In the sixth episode of the first season of The Next Generation, WELL, MY HEART HURTS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
OKAY THIS WAS REALLY GOOD AND I LIKED IT A LOT. LET’S TALK.
First of all, I’d love to see her again. I’m hoping this isn’t the only time this character appears! But let’s say that’s the case. Then what I appreciated about this brief moment was the fact that Sisko listened to Sarda’s complaint, understood that Quark was being a disgusting asshole, and vowed to do what he could to make sure that she was protected. YES. YES. THIS IS A GOOD THING. Short, but it makes me pleased.
A New Visitor
Despite that Deep Space Nine is very new itself, I loved that we got a chance to meet a new species and watch them experience this space station for the very first time. Scott MacDonald is just so incredibly talented portraying Tosk, and it’s even more brilliant once you know who Tosk is and what he’s trying to do. The worst part is how crushing his story is. I can’t stop thinking about it! I certainly wasn’t expecting this outcome, despite that it was clear from the get-go that Tosk was hiding something.
But that bit of tension isn’t the only thing that made “Captive Pursuit” entertaining, and I’m thankful for that. This episode is the first O’Brien-centric story we’ve ever gotten, and I honestly don’t think it would have worked if anyone else was the focus of it. O’Brien is such a straight-forward character in the Star Trek universe, and I think that’s even more the case now that he’s on Deep Space Nine. He’s the most familiar and stable face amidst this crew, so it made a lot of sense to me that he would be paired with Tosk for this journey. He was the least likely to be suspicious of anyone else, and he works perfectly as a guide to the world of both humanity and the Deep Space Nine station.
It helps that Tosk is just so damn likable, too. He tries to learn as much as he can, and even if he’s sworn to hiding the truth of his nature, he doesn’t do so in a way that’s malicious or hurtful. I think that’s one of the reasons the big reveal is so hard to bear. We can’t imagine that Tosk’s life has only one purpose. How? How could this be true?
The Hunter and the Hunted
Thus, “Captive Pursuit” becomes a wholly different story once we know that the Tosk are bred simply for a hunt. That’s it. THAT’S IT. There’s no other reason for them to exist in this culture’s world, and they train their entire lives for the noble chase that results from this. Now, this explains Tosk’s behavior prior to this, but it doesn’t make this predicament any easier to understand. I think that Star Trek has done so many Prime Directive episodes prior to this that in another context (or in a poorly-executed story), I would be bored by this struggle.
But unlike the shows that came before it, Deep Space Nine is perfectly fine to give us a messy story and refuse to give us a clean, succinct ending to it. Truthfully, there is not an easy solution to Tosk’s problem that doesn’t involving pissing off an entire species (the first visitors from the Gamma Quadrant ever!!!), giving Tosk a life of listless nothingness, or massively violating the Prime Directive. Who do you respect? Who do you support? O’Brien is certain that he wants to help Tosk, but Tosk’s desire is to refuse asylum and return home, all so he can live out the rest of his life as a public spectacle of failure. And we can try and say that he’s been brainwashed and doesn’t know what he’s choosing, but “Captive Pursuit” sticks firm to the fact that our cultural values are simply not the same thing to others in the galaxy.
At the same time, it’s obvious that the writers want us to know that they think what happened to Tosk was wrong. We’re meant to cheer for Tosk as Odo, Sisko, and O’Brien all quietly devise a way for Tosk to escape Deep Space Nine. In the end, I think it was the possible solution that would keep the Prime Directive intact and would give Tosk a chance at a life. Granted, that inevitability hangs over the conclusion to “Captive Pursuit.” How much longer can Tosk survive? How much time will pass before the Hunters figure out that the wormhole exists and that they can pursue Tosk that way? At best, this episode provides us with momentary hope: perhaps Tosk got such a good head start that he’ll survive for years. Maybe the Hunters will give up some day. Who knows? Regardless, there’s no real closure here, and there never will be. It’s a bold ending, but it’s what fits. And I’m impressed with the choice because I think it shows us that the writers for Deep Space Nine can still take non-serialized stories (this is literally the first one, I’d argue!!!) and thrill us. At this point, I still don’t know what sort of shape the show will have, but I’d like to think that we’ll see more serialization than usual.
Here’s to hoping!
The video for “Captive Pursuit” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
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