So we’re now at the halfway point of season 1 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I’m trying to put off sweeping analysis until we at least get to the end of the season, but it’s hard not to start seeing patterns, or at least wanting to see them.
Taken alone, ‘Move along home’ was probably the best episode since the Pilot in terms of keeping me focused and concerned about what was happening and why, though it was obvious what was happening, even to the characters. Not so focused and concerned that I couldn’t see numerous flaws (this is a critical blog, remember?), but even though I had no fears about the ultimate outcome, I was invested in how we were going to get there.
The episode started by establishing that the story would be one of First Contact, after it got out of its system some ground-laying about Jake Sisko being fourteen and starting to notice girls. Enter the Wadi, richly dressed, sort of decadent-lite, and interested in only one thing on DS9: no, not girls, they brought plenty of their own, but rather Games (I said, not girls. Honestly).
Games means Quark’s and Quark’s means cheating, and when the Wadi caught him at it, Quark had to play one of the Wadi’s games. Incidentally, you’d think that someone as practiced in skullduggery as Quark might have learnt the least big about dissembling by now, but no, he’s so crap at it, a three month old baby would suspect him.
The game is, unsurprisingly, Move Along Home, although it’s never officially recognised as such, and it’s a pretty prosaic name for the kind of people the wadi are laid out to be. There’s a lot of things Quark doesn’t know, like the rules for one thing, which makes for mystery, and uncertainty and apprehension, and also an easy life for the scripters, who don’t have to work out anything that makes sense. Another thing Quark doesn’t know, until Odo alerts him, is that his ‘pieces’ are actually Sisko, Kira, Dax and Bashir. It is they who are actually ‘playing’ the game and facing its dangers.
Which is where the episode’s greatest weakness lay. In order to make the episode work as well as it did, I had to ignore the complete lack of logic in the whole set-up. For instance: to appear in the ‘game’, Sisko, Kira, Dax and Bashir actually had to be physically removed from DS9. How, and where, and the mechanics of the game set-up were brushed aside as unnecessary detail, as was any form of logic to the actual game, and how to play it and how to win it. To get through one of the later rounds, all the players had to do was to drink the drinks being offered to them, which was spectacularly unconvincing as an application of skill.
But to have constructed a game worthy of being played, that required skill and progression, and an internal logic, would have required far more time (and far greater rates of pay) than a weekly TV series could afford to offer.
In the end, everybody died and Quark lost, though nobody suffered any harm because ‘it was only a game’. First contact, one had to assume, was a bust. Speaking of which, during the later stages of the game, the Director was enjoying himself shooting Terry Farrell from angles that emphasised that hers is not without amplitude under that unflattering uniform. From Next Generation onwards, Starfleet has been considerably more mature over its female officers’ uniforms, and sometimes you find yourself snarling ‘more’s the pity, dammit!’
Overall, though, a good episode. This was a third week without Colm Meaney, and I did notice the absence of the Chief’s more working-class approach to things. I hope he’s back soon.