DS9 Season 2, Ep11: “Rivals”

Synopsis: We open on what appears to be an elderly alien lady doing shots.

I love this show.

Apparently her husband is dead and she has shitloads of lefotover mad money just lying around. She’s talking to a young man who, I’m just gonna call it, is a gold digger. Although maybe I’m just prejudiced because he’s Prince Humperdink. The Elderly Alien wants to make an investment – presumably in a time-share.

Across the bar, Odo glowers, listening to the conversation with the super dog-ears he apparently has. It seems the Elderly Alien is going to engage in some prospecting-related insider trading (snore) and she’s telling Space Humperdink all about it because she’s so enthralled by his sexy bouncy ’80s hair. And also she’s drunk.

Prince Humperdink pulls some great acting, you can see the manipulation flit across his face as he suggests that they could enter into some sort of partnership, although he doesn’t play the displaced royalty card at all, which, Michael Caine could tell him, is a rookie mistake. At that point, Odo calmly moves in to take him off to the slammer. “We were just talking!” the woman protests, to which Odo responds, “you were talking, madam, he was listening.” I sort of love Odo’s devotion to customer service in this moment. He really needs some sort of cap he could doff at people on the promenade.

As they walk to jail, Odo and Prince Humperdink engage in some expository banter that reveals that Prince Humperdink is a flimflam man who gets people’s pin numbers and “helps” them invest all their money in his dummy companies, and Odo has been eyeballing him since he arrived on the station. He locks him up but good.

After credits, we see Irishy casually walking through the halls swinging a racquetball racquet. I guess he’s on his way to the gym, but I prefer to think this is something he just does, like those high-powered business executives who putt golf balls into cups in their offices (or so television has led me to believe).

When Irishy gets to the holodeck, he finds Bashir sitting on the floor in the completely ridiculous meditative warm-up position, and Irishy is clearly not happy to see him. He programmed the holodeck racquetball court himself, apparently, because he missed playing it so much that he’s having tryouts for a station racquetball league. He did not think Bashir would be the only person at tryouts, but Bashir bouncily assures him that he was the captain of the racquetball team at med school, and led them to the championship his last year. Of course. Of course.

Irishy is all, “oh, so it was like, a college championship?” and Bashir is all, “no, it was like, the championships of the whole galaxy,” and Irishy seems super intimidated, so I guess that tells us that they’re really going to over-correct in the FUTURE when they fix the NCAA (“EVERYBODY PLAY EVERYBODY!”). Continue reading

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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

Season 2, Ep7: “Rules of Acquisition”

Synopsis: We open on Odo doing what I presume to be his usual late-night hobo-check on the promenade. He finds Morn, everybody’s favorite Space Barfly, sleeping on a bench, and gently shakes him awake to send him home. Morn must still be a little disoriented about what time of day it is, though, because he staggers over to the bar just to make sure it hasn’t magically opened again. But, no such luck, the doors fail to open automatically for him, and he stares mournfully inside at the group of Ferengi engaging in some friendly after-hours cutthroat gambling.

I sort of assume that all games played by Ferengi are cutthroat, like, I wouldn’t want to play  Monopoly with these guys. Or would I? Ferengi do seem like the only group of people who could make Monopoly legitimately interesting.

The game they’re playing now seems extremely complicated, featuring dice, a spinning pot of money, and cards (which are round because we’re in SPACE). The Ferengi are playing with absolute concentration and coordination, moving like a cors d’ballet and communicating only in grunts. Suddenly, the spinning apparatus stops, and the Ferengi all look over at the offender who is taking too much time to strategize: Jadzia.

Quark leans over to helpfully remind her that it’s her turn, and she tersely responds that she could think better without his hand on her thigh. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it: Quark would be an amazing guest star on Mad Men. He could accidentally get himself transported back in time, get stuck there, and tell everyone that he was horribly deformed by some sort of depression-era farming accident, perhaps blackmailing Don and taking on the identity of Dick Whitman, thus ensuring his spot at the ad agency. I’ve given this a lot of thought, but Matthew Weiner refuses to answer any of my letters. 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, 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 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 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 Ep12: “Vortex”

Synopsis: We open on Odo pacing around the bar at Quark’s like the caged tiger he absolutely refuses to turn into no matter how much it would please me. He and Quark are trading pointed barbs about a ship that just docked, apparently it belongs to a group of shady characters, the Miradorn Raiders, which refers to a race of people who conduct raids and not an 80s new-wave band as you may have initially assumed.

Odo believes Quark is doing some under-the-table dealing with the Miradorn, his primary evidence being that Quark’s usual flunkies were not present to ply the Miradorn with fliers and coupons for the bar when they docked. Apparently, this is something Quark always does, which I think is kind of awesome and amazing. Quark knows what he’s doing: I’m sure when the tired poor huddled masses of the Gamma Quadrant show up on the station Quark will be there to personally warm them with soup in exchange for their loyalty.

“You may or may not know, Odo, that every day I go down to the waterfront with hot soup for the Irish as they come ashore, and I say, ‘come to Quark’s Quark’s is fun, come to Quark’s don’t walk run.'”

But today, Quark demures, saying he doesn’t want to go near the Miradorn because they’re known as a “quarrelsome people,” and he doesn’t want them in his place.

Odo, bored with this line of questioning (as am I) changes the subject to point out to the audience that the Klingons have also brought aboard a Gamma Quadrant visitor, and he doesn’t seem like he’s much good at eye contact, which of course makes Odo immediately suspicious. Jeez, Odo, not everybody likes cops. Maybe he’s the Rodney King of his home world, you don’t know.

Quark says the guy is harmless, which also arouses Odo’s suspicions. Quark says that the guy was scared by all the Federation attention when he boarded. I bet that’s right – after the disastrous Wadi first contact, Sisko was probably pretty serious business about making sure this one went according to textbook. Maybe they interrogated him about his hobbies to make sure the senior staff don’t get crocheted into a scarf or something (“Well, I’m sure there’s nothing unusual about this yarn where you come from, but we have regulations on this station and I’m afraid we’ll have to quarantine it in sick bay until we’re sure it won’t turn our science officers into fingerweight Space Alpaca.”)

Odo, who would have gotten that whole situation with the Maltese Falcon worked out in twenty minutes, presumes that Gamma Quadrant Guy’s discomfort means has something to hide, and wonders aloud what it is. As if in answer, two dudes we’ve never seen before come in, and they look like they’re wearing S&M Halloween costumes they made themselves. Also: are they twins or are we racist?

The game show sensation that’s sweeping the nation!

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DS9 Season 1 Ep11: “The Nagus”

Synopsis: The episode opens with a covert entrance: a Ferengi waves what appears to be a large Oompa-Loompa and a short hooded figure onto the station. The short figure, incidentally, has a bitchin’ scepter, the handle of which is a Ferengi head made of gold.

This is our first of many Ferengi episodes, and let me say that, just between you and me, internet, we could not be more excited to tell you about how much we love DS9 Ferengi, and we will absolutely fight you in the parking lot of a bowling alley if you say anything disparaging about Quark and Co.

“These men are from The Original Series, Donny, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

In Chez Sisko, Jake is all frantic looking for his shoes, and does not seem enthused by his father’s suggestion that they attend the annual Bajoran Gratitude Festival, which sounds like the last place in the galaxy they’d have weed. Sisko says Major Kira says it’ll be “pretty spectacular,” and Jake makes a face all like, isn’t that a ringing endorsement

“Li’l Sebastian made his debut at the last Gratitude Festival in 2365 and he was an instant phenomenon. For the next few years, Sebastian was the #1 boys’ name on Bajor and the #3 girls’ name.”

Sisko says that they could also swing by the fire caverns Jake’s apparently been jonesing to see, which means that they’ll be planet-side for about three days. Jake is all, “sorry, Dad, me and Nog got plans,” which apparently include going to see a ship full of space tractors dock tomorrow, and Sisko is all, how are tractors more interesting than fire caverns? Jake says, “Nog’s my friend,” – the inference being and you’re not – and we cut to Sisko’s face, which reveals quite clearly that Jake has only just today reached the age where he is no longer friends with his dad.

In the bar, Quark berates Rom for returning a lady’s wallet in one piece, and introduces us to the Rules of Acquisition, which will become ubiquitous. The RoA are effectively the Ferengi bible. It’s their code for making profit, their societal blueprint, and their revered source of truth and tradition. Needless to say, it is also hilarious.

“What’s the first Rule of Acquisition?” Quark barks, and Rom tentatively singsongs, “once you have their money, you never give it back.” This is the right answer, and Quark punishes Rom’s Rule Violation with menial labor, which Rom, in turn, passes on to Nog.

Lobes of greatness

Quark is telling a joke at the bar when the Ferengi from the beginning comes in and says that he’d like to present his father, Grand Nagus Zek. The large Oompa-Loompa throws the hood back (this is a man who can afford to pay others to produce drama around his entrance) to reveal an extremely impressive and extremely wizened Ferengi. If you’re impressed by none of the other make-up on this show, be impressed by his ear hair.

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