Monday, August 21, 2017

Episode Review - Heart of Stone (Deep Space Nine, 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 and Odo find themselves on an unstable moon, hunting for a member of the Maquis. An earthquake traps Kira in a strange rock that threatens to slowly engulf her, and Odo is torn as several attempts to free her fail. Back on the station, Nog has completed the Ferengi Attainment Ceremony and must now purchase his apprenticeship. His choice is an odd one, as he approaches Commander Sisko with the idea that he will sponsor him as he applies to Starfleet Academy and become the first Ferengi in Starfleet. Sisko is skeptical and tries to get to the motivation of the young Ferengi’s request.

The start of Kira's trap

Score: 8/10 – I hovered between a 7 and 8 for this episode. The acting is strong, especially from Aaron Eisneberg as Nog, and the stories being told a solid. There is not too much in the way of action, but the drama is compelling for the most part. In the A story, Kira is in jeopardy while Odo desperately tries to save her from a slow but certain demise. This is meant to reveal the love that Odo has likely had for Kira for some time, and explains part of the reason that he chose to remain with DS9 instead of going to join the Great Link. The surprise twist of having Kira turn out to be the female changeling in disguise was clever, especially with not having Salome Jens name listed in the opening guest star credits. In the B story, Nog surprises many of us by asking Sisko to sponsor him as he wants to be in Starfleet. It is interesting to note that between the two story lines, it is the B story that seems to have the most impact on the overall series. Like Sisko and Dax, many of us would not have expected Nog to give up Ferengi tradition and joing Starfleet, but that is indeed what he wants. This also sets up for some great stories and development for Nog’s character, which means we will see some pretty good growth. For many fans, this is where Nog truly started to shine.

Nog makes his pitch

Relevance – 3 points. There are two significant over-arching stories that really take root here. The love between Odo and Kira really starts to bear fruit here. This scores a point. We also see Nog begin his path to becoming a Starfleet officer, so we score a point here as well. The female Changeling keeps her promise made at the start of the season when she promises Odo that she will visit him again. That scores a third point. We have reached the maximum number of points for this category, but we can also consider the first mention of Ensign Villix’Pran, a Starfleet officer that is talked about a few times but is never seen on screen. Apparently, in his yet to be identified species, the males reproduce by budding (although this could be asexual reproduction, and that could make his gender irrelevant). He is on the list of characters that we have heard about a lot but not seen, right there with Captain Boday and the Chef from “Enterprise”.

One of many attempts to free Kira

Continuity – 3 points. Seeing as how the Kira we see for most of the episode is the female Changeling in disguise, the seemingly contradictory fact of her character being in love Odo can be ignored. In fact, it was the major plot device that helped Odo figure out what was going on. As far as character continuity goes, everyone checks out here. In the B story, Sisko and Dax are understandably skeptical of Nog, and even when he accomplishes the task set before him, Sisko pushes for a better understanding as to why. Quark is understandably against Nog’s choice, and in a first, Rom stands up to his older brother. He tells Quark that while he may make the business decisions, only Rom can decide what is best for his son. For the first part of the episode, Nog seemed to be acting a little out of character with him being serious about joining Starfleet. When his reasons are finally revealed, it makes sense and points the character in an excitingly new direction. Story and universe continuity is also maintained here.

Sisko is not sure of what he is being offered

Character Development – 2 points. Of course, Odo is the main character that receives the bulk of development here. We learn about his past, how he got his name, and his true feelings towards Major Kira. We also delve further into his inner conflict between his loyalty to his friends and his desire to be with his own kind. Many other main characters receive some attention as well, and it all revolves around Nog. There is Quark who is disapproving of his nephew. He is not in favor of this development and he will continue to voice it for the rest of the series. Then there is Sisko. He is suspicious of Nog’s true motives here, and gives him some tests. When he finally gets the truth from Nog, we see another step towards the mentor role that he will come to embrace with the young Ferengi.

Odo comforts Kira near the end

Social Commentary – 3 points. Two stories, two things for consideration. In the Odo story, there is the topic of the hidden love that many of us have held at some point. We hold back on acknowledging our feelings, but they are there. Nog’s story seems to be a little more relevant for more people, With Nog’s story, we learn about wanting to be more than what is expected from us. Nog saw his father’s talents for being a skilled engineer, yet he still pursued the business life despite not having the “lobes” for it. Nog saw much of his father in himself, and decided that he was not going to wallow in mediocrity. If you want to achieve your potential, then you need to ignore what everyone expects you to do and fight for it.

The truth is revealed

Cool Stuff – 1 point. By this point seeing Odo’s shape shifting abilities is well known, so the effects are not as high on the cool factor. The rock that is engulfing Kira just didn’t work well for me, so effect wise nothing was “cool”. What I did find cool was the raw emotion that Nog showed when Sisko kept denying his request unless he gave him a good reason. He just lets it go when he yells “I don’t want to be like my father!”. His following dialogue forces us to see this misunderstood Ferengi in a new light. The point here is all due to Aaron Eisenberg’s acting skills in likely what is the defining moment for Nog.

Nog is about reveal his own truth

Rank – Captain (20 points). No explosions, no funky new aliens, no deep issues tackled, but a strong episode based on strong character development and starting some integral story lines. A great episode from the third season. 

The inventory test

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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