Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Six

Took a bit of a Trek break over Halloween there to watch horror movies and such (and because Becca was getting some part-time work and wasn't home to watch with me as often), but I've got the train back on track and am continuing to enjoy what is clearly the best Star Trek series ever. Let's just dive straight into the Dominion War.

1. A Time to Stand (my rating: 4 out of 5)
Although we're told three months have passed, this pretty much picks up where the exciting season finale left off, right in the thick of the action. I love seeing more and more of Weyoun; Jeffrey Combs is such a good actor, and the character fascinates me, especially the way he relates to Odo, whom he is genetically incapable of seeing as an enemy. I think it's rather brilliant of the writing staff to have come up with the idea of putting a minefield in front of the wormhole; this way we get to have a Dominion War, but realistically the Jem'Hadar would destroy the Federation and the Klingons, so if the main fleet is held back, it's more believable that the war in the Alpha Quadrant would be drawn out.

2. Rocks and Shoals (5/5)
I particularly like Nog in this episode; I love the moment when he refuses to walk in front of Garak because of what happened last season on Empok Nor. It's interesting here to see more cracks in the Jem'Hadar, that they're capable of being too competitive in their own ranks, and that they'll disregard wiser options for the sake of following orders to the letter. I also like what Major Kira goes through here, ultimately deciding to lead a resistance against the Dominion on the station.

3. Sons and Daughters (4/5)
It's good to see that Worf isn't let off the hook for basically abandoning Alexander, (and I didn't have a problem with Alexander being slightly older than he should have been--they've never established how fast Klingons go through adolescence, and they live for a very long time). This is one of the better episodes about their relationship, with Worf finally forced to confront his feelings about his son--he's both protective and embarrassed by Alexander. And Alexander is inept but mainly because he tries too hard because of his own father issues. What makes the difference in this episode is the presence of Martok. Now that Worf has his own father figure and feels more like a true Klingon than ever, he's ready to confront his guilt over not being a very good father himself. I love the ending, with Alexander welcomed into the House of Martok as well. I should mention, seeing Ziyal back was nice, and I'm glad Kira finally made the decision to stop being charmed by Gul Dukat.

4. Behind the Lines (3/5)
The only episode of the 6-part Dominion War saga where my attention started to flag. Maybe it's because I'm finding there's not as much to the Founders that's interesting as I had once thought. It is interesting that their approach to domination is equal parts ruthless and laid back, but it gets kind of one-note. I wasn't much interested in Dax enjoying her command, but I was caught up in the tension of Rom attempting to sabotage Damar's plan to destroy the minefield. I just love Rom.

5. Favor the Bold (5/5)
6. Sacrifice of Angels (5/5)
Truly epic. This show does epic better than previous Trek series. The all-out space battle between the combined Federation/Klingon fleet against the Cardassians and Jem'Hadar ships is breathtaking, and then tension between the characters really ramps up the suspense in the final act. It adds more depth to the Prophets, I think, that they're willing to interfere and keep any more Dominion ships from entering the Alpha Quadrant in order to protect Bajor and the Emissary. I completely buy that. And that ending, with Ziyal's death and the breaking of Gul Dukat, really brought home the sense of loss for me. To have a villain that you can sympathize with on Dukat's level is really something; it's a mature viewpoint for American television, especially handled this well. And Garak's reaction when he learns of Ziyal's death... Also, I love that Morn is the key to setting up the successful re-taking of Deep Space Nine by Starfleet. Morn is awesome.

7. You are Cordially Invited... (4/5)
I love the idea that Klingon women are the imperious heads of their houses; it makes perfect sense. They're sort of like Spartans, where the woman rules the home and the man is the warrior. It adds a really interesting layer to Klingon culture. I also really liked Shannon Cochran as Martok's wife, Sirella, and her having to approve Jadzia and Worf's marriage. The best scene, as usual, belongs to Avery Brooks. I love it when Sisko takes Jadzia to task for falling in love with a Klingon, knowing how religious Worf is, and then refusing to take the rituals seriously. Absolutely what had been on my mind the whole episode. Very sweet and well-done.

8. Resurrection (2/5)
Mirror Universe Bareil is kind of interesting, even though Kira seems to fall in with him way too quickly, but I just don't care about the Mirror Universe anymore.

9. Statistical Probabilities (4/5)
I was really set not to like this episode--it looked like a riff on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to me--but I found it fascinating. Again, Bashir gets a chance to be compassionate and engaged without being arrogant. Interesting that the augments show it would cost fewer lives to surrender to the Dominion now. It adds a depth to the ongoing war and a sort of fatalistic warning to the victory at Deep Space Nine.

10. The Magnificent Ferengi (5/5)
Just fun as hell. I can't believe how much I love the Ferengi because of this series. Now we get Quark, Rom, Nog, Cousin Gaila, an old grizzled Ferengi mercenary (I love that such a thing even exists), and Brunt trying to meet the Vorta to rescue Moogie. And the Vorta is Iggy Pop! I love this episode. It's hilarious and shows you that Ferengi can be heroes. It's really the final redemption of the entire race. And Jeffrey Combs just makes me so damn happy, so seeing him play Brunt is tremendous. I love this guy.

11. Waltz (4/5)
I love just seeing Avery Brooks and Marc Alaimo in a room, playing off of each other, but I didn't quite buy Dukat's descent into madness. I see where he might feel he's been pushed to a position where he has nothing left but a need for revenge, but his rant about how he wishes he'd exterminated the Bajorans doesn't quite ring in for me. I'm very interested to see how they continue playing Dukat in the future.

12. Who Mourns for Morn? (3/5)
I do, of course. Funny caper episode, with Quark trying to find Morn's stolen latinum and getting caught up in double-cross after double-cross. Not a fantastic episode, but Armin Shimerman is just having so much fun that his energy carries it through.

12. Far Beyond the Stars (5/5)
Wow. Jaw-droppingly good episode, a very brave confrontation of racism not only in the past but in the present, and in the history of science fiction. They present the episode as a vision sent by the Prophets, but it's a deeply moving experience, both for Sisko and for me. I like how the Prophet, in the guise of Sisko's father, tells him "you are the dreamer and the dream." Avery Brooks is amazing in this episode; it's a real shame to see that the episode was nominated for technical Emmys but not for his performance, which is about the best acting I've ever seen on Star Trek. One of the best, most atypical, but most moving episodes of any science fiction series.

13. One Little Ship (2/5)
The invetiable Fantastic Voyage riff. Eh.

14. Honor Among Thieves (3/5)
I find it odd that Starfleet would send a CPO undercover to bust a crime ring, but Colm Meaney is really good on this episode, so who cares? Meaney's performance helps make this episode, which is a little too cliched for me. Every cop show does this episode where the undercover cop gets too close to the guy he's investigating. It's not a bad episode, but it's starting to feel like we're not so involved in the war anymore. This is DS9's IRA episode, but at least it's better than TNG's awful terrorism episode.

15. Change of Heart (5/5)
Finally, Worf places something before his duty to Starfleet. I was glad to finally see him put in this position of having to choose between Starfleet and something personal (in this case his wife slowly dying of a mean wound), and to see it handled so well on such a personal level. Worf and Jadzia really are a perfect couple, and for a franchise that almost never handles romance with aplomb, it really adds something to the show.

16. Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night (3/5)
I don't know what about this episode didn't quite hit with me, especially being a Gul Dukat-centered episode. It was nice to see Kira finally figure out that the line between collaborator and resistor is much more blurry than she was willing to concede. Personally, I think the fact that Dukat and Kira's mother were lovers adds a whole new layer of sleaziness to Dukat's pursuit of Kira, while at the same time making it more understandable that he would pursue her in part because of that reminder. I was waiting to find out that Ziyal and Kira were really sisters, so at least they didn't go full on soap opera there.

17. Inquisition (5/5)
And Ira Steven Behr finally drops the other shoe. He's been examining the idea that Gene Roddenberry's paradise may not work for everyone and may need a real dark streak to protect itself. There is a dark side to the freedoms the Federation enjoys, and that's Section 31, an unofficial organization in the original Starfleet charter. It's an audacious idea, finally smashing the happy utopia that Gene Roddenberry created and putting in this realistic notion that freedom comes with strings attached that people would rather not know about. I hope Section 31 comes back into play next season, partially because it really deserves more exploration, and partly because I love William Sadler.

18. In the Pale Moonlight (5/5)
Another very surprising episode; this is what sets this Trek series apart, that here Sisko could basically cross every ethical line in order to defend the Federation and, in the end, live with it. Very powerful, and as usual Brooks finds all of the right notes to make Sisko's decisions not only believable, but understandable. The payoff of this episode, with Garak willing to go that extra mile on his own to ensure that the Romulans ally with the Federation against the Dominion, is powerful. That a Star Trek show was even willing to do this episode is in itself amazing.

19. His Way (5/5)
It's kind of fluff, but very good fluff. James Darren is a real kick as holosuite lounge singer Vic Fontaine; I didn't even stop to question why a self-aware hologram with the ability to get into the station's computer systems would be possible. The story and characters are so good you just go with it. The episode really only exists to get Odo and Kira together (finally), but Vic Fontaine is such a great character, and the way he fits into the show so comfortably is a delight. TNG never would have pulled this off. I also like that this show manages to balance avoiding cliches with finding the right cliches; the idea being that even in the future, the basics of romance never really change. Good stuff.

20. The Reckoning (4/5)
I'm glad to see Sisko's role as the Emissary explored further--I'm glad he really embraces it now, to the point where he wants to retire on Bajor, though the Prophets have told him he has a different path. I think this episode makes a good choice by first explicating the reason Kai Winn resents Sisko on a certain level, and then having Jake possessed by a Pah-wraith, forcing Sisko to choose whether to save his son or see the prophesied battle between Prophet and Pah-wraith through. His decision is surprising, showing just how much he has become a man of faith and spirituality, and showing that as the Emissary he's more willing to put himself in the hands of the Prophets than Kai Winn, who makes her own decision.

21. Valiant (4/5)
Interesting episode, seeing the war through the eyes of Starfleet cadets trapped behind enemy lines with a Defiant-class ship. The real tension in the episode comes from Nog, I think, who is forced to choose between doing the right thing and getting what he wants, which is a promotion. It's kind of a difficult episode, seeing these kids willing--even zealous--to make martyrs of themselves. That kind of perspective is a lot different from Jake worrying about his own cowardice a few seasons ago. This is such a full picture of Starfleet you get from this show.

22. Profit and Lace (4/5)
Not only Brunt, but also Zek. I love these Ferengi episodes, especially with Leeta getting involved in the scheme this time. This is really kind of a family-oriented show, by which I mean that a lot of the stories are about or involve familial relationships. I like that the whole family here gets involved in a scheme to have Zek returned to his status as Grand Nagus. It's just fun. Also, first male-male kiss in Star Trek, though it's between two Ferengi.

23. Time's Orphan (3/5)
Hard episode to get through, with Molly O'Brien spending 10 years stuck in the past and returning home as a feral child. I can't figure out if the end is cheating or not, but this is one case where I'm pleased everything went back to normal. (And for the record, the wife was in tears on this one.)

24. The Sound of Her Voice (1/5)
I get what the producers were going for here, but it really just feels more like the cast talking to a call-in therapist, leading to an arbitrary-yet-predictable ending. And we never really do find out what the deal is with the tension between Sisko and Kasidy Yates. Dug the bits with Odo and Jake, though.

25. Tears of the Prophets (5/5)
Personally, I like the way Jadzia's death is handled; it's realistically sudden, but she still gets a goodbye scene without overdoing it as a goodbye scene (like the terrible Tasha Yar funeral), and it's very moving. The way it leaves Sisko anchorless is especially sad, with Sisko leaving to return to Earth at the end of the episode. I was also fascinated by Gul Dukat's return; I don't believe for a second that collapsing the wormhole was an accident on his part. I still don't think he's really crazy, but instead he's setting this all up for his own grand revenge on Damar and Weyoun and the Dominion itself. (Don't tell me if I'm wrong.) A real down note to end the season on, but one pregnant with possibilities as we gear into the (alas!) final season.

Can't wait to start it, but want to drag it out and savor it... nah, going to start right now.

1 comment:

Bob said...

continuing to enjoy what is clearly the best Star Trek series ever

Thank you and amen! It really really is, by far.