Season 2, Ep13: Armageddon Game

Synopsis: We open with a Bashir voiceover. Oh, boyHe and Irishy are on a T’lani (teh-LAN-ee) cruiser because two warring alien races we’ve never heard of want to get rid of their nukes, blah-blah-blah. The T’Lani and the Kelleruns have been fighting each other for centuries with something called “Harvesters,” which are deadly gene-disrupting weapons, but now they’re not fighting anymore and they want Irishy and Bashir to throw them into the sun like they’re Superman in The Quest for Peace.

On board the T’Lani ship, the T’Lani’s primary alien feature seems to be crazy mohawks, like they all saw a sorority girl in a corvette with the top down and went, “our hair should do THAT, like, all the time! Best idea ever!” We’re doing something sciencey with tubes of liquid, and Bashir is impatient that the Outer Space Nukes aren’t being deactivated more quickly, even though he’s only been working on deactivating them for a week. Bashir is waxing rhapsodic about what a difficult problem this is.

Look, two people who are clearly from two completely different races. It’s like looking at a cat standing next to a horse, I tell ya.

So, anyway, the Outer Space Nuke Tube has changed color now, so it worked and they’re deactivated. Irishy is pumped, because he knows when to accept victory and go home, Bashir looks like he needs a nap. Then the Head Kellerun Dude, distinguishable because he has different stupid hair, comes in and gives a speech about a bright new future free of war, and thanks Bashir and Irishy for their help. He’s very specific about them also destroying all the institutional knowledge about how the Harvesters are made and how they work, which seems like a solid plan that couldn’t possibly backfire at all. Irishy concurs that they’ve deleted all of the blueprints or whatever, and the Head Kellerun Dude gives this really melodramatic speech about not resting until all the Space Nukes are destroyed. Call me crazy, but I am about 120% sure he’s up to something, a suspicion that is bolstered by the extremely suspicious music we got goin’ on going into the opening credits. Continue reading

Season 2, Ep12: “The Alternate”

Synopsis: We begin in Quark’s, where he is trying to sell the remains of a Ferengi who revolutionized the holodeck industry (take-away line: “I am merely a businessman. It would take an orator with the skills of the late, great Plegg himself to sing the praises of the late, great Plegg.”)

The guy he’s pitching to seems reluctant, though, and when Odo spies what’s going on with his eagle eyes from across the promenade (seriously), he comes in to break it up. When the customer is effectively scared off – by both Odo’s presence and Quark’s price – Odo confides that he’s fascinated by “humanoid death rituals,” deadpanning that “everyone needs a hobby.” He seems really into the Ferengi practice of selling freeze-dried ashes, but it’s hard to tell if he’s being sarcastic or not.

Unexpectedly (at least for Quark), Odo produces some strips of gold-pressed latinum, wanting to buy the container of Plegg. When Quark hands it over, Odo wonders how to tell if it’s authentic (that is, really Plegg). Quark points out that the label says “Plegg” right on it, and that really should be enough for anyone, and then Odo reveals that this was all an elaborate cat-and-mouse by casually saying, “not if he’s still alive.”

Yes, it turns out that Quark has mistakenly bought a bunch of containers of ashes of some non-famous person – oh, the horror. Just as Odo is savoring his triumph, a gentleman in what I would describe as a torso kilt calls out Odo’s name like they’re old buddies. Actually, they have the same hair, so maybe they are old buddies.

Odo looks gobsmacked, and identifies the man as Dr. Mora. Dr. Mora, instead of saying hi, tells Odo it’s been too long since they’ve seen each other and says he’s “coming along nicely,” which, come to think of it, is pretty much the way my mom always greets me.

Odo wonders why Dr. Mora didn’t call first, and Dr. Mora claims it was a spur-of-the-moment roadtrip thing, and Odo seems to think Dr. Mora could have found a minute or two to text him on the five-hour trip from Bajor. Wow, I didn’t know Bajor was that far away. That’s about as far away as we live from Disney, and getting there requires us to exercise almost military travel precision, how are people going back and forth to Bajor multiple times a day? Do they at least have in-flight movies?

Quark offers Dr. Mora a drink, and as he scurries away, Dr. Mora begins to criticize Odo’s ear facsimiles, all like, “oh, you haven’t quite gotten them right yet, have you?” Quark comes back to breathlessly pry into who Dr. Mora is, and Dr. Mora says that he was the lead Bajoran scientist on Project Odo, and taught him everything he knows. Literally. Quark says Odo’s dad is always welcome in his bar, and Odo is all, “HE’S NOT MY DAD” and then Quark compounds the embarrassment by telling Odo’s Not-Dad how awesome Odo is doing on the station. Continue reading

DS9 Season 2, Ep11: “Rivals”

Synopsis: We open on what appears to be an elderly alien lady doing shots.

I love this show.

Apparently her husband is dead and she has shitloads of lefotover mad money just lying around. She’s talking to a young man who, I’m just gonna call it, is a gold digger. Although maybe I’m just prejudiced because he’s Prince Humperdink. The Elderly Alien wants to make an investment – presumably in a time-share.

Across the bar, Odo glowers, listening to the conversation with the super dog-ears he apparently has. It seems the Elderly Alien is going to engage in some prospecting-related insider trading (snore) and she’s telling Space Humperdink all about it because she’s so enthralled by his sexy bouncy ’80s hair. And also she’s drunk.

Prince Humperdink pulls some great acting, you can see the manipulation flit across his face as he suggests that they could enter into some sort of partnership, although he doesn’t play the displaced royalty card at all, which, Michael Caine could tell him, is a rookie mistake. At that point, Odo calmly moves in to take him off to the slammer. “We were just talking!” the woman protests, to which Odo responds, “you were talking, madam, he was listening.” I sort of love Odo’s devotion to customer service in this moment. He really needs some sort of cap he could doff at people on the promenade.

As they walk to jail, Odo and Prince Humperdink engage in some expository banter that reveals that Prince Humperdink is a flimflam man who gets people’s pin numbers and “helps” them invest all their money in his dummy companies, and Odo has been eyeballing him since he arrived on the station. He locks him up but good.

After credits, we see Irishy casually walking through the halls swinging a racquetball racquet. I guess he’s on his way to the gym, but I prefer to think this is something he just does, like those high-powered business executives who putt golf balls into cups in their offices (or so television has led me to believe).

When Irishy gets to the holodeck, he finds Bashir sitting on the floor in the completely ridiculous meditative warm-up position, and Irishy is clearly not happy to see him. He programmed the holodeck racquetball court himself, apparently, because he missed playing it so much that he’s having tryouts for a station racquetball league. He did not think Bashir would be the only person at tryouts, but Bashir bouncily assures him that he was the captain of the racquetball team at med school, and led them to the championship his last year. Of course. Of course.

Irishy is all, “oh, so it was like, a college championship?” and Bashir is all, “no, it was like, the championships of the whole galaxy,” and Irishy seems super intimidated, so I guess that tells us that they’re really going to over-correct in the FUTURE when they fix the NCAA (“EVERYBODY PLAY EVERYBODY!”). Continue reading

Season 2, Ep10: “Sanctuary”

Synopsis: We open with Kira in trouuuuuuuble because she still doesn’t have the duty rosters for next week done, despite promising Sisko they’d be on his desk this morning. Apparently she’s going through a lot of shit with some of the Bajoran Ministers about irrigation – Bajorans can yell at each other about agricultural issues for hours – which Sisko knows about because, unsurprisingly, Kira can’t keep her voice down. “I thought I was keeping it down to an angry whisper,” she tells Sisko abashedly.

She explains that Ministers are extremely frustrating with all their red tape and intrigue, and Sisko kindly tells her, guidance-councilor-style, that she can yell at them all she wants as long as she keeps doing her job on the station. She leaves his office with a renewed sense of purpose, only to hear from Irishy that Quark has been looking for her in regards to an urgent matter.

In the bar, everyone is enchanted by a very meta gentleman playing a variation of the show’s theme song on some sort of Space Woodwind. Rom is too engaged with the music to serve drinks, even ever-present alcoholic Morn is crying. Only Quark remains untransfixed, pacing angrily around the bar. When Kira comes in, Quark complains that the Space Woodwind player, who just started his gig yesterday, is driving down drink, food, and gambling profits, which Quark knows because he monitors his income on an hourly basis. It sounds like I’m making that up, but I’m not.

Kira tells Quark to get ahold of himself, because soon people will hear about this guy’s amazing woodwinding and will be coming from miles around to hear him. Quark cynically asks if this is her “Bajoran intuition” at work, and I have to say I share his skepticism. I’m pretty sure Kenny G. is the exception, and not the rule, when it comes to packed houses for solo clairinet acts.

It turns out that Quark agreed to try the Woodwinder out for a month at Kira’s urging, which is why he blames her for his unprecedented drop in profits. He wonders if the Woodwinder could play something with a little more “bounce” to it, so I guess Quark really doesn’t know anything about Kenny G.

Kira goes over to talk to the Woodwinder, who speaks like he’s Laurence Olivier, and apparently he’s some famous displaced Bajoran concert performer or something, and Kira  politely asks him if he could be, as he puts it, “a little less exhibition hall and a little more music hall.” He agrees, and asks Kira if she’s talked to any of the Ministers about his brilliant idea to rebuild this one concert hall, because apparently her getting him this job is not enough of a favor.

He starts lecturing her about how important it is for Bajorans to reclaim their artistic heritage – dude, chill, she’s under enough pressure trying to keep your whiny-ass planet fed. Kira says she can’t promise anything, and he looks at her all judgily. God, what a dick.

Kira returns to Ops and expresses her desire to throw Quark out of an airlock and see how far he flies, when Irishy announces that a ship is coming through the wormhole. The ship is in distress, with overheating whosiwhatsists and barely functioning life support, so Sisko orders them beamed over. They are, and when they get there they are pretty clearly escapees from some sort of Space Polygamous Cult Compound.

They’ve probably been flying around space for years looking for Kolob. BOOM, American Religious History majors put ya hands up!

Continue reading

DS9 Season 2, Ep9: “Second Sight”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over in which he laments that it’s been four years today since his angelic wife got blown up to death, and he almost let the day pass without even noticing. He’s up in the middle of the night staring at his 3D chessboard when Jake stumbles out of his room, bleary-eyed and wearing what I presume to be footie pajamas.

Jake can’t get back to sleep after a weird dream, and Sisko eagerly encourages him to talk about it over a mug of hot chocolate. Jake eschews the drink, but Sisko coaxes him to reveal his dream. Turns out Jake dreamed he was on the station, trying to get home to their quarters, but he kept getting lost, and when he got scared and tried to find Sisko he couldn’t find him anywhere, and also the floor kept sloping and making him fall on his ass.

He tells his dad that he loves him, and then brusquely says that he has to get to bed before his calc test tomorrow. As he leaves, he simply says, “Dad, I miss her,” and Sisko says that he does too, and then he returns to sleeplessly pondering his chess set. But I guess that doesn’t keep him occupied for long, because soon he’s out roaming the promenade. I really hope Jake doesn’t wake up again, it has to be alarming to have a dream about not being able to find your dad and then wake up to him not being where he’s supposed to be.

Anyway, Sisko is looking aimlessly out one of the observation windows when a small woman who looks like a pixie sneaks up on him out of nowhere and HOLY SHIT IT IS YOUNG ALLISON BLAKE FROM EUREKA. More precisely it is Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who plays the character of Allison Blake on Eureka, but this is weird because I was just saying the other day that Sisko and Allison Blake would be an amazing couple. Maybe I just like the idea of Jake and Kevin trying to share a room.

Anyway, Sisko and Space Allison Blake talk about constellations, including one the Bajorans call “the runners,” and she says something about “how good it feels to run,” which I can guarantee you would sound pretty much anti-sexy if I said it, but when she says it sounds quite alluring. She engages Sisko in talk about his job, saying that it must be super exciting to have so much going on all the time. Sisko says he prefers quiet moments like these.

They chat for a while longer, and then she goes all mysterious and says, “I like it here, I wish I could stay longer,” and Sisko is all, “where are you going?” and she goes, “I’m not really sure. I guess I’ll just keep going, like the runners,” and all I can think about is Kristen Whiig sexily breathing “red flag.”

Sisko offers to show her around the station, and when he makes the mistake of looking away for a moment, she disappears. Literally. Into thin air. That’s a major red flag. Continue reading

DS9 Season 2, Ep8: “Necessary Evil”

Synopsis: We open on what appears to be the set of Love Across Lightyears, a space soap opera I have previously hypothesized exists. There’s a blonde lady wearing this fancy white dress/pantsuit and earrings that look like she bought them at Disney’s Tomorrowland. She’s in a room lit only by candlelight, and looking out a giant window at what is possibly the fakest thunderstorm I have ever seen or heard on television, and she turns to a companion sitting on the other side of the room to say, “I didn’t kill him, you know. A lot of people thought I did. That shape-shifter thought so. But he was wrong.”

I guess we’re not on Love Across Lightyears after all, because the camera cuts to reveal that she’s talking to Quark, who says that whatever she was talking about was a “long time ago.” The Soap Opera Lady, who is Bajoran, flounces over to sit with him and charmingly says that at least the Cardassians kept the power on. But did the trains run on time? I think we’re all dying to know.

She offers to freshen up Quark’s drink, and says that he was always kind to her, giving Quark the opportunity to exposit that he ran a black market during the occupation, and never really saw himself as kind. She protests that he always slipped a little extra ginger tea into her packages, and Quark is all, “get to the damn point already,” or maybe that was me. Anyway, she explains that she called him to Bajor to ask for a favor: apparently her husband used to have a shop on the station (back when it was Cardassian and called Terok Nor), and he kept a strongbox hidden in the wall. She wants Quark to retrieve it for her, and she’ll pay him handsomely for returning the box full of “sentimental valuables.”

Quark asks why she doesn’t get it her own damn self, and she says that she can’t bear to be back in the shop where her husband was murdered. Quark suspects that she doesn’t want to run into Odo, and she smiles a mysterious little smile and tells him which wall panel the strongbox is hidden behind. She says she can pay him five bars of gold-pressed latinum, plus her “personal gratitude.” I was pretty sure that meant sex, and then Quark confirmed it for me by creepily stroking his ear. God, ew. Continue reading

Season 2, Ep7: “Rules of Acquisition”

Synopsis: We open on Odo doing what I presume to be his usual late-night hobo-check on the promenade. He finds Morn, everybody’s favorite Space Barfly, sleeping on a bench, and gently shakes him awake to send him home. Morn must still be a little disoriented about what time of day it is, though, because he staggers over to the bar just to make sure it hasn’t magically opened again. But, no such luck, the doors fail to open automatically for him, and he stares mournfully inside at the group of Ferengi engaging in some friendly after-hours cutthroat gambling.

I sort of assume that all games played by Ferengi are cutthroat, like, I wouldn’t want to play  Monopoly with these guys. Or would I? Ferengi do seem like the only group of people who could make Monopoly legitimately interesting.

The game they’re playing now seems extremely complicated, featuring dice, a spinning pot of money, and cards (which are round because we’re in SPACE). The Ferengi are playing with absolute concentration and coordination, moving like a cors d’ballet and communicating only in grunts. Suddenly, the spinning apparatus stops, and the Ferengi all look over at the offender who is taking too much time to strategize: Jadzia.

Quark leans over to helpfully remind her that it’s her turn, and she tersely responds that she could think better without his hand on her thigh. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it: Quark would be an amazing guest star on Mad Men. He could accidentally get himself transported back in time, get stuck there, and tell everyone that he was horribly deformed by some sort of depression-era farming accident, perhaps blackmailing Don and taking on the identity of Dick Whitman, thus ensuring his spot at the ad agency. I’ve given this a lot of thought, but Matthew Weiner refuses to answer any of my letters. Continue reading

DS9 Season 2, Ep5: “Cardassians”

Synopsis: This episode re-introduces one of our favorite characters from season 1, Garak, Cardassian Tailor/possible spy and Dr. Bashir’s best lunch buddy, who will thankfully begin getting his due as an amazing character this season. Are you ready for Garak, internet? I don’t think you are.

We open with Bashir in the station’s Holiday Inn Express Breakfast Buffet, where he suddenly notices Garak at a nearby table and makes a face all like, “oh, right! My friend no one’s seen in a year despite the fact that we both live on the same space station!”

He goes over to say hi and plays detective by correctly guessing what Garak’s drinking. I would suggest he parlay this skill into some sort of interstellar-neo-vaudeville act, but when Garak asks how he knew, he responds, “the odor is unmistakable,” in a way that is frankly really creepy and I do not think that would get him a lot of tips.

Pictured: losing the standard 15-20% gratuity for drink-guessing

But Garak says his gross drink soothes his nerves, and today he had a particularly rough morning at his shop (tailory?) because there’s this one Bajoran engineer who keeps coming in with the sole purpose of ruining his life, which sounds hyperbolic unless you’ve ever worked in a customer service industry.

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DS9 Season 2, Ep4: “Invasive Procedures”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over explaining that they had to evacuate the station again because of violent plasma discharges in space, forcing them to keep things going with a skeleton crew. It must have seriously been a pain in the ass to evacuate everybody when they just got them back from being evacuated last week. Let’s hope Jake and Nog got to go to the same place this time.

In Ops, hell freezes over as Kira tells Sisko that she has to commend the Cardassians on their station design, as the plasma discharges aren’t effecting them very much. Jadzia says she has some escape vehicles ready to go just in case. Irishy and Odo are elsewhere on the station securing the airlocks when they find Quark sitting in the docking ring, apparently meditating. Odo is exasperated, because Quark is only still on the station because he refused to evacuate without his vast supply of latinum, and he was supposed to be confined to the bar.

Quark says that he’s here because he was saying goodbye to Rom, and Odo points out that Rom’s shuttle left three hours ago, and he somehow doubts that Quark was sitting out here pining away for his idiot brother. Quark protests that brothers have a very special relationship, asking Irishy if he has any brothers that he ever had to say goodbye to. Apparently Irishy has two, and he had to bid them so long when he joined Starfleet. Quark is all, “and didn’t that make you CRY and CRY?” and Irishy is all, “I guess?” and Quark is all, “I rest my case,” and they all leave the docking ring sighing at each other. As the door to the docking ring shuts, the camera zooms in on a mysterious blinking something that is almost definitely the real reason Quark was in there.

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Analysis of “The Homecoming,” “The Circle,” and “The Siege”

Meredith’s Analysis: This is DS9’s three-parter, and it’s a great out-of-the gate opening for the second season. We get the most important development on Bajor yet – it really is like the wild west, full of competing factions and corruption, everyone scrambling for power in the vacuum left by Kai Opaka last season. These are the first episodes that raise, for me, a question that is ongoing throughout the series: maybe Bajor is in such disarray because everyone there spends so much time scheming and having intrigue rather than actually, you know, running Bajor? Like, when was the last time anyone on that planet filed any paperwork?

They are also the first episodes that actually show us the chaos on Bajor and make it feel real. In the first season, all of the Bajoran “unrest” consisted of groups of Bajorans on the station shuffling around and yelling, and it was kind of hard to imagine that there was a whole planet of people with an actual society experiencing actual unrest. In these episodes, the danger seems very real, and we spend the most time we’ve ever spent on Bajor. We also get some good development on the Bajoran ministers, who play an important role in the political intrigue of Bajor.

These episodes also do a great job of further developing characters (Jadzia’s weird girliness aside). Sisko is way more badass than he ever was in season 1, and you can tell Avery Brooks has found and committed to the character. Kira is much more nuanced than she’s ever been (“Duet” excepted), and the hilarious little character flourish of Irishy loving army rations is great.

I think the only real weakness here is Li Nalas, who ultimately serves his function (dying nobly and being a martyr), but who never really lives up to the hype that the rest of the characters build around him. I guess that’s sort of a point in and of itself, since he was always supposed to be a man who stumbled into legend status by accident.

Tim’s Analysis: Kai Opaka’s departure may have left a power vacuum on Bajor, but it’s not as though she was filling the space very well herself. In these episodes we learn that the power structures of Bajor are anything but settled following the departure of the Cardassians. Some hints were previously dropped along these lines and let’s face it, it’s no surprise. Bajor was under Cardassian occupation for 50 years. Functional government is not exactly something that crops up overnight. Characters talk about “unrest”, but this episode shows us that Bajor is a beehive full of civil war. Remember that Bajor has to be peaceful for a while before they can join the Federation. They’re not exactly working on that very diligently.

These episodes have some really fun parts, but my favorite is absolutely the scene in Kira’s quarters where everyone shows up at once. Intended as an homage to A Night at the Opera, it was actually filmed as one uninterrupted take, but was later broken up in editing. The timing is flawless and it’s a very light moment in an otherwise very serious story arc.

The arc itself really shows off what DS9 can do. TOS and TNG both never show us any follow up. The Enterprises get into some shenanigans, win the day and zip off on another adventure while some admiral assures the captain that it’ll be sorted out thanks to him. In this case, Sisko is told that it’ll be sorted out and that he should leave and he chooses not to.

I disagree with Meredith that Li Nalas is weak. I think he’s actually great. He represents the regular Joes on Bajor that are being jerked around by the political machinery. His legend is used to further a political agenda and in the end, he sticks around to help take it back, even without a real obligation to do so, and ends up dying bravely, only cementing the legend or confirming that he was that hero all along, maybe just not quite in the same way.

Overall, this arc is good, but it starts to drag in the middle. It probably could have been squeezed into 2 episodes if they had tried.