Overall Rating: 6.2
As 45-minute romances go, this one is understated (and thus, not offensive) and perhaps a little slow, but at the same time, surprisingly charming. There are a lot of likable exchanges and a couple of scientifically dubious moments that demand clarification.
Commander Sisko notes with some sorrow that his wife Sarah died four years ago and he nearly failed to notice the passing of this inauspicious occasion. However, as he restlessly roams the station lost in contemplation, he meets a mysterious young woman calling herself Fenna with a knack for saying exactly what he imagines - not to mention for suddenly disappearing. He asks Odo to look into the matter. In the meantime, he meets with a brilliant (and extremely arrogant, but not completely unlikable) terraformer - Dr. Seyetik - who plans to reignite a dead star with an infusion of protomatter. When invited to his research vessel, Prometheus, Sisko encounters the woman of his dreams, only now, she calls herself Nidell and claims to have no memory of Sisko or of their previous conversation. Confused and hurt, Sisko is prepared to drop the matter, but Fenna continues to reappear, even while on the mission to the dead star. At this time, we discover that Fenna is in fact a psychic projection and that prolonged projection could be fatal to Nidell. Seyetik is forced to admit that his wife is chronically unhappy with him and his lifestyle and in perhaps his only act of selflessness, he throws himself into the dead star, freeing Nidell to return to her homeland and sending the good Dr. Seyetik out in a blaze of glory.
The script is a bit lacking when it comes to interesting dialogue and plot itself evolves a little slowly and without much flare. The dramatic conclusion seems rather abrupt as well. I don't think they did a thorough enough job preparing us to believe that Seyetik is prepared to kill himself or that Nidell is really so depressed that she could lose control of her psycho-projective abilities and get to the brink of death just to escape from Seyetik. Basically, the script lacks subtlety.
On the other hand, the characterization is solid and there are many interactions between Sisko and Jake, Sisko and Dax, and the senior staff and Seyetik that are quite charming and enjoyable. So, for a simple stand-alone love story, this one isn't too schmaltzy or haphazard to be enjoyed entirely. Apart from a couple of scientific blunders that I will address later, I did not walk away form this episode bothered by having watched it.
I quite enjoyed Sali Elise Richardson (Fenna/Nidell) and Richard Kiley (Seyetik) in their guest roles. Maybe Seyetik was played just a hair over the top, but that was written into his character. You can forgive Peter Jurasik for overplaying Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 at times and for the same reason, Kiley gets a pass here. Avery Brooks is always better when he's playing anything besides indignation/outrage/high drama (where he has a tendency to ravenously consume the scenery) and this episode is no exception. His quiet, very smooth portrayal of Sisko falling in love is a lot more enjoyable than any emotional diatribe he'll ever deliver. Props to Cirroc Lofton for his scene work in this episode as well.
Dying is easy, living is hard. It always kind of annoys me when Hollywood plays suicide as heroic or admirable so this episode is not going to get high marks from me on that score. Nor am I terribly impressed with it for its potentially unfair message about the sustainability and health of marriages that are absolutely permanent (Halanans mate for life, Seyetik mournfully reports). Perhaps you could try altering your behavior or sacrificing some of YOUR priorities to live on New Halana for a while to improve her spirits...marriage is a two-way street y'know. And I don't care how rocky a marriage might be - if there is any love left (and even frequently when there is NOT), the sudden death of your partner is never going to be met with aplomb the way this script has it written. Nidell should have been more upset about the way things played out.
The only major positive about this show (from a moral standpoint) is the heartwarming relationship that exists between Sisko and his son. Jake is showing signs of maturing into a solid young man with a good head on his shoulders. He councils his father on love (heh) and offers his support. This family dynamic is a long-standing strength of DS9 that is completely missing in every other Trek.
SISKO: The Bajorans call that constellation 'The Runners'. I can never figure out if they're running from something or toward something?
FENNA: Does it matter? Sometimes it just feels good to run.
SISKO: I hadn't thought about it that way before. So...how long are you going to be on the station?
FENNA: Well, I can't stay long.
SISKO: Where are you going?
FENNA: I'm not sure yet...I suppose I'll just keep running. - I thought this little exchange was nicely crafted (linguistically)...if a bit on the nose. :)
DAX: So when were you going to tell me?
SISKO: Tell you what, Old Man?
DAX: Come on, Benjamin! I saw you with her on the Pomenade. Who is she?
SISKO: Her name is Fenna. And there's nothing to tell.
DAX: It's become I'm not a man anymore, isn't it?
SISKO: (laughing hysterically) Don't be ridiculous!
DAX: No no...I understand. It's hard to talk man to man with a woman.
SISKO: That's not what this is about, Old Man. And I promise to tell you all about it...as soon as there is something to tell.
JAKE: And then Nog said, "Klingon food? Those are worms!" And he barfed all over the table! (laughing like a 10 year old) It was disgusting!
SISKO: (lost in thought) That's nice.
JAKE: Nice? He threw up!
SISKO: Hm? Oh, sorry. (smiling like a Cheshire cat) I guess I'm just a little preoccupied.
JAKE: Are you in love, Dad?
JAKE: You're showing all three of the signs.
SISKO: What signs?
JAKE: The ones Nog told me about. (Sisko visibly rolls his eyes) Daydreaming, loss of appetite, smiling all the time. I just want you know...if you're in love, it's OK with me. - awww :)
BASHIR: Do you think he'd even notice if we weren't here when he got back?
SISKO: Don't even think about it, Doctor. Dr. Seyetik is one of the Federation's brightest minds. His work speaks for itself.
KIRA: (annoyed) I know...he told us. (LOL)
1) The gravity well of a star...even a dead one...is IMMENSE. Seyetik and his shuttle would have been crushed to approximately the size of a coffee mug by the time he was 30 seconds from impact...yet he has the ability to scream "LET THERE BE LIGHT!!" in the final second or two before his shuttle slams into the apparently solid (!) dead stellar core. While we're on that subject, when stars die they don't turn into really really big planets. LOL They turn into tiny, super-dense balls of high-order elements in gaseous form, continuing to burn dimly (relative to other stars). While there might be carbon and oxygen and and the like in the stellar core, they would not be ossified like that.
2) Oh BTW, just what the heck is protomatter? You see that word thrown around in Trek on many occasions, usually when they need a really clever way to make an explosive device. Apparently here, it's a magic sparkle dust that causes heavy (solid) elements to shatter into lighter elements (mostly Hydrogen) and gain in total mass (umm...dead stars shed huge percentages of their total mass in their death gasps...that's how nebulae are formed and begin the process of birthing new stars!) enough to make a whole new star. Sorry...read a basic astronomy textbook and try again later. But thanks for playing.