Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Deep Space Nine 2x3 "The Siege"

rating: **

the story: The rogue Bajorans calling themselves the Circle have sieged Deep Space Nine!

what it's all about: The biggest problem with the ambitious three-part episode that opened the second season is that it spent so much time focusing on Kira, it kind of almost totally forgot Sisko.  Now, this is a problem.  A lot of fans think Sisko in the early seasons is pretty weak, and while on the whole this isn't really true, his appearances in material like "The Siege" certainly don't help.

Again, this is a problem, because by this third episode in the arc, it's arguably Sisko's turn at driving the story, and instead it just seems as if he's trying desperately to play catch-up the whole time.  And thus we discover the essential weakness of this arc: the series was by no means ready for it.

As we would see later in the series, whether in "The Search" or "The Way of the Warrior" (which are, essentially, similar stories that opened the third and fourth seasons, respectively), or even the comparatively minor but vastly superior "Civil Defense," getting Sisko right is absolutely imperative in pulling off a story like this.  If you put the station in peril, its commander has to have a commanding presence.  Which just doesn't happen in "Siege" (not to be confused with the seventh season "Siege of AR-558," another episode unfortunately regarded as vastly superior). 

Simply put, if you're going to pull the trigger on a big moment, such as putting the station in peril, you really need to think it all the way through, especially if you try to do it so near the beginning of the series.  This is probably the very episode the producers started to realize the importance of this, because by the end of the season, a truly credible threat (the Dominion) was introduced, and it ended up defining the series far more than Bajoran politics.

Again, this is not to say fans who think Bajoran politics ruined the early seasons are right.  Clearly they could produce great drama, with or without direct Cardassian involvement (although that's another gaping hole in this episode, the absence of Gul Dukat, which even by the two-part "Maquis" later in the season, and the Dukat-heavy third season and beyond, had been identified by those same producers).  But you can't let Bajorans overrun the station.  You just can't.  I don't care how many admirals are telling Sisko they can't do anything about that sort of development. 

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this was exactly the episode that needed to happen, not just to galvanize the storytelling, but to clear the Bajoran problems that were the original basis of the series.  The bottom line, though, is that "Siege" feels like an underwhelming conclusion to what should have been a shining creative moment for the young series.  There's something wrong with that, anyway.

Still, the best moment in the episode, Dax joining Kira in some antiquated fighter unit, helps shine a renewed light on Dax, her lively personality, which would come up again later in the season ("Playing God").  Seeing these two women bond is probably one of the better moments hindsight can give, from an era where that has become increasingly important.  This had never happened before in the history of Star Trek, but soon, in Voyager, it would become a welcome new staple.  So that's the best way, probably, to think of "Siege."

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Not essential to the franchise per say.
  • series - Pretty important to the series.
  • character - Has good character work from Dax and Kira.
  • essential - Not essential.
notable guest-stars:
Frank Langella
Rosalind Chao (Keiko)
Hana Hatae (Molly)
Steven Weber
Louise Fletcher (Winn)
Max Grodenchik (Rom)
Aron Eisenberg (Nog)
Philip Anglim (Bareil)

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