Thursday, February 14, 2013

Star Trek Deep Space Nine (Season 4b)

Season 4a - Season 4c

Episode 10: “Our Man Bashir” 

Spy fantasy vs. spy reality. Idealism vs. Pragmatism. Heroes vs. Operatives. Doing what is right vs. doing what will win. We all love a good spy yarn, but we also know that such stories are pure fantasy; nothing like the ugly reality of espionage. Here Bashir plays at such fantasy with a running commentary from his real spy friend. When things suddenly become deadly and earnest both sides learn that the best approach is a mixture of idealism and tough realism.

Episodes 11/12: “Homefront” & “Paradise Lost” 

This pair of episodes is one of the better, preachy stories in Trek. With the threat of the Dominion increasing in peoples’ minds, Sisko is called back to Earth following an attack to increase security measures. Earth in the Trek universe is the epicenter of the Secular Humanist ideal where evil has been “overcome.” It is like a paradise. However, with it now under threat some would like to see protective measures increased. They want armed soldiers everywhere and mandatory testing instituted to detect the enemy.

As the story begins, we have a good tension between the need for protection and the importance of freedom. There is a good argument presented for freedom, even as it increases danger. It is the sort of thing that is destroyed if one seeks to secure it. True freedom requires a willingness to face the dangers that the freedom makes possible. It is a delicate state only possible for masses when people understand their responsibility toward each other. Once you try to create or protect it with outside measures, you no longer have freedom. You have a security of sorts, but you’ve traded freedom for it.

In the second episode, Sisko discovers that the sacrifices he was willing to make to protect his home were made in the face of a lie. This season continues to amaze with the way it so skillfully addresses these issues in a timeless way. Especially when one remembers these stories were written years before the issues were a daily discussed reality for western culture.

Episodes 13/14: “Crossfire” & “Return to Grace” 

A couple of dry episodes involving men attracted to Kira. (Who seems to have become the desire of a lot of males of various species on or around the station.) Odo’s story is interesting in that it is a story of a man choosing to distance himself rather than allow his friendship to continue to change him at his core. The Gul Dukat story is a continuation of the episode earlier this season where Kira convinced him to let his daughter live. She seems to be bringing out the best in Dukat, her former enemy, and he is displaying a lot of layer as a character. I doubt this will continue to go well.

Episode 15: “The Sons of Mogh” 

Another Klingon story that serves as a study of cultural differences. The assisted suicide is a bit of a MacGuffin; the real story here is about our need of culture. For Worf, the TCK of the Trek universe, living “a-culturally”—with no real place to belong—is all he really knows. For someone to experience that as an adult is almost insurmountable.

Episode 16: “Bar Association” 

A fun, but nowhere near subtle, look at workers rights.

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