Random (but not really)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Rewatching Deep Space Nine: Now I’m Sure

We just finished season five and are into season six and I always seem to forget just how good season six is.

Let’s start with one of the best episodes of the story arc, Rocks and Shoals.

Kira, Odo, Quark, and Jake are on the station with Dukat, Damar, and Weyoun. Worf is off with Martok, and everyone else is fighting a losing war with the Dominion. Sisko et al crash a disabled Jem’Hadar ship after destroying the reserves of the drug the Jem’Hadar require.

You can’t really watch this episode without having watched most of season five and the season six opener, because almost everything important here is built upon prior events and interactions. Which is of course what makes it so good–it’s not a solitary episode, but a story which has been building for the previous two seasons.

The two main story arcs are Kira dealing with her position on the station and working with the Dominion, and the crew dealing with a crashed Jem’Hadar crew and their vorta.

Kira’s story sees her realizing that she has all but become a collaborator with the Cardassians. There are two important sequences where we see Kira walking up, looking at herself in the mirror and heading to ops to start her day. Its the second sequence, when she realizes that she cannot live with herself that is so powerful–she goes through the same motions, but it is clear that she is distressed and disturbed. It’s a perfect portrayal of her inward turmoil.

Vedek Yassim: Can’t you see what is happening to you? You’re becoming an apologist for them, a defender of evil. What will it take to make you act, Kira, to stop accepting them, and start fighting back?

Major Kira: Vedek – you just don’t understand.

Vedek Yassim: You are right, I don’t. Maybe tomorrow… we will both understand.

But the main story is the crew dealing with the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar. Sisko’s goal is to keep his crew alive, but to do so he has to deal with the Vorta who is, at best, untrustworthy.

Captain Sisko: Keevan doesn’t deserve the unwavering loyalty you’re giving him.

Remata’Klan: He does not have to earn my loyalty, Captain. He has had it from the moment I was conceived. I am a Jem’Hadar. He is a Vorta. It is the order of things.

Captain Sisko: Do you really want to give up your life for ‘the order of things’?

Remata’Klan: It is not my life to give up, Captain. And it never was.

It isn’t the first time we see Sisko doing unpalatable things for the greater good, but it’s this episode that sets the stage for what is one of the best episodes of the show, In the Pale Moonlight.

Unlike Next Generation, where everything is black and white, much of not most of DS9 is shades of grey. Sisko has to keep his deal with the Vorta to keep his crew alive and get them back to Federation space. Kira has to deal with Weyoun and Dukat to keep Bejor safe. And it’s these explorations of the grey that makes this show so good. Because regardless of what Gene Roddenberry wanted to believe, people will never be wholly good. Life will never be black and white.

People lie for good reasons: for love, for hate, for fear. Evil isn’t some over-the-top madman rubbing his hands together in maniacal glee, but a father trying to do what is best for his children and his country. Evil is small compromises made to hold things together that slowly build up into a monstrosity.

It’s what makes the show so fascinating and so very good. You can hate Dukat and see the madness in him, yet you can also see how he truly believes he is doing what is best. Some of it may be delusional, but it’s the thread of reason that makes him so fascinating and makes you understand why he does what he does, even if what he does is awful.

The other thing that makes the show so good is that the secondary characters have been build up so strongly and so well that they can easily hold their own. Garak and Nog and Dukat all have complex and interesting backstories that make them just as fascinating as the main characters.

Chief O’Brien: There are rules, Garak, even in a war.

Garak: Correction. Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion.

And on top of all that, the cinematography and direction in this episode are incredible. I already mentioned the scenes with Kira, but the fight scene with the Jem’Hadar is even stronger. Avery Brooks and Michael Dorn and Nan Visitor and Terry Farrell all have a tremendous physicality that is well-used, but here we see Nog and O’Brien and especially Garak in a way we rarely do–looking serious and deadly. Garak isn’t that much of a surprise, since his background is so complicated, but throughout the show we generally see O’Brien as an engineer rather than a fighter, and Nog–well, Nog has come a very long way since his first episode, and you can really see that here as well.

This is, basically, where everything came together and there isn’t a scene here I don’t love, or that doesn’t give you something.

And it’s probably, the first time we watched all seven seasons in order (very long story there) where I fell completely in love with the series.

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