Tue
Apr 30 2013 3:45pm
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “A Man Alone”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone“A Man Alone”
Written by Gerald Sanford and Michael Piller
Directed by Paul Lynch
Season 1, Episode 3
Production episode 40511-403
Original air date: January 17, 1993
Stardate: 46421.5

Station log: Bashir tries to hit on Dax and crashes and burns rather spectacularly, especially since she already has supper plans with Sisko. Meanwhile, Odo and Quark gossip about various and sundry things, ranging from disquiet in the O’Brien home to Quark’s Bashir-like infatuation with Dax.

Odo recognizes a dabo player as Ibudan, a black marketer he put away for murdering a Cardassian officer who wanted a payoff to look the other way. He’s free now because the Bajoran provisional government doesn’t view killing a Cardassian as much of a crime. Odo tries to kick Ibudan out of Quark’s, which leads to a brawl that Sisko interrupts his meal with Dax to break up. Odo gives him 26 hours to leave the station. Sisko, however, won’t allow Odo to arbitrarily bend the rules; if Ibudan’s been released from prison, he’s free to be on the Promenade.

The O’Briens are having difficulties. Keiko has no purpose on the station—on the Enterprise, she was a botanist and ran the arboretum. But there’s no need for a botanist on the station. She also isn’t entirely thrilled with the notion of raising their daughter on DS9.

Jake approaches Nog. He’s one of the few other kids on the station, and Jake could use a friend. The pair of them release some Garanian bolites in the replimat—tiny bugs that crawl all over someone and change the pigment of their skin—but then are caught by one of Odo’s deputies.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

While enjoying a massage in one of Quark’s holosuites, Ibudan is stabbed to death. Bashir—after taking another shot at Dax and not even being slowed down by Dax’s insistence that joined Trills are above such things—is summoned to examine Ibudan’s body. The holosuite door was only opened twice, once when he started the program, and one other time presumably when the killer left. Based on that, and the lack of transporter activity, the murderer had to have come in with Ibudan. Sisko orders all ships to remain in dock until further notice while Bashir sweeps for forensic evidence.

Keiko saw Jake and Nog’s practical joke, and is concerned. Kids just roam free on the Promenade, which is dangerous and will lead them into mischief. She goes to Sisko with a proposal to open a school for the children on the station. Sisko gives her whatever she needs, but he can’t compel attendance.

Zayra, who runs the transit aid station, tells Sisko and Kira that Ibudan told him that he feared for his life, that Odo would kill him. Meanwhile, Odo investigates the ship Ibudan came to the station on. He asked for double accommodations, even though he travelled alone, and his calendar’s final entry simply reads: “Odo.” (It isn’t explained why a Bajoran’s schedule on a computer on a Bajoran ship is written in English.) Bashir’s DNA analysis reveals that Ibudan was the only person in the holosuite aside from those who investigated the crime scene.

It’s Odo himself who states the obvious: if Ibudan was the only person present while the program was running, the prime suspect becomes a shapeshifter who could ooze in through the cracks. Odo’s later presence at the crime scene would account for his DNA at the scene either way.

Keiko tries to convince Rom to let Nog enroll in her school, and while she gives a good argument, Rom ultimately doesn’t believe that Nog could learn anything from a human female.

Zayra and some other Bajorans discuss Odo, wondering why he’s still security chief after having that same role under the Cardassians. Quark points out that whatever Odo’s flaws—and Quark has a long list of them—he was no Cardassian sympathizer and he’s no killer. A man in a hood eavesdrops on that conversation, because men in hoods are inherently mysterious and suspenseful and stuff.

At Odo’s request, Bashir checks out Ibudan’s quarters on the ship he came in on. He finds a biological sample container and evidence that Ibudan was conducting a biological experiment of some kind, neither of which one would expect in the cabin of a black marketeer with no scientific background. While Bashir tries to reconstruct it, Sisko—in part due to complaints from the Promenade businesspeople led by Zayra—has relieved Odo of duty, putting Kira and Dax in charge of the investigation. (They have no qualifications whatsoever to perform an investigation, unlike, say, Odo’s deputy chief of security, which he must have one of, since the episode earlier established that he regenerates every 18 hours or so, so someone has to be in charge then, but hey, they are in the opening credits, so sure, let them run it...) Odo is also less than impressed with Sisko’s stated belief that the commander thinks Odo is innocent, since Sisko has only known Odo for five minutes.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

Returning to his office, Odo finds the place trashed, the word “SHIFTER” scratched into the wall (again inexplicably in English). Quark stops by, thrilled at the news that Odo isn’t in charge anymore. They banter for a bit, with Odo jokingly asking Quark for a job, and Quark informing Odo that Ibudan didn’t make any enemies in prison.

Bashir’s sample is growing exponentially. It appears to have humanoid DNA, but they won’t know for sure until it’s done growing into whatever it is. Sisko asks Dax if she’s free for lunch, but Bashir, whose back is turned, answers, “Yes!” while Dax politely declines. Commander and doctor share a meal in Quark’s, discussing Dax. When Odo enters Quark’s, everyone moves away from him, which disheartens Sisko and Bashir both.

Keiko gets her school set up, though she doesn’t know whether or not it will work out, since Sisko’s the only parent who has given her a firm commitment. O’Brien and Molly come visit, with O’Brien giving her a school bell to ring.

A mob starts to form outside Odo’s office, calling him a freak and a “shifter” (which, I have to say, utterly fails as a racial slur). The hooded guy is part of the mob, but he doesn’t say anything, just watches mysteriously from under his super-mysterious hood. Security guards—both Starfleet and Odo’s own deputies—guard the door and Sisko calls for even more of them, and for them to be armed. The mob start throwing things. Sisko talks them down—and then Bashir and Dax have some new evidence. Both the victim and the fellow in Bashir’s jar are clones of Ibudan. Ibudan himself is still alive, and Odo tracks him to the same ship and same quarters Ibudan had, which is now occupied by the guy in the hood, who is named Lamonay Ess, and whom Odo can find no evidence of prior to his booking passage on the ship. It only takes a moment for Odo to rip his mask off (yes, really) and reveal him to be Ibudan.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

Ibudan is jailed—killing your own clone is still murder—and the clone Bashir grew in the infirmary is freed to start a new life, er, somehow. Odo goes back to work, albeit with no apologies from anyone in the mob. And Keiko opens her school to four students: Jake, two Bajoran kids, and, to her surprise and delight, Nog.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: Triphasic cloning apparently results in genetic drift that is detectable if you know where to look for it, and Bashir does know where to look for it. Because he’s just that awesome.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

The Sisko is of Bajor: We learn that Sisko’s father is a chef. He talks to Dax about how the elder Sisko used to test out new recipes for his restaurant on his children.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira refuses to believe that Odo is responsible for murdering Ibudan, and objects to Sisko relieving him of duty.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark finds himself in the odd position of defending Odo, while Rom finds himself in the odd position of giving his son an education by a human woman.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

The slug in your belly: Curzon Dax was Sisko’s mentor, and in many ways his second father. They used to do all kinds of manly things together, from contact sports to picking up women. Sisko is still adjusting to Jadzia but assures her that their friendship will survive the transition to a new host, even though Jadzia knows that it doesn’t always work that way. Sisko at one point admits to Bashir that he doesn’t know how many hosts the Dax symbiont has had.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo disguises himself as a chair in Ibudan’s cabin on the ship.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir continues to hit all over Dax, while Quark admires her from afar as well. Sisko also makes it clear that he has no sexual interest in Dax and the way is clear for Bashir to take his shot. Dax herself deflects Bashir by saying that Trill try to rise above such notions. This has the smell of bullshit being shoveled solely to deflect Bashir’s tiresome pursits, and that smell gets stronger when Sisko starts reminiscing about him and Curzon and the twins....

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

What happens in the holosuite stays in the holosuite: Dax uses the holosuite for a brain teaser where you try to get a sphere solid via mental calm. She’s been working on it on and off for 140 years, which means it likely goes back at least a couple of hosts. She gets Bashir to try it by way of diverting him from hitting on her, and he fails utterly at it.

Later, Ibudan sets up his own murder in the holosuite.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

Keep your ears open: “Benjamin, steamed azna would add years to your life.”

“Dax, I don’t want to add years onto my life if I can only eat steamed azna.”

Dax and Sisko having a discussion of diet.

Welcome aboard: Aron Eisenberg and Max Grodenchik return after appearing in “Emissary,” the former as Nog, the latter now established as Nog’s father (and Quark’s brother) Rom. Rosalind Chao as Keiko and Hana Hatae as Molly join Colm Meaney in coming over from The Next Generation to complete the O’Brien family. All four will continue to recur on the show.

Stephen James Carver and Tom Klunis play the real and disguised Ibudan, respectively. Peter Vogt and Edward Laurence Albert play the two Bajorans most interested in lynching Odo; Vogt previously played the Romulan commander in TNG’s “Tin Man,” and will return as the Kradin commandant in Voyager’s “Nemesis.” (Amusingly, none of Vogt’s three characters get names; here, he’s just credited as “Bajoran man.”). This is Albert’s only appearance on the show (there was talk of making Zayra a recurring character), and he creepily reminds me of Edward Winter, who played Colonel Flagg on M*A*S*H....

Trivial matters: This episode was filmed second, but it was decided to air “Past Prologue” second and this third. On the DVDs, the episodes are in aired order, but on Netflix streaming, this episode is second. Go fig’.

Max Grodenchik plays Rom differently from how he’ll play the role moving forward, sounding more like his first Ferengi, Soval on TNG’s “Captain’s Holiday.”

This episode establishes the Jake/Nog friendship that will become a cornerstone of the series. Several scenes involving Jake, Nog, Rom, and Keiko were originally written for “Emissary” (and can be found in J.M. Dillard’s novelization of the episode), but then cut and recycled here by Michael Piller (who wrote both scripts).

One of the items on Ibudan’s travel itinerary is the Alderaan Spaceport, a reference to Leia Organa’s homeworld in the Star Wars universe.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

Odo gives Ibudan 26 hours to leave the station, the first indication that a Bajoran day is two hours longer than an Earth day. He also mentions that he must revert to his natural liquid state to regenerate every 18 hours.

Zayra is named after Zayra Cabot, the assistant to TNG’s co-executive producer Jeri Taylor.

Walk with the Prophets: “Shapeshifting freak!” I really dislike this episode for two reasons.

The first is summed up in Sisko’s log entry at the end, when the clone has “gained consciousness and began a new life.” Say WHAT??????? That’s it? Bashir just grew a person in the infirmary, and he’s being tossed out into the world just like that? The implications of this are staggering, and they’re just fobbed off in a log entry. That’s horrible.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: A Man Alone

Far worse, though, is the destruction of the character of Keiko O’Brien. Bajor is a planet that’s recovering after a brutal occupation. There’s an ecosystem that probably needs rebuilding. And the best they can come up with for Keiko to do is become a friggin’ schoolmarm? Seriously? On TNG, Keiko was a viable, interesting character. On DS9, she’s reduced to The Complaining Wife and is also thrust into a role she herself admits she’s ill-suited to. It’s insulting to the character, it’s insulting to Rosalind Chao (an excellent actor who deserves better than to have 90% of her dialogue be complaining), and it’s insulting to the profession of teaching, as the script assumes that anyone can teach if they just have a room to do it in. After all, she’s a woman, and women teach, right?

That’s not the only example of creepy sexism in the episode, though it’s the most obvious. We also have Odo’s out-of-left-field tirade about why he doesn’t “couple,” talking about how men always “compromise” by capitulating to their nagging women. Leaving aside the fact that Odo isn’t even male by any obvious definition (his natural state is a puddle of goo), this attitude is the sort of nonsense I’d expect from the original series, which at least had the excuse of 1960s cultural stereotypes.

And then there’s Bashir’s dogged pursuit of Dax, which is only three episodes old and already feeling like stalking. Sisko’s giving Bashir permission to pursue her is noticeably absent any consideration for how she feels about it.

The mystery itself is perfunctory, with all the tiresome beats hit, including the need to relieve the investigator in charge and everyone complaining about it, even though that sort of thing would be standard procedure and everyone involved would know that. And for something that would become such a vital part of the show, the genesis of the Jake/Nog friendship is beyond lame. They go from introductions to practical jokes in no time flat. (I did like the fact that both Sisko and Rom had the same reaction to their meeting, with Sisko admonishing Jake to stay away from the Ferengi boy, and Rom making the same admonition to Nog about the human boy.)

On top of that, the resolution to the mystery is just absurd. He grew a clone and killed it? And nobody noticed that two Ibudans walked into the holosuite? And then Odo unmasks him like it’s a Scooby-Doo episode. (“I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Starfleet doctor!”)

There are moments here and there—the conversation between Sisko and Dax at the beginning is a good one, likewise Sisko reminiscing about Curzon to Bashir, and Rene Auberjonois’s performance is superb—but ultimately, the episode just fails on almost every level.

 

Warp factor rating: 2


Keith R.A. DeCandido will be appearing on a panel on the 50th anniversary of Iron Man alongside comics writers Denny O’Neil, Matt Fraction, Stuart Moore, Marie Javins, and moderator Danny Fingeroth on the Comic Book Roundtable at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art on Wednesday the 1st of May at 7pm. He’ll also be appearing on Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction on WUSB-FM on Friday the 3rd of May at 11.30pm.

81 comments
George Salt
1. GeorgeSalt
There are a couple of things I like about this episode. First, I thought that the strain we see in the O'Brien marriage is a pretty good depiction of the difficulties military families experience during assignments to remote overseas posts. Career opportunities for spouses tend to be very limited and there may be little to do off-post, if personnel are even allowed to leave post. The frustrations that Keiko is feeling are quite believable.

Also, we learn a little more about Jake Sisko in this episode. If Keiko is the 24th century version of a military spouse, then Jake is a typical military brat. And I love the fact that Jake is an average kid. Over the years I've been disappointed with the depiction of children and adolescents in TV sci-fi. All too often, writers rely on an overused character type I call the wunderkind: a prodigy who often exhibits magical abilities -- in other words, Wesley Crusher. Other wunderkind include Will Robinson on Lost in Space and Elizabeth the Star Child on the 1980s TV series V. Wil Wheaton takes a lot of flak for the Wesley Crusher character, but I blame the writers. The very first time Wesley appeared on TNG I just knew he was slated to be a wunderkind. It's such a tired trope. I suppose writers want to create a character that the youngsters can relate to, although when I was a kid I always despised the wunderkind. I find Jake Sisko's normalcy rather refreshing.
rob mcCathy
2. roblewmac
I barely remember this but remember thinking "Murding a clone to fake your own death? OOH clever!"
Uncle Mikey
3. Uncle Mikey
The great weakness of DS9's first two seasons is that at least some of the writers -- or perhaps the producers commissioning them -- had not yet really adjusted to the fact that this was a totally different sort of show. Perhaps they were even actively fighting against the notion that it should be. The result is that both seasons are peppered with stories that would not really have been all that strong on any Star Trek series, but were particularly weak on DS9.

More to the point, a lot of the stories are really just Generic Star Trek Stories for the most part. Only in retrospect, knowing that, once the writers learned to mine the premise for its potential, soem of the more interesting moments of these stories would be come woven into the larger fabric, do these stories distinguish themselves at all.

For example, I remember the Jake/Nog scenes being pretty annoyingly bland the first time around. Knowing how their friendship would blossom and change both of them -- and their fathers -- makes those scenes watchable. But at the time, if Nog had been dropped as a character, I'm not sure I would have missed him much.
Keith DeCandido
4. krad
Quoth GeorgeSalt: "Career opportunities for spouses tend to be very limited and there may be little to do off-post, if personnel are even allowed to leave post. The frustrations that Keiko is feeling are quite believable."

They're not remotely believable coming from Keiko. First off, she is allowed to leave the post, as evidenced by "Emissary," when her absence was explained by her visiting Earth. (And just in general, folks are free to come and go as they please on DS9.) Secondly, as I said in the rewatch, she's a botanist, and there's this entire planet that's been stripmined for the past five decades and could probably use a good botanist. Even if you ignore Bajor (a neat trick on a Bajoran station in the Bajoran system), O'Brien himself says that there are ships going to the Gamma Quadrant that she could sign onto, but she fobs that off, because that would ruin the schoolmarm plot that the writers have already committed to and are sledgehammering the character into for no good reason.

Compounding this is that the writers did realize this eventually, as Keiko does go off to Bajor for a project in the third season ("The House of Quark"), which begs the question of why they couldn't have done that with her in the first place.

Sorry, I find nothing believable in the scenario whatsoever. Not with this set of characters, anyhow.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Erik Harrison
5. ErikHarrison
I remember this one mostly because it aired around my 11th birthday. On rewatch I had the mostly the same reaction as Our Humble Rewatcher. I will say Bashir's treatment of Dax doesn't bother me because of the conventions of television at the time. Your first six episodes recapitulate the relationships established in the pilot, over and over again, because someone might have missed one. It's frustrating now, but I can ignore it.

Keiko's treatment is pretty upsetting.

I will say that my favorite moment is Quark's defense of Odo. In a couple of lines (and Amin Shimerman's fabulous performance) you get this great sense of history about the station and the things that happened there. It's not a Potemkin universe. Also, its just a cool character moment generally.
Uncle Mikey
6. Alain Ducharme
I remember reading that this episode ran too long and an important subplot was cut: those Bajorans were framing Odo so that a friend of Ibudan would become the new security chief instead.
Christopher Bennett
7. ChristopherLBennett
Another in-joke in that itinerary: "Lunch meeting with Della Santina" is a reference to Robert della Santina, DS9's unit production manager.

I agree -- this episode asserts some things about cloning that should have massive ramifications, like the ease of growing a sentient adult person in a matter of days, and then totally ignores them, since it's just a setup for a "clever" resolution to a murder mystery. It's just one more Trek technology that by all rights should have a profound impact on civilization but is never heard from after its first appearance. (Although ENT: "Similitude" did something similar, while handling it in a far better way.)

Not to mention, how could Bashir not know whose DNA was in the sample until it had grown into a full adult humanoid? All you need is one cell! This would've been a better episode if they'd dropped the gimmicky clone-growing stuff and just had Bashir trying to reconstruct a degraded cell sample. It wouldn't have been as flashy, but it would've been easier to swallow.
Uncle Mikey
8. lvsxy808
Sisko at one point admits to Bashir that he doesn’t know how many hosts the Dax symbiont has had.
I always believed Sisko must have been bs'ing Bashir here, because if we (the viewer) know how many hosts Dax had, and all their names, in the right order, by less than four years in ("Rejoined"), then I find it impossible to believe that Sisko didn't also know all the hosts' names if he supposedly had such a long and close relationship with Curzon. So I think this is more of Sisko running interference on Bashir's obnoxious crush for the sake of his old friend.

On the other hand, it could tie in with the Trill culture's tendency towards secrecy and protectiveness of the symbionts. If Starfleet at large didn't know about the symbionts at the time of "The Host," then I suppose it's possible Curzon let Sisko in on the secret that he had a symbiont because they were close, but wouldn't let it go any further than that. And that by the time we get to know Jadzia, she's more open about the whole thing given that the larger cat is by now out of the bag.

Or maybe Sisko just didn't think it was his place to give away Jadzia's personal information. (Of course, we know the real reason Sisko didn't tell Bashir is simply that the writers hadn't decided yet and didn't want to pin themselves down so soon.)
Sisko’s giving Bashir permission to pursue her is noticeably absent any consideration for how she feels about it.
I have no doubt Sisko think Jadzia can handle herself and doesn't need him protecting her. It's not so much sisko "giving permission" (as if it's his to give) as just him saying, "Go ahead, knock yourself out if you think you've got a chance." Isn't it just as sexist to say that Jadzia needs Sisko's protection from Sisko, or that Sisko in fact has any say one way or the other over Jadzia's romantic life?

@ 4:
Compounding this is that the writers did realize this eventually, as Keiko does go off to Bajor for a project in the third season ("The House of Quark"), which begs the question of why they couldn't have done that with her in the first place.
Because they needed her on the station with Miles to create the nuclear-family-of-normal-people dynamic that they wanted with the O'Briens. You can't do that if one of the spouses immediately takes a far-away assignment and turns into a long-distance relationship. Yes, they did that eventually - once they'd realised they didn't really know what to do with the character, they took her off the board, and used that to explore exactly that dynamic of a long-distance relationship. But for the start of the show, they wanted a family, and that meant Keiko had to stay on the station. And that meant they had to find something for her to do. I really don't find it offensive at all.
Uncle Mikey
9. lvsxy808
@8: Damnit.

"Isn't it just as sexist to say that Jadzia needs Sisko's protection from Sisko"

is supposed to read

"Isn't it just as sexist to say that Jadzia needs Sisko's protection from Bashir."
Keith DeCandido
10. krad
lvsxy808: Bajor isn't that far away -- they go there all the time and it is, y'know, a Bajoran station -- and it's not like Keiko was going to be in every episode anyhow. Also the solution is still offensive to teachers everywhere that this botanist with absolutely no training can just jump in and be a teacher for at least three or four different cultures.

As for the Sisko-Bashir thing, it might not have bothered me if there wasn't so much other sexist twaddle in this episode, starting with Odo's absurd "compromise" tirade.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Jack Flynn
11. JackofMidworld
Bashir's awesomeness knows no bounds! Not my favorite character on the show, but he definitely does a show some growth during the series, which is always nice to see.

I have to agree that the strain of military life on a family that is, for all intents and purposes, overseas, is pretty realistic. Often the spouse doesn't speak the language or understand the customs and so has very little to do off-post but sit at home and raise the kids, especially if the military half is off doing military things. Even though I was only stationed in Germany for 2 1/2 years (single, at the time), I watched more than one marriage crack and sometimes even shatter under the strain.

It's also quite possible that the Bajorian government wanted to keep Keiko off the ground just to avoid any extra dependence on the Federation - or having to rely on anybody that wasn't Bajorian, especially so soon after the occupation had ended.

That said...yeah, growing a clone and then just shipping it off ? That's a bit of a stretch in any universe.
Uncle Mikey
12. Dirtycelt
Sisko giving permission to Bashir to continue persuing Dax.....that's just one old friend screwing with another.
George Salt
13. GeorgeSalt
@4:krad. My view is colored by my experience serving in the US military during the 1980s. A couple of points:

Bajor is not a Federation planet. There is talk of Bajor applying for Federation membership at some later time; however, it appears that there are plenty of Bajorans who are not the least bit interested in Federation membership. Bajor may need Keiko's expertise -- and maybe it doesn't as botany is a pretty broad field and we know little about Keiko's particular skill set -- however, the Bajorans may not want Keiko's help. Again, I'm going back to my experience serving at an overseas post in the US military. Relations between the US military and the host nation are governed by something called the Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. Quite often the host nation will insist that the bulk of civilian positions on post be filled with foreign nationals. That is the primary reason why employment opportunities can be very limited for the spouses of military personnel. And since Star Fleet appears to have a minimal crew on Deep Space 9, I suspect something similar is at work here. The vast majority of worker-bee positions are probably filled by Bajorans.

Unless Keiko is an interstellar-renowned expert with unique expertise and not some generic botanist, then her employment on Bajor would simply displace a native Bajoran botanist. Employing their own botanists rather than catering to the needs of some alien would be their priority.
Keith DeCandido
14. krad
GeorgeSalt: It still should've come up in conversation when she and O'Brien were on the catwalk discussing options. And then there's all the ships going to the Gamma Quadrant, which Keiko fobs off for no good reason, except some stupid comment about not wanting O'Brien's charity, a line that makes nothing like sense.

And the working-on-Bajor notion is actually used in the third season when the writers finally decided to let the character actually be the character she was instead of what they tried to shoehorn her into.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Uncle Mikey
15. Ryon
Actually I think Keiko becoming a teacher is somewhat legitimate. They had just moved to the station and they do have a very young child. Therefore, her moving to Bajor with Molly would not be good for their marriage. Bajor is not within teleporting distance, so taking a shuttle back and forth everyday would not be very practical. As for O'Brien's suggestion for her to go to the Gamma Quadrant could be his way of just trying to be nice. In truth, that is not reasonable either. They know nothing of that quadrant and it could be very dangerous for her even on a Starfleet ship. We find out later in the series, as you briefly mentioned, that her going to Bajor does strain their marriage and that the Gamma Quadrant is very dangerous. As for it being insulting to the profession of teaching, that is a stretch. We are talking about the 24th Century, so technology essentially would play the largest part. Hell, right now children are home schooled with use of the internet and still get into Ivy League Colleges. People with degrees that they cannot find work in often end up teaching those subjects. They don't often have a secondary degree in education. I agree that it is a waste for Rosalind Chao as an actor and making her character so much of a complainer is just lazy writing. However, I am happy that they brought her and Molly with the Chief. They could have easily had them get divorced and totally changed the dynamic of the character of Miles.

As for the rest of the show, I agree with you on the cloning stuff etc. This was one of DS9's poor espisodes. Luckily, even in it there are still very good moments such as the ones that you pointed out. This is almost always true of DS9. There seemed to always be a silver lining.
David Levinson
16. DemetriosX
About the only area where this episode really works is adding some detail to the relationship between Odo and Quark. A lot of the rest of it comes close, but falls short.

I think Sisko giving Bashir "permission" to pursue Dax is more a case of Sisko being just as annoyed by Bashir as everybody else and finding a bit of amusement in watching his old buddy have to deal with an overeager puppy. I suppose this also predates Worf asking Riker permission to court Troi by a couple of years. They obviously didn't learn.

I had forgotten that the cracks in the O'Brien's marriage appeared so quickly. At least it actually occurred to the writers that Keiko had a career in Starfleet and that it might mean something to her. Unfortunately, all they did was turn her slowly into the shrew from hell. Just one more thing in the litany of pain that would be the life of Miles O'Brien. Of course, there were flashes of unpleasantness in her character even on TNG; remember their first dinner together as a married couple.
Uncle Mikey
17. sypher
I think, from reading comments and rewatching the episode, that there are some interesting ideas here. The episode seems to suffer from a lack of execution and attention to smaller detail. The words scralled on Odo's wall, for instance, definitely should not have been English.

I don't mind attempting to make Keiko a school teachers. People shift to jobs they don't like or aren't qualified for all the time for relationships. However, I don't think it was handled well in the writing. Really, I think it's a result of the writers finding their footing and what the characters would accept.

So, yes, some definitely good ideas, with Dax, but poor execution, in Odo and clone.
Matt Hamilton
18. MattHamilton
I was going to bring up Similitude as well. In that episode of Enterprise, they actually discussed how this would impact the crew, Trip and just what does it mean to grow a human being (or in DS9's case, a Bajoran). There it was handled much better and was actually a pretty dark moment, especially for Archer.

@Krad, I think that they wanted her for the role of School Teacher because of what happens when Kai Winn comes to the station and there is also discussion about how a human can teach Bajoran children, which I think is a good argument to have (kinda) but it in no way needed Keiko there. Thus begins her seve year stretch of being just whiney and nagging about everything, truely a sexist characterization and, more importantly, just annoying.

My question though, is, why wasn't there a school there to begin with? I have to believe that the Bajorans would want their children educated as well and it is their station. Why hadn't they established a school there? And, for that matter, the Federation was coming. They have schools on their starships, why not a station they will be administering? When a family moves to a new neighborhood, one of the first things they do is check out the schools. Why the hell did Sisko not subspace ahead and find out what the schools were like in the Bajoran neighborhood? Jake seemed pretty intelligent but how did he get that way in the years since Jennifer's death, because it is apparent to me that his father is lacking in the education department lol. But really, I don't know why it took Keiko to make a school there.
Uncle Mikey
19. RobinM
I always thought it kind of a cop out that they made Keiko the teacher because, you know she has a kid and is a woman with no current job in her field. They could have done something at least in the realm of the sciences. She could of been in charge of hydroponics or something who knows how the station creates its air supply?
Bashir just needs to get a clue about Dax and Sisko is just having fun watching him crash and burn.
Uncle Mikey
20. Hammerlock
Yeah, this is really one of the hallmark episodes for the first 2 seasons for writing: that is, it feels like they're kicking off the new series using discarded story retreads from TNG, just changing some scenery for the DS9 setting.

There are some gems in the first few seasons, but there are a LOT of non-starter episodes.
George Salt
21. GeorgeSalt
@18:MattHamilton. I find it believable that there isn't a school on DS9. Remember that not very long ago, the station was a mining and refinery station and slave labor camp. Then the Cardassians stripped the station bare when they left. It's really a nightmare of a post. There are probably just a few families left, and they stay because they have nowhere else to go. Of course, the station will slowly recover as time passes.

Why didn't Sisko subspace ahead and find out what the schools were like? Because he's a military officer and he goes where he is assigned. His choices are accept the assignment or resign from Starfleet, and in the series premier he seriously considered resigning.

I suspect that in the 24th century one could obtain a pretty decent education by studying with the computer. AI has probably come a long way and the computer could tailor a curriculum to match each individual student. Holographic technology could provide hands-on experience.

One thing I do find a bit hard to believe is that the Ferengi do not have a structured school system and everything is taught via apprenticeship. It's hard to understand how a technologically advanced society could function like that; then again, they aren't human and we should expect alien societies to operate in ways that are strange to our eyes.
Uncle Mikey
22. Xander
All I remember about this episode is how much I enjoyed Odo's characterisation. No "we'll give you a warning", just "you have so many hours to get off my station or you'll get nicked!" I may have only been 11 at the time, but Odo became one of my favourite characters with this episode. I was young AND impressionable!

I do think Sisko was setting Bashir up for a fall with his "giving permission" - Sisko knew Dax was a strong, independent woman and that shows in his interactions with her. I suspect Sisko wouldn't have wanted to be totally dismissive of his tenacity but at the same time he would have subtly warned him. Do they not have sexual harassment lawyers in the future? I'd hope Starfleet has some kind of awareness of the issue!

As for Keiko...sigh. I have to agree: the writers clearly had no idea what to do with her. Maybe the producers and netword had decided that one single parent family was enough at any one time for one show? Who knows?
Uncle Mikey
23. Ashcom
You know, I rewatched this episode about two months ago, and while reading this rewatch I actually couldn't remember anything at all about it. Not quite literally, but I kept thinking while reading "did I actually watch this one" and it was only when I got to the part about Odo's office being besieged that I thought "okay, I do remember that part." This must make it just about the most completely unmemorable ST episode ever.
Steve Nicholson
24. SSteve
I notice Ibudan’s travel itinerary is set in Chicago. It's hard to tell from the photo, but was he using a Mac SE/30?
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: Took me a while to figure out you meant a font named Chicago. I was wondering if you thought the stardate was a ZIP code -- it's actually for Valparaiso, IN, which is about an hour's drive from Chicago. Now, there's a coincidence.

I think the Trek graphic department did use Macs, yes.
Uncle Mikey
26. Mac McEntire
I think you nailed it when you said Keiko is the "schoolmarm." As I've said in previous comments, I've notice on this rewatch just how much these early shows attempt an "Old West frontier town" vibe. Starting the school is a big part of that, bringing civilization to the lawless land, etc. So it doesn't work on a character level, but maybe on a metaphorical level? (Also, the bar going silent as Odo walks in the definitive "cowboy movie" moment, is it not?)

Did the clone have all of Ibudan’s memories? I always assumed it went on with Ibudan’s life, taking over where Ibudan left off. That, too, has unsettling possibilities, but not quite as much as creating a whole new person in a tub in the lab.

Also, is Bashir really that clueless in his pursuit of Dax, or should we go ahead and assume that he’s merely acting clueless so no one will suspect what’s later revealed about him? (This question’s going to come up anytime Bashir says/does something ridiculous, won’t it?)
Noneo Yourbusiness
27. Longtimefan
Honestly, you are all missing the solution as much as the writers had missed it.

Clone Kieko and send one down to the planet to help and keep one on the staition to teach and then have them rotate every 6 months. :)

I kid, I kid.

The more creepy option is that Bashir would clone Jadzia so that at least one version would go out with him. which mercifully he did not do.

I always thought he should have gone out with Garak. :)
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@26: There's no reason why a clone would have its progenitor's memories, any more than a child has its parents' memories. Although ENT: "Similitude" did fall back on the discredited notion of genetic memory to justify Sim having Trip's memories, so if we accept that it's true of humans in the Trek universe, it could be true of Bajorans as well.

However, the other clones we've seen in the Trek universe did not inherit their forebears' memories automatically. Shinzon didn't have Picard's memories, and the clones of Mariposa in TNG's "Up the Long Ladder" all seemed to be individuals in personality. Aside from Sim, clones only seem to bear their forebears' memories if those memories are downloaded into them through technological means, as with the Vorta or the Keniclius and Spock clones of TAS: "The Infinite Vulcan."

Since Ibudan only created his clone in order to fake his murder, I very much doubt he would've chosen to download a personality into it, even if he'd had the means. And while his cloning method had similarities to the one used to create Sim, it was clearly different in the way the clone formed and matured, so we can't assume it would've transferred memories the same way. I've always assumed the second clone was a blank slate, which makes it even more unconscionable that the episode so completely glossed over his creation and fate.

As for Bashir, just because he's a genetically augmented genius with enhanced physical and sensory abilities doesn't mean he couldn't be genuinely clueless about relationships and emotions. I mean, a large part of his cluelessness came from arrogance, the assumption that he was this great, perfect guy that everyone would naturally like and admire.
Andrew Love
29. Andy Love
As for Bashir, just because he's a genetically augmented genius with enhanced physical and sensory abilities doesn't mean he couldn't be genuinely clueless about relationships and emotions. I mean, a large part of his cluelessness came from arrogance, the assumption that he was this great, perfect guy that everyone would naturally like and admire.
The revelation that Julian was genetically augmented as a child provides another explanation for his behavior - he's not at home in his own skin, since he experienced childhood as a severely mentally handicapped person and later geniushood thrust upon him - and he is required to hide his history and nature lest he and his parents face imprisonment and discrimination. Either of those would be good enough reason for being emotionally and socially clueless.
Mike Kelmachter
30. MikeKelm
The murder mystery is a bit of a weak, as is the random hatred of Odo for being a shape shifter. It would make more sense if he was hated after the Dominion attacked, but we see no evidence of persecution after that. At this point he is just an oddity and shouldn't be something that would incite an angry mob. Then again, the Bajorans do seem to sort of flock like sheep as we'll see in later episodes, so maybe this is just their sort of mob behavior.

In regards to the Keiko/Miles/teaching issue, I get the impression that Keiko had agreed to come to DS9 with Miles because it was a great career opportunity for him (Chief of Operations on a very large space station with serious engineering challenges) and had perhaps agreed to be a stay at home mom. It was only after she got to the station that she realized how frustrating it was- after all, on board the Enterprise she had a daycare provider and now she didn't. So she saw a need (a school) and tried to fill it - not very successfully I might add. In fact, the writers seemed to drop the plot point fairly quickly in the series.

I think though that Keiko could have been used the same way as Jake was- as the outsider who is affected by things happening on the station but very rarely has any control over them. I agree with George Salt @1 that they very much ignored the temptation to make Jake something more than he was- a teenager. Keiko could have been used the same way, as a normal adult. Perhaps a better use for her could have been as something other than a teacher (perhaps a community organizer or something that would allow her to be involved in some storylines with the other characters), but that overall Jake and Keiko could have been used as the characters in Lower Decks in TNG were- people who are left out of the main plots and are just reacting to what is going on around them.
Brendan Guy
31. bguy
@14:krad: In regards to why Keiko could take a job on Bajor in the third season when she didn't here, remember that xenophobic groups like the Circle were gaining power and influence during the first season, so Bajor for the Bajorans ideology would have held a lot more sway. By the third season, the Circle had been thoroughly discredited, so it would have been a lot easier for the Bajoran government to employ a non-Bajoran. Likewise remember that Bajor was very politically unstable during the first season with lots of civil disorder, so it would have been dangerous for Keiko to go to the planet. By the third season things had calmed down considerably.
Keith DeCandido
32. krad
bguy (and GeorgeSalt): These Bajor-is-too-dangerous-and-unwelcome-to-outsiders comments are all ratonalizations after the fact to try to justify a thoughtless and stupid decision. It's fiction. You can make it work. Hell, it being dangerous and difficult would make for interesting plot points.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Chris Nash
33. CNash
I pretty much agree with all of Keith's points regarding this episode. I was bemused at the casual attitude that everyone takes regarding cloning, almost treating it as if it's something anyone can just decide to do if they fancy it, with only a throwaway line about how Ibudan studied "experimental tri-phasic cloning" or some such thing to justify it. And Sisko's blasé log entry on how the second clone (which, apparently, is grown by Bashir dunking some genetic samples in water?) went off to start a new life just isn't convincing; it's like the writers just needed to dispose of the plot device, without considering the wider implications of how cloning could affect the wider world.

The "Shifter" slur used by the crowd bothered me too. As a racial epithet, it's somewhat lacking - I don't see why Odo would be affected by it at all (and of course, he isn't affected by it anyway), as it doesn't really describe his race or species, just one of their abilities. Unless it's some kind of sign that shapeshifters in general are distrusted by other species? And I didn't catch that the graffiti in his office was inexplicably written in English!

That said, this episode does cement some of the character relationships that were developed in "Emissary" - Quark and Odo's adversarial mutual respect, Bashir's womanizing and chasing of Jadzia (plus the first real sign of his competence as a doctor), Jadzia and Sisko's personal history - and it's those scenes of character development that'll stick with me on this rewatch. Not so much the rather out-of-character "compromise" tirade delivered by Odo, which sounds like he's just acting as a mouthpiece for the opinions of the episode's writer...

@26 - regarding a clone of Jadzia who'd go out with Julian, just wait for "If Wishes Were Horses"...
Uncle Mikey
34. Erik Dercf
Ha everyone with all the sexism you all keep debating it is no wonder that they decided to run this episode 3rd. In fact I would not blame female viewers of saying the writers are sexist especially with how Kira goes over Sisko's head in the last episode. In this episode Keiko is a soy sauce for bad gender role portrays. She should be a woman and she the actor and the character didn't get a fair shake. Dax on the other hand is passive eye candy. And what Odo says of coupling is odious. It is a wonder to me that an educated producer didn't just toss this episode out as a bad idea on several levels. But it is more likely that they were taught but teachers like Keiko. People who step into a situation and see nothing is being done and then step up and get the job done as best they can. I can't fault that about anyone real or fictional. Yes this was a poor episode well deserving of its rating and it should have been skipped all together.
A plot that would have been interesting would have been an attempted sexual assult by a Bajoran on Dax or Federation female officer in which Kira agrues in Dax's or the Federation officers defense against her own people to show Kira's strength and common ground beliefs with the Federation. Episodes 2 and 3 tear down women and reduce them, but episode 3 is the more grevious example. Cheers all.
Christopher Bennett
35. ChristopherLBennett
@30: I think the Bajorans' mistrust and anger toward Odo had more to do with him having worked for the Cardassians. Any resentment of his shapeshifter nature would be because he was another alien working alongside the aliens who conquered and enslaved them, and just the general us-vs.-them mentality that comes with fear and hate.
Uncle Mikey
36. Zabeus
@16
"Just one more thing in the litany of pain that would be the life of Miles O'Brien." Indeed! :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvAO99RVkkU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNyut2fgf5w

(/possible spoilers)
Uncle Mikey
37. NiktheHeratik
I agree with the other posters that there could have been legitimate in-world reasons for her to have stayed on the station, and in the hands of a good writer they could have still done something interesting with the character. The fact that this wasn't even considered as an option and that she was pushed into school-marm is an example of lazy writing at the least if not also sexism.

I also think we've probably given this more thought in this single thread than the writing team gave during he first couple of seasons...
Uncle Mikey
38. TBGH
Most of the territory in the Keiko discussion had already been covered before I logged on, but I just feel like mentioning that her decision always seemed like the obvious one to me. Of course she's not going to leave the station for a job when she just traveled all the way there to be with her husband and child. And it is entirely believable that she would try her hand at teaching.

After retiring from being an air traffic controller, my dad tried his hand at teaching high school math for a year mainly because he was bored. His degree was in mathematics. Fortunately for his sanity he moved to teaching air traffic control at the junior college after that.

I worked for about a year at a tutoring service with a lot of full time teachers (I was the SAT guy), and apparently you would be shocked how many of them had advanced degrees and tried careers in other subjects before teaching. That's not to say teaching is something any smart person could pick up, but it's very common for frustrated or bored professionals in other fields to try it.
Uncle Mikey
39. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I thought the Keiko as teacher/whining wife persona was done for purely comedic effect. I remember seeing her back in the day complaining about almost everything on the station, and it was funny seeing O'Brien come home after a difficult shift only to have to listen to her. You could see the frustration building in Colm Meaney's face and it created the effect like he was the kid in a comic strip who had a thunder cloud pouring onto only him wherever he went.

Keiko was clearly not happy about having to move to DS9, so putting her into a role she was not prepared for only served to make her more of a whiner and cause more frustration for O'Brien.

I thought her constant indignation was supposed to make her a humourous character.

Also, I agree with the poster that Garak and Bashir would have made a great couple on this show. Garak was extremely slick and clever and Bashir was booksmart, but overly trusting and poor at understanding other people. It would have made some highly entertaining scenes, but it would never have been tolerated on TV in the early 1990s.
Keith DeCandido
40. krad
Eric Dercf: Except of course the episode was written by the show's co-creator, executive producer, and show-runner Michael Piller.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Michael Burstein
41. mabfan
"It’s insulting to the character, it’s insulting to Rosalind Chao (an excellent actor who deserves better than to have 90% of her dialogue be complaining), and it’s insulting to the profession of teaching, as the script assumes that anyone can teach if they just have a room to do it in. After all, she’s a woman, and women teach, right?"

This.

Others have talked about this, but as a teacher myself when DS9 was airing, I hated this development. Keiko has no background in teaching; why do they assume she can just jump in and do it? What she can do, and what she should be doing, is exactly what you suggest.

-- Michael A. Burstein
Uncle Mikey
42. Erik Dercf
It was co wrote but the question that would be of great interest to me is why Mr. Piller decided to make this episode 3rd after it was shot 2nd? Was it simply to use footage from a previous episode that was cut or did he see the weaknesses in the characters he was creating around Sisko who was central to estabish as in control of the frontier town he was becoming a sherif of? I would have rather he killed his angel and started over. As has been stated before an episode of Enterprize deals with subject central to the plot of this episode much better. As a part of a whole what does this episode say and do and does it say it well. The rating says it all.
Joseph Newton
43. crzydroid
Wow. My two-year-old was getting more interested in doing other things than tolerating Mommy and Daddy watching DS9 by the end of watching this, so I missed the line about sending the clone on its merry way. That totally bothers me too. If he didn't have Ibudan's memories, how was he able to speak and function in a way that they could send him out on his own? If he was a blank slate, he'd be more of a vegetable or at least an infant. I also missed part of the Sisko-Bashir conversation, so I can't comment on that.

Otherwise, I thought this episode was immensly more interesting than "Past Prologue." That was the episode that I felt "hit all the tired beats." I thought the hatred of Odo in this one was very Star Trek. I also think it would've made more sense to view this one second, given some of the character exposition.

I loved Odo's line that "killing your own clone is still murder!" because this brings to light the issue that was so grossly overlooked in "Up the Long Ladder." Riker just cold-heartedly murders his clone and nothing is even mentioned about it? Pulaski, the doctor, not only doesn't say anything, but actively goes along with it.

The teacher debate is interesting. On the one hand, while it might be insulting to teachers, the reverse could be insulting to botanists. I think it probably depends on the individual. While certainly in general teaching could benefit from specialized training, I suspect that there are many botanist PhDs out there who would make much better teachers than many Education majors.

@33: "The "Shifter" slur used by the crowd bothered me too. As a racial epithet, it's somewhat lacking - I don't see why Odo would be affected by it at all (and of course, he isn't affected by it anyway), as it doesn't really describe his race or species, just one of their abilities. Unless it's some kind of sign that shapeshifters in general are distrusted by other species?"
How is this different from any other form of racism? People are ostracized because of the color of their skin--why should calling someone what they are bother them? Except for the fact that the insults are said in a way where the meaning is obvious that people who look like that are villified by the name-caller. Here, the intent of the mob is to villify shapeshifters--the meaning is clear, even if you shouldn't be ashamed of that ability in general.
Alan Courchene
44. Majicou
@24: I was going to say that of course Ibudan's calendar is in English; he was using a Mac, and it didn't have a Bajoran font. And I, too, when rewatching this episode, said "Hey, Chicacgo!"

@25: And yes, Michael Okuda is a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user.

@43: Funny how the mob's "shifter" insult here is mirrored by the Founders' own insulting term "solids." Of course, this angry mob is just a bunch of half-assed amateurs when it comes to racism--the Founders are professionals.
Jordan DeLange
45. killtacular
Agree with just about everything except for two nitpicks.

So, for the "shifter" insult, and @33 and @44

I don't get why this is lacking. It seems like most racial epithets get their impact because of the mere fact that they are used by a group (usually a powerful one) against another group (usually a powerless one). Virtually any term would "utterly fail" as a racial slur devoid of this context of its use and/or history. Its obviously a little weird here because Odo's the only shapeshifter they really know*. But still: if there was a history of the Bajoran's using the term against Odo when he was the security chief for the Cardassians (which we can stipulate, no?), then shifter "works" as well as anything else would as a racial slur.

Second nitpick: If the head of a security organization is himself under investigation, I would think it makes a ton of sense to have as much of an outside investigation as possible, rather than leaving it up to the suspected person's second in command. Kira is the closest competent option that fits that bill, while Dax is the person who has Sisko's trust.

In other words: definitely makes sense to have an outside investigation, and if you are doing that, the two people Sisko picked seem like the two best choices.

*I think, I'm a little hazy on DS9, as I haven't watched in in ages, but since I have it all on huluplus, I'm going to watch it again along with the rewatch.
Uncle Mikey
46. Athersgeo
Ugh.

The only justification I can think of for making Kaiko the teacher was the writers were hoping that by keeping her on the station she'd appear more regularly than if she were off on Bajor or in the Gamma Quadrent.

As for the rest... I think the fact that this is one of the episodes that I routinely skip when rewatching speaks for itself. A terrible episode.
Uncle Mikey
47. Gilbetron
Hmmm. I didn't really see all the Keiko-teacher hate coming. Maybe I've been living under a rock, but I'm a huge fan of DS9 and this never occurred to me, nor has it ever come up in my many other conversations with Star Trek fans.

My two cents is that krad et al. are taking this a tad far. The problem with a certain vain of feminism is that suddenly all women are expected to make the same choices. Hey guys, remember that bit about infinite diversity? Great.

I don't see what's so strange about Keiko trying her hand at teaching. It isn't wildly out of character, nor do I think it's demeaning to Keiko. Star Trek is full of women who choose to pursue professions over having families, and here we have one example of a character who makes the opposite choice. Here and around the world, parents take on the personal responsibility of educating their children *all the time.* And it's not like she's throwing her career away, because we get plenty of evidence as the show goes on that Keiko continues in her field -- just not full-time.

And as for training, having a degree helps in any occupation, true, but the Western world notion that you must have a degree to excel in a given field is total hogwash. Even putting that aside, the show also depicts Keiko's frustrations with teaching as the years progress, so it's not like we are given to believe the endeavour is all puppy dogs and rainbows for her.

The station probably really did need someone to take on the job of starting a small school, since it's reasonable that one didn't exist until this point. Keiko was a parent with a child, so she had a direct motivation to want the school to be a good one. So, as an intelligent and enterprising woman with some time on her hands, she volunteered to DO the job instead of waiting around for someone else to step into the role. Why exactly is that a bad thing?

Was it the ideal role for Keiko? No. But it was the role that needed to be filled, so she adapted to her situation in the best way possible.
David Levinson
48. DemetriosX
Re Jake: Not only did they not make him a wunderkind and supergenius, he wasn't perfect in a lot of ways. He gets into trouble, like we see here (although Nog usually gets the blame as the instigator), he doesn't always listen to his father and do as he's told. He's a normal kid. That said, I was never really sold on Jake Sisko, Great Writer, in the later seasons.

Something else has occurred to me that they could have done with Keiko. Her specialty is botany, but that means she also has a solid grounding in general biology and probably a fair bit of xenobiology as well. It would have been easy and highly plausible for her to start working with Bashir in some fashion, maybe a lab assistant and then a nurse, finally being inspired to get her MD. It would have added an interesting dynamic to the friendship between Bashir and O'Brien and given us someone other than Dax who occasionally has an opportunity to take Julian down a peg or two.
Matt Hamilton
49. MattHamilton
@GeorgeSalt I still don't buy that. I know thinking in human terms can get one in trouble but, hell, the show does it (everybody is humanoid {mostly}, they mostly require relationships and can even have children together), but education would be a requirement of everyone for their children. IT is shown that way with the Bajoran kids, with Jake and even Nog to an extent. I would buy that the station was all messed up if it was still all messed up. I mean, it was still an Engineering nightmare, however, everyone else on the station had pretty much started getting on with their lives getting used to the Federation and all. I just don't think that nobody else said, hey, don't you think we need some sort of a school? It had to be Keiko? I don't think so. The station was getting along and they should have been worrying about that. AI, I'm sure had come a long way, but they would have understood the need for social interaction, especially when it's not just a planet you have to worry about but an entire galaxy of species that one must learn to deal with and socially interact with. Plus, with Sisko, I don't mean that he would have had a choice in the matte other tha go or resign, but you still would find out about the school situation. Every other place he would have been assigned, whether it be a ship or a planetside colony, would have had an educational system in place so he, the man about to take control of the station, should have been thinking about this problem and getting it set up. He's the commander of the station, don't you think he shouldhave thought aout this aspect of his control? :)
Christopher Bennett
50. ChristopherLBennett
@42: There are various reasons why episodes are shown out of order; an episode may be delayed in post-production, or it may be decided that a later episode is stronger and a better choice to lead with. Given that "Past Prologue" is generally seen as a better episode than "A Man Alone," it may have been deemed a better choice for the first hourlong episode. Although we don't know whether that decision was made by Piller, Rick Berman, the syndicator, or someone else.

And you can't just "kill" an episode and start over. For one thing, they cost millions of dollars to make. For another, a TV season is shot on a very tight schedule. You don't have the luxury of dragging everything to a halt and regrouping. Whatever fixes you can make have to be done on the fly, and you have to settle for whatever you can achieve within the available time and budget. After all, they had to worry about 20 episodes, not just one. They could only do so much to fix a single episode before they had to shift their focus to the next episode, and the next, and the next. Stopping everything to redo just one episode wouldn't have worked -- it's like slamming on a car's brakes in the middle of a busy freeway. It's going to have a harmful effect on a lot more cars lined up behind it.

@43: The difference was that in "Up the Long Ladder," the clones were only partially gestated, not yet developed. It was like aborting an early-term embryo. There are some who would consider that murder, but that's more a philosophical belief than a scientific, medical, or legal consensus.

@48: I don't recall them ever portraying Jake as a "Great Writer." He was more a struggling writer, one with potential that was still nascent.
Uncle Mikey
51. TBGH
@49
Look at the number of kids she has even in later seasons. This is a former industrial/military site with barely any families transitioning between two stable (but foreign) governments and one provisional government. There are VERY few kids at this point in the series and (in the original planned order) just last episode it was switching hands between governments again. Probably the Cardassians considered it a hazardous posting and families were not permitted, so no school.

As for Sisco or the Federation brass anticipating the problem, is it really so hard to imagine a bureaucracy or an individual commander not anticipating every problem in such a unique posting? Can you even imagine all the problems that would arise if a couple dozen American officers and enlisted were sent to take command of a 3rd world military base still using mostly local soldiers that had been wrecked by some other occupying country? Now imagine that the base is not easily accessible to any local population centers. Probably they wouldn't even be allowed to bring their families to such a posting, but assuming they were, the local commander would have to solve a lot of resulting logistical problems like perhaps schooling that those in DC just didn't think of.
Matt Hamilton
52. MattHamilton
No, you're right. And, once again, it's more or less me just nitpicking at something. But the analogy of American officers and enlisted taking command of a third world military base doesn't really fly since we don't take families to that sort of thing. The Federation does, so there should have been some sort of system at least going to to be implimented in the long run at least, just not by Keiko. But, no, there really wouldn't be at first, I just have a hard time with her being the first one to bring it up
Rob Rater
53. Quasarmodo
So I was a huge TNG fan, and I was excited as the next person about a new Trek show, but I got bored pretty fast with DS9, especially with eps like this. The Dr was immensely annoying, Dax just kind of sat around, Quark never shut up about the gold laced latinum (I hoped in vain they'd find some way to streamline the name of that currency). And there was little to no actual action on the show. Usually something like that doesn't stand out to me, but for this show it did. I would tell people the show actually had anti-action. That by watching the show, it would drain action out of you. I stuck it out for a few more eps, but I figured why should I watch this when I TNG, the Trek I was actually interested in, was still on every week.
George Salt
54. GeorgeSalt
@49 MatHamilton: Matt, you make some good points. I think the situation is analogous to life on remote farms and settlements in the American West and Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries. It wasn't unusual for children who lived in areas where there weren't enough children to support a viable school to study via correspondence. In Australia, they created something called the "School of the Air" that broadcast school lessons by radio to children living in remote areas. The current online education craze is simply the application of modern technology to an old model.

I agree that there is an important social and communal aspect to education and even with 24th century technology schools as institutions would persist.

Sisko probably had the option of completing what's called an unaccompanied tour. He could have left Jake with Jake's grandfather but I suppose he opted not to do that for personal reasons. The same goes for the O'Briens -- Miles probably could have elected to serve his tour alone; however, long periods of separation can also wreak havoc on a marriage. Military families face challenges and hard choices that many in civilian life simply do not understand. This episode is one of the very few that even tries to address the issue and that's why I like it.
Matt Hamilton
55. MattHamilton
That's a sticky situation to me, having families on board their starships and such. Because you're most certainly right. Serving long tours overseas is hard on spouses and children, and that's just overseas. What about, I guess, Over Stars? But the dangers that, especially ships and the Station as we'll see in later seasons, face, why would you have your children there with you? There are arguments to be made for both I suppose. I sort of fall in the middle on that.
Uncle Mikey
56. DougL
I think Mrs. O'Brien gets a more suitable job in later seasons, which means less screen time for the actress of course, and the ability for O'Brien and Bashir to complain about her on Bajoor and to go all bachelor in their pursuit of fun.
Uncle Mikey
57. Happytoscrap
I didn't hate this episode nearly as much as KRAD.

I liked the development of Odo as an outsider. It also highlighted Bashir and Sisko's compassion the way the reacted to Odo being shunned by the barflies. Nog is one of my favorite characters of DS9 and while this is far from one of his more memorable performances, it is the episode that introduces him. I like the Jake-Nog dynamic. They are much less annoying than Westley Crusher and the human-ferrengi friendship is awesome. It reminds me somewhat of having a Mormon best friend growing up and being Catholic. Our parents both told us we'd part ways someday....but we never listened. 25 years later, turns out our parents were right.

I didn't mind Keiko becoming a teacher either. I don't get where the assertion that her gender had any role in that assignment came from. She was in charge of the arboretum on the Enterprise....certainly she must have had advanced degrees to accomplish that....education major is a joke anyway. To teach a bunch of 10 year olds things like math and history, you need to have a 12 year old education combined with the ability to reach people. I see no reason Keiko wouldn't be a great fit here. And Miles did mention that she'd get to be one of the first to explore the flora and fauna of the Gamma Quadrant.

I don't recall that being furthered in later seasons...maybe it was.

Not an episode to write home about....but enough development that it was a solid season 1 episode.
Christopher Bennett
58. ChristopherLBennett
@57: We saw in TNG: "When the Bough Breaks" that 24th-century elementary-school students learn calculus. Evidently the educational standards of that century are somewhat higher than those of present-day America (heck, the majority of the world today has higher educational standards than America), so teachers probably need more qualifications.
Nick Hlavacek
59. Nick31
I mostly agree with krad on this one. By far one of the weakest DS9 episodes (but still not rock bottom). As far as the teacher debate goes I have mixed feelings. First, I'm not a teacher myself but I do have a lot of connections to teaching. My mom and both her parents were teachers & school administrators and I'm married to a second grade teacher. Teaching elementary school isn't like teaching a specific subject in high school or college. There it's all about knowledge of the subject matter. Hopefully by that point the students have grasped what kids really get from elementary school: how to learn. That's what (along with general knowledge over a wide variety of subjects) good elementary school teachers teach. Just because Keiko is a talented and highly trained botanist doesn't mean she has the ability to teach young children. Then again, she might. Some people are naturally good teachers, but it's not just something "anyone" can do. The writers failed in not addressing this at all. Just a throwaway line that Keiko had some training in teaching back in college might have been enough.
Joseph Newton
60. crzydroid
@55: I think the children thing, at least on TNG, suffers from a mixing of ideals and a television medium. I think the notion, especially in season 1 TNG, was, "Look how great the future is, we can have our kids on the Enterprise!" Then the writers decided that the ship never getting attacked was boring, so of course it was always going into battle because that's more exciting to watch. I suppose something similar could have been said of DS9. There were kids because it was good drama to see the father-son dynamic. But then the station was always getting attacked or having murderers pass through because that's more exciting action.

@58: But wouldn't the would-be teachers like Keiko have learned calculus in elementary school too?
treebee72 _
61. treebee72
There is a big difference between learning and/or knowing something & teaching it. I was really good at math in school & sometimes teachers would try to have me tutor other students. I was THE WORST! I understood it, but could never break it down to simple steps & explain it.
Uncle Mikey
62. Zabeus
@61
Yep some people suck at teaching. That includes many professional teachers even though they should know pedagogical methods.
I guess they were hoping Keiko wasn't one of those people. (or it didn't matter since it was obviously just busywork)
Uncle Mikey
63. Heather D
As one of those homeschooler types, I could go on at length about the difference between having teacher training and being a good teacher, what portion of ''teacher training' is more about 'crowd control' and 'administration' rather than about pedagogy, etc etc, and how most of the trained skills of the professional teacher don't apply to one-on-one or small group teaching situations. Or I could point out how university professors are routinely hired based on their knowledge and experience in their field, and their teaching experience and training is pretty irrelevant. Or how trained elementary teachers are frequently called on to teach subjects they're completely unqualified in (for example, my sister-in-law is a teacher who complains about this all the time, about how they keep forcing her to teach areas she really doesn't know anything about instead of her specializations) -- they still often manage well enough, just by following the prescribed curriculum (which has the answers in the back). In other words, the question of expertise in an area vs pedagogical training and/or teaching skill is already utterly contradictory in our own time and culture.

But I won't. (Or maybe I already did). This is the 24th century, after all. Jake was clearly being well-educated via computer - this was explicitly stated in the episode. The problem was never that the kids weren't getting an education, it was just that they had nothing to do, no structured activities or ways for them to meet each other, and the Promenade could be too dangerous a place for kids to wander freely like they could on the Enterprise, or in their home neighbourhood, whatever.

So IMO this 'school' could just as easily have been a "youth centre" with games, projects, activities, field trips, and learning experiences specific to the cultural diaspora they found themselves in that might not come up in the standard Starfleet computer courses.

And, being the 24th century where people could get good education off a computer... let's just presume that Keiko could just as easily take some computer courses on teaching. Voila, problem solved. I don't think there's any indication that she immediately excelled at it, either. She was nervous and unsure, but wanted to give it an honest try. Many people *are* natural teachers -- in the sense of being able to pass information on to another person in a way that resonates with them and make sense, not in terms of 'managing a classroom' or 'developing assessment rubrics'. But I don't think we're expected to believe that Keiko just was perfect off the bat. I think she doggy paddled and floundered and experimented and gradually got better at it, but she was not a 'wunderkind' at it... she was just, well, better than nothing. She was willing and eager, and that can go a long way.

And she had a computer to help her.

Anyway, what I found most interesting about this episode were:

1. The site where I'm watching this lists it as the second episode, but calls it Past Prologue. Very confusing.

2. Rom's change of voice and demeanor was startling.

3. Odo's change of voice was also noticeable. He was very clear-voiced in most of his monologuing, only getting the gravelly tone when laughing or grunting. It was weird.

4. Molly was too young for school. So it looks like in the next few centuries, we get over the mistaken premise that the way to fix poor education outcomes is to stick them into the same system that's producing the poor outcomes, but sooner, so they're in it for longer. Rather than try to fix the system. Ignoring the fact that systems which delay formal academics until age 7 or so have better literacy results, lower student burnout rates, etc etc.

5. Molly was not a great actor -- not surprising given the age -- but GOLLY GEE is she ever cute!!!
Joseph Newton
64. crzydroid
@63: I think that's very well-reasoned about the youth center. After all, the kids were shown to be different ages, so it was more like a one-room schoolhouse model otherwise. We could probably presume that most of the learning takes place on the computer, and the school is there to provide structure.

I was also startled by Rom being totally different! It seems as though even the makeup is different...if they hadn't attached the name to him, I don't think I would've recognized him as supposing to be Rom.
Uncle Mikey
65. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
Heather brought up a great point that I failed to consider myself:

HOMESCHOOLING!

There are homeschooled children in America who are educated by parents with no formal university education and the education they receive has to match certain standards provided by the state.

Perhaps that's what Keiko's role was modelled after.
Keith DeCandido
66. krad
Just FYI, due to deadlines and other craziness, there will be no DS9 Rewatch on Friday. We'll be back on Tuesday with "Babel."

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
K R
67. soupytwist
The youth centre thing also to me explained Nog and Jake's immediate friendship - they literally have no other people their age to talk to! So I always bought that right off.

The Keiko thing to me is always one which easily *could* be explained, it's just annoying that they didn't in canon! Maybe they just assumed people at home would provide the handwavium.

I remember really liking 'Babel', so I hope it holds up...
Christopher Bennett
68. ChristopherLBennett
@65: I was going to mention that I had a friend who homeschooled her kids, but then I remembered that she'd been an education major in college.
Uncle Mikey
69. McKay B
@63: Exactly, as far as the school thing goes. I'm in a physics program at a university, and clearly a lot of the professors here have NO teaching abilities worth speaking of. They just get shoved into a teaching role anyway, because they're smart scientists and someone needs to do it. Evidently this particular issue hasn't been fixed in the 24th century. Fortunately, I think Keiko figured it out better than some of my professors (probably because she cares more). It didn't really bother me that they didn't explicitly spell out that she didn't want to move to Bajor (a separation was clearly being considered in the subtext, but both were afraid of what that would do to their marriage) or -- possibly even worse -- adopt a daily four-hour commute.

@8: Exactly, it's not sexist at all for Sisko to say "knock yourself out" to Bashir; it would be sexist for him to tell Bashir NOT to keep offering himself to Jadzia because he doesn't think Jadzia can handle it.

There are lots of things that are dumb about this episode, sure. The view we get of Rom is pretty horrid in hindsight -- although I've kinda tried to mentally justify that with thoughts that Rom was trying to be extra-tough and racist against humans during this early period, just to try to make himself seem macho and independent to Quark and other Promenade shopkeepers.

I do love Quark's defense of Odo though. The first of many truly great moments in these two characters' relationship.
Rob Rater
70. Quasarmodo
The written in English thing seems to be a fairly common flub in SciFi. They work out how everyone speaking different languages can talk to each other (universal translator, translator microbes, etc.), then forget that reading is a whole 'nother world than hearing. Until someone on one of these shows invents the translating contact lenses, then we all just assume that everyone's always wearing them.
Keith DeCandido
71. krad
Quasarmodo: DS9 would do better with this. For example, in "Necessary Evil," the list of names that Quark retrieves on behalf of Ms. Vaatrik is very obviously in a foreign language.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
72. Lisamarie
There have been some pretty interesting discussions about teaching and education here. I have many friends who homeschool their children (and those children seem to be doing quite well) so it does seem to me that 'formal' training in what we consider teaching is not a requirement. I still did think it was kind of odd for Keiko to just take up that role. I don't think I'd make a good homeschooler, and I don't think I'd make a good teacher either (and I think the homeschooling skillset is a bit different than the typical teacher skillset). I was probably an average TA when I was a grad school. I know a lot of stuff but I'm not so great at disseminating to others who don't immediately understand it.

That said, there's no reason to think Keiko wouldn't be a natural at it either, or that she just isn't one of those people who sees a need and tries to fill it the best she can, by being resourceful and intelligent. Actually, I always think of our good friend who is a botanist (he just got his PhD) and actually quite enjoys teaching and is now working for the university in a completely un-botany related role whenever I see Keiko :) But I agree it is a little lazy bit of writing for the character and perhaps they were, even if unconsciously, projecting gender based assumptions onto her. I think it is perfectly reasonable for her to not want to go to Bajor or though the wormhole, though - she's got a family, and she probably wants to be around them as much as possible. My job has a travel component and some people really enjoy that part but I always do the minimum requirement for my role since I just don't care for it, even though I would have enjoyed it before I had a family.

As for the episode, I didn't think it was horrible. Not as good as Past Prologue, but I didn't think it was as bad as krad did. I was pretty interested in the murder mystery part and just watching the characters interact on screen.
Christopher Bennett
73. ChristopherLBennett
I don't think there was necessarily a gender bias. I think it was just about using two problems to solve each other. One, they were bringing Keiko over from TNG, but they didn't have any story opportunities for a botanist, so they needed to find something else to do with her. Two, they had Jake and Nog in the cast and needed to find something to do with them, and school stories would be a natural, creating a need for someone to play teacher. And TV shows need to be economical and not hire more actors than they need to. So they had a character in need of a role and a role in need of a character -- and that leads to an obvious solution.

We saw this throughout the series: existing characters being plugged into roles that might've made more sense to be given to a new character. Like having the Defiant crewed by the same main characters who crewed the station, even characters like Kira and Odo who didn't make sense in that context. Or having Rom and Nog assume key engineering duties in later seasons even though there should've been more experienced and higher-ranking personnel to do those jobs. (See also Voyager making Tom Paris an occasional nurse.) These weren't logically the best characters for these roles, but from a budgetary and dramatic standpoint it was preferable to use them anyway rather than creating new speaking parts.
Rowan Blaze
74. rowanblaze
A few points—one "in-universe," but the rest because it's TV:
@55 re: Children and the dangers of deep space travel. I read somewhere that aprently humans in the 24th centruty and Starfleet personnel inparticular are not as risk averse as we are in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And don't forget that that is a fairly new western phenomenon, anyway. Children have been employed in some fairly dangerous lines of work throughout human history. And our age definition of "child" has risen significantly, as well.

@63, et al RE: Keiko teaching. The "youth center" is an interesting explanation of Keiko's school. As CLB pointed out, this is an economy of the fact that we're watching a TV show with a budget, and a premise. If TOS and TNG were "Wagon Train to the Stars," Ds9 is "Gunsmoke, IN SPACE!" (not my idea). There's a one-room schoolhouse, because that's a trope of frontier towns in Westerns. Keiko was just a convenient character to make the schoolmarm, sad as it seems to be for her character.

@70 et al, RE: Written English IN SPACE! This is a TV show originally written for American viewers. The cardinal rule of "Show, Don't Tell." trumps the rule of Alien Language Accuracy. If the graffiti had been written in "Bajoran," some character would have needed to explain verbally what it said. Remember the MST3K Mantra: "It's just a show; I should really just relax."

As I said, @73 CLB is right. They had to produce the show on a budget, so characters often did double or triple duty when that makes no sense from an in-universe perpective. By the same token, with a ship of 1000 people, why was it that bridge officers were always on the away teams, much less the Captain? Ship captains don't establish beachheads. They have specialized crew members for that. But you see the same Bridge Officers doing all sorts of things all the time on Star Trek, as if the rest of the crew is incompetent, or just along for the ride.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
75. Lisamarie
Oh yeah, I wanted to add that I always assumed 'Shifter' was written in Bajoran 'in real life', it was just being translated for our benefit as viewers.

Kind of like how it turns out in Lord of the Rings, the whole thing was in a different language, and Merry and Pippin and Frodo aren't even their real names, just translations, heh.
Christopher Bennett
76. ChristopherLBennett
@74: DS9 was more directly inspired by The Rifleman (a Western about a widowed father raising his son on the frontier) than Gunsmoke.

And if the grafitti had been in Bajoran, they could've just added a subtitle. Heck, the new show Defiance plays whole scenes in alien language with subtitles.
Rowan Blaze
77. rowanblaze
@76. I think the American tolerance for subtitles—or at least Hollywood's perseption of said tolerance—has increased substantially in the last couple of decades.

My point with mentioning Gunsmoke being that DS9 is as much a harking back to TV Western frontier towns as it is about telling any true Sci-Fi.
Keith DeCandido
78. krad
Sorry folks, but deadlines are eating me alive. "Babel" will be up tomorrow....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Dante Hopkins
79. DanteHopkins
I agree that this was not the best episode, but I didn't hate it either. Watching it in hindsight, especially all that came further on in this series, makes this one easier to watch. However, I disagree with a few things you've said, Keith (shocking) and totally agree with what GeorgeSalt and others have said.

First off, Keiko's complaining was totally understandable and believable, given she'd just been transferred off the luxury liner Enterprise-D onto a old Cardassian space station falling apart at the seams. There was literally nothing for her to do, and as GeorgeSalt and others pointed out, Bajor would likely not welcome Keiko or other aliens after they had just been liberated from the Cardassians. Protect the Bajoran system, administrate the space station, sure, but going to the surface and start poking around would likely stir resentment in the Bajorans on the surface, especially if they think, "Oh great, now the Federation will come in and tell us what to do on our own planet!" Sisko had to even convince Kira this would not be the case.

You complain when women simply function as wives, and yet you complain here when a wife actually tries to find something to do other than be a wife and mother. Which is it?!!

As a married person, I found Odo's "tirade" as you call it to be spot-on :)

As for Keiko becoming the teacher, I didn't find that sexist at all. It was finding a spot of normalcy on the station, and as others have said, giving the kids boundaries and structure, and for the Federation children, something familiar, which for both students and teacher, was I'm sure comforting for all involved. It was a way for Keiko to begin to find her footing on Ds9. I found this aspect, as well as the various relationship developments (Sisko-Dax, Quark-Odo, Jake-Nog) more compelling than the murder mystery. I'd rate the episode overall a sold 5.
Uncle Mikey
80. Data Logan
Early episode references to Ben Sisko's dad all seem to be in the past tense and imply that he's dead. I've very glad they later on retconned this idea so that we could meet "Grandpa Joe" Sisko.

I do like all the great scenes between Odo and Quark. And it's great that even in these early episodes it was already pretty established. Along with the references of a history between the characters.
Uncle Mikey
81. USER
Kewl beans, but there's a glaring TYPO in this review. Rosalind Chao is most assuredly NOT an excellent actress. FunFact: Reviewer KRAD is charter detective of The Sexism Police. Rave on.

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