Saturday, September 26, 2009

Classics: DS9 1:17 - Dramatis Personae

Overall Rating: 5.7

A potentially interesting idea very poorly acted and written. The episode is chiefly lacking in emotional resonance because the conflict that gets co-opted by the ethereal players in the melodrama does not play on an existing rift deep enough to make the accelerating madness of the crew even slightly believable.

Plot Synopsis:

Sisko and Kira spar a bit over the arrival of a known supplier of weapons to the Cardassians - a race long considered an enemy of the Bajoran people, the Valerians. Their dispute seems contained, but the moment is interrupted by the arrival of a Klingon science vessel through the wormhole. It explodes suddenly and one officer transports to the station. He dies shortly after materializing, uttering only the word "Victory!" Soon thereafter, crew members begin taking sides in a melodramatic power struggle between Kira and Sisko which erupts into an all out coup. The madness is related to energy spheres containing the neural patterns of a group of people in the Gamma Quadrant who destroyed themselves with infighting much as the Klingons did...and much as the Station crew threatens to do. Odo cleverly plays both sides and breaks up the struggle just in the nick of time.

Writing: 6

The story itself is potentially interesting, but the conflict could have been so much more convincing had they built on something deeper than a simple disagreement over how to handle a potential weapons smuggler. Odo's skillful investigative and manipulative powers are well deployed, but the whole "body snatcher" concept just doesn't interest me without some deeper meaning. My other major beef is that the drama rises too quickly. I know they only have 45 minutes to tell this story, but one scene after the Klingon arrives, the rebellion is brewing and tempers are flaring. A little subtlety is a good thing sometimes.

Acting: 5

A rare globally terrible job is done by all (except Colm Meaney, Rene Auberjonois and, oddly, Alexander Siddig, who has been the source of a lot of annoyance for me thus far). Nana Visitor, Avery Brooks, and even Armin Shimmerman do some rather unbelievable overacting, which makes it all the more difficult to believe the story. Bad script + uncomfortable actors = disastrous performance.

Message: 6

Unfortunately, there's no real message here...there could have been one had the players in our little melodrama been reacting to real problems they faced when they plunged into civil war and, following the removing of the instigating energy spheres, learned something about their deeper conflicts or perhaps learned to get some of their grievances out in the open so they could be rationally discussed. None of that happened because the conflict upon which the mutiny was built was too inconsequential.


ODO: (following leads on the Klingon science vessel destroyed at the start of the episode) "And...what did they say?"
QUARK: "Crafty today, aren't we, Odo? Looking for clues about the fate of the Klingons? What do I get if I tell you?"
ODO: "Chances are, whatever you tell me won't help, so why should I give you anything?"
QUARK: "Because otherwise, I heard nothing."
ODO: "That damaged holosuite of crew seven is probably doing the repairs, am I right?"
QUARK: "Uh..."
ODO: "I believe I'll need to put in a priority request for work crew seven. The bulkheads in security could use a little suring up." - hee

ODO: "I believe that energy matrix is affecting the station as well...and that my changeling physiology rejected it!"
BASHIR: "It's an interesting theory, Constable, but I'm certainly not acting out of the ordinary."
ODO: "Of course not, Doctor. But what if you and I are the only ones?"
BASHIR: "Do you think we could use that to our advantage?"
ODO: "Exactly."
BASHIR: "How?"
ODO: "The first thing we need to do is find a way to drive the matrix out of our people."
BASHIR: "But then we'd lose our advantage!"
ODO: "Would you prefer that someone blew up the station?"
BASHIR: "That's a good point..."
ODO: "The power to control the energy spheres is the power to control this station." - Odo is the man. :)


Memo to scientifically illiterate writers...pure energy (as in this self contained energy matrix techno-nonsense) has no mass and is not affected by the pull of the pressure gradient force when exposed to the vacuum of space. Opening the cargo bay door would have had no affect whatsoever on the matrix, let alone send it flying int oblivion like it was a cloud of hydrogen gas. *headdesk*

Closing Comment:

I have always enjoyed watching this episode despite my highly negative review thereof. I cannot explain why, but it has a sort of "so bad it's amusing" quality to it. Unlike future bad episodes like "Melora" and "Let He who is Without Sin" which were just awful and unwatchable on so many levels. This one is bad crack...but it's still crack, which gives it a little boost in my mind. Next up, our first DS9 Feature and one of the three or four best episodes in DS9's 7-year run...Duet.

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