“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 11 (“Vortex”)

Quark:  You think the whole galaxy is plotting around you, don’t you? Paranoia must run in your species, Odo. Maybe that’s why no one has ever seen a changeling. They’re all hiding!

A Mindaran ship arrives on DS9 w/ twin brothers, Ah-Kel and Ro-Kel (Randy Ogelsby), known as smugglers. Another mysterious alien, Croden (Cliff De Young), has been spending time in Quark’s bar. He comes from the Gamma Quadrant, so is one of a kind on DS9. There are reports of he and Quark (Armin Shimerman) having long convos. Odo (Rene Auberjonois) disguises himself and catches Quark negotiating w/ the Mindarans about an artifact (probably stolen). Odo can’t prevent Croden from killing Ro-Kel while trying to steal the artifact. Ah-Kel vows revenge, as twins of his species are like two halves of one being.

[Croden has killed Ah-Kel’s brother in self defense]

Ah-Kel: My only purpose in life from here on… is to see him dead!

Croden, who is roguish and talkative, tells Odo that he has seen shape-shifters before (he uses the term “Changeling”- a first for DS9). He claims they once lived on his home planet, but were driven out. He saw them on another planet a few years ago and can take Odo there. Croden opens a locket containing a shape-shifting fluid; Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) declares this is partly organic (living) matter! Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Dax (Terry Farrell) go through the wormhole to inform Croden’s people that he has been arrested. They want no contact w/ outsiders and demand his return. Sisko agrees; Odo is tasked to fly Croden back.

This is a strong ep which was inspired by a Western. New viewers, as well as fans who are re-watching, will enjoy this story. It turns out that the prisoner is not what we assumed. We may wonder if he deserves death, as his planet has no trials. The security chief is faced w/ a conflict between his duty and his desire to learn more about his people. We get to see Odo unsettled (very rare); he and Croden have to rely on each other to survive. In the end, we realize that (unlike Federation officers), Odo has his own sense of justice!

Odo: [to the stone changeling] Home… Where is it? Someday we’ll know… cousin.

In the shot in which Rom places the drink bottle onto the tray, we see that there are five glasses instead of four. The camera focuses on the fifth glass in homage to Hitchcock’s Notorious. According to writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Odo’s line: “I’m a security chief, not a combat pilot” is a tribute to Dr. McCoy’s running line in TOS: “I’m a doctor, not a….” The exterior visuals of the vortex are re-used shots of from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, w/ color slightly changed and flipped upside-down.

[1]…gives us more insight into him [Odo], especially his efficiency and integrity as a law enforcement officer, while at the same time giving us a peek past his cold exterior to see his inner loneliness and vulnerability.

[2] The resolution to this story is highly satisfactory and tells us something important about Odo. As we’ve come to expect, Auberjonois and Shimerman give stellar performances.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 1, Episode 10 (“The Nagus”)

[Rom has returned a beautiful woman’s lost wallet]

Quark: You worthless tiny-eared fool! Don’t you know the First Rule of Acquisition?

Rom: Yes, brother.

Quark: Then say it!

Rom: “Once you have their money, you never give it back.”

This teleplay was written by Ira Stephen Behr, who wasn’t a “father” of DS9 (like Piller and Berman), but raised it into a strong/unique sci-fi series. The main story of this ep has the leader of the Ferengi, Grand Nagus Zek (veteran actor Wallace Shawn) and his son, Krax (Lou Wagner), arrive at DS9. Quark (Armin Shimerman) and his brother, Rom (Max Grodenchik), are in awe and arrange for everything Zek needs. (The face seen on the Grand Nagus’ golden staff was sculpted to resemble Shimerman’s Quark.) Zek praises Quark’s business instinct; Quark fears that Zek wants to take over his bar. However, Zek tells Quark a conference will be held in the bar, where Ferengi politicians will discuss how to exploit business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant (the world on the other side of the wormhole). Also, Zek plans to retire and appoint his successor.

Quark: Tell me, is the Grand Nagus here on business or pleasure?

Krax: Is there a difference?

In the B-story (secondary), we see adolescent growing pains, as 14 y.o. Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) prefers to spend time w/ his friend, Nog (Aron Eisenberg), than his father. Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) has to substitute teach (been there- ugh), since wife Keiko is spending time w/ her mom on Earth. (The screen in the school behind O’Brien includes a figure of the aliens- Korob and Sylvia- from the TOS ep “Catspaw,” and also tribbles. In the back of the classroom, there is a poster containing the five USS Enterprise vessels.) Nog’s father decides that he doesn’t need to attend school (w/ humans). We discover Jake was teaching Nog to read (aww)! Sisko (Avery Brooks) earlier told Jake that humans and Ferengi were too different culturally to be friends.

Zek: [6th Rule of Acquisition] Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.

The Rules of Acquisition are mentioned in this ep. The scene where Quark meets Nava is a tribute to the The Godfather. Quark’s Corvan gilvo (the alien animal he holds), the way he scratches his ear, the blinds on the windows, and the dialogue (“Yet now you call me Nagus”) allude to the film. This is a light-hearted and somewhat funny ep where we get character development of Quark, Rom, and Nog. Sisko, Jake, Odo, and even Dax get their moments.

[1] The Ferengi are essentially the exact opposite of the Federation. The Federation has abandoned all market-based activities, including commerce, acquisition of assets, and even money itself; while Ferengi society is entirely based around those things.

[2] For those that enjoy broad farce and slapstick comedy… you might find a chuckle or two. Shimerman, in the midst of outrageous comedy, manages to inject some thoughtful dramatic moments as he struggles with his new found power and the added responsibilities (and dangers) it brings.

[3] Episodes like this really fulfill the core promise of DS9 as a show… Now we follow a crew that has the unknown come to them, and the consequences of those encounters are real and must be dealt with.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“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