Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The WSW Trek 25: #8-5

Previously: #25-21 #20-17 #16-13 #12-9

Lotta action, lotta heavy drama in these episodes.

#8. "Way of the Warrior" (DS9). For all the balls-to-the-wall action this ep has, its best moment might be the Quark/Garak root beer scene. To quote executive producer Ira Steven Behr in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block: "They have serious problems with the whole Federation philosophy, and the fact that it's such a big behemoth organization.... even though they question the giant, they want the giant on their side when they're in trouble." That the writers even thought to add such a scene is indicative of the out-of-the-box thinking that went into this ep and this series. Worf joining the DS9 cast was also a great move, not just as a ratings boost, but as a means to redefine his character and give him a new role.

#7. "Duet" (DS9). Kira Nerys is my hero! She survived a childhood under the oppressive regime of an alien power; she played a key role in her world's liberation and subsequent recovery, and then she fought another war, against an even more relentless foe. Along the way, though, she learned how to look at her ancient enemies, the Cardassians, with new eyes. This ep was where that started. I think forgiveness and redemption are powerful storytelling themes in fiction that are important to our growth as a species. Can we find atonement for our sins? Should we? This ep offers an answer. In only the first year of the series, Nana Visitor kicks ass in this ep, as does Harris Yulin as the Cardassian who may or may not be a war criminal. Powerful, powerful stuff.

#6. "Tapestry" (TNG). I loved the part where Carole King saves James Taylor from the Romulans after she took over for the captain and... Ha ha. Hadda make that joke, right? But seriously: you could call this one "It's a Wonderful Trek." I think it's perfectly common to question if we are, in fact, living the lives we should be living, the lives we always believed we would live. I know I do. The thing is, though, the events that make up our lives define us, no matter how much we may not like them, or how much we think they don't matter. That's a hard, hard truth. How ironic it is, then, that Q, of all people - the uber-being with the great disdain for humanity - is the one to teach that lesson to us, and Picard.

#5. "Chain of Command" (TNG). David Warner has had a long career in film and TV dating back to the 60s. Genre fans know him from films like Time Bandits and Tron. Trekkies saw him in Star Trek V and VI... but I think we remember him best for this one. That raspy whisper of a voice, that chin like granite, that commanding presence - they all served him chillingly well in this two-parter in which he teaches Picard the true meaning of pain. He doesn't break him, but man, does he come close. Kudos also to another career heavy, Ronny Cox, for his role as the Enterprise's replacement captain who gives Riker such a hard time. There's so much to love about this ep, an acting tour-de-force all around.

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