December 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Rocks And Shoals”

Sisko finds himself stuck on a planet with some Jem'Haddar and a wounded Vorta.

Paramount+ is now the exclusive home to all Star Trek streaming as near as I can make out, and for the most part, that’s been working out fine for me.  But then when I went to start the second episode of the season, I saw Worf and Dax making out, a strange thing since the previous episode ended with the two separated and Dax stuck on a damaged ship deep in enemy space with no warp drive.

Yeah, the series was finally getting into something like multi-episode storyarcs and the service had the episodes out of order.  Good thing I recognized it.

As with the season premier, the second episode splits the cast with Sisko and his group fighting for their literal survival in enemy territory while Kira and the others on the station are seeking something along the lines of finding a moral place to stand while the Dominion controls the station.  Kira’s life isn’t in danger–yet–but she is in a position where she might have been the sort of person her younger self would have hated.  Religious Bajorans are deeply opposed to the Dominion parking themselves on the station, and when a Vedek commits suicide on the station as a form of protest, it pushes Kira to decide to start a resistance group with Odo.  It says something that Kira the insurrectionist somehow temporarily became Kira the collaborator.

The Kira stuff is good stuff, but it usually is.  But then there’s Sisko, finding himself stuck on a planet when his stolen Dominion ship crashes there.  His crew all manage to make it out alive for the time being, but Dax is severely injured and will need proper medical care that Bashir can’t give them where they are.  However, as Garek and Nog discover the hard way, they aren’t alone on this planet:  another Dominion ship crashed there, and there are about ten Jem’Haddar soldiers and an injured Vorta down there with them.  In an amusing turn, the Jem”Haddar capture Garek and Nog, and Garek’s attempts to lie their way to freedom has the opposite of its intended effect while Nog’s honesty will keep the two alive.  The Vorta wants to exchange the pair for Bashir and Sisko.  Bashir will give the Vorta medical care.  Sisko he just wants to talk to.

There’s something to be said about how Sisko sees the Jem’Haddar and the Vorta, and he isn’t wrong.  Sisko would rather deal with the Jem’Haddar, particularly their semi-outspoken commander Remata’Klan, played by the always-welcome Phil Morris.  The Jem’Haddar are not a deep people, but they do have something of an honor code if they manage to live long enough.  If anything, they sometimes come across as tragic.  They don’t ask to be what they are, completely subservient to the Vorta and the Founders, largely expendable, and entirely dependent on Ketracel White to more or less stay sane.  But they are, bottom line, soldiers.  Sisko can deal with soldiers.

The Vorta, on the other hand, are generally shifty, self-serving weasels.  This Vorta, Keevan, has an offer for Sisko.  He’s running out of Ketracel White.  The Jem’Haddar will, as a result, eventually go berserk and kill anything that moves until finally turning on each other.  He also has a damaged transmitter.  He’ll surrender to the Federation and live out the rest of the war in a comfortable Federation POW camp, but the Jem”Haddar will be ordered to attack the Starfleet personnel no matter what.  It will be easy for Sisko to take the Jem’Haddar out, and afterwards, O’Brien can probably repair Keevan’s damaged transmitter and allow the Starfleet personnel to get home.

Not a bad route, truth be told.  It just involves Sisko ordering his people to kill a bunch of enemy soldiers walking into an obvious trap.  That doesn’t sit well, and he tries to get out of it by talking to Remata’Klan, telling the Jem”Haddar leader that, well, Keevan is betraying him.  Sisko has firsthand knowledge of Jem’Haddar turning on their Vorta.

That reveal, well, Remata’Klan isn’t the slightest bit surprised, and he can’t go against his programming.  He and his people will still walk into the trap.  He can’t say no to a Vorta, even one that clearly doesn’t deserve it.  The best Sisko can offer is to give the dead Jem’Haddar a decent burial.

This is war after all.  No one is getting out of this with clean hands.