The Nagus

The Nagus is the first episode which features Ferengi culture in a big way, introducing us to Grand Nagus Zek, the overall leader of the Ferengi people who embodies everything that the Ferengis value – principally, greed and business acumen, so Capitalism personified, if you like, and Quark seems to worship him.

nagus

I really can’t stand Zek as a character although I do like the actor, Wallace Shawn – Vizzini from The Princess Bride. I’m sure he is meant to convey some important truths, beyond being a foil for Quark’s character, but he’s just way too annoying for me to notice. Plus I know there is a reference to the Godfather films, but I just don’t get it as I have never seen them. If anybody cares to explain why the Godfather is so popular, feel free. It’s not really on my radar. The nearest I come to watching gangster movies is Bugsy Malone.

Quark’s character development is interesting, as is Rom’s, who reveals himself to be far more devious than his brother had imagined, which thoroughly impresses Quark even though it nearly kills him!

The other interesting development, the sub-plot, is Jake’s friendship with Nog, and the way that Jake and Sisko’s relationship – even at this early juncture – is beginning to grow and change as Jake gets older and starts making his own choices.

I remember my middle son being horrified by Sisko’s apparent racism against Nog, not wanting Jake and Nog to be friends (not to mention the Bajorans’ continued racism against all Cardassians, amongst other examples), but drawing attention to racism and busting race and gender stereotypes is something that Star Trek has always done well. At least until JJ, but that’s another story.

I liked that, when Sisko asks Jadzia for parenting advice, she says “I’ve been a mother three times and a father twice,” but then admits that she was never really very good at it from either side. But then Sisko still takes her advice and chases after Jake to find out why he wasn’t at dinner!

While I was looking for different opinions on this episode, I found this interesting post:
http://andraste.dreamwidth.org/174446.html?thread=1581166&style=light

But then I went off on a bit of a rabbit-trail, totally unrelated to DS9, to investigate the origin and meaning of the poster’s username, Andraste.

Andraste_WoT

It turns out that Andraste was the Roman name of a Celtic goddess, Andred, invoked by the legendary Boudicca of the Iceni in her fight against the Romans in Britain, her name thought to mean ‘invincible’ in the Celtic tongue, and cognate with the Roman goddesses Andarte/ Andarta, Victoria and others.

Andraste
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andraste

In addition, Andraste is the name of a band from Manchester,
who describe themselves as being “Purveyors of Finest Folk Metal” (my favourite kind!)
http://andraste.co.uk/
Check them out on Soundcloud. I really liked their sound until the singing started. Sorry. Nice flute.

andraste

Finally, Andraste is also a character in the videogame DragonAge, which I’m guessing is from whence the poster took the name.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Age

I haven’t really investigated video games very much at all – I’m just a bit too old to have caught it when it all got good. It was all still Commodores and Spectrums, Pacman and Space Invaders when I was young enough to have disposable income and time to spend on such things. But now all my kids are teenagers themselves, I might have another chance to explore. Hit me up with suggestions of good ones to start with!

LLAP!

Dax

It’s all nonsense, constable! I’m telling you, I knew the man.”
“But did you know the symbiont inside the man?”

– Sisko and Odo, discussing the murder charges facing Curzon Dax

Dax_on_trial

This episode features the trial of Jadzia Dax for a murder which may or may not have been committed by one of her antecedent selves, previous hosts of the Trill symbiont she carries.

The trial is reminiscent of Data’s trial which is to determine whether or not he is legally ‘alive’ for the purposes of deciding whether or not ‘human rights’ to self-determination apply to him.

I had not realised that this episode happened so early on in the series, and I suppose that really it was included in order to explore the idea of what it means to be Trill. We learn that not all Trill are lucky enough to become hosts; indeed there is enormous competition for the privilege, and Jadzia is impressively accomplished in her own right with several academic degrees to her name.

We learn about her immediately previous host Curzon, who was a friend and mentor to Commander Sisko, and quite different to Jadzia as a sometimes drunken, philandering, badly behaved Trill versus Jadzia who was an innocent, prim and proper young woman before joining.

Being joined with a symbiont has the effect of combining the young Trill’s personality with elements of all its previous hosts – in other words, it changes her so she is a new person. But to what extent does this change affect the host Trill? Does the newly joined Trill become responsible for the actions of its symbiont or its previous hosts?

As it happens, Curzon had not committed the murder, and it all comes out in the wash, but the question is never fully resolved – Dr Bashir testifies on her behalf to say that that the joined Trill is a completely new person and should not be held responsible for anything that happened prior to her time as host.

In real life, the application might be to look at whether individuals can be held responsible for the actions of their parents or ancestors. Benedict Cumberbatch recently spoke about his ancestors having owned slaves. It’s a horrible thought. He is obviously not proud, but should he feel guilty? Assuming he is not still benefiting from the wealth his slave-owning ancestors made off the back of slaves, is it best to leave it all in the past? If his family does still benefit from that wealth on the other hand, should they be made to give it up? give it back? to whom? How can past wrongs be righted so many generations later? Is it even possible?

I was thinking about the skeletons in my family’s cupboard. It was rumoured that my great grandmother on my father’s side, after having six daughters, had conceived her last child, a son, with another man, and the husband may have been ‘bumped off’! I never met that generation, so I know nothing of their characters or if there is any truth in the rumour. But what if it was true? What if the inheritance of the father went to the son who wasn’t his? It’s entirely possible.

Also on my father’s side, my cousin claims that when he traced the family tree he found that, beyond our Celtic heritage in Ireland, we had actually been descendants of Norman nobility, going all the way back to the wicked King John. I rather like that one. That makes me royalty. Bow to me, peasants! Haha! Sadly, second sons (and daughters) never inherited the title or the wealth.

On my mother’s side, the claim was that my grandfather had been a wealthy man of nobility with a title and wealth to his name, but had to give up his inheritance to marry my grandmother. I have no idea whether or not it’s really true. (I think my grandmother thought he was a teller of tall tales.)

What about you? Do you have ancestors that you are proud of? Ashamed of? What do you think you might find if you trace your family tree?

LLAP!

Babel

I love this episode, it’s so funny. I’m not sure if it was meant to be humorous, but O’Brien and the others’ confusion of language tickles my funny bone. Perhaps I have a ‘warped’ sense of humour, I don’t know. Obviously the sudden aphasia is distressing to the speakers affected by it and to the people they are speaking to, who can’t understand it. But the dialog is just funny.

O’BRIEN: Major, larks true pepper.
KIRA: What?
O’BRIEN: Let birds go further loose maybe. Shout easy play.
KIRA: Chief, you’re not making any sense.
O’BRIEN: Round the turbulent quick. Well, close the reverse harbour. Ankle try sound. Reset gleaming. Dinner to bug.
KIRA: Chief, wait.
O’BRIEN: When?
KIRA: Chief!

babel1

Other than the obvious illness and epidemic (and perhaps biological warfare) there are no major themes in this episode really, although Kira’s kidnapping of Surmak Ren, exposing him to the aphasia virus was a huge breach of ethics. Luckily he is able to miraculously remember the formula and cook up an antidote in double-quick time, but if such a thing were to happen in real life, Kira would have gone to prison for sure.

But what of the aphasia virus itself, as a metaphor? It makes me think of gossip actually – the way one person starts something, perhaps a half-truth or a truth they have no business to share, and all of a sudden it spreads like feathers in the wind with no hope of possible containment, the original creator having no thought of the possible consequences or results of their indiscretion. If only there were an easy remedy. I really hate gossip. I’ve been on the receiving end of it a few times, and I have also once fallen into the trap of doing Dekon Elig*’s dirty work for him, spreading a half-truth that came back to bite me. Dekon himself by that stage was well out of harm’s way. I have never made the same mistake again, and won’t do in a hurry.

The other thing that is lovely about this episode is the touching scene between Jake and Sisko, when Jake becomes aphasic too. I love that the relationship between the actors is so genuine as well – I know that Avery Brooks says that he counts Cirroc Lofton as one of his own children. You can see the tenderness in this scene.

babel2

Oh! One thing of note – Odo says that he is able to catch Quark in his lie about the replicators because he said that Rom fixed them, and Rom is an idiot. Of course, later on it is discovered that although Rom is quite useless when it comes to the things most highly prized by Ferengis, namely commerce, he is in fact a genius when it pertains to engineering. Just a clue there that the writers didn’t have it all planned out and were in fact making it up as they went along. A bit like my life really. 🙂

Anyway, time for a bit of music! I would like to introduce you to a band you may not know, Treacherous Orchestra. A lot of their tracks are wild and crazy (they’re a lot like Salsa Celtica if you know them). But I thought I would share this very gentle track as a background to Jake and Sisko’s tender moment. Enjoy!

* Dekon Elig, the original creator of the virus, along with Surmak Ren.

Emissary part 1

Background:

On star-date 05.20.13, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was kidnapped by the Borg and was forced to lead an assault on Starfleet at Wolf 359. In that battle, Lt. Commander Benjamin Sisko lost his wife Jennifer. Now he has been reluctantly posted to DS9 to work alongisde Kira Nerys who will function as liaison between the Bajoran government and Star Fleet.

In this universe, for the purposes of this blog, Jean-Luc Picard (and sometimes the Borg) is the devil who causes all the yuck in my life.

Jennifer wasn’t Sisko’s wife, but rather his mother who died in May 2013 (hence the faked star-date above).

Oh, and Sisko and I are not just feuding colleagues but man and wife. And since the metaphor is not quite ideal to my real-life situation, Jake will often be replaced by four Ferengis, or a variety of other characters and races, depending on what fits. I will introduce them properly in the episode ‘Dramatis Personae’.

In my original blog on Open Diary, I wrote a series of posts about my life based on the first season of DS9. Some of the themes of the episodes seemed to bear a spooky resemblance to what was going on in my life, or at least my mind. But it may just be that I became so immersed in the story that I began to see my life as Kira’s. When I look back it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was at the time, and I don’t honestly know why I was so hostile to Sisko. Our real-life situation is much worse right now than it ever was then (between 2006 and 2008) but our relationship is actually much better than it was.

Act One

So in Star Trek DS9, neither Sisko, Jake or Kira are happy to be posted to the DS9 Space Station – which is after all in Deep Space – but Sisko is trying to make the best of it, and encourages Jake to do the same. Kira isn’t specifically bothered about being on DS9, her objection is to Star Fleet’s involvement, and she makes that very clear, very rudely! In real life, it was Sisko’s idea to bring us all here.

The Ferengis weren’t happy to begin with, but they have got used to it – they love the Wormhole, and they are now far too settled to move back to Bajor. Family and friends are still there, and even though they are lonely (no kids their own age), they want to stay. I on the other hand objected to the move. I miss my family and friends terribly and although, alright I do actually love the Wormhole now (which, by the way, is the Atlantic Ocean) and I know I would miss it if we were taken away from it, I object strongly to being moved without my consent, and haven’t been able to get used to my new life. I am making him sound like a tyrant, but in fact he took me away from a very unhealthy, emotionally toxic situation. it was for my own good. But it was very painful.

In real life, when we moved here in 2011, I didn’t shout and fight and feud with Sisko (that season of our relationship was for the years previous to our move), but I cried a lot for months, moped around the house, pleaded with him to take us back. But failing that, I learned that pleading didn’t work and our old life was not there for us to go back to (more on that in another episode). I am not happy, but instead of fighting to control a situation that is out of my hands, I am turning to my spiritual life for serenity. Not sure if it’s working really, but I will let you know.

Act Two

In DS9, Sisko meets with Jean-Luc Pickard to object to his assignment and request a move anywhere else. It’s a tense meeting because Pickard was responsible for Jennifer’s death. He can’t forgive him, and lets him know it.

In real life this never happened because in fact Sisko himself is the devil in the sense that he was responsible for moving us here. it was his choice, this was what he wanted. That’s not to say of course that Sisko was in any way responsible for the death of Jennifer his mother, far from it. But he did have the opportunity to go and see her and say goodbye before she died, but he refused – finding the situation emotionally intolerable. I will elaborate on this in another episode, but in another emanation where I see myself as a passionate Klingon, he is the emotionally repressed Vulcan. That has changed somewhat, but it still permeates our relationship.

Where I am an irrepressible, red-headed Celt, he is a cool Scandinavian. In fact he does have a deep, dark svÄrmod river of passion, joy and anger running below his icy exterior, but it rarely shows.

Act Three

At this point, Bajor’s spiritual leader, Kai Opaka, is introduced along with the Orbs, the ‘tears’ of the Prophets.

I think that in the original blog, I glossed over this part, but I will mention that my spiritual mentor – the person I most respected and to whom I would always turn to with questions about Life, the Universe and Everything, the person who most understood and shared my tastes (except perhaps in music – see below, he wouldn’t have approved), whose opinion I valued above all others, was my Dad. I have already mentioned him – when I was very young I believed he played Spock in Star Trek’s Original Series. It was he who introduced me not only to Star Trek but to the love of all things science and science fiction. If you know DS9 well you will know that Kai Opaka does not last long as a character and her passing was devastating. My Dad died in early 2011 and the world has never been the same.

I’m not sure I have a use for the Orbs yet as a metaphor – but if I think of anything, I will let you know and weave them in to the story!

Act Four and Five

I will have to leave Acts four and five for another day, as I am very tired now and will give myself a headache if I go on. I hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings as much as I have done writing them.

My soundtrack to writing this post was Metallica’s excellent and underrated album ‘And Justice For All’ – if you happen to appreciate that sort of thing, please enjoy. If you can’t stand it, I won’t make you listen. Awesomely, it co-incidentally finished just about the time that I was finishing up the post. 😀