Friday, January 11, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: Sanctuary

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
Airdate: November 28, 1993
29 of 173 produced
29 of 173 aired


A group of refugees from the Gamma Quadrant arrive at the station. Called the Skrreeans (I had to look that up every time I typed it in this review), their home was conquered by the Dominion. Skrreean legend tells of finding the wormhole and a new haven for their people, which they now believe to be Bajor. The only problem is that the small group of refugees will soon be followed by three million more.

This dress is the most hideous thing Haneek has ever seen. Has she looked at her hair in a mirror lately?


Kevin: This episode for me, is a step in the right direction of establishing a tone for DS9 to set it apart from TNG or TOS. It's not perfect and it's not the most scintillating hour of television, but I think it's a pretty solid effort overall. Starting with the universal translator problem...I like it and I don't. On the one hand, it felt kind of like filler. It just delayed the eventual conversation where we set up our conflict. I did like a little exploration of how the UT works, by scanning the brains of the speaker, but that still feels a little hollow. Shouldn't the brain waves be as foreign as the words? Still, I like that they tried and it was fun to see the crew fumble without a piece of technology normally taken for granted.

Matthew: I kind of can't believe we're talking about the same episode, here. I hate this episode, and to me it typifies everything that's wrong with Deep Space Nine to this point. I'll respond to your observations point by point - the UT issue didn't seem like filler, it was filler. It was stupid and contradicted previous descriptions of the UT (the explanation here was that it couldn't "lock onto grammar," whereas in TOS it is said to scan universal concepts in the brain). It also precipitated extended uses of annoying gibberish language, which is almost always the death of my interest in an episode.

Kevin: What I see this episode as going for is demonstrating the very different response of the Bajoran people to the problem, largely because of their resource situation, but not a little because of xenophobia, too. The Federation would be willing and able to welcome these people anywhere, which of course they eventually do. It's interesting to see a people who still suffer material want respond to the plight of someone in a similar situation. It's ultimately a little low stakes, as the entire millions of people eventually find a safe place to live, and even if it doesn't match their mythical predictions, I can't be too busted up about it. I will say that I like that it wasn't eventually resolved perfectly. Like most tv dramas, there's usually a last second solution to make everyone happy, but not this time, and I think that was a wise choice. Otherwise the episode really wouldn't have been about anything. Directly calling the Bajorans out on the emotional impact of the Occupation was a great way to leave the episode. Kira looks actually speechless.

Matthew: Here's the thing - if you're going to tell me about some alien of the week's struggles for 45 minutes, you'd better do one of two (preferably both) things: make them interesting, make them sympathetic. This episode failed at both. What did we learn about the Skrreeans? They're from far away, they're matriarchal, and they have a prophecy. The first is uninteresting because of its arbitrariness. The second could be interesting, but it's been done already and wasn't emphasized here. The third was so pointlessly shallow as to be more annoying for its presence than its absence. What prophecy? From whom? Is it religious? Who knows? The writers don't deign to inform us. But more damning is how thoroughly unlikable the Skrreeans are. We start with their gibberish language (much of it being yelled at us), which is annoying. But then, Haneek's kid is just unpleasant, like the worst sullen teenager you've ever met. Not only do I not care about him, I want him to fail. The first thing Haneek says upon being shown the fashion of the Alpha Quadrant? It's the most hideous thing she's ever seen. Haneek then turns on a dime from mild and meek to unfairly bitchy and nasty to Kira, at their first disagreement. So now I want her to fail, too. I can see where you're going saying that the Skrreeans' annoying features challenge prejudices. But you're reading too far between the lines. That theme was not developed in any interesting ways. They are actually unlikable, to me, the viewer.

Kevin: I liked the conflict for Kira. It does show some growth for the character, and more effectively than, say, "Progress." She has to manage not just her own feelings, but the needs and interests and lots of conflicting people, and since no one is the bad guy per se, no one can be dismissed out of hand. I liked the scenes with Kira and Haneek and Haneek and the delegation from the Bajoran government. I also really liked the scene with Haneek's son. You knew where it was going, but the mutual sense of tragedy was well portrayed. The final moment between Kira and Haneek was really well done. Kira seems really hurt at what has happened, and it's nice to get moments like that between main and guest stars.

Matthew: The Bajoran angle might have been more interesting if we had actually learned about it. Bajor's in shambles. We kept hearing that. But we never SAW it. A boring musician complained about the arts. Your mention of "Progress" here calls into relief the fact that this character development for Kira has already been done, and to far better effect. I thought the space chase was lame in the extreme. We never SAW any of it, we just had to rely on actors, some portraying people we actively dislike, to sell the scene. Well, no sale.

Kevin: We get another, darker, peek at the Dominion, and overall, I like the introduction. They are meeting people on the fringes of the Dominion, and it's ramping up my interest in learning more. Fortunately, they won't push it past the end of the season, but I like that they are seeding a major plot development so early.

Matthew: I think we should have learned a little bit more. It could have potentially made the Skrreeans a little more interesting. Here, it's just gobbledeygook sci-fi names being thrown around devoid of context.


Kevin: Nana Visitor is a good actress, full stop. She's really matured Kira into a complicated character and helps buoy episodes like these that can easily veer into leaden over-talking. Her scenes with Haneek were good. I particularly liked the scene with the dress where they both crack up over how ugly it is.

Matthew: That was actually  my least favorite scene. It had some really painful fake laughing, and was an acting lowlight for me. As far as acting goes, I think Armin Shimerman was the best, because he disliked the Skrreeans almost as much as I did.

Kevin: The guest cast was very good too. Deborah May was good as Haneek. She portrayed a real sense of responsibility and leadership. Andrew Koenig, Walter Koenig's son did a good job as the impulsive teenager. I also really liked Kitty Swink, Armin Shimerman's wife as the Bajoran offical. She pitched her denial in the perfect tone of voice of a politician. I liked the little scene with William Schallert as Varani, the Bajoran musician. It added some nice color to Bajorans to have them discuss their culture and the desire to reestablish it.

Matthew: I really disliked Koenig. He reminded me of a middle school bully, with no redeeming facets. If that's what he was going for, he accomplished it in spades.

Production Values

Kevin: This is not a huge production episode. I go back and forth on the make-up. I like that it's a very simple idea, and probably very easy to execute on a lot of actors at once. I also like the flake effect to the extent that it almost makes you reflexively shy away from them, like they were lepers or something, and it obviously adds undertones to the Bajoran's refusal. That being said, it is actually kind of unpleasant to look at over the course of the episode.

Matthew: The makeup was all right. The hair? Not all right.

Kevin: What did the Skrreean ship look like? I have no idea. The quick flash of generic model felt like a cheat. Other than that, this was a bottle show, but not detrimentally. I liked the staging of the walk through the Promenade, it gave a nice sense of the size of the station.

Matthew: This was a major problem, because an entire scene hinged on a visual depiction of a space chase. That we never got to see. This is a problem. At least in "The Wounded," the chase is on the main viewer, and we had seen the ships previous to it. Here, nada.


Kevin: This is a 3. It's an interesting enough idea, maybe suffering from a little filler, but not distractingly so. It engages prejudice in a non-heavy handed way, and it keeps the focus on Kira's character development. It's not the most exciting episode, but I think it more than clears the bar to be in the fat part of the bell curve.

Matthew: I've talked myself into a 1. An episode like "Second Sight" has redeeming facets, and develops the characters if nothing else. This has nothing. I hate it, and if I could snap my fingers and relegate it to oblivion, I would. That makes our total a 4.


  1. I can see an argument for a 2 for being low-energy and the UT stuff is clearly filler, but I find this episode adequate.

    Actually, I kind of love it when we disagree by more than a point. We've only done it a handful of times, and it always intrigues me. I know Wolf in the Fold produced a 2/4 split. Are there any others that spring to mind? Am I always the one who likes it more? Quickly, to the spread sheet!

  2. I honestly had to fire up my Playstation Vita and play some pinball to get through this. At least "Move Along Home" is laughably bad. This one is just painful.

  3. I like that Star Trek finally figured out that you can have a matriarchal society without making all the women aggressive as hell and all the men passive sex toys. And that it can be just a background item, and not the focus of the show.

  4. I always thought this episode was kinda creepy. Something about the woman that made me constantly think that this was all a trap, an ambush of some sort.

    She seemed shady and two faced. I cant place my finger on it but I was anticipating her to do something horrible by first pretending to be in need of serious or something.

    In fact, they were all strange, but in a shady, creepy sort of way. Especially Tumak creeped me out: the way he abused Nog and mistreated him for no good reason - he kinda reminded me of people who torture small animals at a young age. Just the way he was - like he enjoyed picking on him the same way he would enjoy torturing a helpless creature. Like a sociopath. He didnt strike me as a teenager who gets himself in trouble and is just being a hormonal juvenile. He was just unlikable and well...creepy. Something was off about the whole cast (or maybe it is the species).

    And the men were treated more like pets than individuals. It almost felt like the women "kept" them around for fucking and procreation but they served no other purpose in their society. They didnt even talk to them...

    And honest to god I did not know until reading this that Tumak was supposed to be Haneek's son. LOLS forever. I really thought he was one of her two pet-men or husbands or whatever they are. Ha!

    Anyway, overall an interesting but somewhat creepy episode inimo that made me feel kinda uncomfortable - from the way the species was portrayed to the way the story played itself out and the characters and their shadiness...