28 November 2012

Deep Space Nine Season 7

Season 7 Imperfect, but A Fine Deep Space Nine Finale
By Kristin Battestella

At last, we have come to the concluding 7th Season of Deep Space Nine. Despite a few character changes, questions left unanswered, and some uneasy answers given, this exit will please long time fans of this second Star Trek spin-off.

Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) mourns the loss of Jadzia Dax on Earth with his son Jake (Cirroc Lofton) and questions his very personal relationship with the Bajoran Prophets. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) also cannot accept his wife’s death and develops a difficult friendship with the Dax symbiont’s new Trill host Ezri (Nicole de Bauer). Ezri, however, is growing closer to Doctor Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig). Colonel Kira (Nana Visitor) and the Changeling Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) struggle with their own romance amid the Dominion War and the shifting loyalties of the Breen, Romulans, and Cardassians as Dukat (Marc Alaimo) makes an ominous pact with the Pah-wraiths.

 “Imagine in the Sand” and “Shadows and Symbols” open this final year nicely with a continuation of the storylines from Season 6 and a touch towards the more mystical and faith-based leading up to the glorious ten-hour outgoing story arc- “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” thru “What You Leave Behind.” I’m actually not so sure Gene Roddenberry would have been pleased with the very religious tone in this dénouement- though the references to ministers and gods and good and evil all combine to see Bajor, Cardassia, the Alpha Quadrant and Gamma relations unite in peace and the return to the paradise of Trek as we knew it. The spiritual aspects are not so overt to put off a non-interested viewer, but for those looking for such deepness, Deep Space Nine certainly provides it. “The Siege of AR 558” is also wonderful in summation of DS9’s dark Star Trek brand and what the Dominion War has done.  There’s just enough un-Trek amid what we expect, people losing limbs and dying for what is a supposedly strategic cause, which of course, doesn’t mean very much at all.  It’s a beautiful sentiment accented with lovely touches of James Darren as Vic Fontaine in “Badda Bing, Badda-Bang”- this idea of a not so swanky past’s reflection of hope in this bleak future, as opposed to our Trek, which is often the other way around.  “Covenant” also brings Dukat full circle and turns the ideologies of the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths on their ear. Religion can indeed be done in Star Trek when it’s handled properly. Who knew?

This epic exit is DS9 as it should have always been. Everyone has a lovely final moment amid the great battle action, but there’s still room for humor thanks to “Take Me Out to the Holosuite.” Ferengi resolutions and mirror twists have their hour in “The Emperor’s New Cloak” as well- although the Kira and Ezri kiss teases and Chase Masterson as Leeta innuendo are a bit dumb amid the serious alternate universe conclusions.  Colonel Kira’s new duds and ‘do may take some getting used to, as does seeing Kira and Odo together, but both are on form throughout “Chimera” and “Tacking into the Wind.”  “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” also has more Section 31 iffy getting in the way, but it’s too late in the day for that tangent to matter, and ultimately, the unchanged Bashir hampers its overall impact anyway.  Sisko may also be wrapped up too quick and easy amid all the other lingering goodbyes, and of course, the absence of Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax in flashback scenes and memory montages is apparent. Weird parallels and old references reused from early years also come back in confusing ways in the Inception –esque “Extreme Measures.”  Fortunately, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” does far more in its wonderful moment for Aron Eisenberg as Nog.  Beautiful period atmosphere and family elements with Max Grodenchik reflect against the seemingly so gung ho Kirk idea of Starfleet and the reality of war. Individual episodes such as “Treachery, Faith, and the Great River” no longer feel like filler or tossed away scripts, and “Once More Unto the Breach” ties up all the Klingon loose ends thanks to J.G Hertzler as Martok and John Colicos as Kor. The complete ensemble is represented with well-balanced plots and storylines. Deep Space Nine isn’t fighting to find its footing amid multiple arcs and a full episode order here, and now it’s frickin’ time to go! 

Now then, about ‘The Sisko’! Though it is completely fitting for Avery Brooks’ character, I’m not so sure if I want Sisko to have shades of the divine. The brief Benny Russell visions and speculations in “Shadows and Symbols,” however, have wonderful possibilities. Benny, writing on the wall in a fifties cell despite the objections of the Pah-Wraiths on Bajor. It sounds confusing I know, but those familiar with the behind the scenes of Deep Space Nine have perhaps heard of the writers’ thoughts on using the Benny plots and “Far Beyond the Stars” to conclude the series. I, for one, kind of wish they had. I realize some extreme Star Trek fans may have objected to this type of St. Elsewhere Tommy Westphall finale, but the idea that an oppressed minority has created the fantastical society of hope and peace that we know and love to me is totally in the spirit of Star Trek. Is this not what the very genre of science fiction is about? Folks in our technologically obsessed society say we live in such a high tech age that there is nothing left to event. Is this not Star Trek’s goal, to teach us to continue to use our mind, body, and soul in the quest for the highest aspirations? I could go on in great detail, but I don’t want to give too many spoilers! Suffice to say, this timeless, cultural crossing, and racial barrier breaking SF notion indirectly implied by Deep Space Nine is what stands out the most for me in the series.  Well, that and these dang displeasing, barely there, almost background appearances of Jake Sisko. What gives with his whole mishandling? Seriously, there are some situations where he should be much more significant and is absent. So, needless to say, the return to his and Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates’ familial focus in “What You Leave Behind” seems a little hollow to me in comparison to the over-reaching Benny possibilities.  

Lastly, let me share a few thoughts on the big Dax cast change. Ironically, Jadzia’s death in Year 6 has actually made some character developments better in Deep Space Nine’s final season. Her absence has lingered over the cast and strengthened other characters and relationships. Had the powers that be had an inkling about Ezri Dax sooner, I would have killed Jadzia off a long time ago.  It’s weird how all the men loved Jadzia as if there was no other female interests available, but Ezri is cute and flawed. “Afterimage” and “Prodigal Daughter” are nice in showing a Trill who isn’t happy and has problems with the Symbiont situation. This confusion and us getting to know Ezri as she gets to know herself is refreshing, for we learn more about Ezri than we ever knew about Jadzia.  How can Ezri counsel someone when she is the one in need? Is this a second chance for one couple or a bad romance for the wrong one? Such interesting questions were never brought up by the Jadzia ho hum, but unfortunately, this promise is in a somewhat blasé contrast to all the finality and wrapping up of Year 7. There’s simply too much focus and featuring of Ezri in different relationship dynamics and opportunities in the first half of the season- stunted developments between her and Jake, for example.  I like Ezri lots, but we are winding down with a cast that, in some ways thanks to the uneven early seasons, we hardly knew. So if this cast change couldn’t have happened sooner, it shouldn’t have happened at all. Like the way I have this paragraph at the end of my review, Ezri just seems tacked on at DS9’s last minute. Did we really need her for Deep Space Nine’s ten-part epic conclusion? The sad answer is, no.

Long time fans of Deep Space Nine probably feel this Season 7 is the height of Trekdom, and in many ways, it is. The meaning of Star Trek has been torn apart this series only to build it back up again mightier than before. While there are still a few character inconsistencies and unrealized developments that put a dent in the overall vision, this is most definitely the series’ finest hour.  Unfortunately for newer Star Trek fans or casual science fiction audiences, this Year 7 cannot be taken in by itself. There have been times I wanted to pull my hair out over this show’s uneven handling and often poor approach, and it’s tough to tell audiences you must watch a lot of crap to get to its goods. Can’t they just release DVD sets of only the quality episodes of Deep Space Nine?  And yet, is it worth putting up with some of the filler and annoyances of Seasons 4, 5, and 6 to get to this splendor of Deep Space Nine’s finale? Yes. Yes it %^&# is!

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