[DS9] Jammer's Review: "When it Rains..."
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for the episode "When it
Rains...". If you haven't seen the show yet, beware.
Nutshell: Some interesting revelations, though the execution is a little
Plot description: As Kira leads a mission to help organize Damar's
resistance forces, Bashir learns that Odo has been infected with the
disease sweeping through the Great Link.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -- "When it Rains..."
Airdate: 5/3/1999 (USA)
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Rene Echevarria & Spike Steingasser
Directed by Michael Dorn
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: ***
"You need a lesson in humility. I'm going to see that you get it."
"By putting me out on the street?"
"You'll find that the Bajoran people are very kind."
-- Winn and Dukat
Someone wrote me an e-mail saying these "Final Chapter" episodes seem to be
coming off as 90 percent setup and only about 10 percent riveting stories.
I find that's an interesting take on the matter--and although I personally
think it's a somewhat harsh assessment (setup itself can be riveting), I
certainly can see the argument.
"When it Rains..." seems to be a good example of this mindset. This episode
offers more plot into the mix, but the feel of the episode is somewhat
off-kilter. It's probably the most frustrating yet of the "Final Chapter"
episodes, because it moves along for an hour and then suddenly halts in its
tracks, with virtually no resolution. If you were like me and weren't
watching the clock, you might've been blindsided by the suddenness of the
"executive producers" credit appearing.
Issues of multi-part structure aside, "When it Rains..." has a somewhat
excessive title. The title seems to imply we're going to be plunged into
the Abyss of Despair, perhaps for the last time before the series heads
into final wrap-up. I don't think that was the case nor the intention. What
is the case, rather, is that we have more setup of plot and character
directions, with some interesting new revelations--as the elements continue
to pile up.
The theme for this week is "the enemy within." No transporter mishaps or
evil doubles, mind you, but rather an indication of various powers
beginning to face some internal troubles.
-- In the Klingon Empire: Gowron comes to the station to bestow a great
honor upon General Martok. Immediately after giving Martok this honor,
Gowron announces he's taking military command of the Klingon fleets
personally, sending Martok in as simply a soldier with no real authority.
Giving Martok a chance to fight the simple soldier's fight is supposed to
be an honor, but the hidden intentions are clear: Gowron wants his fleets
run under a different strategy, one that quickly begins to look like a
series of foolish suicide missions that undermine the big picture.
-- In the Dominion: We have a large uprising of Cardassian resistance
soldiers who are trying to sabotage a force that has conquered them without
firing a single shot.
-- Within that Cardassian resistance: We have an internal inability for the
Cardassians to choose a strategy for resisting the Dominion. Damar asks
Starfleet for help. Starfleet sends Kira, an expert on efficient
terrorist-style resistance. Friction ensues, with Damar's right hand, Rosot
(John Vickery), looking very much like the most likely candidate to
undermine the operation with his inflexible attitudes.
-- In Starfleet: We have Bashir and O'Brien, who learn Odo has contracted
the disease that has infected the Founders. In the course of Bashir's new
search for a cure, he draws the suspicion and ire of subjects within
Starfleet, some probably answering to Section 31.
-- On Bajor: Dukat continues to seek power for himself until the
Paghwraiths take an action of their own, and Winn subsequently gives Dukat
a lesson in humility.
In short, there's a lot going on here. The episode doesn't always make
perfect sense of everything going on (I suspect that's what the next
installment is for), but I liked the implications of most of the
revelations, and I found the ironies emerging from many of the situations
to be interesting.
The most obvious and interesting is the irony of them all: The Cardassians
have become the Bajorans. They're fighting a battle against a more powerful
group that occupies their soil. And to fight this battle they need help
from Starfleet, who sends the person most suited to helping in this
situation: Kira. No, Kira isn't happy. No, the Cardassians aren't happy.
Yes, this is a partnership destined for conflict. Sisko seems to think
giving Kira a Starfleet commission will make the situation slightly less
volatile. (Kira finally gets to don a Starfleet uniform. Neat.) Garak and
Odo are also sent on the mission as DS9's other resident experts on the
Occupation. The mission objective is to prepare Damar and his followers for
internal guerrilla warfare.
As is the case with a lot of this episode, I'm impressed more by the ideas
behind this story element than the actual presentation. Once Kira meets
Damar and his troops, the story execution turns surprisingly routine, with
a general cinematic attitude of "show something happening, and quickly move
on." Of course there's friction between Kira's group and the other
Cardassians--particularly Rosot, who doesn't want to resort to the tactics
Kira is proposing, like attacking Dominion targets run by other
Cardassians. Kira informs him that they don't have a choice. Damar
reluctantly agrees. Rosot isn't convinced, and can't look at the larger
picture with Kira's detached pragmatism. And the fact that he absolutely
*hates* Kira doesn't help matters, either.
This is all reasonable, but it's missing the extra punch it needs to be
powerful. I wouldn't be surprised to see that punch delivered in the next
episode, because "When it Rains..." only sets up the pieces for what's
obviously to follow. But for now, "When it Rains..." is interesting but not
riveting. It's, let's say, 70 percent setup and only 30 percent riveting
story. (This week's formula says I should award one star for every 10
percent of riveting story that I can claim to quantify. Okay, yes, that's a
bunch of nonsense. My scale, my rules.)
There are also the other subplots. The biggest twist of the week is the
announcement that Odo has the disease, which has the emotional consequences
one would probably expect under the circumstances: Kira is worried but
presses on with the job she has. Odo is worried but refuses to yield to
medical sensibilities--there's a job to do. Bashir takes up an obsessive
search to find a cure to a disease currently considered incurable, much
like the obsession he took up in fourth season's "The Quickening."
Bashir's quest, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. When he attempts
to retrieve Odo's old records (something valuable for his research) from
Starfleet Medical, he's greeted with a series of roadblocks. Ultimately, he
uncovers what appears to be a conspiracy to keep him from working on a
cure. Starfleet's resistance seems reasonable, even understandable, under
the circumstances of this war (at this point, the death of the Founders is
hardly considered a bad thing)--but it runs deeper, and after further
investigation, Bashir concludes Odo was infected with the disease three
years earlier and was intended as a carrier to infect the rest of the
Link--a plan that apparently worked. The probable engineers of the virus:
From a dramatic point of view, this storyline is probably the highlight of
the episode. Bashir's search through the madness is executed with skill,
and I found Bashir's frustration in getting the Starfleet bureaucratic
runaround to be particularly effective. Also plausible, but chilling, are
the implications of Section 31 manufacturing a virus for genocide. I hope
the morality of this issue is tackled at some point, but for now the idea
alone is one that's decidedly anti-Starfleet to the core, "best interests"
be damned. As such, I'm intrigued.
Less effective is the Klingon plotline. As much chess-playing as the "Final
Chapter" episodes have featured, none of it has really felt like blatant
chess-piece manipulation--until now. We haven't seen Gowron since season
five, and now all of a sudden he shows up here, using what would appear to
any rational person as downright bone-headed military tactics. I know,
Klingon culture is very tradition- and honor-based, but I'd expect even
Klingons warriors would be skeptical of the strategic practicality of such
blatantly suicidal missions. And what is Gowron's motive for doing
this--other than, of course, to be at odds with Worf in the next episode's
inevitable showdown? Of all the plot developments, this one is clearly the
Elsewhere in the sea of plot, the Dukat/Winn tidbits provide setup to a
storyline going somewhere, but who-knows-where. There's not much here in
terms of groundbreaking advancement, but there are some interesting
characterizations. When Dukat attempts to read the Kosst Amojan without
Winn's permission, a Paghwraith energy beam (or something) flies into his
eyes and leaves him blind--temporarily, methinks, as a lesson. Winn then
has Dukat put out on the streets of the city as a blind beggar, hoping the
experience will serve as a "lesson in humility." This doesn't seem all that
important in story terms, but I like what it has to say: Winn is using
Dukat as much as he's using her, and she gives him a loud-and-clear
indication of that. And, heck, it was just so much *fun* to see Dukat
desperately begging "Adami!" not to throw him out into public. Winn even
smiles with a quiet satisfaction.
There's not much else to say. I think that covers the major stuff, and it's
tough to evaluate half-finished story themes. "When it Rains..." is a
flawed but overall entertaining DS9 setup show. But don't expect any real
payoffs in any aspect of the story. You won't be finding it. Yet.
Next week: Chapter six. Worf must go against the Klingon Empire in order to
save it. Again.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jamahl Epsicokhan, all rights reserved. Unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...