Friday 20 August 2021

The great COVID lockdown DS9 rewatch: Season 3 wrap up

Look out, it's the Season 3 finale!

Season 3 has seen a huge shift in the nature of the show: it's always had a bit of Buffy to it (episodic, seasonal, and show story arcs running all simultaneously), but this is really upping the ante. 

For the first time, there's a truly epic story is being spun out in what will become The Dominion War.

A mighty fine ship you have there, sir

Explorers (Season 3, Episode 22)

So right after the Cardassians and Romulans provoke the Dominion with the fabulous two parter,Improbable CauseandThe Die is Cast, Sisko decides to build a Bajoran solar sail ship and go on a father & son trip into deep space. Gul Dukat rings him up to warn Sisko this is a batshit crazy idea and not to go, and when Sisko asks what kind of hazards he might run into, Dukat does not mention The Dominion! 

Bizarre, given what happened just an episode ago, and what will happen in a few episodes hence.

So there’s long form narrative intermingling with the episodic, making the show a little schizophrenic. Honestly, if war was imminently looming, I’m not so sure Sisko would build his solar sail ship and fly away. 

Seems quixotic. 

The greatest threat to the Alpha Quadrant since The Borg, and people keep forgetting all about them. Like Churchill, during the Blitz, deciding he’s going to build his own yacht and sail to France.

The story is charming anyway, and the interior design of the solar sail ship is fabulous. The CGI work not so much.

I do appreciate is how infrequently they use special effects compared to the newer iterations of Trek. They didn’t have the budget to fill the screen with hundreds of ships and a bajillion laser beams. Hence you can still follow what’s going on. The new shows have so much spectacular shit on screen at any one time it just becomes a great big flashy smear. 

O’Brian admits in this episode that he HATED Bashir at first. And then he says, ‘and now… I don’t.” Talk about tepid endorsements ‘from the heart’. 

It’s hilarious.

DS9 is at it’s funniest when it leverages the characters flaws. There’s one episode where it tries to do farce, and it’s… not that good. Nor is it that funny. The understated humorous moments between Quark, Odo and Garak are a real gas, and they’re based on character. They don’t break the bubble of disbelief or undermine the character (much). 

The episode ends with Gul Dukat welcoming them to Cardassia. They’ve managed to make the trip and prove the ancient Bajorans could have. The Cardassians then put on a fireworks display to welcome them with. It’s a really nice moment; it even makes you like Dukat, if only for a moment. He’s a bad man, no doubt about it, but still believes he’s the hero. Far more nuanced than many villains in Trek, and certainly more so than anyone in Star Wars.

It’s ironic that Obi Wan condemns Anakin for being binary in his thinking: “Only a Sith thinks in absolutes!” Hello? This is a universe that divides itself between Light and Dark sides, and even the people in-between inevitably cut one way or the other (Jabba, Lando, etc). 

Talk to me more about bad absolutes, Obi Wan. Trek owns you on nuance, hands down, every which way to Sunday and beyond, you Basic spewing laser brain.

Curzon-Odo oozing obnoxiousness

Facets (Episode 25)
Dax has the spirits of her former host inhabit her friends on DS9. It gives us a better picture of Curzon, whom we've been hearing about for three seasons. He comes across as a selfish, willful blowhard, and far less appealing than the writers evidently think he is. Charisma matched with lack of care for others. Yikes. Curzon and Odo decide to cohabit in the body of the shape shifter. 

Apparently Odo feels this is an educational and beneficial arrangement for himself, and in the short term, I imagine it would be. The idea of the Trill is pretty interesting, how they merge with their host, rather than having two competing consciousnesses, and yet, once separated they are very much independent. Just what goes on in Jadzia/Dax’s head?

It’s hopefully not as bad as what Sisko experienced with Dax’s murderer host. That was downright creepy. 

But what happened to that short term host dude who abducted and implanted Dax a season ago?

No idea.

Getting up close and too personal

The Adversary (Season Finale)
Sisko is finally promoted to Captain! I kind of thought he was a captain already, but a commander is a rank below captain. I wasn’t sure if that was just the designation for the head of a Starbase. There is much celebrating, during which a Federation ambassador pulls Sisko aside to let him know there’s been a coup on an allied world. 

Time to show the flag and head in with the USS Defiant. Except, there’s been no coup, and that’s not the ambassador. It’s, as one famous space admiral once said, a trap! A changeling has orchestrated it all, in an attempt to start a war between the two powers, thereby weakening the Federation. 

This is Star Trek meets The Thing: a shape shifting alien gets loose aboard the Defiant, impersonating people and objects, and making everyone paranoid. It’s not as horrifying as the alien in The Thing, but it is set on blowing the ship apart and killing everyone aboard. 

The Dominion agent offers to save Odo, but he’s having none of it and, for the first time ever, a changeling kills another changeling. 

Before the dastardly ambassador impersonator flees this mortal coil, he tells Odo that it’s too late, changeling imposters are everywhere.

Queue the fourth season!

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