Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Classics: DS9 6:3 - Sons and Daughters

Overall Rating 6.8

This is well recognized as the weakest portion of the 6-part war arc that begins sixth season. Apart from a few plot holes that I think needed better filling, I think the main reason is a lack of ambition.

Plot Synopsis:

The full summary can be found at the DS9 encyclopedia and lexicon (here), as usual.

The Skinny:

When last we left Worf on the Enterprise (TNG), his son was still with him. In fact they'd had several episodes specifically emphasizing their improving father/son bond and Worf's commitment to raising Alexander. Yet, when he arrived on Deep Space Nine...Alexander was nowhere to be found. No explanation was ever offered...and frankly, the one provided in this episode feels wholly unsatisfactory. First, there's a bit of a timeline problem, because the Alexander we knew on TNG was a small child of about 11 years in the 7th season (coincident with DS9's second season). Four years later, Alexander should be 15 or 16...not roughly 20. But even if you want to assume that Klingons grow REALLY fast during adolescence and even can get conscripted into the IKDF at young ages, it still doesn't feel right that Worf, after working so hard to forge a relationship with his son, would simply decide to send him to his adoptive grandparents...who gave him up in the first place because he was too much for them to handle. If they were going to provide THAT kind of explanation...they needed to explain what caused Worf to have such a change of heart. I think it would have been much more interesting if Worf had gone against Alexander's wishes and sent him to a school on the Klingon home world and from that choice could fall his resentment.

Meanwhile, on the station, Dukat literally attempts to use his own daughter (who he's made up with despite leaving her for dead half a year ago (!)) to get close to Kira. That sounds more squickish than they actually wrote it though. Where the heck is the slimy Dukat that pulled us to the edge of our seat in horrified disgust two weeks ago? This time, he seems positively pleasant. Not that we buy the act...but this plot would have been a hell of a lot more interesting to me if Kira had to respond to a serious advance by Dukat, rather than a merely inappropriate bit of after-dinner conversation. In fact, Dukat and Kira never really are placed in the "will he try to rape her??" scary situation that the first episode practically promised. Seeing Kira respond to being in a disadvantaged position like during the occupation, only this time working side by side with Dukat...and having to dealing with workplace sexual harassment...that would have made for memorable television (and given Kira a chance to kick some serious ass).

I think, in both cases, these plots were pregnant with possibilities to advance our feeling of unease and really make us take notice, but the writers lacked the courage to "go there," leading to a rather tepid episode. There's nothing WRONG with it...and it does a serviceable job getting us to the juicy bits that follow...but it does not stand out at all. It's just...decent.

Writing: 6.0

The weak point here is the unimpressive, lukewarm script. The freelance writing tandem of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle produced a script that maintained a decent understanding of the characters involved, but lacked gravitas, I'm afraid.

Acting: 7.0

On the other hand, despite a script lacking in much room for depth of emotion, the acting was above par...especially from Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn (with help from Marc Alaimo and J.G. Hertzler...both of whom we love) - the weakness is Alexander...for this plot to have worked better, Alexander needed to give us some compelling reason he was here...this is a writing and an acting failure.

Message: 7.5

DS9 rights a wrong when it comes to Worf and his son...everything TNG writers turn out regarding family was way off base...everything these guys do brings a smile to my face. Even Kira's decision to back away form Ziyal, rather than dividing her from her father, follows along DS9's golden path to pathos in family interaction.

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