Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S02E11 – Rivals

In the eleventh episode of the second season of Deep Space Nine, well, they tried. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

That was not good. Like, almost entirely not good.


I so desperately love the idea of someone competing with Quark and beating him at his own game, and I so desperately wish that Martus was that person. Like… how did this show cast Chris Sarandon in a role and give him a character who is just gross and barely entertaining? I don’t think that’s Sarandon’s fault; Martus just doesn’t have anything going for him aside from being slimy, and Quark is already slimy enough for the two of them. I think this script would have been more dynamic and interesting had Martus and Quark been brutal in their attempt to out-perform each other. Instead, things just happen, and literally, that’s the point of this episode. It’s not that Martus outsmarted Quark so much as he had the weight of probability on his side. That’s… not really that interesting.

The Device

Sooooo… how did that thing work? Did it kill the old man in the beginning of the episode? What was inside of it that caused neutrinos to… do that thing? I don’t even know what the science babble MEANT. At no point did it make sense to me! But here’s the thing. This show might be science fiction, but I’m perfectly fine with terrible, terrible science if it’s entertaining and it makes sense within the context of the show. But this is just nonsense that isn’t even entertaining!

Here’s the thing. What really bothers me is that at the heart of “Rivals” is a VERY GOOD IDEA. What if you could control the laws of probability? What if your actions affected probability, but you didn’t know that was happening? If probability is skewed horribly to one side, WHAT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE ELSE? Y’all, there is so much potential in this, to do some butterfly effect nonsense, to talk about chaos theory, to truly FUCK. SHIT. UP. Instead, what happens? Martus loses a lot of money. Some people fall down. A file disappears!!! Oh, heavens to Betsy, what a horrible conundrum! It’s not until Julian and Miles demonstrate the bizarre odds that are benefitting Miles during the racquetball game that I felt like we were getting to something interesting.

And just like, it’s taken away from us. An awesome story becomes so sluggish and mediocre and I’m like… WHYYYYYY. THIS IS SUCH A GREAT CONCEPT.


The Martus/Quark rivalry is boring, point blank. At least Rom got a little bit of play here, though certainly not enough to save him. But I did like getting the whole Miles/Julian rivalry! There’s an interesting story there about aging, competition, and sympathy; we get a chance to see more of Miles’s relationship with Keiko and how PERFECT she is; and ultimately, I think these two get a chance to understand one another a little better. But “Rivals” would have benefitted from a deeper exploration of this story instead of devoting time to purple half-spheres that do a magic thing that does things and yaaawwwwwnnnn.

I wish this was better. After four great Star Trek episodes in a row, I feel like this stung. WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL, MY FRIENDS.

The video for “Rivals” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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