal crash landing on a barely inhabitable planet that pops up out of nothing is skipped.
It is such a corny idea to start with to isolate Sisko and Dukat on a barren planet, something that has been done over and over in a very similar fashion. Sisko, physically disabled for the rest of the episode, is dependent on his former archenemy and perhaps he owes him gratitude this time. While it is nice to see how the two continue their discussion, Dukat's contribution consists of the same phrases that he has been using all over. As Sisko is weakening, it boils down to a monologue anyway, with Sisko providing only the cues. Just for a moment it seems as if Dukat were actually speaking with Weyoun, in what is a pathetic attempt to deceive the viewers. But in reality Dukat is frantically talking to himself. He gradually reverts to a lunatic. "Boo! I'm a very bad guy!"
Well, "Waltz" continues a tradition of DS9 to incorporate familiar faces into hallucinations as some sort of avatars, representing certain thoughts and traits that may be unrelated to the actual characters. While I am fond of how the Prophets use to appear to Sisko, I found Dax's hosts and Bashir's ghosts in "Facets" and "Distant Voices", respectively, already cheesy enough. But the concept of someone talking to hallucinations never appeared as childish as it comes out here. It is unintentionally funny how Sisko wonders who the heck Dukat is speaking to. The only visible benefit of this trick is that it gives some other actors something to do.
I can see that the episode was made with great ambition albeit small budget to reveal something about Dukat. However, while it does its job to reinvigorate the conflict with Sisko, it utterly fails to show any new facets of Dukat except that he is mad. In this condition it does not matter at all whether he says that he loves or hates the Bajorans, something that "Waltz" makes a big deal of nonetheless. I concede that Marc Alaimo is a good actor who takes the chance to give his interpretation of the Jekyll/Hyde theme, but he can't save the episode either.
Stardate not given: When Quark learns that his most frequent guest Morn has died, he arranges a memorial party in his bar as an opportunity to make some profit. But the truly startling news is that Quark turns out to be the sole heir of Morn's property. Soon Quark has four aliens on his heels: Morn's ex-wife Larell who tells Quark about one thousand bars of latinum in the inheritance, the two brothers Krit and Nahsk who attempt to overwhelm him and Hain who claims to be a security officer and demands Larell's extradition. But actually they are all accomplices of the infamous Lissepian Mother's Day Heist, with Morn being the fifth. The bars of gold they eventually find are all empty, however. Morn has actually faked his death and stored all the precious latinum in one of his stomachs. The accomplices are arrested, whereas Morn remains unscathed.
Morn is the probably strangest character in the history of Star Trek. To start with, he was not meant to be a character in the first place. Mark Allen Shepherd, who played Morn, was not paid for a speaking part but just as an extra. Consequently, Morn never spoke a word. In "Visionary" he had just opened his mouth when the cut abruptly ended his scene. In spite of everything, Morn is said to talk a lot. Actually, it has become a running joke that he is credited with all kinds of traits, abilities and a personal history he realistically can't have. Besides Quark's affirmation that he won't stop talking, we can add to the list this time that Morn used to be Worf's sparring partner, and that Jadzia had a crush on him (or so she says). Most importantly, we learn that Morn was a criminal who not only took part in the notorious Lissepian Mother Day Heist but who also had the nerve to betray his four accomplices. Despite his undisputed popularity and despite this whole episode dedicated to him, rather than a genuine character I think of Morn as a surprisingly versatile set dressing and silent cue provider that can be shaped as needed.
Aside from these curious circumstances the story is an entertaining but not really original treasure hunt, especially since it's not exactly Quark's first time. It is also a recurring theme in Quark episodes that shady people who claim their share of a bargain suddenly appear and get him into trouble. This time it is Morn's four associates who pop up one by one. And this is becoming tiresome at some point. The unexpected resolution compensates for the routine in the story to some extent. When Morn returns from the dead and sits down at Quark's, the requirement that he would never speak on screen comes out as counterproductive though, as Quark has to forestall everything that would be up to Morn to tell.
- Inconsistency: In DS9: "Little Green Men" Quark still considered gold a valuable asset. Now he complains that that the gold bricks are worthless, compared to the latinum that he hoped to find inside. Quark also says that the barely 20 centiliters of latinum that Morn pours into the liquor glass in the end is 100 bricks worth. But we can see that the gold bricks are empty except for some granulate and could hold a lot more liquid than that, unless Morn had extracted more than just the latinum. Moreover, Quark crushes the "worthless gold" much too easily. These bricks can hardly be considered a safe container for the precious latinum.
- Remarkable quote: "You know Morn, he never shuts up." (Quark)
- Remarkable scene: Odo tries to get the Morn hologram to talk, which is curious because the actual Morn wouldn't respond either (at least not on screen).
- Remarkable fact: Morn has two stomachs to feed. Quark already mentions that to Odo when he believes that Morn is dead.
- Remarkable behind-the-scenes information: The guy who is asked by Quark to take Morn's empty seat is Mark Allen Shepherd, for once without the Morn make-up!
Stardate not given: Following the loss of a friend in the Dominion War, Benjamin Sisko is plagued by visions of another life. In this life he is the science fiction author Benny Russell living in New York in 1953. His colleagues and other characters that appear in Sisko's vision look like his staff on Deep Space 9, the aliens being remodeled to humans. His editor Pabst is the human version of Odo. Benny is writing a story about a space station in the far future, commanded by Benjamin Sisko. But Pabst refuses to publish it as he anticipates that the readers wouldn't put up with a black commander. Encouraged by his girl-friend Cassie (Kasidy Yates) and a priest (Joseph Sisko) Benny carries on nonetheless. Albert (O'Brien) devises a twist that actually the story is supposed to be just a dream which would make it acceptable. But the situation aggravates when a black teenager named Jimmy (Jake Sisko) is killed by the police (Dukat and Weyoun) and Benny is about to lose his job. Benny collapses, is taken to a hospital and wakes up as Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space 9.
It should have been clear that, in the end, Captain Benjamin Sisko would wake up on Deep Space 9, and everything he has experienced would have to be dismissed as a dream. Still, "Far Beyond the Stars" is an unexpectedly thrilling episode. It matters what happens to Benny Russell in New York in 1953 and it makes sense; it is much more than just a hollow hallucination. This is why I am glad that Sisko's experience is not explained in the usual bland fashion, as yet another vision induced by the Prophets or a neural parasite, or as yet another time travel. There is only one hint at what is wrong with Sisko when Bashir mentions that the captain's neural readings are similar to those from last year (in DS9: "Rapture"), just enough to fit it into the continuity of the series.
"Far Beyond the Stars" is walking a thin line because its events have no bearing on the "real world", i.e. on the 24th century. Stories out of the normal context are very rare in Star Trek, but there is one precedent and one successor. TNG: "The Inner Light" was enormously successful, but Picard's stay on Kataan still maintained close ties to the reality of the Enterprise-D, and it concluded with a perfectly rational explanation. VOY: "11:59" will be made with much the same recipe as DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars", but it will fail because of a dull plot and an awkwardly constructed background story. Well, although Benny Russell will show up once more in DS9: "Shadows and Symbols", I don't really see a relevance of his story in the context of DS9, except for successfully providing distraction from the usual path of the series. If a single episode takes place outside the setting of the series, it must either make sense again in a larger context, which it doesn't, or the story must be simply so good that it justifies the departure. And "Far Beyond the Stars" is a great story. It skillfully makes use of established characters, although or just because all of them are actually out of character. It ironically comments on the setting of Star Trek as a fictional universe, in a way it has never been done before. It includes an enormous number of in-jokes that are simply fun to spot. Finally, while Star Trek is known for tackling various present-day issues (such as homophobia or environmental protection) in an encrypted fashion, "Far Beyond the Stars" takes the opportunity to show and to criticize racism the way it really existed and still exists in many places on our planet.
To do this story was a matter of personal importance for Avery Brooks, who also directed the episode. His performance as an actor is among the best I have seen in the whole series. The scene when Russell breaks down after learning that his story has been pulped is a definite highlight, and it comes out so much more credible than his previous collapse in "Rapture". Incorporating the actors of the alien characters without their usual make-up is a brilliant idea, and it even makes a lot of sense in Sisko's imaginary life. I also like seeing Cirroc Lofton and Michael Dorn in roles contrary to their usual characters.
- The characters in their new roles:
- Benjamin Sisko - Benny Russell (writer)
- Odo - Douglas Pabst (chief editor)
- Quark - Herbert Rossoff (writer)
- Kira Nerys - Kay Eaton (writer)
- Julian Bashir - Julius Eaton (writer)
- Miles O'Brien - Albert Macklin (writer)
- Jadzia Dax - Darlene Kursky (secretary)
- Martok - Roy Ritterhouse (illustrator)
- Kasidy Yates - Cassie (waitress)
- Jake Sisko - Jimmy (small-time criminal)
- Joseph Sisko - preacher
- Worf - Willie Hawkins (baseball player)
- Dukat - Burt Ryan (police officer)
- Weyoun - Kevin Mulkahey (police officer)
- Nog - news vendor
- Remarkable quotes:
- "If the world's not ready for a woman writer, imagine what would happen if it learned about a Negro with a typewriter. Run for the hills! It's the end of civilization!" (Herb aka Quark)
- "Oh! She's got a worm in her belly! Oh that's disgusting." (Darlene aka Jadzia, reading a page of Russell's manuscript)
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Your hero's a Negro captain. The head of a space station, for Christ's sake." - "What's wrong with that?" - "People won't accept it. It's not believable." - "And men from Mars are?" (Pabst aka Odo, Russell aka Sisko, Herb aka Quark)
- "Tell me please, who am I?" - "Don't you know?" - "Tell me!" - "You are the dreamer - and the dream." (Russell aka Ben Sisko and the preacher aka Joseph Sisko)
- Remarkable facts:
- Jimmy refers to his people with the ugly "N-word". It's the only time in Star Trek.
- The office of the Incredible Tales magazine is located in the Arthur Trill Building.
- Remarkable behind-the-scenes information: The episode makes extensive use of the New York Streets set.
Stardate 51474.2: A runabout with Dax, Bashir and O'Brien enters a subspace phenomenon to explore it, whereby the ship shrinks to a size of just ten centimeters. When the Jem'Hadar overpower the crew of the Defiant and seize the vessel, the crew of the runabout are left to their own; they exit the anomaly on a path that leaves the runabout at the size of a miniature. Aboard the Defiant the runabout remains undetected. This turns out be an advantage against the Jem'Hadar. Having arrived on the bridge, Dax beams Bashir and O'Brien into the control console where they restore the command functions for Sisko. Sisko implants a virus into the Defiant's system. With the help of the little ship and narcotic gas the rightful crew gains the upper hand.
Just for a change, "One Little Ship" is a DS9 episode in the tradition of TNG with its abundance of space phenomena. It is a fun story drawing on weird science, rather than on character development. Overall, the premise reminds me more than just a bit of TNG: "Rascals". Of course, the idea of a shrunk crew is as old as TAS: "The Terratin Incident". In spite of the rather ludicrous setting the story works. However, it is somewhat uneven because everything related to the characters on the runabout is cute (I was only waiting in vain for someone to say "Don't call me tiny"), while everything outside in the "big" world is dead serious.
Speaking of dead serious things, it is debatable whether the Jem'Hadar are the right choice to act as adversaries in this episode, because the comical elements are a bit out of place when the crew is dealing with their mortal enemies. On the other hand, we already have one occurrence of a bunch of jerks taking over a Starfleet ship, and I would never want that to happen again. I think "One Little Ship" just exploits the Jem'Hadar as the most obvious available enemies, without really being embedded into the Dominion War arc. Yet, it is remarkable that it adds the contrast of Alpha and of Gamma Jem'Hadar to the mix. Well, at the time the episode was made there may have been plans to flesh out this conflict, but I don't think it was a good idea in the first place. In retrospect, I'm inclined to say it was just a personal matter between the Alpha First and his Gamma Second that had no bearing on the rest of the Jem'Hadar. The discussions among the Jem'Hadar and with Sisko are a bit lengthy anyway; they take away a lot of the drive.
- Science watch: The runabout with Bashir, Dax and O'Brien shrinks on the subatomic level. That means that the air outside the runabout is not suited for breathing, because the molecules are larger than anything their hemoglobin could assimilate, as Bashir explains. They obviously don't drop any mass, yet they can move as if they were normal size. Also, their voices remain the same, which is not possible with a much smaller larynx. And while Odo and Quark are "worried" that Bashir and O'Brien might have wound up a little smaller in the end, I am rather concerned that in this case the runabout would need to be scrapped, because most replacement parts wouldn't fit any longer.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "This conduit is filthy, chief. Don't you ever clean in here?" - "All right, all right. Let's not badger the chief." - "Thank you." - "Sorry. It was very... small of me." (Bashir, Dax, O'Brien)
- "That chip behind you is carrying 20 microamps of electric current. That's not very much, but..." - "...it's enough to fry any synapse in my tiny body." (O'Brien and Bashir)
- Remarkable jokes:
- After their return, Jadzia asks Worf for the poem he has written about the mission. He seems to read from his PADD: "This is the story of a little ship, that took a little trip." When Jadzia understands that he has bantered with her, he smirks (his first and only time I recall).
- Odo teases Bashir and O'Brien that they may be "a couple of centimeters shorter" than when they left, and Quark agrees with him. When Bashir and O'Brien hurry to the infirmary, Quark and Odo chuckle (a rare if not one-time occurrence that they laugh together).
- Remarkable set: I just love how Bashir and O'Brien are working inside the computer, amongst towering isolinear chips and optical fibers thicker than fire hoses. It is like "Fantastic Voyage" with a new twist.
- Remarkable behind-the-scenes information: Technical advisor Andre Bormanis says about the science in this episode: "For years I'd been dreading the day the writers would decide to do some version of 'Fantastic Voyage'. I didn't know if whether I'd want to ask for a credit or a disclaimer on the episode." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Stardate not given: O'Brien is recruited by Starfleet Intelligence for an undercover mission on Farius Prime. On the planet he becomes friends with Bilby, a man working for the Orion Syndicate. The Syndicate has forged an alliance with the Dominion who expect the gangsters to assassinate the Klingon ambassador on Farius - in the hopes that it might end the alliance with the Federation. O'Brien foils the scheme by informing his contact, Chadwick. But he also warns Bilby that their plan is destined to fail and the Klingons would definitely kill them. Bilby, however, decides to proceed as planned. Knowing the Orion Syndicate, it is the only way for him to protect his family from the revenge of the Syndicate because of his mistake of falling for a disguised Starfleet officer.
Under somewhat different circumstances and with a slightly changed premise this would have made a great episode. But it comes at a wrong time and it is overall too fabricated. O'Brien is the chief engineer who keeps everything running on the Federation's perhaps most important space station while a war is raging, but he is assigned to a sideshow for several weeks. And this doesn't even include the extended special training that is vital to be able to survive a covert operation among gangsters. Moreover, if it were not for his skills as a tinker, I couldn't imagine anyone among the DS9 staff who would be less qualified for an undercover mission than the always straightforward O'Brien. It is such a poor twist that O'Brien later uncovers a previously unknown pact of the Dominion with the Orion Syndicate, thereby retroactively justifying his mission. Likewise, the many malfunctions on the station and Bashir's, Quark's and Worf's complaints during the chief's absence are contrived. Well, this procures some comic relief in an episode that is extraordinarily dark even by DS9 standards. And for what it's worth, the chaos gives a few of the other regular characters some lines in a story that is otherwise focused on O'Brien. Bashir says to Sisko that the malfunctions are "becoming ridiculous", and I was just thinking exactly the same when I first watched it.
Although O'Brien is arguably out of place on Farius Prime, it is an O'Brien story nonetheless. Colm Meaney does a great job keeping his character on track. In a situation when he could take a comfortable position and let things happen, O'Brien's conscience kicks in. Exactly that is the key point of the episode, and it may have been the motivation for the writer to pick O'Brien of all characters, the one who represents traditional values of family and friendship more than anyone else on the station. But just as Chadwick, O'Brien's Starfleet Intelligence contact on Farius Prime, we have to wonder if the good chief is not suffering from some variant of the Stockholm Syndrome. As already mentioned, he is not really able to dissimulate, and this jeopardizes the whole mission as Chadwick appears to have anticipated. O'Brien really befriends Bilby under circumstances that would have required pretense. And this doesn't even change when Bilby ruthlessly murders the guy who sold him defunct disruptors and who is willing to refund the price.
Bilby, excellently portrayed by Nick Tate, continues the tradition of anachronistic characters on DS9. He is not a typical villain as Hagath in DS9: "Business as Usual" though, because he has a sense of duty and of loyalty. But this, and the care for his family, can redeem Bilby only as a TV character; it does not change anything about his guilt and about the inevitability of his sacrifice for a greater good. The latter is a bit of a déjà-vu, as something similar happened in "Rocks and Shoals". While I fully understand that O'Brien does not want Bilby or anyone else to be condemned to death, he should not have befriended that guy in the first place. Moreover, when O'Brien warns Bilby, how can he be so sure that his friend wouldn't kill him just like he did with the arms dealer? How can he know that Bilby would blame himself for his trust in "Connelly", rather than punishing the chief for treason, the way it is customary in the Syndicate?
Finally, it is a letdown that O'Brien's family is not present in this episode. I would have deemed it important to show that someone is worried about him, as well as to wrap up his experience on Farius Prime. At least he is talking to his friend Bashir in the end.
- Nitpicking: The Starfleet officer who is supposedly working for the Orion Syndicate "was in charge of the weather control system on Risa about a year ago." That was roughly the time when Worf sabotaged exactly the same system on the same planet. Why does the episode fabricate such an unlikely coincidence? The traitor could have been doing any other job on any other planet.
- Remarkable quote: "I should've known. You're too good to be true. I wanted so much to believe that my luck had changed. I didn't see it. I didn't see." (Bilby)
- Remarkable scenery: Farius Prime is shown as a heavily industrialized and unusually dirty and uninviting place.
- Remarkable fact: Bilby mentions that his family lives on New Sydney, which will be featured in the sequel "Prodigal Daughter" in season 7.
Stardate 51597.2: Worf and Jadzia receive a transmission from Lasaran, a Cardassian agent who is about to defect and who has crucial information about the Founders in the Alpha Quadrant. Lasaran expects Worf and Jadzia to meet him on the planet Soukara from where he can't simply be beamed off. In the jungle of Soukara, however, the two run into a Jem'Hadar patrol, and Jadzia is seriously wounded with an anti-coagulant. With a bleeding that can't be stopped, the only hope for her is to be taken to a sickbay very soon. Worf, who was already on the way to retrieve Lasaran, returns to Dax. While his wife recovers, Lasaran is killed. Sisko tells Worf that, as a husband, he would have done just the same. But as a Starfleet officer Worf has made an utterly wrong decision which will be a stain on his record.
Worf is facing an ethical dilemma of the worst kind. Should he save his injured wife Jadzia, or rather help the Cardassian escape, along with crucial information on the enemies? Worf eventually decides in Jadzia's favor. We can't blame him; maybe most human beings would have done the same in his place, as Sisko has to concede. As tough as the situation is, there is not really a big deal about Worf's decision. And it wouldn't have required his blurb about the "First Klingon Hearts" to sanctify it. Overall, despite the emotional impact this is a rather unremarkable episode. On the bright side, although Worf's and Jadzia's frequent bickering may seem a tad too much, I like how their relationship is presented here. It is the first time that I can imagine how the two get along despite their disparity. It is because they keep up their mutual respect and admiration (well, and sexual attraction), which becomes clear when Worf is watching in awe how Jadzia plays tongo, a game he apparently doesn't even understand.
I don't care at all for the light-hearted B-plot. It is just too immature how O'Brien pushes himself to beat Quark in tongo and how he recruits his friend Bashir to pay back the Ferengi. It becomes ludicrous when Julian allows himself to be distracted and frustrated by Quark's talking about Jadzia, whereupon he loses the game. Shouldn't the doctor have got over his crush a long time ago? And while Bashir shouldn't whine about an allegedly missed opportunity in the first place, Alexander Siddig's overacting in this scene lets him appear like a school boy.
- Nitpicking: The flight through the asteroid field is unrealistic the way it is depicted, or it would have been too risky in the first place. Rather sooner than later some asteroids would have crossed the flight path in a way that a collision would have been unavoidable.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "I would rather lose a bet on you than win on someone else." (Worf, to Jadzia, after losing a wager on the outcome of her tongo game to O'Brien)
- "I have a sense of humor! On the Enterprise I was considered to be quite amusing." (Worf)
- "She certainly did the unexpected when she married Commander Boring." (Quark, about Jadzia and Worf)
- "Genetically engineered or not - you're still hew-mon." (O'Brien to Bashir, after losing to Quark)
Stardate not given: On the 60th birthday of her late mother, Kira Meru, Major Kira Nerys receives a message from Gul Dukat. He claims that Kira Meru has been his lover for many years. Kira Nerys opens the Orb of Time and finds herself back on Bajor, many years ago, where she claims that her name is "Luma Rahl". She and Kira Meru are selected to act as "comfort women" for the Cardassian occupation forces, and are taken to Terok Nor. Kira Meru, who only knows the poverty of the refugee camp, is overwhelmed and soon learns to appreciate the luxury as well as being Gul Dukat's mistress. Disgusted about her mother's conduct, Kira Nerys joins an underground movement and plants a bomb in Dukat's and Meru's quarters. But when she recognizes that her mother still cares a lot for her family and even saves their lives by staying with the Cardassians, she warns Meru and Dukat just before the explosion.
This is one of the emotionally strongest installments of all of DS9. I am touched by the unusual variant of a mother-daughter conflict, and surprised that the writers dared not to get it resolved in a convenient fashion. Actually, the controversy is getting deeper all through the episode. Her mother Kira Meru is not at all the hero that Nerys expected her to be, and not at all like Nerys herself. When they are taken to Terok Nor by force, Meru does not react defiantly. She enjoys the fresh food in her quarters, something she hasn't had in years. She yields to Gul Dukat's superiority when Nerys would have chosen to fight him to death. Nerys ultimately only spares Meru's life because she is her mother. Other than that, she is not willing to pardon anything Meru did or failed to do.
I like the episode, although there are various reasons to upbraid it. To start with, the premise is anything but new. Crew members were already transferred to the dark times of Terok Nor in DS9: "Necessary Evil" and "Things Past", each time revealing a secret. The time travel aspects are of little interest this time because the Prophets grant Kira their guidance. We may have hoped for Kira's visit to the past to provide a missing link to an ongoing arc or to retroactively clarify something. But the story is a letdown in so far it just confirms Dukat's outrageous allegation. And it adds another coincidental relationship between DS9 characters. Moreover, we know that Dukat has been at odds with Kira Nerys for years. He could have disclosed the terrible family secret any time. Why should he wait so long to torment Kira? The episode comes at the wrong time anyway. We may blame Dukat's insanity, but what he says about Sisko showing him the truth and he himself "helping" Kira in the same fashion makes no sense. It sounds like the writers included this as an awkward justification for Dukat contacting Kira right now. It would have been more plausible if Dukat had transmitted a subtle cue to Kira, and had only shown up later to enjoy his victory. But then it would have been less personal.
Another point of criticism is that, although not too much happens, the pace of the story is too rushed. Though this is necessary in order to cover several weeks of time in the course of which Kira Meru becomes accustomed to her new life and Kira Nerys grows to hate her mother, the two are hardly given opportunities to become acquainted in the first place. One thing that I dislike because it is rather contrived is that Nerys swiftly changes her mind when her mother is crying while viewing a message from her family. What has Nerys been thinking all the time? That her mother has become a monster who does not even remember her family?
- Continuity watch: It is problematic that Dukat has been on Terok Nor for so long a time.
- Remarkable dialogue: "You Bajoran women, you are all so bony." - "That's because you Cardassians eat all our food." - "You know, I could have you executed for that kind of insolence." - "And that's one of the reasons we hate you so much." (Cardassian officer and Nerys)
- Remarkable quote: "I only hope you won't condemn us all for the boorish behavior of one man." (Dukat gallantly to Meru, literally as the other officer has predicted to Nerys)
Stardate not given: Julian Bashir is interrogated by an officer named Sloan of the Internal Affairs department. Sloan questions Bashir's loyalty, and he surmises that the genetically enhanced doctor who was once kidnapped by the Dominion could work as a spy for them without even knowing. Bashir's support for his genetically engineered friends who proposed that the Federation surrender casts even more doubt on Bashir. Then Bashir is kidnapped by Weyoun who claims that he was indeed "broken" to work for the Dominion. However, Bashir unmasks everything that happened as a holodeck simulation. The real Sloan of the secret Section 31 was testing the doctor's aptitude as a secret agent. Back on Deep Space 9, Bashir makes clear to Sisko that he would never work for Section 31, but the curious captain advises him to accept if Sloan should return.
This episode begins a bit like the courtroom drama in TNG: "The Measure of a Man" or in DS9: "Dax". However, it gradually becomes a mystery show such as TNG: "Future Imperfect" or TNG: "Frame of Mind", and I am undecided which part I like better.
In Act I Sloan is still kind to Bashir, but in a rather patronizing fashion. It is something that I would hate. But Bashir doesn't worry too much, or he is vain enough to believe that Sloan only refers to his experiences with the Dominion in DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow" and to his work with the genetically enhanced people out of personal curiosity. In Act II Sloan begins to dredge up incidents in Bashir's past that might cast doubt on the doctor's loyalty. Julian's objectionable decision to support the Federation's surrender in DS9: "Statistical Probabilities" is clearly a stain on his record. However, would a real spy act like that and raise so much suspicion? And while Bashir lied about his genetic enhancements, how could this be correlated with him being a Dominion spy? As Sisko correctly notes, Sloan uses circular logic to make his point. But we need to wonder why even Sisko, talking to Bashir in private, considers the possibility that the doctor might indeed unwittingly work for the Dominion. This is a cue that something may be wrong with the circumstances.
Act III comes with a real shock. Bashir finds himself on a Dominion ship with Weyoun, who welcomes him back. The story remains credible even at this point because it skillfully combines Bashir's previous Dominion experience and his temporary eagerness to surrender to the Dominion. There is that certain shadow of a doubt that Bashir may be covertly working for the Dominion to minimize the loss of lives. Later, in Act IV Bashir resorts to the conclusion that Weyoun and Sloan must be working together. Although he has to admit that it is ridiculous, it is the only thing that still makes sense in his situation. It becomes clear that something must be very wrong when Kira and Worf free Bashir from the Dominion ship too easily. Now Sisko and pretty much everyone else doubts his loyalty. In Act V Bashir recognizes the inconsistencies of the scenario and winds up on the holodeck. At this time the outcome is rather disappointing because it was predictable, but the episode is not over yet. The actual resolution is that Sloan made everything up just to recruit Dr. Bashir for Section 31. This is not an entirely convincing but a satisfactory ending, and one that leaves many possibilities for the future.
On a funny side note, Sloan finds it hard to believe that Bashir escaped using equipment from the prison to contact the runabout and beam out. This is a tongue-in-cheek comment on Star Trek's fondness of makeshift technology that works against all odds.
- Remarkable fact: Engrammatic dissociation is an ability of very intelligent individuals to process contradictory information in their minds. At least this is what Sloan claims, he may have made it up.
- Remarkable dialogue: "You're up late." - "Ah. Yes. I've got a few things to finish up before I leave in the morning, I'm presenting a paper at a medical conference." - "I see. Where is it? Risa? Casperia Prime?" - "Casperia. How'd you guess?" - "Well, doctors always hold their conferences at sunny resorts." - "It's a grim profession. Don't you think we need a break from all the illness and death?" - "Hmm. But don't forget to take plenty of sunscreen." (Odo and Bashir)
- Remarkable fact: Section 31 was part of the original Federation Charter, over 200 years ago.
Stardate 51721.3: Sisko decides that it is time to gain a new ally against the Dominion: the Romulans. Garak suggests to fabricate evidence that the Dominion were planning an attack on Romulus and to present it to the Romulan Senator Vreenak. The senator arrives, and Sisko takes him to a holosuite where they witness a meeting of Weyoun and Damar who discuss plans to invade Romulus. The fraud fails when, upon an examination of the data rod with the recording, Vreenak recognizes that it is faked and takes off with his shuttle. However, the shuttle explodes, killing Vreenak and destroying the evidence. Garak has placed a bomb on the shuttle, thereby getting the Romulans to declare war on the Dominion and leaving one Starfleet officer with a very bad conscience.
This is generally considered the darkest episode of all of Star Trek, as Garak commits an act of murder and Sisko backs him. Still, it is unlike some other episodes that I have tagged with "bad ethics", with "For the Uniform" being a more recent example. In "In the Pale Moonlight", the depiction of the events never comes out as hypocritical, the ethical failures are never played down and they don't give way to an unlikely happy ending. Garak and Sisko are two real people. Each of them is doing what he thinks needs to be done, with all the consequences.
The way the story unfolds is just as plausible. And it is distressing to watch how the situation becomes more pressing and more complicated, and how Sisko gets himself deeper into trouble every minute. It all begins with the captain being plagued by the sight of the daily casualty list. Among the lost ships is the Cairo that disappeared in the Romulan Neutral Zone, the skipper being Dax's Academy instructor. Sisko and Dax rehearse for the discussion with the Romulans who they want to join forces with the Federation against the Dominion. However, Sisko keeps Dax out and talks to Garak about procuring the evidence for the Dominion's possible plans to attack Romulus. Then the Dominion invades Betazed. Garak suggests to manufacture the evidence in the lack of real proof. He brings Rathon Tolar, a convicted criminal, into play to fake a data rod. Sisko bribes Quark after the Ferengi has been assaulted by Grathon Tolar. Sisko is hard on Tolar when he wants to leave after completing his work. Sisko does his best to deceive Vreenak, but the senator discovers the truth. Then Sisko hits his low point when he learns that Garak has killed Vreenak (and his company), as well as Tolar. He beats up the Cardassian. At latest at this point we may have expected justice to ensue and the truth to be revealed, the way it is customary in Star Trek, regardless of the further problems it could cause. But nothing like that happens. In a way, the viewer is left behind with a feeling of remorse remotely comparable to Sisko's. And that is the strongest impact of the story.
The way Sisko acts as a narrator is unusual, and has been done very rarely in Star Trek, one other example being Beverly in TNG: "Suspicions". The narrative format may not have the vigor of a live story at times. But switching back to Vreenak's "It's a FAAAKE!" for just one moment and then forth to Sisko again is clearly more impressive than it would have been to see the enraged senator leave.
The bartering about Quark's compensation and about the biomimetic gel is among the few things that I dislike. It distracts from the real dilemma and should have been shortened or left out. Another point of criticism is that Sisko does not do anything to avoid unnecessary suspicion among his crew - particularly when he instructs Worf to let no one enter the landing area except for himself and Garak, who is not exactly known for his trustworthiness. Finally, there is a plot hole because Vreenak would have had all the time to inform his people of the forgery, or to record an according statement, in which case Garak's bomb would have been useless.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "If you want to guarantee that we obtain evidence of a Dominion plot to attack the Romulans, I suggest that we manufacture that evidence ourselves." (Garak)
- "People are dying out there, every day. Entire worlds are struggling for their freedom. And here I am still worrying about the finer points of morality." (Sisko)
- "It's a FAAAKE!" (Senator Vreenak)
- "And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have just saved the entire Alpha Quadrant, and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal... and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don't know about you, but I'd call that a bargain." (Garak)
- "Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it... Computer, erase that entire personal log." (Sisko)
- Remarkable ship: We finally get to see a Romulan shuttle.
Stardate not given: When Kira travels to Bajor to meet with Shakaar, the jealous Odo seeks advice in Dr. Bashir's new holosuite program set in a Las Vegas casino. The local singer called Vic Fontaine, an unusually sophisticated hologram, introduces Odo to some holographic women to gain practice, including a reproduction of Kira. But Odo can't ignore that they are unreal. When Kira returns, Vic invites her for dinner on the holodeck, and he invites Odo too, not telling him she is real. Odo is embarrassed when he learns the truth after treating Kira like a hologram. But when the two later have an argument on the promenade deck, Odo brings himself to kiss her.
Welcome to "Deep Space Nine - The Musical"! The contrast between "In the Pale Moonlight" and this episode couldn't be stronger. It may have been time for a light-hearted story in spite of the ongoing war. And what could possibly be more light-hearted than a visit to a Las Vegas show? As much as I tend to dislike whenever the crew engage in common activities (collective obsession with genealogy and with baseball being the worst examples), I can well imagine how everyone is taken with Vic's show. Even though Worf still prefers Klingon opera, he's a great entertainer and a great guy. While the creative staff of DS9 may have been hesitant to introduce a holographic character that would compete with Voyager's Doctor, Vic was the probably best addition of the final two seasons. And as a plot vehicle, the desire to seek recreation in his holosuite program where everything is (still) easy is not contrived at all.
So Kira and Odo finally come together, and the matchmaker is a hologram. This alone isn't too far-fetched considering the popularity of online dating today. While his tips in matters of love are rather trivial, Vic's advice hits the mark concerning Odo's self-esteem. Well, at first I didn't like how Vic appears in Kira's program, inviting her in Odo's name, and how he deceives Odo, telling him she is not real. Well, this is very ironical considering that in "Heart of Stone" Odo kept talking to a fake, thinking it was the real Kira. However, a mix-up like this rather belongs into soap operas than to Star Trek. Fortunately it gets resolved quite quickly, as we could expect it from two adult people. Vic Fontaine may have wished for a happy ending in the holosuite, but the two share their first kiss in the real world, with everyone witnessing it. And so the episode closes with a melancholic cue that it is not Vic's world that counts after all.
- Remarkable dialogue: "The truth is she prefers Shakaar." - "Who?" - "The First Minister of Bajor. He's a leader, a hero, a man with great charisma." - "I don't care if he's JFK. It's not the other guy you have to worry about. It's you." (Odo and Vic)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "You've programmed her to find me irresistible. I could read her a criminal activities report, she'd think it was poetry." (Odo, about the Kira hologram)
- "Leave the program running for a few minutes after you leave. I feel like singing." (Vic)
- Remarkable scene: We can see Nana Visitor as "Lola" with the sexiest musical performance in the history of Star Trek.
Stardate not given: In the ancient city of B'hala on Bajor archeologists find a tablet addressing the Emissary. Looking at the tablet, Sisko has a vision of the Prophets who tell him that the "Reckoning" must begin. At Kai Winn's urging Sisko agrees to return the tablet. But suddenly he smashes it on the floor, releasing a strange form of energy. On the promenade deck a Prophet appears in the body of Major Kira. Even though Sisko is shocked that his son Jake hosts the opponent, a Pah-wraith, he allows the battle to take place against the advice of his staff. It is Kai Winn, worried by the fact that her faith is not strong enough, who ends the Reckoning prematurely when she activates a chroniton emitter that was installed by the Starfleet crew.
"The Reckoning" continues the events from last season's "Rapture". Unfortunately the new episode is thematically and visually too much akin to "Rapture". Even the course of the plot is quite similar, with the exception of the different outcome. Before I saw the two episodes again after a few years, I confused them more than once. The discovery of the tablet is much like that of the city of B'hala, the investigation of the tablet mirrors Sisko's reconstruction of the spire of B'hala, Sisko once again collapses when he has a vision of the Prophets, and Jake and Kai Winn have one of their rare appearances of importance in either episode. Until the showdown, when the opponent, a Pah-wraith as established in "The Assignment", takes over Jake's body, nothing happens that we haven't already seen in one form or another.
It may be because of this lack of originality that "The Reckoning" seamlessly fits in the continuity of the series. B'hala, the Pah-wraiths, Kira's and Odo's new love and the Romulan involvement in the Dominion War are just the most obvious references made in the episode. Yet, not everything makes that much sense in the context of previous episodes.
Firstly, I wonder why everyone is so surprised when Sisko passes out and later claims that he had a vision. Much stranger things have happened. There is not really a point in scanning the tablet for residual energy, something that no one bothered to do lately after Prophet visions. Sisko of all people should have changed his mind about seeking scientific explanations for the "wormhole aliens". Yet, in the beginning he seems to be the dutiful and rational Starfleet officer again that he ceased to be in "Rapture" one year ago. Well, perhaps this was done to let Sisko's conversion to a fanatic proponent of the Bajoran religion, one who is willing to sacrifice his son, appear even more dramatic.
Secondly, why is Kai Winn so enraged about Sisko taking the tablet to the station? It may be a little power game, one in which she would not risk too much. But recently she has been rather supportive of the Emissary. It is quite possible that the two had a falling out in the meantime, but it should have been hinted at in some fashion.
Sisko has my sympathy when he gets angry, telling the Prophets that he is tired of the endless riddles. I can even understand him when he smashes the stone tablet, in a desperate attempt to provoke a response of the Prophets. As he has released the Pah-wraith and thereby enabled the Reckoning, Sisko has done either something very stupid, or he is only an instrument fulfilling the prophecy. Isn't the latter just a convenient excuse though? Anyway, this is one more step he takes towards totally embracing the Bajoran faith. And Sisko makes quite an odd leap of faith when he decides against all reason that the Reckoning must be fought out. "The Prophets will protect him [Jake]?" Huh? Jake is just going to destroy a Prophet who will probably kill Jake in self-defense! Again, this is either incredibly asinine, or Sisko is quite sure that it will turn out right against all odds. It is remarkable how consistently DS9 maintains the status of the Prophets as gods, even though their prophecies are often fulfilled in ways that no one would expect. This time the twist is that Sisko and Winn switch roles. It is her who ends the fight and saves Jake by flooding the promenade with chronitons (yet I wonder how she knows how to operate the controls and how to get access in the first place).
- Remarkable fact: The Prophet in Kira is represented by blue light, the Pah-wraith in Jake by red light. It somehow reminds me of the light saber colors of good and evil, respectively, in another sci-fi franchise.
Stardate not given: Jake and Nog are traveling to Ferenginar when a Jem'Hadar ship attacks. They are beamed out from the shuttle and find themselves on a Defiant-class vessel, the USS Valiant. The ship's regular staff has been killed, leaving a group of Red Squad cadets in charge, led by the provisional "Captain" Watters. While Nog is excited to work together with Red Squad, Jake has doubts about the irrational unconditional team spirit on the Valiant. When Watters orders an assault on a vastly superior Dominion battleship prototype, Jake is put into the brig. The Dominion vessel suffers only superficial damage, whereas the Valiant is crippled and destroyed. Only Jake, Nog and "Chief" Collins survive the debacle in an escape pod, and are picked up by the Defiant.
I have always been opposed to esprit de corps. In my view it has something of Orwellian "doublethink": You know that you are doing the wrong thing, but as long as your leader keeps telling you it's right, you are happy with this contradiction, you don't even notice it. Well, I understand that unconditional subordination is a necessary evil in times of war. But that shouldn't go as far as blindly following orders that are obviously wrong. Or obeying an overambitious leader who oversteps his own authority. Much less if his inexperience puts his crew into a suicide mission. Any commanding officer has a responsibility for his crew.
Cadet Watters, however, is neither an actual officer, nor does he really care about the welfare of his people, nor does he have any authorization for his personal mission. Nog should recognize that already after his first briefing with Watters, when the "captain" tells him of his "mission" to track down the new Jem'Hadar battleship. But the ensign is too much blinded by the prospect of becoming the chief engineer of the vessel - and a bearer of the Red Squad emblem (the elite cadets he admired in "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost"). Nog doesn't look good in this episode, and in my view he can't simply excuse his failure to stop Watters with just obeying orders. He could do *something*, but his full support and his heart is with the mission.
Jake's moral position, on the other hand, is rather comfortable. His role is that of a pessimist and perhaps a dedicated pacifist as well. He is naturally opposed to anything that would not lead the Valiant back to the Federation on a direct course. With Karen Ferris bluntly telling him that distraction of the crew is not tolerated when Jake was just talking to Dorian Collins, he has even more reason to believe that this is all wrong. Ferris only has a point when she wants Jake to get off the bridge during red alert.
More on a side note, Jake Sisko says that his father would never expose his crew to such an incalculable risk. But Ben Sisko is not really known for his caution, and Jake is talking of the man who was ready to sacrifice him just one episode ago. I find that quite ironical, although we can't really expect it to have a bearing here.
This episode is certainly quite disillusioning, and everything but a disastrous defeat of the Valiant would have relayed a wrong message. Still I was hoping for the mission to succeed when I first watched it. Clearly the cadets are fighting for the right cause, regarding the greater good. But I think it was important to demonstrate that you don't win the fight just because everyone is committed to victory.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "I don't even know who you are anymore." - "I'm the chief engineer of the Starship Valiant." - "I have them put that on your tombstone." (Jake and Nog)
- "Captain Watters was a great man." - "Dorian... he got everyone killed." - "If he failed, it's because we failed him." (Jake and Dorian)
- Remarkable quote: "We're Red Squad, and we can do anything!" (Captain Watters)
- Remarkable ship: the Dominion battleship
- Remarkable fact: The briefing with "We found a flaw." and the way how the tiny Valiant approaches the target on the huge battleship is reminiscent of "Star Wars: A New Hope".
Stardate not given: Zek has been disposed of his position as Grand Nagus because of his relationship with and support for the feminist Ishka, Quark's and Rom's mother. Brunt is now the acting Grand Nagus, and will permanently take this position unless Zek gets support from the commissioners of the FCA within three days. Ishka is ready to meet with "Slug-o-Cola" manufacturer Nilva, but during an argument with Quark she suffers a heart attack. It is now up to Quark to play the role of a Ferengi female to convince Nilva of the feminist idea, for which purpose he is altered using a hormone treatment. When Brunt blows the whistle on the ruse, Quark can prove, thanks to the hormones, that he is a real female. Nilva promises to support Ishka and Zek.
This is one of very few Trek episodes that I saw just once thus far. And only in the course of my continuing DS9 reviews I bothered to watch it a second time. So I sat down with a bottle of beer to make it more endurable, ready to vent about the idiocy of the story and on how much I loathe cross-dressing comedies. But as I watched again, I found it rather uninteresting than cringeworthy. It is a big bummer, but not detrimental to or symptomatic of DS9, so there isn't much to write about it.
The episode starts with Quark talking to a dabo girl, whom he expects to be "nice" to him. This is nothing but a broad hint that Quark is still an inveterate macho. For a brief moment there is hope that the episode could wind up as a serious piece, as contact with Ferenginar is lost. But this hope is quickly disappointed when Zek and Ishka appear, revealing the news that the banana republic of Ferenginar is once again in trouble, and that it's once again in the hands of Quark's family to save it. But the contrast between last season's "Ferengi Love Songs" and this farce couldn't be bigger. The only profound dialogue in "Profit and Lace" is the argument between Quark and his moogie, after which Ishka collapses. Unfortunately with her forced inactivity the episode loses its only good character. While Quark and the other Ferengi appear like caricatures, the regular cast is discreetly absent, although the whole episode takes place on the station.
The remainder is so burlesque that it defies a serious examination. The idea to have Quark pose as a woman named "Lumba" is already stupid enough. But why does Quark have to wear high heels that he can't walk with, and why does Dr. Bashir go as far as treating him with hormones, while he doesn't do anything about the pitch of his voice? What happened to medical ethics anyway? In the end Quark resumes his talk with the dabo girl, and it looks like he has changed in the wake of the hormone treatment and his other experiences as a woman when he raises her wage. But the reset button is hit as he quickly reconsiders his attitude in the final few seconds. The only lasting impact of the episode is that it has ultimately overstressed the Ferengi theme. It is the last episode of DS9 with the focus on their culture.
- Remarkable quote: "Moogie and I argue all the time, it's our way of showing affection." (Quark)
- Remarkable slogan: "Slug-o-Cola - the slimiest cola in the galaxy"
- Remarkable character: Brunt is accompanied by a servant called Uri'lash, of the same race as Zek's Maihar'du. The two don't talk, but we can see how they clash nonetheless.
Stardate not given: During a picnic on an alien planet, eight-year-old Molly O'Brien falls into a time portal and finds herself 300 years in the future. The crew manages to retrieve Molly from the portal, but the calculations are off by ten years. The Molly that returns has spent a whole decade alone on the planet. The O'Briens prepare a special room with a tree and a holodeck simulation for their savage daughter, but when she injures a guest of Quark's bar, Federation officials decide that she better be taken to a care center. Unwilling to give their daughter away and worried about her welfare, the O'Briens make a hard decision: They return Molly to where she came from, 300 years into the future on the alien planet. When 18-year-old Molly arrives there, she encounters her sad young counterpart and sends her back through the portal.
I cherish whenever DS9 comes up with a TNG-like scientific mystery instead of the generic political intrigue or war as an episode premise. And still "Time's Orphan" is a typical DS9 story because it draws on well-established character relationships, rather than focusing on technical details. It is nice to see Chief O'Brien's family again, although this foreshadows that something unsettling is going to happen to them.
The return of the 18-year-old Molly from the portal gives the old time travel idea a new twist. But overall, the episode is more about psychology than about physics and technology. It clearly reminds me of the classic "L'enfant sauvage" by François Truffaut. But even more than that, the motive of giving an "ill-bred" child away evokes unpleasant memories of TNG: "Suddenly Human". I don't contest that there may have been reasons to leave Jono with the Talarians, just as Molly may have been happier on Golana than with her family. But in both cases the circumstances are contrived, with Jono stabbing Picard and Molly attacking the Tarkalean (or Markalian?) to ultimately "prove" that they don't belong to their real families. This is why I am glad that the outcome is different and better than Miles and Keiko would have hoped for. Young Molly has a right to grow up with her family, to learn and not to be concerned about her survival every day. I don't have much of a problem with the "wild" Molly vanishing. She does what time travelers have been attempting all the time in science fiction, to retroactively correct their own lives, only unwittingly here. Still it is sad to see her go. It almost brought a tear to my eyes.
Aside from Molly's amok run, nothing really bad happens in this episode. Still the overall mood is depressing. Molly is self-destructive, Keiko and O'Brien must concede that the love for her daughter is not enough to save her, Worf is sorry for being a bad foster father for Kirayoshi (at least that is what he believes). Although it is the last time we get insight into their relationship, I am not so fond of the portrayal of Jadzia's and Worf's petty problems though, which appear almost on par with the O'Briens' dilemma. This may be partly the fault of the director and of Colm Meaney and Rosalind Chao, whose performances do not entirely convince me.
- Remarkable quote: "I'm going to be an exobologist!" (Little Molly)
- Remarkable scene: Miles shows Julian a drawing of trees with faces by 18-year-old Molly, which the doctor identifies as "anthropomorphic". When little Molly is back, she draws something very similar and presents it to her parents.
- Remarkable fact: The O'Briens' cat, Chester, was given to Miles by Liam Bilby in "Honor Among Thieves".
Stardate not given: The Defiant picks up a distress call by the marooned Captain Lisa Cusak whose ship has crashed on a remote Class-L planet. A regular communication is established, and the stranded captain becomes friends with many of the crew. The Defiant arrives at the planet just before the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere becomes lethal for Cusak. However, the planet is surrounded by an energy barrier that does not permit beaming. Sisko, O'Brien and Bashir take a bumpy shuttle ride down to the surface - only to find that Lisa Cusak has died three years ago. Obviously the energy barrier caused a time shift in the subspace signals.
The emotional impact of the episode has grown on me, and how it is created just by a voice coming from the comm system. I also like how Lisa Cusak gradually builds some kind of relationship with more than one contact person on the Defiant, namely with O'Brien, Sisko and Bashir. In the face of the million deaths in the Dominion War the sudden change of focus on just a single fate of someone never seen before may seem disproportionate. I found it fitting nonetheless, and I think that human beings will always care for the needs of the few as well as for the needs of the many.
Nevertheless this episode is a disappointment for several reasons. First of all, while it is not a necessity to anticipate the season finale in the second-to-last episode, some more excitement would have served "The Sound of Her Voice" well. To put it simply, it is boring for much of the time. Secondly, the authors may have recognized this shortcoming and have tried hard to incorporate some kind of twist. With the revelation of the time differential, however, the episode comes out as a diet version of "Children of Time", and is also reminiscent of Voyager's "Eye of the Needle". In the end, it doesn't matter that much anyway whether the Defiant was three days or three years late. Thirdly, the B-plot merely acts as a blatantly mindless filler. I find Quark's and Jake's quickly forged common business misplaced and unlikely. Fourthly, while Kasidy Yates's position as a convoy liaison officer nicely justifies her presence, she is in no way involved in the story, or only through Sisko talking about her to Lisa Cusak. I find that kind of sad. Finally, Terry Farrell requested a few days off before leaving the series for good, and so Jadzia has been written off the episode in a too radical fashion. She appears only in the very end instead of being on the Defiant to help penetrate the temporal field.
- Remarkable quote: "Without a back on the stool, Morn could tumble from his perch at any moment, shattering his upper vertebrae or puncturing three or four of his lungs." (Odo, questioning the safety of Quark's bar stools. Morn is patiently enduring the argument, even when Quark makes his stool spin.)
- Remarkable foreshadowing: Miles O'Brien is holding a speech at Lisa's coffin, saying "One day we may wake up and discover that someone's missing from this circle." The camera immediately cuts to Jadzia, who would be killed in the following episode.
- Remarkable shuttle: Only in this one episode the Defiant has a fully-fledged shuttlecraft and an accordingly big shuttlebay.
Stardate not given: The Federation Alliance decides to launch a major offensive against the Dominion and to invade Cardassian space, beginning with the Chin'toka system. Sisko receives a warning from the Prophets to stay on the station, but he decides in favor of his duty as a Starfleet officer. He puts Dax in charge of Deep Space 9. The Chin'toka system is protected by a series of orbital weapon platforms which become active amidst the battle. The Alliance gains the upper hand when the weapon platforms can be tricked in firing on their own power generator. Meanwhile on the station, Dukat, now possessed by a Pah-wraith, appears in the Bajoran shrine where he disables the Orb and lethally injures Jadzia Dax. Dr. Bashir can save the Dax symbiont, but not the Jadzia host. The Bajoran wormhole closes, and all Orbs go dark, indicating that the Prophets have left Bajor. Sisko is shattered and takes an indefinite leave, returning to New Orleans on Earth.
I need to take a deep breath after every time I watch this season finale again. "Tears of the Prophets" does a lot more than just bring back the excitement and kill off Jadzia. The episode has such an impact because it packs loads of action into just 45 minutes. It is written and directed in a straightforward fashion, and tension builds up steadily until the culmination. Instead of embellishments the story comes with a good deal of symbolism. I notice a dualism in many of the events. Most notably, the conquest of Chin'toka is counteracted by Jadzia's death and the closure of the wormhole. Furthermore, like already during the occupation of Deep Space 9, we get to see the events from two different perspectives, of the Alliance and of the Dominion. It pays more than ever that the enemy in this war is not just an anonymous army of mindless minions.
One thing that I'm particularly fond of, speaking of dualism, is how two very different attitudes toward religion are put forward. Weyoun ridicules the Bajoran faith as superstition, but he himself insists on the Founders being gods. Jadzia, on the other hand, does not really believe in the divinity of the Prophets, but she honors them out of respect for her friend Kira and because it might help after all. Much of the story is about faith anyway. It seems that everyone has made a decision to believe or not believe in something. Everyone anticipates that something is going to happen besides the battle of Chin'toka, and this is palpable throughout the episode (with the key events taking place in the final 20 minutes).
The only thing thing that I dislike is Quark's and Julian's lovesickness when Jadzia announces that she and Worf are going to have a baby. Come on guys! How old do you say you are? The last time they suddenly rediscovered their love for Jadzia was in "Change of Heart", and it doesn't become any more credible by repeating it.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "I exist in a state of complete clarity. A clarity I intend to share with the universe." (Dukat)
- "Nice guys. But absolutely clueless." (Vic, about Julian and Quark)
- "Notice the primitive rage in his eye... the uncontrolled brutality. Klingons can be quite entertaining, don't you agree? I think every Romulan zoo should have a pair." (Romulan senator, about Martok)
- Remarkable dialogue: "Romulans don't believe in luck" - "All the better. Leaves more for the rest of us." (Romulan senator and Martok)
- Remarkable monologue: "When I first met you, you told me that my relationship with Jadzia Dax wouldn't be any different than the one I had with Curzon Dax. Things didn't work out that way. I had a hell of a lot of fun with both of you. But Curzon was my mentor. You - you were my friend. And I am going to miss you. I should have listened to the Prophets and not gone to Cardassia. Then maybe you'd still be alive. Dammit! Why aren't you still here, Jadzia? I need you to help me sort things out. Something's happened to the Prophets, something that's made them turn their backs on Bajor, and I'm responsible. But I don't know what to do about it. How to make it right again. I've failed as the Emissary, and for the first time in my life, I've failed in my duty as a Starfleet officer. I need time to think, clear my head. But I can't do it here. Not on the station. Not now. I need to get away. And find a way to figure out how to make things right again. I have to make things right again, Jadzia. I have to." (Sisko)
- Remarkable fact: Benjamin Sisko is awarded the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor.