#DS91sttime: Season 4, Episode 8, “Little Green Men”

October 24, 2013 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

Initial communication attempts. DS9, Season Four, Ep 8: "Little Green Men"

Initial communication attempts. DS9, Season Four, Ep 8: “Little Green Men”

Here’s an episode that sees Quark, Rom, and Nog getting thrown backward in time and winding up at the center of the Roswell alien\weather balloon conspiracy. This the kind of script that one imagines had the showrunners in such stitches that they couldn’t help but give it a shot. You just have to respect the guts to run this episode. Someone was willing to take a big chance. It’s almost a crazy risk.

The end result? Crazy-funny. I was aware that what I was watching was ridiculous, but much like “Explorers”, I just didn’t care. I was having a great time.

The journey to this insane destination starts with Quark being delivered a shuttle from Gaila, a cousin of his. We don’t see Gaila in this episode, and the transaction occurs off-camera while Nog prepares to head off to Starfleet Academy. The young Ferengi is auctioning off his belongings in a kind of coming of age ritual, and Quark–in what at first looks like a sincere, sweet gesture–promises to fly him to Starfleet Academy himself.

Only it isn’t a selfless gesture, which was disappointing (I’d hoped this time that Quark might break the mold a little), and Quark’s choice of illegal cargo leads to an accident during the journey. This was expected, of course–there is no such thing as a routine trip on DS9–and when Rom attempts to save everyone’s lives, he inadvertently throws the ship through a time warp, and into my least-favorite of all overused Trek tropes. If you’ve read the review series to this point, you know I think time-jump stories are over-employed. This time, I’ll give the show a pass.

Our three Ferengi wake up in Roswell, New Mexico, sometime in 1947, and here the fun really starts. We’ve got some great moments with the Ferengi trying to understand the Earthlings, accusations and misgivings on each side, and some tech-geek hilarity as the universal translators wildly malfunction. Then Quark starts wheeling and dealing on weapons contracts and offers of other advanced technology, which was wonderfully appropriate and had me in stitches.

Good on Quark. He can make a fortune here, and has no qualms about doing so. He’s immune to Nog’s pleas to avoid fouling up the timeline. It’s exactly what he should do as a character–it would have been disappointing to see him take a Federation-like stance. He sees piles of gold-pressed latinum, and if that upsets civilization as we know it, who cares? He with the most toys, and such.

They've got their best minds working on this.

They’ve got their best minds working on this.

Opposite our Ferengi are a number of convincing Earthlings, with appropriate responses to the situation at hand. The lovely nurse, Faith Garland, is sympathetic, the doctor detached and fascinated, and the lantern-jawed General and his staff much more suspicious. I knew there was something familiar about these characters, and I was right–the episode notes over on Memory Alpha indicate they were deliberately drawn from classic atomic-age scifi flicks. That’s a nice touch.

Of course Quark’s plans of avarice don’t survive long, and Nog’s quick thinking leads through a number of funny moments into a ridiculous finale, and by then you’re holding your sides. This is Deep Space Nine having let its hair down, completely relaxed into popcorn-chomping territory.

Comedic episodes are always dangerous for a science fiction show, because the word “stupid” floats ever-close, and many viewers are all too happy to use it. Here, Deep Space Nine‘s staff eschewed caution, and fell in love with the audacity of what they were doing.

…And spun gold-pressed comedy all the way to the credits.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

See the rest of the review series here.

"Beacon" Part IA young couple’s miracle at the last star left in the Universe will lead to a specter from the past returning to confront mankind…and the end will become the beginning. Try Part I of the Beacon Saga Serial, for your choice of ebook platforms.