Saturday, January 26, 2008

Star Trek 414: Behind the Lines

414. Behind the Lines

FORMULA: Descent + Trainspotting + The Siege

WHY WE LIKE IT: Screwing with Damar.

WHY WE DON'T: Odo's seduction. Sisko as pencil pusher.

REVIEW: Flipping the structure of the last few episodes, Behind the Lines uses the station for its A-plot and the rest of the crew for the B-plot, and all I can say is, it's about time! Not to say the Defiant crew's adventures aren't interesting, but the future of DS9 is what really drives the arc. The episode makes clear that the Defiant has gone on many missions throughout the war and the crew had adopted some wartime traditions. Both this and Nog's easy fit into the role of "procurement officer" are well played. Sitting Sisko down at a desk is less exciting, but I suppose it does set up his role as the station's liberator over the course of the next couple episodes.

Over on Terok Nor, Rom's back and in the resistance cell, and Kira's getting into Damar's head and causing trouble over Odo's objections. Quark's contribution is getting Damar drunk and talkative (setting up his love of the drink). The entire episode has the feel of a Mission Impossible episode as the Cardassian-Dominion alliance is undermined by the resistance and Rom attempts to prevent the bad guys from destroying the mine field. But he gets sold up the river by Odo...

Yes, this is the episode that originally made me regret I ever liked Odo. This isn't criticism of the story, just a manifestation of how invested I was in the character when he became an almost irredeemable traitor. See, I hate hate hate the Great Link. I find it extremely creepy that Odo always comes out of it in a heroin-induced haze in which nothing really matters. And like a junky, he's ready to betray his friends and ideals for one more fix.

But with Founder Leader in the picture, we now have quite the cadre of villains to contend with. Weyoun's an excellent character, but the Founder adds an uncaring god for him to toady up to as well as making Odo's situation more problematic. Odo's reaction to the link also teaches us something about the Founders as a whole. If its euphoric effects make you feel "above it all", it's easy to think of yourself as a god with elevated concerns. I suppose that's a major factor in their psychology. And while Odo's betrayal is less disturbing when tempered with knowledge of what will happen in the future, it's still a shocking development to fans of the character today.

LESSON: Loose lips sink ships. And stations.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Now that they've told "Tales of the War", we're ready for things to move towards a wrap-up of the Terok Nor question. Behind the Lines gets things moving in a big way.


mwbworld said...

Yup. I definitely sighed "Oh Odo, no!"

Which is proof that they made me care about the character.

Doola! said...

One of the primary themes of all of "Trek" is the value of individualism - Kirk's ultimate decision that "the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many" in The Search for Spock is highly emblematic of this.

Look at the Ultimate Villains in both TNG and DS9 - the Borg and the Founders. Each is a collective, a hive mind with no real sense of individuality. Each is defeated by courageous groups of humans (and human analogs with funny bumps on their heads), largely because of the qualities that individualism allows and collectivism denies.

I suspect it goes back to "Trek"'s Cold War origins - when you think about it, the original Klingons were indistinguishable from one another, each just another Godless Commie. It wasn't until TNG (which came out in the era of Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall) that the Klingons developed any personality beyond "Bad Guy."

Thus, when Odo is under the influence of the Great Link, he's capable of traitorous thoughts. Separated from that influence, his individuality reasserts itself and he's the stolid, reliable Constable we know and love.

Siskoid said...

Good point Doola.

Even the non-collective villains (TOS Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans) are fascists that oppose diversity.