Friday, July 20, 2018

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Season 1

Ever heard of a podcast called Mission Log?  [Sidebar: should the title of a podcast be italicized, the way the title of a movie or novel or television series is?  Probably so.  I didn't format it that way initially, but have gone back and changed it and for some reason felt the need to mention it.  Carry on!]
If not, the short summary goes like this: it's produced by Roddenberry Productions, hosted by John Champion and Ken Ray (or by Ken Ray and John Champion, if you prefer it that way instead), and is nearing its three-hundredth episode.  It's been around since 2012, and its mission is simple: watch every episode of every Star Trek, one episode per week, and discuss it with an eye toward the messages/morals/meanings that make it uniquely Trekian in nature.
I've been with them since the beginning, and have enjoyed it.  I didn't rewatch all of the original series with them; I knew/know those episodes well enough that I didn't feel it was necessary.  I did, however, rewatch the entirety of The Next Generation along with them.  I had a lot of fun doing it that way.  I didn't agree with their every conclusion, but I never failed to be engaged by what they were doing.
They recently (as of the time I am writing this, if not the time it ends up getting posted) concluded their TNG episodes and have since moved on to Deep Space Nine.  So, of course, armed with a freshly-obtained set of DS9 DVDs, I'm taking that journey with them.  And I thought hey, why not blog about it a little?  I can't devote the time to a full episode-by-episode exploration of the type I'd love to do, but a more stripped-down version (akin to what I recently did at The Truth Inside The Lie for the first season of The Twilight Zone)?  Within my reach for sure.
Before we launch into that, a few words about my personal history with this series.:
As a huge contemporary Next Gen fan, I was obviously stoked for the prospect of a new series, and so when DS9 aired its first episode, I was right there, watching it avidly.  I liked it well enough, but it didn't grab me the way TNG had, and that remained true for as long as I watched the series ... which, I am ashamed to say, was only through the first handful of episodes in season six.  I stopped watching not so much because I'd lost interest in the series (although I kind of had), but because I'd lost interest in Star Trek altogether.  I was rapidly pro-Babylon 5 (not a bad thing to be), and I was also in a weird place personally where I just sort of made some weird, non-Bryanty choices.
You don't care about that; shit, I barely care about that.
You MIGHT care about one of the biggest reasons I stopped watching: I wasn't able to see Voyager.  See, the NEW new Trek series (which debuted during the third season of Deep Space Nine) was not available in my viewing area on account of the fact that we had no UPN affiliate.  This made me a little crazy.  I was so aghast at the idea that new Star Trek was airing but was not available to me -- to ME, of all people! -- that it caused me to lose interest in being a Trekkie at all.

I suppose the "logic" was this: if I can't have this cake, then not only do I not want cake anymore, I don't want this steak and potatoes either, and fuck you very much, I'll go over here and just have water.  But then I kept watching Deep Space Nine for a few more season anyways, until various other factors tipped me over during the beginning of the sixth season.
So that was, what, 1997...?  [consults Wikipedia]  Yep, 1997.  With the exception of watching the TNG movies that came out after that, my Trek fandom was more or less dead.
A decade later, circa 2007, I began to feel a real itch for Trek again, however, and decided that I would rewatch the original series.  So I did, and got sufficiently jazzed about it that I decided to follow that by watching EVERY other Trek series, in chronological order.  Started with the animated series, which I'd never seen; progressed into The Next Generation, etc.  So during that process -- which took a few years -- I finally got to see Voyager AND finally finished Deep Space Nine.
I enjoyed DS9, but whereas a great many Trekkies hold it up as the pinnacle of Trek, I personally think it would have to be ranked at the bottom for me.  (Until Discovery came around, at least; that's comfortably in the bottom spot for me, and is so far beneath the rest that Discovery needs a telescope to see them.)  But make no mistake; I do like it.
And who knows?  Maybe a fresh watchthrough -- conducted alongside Mission Log -- might change my mind about some of the aspects of it that keep me from fully embracing it.

Only time and blogging will tell, so let's get the latter going.
(season 1, episodes 1-2)
airdate:  January 3, 1993
written by:  Rick Berman & Michael Piller (story), Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  David Carson

Starfleet officer Benjamin Sisko -- a survivor of the Borg massacre at Wolf 359 -- takes on a new assignment as the commander of Deep Space Nine, a space station orbiting the planet Bajor.  The station was recently vacated by the Cardassians, whose occupation of Bajor came to an end after half a century.  Sisko wrestles with his reluctance to stay in the position -- a reluctance exacerbated by an encounter with Captain Picard, who (while controlled by the Borg) was responsible for the death of Sisko's wife -- but soon becomes embroiled in the discovery of a wormhole near Bajor.  The wormhole leads to another quadrant of the galaxy, and is the first known wormhole of its kind: namely, stable and usable.  Within it, Sisko discovers a race of aliens who live outside the normal space-time continuum, who are the prophets spoken of in Bajoran religion ... and who seem to view Sisko as an emissary of humanity.
Rewatching "Emissary" in 2018, I think I probably enjoyed more than I had ever enjoyed it before.  That said, I still have most of the same problems with it.  Those problems are largely focused on the performance of Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko.  Brooks is a very good actor -- a VERY good actor, as we will see numerous times during the run of this series -- but he can also be a very mannered actor. 
This is not a new commodity among Trek leads.  The great William Shatner himself has been known to be such a mannered actor that to this day, lots of people think he's simply a bad actor.  No sir, not in the opinion of THIS blog, he ain't.  (This one, either.)  He's just doing his own thing, to some extent; he's unique.
Avery Brooks is also unique, and while he's -- this ought to go without saying, but let's say it anyways -- unique in a different way than Shatner was/is, that does not alter the fact.  He makes some odd choices in "Emissary" with some of his line readings, but are those choices fundamentally odder than some of the Shatner-est Shatner moments?  Probably not.  And yet, they kind of irk me; they don't work for me the way Shatner's out-there moments do.
That did not change this time through, and there's no denying it: it hurts my opinion of the episode a bit.  This time, however, I noticed that SOME of those moments seem to be due to looping.  Know what that is?  It's the replacement of dialogue with freshly-recorded rereadings of lines (or, sometimes, new lines altogether).  It can, and often does, create a nearly subliminal feeling of disjointedness and distance; and I think that happens in this episode a LOT.
That said, there's also a lot to like here, even in Brooks' performance.  He's dynamite for much of it, especially during the extended -- and wonderful -- sequence in which he talks with the "prophets" and tries to explain corporeal life to them.  THAT stuff is vintage Trek.  I feel less enthusiastic about other aspects of the series, conceptually speaking.  Star Trek is made to GO, man, not to stay.  I know, I know; many, many Trekkies have made that observation.  And DS9 proponents point out -- not incorrectly -- that this gives the series a realism and honesty that is lacking in other iterations of Star Trek.
I'm sure we'll explore that notion as these blog posts continue, but what I'll say about that is the following:
  • True.
  • But if you have to bend -- and arguably break -- the concept of what Star Trek is in order to get to Deep Space Nine, then are you actually making Star Trek any longer?  Even if the series that results from it is great (which proponents insist it is -- and please note that I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with them at this time), you've had to subvert the foundation upon which it is built in order to get there.  Arguably; perhaps not, though, and we'll find out where I stand on this together, I suspect.
  • The question has to be asked: can this approach and the more traditional Roddenberrian approach to Trek truly co-exist?  

I'd have expected to answer that question with a resounding "no" right at the outset of Deep Space Nine, but a fresh viewing of "Emissary" did not really move me in that direction.  It might be because I feel the later seasons of The Next Generation had already gone in that direction, and took me along for the ride.  Some episodes of TNG post, say, season three retained that core of Roddenberrian philosophy; many did not.  And yet, those seasons still made for mostly excellent television in general and Star Trek particularly.  So ... is this all just an academic issue?

Might be.  I suspect that will be a primary focus of these blogs.

But I don't want to let that question weigh us down.  I certainly don't want to forget to focus on the issue of whether these are good episodes of television; and I think "Emissary," for its occasional flaws, is.  Even though I take issue with individual moments in some of the performances, the characters mostly pop: Sisko is instantly memorable; Dax commands the screen from the moment she (?) arrives; Kira is more interesting than I'd remembered; Bashir brings a fresher energy than I'd remembered.  I'm still not too big a fan of either Odo or O'Brien, and while I hope that will change, my hopes are not up.  Quark?  He's okay here.  Jake?  Nog?  Never have been a fan of those two; I'm intentionally resisting changing that, and this episode did nothing to break me down.

The station itself is cool; hampered by the production realities of early-nineties television, to be sure, but so what?  I can -- and do -- let that slide.

Most importantly, though, the story involving the prophets really does work.  They pointed out on Mission Log that between this and Sisko's reluctance, "Emissary" actually has a Trekian vibe that goes all the way back to "The Cage" and Captain Pike.  I'd never thought of this, but I agree, and it made me enjoy the episode more.

Bryant's rating:  **** / *****

"Past Prologue"
(season 1, episode 3)
airdate: January 10, 1993
written by:  Katharyn Powers
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe

A former associate of Kira's arrives on the station seeking political asylum from the Cardassians, who say he is a war criminal.  Will Sisko grant him asylum?  Will his motives turn out to be not so pure?  Tune in and find out.

Man, forget about all that stuff with Kira's maybe-war-criminal former associate; this episode is all about the Garak, as far as I'm concerned.

That's him pictured above.  Played expertly from word one by Andrew Robinson, Garak is a tailor and shopkeeper who is the sole remaining Cardassian on board Deep Space Nine.  Might he also be a bit more than that?  Well, that would be telling, now wouldn't it?

He befriends -- targets for accidental (useful-idiot-style?) recruitment? -- Dr. Bashir in this episode, and also becomes embroiled in the plot with Tahna Los, Kira's associate.  This plot also manages to rope in Lursa and B'Etor, the Duras sisters who had previously featured heavily in the Klingon plotlines of The Next Generation.  I always kind of dug them, and while it is entirely possible that their appearance here was a stunt intended to convince reluctant TNG viewers to keep tuning in to DS9, I don't mind that provided their presence here is logical.  It is, and so welcome on board!

Much of the episode is devoted to Kira's struggles to decide where her loyalties should lie: with the still-fighting revolutionary she once knew, or with the provisional Bajoran government that she has pledged to work for.  Tahna Los thinks she's sold out, and it's clear that his words have a heavy impact on Kira.  You can probably guess which way she goes in the end, and that obviousness robs the episode of any real weight beyond the introduction of Garak (who -- spoiler alert! -- will go on to be one of the series' most vibrant characters).

Still, this isn't bad.  Nana Visitor is good as Kira, and Siddig El Fadil has some good moments as Bashir, as well.  So does Avery Brooks, whose mannerisms are fully in check; he's commanding and strong here.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****

"A Man Alone"
(season 1, episode 4)
airdate:  January 17, 1993
written by: Gerald Sanford & Michael Piller (story), Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  Paul Lynch

Odo, the station's constable, is accused of a lock-room murder on account of being a shapeshifter who could easily get inside a locked room.

I'm just not too big a fan of Odo, y'all.  Never was when the series was first airing; never became one during my late-'00s (re/)watchthrough; don't expect to become one now.  Rene Auberjoinois is a good actor, and he does his best throughout the series, as I recall; but man, that makeup design is flat-out horrendous.  Yeah, yeah, I get it: Odo is a blank-faced shapeshifter who was never able to convincingly mimic humanoid traits.  That makes no sense.  It doesn't work, it was a bad idea, and the fact that the series leans into it so heavily later on is a thing that I already dread revisiting.

But who knows?  Maybe I'll change my mind.

Auberjonois is fine here; Odo's story here is fine.  It's all ... fine.  But if you place Odo in the Trekian subcategory of non-humans who serve as reflective mirrors for the curious aspects of humanity alongside Spock and Data, I conclude that Odo is woefully inferior.  Sorry!  It's just how I feel, and while I'm open to the idea of having my mind changed, I will say with zero hesitation that "A Man Alone" doesn't change my mind one iota.  It's ... fine.  Not a game-changer.

The b-plot involves not only Jake and Nog but also Keiko O'Brien, who, despite the best efforts of supporting player Rosalind Chao, never much interested me, even going back to her Next Gen appearances.

It sounds like I'm slagging this episode, and I'm really not.  It's not bad at all.  The cast already shows signs of working very well together, and I was surprised watching this episode to find myself feeling nostalgic for the days when the series was brand new and sort of an unknown commodity.  The setting really did introduce a new element that had -- for better or for worse -- been lacking from the previous shows: these folks were on a space station, and couldn't just fly away from their problems.  They had to deal with them; the promise was that the series would have to remember that from one week to the next, and that created an interesting dynamic that both unsettled me and intrigued me.

And you know what?  It still does, on both counts.  So no, this is not a great episode; it's probably only barely a good episode, to be honest.  But it still worked for -- and on -- me, and that surprises me a bit.

Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****

(season 1, episode 5)
airdate:   January 24, 1993
written by:  Sally Caves & Ira Steven Behr (story), Michael McGreevey & Naren Shankar (teleplay)
directed by:  Paul Lynch

Repair work by Chief O'Brien triggers a never-deployed terrorist device that has lain dormant inside the station for nearly twenty years.  The device spreads a virus that initially presents as aphasia-like speech and cognition issues, but eventually becomes deadly.

This isn't a bad episode, but it's toothless and pointless, and kind of a bore.

There are interesting moments.  For example, it turns out -- spoiler alert -- that the virus was engineered by the Bajorans during the Cardassian occupation.  Something compelling might theoretically have come out of that, but it never happens: it's introduced too late in the episode, the writers having thought it was more important to devote time to (A) castmembers speaking aphasic nonense and then acting surprised by having it happen and (B) Quark's replicator problems.

The fact that the actors are all good at playing the aphasia stuff is quite possibly all that saves the episode.  It's a bit tedious even with that; if they had sucked at it, the result might have been catastrophic.

I'd like to talk now about one of the major problems that I've always perceived with the series: the size of the station versus the size of the budget allotted to depicting it.

And before we talk about that, I think it makes sense to mention something that has heretofore gone unmentioned in this post: Babylon 5.

Babylon 5 was a Warner Bros.-produced television series that ran in syndication from 1993 to 1999 or so (it kind of depends on what you count as being the series and what you count as a spinoff, but let's just say 1999).  This is not entirely the right place to go in depth into the history of the controversy that exists between B5 and DS9 (though arguably it is EXACTLY the right place), so I won't do so.  The short version of the story is this: sometime around 1989, J. Michael Straczynski (a television writer and producer best known at that time for his journeyman work on shows like The [New] Twilight Zone and Shelley Duvall's Nightmare Classics, as well as longer-running stints on The Real Ghostbusters and Murder, She Wrote) pitched an idea for a science fiction series called Babylon 5 to Paramount.  It was about a space station where interesting things happened.  His pitch included a series "bible" (a lengthy summary-of-concept document) and capsule ideas for a full season's worth of episodes.

Paramount passed.

Fast-forward to the summer of 1991.  Warner Bros. announced that they were launching a venture called the "Prime-Time Entertainment Network."  Not actually a full-scale network, this was instead an alliance of independent television stations that (according to Wikipedia) covered about 93% of the nation at its peak.  It would eventually go under (in 1997), but Warner Bros. made a go at it for a while there.  Anyways, among the series they announced at their launch was Straczynski's Babylon 5.

This made sense.  Original narrative programming in syndication had been made viable almost single-handedly by the astonishing success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so it's easy to see why Warner Bros. would hope a major new science-fiction series could and would be a valuable asset in launching a new (quasi-)network.  Babylon 5 would indeed be a major new series: one set not on a starship but on an enormous space station, but nevertheless with a sensibility and an aesthetic sense that would be both reminiscent of other sci-fi shows but with a tone and focus that was something new.

Fast-forward again, to a couple of months later in 1991: Paramount announced a new sci-fi series of its own, a third entry in the Star Trek franchise.  It would be called Deep Space Nine, and it would be set ... not on a starship, but ... on an ... enormous space station...?  Hey guys, doesn't this sound kind of familiar?  Hello?  Guys?

At the insistence of Warner Bros., Straczynski opted not to go ballistic and sue Paramount, but if you care to read up on the issue, you'll find that JMS remained a little bitter about it for quite some time after.  How long?  Well, it's ... what? ... 2018 now?  How many years is that?

I don't think he's wrong.  There are significant similarities in the concepts, not merely in the core idea (space station instead of starship) but in the then-unusual push toward serialization in the storytelling; the emphasis on mysticism and religion in the alien races populating the series (and in the fact that the human commanders VERY much become embroiled in these religions); and, in some instances, minor specifics in the plotlines.  Heck, there are even at least two instances of characters with nearly-identical names: Leeta/Lyta and Dukat/Dukhat.

So did Paramount kinda/sorta steal the idea for Deep Space Nine from J. Michael Straczynski after opting not to buy Babylon 5 from him?  To some degree, I think that is absolutely a yes.

And beyond that, I'm not sure it matters much.  To Straczynski, it must matter a very great deal; and on his behalf, it bothers me.  But even if 100% of his insinuations and allegations are true, so what?  As regards the Deep Space Nine episode I'm using to host this conversation -- the provocatively-titled "Babel" -- does it make any actual difference that one show might not exist without the other?  Pick a couple of random episodes.  Let's say ... season three, episode 14 of both shows.  Was one actively influencing the other at that point, in a theft-of-intellectual-property sense?  No way.  The stories were different, the productions styles (and abilities) were different, the casts were wildly different.  Even if you want to call this theft, the shows began to diverge immediately, even within the respective two-hour pilot episodes.

Still, I think it's a disservice to Babylon 5 to not make sure that it is mentioned in any conversation about the genesis of Deep Space Nine.  I considered doing it at the outset of this post, but opted to delay it a bit.

The title "Babel" reminded me of it, though, and now we can transition back to a topic I mentioned above: the size of the station versus the size of the budget allotted to depicting it.  This was an issue that always plagued Babylon 5, as well.  The bottom line is that even the comparatively-large-budgeted Deep Space Nine routinely failed to adequately express the size of the titular space station.

And boy, is that evident in "Babel."  A stationwide virus -- a plague, really -- incapacitates the populace to such an extent that quarantine procedures are put into place and nobody is allowed to leave.  Businesses are closed.  Residents are asked to stay in their quarters.  On an actual station the size of DS9, this would almost certainly result in a civil panic and a crisis of lawkeeping.  This is certainly true given how disparate the populace apparently is in race and temperament.

But in "Babel," what we see is about a dozen extras moaning from hospital beds.  The promenade area of the station is the station's lifeblood, housing all the businesses.  So why does it seem to be about the size of a Blockbuster Video?  I exaggerate, but only a bit.  The answer is pretty clear to anyone with a brain: the budget for the series was not big enough to do anything more than what they did.  The producers hoped the viewers would sort of fill in those blanks mentally.  And I think mostly, they/we did/do.  On occasion, however, it becomes very difficult to do so.  In "Babel," the story is such that -- and this is especially true of the Trek series still famed as the darker, grittier answer to The Next Generation (I pause now to roll my eyes) -- one does not merely expect a subplot about civil unrest, one kind of demands it.

I get it.  Really, I do.  The budget just wasn't there.  So that being the case, I have to ask: was everyone surprised by that fact when they got to the set and found that the script had to be trimmed down to exclude the rioting civilians and the Starfleet reinforcements who were called in to enforce the quarantine/blockade?

Of course not.

So why was this episode written in this manner?  I refer not to the rioting civilians and the Starfleet blockade -- I made up both of those things -- but simply to the stationwide aspect of the dilemma.  Impossible to depict such a thing, so why write it into the story?  Imagine that you walk into a producer's room.  You say this: "Hey, I came up with a great idea for a story and we will NEVER be able to afford to do it correctly."  Which of the two responses seems most responsible?

(1)  "So come up with a producible idea."

(2)  "Great, write it, but make sure it's completely unrealistic so that hopefully nobody will notice how much we're skimping."

I'm inclined to think #1 is the correct answer, but maybe it's not as cut-and-dried a thing as I assume.  Maybe the answer in television is always to go with the great idea and then work backward until it's had enough of its edges sanded off so as to actually be doable.

To me, that's a problem that plagued Deep Space Nine throughout its run.  It's my least favorite Star Trek series (other than the lamentable Discovery); I don't dislike it, but it always felt to me a bit as if it was a better idea than Paramount was capable of producing.  With the station just sitting right there, it's much more difficult to ignore that; with Next Gen or Voyager, the ship was constantly on the move, so you could more easily rationalize things away.  Deep Space Nine was more ambitious in concept, but that very ambition made it seem at times even cheaper.

Perhaps this is karma at work.  After all, the concept was -- allegedly -- pinched from J. Michael Straczynski.  His concept was a very ambitious one indeed, and to whatever extent Deep Space Nine struggled to realize it, Babylon 5 struggled WAY more.  Seen today, that series arguably looks cheap as fuck; the acting is sometimes (though certainly not always) on the level of  community theatre; the costumes look less good than what you'll see on cosplayers in 2018; the CGI looks like a joke at times (though, again, certainly not always).

But what it lacked in polish, Babylon 5 made up for in sheer determination and audacity.  They would occasionally pull a rabbit out of a hat that would make one gasp; it proposed in some ways to be the anti-Trek, to have ramifications for its characters and settings that the first two Trek series could or would never even entertain.  And why not?  The only hit sci-fi show on television is Star Trek and you want to get a new one going?  You do what they don't do.

In the case of Babylon 5, even if you can say nothing else good about the series, you can probably say that it feels as if the people making it were playing for keeps.  They might do episodes in which their ambition exceeded their grasp by a laughably large margin, but they'd make up for it by doing things that stuck; Deep Space Nine, especially in its early seasons, refused to do so (or proved incapable of doing so).  They eventually got better at it, but an argument could be made that Babylon 5 shoved them in that direction by offering people a taste of what that approach could be like.

It never perfected it, either, alas; it would take a new series, Battlestar Galactica -- spearheaded by DS9 alum Ronald D. Moore -- to finally possess both the ambition and the budget for such an experiment.  That's long after both DS9 and B5 were off the air, and a topic for some other series of posts altogether.

To summarize: I do think that Deep Space Nine owes a debt to Babylon 5, and probably inadvertently inherited some of the same budgetary issues, but beyond that?  It's all in the execution, and I don't think there is enough similarity in the execution (beyond the superficial) to matter.

By the way, I'm toying with the idea of covering Babylon 5 within these posts.  I probably won't do that, but I 100% am going to be watching the two concurrently, and blogging about both.  Most likely I will break the B5 posts into their own thing.

Oh!  Gotta rate "Babel," don't I?
Bryant's rating:  ** / *****

"Captive Pursuit"
(season 1, episode 6)
airdate:  January 31, 1993
written by:  Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller (teleplay), Jill Dherman Donner (story)
directed by:  Corey Allen

The station finally receives its first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant: a reptilian being who identifies itself only as "Tosk."  As it turns out, "Tosk" is a being who was bred and raised to be part of an elaborate and much-honored hunt ... as the prey.

I'd argue that it's a little bit short of being a full-blown classic, but this is a very strong episode that proves Deep Space Nine can do the same type of moral/ethical-quandary episodes that The Next Generation excelled at (especially during its middle three seasons).

On a first viewing, Tosk seems shifty and untrustworthy, and one can easily imagine the episode turning into a mere adventure story, wherein an alien with camouflage ability and a new Irish best friend runs amok on the station, having successful inveigled his way into everyone's good graces.  But on a second viewing, all that "shiftiness" becomes clear: this is a man (?) who is VERY concerned with trying to be good at what he does, and being on board this honking big space station with no way to defend himself is antithetical to those goals.

It's interesting -- and this is not necessarily true of every viewer, I'd imagine, but it's true of me -- that this ends up eliciting sympathy for that aspect of his plight.  What I probably should want to happen is for James T. Kirk to show up and take Tosk in hand and tell him to "choose life; you'll like it ... a lot!"  Tosk is reluctant at first, but ends up sallying forth in defiance of the hunters, presumably headed for some new planet where he can pursue his secret dream of being a pastry chef.

But I'm not sure the episode plays it that way.  What Tosk himself wants is to continue the game; to be the very best Tosk he can possibly be.  The hunters clearly honor and respect his kind; the head hunter is aghast at the suggestion that this is not so.  In both cases, the acting by the guest stars is so good that these desires is fully transmitted to the audience (or, again, at least to me), and I think we end up rooting for ol' Tosk to be able to actually get back on the run, on a collision course with his eventual honorable demise.

We also, here, get an interesting early glimpse into the manner in which this Star Trek crew will differ from the ones that preceded it: this is a gang of officers who don't necessarily feel THAT obliged to play by the rules.  This is an aspect of Deep Space Nine that (if I recall correctly) will develop considerably the deeper we get into it.  My memory of it is that at some point it becomes a bit too much for me, but I'm doing my best to let go of that and simply look at all of this with eyes that are as fresh as I can make them.  And what they see this week is another piece of evidence indicating that the series was playing with that sort of thing more or less from the outset.

Remember, Sisko was a commander who kind of didn't want to be assigned to this station.  He had resigned in all but fact during the events of "Emissary," and it was only the extraordinary events inside the wormhole that caused him to change his mind.  The easy assumption to make is that those events snap him right back into being a loyal Starfleet man.  And to some extent, that's the case, clearly; but I think he's also still kind of got one foot out the door mentally, in a way that allows him to more or less say, "Whatever, I'll do what I want" any time a subject comes up where he feels like saying that.  He doesn't quite get to that point here; but he's clearly sympathetic to the fact that O'Brien does get to that point.

And it's all so that Tosk can GET killed!  Not so he can live; so he can die.

Yessir.  That's Star Trek, alright.

One false note: while talking to Tosk at one point, O'Brien refers to Cardassians as "Cardies."  This is consistent for O'Brien -- who had been established on The Next Generation as somebody with lingering resentments from the Cardassian war -- but nevertheless more racist than Trek ought to be.  Don't tell me it's realistic.  I know it's realistic.  Star Trek is not realistic; that's kind of the whole point of Star Trek.  Shit fire, even way back in "Balance of Terror," the incredibly racist Mr. Styles didn't use racial slurs to vent his hatred of Romulans; and he's an antagonist in that episode.  Now, we've got a main point-of-view character on Deep Space Nine saying the outer-space equivalent of "towelhead" (or worse).

That don't work for me; it doesn't kill the episode, but it does put a sour taste in my mouth.

Bryant's rating:  *** 1/2 / *****

(season 1, episode 7)
airdate:  February 7, 1993
written by:  Hannah Louise Shearer (story) and Robert Hewitt Wolfe (teleplay)
directed by:  Paul Lynch

Dax returns in a damaged shuttle from a visit to the Gamma Quadrant, with a human who claims to have been there for the past two years, which is odd because the wormhole has not existed that long.  Weird, right?  It's less weird when you consider that the human is Vash, who was last seen on The Next Generation leaving to be a companion to Q, the lovable space superbeing.

My memory insisted prior to this rewatch that "Q-less" was among the Deep Space Nine season-one lowpoints.  I rather enjoyed it this time, though.

In some ways, it's a fairly obvious early-in-the-series effort to reel in Next Generation viewers.  "Hey, you guys love Q, right?" you can practically hear the producers hollering at you.  "I mean, you do, don't you?  Well, here he is, so that's proof that you will love this new show, too!  Oh, and didn't you tell us you love Vash, as well?  Well, doggone it, here SHE is, too!  Please watch our new show!"
It's pretty shameless, really.

I'm okay with that.  Television -- even in 1993 for a wildly-popular franchise -- is a stupendously expensive and competitive business, and if you've put a show like Deep Space Nine on the air, frankly, you owe it to the people bankrolling it to do everything in your power to deliver the sort of numbers they need you to deliver.  So if helping get eyeballs on DS9 required ginning up an episode here or there that blatantly went fishing for TNG viewers, well, what of it?

Plus, in my case (and in the case of a great many other people besides me), I'm a Next Generation fan through and through, which means that indeed I do love Q and Vash.  Do you think I'm going to begrudge an extra forty-five minutes spent with them just because this is ostensibly a show that belongs to other characters?!?  The fuck outta here.

That said, the episode really IS a bit of a mixed bag in terms of how it impacts the DS9 characters.  Some of them (Kira and Dax in particular, but also Odo) may as well not even be in the episode.  Others (O'Brien, Bashir) get a few good moments.

Quark, however, kind of shines.  He and Vash instantly have a fantastic rapport, and it's a real shame that this is the final time we see Vash; she could easily have been utilized as a recurring character to spice up the Quark plotlines.  Instead, we get Rom and Nog.  Saints preserve us.

The episode's big failing is arguably the incredible lack of sparks between Sisko and Q.  The adversarial (but weirdly chummy) relationship between Picard and Q is probably one of the most successful overall elements of The Next Generation (which is saying something), and you've got to figure that the Deep Space Nine producers hoped they might be able to simply shift that over to Sisko and Q.  But Avery Brooks spends the majority of the episode looking as if he resents the visit from John DeLancie, and resents the inherent comparisons with Patrick Stewart this will bring.  If so, I guess I kind of sympathize; but it does this episode no favors.

The argument could be made, though, that Sisko is indeed a VERY different character than Picard is; and that this episode serves to further that distance.  So in the long run for the series, perhaps the lack of fun chemistry between Sisko and Q is of benefit to Sisko as a character.  If so, it's a benefit to the series overall, and therefore not necessarily something to be upset about.

That's logical, right?

Right.  Especially if the episode is otherwise pretty enjoyable, and this one more or less is.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****

(season 1, episode 8)
airdate:  February 14, 1993
written by:  Peter Allan Fields (story); D.C. Fontana and Peter Allan Fields (teleplay)
directed by:  David Carson

A team of commandos from the planet Creosote or something (note: it's actually Klaestron IV) arrive on the station and kidnap Dax.  Their escape is (barely) foiled, at which point in time everyone finds out that they are executing a legal warrant for Dax's extradition; it's permitted by the Federation treaty with the Klaestron people.  Sisko does some fast thinking and gets the Bajoran people involved; after all, it's their station, so a Federation treaty isn't exactly the deciding factor.

There are some issues in this episode, and we may as well go ahead and talk about them now.

For one thing, this puppy-lust thing Bashir has going on for Jadzia really needs to stop.  I mean, I get it.  Have you seen 1993 Terry Farrell?!?  She's still smokin' hot in 2018.  In 1993 she was guhsplorbatten.  That's a word I just made up.  It means "attractive in a manner which reduces those attracted to her to a nearly-nonverbal state."  And she was guhsplorbatten, is what I'm saying.  So was Dax, so Julian being kind of gaga for her?  I get it.

But it's a bit unseemly for a Federation officer to be reduced to a nearly-nonverbal state, isn't it?

It's also probably a bit unseemly for Sisko to at one point start to hit Jadzia, restrain himself, and say "If you were still a man...!"  Hey, lookit, fella, either somebody deserves a punch to the chops or they don't.  If they do, then don't let a silly little thing like gender slow you down!  If they don't -- and in the vast majority of cases, they don't -- then maybe you need to summer the fuck down and remember you are a Starfleet officer speaking to someone under your command.

Neither one of these things bothers me all that much, but I wonder if maybe they should.  So i'm considering them issues, and now they've been addressed, and if you'd like to discuss either one further, let's do so in the comments.

The BIG issue of the episode, though, which I will say bothers me a bit, is that I do not for one second believe that there wouldn't be long-established legal precedents governing how symbiotic species' criminal transgressions were handled.  The Trill society would have almost certainly established such laws early in its existence; as members of the Federation, those laws would almost certainly be held to apply in situations involving Trill members of Starfleet.  Maybe that wouldn't apply if the alleged crime occurred on a non-Federation world, but what I'm saying is that the Federation would already have an established opinion on whether Jadzia could be held accountable for the crimes of Curzon.

I can kind of look over this, too, though, simply because turning a blind eye to it gives the series the ability to explore the question in a dramatic format.  And I have to say, it's a great question.  I don't really know which side of it I come down on, but if pressed for an answer, I'd say that I personally would think Jadzia should be held accountable for Curzon's crimes.  There IS a continuity of existence there, and since all that Curzon owns presumably passes to Jadzia upon his death, I think that must surely include the weight of any previous moral failings.

But that's just me, and anyways, the episode dodges that issue by simply having proof turn up that Curzon did not, in fact, commit the crime.  Convenient, eh?  As a result, no ruling is issued on the matter; viewers are left to decide for themselves.

Maybe that's fair.  Star Trek at its best makes us think, and sometimes refuses to spoon-feed us solutions.  I'm not arguing that this is Star Trek at its best, but it's about 3/5ths pretty fine, and that's not a bad thing to be.

Bryant's rating:  *** 1/2 / *****

"The Passenger"
(season 1, episode 9)
airdate:  February 21, 1993
written by:  Morgan Gendel (story); Morgan Gendell & Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  Paul Lynch

There's a lot of tension on the station over a shipment of bullshittium that is arriving from the Gamma Quadrant and is expected to be hijacked.  Arriving a bit ahead of this is a small craft containing a prisoner of an alien species and the cop who's finally caught him after all these years.  He causes a fire, Kira and Bashir end up onboard the ship, the serial killer guy dies but not before transferring his consciousness to Bashir, yada yada yada.

This is a dreadful episode, and it achieves that level of "quality" almost entirely on the back on a single performance: that of Siddig El Fadil, who plays Bashir.  I like Siddig (who would eventually [around season four, I think] change his name to Alexander Siddig) quite a bit, generally speaking; but the first episode of Deep Space Nine were not his finest hours, and the scenes in this episode in which he plays the serial killer possessing Bashir's mind are jaw-droppingly bad.

Somewhat better: the subplot in which Odo tries to figure out his place in the security chain of command alongside a Federation security officer.

Considerably better:

That's Caitlin Brown (also known as Julie Caitlin Brown), playing the obsessed cop who refuses to believe her quarry is actually dead.  She's not wrong.  I like Brown a lot; she later had a recurring role on Babylon 5, and was not used anywhere near as much as she ought to have been.  She's one of those actors who had a confusingly limited career.  (I say "had" as if she's dead; she isn't, and for all I know she might yet end up being a big star.)

Bryant's rating:  * / *****

And hey, get a load of Bajor Steve Van Zant, playing a tough with no lines:

Even the allure of pretend E Street members doesn't help this episode, though.  THIS is the kind of thing people are talking about when they say Deep Space Nine sucked in the beginning.

Speaking of which...

"Move Along Home"
(season 1, episode 10)
airdate:  March 14, 1993
written by:  Michael Piller (story); Frederick Rappaport and Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci (teleplay)
directed by:  David Carson

Sisko and the senior officers are attending a First Contact ceremony with a species from the Gamma Quadrant.  The aliens show up and ask where the games are, and to be taken to Quark's.  So they are, and this ends up in a sort of real-life game in which Sisko and company are sucked into a high-stakes maze, the object of which is to "move along home."

Two absolute stinkers in a row.  This one is, amazingly, even worse than "The Passenger."  It probably stands a good shot at being ranked among the very worst episodes of ANY Trek series.  I'll always nominate "And the Children Shall Lead" for that distinction, but this one is every bit as annoying, and doesn't have either William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy in it, so if this one isn't at the very bottom of the heap, it's damn close.

If anything saves it, it's that Armin Shimerman gives a good performance as Quark, and Rene Auberjonois gives a good performance as Odo, and they have some good moments together.  Avery Brooks is also fairly okay here, especially in the unresolved and relatively pointless scenes in which Sisko frets over Jake learning about the birds and the bees from Nog (blessedly not seen in this episode).

Otherwise, this is a doo-doo sandwich with pee-pee dip on the side.

Bryant's rating:  1/2 * / *****

"The Nagus"
(season 1, episode 11)
airdate:  March 21, 1993
written by:  David Livingston (story); Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston

The Ferengi head of state, Grand Nagus Zek, shows up at Quark's and commandeers it to hold a conference.  During the conference, he announces plans to spread Ferengi business and influence into the Gamma Quadrant, and for the effort to be spearheaded by the new Nagus: Quark!  Then the old Nagus dies and shit gets real.

Meanwhile, Jake tries to keep Nog in school and Commander Sisko kind of vaguely disapproves of the effort.

Jeez Louise, man; the Ferengi.

They're a thing, I guess.  And here's the deal: they're not my favorite element of Star Trek, or even of Deep Space Nine.  They are a bit like the mirror universe in that they are a thin concept spread much too thin(ner) for my tastes.  But other people love them and say that they are one of the many beating hearts of Deep Space Nine.  So maybe I'll chance my mind during this rewatch.

I don't entirely hate them, to be clear.  Quark himself is typically agreeable enough for me, largely on the back of Armin Shimerman's performance.  And I confess to having a bit of a soft spot for the Nagus, played here (and -- spoilers! -- later) by Wallace Shawn, who is either incredibly annoying or a hoot or (my choice) both.

I am less capable of dealing with either Nog or Rom.  But both are relatively okay here.  Rom is a pure weasel, and that kind of works for me; he will, later, be more of a lovable stooge, and THAT I do not care about much.  As for Nog, well, what can I say?  I can say that I don't give A SINGLE FUUUUUUCK about whether Nog can read or not.  Less than that.  WHY is he discouraged from learning to read again?  Is it good business practice not to know how to read?!?  Of course not!  That's an idiotic idea.  It's also poor business practice to have abominably poor dental hygiene, though, and these Ferengi fuckfaces have that in spades.  Would YOU buy a used spaceship from a dude whose mouth looks like it smells of targ taint?  Me neither.

However, since the focus in this episode is on the fact that Jake cares about Nog, and since I kind of (only kind of, but kind of) care about Jake, I can deal with Nog here.

Bryant's rating:   ** 1/2 / *****

(season 1, episode 12)
airdate:  April 18, 1993
written by:  Sam Rolfe
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe 

While investigating a homicide that happens during a business meeting of Quark's, Odo encounters a man from the Gamma Quadrant who claims to have met other members of the constable's species: the Changelings.  The man's homeworld wants him to be extradited to them for execution.  Will Odo comply?

There's a lot going on in this episode, and you can kind of feel it swelling up and mounting an effort to become better than it ends up actually being; but, sure enough, it collapses back into itself before it ever really gets anywhere.

For me, the bottom line is that (as previously mentioned) I just don't like Odo.  By which I mean, I don't care about Odo.  This is not to say that Rene Auberjonois is bad in the role.  He's not.  He's very good in the role, actually; maybe even great at times.  It's just ... the whole story with his lost people, the Changelings, never engages me.  Now, who knows, maybe that will change during the course of this rewatch.  But this first glimmer of it failed to move the needle on that for me at all.

I've also been profoundly distracted by an idea raised on a recent episode of Mission Log: when Odo assumes a humanoid form, are those eyes in his head actually eyes?  As soon as Ken said that, I just thought, boom, nailed it.  Because it just raises so many questions, right?  If those ARE functional eyes, then you are not allowed to sell me this fiction of him not being able to make himself a suitably humanoid face; that's just silly as-is, but if his physiology permits for him to form functional eyes inside his head, then it goes from being silly to being ludicrous.  And if they aren't really eyes, then is his entire body a multi-functional sensory organ?

It's just too ambitious an idea for series television to properly execute in 1993.  I'm not sure it could be properly done in 2018; take that and subtract 25 years and ... no.  Just no.

Even back then, I thought Odo was a failure on a conceptual level; frankly, it is only the performance by Auberjonois that made the character bearable for me.  And he's good enough here that at times, I find myself invested in what is happening; it never sticks, but the illusion of it presents itself here and there.  But then he gets knocked unconscious by a falling boulder and stays in his humanoid form, which makes me wonder hey, when he was a drinking glass earlier and the "glass" got broken, why didn't he stay a bunch of broken glass?  And there's no real answer to that, is there?

That's Odo as I see him, and it's a problem.

Another problem: guest star Cliff DeYoung, who plays the killer who tells Odo about the Changelings.  I've seen DeYoung in plenty of stuff; he never became a star, but he had a big 1993 of sorts.  He was in this episode in April, and then in May he played Joe Paulson in The Tommyknockers; and then, on September 10, he played one of the big guest roles in the pilot episode of The X-Files.

But boy, do I hate him in "Vortex."  This is not entirely his fault; it's barely his fault, in fact, since the makeup and costume and hair departments all seem to have conspired to make him look as awful as possible:

He looks like a reject from a hair metal band who got sentenced to wear the world's ugliest pajamas and then developed acromegalic growths of some sort on his forehead.  It's an appallingly unappealing look; and then on top of that, he's all stubbly and looks as if he probably smells like egg-rubbed taint.  "Darker, grittier Star Trek" need not imply that a guest star look as if he smells of yeast infection.

There is some good stuff involving Quark and (Apollo help me) Rom, the latter of whom actually made me laugh out loud once.  I also kind of like how Sisko immediately decides to just hand Cliff DeYoung over for extradition.  Some episodes, that debate would (A) have existed and (B) been the primary focus; here, Sisko's just like, "Nope, fuck this guy; he smells like spoiled crab rangoon, I want him gone asap."

Not a terrible episode; but one that does not move me in any way, and with which I could, on the whole, live without.

Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****

"Battle Lines"
(season 1, episode 13)
airdate:   April 25, 1993
written by:  Hilary J. Bader (story); Richard Danus and Evan Carlos Somers (teleplay)
directed by:  Paul Lynch

Sisko, Kira, and Bashir accompany Kai Opaka on her first journey to the Gamma Quadrant.  Once there, they crash land on a planet where two factions are fighting a hopeless conflict.

This is, at its heart, a decent TOS-style episode, which is always a thing I welcome.

Among its virtues: a strong guest performance from Jonathan Banks, who was probably best known at the time for his role on Wiseguy and is probably best known now for his role on Breaking Bad (and Better Call Saul).  He fits the role here (of a war-hardened cynic who has died over and over again and remains unsoftened by the experience) extremely well, and makes the most of it.

Avery Brooks is also really good here, and his best moment to date might come when he dresses Bashir down for having the temerity to bring up the Prime Directive.  And Siddig El Fadil's best moment to date might be the cowed way in which Bashir reacts to this dressing-down.

Here's the thing, though: while the moment makes Sisko seem like a right badass, it's not something that helps make him seem likeable or inspiring, which is what you kind of want from a Trek series if you're anything like me.  It's consistent with the sourpuss Sisko we've gotten so far, and Brooks plays it well here.  But I question whether this is what Star Trek is or should be.  Actually, I don't question it; I answer that question, and the answer is "no."

I'll also tell you right now: I don't give a fuuuuuuuuck about Bajoran stuff.  I useta, when it was Ensign Ro trying to fit in on the Enterprise.  Major Kira is a big step down from Ro Laren, though; there are times when I enjoy what Nana Visitor is doing in the role, but mostly, I think she is hammy and shrill.  Her emotions rarely seem genuine to me; she seems like an actor playing a part, not like a character experiencing things.  She's not bad as far as that goes; but it only goes so far with me, especially when the writing is mediocre (which this is).

In fact, I'm finding on this rewatch that the only character/actor combination that is working for me on a consistent basis is Terry Farrell as Dax.  I like most of the others some of the time, and rarely find myself actively disliking any of them; but compared to either TOS or TNG, my investment level with the cast is not great.  In some cases, that may improve; in others, it may not.  We'll see.

To commemorate these sentiments, here is an awkward-as-all-get-out cast photo that I found on Twitter:

At least two of them look like they are actively searching for a way to escape; at least one appears to have noticed those two trying to get away.  One appears to be playing the "hide" portion of a hide-and-seek game by freezing in place; three appear to be resigned to their fate, possibly by having been force-injected with depressants of some sort.

Nana Visitor is on fucking point, though; I'll give her that for sure.

And I should mention, by the way, that a lot of fans think she's great in "Battle Lines" and that the episode helps build her character.  Maybe they're correct and I'm just being a sourpuss in my own right; but I lose a decent amount of interest anytime these episodes turn toward Bajor-centric plotlines.  I know for a fact there is one episode this season later on that is immune to this sentiment on my part (it's called "Duet" and it is fan-fuckin'-tastic), so I'm not incapable of investment.

But Kai Opaka?  I don't care about her even a tiny amount.  I don't watch Star Trek for serialized plotlines about fuckin' religious leaders.  I just don't.  That's not what fuckin' Star Trek is; except that by virtue of its very existence, I guess it IS what Star Trek is: that bell has been rung and there ain't no unringing it.  But the thing is, I can get that sort of thing from Babylon 5 ... and will, in a much more satisfactory manner, once my concurrent delvings into that series begin on this blog.

See, the thing about that is, I don't believe religion does much good for anyone in the long run.  Sorry for believing that; I do not intend to state (or imply) that YOU should believe that, though, so you do your thing, it's all good.  But I myself do very much believe that, and so did the guy who created Star Trek.  So when you take Star Trek and turn it into what Deep Space Nine is when the subject of Bajoran religion comes up, I ... just don't care about that.  And that's an understatement.

Still, I don't mind Kai Opaka too much in this episode, and I find the way her story intertwines with that of the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis to be solid enough.  For the record, yes, I agree 100%: naming factions of an alien race the "Ennis" (pronounced like the first half of the word "Innisfree") and the "Nol-Ennis" was a bad idea.  The leader of the Nol-Ennis is named Zlangco, which is even worse, because it's pronounced "Slanko," like "Slanket."  It's shit like this that gets sci-fi fans made fun of in high school, guys.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****

"The Storyteller"
(season , episode 14)
airdate:  May 2, 1993
written by:  Kurt Michael Bensmiller (story and teleplay);  Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
The station hosts a negotiation over land rights with leaders from a couple of squabbling Bajoran factions.  Meanwhile, O'Brien and Bashir visit the surface of Bajor to help cure an alleged plague, only for the Chief to find himself appointed the village's storyteller and protector after the old one has a heart attack and falls the fuck out of this life.

This episode is dookie.  I'm sure some Trekkies love it, but ... eesh.  Rough stuff.

Both arms of the plot suck.  I guess you'd say the main story is the one on Bajor, and it is flat-out dreadful.  If you'd asked me before commencing this rewatch whether I like Chief O'Brien or not, I'd have said, "Sure, he's alright; not a favorite, but alright."  This has not proven to be the case during the first season, except maybe for on "Captive Pursuit," and even there he is by no means the highlight of an essentially good episode.  Here, he's just awful.  First, he steadfastly refuses to be at all friendly toward poor old annoying Julian.  He behaves the way an enlisted man would have behaved toward an officer in some old British movie, which is to say, deferential but disinterested.  Weird.  Second, he's just inept at being in Starfleet.  As soon as he got anointed the storyteller, he should have called Sisko for guidance.  This asshole clearly learned nothing during his years serving under Picard.

As for the story set on the station, it is heavily Nog-centric.  Do I need to say more?  Probably not, but I will anyways.  I know there are Nog fans out there.  I know Nog's story eventually turns serious.  And seriously, you need to give me a fucking break with that shit.  The Ferengi are so incredibly unappealing visually that I find it very difficult to ever excuse their presence.  If you get a really top-notch actor in that makeup and give them a really top-notch storyline, I can, will, and do accept it.  But I've got to have both of those things.  I can't have it just be Aron Eisenberg cavorting around stealing Odo's bucket to try to impress a girl.  Look at this disgusting troll's teeth!  No woman (or man) wants that shit.  Don't accuse me of being lookist, either; bad teeth on THIS scale is permanently on the no-fly list, and if you disagree, you're a weirdo.

As if all of that weren't bad enough, we've also got Jake Sisko running around in one of his never-ending series of one-piece jumpsuits, all of which are so tight that you can basically see his cock.  And hey, if that's your thing, I guess you're in luck, but what an odd decision to make with a fifteen-year-old actor.  Plus, the jumpsuits are plain old ugly.

Anyways, that half of the story is about a girl who has taken over her tribe or whatever after her father's death.  She has to learn the value of compromise, and she kinda/sorta learns it from Nog and Jake, which is SO much worse than just about anything TNG ever did with Wesley Crusher that it boggles the mind.

Bryant's rating:  * / *****

(season 1, episode 15)
airdate:  May 9, 1993 
written by:  Peter Allan Fields
directed by:  Les Landau
The Bajoran government is conducting some kind of terraforming project or summat on one of its moons, and Kira goes there to help evacuate its final remaining citizens.  They don't much want to leave.  Meanwhile, Jake and Nog buy a bunch of self-sealing stem bolts.

Oh for the love of God, it's a second consecutive episode in which the b-plot is focused on Jake and Nog.  This is not a positive development.  But I'll be damned if I didn't actually enjoy it.  It pains me to admit that, but it's true.  Here these two goobers are, running around the station, trying to figure out a way to turn yammak sauce into money; and motherfuck if it eventually doesn't work!

What's fun about it is that it's 100% non-melodramatic.  In no way is it a serious or weighty subplot; it's just two kids farting around trying to have fun.  And for a Ferengi child -- and for Nog specifically -- THIS would absolutely be how fun was had.  Why is it fun for Jake?  Well, because he likes hanging out with Nog, so it's a thing they can do together.

Just that right there gets me closer to liking the Ferengi than any episode of any Star Trek previous to this one.  Don't give me shifty-eyed smuggling and lame government coups, give me a couple of kids drunk on the idea that you can take a thing nobody wants, find someone who wants it, make some profit in the process, and then use that profit to do the same thing all over again.  Bam: the allure of capitalism and salesmanship, explained via a kid with a butt-shaped head and the worst teeth you've ever seen in your life, and his partner who wears nothing but onesies.

I don't necessarily expect this success to be repeated next time out, but we'll see.

Anyways, it's the a-plot that makes this episode a minor classic.  The lovably crusty old farmer who doesn't want to leave his home is played beautifully by Brian Keith.  He and Nana Visitor have awesome chemistry together; this is probably the most I've liked Kira in any episode thus far.  Also, it's the most interested I've ever been in the Bajoran plotline of the overall series.

It's Kira's episode, but it results in a few excellent scenes for Sisko and Avery Brooks, as well.  Sisko is weirdly zen in this one, and Brooks makes that work; he's a blank, but you can tell there's something going on underneath the surface that we aren't privy to.  You don't get this from Kirk or Picard, for which I am glad; but Sisko need not be Kirk or Picard, and I am increasingly glad for that, too.

Bryant's rating:  **** / *****

"If Wishes Were Horses"
(season 1, episode 16)
airdate:  May 16, 1993
written by:  Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford (story); Nell McCue Crawford & Williams L. Crawford and Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  Rob Legato
Thanks to some science stuff off the port bow, the imaginations of station residents begin manifesting in reality.

This episode is made of targ anuses, but it's not as bad as I remembered, and there are occasional moments that work pretty well.  Most of those moments involve Sisko, who, under Avery Brooks' guidance, continues to be an interesting (though underdeveloped) character.  Sisko does a lot of sitting in this episode, but the way Brooks plays these moments, it's clearly contemplation in which things are going on in Sisko's head.  It's hard for me not to impose an idea upon this stuff: that Sisko is still reeling from his encounter with the wormhole aliens, and is spending as much time as possible reflecting upon that experience.

That might be a bit of a stretch, of course, and in the end this episode is also one which contains Rumpelstiltskin and ostriches and whatnot.  I'm 100% done with the Julian-perving-on-Jadzia subplot, and the Odo-harrassing-Quark subplot is pretty damn grating here as well.  In fact, I hated everything with Quark in this one.

But the episode's central idea isn't a terrible one: a race of aliens are journeying through the galaxy, learning about other civilizations via tapping into their imaginations.  Okay, cool; that's the kind of thing I can imagine having happened on TOS or TNG, which means it is fundamentally Star Trek, and even though it didn't result in a good episode this time, it's an honorable attempt.

Bryant's rating:  ** / *****

"The Forsaken"
(season 1, episode 17)
airdate:  May 23, 1993
written by:  Jim Trombetta (story); Don Carlos Dunaway and Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  Les Landau
A probe that emerges from the wormhole infests the station with a pesky non-biological lifeform which latches itself onto the computer system.  Meanwhile, a quartet of Federation ambassadors have arrived on the station to see it for themselves.  Three of them prove to be a handful for Julian; the other -- Lwaxana Troi -- proved to be a handful for Odo.

This episode has its selling points, but I can't honestly say that I like it very much.  For one thing, it brings up too many questions.  Why exactly can Odo turn himself into a razorcat but not into a Bajoran?  Makes no sense.  Why exactly would Sisko put Bashir -- a medical officer whose energies would have been needed elsewhere -- in charge of the diplomats?  Just to be a dick in the way Curzon Dax was once a dick to him?  Makes no sense.  Why exactly does Star Trek have such a difficult time depicting Vulcans in a successful manner?  Makes no sense.

More importantly, why THE FUCK was bringing Lwaxana Troi onto DS9 a thing anyone thought would be a good idea?

Alright, I can probably answer that: it's either that the producers loved Majel Barrett Roddenberry or felt like they owed her the opportunity.  Or perhaps both.  And the thing about that is, she's quite good during the moments when Lwaxana drops her facade and shows Odo to herself as she truly is.  This means that -- and we all know this already from TNG, I suppose, but it's worth repeating -- one must also say she's quite good in the rest of the episode, since Lwaxana herself is clearly trying to be as annoying as possible; that she succeeds means Majel herself succeeds, but it's a success in getting on one's nerves.  This is like saying I should be complimentary of you if you succeed in infesting my car with ants.  I mean, job well done, but fuck you in the nose.

The scenes of her throwing herself on Odo make me want to crawl out of my skin.  I don't mean this in the sense of being repulsed by Roddenberry herself; no, she's handsome enough and I do admire the show(s) for sexualizing a woman of an age not normally sexualized in filmed entertainment.  That is good and proper.  But she's damn near a rapist here, and I don't feel good about the show's willingness to suggest that all that unwanted attention is fine, just fine in the end because after all, she's really a nice person underneath it all.  What kind of message is that?!?

A bad one.

And while I'm not quite able to say this is a bad episode, I will comfortably say that it's an annoying one.
Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****

"Dramatis Personae"
(season 1, episode 18)
airdate:  May 30, 1993
written by:  Joe Menosky
directed by:  Cliff Bole

Kira is in a tizzy because there's a ship of Valerians who used to smuggle dolamide to the Cardassians about to dock and she wants to impound them and check to see if they are still smuggling dolomide to the Cardassians but Sisko won't let her because of reasons or something.  I think he just wants dolomide to get onto the station or something.  Anyways, a Klingon ship comes through the wormhole and then explodes but not before the first officer beams off and onto the station and proclaims victory, which is really rather a Klingon thing to do even though nobody seems to think so.  Turns out he was infected with a telepathic form of possession from some alien ruins his ship investigated, and lickety-split the main cast members of the show are infected with it, too, and begin scheming against one another with the Valerian ship as the ostensible reason.  Odo is unaffected and has to sort it all out.

There are lots of Deep Space Nine fans, and there are probably a lot of them who will be deeply unimpressed by my impressions of this first season.  So be it; this first season is really quite mediocre, all things considered.  "Dramatis Personae" is no exception.  I have no trouble imagining some fans loving it thanks to the fun the cast has with their out-of-the-ordinary roles.  It's not dissimilar to a Mirror Universe episode in that regard, and I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that (A) that -- doing a Mirror Universe episode without actually going to the Mirror Universe -- was the specific intent or (B) that the relative success the cast had was the reason why the series eventually did go to the Mirror Universe.

I found it all to be highly tedious, however.  The only member of the cast whose work I enjoyed in their "posessed" guise here was Colm Meaney, because it allows him to find a bit of spark as O'Brien, a thing he has mostly been without this first season.  Avery Brooks has a few good moments, but also has a lot of bad ones, and a few downright terrible ones.  I flat-out hate Nana Visitor in this mode, and am dreading her role as the Intendant when those aforementioned Mirror Universe eps roll around.

Whatever.  I could probably complain some more, but this is just not a bad enough episode for me to get that worked up; and it's certainly not a good enough one for me to have enjoyed.

Better luck next week...

Bryant's rating:  ** / *****

(season 1, episode 19)
airdate:  June 13, 1993
written by:  Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci (story); Peter Allan Fields (teleplay)
directed by:  James L. Conway
A Cardassian man with a rare disease finds his way onto the station, is identified by Major Kira as being a war criminal who served at the labor camp she helped liberate twelve years previously, and is tossed into the brig.  After denying to have been at the labor camp, he is eventually revealed to be something decidedly different than what he says he is.

This is one of the very few first-season DS9 episodes I would rank as a classic, but I'd definitely put it in that category; it might be my favorite episode of the season.

I always think of myself as being uninterested in the Bajoran plotlines running throughout the series; and perhaps that will still bear out as this rewatch continues, but for now, it's got to be pointed out that among my top three episodes of the season are two -- "Progress" and this one -- that deal with it head-on through the lens of Kira's former life as a resistance fighter.  So ... huh.  Interesting!

It's unthinkable for me to discuss "Duet" any farther without delving into spoiler territory, so be aware that they are incoming in






The episode takes a major turn when we discover that Marritza, the file clerk whose illness gave him away, is in fact Gul Darhe'el, the "butcher of Gallitep."  And then it takes another turn when we find out the truth: that this man IS Marritza, and that he has assumed the identity of the years-dead Darhe'el in the hopes of being placed on trial on Bajor.  See, he wants to be found guilty; he wants to pay for the crimes of Darhe'el in order to push Cardassia toward an acceptance of what it did to Bajor.

It's all moving stuff, aided by a tremendous performance by Harris Yulin as Marritza.  He is matched pretty much every step of the way by Nana Visitor, who seemingly responded REAL goddamn well to great teleplays in which she got to act opposite terrific older men.  I've disliked Visitor's performances at times during this first season; I've also loved them on occasion, and "Duet" is one of those.  She's never been better (so far) than in the moments in which she is confronting Marritza after finding out who he truly is.

Also worth mentioning: both Avery Brooks and Rene Auberjonois are very effective in their roles.  Also, Marc Alaimo finally makes a second appearance as Gul Dukat, and is excellent.

In the end, what the episode ends up being is a resounding affirmation of an idea that Star Trek in its various guises has not always done a great job of portraying: a race (or species) of people is not monolithic in its morality.  In Star Trek, Cardassians are the villains; and to be sure, they have seemingly done some truly villainous and evil things in the history of the franchise.  But thinking that each individual Cardassian is evil is in and of itself an evil opinion.  Kira Nerys seemingly learns that lesson once and for all here.

And unfortunately, she has to learn it by seeing one of her own kind -- who seems to be rather a despicable man in his own right -- commit a fatal hate crime.

With this episode, Deep Space Nine took a step toward actually making something interesting out of its implied promise to investigate a darker and more morally troubled corner of the Trek universe.  Twenty-five years later, I remain conflicted as to whether that promise was a good use of the Star Trek brand.

But when the episode in question is as good as this one, I'm inclined not to care.

Bryant's rating:  ***** / *****

Speaking of which...

"In the Hands of the Prophets"
(season 1, episode 20)
airdate:  June 20, 1993
written by:  Robert Hewitt Wolfe
directed by:  David Livingston
Vedek Winn, a Bajoran spiritual leader who is one of several candidates to replace Kai Opaka, arrives on the station with an agenda: to ensure that Keiko stops teaching the station's children scientific interpretations of the wormhole that minimize the role of the prophets.  As her influence spreads among the Bajorans on Deep Space Nine, things begin to turn ugly fast.


If the bulk of the first season of Deep Space Nine was mediocre or even downright weak -- and I would argue that that is indeed the case -- then you've really got to admire the one-two punch they threw with the final two episodes.

"In the Hands of the Prophets" is provocative, boundary-pushing stuff; this is quintessential Star Trek.

There are several great scenes, but the best in my view is the one in which Jake comes to Benjamin's office to complain about how Mrs. O'Brien and her teachings are being treated.  His attitude is basically, "This is dumb."  Sisko teaches his son a lesson about how to be tolerant without sacrificing your own beliefs, and will go on throughout the episode to practice what he ... uh ... teaches.

As we will see, however, his tolerance only goes so far: it stops at the point where tolerance emboldens the intolerance of others and puts the notion of tolerance itself at risk.  So while he absolutely wants to accommodate the beliefs and practices of the orthodox Bajorans, when things get to the point of terrorist bombings of schools and assassination attempts on the lives of opposing candidates for office, Sisko's patience evaporates immediately.  Even then, he trusts in the fact that the examples the Federation has been exhibiting will serve to move the Bajoran people forward; he and the Federation need not push them in that direction, they need only encourage them by example.

This is a subplot that remains 100% relevant today; by no means is this the first episode of a Star Trek series about which that can be said, but it is always gratifying to find evidence that one of the shows has its finger on the pulse of our own society's major concerns.

This episode is also notable for introducing two major new characters who will recur going forward: Vedek Winn (played in extremely effective style by Oscar winner Louise Fletcher) and Vedek Bareil.  I've never been a fan of either of these characters, and the jury remains out on whether I will be able to embrace Bareil on this new rewatch.  Winn, however, fascinated me this time; I'm looking forward to seeing if that maintains over the remainder of the series.

Bryant's rating:  ***** / *****

So, that's a wrap on season one.  Overall, I think it's one of the weakest seasons of any Star Trek to this date (1993); in fact, I'd probably say it's THE weakest, with the possible exception of the second season of the animated series.  Let's have a look at my rankings, worst to best:
Move Along Home  (1/2 *)
The Storyteller  (*)
The Passenger  (*)
If Wishes Were Horses  (**)
Babel (**)
Dramatis Personae  (**)
The Forsaken  (** 1/2)
A Man Alone  (** 1/2)
Vortex  (** 1/2)
The Nagus  (** 1/2)
Past Prologue  (***)
Q-less  (***)
Battle Lines  (***)
Dax  (*** 1/2)
Captive Pursuit  (*** 1/2)
Progress  (****)
Emissary  (****)
In the Hands of the Prophets  (*****)
Duet  (*****)

By my count, that's a mere nine episodes of twenty that I can honestly claim to like.  Two all-time classics; two near-classics; two above-average; three strong but unexceptional; four decent; three below-average; two stinkers; and one all-time turd.  Expressed mathematically, the average score for the season is 2.625 out of 5.  Not great.

Not awful, either; not bad, even.  Anyways, expressing things of this nature mathematically is a risky proposition, and one I mostly avoid.  Still ... 2.625 out of 5 is a pretty damn accurate reflection of my feelings about the series through its first season: it's right about in the middle, and the end result is that I'm a little bit indifferent toward it.

But hey, those last two episodes are great; and the pilot ("Emissary") is one of the best Trek pilots.

That ain't nothing.

Looking forward to season two!  For me, it's already begun; for you, it'll be a few months before the next post in this series.  I hope to see you then.


  1. (1) I agree on Odo re: your remarks in "A Man Alone." The concept never worked for me from the get-go and I just could never flow with it.

    (2) What you describe re: Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine certainly DOES sound kind of shady on Paramount's part. An unfortunately common enough practice although one where usually the offended party gets a settlement or something, and it sounds like Stracynski got nothing.

    (3) "why does it seem to be about the size of a Blockbuster Video?" Someone out there has no idea what that means. I don't say this with any air of superiority for being one of those who do - i.e. anyone of a certain age would. It's just funny. It's like in 70s media where someone mentions a style or make of hat, or horse-and-buggy / old telephone exchange references. I digress - your point about the station rings true to my recollection of DS9. (Which I've only ever seen a smattering of the first season and the last season and a couple of the mirror episodes and the Tribbles episode. So: not an expert by any means; there's way more I haven't seen than I have.)

    (4) I like your point about BSG being a fusion of sensibilities first circulated by Babylon 5 and DS9. VOY, too, certainly - I've really been struck at how many elements of BSG seem like "VOY did it this way; let's go THIS way." (Altho, I'm equally struck by how many elements of the 21st century BSG first appeared in the 1970s BSG, which I find - sadly - virtually unwatchable now.)

    (5) Oh man, that Cartman clip cracked me up.

    (6) Is Cardies truly an offensive term? isn't it just an abbreviation of Cardassian? I take your point completely and I agree, just doesn't strike me as particularly bad. It might, however, provoke a bit of dialogue where O'Brien and some other character (who presumably takes offense or points it out) discuss other terms. I don't know, just riffing. (O'Brien could respond with "I didn't call him a (grayskin)" or whatever. Even that wouldn't be Star Trek, though. Best to leave it out altogether.)

    (7) "it's a real shame that this is the final time we see Vash; she could easily have been utilized as a recurring character to spice up the Quark plotlines. Instead, we get Rom and Nog. Saints preserve us." Very good point.

    (8) I believe I saw only up to "Dax" so now I head into unknown terrain.

    (9) "Even the allure of pretend E Street members doesn't help this episode, though." I love this sentence.

    (10) I feel the exact same way about both the Ferengi (nothing makes sense with them) and with Wallace Shawn (who is easily the best thing the species have going for them in any Trek franchise.)

    1. (1) I'm curious to see how I'll handle my own feelings about this as my rewatch progresses. On the one hand, it feels like the sort of thing I'll just never accept. But does that rule out enjoying it on occasion despite the lack of acceptance? Probably not. Time will tell.

      (2) Nothing whatsoever. On the other hand, his own show DID end up getting made, and people DO still talk about it (probably about as frequently as DS9 is talked about), and he's still working in Hollywood frequently to this day. So all in all, he's done alright.

      (3) A friend of mine recently moved to Anchorage, which was home to one of the very last remaining Blockbuster stores. I think it's the one which had become semi-famous for having a snarky Twitter feed. Anyways, she got to go to it a few times and then it announced it was going under. Bummer! This is the way of the world, I suppose; but it really is difficult for me to fathom that the world (my corner of it at least) is essentially devoid of video-rental stores at this point. I can fathom the fact of it; I am less able to fathom the need for that fact to exist.

      (4) This entire blog grew out of a desire to chart the evolution of the space-based television show. Part of me wishes that I'd stuck to my impulses and followed that thesis, because I think it'd be a lot of fun to say, "Alright, Star Trek influenced Babylon 5 by causing it to do all the things Trek hadn't done, and then Farscape kind of took that and ran with it but in a meta way, and then Battlestar kind of took that and ran with it in a philosophical way," and so forth. But it's too big an idea for me to have really buckled down and tackled without it being all-consuming. So I'm content instead to just tackle it a piece at a time, and then maybe put it all together at some point in the future. It'll be fun either way, so I'm content with that.

      (5) I need to watch more "South Park."

      (6) It may not actually be as offensive as I'm making it out to be. But I do think there is palpable hate in O'Brien's voice when he says it, and it strikes a false note with me. It's a carryover from his role on TNG, granted; but it strikes a bit of a false note with me there, too.

      (7) I wonder if any thought was ever given to giving them their own spinoff series? Q and Vash, I mean. I'm not sure what such a series could/would have been, or if I'd have been into it, but this almost feels like a backdoor pilot episode.

      (8) Is it kind of cool to basically have an entire Trek series still out there to be digested someday? I think I'd look at it that way.

      (9) That whole thing cracked me up. Like, even in space with aliens, a do-rag is a symbol for shadiness. So weird.

      (10) The Nagus is simultaneously awful and wonderful, and Shawn is perfect casting for such a being.

    2. (3) I'm happy to report that in the hinterlands of Illinois the Family Video franchise is alive and... well, perhaps not well, but I saw at least 4 or 5 of them in my travels to and from Springfield.


  2. (11) I didn't expect I'd be able to overcome my distaste for Neelix in this VOY rewatch, but I have. I'd say Ethan Phillips and Rene Auberjoinois are bringing the same game to the table in their respective performances, but yeah, there's only so much performance can do: the CONCEPT is flawed for the get-go. I've always been bothered by this, and it's gratifying to see it sketched out. I always refer to Worf's first episode, which I didn't mention among my DS9 eps but is one of the ones I've seen, although I can't recall if I've got the memory wrong or if it actually happens, but I think Odo shapeshifts into a working phaser. I was just like, no fuck that - not going on if we're all going to just let that one slide.

    (12) It's kind of striking how many Trek extras look like rejects from hair metal bands. The 2-parter where Picard pretends to be a ruthless pirate for Space David Coverdale's ship comes to mind, but there are so many, across all franchises.

    (13) Annnnnd I feel the same way about Bajor/ Bajorans, too. As with the Maquis: it was just never a concept that held my interest. I think you can explore religion in a Trek setting in the same way you can explore warrior-rituals/space-hunters, etc. Whatever one's take on these things and their impact on society or people's perceptions, just make it interesting. Bajor / their whole mythology just never really clicked for me. I was more vested in anything Klingon-y, and that was as broad strokes as you could get. Almost offensively so. And yet: they sold it to me, and I was happy to buy it, and I'm happy to KEEP buying it. Bajor, meh.

    (14) "after the old one has a heart attack and falls the fuck out of this life." A genuine LOL, nice.

    (15) "This episode is made of targ anuses" ha! There's another.

    (16) You know, I've STILL never seen "Dolemite."

    (17) Wow, Vedek Winn appeared all the way back in Season One? I had no idea.

    (18) You have successfully kept me (happily) from watching the episode of VOY I'd planned to in the 9 o'clock hour. I still have time for one and perhaps more, though, so nothing is lost. And much was gained! Look forward to your s2 thoughts.

    1. (11) I think a lot of people have probably found Neelix to be a major obstacle to their ability to get into "Voyager." You've got to figure that the design and initial approach caused a lot of people to just say no to the whole series. But for me, it's a failure of concept in a relatively shallow manner (mostly appearance and tone), whereas the failure of Odo as a concept is much deeper. His shape-shifting abilities are inconsistent and make very little sense; and what's more, they are mostly ignored anyways thanks to the budgetary limitations of that era. Which prompts a question: why not simply have him be a regular alien who had no idea where he'd come from or what his people were like? There'd be inherent pathos in that, and THAT'S what they end up mostly doing with him anyways (as I recall). So a big fail-flavored question mark hangs over his entire existence for me. Many fans would lynch me for saying it, of course; but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. (Can't remember on the Worf intro thing, by the way, but it seems likely. I look forward to the Worf era -- he's great on DS9.)

      (12) Yes! I know exactly what you're talking about. It's like there were some writers on the Trek staffs of this era who obviously felt that if you looked like you might have been at a metal show at any point within the past month, you HAD to be a villain of some sort, if only by association. Which, to be fair, is kind of the allure of metal.

      (13) This has always been my stance toward the Bajoran storyline, as well, but I have to admit that in at least three or four key episodes during this first season, I feel my attitude beginning to change about it a bit. I still question whether this was the best use of a new Trek series; but since that ship has long since sailed, there's only a minimal return on the investment of continuing to carp about it. Won't keep me from doing it, though, of course.

      (14-15) I'm always delighted to be able to make myself laugh with crap like that, so when it works on someone else I am doubly please.

      (16) Honestly, you're not missing much.

      (17) I had not remembered that, either! I thought she showed up way later.

      (18) Apologies for the distraction from Voyager-watchin'. I've not seen an episode of that in a week or so; I'm hoping to break that streak later tonight. I've only got two more episodes in season three, and then it'll be onto the fourth.

      As always, thanks for the comments!

    2. (12) By the way, after I left this comment -- and maybe this was unrelated and maybe it wasn't -- an ad popped up on my Gmail for a service called It's exactly what you think it'd be.

      I'm so charmed by the idea that I'm just gonna replicate their ad copy:

      "The ONE isn’t out there. She’s right here!

      She knows good music. She recognizes quality in her guitar riffs and in her men. She looks like a fallen angel and her heart is open for love and passion. She is waiting for you right here. Meet Metalheads is a premier site where thousands gorgeous women who love metal join every day. Join them and discover why this is the favorite meeting spot for so many metalheads.

      Create a free profile, choose the type of woman you need and open up your heart!"

      And here's the thing: I'm tempted to sign up and go through it JUST so I could report back on it someplace at Dog Star Omnibus. But I sense that it would a dispiriting experience, so I'm gonna vote no on that.

      If anyone else would like to take that bullet for the team:

    3. That is fantastic. Yeah, I agree, SOMEONE has to sign up and report back.

    4. (11) I like that idea, and it'd have worked much better. They could have done all the same storylines, too. Meh. The ship has not only sailed, it reached its destination, got a new paint job, changed names and captains, and made the journey to and fro several more times. But hey, par for my own mccourse: I'm still at the dock yelling at King to change the end of IT. This would be my own personal version of ON THE WATERFRONT. (Metaphor abuse!)

      Along those lines, though, ok, so the concept / visual of Odo was wrong. Instead of fixing it, though, they just kept giving the goddamn visual to more characters (first the other Changelings in the Dominion and then the Sphere Builders, etc.) It was such a weird obsession with an obviously bad visual, like the hundred variations of the ridged-nose/forehead people. I mean, come on guys! I almost want to do a ENT watch after my VOY one so I can truly trash s3 the way I always have in my head. I might have to.

      (11) Agreed on Worf - the one season I watched (actually I guess I watched a lot of season 6, too, looking at the episode list) he was my favorite part. I still love the final Gowron/ Worf confrontation. "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE ANSWER!" There sure was: a Worf bat-leth to the face. (Okay was it a b'atleth? I can't recall. I guess I'll see when we get there.) And since I can't go 30 days without saying it, STAR TREK: WORF - still needs to happen, goddamnit.

    5. The bad-makeup thing might have been some sort of function of production considerations. Maybe it was really easy makeup to do, so it just saved time? Seems unlikely in Odo's case, but who knows.

      I do know that the reason the Bajorans have the doofy noses is that when they hired Michelle Forbes, a dictate came down from on high that she was really attractive and the makeup department was to keep that an obvious fact for the world to see. So no heavy prosthetics. Hence, a doofy nose. My question about that is this: why bother? Just say she's an alien and be done with it. Worked for Troi.