Date: August 16, 2020
Season 6, Episodes 13 and 14
Musical Accompaniment: iTunes on random (Billy Joel, 50 Cent, Foo Fighters, Sublime, Counting Crows, Jimmy Eat World, and a bunch more).
Interstellar News: Three loads of laundry completed. Nine stretch goals and two bonuses unlocked on the “Lucky Devils/Witchy Ways” Kickstarter with 15 days to go! A fabulous friend and wonderful writer is pimping his Patreon, with a fun surprise if he gets to 60 backers… so go on and support the arts!
Favorite Quote from “Far Beyond the Stars”:
Benny: Sounds like a great life.
Jimmy: Yours ain’t no better. Writing stories about a bunch of white people living on the moon. Who cares about that?
Benny: I’m not doing that anymore. I’m writing about us.
Jimmy: What, colored people on the moon?Jimmy, asking the tough questions.
So what had happened in “Far Beyond the Stars” was…: The Cortez is destroyed and Sisko has had just about all the war he can stand, not to mention his father is visiting, Yates is on station, and Jake is around too. Sisko starts having visions, his brain has many of the same indicators it did in “Rapture”, and suddenly he’s a man named Benny Russell who is a writer in 1953 New York. Nog is a paper vendor with a glorious accent and O’Brien is a man named Albert who works at the magazine with Benny. Also at the magazine is the rest of the senior staff. Odo is Douglas the editor while the rest are writers… Quark is Herb, Kira is K.C. Hunter, and Bashir is Julius. Also present is Martok who is Roy, the artist. Benny and K.C. are asked not to be in the staff pictures lest the readers know a black man and a woman are writing for them issue after issue (waves hands in abject sarcasm and heavy eye-rolling). Roy hands them art to base their stories on for the next issue and Benny is entranced by the rendering of DS9.
On his way home Benny is stopped by two white cops (Dukat and Weyoun) who give him a hard time because he’s black and a preacher (Joseph Sisko). He writes about Deep Space Nine and heads to the diner to meet with his girlfriend Cassie (Yates), his friend Jimmy (Jake, with an absolutely awful mustache), and a baseball player named Willie (Worf) who is after Cassie. Everyone at the magazine loves the story but Douglas can’t print it because no one would believe it (even though it’s fiction) as the captain is black. Benny writes some more stories about DS9 and Albert eventually comes up with changing it so it’s a dream, that way people might want it. Unfortunately, Jimmy gets shot and Benny gets beat up by the cops. He finally makes it back to work the day his story is supposed to be published, but Douglas reports the magazine’s owner refused to even print that month’s issue and is firing Benny, who then has a nervous breakdown. Sisko wakes up in the Infirmary with a back-to-normal brain and wonders if he’s living in The Matrix or in Benny Russell’s mind at the least.
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.”: This is a damn heavy episode with racism, sexism, and a bit of religion thrown into the mix and it works wonderfully. I have always loved the episodes where the main cast get to take on different roles, one of my favorites is “The End in the Beginning” from Bones, and this one knocks it out of the park (no pun intended, sorry Worf). A lot of the characters make sense in the roles they’ve been assigned by Sisko’s brain: Nog is loud, Odo is just doing his job, Quark antagonizes Odo, Bashir is a snobby Englishman, Kira is the kick ass woman in command, Dukat and Weyoun are the bad guys, O’Brien is the fixer, Yates is his girlfriend, and his father is the man who shows him the way. The others are more interesting as Worf plays a smooth talking baseball player who is after Benny’s girl and he looks damn good in a red suit, Jake’s Jimmy reads more as the troublemaker Jake was in the first season or two – just some more adult trouble, Dax is the naive secretary who is new to the group and doesn’t quite fit in, and Martok is an artist with an incredible talent (a far cry from a Klingon warrior). The star, of course, is Benny who takes us on the journey of a talented man who is stymied by the color of his skin and eventually gives us an emotional meltdown because his life was just upended.
In the 23rd and 24th centuries no one mentions anything about the color of the Starfleet officier’s skin, if you’re human it’s groovy. While there are obvious prejudices about Klingons, shapeshifters, and Cardassians over the years no one bats an eyelash at a black captain, a Russian ensign, or a Japanese lieutenant. While there was abhorrent sexism in TOS, TNG and DS9 seem to have gotten it a little more right. Here, though, in the 1950’s we see progress is slow and in present day 2020 we’re not much better. The black and latinx communities, those who identify as LGBTQ, and women are all still earning less and are under constant scrutiny and immense pressure by the rest of society to “conform”. Those who looked “Asian” are harassed over Covid-19 just as anyone who looked “Middle Eastern” were after September 11th. It feels like nothing has changed and it’s terribly crushing. I am constantly perplexed at why I have to tell people to be kind to one another, or explaining why we should care about others. Personally I would be happy to take home less money so that someone else didn’t have to go bankrupt because they have cancer or one of their organs decided to stop working. I know that a healthy neighbor means I have a smaller chance of getting sick, so I totally want them to be able to go to the doctor and not be worried about losing their job. While we are all individuals, we also all coexist on this planet and, so far, it’s the only one we’ve got. What I do effects the lives of countless others, so maybe let’s all be kind. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? A solid 10 for this episode, and it goes onto my favorites list.
Favorite Quote from “Our Little Ship”:
Nog: Do you have a backup plan in case this doesn’t work?
Sisko: Yes. I’ll destroy the ship.
Nog: There are still a few algorithms I haven’t tried yet.Nog, not wanting to die, decides to give it another try.
So what had happened in “Our Little Ship” was…: The Defiant is going on a mission (FOR SCIENCE) where Dax, O’Brien, and Bashir will go through an anomaly that will make them suuuuuuuuuper small. Unfortunately the Defiant is attacked by the Dominion, the Rubicon is let loose from the tractor beam, and the Defiant is boarded. All but one of the Jem’Hadar are ones that were grown in the AQ and are therefore different than the GQ ones, they think they are far superior. The First (AQ) believes he’s totally in control while the Second (GQ) is suspicious and tries to pass on his wisdom, but it’s like he’s talking to a brick wall. The First gets Sisko and the others to help repair the warp drive, but of course Sisko has a plan. Meanwhile the Rubicon comes back out but is still small because they didn’t go out the way they came in, so they decide to enter the Defiant and it’s massively hysterical every time they do. O’Brien and Bashir sneak into the conduit to help reroute control to engineering, which Nog thinks he did, and a fight breaks out in the engine room. They take back the ship, go back through the “right” way so they can be large again, and they all return to DS9.
“Mr. Worf, I think your wife is here.”: This was a totally silly episode and much lighter after the previous one. I will admit the plot makes absolutely no sense because the Jem’Hadar are quick studies and there’s no way they’re this clueless about Federation technology, but I don’t actually care because it was so much fun. Nog is, rightfully, upset at Kira making fun of small things, O’Brien is as nervous as ever, and Bashir and Dax are absolutely delighted to be doing SCIENCE. Dax does some fabulous piloting and the scenes inside the conduit made the engineer in me very happy. I seriously giggled every time the tiny, tiny Rubicon was on screen… it was just so damn cute. “This guy is bugging me… pew pew” was absolutely fantastic. Sisko, of course, always has a plan and he lucked out with the half-baked Jem’Hadar of the Alpha Quadrant and his small(er) crew sneaking into the conduit. This was lots of fun and much needed, so it gets a 5 foot tall sassy Italian woman giggling for 5 minutes straight.
And now, for the best ending ever: