The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Covenant"

by David E. Sluss

21 September 1998

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: An episode that doesn't incite a strong reaction one way or the other. There's not much that's really bad about this episode, but not much that's particularly good, either.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.0 (D-)

RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: I think we've filled our annual quota of "Empok Nor footage." I've always thought it was corny as hell to always show Empok Nor at odd angles, as if that schtick were intended to make sure that even the most dim-witted viewer realizes which station the characters are on. But what's even stranger is that episodes continue to be set there. I presume it's a money-saving measure, which allows for the existing DS9 sets, rather than brand new ones, to be used. But, still, about one more trip there, like, say, the Jack Pack setting up a Hump homebase there, and this is going to start looking ridiculous.

ATTEMPTED CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: DS9's writers, pretending that they are doing arc storytelling, dropped in plenty of references to past episodes this week, including "Craprifice of Angels," "Songs Longer Than Debt and Blight," "Fear for the Profits," and "Image in the Sand," but it felt more like name-dropping for its own sake, rather than genuine organic storytelling, and in at least one case it may have actually undermined continuity. So we are now supposed to believe that the little twerp who tried to bump off Sisko in "Image in the Sand" was acting alone? Then how the hell did he know about the Orb of the Emissary and all that hoohah, to say nothing about making it all the way to Earth and tracking down Sisko all by himself? Or are we supposed to think that Vedek Fala (wasn't that FDR's dog?) was lying or didn't know about the cult's assassination attempt? Either way, I don't expect us to ever find out, in which case I'm not sure it should have been brought up in the first place. And speaking of assassination...

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: Well, it's official. Gul Dukat as a credible character is as dead as Julius Caesar. The journey of the often-interesting Dukat has taken some bizarre and unlikely turns over the last year or so, since his breakdown in "Craprifice of Angels." But now that he's been set up as the mouthpiece for the Pah-wraiths and the anti-Emissary, I'm afraid that this has gone beyond the pale. Marc Alaimo isn't even portraying Dukat effectively any longer; no one could. Worse, it now looks more than ever like we really are being set up for a comic book-style DS9 finale, with the forces of Order and Chaos duking it out through their stooges, Sisko and Dukat. We even got the comic-booky dialogue, "He's more dangerous than ever!" as additional evidence.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Will the real gods please stand up? Actually this issue is the high point of the episode. The debate between Dukat (and Fala) and Kira about the behavior of the Prophets toward Bajor is good material. And it's nice to see the question of why the Prophets allowed the occupation to happen addressed, if not (yet) answered. And it's always nice to be reminded of the Prophet ex Machina disappearing fleet trick from "Craprifice of Angels."

STARFLEET UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: If Worf and company know enough about those Dominion Tic-tacs to know what particles they emit and what transporter range they have, why can't they detect them at station customs? It seems to me that the airlocks are set up to detect weapons (I seem to recall an early episode in which Odo busted someone for trying to get one through), and searching, or at least scanning, incoming people for contraband would seem essential during wartime (not that it often seems like there's a war -- see, I managed to work it in!). On the bright side, we finally have found out how Eris escaped from DS9 way back in the second season finale, "The Jem'Hadar."
  

Previous: "The Siege
of AR-558
"
Next: "It's Only
a Paper Moon
"
NEXT WEEK: More holo-fun with Vic Fontaine than you can shake a club at -- but you may want to anyway...

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This review is copyright 1998 David E. Sluss
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