Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Klingons Take The Lead And A Risky Path “When It Rains . . .”!

The Good: Excellent character work, Great acting, Generally decent plot
The Bad: Gowron’s character arc seems suddenly altered to service the plot.
The Basics: “When It Rains . . .” finds the Alpha Quadrant defended solely by the Klingons and an underground movement of Cardassians, which is likely not enough to save the galaxy!

There are very few times that the characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were reworked to service the plot of an episode or arc. Dukat was retroactively weakened by episodes like “Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night” (reviewed here!). After all, Gul Dukat is initially characterized as exceptionally intelligent, with a photographic memory. Yet, if he had seen Kira in the time period of “Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night,” it seems reasonable that at some point after he met her following “Necessary Evil,” he would have put together that she was familiar to him. The only other real example of a character being altered to service a plot is Gowron in “When It Rains . . .”

In “When It Rains . . .,” Gowron is suddenly transformed from an ambitious, smart leader into a crazed gloryhound. It is easy to understand why writer Rene Echevarria made the change; it leads to a far more heroic character arc for Martok. I like Martok and “When It Rains . . .” sets him on his final path, but it is in the reworking of Gowron’s character to service the plot of “When It Rains . . .” that the episode falls a bit flat. Fortunately, the Klingon plotline is not all that “When It Rains . . .” focuses on!

Following the disastrous losses in the Chintoka System, the hopes of the Alpha Quadrant now rest firmly on Damar’s dissident movement and the Klingons. Analyzing the assault on the Chintoka System, the Klingons have identified a modification that makes their ships immune to the Breen energy dampening weapon. The Klingons, then, make the modification to all their ships to hold the line. Meanwhile, in Cardassian space, Damar and his allies have gone into hiding and Sisko wants to send him help. That help takes the form of Kira, Garak and Odo. Before they leave, Odo leaves a sample of himself with Bashir.

When Kira and her team arrive at the hidden Cardassian base, they are met with hostility by Damar’s lieutenant, Gul Rusot. Despite that, Damar wants very much for Kira to teach his team how to create a useful resistance against the Dominion. On Bajor, Dukat becomes impatient with Winn’s attempts to discern the Book Of The Kosst Amogen and looks inside, getting blinded by the book. Bashir makes a startling discovery when he is studying Odo and he tries to get Odo’s medical records from StarFleet Medical. When Gowron arrives on the station, he pitches a plan to go on the offensive, a plan that puts everyone on edge.

“When It Rains . . .” is dark, but exceptionally watchable. The episode has an excellent sense of pace and it is clearly building to something. In many ways, “When It Rains . . .” is the The Empire Strikes Back of the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is where the characters seem like they are at their lowest and, overall, they are. This is the episode where the Federation and Romulans are powerless and the bulk of the crew is actually trapped on the space station, thanks to a climactic event in the prior episode. Odo is diagnosed with the illness that is plaguing his people and when Bashir is able to analyze that, he learns an even more horrible truth.

It might seem like things are all right for Kira, but she and Odo experience some sensation of torsion in “When It Rains . . .” Goaded by Rusot, “When It Rains . . .” forces Kira to consider Odo in a different, uncomfortable, light. Odo, while only suffering from the illness in a way that he is still able to hide it from Kira, still begins to show some wear. Bashir is horribly disillusioned, Dukat is blinded and Winn is pretty much lost. “When It Rains . . .” has the characters at a low point that, for most of them, begins to turn around as the arc continues.

“When It Rains . . .” is well-directed by Michael Dorn and he gets decent performances out of the entire cast. Nicole de Boer, who is the newest member of the ensemble, does well in her brief scene as Dax, opposite Bashir. While viewers may be frustrated by how the episode does not yet conclusive move the budding Dax/Bashir relationship forward, this is not de Boer’s fault and the episode realistically progresses the relationship as best it can.

Dorn also does a decent job of establishing the new relationship between Garak, Odo and Kira and the way Damar interacts with them. “When It Rains . . .” opens up the potential for Damar to truly feel vital. Earlier in the final arc, Casey Biggs made Damar interesting, but Dorn gets him to play Damar in a way that balances what viewers know about the character with what they might only suspect at this point. Damar is, in many ways, a pragmatist in “When It Rains . . .,” and he has to balance that with his sense of patriotism. Such complexity has been lacking from Damar, but in “When It Rains . . .” it comes full bloom. Damar, the character who killed Ziyal in the attempt to motivate Dukat to evacuate, has truly evolved and “When It Rains . . .” is evidence of that.

“When It Rains . . .” is an essential chapter of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and it is vital to the final arc for the character aspects, performances and plot progression.

[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, movie and season reviews, be sure to visit my Index Page for organized listings!

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