“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 classes 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.

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

“Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary” (2010)

The story is one we know and very simple: a former convict, Jean Valjean (Alfie Boe), tries to rebuild his life w/ adopted daughter Cosette after the death of her mother, Fantine (Lea Salonga). Valjean is pursued for years by a police inspector, Javert (Norm Lewis). Against the backdrop of student rebellions in Paris, a student named Marius (Nick Jonas) and the grown-up Cosette (Katie Hall) fall in love. The songs are also very memorable, incl. Who Am I? and Bring Him Home (sung by Valjean), I Dreamed a Dream (sung by Fantine), and On My Own (sung by Eponine). In a time when there are protests in cities (around the world) calling for racial equality and justice reform, this story still resonates.

Fans of the musical will notice that Salonga previously played Eponine in Great Performances: Les Misérables in Concert (1995)- the musical’s 10th anniversary. The petite (yet powerful) singer is the first full-blooded Filipina to have won the Olivier (1990), the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Theatre World Awards (1991) for Best Actress in a Musical for Miss Saigon. In recent years, she was a guest star on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a comedy w/ musical numbers. Most famously, Salonga was the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in the Disney animated movie Aladdin (1992). Not only is she an amazing singer, she also acts out every moment of her role here!

Samantha Barks (Eponine) played the same role in the 2012 film version. Jenny Galloway previously played Madame Thenardier (a crowd favorite) in 1995 and repeated her role in this production. Ramin Karimloo (Enjolras) went on to play the title role in The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Concert a year later opposite Hadley Fraser (Grantaire) as Raoul. Karimloo (who fled Iran w/ his parents when the shah was overthrown in the early ’80s) made his Broadway debut as Valjean in the 2014 revival and earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Lewis is perhaps best known as Edison, a senator and one of the ex-boyfriend’s of Olivia Pope on the ABC TV series- Scandal. He became the first Black actor to play the phantom in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Unlike most of the other phantoms, he has a baritone voice (which is rich and very impressive).

At the end of the concert, we see the original 1985 cast, the international tour cast, and the current cast. We hear Colm Wilkinson (considered the best singer to portray Valjean), John Owen-Jones, Simon Bowman, and Boe sing Bring Him Home. There is an appearance by Michael Ball (the original Marius in the London production; a big star in the UK), composers, lyricist, and producer (Cameron Mackintosh). You can rent this show on YouTube; it’s a must-see for fans of the theater (esp. since we’re stuck at home)!

The casting of Nick Jonas, of Jonas Brothers fame, is little more than a casting publicity stunt, and one which almost backfires catastrophically. Quite simply, Jonas is leagues out of his depth, and his voice has not the power nor range to do justice to the role…

So many excellent singers have brought such depth and strength to the character of Jean Valjean and Alfie Boe does an admirable job. His beautiful rendition of “Bring Him Home” really proves he has the chops to handle this role.

Norm Lewis, whose subtle facial expressions and genuine passion commanded the stage/screen, sang Javert with such power and depth that I actually, for the first time, empathized with his character.

No other musical has the power to raise hairs and bring goosebumps throughout, and at the same time bring entire audiences to tears…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Episode 1: The Homecoming

O’Brien: If they think scrawling a few signs is gonna get rid of us, they got another thing coming.

Sisko: Right now, they’re just trying to show us that we’re vulnerable.

Odo: I wouldn’t be overly concerned, Commander; this section is a low security area.

Sisko: As of now, Constable, there are no low security areas on the station.

Season 2 of the sci-fi series has a bigger budget, we see more sets, and more effective lighting is used. Quark receives a Bajoran earring from a smuggler. She says she received it on Cardassia IV; it needs to be delivered to Bajor (as any Bajoran will recognize it). Quark takes it to Kira; the earring belongs to Li Nalas, considered one of the greatest heroes of the Resistance. Kira asks Sisko for a runabout to rescue him. Bajor is on the verge of civil war; a group called The Circle wants to get rid of all aliens on Bajor. Odo finds their logo graffiti-ed on a wall in the space station. Jake is excited about his first date, though Cmdr. Sisko seems nervous. This teleplay was written by Ira Stephen Behr, who would go on to become showrunner in later seasons.

Sisko: I saw you, in front of the crowd on the promenade. They look at you, and they see strength, and honor, and decency. They look at you and they see the best in themselves.

Li Nalas: But it’s all based on a lie.

Sisko: No – it’s based on a legend. And legends are as powerful as any truth.

The scenes in the labor camp were shot in Soledad Canyon, north of LA. It was refreshing to be outdoors (off the station) for a while. The Cardassians said all political prisoners had been released; Gul Dukat apologizes (which is unexpected). Li Nalas (guest star Richard Beymer- Tony in West Side Story) says he became a hero by accident in a fine scene w/ Sisko. Frank Langella’s (Minister Jaro Essa) performances are uncredited (he did the show for his children, not exposure or money.) At the end of this ep, Minister Jaro declares Li Nalas the liaison officer, leaving Kira’s status uncertain.

I liked the frenemy scenes between Odo and Quark, which were a trademark of Behr’s writing. Beymer portrayed the reluctant hero well. I was very impressed w/ Langella (who even has a different posture when playing the politician to the crowd)! Kira and O’Brien made a good team during the rescue.

Episode 2: The Circle

Odo: [incensed] Major, you’ve been breaking one too many for fourteen and a half years! Cardassian rules, Bajoran rules, Federation rules, they’re all meaningless to you. Because you have a personal code, that’s always mattered more. And I’m sorry to say, you’re in slim company.

Major Kira: [softly] I’ll miss you too, Odo.

Jaro explains the reason for Li Nalas on DS9 is unrest on Bajor. Kira goes to have a rest at the monastery, as suggested by Vedek Bareil. She sees one of the Orbs of Prophecy. Sisko wants to get Kira back as his second in command. He sees Krim (Stephen Macht), the leader of the Bajoran military forces. The Circle is planning to overthrow the provisional government; if all non-Bajorans are expelled, they lose Federation protection. Quark tells Odo he knows who is supplying weapons to The Circle. We get a Game of Thrones-type scene (before the HBO show aired) w/ Minster Jaro and Vedek Winn.

Minister Jaro [to Winn]: We’re a match made by the Prophets.

I always thought it was too bad that the casting director didn’t get a better actor to play Bareil. I hadn’t seen this arc of eps before, but saw him over the course of the series. I know Bareil and Kira are supposed to be attracted to each other, but they lack chemistry. There is good (evil) chemistry between Fletcher and Langella; their plotting scene was great! The goodbye scene in Kira’s quarters was well-done (w/ both serious and light moments).

Episode 3: The Siege

Nog: Has there ever been one of your kind and one of my kind who were better friends?

Jake Sisko: Never.

Nog: And if our fathers couldn’t break us up, no stupid coup d’é… coup… coup-coup d’é…

Jake Sisko: Coup d’état. It’s French.

Nog: And no stupid French thing will either!

The Federation must evacuate the station, but Sisko has no intentions of leaving. He has come to care about what happens to the Bajorans. Sisko, O’Brien, Bashir, Odo, and a few others will try to delay the takeover as long as possible, until the truth re: who is supplying weapons can be revealed. Kira will take evidence to the Chamber of Ministers, but all the runabouts are in use for the evacuation. Li Nalas thinks there might be raiders intact on the Lunar V base; Kira and Dax set off to find out.

This conclusion was written by Michael Piller, co-creator of the series. Awww, poor Keiko and Molly- O’Brien chose his job over family! Quark gets tricked by his brother Rom (which is quite rare, but good to see). Kira and Dax have some light/fun moments, even while facing danger. Also, look out for Steven Weber (who was then starring in Wings). Hmmm, maybe he was a fan of ST universe also?


[1] This was an excellent episode in terms of building up a sense of DS9 as being more then a space station – a home for these people and they fight to protect it and the potential future it represents for the Federation and Bajor.

[2] I like this side of Sisko and he is much more assertive and interesting in part three!

[3] The action scenes in this episode were pretty good and there were a few fun scenes too…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

 

“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 18 (“Duet”)

Major Kira: This is my job.

Marritza: Persecuting Cardassians goes far beyond your job, Major; it’s your passion.

The teleplay was written by Peter Allan Fields; he also wrote the TNG eps “The Inner Light”, “Cost of Living”, and “Half a Life.” He wrote “The Forsaken” on DS9. This is ranked as one of the best eps of the entire series (by media critics, sci-fi writers, and fans). Aamin Marritza (veteran character actor Harris Yulin), a Cardassian suffering from Kalla-Nohra, turns to DS9 (and Dr. Bashir) for medical attention. Major Kira (Nana Visitor) goes into the infirmary and immediately recognizes the disease. He could only have contracted it after an accident in the labor camp (Gallitepp) on Bajor during the occupation. Kira helped liberate that camp, so she knows of the atrocities its commander (Gul Darhe’el) committed. Kira is determined to convict Marritza for war crimes; Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks), Odo (Rene Auberjonois), and Bashir (Alexander Siddig) investigate further. The Cardassian first denies having the disease, then claims he was merely a filing clerk at Gallitepp. Sisko faces a tough decision, as the Bajorans wants him convicted, while the Cardassians want him released.

Major Kira: If your lies are gonna be this transparent, it’s gonna be a very short interrogation.

Marritza: Well, in that case I’ll try to make my lies more opaque.

The intent of the ep (as many viewers will have already guessed) was to establish the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor as a metaphor for the German atrocities under the Nazi regime. The ep marks the first mention of the Shakaar resistance cell (of which Kira was a member). We also get to see Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) again; he plays a very important role in later seasons. What if this Cardassian is a lowly file clerk? Does he deserve to be persecuted (as if he were a powerful commander)? Early in the story, Kira tells Lt. Dax (Terry Farrell) that she considers all Cardassians (who participated in the occupation of her planet) to be guilty. As Kira and Marritza character engage in a “war of words,” we get strong commentary on the intricacies of war and the roles that are played by both sides.

[1] It is a beautifully written, performed, composed and produced episode.

[2] The central issue is the guilt of the coward: something that we all fear, despise, and yet sympathize with.

[3] The end result of the drama is just as surprising to the viewer as it is to the on-screen characters.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews