Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: Treachery, Faith and the Great River

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlDeep Space Nine, Season 7
"Treachery, Faith and the Great River"
Airdate: November 4, 1998
154 of 173 produced
154 of 173 aired

Introduction

Odo is lured to an alien moon with the promise of war intelligence, but gets more than he bargained for when he finds Weyoun, seeking to defect.


 That's a spicy-a meat-a-ball (pepperoni)!



Writing

Matthew: OK, so after I threw up in my mouth just a little bit with the Odo-Kira intro, the A plot went into full swing. It certainly has a nice hook for long time fans - Weyoun wants to defect in order to serve Odo, and it is well known that any Weyoun is good Weyoun. The ins and outs of this plot are handled well. Weyoun has an interesting motivation - his latest clone develops distrust in the Founders' plans for the Alpha Quadrant, turning to Odo as an alternative Founder who could usher in an era of cooperation and reduced hostility. I kind of wish Odo had taken Weyoun up on the plan and become the emperor of the Dominion. I guess they felt it would be too far to go. Either way, Weyoun's journey was pretty good, with is faith being rewarded by Odo's blessing, in a poignant death scene.

Kevin: Despite not liking their relationship per se, I kind of appreciate the attempt to show in a TV-PG way how a relationship with a changeling might be different. Moving on...

The Weyoun story is great. They managed to come up with a plausible enough reason for him to defect and gave it an interesting shape. He's not opposed to the Dominion per se, he thinks it's going in the wrong direction. Betraying something to save it is much more interesting than betraying it for personal gain. (See: Garak this season.) I really enjoyed the dynamics between Damar and the current Weyoun. The back and forth was really strong, particularly because Damar is right. Semantics about godhood aside, Weyoun's successful defection would be the literal end of the war. There would be no way to alter enough plans and codes and stuff to make his information worthless. One of my favorite moments in the episode is watching Weyoun do the gymnastics to get to "Odo doesn't even consider himself a Founder." The best kinds of conflict are the ones where both sides are at least internally legitimate to the character and there is no resolution that serves them both. There's a fun duality to the idea that both Weyouns are taking actions that on paper are gross betrayals of the Founders but taken with the subjective belief it's for a greater good.

Matthew: The B story starts out a bit lame (seriously, the Chief doesn't understand glad-handing between enlisted men to receive priority?) but quickly becomes a reasonably entertaining little interlude. The best thing about it is that it doesn't derail or suck too much time away from the A plot. The second best thing is the nice set of interactions between O'Brien and Nog, especially Nog's explication of the Great Material Continuum (one which would make a libertarian develop some tightness in his jeans). This scene makes the Ferengi more sympathetic than they've ever been, because it puts a sensible spin on their behavior, something besides naked avarice.

Kevin: It veered a little too close to slapstick in a few places, but by keeping the main focus on Nog, the story stayed interesting. I think what I liked the most was the idea that Nog became a better officer in finding a way to adapt his belief system rather than abandon it. I would also point out that Nog's barter system works well here because the harm they are seeking to prevent is Sisko's annoyance, not homelessness, and Nog was successful in part because none of the other players refused to deal with a Ferengi. So I appreciate the concise theoretical explanation of the free market, but as a good FDR Democrat, want to point out it worked because it was safely nestled inside the loving arms of the Federation's socialist dream state. More than anything, shifting the Ferengi's priority from mere acquisition to a broader sense of having succeeded at something definitely gives them shading that way back in The Last Outpost that they lacked. My only regret is not getting to Quark expound on the subject.

Matthew: The plot work that needs to be done in the A story is the Founder Disease stuff. I didn't really get why the Founder would walk around looking shriveled, since her mystique is key to the Founders' holding worlds in their thrall. I did like how this plot thread would leave Odo alone again, after such a twisting journey from drifting in space to lab experiment to lonely lawman to estranged member of a master race. All told, it didn't amount to much here, and it's clear that this is just setup for later stories.

Kevin:
The easy fix was having Damar walk in unexpectedly or something, but overall, it did drip of being the larger plot, but since the episode kept the impact largely focused on Odo's reaction, it made it work inside this episode.

Acting

Matthew: Rene Auberjonois gets a nice script here, allowing him to be romantic with Kira, joust with Weyoun, and wrestle with his own fears of abandonment and discomfort with his status as a Founder. Unlike some Odo episodes, he never goes too far in any of these, and it's one of his most likable performances as a result. Jeffrey Combs plays off of him superbly. I mean, what more is there to say? Combs is a master of the inflection, the slight head movement, the arch line reading that just makes his whole presence delightful. But he also gets to portray some dramatic elements, too, with the character's ideology driving the character's actions. He meshes with the excellent Casey Biggs well, too.

Kevin: Combs has to carry two of the three main scenes in the episode, while making sure they are similar but still distinct people. Watching Weyoun argue with himself was just inspired. I agree that Auberjonois was in the sweet spot as well. Everything simmered below the surface well. I want to make a super cut of all of Damar's scenes up to when he rebels and I bet it's probably less than a full episode spread out over four seasons, but you never know that from his performance. Every single scene, his is the star of "Damar," a gripping AMC series about a tragic anti-hero. We've griped a little about how it's always Weyoun and Damar trapped in that one room for their scenes, but when you get material like this from them, who needs sets?

Matthew: Aron Eisenberg gets a fun role that allows him to make Nog something more than a caricature. He sells his "material continuum" scene quite well, and makes me believe him, and want to believe in the concept, too. Colm Meaney is adequate, but didn't get a ton to work with besides "annoyed" and "harried."

Kevin: Eisenberg has done a great job of giving Nog an arc from petulant teenager to overeager cadet to competent colleague. I would not have expected it back in season one, but his is really one of the most satisfying and Star Trek-y arcs in the franchise.

Production Values

Matthew: Nineties CGI is what it is. But you know what never gets dated? Pacing, design, and choreography. The space battle sequences really worked nicely. I really liked the ice asteroids, and the runabout hiding inside them. No matter how dated this or that texture is, well executed visuals stand the test of time.

Kevin: There was definitely a firm hand at the art behind the scenes. There is actual cinematography here, and it's was interesting to watch, so a few textures that are less than scintillating now is no big deal.

Matthew: The Odo "massage" was just so-so looking. The strangely well-lit cave makes an appearance here as well. For the most part, we got runabout interior scenes. The runabout is a nice interior, but I wish some of the sets from TNG Season 7 were still around, as they would have added to various interactions between Odo and Weyoun.

Kevin: The interior of the asteroid was what got me. Couldn't the Jem'Hadar just scan for floodlights?

Conclusion

Matthew:
Since both A and B stories are entertaining, they don't need to relate any more than they do here. The character stories on offer here were interesting, and the story had its exciting moments. Some nice acting and production values bump this up to a 4 for me. I think a 5 is too far, because the story lacks some greater ambition - making Odo Dominion Emperor would have done it.

Kevin: The episode has an interesting and brisk A and B story. The acting is top notch all around, and I could watch Weyoun debate himself all day long. I agree fully with the four, for a total of 8.

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