Star Trek 408: Empok Nor

Feeling queasy408. Empok Nor

FORMULA: Starship Mine + The Adversary + Distant Voices + Genesis

WHY WE LIKE IT: The skewed station. O'Brien's MacGyverism.

WHY WE DON'T: Did we doubt the redshirts would get it?

REVIEW: Between its lighting, mood, tension and body count, Empok Nor is a little horror movie, and not a badly done one at that. We've seen Deep Space 9 abandoned and in shambles before, but the addition of the skewed and dark exterior shots makes the station even more eerie as it plays the role of another "Nor". Raiding an old station for parts is a good premise, one that necessitates Garak's participation in case of booby traps. Nog is along too, his chosen specialty tending more and more towards security, and at the center of it all, O'Brien.

I'm not sure why Garak pushes O'Brien's buttons from the onset - maybe he really does dislike being "trusted" all of a sudden - but the focus does fall on O'Brien's soldiering days. He's like a traumatized Vietnam veteran, haunted by what he had to do in those days, and unwilling to take up arms again, which is why his final solution is an engineering one.

Obviously, the new characters along for the ride are destined to die, but at least these redshirts get personalities, relationships and lives of their own. And while the Cardassian sleepers are good monsters, the tension really ramps up when Garak becomes infected. Since we know he's dangerous, and wouldn't like him to get killed or kill anyone else we like, the devil we know is a more suspense-inducing enemy. Jabbering on and taunting O'Brien over the com keeps the scenes alive and fun, and the episode isn't afraid to swerve into the macabre when our favorite tailer hangs the bodies of the crew around the Promenade.

Despite the atrocities committed here, Garak is forgiven at the end, and it doesn't feel cheap. It's both he and O'Brien coming to terms with what has happened and what they've done. And I don't think they're just talking about Empok Nor, but Cetlik III as well.

LESSON: Games should reflect your worldview. For example, while Ferengi tongo may be about hoarding assets, Cardassian kotra is about wasting resources

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: I don't think you can avoid the clichés when you specifically go for such a genre, but though somewhat predictable, it's well directed and acted. A tight moody thriller.

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