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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 1:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night

Ah, a time travel episode. We've not had one of these since tomorrow.

At least this time, we're not going back to some period in American history. Instead, the writers dug out their "Kira or O'Brien" coin and it came up tails. So this week, it's time for Kira to suffer...

First, we get the highly implausible revelation that Dukat was in a relationship with Kira's mother. Seriously? Were the writers really down to scraping the bottom of the barrel for relationship plots? This is /bad/ soap-opera writing, and arguably on a par with the "Geordi LaForge's mother" episode from TNG.

But then again, this is really just a contrivance to justify putting Kira back on Terek Nor. Again. Because we've not turned the lights down on the DS9 set for a few episodes...

In any case, this "flashback" plot once more draws inspiration from the occupied territories of WW2, and the "comfort women" who were forced to service the troops who conquered their countries.

For all that it's heavily sanitised - the comfort women are positioned as (relatively) well-rewarded courtesans servicing officers - it's still disturbing to watch the way that they're rounded up and shipped out like cattle, thanks in part to the willing involvement of a Bajroan collaborator.

But then we come to the crux of the episode: Kira is forced into passing judgement on her mother's actions. And for me, it's the wrong judgement.

Her mother wasn't a willing collaborator. She was in a position of having absolutely no power, having been taken by force and forced into a role she never wanted. About the only action she could have taken would be suicide, and the Cardassians had already preempted that option by promising to provide slightly better conditions for her family. And Kira even gets direct evidence of this when she sees the message from her father talking about how young-Kira and himself were doing.

As such, the idea that Kira would remain so fixated on viewing her mother as a traitor seems overly judgemental.
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 11:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Change of Heart

I'm a bit torn about this episode.

There are some good aspects to it; it's one of the few times when the relationship between Worf and Dax doesn't feel forced, and his decision to save her is believable. It's also a reversal of sorts to the choice Worf found himself forced to make a few episodes earlier in Waltz, when he had to choose between searching for Sisko and protecting a convoy transporting thousands of Federation soldiers.

But at the same time: once more, Star Trek weapons are highly variable in their effects. This time, the Jem Hadar have their weapons set to "anti coagulant" rather than the more traditional "turn the enemy into a conveniently bloodless pile of dust" setting.

(And just how does an energy weapon have anti-coagulant properties? Lasers and plasma cauterise wounds...)

And it's a good job the Jem Hadar don't carry communicators, and that they don't report back to headquarters when encountering enemies. And it's equally good that they don't bother keeping track of their troops - after all, they can just grow new ones!

Then too, why does Dax insist on continuing with Worf? The sensible thing would have for her to either return to the ship or (if not possible) hold up somewhere and avoid any exertion to help minimise the blood loss.

So yeah. An interesting moral dilemma, but overly contrived for my tastes...
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 11:36am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Honor Among Thieves

One of those episodes I ended up skipping large chunks of.

DS9 has dabbled with film noir stylings a few times, especially when doing flashbacks to when DS9 was still Terek Noir.

Here though, it just doesn't work for me. The whole gangster plot is distinctly pedestrian and O'Brien does not make for a convincing undercover agent, even putting aside the fact that he has no training or experience to be put in such a position.

And the dilemma Miles goes through is a bit too predictable. In some ways, it's a reflection of the issues I generally have with Quark's position on DS9; he's heavily involved with illegal activities - and in this case, murder - but it's somehow ok because he's a nice guy.

Sorry. That plot's been done to death.
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 11:24am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: One Little Ship

A silly, lightweight and entirely throwaway episode, which mainly highlighted just how far TV-show CGI technology had come.

The bit where O'Brien and Bashir are rummaging around inside a circuit board is entertaining, but in the end, this is just the DS9 equivalent of fast food...
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 11:17am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

Oh look, a time travel episode which takes us back to 1950s USA. That's never happened before on Star Trek...

Snarking aside, it's an interesting episode, which pays homage to the pulp sci-fi which helped to spawn Star Trek while also showcasing some surprisingly hard hitting social commentary about USA racism (and to a lesser degree, sexism) in the 1950s.

All credit to DS9 for tackling this subject!
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Who Mourns for Morn?

An entertaining and lightweight episode about DS9's resident and silent in-joke. And part of the joke is that he' s not actually in most of the episode...

There's not really much else to say about it. The idea that gold is completely worthless is mildly entertaining, but odd - after all, it's one of the best conductors of electricity around, and the fact that it's chemically inert is part of the reason (alongside it's scarcity and colour) why it's so valuable in our society.

The ending is also a little too forced; having Morn sit silently while Quark rails at him is entertaining, but goes on a little too long.

Still, at least it's not a full-blown Ferengi episode...
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 10:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Waltz

A fairly good character-driven episode.

I'm not particularly keen on the well-worn trope of having imaginary characters pop out of thin air - it's something which sadly became very popular in later sci-fi shows such as BSG and Farscape. But one scenario where it does (mostly) work is when a character is descending into madness, and that's exactly what we see here.

One thing this episode does well is to highlight the twin elements which drive Dukat and fuel his descent into madness. First, he believes himself to be morally superior to everyone else, especially the Bajorans he once ruled over. Secondly, he needs people to acknowledge that he's morally superior.

It's something which has been highlighted before, not least when Dukat discussed his views with Weyoun about how true victory involves making your enemies acknowledge that they were wrong. And watching how his obsessions with these drive him over the edge is definitely believable.

Admimttedly, there's a few flaws in this episode.

The whole sub-plot with the Defiant felt... off. The idea that the entire bridge crew was willing to risk the deaths of tens of thousands of Federation soldiers in the hope of finding Sisko is highly suspect. I know Star Trek has always endorsed the "no man left behind" ethos, but I'd hope there'd be a bit more discussion and dissension among the crew before opting for the smaller side of the "few vs many" equation.

Then too, when Sisko knocks out Dukat, why didn't he take a few seconds to secure him or use his phaser to make sure he stayed unconscious? Dukat was clearly in the middle of a violent psychological break; I'd have securely trussed him up before doing anything else.

And then there's the overly trite ending, where Sisko decrees that Dukat is pure evil. There's a case to be made that Dukat /was/ evil prior to this episode (though at the same time, there's the counter argument that he believed himself to be behaving morally...). But at this point, he's clearly completely insane.

Can someone who's insane be truly evil? Or do they just need to be healed? Batman's Joker tends towards being pure evil, but I'd hope DS9 would have a bit more of a nuanced view, especially given it's love of moral ambiguities...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

A Ferengi fluff episode. Some mildly entertaining bits, though it's a shame that Keevan's character was discarded purely for a brief comedy moment; I still think he played a better diplomat than Weyoun.

Could be worse. At least it wasn't a Ferengi meets Mirror Universe episode...

(Be careful what you wish for - Mostly Spoiler-free Ed)
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

Another episode which isn't particularly strong.

The idea that we finally get to meet some more genetically engineered humans is an interesting one in theory, but the people they introduce are an odd mix; emotionally immature and yet intelligent enough to be classed as weakly godlike (to use a phrase Charles Stross introduced).

What they end up being is characters which are more mythical than damaged. Im many ways, they remind me of a more classical interpretation of elves (or Eldar, if you're into WH40k); beings following their own paths according to whimsies we understand little about, and uncaring about the effects of their actions on other species. They're just as likely to leave a changling in a baby's crib as they are to provide gifts or advice...

Truth be told, the results are a little too bizarre; they're able to perform mental feats which would challenge even a Federation supercomputer operated by Vulkans, which includes the ability to extrapolate psychological information from even a brief inspection of a VR clip.

But at the same time: one has the emotional maturity of a toddler, one is arguably full-blown sociopathic and the third is something of a nyphomaniac.

(Quite why the latter is considered dangerous enough to deserve long term imprisonment is an odd one, unless she's prone to psychopathic or stalker tendencies when rebuffed...)

And from there, they come up with a grand theory; a prediction that the Federation's war with the Dominion is doomed to failure.

This idea appears to have been lifted wholesale from Asimov's Foundation, but the DS9 writers failed to take several things into account - which is all the more ironic because Asimov himself raised these points in his later Foundation books.

The first is that the Second Foundation was only able to maintain Hari Seldon's plan through constant manipulation behind the scenes, to ensure that things stayed on the right track. The second is that their attempts very nearly failed because of the intervention of The Mule - a mutant, with the ability to emotionally control other humans.

Or to put it another way: the plan was almost derailed because of a variable which could be neither predicted nor controlled.

And Star Trek is full of such variables. Not only do you have dozens of alien races, many of whom the Federation has little or no information on (e.g. the Breen), but you also have lots of godlike alien beings such as the Prophets and Q, who can - and often do - intervene with just as much whimsy as the genetically engineered characters in this episode. And then there's other factors, ranging from time travel to parallel universes.

As such, the idea that this motley group of characters could confidently claim to model events decades into the future strikes a very false note indeed.

Beyond that, there's not really much else to say about this episode. Though it does perhaps raise an interesting question about Bashir.

If he's just as super-intelligent as the other elves in this episode, what is he doing hanging around with baseline humans? It must be like spending time with children - or perhaps even babies or animals - beings unable to comprehend even a fraction of what he does, and just as predictable and manipulable...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Resurrection

Another "character" episode - I'm guessing they were still paying off the special effects bill from the earlier part of the season.

And sadly, it's just as weak as the other post-station-reclamation episodes.

Bareil still isn't an interesting character, regardless of which universe he hails from. And while Kira looks very fetching in her PVC BDSM-lite outfit, her mirror-universe character remains a basic "evil dominatrix", with no attempts to flesh out or explore her character.

To be fair, there's a reason for that: she's part of the Mirror Universe, and is therefore meant to be a caricature. But this setup just doesn't work as well when she's transplanted over into the normal DS9 universe.

It's a shame, as there is some potential in the idea of MU Kira stealing an orb to try and gain an advantage in her universe. After all, the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths exist in the MU as well, albeit they presumably have inverted characteristics. It would have been interesting if she'd been able to get the orb back to the MU, only for her to face the evil Prophets...
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Jamie Mann
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 5:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

tl;dr: a fluff episode featuring some pointlessly OTT Klingon quasi-religious rituals, a bunch of wedding cliches and a couple who's relationship generally falls flatter than a Romulan pancake.

Or to put it another way: not an episode I found particularly fun or interesting.

Once more, Klingon culture is hugely stylised and masochistic; if they spend so much time being obsessed with these kinds of rituals, it's a miracle they ever found time to bootstrap themselves up into a space faring culture.

And then there's Worf and Dax. While it did start to become more plausible as Worf loosened up towards the end of season six, at this point, his humorless obsession with honour meshed very badly with Jadzia's freewheeling attitude to life.

(Which isn't to say that "quiet" people can't have strong relationships with extroverted people; I've got many friends with similar partner dynamics. But Worf and Dax simply never seemed to have enough commonalities beyond the fact that they both like martial arts and BDSM sex...)

I dunno. If I ever feel like watching through DS9 again, this is one of the episodes I'll probably skip!
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

I ended up not writing a review for the last episode; it's a good episode which hangs together well and sets up things for this episode.

Which itself is pretty good.

There's some interesting character interactions in this, not least when Dukat is gloating about his expected victory to Weyoun.

And while the lead up to it might be highly contrived, but Quark's reaction after he shoots down the two Jem Hadar is nicely pitched. Even Rom gets to shine rather than just being a comedy punchbag.

But this episode is mostly focused on two things.

The first is the large scale ship-to-ship battle which sprawls over most of the episode. And it's certainly exciting and very Star-Wars-esque, as ships zoom around and practically close to ramming distance before engaging with their weapons and then flying through the debris of the freshly disintegrated enemy vessels.

But at the same time, for all that this makes for a good spectacle, it's also utterly ridiculous. As I mentioned on the season 5 finale, this isn't a gun fight and it's not even a knife fight. Instead, it's a mud-wrestling match; the equivalent of two WW2 battleships closing in until their bows touch and then firing their main batteries at each other.

The second is the inevitable progress towards the dramatic ending, as all of Sisko's and the resistance's plans fail, forcing Sisko into a desperate one-ship stand in the middle of the wormhole as hundreds of Jem Hadar ships head towards him.

And then the Founders intervene.

This is a literal Deus Ex Machina, albeit one which is entirely in line with DS9's overarching storyline. As such, I'm not particularly fussed about the way they hand-wave away an entire Jem Hadar fleet while dropping hints about Sisko's future. After all, whether you see them as gods or simply superpowered aliens, they built the wormhole and have been proven to have significant powers of manipulation within it.

And so, the first big phase of the Dominion war is over, and we move into the final series of the show...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Behind the Lines

Not a bad episode, but the strongest part of this arc was clearly over.

The plotline around the resistance is fairly interesting. Sowing dissension between the Jem Hadar and the Cardassians is a neat little idea, though it's a shame that this was the essentially the only time that Sisco's raid on the Ketracel had any impact on the overall storyline. And Quark's accidental turn as a informant is entertaining.

But the main plot revolves around Odo and his poorly disguised descent into being a drug addict. And that's a bit too laboured for my liking.

There's also an odd little aspect to the end of this story, in that the Founder responsible for Odo's druggie state is standing there and listening in when Kira walks and berates him for failing to help Rom escape. I know she's meant to be focused on bringing Odo back to the Link, but even so, I would have expected her to at least flag Kira's involvement in the resistance to Weyoun and the Cardassians...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Sons and Daughters

I'm really not sure what the point of this episode was.

Arguably, there's some good points in the B-plot, especially the moment when Kira realises that she's happy about having received a gift from Dukat. But Ziyal just isn't a particularly interesting character - perhaps not as dull as Blandy McBlandface (aka Eddington) but still eminently forgettable.

Back to the A-plot, and I have to ask again: what was the point of this? We've already had the demotivated/demoralised Klingon crew theme in Soldiers of the Empire; throwing Alexander into the mix doesn't really offer any new angles on this. And the whole "angry teenager and distant father" plot feels overly hammy, even by Star Trek standards.

Let's move on...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Rocks and Shoals

Another good episode in what was probably the strongest run of episodes across all of DS9.

In some ways, the B-plot is arguably stronger than the A-plot, with Kira lifelessly trudging through her daily routine under Cardassian rule. The scenes where she forces herself to get up and go to work are deeply poignant. And the self-martyrdom of the Vedek bordered on a cliche, but still packs an emotional punch.

(Though I have to ask: with the number of falls and deaths from the upper promenade walkway, why has the station never fitted any safety nets, or some form of future-tech solution, such as a movement sensor and a low-power tractor beam...)

By comparision, the A-plot isn't as great, not least because it relies on a heavily contrived setup, in having the DS9 crew land within a convenient walking distance of the already-stranded Jem Hadar.

But still it does have it's moments, especially when Keevan appears on screen. For my money, he's a much better "negotiator" than Weyoun, with his devious plots and more sarcastic nature. It's a shame we didn't get to see more of this character going forward (except for... well, you know... spoilers!)

Equally, it's a bit of a shame that the writers decided to go for a turkey-shoot ending. Especially since there were two possibilities which could have been explored:

1) The 84 cannisters of Ketracel sitting on the sunken Jem Hadar fighter. Even if it's sunk too deep for a human to swim down to, surely one of the genetically-enhanced Jem Hadar could have made it down there...
2) The Jem Hadar could have been sedated. It would have been nice if the writers had at least considered this possibility - after all, it wouldn't be too hard to make up some reason as to why they couldn't be sedated, tied into their genetically engineered nature.

Still, a pretty decent episode when all's said and done...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: A Time to Stand

Another good, if distinctly dark, episode.

The one negative point isn't really about this episode, per se, but rather the consequences which arise from it. Or more precisely, the lack thereof.

I'm not a great fan of using "future knowledge" (aka: spoilers!) when reviewing an episode, but in this case, I'm going to make a bit of an exception. Because for all that they go to such great lengths to stage a raid on the Ketracel factory, it has virtually no impact on the plot threads going forward, barring a one-off bar-fight a few episodes later, which itself is equally as inconsequential.

It would have been far more interesting if the writers had followed through the implications of the Founders potentially losing control of the Jem Hadar. Alas, it was not to be...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Call to Arms

Shock, horror. This is... a pretty good episode.

I mean, I'd quite happily take the cutting scissors to all the scenes featuring Rom and Leeta, in this and every other episode going. Even if the initial scene with where they're looking at the TOS-styled wedding dress got a few callback bonus points.

But for the most part, everything works well. The plots, the intrigues, the betrayals, the alliances, it all makes sense within this context.

Perhaps ironically, the one thing I wasn't particularly impressed with was the battle scenes. They're increasingly Star Wars like, in that battles are carried out at extremely short ranges. It's not a gun-fight, it's not even a knife-fight; it's the space-battle equivalent of mud-wrestling.

It's dramatic, but also more than a little ridiculous.

(And without getting into spoiler territory, this trend continues in the sixth season...)
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: In the Cards

It's a fluff episode. It has a few funny moments. And (perhaps give or take the way it highlights the issues with the "post-money economy" model the Federation allegedly follows), that's pretty much all there is to it.
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:40am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Empok Nor

Another episode where the sum doesn't quite equal the parts.

The setup is fairly interesting and logical; DS9 needs replacement parts, which (for the usual technobabble reasons) can't be replicated or substituted for. So a trip to an abandoned Cardassian station (handily built with the same layout as per DS9) to salvage them seems logical.

Though that does raise an interesting question: it may have been mothballed by the Cardassians, but it's still technically owned by them - and heavily booby trapped, to boot. Sending a salvage team over to it during a cold-war scenario which is just a hair-trigger away from going nuclear seems somewhat... foolhardy.

But still, it's a nice little set up for a horror-themed episode, as the woefully underprepared Engineering crew find themselves facing off against a set of psychopathic zombie-warriors[*]. Which naturally, they deal with by charging around a darkened station with bright torches in small groups. Or to put it another way, easy pickings for psychopathic zombie-warriors lurking in the shadows...

In the end, the engineering red-shirts are all eliminated, so that the episode can focus on Garak, who's been exposed to the same psychotropic drug as the zombie-warriors. And naturally, he becomes obsessed with Miles and decides to play an odd little game with him.

Truth be told, Garak is always a fascinating character, and evil-Garak is even more so. But I do wish that O'Brien's solution had been a bit more... cunning. Outsmarting Garak by having him draw a /third/ phaser would have arguably been more apt and amusing.

Sadly, all the build up is somewhat wasted by the ending, which makes liberal use of the reset button. Garak gets to go back to his shop, and the deaths of the engineering team is hand waved away. And while there's a mildly amusing callback to this episode by Nog a few episodes later, that's pretty much it for the impact his actions have on the wider story.

And that's why the sum is less than the parts...

[*] Ok, ok, they're not zombies. But this episode channels Alien and Friday the 13th in equal parts, so I'm dubbing them Jason 1, 2 and 3! And I'm going to ignore all the hand-waving that the episode does around just /why/ there's a bunch of psychopathic zombie-warriors sat in deep freeze on the station...
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:09am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Blaze of Glory

Not a particularly great episode.

The revelation that the Marquis have been wiped out makes perfect sense - after all, they were only able to exist through an uneasy balance of factors, the two most important of which were the non-aggressive nature of the Federation and the fact that the Cardassians weren't able to bring any significant military force to bear, as it could be deemed a violation of the treaty and retrigger the war.

When the Dominion arrived and joined the Cardassians, that balance vanished - after all, the Dominion and Jem Hadar had no interest in maintaining the treaty with the Federation. And their solution to any threats or attempts resistance is to respond in overwhelming force.

And so, the Marquis were doomed as soon as the first Jem Hadar ships appeared through the wormhole.

Admittedly, it's a shame there wasn't more time spent on this; instead, 5 seasons of plot development are essentially dismissed in a single sentence so that this episode could focus on the tempestuous relationship between Sisko and Eddington.

Or, as I like to call him, Blandy McBlandface. And therein lies the problem; Eddington's personality is flat that it's just not interesting to watch them cross metaphysical swords.

There's also the fact that this episode is heavily contrived; not only is the method of delivering the message distinctly suspect (and overly reminiscent of the message Tain sent out to Garak during In Purgatory's Shadows, just ten episodes earlier) but given that Eddington knows that the fake message is actually from his wife, his decision to play such a hardball bluffing game with Sisko is odd, to say the least.

It can be argued that Eddington knows Sisko well enough to be able to predict his actions, but even so, it's a chancy game, especially when he then repeats the same hardball bluff with a set of Jem Hadar ships closing in on their stationary ship.

And I'm still unsure as to why the writers thought they needed to keep trying to draw parallels between Eddington and Les Miserables, and Blandy McBlandface's alleged desire to be a hero. Because once more, he just doesn't have the personality for it...
From there, things go down fairly well-worn channels.
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:32am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Soldiers of the Empire

An episode that's a bit predictable, but overall works well enough.

A ship which is low on morale, a commanding officer with doubts and a fiery second in command. Oh, and a neutral observer who's somehow able to pick up on subtle little details that the Captain and Second in Command have missed.

"The crew is deeply unhappy and on the verge of mutiny". Subtle little things like that.

Throw in some of the usual Klingon quasi-religious ritual, stir well, bake for 45 minutes and you have an episode which is ok. Not great, but ok.
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Ties of Blood and Water

It often feels that when the DS9 writers ran out of ideas, they'd take a coin and flip it. Heads, they'd write a "let's torture Miles O'Brien" story. Tails, they'd write another Kira-flashback episode.

And this time, the coin came up tails.

There's some good things in this episode. Kira's scene with Dukat is well done, and while I'm not that keen on Weyoun as a character, he does some excellent sniping in his conversations with Sisko and Ducat. And Kira's monologue at the end about Ghemor's last few minutes is both heartfelt and (having sat with people in similar situations) sadly all too realistic.

And the foster-father setup between Kira and Ghemor makes some sense, even if after their original meeting (two in-universe years earlier) there's no indication that they'd had any further direct interactions or communications, but instead just monitored media and security reports.

But did we really need to tie all of this into another Kira flashback? One that's about as subtle as a horde of drunken Klingon warriors in a china shop? And did we really need Dukat to throw in his little bombshell and thereby push Kira back into her original "revolutionary" persona?

Overall, this is one episode which has many great parts, but for me, the sum isn't quite what it should be.
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Jamie Mann
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:59am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Business as Usual

Hey, if you enjoyed it then it's all good :)

As an episode it was generally fine, but I've never been that impressed with how one-dimensional Star Trek aliens tend to be, and the Ferengi generally were painted in a far more simplistic way than even the Klingons or Bajorans.

Then too, we already know that Quark has historically always had some form of conscience or empathy - after all, he did sell supplies to the rebellion at cost (or only slightly above it).

For me, it's more of a general question. Why do the other characters still interact with him, despite the fact that he's proven time and again that he'll (nearly) always put profit above friendships, relationships, family and even the safety of the entire space station?

And then there's an even wider question. At what point does an unethical action become unacceptable? Quark was quite happy selling guns until the potential death figures started to reach six figures. So is it ok to sell a gun which will only kill one person? How about ten? A thousand?

Admittedly, Star Trek has always taken a wild-west/space opera approach to killing, with the main characters routinely building up (disintegrated) body counts in situations which would give a US marine PTSD for decades.

Though equally, there's also the age old debate about how far your responsibility goes when it comes to selling weapons (or drugs, or sex or anything else which can cause death, negative impacts or infringe on the rights of the people involved).

I dunno. It's just an odd and jarring setup. And when compared to contemporary shows like Babylon 5, it's definitely an overly simplistic one.
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Jamie Mann
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Business as Usual

A Ferengi-focused episode? Be still, my beating heart.

As such things go, it's one of the better ones, even if it does once again reduce them to little more than caricatured capitalists. But as ever, it highlights just how odd Quark's position on DS9 is.

He runs a bar with a built in casino and a holosuite where people can play out sexual fantasies. His staff are mostly female and (as per one of the early episodes, where said staff were contractually obliged to service him) Quark uses his position of power to domineer over them. He's also heavily involved in smuggling drugs and other contraband, has acted as an intermediary for mercenaries (which led to Jadzia nearly dying when one such group used him to take over DS9), and done many other illegal things besides, all of which the crew of DS9 are aware of.

In short, he's dabbled with pretty much every illegal or immoral activity going in his quest for profits, and has only avoided reaping the consequences of this thanks to the largess of the DS9 writers, excepting when they want to have a comedy moment or throw him into a situation with Odo.

And now, we're meant to buy into the idea that selling weapons is a step too far? Above and beyond drugs, gambling, prostitution and sexual abuse of his staff?

Better yet, we're meant to accept that things - and his relationships with everyone else on DS9 - go back to normal, pretty much the minute he walks away from selling said weapons?

There's a lot of things which don't really stand up to inspection in DS9, not least thanks to the way that the majority of episodes had to have a zero-sum ending to make it easier to sell the series for syndication. And for me, for all that his character definitely evolved over the seven seasons, Quark's entire existence on DS9 was one of the shakiest elements of the show.

So yeah. Not a great episode...
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Jamie Mann
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Hmm.

The less said about the B-plot, the better - if truth be told, I skipped through pretty much all of it.

The A-plot is a bit more interesting though, thanks in part to the semi-cameo from Zimmerman as the creator of Voyager's holographic Doctor.

But when all's said and done, it pretty much revolves around a single point, in the shape of the dirty little secret Bashir's been carrying around since he was a child: his parents genetically engineered him to be physically and mentally superior to everyone around him.

In some ways, this helps to explain his tendency to behave in a supercilious manner, though in others, it's pretty obvious that this wasn't a planned long-term arc; there were no explicit hints from the writers and there's a lot of past incidents where his superior capabilities should have come into play.

(Though to be fair, it does help to explain why he thought he could single-handedly tackle a virus created by the technologically superior Dominion - and his reaction when he failed...)

However, it also throws highlights an interesting contradiction of sorts within the Federation: the point blank ban on genetic engineering. There's a canonical reason for this - the Eugenics war from Earth's history - but at the same time, it's an odd blind spot in a society which prides itself on being a post-scarcity civilisation focused on the freedom of the individual, and where access to advanced medical technology is freely available.

(And it has to be said, there's been no shortage of episodes where genetic engineering/manipulation has played at least some part in the storyline, all the way down to the unfortunate TNG episode Genesis, where the crew of the Enterprise devolved into animals, only to be saved by Data genetically engineering a virus which performs genetic manipulation on the affected crew!

It's also something which is notable by it's absence from the Federation's interactions with the Jem Hadar - a genetically engineered slave race designed to be physically and mentally superior to everyone barring the Founders. In fact, it's something of a shame that there was never any parallels highlighted between Bashir and the Jem Hadar...)

It also leads to another question: where does the Federation draw the line on such things? Are they willing to address congenital defects in babies? Will they allow citizens living on marginally habitable planets to tweak their DNA to better handle extreme living conditions? What about selecting gender or dealing with quality of life issues - e.g. eyesight, allergies, mental health issues, and so on. Or things related to genetic engineering, such as cloning, etc.

These are the kind of shades-of-grey questions that DS9 was so fond of - and that medical science was starting to explore back in the 90s - and it would have been nice to see some exploration of these questions, rather than just having a blanket ban on genetic engineering.

Back to the story, and it's odd to see that for all that this is meant to be The One Big Bogeyman for the Federation, said ban isn't particularly well enforced; Bashir's parents may be placed under a limited form of house arrest, but Bashir himself is essentially let off completely, and is left free to spread his genes to children who would potentially inherit his supercharged genes...

Equally, this episode has an interesting implication, in that Bashir's parents were far from the only people to seek out a back-street doctor to hothouse their children. Or to put it another way: there's already lots of genetically engineered, "superior" humans running around the universe, and their numbers will only ever increase!

(And yes, I'm aware that we do get to meet some other genetically engineered humans in a later episode, but that way lies spoilers...)
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