Monday, April 8, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: The Search, Part I

Deep Space Nine, Season 3
"The Search, Part I"
Airdate: September 26, 1994
46 of 173 produced
46 of 173 aired

Introduction

Several months have passed since Sisko's first encounter with the Jem'Hadar, and he has returned to DS9 with some battle reinforcements in tow - the USS Defiant. Now he and his crew must ventuure back into the Gamma Quadrant in search of the mysterious Founders of the Dominion.


On Romulus we have a saying: He who smelt it dealt it, Commander.




Writing

Matthew: This episode was really crisp and entertaining, with a lot of plot, but also a good amount of character scenes, such as the Siskos talking about home, and Sisko's interactions with Quark, Dax, and Kira. The introduction of the Defiant and its guest characters was handled well, the nuts and blots of the "run silent run deep" plot were fun to watch, and Odo's compulsion to find his relatives was compelling for us, too. A lot of stuff happened in this episode, but it never felt rushed or in danger of losing control.

Kevin: Much like the opener of season 2, this feels like a fresh, more certain direction for the show. We didn't need or have a useless B-plot, and there was very little in the way of filler. I particularly liked that they didn't pick up the story minutes after the end of "Jem'Hadar." It implies that the Dominion story is here to stay and that made me happy. I also like that the Federation is sending it's best (again) and gets creamed (again). Without writing themselves into the corner you get with the Borg, the Dominion feels like a truly overwhelming threat. It gave the episode a lot of energy.

Matthew: I wish "the search" for the founders had taken a bit longer. I really liked the dialogue questioning whether they exist, even by Dominion subjects. It only took our intrepid crew 35 minutes or so to find them. If it was as easy as asking one trade race for rumors, couldn't someone else have done this? It would have been better if Odo and Kira had been captured by the Jem'Hadar and taken to their (actually) secret base, and then if no one believed Odo later on because of his outsider status. That said, it provided an interesting cliffhanger for this story, with Odo having his relatives revealed but not explained at the end of this episode.

Kevin: I am a little more forgiving given that they actually do explain why the search was so fruitful so quickly, the Founders had laid a trap for them. My complaint for this episode is the Nagus staff bit with Quark. Armin Shimerman said in an interview he found Sisko making Quark kiss the staff a little racist, and I have to agree. Having some fun with Quark is one thing, but the kiss in particularl felt a tad needlessly humiliating and a mockery of an actual, established Ferengi cultural act. The scene has enough laughs, and we've explored Sisko's possible racism toward Ferengi before, but I'm sure I like how it plays out here.

Matthew: I liked the staff scene, because I think it's really interesting to have humans be culturally insensitive. Yawn, Odo is being usurped again, and wants broader martial powers. How many times have we done this before? Did I ever worry that he wouldn't be chief of security by the end of the episode? The answer is no. I get why the writers felt it necessary to put Odo's motivations in doubt, but it would have been much more effective, if you ask me, if they had just stuck with the irresistible compulsion angle, instead of recycling a story we've seen at least twice before. While I'm complaining, why would replicated I'danian spice pudding be different on earth? Or replicated synthehol be different than on the station? Or replicated coffee? The replicator jokes are ridiculous, not to mention unfunny.

Kevin: They mined the story trope well inside the bounds of the episode, which ameliorates it a little for me. Kira trying to get him to come along and her conversation with Sisko were good scenes in and of themselves, but overall I agree that there was never any sense Odo would not be sticking around as head of security. And the replicator joke makes no sense. It manipulates things on the molecular level. If it can't make good pudding, it shouldn't even be able to make pudding at all. It's a tired joke and they need to stop making it.

Acting

Matthew: This was a really good Sisko show. Avery Brooks didn't overact at all, and he really played well against the rest of the cast. Nana Visitor was also a standout, showing a nice compassion for Odo. I found O'Brien, Bashir, and to some extent Dax to be underutilized, so they didn't get much chance to shine. Nonetheless, there were no stinker performances to be found here.

Kevin: There's not a lot to add here. Everyone did their job well. I found Dax's scene with Sisko to be quite good. I like that they never seem to rest the relationship on the history with Curzon. I get the impression that Jadzia and Sisko are friends as the people they are now, not just as they people they were twenty years ago. That has to be a tough acting gig, and they both do it well.

Matthew: The guest cast was really great in this episode. John Fleck (later Silik in ENT) and Martha Hackett (later Seska in VOY) were both superb. Fleck's voice and swishy, unctuous manner is really fun to watch. Hackett delivers some real Treknobabble corkers with aplomb, all while giving her character a fiery attitude. Kenneth Marshall was also effective as Eddignton.

Kevin: I love love love Martha Hackett. She has a way of biting off the lines that reads as just the right amount of combative. She handles the technobabble really well, too. I love how she said she's "not here to make friends."


Production Values

Matthew: Criticicm first - it looks like Kira and Dax paid a visit to the same salon, in order to get ridiculous updos. Are they going to prom or something? Also, holy crap, what was the outfit on Jake - paisley? Print? Blue velvet? all of the above? Yikes. Thus ends the criticism of production aspects of this episode. The remainder is practically unimpeachable. We're introduced to two new models, the Defiant and its mini-shuttle. Both look great, and the way the Defiant model was photographed really provides some mouth-watering shots for the nerds among us.

Kevin: I was more okay with Kira's, as it looked like it just had a but too much product in it, but I kind of like the general shape, and will like it more once it relaxes a little. Dax's hair is just plain crazy. No one who works for a living could have that hair. And it looks like they added a huge additional piece in the back, But yeah, other than that, the episode was gorgeous. The Defiant model is great, perfectly fitting the bill for "of Starfleet" but not a traditional design.

Matthew: As far as sets go, the conference room is introduced, as well as some Defiant bridge and crew quarters, and an outdoor soundstage depicting a rogue planet and the great link. All were well done. The bridge in particular is a set that needs to be done well in order to maintain credibility, and that mission is accomplished. The feel is more military, with a central command chair and radiating duty stations facing the wall. The NX-01 bridge from "Enterprise" seems to have been designed in a very similar vein, down to the table display and the rear shelves.

Kevin: I like the bunk beds on the Defiant. After that hotel suites of the Enterprise, it's a stark change. I like the bridge as well. Even the single occupant helm feels more spartan. The rogue planet looked very good, though maybe a tad too dark. The color and light lent it a perpetual twilight feel that is dramatic but got a little muddy in standard definition.

Matthew: Optical and CG effects all looked good. The space battles were cool and dynamic, and both morphic effects were good for the time, and certainly don't pull us out of the story. Two minor notes - the Jem'Hadar receive their white tubules after having black ones last episode, and the new combadge debuts here.

Kevin: The battle sequences are great. The "gatling" phaser, for lack of a better term looks gorgeous and the battles themselves were really well done. This also had some pretty awesome planet work as well. I liked the communications relay, too.

Conclusion

Matthew: The excitement level and the general lack of crippling flaws would easily put this in 3 territory, but I think the good guest cast and the stelllar production values let this one squeak into 4 territory. It's a great start to the season, and hopefully things continue in this vein, instead of petering out like the last two seasons did to differing extents.

Kevin: I agree with the 4. The episode is above average, but I don't think there's anything here that reaches for the 5. I was very entertained all the way through and I am really looking forward to the next episode. That makes a total of 8 from us.

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