Friday, September 2, 2016

Star Trek Episode Analysis - The Jem'Hadar (DS9 Season 2)

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

Sisko, Quark, and Edirs confront their captors
Episode Overview – Jake and Nog get a chance in a lifetime when Commander Sisko offers to take them to the Gamma Quadrant to survey a planet as part of a school project. Much to Sisko’s chagrin, Quark accompanies them. While on the planet Ben Sisko and Quark are taken prisoner by a new species, the powerful Jem’Hadar, who claim to be a part of the Dominion. As the two adults try to set aside their differences to escape, Jake and Nog seek to get back to Deep Space Nine and find help.

Quark has a proposal for the commander

Episode Score – 8/10. This is an exciting episode that not only effectively ends the second season but sets us up for the Dominion War, which will become one of the great events of the series. While not an official cliff-hanger episode that we became accustomed to in TNG, it does leave us with a great deal of anticipation about the next season. This is an episode that has a great deal of action while at the same time gives us some great character development. There is great dialogue between Sisko and Quark, and Jake and Nog get some good screen time.

Jake and Nog try to find help in a Runabout

Relevance – 3 points. This episode is one of those crossroad episodes that serves as a major transition in the series. Some (myself included) see this episode as a crucial switch from the excitement of exploring a new region of space to something that is darker and a bit on the ominous side. The Dominion had been mentioned in the episode “The Rules of Acquisition”, and leading up to this episode the Dominion became like spectre in the distance, dark and lurking, waiting to strike. Well, in this episode, it strikes, and in a big way. In this episode, we meet the Jem’Hadar, the Vorta, and hear mention of the Founders. We see that the Dominion will do anything to make a statement. They have been watching the Federation for a while, and it’s time to take things up to a new level.

Quark catches his sleeve on fire

Continuity – 2 points. Character continuity scores a point. Quark does whatever he can spin a deal, and Sisko has a lot of mistrust towards Quark. As Quark so effectively points out, Sisko has a prejudice against Ferengi, and realizing it doesn’t sit well with him. Jake and Nog continue to grow as characters and their friendship grows as well. Story continuity gets a point as well. Everything follows what it should. Where this episode loses a point is in the continuity of the Trek universe. While it will not be established until the next season, the Vorta introduced here will not be the Vorta we come to love to hate. Edris uses telekinetic powers, which were cool, but were never seen again. It was also odd that when she meets Odo, she does not identify him with the reverence that Vorta typically show towards a Founder. According to Ira Steven Behr, this is because it had not been decided that Odo was going to be a member of the Founders.

Talak'Talon, the first Jem'Hadar we meet

Character Development – 3 points. Lots of progression in the development of characters. While little of it is Earth-shattering, we see Sisko confronted with his dislike of Ferengi (and of Quark in particular). Quark, while being his  usual greedy self, does manage to find some common ground with Sisko and shows that they can be an effective team. We also continue to see Jake and Nog grow in their characters and friendship. Where his father sees all Ferengi as trouble, Jake sees Nog as something more, something worthy to help. Nog tries to be more than the stereotypical Ferengi, and takes another step further along the path that will eventually take him towards the uniform.

Jambalaya around the campfire 

Social Commentary – 2 points. Amidst the action and excitement of the arrival of the Dominion, we are given a very timely lesson on the hazards of prejudism. When Quark confronts Sisko about his dislike of Ferengi, it hits too close to home for Sisko. He comes to the realisation that he sees the Ferengi not as an enemy, but something worse, as inferior. Because the Ferengi culture has a set of ideological beliefs that Federation culture has rejected, this somehow made Ferengi less than humans. Quark, thanks to a wonderful speech given to him by the writers, points out that while the Ferengi may have some flaws, they pale in comparison to the sins committed by humans in the past (siting slavery and wars). It’s a great moment where the Ferengi become more than a failed TNG villain.

Captain Keogh organizes a rescue mission with the DS9 officers

Cool Factor – 3 points. So much is cool in this episode. The Jem’Hadar show themselves as a tough foe to fight and are the first (official) face of the Dominion, which is impressive to say the least. The battle between the Jem’Hadar and the Odyssey is also a great battle, a sign of even greater things to come. At the time the Galaxy class starship was the top of the line in the fleet, and to see a Jem’Hadar ship take it out is a sight. I also thought the dialogue with Quark stating that Ferengi are better than humans because, despite their flaws of greed and the like, they never had anything like slavery or concentration camps in their history. It helps us put our perspective in place.

The Jem'Hadar wishing Sisko was a Klingon

 Rank Admiral (21 points). This is a very well-crafted episode and is a must watch on everyone’s list. It launches us into the Dominion storyline at warp speed and features great action, humor, and story-telling. We see some wonderful exchanges between Sisko and Quark that is both entertaining and enlightening. 

The USS Odyssey battles a Jem'Hadar attack ship
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.

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