Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine, season six. 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.
Statistical Probabilities: 7.5
A group of eccentric genetically engineered people visit the station, and Bashir takes an interest in their dark predictions for the future.
Air date: 11/24/1997
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Pam Pietroforte
Directed by Anson Williams
“Well, I’d love to stay and chat about our impending doom but…” Dr. Bashir
If a Star Trek writer ever got together with Samuel Beckett and Isaac Asimov to write a play, it would probably look something like this. With its simple settings, emphasis on character, and repetitive material, much of “Statistical Probabilities” seems more like what you’d expect to see on a stage than in Star Trek; but it works well as a simple Bashir episode and a nice followup to “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”.
The plot of the episode stems from the arrogance of those who think they know better than others, a cornerstone trait of society. From sports to the economy to technology, there are always those who claim that statistics and past experience will allow them to predict the future with 100% accuracy and get testy with those who doubt what they have to say. Yet even the most intelligent of people inadvertently make assumptions that turn out to be false. It’s the contrast between Bashir’s “non linear dynamics”, where the accuracy of a prediction becomes more reliable the farther in the future you go (like the prediction that flipping a coin over and over will lead to similar occurrences of both heads and tails), and the butterfly effect, where small actions by individuals in the present can have enormous consequences in the future. “Statistical Probabilities” looks at both sides of the issue and has a lot of fun in the process, with Anson Williams (Potsie on “Happy Days”) directing the first of his six Star Trek episodes.
Is it difficult to buy that Starfleet would trust three mentally unstable individuals with detailed intelligence reports or that Deep Space Nine would allow Weyoun and Damar to sneak around the station for clandestine meetings? Sure. Is the episode still compelling? Absolutely.
The four new guest stars, after establishing themselves here, return for the seventh season episode “Chrysalis”.
The Magnificent Ferengi: 7
When Quark’s mother is captured by the Dominion, Quark leads a team of Ferengi to attempt to get her back.
Air date: 12/29/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Chip Chalmers
“A child, a moron, a failure, and a psychopath. Quite a little team you’ve put together.” – Brunt
It would seem the perfect plot for a Ferengi comedy: the Grand Nagus is captured by the Dominion, and all the recurring Ferengi characters band together to save him. Unfortunately, with Wallace Shawn unavailable, the writers are forced to substitute Quark’s mom. It doesn’t make much sense. (Why would the Dominion want Quark’s mom?) But the episode isn’t really about the captive anyway; that’s just a plot device. Like The Magnificent Seven, the 1960 classic Western film, it’s about the diverse set of characters who gang up together to accomplish a mission.
And then there’s the antagonist: Iggy Pop. With his Midwestern accent, he sounds nothing like the Vorta that have appeared before, yet he’s got a deadpan delivery and charming awkwardness that work for the race.
As the story progresses (finding its way to Empok Nor, Deep Space Nine’s sister station), the Ferengi, naturally, do everything wrong, and there are a lot of funny moments. But as is often the case with Quark, there are genuine heroic moments as well, turning what could be a farce into a semi-serious episode. The Ferengi all but admit that people don’t have enough respect for their culture, and they view this as a opportunity to prove the public wrong. (The chance does take a hit when they kill their own prisoner and have to do the “Weekend at Bernie’s” thing.)
In the end, good wins because evil is stupid, but it’s not like they advertised this one as “The Best of Both Worlds”. As a Ferengi comedy, it succeeds just fine.
Sisko is severely injured and trapped alone on a deserted planet with Dukat, who becomes increasingly unstable.
Air date: 1/5/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
“Benjamin, just a few hours ago I was a prisoner on my way to trial and you were my dear old friend come to visit me in my cell. Now look at us. I’m free, and you’re a prisoner of your own battered body.” – Dukat
Following up on “Sacrifice of the Angels”, this Dukat/Sisko episode is a classic “elevator” episode, though not quite as literally as “The Forsaken”. In the more Star Trek way, the two characters are stuck on a planet (the cave set) waiting for rescue. The point, of course, is to allow the dialogue to carry the show, and Moore, Alaimo, and Brooks bring the goods, resulting in one of Star Trek’s better bottle shows.
The interesting thing is that it starts off as if the writers are backing off of Dukat going crazy, like they’re trying to tell us to forget the events at the end of “Sacrifice”. Then then proceed to bring alive the voices in his head through a chorus of personalities played by Weyoun, Damar, and Kira. It’s a device that illuminates Dukat’s mind in a unique way that even a monologue could not achieve. Within its construct, Weyoun represents Dukat’s feelings of inadequacy, Damar represents his pride, and Kira represents his self doubt. As the episode progresses, we move from Dukat’s need for validation to his self satisfaction at finally defining himself, which leaves us realizing he’s even crazier (and more dangerous) than we first thought.
While all this is going on, there’s a short B story with the Defiant about the search for Sisko. While the meat and potatoes of the episode lies with Dukat’s self-exploration, the Defiant story includes a classic fake-out moment, and the two stories strike the perfect balance for what they each are.
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