Monday, January 15, 2018

Episode Review - Duet (Deep Space Nine, Season 1)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – A Cardassian arrives on the station seeking medical attention. When it is revealed that he has Kalla-Nohra Syndrome, Kira has him arrested on suspicion of being a war criminal. As Kira interrogates the man, identified as Aamin Marritza, suspicions arise on the true nature of his identity. He is identified as Gul Darhe’el, commander of an infamous labor camp that Kira had helped liberate. In spite of this revelation, the evidence does not fully add up, and as Kira discovers the truth of the man they have in custody, she is forced to examine the truth of her feelings towards Cardassians.

Score: 9/10 – This is arguably the strongest episode of the entire first season. We are given a remarkable character story that provides us an in-depth study of the effects of war and genocide from both the perspective of the oppressed and the oppressor. The aftermath of the occupation of Bajor is a common theme in the early seasons of DS9, and “Duet” shows us how we got great television out of it. Kudos to Nana Visitor and guest star Harris Yulin for a tour de force in their roles. The writing was just as strong as the acting, and when superior acting is given an amazing script, the result is a brilliant story. There is little in the way of physical action, but it is the intrigue and dialogue that gives us the dramatic power that fuels this superior episode.

Relevance - 2 points. One point is scored for the first mention of the Shakaar resistance cell. We would eventually meet Shakaar and other members of the cell in future Kira-centered episodes. Another point is scored for introducing the character of Neela, the Bajoran engineer that would play an important part in the season finale.

Continuity – 3 points. Story and universe continuity are both maintained here. For universe continuity, there is definitely a pattern that is respected with the verbose nature of Cardassians. Marritza makes monologue after compelling monologue, much like Dukat and Garak were famous for. Where we have a possible issue is in character continuity. In the previous episode, “Dramatis Personae”, Kira and Sisko seemed to have come to an understanding and respect for each other. In this, the very next episode, Kira goes behind Sisko’s back to get her way in dealing with Marritza. In spite of the new-found respect for Sisko, I do not see this action as going against Kira’s character. Some habits are hard to break, and the effects of the Cardassian occupation on Kira are difficult to overcome overnight. Besides, the power of the story would have been diminished if she hadn’t acted the way she did.

Character Development – 2 points. This is one of the strongest episodes for Kira’s character. She had a deep hatred towards Cardassians at the start of the series, and though she mellowed somewhat during the season, the reality of how the occupation affected her hits her with full force. The most important part of her journey in this episode is when she sees that some of the Cardassians showed true remorse and guilt over the actions of their people. To see Kira’s demeanour change from suspicion to realisation to sympathy for Marritza. Then, in the final scene, a Bajoran fatally stabs Marritza. As Kira asks the Bajoran why when Marritza was innocent, the killer states that him being Cardassian was enough of a reason to kill him. Kira, in a brilliantly acted and written line, admits that it is not enough anymore. This is a huge leap for Kira and continues to grow throughout the series.

Social Commentary – 3 points. This episode is an example of not only how relevant DS9 was in its time, but it was ahead of its time. When this episode was first aired, it served as a reminder of tragic and horrible events such as the Holocaust. There were some obvious parallels for us to follow. We were also witnessing the then current ethnic war in the former Yugoslavia. Since that time, we have seen similar conflicts in Rwanda and several places in the Middle East. We still, to this day, see racial unrest in America. With all of this, it is very likely for all of us to see one group of people as the enemy where everyone is guilty for the sins of some in the group. The trick is realising that not all who look like those who wronged you are guilty of their sins. Even if we may be the victims of oppression, we should not make the mistake in hating everyone who look like those who harmed us. There is also a great message in the character of Marritza. We see a man that truly feels responsible for the sins of his people, even though he himself was innocent. His desire to sacrifice himself was not only motivated by a desire to right the wrongs that his people committed against Bajor, but he recognizes that while Cardassia refuses to accept responsibility for their actions, they cannot truly move forward as a people.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. Definitely a point scored for the performances of Nana Visitor and Harris Yulin. Kira goes on an emotional roller coaster ride as Yulin pulls off an almost perfect deception for the most noble of reasons. I also score a point for the final scene. I was in high school then, and twenty-five years later I still remember the power of seeing Kira crying over a dying Cardassian that was willing to sacrifice his life to help both the Bajorans and the Cardassians emerge as better people.

Rank – Admiral (21 points). This episode shows the strength of DS9 and Star Trek in general when it comes to exploring the human condition in a science fiction setting. We have a powerful journey of one of the main characters learn to care and even forgive a member of a species that oppressed her people for decades while at the same time give us something to think about with respect to our own situation. More than ever we need this type of television.

 If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Episode Review - Twisted (Voyager, Season 2)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Overview – The crew throw Kes a surprise birthday party (she is turning two years old) on the holodeck. On the bridge, Tuvok and Ensign Kim discover an energy field that ultimately envelops Voyager. The field not only starts to disrupt ship systems such as communications, but it seems to be reorganizing the layout of the ship. Captain Janeway and her crew try to figure out the puzzle that has become Voyager, hoping to figure out what is happening and protect the ship from the unknown energy field.

Score: 6/10 – This is a twisted little episode that gives us a bit of a sampler of each character. This is good in that everybody has a little something to do, but bad in that nobody is really a focus. The pacing is a bit slow at times, as it seems that a significant portion shows various crew members wandering the hallways. Neelix disappears part way through, which at the time seemed odd that he would just nonchalantly wander away from Chakotay when there was something strange happening to the ship. Some of the humor works, and some of it doesn't. Some of the scenes are a bit clunky, but there are some fairly good momentsas well. To contrast this, there is one part where Janeway, after emerging from a sort of catatonic state, exclaims “It’s talking to me!”. It was done in a way that seemed off to me. In contrast, there is a touching scene where the senior officers are in the holodeck, awaiting the arrival of the mysterious and ominous field. Each crewmember (minus Neelix, who was missing) pairs up with someone. Tom and Harry, Torres and Chakotay, and the Doctor and Kes. The captain is unconscious during this, and Tuvok, in a very touching way, places his hand close to Janeway’s shoulder. While it is a simple gesture, it was a powerful one to me. The ending seems a little anti-climatic at first, but when we learn that the anomaly actually both added and copied information from the ship’s database, it added a little mystery to the story. Sadly, the mystery of where the anomaly came from and the information it gave them was never solved.

Relevance – 1 point. Neelix is still showing signs of jealously towards Tom’s interest in Kes. This started in the episode “Phage” and will finally be resolved in the next episode “Parturition”.

Continuity – 2 points. Character continuity is going to take a hit here. I found it odd that Torres, who was the only person Chakotay had met that had tried to kill their spirit guide, would seek this moment to try to contact her guide again. Story wise, everything adds up. Universe continuity is also good here.

Character Development – 1 point. As I mentioned previously, everybody gets some attention, but there is very little in the way of actual development. Neelix is becoming a bit of an annoyance with his jealousy. Kes has a birthday. The Doctor has some “fun” with the holographic Sandrine. Tuvok seems to lighten up a bit when he finds a way to allow Ensign Kim to go to the holodeck. We get a glimpse as to how each of the main characters faces the unknown. Yet with all of this happening, there is really nothing significant that happens to anyone, so we can’t really score higher than a “1” in this category.

Social Commentary – 0 points. I really tried to find something in this episode that was relevant to the being some sort of social commentary. Sadly, I got nothing.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I did find the banter between the Doctor and Sandrine to be quite entertaining and fun. Robert Picardo has a great talent at making the Doctor funny without making him look like a total goof. Some of the dialogue between these two holograms, while brief, is just pure gold.

Rank – Lieutenant (11 points). Not a horrible episode, but not a very memorable one either. I just really think they could have done a better job with the pacing. Having said that, it can be fairly enjoyable to watch, so you should give it at least one viewing. After that, if it isn’t your preference, you can skip over it next time you binge-watch the series.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Voyager, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Episode Review: The Way of the Warrior (Deep Space Nine, Season 4)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The Klingons arrive at the station amidst rumors of the Cardassian military government being overthrown by a civilian group. The Klingons suspect that the Dominion has somehow orchestrated the coup on Cardassia and have come in the guise of supporting their Federation allies. Sisko suspects that there is more to the Klingon visit than is being revealed, and as tensions rise he requests a specialist for handling the Klingons. Lieutenant Commander Worf arrives on the station and immediately gets to work on learning the true intent of his people. When he discovers the goal of the Klingons is to invade Cardassia, both Worf and Sisko are caught between conflicts of conscience that will ultimately have repercussions on the entire Alpha Quadrant.

Score: 9/10 – “The Way of the Warrior” is a special two hour episode that marks a big moment in the series. First, and foremost, Michael Dorn reprises his iconic role of Worf and joins the main cast. Storyline wise, we have the Klingons go nuts and throw the quadrant into chaos. While this is later revealed to be the work of the Dominion, it is absolutely a game changer for the world of Star Trek. We see some promotions in the cast, most notably Dax to Lieutenant Commander, and Bashir to full Lieutenant. Sisko adds to his new look by shaving his head, and it is perfect for his character. I think this is where Avery Brooks could really deliver the tough-as-nails persona of Captain Sisko. It was nice to have Kassidy Yates comment on how much she liked the new look. It was almost as if she was saying it for the rest of us. We see the Klingons like many feel they should have been for a while, all action and conquest. It was an interesting Trek universe development, having the allies go back to adversaries. The battle for the station is still one of the most impressive battles, giving us some great action. I particularly enjoyed the battle for ops. When the first wave was finally repulsed, we were left with only Sisko, Dax, and Worf- standing. While some of the other officers were only injured (Kira and O’Brien being most prominent), the loss of life by Sisko’s crew was sobering in that it further signaled to the audience that a corner had been turned and things were never going to be the same again.

Relevance – 3 points. In addition to introducing Worf as a full cast member, there is also the introduction of General Martok. This sets up one of the more interesting and popular recurring characters in Deep Space Nine. What happens in this episode will have major impacts on several episodes throughout the rest of the season. The mentioning of the Enterprise’s fate in “Star Trek: Generations” gives us a point here. There is also a point scored for reference to the Khitomer Accords, which were the backdrop of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I also score a point for the opening segment, showing the crew respond to the results of the previous season’s finale. There are many other connections to other episodes, such as referring to the defeat of the Obsidian Order in the previous season, O’Brien and Worf discussing the events of “The Best of Both Worlds”, and Worf continuing to drink his beloved prune juice. Overall, if you are going to understand the story of DS9, this is an episode that you cannot miss.

Continuity - 2 points. Character continuity is maintained. Everyone is acting the way we would expect. Sisko’s method of using Garak as a means to warn the Cardassians of the incoming attack is a good example of this. Worf is obviously uneasy with the deception, and Sisko is particularly adept at manipulating the situation with a clever loophole. Story continuity is going to lose a point here. Worf, on board the Defiant, mentions that he has never been on a Federation ship with a cloaking device. In truth, the seventh season of TNG the Enterprise is fitted with an experimental cloaking device, so Worf has been on a Federation ship with a cloak before. Universe continuity is also intact, so we can score a point in that category.

Character Development – 3 points. While this is a largely Worf-centered episode, it is important to note that it is solely a Worf focus. This is one of the strengths of introducing a well-established character into a cast in that there was little need for a lot of back story. Work again is forced to choose between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and again he is cut off from his people. He contemplates resigning from Starfleet, which is something Sisko understands all too well. This allows a much different relationship to develop between Worf and his captain from what he had with Picard. The respect Worf develops for Sisko has more to do with sharing a common experience of loss rather than the inherent “respect the rank” that Worf had for Picard. This is not to discount the Picard-Worf relationship on TNG, just to highlight a major difference. Worf sees Sisko on more equal footing than Picard, whom he continued to elevate. Sisko gets some credit for his solution to the Klingon problem, and his new look really has him being able to stand up to the Klingons in a more convincing way. We see some good moments with Sisko in this episode. Dax also shines, albeit to a lesser degree. She further adds depth to her Klingon connection, and she seems to lay some of the groundwork that will eventually lead to her romance with Worf.

Social Commentary – 2 points. With so much going on in this episode that it is easy to overlook what social commentary the episode is making. As is common with Worf, the pull between two groups or societies that one is connected to can be examined. Is it Worf’s birth culture or his adopted culture that he owes allegiance to? We see a similar struggle with Sisko as he tries to navigate a fine line between appeasing the Federation’s alliance with the Klingon Empire and doing what his gut tells him is the right thing by saving the Cardassian empire from total annihilation. We too can find ourselves pulled between two conflicting forces. It’s a real sense to try to figure out where our true loyalties lie.

Cool Stuff – 3 points. The battle between DS9 and the Klingons is fantastic, and is only a precursor of the epic battles that became famous in this series. Point scored there. I also scored a point for the root beer scene between Garak and Quark. While originally played for comedic purposes, it is cleverly twisted into an insightful commentary of the Federation. A final point is being scored for the plot device used by Sisko to inform the Cardassians of the impending Klingon invasion. By discussing the matter in front of Garak, who had been called in to measure Sisko for a new suit, it allowed the resourceful tailor to sound the alarm. There are many other cool parts of this episode, from Worf’s arrival on the station to Sisko’s shaved head to the breakfast between Garak and Odo, but three points is the limit here.

Rank – Admiral (22 points). This is such an important episode for the series that it had to be done well. On that front, it was mission accomplished. We have action, intrigue, comedy, and some great acting. What a way to welcome Worf into the DS9 family.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Celebrating 25 Years of Deep Space Nine

It was twenty five years ago that we boldly went somewhere that we had, as Trekkies, never gone before. It was January of 1993 and Star Trek was basking in a glow of popularity that was unparalleled for the franchise. The Next Generation was riding high in the ratings and the producers were eager to bring another installment into the franchise. However, unlike before, the idea was to not jump ahead in the future and have a new crew on the Enterprise, but instead look at a new crew in a completely different situation. Instead of a starship, the new show would be set in a space station. Instead of a captain, there would be (at first, at least) a commander. Instead of a Starfleet crew, there would be mixed crew. The characters would not be in perfect harmony, as before, but face inherent conflict that had not been seen in Star Trek to this level. The groundwork had been set on TNG for the past few years. Aliens such as the Cardassians, the Ferengi, the Trill and the Bajorans were all going to be a part of the new landscape. A stable wormhole would be discovered and through that the crew would encounter new species and new civilizations. There would be some familiar faces, particularly with transporter chief Miles O'Brien and his family would be transferred from the Enterprise to the space station.

As with every new series, there was a mix of excitement and apprehension among the fan base. Would the new series live up to the high expectations that TNG had established? Would the characters be as lovable and enjoyable as the likes of Spock, McCoy, Data, and Picard? What new stories and aliens would we see? When the show aired, we boarded the ride and began a six-and-a-half year journey. We had new heroes in new uniforms using new gadgets that expanded our costume options for conventions. We had new stories, and for the first time ever there was two hours of new Star Trek every week. It was the beginning of a new era, and it brought about some great memories and moments.

Over seven seasons we followed the adventures of Benjamin Sisko, a Starfleet officer and single father who was hurting from a grievous personal loss. With him was a mixed group of characters that soon became as familiar as the other crews. There was Kira Nerys, a tough former Bajoran freedom fighter. Chief O'Brien would take on the role of chief of operations. A new science officer in Jadzia Dax further developed the Trill species, providing us a more in-depth look at this symbiotic species. There was a new alien in the shape shifting security officer, Odo. He had a particularly entertaining rivalry with the local bartender and con man, Quark, who gave us a greater understanding of the Ferengi. Rounding out the cast was the brilliant yet naive doctor, Julian Bashir, and Sisko's son, Jake. As the series progressed, Worf was brought into the cast as a regular, and gave us even more development for our favourite Klingon. In the final season, Jadzia Dax was replaced with a new host Ezri. It was a multi-faceted crew that brought us excitement into our homes on a regular basis.

One of the greatest strengths of DS9 was not only a talented cast of core performers portraying memorable characters, but an equally talented cadre actors playing a rich and intriguing group of recurring characters. It soon became an ensemble show and we were thrilled as we learned more of these brilliantly written characters. It would be impossible to imagine the show without names like Garak, Dukat, Weyoun, Rom, Leeta, Nog, and Kai Winn. More than any other Trek series to date, no show had such a rich and diverse group of characters. They were not set in stone according to their motives as well. They would switch between hero and villain, crook and cadet, while adding to the interest of the story.

The stories, as well, became a calling card for the show. In the previous series, there were the occasional two-part episodes, but DS9 took that to a new level. Multi-episode story-arcs were tried and were largely successful. More than any other series in Star Trek (with, perhaps, the exception of Discovery) did the effects of one episode have such a lasting impact over the course of the show. Themes such as love, war, betrayal, and honor were woven into commentary of our world. Racism, genocide, terrorism, and socio-economic divisions were addressed in typical Star Trek fashion. They caused us to think about the world around us while we watched these characters explore the galaxy. New ground was broken and some classic episodes were made. From "Duet" to "the Visitor", from "Far Beyond the Stars" to "The Way of the Warrior" and "In the Pale Moonlight", storytelling was at an all time high.

Deep Space Nine kept true to the roots of established Trek while making some noticeable changes. The Trill may have looked different from when Beverly Crusher fell for Odan, but so many other cultures were further deepened. The Klingons were added into the mix heavily in Season 4, and the Ferengi were finally able to find a niche that they could comfortably fit into. The Bajorans and Cardassians that were created in TNG were given much context and depth. We even had a chance to
see some familiar faces from the past. There was a visit from Q, the Duras sisters, Vash, and Riker. We had Gowron do far more than he did in TNG, and a blast from the past with three original series Klingons reprised by the original actors with Kang, Kor, and Koloth. With all the nods and respect to the past, DS9 still went boldly forward with new races. Most notably were the many races related to the Dominion, which became one of the most intriguing and deadly enemies of the Federation.

It is sad that DS9 did not garner as much attention as TNG did. It would have been great to see at least one DS9 movie, but that does not diminish the greatness of this series. While it was not a perfect series, I must say that it is one of the most underrated television series that has aged very well. It's almost as applicable today as it was a quarter century ago. To celebrate this wonderful show, I will do as I did last year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of TNG by giving you ten episode reviews of some of DS9's best and brightest episodes. Hopefully they will include your favourites. So, grab some raktagino, fire up some Vic Fontaine music, and dust off the DS9 dvd set and relive some great television and science fiction.

To look at some previously reviewed episodes, click here.

For my favorite DS9 episodes, click here.

For my top 5 reasons why I love DS9, click here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Episode Review - Fallen Hero (Enterprise, Season 1)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The Enterprise, en route to the planet Risa for some much needed shore leave, is sent to Mazar to escort a disgraced Vulcan ambassador, V’Lar, back to Vulcan. V’Lar is also a hero to T’Pol, and displays very unusual qualities and mannerisms for a Vulcan (such as shaking hands and engaging in idle conversation with others). As T’Pol learns that her once idol is not what she had hoped she would be, the Enterprise is attacked by rogue Mazarites, who are intent on killing the ambassador. As V’Lar remains hesitant to share the details of her mission with Archer, the danger levels rise. Soon, Archer must decide between the safety of the ship and the safety of one of Vulcan’s most distinguished diplomats.

Score: 8/10 – I really enjoyed this episode, mostly due to the character of V’Lar. One of the many criticisms of Enterprise at the beginning was that the Vulcans seemed too arrogant to be allies of Earth. V’Lar causes that point to be turned, and Archer begins his journey to trusting Vulcans (or, at least, some of them). This also showcases the growing closeness between T’Pol and Johnathan. We are also treated to a wonderful performance by Fionnula Flanagan as V’Lar. She previously played one of Curzon Dax’s former lovers in the first season of DS9 and the “mother” of Data in the final season of TNG. We get some “firsts” in this episode. We have the first mention of Risa (it will take the crew two whole episodes to get there), the first Vulcan salute on Enterprise, and the first time the ship reaches Warp 5. Some of said that this is another typical “diplomat runs amuck” story, but that is far from the truth. Instead of a disgraced diplomat, we see a wonderful character examination paired with a high-stakes dangerous mission that increases the excitement of the story. There a few odd things in this episode, mainly a lack of originality with the Mazarite make-up. Overall, though, this episode is a strong showing for the first season of Enterprise.

Relevance - 3 points. Definitely scoring a point for Risa. Fans were wondering if we would encounter this pleasure/vacation planet that was first introduced in the Next Generation episode “Captain’s Holiday”. We would visit the planet, but only after another delay in the next episode. I am also going to score a point for hitting Warp 5 for the first time. There is even a little homage to Scotty when Tucker informs the Captain that he’s giving it all he can. Final point is scored for the acknowledgement of the growing respect and friendship between Archer and T’Pol. While this may not be the strongest relationship on the show, it is a vital one.

Continuity – 3 points. Story wise, everything is by-the-book with the truth being dished out a little at a time, complete with a bait-and-switch hoodwink resolution to the dilemma. Universe continuity is in check here as well. Character continuity is especially interesting, as we see T’Pol be challenged by her beliefs towards one she thought of as a hero and icon. She struggles with the disappointment that she feels in how V’Lar behaves, yet ultimately is able to stand up to her and use logic to convince her to trust the captain. Everyone else acts as they should, especially Archer. As he grapples with choosing between his ship and a Vulcan who is again hiding something from him. I especially like in this episode how Admiral Forrest is willing to defer to Archer’s judgement on the matter as it is Archer who is out there in space in the middle of the situation. All on point.

Character Development – 3 points. T’Pol definitely has a lot of development. For much of the first season she has been almost prudish in her insistence on the superiority of the Vulcan way of doing things, and then along comes her hero V’Lar, who is shaking hands and acting much more human that anyone expects. T’Pol is thrown for a loop, but is eventually able to reconcile. Archer also makes some needed progress. He cannot go the entire series with a distrust of Vulcans (no matter how deserving they may be). It is this episode that we get to see those walls break down a bit as, finally, a Vulcan authority reveals the truth of her top-secret mission and demonstrates that she is willing to sacrifice herself if it ensures the safety of Archer’s crew. That he chooses to first trust and then save her is a big step for Captain Archer. As mentioned before, this episode is where we truly start to see the blossoming friendship between the Captain and his science officer. It may not be the Kirk-Spock story that we see in the original series, but it is important to the series overall.

Social Commentary – 3 points. How do you handle disappointment in those you hold in high regard? That is a good question. As of the writing of this review, our society has recently experienced a plethora of accusations of sexual harassment charges against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and many others. Many people are looking at some of their heroes in entertainment and politics as being less than inspiring these days. It is not unusual. As I learn about the lives of many that I admired for most of life I am unquestionably discovering that they are far from perfect. When I learn of marital infidelities, power-hungry abuse, and other unsavory elements of the likes of Jim Henson, Bill Cosby, and even Gene Roddenberry himself, I have had to settle those within myself. Sometimes, it happens quickly without much angst. Other times, it is difficult to accept the mounting piles of facts. Once in a while, I discover that my standards were being held at an unreasonable height. Regardless of which, as we see with T’Pol in dealing with a hero who is acting in a way that goes against T’Pol’s perceptions, we can learn to accept that things change and that sometimes it is us that suffers the most from our disappointments. We need to learn to let go of the hero-worship and move on with our lives, allowing ourselves to be disappointed. We don’t have to condone their behaviour (and in many of the cases about sexual abuse that are coming up now, we shouldn’t even come close to condoning them), just be prepared to have our heroes fall from grace.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I must score a point for the ruse that Archer and his crew uses to fool the Mazarites who are intent in killing V’Lar. Most crucial to this is V’Lar’s appearance in the sickbay entrance after the rebels think they have killed her, showing Flanagan’s ability to portray sassiness as only a Vulcan can.

Rank – Admiral (21 points). Fans of Fionnula Flanagan definitely want to see this episode, as it is her strongest performance in all of her (to date) Trek appearances. She makes V’Lar a force to be reckoned with. The story is both compelling and exciting and we see two of our characters take some much needed steps in their development. Likely one of the brightest spots of the first season of Enterprise.

If you would like to check out my other episode reviews for Enterprise, simply click here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Episode Review - Defiant (DS9, Season 3)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Kira, under stress from her duties, is ordered by Doctor Bashir to take some R and R time. As she settles in at Quark’s to begin her “treatment”, she is met by Commander William Riker of the Enterprise. As the two spend more time together, Kira offers Riker a tour of the station, including a visit to the Defiant. On board the Defiant, Riker and Kira finds themselves alone. When Kira activates the main computer on the bridge, Riker stuns her and takes over the ship with the help of some Maquis members. Back on the station, the crew are contacted by Riker about a potential warp-core breach. As the station’s crew allow Riker to pilot the ship safely away from the DS9, the ship suddenly goes into warp. The crew soon learn that it was not William T. Riker, but Thomas Riker who was created during a transporter accident several years ago. Thomas Riker had grown disenfranchised with Starfleet since his return to active duty and was a suspected Maquis sympathizer. Upon contacting Gul Dukat and informing him of the development, Commander Sisko soon finds himself on Cardassia, assisting Dukat and the Cardassians in locating the Defiant and stopping Riker. As the hunt continues, more mysteries begin to surface, putting both Sisko and Dukat in a delicate situation.

Tom Riker removes his clever disguise

Score: 8/10 – Wow, what a way to bring Johnathan Frakes into Deep Space Nine. I thought that this was a brilliant idea and was wonderfully executed. The wonderful twist of having the Riker in question be Thomas Riker is a great continuation of the TNG episode “Second Chances”. The fun thing about this twist is that since it is William T Riker, all bets are off and the survival of Thomas Riker is not a sure thing. There are some humorous moments at the beginning of the episode as see Kira breakdown the way that we sometimes want to at work (or maybe we sometimes do). I also appreciate how Bashir takes command of her meltdown and gives her an order to have fun. It’s nice to see Kalita again, as we saw her previously in the episode “Pre-emptive Strike”. There is also the interesting insight to Cardassian politics, with Dukat realising that there is more to the Obsidian Order than they let on. This almost side-story of Sisko and Dukat having to team up to not only catch Riker but to sidestep the interference of the Obsidian Order representative (played with delicious sass by Tricia O’Neil, her third Trek role). Most of all, this is a story of Thomas Riker, who shows that like is identical “twin” William, is a masterful and crafty strategist. How he was able to charm his way with both Kira and Sisko, and he was even able to bluff his way out of not remembering Dax. Of particular note, I thought that the biggest problem with his plan was how to deal with Chief O’Brien, who knew Commander Riker very well. If anyone was going to spot the ruse, it would be Miles. Thomas (via the writers) handled it perfectly by pretending that the two of them had a huge falling out. It took the good-natured Chief off his game enough to get him out of the picture, wondering in bewilderment how he had offended his friend. It threw us fans for a loop as well, which is how effective the writing and acting was. Where the episode comes up a bit short was the romance between Riker and Kira. It seemed a bit out of place and out of character for Kira, but more on that in a moment.

Dukat receiving a briefing on a new threat

Relevance – 2 points. The purpose of the Obsidian Order Fleet in this episode will be made clear in the future episode “By Inferno’s Light”. As of this episode, the Obsidian Order was forbidden to have a fleet, so the revelation of it was a shock to Dukat. We learn later that this is a fleet being built with the sole purpose to wipe out the Founders. Of course, we must score a point for continuing, and likely concluding, the story of Thomas Riker. There are a few stories that I wish DS9 could have followed up, and Tom Riker ranks near the top for me. It is unfortunate that we do not see if Kira ever keeps her promise to free him, and it appears that the door is open for a follow up, but it was not meant to be.

Continuity – 2 points. Story continuity checks out here. Everything in Tom’s plan makes sense and is well executed. Universe continuity also checks out, especially with regards to the Obsidian Order and their secret covert operations that are absent from the knowledge of the ruling government. Where I am going to have to deduct a point is Kira. I must be honest that it is very unlike her to fall for Riker in a romantic fashion while she is in the midst of a relationship with Bariel. Some may say that she got caught up in a combination of the heat of the moment and Riker’s charisma, but that conclusion is very contrary to her core character. Kira is fiercely loyal, and as compassionate as she is, I just don’t see her giving a condemned Riker a goodbye kiss out of pity.

Character Development – 2 points. Kira gets a fair bit of attention here, as does Sisko (Ben Sisko, of course, as Jake does not appear in this episode). Sisko gets some great insight into what is going on within the Cardassian government, especially a sense that not every aspect of it is in sync as Dukat would have him believe. This episode also gives Sisko and Dukat a chance to work together, and the give and take negotiations that they engage in at the end shows Sisko’s diplomatic skills. Kira, as I mentioned, is a little out of character in how she falls for Riker, but we still see her determination and resolve on full display here. She uses her drive and reason to help Riker come to a proper resolution of the situation. Some of the irony in her tale here is that she starts off being stressed, ordered to relax, and because of it ends up in an even more stressful situation. I think, most of all, it was fun to watch her totally lose it on everyone at the beginning of the episode. I know I have had days where all I wanted to do was put my foot down everywhere at the same time, I just never went that far. Good thing Julian pulled her back from the edge.

Kira receiving her treatment

Social Commentary – 2 points. Thomas Riker is a character that many can relate to. He was left behind, forgotten, and then when he learns that his world moved on without “him” (but instead another version of “him”), he is struggling to find his identity. In “Defiant”, the episode title is not necessarily a reference to the ship he steals, but instead his attitude to a society that he just cannot seem to find a place in. So he leaves Starfleet and joins the Maquis, and almost pulls off a major victory for them. Ultimately, he discovers that he still wants to be a Starfleet officer, as evidenced by his actions. So while he is defiant to the organization that he was once a part of, his defiance is really to himself, the William T. Riker who has had a much better go of things. While many of us who have been dealt a bad hand do not turn on their society and rebel, we do understand the allure of doing so.

Prepare for the unexpected

Cool Stuff – 2 points. Thomas Riker played by Johnathan Frakes is definitely a highlight here, so I score a point there. This was a perfect story for him, and the twist at the beginning was well built. I also had to score a point for Tricia O’Neil making her third appearance. Her distinctive voice is perfect as Korinas, and she plays her with a delightful wit. Her first character, Captain Rachel Garrett of the Enterprise-C, is still my favourite of hers, but I really enjoyed Korinas.

Rank – Captain (18 points). It would have been so nice to see the story of Tom Riker followed up on at some point, but without counting non-canon sources, there is little we can do but imagine what might have been. Still, even without the follow-up, “Defiant” is a solid episode that is full of fun, adventure, betrayal, and intrigue. It’s always good to see Frakes in front of the camera playing Riker, whether it is Tom or Will.

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