Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 29, 2003)
At last, we start to enter the home stretch! With the release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Five, the finish line comes into sight. Only two more years of the series remain after this one, so let’s plow through Season Five’s 26 programs. These shows will be discussed in the order broadcast, which is also the way in which they appear on the DVDs.
Season Five launches with Apocalypse Rising, an episode that follows up on the events of Season Four’s year-ending “Broken Link”. In that episode, we found out that Klingon leader Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) is actually a changeling. In addition, Security Chief Odo (Rene Auberjonois) lost his shape-shifting abilities in that program. During “Rising”, Starfleet commands Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) to attempt to expose Gowron’s real identity, and Odo also attempts to deal with his large life change. Oh, and Major Kira (Nana Vistor) still has to contend with her surrogate pregnancy as she carries the baby of Keiko O’Brien (Rosalind Chao).
Most years of DS9 start with impressive spectacles, but “Rising” presents a more low-key affair. Actually, it largely seems like a gimmick to place some of our leads in Klingon disguises. This creates one bizarre plot concern: the crew fears that folks will recognize the heavily altered features of Sisko, Odo, and Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) but no one seems to worry that the Klingons will detect the well-known Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn)? Still, it offers a reasonably entertaining exploration of its subject as it furthers the Dominion threat and also provides some form of resolution for the Klingon threat that came to the fore in the prior season.
During a mineral survey on Torga IV, a Jem’Hadar warship crashes on the planet surface. The Ship contains no survivors, so Sisko decides to claim it for further study. Unfortunately, another Jem’Hadar vessel comes a-calling to retrieve it, which means the Federation crew hole up in the crashed vessel until they can figure out how to keep the ship and stay alive.
The Ship offers a claustrophobic adventure that works well for the most part. Its main misstep comes from some sappy elements related to Ensign (FJ Rio). The DS9 equivalent of a red shirt, he exists solely to add some unneeded pathos to the story. Unfortunately, those moments just steal time from the more compelling confrontation with the Jem’Hadar. Nonetheless, The Ship mainly seems intriguing as it maintains a good sense of tension.
When a Klingon named Grilka (Mary Kay Adams) comes aboard DS9 in Looking for Par’Mach in All the Wrong Places, Worf finds himself enraptured with her. However, matters quickly complicate when we get a reminder that she’s Quark’s (Armin Shimerman) ex-wife from the marriage of convenience that occurred in Season Three. Worf chases after her but gets rebuffed because of the continued dishonor placed upon his family name. Worf gets even more upset when he sees Quark trying to ignite a flame with his ex. However, he swallows his pride and does the Cyrano thing to help Quark woo Grilka.
After a couple of fairly intense episodes, we get some comic relief in Places. It’s fun to see the always-intense Worf become love struck. The show doesn’t make him act out of character, as he pursues his romantic intentions with the usual forcefulness. It never makes much sense that he helps Quark, however, and the show ultimately feels like a little more than an excuse to officially launch the romance between Worf and Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). Despite those awkward elements, “Places” still seems entertaining.
As they return from a medical conference, Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Sisko’s son Jake (Cirroc Lofton) get a distress call from a colony under attack by the Klingons. In ...Nor the Battle to the Strong, they head to help the medical needs of the colonists. While there, Jake gets enlisted to help with basic aid, which gives him a crash course in the realities of war.
It seems that episodes which concentrate on either Bashir or Jake often offer some of the series’ weakest. Theoretically, that means that one which focuses on the pair should really stink, right? In reality, “Battle” doesn’t provide an embarrassment, but it also fails to become anything particularly compelling. As with other Jake-centric shows, a lot of the problem stems from Lofton’s flat performance, as he never brings much conviction to the role. “Battle” feels more like a cheesy episode of M*A*S*H than Trek.
Keiko O’Brien returns from a trip to Bajor in The Assignment with a surprise: she ain’t actually herself. Some entity has taken control of her body and holding it hostage unless Miles does what she wants. The entity forces Miles to enact various changes around the station, which he does while he attempts to figure out a solution to the problem that won’t endanger DS9 or Keiko.
“Assignment” creates some intrigue because O’Brien can’t clue any of his compatriots in on what he’s doing. This means he has to act unethically at times, something we don’t often see Starfleet personnel do. Those elements make “Assignment” a little more interesting than it might otherwise be, even if the show’s conclusion never seems in doubt.
For an update on probably the most famous episode from the original series, we get Trials and Tribbleations. During a routine mission on board the Defiant, Sisko and crew get sent back in time where they encounter the original Enterprise as they went through a plot executed by a Klingon. Changed to look like a human, that baddie was foiled back in the day, so his long-disgraced DS9-era version tries to change history. The DS9 crew need to make sure that doesn’t happen, and along the way, they encounter that furry plague known as the tribbles.
“Trials” feels rather gimmicky at times, but it still comes across as a reasonably enjoyable show. The program melds shots from the old program neatly and does so to amusing effect. It lacks much of a plot to flesh out the comedy, but it’s nonetheless a fun program.
Worf and Dax take their first vacation together during Let He Who Is Without Sin.... They head to pleasure planet Risa, and Bashir, Leeta (Chase Masterson) and Quark tag along for the ride. The stuffy Worf finds it somewhat tough to deal with the moral looseness on Risa, so he and Dax argue. Worf meets Pascal Fullerton (Monte Markham), the leader of a group called the Essentialists who want to combat allegedly immoral tendencies in the Federation, and decides to assist them on their quest.
“Sin” feels simplistic and melodramatic. It comes across as though it exists solely to give us some revelations about Worf’s character. It doesn’t do so in a particularly interesting way and it seems too concerned with that form of exposition to create an interesting episode.
We get a taste of Things Past when a party returns from a conference on Bajor but gets waylaid on a DS9 of years gone. The bodies of Sisko, Odo, Dax and Cardassian tailor Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) remain barely alive while they enter this mysterious experience. Bashir and the othes on DS9 try to figure out how to bring them back to consciousness while our foursome deal with their situation.
Trek series sure do love their alternate reality episodes, and “Past” provides an average one. As with “Sin”, it feels like it exists mostly to set up some character revelations that manifest themselves at the end. At least it supports those moments with a reasonably intriguing mystery.
One Ferengi departs in The Ascent while another returns. Rom’s son Nog (Aron Eisenberg) – now a Starfleet cadet – comes back to DS9 for his field studies. This enacts another change, as Jake moves out of his dad’s place and rooms with Nog. This doesn’t become as much fun as Jake expects, for Nog has turned much more serious in the interim. In addition, Odo finally gets his wish to take Quark to justice, so they take a runabout to head to a Federation tribunal. Matters complicate when they discover a bomb onboard. It explodes and strands them on an inhospitable planet.
“Ascent” offers another character-based episode without much plot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s interesting to see some intense interaction between longtime enemies Odo and Quark. Still, after three straight shows in this vein, it’d be good to get one with a real story one of these days.
Bajor finally gets accepted to the Federation in Rapture. Sisko attempts to solve an ancient Bajoran mystery involving the location of a lost city as well, but an energy bolt bops him in the head and apparently leaves him with enhanced sensory abilities. Via some visions, he thinks he figures out the city’s location, so he and girlfriend Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) – just returned from prison – head off to Bajor to find it.
“Rapture” finds Sisko in serious Roy Neary territory and provides an intriguing tale as we learn about the Bajoran city of B’Hala and see how Sisko’s role as the Bajoran emissary develops. Although we know his increased spirituality will evaporate and not last into future episodes, it still makes this one reasonably interesting, albeit melodramatic toward the end.
Kira’s past threatens to catch up with her in The Darkness and the Light. A member of her old Bajoran resistance cell gets offed and she receives a brief but threatening voicemail message. This continues and escalates as authorities investigate and Kira gets more and more freaked.
In Clerks, there’s a discussion about whether it was unfair to kill all the contractors building the Death Star in Star Wars. “Darkness” looks at what might happen if one of those contractors came back for revenge on Luke Skywalker. It’s an interesting concept and the show succeeds, particularly at it end, where it generates some creepy moments.
Babies become the focal point of The Begotten. An infant changeling comes aboard DS9, and Odo takes charge of its rearing. Dr. Mora (James Sloyan), the Bajoran who poked and prodded him, arrives to consult, which brings up bad feelings for Odo. In the meantime, Kira remains perched on the verge of delivering the O’Brien’s kid.
“Begotten” probably should feel gimmicky, as it becomes little more than the means to an end; it ultimately restores Odo’s shape-shifting skills. However, its exploration of parenthood works surprisingly well, mostly thanks to a nice performance from Auberjonois. He pulls off talking to a jar of goo with terrific depth and makes this expositional episode a good one.
Sisko and the others go on the trail of a traitor in For the Uniform. They track Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall), a former Starfleet security officer who betrayed them for the resistance group called the Maquis. However, Eddington gets the best of Sisko, so Starfleet pulls him off the case. This really bugs Sisko, especially since Eddington pulled the wool over the Captain’s eyes in the first place and Sisko finds it hard to let go of his anger.
It’s interesting to see the return of Eddington, but the episode seems odd for one reason: if the capture of Eddington was such a priority, why didn’t we hear about it for so long? Despite that flaw, “Uniform” proves to be an intriguing and exciting show. It takes some unusual twists and finally gives us some action, something that’s been in short supply with all the character-based programs of late.
A mysterious coded Cardassian message arrives at the start of In Purgatory’s Shadow. Garak pretends it’s nothing, but it’s actually a call for help from Enabran Tain (Paul Dooley), a leader who once meant something to Garak. He gets approval to go out after Tain but Sisko sends Worf along as an escort. Matters go poorly when the Jem’Hadar capture the pair and put them in an internment camp. The show also intensifies matters with the Dominion, as it appears they will attack at any moment.
The mix of the honor-obsessed Worf with the incredibly shifty Garak makes for an interesting combination. The show includes some moderately gratuitous character moments related to family, but mostly it helps move the plot. I’d begun to think DS9 forgot about the Dominion, but this episode brings back their threat with a vengeance, and it seems lively and entertaining.
The second half of a two-part program, By Inferno’s Light opens with the assault by the Dominion. This gets more complicated when Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) indicates that the Cardassians will join with the Dominion and immediately go after both the Klingons and the Maquis. Meanwhile, Worf, Garak and others attempt to escape from their internment camp.
“Light” concludes the two-part program well. It advances and complicates the Dominion plot and provides more than a modicum of tension and excitement. It’s a good show that moves things along nicely.
In Dr. Bashir, I Presume? Julian gets selected to become the model for a new holodoctor. That brings Louis Zimmerman (Robert Picardo) – the inspiration for the last one – on board to get all the information he needs. As part of the process, Zimmerman has Bashir’s somewhat estranged parents come onto the ship, which doesn’t make Julian too happy, especially since they all hide some sort of secret. In the meantime, Rom (Max Grodenchik) tries to get up the nerve to ask out Leeta, but he may lose her to the nervier Zimmerman, who immediately falls for the sexy dabo girl.
After the intensity of the last two shows, “Bashir” makes for a decent break. However, it does seem a little odd that the Dominion threat receives no attention here; shouldn’t we hear a little about continued issues? Actually, “Bashir” marks a return to the series of character-based programs that dominated much of the earlier parts of the season, as we find out a revelation about Julian.
Continue to Disc 5-7 and technical ratings...