DS9 Season 2, Ep8: “Necessary Evil”

Synopsis: We open on what appears to be the set of Love Across Lightyears, a space soap opera I have previously hypothesized exists. There’s a blonde lady wearing this fancy white dress/pantsuit and earrings that look like she bought them at Disney’s Tomorrowland. She’s in a room lit only by candlelight, and looking out a giant window at what is possibly the fakest thunderstorm I have ever seen or heard on television, and she turns to a companion sitting on the other side of the room to say, “I didn’t kill him, you know. A lot of people thought I did. That shape-shifter thought so. But he was wrong.”

I guess we’re not on Love Across Lightyears after all, because the camera cuts to reveal that she’s talking to Quark, who says that whatever she was talking about was a “long time ago.” The Soap Opera Lady, who is Bajoran, flounces over to sit with him and charmingly says that at least the Cardassians kept the power on. But did the trains run on time? I think we’re all dying to know.

She offers to freshen up Quark’s drink, and says that he was always kind to her, giving Quark the opportunity to exposit that he ran a black market during the occupation, and never really saw himself as kind. She protests that he always slipped a little extra ginger tea into her packages, and Quark is all, “get to the damn point already,” or maybe that was me. Anyway, she explains that she called him to Bajor to ask for a favor: apparently her husband used to have a shop on the station (back when it was Cardassian and called Terok Nor), and he kept a strongbox hidden in the wall. She wants Quark to retrieve it for her, and she’ll pay him handsomely for returning the box full of “sentimental valuables.”

Quark asks why she doesn’t get it her own damn self, and she says that she can’t bear to be back in the shop where her husband was murdered. Quark suspects that she doesn’t want to run into Odo, and she smiles a mysterious little smile and tells him which wall panel the strongbox is hidden behind. She says she can pay him five bars of gold-pressed latinum, plus her “personal gratitude.” I was pretty sure that meant sex, and then Quark confirmed it for me by creepily stroking his ear. God, ew. Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading

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 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, 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