Friday, November 2, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season One: Progress

Deep Space Nine, Season 1
Airdate: May 9, 1993
14 of 173 produced
14 of 173 aired


When Kira is tasked with relocating a colony's residents whose home will be transformed into a power station, she is forced to weigh her duty to her government against her duty to a people who have suffered similar fates at the hands of their former occupiers.

Kira flashes Mullibok a bit of her Bajoran undies. Mullibok is unimpressed.


Matthew: One thing that I've frequently been concerned with on DS9 is the proliferation of local political stories that lack human interest. This is certainly a local political story, but it does carry at least a smidgen of interest. We've all heard eminent domain stories in real life, and sympathized with people who were forced to relocate. But I don't know how much further this story really goes than that (also, who chooses eminent domain as their sci-fi storytelling hook?). Is it telling us something important about the Bajoran people? I don't think so. They're rebuilding and need to power homes. No one seems too broken up by any historical ironies. Does it tell us anything interesting about Kira? Maybe. She is finally willing to torch the guy's house for the greater good, but I can't say I felt like there were any great revelations for her.

Kevin: I remember enjoying this episode a fair amount when I was a kid, but it doesn't age too well for me. I agree, there is a kernel of a decent story here. I think the basic problem is that we accept that the Cardassians were always of bad intent, and the Bajorans are relocating a handful of farmers to give a war-ravaged planet energy independence. It doesn't quite line up, so the moral question is not quite as taut as it should be. I think the story would have been more successful had it doubled down on focusing on Kira herself, and how she fits into a new Bajor. The character has been getting some more nuanced dialogue of late and it's been paying dividends, so they could have focused more on her to everyone's benefit. That, or make the struggle more personal for Kira, and have the government relocate an important Bajoran religious site. THAT would have been a great episode.

Matthew: The B story is related to the A story. Is it in a hackneyed, obvious sort of way? Yes (Land is just dirt! Oh wait...). Does the B story feel satisfying on its own? I don't really think so. For one thing, I have a really hard time imaging Quark, a business owner who crawls on his own floor looking for loose change, letting the business opportunity go by that a pair of novice kids picks up. The Quark of previous episodes could, or at least would try, to sell ice cubes to the Inuit. The story, like most Jake filler thus far, is mildly diverting and reasonably enjoyable. It's just not doing anything particularly interesting, whether in relation to the A plot or not.

Kevin: They are really beating the drum of Jake and Nog's friendship in the first season. I think it doesn't quite work well enough to carry a plot arc. Still, there was some fun comedy moments, and it didn't destroy an episode as it might easily have done.

Matthew: The character of Mullibok is a total cliche, and the particulars of the writing did not help to differentiate or lift him out of that cliche. I think he could have been an opportunity to give us a glimpse of life before the Occupation, how people avoided or coped with it, and the like. All we got was a typical "crusty but charming" old dude. Apparently the creative staff wanted him to be less likable and more manipulative, but due to both dialogue and acting choices, this didn't happen. And that's too bad.

Kevin: I think the show is still a point where it hasn't quite committed full bore to the moral ambiguity that will come to define the series. It's easy to empathize with nice people and take their side even if they are wrong. Conversely, you invest less in jackasses' causes, even if they are right, and that could have added a layer of interest.


Matthew: This was a good episode for Nana Visitor. They're giving her roles with more shades of emotion and complexity of motivation. She really did a good job here and was likable. The other main cast member that had a fair amount to do was Avery Brooks. He had the job of appearing supportive but also conflicted insofar as his duty. He did the job. Aron Eisenberg and Cirroc Lofton have good chemistry, and it's obvious that the creative crew have noticed it. Their scenes are enjoyable.

Kevin: I agree wholeheartedly as to Visitor. She becomes my favorite DS9 character for a reason, and we get glimmers of it here. I agree that, in a vacuum, Eisenberg and Lofton have a nice rapport, but I don't think it quite rises to the level of carry major story elements most of the time, maybe "In the Cards" being a notable exception. On the plus side, shiftless mopey Jake is one of my least favorite characters, so giving him something to do definitely benefits him.

Matthew: Brian Keith brought exactly what the cliched character of Mullibok called for - crustiness and charm. Do I fault him for this? No. He did what he was asked to do. But I can't really praise him, either. He did an adequate job of inhabiting the universe and seeming somewhat like a Bajoran. His emotional storyline made sense. His companions, since they had no lines of dialogue, were completely unmemorable.

Kevin: I figure there must be some phone number you can call and say "Get me a [fill in the blank] type," like ordering a pizza. Someone Domino's for an inexpensive Brian Dennehy, and yeah, they delivered. A better script might have prompted a better job, but I certainly can't fault him here.

Production Values

Matthew: The moon set is clearly on a soundstage, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. It looked like a reasonably elaborate place, though I never really got the feeling that this was a farm that could feed three people long-term. The house interior looked lived in, but that door really bothered me. Like, a lot. Who in the heck would design a door that would not stay closed, due to the angle of its frame? I think two conflicting desires collided here - hexagon shapes for "alien" and hinges for "rustic."

Kevin: I liked the kiln. It had a lot of visual and practical depth, and it almost works as giving the episode a temporal and thematic centerpiece. I like the sheer amount of detail we got on the farm. The one thing that would have solidified the episode is a shot of Bajor in the background.

Matthew:  The station scenes were a bit static, though we did get to see a cargo bay, and 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts. The one bolt we got to see in action was a neat prop, and they did a good job of making it seem like there were really 100 gross. The alien captain who traded for the Yamok sauce looked good, too.


Matthew: I'm going with a 3 on this one. I know I've pointed out some issues with the story, but overall the 45 minutes of show was reasonably entertaining. In some ways, I think an enjoyable B story helped keep things humming along and feeling average. But this is pretty mediocre after all is said and done. It won't be on any best of lists, but it's not as bad as the cavalcade of boring, unfocused dreck we've been subjected to. As ill advised as I think certain elements are, I can still identify with the emotions on display, and Nana Visitor did a yeoman's job.

Kevin: This is a definite 3. It's not the most scintillating hour of television, but it does its job. It's nice to see the show is capable of an average episode, frankly. That makes a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. Any time Jake and Nog try to navigate the Great River... it's always a good time in my book.