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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – It’s Only a Paper Moon (Review)

It’s Only a Paper Moon is a fantastic illustration of a lot of things that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine does consistently well.

It is an episode that builds off events depicted in an earlier story, picking up with the character of Nog following the loss of his leg in The Siege of AR-558. In many ways, It’s Only a Paper Moon feels like a necessary part of that earlier adventure, dealing with the consequences of something truly horrific. It would have been cheap and crass to gloss over the enormity of what had happened to Nog. In The Siege of AR-558, the loss of Nog’s leg was a minor detail; one of many reminders of how war is hell. It’s Only a Paper Moon allows that story to play out in more depth.

“I’ll be seeing you…”

It’s Only a Paper Moon is also an episode that feels quite removed from what audiences expect from a Star Trek episode. The central story focuses on two supporting characters who exist outside the regular cast, trusting Nog and Vic Fontaine to carry a story on their own terms. It is a testament to how well-developed the world of Deep Space Nine has become, recalling the focus on Martok in Soldiers of the Empire or Once More Unto the Breach, Dukat in Indiscretion or Return to Grace and Garak in The Wire or Improbable Cause and The Die is Cast.

Unfolding primarily in a holographic recreation of sixties Las Vegas, It’s Only a Paper Moon is a very surreal and unusual episode of Deep Space Nine. However, it works perfectly in the context of Deep Space Nine.

A hard day’s Nog.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Little Green Men (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.

Little Green Men might just be the best Ferengi episode from the seven-year run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

It helps that the episode is very clearly a passion project for writers Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe. More than any other Star Trek show, Deep Space Nine had a deep and abiding affection for classic cinema. Michael Piller might have tried to steer the first two seasons of Star Trek: Voyager back to classic western storytelling tropes, while Rick Berman and Brannon Braga might have promised that Star Trek: Enterprise would be a “back to basics” reimagining of the show, but Deep Space Nine was a show that adored old-school Hollywood.

Quark's Family Vacation...

Quark’s Family Vacation…

This was reflected in a number of ways. In Past Tense, Part II, B.C. planned to escape to Tasmania because Errol Flynn was born there. There was also the fact that Ira Steven Behr could never resist the lure of a good homage to classic cinema – even when it was not the best of ideas. Meridian was written as an attempt to adapt Brigadoon to the Star Trek universe; Fascination was based on the 1935 adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s DreamRules of Acquisition was basically YentlProfit and Loss was Casablanca.

It seemed almost inevitable that at some stage the cast and crew of Deep Space Nine would find themselves colliding with classic Hollywood.

"Well, it's not a saucer..."

“Well, it’s not a saucer…”

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Heart of Stone (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.

Heart of Stone feels quite similar to Life Support. Once again, there’s a main plot that doesn’t involve Kira quite as much as it should. Once again, this is supplemented by a subplot involving Quark’s mischievous nephew, Nog. And yet – while still flawed in a number of ways – Heart of Stone works a lot better than Life Support did, primarily because it’s a lot more thoughtfully constructed. The lack of focus on Kira is explained as part of the plot; Nog isn’t holding down an unfunny comedy subplot, he’s getting some nice character development.

Heart of Stone is occasionally a little heavy-handed in its character beats, but it works well because it pitches its plot at the right level, focusing on the characters at the heart of these stories.

A rock and a hard place...

A rock and a hard place…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Malibu Comics) – The Rules of Diplomacy (Review/Retrospective)

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.

One of the more interesting aspects of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the way that the cast actively involved themselves in the mythology of the show. Armin Shimerman originally pitched The 34th Rule as an episode of the show, along with Eric A. Sitwell and David R. George III. Andrew Robinson published A Stitch in Time, a novel based on notes he had been making about Garak during the production of the series. Even J.G. Hertzler co-wrote the Left Hand of Destiny duology.

Of course, this was not a unique occurrence. Walter Koenig had written an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, an issue of Marvel’s on-going Star Trek comic and even The Machiavellian Principle, a play performed at the Ultimate Fantasy convention. John DeLancie had co-written The Gift, a story published in DC’s Star Trek: The Next Generation comics. Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo would lend their names to tie-in Star Trek: Voyager books.

However, it seems reasonable to observe that the supporting cast on Deep Space Nine were particularly interested in fleshing out and developing their characters. So it seems appropriate that Aron Eisenberg should co-write The Rules of Diplomacy, a special about Nog earning some credits before shipping off to Starfleet Academy.

You can't go home again...

You can’t go home again…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Prophecy & Change: The Orb of Opportunity by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels (Review/Retrospective)

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.

It is fun to imagine the negative space that exists between various episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In its third season, the show was making nods towards serialisation, but there was never really a point where the series could not be broken down into reasonably well-defined episodic units. Even during the ten-hour series finalé, each of the constituent elements had its own narrative thrust and its own clear purpose. So it is fun sometimes to try to connect these threads together.

The ordering of episodes in a season of television is very interesting. It creates a fascinating connective tissue in the minds of fans. Although each episode is its own story, they come together to form something larger and more intriguing. On The X-Files, for example, placing Never Again directly after Leonard Betts changed the whole context of the episode. There are threads that do not necessarily exist within the individual episodes, but can be implied by the sequencing of the shows.

Placing Heart of Stone directly after Life Support is an interesting choice in several respects. It creates all sorts of interesting implications and developments, contradictions and possibilities. It is weird to have an episode about Odo’s attraction to Kira air directly after an episode focusing on the death of Kira’s long-term love interest; give her a week or two of space, guys. Similarly, it is strange to go from Nog’s characterisation in Life Support to his development in Heart of Stone.

The Orb of Opportunity is very clearly intended to bridge the gap between those two episodes, explaining how and why Nog developed in the way that he did.


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