Thursday, August 7, 2014

Deep Space Nine, Season 5: The Darkness and the Light
Deep Space Nine, Season 5
"The Darkness and the Light"
Airdate: January 6, 1997
107 of 173 aired
107 of 173 produced


Major Kira finds herself and her baby placed in mortal danger when someone from her past begins killing off members of her former resistance cell.

 Unfortunately for us, he succeeds in killing the last two interesting Bajorans.


Kevin: I personally like this episode a lot. I think the drama builds well, and it feels like there are actually stakes for Kira. The murders themselves are pretty creepy, especially the transporter one. I would say that it does come fairly close to literally incredible that a former butler would have the know-how and resources to pull all this off, but I'll get to that in a second. Right up until Kira leaves the station, I think the episode is pretty solid. I think bring back Lupaza and Farrell was a good idea since I liked them last time and it's good continuity. It does make the absence of even a mention of Shakaar himself a bit odd. The scene in the Infirmary where Kira is telling the story of how she got her earring was really well done. I think the episode also did a good job of balancing the two competing interests of Kira having to prioritize the safety of the O'Briens' baby with her desire to protect or avenge her friends. The purposefully taunting nature of the killer helped bridge that decision making process for me. I actually think that's where the episode could have gone with a little more interest than the ending we got. The O'Briens, both of them, should be pretty pissed at her. Kira, on the other hand, given our knowledge of her personality, wouldn't sit idly by while her friends were being murdered, and Miles, given his past should be able to at least understand if not agree with her, and nothing makes drama like two people with legitimate but irreconcilable points of view clashing.

Matthew: I am not averse to a murder mystery plot in Trek. I enjoyed "A Matter of Perspective" quite a bit, and "Court Martial," too. But a murder mystery, for me, has to avoid too many "Oh, come ON" moments for me to enjoy it. Now, since you are saving the incredibility of the killer for later, I will, too. But Kira herself is responsible for several of them herself. It was as though the writers pitched a story for her but then had to shoehorn in the pregnancy thing at the last minute, as an afterthought. When she started Trek-Fu-ing fully grown men, security personnel at that, and they went down, I just sort of mentally checked out of the Kira end of this show. She herself agrees with O'Brien that her pregnancy is a higher obligation than these murders. Then she rampages down a corridor towards a vacuum-exposed room, physically fighting her own personnel? Then she's all concerned again in the infirmary when she learns she has TORN HER PLACENTA just by walking down a corridor. Then she steals a runabout and has a showdown with the killer? Oh, come ON. As someone who has spent 18 months now with an actual pregnant person, I just could not get over it to the point where I could enjoy the story again. Had they just made her track the killer, come what may, I could have probably stayed on board. But having her vacillate? Just bad writing. Not mentioning Shakaar at all actually points to what would have made this episode better: instead of some priest, some chick, and some dude who we only see a photo of, why not make this an assassination plot that Kira has the key to solving? I could totally see this working as "In The Line of Fire," a lone nut (we'll get there) planning revenge, and that actually seeming important enough to override her maternal instincts. Maybe O'Brien could have helped instead of sitting idly by like a stupid idiot while his son is put in mortal danger by an intermittently careless woman and a murderously insane person.
Kevin: Once Kira leaves the station to hunt for the killer, the episode does fall apart. How did Odo find out about this guy? How does the crazy loner have access to this technology and information? I think they also missed an opportunity to really suss out the ethics of the Resistance. He was just a civilian who almost certainly had no say in his governments actions, but does that absolve him? Does it make him an unacceptable target? They pay lip service to the debate, but I think there had to be a way to drive that home in a more entertaining way. And that last line, to this day, continues to make no sense to me. They were trying to shoehorn in the title reference and it was a swing and a miss.

Matthew: Nope, sorry, the assassin's modus operandi was completely incredible from the outset.  We're talking bad Batman villain-level incredulity. Setting aside the technical prowess required to operate all this machinery we've never heard of before (or since), how did he know that his female victim would be transporting onto a Federation runabout that Kira herself had arranged for that day, in enough time to plant some kind of black market subcutaneous device on her, from light years distant? Oh, come ON. How could he hack DS9's computer system both deeply enough to cobble together messages using Kira's voice, as well as allowing him to place real time recordings of those voices directly into Kira's view, in real time, from light years away? How could he know that Lupaza and Furel, who had stowed away on board the station in complete secrecy, were in a particular room at a particular time, but not with Kira? Yes, yes, a "hunter probe," one that is so advances that the station sensors, which can detect flea farts at twenty light years, miss it... but how the hell did he even know where to send this probe? Come to think of it, how in the hell did he know what each individual's part in the bombing that scarred him was? Did he interview them surreptitiously? Oh, come ON. And yeah, then we get to the fact that a laundry worker somehow figured all this out in addition to mastering technology that can defeat the height of Federation security know-how.

Kevin: I will add that lastly, again right up until the moment when Kira beams out, there is a definite and well-paced building of tension. The cryptic messages, the increasing body count, killing off likable recurring characters, etc. I remember watching this the first time, and still feel it on subsequent viewings, that this was a taut and interesting outing, and scenes like the one of Kira in the Infirmary really sold its sense of consequence. The resolution feels like they painted themselves into a corner and had to wrap up the mystery they created and that's where the episode falters, but the set, I still feel, is pretty good. I enjoyed most of the actual mechanics of the mystery solving, like Nog listening to the recorded voices. Though, the dialog about the herbs keeping Kira awake couldn't have been more telegraphed if they tried.

Matthew: Silaran Prin's faux-poetic dialogue was annoying. I enjoyed their ultimate confrontation besides that, though. I would have liked it to last a lot longer, to learn more about Silaran's thinking (not to mention his abilities). But then, why did he agree to the sedative that Kira asked for? He is punishing her for having no compassion. Why did he turn the restraining field off at all? Indeed, why did he have one in the first place, if all of his killing was to take place remotely? And, as you say above, the last line Kira delivers is utterly inane. I'll chalk it up to a combo of Makara Root and sedatives (which doesn't hurt the fetus?).


Kevin: I think Visitor did a good job with a lot of material. She does a much better job with "barely restrained" emotion that completely unrestrained emotion, and I think the scene in the Infirmary from an acting standpoint is gangbusters. I also liked her conversations with O'Brien and Odo.

Matthew: All of the faults for me here are with writing. Visitor did a fine job (although her Bajoran name pronunciations seemed to fluctuate, especially on "Latha"). Her monologue in the infirmary was quite good and really put me there in the scene she described.

Kevin: Farrel and Lupaza were affably likeable as the script calls for. Beyond Kira herself though, there wasn't a lot of acting to do by either the guest or main cast. I think it may be more the writing and the ten pounds of make up, but I wasn't a fan of Prin. It was a bit two-dimensionally nutty, and thus it undercut a lot of what I think the writers were going for in terms of portraying him as at least internally feeling like he is righting a legitimate wrong.

Matthew: I actually liked Randy Oglesby (who would later play a similarly conflicted Degra on Enterprise) quite a bit when he wasn't prattling on in iambic pentameter or whatever. William Lucking and Diane Salinger were quite good, and it was stupid to have killed their characters after so little screen time.  They should have taken Kira on a journey to find the killer (with O'Brien).

Production Values

Kevin: The off-station sets were okay overall. The cave in the teaser was solid if uninspired. I found Prin's evil trailer a little underdone. I remember thinking it reminded me of the idea of the Botany Bay set in Wrath of Khan, but the overly dramatic overhead lighting ran as too dark in standard definition. Maybe the (hopefully) eventual Blu-Ray edition will look better.

Matthew: I really liked the animated matte (CGI?) on the DMZ planet. I agree that the trailer was too dark.  It just didn't lend itself to exciting television. DS9 has had a big problem with overly dark lighting schemes throughout.

Kevin: The Phantom of the Opera makeup was a tad heavy for my tastes. I think the transporter effect in the runabout was well done and the corpse prop gave me nightmares.


Kevin: In the balance the tension of the buildup and the ballsiness they gave to the various deaths coupled with Visitor's acting nudge this into a 4 for me. The climax is a miss certainly, but I really love watching this episode.

Matthew: This story's unreasonable demands on my credulity have me leaning towards a 2. It ducked or short-shrifted the most interesting questions (Kira's commitment to the baby, Kira's belief that her terrorism was justified) and instead wasted time on increasingly pointless and unbelievable plot mechanics. I was mildly interested in the murder plot until it went off the rails. The performances kept me from pressing stop on my DVD. Nonetheless, I just can't turn my brain off while watching this, so I think the acting fails to surmount the stink of two-ness that permeates the script. That makes our total a 6.

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