Here’s some more second season episodes of Deep Space Nine. In Sanctuary, a group of aliens beam aboard after their ship develops problems, and the universal translator has trouble translating. There’s a nice scene where their leader is speaking, and gradually, English words start springing up in her alien language.
She’s asking for sanctuary for her people, 3 million of them, on the other side of the wormhole, and the episode turns into a story about refugees and immigration. Crowds of these aliens visit the station, as a possible settling place is researched, but unfortunately, the aliens are looking for their ancient homeworld, and they believe Bajor is it. It’s never established why or how (unless I missed it).
Bajor is still suffering from the results of the Cardassian occupation, so their government refuses to allow the aliens to settle there. There’s a bit of drama with one of the young aliens stealing a ship, and eventually getting blown up, none of which we see on screen. I get the feeling this was a cheaper episode, or perhaps all the budget went on the large crowds of new aliens.
In the end, the aliens reluctantly go to the planet that can support them, but they’re bitter that Bajor wouldn’t welcome them.
It’s a strangely timely subject, even if the story doesn’t really address much of the nuances of the situation.
The next episode is Rivals. Chris Sarandon plays an alien who can get people to confide in him, and exploits them as a con man. Odo arrests him after a couple make a complaint. In the cell, there’s another alien playing with a strange toy, who drops dead, so Sarandon takes the device.
O’Brien and Bashir are playing space squash. Bashir is just as insufferable as usual.
Barbara Bosson turns up as an alien selling her store after her husband dies. Sarandon helps her reopen as a casino, with larger versions of the alien toy.
After a spate of strange accidents, they discover that the alien devices are changing the laws of probability. And Sarandon ends up arrested anyway, but not before he was also scammed by a woman he was talking to at the start.
The next episode is The Alternate. Dr Mora Pol, the scientist who first encountered Odo, arrives with news that they’ve discovered DNA similar to Odo’s on a planet.
There’s an obelisk there which is obviously important, but rather than studying it in situ, they decide to beam it up to their ship, which triggers Earth tremors and gas. Why they didn’t just sent a survey team to examine it in situ I don’t understand.
The gas affects Odo, making him behave strangely and without any memories of what he’s doing.
Skipping Armageddon Game (on a recent tape) the next episode is Whispers. It’s another O’Brien story, so that’s all for the good. “I don’t know if I’ll be alive by the time this log is recovered” he says. He’s recorded a log about the last couple of days, so we flashback to his return to the station after a mission.
He wakes up, and Keiko is a bit distant, and his daughter Molly tells him to go away. I nice performance from the very small actor playing Molly.
I like this type of episode. The ‘body snatchers’ trope can be really fun. Paranoia is a great way for generating and maintaining tension.
There’s a scene here that I can’t help thinking was written without any understanding of computers. O’Brien wants to search through station logs to find any reference to why people are acting oddly around him. He’s offered a choice of transcribed or audio, then he chooses audio, and we have a montage of him listening to hours of dull log entries. But I think O’Brien would just have done a textual search through the transcriptions, and discovered almost immediately what he discovers here, that the logs from the day he returned were blocked.
O’Brien even gets to be an action hero.
The truth is revealed when O’Brien reaches the planet he’d had his mission on, to set up security for peace talks. The runabout pursuing him transported some crew to the planet, so he follows to find Sisko and Kira talking to rebels. O’Brien is shot by one of the aliens, then the real O’Brien emerges from another room. The O’Brien we’ve been watching the whole time is a replicant, sent back to the station as some kind of Manchurian Candidate-style assassin, while the real O’Brien was held prisoner.
I really like this episode. It’s one I remember watching, so the twist wasn’t a surprise this time, but it really works. And an episode heavily featuring Colm Meaney is always worth watching. I yes, the moment that the replicant, as it was dying, tells the real Miles “Tell Keiko I love her” made me cry.
The final episode on this tape is Paradise. Sisko and O’Brien are surveying nearby star systems. Really? The commander and chief engineer of DS9? Surely they can delegate. They find human lifesigns on a planet but don’t have any record of a human colony, and on the surface they find a community of people who landed there years ago, but found that a ‘duonetic field’ on the planet stopped all their technology from working, so they’ve lived there without the benefit of their modern technology. I’m already getting culty, Amish vibes from them, so I have a hunch where the story will go.
Sure enough, in this idyllic paradise, the punishment for stealing a candle is being locked in a metal box, in the sun, for a day.
After O’Brien is found trying to modify his communicator to use the duonetic field, as his commanding officer, Sisko is put into the torture box for a day. When he gets out, the colony leader, Alixus, lectures him. “This is painful for me too. I want so much to give you water, to let you lie down, to sleep, but I can’t, not without your help.” At this point I would be punching her repeatedly in the face, but that just shows how much better a man Sisko is. He just gets bak in the box. I think the writers had watched Bridge on the River Kwai.
O’Brien isn’t giving up, and he’s made a device to try to detect the source of the duonetic field.
Pretty soon he finds it, a field generator buried in the woods. It was put there by Alixus, as she deliberately caused their ship to fail and land on the planet, so her theories about the perfect society without technology could be enacted. And is it a coincidence that Alixus’ voice has a bit of a Theresa May twang to hit, that slight breaking of the voice that tells us she’s very sincere about everything she says.
So, now his phaser works again, O’Brien gets Sisko out of the box and tells the community just what Alixus has done. But the community have now been there for 10 years, and despite the several people who have died of easily curable diseases, they still seem to think it’s worth staying. It’s the power of fake news. This episode couldn’t be more of a Brexit metaphor if it were written today. And I’m not sure of the original intentions of the makers of this episode, but the very last shot of the episode, as Sisko and O’Brien have taken Alixus and her son away to answer for her behaviour, the villagers drift away, leaving two children, who were presumably born there, looking at the place where Sisko and O’Brien had beamed away, and I read that as these children coming to terms with their potential future that’s been stolen from them by the older people. Like I said, everything looks like Brexit these days.
Another rather excellent episode. It’s like a perfect representation of the Star Trek model of using an SF setting to tell a story about how people behave. And this one was particularly good because I felt like everything about this episode rang true. Some episodes are set up in such a contrived way (I’m thinking of episodes like Justice from early in TNG’s run) that the unlikely setting undermines the points being made. I bought every single beat of this story, even the ending where the community, lied to for ten years and forced into a way of life that’s hard, just because of one person’s political beliefs, don’t immediately rush to leave. By now they’ve become invested in the lie so much it would be hard for them to accept it was a lie at all. So they stick with the sunlit uplands.
It’s surprisingly relevant.
The tape ends right after this episode.
- trail: Star Trek
- Aller-eze Clear
- Boots Soltan
- Coco Pops
- trail: Single White Female