The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The Seventh Season in Review

by David E. Sluss

25 July 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: A couple of episodes were real winners, but the overall package of DS9's final season was wildly inconsistent in quality and focus. As in the sixth season, the writers just refused to "shit or get off the pot" with respect to the Dominion War, allowing it to slip way too far into the background all too often. It wouldn't have required Karnak to predict the structure of this season, as it was practically identical to that of the sixth (and the third, fourth, and fifth, for that matter): Dominion-heavy opening and closing episodes, a few others here and there, and assorted stories in between that in many cases blithely ignore the fact that the entire Alpha Quadrant is at war.

Additionally, the writers' pacing of the season was dreadful. There's simply no excuse for wasting all of that time in the first half of the year or so on idiotic holodeck adventures and insipid Ezri pieces, and then having to rush the closure of DS9's storylines at the end of the year. Too many storylines were dropped or mishandled, and you can't fault anyone but the writers.

This year's great experiment, the ten-parter that closed the season, and the series, has to be viewed as a failure. While it started out promising, it fell apart about two-thirds of the way in, as DS9 ended its run with a trio of poor episodes. In addition, even the better episodes of this arc suffered from bad pacing (particularly the Winn story) and less-than-worthwhile plots (like the never-ending Worf/Ezri/Julian stuff). DS9 could have gone out better than this.

SEASON CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.5 (D)

 

I'll make a few comments about each episode, and assign each a Cynics Corner Rating, which in some cases has changed from the rating I gave when I first reviewed the episodes.

 

IMAGE IN THE STAND: The season started off in a reasonably decent fashion with this episode. There are a few things, such as a third of the senior staff taking off on a Klingon Klaptrap mission without consulting anyone, that are troubling, but not enough to seriously hurt the episode. And this was undoubtedly the high point for the Ezri Dax character.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (up from 7.9)

 

SHADOWS AND SYMBOLS: The Prophets' revelation that they engineered The Sisko's birth is corny and cliched. Ezri babbles. Klingon Klaptrap bores. Romulan intrigue turns out to be a red herring, having no real impact on anything. So does the Benny Russell scenario. Could have been better.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (down from 7.2)

 

AFTERIMAGE: The first of what I call "Ezri angst" episodes. In retrospect, it almost looks like the writers were trying to do something different with her character, namely make her a Starfleet officer who is lousy at her job, sort of like DS9's version of Barclay. Ezri never counseled anyone successfully throughout the course of the season, and the beginning of that trend is right here. This episode was a waste of Garak, particularly since he wound up having so little to do throughout the year, but he was right: "Insipid psychobabble."

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (unchanged)

 

TAKE ME OUT TO THE HOLOSUITE: I think I put it pretty well when I first reviewed this drivel: "A embarrassing, time-wasting episode, dumb as bricks from beginning to end." About here is where it started to become clear that the seventh season was going to be just like the sixth, with the all-out war for the Quadrant on the back burner for much of the season, to make way for irrelevant episodes like this one.

Cynics Corner Rating: 0.9 (unchanged)

 

CHRYSALIS: I don't know anyone who was clamoring for a sequel to "Statistical Probabilities," do you? In any case, this show was not especially interesting, and not particularly important, either.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (unchanged)

 

TREACHERY, FAITH AND THE GREAT RIVER: One of the few episodes from mid-season that actually seemed to be taking place during an all-out war, this show looks a lot better now than it did when it first aired. The Nog plot is derivative and predictable, but the Weyoun story and the revelation regarding the Changeling Social Disease are worthwhile.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (up from 6.7)

 

ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH: Klingon Klaptrap at its worst, with the usual shallow characterizations, crude grunts masquerading as acting, and hideous songs. Was it that important to have closure for Kor?

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (down from 6.0)

 

THE SIEGE OF AR-558: Decent fare, if a bit predictable. Worse, while seeming to be significant at the time, the events of this show had no impact whatsoever on the war storyline. The Dominion communications array was never mentioned again, and Sisko's new outlook on grunts dying in the field never showed itself again.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (down from 8.3)

 

COVENANT: The final demolition of the Gul Dukat character began here, as he becomes a Pagh-Wraith groupie. I didn't care for this development, and the execution of the story isn't especially compelling. Nevertheless, I bumped the rating up a little, because this show did turn out to tie in to DS9's overall story a bit better than was apparent when it aired.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.5 (up from 6.0)

 

IT'S ONLY A PAPER MOON: I think the nutshell I posted about this episode when I first reviewed it still works: "A five-minute psychobabble plot seemingly padded with forty minutes of music." The ongoing "Ezri is incompetent" subplot gets some mileage here, as Vic Fontaine takes over as Counselor. Still, I may have low-balled this one slightly, and I should give the writers credit for actually following up on Nog's injury in "The Siege of AR-558."

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (up from 4.0)

 

PRODIGAL DAUGHTER: Boring Ezri angst, made worse by cliches, lousy dialog, and lapses in logic, such as the timeframe, which, based on several lines in the episode, suggests that O'Brien would have been AWOL for about two months by the time he returned to the station.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.0 (down from 4.2)

 

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOAK: Mindless drivel, for the most part, though an episode in which Vic Fontaine is killed can't be all bad. The Mirror Universe, while originally interesting, ended up being a farce, to the point where the hated Grand Dingus Zek seemed to fit right in. Extra deduction for something that other people noticed, namely a terrible continuity glitch, the fact that the Mirror Universe does have cloaking devices, as shown in "Through the Looking Glass," meaning that, issues of low quality aside, this episode should never have happened.

Cynics Corner Rating: 3.0 (down from 4.0)

 

FIELD OF FIRE: Seriously contrived and lacking in logic, this show seems worse the more I think about it. There are entirely too many coincidences and questionable deductions for this show to succeed as a "murder mystery." The storytelling device of Joran walking around the station with Ezri is too ridiculous for it to succeed as drama. The amusing trackball-guided phaser is too silly for it to succeed as sci-fi. So, I guess I'd have to call it a failure.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (down from 6.0)

 

CHIMERA: Probably the biggest surprise of the season, this episode was genuinely moving, and remarkably well-acted. I do think, however, that Laas' ability to turn into fire and things like that is pushing the already-strained believability of the Changelings' morphing power. And it's too bad that Laas never got to appear again, particularly since the revelations of later episodes ("When It Rains...," etc.) pretty much guarantee that Odo infected Laas with the Changeling Social Disease during their "roll in the hay" here.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.5 (up from 8.0)

 

BADDA-BING, BADDA-BANG: What were they thinking? The time wasted on this farce is shameful.

Cynics Corner rating: 1.5 (unchanged)

 

INTER ARMA ENIM SILENT LEGES: I definitely over-rated this episode. It's a good show, but there are some problems here, particularly Five Minutes From the End Syndrome. The lack of follow-up to this episode is distressing, as well. Especially irritating is the fact that Admiral Wooden is revealed to be a Section 8 stooge, but that's never mentioned or acknowledged in any way in subsequent episodes.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.5 (down from 9.0)

 

PENUMBRA: DS9's season-closing arc began here in tolerable fashion. The biggest problems are a too-prevalent feeling of chess pieces being moved around, and the Worf/Ezri sitcom, particularly since the whole "Will they or won't they" subplot falls under the "Who F^$&ing Cares?" category.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)

 

'TIL DEATH DO US PART: Unfocused, and full of unnecessary filler scenes, like four -- count 'em -- four scenes of Ezri and Worf sharing their feelings, then getting interrupted and cattle-prodded by Breen thugs. The lack of concern displayed by O'Brien and others regarding Ezri and Worf's disappearance is either a continuity glitch, or evidence that Ezri and Worf annoy the other characters as much as they annoy the viewers.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (up from 6.9)

 

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: The pacing of the various storylines in the closing arc starts to become erratic here, as the Worf/Ezri plot just keeps going, going, going on the road to nowhere, while Kai Winn, after decades of service to the Prophets, gives her heart and soul to the Pagh-Wraiths practically on a whim. I know that many disagree, but I still don't think that Winn's "conversion" here was set up adequately, and I still curse in the general direction of the writing staff for wasting airtime on "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang," "The Emperor's New Cloak," and that ilk instead of on setting up important story elements properly.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)

 

THE CHANGING FACE OF EVIL: A lot of interesting stuff here, but you have to suspend your disbelief from the Eiffel Tower in order to accept that the Breen are a major power in the quadrant who have been hiding in plain sight all these years. Weyoun posits that the Breen May Not Be What They Seem, but since that minor mystery went the way of the Alpha/Gamma Jem'Hadar feud, why bring it up at all? I still find the destruction of the Defiant to be flawed in execution and almost totally unaffecting, particularly since we all knew that was going to be reset within a matter of weeks.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)

 

WHEN IT RAINS...: Another episode consisting largely of set-up. In this case, some of the execution is deeply flawed, and filled with contrivances, like the fact that Odo's been carrying the Social Disease for three years, and yet Bashir's discovery of it and the manifestation of symptoms occur within a day of one another. Cornball dialog, particularly in the discussion of Section 8's involvement in infecting Odo, doesn't help matters, nor does the replacement of Worf/Ezri nonsense by Bashir/Ezri nonsense.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)

 

TACKING INTO THE WIND: Well, I was completely taken in by this show, to the point where I called it "the best DS9 episode in years." While I still stand by that remark, I've concluded that I may have overlooked some problems with the show, especially in the Bashir/O'Brien/Section 8 plot, and so I've revised the rating downward somewhat.

Cynics Corner Rating: 9.0 (down from 9.3)

 

EXTREME MEASURES: It is here that DS9's closing arc, which up to this point had been relatively well-done, started to unravel. This is simply a poorly-conceived and poorly-executed episode, and is totally disconnected with the rest of the arc, to boot.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (unchanged)

 

THE DOGS OF WAR: I'm tempted to believe that Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr was deliberately kicking fans in the nuts by devoting DS9's penultimate episode to "resolving" the "Ferengi situation," as if there were a situation worth resolving in the first place. Ironically, the Ferengi arc is probably the only storyline in DS9 that was executed with a consistent level of quality (albeit a low one) and with total closure.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (unchanged)

 

WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND: A real letdown, as storylines that had been building for years just sort of peter out. Suggestions over the years that the Prophets/Bajor situation and the Dominion War were connected in some mysterious way never pan out. Recycled and/or bad F/X and the use of the clip show schtick lend a cheapo air to the proceedings. Vic sings in a filler scene. Bajor doesn't get to join the Federation, even though that was the primary mission of the station. The whole package is just a damned disappointing mess. It didn't have to end this way, and it shouldn't have.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (unchanged)

 

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