Friday, June 28, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: Explorers

Deep Space Nine, Season 3
Airdate: May 8, 1995
67of 173 produced
67 of 173 aired


Sisko returns from a trip to Bajor with the hand drawn plans of an ancient Bajoran spaceship, one that Bajoran legend holds was able to make it all the way to Cardassia. Sisko wants to try and build the ship to prove it's possible. Meanwhile, an unpleasant reminder from Bashir's past arrives on the station.
Next time.... on Star Trek: Completely Superfluous Side Characters....


Kevin: Well, you can't fault the episode for not having a science fiction concept. The idea of a solar sail ship has been done in Star Trek before and it's nice that we actually get to see it this time. I also enjoy the discussion of the issues facing space travelers like oxygen or fuel or gravity. I do wish they had gone a little further on the science itself, like how to get the ship into space without a chemically propelled rocket or how to deal with the ambient radiation in outer space. The most egregious problem from a science fiction standpoint would be, even if I accept that it is possible for a body to achieve warp speed without a warp engine, that the occupants will not be killed. I don't think I've ever seen anyone praying to the Prophets for inertial dampeners.

Matthew: I agree that the concept is pretty strong, sort of a space age Kon-Tiki story. I also agree that the hardships of such a journey were undersold. I think radiation resistance might be explained by future technology. But as a space science fan, I'd like it to be addressed on screen. An episode like ENT "Shuttlepod One" was all the better for going into detailed space peril. It would also have been a fun way to talk about how advanced the ancient Bajorans were. I also would have liked for the sails themselves to be about 100 times as big, in keeping with the actual theory. I think the overall plot was a bit too easy, too. Wouldn't someone prior to this have discovered a warp speed eddy between Bajor and Cardassia?

Kevin: I also like the character development in this episode a lot. Whatever other faults you could find with the Jake character, his relationship with his father is certainly not one of them. I like the exploration of what Jake would do with his life, and they did call back to Jake's previous writing experience in setting up this as a career field. That was nice and good use of continuity. It was also nice to see the relationship between Sisko and his father maturing, where he was more comfortable with telling his father what he really wanted to do with his life. There's a moment when teenagers stop wanting to avoid their parents and actually form adult relationships and its a nice moment depicted on the show.

Matthew: The best part for me is the glimpse, however brief, of life in the 24th century. Sisko "uses up a month worth of transporter credits" to go home every night for dinner. Jake considers deferring admission for a year from his "fellowship." What do these facts tell us about the world? Damned if I know, but they're interesting. Anyway, yeah, this is probably the best Jake show so far. He's not being a dingus over a girl, he's not being a delinquent, and he is being a good kid who is growing up. The Kassidy Yates setup stuff is good.

Kevin: A few other items in the plus column: I loved the sparring with Gul Dukat, it's always a hoot. I like the conversation between Kira and O'Brien about Bajoran space flight. I also like to the introduction an episode early of the Kassidy character. The character moment with Sisko and Dax was also really nice and I've always been enchanted by the image of the starscape nursery ceiling. On the downside, the sailor jargon got just a little precious. I understand the use, as they did actually have sails and expressions like tacking into the wind make sense, but they laid it on a tad thick.

Matthew: Yeah, if I get the speech about how quiet it is on a sailboat, and how "this was really living," one more time, I'm going to go into saccharine overload. It screams of writers with romanticized notions of both sea and space travel. It would be much more interesting to show us how much things sucked before the floating hotels in space that are Trek ships.

Kevin: As for the Bashir part, I did like the real-world manifestation of part of his past. It is far more effective than the recent episode Distant Voices. I did find the gimmick of Doctor Lense not knowing who Bashir was to be a little thin. In my experience, people in graduate school, and particularly doctors, are very aggressive in their academic positions and I think they would have at least met each other once outside of the one party in which he was mistaken for an Andorian. I did like the reinforcement of Bashir's choice of the DS9 as his assignment and how being valedictorian wouldn't change that. It was also really nice to see the Bashir and O'Brien friendship developed, especially with the awesome line, "I used to really hate you. And now... I don't." As an historical aside, the writers wanted to use the song Louie Louie for the drinking scene, but could not afford the rights so they went with the old English drinking song which apparently both actors knew.

Matthew: I'm actually a big fan of this storyline, as it is part of the continuing effort to de-douche-ify Bashir, making him more identifiable and vulnerable. The scene with O'Brien is great because it mirrors what many a viewer must have thought. I hated Bashir, and now I... don't hate him. I wouldn't go so far as to say I like him, but hey, the distance traveled is significant in itself. The rivalry with a classmate reminded me of high school, and I don't mind the not knowing angle, because I figure Starfleet Medical is a really big place with a lot of self-absorbed twats like young Bashir. I also really liked how she made the charting mission of the Lexington seem mundane, it lent some verisimilitude to the Trek universe.


Kevin: Everyone did a good job here in the main cast. I enjoyed Sisko's enthusiasm and I don't think he ever laid it on too thick. I love the scene with Dax; it really resonated in the context of their friendship. And as always, the interactions between father and son Sisko are always great.

Matthew: This was indeed a good Sisko show. The Siskos interacting has always been good, and it was up front here. Without the opportunity to chew scenery, Avery Brooks turns in a nice, restrained performance. I also really liked Cirroc Lofton. He definitely comes off like less of a tool, and you wonder if it hasn't been the writing all these seasons.

Kevin: Drunk acting is extremely difficult. It is a very short trip from being funny ridiculous to annoying ridiculous and I want to single out Colm Meany for acting drunk with great poise. He was hilarious.

Matthew: The drunk scene was funny and touching. Siddig El Fadil played it perfectly. He is wounded and lacking in judgment, and really vulnerable when O'Brien admits his "true feelings." I liked Bari Hochwald a lot as Dr. Lense. She seemed like the perfect somewhat-aloof-but-still-kind-of-hot person for the role. I believed her as both a valedictorian and a Doctor. And as I mentioned, she was kind of hot.

Production Values

Kevin: Production-wise, the star of the show is the ship, which is gorgeous. I personally would have preferred a little more contrast in the interior and exterior of the ship, but that is a small complaint. The goal was to make a spaceship that looked like it was carved by hand as a real sailing ship would be and I think they certainly achieved that. I also liked the crank mechanism inside the ship for controlling the sails. I thought both in terms of visuals and the sound effects they seem like really operating mechanisms.

Matthew: I would have liked to have seen more equipment in the ship, and as I mentioned, the sails should have been way bigger. But it was a pretty good design overall, and well realized. The CGI on the sails was good for the day, and is still pretty OK by today's standards. Not embarrassing, anyway.
Kevin: On a side note, I also liked the use of the sextant, the prop looked very nice. The hand-drawn star chart what was also nice and I enjoyed the deep space fireworks; those were nice touch.

Matthew: I thought the fireworks were really cool and classy.


Kevin: In sum, I think this episode is a solid 3, and that's not meant as a criticism really in any way. It's nice to see the show is starting to give a solid, average episode on a regular basis. The science fiction elements are there, and though they were maybe not as thoroughly explored they could have been, they were still interesting and overall very well done. The character story for Bashir was good and again not as deep as it could have been but several moments in the arc were quite entertaining. In total this is a good episode and in the fat part of the bell curve.

Matthew: I remember thinking "nothing happens in this episode" when I was reflecting on it after not seeing it for a long time. Maybe I appreciate it more now that I'm older, but it is a very pleasant 45 minutes of TV. I agree with the 3 for a total of 6. It's solid, and enough pieces are in place to make it feel worthwhile. It's not mind-blowing in any respect, but it really helps develop the characters in a way that some previous character shows have failed at.


  1. From a production values standpoint, the fireworks were pretty spectacular. From an in-plot standpoint, though, they irked the heck out of me. I can understand the Cardassians admitting that the Siskos and ancient Bajorans had done something pretty impressive, but celebrating outright like that seemed massively out of character for them. (Though leave it to a people who build their pride on their military heroes to have a good space fireworks technology. Love it.)

    The light ship itself has always caught my fancy something wicked. It was stunningly beautiful, and I wanted to sail in it. The fact that Sisko built the thing by hand doubled that fascination. I appreciated how torn up it got once it encountered the actual universe, too.

    The drunken scene is one of my favorite scenes in all of Trek, and I am glad that they didn't go with Louie Louie. Jerusalem has a much more somber tone befitting the mood of the scene, and kept it well on the right side of farce by not being too light or upbeat. It also fits really well with the sorts of songs we know O'Brien enjoys. It's also a lot more timeless, and doesn't lead me to roll my eyes that they just HAPPEN to know 20th century songs.

    P.S. Are you guys using some sort of auto-correcting voice-to-text dictation software to write this? Because there's quite a number of really special typographical errors in the review that would be explained by such a software.

    1. I think that's probably Kevin's drunk DOMA celebration text recognition at work.

    2. I would never infringe on such a worthwhile celebration!

    3. This was my attempt to save time by dictating my half of the post through Google and editing the errors. I also did this a week ago before a particularly crazy week at work, so I wasn't as attentive as I might have been. Thank you to our eagle-eyed readers for catching it. I have edited the errors. :)

      I'm really just going to have to hire a secretary to take down my posts in shorthand and post them for me.