“Never trust anyone who places your prosperity above their own.”
-- Grand Nagus Zek
The Ferengi were originally intended as TNG’s Klingons, the shadowy foil to the shiny, happy Federation. Introduced with some fanfare in “The Last Outpost,” the cannibalistic monsters of that episode, with their energy whips and Worf-beating prowess, are scarcely recognizable as the cheerfully greedy space capitalists that we know and presumably love. The Ferengi never worked as a convincing other (even their name, derived from the Arabic faranji, or “foreigner,” states this purpose for the race), but they do function as a fascinating and often hilarious counterpoint to Starfleet. They’re basically a bunch of hard-charging capitalist hustlers from the go-go ‘80s trying to exist in the middle of a post-scarcity utopian economy. The stories practically write themselves.
“No favorite of mine!”
-- Avery Brooks on this episode
The most bracing thing about the Trek universe is how different the basic pitches for each show are. TOS is about one tiny ship exploring a huge and terrifying galaxy. TNG is about the flagship of a mighty utopia, juggling exploration and diplomacy with aplomb. DS9 was a highly serialized space opera, dealing with the dark side of utopia. Voyager was a lost vessel, a survival adventure against the backdrop of unexplored space. Yet, for the first season, every Star Trek show thinks it’s the one before it. Voyager featured a mutiny, some imported villains from DS9, and the kind of skullduggery that a lost ship really can’t afford. TNG had cheeseball sets, unconvincing bad guys, and scripts that seemed to date from the ‘60s. It’s not just that the first season thinks it’s the show previous, it’s that it thinks it’s only the bad parts of that show. This brings me to “Move Along Home,” this week’s episode of DS9, which really feels like a bad TNG episode.
“Fate has granted me a gift, Major. A gift to be a healer.”
--Dr. Julian Bashir
It’s tough to know what to make of DS9’s resident medical officer on first blush. He’s naïve, arrogant, and oblivious to all but the most blatant social cues. He’s eager for challenges, but doesn’t yet know what those challenges mean. He embodies the can-do, starry-eyed, boyish sense of adventure that the British Empire always imagined it had. He is a pretty bold creation by the writing staff, if they intended him as I believe they did: a character as intentionally obnoxious as possible, that they might eventually redeem somehow. Bashir’s character becomes even more fascinating in retrospect, as a later revelation places his early overweening arrogance in a much darker context.
“I’m telling you, I knew the man!”
“But, did you know the symbiont inside the man?”
-- Commander Sisko and Constable Odo
On my first trip through DS9, I always dreaded Dax episodes. Not because they were bad, but because they meant that this week I wasn’t getting a Kira episode, or an Odo episode, or the black tar heroin of episodes, a Garak episode. On this trip through the show, I’m hoping to analyze exactly why Dax episodes don’t quite work as well as others. Your mileage may vary, of course. It’s possible Dax is your favorite character, and, in that case, don’t let me curb your enjoyment. On the surface, I get the appeal. Dax is a classic, strong woman archetype. She’s tough, she’s smart, and uniquely for that niche, she’s wise. Unlike many later heroines, Dax is refreshingly sex-positive, and the show never wags its finger or clucks its tongue at her for it. And, because I would be remiss if I didn’t point it out, she’s played by the ridiculously gorgeous Terry Farrell.
Everyone saves the world just a little bit, every day. You may not be physically saving the planet from a mischievous, demigod half-brother (or maybe you are. Hey, I don’t know your schedule.), but I truly believe we just don’t know the far-reaching effects of even the smallest of our noble actions. Why else would the demigods and superheroes deem us so worthy of saving?
So, why not eat like the superheroes we are, huh? And, I’m sure we could all use some shawarma after a long day of screenwriting panels or cosplay.
I have always had a fondness for Iron Fist, as he was one of my brother's favorite superheroes when we were growing up. I was somewhat excited when Marvel Comics announced that an Iron Fist monthly would be part of their new Marvel NOW! revamp or relaunch or whatever you want to call it, but not nearly as excited as I was that one of my favorite artists, Kaare Andrews, would be both writing and handling the art chores on the new series. I have been a fan of Kaare's work since Ultimate X-Men and enjoyed his runs on Astonishing X-Men, Spider-Man: Reign, and anything else he has put his artistic stamp on, like the iconic covers he did for The Incredible Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man. Clearly, Kaare has a great love of comics; he took a brief hiatus to direct the film Cabin Fever: Patient Zero and returned to comics afterward (Praise Baby Jesus!), and it shows in the amazing storytelling in his first issue of Iron Fist: Living Weapon.
Kaare was kind enough to participate in the following interview.
“You hit me! Picard never hit me.”
“I’m not Picard.”
-- Q and Commander Sisko
Just in case you have no idea who the Star Trek universe’s Q is, I’ll explain. First, though, how’d you end up here? Are you lost? Wait here and I’ll go and get a police officer to take you home, and, for the last time, stop mixing your medication with scotch. Anyway, Q is a godlike alien being who walks the line between mischievous and malevolent and takes special delight in bothering Captain Picard. As played by John de Lancie, Q is one of the more popular and recognizable elements of the twenty-year period of Trek that comprises TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Me, I’ve never cared for Q. Nothing against de Lancie or the writing, I just prefer my godlike aliens to be more strange and less preteen-who-really-could-use-his-Ritalin. It might be because I look at Q as the physical representation of the Trek brass (a.k.a. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga). Wherever their attention is, like the Eye of Sauron, Q will soon appear, bringing his special brand of malicious whimsy.
You've got to love a book that includes the tagline, "Get in on the ground floor of Marvel's next big franchise." To be honest, it's hard to get excited about anything "new" and/or "big" from either of the Big 2. DC New 52, Marvel Now? Yawn. But, when Joe "Freakin'" Maduriera is drawing The Inhumans, you show up to the party.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
“Die with honor, O’Brien.” -- Tosk
From the very beginning, the Gamma Quadrant was DS9‘s most tantalizing promise. An entire sector of unexplored space, in which anything could be waiting. In the early going, it was pretty clear that the show wasn’t quite sure how to fulfill that promise. By the second season, the team of writers led by Ira Steven Behr would surpass it, but, for the time being, it was to be used for the kinds of episodes more suited to TNG. Just instead of going to the new life and new civilizations, they would have to come through the wormhole to the cast.
“Who said anything about volunteering? We can haggle over price later.” --Quark
The mysterious plague episode is the baked potato of the Star Trek franchise. It’s the staple, presumably what the writers do when they don’t have anything better on the agenda. “So, what’s the plan this week?” “I dunno, Ira, how about a mysterious plague?” “GOLD! You’re spinning gold right now!” It might seem shocking that DS9 dipped into that well so quickly, but they showed more restraint than TNG whose “Naked Now” was the very second episode ever. Fortunately, this doesn’t feature Denise Crosby with bizarre ‘80s hair either.