Thursday, August 11, 2011

Classics: DS9 6:5/6:6 - Favor the Bold/Sacrifice of Angels

Overall: 8.0

As I note in the discussion below, this two-part conclusion to the six-episode war arc feels a little disappointing (especially when it's compared to, say, a slam-dunk classic like Rocks and Shoals), but it is not quite so terrible as some people seem to think.

Plot Synopses:

Favor the Bold is summarized here.

Sacrifice of Angels is summarized here.

The Skinny:

There are two primary things I'd like to discuss with regards to these episodes:

Dukat. As you'll discover in future reviews, I think the writers ultimately veer off in the wrong direction when it comes to Dukat -- and it's arguable that the genesis of those changes can be found here in Dukat's nervous breakdown. However, I actually don't find much to criticize when it comes to Dukat's characterization at this point. It makes sense to me right now that a man so monumentally arrogant and self-deluded would completely fall apart the moment his cloud-cuckoo land collapses. It makes sense to me right now that the loss of his daughter - whom he sincerely loved - would break him. Right now, as far as I can see, the writers haven't made Dukat a silly EEEEEEEEEEEEEvil caricature -- yet.

The Prophets' intervention. I understand why most vocal Trek fans hate this. It does indeed feel a little anti-climactic after the build-up of the previous five episodes. Moreover, the average net-active Trek fan is a liberal-leaning agnostic/atheist, so it's definitely not surprising that he or she would feel betrayed by the writers' use of a literal deus ex machina. But I think calling the ending a "cop-out" misses the point of the whole story. No -- what the writers are doing here is very deliberate, not a sign of incompetence. Their intentions, I feel, are made pretty clear the moment they include that conversation between Sisko and Ross regarding Sisko's intentions to retire on Bajor. Although these two episodes have all the trappings of a war story, their real purpose is to establish Sisko as a Bajoran Moses who, like the Biblical figure in question, stands as an intermediary between his fellow mortals and the gods. You can hate that the writers went in this direction if you choose, but I think it's wrong to declare them "lazy" or "reset-button happy."

Writing: 8.5

Again, the fact that Sisko invokes the power of the gods does blunt the dramatic power of the story just a bit, but these are still a good couple of scripts. As you can see in the highlights section below, there are many scenes that I enjoy.

Acting: 7.5

In reality, it's the performances that really pull down the quality of this two-parter. Terry Farrell, for example, seems to be very uncomfortable playing the "captain" role. And I'm sorry, but Chase Masterson's high-pitched whining in re: Rom is like nails on a chalkboard.

Message: 8.0

Here at Right Fans, we like the spiritual dimension of Sisko's journey. We think it's a pleasant deviation from Trek normal.


WEYOUN: What do you think of this?
KIRA: It's one of Ziyal's paintings.
WEYOUN: I know who the artist is. Her father gave it to me. He claims it won some sort of prize on Cardassia.
KIRA: Gul Dukat must be very proud.
WEYOUN: I suppose. Is it any good?
KIRA: I think so. Why, don't you?
WEYOUN: I don't know how to judge it. You see, my people lack a sense of aesthetics.
KIRA: That's too bad.
WEYOUN: I sometimes think so as well. But if aesthetics were truly important, the Founders would have included it in our genetic makeup.
KIRA: Or they made a mistake.
WEYOUN: Gods don't make mistakes. (A beat.) Though sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to carry a tune. (Heh.)

QUARK: No matter what it takes, no matter what I have to do, I'm going to get you out of here.
LEETA: You do that, and I'll work your dabo tables for free.
QUARK: For how long?
LEETA: An entire year.
QUARK: Make it two.
ROM: Brother!
QUARK: Shh. Isn't your life worth two years? Now, sit tight and trust your older brother.
ROM: But I don't want you to try to save me!
LEETA: What are you talking about? They must have done something to his mind.
QUARK: What mind?
ROM: I'm serious! Brother, you have more important things to worry about.
QUARK: The bar's doing fine, but thanks for caring.
ROM: I'm not talking about the bar.
LEETA: What could be more important than your life?
ROM: Destroying the anti-graviton beam to prevent the Dominion from taking down the minefield. You've got to finish what I started. The fate of the entire Alpha Quadrant rests in your hands. Billions and billions of people are counting on you.
QUARK: Boy, are they going to be disappointed.
ROM: Brother, you can do this. You have to do this. You will do this.
QUARK: What happens if I get caught?
ROM: Then we'll die together. Side by side, heads held high, knowing we did our best.
LEETA: Oh, Rom...
QUARK: But I don't want to die.
ROM: If that's what's written, then that's what's written. (Nice scene for Rom.)

ZIYAL: Father.
ZIYAL: I need to talk to you.
DUKAT: Is something wrong, my dear?
ZIYAL: Nothing that you can't fix.
DUKAT: Name it.
ZIYAL: I want you to free Rom.
DUKAT: You're joking.
ZIYAL: Not at all.
DUKAT: I can't free Rom, Ziyal. He's been sentenced to death by the Dominion.
ZIYAL: You can pardon him. Don't you see, Father, this is your chance to show the Bajoran people, to show Major Kira who you really are. A forgiving, compassionate man. A great man.
DUKAT: Tell me something, Ziyal. Were you involved in any way with the plans to sabotage this station?
ZIYAL: (shocked) No, I wasn't involved.
DUKAT: You're sure of that? I can't help you unless you tell me the truth.
ZIYAL: I am telling you the truth. The question is, have you been telling me the truth?
DUKAT: About what?
ZIYAL: That the Bajorans are wrong about you. That you regret the horrible things you had to do during the occupation.
DUKAT: I do regret them, Ziyal. Deeply.
ZIYAL: Then this is your chance to prove it to everyone, including me. Show us that you're capable of mercy.
DUKAT: Rom is an enemy of the state, and enemies of the state do not deserve mercy.
ZIYAL: (angry) Spoken like a true Cardassian.
DUKAT: I am a Cardassian. And so are you. (And the innocence of youth is shattered.)

DAMAR: Major, a freighter loaded with Tammeron grain is due within the hour. See to it that Cargo bay five is ready to receive it.
KIRA: (dismissive) I'll take care of it. I'll have a --
DAMAR: Yes, you will. Now. (At this point, Kira dials down the defiance a notch and moves to do as she's told. Damar, however, is eager to needle her one more time.) That attitude of yours, Major -- it won't be tolerated forever.
KIRA: You don't like my attitude, Damar? You're welcome to try to change it. (MUAH!)

DAMAR: Ziyal, I need to speak to you.
ZIYAL: You and I have nothing to talk about.
DAMAR: Maybe not, but you and your father do. He wants to see you.
ZIYAL: Well I don't want to see him.
KIRA: You heard her.
DAMAR: Stay out of this, Major. Ziyal, listen. Your father is a great man, a man of destiny, but he also carries great burdens. He knows our alliance with the Dominion is a dangerous one. If we show any sign of weakness, our allies will turn on us. That's why we must all help him remain strong. So I ask you to be a true daughter of Cardassia and stand beside him.
ZIYAL: It should be obvious, even to you, Damar, that I am not a true daughter of Cardassia!
DAMAR: What's obvious to me is that your father should have left you to rot in that Breen prison camp. But he didn't. He took pity on you, and it's your duty to repay him. (He grabs Ziyal's arm.) Now come with me.
KIRA: (dangerously) Let her go.
DAMAR: And if I don't, what happens then?
KIRA: I was hoping you'd ask me that.
(And then she proceeds to kick Damar's ass. ROTFL!)
ZIYAL: (after Damar is knocked unconscious) Did you kill him?
KIRA: (out of breath) No, but I thought about it. (I love you, Kira.)

ROSS: What's this?
SISKO: Ancient Bajoran texts.
ROSS: The Emissary looks for guidance on the eve of battle.
SISKO: Guidance, insights, loopholes. I'll take anything I can get.
ROSS: And what do the Prophets tell you?
SISKO: That I have a long way to go before I can make any sense of their prophecies.
ROSS: Maybe when this war is over you can look at them closer.
SISKO: That would be a change. Spend a week or two down on Bajor. Visit the Dakeen Monastery.
ROSS: I've never been on Bajor. I hear it's quite nice.
SISKO: Nice? That hardly describes it at all. There are parts of the Eastern Province that are like Eden itself. Lush green valleys covered in wild flowers that seem to spring up overnight. Hundreds of small, crystal clear ponds interconnected by waterfalls.
ROSS: All right, all right, I'm convinced. I'm already planning my next R and R down there. (A beat.) You know, it sounds like when your assignment on Deep Space Nine is over and Bajor is welcomed into the Federation, you're going to have a tough time saying goodbye.
SISKO: I don't plan to say goodbye. I plan to build a house on Bajor.
ROSS: And what if Starfleet assigns you to a different sector?
SISKO: I will go wherever they send me, but when I go home, it will be to Bajor. (An important conversation.)

ODO: It's odd. I've stood here countless times, and yet somehow it all looks different.
FOUNDER: It's the solids. They look small, don't they? Insignificant.
ODO: It's not their fault.
FOUNDER: I'm not placing blame.
ODO: They're trapped.
FOUNDER: Confined to a single shape.
ODO: A single perspective.
FOUNDER: It's so limiting.
ODO: I feel sorry for them.
FOUNDER: They need our guidance, Odo, not our pity.
ODO: They cherish their freedom.
FOUNDER: We'll have to break them of that.
(And that, finally, jars Odo out of his Link-induced fog.)
ODO: Break them?
FOUNDER: In a manner of speaking. Oh, this language of the solids. It's so imprecise!
ODO: What exactly do you plan to do?
FOUNDER: The solids are no longer your concern, Odo. What must be done, will be done. It's as simple as that. (Oh, snap.)

WEYOUN: I must say, you're doing a wonderful job with Odo.
FOUNDER: Meaning what?
WEYOUN: Meaning that he's always posed a potential threat to our plans, but you seem to have neutralized him quite nicely.
FOUNDER: Neutralize Odo? Is that why you think I'm here? Odo is a changeling. Bringing him home, returning him to the Great Link, means more to us than the Alpha Quadrant itself. (I must admit that this foreshadows the end of the war - and the series - quite well.)

ODO: Kira. Kira, wait, please!
KIRA: I have nothing to say to you.
ODO: I understand that you're angry.
KIRA: Oh, you bet I am angry. Do you have any idea what's going on?
ODO: Yes, somewhat. I've been occupied.
KIRA: Dukat is bringing down the minefield, the Federation is about to be overrun by Dominion reinforcements and Weyoun has ordered Rom's execution -- and you have been occupied.
ODO: This is so difficult to explain.
KIRA: If you're going to talk me about the Link, don't bother. I'm a solid, remember? I won't understand.
(Odo stops Kira from walking away.)
ODO: Nerys. I'm sorry.
KIRA: Sorry? That's what you wanted to tell me? You're sorry?
ODO: Yes.
KIRA: Well let me tell you something, Odo. We are way, way past sorry. (Ouch.)

DUKAT: War is such thirsty work. Don't you agree?
WEYOUN: Perhaps if you didn't talk so much, your throat wouldn't get so dry.
DUKAT: (laughing) Cardassians do like to talk. I suppose it can be a failing at times.
(Dukat offers Weyoun a glass of kanar.)
(Undaunted, Dukat toasts by himself.)
DUKAT: To the conquerors of the Federation.
WEYOUN: Aren't you being a bit premature?
DUKAT: I don't think so. Not with twenty eight hundred Dominion ships waiting to come through that wormhole.
WEYOUN: Those ships aren't going to be here for another five hours, and need I remind you a lot can happen in that amount of time.
DUKAT: Tell me, Weyoun -- have you ever been diagnosed as anhedonic? (Another Trek vocabulary lesson for the win!)
WEYOUN: You think I'm incapable of experiencing joy just because I'm cautious?
DUKAT: We didn't defeat the Federation by being cautious.
WEYOUN: We haven't defeated it yet. And even if we do, it's only the beginning. Holding on to a prize as vast as the Federation isn't going to be easy. It's going to require an enormous number of ships, a massive occupation army and constant vigilance.
DUKAT: I look forward to it.
WEYOUN: I'm sure you also looked forward to occupying Bajor, and we all know what a disappointment that was.
DUKAT: On Bajor I merely implemented policy, I didn't make it. If I had, things would have turned out quite differently.
WEYOUN: If you ask me, the key to holding the Federation is Earth. If there's going to be an organized resistance against us, its birthplace will be there.
DUKAT: You could be right.
WEYOUN: Then our first step is be to eradicate its population. It's the only way.
DUKAT: You can't do that.
WEYOUN: Why not?
DUKAT: Because! A true victory is to make your enemy see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness.
WEYOUN: Then you kill them?
DUKAT: Only if it's necessary.
WEYOUN: I had no idea.
DUKAT: Perhaps the biggest disappointment in my life is that the Bajoran people still refuse to appreciate how lucky they were to have me as their liberator. I protected them in so many ways, cared for them as if they were my own children. But to this day, is there a single statue of me on Bajor?
WEYOUN: I would guess not.
DUKAT: And you'd be right. Take Captain Sisko, an otherwise intelligent, perceptive man. Even he refuses to grant me the respect I deserve.
(Dukat drops the baseball onto the floor. And now it is Weyoun's turn to laugh.)
DUKAT: You find that amusing?
WEYOUN: Not at all. I find it fascinating.
DUKAT: Laugh all you want. History will prove me right. (Ah! The power of self-delusion!)

ROM: My time grows short.
LEETA: Don't say that.
ROM: The only reason they haven't killed me yet is that I'm part of their victory celebration. Seven o'clock, Dukat makes a speech. Eight thirty, cake and raktajino. Eight forty five, execute the Ferengi.
(Quark enters brandishing disrupters. The Jem'Hadar spread out.)
QUARK: All right, no one move!
ROM: Brother! I knew you would come.
QUARK: It's a surprise to me. Now, just keep calm and stay where you are. Understand? Don't move. You, open the holding cells. I said, open the holding cells.
ZIYAL: You just told them not to move.
QUARK: Right. Nobody moves except you. (LOL!)

DAMAR PROPHET: You are the Sisko.
SISKO: I am also a Starfleet captain. I have a job to do and I intend to do it.
WEYOUN PROPHET: The Sisko is belligerent.
DUKAT PROPHET: Aggressive.
DAMAR PROPHET: Adversarial.
SISKO: You're damn right I'm adversarial. You have no right to interfere with my life.
KIRA PROPHET: We have every right.
SISKO: Fine. You want to interfere, then interfere. Do something about those Dominion reinforcements.
ODO PROPHET: That is a corporeal matter.
DUKAT PROPHET: Corporeal matters do not concern us.
SISKO: The hell they don't. What about Bajor? You can't tell me Bajor doesn't concern you. You've sent the Bajorans orbs and Emissaries. You've even encouraged them to create an entire religion around you. You even told me once that you were of Bajor. So don't you tell me you're not concerned with corporeal matters. I don't want to see Bajor destroyed. Neither do you. But we all know that's exactly what's going to happen if the Dominion takes over the Alpha Quadrant. You say you don't want me to sacrifice my life? Well, fine, neither do I. You want to be gods, then be gods. I need a miracle. Bajor needs a miracle. Stop those ships.
WEYOUN PROPHET: We are of Bajor.
DAMAR PROPHET: But what of the Sisko?
ODO PROPHET: He is intrusive.
DUKAT PROPHET: He tries to control the game.
JAKE PROPHET: A penance must be exacted.
WEYOUN PROPHET: It is agreed.
DUKAT PROPHET: The Sisko is of Bajor, but he will find no rest there.
KIRA PROPHET: (touching Sisko's left ear) His pagh will follow another path. (And this also foreshadows the end of the series.)

1 comment:

  1. It would appear that my co-author and I have a bit of a disagreement on this two parter, at least as it pertains to Dukat's later character arc and the writers' decision to make him Satan (or at least Pharaoh) to Sisko's Messiah/Moses.

    I know a lot of fans don't like what happens in Waltz...but can someone explain to me how a truly evil person really does form and why the version they depict on DS9 was wrong? Hilter, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Kim were they made, again? Because to me, it doesn't seem all that hard to believe that the death of Dukat's daughter might shatter all final delusions that he was EVER a "complicated" man who tried to do the right thing and was never appreciated for it. It seems to me that such a result of his choices might indeed lead him to actually snap and decide that he should embrace his murderous desires.

    Hilter was, by all accounts, stark-raving nutters. Very good at public speaking but to his generals, he was hard to appease, prone to fits of hysterical rage, known to be paranoid and harbor delusions of grandeur. In fact, as his empire was collapsing, Hilter got more and more unstable and his orders made less and less sense, strategically. Eventually he killed himself to avoid capture. How is Dukat any different? Why was it a mistake to make him lose his mind and literally choose to be evil?

    I *LIKE* Waltz...I LIKE E!Dukat. Fans of modern sci fi have this tendency to want EVERYONE to be complex and deep and full of good intentions, but history has shown us that there are some who never had good intentions, no matter how hard they tried to believe they might. Why is it wrong to show that on TV?