Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 7 Review

Wow, here we are. The final season. It's been a long journey, due to my schedule being unable to allow me to burn through these shows like you guys do.

"Image in the Sand" & "Shadows and Symbols"
What a great way to start a season. No big action-y ratings ploy, just a story, and the right story that needed to be told, with all the pacing and beats in the right place because it's spread out over two parts -- and spread out properly, with the break in the right place. If anything, these two episodes make "Tears of the Prophets" better by being the follow-up. That episode still has problems, but these episodes really expand on the ideas that the season six finale didn't have time to explore. Of everything, I only have two problems with the episodes -- one is that the Pagh-wraith Cult threat set up in Part 1 never goes anywhere in Part 2, and the other is that Sisko veers a little too far into crazy in Part 2, because of the way the Benny vision is intercut. It has always seemed so far that Sisko's visions are more or less instantaneous for him, but here we have the Benny vision happening simultaneously with Sisko's actions (or in-action), which makes it seem like Sisko is not in control of his own actions, which makes his fulfillment of the Prophecy seem less substantial in the end. But other than that, this is a great pair of shows that opens up a universe of possibilities for Season 7. Not the least of which is Ezri Dax, who is absolutely great.


Basically our "getting to know Ezri" episode. Its great. She's great. I had a ball of a time. My only nitpick is that the counseling scenes aren't written that great. I know Ezri's going through a lot, but it's a little too inept. I wish the episode had said that it was partly an act on her part to disarm Garak, as opposed to making her triumph largely accidental. Other than that, no complaints -- it hits the right spot, especially in regards to how the characters react to Ezri. Nicole de Boer does an AMAZING job playing a character who is, but isn't, Jadzia. It REALLY sells the whole Trill symbiont thing in a way that talking about it for 6 years never quite did.

"Take Me Out to the Holosuite"
Quite possibly one of the best episodes the show ever did. I could not stop smiling, or laughing for that matter. Pure gold.

I get what they were going for, and its all very sincere, but it was dull. Nothing we see here is something I haven't seen before on DS9. Felt like "Melora, Take 2" in a lot of ways. Although Serina is a much better character, and the actress is a delight.

"Treachery, Faith and the Great River"

Brilliant. I love how the title applies equally to both plots. So good.

"Once More Unto the Breach"
Also brilliant. A perfect send off to Kor. I believe in the legend.

"The Siege of AR-558"
Absolutely, positively, fucking brilliant. One of the best all-time Trek episodes. I don't care what any fucking second generation VOY lovers say, it's one thing to talk about how war is awful, blah blah blah, it's another to SHOW IT. And in a visual media, well, let's just say this episode is powerful. And good. Very, very good.


Yet another intriguing entry in the Dukat saga. It feels a little odd, how few appearances Dukat has made since he went crazy-go-nuts back in "Waltz", but I liked this entry for how believably it built on elements from past episodes. It was also interesting to see Kira put on the other side of the religion issue for once, hearing OTHER people try to tell her it's all about the power of blind faith. It's a subtle element to the show, but a neat one. Overall, the show is a pretty accurate portrayal of the craziness of cults, and as always, the craziness of Dukat is fun to examine.

"It's Only a Paper Moon"
Along with it's necessary predecessor, "Siege of AR-558", this is one of DS9's finest hours. That episode showed that war is brutal and inhuman, not glorious -- this one shows the real consequences. We finally see a situation where a counselor makes sense (dealing with PTSD) and Ezri gets some good stuff in this episode, but its Nog and Vic who shine the most. Isn't it amazing how much Nog grew as a character? From the scruffy little thief of season 1 to this? Damn DS9 is great. I also liked the subtle exploration of the dangers of retreating from reality into a fantasy world -- a theme that echoes through Trek all the way back to "The Cage", and a theme Trekkers seem sometimes all too eager to ignore. "It's Only a Paper Moon" is one of my all time DS9 favourites.

"Prodigal Daughter"
I was bracing myself, because what I had heard from fandom was that this wasn't a very good episode. But ultimately, I didn't find myself thinking in terms of good or bad when it was over. All I could think was "that was fucked up". This was one of those DS9 episodes that really takes pleasure in just leaving the audience unsettled, with no easy answers, and no real hope in humanity. Miles goes looking for the widow of the man he betrayed, but it turns out she's been killed by Ezri's kid brother, who has been driven psycho by his ambitious mother, who aside from her overzealous passion, only ever meant well. It's some seriously fucked up shit. And when the episode ends, she has to go back to the station with the knowledge that her gifted and artistic brother has been sentenced to 30 years, and gets no sympathy from Miles. Ouch, DS9. Ouch.
Yeah, so I think it's a good episode.

"The Emperor's New Cloak"

One last fun romp through the Mirror Universe. This episode really feels like the writer's are doing it just for the hell of it, one last Mirror episode just cause it's season 7. You know that no one's taking things too seriously when they take the two birds/one stone approach and make it this year's Ferengi comedy episode as well. I kinda wish the Mirror Universe had gotten a better, more insightful send-off than this, but I guess the real finale for that story arc on this show was "Shattered Mirror" back in Season 4. This and "Resurrection" are basically just afterthoughts and epilogues. Ah, well. It's fun at least.

"Field of Fire"
A great episode. Great use of Ezri and the Dax symbiont. I love all the murder mystery details, from the TR-116 rifle and it's ingenious methods to the idea of a Vulcan driven to become a serial killer by the Dominion War. Great ideas, great execution. Good stuff.

A great exploration of Odo and Kira's relationship, a fantastic set-up for Odo's eventual character arc, an insightful examination of the difference between solids and changelings WITHOUT the baggage of "the Founders are evil", and for once a guest star alien who wants to change the status quo but who DOESN'T have evil ulterior motives. Instead of the plot forcing Odo's hand as to which way he'll choose, the characters are allowed to interact and examine themselves naturally. This is an extremely well written and well performed episode.

"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
This is one of my favourite DS9 episodes. I love Sloan, Section 31, Romulans, Admiral Ross, and Bashir, so naturally an episode throwing them all together is dynamite. I also love plots like this one, involving plans within plans within plans. Sloan is, essentially, Star Trek Batman. He's great. I love the way this episode gets us thinking about what the Alpha Quadrant will be like AFTER the war. I love, well, pretty much everything about this episode.

"Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang"
Sisko's Eleven. Nuff said. If you don't like this episode, I don't think we can be friends. Pretty much perfect, and loads of fun. "Bride of Chaotica!" (VOY) couldv'e learned a lot from this show. Also, Sisko and Fontaine singing "Best is Yet to Come"? Not only awesome, but totally true.

SO excited to be heading into THE FINAL CHAPTER!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3fObaejFOE

"Penumbra/Til Death Do Us Part/Strange Bedfellows/The Changing Face of Evil"

I watched these four all in one go so it's a little hard to seperate my thoughts on them. Basically "Penumbra" was a good lead-in, slowly getting the ball rolling, mainly focused on Sisko/Kassidy and Ezri/Worf. Then we head into "Til Death Do Us Part" which brings us Sisko marrying Kassidy, Worf and Ezri fucking, and the insanely creepy Dukat/Winn team-up. Oh, and the Breen ally with the Dominion. Which brings us to "Strange Bedfellows" where everything gets better -- Worf snapping Weyoun's neck (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YoPXogkXsk) is a moment only bested by http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kJAIKLbhdk. In fact, Weyoun/Damar may be the best duo in a series based around great duos. Then we get "Changing Face of Evil", where Dukat and Winn have truly joined forces to unleash the Pagh-Wraiths, the Breen fucking WRECK Earth, and the Defiant is destroyed when the Dominion retakes Chin'toka.
In and amidst all this, Bashir and O'Brien's holodeck Alamo obsession moves into the real world with a model, Ezri discovers she loves Julian, and the Founders are all dying of a mysterious illness.
And the Prophets don't want Ben getting married.
Btw -- this show is awesome.
Too good.
I have narry a bad thing to say.
Fuck it's gonna suck when it's over and all I have left is VOY.
"When It Rains..."/"Tacking into the Wind"'

Another awesome pair of Final Chapter episodes -- the entire Kira, Damar, and the Cardassian Resistance storyline is just gold. I love seeing Kira in a Starfleet uniform, and the irony of it all is delicious. Also -- Damar. Maybe the best character arc on DS9 ever, next to Nog. I mean, I just love seeing this guy pull himself out of his kanar induced self-pity and become the Hero of Cardassia over the past few episodes. The moment when he shoots Rusot, declaring the old Cardassia dead just cements Damar as one of the greatest heroes of Star Trek -- even after all his mistakes, Damar knows that Cardassia can't survive if they just go back to business as usual.
Also, the Worf/Martok/Gowron stuff? Also golden. It really plays well when you've been watching since TNG, with all Worf has been through with the Klingons and Martok and so on. I love the scene where Ezri just lays it all on the table, that all this Klingon honour and integrity is bullshit posturing -- these guys backstab each other more than the Romulans. And I love that it's Ron Moore writing it, the guy who prolly did more to develop all that Klingon honour crap more than anyone.

"Extreme Measures"
I've heard a lot of people call this the "weak link" of the Final Chapter, but frankly they can all go fuck themselves. I think it must be because it's so centrally focused on Miles, Julian and Sloan that we get nothing of the other arcs, but whatever. That means that we can really do a good job examining this plot thread. And this episode is fantastic -- Miles and Julian go on one last big adventure to stop Section 31 and it's INCEPTION! BRAAHHM! Anyway, everyone's just on top of their games, but the finest scene of all is the one where Miles and Julian think they're going to die and Julian tries to get Miles to admit he likes him "just a little bit more" than Keiko. I love these guys, their friendship, and this show. Glorious episode.

"The Dogs of War"

Some movement on the Cardassian Revolution Front (I love Damar, Folk Hero), some movement in the Sorrow of the Siskos Saga, but mainly this is about wrapping up the Ferengi plotlines. I like the way this happens -- it's unexpected that Nog ends up as Nagus, but it's not totally out of the blue in retrospect with the way things had been going. And I love Quark's righteous indignation, that his bar is the "last outpost" (har har) of the true Ferengi Way. I had to stop the episode after he quoted Picard I was laughing so hard. All in all, while a lot of stuff happens this hour, it's basically the deep breath before the plunge.

Now THIS is how you end a show. Undoubtably the BEST Trek finale bar none. "Endgame" should've been structured more like this, with Voyager getting home with a half-hour to spare in the episode for some fucking denouement. "What You Leave Behind" is nearly perfect. We get our big space battle, we get our action climax, we bring the Emissary's arc to a close with our Series Protagonist grappling our Series Antagonist into the fires of hell, and we get to wrap-up and see where everyone's lives go. The montages were really great, too, despite lack-of-Jadzia. But yeah, everything wraps up fantastic.
That being said, I have three criticisms:
We should've seen the Battle of Cardassia Prime. Yes, two space battles in one episode is expensive (they already use a lot of stock footage in this episode), but we essentially get to Cardassia, see a ton of ships, we get our orders, then Odo goes down and links with the Founder and its over. It feels too easy.
Same with Dukat vs. Sisko. Sisko should've gotten some powers from the Prophets to match Dukat, and there should've really been a Battle of the Emissaries before the dip into the Fire Caves. As it is, Dukat is kicking Sisko's ass, Winn distracts him, then TACKLE and its over. Again, too easy.
Finally -- what about BAJOR? Sisko was SENT to DS9 in the beginning to get Bajor into the Federation. While it would be ridiculous to ask for Bajor to join up like the Day the war ends, it should've been addressed a bit, like Ross saying "well, Colonel, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Bajor's entry into the Federation finalized within a year" or something like that.
But these are minor quibbles. Best Finale Ever. Best Trek Ever.

Gonna miss it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Is Best Year

If the world ends this year, I think I'll be cool with it. I'm having a great time.
I got a pipe for Christmas, and it's made my unfortunate smoking habit (damn you Matt!) a thousand times more enjoyable, not to mention classier.
I'm directing an awesome 22-min drama, the biggest project in my 2-year film school program, making it the biggest film I've ever directed and essentially what the past four years of my schooling has been building up to. I'm totally going all pulp noir comic pop Hitchcock on it, too. It's gonna be great. It's a psychological thriller written by Jackie Nicolls (http://www.wix.com/jackienicolls/film <-- jealous of this site a little!). She's great. And if the world ends this year, I can successfully have made an awesome student film but not have to worry about surviving in the real world!
Despite no one reading it, I've been having a blast writing Bat to the Beginning , renewing my journey through Golden Age Batman has been fun, satisfying and inspiring. Batman is awesome, writing about Batman is awesome, but it would be awesomer if I knew people were reading me write about Batman.
So many great movies are coming out this year, it's kind've like Nerdvana. "The Avengers", "The Dark Knight Rises", "Skyfall", etc.
Finally, what I am most thankful for is Sarah Dorchak (http://raw-sugar-adventures.blogspot.com/), who I've now been dating for almost three years. She's the greatest thing on two legs and the light of my life. She's not only smart, funny, geeky, and a writer, she's jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

So sure, the world can end in 2012. I'd have no regrets, because life is grand. But bollocks to those counting on it, too -- because not only is that all bullshit, but frankly I've got a life to build, and I plan on every minute being better than the last. So here's to years of success and achievement!! Because why devote your time to anything less?