Monday, May 1, 2017

Episode Review - A Time to Stand (Deep Space Nine, Season 6)

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

Overview – Three months into the Dominion War, the Federation and Klingon forces are suffering devastating loses. Demoralized and exhausted, Sisko and his crew learn are assigned to an elite mission deep in Dominion territory. Their objective, to destroy a ketrecel white depot using a Dominion ship captured a year ago. Meanwhile, on Deep Space Nine (now Terok Nor), Dukat and Weyoun revel in the victories of the Dominion while Kira and Odo attempt to find ways to influence things for the better.

Score: 8/10 – Ah, Season 6. What a time. The Dominion War gets serious, the stakes are raised, and the show will never be the same again. Never before in Trek history have we seen the Federation in a war. This episode could have been all about glorious battles, amazing effects, and top-notch action. What we get instead is a far more satisfying human story. We see Ben have to tell his dad that Jake stayed on the station behind enemy lines. Kira and Odo are trying to keep Bajor out of the fight without supporting their new Dominion “allies”. Jake wants to get his stories published but Weyoun keeps restricting them. Meanwhile, the war goes badly. Our opening scene shows a battered and defeated Federation-Klingon fleet limping home from another loss. Spirits are low among our characters on the front line, but back on the station it is different yet still low. Kira, Odo, Jake, and Quark are all dealing with the occupation in their own manner, and each one is wishing for the Federation to be back. This episode is solid. Sometimes, there is so much going on that it is hard to keep things straight, but overall this is an important episode that is well executed.

Relevance - 3 points. This is the first in the sixth season six episode opener story arc. Not only does it pick things up from the end of last season, but it sets the stage for the next five episodes. We also see the Jem’Hadar ship from last season’s episode “The Ship”. We are introduced to Admiral Ross, who will be the Starfleet Admiral to go to for the rest of the series. Every episode in this six-part arc is relevant, and the first one especially so.

Continuity - 3 points. Continuity checks out all across the board. Each category works. The story fits, the universe is respected, and the characters act as we would expect them to.

Character Development – 3 points. This is hard, as so much is going on here. We see some good moments for just about everyone. With this being a multi-episode story, many of our characters begin a journey of sorts. Kira as a colleague of the Cardassians instead of a freedom fighter against them. Odo begins a journey into the murky waters that will eventually test his loyalties far more than ever before. Sisko begins his quest to reclaim his station and reunite with the ones he had to leave behind. While others may have had less screen time (Worf, I believe only had the one), we still see some good moments. Quark shows some real pragmatism in his observations of the current occupation, O’Brien and Bashir show different elements of being soldiers on the losing side, Garak is put to use on the covert mission, and Jake struggles to get his story through to the rest of the quadrant. We get to see many aspects of several characters in situations that they have not been in before, so this section gets full marks.

Social Commentary – 1 point. Here is a tough one for me to determine. There is nothing remotely obvious to social commentary in this story (more will come later in “Rocks and Shoals”). Few of us have been in war, let alone a losing one. However, many of us have been in situations where we face a dire situation, and we could choose to just give in or to stand up and attempt the impossible. That’s something (but not enough for more than a single point).

Cool Stuff – 1 point. The opening scene was a sobering shot as to how things were going for the Federation. We have never before seen a defeated fleet limping home, some ships having to be towed by other ships. It was an effective way at setting the mood for the episode. Beyond that, there is nothing that is “cool”, just overall a very well-crafted episode. 

Rank – Captain (19 points). Every season opener in Deep Space Nine is essential viewing, and “A Time to Stand” is no exception. It introduces us to the early part of the Dominion War, and spends a good deal of time setting the stage for the next several episodes. While this may cost the episode in areas like Social Commentary and Cool Stuff, it is a very necessary episode that sets a somber tone while getting the audience ready for a great thrill ride that is to come.

The special dedication for this episode
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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