Monday, June 12, 2017

Episode Review - Behind the Lines (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 – Sisko is reassigned and must send the Defiant and her crew on a dangerous mission without him. Meanwhile, on Deep Space Nine, Kira’s resistance cell is organizing several strikes against the Dominion-Cardassian alliance, but a revelation that the mine field is close to being destroyed and the arrival of the Female Changeling puts everything at risk.

Score: 8/10 – Wow, do things heat up in this episode. Right from the beginning we see Rom and Kira watch the fallout of a cleverly obtained and placed PADD containing inflammatory material erupts in Cardassian brawl with Jem’Hadar soldiers. We also see a ritual of the Defiant crew when a discharged power cell is brought to the mess hall. It gives a sense that even with the war going badly, Sisko and his crew are keeping it together. Friction between Odo and Kira continue to grow, and the arrival of the female Changeling adds to the tension. Sisko gets reassigned and has to send Jadzia in command of the Defiant on a risky mission. We see a lot of change to some of our characters in this episode, and the limits of friendship are tested like never before. Quark gets some information out of Damar about the minefield, which leads to a funny performance as an inebriated Quark informs the resistance cell about the future of the minefield. Lots of good stuff going on, although I personally would have liked to have seen the Defiant complete its mission. Levar Burton directs this episode and finds a good balance at action and character focus, giving several of the main characters some good moments.

Relevance – 2 points. A point for Odo and the Female changeling discussing the punishment that the Link gave Odo when they made him solid a while back. This is also the episode that first shows Damar’s emerging alcoholism, an indication that not all is right with the newly promoted Gul. This is an important insight into Damar that if you are not careful you can easily overlook.

Continuity – 3 points. Story continuity works well here, as does the universe continuity. Some may argue that Odo’s behaviour is not like him, but Odo always had a weakness with regards to the link. That he would be seduced by the Female Changeling is not a stretch of the imagination. I could totally see Odo giving into the link and being distracted to the point where his priorities have changed. This means that character continuity remains intact.

Character Development – 3 points. Who sees development in this episode? Odo, Kira, Sisko, and, to lesser extents, Dax and Quark all undergo significant development. Dax is given command of the Defiant and proves herself to be a capable one. She carries on the discharged power cell ritual established at the beginning of the episode, but makes it her own. Quark shows a change in heart, finally picking a side in the current conflict. Before then, he was a strict businessman, always looking out for his profits. In this episode, he comes to the realization that the Dominion is bad for everyone, and wants the Federation back. This will be important in a couple episodes. Sisko has to watch his crew from the sidelines. You can tell he really wishes to be out there with them, but more importantly comes to the conclusion that his crew will be just fine without him. That’s a tough pill for any good leader to swallow. Odo and Kira, of course, undergo a huge change. Odo turns his back on her, and Kira with all the rage and emotion that we have come to expect from her, hits back with a vengeance. Honestly, I wondered how the two were ever able to finally put this behind them, but that is for a later review.

Social Commentary – 2 points. I think the theme found in this episode between these two stories is when to step back. In the case of Sisko, he learns with his reassignment that he is not essential to the success of his crew. He has brought them to where they are, and when he is removed from the scene, he has the bittersweet revelation that he trained his crew so well that they no longer need him. In the case of Kira, she learned (a bit too late, I may add) that sometimes the ones we care for the most must be the ones we step away from. She relied on Odo because of his past loyalties, but she had doubts and concerns aplenty leading up to Rom’s capture. Sometimes, the smartest thing to do is to step back from the relationship to help you see how much you can really count on that person.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. I have to score a point for the opening bar brawl at Quark’s. It’s quick, but brutal. The visual of a Jem’Hadar breaking the back of a Cardassian across his knee alone is worthy of a point. I also scored a point for a nice little tip of the hat to a famous “real-or-not-real” place in science fiction lore.  When Rom opens a secured hatch to access the sensor array and sabotage the Dominion’s attempt to bring down the minefield, the hatch is labeled “A51: Restricted Area”. Get it? Area 51! Ah, I love the little touches.

Rank – Captain (20 points). Like much of these first six episodes, “Behind the Lines” does not disappoint. The action may be less than previous episodes, but it is there. This time it is well balanced with character development. Yet another strong showing for the season 6 multi-part opener.

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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