Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Invasive Procedures"

***

Air date: 10/18/1993
Teleplay by John Whelpley and Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by John Whelpley
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A severe plasma storm leads DS9 to be temporarily but completely evacuated, save the senior officers (of course) who remain on board. After the evacuation, an unjoined Trill named Verad (John Glover) and his small band of mercenaries gain access to the abandoned station and hold the officers hostage. Verad has come to steal the Dax symbiont from Jadzia—which he believes is rightly his—and damn the consequences that Jadzia will die within hours of the operation.

"Invasive Procedures" is an engaging character story with some surprising depth—though it also has some evident flaws. The premise that sets the episode in motion—the convenient abandoning of DS9—is totally contrived. And the idea that Quark bypasses station security and unwittingly allows these mercenaries to board the station purports to have dire consequences ("You're through here," Kira promises at one point), but ultimately comes off awfully transparent.

But the core of this episode is very strong, featuring some excellent characterizations. John Glover's portrayal of an inept, confidence-lacking Verad is brilliant. Equally brilliant is his change of personality once he steals the symbiont and joins with it, becoming an interesting blend of Verad and Dax. Sisko's response to the joining is utterly fascinating to watch, as he attempts to reason with the friend he knows resides inside the new Verad. Sisko also slowly wears down Verad's girlfriend Mareel (Megan Gallagher), who watches in dismay as the man she knows transforms into a personality who subtly reveals he doesn't "need" her anymore.

The subplotting involving Bashir, Quark, and the Klingon mercenaries (Steve Rankin and Voyager's Tim Russ) proves amusing, albeit routine. But the psychological twists and turns involving Sisko, Mareel, and the tragic Verad keeps this show in top form.

Previous episode: The Siege
Next episode: Cardassians

Season Index

44 comments on this review

Paul York - Wed, Jun 6, 2012 - 12:44am (USA Central)
Verad was a tragic character in this - as Jadzea says at the end, "so sad." He returns in some later episode, acted out by Sisko, but doesn't seem to be the same character - he is played out as a psycho. Here he has more complexity. The girlfriend was complex too. The characterizations were really well done. It would have been better had Dax told Varad that he was wrong -- had his new self been at least ambivalent about what happened, and not just a more confident Verad.
Jammer - Thu, Jun 7, 2012 - 8:14pm (USA Central)
The reason he doesn't seem to be the same character is that he's not.

The previous Dax host that shows up later and is acted out by Sisko is Joran, not Verad. Joran is established in third season's "Equilibrium." The episode where Joran is manifested through Sisko is "Facets" (also season three). And then there's the seventh season episode "Field of Fire" where Ezri Dax uses Joran to help solve a murder.

Verad was never mentioned again after this episode.
John - Fri, Jun 29, 2012 - 11:20am (USA Central)
A bit of a shame, as Verad was an interesting character.
Eric - Sun, May 26, 2013 - 12:17am (USA Central)
At the end, I was wondering what the fallout from all this would be: Do Verad & friends all end up in jail? Or do they run off? Quark's crime is forgotten about, as usual. So far I can't see why Jammer thinks this is better than TNG and Voyager.
T'Paul - Mon, Jul 1, 2013 - 5:02pm (USA Central)
Aside from Glover's acting a bit hit and miss... plus it was a shame never to hear of him again when Jadzia delved into her previous personalities
azcats - Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
yeah, in the voyager section, all i hear is blah blah blah...resets and continuity..

it is so annoying..just because DS9 decided to do an arc later on.

but ...
1. this episode just happened after the Li Nalas trilogy. no mention of it. no mention of how things are getting back to normal.
2. quark will not be punished.
3. they never mention verad again..even though she has his memories.

i liked this show. i really liked john glover "lionel luthor" from smallville. i enjoyed this "bottle" episode very much.

Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 3:31pm (USA Central)

I like Dax as a character but most Dax-centric episodes fall a bit flat for me.

4/10
Ill. Dude - Tue, Dec 17, 2013 - 10:34pm (USA Central)
This episode sinks for me on the basic premise of the need to evacuate the entire station...except for the entire cast...I mean command crew. Oh ya and allowing Quark to remain on the station. He should face felony charges and spend seasons 2-7 in a Bajoran prison.
Jack - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
As fleeting as it was, it would still seem that Verad should count as a host in the context of a Zhin'tara. It's never stated how long the full integration of minds takes to occur. Perhaps that's part of the 93 hour deal.
Alex - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 4:10pm (USA Central)
Well for all those complaining about Quark not getting punished...........

Maybe this was one of the times when Sisko later proclaimed he could have come down hard on Quark but didn't. Makes sense to me.

Good episode. 3/4 Stars sounds good.
Andrew Taylor - Mon, Feb 24, 2014 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
I just watched this episode on my great DS9 rewatch yesterday, and it really bugged me how the story contrived an evacuation of the station one episode after the evacuation in The Siege. Badly positioned, really.

I didn't like how it was only the cast that was left on the station, and Quark being there was really odd. He certainly deserved punishment for what he did.

Basically, if you ignore the many misgivings, the episode is saved by John Glover's before and after performance of Verad. A very interesting character indeed.
tony - Fri, Apr 18, 2014 - 7:00am (USA Central)
"Well for all those complaining about Quark not getting punished...........

Maybe this was one of the times when Sisko later proclaimed he could have come down hard on Quark but didn't. Makes sense to me."

Well, it sure doesn't make any fucking sense to me, since Quark's actions almost got a friend of Sisko's KILLED!!!

Yanks - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 8:29am (USA Central)
I watched this episode last night.

"violent plasma disruption" ..... WTF is that? Where did it origionate? Bajor's sun? I guess Bajor and her populated moons are fine...

"Just in case it doesn't, I've got the Orinoco prepped and ready at pad C." ... and I guess a runabout will hold up just fine if the Cardassian spacestation built like Fort Knox doesn't...

I guess they didn't need all the runabouts for evacuate this time. Still one left. Prepped on pad C, exposed to this violent storm. Enterprise's "The Catwalk" was more a more believable and realistic response.

Not sure why Quark would be needed to stay behind. However I can see the need for a skeleton crew.

eeesh...

Just more of the hearlded DS9 writing on display. (I'm so sick of hearing that)

But, on to the meat of the episode.

Poor Quark, he goes from saving the entire federation presence on the station and Bajor to getting taken advantage of all in one episode. Should he be punished? ... Sure. Should he be executed or something like that? ... No, he knew nothing about the plan to take Jadzia's symbiont. He was just being Quark and seizing an opportunity to make a substantial profit.

I thought John Glover's performance as Verad was exceptional. Megan Gallagher as Mareel was also great although obviously not as challenging as the Verad character. Tim Russ plays a pretty good Klingon :-)

I continue to be baffled by the hand to hand combat. Kira just totally leveled a Cardassian at the labor camp a couple episodes earlier and then completely gets her ass handed to her by Mareel. Whatever the plot calls for I guess.

I thought Sisko's performance in this one was very good, aside from him laughing when reminiscing with Verad Dax. It astounds me that Avery can play such a good bad ass, but when required to show any sort of emotion he's totally out of his element. I mean god, it’s horrible!

That said, I'm not sure I buy the whole "he will be a completely new individual" premise. Hell, Jadzia (Curzon) and Sisko have no problem retaining their past relationship. Why does Verad have to just forget his love for Mareel? I could see that Mareel might drift away from Verad Dax as he definitely will change, but being joined shouldn't erase his feelings for her. See "Rejoined". More superior DS9 writing.

A point I'll bring up that hasn't been mentioned is I thought Terry's performance in this episode was noteworthy (Aside from pronouncing “symbiont” “symbiANT”). This scene came across as very heartfelt and genuine.

"DAX: The symbiont. It's gone.
BASHIR: Everything went perfectly. The operation was a complete success.
DAX: I feel so alone.
BASHIR: I've got you stabilised. If only we could get the symbiont back in time.
DAX: I'm scared, Julian.
BASHIR: You're not going to die. Do you hear me? I'm not going to let you die.
DAX: I've never felt so empty."

I really felt for her when she woke up and the symbiont was gone. I also thought Bashir comes off as much more polished in season 2.

Does anyone know why it’s called a “symbiont” instead of a "symbiote"? (same in TNG)

This one just barely gets 2 of 4 stars.
Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 8:53am (USA Central)
"Just more of the hearlded DS9 writing on display."

Come on, DS9 had flaws but in it's 1st and 2nd season it was VASTLY superior to TNG during their 1st and 2nd seasons.

Everybody's got kinks to work out.
Yanks - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 10:32am (USA Central)
As did Voyager and Enterprise.

DS9 had lots of flaws. I'm not saying the other series didn't, but DS9 is trumpeted time and time again as having superior writing, blah, blah...

I'm just tired of hearing it and as the "niners" do with the other series, I will point out poor writing, planning etc in DS9.
Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 11:25am (USA Central)
Actually as someone who is REALLY hard on VOY, I have to say their first season had way less growing pains than TNG or DS9.

And yes, you can feel free to point out plot holes, I had no issue with your review actually, those plot holes are all silly (although I will say that Quark probably should have gotten more jail time for letting these psychopaths on the station... but people never seem to get any jail time for horribly violating station security).

I just mean that holding up an early S2 episode's plot holes to slam the entire concept that DS9's writing is several steps above is like using a S2 episode of TNG to lay waste claims of that show being amazing.

DS9 writers are not gods, they do make mistakes and especially in the first 2 seasons of the show when they are getting their footing things are rocky. Some niners even suggest you skip straight ahead to when the Defiant shows up....

But not me... you'd miss so many great episodes. But saying the writing on DS9 is better than VOY (and even much of TNG) is, to me, a fact. But better than VOY does not mean perfection!
Elliott - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 12:22pm (USA Central)
@Robert :

While TNG's 1st season was notoriously goofy and all over the place dramatically, what saves it, I think, were some strong performances from Stewart and Spiner as well as excellent music and some creative directing. DS9 was a little more coherent, but aired at the height of the Berman-era Beige-Trek in terms of music, soft-porn lens work, over-blocked directing, and its actors were more hit than miss at a time when the TNG crew had totally filled out their roles.

Although I don't think the relationship was causal, Voyager's premiere was the beginning of the reversal of some of those edicts: the music slowly got more interesting and thematic, the technology obviously improved--thus Voyager's run coincided directly with an overall improvement in production.

Yanks' point, I believe, is more that DS9 was not only guilty of its own sins (aren't all TV shows?) but of those *same* sins which niners often deride the other series for committing--technobabble and continuity gaffs chief amongst them.
Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
@Elliott - I guess my problem with trying to compare early DS9 to later DS9 is that they had no idea what to DO with the stupid space station back then.

What's wrong with early TNG (the reason it's goofy) is that they were still trying to write for TOS. Once they figured out what TNG actually was... look out! I think TNG S3-S5 was probably the most consistent in quality of any 3 year period in Star Trek history... and I say that as someone who likes DS9 best. The hit to miss ratio was just incredible.

TNG S1&S2 was Roddenberry trying to shove the TNG cast into a TOS shaped box. "The Child", "Outrageous Okona", "Code of Honour", "Angel One", "The Naked Now" (literally) really all would have worked better as TOS and were silly on TNG. Not to mention the S2 attempt to bring in a female McCoy to play off the emotionless one. ::eye roll:: Once TNG figured out what it was in S3 it was a different show. Sure it showed promise ("Measure of a Man", "Pen Pals", "Q Who", etc.), glimmers of what it would eventually be... but S1/S2 might as well be a different show.

DS9 has the same issue. S1/S2 were the writers trying to bring TNG plot lines to a space station. There were glimmers there of what it could be once it embraced it's concept ("Duet", "In The Hands Of The Prophets", "Necessary Evil", "The Maquis", "The Wire")... but there were also plenty of things that just showed that the TNG writers did not make the transition well ("Paradise", "Melora", "If Wishes Were Horses", "The Storyteller", "The Passenger", "Babel", "Move Along Home").

Strictly from a writing perspective both shows spent 2 seasons learning the hard lesson that they needed to NOT be their predecessor. VOY actually kind of "got it" right out of the gate, and is, by far, the most watchable show in the first 2 years. And then they went and changed it... even though I really prefer early VOY. Sure VOY had early clunkers too... but I really think what it was doing was working.
Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 2:03pm (USA Central)
@Elliott - Although I will agree with you that Stewart largely makes anything watchable. But TNG's 1st season was probably still in some ways the most painful freshman year of all of them.
Yanks - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 2:08pm (USA Central)
@ Elliot

Exactly and expressed much clearer than I did. Thank you.

@ Robert

Seasons 1&2's rank like this in my book: (best to worst)

ENT, VOY, DS9, TNG

Now worst is a realative term, I love them all. :-)
Yanks - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
@ Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 2:03pm (USA Central)

But TNG's 1st season was probably still in some ways the most painful freshman year of all of them.
==============================================

For sure and for the reasons you stated above.

They were trying to be too much like TOS while trying to look differnt doing it.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
@Yanks : rankings are fun. Mine would go this way :

S1 : TOS > VOY > DS9 > TNG > ENT
S2 : DS9 > TOS > VOY > TNG > ENT
S3 : TNG > VOY > ENT > DS9 > TOS
S4 : DS9 > TNG > ENT > VOY
S5 : VOY > TNG > DS9
S6 : DS9 > VOY > TNG
S7 : VOY > DS9 > TNG
Yanks - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 4:52pm (USA Central)
@ Elliot

I don't think I've ever seen rankings presented like that. I'd have to ponder a bit to rank them all :-)
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 3:22am (USA Central)
@Elliott

Do my eyes see this right? You placed three seasons of DS9 at the top compared to only TNG season? ;)

My rankings (though be warned, I'm a bit rusty with Voyager, been a very long time):

S1: TOS > DS9 > TNG = VOY > ENT
S2: DS9 > TNG > VOY = TOS > ENT
S3: TNG > DS9 = ENT > VOY > TOS
S4: DS9 = TNG > ENT = VOY
S5: DS9 > TNG > VOY (not sure about VOY here, maybe better thab TNG)
S6: DS9 = TNG > VOY
S7: DS9 > TNG = VOY

I am having trouble quantifying Voyager compared to NextGen. TNG is often more scattered, while VOY is a generally consistent show, but on the other hand even very weak TNG seasons have several wonderful episodes (like Pegasus, Parallels, Lower Decks, and the finale in S7) while Voyager very rarely moves me one way or another.
Robert - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 8:47am (USA Central)
@Paul - To be fair, Elliot may think that say... all shows had a weak S6 and DS9's was the least weak. The way it's presented it's impossible to tell which show is "preferred", but it gives a good indication of swings in quality.

I'll give mine, though I won't include TOS. I've seen like 95% of TOS, but scattered... so I am only aware that S3 is frowned upon, but I really don't know which episodes go with which season.

S1 - VOY, ENT, DS9, TNG

S2 - VOY, ENT, DS9, TNG

S3 - TNG, DS9 = ENT, VOY
Everyone's S3 was strong. I'll put VOY last, and TNG first, but it was REALLY, REALLY close.

S4 - DS9, ENT = TNG, VOY

S5 - DS9, TNG, VOY

S6 - DS9, VOY, TNG

S7 - DS9, TNG, VOY
(I'd probably put VOY over TNG if you didn't include the series finales, but TNG's was amazing and VOY's was really, really unfortunate)
Elliott - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 9:54am (USA Central)
Robert is correct. The only season of DS9 that I thought was consistently good was its fourth, surpassing even TNG's which was quite strong.

Sixth and seventh seasons were generally weak on all the shows. DS9's Occupation arc and a few choice episodes near the end of the season just barely squeak it over the line, while VOY's grander outings (Flesh and Blood, Workforce), political commentary and slight continuity bump push it over for season 7.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 10:03am (USA Central)
Oh, and none of the S2s were very good--ENT's was exceptionally bad and VOY's had few redeeming features. Thus, DS9's is only relatively best here.
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 10:39am (USA Central)
DS9 Season 2 has an amazing back third. I don't really agree with what seems to be a general consensus that it is a weak season.

I am also surprised how people often say that TNG sesons 3-5 are the best, while S6 is usually considered weaker by comparison. I tend to think that's the consequence of S5 having several of TNG's very best - Darmok, The Inner Light, I, Borg, The First Duty... But in my recent re-watch, I found that S5 is very uneven. As noted, it has several masterpieces, but the majority of the season is rather... unfortunate, which brings down its overall average quite a bit. Season 6, at least in my opinion, is much better week-to-week.
Yanks - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 10:39am (USA Central)
Not with you converning your view of Enterprise Elliot :-)
Robert - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 10:50am (USA Central)
@Paul - I actually think DS9's S2 opened and closed REALLY strong. I like S2 a lot. And actually I would probably squeak it tied with ENT2 if I had to do my list again.

I just REALLY, REALLY liked VOY S2. (excepting Threshhold)
Yanke - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 11:58am (USA Central)
Star Trek Season Rankings:

S1: TOS/ENT/VOY/DS9=TNG
S2: ENT/VOY/TOS/DS9=TNG
S3: DS9=TNG/ENT/VOY
S4: ENT/VOY=DS9=TNG
S5: TNG=DS9/VOY
S6: DS9/VOY/TNG
S7: VOY/TNG=DS9

I’m sure this will change some day. I’ve never really ranked all the episodes and figured out a numerical average.

Looking at everyone else’s, my list appears to be pretty unique. I obviously hold Enterprise in higher standing than most here.
Yanks - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 12:00pm (USA Central)
Let's try this again... including the 3rd season of TOS and spelling my name correctly :-)

Star Trek Season Rankings:

S1: TOS/ENT/VOY/DS9=TNG
S2: ENT/VOY/TOS/DS9=TNG
S3: DS9=TNG/ENT/TOS/VOY
S4: ENT/VOY=DS9=TNG
S5: TNG=DS9/VOY
S6: DS9/VOY/TNG
S7: VOY/TNG=DS9

I’m sure this will change some day. I’ve never really ranked all the episodes and figured out a numerical average.

Looking at everyone else’s, my list appears to be pretty unique.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 12:53pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.

For DS9, I do think it was a strong season, falling only behind seasons 4 and 6. That said, it did not carry the consistency in quality of TNG's 3rd-5th seasons, nor VOY's 4th-7th.

TNG's 6th season isn't exactly bad, but it's pretty monotonous. There are some standouts like Chain of Command, The Chase and Frame of Mind, but much of it feels unnecessary. I think if seasons 6&7 were condensed into one, it would have made a really strong end to the series. Something like :

1. Time's Arrow II
2. Relics
3. True Q
4. The Quality of Life
5/6. Chain of Command
7. Ship in a Bottle
8. Face of the Enemy
9. Tapestry
9. Starship Mine
10. Lessons
11. The Chase
12. Frame of Mind
13. Timescape
14. Descent (shortened to a single episode)
15. Phantasms
16. Attached
17. Force of Nature
18. Inheritance
19. The Pegasus
20. Lower Decks
21. Thine Own Self
22. Masks (I kind of like it)
23. Journey's End (too important to DS9/VOY)
24. Preemptive Strike
25/26. All Good Things

Then again, the same could be done with DS9 and VOY for better results. For example,

DS9 "6:7"

1. Time to Stand
2. Rocks and Shoals
3. Behind the Lines
4. Favour the Bold
5. Sacrifice of Angels (ideally with a better ending)
6. You are Cordially Invited
7. Statistical Probabilities
8. Waltz
9. Far Beyond the Stars
10. Honour Among Thieves
11. Change of Heart
12. Wrongs Darker than Death of Night
13. Inquisition
14. In the Pale Moonlight
15. The Reckoning (for continuity to the idiotic Pagh Wraith crap)
16. Tears of the Prophets
17. Shadows and Symbols
18. Once More Unto the Breach
19. Covenant
20. It's Only a Paper Moon
21. Chimera
22. Inter Arma Silent Leges
23. The Changing Face of Evil*
24. The Dogs of War*
25/26. What You Leave Behind*

*Obviously, the final arc would have to be rewritten to account for the different plot threads.

Voyager "6:7"

1. Equinox II
2. Survival Instinct
3. Barge of the Dead
4. Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
5. One Small Step
6. Pathfinder
7. Blink of an Eye
8. Virtuoso
9. Memorial
10. Child's Play*
11. Good Shepherd**
12. Muse
13. Life Line
14. Unimatrix Zero (condensed)
15. Imperfection
16. Critical Care
17. Body and Soul
18. Flesh and Blood
19. Lineage
20. The Void
21/22. Workforce
23. Human Error
24. Author, Author
25. Homestead
26. Endgame

*the Borg kids' presence would need to be explained
**this would be a good spot to move Paris/Torres' marriage
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 2:46pm (USA Central)
Looking at the list of TNG episodes, I find that S6 has only several really bad episodes: Man of the People, Rascals, Aquiel (though I kinda like this one), Suspicions, and probably Birthright II.

Season 5, however, has: Redemption II, Disaster (it's not THAT bad), A Matter of Time, New Ground, Hero Worship, The Masterpiece Society, The Outcast, Cost of Living, and Imaginary Friend.

And I really LOVE Lessons. I may be in a minority there, but that's one of my favourite TNG episodes.
Robert - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
Does anybody not like Lessons? I thought it was a great follow up to Inner Light.
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
I get the impression it's not that people dislike Lessons, it's more that hardly anyone mentions it among TNG "greatest hits". Maybe I'm way off here, but I love that episode something fierce. 4 stars on my scale.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
Paul M: I don't think Redemption II, Hero Worship or The Masterpiece Society all all that bad. Average maybe. Whereas S6 also has Fistful of Datas, Rightful Heir and the mediocre Second Chances in addition to the episodes you mentioned.
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 5:13pm (USA Central)
@Elliott

To each his own, of course, but I kinda liked those S6 episodes you mentioned. They're not particularly memorable, no, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

On the other hand, I despise The Masterpiece Society - it is among the best examples of late-TNG beige blandness that started to creep in around Season 5 with 2 rooms, 3 guest characters, heavy-handed message, dreadful music, and cheap conclusion. I've elaborated a bit on Redemption II on its page, but let me say that I feel it abandoned the themes and character focus of Part I for completely unrelated material that belonged in different episodes.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 5:29pm (USA Central)
Masterpiece Society had some memorable music (not that it was written by the staff)--it had that really lovely scene with Troi underscored by a child playing the Chopin E minor prélude. I also appreciated the evenhandedness of the storytelling and the quiet pace. Rightful Heir, Suspicions and, in spite of its budget, the damned cliffhanger, Descent, were all very beige in my view.

I agree that S5 was the beginning of Snooze Trek, but there are some really fine episodes, Darmok, Inner Light, Ethics, Cause and Effect, The First Duty...and the only really terrible episodes are Imaginary Friend and Cost of Living.

I also liked Lessons quite a bit, as well as Chain of Command II, Ship in a Bottle and The Chase, but little else from S6 feels like quintessential TNG the way the S5 greats do.
Paul M. - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 5:43pm (USA Central)
Ah yes, Descent... that was a bad episode. Though, Time's Arrow is right there with it in the Department of Bad Trek Two-Parters :)

William B - Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - 7:20am (USA Central)
I want to stick up for Descent a little bit. Or, rather, parts of it. I loved it as a kid -- and although now that I'm older, I see its flaws much more clearly, I still value quite a bit about it. In fact, I think the first half or so of Descent, Part I is genuinely very good, including Picard's genuine struggle over whether he made the right choice with Hugh (and including snapping at Riker in the Ready Room). But mostly, I love the Data material up to and including that holodeck scene with Geordi. The payoff here is that Data's hyperanalytical mind combined with his years-long quest to become human quickly turns to obsession feels very real to me, and frightening in the right ways -- as well as his sense of guilt in his scene with Troi, in which he dances around the possibility that becoming human may make him a bad person. I really think that the very end of Descent, Part II is strong as well -- the killing of Lore (even if Lore is BSing Data when he says "I love you, brother," which I think he at least partly is, the sacrifice is real) and the last Data-Geordi scene. There are some good ideas throughout, including the way Lore's stepping into the Borg leadership in the breakdown of their social order mirrors the way different cult leaders seize power whenever one oppressive regime breaks down (as in the breakup of the Soviet Union around the same time). The way Data's seduction hits on both his fundamental isolation from other humans and the possibility, hinted at in "Datalore" and "The Offspring" and "Brothers" and "The Quality of Life" that Data has a connection to other artificial intelligence that his human connections can't quite match or understand, and the fact that it is by no means certain that Data will maintain his various heroic qualities across a transition to emotions and humanity. Almost nothing *really* works between Data going back on duty in Part I and the final Data-Lore scene in Part II -- the resolution to Picard's moral crisis is underwritten to the point that it's almost impossible to find (the clue is in Picard solving his crisis by proxy, by telling Data that Lore's line about accomplishing good by doing evil doesn't make sense), Hugh is underused and doesn't even get a scene with Geordi, the Borg stuff is all over the place, Lore is too 1D in contrast to "Brothers'" interesting work, and, most importantly, once Crosis starts fiddling with Data's ethical subroutines Data not only turns on a dime but ceases to be interestingly Data until the very end of part II. I think it could have been very effective with some rewrites of part I and a complete overhaul of part II.

DS9's season 6 was indeed very good for the first 2/3 or so -- the period from A Time to Stand to In the Pale Moonlight is very strong, though there are a few clunkers like Sons and Daughters, Resurrection and (IMO) Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night. However, the season completely falls apart after ITPM. With the possible exception of the finale, no post-ITPM episodes work. TNG s6 has the opposite problem, in that its first third or so, besides Relics and Schisms and maybe True Q, is very weak. It's not until the (underrated) The Quality of Life or, if you prefer, Chain of Command that the season takes off. I agree with charges of blandness of TNG s6 -- but I still like it quite a bit. I also agree that TNG s5 seems more essential than s6, but is more variable.

I tried making a season ranking, but it's too hard -- at least, without having rewatched DS9 or Voyager recently (and only being in early s2 on TOS). Plus, I never got past s2 of ENT anyway.
Elliott - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 12:34pm (USA Central)
@William B:

I think the big mistake with Descent is the lack of focus. Picard's dilemma, individual Borg, the return Hugh, Lore's return, Data's new emotions, Bev's turn as captain, metaphasic shields....it's just too much to deal with in 1 two-parter and thus, nothing is really properly dealt with. Luckily, some of these issues were later handled a little better (Picard in FC, Crusher in All Good Things..., the Borg in Unimatrix Zero). Of course Data's emotions were dealt with in Generations....to the utter annoyance of most. Even though Time's Arrow wasn't as strong as Redemption or BOBW, I think it was sufficiently focused to work better as a season capper (Data, Clemens, the aliens, Picard-Guinan--that's it).
William B - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 1:16pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, I agree with that. I do like quite a few individual scenes in "Descent," but I also feel cheated because none of them get a satisfying resolution. Really too packed.

I haven't rewatched FC yet but I recall enjoying the way Data's emotions are handled there quite a bit -- much more so than Generations, anyway.
Paul M. - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 1:33pm (USA Central)
Bev in command of the Enterprise... oh, how mini-me--and big-me as well now that I think about it--hated that idea. Chief Medical Officer commanding the ship in a crisis? Really? In what nightmare scenario does that happen? And why? Picard takes all senior officer planet-side for a little stroll and leaves the person with no command experience whatsoever in charge? Oh how I suffered when I was a wee lad! How hard it was for my young inexperienced soul to endure this bullshit!

Whew.

Let me compile an ad hoc list of chain-of-command and administrative nonsense in Trek. Strictly off the top of my head.

Bev commanding the Enterprise.

Troi commanding the Enterprise in Disaster (I spit my last breath at thee!)

O'Brien hypothetically commanding the Defiant ahead of Kira (Rules of Engagement).

Silly notion that every ship (before Defiant) has to be commanded by a captain - freighters and miscellaneous small vessels most certainly don't have an officer with the rank of captain in charge.

Everyone from Riker's Academy class is apparently a prodigy. Riker was offered his own command at the age of 28/29. His classmate, captain Paul Rice, was already in command of USS Drake at that age (The Arsenal of Freedom). In Unnatural Selection (TNG Season 2), the (dead) captain of the Lantree was also of Riker's age. What's with this nonsensical bunch of captains in their twenties?

Nog can't read in DS9 Season 1, gets admitted to the Academy in Season 3, for some reason stops going to classes and returns to DS9 in Season 5, and becomes an officer in Season 7 (or is it 6?)

Janeway returns home as captain in 2378. The very next year, during the events of Nemesis, she is already a vice admiral (three pips). She was promoted three times in a single year!

Picard had been captain for more than 45 years. Now this is utter nonsense.

Sisko, with the rank of captain, commanding the biggest fleet Federation had ever seen in Sacrifice of Angels. What is the purpose of all those admirals anyway?

Yay! I love all this nerdy stuff! That's enough from me, I'd say.

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