Friday, February 8, 2019

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Season 2

From my perspective, the Deep Space Nine rewatch has barely paused.  From your perspective, it's been months and months since the season-one post.  We are existing on different fields of temporal reality, which is kind of like how the prophets interact with Bajor, right?
  
Well, something like that.  I eat more crackers than the prophets, I bet.
  
  
"The Homecoming"
  
  
(season 2, episode 1)
  
airdate:  September 26, 1993
written by:  Jeri Taylor (story) and Ira Steven Behr (story and teleplay)
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
  
Via a visiting spaceship, Quark receives a Bajoran earring that he is supposed to give to a Bajoran; any Bajoran ... they'll know what to do with it.  He chooses Kira, who does indeed know what to do with it: it belongs to a Bajoran war hero who is clearly still being held as a POW.  She borrows a runabout from Sisko, who is reluctant to help but decides what Kira already knows: this is a man whose presence could help to unifying an increasingly fractured Bajor.  The POW may well have other plans, however.
  
  
  
  
A while back -- before I began my season-one rewatch of this series -- I found myself contemplating my memory and perceptions of Deep Space Nine.  I've always been a bit conflicted about it; a bit ambivalent toward it.  It's one of those things where my brain knows it's a good television series, and I know there are numerous episodes that I love.  
  
But as a whole, do I actually like the show? 

It remains an unanswered question, and we won't have an answer to it for quite some time.  That's alright; I'm not here tonight to make any progress in answering it.  Instead, I wanted to mention one of the aspects of the series that I would probably use as a key exhibit in any answer leaning toward "no": the Bajoran subplot(s) of the series.
  
Thing is ... by definition, those "subplots" aren't "sub" anything.  That's the PLOT of the series.  It's why the series was created; it's arguably the key factor in the pilot episode, and for a good chunk of the first season.

THIS IS THE SHOW.
  
So if I'm ambivalent about that aspect of it, I'm ambivalent about the show; and if so ... well, it's no real surprise.
  
The final two episodes of season one -- "Duet" and "In the Hands of the Prophets" -- delved into that aspect of the show vigorously, and they did quite a lot to push me toward the side of enjoying that aspect of the series.  In those episodes -- and a handful of others scattered throughout the first season -- the concept was embraced fully, with a no-holds-barred approach that gives Deep Space Nine a feel unlike any other Trek series.  (I remain ambivalent as to whether a Trek series should do that sort of thing at all; but if it is, it's GOT to at least be done well, and in those episodes it is done very well indeed.  This helps make up for a lot of hypothetical concerns, I find; sheer quality makes for a good salve.)
  
The season two premiere is in many ways a backwards step.  Not a huge one; there are nice grace notes throughout, many of them small character moments that work well (Jake excitedly seeking dating advice from his father, Benjamin excitedly giving it; Quark confusing Odo by being helpful; Quark frustrating Rom by being avaricious).  But the Bajoran stuff mostly falls flat for me.
  
Some of that is probably due to the casting of the Li Nalas role; he's played by Richard Beymer, who seems bored by the whole thing.  And yeah, sure, I get it: Nalas is intended to be sort of a zero in a hero's clothes (no fault of his own), so the uncharismatic performance actually kind of works in that regard.  But that's an intellectual pro; it's an emotional con, and therefore it weakens the episode.
  
Things spice up a bit when Frank freaking Langella shows up in an uncredited, but significant, role as a key member of the provisional government.
  
The whole thing ends on a "to be continued," so we'll see where it goes from here.
  
On its own, this isn't bad; but it's nothing special, either.
  
Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"The Circle"
  
  
(season 2, episode 2)
  
airdate:  October 3, 1993
written by:  Peter Allan Fields
directed by:  Corey Allen
  
Kira, having been chucked off the station by Minister Jarro, accepts an offer to go hang out at Vedek Bareil's monastery.  He puts her in a room with the third Celestial Orb, which shows her a vision of getting nekkid with Bareil.  Meanwhile, Quark gives Odo a tip that leads him to discover that the Circle -- the terrorist organization wreaking havoc on Bajor -- is secretly being supplied with weapons by the Cardassians in what seems to be a gambit to cause the Federation to withdraw from the planet.  Kira is kidnapped and discovers that Minister Jarro is the leader of the Circle; and we also see him make a pact of some sort of Vedek Winn.




I was rather bored by this episode, which has a few nice grace notes here and there but is also weighed down by some incredibly uncharismatic performances.  Richard Beymer is unimpressive for a second straight episode as Li Nallas, for example.  Even worse: let's talk about Vedek Bariel, played by Philip Anglim.

Anglim is a well-respected -- and Tony-nominated -- stage actor, so the guy clearly has chops.  It's not clear from this episode, in which the role of Vedek Bariel may as well have been played by an oatmeal creme pie wearing an earring.  He seems, if anything, like a rapist-to-be making goo-goo eyes at Kira.  Nana Visitor gives it her all pretending to be kind of into it; I'm not sure if her relative success makes the episode better or worse.

Better by far: every scene Frank Langella is in, especially the one in which he and Louise Fletcher (as Vedek Winn) have a sort of seduction.  You're seeing two terrific actors dance with each other in that scene; and in Langella's scene with Avery Brooks, you're seeing a different scenario with the same outcome.  All that stuff is excellent, but it takes up only a few minutes of screen time, most of the rest of which is ... well ... boring.

Stephen Macht also shows up, playing a Bajoran military leader of some sort.  He is not allowed to do his Maine accent from Graveyard Shift, I am sad to report.

Bryant's rating: ** 1/2 / *****, which may actually be half a point too generous


"The Siege"
  
  
(season 2, episode 3)
  
airdate:  October 10, 1993
written by:  Michael Piller
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
  
Officially, Starfleet evacuates Deep Space Nine ahead of the impending invasion by the Circle; unofficially, Sisko leads a group of Starfleet and Bajoran personnel in a resistance against the takeover.  Meanwhile, Kira and Dax go on a mission to get proof of Cardassian involvement in front of the Bajoran government.




In theory, an action-packed three-part season premiere seems like a great idea for Deep Space Nine.  I was there when it happened, and my memory of those days is that the series was still very much in the process of establishing its own identity.  The Next Generation was entering its much-publicized final season at the same time, and Deep Space Nine was, for many Trekkies, an afterthought.  So why not begin its sophomore season with a format-busting three-part high-concept adventure?

No reason to not do that.

But did it have to be this boring?

Look, man, maybe there are huge DS9 fans out there who think this trilogy is terrific.  I do not judge them for their enjoyment of it; I simply don't share in it.  I wish I did!  But for me, this is all turgid and consequence-free filler.  I think this third episode is the worst of the trio, too; if you're looking for undramatic family drama with the O'Briens, here it is; if you're looking for an offensive subplot in which Quark profits by (over)selling seats on the evacuation vessels and is literally choked by Sisko, here it is; if you're looking for a dodgy action scene in which Kira and Dax fly a rickety old Bajoran shuttle, here it is.

Steven Weber shows up, and does a good job playing an oily member of the Bajoran military who (mostly unwillingly) takes orders from Stephen Macht.  He seems to be there almost entirely so the episode can have a 100% unreasonable villain who can end up murdering Li Nalas.  Oh, yeah: Li Nalas is still a thing.  For a while.

Anyways, look ... if you love this episode, then I encourage you to provide a spirited defense of it in the comments below.  But for my part, I think this is a lame capper to a lame three-part season opener.

Bryant's rating:  ** / *****


"Invasive Procedures"
  
  
(season 2, episode 4)
  
airdate:   October 17, 1993
written by:  John Whelpley (story); John Whelpley and Robert Hewitt Wolfe (teleplay)
directed by:  Les Landau
  
A quartet of nogoodniks use a plasma storm as cover for infiltrating the station and stealing the Dax symbiont from Jadzia's body.




One episode after a three-parter during which the station was evacuated and Quark was unable to leave the station in time, this episode opens with the station having already been evacuated and Quark being discovered as having been unable to leave.  In what way was this a good idea?  Nobody spoke up and said, "Hey, didn't we literally just do this?"

And that's maybe not even the most problematic thing about Quark's plotline this episode.  He disables the station's security array and allows criminals to take command of it.  Kira acts all mad about it, in what I assume is meant to be a nod toward realism, but the fact is that we as an audience are supposed to like Quark despite this.  Despite all his many misdeeds.

Can't do it.  He is a cretin who ought to be jailed.  Sisko's seeming unwillingness to do this -- and his willingness to allow Quark to keep doing what he does -- is unforgivable.  These are decisions made for one reason: to provide conflict on the show so as to avoid a perceived problem in the construction of The Next Generation.  I'm referring to the complaints of staff writers that Gene Roddenberry's insistence upon the crew of the Enterprise getting along hampered their ability to create drama.  This is an assertion that is not necessarily borne out by the series itself; I find it to be more of an urban legend than a fact.  Still, it's a widely-perceived flaw, and the creation of Quark -- and maybe the entirety of the Bajoran plotline of the series -- is obviously an effort to spice Deep Space Nine up.

For this...?  This is what that results in?  A criminal being allowed to commit crimes on a damn-near weekly basis?!?

Whatever.  This week, I am one step closer to being able to admit that I simply don't like Deep Space Nine and that it simply isn't what I think of when I think "Star Trek."  Others don't have that problem; good on 'em, I guess.

The Dax aspects of this episode are also problematic for me.  Does it make any actual sense that a host would be unable to survive the removal of a symbiont?  I guess you can argue that it does; some sort of defense mechanism on the symbiont's part, perhaps.  It feels like bullshit to me, though.  I'll grant you: bullshit is always a heavy element in a Star Trek series.  I can, will, and do accept that when an episode is enjoyable enough that it overpowers my susceptibility to bullshit.  If it isn't...?  The nitpicker in me comes out.  Does that seem unfair?  If so, I suppose I'm guilty of being unfair toward this episode.

At least a modicum of interest is provided by a trio of guest stars:

John Glover, playing Verad (pronounced "Ver-ROD").  He's great, unsurprisingly.  I spent the first half of the episode thinking he sucked as Verad, but he's great once he becomes Verad Dax; which, in retrospect, makes me think he did a fine job playing the weak-willed and mildly insane would-be host.

Tim Russ, playing T'Kar.  He's probably above-average as far as generic Klingons go; and while that's really all he's being asked to do here, he does that quite well.  If you're a Voyager fan who wants to enjoy this lame episode of DS9, pretend that this is not a Klingon, but Tuvok in disguise on some sort of obscure spy mission.

Meghan Gallagher, playing Mareel.  This was a few years before she landed the role of Katherine Black on Millennium.  My memory is really going, boy; I watched this whole episode knowing I knew who she was, but not being able to figure out what I knew her from.  Ay yi yi.  She's nothing special here, but it's nice to see her.

And them's all the kind words I have for this episode.

Bryant's rating: * 1/2 / *****


"Cardassians"
  
  
(season 2, episode 5)
  
airdate:  October 24, 1993
written by:  Gene Wolande & John Wright (story); James Crocker (teleplay)
directed by:  Cliff Bole
  
A Cardassian boy raised by Bajorans visits the station and becomes embroiled in a controversy over whether he should be returned to Cardassia or permitted to stay on Bajor.




Happily, this episode marks a return to quality television for Deep Space Nine, which had, in my eyes, been foundering severely during the second season during its first four episodes.

Let's get at least one big negative out of the way almost immediately: this might be the worst-titled episode of any Star Trek series.  "Cardassians"?!?  "Cardassians"?!?  That's the best you yahoos could come up with?!?  The WGA ought to take your cards away for a title that lame.

It's one of my very few complaints about the episode, happily.  I could also complain that the Cardassian kid has a silly name (Rugal, pronounced "Roogle"), I suppose; or that the actor playing him is a bit nondescript.  I could also complain that O'Brien gets to be hella racist again for a little bit; but Keiko calls him out for it like a boss, and then in his next scene, he actually has a rather sweet conversation with Rugal in which he does his Federation best to impress upon the boy that not all Cardassians are shitty; just the shitty ones.

Elsewhere, Sisko has some terrific moments.  Avery Brooks kills the scene in which Sisko is talking to Dukat and is interrupted by Bashir; intrigued, he kind of hangs back and allows the interruption to take place.  After, when Bashir apologizes, Sisko tells him not to.  "It's been the high point of my day," he says, after calmly eviscerating the doctor for how little substance his interjections contained; "don't do it again."  Brooks is dynamite here.

Also great: Andrew Robinson as Garak (finally making a return appearance) and Marc Alaimo as Dukat.  Spoiler alert: these are handily two of the best characters on Deep Space Nine, and possibly in all of Star Trek.  Put 'em together, and the results are usually quite felicitous.

Bryant's rating:  *** 1/2 / *****


"Melora"
  
  
(season 2, episode 6)
  
airdate:  October 31, 1993
written by:  Evan Carlos Somers (story); Evan Carlos Somers and Steven Baum and Michael Piller & James Crocker
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
  
An ensign from a low-gravity planet whose mobility needs are an issue for both her and the Cardassian-designed station is temporarily assigned to DS9.  Meanwhile, a business deal of Quark's goes wrong when a former associate he sold down the river shows up after years in prison.




I remember liking this episode when it first aired, but on this rewatch, it basically just got on my nerves.  I like Daphne Ashbrook as Melora, but that's about it.
 
It's kind of an admirable idea for Trek to introduce a disabled character -- which Melora isn't, technically; she's only disabled via metaphor -- and then not portray her as a complete saint.  She's kind of an asshole, because she's kind of had to be.  I think the episode maybe wants us to look down on her for the chip she has on her shoulder, though; and I also think the episode maybe wants us to think that it is only via the magical allure of Julian Bashir's cock that she is set straight.  I do like the fact that in the end, she decides she'd rather stay who she actually is than receive a cure that will allow her to walk unencumbered in heavier gravities than her own.
  
It's kind of a nifty idea, the gravity-disparity plotline.  But it also kind of breaks the universe a bit.  Wouldn't the Trek universe be drowning in races who evolved on planets with gravity very different from Earth's?  Of course it would.  And that makes writing Star Trek very difficult, and it makes filming Star Trek very expensive, so it makes more sense to just ignore it and pretend everyone has basically the same gravity needs.  So it's cool to see a character like Melora, but it's also the sort of thing that points out a significant deficiency in Trek's conceits that had been flying under the radar pretty successfully beforehand.
 
Also, wouldn't Melora's race have a very different bone structure?
  
Whatever.  I could and would let that slide if the story were better; but it isn't; it's pretty boring.
   
There are attempts to spice it up via the subplot, which is about Quark.  I am getting closer and closer to being able to admit that I genuinely hate Quark.  In this episode, he's once again involved in a straight-up murder; and is arguably an accessory to the theft of a Federation runabout.  I've said it before, and will almost certainly say it again: Sisko's allowing this criminal to stay on board the station, and in the capacity of an important businessman, is unconscionable.
  
A few yuks (pardon the pun) are had via Bashir and Melora visiting a new Klingon restaurant on the Promenade.  Ron Taylor is pretty funny as the chef who runs the place, and who is also a troubadour.  These yuks are incredibly out of place, I would argue; I like them on their own, and have no idea why they are in this episode.
  
Bryant's rating:  ** / *****


"Rules of Acquisition"
  
  
(season 2, episode 7)
  
airdate:  November 7, 1993
written by:  Hilary J. Bader (story); Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
  
The Grand Nagus enlists Quark's help in establishing a Ferengi foothold on Gamma-quadrant commerce, and Quark in turn enlists the help of a new waiter in his bar who seems to possess quite the business acumen.  The waiter turns out to be a woman in disguise!  And she's fallen in love with Quark!!


If they made Quark's coat in a size 58 chest, I'd get me one.


As a general rule, I do not find Ferengi-centric episodes to be particularly palatable.  Every now and then, though, I find myself surrendering to their charms, such as they are; and that's what happened with this one.  I found myself kind of moved by the plight of Pel, the female Ferengi who was bold enough to dress up like a man and go into the galaxy to try to earn some profits even though doing so was illegal.  It's honestly not handled super well ... and yet, I was kind of moved by it.

I also found myself feeling strangely invested in the love story between Quark and Pel, which is a weird damn thing to say; but it's true, so hey, whatever.  Helene Udy is really good as Pel, but Armin Shimerman is even better as Quark, who is charmingly befuddled by Pel's interest before he finds out Pel is female.

Best of all: Wallace Shawn, returning as Zek, who has some loathsome moments in which he sexually harasses Kira, but who also has a few damned funny moments.  Shawn's yelp of existential horror when Pel yanks her fake ears off is one for the record books.

Elsewhere, the Dominion is mentioned for the first time, kicking off a plot thread that will inform the series off and on for quite some time to come.

Overall thoughts: I put this in the low-key-charmer category.  I might be overvaluing it, and if so, I'm cool with that.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Necessary Evil"
  
  
(season 2, episode 8) 
  
airdate:  November 14, 1993
written by:  Peter Allan Fields
directed by:  James L. Conway
  
After Quark is assaulted in a theft related to an item he and his brother Rom procured for a client, Odo launches an investigation that sparks memories of how he first became an investigator ... and how he first met Kira.




This is a pretty good episode, and if you care about any of its component elements you probably will enjoy it quite a bit more than I do; if you enjoy them all, you'll think I'm nuts for the (spoiler alert) mere three stars I'm going to give this.

I wish I was with y'all; I really do.  But I continue to just not give shit one about Odo.  I know I've said that before.  Guess what?  I'm almost certain to say it again, many times.  It's just the truth, folks, and I wish it weren't.  I don't dislike him; nor do I dislike Rene Auberjonois in the role.  I just don't care.  Nor do I care about his relationship with Kira; I barely care about Kira herself (it comes and goes), so add these two together, and it's a big shrug from me.  Plus another episode in which Quark does devious things for which he ought to be exiled from DS9?  PLUS another stupid-Rom-isn't-really-all-that-stupid subplot?  PLUS flashbacks to the Cardassian occupation?!?

Well, okay; that last bit brings Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat, and I'm always down for that.

Some of all of this works.  I like the episode's final scene just fine, for example; Rom's uncertainty whether to be glad Quark is dying is kind of funny; the Quark-meets-Odo flashback is cool.

Like I said, it's a pretty good episode.  I just don't care about any of it, and I feel a bit as if I'm being derelict in my blogging duties by not finding something more interesting to say.

But hey, this isn't what I watch Star Trek to see.  So I'm simply not engaged by a merely-good episode about things which don't interest me.

Also: hey, do you suppose they've forgotten that Sisko is ostensibly the lead of this series?

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Second Sight"
  
  
(season 2, episode 9)
  
airdate:  November 21, 1993
written by:  Mark Gehred-O'Connell (story); Mark Gehred-O'Connell & Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe (teleplay)
directed by:  Alexander Singer
  
On the fourth anniversary of his wife's death at Wolf 359, Sisko meets a beautiful woman who is literally too good to be true.




This feels like a never-used episode concept from a middle season of The Next Generation; you know, not bad, but not all that good either, and in the end they found that they just didn't have room for it.  I could imagine this being a Geordi episode, or a Picard episode, or maybe even a Riker episode.

And when I combine that with the fact that I'm finally getting another Sisko episode on Sisko's show, the end result is an episode I probably like more than it deserves.  Don't get me wrong; I only kinda/sorta like it, but that's not nothin'.

Avery Brooks is good playing a slightly different side of Sisko than we've seen before (except for during a few of the "flashback" aspects of "Emissary"), and he and Terry Farrell have a few good scenes together as Jadzia tries to get Benjamin to commiserate with her the way he used to with Curzon.

I also like Tony-award winner Richard Kiley in the role of the egotistical terraformer who is looking to create his crowning achievement.  He's a complete blowhard, but Kiley sells the idea that people might actually like him enough to put up with him, and he also sells the moments when the scientist drops the bluster and shows Sisko who he really is.

Salli Richardson (who was later one of the stars of Eureka) plays the dual role of the terraformer's wife and the psycho-projected split personality who Sisko falls in love with.  Does that idea make a lick of sense?  No sir, and no ma'am, it surely does not.  But Richardson is alluring, and you buy that Sisko would be into her, so there's that.

All in all, not too special an episode, but not bad either; and if nothing else, it's nice to see they haven't forgotten Avery Brooks works for them.

Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****


"Sanctuary"
  
  
(season 2, episode 10)
  
airdate:  November 28, 1993
written by:  Gabe Essoe & Kelley Miles (story); Frederick Rappaport (teleplay)
directed by:  Les Landau
  
The Skreeans, a race of refugees from the Gamma Quadrant, show up at Deep Space Nine and want to turn Bajor into their new home.




You know that sound you make when you want to express moderately disgusted embarrassment on someone else's behalf?  Insert the sound of me making that noise here, on behalf of Deep Space Nine.

Boy, I hate this episode.  There's just so much about it for me to complain about that in order to get the breadth of it down, I'd have to rewatch the damned thing and take notes.  Fuck that; not happening.

So let me try to capture it from memory:

  • The aliens' language cannot immediately be processed by the universal translators, because their syntax and grammar are too different.  Gosh, they sure do sound like they're speaking a normal humanoid variety of gobbledygook to me, so ... no.  Not buying it.  The universal translator is a flimsy-as-fuck concept to begin with, so Star Trek is best-served by simply not calling attention to it.  This episode calls attention to it for what feels like about half an hour.  Bad idea.
  • The aliens' insistence that it's got to be Bajor where they resettle -- the planet Dax found for them on Sisko's orders apparently isn't good enough, despite being utterly uninhabited -- makes no sense.  It's there only so there can be some false drama.  
  • Say, wouldn't the Prime Directive apply to the Federation's interactions with the Skreeans?  I guess maybe the idea is that Dax finds the planet for them on behalf of the Bajorans, since the Skreeans are really interacting with a Bajoran station; but still, wouldn't the Federation encourage Bajor to adopt the Prime Directive and recuse themselves from assisting in this manner?
  • If this isn't a Prime Directive issue for Sisko and company, then why isn't it?  For that matter, why is the Federation not helping Bajor solve this agricultural crisis?  If THAT'S a Prime Directive issue, then frankly, the Federation's presence on Deep Space Nine makes no sense.  And if that makes no sense, then hella-frankly, Deep Space Nine makes no sense.
  • A big deal is made at the beginning of the episode about this Bajoran musician who Kira has talked Quark into hiring to play in his bar.  He's played by William Schallert, whom one does not hire to be wasted in the manner in which he is wasted in this episode.  Because the character and that subplot basically vanish after the opening.
  • Lots of Jake and Nog in this episode.  And Nog sucks as much here as he's ever sucked before, which is saying something.  I'm going to say again what I'm sure I've said before: the extent to which I'm apparently supposed to be accepting of how odious Ferengi are is itself odious.  I don't mean just their horrendously unacceptable teeth -- although yes, that, too (where's the profit in disgusting gums?) -- but also how they are apparently cretins one and all, even at an early age.  Their values do not mix with the values of Federation worlds.  End of story.
  • Look, if you're going to have Jake continue to wear those hideous one-piece jumpsuits, then I don't want to be able to clearly see his dick.  I just don't.  That's a child you're dressing in that manner.  How would that decision have ever been deemed acceptable?
  • Quark -- whose entire race is evidently scum, but who nevertheless makes occasional sense -- complains at one point about how the Skreeans flake.  As in, their skin flakes.  As in, their skin flakes off and there's bits of Skreean skin littering the station.  Now, look, that's fucking disgusting.  Flaky skin happens, but I think the weird makeup texture on the faces of the people playing these aliens is supposed to indicate that this is a race of people who flake A LOT, and do it ALL THE DAMN TIME.  And that is fucking disgusting.  I guess that makes me racist toward an imaginary alien species -- specieist? -- and I'll have to somehow figure out a way to live with myself for that.  But those people are gross and they can get the damn hell off my station, STAT.
  • The Skreeans are a matriarchal society, and Bashir is super weird about that when he finds out about it.  As if a guy who is a member of Starfleet has never heard of such a thing before!  Terrible Trek writing.  O'Brien, who is an awful person anyways, also seems a bit discomfited by the idea, and so, for that matter, does Odo, who isn't even an actual man!  Bullshit.
  • A dialogue-free role is played by Leland Orser, who would later co-star in the excellent Voyager episode "Revulsion."  That's not a complaint, but while we're here.
  • The Dominion are mentioned again.  The Skreeans were conquered by a race named -- I'm getting this from Wikipedia, and I kind of hope it's a typo of some sort -- the T-Rogorans.  The "T-Rogorans"?!?  Are you kidding me?!?  Anyways, these T-Rogorans were later conquered by the Dominion.  Yay, world-building.
  • Walter Koenig's son plays a dickhole who is bullied by Nog and then bullies Nog and then steals a spaceship so he can fly to Bajor to live there in defiance of Bajoran orders and gets blown up for his troubles, except not really on purpose but more because his spaceship was rickety as fuck.  He's not great; I've seen worse Koenig-family performances, but this one is definitely not great.

Did I have more to complain about?  I probably did, but mercifully, I'm already beginning to forget this one.  It's an episode where virtually nothing works except most of the acting, but in this case it's in no way enough to matter.  This is a dreadful episode, top to bottom.
 
Bryant's rating : * / *****


"Rivals"
  
  
(season 2, episode 11)
  
airdate:  January 2, 1994
written by:  Jim Trombetta & Michael Piller (story); Joe Menosky (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
  
A guy with a thing dies in one of Odo's cells and the other guy in the cell takes the thing, which is a luck generator or some sort of bullshit like that, and then the guy uses it to open up a bar right across the hall from Quark's, and meanwhile Sisko is worthless and also O'Brien and Bashir play a lot of space racquetball.




I just don't know what anyone associated with the big-picture aspects of Deep Space Nine was thinking with this episode.  That's true of much of this second season, so far.  THIS is what you do with your spinoff?  THIS is the direction you are pointing your franchise?

Very nearly everything about "Rivals" is awful.  There are a few decent character moments; Keiko is kind of cool in this one, and some of Bashir's ridiculous calisthenics made me chuckle.  Otherwise?  No sir.  You get this mess away from me, and you get it away right now.

Also, I'm going to complain again about how titanically underused Avery Brooks has been up to this point.  He doesn't appear in this episode until twenty minutes in, and once he does show up, he has so little to do that it feels almost as if he was the director of the episode and they writers purposefully gave him a light acting workload.  THIS IS THE GODDAMN LEAD OF THE SERIES. What are you doing with him?!?

Bryant's rating:  * / *****


"The Alternate"
  
  
(season 2, episode 12)
  
airdate:  January 9, 1994
written by:  Jim Trombetta & Bill Dial (story); Bill Dial (teleplay)
directed by:  David Carson
  
The Bajoran scientist who "discovered" Odo comes to the station with news: he's found what might be evidence of the origin of Odo's race on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant.  They visit it and bring back trouble.


  
  
After a few dud episodes, it's nice to have another one that I like.  And, to be clear, I don't love this one; but I do like it, and in the context of this season thus far, that's a win.
  
A few noteworthy moments:
  
  • The episode opens with yet another aggravating scene in which Quark does stuff and then Odo busts his balls over it and Quark gets indignant and Odo gets indignant.  I just don't care about any of that stuff.  But ... I will say that this episode at least provides some moderately interesting context for it by showing how Odo seems to have a similar relationship with Dr. Mora.  I don't think there's any direct correlation between the two relationships; it's just kind of interesting, is all.
  • Mora is played by James Sloyan, who appeared in a couple of strong TNG episodes ("The Defector" and "Firstborn").  He's good here.
  • Bashir continues to flirt shamelessly with Dax (whose complete lack of indignance at it helps keeps it from being offensive), and tags on a sentiment at the end of it here that is equally gross and sweet: he says to himself that some day he's going to stop chasing her, and then they'll see what happens.  It's gross because ... well, because it's gross.  But it's also sweet because you don't really get the feeling that Bashir is interested in an empty conquest; he's clearly been hugely smitten by Dax.  Still: give it up, dude.  That shit ain't ever gonna happen.
  • Sisko has a few nice moments talking to Jake about the need for him to study Klingon opera.  Brooks is great when he's good, which makes it doubly frustrating that he's given so relatively little to do during this era of the series.
  • Rene Auberjonois is good in the episode, especially when Odo is just sort of listening and watching.  Odo remains one of my least favorite Trek characters; but he works for me at times, and mostly works in this episode.

Otherwise, it's a nice-looking episode, and they sprung for a decent number of extras to make the security team look formidable.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Armageddon Game"
  
  
(season 2, episode 13)
  
airdate:  January 30, 1994
written by:  Morgan Gendel
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
  
O'Brien and Bashir are on assignment on a planet where a peace treaty between two long-warring factions is finally taking hold.  A crucial final step is being taken with the help of the Starfleet officers, who have found a way to neutralize "harvesters," a biological weapon that has been a pernicious element of the war.  When one of the factions attacks, however, O'Brien and Bashir are assumed to be dead thanks to doctored footage.  Very much still alive, they hole up after transporting away, and get to know each other a little better.




With a TOS-sounding name like that, you'd better bring the good if you expect to satisfy me.  I'd argue that this episode brings the mediocres, except in one respect: for the first time, there is a bit of a spark between O'Brien and Bashir, whose to-this-point contentious relationship never quite worked for me; but now, the show is obviously steering them toward a friendlier relationship, and lo and behold if it doesn't work.

Not only that, but both Colm Meaney and Siddig El Fadil shine individually; it's a low-grade sort of shine, but a shine nonetheless, and one hopes it points the way toward more meaningful work further down the line.

About the rest of the episode, I just don't have much to say.  It's alright.  There's an interesting idea in the plotline about two long-warring factions who are now so dedicated to peace that they will literally commit murder to ensure it.  Does this episode do anything interesting with that interesting idea...?  Nope.  It's too busy focused on being (A) a character piece for O'Brien and Bashir and (B) a whodunnit with Sisko and Dax solving the mystery of whether their fellow officers are still alive or not.  Both of those aspects work relatively well, but that leaves no room for much of anything else.

Final note: Rosalind Chao has a few good moments as Keiko here.  Oh, I guess that wasn't THE final note.  This is: the alien factions look ridiculous, as if their primary conflict is how to correctly cosplay as Cindy Lou Who.

And now, the actual final note:

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Whispers"
  
  
(season 2, episode 14)
  
airdate:  February 6, 1994
written by:  Paul Robert Coyle
directed by:  Les Landau
  
After returning from the Gamma quadrant on a mission to help set up peace talks between two warring factions, O'Brien begins noticing that something is wrong with his fellow officers, and even with his wife.  They just aren't acting normally; it's almost as if they've been replaced.




For the second consecutive week, Deep Space Nine goes to the Gamma quadrant for peace talks between alien factions we've never seen before and will never seen again, AND in the process of doing so makes me like Miles O'Brien a little bit more than I did before.

Spoiler alert: it's "O'Brien" who's been replaced in this one.  Yep, the guy we follow the entire time is actually a clone, one who's been somehow programmed to sabotage the peace talks when they take place on DS9.  But he's apparently got so much of Miles's character in him that he goes on a me-against-the-world mission to prove that things are not what they should be.  I mean ... he's not wrong.

Colm Meaney is really good in this one, and the notion that a clone -- even one who'd been tampered with -- could be so like the genuine article as to essentially BE the genuine article is a fun notion.  Trek has done this before, but this episode gives it a good new wrinkle.

One question, though.  Toward the beginning, when Miles's daughter Molly acts as if she is scred of and/or disgusted by the clone, does that mean that Keiko had sat her down and told her, "Now, Molly, this isn't really your daddy"?  Because Molly's behavior makes no sense otherwise.  And if that conversation did happen, boy oh boy, isn't that going to cause irreparable damage to Molly's psyche (and/or to her relationship with Miles)?

Not a bad episode, though.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Paradise"
  
  
(season 2, episode 15)
  
airdate:  February 13, 1994
written by:  Jim Trombetta and James Crocker (story); Jeff King and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler (teleplay)
directed by:  Corey Allen
  
While on a mission of some sort, Sisko and O'Brien get stranded on a planet where none of their technology works.  There, they find a small colony of humans who have been similarly stranded for ten years.  They've adapted and now think of their technology-free society as their home.  And they really, really want Sisko and O'Brien to think the same way they think.




That sound you just heard was me, breathing a sigh of relief as I (re)discover proof that I can love an episode of this series, after all!  It'd been a while; and may be a while before it happens again, for all I know.

Regardless, this episode is kind of fantastic.  Among its virtues is that it finally gives Avery Brooks something meaty to do as Sisko.  He's had shockingly few showcase episodes up to this point in the run of the series -- over halfway through the freaking second season -- and a few of those have been mere mediocrities.

Here, though, he is given opportunities to bring the full weight of what it means to be a Starfleet commander to bear on the proceedings, and he runs with that ball for many a yard.  Here we have a situation I can imagine both Kirk and Picard having to face; like them, Sisko faces it bravely and determinedly, refusing to surrender even one iota of his values in the process.  Brooks plays it somewhat differently than you can imagine either Shatner or Stewart playing it; and that's great, because this provides us a third way of viewing this sort of leadership.  Sisko is different; but Sisko is also exactly the same.

Welcome to one of the secret ingredients that have made Star Trek viable in its many iterations over the years.  It's not much of a secret, but watching this second season of Deep Space Nine, it is sure has felt like the producers and writers of the show had missed out on it somehow.

Also worth noting: Gail Strickland is terrific as Alixus, a truly hissable villain.  Alixus is basically a filthy piece of communist scum, and not in the good way.  She's done some genuinely monstrous things, and is not only pleased to have done so, but has been so persuasive in doing so that her followers can't even manage to be pissed about it when her deceptions are revealed.  She's a real piece of work, man.  Hats off to the writers for writing her, and to Strickland -- who is from Birmingham, Alabama (just up the road from me!) -- for playing her so capably.

Bryant's rating:  **** / *****


"Shadowplay"
  
  
(season 2, episode 16)
  
airdate:  February 20, 1994
written by:  Robert Hewitt Wolfe
directed by:  Robert Scheerer
  
Odo and Dax visit a Gamma Quadrant planet where they've found strange emissions.  There, they find a village whose people are inexplicably disappearing.  Meanwhile, Quark tries to distract Kira and Jake tries to avoid going to Stafleet Academy.




The main plotline of this episode involves Odo and Dax investigating the disappearances on behalf of the villagers.  Spoiler alert: it turns out that they are (mostly) all holograms and that the generator which runs them is degrading.

It's such a lame plotline that the episode has to have not one, not two, but three b-plots in order to make it a workable episode.

Except ... it's actually NOT a lame plotline.  Some of the execution is a bit lame, I'll grant you; but only a bit.  For the most part, I thought it worked pretty well.  It even made me like Odo a bit better; no small feat, because I still don't like Odo.  Sorry, DS9 fans; I just don't.  But I kind of do here, which makes me wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea to drown the episode in b-plots to the extent that it felt like they were cutting away from the a-plot roughly every two minutes.

Those b-plots:

  • In Odo's absence, Major Kira is keeping an eye on Quark, who is trying to engage in a big score of some sort with a cousin of his (whom we never see).  This stuff is awful.  I can like Quark at times, but I hate him here; Major Kira point-blank tells him she despises him, which, frankly, makes her seem like a bit despicable in her own right.  Except that I agree with her!  How is it possible for Kira to render a judgment on Quark that I more or less agree with and yet come off as unsympathetic as she does here?  That's a perverse sort of achievement.  Not in the good way.  That said, it's not a bad subplot, conceptually; I just don't think it works in execution.
  • Vedek Bareil comes aboard the station to visit a chaplain or somebody, and he and Kira become romantically involved.  Some of this is okay.  (Technically, I suppose you could say this is an extension of the b-plot and that the Jake stuff is the c-plot.  But I'm counting it as its own thing, because it kind of is.)
  • Jake, at Benjamin's insistence, goes to work assisting Chief O'Brien.  Problem is, Jake has zero interest in joining Starfleet, so this is a waste of his time.  There's some good character stuff here with Benjamin, Jake, and O'Brien alike.

Back in the a-plot, there are three significant guest stars worth mentioning:

  • Kenneth Tobey, star of the 1951 version of The Thing (From Another World), plays one of the villagers.  He's grizzled and gruff and he gives a good performance but looks absolutely silly in the costume he wears, which is a truly awful design.
  • Kenneth Mars, co-star of Young Frankenstein, plays another villager.  He's got a twinkle in his eye that indicates he is happy to be getting his paycheck and not otherwise all that sure what he's doing in this episode.  He's not bad, but he is miscast.
  • A little girl Odo befriends while questioning her about the disappearances is played by the same little girl who played the little girl in the fifth-season Next Generation episode "Imaginary Friend" some two years prior to this.  She's pretty good, but it's odd that she'd be used in two relatively similar episodes like this.  Television of yore did such things, though; I guess everyone figured most people wouldn't notice.  Heck, they were probably right about that.
  
All in all, not a bad episode.  A bit disjointed; at least two (and possibly all three) of the subplots would have made for decent standalone episodes, and the main plot certainly deserved more focus.  Add it all up, and you've got a genial misfire.
  
You can do a lot worse, frankly.
   
Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Playing God"
  
  
(season 2, episode 17)
  
airdate:  February 27, 1994
written by:  Jim Trombetta (story); Jim Trombetta and Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
  
Dax spends some time assessing the viability of a Trill candidate for symbiosis.  Meanwhile, a new universe is discovered on a runabout landing strut.  Meanwhiler, an infestation of Cardassian voles threatens to cripple the station.




If that brief plot summary above sounds like something you'd read on a Twitter parody account, know ye that no, it's an actual accurate description of this episode.  Which is awful.  It's so awful, in fact, that I've already begun to forget nearly everything about it, including why I -- spoiler alert! -- gave it two stars instead of one.

In part, it's because I'm happy to see Dax have something to do for the first time in a while.  But mostly it's because the notion of the proto-universe intrigues me; that plot element makes a great backbone for a Star Trek episode.

Which in some ways makes this an even worse episode, because why is such a fundamentally interesting idea relegated to b-plot status?  Yeah, sure, it both evolves from and helps to resolve the a-plot, so it's truly a part of the a-plot; but it serves merely as a Macguffin to that a-plot.

And speaking of that a-plot, it's also pretty good.  Dax assessing/mentoring a Trill who wants to become joined.  Sure; I'm down for that.  But they do almost nothing interesting with the idea here; there's some stuff involving Jadzia's differences from Curzon resulting in two very different Daxes with two very different approaches to serving as docent to joining candidates.  This is fairly incidental, though; far more time is spent on the Trill candidate, who is played by a sentient piece of unbuttered toast.  the character is utterly uninteresting; the actor playing him is even less interesting than that.

By my reckoning, this is the sixth poor episode of the second season.  An additional nine range from mediocre to fairly good, leaving (thus far) a mere TWO episodes that I can honestly say I would hold up as being quality episodes.

It's as if they just didn't know what kind of show they were trying to make...
  
Bryant's rating:  ** / *****


"Profit and Loss"
  
  
(season 2, episode 18)
  
airdate:  March 20, 1994
written by:  Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus
directed by:  Robert Wiemer
  
A former lover of Quark's shows up on DS9 with a pair of students in tow; they are radicals within the Cardassian underground, and they are on the run.  Will Quark help them?  Will Odo let him?  Will Garak's interests render the answers to those questions irrelevant?  Find out this week on Deep Space Nine.  (Check local listings.)




A not-entirely convincing attempt to make Quark -- Quark! -- the romantic lead of an episode.  It succeeds at a higher level than it probably has any right to, thanks in part to good casting: Mary Crosby (from Dallas!) is rather interesting as Natima, the Cardassian woman with whom Quark once had a passionate love affair.  I'm not sure she and Armin Shimerman have any actual chemistry together, but individually, they're pretty good.  If you hate Quark, though, you may find yourself wanting to leap from a tall building during this one.

Things are helped considerably by some of the character dynamics.  Andrew Robinson shows up as Garak, and he's as great as never (especially during a scene in which he gives Quark advice via fashion-related metaphor).  There's also a great scene between Quark and Odo, and the show even has a couple of strong scenes for Avery Brooks to play as Sisko.

Also on hand: Heidi Swedberg (from Seinfeld!).

Overall, I can't get too excited about the episode.  However, there's enough in it to recommend that I'm going to give it a better ranking than it might actually deserve.  And I suspect there would be some fans of the series who feel I'm being entirely too stingy with my praise; I don't fault them for loving it, but I myself can't quite get there.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"Blood Oath"
  
  
(season 2, episode 19)
  
airdate:  March 27, 1994
written by:  Peter Allan Fields (teleplay), based on material by Andrea Moore Alton
directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
  
Three Klingons -- Kor, Koloth, and Kang -- from Dax's past show up on the station with a plan to fulfill an oath of vengeance they collectively swore decades ago against a powerful criminal called The Albino.




I suspect many fans of Deep Space Nine love this episode, and maybe a few TOS fans as well.  Boy, do I wish I could say I'm one of them.  I can't.

I do like the episode more than not, though.  This is perhaps due almost entirely to the massive amounts of goodwill generated by the three central guest stars, and if so, perhaps that's enough.

It's a great idea.  Round up three of the big Klingon guest stars from the original series, give them a rip-roaring adventure to go on, and get one of the main characters of DS9 involved in it all.  As concepts go, that one is pretty golden, and if your Klingons are going to be played by the likes of John Colicos, William Campbell, and Michael Ansara...?  Hoo-whee!  All the better.

And it's such a killer idea that the episode kind of gets by on that and that alone.  I'll give it three stars just for that concept and for pulling off the casting.

However, a great deal of the execution falls grossly flat for me.  For example, it's SO good a concept that it feels preposterous to burn through it so quickly.  These are three rich, dynamic characters whose mere presence gives a spark of life to a series that has been more lacking in sparks of life than not through the first and second seasons to date.  Perhaps that's an unfair assessment on my part; it may be that I'm bringing a modern-day expectation of serialization to my viewing of this episode.  Even so, I think they burn through the concept too quickly.

Much of that is likely due to the production realities of 1994-era televised Star Trek.  Look, I love the Berman era of Trek; truly I do.  But it's also true that I love it most when the stories match the production capabilities.  "Blood Oath" is not that episode.  Its climax hinges upon the execution of a raid upon a large enemy compound, and, to be blunt, it sucks.  You get lots of stuntmen dressed as Klingons, waving around bat'leths and pretending to be badasses.  This era of Trek was almost never good at action scenes; this is lamentably true of most of its Klingon action.  Considering how much battle prowess that race is supposed to possess, the fact that it falls flat practically damn near every time a Klingon wields a weapon across all 25 seasons of Berman Trek is kind of regrettable.  Did nobody realize that it looked a bit embarrassing?  Was the world truly that innocent in those days?

You know...?  Kind of, yeah.  I was there, so I remember it.  We all kind of just watched silly scenes like these and mentally overlaid it with something grander and more impressive, and got on with our lives.  This is true.  It's a lot harder to do nowadays, though, and anyways, if the story isn't worth contorting one's brain in that manner, then why bother?

Speaking of mental contortions, one has to go through some to accept the makeup changes to Kor, Kang, and Koloth.  The Klingons -- including these very three -- obviously looked very different in TOS episodes back in the sixties.  When the design of their race was changed for The Motion Picture in 1979, that raised occasional questions among fans, but as a group we all more or less went along with it.  But the questions did linger: were the Klingons ALL these turtle-headed fellows we saw in the movies?  Meaning, when we watched the original-series episodes, were we supposed to look at those Klingons and feel that they DO look that way, but that the makeup was incomplete?  If so, that's not a terribly difficult task to manage, I suppose.

I don't think a definitive answer had been given until this very episode, where it is obviously implied quite strongly that yes, that is exactly what we viewers are supposed to do.

Okay.  Fair enough.  Consider it done!

The role of Dax is intriguing in this one.  Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure I buy Terry Farrell in this guise.  I like Farrell as an actor, more or less; she's got weak moments throughout the series, but she's got at least as many strong ones.  I'm not sure many of those happen in this episode, though; when Farrell isn't quite on her game, she feels something less than real.  She feels like a teleplay in a uniform; you simply don't buy her as a real person.  And maybe that works in this episode's favor, to some extent; an argument could be made that her alienness to these former compatriots of Dax's serves to help us identify with the Klingons.

It's an intellectual argument, and it might even be a good one.  But my heart feels nothing for Dax in these scenes, and shouldn't it?  Sadly, that's another thing Berman-era Trek didn't always manage to do convincingly: emotion.  I could rattle off a list of dozens of episodes that serve as examples of emotion done well; I'm by no means making a generalization that the series (plural) were incapable of being effectively emotional.  What I'm saying is that they were just as prone to take a swing at it and miss by a mile.  With the exception of a few moments provided by the Klingon actors, I simply don't feel anything for what happens here.  It's not exciting; it's not tragic; it's not troubling (as the beats with Dax talking to Kira and/or Sisko want it to be).  It's like a guy with Asperger's telling you about an episode that was exciting, tragic, and troubling; he simply doesn't get where the emphasis ought to be, and can't convey to you what needs to be conveyed.

Maybe that's offensive to some you; I don't know.  But this era of Trek often seemed a little bit as if it might be on the spectrum, especially if it didn't have a Patrick Stewart or a Kate Mulgrew or a Brent Spiner to lean on.  And my assessment is that while Terry Farrell could occasionally do good things, she could rarely do strong emotion, which is what this episode called for.

So: a big swing and a big miss.  But not a worthless one, and if you like this episode considerably more than I do, I kind of get it.  Wish I was there with you.
 
Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"The Maquis, Part I"
  
  
(season 2, episode 20)
  
airdate:  April 24, 1994
written by:  Rick Berman and Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor and James Crocker (story); James Crocker (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
  
A Cardassian freighter explodes shortly after leaving the station, and an investigation points strongly toward it having been sabotaged by Federation technology.  Gul Dukat surreptitiously shows up in Sisko's quarters and takes Benjamin with him on a trip to the Federation/Cardassian demilitarized zone, where tensions are more or less on the verge of breaking out into warfare.  When Dukat is kidnapped off the station, Sisko tries to track him and discovers that a friend and fellow Starfleet commander is responsible: as the member of an underground group called the Maquis.


My plot summary made no mention of this subplot, in which a Vulcan woman -- a member of the Maquis, as it turns out -- engages Quark in a business venture involving the purchase of a great many weapons.


I'm going to start by pointing out something I've likely pointed out before: the credits and theme music for Deep Space Nine are really boring.  Now, you sit me down in front of an episode of TOS, or TNG or Voyager, and I never skip the credits.  Ever.  I even kind of dig the credits to Enterprise, if you want to know the truth.  Deep Space Nine...?  I typically get up and go do some small task that I know will only take about that length of time.  I just don't care.

So it had been a few episodes since I'd actually sat and watched these credits.  I did this time, and yep, they're still a snooze-fest.  Apologies if you love 'em.

And frankly, apologies to you if you love Deep Space Nine.  This isn't my Star Trek.  I'm just not sure I'm capable of loving this series.  I certainly don't dislike it, on the whole; even as negative as I've been toward much of this season, I enjoy it well enough.  That's true of this episode, too; I like it.

But I'm not sure love is the cards for us.  This just ... it isn't my Star Trek, guys.

The major foundational work for the Maquis was laid in episode twenty of the seventh and final season of The Next Generation, "Journey's End."  That episode aired only about a month prior to "The Maquis, Part 1."  It's not a favorite episode of mine.  It's okay; there are interesting moral quandaries for Picard to wrestle with, and the Wesley-becomes-a-Traveler thing is kind of okay by me.  (Only kind of, though; Wesley turning his back on Starfleet is a little offensive when you consider that Gene Roddenberry named him that because his middle name was "Wesley."  Having a Gene Roddenberry avatar created BY Gene Roddenberry turn his back on Starfleet was not exactly the way I'd have done it; but I'm not Ronald D. Moore, now, am I?)

I'm not sure how well I think "The Maquis" plays as a sequel to "Journey's End," though.  The TNG episode made it clear that these colonists had been given a choice to clear out; they opted to stay.  That's on them.  At that point, if they begin suffering under the boots of Cardassian tyrants, they are not the Federation's problem.  Of course, I'm not sure I believe the Federation actually would abandon them, which makes this a problem TNG created and DS9 is having to deal with.
  
The real problem is: why was this a story the Trek head honchos -- who encompassed both shows -- felt like they needed to tell?  This was stretching the Trek concept beyond its breaking point and claiming that they'd redefined it.  Well, no.  You violated Gene Roddenberry's wishes once his corpse was cold, is what you did.

I do like this episode, though.  There's a lot to recommend in this episode, and the intrigue of it is fairly effective as its own thing.  It's not great television, or great sci-fi, but it's solid enough on both counts.  Is that enough?  I honestly don't know.  I feel like I want to say it isn't, but ... I do like the episode, so ... maybe?

Here are some of the selling points:

  • Avery Brooks is pretty good in this one, especially in his scenes with Bernie Casey.  He feels excited to be sharing the screen with Casey, and Sisko becomes magnetic in a way he hasn't consistently been.  (I wish I could say the same for Casey.  He's awful in this episode; he seems embarrassed to be there, and he's got a bit of a mushmouth with about half his lines.)
  • Marc Alaimo is great as Gul Dukat.  He walks a very fine line here: you want to trust him, but you know you shouldn't, and he makes it possible to feel conflicted about your choice no matter what choice -- or combination of choices -- you make.  That's good writing and direction, too, of course; but without Alaimo masterfully carrying it off, there'd be nothing there.
  • Bertila Damas is pretty good as Sakonna, the Vulcan woman who Quark desperately tries to seduce.
  • Though I am resistant to the idea of accepting it as my brand of Star Trek, I can't deny that the political aspects of this episode seem thoroughly realistic.  (I balk against the notion of Federation citizens -- and Starfleet officers, at that -- turning themselves into literal terrorists, though.  I just can't make that work very well for myself.)
  • Odo reading the riot act to the Starfleet officers for not letting him run station security as he sees fit is pretty great.  Rene Auberjonois does well with that scene.

We'll see how the second episode plays out, but yeah, I can't deny it: this is one of the better episodes of the season so far.  Which is not a terrifically high compliment, but this season should take all the praise it can from me; I'm being quite stingy with it.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"The Maquis, Part II"
  
  
(season 2, episode 21) 
  
airdate:  May 1, 1994
written by:  Rick Berman and Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor and Ira Steven Behr (story); Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
directed by:  Corey Allen
  
Sisko refused to join the Maquis, and then he gets chewed out by Admiral Nechayev, and then he meets with a glad-handing Cardassian legate, and then he gets some information from Quark, and then he rescues Dukat, and then I fell asleep for a while, and then he was confronting the Maquis, and then I was asleep some more, and then he was letting Hudson escape even though Dukat wanted him to kill him.  Then he was telling Kira he might have simply delayed the inevitable war.




There's an interesting scene toward the beginning of the episode in which Sisko goes on a rant about how Earth is basically a paradise, but that out in the colonies, all the problems haven't been solved yet.  It feels like an attempt to address the concerns of people like me for the seeming abandonment of the utopian ideals of Star Treks past.

That divide has always been there; and I'm sure a fascinating study could be made of it.  Here's a hint: Star Trek isn't made for gritty realism.  If that's what you want from Star Trek, you don't want Star Trek.

Still, it's an interesting scene, if only for the extent to which it seems to tackle the issue head on.  Sadly, it's undermined by a terrible performance by Avery Brooks, who seems to be channeling Babylon 5's Michael O'Hare in forgetting entirely how to be charismatic.  (Like Brooks, I like O'Hare a lot when I like him; but that's not super often in O'Hare's case.)  Dreadful stuff.

He's better elsewhere, at least in some of the scenes.  He and Marc Alaimo (excellent as always) play well off of each other.  But even his scenes with Bernie Casey fall flat in this second episode; and Casey himself is worse here than he was in episode one.

The best scene is perhaps the one in which Quark persuasively argues that the Ferengi approach to capitalistic rules is based in logic.  Good scene; but Quark's gun-running activities in these two episodes makes his continued presence on the station after this a joke.  It already was, though, so I guess we either accept that or butt up against it.  Me?  I'm kind of butting up against it.

That's me with this entire episode, actually.  I like the first; I dislike the second.  It simply doesn't interest me.
   

Bryant's rating:  ** / *****


"The Wire"
  
  
(season 2, episode 22)
  
airdate:  May 8, 1994
written by:  Robert Hewitt Wolfe
directed by:  Kim Friedman
  
Jimmy's new posting on the boat police gets him all wet, and when Lt. Daniels finds out about it he is pissed.  Meanwhile, Avon doesn't take something as seriously as Stringer wants him to.  Pretty sure Ziggy shows his cock again at some point, too.
  
Bashir tries to find out the truth about Garak to help him when he begins having seizures. 


 
   
This is a Garak episode, which means that at the very least it's got Andrew Robinson going for it.  He's great, naturally.

The episode as a whole doesn't do a whole heck of a lot for me, though.  The whole point is that Garak gives Bashir at least three different stories about how/why he was exiled on Deep Space Nine, and the cutesy final scene is meant to make us appreciate the fact that we have no idea which of them, if any, was the truth.  Oh, that scamp!

Here's the thing: I don't necessarily need to know Garak's backstory.  However, this episode kind of rules out the possibility of ever knowing what the truth about him is, and I find that to be tedious and vaguely offensive.  Not sure why that's the response I'm having, but I'm legit having it, and see no need to duck it.  We'll see where it goes from here, but this episode has taken one of the show's best characters and has, arguably, turned him into a non-character.  Because a man about whom there IS no truth isn't a mystery so much as he is a nonentity.  I'm not into that.

The most intriguing thing in the episode is Garak's spirited defense of Cardassian literary tropes in the opening scene.  That's an interesting insight into that species.

Elsewhere, Siddig El Fadil tries and fails to go toe to toe with Andrew Robinson, and the great Paul Dooley shows up in a small but quality role as a member of the dreaded Obsidian Order, the Cardassian secret police.

Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****
 
By the way, I wrote that fake summary referencing HBO's The Wire before the Mission Log episode about the DS9 episode hit feeds.  They did a similar thing at the front of the episode, so I guess great minds think alike.  But I wanted to make clear for anyone who might theoretically have heard that and then weeks later read this that no, I didn't steal the bit from them.  Not that I'm above doing so, mind you; just saying I didn't.

I always write these before the Mission Log episodes drop, actually.  Specifically, I do it so that I'm not inadvertently stealing from them.  Generally, that's not much of an issue anyways, but every once in a while we do end up with similar ideas.


"Crossover"
  
  
(season 2, episode 23)
  
airdate:  May 15, 1994
written by:  Peter Allan Fields (story); Peter Allan Fields and Michael Piller (teleplay)
directed by:  David Livingston
  
While on an away mission to someplace, Kira and Bashir accidentally pass into another universe via the wormhole.  Once there, they find that that universe's Kira is the "Intendant" of "Terok Nor," its version of Deep Space Nine.  Intendant Nerys engages in a bunch of exposition so as to let people know what happened after the events of "Mirror, Mirror" from TOS.  




I'm not a fan of the Mirror Universe.  It is a silly concept; deeply silly.  As much as I enjoy "Mirror, Mirror" itself, I enjoy it merely on the level of being a one-off episode designed to be a fun and mildly horrifying romp.

THAT'S ALL THE MIRROR UNIVERSE IS.  An excuse to put a goatee on Spock and to put Uhura in an even skimpier outfit.  As that, hey, great.  That's TOS having fun, and I have fun with TOS having fun.

I never, ever, ever needed to go back to there.  And yet, Star Trek has gone back to there pretty fucking regularly ever since Deep Space Nine opened the can of worms in this very episode.  I'm pretty sure DS9 revisits it once or twice a season from this point forward, which, yuck.  They did a surprisingly good two-parter on Enterprise; I kind of resent it despite its surprising goodness.  And then, later, the entire first season of Discovery let the Mirror Universe give it a golden shower.  (As if THAT isn't bad enough, we're now evidently going to be getting an entire series spinning off from one of the Discovery Mirror Universe characters.  Do not need, do not want, will quite possibly not watch.)

With all of that in mind, I expected to be keenly aggravated by "Crossover," about which I remembered very little.  Instead, I found myself kind of enjoying it.  Only "kind of," mind you; let's not start re-evaluating our prejudices quite yet, thank you very much.  This one does have its moments, though.

Here are a few:

  • Nana Visitor is pretty good in this one, both as regular Kira and as Intendant Kira.  In the latter role, Visitor gets to ham it up a bit, but she's relatively restrained, and it works.  (As I recall, she goes over the top and then some later on; but maybe I'm inflating that in my memory.  We'll see in due course, I guess.)
  • Colm Meaney is excellent as the Mirror Universe O'Brien, who is a more beaten down and cowed man than the Prime Universe O'Brien.  But he's obviously got the potential to be more, and the Prime Universe Bashir kind of brings it out of him.  I believe the two of them as friends in this episode, whereas I mostly don't in the Prime Universe.  
  • Armin Shimerman has some good moments as the Mirror Universe Quark, who is a very different person from the Prime Universe Quark.
  • Andrew Robinson as Mirror Universe Garak is very intimidating.  Here, he's not a spy, but a knee-breaker.
  • Apologies, sensitive types: Nana Visitor looks quite nice in the blue dress both of her wear toward the end of the episode.  I'm not so much into the leather outfit and the weird eighties headband, though.  Sorry to be both lookist and leering, and toward the same actress; but these are things I felt, and I see no reason to lie to you about it.

There's also a lot of stuff I don't like all that much, including:

  • One of the things I truly hate about the Mirror Universe outside of TOS is how flimsy it is on a plot level for all the series regulars to always be there.  There's really no way all the Enterprise crew members would be on the Mirror Universe ship in TOS; this is such a different culture, the idea that versions of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov would exist at all is preposterous.  Add onto that the idea that they'd all end up in the equivalent of Starfleet, and then the idea that they would all end up on the same ship, and THEN the idea that that ship would be the same as the Enterprise, and you're talking about sheer malarkey.  But I can, will, and do roll with it.  Once.  Asking me to do it twice and buy the notion that O'Brien and Sisko would have somehow ended up on Terok Nor in the Mirror Universe tells me you have contempt for me as an audience member.  You think I'll buy any old shit.  Guess what?  I won't.
  • But god damn it, if you were going to do that, why wouldn't the Mirror Universe Bashir also have ended up there?
  • Mirror Universe Odo is an awful, terrible sack of shit in this one.  Rene Auberjonois plays that well,  
  • To say the bullshittium malfunction that leads to the runabout visiting the Mirror Universe is flimsy would be charitable.
  • I didn't need to hear the exposition about Kirk and Spock.  I'm kind of impressed by the fact that the writers were ballsy enough to say that Spock's revolt led to Earth getting conquered; but that's evened out by the degree to which that very idea is a slap in the face of TOS.  Don't you be slapping my TOS in the face, fuckers.  That don't fly around here.  That's what this is, though, make no mistake about it.  And in case you think it's questionable as to whether that's what was intended, there's an interview with Robert Hewitt Wolfe on the season two DVDs in which he speaks to the idea, saying that the idea of Kirk saving the Mirror Universe with a single motivational speech to that universe's Spock is "naive."  So yeah, no question: this is definitively a slap.
  • I'm not quite sure how I feel about Bashir in this one.  Alexander Siddig plays the part well, but Bashir is utterly loathsome in the opening scene, during which he's getting on Kira's nerves something fierce.  Siddig plays even that well, and Bashir is clearly meant to be a bit of a pill.  But do I care that it's on purpose?  You successfully annoyed me.  Congratulations...?

I'm also on the fence about Avery Brooks' performance as Mirror Universe Sisko.  He's kind of over the top, but in a restrained way at times, if that makes any sense.  I'm not sure I like the performance, but I'll give Brooks this: he makes some real choices.  And his performance is consistent and cohesive, which means this version of Sisko works as a distinct character.  I'm just not sure I care.  And yet, I'm not sure I don't care.  How's that for commitment?  Sorry; it's what I've got.

Ultimately, I'm not sure what the point of the episode is.  Actually, I am sure: it was to provide Trekkies a reason to tune in to the series in the hopes of rejuvenating the ratings a bit.  I mean, shit, it's titled "Crossover."  But beyond that, is there anything to it?

If so, I'm not picking up on it at this time.  But it is kind of fun.  For as unsure as I am about whether I like what Avery Brooks does here, it's nice to see him actually get to do something; and I have to confess that when Sisko turns on the Intendant, it's a satisfying plot development.  And the Prime Universe Kira seems suitably skeeved out by all of these loony developments.

Bryant's rating:  *** / *****


"The Collaborator"
  
  
(season 2, episode 24)
  
airdate:  May 22, 1994
written by:  Gary Holland (story); Gary Holland & Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe (teleplay)
directed by:  Cliff Bole
  
A couple of days before the Bajorn election of the new Kai, disturbing accusations against Vedek Bareil prompt an investigation by Kira. 




Weirdly, I keep finding episodes that I like which center on the Bajoran-politics aspect of this series.  This is easily one of the best episodes of the season, a murky tale of divided loyalties and questionable motivations.  It ends with the election of Kai Winn, which is kind of like 2016 all over again, except with the role being played by an actor (Louise Fletcher) I like.  Fletcher is great here; my memory insisted she was awful on Deep Space Nine, and boy did my memory have that one wrong.

It had it wrong about Philip Anglim as Vedek Bareil, too.  He's solid here, playing a man determined to the best thing possible for the best reason possible.

And this is two episodes in a row that contains a very good performance from Nana Visitor as Kira.  Heck, she even seems to pass some of her likeability on to Odo, who I enjoyed in this one.

I should probably have more to say than this.  Something about how Avery Brooks is great in his one scene (a contractual-obligation scene, if I had to guess), maybe.

But this is about all I've got.  An effective episode indeed; kind of a rarity this season, eh?

Bryant's rating:  **** / *****


"Tribunal"
  
  
(season 2, episode 25)
  
airdate:  June 5, 1995
written by:  Bill Dial
directed by:  Avery Brooks
  
Miles is arrested by Cardassians while on leave with Keiko, and put on trial for supposedly selling photon torpedoes to the Maquis.




This is by no means a bad episode; it's got a freaky sort of Orwellian vibe to it, as regards its story of the Cardassian legal system, where all "criminals" are convicted before they ever even appear in a courtroom, the trial essentially being designed merely to allow the citizenry to feel better about how crime simply does not pay, ever.

There some good stuff to be mined from that setup.  This episode never gets there, despite everyone's best efforts.  The screenplay is all setup and no payoff, and it relies on entirely too many plot conveniences.  We're expected to find this most un-American un-Starfleet system of jurisprudence to be terrifying; and I think we mostly do.  But the episode keeps finding excuses to let our regular characters poke holes in it for a few seconds, long enough to make whatever point they are trying to make.

These things do not go together.  You want me to believe that on Cardassia, the accused are always convicted and executed?  That's no problem.  I can believe that on a science fiction series.  You want me to believe that as the accused party's adviser, Odo would not be allowed to speak to the court?  No problem.  You want to me to believe he might be able to get away with it a single time?  Sure, can do.  But Odo speaks to the court as frequently as though he were Matlock in this episode, and while it seems to make everyone grumpy, nobody does anything about it.  That doesn't work.  That's only happening because the screenplay needs Odo to be able to talk, so the episode can the points it is trying to make.

Similarly, Sisko is not allowed to be present for the trial ... until at the very end?  When suddenly he is allowed to be there?  And to just walk into the courtroom with another guy whose presence deflates the entire "case" "against" O'Brien?  Nope, I can't buy that.  The episode has done nothing to make this plausible.

The bottom line: once O'Brien was put on trial here, the only logical conclusion the story could reach would involve him being executed for his supposed crime.  When Star Trek: The Next Generation tried something vaguely similar to this way back in its first season ("Justice"), it at least had the sense to insert a literal deus ex machina into the plot in order to permit Wesley to live.  That was a copout, too, but it tossed some science-fictiony bullshit into the mix in order to distract at least a few viewers from noticing.

"Tribunal" has nothing.  It just doesn't work.

Now, that said, it does admittedly have a strong central concept for us to mentally grapple with.  The story tied to it is crap, but the concept itself works, and that ain't nothing.  Colm Meaney and Rene Auberjonois are good, and Avery Brooks' direction is solid.  Plus, Fritz Weaver puts in a great performance as Kovat, the Cardassian lawyer defending Miles; he in no way expects to "win" O'Brien's case.  Any episode with Fritz Weaver in it is worth seeing.

I'm not sure "Tribunal" has much more than that going for it, but it does have that.
 
Bryant's rating:  ** 1/2 / *****


"The Jem'Hadar"
  
  
airdate:  June 12, 1994
written by:  Ira Steven Behr
directed by:  Kim Friedman
  
Sisko and Jake go on an expedition to the Gamma Quadrant as part of a school science project.  Much to Sisko's chagrin, Nog tags along as Jake's study partner.  Much more to Sisko's chagrin than that, Quark tags along as chaperone.  Much more even than that to Sisko's chagrin, a mysterious group of soldiers called the Jem'Hadar shows up to make thing much more difficult.


 

After dropping hints about "the Dominion" off and on throughout the season, the tease finally begins to pay off in some action in the second-season finale.

I don't think it's a secret to you: I'm not impressed by this season.  Averaging all my individual episode scores out, I come up with a 2.67; barely more than a passing grade.  And of course, grades like that are a silly endeavor not to be taken seriously; but still, in this case I think it's fairly reflective of my feelings.  As a season of Star Trek, it's just kind of there.  Rarely bad; rarely great.  Just so-so.

This season finale helps a bit.  It's obviously intended to establish the expectations for the third season, and as that sort of episode, I think it gets the job done.  Is this what I want from a Star Trek series?  Not really, but if this is what a Star Trek series is going to give me, and it gives it me as well as this one gives it to me, well ... okay.  We're kind of talking now.  You've piqued my interest, show; let's see what you do with it.

The idea here is to establish that the Dominion is a highly powerful race -- or, perhaps, group of races -- that controls the Gamma Quadrant.  They're not happy about incursions from the Alpha Quadrant, and they've decided to put an end to them.  All the episode needs to do to make this work is show that the Dominion are more powerful than the Federation, and Ira Steven Behr's screenplay accomplishes that nimbly.  It's maybe a bit iffy in some plot details -- the baddies had no way of knowing Sisko was coming through the wormhole on this school trip, so as master plans go, this one seems kind of like it had to come together on the fly -- but efficient and effective.

Behr even manages to get some quality Ferengi action into the mix.  Nog sucks, of course; that's a given.  But Quark makes some effective points about Federation attitudes toward his people, and it's weirdly satisfying when he tells Sisko off by pointing out that the Ferengi (unlike humans) never had slavery and/or concentration camps.  "We're better than you," he says proudly, and perhaps not without merit.  Gene Roddenberry shrieked from beyond the grave when he heard this, but I can't deny it: it kind of lands.

So all things considered, a fairly good episode to end a fairly weak season.

Bryant's rating:  *** 1/2 / *****

Here's my take on the season as a whole, via my ranking of the season from worst to best:
  
"Rivals"  (*)
"Sanctuary"  (*)
"Invasive Procedures"  (* 1/2)
"The Maquis, Part II"  (**)
"The Siege"  (**)
"Melora"  (**)
"Playing God"  (**)
"Tribunal"  (** 1/2)
"The Wire"  (** 1/2)
"Second Sight  (** 1/2)
"The Circle"  (** 1/2)
"Armageddon Game" (***)
"Profit and Loss"  (***)
"Shadow Play"  (***)
"Whispers"  (***)
"The Alternate"  (***)
"Blood Oath"  (***)
"Necessary Evil"  (***)
"The Homecoming"  (***)
"The Maquis, Part I"  (***)
"Crossover"  (***)
"Rules of Acquisition"  (***)
"The Jem'Hadar"  (*** 1/2)
"Cardassians"  (*** 1/2)
"The Collaborator"  (****)
"Paradise"  (****)

We'll be back in however long it takes for Mission Log to burn through the third season with our very own look at that third season.  Is this season where Sisko gets the goatee?  I honestly can't remember.  Does the Defiant come in now, or is that with Worf in season four?  Can't remember that either.

We'll find out soon enough.

Until then, a programming note: as I've mentioned from time to time, I'm watching Babylon 5 concurrently with my Deep Space Nine rewatch, in order of airdate.  And I've been blogging about Babylon 5 on an episode by episode basis.  It hasn't been too big a challenge to keep up with -- although it does seem to have badly hampered my efforts to get back to blogging up episodes of the original Star Trek on a regular basis.  Gonna have to find a better balance on that, and soon.

That's not why I bring it up, though.  I bring it up because while there may well only be a one-week gap in Mission Log episodes between the end of Deep Space Nine season two and the beginning of season three, in actual time it was a span of about three months.  And SEVEN episodes of Babylon 5 aired in that interval.  This is going to severely tax my ability to keep pace, so I'm not sure how to handle it.  Do I just combine all seven episodes into a single post?  That's both appealing and appalling, as an idea: because some of these episodes are pretty lousy and possibly undeserving of individual posts.  At the same time, (1) neither was "TKO" and (2) some of the episodes are very much deserving of individual posts.  So do I press on as is and (if it takes a little bit longer to catch up to Deep Space Nine again) maybe get a little behind on that phase of the project?

I suspect nobody cares but me.  And yet, I fling the question into the void.

We'll see what happens!

14 comments:

  1. Crikey I don't think I saw a single episode of s2, from these write-ups.

    Re: that Wire joke, I did something similar with my write-up of VOY's S5 cliffhanger. I don't listen to Mission Log and only saw this this morning, but now I bet everyone will think I was following their lead, as well. Wasn't the case, internet!

    Ah well. My reputation will probably still be intact with the 6 billion non-DSO-readers out there. Thankfully!

    I wish I had a recommended path for you with your Babylon 5/ DS9/ Mission Log temporal challenges, there. I do not, however.

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    1. "My reputation will probably still be intact with the 6 billion non-DSO-readers out there." -- And with at least one reader!

      Regarding the temporal challenge, I've settled on a solution: keep chugging along as-is, but keep most of the posts on the shortish side. This will be easy, because about half of those episodes (if I'm remembering them correctly) are poop.

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  2. "there's an interview with Robert Hewitt Wolfe on the season two DVDs in which he speaks to the idea, saying that the idea of Kirk saving the Mirror Universe with a single motivational speech to that universe's Spock is "naive." "

    robin may be right. Nevertheless, instant lifetime ban for any Wolfe-penned Trek episodes from the House of McMolo. No, no, no, you DON'T, sir.

    I remember the Mission Log episode of "This Side of Paradise" having like 3 or 4 things like that in it (obviously not about the mirror universe but similar this-is-a-slap-when-you-deconstruct-it-you-lazy-twats) and issued a similar decree. Which is why to this day I still refuse to listen. I know you / other friends love it. I'm happy you do, don't get me wrong, but as for me... vendetta! (Throws knife at wall-map of Alpha Quadrant.)

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    1. My only real point is that there are some things that are not just obvious to anyone watching TOS post, say, 1990. One of them is what Robin suggests, there. Others are what the Mission Log folks suggest in that "This Side of Paradise" episode. But these aren't, like, super-deep points, and they're muddle-headed. Oh wow, you noticed something from a 60s TV show was problematic or weird? And you want to, like, discuss/ take action from that point, like it's a sound premise upon which to build an argument? I'm sorry, that's just really, really misguided to me.

      But, mainly, like you say, the entire idea of the mirror universe is misguided, so to keep revisiting it and deepening / trying to make sense/ impose a naive/not-naive worldview on it, is just ridiculous.

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    2. "Nevertheless, instant lifetime ban for any Wolfe-penned Trek episodes from the House of McMolo. No, no, no, you DON'T, sir." -- I lack your fortitude, but I applaud it.

      "I remember the Mission Log episode of "This Side of Paradise" having like 3 or 4 things like that in it " -- You may be interested to know that that particular episode of the podcast was so controversial that they still reference it occasionally.

      "Others are what the Mission Log folks suggest in that "This Side of Paradise" episode. But these aren't, like, super-deep points, and they're muddle-headed. Oh wow, you noticed something from a 60s TV show was problematic or weird? And you want to, like, discuss/ take action from that point, like it's a sound premise upon which to build an argument? I'm sorry, that's just really, really misguided to me." -- I can (and do) see it from both sides. But for the most part I only *feel* it from one: yours. I do there's an argument to be made on their side, though. I just don't feel much of a need to incorporate it into my own approach.

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    3. That IS interesting. Didn't realize others felt like I did on that one - nice to hear!

      I mean, it is a worthwhile thing to critique the past and to notice things that weren't as noticeable at the time, etc. I just sometimes think that becomes an end to itself, and is all too often an approach that leads to an angry, self-defeating wokeness that is just always eating itself. You don't, ultimately, actually get anywhere with such an approach, or not as far as I prefer to get with something I truly love or love to think about.

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    4. It's a big, complicated topic. I find my feelings about such things shifting on a regular basis, but I think where I am right now is kind of like this: I'm inclined to accept the notion that people living in the present need not feel obligated to accept the things about the past that they disliked. Similarly, they probably ought to feel more or less free to criticize the past for its inadequacies. But I'm not sure why that's what they're doing with their time, and I'm also not always going to be inclined to accept their attempts to limit MY feelings about such things from remaining past-anchored rather than present-anchored.

      Or something like that. More often than not, I just kind of shrug confusedly and go find a root beer to drink.

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  3. * Robert not Robin, above.

    In the mirror universe, the writer's name is Robin. Hence my confusion.

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    1. Screw him! That's what he gets for calling TOS "naive."

      This speaks directly to a lot of my conflictedness about DS9. No matter how you look at it, *some* of it is inarguably tainted by an actively anti-Roddenberrian agenda. And sure, Gene Roddenberry wasn't setting out gospel or whatever; it's not like he can't be deviated from. TOS deviated from itself, and then the movies deviated from TOS, and then TNG deviated from all of it. Not to mention TAS. And maybe something like DS9 -- or, nowadays, Discovery -- was inevitable in order merely to keep the whole franchise chugging along.

      Don't expect ME not to be miffed by it, is what I'm saying. (Not to you, obviously; to those hypothetical people who accuse people like me of trying to be a gatekeeper or some such.)

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    2. You mention something up there that resonates with me more and more these days. Like, if you're looking for BSG, then you're not looking for Star Trek. You might think you are; the franchise-runners might be telling you you are. But, you're not. But, you are also correct here: maybe those little this-ain't-really-Trek-but-here-it-is ARE necessary to keep the franchise chugging along.

      But yeah, it just seems weird to me. The franchise can expand in other directions without making some of the anti-Trekkier-decisions they make.

      The guys I watch the Super Bowl with are all DISCOVERY fans and were giving me a rash of crap for having had CBS All Access a whole month without watching any. I mean, sans kids, I would've, just to do it/ fill the time. But (telling point) when I brought the conversation back to VOYAGER I learned they had only ever saw a handful of episodes and never circled back. Some people just prefer to watch / listen to the current incarnation of something, regardless of quality/ intention/ purity/ redundancy/ deviation. For me, it's like, how am I going to go watch x, y, or z, when I still have a, b, or c to get through? I'll get there. Probably.

      Anyway! Yeah, I get bothered by people that think the way forward is to "defy" the past or whatever. It's just reactionaryism under different guise. And yet, reactionaries move history forward as inexorably as anyone else, I guess. Roddenberry was a reactionary. It's complicated! I have no freaking idea.

      I can say that without the closed-minded arrogance of som

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    3. "Like, if you're looking for BSG, then you're not looking for Star Trek. You might think you are; the franchise-runners might be telling you you are. But, you're not." -- I suspect this comes down to the fact that most people simply don't spend any time critically analyzing such things. Nor should they, necessarily; after all, this is just entertainment. (I don't actually believe it's JUST entertainment myself, but accept that most people do.) But that's where the role of the people making the show comes in: they should be relied upon to give people what they need, not merely what they want. In a perfect world, it'll be both. In this world, it's often neither.

      "But (telling point) when I brought the conversation back to VOYAGER I learned they had only ever saw a handful of episodes and never circled back. Some people just prefer to watch / listen to the current incarnation of something, regardless of quality/ intention/ purity/ redundancy/ deviation." -- But Voyager is crap! I mean, everyone said so for years, so it must be true, right? Right?!?

      I don't think that show has gotten a fair shake to this day. I've been continually shocked by just how great so much of it is; and you never hear about that outside of Dog Star Omnibus.

      That said, I have a STRONG feeling that the Mission Log guys are going to go gaga over it. They'll pick it up once they finish with DS9, and after that series, Voyager is going to feel so different -- and so like a return to "real" Trek -- that my prediction is they are going to gush over it and maybe help create a minor resurgence in its popularity.

      "Yeah, I get bothered by people that think the way forward is to "defy" the past or whatever. It's just reactionaryism under different guise. And yet, reactionaries move history forward as inexorably as anyone else, I guess." -- It's probably an inevitable process. Remember how people for years were down on Roger Moore as Bond? And remember how quickly that changed the second Roger Moore passed away? I reckon these things just have to play out the way they play out. But I don't have to like it, and I don't have to just roll over and play dead when I feel disinclined to do so.

      "Roddenberry was a reactionary." -- I tend to think of him more as a trailblazer, but yeah, I guess he kind of was, wasn't he?

      "I can say that without the closed-minded arrogance of som" -- I hope the MIBs didn't show up and brain-wipe McMolo for making too much sense!

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    4. Reactionaries and trailblazers swap hats and guises a lot! Altho I guess I'm re-defining reactionary a bit. Like liberal/ conservative, the definition seems to change from time to time.

      Good point re: Moore. I'm so old I remember when he was held up as the reason Bond "got off course," etc. Now the same people tell me Moore's was the golden age/ "the sweet spot."

      I mean, I've changed my mind over the years on many a topic - as anyone should. I don't mean to make it sound like it's a bad thing. You're right, it's a complicated topic. Jonah Goldberg wrote something about this recently, in defense of dogma, and it got to what I'm trying to say. There are some things that don't need to be dragged out and analyzed every time something new happens; that's dogma. And then there's anything else, which should factor in new life experiences, changed outlooks, etc. Problems arise when people confuse the dogma part of it with the latter. (As per usual, he wrote it better than I am summarizing it.)

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    5. Oops on that cut-off sentence up there! I think I was indeed visited by the MIBs.

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    6. I confess to not knowing who Jonah Goldberg is. That sounds interesting, though.

      The older I get, the more I realize that I don't really know anything about anything. I just try to stay cognizant of that fact while remaining true to my own beliefs BUT also not being closed off to changing my mind.

      Not sure how well it's working, but I at least *feel* ahead of the curve in some ways. And yet, it doesn't prevent me from ranting about how they love to ruin my Star Trek once in a while. I puzzle even myself. Especially myself!

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