Friday, February 25, 2011

Classics: DS9 5:8 - Things Past

Overall Rating: 6.2

This is an interesting episode for a few reasons, but the way the story is told feels...odd.

Plot Synopsis:

The full round-up can be found at the DS9 Encyclopedia and Lexicon.

The Skinny:

First, the good things about this episode (and a word about accepting some apparent flaws because they serve the needs of this particular story).
  1. The Federation has always been distrustful of Odo, and we, the audience have always been forced to accept uncritically that the command crew of DS9 and the Bajorans (as a whole) are right to believe him infallible. It is nice to view Odo's role during the occupation as something a bit more complicated and a lot less romantic - particularly if the complication arises from the very character traits that make Odo unique.
  2. It was interesting that Garak was inserted into this story...a person that could stir the pot a bit regarding Odo's double-allegiance and the problems it causes philosophically in the aftermath of the occupation. The Bajorans obviously view Garak with an uncritical hatred and Odo with an uncritical hero worship, but viewed in a certain light, Garak might be seen as the more moral person (though his morality was messed up, he hued to it more perfectly). From his perspective, I'm sure Odo's career on Terok Nor seems quite duplicitous.
  3. I think the "occupation flashback" story has been done better on two other occasions, but this one is well timed since we're headed for another round of Cardassian occupation and the comparison will be interesting.
Now, before I make a few points about what seemed off with this episode, I'll enter this preemptive caveat. This is all happening in Odo's mind, so some inconsistencies can be hand-waved regarding Odo's knowledge of events and how he recalls them. And if there's a plot hole or two that serve the purpose of getting to the "good stuff" re: Odo's past, I can accept that. Sci-fi is rarely 100% perfect.

  1. Why was Dax even in this story? She was not playing one of the assassination suspects, and most of her scenes occurred WITHOUT ODO EVEN PRESENT...and even without his knowledge. If they're all sharing Odo's guilty nightmare, how can this be?
  2. Why is this story told to us, the audience, as though we're supposed to be shocked that Thrax is really Odo and that this is all Odo's guilty conscience on display? They hold information back when, in this case, it would be better for us to know the story and watch our character barrel headlong into it unaware while Odo keeps that info from them and tries to get off the station. There's no dramatic tension in knowing Odo's up to no good but not what the ultimate conclusion of that malfeasance will be. They establish, for example, that if they get hurt in the dream, their brains injure their actual bodies in the real world. Well that's great except it would be even scarier if we knew that they were all about to be executed from very early on and that Odo wasn't telling them this. The timing just seems odd throughout the entire hour.
  3. Their technobabble explanation for these events makes ZERO sense. How do the remnant morphogenic compounds dink with the others, exactly? Yeah...I know...they needed to tell this story and couldn't think of a good way to get it come out organically...that's fine...but there's gotta be a better technobabble way to set this up.
All in all, it's an interesting plot concept executed rather poorly, IMHO. And the most damning thing about this the absence of Kira. Yes, I know...Nana Visitor was preggers at this time and not available for large amounts of screen time. So put this script on the back burner until she can come back. It's just SILLY to tell this kind of story and not have Kira there...they missed a HUGE chance for an inverse-Necessary-Evil moment where Kira can feel betrayed and we can be left wondering if their friendship can ever recover.

Writing: 5.0

Definitely some holes in the plot that can't be explained by the vagaries of the mind, and the dialogue is not especially ambitious.

Acting: 7.5

But Rene Auberjonois, Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Andrew Robinson (Garak), and Avery Brooks do a pretty good job carrying you through the hour without thinking about the problems too much (until later).

Message: 6.0

This gets a par score despite a very interesting potential view of the ugliness of tyrannical regimes and the human cost to the souls of those caught in their web...largely because I feel the emotional impact of such events are lost on us if Odo has to reveal this past to people about whom he cares less than Kira. Perhaps this is overly critical...I'm sure Odo has bonded at least somewhat to Sisko and Dax and even Garak, but I just don't see this situation as an effective delivery of the message that even good people are often forced to go against the greater good when the system is corrupt. We needed a way for Odo to be truly hurt by this experience.

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