Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A Man Alone   Rewatch 
May 3, 2015 1:21 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Bashir tries to escape the friendzone. Jake makes a new friend. Sisko gets to know an old one. Keiko O'Brien sets up a school. And Odo is accused of murder.
posted by Solomon (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think it was around this time that the fan crabbing really got cooking. People were realizing that this really was a different kind of Trek show, that we really were going to stay in one place and dig in and explore the conflicts and shifting loyalties. I remember hearing a lot about how "dark and depressing" the show was. It's funny that 10 years later the Battlestar Galactica reboot came along, and a lot of fans praised it for being Voyager done right, all broody and complex.

I have long believed that the endless fan complaints are what really killed the franchise. The fans bitched long and loud about DS9 when it was on, and longer and louder about Voyager. They pretty much hated every TNG movie but First Contact. I mean, they RIPPED on this stuff, the complaining online was just endless. And the critics weren't much kinder. (DS9 is rightly respected today, but reviews of the time were a lot less enthusiastic.)

And I think you can watch the joy leak out of Trek, as the new century began. Berman and Braga and all those guys just kept hearing about how they sucked and they were ruining Trek (even though they were the guys who made '90s Trek great). You end up with blah stuff like Enterprise and that TNG movie with the paradise planet where everybody lives forever and hummingbirds flutter by in sloooow motion. The urgency was gone, and so was the fun.

It may be that the Trek guys just got tired of Trek. But I think it was more likely they lost their way after hearing so much about how they couldn't do anything right. I mean, they gave us a show like DS9, and got slapped down hard for it. Where do you go from there?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:53 PM on May 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


DS9 was ahead of its time, and was also a first-draft of what darker sci-fi could be. And it shows, there's lots of rough seams where you have "more realistic/darker take" running into "typical Star Trek jokes/hamminess" especially in this first season.

I kept wishing (and I remember this from the first time) that Jadzhia would quit smiling so much at Bashir; that dude needed to be shut down hard, not just gently mocked. They turned it down later in the series, but at the beginning he's like Riker crossed with Wesley at his most annoying, which is just a big NOPE.

I liked the school plotline, though it doesn't speak well of the Federation that they don't have any teachers to dispatch to all those stations and ships where kids are. I can't imagine anyone as impatient and twitchy as Keiko being good with such a challenging group of students, especially since she had no teacher training at all.

Keiko and O'Brian's lack of chemistry annoyed me at the time this came out, but as an older person, I've met enough couples that make you wonder how the fuck they got together that it reads as realistic to me. But sad!

The new clone was horrifying even as it was fakey as hell. And I give the side-eye to their 24th century science not recognizing what it was earlier. But then I laughed that the new clone was apparently allowed to finish developing and then went on to live a nice life. Who educated it? Who trained it? Cloning duplicates a body, not memories or skill sets or bank accounts. Such sloppy plotting!
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 PM on May 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked the school plotline, though it doesn't speak well of the Federation that they don't have any teachers to dispatch to all those stations and ships where kids are.

The show never really addresses it, but I wonder if the Federation just didn't plan for Deep Space 9 that well. It was a distant outpost that wasn't really that valuable to them (until the wormhole opens).
posted by drezdn at 9:20 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Jake and Nog friendship is one of the great things about the series, and it's fun to watch it start again.
posted by drezdn at 9:21 PM on May 3, 2015


Keiko and O'Brien were having problems with their marriage when the show started. Their love was always prone to conflict, and that was something I really liked about it. It was a difficult but rewarding marriage, something we see too rarely in fiction and would have no reason to expect in a Trek show.

It was later established that Jadzia enjoyed Bashir's clumsy flirting, something entirely fitting for her character. Audiences didn't seem to enjoy it, but I understand that the show was trying to make Bashir a different kind of Star Trek doctor. He was a good guy and he had plenty of skill, but he was arrogant, naive and untested. When his character finally clicks he clicks big-time, and all of the awkward early stuff makes more sense in context.

I think DS9 was as dark in its own way as a lot of the shows that followed it. These characters see some truly awful stuff, and do some awful things.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:48 PM on May 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


How many Starfleet officers are on DS9? A few dozen maybe? Considering the small size of the school and that most of the staff on the station are Bajoran I guess it makes sense that there is no Federation teacher. Presumably Jake would be taking computer based classes if not for Keiko.

I always liked Keiko and Miles, though when I first watched TNG and DS9 I was too young to pick up on things like romantic chemistry. Still, on rewatch, it doesn't bother me. I think it's good to see different perspectives on how having a family affects your life when space travel is the norm, but not entirely safe.

(Like, thinking back to the pilot, shouldn't the ships have offloaded their civilians before heading into a battle like Wolf 359? Or, maybe once all the ships were there they could have transported the civilians all into one ship and fled back to Earth with them? Because then there would be less drama, of course.)
posted by 2ht at 5:20 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Borg were really cruising when Wolf 359 happened, so there probably wasn't any time. Ships like the Enterprise could have probably loaded all of the civilians into the saucer section and separated, but considering what the Borg do to prisoners, it was probably safer to keep them together.
posted by drezdn at 7:15 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like this episode because it's the start of Quark and Odo's friendship. Odo does seem a little out of character, though, to be chatting amiably to Quark when he professes to intensely dislike him.

I wasn't such a big fan of the Ibudan plot device. It seemed a rather convoluted way to show ... what? Odo isn't a murderer? It didn't seem to tie in with anything else in the episode. And if you're clever enough to create a clone of yourself, surely you can give yourself some plastic surgery? Looking back, it all just seems silly that Odo would be a murderer, which I suppose is colouring my view.

I love Keiko. I don't think we see enough of her, apart from in The Assignment. It's difficult of course to have use for a botanist on the station, but she could have done some stuff on Bajor, perhaps.

Jake and Nog annoy me.

It's nice to learn a little more about the Trill and their complicated society. It would be interesting to see the evolutionary process that created a symbiotic species like that.
posted by Solomon at 11:26 AM on May 4, 2015


But to elaborate on my earlier pointless fan gripe, there was no discussion about "applying for a teacher" from the Federation (there would have to be a process for something like that) just "hey Keiko, you're bored, start a school!" Which is sexist (women love to teach and nurture kids: Keiko is a woman: of course she can teach!) and dismissive of the hard work of teaching, especially teaching kids of many ages/cultures/species for crying out loud.

It's one of those things that makes you think "someone's been leaning too heavily on their sexist plot tropes kit" kind of like how there are no good drugs to make birth painless whenever someone gives birth. In the 24th century? Really? Medical science has not progressed in this critical area at all? Of course it would have. But that's not the kind of thing the writers ever seem to consider, just plug in "typical birth scene, painful with lots of yelling, baby pops out" and there you go.
posted by emjaybee at 12:41 PM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, "Let's grow a clone in the lab" without anybody apparently caring what happens to the clone afterwards is an extraordinarily weird way to resolve the murder mystery. I think the writers of the show were often good at characterization and dialogue, and not so great at "let me think through the implications of what I just made up."

I wonder if anyone's written any fanfic that's like a Starfleet ethics report on Bashir. In the course of the show there's the grow-a-clone incident, trying out an experimental medical treatment on someone he was dating, memory-wiping a patient when the patient's brother asks him to, and probably more ethically questionable activities that I've forgotten.
posted by creepygirl at 7:25 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's one of those things that makes you think "someone's been leaning too heavily on their sexist plot tropes kit"

To be fair, in this specific case it's really more of a "someone's been leaning too heavily on their Old West character tropes kit in an effort to live up to the frontier-town series concept" sort of thing--specifically, the schoolmarm of the one-room schoolhouse. That was the writers' stated intent. I sort of wish they'd done more with it, to counteract the kinda overt shoehorning of Keiko into the role, but they did get SOME good mileage out of it later during (IIRC) the season finale.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


But to elaborate on my earlier pointless fan gripe, there was no discussion about "applying for a teacher" from the Federation (there would have to be a process for something like that) just "hey Keiko, you're bored, start a school!" Which is sexist (women love to teach and nurture kids: Keiko is a woman: of course she can teach!) and dismissive of the hard work of teaching, especially teaching kids of many ages/cultures/species for crying out loud.

Yeah, Miles and Keiko's relationship, particularly in these earlier episodes hits some weird and regressive notes. I mean, fuck yeah Miles O'Brien, but Keiko's career as a botanist was likely a flourishing (sorry) one if she was posted to the Enterprise. It doesn't seem at all like a given that they would move to further his career at the expense of hers. It would've made more sense if it'd been portrayed as a more mutual decision to move to DS9 (perceived as a safer/more stable place to raise kids, maybe?) and then Keiko had buyer's remorse after getting there.
posted by kagredon at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2015


Starfleet career ambitions impacting relationships are a resident premise in Trek (see Riker and Troi). Feeling like he had to choose between marriage/family and career was one of the evolving themes in Jean-Luc Picard's storyline. I like that they show it's impact on a sustained marriage, rather than just saying "oh yeah, this won't work because career." And I like O'Brien all the more for deciding he didn't have to choose.
posted by dry white toast at 9:37 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I like O'Brien all the more for deciding he didn't have to choose.

I definitely think Keiko felt like she had to choose, though, or maybe that Miles didn't let her have the choice. I don't think it's implausible or a bad storyline for the show--I'm in academia, where people find themselves in the O'Briens' situation so often that there's a pithy name for it--but I wish the show had a little more sympathy for or exploration of Keiko's perspective on it.
posted by kagredon at 10:24 PM on May 9, 2015


The Ferengi prosthetics are rough in these early episodes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:40 PM on February 15


This aired 3 years before Dolly and 6 years before research showed shortened telomeres in clones, so I guess the "characteristic gene-sequence degradation" was technobabble that turned out to be right!
posted by joeyh at 2:54 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]


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