Friday, April 7, 2017

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: Tacking Into The Wind

Deep Space Nine, Season 7

Airdate: May 12, 1999
170 of 173 produced
170 of 173 aired


While Kira and Odo struggle to collaborate with the Cardassian insurgents, tensions between Martok and Gowron come to a head.

Worf finds the Chancellor getup to be an ill-fitting and quickly dated 90s look.


Matthew: So, I guess there are three main plot lines here - the push back against Gowron, the Cardassian resistance, and Dr. Bashir looking for a cure to the changeling disease. As per usual, it seems some of the plots are more successful than others. I would say the Gowron plot works best, here. It is set up reasonably well, with Sisko railing against Gowron's strategically unsupportable moves to both Gowron and then Worf privately, concluding that something must be done to stop him. It's a nice echo of some of his previous "dark" decisions. Martok is made to look suitably uninterested in political power, and then the duel between Worf and Gowron pays off both past tensions between them as well as allows a successfully developed character in Martok to take on a greater role. Is it perfect? No. I think Gowron comes off a bit amateurish in the whole thing, which doesn't fit his prior characterization. I also think the transfer of power is too immediate, and I find it extremely hard to imagine that anyone but Martok would be cheering "Worf!" after the fight. But on the whole, it works.

Kevin: Gowron comes off just a hair too petty in this arc, I agree. Maybe had he substituted Martok with a different hand picked successor who was at least competent, it would have made it more realistic. Still, even when he was introduced, he threatened K'Ehyler (I love her, but I really hate always have to look up how her name is spelled) and was uninterested in the bombing as Duras pretended to be, so it's not like we haven't seen him be venal and myopic where his ambition is concerned, but it does come off a bit much. That all said, I liked Martok's response. Kind of like Carson, the butler, on Downton Abbey, the person most protective of the social order is never the nobleman at the top, it's the ranking member of the worker class. It makes sense that even as far as he's come, he still has a respect for the Order of Things that not even the aristocracy does. I will say I was totally expecting a defeat but not killing of Gowron, but it's end of the show so they can afford to be grandiose. My jaw did hit the floor when I realized Gowron was actually dead. Whatever endorphins were flowing because of the work up to now were still firing by the end of the episode.

Matthew: The Cardassian plot has some interesting ins and outs. Odo is sick, and Odo and Kira both try to keep a secret from the other with respect to how much the other knows about it. It's a nice character touch, while acknowledging that I am still fully in the "I don't care about their relationship" camp. More interesting is Damar threading the needle between competing interests, and eventually siding with Kira and her insurgency approach. The final confrontation scene was executed nicely. I found the aspect of Kira challenging Damar right after his family had been killed to be a bit awkwardly staged, and made Kira look like a bit of a fool. I guess it was supposed to be an unguarded, foolish comment. Well, it successfully came off as that.

Kevin: I agree it wasn't...diplomatic...or anything, but I didn't necessarily find it foolish. I have reflexively recalled this exchange every time I've read about a Trump voter with regrets. Kira has both broad and specific reasons to really dislike Damar. The Occupation was tantamount to attempted genocide and he did personally murder a woman she considered a close friend. And his shock and outrage may be emotionally understandable, but from where Kira is standing, I get the kind of "Are you fucking kidding me?" response to his shock. Kira, even enlightened post-Duet, surrogate daughter of a Cardassian Kira, still carries an understandable amount of resentment and pain about the Occupation, and here's one of its perpetrators decrying the tactics he probably used at one time. I think the comment was unguarded, and certainly not meant to be helpful, but I don't disagree with the sentiment or the impulse to say it. I think it also serves the story, because with the murderous look Damar gives Kira and Garak's comment about breaking Damar of his romanticism about the past, I think it actually manages to be good character work for all three. Kira's reflexive lashing out, Damar's outrage, and Garak's pragmatism all ring true for their characters. I'm with Garak. Damar needed that wake up call about exactly which Cardassia he's fighting for. It adds some stakes to the later scene with Rusot. Without this exchange, it kind of makes sense he would kill the loose cannon on his staff, but with it, it serves as an affirmation of the kind of leader he may eventually be, and turning his back on the old Cardassia.

Matthew: Bashir is still seeking a cure. Like he was last episode. I really wonder what the heck the writers were thinking as they broke out this plot. Were they seriously like "hey, we have to update this story before finally focusing on it next episode?" Because if so, they have some really bad instincts. Watching Doctor Bashir use pipettes and talk about how tired he is isn't exactly scintillating television. They spend what seems like ten minutes of screen time basically getting us to ten seconds of "let's lure Sloan here." Why could this have not been done in either the preceding or following episode? Practically anything would have been an improvement replacing this scene. How about Quark doing... something?

Kevin: Yeah, I was just not that interested in this part of the story. I'll analyze next week when they get there, but two episodes of making no progress is kind of boring to watch, and since Bashir and Odo aren't in the same room, there's not even a real sense of urgency.


Matthew: Casey Biggs and Andrew Robinson deliver yet again in the Cardassian scenes. I liked how Biggs let us into Damar's shifting motivations and cognitive balancing act with his eyes and body language. Robinson put his usual subtle spin on his interactions with Kira and Odo. Speaking of Kira, I liked how Nana Visitor delivered her line about letting Odo maintain his illusions.

Kevin: As for Auberjonois and Visitor, you can't say they aren't trying. It's probably because the sentiment would work as well with a sick friend or relative that it works here. The look Damar gives Kira after her...choice comment...was fantastic. He really looked like he could have killed her right then. Robinson's unsentimental assessment was fantastic and a little scary as always. I liked Kira slipping into imperious Vorta speak, and for the trivia buffs out there, the real Luaren was portrayed by Armin Shimerman's wife.

Matthew: On the Klingon side of things, I found Michael Dorn, Robert O'Reilly and J.G. Hertzler adequate, but not really moreso. Avery Brooks also went into somewhat scene-chewing territory with his histrionics, which I had thought he was mostly past as an actor. I liked the way Nicole deBoer quietly broke off some truth in her conversation with Worf.

Kevin: I really liked DeBoer's choices too. Here, her gentle demeanor underscore rather than diminish her points. She didn't need to hit him over the head, she just needed to be quietly direct and let him come to the right conclusion. I also like the character work in defining Curzon and Jadzia Klingo-philia their personality, not hers. The men did a good job, but this wasn't exactly Shaksepeare or anything. They had a straightforward job to do and they did it solidly.

Matthew: Alexander Siddig and Colm Meaney have been delivering the same lines in the same sleepy, subdued way, for what seems like several episodes now. I'm over it. It almost feels like Senior-itis, really.

Production Values

Matthew: Interior sets felt a bit cramped and uninspired. The underground Cardassian hideout is boring, and it saw a pretty bad Trek-fu fight between Kira and Rusot, in which she subdues the much larger Cardassian with some not terribly believable martial arts. I think the problem with showing tiny women beat on large men is that closed fist sorts of strikes, even with two hands, probably would have almost no effect given the weight and muscle strength of the women. Joint locks or judo throws would be more realistic, in my opinion.

Kevin: The fight was brief enough to not bother me, and the shot of Garak looming made me more than happy. I don't mind the cramped quarters here. It's a cave hideout. It should be cramped.

Matthew: Odo's Sickness makeup looked raggedy, but I personally think a visual effect would be better, some sort of melting or something. On the VFX side, though, we did get a nice Cardassian mothership design, to which the Dominion cruiser was docked. The Jem'Hadar bridge did the job, but nothing more, as did some re-used DS9 doors and corridors.

Kevin: I also liked the pan in on the Cardassian shuttle they picked up. The shipyard was great, and I don't mind reuses if they are used well, and I think they were here. I think they did good work making the somewhat flat bridge set look dynamic with the multi-vector Mexican standoff they ended up in at the end.

Matthew: There were lots of Klingon extras in a cramped space. The space was uninspired, but the final fight was pretty good. And you just knew that glass panel was going to get it, didn't you?

Kevin: Yeah. It's pretty much Chekov's interior design. No clear glass panel is making it out intact. I liked the touch of the Klingon OS on their screens.


Matthew: I'm kind of at a 3 on this one. Stuff happened, which I was mostly interested in. Performances were adequate. Nothing made me sit up and say "wow" on any axis. Some time was wasted on non-essential plot maintenance. So all in all, pretty average Trek in my book.

Kevin: I enjoyed the emotional dynamics at work between Kira, Damar, and Garak, and the shock value of killing off a character whose existed longer than this franchise is sufficiently ballsy to make this into a 4. That makes a total of 7 for us.

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