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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Second Sight (Review)

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

You know, this the first real Sisko-heavy episode we’ve had since Emissary. He’s the lead, so he’s never too far from the heart of the story, and episodes like Dramatis Personae and Invasive Procedures gave Avery Brooks an opportunity to demonstrate his acting chops (and ability to be just as bad-ass, albeit in a different way, as Kirk and Picard). However, Sisko never really dominates or towers over Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the same way that Kirk and Picard seemed to anchor their shows. Deep Space Nine is closer to an ensemble show than any other Star Trek series, and characters like Odo and Kira (and even Quark) have received as much (if not more) definition than Sisko, despite the fact he is the lead.

That’s not a bad thing. Over the run of the series, Deep Space Nine would produce a number of classic hours of television centred around Sisko as a character. The Visitor, Far Beyond the Stars, and In the Pale Moonlight are all hours that lean heavily on Brooks and can all be counted among the very best episodes of Star Trek ever produced.

Second Sight, on the other hand, is not.

Burning passion...

Burning passion…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Terok Nor #0 (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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Terok Nor might be the best of Malibu Comics’ Star Trek: Deep Space Nine range, a one-shot written by Mark A. Altman and illustrated by Trevor Goring. It isn’t so much the plot that makes Terok Nor so distinctive – there is a lot of running around, some betrayals, some action sequences – but rather the execution of Altman’s story and the atmosphere provided by Goring’s pencils. The origin story of the space station Terok Nor, Altman very shrewdly frames the story as something of an oral history. It’s almost mythic and grand and epic, drawn in broad strokes rather than finer detail.

It serves quite well as the story of the construction of the central hub of the Star Trek show most concerned with legacy and history.

A monument to the Bajoran people...

A monument to the Bajoran people…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Rules of Acquisition (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.

The Nagus was a surprising high-point of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It represented a conscious effort to rehabilitate and reappraise the Ferengi, the aliens introduced as potentially major adversaries in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, only to wind up as mostly unfunny comic relief. The Nagus dared to suggest that the Ferengi might not be the monsters the Federation considers them to be, suggesting that their culture – while different – was no less worthy of respect or consideration than that of the Klingons.

Rules of Acquisition is a clear follow-up, right down to the way that it includes Grand Nagus Zek. However, it’s nowhere near as charming and successful as The Nagus, because it feels like it’s just treading water. It teases potential developments down the line, but the story seems locked in a familiar holding pattern – right down to the rather convenient ending that inevitably sees Quark snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s not quite a bad episode, certainly not on the scale of the colossal misfire that was Melora, but it’s also not a particularly good one.

Nothing to see here...

Nothing to see here…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Melora (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.

It’s hard to believe, based on what we’ve witnessed so far, but one day viewers will be able to think “oh, a Bashir episode!” without an involuntary shudder. There will come a time when the writing staff figure out how to write a Bashir-centric episode. In fact, they’ll even revisit this central premise in the show’s final season, in a way that is much less creepy because at least it acknowledges the creepiness. However, we’re a long way from that.

It’s not that Bashir is a bad character. In fact, I’m very fond of him. I think that this version of the character works very well as part of an ensemble, or even teamed up with another major character to carry a story. However, I don’t think that the show has quite figured out how to tell a Bashir-centric story yet. Most notably because – like The Passenger before it – Melora isn’t really about Bashir. At least not in a way that isn’t creepy and disturbing and unnerving.

Instead, Bashir is mostly a vehicle for the guest character of the week, who lends the episode her name and serves as the focal point of some incredibly condescending and patronising writing which doesn’t make the optimistic future of Star Trek look particularly bright.

Floating in a most peculiar way...

Floating in a most peculiar way…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Invasive Procedures (Review)

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

Invasive Procedures is an interesting episode. It has a great high concept, some nice character beats, and offers an inside glimpse at an astonishingly interesting alien culture. Verad is a compelling guest character and Sisko gets to be pretty badass, continuing the presentation of the character as some weird composite of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard.

There are however, a number of very sizeable flaws. The most obvious being that – despite this is nominally a “Dax” story – Dax winds up feeling more like a plot point than a character in her own right.

Slugging it out...

Slugging it out…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Lives of Dax: Reflections (Jadzia) by L.A. Graf

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

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The Trill are an absolutely fascinating species, arguably much more so on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine than they were on Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were introduced in The Host as a race that was relatively straightforward – a bunch of symbionts living inside humanoid bodies. There was no indication that the host was anything but a blank slate for the organism inside to overwrite and control.

On Deep Space Nine, they became much more complex. The show’s first Trill-centric episode, Dax, pondered if it was possible to divorce the actions of the host from those of the symbiont, or vice versa. Though the episode in question wimped on giving a definitive answer one way or the other, the implication is that each Trill is a fusion of host and symbiont, rather than one dominating the other. Because of that, it seemed like the show always had trouble defining Jadzia (the character on the show) relative to Dax (the sum of lifetimes of experience).

As such, it’s hard not to pity veteran writers Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone (writing as “L.A. Graf”) for drawing the short straw and winding up writing the story from the anthology The Lives of Dax focusing on Jadzia.

ds9-thelivesofdax1

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – If Wishes Were Horses… (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.

And after Progress gives us the most Deep-Space-Nine-y” episode yet, If Wishes Were Horses… offers the most generic Star Trek episode this side of The Passenger. The plot here should be very familiar. Like in Imaginary Friend or Shore Leave, the characters find their imaginations seem to be bringing things to life. Of course, it turns out to be an advanced alien intelligence that really just wants to study our crew, like in The Observer Effect or Scientific Method or even Schism. What I’m getting at here is that there’s really very little in this premise which hasn’t been done before or since on Star Trek, and nothing which wouldn’t feel more at home on Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager.

While it’s not as bad as The Passenger or Move Along Home, it is terribly generic and it feels like a waste of an episode in an already truncated season.

If wishes were emus...

If wishes were emus…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Progress (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.

Progress is the best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s first season to date. Of course, there are better episodes ahead – two of them clustered at the end of the show’s truncated first year – but Progress still represents a considerable improvement over anything that has come before. It isn’t quite perfect, but it does have a nice character focus and takes advantage of the show’s unique perspective and position. It’s evidence that the writing staff were at least engaging with the show’s status quo and trying to work with it to tell interesting stories, with Progress offering an early pure example of what Deep Space Nine story should probably look like.

While the first season has been quite bumpy (although notably less bumpy than any of the opening seasons of the other three Star Trek spin-offs), Progress offers a demonstration that we are getting somewhere. The title might apply as much to the status of the show itself as to the themes of the episode.

Burning down the house...

Burning down the house…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Dax (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.

Dax is a very weird episode. It is the first episode centred around Jadzia Dax, but it also demonstrates the problems that will affect Dax-centric episodes throughout Terry Farrell’s time on the show. Due to the nature of the character, the stories about Dax tend to treat her as a plot point or a macguffin rather than a character in and of herself. Here, for example, Dax finds herself on trial for the actions of her direct predecessor, Curzon Dax. It’s a fascinating moral and philosophical dilemma (can you hold somebody accountable for their actions in a past life?), but it’s a story about Dax that isn’t about the character as she currently exists. It’s fascinating and frustrating in equal measure, but at least it’s a sign that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is content to do more than merely imitate Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Touching...

Touching…

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