Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---In the Hands of the Prophets

"In the Hands of the Prophets" was the last episode of season 1. It was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe.


This episode has two story lines, one involving a Bajoran technician that is working closely with Chief O'Brien. O'Brien notices an important tool is missing, along with an ensign, whose remains are later discovered in a conduit. An investigation ensues. As the investigation unfolds, we learn the murdered man had been a witness to someone rerouting security controls.

Meanwhile O'Brien's wife Keiko is running a school for the kids on the station. Her class is interrupted by Vedek Winn, an orthodox spiritual leader on Bajor and candidate to be the next Kai. Keiko is teaching that the wormhole in Bajoran space was artificially constructed by entities who reside there. Winn is having none of it. "Excuse me, by 'entities,' do you not mean the prophets?" "In a manner of speaking...but our studies show it was formed by unique particles...that are self-sustaining in nature" replies Keko.

Now the fun begins. Winn calls what Keiko is doing is blasphemy. Keiko calls it opening the children's minds to scientific research and discovery. Because they are in Bajoran space, Winn states the school can't continue unless Keiko's curriculum involves knowledge of the prophets. Keiki refuses, insisting that her job is to teach facts and Winn's job is to teach spiritual matters. "Is there a place in your school for the prophets?" Winn asks Keiko.

" responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them."

Winn warns Sisko that unless Keiko recants, she can't be responsible for the consequences.

As Winn and Vedek Bareil, a reformed opponent vying for the position of Kai, try to come to a compromise on the direction of the school, an explosion occurs on the station. The school is destroyed.

O'Brien's assistant had been meeting secretly with Winn, who convinces her to carry out what the prophets want, to stop the school at any cost and that it will require sacrifice. She is caught carrying a weapon after it's discovered that she was the one who disabled security locks, including weapons detection. Her target was Vedek Bareil.  She's stopped by Sisko. She yells "The prophets spoke. I answered their call!"

Major Kira is wise to Winn and lets her know that she knows she's the one who staged the whole affair to get Bareil assassinated in order to become Kai.

One highlight is when a Bajoran vendor on the station refuses to sell to the O'Briens. Odo steps in before Miles has a chance to deck the guy. "Seek the prophets!" The vender yells to the O'Briens as they leave. Odo (under his breath) "Seek them yourself."

What makes this episode epic is that it speaks to our contemporary society, especially regarding public education and the religious leaders of our time attempting to eradicate science education and/or merge it with biblical myth and creationism. Here we have an educator, in the form of Keiko O'Brien, insisting that foregoing the teaching of the sciences is akin to hiding knowledge. The message is clear---let the teachers teach and the religious leaders offer spiritual guidance, but in separate venues.

It reminds me of a saying I've often seen on secularist websites and blogs:  Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church. A more accurate saying would be---keep education and religion separate!

And it's refreshing to witness someone, either here or in real life, stand up for science education and stand up to the dogmatic dictates of religious authoritarians.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Best of Star Trek: DS9---Duet

"Duet"" was the next to last episode of the first season and was written by Lisa Rich and Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci. Teleplay by Peter Allen Fields.


A ship arrives at the station carrying a passenger suffering from Kalla Nohra syndrome. It's extremely rare, caused by a mining accident at a Bojoran labor camp. When Major Kira seeks the patient out, she sees it's a Cardassian and wants him jailed for war crimes.

Commander Sisko is contacted by a Minister of Bajor who congratulates him for the capture. But Sisko tells him he wants to do an investigation before handing him  over.

He also reluctantly agrees to put Kira in charge of the investigation after she assures him she will conduct herself worthy of her post.

The investigation begins to determine if Marrizza is who he says he is--a lowly filing clerk. He worked for the military commander Gul Darhe’El.

Gul Dukat contacts the station to inquire why a Cardassian citizen is being held. Sisko tells him they are verifying his identity and Dukat informs Sisko that if anything happens to their citizen that he’ll have to answer for it.Images on file, that the Cardassians didn’t destroy, show the file clerk Marriza in the same image as Gul Darhe’El---one problem---the names are switched!

Marriza, AKA Darhe’El, tells Kira that he withheld his true identity at first because he wanted to give her the satisfaction of learning the truth for herself. Then he lays it on thick and heavy, how he was a magnificent leader of the labor camp, he maintained disciple, and everyone looked up to him. Putting him before a tribunal and sentencing him to death won’t undo what he already did---eliminate Bajoran scum. “The dead will still be dead…what you called genocide, I called ‘a day’s work.‘”Kira takes off with her dander up.

Later, Odo is curious how Darhe’El knew Kira had been part of Shakaar's army. Odo discovers a subspace transmission was sent to Marriza 3 weeks prior. Odo contacts Gul Dukat who informs him that Darhe’El is dead and that he in fact was at his memorial service. Dukat agrees to release some files to affirm that Darhe’El is dead. When the mining accident that spread the disease occurred, Darhe’El was back on Cardassia. Further, Marriza resigned his post, put his affairs in order, and requested passage to DS9. In addition, Dr. Bashir found traces of a treatment used to maintain skin resilience after cosmetic surgery.

Haris Yulin's performance was just amazing! As Marriza, he breaks down to Kira, admitting the truth of how the cries and screams of the victims tormented him at night. It haunts him still and he wants justice. He tells Kira they were all guilty and if he could be put on trial as Gul Darhe'El, Cardassia would finally have to face the truth of its atrocities and Bajor can begin to heal. Kira tells him that too many good people have died already and one more murder won't bring them back.

Sadly, Marriza gets his wish to die, but not in the manner he wished. A Bajoran sees him walking down the promanade and stabs him through the back through the heart.

"Why?!" Kira screams. "He was a Cardassian. Isn't that enough?" responds his killer.


This episode shows another side to Cardassians, that they're not all made from the same cloth. Some posses a conscience. Too little too late for the victims of the labor camp however. It's like that old saying that the worse evil is when good men do nothing. It's a cautionary tale that speaks to our human past.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Worst of Star Trek: DS9---Progress

"Progress" is the 15th episode of the 1st season.

For whatever reason, I was bored with this episode. There are two story plots, the one aboard the space station is the most interesting although not suspenseful or intriguing, just fun. Jake Sisko and Nog embark on learning the trade of bartering in a capitalist venture of trading a spicy sauce made for Cardassians and ending up with magnetic bolts to trade with someone else. They end up with land that ends up being of good use to the Federation. But this is not the main story.

It's about an old man, who escaped to an orbiting moon around Bajor during the Cardassian occupation, who is reluctant to move. Major Kira has the unfortunate task of getting him and a couple of farmers, and former victims of Cardassian mutilation and torture, off the moon that is going to be used as a conduit for some experiment involving releasing more electrical energy to Bajor. The process could prove fatal to any inhabitants.

It's a shame there couldn't have been another story line involving coming up with another viable solution rather than taking this old man's land away from him. But in the end, after much getting to know you's between him (played by Brian Keith) and Kira, talks of regrets and wars, Kira sets fire to the man's cottage after he tells her he won't leave as long as it stands.

Not much in the episode by way of science--nor suspense or great conflict---just a less than stellar episode that's easily forgotten.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Battle Lines

"Battle Lines" is the 13th episode of the 1st season. It was written by Richard Danus and Evan Carlos Somers.

It begins with a visit from the spiritual leader of Bajor known as Kai Opaka. She asks for a trip to the wormhole with Sisko, Dr. Bashir, and Major Kira. The four embark on a routine voyage into the Gamma Quadrant, or so they think until a satellite in a remote solar system sends out shock waves and disables their shuttlecraft. They make a crash landing on a moon and pull Opaka's body from the wreckage.

The crew then discovers there are two factions at war and the moon is a penal colony. Both factions have been on the moon for a generation and their members have been implanted with a rejuvenating device that activates and rebuilds the body once it is severely injured or killed in an attack.

After an episode involving a rival faction, Opaka appears to a stunned crew. Dr. Bashir is astonished by her health but discovers another property in her body that before he goes to the craft's ship to analyze the findings on the computer, is mystified as to what it is.

Once the rejuvenating device is discovered, Sisko agrees to act as mediator and perhaps get them off the moon and live the remainder of their lives without war. Unfortunately, the rival group's leader isn't trusting of Sisko and the fighting starts again. Leaving the moon now is also out of the question because once they leave, Bashir has discovered, they will die.

Opaka, sensing this is her destiny to remain with the colonists, tells the crew she will remain. O'Brien and Dax locate the satellite signal, destroy it, and proceed to the moons orbit to beam up the remainder of the crew.

One thing that impressed me about this episode is Nana Visitor's performance. Her grief over the body of Opaka, whom she deemed as a mentor and an inspiration, is heartfelt and genuine. She also comes to terms with her violent nature and hatred she's held in for the Cardassians with the help of Opaka. She must recognize it before able to let it go.

This is reminiscent of a TNG episode called "The High Ground" which is very similar in that the Federation is dealing with two opposing factions at civil war. This episode is better in that it offers more hope for a resolution.

It also illustrates how civil wars that last for generations can become merely about something to hate while the original conflict is all but forgotten.

Friday, December 20, 2013

So Bad It's Almost Good---If Wishes Were Horses

"If Wishes Were Horses" finds the space station undergoing manifestations of  their imaginations including characters from children's novels.

What I find confusing about this episode is, are the manifestations, including a 21st century baseball player, responsible for it, or are the manifestations (who are actually aliens trying to learn more about the humanoid species) just visitors when a threatening anomaly occurred?

At this point, I couldn't have cared less because I was laughing too hard. A Jadzia Dax is all over Dr. Bashir and his fantasies are exposed. We learn from the Dax double that Julian views her as a "cold fish" and Dax is amazed that her double is so submissive.

And the Rumpelstiltskin character just bugs the hell out of O'Brien. He appeared after the chief had read the novel to his young daughter at bedtime.

But all's well that ends well. Sisko figures out that the riff out in space that was about to blow apart the space station was also a figment of the imaginations of the crew, who deduced that what they were experiencing was real. Don't believe it, Sisko commands them. Then everything turns back to normal. The visitors exit but not before letting Sisko know they meant no harm and were just curious and may return.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Odo Defines the "Look of Horror"

In "The Forsaken," Odo helps Ambassador Lwaxana Troi find her brouch that got stolen in Quark's bar. She is grateful to him afterward. I mean, VERY grateful. She becomes a pest with sexual advances, even arranging a picnic on a holosuit. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she and Odo become trapped on a turbolift together.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of Star Trek: DS9---Dramatis Personae

"Dramatis Personae" is the 18th episode of season 1 and was written by Joe Menosky.

It's trouble from the get-go here when a Klingon vessel en route to the station, after conducting a survey, 
explodes. A Klingon officer is beamed over and he utters "Victory" before dying of severe trauma from weapons fire.

Then there's the matter of a Valerian ship waiting to dock. Major Kira has an issue with the Valerian's whom she claims aided the Cardassians against Bajor and supplied them with weapons. Kira wants their ship 
inspected by Commander Sisko orders her to allow them to dock without interference.

Meanwhile, Odo is questioning Quark to see if he has any information about the true nature of the Klingon 
vessel. As Odo is leaving, he is struck by an invisible shock that manipulates his shape and he passes out. 

In Dr. Bashir's office, Odo awakens and Julian is warning him to choose sides carefully in a power struggle between Kira and Sisko.

On a shuttlecraft to investigate the explosion, O'Brien warns Dax to choose sides and choose carefully. Anyone who is against Sisko is against me, he informs her. 

Dax behavior is peculiar as well. She becomes daydreamy, lackadaisical and forgetful.

Odo downloads the recorder from the Klingon vessel and discovers they encountered an alien composed of 
telepathic energy containing information of a power struggle that destroyed their civilization. Could this be 
what's causing this strange behavior of the crew and their wanton struggle for loyalty and power?

With the help of Dr. Bashir, after charming persuasion, Odo convinces him that saving the space station is within his best interest. Odo unleashes a pulsing burst of energy that releases the entity's control of the crews brains in a cargo bay area where the infected crew had gathered in a showdown.

This sort of reminded me of the TNG episode "Conspiracy," although not quite as creepy. But it was just as suspenseful and this time, unlike in "The Passenger," El Fadil managed playing one influenced by an alien presence to satisfaction. Auberjonois got to be the hero this time, another reason why this episode is a winner! He played it cool, calculating, and diplomatic. 

Worst of Star Trek: DS9---The Storyteller

"The Storyteller" is a silly episode, not so much for it's story involving the negotiations on the station between to rival factions on Bajor over a land dispute, but the one on Bajor with Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien.

Both men go down to the planet's surface in response to an emergency call. An elderly man is dying of old age. Dr. Bashir tells the villagers there's not much left to do for him except make him comfortable in his final hours. BUT, if he dies, the whole village is doomed!

Why? Well, something called Dal-Rok appears at this time every year and shakes the hell out of the place until the villagers prove themselves stronger and makes the thing go away. This thing resembles a big puffy cloud that grows to intensity and causes atmospheric disturbances.

The old man relates the story of how the villagers can defeat it while holding his arms up like Moses. Trouble is, he is too old and frail and proclaims Chief O'Brien as the new community leader to keep the thing at bay.

The best thing about this episode is O'Brien's reaction to it all (expertly played by Colm Meaney) who is having none of it. Reluctantly he goes along with it as a means of figuring out what to hell this thing really is.

After the old man's apprentice tries to kill O'Brien behind his back for taking his job, O'Brien calms the man down and asks him to explain how this thing appears, why, and how to stop it.

The thing is actually a creation of the villagers collective minds. It's generated by a piece of one of the alien orbs that the Cardassians are fighting the Bajorans over. Many years before, two tribes were fighting and this brings them together in a common purpose. The storyteller revs up the collective mental fighting power of the villagers which makes the Dal-Rok disappear until the next year when they do it all over again.

It's both funny and painful to watch O'Brien attempt to hold this thing at bay, but his lack of confidence and obvious reluctance arent' lost on the villagers. The Dal-Rok grows larger and things start going to shit. The apprentice saves the day in the last minute and is proclaimed as the new Sirah (village wise man).

Watching humanoids act like superstitious simpletons out of the stone age in the age of space travel and computer generated graphics is just embarrassing.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Best of Star Trek: DS9---Past Prologue

"Past Prologue" is the 3rd episode of the 1st season. It was written by Katharyn Powers.


A vessel is under attack by Cardassians. The DS9 crew rescues the occupant and we learn he's a renegade from a group known as the Kohn Ma. He's a Bojoran called Tahna and the Cardassians accuse him of committing high crimes on their homesoil and seek his return to stand justice.

We also learn "justice" according to the Cardassians isn't something one would wish on their worst enemy. We get a glimpse of this in TNG in the episode "Chain of Command" where Captain Picard is tortured by a Cardassian prison guard. Tahna requests asylum and Commander Sisko grants it for the time being.

The station also has two less than distinguished guests--the Duras sisters. They show up to the station to seek out Tahna who owes them payment for a transaction.

Meanwhile, Tahna informs Major Kira that he intends to take a ship into space rather than stay for amnesty hearings Kira had arranged for him. And Dr. Bashir overhears the deal between Tahna and and the Duras sisters brokered in the tailor shop of Cardassian Garak, who had insisted Bashir be present to hear it. The deal was the selling of a volatile substance bilitrium to be used in an explosive.

Kira must choose sides---should she remain loyal to her post as security of DS9 under the jurisdiction of the Federation, or help Tahna. She decides to reveal Tahna's plans to Sisko.

Kira boards the ship with Tahna and thwarts his plans by getting the ship off course and fighting with Tahna and beams the destructive device into space. Sisko gives Tahna the option---either come back to Federation space and receive justice there, or allow the Cardassians to take him into custody. Tahna chooses the former option.

This episode offeres suspense and intrigue. There's a great scene where Tahna meets in secret with the Duras sisters in a cargo area followed by a rat. After the meeting, the "rat" changes (back) into the form of the "Constable" Odo.

It was rather nice seeing the creepy Duras sisters again. They always manage to add a little spice to any episode. And we also meet the charming Garak for the first time.

We also learn a bit more about Major Kira, a woman who has seen suffering and hardship under Cardassian infiltration which gives her character more dimension. She wants the best for Bajor but is tired of the violence, preferring the more peaceful solutions offered by the Federation. She is called a "traitor" by Tahna, a man she once called a friend and ally. She maintains her composure.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Worst of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---The Passenger

"The Passenger" is the 9th episode of the first season.

I've been watching the series on Netflix and it's like seeing it again for the first time. There isn't much to dislike thus far in the first season, contrast that to TNG, which had a vast array of stinkers.

This episode falls into that category.


While in a shuttlecraft, Major Kira and Dr. Bashir respond to a distress call from a freighter transporting a prisoner. Despite the police officer's warning, a Kobliad named Kajada, Dr. Bashir goes to assist the prisoner in the burning wreckage and is nearly strangled by him. The four go back to the shuttlecraft en route to DS9 where the prisoner named Vantika is pronounced dead and laying on a slab in Bashir's OR.

Kajada is not convinced that Vantika is dead and tells the crew that he has developed a technology to keep himself alive. He was en route to DS9 to obtain a compound called deuridium which his species uses to maintain life and longevity.

When Kajada is pushed from a balcony in the promenade and almost killed, Quark is a witness and insists no one else was with Kajada at that moment. Now the crew must investigate whether or not Kajada is telling the truth about the so-called faked death of Vantika.

Vantika had tech manuals on the human brain and was able to transport a genetic code in a cell that allows consciousness to be transplanted. But who is the new host?

The new host, in the body of Dr. Bashir, meets the mercenaries hired to take him back with the deuridium in an escape route. The plan is thwarted when Dax bombards the cargo ship, manned by Vantika in Bashir's body, with a magnetic pulse through its shield, rendering Vantika helpless.

With Bashir returned to normal, the essence of Vantika, in a containment holder, is destroyed by Kajada.

Even this episode wasnt as bad as some of the first season episodes of TNG, but this one is ridiculous for a few reasons---when it's revealed that Vantika must have come in contact with a humanoid long enough to transport his consciousness through a small chip embedded in a fingernail, I was taken back in my memory of when he grabbed Bashir by the throat on the freighter. Oh, so he's now in the body of Bashir. Mystery solved.

Also, how was Bashir, while under the influence of Vantika, able to go undetected on the promenade and the other stations, such as the cargo hold? Don't they have 24th century cameras on the station?

And last, although I love El Fadill's portrayal of Dr. Bashir, as Vantika his performance is dreadful, with stiff head and neck movements and spoken words over enunciated.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 "Emissary"

"Emissary" was the first episode and a two-parter of Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  It was written by Michael Piller and Rick Berman.


It begins after the Federation takes control of a deep space outpost formerly occupied by the Cardassians, who have been in conflict with the Bajorans. The space station is still recovering from the looting the Cardassians did to it upon their leaving. The space station is hovering above the planet of Bajor and the Federation is working on forming a treaty and relations with them.

Commander Benjamin Sisko takes command of the station, reluctantly. He still harbors resentment of Captain Picard because of the battle involving Picard, who had been assimilated into the Borg collective and was waging war on the federation. Sisko's wife Jennifer had been killed during the conflict.

The second half of the episode deals with the Bajoran religion and their regaining possession of 8 orbs that they claim were stolen by the Cardassians. These orbs are believed to be gifts from their prophets. While investigating the location of a sacred temple, Sisko and newly arrived old friend of Sisko, a species known as a Trill named Dax, inadvertently discover a wormhole and enter. They meet aliens who live there and try to understand this corporal species known as human. Dax is sent back to the space station while Sisko is trapped in the wormhole and probed by the aliens.

There is a back and forth between this part of the show and the conflict the space station is having with Cardassians who accuse them of destroying their leader Gul Dukat's ship . Major Kira, a Bajoran, tries to tell them about the wormhole, of which they already know about, but pretend at first not to believe them. Kira, with the help of Chief O'Brien, figures out a way to send the station on a mission to investigate Sisko's disappearance in the wormhole and fool the Cardassians into believing they have weapons capability.

The aliens, convinced by now that the corporal species is not a threat, sends Sisko, along with Dukat's ship,
back into Federation space. During the time in the wormhole, Sisko has come to terms with his wife's death and tells Captain Picard he is ready to accept his assignment at DS9.

It had been years since I saw this episode for the first time and I look forward to watching the remaining episodes. This series includes three of my favorite Star Trek characters---Odo (the station security chief played by Rene Auberjonois), Dr. Bashir (the stations chief medical officer played by Siddig El Fadil AKA Alexander Siddig), and Quark (Ferengi bar owner played by Armin Shimerman).

And kudos to the great performance of Avery Brooks as Commander Sisko, particularly when he realizes that he has not moved on in linear time as he told the aliens, but is actually still existing on the ship three years before when he "lost" his wife. This was the turning point he needed to begin again his path in life and take up the responsibility of raising his son and doing his duty as a Starfleet officer.