Thursday, June 11, 2015

Deep Space Nine, Season 6: Sons and Daughters

Deep Space Nine, Season 6:
"Sons and Daughters"
Airdate: October 16, 1997
124 of 173 produced
125 of 173 aired


Worf is unsettled when his son shows up for duty on General Martok's flagship.  Meanwhile, Kira finds herself pulled between her friendship with Ziyal and her antipathy towards Dukat.

Klingon warriors make a mockery of the Olive Garden's unlimited soup and bread sticks policy.


Kevin: I go back and forth on this episode. There's some good stuff, but for me, it's definitely the weak spot of the introductory arc for this season. I'll tackle the Alexander story first. This half of the episode just didn't gel for me. For starters it feels like they are retroactively voiding the ending we got in "Firstborn." And it's another nail in the coffin of Worf being a jerk on DS9. His peace with Alexander choosing his own path felt genuine, but when he mentions it here, it feels condescending. I'm not saying I can't accept that even after growth, parents and children can't fall back into old patterns, but the work was not there to pull it off. Also, it just doesn't make sense why Alexander is doing this, or why the Klingons would let him? They leaned really hard into the idea that he's apparently literally not qualified, so how did he even make it out of basic training? Maybe a better way could have been if Alexander worked for Starfleet or, like his mother, as a Federation diplomat. Alexander arguing for some kind of brokered solution would have made for a more credible conflict between father and son.

Matthew: Momentum, they name is... not this episode. Character assassinating retcon? Yeah, that's it. Man, what a downer. The previous two shows had, for whatever their flaws, a brisk sense of pace, things happening, important stuff afoot... this brings it all to a screeching halt. Why did this story about Alexander have to be told? He got a decent send off in "Firstborn," as you said. He even got to be played by a great guest actor in that tale. Now he's back so that he can... hate Worf for abandoning him (which seems to contradict "Firstborn") and to be a simpering dipshit? I also think the Klingon portion of the overall storyline is not served by this episode. The Rotarran escorts a convoy. Not exactly a crackling plotline. Alexander mistakes a computer simulation for a real battle alert. Not only does this assassinate his character, but it kind of calls the whole Klingon military's competence into question. Alexander gets annoyed at Worf's fighting instruction. Haven't I seen this before? Also, can I just ask - how did Alexander age so quickly in the space of 5 years? I think there is some fuzzy soap operatic math going on here.

Kevin: I like the stuff with Kira and Ziyal a lot on its own. I think it should have come an episode earlier. Apparently, Rocks and Shoals was filmed after this due to the location shooting issues, and the writers were left constantly double checking what they had and had not already done, and it kind of shows. Given Kira's resolve at the end of last week, it's odd that she was so easily swept up this week. Reversed, there's a personal moment then a broader political moment that spurs Kira into more overt action. Still, it's not bad per se, and the scenes themselves are good. I love watching Dukat try to be ingratiating. I also liked the last scene with Ziyal and Kira where she acknowledges that she can't force her to choose and expect her to choose her over her father. It's another in a nice piece of nuanced reactions that Kira is really nailing this season.

Matthew: I don't care. This is what I kept thinking to myself as I watched. I just don't care.  For one thing, we've already seen the "Ziyal wishes Kira and Dukat wouldn't fight" story. For another, nothing really happens. Ziyal gets praise for her artwork... is there anything a viewer could possibly care less about? Dukat bloviates at a meeting. Kira feels uncomfortable caring about something in common with Dukat. We already got this character note in the preceding episode. Yawn. Is it over yet?

Kevin: Overall, this episode doesn't really progress the war arc. We get a look at the Klingon side of things and see it's not all bloodwine and singing for them either and that adds some tension, I suppose. Otherwise, life on the station is much as it has been for the previous two episodes. In the balance, I was sufficiently entertained for the hour, but I was not blown away.

Matthew: This episode is an answer to questions nobody asked. The sheer inanity of revisiting Alexander beggars belief - but dropping it in the midst of the big war storyline? Yikes. The Ziyal thread was not equally pointless... which is about all I can say for it. When it comes down to it, this episode is completely superfluous. About the only scene that truly relates to the overall arc that's been established is Kira and Odo stonewalling Jake on their resistance plans.


Kevin: Dorn is a good actor and I wish they had given him something better to work with here. All of the conflict and resolution with Alexander felt like they were marking time. Worden also did not impress me. Maybe it was the make-up, but it just felt like he was doing all his acting right after waking up. It was...muffled...for lack of a better word.

Matthew: I think Dorn did the best he could. I bought his parental concern. But he and Worden had no chemistry, which I suppose might be expected of the characters, but nonetheless doesn't do much for the viewer. I would say the best scenes in the Klingon plot went to J.G. Hertzler. I liked him counseling Worf on the challenges of raising a son, and I liked the way he chastised Alexander during his training.

Kevin: On the station, Alaimo is his usual wonderful self. I ended up really liking Melanie Smith in these episodes and as odd as I found the shifting casting, they landed on the best. There's an unaffected genuineness that she's either not trying for at all or is aiming for with the skill of a master. The script needs her to be quietly likeable to make her (spoiler alert) eventual death sting, and I think she really lands it. She acts well in the Trek universe without acting like she is aware that she is acting in the universe.

Matthew: Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo did what hey needed to do with their scenes, as they've done previously. That said, they didn't really get a juicy scene to tear into.

Production Values

Kevin: I like getting to see more rooms of a Bird of Prey, not that there is much difference from one room to the next. I really want to introduce the Klingons as a people to a bunch of interior lighting options. Beyond that, it's a bottle show on the station. Overall, nothing failed, but there was nothing much for the design work to do this episode either.

Matthew: The exterior optical space shots were pretty clearly CGI, and they were up to the level of quality we've come to expect in recent DS9 stories. I'm kind of over the Klingon ship interiors. I get that they are Spartan. But you need to give me something to latch on to in a visual sense. TNG did a better job at this with Klingon planet sets.


Kevin: This lands in a three. The scenes between Kira and the Dukat family keep me sufficiently interested to keep this from a 2. I still kind of don't get why they bothered to bring back Alexander in a way that makes Worf such a jerk, but here we are. Still, I'm hard pressed to say the episode is bad, just that it's certainly not more than adequate.

Matthew: I'm stuck on a 2. It's not a 1 because of a baseline level of acting and storytelling competence. But while it isn't horrible or insulting, it most certainly is lame and pointless. Nothing of consequence happens and it saps all the momentum that had built up in the season. It's basically a waste of time, and should be skipped by anyone doing a watch-through of DS9's best stretches.  That makes our total a 5.

1 comment:

  1. Everytime I watch this episode, I fast forward through the bullshit die for honor Klingon parts. I am not interested in Worf's parenting skills as a Caveman in Residence, nor do i care about Alexander who, just over a span of 5 or 6 years seems to have gone from 3 years old to 21 or something (i dont care how they try to explain that away, it doesnt make sense and sounds made up. There is only so far you can take even sci fi before you hit my bullshit detector). The actor playing him is so severely miscast and boring and uninteresting. I just dont enjoy watching him on screen at all. he has nothing to offer his character or the story, like ever. The writers really did a thoroughly lousy job with the Alexander character. I was hoping for more character development, some more tension and resolution with Worf as a follow up to what we got to see in TNG, but nothing. His story arc was as lukewarm as a piss warm beer left out in the sun. Total fail, especially because he sort of disappears halfway season 6 and is never heard from again. If you are not gonna do it right, dont do it at all.

    The Ziyal, Dukat and Kira plot, however, I LOVE. I love everything about it, from Dukat's manipulations to his opportunism (the part where he offers the dress Kira just threw back at him to Ziyal, making it look like it was meant for her all along and how she thanks him for being "so thoughtful" was sooo epic). I love Kira being almost taken by him (because he is such a good manipulator) but getting out just in time calling him a power-hungy, opportunistic dictator. I wish the whole episode could have been about them. This one could alternatively have had the working title "Failures and Successes" with Failure clearly being the Worf/Alexander/Cave man honor part.