This one is…fine? It’s fine! There are some good moments, and it’s a Dax-centric episode where she’s actually conscious and doing things, which is nice. I just…really don’t have a lot to say about it, and am also a bit under the weather and trying to write through brain fog, so this may be a pretty short post.
OK, so, first of all, it was kind of weird that they just…took the obelisk off that planet, right? Like. Y’all couldn’t just take 3D scans of it or something? Come on, you cannot just take random shit from an alien world and not expect things to go terribly wrong. Have none of you people survival instincts???
With that out of the way…
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.
So after a pretty wild few weeks, this one is a bit more lightweight — even forgettable, at least insofar as, like Nidell with Fenna, I had completely forgotten it since my last rewatch just a couple of years ago, and I am not much more optimistic that I will remember it this time. “Forgettable” also means that, while not great, it’s at least not memorably bad, so it’s got that going for it, I guess?
First, a housekeeping note: for some reason this weekend the comments got FILLED with spam — not sure why now, but there it is. I think I managed to catch all the spam and keep the real comments, but let me know if one of your comments got swept up, too. I’m tweaking my moderation settings, as well, which will (hopefully) help, but let me know if you run into problems commenting.
My notes on this one are fairly sparse, honestly. It’s just kind of…aggressively okay? Not bad enough to cringe over, but not good enough to be really noteworthy.
This is one of those episodes where I like it, but I don’t really feel like I have much to say about it? It’s fine! On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a solid six and a half or seven, and if I make a list of episodes in the first season that shouldn’t be skipped, this would be on it! It’s not bad enough for me to have a lot to say, but it’s also not good enough for me to have a lot to say, either. So we may be out of here quicker than usual, let’s find out!
The main thing I always remember about this episode is that apparently instead of Rumpelstiltskin it was originally going to be a leprechaun, and Colm Meaney was like “uh can u not”. Which…child-stealing is not really a leprechaun thing, is it? Like, Rumpelstiltskin is a much better fit for that to begin with, IMO.
And whenever I rewatch, the main thing I take away is “well, that was slightly more interesting than I remembered”. Which…yes. IDK, for all the flak that “Move Along Home” gets, “If Wishes Were Horses” is usually the first one that jumps to my mind when I’m thinking of why I don’t really like Deep Space Nine‘s first season as much as the rest of the show (though admittedly, it’s usually followed by “Move Along Home” and/or “The Storyteller”). It’s one of Trek’s obligatory “Weird Space Thing/Godlike Alien brings characters/desires/fears to life” episodes, which can be fun but can also be pretty dull, and while there are some fun character moments, it’s hard for me to find anything especially noteworthy. Or, noteworthy in a good way, more specifically.
This is another one where the central plot — Weird Space Thing of the Week — is something I can take or leave, but as a vehicle for some great character moments, it’s a delight.
I do have some questions about this particular Weird Space Thing. Primarily: no one ever noticed this before? The Cardassians came down so hard on Bajoran religion and culture in their efforts to “civilize” them, no one ever noticed that this idyllic little village had this weird superstition completely unlike anyplace else on Bajor? No one else on Bajor knows about this or has ever tried to help/investigate? (Come on, you can’t tell me ghost/cryptid hunters wouldn’t know about this and be investigating. Also, good lord where is my spinoff about ghost/cryptid hunters in the Star Trek universe?)
It also seems a bit odd that the chief medical officer on the station is being called for a two-hour trip to Bajor for a medical emergency — I get that Bajor’s still recovering and the infrastructure is shaky, but the Sirah’s condition doesn’t really seem to be anything particularly unusual; there must be someone closer than two hours away who can take care of him. For that matter, aren’t there other medical staff on the station? What if someone has a heart attack back on DS9 in the few days Bashir’s gone? Hell, what if someone just falls and breaks an arm while he’s asleep? This is a recipe for burnout, Starfleet! Teach your officers how to delegate!!!
(I know the village’s magistrate was pretty vague and just told them that they were in danger of extinction, so Bashir assumes it’s some kind of disease, but also…no one asked more follow-up questions? Or, like, thinks to alert the Bajoran government, who are dealing with trying to rebuild their society, that they have what sounds initially like a potential outbreak of some devastating disease on their hands? MY QUESTIONS STAND.)
But back to the topic of character development
Like “Battle Lines”, this feels like another good use of Bashir. Which is to say: they’re embracing the fact that he can be annoying as hell. I’ve mentioned before that it can feel, early on, like we’re meant to find Bashir’s inability to take a hint sort of cute and charming, which just tends to make it all the more irritating (and, when it involves his crush on Jadzia, flat-out gross and creepy). They lean into it here, however, with him being at least as annoying as he is helpful (the way they call attention to the rank difference feels like a very deliberate acknowledgement of the way Bashir’s coming on so strongly makes things really uncomfortable and awkward, for instance). Somewhat paradoxically, the fact that the text is admitting that yes, he’s being moderately obnoxious makes Bashir a lot more tolerable.
Bashir and O’Brien’s relationship will evolve a lot over the course of the series, and it’s a lot of fun, knowing that they end up as BFFs, seeing O’Brien struggling valiantly to hide his low-key hostility. WHOMST AMONG US HAS NEVER BEEN THERE, O’BRIEN? I believe that is what the kids today call a “big mood”.
(It’s also kind of fun, knowing that the primary reason their friendship was pushed heavily later was because the showrunners found out about Garak/Bashir shippers, panicked, and started avoiding putting them in scenes together, given that a large part of the fandom then proceeded to start shipping Bashir/O’Brien. I was never really into that pairing myself, but I *am* into doing things out of spite, so I wholeheartedly support the effort.)
The B plot
JAKE AND NOG ARE SUCH KIDS, BLESS THEM BOTH!!!! That’s most of what I’ve got. I was, however, weirdly delighted by Odo’s little smirk after he chases the kids from their hangout spot above the Promenade. You like the kids, Odo, don’t deny it.
Just. In a world where a twelve-year-old Black child with a toy was gunned down, and the shooting was ruled justified, with many, many voices rising up to defend his murderer because hey, he looked much older and was clearly a scary thug — in a world where the President of the United fucking States stands by his call for the state to murder a group of Black teenagers for a crime they did not commit — it feels really, really important to have this portrayal of a fourteen-year-old Black boy who’s treated by the narrative as just that: a fourteen-year-old boy. Jake Sisko is an awkward teenager who wants to play games, look at cute girls, and hang out with his best friend. He occasionally grieves for his dead mother, fights with said best friend, and needs advice from his father. He’s a kid. And it’s incredibly depressing and infuriating that, nearly twenty-five years after this episode aired, it’s still unusual for a Black teenager to be allowed to act his age.
I also appreciate how, for all that the plot with Varis isn’t treated as anything particularly out of the ordinary, it’s also, when I spend more than a few seconds thinking about it, completely brutal: Varis doesn’t have parents to turn to for help, like Nog and Jake do, because her parents were murdered. She’s a child, and she’s negotiating land rights on behalf of her people because anyone else who could do so was murdered. It’s a really lovely example of what makes Deep Space Nine so memorable: it would be so, so easy to let Varis’s storyline just be straight melodrama, but it’s not. She’s a sympathetic figure, but she’s also flawed; she makes missteps and struggles and, like many other Bajorans, she’s learning how to live in this new world they’re trying to build.
I have one more question
Why does Odo need a bucket, anyway? Can’t he just…be goo on the floor? Maybe he gets crud in him, like when you have to pick lint and cat hair off your clothes. Or…does he not have quarters? I guess if he’s living in the office, it’s pretty rude to other people working there to just be sleeping on the floor.
- Nog’s entirely age-appropriate crush on Varis is pretty friggin’ adorable.
- Bashir is channeling his horniness into enjoying the drama that plays out before him, and it’s also pretty hilarious.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.