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With such a dramatic episode title, can we be blamed for expecting more?

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Josh and I watched this with Jeannine who lives 2000 miles away. We synchronized our playback and then chatted while the episode was playing…

8:10 PM

Joshua has joined

Jeannine has joined

me: okay, we’re cued up and ready to press play baby

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S01E15: Progress

Kira’s loyalties are tested again! She has spent her whole life fighting the oppressive Cardassian occupation in order to help people who were too weak or powerless to help themselves. And now she finds herself on the other side of that equation. Now it’s the Bajoran government, which she represents, that seems to be the oppressor, and a lone farmer and his mute farmhands who are the oppressed.

As Mr. Spock would say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Clearly the rest of Bajor will benefit when the moon’s core is tapped to provide energy to Bajor. Surely a handful of farmers can be inconvenienced for the better good. But Mullibok, the Bajoran farmer who won’t leave his home on the doomed moon, has other plans.

The casting here is inspired. Brian Keith, whose four-decade-long career includes memorable roles in Disney’s The Parent Trap as well as the beloved ’60s sitcom Family Affair, plays the farmer Mullibok. He lays the crusty-old-farmer-with-a-heart-of-gold act on pretty thick with Major Kira, who is sent to remove him from the moon. Kira eventually warms to his charms and even nurses him back to health after a run-in with a couple of Bajoran security officers who try to forcibly remove him.

Despite Kira’s genuine affection for Mullibok, she knows her duty and acts accordingly. One of the most touching moments is when she says to Mullibok, “I could use a friend on Bajor; I’d like it to be you.” She cares about Mullibok while remaining resolute in her duty.

I like how we, as the audience, are not let off the hook with a happy ending. Perhaps Mullibok eventually forgives Kira. I don’t think he will be answering her calls or inviting her over for a raktajino anytime soon though!

The B story here is good too. It provides some comic relief from the emotional A story. Plus we get to learn more than we ever wanted about yamok sauce and self-sealing stem bolts! I’m glad the writers avoided the temptation to have Nog and Jake’s newly-acquired land on Bajor be the solution to Millibok’s problem. That would have been a cute and convenient way to wrap up the episode’s conflicts in 45 minutes, but it would not have had the emotional truth that the episode has now.

Major Kira consoles her friend Mullibok

Brian Keith and Nana Visitor

This is one of those rare episodes where the B story is more interesting to me than the A story. In fact, the “Storyteller” story is so silly that I’m not going to comment on it, other than to say: keep in mind how annoyed the chief is by Dr. Bashir. This will seem funny in hindsight as you progress through the series.

Now back to the B story… I really like the idea of a young, inexperienced leader showing up on the station to represent her people in a conflict that is about to explode with violence. She really feels the pressure to do the right thing not only for her people, but for the legacy of her father, their former ruler. She’s fiercely proud, and she’s not about to let anyone take advantage of her. She’s so proud in fact that she would lead her people into bloody conflict rather than accept any compromise that would make her, or her people, appear weak.

Enter Nog: “Maybe this isn’t a problem. Maybe… it’s an opportunity!” Varis learns from Nog that opportunities also often include risks, an idea repeated later by Commander Sisko. It’s unexpected that Varis would find the solution to her problem in something Nog says, and I like that. I also like the insight that it takes a teenager to talk to a teenager. If any adult had given Varis the advice that Nog had given, Varis may not have been as receptive to it. Of course, the writers were careful not to make Varis or the resolution of her problems that simplistic. She herself says that it was Jake’s insight that allowed her to come to trust Sisko. She never loses sight of the importance of her role and her mission, or of the role that Sisko will play in helping her negotiate a settlement.

This whole storyline is crafted so well, from inception to resolution. The story of the chief and the doctor fighting pyrotechnics down on Bajor just seems silly in comparison.

S01E13: Battle Lines

I really like this episode. Camille Saviola returns as Kai Opaka, the supreme religious leader of Bajor. The opening teaser here is pretty funny. I love how Major Kira reacts to the contents of her Cardassian file! I also like how Sisko gets her to snap out of it.

I don’t know what it is about Camille Saviola, but I find her portrayal of the Kai to be very convincing. She says so much by saying so little. She wastes no words or motions, so that when she does speak, you know it’s important.

Kai Opaka

Camille Saviola as Kai Opaka

I find it poignant that, as the episode goes on, you realize that the reason she was behaving so mysteriously is that she knew she was going to her death, or at least to a change in her circumstances. She knew her destiny was not on Bajor.

I also like how Kira grows by the end of this episode. Her experience on the prison moon helps her get closer to moving on from her violent past.

Notes:

  • Chief O’Brien talks about building a “magnetomer” to find the Yangtzee Kiang, but I don’t know what that is. Perhaps he meant “magnetometer“?

S01E12: Vortex

Wow, talk about shades of grey. I’m not sure I agree with the outcome of this episode. Was justice served? I guess Croden was acting in self-defense when he killed the Miradorn Ro-Kel. And I guess we’re supposed to feel all warm inside that he did it all for his daughter. But I worry that this episode is putting forward the argument that the ends justify the means. Maybe it’s merely suggesting that you find out all the facts before making a judgment.

Anyway, we finally get some tantalizing clues about Odo’s origins, though they don’t amount to much: just some rumors and legends, and an amulet with a shape-shifting key that could be somehow related to Odo’s people. But Odo’s interest, as well as my own, was certainly piqued. It’s yet another gamma-quadrant mystery waiting to be solved!

I enjoyed the moment when Odo is questioning Quark and Rom after Croden kills Ro-Kel. Odo chooses his questions carefully, leaving certain things unspoken… until Rom decides to connect the dots and speak up:

Rom: How DARE you suggest that my brother set up this robbery!

Odo: What an interesting theory, Rom!

Rom is always good for some extra comic relief!

S01E11: The Nagus

Like the last episode, this one opens with a conversation between Cdr. Sisko and his son Jake. This sets up the B story, which involves Jake and his Ferengi friend Nog. The A story also involves the Ferengi, making this a “Ferengi episode.”

Josh and I were pretty excited to watch this one, as it introduces us to a Ferengi VIP, Grand Nagus Zek, played by the excellent Wallace Shawn who will reprise the role with much hilarity as the series continues. Consider this a warm-up. We get some deep insight into Ferengi culture, but the laughs aren’t as plentiful as they will be in later episodes with the Grand Nagus.

I like the interplay here between the A story and the B story. Sisko tries to explain to Jake how different the Ferengi are, and how they don’t share human values. The various machinations on display between Zek, his son, his various sycophants, and Quark serve to illustrate those cultural differences pretty clearly. The resolution of the Jake/Nog story here is touching and provides a nice counterpoint to the ruthless behavior of the adult Ferengi in the A story.

Quark and Grand Nagus Zek

"I was really looking forward to retirement!"

Notes:

  • GREAT makeup on Wallace Shawn. Awesome ear hair!
  • Tube grubs? “Perfectly chilled!”
  • That weird creature that Quark is petting while holding court turns this scene into a combination of The Godfather and Return of the Jedi.

S01E10: Move Along Home

Aliens arrive on DS9 and involve the station’s crew in a game of Jumanji! Wow, what a muddle. It all starts off well enough with a lovely father-and-son scene between Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton who we haven’t seen much of since the episode “Babel”.

We soon learn that a formal delegation from a race in the Gamma Quadrant will be arriving on the station. Sisko is in his dress uniform, but Dr. Bashir… can’t find his. So Sisko gives him a dressing down (no pun intended), which he punctuates by barking “clear!” Bashir murmurs his assent. What I find interesting is that Sisko did this in the last episode too. He was chastising the very temporary (two episodes!) Starfleet security officer Lt. Primmin about being guests of the Bajorans and about learning a thing or two from Odo. He was actually talking in a perfectly normal tone of voice until the end, when he abruptly barks “CLEAR!” Not “clear?” or “is that clear?”, but “CLEAR!” What show does he think he’s on, E.R.? Maybe Avery Brooks is trying to give Sisko some catch phrases, like Picard’s “make it so.”

Anyway, in walk the aliens, and you’re thinking, “I’ve seen him before!” It’s character acter Joel Brooks! I looked him up and was surprised to find that this is the ONLY Star Trek episode he’s ever been in. His face looks so familiar that I could have sworn he was in others (as different characters of course).

I find this episode frustrating because it is set up like a mystery, but solving it isn’t any fun. Where exactly ARE Sisko et al when they are trying to find their way out of the game? Are they in a holodeck on the alien ship? Are they somehow IN that inverted pyramid in Quark’s? Does it matter? Probably not. After all, it’s “just a game!”

You know how pissed off Sisko and the others are when they find out it was all a game, and they weren’t in any real danger? You know how irritated they look because they just had their time wasted? That’s how I feel after watching this episode.

Episode Summaries

As you probably noticed, I am not attempting to provide complete episode summaries as part of my articles. These can be found all over the Internet. If you need a recommendation for where to go, I’d like to direct you to Memory Alpha. They have tons of info about everything Star Trek, and it’s all user-contributed!

Julian Bashir’s arrogance and naïveté are on display again in the opening scenes of this episode. Poor guy; you can’t help but laugh. I love how Kira is on the verge of losing it when more important things suddenly require her attention.

I have to give the writers a little bit of credit for coming up with an interesting premise. I like the idea of a character that is so driven and determined in his goals that he finds a way to cheat death to carry them out. What I don’t care for is that this turns into YET ANOTHER Star Trek episode featuring some twist on alien abduction/possession/mind control. The Original Series and The Next Generation have more than their fair shares of these kinds of episodes. Fortunately, we don’t have to sit through very many of them when watching Deep Space Nine, notwithstanding the current topic of discussion.

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