DS9 Rewatch: Season 1, episode 13-19 3

The Storyteller was… look, I was drunk while I watched it. It was okay? You had parallel plots of the young Bajoran Tetrarch trying to figure out how to negotiate, and the Bajoran village figuring out how to name a new “storyteller” to keep it unified. The only real problem I have with the episode is the dude that wants to be the Sirah LITERALLY TRIES TO MURDER O’BRIEN and he’s SO INTO IT that Julian and O’Brien working together barely get his knife away. And then they’re like oh cool, you be the glue that holds this village together because O’Brien doesn’t want to be.

Cool cool cool cool cool.

Anyway, it’s okay. Nog and Jake are fucking adorable. Nog playing a joke on jake with some oatmeal and pretending it was Odo, also A+. Honestly, I would have liked a little more of the Tetrarch and a little less of O’Brien going Do Not Want.

Progress has Nog and Jake being friends and attempting to do deals, and eventually coming out ahead which is lovely. I mean, Nog and Jake trying to act like they Totally Know What a Self-Sealing Stem Bolt Is when talking to O’Brien is comedy gold.  The other half of the episode is a very old-school Star Trek ethical dilemma. The Bajorans want to do a thing to a moon, and there’s some people who don’t want to leave so that the thing can be done.

Though I could do with a lot less of “he’s being so patronizing, isn’t it charming?”

Kira not wanting to be like Cardassians versus weighing the needs of a lot of people is pretty rough. Particularly because it’s so clear that the people were victims of authoritarian violance more than once already. “Doing what has to be done.”

It’s another good episode for Kira, really. She’s gone from Fighting the Power to being and agent of The Power herself. I mean. That’s basically half the episode is getting to the point where Sisko just flat says that to Kira. And the ending is an ambiguous thing… Kira forces the last holdout to leave the moon, but she’s not happy about it, and the show isn’t trying to tell us it’s a good thing that peoples’ lives have to be destroyed for progress; utilitarian arguments aren’t the be-all and end-all.

It’s a good, grown-up episode.

Oh god, Julian awkwardly hitting on Dax again at the start of If Wishes Were Horses. Why this.

Julian: Stop. you’re driving a stake through my heart.

Please god.

Imaginary things are becoming reality! That’s the plot. (Julian does indeed end up with a sex kitten version of Dax, which is… yikes. And extra yikes when Sex Kitten Dax calls the real Dax a “cold fish.”) There’s a “rupture.” The last time it was reported, it blew up the system it was in. Ticking clock ahoy!

I mean, very classically Trek. A weird thing in space makes stuff happening. There’s a slight twist in that we find out there’s some kind of sentient force behind the weird space thing when all the “hallucinations” get together and have a cryptic conversation about the people who imagined them. The conclusion that the weird space thing is everyone’s imaginary fears made manifest is a bit too Sphere for me to be able to take, though.

According to Wikipedia, Rumplestiltskin was originally supposed to be a leprechaun and Colm Meaney nixed it. In which case, whew. I do think it’s super cool that the greatest baseball player ever, Buck Bokai, is Aisan. And the birds Odo spends most of the episode chasing around are the MVPs.

I really could have lived without this one.

Next up is The Forsaken. It’s a “disaster on the station” sort of episode, where some kind of entity gets downloaded into the computers and O’Brien has to figure out how to get it out… while that leaves Odo trapped in an elevator with Lwaxana Troi and Julian trapped in a hallway that’s on fire with a bunch of ambassadors he’s supposed to take care of.

It’s not a particularly deep episode, but it’s got Lwaxana being so very Lwaxana, and I’m a sucker for that. And she does get to have a nice, serious moment with Odo, which I liked. I want a recording of Majel Barrett saying, “I never cared to be ordinary,” that I can listen to every time I’m feeling small and sad. So I loved this episode, it’s fun, and O’Brien comes out of it with an alien computer dog that if I remember correctly, never gets mentioned again.

Dramatis Personae has everyone but Odo acting really fucking weird after a Klingon ship fresh from the Gamma quadrant blows up right outside the station. Odo gets to have a headache that literally splits his head in half and knocks him briefly unconscious instead. Honestly, I kind of loved seeing Quark being so concerned about his best frenemy when Odo gets struck.

You can tell Odo thinks something is very wrong, but the look he shoots Sisko when he says “I couldn’t care less what happened to a Klingon ship,” is absolute gold. And Quark is also unaffected, so that’s a great opportunity for some buddy cop moments. The crew starts splitting into factions between Kira and Sisko, with everyone way too into station politics.

Turns out there’s a doodad that’s recorded the way a species tore itself to shreds and that’s put a telepathic overprint on the people of DS9. Which is very, very Star Trek, looking at the sins of the past destroying the presence. Mostly, this episode is full of really solid acting work by all of the main cast. They are convincingly not themselves, down to the body language, and you can tell things are really, really wrong long before Odo reaches that conclusion.

The fact that the MacGuffin Kira’s so concerned about in this episode is “dolamine” fucked with me, because my brain kept hearing “dolomite” and getting very confused. Also, decision to name the place where the not-dolomite gets refined into weapons-grade MacGuffin, “Ultima Thule” is sure… something. (Though there were quite a few less Nazis running around publically in the early 90s than there are now, so who knows.)

This is a pretty good episode, but it gets 30 DKP minus for telepathic energy being a physical cloud that you can flush out a cargo bay.

Duet goes fast right out of the gate. A Cardassian with a rare illness that means he must have been at an infamous mining camp during the occupation comes to DS9 and Kira is on him immediately. The parallels to hunting down Nazi war criminals are conscious and stark. Kira interrogates Marritza through three phases, each becoming more claustrophobic and tense: first, Marritza claims to have been nothing but a file clerk, and even attempts to gaslight Kira with the claim that nothing so terrible happened at the work camp; it was just a rumor the Cardassians started to keep the Bajorans cowed. Then he claims to be Gul Darhe’el, the Butcher of Gallitep, and taunts Kira monstrously. Then it’s revealed that he in fact Marritza, who has cosmetically transformed himself into the appearance of Darhe’el in an effort to be tried and executed for the war crimes that Darhe’el died in order to escape. In this last moment, he becomes a broken, weeping man, someone tortured by being a “bug” who did nothing personally to cause the atrocities but was too morally weak to do anything to stop them.

Harris Yulin plays the Cardassian, Marritza, and he’s fucking amazing. Nana Visitor is intense and emotional and fucking amazing in this episode. I can see why it’s considered to be one of the best DS9 episodes; the fact that it’s a bottle episode just makes it all the more claustrophobic and inescapable. It’s a masterpiece that asks a lot of incredibly difficult questions and doesn’t offer any answers–because it admits it doesn’t have any. It’s an episode only DS9 could have done justice to because of DS9’s world build and the character work Kira already had in the rest of the season.

Here’s a really intense breakdown of the episode that’s a deeper dive than I can manage–and puts it in context of similar episodes in The Twilight Zone and Magnum, PI.

Anyway, Duet definitely earns its place as one of the best Trek episodes of all time.

Oh god here comes [Not yet] Kai Winn in In the Hands of the Prophets. I barely remember watching DS9 back in the day, but I remember how much I fucking hated Kai Winn. Her first appearance is showing up to shit all over Keiko’s school because the science of the wormhole is blasphemy. This is the first episode that really puts me at odds with Kira, because she’s of the opinion that science needs to have the right spiritual context, and all I can hear is “intelligent design” until I start seeing red.

(And Kira, do you really have a right to dictate the spiritual education of the non-Bajoran kids? Just. Argh.)

Winn: I feel your anger toward me and I forgive you for it.

ARGH I HATE HER SANCTIMONIOUS ASS SO MUCH.

This whole thing just gives me flashbacks to the Kansas evolution hearings, for all they happened over ten years later. It’s all about the conflict between secularism and fundamentalism, with Winn’s faction happy to do things like, say, bomb a school that teaches stuff they don’t like. (And the thing that really cheeses me off is it’s not like Keiko was telling the kids they couldn’t believe in the Prophets; she was just saying what the scientific understanding was.) Sisko rightfully lays the bombing at Winn’s feet; she’s made it clear that she won’t tolerate any beliefs that diverge from her own, and she’s a master of veiled threats. Hell, she uses their shared religion to convince one of the Bajorans on station to attempt to assassinate her opponent.

I mean, it’s a good episode in that it made me hate Winn with the firey passion of a thousand suns. It’s definitely speaking on relevant issues as well. Not a bad ending for the first season, because it hints at social conflicts to come.

3 thoughts on “DS9 Rewatch: Season 1, episode 13-19

  1. Reply Andrew Sep 30,2019 08:51

    The Forsaken has Troi (mother) harassing Julian (I wonder if he learns something from that) and Sisko advises him to just put up with it (not cool!).

    Duet is top ten Trek (not just top ten DS9).

    Winn is the worst.

    • Reply Alex Sep 30,2019 08:55

      Lwaxana goes after Odo the way she used to go after Picard in TNG, and that indeed has not aged well.

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