Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Things Past   Rewatch 
April 27, 2016 4:21 AM - Season 5, Episode 8 - Subscribe

DS9 officers (and one tailor) experience a nightmare on Odo Street (hat tip to Levar Burton).

All quotes and trivia are from the Memory Alpha page on the episode.

"Giving me a name tag that read, 'Elim Garak - Former Cardassian Oppressor' was hardly polite."
- Garak, to Jadzia Dax on the Bajoran conference

"This is the fourth assassination attempt I've survived."

"Maybe you should find another job."
- Gul Dukat and Dax

"You were special. You were the one man who stood apart from everyone else, the one man who stood for justice. Now what?"

"Now I'm just another imperfect solid."

"Okay. The Prophets know I'm not perfect. I guess the truth is that anyone who lived through the Occupation... had to get a little dirty. But I need to know that no other innocent people died on your watch, Odo. That this was the only time."

"I'm not sure. I hope so."
- Kira and Odo

* The impetus to create a dark past for Odo came from the writers' desire to sully his character to a degree. As Ronald D. Moore explains, "one of the things that always drove the writing staff nuts was the idea that Odo had been a policeman during the Cardassian Occupation, but had never gotten his hands dirty, that he had been above it all, and that everybody had trusted him. We never bought that. it seemed to me that if I were a Bajoran, I wouldn't trust the cop who's still on duty from the Occupation. Somewhere along the line something bad went down on Odo's watch. And "Things Past" was the show to say it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Interestingly, part of what Moore addresses here had been covered before. In the first season episode "A Man Alone", the character of Zayra inquires as to why the man appointed security chief of the station by the Cardassians is still security chief under the Bajorans.

* As with "Necessary Evil", this episode is another favorite of Rene Auberjonois's: "I loved the script. Odo's a character whom we've come to believe always tells the truth. In fact, in the pilot he says to Dukat, 'There's one thing that you know about me - I never lie.' We've tried to be consistent with that. But that doesn't mean he doesn't lie to himself. He is this wonderfully contradictory character, in that he's made of liquid, but he's very rigid." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* This is the first appearance of Elim Garak since the fourth season episode "Broken Link" where he was sentenced to six months in prison for sabotage and assaulting Worf. Apparently, this episode is set six months after the aforementioned episode.
posted by Slothrop (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I remember this one kind of freaked me out a little the first time I saw it. I knew Trek enough to surmise what was generally happening, but I still got sucked in to the oppressive tension.

Gotta give a shout-out to Kurtwood Smith, who nailed his key scenes with Odo. Plus a really strong performance from Terry Farrell.

LeVar's an awesome director. This one hinged on subtle acting, and on the overall mood. Nailed it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:44 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Garak's insistence on providing a balancing perspective at the conference sounded awfully familiar!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:49 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yet another really good episode... although I wonder why Kira didn't play a bigger role. She would seem like a more natural character for this than Dax, so she could deal with being back in the days of the Occupation and playing the role of Dukat's "friend", and she could witness Odo's mistake firsthand instead of reading about it in a report.

Maybe they felt like they had given Kira too many scenes like that, or they felt like putting her in the episode would automatically make it too much about Kira instead of it being focused on Odo. Or maybe they wanted to give Dax some juicy stuff to do. Kira was such a feisty character (and Visitor was so terrific in the role) that they probably didn't need to worry too much about coming up with interesting stuff for her. Throw Kira into just about any situation, and you've got conflict. But Dax took a while to gel and it probably took more effort to keep her interesting. Reading these rewatch threads reminds me just how far she came from the first season!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:45 PM on April 27, 2016

although I wonder why Kira didn't play a bigger role.

She gave birth to her & Siddig's baby during the filming of the previous week's episode per the Memory Alpha page on it, so, it's kind of incredible that she's in this show at all. But, I don't know that having her in the dream with Sisko, Garak, & Odo would have been a good choice even if she had been fully available - some of it would be a retread of 'Necessary Evil' and the ongoing thread of Gul Dukat hitting on Kira would have made their scenes ickier.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:27 PM on April 27, 2016

Just finished my rewatch and, as it happens, one of the things that really impressed me was how Dax was used in this episode. Not only does she adapt to the role that she has been thrust into, that of a teenage girl, but she instantly adopts the manner of a shy and somewhat terrified teenager, and even borrows the name of Leeta, who would have been a teenager at this point in time. Dax similarly adapted very quickly to the milieu of 2020s San Francisco; it's true that she would have been around during these times, in one host or another (and pre-joining Jadzia would have been alive at this point in the Occupation, for that matter), but I doubt that either Jadzia or Curzon visited the station during the Terok Nor era--if Curzon did, it would have been cleaned up Potemkin Village-style. She's just very good at adopting different personas very quickly because she's been very different people at different times. (Which makes me wonder if a certain organization that we find out about next season makes particular use of joined Trill.)

Speaking of covert operatives (of sorts), I also took note of Garak's seeming adoption of standard Cardassian attitudes and beliefs in the runabout scene, plus a bit of casual racism when they were in Quark's later. I'm of two minds about this and similar scenes, such as when he's discussing Cardassian culture with Bashir at the Replimat; on the one hand, he may make a point of defending Cardassian ethics and beliefs because he assumes he's being monitored by the Obsidian Order or their successors, and wants to make a show of loyalty (in the best Cardassian fashion) in case they might relent and allow him to return home. On the other hand, I think that he also realizes how fucked-up Cardassia really is, and overdoes the apologism just a skosh, in his typical arch fashion, as a sort of dogwhistle to anyone sharp enough to catch it that he's not really into all of that propaganda. (And, on the third hand, the scene in Quark's may have been intended to bolster his planned claim that he wasn't really Bajoran, in case any of the Cardassians had cameras or microphones planted there, and why wouldn't they.) Our favorite tailor believes in layering.

Also, yes, Kurtwood Smith was great. Sisko aptly observed that Thrax didn't quite have the "casual brutality" (a great two-word summation) of most Cardassians, especially most in a security-related position. It's great fun to compare Thrax to the slightly foppish Federation president that Smith played in Star Trek VI.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah!, those were indeed some of the same reasons I speculated about. It's true that they'd played some of these beats with Kira before, but she still seems like she would have played a larger role in a script that ends with her confronting Odo about his role in the Occupation. I don't mean it as criticism really, the episode still works.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:26 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another good one, and it's a strange episode. Levar Burton's direction is excellent, and the roles as played by Dax, Sisko, Odo, and Garak are very well done. The plot device is a bit strange, but the idea of going back to examine an issue where Odo made a mistake is a good one. So much for "I understand Justice" - this episode puts paid to that somewhat.

The lighting and decoration of DS9 when it is Tarok Nor is superb, it really has this dark, depressing feel to it. Even Quarks is dark and dismal, and his small parts are handled well - he is a very different character in this compared to the Quark of DS9. The Bajoran areas are so drab and miserable looking they are pretty much perfect.

The moment where Thrax calls Odo by his real name, not his bajoran identity, is, on first watch, one of those omg moments. And having Thrax change into a changling is a nice twist, as it makes things even more intriguing before the reveal.

Dax is great in this one, I am glad they went with her and not Kira, as Kira is too tied up in all the occupation stuff already, whereas Dax wasn't a part of it, so to have her become a Bajoran girl caught up in this, and then taken to Dukat works well. She handles the role perfectly, and as mentioned, has developed so much as an actress and a character since season one. Her interaction with Dukat is great.

And Dukat is the egotistical ruler we all know and love. His "the Bajorans are my children" line makes my skin crawl, and his over demeanour throughout the episode is so in line with what we know of him from other episodes. He is such a great bad guy, and Marc Aliamo is so in tune with the character now, he is again excellent in his role.
posted by marienbad at 10:07 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

On the other hand, I think that he also realizes how fucked-up Cardassia really is, and overdoes the apologism just a skosh, in his typical arch fashion, as a sort of dogwhistle to anyone sharp enough to catch it that he's not really into all of that propaganda.

YES. This was my read as well. And what's interesting is, who knows whether the writers intended it that way-- or Robinson merely added that layer himself? He definitely was "into" the material enough to have done so (he literally wrote the book on Garak after all).
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:20 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

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