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!

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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.

DS9 Season 2, Ep3: “The Siege”

Previously on Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek: Kira rescued a Bajoan resistance leader named Li Nalas from a secret Cardassian labor camp using only her own sexiness as a weapon (and also a phaser), only to have Bajoran Minister “Richard Nixon” Jaro give Li Nalas her job when they got back. Then she was kidnapped by militant Bajoran terrorists/graffiti artists The Circle, where she learned that Minister Richard Nixon was running The Circle in order to advance his own political power. Odo learned that The Circle was being secretly supplied by the Cardassians in the hopes that they’d run off the Federation, which turned out to be a solid plan considering that a Starfleet Admiral explicitly ordered Sisko to evacuate, an order which he blew off almost completely. Meanwhile, though our heroes don’t know it yet, Minister Richard Nixon has a pact with the ever-charming Vedek Winn where he’ll make her the new Kai in exchange for her support.

Synopsis: We open about two hours after the closing of the last episode, where Sisko is in Ops discussing the planned evacuation with both main characters and extras. He says that it may be easy for the Federation to order an evacuation, but for them, the people actually there, it’s a lot harder: for example, one extra is engaged to a Bajoran dude, and another has tutored some Bajoran kids in science, and all of them have Bajoran buddies. Sisko says that everyone there has come to care about the Bajoran people, and so has he, and that is why he is not leaving the station.

The whole crowd is all, “rabble rabble rabble,” and Sisko is all, “just to oversee the evacuation of the station, for serious, guys,” and Irishy jumps in saying he needs to stay to do inventory control, and Bashir notes that packing up his medical stuff could take forever. Sisko looks around the room with a barely-concealed smile and warns everybody that they shouldn’t volunteer too quickly: he says they’ll try to delay the station takeover for as long as they can, hopefully until the Cardassians are exposed as the real force behind the unrest, and that’s going to be really hard because Bajor at large is getting the message that the Federation is a terrible enemy.

I kind of love how fast this conversation transitioned from coded to brazen, and I wonder if any of the extras are confused by it (“wait a minute, I thought I was only going to stay to help you guys bubble-wrap the glassware! What’s all this ‘hold off a takeover’ nonsense?”).

Sisko continues, saying that Minister Richard Nixon and the Circle would love to kill all of them, and he wouldn’t blame anyone for leaving while still in one piece, and that anyone who wants to evacuate now is dismissed.

Not one person leaves. Possibly because Irishy is staring them down like he he would love nothing better than to chase down and tackle anyone who tries it.

Sisko says that non-Bajorans aren’t safe on the station anymore, so everybody’s non-Starfleet personnel families will have to be evacuated, and the pro-Federation Bajorans would probably do well to do the same. He closes by reminding everyone that the assault vessels will be to the station in less than five hours.

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DS9 Season 1 Ep15: “Progress”

Synopsis: We open on Jake and Nog playing cards in Quark’s, where Quark is ranting to Rom about yamok sauce, a Cardassian delicacy. Apparently Rom ordered a lot of it, and it’s an acquired taste to the degree that only Cardassians will eat it (mmmmm…tastes like genocide). This argument is distracting Nog, especially when Quark says he’s going to deduct half of Rom’s paycheck every week for the next six years to pay for the losses. I thought that Nog was sad that his dad was getting yelled at, but apparently something entirely different was going on in his little hamster wheel brain: he tells Jake that that’s a shitload of yamok sauce, and they could maybe get four or five bars of gold-pressed latinum out of it. Jake, naturally, runs off to help him in this latest venture which I’m sure will be totally successful and in no way hilariously bumbled.

In the grownup world, Sisko voices over that Bajor is about to make its first large-scale energy transfer, whatever that means, and the Federation is going to help. Apparently they’re going to tap the molten core of one of Bajor’s moons, and the energy from that is going to heat a couple hundred thousand Bajoran homes for Christmas. How did they decide who gets free heat? Is there some sort of Bajoran poverty line you can be below? Was their planet so devastated by the occupation that that couple hundred thousand people are the only ones under that line on the whole planet?

Anyway, the Bajoran Bureaucrat they’ve got in Ops is all nervous about it going well, and Kira and Sisko assure him several times that everybody here’s a professional. Then Kira has to jet off to the moon with Jadzia to inspect it.

On the runabout, Jadzia confides in Kira that barfly Morn asked her out to dinner, and she said no, but she thinks he’s cute anyway. Kira makes a face like she’s going to vomit, but before she can, they detect life on the surface of the moon (from which I think everybody was supposed to have evacuated by now) and she has to beam down there to see what’s up.

She gets down there and it’s all old-timey water pumps and flowers and shit, and the underscoring even goes all idyllic for a minute to make sure we feel like she’s just beamed into Amish country. But oh, no, suddenly two old people are menacing her with…hoes? They’re some sort of farm implements, I guess? But both they and the old people look about as scary as – well, as old people holding gardening tools, that is to say, not at all. I’m not sure why Kira looks so troubled, she could take ‘em. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep14: “The Storyteller”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over explaining that he’s handling a mediation for the Bajoran government between two rival factions, the “Paqu” (pah-COO) and the “Navot” (Naah-VAHT), who are having a land dispute that could, because it’s Bajor, easily spark a civil war. Bajor would have a civil war about what time they should all have breakfast if so many of their people weren’t starving, at least they’re asking Sisko for input this time, I guess.

In Ops, Sisko multi-tasks: preparing to welcome the Paqu, asking when the Navot are due to arrive, pacing purposefully about, etc. When Irishy slides into his orbit to ask him about something, he brusquely demands to know why Irishy isn’t on Bajor yet. Um, because you just said all the Bajorans were coming here? Maybe this is all a clever diplomatic ruse: after the disputants are on the station, it’s Irishy’s job to run down to the planet and move the property lines around, and Sisko can just be all, “Hmm, you must have misread this. Oh, well, no civil war today!”

Actually, it seems like the mission in question just “chauffeur duty”, and Irishy asks if some Ensign could take his place, since it’s such mind-numbing work. Sisko is all, “I’m sorry, is there some reason you can’t do this thing I have asked you to do?” and Irishy carefully says no, but that something could come up any minute, you never know.

Just then, Bashir comes into Ops with a ridiculous little backpack that I think is supposed to hold his medical tricorder, but which I’m going to assume actually contains trailmix and a stuffed bunny – because he, of course, is what Irishy is supposed to be chauffeuring.

He’s super excited, as always, and is all, “ARE YOU READY TO GO, CHIEF? ARE YOU READY TO GO? MEDICAL EMERGENCY ADVENTURE FUNTIMES!” Irishy seems considerably less excited. Bashir puts the final nail in his coffin by saying that he sees this little roadtrip as a “wonderful opportunity to get to know each other,” which in Bashir language means “become best buddies and eat lunch together and have a secret handshake and pass notes in class and pretend to be superheros at my house after school lets out.” Irishy looks around for someone to whom he can say, “goddammit, I am a grown man,” and, seeing no one, follows Bashir to the runabout.

In the turbolift, Sisko and Kira are discussing important diplomatic issues. Sisko just wants to get the two sides talking informally, and Kira says it’ll be impressive to just get them sitting at the same table. Kira tells Sisko that there’s an old saying on Bajor: “Shoot Cardassians on sight.” Oh, no wait, sorry, wrong old saying. She says that “the land and the people are one,” and that these particular people live on Bajor’s harshest land (the other Bajorans all said they were daft to build castles in the swamp). She says that the Paku avoid contact with outsiders, so she won’t be much help.

As she and Sisko step into the airlock to meet the Paqu representative, it’s hard for them to hide their surprise: the representative is a fifteen-year-old girl. You know, they’re acting like it’s a problem, but I know a certain young man on this station who has a thing for the Bajoran laydees, and probably would not say no to some questionably ethical romancin’ as a negotiation technique. Wasn’t it just an episode ago that Sisko said a real leader would do anything for peace? Doesn’t that include whoring out one’s son? Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep10: “Move Along Home” – Doing It Right Edition

Internet, we hear your concerns. You were saddened that we were skipping so many episodes, and you were in particular dismayed by our overlooking of craptastic early season 1 episode “Move Along Home.”

We are pleased/terrified to announce that we will be skipping no more episodes, as of now, and, in an act of sincere contrition, we offer you this full-length review of “Move Along Home” to make amends. Please enjoy, and appreciate the fact that we have effectively signed a two-year contract for this series of reviews.

Synopsis: Sisko is pacing about his quarters, admiring his dress uniform, humming “I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” under his breath. Jake enters and is all, “nice penguin suit, old man,” and tells him that he’s paying more attention to Bajoran fashion trends now that so many hot Bajoran girls are visiting the station.

Sisko is all, “we must have a father-son talk about this,” and Jake is all, “no thank you,” and Sisko is all, “but there are things you need to know,” and Jake is all, “I got it covered, Nog filled me in.”

I learned about the finer points of the birds and the bees from my friends and the internet, like every other red-blooded American 20-something, but even I think Sex Education With Nog sounds like a recipe for disaster, like, only marginally better than the curriculum in Texas. Have you SEEN the fruit they have in space? You’re NEVER going to be able to get a condom on that stuff.

This is a kiwano, a relative of the Passion Fruit. It’s one of only a few fruits they eat in sci-fi, and it is not recommended for insertion into any of your orifices. Except your mouth?

In a relatively successful attempt to change the subject, Jake asks why his father is in dress uniform anyway. Sisko excitedly explains that the first delegation from the Gamma Quadrant is coming in, from a race of people called the Wadi (wa-DEE). Jake clearly believes himself to be safe from girl talk, but Sisko pulls off a very impressive segue in which he explains that diplomacy of first contact is like a first date, and one has to show respect, and…Major Kira interrupts on his comm badge before he can tell us if French kissing is acceptable at the end of a first contact or if that will make the Wadi think we’re easy. Kira says that the Wadi have just come through the wormhole, so Sisko tells Jake that he gets a reprieve until tomorrow and strides out to less choppy diplomatic waters. Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep11: “The Nagus”

Synopsis: The episode opens with a covert entrance: a Ferengi waves what appears to be a large Oompa-Loompa and a short hooded figure onto the station. The short figure, incidentally, has a bitchin’ scepter, the handle of which is a Ferengi head made of gold.

This is our first of many Ferengi episodes, and let me say that, just between you and me, internet, we could not be more excited to tell you about how much we love DS9 Ferengi, and we will absolutely fight you in the parking lot of a bowling alley if you say anything disparaging about Quark and Co.

“These men are from The Original Series, Donny, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

In Chez Sisko, Jake is all frantic looking for his shoes, and does not seem enthused by his father’s suggestion that they attend the annual Bajoran Gratitude Festival, which sounds like the last place in the galaxy they’d have weed. Sisko says Major Kira says it’ll be “pretty spectacular,” and Jake makes a face all like, isn’t that a ringing endorsement

“Li’l Sebastian made his debut at the last Gratitude Festival in 2365 and he was an instant phenomenon. For the next few years, Sebastian was the #1 boys’ name on Bajor and the #3 girls’ name.”

Sisko says that they could also swing by the fire caverns Jake’s apparently been jonesing to see, which means that they’ll be planet-side for about three days. Jake is all, “sorry, Dad, me and Nog got plans,” which apparently include going to see a ship full of space tractors dock tomorrow, and Sisko is all, how are tractors more interesting than fire caverns? Jake says, “Nog’s my friend,” – the inference being and you’re not - and we cut to Sisko’s face, which reveals quite clearly that Jake has only just today reached the age where he is no longer friends with his dad.

In the bar, Quark berates Rom for returning a lady’s wallet in one piece, and introduces us to the Rules of Acquisition, which will become ubiquitous. The RoA are effectively the Ferengi bible. It’s their code for making profit, their societal blueprint, and their revered source of truth and tradition. Needless to say, it is also hilarious.

“What’s the first Rule of Acquisition?” Quark barks, and Rom tentatively singsongs, “once you have their money, you never give it back.” This is the right answer, and Quark punishes Rom’s Rule Violation with menial labor, which Rom, in turn, passes on to Nog.

Lobes of greatness

Quark is telling a joke at the bar when the Ferengi from the beginning comes in and says that he’d like to present his father, Grand Nagus Zek. The large Oompa-Loompa throws the hood back (this is a man who can afford to pay others to produce drama around his entrance) to reveal an extremely impressive and extremely wizened Ferengi. If you’re impressed by none of the other make-up on this show, be impressed by his ear hair.

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DS9 Season 1 Ep4: “A Man Alone”

Meredith’s Synopsis: We open on Jadzia like, I don’t know, meditating? With a fancy floating transparent beach ball in a holosuite. Bashir comes in, and she says “Hello, Julian,” without opening her eyes or turning around. He’s surprised she knew it was him, and she says, “there are lots of ways to recognize people,” which I take to mean that she detected the odor of arrogance and romantic frustration that hangs around his person.

He’s all, “you are remarkable, sexy lady,” and she’s all like, “uh huh, we need to talk about this you being so into me business,” and he misses the point and invites her out to a champagne dinner. You know, for a liberal-progressive military organization in space, Starfleet sure seems to have a lax workplace sexual harassment policy. Sometimes I wonder if they even have a training video.

Jadzia explains that she’s trying to solve this puzzle with the beach ball, which, now that I see it up close, looks a lot more like a very large soap bubble. Bashir, eager to prove his Boy Genius status and impress her, is all, “I LOVE PUZZLES, I CAN HAZ PUZZLE HOT STUFF?”

Jadzia sighs and lets him take over, telling him it responds to brain waves. She tosses out that she’s been trying to figure the damn thing out for about 140 years – so Bashir should have it down in like, twenty minutes, right guys? Oh, it would be humorous if this scene ended in literally any other way!

Jadzia puts her hands on Bashir’s head to release the puzzle to him, and Bashir is all, “your hands are so cold, cold hands, warm heart, amirite?” (for the record, that was not a paraphrase. The only thing I added to his line was the “amirite.” He is that bad at macking on chicks)

Young men of the internet take note: if you are making this face, you're doing something wrong

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DS9 Season 1 Ep1: “Emissary”

Meredith’s Synopsis:

We open with some NexGen backstory, giving us a brief rundown on the Battle of Wolf 359 (the Pearl Harbor of the Star Trek universe) from the Best of Both Worlds two-parter. In case you didn’t know, this was an unprovoked attack by evil bio/robot hybrids the Borg, in a star system that was basically on Earth’s doorstep (Wolf 359 is a real-life star you can actually see, FYI, it’s about 7.8 lightyears away from us). Dapper Captain Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated by the Borg and mind controlled to lead the attack, and the Federation lost the shit out of the battle – the Borg eventually made it into Earth’s orbit, only one ship survived. Ultimately, even though it was forty Federation ships versus one Borg Cube, eleven thousand people were killed or assimilated by the Borg. Seriously, it was effing heavy shit.

This feels like a lot of background, I know, but you have to understand that the target audience had a PTSD seizure when they heard the name “Wolf 359.”

Now that we’ve established our setting, we find ourselves on board a ship where the orders are being given by an African-American First Officer so poised and well-spoken that he makes Morgan Freeman look like Marlon Wayans. The Commander does his best, but the whole audience knows he’s screwed, and as his ship starts to blow up, he makes sure his crew is getting to the escape pods, and then runs through the wreckage in search of his wife. He finds his motionless wife and son pinned under some beams, and while the boy is OK, his wife is dead. A crewman gets the Commander’s son, Jake, to safety, and then literally has to drag the Commander away from his wife’s body as he screams, “we can’t just leave her here!”

But they do, and, on the escape pod, the Commander holds his son’s hand and looks out the window at the exploding ship with the look of a man who is about to become a Batman.

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become an Admiral

We are going to have some allegiance to justice and righting of wrongs up in this bitch for sure.

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