Star Trek 369: Homefront

369. Homefront

FORMULA: The Pegasus + The Adversary + The Undiscovered Country

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Siskos. Changelings on Earth.

WHY WE DON'T: The lameduck president.

REVIEW: I've always been a (rather vocal) fan of the father/son relationship between the Siskos, and it's great to see another generation thrown into the mix. Seems like Ben and Jake share a bond not dissimilar to Joe and Ben, and it's great to see a non-dysfunctional family in Trek. For the talk of evolved 24th-century sensibilities, this is remarkably rare in Trek. Grandpa Sisko is a vibrant, if at time too folksy, character brought to life wonderfully by Brock Peters, and quite far from his other Trek character, Admiral Cartright, even though the story here isn't dissimilar to The Undiscovered Country.

In both stories, the paranoia is tangible, and the shocker is that Starfleet officers could be in on a conspiracy. But that's not revealed yet. At this point, we meet an Admiral that's willing to sacrifice personal liberties for extra security (sound familiar?), and since he's Sisko's mentor, he goes along even though he has mixed feelings in a position neither sought nor wanted. Odo meets one of his people for the first time since he "harmed another", and it's a strong moment. The changelings seem determined to destabilize the Federation with their shenanigans. But while Layton and Benteen (such a different look for Susan Gibney of Leah Brahms fame that I didn't recognize her the first time around) are sympathetically sketched, the Federation president is really dull. I know he's supposed to be a peace-loving herbivore, but the performance didn't have to be as dreary as this.

But while I appreciate the political intrigue, it's the family scenes that really resonate. Jake is especially effective as the kid who doesn't want to go visit Grandpa because he's gonna be put to work in the restaurant. So real! And it's Grandpa who acts as the voice of reason and liberty in an environment that's growing towards a form of benevolent fascism. The creators of the show do a good job of making us paranoid about his identity (if he's not a changeling, why doesn't he eat, or go to the doctor?), so we're right there with Sisko, doubting his own father. Grandpa makes a good point about changeling vampires leaking out blood on cue too. Changelings are even scarier than you think.

Though the majority of the action takes place on Earth with only three cast members, the front end of the episode does give the other characters proper scenes. Dax's pranks are kind of fun. O'Brien and Bashir start their love affair with historical battles (though not yet hopeless historical battles. And watch how Bashir brushes off Odo's offer to carry a message to his family. Nobody to contact indeed. As for Nog, he IS on Earth and gets a good part as the freshman wanting to join an elite cadet group. And here I thought the Academy had learned its lesson with Nova Squadron.

LESSON: There's no test a smart man (or sentient mass of protoplasm) can't fool.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Furthers the Dominion arc, but also makes a major contribution to Sisko's.


De said...

This is such a great episode. Joseph Sisko quickly became one of my favorite Trek characters as a result of this two-parter.

The story of the alligator never fails to make me chuckle a little bit :)

LiamKav said...

For some reason, I like that Sisko puts on a TNG uniform on Earth. It's a nice touch, especially since (apparently) those uniforms aren't cheap to make. Unless they kept his one from the first episode.


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