Friday, April 26, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 3: The Abandoned

Deep Space Nine, Season 3
"The Abandoned"
Airdate: October 31, 1994
51 of 173 produced
51 of 173 aired


Quark buys some salvage found in the Gamma Quadrant from a friend and makes an unusual discovery in the wreckage: a baby. The child grows very fast, to adulthood in a matter of days when it becomes clear what he is: a Jem'Hadar. Starfleet wants to take advantage of the opportunity to study him, but Odo, remembering his own experience in a lab objects and tries to help the Jem'Hadar be more than a soldier of the Dominion.

Hey, buddy, are you watching the table, or the girl?


Kevin: I like the idea of this episode. We've explored the idea of being more than one's programming before, although the programming is usually technological not biological, but it works here well enough. I wish they had spent more time exploring the ethical gray area the Jem'Hadar's engineered state presents. Even if he lacks what we would call true free will, he is still sapient and sentient. He can feel pain and understand his environment. Even if he lacks true choice over his actions, would that allow Starfleet to imprison and analyze him indefinitely? I'm glad they brought it up, I just wish they had engaged the issue a little more directly.

Matthew: The direct engagement you are longing for did occur, actually. It just occurred in "I, Borg," whose A plot is substantially similar to this. Nonetheless, I think this episode should be praised for containing some of the most serious sci-fi that's been on DS9 in quite a while. Whether or not a genetically engineered super soldier has a soul, free will, and deserves the right to determine the course of his own life is inherently interesting, and it's an interest born precisely of the futuristic elements of the science involved. I liked the fact that both the Dominion and the Federation were treating him as more of an object than a person - the reveal of the engineered Ketracel White addiction showed us that much about the Dominion. I agree that this aspect of the story should have gone deeper.

Kevin: I like what the episode does for Odo's character. Relating his experience as a lab specimen was a nice touch, and coupled with the vicarious guilt he feels for what was done to the Jem'Hadar, his defense of the Jem'Hadar is credible and moving. I like that he champions the idea that the Jem'Hadar must be at least allowed the opportunity to rise above the life he is expected to live, and while the analogy is not perfect, I liked the scene when he compares it to Odo and Kira choosing to be something else as well.

Matthew: The Odo element of the plot worked well. It led to the character developments you mentioned, but it also lent itself to exciting scenes, such as he holodeck fight, and the various violent escape attempts. Odo's advocacy for the Jem'Hadar led to a nice scene of them being allowed to escape by Sisko. I wish this aspect of the story had been emphasized a bit more.

Kevin: In terms of criticism, the episode does end up feeling a little talky. Odo gets to deliver the same brief speech about choice about a half dozen times, and it stalls the episode slightly. As far as the Jake plot, it's pretty unconnected to the A-story. When they were showing us Sisko doting on the child, it seemed like they were telling a story about Sisko's parenting, and then the Mardah story would make sense, but as it stands, it's certainly not the worst random B-plot, but it is random. I wish the show had clarified some aspects of Federation life vis a vis the relationship with Marta. A 20 year old dating a 16 year old would be illegal in most parts of the country, and one other issue (cough... homosexuality...cough) the show has hidden behind the need to not offend Middle America, so this plot is somewhat shocking, and in a way the story doesn't really address. I ultimately liked the scene for Sisko when he acknowledges that he learned something about Jake, but overall, this plot was kind of odd in itself and out of place in the episode.

Matthew: I've never disliked talky. The world could use some more talk. And I can see what they were going for thematically with the Mardah story. She has the right to determine her own life, to be a Dabo girl free of the judgments of others, and to date whomever she wishes (including human minors, I guess). But yeah, it was just kind of superfluous, and it took time away from better plots. 


Kevin: Sisko did a good job in the family scenes, as always. Jill Sayre was good as Mardah. She at least came off as more than a two dimensional character. I don't think she had much chemistry with Jake, though. I suppose it's the fault of the script as much as anything, since it doesn't really make sense what she sees in him in the first place.

Matthew: Indeed, I was not enamored of the chemistry between Sayre and Lofton. He was just sort of wooden and lacking in charm, so, as you say, it's tough to see what would make such a boobalicious piece of tail go for him in the first place. Avery Brooks directed this episode, but still had substantive scenes. He clearly was able to balance these tasks, because his performance was balanced and effective. I just have to put this out there - Jill Sayre looked distractingly similar to Paula Abdul.

Kevin: Odo was good this time, too. I bought his concern for the Jem'Hadar and his protectiveness of him. Bumper Robinson was good for me as the Jem'Hadar. He did a good job with the nervous energy the part required. Lastly, I loved the scene with Quark and the Boslic captain. It was a funny scene together, and Shimerman's delivery of the line "Three bars of latinum? It was worth it," was hilarious.

Matthew: Yeah, Bumper Robinson really nailed it. I wish they had gotten to him sooner. He had a good voice for the part, and a good physique.  Rene Auberjonois had good chemistry with him, too. Their smiling scene was endearing.

Production Values

Kevin: The make-up job for the younger versions of the Jem'Hadar was good. It didn't give away the plot but made sense in retrospect. They also did a good job of softening the features to make him appear younger. I thought the jumpsuit they have him looked too much like the Jem'Hadar uniform. The effect of him jumping through Odo was really well done, probably some of the best CGI the show has done.

Matthew: This was definitely a bottle show through and through. We got basically no exterior shots, whether in space or on a planet.  So the main points of visual interest were the characters and their costumes. The makeup on the Jem'Hadar did a lot to maintain my interest.

Kevin: I've always liked the Boslic captain, I must say. I really, really liked Odo's quarters. The variety of shapes and textures played really well, and it was a nice touch to use the bucket again.

Matthew: They dressed Odo's quarters really well. It was definitely the most interesting set in the episode, followed closely by the empty holosuite.


Kevin: I am going with a 3. The basic idea is sound, and Odo got enough good emotional scenes with various characters to keep this in average territory for me, even if it didn't end up as the most exciting episode in franchise history.

Matthew: I want to give this a 4,but I agree with your criticisms overall. The side plot is just a distraction, and the ethical dimension of the story didn't go far enough. But it's solidly average, at least. That makes our total rating a 6.

1 comment:

  1. It was frustrating to see that Odo just didnt get about the Jem'hadar what had become painfully obvious to the audience at that point, namely that at the end of the day, this young man was not more than the sum of his parts. That in fact, he was nothing more than a mindless drone driven by instinct, unable to rise above his assigned rank on the social ladder.

    I like that unlike "i Borg" nothing was sugarcoated with a happy ending by slapping on lame clichees like the evil-enemy-can-be-a-caring-and-feeling-entity-too-if-only-given-enough-love-and-care-and-the-right-direction blah blah blah. I appreciate that the writers didnt go down that route but instead allowed everyone, including Odo, resign themselves ot the fact this Jem'hadar was not able to be more than what he was programmed to be. Plain and simple. That there is no hidden kindness there, no untapped potential for kindness, no diamond in the rough. What you see is exactly what you get courtesy of the genocidal Founders.