In the nineteenth episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, I really admire that this show seems to be shoving me out of an airlock as a means of completing the series. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.Â
This show really is going out with a bang, isn’t it? Good god, I WASN’T READY FOR THIS ARC AT ALL.
Ready for the War
Despite that Sisko and Kassidy take a backseat for the most of “Strange Bedfellows,” I believe one of the key moments of this episode comes during a scene of Sisko’s. In his conversation with General Martok, Martok relates a story about a pet targ and his wife, Sirella, as a way to warn Sisko that he’s about to engage in war. It’s one of those silly things straight men do when talking about marriage and commitment, something that’s always baffled me about how these kind of dudes discuss emotional complications. However, I found the metaphor complicated by these characters and the literal war that is hinted at by events in this episode. First of all, it actually makes sense for a Klingon to speak of romance and commitment in these terms, and that’s immediately contrasted with the sort of “war” that Sisko has with Kassidy. They merely disagree about a Bajoran ritual, and the moment is over quickly. Their relationship is not going to be anything like the one between Martok and Sirella, so even if it resembles a real-world phenomenon, it felt more like an omen here. The war isn’t this relationship, at least not yet. It’s about what sits on the horizon and is about to spill into all of these people’s lives.
Ezri / Worf
I still don’t buy the whole “Ezri was in love with Julian this whole time” thing, even if the writers are trying to make this seem like a recent development. That’s part of the reason it doesn’t work; the suddenness of it gives it an odd feeling in me. It feels written, not a natural development of the story. For example! Julian’s line in Quark’s bar about how he just started feeling something for Ezri in the little time she was on the station is just… it’s too obvious.
However, the honest conversation that Ezri and Worf have about their sexual encounter two episodes prior? Now that was satisfying. Why? Well, I tend to like it when miscommunication is thrown out by the writers. I don’t think the show was using that trope here, but instead, Ezri and wore find the means to speak openly with one another on the eve of their pending execution. Look, I just love vulnerable Worf, so let me just admit that right now. I KNOW I AM BIASED. I found the truth of their behavior to be refreshing, though. It’s not easy to admit to regretting a sexual encounter, and that was complicated even further by their reasonings for initiating sexual contact. Worf saw Jadzia in Ezri and missed her, but felt GUILT over his lack of love for Ezri. That’s a damn hard thing to admit! As for Ezri, this was all representative of her struggle to figure out her own identity in the wake of all her past lives and experiences. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and both these characters waded through that sensation in clumsy ways. BUT NOW THEY’RE FRIENDS AND MORE AND I LOVE IT.
WELL, THIS IS NOT WHERE I THOUGHT THIS WOULD GO. As Demar became increasingly irritated with Weyoun, I thought I was certain that this would be Demar’s final stand. I could not see a reality where he survived this. How could he? He was an embarrassment to Weyoun and a volatile variable to Thot Gor. He could not see the “bigger picture,” so to speak. Of course, the grand plan of the Dominion does not prioritize the Cardassians; even worse, it was clear long ago that the Cardassians were expendable. How else could you explain the death of over half a million Cardassians in a failed military endeavor? Weyoun kept saying that their deaths would not be in vain, but weren’t they already?
Now, Demar hadn’t been a fan of the Dominion anyway, at least as far as I remember. But his reliance on alcohol, his constant outbursts, his defiance of his superiors… y’all. Y’ALL. I THOUGHT HE WOULD BE MURDERED BY THE END OF THE EPISODE. Instead, the title of this episode came true and DAMAR DEFECTED. Quietly, of course, and as of right now, only Worf and Ezri know that the Federation has an ally in Cardassia. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, INDEED. Oh my god, I want this so badly. YOU ALL KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE IT WHEN ENEMIES ARE FORCED TO WORK TOGETHER AFTER AGES OF OPPOSITION. THIS IS MY SHIT, LET’S DO IT.
What a transformation. WHAT A TRANSFORMATION. Let me first heap MOUNTAINS of praise on Marc Alaimo and Louise Fletcher, who pull off the IMPOSSIBLE in a single episode. The escalation from those early scenes â€“ where the two are in bed with one another â€“ to the journey of them being ripped apart and then BROUGHT TOGETHER AGAIN THROUGH SPITE AND DETERMINATION was just an experience. Throughout this, the writing is sharp, heartbreaking, thrilling, the kind of story that values the character development that came before it while taking us somewhere new. That new place is represented in the title, as I could imagine no stranger bedfellows than these two.
Except that this episode does a fine job of showing us why Kai Winn eventually comes around to accepting the pah-wraiths as her destiny. I went into “Strange Bedfellows” expecting that this arrangement â€“ with Kai Winn believing that Anjohl was a Guide of the Prophets â€“ would last for a few episodes. Instead, the pah-wraiths accelerate their plan to use Winn by DIRECTLY CONTACTING HER AGAIN AND REVEALING THEMSELVES TO HER. It’s such an unnerving sequence because you can tell that they all assumed that she’d turn to their side. After all, she believed in Anjohl, so what else did she need? Unfortunately, the choice results in a momentary disaster: Winn is horrified by the revelation that she’s been serving the pah-wraiths, not the Prophets.
And yet, a masterful thing unfolds from this point. We are tempted with a possible reality: Kai Winn realizing that she’s done a terrible thing and promising to never let it happen again. For a moment there, her scene with Kira is the closest we’ve ever gotten to Winn’s redemption. I truly thought we were getting it! She was humbled by the experience, she was begging for Kira’s help so that she could change, and then… it goes right over her head. Instead of realizing that her pursuit of power has corrupted her, she thinks that remaining in power will help her reform herself. It’s an unnerving thing to watch because if Winn had just made the tiniest change, we would have ended up at a different place.
But the resentment builds in Kai Winn, and it is precisely what Gul Dukat feeds on. My god, he is so terrifyingly good at manipulating people and here, he exploits the absence that Kai Winn has felt her entire life. There was a part of me that deeply empathized with her, too. It is a bewildering and depressing thing to feel ignored by or unimportant to a god. That sensation has informed her character since the very beginning of the show, and we’ve always known that she despised that an outsider, particularly one like Sisko, got an experience she always wanted. Thus, her defection to the opposition made a whole lot of sense: those gods spoke to her. Valued her. Validated her. Never mind that they might not actually have her best interests in mind; she can get what she wants.
What a turn of events, y’all.
The video for “Strange Bedfellows” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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