Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Ascent   Rewatch 
May 1, 2016 2:09 PM - Season 5, Episode 9 - Subscribe

If Quark and Odo are to survive, they'll have to depend on each other as they climb... into thin air.

Climb every mountain, cross every stream, follow every Memory Alpha link...

- The origin of this episode is to be found in Ira Steven Behr's love for the 1949 Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot; Behr had always wanted to do an episode with Odo in the role of Vladimir and Quark in the role of Estragon. The problem Behr had was with the story. The play has no discernible plot at all; it is simply about two characters sitting around waiting for something undefined and something which never arrives, and they spend most of the play insulting one another. According to Behr, the only plot he could come up with for a Deep Space Nine episode was having Odo and Quark waiting somewhere for Sisko to bring them a runabout, but they've no idea why or how long they've been there. Behr never got around to doing the episode, but when the writing staff decided to do a story about Odo and Quark getting into mortal danger somewhere off the station, he revived his Godot idea, and he and Robert Hewitt Wolfe used it as their template for "The Ascent".

- A major motivator for this episode was to deal with Odo's new status as a solid. According to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, "we wanted to do an episode emphasizing Odo's Human frailty, showing the effects on him of not being able to shape-shift. But we didn't want him to be fighting bad guys because we'd done stuff like that already. We wanted to have him going somewhere that would have been easy for Odo to get to if he could morph. So we put him and Quark up against the elements and had them climb a mountain."

- The outdoor scenes for this episode were filmed on Mt. Whitney, a 14,500' mountain in central California. Normally, Armin Shimerman has no problems with the Quark prosthetics, but shooting on this particular location proved different. When they arrived for the first day of shooting, the pressure inside the Quark head became too much for Shimerman and he nearly passed out. At first, there were fears that the entire episode may have to be pulled, but the on-set medic had actually prepared for altitude reactions and was able to ensure that Shimerman could shoot. According to Shimerman, "the medic's the hero of that episode."

- Rene Auberjonois commented "That was great for us to really get to work together, because Armin and I are very dear friends".

-Quark offers to teach Odo to play Fizzbin. This card game was invented over one hundred years earlier by James T. Kirk in TOS: "A Piece of the Action".

"We're going to clean every day?"
"No, just the odd and even ones."

- Jake and Nog

"Don't you get it? I'm not trying to save you. I'm taking you along as emergency rations. If you die, I'm gonna eat you."
"You're joking."
"Waste not, want not."

- Quark and Odo

"You remember back there, when I told you I hated you, and you told me you hated me?"
"I just wanted you to know... I meant every word of it."
"So did I."
(both chuckle)

- Quark and Odo, in the Defiant sickbay
posted by Halloween Jack (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This was an episode that I watched when I first started getting into the show. The quality of the script and the acting in this one was part of what convinced me to stick with DS9. I like hearing that Auberjonois and Shimerman are friends; I have never done a Trek convention, but if I did, I would like to see one of the Shimerman/Grodénchik vaudeville readings I've heard about.

As a side note, my wife was the set designer for a production of "Waiting for Godot." I actually read the script before seeing the performance, so I had a period where the play was really strongly in my mind.
posted by Slothrop at 2:30 PM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

No, it's not cannibalism if they're different species. That said, I have to imagine Odo's Founder-created "solid" form would taste pretty bland and weird, like a Tofurkey product that they forgot to put seasoning in.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:41 PM on May 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

"Don't you get it? I'm not trying to save you. I'm taking you along as emergency rations. If you die, I'm gonna eat you."

Quark is clearly telling Odo he loves him in the only way he knows how: by assigning a resource value to his body.
posted by ilana at 9:51 PM on May 2, 2016 [11 favorites]

I think I liked the ideas of this episode more than I liked the episode. Two odd couples, one ostensibly enemies, the other old friends whose lives have diverged to the point where they may as well be enemies seems like a great idea for an episode of DS9, and something which other Treks (up to that point) couldn't really have done as well.

But it just didn't work so great for me. For a start, the whole Odo taking Quark on his own, just the two of them on a runabout, no other guards, seemed a little unlikely. And no-one checked the ship before lift off, either manually or with some sensor device? With all the awesome sensors Starfleet has, this seemed bizarre. Also the ship explodes, but there is no tracking, no-one knows it has blown up? Is this right? I'm sure they have been able to detect ships blowing up in the past. And as soon as it blew up, Starfleet would have had teams out searching for them.

And the Nog and Jake thing was just sorta, as tagged, the odd couple, and it just didn't really work, although having Jake be writing a story called "Past Prologue" was a nice touch. Nice to see the change in Nog, how Starfleet has altered him (for better or worse?) and being the first Ferengi in Starfleet must be both honour and curse. Again, look how far and how different the Ferengi are compared to most of TNG - they are a real people here, on TNG they were almost comically stupid.

And nothing more (well, not yet...) comes of the Orion Syndicate Trial. And there is only one major crime syndicate? I know it's American and there is a bit of a Mafia thing going on there, but still, there are other crime cartels around, it would make sense for there to be more than one active in space.

The good stuff was obviously the dialogue and interplay between Quark and Odo: it was so bromancy it reminded me of the Sam/Diane love/hate stuff on Cheers. But it just sorta went on a bit for me, like, we get it, we've seen enough TV and movies to get the subtext, can we do something else now? Oh no, it just carries on.

Interesting to see Geordie LaForge behind the Camera for this one. It hasn't much in the way of action, and is well directed for what it is, especially the Quark/Odo parts, which must have been awkward to film. I often wonder (as happened on ST:TNG as well) how actors got to direct episodes of the shows. Like, how do you chose who is directing an episode? (I have actually thought about making an ask about this, how the director/crew for a TV programme is chosen, who decides, do they apply, send in a CV, what?)

Imo, the main thing this episode had going for it was that it was a different sort of episode, and shows off the differences between DS9 and other Treks.
posted by marienbad at 3:30 PM on May 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I know that it seems awfully convenient to have the security tech fail, but I'm OK with it being more of a failure on the part of the grand jury in that they seemed to have thought that simply not telling anyone about the purpose of the grand jury would have been sufficient. (There may have been some anti-shapeshifter prejudice in play in not telling Odo, who, as he said, would have taken the Defiant with all sorts of security if he had known that the Orion Syndicate was involved.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:56 AM on May 4, 2016

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