Monday, November 12, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 1: Dramatis Personae

Deep Space Nine, Season 1
"Dramatis Personae"
Airdate: May 30, 1993
17 of 173 produced
17 of 173 aired


A Klingon ship mysteriously returns early from its Gamma Quadrant mission. Shortly after clearing the wormhole, it explodes, and one survivor beams aboard. The senior staff begin to act very strangely. Sisko appears bored at the idea of running the station. and Kira, while butting heads with Sisko is a normal day, has begun openly plotting his overthrow. The only crew member unaffected is Odo. Can he figure out what is going on? Will he be able to stop them?
When you demand satisfaction, call Samuel T. Cogley & Associates, Attorneys at Law.


Kevin: We've done the possession episodes before, like "Power Play," but I have to say this may be one of the times in early DS9 where their entry holds up to its TNG predecessors. The show was taking a gamble in having the show revolve around the characters having different personalities, given that the baseline ones have less than a season of establishment as it is. I think overall, the show succeeds, and it does so since it grounded the initial changes in the day-to-day problems the characters actually have. Instead of acting out someone else's power struggle from the get-go, we get the disagreement about the Valerians. By the time the episode goes gung-ho into the melodrama, the audience is already on board.

Matthew: I agree that there is a basic level of fun involved in seeing our main cast at odds with each other. I don't, however, get how and why the personalities that the main cast took on were all reflections of their personal problems. Weapons grade Dolamide (dumbest name ever?) I get. But Sisko building clocks? Dax being ditzy? I don't see it. I think this part of the story lacked explanation.

Kevin: There was a definite risk that given the nature of the conflict, we could end up not caring about, but I think they dodge this pitfall as well. Unlike other episodes this season, this one has some life and momentum. Coupled with that, the episode also is partly anchored in Odo being the outsider trying to avert disaster, which we do care about. Also, Odo's double-crossing was well played, and the episode built well for me to the climax in the cargo bay.

Matthew: My problem with the plot as it stands is how little we learn about the Saltah'nan civilization. If you say that the problem is caused by telepathic archives of some culture's power struggles, you'd better give me more about them. I'm not talking "Masks" level detail here (shudder) but perhaps some sort of explanation for the roles the main cast is playing out,or some sort of background for who the Saltines were. And why would they record their worst moments as a species? It would be like us putting the Iraq war on a golden disc to send out on the Voyager probe. Do we really want the aliens to think we're all dicks? Maybe if it had been an unintended side effect. And why didn't it affect everyone? Why just the main cast? I would have preferred if we had gotten a scene of dozens of extras fighting a big war on the Promenade.

Kevin: The solution is a little expected, given that it was the exact same solution we got in "Power Play," the use of the cargo doors. Still, up to that moment, we got a lot of neat moments through the show. I liked Sisko's detached persona working on the clock, and Kira's power-grabbing persona was a lot of fun to watch. I think the only thing they could have done to take the episode up a notch was to have a lasting consequence for their actions. I'm not saying a main character should have died, but they should have found something to give the plot a little more teeth.

Matthew: The obvious candidate is for Sisko to kill the Bajorin assassin with his own syringe. I would have been all like "Oh, no he didn't!" and Sisko would have been all like, "deal with it!"


Kevin: This is really the strength of the episode, and even if the episode is not the best story they'll ever tell, the cast definitely took things and ran with it. Sisko's pampered, reclusive tyrant was great. Nana Visitor did a great job with the scheming and plotting, and I loved her scenes confronting Sisko. When she picked up Quark, she was really menacing. I liked Odo a lot this episode too, both as an investigator trying to figure out what is going on, and as someone generally intrigued by humanoid behavior.

Matthew: I really enjoyed Colm Meaney's darker side. He is such a kind, warm presence generally, that to see him plot and scheme is really strange and fun. I like Visitor generally, but, I have to say, that when she is playing evil, she always seems to go to "sexy" a little too quickly for my taste. This wasn't far off of her mirror universe episodes.

Kevin: Dax's airhead routine was surprisingly good and funny. Between this and "If Wishes Were Horses," the producers have to see her character is better with a little more life, and thus begins the transition to the libertine we see in season two. Siddig was good, I thought, as the know-it-all who was above it all. He was at least not grating this time.

Matthew: I think the episode lives or dies by Auberjonois, and because of him it lives. He is the everyman thrust into the weird situation, and it works. His scene with the Doctor was the best in the episode, playing against his expectations for skulduggery.

Production Values

Kevin: I really liked the scene of the Klingon ship exploding. It was an actual effect and not just explosion in front of a disappearing ship. The scene in the cargo bay of the telepathic whatnots was not great. It wasn't bad, it's just not a great effect. The garbled logs were well done, as were the Okudagrams of the force fields.

Matthew: I wish we had gotten a lot more of the Klingons in this show, both in person and in their records. I wish the logs hadn't been scrambled as much as they were. They really would have added a lot of interest, both visually and story-wise.

Kevin: The clockwork mechanism was beautiful. I'm really glad they kept it around in Sisko's ready room. I'm not a 100% sure how it actually communicates what time it is, but looks neat.

Matthew: Yeah, it definitely looked neat. Perhaps some sort of light refraction mechanism? It had a vaguely astrolabe look to it.


Kevin: This is a 3. It lacks the ambition of a higher rating, but as "possession" episodes go, it is entertaining throughout, and doesn't lag, which is almost an achievement in itself, given the rest of this season. It's well acted and kept me entertained, so I think this merits the center of the bell curve rating.

Matthew: I agree! It feels good to give a 3 now and again. For whatever problems this episode had, entertainment value was not one of them. A better fleshed out story might have pushed this higher, but as it stands it's a solid show in a sea of "meh." That makes a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. So why was Dax being ditzy and constantly wanting to reminisce about the past and tell stories? What was the point of that?