Friday, August 30, 2013

DS9: It's Only A Paper Moon

Nog is one of my very favorite characters. I've loved this guy since the first season of DS9 and every time I watch those early episodes, I love him even more. In many ways, he develops more over the series than any of the other DS9 characters. He starts out as a "typical Ferengi" but befriends Jake, learns to read, and starts thinking about things other than profit. He joins Starfleet, becomes an Ensign, and flies on the Defiant into several battles. He's courageous and gung-ho. He's anxious to prove himself. Then, in "The Siege of AR558" he wades into the ground war and ends up losing a leg. It's terrible and, while Julian gets him a shiny new one, he just isn't the same.

That's where "It's Only A Paper Moon" picks up and it's absolutely heartbreaking. My experience with war is negligible. My great-grandfather fought in World War I. My husband's grandfather fought in World War II. As a teenager I fell into a war literature phase and my favorite novel is probably still Slaughterhouse Five. But that's pretty much it. So, it is with limited experience that I watch this episode. Still, its impact on me is great.

Nog returns to DS9 with his prosthetic limb. Bashir insists that he can walk without a cane but Nog believes otherwise. He's depressed, despondent, and he needs to take a break from his reality. To achieve this, he ends up moving in with the holographic character, Vic Fontaine. Their 1950's adventure is sweet and endearing and for one of the only episodes in all of Star Trek, two non-regular cast members carry the entire story. And they carry it beautifully. I wouldn't buy this same story from our veteran members of Starfleet, battle hardened Kira or Odo, or the cynical Quark. But, coming from Nog, who's lost his unflinching optimism to the war, it's perfect. And Vic's charming, easy manner is just the thing Nog needs--until it's time for him to go.

I've read that Aron Eisenberg received a lot of letters from service men and women complimenting him on his true-to-life performance. I can't attest to that. But I can attest to the need to sometimes escape reality. I can attest to the impact stories have had on my life and their ability to bring me out of deep, dark places. I mean, in many ways, that's why this whole blog exists.

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