"A Time to Stand"
Airdate: September 29, 1997
123 of 173 produced
123 of 173 aired
The war with the Dominion continues three months after the loss of DS9, and things do not seem to be going well for the Federation. On the re-occupied Terok Nor, Kira and Odo navigate the delicate political balance to keep Bajor safe until Starfleet can reclaim the station. Meanwhile, Sisko and the rest of his crew embark and a dangerous but vital mission for the war effort.
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Kevin: This episode has a lot of things to do and, by and large, I think it succeeds in doing them. First, it has to catch us up on all the characters. Check and double check. If anything, the one weak spot of this episode is that it spends to much time on too many stories, and while it sets up the opening arc of the season well, it does make this episode a little less strong as a single serving of television. That said, I found all of the sub parts interesting. In order for the war arc to work, it can't just be good vs. evil. Real war is more complex and the choices more nuanced, and particularly on the station, the amount of fleshing out we get is great,
Matthew: Yeah, for once, in an interesting inversion, it's the station-bound story that works better than the mobile story. I suppose this is because almost all of the truly interesting characters are on the station. Seeing Weyoun and Dukat jockey for position, and Quark adjust to a new government, is just more interesting than watching Sisko get a headache and Bashir critique military strategy with some sort of genetic authority. I know that there is much more and better to come for the war campaign stuff, it just wasn't a hugely satisfying story within the confines of this episode.
Kevin: The other thing the show has to do is set the tone for the coming season. I think it does a lot of that work in the opening scene. "Now the continuation..." is something we haven't heard since Season 2's opening arc, and it's a signal that a bigger story is happening. Then pairing the closing shot of season 5 of the huge fleet with the opening shot of the limping, damaged ships was great. It signals that my greatest fear was not going to come to pass, that they would retake the station in the first episode. The war is not going well for the Federation and the episode is kind of blunt about that. It's great seeing the characters really put through the wringer.
Matthew: I think having Dukat be in command of the station for an extended period is a masterstroke. It pays off previous occupation story lines without us having to actually... you know, be bored by them. I also really liked Weyoun's scene with Jake (!) in which he dances in diplomatic language around the fact that he is censoring his journalistic output for the purposes of spin doctoring. I found Captain Sisko's scene with his dad to be a bit too far in the realm of exposition, though. Hey dad, I'm calling you so you can yell at me and recapitulate plot points, OK?
Kevin: As for the main plots themselves, I prefer the stuff on DS9 a bit more since there is just so much energy in every scene. Between Dukat, Kira, Weyoun, and Odo, it's like watching a great one-act play about war. Every interaction just crackled. The Federation plot is good. I like the continuity nod, and it's fun to see the characters pushed further out of their comfort zone. This plot does suffer from being a bit too clever. Federation starships have names painted on the side, so you couldn't just steal a Defiant class ship and putter around the Federation undiscovered, so the presumption that would work on a Jem'Hadar ship annoys me a little, but overall, it was still fun to watch.
Matthew: The continuity nod is fine, but they even called out the problem with the plot in dialogue - why aren't we just sending our cloaked ship? You know, the one that's ultra heavily armed, has a viewscreen, and that we're familiar with? It just smacks of manufactured drama. As you say, credulity is strained by the notion that this would fool anyone, too. Shades of Uhura translating Klingon with a giant hardcover book...
Kevin: Everyone turned in at least a good performance. I liked a lot of Kira and Odo's scenes discussion strategy. Andrew Robinson is always a treat. I particularly liked the scene of them strategizing their way out of being trapped behind the security net. Everyone contributed and despite being a technobabble solution, it still sounded fundamentally plausible.
Matthew: Indeed, I never mind a solution which involves simply going faster than the problem. Nana Visitor was the best of the main cast for me, mainly of course because she got the most to do. Do I care about Bajoran security officers having weapons on the promenade? Nah. Do I care to watch whether Kira smashes Dukat in his big stupid spoony face? Hell yeah. I must say, I'm not a fan of the new genetically enhanced smugness Siddig is giving Dr. Bashir. I had just gotten used to the old smugness.
Kevin: The standouts as always are Alaimo and Combs. I could watch them loath each other all day long. I like the way Dukat's ego and Weyoun's conservative pragmatism clash. Particularly for Weyoun, the fact that even though they are essentially on a crusade for the Dominion's worldview, and certainly seem to be winning, Weyoun not acting like they've already won makes the Dominion way more terrifying since it seems unlikely they will just get lazy out of complacency.
Matthew: Ah, Combs and Alaimo. It really says something that they can make two alien character so interesting. Typically, Trek aliens have had a lot of work to do to be as interesting as the human characters. Here, they vastly outstrip the main cast in my level of interest. Seeing them joust with each other, and with Jake and Kira, respectively, is what makes this episode worth watching for me.
Kevin: There's a lot of little touches here that make me very happy. The use of the Regula One base with the Jem'Hadar ship sitting inside the dock was just awesome. It's one of the shots that is not absolutely critical to the story, but golly, is it fun to look at. Other highlights include the Centaur and the shot of the battered fleet at the opening of the episode.
Matthew: That station shot was super impressive. Both angles were, really. The view of personnel in the hangar was great, but then the exterior was superb. No matte lines, no graininess or fuzziness, perfect scale and shadow, just excellent. I agree on the fleet shots, too. What is trailing from the nacelles? Ah, who cares! Sparkles!
Kevin: A lot of stuff on the station was gangbusters, too. The Cardassian ships look like they fit with the architecture of the station, and the numerous ships in the background look great. On the topic of backgrounds, they really had a lot of Cardassian and Jem'Hadar extras in all the scenes. It was really fantastic.
Matthew: The extras really helped sell the theme of the episode - things are different, and this $#&* is for real.
Kevin: The only real complaint I have about this episode is that in its attempts to both catch us up and give us a sense of the scope of the war, the episode lacks a little internal cohesion. It's entertaining because of what's come before and after, but it's not the greatest self-contained story in the world, which even in a serialized story, a single episode has to be. Beyond that, this one was just buckets of entertaining, and a combination of the a general energy, some good acting and some great effects average out to a 4 for me.
Matthew: I think the Starfleet plot is pretty ho-hum. But as you say, the effects, the station plot, and the acting were quite good. I think this just squeaks into 4 territory for a total of 8.