- Out of
D'Arcy Carden has Shotgun Wedding and a league of his own
The Die Is Cast (Season 3, Episode 21; originally aired 5/1/1995)
In You Don't Fuck With The Founders…
There is a machine that can prevent Odo from changing his shape. That's the part I keep coming back to. It's far from the biggest reveal of The Die Is Cast, but one thing sticks with me. Maybe it's because of how much this entire two-episode arc (as well as the various references to Cardassian and Romulan build-ups we've been getting throughout the season) is about rigidity; of how much we work to create a picture of ourselves, and once we've decided we've found the right one, how much we work to freeze it, as if permanence is made eternal by a simple act of will could. Tain's attempts to return to his former prominence, annihilate the Founders in one fell swoop, and end the Dominion threat speaks to his arrogance, misplaced confidence, and reluctance to adapt to the possibilities of the new threats. He's trying to reclaim his former status and position himself as the new leader of the Cardassian Empire, and that requires a certain kind of uncompromising thinking. It means ignoring how long he's been retired, how much the universe has changed in his absence. It means believing that the Founders are no different than any other enemy and therefore can be treated accordingly. It means, in fact, finding a point and sticking to it; In fact, he willingly does what Odo is forced to do. The resulting effect is eerily similar.
Then there's Garak, caught between who he once was and who he has become. Odo suffers more physical agony, but if this episode has heart, it belongs to the Tailor as his initial enthusiasm for participating in Tain's grand schemes begins to fade. In the beginning it is of course easy. For the first time in many years, Elim and Enabran spend time together without wanting to die. They share a drink (Romulan and as such inferior) and gleefully discuss the impending destruction. Garak indulges in some revenge fantasies about all the enemies he'll take down once he returns to Cardassia, and he and Tain laugh at the old days. Then Tain begins the real work: he needs Garak to interrogate Odo. Because Odo is a Founder, and even if he claims to be ignorant of their plans, he must surely have some useful information to provide to the cause. It seems Tain doesn't care about one or the other. After all, he is the mastermind behind the Obsidian Order. If there was any data relevant to the cause at hand, he would surely have found it himself. No, I bet the real reason Tain is making this request is to find out how far his former student is willing to go to prove his loyalty.
Pretty far, as it turns out. The Die Is Cast is an excellent episode across the board, and one of the reasons it works so well is that it doesn't compromise Garak's character to make him more palatable. He's a gifted interrogator, and while the script insists on portraying his efforts as primarily psychological (Tain tells a story about Garak coercing a confession by simply staring at a prisoner for hours without speaking), there's no question that he doesn't overdo it, becoming physically required. At least that's how he used to be. When Tain brings up the issue, Garak readily agrees to question Odo, and their first conversation has all the makings of a villain trying to gain a hero's trust. Odo isn't too concerned; After all, he is not afraid of physical danger and uses the trade primarily as an opportunity to provoke Garak's newfound loyalty. Nobody goes too far, and aside from the change in power dynamic, it's a scene that probably could have happened without too much change prior to capture. Basically, this is all within safe limits, so Garak probably won't feel too uncomfortable. His sleeves are still open and his hands are still clean.
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Tain then presents the device that prevents Odo from changing his form and things turn sour. Last week we talked about how much of the power of Garak's character lies in his fundamental ambiguity. While he has an undeniable core, meaning there's still a lot at stake in his decisions and we care if he goes too far, there's no comfortable guarantee he'll make the right decisions or hold back when it's about him. shall we say, a return to the importance and power it once enjoyed. Just look at the expression on Andrew Robinson's face (and I never cease to be amazed at how much actors can convey through all those prosthetics) when Tain tells him there's a way to really hurt Odo. He's clearly appalled at the idea, but more tellingly, he's appalled.that is appalled. For most of the show, Garak has been talking good game, playing the role of someone who chooses to appear harmless but probably isn't; someone who is a nice guy at the moment, but that can change at any time. Aside from his friendship with Bashir, Garak never really commits himself to anything. Even his tailoring is expendable. But the downside to getting what you want most is that you have to start making choices. You really need to be someone, not a collection of pleasant anecdotes and vaguely threatening innuendos. And now that the big moment has finally arrived, it turns out he may be the man (okay, the Cardassian) he thought he was.
Again, to the credit of the episode, he doesn't shy away from the consequences. Garak makes some stupid attempts to avoid this, but ends up having to go back to Odo's room and use the device to torture the police officer. And it's terrible. The makeup effects of Odo trapped in his human form are among the most effective I've seen on the show; He's kind of pathetic and macabre, like he died in the middle of a conversation, but he's so intent on getting his point across that he keeps talking until his jaw rots. The camera stays on René Auberjonois for most of the scene and he does a great job.Star Trek: The Next GenerationIt took most of an episode to demonstrate the full effect of the physical and psychological torture.DS9it basically does it in one scene, and while the result isn't quite as jarring, it's very, very effective. And of course, Odo eventually snaps. Despite the bailiff's repeated assurances that he knows nothing, Garak is convinced that Odo is harboring some secret, some information he dares not reveal, and it turns out that the tailor is right. Odo has a secret: he wants to go home to his people. It's a deeply personal revelation that Odo wanted to protect at all costs, and it must have hurt him to tell it. And it's useless. It doesn't change Tain's mission and doesn't provide a tactical advantage over the Founders. It just means that Garak deserves absolutely nothing.
Leave him there for a second, face in hands while Odo, finally released to his freedom, dumps himself into a bucket. Sisko and the others are busy in this episode, and during their decision to disobey orders and take themchallengingAfter Odo (and Garak) it's not as engaging as the main story, it's never a drag on the episode, and it introduces some ideas that I bet will be important in the future. This means that Commander Eddington, who has basically done nothing since his inception, is more strict by the rules than any other commander on DS9, and his commitment to Starfleet leads him to sabotage themchallengingafter the ship has left the station. Eddington isn't big enough to portray this as a betrayal, and his presence in the early part of the episode (having been seemingly forgotten for so long) suggests he's up to some kind of insanity, but it's interesting that Sisko allows it him to stay on the bridge after confessing his deeds. It shows the kind of weird gray area the show lives in now. Eddington may not have the right kind of loyalty, but they're all fighting for the same side.
Odo makes a similar choice when he finally forgives Garak's actions. Well, forgiveness might be going too far, but they don't end the episode as enemies.
Of course, before we get to that, we should probably check out the big moment in The Die Is Cast, the twist the title gives to the period (at least in the most obvious sense). The Cardassian and Romulan fleets arrive on the Founders' homeworld. They read signs of life on the planet below, and Tain, after enjoying the moment for about a second, gives the order to fire. The ships bombard the planet, destroying 30 percent of its crust and the life signs do not change. It is a trap. The Founders knew Tain was coming, and less than a minute after noticing it, Jem'Hadar ships came into view, 150 of them to be exact. They're making quick work of the Cardassian and Romulan fleets, which happened to be the destination of this voyage. Tain thought he was in control, but as he states at the end (and his desperate, manic monologue as he desperately tries to figure out how it all went wrong is another bit of amazement) everything was engineered by the founders. to end the Cardassian and Romulan threat in one fell swoop. Turns out they had an insider: Lovok, the leader of the Romulan forces, is a changeling. He makes sure to say goodbye to Odo, and given what we've learned about Odo's true desires and what we've just seen about the Founder's strategic genius, it's surprising that Odo decides to return to the station with Garak.
All of this is awesome, exciting, and shocking, and best of all, it has implications that will affect the show's progress in ways I can't predict. The ending restored the status quo, plus or minus a few thousand Cardassians and Romulans, but it's still significant; Villains doing inversions isn't anything new, but this takes a background plot and randomly alters it brutally. It's the kind of bold storytelling that makes for great drama. But as excited as I am to see this game, my favorite scene from the episode is the last one. Garak walks through the remains of his shop and Odo pays him a visit. During their entire conversation, Odo is only seen in a shadowy reflection, because now he is the one with the power. Garak's brief return to the ancient ways is over and shattered just hours after it began, but the truth is that it ended long before that. So Odo invites him to breakfast and Garak, lost, dazed and maybe hopeful, accepts. Both now know each other's secrets; both want to go home but can't. There is something preventing them from becoming what they want to be. It's called soul.
- I don't know if Tain is gone forever or not, but if he is, this was a great outing.
- Leland Orser, one of the great "That Guys", plays Lovok. And no, I definitely didn't see that twist coming.
- "Oh no, you're going to torture me, right? How I feared it. Please have mercy, Garak.” – Odo, master of sarcasm.
- "I fear the fault, dear Tain, is not in the stars but in ourselves." - Garak tossing his former mentor some Shakespeare and footing the bill for Improbable Cause.
- Admiral Toddman tells Sisko that the massacre of the Romulan and Cardassian ships was a bit like the Battle of Wolf 359, aka The One, in which the Borg killed almost everyone. This is not good.
- "You know what the sad part is, Odo? I am a very good tailor” (Garak).
"Explorers" (Season 3, Episode 22; originally aired 5/8/1995)
Where can you come from here…
I have to apologize; This review will be shorter than it should be as I spent too much time talking about the previous episode (which, to be fair, deserved the space) and now I'm afraid I've exhausted my word quota have. I say that because while Explorers is a much quieter, far less ambitious hour of television than The Die Is Cast, it's still pretty good. I can't help but wonder if fans of the show gave it similar attention when it first aired. Not because they were wrong (or because they shared my poor time management skills), but because nothing really important is happening here. Bashir runs into an old rival from med school and realizes he hasn't freaked out about anything, and Jake and Sisko fly an old Bajoran ship to Cardassian space to prove their point. Events in the Gamma Quadrant are not mentioned and do not seem to affect the proceedings. Sure, there's little tension between Sisko and Gul Dukat, but there's always little tension between these two, and it all ends in fireworks (of the non-lethal kind). If "The Die Is Cast" was a bold statement of how far the writers are willing to go with their main story, "Explorers" is a quiet assurance that there's still time for small, intimate character studies.
But it still feels different in some ways, probably because we have a better sense of how important small intimate moments really are. Also, it's been a while since the show got Sisko some face-to-face time, and while I don't think "after a massive backdoor military maneuver" is an ideal holiday season, he probably needs all the relaxation he can get. can get. It's fun to learn a little more about the commander; her character is well defined, but her interests aren't that clear for obvious reasons (we follow most of the characters on this show for their daily jobs; that doesn't mean the show has no place for personal stuff, just that's more of a secondary concern) . The idea of Sisko being so intrigued by the history of Bajoran space travel that he would be willing to recreate an ancient Bajoran ship is enchanting. It's a sort of geek-dad move that requires significant resources and ends in a four-day trip across the universe, and his enthusiasm for the project is in stark contrast to the way almost nobody else on the station gets the point . We've seen Sisko the Rude before, and I'm sure we'll see him again (he's finally grown that goatee you keep talking about), but I also enjoy hanging out with Sisko the Goofy Enthusiast .
Plus, it leads to spending time with Jake, and the show's writers and actors always did a great job of nailing the father-son dynamic. Jake has had less of a presence on the show this season than he has in the past (at least I think he has), but while he's previously made the grumpy, frustrated teen standard, he's never been completely obnoxious, and always has been given a clear sense of the bond between him and Sisko. This episode is no exception. He initially rejects the trip (and I love that nobody seems to care that Sisko is going into space for a few days; it's a sign of how normal space travel has become in the future), but when he is admitted to a writing school in New Zealand, he comes for a chance to take his ambitions into his own hands with his father. Everything falls apart pretty easily, and while there's no really intense drama in the episode (Sisko's ship has some issues and even appears to have completely collapsed at one point, with no possibility of calling home to be rescued, but never feels so urgent), it never gets boring. I particularly liked Sisko's reaction to Jake's story - the "promise of the shows" is something I've heard from myself before, from my own father, and I reacted the same way Jake did.
Back at the station, Bashir panics when he hears that an old rival is arriving, and you can probably imagine how that is playing out. As much as I love the doctor, this whole story feels like it's straight out of a kid's cartoon; The revelation that the rival actually wishes she had received Bashir's commission in DS9 wraps things up a little too nicely, as if it was all just staged to teach Julian the value of appreciating what you've got. It's not incredibly boring, but it does get the kind of overly sweet lightness that Jake and Sisko's story mostly avoids. Interestingly, this often seems to happen with Bashir's non-life and death stories.
Regardless, it's not bad enough to ruin the rest of the episode, which again is a good thing, although to be honest I'm not sure there's much to say about it. Jake is concerned his father isn't dating (will that ever happen again? No, don't tell me, I'll find out), Sisko is surprised by the New Zealand school offer but immediately urges Jake to accept. . There's the usual back and forth between people who love each other but aren't quite sure what's going to happen next; Jake prepares to go out alone, and Sisko acknowledges and supports him while feeling lost at the same time. And then, at the end, when all hope seems lost, the Cardassians show up to tell them that they have achieved their goal and everything is fine. Which, when I think about it now, is basically the lesson of Bashir's story: things are rarely as bad as you think. "The Die Is Cast" pretty much had the exact opposite lesson, so maybe that's the point of getting "Explorers" to where it is. After all, you have to have hope if you want to be afraid.
- You know, for someone who has no romantic interest in him, Dax really enjoys blocking Bashir's cock. (It's rightly hilarious.)
- Any episode with a drunk scene from O'Brien and Bashir is fine with me.
In two weeks:Quark and Rom return home to take care of some "family matters", and Kira sees an old friend in "Shakaar".