Sunday, December 4, 2011

Classics: DS9 6:21 - The Reckoning

Overall Rating: 7.3

Good try...and there is a lot to love about this episode...but it's a tad overdone, I think.

Plot Synopsis:

Get the story here, thanks to Wikipedia.

The Skinny:

First, the things I really liked about this ambitious, albeit somewhat purple episode.

  • Sisko's reaction to an unsolvable problem is to break shit.  How true! :)
  • Dax's decision to view the tablet skeptically is given no more of a reasonable feel than Kira or Sisko's belief that something bigger may be going on - even before evidence that the tablet is indeed a part of a bigger story involving (at the very least) non-corporeal alien beings at war.
  • Odo has the line of the show - when Kira is possessed by a Prophet, Odo immediately shuts down any discussion of Kira's being taken unwillingly (and quite rightfully so).  From what he knows of her, he has no choice but to conclude that Kira would wish to be taken for this purpose even if it meant her life - the reaction from the other senior officers is tasteful, fair, and wholly appropriate.  You just won't find that kind of nuanced character-based drama in the other Treks so consistently as you do here.
  • I love that Kai Winn's greatest flaw - her lack of true faith in anyone but herself (and I think this is one of the major roots of all unhealthy ambition and pride) - is what undoes the battle and ends us all.  I don't for one moment believe that she acted solely to save two lives (and, incidentally, the station)...and I don't believe we're meant to come away with that impression.  I think they quite rightly set up Winn's downfall here - despite her protestations that she believes in the Emissary, she manages to find reasons not to trust him at every turn and to look for ways to undermine him.  And ultimately, it's because she envies that he speaks with the Gods and she does not.  This is all very biblical, and very bold for Trek.
Now...the things that make me wince...
  • Why do Gods on TV shows always pick even numbers for epochs that should come to pass at the end of some great trial?  It's always 1,000 years of peace or 1,000 years of hell.  The annoying continuance of our obsession with numerology in base-10 math does feel a bit cheesy here.
  • The whole concept that a single Pah Wraith vs. Prophet duel can resolve an age-old conflict between interventionist big bad god-like aliens and their (usually less evil) counterparts just strikes me as terribly silly and trite.  God vs. the devil wouldn't solve good vs. evil - that's why I prefer the good vs. evil struggle in the Lord of the Rings series.  They may have destroyed Sauron, but there's certainly no indication that they destroyed all evil (in fact it is explicitly stated that that is not the case).  The bottom line is...we like "good vs. evil showdown" plots because it puts the contrast in front of us for easy viewing.  And I think it's really...really lazy.
  • And...why do all-powerful non-corporeal beings need to possess bodies to fight their battle?  In fact, not six episodes later, the Pah Wraiths lose the battle for the wormhole entirely without possessing humans because the Sara Sisko Prophet is released and tips the scales.  I don't get why humanoid sacrifice is required for this contest.
In general, if they want to make Sisko a God...and I'm fine with that idea, don't misunderstand me...they needed to think about what he AND ONLY HE can do that makes him special enough to be needed...the leakage of intelligence begins in this episode...they clearly haven't thought it through...and the greatest flaw with the series-ending "What You Leave Behind" is that all of this build-up toward The Sisko being the only one who could be the Emissary and bring about the end of the Pah Wraiths ends with him doing something that...ANYONE could do.  Bottom line...they didn't make him special enough to be a God.  And in this episode, once again, they're not thinking enough about why events must play out as they do...why the Gods need human hosts, why they must involve The Sisko in their fight?  The result?  The episode feels forced, melodramatic and silly despite being thematically strong.

Writing: 5.5

Sorry guys...there is some cute dialogue and some very important character-work, but the main plot just isn't well-enough fleshed out for me to get on board.

Acting: 7.0

The acting isn't BAD...although Cirroc Lofton didn't do well with his possessed lines, nor did Avery Brooks nail every moment (especially as Jake was about to be killed, Sisko's lines were a little awkward).

Message: 9.5

Thematically, this episode doesn't miss...and that's why I like it despite all of the problems with the storyboard and the long-term planning that went into this Emissary plot arc.

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