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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Meridian (Review)

The 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.

Meridian is, to be frank, an absolutely abominable episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. As a series, Deep Space Nine never really had a concentrated run of bad episodes, like the first and second seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation or the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise or the third season of the original Star Trek. The first two seasons of Deep Space Nine might not be spectacular, but they are competently produced television – while there are a few scattered stinkers to be found, the bulk of the show comprises of mediocre and solid stories.

Instead, Deep Space Nine tended to pepper its weakest episodes throughout its run, perhaps a firm reminder that the show was never an entirely serialised experience. This wasn’t one story pushing forward, despite the presence of arcs and character development; Deep Space Nine was still prone to the pratfalls of episodic television. In this case, the pratfall was the necessity of churning out filler on a tight schedule and hoping to meet a deadline while pumping out two dozen episodes a year.

So we get unforgivably shoddy episodes like The Emperor’s New Cloak or Profit and Loss or Let He Who Is Without Sin mixed in with Deep Space Nine at the height of its form. The third season of Deep Space Nine lacks the highs of the later seasons, but that doesn’t mean it lacks the lows. Meridian stands out as the weakest episode of the season, and a serious competitor for one of the worst episodes of the show.

It appears that the toxic smell of the script is suffocating Terry Farrell...

It appears that the toxic smell of the script is suffocating Terry Farrell…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Equilibrium (Review)

The 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.

Equilibrium is another troubled Dax episode. Dax is probably the hardest character on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine cast to write for, if only because of the character’s central premise. “Well-adjusted functionally immortal alien slug inside a young woman’s body” is a nice character description, but it’s hard to ground a character-driven story in that. It’s tempting just to turn the Dax symbiote into a convenient macguffin that can drive various plots.

To date, Playing God is really the only Dax-centred episode of Deep Space Nine that has placed the emphasis on Jadzia rather than the slug inside here. (Although Blood Oath did at least try to deal with how a current Trill host deals with obligations incurred by past lives.) In Dax, the symbiote was a gateway to a pretty conventional and generic murder mystery story. In Invasive Procedures, the symbiote was something particularly valuable to be stolen and exploited.

The biggest problem with Equilibrium is that – like Dax and Invasive Procedures before it – the episode uses the Dax symbiote as a springboard to a story that is more driven by Sisko and Bashir than it is by Jadzia Dax. While Equilibrium does have a great hook and some biting social commentary, Dax feels more like a plot point than a character in her own right.

Shocking behaviour...

Shocking behaviour…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Playing God (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.

Playing God is – structurally – quite similar to Shadowplay. The episode follows the same basic format. We have three plots running concurrently. One of these plots is a science-fiction plot while the other two are centred around character development. What’s interesting about Playing God is that the script essentially changes the priority of these plot threads. In Shadowplay, the central plot concerned the science-fiction mystery in the Gamma Quadrant, while here the ethical quandary is pushed firmly to the background. (Much to the chagrin of writer Jim Trombetta.)

Instead, Playing God brings the character plotline to the front, giving us the first Dax-centric episode firmly based around Jadzia rather than the symbiote inside of her.

Quark smells a rat... er... I mean vole...

Quark smells a rat… er… I mean vole…

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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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