Nor the Battle to the StrongBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:29 AM GMT
See Also: '...Nor the Battle to the Strong' Episode Guide
Trapped with Bashir on a planet being assaulted by the Klingons, Jake panicks and flees a battle. After lying to Bashir about his actions, which cost another man his life, Sisko's son must come to terms with his cowardice.
Jake does Ernest Hemingway...quite well, I might add. A lot of this episode was clichd, starting with the concept of the young writer scarred by discovering that War Is Hell, but that didn't detract from the emotional impact of the show, largely because the performances were superb. Even the most hackneyed moments, such as Ben and Jadzia discussing their parental concerns, gained intensity from their earnestness.
Cirroc Lofton is one of the best things about DS9, and the producers would do well to keep that in mind when deciding which of the minor characters should get air time. Here, as in "The Visitor," he was utterly convincing experiencing and expressing wrenching emotional states; his scene with the dying commander brought tears to my eyes. Jake's role in this episode was reactive rather than active, which can be very difficult to play--the viewer is shown something horrifying, and then shown the character's expression in response, leaving it to the actor to convey the gravity of the moment--but Lofton pulled it off superbly.
Farrell, Siddig, and Brooks had fine moments as well. Every time I see Dax in an episode such as this one, which deals with her depth as an individual from having lived so many lives, I resent even further episodes such as "Par'Mach" which squander her potential. Farrell has developed more as a performer than anyone else in the cast, and this episode showcased both her comic timing and her ability to carry an emotional scene. Siddig didn't get to do much we haven't seen in previous episodes--his performance here seemed like a low-key echo of "The Quickening"--but Bashir's gaining maturity and warmth, and I liked his heroism.
I loved Sisko's reaction to Jake's literary confession at the end. It was interesting that he reacted solely as a father and not at all as a military officer; this is the second time this season when we saw Sisko as a man with very different values from the captain. It bugged me that through most of the show, Brooks was forced into imperturbable mode instead of being allowed to show the range of emotion he conveyed in "The Ship," but I found him very moving at the conclusion.
There was a lot of violence in this episode, but for once none of it was gratuitous; the wounded and dead were characters rather than redshirts, all present for emotional as well as plot-driven reasons. And I'm glad we got to see the Klingons in all their bloodiness; too often DS9 seems to credit Klingon violence rather than condemn it, as in last week's violent sex-fest. Well done.
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.