WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for this week's DS9 episode, "Past Prologue", in the context of a review. Be warned.
Well, I'm not as intrigued here as I was by the pilot, but this was still pretty good...
The show is still off to a promising start; "Past Prologue", although rather ... routine in terms of plot, provided the backdrop for a lot more background into some of the characters and relationships, and for the most part, it handled *that* part well.
The plot, as I said, seemed a little on the routine side to me. We've seen the "officer's loyalty tested by renegades" idea before, and the question was no more in doubt here than in "Heart of Glory" back in TNG's first season. One of the big twists in the show, the fact that Tahna was targeting the wormhole with his explosive rather than the station, wasn't a bad idea at all -- but whoever's making up the preview bits has to be stopped, since that was mentioned in the previous week and spoiled all the fun. ;-)
One of the things about the plot that definitely interested me, though, was the involvement (and return) of Lursa and B'Etor, "the sisters of Durassss..." [thank you, Gowron, you may go]. While they weren't necessarily fantastic to watch in and of themselves, their appearance and subsequent acts suggested that we have at least one running plotline going. Gasp! You mean we might have characters and situations evolving over time? Good; this may well be a break with tradition (or at least, the last year-plus of TNG, which while interesting, has seemed quite compartmentalized much of the time). My compliments.
I saw two problems with the plot as laid out. The first is minor: given that every species and its uncle has replicators, to have Lursa and B'Etor seeking *gold* for capital seems silly to me. That would be easy enough to fix, however; just change it to dilithium or something else non-replicable. The second, however, is a big deal, and is as follows:
Tahna was being chased by the Cardassians because he stole an antimatter converter, and nobody on DS9 knew about it except Garak, right? Well, not really; in fact, that doesn't work at all. Tahna strongly implies that he stole it and then was immediately chased by the Cardassians, landing him in his present predicament. If so, then the converter should either have been blown to bits along with his ship, or would have been on him when he came aboard -- and there's no way in hell that Sisko, Bashir and the rest wouldn't have noticed it almost immediately. That's a big, *big* problem, and one that should have been caught.
On to more pleasant things, however. What this plot did provide was ample opportunity to further define this new set of characters we're all meeting, and that usually went smoothly. A few examples:
We saw lots of Bashir in his whole situation with Garak. While I think it ran a bit long in places, and that Bashir was perhaps *too* silly about it early on, it did make for some wonderful eye-rolling "aw, no, what's he getting himself into *now*?" reactions on my part. ["In the meantime, Doctor, I think you could definitely use a new suit." Love it. :-) ] As in the pilot, I think Bashir needs a bit of toning down, but not too much.
The main light we saw with regards to Sisko concerned a bit more of his command style and a lot of dealings with Kira. His rift with her over her call to the admiral rang *very* true, and reminded me of the Riker/Shelby bits of BOBW1. I'm still waiting to find out more about his goals and many of his beliefs, since "Emissary" dealt mostly with overcoming past problems and this didn't deal with it at all, but it's extremely early yet; after all, how well did we know Picard after two shows? This went well.
O'Brien still needs something to do, but had one good moment here. His suggestion to Sisko that he not hand over Tahna to the Cardassians was a good use of the character; he had no ties to Tahna, but lots of first-hand experience with the Cardassians, including both his experiences at Setlec 3 and his knowledge of what they did to Picard just recently. Give him some more of that to work with, and let's see what happens with Keiko, and we'll see.
We saw Odo primarily as an information-gathering device here, which was okay. (However, a point: I don't think we actually needed to see the rat shift back into Odo. It might have been much more interesting to simply end the scene with the rat, and then cut to Odo discussing his findings later. A couple of good lines of dialogue would make it easy for those people who hadn't already guessed.) However, the one major exception was his scene with Kira, which was probably the showpiece of the entire episode for me. I'm rapidly starting to like Odo a lot; he's got a lot of Data's knowledge without any of Data's innocence, and that's an interesting combination. His manner of speaking is, as Kira points out, utterly free of pretense, and he seems a good judge of people. His final act there, effectively turning Kira in to Sisko, was smartly done. Very nice.
That leaves Kira and Tahna, clearly the focuses of the whole thing. I'm starting to warm to Kira, too; although at times she can still get too strident, many more of her strong-willed scenes worked for me here than in "Emissary". In fact, her point early on to Tahna that "I'm still fighting for Bajor in my own way" reminded me of nothing so much as another strong-willed female character from Trek, namely one Ambassador K'Ehleyr. Those long-standing readers of my reviews know that this is hardly a bad thing to be reminded of in my eyes. I agree with Tahna, however; here, she *was* far too much of an advocate for the provisional government and the Federation. If her intense dislike of both hadn't been laid out quite so clearly in "Emissary", I might be able to buy it; but this sounded like the real pose was pro-both and she was trying to weasel out of it.
Tahna was okay, but primarily was around to get to Kira, whom I've already discussed. Two of his final actions are worthy of comment, though. The first, actually surrendering, seemed a surprise to me; I'd have expected him to at least threaten to kill himself rather than turn himself over to either side. (I know; the point was that he really *wasn't* as brave as he'd been claiming to be. This didn't seem the way to show it.) The second, his final word to Kira -- simply "Traitor." -- worked extremely well; not so much for what it did with him as what it will hopefully do with her. Again, we'll see; but that was a striking, and somewhat dark, way to end the show.
I think that's mostly it, so a few short takes before I take my leave:
-- Isn't it a little early for Bashir to be appropriating the old "I'm a doctor, not a --" line? :-)
-- Lursa and B'Etor beamed onto the runabout facing in opposite directions. *Very* Klingon; great touch.
-- Since I didn't mention it last time around, I'll do it now; I just love that "gear" airlock door. :-)
-- Odo's point about "*used* to be..." in his conversation with Kira almost got me thinking we were going to get back onto the "linear time" bit. Ah, well.
-- I was speaking about "Heart of Glory" earlier. Well, this not only used a basic plot idea from it, it also swiped an actor. Vaughn Armstrong, who played Gul Dunar here, also played the renegade Klingon Korris back in HoG; I knew I recognized him from somewhere...
That's about all. On the whole, this is a promising start; if we can keep developing these characters once they're established enough for people to be comfortable with them, *then* we'll have a real achievement on our hands.
So, the numbers:
Plot: 7. The antimatter bit is a big problem, but not enough to hurt it more than this.
Plot Handling: 9. Generally sharp, though things like Odo's transformation could've been a lot more subtle
Characterization: 9.5. Let's keep up the good work here!
TOTAL: 8.5, rounding up to 9 because I'm in a generous mood. :-)
Odo is accused of murder. Didn't I see this on "Battlestar Galactica" once?
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"There's someone down here in Security who wants to talk to you, Commander."
-- Copyright 1993, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...