Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Didn’t We Do This Already? “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” Repeats And Improves!

The Good: Excellent b-story, Good character development, Decent acting, Wonderful special effects
The Bad: A-plot essentially repeats a prior episode, In order for the b-plot to work, O’Brien is treated as something of a dimwit.
The Basics: “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” might not be the best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ever, but it does present a vital portion of the ongoing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine storyline!

One of the nice aspects of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is that it seldom repeated itself; the characters developed and moved on. Thus, it is always surprising to me when I am rewatching the series and I come to “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River.” “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” is a seventh-season episode that essentially recasts “Progress” (reviewed here!) from the first season. With an a-plot modeled after that episode’s b-plot, “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” seems like it might be a tough sell and, initially, it is.

Rather smartly, “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” features a b-plot that actually makes it part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This seemingly innocuous episode cements the distrust between Damar and Weyoun and introduces the key elements that will lead to the conclusion of the Dominion War and the ultimate resolution of Odo’s character arc. Snuck in in an unsubtle way that is far more obvious in-context, “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” takes a simple plot and makes it work by redirecting slipping in essential character and plot information.

When Odo is called off-station by a Cardassian informant he believed was killed by the Dominion, he is surprised to find himself in a clandestine meeting instead with Weyoun, the Vorta leader of the Dominion’s war effort in the Alpha Quadrant. Weyoun insists that he has never actually met Odo and that he wants to defect from the Dominion. When their location is compromised, Odo flees with Weyoun. With Jem’Hadar ships on their tails, Odo works to keep Weyoun alive in a frozen asteroid field while Weyoun provides him with details that might help Odo turn the tide of the war.

As Odo tries to stay alive, aboard Deep Space Nine, Chief O’Brien is finding it virtually impossible to keep up with the requests of various ship captains, most notably Martok, for repairs. In desperate need of supplies, he turns to Nog, who tries to illustrate how O’Brien can get all they want through bartering. Through a series of trades, Nog illustrates the Ferengi belief in the great material continuum, while robbing Sisko of his desk, Martok of his blood wine and O’Brien of pretty much all his patience!

The a-plot involving Nog and O’Brien in “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” is essentially the same as the b-plot from “Progress” wherein Nog and Jake bartered their way from yamak sauce to land ownership. In “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River,” Jake is replaced by O’Brien and Nog illustrates how using charisma and meeting the wants of those who have the things one needs, they are able to get things that are not otherwise available. The “Great River” portion of “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” has been done before and while it enhances Nog’s character, it makes O’Brien seem surprisingly dimwitted. For such a creative engineer, O’Brien is portrayed as surprisingly uncreative in “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River.”

That said, the b-plot of “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” easily redeems whatever stale elements the a-plot possesses. When Odo and Weyoun are paired together, truths begin coming out that help frame the rest of the series. It is in “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” that both Weyoun and the other Weyoun and Damar reveal that the Female Shapeshifter appears to have taken ill. Confused as to what may have caused this, Weyoun (the one with Damar) puts on a brave face, even as the Female Shapeshifter is seen illustrating some difficulty with maintaining her form. The Weyoun who is with Odo fears that with the godlike Female Shapeshifter ill, perhaps the Vorta have been serving the wrong god and he pledges his allegiance to Odo.

Weyoun illustrates his allegiance in delightfully pragmatic ways. In “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River,” a Runabout destroys a Jem’Hadar attack ship and that is pretty badass. With intelligence from Weyoun, Odo gets the technical information needed to really change the war effort.

But “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” also smartly utilizes the characters of the characters. Odo is characteristically resistant to Weyoun’s subservience, but the moment Weyoun mentions the Founder illness, Odo seems genuinely concerned about his people. This affords Rene Auberjonois an opportunity to really shake up his performance. In reacting to Jeffrey Combs’ Weyoun, Auberjonois is able to portray sadness and a begrudging respect that makes his character appear less monolithic than he could otherwise come off as.

“Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” also affords greater opportunities for Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs to play off one another. In some of the most subtle and arch scenes in “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River,” Damar and Weyoun insinuate that Damar might have known the prior Weyoun was going to be assassinated. Biggs expertly plays off the usually more comical Combs. Biggs is able to keep Damar interesting by delivering many of his lines with a very subtle sense of irony that makes it clear his character is tired of being pushed around.

Evem so, much of “Treachery, Faith, And The Great River” is less inspired than the rest of the season and the episode is more useful as it lays the groundwork for what follows than being a great episode on its own.

[Knowing that the season is a much better investment, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which provides the full story for the conclusion to the series. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode reviews, please be sure to visit my Star Trek Review Index Page where the reviews are organized by quality of the episode/movie!

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