Friday, January 27, 2017

Deep Space Nine 5x3 "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"

rating: ***

the story: Quark is reunited with his blushing ex-bride, who happens to be a Klingon, which leads to Worf and Jadzia realizing they love each other.

what it's all about: "House of Quark" was brilliant.  "Looking for par'Mach" is a somewhat unnecessary follow-up, but it's a terrific excuse to get Worf and Jadzia to realize they're a match made in...the celestial temple.  Besides Quark, there's also an awkward subplot involving Kira carrying O'Brien's baby, which is one of several creatively suspect decisions made around this period.  Consider this the period of Deep Space Nine, in some respects, that corresponds with the third season of Lost, which frustrated fans so much the creators ended up doubling down on the mythology in the final three seasons, advancing the story at lightning speed, which is also what happens after all these curious decisions in this series, which began after the studio forced the producers to insert the Klingons, and the producers really had no idea how to do it.

Well, the answer is, figure out a way to integrate them into the fabric of the series.  Helpfully, Jadzia Dax already existed.  Jadzia was host to a symbiont, and the previous host had been Federation ambassador to the Klingons, which led to the awesome "Blood Oath" in the second season, in which three original series Klingons return for one last glorious adventure.  It was one of the best Klingon episodes of the franchise, from a series that to that point otherwise had literally nothing meaningful to do with Klingons.  Then the studio mandated Klingons, and brought Worf along to seal the deal, and the producers had no idea what to do with him, and then...someone realized, perhaps during "Sword of Kahless," that there really was an obvious solution, which was to link Worf with Jadzia.

And obviously, this is the episode where it finally happens.  This was another in the inordinate number of lasting romantic liaisons made during the course of the series, the first being Sisko and Kasidy in the third season and the last was the long-simmering Odo/Kira, which poignantly (actually they both did) helped close out the series.  Worf and Jadzia meanwhile...

The important thing is, not only was this good for Worf, but good for Jadzia as well.  Jadzia had already been transformed from just another pretty face to one of the strongest women in Star Trek history (second only, perhaps, to Kira, and then Voyager's trio of Janeway, Seven, and B'Elanna Torres), a multidimensional character capable of adapting to any situation, and brave enough to do what Troi in Next Generation never could, which was to deliberately pursue Worf.

So this episode is where all that happens, how they realize what they mean to each other, in the midst of unusually crazy business.  I think if there's any justification for the craziness, it's that the pursuit of love often seems crazy, but these were two of the most grounded characters, utterly sure of themselves in most respects, and so it would've been more awkward having them embody the crazy.  So it was shifted to other characters.  If anything, Quark ends up looking like the buffoon fans typically thought of Ferengi, a stereotype dating back to their botched debut in Next Generation, which Quark otherwise totally obliterated.  That's called irony, I think.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - At last another Klingon story unique to Deep Space Nine, so in some ways it's not strictly relevant to general consumption.
  • series - See the above statement, okay?
  • character - Worf and Jadzia.
  • essential - One of the key developments of the series happens here.
notable guest-stars:
Rosalind Chao (Keiko)
Mary Kay Adams
Phil Morris

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