"The Sound of Her Voice"
Airdate: June 10, 1998
147 of 173 produced
147 of 173 aired
The crew of the Defiant races to save a Starfleet captain stranded on an inhospitable world.
I hate when it we have to drag out the old torpedo funeral stand, don't you, Julian?
Kevin: The conceit of this episode is solid. The set up is a McGuffin, sure, but it's used to explore the characters' lives and how they have been impacted by the war. The outsider is used well and in a sufficiently interesting fashion to explore our characters. In particular, I really liked the conversation that O'Brien has with Captain Cusak. It's a very nuanced point to make about a character's life that there isn't something necessarily wrong, but they just feel a little disconnected, and how that sense of disconnect keeps from opening up to your friends about it and thus makes it worse. It's a credit to Colm Meaney certainly, which I'll get to later, but there was something quietly human about that scene.
Matthew: Yeah, I would say the O'Brien stuff was the highlight of the episode. It had a really nice somber, lonely vibe, especially the shot in the bunk. Making character talk about their growing sense of isolation is just not something you see a lot on television, let alone during the 90s. The general conceit of using a disembodied voice to get into each character that talks to her is a good one. I don't think Bashir got as much as Sisko and O'Brien did, and I think it's a shame that Worf and Dax weren't in on it. And what about Kasidy?
Kevin: I also liked the look we got at Sisko and Kasidy in this episode. Unlike Worf's abusive, controlling behavior, we get another very human look at a long term relationship. Sisko is distant, and maybe a little curt, but he's not mean, and he spends the episode exploring why he feels that way. His conversation with Captain Cusak was really well structured. I liked how she called him out that he showed more interest in a war update than he did his relationship, and her advice isn't treacly, which I appreciate. I also particularly want to thank the writer who put the words in Kasidy's mouth that it's her job to worry about herself. Few tropes in sci-fi/fantasy annoy me more than the morose hero who pushes away his girlfriend "for her safety." It's understandable that having a significant other on a ship in danger would raise a few ghosts for Sisko, but it's Kasidy's life and career and she gets to decide how to balance them against her safety and it's obviously important to her that Sisko acknowledge that. Between the O'Brien and Sisko scenes, I just really appreciate the fine grained approach to human emotion and human relationship. Life isn't lived in the big explosion moments; it's lived the quiet, everyday ones, and it's as much the small moments that nurture a relationship as the grand gestures, so I really responded to the crew reaching out to help this woman, and because of the attenuated nature of the set up, ended up helping themselves.
Matthew: I appreciate the Sisko/Kasidy stuff, but wish it had been set up more in prior shows. I agree that Cusak's advice is good - it would be really easy to go for some pap about how you need these relationships. "She doesn't belong there" is much more interesting. The funeral kind of bugged me - O'Brien's stuff was pretty good, but Bashir made it all about himself. Also, were all of the people present supposed to have talked with her? If so, why not ditch the B plot and actually show some of that?
Kevin: I go back and forth on whether the twist at the end was worthwhile. Would it have been less sad if they had missed her by an hour as opposed to three years? Also, I find it hard that no one on either side of the conversation would have given away something to indicate a temporal disconnect. Actually, now that I think about it, having them realize it while she was conscious could have been more wrenching, for both sides of the conversation to be aware that it was beyond hopeless.
Matthew: They basically did nothing with the sci-fi twist, which makes me question why it's there at all. There were no clues that she was out of time, which could have been an interesting mystery. Nothing in particular hinged on the time displacement - no piece of crucial information, no plot element. No relationships were even altered. They were already worried about getting to her in time - maybe if someone had fallen in love with her and then had the rug pulled from them... but overall it was just sort of the reason she was dead and not alive, that's all. I also think it is quite questionable how the Defiant's transmissions got to her at all. Time dilation and contraction in regular Minkowski Spacetime only works in one direction - forward.
Kevin: I am getting in and out of the B-plot as quickly as possible. They continue to pitch Odo's love as "at Kira" rather than "with Kira," and it continues to annoy. Also, the idea that only Odo could catch the crime that at least four people are discussing openly is really a ding on the security staff, isn't it?
Matthew: Yep. I find it nearing character assassination to portray Odo as completely and totally oblivious to anything and everything when Kira enters scene. The whole subplot was annoying.
Kevin: I think Brooks and Meaney both did a good job giving their scenes with Cusak some nice weight, no mean feat given that they were surely talking to an off-camera PA. I also loved Johnson, as per usual, as Yates. She always has this warmth that really makes her feel part of the universe. Her scenes with Sisko were also good. They have rapport, and watching them portray one of the valleys of a long term relationship was well done.
Matthew: Colm Meaney was definitely the highlight of the episode from the main cast, though I agree that Brooks was good, too. As far as the B plot goes, I think Rene Auberjonois oversold his switching of gears from constable to fawning over Kira. Armin Shimerman was typically excellent. Actually, Cirroc Lofton was pretty good here, probably because he wasn't asked to do too much in the way of excitement or emoting.
Kevin: Debra Wilson, who I otherwise recognize as a regular on MadTV, did as good a job as she could, given the set up. She has a great voice for radio, and she emoted as well as she could, but I think it ended up at an 8/10, and I can't help but wonder if she had something more than a presumably empty recording booth to play off of.
Matthew: Wilson has an amazing voice, really, and I think she really sold the part. I had absolutely no idea who she was as an actress, and did not know, for instance, that the actress is African American. That sort of chameleon-like voice talent is really something - but especially fits a future universe like Trek, because there is nothing to date or place her to the viewer. Her IMDb page shows a ton of voice work, and it's clear why.
Kevin: The idea for using only Captain Cusak's voice is fun. She's distant, but that's what allows the crew to open up to her so easily. It doesn't quite work as well as they hoped it would, and based on interviews, I think the writers knew that. That being said, I think from a purely technical standpoint, the sound guy earned his paycheck. Her half of the conversation sounded like it was actually in the room and not merely layered in later.
Matthew: The talking scenes lent themselves to longer shots with different angles. The aforementioned bunk scene was the best composed. But - where is the ladder for the top bunk? It was pretty high, and I have a hard time imagining an older, rounder man like O'Brien wedging himself in there without something to climb on.
Kevin: As much as I am not a fan of the Kira/Odo relationship, you have to admit that Nana Visitor can really sell the Paris flapper look, can't she? I also like, but did not love the matte painting of the wreck of the Olympia. It was good, but a little murky. I am pinning this one as one I think would really benefit from the Blu-Ray upgrade.
Matthew: Kira should keep the flapper 'do. It is better by far than anything she's worn in the series. I actually really liked the use of the cave set this go-round. The rain added a lot of dynamism to the scenes, and they did the scene of death quite well.
Kevin: I have to go with a three. The B-plot is a throwaway and the twist about Cusak doesn't quite land the way they wanted it to, but we get a lot of really nicely built character work for the main cast and their relationships, and I am always entertained by this one.
Matthew: Yep, 3 all the way. A real mixed bag of good character scenes and not much else of note. I was not bored, but I wasn't thrilled or really moved emotionally, either. That makes our total a 6.