Wednesday, January 18, 2012

“Apocalypse Rising:” The Mission To Save The Empire

The Good: Excellent make-up, Great acting, Clever character work, Decent reversal
The Bad: Somewhat simple plot
The Basics: When Sisko leads a mission to reveal the nature of Gowron, he takes a disgruntled and depressed team deep into the Klingon Empire.

At the end of the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the crew of the space station was the closest it ever had been. The station was a crew of outcasts thrust together with no one but each other: Sisko's girlfriend had betrayed him and was in prison, Kira was pregnant through no fault of her own with the O'Brien's baby, Worf was cast out from the Klingon Empire, Odo was made human in judgment for his crimes against the Founders, Quark was pushed out by the Ferengi Commerce Authority. Indeed, Bashir and Dax seem the two most well-adjusted, but they have nowhere else they would rather be than on DS9 or near Sisko, respectively.

When Odo revealed that Gowron, leader of the Klingon High Council, was a Changeling, it became fairly obvious that he would need to be stopped right away in the new season. Sisko, determined to reveal Gowron as a Changeling, assembles a team to infiltrate one of the most heavily guarded Klingon installations: Ty Gokor. Sisko is surgically altered to appear Klingon, as are Odo and O'Brien. Worf then gives them tips on "being" Klingon and the quartet journey's with Gul Dukat into the heart of the Empire. Once there, Sisko learns things may be more complicated and revealing the Changeling infiltrator may well cost him, and his team, his life.

This is a great piece of character work and it manages to be both intriguing, clever and funny all at the same time. Usually, comedies suffer upon rewatching because the viewer knows where the jokes are coming and what they will be. While Odo and O'Brien attempt to learn posture and voice for being a Klingon, the result is funny. More than that, it fits their respective characters. Neither one is a forceful, loud person and that is part of being an essential Klingon.

Beyond the attempts to portray Klingons, "Apocalypse Rising" does a truly great job of representing the consequences of Odo being made human. He is depressed in his new role and his fascination with all of the things he once neglected, taste for example, is quite realistic and clever to see.

A large portion of the believability of Odo's plight is put in the hands of Rene Auberjonois and he easily lives up to the potential. Auberjonois uses his eyes, especially, to captivate Odo's sense of wonder over all that is new. Add to that, he does a great job at keeping his posture broken and that creates the element of depression in Odo almost as well as his voice. It's a powerful transformation that has come over the usually rigid Constable and it is very easy to watch this episode and see the differences in the two characters.

But Auberjonois' acting is not the only great acting in "Apocalypse Rising." Both Avery Brooks, who instantly gets into Sisko playing a Klingon, and Colm Meany, who plays O'Brien as even more soft-spoken after his Klingon transformation, give wonderful and memorable performances. Instead of seeming like actors acting in a new way, the pair plays it like their characters trying to act and it works out very well, coming across perfectly as Sisko and O'Brien trying their hands at acting. And that, I believe, is the essence of truly great acting.

Each season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine seems to have a different flavor and season five could have been titled, "A Shift In the Balance of Power." It begins with a bang here in "Apocalypse Rising" and it is remarkably accessible to those who are not fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Instead of being terribly isolating, despite being a rather deep plot line, "Apocalypse Rising" may be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good political thriller.

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


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my specialized index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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