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[DS9] Jammer's Review: "When it Rains..."

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for the episode When it Rains... . If you haven t seen the show yet, beware. Nutshell: Some interesting
    Message 1 of 1 , May 17, 1999
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      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
      stiff.

      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:
      Section 31.

      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
      most forced.

      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.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://st-hypertext.trekseek.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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