Two-Year Mission: “A Simple Investigation”/”Business as Usual”/”Ties of Blood and Water”

I’ve decided to call this Star Trek blog series “Two-Year Mission” because, you know… five-year mission. When I finish off Enterprise and finally Discovery this summer, it will have been two years since I decided to jump into daily exercise viewings of Trek with “The Man Trap” in summer 2016. And a blog series just isn’t a blog series without a big important gimmicky name, is it?

Anyway, it looks like that big shift in Deep Space 9‘s status quo was so huge that they had to follow it up with a bunch of smaller, character-focused episodes to recover. I’m a little lukewarm on these, though. That said, I do appreciate all the little nods to minor serial continuity I keep seeing. They actually carried through with the idea of O’Brien forcing Bashir to play darts while standing further away from the board as a genetic-augment handicap, for example. I love that. Unfortunately…

“A Simple Investigation”

…as much as I like Constable Odo, I had a hard time investing myself too deeply into this one. The hook had promise — Odo finally encounters a woman with whom he connects, drawing on his experiences as a “solid” — but the chances of the outcome being anything short of “Odo gets his heart broken” hovered around zero from the start. There’s just no way a guest character with a shady background was about to become a regular… not when Sisko already had one of those as his main squeeze for a while. And I sympathize with Odo too much to enjoy episodes that seem to exist just to kick him around.

“Business as Usual”

Whereas on the other hand, I have zero sympathy for Quark, the central character of this episode. I get that the showrunners wanted a character who exists outside human morality as a window into how the galaxy views the Federation’s patronizing colonialism. And in that light, I’m glad Quark hasn’t wholly subscribed to the human way of life. That said… the things that make him unique also make me not really care about him as a character. I’ve really grown to love his family, Rom and Nog, but Quark? Eh. I’m always disappointed when he does something horrible and wriggles his way out of the brig. I see the next episode on the queue has the word “Ferengi” in the title, so I’m already bracing myself for tomorrow.

I did love the subplot of O’Brien being unable to set down his infant son without the baby caterwauling — it’s way too real. I’ve never been a parent myself, but I’ve been helping out with my cousin-in-law’s new daughter since last summer, and I’ve seen this in action. (I’ve become the family’s official Baby Whisperer, because… well, you’ve heard my voice on podcasts or videos; I can talk a fussy infant to sleep in a matter of minutes).

The scene where O’Brien sets Yoshi down in Ops and the entire station command crew circles around to watch him sleep, charmed, can only be described as :3

“Ties of Blood and Water”

This was the one episode of this set to click with me. I can attribute that to:

  • The fact that it was focused on Major Kira, who is interesting and complex as a character, and has some of the deepest ties to the series’ larger continuity and backstory;
  • The fact that it circled back to an emotionally heavy-hitting incident from earlier in the series;
  • The fact that Sisko and Dukat share the strongest adversarial relationship in Trek since Kirk and Khan (but with far more room to breathe and grow), and I always love to see them on-screen together.

And, finally, this episode hit me  for personal reasons. The scene where Kira remembers her father’s death and admits to Bashir that she missed being present for his passing by a matter of hours… it hit me hard. Six years ago this week, my grandmother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. At the time, I hadn’t seen her in a few years, and Cat and I had been planning a trip to visit her for several months. But as I boarded the train to the airport to catch my flight, my father called with the news that she had been taken ill to the hospital overnight; as I lined up to board the plane a few hours later, he called again to tell me she had passed. I missed seeing her and talking to her one last time by a matter of hours, and I’ve never been able to find peace with that. So seeing Kira’s story unfold like that, especially this week of all times… that was tough.

But it was a strong episode all on its own. Learning more about Kira’s history is always welcome, and watching her relationship with Gul Dukat swing back around to hatred after their brief detente made for a meaningful contrast to the fact that her distrust of all Cardassians has long since evaporated. Even as she learned of Tekeny Ghemor’s past in the Cardassian military’s anti-resistance task force, she found it in herself to forgive him and cherish the brief but meaningful surrogate connection they shared. (The tea cup smashing on Dukat’s face was quite the punctuation mark.)

Also! Yet another guest role for the wonderful Jeffrey Combs. Every time he shows up, I get angry all over again that Enterprise seasons 5-7 never happened, meaning we never got to see Commander Shran join the Enterprise crew as was supposedly intended.

2 thoughts on “Two-Year Mission: “A Simple Investigation”/”Business as Usual”/”Ties of Blood and Water”

  1. Ties of Blood and Water affects me personally as well, although for different reasons. My mother and I watched this episode about a month after my stepfather died from a wasting disease. Watching Kira care for Ghemor on his death bed was an uncomfortable reminder of what my mother and I had experienced months before. I’d be genuinely surprised if one of the DS9 writers didn’t base the episode on his/her own experience with a family member in hospice care.

    • Yeah, that and the bit with Yoshi refusing to be put down seem very drawn-from-life in a way that is rarely possible in other Trek series.

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