Quick Reviews of Recent Views (2021-2022)

And Just Like That (2021): HBO Max

This is the much-talked about (and criticized) sequel to SATC; writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), lawyer Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), and stay-at-home mom Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) are now in their mid-50s. Of course, publicist Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) is NOT on the show; many fans objected to how her character was handled. At the start of the show, ALL the pals seem happily married; we see John AKA Mr. Big (Chris Noth), Steve (David Eigenberg), and Harry (Evan Handler). Anthony (Mario Cantone) and Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) are married, BUT don’t look too happy. As for the teens, they’re annoying AF; Miranda’s 17 y.o. son Brady behaves V disrespectfully; Charlotte’s kids- 14 y.o. Lily and 12 y.o. Rose- are spoiled and uncompromising. Why spend SO much time on kids- it’s supposed to be about adults!? Carrie is one of the regular guests on a podcast hosted by a bisexual/non-binary comedian, Che Diaz (Sarah Ramirez).

I mainly tuned in to see Carrie’s realtor-turned-friend, Seema (Sarita Choudhury) who appears starting in E4; she’s mainly a theater/indie film actor; I saw her at a play reading in NYC in 2008 (and she is gorgeous IRL). Choudhury starred opposite a young Denzel Washington in Mira Nair’s indie/drama/romance Mississippi Masala. Seema’s mom is played by veteran/international actor/chef/author- Madhur Jaffrey. Miranda’s prof, Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), and her jazz musician hubby, Andre (LeRoy McClain), are trying to have a baby w/ IVF. Lisa Todd Wexley AKA LTW (Nicole Ari Parker) is the mom of 3 young kids; Charlotte becomes her friend (after they meet while organizing school events). LTW’s hubby Herbert is played by Hamilton actor Chris Jackson; he (sadly) doesn’t have much to do. Where is the fun (I barely cracked a smile; don’t recall LOLs), fashion (Miranda’s wig and outfits don’t suit her at all), and romance!? IF you’re a fan of the original series, I suggest avoiding this one!

Bridgerton (Season 2): Netflix

Everybody (and their mom) has an opinion on the show- LOL! Almost ALL my friends (IRL/online) were talking/messaging/tweeting about it (some more than 2 wks before S2 dropped). Since I’ve gotten a LOT more active on Twitter lately (and have some new connections), I couldn’t avoid the jokes, memes, etc. You have to shut-off your brain to enjoy shows like this (NO offense); it’s been compared to Jane Austen fan fiction and an alternate universe (AU) of Regency era England. MANY women of color (of all ages) esp. liked seeing the Indian (South Asian) representation in the Sharma sisters (played by Brits: statuesque Simone Ashley and petite Charithra Chandran)! I liked the “slow burn” romance (Anthony and Kate), the fam scenes of the Bridgertons (who all have great chemistry together), and (light-hearted/funny) scenes w/ the artist/bohemian bro, Benedict (Luke Thompson). I think the acting is stronger in this season; S1 didn’t impress me that much. There is one V powerful/emotional scene (S2 E3) that is unlike ANY I’ve seen in a period drama!

The Chair (2021): Netflix

This show was tweeted about by MANY women/POC/academics I follow, so I watched it when it came out last Fall. Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) is the new Chair of Humanities at a small/fictional university (Pembroke); she is the 1st woman and person of color (POC) to hold this post. Ji-Yoon is single (by choice) and the adoptive mom to a bright/challenging young daughter, Ju-Hee. The “old guard” at this school are played by veteran actors: Bob Balaban, Holland Taylor, and David Morse. Ji-Yoon’s closest friend/potential love interest, Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass), lost his wife a few years ago and his 18 y.o. daughter leaves for college in the 1st ep.

This comedy/drama series (6 eps; 30 mins/ea.) was filmed on-location in Pittsburgh and nearby areas. To create Pembroke’s campus, the show used Washington & Jefferson College and Chatham University. Annie Wyman (co-creator/co-writer) was actually an academic in an English department; she earned a PhD in English Lit from Harvard). David Duchovny (playing a version of himself) earned a Master’s in English Lit (Yale); he started (but didn’t complete) his PhD. If you (or your fam/pals) have connections to academia, you’ll esp. relate to this show!

The Gilded Age (2022): HBO Max

This is the show for ALL you Downton Abbey fans; it was also created by Julian Fellows, BUT he had several others collaborating w/ him (incl. prof/historian/co-executive producer- Erica Armstrong Dunbar). Another producer (who also directed some eps) is Salli Richardson-Whitfield; most will know her from her acting days. The setting is NYC in the 1880s where “old money” (the Van Rijans/Brooks) and “nouveaux riche” (the Russells) are nabes, BUT def NOT pals! There are MANY theater actresses (over the age of 40) who appear on this show: Cynthia Nixon, Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald (who I saw once on Broadway), Celia Keegan-Bolger, Debra Monk, Kelli O’Hara, and Donna Murphy. We also see more well-known movie actors (incl. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Nathan Lane) in small (yet pivotal) roles.

In his January 2022 NYT article The Gilded Age’ Finally Arrives on HBO, Dave Itzkoff reported that the long filming hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed actress Denée Benton (who plays Peggy Scott) “to seek refinements of [her role] to better reflect [her] understanding of history. Benton said she urged the creative team to provide more ways to show that there were Black people like her character, Peggy, who lived in their own affluent and educated communities. I didn’t find Louisa Jacobson (who plays Marian Brook; one of Meryl Streep’s daughters) that compelling; MANY viewers agreed w/ me on this point. Peggy is much MORE interesting than Marian. I thought that George Russell (Morgan Spector- husband of actress Rebecca Hall) was better written than his wife Bertha (Carrie Coon). Coon was written as TOO strident (as some viewers noted online). George’s full beard was quite popular on Twitter- LOL! This is a period/costume drama, BUT it also has some brains (and is somewhat educational also).

Mare of Easttown (2021): HBO Max

If you like domestic drama mixed w/ a cop/mystery show (such as Happy Valley or Broadchurch), then check this out! A detective, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet in an Emmy-winning role), in a small Pennsylvania town investigates a murder of a teen girl while trying to keep her fam/personal life from falling apart. I thought almost ALL of the actors did a terrific job; they seemed like real/unglamorous/flawed people. There was even a (spot-on) sketch about the show on SNL. Much has been talked about re: the complicated relationship between Mare and her funny/acerbic mom (played by veteran actress Jean Smart); these ladies had great chemistry together! I was also impressed by Evan Peters (who plays the naive/younger cop- Colin Zabel); it’s rare to see a police officer w/ doubt and vulnerability. You can also check him out in S1 of Pose. Guy Pearce (who acted w/ Winslet in HBO’s take on Mildred Pierce in 2011) plays Mare’s love interest; he is a writer-turned-prof who is in town as an adjunct. The creator/writer of this show, Craig Zobel, also wrote the recent movie The Way Back (starring Ben Affleck); it received some critical acclaim also.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Dune” (2021) starring Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Fergusen, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgard, & Josh Brolin

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence- a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential- only those who can conquer their fear will survive. -Synopsis from Warner Bros.

Dune (directed by Denis Villeneuve- Canadian of French heritage) is a movie unlike any other I’ve seen in recent years; I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Its 2 hr. 35 min. run time seemed to pass by quickly, as the story (incl. stunning visuals) was V compelling. The music (composed by Hans Zimmer) adds much to the movie; new instruments and a language were invented for the score. The costumes range from practical and lightweight to intricate and decorative. This is part one of the story; it is based on the book by Frank Herbert, one of the iconic writers of sci-fi. Herbert’s work has been compared to Tolkein’s LOTR trilogy; it obviously influenced George Lucas as he created Star Wars. The planet Arakis (also called Dune) is the ONLY place where “spice” (perhaps akin to oil in our world) can be found; many factions want to control this world. The natives of Arakis are the Fremin, a tough/desert people who live in a harsh environment w/ dangerous giant worms (yikes)! The scenes on the ocean world of Caladan were shot in Norway. Much of the desert scenes of Arakis were shot in Jordan and Abu Dhabi.

Paul: [From trailer] Dad, what if I’m not the future of House Atreides?

Duke Leto: A great man doesn’t seek to lead; he is called to it. But if your answer is no, you’d still be the only thing I ever needed you to be: my son.

In a world unlike ours 8,000 yrs. in the future, we meet Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet- doing a fine job), a skinny/bright/teen. He spends his days studying and learning to fight from his older mentor/sword master- Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin). One of the early scenes where Paul and Gurney spar is V cool; the choreography (by Roger Yuan) included a type of Filipino martial arts. Another mentor of Paul’s is the warrior, Duncan Idaho (Jason Mamoa), who brings charm and humor to the story. Much is expected from Paul, as he’s the son/heir of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac- looking fab w/ gray-streaked hair/full beard). I loved the easy/warm relationship between Chalamet and Isaac. I’m surprised that Chalamet is growing on me; his naturalistic acting style, incl. ability to portray vulnerability easily fit this role. (Though Christian Bale will always be Laurie to me!)

Duncan: Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens when we’re awake.

Paul has inherited strong powers from his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson- a standout). She is the concubine of Duke Leto and was raised by the Bene Gesserit (a secretive/powerful order made up of all women). Chalamet and Ferguson also have great chemistry. Paul has visions about Arakis w/ an unknown/young woman (Zendaya- who appears in the 3rd act of this story). The Rev. Mother Mohaim (Charlotte Rampling- a veteran British actress) comes to see (and test) Paul on his abilities. House Atreides is given control of the desert planet from the Emperor. A powerful opponent, Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard- menacing even inside prosthetics), wants to take control of Arakis. Check out this movie on HBOMax! I didn’t know much re: this story, aside from watching the miniseries (which co-starred a V young James McAvoy) about 20 yrs. ago.

“The Report” (2019) starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, & Jon Hamm

The Report is a thriller based on actual events. Idealistic staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) is tasked by his boss Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program created in the aftermath of 9/11. Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth leads to findings that uncover the lengths to which the nation’s top intelligence agency went to destroy evidence, subvert the law, and hide a shocking secret from the American public. The Report is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, and the film also stars Jon Hamm, Sarah Goldberg, Michael C. Hall, Douglas Hodge, Fajer Kaisi, Ted Levine, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Blake Nelson, Linda Powell, Matthew Rhys, T. Ryder Smith, Corey Stoll, and Maura Tierney. -Synopsis (Amazon)

This movie (acquired by Amazon Studios) is available for free on Amazon Prime; I saw it 2x (to get a better understanding on the issues). If you follow the news/current events, have an interest in politics, and/or enjoyed The West Wing– check this movie out. This has more of a documentary-style approach, so I wouldn’t call it a typical “thriller” (as classified on IMDb). Just before filming, the original plan of 50 days shooting was cut to a 26 days; the $18 million budget was slashed to ONLY $8 million! Burns revealed that ALL the actors (incl. Driver) were paid next to nothing on this project. Burns originally planned to approach the material in a satirical Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) manner; the more he delved into the facts, he realized it had told in the most realistic fashion. The film premiered at Sundance and received a standing ovation for the real Dan Jones (who was present).

Sen. Feinstein: If it [waterboarding] works, why do you need to do it 183 times?

After completing the screenplay, Burns shared it w/ frequent collaborator, Steven Soderbergh, w/ a view as to who he’d suggest for the lead. Driver’s name came up almost immediately; Soderbergh directed Driver in Logan Lucky (2017). In 2007, Dan comes to Capitol Hill as an idealistic young man (wanting to help his country); we learn that he was a Math teacher in Baltimore w/ Teach for America (3 yrs). After 9/11, he switched his classes to national security while at grad school (Harvard). Dan gets a job working for Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He ended up working on the torture report for 5+ yrs- wow! Jones was available to provide feedback on set; Driver found this very helpful.

Gretchen (CIA Agent): You may not realize, but we were trying to protect this country from people who wanna destroy everything we believe in.

Dan: You may not realize it, but we are trying to do the exact same thing.

The term “enhanced interrogation” has no meaning under law; the tactics aren’t used by professional interrogators. It was created by the CIA to describe tactics that would otherwise be considered torture or unlawful detainee abuse. The science finds that rapport-based approaches to interrogation are the most effective, as FBI Agent, Ali Soufan (Fajer Kaisi), tells Dan when they meet in NYC. Soufan’s flashback was eye-opening and troubling. I’m now curious to see The Looming Tower, a HBO miniseries (w/ Jeff Daniels and French-Algerian actor, Tahar Rahim, as Soufan) which focuses on the FBI’s response to 9/11. The physician assistant, Raymond Nathan (Tim Blake Nelson), who came to oppose EIT, meets w/ Dan late at night in a parking garage (reminiscent of Deep Throat in All the President’s Men). The psychologists, James Mitchell (Douglas Hodge) and Bruce Jessen (T. Ryder Smith) were put in charge of not only creating and implementing the EIT program, but also evaluating its effectiveness. This is (obviously) a conflict of interest, as Dan explains to Feinstein in the 2nd hr. of the movie.

Evan (NYT Reporter): If the Times had your report, we would print it, tomorrow.

Dan: No. If it’s gonna come out, it’s gonna come out the right way.

I live just outside DC, so got a kick out of seeing Driver running past the national monuments. Then there are the (relatable) boring office buildings, basement rooms, and working on computers- LOL. Driver has a scene w/ his wife, Joanne Tucker (who he met while they were students at Julliard)! Tucker plays Gretchen (blonde CIA Agent working under the mysterious Bernadette, played by Maura Tierney); she confronts Dan and his colleague in the restaurant scene. Matthew Rhys plays Evan (the NYT national security reporter); he’s a friend of Driver who acted w/ him off-Broadway and appeared on HBO’s Girls. Corey Stoll (who also appeared on Girls) plays a lawyer, Cyrus Clifford, who Dan consults w/ after the CIA goes after him. Driver and Stoll played brothers in the comedy movie This is Where I Leave You (2014).

[1] The late Sen. John McCain gets the last word here, appropriately, with archive footage of his impassioned speech on the Senate floor regarding the necessity of forbidding the U.S. from engaging in torture, regardless of what the country’s enemies do.

[2] The cuts in time work well to put meat on the bones and helps to mix the political, ethical, and real life aspects of it. […]

It is more important than engaging though, and could have been a stronger film for embracing the complexity more than it did.

-Excerpts from IMDb reviews

Official trailer for The Report.
The director and actors talk re: The Report at Sundance Film Festival with Variety magazine.

“Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984)

[first lines]

[Spock’s dying words, repeated from the previous film]

Capt. Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…

Kirk: …the needs of the few.

Capt. Spock: Or the one. I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.

Spock died (in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). We cried- hey, it was really emotional. Then we learned that Spock could be alive- whoa! In the opening credits, there is an extra long pause between Shatner and Kelley’s names, where Nimoy’s name would normally be. Nimoy takes on the role of director; Nicholas Meyer (who directed the previous 2 films) refused b/c he thought that Spock’s death should’ve remained final. (Meyer would return to direct Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).

[their first look at the USS Excelsior]

Uhura: Would you look at that.

Kirk: My friends, the great experiment: The Excelsior. Ready for trial runs.

Sulu: She’s supposed to have transwarp drive.

Scotty: Aye. And if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.

Kirk: Come, come, Mr. Scott. Young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant.

Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) and the Enterprise crew return to Earth for some essential repairs to their ship. When they arrive at space dock, they’re shocked to discover that the Enterprise is to be decommissioned. Dr. McCoy (DeForrest Kelley) begins acting strangely. Scotty (James Doohan) is re-assigned to another ship. Suddenly, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) comes to visit Kirk to see if he holds Spock’s spirit (katra). Once Kirk realizes that McCoy hold the katra, he decides to steal back the Enterprise and travel to the Genesis planet to retrieve the body of Spock. The body must be taken to Mt. Seleyah on Vulcan so it can be joined w/ its katra. Meanwhile, some Klingons are planning to steal the secrets of the Genesis device for their own deadly purpose!

Kirk: You’re suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld, doctor.

McCoy: That green-blooded son of a bitch! It’s his revenge for all the arguments he lost.

The film’s villains were intended to be Romulans, but the studio wanted Klingons to be used (as they were better-known aliens). The Romulan warship was already built and they didn’t want the expense of replacing it. Since TOS had established that Klingons and Romulans had shared tech/ships (for real-world cost-cutting reasons), the idea of Klingons using a Romulan warbird wasn’t a problem. Edward James Olmos was Nimoy’s first choice for the role of Kruge; producer Harve Bennett preferred Christopher Lloyd. Nimoy cast Lloyd b/c he came across as more operatic and physically intimidating. Of course, this could be funny to those who know Lloyd as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies. We also see John Larroquette as Maltz, the quiet/thoughtful Klingon.

Kruge: I’ve come a long way for the power of Genesis, and what do I find? A weakling human, a Vulcan boy, and a woman!

Saavik: My lord, we are survivors of a doomed expedition. This planet will destroy itself in hours. The Genesis experiment is a failure.

Kruge: A failure? The most destructive force ever created? You will tell me the secret of the Genesis torpedo.

Saavik: I have no knowledge.

Kruge: Then I hope pain’s something you enjoy.

Production was endangered by the large fire at Paramount Studios. Shatner helped fight the fire and rescue a crew member before firefighters arrived- wow! Shatner said he was concerned re: staying on schedule, as he also had to shoot his TV show- T.J. Hooker. The quiet (yet powerful) scene in where Kirk stumbles back into his captain’s chair after hearing of the death of David was an improvisation by the actor. Shatner was told by Nimoy to do whatever reaction he wanted to do. It’s too bad that Kirk (and we) didn’t get to know David much.

[Kirk and party have commandeered Kruge’s Bird-of-Prey]

Kirk: [to Maltz] You! Help us or die!

Maltz: I do not deserve to live!

Kirk: Fine, I’ll kill you later!

[later, once safely in warp speed]

Kirk: Take care of the prisoner.

Maltz: Wait! You said you would kill me!

Kirk: I lied!

There are some light/humorous scenes in this movie. We learn that Scotty always exaggerated how long it’d take to repair something on the ship. And who didn’t laugh when McCoy tried to do the Vulcan nerve pinch at the alien bar? Scotty told off the talking transporter on the Excelsior. Sulu (George Takei) gets to beat up a (big) security guy. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) pulled a phaser on the young lieutenant who’d made ageist comments (Mr. Adventure), then she transported her crewmates away.

Sarek: Kirk, I thank you. What you have done is…

Kirk: What I have done, I had to do.

Sarek: But at what cost? Your ship. Your son.

Kirk: If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.

The dramatic finale on Vulcan really makes this movie! Judith Anderson was 87 y.o. when she appeared as the Vulcan High Priestess; she was encouraged to take this role by her nephew (who was a big fan of TOS). The scenes on the Genesis Planet were shot on the same soundstages used by Cecil B. DeMille in  The Ten Commandments (1956); Anderson played the slave who knew the secret re: Moses’ heritage.

[1] Leonard Nimoy takes the director’s helm and while he does a competent job it is somewhat workmanlike and his experience in TV and not-so-much-experience in feature films shows, loved the focus on the characters and their relationships but it could have been more expansive.

The music by James Horner… It is bombastic and rousing at times but also swelling in romance and sensitivity and beautiful orchestration, the heavy representation of the percussive and dissonant theme for the Klingons was also effective.

‘The Search for Spock’ does have an intelligent script that develops the characters very well indeed…

[2] It seems a lot of people are split on Lloyd but I thought he was pretty good here. I liked seeing him under all the make-up and thought he did a good job even if the role itself wasn’t the greatest. The special effects here are certainly a step up from the previous movie and I’d also say that battle sequences are much better directed.

[3] …I put “The Search for Spock” on a par with my favorite episode of the original Star Trek TV series. That would be ‘Amok Time’ which examined Vulcan rituals and customs, and interestingly, pitted Spock (Leonard Nimoy) against his captain and best friend, James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in a battle to the death. The return to Spock’s home planet in this film was a cool way to bring the story back around to his Vulcan roots and add to the mythology of Star Trek by introducing such concepts as the Fal-tor-pan (the refusion of Vulcan legend), and the soul essence of Vulcans called the ‘katra’.

The battle of wits between Kirk and Kruge brought to mind another favorite TV episode, ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’, a story in which Captain Kirk seemingly made up all that business about a destruct sequence to thwart an overpowering enemy. Apparently it was a good enough idea to incorporate into Star Trek lore as a legitimate way of dealing with an enemy who got the upper hand.

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

“Star Trek: DS9” (Season 3)

Introduction

This season is a must-see for fans of Trek (Trekkies, Trekkers, or whatever you prefer)! S3 has some of my fave eps of the entire series (so far I’ve watched 6 seasons). When DS9 originally aired, I saw most of the eps in S3; my faves then were Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Dax (Terry Farrell). Now, I’d say that Odo and Kira are my faves. There are a few eps which you can skip (check out the IMDB ratings), but this is the transitional season which will lead us to the (exciting) S4.

Episodes 1 & 2: “The Search, Parts I & 11”

Episode 3: The House Of Quark

Quark: Now I know we’re doomed.

Rom: Why, brother?

Quark: Rule of Acquisition 286: When Morn leaves, it’s all over.

Rom: There is no such rule.

Quark: There should be.

“War is good for business” is the 34th Rule of Acquisition, but the bar is almost empty; people are leaving b/c they fear the Dominion. A drunk Klingon, Kozak, refuses to pay, assaults Quark (Armin Shimerman), and dies falling on his knife! When Quark sees curious crowds outside the bar, he decides to tell everyone he killed the Klingon to increase business. He soon gets a visit from Kozak’s brother, D’Ghor, seeking confirmation he died an honorable death. Quark has to tell the truth to Kozak’s widow, Grilka (Mary Kay Adams); she kidnaps him and forces him to marry her to save the House of Kozak. Keiko has to close the station’s school b/c all the kids left.

[Quark is looking over the financial records of Kozak and D’Ghor]

Quark: Very clever… Very clever, indeed… D’Ghor has manipulated your family’s holdings, devalued the lands you hold… and he is the principal creditor on Kozak’s outstanding gambling debts. It’s no accident that your family is getting weaker and D’Ghor’s family is getting stronger, he has been systematically attacking your family’s assets for over five years now.

Grilka: [outraged] You mean D’Ghor has been scheming and plotting like a…

Quark: …Like a Ferengi.

Stephen Hawking visited the set during the filming of this ep. We see the Klingon homeworld (Qo’noS); Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) appears for the first time in this series. Veteran ST actor Joseph Ruskin plays another Klingon- Tumek. Some astute viewers will notice that the scenes in the Great Hall echo the TNG ep Sins of The Father (1990), but w/ a comedic twist; Ronald D. Moore also wrote the teleplay for that ep. This is a fun ep, which is must-see esp. for those who are fans of the Klingons!

Quark [facing a fight to the death w/ D’Ghor]: Having me fight D’Ghor is nothing more than an execution. So, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get – an execution. No honor, no glory. And when you tell your children and your grandchildren the glorious story of how you rose to power and took Grilka’s house from her, I hope you remember to tell them how you heroically killed an unarmed Ferengi half your size.

Episode 5: Second Skin

Kira (Nana Visitor) is contacted by a Alenis Grem from the Bajoran Central Archives, who’s doing research on the former Elemspur detention center. Grem has proof Kira was once detained there; also, the last remaining former inmate recognizes her, so Kira decides to travel to the Archives. She never arrives, but awakes on Cardassia looking like her enemy! She is told that she was sent as a spy to Bajor many years ago; her long-term memory was altered to avoid being found out. She is called Iliana Ghemor, daughter of legate Tekeny Ghemor (Lawrence Pressman). Though Kira rejects all this, she starts having serious doubts when Entek (Gregory Sierra) from the Obisidian Order provides convincing proof.

Garak: I’ll go along on your fool’s errand, but I want one thing to be perfectly clear: I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours. If it looks like we’re in danger of being captured, if there’s any sign of trouble at all, you’re on your own!

Cmdr. Sisko: Mr. Garak, I believe that’s the first completely honest thing you’ve ever said to me.

The teleplay is by Robert Hewitt Wolfe (I wrote to him on Twitter- he replied), who came over from TNG. Wolfe started writing on DS9 at age 31 (as he said in an interview on The 7th Rule YT channel); he also served as a producer. I think this is one the the best eps of S3; it’s intelligent, mysterious, and touching. We get to learn more re: the Cardassians (considered to be one of Trek’s most interesting/well-developed aliens). Garak (guest star Andrew Robinson) plays a pivotal role. There is the father-daughter story, which is very well-played by Visitor and Pressman (a veteran character actor). For perhaps the first time in her life, Kira sees that NOT all Cardassians are evil!

Episode 6: The Abandoned

Quark buys the rights to a ship from the Gamma Quadrant; a crying baby is discovered among the items! Bashir notices the boy has a V fast metabolic rate, so is growing quickly. In a few hours, he’s a teen who starts fighting on the promenade. Odo (Rene Auberjonois) is the ONLY one who is able to calm him down; Jadzia realizes he’s Jem’Hadar! When Odo hears the boy is to be examined in a Federation lab, he convinces Sisko to let him be in charge of the young man. Odo wants to try to change his nature, so he can live as a normal humanoid. Meanwhile, Sisko (Avery Brooks) invites Jake’s (Cirroc Lofton) girlfriend, Mardah, over for dinner. Since Mardah is 4 yrs older than Jake and works as a Dabo girl at Quark’s bar, Sisko is opposed to their relationship.

Director/actor Brooks saw this ep as something of a metaphorical study of racial tension and gang culture: “For me, it was very much a story about young brown men, and, to some extent, a story about a society that is responsible for the creation of a generation of young men who are feared, who are addicted, who are potential killers.” This is the first ep to refer to Jake’s literary talents; this is also the first appearance of Ketracel-white (the “missing enzyme” to which the Jem’Hadar are “addicted”). Some viewers were reminded of Hugh who had been separated from the Borg collective on TNG. I thought the A story w/ the Jem’Hadar was rather engaging; I liked the alien make-up and the action scenes.

Episode 7: Civil Defense

Rule of Acquisition #75: Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum.

O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Jake (who has been assisting him w/ Engineering tasks) are preparing one of the ore processing units to convert it into a deuterium refinery. Sisko checks up on them, just as Jake finds a strange file in the database which can’t be deleted. O’Brien accidentally trips a Cardassian security alert, and must enter a password, but fails. Suddenly, the room’s locked down, and a recorded message from Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) appears on view screens, warning the “Bajoran workers” to surrender! This resembles the VOY ep Worst Case Scenario (1997); in both stories the crew trigger a computer program which they can’t to shut down which proves life-threatening.

We see Dukat express a desire for Kira, something that would return many times in the future. Here his attempt to impress her is treated as comedy. This is something which displeased Nana Visitor, who commented: “I would have liked my character to make the point that only a few years earlier, Dukat’s wanting me would have meant that he could have had me, and I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing about it. So it shouldn’t have been seen as a ‘cute’ moment. It was actually a horrifying moment, one that would make Kira feel disgust and panic. To Kira, Dukat is Hitler. She’s not ever going to get over that. She can never forgive him, and that is important to me. Kira may have started to see Cardassians as individuals, but she will always hate Dukat.”  

We also hear the first mention Quark’s cousin, Gaila (Josh Pais), who Quark is always jealous of for this wealth/status. This ep also builds upon the antagonism between Gul Dukat and Garak which was first hinted at in S2 E5 (Cardassians).

Episode 9: Defiant

Riker: Looks like you got your evening all planned. Hope you’ve got room for the unexpected.

It’s V busy on the station and Kira hasn’t even got time to read reports. Then, Starfleet requests a complete report on the computer calibration subroutine. When Bashir asks for a runabout to get medical supplies, she snaps! Bashir says Kira is overworked and orders her to rest. At Quark’s bar, she meets Cmdr. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) who is on his way to the pleasure planet (Risa). They chat and she seems to like him. At the end of the next day, she runs into him again; Riker asks to have a look at the Defiant. Sisko assists Gul Dukat on Cardassia Prime to prevent the ship from entering Cardassian territory.

If you’re a fan of Riker (like me), this is the story for you; even if you’re not, it’s a compelling story (written by Moore). It turns out that this is Thomas Riker; he quickly/cleverly takes over the warship! Romance (potentially) wasn’t only in the cards for Kira and Riker; two of Maquis crew- Kalita (Shannon Cochran) and Tamal (Michael Canavan) met on the DS9 set and got married a few years later. Cochran played Gen. Martok’s formidable wife (Sirella) in S6, E7 (“You Are Cordially Invited.”) TNG fans may also recognize the Obsidian Order officer Korinas (Tricia O’Neill); this actress played Capt. Garrett in S3, E5: “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” I liked how Korinas swiftly cut down Dukat. This ep really builds up tension well; we get to learn more re: the Cardassians.

Episodes 11 & 12: “Past Tense, Parts I & II”

Episode 14: Heart of Stone

Olivia [to Viola disguised as Sebastian]: I have said too much unto a heart of stone. And laid mine honor too unchary on ’t. There’s something in me that reproves my fault. But such a headstrong potent fault it is, that it but mocks reproof. -Twelfth Night (Act 3, Scene 4)

Kira and Odo are returning to DS9 in a runabout. They are coming from Prophet’s Landing (a colony close to the Cardassian border) to review security procedures. They receive a distress call from a Lissepian supply ship that was attacked by a Maquis vessel. They start to follow the Maquis; the ship lands on a moon and Kira and Odo follow the man into a V unstable cave. Kira’s foot gets stuck inside a strange crystal. While the crystal slowly encapsulates her, Odo tries to free her. Meanwhile, Nog makes a special request to Sisko. As an adult, he is compelled by Ferengi by-laws to purchase an apprenticeship from a role model. Nog wants to be the first Ferengi in Starfleet, so he asks Sisko to write a recommendation for Starfleet Academy.

I think that was an interesting direction. Somehow, Captain Nog sounds cool. -Ron Moore

Rules of Acquisition #18: A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.

It is revealed that a non-Federation citizen, in order to be admitted to the Academy, needs a reference from a command-level officer. This is the first ep in which Rom openly defies his brother Quark; this would continue in S3-4. We learn the origin of the name “Odo;” this is also the first time that he is seen handling a weapon. The ep title is taken from the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night, which also has themes of disguise and mistaken identity. Odo’s revelation that he loves Kira had been hinted at in several eps (The Collaborator and Meridian); Lwaxana Troi (who is Betazoid and telepathic) had guessed it in Fascination. Odo himself had never admitted it before! Both the A and B stories are terrific; I think I’ve seen this ep (written by Behr and Wolfe) 3x so far. I always liked the chemistry between Odo and Kira; the actors had much in common and became close friends while working on the series.

Episode 15: Destiny

A team of Cardassian scientists (incl. Tracy Scoggins; one of top contenders for Capt. Janeway on ST: VOY) comes to visit DS9 to help set up a subspace communications relay in the Gamma Quadrant. Suddenly, Vedek Yarka (Erick Avari), wants to speak with Sisko; he has a warning from the prophets. According to Trakor’s 3rd prophecy, 3 vipers (Cardassians) will return to their nest in the sky (DS9) which ultimately leads to the destruction of the Celestial Temple (the wormhole). Sisko and Kira dismiss it at first, since only 2 Cardassians scientists are coming. But, when a 3rd scientist arrives, Kira begins to worry. With more predictions coming true, Sisko must make a choice: between his Federation duties and his role as Emissary.

Gilora: It has been my experience that it…

Chief O’Brien: What? That Humans aren’t good engineers?

Gilora: No, not Humans. Males.

Chief O’Brien: I beg your pardon?

Gilora: Men just don’t seem to have a head for this sort of thing. That’s why women dominate the sciences.

Chief O’Brien: Maybe on Cardassia. But on this station, this man is Chief of Operations, and I know more about these systems than anyone, including you.

Sisko is (once again) tackling two roles- Starfleet officer and Emissary; he is not yet comfortable being a religious figure. This is the ep where we get to see “regular” Cardassians out there; two of these women (Ulani and Gilora) are scientists- professional, friendly, and have distinct personalities. The third woman (Dejar) is tough and judgmental to the others; she’s a member of the secretive spy group- the Obsidian Order!

Episode 19: Through the Looking Glass

A man looking exactly like O’Brien suddenly pokes a phaser in Sisko’s back and disappears w/ the captain through the transporter. He is taken to the Mirror Universe, where Kira and Bashir got stuck in S2. O’Brien (AKA Smiley) tells how the Mirror Sisko was the leader of a rebellion against the Klingon-Cardassian-Bajoran alliance, but he recently died. Sisko tells Smiley he’s not interested in replacing him, but his interest is piqued when he learns that a “Jennifer Sisko” (Felicia M. Bell) is alive and working for the alliance.

[Mirror Jadzia kisses Sisko]

Mirror Jadzia: That’s to let you know I missed you. [slaps him] And that’s for letting me think you were dead!

As fans know, in the Mirror Universe, clothes are more risque, the acting is over-the-top, and violence can break out anytime. Brooks was esp. happy when he read the teleplay, b/c Sisko has sex for the first time since the show began (w/ Mirror Dax and The Intendant). However, this is problematic (to our modern sensibilities) b/c Mirror Dax doesn’t know that he is a different man than her Sisko!

The raider’s corridor, transporter room, and turbolift, are redresses of the USS Defiant sets, using computer graphics from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The lighting department had a harsh red light to make contrast to the bright white lights of “our” universe. The raider’s bridge was a redress of the runabout cockpit which served as the Maquis raider Val Jean in VOY series pilot (Caretaker). This is the second role for Tim Russ on DS9, the played the Klingon, T’Kar, in Invasive Procedures. His character role of Tuvok is a crossover from the role he played in VOY.

Episode 20: Improbable Cause & Episode 21: The Die is Cast

Garak: Never tell the same lie twice.

Garak’s shop explodes, but the tailor isn’t hurt badly; Odo immediately expects foul play. Odo asks Garak if he can think of possible suspects, but the Cardassian seems uninterested, and frustrates Odo’s investigation. Evidence of a pheromonic sensor in the bomb is found; this is a method favored by Flaxian assassins. A Flaxian had just arrived on DS9 prior to the explosion, so Odo decides to interrogate him.

Cmdr. Sisko: The question still remains, why would the Romulans want to have Garak killed?

Odo: I don’t know. Considering those uniforms of theirs, you’d think they’d appreciate a decent tailor.

I loved this joke from Odo, didn’t you? We see a new style of Tal Shiar uniform; this was Moore’s idea. After Visionary, Moore came to feel that the old style Romulan uniforms were unacceptable; he had Robert Blackman (costume designer) give the design an overhaul. Moore said: “I hated, underline hated, the Romulan costumes. Big shoulder pads, the quilting, I just loathed it. I begged, insisted, screamed, pleaded.” This was the first Star Trek two-part ep w/ different names for Part I and Part II. (There had been a 3-parter with different titles: The Homecoming, The Circle, and The Siege.)

Informant: Garak isn’t the only former operative in the Order who had an “unfortunate incident” yesterday, but he’s the luckiest. The other five didn’t survive.

Odo: Five operatives were killed yesterday?

Informant: Killed? No. Three died from “natural causes”, the other two perished in “accidents”.

Odo: Quite a coincidence.

Informant: If you believe in coincidence.

Robert Lederman and David R. Long’s original idea for this ep revolved around the punishment exacted upon Garak by the Obsidian Order for his killing of Entek in Second Skin. Garak realizes that someone is planning on assassinating him, so he blows up his own shop to ensure Odo gets involved. The producers decided to connect the ep to Defiant (to reveal what the Obsidian Order was up to in the Orias system). Joseph Ruskin (who plays The Informant who meets w/ Odo) has played the roles of Galt in TOS: The Gamesters of Triskelion, Tumek in The House of Quark and Looking for Par’Mach in all the Wrong Places, a Son’a officer in the TNG movie Star Trek Insurrection, a Vulcan master in VOY: Gravity, and an alien doctor on ENT: Broken Bow. Another veteran actor (Paul Dooley) plays Enabran Tain, the former head of the Obsidian Order and a mentor to Garak.

Enabran Tain: Always burn your bridges behind you. You never know who might be trying to follow.

The (imposing) joint Romulan-Cardassian fleet approaches DS9; Sisko is ready for a fight, but the fleet flies goes through the wormhole. We meet Col. Lovok (Leland Orser); he doesn’t seem to respect or fully trust Tain. The Tal Shiar and Obisidian Order ships are on a renegade mission to destroy the Founders’ home planet! Sisko (perhaps taking a cue from Kirk) decides to pursue them, defying Adm. Toddman’s (Leon Russom) orders to guard Bajor. Tain gives Garak his first assignment: interrogate Odo to find out more re: the Founders. Garak is given a device created by the Romulans which prevents Changelings from altering their form (yikes)!

Garak: We both value our privacy, our secrets. That’s why I know there’s something about the Founders you haven’t told anyone, something you didn’t even share with Starfleet and Commander Sisko. Hm? But you are going to tell *me*, Odo.

There are references to ancient Roman dictator Julius Caesar in this ep. The title The Die is Cast is taken from the words reportedly said by Caesar in 49 BC, as he led a legion of troops across the Rubicon River (an illegal act that started the Great Roman Civil War). Garak also quotes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Tain (“I’m afraid the fault, dear Tain, is not in our stars but in ourselves”). The Changeling says to Odo at the end that the Dominion already has plans for the Klingon Empire and the Federation. This line is foreshadowing of the story arc in S4.

Odo: They’re still my people. I tried to deny it, I tried to forget. But I can’t! They’re my people, and I want to be with them, in the Great Link!

E21 is the first w/ Behr as EP; one of the major changes he made to the show was in action sequences. Space battles had to be shown onscreen more, not just referred to (as TNG had repeatedly done). We see the most number of ships (so far) in any of Trek. We see (again) that Garak isn’t a typical good guy; he’s capable of shady deeds (incl. torture). We see another side of Eddington (who reports directly to Toddman, not Sisko); he sabotages the cloaking device! The stakes are high here, the writing is very good, and also the directing is interesting (w/ some shots reminiscent of film noir).

Lovok: [just as Odo and Garak are to make their escape, Col. Lovok arrives armed with a disruptor, but he then hands Odo a PADD] You will need this in order to gain access to your Runabout.

Odo: [surprised] Why are you doing this?

Lovok: Because no Changeling has ever harmed another.

Episode 24: Shakaar

Odo: It has been my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice… is that sometimes, they make the wrong choice.

Sisko gets an urgent message from Bajor and delivers some bad news to Kira. Kalem Aprem, First Minister of the Provisional Government, has died from a heart attack. Kira is V upset to hear spiritual leader Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) has already been appointed as successor. Kira can’t shake the feeling that giving Winn control is a mistake. Suddenly, Winn visits the station to see Kira; she has a favor to ask. Shakaar (Duncan Reghr), the leader of Kira’s resistance cell during the Cardassian occupation, refuses to return some government-loaned soil reclamators (used to detoxify soil poisoned by the Cardassians). Winn wants to use them in the Rakantha province, which was once Bajor’s most productive farmland. She thinks this will once again make export possible, increasing Bajor’s chances of being accepted into the Federation. Kira agrees to talk to Shakaar, who is now a farmer.

Shakaar: I didn’t fight the Cardassians for 25 years just so I can start shooting other Bajorans.

This ep serves as a sequel of sorts to Life Support; it contains references to the death of Vedek Bareil and the signing of the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty. We meet Kira’s friends Furel (William Lucking) and Lupaza (Diane Salinger) for the first time; they have also become farmers and jokingly bicker like a long-term couple. We also see the Bajoran phaser rifle for the first time. Lenaris Holem (John Doman) is a leader in the civil police; he was also a freedom fighter in his day (and doesn’t want to fire on his own people).

I have met people who are obsessive and I find it fascinating to watch Kia Winn throughout the DS9 run. Her obsession over power is a cautionary tale about the power of fanaticism and watching her slow march into insanity is intriguing. -Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 26: The Adversary

Major Kira: Well, now that you have another pip on your collar, does that mean I can’t disagree with you anymore?

Capt. Sisko: No. It just means, I’m never wrong.

Major Kira: Ah – we’ll see about that.

Sisko is (finally) promoted to captain; we see him for the last time w/ a full head of hair! We have the first appearance of several new sets on the Defiant, incl. main engineering, the mess hall and the extended corridor. This ep also has the first mention of the Tzenkethi, who fought a war against the Federation that Sisko participated in. They’re mentioned again later, but never seen onscreen. Sisko takes the Defiant to Tzenkethi space to prevent a coup-de-etat, which Ambassador Krajensky (Lawrence Pressman) said could be problematic. While working on the ship, O’Brien hears strange sounds; soon, breakdowns and mishaps start occurring. Sisko believes someone on-board is the cause of these acts of sabotage. This ep is the last time Alexander Siddig is credited as Siddig El Fadil as an actor.

Before things get quite serious/risky, I liked the light-hearted scene where Dax playfully questions Sisko re: Kasidy, who he recently met and went on a date w/ (thanks to Jake). Suddenly, there is a message (w/ heavy static) from a planet (Barisa Prime) saying they are under fire; Sisko assumes that war w/ Tzenkethi has broken out. They try to contact a nearby Federation ship (USS Ulysses), but it turns out that the communications relay isn’t working. O’Brien and Dax find parasites (w/ force fields protecting them) growing inside all the major systems of the Defiant.

Moore really liked this story b/c he considers it to be very un-Star Trek. Krajensky morphs into his true form as a Changeling and escapes into the conduits! You can’t trust anyone, since the enemy could be disguised as anyone. The non-essential crewmen are locked into their quarters. Then, Dax is knocked out, so O’Brien has more work to do. Control of the ship is gone; it’s cloaked, armed, and flying to the Tzenjethi border at high warp. Sisko declares to Kira that if O’Brien can’t regain control, he’ll have to destroy the ship (to prevent a war)!

Odo: [on using a phaser on a fellow Changeling] In the history of my people, no Changeling has ever harmed another. I’d hate to be the first.

Eddington: Apparently that Changeling doesn’t feel the same way. If we don’t stop him, no one on board will escape unharmed, including you.

Odo: You may be right. But I’ve been a Security officer most of my humanoid existence; and in all that time, I’ve never found it necessary to fire a weapon, or take a life. I don’t intend to start now.

They break off into teams of 2, armed w/ phaser rifles (modified NOT to damage equipment), and sweep the ship. The Changeling attacks a security officer (stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone) and strangles him inside a Jeffries tube! Sisko tries to follow it, then comes across a stand-off between a Bolian security officer and Kira in the corridor. Odo and Eddington come upon the scene also. Odo punches out the Bolian who was refusing to drop his phaser. Sisko decides that Bashir will test everyone’s blood to reveal who is the Changeling. Unlike humanoids, they revert to their natural gelatinous state when injured. Though we think Eddington is the one, it turns out the Changeling has morphed into Bashir (trapping the real doctor in the brig)! The Changeling escapes again inside the conduits- Odo follows him.

We learn that the ship has changed course and it heading to a Tzenkethi colony just 12 mins away. On the bridge, Sisko initiates the auto-destruct sequence, then Kira follows up; it’s set to a 10 min. counter. While O’Brien and a crewman work to get the force fields down around the Changeling, two versions of Odo appear in Engineering! Kira says that shuttlebay doors are closed and evacuation pods are locked also. Whoa, this is as tense as things can get!

The fight between Odo and the Changeling was very complicated to put together b/c of many morphing effects. There were more morphing effects in this scene than in the the rest of S3, producer Steve Oster noted. The writers decided to use the line “no changeling has ever harmed another” as an important element; this line had been heard before (The Search, Part II, Heart of Stone and The Die is Cast). Odo is very affected by the other Changeling’s death.

Odo: Captain, there’s something you need to know. The Changeling, before he… died – he whispered something to me.

Capt. Sisko: Go on.

Odo: He said…”You’re too late. We are everywhere.”

[1] This is a very tense episode with lots of surprises and twists. I also appreciated the ending when you see Odo do something you’d never expect! All in all, one of the better episodes- which is true of all the Changeling episodes.

[2] As the crew start to distrust each other and the sense of paranoia increases the atmosphere becomes more tense.

[3] Good story, good action, and good performances combine to make an open-ended season finale without a contrived or over-the-top cliffhanger.

Deep Space Nine can be great Trek when it wants to be…

-Excerpts from IMDB comments