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Nathan B.
Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

Cellphone autocorrect error: "Dislodge" was supposed to be "Sisko."
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Nathan B.
Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

Autod, you need to see "Rocks and Shoals." Keeven sent his Jem'hadar to be pointlessly slaughtered just so that he could save his own skin, which he did by surrendering to Dislodge as a prisoner of war. In that context, he's not sympathetic at all.
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Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 13, 2016, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

Sorry for the typos. I wrote my comment on my cell phone!
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Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 13, 2016, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

Peter G. and Andy's Friend: good discussion!

I think a few things need to be cleared up. First, I use the word "god-like" as something of a metaphor--both for Star Trek and for Nietzsche. Furthermore, Nietzsche's Overman emerged from the same intellectual stream that produced Charles Darwin. Also, I do definitely think that Sisko *functions* as what is traditionally termed a Christ-figure. The fact that he does so does not mean that this role exhausts who Sisko is, though! I agree that Sisko can be fruitfully compared to Abraham--and that comparison also does not exhaust his character, either.

More centrally, I think that Peter G. and I have a fundamental disagreement about the meaning of Trek. As I see it, the evolution of humankind and other species towards something that greater is central to Trek, most especially in TNG. From Transfigurations to Evolution to Emergence to the Q episodes, TNG celebrates the evolution of species and individuals, and that evolution is open-ended, and often trends in the direction of the divine.

Regarding the notion that humans should not aspire to be god-like, I disagree. I suspect you may be thinking most especially of two episodes: "Hide and Q" and "The Nth Degree." But surely the point of these two episodes is that humankind is destined for far greater power and knowledge, but these have to come organically from within--no short-cuts. No one argues that because the boy Wesley refuses Q's gift of instant manhood, that he should remain a boy forever. As Wesley tells Q, "I'd rather get there on my own." If Wesley had accepted Q's gift, he would have been a sort of Pakled (i.e. he would be advanced but without the morality to justify the advance). Similarly, Barclay as God didn't work because it wasn't a logical development of Barclay's journey--he was literally zapped into godhood by an alien.

Speaking of aliens, the Wormhole aliens are worshipped as gods by the Bajorans. Now, DS9 drops hints that the Prophets have already evolved (they are, "of Bajor," as the Prophets themselves put it. But apart from Keiko and Jake (and Weyoun), no one ever says the Bajorans shouldn't worship the Prophets. Sisko himself goes out of his way to tell Jake, who wants to see the Wormhole Aliens as not divine, that "we can't afford to think that way." Now, in the real world, I side with Keiko and Jake, but that's another matter.

DS9 delves not only into themes of evolution, but also the meaning of faith. After we see so many heartfelt prayers, from Dax at the orb to Weyoun (forget which #) to Odo, to even Dukat at the altar of the Pah-wraiths, you can't say that DS9 isn't a show in large part about the impulse to faith and religion. The fact that this theme sits in fruitful tension with the stories of evolution to godhood is a testament to the tremendous writing that undergirds the whole series.

DS9, like all other cultural phenomena, didn't arise in a vacuum. With themes from evolution to godhood to the journey of faith and religion, it responds to the world we really live in--which, by the Nineties, was a world in which it was obvious that religion was gaining in importance, rather than declining, DS9 was perfectly positioned to entertainingly probe what it means to be human, even as the two themes (among others) guaranteed a wide potential audience.
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Nathan B.
Fri, Jul 8, 2016, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

Well, Peter G., I think your comparison to Abraham was interesting--there certainly are, as you pointed out, a number of parallels between Sisko and Abraham. That said, I think the Christ-figure designation has far more applicability to Sisko. Abraham did not have an unusual birth or death, and he was not divine. Jesus, on the other hand, has a virgin birth, a resurrection, and is a deity, to boot, so I'd say that it is the Christ-figure comparison is much more applicable here. Furthermore, Jesus, like Sisko, is in a sort of communion with God; thus, for instance, you have Jesus on the cross asking God why he (i.e. God) has forsaken him (i.e. Jesus); I was reminded very much of this when the wormhole closed itself and the Prophets stopped speaking with their Emissary and through the orbs.

I think the term "Christ-figure" is the one that best captures this aspect of Sisko. Of course, there are similar figures in other mythologies and in stories from other cultures, but the fact remains that DS9 was produced by Western culture steeped in biblical imageries and stories.

Now the fact that Sisko is willing to do things like murder several Romulans, and deceive an entire people in ITPM, throws a whole twist on the Christ-figure theme.

Back in The Next Generation, on the Enterprise, there is in Picard's conference room a painting showing the light of a sun coming over the shape of an intervening planet. It's an obvious allusion to a magnificent scene from "2001: A Space Odyssey"--it's shown quite a number of times in TNG. 2001 itself was paying homage to Nietzche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra," which predicted that mankind would eventually turn into something god-like, once it had cast off the shackles of religion. The whole idea of TNG is that things, people, species, even ship spare parts, are evolving into something that we could conveniently call "godhood." Sisko in DS9 parallels this evolutionary development, except that he gets incorporated into a existing sort of religious system--even as Odo does (despite the fact that he didn't want it). A major part of DS9, then, remains optimistic about the potential of living, sentient beings in a fundamentally TNG-ish kind of way.
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Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

"...Bajor assured...." Sorry!
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Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

I'm surprised no one mentions here the fact that Sisko is a Christ-figure. Born of the will of the Prophets, taught to suffer and to bear the weight of the Alpha Quadrant, died, and resurrected. Then, like Jesus, he appears to Mary Magdalene, er, Kassidy. That closing shot of Jake and Kira--who so deserved their final goodbyes with Sisko--looking at the wormhole and missing him recalls Jesus's "where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them." But Sisko and the Prophets also have a bit of an Old Testament feel to them, too: that's how they can surprise us with their willingness to undertake actions that don't immediately look right: possessing Sisko's mother's body so that she will bear the Chosen one, firing a gas into a planet that will make it uninhabitable for humans, murdering a foreign diplomat and his enterouge and lying so as to bring the Romulans into the war, etc.

And that's why we don't get to see Bajoran assured of Federation membership. That's why Jake doesn't get his farewell. We're dealing with godhood, now. Things will be different, and surprises will be in store. Ultimately, then, the story is about Sisko's evolution towards, and acceptance of, his divinity.

In making the story in this way, DS9 leaves the consistent atheism of TNG behind in favour of concerns more germane to our world today. I'm something of an atheist myself, but I find the long-term character arcs of the darker, if still Trekkian DS9 much more entertaining.
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Nathan B.
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 2:18am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

Wow! What an episode!

I wanted to add one thing: I know that many claim that Sisko does not work for Section 31, but that he is sympathetic to it. I think that given how closely Sisko and Admiral Ross worked, and how they appear to have a lot of not only respect, but also a certain knowing camaraderie; and given how Sisko in ITPM rationalized the murder of a Romulan diplomat as the price to be paid for getting the Romulans to enter the war against the Dominion, that Sisko is indeed in the Section 31 loop. And I think he manipulated Bashir into accepting Sloan's assignment just as Admiral Ross did.

Well, it makes for a bit of fun, anyway. And yet the topic is quite serious--and thoughtfully explored. The argument between Bashir and Ross at the end recalled some of the best of TNG's greatest episodes, episodes in which a moral issue is really explored from two opposite angles.
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Nathan B.
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

I *LOVED* this episode. It was light-hearted--what fun it was to see our heroes strolling past Quark's to loud jazz music! It was also serious--and here I am thinking of Sisko's reservations about the historical portrayal of a period that saw grave injustices perpetrated against Black Americans.

But ultimately, this was to me a kind of virtuoso performance on the nature of Trekkian fantasy. Remember all those TNG holodeck episodes with the safeties off? DS9 does holodeck episodes far better: we care so much more about Vic than we ever did about Moriarty or any holodeck character in TNG. The jeopardy of the show--the danger Vic and the characters' love for him--make the episode worth watching.

TNG tried to produce a meditation on the whole of the Star Trek franchise in "Emergence." It was corny as hell, but touching in a way because of the fact that the whole show was obviously meta-talk about the afterlife of the TNG franchise.

I see "Badda Bing, Badda Bang" as DS9's answer both to "Emergence" and to "The Royale": it's a casino story, but instead of just being stupid (like "The Royale") it's funny. And instead of being rather too silly, like "Emergence," it's stylish and well-done.

The actors had a blast with this one, and I enjoyed watching it and listening to it. Just as our characters care for Vic and find joy in his presence, DS9 fans like me love Sisko, Kassidy, Nerys, and the rest, and find joy in keeping up with them. And if nothing else, the show serves up a beautiful portrayal of Black people by Black people. In a world in which white politicians still have trouble acknowledging that "Black lives matter," in a world in which white police officers gun down unarmed black children, women, and men, positive and authentic portrayals of African-Americans on the screen are still necessary, enriching, and of vital importance.
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Nathan B.
Thu, Nov 5, 2015, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Chimera

A lot of people have talked about racism in relation to this episode. I don't really see it that way; prejudice against those unlike the majority is a major feature, but surely this is more about homophobia than racism. He has bumps on his forehead, but she has a wrinkled nose.

I often wonder where this heterosexual phobia of gay people comes from. Quark might say something about the need for reproduction, I guess.

Anyway, for me, this episode was incredibly touching. The most poignant scenes for me involved Kira experiencing self-doubt and regret for not being able to connect with Odo on the level of the other Changelings. But Kira and Odo connected in another way: love.

"Chimera" is surely just as much about love, fidelity, compassion, and understanding and empathy as it is an exploration of prejudice.

I have to agree with Jammer's comments on the romance between Kira and Odo really working here to produce something not only believable, but poignantly touching. And memorable. Definitely a 4-star outing of 4.
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Nathan B.
Thu, Nov 5, 2015, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Emperor's New Cloak

I've hated every mirror episode universe I've seen...and this one was no exception. That said, at least it had some humour, and at least it leaves the Terrans better off.
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Nathan B.
Sun, Nov 1, 2015, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

Lovely, moving, touching, thought-provoking. Wonderful episode in every way, from the scripting to the acting.
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Nathan B.
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

Missed a key definite article--damn! Er, blast! Er, I think I mean "peace!"
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Nathan B.
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Covenant

I believe that Yanks was the only one to note the obvious and intentional parallels between Dukat and Jim Jones. But I don't think anyone noticed that the religion of Bajor, which has so often seemed based at least partly on Buddhism, is here made to resemble Catholicism. The liturgy of this new religious movement is very Catholic, but the word the scriptwriters themselves have given the group is the word "cult." In other words, what most people consider mainstream religion is actually cultish.

In a way, it's almost as if the writers of this episode are standing up alongside atheists and saying, "yes, faith isn't just illogical or nonsensical--it's evil and dangerous!"

For my part, I suspect that faith in the prophets will win (no pun intended!) by the end of the season, but this episode, like so many before it, eloquently makes the case that religion is more a force for evil than good. And that viewpoint is valid and necessary in a world in which the leader of the most powerful country on earth must be a "Christian" and whose most important enemies wage all their battles in the name of "Allah."

I also very much appreciated the scene of Dukat praying to the Pah-Wraiths with the same intense questioning, longing, and guilt with which every Catholic and Protestant sinner has prayed to God. And in a way, Dukat's approach to his private altar of prayer resembles Dax's own approach to the prophetic orb before Dukat and the demon within him killed her at the end of season six.

Faith for Dukat ultimately means faith in himself. He appears to believe in the Pah-Wraiths in some fashion, and he appears to have been changed by them. But in the end, he's the same old Dukat: still wanting the adulation of Bajor and to dominate it, still wanting sex with Bajoran women who have less power than him, still willing to kill to cover up lies, still desperately wanting the approval of Kira. If faith in theory is what makes impossible possible, then for Dukat, like so many true believers before him, faith is the art of the possible when true change is impossible. Faith covers this failing up, like with a shroud or veil.

In short, I think that DS9--taken as a whole in its depiction of religion--is remarkably well-balanced, showing not only the positive sides of faith--personified most of all in Kira, the deeply spiritual survivor of a Bajoran holocaust--but also its dark side: the side that claims that selfish, base murders and lies done only for personal profit are the actions wanted and commanded by gods.

(*By the way, I couldn't help thinking that Dukat's wardrobe inspired Palpatine's in that pivotal scene with Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.)
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Nathan B.
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 12:07am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

Wow, the hate for this one is really strong...and, in my opinion, *not all* undeserved. I found most parts of the episode hilarious, and I enjoyed it very much. I agree with the point, too: that men would greatly benefit and grow as people if they empathized with women. "Profit and Lace" was a solid comedy in the tradition of Menander and Shakespeare.

Like the (barely extant) plays of Menander, though, there is a massive blindspot, and that is the willingness to overlook sexual harrassment/assault. The opening scene with Quark was very painful to watch. I kept thinking, "have the writers learned nothing from their last outing all the way back in Season One?" And I hoped that by the end of the episode, we'd see that they had--only to watch them undermine it all by having the dabo girl want to perform Oomox for Quark.

There are plays in both Euripides and Shakespeare that appear to confirm the prejudices of their audiences while actually undermining them. Menander could get away with this in the fourth century BCE. Shakespeare could get away with this in the 16th century CE. But the writers of Deep Space 9 in the twentieth century should have known better. The problem is that instead of presenting something with traditional Ferengi chauvinistic values and undermining them, the episode appears to undermine the new Ferengi value of equality.

I think that the writers would counter that they were trying to say that an empathetic male is one who is also truly happier. Consent is not only required for sex to be non-criminal, it's also sexy. That's why Quark gets his "happy ending." And in a way, it also mirrors the last episode, "Valiant." In that episode, the only member of the regular Red Squad cadets who had the wisest attitude--a yearning for home--survived. Put militarism before your humanity, the writers are saying, and you've given up what makes you actually alive. It's not subtle, but the point is a good one.

As for the episode itself, Quark would have been out of character to refuse Oomox once offered freely--but there's no way his employee would have freely offered that after being harassed. The closing scene as written should have never made it onto the printed page, let alone the screen.
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Nathan B.
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: His Way

Four stars! Or at least, three-and-a-half. I *LOVED* this episode, perhaps because Odo reminds me of myself in some ways. By the end of the episode, I wished very much that Vic were real and my friend. I'm glad to hear he'll be back..

"His Way" is not "In the Pale Moonlight." It's not a serious and deep examination of the darker side of human nature. It's not a reflection on the finer points of ethics and morality. It's a nice bit of touching fun, and accomplishes all that that sort of episode is designed to do. And after ITPM, the timing was perfect, even as "Family" followed "BOBWII." And it's certainly one of the most memorable episodes I've seen in these six seasons. Overall, I'm left very impressed by the versatility of DS9, easily the best of all the Star Trek sub-franchises.
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Nathan B.
Sat, Sep 12, 2015, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Who Mourns for Morn?

I have to say, Worf's reaction to Jadzia's teasing comment that she once had a crush on Morn was hilarious! It was a good self-parody of his usual tendency to jealousy.
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Nathan B.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

Sincerest apologies for the multiple postings above. It seems my phone had a connection problem at the time.
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Nathan B.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

Er, "but," not "by" (above).

I loved the dryness of the Vorta, by the way--a nice counterpoint to the enthusiastic Ferengi!
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Nathan B.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

I'm with those other commenters who have noticed our otherwise-excellent reviewer's prejudice against Ferengi episodes. There's simply no way one of the funniest Trek episodes ever gets a 2.5 stars. In fact, "funny" doesn't begin to describe the episode. "Hilarious" is better, by doesn't do it justice either. I laughed so hard for so long I had tears all over my face and butterflies in my stomach. This episode was hysterically hilarious!
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Nathan B.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

I'm with those other commenters who have noticed our otherwise-excellent reviewer's prejudice against Ferengi episodes. There's simply no way one of the funniest Trek episodes ever gets a 2.5 stars. In fact, "funny" doesn't begin to describe the episode. "Hilarious" is better, by doesn't do it justice either. I laughed so hard for so long I had tears all over my face and butterflies in my stomach. This episode was hysterically hilarious!
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Nathan B.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Magnificent Ferengi

I'm with those other commenters who have noticed our otherwise-excellent reviewer's prejudice against Ferengi episodes. There's simply no way one of the funniest Trek episodes ever gets a 2.5 stars. In fact, "funny" doesn't begin to describe the episode. "Hilarious" is better, by doesn't do it justice either. I laughed so hard for so long I had tears all over my face and butterflies in my stomach. This episode was hysterically hilarious!
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Nathan B.
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Waltz

Frankly, I *love* watching Dukat, and I have enormous sympathy for him, though not for his unethical actions themselves. DS9 did him a great disservice here, and probably harmed the series, too.

It's something that's been bothering me for some time: remember how fun "The Hobbit" was? It got turned into a strict good vs. evil plotline in the Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the LOTR, of course, but that set the stage for Harry Potter. Again, a fun, multi-faceted story with evil in it ended up getting turned into another epic good vs. evil story. And DS9 goes the same way. Star Wars, too, is a strict good vs. evil affair. Just because there's war or conflict involved in a story doesn't mean the writers have to go for a heavy-handed morality play.
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Nathan B.
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

Re the part of Elliot's comment on Bashir and Garak as a couple: a thunderous "Amen!"

Re the chemistry between Worf and Dax: it is there, but I would so much prefer K'Ehleyr. I also really liked Deanna and Worf in the alternate timeline TNG episode. Worf and Dax do love each other, but they aren't even remotely compatible.
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Nathan B.
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: A Time to Stand

Sorry: I thought I was posting that on "Sons and Daughters"!
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