Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

[DS9] Jammer's Review: Seventh Season Recap

Expand Messages
  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Greetings. You may have noticed this is way later than my season recap generally is. But, hey, Voyager doesn t start up for over a week and DS9 doesn t start
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 14, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      Greetings. You may have noticed this is way later than my season recap
      generally is. But, hey, Voyager doesn't start up for over a week and DS9
      doesn't start up at all, so this is on time as far as I'm concerned. :)
      Why so late? Well, for me it's been a very busy summer that gave way to
      blatant procrastination once the craziness died down. I didn't get around
      to starting this thing until a few weeks ago, and then it became a slow
      process of chipping away at it until I finally put a rush on it late last
      week. Bottom line: I didn't feel motivated to meet any deadline, so I took
      my sweet time ... and then turned it into a sprint after imposing an
      arbitrary deadline when I realized it was September and the start of the
      fall TV season (including Voyager) was rapidly approaching. So there. :)


      --
      Warning: This lengthy recap article contains plentiful spoilers for the
      seventh and final season of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."


      Nutshell: A season with flaws? Certainly. Nevertheless, I'm willing to call
      it one of DS9's--and Trek's--best overall seasons. I didn't get everything
      I wanted, but I certainly got a lot.

      -----
      Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -- Seventh Season Recap
      Capsule Reviews & Season Analysis

      For episodes airing from
      9/28/1998 to 5/31/1999 (USA)

      Series created by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
      Executive producers: Rick Berman & Ira Steven Behr

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      -----

      Well, this is it folks--my last posting for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
      As has been the case in past years, this summary takes the usual format:
      There are the capsule reviews in part one, followed by the season
      commentary in part two, and, this year, some closing thoughts in part
      three. What was accomplished this year? What was overlooked? I'll offer my
      take on the matter in this final installment of the "Jammer Review" for
      DS9. Feel free to agree, disagree, or punch your computer screen. Let's begin.

      --
      PART 1: CAPSULE REVIEWS

      "Image in the Sand" -- Airdate: 9/28/1998. Written by Ira Steven Behr &
      Hans Beimler. Directed by Les Landau.

      And so we set the stage with the first of the last. "Image in the Sand"
      plays like several of the "Final Chapter" installments: It's hard to judge
      on its own because its story destination is unclear and rides so much on
      what comes afterward. As DS9 goes, this episode was nicely presented, most
      notably through the pacing and continuity, but nothing groundbreaking.
      Dax's death had lingering effects for Worf; Sisko's self-imposed exile came
      to the beginning of its end through some interesting Prophet plotting and
      imagery; and Kira had her hands full with a Romulan political snafu that
      drew parallels to the previous season's "A Time to Stand." There's a lot
      here to digest, but it all remains interesting. It's a necessary piece of
      the larger DS9 puzzle.

      Rating out of 4: ***


      "Shadows and Symbols" -- Airdate: 10/5/1998. Written by Ira Steven Behr &
      Hans Beimler. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

      The key word for "Shadows and Symbols" is "suspense." Much like, again,
      many of the "Final Chapter" installments. Allan Kroeker turns the heat up,
      particularly as the Kira/Romulan subplot becomes a countdown to disaster.
      Meanwhile, three generations of Sisko venture into a desert while Worf
      ensures a place for Jadzia in Stovokor, with the help of O'Brien, Bashir,
      and Quark. (Quark?) The self-discoveries for Sisko are far-reaching,
      revealing his birth was arranged by the Prophets. The execution of the hour
      was nearly flawless, and I particularly liked the way the writers moved the
      nature of Sisko's relationship with the Prophets into new Trekkian
      envelope-pushing territory, which sets the stage for what we would later
      learn is part of Sisko's destiny and existence. Some very neat stuff--sort
      of "Star Wars"-esque.

      Rating: ***1/2


      "Afterimage" -- Airdate: 10/12/1998. Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed
      by Les Landau.

      "Afterimage" didn't do all that much to rivet me to the screen, and still
      doesn't. It was certainly a necessary show to acquaint us with Ezri. There
      was certainly nothing wrong with the hour as it unfolded. And the reactions
      of the other characters to the presence of this "new Dax" seemed
      reasonable. I suppose those reactions were just a little *too* reasonable
      and somehow lacking in punch. The Worf/Ezri dilemma made sense, I suppose,
      but it was still frustrating to watch, simply because it wouldn't be until
      the "Final Chapter" when Worf and Ezri would finally start confronting
      their problem instead of silently wallowing in it. I also had the sense
      that Ezri was a little too "goofily" confused (motormouthing away was cute
      but not very dramatic) when she should've been a little more darkly
      disturbed--but that's probably just my own opinion on botched Trill
      joinings. Overall, "Afterimage" is pleasant--a perfectly okay show that
      doesn't vie for the status of powerhouse.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" -- Airdate: 10/19/1998. Written by Ronald D.
      Moore. Directed by Chip Chalmers.

      Timing can be everything, and possibly no better time could've been picked
      to release a baseball episode than the year when baseball fully returned
      from a stint of national scorn and disinterest. Other than timing, what was
      good about this show? Well, the fact that we have a cast that is fun to
      watch and a premise that is as simple as a captain wanting to beat a rival
      captain. Yes, it's corny, contrived, obvious, and overplayed at times. But
      so what? It's fun. Watching Sisko blow up, then lighten up and put the
      Amazingly Incompetent Rom in the game is itself worth the view. And Odo as
      an ump? Me likes. All I ask from a Trek comedy is good spirits and an
      ability for the hour to leave me with a goofy grin on my face. This
      episode, while not an inspired comedy on par with, say, "In the Cards,"
      gets the job done nicely.

      Rating: ***


      "Chrysalis" -- Airdate: 10/26/1998. Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by
      Jonathan West.

      A surprisingly forgettable show, and four surprisingly tame role reprisals
      for Bashir's Lovable Crazies. This show was not unpleasant, was not badly
      performed, was not the least bit ill-conceived. But it wasn't much of
      anything else, either. The key word here is "pedestrian." The
      by-the-numbers romance between Bashir and Sarina honestly didn't strike me
      as anything more than a quota fulfillment, and the idea of essentially
      rehashing the bulk of "Flowers for Algernon" suffers from the fact that
      we're seeing the story through Bashir's eyes rather than Sarina's. We learn
      little, if anything, about Bashir we didn't already know, and the emotional
      impact ultimately isn't nearly enough to sustain the interest.

      Rating: **


      "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" -- Airdate: 11/2/1998. Teleplay by
      David Weddle & Bradley Thompson. Story by Philip Kim. Directed by Steve Posey.

      Now we're getting somewhere. "Treachery" is the best of several worlds,
      supplying a meaty return to the central story arc, a stellar analysis of
      the relationship between the Founders and the Vorta, and containing a
      wonderful set of performances from Jeffrey Combs as two very different yet
      still very alike Weyoun clones. (Whatever projects Combs has been involved
      with since DS9 wrapped, the creators are lucky to have him.) The episode
      plants plenty of interesting seeds that would pay off down the road (the
      disease in the Link, Damar's growing malcontent). In the meantime we have a
      very nice self-contained story involving Odo and the defecting Weyoun
      clone. The action makes sense and the dialog remembers the themes of
      selfless Dominion servitude a la "Rocks and Shoals." This is an interesting
      plot development episode but, more than that, an empathetic analysis of two
      tragic characters (Weyoun-6 and Odo).

      Rating: ***1/2


      "Once More Unto the Breach" -- Airdate: 11/9/1998. Written by Ronald D.
      Moore. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

      The best word for this episode is "classy." Somehow, you get the feeling
      this was written by a fan of the franchise as much as by one of its
      employees (which it was--one Ronald D. Moore). John Colicos' Kor is
      certainly worth an hour of screen time; I personally don't see how anybody
      could dislike this guy. The message behind the hour is one of painful
      obsolescence. The notion of a politically ostracized warrior now cast aside
      as a useless burden is powerfully drawn through Kor's humiliations and the
      things he has in common with the ship's yeoman, Darok. In one key scene,
      Kor responds to Martok's insults with a wonderful speech that makes Martok
      angry at himself for his own insolent mockery. Unfortunately, something
      about the ending and its off-screen battle just doesn't sit right, and the
      show sort of fizzles out. Too bad, because this would've been a classic had
      it provided a stronger finale. It's a very nice Klingon outing.

      Rating: ***


      "The Siege of AR-558" -- Airdate: 11/16/1998. Written by Ira Steven Behr &
      Hans Beimler. Directed by Winrich Kolbe.

      Like "Nor the Battle to the Strong," "AR-558" is one of DS9's great
      visceral experiences. So much of it is conveyed through atmosphere and
      photography (in a virtuoso Kolbe direction); a review will only get you so
      far. Powerful yet simple details of human jitters set the stage for a
      combat encounter that looms in the all-too-immediate future, until the
      entire setting takes on a sort of surreal quality. Meanwhile, Quark, Nog,
      and Sisko form the central core of some war polemics, as Quark's
      observations of the war-torn Starfleet battalion point out a human capacity
      for violence that lurks beneath the surface. Nog is the eager soldier whose
      world will come apart when he is injured. Sisko is the mission commander
      who must not hesitate in sending his soldiers to die. The story reveals a
      wartime pragmatism that is necessary but hardly uplifting. And the story
      puts a face on the millions of Federation soldiers whose sacrifices are
      typically reduced to throwaway dialog. "AR-558" is probably the best Trek
      war movie we'll likely get.

      Rating: ****


      "Covenant" -- Airdate: 11/23/1998. Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by
      John Kretchmer.

      There's plenty of interest in "Covenant," but there's also plenty that's
      suspect. Part of my job for an episode like this is to embrace
      contradiction and resist presumption, because we're talking about a group
      of cultists who are following blind faith rather than logic. But still,
      they're going to follow Dukat, one of the most hated men in Bajoran
      history? And they intend to follow him even if it's right over a cliff?
      With Kira's headstrong defiance during this mess, and then a Cardassian
      child--obviously Dukat's--being born to a Bajoran woman, one would think
      there'd be room for some sort of dissent within this cult. Alas, there
      isn't. And the cultists' 180-degree revolt at the end, as well as Kira's
      "Dukat is still dangerous" speech, prove far too simplistic. On the plus
      side, the Kira/Dukat interaction was good, and I'm of the opinion that
      Dukat's worship of the Paghwraiths put at least some grey back into his
      character (even if the finale wouldn't see it through). Intriguing but shaky.

      Rating: **1/2


      "It's Only a Paper Moon" -- Airdate: 12/28/1998. Teleplay by Ronald D.
      Moore. Story by David Mack & John J. Ordover. Directed by Anson Williams.

      In the year's sleeper hit, Nog is the central character in a well-played
      follow-up to "The Siege of AR-558." A quietly absorbing, pleasant, and
      believable hour, "Paper Moon" is the perfect example of how character
      consequences can be portrayed without requiring heavy serialization but by
      still acknowledging past episodes and sending a character in a specific
      direction (Voyager writers take note). The episode has lots of reasonable
      moments of post-traumatic stress featuring the ring of truth; one of Vic
      Fontaine's best employments; some rare-for-season-seven Jake/Nog
      interaction; Ezri getting some moments of clever psychology; Rom and Leeta
      portrayed as people rather than caricatures; and a general respect and
      affection for all of its characters. Pretty invigorating. If Jake had been
      given this sort of attention this season we'd be in great shape.

      Rating: ***1/2


      "Prodigal Daughter" -- Airdate: 1/4/1999. Written by Bradley Thompson &
      David Weddle. Directed by Victor Lobl.

      Among the quietest episodes in recent memory, "Prodigal Daughter" documents
      Ezri's homecoming, as she visits the family with which she has become
      somewhat estranged. On the positive side, this episode is one of the more
      low-key and competent tales of troubled family life that Trek has done. On
      the negative side, we have a plot involving O'Brien, Bilby's dead widow,
      the Orion Syndicate, and Ezri's family in a way that features one (or
      three) too many coincidences and as a result feels forced together. (A
      quiet family drama saddled with a follow-up to "Honor Among Thieves"
      strikes me as a bit of a muddle by definition.) The family dynamics of the
      Tigan household ring true for the most part, but the episode is hard to
      take as something more than lightweight filler with an occasional note of
      melodrama. Not bad, but not particularly memorable, mostly because it feels
      so disconnected from the series.

      Rating: **1/2


      "The Emperor's New Cloak" -- Airdate: 2/1/1999. Written by Ira Steven Behr
      & Hans Beimler. Directed by LeVar Burton.

      *Thud* went "Emperor's New Cloak," which ranks as the year's most obvious
      clunker. But what's most a shame here is the wasted potential of the mirror
      universe. It's been an unfolding mini-arc visited almost once per season
      since second season's "Crossover," yet here the creators don't think to tie
      up loose ends, especially involving the usually entertaining power struggle
      among Regent Worf, Intendant Kira, and Garak. Instead we get a hopelessly
      lame-brained plot filled with extremely unfunny Ferengi hijinks;
      offensively glib, wannabe-hip lesbianism; painfully stupid villains; and a
      lot of poorly conceived comic-book posturing that this time around fails to
      be even remotely fun. The result is a big, dumb bore--nothing one would've
      hoped or expected for DS9's final venture into the mirror universe.

      Rating: *


      "Field of Fire" -- Airdate: 2/8/1999. Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe.
      Directed by Tony Dow.

      It's a competent follow-up to "Rejoined," and a competent Trek murder
      mystery featuring an ingenious (if high on the opening-a-can-of-worms
      scale) tech murder weapon. And it's by far a better use of Ezri's dark side
      than the ineptitude of "The Emperor's New Cloak." Still, at this point it
      seems to be a bit of Ezri overload, and some of the show's obvious moral
      moments (Will Ezri give in to Joran and kill the defenseless Vulcan?) prove
      how much better a homicide works on a TV show that's about homicide every
      week. As an implementation of a police procedural with a sci-fi twist,
      "Field of Fire" fares okay but uncovers the murderer too swiftly. I
      initially defended Ezri uncovering the killer, but while I maintain that
      her deduction was possible, it *is* rather contrived. And Leigh J.
      McCloskey's turn as Joran was too theatrically stylized to be effective as
      believable psychological terror (though he conveys the smug sarcasm very
      well). I did like this as an Ezri-in-action installation, but it has a few
      too many rough spots, not enough lasting significance, and overlooks the
      fact that Ezri came face to face with violence just a few weeks before.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Chimera" -- Airdate: 2/15/1999. Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by
      Steve Posey.

      "Chimera," to me, is one of DS9's (and Trek's) all-time greatest moments.
      The Odo/Kira relationship has often been one of the series' most
      interesting, but after sixth season's "His Way" it became somewhat more
      routine by TV standards ... until this gem came along. As a romance, this
      episode is immensely moving, making every other Trek romance look pale in
      comparison. As a story about Odo's identity, this is a tour de force; Laas'
      presence brings with it all sorts of questions that exemplify the best of
      what Trek has to offer. Who are we, *really*, and why? How do others
      perceive us, and why? Echevarria's script is full of brilliant dialog
      touches and astute character speeches that say a great deal without
      sounding the least bit preachy. Laas (wonderfully played by J.G. Hertzler)
      is a sympathetic character whose prejudices and distrust are completely
      understandable, and when he kills a threatening Klingon we see all the
      interesting nuances of the Klingons' resulting search for "justice"
      (including Worf silently pondering the matter while in the background of
      one scene). It's an unfortunate situation that brings about some truly
      tough questions, bringing Odo back to wondering whether he belongs with
      "solids." Quark gets a thoughtful dialog scene, while Odo and Kira get to
      discuss their feelings in sincere ways that are, really, pretty
      groundbreaking. All the elements--the romance, the identity issues, the
      scrutiny of justice--come together to form a near-flawless hour that truly
      means something and inspires us to reflect upon that meaning. This is a
      masterpiece. (Did I mention that I liked it?)

      Rating: ****


      "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" -- Airdate: 2/22/1999. Written by Ira Steven Behr
      & Hans Beimler. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      It was a reasonable lightweight outing, but it was also a victim of bad
      timing, straining the patience of those of us who at this point were
      anxious to get back into the series' core material. It's all about style
      and inconsequential fun. It's *not* about lasting impact or significance.
      On the downside: an unexpected racial argument that is brought up and then
      quickly dropped; scenes between Kira and Franky Eyes that are stale and
      cliched; and the usual holodeck contrivances. On the upside: a clever caper
      plan that of course goes awry; an amiable, fourth-wall-breaking
      Darren/Brooks duet; and an appropriate sense of whimsy. Overall it's pretty
      entertaining (though not as much fun as "Take Me Out to the Holosuite").
      But if you take it away, what have we lost?

      Rating: **1/2


      "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" -- Airdate: 3/1/1999. Written by Ronald D.
      Moore. Directed by David Livingston.

      "Inter Arma..." embodies what I believe is a part of DS9's larger
      contribution to the Trek ideology: It challenges the core values of the
      Federation in ways that might be unthinkable on the other Trek series,
      thereby encouraging a growth of the franchise's scope. This is an episode
      with lots of great polemical dialog, wonderfully conveyed through the
      performances of William Sadler and Alexander Siddig. The plot, despite
      being more complex than is sometimes realistically believable (Sloan comes
      off as the greatest manipulator of all time), is an efficient,
      tightly-wound series of clever deceptions. What makes this so memorable,
      though, is its ability to argue the moral issues until we're not sure what
      is truly "best" for the Federation's survival--Sloan's ice-cold pragmatism
      or Bashir's unwavering idealism--when we consider the threats of our
      enemies. Admiral Ross' involvement in the plot only further demonstrates
      the tricky problem--we give in to our weaknesses during desperate times.
      The episode is as much a moral play as any classic TOS episode (showing the
      virtues of Bashir's moral code), but it goes beyond typical Trekkian
      bounds, and shows that the Federation is not perfect and that even ideal
      values can be subject to scrutiny.

      Rating: ****


      "Deep Space Nine: The Final Chapter" -- Devoting 10 hours to the series'
      ending saga wasn't simply a good idea; it was practically a necessity. The
      producers' willingness to make the final stretch of the series into a huge,
      ambitious storyline (against the studio's general wishes) is something I'm
      grateful for. Not everything here was handled in the best possible way
      (spending so much time on Ezri/Worf and Ezri/Bashir probably wasn't
      completely necessary, and the ball was dropped with "Extreme Measures"),
      but it was nice to see DS9 go out with some thinking ahead, a great deal of
      sensibility regarding its characters, and a storyline that felt "epic" in
      scope.


      "Penumbra" -- Airdate: 4/5/1999. Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by
      Steve Posey.

      The series' final stretch begins with this story centering on two romantic
      plots: Sisko proposes to Kasidy; Dax rescues Worf. Noteworthy is the
      internalized, low-key performance by Avery Brooks; the Sisko/Kasidy
      relationship has quite an impact. More predictable is the Worf/Dax angle,
      as their runabout is destroyed and they find themselves stranded with
      nothing to do but talk, argue, and have yadda-yadda sex--but at least they
      weren't ignoring each other anymore. Meanwhile, the Big Plot fires up: The
      Dominion's search for the cure to the Founders' disease shows no useful
      progress; the Female Shapeshifter turns up the Freon for Cold Beeyatch
      Mode; Damar bottoms out in pathetic status; the Breen enter the picture and
      kidnap Worf and Ezri; Dukat shows up with a devious plan; the Sarah-Prophet
      warns Sisko that marrying Kasidy will bring nothing but sorrow. [Gasp for
      air.] It's a lot set (or resumed) into motion, which makes for an engaging
      but not standout segment of the story arc.

      Rating: ***


      "'Til Death Do Us Part" -- Airdate: 4/12/1999. Written by David Weddle &
      Bradley Thompson. Directed by Winrich Kolbe.

      Strangely, it remains just as difficult to render judgment on some of these
      individual episodes as it was before I knew how the arc would play out.
      "'Til Death" is still a good setup show that skillfully conducts its
      suspense elements like an orchestra. Damar's realization of his level of
      pathetic-ness is nicely staged with a standout scene of silence. The
      Worf/Ezri/Breen storyline still proves too redundant (though reaching their
      understanding of each other slowly, through great difficulty, was probably
      a good thing). Dukat's wandering is interesting. Sisko's marriage is nice,
      and the promised consequences fearsome (though the wording of him knowing
      nothing but sorrow seems misleading in retrospect). Nothing is the primary
      storyline here; they're all important, and, as such, more pieces to a
      puzzle. The verdict: Good entertainment, little payoff.

      Rating: ***


      "Strange Bedfellows" -- Airdate: 4/19/1999. Written by Ronald D. Moore.
      Directed by Rene Auberjonois.

      And "Strange Bedfellows" did it again. I find myself almost automatically
      wanting to discuss plot for an episode like this, because plot is where the
      show is most involving. This time it was primarily Dukat/Winn venturing
      into new territory, although Worf/Ezri finally finds some pleasant
      resolution, and Damar busting them out of their cell plays as a microcosm
      for Cardassia's imminent uprising against the Dominion (who probably see
      the Cardassians as useless given their new alliance with the Breen). The
      show's standout scene is probably the Kira/Winn discussion, which shows
      Winn as genuinely and understandably lost but still so power hungry that
      she can't help but follow the Paghwraiths. The show is hurt somewhat by
      some truly excessive Evil Dialog at the end. Nevertheless, the theme for
      "Strange Bedfellows": an episode that reveals to the audience which way
      characters are heading for their final chapters.

      Rating: ***


      "The Changing Face of Evil" -- Airdate: 4/26/1999. Written by Ira Steven
      Behr & Hans Beimler. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      Knockout punch number one. After three weeks of intense plotting sans
      payoff, "Changing Face" explodes, providing a roller-coaster ride of
      characters committing themselves to new paths. Starfleet mounts a large
      battle, but before we get into that, we get some well-played comedy that
      reminds us these people are human beings. We get Weyoun duped by Damar in
      one of the most deliciously played ironic scenes in recent memory. By the
      time the battle is over, we have witnessed the destruction of the Defiant
      in a painfully vivid sequence. And shortly thereafter, we have Damar asking
      the Cardassian people to turn against the Dominion (in a scene that still
      makes me want to cheer). And, oh yeah--two words: Mike Vejar. This is
      simply a wonderfully entertaining thrill ride, done DS9 style, and packed
      with little character touches that make all the difference in the world.
      Not for one moment are the characters lost in the mayhem.

      Rating: ****


      "When it Rains..." -- Airdate: 5/3/1999. Teleplay by Rene Echevarria. Story
      by Rene Echevarria & Spike Steingasser. Directed by Michael Dorn.

      There's plenty of good material, particularly surrounding the great irony
      of the Cardassians in almost the exact situation the Bajorans were in
      during the Occupation. Kira allies with the Cardassian resistance movement,
      which is a brilliant signpost of change and characters coming full circle.
      As with other installments in the arc, there's tons going on and this is a
      middle segment with almost no internal resolution. "When it Rains..." is
      less effective than some of the other parts because it's one of the least
      satisfying on its own and comes off as a bit wooden in execution. And it
      comes screeching to a halt in a way that's almost jarring. But it offers a
      lot of ideas that are very much worth the time.

      Rating: ***


      "Tacking into the Wind" -- Airdate: 5/10/1999. Written by Ronald D. Moore.
      Directed by Mike Vejar.

      Knockout punch number two, which proves even better than knockout punch
      number one. The final arc's best episode, "Tacking" not only continues to
      move the plot along at breakneck speed, it's an episode that embodies much
      of the DS9 mythos. We see societies and movements facing internal problems
      that could bring down the whole war effort, and Ron Moore's script draws
      brilliantly conceived lines back through the histories of these individuals
      and societies. Kira's encounters with Rosot reveal an old-school Cardassian
      hard-liner whose attitudes are obsolete. Kira's encounters with Damar
      reveal a man with the courage to accept change; a quietly executed key
      Kira/Damar scene vividly exacerbates old wounds along with new. Meanwhile,
      Gowron's political foolishness leads Sisko to tell Worf to do "whatever it
      takes," in a scene that demonstrates just how much Starfleet has changed.
      And an Ezri/Worf conversation challenges the viability of the Klingon
      Empire given its willingness to tolerate its own kleptocracy. All of this
      is put in terms of the current conflict with the Dominion, making the
      stakes extremely high--but grounding the lasting significance in the terms
      of fictional societies that have solid, compelling histories, and futures
      we're inspired to imagine. (And, oh yeah--two words: Mike Vejar.) It's
      absolutely fascinating to watch play out, and provides one of the best
      representations of what DS9 is all about. Call it a tie with "Chimera" for
      best of the season.

      Rating: ****


      "Extreme Measures" -- Airdate: 5/17/1999. Written by Bradley Thompson &
      David Weddle. Directed by Steve Posey.

      Unfortunately, if there's an episode that most hurts the larger scheme of
      things, it's "Extreme Measures." Here's an episode that by definition
      should've been the writers' last word in answering many of the moral
      questions that the Dominion War and Section 31 have provided for this
      series. All the ingredients are here: Sloan, Bashir, and the titular
      "extreme measures" involving illegal Romulan mind probes. But many of the
      most important issues are never discussed. Instead, for reasons I can
      barely fathom, the writers turned this into a routine Virtual-Reality
      Adventure [TM] replete with all the VR cliches. And there's a lot of wasted
      time, like extended scenes of Bashir and O'Brien in a falling turbolift or
      lying wounded in a corridor. The banter is first-rate Bashir/O'Brien stuff
      (the "I like you a bit more" routine is classic), but it's simply
      inappropriate under these circumstances. And, unfortunately, the Section 31
      moral dilemma feels like it never received the closing chapter it clearly
      deserved. Overall, not a complete loser, but clearly the season's biggest
      disappointment.

      Rating: **


      "The Dogs of War" -- Airdate: 5/24/1999. Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore & Rene
      Echevarria. Story by Peter Allan Fields. Directed by Avery Brooks.

      Present here is more backdrop for the finale involving the destruction of
      the organized Cardassian resistance and Damar/Kira/Garak taking the
      struggle to the streets, which is necessary and intriguing. And there's
      talk of the war's upcoming final assault on Cardassia Prime. However, on
      its own, this episode might be more easily remembered as the closing of the
      book on Quark and the Ferengi. As such, it's surprisingly tolerable,
      underlining the fact that Ferenginar has changed while Quark--who will
      continue to cling to yesterday's values, today rendered obsolete--has not.
      It doesn't make up for years of lame Ferengi episodes and a Ferengi society
      whose drastic change in the past two years is scarcely believable ... but
      it does send Quark and the Ferengi out with some dignity, and for that I'm
      pleased.

      Rating: ***


      "What You Leave Behind" -- Airdate: 5/31/1999. Written by Ira Steven Behr &
      Hans Beimler. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

      It's possible that your opinion of this season was largely decided by how
      effective you found the final episode, simply because the final episode had
      to resolve so much of what was set up in the preceding eight shows (and
      before). It's certainly true there are plenty of things that I might've
      liked to see in this last episode that weren't present. But it's also true
      that a great deal of what needed to be said was said. As a final "event"
      episode to tie up the threads, this episode worked and worked well. All the
      characters got appropriate final moments and goodbyes, and Kroeker's
      direction over this huge project was incredibly well paced. The one true
      weakness--the unsatisfying conclusion to the Sisko/Dukat/Winn
      showdown--hurts, but certainly not enough to bring down the show. The
      bottom line: undeniably flawed ... but still a riveting, satisfying ride.
      We'll look at all the consequences below in the season analysis.

      Rating: ***1/2


      --
      PART 2: SEASON ANALYSIS

      So, Deep Space Nine is over and done with. And there are still stories that
      could be told. Stories that, if I were expecting another season, I would
      say should be told. Of course, they won't be told. (If you're holding out
      for a DS9 movie, whether in theatrical release or on TV, my advice is not
      to hold your breath.) Did this season cover as much ground as it possibly
      could've? Probably not. Cover as much ground as it *should've*? I
      dunno--possibly not. There are a couple big things that at season's outset
      I would've said were "mandatory" to cover but now must accept as
      unfinished. And, of course, there were other moments this season that
      happened which I wouldn't have minded had they been omitted.

      But in looking back at this season, I think DS9 was about as ambitious as
      it's ever been--and certainly as solid in terms of quality. Despite the
      missteps, despite the fact some things went undone, despite the fact some
      ideas weren't taken quite as far as they could've been, DS9's seventh
      season goes down as one of Trek's most engaging and well-thought-out
      seasons--in my book, anyway.

      Is DS9 the same series it was when in premiered in 1993? I would say yes
      and no. (Is that the lame, easy way out of the question? Maybe, but I also
      happen to think it's true.) Some elements from those first two seasons were
      retained. Some evolved. Some were thrown out or forgotten. The focus of the
      show shifted from time to time, sometimes jarringly. (Season three's
      premiere, "The Search," and season four's premiere, "The Way of the
      Warrior," both attempted to reinvent the series with great suddenness.) But
      through all the plot changes, we still had the most important aspect of
      DS9--watchable, believable characters. These were people whom we could care
      about. Despite the fact we're talking about a sci-fi/fantasy genre cast,
      there's always been something about Sisko and his crew that had a ring of
      truth to them. It's sometimes hard to put my finger on what exactly that
      is. It's a feeling that I don't nearly as often get the with some other
      series, like Voyager, for instance.

      Anyway, even the best characters need to populate good stories to be
      useful, and the question for season seven was what stories we would get.
      This is a series that specialized in setting up dozens of storylines and
      elements--sometimes too many--and those elements would at times go
      unresolved. Season seven was a season that covered a lot of ground,
      particularly in its final 11 hours.

      Now, I'll talk about the oversights in a moment, but first I'd like to
      discuss the major themes for this season. Unlike the stand-alone attitudes
      of a Voyager season, most episodes of DS9 seem to be coming from somewhere
      and heading somewhere. Yes, ongoing stories grew out of multi-part
      episodes. But they also grew out of previous seasons and a general care for
      maintaining a bigger picture--one that was sometimes most rewarding to
      those of us in for the long haul.

      To be specific, I point for starters to the two big winners of the season:
      "Chimera" and "Tacking into the Wind." Both of these stories took
      characters whose histories we knew so well and seamlessly melded those
      histories into the storyline. "Chimera" took advantage of a long-standing
      relationship (Odo/Kira) and a long-standing crisis of the self (Odo feeling
      the call to the Link). "Tacking" played with the societal histories of
      almost every power involved in the war, but the real standout were the
      characters of Kira and Damar and the acknowledged parallels of Cardassia's
      plight and the past-but-never-forgotten Bajoran Occupation. Both episodes
      are Trekkian masterpieces, albeit for different reasons. "Chimera" was
      inspired more by the classic Trek sense of storytelling, deeply exploring a
      few characters upon the appearance of a guest character who harbors a
      unique perspective. "Tacking," on the other hand, qualifies as
      quintessential DS9 following the themes laid out by DS9. I guess you could
      say it's more a DS9 episode than it is a Star Trek episode, showing how DS9
      exists as a Trek product with its own identity and unique set of themes.

      It's the ability for DS9 to have its own identity that I believe makes it
      so worthwhile in terms of the Star Trek franchise. I've mentioned this
      before in other articles and reviews, but over the past two years,
      particularly with the war storylines and the introduction of Section 31,
      DS9 has put its own spin on the idea of the Star Trek moral play. "In the
      Pale Moonlight" was the best example, but this year we had one nearly as
      good in terms of underlying, growing implications--"Inter Arma Enim Silent
      Leges"--which had lingering moral consequences that would echo through the
      season. I'd argue that the sense of storytelling involving Trekkian
      morality was even more well-thought-out this season than ever before. For
      the first time, I got the sense that the writers were taking some risks and
      heading into uncharted waters--which, given Voyager's problems, is exactly
      what this franchise needs. Do I think DS9 abandoned the revered Trekkian
      morality? Not at all. What DS9 did was ask whether those values could
      survive a war, and showed that the Federation is both flawed and fallible.
      Season seven is where a lot of such arguments were presented.

      Of course, like in season six, with the war and more focus on Federation
      morality, there was less focus on Bajoran society. The Bajoran political
      situation, a reliable element from the series' roots, was again absent this
      season. On the other hand, the subject of a Cardassia left in ruins proved
      beyond any doubt that the writers still remembered where the series had
      originated. Seeing the series come full circle in at least this regard is
      among the best things about this season. "What You Leave Behind" may have
      been missing some important elements, but it certainly didn't forget where
      the series began.

      Like most other seasons, DS9 did not spend all its time on its "core
      material." There were, of course, stand-alone episodes that didn't greatly
      affect the larger picture. One of the more pervasive arguments I've seen
      against the past two seasons has been that the war is too frequently
      missing from the storylines. Personally, I won't be jumping onto that
      critical bandwagon. I would certainly say there were moments this season
      that tried my patience. (Like with season six, there was that period of
      fluff and temporary aimlessness that characterized some patches after New
      Year's.) But I wouldn't at all say that a lack of war-based storylines or
      dialog was the problem. As much as the war was important to this season, I
      had few qualms with DS9 breaking away for a stand-alone non-war-based
      episode. Besides, I personally don't think anyone would be happy with a
      Trek series that featured constant warfare. I like that DS9 would tell a
      variety of stories without forgetting about what was important. No, I
      wasn't always happy with the weird momentum shifts, but the variety was
      fine, and generally wasn't to the detriment of the whole.

      As most people have probably figured out by now (if not long ago), I
      consider DS9 to be the best of the Trek series. It has told the most
      stories that are in line with what I want to see on Trek, maintaining
      optimism but also factoring in sobering doses of skepticism and caution.
      Where does season seven rank in the DS9 scheme? I can't say I found any of
      the seasons to fall into the minus column overall (although third season's
      unevenness would probably be the closest). I'm not exactly sure how to
      quantify such things, but my favorite overall seasons are two, five, and
      seven (not necessarily in that order). Season two had a lot of very strong
      stories and a good emphasis on the Bajoran political aspects. Season five
      provided the development for what arguably would form DS9's longest-lasting
      elements. And season seven was a further exploration of the series' more
      challenging themes and convoluted plots.

      DS9 featured many different characters and a wide variety of material, so
      perhaps the easiest way to look at the season's most important aspects
      would be in shorter snippets. Here's a listing of the most significant
      successes and shortcomings of this season.


      MAJOR ASPECTS DS9 GOT RIGHT THIS YEAR

      1. Damar and the Cardassian rebellion -- Few big plots could work this
      well, not only in being foreshadowed so far in advance (nearly two years,
      one could argue), but growing logically out of a character's trajectory and
      attitudes. Damar went from a relatively minor thug to an important piece of
      the series. (DS9's focus on all its guest characters is one of the things I
      really enjoyed.) I think Damar's death might not have been the best way to
      use him in the finale (he might've been more useful as a symbol for
      Cardassia's future), but the writers' use of Damar as a symbol of
      Cardassian change was brilliant. The Cardassian resistance was a plot
      element that I've been anticipating since the beginning of season six--and
      when something seems that inevitable, I think that's a clear indication the
      creators are doing something very right.

      2. Kira goes to Cardassia -- An extension of item #1, but from perhaps the
      most important perspective. By dropping a character into the action who had
      previously been in a similar situation--only at the hands of those whom she
      must now help--we could see the parallels and debates fast arising. (Go
      back and watch "Tacking into the Wind" and you'll know what I mean.) Kira
      is a character who has truly grown since "Emissary," from justifiably
      hating the Cardassians to fighting alongside them for a greater good. This
      plot displays her as a true heroine, in action and in attitude.

      3. The Cardassian fall -- Yet another extension of item #1 (which shows
      just how right the final Cardassian arc was), and a nice finish to a great
      idea. It seemed pretty clear that the Federation could not fall, but
      through the focus on the Cardassians' role in the turn of the war we also
      could see and feel the side of some *major* losses. Garak became the
      Cardassian patriot who, ironically, ended his exile by returning to a world
      now destroyed and unlikely to ever again be the Cardassia he knew and loved.

      4. Wartime moral issues -- I've already discussed these at length, so I
      won't do it again, but such issues are one of the main things for which DS9
      will be remembered, and the seventh season featured them perhaps the most
      pervasively.

      5. Kira/Odo -- Whodathunkit? What prompted many a viewer's trepidation back
      in "His Way" turned out to be one of the most believable bonds imaginable,
      because (1) they were well written full with deep mutual understanding, and
      (2) Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois sell their material so well. I doubt
      I was the only one fighting back tears when Odo walked off into the Great
      Link--and, hell, I'm a guy! (Heh.)

      6. Long-term thinking -- It's the glue that held together the season, if
      not the series. There were lapses in credibility here and there, but the
      series was well served by the writers simply thinking about what they
      wanted to do, and planting seeds ahead of time so that major events--like
      Damar's defection--would make sense down the road. (To the creators of
      Voyager: This should be your pattern for telling some stories.)

      7. Riskier stories -- I must give credit to DS9 for trying things, even
      though such things didn't always work. For a late-in-series example, I
      liked the idea of the Prophets and Paghwraiths being brought into the core
      of the story. I didn't like that they were utilized as magical entities
      that would sometimes substitute for common sense, but like I said, the
      writers tried. Other risks, like the idea of Section 31 manufacturing
      genocide, were somewhat edgier by Trek standards.

      8. Tasteful sendoffs -- "What You Leave Behind" had shortcomings, but it
      sent the characters off in directions that basically made sense and closed
      the book in ways that were satisfying. Some characters stayed on the
      station while others did not, which strikes me as a realistic change in
      times. Strangely, the writers walked a dangerous line in some cases and got
      away with it working anyway: A huge example is Sisko's "change in
      existence." This is something that leaves me baffled as whether to accept
      the character as "killed off" or as suspended in limbo until the writers
      change their minds. The weird thing is finding that I'm again reminding
      myself that there are no minds to change, because what we've seen is all we
      get. It's over. It makes a nice dramatic end, yet I'm still half hoping
      there's more to it. It's frustrating yet satisfying and bittersweet all at
      once. Are we all being cleverly manipulated? If so, it's working.


      MAJOR ASPECTS WHERE DS9 FELL SHORT OR FEATURED A GLARING OMISSION

      1. Bajor's entry into the Federation -- Far and away, this was the thing
      that seemed to me as the most obvious long-term aspect of the series that
      did not get the resolution it deserved. Sisko's original mission in
      "Emissary" was to ensure the Bajorans were ready for Federation approval.
      While he was successful in that mission and Bajor was approved in fifth
      season's "Rapture," Bajor's actual entry was something I expected would be
      re-addressed this season--and it wasn't. Even if Bajor didn't join the
      Federation, it would've been nice to have some dialog devoted to the
      matter. Instead, what we have is Kira running the station, which is fine
      and good. But where is Bajor now that the music has stopped?

      2. Internal Bajoran political situations -- Similar to item #1. While we
      had plenty of stuff involving Winn, Dukat, and the Paghwraiths, all of this
      had zero impact (as far as we were shown, anyway) on Bajor as a world.
      Whereas we could see the people of Cardassia taking action in attacking
      their problem, we saw nothing of Bajor, and that feels like an
      oversimplistic cheat. Bajoran politics used to be important on this series,
      and it's a shame that we couldn't get something more than a single line
      about the next possible Kai in "What You Leave Behind." I have to agree
      with what I read in another review a few months back: It seemed like Bajor
      had about three people living on it, and that hasn't always been the case
      in the past. Just one or two supporting characters (like the vedek in
      "Rocks and Shoals") with something interesting to say could've made a big
      difference.

      3. The final Sisko/Dukat/Winn collision -- Of the things we did see on the
      screen, this was one of the important things that I thought was
      disappointing. This was something that could've answered a great many
      questions about Dukat and his relationship with Sisko and Bajor. Back in
      "Waltz" Dukat was a guy who wanted Bajoran acceptance so badly it hurt. Why
      couldn't we get more dialog arising from that, and tie it back in with the
      Paghwraiths? I genuinely think this was possible, and in a way that
      would've revealed many more interesting psychological aspects of Dukat's
      problems. This in turn might've given Sisko a more interesting ultimate
      role as the Emissary than his heroic dive into the fires of hell. And what
      about Kai Winn? She's killed and we don't get much payoff in terms of
      larger consequences (see item #2). Everything leading up to this payoff
      made sense, but having "What You Leave Behind" turn this into an archetypal
      struggle of good versus evil is not even close to the best way of
      exploiting the key strengths of these characters and their relationships.
      Also, the Paghwraiths themselves became a little too concrete, and their
      motives seemed on par with comic-book villains.

      4. Jake Sisko -- Quite simply, he wasn't given enough to *do*. Who is this
      guy anymore, aside from being Sisko's son? The issue of Jake being a writer
      was ignored even more than it was during season six. Part of the problem
      may be that Cirroc Lofton wasn't in a lot of the episodes, but a bigger
      part of the problem is that the writers didn't set any goals or directions
      for him. He simply reacted to situations (mostly relating to his father),
      and that seems like a waste of a character. (And no goodbye to his father?
      What a shame.) Even one good episode like "Nor the Battle to the Strong" or
      "In the Cards" would've made a big difference. Ideally, the writers
      should've given him a mini-arc like they gave Nog. The producers even
      admitted at one point that they had "dropped the ball" with Jake and had
      run out of time. At least they were aware of the problem, but that's still
      cold comfort. Jake most resembles your average Voyager character--a
      well-established personality not put to much use.

      5. "Extreme Measures" -- Read the capsule review above (or even my original
      review) for the full story. This is worth special mention because it was so
      high in potential for being classic DS9, but was instead an extreme
      letdown. I don't think it takes away from "Inter Arma" but it could've made
      the Section 31/Dominion War saga even more powerful.

      6. The Breen -- Just who *are* these guys, anyway? The series introduced
      them into the game so very late, and none of them could be called
      characters (all they did was stand around and expel electronic noises). The
      optimist in me realizes the Breen ultimately aren't that important--they
      were just a catalyst for the Cardassian insurgence--but in and by
      themselves they're plot pieces plain and simple, given no motivation by the
      writers for their alliance with the Dominion. They served their primary
      purpose, but it's still a bit shoddy.

      7. The Wish List -- Some minor stuff that probably wasn't crucial: It
      would've been really nice to see the follow-up to Kai Opaka's promise in
      "Battle Lines." It would've been nice to have Sisko go into the mirror
      universe one last time (rather than having that travesty called "Emperor's
      New Cloak"). O'Brien could've had a meatier show as the central character
      (Meaney was game as always, but O'Brien was a supporting character that had
      little new to do).

      8. Miscellaneous plotting details -- It would've also been nice to see the
      little things gained throughout the war actually pay off in more tangible
      ways from time to time. For example, holding off the Jem'Hadar and
      maintaining control of the communications array in "The Siege of AR-558"
      was supposedly a major victory. Why not actually show that in some way down
      the road, or at least again mention this all-important communications array
      in dialog? There are other similar details along these lines that could've
      been fleshed out a little better, but the writers generally chose to press
      on and not look back. I guess that while some puzzle pieces are huge and
      important, others were simply intended to be forgotten afterward.


      All in all, I have my complaints, but I don't have serious problems with
      this season, which offered plenty to be a satisfying final ride for a
      generally very solid series. Looking at the numbers, I find that this
      season had only one out-and-out loser ("Emperor's New Cloak"), one major
      disappointment ("Extreme Measures"), and one forgettable mediocre show
      ("Chrysalis"). Everything else was okay at worst ("Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang"
      would be the next-lowest, but is still probably worth a view), or classic
      at best. There were five that I rank in the four-star, absolutely-must-see
      position ("Tacking, "Chimera," "Changing Face," "Inter Arma," and
      "AR-558"), the first two of which harbor some of the series' greatest
      moments. The week-to-week quality was consistently high.

      The bottom line is that I enjoyed this season plenty. And in looking at
      what it had to accomplish in a limited amount of time in ways that would
      satisfy the most viewers, I think the creators pulled off quite a job. I
      didn't expect perfection and I certainly wouldn't say we got it. But a
      stellar season and a good end to DS9--yes, without a doubt.


      --
      PART 3: CLOSING COMMENTS

      So, I guess it's about time for the Inevitably Gratuitous Personal Farewell
      Look-Back Statement [TM]. Of course I can't resist.

      I've been at this awhile. Certainly not as long as some people online, but
      a good while spanning some important years in my life. When I started
      writing these things I hadn't quite graduated from high school, and now as
      I finish up this last DS9 posting, I'm a college grad working a full-time
      job (though still undecided where I intend to go in life). The first DS9
      review I wrote was in the spring of 1994. I had been the movie reviewer for
      my high school paper, and for more practice I wanted to take a shot at
      something that wouldn't cost me $6 a view. I'd seen some TV reviews of TNG
      and other shows in some sci-fi magazines, and with DS9 nearing the end of
      its second season, I decided to give it a try myself. I launched the word
      processor and typed away, writing reviews that were shorter (and much, much
      rougher) than my typical capsules are today. At the time, I hadn't logged
      onto the Internet even once, and wouldn't for several months. For
      completion's sake, those second-season reviews would later be completely
      rethought and rewritten in 1997; if I have my way, the originals will
      never, ever again see the light of day.

      Since I started posting these reviews, I've found a sort of interesting
      niche on the Internet. When I first logged on in the fall of 1994, I found
      the Trek newsgroups had opinions of the various shows spanning all the
      series, with comments ranging from "it's the greatest ever" to "it
      absolutely sucks." Never had I seen so many virtual voices on such an
      interesting medium discussing such a specific topic. Naturally, I wanted
      in. Now there's no way out. Not that I want out--not yet. This is probably
      the best hobby I've ever had--and the first hobby I had that at times felt
      like a job.

      In early 1995, I put what few reviews I had on the Web. I had no idea how
      to build a decent Web site, but I certainly was going to try. Now when I
      get up to go to work in the morning, I got to work with Web sites all day.
      Funny how the dominoes are placed; you can't tell where they're leading
      until they've started to fall.

      Sure, I enjoy the Web design and administration aspects of this endeavor,
      and I've learned quite a bit over the years. But the writing is why I do
      these reviews, no doubt about it. It's fun to take a position and argue it.
      With DS9 I felt the reviews were particularly worthwhile, because there
      were often issues to discuss that required me to think about the episode a
      little more thoroughly than I might've had I not been writing about it. It
      was nice to eventually find an audience interested in this sort of thing,
      but I must confess I never expected to get e-mail from overseas telling me
      the reviews were useful in making videotape purchase decisions. I never
      thought I'd see the reviews used proactively.

      DS9 had a great run. It wasn't always great (what show is?), but for seven
      seasons its writers kept me constantly interested in the where the stories
      and characters would travel and, finally, end up. DS9 strikes me as a show
      with a cast, crew, and writers who enjoyed what they were doing and were
      good at it. And it has been fun writing about the show for the past few
      years--even the really bad shows. My thanks go out to everyone involved in
      producing the show for bringing us an entertaining incarnation of Trek that
      tried to be different.

      And thanks, everyone, for reading and offering feedback, comments, debate,
      and support. Through work and my education, I learned a lot about writing
      over the past five years. But, strange as it might sound, I'd say writing
      these reviews was possibly the most important part of the process. It was
      the one source of constant work that kept me on a quasi-deadline and was
      still fun to do.

      But what am I blathering on about? I'm not going anywhere. After all,
      Voyager starts up again in a little over a week. I hope to see you then.
      Maybe you aren't a Voyager viewer. I understand. After all, Voyager is
      certainly no DS9. The point is, for me, a lot of things started with this
      series. Now it's over and goodbye. Yeah, it's just a TV show. But I've
      invested countless hours writing about it, and I've gotten more out of it
      than I ever had imagined when I started. So maybe for me it's more than
      just a TV show after all.

      If you won't be joining me on the Voyager side, take care. It's been fun
      having your ear, and even more fun trying to be an earful.

      Over and out. May our paghs meet again.

      -----
      Copyright (c) 1999 by Jamahl Epsicokhan, all rights reserved. Unauthorized
      reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.