Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S02E03 – The Siege

In the third episode of the second season of Deep Space Nine, HOW DID THIS SHOW GET SO GOOD? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Seriously, this was fantastic, and I’m so thrilled about what Deep Space Nine has become. I’m interested to see how much of this will carry over throughout the season. But I have hope! That’s five episodes in a row that are heavily serialized, and it’s part of a pattern of risky storytelling that has paid off EXTREMELY WELL. Unlike the previous two Star Trek shows, this one tends not to wipe the slate clean at the end of each episode, so that’s where I’m getting my hope from.

But we’ll talk about that after we get there. For now, I really want to discuss why “The Siege” is one of the coolest Star Trek episodes ever made. I know that I’ve said that Deep Space Nine feels very much unlike other Star Trek properties, but that is especially the case here. There’s a sense of dread that permeates the first act of this story, and I couldn’t help but feel this all-encompassing sense of finality as I watched the evacuation of DS9. How could I not feel sad as Keiko and Molly left Miles? Or when Jake said goodbye to his father, and Sisko handed him that letter? EVERYTHING WAS EMOTIONAL. And in true Deep Space Nine fashion, even the evacuation itself is complicated by a number of factors. Many of the Bajorans clamor for a spot on the runabouts, despite that they’re not in immediate danger from the forces that are headed to the station. We’ve got Quark and Rom jockeying to sell each others’ seats for profit, and it’s just a disaster.

Well, until Li Nalas shows up. God, that scene where he gives his big political speech is so satisfying! Though I do have a question: Where do all those Bajorans go after Li inspires them to stay? Why don’t we see them?

Okay, I’m nitpicking. IT’S NOT IMPORTANT. What’s important is that Michael Piller’s script gives us two parallel plots that are tense and thrilling, and it’s a goddamn treat to watch them. I love that neither of them are so serious that there can’t be room for some humor! Dax and Kira have a wonderfully humorous rapport while flying a starfighter together. Quark’s role is hilarious, and I adored all the banter between those who stayed behind. It helped alleviate some of the tension of the scenes where the Bajoran soldiers sought out the Federation crew, but not that much. This certainly doesn’t turn into a wacky romp by any means. It’s a very serious attempt by Sisko and his crew to buy time for Major Kira and Dax. Of course, the whole plan relies on Kira being able to deliver the evidence of Cardassian involvement to the Chamber of Ministers. I honestly believed that Minister Jaro was going to block her from presenting that evidence, too!

Which is fascinating, actually, because Vedek Winn was very quick to turn on Jaro once the reality of his coup came to light. She’s a very pragmatic character, isn’t she? She saw the opportunity to ascend to the position of Kai within Minister Jaro, but as soon as that climb might be tainted, she gave up on it. It would have hurt her chances, and thus, Jaro was disposable. Very clever of her, of course, and I imagine that we’ll see much more of her political maneuvering in the future.

But really, I just want to discuss how fucking great the siege itself was. It’s such a treat to see a Star Trek show tell a story like this. While Sisko and many of the other crew had selfish reasons to want to remain on DS9 (some of which are mentioned in that opening monologue by Sisko), the truth is that these people were technically fighting for Bajor. They hid out in the station, utilizing a number of brilliant and clever methods to disarm the military forces inside, all so that they could protect Bajor from the Cardassians. That’s so intriguing to me! The soldiers – including General Krim – aren’t really antagonists in any traditional sense. Sure, they might be narrative antagonists, but there’s a hint that General Krim respects Sisko for his prowess and creativity. Well, to an extent, of course, given that Krim sanctioned the use of a lethal gas to be used to catch those in hiding. But the point I’m trying to make is that Deep Space Nine avoids dichotomies as often as possible. Is anyone truly evil here? You can easily see Jaro as a villain, perhaps, but it’s clear he had no idea that his coup would have opened the way for the Cardassians to occupy Bajor again.

And what of Vedek Winn? She’s got her own interests in mind. So does Sisko. So does Kira. It all fits together so well specifically because these people are so different. It’s a complicated patchwork of political motivations and personal influences, and I love it. Again, I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s a dramatic shift from the sort of stories I’m used to from Star Trek. It’s unfortunate, then, that Li Nalas is murdered at the end of this episode. The tragic irony in it all is that he never thought himself a selfless hero, and yet his final act while alive is to be just that. I can see now that he fulfilled a very specific role in this show, and now it was time for the show to move beyond that.

That’s what I’m eager for. Where does Bajor go from here? There’s no Kai, and Bajor is still disorganized. The orthodox citizens haven’t disappeared, so I don’t expect that that conflict will have gone away. Now that Kira can come back to DS9, will she play a bigger role in the development of Bajor? Gah, I have so many questions, y’all. And I’m so glad. THIS SHOW GOT SO GOOD!

The video for “The Siege” 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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1 Response to Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S02E03 – The Siege

  1. Matt says:

    DS9 came out at time when TV was experiencing it’s “serialization renaissance.” It’s not like people DIDN’T like serialized stories beforehand… soap operas were big deals… it’s just the technology didn’t exist to reliably communicate serialized stories for literally anyone who wasn’t a stay-at-home housewife.

    Before the ready availability of VCRs (let alone DVRs or Netflix) if you missed an episode for whatever reason, you were out of luck until they ran a “marathon” over a memorial day weekend or something. This made it really hard to tell serialized stories because large chunks of your audience would be missing key elements of the plot.

    Babylon5 was the first sci-fi TV show to stumble through the growing pains of serialized storytelling, and DS9 straight up lifted much of its ideas. This isn’t to knock DS9, they made it their own, but in many ways Babylon5 (especially seasons 2 and onward) was a huge eye-opener in what was possible when a story isn’t limited to 45 minutes.

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