Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 9, 2003)
A mere five weeks after the DVD release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s first season, we get the series’ second year. That year offered my initial experience with the program. I thought it started roughly but improved noticeably during the second half of the year.
Did that trend continue during Season Two’s 26 episodes? Read on and see! These shows will be discussed in the order broadcast, which is also the way in which they appear on the DVDs.
Season Two launches with The Homecoming, a look at issues related to Bajor, the planet located near Deep Space Nine that technically controls the station. Quark (Armin Shimerman) gets a mysterious Bajoran earring to return. He shows it to Bajoran Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), who reacts strongly and subsequently asks Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) for use of a shuttle. Though reluctant to discuss it, she indicates that the earring indicates the continued survival of Bajoran resistance leader Li Nalas (Richard Beymer), a hostage on Cardassia IV. Eventually Sisko lets her go, but he insists that Chief O’Brien accompany her. Their mission succeeds, but matters complicate when they return, partially due to the actions of a Bajoran extremist group.
”Homecoming” starts the second season with a pretty good show. The rescue sequences provide a nice dollop of action, and the program doesn’t telegraph its points. Developments progress at a logical pace and the show flows fairly smoothly; I got no impression that the folks behind it tried to push things. The growth of issues related to Bajor adds some depth to this solid episode.
Though not formally listed as such, “The Homecoming” acted as the first segment of a three-part program. The Circle offers the second segment. As such, if you want to avoid potential spoilers about the progression, you should skip the next paragraph.
With the return of Li Nalas, he gets the assignment to become the new Bajoran liaison officer on board DS9. That means he’ll replace Major Kira, despite Sisko’s protests. Problems with The Circle – the Bajoran extremist group – intensify while Kira returns to Bajor to start a new life in a monastery. In an unlikely alliance, security officer Odo (Rene Auberjonois) deputizes Quark to help him trace the source of the weapons going to The Circle.
”The Circle” moves along the three-part program fairly well, though it seems less compelling than “Homecoming”. That’s mostly because of the elements related to Kira’s time on Bajor. Those moments come across as a little drippy and take away from the more aggressive tone seen elsewhere in the show. However, the non-Kira parts demonstrate some definite intrigue and work well.
For the end of the three-part sequence, we move to The Siege. Again, if you want to skip potential spoilers related to the first two parts, jump past the following paragraph.
A Bajoran civil war precipitated by The Circle seems imminent. Despite evidence of Cardassian involvement, Starfleet wants to stay out of it, so they order the evacuation of DS9 of non-Bajorans. Kira and Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) pilot an ancient shuttle back to Bajor to communicate vital information. Sisko, O’Brien and a few others stay behind to protect the station long enough for Kira and Dax to succeed.
If the remainder of Season Two continues to pace of its first three episodes, it should be a good year. “The Siege” completes the opening trilogy nicely, as it moves along the story well and offers a lot of compelling moments. The whole plot related to the Bajoran conflict creates a strong piece, and the three shows give us a nicely winning series.
Past coming back to haunt them alert: Beymer – best known as Tony from West Side Story - worked with Terry Farrell on the cheesy and short-lived TV series Paper Dolls in 1984.
For our first episode after the end of the trilogy, we get Invasive Procedures. A plasma storm forces the temporary evacuation of parts of DS9 and brings an affected ship to the station. The latter actually includes some nasties led by a Trill named Verad (John Glover). He tried to get a host symbiont like Jadzia but failed, and he wants to claim Dax for himself.
Parts of Season One hinted at the complexities of Trill existence, and “Invasive” helps develop those themes. Given the prestigious status of symbionts on that planet, it’s interesting to see how failure to become one negatively affects the others, and given Verad’s obvious mental instabilities, the show becomes more complex. A nice change of pace after the more militaristic episodes that preceded it, “Invasive” presents an intriguing program.
The hatred between the Bajorans and the Cardassians receives additional exploration in this episode. When a Bajoran man arrives on DS9 with an adolescent Cardassian named Rugal (Vidal Peterson) in tow, local Cardassian Garak the tailor (Andrew Robinson) goes for a chat with the kid. The boy takes a chomp out of Garak’s hand, and Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) decides to investigate. He involves other staff as we learn that some Bajorans adopted Cardassian war orphans. His dad declares love for Rugal, but rumors abound that the Bajorans mistreat their adopted Cardassian charges as a way to get revenge on that race. Sisko also involves Cardassian Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) as the plot thickens and the DS9 staff try to figure out who to believe. While this occurs, Rugal stays with Chief O’Brien and his wife Keiko (Rosalind Chao), and the Chief confronts his own prejudices about the Cardassians.
The Cardassians first appeared during Season Four of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that species appeared sporadically during the series’remaining years. However, Next Generation didn’t explore the Cardassians to the degree seen during DS9, and this program helps get into that group with a little more depth. Unfortunately, it gets a little too touchy-feely at times, as the show occasionally comes across as not much more than a preachy treatise in tolerance. “Cardassians” starts well and has its moments, but it indulges in sappy tendencies a bit too often.
DS9 receives a new officer in the form of Ensign Melora Pazlar (Daphne Ashbrook). The first Elaysian in Starfleet, she comes from a planet with exceptionally low gravity. This means she requires accommodations like a wheelchair, but she refuses any assistance other than the bare basics, and she actively opposes other help. Bashir attempts to crack her shell and get her to lighten up. In the meantime, a mysterious figure named Fallit Kot (Peter Crombie) arrives on DS9 and tells Quark he plans to kill him to repay an old debt.
After “Cardassians”, we didn’t need another episode that resembled an Afterschool Special, but unfortunately, “Melora” follows that line. It essentially treats Melora like a standard handicapped person and examines issues related to that. Any program that shows a couple make out in a low gravity situation makes me gag, and “Melora” suffers from a serious case of the sappies. The Fallit Kot subplot demonstrates some decent moments, but it feels like a self-conscious attempt to compensate for the gooey elements seen during the rest of the program. “Melora” feels like subpar DS9.
Originally seen in Season One’s “The Nagus”, Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn) returns for Rules of Acquisition. He plans an important conference with a Gamma Quadrant species called the Dosi on board DS9, and he wants Quark to act as his chief negotiator. A new waiter named Pel (Helen Udy) provides Quark with wise advice, so he gets his subordinate to work as his negotiating assistant. However, Pel has something to hide.
Because I don’t like to provide spoilers, I won’t reveal Pel’s secret. Suffice it to say that those elements undermine an otherwise entertaining program. The show remains fairly comic, but its political undertones become melodramatic and predictable. At least Wallace Shawn’s gleefully sleazy presence helps make the show more entertaining.
Note: I think that “Acquisition” offers the first DS9 mention of The Dominion. Since I never watched the series until I got these DVDs, I don’t know what will happen with that group, but I believe they become very important in later seasons.
At the start of Necessary Evil, a mysterious Bajoran former DS9 inhabitant (Katherine Moffat) lures Quark to find an item hidden on the station that she wants returned to her. He does this, and inside the box, he finds a list of eight Bajoran names. The woman’s accomplice grabs the list and blasts Quark, an action that puts our favorite Ferengi into a coma. Odo’s investigation into this attack leads him to revisit his own past during the Cardassian occupation as he goes into some unfinished business from that period.
After three straight gooey programs, the mystery of “Evil” helps clean the palate. Little about the episode stands out as particularly unusual or clever, but the show seems entertaining nonetheless. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to view DS9 back before Starfleet came onto the station. It’s also intriguing to examine Odo’s early efforts to behave as a detective and his first interactions with Kira and Quark. Oh, and Quark’s brother Rom (Max Grodenchik) may well offer the funniest fearful scream I’ve ever heard.
Second Sight starts on the fourth anniversary of the death of Sisko’s wife. While he strolls the station after hours, he meets Fenna (Salli Elise Richardson). They start to chat but she mysteriously vanishes. Sisko clearly feels intrigued by her and hopes to spend more time with her, which he subsequently does, but she remains strangely distant. In the meantime, we encounter a terraformer named Professor Seyetik (Richard Kiley). The cocky professor plans to reignite a dead sun in the Epsilon 119 sector and bring new life to the system.
When the two stories tie together, it doesn’t exactly come as a shock. Actually, it seems like a very lame plot device that takes “Sight” into serious soap opera territory. After a good start on DVD One, Season Two of DS9 has plodded since then. I hoped that “Necessary Evil” marked a return to form, but “Sight” resembles the sappy episodes that comprised the rest of DVD Two.
Sanctuary first introduces us to a Bajoran musician named Varani (William Schallert), a friend of Kira’s. We then encounter a small group of folks from the planet Skrreea who arrive at DS9 on a trouble ship. At first the crew can’t understand them since the universal translator can’t figure out their syntax. Eventually it begins to work and group leader Haneek (Deborah May) relates that she comes from a matriarchal society that needs to relocate all three million people. She buddies up to Kira as they all try to find a new home for these folks.
One of the reasons “Sanctuary” falters relates to Varani, and not just because he comes across like the Bajoran Kenny G. The character dangles like little more than an unnecessary plot device whose purpose never arrives. Perhaps he’ll become more meaningful in later episodes. In the meantime, the main story also sags. We never get much of a feel for the Skrreea, and the tale basically goes nowhere.
Note: “Sanctuary” offers another allusion to The Dominion, and we start to learn they may not be the nicest inhabitants of the galaxy.
The title of Rivals refers to two fights. We meet Martus Mazur (Chris Sarandon), a suave con man from the El-Aurian system. He gets arrested for scamming a widow, and when his cellmate dies, Martus snags a strange gambling orb. He tries to sell the orb to Quark but when he experiences a tremendous run of luck, he changes his mind and sets up his own Club Martus, an action that seriously upsets Quark. Various forms of really good or really bad luck then seem to infect the station. In the meantime, O’Brien and Bashir play a friendly game of racquetball. When the doctor cleans up the court with the chief, the latter becomes obsessed with victory.
While not a stellar episode of DS9, the fairly light-hearted “Rivals” at least rebounds from the series’ recent wimpy trend. Much of it seems predictable, but the show offers some amusing moments and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sarandon works well as the cocky con artist and helps make “Rivals” a fun program.
We learn more about Odo’s past in The Alternate. Dr. Mora (James Sloyan), the Bajoran scientist who was assigned to Odo after they found him, visits our favorite shape-shifter on DS9. He wants to investigate a trace that might indicate the origins of Odo’s race. When a group checks out this planet, an eruption causes some gas to leak, and the humanoids become seriously ill; due to his lack of lungs, only Odo seems to remain unaffected. However, they brought back a mutating life form that might relate to Odo as well as a mysterious artifact. Most of the episode follows attempts to learn more about this thingy, especially when it vanishes.
A fairly average program, “Alternate” relies a little too much on monster movie clichés, but it remains intriguing to get a better picture of Odo’s growth. His past connection with Mora creates an interesting clue about his development, even through the story becomes somewhat predictable during its final act. Still, “Alternate” offers a reasonably positive piece.
A little action greets us with Armageddon Game.
Bashir and O’Brien work to help the T’Lani and the Kelleruns destroy “harvesters”, biological weapons utilized in a long war between the two. After they finish off the devices, some Kelleruns bust in and shoot up the joint. This kills many of the scientists. Bashir and O’Brien narrowly survive, but representatives of the T’Lani and the Kelleruns tell Sisko the DS9 personnel are dead because O’Brien tripped a dormant security system. While the crew of DS9 tries to figure out what happened, the prematurely-judged-deceased O’Brien and Bashir attempt to survive in a hostile environment, a matter that becomes more difficult when we learn a harvester infected the chief.
While better than many other Season Two episodes, “Game” feels a little too much like an excuse for Bashir and O’Brien to bond. This becomes especially obvious when the chief turns ill and Bashir and he need to connect more strongly. Nonetheless, the show offers an interesting mystery as we wait to find out what brought about the Kellerun attack and the deception about the deaths, and it’s also unusual to get a glimpse of Star Trek mourning, even when short lived. The ending scene adds one very entertaining twist, by the way.
A flashback episode, Whispers starts with Chief O’Brien alone in a runabout and facing an uncertain destiny. He dictates a record that reveals what brought him there. As he notes, when O’Brien returns to DS9 from training to set up the security for a conference with the Paradas, many folks aboard the station treat him unusually. His daughter stays away from him, and his wife comes up with excuses to avoid him as well. Sisko lies to him, and when an important repair job crops up, it looks like this was created intentionally to keep him out of the way. The program follows O’Brien’s attempts to figure out why everyone else seemed so strange.
After “Game”, it appears a little soon to concentrate on O’Brien again, but this show’s total focus on the chief makes it unusual. The entire episode comes from his point of view, which also is something different than normal. The program feels a bit more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers than Trek at times, and parts of it become predictable, but “Whispers” comes across intriguing for the most part and it’s one of the more enjoyable programs of late.
In Paradise, Sisko and O’Brien go on a mission to find a good planet near the wormhole to colonize. However, one allegedly uninhabited spot isn’t quite as empty as they think. When they beam down to inspect it, they discover none of their mechanical devices work any longer, and they meet the locals. Part of a group who crashed there a decade earlier, these folks have created a simple farming clan due to the fact they can’t make working machines or fly off in their old ship; apparently nothing mechanical will work on the planet. Leader Alixus (Gail Strickland) preaches the value of their little community and strongly resists any outside influences, even when the lives of her peers lie in the balance.
Much of the time, Trek glorifies technologically primitive societies as purer and more natural ideals such as the one seen in Insurrection. “Paradise” presents a darker side of the picture. Indeed, “Paradise” takes more of a look at a cult than a happy community. The program moves along fairly predictable lines, as Alixus presents a transparent personality from minute one. However, I like the fact it doesn’t simply toe the normal “basic is better” line, and it creates a provocative examination of the issues.
During a basic mission to the Gamma Quadrant in Shadowplay, Dax and Odo beam to a planet due to a detected anomaly. While they inspect this, the local authorities capture them. It turns out that these folks have experienced a slew of unexplained kidnappings lately. Once they gain the trust of Protector Colyus (Kenneth Mars), they help conduct an investigation. In addition, the burgeoning romantic relationship between Kira and Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim) grows, and Sisko’s son Jake (Cirroc Lofton) gets an apprenticeship with Chief O’Brien.
Another episode with an isolated society seems awfully soon after “Paradise”, but “Shadowplay” provides some entertaining twists. I can’t discuss more than that or else I might ruin some of the fun. Suffice it to say that “Shadowplay” is more creative and distinctive than most episodes so far this year.
We learn more about the Trill processes in Playing God. Arjin (Geoffrey Blake) is a symbiont initiate who comes to DS9 to go through field training with Dax. The pair butt heads through this process. In the meantime, while those two go on a trek through the wormhole, they pick up a mass on the runabout that ultimately causes problems back on the station.
Farrell’s not one of DS9’s stronger actors, and Dax remains possibly the series’ least compelling character. This means that a show with a heavy focus on Dax probably won’t go much of anywhere, and that fate befalls “God”. The examination of the field training process offers an interesting take, but it fails to prosper, and the subplot with the mass doesn’t help make up for those concerns.
Some additional exploration of Quark’s past appears in Profit and Loss. A troubled Cardassian ship docks at DS9, and Professor Natima Lang (Mary Crosby) disembarks with two students. She turns out to be Quark’s past love. She freaks when she sees Garak at the bar, and we soon learn that she and the kids are part of a non-militaristic Cardassian underground movement. The DS9 staff try to assist them while Quark tries to regain her affection.
I suppose the concept of a lovestruck Quark should seem worthwhile, but it doesn’t really work. A sincere Quark comes across as fake, though it’s interesting to get some greater exploration of the character. I also like the additional depth given to the Cardassians, as the resistance movement pads our understanding of that society. The show balances these pros and cons to be average overall.
Events from Dax’s past return in Blood Oath. A trio of Klingons - Kor (Jon Colicos), Koloth (William Campbell) and Kang (Michael Ansara) – reunite with Dax on DS9 to fulfill a decades-old quest to deal with “The Albino”. The Klingons used to be very close to Curzon Dax, and each deals with Jadzia in different ways. She needs to figure out whether she must keep the oath she swore as Curzon or if she should go her own way.
“Oath” attempts to get quite philosophical, but it doesn’t pull off those efforts very well. The Next Generation could do an episode of that sort, but at least so far, DS9 lacks the introspective nature of its predecessor. That makes a show that views deep subjects tough to succeed, and while “Oath” presents some good ideas, it only feels decent at best as an episode.
Trivia note: all of the actors who play Klingons here reprised roles originated back on the original Star Trek in the Sixties.
A departing Cardassian ship explodes at the start of The Maquis, Part I. As the crew investigates the intentional destruction of the vessel, Commander Calvin Hudson (Bernie Casey), the Starfleet attaché to the colonies in the demilitarized zone shared with the Cardassians and Sisko’s old friend, comes to consult. Gul Dukat also appears on the scene and tells Sisko they need to take a runabout and check out some things together. Sisko responds because Dukat implicates the Federation in the action. Slowly they start to learn of underground activities that seem aimed at creating increased tensions between Starfleet and the Cardassians. While this examination progresses, a Vulcan named Sakonna (Bertila Damas) tries to procure weapons through Quark, and it seems quite likely the two plots are connected.
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