Season 2, Ep10: “Sanctuary”

Synopsis: We open with Kira in trouuuuuuuble because she still doesn’t have the duty rosters for next week done, despite promising Sisko they’d be on his desk this morning. Apparently she’s going through a lot of shit with some of the Bajoran Ministers about irrigation – Bajorans can yell at each other about agricultural issues for hours – which Sisko knows about because, unsurprisingly, Kira can’t keep her voice down. “I thought I was keeping it down to an angry whisper,” she tells Sisko abashedly.

She explains that Ministers are extremely frustrating with all their red tape and intrigue, and Sisko kindly tells her, guidance-councilor-style, that she can yell at them all she wants as long as she keeps doing her job on the station. She leaves his office with a renewed sense of purpose, only to hear from Irishy that Quark has been looking for her in regards to an urgent matter.

In the bar, everyone is enchanted by a very meta gentleman playing a variation of the show’s theme song on some sort of Space Woodwind. Rom is too engaged with the music to serve drinks, even ever-present alcoholic Morn is crying. Only Quark remains untransfixed, pacing angrily around the bar. When Kira comes in, Quark complains that the Space Woodwind player, who just started his gig yesterday, is driving down drink, food, and gambling profits, which Quark knows because he monitors his income on an hourly basis. It sounds like I’m making that up, but I’m not.

Kira tells Quark to get ahold of himself, because soon people will hear about this guy’s amazing woodwinding and will be coming from miles around to hear him. Quark cynically asks if this is her “Bajoran intuition” at work, and I have to say I share his skepticism. I’m pretty sure Kenny G. is the exception, and not the rule, when it comes to packed houses for solo clairinet acts.

It turns out that Quark agreed to try the Woodwinder out for a month at Kira’s urging, which is why he blames her for his unprecedented drop in profits. He wonders if the Woodwinder could play something with a little more “bounce” to it, so I guess Quark really doesn’t know anything about Kenny G.

Kira goes over to talk to the Woodwinder, who speaks like he’s Laurence Olivier, and apparently he’s some famous displaced Bajoran concert performer or something, and Kira  politely asks him if he could be, as he puts it, “a little less exhibition hall and a little more music hall.” He agrees, and asks Kira if she’s talked to any of the Ministers about his brilliant idea to rebuild this one concert hall, because apparently her getting him this job is not enough of a favor.

He starts lecturing her about how important it is for Bajorans to reclaim their artistic heritage – dude, chill, she’s under enough pressure trying to keep your whiny-ass planet fed. Kira says she can’t promise anything, and he looks at her all judgily. God, what a dick.

Kira returns to Ops and expresses her desire to throw Quark out of an airlock and see how far he flies, when Irishy announces that a ship is coming through the wormhole. The ship is in distress, with overheating whosiwhatsists and barely functioning life support, so Sisko orders them beamed over. They are, and when they get there they are pretty clearly escapees from some sort of Space Polygamous Cult Compound.

They’ve probably been flying around space for years looking for Kolob. BOOM, American Religious History majors put ya hands up!

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DS9 Season 2, Ep5: “Cardassians”

Synopsis: This episode re-introduces one of our favorite characters from season 1, Garak, Cardassian Tailor/possible spy and Dr. Bashir’s best lunch buddy, who will thankfully begin getting his due as an amazing character this season. Are you ready for Garak, internet? I don’t think you are.

We open with Bashir in the station’s Holiday Inn Express Breakfast Buffet, where he suddenly notices Garak at a nearby table and makes a face all like, “oh, right! My friend no one’s seen in a year despite the fact that we both live on the same space station!”

He goes over to say hi and plays detective by correctly guessing what Garak’s drinking. I would suggest he parlay this skill into some sort of interstellar-neo-vaudeville act, but when Garak asks how he knew, he responds, “the odor is unmistakable,” in a way that is frankly really creepy and I do not think that would get him a lot of tips.

Pictured: losing the standard 15-20% gratuity for drink-guessing

But Garak says his gross drink soothes his nerves, and today he had a particularly rough morning at his shop (tailory?) because there’s this one Bajoran engineer who keeps coming in with the sole purpose of ruining his life, which sounds hyperbolic unless you’ve ever worked in a customer service industry.

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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.

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, 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 Ep15: “Progress”

Synopsis: We open on Jake and Nog playing cards in Quark’s, where Quark is ranting to Rom about yamok sauce, a Cardassian delicacy. Apparently Rom ordered a lot of it, and it’s an acquired taste to the degree that only Cardassians will eat it (mmmmm…tastes like genocide). This argument is distracting Nog, especially when Quark says he’s going to deduct half of Rom’s paycheck every week for the next six years to pay for the losses. I thought that Nog was sad that his dad was getting yelled at, but apparently something entirely different was going on in his little hamster wheel brain: he tells Jake that that’s a shitload of yamok sauce, and they could maybe get four or five bars of gold-pressed latinum out of it. Jake, naturally, runs off to help him in this latest venture which I’m sure will be totally successful and in no way hilariously bumbled.

In the grownup world, Sisko voices over that Bajor is about to make its first large-scale energy transfer, whatever that means, and the Federation is going to help. Apparently they’re going to tap the molten core of one of Bajor’s moons, and the energy from that is going to heat a couple hundred thousand Bajoran homes for Christmas. How did they decide who gets free heat? Is there some sort of Bajoran poverty line you can be below? Was their planet so devastated by the occupation that that couple hundred thousand people are the only ones under that line on the whole planet?

Anyway, the Bajoran Bureaucrat they’ve got in Ops is all nervous about it going well, and Kira and Sisko assure him several times that everybody here’s a professional. Then Kira has to jet off to the moon with Jadzia to inspect it.

On the runabout, Jadzia confides in Kira that barfly Morn asked her out to dinner, and she said no, but she thinks he’s cute anyway. Kira makes a face like she’s going to vomit, but before she can, they detect life on the surface of the moon (from which I think everybody was supposed to have evacuated by now) and she has to beam down there to see what’s up.

She gets down there and it’s all old-timey water pumps and flowers and shit, and the underscoring even goes all idyllic for a minute to make sure we feel like she’s just beamed into Amish country. But oh, no, suddenly two old people are menacing her with…hoes? They’re some sort of farm implements, I guess? But both they and the old people look about as scary as – well, as old people holding gardening tools, that is to say, not at all. I’m not sure why Kira looks so troubled, she could take ’em. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep14: “The Storyteller”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over explaining that he’s handling a mediation for the Bajoran government between two rival factions, the “Paqu” (pah-COO) and the “Navot” (Naah-VAHT), who are having a land dispute that could, because it’s Bajor, easily spark a civil war. Bajor would have a civil war about what time they should all have breakfast if so many of their people weren’t starving, at least they’re asking Sisko for input this time, I guess.

In Ops, Sisko multi-tasks: preparing to welcome the Paqu, asking when the Navot are due to arrive, pacing purposefully about, etc. When Irishy slides into his orbit to ask him about something, he brusquely demands to know why Irishy isn’t on Bajor yet. Um, because you just said all the Bajorans were coming here? Maybe this is all a clever diplomatic ruse: after the disputants are on the station, it’s Irishy’s job to run down to the planet and move the property lines around, and Sisko can just be all, “Hmm, you must have misread this. Oh, well, no civil war today!”

Actually, it seems like the mission in question just “chauffeur duty”, and Irishy asks if some Ensign could take his place, since it’s such mind-numbing work. Sisko is all, “I’m sorry, is there some reason you can’t do this thing I have asked you to do?” and Irishy carefully says no, but that something could come up any minute, you never know.

Just then, Bashir comes into Ops with a ridiculous little backpack that I think is supposed to hold his medical tricorder, but which I’m going to assume actually contains trailmix and a stuffed bunny – because he, of course, is what Irishy is supposed to be chauffeuring.

He’s super excited, as always, and is all, “ARE YOU READY TO GO, CHIEF? ARE YOU READY TO GO? MEDICAL EMERGENCY ADVENTURE FUNTIMES!” Irishy seems considerably less excited. Bashir puts the final nail in his coffin by saying that he sees this little roadtrip as a “wonderful opportunity to get to know each other,” which in Bashir language means “become best buddies and eat lunch together and have a secret handshake and pass notes in class and pretend to be superheros at my house after school lets out.” Irishy looks around for someone to whom he can say, “goddammit, I am a grown man,” and, seeing no one, follows Bashir to the runabout.

In the turbolift, Sisko and Kira are discussing important diplomatic issues. Sisko just wants to get the two sides talking informally, and Kira says it’ll be impressive to just get them sitting at the same table. Kira tells Sisko that there’s an old saying on Bajor: “Shoot Cardassians on sight.” Oh, no wait, sorry, wrong old saying. She says that “the land and the people are one,” and that these particular people live on Bajor’s harshest land (the other Bajorans all said they were daft to build castles in the swamp). She says that the Paku avoid contact with outsiders, so she won’t be much help.

As she and Sisko step into the airlock to meet the Paqu representative, it’s hard for them to hide their surprise: the representative is a fifteen-year-old girl. You know, they’re acting like it’s a problem, but I know a certain young man on this station who has a thing for the Bajoran laydees, and probably would not say no to some questionably ethical romancin’ as a negotiation technique. Wasn’t it just an episode ago that Sisko said a real leader would do anything for peace? Doesn’t that include whoring out one’s son? Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep5: “Babel”

This is an OK “disease of the week” episode, but there isn’t enough long-form plot and character development to pique our interest for a full synopsis/analysis.

Basically, everyone on the station (beginning with Irishy O’Brien, no surprise there) becomes infected with an “Aphasia Virus” that makes them speak gibberish. The virus originated with some sort of device that altered any and all replicated food at the molecular level, and quickly mutated to become airborne. Kira naturally thinks the Cardassians are behind it, but it turns out that the Bajoran resistance (who were forced to build the station) snuck in the device as a really epic terrorist move. She has no choice but to track down the guy responsible, infect him with the virus, and then force him to help cure everyone. Don’t push Kira, guys.

Meanwhile, back on the station, everyone is quarantined, but there’s this dick of a freighter captain who wants to take off before his cargo spoils, and he almost blows up the station trying to get away. The only people on the station as yet unaffected by the virus are the unlikely Quark/Odo teamup, who save the day. When Kira comes back to the station, Quark answers her hail from Ops, which is a pretty funny moment.

Then Bajoran Resistance Guy creates an antidote (I find it implausible that Bashir couldn’t cure everyone even while speaking nonsense) and everything’s back to normal. It’s not a bad episode, by any means, but it’s not a great one either, and no one (least of all us) will blame you if you skip it.

And that’s what you missed on: that episode we didn’t particularly want to watch.