“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 2 (Episodes 12-14)

Episode 12: The Alternate

[Dr. Mora is talking about the time he discovered Odo]

Dax: When did you realize you were dealing with a sentient life form?

Odo: He didn’t. I had to teach him that myself.

Odo (Rene Auberjonois) gets a visit from Dr. Mora Pol (James Sloyan), the scientist who researched him in a laboratory on Bajor. Mora seems to be unhappy w/ Odo’s decision to leave Bajor for DS9; Odo resents the way the scientist treated him. Mora tells of a science probe that recently scanned a planet (in the Gamma Quadrant) and found DNA patterns looking like his own! Sisko agrees to let Odo, Mora, Dax (Terry Farrell) and Dr. Weld take a runabout. On the planet, they find a mysterious pillar and Dr. Weld finds the lifeform (obviously a clump of iron filings in a Petri dish w/ a magnet underneath to make it move).

Dr. Mora was originally to be played by Auberjonois himself, much as Data’s creator, Dr. Noonian Soong, was played by Brent Spiner. This plan was scrapped, as it would take too much time each day to get Auberjonois out of one type of make-up and into another. The teleplay was written by Morgan Gendel, who also wrote on TNG, as well as many TV series. The natural conflicts arising in the father-son relationship are explored, but w/ a twist (as Dr. Mora isn’t Odo’s biological father). The two actors did a fine job portraying their conflicting ideas and emotions; I think teens and younger people will esp. relate. There is also a mystery element, as the lifeform grows and transforms.

Episode 13: The Armageddon Game

Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and O’Brien (Colm Meaney) are in a lab in orbit of T’Lani III; they are helping the T’Lani and Kellerun to destroy dangerous bio weapons (harvesters). These were used by both races in a long/brutal war. Bashir and O’Brien manage to neutralize one of the harvesters and both sides are very happy; they invite them to a celebration that night. When the last harvester is about to be destroyed, two armed Kellerun enter the lab and start shooting! Bashir and O’Brien are the only ones able to escape down to the planet. O’Brien starts repairing a transmitter; he feels cold and gets sick. Meanwhile, the T’Lani and Kellerun ambassadors travel to DS9, bringing news that Bashir and O’Brien died in an accident.

Chief O’Brien: Listen to me, Julian! You’re the one who’s always talking about adventure. Huh… adventure… Oh… marriage is the greatest adventure of them all. It’s filled with pitfalls and setbacks and mistakes and… But it’s a journey worth taking… ’cause you take it together.

This ep (also written by Gendel) is generally seen as the beginning of the O’Brien/Bashir friendship which would become important over the seasons. Bashir helps O’Brien w/ the transmitter, as he took some Engineering classed in the Academy. They get into talking about some personal stuff; we learn that Bashir chose Starfleet over love (a ballerina he met while in med school). This was a very good ep which kept my interest; the convo between O’Brien and Keiko (Rosalind Chao) is the best part (last scene)!

Episode 14: Whispers

O’Brien is on his way to the planet Parada to warn them about something and is chased by the crew of DS9 through the wormhole. In his log, he tells what happened. DS9 was supposed to host peace talks between the Paradans and a rebel faction; O’Brien was supposed to make sure the security was taken care of. He noticed something strange when Keiko and Molly didn’t seem to be themselves. He found out another engineer was ordered by Sisko (Avery Brooks) to work on the security measures. Sisko told him to concentrate on the repair of the upper pylons and ordered him to undergo a medical exam.

[Dr. Bashir is carrying out a physical check-up on O’Brien]

O’Brien: Are you nearly finished? I believe you’ve poked into every orifice in my body – and created a few new ones!

This ep (written by Paul Robert Coyle) may remind some viewers of the 1982 movie Blade Runner; we even hear the term “replicant.” It also has many similarities to Philip K. Dick’s 1953 story Impostor. There are a few funny moments w/ O’Brien and Bashir. The sense of paranoia is created by the directing style, as well as the acting and music.

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 2 (Episodes 7-10)

Episode 7: Rules of Acquisition

Quark: [smiles] I see you know your rules.

Pel: [nods] All 285 of them. And the various commentaries as well… I don’t plan on being a waiter forever.

A group of Ferengi are playing a game of Tongo w/ Dax (Terry Farrell). Pel (Helene Udy), a new Ferengi waiter in the bar, has an idea to ensure that customers are always thirsty. Suddenly, Quark (Armin Shimerman) gets a message on subspace from Grand Nagus Zek (veteran actor Wallace Shawn), who has chosen him as the chief negotiator for new business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant. First, Quark must prove himself by negotiating w/ the Dosi to acquire 10,000 vats of tulaberry wine. Zek believes this can be the key to opening other markets. Zek convinces Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Kira (Nana Visitor) to have this conference on DS9.

Zek: Most of my information consists of little more than hints and whispers, but it’s enough to convince me that whoever learns the secret of the Dominion, whatever that may be, will learn the secret of the Gamma Quadrant.

This ep was written by Ira Steven Behr from a story by Hilary Bader and edited by (TNG veteran) Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Behr was responsible for fleshing out the Ferengi (one of his favorite aliens). It’s the first ep that mentions “the Dominion,” the Gamma Quadrant power which will dominate later on in the series. Shawn is always fun to watch; even under layers of prosthetics, he still has a big personality and twinkle in his eye. Even in his advanced age, Zek has an eye for women; he hits on Kira several times! The Ferengi were often used as comic relief, but this ep is deeper (focused on gender equality).

Episode 8: Necessary Evil

[In a flashback scene]

Kira: Unofficially or not, you’re working for the Cardassians. Sooner or later you’re gonna have to choose whose side you’re on.

Odo: I don’t choose sides.

Kira: Everyone has to choose sides, Constable.

Quark is on Bajor negotiating w/ a glamourous woman, Pallra (Katherine Moffat), who wants him to retrieve a hidden strongbox from DS9. Quark and Rom (Max Grodenchik) have no problem finding the box, but Quark’s curiosity makes him open it. He finds a list of Bajoran names, but before he can copy it, he gets shot! Odo (Rene Auberjonois) is immediately reminded of a case several yrs back, when he was forced by Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) to investigate the murder of the owner of a chemist’s shop, Vaatrick (husband of Pallra).

Odo: [voice-over] Nobody ever had to teach me the justice trick. That’s something I’ve always known. A racial memory from my species, I guess. It’s really the only clue I have to what kind of people they are…

This great ep was written by a veteran of TV series, Peter Allan Fields; it’s a mystery w/ elements of film noir (a genre I’ve been watching a LOT in quarantine). There is murder, a detective (Odo), a femme fatale (Pallra), and secrets to be uncovered. The elaborate costumes and headpieces worn by Pallra reminded me of the 1940s. This was Odo’s first case as a (unofficial) lawman and the first time he and Kira interact. The lighting and mood of the flashback scenes showed us how dark and depressing DS9 used to be under the Cardassian occupation.

Episode 9: Second Sight

It has been 4 yrs since Sisko’s wife died and he is a bit down lately. He’s walking late one night on the Promenade, when suddenly he gets approached by a beautiful woman, Fenna (Salli Richardson). Sisko talks w/ her, but she disappears suddenly. He sees her again the next day, but when he asks personal questions, she disappears again! Sisko asks Odo to investigate. Meanwhile, Dax is working w/ the brilliant/egotistical Prof. Gideon Seyetik (veteran actor Richard Kiley; the dad from The Thorn Birds), famous for terraforming planets. He’s on DS9 to prepare for his most ambitious project- re-igniting the dead star (Epsilon 119). Terraforming technology is based upon the Genesis Device (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). Some viewers commented that this ep isn’t very interesting (I agree); it reminded some of TOS (not in a good way)!

Episode 10: Sanctuary

Haneek: Men are far too emotional to be leaders. They’re constantly fighting amongst themselves. It’s their favorite thing to do.

DS9 beams aboard four aliens who just traveled through the wormhole on a damaged ship. The universal translator has a hard time picking up their language, but eventually they identify themselves as Skrreeans. The female, Haneek (Deborah May), tells they are a race conquered by the T-Rogorans, who in turn were recently been conquered by the Dominion. Most of their leaders were killed; now 3 million Skrreeans are looking for a new home. According to legend, their ancestral home is located behind “the Eye of the Universe” (the wormhole). Sisko and Kira agree to help and soon hundreds of refugees visit the station. While Sisko thinks he found a fine planet to relocate them- Haneek makes a discovery of her own.

Odo: It’s gonna get awfully crowded around here, Commander.

Sisko: I know, Constable, but it’s worth it. Just look at them. They’re experiencing their first taste of freedom.

The music Varani (veteran actor William Schallert; dad of Doogie Howser, MD) is playing in Quark’s bar is a variant of the DS9 theme song. Schallert played Nilz Baris in TOS (The Trouble with Tribbles). Andrew Koenig, who plays Tumak, is the son of Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov in TOS. Kitty Swink, who plays the Bajoran minister Rozahn, is Shimerman’s wife. This is also the first appearance of Leland Orser on a ST show.

This ep contains the second reference to the Dominion; the race which Haneek mentioned as having conquered the T-Rogorans were presumably the Jem’Hadar. It starts out somewhat light/comedic, but then the aliens get developed and the tension builds. I got invested in the story, which brings to mind the real refugee crisis (in our modern world). I’m not sure why it has such a low rating! Michael Piller decided to write a downbeat ending to this ep and invert the happy one in Frederick Rappaport’s teleplay. Piller felt the story would carry more resonance; Behr liked the dark conclusion.

Hitchcock’s 50th Film: “Torn Curtain” (1966) starring Paul Newman & Julie Andrews

Prof. Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman- the hottest scientist ever) is heading via boat to Copenhagen to attend a conference w/ his assistant/fiancée, Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews). Once they arrive, Michael informs her that he’ll be staying for a while and she should go home. Sarah follows him and realizes Michael is actually going to East Germany (behind the Iron Curtain). She is shocked when Michael announces that he’s defecting; the U.S. government cancelled his project after 6 yrs. In truth, Michael is there to get info (which a professional spy couldn’t understand) from another nuclear physicist!

I did not have to act in ‘Torn Curtain’. I merely went along for the ride. I don’t feel that the part demanded much of me, other than to look glamorous, which Mr. Hitchcock can always arrange better than anyone. I did have reservations about this film, but I wasn’t agonized by it. The kick of it was working for Hitchcock. That’s what I did it for, and that’s what I got out of it. -Julie Andrews

The idea behind this film came from the defections of British diplomats (Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean) to the Soviet Union in 1951. Sir Alfred Hitchcock was very intrigued re: Maclean’s life in the Soviet Union, incl. about Melinda Marling (his wife) who followed her husband a year later w/ their three children. In the end, Hitch was so unhappy w/ this movie that he didn’t make a trailer w/ his appearance in it (as was his habit). Bernard Herrmann (composer) wrote an original score, but Universal execs convinced the director on something more upbeat. Hitchcock and Herrmann had a big fight and never worked together again! Steven Spielberg admitted on Inside the Actors Studio (1994) that as a young man he snuck onto the soundstage; he was there for 45 mins. before an assistant producer asked him to leave.

I think Hitch and I could have really hit it off, but the script kept getting in the way. -Paul Newman

The working relationship between Hitch and Newman was problematic; the actor came from a different generation than Cary Grant and James Stewart. He questioned the director re: the script and his characterization, which Hitch later said he found “unacceptable and disrespectful.” As a Method actor, Newman consulted Hitch about his character’s motivations; Hitch replied that his “motivation is your salary.” Also, no romantic chemistry developed between Newman and Andrews (another disappointment to the director). Though the screenplay drags along, the colorful Eastern European supporting actors do fine w/ what they are given. Many critics/viewers recalled the (memorable) killing scene where Gromek fights Armstrong and a housekeeper in the farmhouse.

[1] Pity. I love Hitchcock. There is a detachment here never seen before in a Hitch flick. As if the master was tired or uninterested.

[2] The main thing about Torn Curtain is the photography. It’s full of pretty pictures- one of the most beautifully filmed of all Hitchcock’s films, with lots bold swaths of primary colors and attractive and constantly changing locations…

[3] This was Alfred Hitchcock’s last star vehicle. At the time this was made Julie Andrews was fresh from Mary Poppins and had all kinds of roles offered her. …she and Newman really have no chemistry at all.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Two Early Noir Films starring Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake

This Gun for Hire (1942)

Gates: Raven… how do you feel when you’re doing…

[indicates murder headlines]

Gates: this?

Raven: I feel fine.

Hit man Philip Raven (Alan Ladd), who’s kind to kids and stray cats, kills a blackmailer and is paid off by Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) in “hot” $10 bills. A magician and girlfriend of a cop, Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake), is enlisted by a Senator to help investigate Gates, who is an exec at the Nitro Chemical Company. Raven, following Gates to get revenge, meets Ellen on a train from San Fran to LA. They eventually go from killer and potential victim to working together against a common enemy.

Ruby: What’s the matter? You look like you’ve been on a hayride with Dracula.

This tightly edited (81 mins.) early noir is loosely based on This Gun For Hire by Graham Greene. This was one of the earliest American films released in the years of WWII which specifically takes place in wartime; it opened 5 mos. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The petite/delicate-featured Lake was paired up w/ boyish newcomer Ladd (who was a good match at only 5’6″). The movie bills Lake and Robert Preston above the title, Cregar just below the title, and Ladd last in big type as “Introducing Alan Ladd.” However, Ladd had appeared in 40+ films in unbilled and minor parts.

[1] This is a straight-forward, linear, quick-moving story… …it’s still an entertaining movie, and probably close to required viewing if you enjoy noir and/or Forties movies.

[2] While many period pieces are “appreciated”, this one still provides a jolt of adrenaline right from the opening scene… He’s a bad man, no doubt about it, and his portrayal throughout most of the movie is surprisingly dark, even by today’s standards.

[3] This was Ladd’s breakthrough movie and he’s very good in it. I don’t think he was much of an actor, but he had a lot of star presence, especially in the movies he made in the Forties. There was always something passive but potentially dangerous about him. His looks could have kept him in the pretty boy category, but for whatever reason didn’t.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Johnny: [after being picked up] You gotta have more sense than to take chances with strangers like this.

Joyce: It’s funny but practically all the people were strangers when I met them.

When naval officer Johnny Morrison (Ladd) comes home to LA, he finds his wife, Helen (Doris Dowling), partying and kissing another man, Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva), the owner of The Blue Dahlia nightclub. Helen admits her drunkenness caused a car accident which resulted in the death of their young son. Johnny pushes her around some, then pulls a gun on her, but then runs out. Johnny is picked up by a young woman (Lake) in the rain. Later, Helen is found dead and Johnny becomes the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Johnny’s two war buddies get an apt in town, and then are questioned by the cops.

Elizabeth Short (a young aspiring actress) got the nickname “The Black Dahlia” from a bartender at a Long Beach bar she frequented. This film was playing at a theater down the street, and the bartender got the name wrong. Elizabeth kept the nickname, adding a flower to her hair to complete the transformation. She was murdered the next year (1947). The local newspapers dubbed the case the “Black Dahlia” (the murder case is still unsolved).

Johnny: Every guy’s seen you before somewhere. The trick is to find you.

The screenplay was written by Raymond Chandler; he claimed that producer John Houseman was in “the doghouse” and director George Marshall “was a stale old hack”, so Chandler went on to the Paramount set to direct some of the scenes himself. Chandler was unhappy with Lake’s performance; he called her “Miss Moronica Lake” and complained in a letter: “The only times she’s good is when she keeps her mouth shut and looks mysterious. The moment she tries to behave as if she had a brain she falls flat on her face.” A few scenes were cut b/c he claimed Lake messed up too badly. The ending was changed b/c the Naval War Office objected.

[1]… Bendix steals the show as a G.I. who suffered brain damage in World War II. He is something to see and his wise-cracking lines are some of the best ever delivered in a film noir.

[2] … strikes all the right ultra-tough chords, and although Veronica Lake is a rather wooden actress she is remarkably beautiful and as a team the pair has considerable chemistry [w/ Ladd].

The film cracks along at a rapid pace with plenty of action and a surprise twist or two that will keep you guessing to the very end.

[3] It’s a very bleak tale of returning war veterans’ findings when they reach “home.” Unfaithful wife, hoodlums, and just general corruption and bleakness. The scenes with Veronica Lake are the shafts of light in this one’s blackness.. all in all it conjours up dark images in one’s mind.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Hitchcock’s “Saboteur” (1942) starring Priscilla Lane & Robert Cummings

[Philip, a blind man, explains to Patricia why he believes Barry is innocent]

Phillip: Don’t you know I can see a great deal farther than you can? I can see intangible things. For example, innocence.

A young L.A. aircraft worker, Barry Kane (Robert Cummings- who later co-starred in Dial M for Murder) evades arrest after he is unfairly accused of sabotage. Following leads, he travels cross-country and ends up in NYC, trying to clear his name by exposing fascists hiding behind money/respectability. Along the way, he meets a young model, Pat Martin (Priscilla Lane), as well as some quirky/colorful characters. There are brief appearances by Sir Alfred Hitchcock (in front of drugstore) and Robert Mitchum (on stairs in the factory).

Pat: If it had been any other sort of crime, if a man had stolen because he was starving, even if a man had committed murder to defend himself, maybe I wouldn’t tell the police. But there’s only one reason why men commit sabotage, and that’s worse than murder.

Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper or Joel McCrea for the lead; Cooper wasn’t interested in a thriller and McCrea was busy. The director thought that Cummings was “a competent performer,” but found his performance, and the movie, suffered because he “belongs to the light-comedy class of actors” and had “an amusing face, so that even when he’s in desperate straits, his features don’t convey any anguish.” Hitch thought Lane “simply wasn’t the right type” for his picture; he preferred Margaret Sullavan or Barbara Stanwyck. Hitch was esp. upset re: not getting the villain he wanted. To convey the sense of the homegrown fascists being regular people, the ones you’d least likely suspect, he wanted former silent movie actor/Western star- Harry Carey. Although the script was originally written w/ Germans in mind as the villains, he decided not to mention “Germans” at all.

Charles Tobin: When you think about it, Mr. Kane, the competence of totalitarian nations is much higher than ours. They get things done.

Saboteur is one of Hitch’s “wrong man” films, where the protagonist is falsely accused of a crime. It’s similar to one of his earlier British films, The 39 Steps (1935), as many viewers have noted. We find Hitchcock feeling his way around America (literally); there are elaborate sets in this film. The ranch house of Charles Tobin (Otto Kruger) was later used as the home of the Brenner’s on The Birds (1963). The special effects crew took pics of the Statue of Liberty’s raised hand, her torch, and the ledge beneath it; these were re-created to scale on a Universal soundstage.

[1] The opening fire is filmed in a very stylish manner with black smoke slowly engulfing the screen; the set-piece with the circus troupe is quirky with memorable characters… there’s also a great sequence in a cinema… but best of all is the final set-piece atop the Statue of Liberty, it’s exciting stuff with excellent set design too.

[2] The darker elements of the narrative and the sharp wit of literary maven Dorothy Parker (during her brief stint in Hollywood…) who co-authored the script were a perfect match for Hitchcock’s sensibilities.

[3] I like Priscilla Lane because her character is a more involved in the action than Madeline Carroll in “The 39 Steps” and Ruth Roman in “Strangers on a Train.” …Otto Kruger steals the show as the villain.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews