Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Waltz

"Waltz" is the 11th episode of the sixth season and was written by Ronald D. Moore.

Captain Sisko is a passenger aboard the Honshu, a ship transporting war criminal Gul Dukat. Sisko pays Dukat a visit and offers his condolences on the death of Ziyal. This ship doesn't make it's destined stop to starbase 6 because it is attacked by a convoy of Cardassian ships.

The crew on DS9 learn about the attack. A rescue mission, lead by Worf, takes the Defiant in search for survivors. Sisko has been badly injured from plasma burns and Dukat helped him escape in a pod. They land on a isolated planet and Dukat assures Sisko, after he regains consciousness, that he has managed to repair a distress beacon.

We quickly learn that Dukat isn't totally recovered from his breakdown as Wayoun "shows up" and taunts him about screaming every night in his sleep. He fires his phaser and destroys the apparition. A Cardassian officer "shows up" and tries to persuade Dukat to kill Sisko as a means of gaining favor once again with the Cardassian high council for killing the Emissary of the enemy. While this is taking place, Sisko discovers that the distress beacon isn't functioning and tests Dukat's sincerity by asking him to run a full diagnostic. Dukat assures him everything is functioning normally. "That's all I wanted to know" Sisko says.

Dukat fixes supper for Sisko and as they talk, Kira "shows up" and it's then that Sisko sees Dukat is still mentally unstable. The argument with the imaginary Kira reveals Dukat's true disdain for the Bajoran people, his resentment at their disloyalty during the occupation, and his anger at the lack of respect from others he feels he deserves. He totally loses it when he discovers Sisko was able to get the beacon working behind his back and attacks him and destroys the beacon. Sisko tells Dukat that he will no longer play his game or give him absolution for his past crimes.

"I should have turned their world into a graveyard of the likes of which the galaxy had never seen!" Dukat yells as he ponders his resentments. "I should have killed them all!"

Sisko manages to sneak up on the deluded Dukat and strike him on the head and knock him unconscious. "And that is why you're not an evil man" says Sisko.

The two struggle once again as Sisko attempts to get the shuttle off the ground. Dukat gets the upper hand and leaves the injured Sisko on the planet but sends out a distress signal that the nearby Defiant picks up. They rescue Sisko but the crazy Cardassian is long gone. Sisko vows to Dax that his number one priority now is to make sure Dukat doesn't carry out his plan to turn Bajor into a graveyard.

What I liked about this episode was how the writer used the character of Gul Dukat to outwardly express the justification for acts of violence and tyrannical control. He, like many true life occupiers, viewed himself as superior, offering something"better" culturally for their unwilling subjects of rule. Many conquerors don't view themselves as evil, but merely as friends who are ultimately unappreciated, leading to more conflict and bloodshed.

It was also like a great stage play witnessing one man watching the slow and harrowing decline of another. Very well acted by both Marc Alimo and Avery Brooks.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Best of Star Trek: DS9---The Magnificent Ferengi

This was both funny and adventurous. It was written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Biemeir.

Quark learns his mother has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner by the Dominion. He attempts to get a group of soldiers together made up of Ferengi including Rom and Nog. When simulation battle scenarios show them to be incapable of defeating the Jem'Hadar, Rom suggests that why don't they do what Ferengi do best---negotiate.

With Captain Sisko's help, they use the creepy Volta Keevan to take for trade. Keevan is not to crazy about being part of this deal, as it is customary for Volta to commit suicide when capture, something he failed to do. When they arrive at Empok Nor where the trade is to be held, they are surrounded by dozens of Jem'Hadar soldiers. Quark tells the negotiator Yelgrun that they'll complete the transaction when they send the Jem'Hadar away with the exception of two as Yelgrun's body guards. He agrees.

In the meantime, Quark's cowardly cousin Gaila is freaking out and upset when Rom slips that the Grand Nagus offered 50 bars of latinum as a reward, not the 20 Quark told them. He tries to shoot Quark and instead ends up killing Keevan.

 Fortunately, Nog learned something about neural stimulators and fakes Keevan being dead in order for the trade to proceed without getting everyone else killed. The sociopathic eliminator Leck kills one of the Jem'Hadar as the rest of the band, including "Mookie," head for their ship parked right outside the dock.

This was a fun episode with action and adventure and a welcome reprieve from the heavy drama that began the season with a series of continuing storylines involving the takeover of the space station by Gul Dukat and the Dominion. This episode too involves the Dominion but when you have a story that features the Ferengi, you know it will feature strategy of how to get out alive with your latinum intact.

If They Were Human...

Captain Sisko has a vision in which his neural pathways are scrambled pretty much like they were in "Rapture." This time he's trying to sort out his life and career in another time frame 400 years into the past as a science fiction writer creating a story about a space station with an assortment of interesting, non-Earthling characters. 

Sisko is seriously thinking about quitting when the realization that the Dominion war is still ongoing and one of his best friends was killed. That's when the prophets send him a message in a series of astral dreams.

His colleagues, all human, resemble their story counterparts. I had to cheat on one of them---didn't recognize him. Looked up the story write-up on Wikipedia.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Before he was Garak...

Before he was Garak, Andrew Robinson played a psychotic killer in "Dirty Harry" starring Clint Eastwood.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Worst of Star Trek DS9---Resurrection

In "Ressurrection," the mirror universe Bariel Antos suddenly appears on DS9 and takes Kira as a hostage in the guise of escaping the Alliance.  As he and Kira make a connection and fall in love, Quark is suspicious of this other Bariel and warns Kira to watch out for him, especially around the orb of Prophesy in the station's temple.

Turns out his suspicions were correct, the evil Kira shows up (how she managed it undetected isn't specified) and she struts and giggles and almost gets a punch across Bariel's face when he admits he's smitten with our universe Kira. Their plan was to steal the orb.

Another mirror universe episode and not any better than the last ones. I found it boring and ridiculous, especially when the mirror Kira showed up.  Since spirituality isn't of any concern on the mirror Bajor, how did the mirror Kira and Bariel know about the orb or even care about it? And when they finally entered the temple to steal it, why not hurry up and grab the orb and get the hell out of there? No such luck. We are treated to the ridiculous strutting of the evil Kira and her charms. The episode's only saving grace was witnessing the internal torment of the mirror Bariel, struggling between his loyality to the evil Kira and his love for the more wonderful Major Kira. He renders evil Kira unconscious with a phaser and leaves with her and without the orb.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Season Six---The Days Before the Crew's Return to DS9

The first six episodes of DS9 were more like a continuing saga rather than a series of separate story lines as the crew, those not left behind on DS9, are assigned (in "A Time to Stand") to a rebuilt Jem'Hadar ship to enter Cardassian space and blow up a factory manufacturing the White that the Jem'Hadar use to survive.

In "Rocks and Shoals," they are successful but the ship pays a heavy toll as it's caught in the aftermath of the explosion and crash lands on a nearby planet. Nog and Garak are captured by Jem'Hadar also marooned on the planet with a severely injured Vorta. The Vorta bargains with Garak--get him a doctor in exchange for their freedom, but first Captain Sisko must come along. The Vorta betrays the Jem'Hadar soldiers who are running out of White and will become hostile before turning on the Vorta and each other. The soldiers are killed by the crew and the Vorta offers himself as a prisoner and thanks them by giving them a communications system to repair.

Rescued by Martok's ship, the crew station themselves at the nearest starbase. In "Sons and Daughters," Alexander Rozhenko makes a surprise visit on Martok's ship in which Worf is second in command. He claims to want to be a warrior but fails to prove it, specially to himself, when both Worf and Martok test his skill with the batleth.

Worf orders Alexander off the ship but when a plasma leak occurs due to an encounter with an enemy ship, Alexander proves himself more of an engineer than a warrior. In a ceremony, he is accepted into the House of Martok. Meanwhile, Kira is trying to form a resistance cell as Dukat's daughter Ziyal returns to the station.

In "Behind the Lines," Odo becomes too personally involved with the female founder who had linked with him previously. As Kira and Rom plan to sabotage an anti-graviton beam, it was supposed to be Odo's task to put the computers off line for a "routine maintenance" check.  Unfortunately, the plan is foiled because Odo is still melding with the other Changeling and Rom is caught and arrested. Meanwhile, Dax is leading the crew in a mission on the Defiant to destroy a sensor array used by the Dominion to track Federation ships.

Despite these few successes, the Federation has lost countless lives and several ships and are losing the battle overall. Moral is sinking because of their attack and retreat strategy. In "Favor the Bold," Sisko has come up with a new idea for getting everyone energized---retake DS9! Worf and Martok undertake the task of getting Gowron to agree to committing as many Klingon ships as possible. Meanwhile, Jake gets a message out to his dad that a return to the station must come soon because the Cardassians have figured out a way to eliminate the mine field in the wormhole. The mine field is the only thing keeping the Dominion from coming in droves to the Alpha Quadrant.

In "Sacrifice of Angels," the Cardassians suspect Kira may be a co-conspirator with Rom in the sabotage of the anti-graviton sensor and she, Jake, and Rom's new wife Leeta are arrested. Quark knows that something must be done before it's too late and enlists the help of Ziyal in a plan to break them out of prison.

Meanwhile, the Klingon ships arrive just in time to give the Defiant room for breaking through the barrier set up by the Cardassian and Dominion ships and many are sacrificed. And  now that Rom is free, he is able to disable the weapons systems, but not in time to stop the mines from being destroyed. With little time left, Sisko decides on a suicide mission into the wormhole to stop as many Dominion ships as he can. Fortunately for him and the rest of the crew, the wormhole aliens eliminate the Dominion ships and the rest of the Dominon fleet in the Alpha Quadrant stands down. The crew returns to DS9 as the Dominion and their allies evacuate the station.

The celebration is cut short for Kira and Garak who learn of Ziyal's fate. She is killed by a Cardassian right- hand of Dukat as a traitor, leaving Dukat sick with grief and out of his mind on the station.

I spent all Saturday afternoon watching these shows, riveted to the screen wanting more. I liked the way the two-story lines in each episode (one focused on the Defiant crew and the other on the space station under Dominion control) came together at the end of episode 6. The non-talkative Morn even played a part in winning one for the Federation by getting a hidden message to Sisko via a wrapped package believed intended for his mother--the message telling Sisko of the Cardassian plot to destroy the mine field.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jake and Nog Get More Than They Bargained for "In the Cards"

In "In the Cards," Jake and Nog decide to bargain with a strange scientist who is collecting gadgets for his invention in exchange for a vintage baseball card Jake wants for his dad. When he suddenly disappears, they go to Odo for help.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Best of Star Trek DS9---Call to Arms

"Call to Arms" is the last episode of the 5th season and was written by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

Dominion ships are entering the Alpha Quadrant on a daily basis and  militarizing Cardassian outposts. Captain Sisko makes a call to Starfleet Central Command when he learns of a rumor from Nog that the Romulans have signed a nonaggression treaty with the Dominion. This shows that the Dominion are making inroads in the Quadrant. Bajor is even in negotiations with them for a peace treaty. Sisko, acting as both Commander of the station and Emissary, tells Major Kira that Bajor should consider it because there's no guarantee that the Federation will be able to protect them during a war with the Dominion.

For some reason Sisko can't reveal, Starfleet can't spare many Federation ships to the area. He tells Kira and Dr. Bashir that the reason why is classified.

Meanwhile, Commander Dax is leading the Defiant in a maneuver to plant mines at the entrance of the worm hole to prevent any more Dominion ships from passing through. Rom suggests they create replication mines to prevent them from all detonating and running out. When the creepy Vorta Wayoun finds out about their plot, he confronts Sisko that if they proceed, they can expect DS9 to be taken over by them.

General Martok patrols the borders and is reporting on any Dominion activity. One transmission is interrupted by Gul Dukat who tells Sisko that he's ready for battle.

Sisko orders an evacuation of the station including all Bajorans who are now no longer involved in the Dominion war. The crew's task now is to reinforce shields to the station while protecting the Defiant from Dominion attacks.

The season ends when Sisko announces to those remaining on DS9 that he plans to be back before boarding the Defiant. He leaves his treasured baseball behind as a message to Dukat that he will return.

The episode also contains the forming and separation of relationships. Rom and Leeta are married in a brief ceremony; Odo and Kira are remaining just friends during the crisis in order to concentrate on the mission; Dax tells Worf that she will marry him when the battle is over, and Garak says farewell to Ziyal as she leaves for Bajor.

Jake stays behind on the station, against his father's wishes, to give daily reports on the frontlines in his new job as a Starfleet reporter.

The episode was action packed and put in a lot in just under 45 minutes. It was a spectacular way to end the 5th season. The last scene shows ships, both Federation and Klingon, entering the area of DS9.

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9----Empok Nor

"Empok Nor" is the 24th episode of the 5th season and was written by Hans Beimier.

A team of engineers, lead by Miles O'Brien and including Cadet Nog, take a runabout to the abandoned Cardassian space station Empok Nor to salvage equipment to replace worn out plasma manifolds on DS9.

They get through the series of booby traps with the help of Garak. The station recognizes his Cardassian DNA and he's able to disable the booby trap before the entrance to the station.

While the team works on salvaging the equipment, Garak and one of the engineers finds a biochemical substance on a stairway and Garak gets some on his hand. They also discover some stasis tubes containing dead Cardassians and two empty. Apparently, they were triggered to be opened when the crew entered the station.

What follows is a game of hunter and prey as three hapless crew members are bumped off by the two roaming Cardassian soldiers that left their tubes. To pour salt on that wound is Garak, affected by the biochemical compound on his skin, becomes like one of the Cardassian soldiers---highly agitated, paranoid, and out for blood. After hunting and killing the rogue Cardassians, he kills a fourth crew member, who was guarding one of the engineers, by stabbing him in the chest with a flux coupler.

He then kidnaps Nog and lures Chief O'Brien to the spot. O'Brien insists he's no longer a soldier, just an engineer and proves it by improvising an explosive that renders Garak unconscious.

This was one of the scariest and most intense episodes thus far. We are with the crew members as they are on a mission to merely take unused equipment back to DS9 for maintenance, only to be hunted down one by one by biologically engineered soldiers embedded with severe xenophobia and survival skills---kill or be killed.

One highlight of the episode is when the drug is taking effect on Garak, O'Brien notices the change and remarks to Garak that he looks different. Garak responds, after having killed one of the Cardassian soldiers, that for the moment, he's no longer just a tailor.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Blaze of Glory

"Blaze of Glory" is the 23rd episode of the 5th season and was written by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

Captain Sisko learns of a Maquis plot to drop and detonate missiles on Cardassia. Now that Cardassia and the Dominion have joined forces, this could lead to an all-out retaliation and interstellar war. Sisko goes to Michael Eddington, a former security officer under his command who betrayed his trust and was/is working for the Maquis, to get more information. Eddington was caught by Sisko in the episode "For the Uniform" and is now in Federation custody.

Despite his reluctance, Eddington ends up going with Sisko to the badlands to find the launching site and deactivate the missiles. What follows is an engaging and entertaining banter between the two on their shuttle ride. It's a battle of wits as Sisko tests Eddington's death wish and sits back and watches Eddington squirm as two Jem'Hadar warships head straight toward them.

Eddington: Where are you going?
Sisko: To get a Raktajino--throat's a little dry.
Eddington:  Now? You're crazy. They're almost on top of us.
Sisko: One thing I will say about these replicators, they sure know how to make Klingon coffee.

Sisko sees his death wish isn't that serious as Eddington takes the helm and maneuvers around a plasma filament. Upset about this turn of events, he swears to Sisko that when it's all over, he will kill him.

They end up at an abandoned base---abandoned so they thought. Jem'Hadar are already there. Eddington keeps them occupied with phaser blasts as Sisko rushes through them.

Eddington: Attacking two Jem'Hadar soldiers with a lead pipe. That's a brilliant plan.
Sisko: It could be worse!
Eddington: Yeah, it could be me holding the pipe.
Sisko: Exactly!

Then the two men discover several bodies of Maquis fighters as they make their way to the launch site.
There, Sisko meets a small band of survivors, including Eddington's wife, who reveals there were no missiles. It was a ploy to get Sisko involved in order to evacuate them off the planet.

Little do they realize, there are more Jem'Hadar waiting in the wings. Eddington dies a hero warding them off as Sisko leads the rest to the shuttle.

This was a good adventure story as well as being a story of two men on opposite sides of a conflict who end up working  together against a common enemy. It's funny, tragic, and heroic. Officer Michael Eddington goes out in a blaze of glory, just as the title says. He wasn't the bad guy after all, just an idealist who wanted to help refugees get back to their homeland. He played the hero in his own mind before becoming one in reality.

Worst of Star Trek: DS9---Ferengi Love Songs

"Ferengi Love Songs" is the 20th episode of season 5.

Quark has the blues and Rom talks him into going to visit their "mookie." When Quark arrives, he finds his mother fully clothed and The Grand Nagus hiding in his old bedroom closet.

Seems Quark's mom and the Nagus have been carrying on an affair. Quark sees this as both a terrifying and profitable prospect.

Brunt however, sees it as sacrilege and tells Quark he will give back the deed to his bar if he breaks up the affair (he lost it previously in the episode "Body Parts" when Quark reneged on a contract to sell his remains to Brunt when Quark believed he was dying and learned later the medical diagnosis was incorrect). Brunt has plans of his own---taking over as Grand Nagus. Quark discovers through acting as Nagus accounting officer that the Nagus has a failing memory and this could be the reason for the stocks falling rapidly on Fereginar.

We later learn that mookie has been acting as Zek's (Grand Nagus) accounting officer and helped him with his memory. When their relationship was broken up and Zek was left to his own devices, things started going south in the markets on Fereginar.

Quark helps heal the relationship he broke up between mookie and the Nagus after he learns of Brunt's scheme and of course, to help with the financial markets on Fereginar.

This was an annoying and silly episode played out more like a bad and boring comedy skit on late night TV. Even the side story involving Rom and Leeta's amusing arguments over prenuptial agreements couldn't save this one. A little of The Grand Nagus goes a long way, especially when he's rubbing noses and giggling with a female counterpart.

The episode was directed by Rene Auberjonois.

Worst of Star Trek DS9---Rapture

"Rapture" is the 10th episode of the 5th season.

Although the premise behind the episode is good, it falls off the mark mainly due to Avery Brooks overdoing it. His performance is like a smiling, charming Benjamin Sisko on steroids---creepy and overbearing.

It begins with Sisko studying a Bajoran painting of an ancient city which includes an obelisk with hieroglyphics. He recreates the obelisk in the holosuite and stares at it for hours and becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of what it conveys. So obsessed in fact, while attempting to save the program, it short circuits and attacks his neural net. What comes out of this mishap is a Sisko mingled with a good splash of guru and messiah figure hell bent on finding the lost ancient city.

He finds it but in the meantime suffers debilitating headaches but presses on, even requesting the guidance of the equally creepy Kai Winn to help with the visions.

Admiral Whatley wants Captain Sisko at the ceremony of Bajor's entrance into the Federation, but Sisko decides instead to look into the orb of prophecy to see how the ancient city and the obelisk all ties in with what's happening on the station and in general, how it ties into everything.  He's on the verge of collapse when he bursts into the treaty signing and warns that if Bajor enters the Federation now, a swarm of "locusts" will descend upon the planet.  

While his dad lies unconscious on the infirmary table, Jake signs the OK to allow Dr. Bashir to perform the life saving surgery that will give Benjamin his neural net and sanity back, but take away the visions.

I found this episode well meaning but played like a mythical drama over-played by its lead actor; a character that should have, and normally would have, remained focused on his duties on running the station rather than becoming obsessed with the beliefs of an era gone by---beliefs that Sisko normally does not subscribe too.