Treme: s02 e05 – Slip Away


A funeral

Sometimes, you’re watching the process of just being, people changing in their everyday ways, minute to minute, without aim or consciousness. Everybody this week ended in a different place from where they began, but for most people the difference could only be seen from certain angles.

Antonie’s band is going down well at LaDonna’s bar but she ain’t there to see it because she can’t handle the crowd, the pushing past men. Even Sonny’s playing well. Antoine’s getting a bit of a handle on the teaching assistant part, talking music.

Jeanette gets a new job in New York, with Chef Ripert at La Bernadin. She takes in Delmond’s gig at the Blue Note, dances when he breaks off his usual set to play Jellyroll Morton. She gets a case of drinks from Davis on his aunt’s credit card, to make Seserac (?!). Delmond gets a call from New Orleans, where Albert’s depression has worsened and he’s giving up and going back to Houston.

Nelson Hidalgo’s got his deal cut for him and he’s starting to smell the money.

Davis’s record label sampler needs a big name track, and thanks to Aunt Mimi, he gets Mannie Fresh.

Annie talks to Harley about her experience with Shawn Colvin. He tells her she needs to start writing so she fights her way through writing a whole song. Davis and his mate keep mum but Harley congratulates her on writing a hit: Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice’.

Toni’s trying to concentrate on fee-paying work. Sofia’s still refusing to talk to her. After her teacher’s suicide, she stays out late after school, riding the riverboat where Crei committed suicide. When Councilman Thomas takes his intern to see her mother in Court ‘on the side of the angels’, Sofia won’t stay to watch.

Colson’s moving around at night, from murder to murder. He’s trying to get the Police to be better, to better serve the public. There’s a march coming up, a big, public march, demanding more be done to get crime under control. Marchers march with music, strand after strand, marching, merging, combining, growing. Colson watches on. Toni marches. New Orleans.

It’s movement, all of the time it’s movement. Sometimes, you have to look from another angle to see where you’ve gotten to.

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Deep Space Nine: s07 e04 – Take Me Out to the Holosuite


Who da man?

After the heavily intense episodes of the past few weeks, it was obvious that we’d get a lightweight story for a change of pace. There’s usually one quite early in every season of DS9. And ‘Take me out to the Holosuite’, which was all about having a game of baseball, was as lightweight as they come, despite the attempt to back it up with a psychological angle. In fact, it was so lightweight, you practically had to tie an iron onto it to keep it from floating away. I was prepared to be rather bored, but in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The set-up is that the Vulcan-manned Federation ship T’Kundra has docked at DS9 for two weeks of overhaul and upgrade. It’s commanded by Captain Solok who is a hate figure for Benjamin Sisko, and indeed he’s a right snotty superior pain-in-the-arse from the get-go, niggling all the time about not so much Vulcaan superiority as human inadequacy.

Solok’s done this since the pair were cadets and a drunk Sisko challenged him to a wrestling match and got whupped. For a supposedly emotionless Vulcan, Solok is a seriously vindictive shit, endlessly rubbing it in on Sisko, and now he’s brought a baseball holosuite game to challenge the Captain at his own personal sport. Sisko immediately orders the senior staff – which now appears to include Nog (?!) – to form a team and win.

That’s basically it, really. The team is swelled out by Rom, Leeta, Quark and Kasidy Yates. Rom is completely inept, which is a laugh because Max Grodenchik was a semi-professional baseball player and had to play left-handed to look authentically crap. Sisko throws him off the team, which causes the others to threaten a strike unless he’s reinstated. But there’s one of those little scenes that remind us, fourteen carat klutz that he may be, Rom is a truly good bloke: he only wants to be in the team on merit and he recognises he clearly hasn’t got any, so he won’t accept a false position.

Now, you’re all expecting that, on the day, the ‘Niners’ will pull off a victory all the more stunning for being so completely unexpected, and so did I. But this episode is more subtle than that. Basically, the DS9 team get thoroughly and deservedly whupped, 10-1, and Sisko gets thrown out for touching the umpire (Odo). But the episode shapes itself around that one, consolation run, which comes about through Sisko chucking Rom in as a pinch-hitter, his accidentally ‘hitting’ the perfect bunt and Nog stealing home, producing an ecstatic response from his team that carries over into Quark’s.

Solok doesn’t get it. He blames human emotionality (Ezri pipes up with ‘Did I forget to wear my spots today? He doesn’t even know what humans look like!’), suspects an artificial attempt to turn abject defeat into moral victory, but has to exit as everyone taunts him over his emotional investment in getting one over Sisko, but really they’re just celebrating having had fun, lots of fun, and that’s what makes this episode delightful, the copious amount of fun everyone’s clearly and genuinely having.

It still doesn’t turn me into a baseball enthusiast, cricket will always be a far more subtle, complex and involving game for me (and you couldn’t fake that onscreen as easily as DS9 does), but this was fun with its boots off, and I loved it.

Treme: s02 e04 – Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get The Blues?


Her week

Though they’ve otherwise nothing in common, Treme and The Bridge share one characteristic common to great shows, that there is always so much in each episode that you cannot be believe it has lasted only an hour. And that this abundance of event and story has been conveyed to you without once your feeling short-changed: that a scene has been too brief, or underplayed, or made less than clear.

As the episode title makes plain, this week was set in the very immediate run-up to Christmas Day, though for a Brit the perpetual hot blue skies of the south made it impossible to get my head round that idea. The New York scenes might have made that more credible, but since we’re not filming in New York (are we?), these all took place indoors.

This was an episode that felt as if it concentrated upon the music more directly than usual. There was a weirdly funny West Wing-esque open, as Antoine got dragged back to school, interviewed on the fly, did his best to talk himself out of it and still got the job of Assistant Band Director to a school band short of any instrument more musical than castanets.

But Antoine’s heart is in his Soul Apostles. Sonny rehearses on guitar but frankly is no better than adequate, and this Japanese cat blows him out of the water. The Soul Apostles debut at LaDonna’s bar, to great acclaim but the Japanese cat has a gig so Sonny gets a chance, and you can sure tell the difference. Maybe his story will take a turn, as Antoine sends one of his cronies to warn Sonny about blowing his chance, and his reputation, over his drug habit.

In New York, Delmond Lambreaux is listening to old-time New Orleans jazz, over his grlfriend’s disgust. He’s leaning towards making a New Orleans album, and he’s starting to sew an Indian costume, of sorts. He also crosses paths with Janette, but we’ll get back to her story shortly.

The biggest bonus for me was an appearance by Shawn Colvin, playing live and bringing up on stage this wonderful local violinist she’s seen, and wanted to play with. This is, naturally, the lovely Annie T, who adds some superb, sweet tones to a song I’ve never heard Shawn Colvin sing (want, want!). And at the after-party, Shawn introduces Annie to her manager. But Annie is too shy, too unpushy to go for this chance, especially as the guy a) specialises in Austin and b) isn’t as enthusiastic about her as Ms Colvin. Sigh.

There’s a lovely little additional cameo from Annie, near the end, on Xmas day, jumping out of bed with Davis to dress up in robes and tinsel and play him a Xmas solo. Lucky sod.

Ah, and he’s getting back to being annoying is our Davis, unable to cope with the painful traumas of being born white and into a rich family. You see, in his soul he’s really a 22 year old thug n***a and he’s persuading Aunt Mimi to drop $5,000 to set up a label that will basically try to be Def Jam, and you knoooooow how that’sgoing to work.

Elsewhere in our pack, Nelson’s spreading the cream around quite effectively, whilst LaDonna is showing a brave face to Antoine about not letting last week’s attack defeat her, and maybe in time she’ll get back to her old self, but there’ll be no unrealistically fast TV recoveries. LaDonna has been seriously cracked, if not broken, and Khandi Alexander is playing her part superbly.

Toni’s still investigating the increasingly suspicious death of her now-departed client’s son and sneaking her way towards a more clearly defined but still undetailed outline. There’s a few moments of mother-daughter bonding with Sofia, interrupted by a text-message telling Sofia that one of her teachers has committed suicide, the first very veiled threat from the Police about putting the past behind everyone which Toni’s just going to ignore, and Sofia sneaking out to go clubbing with her friends on the Day.

It’s also a quiet, isolated Xmas for Terry Colson, who’s left it too late to post his Xmas presents.

Which leads us back to Janette, in the kitchen at Chef Brulard’s. Our girl is still feeling the strain of the great man’s stares and glares when a special job comes in: critic in the house. This is Alan Kingsman, a real-life critic nobly playing himself. He’s the one who, a week or two earlier, had written a notorious article slamming New Orleans cuisine as, amongst other things, completely passe. Chef keeps looking at Jeanette, it’s freaking her out, he wanders over, sees some fine, left-over herb dustings (?) on the counter. He grinds them into the heel of his hand, holds the resulting spatter up to Jeanette and tells her that this is her mind.

It is the eventual last straw we’ve been expecting but Jeanette’s response is fantastic. She doffs her apron, goes out to the bar and orders an expansive drink which I didn’t recognise, insisting it be made correctly. When it arrives, she tastes it and approves. She then walks over to Kingsman’s table and, having attracted his attention, throws it in his face. Gloriously, Kingsman’s first response, after the splutter, is to complain that this is a Sesurac (?): nobody throws a Sesurac.

So our girl wakes up an Internet hero, but out of a job. Then she gets put on the guest list after bumping into Delmond in a bar watching the game, New Orleans vs New York.

That’s Xmas Eve and Xmas Day Del flies down to N’Awleans to take the grumpy and self-righteous Albert out fora meal that Albert complains about. It takes a joint hit to cool the Big Chief down, which is where we close. Sixty minutes? Time warps around great shows, I tell you.

Deep Space Nine: s07 e03 – Afterimage


Note the obvious symbolism

After the last couple of weeks, with their irritating predictability (not to mention my own, stress-related issues), it was nice to settle back with a much better, and more enjoyable, character-led episode, with the full-scale introduction of Ezri Dax to DS9.

Until last week, I’d never seen anything of Ezri, or Nicole deBeor. I’d heard of her, of course, and most of what little I’d heard wasn’t complimentary. She was described as a weak character, unimpressive, dull. More recently, I’ve also heard that Ezri – who is here as a Counsellor – has a lot of her supposed role usurped by the constant reappearances of Vic Fontaine in exactly that role, which doesn’t need any of my antipathy to Mr Fontaine to call that completely stupid.

So my pre-impressions were all negative and it’s therefore a pleasure to admit that I liked both this episode and the character, not to mention that, like Jake Sisko, I find her cute. deBeor is fresh-faced and perky in appearance, looking significantly younger than the rest of the cast, and she brings that into her performance. Despite having eight lifetimes behind her, as Sisko keeps reminding her, Ezri is still a kid, and whilst that means nervousness – especially at being in a place and among people she knows so well without having met them, and feeling burdened by their expectations of ‘her’ – and eagerness.

The episode was designed to play around Ezri, present her up front as what she is, to be swallowed in one gulp. As this was the last season, time was at a premium and a gradual introduction would have wasted the character. So we see everyone react: Sisko’s almost casual assumption that nothing has changed, Quark’s mercenary belief that this is his second chance, Bashir’s reflexive flirting. And Worf’s pain.

This is the most complex relationship of all, and it’s because Ezri knows him so well that she’s insistent on returning to the USS Destiny: she won’t inflict on him the pain of a reminder of Jardzia.

This is well-handled. Worf initially is offensive, refusing to acknowledge her. Then he attacks Bashir andQuark, warning them to stay away from Ezri. Finally, O’Brien reminds him to think how Jardzia would have wanted him to treat Ezri, which leads to an awkward quasi-acceptance.

There is a sort-of-B story, about Garak suffering from increasingly debilitating claustrophobia-induced panic attacks, but this is integrated into the main story, because Sisko asks Ezri to counsel him. An early breakdown doesn’t, however, get to the root of things and merely results in a tirade from Garak, tearing the novice Ezri down. Now, instead of leaving DS9, she’s going to leave Starfleet, completely abdicate the responsibility of being host to the Dax symbiont.

A predictable beat – the episode is not without its predictability – but when Ezri manages, more by luck than good judgement but still, to get at the real root of Garak’s issue (that in aiding the Federation he is being a traitor to Cardassia, causing untold deaths), it validates her self-conscience. She retracts her resignation, agrees to stay on DS9, gets promoted to Lieutenant, and even gets a stiff smile from Worf. Job done.

I like Ezri Dax. Now to see what role she can play in the march to the finale.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 8


Thank you all so much

At long last, after a week of fears both named and nameless and in full consideration of the darkness in which The Bridge has been swathed since that first week of series 1, the time came for it all to be over, and when it was over it was that one thing that not one in a million of us ever dreamed it might be: a happy ending.

And a happy, and deserved, and so comprehensive and completely pitch-perfect an ending, one that you cannot imagine coming back from. There are many, so many over at the Guardian BTL plotting and guessing and hoping for a Bridge 5, but in their heart or hearts they should know that this has come to an end in the only way truly possible. It’s like The Last Temptation of Christ: the final enemy is happiness, against which nothing can prevail.

Yet there was a flirtation with the fear I saw coming at the end of last week. Saga saw it herself: she was no longer in danger, she was no longer the most important person in Henrik’s life.

It was an abyss, belatedly opened, for us to fall into after we had started to comprehend that this was going to be a happy ending. For the case was finished incredibly quickly. Suzanne, who was indeed Tommy Petersen’s girlfriend, though Stephanie was only ever a codename, went hunting for our two red herring street girls, Julia and Ida, and correctly worked out they’d go to Henrik’s house. She tasered them, stuffed them in the boot of her car and, when Saga arrived, shot her twice in the chest. Twice in the bulletproof vest. And Saga struggled through one almighty winding and managed to get off a bunch of shots, blowing out a tyre.

Suzanne was captured and she couldn’t roll over fast enough. After that, everything started falling into place, with almost absurd rapidity, details like dominoes clicking one after another, one by one.

Henrik missed all this, missed the case being wrapped up, and didn’t really care. He still has a relationship to build with Astrid, who is still speaking Swedish. She wants to go ‘home’, but it’s to collect her things, and to take Henrik to Anna’s grave. It hits Henrik like a fist between the eyes, but he tries to hold it in, but back at the car, it breaks through and he cries for his other daughter. In a way, that’s the turning point for Astrid: from then on, she truly sees him as her father, and her old life completely washed away. Though my ignorance of the languages blurred it, I knew that at some point, and it was the last possible moment before the bottom fell through the world, she spoke to him in Danish: you’re my father.

Everything is turning inwards towards a contentment. Jonas wants to take credit for the win since it was achieved under his command, but his leaking has been caught and it is Lillian alone who takes the Press Conference. And she’s happy now to go to dinner with her Prosecutor admirer.

John and Barbara are blissfully loved up, and having the time of their lives. They even look pleased when Saga – Saga! – tells them they’ve been weird since they started having sex.

And Saga. The case has been carried off, Jonas is making a move towards trying to tempt her to transfer to Copenhagen before he’s so crestfallenly interrupted. But things are beginning to fall into place for her. Her gentle and so wonderful psychologist reminds her of her previous life, studying microbiology for two years before abruptly wanting to become Police: two months after her sister’s suicide. The key is guilt. Guilt that if she had been more like other people, she would have seen her sister’s deterioration before she killed herself. But Saga is not guilty. She never was, she never was. She was not responsible.

I cannot say this often enough, Sofia Helin’s face, the subtlety of her acting. In it, despite Saga’s disconnection from herĀ  emotions, Sofia Helin has so many time been utterly naked to us in her eyes, but never before have we seen hope. And retrieving her mother’s diaries, taking them to her wonderful gravel-voiced pathologist friend and having him confirm that yes, the doses tallied with the drugs that put her sister in hospital, that yes, Mama Noren did have Muchausen’s by Proxy. The release from guilt is almost shattering, for when Saga got her sister away from their parents by having them imprisoned for harming the girl, she did it by forging evidence and the evidence was true, it was real all along, it was real all along.

Everything upon which Saga’s life has been built is turning into smoke in her hands, every cage she has built around herself is becoming unbarred. But she is still, for one more time, Sago Noren, Landskrim Malmo. Something’s wrong. There’s a discrepancy in the evidence. Suzanne didn’t put forward an alibi for Margrethe Thormod. But she had one. An unbreakable alibi. And Saga’s prison chum, who stabbed her with the broken bat in episode 1, that weird, unexplained melodrama, she calls Saga back to prison. She recognised Suzanne, she came to the prison, she threatened to hurt the woman’s daughter. She was supposed to not just stab Saga, but decapitate her…

Suzanne had an accomplice. And it’s pretty obvious who it is. Wheelchair bound Kevin, Tommy’s son Brian, turning up at Henrik’s house with non-alcoholic champagne, then rising to his feet from the wheelchair, like a sleeper coming out of hiding. Knocking out Henrik. Binding him. Tying Astrid to a chair. Producing a gun. Henrik fights with the only weapon he has, time and a pair of shut eyes. Brian insists he watch Astrid be executed. Refusing to see prolongs things. Even after Brian shoots Astrid through the thigh. We know Saga’s outside, that she’s heard the shot, but this is The Bridge and we have come too close to a happy ending and the abyss is gaping wide open and Henrik changes his tack, promising Astrid that he will always be there, he will never leave her again, and the gunshot as his eyes shut…

But not even The Bridge can do that to us. The fear in Henrik’s eyes as he opens them. And Brian sliding down the french windows, his right eye a bloody ruined mess. Saga with her gun held in that fixed position.

And if I wasn’t already pouring with tears, then I was from here to the end and well beyond, moved beyond measure. Astrid will be ok, Henrik will be ok, and yes, he and Saga will be ok. She’s going away for a while, to find out what she’s going to do. She’s taken the boxes of her old life the diaries, the photos out of which she was long ago cut, and burned them, burned up the past. She’s admitted to Henrik that she does need him. They’ve even kissed, Saga who never kisses. He’ll be there when she gets back. He wants her to meet Astrid. Things have worked out. There’s an immense air of peace settling.

Last of all, there is the bridge. Daylight, air, a drive towards Malmo. Saga pulls up, midway. For a moment, there’s the tremor of fear. She gets out, walks to the rail. They couldn’t? Surely they couldn’t? Trash everything that’s been done for the sake of a cheap twist? That would mock every part of what Saga has gone through. And no, they can’t. For there is a moment still of formal perfection, the last delicate notes that are the only notes that can now be played because none other complete the melody. Saga throws her Police ID into the Oresund Sound and walks back to her car. The phone rings. “Saga Noren,” she answers.

Though if you had asked me, at any time throughout these past seven weeks, would I jump at a The Bridge 5 if they offered it, I would have snatched your hands off, now I would spit in your eye. What was offered to us was a happy ending, out of all the unexpected possibilities. Who could possibly suggest drawing back from that? Let Saga and Henrik’s life be what it will be, free from us overlooking them, trying to make their freedom into their past, putting back on them the chains they’ve borne so long. It is over. My tears have been sorrow and joy and beauty all in one. This isn’t going to happen again. We can’t count of another The Bridge in our lifetimes. We can only hope that it rubs off, that our own TV industry stops making so much formulaic and insipid shit.

Yeah, right. Thank you, everyone, thank you.

Treme: s02 e03 – On Your Way Down


Her episode

Objectively, there was little about episode 3 that was any different from episode 2, but my response to this was completely different. In part this was due to the elements in this episode, the individual storylines, starting to firm up, to take more distinctive shapes, but a larger part of it was me: the place I’m in in my head right now isn’t a good place to be, and I was grateful for the chance to be in another place, to immerse myself in the culture and milieu of a completely different place and time.

There was another of those brilliantly effective opens, the genius of which you don’t really understand until it’s done. A sweet, low-key violin theme, underpinned by piano, meanders like the images do, silent snippets of early in the day, people being the people they are. This leads us to a Gallery, an exhibition of photos of Katrina, of New Orleans under water. A piano/violin duet are playing for the visitors, and of course the violinist is Annie.

Thhere’s not much more of her this week. She leaves her pianist to improvise whilst she looks at the pictures, and she finds one of Sonny (I was ahead of the camera there), on a roof, helping get a baby handed out. A weird moment for Annie.

But that was it for her, and there was a theme among the stories this week, and it wasn’t a very nice one. Davis has been checking Janette’s house for mail and discovers its been robbed, very thoroughly indeed. Janette flies back from New York to try to resolve everything in one day, having been lectured very patronisingly and demeaningly by Chef Broulard about commitment, and character.

Sonny’s slide continues. He’s getting nowhere and the rate accelerated when his pad was raided by the cops and he got away by not having gotten home quite early enough. But the cops left the door open and when he did venture back, the place had been robbed and trashed. His guitar had been taken, his keyboard just smashed, like everything else, because those who don’t give no shit don’t give no shit.

But worse, far worse, was LaDonna. She was closing up the bar, on her own, but there’s some mumbling guy outside, seeking directions hedoesn’t seem that eager to follow. The Police won’t come out: it’s not an emergency, at least not yet. But when LaDonna figures it’s finally safe to go outside, it ain’t safe at all, and there’s two of them, and they’re inside…

The ‘R’ word is never mentioned but enough is done, in terms of examination, treatment and medication at the hospital to exclude any doubts, without any sense of hedging round things. All there was was the determination not to be melodramatic, to be human. But above all, there was Khandi Alexander. Anybody who knows her only for CSI: Miami saw her operating on maybe one-tenth of her ability. Here, in the complete change in personality that follows the assault, the utter brokenness of the woman, she told us everything we needed to know just in who she became.

The ever-growing lawlessness of New Orleans was also a theme of Toni Bernette’s part of the mix. Pursuing the issue of the dead Arbea boy, with a degree of help from the ever-sympathetic Colson, Toni learns that the circumstances of his death were radically different from those few, empty words told to his father: his body was found inside a looted bar/hall, shoot through the head, with bullet casings on site. The evidence was memorable: lacking paper, the officer wrote his report on a paper plate he found within.

But that evidence went only so far and then vanished. Toni’s still pursuing, though Colson’s backed off this one. Toni’s also concerned about Sofia. Her YouTube rants are still channeling Crey, but she’s even more unresponsive to her mother. The best option seems to be an unpaid internship at City Hall, get into politics. Toni’s got an in with Councilman Thomas.

Which is more than Nelson Hidalgo has. It’s the first set-back to Nelson’s sweeping plans, and it’s everything to do with Thomas correctly identifying him as a carpetbagger, an out-of-stater here to siphon off large chunks of the money meant to aid New Orleans. There’s also an ambiguous scene where Nelson offers to take on his best demolisher – the builder guy LaDonna was trying to get fix his roof in season 1 – to work for him as Vice-President in charge of Demolition. The money was 5% plus any of the work the guy allots to himself. The man’s suspicious and I couldn’t work out whether he’d said yay or nay to it.

Who else? Antoine Batiste and his Soul Twisters were in rehearsal much of the episode, and real fun we had with them. Desiree is less impressed: if they want to get a mortgage, they have to have two incomes, which means Antoine’s got to get a Job. She’s got him an interview at a school so he’s got to wear a suit. Unfortunately, the appointment’s at going home time. Antoine emerges from his taxi, looks in horror at the dear little boys and girls enthusiastically milling around, and gets straight back into it.

Delmond’s on the road, playing to acclaim, but not to audiences that show wild enthusiasm for him. His CD’s sold 2,300 copies, but he’s not even aware of the internet, of Facebook, MySpace, web-pages, and when his manager (good old Jim True-Frost) shows no enthusiasm either, Del sacks him.

And to round things of and draw a ring, Big Chief Albert’s finally got his appointment at the insurers and all his paperwork is in order. He’s sat next to Janette… who hasn’t got an appointment, is due back in New York tomorrow, and who I predict will shortly have all the time in the world on her hands.

Shapes. Patterns. A little more focused. A little more kinetic. An hour in New Orleans with other people’s lives. Just what I needed.

Deep Space Nine: s07 e01/02 – Image in the Sand/Shadows and Symbols


Enter Ezri

The cynic in me says that this was always going to be about getting Sisko back and, given that I’m feeling overtired and unwell at the moment, I’m not in the mood for being manipulated in the fashion laid down by the end of season 6. Nor am I in sympathy with the big reveal that was made over the course of this two-parter, which I knew to be coming but which seemed ultimately to be too cheap an explanation for why Sisko is the Emissary.

Fortunately for all concerned, there were three stories over the course of the introduction to the last season, an A and two B’s, both of substantial proportion, and giving a substantial part to everyone in the cast. This included newcomer Nicole de Boer, replacing Terry Farrell as Dax, Ezri Dax to be specific, in a pretty blatant move to be about as different a Dax as can be.

Three months have gone by and Sisko has gone nowhere. Kira, newly promoted to Colonel and celebrating by adopting a new and hideous hair-style, is still acting Commander of DS9, her latest headache being the Federation’s decision to grant the Romulans a military HQ on DS9, even though they’ve got no right to. Though Senator Cretak at first presents as pretty amenable for a Romulan, enlisting the Colonel to put in for a Romulan med-base on a deserted Bajoran moon, it’s just your pretty standard Romulan treachery since they immediately set-up 7,000 missile launchers about it, provoking a Cuban Missile Crisis knock-off when Kira decides to blockade the place.

Meanwhile, Worf is mourning Jardzia for rather longer than Klingons do, forcing Vic Fontaine to continually sing ‘All the Way’ (oh dear God) and smashing up the holosuite. Chief O’Brien nobly goes three bottles of bloodwine with him to learn that it’s because Jardzia didn’t die fighting, she won’t go to Sto’Vo’Kor. The only way to secure this is to win a glorious victory against overwhelming odds in her name. Bashir, O’Brien and Quark (oh dear God) go with him.

As for Sisko, he’s playing the piano and peeling potatoes (for three months?). Finally, the baseball rolls off the piano and when he stoops to pick it up he has a vision from the Prophets, of uncovering a face in the sand on Tyree, a desert planet. Mission on. By indirect means, Sisko discovers that the face is that of his mother, his real mother, Sarah, not the one he’s always thought of as his mother until now. Sarah was his Dad’s first wife, his real, true love, who ran off inexplicably as soon as Ben was born. She’s dead now.

Having fanatically hidden her existence from her son all this long, Joseph Sisko cracks and gives Ben a locket she left behind. A locket with an inscription in Old Bajoran (my, we’re just piling on the cliches here, aren’t we?). The inscription translates as Orb of the Emissary, a lost Orb, so hey ho and the three generations of Siskos head off to Tyree where it’s obviously buried, though not before a Pah-Wraith worshiping Bajoran cuts Sisko’s stomach open to no lasting effect.

And just as they’re closing the restaurant to head for the spaceport, there’s a knock on the door, and it’s a cute little, fresh-faced Starfleet Ensign, whose cute black hair-style conceals most of her Trill spots: enter Ezri Dax.

Thee new Dax is obviously going to be comic relief to begin with, though there’s a serious explanation for her goofy gabble. Ezri never wanted to be joined, but when the Dax symbiont took a turn for the worse, post-Jardzia, she was the only Trill in town so, fifteen minutes of pep-talk later and everything changes. Ezri’s confused as hell, and looking to her two-lifetimes friend Benjamin to help her get her completely new feet on the ground. Off to Tyree? Bring it on!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Worf’s mission is not going well, though ultimately it’s a winner, and whilst I’m tired and being sarcastic because of it, Worf’s dedication to his lost wife is genuinely moving, despite all of Quark’s efforts to fuck up the tone. And Colonel Kira’s trying to bluff Senator Cretak into backing down, only, Romulans being smart buggers, she knows that and doesn’t intend to.

So Sisko’s party tramps unmercifully across the desert in pursuit of the buried Orb, Sisko’s only idea of where it may be being that he’ll know when he finds it. Or when Ezri throws his baseball away (another twist we couldn’t see coming). Did did dig dig dig, and there it is.

And another twist that I was very much not in sympathy with, as Sisko suddenly turns back into the half-mad Fifties SF writer, Benny Russell, the creator of ‘Deep Space Nine’. Benny’s in what the times would call the looney bin, his doctor trying to cure him by getting him to stop writing these stories. He’s writing in pencil on the walls (that actually was every single synopsis of very episode so far, written out on the walls of his cell, with Dr Wykoff – Casey (Demar) Biggs – trying to get Benny to whitewash over them.

That this had a perfectly logical explanation, that the Pah-Wraith was trying to get Sisko to rebury and smash the Orb, didn’t occur to me, which shows what a state I’m currently in: it just seemed like an unnecessarily clever-clever throwback to a story I’d been very dubious about to begin with. But Sisko holds out and opens the Orb.

A presence streaks from it, crosses space, roars past DS9 and re-opens the Wormhole, expelling the Pah-Wraith from it. We’re back in business. For Sisko, there’s a vision, a vision of the Prophet that was his mother Sarah, or rather which occupied her to ensure Sisko was born, at what cost to Sarah, Joseph, Benjamin himself. He’s the Emissary because he’s half-Prophet. Oh, really. How cheap.

And the re-opening of the Wormhole inspires Kira to carry out her bluff and win, because the Federation makes the Romulans back down.

So everyone returns to DS9, happily,including the new Dax in Town, whose day will of course come next week, when I hope to feel much more receptive to the next episode, or maybe have that be a bit less – ok, a lot less – clumsy and blatant in some of its ideas. Sorry about this. At long last, we’re on the home straight. I am starting to want the finish line to arrive.