#DS91sttime: Season 4, Episode 7, “Starship Down”

October 16, 2013 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

Worf and enlisted men = challenges. DS9, Season Four, Ep 7: "Starship Down"

Worf and enlisted men = challenges. DS9, Season Four, Ep 7: “Starship Down”

Every show has them: episodes that ignite neither passion, nor derision. They usually have a few nice moments, but on the whole, there is nothing extraordinary to be seen. Ladies and gents, I give you “Starship Down”, a nice episode, with nice character development, and nice special effects, and a nice guest star turn by James Cromwell (albeit in alien makeup, so only his voice and stature give him away). It’s…nice.

Also nice are the special effects. After the fact, I went and confirmed what I’d thought–this is the most cgi-laden of any Trek episode to that point. Everything looks slick, although–and this is a continued beef of mine–the Jem’Hadar ships still seem to need more character. They’re flat, vaguely insectoid, and lit up in purple. Every time one of them makes an attack run on the Defiant, it looks like it’s been steam-pressed.

And there are a lot of attack runs in this episode, by the way. The setup is red meat for an action junkie: the Karemma, who trade with the Federation via Ferengi middlemen, are upset about certain business transactions, and have called a meeting at a remote planetary orbit. This all goes off the rails when the Jem’Hadar show up and spoil the party, and the entire mosh pit sinks into the depths of a gas giant. There’s the usual trading of weapons fire, the flashing and sparking of panels, the deaths of disposable ensigns, etc.

Soon the situation rips everyone out of their comfort zones, and gathers different groups for the drama that lies ahead. Bashir and Dax are trapped near an emergency forcefield that might fold at any moment–though, oddly, when it does the incoming gas doesn’t arrive with near the force we were led to suspect. Elsewhere, Worf barks at enlisted engineers while O’Brien gives him a crash course in a softer approach. Up on the bridge, Kira tries to keep a critically-wounded Sisko from slipping into unconsciousness. And down in the conference room (or mess hall), Quark and James-freakin’-may-I-remind-you-Cromwell (as the Karemma ambassador) try to disarm a surprisingly phallic torpedo that’s lodged itself in the hull.

This carving-up of the cast (and having them handle oddball dilemmas) is very familiar to ST:TNG fans as the same template used in that show’s excellent Season 5 episode, “Disaster”. Comparisons should be made, but I won’t.

What I will say is that of these disparate groups, the most-effective scenes are probably those with O’Brien and Worf, even if Michael Dorn still looks wholly unsure if he should be on this show or not. If it is his misgivings coming through, then they actually work in favor of moments like this.

Nana Visitor (pictured, Kira) and Armin Shimerman (Quark) provide the episode's high points.

Nana Visitor (pictured, Kira) and Armin Shimerman (Quark) provide the episode’s high points.

Less noteworthy are Bashir and Dax’s consignment to a closet–they’re basically left with nothing to do–and the Kira/Sisko moments on the bridge, which just felt forced. Sisko and Kira have a much better scene at the end of this episode, after everything’s been wrapped up neatly.

A little too neatly, really. While the action was enjoyable, you’d think the cat was out of the bag, and the Karemma would be nervous about a pending invasion from the Dominion. The Jem’Hadar wouldn’t send word of their engagement? There wouldn’t be a changeling, on-planet, that would get wind of this conspiracy to deal goods to the Feds? Something doesn’t add up.

Maybe we’ll see the sum in a later episode.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

See the rest of the review series here.

cindered_souls_200pxA serial arsonist encounters a copycat with a deadly secret (“Consumed”). A terrible force stalks an isolated North Dakota widower (“The Encroacher”). Father and son battle for survival at the lonely apex of “The Eighteenth Floor” (an honorable mention for Best Horror of the Year, Volume 1). Read these and other tales in Cindered Souls, author Jonathan C. Gillespie’s collection of short-fiction horror.