1.13: “Battle Lines”

OK, first things first: WHY THE HELL DOESN’T THE RUNABOUT HAVE SEATBELTS? Like, OK, theoretically there shouldn’t be any need for them, but things happen! This is a troubling oversight, Starfleet.

With that out of the way: this is a really solid episode. The plot itself is straight out of the original series, but there’s also a lot that makes it uniquely DS9, too. There are some truly fun moments between characters, and I’d probably identify this episode as the one where Kira’s character arc really begins. On which note…

Area woman can’t deal with Kira Nerys

KIRAAAAA, ugh, my emotions. She talks in “Emissary” about Bajor as a whole, but this is the first time we’ve really gotten any in-depth look at the personal toll the Occupation took on her. We’ve seen previously that she’s impulsive and pragmatic, that her first instinct when faced with a locked door is to get out her phaser. But only now does the show call our attention to where that instinct came from: “I’ve known nothing but violence since I was a child.”

Throughout the rest of the show, Kira will struggle with this — yes, she was forced to grow up much too fast, but the other side of the coin is that, not having been able to grow up normally, she’s now stuck in the patterns of her youth. This episode is really the beginning of the arc of her trying to grow up in a way she wasn’t allowed to do, to find ways to make peace with her past and channel her passion into building up herself and her world rather than tearing down the Occupation.

I also love that even though it hasn’t really gotten any significant attention thus far, we’re still seeing Kira and Sisko’s relationship evolve, and Kira grow more comfortable with Sisko in particular and the Federation crew in general. Sisko gently needling her with “when you’re through feeling underappreciated” in the opening, after letting her see Dukat’s file on her, was perhaps disproportionately delightful to me, and Bashir attempting to comfort her in her grief over the Kai’s death was genuinely sweet.

Speaking of Bashir, this episode was a really fantastic use of him. The absolute inability to take a hint when he invites himself along on the trip! His complete failure to read the situation when he and Sisko are working on an escape plan, so his light “isn’t that a bit like assisting a jailbreak?” is met with Sisko stonily shutting him down!

On the flip side, though, his snapping “oh, for God’s sake” and snatching his kit back from the Ennis guard so that he can see to Kira’s injuries is a moment of uncharacteristic anger from him. We’ve seen something like it only once before, in “Emissary“, when he snaps at Odo to help him or get out of his way. As I said then, the character’s saving grace early on is that he A) is actually really fucking good at his job, and B) takes it really fucking seriously. He’s another character whose arc I love, but this episode is maybe the first time I really like him.

Area woman only slightly better-equipped to deal with Bajorans in general

LORRRRRRRD the Bajorans give me so many feelings, in no small part because the things the show does with Bajoran religion are extremely friggin’ Jewish.

Kira: I’m afraid the Prophets won’t forgive me.
Opaka: That is why you need to forgive yourself.

W H E W. That is JEWISH AS HECK, y’all.

I have, uh, cut several paragraphs and several hundred words from this post about the Jewish holiday of Tisha b’Av, and another few hundred about the High Holy Days and Jewish ideas of atonement. (I am, however, going to be talking about religion in Star Trek on Antimatter Pod this weekend, so y’all may not be spared some version of those thoughts.) Suffice it to say that Kira’s journey over the course of the series, her struggle to make peace with her past and to find her identity outside of the context of the Occupation, hits me hard, in places that are inextricably bound up with my Jewish faith.

BUT I DIDN’T CUT EVERYTHING, SORRY, PREPARE FOR SOME JEWISHNESS!!!

The concept of Teshuvah — repentence and atonement, in a larger sense, but also, literally, “turning” — is a big one for the High Holy Days, but there’s a lot in it about repetition, the patterns that we fall into. The holidays come every year, after all — every year, we’ve got more to atone for. Every year, we have to face the ways we’ve disappointed ourselves and others, and every year, we have to start again, even knowing that we’re going to be back here next year. Which is…resonant as hell with this episode, thematically: every day, the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis are given a clean slate, and within a matter of hours, they’re back where they began.

In the words of Rabbi Alan Lew:

Transformation is not something that happens once and for all time. […] Transformation does not have a beginning, a middle, or an end. We never reach the end of Teshuvah. It is always going on. We are awake for a moment, and then we are asleep again. Teshuvah seems to proceed in a circular motion. Every step away is also a step toward home.

And it may never be clear to us that the work of transformation has borne fruit. This is usually the case in the realm of spiritual practice. Real spiritual transformation invariably takes a long time to manifest itself in our lives. Spectacular, immediate results — sudden changes in aspect or in the way we see the world — are always suspect, and usually suggest a superficial rather than a profound transformation.

Sisko and Bashir, the Federation officers, are disappointed at their failure to create any sudden transformation — they seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough, and then negotiations fall apart and the Ennis and Nol-Ennis go back to killing each other.

On the one hand, it’s a sad ending. (My mom, who loves the character of Kai Opaka, is still mad at DS9 for getting rid of her so soon.) But on the other hand — what a profound, and, in its own way, profoundly hopeful ending.

It’s not going to happen overnight. A single cease-fire doesn’t mean the war is over. It’s going to take work, a lot of it. And yet these people are not given up as a lost cause, abandoned to their hatreds — Opaka is determined to start doing the work, determined to stay even before she learns that she’s physically incapable of leaving. Deep Space Nine is often called darker than other series in the franchise, and yeah, it’s that, but I disagree when I see it called pessimistic. It’s not, really, not at all — the hope that characterizes Star Trek is 100% still there, DS9 just…comes at it from a different angle.

On a less intense note

A few things I enjoyed:

  • The bisexual pride flag color scheme of Opaka’s robes
  • Bashir looks much better with his hair messy, IMO
  • Jonathan Banks and the fun moment of recognition I always have when I remember he’s in this episode

Horniness rankings

Me, for this show, apparently??? I mean, I think we all knew that at some level, but I surprised even myself with this post. Also: me for Judaism, but as someone on Twitter (I want to say it was Talia Lavin, but I’m not finding it in her history) once said, it’s an extremely horny religion, so that’s kinda to be expected.

I also feel like it’s worth mentioning that Kira is mad about Dukat’s file on her because he’s completely dismissive of her. The attention of the Galaxy’s Horniest Lizard has been primarily focused on Sisko thus far, and mostly remains so, but as time goes on it expands to the people around Sisko as well, so, uh, sorry about that, girl.

1.12: “Vortex”

This was a surprisingly engaging episode, actually? LOL that sounds harsh, but a lot of the first season just kinda leaves me cold. We’re already reaching a point where both writers and cast are starting to get more of a handle on the characters, though, which helps to liven things up a lot. Additionally, this is an interesting episode in terms of the groundwork it lays for later developments.

The fact that Croden considers the shapeshifters a legend is interesting, as is the fact that there’s some truth to what he says about their having been persecuted by the solids. He’s also bang on in his comments about the shapeshifters’ general personalities: the Founders are later established as having a strong sense of justice that can very easily become too rigid, even turn into fascism; they have very little trust in other species, which can also turn, as Quark points out, into paranoia.

This is also the first time we see Odo’s weird smile and okay, I admit I’m not the biggest Odo fan, but I love his awkward smile so much.

Shout-out to the props team

I really like both the shiny purple mug Quark is drinking out of in the opening, and the bottle Rom brings on the tray. And the glimpse we get of the Vulcan ship, too, actually.

On the subject of Quark, I feel like it’s a very interesting little characterization thing that he’s got a drawer full of security clearance widgets? It struck me as a subtle way of telling us that, like Garak, he actually has the means to do some serious damage to the station. You can argue that he wouldn’t just out of self-interest, since that’s where he lives, but he could also sell them to someone who does want to fuck things up on the station and disappear into the Gamma Quadrant or something.

The climactic scenes though

First, I have some questions: why would Odo be knocked unconscious by rocks? He doesn’t have bones. Or a brain, for that matter. And doesn’t he revert to his liquid state when he’s unconscious, anyway? I watched this episode with my mother, who initially thought that he was faking it as a test for Croden, and frankly, that might have made more sense.

That aside, apparently the writers and producers were concerned about the reveal of Croden’s daughter being too sappy. Instead, I’ll let my mother, with whom I watched the episode, explain why it resonated pretty hard:

Odo, preparing to transport them both to the Vulcan ship: Don’t thank me, I already regret it.
Mom: …but of course he’s helping them anyway, BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF MONSTER WOULD SEPARATE A PARENT AND CHILD TO SEND THE PARENT BACK TO CERTAIN DEATH?

So, yeah, ouch.

Horniness rankings

There is very little horniness in this episode, although Quark and Odo are basically Kate Beaton’s Nemesis comics. Like several other duos on this show, actually (Sisko and Eddington, Dukat and Sisko, Dukat and Kira, some hints at it with Dukat and Garak…let’s be real, pretty much Dukat and anyone he interacts with more than once), which might be why it has such a special place in my heart.

1.11: “The Nagus”

Okay, this feels more like the show that Deep Space Nine is going to become, I think. As with “Q-Less”, the focus is entirely on the characters, with the external plot serving their storylines, rather than the other way around.

My last rewatch was with my then-roommate Mindi, who loves Nog and Rom, and when I yelled “THEY’RE SUCH GOOD BOYS!!!!” over Jake and Nog I got all nostalgic for sitting on her couch, trying to avoid being attacked by one of her cats, and was sad that she was not here to watch it and yell with me.

For real, though, I feel like Nog has one of the more underrated arcs on the show. He starts as a pretty one-note character, a plot device for Sisko’s parenting arc, and by the end he’s the first Ferengi in Starfleet and dealing with PTSD.

(Also: I get that the Ferengi were concerned about Federation ~indoctrination~, and the fact that a woman was the authority figure in the classroom. But they’re not illiterate! WHY CAN’T NOG READ, this is concerning!!!!! What the hell, Rom? Was it supposed to be his mother’s job to teach him, and since she’s [footage not found], Rom just figured “oh well”? I HAVE QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS.)

Speaking of characters being fleshed out more

This was the first episode where I really felt like Jadzia was recognizable as the character she’ll become over the course of the show. Initially, they’re trying convey Dax’s centures of life experience by trying to make Farrell play Space Galadriel, which is frankly a misuse of Farrell’s strengths. As they move away from that, letting Jadzia have more of her own personality, Dax shows up instead as a confidence and self-assurance beyond Jadzia’s years, and she’s playful and adventurous instead.

That transition starts for real in the second season, but Farrell’s performance here hints at it. Which is to say, I love the following things in her scene with Sisko:

  • The way she turns her chair backwards like the Cool Teacher
  • The fact that she admits her parenting advice might not actually be all that helpful
  • The fact that she just…stays there, eating Jake’s dinner, when Sisko leaves??? EVERYONE ON THIS STATION IS SUCH A MESS AND I LOVE IT

Also, O’Brien’s “what, what? oh no” face at Sisko’s “Your daughter’s three, wait until she’s fourteen” is glorious.

OK but yikes though

WHEW, the whole bit about the Ferengi being jazzed about doing business in the Gamma Quadrant because no one there will know yet that they can’t be trusted, and they can break their word with impunity. Like. W H E W. Got it, Star Trek, they’re untrustworthy and suspicious, and are naturally greedy businessmen, and they’re also short with comically oversized head appendages! I get it. I get it, Star Trek, and it’s not great! IT’S NOT GREAT, STAR TREK.

(Hell, it makes Nog’s illiteracy even weirder and more unbelievable. How are we supposed to trick the goyim with all our learning and fancy contracts full of loopholes only we know how to exploit if we can’t read or write those contracts? At least keep your offensive stereotypes consistent, Trek!)

That said:

  • Wallace Shawn as Zek is just chef’s kiss
  • Quark going full Don Corleone is delightful. Armin Shimerman is ALL IN on this show and the fact that Quark is given more to do than just be a Jewish Ferengi stereotype is one of the things that makes the other Ferengi appearances bearable.
  • I also like that where Nog is concerned, Sisko is occasionally inclined to…something almost like NIMBY-ism? The tension he’s struggling with feels very real: yes, he absolutely believes in the Federation’s ideals about diplomacy and reaching out to different people, but in practice, dealing with Ferengi in his daily life, it’s hard for him. I also like that this tension isn’t something that’s quickly resolved — a couple of seasons down the line, he’s reluctant to recommend Nog for Starfleet Academy, immediately assuming that it’s some sort of prank or scam.

One last thing

“You don’t GRAB power, you accumulate it quietly, without anyone noticing!” SERIOUSLY STAR TREK WHAT THE FUCK. Like, granted, actual fucking Nazis weren’t being called “very fine people” by the President of the United States when this was airing, so while it’s aged poorly, it might be slightly more bearable in an environment where white nationalism isn’t increasingly mainstream. But still, good lord.

Horniness rankings

  1. The Nagus, which, you know what, good for him. I also really love how pretty much from the beginning, Deep Space Nine’s holosuites are for porn. Jake and Sisko were in a fishing program in the pilot, but since that was on a starship instead of the station, it’s the exception that proves the rule.
  2. Quark, particularly for the special pleasure he takes in trolling Odo about his new status as Nagus, good lord, I love it.
  3. Dax, for Sisko’s aubergine stew, apparently? I mean, it sounds great, but come on, Dax, boundaries!!! Although Sisko doesn’t seem to mind, so who am I to judge?

August schedule

As noted, I’m gonna try a thing where I do two episodes a week! Let’s see if it works. With that in mind, here is the planned August schedule:

  • August 6: “Move Along Home”
  • August 8: “The Nagus”
  • August 13: “Vortex”
  • August 15: “Battle Lines”
  • August 20: “The Storyteller”
  • August 22: “Progress”
  • August 27: “If Wishes Were Horses”
  • August 29: “The Forsaken”

1.10: “Move Along Home”

I’m gonna try a new thing this month, schedule-wise: two episodes a week! One post will be on Tuesday, one on Thursday. I’m hoping that will make it a bit easier for me to find a good rhythm for myself, and stay engaged. Or maybe I immediately get overwhelmed and we’re back to once a week! It’ll be a fun adventure for all of us.

Apparently this is generally considered the worst episode of the series, which seems a little harsh? I’ll grant that it’s not one of the best, but nothing jumps out at me as egregiously bad, either. Like last week, it’s just kind of…aggressively okay.

It’s a pretty standard Weird Alien Thing Of The Week outing, which, granted, isn’t really where Deep Space Nine‘s strengths lie. It’s also still in the front half of the first season, before there’s been much in the way of character development, so we don’t get any of the subplots and interpersonal stuff that makes later episodes more fun. Again, though, I don’t see any of that as much different from some of the other episodes in the first season, when they’re still getting established and not straying far from previous series’ paths.

To be honest, since neither Quark nor Bashir gets horniness all over Dax or any other woman nearby, I’d rank it above some of the recent episodes, personally.

Can’t believe I waited this long to drop this link

Having rewatched a lot of the show over the past couple of years as friends have gotten into Star Trek and I’ve enabled them, one of my overwhelming feelings in the first season is “OH MY GOSH JAKE IS SUCH A BABY!!!!” He’s so young, oof. And he and Ben have such a great relationship — I wish we’d had a bit more payoff from their interaction in the opening later in the episode. This is also a good time for me to link this lovely essay by one of my favorite critics, Angelica Jade Bastién, “Deep Space Nine Is TV’s Most Revolutionary Depiction of Black Fatherhood“. She says it better than me:

In its first season, it was uneven, still getting a hold on the characterization and ideas it would continue to explore. But one aspect of its story immediately felt lived-in and real: the tender relationship between Commander (and later Captain) Benjamin Sisko (a magnetic, theatrical Avery Brooks) and his young son, Jake (Cirroc Lofton). […] No series before or since has a portrayed a black father with such complexity, crafting him as a widow, a powerful authority figure, a religious icon, a man whose morals are formed in shades of gray and whose love of his son remained his guiding principle.

Also, on a far less profound note, Jake’s reaction the moment Sisko has his brilliant idea of doing his “First Contact as first date” comparison is absolute teen perfection.

Where did the pajamas go?

I realize looking for much sense in the Weird Space Stuff Of The Week is a fool’s errand, but this is bugging me nonetheless: why is everyone in their regular uniforms when they end up in the game? It was the middle of the night and they were all asleep when they were pulled into it, right? They were in their pajamas. And before that, the Wadi had only seen Sisko and Dax in their dress uniforms, which they’re not wearing in the game. The Wadi appear to have some pretty wild transporter tech, but they…actually changed people’s clothes in the process of transporting them? And gave them tricorders? They’re still in their uniforms when the game ends and they appear back in Quark’s, so it’s presumably not just a function of the game. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Speaking of the Wadi, let me just say that a whole planet of gamers sounds terrible. Leave them where you found them, IMO. I do appreciate how shiny everything they wear is, though.

Other thoughts

  • Sisko’s face when he realizes the Wadi were just trolling them is amazing. I am all about Sisko’s moments of barely-contained rage in general TBH. I introduced an old friend to Star Trek: Discovery a couple of years ago, and less than three episodes in, she said that Michael Burnham was definitely made from the mold of all my faves, because “she’s very repressed”, and I felt called out in that way where you’re completely blindsided by the brutal truth of something, and you look back at all your faves and realize that you never even noticed that this was a pattern, and it’s hilarious and a little bit devastating. Just thought of that for some reason.
  • “If all else fails, just yell again, Doctor. We’ll find you.” LMAO Sisko’s moments of bitchiness are so perfect. Also, judging by his sheepish smile as he watches Sisko go after that, I am not the only person who enjoys Sisko’s moments of bitchiness. All I’m saying is that, given Garak, Bashir seems to be into dudes who are sarcastic, urbane daddy types who are carefully controlling their own emotions except for occasional explosions of ruthless competence.
  • ODO YOU CAN’T JUST BUST PEOPLE’S DOORS DOWN, AT LEAST GET A DAMN WARRANT. Primmin is largely forgettable, but he’s not wrong on this.
  • Quark’s Polite Customer Service Mien when Sisko is drinking at the bar and talking about First Contact is #relatable.
  • Also #relatable: that Bashir apparently didn’t bother to look for his dress uniform and realize he’d lost it in time to get a new one.
  • I like that Quark is the one to figure out what’s going on, and that he does so immediately after being told four officers are missing. Quark isn’t stupid, he’s just a jerk, which is part of what makes him such a great foil for other characters.
  • “If you were hurt, I’d leave you behind.” LMAO sure, Dax. I like that Sisko takes this about as seriously as I do.

Horniness rankings

Almost no one? It’s mostly just vague hints, with the exception of Quark, who manages to be fairly horny without being gross at women, channeling it all into gambling, not to mention trolling Odo even in the midst of crisis by making him blow on his dice. Perhaps the lack of general horniness is the true reason why this is considered the worst episode.

1.09: “The Passenger”

I…don’t really have a ton to say about this one, honestly? As with much of the first few seasons, and S1 especially, it’s a pretty standard Weird Space Thing of the Week episode. That said, it seems to be a WSTotW episode with a bit more in the way of character moments and interactions than we’ve had in some of the previous episodes, so a little more interesting. (I can already barely remember what happened in “Babel” apart from the mental image of Sisko passed out over the terminal while Odo and Quark are running things.)

Overall, it’s fine! It’s fine. It’s not terrible! It’s just not particularly memorable, either.

Who needs to get their life right this week?

First, I did appreciate that for a second episode in a row, Bashir’s self-assurance immediately precedes his getting into trouble. I also appreciated that he managed to have scenes with Dax without being weird at her! Good job, Julian, sorry about the rough time you had this week. Finally, I very much appreciated Kira’s general air of “my guy I actually respected you for a minute there, please don’t ruin it” in the runabout. Big mood, as the kids say.

Second, Odo’s ability to be melodramatic is AMAZING. Threatening to resign after his first interaction with Primmin, oh my LORD. I love that for all Odo’s posture of bemusement bordering on disdain at Humanoid Nonsense, he can be petty and dramatic with the best of them. I also love that Sisko is 100% aware of this and does a great job of telling Odo he needs to chill. Alas, Ben, Odo has no chill whatsoever, but points for the attempt.

So what’s the deal with Primmin?

Apparently he’s in this episode and the next one, and was mostly there to fill in while Colm Meaney was filming a movie. I also didn’t really notice O’Brien’s absence until about a third of the way into the episode, whoops.

Like Bashir in “Emissary”, Primmin serves as kind of the odd person out among the Starfleet crew, in that his Starfleet worldview has never really been challenged, and he’s having to learn to work within a different set of rules. I love the times that DS9 plays with the contrast between the way they do things and the rest of Starfleet, and explores some of the discomfort much of (to borrow something Sisko says later) the more black and white Starfleet has with DS9’s shades of gray.

I really like that in this case, Primmin ends up learning from Odo, and the two end up working pretty well together. I’m all about drama, but it was still nice to just have some initial friction turn into good teamwork.

Can we talk about that ending though

…uh. Wow. Perhaps it’s another indication of how early we are in the show; I feel like later on there would be rather more of a reaction to the fact that Kajada just, uh, summarily executes Vantika? I mean, Bashir and Dax just have “those wacky Kobliads” smiles on their faces? WHEW.

Horniness Rankings

  • Quark, although I appreciate that his horniness is largely kept to himself/used to annoy Odo, and he behaves relatively appropriately toward Dax.
  • Kajada, who has a Javert-like horniness for JUSTICE
  • Bashir, for himself, in that opening. Or, more generously, for SCIENCE.

1.08: “Dax”

So, first of all, I usually enjoy the political drama that results from the station not precisely being under Starfleet jurisdiction (or at least not solely under it), so even the little hints of that here, with the extradition treaty necessitating kidnapping Dax and the Bajoran arbiter presiding over the hearing.

In general, this is kind of a forgettable episode, though it does a decent job of doing some worldbuilding around the Trill. I do have some questions, though. Chief among them…

What even are the Trill?

No, seriously. I feel like there are some things here that they drop later in the series, mostly involving terminology. First, the language/references: do we ever hear “Trillian” used again? I feel like “Trill” is mostly used as both an adjective and a noun later. Ditto “Trills” — later it’s just “the Trill” to refer to the people/government.

But also, in this episode, “Trill” seems to be used to refer specifically to the joined being of symbiont and host. Having a specific word makes sense, but it does raise the question of what unjoined people are called. There’s mention of the selection process, and Peers discusses having to be old enough to even be considered for joining, making it clear that not everyone makes the cut. It’s later established that it’s a relatively small portion of the population that’s joined, as well, so…what’s the deal with the rest of the planet? Are they meant to be the “Trillian”, with “Trill” being reserved specifically for the joined?

I also wish we could learn more about Jadzia before she was joined. We learn a lot more about Ezri later, in large part because she was so unprepared for — and in fact uninterested in — joining, but in an episode where one of Sisko’s priorities is establishing Jadzia as her own separate person, you’d think we’d learn more about, you know, Jadzia. By the end, we don’t really know that much more about her than we did at the beginning. Enina Tandro’s farewell seems like an exhortation for her to go and be her own person, and she definitely becomes less sedate as the series continues, but we never really find out that much more about her own past pre-joining, as I recall.

That said, I still really love how they’re carrying through the thread of Sisko and Dax’s changed dynamic, and how both of them are just having to lean into the discomfort as they try to find a new one. Sometimes that just means an awkward lull in the lunch conversation, and sometimes it means an extradition hearing.

Speaking of character dynamics

I also really love how Kira and Sisko are starting to work as a team. It really shows in this episode — their barely-contained glee when he turns the initial discussion of extradition over to her and they fall into a good-cop/bad-cop routine, with him the level-headed Starfleet officer and her the hot-tempered Bajoran attaché, is a delight.

Ditto when he calls himself as a witness and has Kira question him. Lord, her “I’m just a simple caveman lawyer” routine when questioning him is amazing, the two of them have so clearly rehearsed this and it’s hilarious.

Annoyingly unchanged, however, is Bashir’s horniness for Dax. Which might have been almost bearable if it weren’t for how he proceeds to ignore her telling him she doesn’t want him to walk her home. “‘Not necessary, Julian’…but not forbidden, either,” fuck offfffffff, ugh. That he’s then able to help prevent the kidnapping, and therefore his refusal to take her polite rejection seriously is rewarded, is what really makes the grossness complete. At least he gets a good knock on the head for it rather than fighting everyone off himself, that’s something.

I do appreciate that we don’t see him again after he falls for Ilon Tandro’s trap, though (and so easily! “As a layman, there are things I don’t fully understand…” FFS Bashir have you never even heard of Columbo?). I have this vision of Jadzia taking Enina’s encouragement to live her own life as a cue to invite Bashir out for a drink or something, and whew, that would have just been too much. As with Miss Sarda, DS9 gets some things right, even if it’s not quite there.

MY verdict: gayyyyyyy

So Sisko and Curzon definitely boned, right? The way Sisko’s manner softens as he says “I think that was why I liked him so much”? GAY

“He took a raw young ensign under his wing and taught me to appreciate life in ways I’d never thought about before”? GAYYYYYYYYY, Ilon is just like

Community GIF: "this better not awaken anything in me"

Also, the arbiter looks sort of intrigued when Enina shows up, and then as soon as she talks about her affair with Curzon immediately gets an “ugh, gross, str8s” look on her face, ALSO GAY.

Horniness rankings

  1. Bashir, ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh
  2. Sisko, for Curzon, and also JUSTICE, probably in that order

slight delay this week

I was at SDCC this past weekend! It was extremely fun, and Picard looks like it will be very much my shit. Alex Kurtzman dodged my question about the Real Unfortunate Implications of an aspect of Discovery‘s S2 finale and answered something else entirely, but I’m hoping maybe the writers will take the question, and the surprisingly positive crowd reaction to it, to heart? Fingers crossed.

(I figured if there was any reaction it would be for me to get booed as a Joyless PC Buzzkill, but people cheered! A lot of them, not just my mom and the friends I was with! And a few people literally stopped me on my way out after the panel to thank me for it!)

Alas, the internet at the place we were staying was absolutely terrible, so I was unable to watch this week’s episode during any of my downtime. Add to this that, rather than give myself my traditional Recovery Tuesday after arriving back home Monday night, I went back to work this morning, and you have a recipe for “uh somehow it’s Tuesday morning and I don’t have my post ready to go yet???” What even is causality, y’all?

Anyway! I anticipate being able to get this week’s post, “Dax”, up Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how tired the Con Crud + lack of sleep the past couple nights leaves me. Thank you for your understanding during this annoying time.

1.07: “Q-Less”

You know, I went into this episode expecting another one that felt a lot like The Next Generation, like the last couple. My thinking was basically this one’s plot involves characters directly from TNG, how much more TNG-like is it gonna be? And yet, weirdly, despite the presence of Q and Vash, it feels a lot more like the show Deep Space Nine will become than most of what’s come so far. Everyone is messy, everyone is horny, and absolutely no one has any chill whatsoever.

Which I say as a joke, but also, a big part of what I love about DS9, and what’s bored me about the last couple of episodes, has been the lack of any major character stuff. It’s all been pretty straightforward plot-driven Weird Space Thing Of The Week. This episode, the Weird Space Thing was almost an afterthought to the character interactions: they figure out that the Big Glowy Space Manta Ray’s thing — egg? Chrysalis? Do they even say? I don’t think they even say — is what’s causing the station’s power issues, beam it out, and it glides on its merry way in the space of maybe thirty seconds. It’s all about the characters.

Brief meditation on the bigger Star Trek picture

I get that this is one of the things a lot of the fandom doesn’t like as much about DS9 — the move away from Weird Space Thing Of The Week — and Discovery as well. I mean, I can’t help but notice that the series certain parts of the fandom complain about the most are also the ones led by Black characters, what a weird coincidence — but I do believe that at least part of the fandom does, in good faith, just prefer the Weird Space Thing Of The Week format. It’s a stylistic preference, fair enough.

But I’m also really glad that the franchise has tried to make room for other kinds of stories. There’s a whole universe sitting there — to only use it for one kind of story really seems like a waste. So while I’m as tired as the next person of the Franchise Grind in pop culture, and a little leery about the rate at which Star Trek is launching spinoffs, I’m also cautiously pleased by the fact that they don’t all appear to be TNG clones. Hell, that was my biggest criticism of DSC’s second season, that they seemed to be backing away from the things that made the first season unique — and doing so in an attempt to win over a segment of the fandom that, for the most part, they never had in the first place, at the expense of the enjoyment of those of us who actually liked what they were doing.

(See also: the Democratic Party and the ~white working class~. Liz and Anika titled their episode on the DSC S2 finale “Making the 23rd Century Great Again” and that is…not wrong.)

Also, if they want to ask me about my spinoff ideas — one about the Cardassian occupation of Bajor that covers a few years before DS9 begins, and one a half-hour sitcom that’s basically Parks and Recreation at Starfleet HQ — I am here anytime.

Uh, so, that spiraled a bit. Returning to the more immediate topic of this particular episode…

The subtle horror of Q

You know, from TOS’s “Charlie X” through to DSC’s Gabriel Lorca, Star Trek really has made a theme out of how fucking terrifying entitled white men with a lot of power can be. Q spends a lot of his time just moderately irritating people and putting them in silly costumes, and then suddenly he’ll turn around and remind us that oh, fuck, he absolutely has the power to do much, much worse.

As a woman, watching his interactions with Vash is…uncomfortably realistic. “I’m the Q and you the lowly human. I’ll decide when this partnership is over.” How many times have I been friendly and polite to a guy who I couldn’t stand because I had no way of knowing whether he would be dangerous if I didn’t?

Also, every time I rewatch one of his episodes, I remember that I really, really need to write the essay about Q as the Jewish devil that’s been bouncing around in my head for a couple of years.

Julian needs to get his life right again

…and all is right with the world once more. I didn’t even know who I was when I couldn’t yell at him to get his life right.

From O’Brien’s face while sitting next to Bashir in the opening teaser, through Q just putting him to sleep for a few days, to Dax’s “lol buddy you have no idea” expression when she realizes he slept through all the excitement, this episode continues the pattern of “everyone is trying their best to ignore Bashir until he settles down a little” and I am extremely amused by it. Like, I don’t think that’s what the writers were doing consciously, but I’m definitely enjoying it as my own interpretation.

OK, Quark, I’ll allow it

In “Babel”, Quark was mostly tolerable because he wasn’t actually doing much hitting on anyone; in this one, he and Vash actually seem to be on the same wavelength, and it’s…kind of hilarious? If Star Trek is still looking for more spinoffs, I would watch The Quark and Vash Dirtbag Variety Hour every damn week.

Also, I am perhaps disproportionately entertained by Quark taking it in stride when Q just wishes him into the cornfield and back. Armin Shimerman is all in and even when Quark is at his worst I appreciate the hell out of that commitment. (Also, given that for a couple of years there he was doing both this show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer I feel like those of us who were in our formative nerd years during the late 90’s/early 00’s really owe Shimerman our gratitude.)

Other notes

  • Vash hiding her PIN as she locks her stuff in the vault just struck me as a really nice little touch that made the episode that much more real.
  • “Vash and Captain Picard were…friends. Close friends, if you catch my meaning, sir.” I love how O’Brien is trying to pretend to be halfway discreet about his tea-spilling. Like, that significant pause before “friends” may not have been enough, let’s just make it a little clearer. And Sisko’s comment on how Vash doesn’t seem like Picard’s type, ugh, everyone on this station is a messy bitch who lives for drama and I love it so much.
  • Kira’s solution to the jammed door being to pull out her phaser, lord I love her so much.
  • SISKO PUNCHES Q, LORD I LOVE HIM SO MUCH
  • Quark: Isn’t there anything you desire?
    Odo: I have my work. What else do I need?
    Me: GROSS.

Horniness rankings

Everyone. Everyone is horny. Quark is horny, Q is horny, Vash is horny, Bashir is horny, Bashir’s date in the opening teaser is horny, even Odo feels a stirring of something approaching horniness at the prospect of a latinum-plated bucket. Everyone is horny. This may be the horniest, thus far, that an episode has been without Dukat in it; truly, DS9 is coming into its own.

  1. Q
  2. Quark
  3. Bashir’s date
  4. Bashir
  5. Vash

1.06: “Captive Pursuit”

Probably not a super-long post today, since A) my notes were not actually all that extensive so I guess I don’t have a ton to say, and B) most of my spare time and energy has been devoted to frantic crafting in an effort to finish my costumes before San Diego Comic Con next week.

(Can’t wait for the Star Trek: Discovery panel so I can ask, in my best Nice White Lady Voice, how they plan to address a mostly-white, mostly-male group deciding that the accomplishments of a Black woman and her extremely diverse crewmates must be erased from the Federation’s historical record!)

Regarding my first point, about not having a ton to say: like last week, this is a pretty straightforward, plot-focused episode. Which is fine, but also not where DS9 really comes to shine later. Early on, as Jason noted with “Babel”, the show tends to be very cautious, staying closer to The Next Generation in its episode structures. (And it’s even clearer how much that was a “we should play it safe for a while” decision now, nearly twenty years later, having seen the anger from a lot of the fanbase about Discovery committing the sin of not being a TNG clone.) Unlike TNG, however, which was in its sixth season when DS9 was in its first, we don’t know nearly as much about the characters, so it’s hard to know why a given situation might challenge a given character.

Speaking of which…

Oh hey what’s up O’Brien

“Babel” started with a focus on O’Brien and then shifted away once he came down with the virus, which was actually a bit of a disappointment. It was cool to get some follow-through in this one, though I would have liked a bit more, again, about O’Brien as a person rather than a plot piece. That said, Colm Meaney and Scott MacDonald, who plays Tosk, have pretty solid chemistry, and I friggin’ love O’Brien’s well I get what you’re going for here and appreciate it in that spirit but uhhh face in reaction to Tosk’s “Die with honor, O’Brien” farewell.

JUSTICE 4 SARDA

They completely dropped the whole thing from the beginning with Miss Sarda the dabo girl and I am annoyed about it. Three things I enjoyed about that opening:

  1. That she had the guts to speak up about Quark’s bullshit
  2. That we didn’t have to actually witness any of Quark’s bullshit, just hear it reported, suggesting that Sisko’s default is to believe people who report harassment to him
  3. That the commander of the station makes himself available for anyone to report problems to him directly rather than hiding behind layers of bureaucracy and trying to drown people in paperwork until the problem goes away

All of this speaks well to the healthy, safe place everyone is attempting to make the station! But the lack of any follow-up on it means that it’s impossible to know whether those attempts will be effective.

Other things I appreciated

  • O’Brien pointedly talking over Bashir’s attempt to insert himself into the excitement by suggesting Tosk come in for a medical examination. I really love how everyone is just calmly trying to ignore Bashir until he chills a little.
  • “SHUT UP, QUARK.”
  • Can we all just appreciate Odo’s attempt to casually saunter away after Sisko’s “there’s no hurry”? Odo has never been chill in his life, he will never be chill in his life, he has absolutely zero chill ever, and it is hilarious. Odo makes Sisko and Kira look low-key and easygoing.
  • Quark’s hunger for gossip remains #relatable as hell

Horniness rankings

The closest thing to horniness this week: Bashir and Quark’s attempts to get closer to the action. And thank goodness, because apparently the opening was supposed to involve Miss Sarda attempting to seduce Sisko later, which, whew, could have gone way too easily into some unfortunate territory.