So, apparently, “Move Along Home” is one of the most hated episodes of Deep Space Nine, routinely showing up on “worst Trek episodes lists” with even Avery Brooks saying he didn’t like it.
I…didn’t think it was that bad, all told.
Maybe it’s because I am going through the first season of both this show and Next Generation, and quite frankly, nothing Deep Space Nine at its worst has put it near the level of some of the awful stuff in Next Generation‘s first season. It’s true that “Move Along Home” isn’t exactly a good episode of the show, but I personally felt the previous one was worse. This one is just…silly.
And, in sci-fi, silly isn’t a deal-killer for me. Particularly a first season episode where everyone involved is still trying to figure out what this show is all about. Then again, the Netflix episode description really only covers the cold open as Sisko in his dress uniform goes off to greet some aliens for the first First Contact for beings from the Gamma Quadrant. Yes, that happens after the series remembered Jake existed and gave him a scene with his father, revealing he’s 14, likes to look at girls, and has been getting tips on women from Nog. Sisko isn’t too happy about that, and while we could chalk it up to Sisko’s somewhat space racist reaction to Ferengi in general, given what Ferengi think is the proper place for women, this time Ben Sisko might be justified.
Jake returns a couple more times, ending his involvement with the episode to ask Odo where the his father might be. Something was able to make Sisko and the Command Crew just disappear from the station. And even Odo seems to know Jake wants to hang out with Nog and watch Bajoran girls come through the docking bay. It’s a somewhat predictable cliche for a boy his age, but it’s also probably the most we’ve gotten out of Jake Sisko since the pilot.
As for the rest of the episode, the only thing that really threw me for a loop was how the First Contact ended with the aliens, the Wadi, asking if there were games on the station and then immediately asking where Quark’s bar is. Because, well, it seems a little weird to me that these guys, new to the Alpha Quadrant, already knew about Quark’s bar. Beyond that, why didn’t this episode bother me?
Well, I’m sure part of it is the first season Next Generation comparison. The rest is, despite the silliness, the characters here are rather well-established. Sisko, Dax, Kira, and Bashir find themselves inside a weird game because the Wadi caught Quark cheating and this game is to make it up. Quark rolls dice that seem to determine what challenges the four pieces he doesn’t at first realize are people he knows will face, and when he figures it out (after Bashir appears to have been killed), he starts to sweat. Quark may be a greedy little cheat, but that doesn’t mean he wants people getting hurt or killed for his greed. And inside the game, we see Sisko take charge, Bashir stumble around as comic relief, Dax being coldly practical, and Kira fuming the whole time.
And, in what seemed to me like a clever ending, when Quark loses, all four player pieces are back safe and sound because it was all only a game. The Wadi may love playing games, but they aren’t trying to get anyone killed to have fun.
Besides, Odo leading an investigation is always kinda fun, particularly when he lays into the same Starfleet security officer that gave him fits last episode for being a bit lax. I may have to learn that guy’s name or something.
Now, in the end, no one is exactly punished. Odo knows Quark is responsible, but I wasn’t sure anyone had any actual authority to punish Quark for any particular crimes aside from the cheating he conveniently (and unconvincingly) lies about. Quark and Odo at this point are the two best developed characters on the show, the only two that seemed to have been formed full cloth so far. So, what was this episode? It’s a season one episode of a show that hasn’t yet hit the heights I’ve heard it will hit…eventually. I can forgive a little silliness here and there.