3.01: “The Search, Part 1”

Wow, wow, wow. I know I said back at the end of season one that I was shocked to have gotten all the way there, but that applies even more now, let me tell you. It has been a lot of fun, and I am really, really grateful to everyone (well, all four of you, by the most generous estimate) who’s been reading and commenting and talking to me on Twitter. Here’s to season three!

(Bonus: a couple of my top “I need cheering up” episodes are coming up in the next few weeks, so we’ve all got that to look forward to, as well.)

There are a lot of important elements in this episode, but as a whole, it doesn’t really grab me all that hard? That’s not to say it’s bad — it’s a solid episode and I like it — I just feel like it doesn’t give me a lot of new stuff to think about. A bit like the S2 opener, really, which was also the first of a multi-parter, and which, in general, seemed to be so busy getting everything in place for the upcoming episode(s) that it didn’t always feel like it had much of its own stuff going on.

Needs more vroom vroom

Good lord, Benjamin, telling your team about the new ship you’ve got by sneaking up on them while cloaked is such a dick move. It is also, however, kind of hilarious. I respect it.

The presence of the Defiant does make it all the more noticeable that Sisko still hasn’t been promoted to Captain, however. He should’ve been at the beginning, IMO — mayyyybe at the end of the first season — but now that he’s actually commanding a starship occasionally (in addition to, you know, running a space station), it’s even sillier that it still takes until the end of this season for it to happen.

I also like that Defiant is a prototype, and never actually went into production, because it had so many problems. It seems thematically appropriate for a show that dwells so much on people struggling to make things work, or to hold themselves together, set in a place out at the very edge of Federation space, where (as we’ve already seen) standard Federation practice may not cut it. Alternately, it seems thematically appropriate for Station On Fire Trash Can to have a ship that is constantly on the verge of blowing itself up.

(It’s also fun on a meta level, given that Deep Space Nine has typically been — and was, even at the time — viewed as something of the odd one out in the franchise.)

Home sweet home

First of all: JAKE IS GETTING SO BIG, OH MY GOSH.

Second of all: I just find it so moving that Sisko has started to fall in love with Bajor and with his job. And I use “fall in love” deliberately — I really liked Jadzia’s observation that Dax never expected to see him so passionate about something again after his wife’s death.

When the series started, Sisko expressed frustration, even bitterness, about being assigned so far from Earth. Hell, he’s on the verge of resigning from Starfleet! So to see how he’s coming to love this place and the people aound him — that he’s started thinking of it as home, to the point where he’s gotten things out of storage on Earth and brought them to Deep Space Nine — is just really lovely.

Any half-decent story should involve some character growth, so I’m not totally sure why the growth of Deep Space Nine characters hits me so much harder than in other things, but whew, it really does. (Well, possibly it has something to do with how a couple of my favorite characters, Kira and Sisko, have storylines that involve growing past trauma and grief.)

“I’m not here to make friends.”

First: in the twenty-five years since this episode aired, T’Rul’s declaration that she’s not here to make friends has become hilarious.

Second: you know, for someone who evinces such disdain for humanoids and their emotional drama, Odo is impressively dramatic about anything that offends him. He’s also excellent at passive-aggressiveness.

I’m actually kind of surprised Starfleet was comfortable keeping Odo on as chief of security to begin with. Or the Bajoran government, for that matter. Leaving aside my ethical problems with Odo’s claims to neutrality, it just strikes me as really weird that everyone was cool with a guy who worked for the Cardassians staying on in the job. They’ve only come close to even raising the question of his being a potential security risk a couple of times that I recall, and in those instances, the narrative has treated the question as an unreasonable one — in “A Man Alone” it’s an old enemy of Odo’s stirring up a mob against him, and in “The Maquis, Part 2” Nechayev’s suggestion that Sisko consider a Starfleet security chief comes during a conversation that, to Sisko, reveals Starfleet’s cluelessness about the day-to-day reality of life in the sector. I dunno, I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area, and have just had so many friends and relatives go through the process of getting security clearance for work that I think this is one of those little “okay, faster-than-light travel is one thing but this is really testing my suspension of disbelief” deals for me.

Apparently T’Rul, the Romulan subcommander sent as a liasion officer to supervise the Defiant‘s cloaking technology, was also meant to be a recurring character, but they felt there wasn’t as much dramatic potential in her character. Yes, the abrasive character representing a government with which the Federation’s peace is uneasy at best was decided to have less dramatic potential than the agreeable Starfleet officer. Weird how it was the woman they decided was too boring and unlikable to keep! Plus, not having her as a recurring character there to protect the Romulans’ secrets just highlights, for me, the weirdness of it being the Romulans Defiant‘s cloaking device came from in the first place, when at this point the Federation and the Klingons have a much less shaky relationship.

(Yes, Eddington’s later arc does get pretty interesting later, but at this point, they hadn’t decided to make him Maquis yet, and he was precisely what he seemed — a blandly pleasant Starfleet officer.)

Horniness rankings

  1. “It’s overgunned and overpowered for a ship of its size.” THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID
  2. Bashir is kind of into Subcommander T’Rul. Given that his type appears to be people who are smart, evasive, and possibly a little mean to him, this is not remotely surprising to me.
  3. As I’ve said before, I don’t generally ship Kira/Sisko, but when one character comes to see another in the middle of the night I cannot help interpreting it as slightly horny.
  4. In addition to the fact that he’s there to take Odo’s job, I kind of wonder how much of Odo’s dislike of Eddington is based on the fact that the first person he introduces himself to is Kira. I stand by my past assertions that Odo is not and has never been horny, but he is starting to feel things that are horny-adjacent!

One thought on “3.01: “The Search, Part 1”

  1. There’s a lot to like about this episode. To a major extent it feels like a semi-reboot of the series, shaking up some of the core concepts and resetting the dramatic narrative wholly around the Dominion threat, although I think the real “reboot”, if there is one, is next season’s “The Way of the Warrior” (which used to be where I started previous DS9 rewatches). But like most things on this show, it feels like it works well because the characters are so solidly established by this point, and that carries the story more strongly than the plot itself. Which, have to say, is kind of lame. The events in the story are really pro-forma, basically existing solely to get everyone to a certain point (Odo home and everyone else captured) so they can move on from there. So what happens isn’t bad, exactly, just very rote.

    Bashir suddenly knowing how to man the helm of a completely new class of starship he’s never seen before when the helmsman dies, though, that’s bad. That’s beyond ridiculous. Like, I know he was the only character the script left there to do it, but it’s still ridiculous.

    Other thing that’s not exactly bad but kind of a “huh?” moment is how the Jem’Hadar soldiers boarding the Defiant with their blasters out immediately start using the blasters as melee weapons in order to trigger a much more fair and harder-to-win fist fight, rather than just mowing people down with the guns, which is what the guns are for. If I remember correctly (I haven’t seen part II yet), part of the point was to take some of the senior officers prisoner for a simulation-based experiment, so maybe that’s why they do this, although I don’t know how they could have guaranteed that any of the senior officers would have survived the assault that literally killed someone right there on the bridge. OK, anyway.

    Where this one really shines is in the extra moments you identified, most centrally Sisko and Jake realizing that DS9 is their home now. Also something I hadn’t noticed before, one of the earliest nods to Sisko’s interest in his African heritage is that he has, and prizes, a collection of ancient African art. This moment feels very earned (there’s that word again) after the preceding 2 years, showing us how far Sisko in particular has come from his attitude in “Emissary.” I can’t really add to the way you captured it – it’s a great scene.

    I’d forgotten (a) that this was when they introduced Eddington and (b) T’Rul. Now I feel bad about forgetting T’Rul. There’s obviously a lot of potential to the character; I’m mystified that they cut her after only a few episodes. Probably the writing staff didn’t put enough thought into how they could develop her past being a voice in every Defiant scene standing in the corner saying “cloaking device functioning within normal parameters,” which is surprising considering they built Damar from being a one-off flunky to Dukat into a Gul, a Legate, the leader of Cardassia, a counter-Dominion revolutionary, and a martyr, and they built Eddington from a security jerk to a traitor and Maquis soldier to a refugee to a martyr (they even made him Canadian), and they built Rom and Nog from… you know, never mind, this is just getting depressing now that I’m thinking about what all of these characters have in common. What I’m saying is, have some freaking imagination, people. A short-tempered Romulan on Deep Space Dumpster Fire, and Bashir is into her. How could you not see the potential here??

    Odo meeting his people for the first time. This episode in particular doesn’t give us much to go on since it ends there, but I remember watching this when it first ran and even then, I was pretty sure, almost certain, that they were going to make the changelings the Founders. It seems obvious, like a giant Chekhov’s gun, that they never would have included them in this episode and not pulled that move. Knowing for a fact that it’s coming does make the initial meeting more poignant, I think, because it’s a moment of hope and wonder and shock and you know it’s going to go pear-shaped sooner rather than later.

    0

Comments are closed.