400. [DS9] Invasive Procedures
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
It’s review #400! Boy, that sure crept up on me. Deep Space Nine is encountering yet another spacial anomaly because those happen so often to a stationary object. The station has been evacuated and only a skeleton crew of the people in the opening credits has remained to man the station and make sure the space storm or whatever it is doesn’t blow things up. Quark happens to be on the station too, since he couldn’t quite fit 600 bars of latinum in a carry-on, but Odo suspects (rightly of course) that he’s got something else up his sleeve.
A cargo ship gets caught in the storm and sends a distress signal to DS9. They tractor the ship to a docking bay, where Quark’s security device prevents alarms from being tripped by the mercenary Klingons charging through with weapons. They’re being lead by a Trill played by John Glover, who for purposes of I want to, we’ll call Lionel Luthor. (Verad, fine, if you want to know.) They wisely force Odo into a container so he can’t do his whole shapeshifty thing and beat them all up, and take the crew hostage. Quark is expecting payment for some merchandise he has for the Klingons, but it turns out that Quark was being used for a change. There will be no sale.
Lionel Luthor reveals his dastardly plot: he’ll take over Deep Space Nine and convert it into a Kryptonite refinery! And also, he wants to take Jadzia’s symbiont for himself. Only one in ten Trills are chosen for the joining process, and he worked so hard only to be rejected, so the only recourse for him is to steal a symbiont from a young woman and let her die from the ordeal. He wants Bashir to perform the procedure, who refuses, but Lionel threatens to have the crew killed one by one until he acquiesces. Jadzia makes the decision for him: she won’t let any of her friends die. She’ll agree to the procedure. And because she’s young and has a skilled physician performing the joining, her death won’t be immediate, and will buy them enough time to get it back where it belongs.
399. [DS9] Cardassians
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
It’s the return of my favorite slash pairing, Bashir and Garak! Hard to believe Garak only showed up once in the first season. He’s such a staple of the show in my mind. He and Bashir are having their wonderfully layered chats at the replimat when a Bajoran man walks onto the promenade with a Cardassian boy in tow. When Garak comes over to greet them, the boy responds by nearly biting Garak’s hand off.
The boy, Rugal, is one of the Cardassian war orphans abandoned on Bajor when the Cardassians left. Word travels quickly… almost TOO quickly… because not a minute after Sisko hears about the incident, he receives a call from Gul Dukat concerned about the incident. He’s very keen on doing something about the abandoned Cardassian children on Bajor that were abandoned, and asks Sisko to investigate the living situation of Rugal.
Rugal’s adoptive father Proka explains that he adopted Rugal so he wouldn’t have to suffer for the mistakes of the Cardassians who left him behind. He bit Garak because he hates Cardassians. It’s a bit concerning that Proka may be raising his son to hate his own species, but Proka simply insists that the facts of the Occupation speak for themselves. As for Rugal, the family all considers him Bajoran. However, further investigation on a trader who knows the family well brings to light allegations of abuse. To continue the investigation, they decide to place Rugal in the temporary care of Keiko O’Brien in the event that the allegations are true.
398. [TNG[ Gambit, Part II
SCORE: (3/5 stars)
Last time we saw the Enterprise, Data had deliberately lowered the shields and the mercenary ship was firing at them. I wonder if they’ll die!!! Of course not. Picard sabotaged the weapons systems of the mercenary ship so they did minimal damage to the Enterprise. Data decides to play along and let the Enterprise behave as though it’s more damaged than it is, firing weak phasers in response. The merc ship begins to flee, and Data lets it go, reasoning it’s what Riker wanted. Worf bitches as he is wont to do, and Data dresses him down in the ready room for openly questioning his orders in front of the crew, behavior unbecoming of a first officer.
Baran, the mercenary captain, offers Riker a potential job on his crew owing to his apparent betrayal of the Enterprise. He promises him quite the fortune, but Riker will have to prove his loyalty: get friendly with this Galen fellow and find out who he’s got on his side in the potential mutiny. Then, kill him. Meanwhile, “Galen” is confronted by the Romulan mercenary Tallera. She’s convinced he’s a Starfleet officer (because she saw him piggyback a message on Riker’s transmission), and confesses that she is not a Romulan but a Vulcan named T’Paal (gee, that name sounds familiar) who is investigating this artifact.
It’s not of Romulan origin, but Vulcan, and once assembled will make a powerful psionic weapon. There’s a faction of xenophobic Vulcans who want to secede from the Federation and expel all “lesser” races. (Did they really just recycle that from the Bajoran three-parter?) With this weapon, well, they’d have an easy time of it.
397. [TNG] Gambit, Part I
SCORE: (1/5 stars)
Ah yes, the episode most undeserving of a second part. In a bizarre campy turn, the cast of the Next Generation forget they’re in Star Trek and decide to play Buck Rogers for two episodes. We open in a seedy alien bar where the bridge crew, sans Picard, pretends (poorly) to be simple patrons looking for a bald guy. They get some bad news when they hear that a man matching Picard’s description was vaporized in a bar fight, and residue scans and Deanna’s truth detector show it to be true. Captain Picard is absolutely, positively dead, for absolutely sure. No way he could still be alive, guys. That’s how Picard dies: in a friggin bar fight.
Riker asks Admiral Chekote (whose name is far too similar to Chakotay’s) to be placed on detached duty so he can track down the murderers of Picard. Based on information they glean from an Yridian they picked up at the bar, they track a group of artifact looters to a planet where they engage in a long, drawn-out phaser battle that results in the bad guys capturing Riker. He finds himself on the bridge of a ship run by a guy who’s attached pain collars to everyone’s neck so he can press a button to keep you in line. One of his most surprisng crewmembers is our very own Jean-Luc Picard, who calls himself “Galen” and insists that Riker be killed.
Picard wasn’t vaporized by the gun, it was a gun that conveniently teleported him to their ship, because when you want to kidnap someone, the best way to get authorities off your back is to make it look like a murder. He was investigating their looting of archaeological artifacts, particularly of Romulan origin, and when he confronted them about it at the bar, there was an altercation. He’s been able to prove his worth to them due to his extensive archaeological experience and passes off his knowledge as being a smuggler who constantly travels through Federation space. His plan is to hate Riker enough to play the “enemy of my enemy” card with the captain of the pirates, and get Riker in their good graces. (You know, I feel like if they used guns that killed people instead of beaming them up, they’d probably get away with a lot more shit.)
396. [TNG] Liaisons
SCORE: (2/5 stars)
The Enterprise is engaging in a diplomatic cultural exchange with the Iyaarans. Picard is taking an Iyaaran shuttle to their homeworld, while two Iyaaran ambassadors are assigned to Troi and Riker to be led around the Enterprise. Byleth, the one assigned to Riker, immediately decides he’d rather be led around by Lieutenant Worf, who wasn’t looking forward to even spending 5 minutes in a diplomatic capacity, let alone a week.
A buffet is held in Ten-Forward where Troi’s ambassador, Loquel, is introduced to the concept of “dessert.” Because Iyaarans view food as a necessity rather than a pleasure and have very bland cuisine, he is enthralled by all these delectable treats. Troi’s entire time with him seems to be spent doing nothing more than eating chocolate. (I’m not sure if this ought to be in the nitpick section, but Troi’s constant sweet tooth seems at odds with her figure. Did they come up with a new sugar substitute in the 24th century that has an identical taste with zero calories? Or does she bribe the transporter chief to beam the contents of her stomach out into space?)
Byleth seems to be actively testing Worf’s patience. He is constantly belittling him, making unreasonable demands, and showing him little interest or patience. Worf is doing a good job at the beginning of holding back his homicidal urges, but privately confesses to Riker that he wants to disembowel the ambassador. Riker suggests they break the ice by going for a more informal setting: poker night. (Maybe Riker forgets how grumpy Worf always is at the poker table… it’s not like he ever wins). Byleth steals chips from Worf in full view to place a bet, and this is the final straw. Worf starts beating the shit out of him. Riker orders him to stop, obviously, but Byleth is not upset. Rather, he seems very pleased. He’s been waiting for this the entire time.
395. [DS9] The Siege
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
With only hours until the Bajoran assault fleet arrives at Deep Space Nine, the evacuation of all civilians is underway. Sisko gives all Starfleet officers the opportunity to leave, but they choose unanimously to stay behind. Kira and Dax go aboard one of the three runabouts in order to find an old fighter belonging to the resistance on one of Bajor’s moons so they can bring evidence of the Cardassians supplying the Circle. Quark gets the idea to scalp seats on the runabouts and make a tidy profit. Rom is concerned that Quark will sell his own seat out… but he proves to be a pretty good Ferengi when he beats Quark to the punch and sells his seat to a dabo girl.
The remaining Starfleet and Bajorans on the station (including the ever-forgettable Li Nalas) sabotage internal security sensors and hide out in the Cardassian equivalent to Jefferies tubes while Odo sneaks around spying on the invading military force. Their initial tactic is to trick them into thinking that the station has been abandoned, but General Krim is too cautious to think that Starfleet would have given up so easily, and wants to consolidate everyone in Ops where they would never risk a straight encounter.
Colonel Day, on the other hand, thinks that if they are still on the station, their best bet is to break up into search times and sniff them out. That’s exactly what Sisko and company counted on, and they use their superior knowledge of the station to ambush the smaller teams by trapping them in small enclosures, even using Quark’s holosuites to create decoys of themselves and locking the soldiers in. Sisko uses the intercom to tell Day that they have no intention of harming them, and they ought to know that the Circle is being supplied by Cardassians before beaming Day back to Ops. Day decides that bit of information, whether true or not, isn’t worth relaying to General Krim, because sometimes you have to be a goddamn asshole.
394. [DS9] The Circle
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
As Sisko tries to negotiate with Minister Jaro to keep Kira posted on DS9, she’s running a sitcom scene in her quarters as everyone comes in one at a time while she’s busy packing. Eventually half the cast is in there when she’s visited by Vedek Bareil. Since her next assignment has not been, well, assigned, he offers her a retreat at his monastery for reflection and (implied by me and by her fuck-me eyes) future consensual intercourse.
At the monastery, Kira has a hard time fitting in. With nothing to do, she tries “fixing” a stone in a stream that is too oddly shaped to sit in any way to satisfy her OCD. She explains that she’s always tried to be useful wherever she goes, but Bareil thinks she could take a lesson from being useless for a change. He invites her to gaze into the Orb of Prophecy and Change. When she doesn’t know how to work it, he tells her to “be useless.”
Her vision depicts the assembly of Vedeks, with Minister Jaro there proclaiming that he’s being called to, with Bareil appearing and telling Kira that she is the one being called to. Vedek Winn shows up, proclaiming blasphemy. And then things get kinky as Bareil shows up naked. But like most of my sex dreams, it ends just as things are about to get good.
Dammit, Jim, I’m a blogger, not a doctor!
This cold has been kicking my ass all week. I was able to get the last review in, but I’m staring at my Word file and can barely think straight enough to get my thoughts down. Sorry for two postponements in a week, but obviously my health takes precedence and I don’t want it to impact on the quality of my writing. I’ll get this review up Tuesday, hopefully.
Paging Dr. Crusher!
393. [DS9] The Homecoming
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
A contact of Quark’s gives him a Bajoran earring she’d received on Cardassia Four with instructions to deliver it to Bajor. He takes it to Kira, who instantly recognizes the earring as belonging to Li Nalas, a hero of the Bajoran resistance, whose struggle and triumph in hand-to-hand combat with a Cardassian Gul was legendary and rallied more Bajorans to the Resistance. This is a problem… you see, if this was recently smuggled, it means Li Nalas might still be alive. It also means that the Cardassians lied about releasing all their Bajoran POWs. It takes a bit of convincing, but Sisko agrees to let her take a runabout to perform a rescue operation, with O’Brien tagging along.
After disguising the runabout’s energy signature to resemble that of a Lissepian transport, they arrive at a labor camp on Cardassia Four and infiltrate it by posing as a pimp and prostitute. Once through the force field, they begin firing on the Cardassian guards and freeing the Bajoran prisoners, Li Nalas among them. They unfortunately don’t have time to rescue all of the prisoners before they are forced to leave, but they got who they came for: Li.
Upon returning to DS9, Kira finds Sisko in conversation with Gul Dukat, who expresses his deepest apologies for the labor camp still existing. He insists it was run without knowledge of the Cardassian government and all Cardassian officials involved are to be punished. The remainder of the prisoners are released at once. Dukat SEEMS to be genuinely distressed and apologetic, but given the kind of character Dukat grows to be on the series, it’s hard to believe this is more than a political stunt.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency
I’m coming down with a nasty cough and I want to stave it off before I start missing days of work, so I’m going to bed early tonight and skipping tomorrow’s Star Trek review. I’ll be back on schedule Thursday. Peace and long life!
392. [TNG] Descent, Part II
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
It’s the last season finale cliffhanger resolution for The Next Generation… evar! When last we saw them, Data and Lore had joined forces with a legion of Borg drones that had been disconnected from the collective. Lore has basically become a cult leader of this rogue faction of Borg that were created when Picard sent Hugh back to the Borg with his ideas of individuality. It nearly destroyed everyone on the Borg ship and they were desperate for a leader, a calling that a megalomaniac like Lore was only too happy to take advantage of.
Lore has been feeding Data emotions from the chip he stole from Dr. Soong, but only giving him emotions of anger and hatred, even convincing him that those are the “only emotions.” It’s clear by now that Data’s treachery is more than simply a reaction to emotions. Lore must have deactivated his ethical subroutines, as Data shows no qualms over stealing Geordi’s VISOR or running brain irradiation experiments on him.
The amorphous Borg ship has come to the planet and begins attacking the Enterprise. They’re able to beam away most of the away teams, but 47 crew still remain on the planet and Dr. Crusher, acting captain, is forced to flee to the nearest transwarp conduit to lick their wounds and come up with a plan of attack. Her orders are to return to Federation space and alert them of the danger, but she’s not going to leave all those people down there and wants to attempt another rescue before returning home.
391. [TNG] Season 6 Review
SCORE: (3.88/5 stars)
Not quite as good as the absolutely phenomenal season 5, but this season of the Next Generation has still packed plenty of punch and kept the momentum going through a series of very strong episodes. The first half of the season was setting the stage for DS9. O’Brien and Keiko got a lot of screentime early in the season to prepare us for their transfer. The Cardassian menace was built up as Picard was kidnapped and tortured by David Warner. Bashir showed up to promote his new TV series.
Amidst all that was a lot of character development episodes. Data unlocked the ability to dream. Worf had to confront his hatred for the Romulans and his own faith in the Klingon religion. (Mythology? I’m not sure what the correct term is for it.) Deanna put on her uniform for the first time since the pilot 6 years ago and almost coincidentally gets some more respectable episodes out of it, including the fan-favorite where she has to play a Romulan. Riker’s forced to examine the choices he made over the past 8 years through the lens of a transporter duplicate. Dr. Crusher is forced to put her medical ethics at odds with her pursuit of justice. And Geordi… well… had a rather poor love story with a murder suspect.
I’m actually not that impressed with the season finale, though. It seems to be built entirely on shock value with no real substance. “The Borg are back!” “The Borg are different now!” “Data felt emotions!” “Data’s turning evil!” “Dr. Crusher is captaining the Enterprise!” “Lore is back and leading the Borg!” It feels like they had a grab bag of fan favorites and story ideas that had been up on the corkboard for 5+ years and put them together because this was the penultimate season finale. It’s not that having these builds isn’t exciting if there’s a payoff… but there’s no payoff for anything.
390. [TNG] Descent, Part I
SCORE: (3/5 stars)
The opening scene is quite memorable. Stephen Hawking had been touring the TNG set during filming of this episode, and the writers took advantage of his visit by setting up a poker game on the holodeck between Data, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Stephen Hawking himself. As far as I’m aware, this is the only instance in Star Trek history of a historical person being portrayed by themselves. Just as Hawking takes the pot with a 4 of a kind, Data’s called away on an emergency.
The Borg have returned, but there’s something different about them this time. The behavior of the drones seems wholly unlike the Borg character to date. They have names. They mourn comrades. And they aren’t seeking assimilation this time… they instead wish to destroy so-called “inferior” life forms. Their ship isn’t a cube this time either, but rather a wholly asymmetrical design.
When in battle with a Borg drone, Data finds himself getting angry as he fights the drone off and kills it. His apparent emotinoal response is surprising, and he immediately requests a temporary relief from duty so he can explore what happened and attempt to evoke an emotional response again. He first attempts to evoke so-called “positive” emotions, but Deanna suggests that he shouldn’t shy away from the emotion he was able to achieve: anger.
389. [DS9] Season 1 Review
SCORE: (3.58/5 stars)
And so we reach the end of the first season of the first spinoff of the first spinoff of Star Trek. You know, I had always told people that the first season of DS9 is a little rocky and they should skip most of it. The bad episodes like “If Wishes Were Horses” or “Move Along Home” tended to become overstated in my memory of the season, with middling episodes like “The Storyteller” or “Dramatis Personae” filing in the background.
Never mind the fact that “Emissary” is, in my mind, the strongest pilot episode of any Star Trek series (and interesting fact: was the most-watched episode of any Trek in its original broadcast). Never mind the powerful emotional impact of “Duet” or the exploration of classic Roddenberry humanism in the science versus religion debate of “In the Hands of the Prophets.” For some reason, I tended to forget about all those strong episodes in my recollection.
Doing these reviews, then, is almost more for my own personal benefit than for your entertainment. It refreshes, solidifies, quantifies and documents for me the things I like and dislike about Trek. It’s definitely changed my view on this first season of DS9, which I now think is pretty darn strong when compared to, say, TNG or Voyager. It’s got strong characters pretty much right out the gate, and while it still occasionally relies on the “space anomaly of the week” episode (which makes little sense when on a space station that isn’t exploring the galaxy), is starting to explore the benefits of staying in one spot and really developing a culture.
388. [DS9] In the Hands of the Prophets
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
It’s Keiko versus Winn, the battle of the most unlikable characters on DS9! Who will win? For those of you watching DS9 for the first time, Louise Fletcher makes her first appearance as the most hated person on camera since she played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Vedek Winn Adami has arrived on DS9 to start protesting Keiko’s classroom teaching about the wormhole without making her lesson plan about the religious beliefs of the Bajorans and their Celestial Temple. Keiko refuses to let her classroom be hijacked by religious fanaticism, leading to a two-and-a-half hour televised debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye.
Sisko feels stuck in the middle, being the Emissary to the Prophets, yet being an “atheist” Starfleet officer not in a position to take sides. He wants to find some common ground between Keiko’s school and the Bajoran religious interests, but fears that Winn has no desire for compromise on the matter. She’s a strong contender as a replacement for Kai Opaka, and this looks to be a political move on her part. He travels to Bajor to meet with one of the more liberal Vedeks, a man named Bareil, but because Bareil is also in the running for Kai and because much of the Assembly fears Sisko for one reason or another, it wouldn’t be politically savvy for him to side with the Emissary before clinching the coveted Space Pope Hat.
Tensions between Starfleet and the Bajorans come to a head when Keiko’s classroom is firebombed. Fortunately, nobody was inside, but this act of terrorism cannot be overlooked, and Sisko outright blames Winn for inciting people to violence over religious beliefs. Bareil sees an opportunity to win some political points in the wake of the bombing, and comes to DS9 to speak in favor of peace. But the murder of a Starfleet officer in the B-plot leads to evidence that someone was planning to steal a runabout and had disabled the weapon detection system in the Promenade.