Monday, October 22, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 1: Vortex

Deep Space Nine, Season 1
Airdate: April 18, 1993
11 of 173 produced
11 of 173 aired


After a robbery attempt goes tragically goes wrong, Odo finds himself with a visitor from the Gamma Quadrant in his holding cell. Returning him to his people becomes more complicated when he offers Odo information about his origin.

Are you the keymaster? I am the gatekeeper.


Kevin: This is not a great episode, but it's not a horrible one, either. The two main elements are Croden and his criminal behavior and the hint at learning something of Odo's origins. The problem is that neither plot is that good. The scene in the holosuite was fine, but overall, it's not that interesting a plot. We have Quark being involved in a plan to steal something that ends in a murder, and that becomes the first of MANY instances, where Quark goes too far, even for the qualified standards Sisko would be applying. Sneaking a runabout past a hovering enemy was done in the pilot, so it's not nifty anymore.

Matthew: I think the main problem with the Croden plot is that it didn't seem to know what kind of story it wanted to be. Is this the story of a con artist, or of a principled political prisoner? Maybe it's trying to be both, but it kind of ended up being neither. If I had a son or daughter in stasis on some faraway asteroid, I sure as hell wouldn't be holding up random raiders across the galaxy with borrowed phasers, I'd be trying to do something about it. What was his plan, anyway? Was he in league with Quark? If so, why? For that matter, what does Quark have to gain from it? I honestly don't know the answers to these questions, and I've watched this episode more than a few times in the past several years.

Kevin: The Odo plot is not great either, if only because we spent an episode waiting for some new piece of information, and we really got nothing beyond confirmation that changelings exist in the Gamma Quadrant, and we could infer that from the fact that Odo was discovered near the mouth of the wormhole. You can't really spend an episode baiting me with no payoff  and expect me to have a good time.

Matthew: I agree, and I think pacing is the major sin here. We get a tease early in the show, and then nothing really happens for a long time, and then we learn it was just a con job, and from the guy we're supposed to sympathize with no less. But the con wasn't even particularly good, or detailed. I would have been more pleased had Croden spun an elaborate but false tale about the changelings, to whet appetites, both ours and Odo's. This element of the story was strangely inert, about as inert as Odo wistfully calling a trick rock his cousin by the end.

Kevin: The final nail in the coffin for the writing is that both the Rahkari and Miradorn are portrayed and two-dimensionally aggressive and serve only to be obstacles to the main characters. Meh.

Matthew: Yeah, the Miradorn in particular are irritating. Is this psychic pairing thing supposed to be interesting? I could imagine it being, but only if you dedicated, oh, say, more than 2 minutes of an episode to it. In some ways this reminds me of "The Passenger," in that the choice of story emphasis seems to be off. This episode, like so many early DS9 tales, lacks focus.


Kevin: Here, I have fewer complaints. Cliff DeYoung was good as Croden. He had some depth and some interest too him, and his scenes with Odo were pretty good. I also liked his scenes with his daughter. Rene Auberjonois got a lot to do, and even if the story wasn't the best, he did his best with it. Overall, I think it pulls up the episode a fair bit.

Matthew: De Young is, probably more than any other of "those guys," one of "those guys." I SWEAR I've seen him in something before, something he was really memorable in. But for the life of me, I can't remember it, nor does perusing his extremely long resume on IMDB jog my memory. His voice is really memorable, and I agree he brings a lot of interest to his character.

Kevin: Randy Oglesby tried as the Miradorn twins, but it just didn't work for me. I thought the limping was a bit much.

Matthew: This as another good episode for the Quark character. Shimerman has basically done no wrong, all series thus far. I agree with you that the character probably went too far in this episode. But darn it if the actor doesn't sell it.

Production Values

Kevin: Here, they were at least ambitious. Memory Alpha confirms that the Vortex is in fact a modfied reuse of the Mutara Nebula, but hey...why not use a classic? I thought the lighting effects were neat in the toh-maire gas pocket.

Matthew: Yeah, for whatever else ails this episode, effects and model work are not among them. There was a lot of visual interest in the space scenes and the nebula scenes. The runabout set was used well, with interesting viewscreen insets depicting the models and the nebula. I also liked the Vulcans popping in at the end, with their own (strangely repetitive) graphics and uniforms.

Kevin: I also liked the Miradorn ship, which was actually the first use of Baran's raider from Gambit. So, the credit actually goes to this episode for the model. The cave set was very cave light, but between the station, the runabout, the Vortex, and the cave, we at least got a sense of distance and movement in the episode.

Matthew: Yeah, again, I kind of hate the cave set. It's so dark and uninteresting. At least it had a stasis chamber - but how the heck did Croden get such a huge device onto this remote asteroid, without help?


Kevin: This is a lukewarm 3 for me. The two actors who anchor the story are good, but the story is contrived and there's not really a payoff. The production values are good, so in the balance with the acting, the episode is average, but certainly nothing more.

Matthew: I want to like Croden because of Cliff De Young's performance. But I just can't. The story is too muddled, and the emphasis is too diffuse. We don't learn anything, whether about Odo or about the alien conflict of the week. So I won't be going above a 2 yet again. It's really a drag, because there were at least some flashes of better storytelling, and action. But it just got bogged down again. That makes our total rating a 5.

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