Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Classics: DS9 7:24 - The Dogs of War

Overall Rating: 7.2

This episode is outstanding on many fronts, but the Ferengi plot is a notable problem and the Ezri/Julian hook-up is beyond annoying.

Plot Synopsis:

Praise the all-knowing Wikipedia, for it is truly great (kidding, God...please do not smite me!).

The Skinny:

They get it.
They get it not.
They get it.
They get it not.
They get it.
They get it not.

(picture me picking petals off of a daisy throughout this'll help you as we go)

The writers depict a desperate scramble for freedom on the streets of occupied Cardassia as Damar heroically begs his fellow people to rise up and be his army (they get it!).

The writers show Quark angrily rejecting reforms that lessen consumer and corporate freedoms and strangle the economy in a barrel full of new regulations and taxes - and his side gets ZERO opportunity to debate seriously.  All he does is bloviate and posture while Rom calmly makes all the counterpoints (they get it NOT).

The writers craft a military plot involving a strategic retreat by the enemy and a brave planned offensive by the allies because they seem to know that waiting to combat evil is a bad idea (they get it!).

They show Quark concluding that the best counter to the "new" Ferenginar is to sit at his bar and make his establishment the last outpost of the old regime (they get it NOT).

Sisko and Kassidy get pregnant and, despite concerns that the Prophets might have been warning him that something sorrowful would happen regarding the child, he lovingly eases her fears and takes care of her (they get it!).

They spend a good ten minutes of screen time showing Julian (who Worf insists is an overgrown child despite all of the maturing he's supposed to have done since the big reveal about his genetic status)  and Ezri acting like preteens having their first crush, resolving to stay good friends and then necking in the turbolift in full view of Ops (they get it NOT...and by the way...UUUUUUGH)

Odo delivers some well placed barbs at the Federation (and Sisko as its representative) regarding the convenience of having a rogue organization doing your dirty work that you can claim to abhor (they get it!).

Ferenginar is supposed to have changed in less than a year from a purely capitalist monarchy to a democratically elected liberal world without cloak and dagger games and without angry rebellions (they get it NOT).

When you add it all up, the writers just don't get it, IMHO.  They don't see the similarities between fighting for economic freedom (and the benefits that offers) and fighting for freedom for totalitarianism.  They know enough to reject military dictatorships, but they actively embrace liberal dictates forced on a populace (as on Ferenginar).  They get that marriages are hard fought lifelong contracts that entail responsibility and deep commitment, but they don't connect that to the proper behavior for new couples trying to decide whether they can make such commitments.  They understand the value of military courage and sacrifice, but they wouldn't know personal courage if it hit them in the face.

This schizophrenia is not uncommon in Hollywood, but it is a bit disappointing given the long history these writers have on DS9 for identifying clear moral positions and sticking with them when complex ethical/moral dilemmas appear.  Still, there are enough individual scenes that are worthy of smiles that I can't be TOO hard on the episode as a whole.  Damar's speech on the street is a bit maudlin, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Odo's sharp remarks are high quality H2O.  The military plot and the plot involving Sisko and Kassidy are solid.  In fact, I originally though of this episode as a feature because I was remembering the good parts.  But re-watching it made me acutely aware of how many times I was deeply ANNOYED.  So...the final score is tempered.

Writing: 7.0

The writing score reflects a compromise between generally good dialogue and character work and very poor plot resolution work (they rushed to tie a bow on the Ferengi...for some unknown reason...they're rushing the war arc...they're rushed the Ezri/Julian plot...they rushed the civilian uprising on Cardassia.  You feel like if they'd spent less time screwing around with Vic Fontaine on the Holodeck, they might have really been able to tell some great stories but now it's too late.  I also have to doc the writing score for failing so utterly to make the Ferengi believable as a people.

Acting: 8.5

On the other hand, Armin Shimerman does his level best to make you love him despite the horrible script he gets handed and Nana Visitor, Andrew Robinson and company are their usual brilliant selves in the resistance plot.

Messasge: 6.0

They get it.
They get it NOT.
In the end...I have to split this one right down the middle.  I wanted to like it more than this...but I just can't.

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