Saturday, September 28, 2013

Star Trek Deep Space Nine (Season 5b)

Season 5a  Season 5c

After a relatively slow start, the fifth season of DS9 picks up in the middle with several interesting, thought provoking episodes. The challenge is determining how effective these episodes are on their own to someone who has not followed the series along the way. Whatever difficulty is nothing near to the likes of current day series where whole seasons tell a single overarching plot. There are times, in the mid-season-two-parter, for example, where the modern viewer feels as though something has been overlooked. Today, certain plot elements would have been hinted at and set-up several episodes beforehand. Back then episodes still had to be largely self-contained. It gives the distinct impression that we are merely peeking in on the lives at the Space Station with days and even weeks in between glimpses. And that is exactly what is happening.

Episode 10 “Rapture” 

The show has always had an interesting religious element; and it has even played a part in some of the plots. Here things are taken to a new level when Sisko gains an ability to see things on a mystical level. The story is alright, but the implications are huge. The reactions of Starfleet, Sisko’s loved ones, and the devout Bajorans are very interesting to observe. As usual, things are handled in a way that balance the reality of the mystical experience with the difficulties faced by those who are not privy to that experience firsthand.

Episode 11 “The Darkness and the Light” 

A standard hunted-by-a-lunatic story. Pretty well done, but run-of-the-mill except for the particular mania of the Cardasian bent on revenge. He is obsessed with some religious-themed light vs. dark dribble. In the end, a safe but shaken Kira quips, “Light ONLY shines in the dark.” The problem with that statement is that it is just about as silly as the obsession that the lunatic had. The contrast between light and dark is a particularly good metaphor for good and evil when used correctly. Evil, just as darkness, is merely an absence of light. Light does not ONLY “shine in dark.” You can have light without darkness, and you cannot have darkness where there is light. Light destroys it. Furthermore, you cannot introduce darkness into light. Dark has no power over light. Kira’s statement is meant to highlight that good can be found in the midst of normal, somewhat “bad” humanity. Maybe even that light is only understood in relation to darkness. The problem is that light and dark, just as good and evil, are not opposites of equal opposing value. They are simply a measure of the presence, or absence of one thing. Evil does not inform us about good.

Episode 12 “The Begotten” 

Odo finds a baby changeling. This episode is reminiscent of “The Offspring” and retreads some of the themes seen there, but this episode seems really there to return Odo to his changeling form.

Episode 13 “For the Uniform” 

Sisko decides that, in order to defeat a bad man, he must become a villain.

Episodes 14 & 15 “In Purgatory’s Shadow”; “By Inferno’s Light” 

The political and military schemes in this series—particularly on the Dominion’s part—are fascinating to watch unfold. Similar to the first episode of the season, but more elaborate, surprising, and entertaining.

Episode 16 “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” 

How far humanity dares to tread into God’s domain is a fascinating subject in fiction, especially science fiction. Here we see another side of the genetic manipulation that created the likes of Kahn. Sometimes it is hard to stick to sound principles when it comes to people we care about. A balance between love and law is needed.

Episode 17 “A Simple Investigation” 

A good, atmospheric, noir mystery. But it does strain credibility. Why would an agency send a married person on a multi-year, deep cover assignment?

Episode 18 “Business as Usual” 

Quark must extricate himself from a business arraignment that pushes him to realize that he has ethical standards that are most un-ferengi-like.

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