Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Classics: DS9 7:11 - Prodigal Daughter

Overall Rating: 6.7

Fans criticize this episode unfairly, in my opinion, but it certainly isn't anything remarkable.

Plot Synopsis:

Wikipedia has a summary - that'll do for now, though I think the episode is worth a good watching.

The Skinny:

One good chuckle in this entire episode...but it's totally worth repeating!
"What of these (PADDs) is your report?"
"It's the one with Captain Sisko's boot print on it."
HILARIOUS!  I love Mad Cap'n Benji, don't you? :)

All in all, this episode is pretty ordinary, but I like it...and yes, that is almost entirely because I think Nicole DeBoer (Ezri) is insanely adorable and, were I not happily involved with the love of my life, I'd want to do very un-Catholic things with her.

Long pause while I stare off into space...

Ehem...anyway, I mentioned at the top that I thought this episode didn't deserve some of the criticisms it got from fandom.  Those criticisms ran along three lines:

  1. The writers were devoting too much attention to their one-year character and not enough to the bigger story arc.
  2. The murder plot was pretty predictable and yet not very well researched psychologically.  The Tigan matriarch was pushy, but hardly Cathy Bates, and her coddling of Norvo does not explain his homicidal tendencies well at all.  Nor does Ezri's final speech echo what actually was shown in the episode.
  3. The guest actors weren't convincing and this made the family dynamic uninteresting.
On point one, I think the fans are out of line.  It is not at all unusual for a supporting character to get 3 or 4 episodes in a season to show their stuff.  Jadzia frequently got 3 or 4 episodes.  Jake Sisko usually got 2 per year.  Nog got 3 in the same season as Ezri's 3.  And two of Ezri's three stories were actually about the Dax symbiant as much as they were about Ezri herself.  So no...I do not think Ezri got undue focus that took away from the major arcs.

On point two, I would say that people do react differently to different types of pressure.  Norvo's total lack of self-confidence and feeling of powerlessness is a common profile for murder, even if Ezri's description of the Tigan family dynamic at the end of the episode wasn't all that well portrayed within the episode.  They did try to highlight Mrs. Tigan's constant references to Norvo as being a "sensitive boy" or "weak" or "not ready to live on his own" etc.  If you treat someone like they're weak and expect nothing out of them, you will often make them feel helpless.  I don't think the psychology was that bad...though it would be a miracle if a 45 minute episode would actually give us a full psychological profile on an entire family that fit perfectly with the main point of the episode.

On point three, OK, you got me there.  Norvo and Mrs. Tigan were pretty weak as guest actors and the other brother was even worse.  DeBoer and Meaney were solid, but the acting does cause the chemistry to suffer a bit.

Still...I don't think this is a bad episode...just...kind of ordinary.  I did, however, appreciate that Norvo wasn't painted as purely a victim or as basically blameless, as might have occurred on TNG or Voyager.  There was some balance in the denouement, with Miles saying he felt that Norvo got off easy with a 30 year sentence and Ezri saying he didn't know Norvo the way that she did.  The fact is...it was a stroke of genius to put Miles in the story at all...Marika Bilby needed an advocate here so that we didn't lose sight of the fact that the murder included a real cost and real victims.

Writing: 7.0

The script is solid, if unspectacular and a little on the timid side.

Acting: 5.0

As noted...the acting is weak here...weaker than normal for a DS9 episode.

Message: 7.0

Bonus points for thematic balance and for Mrs. Tigan's anguish at the realization that she might bear some responsibility for the murder and for Norvo's suffering.

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