Analysis of “The Homecoming,” “The Circle,” and “The Siege”

Meredith’s Analysis: This is DS9’s three-parter, and it’s a great out-of-the gate opening for the second season. We get the most important development on Bajor yet – it really is like the wild west, full of competing factions and corruption, everyone scrambling for power in the vacuum left by Kai Opaka last season. These are the first episodes that raise, for me, a question that is ongoing throughout the series: maybe Bajor is in such disarray because everyone there spends so much time scheming and having intrigue rather than actually, you know, running Bajor? Like, when was the last time anyone on that planet filed any paperwork?

They are also the first episodes that actually show us the chaos on Bajor and make it feel real. In the first season, all of the Bajoran “unrest” consisted of groups of Bajorans on the station shuffling around and yelling, and it was kind of hard to imagine that there was a whole planet of people with an actual society experiencing actual unrest. In these episodes, the danger seems very real, and we spend the most time we’ve ever spent on Bajor. We also get some good development on the Bajoran ministers, who play an important role in the political intrigue of Bajor.

These episodes also do a great job of further developing characters (Jadzia’s weird girliness aside). Sisko is way more badass than he ever was in season 1, and you can tell Avery Brooks has found and committed to the character. Kira is much more nuanced than she’s ever been (“Duet” excepted), and the hilarious little character flourish of Irishy loving army rations is great.

I think the only real weakness here is Li Nalas, who ultimately serves his function (dying nobly and being a martyr), but who never really lives up to the hype that the rest of the characters build around him. I guess that’s sort of a point in and of itself, since he was always supposed to be a man who stumbled into legend status by accident.

Tim’s Analysis: Kai Opaka’s departure may have left a power vacuum on Bajor, but it’s not as though she was filling the space very well herself. In these episodes we learn that the power structures of Bajor are anything but settled following the departure of the Cardassians. Some hints were previously dropped along these lines and let’s face it, it’s no surprise. Bajor was under Cardassian occupation for 50 years. Functional government is not exactly something that crops up overnight. Characters talk about “unrest”, but this episode shows us that Bajor is a beehive full of civil war. Remember that Bajor has to be peaceful for a while before they can join the Federation. They’re not exactly working on that very diligently.

These episodes have some really fun parts, but my favorite is absolutely the scene in Kira’s quarters where everyone shows up at once. Intended as an homage to A Night at the Opera, it was actually filmed as one uninterrupted take, but was later broken up in editing. The timing is flawless and it’s a very light moment in an otherwise very serious story arc.

The arc itself really shows off what DS9 can do. TOS and TNG both never show us any follow up. The Enterprises get into some shenanigans, win the day and zip off on another adventure while some admiral assures the captain that it’ll be sorted out thanks to him. In this case, Sisko is told that it’ll be sorted out and that he should leave and he chooses not to.

I disagree with Meredith that Li Nalas is weak. I think he’s actually great. He represents the regular Joes on Bajor that are being jerked around by the political machinery. His legend is used to further a political agenda and in the end, he sticks around to help take it back, even without a real obligation to do so, and ends up dying bravely, only cementing the legend or confirming that he was that hero all along, maybe just not quite in the same way.

Overall, this arc is good, but it starts to drag in the middle. It probably could have been squeezed into 2 episodes if they had tried.

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DS9 Season 2, Ep3: “The Siege”

Previously on Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek: Kira rescued a Bajoan resistance leader named Li Nalas from a secret Cardassian labor camp using only her own sexiness as a weapon (and also a phaser), only to have Bajoran Minister “Richard Nixon” Jaro give Li Nalas her job when they got back. Then she was kidnapped by militant Bajoran terrorists/graffiti artists The Circle, where she learned that Minister Richard Nixon was running The Circle in order to advance his own political power. Odo learned that The Circle was being secretly supplied by the Cardassians in the hopes that they’d run off the Federation, which turned out to be a solid plan considering that a Starfleet Admiral explicitly ordered Sisko to evacuate, an order which he blew off almost completely. Meanwhile, though our heroes don’t know it yet, Minister Richard Nixon has a pact with the ever-charming Vedek Winn where he’ll make her the new Kai in exchange for her support.

Synopsis: We open about two hours after the closing of the last episode, where Sisko is in Ops discussing the planned evacuation with both main characters and extras. He says that it may be easy for the Federation to order an evacuation, but for them, the people actually there, it’s a lot harder: for example, one extra is engaged to a Bajoran dude, and another has tutored some Bajoran kids in science, and all of them have Bajoran buddies. Sisko says that everyone there has come to care about the Bajoran people, and so has he, and that is why he is not leaving the station.

The whole crowd is all, “rabble rabble rabble,” and Sisko is all, “just to oversee the evacuation of the station, for serious, guys,” and Irishy jumps in saying he needs to stay to do inventory control, and Bashir notes that packing up his medical stuff could take forever. Sisko looks around the room with a barely-concealed smile and warns everybody that they shouldn’t volunteer too quickly: he says they’ll try to delay the station takeover for as long as they can, hopefully until the Cardassians are exposed as the real force behind the unrest, and that’s going to be really hard because Bajor at large is getting the message that the Federation is a terrible enemy.

I kind of love how fast this conversation transitioned from coded to brazen, and I wonder if any of the extras are confused by it (“wait a minute, I thought I was only going to stay to help you guys bubble-wrap the glassware! What’s all this ‘hold off a takeover’ nonsense?”).

Sisko continues, saying that Minister Richard Nixon and the Circle would love to kill all of them, and he wouldn’t blame anyone for leaving while still in one piece, and that anyone who wants to evacuate now is dismissed.

Not one person leaves. Possibly because Irishy is staring them down like he he would love nothing better than to chase down and tackle anyone who tries it.

Sisko says that non-Bajorans aren’t safe on the station anymore, so everybody’s non-Starfleet personnel families will have to be evacuated, and the pro-Federation Bajorans would probably do well to do the same. He closes by reminding everyone that the assault vessels will be to the station in less than five hours.

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DS9 Season 2, Ep2: “The Circle”

Last Week on Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek: Kira discovered that legendary Bajoran resistance leader Li Nalas was alive in a labor camp on Cardassaia Four, so she requisitioned a runabout and pretended to be a prostitute to save him (it worked!). Back on the station, there’s tension surrounding a Bajoran Supremacy group known as “the Circle,” who express their agenda through viral marketing in the form of graffiti and Ferengi branding, and also Jake Sisko got turned down for a date because his lady friend du jour has a racist dad. After revealing to Sisko that he was always a shitty excuse for a hero, Li Nalas was elected to a government post with the helping hand of Bajoran Minister Richard Nixon, who revealed at the close of the show that Li would be taking over Kira’s job as station liason and Sisko’s second-in-command. Surprise!

Synopsis: We resume with Minister Jaro, whom I prefer to call Minister Richard Nixon, talking to Sisko. He says he thought Sisko would be pleased to be rid of Kira, since he’s heard through the grapevine that she’s a total dick to everyone. Sisko bristles that Kira has his complete respect (really?) and that she’s been invaluable in establishing the station (I wouldn’t go that far), and he absolutely does not appreciate this decision being made without consulting him. That last point is the only one that really matters.

It isn’t that Kira is the best officer, or that Sisko particularly likes her, although he certainly respects her more than he used to. It’s that somewhere along the line she became one of his people, and making decisions about her life without asking him is a violation of his authority. This is one of his distinctions as a captain: when main characters tried to leave the Enterprise for whatever stupid reason, Picard would be all, “oh, it so pains me to hear that, I thought we were friends. But if it will make you happy, I suppose do what you must.” Like that time Dr. Crusher resigned her commission to go live in a cottage and have a sexual relationship with a ghost, Picard only argued a little bit before letting her go, and only found out something was up when he went to check on her because he was sad. On the other hand, when Sisko’s people try to leave for any reason (with one notable exception), he’s all “did I say you were free to go? Get back to your station, we’ll have this conversation when you can be reasonable.”

Minister Nixon tries to argue that he’s actually giving Kira a promotion, and for a moment Sisko seems appeased. But of course, he isn’t, Minister Nixon has no idea who he’s fooling with. Sisko crafts an extremely threatening little metaphor, saying he’s reminded of the old Earth saying “there’s a warm wind blowing in from Minicoy.” Apparently there used to be an ambassador from Minicoy who was a blowhard, and it was indelicate to say “the Minicoian ambassador is full of shit.” See what he did there?

"Long story short, you're a liar."

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DS9 Season 2 Ep1: The Homecoming

Synopsis: We return to our favorite space station after the long summer of 1994. But they don’t have summer in space, or on the internet, so here we all are again. The camera does a slow pan through Quark’s bar, showing aliens drinking and playing Space Craps with majestic horn orchestration to remind you that you’re back in SPACE, bitches.

Aaaaaaand the season’s off to a good start, with Odo wanting to talk to Quark about a matter of some importance. Quark is both shifty and busy, and not interested in hearing Odo’s follow-up on a tip Quark gave him. Odo begrudgingly admits that Quark was right, and it led to an arrest, grumble grumble grumble. Odo can’t figure out why Quark tipped him off to illegal activity (obviously the $1000 Crimestoppers payout, Odo, duh), and he seems pretty ornery about it.

Quark says they’ve just been at each other’s throats too long, and he thinks they should work together now and be buddies and maybe invite Bashir over to play MarioKart on Saturday, which kicks Odo’s suspicion-o-meter up from a 6 to a 10. Quark reassures Odo that he’s willing to wait for Odo to trust him, and Odo scoffs before giving Quark a long, angry look and striding out of the bar.

Quark muses to Rom that he’s never seen Odo look so perplexed, and Rom says that he’s mighty perplexed himself, since the people Quark turned in were a potential source of profit.

“Must I quote you the 76th Rule of Acquisition?” Quark asks. Yes, Quark! Quote it, quote it!

“Every once in a while,” he says, “declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.” Sun Tzu had nothing on the Ferengi. Rom, for the record, still looks perplexed.

Pictured: Sexy

Quark, meanwhile, goes to converse with a sexy alien lady in a jumpsuit who immediately engages him in sexual banter (“how are your lobes?” “tingling, at the sight of you”) and then explains that she has a mission to complete. She promised a guy on Cardassia Four that she’d return this big-ass Bajoran earring to Bajor for him, and he told her that anyone she showed it to there would know what to do with it. I’m trying to imagine a human object with enough significance for our race that you could show it to literally anyone on Earth and  they would know what it was without further explanation. An Easter Island head? A Justin Bieber poster? Hitler? (“Hey, we found this guy on Cardassia Four ranting about Jews, is he one of yours?”)

Anyway, she says she won’t be making it to Bajor this trip (how lazy are you? It’s like fifteen feet away) but since this was a Bajoran station she hoped someone here would know what to do with it. Quark assures here that there is someone here who knows what to do with it, and he is that someone. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Wrap-up

Well we’ve finished up season 1. I hope you enjoyed it. Before we move on to season 2, I’d like to remind everyone of a few still-open plot threads from season one.

1. Odo was originally found in the vicinity of the wormhole.
2. Bashir suspects that Garak was/is a spy for Cardassia.
3. Bajor currently does not have a Kai since Opaka stayed in the gamma quadrant.

Other than these, the stories of season one are more or less wrapped up. A lot of the things that happened may be brought back up, but they are at the very least resolved currently. So if you’ve just been skimming, these are the three plots that haven’t been resolved yet.

Overall, DS9 season one is mostly character introductions and alien racial backstory. I recommend watching/reading our posts for all of it, but if you MUST skip episodes, the mandatory minimum viewing for season one is Emissary, Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets. The first because it introduces quite a lot, the other two because they are very good. However as much as I like the series and as much as I love those 3 episodes, we really have not gotten to the truly good parts yet.

So with that, see you next week for season two.

DS9, Season 1, Ep20: “In the Hands of the Prophets”

Synopsis: We open on Irishy O’Brien trying to buy his wife a variety of Space Popsicle that looks like a gelatinous cow tongue, but she doesn’t want one because it’s “too early in the day.” Do Space Popsicles have bourbon in them? I think it’s more likely that Keiko O’Brien just hates fun, and the only way she can experience joy is to thwart her husband’s every attempt at happiness.

My hatred of Keiko may have crossed the line into “unhealthy.”

Kieko says Space Popsicles, or “Jumja sticks,” are too sweet, but Irishy says it’s OK because their sweetness is naturally derived from the sap of the Bajoran Jumja tree, and now I really feel like we’re in a popsicle ad (“Jumpy Moms Choose Jumja!”). Things snap back into DS9 mode when Irishy mentions that he aquired his Jumja-knowledge from Neela, his Bajoran Lady Sidekick, and Keiko is all, “I SEE,” catching the scent of an opportunity to make Irishy unhappy like some sort of unhappiness-sniffing bloodhound.

She asks if Neela is working out better than his previous Bajoran Lady Sidekick, and Irishy says yes as noncommittally as he can, to which she nastily responds “I’m glad to see her knowledge isn’t limited to Jumja Sticks.” That was a pretty good passive-aggressive dig, but I think I would’ve gone with “as long as she isn’t servicing your Jumja Stick after hours.”

Irishy suddenly realizes what’s happening, and goes “hey, hold on!” and Keiko gives him a smile that would melt the paint off a tractor and says “just keeping you on your toes, O’Brien.”

I think their relationship may have crossed the line into “unhealthy.” Continue reading

DS9 Season 1, Ep19: “Duet”

An Announcement: “Duet” is the first truly great episode in DS9. It is the moment that signals that the writers have finally stopped screwing around and are ready to air the most amazing Star Trek anywhere – they begin thinking long-term, planning, sowing seeds. From here on out, there are more good episodes than mediocre, and more awesome than not. If you haven’t been watching along, we strongly suggest that you begin here.

Synopsis: We open in Ops, where Kira and Jadzia seem to be discussing their childhoods while they check on the station’s vitals. It would seem to me that Jadzia has the advantage here, since the Dax sybmiont has actually had about seven different childhoods to choose from, but maybe she’s chosen to stick to one out of politeness. Kira must have has the same thought, because while Jadzia lingers on her love of nighttime window breaking, Kira playfully asks “which you are you talking about?” which makes Jadzia look sort of amused and guilty at the same time, like Kira caught her stealing candy.

Just then, they’re hailed by a Kobheerian freighter who would like to dock. Kira clears them, and the captain reveals that he has a passenger who needs medical assistance on-board. Sisko says to beam him directly to sick bay, but Kira seems stunned by the revelation of the man’s illness: Kalla-Nohra Syndrome, a chronic condition for which the traveler apparently forgot his medicine. Jadzia is all business, letting Bashir know about the patient he’s about to receive. Bashir has never heard of Kalla-Nohra, so you can bet he’s going to spend his next few minutes alone rocking back and forth, frantically flipping through the antique copy of Gray’s Anatomy that his parents got him for graduation muttering “I’m a good doctor, I am, I am, I am.” I have to imagine that Bashir has strange coping mechanisms.

Kira, still seeming completely taken aback, asks Sisko if she can go to sick bay to visit the newcomer. She explains that the only cases of Kalla-Nohra she knows of occurred due to a mining accident at a Bajoran forced labor camp, so this person must be a survivor, and she is a total fangirl, so she wants to go get an autograph. Sisko seems a little moved by this moment of non-anger-related emotion from Kira, and tells her to take as much time as she wants.

She heads to sickbay, expecting to see an old, adorable Bajoran person (perhaps like the farmer whose house she ignited in “Progress“). She is in for a surprise! The patient in sickbay is pretty clearly a Cardassian gentleman. Kira immediately comm badges to Odo, saying that she needs a security team in sick bay right away. Because if he isn’t a Bajoran, and he has a disease that only people at a Bajoran forced labor camp have – well, let me put it this way.

Imagine that you are highly acclaimed director/producer/Jewish person Steven Spielberg. Now imagine that you, Steven Spielberg, live in a world where there is such a thing as “Auschwitz syndrome,” a disease that one could have only contracted by spending an extended amount of time at that horrible place. Now, imagine that you’re hanging around your mansion one day, and one of your butlers comes into the study to tell you that there is someone here to visit you who has Auschwitz syndrome, and you, Steven Spielberg, get super pumped and proceed to drawing room number seven to ask them to tell you everything they know and why they didn’t consult on your critically-acclaimed film Schindler’s List, and you bound in there expecting to see a very old person with blue numbers tattooed on his or her arm, but instead you see a very old person who, many years ago, had a swastika carved into his forehead forcibly by Brad Pitt and Eli Roth.

That is pretty much what is happening to Kira right now. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1, Ep18: “Dramatis Personae”

Synopsis: We open on Sisko in his office, reviewing some specs, when who should storm in pre-outraged for your convenience but Kira. This morning she woke up and found out that some Valerians (val-ARYANS) are planning to dock at the station. CAN YOU IMAGINE?

Apparently the Valerians were weapons suppliers to the Cardassians during the occupation, and Kira believes that the two races still have a friendly weapons-based relationship; therefore, by her holocaust-survivor-refusing-to-buy-a-Volkswagen logic, if the Cardassians attack Bajor again at some point in the future it will be all the Valerians’ fault. 

Sisko says that there’s nothing they can do about any of that without proof. Apparently there aren’t any reasonable search and seizure laws on Bajor, because Kira’s solution to “no proof” is to immediately request permission to search their ship for weapons-grade dolomite on the authority of a search warrant signed by her gut.

Sisko points out that dolomite is used for about a hundred things other than weapons, and, besides, you can’t just board someone’s ship and start going through all their shit just ’cause. Kira wants to know what they’re going to do about it, then, and Sisko says she needs to bring him evidence of weapons-grade dolomite and then the Federation will apply diplomatic pressure to the Valerians to make them stop running it. I’m not sure one should ever be so inexact with Kira as to say “bring me some evidence.” She seems like the type that might trump some up if it were important enough.

“But, if we don’t punch them…anything could happen!”

Kira seems suspicious of Sisko’s non-punching-approach, but agrees to try it his way. I think this is the first time in the series we see Sisko honestly talking Kira down, and Kira listening because she trusts him and respects his authority. It’s an important and well-handled moment, especially given the tone of the rest of the episode, as we’ll see. Kira reluctantly goes to let the Valerians know they’re cleared to dock. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep17: “The Forsaken”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over explaining 1) There is a delegation of Federation ambassadors on the station to check out the wormhole, and 2) He is going to palm them off on Julian Bashir, because he wants to talk to these people less than he wants an intergalactic incident, apparently.

We come up on Bashir doing a really bad job explaining to a Bitchy Old Woman why he can’t upgrade her to a concierge room, while the other ambassadors (a Vulcan and a Bolian) grumble about what a shrew she is and how bullshit it is that they can’t see the Commander. Bashir, foolishly thinking he has an answer for this, says that Sisko is extremely busy with a “recalibration sweep,” and when they ask what, precisely, is being recalibrated, he’s all, “everything. Everything is being recalibrated.”

“Oh, you know…all of…the things.”

The Vulcan ambassador, either because he found that explanation fascinating or because he’s an asshole, says he’d just love to see all of the things get recalibrated, and Bashir is stuck. He suggests a visit to a holosuite, but the Old Bitch thinks he’s propositioning her, and he suggests a nap, but the Vulcan thinks he’s wasting his time. Also, the Old Bitch is personally offended that she’s being handled by a first-year officer. Before Bashir can dig his hole any deeper, he’s saved by a woman at the Space Craps table yelping that her fancy hair brooch is gone.

She too, is an ambassador, and as Bashir goes over to help her out, the reason for Sisko’s avoidance becomes more clear, at least to longtime fans: it’s Betazoid (BAYTA-zoy’d) Lwaxana Troi.

The mother of the Enterprise’s counselor, Deanna Troi (you may remember Deanna as an empath, Riker’s on-again-off-again-romance, and the person for whom the Alpha Quadrant Police Department coined the term “multiple psychic rape victim”), Lwaxana, much like the Ferengi characters, is one of those divisive, love-’em-or-claw-your-eyes-out figures. She brings a tone of levity to the proceedings with her crazy outfits, overbearing nature, and freewheelin’ swinger lifestyle, and the sorts of people who are incapable of detecting the presence of any unintentional humor or campiness in Original Series episodes do not appreciate it, because Star Trek is SERIOUS BUSINESS,  which is why they hate it when you sully the franchise with things like female captains or claims that it is about the everyday human experience rather than its CLEAR status as a 45-year long metaphor for American foreign policy. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep16: “If Wishes Were Horses”

Those of you who use Netflix on the Xbox 360 are doubtless aware of the Netflix app’s upsetting new feature: sit on any title too long, and, unbidden, the poster is replaced with a random still from somewhere in the middle of the feature. Thus begins the story of today’s synopsis: as I navigated to our episode for today, I was confused to see the DS9 cover art replaced with a terrifying gnome-man refugee from Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. Remember that, internet? Maybe in your nightmares. 

I’m not sure why my mother considered this
toddler-appropriate. Oh, wait, yes I am:
it was the early ’90s.

I sat there, perplexed for a moment, and then I moaned “oh, dear God, this one.” 

Yes. That is the sort of episode we’re dealing with today. I would say to buckle your seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy night, but I don’t need another excuse to skip this recap and watch All About Eve instead.

Synopsis: We open in Quark’s, where Quark is scolding Odo for monitoring his bar even on a slow day like this one. He offers to set Odo up with a holosuite program, but Odo says he has no time for fantasies, and people should pay attention to what’s actually going on in their actual lives. Silly. Quark offers that he could set Odo up with a sexy virtual shape-shifter lady, a suggestion that makes Odo take umbridge – even more so when he sees Jake coming down from the holosuite floor.

“You’re not allowing young Mr. Sisko in your holosuites, I hope,” Odo says icily to Quark, as though the holosuite can be used for porn purposes only. This leads me to imagine what other porn-capable devices they have in the future, and makes me wonder if Odo approves of young men using any technology at all.

“You’re not letting young Mr. Sisko
use your calculator, I hope.”

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