Previously: A primer on the series, season 1, season 2, and season 3.
Every season will now come with a “don’t listen to me, just watch it all” disclaimer. These are my personal favorites among a season of favorites. Seriously, by the time we get to season 7 the whole post is just going to be a video of me sobbing and hugging myself.
And pressing my cheek to this image lovingly.
4×01-2: Way of the Warrior parts 1&2:
These episodes are killer. The tone and drive of the back half of the series sharpens to a knife-point. We learn so much in these episodes, we see so much set up, so much is twisted and turned around.
We learn that “sand peas” are almost definitely watermelon Jelly Bellies. We learn that the spots do go all the way down. That Garak doesn’t bother to fold his tucked napkin when having lunch with Odo. (Perhaps the whole torture thing means those social niceties are beneath them now?)
We learn that, if you have begrudgingly made your home among aliens, if you’re isolated and plodding on through bitterness and regret in a place besieged at every side, if your friends are your enemies, and your hardscrabble pride is your dearest enemy-friend, if you are drunk and afraid, then take heart. The only time you should really start to worry is the moment you begin to like the taste of root beer.
But, most importantly: Worf. Worf Worf Worf. Worf.
4×03: The Visitor:
Do you enjoy weeping freely? Has it been too long since you’ve had a good, long, snotty, blotchy, call-everyone-you-love-at-an-inappropriate-hour cry? Well, here you go, buddy. Leave those embarrassing voicemails as the credits roll.
Oh, and just go ahead and keep right on weeping. Just segue straight from tragic family story into tragic love story.
See, in addition to questionable psychiatric practices, the majority of Trill society believes it’s taboo-level improper for the new hosts of symbionts who once knew each other to “re-associate”. I’m gonna just translate that to “make out and be in love forever omg”. This is supposedly for the good of the symbiont so that it can have new and various experiences in its ages-long slug life.
Like many people would when confronted with the gorgeous new host of their ex-wife, Jadzia Dax calls bullshit on that.
Oh, does she ever.
And from this we get what’s arguably Star Trek’s most direct treatment of queer relationships. Some argue that the outcome of this episode precludes it from being pro-LGBT. For me, it only made the story hit closer to home. Trill’s taboo against re-association is as dehumanizing and insulting as any modern law that drives people in love apart, that bleeds into society and diminishes the character of any person enforcing or affirming that law. It isn’t Trek as utopia, but it is absolutely Trek as worthwhile and passionate social commentary.
4×06: Starship Down:
Like many geeks, I’m a person who loves stories about teams, about constructed families. Unlikely alliances and unexpected friendships that end up being so, so rewarding. This episode deals with that beautifully. Worf gets his in to begin really gelling with the crew, Jadzia and Julian laugh together at the expense of early-seasons-Julian, Quark makes friends with James Cromwell, and Kira and Sisko are the best.
Kira’s “holy crap I am friends with the Emissary” grin is also the best.
In addition to all these Feelings, this is just a really great spaceship episode in classic submarine storytelling style.
4×07: Little Green Men:
Look at this.
Look at it.
Good, now go watch the episode.
4×10: Our Man Bashir:
It should be clear by now that I’m a woman of offbeat tastes. I’ve always wanted to meet a nice lady with a tapeworm so that I could date someone like Jadzia. I somehow found it in my heart to love early-seasons-Bashir. Bedazzled skintight jumpsuits, disproportionately long limbs, anime eyes and all. But do you want to know what really gets my engine revving?
Oh. Hello, there.
O-o-oh. Oh, I see.
Oh God, what are these feelings inside of me? What witchcraft are you working on me, Star Trek?
OMG now he’s bleeding he’s in a tuxedo and he’s bleeding this is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me in my life what do I do with my hands how do I go on living when this is over OMGOMGOMG
I’m told that some other things happen in this episode, but frankly I never noticed.
4×16: Bar Association:
Rom: labor union organizer.
4×20: Shattered Mirror:
Subtitle: Jake Sisko goes on the Best Vacation Ever! The trend of excellent space-therapy continues as Jake spends the weekend with the body-double of his dead mom. Captain Sisko isn’t entirely convinced of the wisdom of this.
Jake and dead mom double, however, are sure that nothing could possibly go wrong.
In other news, Regent Worf got the cream of the crop from the SPCA.
I’ve had this dream so many times.
There is some subtextual evidence in the dialogue that implies Regent Worf is not a leader of well-considered opinions:
GARAK: The Intendant was bad enough. She was irrational, accusatory, unappreciative. But at least…
WORF: At least what?
GARAK: At least I was able to please her now and then.
WORF: You are not my type.
Worf, how are you even in charge of anything ,what is wrong with you, ye gods.
4×22: For the Cause:
Up until this episode, my opinion of the Maquis was “pfft, boring, they’re humans”. But then this hits and it’s like whaaaat.
Kasidy’s Maquis??! Whaaaat.
And then you’re like okay, okay I can deal with that. The Sisko will persevere. Jake will add this onto the pile of mommy issues and move on. But then!
Whoa whoa wait but Odo totally liked you what whaaaaaaaaat.
The shit: it is real. Oh, and Garak goes on a date with a teenager. To be fair, she’s pretty great.
4×24: The Quickening:
I have had this song stuck in my head since 1996.
This is the episode where I can begin to feel okay about liking Doctor Bashir in all his colonialist glory. In an apt follow-up to Eddington’s Federation-as-homogenization tirade, Bashir finds himself neck-deep in his beloved ~frontier medicine in a place we’ll call The Planet of the Lepers.
I get the impression that Julian Bashir’s internal monologue sounds a lot like the content of a long series of pulp novels with racy covers and titles like Doctor Bashir And The Girl With Five Breasts, or Doctor Bashir Investigates: Where Are My Socks?, and in this particular instance Doctor Bashir– Among the Lepers! The great thing about our little ball of Starfleet-spiffy sunshine, though, is that he’s not that guy anywhere outside the holosuites. He doesn’t get the girl, and for the moment he’s no master of espionage. Heck, he can’t even cure one measly planet full of lepers. No matter how much he’s sure that he can.
“My bad, lepers.”
There’s a wonderful moment in act four where Bashir comes face-to-face with his own recklessly optimistic arrogance. It’s beautiful stuff.
4×26: Broken Link:
My notes for this episode were just “Worf totally ruins a perfectly good plan to commit genocide.” I stand by that. Another note could be that it’s clear from this that the universe runs on a currency of charm, and Garak is a goddamn billionaire.
No, for real. Why is Garak even on this mission in the first place? There’s every reason to disallow it. But all it takes is Garak reminding Sisko how great he is. The scene goes like this:
“Check it: I’m great.”
“Damn. He’s got a point.”
Season four ends with Garak in the clink, Odo in a meatbody, the Federation and Klingon Empire kinda-sorta tapdancing around open war, Emperor Gowron a suspected pudding-person, and the death of all Cardassia foretold by the Founders.
In the next post: Wacky Emissary hijinks! An episode about Keiko that’s actually fun! The spots go all the way down! Klingons, Klingons, Klingons! Even more genocide! Doctor Bashir becomes an unwilling expert in treating injuries associated with particularly rough interspecies sex!
Plus everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.