Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 5, Episode 24 – “Empok Nor” – A Return to a Past War

Empok Nor (episode) | Memory Beta, non-canon Star Trek Wiki | Fandom

     “Empok Nor” is a great episode and definitely one of my favorites in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” This episode has stakes, history, tension, character development and is simply a wonderful thriller episode. I’m also a bit biased in that Garak is one of my favorite characters and this episode has a lot of Garak. This is one of my favorite episodes in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and I highly recommend it.

The episode was directed by Mike Vejar with teleplay by Hans Biemler and story by Bryan Fuller.

The story involves Miles O’Brien leading a squad to the abandoned Cardassian Space Station Empok Nor in order to get supplies to repair Deep Space Nine. All is not as it appears to be as their arrival wakes up two Cardassian Soldiers who were left behind.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise of an abandoned station full of threats is really cool. You get the haunted house meets slasher vibes and the characters we follow are good. We have Garak to undo the traps, Nog who volunteered and Miles controlling the mission along with a few redshirts for good measure.

The Horror – The horror is really great in this episode. As said above we get the haunted house vibe with the slasher vibe as the Cardassians who wake up begin killing the Starfleet officers on the mission. Eventually Garak is infected by the same compound the other Cardassians are infected with that has made them killers and now it is him against Miles and Nog. It is really well handled and you feel how trapped our heroes are.

Nog – Nog is the eager cadet on this mission who ends up being the most prepared. He comes fully armed and sticks with the chief. This doesn’t stop him from being captured by Garak when Garak goes insane, but we see how committed he is to the mission and is willing to die to save Miles and complete the mission. His courage is admirable and I was grateful that he was one of the three survivors. Aron Eisenberg truly did a fantastic job.

Garak – Garak is fascinating in this episode as he kills the enemy Cardassians but finds himself infected with the same thing that they were infected by, making him psychotic. What keeps him from simply killing Nog and Miles though is his fascination of Miles being the hero of Setlik III during the Federation-Cardassian War. He has respect for the Chief and wants to face him in combat. In the end this leads to his defeat and regret as hates the fact that he killed one of the Federation Officers when he got infected. Andrew Robinson continues to give this former Obsidian Order agent so much nuance and this episode is a great example of why he is one of m favorite characters.

Miles O’Brien – This is very much a Chief O’Brien episode and Colm Meaney does a great job carrying it. In this we see the man he’s evolved into since the Cardassian-Federation War as no matter how many times Garak brings up the past, he insists he’s an engineer. We see this mindset in his problem solving with both getting help from Deep Space Nine when Terok Nor loses all communication and the enemy cardassians destroy the shuttle and in how he outsmarts Garak by using the tech. he as the create a bomb. He keeps the crew focused and even though most of them die, O’Brien does complete the mission and manages to save both Garak and Nog.

The Past Lives On – Terok Nor is an abandoned Cardassian Station with soldiers left behind the kill anyone who tries to enter. The moment they activate it is like the Cardassian-Federation War all over again. This echo of the past eventually consumes Garak as the drug that made the enemy Cardassians crazy, also does the same to him. Once more Cardassians and Federation soldiers fight and die as the past war lives on in the present and with it the wounds caused by this excursion for the needed Cardassian Technology.

Okay:

The Redshirts – The Redshirts are all given base personalities but aren’t developed beyond that. They also don’t survive the episode as they are either killed by the Cardassians left behind, or Garak when he goes mad. This was a shame as if even one of these characters had survived we could have had a redshirt giving us more of the experience of the “Dominion War.” I didn’t put them as a negative as they do have personalities, but they aren’t a pro as they weren’t developed beyond that.

“Deep Space Nine” is one of my favorite shows and that is largely due to it tackling themes of politics, war and trauma as this episode does. This episode is perfect in tone and the stakes are consistent through the entire run. We also get some amazing Garak and Miles development. I can’t wait to see how they play off each other again when I watch future episodes. This episode is a favorite and I highly recommend it to any fan of the show.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 One of my favorite “Star Trek” episodes. If the redshirts had been developed further it would have been perfect.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Past Prologue” – The Politics of Bajor and Kira’s Role

Past Prologue (episode) | Memory Alpha | Fandom

     “Past Prologue” is a good example of the themes that “Deep Space Nine” loved to explore. This is an episode full of politics and character development that really make it an enjoyable outing. This is also the episode that introduces my favorite character on “Star Trek.” That character is Garak. He is such a fantastic character and this episode does a beautiful job of illustrating so many of the reasons why.

The episode was directed by Winrich Kolbe and written by Katharyn Powers.

The story follows the arrival of Tahna Los on the station after he is being pursued by Cardassians. He is part of a fanatical group that never gave up the fight against Cardassians called the Kohn-Ma. Kira and Sisko are left with a choice as Tahna Los’s story unfolds.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise is really neat as it shows the politics that surround the Station and the wormhole. You have Bajoran fanatic groups like the Kohn-Ma who will have to be integrated back into society again. You have the shady dealings with Tahna Los and Kira’s torn loyalties. It is a really neat premise.

Commander Sisko – Commander Sisko is a character walking the line between keeping peace with Bajor and also representing the Federation. It is handled really well here as he is at first sympathetic to Tahna Los’s talk of reforming himself and giving up violence. He is sympathetic while still using all the crew at his disposal to see if Los is lying or not. After he finds out the truth he plans and springs the trap. It is really well done. I love how he and Kira clash but respect one another. It is a nice dynamic.

Tahna Los – Tahna Los is a nationalist fanatic but it is something that is slowly revealed over the course of the episode. He starts out sympathetic as a man who wants to give up violence, but we soon see it is all a lie given how he manipulates Kira and his dealings with the Duras Sisters. I found him compelling as an antagonist though as he truly wanted a Bajor that had no one connected to it. He was a nationalist and blinded by his hate for anyone not Bajoran.

The Duras Sisters – The Duras Sisters show up trying to get money to fund their family. They are handled well as we see them walk the line of diplomacy while never losing sight of their desire for financial power. It is a shame we never see them again after this until “Generations.” They had a lot of potential as they were the remaining power behind their house. The most I can think of is that even after this they were never able to rebuild Duras back to it’s former might.

Garak – Garak is introduced in this episode and he is wonderful. He uses Bashir to get information to Sisko to reveal the plots of the Duras Sisters and Tahna Los and I love his use of metaphor. Him being a spy is pretty on the nose in this episode, but I enjoyed it so much. Bashir is in over his head and this is played up well as Garak’s experience helps him get Bashir in the right place at the right time. God, this simple tailor is simply brilliant.

Major Kira and Uniting a People – This is a Kira episode and I like the conflict that she is left with. She is Liaison to the Federation and was also a freedom fighter during the occupation. In her eyes Tahna Los is a man who never gave up that fight. In this we see how she wants to unite all Bajorans and help Bajor make it’s own path but Los uses that until she catches him lying. In the end she is essential to his defeat and her relationship with Sisko is back to some level of normalcy. It is very well done and I got her aims with trying to help all of Bajor heal.

The Cons:

Pacing – For an episode about a secret plot, this episode is real slow. It really only picks up in the final act. This is a shame as there were so many political factions in play it could have done for more of that tension and less of Bashir going to Sisko on what he should do.

Odo’s View of Justice at this Point – Odo bashes Federation justice and compliments the simpleness of the Occupation. Not a good look Odo. When he said that to Sisko I was glad he grew out of that mentality to a degree. We do see the Founder in him come out in that mindset though. The Dominion functions in simple brutality.

This was a good episode that could have been great. The politics should have lead to a lot more tension but I love how involved most of the crew is with the main plot. This is a Kira story that uses “Deep Space Nine” as an ensemble show really well. I can see how the philosophy of the Kohn-Ma will play a part later in the story as well. Season 1 is all about the Federation and specifically Sisko and Kira’s relationship to Bashir and this episode is a shining of example of that.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Could have been great with better tension in the writing.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 3, Episode 14 – “Heart of Stone” – Forging a Separate Identity

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  This is a review that was inspired to honor the life of Aron Eisenberg, who died September 21st, 2019 of this year. I know him largely because of his role as Nog, who is easily one of the most well rounded character in “Star Trek” to have one of the most well developed arcs. I’m grateful I got to hear more of his story and the lives he touched in the “What We Left Behind” Documentary. Aron was amazing in this role and his podcast he formed after is amazing too. The world lost an amazingly talented individual this year and my heart goes out to his family. I chose this episode because of how well it captures the arc Nog goes through and the choice he makes as well as the sheer range of Aron Eisenberg had as an actor. Before I get into spoilers, this is a good episode you should watch.

The episode was directed by Alexander Singer and written by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

The story follows Odo and Kira as they pursue a Maquis Raider leading to Kira becoming trapped in a collapsing cave, as on “Deep Space Nine” Nog wants join Starfleet and finds himself up against his past and Federation prejudice.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Odo and Kira Plot – The Odo and Kira plot is really an exploration of Odo and one of the core reasons why he hasn’t rejoined his people in the Gamma Quadrant. It is here we see it is due to his deep friendship and love of Kira. At one point when he believes she will die he stays with her, willing to risk his own life because being with her matters that much. We can see how much their relationship has grown over the years too, as the episode starts out with them bickering like a married couple. It is a well done plot that is only made less by the reveal and us having to wait for the true payoff later.

Nog and Starfleet Prejudice – The B Plot involves Nog and his coming of age. It begins with him in Ferengi custom giving his earnings to in Ferengi society would be his mentor to train him in whatever art of business he is seeking. In this case Nog gives his gold pressed latinum to Commander Sisko. Sikso at first doesn’t believe him and it isn’t just him. Even Jazdia who is one of the more open minded members of the crew even doubts now genuine Nog is and it not being some trick. It is sad given that Federation prejudice is so strong that even a culture that is open minded isn’t trusting someone who is giving everything to be a part of them. For Commander Sisko this is explored deeper as we learn that the reasons behind Nog wanting to join Starfleet is because he wants a future and he knows he “doesn’t have the lobes” for business, like his father Rom. After this confession he is accepted and Nog’s story in Starfleet begins.

Forging a Separate Identity – The theme of this episode is one of forming a separate identity beyond what is forced upon you. The Founders want Odo to join but he constantly rejects them. It is here where the reveal is Kira was never in danger is discovered and it was the Female Founder all along. Odo’s denial of his people’s desire to control and his attachment to solids is the point of his arc, where in the case of Rom it is his rejection of Ferengi business society and him seeking to be appreciated for his talents for the greater good are there. He forges a separate path, but unlike the Founders who reject Odo’s path…Rom is proud of Nog for the path he chooses.

Nog and Rom – The best arc in this episode is Nog’s arc as we see someone already judged for the mistakes he made as a child and for being a Ferengi opening up and forging his own future. He is the first Ferengi to join Starfleet and this is the episode where it happens. All of this is driven by his father. Rom is abused by his brother Quark and though he is a genius when it comes to tech. Quark doesn’t admit or see it at this point. Nog, is the only one who does and in turn Rom sees the potential that exists in Starfleet for Nog so supports his choice. It is a small scene but the scene Nog and Rom have together when Rom supports his choice is just as powerful as when Commander Sisko does after Nog tells him why he wants to join in the first place. This is the heart of the episode and what makes it so great.

Okay:

The Reveal – The Founders do so much manipulation and this felt like another base Founder Plot. It wasn’t bad but they must have known that Odo cared for the crew as his family too. Making the love for Kira makes sense given what we saw in prior episodes but I fail to see how that is useful to the Founders unless they are going to use Kira to bring Odo back to them. During the “Occupation of Deep Space Nine,” I didn’t see that level of thinking things through. Kira was used but it seems like Odo staying played a bigger factor in them influencing him than Kira. That is why this reveal is fine, but it isn’t great. I would have preferred Kira saying she loved Odo being real. Once you have that confession it just gets weaker when it is the real thing. Don’t do fake outs in shows unless it means you’ll do it in a better way.

If you are a fan of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” you probably loved this episode. This is a great ensemble piece that develops Odo and Nog as well showing that the Federation has prejudice that this episode never really addresses. Why can’t a Ferengi join Starfleet? It makes me think that Worf probably experienced similar prejudice because of the Klingon and Federation Wars. I enjoy episodes that critique the Federation and show that it still needs to grow. This is true to human nature and part of what made “Deep Space Nine” work is because of how it did call out xenophobia, racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry, even as the show itself was still maturing in that growth and did vary by writer. The progressive future of “Star Trek” is one of hope and where I hope someday humanity can be, even if won’t be within my lifetime. “Star Trek” is about the goal of the better future and within the show we see that in the individual fights our characters face, such as what Nog faced in joining Starfleet.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10 This was a great episode in “Deep Space Nine.”

R.I.P. Aron Eisenberg. You touched so many lives and this review is to honor you and the amazing life you lived.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 1, Episode 4 – “A Man Alone” – The Isolation of the Station

       “A Man Alone” is a fun episode. It isn’t good, but it is enjoyable. This is the 4th episode of season 1 and you can tell the writers are still finding their footing. The story is following a core mystery plot that needs more development of the villain and a B plot that gives the episode more life, but doesn’t quite make it good. Early “Deep Space Nine” was still defining itself and this episode is a good example of it. It does still make for an enjoyable outing though.

The screenplay was written by Michael Piller who co-wrote the story with Gerald Sanford and directed by Paul Lynch.

The story involves an old enemy who of Odo’s who turns up on the station who winds up dead behind a locked door, with Odo as the prime suspect. The secondary plot follows Keiko as she finds purpose on the station.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Commander Sisko – This episode is a good Sisko episode. It is in this episode we see him negotiate Bajoran hatred of Odo when Odo is blamed for a murder he didn’t commit. It is Sisko taking control of the situation that stops Odo from getting killed or injured when a mob of Bajorans has fallen attacked Odo’s office. Sisko is my favorite Captain, though at this point in his story he still a commander as he doesn’t have The Defiant yet.

Miles and Keiko – The B plot follows Keiko and her finding purpose on the station. I’m including Miles here because he is very much the supportive spouse. He comes up with a few ideas to help with the isolation and you can see just how much he loves her. Miles knows she chose to come here but it also meant giving up opportunities. Keiko also clearly can find her own way. We see her watch the fallout of Nog and Jake harassing civilians and realizes that the children on the station are just as isolated as she is. This inspires her to make a school. Keiko is truly an underrated character and this episode is a good example of why she is so good.

Jazdia Dax – This is a good Jazdia episode. We see her turn down the multiple advances from Dr. Bashir when he is being a creep and also learn more about the Trill. At this point in her life as Trill she’s lived many lives and is trying to get away from attachments. This changes later on the series, but right now she is trying to be the greatest being she can be. She has so much patience dealing with Dr. Bashir. We also see her friendship with Commander Sisko develop as she clearly isn’t his mentor Kurzon but that they can still relate and talk even with Jazdia’s aspirations to be the best of the Trill.

Isolation – A major theme of the story is how isolating it is for many of the characters on “Deep Space Nine.” Whether it is Keiko feeling like she has no purpose or Odo being othered by the Bajorans, countless people feel alone. It is out of this loneliness and isolation that friendships can arise though, as we see with Nog and Jake’s friendship in the episode. We also see how the idea for the school was born out of Keiko’s own isolation.

“The Other” – “The Other” is a major theme of the episode. This is Odo’s character and he illustrates it in a few ways. From him calling out he doesn’t trust Commander Sisko because they don’t know each other and also that because he served as security during the Occupation of Bajor and isn’t a Bajoran that Bajor will always see him as different. He is a changeling and isn’t a solid. This is a major defining part of what defines Odo and this episode shows why this is. He is the unknown and the fearful, stupid masses are easily turned against him when he is framed.

Okay:

Ibudan – Ibudan is the antagonist of the episode and he isn’t great. I’m not putting him as a con because the idea of killing your clone to frame someone is a brilliant idea. We never see him talk to Odo though. For a villain he isn’t given much to do in regards to interacting with the cast. This doesn’t hurt his presentation but it makes it incredibly average and forgettable.

The Cons:

Julian Bashir – Alexander Siddig is one of my favorite actors. This is a situation where I blame the writers. Julian Bashir comes off as a creep in this episode. Jazdia turns him down multiple times and he keeps trying. Bashir becomes an amazing character later, but early on he does not make himself endearing in any way. He’s over eager and a creep and he’s the head Doctor on the station.

“A Man Alone” is a solidly enjoyable mystery and exploration of the station. The strongest writing involve any time isolation is explored and the B Plot with Keiko and her formation of the school is good example of why. Where it falls flat is in Bashir’s inability to take a hint or to respect Trill culture (Jazdia tells him she’s not interested in romance) and Ibudan as a villain is only okay. He really needed more development and we should have seen him interact with Odo before the murder to put more suspicion onto Odo. For these reasons I can’t really say the episode was good. I’d still recommend it to any fan of the show though. There are some good things that happen in the episode, even if the overall quality never gets beyond enjoyable.

Final Score: 7 / 10. This was a solidly enjoyable episode.

 

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 6, Episode 13 – “Far Beyond the Stars” – The Ongoing Struggle For Justice and Equality

Ds9 Far Beyond the Stars

      “Far Beyond the Stars” is a masterpiece on so many levels and an episode where the trials and struggles of the 1960’s reveal themselves to sadly be just as true today. We are so far from the world of “Deep Space Nine” in not just our television but our science fiction books too, even if things have improved in some ways. This is an episode that has such a powerful point with some of the best writing and acting to come out of this series. The fact that Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) was also the director also lends more power to it when you look how focused on justice so much of Avery Brooks’s passion has gone towards post “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” On a final note before I get into the details, it is also a very meta and philosophical episode of Trek.

      “Far Beyond the Stars” was as stated above, directed by Avery Brooks with the teleplay by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler with story by Marc Scott Zicree.

     The story begins with Captain Sisko’s Father Joseph Sisko visiting the station as Ben is rethinking what difference he is actually making, as his friend died in a routine patrol of the Cardassian Border and the Dominion War looks as if it has no sign of ending. His father tells him he should think on it as he begins seeing people from the 1960’s before he is transported into the world of Benny, an African American Science Fiction Writer during the 1960’s where his story unfolds and realities keep colliding as they try to find out what’s going on “Deep Space Nine” as he faces the reality of the past in the life of Benny.

The Pros: Benny’s World – I love that they set in the 60’s and unlike the “Mad Men” version of the 60’s we get to see the lives of the middle class, the poor and people who aren’t of European descent. The world doesn’t pull any punches with every character being flawed and discrimination being widespread and enforced by the law. I’ll get into more of the details when I explore the characters though.

The Soundtrack – There is so much great jazz in this episode and so often the episode knows when to be silent, it isn’t standard recycled music and that really made the episode just that much stronger in the presentation and story.

The Characters – I’m only referring to the characters of Benny’s world in this instance since the only people really explored in Captain Sisko’s time are himself and his father. The characters of Benny’s world (played by the same actors who make salutes to their counterparts in personality and actions) are wonderful. They are distinct while still having the inspiration of “Deep Space Nine” (or vise versa as I’ll go into later).

Willie Hawkins – Michael Dorn plays the baseball player who shows us that it doesn’t matter if you are star athlete, housing ordinances are still just that and even though some whites want to see you play they don’t want you around (most housing ordinances weren’t ended until the 90’s and 80’s even). His way of dealing with it is flirting with everyone. His character is very confident and it’s fun to see. He knows he’s a star and Dorn does it very well.

Jimmy – Jimmy is a young African-american guy and friends with Benny and a bit of a hustler. The day he gets the opportunity for wealth the detectives Burt and Kevin murder him. They say it was for breaking into a car but based of their reaction of beating up Benny for even asking questions I sincerely doubt that. R.I.P. Jimmy. Sad thing is this still happens today. This scene is given more power given the actor plays Jake Sisko…Benjamin Sisko’s son in the series as a whole.

Cassie – Played by the actress who plays Captain Sisko’s wife Kasidy she is great in this as the woman who accepts discrimination (and Willie’s creeping) and wants to build a life that she feels is practical with Benny. To this end she’s working at owning the restaurant she works at and trying to get Benny to see it too. She’s super supportive of him and his writing though and takes care of him after the cops beat him up.

Kay Eaton – Kay is played by Nana Visitor who plays Major Kira and she is an author who writes under a name K.C. so people will think she is man. She is aware of the prejudice and inequality around her and can relate to Benny in that way. She’s more resigned than Benny though and doesn’t fight Pabst over the injustice of the Editors.

Herbert Rossoff – Rosoff played by Shimerman (who plays Quark) is the one person always clashing with Pabst (played by Rene who plays Odo) and is most vocal against the injustice of Benny’s story not being published and the editors shutting down the magazine for a month because of Benny’s black protagonist.

Douglas Pabst – Played by the actor who plays Odo, like Odo Pabst is all about the rules, even if they are unjust. He doesn’t care about injustice he cares about money and fires Benny when the Publishers choose not to run the stories. He isn’t even well intentioned he is all about the rules, just like Odo. He is the status quo and those who do nothing.

Benny Russell – Benny Russell is the one dreaming “Deep Space Nine” and the one being dreamed by Captain Sisko. He has victories like when Pabst accepts the story of “Deep Space Nine” being a dream. He is inspired by Delaney a gay African American writer whose story was rejected because his protagonist was mixed race. Benny the character is different in that he is working to be married with Cassie but his role becomes bigger after “The Preacher” reminds him of his role as a a symbol of the future and justice and making the story of “Captain Sisko” real by telling the story. This ends with him being put in a hospital though as he stands up to Pabst and cries out to be recognized as a human being.

Joseph Sisko – Joseph reminds his son Ben of how important it is to fight, which makes sense that he’d be the Preacher in Ben’s dream of Benny as he is calling Captain Sisko back to the struggle and making sure a just world remains or can come about…that life is bigger than those he has lost and himself.

Captain Sisko – Sisko is mourning the loss of his friend but after he dreams of Benny and realizes that Benny could have dreamed one another into reality realizes how important it is to fight and struggle against injustice, be it discrimination or the tyranny of the Dominion.

Honorary Mentions – Alamo (Dukat) and Combs (Weyoun) play corrupt detectives who are the ones responsible for killing Jimmy…and Meaney played a bumbling writer who liked robots. They weren’t bad characters but they weren’t explored some of the other characters were, which is why I’m giving them honorary mentions.

Easter Eggs – The Magazine they are writing for has “Star Trek: The Original Series” stories in it’s pages. Ranging from “The Cage” to “Where no One has Gone Before.” It’s a really cool salute to the past early science fiction as well as the ripple “Star Trek” created by it’s existence as a show during this time period.

The Meta Moments – The whole idea of “Deep Space Nine” all existing in the mind of Benny is very meta as “Deep Space Nine” existed in the writers who wrote the show. Benny is almost a stand in for them and the story they all sought to tell.

The Message – There are quite a few messages in this that stands out. The dreams of the present can become the dreams of the future and the dreams of the past remind us of what we still need and can accomplish. There is also the fact that injustice must be fought if anything is ever going to change and the power of story and how ideas can never die.

Representation and racism in the Past and Present – Delaney was an African-American Gay Black Science Fiction writer whose story was rejected by his racist publisher. Here is a great article that explores it and the lack of representation of people of color today: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars

This article shows that Delaney’s story is still true in many ways today and it is certainly true on television and other forms media. Now I don’t know how much talking about it changes it, but sometimes it is the stories that do. Look at the influence “Star Trek” has had on the culture and with that the same potential other science fiction shows can have. What is the future we want to create?

The Potential Future – There will always be problems I think, maybe and hopefully not the same ones even if echoes of those same problems remain…but it is in our power to change them, for each generation to make those changes in how they live, the laws they make and how they and we treat our fellow human beings. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I hope for the future that “Deep Space Nine” represents.

Final Score: 10 / 10. One of the greatest stories to ever come out of “Star Trek” and still relevant to this day.

A Look Back on the Star Trek Pilots and the Future of Trek

StarTrek_Capns

I want to end the “Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series/Star Trek Pilot Series,” with a reflection on the episodes and what I see in the future of Star Trek.  Star Trek at it’s best deals with issues of justice and dilemmas in modern day while giving us the hope for the future…the hope that we can be more and better. Each of the series barring much of “Voyager,” and nearly all of “Enterprise,” understood this and that was why they are so popular.

I still remember my first Star Trek convention, I was in Middle School living in Michigan at the time and I got to meet Vaughn Armstrong, who has played multiple characters on Star Trek as well as Roxann Dawson who played B’Elanna Torres on “Voyager,” in Middle School and High School was what motivated me to write sci. fi. My first sci. fi. idea ever was a Star Trek crew run by the outsiders or enemies of the Federation (Cardassian, Borg, Romulan and Ferengi were who I had in mind), and that motivated me to write my own stories post Middle School.

Before I get into the future of Trek I’m going to do one last recap of the Pilots…from best to worst with a summary.

Emissary

1st) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Pilot – “Emissary Parts 1 and 2”

This pilot knew what it wanted to be and lived that fully, keeping the tone and dilemmas true throughout the entire series. It dealt with war, post-war and post-occupation and all the consequences on the species involved. Captain Sisko is my favorite of the Captains and the fact that it was an ensemble cast served the story…we got to see the Cardassian perspectives through Damar, Dukat and Garak, to Bajor with Kira and Kai Winn, to the Ferengi and even an extra named Morn got his own episode. The series showed the consequences of war and abuse of power and provided actual dilemmas. I was never bored watching the series and enjoy following certain arcs (especially the “Dominion War Arc”) to this day. I look forward to reviewing more episodes and that arc.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/star-trek-deep-space-nine-pilot-emissary-part-1-and-2/

9 / 10

star-trek-the-man-trap

2nd) Star Trek: The Original Series Pilot – “The Man Trap”

This pilot captured the wonders and dangers of space travel the best out of all the pilots. Where “Deep Space Nine,” looked big TOS started small. We get introduced to a new species that is the last of it’s kind and are forced to face the dilemma to kill it in “Kill or be Killed,” and we get to see most of the crew being active. TOS at it’s best used all of it’s crew members and captured the wonder and dangers of exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/star-trek-the-original-series-the-man-trap-red-shirts-and-the-thing/

8 / 10

The Cage

3rd) Star Trek Original Pilot: The Cage

The original pilot was really the Pike and Spock story. Most of the other characters don’t even have names and are so replaceable they are basically Proto-Red Shirts. What drives this story and elevates it over it’s problems of sexism (the aliens capture two crew members who are women so Pike can choose a mate in the cage they’ve created). What elevates it is that it deals with an actual alien species (Talosians) who are nearly extinct. We see the dilemma that is faced and Pike and the aliens come to an understanding. This episode captures the essence of “New Life and New Civilizations,” really well.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/star-trek-original-pilot-the-cage-before-there-was-captain-kirk/

6.5 / 10

star-trek-farpoint

4th) Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Encounter At Farpoint Part 1 and 2”

“The Next Generation,” began with a very rocky start. It was trying to be “The Original Series,” when it clearly was not. This brought down the episode as well as the fact that besides Patrick Stewart and John De Lancie, no one else was any good as an actor. It captures the essence of Trek with exploration, it just doesn’t fully achieve it since it wastes the potential of Q and Farpoint Station (and the aliens are ideas, not actual interesting species).

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/star-trek-the-next-generation-pilot-encounter-at-farpoint-part-1-and-2/

6 / 10

Caretaker part 1 and 2

5th) Star Trek: Voyager – “Caretaker Part 1 and 2”

This is the point where there are a lot of interesting ideas but very poor execution. Maquis and Federation are pulled across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant…but after they just get along. There is no conflict and Janeway is just assumed to be Captain even though the Maquis had a captain too. The species are poorly explored as well with Kazon as weaker versions (both physically and in writing) of Klingons and the Ocampa are poorly realized Space Elves. The whole getting stranded in the Delta Quadrant because of Janeway’s choice is never addressed either. In the end, it was average Star Trek.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/star-trek-voyager-pilot-caretaker-part-1-and-2-lost-in-space/

5 / 10

Broken Bow

6th) Star Trek: Enterprise – “Broken Bow Part 1 and 2”

How do you miss the point of Star Trek? You do what Enterprise did. You write people as needlessly antagonistic, not very smart, objectify them sexually and create enemies who are mysterious for the sake of being mysterious and than do nothing with it…oh, and also forget all about all pre-established Canon in the Star Treks that came before. This was the series that killed Star Trek, and this pilot fully captures the reasons why. If your characters are useless and unlikable, your story goes nowhere and the only things you seem to care about are sex and violence…you’ve missed the entire point of Star Trek and your series deserves to die.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/star-trek-enterprise-pilot-broken-bow-part-1-and-2-missing-the-point-of-star-trek/

1 / 10

With Abrams new “Star Trek” movies I have seen new fans being created of this series. This gives me hope that we’ll be seeing another Star Trek series sometime in my lifetime. There has already been talk of “Star Trek: Captain Worf,” which would be awesome (http://www.blastr.com/2013-8-20/michael-dorn-reveals-his-capt-worf-star-trek-tv-series-not-dead-yet) since he was part of what made “The Next Generation,” and “Deep Space Nine,” so interesting and Netflix has been talking about doing a series too (http://uproxx.com/gammasquad/2014/06/netflix-wants-to-make-a-new-star-trek-series-happen/). I am down for either of these or a different one, since I think the mistakes of “Nemesis,” and “Enterprise,” have been learned from. This universe is rich with stories that can be applied to our own and help us to grow, understand and appreciate one another…for it is in those great stories of Trek that we have the chance to think deeper about ideas and in that Universe being offered as a good possibility, it gives us a future worth striving for and to boldly go where we haven’t gone before.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Pilot – Emissary Part 1 and 2 – The Fallout of War and Occupation

Emissary

“Ironic. One who does not wish to be among us is to be the Emissary.” -Kai Opaka

The third week of the Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series brings us to “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” is one of my all time favorite Sci. Fi. shows. The themes it deals with (Religion, War, Occupation and Politics). The Episodes follow Commander Sisko  (the first Captain who doesn’t begin as a Captain) and his arrival at Deep Space Nine after losing his wife to Captain Picard as Locutus in the Battle of Wolf 359, the series was a spinoff of The Next Generation and you can see it with Picard leaving O’Brien behind to be Sisko’s Chief Engineer. We then jump three years forward to Sisko arriving on a broken DS9 and Post-Occupation Bajor, both places are wounded and broken a reflection of Sisko who is feeling the death of his wife that he has refused to face. It is a powerful opening and when Sisko arrives he meets all the players (the Ensemble cast, Dukat and the Bajoran Prophets).

Here is my assessment of the Episode:

The Tone: Unlike “Encounter at Farpoint,” “Emissary” starts with so much at stake. Bajor is at stake and Sisko and many others are in a new place they have no idea how to deal with, they could easily mess things up with Bajor or have another war with Cardassia. You can see this in the broken spaceship and broken Sisko who is still living the Battle of Wolf 359, it isn’t bright and happy…it captures the true realities of what people face, which is important to see so front and center on a show.

The Characters – DS9 is my favorite crew. There is Odo the only of his kind at this point (an alien shape-shifter and security officer), the everyman O’Brien (who has a history of bad blood with Cardassia having fought in the war), Quark (the first 3 Dimensional Ferengi, a practical bar owner), Garak (a former Cardassian spy), Jazdia Dax (the next Dax (Kurzon being Sisko’s former mentor), Bashir (the idealistic Doctor) and Major Kira (the former Bajoran Resistance Fighter) and of course Dukat (the former Prefect of Bajor, the man responsible for the occupation).

The themes: Occupation (a recovering government who is looked down upon by the Federation – Bashir’s “I chose the wilderness,” implying Bajor is the wilderness. Religion (the Bajoran orbs and Sisko being chosen as the one to speak for them (The Prophets are Bajor’s Gods and also Wormhole aliens), Moving on (Sisko facing the death of his wife Jennifer and choosing to live and help heal Bajor and the Station while dealing with his own healing).

The Ensemble cast – Not everyone who is a main cast member is a member of the crew, which you didn’t see in Trek’s up to this point with the exception of Guinan. This was perfect because it showed that the Federation was not perfect by giving those other perspectives. Not to mention that we have children on the station in the role as children (Sisko and Nog as examples). The set up was perfect and they had a great payoff. The Federation is important but not the only players…there are Bajoran, Cardassian, Civilian and Federation players right from the beginning.

Gul Dukat – The best villain in Trek. A complex baddie who is a charming meglomaniac.

Benjamin Sikso – Avery Brooks does a masterful job playing Commander Sisko, from dealing with the post Wolf 359 Trauma of losing his wife, his conflict with Picard and the station’s crew members and with the Prophets (teaching them about corporeal linear life forms and them teaching him how to move forward). There is a reason Captain Sikso (as he would be later) is my favorite of the Captains.

The ending – Sets the stage for later conflicts. Bajor is still going through political and religious strife as well as with the Cardassians and Federation. Sikso also has accepted his place and is able to resolve his differences with Picard on a professional level since he has finally left the ship where his wife died and is ready to command Deep Space Nine.

Okay – Some of the acting. You can tell some of them are new…none of them are as bad as Troi or Wesley though so I won’t put that in the cons. None of the actors are ever painful to watch and there are some good performances, but a lot of okay ones too.

Music – Isn’t memorable. Not bad, but not great. This would be standard Trek since TNG they got rid of their composer, at this point Star Trek only had stock musical varieties to try out that aren’t bad but aren’t good.

“Emissary,” is the best of the pilots. It establishes what the series will cover in full in regards to themes and establishes Dukat as the primary protagonist and the Prophets as one of the main people to shape the series (and even Odo as being the Outsider who was discovered around this area). All of these things that the Pilot establishes have payoff later, even receiving more good from TNG (O’Brien and later Worf), which only adds to the political and philosophical complexity of the show. I highly recommend this show for any lover of political sci. fi…it is here that you see many of the seeds and themes that Ronald Moore would use later in the new Battlestar Galactica. This is a show I’ve enjoyed watching since High School and don’t see ever getting old. “Deep Space Nine,” is the best of the Star Treks.

I would rate “Emissary” as 9 / 10. There are enough great themes, acting and writing to elevate over a simple good episode.

DS9

The Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series

Star-Trek-Logo-star-trek-original-series-19173893-1440-900

Today is going to be the first day of my first weekly series. Every week around Thursday or Friday I will be reviewing a Star Trek Pilot Episode or Episodes in each Star Trek Series. In the case of the Original Series I’ll be reviewing “The Cage” for the first time Star Trek was seen on television and later “The Man Trap,” the series that represented the first time the Original Series that is known was introduced.

Next week will be Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Encounter at Farpoint Part 1 and 2,” (the rockiest start of the Treks) the week after Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s “Emissary Part 1 and 2,” (The best of the pilots) the following week Star Trek: Voyager’s “Caretaker Part 1 and 2” (Where the series began to go downhill) and to end it Star Trek Enterprise’s (As much as I want to deny it being part of Star Trek) “Broken Bow Part 1 and 2.”

I am a Trekkie. Much of my inspiration for my creative writing both science fiction and otherwise arose out of some of the best stories in these science fiction series. As the reviews of the pilots continues weekly you’ll find more glimpses of why the majority of the Star Trek series are series that I look on with fond memories and inspiration to this day.