Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine, season seven. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:
1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect
In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.
Jack, Lauren, Patrick, and Sarina, the genetically-engineered Humans, return to the station, asking Bashir to help rouse Sarina from her cataleptic state.
Air date: 10/26/1998
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Jonathan West
“So what’s a genetically enhanced girl supposed to do when she wakes up from a long sleep? Point to one of those specks of light out there, pack a bag, and go make a life for herself?” – Sarina
This Bashir episode, a sequel to sixth season’s “Statistical Improbabilities”, is a character based story reminiscent of “Flowers for Algernon” that’s predictable but sweet. The “Jack Pack” returns (with a hilarious first scene that shows how easy it is to impersonate an admiral), although Faith C. Salie had to audition all over again for Sarina, the nonspeaking member of genetically enhanced group she played the first time around who this time speaks, sings, and drives the story forward. Fortunately, she proved herself up to the task to the producers (because God knows DS9 has no reluctance to recast), and she returns to give an impressive performance. Her innocence is refreshing and her rebirth leaves a lot of territory to be mined by the writers. How will she integrate into society? How will she adapt to social situations? How will she deal with people who lie, cheat, and bully? Will Counselor Dax help her? The writers, however, choose not to dig very deep and keep the story somewhat simple, uneventful, and forgettable. It’s a bit of a shame, because the actress, despite debuting in “Statistical Improbabilities” as little more than an extra, seems capable of being much more than being a plot device for lonely Dr. Bashir.
Treachery, Faith and the Great River: 8
Odo finds himself caught in the middle between two Weyouns.
Teleplay by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Story by Philip Kim
Directed by Steve Posey
“I don’t think the universe is ready for two Weyouns.” – Odo
More or less a Jeffrey Combs vehicle, this variation of the “evil twin” idea features two new Weyouns (Combs), with one, of course, being evil and the other being good (which makes him a dangerous rebel in the eyes of the Dominion).
Good Weyoun gets the A story with Odo, a variation of the old “Sheriff taking the prisoner from point A to Point B” tale, which, as usual, allows for a lot of conversation. Auberjonois and Combs work well together, and after some character-building banter, the writers give them something of particular interest to talk about that will factor into the future of the season. (There’s also a nice effects sequence with their shuttle that’s reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon’s trip through the asteroid belt.)
Meanwhile, the other Weyoun works with Damar (Casey Biggs) to stop Odo from reaching the Federation with his prisoner. Combs and Biggs are also particularly good together, better than Combs and Alaimo (which is probably the chief reason Damar has displaced his former leader). Biggs has an at ease style that works well with Combs’s paranoid persona. As the two interact, Damar introduces Weyoun to a form of trickery new to the Dominion, and it’s fun to see Weyoun head down the slippery slope and wonder where he’ll land.
The C story is a comedy runner with Nog and Chief O’Brien that’s really just a redo of Nog’s scavenger hunts in “Progress” and “In the Cards”. Despite that, the story works fine because it’s mostly about O’Brien’s reactions to Nog’s offscreen actions (with Colm Meany having the best facial expressions), and it’s short enough to avoid overstaying its welcome.
All three stories are nicely interwoven, giving the episode a nice balance between the comedy and drama. As they build toward their resolutions, savvy viewers will probably guess how each thread will end, but that’s because there’s only one way each can end. Nonetheless, “Treachery, Faith and the Great River” is a clever title for a fun hour of television.
Once More Unto the Breach: 8
The old Klingon warrior Kor finds his efforts to play a part in the Dominion war stymied by General Martok.
Air date: 11/9/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Allan Kroeker
“Know this Worf, Kor is your responsibility. I want nothing to do with him.” – General Martok
This Klingon episode featuring Worf and Martok is most notable for being the last appearance of Kor (John Colicos), Star Trek’s first Klingon, whose roots go back to the original series episode “Errand of Mercy”. (He also appears in the animated series, voiced by James Doohan.) Taking place largely aboard a Klingon Bird of Prey, the substance of “Once More” is hardly anything new for Klingons; we get the petty bickering, mess hall insults, a battle, and the required variation of “a good day to die”. But working its way through all the old clichés, the plot is a thing of beauty that’s well written by Ron Moore and nicely performed by the cast.
Like “Soldiers of the Empire”, the point of the episode is to set up an underdog for an elusive victory. But this time it’s more personal, because it’s not about a ship, it’s about Kor. John Colicos, in his third DS9 episode, does a magnificent job closing the door on the famous Dahar Master before his own passing in March of 2000. Meanwhile, J.G. Hertzler nearly steals the show, playing Martok with such gravitas you’d swear he’s the one who once went toe to toe with Captain Kirk. Like in “Soldiers”, Martok serves as a bit of an antagonist, but whereas there his motivation there is unclear, here he gets a well written back story that allows us to understand where he’s coming from.
But it’s Neil Vipond as Derok, Martok’s servant, who proves the biggest surprise. Vipond doesn’t have a lot of screentime early, and it’s easy to dismiss him as unimportant, but he does the most with the least, setting up his importance later with a subtlety that’s easy to miss the first time around.
Throw in Michael Dorn, bringing his umpteen years of experience as Worf to the table, and you get a Klingon episode that, in the spirit of Henry V, goes once more into the breach and savors the fruit of victory.
The Siege of AR-558: 8
During a supply run to a small planet, Sisko and some of his people help Starfleet defend a subspace relay (AR-558) from the Dominion.
Air date: 11/16/1998
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
“There’s only one order, lieutenant. We hold.” – Sisko
In the spirit of Zulu (1964), Platoon (1986) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), DS9 presents this ground-based battle story featuring Sisko, some of his people and several guest stars. Similar to “Nor the Battle to the Strong” (and, like that, taking place largely in the cave set), it’s gritty, depressing, and sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense. In other words, it’s a lot like war.
Directed by Vietnam Veteran Winrich Kolbe, the story takes place on a small planet where a demoralized group is defending a MacGuffin. Sisko takes over as the military leader, often voicing his thoughts to Quark who has tagged along to please the Nagus (and because the writers want him there as a civilian surrogate). Nog, Bashir, and Dax are also included (also chosen by the writers because of their lack of battle experience) and as the story moves along, the regulars become entangled with the guest stars. Bill Mumy (who played Will Robinson on Lost in Space as a child and Lennier on Babylon 5 as an adult), guest stars as Kellin, a good natured crewman, while Patrick Kilpatrick plays Reese, a tough guy, and Raymond Cruz plays Vargas, an officer suffering deep psychological trauma. They’re all one time appearances, but its clear these aren’t people who will suddenly be okay at the end of the hour, and these aren’t situations that will suddenly be forgotten next week. While DS9 will move on to tell other stories, the trauma of what is essential a mini war movie is something that lives on far past its screen time. It’s the sort of Star Trek episode only Deep Space Nine could do, because of all the captains only Sisko would get his hands so dirty.
Scored by Paul Baillargeon, the music serves the episode like Adagio for Strings serves Platoon, a melancholy overlay that enhances the action through its disconnection. It’s a fitting choice, because the episode itself, like Adagio for Strings, is not intended to be enjoyable. In the end, the various elements come together to create what the writers are really shooting for: poignancy.