Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Essential DS9: Season 2

You know I love Deep Space Nine. Not everyone has the time to invest in a new show, and DS9 has a rough introduction. To help some people get into it, I've compiled a list of five episodes from each season of Deep Space Nine that focus on essential stories and character moments of the series. I've also added a few supplemental episodes that are very good, but don't quite make the cut.

Necessary Evil (2x08): Necessary Evil looks back at the occupation and challenges the usually airtight relationship between Odo and Kira. It is 100% character and it positively sizzles.

Supplemental: Rules of Acquisition (2x18): You learn about Ferengi society, grand Negas Zek and The Dominion. A good Quark episode.

Supplemental: Armageddon Game (2x13): Bashir and O'Brien finally become friends. Irredeemable from any other context, but yeah.

Supplemental: Blood Oath (2x19): A Dax episode that explores her relationship with Klingons. It's awesome in its own right and it foreshadows a great many things to come.

The Maquis, Part II (2x21): There's a recap. The Maquis are an enemy that weren't able to live up to the pizazz of the Dominion, the Cardassians, the Pah-Wraiths, or the Klingons, but they do represent DS9's ability to question the utopian perfection of The Federation.

The Wire (2x22): It's a Garak episode. I skipped Cardassians and Past Prologue, but Garak is an essential character and this is the pinnacle of Garak episodes. Great character work for him and Bashir alike.

The Collaborator (2x24): Bajoran politics, bits of Kira's character, and more Winn Adami. Oooh yeah.

The Jem'Hadar (2x26): Meet The Dominion.


SkilTao said...

Over on that one forum you said you hated how DS9 cynically nitpicked the utopian Federation, and praised Star Trek for it's message that "things can get better because we can get better."

Obviously DS9 can be really good at those times that it looks poorly on the Federation. (I think Garak is no small part of that.) But my question is, would it work for you if the cracks in utopia *were* those "things" that get better via the characters bettering them/selves?

...Or maybe that would come off preachy instead of visionary... I don't know. I don't remember if the show ever actually tried this approach.

PS: Blood Oath was pulpy fun. Not as fun as the other callback to Original Series, but still fun.
PPS: s01e15, Progress: I like how the old man is clever without being condescending. Also: the shocking and true origin of self-stealing stem bolts!
PPPS: I've read some Deadpool. Deadpool is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

VanVelding said...

Good question. I have an eleven page document in my blogs folder called "Deep Space Dance with The Devil." I wrote two large replies to this, but they were both too long.

Yes, you can take a critical look at The Federation. You can have characters break with the show's values, suffer the consequences, and then develop their character to better incorporate those values. Crew, incidental characters, and even institutions can do this.

If you have values and you use those values to mete out rewards and punishments for your characters, then your show might seem kind of preachy. However, every show works like that. Most safely parrot the current values of the population at large, who for their part accept what happens without any reflection.

If you're going to say something significant instead of chipping in a "me too" with the status quo, you are probably going to come across as a rather preachy.

Whether it's visionary or not is something that's determined in retrospect.

SkilTao said...

Well, I mean "visionary" to describe how Star Trek takes it for granted that some problems will be resolved--like, of course Uhuru and Chekov and Sulu are on the command crew, this was the future--without making those issues part of the plot or character development.

And yeah, I guess characters/etc on a show can break from / measure up to a show's values without getting into Omega Glory levels of preachiness.

VanVelding said...

You mean, more Uhura and less "Let This be Our Last Battlefield"? Less "The Outcast" and more the mythical on-screen explicitly LGBT couple in Star Trek?

Yeah, Uhura is the only real layup in any of those categories.