Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Drake) – Season 1, Episode 8 – The Passenger

Whoosh goes the runabout to start the episode containing Kira and Bashir. We have a conversation regarding some medical miracle that Bashir performed, and Kira was amazed by it. However, Bashir is graceless and amazes even himself. I kinda remember liking this guy after a point so hopefully he levels out. Then a distress signal is received.

They find a ship and start to rescue the occupants, but it’s apparently a prison transport ship with one prisoner and they attempt and fail to save him. In the prisoner’s death throes, he grabs Bashir by the neck and says “Make. Me. Live,” before expiring.

I now remember this episode. I don’t remember it fully, but I recall that the prisoner has transferred himself into Bashir somehow, and the plot of the episode deals with that. It’s a often used trope in sci-fi, but let’s see if the episode has any merits despite that, and how good my memory is.

The prisoner guard obsessively demands multiple proofs of the prisoner’s death as Bashir shows her the body, stating that he’s faked his death many times, that his intention was to get to DS9, and she has been chasing him for 20 years. I shall call her Javert.

Oh a chunky ceramic mug shaped like a flask, I kind of remember these being in fashion in the early-to-mid 90s. There have been several chunky mugs so far in the series.

Another lovely philosophical bar conversation between Quark and Odo, touched off by Jadzia’s presence. Why do writers write so many philosophical scenes in bars? Also why is the sound always so good for recording in these bars?

So, Odo mentions a Diridium shipment[1] to Quark during the conversation, and man in Federation uniform perks his ears up. The conversation and the ambiance of the scene flows nicely to stage the next bit.

Quark walks off to sit next to Jadzea after she smiles at him and the Federation security official walks over to Odo and starts giving him a dressing down about mentioning the shipment directly to Quark, while Quark is still in earshot. I think this was a subplot to discredit Odo and get him relieved of his job, but it turns out that it was a lame attempt to create tension and throw suspicion on the new character. They walk off to discuss it further. Odo says to discuss it in his office at a later time, 1700.

This security guy is giving off a strong gamma vibe.

Cut to Bashir, Kira, Sisko, and Dax discussing the dead prisoner’s autopsy. The race is called the Kobliat and they need this Diridium to survive. So the prisoner was here to hijack the shipment.

I just talked to Phill and he’s watched a bit more than I have of the episode, and he let slip that this is a heist episode. I may be wrong about Bashir. It could be that someone else was meant to revive the prisoner somehow as part of the heist. Perhaps Javert herself. I suspect that the Federation security officer may be in on it too.

Lieutenant security guy and Sisko have a chat, basically laying out character motivation. Security guy sees Odo as a country bumpkin, unable to handle the situation. Sisko disagrees.

Lieutenant security guy meets up with Odo, and is surprisingly apologetic, they shake hands and are ready to look at Odo’s plans when the DB comes up empty. The entire station DB has been wiped, which Odo says is impossible![2] Inspector Javert says that the Fugative did this on Rigel VII.

Commercial break

Interesting discussion of how the entire system was scanned, with apparently some misunderstanding on the part of the writers about how computer systems work, but it’s not completely unbelievable. Meeting concludes under the assumption that the Fugitive is alive.

Now a Odo and Sisko discussion. “I like where a man stands. There’s never been any question of that with you.” Odo’s unhappy about the Federation assistance. But Sisko decrees that Odo’s in charge.

Someone tried to break into the prison ship’s cargo bay, perhaps for a map of the humanoid brain.[3]

Strange scene with Quark complaining about his employees not doing a good job he sends them off and continues working alone, he’s then assaulted by someone who is apparently the Fugitive, but they disguise him so that you do not recognize his form and he whispers to disguise his voice. Quark had a deal with him. I do think that it’s Bashir here.

So, Javert missed a meeting with Bashir last night, perhaps when the Fugitive was meeting Quark. Could it be her that he’s invaded, or is this to throw us off? Medical report indicates that the Fugitive is dead. Dax calls Bashir to come to provide some medical advice. Now we get down to the Fugitive’s plan to hide in another person’s brain, and we hear Bashir relate the popular myth that a humanoid only uses a small portion of his brain, and they hypothosize that another entity could hide in the “unused portion” of Javert’s brain she being the same species makes it more compatible. So they leave her out of the security preparations, and surveil her, but only using the computer, which they know is compromised. I still think it’s Bashir. Javert comes to Odo complain about being locked out, and he explains that access is limited to 4 people, himself, Kira, Sisko, and the Federation security guy.

Cut to an after hours meeting in Quark’s bar.[4] Planning the heist of the shipment. Javert is spying on them and falls – what? why? how? In medical, she claims she was pushed by the Fugitive. They are looking for the method of transfer. For some reason that’s important to know to be able to find him in someone else. Now Dax has found the method.

Odo meets with Kira and is looking for the Federation security guy, who was meant to meet with Kira but hasn’t shown up. Maybe the security guy is in on it overt wink.

Back to Quark working on the heist… And we find that my memory was right, because Bashir is waiting for them. Dramatic cut to commercial.

Dax is looking for Bashir who has left his communicator in the infirmary.

Odo finds the Federation security guy who seems to be on the right track with the security situation, and has prevented a device from causing an hour-long shutdown of station systems.

The shipment is coming in and they redirect the ship to an alternate bay, but send security to both the original bay and newly designated one.

A runabout is going out to meet the shipment. Dramatic irony because we know full well what it’s doing, of course the crew has a good idea as well. Dax comes in saying Bashir is missing, and we are told by the computer that he authorized the launch of the run about.

Cut to heist action. The station locks a tractor beam on them. The Fugitive decides to engage the engines to prevent the tractor beam from pulling them in, and threatens to take the ship to warp, killing everyone on board, though presumably he has a plan for he himself to survive. They can’t use transporters as the cargo ship’s shields are up, they can’t risk firing on it because it could release diridum, which would require evacuation of the system.[5] Also the cargo ship going to warp while caught in a tractor beam would do that, which they neglect to mention until later. The actor who plays Bashir does a very good job of sounding weird, speaking in a strange, halting cadence. Now they try to find a way to release Bashir, with some techno babble about resonating with the shields. This works as expected due to the episode almost being over, and they beam the doctor out after he lowers the shields.

They beam the Fugitive’s special brain cells into a containment device which they return to Javert who destroys it and all is well, apparently.[6]

Final grade: B

All in all, this was a good and fun episode, I really enjoyed it despite some quirks, and it was fun not knowing it was Bashir the first time I watched it. As it was, I saw it so long ago that I had some doubts. They didn’t cheat the mystery by hiding what you needed to know. I’d say it was more of a mystery episode rather than a heist episode, and mystery episodes are something I like about Star Trek, and Doctor Who.

1. Why would there be shipments of anything, or anything resembling this kind of commerce in a post-scarcity society? If this really was a post scarcity society, this episode would make no sense. Why can’t they just replicate it? I don’t think they even when with the plot convenience that this substance was difficult to replicate.

2. Having DB admin knowledge, this is totally possible, it’s just unlikely that someone who has access would do it, and that someone who would do it has access.

3. I realize now that in Star Trek, “humanoid” is stand in for “human,” so that’s why things like diseases are “cross-compatible” among different species.

4. The fact that it has after hours and isn’t open 24/7 is interesting.

5. What? Why? It’s essential for these people but it’s like toxic or something? How come every shipment of everything is somehow dangerous?

6. This is odd, what really was left of the Prisoner? They leave it relatively open ended but are somehow okay with this destruction of whatever it is, when she was transporting him alive previously.

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Phil) – Season 1, Episode 8 – The Passenger

I’m a bit torn on this one. Deep Space 9 still has not gotten to suspend my disbelief while watching the show, and because of that I’m constantly noticing and being annoyed by lots of little things that might be forgiven if I were to be drawn into the show.

Generally, these annoyances are due to poor planning, poor writing, and poor execution. DS9 has had a lot of that up to this point, and I’ve been poking at it over and over. This episode is different.  Not different as in “good,” but maybe different as in, “oh, good, they are trying something else, and they really came out and swung for the fences this time, and oh, wow, did they face plant.”

Primary Plot

The Passenger is a “Heist” or “Caper” episode. It isn’t a perfectly straightforward heist episode, as it isn’t told from the perspective of the criminals at all. It fits with the general Star Trek paradigm of the good guys trying to figure out what is going on, while the Heist episode is taking place in the background or off-camera. Maybe it is a reverse-heist?

Regardless, it starts off in trouble, as nearly every episode has so far. Doc Bashir has to explain why the tricorder didn’t give a correct reading on someone who was dead, and the doctor explains that tricorders work really well on living patients, but not so well on dead ones. Doc pulls the patient through, alive, using his own superior medical knowledge and training and not relying on the fickle technology.

This little bit seems like a throw-away line, background filler and maybe a little world building, while they work to rescue an individual and her unconscious prisoner from a disabled ship that is on fire. But even on an hour-length show (minus commercials), TV generally doesn’t have time for completely frivolous throw-away lines, nor do they spend the money on writing and filming and editing and doing post-production on stuff that doesn’t really matter. This betrays us in two ways.

From this first scene, we know that there is going to be some chicanery with determining who is alive or dead. Not the end of the world. We can live with that.

The far worse part of this throw-away line that isn’t is that it also undermines your belief in the advanced technology of the Star Trek universe. That is neither here nor there as it relates to this particular episode, but it probably isn’t a wise idea generally.

The rest of the episode proceeds reasonably well. I’m never really drawn into it, I never suspend my disbelief, but they do work this one very well—professionally, even. They juggle lots of little pieces that are all coming together for the big reveal. There are some reasonably rapid cuts. There are separate scenes from the criminal viewpoint, mostly dealing with Quark, that give us some insight and let us know things are serious and this guy really isn’t to be messed with. Quark is reticent to participate, but he is also scared not to.

The use of musical queues is good to try to help ramp up tension. Normally in Star Trek (TNG, DS9 so far, and the Original Series), they overdo the fake drama and the creepy music or the “dun dun duh!” queue as a cliffhanger right before commercial. Here, in The Passenger, I felt they were a little better. I was appreciative of what they were trying to do.

However, it is all for naught. The entire episode still is a boring train wreck, try though they might, because they are betrayed by the setting. Yes, Star Trek let them down this time. Maybe a great writer could have saved this episode. I’m not sure. I’m not a great writer, and I know I couldn’t fix it.

The Problem

The problem with The Passenger, with this episode, is that because we’re dealing with a setting in which the audience isn’t intimately familiar with all the details, everything must be explained. I know we’ve got Trek fans out there who can baffle with bull all about the technical designs of Jeffrey tubes in the warp nacelles (no idea what those are, actually, and I’m not looking them up). But most of the audience (and even most of the extreme die-hard techies) don’t have a good grasp on all the options that are available or what all the mystery tech does everywhere at all times. Usually, we get a “Star Trek problem” with some techno-babble, and then we get a “Star Trek solution,” also with technobabble.

This is impossible in a heist. If you have to stop every 45 seconds to talk out the whole thing of what you are doing so the audience can follow along, you lose the audience. If your default go-to is techno-babble, you have to ramp up the techno-babble, but then you have to explain it or show it or have someone else react to it, usually with other techno-babble.  The characters can react well with this with good writing and direction, and Trek has a lot of experience making this sort of thing work.

But it doesn’t work at all for a heist. The tension in the heist comes from not knowing how they are going to pull it off, then watching them work around disastrous failures in the “simple” plan, improvising, catching up on the timing, etc. In a heist, you know they’ll succeed, or if they don’t, it’ll be a satisfying loss, and you enjoy the ride.

Here, you sit through explanation after explanation of techno-babble. What else can they do? How else can you make that work in Star Trek?

Well, you have to go even more simple than normal. Everything has to be intuitive. The tech of Trek can’t be part of the plot of a heist episode. It has to just be background filler. And that’s where everything breaks here.

The plot here has a MacGuffin that can be used to take over and hijack the consciousness of another body. It preserves consciousness after physical death and provides a neat host for him to continue living. It is a complicated piece of technobabble tech, and it ruins everything, even though the plot didn’t involve someone faking their own death as I thought it would initially.

They really do pull out all the stops trying to make it work. You’ve got Federation security having a turf fight (maybe a scuffle, really) with Odo trying to secure the object of the heist. You have limited info on what the different parties are doing, although with a little more exposition than might be ideal as Odo explains himself to others, etc.

Regardless, they do give it the ol’ college try. I can respect that. They stepped up to the plate, they took a big slice, and they hit a pop-up to deep center. They were out on the fly ball, retiring the inning in one tragic failure.

But man, they swung.

Other Thoughts

I don’t like Doctor Bashir. He just isn’t doing it for me. He is as two-dimensional as Dax but without the complicated backstory.

Often the doctor is the best role on a Trek show. McCoy was fantastic, always, and a great foil to Spock. The hologram doctor in Voyager was a hoot. I remember him and always loved him. Doctor Phlox in Enterprise is an excellent character and one of the most enjoyable and engaging of any character in the Trek universe.

Even Doctor Crusher I liked. She did a very good job. I remember Doctor Polanski (spelling?) less on TNG, but she was always good, competent, warm enough, etc.

Doctor Bashir just isn’t doing it for me. He doesn’t have enough character background to like or work with. Perhaps I don’t particularly care for the gentleman who plays him, or maybe he just hasn’t found the character yet. But for me, he doesn’t have the spark, the charisma, the panache, or whatever it is that he needs to find to work. He’s supposed to be a handsome, debonair, dashing womanizer, and yet he just keeps coming out flat for me.

Doctor Bashir needed to carry this episode, and he didn’t. He sets up the premise at the start, and it is he that gets possessed by the alien with the personality-saver-MacGuffin, and no one really cared. The new personality threatened to kill the doctor to pressure Sisko into giving in and Sisko didn’t even hesitate to call his bluff. There was no, “lose the doctor? Wait, oh no!” moment. Just a “go ahead, you’ll die too.”


Final Grade:  D

I’m torn between rating this one a D and a C+. Giving credit for trying to stretch and risk is always good and worthwhile, but we’re talking about a show that is thirty years old at this point.

We have not talked about my rating scale, so maybe this is the time to do that. Everyone is already familiar with the A, B, C, etc., grading scale that I’m using. But what does it all equate to?

Well, a C is purely average. It is watchable, but not great. Odds are that any given alternative that happens to be available to you is better quality or more enjoyable. In the world of streaming your favorites, a C is a death knell. Certainly, you could better spend your entertainment time elsewhere at a moment’s notice.

As for the rest, you can always look at it like a five-star rating, where an A is five stars. We have additional gradients with the +/-, but it is basically the same thing.

An “F” is a straight fail. Skip it and move on.

A “D” has terrible, massive issues, and is not worth your time unless you truly need to, for some reason.

A “C” is watchable, but not very good.

A “B” is better than average. In the modern paradigm, almost any show at least 10 years old will be better than average over modern shows, so this is not a high bar to clear.

An “A” is excellent entertainment. It is highly enjoyable and offers a lot of ongoing enjoyment with repeat viewings.

Calibrating my scale is difficult for this, as I tend to watch mostly sitcoms for television shows. I don’t do well with “fake drama” and reality TV absolutely kills my interest with it. However, in no particular order, here are several shows to help calibrate my scale.

The Mandalorian – Solid B with a lot of B-.  It has some pieces that are a little higher or lower. It is pretty good, not great.

Firefly – the worst episode of Firefly was The Train Job, and I would probably rate that a B+. Everything else was all A work.

M*A*S*H – one of my favorite shows, it does humor, drama, nostalgia, feel-good, introspection, and sorrow. It is also a wildly mixed bag, with several episodes being in the Cs, but overall the show was quite exceptional. I would give the show at least an A-, if not higher. For me, M*A*S*H has the most A+ rated episodes of any show I’ve ever seen.

The Office – overall a pretty good show with more than its fair share of stinker episodes, I’d probably give The Office a C+/B-.

How I Met Your Mother – A-. It was dragged down by the last season, particularly the final couple of episodes.

From the Earth to the Moon – A+ HBO docu-drama on the Apollo Program by Tom Hanks, post-Apollo 13.

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Phil) – Season 1, Episode 7 – Dax

Initially, I was not really certain what to make of this episode.  It isn’t good, but I’m not going to rant.  I was mostly uninterested throughout.  There are a few items I’d like to touch on, but this will likely be a shorter column from me.

Primary Plot

The primary plot is about politics. Politics and the interactions of politics, treaties, and legalities between three imaginary political bodies, only one of which had I any inkling of prior to starting this WatchParty project. If you’re into this sort of thing, and you’re deeply familiar with the universe/setting, this may be a great episode for you.  If not, well…

As a comparison, what if the plot was about an attempted kidnapping by the Tamil Tigers of a Canadian diplomat in Australia for some reason.  It might make a pretty good yarn, but I’m not going to be tempted to pay much attention.

Anyway, some aliens kidnap Dax as an “extradition” attempt for a crime that the previous version of Dax, before the current, attractive trap became Dax.  See?  You already don’t care, don’t you?

Why the kidnapping attempt if there is a mandatory extradition treaty (apparently there is, with the Federation).  Because technically they are on Bajoran soil on DS9.  Technically.  So, we have to go through a whole song and dance and have a hearing on whether or not Dax could and should be extradited and what it all means for the future.

There are a couple of decent things that come out of this episode.  The first is this woman:

Grade AA juevos on this chikadee

She’s a delight in everything I’ve ever seen her in.  I’m ashamed to say I can’t name a single other thing I’ve seen her in, and I could not tell you her name.  But every time she’s on screen on something I happen to be watching, she always does a great job.  She’s natural, fantastic, and just hits it out of the park.  She’s a joy in this episode, and probably the single best actor on a DS9 set so far (John De Lancie as Q is right with her—it’d be a fun argument).

In this particular episode, she’s a bureaucrat who hates bureaucracy. She’s old and doesn’t want to waste time with formal fluff. She wants short answers, plain language, and getting to the point. She’s a breath of fresh air as a judge for any courtroom drama on TV anywhere, and in the Star Trek universe she’s like a 1.21-gigawatt beacon of common sense blasting out from the middle of a fetid, damp, dank swamp of bureaucratic malaise. Her best line is, “I intend to be here to supper, not senility.” She’s Grade AA.

The other thing worth mentioning in they do get into some reasonably interesting, and possibly even thought-provoking territory about what it means to be a person. Since the Trill are a symbiont consisting of a host and a space-cockroach-possessor, and since the crime took place prior to the current host even being born, who is at fault, who is guilty, etc.? This could have been explored more, and had some potential pro-life arguments too, which, come to think of it, may be why they dropped it and moved on. In 1993 abortion was still a very much hotly debated issue, and even if they wanted to talk about it on Star Trek, they damn sure wouldn’t have wanted to come down on the pro-life side of things.

Regardless, the entire political and legal maneuvering of the entire episode comes to naught. Why? Because the murder they want to try Dax for didn’t involve Dax at all. It comes out that Dax was banging the wife of the guy he-Dax was thought to have murdered, and this is revealed by the bangee wife to get now she-Dax off. 

I’m sensing a trend here with the writers.  They try to come up with something complicated (failing), let it all play out, and then have a “twist,” that surprises you. But the twists they keep coming up with end up undermining the entire plot of the episode and making it all irrelevant.  When they do that with Indiana Jones, you get all the fun of an Indiana Jones movie out of it.

Affected the plot not at all, but we got a great ride out of it.

When they do that with Clue and show you three different endings and keep showing you all the potential holes of the plot, but they do so cleverly with fun and humor (and Yvette… oh Yvette), you get all the fun of a Clue movie.

There there, Yvette… It’ll all turn out alright.

When they do it with DS9, you Sisko and the impotent Federation just kinda stumbling through it all.

This episode had about 5 minutes of content in it.  Let’s play a little Clue and show you how it could have happened:

  • Kidnappers attempt to kidnap Dax.
  • Dax abduction thwarted.
  • Kidnappers try to claim extradition.
  • Kidnappers have no extradition treaty with Bajor, hence the kidnapping.
  • I would suspect that kidnapping is illegally universally. Attempts to kidnap on Bajoran soil under joint Federation administration is illegal in both Bajor and Federation territory.
  • Arrest kidnappers for breaking the law.
  • Kidnappers assert diplomatic immunity.
  • Sisko allows kidnapper gov’t to send diplomats to assert diplomatic immunity case while holding actual kidnappers in jail.
  • Sisko Persona-Non-Gratas kidnappers when pressed, kicking them out of Federation space permanently.
  • Kidnapper gov’t can now send a diplomatic envoy to press an extradition claim to both the Federation and Bajor. Since they’ve already attempted to kidnap the target, this will be an uphill battle to prove that the extradition attempt isn’t in bad faith.

This does several things:

  1. It makes Sisko look smart and competent, instead of stupid and impotent.
  2. It keeps Dax safe for years. This isn’t going to play out quickly.
  3. It provides a recurring plot point and complication to play out over the course the show. Dax is involved in something, have a vague legal threat hanging over her head… I’m sure it could be played up to be actually interesting.
  4. It avoids a silly “infidelity saves the day” ending while also ramping up some of the political drama and providing a “model U.N.” real diplomatic piece for the Star Trek nerds to nerd out about.

Instead, we have lame, dumb Sisko who can’t assert himself. He’s impotent and he knows it, and through him we know it of the Federation too. Maybe there’s a reason Sisko got the job out in the ass-end of space at DS9. Maybe he did fail upwards, and the rest of the Federation doesn’t really suck.

I guess we’ll find out.

Other Thoughts

It turned into a rant, didn’t it?  Oh bother…

Final Grade:  D-

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Drake) – Season 1 Episode 7 – Dax

Dax gets captured by some aliens and Bashir attempts to fend them off but fails in the cold opening.

D.C. Fontana wrote the teleplay, interesting. She wrote some of the original series and Next Generation, though a teleplay credit means she converted someone else’s story to a television script.

The station crew is trying to prevent the kidnappers kidnappers escape, but unsurprisingly failed. Neat looking ship the kidnappers have, I think it was used in a few Next Generation episodes. I know it’s in the CCG. Wow, the tractor beam worked to reel the kidnappers back in, that did surprise me.

Somehow this is supposed to be a legit extradition?? You don’t just kidnap someone, that’s not how extradition works.

I’d have thrown them off the station for that, and not even considered their extradition, forcing them to send a new request. There’s no way the Federation would allow arbitrary kidnapping.

Good, Bajoran authority seems to be prevailing here, denying the kidnapping. I say good because it gets the audience what we want, but it’s legally the right move anyway.

“Which not only compromised Bajoran security, but also … annoys us.” says Kira in a very good Kirk style. Not just the words and the inflection, but the cadence, too.

So they’re going to have an extradition hearing, fair enough except for the whole kidnapping thing! But we’d still be here anyway once a proper request was made.

For whatever reason they’re planning on having the hearing in the Prommenade. It’s a small station (by my perception) and they’re being cheap on sets.

In order to use the Prommenade and there are some sort of weird building regulations governing the station which is very weird. I would think no one would be able to “construct” anything on a station of this size without a station authority approving it in the first place. That’s not how it would work. At all. I guess they could have used some sort of sanitation codes or something. Whatever, it’s stupid, moving on.

After Quark relents to government strong-arming we can proceed. I’ll admit that I probably enjoyed the smack down Odo puts on Quark when I watched this the first time, and it gets us where we need to be plot wise, but my desires for limited government are screaming inside, despite my opinion that any “building” on the station should be centrally controlled.

The case hinges on whether Jadzia is the same person as Kurzon. I think she clearly Isn’t, but also that legality should have been Established on Trill a long time ago.

Odo was sent to Klystron IV [1] to spy… err, Investigate.

So the prosecution has evidence that the defense isn’t privy to? I know this isn’t the US here but someone hasn’t seen My Cousin Vinny, which came out in 1992, so they totally could have.

The general’s wife was surprised to learn of Kurzon’s passing.

Getting a lot of good exposition from our expert witness. some interesting arguments that I might have argued differently. Not sure if I really want to go into the minutia of it, though.

Kira’s a sir, heh.

Kirzon was having an affair with the general’s wife.

For someone who wanted to wrap things up
quickly she’s ordering a lot of recesses.

So, the general’s wife vindicates Dax. The End.

Final Grade: C+
This episode was kind of slow and boring, but the drama was good. We got some more philosophical stuff with the Trill existence, which is fascinating. I’m not sure if we had any real conclusion or not with regard to the philosophical issues, but at least it wasn’t too preachy.
1. Incorrect spelling but I like it better my way.

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Drake) – Season 1 Episode 6 – Q-less

We start off with Bashir on a date, regaling a story of some sort of test. Then there’s a call to action and he explains on the way to O’Brien that he gets chicks with his stories of medical finals. This I find absolutely preposterous, and I think I did back then, too. The sounds like some sort of gamma wish fulfillment.

Some crisis with the ship that two station crew members went out on, Dax and Polly, yet there are now 3 occupants of the ship. The 3rd occupant being, Vache! This is a character people will recognize from Next Generation, as she had some relationship with Picard. We find another character having a funny French name, for Vache means cow in French. And then we see another person in a Starfleet uniform skulking in the airlock entryway. It is Q! People familiar with Next generation ought to know who Q is. Q is among my favorite recurring characters from Next Generation. I really must digress here to explain that Q Who? was probably the second Next Generation episode I saw, and I was wondering why everybody was being so mean to this guy!

I should probably explain who Q is. He’s an omnipotent being, highly intelligent, though not omniscient. He’s immortal and can do literally anything just by thinking about it. He’s part of the Q Continuum with other beings of the same nature that are also called Q. Personality-wise, I’d say he’s how an Alpha is perceived by a Gamma. Arrogant, childlike, all-powerful. The Enterprise continually “besting” this character through intellectual exploits is an ultimate Gamma wish fulfillment. That said the character is quite impish and entertaining, and I’m always delighted when I find out he’s in an episode.

There is a mystery to the space station crew as to how Vache got to the Gamma Quadrant (heh, gamma!), Vache simply saying that she was brought there by a friend. Of course it should be obvious to the audience familiar with these characters that Q is the one that brought Vache to the Gamma Quadrant.

While under medical examination, Bashir remarks that she’s in remarkable shape, and I mutter under by breath, “for a woman of her age,” as she appears to be in her 40s. Still, she is quite beautiful. They discuss “science” and mention the Daystrom Institute which is the big place where Science is done on Earth, as I recall. Back in the 90s that was a really cool thing, the kind of place I would have loved to have been working at once I finished college. These days they probably would have renamed the institute because it was somehow racist and math is racist and learning is racist anyway.

Something sapped the power of the ship. They were on, and O’Brien runs a level 1 diagnostic, but everything checks out fine. Annoyingly, I never did figure out if level 1 was most thorough diagnostic or level 5 was. Based on context, I guessed it was 1, though. It may have been in some technical manual that I read once, but forgot. This is actually bugging me and I’m going to look it up right now…. OK, I looked it up and level 1 is the most thorough according to an answer to this question I found on Stack Exchange.

  1. Take system out of service, full shutdown, manual inspection, observed re-initialization, manual testing.
  2. Take system out of service, limited manual inspection, crew monitored automated tests.
  3. Take system out of service, minimal manual inspection, automated tests.
  4. Take system out of service, automated tests.
  5. Automated tests.

Clearly the mysterious fire crystal is the cause, in dramatic irony. We proceed through the rest of the episode with the crew tracking down the problem, in which it turns out the fire crystal is a space egg and a manta ray like creature that looks pretty cool comes out of it at the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Vache and Q are having a sort of break up fight, which is petty and annoying, and what is with that ridiculous necklace-earrings she’s wearing!?

Near the end of the Episode, Vache decides to team up with Quark to, uh “fence” priceless artifacts at (or for?) the Daystrom Institute.

Final grade B-
This is a pretty weak outing for a Q episode, though there is a great segment where Q boxes with Sisko, and Sisko drills Q for a knockdown. Q whines, “You HIT me! Picard never hit me!” To which Sisko replies, “I’m not Picard.” I remember this and would quote the lines with my high school friends. The rest of the episode is quite forgettable, and I had actually forgotten it. Q was his usual annoying self in this episode, but never his clever self like he usually is, see the excellent Next Generation episode Déjà Q for reference.

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Phil) – Season 1 Episode 6 – Q-less

OK, let’s begin again fresh and anew.  This column will not turn into a rant.  We’re going for one, people!

I know Drake was really looking forward to Q-less.  At the time I’m writing this, I have not read his column and we have only briefly touched on the episode together, so I’m not entirely sure what his take on this is going to be.

I am familiar with Q. I’ve seen at least two episodes of TNG with Q, and I even had a TNG novel involved Q given to me as a gift in late middle school or early high school.  I’m pretty sure it was Q-in-Law, but I can’t really recall.  The only thing I remember about the book was that Q’s communicator worked perfectly. It interfaced with the Enterprise’s comm system, both surprising Q, and also boring him, because he made it to be exactly like the real ones, so why wouldn’t it work?

Anyway, I generally like Q episodes. Let’s see how this one does.

Primary Plot

The intro scene with the doctor trying to charm the skirt off of some Bajoran girl is rather boring and a little sad, but it isn’t even tangential to the plot and is not mentioned again, so we can skip it. Hero O’Brien was rather disgusted by the doctor, and we can be disgusted with the writers for doing something with no bearing on anything in a boring way.  This isn’t a rant, though, so, like O’Brien, we’re moving on.

Dax returns from the wormhole with a passenger (or two) on her runabout with her, but the ship is disabled. It has lost power, life support is gone, and they’re all going to die any minute if DS9 doesn’t save them. Hero O’Brien does the Hero thing and opens up the nearest bulkhead, where, conveniently, they keep a spare capacitor that is always receiving a charge and also has a perfect match on a one-way orientation plug to shunt power not to the ship itself, but just to the door so they can unlock the clamps. Then the crew can manually pry the door open and rescue everyone. 

Safety first – always keep spare, charged capacitors laying around so you can open dead doors.

Kudos to the safety-first engineering of the 24th century. If you’re going to have overly convenient capacitors to save crew from disabled ships, stashing them all over in bulkheads were ships are likely to be on a space station seems like a wise idea. I’m glad the writers saw through that one and made it happen. If it made sense to have universal attachments for hoses on the Martian, I am glad humanity kept that good idea centuries later to enable quick rescues for just such a rare occasion in Star Trek.

The horny doctor reads three life signs on-board, although apparently Dax only told them about two. They find only two individuals inside when they go in to save them, and the third is unknownst to them but knownst to us as the camera passes by Q, again dressed in a Starfleet uniform, kneeling by the capacitor. He is missed by Sisko, Dax, Hero O’Brien, and some random woman I’m meeting for the first time. This foreshadowing, that isn’t actually foreshadowing since they revealed it to us on camera immediately, is never mentioned again, and never plays a role in the outcome of the show. I believe we’re compiling more circumstantial evidence that the writers on this show were clearly all big fans and loved Star Trek a lot. They may also have never finished high school or had taken any kind of course on creative writing.

Q, just hanging out, investigating Hero O’Brien’s handiwork, and noticed by no one.

Back to the unknown female passenger. I gather that she was on at least one TNG episode, and perhaps more than one. It sounds like she was also bedding Captain Picard, so maybe she was around for more than that. I don’t really recall Picard’s sex life ever being a big plot device on TNG, except for that time where it was revealed that he still loved (and had a past relationship with) Dr. Crusher.

Q

Q is both a highly entertaining, and a highly annoying, character. He is masterfully brought to life in a way that no other actor on Star Trek ever could. Star Trek has had some very fine actors on them, but I can’t conceive of anyone of them ever hitting Q out of the park so perfectly. It makes sense that they turned to a soap opera actor to get it right.

Q is an annoying, passive-aggressive, petulant, whiny, highly-intelligent semi-demi-god with some amazingly blind spots to just about everything. I always get the feeling that he was originally conceived of an pitched by an atheist trying to illustrate what a dumb idea was the Christian spaghetti monster in the sky. He is nearly all-powerful, he is nearly omniscient, but he has no love for anyone but himself. He is, however, plagued with temptations. He’s belligerent, bellicose, preening, insufferable, prideful, boastful, and the most spoiled little man-child ever. And again, he is played masterfully, to perfection, by someone who really knew how to spin gold from straw-level writing.

The long and the short of everything is there is a MacGuffin in the form of several objects/artifacts from the Gamma quadrant beyond the wormhole, brought back by the woman who bedded Picard. She wants to sell them for filthy lucre that humanity has moved beyond, so she ensnares Quark. She seduces him with an ear rub that results in acquiescence well beyond expected, as Quark agrees to her terms only if she will not stop rubbing his ears.  Of course, she immediately stops, but Quark is now both greedy for the lucre and also thinking with his ears, apparently, and still goes along with the deal.

Quark’s ear-job

One of the MacGuffins is causing power outages and emitting graviton particles. Combined, these two effects may destroy DS9. Everyone is blaming Q, and Q doesn’t even bother trying to deny it. Squabbling with humans is beneath him, unless it is for his own amusement.  There is a fantastic scene where he is antagonizing Sisko and challenging him to fisticuffs. Sisko punches him out, and Q is stunned and shocked that anyone would do that to him, particularly a member of Starfleet. He says, “Picard never punched me,” and seems genuinely bemused and befuddled, to which Sisko replies simply, “I’m not Picard.”

Q knocked on his butt

Q, of course, turns this again, or tries to, into a win for himself. Sisko punching Q means that Q won because he can manipulate Sisko.  Secret Kings always win, even when they lose.

Q being Q, in faces, thinking he’s intimidating.

Q also knows what is going wrong with the station. He tells no one, but lords it over the woman who came back with Dax. Q fancies her as his girl friend, and he wants her back. He wants to continue touring the galaxy with her so he can live vicariously through her and enjoy her sense of wonder at everything.

She’s tired of his crap, though, and wants him out of her life. Q points out he won’t save her anymore if that happens, but she doesn’t care. Q is selfish enough that he eventually saves her (and DS9 as well) because he still wants to play with his toy and doesn’t want her to die on him before he’s finished with her.

Q not meddling

Q isn’t really an antagonist in this episode, nor in most, as I recall. But he is not really an ally either. He a nuisance, a speed bump, and a very colorful character who is a lot of fun if you get past the initial obnoxiousness.

The entire episode is brought to a short and pointless conclusion where the source of all the problems was a space manta being born from one of the MacGuffins. It then flies away into the wormhole.

Most anti-climactic ending ever? Probably not in Star Trek.

Other Thoughts

Quark does his usual bang-up job of delivering exceptional performances under a lot of prosthetics. His body language and facial expressions come through perfectly, showing amazement, greed, lust, and a failed attempt to hide each of these emotions throughout this episode. He truly shines during the auction of the Gamma quadrant MacGuffins.

No space boobs update again this show. They had plenty going on with Q, and didn’t need them this time.

What is the deal with using tritium as a trace gas to try to track the origination of leaks via the power loss and the gravitons emitted punching holes in the station?  I mean, anything would have worked. I suppose tracking it via radiation detectors maybe was helpful? When they talk about it as a scientific plot point, the thing that most came to mind was Doc Brown explaining to Marty that “while I’m sure plutonium is available in every corner drug store in 1985, in 1955 it is a little hard to come by!”  By the 24th century, I’m sure every ship and station has a supply of tritium available just in case they have a sudden need to rapidly boost their non-existent nuclear warheads into thermo-nuclear versions.

Final Grade:  C+

This is a reasonably enjoyable episode. It has much less objectionable and/or stupid parts that must be ignored, and it does have a wonderful, iconic, and fun character returning to the Star Trek universe. But ultimately it goes nowhere, does nothing, and means nothing. The plot just kind of happens in the background, and the characters do their character things without really affecting anything.  This isn’t a bad thing. It can be very enjoyable.

This episode wasn’t bad at all.  I just wished for something a little bit “more.”

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Drake) – Season 1, Episode 5 – Captive Pursuit

Oh dear, Quark’s uh… bad contract provisions. A Dabo girl [1] is complaining to Sisko about some provisions that allowed Quark to have sexual advances with her. Libertarians would have no problems with these provisions, but Sisko won’t allow these things on his station, which I think is reasonable of Sisko.

Yay, a green alligator man from the other side of the wormhole, who looks pretty cool, frankly.

So, the computer just tells anyone where the armory is, good security.

What constable would never use a phaser? I mean, sure, he’s invulnerable to a lot of physical attacks, but he’s not all powerful; wouldn’t he like to be able to intercept miscreants and invaders at a distance?

Alligator Man Tosk gets arrested for trying to break into the armory.

Ah, Tosk is hunted for sport. This definitely seems cruel and unusual to hunt a sentient creature. Sisko says he can’t judge what is right and wrong in their world but he won’t allow it on this station. This sounds reasonable to me. The hunter says that going through the wormhole will be considered out of bounds in future, and Sisko agrees to had over Tosk, which sounds fair to me.

Tosk does not wish for asylum when they explain what it is, which reinforces the premise that the decision to turn him over is correct.

I liked something about the bar scenes here. Where O’Brien figures out to change the rules, and earlier when he got under Quark’s skin with, “Hey barkeep!” and the things Tosk says are interesting, too.

O’Brien goes rogue, leaving his comm badge!

He inadvertently gives the hunters, and Tosk what they want, and things ends up more or less all as well. I quite like how it was the right thing to do for the aliens, both parties getting what they want even though O’Brien set him loose to spite the hunters, and Sisko let O’Brien do it.

O’Brien gets a dressing down, but had a good comeback about how Sisko let them go.

Final Grade B+
I don’t really remember this episode too well, but it’s pretty entertaining and the aliens looked pretty cool. The moral issues were very interesting despite some possible hypocrisy of the messaging. I think this is a very good baseline of what a Trek episode is and should be.
1. This is not the space boobs™ Dabo girl.

Deep Space 9 WatchParty (Phil) – Season 1, Episode 5 – Captive Pursuit

Captive Pursuit starts with a bang. One of Quark’s call-girls is unhappy about her employment contract, and she is complaining about it to Commander Sisko.  Apparently, in the fine print that she didn’t read, her contract requires her to “entertain” Quark “physically.”

We never get to find out what happens with that, however, as the primary plot arrives immediately, and the entire discussion is dropped without reference again.

Primary Plot

This episode mainly follows Chief O’Brien.  A strange ship with a new alien species shows up through the wormhole. The alien ship is heavily damaged and the being inside seems rather distrusting. Since DS9 is on the fringes of the known, worth-while galaxy, normal protocols, regulations, and laws apparently don’t apply. Out there, they just kinda wing it. Dax recommends skipping first contact procedures just on a whim and Commander Sisko, apparently liking the cut of her jib, immediately approves the idea. He follows that brilliant decision up by putting Chief O’Brien as the main diplomatic contact for the unknown being.

O’Brien with Tosk

I suppose there are worse ideas than sending an engineer to conduct diplomatic relations. They could have sent Quark, after all. Engineers are generally straight shooters, and O’Brien was going to be trying to fix the guy’s ship anyway, so two birds…

The alien is reticent to talk about who he is, where he comes from, or why he’s there. He mainly responds to questions stating that he is “Tosk.” Chief O’Brien rapidly finds a soft spot for Tosk and proceeds to explain to him all about everything pertinent while repairing Tosk’s ship. O’Brien also discovers and reveals that someone has done a reasonably thorough job of shooting up Task’s ship.

For his part, Tosk makes it a point to act suspiciously and strangely, being an unknown alien. At one point he gets caught trying to break into the weapons stores. Odo stops him, bringing some Trek beefcake muscle. It is the first time that I can recall seeing someone who looks like they can physically fight on Trek, outside of Klingons. Stone Cold Steve Austin they aren’t, but they do look a little more capable than, say, Tasha Yar, to pick a name at random.

Trek Beefcake

Tosk is arrested and makes a big deal about being allowed to die with honor.

Eventually, some other aliens show up. They scan DS9 without permission, beam aboard DS9 without permission, and the DS9 crew has decided they’ve had enough. They break out the phasers, but these new aliens are crafty. They have phaser-proof armor on the fringes of their forearms!

Brilliant!

Lots of standing around and posing ensues, presumably so there are nice still frames for the effects guys to draw in the not-laser/not-blaster phaser fire in. It needs to look continuous like a laser, even though it isn’t, ‘cause this is real science-y stuff!

Phaser Pose!

The aliens hold their own for a while and are adept at convincing Federation folk to shoot at their forearms. One does wonder, however, if they are capable of making such great armor, why one doesn’t employ it in a few more places. The head and chest areas might possibly be an area to explore, for instance.

Missed that block.

Eventually, Sisko gets fed up with the whole affair, and orders the phasers turned up to LEVEL 6!!!1!! This apparently still isn’t lethal, but like the strongly worded letter from Hans Brix, Sisko needs to show he’s serious and bust some baahhs.

Odo figures out, with no exposition what-so-ever, that these guys must be after Tosk. Kira-the-Needlessly-Defiant immediately retorts, “Maybe they have a right to him!” She then continues shooting at the invaders, ignoring her own hypothesis.

Seriously, this episode is hilarious. I’m certain it wasn’t written as a comedy, but if you watch it and attempt to take it seriously at all, I guarantee you will laugh. There is great, silly theater here. I have no idea who the writers are for this season, and I’m not going to look. However, they are terrible.

Oh, and we find out that Odo, chief of security, does not and has never used a weapon.

The aliens blow a hole into the brig and capture Tosk. They then stop shooting, as does the DS9 personnel. We get a whole song and dance about how all cultures are equal and valid and noble and worthwhile, as the aliens are revealed to be hunting Tosk for sport and his only purpose in life is to die with honor, slain for entertainment for his people. The aliens breed Tosk for blood sport. They believe it is honorable to breed them, and train them, and hunt them.

Sisko actually says, “I can’t judge what is right or wrong on your world, but on this station…” giving the lie to all of it. He can, and has, judged what is right and wrong about their culture and will not allow depravity on his station. However, he immediately reneges, citing the legalities of the Prime Directive, Star Trek’s highest code of non-morality. Again, as long as it is done legally…

O’Brien comes up with a way to fix things after having a discussion with Quark. Quark starts off insulting O’Brien and insinuating he’s not taking care of his little woman. He’s also unhappy that the aliens aren’t spending in his bar or on his entertainment. O’Brien expresses his dissatisfaction with the stupidity of the Prime Directive and the alien’s culture. Quark starts to say something profound about rules being open to certain amounts of interpretation, and O’Brien latches on that he needs to change the rules.

Meeting of the minds on DS9

O’Brien gives a very nice song-and-dance about establishing good relations with other cultures, being respectful, etc., and therefore is required to personally escort and transport Tosk off the station. He ditches his communicator, physically assaults (and bests) the alien, frees Tosk, and gets him onto his ship. Tosk gets away, and hopefully lives to fight another day, or at the very least keep the chase going for a long time.

O’Brien gets a surprisingly forceful and thorough chewing out by Sisko for breaking all the rules. He assaulted the new aliens during first contact, violated the Prime Directive, lied and gave false orders to Odo, ditched his communicator so he couldn’t be ordered to cease and desist, and generally took the law and matters into his own hands. Sisko threatens him with removal from the station. It is almost like sending an intelligent and straightforward engineer may not have been the best option for this first contact mission.

O’Brien takes it all in stride. He’s not apologetic; nor is he confrontational. He nonchalantly asks a question why Sisko and Odo didn’t lock them down with a forcefield when they figured out what was happening and found where they were, and Sisko is forced to back down and swallow hard, lying that they never thought of it.

Yes, O’Brien is the true hero of DS9. He’s the one with balls. He makes the hard decisions, and he’s the one that makes things work. He’s the hero we need, but not the one we deserve.

Hero O’Brien

o7


Other Thoughts

I’m very curious about the interplay between Quark’s business establishments and members of the Federation. One presumes that Bajorans have some sort of currency or valuables that Quark would be interested in. However, the Federation has no currency. They are a post-monetary society. I distinctly remember several episodes and references to that in other series.

Quark is motivated primarily by profit. Presumably Sisko, O’Brien, the doctor, Dax, and everyone else have no moolah. They have nothing to trade.

I’m sure Quark would make and accept arrangements for power and influence in lieu of taking coin or other physical currency, but I wonder how frequently such trades could be made. How much does the crew of DS9 really have to barter with in that regard, and how long will they hold Quark’s attention? O’Brien appears to frequent Quark’s bar for beverages, at least. Just what is the trade here?

It is also revealed in this episode that Quark and O’Brien are the two main thinkers on DS9.


O’Brien exhibits entirely too much testosterone and toxic white male masculinity. He doesn’t seem to care for any of Starfleet’s and UFP’s tyrannical oppression. He’s a good man, a common man, with a decent head on his shoulders. He’s exactly the kind of guy I’d want to have as a friend in the Star Trek universe, and he’s possibly a great role model for how to get along and thrive under a “benevolent” tyranny.


What is the deal with Star Trek and shootout/gun battle scenes? Seriously, Hollywood has been making exciting shootout scenes since the early 1940s. It is a common staple of almost every single action movie ever, and it is a regular occurrence on most cop shows. There have been tens of thousands of shootouts put to film by the time this show aired in 1993, and probably literally hundreds of thousands of cast and crew members that have worked on exciting gunplay scenes in Hollywood at that time. So why do none of them ever work on any Star Trek show ever?

Instead, we get the slow-paced “posing” fights.

“Everyone stand still, hold your arm out, lock your knee, hip to one side, and ‘FREEZE!’ Hold, one, two, three, four, OK, we got it.  Next, return fire, pose, hold, one, two, three, four!  Great, thanks everyone!”

I mean, who thought that this was a good idea?  How did no one on the set, acting or directing, think that this looked good?

Awesome, great, looks fantastic! Very exciting! Very dramatic! That’s a wrap!

Why does internet culture have this as a salute?

 o7

It is anatomically terrible and uses the wrong hand, assuming the figure is facing the reader. Why isn’t something like this used as the proper salute?

<o

The correct arm is used. It is bent at the proper angles in the proper locations. It should be the obvious choice.

Final Grade:  C+

I feel like I’m starting to rant during these reviews. However, it is justified. This is a terrible episode. I did enjoy it a lot, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is terrible. It is just a mess from start to finish. O’Brien is great, O’Brien is fantastic, and O’Brien saved it. Quark has limited screen time in it as well, but what he’s got he uses fantastically. Whatever the actual situation, both of those actors are underpaid on this show and everyone else is fantastically overpaid.

From now on, O’Brien shall be referred to as “Hero O’Brien.” My wife named Major Kira “Kira the Needlessly Defiant,” and that fits like a glove. She shall be referred as such from now on as well.