Monday, May 15, 2017

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: The Dogs of War Space Nine, Season 7
"The Dogs of War"
Airdate: May 26, 1999
171 of 173 produced
171 of 173 aired


Kira, Garak, and Damar arrive on Cardassia to spearhead the resistance. Quark learns that he will become the next Grand Nagus from a garbled subspace transmission. Bashir and Ezri annoy both viewers and fellow characters with their budding romance. Kasidy Yates discovers that she is pregnant. The show runners realize they have to shoehorn in every possible remaining plot line before the finale.

 That guy up there beaming away is me, in hopes of escaping the Bashir/Ezri storyline.


Well, this is quite a grab bag of plot lines, isn't it? It's like the show runners sat down and said "uh oh, guys, we spent an episode on Sloan, now we have to catch up on everything! And oh yeah, what about Quark?" As might be expected, some of these story lines work, and some don't. I'll start by focusing on the ones that don't. The Bashir/Ezri story is annoying. Get it over with. Bad communication creating "comedic" separation is just annoying. Are we watching "Friends" or Star Trek? I'd much rather they trip up over the very real issues in their relationship.

Kevin: This is definitely a case of characters being attracted to one another because the script told them to, not because of the innate chemistry of the actors or the actual compatibility of the characters as written. It doesn't help that Bashir always dances on the knife's edge of being a petulant jerk and Ezri by her own admission is still assimilating centuries of other experiences into her own personality, so it almost seems like any relationship might be a bad idea right now. And they at least mentioned it with Worf if they didn't really apply it, but what of the Trill taboo for living a past host's life? Though I suppose that ship sailed when she came to the station in the first place.

Matthew: The Nagus story is hit and miss for me. On the one hand, I like that Quark is incensed by the social changes being wrought by Zek under Moogie's influence (sometimes, you write a sentence, and then think to yourself: what am I doing with my life?), and I like his resolve to roll back tax, employee rights, environmental regulations, and health care reforms. It's oddly current, isn't it? But then, we've already seen this story, haven't we? We've already heard about these reforms, and we've already heard Quark's reaction to them. So I don't end up actually learning much. Then, the dum-dums strike this story thread. Rom as Nagus is ridiculous, absent some sort of indication of his brilliance or prowess. It seems like it's just being played for a yuk against Quark. It also calls into question the whole succession policy of Ferenginar (there's another one of those sentences...).

Kevin: I agree. Star Trek normally does a good job with at least a patina of credibility in terms of its politics as real places with real people. Even if Rom philosophically is on board with all of this, we've seen nothing to indicate he has the political chops to manage them and prevent what must be an entrenched party that agrees with Quark who has every incentive to roll back the changes. The exchanges between Quark with both Rom and Brunt were entertaining enough, largely on the strength of the actors' comic timing.

Matthew: The Damar on Cardassia story is probably the most successful, but it still isn't an unalloyed success. They had a basement setup kind of like City on the Edge of Forever, but they didn't use it to great effect and didn't give a lot of back story for Garak, which seemed like a wated opportunity. I really enjoyed the Weyoun propaganda video, and the general portrayal of machinations on the Dominion end of things. I found Damar's "Big Speech" to be not very stirring, because the incident itself seemed so small, and I had a hard time seeing how information about this would spread. I think a lot more could have been done to show what it's like to be in a totalitarian state with misinformation running rampant, and how to fight against that. I'm thinking North Korea, or Tienanmen Square.

Kevin: I think it would have been interesting to see the writers try to tackle this plot thread even a few years later, when the idea of "social media" was a more widely understood concept. So far, the only times we see planet-wide broadcasts are Weyoun, but it would have been fun to see them try to spread a message and build a resistance digitally. I would have enjoyed more backstory for Garak as well. A novel written by Andrew Robinson detailing Garak's life before his exile and after the war states that Mila was Garak's mother, the result of an affair with Enabran Tain. I wonder if that was in a cut line or something in this episode since that kind of "close but with some obvious baggage" was evident in their scenes.

Matthew: As a brief rider to the story we learn that Kasidy is pregnant because "one of them" forgot their injection last month. Just WTF is this wack birth control method? Anyway, Kasidy's apprehension is well done. Sisko's confidence seems completely misplaced, however. Oh yeah, and they also got a replacement ship. That they're going to call Defiant, and re-use all existing FX shots of. Why am I supposed to care about this again?

Kevin: For practicality's sake, I just assumed she meant men use birth control and he forgot to do it. It's just that I can pictures a lot of spouses using the phraseology "One of us forgot to do [X]" where [X] was clearly the other spouses' job. That said, I was just thrilled the casually mentioned birth control on Star Trek. It did have the feel of a curve ball thrown for the sake of it, but I have to admit, I responded to Kasidy's anxiety. The Defiant thing always bugged me. Either ramp it up and give them like a Sovereign class ship or no ship. Replacing the Defiant with another one two episodes later just retroactively kills the punch of a pretty awesome scene in the earlier episode.


Although I've been a Casey Biggs booster these past few seasons, I don't think he did what he needed to in order to boost these somewhat lackluster lines. His big speech didn't work really well for me. Andrew Robinson had some nice line readings, as did Julianna McCarthy as Mila, but the episode didn't give them enough playing against each other.

Kevin: I think they all did what they needed to do to set up the finale. I particularly enjoyed the wry conversation about having a secret base. All the actors managed to pitch their conversation with the tenor of coworkers who have a rapport by virtue of their work but aren't necessarily 'friends.'

Matthew: Jeffrey Combs pulled double duty and was excellent in both roles. His propaganda video was really well done, as was his groveling in front of Quark. Armin Shimerman got a nice array of emotions to play - smug self-satisfaction, outrage, shock - I really liked his reading of "you mean there are... T's on Ferenginar?"

Kevin: Jeffrey Combs is a delight. The line that got me was "You'll still be a powerful man. I wouldn't be sucking up to you if you weren't." It is sad that Shimerman has largely sat out this last arc. I'm not asking for him to be shoehorned, but he deserved a better final episode.

Matthew: Alexander Siddig and Nicole deBoer annoyed me more than anything. I guess that fits the annoying stage of will-they-won't-they that was being portrayed.

Kevin: Yep.

Production Values

Matthew: On the one hand, the Cardassia matte paintings are beautiful. The oft-used public architecture one works (but is still deserted) and the sunset matte is gorgeous. The planet shot was also really nice. The basement set and the street set were pretty dark and lackluster, though. At least they finally populated the latter with a few more extras, to remind us that there are actually people eon Cardassia.

Kevin: I would have liked the barracks scene to take place somewhere a little bigger. It felt like an alley. And hey, maybe that's Cardassian street level design, but between the dim light and color palette, it felt pretty small, and not in a good way.


Matthew: The scattershot nature of this episode meant that none of its stories were given room to breathe, and that many opportunities were missed. With that said, none of the stories are particularly boring or horrendous. That spells "mediocre" to me, and so I give it a 3.

Kevin: I agree with the 3, for a total of 6. The Cardassian plot falls a little short of greatness, but is still enjoyable, and the Ferengi plot, holes and all, still has a stable of good actors who can wring comedy from almost any line, so in the balance, this is squarely in average territory.

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