DS9 quick early recaps, continued:
S1E3, “Past Prologue”
The pilot sets up an open question about Kira’s loyalties but turns out we don’t have to wait at all for some Bajoran-style trouble. Immediately there’s temptation for her to shift her loyalty back to full-on Bajor instead of the Federation’s more egalitarian vision. Of course she doesn’t do it. I mean, she’s not going to betray Sisko and disappear in literal episode two. She’s in the credits and promotional photos! The episode is well done and interesting and all, but the show runners maybe should have waited to play this card, right? Perhaps some building tension about her role throughout the first season, not always agreeing with Sisko, capped by this episode. Having it come up in the second show is sort of pointless, there’s no real question about what’s going to happen. Also they already did the “Bajoran turns on the Federation” thing with Ro in TNG.
S1E4, “A Man Alone”
The Loyalty Tests continue, this time for Odo. A known sleazebag turns up on DS9 that Odo wants off the station, but Sisko can’t justify a removal without cause, so Odo has to put up with it. Then the sleazebag is murdered as an obvious frame-up of Odo (he even leaves behind a calendar entry that says “
Get Murdered By Odo” “Appointment with Odo”). A classic-style Trek medical techno-mystery follows and of course, Odo is absolved. (Again, only episode three, credits, promo photos, etc.)
More importantly, this episode really establishes the interesting Quark-Odo relationship. Neither trusts each other and they are adversaries on the surface, but actually their mutual annoyance with each other kinda weirdly makes them friends. I think they both enjoy some empty threats and low-key snarling.
It’s not clear how big the crew is on DS9. There are hints that it’s a bare-bones operation, but even the crushingly exhaustive Memory Alpha* says the minimum crew is 300 (without me reading exhaustive details, because even though I am happy to spoil anything I’ve already seen here, I certainly don’t want anything spoiled for me). Well, it’s a little unclear what all the jobs are but it’s not fixing stuff. That’s O’Brien’s burden, from antimatter flow converters to replicators. Engines I get–you probably have someone on staff, but you’d think, if anything, they’d just call a replicator guy when that breaks. Anyway, O’Brien’s grim, endless toil is just a setup for the spread of a weird infliction that scrambles everyone’s brains and renders them unable to process language. They can talk, but it comes out as unintelligible babbling (not unlike my blog). They figure out it’s caused by a sleeper virus left by the Bajoran Resistance. It’s OK though because they compel a scientist to come discover and synthesize a cure, which he does, in like 10 minutes. Which is believable because he probably sorta knew the guy that created it. This episode is silly.
* By way of example, someone has taken the time to document all uncredited roles:
S1E6, “Captive Pursuit”
Just when we were starting to really like Quark, this episode opens with an inexplicable, and never revisited, scene about a sexual harassment complaint from one of his staff being registered with Sisko. Nothing for it though, Quark had snuck a clause into her contract that said such advances were part of the gig. Sisko tsk-tsks him and invalidates the clause, which is good enough for her. Or at least, she knows no one on this clown station is really going to do anything about it. I really don’t know what the heck this bit was supposed to accomplish character-wise. [Scowls.]
Anyway, if we pretend that scene never happened (I’m going to guess the remainder of the series does) we get a pretty good episode. Some of the best Treks are these types of cultural mysteries, where some seemingly bizarre alien behavior slowly comes into focus. In this case, the aliens have a caste system that isn’t fucking around: there are Hunters–who, uh, hunt–and there are Tosk–who they are hunting. Like typical Good Trek, it’s not altogether clear how to react. Pretty easy to argue their culture is barbaric, but then, the Prime Directive doesn’t let you do anything about it. (Unless you are Kirk and you just really really want to.) Apparently O’Brien took Replicator Repair instead of The Prime Directive And You class in the Academy, though, so he helps Tosk escape, with a wink and a nudge from Sisko. Frontier justice is served.