In which there are self-sealing stem bolts. Need I say more?
Memory Alpha says: An old farmer refuses to leave the moon where he lives, even though it is about to be made uninhabitable by toxic gases. Meanwhile, Jake and Nog set out to turn an inordinate amount of seemingly worthless condiments into profit. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
Well, I just coined the tag ‘kirasode’ to denote episodes that focus on Kira Nerys, and my spotty, pidgin-like knowledge of Japanese is telling me it means ‘sparkly sleeves.’ That’s neither here nor there. I seem to have a vague memory of watching this when it first aired – actually, I think I was watching it on the little TV at my grandparents’, the one that crouched under the breakfast bar and beside the liquor cabinet. Either that or the little TV in my parents’ bedroom. Definitely a memory of littleness. Also neither here nor there.
I don’t remember being particularly captivated by Kira’s role in this episode. I think it’s the sort of faintly dull character-building that you sometimes have to go through in order to lay a foundation that you can build a more interesting story upon. I do like the Noh-Jay subplot, though, because I’ve always enjoyed the type of story in which someone has to make a series of unlikely trades to get the object they actually desire (I seem to remember at least one episode of M*A*S*H* which followed this structure, and of course a lot of folk-tales, and something in one of my favourite kids’ books, The Great Brain), and because I like the fact that in DS9, the kid characters are underdogs who sometimes manage to pull off something clever. They don’t bear a charmed life like Wesley Crusher (nor, on the other hand, do they get told to shut up for no good reason). A story in which spunky kids get one over on adult authority figures has a lot of appeal, but not if the victory comes too easily.
Incidentally, today I was reading this Glee episode review, in which Mr Schue finally telling Rachel off is compared with the ‘Shut up, Wesley!’ incident. Important difference: Rachel deserved it. If at any stage Glee would like to have Patrick Stewart march into the choir room, bark ‘Shut up, Rachel!’ and then stride out, I would not mind at all.
Gates McFadden can guest star as a choreographer who helps the choir with their moves, and tells Rachel to shut up, too!
On to the actual episode. Bullet-point form unless I start to feel inspired.
- Instead of the customary exterior shot of the station, we start with Jake and Nog very quietly playing cards in the bar and overhearing Quark and Rom argue about Cardassian condiments. Jake is a pissy little bitch about Nog’s slowness to play his hand.
- Money can be exchanged for goods and services, Jake!
- Now we get the exterior shot of the station, and Sisko explaining some Science Plot. What kind of moon has a molten core? Kira’s hair is looking really badass – this is the haircut the SA goons call The Battledyke, and it is formidable.
- Girl Talk in the runabout. I really enjoy Dax being so bizarrely broad-minded that she finds Morn kinda cute, and Kira’s look of complete WTFery. It’s because of things like this that I find the eventual Ezri-Julian hookup so irritating and inconsistent. It’s a consolation prize of a relationship, fuelled by nostalgia and pity, and sooner or later it simply has to crash and burn, whether because Julian accidentally calls her ‘Jadzia’ in bed (or ‘Garak’) or because she actually wants to be free to date guys with see-through heads. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.
- I like how exterior shots in Star Trek tend to have this very soft, misty, Vaseline on the lens lighting. It’s like the whole of Bajor went to Glamour Shots.
- Poor Kira, threatened by mute farm folk with rusty implements!
- ‘You’re halfway pretty.’ You condescending old fuck. She is all the way pretty and then some, and it’s not your place to comment on it.
- Jake is wearing his horrible multi-green outfit again. This alien captain’s head-frill reminds me of a Minbari from Babylon 5 – which seems appropriate given the vexed, Lost In Space/Star Trek relationship between B5 and DS9. Loved ’em both, don’t care who ripped off who, completely stopped caring about B5 after they lost Ivanova.
- I like that they introduce the distinction between original and replicated foods, with original being a bit premium.
- Self-sealing stem bolts.
- Interesting that Jake is more alive to the possibilities of a barter economy than Nog is.
- Nog is so cute.
- The farmhouse kitchen set is absolutely beautiful and clearly designed and dressed with love.
- Obviously, a strength of this episode is the natural, warm, folksy performance given by the old farmer, but it actually goes somewhat against the writers’ intentions – they wanted him to appear more manipulative and selfish than he comes out.
- Manipulative, for example – giving Kira one job, then giving her another before she can finish it, then commenting on her looks and her walk while she’s trying to do the second job. But his effort, which Kira recognises, to piss her off, just comes off as cute because of the chemistry between the actors, which you can’t really predict when you write a scene. Actor chemistry can take you by surprise – when I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the warmth and sparkiness between James McAvoy and Georgie Henley made me a helpless shipper of Tumnus/Lucy-once-she-grows-up-and-it’s-not-creepy. Like, I hope they had kids.
- ‘Sit down and relax yourself, child.’ Because suddenly I am a hillbilly Bajoran!
- This is one of those classic Star Trek ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ arguments, and yet, of course, Kira is concerned with the fate of the few – she doesn’t want to leave anyone behind to die when the moon’s core is tapped.
- Nog, you are not just a good boy, you are a smartie! A nice tiny detail – when Jake and Nog make their victory signal to each other across the bar, a woman sitting next to Jake looks confused.
- Waist belt? What other kind is there?
- I do like the tall tale writing of this scene, and the way both the old dude and Nana Visitor are playing it. Since I just reread American Gods (the ‘author’s preferred text’ edition) he’s making me think of Hinzelmann, which does support a more sinister reading of his character.
- Self-sealing stem bolts in their packages look kind of like candy bars. Interesting that ‘gross’ is still used (as a quantity, not as in ‘ew, gross’).
- Hurrah, O’Brien on deck! I love how everyone just keeps repeating what the captain told them about the bolts verbatim, because they have absolutely no other information about them, and there is no Google. There isn’t even an encyclopaedia.
- Aw, poor Kira, having to be the bearer of shitty news. This is a good conflicty scene!
- Ah, she’s back with brownshirts. I’d like to know what they mean about these people not speaking – are they elective mutes because of emotional trauma, or are we talking some yukky tongue-torture? I guess they deliberately want this to be enigmatic because it’s creepier that way.
- The top of Kira’s uniform always looks slightly too short to me, and she does seem to Picard Manoeuvre it a lot, trying to make it more comfortable.
- Action! I am really not in recap mode.
- Cunning little Noh-Jay Consortium! Although I love how they’re agreeing to a plot of land without knowing what the unit of measurement means. Land! Dirt!
- Another uniform. This one is at least three-quarters pretty! But you are still a stubborn old fart.
- Time to tile a kiln, apparently.
- I like how distant the relationship between Sisko and Bashir remains, in a way – how Sisko doesn’t think much of Bashir as a person, and Bashir wants but never quite knows how to satisfy him.
- Awkward use of Bajoran unit of measurement!
- Ooh, manipulate, manipulate – ‘He doesn’t have much faith in you, does he?’ Well, no, at this stage he doesn’t. It takes Sisko quite a while to warm up to people and he does view Kira as at least partly unreliable.
- The cut of Kira’s uniform over her stomach and groin looks even more awkward when she doesn’t have her jacket on. She doesn’t look dressed. Nana Visitor has a beautiful figure but I could still appreciate it in less clingy garments.
- I appreciate the fact that Sisko crouches down to speak to Kira – a literal unbending, although I don’t fully believe him when he says he likes her. That is, I think he likes her in a distant way, rather than a warm way. Does that make sense? There’s something a little condescending about it.
- That chair looks terrible to sleep in. I suppose the writers didn’t intend this character to become so much Kira’s grandpa figure, within the episode at least. I can see how this scene with the same dialogue could be played far less tenderly.
- I feel a tiny little bit sad that Jake and Nog are playing with ordinary rectangular cards, not the novelty round ones used in the mess hall on TOS (I believe you can see them in ‘Charlie X,’ one of my favourite episodes – it’s got Spock-Uhura flirtation, it’s got ass-slapping, it’s got Captain Kirk’s absolutely traumatising workout tights, it’s got Q-like powers in irresponsible hands – all grade-A stuff).
- Can someone who’s more card-savvy than me identify the game Jake and Nog appear to be playing? All I can tell is that it involves making discards. Crazy Eights?
- Convenient overheard conversation is convenient! It almost seems like Odo and Quark are staging the conversation for Noh-Jay’s benefit – but I think that’s just clumsy writing, unless Odo is playing a very deep game.
- Well, Quark, I think you should be darn proud of the boy! Give him his five bars and a Knickerbocker Glory.
- Again with the fuckin’ kiln.
- Symbolic jacket is on again! Symbolic last tile is placed! Even though they don’t tesselate to cover the whole surface. And is it smart to light the kiln before the cement dries?
- I think that might be Vash’s duffle-bag from ‘Q-Less’ getting recycled.
- YOU SHOT MY KILN!
- WATCH AS I SAVE YOUR LIFE WITH ARSON.
- Well, you’ll die, eventually, anyway. We all do. So stop guilt-tripping Kira, who has done everything she could for you and is a lovely person.
Next time, we return to TNG for ‘Too Short a Season,’ which features some really shocking age make-up, and ‘When the Bough Breaks,’ which serves to remind me that ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ really is a horrifying nursery rhyme.
Sorry this wasn’t very funny or interesting. I seem to be a bit off my game.