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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Body Parts (Review)

This February and March (and a little bit of April), we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Like The Quickening before it, Body Parts offers another glimpse at the humanism at the heart of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Body Parts plays into the broader themes of the fourth season. Zack Handlen effectively and memorably described Deep Space Nine as “Star Trek’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys.” In a way, that has been true since Emissary; the episode where the series got a bitter widower who wasn’t even a proper captain and a chief engineer who used to manage a transporter room on the flagship. Characters like Odo and Garak were always outcasts, while it never felt like the crew operating the station could claim to be the franchise’s “best and brightest.”

"Look, we're all exhausted after the season that's been..."

“Look, we’re all exhausted after the season that’s been…”

However, the fourth season really emphasises this aspect of the series. Worf joins the cast in The Way of the Warrior, and is promptly cut off from his own people. In Sons of Mogh, Worf is quickly cut off from his own brother. Kira brings Tora Ziyal to the station in Return to Grace, and she reflects on her isolation in For the Cause. Odo’s estrangement from his own people will be properly formalised in Broken Link, when he is cast into a wilderness between human and changeling. Body Parts simply puts Quark through his version of this arc.

Body Parts is essentially a story about how Quark is no longer a proper Ferengi. He has been exposed to the values and ideals of the Federation, corrupted and changed through his time on Deep Space Nine. Although this winds up costing Quark a lot, the final scenes of Body Parts suggest that Quark has also benefited from his time on the station. Body Parts suggests that wandering out into the winder universe and exposing yourself to different cultures is inherently a good thing, even if it does generate tension.

Bearing the Brunt of his wrath...

Bearing the Brunt of his wrath…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Sons of Mogh (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

Moving Worf over from Star Trek: The Next Generation to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine could be seen as a cynical move.

In fact, it was a bit of a cynical move, a rare example of executive meddling in the basic plot of Deep Space Nine. Although there is some disagreement as to precisely how much give and take was involved in the decision-making process by the production team and the studio, it was clear that the writing staff had not originally envisaged Worf joining the show and that the addition of Michael Dorn to the show’s cast was an attempt to shore up the show’s ratings and profile. These are the realities of network television production.

As the world Kurns...

As the world Kurns…

At the same time, moving Worf over to Deep Space Nine from The Next Generation afforded the production team unique opportunities and storytelling possibilities. With Star Trek: Voyager unfolding in the distant Delta Quadrant, Deep Space Nine had been largely free to reinvent and rework the franchise’s status quo for its own purpose. Deep Space Nine was allowed to play with toys that would have been off limits while The Next Generation was on the air; war with the Klingons, Federation civil war, Dominion invasion.

However, actually transitioning a character from The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine allowed the production team even more freedom and even greater contrast. Although very clearly the same character, Worf changes between The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. There is a sense that Deep Space Nine is a lot more willing to carry certain aspects of the character to their logical conclusion, in a way that was simply not feasible on The Next Generation. This is clear in Sons of Mogh, when Worf attempts to murder his own brother.

Flirty!

Flirty!

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Star Trek – The Apple (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

It’s amazing how iconic Star Trek could be, even when it was terrible. There’s something quite ironic about how much of the franchise’s truly memorable iconography is rooted in some of the show’s weakest episodes. The Apple is one of the most iconic and memorable Star Trek episodes, featuring a giant evil dragon head sculpture, David Soul in orange body paint, lots of speechifying from Kirk, and a strong atheistic message with Kirk casting himself as Satan in the Garden of Eden.

It is also just terrible.

"VAAAAAAAL!!!"

“VAAAAAAAL!!!”

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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #43-45 – The Return of the Serpent! (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the benefits of a franchise as old and as diverse as Star Trek is the opportunity it provides for introspection and reflection. Star Trek has existed for almost fifty years. In those fifty years, the franchise has been written by a lot of different people at a lot of different points in time. As such, it makes sense that viewpoints shift and core principles are questioned. One of the more intriguing aspects of watching Star Trek grow older is watching the franchise question some of its earlier decisions and opinions.

The Return of the Serpent plays very much as a criticism of The Apple, a three-issue storyline dedicated to exploring just how wrong Kirk was to impose his own attitudes and beliefs upon the people of Gamma Trianguli VI. In some ways it can be see as both a spiritual successor to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and a precursor to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Crossover, in that it is a story based significantly around critiquing a moral judgement made by James Tiberius Kirk and endorsed by the show.

Shocking twists!

Shocking twists!

The Return of the Serpent is an interesting story, because it consciously problematicises a story from the original Star Trek television show. It is essentially a story about how Kirk made a terrible decision that cost countless lives. This criticism is voiced more explicitly that the criticism of Kirk in The Wrath of Khan and half-a-decade before Crossover would make it to air. This is a very bold and brave tie-in from DC comics. It is hard to imagine a story like The Return of the Serpent being published during Richard Arnold’s tenure overseeing Star Trek tie-ins.

That said, Mike Carlin’s script is not without its own problems. For all that it challenges a decision that Kirk made during the original run of the series, the ending rather consciously avoids the implications of that decision. The Return of the Serpent seems to assume that Kirk can just reverse the damage he has caused by flicking a switch – by going back and repairing the original mistake. For all that The Return of the Serpent cleverly interrogates Kirk’s decisions and motivations, it is undermined by a rather clean and convenient resolution.

Into the belly of the beast...

Into the belly of the beast…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Family Business (Review)

This September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Family Business is surprisingly good, standing as one of the strongest Ferengi-centric episodes produced during the run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is largely down to how Family Business treats its central characters. While still broadly played as a farce, Family Business is rooted in character. Like House of Quark (and unlike Prophet Motive), the episode takes care to treat its characters with a great deal of respect.

This isn’t an episode constructed around stock comedy tropes and trying to get the audience to laugh at one-note caricatures. Instead, it’s an episode firmly built around exploring Quark as a character in his own right. Family Business makes the decision to treat Quark (and its other Ferengi characters) with respect, and it’s a decision that ultimately pays dividends.

Naked ambition...

Naked ambition…

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