Monday, 22 September 2014

Necessary Evil written by Peter Allan Fields and directed by James L. Conway

What’s it about: An attempted murder attempt on Quark leads to an old investigation re-opening for Odo…

Single Father: The good cop/bad cop scene where Sisko and Odo interrogate Rom sees the two of them working together to create magic. 

Unknown Sample: The best spotlight on Odo yet and one that manages to show him at his investigative best in the now and explore his past in a way that feels perfectly in keeping with where he ends up. Try saying that sentence three times fast. I love his cutting wit and insults towards Rom and he seems to understand the Ferengi mind to such an extent that he can manipulate him into giving him at least some information even when there is so little to extract. However whilst all the scenes with Odo in the present are flawlessly written and performed all the meat is to be found in the Occupation scenes that show us how Odo came to be on the Station and his first meeting with Dukat, Kira and Quark. He left the Bajoran scientist who looked after him because he thought he could learn more on his own. He understands there is very little justice in the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor but tries to see to it that he can squeeze a little in where he can. He’s a fantastic observer of humanoid behaviour which makes him an ideal investigator for Dukat. Odo understands why Kira lied to him during the Occupation but not why she hasn’t admitted the truth since the Cardassians have left. Where this leaves their friendship, I can't wait to see. 

Tasty Terrorist: It's brilliant to be able to see the terrorist Kira that we have heard so much about and memorably her first meeting with Odo sees her refusing what she thinks is an attempt to whore her out. She tries to manipulate Odo into sympathising with her by forcing him to choose sides in the Cardassian/Bajoran conflict. She has tried to tell Odo the truth about killing Vatrik many times but what he thinks of her means a lot to Kira and she thought admitting the truth would affect their friendship. Kira isn't often apologetic so Odo must mean a great deal to her.

Community Leader: Another great use of Quark but this time in a much darker role than usual. We learn that he ran black market trade throughout the Occupation but he was kind to the ladies (probably expecting some favours in return). Rather grotesquely he starts stroking his ears at the talk of personal gratitude (which is the Ferengi equivalent of a human stroking his crotch). 

Secret Genius: Once again Rom steps out of his brothers shadow and proves that he is far smarter than anybody ever suspected. Quark’s slack jawed reaction to Rom outthinking him during the chemist shop robbery is hilarious. He’s such a wonderful idiot that he doesn’t see the subtext in Odo accusations his part in Quark’s attempted murder until it is too late. Once he realises he could inherit the bar he tries to convince Odo that Quark wouldn’t want to be kept alive by artifical means. Still has quite a dark side at this point then. 

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Commence Station Security Log. At the request of Commander Sisko I will hereafter be recording a daily log of law enforcement affairs. The reason for this exercise is beyond my comprehension except perhaps that humans have a compulsion to keep records and lists and files, so many in fact that they have find ways of storing them microscopically otherwise their records would overrun all known civilisation. My own very adequate memory not being good enough for Starfleet, I am pleased to put my voice to this official to this day; everything’s under control. End Log’ – funniest voiceover in Star Trek. Ever.
‘Clear you mind of anything in it…if there’s anything there…’
‘The Ferengi holds onto life like its gold pressed latinum.’
‘Are these kinds of thoughts appropriate for a Starfleet Log? I don’t care…’
The Good: My hubbie thinks that that this episode has one of the best openings to any Trek episode and he’s not far wrong…a crack of thunder, a lightning flash and the silhouette of a woman looking out at a storm. The opening voiceover from Odo is complimented by a moody waltz along the Promenade after hours before finally closing in on Odo outside the security office – James Conway’s handling of this episode is simply masterful. Quark being shot is a shocking moment because the intention was to murder him (so many gunfights in Star Trek look like people playing games) and because the stunt that sees him flying backwards across the bar is very effectively handled. The framing of the scenes from the current date to the time of the Occupation are effortlessly achieved (achieved in transition scenes of the way Odo is standing, kids playing, people laughing in both time zones, etc). How bleak and oppressive does the Station look under Cardassian rule – the cinematography is so good you would think that they were completely new sets. I wouldn't want the station to look this oppressive every week but for an occasional visit it is visually arresting. To discover it is Kira that Mrs Vatrik is pointing the finger at for her husbands death comes as a total surprise – I love how this episode can pull revelations like this out of no where. The episode deliberately holds back showing Kira in either time period to make the shock doubly effective. The script ties up all its loose beautifully with the list turning out to be a list of Bajoran collaborators that Mrs Vatrik wanted to blackmail (and get her power back on). The moment when Dukat almost walks in on Kira’s confession at being a terrorist always makes me gasp every time. I genuinely feels as if her chips are up despite the fact that we know they aren't. What a brilliant action sequence in the Infirmary with the Deputy being stabbed so hard it pins him to the wall, Quark being smothered with a cushion and Rom being tossed into all manner of surgical equipment. Is this the DS9 episode that simply has everything?

The Bad: Bashir’s ER moment when he shouts at everybody for information is the only weak element.

Moment to Watch Out For: The legendary first meeting between Odo and Quark which is every bit as good as you would imagine and sets them off on precisely the wrong foot. Lies, threats and insults…it's easy to see how resentment brewed between these two acquaintances. Also the little smile on Quark’s face when Rom screams with frustration at saving his life is perfect. And the enigmatic last scene that leaves the shocking twist hanging in the air between two friends who thought they could trust each other. Let's just shove the whole episode in this section. 

Only DS9: No other Star Trek show has a location with such a rich history and looking back at the Station's uncomfortable past helps to remind us how much better things are now with the Federation in charge without ever feeling the need to say it.

Foreboding: There would be more drama provoked from this period in the season five episode Things Past.

Result: A top class episode in every respect. The script, performances, direction, lighting, set dressing, pacing…everything is of such a high standard it raises the bar of what ‘normal’ episodes of Star Trek (ie non event) can achieve. The way the story weaves between two timelines is expertly achieved by both scriptwriter Peter Allan Fields and director James L. Conway and the insight into Odo, Kira and Quark (and to a lesser extent but in no way less valuable, Rom) is priceless. At times you will genuinely believe you are in a black and white film noir because the voice overs, camerawork and lighting are so successful at evoking the genre. We have never seen material as moody as the Occupation scenes before in Trek and after much discussion of the events of this time it is something of miracle that these scenes not only aren’t a disappointment but are some of the best yet for this show. It's all of these things and a great mystery too with a twist ending that shows a regular character in a less than flattering light. I need reminding sometimes that Star Trek can be this good, so much of it is formulaic but when it is at its best like Necessary Evil it is simply the best television has to offer: 10/10

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