Deep Space Nine: s06 e22 – Valiant


A new crew

Well, that was a weird little experience. With the main cast squeezed into inessential cameos at the beginning and the end, this episode played like a backdoor pilot for another spin-off series: Star Trek – Babies.

The set-up is simple: Nog’s on a diplomatic mission to deliver a McGuffin (a secret message for the Grand Negus), with Jake along for the ride but not-so-secretly out for an interview. They bump into a fleet of six Jem’Hadar ships, one of which breaks formation to blast them into atoms, but are saved by the fortuitous appearance of the Valiant, a Defiant-class ship, which teleports then (but not the McGuffin) aboard before destroying the Jem’Hadar ship.

The sting is that the ship’s crew consists solely of cadets, albeit Red Squad cadets, i.e., the best of the best. There were sent on a training mission, to circumnavigate the Federation – this is what you get for trying to betray it, in season 4 – only to get into a fight that kills all the Commissioned staff. Just before he died, Captain Ramirez promoted Cadet Watters to Captain, and Watters has promoted other cadets in that wake.

Like I said, Star Trek: Babies. The cadets appear to be a fully functional crew, loyal, strong, adept. ‘Captain’ Watters certainly seems to be the epitome of a Starfleet Captain, confident, decisive, fully-prepared. He takes advantage of the new arrivals to promote Nog to Lt. Commander, make him Chief Engineer, and appoint him Red Squad.

Nog wavers, but only for a moment. His common sense tells him he isn’t ready, but his ambition, and his Ferengi-ness overrule him. Nog buys wholly into the fantasy of Watters, and his principal lieutenants, “Commander” Farris and “Chief” Collins, and Watters’ determination to fulfil the Valiant‘s last chosen mission, to track and scan a new Jem’Hadar battleship.

Not so Jake. Jake’s there to see things from the outside. He sees how crazy it is. These are cadets, not fully-trained Starfleet officers, by definition unfinished. True, they’re performing to a high level, but these are cadets who’ve been operating behind enemy lines for eight months, without proper command, and without the experience that brings inner resources. Watters may be in full command and looking like a future Kirk or Picard, but he’s not sleeping at night and he’s popping pills like a parka-clad Mod to stay awake. Farris is turning into a paranoid fanatic. Collins breaks down after only a minute’s talking about her home on the Moon. This is not a healthy ship, and Nog’s rapidly turning into one of them.

With Nog’s assistance, the mission is completed. They can all go home. But instead, Watters, who has bought too deeply into being a Starfleet Captain, and into the self-taught myth that Red Squad can do everything, commits the crew to destroying the Jem’Hadar ship. It will be their glory day, it will go down in history.

Only Jake, who is seeing things from a different perspective, demurs. It’s crazy. His Dad wouldn’t attempt this in the Defiant with a full crew and if Captain Benjamin Sisko couldn’t get away with it, nobody could. So he gets slung in the brig, to prevent his defeatism affecting the crew. Oh yes, we’re starting to see the shape of it,aren’t we?

The plan is a rip-off of Star Wars and Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing firing a bomb down a garbage chute or whatever it was. The Valiant takes heavy punishment. Crew are being killed. But the Delta radiation torpedoes hit their mark, the plan succeeds, the mission is fulfilled, all hail Red Squad, see, told you I could do it, ner ner, ner ner, ner.

Only the Jem’Hadar ship doesn’t blow up. They hit Watters’ target but it didn’t do the damage he expected. Watters orders everyone back in, even though it’s now obvious to anyone not sucked up into their own myth of invincibility that there’s not a hope in Hell of achieving anything but everyone getting killed. And the next hit does for him. Farris wants to obey orders but she’s killed too. Suddenly, Nog in senior officer, but he’s snapped out of it and orders Abandon Ship. Only one escape pod escapes, to be picked up by the Defiant. The only survivors are Jake, Nog and Collins.

The episode ends on a sombre debate over how Jake will write this up. Collins maintains that Watters was a great man, and that he didn’t fail, the crew let him down. Nog wants the ship honoured, the crew seen as they were: good, very good, loyal and of the highest quality, a true loss. But he’s seen through the miasma of arrogance and overweening ambition. The truth was, as he tells Collins, that Watters may have been a hero and a great man. But he was a bad Captain.

And Nog hands back to her his Red Squad insignia.

It’s a powerful ending. And I’m indebted to Memory Alpha for telling me that this is more or less the identical plot to the first J.J. Abrams film, except that DS9 is considerably more realistic in having the cadet’s plan fail. Fitting, of course, because DS9 was and is conspicuously better for its darkness, even if that darkness sometimes is only a shade of grey.

It’s nevertheless a bubble story, as opposed to a bottle story. Then again, looking at the outline of the next episode, I might be better off watching this one again. At least it was very well made, and very pertinent.

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Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge s04 e02


out of character

So.

As always, there seemed to be considerably more than an hour of story in this hour of television, and much happened. And already, the show is delighting in setting up an array of questions, some of which appear to be red herrings. Such as the guy who appeared out of nowhere last week to clonk Richard Twin over the bonce? Nothing to do with Red October, who deny murdering Margrethe Thormod, but rather the jealous boyfriend of the girl who slept with Patrik Twin under the mistaken impression he was Richard.

Or the mysterious, distant, gated community to which Frank takes Sofie and Cristoffer. It’s creepy as hell and the old woman with the long white hair who owns/leads it doesn’t like having her decisions questioned but it’s a place for idealism: be good people, be the best you can be.

Or is it? The problem with red herrings is that sometimes they’re not red at all, it’s down to how you look at them.

Take the open. A young girl, Ida, walks slowly through a busy area before suddenly collapsing. Whilst concerned shoppers gather round, a slightly older girl, Julia, picks pockets. The girls live on the street. They didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything, except that one of the phones they steal turns ooutto be connected directly to the Thormod case.

How many of you, like me, took one look at the girls, assessed their age, and thought, Henrik’s daughters?

Their ages are right. So is their respective hair colours and curliness/straightness when you see the little girls of Henrik’s visions, eight years younger. So, are they Henrik’s missing daughters? Or are we merely meant to think that?

Ah, Henrik. I mean, Sofia Helin gets all the plaudits for her performance as Saga, and doesn’t she just deserve them? But Thure Linhardt, especially on the evidence of this episode, is every bit as important to this series as she is. In The Bridge 3, he sometimes came over as a bit of a pretty boy, but there’s none of that here. Both actors are creating miracles of subtlety by the most minor of facial expressions.

Anyway, let’s get to the facts. Beyond a mention that Saga was lucky, last week’s cliffhanger is swept aside in the most perfunctory of manners. After a brief spell in hospital, she’s up and at them, back to work, re-admitted by Linn the Troll even if her gun practice isn’t up to her usual levels. There’s a moment, during that, when Saga raises the gun, that her eyes betray complete panic.

And she’s back to business, assigned to the Thormod case and immediately hitting the ground like the Saga of old. Her old clothes – the white t-shirts, the leather trousers, the long green coat, the Porsche – are re-adopted like a uniform, and she and Henrik immediately reform their partnership. Which seriously puts the nose out of joint for Jonas, who is still assigned to the case, but who is now relegated to doing no more than be let behind to grow disgruntled. And whilst he’s still an unreconstructed bugger, the glory of the show is that he has every right to be pissed off: he is being treated badly.

Saga’s temporarily staying with Henrik. After an exhausting screw, she can’t sleep, so she gets out the file for Alice Sabroe and her missing daughters and, being Saga and, more importantly, a woman, starts to get some information out of Alice’s old female friends, who’ll tell her what they didn’t tell Henrik: that Alice was unhappy, he was too much the policeman, she talked to someone (male) at work…

There are developments. Taariq the deportee saves the two girls from being attacked outside the restaurant where he washes dishes. They give him a mobile as thanks. He’s shopped by the bastard of the restaurant owner (anything to get out of paying a week’s minimum wage). He explains that Margrethe disagreed with the decision to deport him, offered to help smuggle him away, but she was interrupted by an urgent, worrying call. From the phone that the girls gave him, which has a tracking app on it, for Thormod’s phone.

Now that’s one implausible coincidence and I have to fault the show for that, even as the overall quality mandates me to forgive it. It leads to a hunt for thegirls, who decide to relocate to Malmo.

Meanwhile, Saga and Henrik question Niels Thormod about this new development, but he knows nothing. Except that, after they leave, he phones someone to assure them the Police know nothing, and the plan will proceed. And at the end he collects a secret delivery of police photos of his dead wife…

Oh, and Patrik and Richard Twins? Patrik is a hospital clown, entertaining sick children, except he bursts into the room of one girl who’s terrified of clowns. Accident, of course. Except that he knew to avoid her. At night, he savours the outside heated jacuzzi until distracted by a mysterious, darkened trespasser, who refuses to leave. He has a flashing red dot on him. But when Patrik grabs the rails to get out of the jacuzzi, they are electrified…

That’s the second murder. Everyone assumes it was planned for Richard, who is distraught. Mistaken identity. The Swedish Police place him in protective custody, under guard in a hotel. But when Henrik and Saga go to question hiiim, the guard’s gone. And so’s Richard.

Ah, Saga. Saga is back, as she always was. Except that she’s not right. Spilled paperclips give her a flashback of last series’ killer gouging his arm with a paperclip to open a vein. She’s going off into short fugues. And on the Bridge, behind the wheel, she has a sustained panic attack. Something’s not right. Something’s very much not right. Somewhere in all this tangle, of angles and leads and red herrings and lives that seem to interconnect, there is an answer. Like Henrik, hearing what Alice thought about their marriage, I think we are very much not going to like it.

Treme: s01 e07 – Smoke my Peace Pipe


Parallel lines. Stories taking place, rolling forward. They slide past each other. A couple impinge on each other, the centre of one playing a subsidiary role in someone else’s. David McAlary’s still pushing his candidature for City Council, selling CDs, thinking of another song, maybe even Mayor. Gets approached by a Judge offering a favour of Davis steps down, stops taking votes from their candidate. A handshake.

But then he discovers Janette’s restaurant is closed down. She’s bought herself a trailer, going to be a mobile grill-chef. Davis turns up, offering (genuine?) sympathy and friendship, mans the counter for her.

Toni Burnette’s a tangent to two stories, LaDonna’s and Creighton’s. Crei’s trying to write, to go back to the novel. Toni’s pleasure is nothing but an interruption to the flow, but another Rant – quieter, more sober, level-headed and oddly defeatist – is an easier interruption. I know Crei Burnette’s outcome. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could watch these scenes in ignorance, and only fear for what they might import, instead of knowing why John Goodman isn’t in any more seasons after this one.

LaDonna… well, no, we’ll come back to her. Let me just note here that I always suspected Khandi Alexander was being wasted in CSI: Miami and Treme confirms this because she is so bloody good in this, and in this week.

There are others whose stories unfold in isolation. Antoine plays down at the airport with the little band, to ordinary folks and visiting star musicians who jam, but his old mentor dies in a hospital bed and there’s also a funeral to play at.

Annie’s back with Sunny. There’s the chance of a three week Canadian tour playing fiddle with a Cajun band: he’s outwardly supportive but, well, you know. Annie flubs the audition, though it all sounded good to me, because she’s got troubles in her heart. Lucia Micarelli is my favourite thing about Treme, even when she’s not lost in her playing.

And Big Chief Albert Lambreaux’s latest stunt is to invade the fenced off projects, take up (permissive) residence in a home belonging to a tribe member’s mother, expect to get arrested. It’s to draw attention to how many people, especially black folk, are being prevented from returning to N’Awleans, especially before the Elections, when there is well-constructed, undamaged housing available to them.

It’s all Politics, talk of reducing Orleans in size, a smaller footprint, let the swamp reclaim black districts. It’s part of Creighton’s Rant, it’s in Davis’s possible political manifesto, it’s here in Big Chief Albert’s faux-naive questions to the Press. The Police let him alone as long as they can but the arrest has to come. On your knees, motherfucker, hands on your head. Albert will go, but with dignity, on his feet, with handcuffs before him. Won’t Bow Don’t Know How. But that’s too much of a defiance, and he is beaten to the ground, beaten by four cops, with batons and an arm across the throat. Uppity niggers don’t get to defy White cops. Who does he think he is? Rodney King?

But LaDonna Battiste-Wiliams, still searching for her brother Damo. A Judge, disgusted at a system that’s lied, prevaricated, obstructed, hidden for six months, orders production. But Damo’s not in the system. Not of live prisoners, anyway. Nor on the master list that includes both the released and the dead. LaDonna spots a name, though, cousin Jerome, no record, and at home.

So poor Damo is tracked, to a body-bag in a refrigerated truck, shunted around a system, dead of a cerebral haemorrhage, ‘falling from a top bunk’. And LaDonna, having discovered her brother’s been dead for five months, five months, dealing with shock, dealing with misery, dealing with anger, summoning up a fearsome coldness: no removal of the body, no funeral arrangements, not now, not during Carnival. She’ll hold on to it. Her mother, their family, they will have Carnival, right and proper. Then it can be done, be told. Until then, LaDonna will be the only one. She’ll hold it in.

Khandi Alexander deserves every plaudit for her performance in this episode. She is better than you can imagine anyone being. And when Carnival is over…

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Deep Space Nine: s06 e21 – The Reckoning


Gunfight at the OK Promenade

Researching last week’s episode and the brief pre-synopsis of ‘The Reckoning’ has brought home to me that we are now approaching Deep Space Nine‘s endgame, and that its writers and producers are fully aware of this and are now starting to lay markers for the ultimate conclusion. Thus this episode, directly relating to Sisko’s role as the Emissary, to one of the Prophecies, and foreshadowing the role Kai Winn will be playing.

It’s a simple enough story. An ancient tablet is found on Bajor, covered in old, difficult to translate, inscriptions, one of which refers to the Emissary. When Sisko touches it, he has a Prophet-vision, telling him that The Reckoning is at hand, and that it will be the end, or the beginning. He’s thrown across the cave.

Sisko has gone from being the complete sceptic over his Emissaryship to a true believer, whereas nobody else, except Kira, can take it seriously. Jake is concerned at what this is doing to his Dad, a subtle reversal of roles that prefigures what is to follow.

The Captain has had the tablet brought to DS9, where it is rapidly followed by Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher once again at her best), demanding its return. Sisko wants to study it until he understands both it and what he is supposed to do. Dax’s translations are pretty much all doom, gloom and despair. But when Starfleet order Sisko to hand it back, his frustrations and confusions mount into a Prophet-sent rage in which he smashes the stone, releasing two shades of energy wisps, one red, one blue, that vanish into the station.

Winn’s underlying resentment of Sisko, after much time spent developing a more conciliatory relationship with the Emissary, is analysed by Kira as being ultimately her resentment that, after believing all her life, after rising to become spiritual leader of Bajor, she is nevertheless out-ranked, and by a non-Bajoran. So much is true, but it ignores an underlying factor, which Fletcher brings out in her studied, quiet, seemingly undemonstrative way: that there is a crack in her faith, because the Emissary exists.

This will play out overtly in the endgame. Much of the middle of the episode is static in terms of the plot, is about reactions and opinions, which makes the ending all the more dramatic, when a Prophet possesses Kira.

It’s very effective: Nana Visitor stands more erect, her face is lit by a pale light, her voice is made more mechanical in tone and, most disconcerting of all, she is given pale blue eyes. The Reckoning is here, the Sisko has completed his task. Winn recognises the Fifth Prophecy: good will confront evil, the Prophet will confront the Pah Wraith Kosst Amojan: if successful, this will usher in a Golden Age for Bajor, 1,000 years of peace and plenty.

But the battle will probably destroy DS9.

Sisko orders a general evacuation. He is determined that The Reckoning shall go ahead, and he will stay to see it through. Especially after Kosst Amojan possesses Jake.

It’s a battle of special effects, as the combatants stand and glare at each other (apparently it took ages to shoot because Naba Visitor and Cirroc Lofton kept collapsing in giggles). The battle is going to the Prophet but the energy build-up means the station could blow up at any second. Dax has proposed a solution, flooding the Promenade with Chroniton particles to force both possessors to leave, and strangling The Reckoning at birth. Sisko has refused this all along – but in the confusion of the final evacuation, Kai Winn slips into Ops and sets the Chroniton working.

Prophet and Pah Wraith flee in agony. Kira and Jake survive (the latter bringing the circle around again from Jake visiting his dad in the infirmary to Ben visiting his son). Bajor is safe again. Kai Winn is preening herself. But Kira confronts her over her decision, understanding completely that it was born of ambition, not of faith. The Prophecy has not been fulfilled, and even the Prophets may not know now what the future holds.

Seeds are implanted. It’s a non-ending, on one level a cop-out, but perhaps a necessary one – if a thousand years of peace were to be secured, who needs another 31 episodes of Deep Space Nine. But it’s an episode that deals with major concerns, and it’s brilliantly acted.

Of course, the luvvy-duvvy cosying up between Kira and Odo was totally out of place – I had not realised just how wrong that would look – and Colm Meaney got the week off, but let us not nitpick. From hereon in, everything we see is on the road to the End. Everything is a signpost. Look for what direction it points.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge s4 episode 1


It’s back, at long last, and for the last. The Bridge, or Bron-Broen, has been so successful in Denmark and Sweden that it’s been granted an unprecedented fourth series and, to parallel that popularity, it’s been given an uplift from BBC4 to BBC2, and it’s own time on Friday night, away from the Saturday Eurocrime slot. It’s also been rationed back to one episode per week which, given the cliffhanger at the end of episode 1, is a hellish trick to play on an adoring public, but then again we get eight weeks to play out this story one final time.

Much has been made in advance of the ‘ultra-violent’ start of the series: a woman is buried up to her shoulders underneath the (in)famous Oresund Bridge, and stoned to death. No, it’s not a pleasant thought, and it does buy into the ‘violent crimes against women’ topic, but it’s far from the way it’s been pre-sold, as you might expect. What we see is the buried woman, in a van’s headlights. Then, from a distance, we see a man making a throwing motion and her head jerk. Cut to her bleeding from a split eyebrow, repeat throwing from the same distance after intercutting a hand picking up a stone, and pan left so we see no more. The rest of it is forensics.

There are two more blows to women’s heads, both from behind, later in the episode, neither of which are especially graphic.

The victim is Magrethe Thormod, Director of Immigration in Norway. The detectives are Henrik Sabroe and his new partner, Jonas Maudrup, played by Mikael Birkkjær, who we remember from The Killing 2 and Borgen. Jonas seems to be a decent detective, so far, though he’s not exactly enlightened. Motive, given the rather outre modus operandi, seems likely to be connected to the recent order for deportation of Tariq Sharzi, a gay muslim. There’s nothing simple about this. Homosexuality in Tariq’s home country is punished by stoning to death (a-ha!), but he’s disappeared underground and Margrethe’s staff have been videoed cracking open the bubbly over their victory in sending a man to his death so it’s a bit of a bubbling cauldron, this one. Henrik and Thure start tracing Margrethe’s whereabouts before her abrupt disappearance.

Wait a minute, I can hear you saying, Saga? Saga Noren? Saga the most central and vital character, without whom The Bridge cannot possibly be? What the hell about her?

Well, the frame worked. As she predicted, Saga was convicted of killing her mother and has spent the past two years in prison. Henrik visits her a couple of times a month (Linn the Troll tried to visit too but it never worked out), and they have sex (imagine that being allowed in a British prison, The Sun and the Mail would implode out of sheer fury). He tries to get her to look at the Thormod case but she refuses because she is not police. That’s been taken away from her. It was a very big part of her and Saga has never known how to not be it.

But there’s a retrial coming up, new evidence, her late mother’s psychologist reporting that she’d spoken of wanting to hurt Saga. It’s implied Henrik found this. He’s cautiously hopeful. Linn the Troll says she’s cautiously hopeful but with lowered expectations (I bet she does! I bet she does!)

Henrik’s also got something missing. Lilian may have found his missing wife’s remains, but his two children are still out there. It’s eight years now, though. He’d thought Saga might be able to help, but we already know why she didn’t get the chance. Maybe now, he says to his support group, he should stop, accept they they two are very probably dead. But what is he if he’s not their father?

He’s off the drugs, he no longer sees them around the house, he has the Thormod case. And the moment he puts the file into the box the two little girls reappear.

But this is The Bridge, and it wouldn’t be The Bridge without other things going on that, for now, we only know will be connected, we just have no idea how. There’s a pair of twins (and disappointingly it’s just camera-trickery though it looks like actual twin actors), one of whom is a famous TV reporter, the other of whom pretends to be his brother when it can get him laid by beautiful blondes coming on to him in bars. But TV brother is contacted by Red October, a Swedish radical left group who could have ties to the Thormod case (which is why Henrik was at Swedish Police HQ talking with Linn the Troll). They want a meeting. He has Bar Brother back him up. They don’t show. He drops Bar Brother off at home. Someone clonks Bar Brother over the head.

Someone else is getting clonked behind the head, only not so seriously. This is Sofie, a nervous, not unattractive woman in her early-Forties, panicking that seventeen year old son Cristoffer’s photo has appeared on the school website for a couple of hours. This is a fuck-up of major proportions (and may not have been an accident). You see, Sofie is divorced, from Dan, the taxi-driver who was the last to see Margrethe alive, and he’s a violent misogynist, and yes, a couple of hours is enough for him to locate her and terrorise her and find the son who hates him – because his mother has turned him against him, naturally, nothing to do with him being a bastard – forcing Sofia and Cristoffer to have to flee. Yet again.

The kindly school administrator who was responsible for accidentally allowing Cris’s photo to appear online and be tracked is going to assist the unlucky pair to rehome. He’s got the perfect place for them. And they’re the perfect tenants. Especially Cristoffer, who’s malleable…

And there’s Saga. She’s having difficulty with a new inmate, Lucinda Arvec, a cop-killer who’s got her eye on Saga. Saga secures herself 24 blessed hours in solitary by choosing to fight Lucinda’s provocation rather than call a guard, only it’s cut short. Her conviction is overturned, she’s free to go. This upsets the one inmate who’s been trying to befriend Saga all along. Saga walks away. Until someone clonks her over the back of the head. This is a serious clonking, with blood, and collapse. It’s not Lucinda though, it’s the would-be friend. saying ‘I’m Sorry’.

But Saga’s still on the floor of the prisoner corridor, blood pooling under her blonde locks…

Ok. If I could find a sub-titled episode 2, I would be watching that right now instead of blogging. And, speaking of sub-titles, this was a seriously awkward episode to watch because the version I was able to access had them seriously mis-aligned: I was reading the dialogue a full twenty seconds ahead of the actual words being spoken, and you try watching something as complex as The Bridge with your brain operating in two different timezones without getting a massive headache.

But it’s back. For seven more weeks. And this will be the last.

Treme: s01 e06 – Shallow Water, Oh Mama


We slide over easy into the back half of the series, a cool, laid-back episode for the most part that saw most people spinning their wheels whilst concentrating on advancing only a couple of the stories.

This feel came from the episode’s opening scenes. The open itself centred upon David McAlary and his joke of a campaign for City Council, roaming the streets in a truck, surrounded by tall, slim, beautiful women handing out copies of his campaign CD (for $3 each). Funny in its way, it was the epitome of all self-centred jerks who think that the system will crawl away whimpering and broken if they point out its absurdity, and the people will turn their iconoclasm into a raging movement, sweeping all before it, which only happens in fiction, not real-life.

Please excuse me for that rant: I really don’t like Davis McAlary, which is a testament to how well Steve Zahn plays him.

After that, we swung round several of the characters, doing nothing significant, doing things and preparations. Only three stories made significant movements this week.

The briefest of these was with Annie and Sonny. He’s getting more and more fucked up, spending more and more time high. It’s affecting his performances on the street, and his attitude is getting to Annie. Sonny’s getting ever more resentful of Annie getting gigs – real gigs – elsewhere without him. She wants to do them, she wants to play. He complains that it ‘dilutes’ what they’re doing. When she turns on him, angry at his resentment, contemptuous of the idea of her real gigs ‘diluting’ their playing in the street for small change, Sonny slaps her across the face.

Annie leaves immediately, in silence, taking her violin. She goes to an all night cafe, but in the morning she comes back. He’s apologetic, says some of the right things, says lots of the same old things, blames it on being high, it wasn’t him, promises it will never happen again. Lucia Micarelli is wonderfully expressive in saying nothing.We’ve all heard it all before.

The most devastating is Janette Desautel. The restaurant’s reached the end of the line. She can’t pay her suppliers.  She can’t bring herself to ask the staff to go one week without pay, though she manages to ask them by saying she can’t ask them. In a lesser story, they all rally round, wholeheartedly, but this isn’t a lesser story. The next day, not even Jacques is there. Janette takes a few things, leaves a call ringing, locks the door.

There are several scenes with Delmond Lambreaux, on the road, playing with his band, ending up in New Orleans. I mention these here for the screen-time he got, and for my slowly growing ability to distinguish between the cool jazz he plays, and the New Orleans jazz he avoids playing.

But the bulk of things revolves around the Burnettes this week. Toni’s on the road to Texas, tracking down the last Police Officer who might have pulled in Delmo. The guy’s quiet, polite, but he isn’t relinquishing the beer bottle in his hand. He might recognise Delmo as the guy he pulled up for running a red light but he can’t honestly say. It’s another dead end until he mentions arresting this guy on an old warrant. Toni tracks down the carbon in the abandoned police car and she has her physical evidence.

We’re starting to watch Creighton drown under too many pressures. His agent arrives from New York, not to start reclaiming Random House’s advance, but because Creighton’s internet fame has made him hot and they want to cash in. They want something contemporary, in the style of his rants – “Fuck the Fucking Fuckers”? he suggests as a title – and they want his novel, soon.

Only they want it to cash in. It’s about the 1927 flood, but they want something Katrina-esque shoehorned in. John Goodman’s massive form visibly shrinks. He’s hurt and resentful. He’s refusing, as a writer, to accept it. And it’s ever more clear that his ‘fame’ for his YouTube videos is embarrassing him even more. It’s not what he wants to be known for, he doesn’t want to be known, he wants to do it from hiding, from some form of protective covering, some immunity.

And he’s helping Sophie with her costume for the parade. They’re all going to wear costumes, identical costumes, all white, with a hood and with tails coming off their heads. Toni can’t guess what it’s meant to be, even though the viewer has got it in one, especially if he’s once seen Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex. 15 year old Sophie is a sperm. It’s to walk in front of a carriage with a giant papier-mache Mayor ‘pleasuring himself’.

Toni’s disgusted, and angry with Creighton. She won’t go along. But she does, in her own sperm costume, because when she takes the physical evidence to the assistant DA, proving New Orleans has got Delmo, an innocent man locked up for nearly six months, they won’t join her in a Joint Motion. It’s policy. So from embarrassment at having to go in Monday morning and try to talk serious business with people who only want to talk about her daughter and husband dressing up as sperm on Sunday night, Toni dons her own suit. Fuck the Fucking Fuckers.

Down in the Treme, just me and my baby…

Deep Space Nine:s06 e20 – His Way


Changeling in a Tuxedo – wasn’t that a Morrissey song?

My parents loved Frank Sinatra and Nat ‘King’ Cole. I grew up, as a little boy, on sounds like these, on the BBC’s Light Programme. It was a little terraced house, with the radio on and the music was inescapable unless I went and hid in my bedroom, or was playing outside. They hated pop music, so both there, and at the semi-detached we later moved into, I heard virtually nothing of the music of the Sixties whilst it was rolling out. Pretty much all my love for that music is retrospective.

As a result, I am virtually completely inoculated against music of that ilk. It belongs to my parents. It isn’t, and can’t be, anything of mine. It’s ineradicably severed from the music that influences me. And it has always seemed that the only music you ever hear on American TV programmes is this relic of a past now long since gone: light, snappy, a bit jazzy, light. Lacking in energy, passion and raw enthusiasm. As if the audience can’t take anything later in style than maybe 1961-62: the Rat Pack era. Frank and Dean. And Vic. Vic Fontaine, that is.

Which is why an episode of Deep Space Nine built upon that music, that style, that retrograde ethos, showcasing the kind of songs that take me back to Brigham Street and playing with plastic soldiers on the floor, with drying clothes hung on the folding maiden in front of the fire, was never going to fly with me. Four hundred years in the future and we are still aping Frank and Dean.

My great criticism of The Original Series is that I find it impossible to believe in a galaxy run according to the mores of mid-Fifties midwest America. It’s ironic to see it’s darkest and deepest sequel sinking into the music of that time.

Basically, guest star James Darren (guest? It was practically his show) plays Vic Fontaine, nightclub/lounge singer and self-aware hologram in Bashir’s latest programme. Vic sings and tells cheesy jokes but he’s also a master of love. Odo, still mooning over Kira, who’s off to Bajor to see ex-boyfriends, Shakaar, asks Vic for advice.

Put like that, you can see what a bad idea it is. Played out over 45 minutes, Odo is every bit as inept and awkward as you’d expect him to be. I was a bit surprised though, not to get any frissons of recognition from my own ineptitude and awkwardness, though it was probably the unreality of the situation that kept me from feeling too much of myself in things.

Vic teaches Odo to unwind, relax, cool it, have fun, not that Odo changes too much. He introduces him to torch singer Lola Christoff (Nana Visitor in a red sheath dress, breathily singing ‘Fever’), and having a definite thing for Our Changeling Friend, but Odo can’t take that step because though she looks like Nerys, she doesn’t act like her.

So the ever-resourceful Vic (he manages to get his hologram self everywhere) gets Kira to come for dinner in the holosuite, cons Odo into thinking this is a perfect hologram duplicate, and serves them up the perfect cliche Fifties dinner, dance and shag date.

Of course we only get the first two, because when Odo realises that this is the Kira, the real Kira, everything blows up in a perfect storm of embarrassment. Leading to the cliche ending: Odo avoids Kira, Kira decides to settle it by asking him to dinner, a real dinner, they start shouting at each other, on the Promenade, over the sequence of events: dinner, dancing, kissing, why bother with the preliminaries, lets have the massive passionate snog right here, in public, with the crowd practically holding up scorecards: 9.1, 9.6, 9.3…

Both Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois thought this development wrong for their characters, and so do I, but the season 7 finale was already in mind, including Odo’s resolution, if not quite yet its title, and there had to be something to lose. The story had been played out since season 2, and the showrunners wanted it to progress towards that end (the rationale is somewhat male-centric: give the guy a girl so he’s got something precious to sacrifice, but what about her?) even if the actors felt it wrong.

For once, I seem to be in with the majority, who didn’t like the episode, though they’re not as alienated by the music as I am. The showrunners still defend it, but this was one for them and not the audience. Mam and Dad would have liked it, though.