Deep Space Nine (DS9) Season 2
The HomecomingThe CircleThe SiegeInvasive Procedures
Rules of AcquisitionNecessary EvilSecond SightSanctuaryRivalsThe Alternate
Armageddon GameWhispers ParadiseShadowplay Playing GodProfit and Loss
Blood OathThe Maquis I/IIThe WireCrossoverThe CollaboratorTribunalThe Jem'Hadar
Stardate not given: Quark shows Major Kira an earring, a cue that Li Nalas, the greatest hero of the Bajoran Resistance, may still be alive in a Cardassian prisoner camp. She and O'Brien actually find Li on a secret site on Cardassia IV. But they have to leave some of the other Bajoran prisoners behind. Gul Dukat surprisingly apologizes for the existence of the camp and promises that all detainees be released soon. Meanwhile on Deep Space 9, an extremist Bajoran group named "Alliance for Global Unity" or simply "The Circle" demands that all aliens leave Bajor. In order to help pacify his people, Li Nalas, whose role in the fight against Cardassia is vastly overrated, reluctantly accepts his new position as "navarch" and liaison officer on Deep Space 9, while Minister Jaro recalls Kira to Bajor.
I usually view two-part episodes as a whole and I often don't recall what exactly happened in the first and what in the second part. However, although "The Homecoming", "The Circle" and "The Siege", the three first episodes of season 2, are linked together just as closely, I don't want to pack as many as three episodes into just one review, so I keep them separate.
The review of "The Homecoming" is rather condensed because the setup of the trilogy takes a long time, and not very much is happening in its first part. When I watched it again after several years I was surprised how soon this episode was over and how obviously all excitement and conflict potential was being saved for the next two parts.
It is not a big surprise that Kira Nerys finds Li Nalas alive. Well, she could have run into a trap, but I am glad that for once everything turns out to be exactly what it seems. So the rescue of Li Nalas is comparably effortless. We've got a xenophobic Bajoran movement whose goal is to rid the planet of the aliens, but except for spraying a graffiti and prohibiting Jake's date with a Bajoran girl "The Circle" does not pose much of a threat yet. Rather on a side note, some people may comment on Jake being black and being the victim of racism here. But I think they would be reading too much into it, and for all we know his unseen date may be a black Bajoran girl (although in this case there may be even more racism in it).
We've also got an ambitious Bajoran minister who was apparently against Kira Nerys trying to rescue Li Nalas in the first place, but who is the first to publicly welcome back the "hero", just as hypocritically as many politicians are acting on our world in our time. As soon as there is something to celebrate, they will take the chance and present it as their own merit. I really like the depiction of Minister Jaro in this episode. He appears in only three scenes, but speaks with four voices, just as the situation requires it. You never know when he is telling the truth, and perhaps he himself doesn't know it either.
The first unexpected twist is that Li Nalas tries to escape from his role as a living legend when he hides on a transport to the Gamma Quadrant. He then confesses to Sisko, in the perhaps longest monologue of Trek's history so far (I'm not so sure about Kirk's speeches), that he is not the hero that everyone thinks he is, but that he just killed an unarmed Cardassian in his underwear. The truth about Li's role could be an issue, had Li Nalas been assigned as the commander-in-chief of the Bajoran armed forces. But as Sisko notes, the exact truth doesn't really matter. The commander is right at least regarding the current situation. Bajor may need a Li Nalas to unite the people. But what would happen in the long term? At some point someone on Bajor would find out that Li Nalas never led Bajoran troops in a major battle, and the good Li may be knocked off his pedestal even much faster than he was put up there. I can understand Li Nalas when he wants to escape. But I still wonder why he simply doesn't tell the people the whole truth, which could enable him to live a normal life. I mean, he was in the Bajoran Resistance. He did kill that Cardassian war criminal. He killed the man by chance, and everyone else could have done the same. Li Nalas could have shown the average Bajorans that he is one of them, and that they can achieve their goals by hard work, with dedication and with a bit of luck.
The second twist, that Kira is recalled to Bajor, does nothing more than prepare the ground for the following (and hopefully more exciting) episode, "The Circle".
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "How do I look?" - "As handsome as ever." - "Oh, really." (Quark and Kira)
- "But Bajor doesn't need a man. It needs a symbol, and that's what you are. No one's asking you to lead troops into battle, or to kill a hundred Cardassians with your bare hands. I saw you in front of the crowd on the Promenade. They look at you and they see strength, and honor, and decency. They look at you and they see the best in themselves." - "But it's all based on a lie." - "No. It's based on a legend. And legends are as powerful as any truth. Bajor still needs that legend. It needs you." (Sisko and Li Nalas)
- Remarkable quote: "My reputation even followed me into the labor camp where my mere presence seemed to inspire my fellow prisoners. And I had done nothing but shoot an unarmed Cardassian in his underwear." (Li Nalas)
- Rule of Acquisition #76: "Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies."
Stardate not given: Kira Nerys accepts Bareil's invitation to his monastery where she recognizes in an Orb vision that she has fallen in love with the vedek. When Odo, with the help of Quark, investigates weapon shipments from the Kressari to The Circle, he finds out that actually the Cardassians are responsible for the deal because they want to destabilize Bajor and take over the wormhole. On Bajor, Kira is anesthetized and kidnapped. When she wakes up, Minister Jaro reveals that he is the leader of The Circle. Sisko, Bashir and Li manage to free Kira and take her back to the station, while The Circle in the form of Jaro and Vedek Winn is preparing to seize power on Bajor and to attack the station - unbeknownst of the fact that everything is a Cardassian ploy.
After the initial discomposure about Kira being recalled to Bajor, "The Circle" quickly loses steam again. Everyone goes back to business as usual, and Kira herself is even out of business when she spends some time in Bareil's monastery. But this little break comes just at the right time. Most importantly it helps set up the love story of Kira and Bareil, beginning with the tumultuous chatter in her quarters (with Odo being the loudest speaker!) that immediately gives way to silence and serenity when Bareil enters the room. Everyone can see that Bareil has a very personal interest to invite Kira, and that Kira is more than glad to accept it. Then Kira has the Orb vision about Bareil and herself. But even when Bareil explicitly mentions that he saw her in his own vision, she still doesn't tell him what she experienced and lies to him. I can understand her just too well. She has "more important" things to worry about. She has just been removed from her position on the station, which meant a lot to her, by a sleazy politician, and replaced with Li Nalas, a man who came from out of nowhere and whom she had even rescued herself. Kira feels useless and helpless, and to her this is the worst possible time to fall in love.
Speaking of uselessness, Li Nalas may have an ever harder time. He has to stay on the station under the pretext that it would be safer for him, as Jaro insists. There he has no real chance to fulfill his position as the "navarch" that obviously doesn't come with any duties but to be a symbol, and so he tries hard to make himself useful on the station in different ways. I really don't envy him for that job.
Well, the Cardassian involvement into the emerging civil war on Bajor is rather predictable. Nonetheless it makes the whole situation more interesting, as it automatically involves the Federation stronger as if it were just an internal Bajoran affair. This all could wind up a tad too much like in TNG: "Redemption" though, especially since Sisko, just like Picard, receives orders not to intervene because of the Prime Directive, and seeks ways to circumvent them.
Minister Jaro's betrayal is a bit of a disappointment, because he was sneaky enough even before it becomes clear that he is the leader of The Circle and that he has forged an evil alliance with Vedek Winn. I really liked him better as the politician who always went with the flow, and who sought his personal benefit in riskless changes of his strategy, as it appeared to be in "The Homecoming". I liked him better as a politician who was worried about something like election results than as a Bajoran Nazi whose goal is to gain absolute power. In think he has become a two-dimensional villain by now.
- Remarkable quote: "Help? I can't even sneeze without three people handing me handkerchiefs." (Li Nalas)
- Remarkable shapeshifting: Odo morphs into a tiny rat (that weighs 80 kilograms?).
- Remarkable fact:
- In the monastery's stone garden Kira tells Bareil: "I have absolutely no artistic skills. I was the worst finger painter at the four year old level. My parents were humiliated." This is interesting and very good continuity, as in "Accession" it turns out that she belongs to the d'jarra (caste) of artists.
- Kira has a vision with the third Orb, the Orb of Prophecy and Change.
Stardate not given: Most denizens of Deep Space 9 leave the station in a hurry in order to escape the imminent attack of the Bajoran military. Soon Bajoran forces arrive to take over the station, unaware that Commander Sisko and a small team of Starfleet officers are still hiding there together with Li Nalas. Kira and Dax embark an old Bajoran fighter craft to get to Bajor, but they are shot down above the planet. They are found by a search team sent by Bareil and proceed to the Bajoran Chamber of Ministers. When Kira tells the ministers about the Cardassian involvement, everyone, including Winn, turns against the shattered Jaro. In the meantime on Deep Space 9, Sisko and his crew have managed to convince General Krim of the occupation forces to retreat. Only Colonel Day refuses to leave. When the fanatic officer aims his phaser at Sisko, Li Nalas leaps into the line of fire and is fatally injured.
Wow. The third part of the trilogy has all the excitement that I missed in the first two ones, and more. Finally it pays that so much tension was built up so slowly in the two previous parts. Sisko's speech to the Starfleet personnel at the beginning foreshadows that it would be a great episode. I really dig this man. He knows how to encourage people. He knows when it is time to bend the rules before they break him. It is also good that Jake and Nog appear in this episode. The two have to say good-bye to each other, as they will be evacuated on different runabouts. The same goes for Keiko and Miles O'Brien. Well, but I have a small gripe with it after having seen the whole series. It is clearly understandable that Keiko doesn't want her husband to stay behind, especially since it is his personal decision and not ordered so by Starfleet. But if it is such a big issue, wouldn't the two have the same discussion every time in the future, considering that Chief O'Brien will be going on dozens of extremely dangerous missions, and even suicide missions? I may be mistaken, but while they will have their share of problems, I don't remember the two having that kind of controversy in later episodes, provided that Keiko appears at all to say good-bye.
Something I appreciate very much, although it is essentially just comic relief, is the poetic justice when Quark sells non-existent tickets for the evacuation ("Overbooking is an accepted Ferengi transit practice."), only to be outsmarted by his brother Rom, who gives Quark's ticket to a dabo girl.
While I'm usually not a fan of excessive fighting, it was intelligently written and excellently directed. The narrative brims over with clever tricks of Kira and Dax in the raider and of Sisko and his people, who are hiding while Bajoran forces are boarding the station. And unlike it is in several other Star Trek installments, their opponents are not stupid either. Especially General Krim is a worthy opponent in every respect. He smells that something is wrong when he doesn't meet any resistance, he remains careful instead of celebrating a premature victory and, most importantly, he is a good loser.
However, the death of Li Nalas on the hands of a Bajoran colonel who is not willing to accept his defeat comes across as gratuitous. Like everything that Li Nalas has been doing or saying, or what people read into it, it carries way too much symbolic weight. Li Nalas never wanted to be hero. He would have preferred to be let off the hook. And so he dies, with the words "Off the hook, after all." on his lips, as if he found deliverance only in death. The character would have deserved to survive and to prove himself in real life. And quite unlike Sisko, in his position I would commemorate Li Nalas as a man who had doubts about everything he was doing. I think that anyone can be a hero and a role model without being or without being made larger than life.
Regarding the other guest characters, Jaro is surprisingly insignificant in this third part of the trilogy. He is clearly still pulling the strings, but we simply don't see much of it any longer. This is sort of disappointing. The end of his intrigue, as Kira and Dax present the evidence for the Cardassian involvement, is not overly spectacular anyway. But Jaro doesn't attempt to justify what he was doing, and we don't even learn what would become of him. We only see that Winn is ready to listen to Kira, thereby switches sides, and proves to be the better politician than Jaro.
- Nitpicking: Another moon with a breathable atmosphere after the one in "Progress", and with huge spiders ("The Bajoran moons are full of them."). Come on!
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Sisko to all units. You can thank Chief of Operations Miles O'Brien for your repast [emergency rations] this afternoon." - "You haven't made any friends, here, Chief. Or should I say, Chef?" - "Julian. I would have expected you of all people to appreciate the nutritional value of combat rations." - "Actually, when I was in med school, I designed an incredible candy bar which was far superior in food value." (Sisko, O'Brien, Bashir, as they are hiding in the service corridors)
- "Navigational sensors aren't functioning." - "No problem." - "No problem? Big problem. Without navigational sensors..." - "...we'll have to fly by the seat of our pants." - "Great. Seat of the pants technology." - "You Starfleet types are too dependent on gadgets and gizmos. You lose your natural instincts for survival." - "My natural instincts for survival told me not to climb aboard this thing. I'd say they were functioning pretty well." (Dax and Kira, in the Bajoran raider)
- "So what do you think?" - "Think?" - "The nose!" - "It's flattering." - "I'm thinking of keeping it." (Dax, with a new Bajoran nose, and Kira)
- Remarkable quote: "Where are you running to? This is Bajor. We are Bajorans. We fought a war to regain our homeland. How can you abandon it like frightened Cardassian vole? These ships are for our guests who must leave because it is no longer safe for them here. However, we are Bajorans. And I say that we stay and we solve our problems together. Are you willing to join me?" (Li Nalas, as he gets his first chance to help as a symbol)
- Rule of Acquisition #31:"Never make fun of a Ferengi's mother."
- Remarkable shapeshifting: Odo morphs into a wall and into a trip wire.
Stardate 47182.1: During a plasma storm Deep Space 9 is manned only with a skeleton crew, when a transport ship sends a distress call and requests to dock. The Trill Verad, a woman named Mareel and the two Klingon mercenaries T'Kar and Yeto come aboard the station. They pull weapons, confine Odo to a stasis box, injure O'Brien and take everyone else hostage. Verad's plan is to get hold of the Dax symbiont. Under the threat that otherwise everyone would be killed, but knowing that it will likely kill Jadzia once the symbiont is removed, Dr. Bashir performs the procedure. Ben Sisko attempts to convince his new "friend" Verad Dax and later Verad's lover Mareel (who is disappointed about his change) to return the Dax symbiont. In the meantime Quark and Bashir get rid of their Klingon guard dogs and free Odo. When Verad leaves in a hurry and a struggle between his aides and the crew ensues, Sisko takes a phaser and fires at Verad - allowing Bashir to return the Dax symbiont to Jadzia who now hosts a part of Verad's memories and personality.
The setup for this episode is rather contrived. Verad must have been planning the robbery for a long time, and he couldn't really hope for such a perfect opportunity to put his plan into action. He is more than lucky to be ready for it at a time when no one is on the station except for a handful of senior officers. And coincidentally this happens again only one week after "The Siege", when the station was evacuated before. Another déjà-vu is Verad's ship, which is the same as in TNG: "Starship Mine", when terrorists boarded the Enterprise under similar circumstances.
Overall, "Invasive Procedures" has a rather credible plot though, with good interaction between the characters and thoughtful dialogues. But considering that time is pressing to overpower Verad's gang and save Jadzia's life, the crew should rather act than endure their situation and try to talk the kidnappers out of their plan. I basically like Sisko's idea to convince Mareel and, after the transfer of the symbiont, also his "old friend" Verad Dax to give up their plan. When he is talking to Verad Dax just as if this new incarnation of Dax were still his friend, it quite obviously alienates his fellow officers. He himself knows what he is doing, but it is just too obvious that his effort to change Verad's mind would be fruitless. Sisko has way too much confidence in his power of persuasiveness, just as everyone else seems to believe in the power of words, rather than in fists and phasers. At one point, Sisko and his crewmates on the bridge are almost successful in overpowering the gangsters. They should have tried something like that much earlier. And Bashir should have attempted to disable Verad and the Klingon in the infirmary in some fashion. He needs Quark of all people to encourage him to finally do something against his watchdog! Most obviously Jadzia herself neither fights nor only protests against the removal of the Dax symbiont. As the Klingon Yeto says: "She let herself be slaughtered like a mindless t'gla. If she wanted to live, she should have fought back." Perhaps this is her way to deal with the situation with dignity, but I would have expected her of all the main characters to fight back in some fashion. Well, thinking about it after having seen the whole series, Jadzia was always rather passive in personal matters and wouldn't bother anyone with serious problems, whereas she would chat with everyone about any conceivable trivial things.
Verad is an unusual cautious villain who doesn't want anyone to be hurt (well, with the notable exception of Jadzia). If it wouldn't involve killing someone, his goal could even appear as moderate, as he doesn't crave power and money but "only" wants to belong to the "better" 10% of Trill humanoids, the ones who are joined with a symbiont. This creates a certain sympathy with his character. His stuttering adds to the impression; it implies he could have been bullied because of it. Anyway, all this certainly doesn't lessen his determination (as Sisko has to learn) and doesn't alleviate his guilt either. Mareel is somehow the exact opposite to Verad. She lacks a genuine determination but is ready to carry out their plan with violence if necessary. All because of love and gratefulness. Something that at least the newly joined Verad Dax neither returns nor really appreciates. I am glad that Sisko's attempts to convince her to give up are finally successful, although I still think that less talking and more cunning would have been better for the episode.
- Continuity: In TNG: "The Host" it was not a big problem to transplant Trill symbionts back and forth, even into the human host body of Riker. In DS9 the removal of the symbiont kills the host, once it has been fully integrated. Also, in the TNG episode the symbiont looked considerably different than the "worm" in DS9. And as already shown in DS9: "Dax", the DS9 joined Trill is always a combination of the symbiont, the current and all previous hosts, not just the symbiont in an otherwise passive host body.
- Remarkable shapeshifting: Odo morphs into a tool cart.
- Remarkable facts:
- O'Brien has two brothers.
- Only one in ten Trills is joined with a symbiont.
- Remarkable tip-of-the-hat: Sisko and Dax once took a trip to the Cliffs of Bole, a reference to Trek director Cliff Bole (for whom the Bolians were named already).
- Remarkable appearance: The Klingon T'Kar is portrayed by Tim Russ, who would later play Tuvok.
Stardate 47177.2: Garak makes the unpleasant acquaintance of Rugal, a Cardassian boy who has been raised by Bajorans and who now hates his own race. Gul Dukat insists to investigate the case, but Garak gives Dr. Bashir a cue that the boy, like other Cardassian orphans, was left behind on Bajor on Dukat's orders. Dukat later reveals that the boy is the son of Pa'Dar, an influential politician on Cardassia. Bashir and Garak take a shuttle to the orphanage on Bajor where any record about Rugal is missing. It transpires that Dukat deliberately separated the boy from his father and erased the evidence in the hopes of humiliating his political opponent. Sisko decides that, although the Bajoran foster father named Proka loves Rugal as if he were his own child, the boy should be returned to Pa'Dar.
This episode appears to be much like a sequel to DS9: "Duet". In both episodes we see peculiar ways of dealing with the Cardassian guilt of the cruelties during the occupation of Bajor. But the two approaches and the circumstances which brought them forth couldn't be more different. In "Duet" we had the Cardassian Marritza, who witnessed the crimes committed by his people first-hand or was at least aware of them. He came to the conclusion that only through a self-sacrifice he could earn redemption for himself and for his people. He kept looking at everything from a Cardassian perspective, one that at least he himself labeled as patriotic. Here we have Rugal, a boy who was abducted and taken to a Bajoran orphanage. Rugal learned about the Cardassian occupation from an extremely biased purely Bajoran viewpoint, he never had the chance of making up his mind owing to his young age. And so he came to hate his own people, and essentially everything that he is himself.
The fate of Rugal bears a certain resemblance to TNG: "Suddenly Human", in which the young Jeremiah was kidnapped and raised in the spirit of the enemy in a similar fashion. Both boys have been harmed by their respective foster fathers in some fashion and still love them. Both have accepted the ways of their respective new cultures as the only rightful ones, obviously because they don't know anything else. The DS9 episode leaves out the child abuse part and replaces it with something that has to be called "brainwashing". Rugal is just as much a victim as Jeremiah. As much as the Bajoran father Proka and his wife may love Rugal, everything they ever taught their adoptive son about the Cardassians was that they are cruel conquerors. Proka has nothing but contempt for the Cardassians, he must have shown it at every opportunity, and his racism would naturally include Rugal. In a nutshell, Proka has given the boy the impression that he generously "overlooks" that Rugal, as a Cardassian, is a monster. He has effectively educated Rugal to hate himself. We can only imagine what Rugal's experiences with Bajoran children could have been like, assuming that they wouldn't restrain themselves from spouting insults the way adults may do.
Perhaps even worse, Gul Dukat may be right with his suspicion that Mr. and Mrs. Proka may have adopted and indoctrinated Rugal to take revenge on the Cardassians. Because what could be more humiliating to the proud race than a Cardassian boy who hates his own kind and prefers the Bajoran ways? The Prokas' main motivation may have been to give the boy a new loving home, but I am sure they gladly accepted their little triumph over the Cardassians as a pleasant side effect.
Episodes with Cardassians and particularly those dealing with the occupation of Bajor almost routinely have a racist undertone. This time the racism is just too obvious, considering that Rugal is a Cardassian who hates his own race - because he is a victim of racism. Still, the whole issue of racism is treated with unusual decency in "Cardassians" - too much decency as I think. I like how the Cardassian Pa'Dar first listens to O'Brien's advice and then tries to appeal to what little Cardassian is left in his son with great patience. The two contenders, Pa'Dar and Proka, don't talk to one another as far I can remember. But there should have been much more aggression between them, considering that the result of Rugal's Bajoran education must have infuriated Pa'Dar, and that Proka hates every Cardassian and especially the one who, in his opinion, left behind a helpless little boy. It is not realistic how quickly and considerately the two agree to an arbiter in the person of Sisko. I would have expected to see much more of a conflict.
Well, speaking of a conflict, the whole dilemma boils down to be a purely Cardassian affair, as it is revealed that Dukat abducted the son of Pa'Dar in the first place to ruin his rival's career some day. This establishes Gul Dukat as a person who produces compromising facts years before they can be useful for him, an odd "talent" that would be harked back to a few more times in the series. But while this is a nice twist that distinguishes the episode, for instance from TNG: "Suddenly Human", it also lessens the significance of the Cardassian-Bajoran conflict over the boy's future. Just as effortlessly as Sisko could get the two parties to agree to him as an arbiter, his final log entry almost casually mentions that the boy would be returned to his true father on Cardassia. I don't like this rushed ending, but at least the episode in some fashion corrects the huge mistake that Picard made when he gave Jeremiah/Jono back to his violent foster father. I think Rugal needs to get to know the other side of the medal. It is a chance for him, much rather than an unpleasant duty. It is only sad that a follow-up to this episode was never made.
- Remarkable dialogue: Bashir: "I'm sorry I'm late. The damnedest thing just happened. Garak, the tailor, was attacked." - Odo: "Attacked? Where?" - Bashir: "At the Replimat. He was bitten on the hand." - Dax: "Another unsatisfied customer?" - O'Brien: "He always cuts the pants too long."
- Remarkable facts:
- Deep Space 9 was called Terok Nor by the Cardassians (the first time that the old name of the station is mentioned).
- Gul Dukat was the commanding officer of Terok Nor eight years ago.
- The Cardassians killed over 10 million Bajorans during the occupation, according to Rugal.
- Remarkable appearance: This is only the second appearance of Garak after "Past Prologue", as long as one season ago.
Stardate 47229.1: The cartographer Ensign Melora Pazlar, an Elaysian who is used to very low gravity, arrives at the station. Although she needs a wheelchair to move in environments with nominal gravity, she insists on being treated like everyone else. But she experiences her limits when she drops to the floor and doesn't manage to get up until help arrives. Julian Bashir, who is romantically involved with the Elaysian, surprises Melora with the proposal to adapt her neuromuscular system to normal gravity, even though then she would have to give up her frequent "flights" in low gravity. When Fallit Kot, a sinister trade partner of Quark's, hijacks her and Dax's runabout, Melora saves the day when she deactivates the gravity generators and overwhelms Kot. She eventually decides to decline the proposed treatment.
Melora's difficulty of adapting to a normal-gravity environment is a barely concealed 24th century allegory to the situation of physically handicapped people in our world and time. Certainly Melora Pazlar is not ill, considering that on Elaysia she would be the one who could move freely, while everyone else would have trouble. Still her problems among "normal" humanoids are exactly the same as if she were disabled. The writer of the episode, Evan Carlos Somers, is bound to a wheelchair himself, and he has definitely packed some of his own experiences into this episode.
Well, at the first glance it doesn't look like Somers is doing handicapped a people a favor with this story, because Melora is a very unlikable and bad-tempered person. She has huge difficulties with accepting her being different and she frequently criticizes her fellow (superior!) officers for not treating her with the due respect. She demands everything and everyone to comply with her wishes and, even more importantly, with her concept of how she must be dealt with.
The first thing that Melora says to Sisko, her commanding officer, is "I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive, but I'm used to being shut out of the Melora problem. The truth is, there is no Melora problem until people create one." That's not true. It is just too obvious that Melora herself invokes the Melora problem, not because she is disabled, not because her superiors would discriminate against her or patronize her because of that, but because she prematurely alleges that everyone else is intolerant and would treat her unfairly. Case in point: Melora demands to take a runabout into the Gamma Quadrant all alone, something that Sisko would normally not allow to any ensign who has just arrived on the station.
Melora may have had her share of bad experiences at Starfleet Academy with people not acknowledging her qualification, and she may be tired of discussions or only conversations revolving about her disability. But considering that she must have been at the Academy for three years, there should have been plenty of time for her lecturers and fellow cadets to overcome their own preconceptions, as well as for Melora to come to trust other people. With her current defiant attitude she could have never made it through the Academy, unless everyone always felt compelled to put up with it, in order not to appear as intolerant.
Melora seems to enjoy her role of an outsider in some masochistic fashion. She refuses help offered to her where it would be sensible or even necessary. As Melora says herself, "To be honest, I prefer to work alone. It's simply easier for me." At this point Sisko should have reminded her that Starfleet has no place for officers that refuse to be team players. Overall, everyone is very patient with Melora.
Dr. Bashir has the most patience with Melora. He has a professional and a personal interest in her that he can't really separate. However, after he is initially just smitten with Melora, it is a positive surprise that Bashir is the one who sets her straight, rather than Sisko or Dax: "All of these broad shots you fire it's your way of keeping the rest of the universe on the defensive. Has to be. You're too good at it." And it works. Melora lightens up, and not just in Julian's presence.
The rest of the episode is unfortunately rather predictable and clichéd: When Melora prepares her mission without authority, she falls off her chair and thereby learns a lesson about being dependent on other people. Dr. Bashir devises a treatment that would allow her to live in a normal-gravity environment but not any longer on her own planet. As Jadzia remarks, it is like in the tale of The Little Mermaid. There is also the almost mandatory scene in which Melora's disability turns out to be an advantage, when she turns off gravity in the runabout and overwhelms Fallit Kot. Finally, it becomes obvious that Melora and Julian's relationship wouldn't work out, as we wouldn't have expected otherwise. I only like the open ending of the episode instead of the usual melodramatic good-bye scene.
- Humanoids with legs evolve on a planet where they couldn't walk?
- What about simple antigrav technology to help Melora move?
- Remarkable joke(?): Fallit Kot has a bone in front of his mouth. Quark hands him a drink in a glass, and we need to wonder how he could possibly drink from it as the camera cuts away.
- Remarkable scenes:
- Melora and Julian "fly" in the low-G environment in her quarters.
- Melora complains to the Klingon chef -in Klingon- about the dead racht.
- Rule of Acquisition #16: "A deal is a deal."
Stardate not given: Grand Nagus Zek has great news for Quark: The simple bar owner has been chosen to purchase tulaberry wine from the Dosi from the Gamma Quadrant, as a preparation for a large-scale trade agreement. When his Ferengi waiter Pel advises him to be cautious, Quark is impressed and assigns Pel to be his assistant. But Pel is actually a female, who is disguised as a man to escape the strict gender roles in the Ferengi society. The deal with the Dosi fails. However, Pel convinces Zek to let them further pursue their goals. With Zek's blessing, she and Quark head for the Gamma Quadrant where they learn of the Karemma who would bring the Ferengi in contact with the Dominion - which is ultimately more valuable than the wine. Back on the station, Quark faints when he is notified by Rom that Pel is a woman who loves him. When Pel reveals her gender to Zek as well, the Ferengi decide to remain silent about it - as it is outlawed for a businessman to take advice from a woman.
With Quark being a regular member of the cast, there was a need to develop not only his character but also his cultural background. The first-season episode "The Nagus" set the tone for all Ferengi episodes of DS9 to come. The Ferengi, who were originally created for TNG as ruthless enemies with formidable warships were ultimately reduced to a bunch of hysterical but mostly harmless fellows with a number of strange customs. This wasn't necessarily to their disadvantage as a Trek species, considering that already owing to their look the Ferengi couldn't possibly compete with the Romulans or even the Borg as major villains. But I think the comical potential of the Ferengi was overemphasized already in the early seasons.
While episodes focusing on Quark as the only Ferengi character are usually still serious, a Ferengi feature in DS9 the more likely winds up as mere comedy the more members of the race appear in it. And "Rules of Acquisition" is no exception. On the contrary, it is even dominated by the comical motive of cross-dressing, so much that the rest of the story about the trade negotiations becomes uninteresting. Well, the whole episode would have been utterly boring without Quark's assistant being a woman. Anyway, I would wish Pel's difficulties to adapt to a world of men had been handled with more decency. But the only problem she appears to have during the whole time is sleeping in the same bed as Quark, a situation that winds up as a wacky slapstick scene.
On the bright side, Quark and Pel's other scenes are comparably serious. Rom's character is further developed as he feels let down by his brother and tries to find evidence against Pel. Also, there is nice interaction between the oversexed Nagus Zek and Major Kira, who feels very uncomfortable to be pinched in the butt by someone she can't simply beat up.
- Remarkable dialogue: "They're greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls and I wouldn't turn my back on one of them for a second." - "Neither would I. But once you accept that, you'll find they can be a lot of fun." (Kira and Dax)
- Remarkable scene: We see how Rom blows the whistle on Pel's identity from a distance, without hearing anything. Quite unusual for a key scene, but it resonates with me.
- Rules of Acquisition #21:"Never place friendship above profit."; #22: "A wise man can hear profit in the wind."; #33: "It never hurts to suck up to the boss."; #48: "The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife."; #59: "Free advice is seldom cheap."; #62: "The riskier the road, the greater the profit."; #103: "Sleep can interfere with your lust for latinum."
- Remarkable facts:
- This is the first episode to mention the Dominion and the Karemma, who would appear in DS9: "Starship Down".
- It is also the first episode we see the game of Tongo being played (with Jadzia always winning).
Stardate 47282.5: The Bajoran woman Vaatrik Pallra hires Quark to retrieve a strongbox hidden on the station during the Cardassian occupation. He and Rom sneak about on the promenade deck and find the box when a man named Trazko, obviously sent by Pallra, takes the list of names that was inside and shoots Quark. Odo questions Rom about the incident when he suddenly finds himself in a conversation with Gul Dukat, five years earlier on Terok Nor. At that time Pallra's husband Mr. Vaatrick, a shop owner, had been murdered, and Pallra suspected his alleged mistress, Kira Nerys. Back in the present, Rom remembers just one name from the list, which he thinks was Ches'so. But Pallra denies any knowledge of either the list or someone with that name. Yet, Odo is sure that she is blackmailing former collaborators like the said person, whose real name is Ches'sarro Seeto. Now Ches'saro has mysteriously died. Five years in the past, Odo interrogates Kira who has paid Quark in order to provide a false alibi for her. She says it was to cover up her sabotage of the ore processors. Odo lies to Dukat about this interrogation in order to save her life. Back in the present, Trazko attempts in vain to assassinate Quark, who is still in the infirmary. Odo, however, realizes that Kira did indeed kill Mr. Vaatrick because he was a collaborator and that it was her friends of the Resistance who exterminated Ches'saro.
This episode shows us how Odo became the station's security officer and how he first met Quark and Kira Nerys, then still a member of the Bajoran resistance. So far it was never really plausible why the Cardassians would hire Odo, someone who may not always act in their favor, as an investigator, and why Odo would agree to work for an organization that has a weird idea of justice, to put it mildly. In the special case of the murder of one of the collaborators, however, Dukat needed someone who could handle it with the most possible discretion. As Odo surmises, "he had to stay as far away from this incident as he could so as not to endanger his network of Bajoran sympathizers." And Odo just had to accept the job offer as Dukat would otherwise have lined up innocent Bajorans for execution.
It is the second time after "A Man Alone" that the series revisits one of Odo's old criminal cases on the station, and it won't be the last time. The pieces of the murder mystery in "Necessary Evil" fit together quite nicely but also rather slowly. After the initial excitement about the attempted killing of Quark the story loses a bit too much steam, and doesn't really regain it until the very end when Odo discovers the truth about the past and present events. Yet, I dig Odo's way of investigating the case, in the present as well as in the past. And Kira's involvement is included in a brilliant way. At first we wouldn't suspect that she was involved at all. Then we see her as a presumably innocently indicted person in the past. Later we learn that she got a false alibi to cover up another crime. Only in the very end Kira turns out to be the common focal point of the past and of the present-day murder. On a more technical note, I think that prolonged flashbacks too often cause an episode to become bumpy, but it is just the contrary here. I have the highest praise for the perfect blending of the flashbacks with the present-day events.
The end of this episode leaves a bitter taste. We may want to give Kira Nerys's words credence that there was no other way than to kill Mr. Pallra in her situation. But even if he was "only" a collaborator and even if she acted in self-defense, it still is an act of homicide that apparently won't be persecuted. Her complicity in the murder of Ches'sarro Seeto is even much worse. It is only implicitly hinted at by Odo, but it seems obvious that Kira gave her friends in the Resistance a cue, upon which someone of them assassinated Ches'sarro. (Mrs. Pallra clearly had no reason to kill the people she was blackmailing). In any case DS9 proves that it is a different series than TNG, where usually the truth was rated more valuable than even loyalty (with TNG: "The Pegasus" being a prime example that aired at about the same time).
On a side note, in his only notable scene Sisko defends Rom against Odo's charges of murder with the words "he's a family friend". Sisko clearly has come a long way since last season when he didn't want Jake to play with "that Ferengi boy".
- Remarkable dialogue: "I'm looking for the proprietor of this establishment." - "Does he owe you money?" - "No." - "Are you here to arrest him?" - "No." - "Then you've found him. Quark, at your service." (Odo's and Quark's first conversation)
- Remarkable fact: Kira appears to be the first person calling Odo "Constable".
- Remarkable behind-the-scenes fact: Special effects designer Dan Curry can be seen on a PADD as Ches'sarro Seeto.
- Rule of Acquisition #139: "Wives serve, brothers inherit."
Stardate 47329.4: On the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Wolf 359 in which his wife Jennifer died, Benjamin Sisko falls in love a woman named Fenna he encounters on the promenade deck. But Fenna suddenly runs away when the commander meets her a second time. The same night, he and his senior staff attend a dinner with Dr. Seyetik on the USS Prometheus. The famous scientist has developed a method to re-ignite dying stars in order to revive orbiting planets. Much to Sisko's surprise, Seyetik's wife Nidell looks exactly like Fenna, but she doesn't recognize the commander. He is even more taken aback to find Fenna, who says she knows nothing about Nidell, in his quarters, only to see her disappear after a passionate kiss. On their mission to a dead star Dax reveals that Fenna is composed of energy. She is just a projection created by Nidell, who is a psychoprojective telepath and obviously bored by her marriage with Seyetik. Stricken with guilt, the scientist takes a shuttle and commits suicide when he heads for the star, which he recuperates through his sacrifice. Nidell is now free; but Fenna, the part of her that loved Sisko, is gone.
The second season had a very promising start. All eight episodes so far worked with the characters and did not have to rely on tropes, at least not too heavily. "Second Sight", however, is a fallback to the mistakes of the first season. I appreciate how Commander Sisko is personally involved and that we get to see Jake again, who was conspicuously absent from the season so far. But this story simply doesn't feel like it is written for Ben Sisko (Actually, I looked up that originally Bashir was to fall in love). Already the coincidence that he meets the woman of his dreams on the fourth anniversary of Jennifer's death is implausible. The whole plot appears to me like an excuse to get Sisko infatuated with a woman, in some fashion that we would expect from a sci-fi show, and without having to care about consequences.
I have to concede that the focus remains on Sisko's nice little romance all the time, which is not sidetracked by lots of technobabble regarding Seyetik's experiment or Fenna's true nature (the word "psychoprojective telepath" absolutely suffices), the way it may have been the case in a TNG episode. Yet, Nidell/Fenna is too much an ill-fated cousin of Kamala from TNG: "The Perfect Mate", a woman bonded to a man for the rest of her life in a similar fashion. The sexism in this idea is obvious, because we couldn't really imagine a man in such a role. Professor Seyetik is another mostly annoying cookie-cutter character, bearing in mind that TOS and TNG already had smug geniuses galore, of the kind that would or actually did sacrifice their lives for science, in order to become immortal. Well, Seyetik did have a second strong motivation though, considering that with his death he freed his wife and ultimately saved her life. But this "double benefit" from his death is just too contrived.
- Why does a civilian professor, as renowned as he may be, command a capital ship of Starfleet? One obviously manned only with a skeleton crew, and with a disinterested and almost motionless lieutenant junior grade (Piersall) as the highest-ranking officer on the bridge?
- When Sisko describes Fenna to Odo, how can he forget to tell him that she has the rare trait of double-pointed ears, which would have helped a lot to identify at least her species?
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Dad, are you in love?" - "What?" - "You know, with a woman. You're showing all three of the signs." - "Signs?" - "The ones that Nog told me about. Loss of appetite, daydreaming, smiling all the time." (Jake and Ben Sisko)
- "Commander, you think he'd notice if we weren't here when he got back?" - "Don't even think about it, Major. I've had dinner with about two dozen Bajoran ministers. I think you owe me this one. Besides, Seyetik is one of the Federation's greatest minds." - "I know. He told me." (Kira and Sisko)
- Remarkable quote: "You may have noticed, Commander, that I tend to invoke strong emotions from people, particularly my wives. Oh, they all start out loving me, but a few years of togetherness soon cures them of that. My others all had the good sense to leave me." (Seyetik, in the only moment that I feel any sympathy with him)
- Remarkable fact: Seyetik's method to re-ignite the star takes advantage of (still unstable?) protomatter, known from the Genesis device in "Star Trek II" and "Star Trek III".
Stardate 47391.2: When a transport vessel entering through the wormhole breaks apart, its passengers are beamed to Deep Space 9. After the universal translator initially fails to provide a proper translation, it later becomes clear that the people from the Gamma Quadrant are Skrreeans who lost their home to a race called T-Rogorans and ultimately to the Dominion. There are three million more Skrreeans waiting on the far side of the "Eye", the wormhole, as their leader, a woman called Haneek explains. While Sisko has found an empty planet for the Skrreeans to settle down, Haneek is convinced that their lost home is Bajor. But the Bajorans refuse to let the refugees immigrate. Haneek's son Tumak takes a shuttle to Bajor that explodes due to a radiation leak when Bajoran fighters attempt to stop him. Shattered about the loss, Haneek gives in, but not without accusing the Bajorans of being apprehensive and mistrustful.
The basic idea of this episode is quite interesting: A large number of refugees seek asylum on a particular inhabited planet, leading to a large-scale clash of interests, cultures and also religions. However, I have a couple of issues with how this was made into the story of "Sanctuary". Or rather, how all of this didn't make it into the story.
On the bright side, I like the looks of the Skrreeans and their matriarchal society that comes across as truly alien, especially since the universal translator initially fails to make sense of their language. I like that the episode focuses on Kira and her friendship with Haneek, even though or just because they would part with bitter disappointment in the end. I like the involvement of Jake and Nog and their conflict with the Skrreean men/boys, who are just as immature as them.
My first gripe is with the incredibly boring teaser about Kira's involvement in an agricultural project on Bajor and Quark's petty problem with a musician whose playing interferes with his business. I usually don't complain about such an insignificant side plot, but I think it takes away precious time from the main plot.
One major letdown in my view is that the legend of the "Eye of the Universe" and of the ancient Skrreean homeworld remains sketchy. This is odd in a Star Trek series that otherwise loves to seek the possible truth in myths and deal with other questions of faith. Haneek appears to be spiritual as she speaks in awe of the "Eye of the Universe" --just like the Bajorans-- and of her homeworld Kentanna that she believes to have found in Bajor. She insists on Bajor being the Skrreean homeworld apparently because it fits the legend perfectly in her view, and not for scientific reasons. At least, that's the impression we get in a lack of a more elaborate story. But neither are any other Skrreeans shown as spiritual, which would have corroborated her demands in some fashion, nor does anyone among the crew or among the Bajoran Government question the truthfulness of the myth and the rightfulness of the Skrreean claim at any time. Well, we know how cautious Sisko is regarding questions of faith and how Kira doesn't want to offend her new-found friend, and Minister Rozahn may have been simply diplomatic by citing more practical reasons for the refusal to let the Skrreeans settle down. As her request is turned down, even Haneek herself lacks the zeal that we would expect from a religious person who is barred from their "Holy Land". She sounds much rather like she is merely in a huff because her profitable business proposal was turned down. As pleasant it may seem that for once religion is left out of a story that has to boil down a to quite mundane problems (of overpopulation just as well as xenophobia), it is a mistake that the religious element is introduced in the first place and then played down.
In a similar fashion as the story neglects the spiritual impact of the discovery that Bajor is Kentanna, the only right place for the Skrreeans to settle down, the possible Bajoran xenophobia towards three million alien settlers on their planet is not once mentioned until the very end of the episode. However, I think Haneek's bitter complaint about Bajor not being willing to welcome the Skrreeans on their planet is deferred with a reason. Just as the Bajoran minister was diplomatic enough not to challenge the Skrreean beliefs, she must have concealed the most important reason why the Skrreeans can't settle down on Bajor: because the Bajorans, who had to endure some 50 years of Cardassian occupation, wouldn't tolerate a considerable alien presence on their planet again. The articulation of this simple truth comes from Haneek at the very end, making it one of the most pronounced downbeat endings in the history of Star Trek.
Yet, even though Haneek may tell the truth when she laments Bajor's xenophobia, I don't agree at all with her overall unfair assessment of the Bajoran's negative reaction. While she does acknowledge that they have been suffering under the Cardassian occupation, she apparently expected the Bajorans to co-exist with new alien settlers that they have never seen before, that still have to prove their good intentions and, above all, that claim Bajor as their ancient homeworld without providing any proof. And any proof they might provide in spite of everything may clash with the Bajoran faith. Haneek was demanding way too much from the Bajorans, and she must have been aware of that. I'm tempted to say that subconsciously she wanted to be disappointed, thereby corroborating the role of the Skrreeans as the eternal victims, who are unwelcome in any part of the Galaxy.
Her grudge against Kira is just as unfounded. It comes across as a more or less conscious spiteful reaction, not as if her feelings have been hurt by Kira's lack of support for her cause. And I don't think that the purported lack of emotion in Skrreean women excuses that she was downright impatient and ungrateful. Well, perhaps the Skrreeans have a different concept of friendship just as they have very different gender roles.
Speaking of the Skrreean men, it is an interesting side aspect that they have bad manners and act without deliberation. In a way, their impatience and their almost playful disrespect of other people's customs, beliefs and laws is a "savage" analogy to the behavior of the Skrreean women, at least to Haneek's, for she is the only one to speak. Only superficially she is a more reasonable person than her sons. Ultimately they all overstress their new-found freedom. And except for Haneek's aforementioned mistakes I don't blame them for it. It is especially sad that Tumak and his companions die a pointless death, only to manifest the stubbornness of Skrreean males and to corroborate Haneek's preconceptions about Kira and the Bajorans.
- Nitpicking: This is one of very few occasions (and the only one in the 24th century besides the "Darmok" incident) that the universal translator doesn't deliver an immediate translation of a previously unknown alien language. While this is only realistic, we need to wonder how the device otherwise translates even before anything of the syntax or vocabulary is known.
- Remarkable quote: "Men are much too emotional to be leaders. They're constantly fighting among themselves. It's their favorite thing to do." (Haneek)
- Remarkable appearances:
- Tumak is played by Andrew Koenig, Walter Koenig's son. He was found dead in Vancouver in 2010.
- Kitty Swink, who portrays the character of Minister Rozahn, is Armin Shimerman's wife.
- William Schallert of "The Trouble with Tribbles" fame plays the musician Varani.
- Remarkable music: Varani is playing a variant of the DS9 title theme at the beginning of the episode.
- Remarkable facts:
- The Skrreeans have been under the rule of the T-Rogorans for eight centuries. Only when the Dominion conquered them, three million Skrreeans managed to escape.
- The Skrreeans are a matriarchal society, because men are considered "too emotional".
Stardate not given: While in Odo's holding cell, the notorious El-Aurian swindler Martus Mazur takes a gambling device from a dead fellow prisoner. So equipped, he opens a casino on the promenade deck when he is released. He gains the widow Roana and Quark's brother Rom as associates. Much to Quark's displeasure the "Club Martus" soon abounds with guests, who at some point all simultaneously win in the casino - whereas occurrences of bad luck are reported from everywhere on Deep Space 9. When Quark strikes back and wins O'Brien and Bashir for a charity racquetball match, something is strange. O'Brien, who normally wouldn't stand a chance, doesn't miss a single ball. It turns out that the gaming device is changing the probability for the neutron spin throughout the station. Commander Sisko rules that the devices have to be destroyed. Martus, however, has been duped himself by Roana, who has taken his earnings to invest them into a non-existent asteroid mining project.
This whole story is a farce. I enjoy farcical stories if they are funny, but "Rivals" is only mildly amusing, and only at times when it doesn't become downright absurd.
The characters don't work for me because they are clichéd and their actions are governed by the motto "double or nothing", as if life were a childish competition or a gamble. Above all Martus Mazur is just too obviously a soldier of fortune and a crook, and everyone who makes a deal with him conjures up being cheated. Mazur is an unpleasant generic troublemaker anyway, of the kind that TNG and the first season of DS9 already had plenty of. And somehow Martus's behavior rubs off on the regular characters, unsurprisingly on Quark but especially on O'Brien. Like so much else in this episode O'Brien's eagerness to win a racquetball match against Bashir is over the top and out of character. Their rivalry is too noticeably designed to mirror the conflict between Quark and Martus, to which the racquetball competition will eventually be subordinated. This is a pity because the B-plot about Bashir's and O'Brien's friendship is otherwise nicely set up.
As it is customary in farces, obsessive behavior remains unexplained and only serves to push through the more or less comical story without really caring about the characters. The same goes for the motive of herd instinct that is used without any good justification. We never learn what is possibly so interesting about the blinking gambling spheres that Club Martus is swarming with people while no one visits Quark's any more. And why Quark can draw away the crowd from Martus with a simple announcement of a racquetball match between O'Brien and Bashir.
Well, and the perhaps worst failing is the awkward explanation for all the unlikely things that are happening (and perhaps even for the change in the characters?). Irrespective of the spin of neutrinos in real life and the question whether this physical property could really influence probabilities of events, the story forges a relation that cannot possibly exist between science and the more or less superstitious concept of luck. It creates the impression that the gambling devices somehow "know" that tripping and falling is "bad luck". And that clockwise spin means good luck and counter-clockwise means bad luck, or the other way round. Or that "good luck" on the gambling table is somehow compensated by "bad luck" all over the station. At least this is what we may read into it.
- Nitpicking: In the real world, all neutrinos have a left-handed spin and all anti-neutrinos have a right-handed spin. There is nothing such as a 50% probability for a certain direction of the spin.
- Rule of Acquisition #47: "Never trust a man wearing a better suit than your own.", #109: "Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack."
Stardate 47391.7: Dr. Mora Pol, the scientist who took care of Odo after he was found (and the prototype for the shapeshifter's hairstyle), visits the station with a possible clue to Odo's origin. Odo, Mora, Dax and the Mora's assistant Dr. Weld take a runabout to a planet in the Gamma Quadrant where they locate a tiny lifeform that may be related to Odo. But then poisonous volcanic gases erupt, and only the seemingly unaffected Odo can save the rest of the away team. Back on Deep Space 9, the three injured scientists are taken to the infirmary. O'Brien carries on with the studies but then the science lab in which he keeps the lifeform is demolished, apparently by the lifeform itself which is missing. But a more detailed analysis of Dr. Mora comes to the conclusion that Odo must be the culprit. The security chief doesn't believe his mentor until he morphs into the violent creature. Shutting off the power on the station, the crew manages to capture Odo in a forcefield and remove the traces of the detrimental gas from his substance.
This episode unfolds very slowly. Actually, the first 35 minutes are just bland. The story and the characters fail to captivate me.
So Odo gets another clue about his origin, but it turns out as another dead end. We've already had a quite similar story in the first-season episode "Vortex", when Croden presented an artifact from the Gamma Quadrant to Odo that may or may not have been a distant relative of the shapeshifter. We don't know, and ultimately it doesn't matter because it was just a plot device. It is much the same with the lifeform in "The Alternate".
When Odo and Mora, together with Dax and Dr. Weld, set out to the Gamma Quadrant and investigate the ruins on the planet surface, I would have expected the episode to gain pace, especially since it was just the right moment after 15 minutes of talking. But the only thing that happens is that an earthquake disables the away team except for Odo. A gratuitous earthquake that is nothing but an awkward attempt to bring in some action. It comes across like the "Wrath of the Gods" in an Indiana Jones-style movie but has no further significance except for incapacitating Jadzia and Mora for a while (oh well, and Dr. Weld, who won't show up again anyway).
But most of all Dr. Mora Pol is a disappointment in the first acts of the episode. His role is a big one as screen time is concerned, but the character is limited to being Odo's foster father, who revels in memories that are rather unpleasant for Odo and whose unnecessary talking is an embarrassment to him. But their conflict is neither very dramatic nor very profound. The debate about Dr. Mora's scientific methods and Odo's life as a lab sample is largely postponed to the fifth-season episode "The Begotten". On a positive note, Dr. Mora is not one of those generic unlikable characters whose mere presence stirs up trouble. But the way he is written and played by James Sloyan with a lack of different facets and of charisma, Dr. Mora so far remains one of the less interesting guest characters.
As already mentioned, the boredom continues for 35 minutes, up to the point when Mora discovers that Odo has undergone a transformation to a "Mr. Hyde". Well, this may not be the most original plot twist. But the discovery of Odo's metamorphosis, Mora's subsequent argument with Odo and the "monster hunt" compensate somewhat for the boring parts of the episode. And despite all the action (or just because of it?) the final act reconciles me with Mora's character, and shows that Sloyan can act after all. It is the highlight of the episode when Odo is caught in the forcefield, Mora deplores that he has made Odo a prisoner yet again and Sisko releases him. It is great CGI for its time, big emotions and good acting.
Still, it leaves me unsatisfied that Odo is back to normal without much trouble and that another clue to his origin remains unexplored.
- Remarkable dialogue: "Humanoid death rituals are an interest of mine." - "Death rituals?" - "Everybody needs a hobby. Some species burn their dead, others pack them in blocks of ice. Some even surround themselves with the company of family corpses. But the Ferengi ritual of chopping up their loved ones and selling them? I find that irresistible." - "I'm very busy here." - "What a fitting and distinguished way to honour the memory of great Ferengi entrepreneurs. I'm thinking of starting a collection, putting up a display case in my office. There'll be a special space in there reserved for you, Quark." (Odo and Quark)
- Continuity: As Odo already told Lwaxana Troi in "The Forsaken", we can now clearly see how he imitates the hairstyle of his mentor Dr. Mora. He only still doesn't get the ears right, as Mora remarks (not to mention the nose).
- Remarkable facts:
- Odo's rejuvenation period is sixteen hours.
- Odo was initially kept in a beaker by Mora. One day he left the beaker and morphed into an identical beaker next to it, in an attempt to establish a communication with Mora.
Stardate 47529.4: Aboard a T'Lani vessel, Dr. Bashir and Miles O'Brien assist the T'Lani and the Kellerun in the destruction of the Harvester, a biological agent that was used in the long war between the two planets. Suddenly two Kellerun soldiers enter the room and begin firing. The two Starfleet officers manage to beam down to the planet T'Lani III, but O'Brien has been infected with Harvester. Kellerun and T'Lani officials inform Deep Space 9 that the two officers are dead. But Keiko O'Brien notices an inconsistency in the security tape because she insists on her husband never drinking coffee in the late afternoon. In orbit of T'Lani Dax and Sisko discover that the shuttle log has been tampered with as well. Bashir and the ailing O'Brien work on sending a distress call, and they can be beamed up just when T'Lani and Kellerun soldiers have arrived to execute them because they know too much about the bioweapon. Sacrificing one of the two runabouts, the four Starfleet officers escape the T'Lani cruiser. Back on Deep Space 9 Miles O'Brien is puzzled about his wife's suspicion because he actually does drink coffee in the afternoon.
I am usually not fond of the sort of plot in which two characters are marooned on a planet, then reluctantly begin to work together on their rescue and end up talking out fundamental disagreements. But "Armageddon Game" is an exception.
The first reason is that the story adds profoundness to the friendship of Bashir and O'Brien. So far we could see them quibble in a few light-hearted "buddy" stories; even in tense situations such as in "The Storyteller" there was a rather humorous undercurrent. They did have only minor disagreements as lately in "Rivals". Now their friendship enters the next stage, as they address very personal matters. O'Brien implicitly criticizes Julian's frivolous attitude that his life is an adventure, especially as women are concerned. Julian counters with an inconsiderate statement that O'Brien's marriage with Keiko is not going well. Later, however, as Miles is already weakened and can only instruct Julian to repair the transmitter (a bit like Geordi and Bochra in TNG: "The Enemy"), their positions converge again. Julian tells Miles about his great love that did not work out, while Miles assures his friend that the marriage gives him much more than other people may see in it. We can see similar situations in other episodes of Star Trek and it is rather formulaic, but the "necessary" setup (that they are isolated and need to wait until their rescue) and the "optional" character development (that they talk about their feelings, which they wouldn't normally do) are rarely blended as nicely as in "Armageddon Game".
The second reason why I like this episode is that the setup is quite intelligent. When the T'Lani and the Kellerun ambassadors inform him that his officers are dead, Sisko has no reason to believe that they are still alive in spite of everything, but he has proof that the T'Lani and Kellerun are still working together. O'Brien and Bashir, conversely, still think that the Kellerun alone are responsible for the massacre and their hope that either the T'Lani or Starfleet may come to their help is in vain. Only the viewer knows everything and recognizes how intricate the situation is, and this is just the thrill about it.
"Armageddon Game" also has a good deal of action and visual effects, and enemies-of-the-week that are not quite as one-dimensional as in many other episodes. Well, they appear a bit stiff though, but that may be because of their hairstyles. :-) And maybe the episode should have taken more time to tell the story. It may have been a candidate for a two-parter.
But the perhaps best part of the episode is the unique punchline at the very end. Keiko initiated the whole rescue mission because she was convinced that Miles would never drink coffee in the afternoon. She ultimately saves Miles and Julian because she was wrong, and ironically because she doesn't know her husband well enough.
- Remarkable dialogue: "Somehow marriage just doesn't seem fair." - "Fair?" - "Fair to them. I mean, look at us. Our lives are constantly in danger. There's enough to worry about without worrying about the wife and kids at home worrying about us. I'm sorry, Chief. I just feel that way. A lot of career officers feel that way." - "Well, you career officers don't know what you're missing." - "Really? That may be so. I just look at you and Mrs O'Brien and I..." - "What about me and Mrs O'Brien?" - "Nothing." - "What?" - "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It's no secret that your assignment to this station hasn't been conducive to your marriage." (Bashir and O'Brien)
- Remarkable facts:
- Julian was once in love with Palis Delon, a ballerina. Her father was the top administrator at a medical complex in Paris. He almost chose to work as a surgeon there but then decided to stay in Starfleet.
- The runabout Ganges is destroyed.
- Rule of Acquisition #57: "Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them."
Stardate 47581.2: When Chief O'Brien returns from a mission to the Paradas, everyone reacts strangely on him. His wife Keiko avoids intimacy, Bashir calls him for an unscheduled examination, crucial repairs on the station are carried out without him. He has no access to the station's logs for the time after his arrival, and his personal logs have been reviewed by someone else. When Odo returns from Bajor, O'Brien is glad to have a possible ally, but the security chief appears to be part of the conspiracy. When Kira attempts to disable O'Brien with a hypospray, he escapes to a runabout and heads to the Paradan homeworld. Witnessing a meeting of Paradan rebels with his fellow officers, he draws a phaser but is fatally wounded by a guard. Before he dies he learns that he is not the real O'Brien but a replicant who was created by the Paradas to kill someone on a conference to take place on Deep Space 9.
Wow. What an extraordinary episode. "Whispers" is most unusual because the whole story is told from O'Brien's perspective, only to reveal in the end, in a great twist of irony, that it's not the actual O'Brien and that he is the key component of a conspiracy instead of being its victim.
Well, it takes as long as 35 minutes until something decisive happens and O'Brien has to run. But "Whispers" just doesn't need a lot of action because it creates suspense by gradually building up a mystery and playing with the paranoia in all of us. It is thrilling from the first to the last minute to witness from Miles O'Brien's perspective how his wife avoids spending time with him, how he is given useless orders, how no one listens to his objections and how his fellow officers keep secrets from him and clearly lie to him. The way it appears there has to be something wrong with everyone else but O'Brien, and considering that we have seen various forms of alien takeovers through mind control in Star Trek before, this assumption isn't far-fetched.
I think the way the story turns out is a big surprise for everyone who is watching it for the first time. Only in retrospect or in a second viewing we notice that there are several cues that indeed everyone else is okay, and that the identity of O'Brien is frequently being tested. The unscheduled physical exam, Bashir's "mishap" of asking about O'Brien's dead mother, Jake's request for help in the engineering project, or Keiko's deliberate preparation of a dish he should know she doesn't like. We could notice it, but we are being misled, in such a skillful way that we would have no right to complain about.
"Whispers" is also unusual because much of the story is recounted by (fake) O'Brien in flashbacks as he is already on the run. Only the last six minutes are shown in real time. It may have been deemed useful to have O'Brien explain what he is just doing in off-camera comments (instead of having him talk to himself all the time, which would have been awkward). Still, I think it would have been more dramatic, if the whole story had been shown in chronological order, starting with O'Brien's return to the station after his stay on Parada.
- I understand that everyone on the station who works with O'Brien would be apprised that he might be a replicant. Keiko would be definitely informed too, and perhaps Jake. But considering how hostile even Molly is toward her "father", would Keiko really have bothered her daughter with the suspicion? And what did she tell her? "Your father is a very bad guy, you have to stay away from him, but you must not tell him!?"
- Why would the Paradan government bother to keep O'Brien alive at all? After he has been replaced with a perfect replicant, he is just an unnecessarily dangerous witness.
- Continuity: It is curious that we can see the fake O'Brien drink coffee in the night, during his investigation of the station logs. In the preceding episode Keiko thought that the recording of her husband was wrong because she was convinced he would never drink coffee late in the afternoon.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "I mean, the way they were acting, they might've been trying to pull off one of those surprise parties that I can't stand, only my birthday's not until September, and believe me, as it turned out, I had nothing else to celebrate." (O'Brien, describing the way people are keeping secrets from him)
- "Are we nearly finished? I believe you've poked into every orifice of my body and created a few new ones." (O'Brien, during his physical exam)
- Remarkable facts: O'Brien's mother died two years ago. His father married again last spring, a woman that Miles has never met before.
- Rule of Acquisition #194: "It's always good to know about new customers before they walk in your door."
Stardate 47573.1: On a survey mission in a runabout, Miles O'Brien and Benjamin Sisko discover an unknown human colony on a planet. They beam down, only to realize that a duonetic field obstructs the operation of all of their technical devices. Alixus, the leader of the colony, welcomes the two officers. When the two attempt to aid a woman who is dying of an ordinary insect bite by contacting their runabout, Alixus angrily insists on no technology being allowed on her planet. In the meantime, Kira and Dax find the unmanned runabout in open space. Alixus does everything to integrate the two officers into her society. When it becomes obvious that it is in vain, she locks up Sisko in a small box fully exposed to the sunlight. O'Brien, determined to overthrow her regime, finally finds the generator that creates the duonetic field and takes a phaser to free Sisko. The two take Alixus and her son with them, while the rest of the colonists decides to stay in spite of everything.
The plot is based on an old recipe known from episodes such as TOS: "This Side of Paradise", TNG: "The Ensigns of Command" or TNG: "The Masterpiece Society", where settlers from Earth likewise created a secluded "perfect" society that exhibited cracks and ultimately fundamental flaws when "intruders" in the form of Starfleet officers arrived.
Although the basic theme of the episode is nothing special, I like the gradual revelation of the true nature, origin and purpose of Alixus's society. It initially comes across as a charming hippie-like community that defies stubborn rules and authorities. Later, however, it becomes evident that Alixus does not run the community with love and peace, but that she is authoritarian and cruel. And in the light of her willingness to let members of her community die of diseases rather than allow the use of technology to heal them, her idea of going "back to nature" appears much like a crude interpretation of Darwinism as a model for a human society.
I like the irony that lies in the fact that Alixus has created her whole society in the first place with the help of the technology that she demands everyone to abdicate. Actually, in human history it has been and still is rather the rule than the exception that leaders of a fundamentalist ideology or religion, "for the greater good", break the taboos they impose on everyone else. And that their followers readily ignore or deny it. Sadly, this sort of happens at the end of the episode when everyone decides to stay on the planet even as it is revealed that Alixus has been cheating them for ten years.
The outcome leaves me rather dissatisfied for several more reasons. I think Sisko should not have given Alixus the chance to justify her crimes and Joseph to defend her. Had I been in Sisko's place, I would not have discussed with her, probably not at any time of the episode (in which case the episode may have been less interesting though). And with the comfort of pointing a phaser at her, I would just have yelled, "Shut up, bitch!" The ending is overall too conciliatory, and Alixus is even getting away with a little triumph that she definitely doesn't deserve, as her community may continue to exist. As already mentioned, I find it extremely disappointing that no one of the community decides to leave the planet immediately, after all the lies, the pain and the torture that Alixus has inflicted upon them.
Moreover, it is simply irresponsible that Sisko and O'Brien take only Alixus and Vinod with them, leaving behind the rest of the castaways instead of giving them the psychological aid that they unquestionably need. All these people have never made a conscious decision to stay on that planet; they were kidnapped. They have been Alixus's lab rats all the time. And the fact that they were never aware of it probably makes the realization even harder to endure. Many if not all of them have come to sympathize with Alixus, but this is quite clearly because of a kind of Stockholm syndrome, or because of a simple reluctance to accept a sudden change in the lives that they have become accustomed to, rather than because they really appreciate life on a primitive planet. Joseph, the former engineer, suggests that they could leave the field generator turned off, which implies that he seriously considers to turn on Alixus's version of the Berlin Wall again. Had I been in O'Brien's place, I would have destroyed the device instantly.
- Nitpicking: If the duonetic field was blocking the operation of any technical device at any time, how could Sisko and O'Brien beam down in the first place?
- Remarkable scene: The episode closes with a shot of two children, who are too young to have ever seen someone being transported before. They keep staring at the place from where the four people have vanished.
Stardate 47603.3: On an unexplored planet in the Gamma Quadrant the Yaderan village administrator Colyus asks Dax and Odo to investigate the case of 22 people who have vanished. The two interview Taya, the granddaughter of Rurigan, one of the village's founders. She was the last to see her mother. Rurigan, however, says he believes no one will ever return. When Dax notices that a Yaderan scanning device disappears outside the village boundaries, and Taya's arm disappears as well, it is clear that the village is holographic. Dax shuts down the simulation to restart it later. Everything vanishes, and only Rurigan is still there. He recreated what he had lost when the Dominion took over Yadera Prime. He is ready to return to what is left of his homeworld, but Odo convinces him that the simulation may be just as real as he wants it to be.
Of all Trek series DS9 is noted for the mastery of combining different plot threads in different places in one episode. "Shadowplay" is a prime example. The episode consists of three completely separate plots without the slightest interaction that are still skillfully woven together.
Regarding the A-plot about Rurigan's fake village, we could see a similar story in TNG: "The Survivors". But "Shadowplay" doesn't repeat the errors of the TNG episode. It doesn't show us strange occurrences ad nauseam and doesn't bug us with unfriendly guest characters and their frequent excuses and lamentations. Kenneth Tobey plays his role as Rurigan with a pleasant calmness and without exaggerated grumpiness or senility. The charming story of "Shadowplay" never gets loud or hectic and doesn't resort to unwarranted action or violence at any time. It even takes the time to build a friendship between Odo and the little Taya, who keeps teasing him for being a "make-believe" Changeling.
On the downside, the story is without a particular highlight, and even after the villagers have become aware that they are only holograms they seem to stoically put up with the new situation that should have changed their whole existence. Well, maybe they have been programmed like at. But it still works all too well. And as much as we may grant Rurigan his recreation of a world he has lost and as much Odo is convinced that it is for the old man's best, Rurigan's little community is a lifeless retirement castle, a way of living as it would be condemned on other occasions in Star Trek.
I don't care much for the B-plot about Quark, Kira and Bareil because it is a gratuitous love story tied into a lame smuggler story, or vice versa. Still, I like the revelation of Quark's plan to distract Kira with Bareil's presence and the fact that Quark has done her a big favor without accomplishing what he really wanted.
The C-plot about Jake's reluctance to follow in his father's footsteps is another positive aspect of the episode, even of the whole series. Jake is not going to become a second boy genius like Wesley. He believes that Starfleet is not the right thing for him. Yet, while he refuses to join the by far most renowned organization of the Federation, this really doesn't have to mean much in an in-universe context, for Jake is just another boy who defies his father's wishes, in a similar fashion as O'Brien did too.
- Continuity: The fact that O'Brien was going to be a musician before joining Starfleet complies with him playing a cello in TNG: "The Ensigns of Command".
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Are you saying that you've never had a female friend?" - "I consider Major Kira a friend." - "That's not what I meant. I'm talking about an intimate friendship." - "That's a very personal question." - "I'm sorry, but after seven lifetimes the impersonal questions aren't much fun anymore." (Dax and Odo)
- "You follow springball?" - "Religiously, if you'll pardon the expression." (Kira and Bareil)
- Remarkable quote: "Nothing happened to my face. I'm a shapeshifter. I just don't do faces very well." (Odo to Taya)
- Remarkable appearance: Noley Thornton, who plays Taya, previously appeared as Clara Sutter in TNG: "Imaginary Friend".
- Remarkable set: The Yaderan village is a nicely done redress of the Barkonian village from TNG: "Thine Own Self".
- Remarkable facts:
- The Dominion took over Rurigan's home planet Yadera Prime. On Yadera Prime Changelings are nothing but a myth, according to Taya (or that is how Rurigan may have programmed the villagers).
- Miles O'Brien was accepted at the Aldebaran Music Academy, but much to his father's displeasure joined Starfleet Academy. He is a Senior Chief Specialist.
Stardate not given: Arjin, a young Trill qualifying for receiving a symbiont is uneasy because it will be tough to fulfill the expectations of the famed Dax symbiont in the form of Jadzia Dax, who is going to train and assess him. But he is relieved to see how light-hearted the young woman is. The two discover a piece of protoplasm in a subspace pocket on the other side of the wormhole. They examine the matter in the station's science lab. Jadzia Dax ponders whether to go easy on Arjin or to be as blunt as Curzon Dax once was to her. She decides to do the latter, leaving Arjin angry and disappointed. Unfortunately Cardassian voles, rodents living on the station, damage the containment field. Now the protoplasm, which turns out to be a protouniverse containing life, is expanding. The only solution is to take it back to its origin which Dax and Arjin accomplish thanks to the young Trill's excellent piloting inside the wormhole - which gains him Dax's respect.
What a boring episode. There is nothing really wrong with it, but neither Arjin's efforts to prove himself a worthy candidate for joining nor the space anomaly in the form of a proto-universe can capture my interest.
The A-plot fails because it is about an everyday issue that is undeservedly made a big deal throughout the whole episode. Right at the beginning Arjin poses the question whether Jadzia Dax is still the same infamous field docent named Dax who "is breaking initiates". He keeps asking it, openly and implicitly, all the time. Jadzia Dax, in her strange double function as a party girl (Jadzia?) and as an austere instructor (Dax?), is sometimes more of the former and sometimes more of the latter, which naturally confuses Arjin, although he of all people should be prepared to deal with a joined Trill. This goes on and on for 45 minutes and becomes accordingly tiresome. Other than Jadzia's predictable preliminary decision not to support Arjin's application their interaction mainly consists of inconclusive talking. Even the "revelation" that Arjin may not desire to be joined as much as his father wanted it for him does not change a lot. And this is only one week after Jake had a problem telling his father that he didn't want to join Starfleet and O'Brien told Jake it was the same with his dad. The story simply remains too indifferent and insignificant.
This is a pity because I basically like how Arjin's character is set up. He is not clichéd but rather lifelike. Initially Arjin comes across as quite shy and uncomfortable; later he appears to have gained more self-confidence and he reacts to Jadzia. Arjin appears sometimes as a nerd who focuses on his work and sometimes as a smartass who thinks he knows what to do to impress Dax. It is a disappointment that his whole character eventually boils down to someone who is unsure whether he wants to accomplish something for his father or rather for himself. As much as I usually complain about "hidden secrets" or plot devices to stir up interest in a new character (such as the disability of Melora earlier this season), it would have helped with Arjin.
But speaking of plot devices, the B-plot that comes to Arjin's "rescue" is even less inspiring. Everything pertaining to the proto-universe gets drowned in technobabble. Only at one point an interesting discussion arises when Kira insinuates that destroying the proto-universe with its lifeforms would be like "stepping on ants". Of course the gallant Starfleet evades the decision and finds a better solution to the dilemma, an admittedly more Trek-like one that allows the small universe to live.
Finally, we even have something like a C-plot (actually just one scene), when Jake tells his father that he is in love with a dabo girl. It is gratuitous to come up with Jake in love at one point so late in the episode, quite possibly a last-minute rewrite to get *something* moving.
- Remarkable dialogue: "You haven't touched your racht." - "No, I have. It's interesting." - "No, you've been moved it around your plate to make it look like you've touched it." - "I didn't have to move it. It moved itself." (Dax and Arjin)
- Remarkable appearance: We see the Klingon chef from "Melora" again.
- Remarkable scene: I love the visual effects of the inside of the wormhole. Superb CGI still today.
- Remarkable species: Cardassian voles. I wouldn't really want to encounter one inside a Jefferies tube.
- Remarkable ship: This is the first of a couple of episodes to show a Sydney-class vessel upside down.
- Remarkable facts:
- Quark was once an apprentice of the District Sub-Nagus, but was fired after breaking Rule of Acquisition #112.
- Arjin says that "over the past two hundred years, Dax has personally eliminated 57 host candidates from the program."
- Over 5000 Trill host candidates qualify for the training program each year. Only 300 symbionts are available on the average.
- Rule of Acquisition #112: "Never have sex with the boss's sister."
Stardate not given: The Cardassian Professor Natima Lang, Quark's former lover, arrives at the station with two of her students for repairs on their vessel. She lies about the true cause for the damage on the ship which, in actuality, has been attacked by another Cardassian vessel. While Lang claims that they have fled Cardassia for political reasons, Garak insists on them being terrorists and urges Sisko to turn them over to the Cardassian authorities. Quark offers the students a cloaking device for their escape under the condition that Natima Lang stays behind. But Natima refuses. Meanwhile, in the course of a Bajoran-Cardassian prisoner exchange, Sisko is forced to extradite his three guests. They have been betrayed by Garak, who is now expected to kill them as a proof of his loyalty to Cardassia. But Garak kills the Cardassian officer Gul Toran instead and allows the three refugees to escape.
The very plot of "Profit and Loss" could have been turned into a "big" episode. Cardassian dissenters seek asylum on the station, Bajor insists on trading them for Bajoran prisoners, the Federation does not want to jeopardize the peace treaty with the Cardassians and Sisko grudgingly agrees, but eventually his and/or Odo's dedication to let justice come to pass allows the Cardassian refugees to escape, which leaves the Cardassians accordingly furious.
At least that is how it could have been. But instead of exploiting the conflict potential that lies in the Cardassian-Bajoran, Bajoran-Federation and Federation-Cardassian relations, the story focuses on the characters. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. However, in this story absolutely every aspect boils down to a purely personal matter. Since it's all about past and present character relationships and not at all about politics, Rekelen's and Hogue's roles remain totally insignificant, although they should have been key figures and their alleged crimes should have been subject to a more thorough investigation and discussion. Well, I like how Odo cares for justice and decides to release the prisoners because of his conviction, while the Cardassians only care for Cardassians and the Bajorans only for Bajorans. But Garak's personal motivation remains implausible, as he changes his mind about extraditing Natima and company apparently just because he hates Gul Toran so much. And while the episode does a bit in terms of character development, nothing that happens has any consequences for the aforementioned interstellar relations, at least none that seem to be worth mentioning. We don't even learn how the disappearance of Gul Toran is explained to the Cardassians!
Unlike Garak's mysterious conduct Quark's love for Natima Lang is clearly a strong motive for him to change his usual ways, and I don't think that it is out of character in his case. But it is credible only because of Armin Shimerman's and Mary Crosby's great performances. The setup for their relationship, on the other hand, is rather contrived, as they meet again after many years, with shades of "Casablanca". Well, the "Casablanca" references are still the better part of the story. The way Natima rediscovers her love for Quark is awfully stereotypical, as she first slaps his face, then does her best to ignore or repel him and recognizes that she still loves him as late as she has shot him, a change of mind as it only happens in badly written movies. Although the writing for Ferengi and in particular for Quark is generally becoming less farcical and more mature at this time of the series, I doubt that Natima's role would have been like this, had she been in love with someone else but Quark, let's say with Garak. And the more I think about it, Garak may have been the better choice as Natima Lang's ex-lover anyway. The focus on Garak may have made his conflict more plausible, only that at the time the character may have been deemed too little developed. A few episodes later "The Wire" will have Garak in a lead role though.
- Nitpicking: The station abounds with Cardassian phasers. Lang, Garak, Toran, everyone seems to be free to run around with a weapon. And there are no weapon fire detectors anywhere.
- Remarkable quote: "So, how well does this woman know you? Just enough to dislike you, or well enough to really hate you?" (Odo, to Quark)
- Remarkable dialogue: "I never told you this, Odo, but I consider you as dear to me as my brother." - "And I've seen how well you treat him." (Quark and Odo)
- Remarkable scene: I like the scene when Garak talks to Quark about following a fashion and about "fashion victims" and actually implies that Natima Lang is in danger because she sympathizes with Rekelen and Hogue.
- Remarkable facts:
- Quark has been on the station for more than seven years. Natima Lang once saved him from prosecution when he sold food to the Bajorans.
- Cloaking devices are highly illegal under Bajoran law.
- Rule of Acquisition #223: (Quark is cut off before he can recite it).
Stardate not given: The three old Klingons Kang, Kor and Koloth arrive at the station. After many decades they have gathered again to fulfill a blood oath to slay the Albino, a Klingon criminal who once murdered the firstborn sons of each of the three men. Curzon, as the godfather of Kang's son, swore to join them. Jadzia feels obliged to obey Curzon's oath, but Kang initially refuses to let her come with them. When he eventually agrees, Jadzia tells the reluctant Sisko that upon her return she would face whatever disciplinary consequences the excursion should have. The three arrive at the Albino's hiding place where Kang reveals that they have come to die with honor. But Jadzia convinces them to fight to win. After Koloth has been mortally wounded, they corner the Albino, and with his last breath Kang kills his mortal enemy when Jadzia hesitates.
I have mixed feelings about this episode. It does condemn killing for the sake of vengeance on several occasions, especially in Jadzia's two discussions with Kira and with Sisko. Still, Jadzia doesn't really make up her mind about it.
I still like how Jadzia's dilemma is worked out initially. She knows that vengeance is wrong, but she also owes it to her three friends. It is a conflict between Federation and Klingon ethics but also between her present duties and her past commitments. And although the three Klingons, perhaps with the exception of Kor, would have respect for her decision to stay behind (especially Kang who knows for sure it will be a suicide mission), she decides to join them and face all the possible consequences, of which death seems to be the most likely, followed by dishonorable discharge from Starfleet. Perhaps that was a bold decision from the part of the producers, although Worf already did something similar in TNG: "Redemption".
In this regard, however, I dislike how Dax eventually cheats her way through the battle. Her ideas to use tetryon particles to disable the guards' weapons and to create a diversion with explosives give her a chance to win the battle in the first place and are still in line with Starfleet's principles. So far, so good. But if I remember correctly, Jadzia doesn't kill a single guard, at least not consciously. Although she has made the whole slaughter possible in the first place, she is still trying to keep a clean record of killing. Granted, if I were in her place, I too would have a huge problem killing mercenaries I have no business with, but then I wouldn't have joined my friends in such a fight in the first place. Finally, when it is up to her to cut the Albino's throat she hesitates (which Kang ironically mistakes as Jadzia waiting for him to deliver the death blow). Considering how much she too must hate the cowardly child murderer and that everyone around has been slaughtered for the very purpose to kill him, how could she wait only a millisecond? Her hesitation doesn't earn her redemption after all that has happened. Rather than her own late moment of doubt, Sisko's and Kira's reactions to Jadzia after her return on the station set the record of this episode straight. I am glad that this small final scene was included.
The appearances of Kor, Koloth and Kang are certainly a highlight of the episode. Although the three Klingons don't have much in common with the ones of TOS any longer (and I'm not just speaking of their looks), the characters are worked out very well. Kor, the drunkard, who is not open to reason and lives in the past, but who still has the warrior spirit. Koloth, the "stoneface", who is stubbornly and stoically working towards his goals. Kang, the diplomat and procrastinator, who is worried about Dax's welfare above all.
- Kang, Koloth and Kor all have the typical 24th century Klingon forehead ridges, unlike in their appearances in TOS. According to the Deep Space Nine Companion the production staff toyed with the idea to let the Klingons have smooth foreheads but decided against it.
- Kor, Koloth and Kang are revered among their people. They have a ship. Would it be a problem for them to get few dozen Klingon warriors to join them? Why would they choose to die in a hopeless battle without the slightest chance to only hurt their mortal enemy when they can boost their chances of killing him?
- Remarkable quote:"It is a good day to die." (Kor)
- Remarkable appearances: We previously saw Kor (John Colicos) in TOS: "Errand of Mercy", Koloth (William Campbell) in TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles" and Kang (Michael Ansara) in TOS: "Day of the Dove".
- Remarkable facts:
- 80 years ago, three Klingon warships were sent to stop the Albino, who was raiding Klingon colonies. One of the captains was Kang, a close friend of Curzon's. The Albino escaped, and in his last message to the Klingons, he promised to take his revenge on the firstborn of each of the three captains. A few years later, he kept his word. Somehow, he infected the three innocent children with a genetic virus that killed them. One of them was Kang's son Dax, Curzon's godson.
- New Trill hosts have no obligation to past commitments.
Stardate not given: The Cardassian freighter Bok'Nor explodes while departing from Deep Space 9. When Jadzia Dax suspects that it was a terrorist act, Starfleet sends Lieutenant Commander Calvin Hudson, an old friend of Sisko's, to investigate the case, which endangers the fragile peace treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians. Gul Dukat claims that Federation colonists are conducting terrorist acts against the Cardassians in the newly established Demilitarized Zone. Soon Sisko and Dukat witness how Federation ships destroy two Cardassian vessels. Moreover, O'Brien finds out that the device that caused the explosion of the Bok'Nor was of Federation origin. Then Dukat is kidnapped from Deep Space 9. When Sisko, Kira and Bashir follow the traces of the kidnappers into a border region called the Badlands, they find a group of resistance fighters, the Maquis, their leader being no one else but Calvin Hudson. Hudson escapes and Sisko decides not yet to inform Starfleet of his friend's betrayal. Meanwhile, it seems clear that the Cardassians are breaking the treaty by smuggling weapons into the Demilitarized Zone. Sisko manages to free Dukat and take prisoners. He sides with the Cardassian officer, who appears to have lost the support of his superiors. Together they foil a Maquis attack on a Cardassian colony that serves as a weapons depot. When just Sisko's and Hudson's vessels are still operational, Sisko allows his old friend to escape.
"The Maquis" is a pivotal double episode, as it continues the story of the foreseeable border conflict in TNG: "Journey's End" and introduces the Maquis as a group of Federation settlers who feel let down in the wake of the peace treaty. They decide to fight for their freedom on their own, against the Cardassians and if necessary against Starfleet as well. This intricate situation puts Starfleet's officers to a test. What is more important, their orders from Starfleet Command, the fundamental rights of the settlers, or the preservation of peace? For some officers this becomes a trial of their loyalty, and of old friendships. However, despite this intriguing premise the two-part episode leaves me a bit disappointed.
The first part consists of exposition, exposition and more exposition. It is accordingly long-winded. Sisko's friendship to Cal Hudson, the Federation-Cardassian relations, the situation of the settlers in the DMZ and even facts that should be well-established such as Vulcan and Ferengi "cultural idiosyncrasies" -- everything is explained with too many words at the expense of story advancement. In retrospect it appears like the first part is essentially made up of Sisko and Hudson, Sisko and Dukat, and Quark and Sakonna exchanging pleasantries without getting anything moving. There are some nice pieces of dialogue, but the directing is rather stale. Little is done to create tension and diversion except for the twists that are already in the script. I'd give this part no more than three points, were it a separate episode.
The second part is a massive improvement. Not only does it have some more action, it also deepens and broadens the conflict the way I would have expected it already halfway through the first part. In the second part there are a couple of scenes I quite like. For instance, Legate Parn's attempt to deny any involvement of the Central Command, putting the blame on Dukat and a small group of "misguided officers" as scapegoats. Or the scene in the cave when Sakonna attempts in vain to acquire the information about the weapon shipments from Dukat through a mind meld, whereupon Dukat ridicules the Maquis for not being ready to torture him. Or Quark's intriguingly simple explanation to Sakonna that in the current situation peace would be cheap. I also cherish that Sisko, at any time, acts according to the principles of Starfleet (even though he may have broken a rule when he defers the report about Hudson's defection). He is a bright exception in situation where everyone else appears to take positions that would only aggravate the conflict. Six points for the second part.
A point of criticism that applies to both parts of the episode is the literal restlessness of the story. Sisko and various other characters are going to the DMZ time and time again. They meet up with their opponents in a village, in a jungle, in a cave, in the village again, in open space and in other nameless places that I may have missed. This road movie concept does just the contrary of creating suspense. The narrative lacks a focal point in a geographical sense, just as it doesn't have a real point of culmination. Also, it is a pity that we don't see more of the actual fighting between the Cardassians and the Federation settlers, which would not only have provided more eye candy but would also have made the conflict more palpable. It particularly feels like a bottle show when, in the first part, wee just see how Sisko and Dukat watch symbols on the computer screen, as the Cardassians attack a Federation vessel and are ultimately destroyed by the Maquis.
I don't care much for Calvin Hudson's character that in my view remains unremarkable. I don't really get the impression that he and Sisko have been close friends, and their talking about old times feels rather contrived. Cal Hudson ought to have been introduced in a previous episode for his friendship to Sisko and his betrayal to have more of an impact.
The very idea of the Maquis is great, and their full potential will become apparent in the course of several more episodes until the fifth season. Overall, while the Maquis have named themselves for the French Resistance against the Nazis, the much more fitting historical analogy is that of people who, after an inequitable peace treaty, suddenly find themselves on the "wrong" side of the border. In a new country that strives to get rid of the minority by open discrimination (as it happened in Europe after WWI) or forceful expulsion (as it happened after WWII). And as the the members of the minority are struggling for acceptance or even for their survival, they may become a bit like their oppressors and resort to violence.
- Nitpicking: It seems to be no problem, neither for the Cardassian military nor for Starfleet to enter the Demilitarized Zone with armed ships and beam down to planets with phasers.
- Remarkable fun dialogue: "I'm having dinner with Captain Boday." - "The Gallamite? You're going out on a date with him?" - "Is something wrong with that?" - "No. Not at all." - "He happens to be brilliant. His brain is twice the size of yours and mine." - "I know. I've seen it." (Dax and Kira)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "The Cardassians would love to have their colonies in our territory. Because they knew we'd protect them. But they have no intention of doing the same for ours." (Calvin Hudson)
- "I can tell you one thing for certain. The Cardassians are the enemy, not your own colonists, and if Starfleet can't understand that, then the Federation is even more naive than I already think it is." (Kira)
- "On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive whether it meets with Federation approval or not." (Sisko)
- "Vulcans are a species that appreciate good ears." (Quark)
- The peace treaty and the redefinition of the Federation-Cardassian border was established in TNG: "Journey's End", which aired only a few weeks earlier. Even the motive of Native American settlers is taken from the TNG episode, but it is an oversight that their planet Dorvan V is not referred to.
- On Cardassia, the verdict is known prior to the tribunal. An odd idea of justice that O'Brien will experience in "Tribunal" a few episodes later.
- The Bok'Nor is destroyed using an implosive protomatter device. Protomatter was previously mentioned in "Star Trek II/III" and also in DS9: "Second Sight".
- Remarkable facts:
- The Maquis and the Badlands are mentioned and shown for the first time.
- Cardassians are said to have a photographic memory.
- Remarkable planetscape: For Volon II a matte painting of Tau Cygna V in TNG: "The Ensigns of Command" was re-used.
- Rule of Acquisition #214: "Never begin a business negotiation on an empty stomach.", #3: "Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to."
Stardate not given: Julian Bashir witnesses how Garak suffers from unbearable pain. Later, the Cardassian collapses in Quark's bar. Bashir determines that an implant is responsible for the pain attacks, apparently designed by the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence service, to punish their agents. But Garak reveals that the true purpose of the device, which he received from Enabran Tain, the head of the Obsidian Order, is to induce pleasure, in order to be able to sustain torture. During his exile he has been overusing the implant and become addicted to it, and now it malfunctions. Saying that he deserves the pain for betraying his friend Elim, Garak begins to fantasize. Bashir receives the specifications of the device when he visits Enabran Tain. Tain also tells him that Elim is actually Garak's first name. Upon Bashir's return to the station the convalesced Garak reaffirms that all the stories about his exile were true - especially the lies.
I don't find this episode particularly entertaining but quite insightful. "The Wire" tells a decent story and expands the role of Elim Garak in the series. Nothing more and nothing less. And it does so in an unusually straightforward fashion. I'm glad it was done this way, because with unnecessary sidetracking, in the form of a B-plot or by involving more of the regular characters, some fine tones that the directing was allowed to work out may have got lost in the process. "The Wire" demonstrates how the limitations of a bottle show may be turned into an advantage.
This episode most of all thrives on Andrew Robinson's great performance as Garak. For the first time his character is in the focus of interest, and is more than just the mysterious Cardassian who had to stay behind for unknown reasons, who chums up with Bashir against all odds and who still cannot be trusted. After one and a half seasons it was about time to explore the character of Garak instead of just having him in the show in some fashion. Even though it is clear since "Cardassians" and "Profit and Loss" that the role was growing, we didn't see many different facets of Garak so far. He used to be a person who would always hide his true intentions and even more so his feelings behind his talking. This portrayal was quite consistent, almost up to the point that it was becoming stereotypical. As if it were to make up for the previous inattention to Garak's character, "The Wire" runs the whole gamut of emotions in one episode: defiance, disgust, pleasure, pain, desperation, repentance, rage, gratefulness. Ironically, although he lets out his feelings this time and although we see and hear much more of Garak than ever before, he remains the mystery he always was. We can't tell which of the various versions of his past is true, if any. We don't learn the very reason why he was exiled, whether it was deserved or not. Yet, we understand how Garak feels about it.
I also like Siddig El Fadil in this episode, who is quite convincing with his grim determination as a doctor who does everything to help his patient, even more so since he considers this patient a friend. Kudos also to Paul Dooley as Enabran Tain. He only appears in the last few minutes but he leaves quite an impression.
"The Wire", just like TNG: "Symbiosis", is a clear allegory to the drug addiction problem of our time. The DS9 episode goes one step further as it show us the process of physical withdrawal in detail, something that definitely can't be fun or exciting to watch in any fashion. This is certainly a bold move, although it is getting a bit tiresome.
- Continuity: O'Brien's frequently dislocated shoulder is mentioned, as already seen in TNG: "Transfigurations".
- Remarkable dialogue: "What I want to know is of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?" - "My dear Doctor, they're all true." - "Even the lies?" - "Especially the lies." (Bashir and Garak)
- Remarkable appearance: We see Enabran Tain for the first time. He will return in "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast" and "In Purgatory's Shadow".
- Remarkable facts:
- Julian's full name is Julian Subatoi Bashir.
- The Cardassian Obsidian Order is referred to for the first time.
Stardate 47879.2: After experiencing difficulties in passing through the wormhole, Kira and Bashir find themselves in the Mirror Universe. Here a certain Spock has disposed of the cruel Captain Kirk a century earlier, and initiated a chain of events that ended in the Terran Empire being subjugated by the Cardassian-Klingon Alliance. Mirror Kira oversees the station Terok Nor of that universe, aided by Mirror Garak and Mirror Odo. Bashir is sent to work in the ore processing where he meets the disillusioned Mirror "Smiley" O'Brien who won't help him. Mirror Kira develops a strange fascination for her look-alike. However, Mirror Garak plans to get rid of Mirror Kira, using Kira to pose as her evil counterpart. He threatens to kill Bashir if she doesn't side with him. While Kira attempts in vain to convince Mirror Sisko, who has more privileges than the other humans of this universe, to support their cause, Bashir manages to kill Mirror Odo and escapes together with O'Brien. When they ae caught and about to be publicly executed, Mirror O'Brien speaks up and tells the crowd about the Mirror Universe. Now Mirror Sisko is moved and helps Kira and Bashir to escape to their universe.
"Crossover" is the first episode in an arc that continues the story of the Mirror Universe of TOS: "Mirror, Mirror". This original Mirror Universe episode was a successful attempt to create a place where everyone and everything looked nearly the same (which was also cost-saving) but turned out to be very different. "Crossover" does much the same, and adds further complication through the direct confrontation of Kira with her Mirror counterpart, an opportunity that was missed in TOS, in a possible sequel to "Mirror, Mirror". The DS9 episode blends in nicely continuity-wise as it cites the reasons for the downfall of the Terran Empire that has its roots in the TOS episode. Although the world of the 24th century is different than the one of the Kirk's time, "Crossover" draws on the established existence of the Mirror Universe. And this saves us a new explanation how the two universes can possibly be so strangely entangled that the same people are in the same place at the same time under otherwise extremely different circumstances. "Crossover" is pleasantly free of technobabble.
Perhaps even more importantly the DS9 Mirror Universe is a playground with abundant storytelling resources. The new setting gives the producers and writers carte blanche. They can change the nature of the characters and kill them off (such as Quark and Odo) without the need to care about the consequences. On the downside, the Mirror Universe is designed as a filthy caricature of our universe, where everyone is obsessed with power, profit and sex all the time. The Mirror characters are over the top. They are not written to appear as particularly credible and lasting in the first place, and need to be taken with a grain of salt. "Crossover" still attempts to maintain a general seriousness through, while the later installments will rely too much on the then established inherent clichés of that universe, resulting in increasingly inappropriate slapstick-like humor.
In "Crossover" it is still irony all over the place. It is ironic to start with that Spock's attempts to reform the Terran Empire for the better led to its destruction and to the enslavement of the people that Spock wanted to free from their oppressors. Also, this universe's Odo and Quark have switched places in some respects. Odo cites "Rules of Obedience" (#14 reads "No Joking."), while Quark has developed a sense of justice when he helps Terran workers escape from the station. Even the Kira from our universe chimes in when she claims that the Quark on her side is a close friend.
I appreciate very much how all of the characters of the Mirror Universe are worked out. Smiley is the intimidated and lethargic counterpart of our O'Brien, although some aspects of his personality are definitely the same, such as his grumpiness and sound skepticism. Mirror Sisko, on the other hand, is a quite a departure from the Sisko we know in his role as the Intendant's Terran love slave, at least up to the point when the newcomers open his eyes. Furthermore, only one week after "The Wire", we see yet another different Garak. However, the unquestionable highlight of the episode is the Intendant. Nana Visitor's performance is just brilliant. She is great as always in her role "our" Kira, and absolutely lovely as the Intendant, the perhaps most playful villain in the history of Star Trek. It is just fun to watch her and our Kira's reactions to her. I only don't like the Intendant's long monologue after Julian and O'Brien have been apprehended, when she addresses the two Terrans personally, expresses her disappointment with them, asks them why they chose to run away and even bothers to listen. The whole scene with her feigned compassion and their justification is just too stagy. And I don't feel how this could convince Sisko to change his mind.
On a curious side note, Kira and Bashir, who never had a lot of common business so far, are talking about burying the hatchet in the beginning (referring to Bashir's disrespectful attitude in "Emissary" that put Kira off). Bashir then invites Kira to dinner, which she interprets as an attempt to hit on her. In real life, Nana Visitor and Siddig El Fadil would soon become (or already were?) romantically involved.
- Remarkable dialogue: "So, are we close friends on your side?" - "Yeah. As a matter of fact, we are. On my side, Quark does me a lot of favors." (Mirror Quark and Kira)
- Remarkable sequels: The story will be continued in "Through the Looking Glass", "Shattered Mirror", "Resurrection" and "The Emperor's New Cloak". Star Trek: Enterprise will return to the Mirror Universe in "In a Mirror, Darkly", albeit to its 23rd century.
- Remarkable facts:
- Intendant Kira explains to her counterpart from our universe: "Almost a century ago, a Terran starship Captain named James Kirk accidentally exchanged places with his counterpart from your side due to a transporter accident. Our Terrans were barbarians then, but their empire was strong. While your Kirk was on this side, he met a Vulcan named Spock and somehow had a profound influence on him. Afterwards, Spock rose to Commander-in-Chief of the Empire by preaching reforms, disarmament, peace. It was quite a remarkable turnabout for his people. Unfortunately for them, when Spock had completed all these reforms, his empire was no longer in any position to defend itself against us."
- The Alliance classifies Terrans with Greek letters, "Theta" being a higher category than "Lambda".
Stardate not given: Bajor is going to elect a new Kai, the religious leader of the planet. The intriguer Vedek Winn runs against the clear favorite Vedek Bareil. But then a Cardassian collaborator named Kubus is offered amnesty by Winn in exchange for information about the Kendra Valley massacre, in which the Cardassians murdered 43 members of the Bajoran Resistance, including Kai Opaka's son. The monk Prylar Bek revealed their whereabouts to the Cardassians and then committed suicide. The communication records seem to indicate that it was Bareil who ordered the monk to do so, in order to avert a worse disaster, because the Cardassians would have killed more than a thousand village inhabitants searching for the resistance cell. Bareil withdraws from the election. After Winn has been declared the new Kai, Kira discovers that Bareil is not the true collaborator. He covers up the decision of Kai Opaka, who sacrificed her own son for the benefit of her people.
Although the plot is an interesting one and a significant one in the larger context of the series, the uninspired writing and directing turns "The Collaborator" into an overall lackluster episode. It joins the ranks of most other episodes with Bajoran politics in the focus in the course of which I was waiting in vain for something exciting to happen or for the guest characters (Kubus in this case) to become more interesting.
I like how the criminal case unfolds and how Kira and Odo work together, even with Quark, to expose the collaborator. But there should have been more of a conflict between Kira and Winn and perhaps between Kira and Bareil as well. I think Kira is too composed all the time. After all she knows that Winn was behind the attempted assassination of Bareil in "In the Hands of the Prophets", and she normally has no mercy for collaborators or for any other people who harm the interests of the Bajoran people, even if she stirs up a hornets' nest. On the other hand, perhaps it was a good idea to ease the tension between Kira and Winn a little bit and create a situation in which they forge an uneasy alliance.
In any case I like the unusually daring twist that in the end no one else but the revered Kai Opaka turns out to be the actual collaborator, who sacrificed even her own son in exchange for the lives of the people in the Kendra Valley. The outcome of the episode is a sad ending in which Bareil takes the responsibility for the massacre to preserve the reputation of Kai Opaka, making way for the person who attempted to kill him to become Kai. Bareil's sacrifice reminds me of Worf's dishonoring in TNG: "Sins of the Father", when he was forced to accept his family's guilt for the Khitomer massacre for the greater good.
- Remarkable dialogue: "All right, what's going on? You want something from me, don't you?" - "How'd you guess?" - "It's simple. We've been here more that a minute and we haven't insulted him, threatened him or arrested him." (Quark, Kira, Odo)
- Remarkable scene: When Kira tells Odo that she loves Bareil, his reaction is strangely evasive. This may be taken as a sign that he himself is in love with her, as he would reveal to a fake Kira in the third-season episode "Heart of Stone". Then again, it may be simply a problem of him dealing with emotions of humanoids that he does not yet understand at the time.
- Remarkably realistic technology: I like how O'Brien combines data fragments to reconstruct a retinal image that turns out to be Bareil's. I also like that he explains the procedure to Kira without technobabble.
- Remarkable fact: All members of the Bajoran puppet regime that collaborated with the Cardassians were banned from Bajor in the Ilvian Proclamation.
- Rule of Acquisition #285: "No good deed ever goes unpunished."
Stardate 47944.2: Briefly after meeting Boone, his old friend from the USS Rutledge, O'Brien leaves the station with Keiko for a vacation. But the Cardassians kidnap the chief and put him on trial. The Cardassian trial is just a confirmation of a verdict that has been fabricated in advance. Without even knowing the charges against him, O'Brien is told that he is guilty and has been sentenced to death. Under Cardassian law, Odo is allowed to act as O'Brien's nestor during the tribunal, whereas defendant's "lawyer" Kovat only attempts to make him confess his guilt. On Deep Space 9, Bashir and Dax find out that Boone has stolen warheads from a weapons locker and transported them to the chief's runabout, to supply them to the Maquis as it seems, using a recording of O'Brien's voice to trick the security system. But Boone is not a member of the Maquis. Bashir discovers that he is a surgically altered Cardassian. With this proof Sisko enters the Cardassian courtroom where Judge Makbar swiftly decides to release O'Brien to spare the Cardassian Union the embarrassment about the feigned criminal case.
It is curious how a single line from Dukat in "The Maquis, Part II", that on Cardassia the verdict always comes before the trial, was the seed for an entire episode. DS9, with its literally stationary setting, thereby proves that it can draw on established facts and grow organically, without the need to introduce always new races and places. The same can't be said about the guest characters, however. I don't care much for Boone, who is a disposable traitor figure that suddenly shows up just as Kubus in "The Collaborator". O'Brien bumps into Boone the same way as Kubus "coincidentally" appeared on the station just as Kira was talking with Winn. Kovat, on the other hand, is a quite inspired and inspiring character as someone who is totally convinced of and even enthusiastic about the absurdity that is the Cardassian law system and still doesn't appear like a stereotypical fanatic.
"Tribunal" works very well as a courtroom drama that condemns show trials, but I'm not entirely pleased with the story. We can always take for granted that Miles is innocent, that he would rather die than pretend repentance, and that all evidence was fabricated anyway, which takes away much of the tension and doesn't really appear realistic. Instead of taking the effort and the risk of feigning O'Brien's theft of the warheads that he was purportedly going to deliver to the Maquis, I wonder why the Cardassians wouldn't simply accuse him of being a war criminal. Considering that they already broke quite a few intergalactic laws by ambushing his runabout in open space, it shouldn't have been a big problem for them to get Cardassian soldiers for false testimonies against O'Brien. The Cardassian line of reasoning and O'Brien's defense may have been somewhat more interesting, had he been accused of murdering Cardassians in the war, and had he been told sooner why he was on trial (which would not have been in conflict with Dukat's line about Cardassian justice). At long last, O'Brien's experiences in the war, his "past criminal record", comes into play in the final minutes of his testimony, along with the mutual racism. But it is too late to give this episode another, possibly more profound direction.
- Continuity: Picard's experience as a prisoner of the Cardassians were quite similar in TNG: "Chain of Command". When O'Brien was looking into the light pointed at his face, I was almost expecting a re-issue of the "four lights" game.
- Nitpicking: How can Sisko intrude into the Cardassian courtroom so easily, just in time to save O'Brien by having the Cardassian agent Boone accompany him? Just like the judge evidently knows Boone, every guard around appears to have recognized Sisko's "admission ticket" immediately.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Once again, justice will be done. Our lives will be reaffirmed, safe and secure. Here on Cardassia, all crimes are solved, all criminals are punished, all endings are happy. Even the poorest of our subjects can walk the streets in the dead of night in perfect safety. You're only one man, but your conviction will be a salutary experience for millions." (Kovat)
- "I regret that I have no teeth to offer your Bureau of Identification." (Odo)
- Remarkable dialogue: "What happened? What?" - "You won." - "I? They'll kill me." (Kovat and Odo)
- Remarkable scene: Aas Sisko steps out of his office and expresses his relief that O'Brien has eventually left for his vacation, the worried chief reverses the turbolift until his head appears just above the floor level, because there is still something important he wants the commander to know.
Stardate not given: Ben Sisko plans a cozy excursion to a planet in the Gamma Quadrant with his son Jake. But Jake asks Nog to come with them for a common science project and finally even Quark joins the vacationers. While the unfortunate commander keeps arguing with Quark, the two boys go explore the woods. Eris, a timid humanoid woman appears and tells Sisko and Quark that she is being chased by ruthless soldiers of the Dominion called the Jem'Hadar. The Jem'Hadar appear out of the blue and take the three people prisoners. While confined in a forcefield, Sisko attempts to remove a collar from Eris's neck that blocks her telekinetic abilities, which would otherwise allow her to disable the forcefield. In the meantime Jake and Nog have beamed up to the runabout, but they don't manage to disengage the autopilot. Third Talak'talan, the leader of the Jem'Hadar group, materializes on Deep Space 9 to announce that the Dominion will no longer tolerate ships traversing the wormhole and that Sisko is a prisoner of the Dominion. The USS Odyssey under Captain Keogh arrives and, escorted by the two other runabouts, enters the Wormhole to rescue the commander. O'Brien beams to the third runabout with Jake and Nog, and he beams up Sisko, Quark and Eris, who have finally managed to release the lock of Eris's collar. Jem'Hadar ships appear and attack the Starfleet vessels. One of them rams and destroys the Odyssey in a suicide run, while the three runabouts escape through the wormhole. Back on the station Quark discovers that the collar is a fake. Eris's telekinetic abilities were never blocked. She is a member of the Dominion herself and disappears before she can be arrested.
"The Jem'Hadar" introduces the much-anticipated Dominion with more excitement than the Bajorans or Cardassians could possibly provide. It almost feels like a two-part episode. It starts off as a light-hearted excursion into the wilderness with some minor quibbles and ends with the most thrilling space battle in the series so far, with the destruction of a capital ship on the hands of seemingly invincible new enemies. The Dominion is a very serious threat, with the Jem'Hadar's impervious shields, their ability to penetrate Federation forcefields, their cloaking and the psychokinetic powers of the Vorta. Unfortunately most of these technological and biological advantages will vanish in future episodes, and the Dominion will become a rather conventional enemy that can and needs to be defeated with phasers and photon torpedoes.
Some fans have raised the issue whether the Federation and other Alpha Quadrant powers may be guilty of causing the conflict in the first place, by violating Dominion space. But I don't think that the Federation, the Bajorans or the Ferengi did anything wrong at any time. Firstly, there is always a chance to negotiate. If the Dominion just wanted all Alpha Quadrant aliens to leave their space, they could have more or less kindly asked them to go away instead of dastardly hiding and spying on the newcomers for months, only to find a good opportunity for a sneak attack. Secondly, the Dominion claims space that was quite obviously unclaimed so far. They never had anything in the space just beyond the Bajoran Wormhole or on nearby planets to corroborate or only signal their claim, such as beacons or flagpoles, let alone settlements or outposts. This space belonged to no one but the indigenous planet civilizations before it suddenly became strategically important to the Dominion for
the conquest of the Alpha Quadrant the defense of the Gamma Quadrant.
Besides the conflict with the Dominion it is a recurring theme of this episode that Quark complains about human and particularly about Sisko's arrogance and racism, with no one else but he himself being the prime victim. Well, Quark does have a point, considering that Sisko initially didn't want Jake to have Ferengi friends like Nog and is still uncomfortable with it. But Quark effectively fabricates most of the evidence he is using against Sisko, and for not so noble purposes, as he wants the commander to agree on his business proposal to show ads on the station's monitors. The impact of this B-plot could have been stronger under different circumstances, if Sisko had consciously offended Quark and if their dispute had not been overshadowed by the much more severe Jem'Hadar threat. Anyway, I like how Quark's instinct and abilities help Sisko in this crisis. Even if it doesn't prove Quark's claims, it shows that sometimes we need to listen to people with unusual approaches instead of going by the book.
- What will happen to the psychokinetic powers of the Vorta? None of the Vorta in future episodes will have any supernatural powers. This will be a prerogative of the Founders.
- The Dominion has obviously gathered valuable intelligence on the Alpha Quadrant. What could they still learn from the whole mumbo-jumbo involving Eris, in her role as the alleged prisoner of the Dominion? If they wanted to deploy another spy, they should have been much more discreet. And considering that the Federation might have learned a little bit on the Dominion as well, wasn't a Vorta a bad choice anyway?
- Remarkable dialogue: "I don't know who they are, but they don't look friendly." - "I wish we could get closer." - "I don't think they'll look any friendlier close up." (Nog and Jake)
- Remarkable quote: "But you're overlooking something. Humans used to be a lot worse than the Ferengi. Slavery, concentration camps, interstellar wars. We have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We're nothing like you. We're better. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lock to pick." (Quark)
- Rule of Acquisition #102: "Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever."