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S01E08: Dax

Oh yeah, this is the good stuff! Now this is what I’m talking about. A pure DS9 episode that’s character-centered, with no technobabble or countdowns to disaster!

Sisko and Dax

This is just a nice episode all around. In the best of Trek traditions, it explores some interesting ideas about personhood and identity. TNG had its “Cdr. Data on Trial” episode; now it’s Dax’s turn. Only now the question isn’t “is it a person”, but “is it the SAME person?”

But first a little bit of action. I like how well thought-through this is. The abductors are using devices to override the station’s security. This has ramifications later, as it pisses off the Bajorans, who are ultimately responsible for deciding whether Dax will be extradited.

After that brief dose of action to hook you in, this episode evolves into a courtroom drama as Sisko tries to save Jadzia from extradition to a planet where she faces the death penalty. My only real issue with this episode is that Dax won’t say anything to save herself. I don’t buy it that she’s keeping some oath of secrecy that Curzon made thirty years prior.

Notes:

  • Raktagino makes its first DS9 appearance in this episode!
  • Dr. Bashir is a poorly-trained officer if his first instinct is to run into a fight where he’s outnumbered and NOT immediately call security for help. His communication device is ON HIS CHEST; how hard could it be?
  • I really like Anne Haney‘s no-nonsense Bajoran arbiter (judge). She has some good lines.
  • Fans of Lost will recognize the actress who plays Enina Tandro.
  • This actor who plays the Trill witness is like a robot. Weird.
  • It’s amusing that a recurring theme in season one is Julian Bashir’s arrogance and naïveté! Poor Dr. Bashir just walks right into that cross-examination trap.
  • “Live a long, fresh, and wonderful life!” Great line!

S01E07: Q-Less

Q and VashThis is probably my least favorite episode so far. I totally get why they wrote a Q episode. I even get why they brought back Vash, Picard’s love interest from an earlier TNG episode played by the wonderful Jennifer Ketrick. They were trying to attract TNG viewers to DS9. Unfortunately, I think this episode relies a little too much on the viewer’s good will and fondness of Q, and not enough on good storytelling. If you completely removed the Q elements and just had this story be about a trader from the other side of the wormhole bringing back artifacts of questionable origin to auction on the station, it would have been a fairly standard Trek episode, especially with its “life exists in forms you’ve never even thought of!!!” ending. The addition of Q and all his… Q-ness… makes this feel more like an episode of TNG than DS9. The sad thing is that this isn’t even good as a Q episode. All his bickering with Vash really just goes nowhere rather quickly. In a good Q episode, Q himself is funny, and the reactions he gets from others are also funny. None of it seems very funny here, which is a waste.

The funny in this episode comes from Armin Shimerman as Quark. His tête-à-têtes with Vash are entertaining as we watch to see who can out-manipulate the other! It’s a good thing Vash is well-practiced at oo-mox!

Vash performs oo-mox on Quark

"You have a talent for oo-mox!"

And here it is, folks, Deep Space Nine‘s first real Prime Directive episode. An alien life form is introduced. Some aspect of its culture is abhorrent to us. The challenge: help without interfering.

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This episode falls neatly into the well-established category of Star Trek episodes involving a mysterious disease that befalls the ship/crew, and there’s a race against time to cure it while everyone suffers whatever bizarre effects the disease causes. This time, the disease causes people to lose their ability to speak (and write) coherently or to comprehend others. At least, that’s the first symptom. Apparently the disease later leads to DEATH! Race against time!!!

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S01E04: A Man Alone

The plot of this episode isn’t very important; in fact, it’s rather silly (a murder mystery with some mumbo-jumbo about DNA and genetic drift). But this episode features some great character development. We learn more about Trills by way of conversations between Dax and Sisko, and between Dax and Bashir. We also learn more about Odo and his current relationship with the Bajorans on the station, a situation made volatile by Odo’s continuation in the role he held under the Cardassians as constable of the station. Finally, some minor mischief on the part of Jake Sisko and Quark’s nephew Nog leads Keiko O’Brien to open a school on the station, thus finding a place for herself in her new home.

I think the writers did a nice job of incorporating every major character into this episode. The characters interact in organic ways, and the different plot arcs inform each other as well. They are also doing a good job continuing to answer questions about the main characters that were set up in the pilot. In the last episode, we examined Major Kira’s loyalties. In this one, we learn a little more about Odo. Probably one of the most important things we learn about him is from his biggest nemesis on the station: Quark. Listen carefully to what Quark says in Odo’s defense. It’s not at all what you’d expect to hear, which makes their relationship so much more interesting!

More thoughts:

  • Jadzia identifies Bashir without looking at him as he walks into the room: a nod to Dune?
  • They misspelled Aron Eisenberg‘s name in the opening credits (they left out the b)
  • Sisko and Odo have a pissing contest; guess who wins?! (A safe bet would be on the commander of the station…)
  • The killer is revealed as his mask (which covers his entire head) is ripped off! A nod to Mission: Impossible?

“Doctor, you’re not… intimating… that I’m some sort of SPY, are you?!”

The opening scenes of this episode fill me with joy! One of my absolute favorite characters in this series is Andrew Robinson‘s Cardassian tailor Garak, the only Cardassian who stayed behind on the station when the Cardassians left. Often suspected of being a spy, Garak’s true nature and purpose remain a mystery throughout the seven seasons of this show. Despite Garak’s dark nature, or perhaps because of it, Garak’s scenes are often imbued with humor. The opening scenes of this episode are a perfect example. Even though we don’t know Garak at this point and only barely know Dr. Bashir, one can’t help but think that Garak is pulling the doctor’s leg, deliberately playing into Bashir’s romantic notions of spies and skulduggery. I love how the animated Bashir later runs into Ops to tell of his contact with this Cardassian “spy”, and no one is interested. Poor doctor!

But this episode is really about Major Kira. Where do her loyalties lie? She doesn’t want the Federation there, even if they are ostensibly there to help, and she is even suspicious of the provisional government on Bajor. But is she willing to act against either of them?

One theme that I will probably return to over and over in discussing this show is how it’s all about shades of gray. Nothing is black and white. There’s a great scene early in this episode between Sisko and Kira. They are arguing about what to do with a Bajoran terrorist who has requested asylum on the station. Both Sisko and Kira explain their positions to each other, and you know what? They are both right! It’s great.

I’m also impressed by how relevant this episode is to us today. Josh pointed out that one interpretation of this series has the Cardassians representing the Soviets, with Bajor representing Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But this episode deals with terrorism and our attitudes toward it. It asks the question that Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica would ask over 20 years later: how do we feel about terrorism when it’s committed in our interests? How do we feel about a terrorist when he’s on our side? Kira has to decide whether to help a supposedly former Bajoran terrorist or turn to the Federation and even the Cardassians to stop whatever he might be planning.

You may be thinking, “wow, this episode has a lot going on!” But wait, there’s more. We have the added bonus of a visit by the Klingon Duras sisters, Lursa and B’Etor!

Finally, I was tickled when Major Kira makes a classic mistake. I don’t think any news travels faster than when you attempt to go over your boss’s head. I love it when that admiral calls up Sisko at the station: “That Bajoran woman you have working for you interrupted a STAFF MEETING…” Delicious!

The pilot episode, “Emissary”, is considered to be two episodes in the numbering scheme used by Paramount. So the next episode, “Past Prologue”, was the second to air but is considered the third episode of season one. I will put the season and episode number in the titles of all further posts dealing with individual episodes. This makes it easier to search for particular entries. The format is straightforward: season one, episode three will be represented as S01E03.

The First Episode: Emissary

What a great pilot episode! I’m not sure I ever appreciated how good this pilot is. It really does a thorough job of introducing the prime players and setting up their relationships. It also establishes early on who the major political factions are and how they relate to each other. I always loved the political intricacies of DS9, something none of the other Trek series really had much of. Plus we get to go on a convincing emotional journey with Sisko that helps him close the door on one part of his life and open the door to another while setting things up for the series to move forward. View full article »