Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Final Arc Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Moves Closer To Perfection With “Strange Bedfellows!”

The Good: Excellent acting, Engaging plot, Good character work, Decent special effects
The Bad: Sisko’s character work.
The Basics: “Strange Bedfellows” is an engaging episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that rockets the final arc of the series in a fast-paced direction.

As Star Trek: Deep Space Nine entered its final arc, the risk that the writers and producers took with a serialized story was mitigated when the series began to move at a faster pace. With the main plot threads in place from the first two episodes in the arc, “Strange Bedfellows” arrived as a chance for the arc to truly launch and it did. In fact, “Strange Bedfellows” is an almost-perfect episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and it leads into an exceptional episode.

In fact, the only real problem with “Strange Bedfellows” comes with the Sisko character. That issue comes from a strange ignorance of the Sisko character’s history. Sisko, as most viewers know, started the series as a widower. In “Emissary” (reviewed here!), viewers watched as Sisko was forced to leave his dead wife. Sisko was married before and he is married now to Kassidy Yates. Yet, for some strange reason, writer Ronald D. Moore seems to forget that in the interactions Sisko has with Martok. Martok, who has been married the entire series and whose wife we only see once, acts as an expert on marriage and Sisko stumbles along listening to him as if he has never been married before this point.

That doesn’t work.

It is the only thing in “Strange Bedfellows” that does not work.

With Ezri and Worf turned over to the Dominion as a gift by the Breen, the Female Changeling works hard to maintain her form and conclude negotiations with the Breen. As the ship heads back to Cardassia, tensions begin to rise between Damar and Weyoun. Damar, irked at treaty concessions that give the Breen Cardassian territory and the Dominion not reinforcing Cardassian troops besieged on Septimus III, begins to solidify his dislike for the Dominion and its leadership. As Sisko and Kassidy get used to living with one another, Dukat (still disguised as a Bajoran) manipulates Kai Winn and Worf and Dax end up as prisoners on Cardassia.

As the two officers await their scheduled execution, Worf manages to kill Weyoun. When the next incarnation of Weyoun arrives, Damar makes a choice that will change everything. On Bajor, the Pah-wraiths reveal themselves to Kai Winn and Anjohl Tennan and Kai Winn makes her choice as who she will serve.

“Strange Bedfellows” seems like it would not be a great standalone episode, but it truly works. After the exceptional closing moment of “’Til Death Do Us Part” (reviewed here!), “Strange Bedfellows” picks up in a great way. The episode, despite having problems with the characterization of Sisko, is impressive in the way it uses the characters of Worf, Dax, Winn and Damar. Worf, who has the longest character arc in the Star Trek franchise, is forced to wrestle with the idea that his actions with Dax when they were stranded on the planet were not entirely honorable. He wants very much to be heroic, but in “Strange Bedfellows” he has to accept that he has some pretty base needs as well. Dax, for her part, uses her time on Cardassia to differentiate herself from Jadzia. In “Strange Bedfellows,” she comes to accept that she has romantic feelings for Bashir.

As for Kai Winn, in “Strange Bedfellows,” her arc takes the turn that makes her a full-on villain. After years of seemingly doing what she believes is to save Bajor as best she can, Winn here takes her ambitions to the next level. In “Strange Bedfellows” Winn commits to doing the wrong thing, advancing her own career instead of fighting for the soul of Bajor. This will frame her in the rest of the episodes, but in “Strange Bedfellows,” the process of watching her make that choice is very compelling.

On the other side of the episode, Damar’s character growth becomes worthwhile. Damar rejects the idea that Cardassians are somehow less than other Dominion forces. In “Strange Bedfellows,” Rene Auberjonois – who directed the episode – and writer Ron Moore sell what could be one of the most cliché moments of the final arc. Damar makes the leap to take a stand and in that moment, when he sets aside his alcohol, Moore and Auberjonois land what could be a real obvious moment.

It is also Casey Biggs who sell the moment where Damar takes a stand. Casey Biggs has a pretty incredible character arc and as Damar illustrates his real love for Cardassia, Biggs gets the chance to shine as Damar. In “Strange Bedfellows,” he not only proves that Damar is a vital character, he shows that his ability to perform is exceptional. In fact, “Strange Bedfellows” has all of the actors performing at their peaks.

“Strange Bedfellows” also represents the final point in the last arc that one can reasonably jump into the series. From this point, it’s all one story and to understand those episodes, you need this one. This is part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

[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 a complete listing of all the Star Trek episode, movie and season reviews, check out my specialized Index Page!

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

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