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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Behind the Lines (Review)

Behind the Lines is an exemplary demonstration of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s embrace of serialisation.

More than any other episode in the opening arc of the sixth season, Behind the Lines is an episode that exists in relation to the other episodes around it more than a self-contained unit of narrative. A Time to Stand set the tone for the final two seasons of the show, but its also featured a daring raid on a Dominion facility. Rocks and Shoals was about a ground conflict between Sisko and a Jem’Hadar platoon. Sons and Daughters was about Worf’s long-neglected relationship to Alexander. Favour the Bold and Sacrifice of Angels are an ambitious two-part finale.

Meldmerising...

Meldmerising…

In contrast, Behind the Lines is very much about taking what has already been established and streamlining it in preparation for the bombastic conclusion to this story. Behind the Lines is the episode in which Kira uses her “new resistance” formed in Rocks and Shoals to actually do something, in which Damar finally figures out how to dismantle the minefield that went up in Call to Arms, and in which Odo betrays his friends and colleagues in pursuit of his own gratification. More than any of the episodes around it, Behind the Lines cannot really stand in isolation.

However, it is also a stunningly brilliant piece of storytelling and a reminder of just how skilfully the writing staff on Deep Space Nine had adapted to the demands of serialisation.

Terror cell.

Terror cell.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Through the Looking Glass (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.

It’s very tempting to write off the problems with the mirror universe episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as diminishing returns – the idea that repeated exposure to what was once novel robs that item of its novelty. It is possible to become immune to the charms of camp, dulled to absurd space opera, and just worn out by watching the cast play “space pirates meet Star Wars.”

However, this does a bit of a disservice to the mirror universe as a concept. As iconic as it has become, Mirror, Mirror worked very well as a piece of introspection for the original Star Trek. Crossover stands out as one of the strongest episodes in the first two years of Deep Space Nine, because it manages to capture the thoughtful-yet-campy self-criticism of Mirror, Mirror.

Let's face it, after what O'Brien's been through, nobody would be surprised if he snapped...

Let’s face it, after what O’Brien’s been through, nobody would be surprised if he snapped…

In contrast, Through the Looking Glass marks the point at which the mirror universe really ceases to be a clever concept, and becomes something that is simply kept around because it’s old and because the production team like the idea of playing “roguish rebels and evil empires” in a way that’s impossible in the mainstream Star Trek universe.

While the episode does have an interesting central premise and is nowhere near as weak as some of the mirror universe episodes ahead, Through the Looking Glass is the moment where the mirror universe seems to get away from Deep Space Nine.

They really nailed Rom to the wall...

They really nailed Rom to the wall…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Civil Defense (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.

Civil Defense is an episode that really worked a lot better than it should have. The third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine hit a bit of a stumbling block in the early part of the third season. Indeed, Second Skin had been shot from what was pretty much Robert Hewitt Wolfe’s first draft of a teleplay. The Abandoned felt like a good premise pushed in front of the camera too early. Civil Defense was similarly rushed into production, with very little turn around from the production staff.

However, despite these production concerns, Civil Defense turns out to be an enjoyable pulpy adventure. The production team wouldn’t royally screw up until the next episode. The biggest problem with the script is that it feels like we’re seeing it far too late in the show’s run. Civil Defense is a fun third season episode, but it would have been a spectacular first season adventure.

"Free dissident suppression system with every purchase over twelve bars!"

“Free dissident suppression system with every purchase over twelve bars!”

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