Thursday, March 27, 2014

Best of Star Trek: DS9---The Begotten

"The Begotten" is the 12th episode of season 5 and was written by Rene Echevarria.

Quark has something to sell to Odo. Odo isn't interested until Quark shows him the merchandise---a baby Changeling.

It's sick and Dr. Bashir determines it was affected by tetrion blasts but manages to bring it back to normal. Captain Sisko allows Odo to nurture it to its full potential, but Odo goes against his advice to contact Dr. Mora.

Too late, Mora has found out and has come aboard the station to help Odo develope the baby. With many arguments on how to proceed, they patch their differences and decide they need to work together, especially after Captain Sisko puts the pressure on Odo to keep a daily log of his progress and ensure there is progress on the part of the baby, otherwise it will become the property of Federation scientists in a lab.

That's the last thing Odo wants and Dr. Mora tells Odo that now he will feel how he felt when he was under pressure from the Cardassians to produce results from when Odo was an infant. Both men are ecstatic when the baby finally takes shape, as Odo! They realize it was their combined efforts---Dr. Mora's scientific methods and Odo's nurturing that brought it so far, far sooner than Odo's evolution with Dr. Mora.

Meanwhile, another baby life is coming into being---Miles and Keiko witness the birth of their son, via Kira's womb. There are funny scenes involving Miles and Shakaar, both men demanding to take center stage as the predominant male during the birth procedures which involve relaxation techniques for Kira. They argue about which one shall witness and assist in the birth and both get thrown out by Kira and Keiko.

"Next time you have a baby, leave my girlfriend out of it" Shakaar tells Miles.

This episode has many ups and downs. The sad part is when the baby dies due to the radiation poisoning not at first detected by Bashir. It succumbs but not before melding its biochemistry with Odo, returning Odo to his natural state as a shape-shifter, allowing him to fly like a hawk--something Odo tried unsuccessfully to persuade the baby to do.

It packs a lot of emotion and plot turns in approximately 45 minutes. There's a great scene with Odo and Quark in the bar, celebrating the new life that "fell into my lap." This was right before the tragic turn of events.

Kira suffers a loss of her own. Miles and Keiko are proud new parents who are celebrating at the end. Kira carried the child and feels the longing to hold the child in her arms. She and Odo go for a walk to share their mutual feelings of loss.

Odo also comes to terms with his feelings of resentment toward Dr. Mora, gaining new understanding of Dr. Mora's reluctance to let him go all those years ago.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Trials and Tribble-ations

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is the 6th episode of the 5th season and was written by Ronald D. Moore and Rene Echevarria.

It begins with two investigators from Temporal Investigations entering the office of Captain Sisko. The story is told in flashback style by Sisko describing how the Defiant was returning from Cardassian space with one of the orbs belonging to the Bajorans---the orb of time.

Also picked up by the Defiant was a merchant trapped on Cardassia during its invasion by the Klingons. He called himself Barry Waddle. Turns out, he was actually a Klingon spy named Darvin who used the orb to rewrite history---plant a bomb in a tribble to kill Captain Kirk before his plot to poison the grain and kill all the inhabitants of a colony was discovered.

Now the Defiant crew must go back to that point in time before the bomb goes off  in order to reset time to its proper lineage.

What ensues is a mixture of suspense and hilarity. The show incorporates scenes from the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" with the modern crew. There's a discussion involving the color of the shirts according to rank then and now. "Don't you know anything about history?" O'Brien asks Bashir. "I'm a doctor, not an historian" (taking a page from McCoy's famous line). As Sisko explains to Bashir, red was worn by operations and gold was worn by command officers and, as Dax points out, women wore less.

In the bar fight scene, Worf explains the altered appearance of the Klingons simply as "we do not discuss it with outsiders."

There's also a funny scene where Sisko forgets the insignias on the uniforms are merely just that and not com badges when he tries to communicate with the Defiant during a battle stations alert.

Kira figures how to get the Defiant and the crew back to present time using the orb (although that isn't explained in detail). And history is returned to its normal linear time.

This episode was a tribute to the original series, giving fans a dose of nostalgia and fun. In a way, the series franchise pokes fun at itself and allows us to see how Captain Kirk would look to those in the future--as both a menace and a legend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Best of the Eating of Humble Pie---The Quickening

In "The Quickening" Dr. Julian Bashir has it all figured out--or so he thought. When he has a setback in curing a fatal disease of colonists in the Gamma Quadrant, he says there must not be a cure.  Jadzia Dax sets him straight with a little dose of humble pie.

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Nor the Battle to the Strong

"Nor the Battle to the Strong" is the 4th episode of the 5th season and was written by Rene Echevarria.

Jake is writing a story about Dr. Bashir for an article he's working on for his school. He ends up getting more than he bargained for when the doc answers a distress call from an outpost under siege by Klingons.

Jake ends up playing medic in a facility undergoing the usual shakes, rattles, and rolls of an underground bunker during wartime. He witnesses sever injuries, self-inflicted wounds, and casualties that at the very least make him lose his supper and sleep, to running away from explosions when he and Bashir attempt to get the generator from the runabout.

Riddled with guilt and shame, he has a breakdown while Bashir suffers through guilt of his own for making Jake be apart of it all instead of taking him back to the station first.

Jake gets his mojo back though when faced with two Klingon warriors coming charged with full-on phaser blasters and hellbent on destroying the place. He grabs a phaser and shoots randomly to ward them off and ends up bringing the entrance down with a ton of rock on the warriors.

This episode shows the ugly and human side of war--the fear, death, and human endurance that comes with it. There's little humor or pleasantness to this episode. It's just gut wrenching and reminds us of what happens when factions can't come to the table and resolve their differences peacefully.

At one point, Jake is left alone with a dying fighter who is cantankerous and gives Jake a reality check---there's no way they will both get out of this alive. Another moment is when Jake meets a soldier who phased his own leg to get out of the fight. He tells Jake how he did really well in the battle simulations, but when it came to the real thing, the instinct for survival kicks in.

"All you can think about is getting away from the explosions" Jakes says, more to himself than the soldier.

It's also a turning point in the series that makes the Klingon Empire, once again, a feared and loathsome enemy of the Federation.

The highlight of the episode comes at the end when Jakes has finished his article and lets his dad read it. He states that the line between bravery and cowardness is very thin and the captain is proud to know that Jake was brave to admit that---something most people in a similar situation would not.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stop It Or You'll Go Deaf

In "Bar Association," Rom gets a serious ear infection that sends him to Dr. Bashir after passing out in Quark's bar while on duty. One reason for the infection---too much Oomax.

Season 4 Contrasts and Comparisons to TNG Episodes

I've completed season 4 last night. One thing I noticed are the similarities in plots to The Next Generation.

DS9 takes these themes and puts a darker twist to them.

In "The Visitor," Ben Sisko gets trapped in some type of time vortex caused by an energy discharge during a maintenance repair. He ends up being connected to Jake as he goes through life, transitioning from being a writer to a scientist whose main objective is finding his father again and getting him back in natural, linear time. Trouble is, he throws away his life in this pursuit when in the end the experiment fails, but is successful long enough for him to tell his dad to move out of the way when the energy discharge that caused him to be trapped in the first place.

This reminds me of the episode "Tapestry," where Q gives Picard a second chance at life, after his artificial heart malfunctions,  by letting him relive, and undo, things he deemed as mistakes. Picard takes his advice, but to his horror, he's not the same man he was when Q shows him the new Picard aboard the Enterprise. He finds himself a lieutenant junior grade instead of captain. Picard begs Q to let him go back and die the man he was rather than live life as the new Picard without the past mistakes and risks he otherwise would have taken.

In "Hippocratic Oath," Bashir and O'Brien encounter a small band of Jem'Hadar on a remote planet when their shuttle crashes. The Jem'Hadar leader is no longer addicted to "the white," and orders Bashir to help him develop an antidote to the substance so they can be free agents instead of slaves to the Dominion.

Unlike "I, Borg," where a lone Borg is captured and introduced to individuality by Geordi and returned to his ship as an individual, "Hippocratic Oath" takes a darker turn when Julian is not able to break the other Jem'Hadar free from the white and the lone Jem'Hadar, free from addiction, must now face the wrath of his fellow soldiers who view his individual thinking, logic, and even compassion as a disgrace--a weakness.
He decides to stay on the planet after helping Bashir and O'Brien escape the other soldiers.

In "Rejoined," Dax is reunited with a fellow Trill scientist who was once her wife in another life via the
Symbiot. They both still harbor feelings for each other and attempt to kindle their romance despite the
overseeing eye and objections to their fellow scientists, reminding them of rules of behavior regarding
joined Trills.

This reminded me of the TNG episode "Second Chances," when Troi is reunited with William Riker. But he's not William Riker, at least the one she knew aboard the Enterprise. This one is a product of a bizarre transporter accident in which the transporter replicated Riker a second time. The first Riker beamed aboard his ship and left orbit while the second Riker was left behind on the deserted planet and is rescued several years later. Troi and Riker, who changes his first name to Thomas, pick up where they left off at that time, but only briefly. The call to duty on another Starship is too much of a temptation and he leaves, once again putting his relationship with Troi on hold.

"Starship Down" is much like the TNG episode "The Disaster," although I found the latter one much more engaging. In both cases, the ships are nearly torn apart by a turbulent area of space.

"Our Man Bashir" is much like "The Big Good-bye" in which a main character is playing a private detective while the safety protocols in the holodeck are malfunctioning. The former episode puts a creepy spin to it by making senior crew members walk around in it, playing characters without their cognitive, conscious brains.

"Hard Time" is similar to the idea in "The Inner Light," in which a main character is living another life
strictly inside his head and returns to present day with memories of the previous life intact. Picard's
experience was much more pleasant once he gets past the idea of contacting The Enterprise and accepts the notion that the life he's living on the planet is real. He wakes up on the bridge and must readjust to the life he knew long ago. His primary problem is longing and grief for his wife and children he left behind in the simulation.

Miles O'Brien isn't so lucky. He was given a simulation inside his mind that put him in solitary confinement for 20 years for an apparent act of treason. He was merely curious about a species technology and got too close to figuring it out. He is sentenced to 20 years in "prison." In his hunger, he kills a cellmate in a fight over hoarded food. Now out of the cage and back to reality, O'Brien has a hard time readjusting and argues with Keiko and almost hits Molly when she demands attention from him. He attempts suicide at a low point when he faces the knowledge that he killed his best friend (the cellmate) over some scraps that his friend was saving for both of them. He feared for the safety of his family.

In "The Muse," Jake meets a strange woman who entices him with unlocking his creative potential. She encourages Jake to write the novel that is already inside him and demands him to let the word flow. As he does this, they exchange energy. She stimulates an area of his brain that releases neurons in which she feeds from. This almost kills Jake toward the end, weakening him. She tells Captain Sisko that she was merely giving Jake immortality through his work while she gains something she needs.

This reminds me of the TNG episode "Man of the People." A weirdo diplomate does a ritual with Deanna Troi in which they share a stone that transfers righteousness from her to him while the evil dark side from him is transmitted to Troi. She undergoes changes in behavior manifesting in possessiveness, agitation, aggression, and violence as she quickly ages.

In "Broken Link," Odo is losing his ability to maintain solid shape and the only ones who can help him are his people, the Changelings. They are the cause of this shift in his structure in order to force him to return home and face judgement. He agrees and he is made human as his punishment.

Sound familiar? Q is drummed out of the Continuum, stripped of his powers, and is given a short time to decide what permanent solid form he is to take in "Deja Q." However, "Broken Link" takes a much more serious tone, while "Deja Q" plays it mostly for laughs. Both Q and Odo undergo moments of agonizing pain, one from an entity out for vengeance, and the other out of mere changes in bio-chemistry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Best in Odo Losing It---Crossfire

In "Crossfire," Odo gets distracted from finding the one responsible for an assassination attempt on Shakaar by his love for Major Kira. Upset about his poor job performance and his passion for someone he knows he will never have, he flies into a jealous rage and tears up his quarters after seeing Kira and Shakaar together.

Quark gives Odo a little tough love of his own and puts him back on the right path.