Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Deep Space Nine, Season 4: Body Parts

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.html
Deep Space Nine, Season 4
"Body Parts"
Airdate: June 10, 1996
95 of 173 produced
95 of 173 aired

Introduction

Keiko O'Brien suffers an injury that necessitates the transplant of her fetus to Major Kira. Meanwhile, Quark suffers with the knowledge of his impending death, and must decide how to wind up his affairs.
 Quark tries out a new asphyxiation program in the holosuite.



Writing

Matthew: Of the poorly matched A and B stories in DS9, this is a REALLY artificial marriage. So I guess as episodes go, before getting to each story individually, it should be remarked on. How much does it hamstring an episode? I am coming around to the school of thought that two unrelated stories aren't necessarily bad. But I still hold to the thought that he act of doing it makes it much more likely that one or both will suffer from lack of development. I wish this had been a Quark episode. I'll get to why below.

Kevin: Given the more diverse backgrounds of this cast than, say, TNG or VOY, I think finding an A and B plot that go together may be a bit harder. Why would Quark's day necessarily intersect the command crew all the time? I have come around to the idea that the best episodes with two threads are the ones that interweave them well, but I think a solid, even good episode, can just tell two stories in tandem, particularly if it avoids the problem, like you say of underdeveloping one story, ideally using the lighter one to pace the other.

Matthew: O'Brien's initial discussion in the teaser is way too on the nose, since indeed his wife is a party to a disaster.  What is the point of the baby plot besides servicing an actor issue (i.e. Nana Visitor's pregnancy)? No real sci-fi or even character development seems to occur. No points about surrogacy are made, no real character growth occurs. The O'Briens don't change (besides adding another experience to their list of DS9 injuries), nor does Kira as far as I can tell. Andre Bormanis pointed out in his interview with us that fetal transplant was something that current doctors say is impossible. The mechanics of that might have been interesting. We get nothing. Apparently, this impossible procedure can be done in a runabout, and a damaged one at that.

Kevin: I will agree insofar as the confines of this episode go. I think next seasons's episodes on the O'Brien's and Kira actually gets into some pretty interesting stuff, but I will leave that for the episode when we get to it. I like the idea, but agree, a single comment by Keiko about not wanting to make an appointment to see her child doesn't quite seem like enough of a discussion. I think this could have been a fun bottle show in the runabout. What if Kira were initially reluctant? While Kira would certainly have every right to refuse altering her life so dramatically, would she really have been able to in the confines of the runabout? There's some more obvious meat on this bone and I agree they should have developed it here. I will say I am happy, overall they did it. Especially given that it's another cast member's child, it almost seems unfair that one would be restricted to heavy coats and carrying around a lot of books for no reason. I think they actually have some fun and interesting episodes seeing the person Kira is conflict with what being pregnant means, so even if the foundation is an obvious cheat for the staff, in the end I am glad they did it.

Matthew: The Quark story is much more consequential in terms of character development, showing Quark breaking from the values he thought he had subscribed to. I think, had it been given more time and more scenes, it could have been interesting to see him slowly realize that he isn't as culturally Ferengi as he thought. Still, it's not a very interesting plot, given how little the viewer would actually believe was at at stake. I never once worried that Quark would die. I found the coda pretty schmaltzy, but I was glad Quark didn't have some sort of Jimmy Stewart "It's a Wonderful Life" moment.The whole episode should have been about this and they should have shot Kira from the chest up.

Kevin: I like the glimpses of Ferengi culture we get, that despite their espousal of the free market, there are huge implicit and explicit regulations governing how they interact. It's the Ferengi equivalent of corrupt power-hungry but somehow honor-obsessed Klingons. I love a society riddled with contradictions. This could have been a fun place to really flesh out the Ferengi ethos. In American, and as far as I know, most terrestrial laws, a contract that is "unconscionable" is unenforceable. So either Ferengi law doesn't have such an out, or it doesn't view Quark having to commit suicide to fulfill the contract as something that shock their consciences. I think it would have been fun to really dig into that world view. My only problem is that I can't believe a man as savvy as Quark wouldn't hedge his bet with a "when I die" or "if and when I die" clause. It makes the conflict a tad artificial.

Acting


Matthew: Armin Shimerman is funny and interesting in this role. I believed his ambivalence and confusion, and I wanted more of it. He played well off of Max Grodenchik as Rom, and I especially liked Grodenchik as the first Nagus. Jeffrey Combs was fine as Brunt, but now that I've seen him as Weyoun, I just kind of want Weyoun back.

Kevin: I agree on Grodenchik as the Nagus. The "Suggestions of Acquistion" line always kills me. I also loved the almost surreal comedy with Garak. Robinsion approached the situation with the precise form of detached bemusement that I really think Garak would and it gave all their scene some great macabre humor.

Matthew: The pregnancy story had plenty of "nice" acting. Everyone was nice. No one did anything that kept my interest, however.

Kevin: I have to disagree here. Particularly in the scene alone in their quarters, I think both Chao and Meany did a great job of feeling like normal people in an extraordinary situation. Other actors might have gone right for shouting or crying, but they both gave it a confused, slightly shell-shocked spin that made it quiet and affecting. I always identify with the O'Briens, which is of course the point, and continue to do so here. I'll also say I'm glad Shouty Kira is a distant memory. Visitor too played everything nicely and simply as well.

Production Values

Matthew: This was a bottle show. We got one visual effect, of the runabout being damaged. That looked pretty nice. Otherwise, there wasn't a whole lot going on here. I liked the dream sequence in the Divine Treasury, but it didn't blow my mind or anything.

Kevin: I agree but will add I have always enjoyed Ferengi architecture and interior design. It's a fine line between "supposed to be tacky" and "so tacky I don't actually want to look at it," and the design team always stays inside the line.

Conclusion:

Matthew: The Quark story taken as-is was a pretty prototypical 3. But the pregnancy story did absolutely nothing for me and dragged down the episode as a whole. Acting and Production Values were simply adequate. So I've got to go with a 2.

Kevin: I think this is a solid three. The pregnancy story was a concession to real world events, so it probably lacks the narrative development that would have happened if the writers came up with it on their own. That being said, I think a few episodes down the line really have some fun with it, and the actors themselves are all at least competent that it doesn't bother me. The Quark stuff is fun if only for the opportunity to give Shimerman and Combs another opportunity to take center stage. That makes a total of 5 from us.

2 comments:

  1. OMG, how do you give this a 5? This is such a good episode. Come on. "Brunt took the shirt off my back and I am supposed to give it to him in the morning" Or "I dont exploit and cheat people at random, I do it according to a very specific set of rules" This is funny and smart stuff.

    The comedy in this episode is great just as the comedy in most of the Quark episodes are. I think I mentioned before that as a kid i never used to like the episodes with Quark but that the second time around I have really come to appreciate them (and him) and they are some of the best episodes ever.

    And i disagree that the A and B stories dont intersect. This episode is called Body Parts and on the one hand you have Quark who thinks he is dying and sells his body parts to Brunt while finding out he is not dying after all, but still has to sell or else ruin his life for having broken a contract and on the other hand you have the O'Briens essentially borrowing Kira's womb as an incubator for their fetus and start treating her as family and consider her valuable for that reason alone. That is enough of a connection if you ask me. I dont think A and B stories must always inter-relate on some metaphysical level in order for the show to be great or a 10.

    I dont know if this was intentional, but i do find it interesting that this episode just validates the same old bullshit anti choice agenda and sentiments, namely that of people and a society that value fetuses more than the people carrying them. And i somehow found it very uncomfortable watching Keiko and Miles be nice to Kira and value her and invite her to their home not because she is Nerys or because they value HER as a person but because Keiko wants the fetus incubator to be close to her when she wakes up in the am.

    Never mind the inconvenience they put her through by asking her to basically give her body away like that, but the care they express is ultimately not even for her as a person but for their unborn child. They dont make her a pretty room, invite her to live them and have Molly call her aunt because of her or her comfort and convenience, but because of the fetus she was nice enough to carry to term for them. When they say "Welcome to your new home" and Nerys replies, kinda to herself mostly "at least until the baby is born" it really broke my heart. it was like she KNEW that all this warmy touchy welcomy stuff was only extended to her cause she was expecting their baby and that once the baby was out, she would be too. There was a sadness to how she said it that was very telling.

    Again, I dont know if this was intended but I dont think many people take notice of it from that angle. They think what a great peoples the O'Briens are when in reality i think they are just using her and their sincerity feels a bit forced to me, especially coming from Keiko. it was very off putting and not endearing to me at all.

    That said, this episode was great on so many levels and i enjoy the character development of Quark, especially vis a vis the folks on the station. The final scene where they all pitch in and bring him equipment, supplies and furniture for his bar after Brunt liquidated it all was very touching. I love that depsite all their complaints about Quark when it comes down to it, they come through for him and that as a result and thus over the years, Quark has became more than just the greedy Ferengi bartender. This was a real moment of camaraderie and friendship (the kind i am always so fond of from the Voyager crew) to me and truly one of those important moments on the show. There is real friendship there. I dont mind there was no sci fi there. Not every episodes needs that to be good. You need to flesh out people, characters and scenarios too to create believable and relate-able characters who inhabit their roles.

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