Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: The Siege

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
"The Siege"
Airdate: October 10, 1993
22 of 173 produced
22 of 173 aired


As the human crew and their families rush to evacuate the station, a small group of Starfleet personnel remains in order to protect Starfleet equipment from being taken over by The Circle. Meanwhile, Kira and Dax rush to bring evidence of Cardassian complicity with the coup attempt to the council of ministers on Bajor.
You gotta shake what yo momma gave you, Jaro!


Matthew: This is sort of the big action conclusion to all of the buildup from the past two episodes. For the most part, I think it's satisfying. My problems lie with what seem like a lot of hastily thrown together action sequences and characters (mainly Colonel Day) who aren't really explained or utilized well. After laying the groundwork for General Krim to be a truly interesting, principled character who just happens o be on the other side of the conflict, Colonel Day is introduced here at the end of the story, and he just sort of acts like a jerk. Now, being a jerk is fine. But why is he a jerk? We never learn. Is he trying to gain political points with Jaro? Does he know about the Cardassian plot to influence events? I think a lot of interesting story angles were left untapped, and the episode would have been richer had they just focused on Krim.

Kevin: Maybe it would have worked better if Day were introduced in the last episode even briefly, maybe at a lower rank, and now a colonel in Jaro's new army is both inexperienced and full of himself. As it stands he's like the Admiral in Offspring. He's a dick because the script says so. And I totally agree on Krim. The brief exchange in the map room last week was awesome and it would have been fun to see more of that.

Matthew: Speaking of the Cardassian plot, it seemed unduly complicated, prone to failure, and not really efficacious of their goals. How do they know that the faction they arm would actually prevail in a civil war? How do they know the Federation would actually leave Bajor open for re-occupation? How would they deal with a newly armed contingent of extremists in their desire to re-occupy the territory (Afghanistan springs to mind here)? Now, it could be that the Cardassians were just gambling, and that their intelligence was bad. But the story has to tell us that for it to be interesting.

Kevin: I felt comfortable inferring it from context. We know the Cardassians would regret their decision to leave after the discovery of the wormhole, and this seems a fairly low-risk way of destabilizing the region to gain the upper hand. It still would have been fun to have a scene with Dukat or Garak about it, and it would have been even more fun to find out Jaro knew where the weapons really came from, but was chancing his ability to hold them off after expelling the Federation.

: In the opening scene, Sisko pressures people into staying. How can it be construed any other way when you call everyone on to the bridge, give a speech about why they should stay, and then make people publicly choose to stay or leave? But really, the bigger question is: Why remain on the station at all? I don't really understand what they were trying to keep from the Circle forces. And why would humans be at risk of physical danger? It seems to be the most they were risking was forcible explusion from the station - which they did of their own accord anyway.

Kevin: Even by Sisko's own statements, they seem to need to hold the station to give Kira time to get the incriminating evidence to the ministers, so why does that require staying on the station? If Kira succeeds, they can come back. Aside from the Circle's literally cosmetic attack on Quark, they, and certainly General Krim do not seem to be genocidal maniacs or anything, so the reason for staying and the risks of going seem ill-defined and that more than anything led to those scenes dragging.

Matthew: I liked Kira and Dax's sequences better than most others in the episode, and I would have preferred it if everyone were on the planet, trying to get the conspiracy information to the right people by various means. I would have liked a more "Seven Days In May" style thriller as opposed to the shoot-outs we did get.

Kevin: I loved these scenes. The humor was sharp and character driven, and the actors have a trally nice rapport. It is also always great to see not one but two competent women on screen who are doing their jobs and having a conversation about something other than men. Had the episode focused on this. it would have been great. I still get a laugh out of Dax asking about her ersatz Bajoran nose.


Matthew: Nana Visitor continues her run of solid acting performances, but this time is joined by Terry Farrell. Their scenes were a lot of fun, with crisp action-comedy pacing. On the station side of things, it was reasonably entertaining to see the rest of the crew engaging in guerrilla tactics, but I can't say anything was particularly stand-out.

Kevin: I found Sisko's speech a little stilted, but maybe that was the writing being less than inspiring. I really enjoy subtler Kira. The fact that she hasn't defaulted to shouting in a while automatically ups the intelligence factor of the character and makes her more interesting to watch. I really liked Farrell as well, and everything we've been seeing from her recently affirms the decision to remold the character as less stiff and more lively.

Matthew: Guest stars are the real lifeblood of this show, and for the most part they are effective.  Richard Beymer still was not given a ton to do, and he didn't really leave a lasting impression. Stephen Macht was under-utilized, but lent a great gravitas to his scenes. Stephen Weber was fine as Col. Day, but didn't get a full-bodied character to play. The two big stars again are Louise Fletcher as Vedek Winn and Frank Langella as Jaro. Their chemistry really carries the coup plotline, and I would have liked to see much more of them. Really, the episode should have been 1/3 Krim vs. Sisko, 1/3 Winn and Jaro, and 1/3 Kira and Dax. So I will just say that I think they tried to cram too much into this show, and perfectly adequate guest stars couldn't keep up.

Kevin: My absolute favorite scene in the episode is the look on Winn's face when it's clear she is backing the wrong horse. Given the energy in their previous scenes together, the casual (but subtle) withdrawal of her support made a great moment in the episode that didn't require any shouting or anything. I agree on the rest of the guest cast, too. Good actors, just not given enough to do.

Production Values

Matthew: With the exception of the spider puppet on the moon, there isn't a whole lot to dislike here. The space and air combat scenes looked very nice - not movie level perhaps, but quite engaging and visually interesting for a tv show. The monastery scenes were good, with good use of matte paintings to create a sense of reality to Bajor. And for whatever they were worth story-wise, the shoot-outs were competently executed.

Kevin: I loved the rotating shot of Bajor and the starfield in the cockpit window and that sunlight casted a moving shadow in the cockpit. It's little touches that really make a scene believable, especially on the cheap. I loved the reliefs on the wall in the monastery and the pagoda-spires in the distance. The pupper was mugato levels of awful however.

Matthew: The lighting deserves special mention. Many scenes on the station were shot in low light conditions, which can be death to visual interest on a television show (and has been in many previous Trek episodes). Here, they were energetic and interesting, because of a creative use of high-contrast shadow and light scenes. Ops looked really good, and the scenes of guerrillas in access tubes were never incomprehensible or boring.

Kevin: You do have to give credit to a lighting guy who can make a bunch of people in gray on gray uniforms in a gray on gray room in the dark look layered and interesting. Particularly on the non-gargantuan non-high definition flat screens of the 90s, it still did not look mushy or undefined.


Matthew: Overall this is a 3 for me. Acting and production keep this in solidly entertaining territory, but half baked (or non baked) elements of the story keep me from being wowed. Any way you slice it though, this 3-parter was a fun, ambitious ride, and kind of has me wondering whey the show didn't just start here, as opposed to making us slog through Babel, Storyteller, and Move Along Home. Finally, the creative staff is using the setting they've created as a rich source of drama.

Kevin: When I sat down I wanted to give this a 4, but after reviewing it for the podcast, I am forced to agree with the three. The station scenes are not tightly scripted enough and it holds the episode back. Still, the rest of the episode really sang, and overall, DS9 managed to execute an ambitious, energetic story in a way that TNG practically couldn't. I am very excited to dive into the rest of season 2, instead of death-marching through season 1. That makes a total of 6 from us.


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