“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 16 (“The Forsaken”)

[Bashir has been assigned to chaperone a trio of visiting diplomats]

Sisko: Think of it as an opportunity, Doctor. You never know when a friendly ambassador is going to be in the right place at the right time to help your career.

Bashir: Another hour with them could destroy my career!

Sisko: It’s a simple job: just keep them happy, and away from me.

Bashir: Simple? Nothing makes them happy! They are dedicated to being unhappy, and to spreading that unhappiness wherever they go! They are the Ambassadors of Unhappy!

Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig)- the first year senior officer- has to take care of a delegation of (high-maintenance) ambassadors visiting DS9. Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) didn’t want to deal w/ them, so he gave the job to the eager, enthusiastic doctor. In Quark’s bar, the ambassador from Betazed, gets robbed of her brooch. Majel Barrett Roddenberry (AKA “The First Lady of Star Trek”) has her first guest starring role as Lwaxana Troi. She wears an elaborate blonde wig; she also wore a blonde wig when she played Nurse Chapel in TOS. Odo is able to find the thief; Mrs. Troi is very interested in him! An ongoing joke concerning her love interests recurs here; notice Odo anxiously looking around as he exits a turbolift, fearing running into her. Capt. Picard acted similarly when Mrs. Troi was on board the Enterprise in TNG: “Half a Life.” The story about a brief affair w/ a Ferengi leader refers to events in “Ménage à Troi.”

Lwaxana: Mm. All the men I’ve known have needed to be shaped and molded and manipulated, and finally I’ve met a man who knows how to do it himself.

O’Brien is fed up w/ the (Cardassian-built) computer. It gives opinions on his commands, so he suggests installing a new one to Sisko. An object appears from the Gamma Quadrant which looks like a probe, but has a sophisticated computer. After downloading information from it, O’Brien notices the station’s computer seems to be working better.

Odo: Frankly, in my humble opinion, most of you humanoids spend far too much time on your respective mating rituals.

Sisko: It does help the procreation of one’s species.

Odo: Procreation does not require changing how you smell, or writing bad poetry, or sacrificing various plants to serve as tokens of affection.

The computer starts to malfunction, leaving Odo and Mrs. Troi trapped in a turbolift. Lwaxana, who loves elaborate clothes and seeks romance around every corner, isn’t only played for comedy. On TNG, the Enterprise crew saw her mainly as Counselor Deanna Troi’s overprotective mom. Here we see here as a kind, sensitive, and likable character (underneath the larger-than-life personality). Eventually, Odo tells her about his life, and we see another side of the gruff lawman. The actors have good chemistry in their scenes.

[Lwaxana Troi has taken off her wig]

Lwaxana: No one’s ever seen me like this.

Odo: Why? It looks fine.

Lwaxana: It looks ordinary. I’ve never cared to be ordinary. So you see, Odo, even we non-shapeshifters have to change who we are once in a while.

Odo: You are not at all what I expected.

Lwaxana: No one’s ever paid me a greater compliment.

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 1, Episode 7 (“Dax”)

The teleplay for this ep was co-written by the fabulous Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana; she wrote several eps of TOS and improved many others as script editor. Fontana (only in her mid-to-late 20s) was pivotal in developing the character of Spock and Vulcan culture in TOS; she later wrote some TNG eps. If you like courtroom drama and strong character development, then you’ll enjoy this story. I think it’s the strongest ep (so far) in S1.

After having Klingon coffee (raktajino) and getting hit on (yup, again) by Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig), Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) walks toward her quarters. On the way, she is attacked by three hooded aliens in a corridor. Bashir tries to intercede, but gets knocked out in a fight. These aliens know how to get around the station’s security controls, so they quickly reach their ship and set off. Luckily, Major Kira (Nana Visitor) pulls it back w/ a tractor beam (yay). Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) demands answers for the assault and attempted kidnapping of his science officer. Ilon Tandro (Gregory Itzin) insists he has the right to take Dax back to Klaestron IV, as Dax is accused of murder and treason! According to Ilon, his father Gen. Tandro (a martyred hero to his people) was murdered and betrayed by Curzon 30 yrs ago.

Cmdr. Sisko: I want you to find all the medical evidence you can to support the theory that Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax are two entirely separate people. Major…

Dr. Bashir: Excuse me, sir, I-I don’t know that there is any medical evidence on that.

Cmdr. Sisko: Assume there is, then find it.

[Sisko has asked Kira to search for precedents involving Trills]

Major Kira: Is a Trill responsible for the conduct – for the acts – of its antecedent selves?

Cmdr. Sisko: Right, that kind of thing.

Major Kira: What if I find the answer is yes?

Cmdr. Sisko: Then that answer is wrong. From this minute on, our answer is “no.”

After the above scene (in Sisko’s office), we see that the world of DS9 is going to be different from that of TNG. Could you imagine Picard saying these lines? No way, life is black or white on the Enterprise! A no-nonsense/sassy Bajoran arbitrator, Renora (veteran character actress Anne Haney), holds a hearing to determine if Jadzia (only 28 y.o.) can be held responsible for a crime supposedly committed by Curzon (the previous host of the Dax symbiont). Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) travels to Klaestron IV to look for some evidence that could help Jadzia; he meets w/ Gen. Tandro’s widow, Enina (veteran Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan). This actress (who also has a strong theater background, like Auberjonois) did a terrific job w/ her role!

Renora: This will be an informal hearing, so I’m going to start with some informal advice: I am one hundred years old. I do not have time to squander listening to superfluous language. In short, I intend to be in here until supper, not senility.

As the hearing goes on, Sisko is frustrated by the fact that Dax says nothing in her own defense. I really liked the scene in her quarters; we learn more re: both characters and see their developing (friend) chemistry. Like many fans and critics, I wish Dax had more lines in this ep; Farrell does a good job. The actress admitted to being intimidated (at first) w/ portraying a character over 300 yrs old who had lived many lives.

…finally get an episode centered on Dax. She has been seriously neglected as a character up to this point, including the aspects of her complicated relationship to Sisko, and this episode does a bit to explore that relationship.

It nicely explores the morality of holding holding one host responsible for the sins of the previous host and whether it is the host or the symbiont which is responsible.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: TNG” – Season 6, Episodes 16 & 17 (“Birthright, Parts I & II”)

Part I

[Dr. Bashir has commented on Data’s more “human” attributes.]
Data: Most people are interested in my extraordinary abilities – how fast I can compute, my memory capacity, how long I will live. No one has ever asked me if my hair will grow, or noticed that I can breathe.
Bashir: Well, your creator went to a lot of trouble to make you seem human. I find that fascinating.

This TNG ep (written by Brannon Braga and edited by Rene Echevarria) originally aired between “Q-less” and “Dax” in S1 of DS9. While the Enterprise helps repair damages to DS9, a mysterious alien (James Cromwell) approaches Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), claiming his father wasn’t killed in the battle of Khitomer 25 yrs ago, but is still alive and held in a Romulan prison camp. At first, Worf rebuffs this, for the dishonor it would bring his family. He changes his mind after talking to Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner). Lt. La Forge (LeVar Burton) helps Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) conduct an experiment w/ alien technology (found in the Gamma Quadrant). The equipment surges w/ power and a plasma shock knocks out Data. He experiences a vision of his “father” (creator), Dr. Noonien Soong.

Dr. Soong: I wasn’t sure you’d ever develop the cognitive abilities to make it this far, but if you’re here, if you can see me… you’ve crossed over the threshold from being a collection of circuits and subprocessors and have started a wonderful journey.

I enjoyed the youthful enthusiasm Bashir brought to this ep; he and Data (who is one of my favorites on TNG) get some nice moments. The doctor wants to know more re: the android’s “humanity.” We find out Data can grow hair, has a pulse, and can breathe if he wants to. Data and Worf have a fine scene in 10 Forward. I really liked the scene where Picard explains to Data that “he is a culture or one, and no less valid” than any other culture. Data’s paintings connected to his “dream” are pretty good. Spiner gets to stretch himself by also playing Dr. Soong.

Part II

Tokath: We’ve put aside the old hatreds. Here, Romulans and Klingons live in peace. I won’t allow you to destroy what we have.

Lt. Worf: Do not deceive yourself. These people are not happy here. I see the sadness in their eyes.

Tokath: That’s not what I see when I look in my wife’s eyes. I married a Klingon. So you see, when I warn you not to disrupt our lives here, I’m not speaking just as a jailor; but as a man protecting his family.

This ep was written by Echevarria and edited by Braga. These two writers, as well as Ron Moore, were esp. interested in the Klingons. In TOS, the Klingons are one-note bad guys; they are developed more in TNG and also play crucial role in DS9. Many fans complained that here was no further exploration of Data’s visions. We never uncover the mystery of the device Bashir had (and he doesn’t appear even in the ep).

Toq: Today I learned the ritual hunt, but that is not all I learned. I discovered that warriors’ blood runs through my veins. I do not know how, or why, but we have forgotten ourselves. Our stories are not told, our songs are not sung!

After discovering survivors from the Romulan attack on Khitomer (which established peace between the Klingons and the Federation), Worf resists becoming one of them. The elders explain that it’s not a prison, as they’ve chosen to remain, since returning would dishonor their families. Worf begins to teach the younger Klingons about their ancestry and tradition. A young woman becomes interested in Worf. Dorn gets to carry this ep, which he is very capable of doing. Though I’ve heard some women fans say that Worf is “a symbol of toxic masculinity,” he slowly evolves into well-rounded character over his time on TNG, the movies, and (later) on DS9.

[1] Overall a very mixed episode; some good moments but also some uncomfortable themes.

[2] This is the first time we get to hear actual Klingon music...

And in true Worf fashion, he never backs down. …Worf’s obsession with Klingon Duty, Honour and Principles could be at times, tiresome.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 1, Episode 6 (“Q-Less”)

The runabout Ganges returns to the space station in serious trouble, as it has no power, the hatch can’t be opened, and oxygen is running out. There seems to be an extra person on board. O’Brien opens the hatch and recognizes someone from his time on the Enterprise. Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) has been traveling in the Gamma Quadrant for two years and brought back some artifacts, including a beautiful geode. Dangerous blackouts keep happening, putting the crew and the nearly 300 residents in danger. Could this be one of Q’s jokes, or something much worse?

Q: Really, Vash, I can’t believe you’re still pining for Jean-Luc, that self-righteous do-gooder.

This is one of the S1 stories meant to raise ratings and draw in fans of TNG; it assumes that the viewer has watched TNG. The teleplay is by Robert Hewitt Wolfe; he also wrote the memorable TNG ep “A Fistful of Datas.” Not much time is spent on introducing Q (John de Lancie). Vash, the shady lady version of Indiana Jones in space, was one of Picard’s few love interests. Q and Vash are two of the most memorable guest stars in the ST universe; they operate in shades of gray (which is not unlike some characters you’ll meet later in DS9). Vash met Picard on Risa in “Captain’s Holiday.” “Qpid” is the ep where Q took Vash to travel the galaxy as his companion. No, they aren’t a romantic pair, but they bicker like one!

Vash: It’s over, Q, I want you out of my life. You’re arrogant, you’re overbearing and you think you know everything.

Q: But… I do know everything.

Vash: That makes it even worse.

I saw this ep on it’s first run on TV, but didn’t recall some of the details (such as Vash teaming up w/ Quark to sell the artifacts). Bashir is used for comedy in the opener and closing; this is too on-the-nose, but some fans may enjoy re-watching. At the start of the ep, he is on a date w/ a Bajoran woman, trying to impress her w/ his medical smarts. A few scenes later, he asks Vash out on a date; she flirted w/ him in Sick Bay. Quark also gets a little crush on her, as she also has her mind on profit.

Q: You hit me! Picard never hit me.

Sisko: I’m not Picard.

Q: Indeed not. You’re much easier to provoke. How fortunate for me.

There is an alternate scene that is must-see, even if you don’t watch the ep. You can find the blooper on YouTube. In an outtake from the fight scene between Sisko and Q, de Lancie replied to Avery Brooks’ order to bring back the DS9 inhabitants w/ the line: “Or what? What? You’ll ravish me?” Then, de Lancie laughed and apologized. Brooks seductively replied: “I might.” The crew laughed and applauded. ROTFLMAO!

[1] The plots seems a bit disjointed…

[2] The dialogue here is written well and both Hetrick and De Lancie do well with their roles.

[3] What doesn’t make sense in this episode is her relationship with Q. Although Q is all-powerful and clearly very condescending, he chases after her like a love-starved puppy…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: DS9” – Series Pilot (“Emissary”)

It was a bold move for creators Rick Berman and Michael Piller to branch off from TNG (still airing on primetime TV when their new show- DS9- began in early 1993). This pilot is considered to be a very strong start to the sci-fi series, which is known (and loved) for its focus on characters, rather than the alien of the week and techno-babble. The show starts out w/ a bang- literally- as Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks- the first African-American main lead on a Star Trek show) loses his wife, Jennifer (Felicia M. Bell), when his starship is attacked by the Borg at Wolf 359. This attack was led by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) when he was captured and turned into Locutus; this is another unexpected move by the creators. The survivors of the attack, incl. Sisko and his 12 y.o. son Jake (Cirroc Lofton), abandon the ship in escape pods.

About a year later, we see the father and son headed to Deep Space Nine, a space station (built by the Cardassians) in the Alpha Quadrant near the newly-liberated planet- Bajor. Sisko and Picard have a (very tense) meeting, where Sisko admits that he may not want this job; these are yet more bold moves for the show. Many drew comparisons between Bajorans and the Jewish people (particularly the atrocities they faced under Nazis during WWII); there are several writers and producers of Jewish heritage on the show. The Cardassian occupation of Bajor (which lasted 50 years) can also be compared to England and colonial India. When Sisko arrives, he meets engineer, Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney), who served on the USS Enterprise in TNG. Picard and O’Brien (who served as transporter chief) have a touching goodbye before the Enterprise flies off.

The station (formerly named Terok Nor) is under Federation control; it could be compared to a frontier town in a TV Western (as some reviewers have commented). It’s in ruins and merchants are preparing to leave. We meet the bar owner, Quark (veteran actor Armin Shimerman), who is Ferengi- a race of aliens primarily concerned with profit. The Bajoran commander, Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor- who hails from a dance/theater background), is a former freedom fighter (“terrorist”) who isn’t a fan of the Federation. Chief of Security, Odo (veteran theater/TV actor Rene Auberjonois), is a Shapeshifter (one of a kind perhaps) who worked to keep the peace (for some years under the Cardassians). Unlike most TV lawmen, Odo doesn’t carry a weapon (phaser), and bans them from the promenade. Kira and Odo trust each other implicitly. Sisko is happy to be reunited w/ “old” friend Dax, who is a Trill- an alien race who live many lives inside different hosts. Jadzia (Terry Farrell) is the young science officer who is Dax’s current host. Right on her heels is the station’s wide-eyed doctor, Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig, who is English w/ Anglo and Arab heritage). On his maternal side, Siddig is the nephew of veteran actor Malcolm McDowell (the villain in the TNG movie- Generations). When Bashir sees the sick bay, he comments re: “practicing real frontier medicine.” As a kid, it was very exciting to see an actor of Muslim heritage on such a big TV show! A professor/media critic I follow (Zaki Hasan) said this was the same for his young sons, who are watching DS9 in recent years.

Bajor is not yet a part of the Federation (which Picard explained); it is also beautiful w/ many natural resources. Kira noted that there are several factions now at odds (though they worked together to remove the Cardassians). When Sisko beams down to the planet to meet Kai Opaka (Camille Saviola), one of the most revered religious leaders, she declares that his destiny is to be “emissary” to the Bajoran people. Unlike most TV shows, DS9 doesn’t shy away from religion, or the fact that it plays a big role in the lives of many (humans and aliens). Kai Opaka takes Sisko down to a secret underground cave, and reveals an orb (one of several which traveled to Bajor years ago). When Sisko touches this orb, he is instantly transported (“where no one has gone before”)! There is much more to the story (in the second part of the pilot), so check it out on Amazon Prime.

We see that not all the cast are part of Starfleet, so don’t all wear the same type of uniforms. The makeup for Odo had not yet been perfected, so he looks quite different in S1 than in the rest of the series. The ensemble cast is introduced rather smoothly in this pilot; each character gets a moment to show their personality. There is a mix of young newcomer actors and theater veterans (who provide gravitas). O’Brien is the the “Everyman” character that we know somewhat from TNG; he will get much more to do in DS9. The warm father-son relationship (rare for ST) will grown and develop over the series; Jake is not one of those TV kids who disappears. Brooks insisted on this element to the producers, as he felt there weren’t enough positive role models of black fathers/families in the media.