2.11: “Rivals”

This one is so light and just generally fun that I promptly went to check the episode list because I assumed something absolutely brutal would be coming up and they were lulling me into a false sense of security. But nothing in the immediate future jumps out at me as particularly painful, so I can only conclude that I just have trust issues around TV.

Anyway, once again, I don’t actually have a ton to say about this one. I did feel like in general, the various parts gelled much better than the last one, which felt more like three to five separate potential episodes pushed together. This one felt more like a coherent whole.

I…enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to, actually? It’s not in the top ten of the show or anything, but it’s a solid forty-odd minutes with some fun character interactions. In general, though, I also really love when sci-fi/fantasy works play around with the concept of luck/randomness as a force that can be manipulated — it’s a hard concept to figure out how to play with, but this episode does get across the potential for fun there, in addition to some generally delightful character moments.

Speaking of fun

The Bashir-O’Brien racquetball subplot is what really make this episode fun, I think. (That and Armin Shimerman’s performance, but more on that later.) I like that, as with “The Storyteller“, we get more hints of O’Brien’s low-key dislike of Bashir. Which, early on in the show, whomst among us can really blame him?

I also enjoy, further, the “this person rubs me exactly the wrong way and I know I need to let it go but what if I didn’t?” of it all for O’Brien, because, again, WHOMST AMONG US HAS NOT BEEN THERE? #Relatable. I’ve said it before, but no one on this station has any chill, and I love it.

Also, Julian manages to have lunch with Dax and not hit on her even once?? Truly, he is growing.

Surprising precisely no one, however, my favorite single moment was probably Sisko and Quark’s interaction. Brooks and Shimerman are just absolutely perfect in every single line of their exchange. Sisko’s cheerful “I didn’t beg, I blackmailed you”? Good lord, Benjamin, when are you going to marry me already???

My second favorite moment was, without question, Quark going full THINK OF THE CHILDREN to Bashir and O’Brien when selling them on the Big Game. Everything about it was absolutely, delightfully ridiculous, but the Bajoran monks in the background? *chef’s kiss* As noted above, Armin Shimerman’s performance may be, in general, a big part of what really makes this one more fun than the usual forgettable Weird Space Thing of the Week episode.

What might have been

Apparently Martus Mazur was originally written as Guinan’s son, but Whoopi Goldberg wasn’t able to make the scheduling work, so they rewrote to just have him be a random El-Aurian instead. Which…is interesting, but I think, upon reflection, that mostly I just love the two separate ideas of:

  1. Guinan having a wayward dirtbag kid kicking around the galaxy.
  2. Guinan just casually showing up on the station now and then. She doesn’t even need to do anything, just be hanging out in the background on the Promenade, maybe have dinner with the O’Briens and reminisce about the time she and Keiko got turned into kids and how deeply uncomfortable that was for Miles, swap hilarious stories about being old as balls with Dax, that kind of thing.

Those ideas don’t necessarily need to both be part of this episode, though, and might have just slowed the episode down a bit.

A few other things I enjoyed

  1. Kira declaring smugly that you make your own luck in life, everyone knows that, and then promptly tripping on a step and falling over. I feel like Kira doesn’t get a lot of funnier moments, but she really makes a phenomenal straight woman. A bit like Odo, except that Kira doesn’t really have a Quark equivalent.
  2. The giant screen Quark has at the bar — which, upon consideration, it’s actually a little surprising that doesn’t get pulled out more often for sports events? There must be plenty of big events going on around the galaxy for him to take bets on.
  3. The fact that Keiko goes all in on Miles’s ridiculous rivalry with Julian, and is very solemn in helping him prepare for the Big Game even as she is also clearly struggling to keep a straight face. The way their marriage is written doesn’t always work for me, but they also have some truly delightful moments, in no small part due to the chemistry between Meaney and Chao, who can just be incredibly fun together.
  4. Rom, once again, leaving with a dabo girl. Rom does all right, y’all!

Horniness rankings

It’s such a pleasant change to have had a Julian-Jadzia scene and not have to put him on this list? Good job, Julian, keep getting your life right.

  1. Keiko and Miles. See above re: delightful.
  2. Rom, for more equitable payment!!!
  3. Dabo girls, for Rom, apparently?

3 thoughts on “2.11: “Rivals”

  1. Yeah… it’s light and fun, but I couldn’t really get into it. I think Christopher Sarandon was badly miscast as Martas, or he played the role poorly. The humor was way too broad for my taste. The kind of goofy eccentricity mixed with edged cynicism he was going for is tough to pull off.

    I liked this episode for Sisko moments. His whole scene with Quark on the Promenade, in addition to being inventively directed for Trek (a conversation that begins on one level, goes into the turbolift, and then continues on the lower level in one uninterrupted shot – that’s practically Alfonso Cuaron shit for Star Trek) was hilarious, especially when he just impatiently corrects Quark by saying he blackmailed him to stay on the station. Sisko has clearly had A Day, or perhaps A Week by the time this conversation rolls around. Also impressing me is Sisko’s no-questions-asked decision to phaser the gambling machines into oblivion once he and Dax determine they’re the cause of the luck issues. Are they private property? Sure. Can he be sure that shooting them with a phaser won’t cause bigger problems or make the habitat ring explode? Nah. Anyone care? Nah fam, vaporize away. Love it.

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    1. Yeah, I never quite bought him as having the level of charm I feel like he was supposed to have as a con man? (Although, given that he was, himself, scammed, one could argue that that makes sense, though it’s probably not what they were going for.) Having so much of the episode rest on a character we’ve never met before is always a risky move, and while it paid off in the sense that I enjoyed the episode well enough while I was watching, it was also thoroughly forgettable and I don’t feel any real need to watch it again. The full episode, at least — there are a few scenes I wouldn’t mind seeing repeatedly, but he wasn’t in any of them.

      YESSSSSSS, Sisko’s level of fucks given starts out low in this episode and decreases steadily, it’s GLORIOUS.

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