November 28, 2021

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Explorers”

Sisko and Jake set out to prove the Bajorans could have traveled to Cardassia on solar-wind powered ships centuries earlier.

So, after a couple episodes showing the heating up of any conflict with the Dominion, where Garek’s secrets were hinted at and both the Cardassians and the Romulans suffered great losses with the hint that the Federation and the Klingons were next, it may be time to dial things back a bit with some father-son bonding.  Jake Sisko may not be the most prominent character on Deep Space Nine, to the point where I get the impression there are whole episodes where he just doesn’t show up (probably something to do with the actor’s age), but when he does, it usually means some good bonding moments with his father.

Putting the two Siskos on a small space craft together is a good way to go.

That, more or less, is what happens here in an episode that may be light on plot while being heavy on character development.  Ben Sisko returns from Bajor excited over a new project.  He found some evidence that suggests the Bajorans had mastered space travel long before humanity even invented the airplane, and they did so with special craft that were propelled by solar winds and, theoretically, could have carried Bajorans as far away as Cardassia.  There’s no evidence that this happened, something Kira claims would have been the work of the Cardassians trying to sabotage Bajoran heritage during the occupation, so she’s never heard of this.  She thinks it’s possible, causing O’Brien to say she sounds like a Romulan as they take credit for doing everything first while she claims he sounds like a Cardassian for saying Bajorans couldn’t.

Moot point:  Sisko wants to build one of those ships with his own two hands and give it a test flight to see if it is possible.  He wants to do it the way the Bajorans would have, so no fancy 24th century tools.  And he’d like Jake to come along, something Jake initially backs out of for personal reasons before changing his mind.

There’s a nice warmth to Sisko when it comes to his son, and episodes like this show the two, while being different sorts of men, do love and support each other.  There are so few children in Star Trek as it is, at least that get prominent appearances.  Molly O’Brien is off with her mother on Bajor, leaving the Chief by himself.  Wesley Crusher was something of a genius, and Jake is, well, not, making Jake a more relatable character.  I mean, I’ve never seen anyone say anything bad about Jake as a character compared to Wesley Crusher.  And the less said about Worf’s son Alexander, the better.  It’s rare for major Trek characters to even have kids let alone see much of said kids.  But for Jake, yeah, there’s a nice relationship there between Ben and Jake Sisko.  It seems like the only other good father-son relationship may be Nog and Rom, but those two don’t spend a lot of time together and the moments of Rom’s being a good father are few and far between.

So, instead, we get the two Siskos on a ship together.  That means they spend a lot of time talking, and it’s rather nice as each has something of advice to give the other.  Jake would really like to see his father try his hand at dating again, even suggesting a freighter captain he knows.  I know just enough about this series to know who that captain probably is, but I’ll hold off on saying anything for now.  As for Ben, he learns something about his son he didn’t see coming, namely that Jake doesn’t really want to go to the Academy (something he probably already knew but I forget right this second) but instead wants to be a writer, and the story Jake has that won a prize actually impresses the older Sisko quite a bit.  Jake has the opportunity to go study writing back on Earth from the looks of things, and it looks like he will be taking it with his father’s blessing.

So, really, a nice episode, where the only really odd thing about the whole space sailboat thing is Gul Dukat.  He appears twice, once to encourage Sisko to not risk such a dangerous journey and then later to congratulate him when some weird space phenomena allows the craft to make the journey in record time only to arrive at Cardassia Prime just as some archeological evidence was found, proving Sisko’s theory correct.  That…is awfully convenient.  It’s also Dukat being friendly, something that doesn’t happen all that often.  He’s usually there for Sisko to find at least low key annoying when circumstances don’t put them both on the same side.

As for the B-plot, it has something to do with Dr. Bashir’s feeling snubbed when the one person from his class at medical school to graduate ahead of him comes to the station and appears to snub him.  It’s fine as B-plots go.  The highlights may be Dax “accidentally” preventing Bashir from making time with new Dabo girl Leeta (in her first appearance) and how later Bashir and O’Brien go get drunk.  I didn’t think they still had alcohol to get drunk with in this time period, but I guess you can get anything when there’s Ferengi bar conveniently located near your workplace.  It ultimately turns out the woman is a fan who just didn’t recognize him.  And that, well, that works too for an episode more about character than about plot, and Bashir is a guy who would go into that deep a funk over something that, in the end, sure is silly.

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