Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making "Progress" On Star Trek Deep Space Nine!

The Good: Solid character development, Good acting, Interesting plots
The Bad: Predictable arc, Lame humor
The Basics: While barely part of the essential episodes of the series, "Progress" is a neglected episode that is very watchable and excellent in character development.

"Progress" is, quite simply, the best neglected episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Well, it's definitely the most neglected first season episode. When people compile lists of the top ten episodes, it never makes it in, it's never on the bottom either. It is, however, a very good episode of the show and it starts the repeated mention of "self-sealing stem bolts." Okay, that part is not terribly relevant.

"Progress" puts Kira back in the spotlight as she is forced to remove a grumpy old man from his farm on one of the planets in the Bajoran system. Having fled there with his friends during the Occupation, Mullibok is resistant to leave the planet which needs to be tapped for energy and will soon be inhabitable.

Major Kira, upon finding him resistant, stays with him to try to convince him the right thing, the one that benefits the greatest good, is to leave. The problem isn't as lame as it sounds as Mullibok continually compares Kira to the Cardassians and how they pushed him around. It's a potentially simple plot that is turned into a far more complex character issue. The writer of "Progress" pulls that transition from the simple "what is happening" to "How it affects our people" extraordinarily well.

In a very competent B-plot, Nog and Jake learn basic bartering when Quark dumps a rather huge shipment of yamak sauce (which it takes until the fifth season finale before someone finally asks what a "yamak" is!) and Nog is responsible for getting rid of it. In the process, Nog becomes determined to make some profit and together, he and Jake make trades to finally get them some gold pressed latinum.

The episode is psychologically heavy, but visually bright and interspersed with the much lighter b-plot. It's an entertaining episode and a must for anyone interested in sociology. The effect of mixing the a and b plots works well, taking the edge off the heavy potential that Kira will not be allowed back at the station.

Mullibok is excellently portrayed by Brian Keith. Keith infuses crustiness to Mullibok that is above and beyond the simple words on the page of the script. The episode is stolen by Brian Keith, but it would be far less without the acting talents of Nana Visitor as Major Kira. Visitor does a great job of playing deadpan against the emotive Keith, accenting the conflict visually.

Part of the essential Deep Space Nine solely on the basis of character development and the sheer number of allusions made throughout the series to events in this episode. Very accessible to those who aren't fans of the series. Good for anyone who likes a good story about challenging the perceptions of who we are in relation to our jobs.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete First Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the first season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, movie, or DVD set reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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