[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Armageddon Game"

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Timothy W. Lynch

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Feb 5, 1994, 9:26:34 PM2/5/94
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WARNING: This article contains spoiler information regarding DS9's
"Armageddon Game". While reading these spoilers without seeing the show
isn't likely to result in armageddon, anyone sensitive to having shows
spoiled for them should look elsewhere.

Now *that* was rather nice...

It's no secret that since "Necessary Evil" back in the fall, I've been rather
underwhelmed by DS9, and hoping it wasn't permanent.

Fortunately, it wasn't. Oh, "Armageddon Game" isn't perfect, but it _is_
what many DS9's this season have utterly failed to be: engrossing.
Virtually every scene had something that was keeping me hooked -- and
bottom-line, that's got to be the goal of any dramatic presentation.

The episode had three basic parts to it: Bashir and O'Brien's forced
"bonding" as they try to stay alive, the station dealing with the apparent
death of the two, and the detective work once they realize something's
strange. I think the first element was probably the strongest, but all three
of them were quite decent.

The Bashir/O'Brien scenes were definitely the highlight of the show, I
thought. These two are starting to compete with Odo/Quark and Sisko/Kira for
most successful DS9 pairing. The pairing has always had an "old soldier vs.
idealistic hero-wannabe" feel to it, but it came into much sharper focus
here, with O'Brien seeming almost paranoid about some of the actions they had
to take when they fled to the surface of the planet compared to Bashir's "get
what we need and move on" position.

Not only did their positions complement each other nicely about their
situation, though, the subsequent conversation about marriage gave us a *lot*
of insight into Bashir, I thought. Granted, we were getting that by having
Bashir get his foot into his mouth down to mid-kneecap; but even that
definitely seemed to fit, given the circumstances. More importantly, this
wasn't a situation where one point was held up as Definitely Right vs.
Definitely Wrong [TM]; rather, *both* stances made sense given the particular
characters involved. It also made sense that all O'Brien would want to do is
react (pissed, of course :-) ) to Bashir's statements rather than volunteer
his own opinions; at least, until O'Brien figured he'd never be able to
volunteer his opinions to anyone, ever. This all turned into a set of very
strong scenes.

(Of course, the humor factor wasn't bad either here. "Engineering extension
courses" at the academy ... I love it. Poor Julian -- he really *means*
well...)

The station reaction, I'm pleased to say, was just as strong. There was no
public wailing and browbeating, but there *was* a serious element of shock.
Looking at Kira, Odo, Dax, and Sisko standing there watching the doctored
data-clip was one of the more wrenching scenes DS9 has done in a while;
without saying more than a few words, all of them managed to project a lot of
pain very well. I'm very impressed. Similarly, most of the Keiko scenes were
good as well. Sisko telling Keiko of her husband's death hurt like hell to
watch, which it was supposed to.

What didn't work nearly as well as it should have was Keiko's "revelation"
that the tape had been doctored. (The tape itself, incidentally, was the
only way I'd have believed the station crew believing a bald statement of
"oh, they're dead". Smart thinking.) Part of it was that the delivery was a
bit off, but part of it was also that I couldn't keep memories of "Airplane!"
from coming to mind. My statement during the next break was "Besides, Miles
never vomits at home." :-) A friend mentioned to me that maybe the "coffee"
bits were something Keiko could consciously "notice", and that she really
just had a good subconscious feel that something was wrong, but something she
couldn't put her finger on. Could be -- it's about the only way I can take
the scene seriously (and it still doesn't save the final few lines of the
show).

Then, there's the detective work in finding the lost pair. There was a nice
bit of misdirection in the show, I thought -- I'd heard in advance that both
races were setting Bashir and O'Brien up, but the show itself made a good
case for the Kelleruns being the only ones involved until E'Tyshra made her
move. That part was definitely nice, and Sisko's and Dax's actions made a
lot of sense.

What didn't make sense, and the one significant negative I saw in the show,
was the behavior of the conspirators right after they find Bashir and O'Brien
again. These are people who are cold-blooded enough to plan the destruction
of both races' top scientists; I have difficulty thinking that they'd have
enough remorse to bother _telling_ Bashir and O'Brien why they're about to be
killed, much less stand there like idiots for a good thirty seconds or more
while Sisko and Dax get a transporter lock. It was a standard comic-book
cliche of an escape, and it felt wrong.

What's worse, we got it *again* a few minutes later. I liked Sisko's
strategy in directing the other runabout into harm's way while they escaped,
but again, I can't see the T'Lani and the Kelleruns as people who would have
even bothered to call Sisko and demand the return of the captives; they'd
have just blown the runabout up. Here, what's more, Sisko's plan could
*still have worked* if they'd done so, without much more handwaving than we
had -- so this one was just a chance to make the viewer sweat. I wasn't
sweating; I was taunting. :-)

Plot weaknesses aside, though, the show was very strong. The only weak scene
that wasn't plot-related was the scene in Quark's, and even that only had a
few bad moments, mostly when Dax describes the diaries' contents. I like the
idea, but it was a ton of telling and no showing -- and when it's telling us
something about the character we might not have already known, it feels like
a cheat. Even that's a minor point, though.

On the whole, then, "Armageddon Game" is well worth watching. It's not the
most powerful show DS9 has ever done, but it's got a good mix of powerful
moments, action, and character humor that didn't disappoint me one bit. A
keeper -- the first one since November, alas.

A few short points, then:

-- I was glad to see that even after being taken ill, O'Brien at least talked
Bashir _through_ the repairs. I was dreading the idea of Bashir managing to
be Wonder-Doc, and taking care of it all on his own. This was good -- and
also showed that it was only O'Brien's body that was affected.

-- I do have to wonder about the Harvesters' effectiveness, though. I mean,
it's apparently spread only by touch (and possibly not well then -- did we
ever see skin-to-skin contact between Bashir and O'Brien?). This is a
bioweapon so deadly that people will go to any lengths to make sure it's not
repeated? Hell, we've got worse than that here and now. [For that matter,
the cure was a little on the easy side, too.]

-- Colm Meaney does a good Bashir impression. :-)

So, to sum up:

Plot: The weakest of the bunch. The Harvesters are a little implausible,
and the conspirators were too stupid towards the end, but on the
whole it was good.
Plot Handling: Nice and taut. I was paying rapt attention. :-)
Characterization: Strong. Not perfect, given the "coffee" bit and the
Quark scene, but strong.

OVERALL: Call it an 8.5. Nicely done!

NEXT WEEK:

O'Brien gets a case of serious paranoia...

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.ca...@hamlet.caltech.edu
"I'm not *blind*, you know."
"Course not -- but you *are* married."
-- O'Brien and Bashir
--
Copyright 1994, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...

Dennis F. Hefferman

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Feb 10, 1994, 8:59:01 PM2/10/94
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In <2j1kgq$r...@gap.cco.caltech.edu> tly...@cco.caltech.edu (Timothy W. Lynch) writes:

|WARNING: This article contains spoiler information regarding DS9's
|"Armageddon Game". While reading these spoilers without seeing the show
|isn't likely to result in armageddon, anyone sensitive to having shows
|spoiled for them should look elsewhere.
|
|Now *that* was rather nice...


The character bits with O'Brien and Bashir were nice, but _come on_
the plot was ludicrous.

"We have to dispose of this dangerous biological weapon!"

"Sure. Hand me that phaser."

Or, if for some insane reason the stuff will survive a phaser on
disintigrate, throw the cannisters into the sun! I can assure you that even if
the stuff survives THAT, no one's going to go in there and get it! If they
can, they don't HAVE to!

Nor would I have bought the tape at face value. Folks in the Trek
universe must know that computer records can be faked easily. An inspection of
the site was in order right from the git-go.

There was also a stupid/smart move in the getaway. O'Brien and Bashir
can't beam aboard the runabout 'coz the baddies are jamming their
communicators, so they hope into the convenient transporter built into the
alien ship's science lab that the perpetrators of this long-planned scheme
have even more conveniently forgotten to deactivate and beam out...to the
PLANET!? Why not beam over to the runabout? Of course, as it turns out that
wouldn't have worked, but if they knew that why did they try to beam over to it
in the first place? Stupid, stupid, stupid.


--
Dennis Francis Heffernan IRC: FuzyLogic heff...@pegasus.montclair.edu
Montclair State College #include <disclaim.h> Computer Science/Philosophy
"For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever
would believe in him would believe in anything." -- anonymous

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