Saturday, February 22, 2014

Best of Star Trek DS9---Shakaar

"Shakaar" was written by Gordon Dawson and was the 24th episode of the 3rd season.

Do religious right wing politicians give you the creeps? If so, there's everything to be freaked out by Kai Winn, who has just been made provisional government leader of Bajor.

Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher gives a performance that's smarmy and reeks of false charm on the surface but delves deeper into a sort of sociopathic megalomania.

In sum, she's insane. Even Commander Sisko notices this when he confronts her on her decision to enact martial law over the refusal by villagers to return two soil reclamators that were promised to them for the planting of crops by the former, and now late, provisional leader. She asks Sisko to provide Federation security along the borders to prevent civil disobedience. Sisko in turn tells her that her response to this rather minor incident is an overreaction. She in turn tells him she wants to maintain law and order and keep Bajor from turing into anarchy and chaos.

One villager, a man named Shakaar (and good friend of Kira who fought with her during the occupation), refuses to give back the equipment until the end of harvest season. Kira tries to set up a meeting between Kai and Shakaar to reach a compromise, but Kai has him arrested instead.

Kai insists the equipment is needed for a land project that will yield plentiful crops for trade, but as Sisko discovers, the actions taken by Winn aren't really about that and could lead to a civil war.

"This is a test by the prophets to see if I'm worthy to be first minister and Kai" she tells a stunned Sisko.

To put the matter to rest, Shakaar calls a truce to Bajor security and he and Kira inform the security commander of what Kai's true intentions are.

The episodes ends with Skakaar deciding to run for provisional leader in a fair election with the backing of the security forces, giving crazy Kai a run for her money.

In the end, reason wins out over religious tyranny.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Best in Worst Kept Secrets---Family Business

In "Family Business," Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir left their "lucky" dart board in Quark's locked bar. Quark is away on family matters and as the men attempt to open the lock placed on the bar by Rom, they get a visit from Commander Sisko. Seems Jake's spread the word that he's found the perfect mate for his dad.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Best of DS9---Improbable Cause & The Die is Cast

The first part of this two-parter was written by Rene Echevarria,  Robert Lederman, and David R. Long and directed by Avery Brooks.

Here, we find an assassination attempt on Garak. But through investigation, Odo figures out Garak set the bomb that destroyed his shop himself in order to draw attention to the fact that there is in fact an assassin on the space station. All of his previous targets were close associations of Enabran Tain, Garak's mentor when both worked in the Obsidian Order.

Odo and Garak take a runabout to find Tain and warn him about the assassinations. Tain reveals a plan to destroy the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant, with the help of the Romulan Tal Shiar, and had his associates killed in order to consolidate his power in the Obsidian Order.  Tain offers Garak a place back in Cardassian society if he agrees to join them.

In part two, The Die is Cast, written by Ronald D. Moore, Tain wants Garak to prove his loyalty by getting Odo to give him all information about his people---the Changeling founders. Scientists in the Order have invented a device, a prototype, that inhibits a Changeling from changing shape. Garak agrees to do the interrogation, but only to keep the Romulans from doing it.

As Odo is prevented from going through his reveujanating cycle, he suffers and reveals the founders live in a lake and Odo desires to join them.

Having compassion for Odo, Garak turns off the device and allows Odo to return to his liquid state. He then tells Tain he got nothing new for information out of Odo.

What I liked about this episode were the plot twists that added to the excitement. For one, I found the Romulan Commander Lovok a little too much like a Vulcan---logical and even compassionate. He agrees with Garak to allow Odo to live because otherwise his death would create more conflict with the Federation. Lovok offers to take Odo back to Romulus for further study.

It was at this point that I suspected that Lovok wasn't what he claimed to be. Sure enough, he reveals to Odo that he's a Changeling and helps him and Garak escape to a runabout.

In the meantime, the Defiant sets off to the Gamma Quadrant to find Odo and engages the Jem'Hadar ships, as does Tain's ship, which is destroyed in the battle. Tain and his crew realize they've been had when they fire upon the founder's home planet and there's no change in life signs. Then out comes the Jem'Hadar brigade. It was a trap! Brilliant! The Changeling, as Lovok, helped set the plan in motion to trap and destroy Tain's ships and prevent the destruction of the Dominion.

The episode also developed a new friendship and trust between Odo and Garak, and were both brilliantly played by Rene Auberjonois and Andrew Robinson respectively.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Worst of Star Trek: DS9---Through the Looking Glass

"Through the Looking Glass" is the 19th episode of the 3rd season.

I'll cut right to the chase. It was horrible.

It starts off promising. Chief O'Brien holds Commander Sisko at phaser point and orders him to the shuttlebay.

It goes downhill from here. This is not exactly a sequel to "Crossover," although it picks up where the last episode left off---with a rebellion of the Terrans against the rule of an alliance involving the Cardassians and the Klingons. O'Brien's counterpart is a Terranian slave and joins the rebellion. Their leader, the alternate Sisko, is killed by the alternate Kira's alliance goons in a ship explosion. Therefore, the mirror universe O'Brien risks everything to go through the wormhole/space anomaly and snatch Sisko to pick up where their Sisko left off.

The idea is to prevent Jennifer Sisko from developing a new type of sensor array that is intended to snuff out the rebels headquarters. And yeah, she's alive in this universe and has disdain for her late husband. So, let's get the other Sisko to persuade this Jennifer to join them and abandon the project. So our Sisko uses every ounce of charm, wit, and sensitivity to win over the other Jennifer and succeeds in getting her to join the rebel force.

What makes this episode so unbearable is the exaggerated way in which the actors portray their mirrors. I can't decide which is worse---the way Nana Visitor sways her buttocks in the silver-gray tights while sashaying around with a maniacal grin on her make-up plastered face, or the inane dialogue that sounds like it was written by teenagers going through their own rebellious stage while fantasizing about easy biker chicks.

The episode's one saving grace is the actual scene between our universe Sisko and the mirror universe Jennifer. It was a scene worthy of the franchise in the midst of a show worthy of "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kai Gets Kicked in the Kaboos---Life Support

In "Life Support," Vedek Bareil is critically injured in a shuttlecraft explosion. Despite his slowly dying of his injuries, Kai wants him at peace negotiations with the Cardassians and Vedek is willing to risk his life to accomplish this. Dr. Bashir has other plans that could save the life of his patient and has a heart to heart with the seemingly indifferent Kai.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Best of Star Trek: Deep Space 9---Past Tense (pt. 1 & 2)

"Past Tense" was written by:
Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Part I)
Ira Steven Behr (Part II)
RenĂ© Echevarria (Part II)
courtesy of Wikipedia

Commander Sisko, Dr. Bashir, and Jadzia Dax beam to down San Francisco for a synposium about the Gamma Quadrant. They land in the right spot but in the wrong time. Seems there was something to do with "polarized chronitron particles" that caused the rift through time. Way to go Chief O'Brien for figuring that out! Guess his time on The Enterprise helped prepare him for something like this. The only thing O'Brien had a hard time figuring out was when exactly they were. He manages to narrow it down to a dozen possibilities. But it's imperative that they figure out how to get them back because when they try contacting Starfleet headquarters, they only get silence. Seems our landing party trio messed things up in the past.

Meanwhile, The trio have landed in 2024 and America is in the throes of economic collapse, the type often depicted in dystopia novels. Those without work are put in Sanctuary's, camps more like dilapidated ghettos. People fight over rations and food cards. Sisko knows a lot about American history. Good thing too because a man responsible for getting hostages released in the processing center is killed when he tries to intervene in a brawl involving Sisko and Bashir. Now Sisko knows he has to change the change in the timeline. He assumes the identity of the man killed, the one who helped usher in changes that helped pave the way for the future of the Federation and its existence.

Dax had somehow got separated from the other two and enlists the aid of a corporate exec to help her find her "friends." He takes Dax under his wing and introduces her to his dinner guests. Dax uses her feminine beauty to her advantage to get her new found protector to help her find a way into the Sanctuary. She convinces him to help the hostage takers get control of the internet in order to spread the word about the reality of the sanctuaries.

As Sisko and Bashir inform Dax about the history they have to correct, O'Brien and Kira are busy going through the loops in time in hopes of finding the right one. 

It ends when processors who were taken hostage realize in the aftermath of the national guard sweeps that a police state is not all it's cracked up to be. The truth sets them free and restores the timeline in the 24th century.

This episode was well written and exciting. It also speaks to our time. As any good dystopian story, it works like a warning, a cautionary tale of what can happen when people and institutions like government fail to tackle problems as they arise and instead allow them to escalate to the point of anarchy and civil unrest. 

It's also a bit prophetic. Many recent crisis, especially the ones in Syria and Libya, gained world wide recognition through social media; raising awareness to their plights of injustice and tyranny. 

Back on the ship, Sisko and Bashir discuss the injustices they witnessed in the 21st century. Bashir: "Having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don't understand. How could they have let things get so bad?" Sisko: "That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."

One highlight is Clint Howard playing a crazy sanctuary dweller who believes himself invisible. He had stolen Dax combadge. She tells him she's an alien working to protect the Earth from it's enemies (a story any sane person would reject even though it's the reality in the plot.) He believes her and returns the badge.

Gul Dukat Gets His Comeuppance in Civil Defense

In "Civil Defense," an old security system is reactivated while O'Brien does routine maintenance, making the computers think a Bajoran terrorist attack is in progress. Gul Dukat arrives at the station after getting an automated message from himself about the security breach. He offers Major Kira a deal--allow permanent Cardassian presence on the station in exchange for information on how to deactivate the auto destruct sequence. But there's one thing he didn't anticipate...