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Retro Review: The Siege

Posted by Michelle - 16/03/12 at 06:03 pm


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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season: 02 Episode: 03 (s02e03)

Original US airdate: 10/10/1993

While Sisko and Li lead covert resistance against a Bajoran force on Deep Space Nine, Kira and Dax attempt to reveal the source of the Circle’s power.

Plot Summary: As Bajoran military forces approach Deep Space Nine, Sisko evacuates the Federation civilians and goes into hiding with his officers, who sabotage the sensors so they can’t be found. Since Kira believes that the Chamber of Ministers must be informed of the Cardassian plot to arm the Circle and overthrow Bajor’s legitimate government, Li Nalas tells her where to find an old Bajoran raider vessel hidden on one of the planet’s moons. She and Dax find the technologically backward ship and fly it to Bajor, where they are attacked by sophisticated new ships that force them to crash. Li also convinces most of the Bajorans trying to flee the station that they must stay and defend their home, since the ships are overcrowded from Quark’s having “sold” seats on the escape ships. The refugees get away before the Bajoran forces, led by General Krim and Colonel Day, arrive at the seemingly abandoned station. Day is exultant but Krim warns that the damaged security system may be hiding Starfleet officers whom he can’t believe would have left without a fight. Jaro warns Krim not to allow Li Nalas to come to any harm. Sisko lures Day into a holosuite and warns him that the Cardassians are arming the Circle, but a skeptical Day refuses to tell Krim anything except that there are Federation liars still on the station. Bashir lures Day to a cargo bay so that Li Nalas can force Krim to listen to him. On Bajor, Bareil sends members of his religious order to rescue Dax and a wounded Kira, who are brought to the monastery and dressed as Vedeks so that they can enter the Chamber of Ministers safely. Jaro orders Kira’s arrest, but not before she presents Odo’s evidence that the Cardassians are arming his movement. Realizing the costs if Kira is right, Winn demands an investigation of the evidence. Jaro’s coup ends, and Krim, learning that the Bajoran provisional government has prevailed, tells Sisko that the Federation should retake the station while the general goes home in disgrace. Still suspecting a plot, Day aims a phaser at Sisko, but it is Li Nalas who steps in the line of fire and is killed. Kira mourns him as a hero and Sisko tells O’Brien that he will always remember Li’s acts of courage.

Analysis: I’ve always thought of “The Siege” as the weakest of the three episodes that comprise the second-season opener for Deep Space Nine, but upon rewatching, that’s not really fair. It’s slow-moving and claustrophobic compared to the others, but that’s necessary to tell the story, whose events must seem to creep along interminably to the officers hidden on the station eating terrible combat rations and fearing that the security net will be restored, allowing them to be smoked out. The dialogue isn’t as clever as that of “The Circle,” which may be why it seems like so much time passes during what should be a thrilling the Bajoran raider fight and the cat-and-mouse chase in the station’s corridors, but there’s more deliberate wit and the major Bajoran guest characters (Li, Krim, Day) are nicely rounded out in just a few lines of dialogue each. It’s lovely watching Li Nalas come into his own, though a bummer that he gets the predictable martyr’s death instead of shouldering the hopes and beliefs of his people, becoming a hero not in the quick military sense but through the force of his personality and his willingness to put himself out there because it’s the right thing to do. Yet again we get a glimpse of what a powerful public speaker he might become, when he persuades the Bajorans not to flee the station and when he talks Krim into waiting out the crisis in the Chamber of Ministers. As for Krim himself, whom we’ve met only once before, we see that his honor and his wish to support what’s best for Bajor go much deeper than his ego – he’s the direct opposite of Jaro and Winn in that regard. It’s hard to tell whether Day is personally ambitious or merely paranoid about the Federation’s presence; we see him authoritarian in a military uniform, but for all we know he was Kohn-Ma a few months ago believing he was doing what was right to protect his planet.

Kira – a greater hero than Li Nalas, as Sisko points out to her – finishes a fantastic trilogy by saving Bajor, risking her life yet again so she can bring the evidence with a Gul’s thumbprint to the Chamber of Ministers. We haven’t seen her and Dax in charge of anything so important together since the series pilot, when the two of them were running the station while Sisko was in the wormhole talking to the Prophets, and it’s a pleasure to see them outside the more traditional roles of communicator and healer which are the top positions for female regulars on the original Star Trek and The Next Generation, even if Dax credits a male former host for her scientific know-how. Though Sisko had insisted that Kira take O’Brien as her shuttle pilot when she rescued Li Nalas, she does her own flying here, with Dax shooting down their pursuers despite the absence of a phaser lock. At times the writers to be working too hard to find things for the other major characters to do, leading to some rather forced humor; I’ll buy that Dax is fed up with having to creep through caves with dog-sized spiders and that no one wants to eat O’Brien’s packaged nutrition bars, but Quark’s convincing hapless Bajorans to buy seats on escape transports isn’t particularly funny and makes the average Bajoran look even sillier than Quark (whom we’re shown dragging his latinum through the station with him instead of hiding it in one of his many smuggler’s holds). Okay, so it’s fun seeing Odo turn into a wall and a trip wire, but surely the longtime station residents have more to contribute during a crisis that could bring the Cardassians back and destroy life as they know it. What happened to the Bashir who couldn’t wait for adventure on the frontier?

Though the immediate crisis is averted, the ending is entirely unresolved. We shall never learn Jaro’s fate and we’re left uncertain precisely how Winn balances her personal ambitions with what she perceives as the good of Bajor; clearly at this point she’s unwilling to risk a Cardassian return even if it benefits her privately (Opaka, after all, remained Kai throughout the Occupation). We don’t know as the militia pulls back what Starfleet will have to say about Sisko’s handling of the evacuation of the station and his own refusal to leave, nor whether Kira will be disciplined yet again for breaking minor rules in favor of a greater good. Coming at the end of the five-episode arc that began with the extraordinary “Duet,” “The Siege” looks less like a conclusion than the start of a season-long arc about the future of Bajor and the Federation. For better or worse, it isn’t, and the Bajoran arc will end up requiring a pan-galactic war covering years of the show’s run for significant change in the planet’s relationship with the Federation – not to mention with the Cardassians. I was frustrated by the second season when it first aired for failing to follow up on this superlative opening trilogy, but I’m not sorry now that we get two episodes about Odo’s background, an exploration of Dax’s history with the Klingons, the two-parter about the Maquis that fits in with developments in Picard’s mission and will set the stage for Voyager, and the earliest mentions of the Dominion in the Star Trek universe. The tapestry becomes more interesting as it becomes more complicated, and the far-off resolutions that much more satisfying.

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  • SJStar

    Really nice review Michelle. A pretty good summary i’d think…

    Though “Quark’s convincing hapless Bajorans to buy seats on escape transports isn’t particularly funny “. It isn’t meant to be, he is hedging his bets for the loss of profit if the bar is closed due to the station were evacuated for real. In his eyes, he does what Ferengi always do, look for a reason to take the advantage. To human eyes it is an outrageous lack of compassion, but then again Quark does not hold our human such sensibilities.

  • Guest

    “even if Dax credits a male former host for her scientific know-how”

    Yes, even if…as we all know nothing good can come from the involvement of a man, right?

    Pleh, indeed.

  • hostile_17

    Well if you’re a man you’re certainly helping that theory with your inane comment.

  • mvdelaney77

    Not a bad review… I wish you would proofread through them once, mind you… there are several sentences that make zero sense without guessing what you meant.

  • mvdelaney77

    You do realize that neither women, nor homosexuals, nor anyone else in the world will ever actually reach their potential with this sort of attitude, right?

    They aren’t as capable until they act as capably… and part of that is abandoning victimizaiton as the main through-line.

    I don’t ever think homosexuality should be showcased in Star Trek as something special. If the world of Trek is as we have been presented and are expected to believe, then homosexuality wouldn’t turn a single head. Portraying it as anything but mundane and commonplace would violate the very basic notions of how the Trek world works. Similarly, women will never attain full equality in the workplace or anywhere else in the world as long as they’re harping on men… and I’m not talking about Star Trek there. In real life, if you can’t get over the past and the limitations therein, you’re screwed.

    Jadzia didn’t make mention of her scientific knowledge coming from a man. She mentioned it as having come from a previous host. The reviewer is the one stuck on the fact that that host was male. No guy that I ever have known would feel good or badly about that. None of us care, to be honest. I never hear references to Dax’s old hosts and think, “Boy, Dax would be better as a man.” It never happened. But, apparently the contrary is true. Women seem consumed by this. When did Dax learn a, b, and c? Was Dax a man at that point? Who cares? Obviously the reviewer, but nobody else in the world beyond some psycho feminists. Please, at least pull your head out of the inner labia! This is Star Trek, not a class on feminism and reading into anything possible to make men look bad.

    Yes, Dax learned something before she was a woman. I’m sorry if that’s upsetting. I’m sorry she didn’t lose all of her memories from being a man so all credit for everything she ever does could go to her female host… at least then, perhaps, we could get a review without this crap involved.

    It’s not a bad review, but pieces of non-sense like this keep getting thrown in… And that’s fine… but don’t jump down the throat of another commenter when he wants to reply to the subject… Maybe you should jump down Michelle’s throat for bringing up the silly notion of gender in this review in the first place… but if she’s going to bring it up in such a hamfisted manner, surely you wouldn’t begrudge one of us neaderthals from commenting on it, right?

    I hope by the 24th century that some women actually take the opportunities in life, rather than spending their time inventing bounding boxes that don’t really exist.

  • hostile_17

    Being pro something does not mean you are anti the opposite. It was an inane comment.

  • Responder

    No, it wasn’t.

    My argument matches yours in rhetorical force.

  • SJStar

    One thing that is correct is that Michelle is obsessed with gender, which seems to grate or rub the wrong way for almost every commentator. I honestly don’t like this aspect of her reviews either.

    In fairness, since the DS9 reviews started here, Michelle has toned down her rhetoric every second review, before then again. resetting things back to her obstinate ways.

    I frankly can’t wait to see what she says about Jadzia/Dax kiss with her previous spouse, nor of Cassidy’s wedding to Sisko, or why Odo never morphs into a female humanoid or persona, or why the head from the Great Link has a female changeling fighting the war instead of a male, or Odo and Kira playing human gender roles, when all Odo has to do is turn into some magical light, and somehow either bliss or ensnare his way to Kira’s heart. (WIth the latter two, you would logically think the all Changelings really should have any gender at all!)

    Even more perplexing is why the Borg have genders at all, when they don’t need to reproduce other than the assimilation of every weak suckers they encounter or conquer! Have a Queen Borg is even more bizarre when clearly they have no need for sexual reproduction. How about the Star Trek : Enterprise Season Three episode, Cogenitor, with three Vissian sexes needed to be used for alien reproduction.

    Another example is Data, who being a sexless android, decides to behave as a male, and even has all the equipment just in case he has to pleasure a female – and they did that very thing on the third ever episode on TNG! (They did the same sort of thing between Nurse Chapel and the emotionless Spock in “The Naked Time”, being the fourth ever episode of TOS.)

    Clearly, male and female roles in Star Trek have always been mixed up, mostly to get the viewer to think about the future evolution of the human and other galactic species. Sometimes it is meant to challenge our norms, and other times, it is just to chalk up more viewers of either titillate more pubescent males or fantasising females with scantily worn attire or good looking characters. Seven of Nine, or Jonathan Archer or T’Pal instantly come to mind…

    Perhaps the best example is switching of bodies and genders, such as Kirk and Dr. Janice Lester in the last TOS series “Turnabout Intruder.” (This was a desperate attempt to up the ratings in 1968, but the Series had already lost half of it viewers.) This was a parody of nearly everyones fantasy – a woman captaining a starship with ultimate authority and a man presumably trapped with all the frailties, weaknesses and unable to be taken seriously nor equally as with men. All the pubescent males could only think about was having the ultimate sex fantasy of a male trapped in a female body experiencing some higher plane of attention and higher levels of pleasure!

    Simply put. Gender manipulation of sexuality is/was paramount (sic/giggle) by the studio executive to keep up the ratings and the monies from the advertising revenue.

    Thus “…hope by the 24th century that some women actually take the opportunities in life, rather than spending their time inventing bounding boxes that don’t really exist.” is part of the fantasy that the producers are deliberately creating and manipulating the viewers with.

    It is no wonder why some seem to be so obsessed with sexuality and gender. They have been manipulated and supposed to react that way!

    Is this too, an inane comment??

  • Android

    No, it wasn’t inane at all. Green has some talent as a writer, but any reasonably sane person has to be completely sick of her bigotry and utter lack of objectivity. Every time a man-hating rant starts in one of her recaps, I just roll my eyes and throw my hands up.

    Women, people of color, religious minorities, and anyone who is in a minority or underprivileged group, should have respect, equal opportunities, and pride in themselves completely independent of any minority/underprivileged status. Not in spite of, not because of, but independent of that status. We should all respect each others’ worth as individuals. And many groups have been oppressed and still need a hand up to overcome the long term results of unfair treatment. But that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING has to be viewed through the prism of reverse discrimination that Green so often succumbs to.

    It’s sickening. It’s the other side of the vile coin that is Ann Coulter. And I’m begging her to stop it. Every male character is not evil. Every time a female character can’t accomplish something, it’s not inherently written that way because she’s female. And good gosh, Kira Nerys is NOT the greatest Star Trek character EVER, unless viewed through a very narrow-minded and bigoted mindset. Enough already.

  • hostile_17

    It was inane. Pointless, with no substance.

    But anyway, if you don’t like the views of a feminist why are you reading a feminist’s review of Star Trek? Just sayin’.

  • Android

    Inane? No, I don’t think you know what the word means.

    Defending bigotry does not speak well of your own character. And it’s not feminism I object to, it’s bigotry, and it sneaks into Green’s writing far too often. And no, I don’t think that if I don’t like the bigoted aspects of Green’s writing that I should just “leave” without comment. If everyone took the attitude about social wrongs that you imply should be taken by those who disagree with Green, then things would never improve in society as a whole.

    “Just sayin’”, eh? What an ignorant reaction. Kind of like your pointless and unintelligent repetition of “inane”. “Hostile” is indeed a good nickname for you, as opposed to nicknames like “rational” or “thoughtful” or “objective”.

  • hostile_17

    Calm down dear.

  • DS9 Forever

    I would have liked a follow-up to this episode as well. “Cardassians” reveals the aftermath of the Cardassians supplying weapons to this Circle, but the Bajoran story is forgotten.

  • Android

    Don’t condescend, dear. It’s ugly, and it betrays the lack of substance in your “arguments”, although I give them far too much credence to even call them that.

  • hostile_17

    I have made no arguments. Not worth it.

    I just don’t read blogs/views that annoy/upset me. Way easier in life than all this frothing.