Thursday, June 03, 2004

Spike TV Less Respect For Continuity Than Even Trek Writers

Star Trek is no doubt one of the most vibrant imaginary universes to be found in science fiction due to the franchise’s intriguing characters and willingness to explore the importance of moral values while most shows on TV won’t even acknowledge their existence. But despite the complexity of this mythos, continuity and consistency have never exactly been a top priority of its visionaries and imagineers.

Early on in Star Trek: The Next Generation, its hinted at that the Klingons had joined the Federation; yet later on it seems they are not part of that cosmic body but merely allied with it when it suits the Empire’s interests. Some have argued that the current series, Enterprise, barely fits into Trek orthodoxy at all since up until a few years ago it was assumed that Captain Kirk’s spaceship was the first interstellar vessel to bare that name. The failure to synchronize the various interpretations and versions has become so obvious to a number of fans that many of the novels publish a disclaimer that these books might not even fit into official Trek canon.

Recently Spike TV began airing episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Though not the most popular Trek series since unlike other versions it’s set on a space station rather than a ship (thus considerably curtailing the opportunity to explore strange worlds and all that other), the program is not without its compelling aspects since as an orbital habitat the stories deal more with how interplanetary relations and politics develop over time.

Since it had been awhile since I had seen the show, I was anticipating seeing the episodes in order because, even though each is a self-contained one or two part story, many contain interconnected plot elements contributing to a larger comprehensive narrative spanning the course of the series.

The series begins with the Federation assisting the Bajorans after the withdrawal of the Cardassians. A wormhole cutting across the galaxy is discovered, making Bajor a strategically important planet.

As the newly discovered quadrant of the Milky Way is explored, those exploring it increasingly hear about an unfamiliar power known as the Dominion. They are unveiled at the end of the second and beginning of the third season.

Tensions build between the Federation and the Dominion throughout the third season, only to be downplayed as a war breaks out between the Klingons and Cardassians, shattering the alliance between the Klingons and the Federation. It eventually comes out that the Klingons were manipulated by the Dominion into the war with the Cardassians.

The Cardassian and Romulan intelligence services, the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar, try to launch a surprise attack against the Dominion but have their respective fleets wiped out as the Dominion was waiting for them. The Dominion vows vengeance against the Cardassians.

The Federation, Klingons, and Cardassians prepare for a Dominion assault on Cardassia only to learn that an influential Cardassian military officer has struck a deal with the Dominion for Cardassia to join the Dominion as a subservient Vichy-style puppet regime. The last season or so focuses on the war between the Federation, Klingons, and eventually the Romulans against the Dominion, Cardassians, and Breen.

As non-Trekkies or even Trekkies not fond of Deep Space Nine can deduce, enjoyment of the series is optimized when rebroadcasts are viewed in order. Things seemed to be going well with the first season’s worth episodes and perhaps a few into the next. However, it really grabbed my attention when the episode aired was the one where the crew finds what turns out to be a Jem Hadar baby.

I know I hadn’t seen since the series’ rebroadcast the episodes where the Jem Hadar make their debut since they rank among the best as these introduce the Dominion and reveal that Odo, the head of station security, is a member of the race of alien shape-shifters known as the Founders who rule the Dominion with an iron fist. Shame, though, even this formidable galactic empire doesn’t have the power to make sure the episodes are shown in the right order.

Copyright 2004 by Frederick Meekins

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