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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Empok Nor (Review)

Empok Nor is effectively a slasher movie.

It is Bryan Fuller’s second story credit for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and it shares a number of tonal and thematic similarities with his story for The Darkness and the Light. Both episodes are essentially pitched as serial killer horror movies, in which monsters from the past stalk our lead characters. These are fascinating tonal departures for the Rick Berman era of the Star Trek franchise, even if they feel like the logical extension of early horror-tinged episodes like The Man Trap or Charlie X or The Enemy Within.

The great game.

The great game.

Empok Nor is not as well developed or as effective as The Darkness and the Light. It lacks the thematic and character-driven punch of that earlier episode, even suffering as a little derivative. While Kira’s efforts to reconcile her past as a terrorist with her current status quo was the driving force of The Darkness and the Light, the contrast between O’Brien as a soldier and O’Brien as an engineer feels a little underdeveloped in Empok Nor. More than that, Empok Nor suffers from casually transforming Garak into a gloating nineties serial killer.

At the same time, there is a cheeky thrill to watching the Deep Space Nine production team try their hand at a particularly trashy and visceral genre, offering jump scares and atmosphere on familiar sets with the lighting turned way down low. Empok Nor is not a standout of this most spectacular of television seasons, but it had its charms.

Sleeping beauties.

Sleeping beauties.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Past Prologue (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Past Prologue is a pretty decent second episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It does what it needs to do, serving primarily to build the world of Deep Space Nine just a little bit. After all, a story like this was inevitable with a character like Kira in the main cast, so it’s probably for the best that the show deals with it so early. It’s not a classic episode by any means, feeling as if the show was obligated to tell this particular story. Then again, I suppose that’s what the first season of any television show is for. Set up and development.

Past Prologue continues to hint at the strengths of Deep Space Nine, investing considerable effort in crafting a tangible setting for the series. However, there’s also a hint of the weaknesses of the first season to be found here. Like just about any of the Star Trek spin-offs, Deep Space Nine is going to spend its first year searching for its identity. While Past Prologue indicates the series is looking the right direction, it hasn’t quite found its footing.

Los cannon...

Los cannon…

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