In the twenty-third episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, this is a weird one. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For consent.Â
This episode is surprising for a number of reasons, and while some of it packs a punch, its strangest feature is how listless it gets. Which I recognize is an odd thing to say about an episode in which Julian and Miles travel into someone else’s mind in order to find a secret. On the surface, this is one of the most surreal Deep Space Nine episodes, and I admire that. It’s a ridiculous sci-fi trope taken at face-value, and I have no problem admitting that I was excited to see just how weird this was gonna get.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why this let me down. I honestly expected something a whole lot weirder than this, especially given the exceptions made. Julian’s plan involves a complete rejection of his ethics as a doctor. I’m not opposed to the show exploring that; hell, I assumed that Sisko was brought in the fold to basically give Julian his approval. I understand Sisko bending the rules or doing things that are morally abhorrent to get what he wants because there’s a precedence for that. Less so for Julian, so for him to use someone’s body without their consent like this needs a bit more from the script. The show addresses it, sure, but what comes after that?
Well, initially, I was impressed. And look, that first set of scenes with Sloan are INCREDIBLE, exactly the sort of strangeness I was hoping for. The way the script was written â€“ coupled with the performances by the actors â€“ meant it was nearly impossible to tell if what we were seeing was genuine or a trap. Ultimately, I believe we saw something genuine: a side of Sloan that he had never revealed to anyone. In those minutes before his death, he realized his life was a great void. He had pushed away his parents and his wife and his kids and he would have nothing to show for it. He wouldn’t be remembered or memorialized. He died already! So, that part of Sloan was ready to give Julian the cure… until the Sloan that had been trained into compliance by Section 31 showed up.
It’s entirely possible that this isn’t what the writers intended, but it’s a really cool story THAT I’M STICKING TO. Mostly, though, I enjoyed the scene because what comes after is just… look, I don’t know. I understand Sloan’s mind fighting back and hurting Miles and Julian. I don’t get them just sitting there. Neither of them got shot in their leg, so why didn’t they just keep moving? Instead, they sit there and talk about their feelings, WHICH I NORMALLY WOULD BE 100% IN SUPPORT OF (y’all know I love feelings), except the show queerbaits the audience in such an egregious way that it can’t have been an accident. Both Miles and Julian literally walk up to the line of “not-straight,” declaring that they each enjoy the presence of one another more than the women they are in love with, and then…. nope. Straight. Which, first of all: what an insulting thing for Keiko and Ezri!!!! Why are you in love with people whose presence you can’t stand as much as the man next to you??? That is also NOT HOW YOU ESTABLISH A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE ELSE. We now have confirmation that Ezri and Julian have a mutual “love” for one another, except Julian establishes it by insulting Ezri, claiming that he likes spending time with Miles more than her.
I don’t get straight people, y’all. Like, you had two very clear things you could have done here: 1) Miles and Julian could have appreciated one another as friend’s without this ridiculous invocation of the “We’re about to die so we must declare our love” trope. 2) Even if Miles and Julian stayed with their respective partners, you can have men express affection without making it seem like a painful admission. Or you could have them admit to more than just “liking” one another and kept that open-ended? Practically anything other than this, which came off as the show pushing Miles and Julian close and then having both of them go NO HOMO and talk about women.
Here’s the thing: at the end of the episode, Julian thanks Miles for being level-headed and saving him from falling into Sloan’s final trap. Right there, Julian expresses his appreciation for his friend, and the show demonstrates very clearly why they’re a good pair. There’s no real need for the scene in the hallway! You don’t need to spell it out! So the earlier scene is not just superfluous, it sticks out like a sore thumb, both for the way it brings the tension to a standstill and in its apparent deliberate invocation of romance tropes.
I’m glad Odo’s healed, and I’m curious if the rest of the Changelings will ever be cured. Can Julian justifiably keep it from them? The problem is that I don’t see the Founders ever stopping as long as they’re alive. So what’s the solution???
The video for “Extreme Measures” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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