Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: The Die is Cast

Deep Space Nine, Season 3
The Die is Cast
Airdate: May 1, 1995
66 of 173 produced
66 of 173 aired

Introduction

Odo and Garak find themselves embroiled in a rapidly escalating conflict between the Cardassians, the Romulans, and the Dominion. Garak must decide whether to follow the orders of his mentor, Enabran Tain, who wants him to torture Odo for information.

 But first, the tranya!
 



Writing

Matthew: As second parts of two part episodes go, this one is pretty great. It never bogs down into boringness or unsatisfying story execution, as some have in the past. The basic gist of the plot is pretty exciting. The secret police organizations of the Cardassians and the Romulans are pre-emptively striking the Dominion, unbeknownst to their governments at large, free of any oversight. That's got resonance for anyone who lived through the aughts in the USA. Especially nice was the fact that he Founders had infiltrated the cabal and pushed it in certain directions, in order to trap it. It shows that the writers here are willing to go the extra mile and really follow through on the implications of certain powers and abilities, something that previous series had not really done, probably in part to the prohibition against continuing story lines.

Kevin: Especially in the context of Deep Space Nine, we've talked alot about how "real" a political entity feels and how, often times, they can seem not really fleshed out, or that the plans are two complicated by half. Neither is a problem here. We have plans within plans within plans, and normally, those unravel under any scrutiny. Not so here. All the entities in play behaved as we have been led to expect they would behave and the plans all made sense. I do kind of question how the destruction of one fleet would destabilize both nations, but it's a small concern.

Matthew: This is the second major torture scene in Trek, and though it doesn't reach the diabolical level of the Picard/Madred faceoff, it shows us a lot about Garak. He really has been changed by his time on DS9, and he does regret torturing Odo. Nonetheless, he is still loyal enough to the Cardassians and to Enabran Tain to go through with it, even when he knows it is pointless, for the most part. The way Odo's response is written is good, too. I liked that he remained defiant and adversarial to Garak. But I really do kind of wonder how Garak could be taken back into the fold after such a transgression, similar to a previous story involving Quark. Why would Odo want to have breakfasts with him? I really didn't think Odo had found so much of a commonality with Garak through these two episodes.

Kevin: I wish the script had done a little more to explain Odo's newfound connection to Garak. Odo's worked for the Cardassians and had to make difficult choices, and marches to his own drummer, morally speaking, so I don't actually have a problem with Odo bonding with a fellow exile while overlooking Garak's actions, I just wish more of it had made it into the script. The torture scene itself was really well done. For Garak, there was just so much going on benath the surface, it was just great.

Matthew: I think it was less effective than it could have been to show Tain seeming to come unhinged. I would have preferred it if he had remained in control of all his faculties despite the disaster he helped bring about. I think that would make Garak's devotion to him more believable, too. I'm not saying it is fatal to the episode, since indeed it only comes very late. I just question it generally as a good idea. Machiavellian evil is more interesting to me than crazy.

Kevin: I didn't mind that as much. It was well acted, and fun to watch, but I do take your point. For me, the soft spot of the episode were the scenes on the Defiant. They were good filler, but filler all the same. I liked the look at Eddingtion's character and the conflict an officer must face when deciding whether or not to obey and order. I also liked the "I'll court martial you. Or promote you. Either way, you'll be in trouble." It both acknowledged that Sisko had violated orders, but still made it a piece with similar incidents in Star Trek history.

Acting

Matthew: Our two main Cardassians did a great job. Andrew Robinson showed a wonderful range in trying both to keep his mentor happy and trying to balance it with his new found friendship and caring for Odo. There were lots of interesting subtle notes as he was trying to convince Odo to share anything to stop the torture. He had great chemistry with Auberjonois throughout the episode. His obfuscation mixes really well with Odo's sardonic edge. Paul Dooley has great qualities for a character like Enabran Tain, hiding depths of cruelty and perversion within a seemingly nice exterior.

Kevin: I agree, obviously, and with Garak in particular. Without saying so, he really sold the idea that Garak had changed in his time on the station, and that he was genuinely uncomfortable with what he was doing. His scenes tacitly defending Mila and Odo from Tain felt very real, and Dooley nailed the manipulative response to make Garak jump for his approval. Given that all these scenes are done in innuendo, the actors really have to sell it for it to work, and they certainly do.
  
Matthew: Although I have been hard on some of his delivery of pain and such other kinds of emotional scenes before, I really dug Rene Auberjonois' performance, here. I think it's because he maintained the hard, nasty edge. I don't really empathize with Odo. He's too alien, perhaps. But I admire his gruffness, nastiness, and sarcasm pretty much all the time, so maintaining it here really works for me.

Kevin: Odo in pain this time really got to me the first time I saw it. He really seemed to be in agony, and for reasons I can't quite articulate, his acting choices were married well to the makeup choices. I don't know how you learned to act "drying out," but he did it well. On a lighter note, I loved the sparring between Odo and Garak in every other scene as well. It would have easy for Odo to slip into having nothing to do, but his challenging Garak kept him in the action well.

Matthew: The more I see of Kenneth Marshall in the Eddington role, the more I like him. He really portrays a great middle-rank career officer, who knows he's not destined for great things, but wants to do well nonetheless. The way he portrayed the conflict of betraying his fellow officers in following orders from an Admiral felt real to me. I wish they had kept this character around for longer than they did.


Kevin: I liked "career Eddington" much more than "Maquis Eddington," as I always felt that he chosen at random to be the Maquis infiltrator. Especially in concert with an upcoming scene in the season finale, he really sells the idea of a career officer who is not destined for the center chair.

Production Values

Matthew: The space battle scenes definitely rank among the best in the franchise. Now, the transparency effects they used to duplicate ships on screen made for less exciting explosions, since they weren't destroying real models for each ship. But the scale and the choreography of the battles was top notch.

Kevin: I distinctly remember thinking that "150" ships was the most I had ever heard described in one place in Star Trek. The Okudagram of the ships emerging from the nebula was great, and at no point did I not feel the scale they were trying to imply. The array of dead and dying ships lacks the quiet horror of Best of Both Worlds, but not its scope or its intensity.

Matthew: The Romulan ship was a pretty obvious redress of the Defiant. I get that they need to use existing sets in order to save budgets. But when we see the same bunk bed over and over, it gets to be a bit too obvious. The Odo disintegration scenes were quite good. The makeup was excellent and the various CG effects they did were good.

Kevin: All they need to do is put up a fake wall in front of the bunk beds. They are never going to be shelves and they are a dead giveaway. I agree fully on the Odo makeup. It looks like he was turning to leather, and far more effective than the melting effect they went for in "The Foresaken."

Conclusion

Matthew: This is snappy and entertaining, and has a lot of interesting psychodrama. I do think the sci-fi is still lacking, and it doesn't necessarily blow me away with any trenchant insights or character revelations. The performances almost to a person are above average. So this seems like a pretty obvious 4 on our scale.

Kevin: You certainly can't fault this episode for not delivering on the promise of the first part. They took all the buildup and really ran with it, and again, it was gripping start to finish. I agree with the four for a total of 8. Two eights in a row? I could get used to this.

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2 comments:

  1. The makeup job on Odo as he's flaking apart has stuck with me for a long, long time, much more than the melty one from "The Forsaken" ever did. They made his clothing flake, as well, since his clothing is part of him. That's something they didn't do in "The Forsaken"; I guess it hadn't occurred to them yet. And the bits of him that had flaked off rejoining the whole made the entire thing downright eerie.

    I always figured that the difference between melting and drying out was whether or not the failure to return to liquid was his choice or not. When he's holding himself together by force of will, he melts. This thing affects him differently, so he dries out.

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  2. I have never found the motive and genocidal ambitions of the Founders very convincing. I mean the whole rationale behind their desire to go to an intergalactic war seems ludicrous. So ok, a few thousand years ago a bunch of solids persecuted and killed them (boo fucking ho - you are not the only ones this happened too, you know) so they decide to breed a bunch of mindless soldiers and minions and go on an intergalactic genocidal war? Who the hell does that? That is way over the top. And then their assertion that people are intruding into the Gamma Quadrant. I mean, it is an ENTIRE QUADRANT.

    Plus I mean if they have the ability to turn lemurs into Vortas and create an entire breed of soldiers who believe them to be gods, couldnt they also have come up with something equally ingenious to expedite the war and bring their so called "order" to the rest of the galaxy? Why resort of ordinary war and mas murder?

    What do you call it when you create drama where there is none? Because this is exactly how this entire Dominion arc feels. Dont get me wrong, I do love the direction the show took and it is pretty awesome once you take the Dominion war as a given, but I wish the writers had come up with a more convincing rationale for the Dominion's obsession with solids and destroying them and the ensuing war because what they served us felt pretty luke warm.

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