Thursday, June 12, 2014

Deep Space Nine, Season 5: The Ship

Deep Space Nine, Season 5
"The Ship"
Airdate: October 7, 1996
98 of 176 produced
98 of 176 aired


A crashed Jem'Hadar ship presents Sisko with a test of his ability to command his crew under the risk of death in the service of a nebulous objective.

Does the Federation have "motorboating," Captain? Just think of the possibilities if we were to work together...


Matthew: So, I get that this is supposed to be hard-boiled and impressive and everything. And I know, having watched DS9 already, that future episodes will improve on this one significantly. But Just because it's the first of its ilk doesn't mean it gets a pass for being really artificial in a lot of ways. First of all, we have the red-shirting of Muniz. Then we have the "tension" between our crew members under stress. Finally, we get the "message" of the show, some baloney about trust or something. I'll tackle Muniz first. Developing him just in order to kill him robs his death of any real impact - it would have been better had he enjoyed more appearances prior to this episode.

Kevin: He was in Hard Time and Starship Down, but I agree, they should have let him develop more to really give it some impact. I will say I liked that they had him speak Spanish. The UT issues aside, I like that idea that English/Federation Standard hasn't completely homogenized humanity. The idea that individual cultures still exist in some form is more interesting. All that said, the issues with O'Brien/Worf aside, I found the banter between the O'Brien and Muniz to be really nice and his grief at Muniz's death to be genuine.

Matthew: The tension between the crew members was not organically handled. Worf's antagonism of O'Brien wasn't just pointless, it didn't make sense for their characters. They've served together for years, O'Brien even watched Worf get pain-stiked on his birthday. Basically, it just served the purpose of giving Sisko (and Brooks) a chance to chew scenery. Then, Dax is attacked for her sense of humor - a story idea that might have been nice if anything she said were even remotely amusing. Since none of her statements were, the exchange makes her character look uncomfortably bad.

Kevin: Yeah, O'Brien and Worf have too much history to not understand each other's positions, even if they are drastically different. I like the idea that being stuck in a hot, airless, noisy room under constant threat of death would stress even the healthiest relationship, but they need to build it differently.

Matthew: The "trust" message was introduced into the story at minute 25 - after the runabout had already been destroyed, Muniz had been fatally shot, and the ship had been infiltrated. Just what element of trust was overlooked past minute 25? How could any characters have been realistically expected to do so? The moralizing at the end therefore came off as really ham-fisted. Why was the Founder sick, anyway? I did like the twist at the end of the Jem'Hadar soldiers killing themselves.

Kevin: Yeah...there I agree. I think a more interesting ending would be a Hail Mary pass by the Vorta and having her just cop to the Founder being on board and hoping for the best. Sisko could have debated the intelligence value of having a Founder versus the ethical problems, and ultimately decided to turn the Founder over in exchange for the ship, and it would have made the Vorta's surprise that the Federation would do so sharper, and make the message that "All this was a waste," even better because it clearly would have been the Vorta's fault. That being said I loved the scenes outside the ship. The diplomatic double talk was great. I also liked the little tag about Sisko's faith. It was a tad hamfisted, I admit, but something about the exchange really got me.

Matthew: The denouement goes on for way too long, covering ideas already touched on in the plot proper. Some more action/tension scenes to punch up the preceding 40 minutes would have been more welcome. Speaking of completely wasted scenes, the B story (or is it a Z story) of the Doctor ordering bugs or something was utterly pointless.

Kevin: I didn't mind that. I enjoy watching Star Trek characters ruminate about the consequences of their decisions. I also like that they had Dax not pull punches. These are Starfleet officers and this is what they signed up for, and the ship will do go one to save more lives than were lost here, and that's enough to call it a win. It's harsh, almost surprisingly so for a Federation citizen to say, but it made for a good scene for me. And I will also add, I loved the fact they discussed the physics of FTL travel without the inertial dampeners. That was just gravy to a sci-fi nerd.


Matthew: As pointless as the character and his death was, F.J. Rio was a lot of fun in the Muniz role (he has another pair of nice guest spots in VOY and ENT).  It's too bad Muniz wasn't made recurring. Some Latin American representation would have been nice on Trek. I liked Kaitlin Hopkins a lot, too. I thought she emoted well and I enjoyed her voice, too (she later plays a con artist impersonating Janeway in VOY).

Kevin: She definitely shared a certain "imperial" quality with Jeffrey Combs' Weyoun, and I wonder if she watched his performances or otherwise got notes from it. Her obvious awareness of her superior position right up until the Founder dies, and her staggered grief really registered as different. Rio was really good at portraying the Average Joe. You get the sense that he is a normal guy in this world. Sure, he works on starships and stuff, but also remembers seeing fireworks with his family. He had a real authenticity that absent the script issues made his death sad.

Matthew: The principal actors did not fare as well as the guest stars. We get some severe overacting by Brooks, especially in his cringe-worthy climax re: trust with the Vorta. We get under-acting by Farrell, who was totally unfunny when she was called on to be the reverse (though, to be fair, it wasn't on the page either). We bad line readings by both Dorn and Meaney during their tiff. Basically, none of the putative tension felt real.

Kevin: We know all the actors can turn in taut, gripping performances, so I'm going to lean on there not being enough material to go on, but yeah, this was no one's best work, though I will say, I think Meany did a good job in his banter with Muniz throughout.

Production Values

Matthew: Planet California is used yet again, but the Vazquez rocks are not particularly well utilized here. The setting did not really contribute to visual interest. It was just there. Speaking of exterior shots, though I applaud the building of a ship exterior, it just didn't match the shape or the color of the in-flight Jem'Hadar scarab model. The interior was rather bland, too.

Kevin: Yeah. This was close to being truly breathtakingly awesome. Even a little hint of the purple light would have fix that. I like the sense of isolation in the desert, but that need a wider establishing shot to really drive home.

Matthew: Benzites have apparently overcome their breathing difficulties... within 1 episode no less, having just been mentioned for their breathing tubes last show The Changeling effects were pretty bad, too.

Kevin: Ugh...the lack of breathing tubes really bugged me when I was a kid.


Matthew: I was thinking an easy 3, but I actually think this treads awfully close to the line for a 2. Nonetheless, there is a basic level of interest and action that keeps this just entertaining enough to avoid such ignominy. But these Dominion stories had better get a lot better than this one.

Kevin: I agree on the three. The emotional notes ring fairly hollow, but there's a definite tautness to the story that comes through. I enjoyed watching this episode and the basic ideas are strong enough for the episode to stay in average territory. That makes a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. really? Worf acting like an unevolved cro magnon with his "death is glory and honor" crap was out of character? I mean this is the man who in TNG wanted to be killed because he couldnt walk. The man who has on various occasions celebrated death like it was a birthday. I do not find it at all out of character for him to care about Muniez not dying an honorable death. This was Worf 101, so to speak. Worf still believes in honor and glory in death so his assholish behavior in that regard was totally en par with his character, just as him coming around in the end and showing his kinder side was typical for him. This is the guy who drinks prune juice and who, behind all that primitiveness of Klingonhood, so to speak, has a softer side.

    I do not see why Sisko should have trusted the Vorta and vice versa. They are adversaries, on the brink of war, You dont trust your enemy.

    I like hoe this epsiode again showed the devotion of the Jem'hadar to the Changelings and that they just all committed suicide because they couldnt have their genocidal masters. This was a great episode on many levels, but especially because it developed and added a new later to the ruthlessness and casual cruelty of the Dominion. I dont think anything the Federation does would ever have impressed the Vorta. They are the minions of the terrible Founders...

    Overall I found this episode very interesting: being confined in that space, the constant bombardment, the uncomfortable conversations with the Vorta female, dancing around the issue of what was in the ship. Muniez and O'Brien and their friendship and how O'Brien was struggling watching his buddy die, Worf being on O'Brian's case about Muniez and the final scene.