Thursday, December 6, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: The Circle

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
"The Circle"
Airdate: October 3, 1993
21 of 173 produced
21 of 173 aired


Kira has been arbitrarily reassigned. The Circle grows in power with no seeming way to stop them. How can Sisko keep Bajor from tumbling into civil war without violating the Prime Directive? Stayed tuned for the ongoing story of Deep Space Nine, Season 2.

We can't let him into the War Room... he'll see the big board!


Kevin: This episode is a bit of a slower burn than the previous one, but overall, I quite like it. There's plenty of character moments alternating with the investigation/intrigue scenes regarding the growing threat of the Circle. If I had one overarching complaint, it's that the character of Li Nalas kind of disappears. For all the effort expended getting him last episode, he doesn't have much to do, beyond a reasonably decent scene trying to stall the Kressari. I would have liked to see him more worked into the plot.

Matthew: I agree on Li, but overall I like this story more than the previous. I think there is less narrative housekeeping and more "plot thickening" as it were. I think everything progressed really nicely from Kira's departure, Jaro's machinations, up to the evacuation of the station. There were a lot of nice, evocative scenes that built the story in an economical but evocative way. I particularly liked the sound of guns in the distance, Sisko's meeting with General Krim, and Quark's craven evaluation of his situation on the station.

Kevin: The political.investigation scenes were fun, and I think carried the energy of the previous episodes. The conversation with Odo's old friend and Quark's warning were good. I liked the scene between Krim and Sisko. Both characters were clearly sizing each other up and it kept an otherwise talky scene from stalling. The scene with Jaro in the caves with Kira is pretty creepy as well. Combined, there was enough going on, but with enough focus to keep things interesting but not disjointed for me. The last scene with Vedek Winn was low-key enough to avoid melodrama, but tied together nicely all the politics we've been getting since the end of season 1.

Matthew: Yeah, that particular scene was written well, because it quickly gave us the details of the relationship between the Kai and the government, really effectively told us what kinds of people would vie for each type of position, and developed the particular characters of Winn and Jaro. One Jaro scene that didn't work perfectly was the exchange with Sisko over The Ambassador from Minocoy or whatever the hell he was on about. It read like a joke that neither character got, including the one telling it. It's really the one clunker in the whole show.

Kevin: I have to say, I have never been a big fan of the Orb scenes. While restraining themselves from fisheye lenses, they pretty much indulge in all the tropes of dream sequences. The imagery in attempt to be prophetic or metaphorical just reads as leaden and unengaging. I would have liked over the course of the series if we got a clearer sense of what an orb experience was and why the Prophets sent them. Here, it seemed to serve only the purpose of setting up a Kira/Barreil relationship, and I thought the scene in the garden did that fine on its own. The dialogue was cute and it was nice to see Kira visibly force herself to relax.

Matthew: I agree on the orb scene itself, but not on the context. When Kira said that she had been dreaming of this all her life, I thought it really made the Bajoran religion, and her faith, seem more real. I agree that the vision itself was pretty hackneyed. I think some more creative writing could have given us something more mysterious and interesting - maybe Kai Opaka suggesting things obliquely to Kira?

Kevin: The Night at the Opera scene in Kira's quarters was some excellent work by everyone involved, and really funny as a result. Kira's rapid fire answers were really good. I also liked that everyone had the reaction they should have. O'Brien understands transfers are part of the life they lead and is saying an earnest goodbye, Dax is continuing her transition into Fun Dax and they make small talk about skin care products, Bashir is clearly hoping for a goodbye shag, even if he won't say it, and Odo is overtly annoyed by bureaucracy. The source of the humor is everyone being in character rather than abandoning it for the sake of a joke.

Matthew: This scene is exactly what was missing from Season One overall - scenes of friendship that make us care about the characters, but aren't inconsequential time-fillers. The plot still advances, and we don't get that sinking "pointless C story" feeling that so permeated the last season.


Kevin: I thought the main cast did a good job. Everyone was hilarious in the scene in Kira's quarters, and I read Nana Visitor's scenes in the monastery as really evidencing the personal growth that started in episodes like "Battle Lines." The conversation about her art skills was really nice for me, and while possibly the slowest of slow builds, I thought she had good chemistry with Philip Anglim's Bareil.

Matthew: Again, I think Nana Visitor is carrying most of the luggage when it comes to Kira/Bareill. He just needs to pep it up when he's being all "wise." Slow doesn't equate with deep. He was much better when jousting with Winn over decorum and Kira's presence.

Kevin: Stephen Macht, who apparently was up for the part of Captain Picard back in 1987, has a great voice and a great presence. He really seemed like an able tactician, but not a two-dimensional villain. His acting job alone helps propel the non-fatally boring version of Bajoran politics we've been seeing this season.

Matthew: I thought he was great, and I wished he had gotten more to do in this episode, perhaps playing both sides, or keeping his intentions unknown. Not only did he not seem like a villain, he really projected a certain heroic resolve and quiet competence. I don't know how I might have felt about him as Captain Picard, but I wish he had gotten more to do in any series.

Kevin: Frank Langella did another awesome job, becoming quietly, but still extremely menacing in the interrogation scenes. His scenes with Louise Fletcher were great too. She also turned in another good performance, this time aided by a better script. She read like an actual politically motivated/capable church official, like the evil Cardinal in a costume drama. Overall, I really have no complaints.

Matthew: I really thought they were going to do the nasty. Which says a lot about their chemistry in the scene. The way they play this makes the eventual payoff next episode all the more interesting.

Production Values

Kevin: The monastery is nice and green, and the cave is very cave like. Beyond that, there aren't a ton of other locations. The Kressari cargo bay was pretty generic. I did like the room on Bajor with the view of the spires behind Winn. Nice detailing and architecture.

Matthew: There were a number of matte paintings in backgrounds that really impressed me and made me feel like Bajor was a real place. I'm not saying the effects impressed me, and I could tell to some degree that they were artificially inserted into compositions. It was the effort that impressed me, the desire on the parts of the creators to really create a backdrop for the action that seemed real. In the absence of expesnive sets and lots of extras (I don't know that we'll ever really get a look at Bajoran street life), this sort of thing goes a long way. I liked the status map that General Krim was consulting, and I wish more extras had been in the scene.

Kevin: The master shot for the Night at the Opera scene in Kira's quarters was done in one take. Close up shots were obviously done in separate takes, but it's a nice accomplishment by all involved that such a wordy, high energy, precision scene was accomplished in one go. It really helped preserve the energy in the dialogue.


Kevin: This gets another 4 from me. The disappearance of Li Nalas is troubling, but overall, we get another well paced, energetic look at Bajoran politics that leaves me wanting to see what happens next.

Matthew: Definitely a 4 from me. There's an energy to the whole episode that has me excited for the conclusion. Solid performances, good production, and good tension make for a very pleasant stew of an episode. In some ways, I think this episode is more exciting and interesting because of Li Nalas receding from the spotlight, not in spite of it - this story focuses on characters we already know. That makes our total an 8.

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