Monday, August 7, 2017

Episode Review - Armageddon Game (Deep Space Nine, Season 2)

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

Overview – Doctor Bashir and Chief O’Brien are on T’Lani Prime, assisting in the destruction of the Harvesters, a deadly biochemical weapon. As they work with scientists on both sides of a deadly war, Kellerun soldiers appear and start killing everyone. O’Brien and Bashir escape and are now hunted men. Meanwhile, back on the station, Sisko is informed by the ambassadors of the two sides that Bashir and O’Brien are dead following an unfortunate accident. Keiko, upon viewing the data recording of the incident, finds her husband’s actions a bit hard to believe, and soon has Sisko looking for answers.

Score: 7/10 – This is a fairly good episode from DS9’s second season. It has some suspense as O’Brien and Bashir go on the run. Miles being infected by the Harvesters adds to the tension, and the two are forced to work together to survive the ordeal. While the writers try to add to the tension with this standard plot device (incapacitate one character so they have to rely on each other to survive), the audience knows full well that neither of these main characters is going to die. Still, it is fun watching them bicker, open up to each other, and eventually trust each other. This episode, while not the first time these two characters have been paired together (that happened in the previous season’s “Storyteller” as well as racquetball combatants in the earlier episode “Rivals”), it is considered to be the beginning of the friendship that will develop between the two and become very significant over the rest of the series. There is some action, intrigue, and a few plot twists. While the storyline is fairly generic (really, you could have made an almost infinite number of stories by pairing up any two random characters), it works because O’Brien and Bashir have such great chemistry. The relationship that is started here will become one of the most realistic friendships in the franchise. There are also some nice plot twists near the end, with the final one being delivered in the closing seconds. Keiko, when she was informed of her husband’s apparent death, found that her husband was drinking coffee in the afternoon. She insists that he would never drink coffee this late in the day, and insists that the recording she saw must be a fake. This is what starts the rest of the crew on the road to rescuing O’Brien. It turns out, in the end, that Keiko was completely wrong about her husband (he does drink coffee in the afternoon), showing us that the day was saved because Keiko didn’t know her husband as well as she thought she did. Some fans love that twist, others hate it, but it definitely leaves its mark.

Relevance – 1 point. As I mentioned above, this is where the O’Brien-Bashir friendship truly begins. In previous episodes where they are paired up, it is either as rivals or in a situation that really doesn’t give them a reason to set aside differences. If you are a fan of this friendship, then you need to see this episode to watch how it all began.

Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity is always at risk when you do a story like this. People want a believable reason for two characters as different as the engineer and the doctor to get along, and the writers pull it off. Story wise everything checks out. A point is scored for universe continuity as well.

Character Development – 3 points. Definitely some big things start with the pairing of Miles and Julian. Before this episode, Miles really couldn’t stand the young, cocky doctor. It is understandable as the two have very different personalities. Then, as the story unfolds, the two starts to put aside their differences and must work together. O’Brien really shines initially as the action begins, using his military background to save himself and the good doctor. Clearly in the emergency, Bashir is out of his element. Bashir also gets some great growth, including even more respect for O’Brien. He opens up about himself and his past. Mostly, this episode does a fine job of contrasting these two. O’Brien is the realist, down-to-Earth family man, while Bashir is the starry-eyed, naïve dreamer who loves the freedom in his single status. It gives us exactly what we want from these two. We also have some good moments as the rest of the crew grieve the loss of their friends and colleagues. Most notable is Quark, who in his brief appearance adds more heart to his character than in almost the entire first two seasons combined. As only a Ferengi could, he honors his two cherished customers who always paid their bills.

Social Commentary – 2 points. Working together with someone who is totally different from you often leads to a sense of respect. Unlike other encounters between the two, O’Brien ends this episode with a newfound respect for Bashir. While such situations may not always lead to a fast friendship, this episode shows that it can.

Cool Stuff – 0 points. This is where this episode comes up a bit short for me. There are many good things about this episode, but try as I might, I just can’t think of anything that is really “cool”. The aliens look fairly run-of-the-mill for Star Trek at the time, the sets are standard, and the storyline is routine.

Rank – Captain (16 points). This is an enjoyable episode. Great writing and acting by Colm Meaney and Alexander Siddig take an otherwise typical storyline and make it a fun episode. This is a must see for Season 2.

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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