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The Trek Nation - Little Green Men

Little Green Men

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:12 AM GMT

See Also: 'Little Green Men' Episode Guide

On the way to take Nog to the Academy on Earth, Quark's contraband causes a temporal rift. He, his brother and nephew, and Odo end up on Earth in the twentieth century at Roswell, confusing the heck out of government officials before they escape to their own era.

Analysis:

This is the kind of episode that a TV series can get away with doing exactly once, and in this case the timing was perfect: after a series of serious dramatic episodes, before yet another installment in an ongoing series of Big Alien Battles. I've said before that if DS9 is going to rip off TOS, it should do us the courtesy of copying only undisputed classics, and "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" certainly qualifies. If we're going to watch time travel, we should get it complete with all the cliches. So "Little Green Men" was a wonderful treat: a romp not only though a silly historical landmark, but also the entire film genre associated with it.

I had a good feeling about this episode from the moment Rom informed Quark that he'd snooped around while the latter was in "waste disposal"; thirty years of Trek, and this is the first time we learn that people still poop! (Ok, maybe only Ferengi.) The one-liners in here were zingers even before they got to Earth. In a rare follow-up to a previous time-tampering episode, Nog notices that Gabriel Bell is a dead ringer for Sisko; Quark scoffs, "All humans look alike." Rom's technobabble in the shuttle and Quark's blank stare were a riot, as were Quark's pithy comments about the stupidity of cigarette smoking and atomic bombsy. For a minute I thought we were going to learn that Ferengi run R.J. Reynolds. The attention to detail in this episode was as good as Trek's ever gotten; if there were anachronisms or stupid continuity errors, I missed them because I was laughing too hard.

And the directing was absolutely priceless, a combination of bad '40s thriller and bad '70s science fiction rip-off of bad '40s thriller. The writers managed to work in all the stereotypes - sweet but smart nurse engaged to nerdy but forward-thinking professor, crusty Republican general, paranoid xenophobic captain, goons with guns. The switches to human point of view for the initial attempts to communicate via mimicry and the subsequent conclusion that Quark must be the female of the family unit - "And she's a shrew" - were very effective. Rom sobbing for his Moogie was absolutely hysterical, and I got a good howl out of the general comparing Quark to his brother-in-law the bad used car salesman.

But what worked even better were the movie conventions themselves--the professor lighting both his own and his fiance's cigarette in his mouth, Nog's speech about plans to take over Earth stolen from fifteen different bad alien-invader serials, the long happy-ending kiss in the jeep, and especially the nurse's bubbly rip-off of the TOS opening voice over: "We could travel the galaxy and explore new worlds and new civilizations!"

I hesitantly concede that the series has been on a roll this season. We've had lots of terrific episodes. The problem is that they've all been, well, episodic - none of the arcs left over from last season have been dealt with, Worf hasn't done a thing of note, and most of the main characters have been sorely neglected (Kira, to be sure, but also Bashir, Odo, and O'Brien). I loved "Little Green Men". Now can we get back to Deep Space Nine?

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.