Saturday, November 19, 2016

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: Chrysalis Space Nine, Season 7
Airdate: October 28, 1998
153 of 173 produced
153 of 173 aired


Bashir's genetically engineered friends bring Sarina to the station in the hopes that Bashir can cure her of her catalepsy. But Bashir must weigh whether to pursue a relationship with her when she comes out of her torpid state as a complete neophyte to romance.

You know what? The end IS near! Maybe we should start tying up some story threads?


Kevin: I like the idea of this episode. There's some fertile ground here, and we liked what issues the genetically enhances people raised last time. Sadly, I don't think it quite achieves any of the really interesting stuff. The closest we get is the sadness the others feel when they realize that Sarina won't be coming back with them and that the treatment that worked for her won't work for them. It gave some real depth to the characters. Their world is small and just got smaller. I think it would have been interesting to really dig into that. If Sarina's disability had been something less severe than outright catalepsy, it would have been interesting to see how she navigated it. As in "Melora," just because a person is what we would view as disabled, it doesn't mean that they do nor that they must do something to change it. There's a similar discussion in the Deaf community, and I think exploring that angle would have been really interesting.

Matthew: I found the engineered characters outside of Sarina to be annoying more than anything. When we no longer can look forward to development of them or their stories, they are really just a collection of irritating tics and idiosyncrasies - especially the Jack character. They could have been dispensed with entirely, really. The previous story featuring them had a wonderful sci-fi hook, which made their irritations more palatable. This doesn't (though I will say I enjoyed the throwaway idea of reversing the entropic decay of the universe).

Kevin: The thing I like least, by a mile, is Bashir falling for Sarina and acting on it. I understand that not all ethical conceits of the 21st century apply to DS9, but the prohibition of doctors dating their patients seems like a pretty straight forward one, particularly given how profoundly altering the treatment was. I get Bashir being attracted to her, if only because he finally has a kindred spirit. But the episode would have been much more interesting and less annoying had it been about him feeling the attraction but not act on it. It's not like Bashir has a great track record with women, but this is kind of ridiculous. He has to know that even if an attraction is genuine, which is not a given, because of the slew of emotional turmoil topped off with gratitude that makes getting into a relationship at all right now, let alone with her doctor, suspect. Come to think of it, I had the same complaint back in Melora. At least that episode had a little more fun watching a non-saintly person navigate a handicap.

Matthew: Things took on a distinctly creepy vibe when Bashir started taking advantage of the false intimacy that had been created between them. She is essentially a child in a woman's body, at least emotionally speaking, and the power dynamics at play here were extremely squicky. When Sarina protested that she did not know what to feel, I kind of wished the episode would just go for it and tell us the story of why doctors and patients, especially mentally challenged ones, should not become romantically involved. O'Brien had seemed reticent to offer his support - he should have made it explicitly clear that it was because he thought it unethical. A counselor with 8 lifetimes of experience certainly should have been able to make that call, too. Then, the story here could have been Bashir learning a hard lesson about himself, instead of hoping to find his soul mate or something.

Kevin: The one joke in this episode that really landed was the Admiral Patrick bit. Nog was precisely as annoyed and embarrassed as he should, and the joke has a real kernel of truth in it. Most people would much rather lets a person without the right credentials through then risk offending a superior officer. And Patrick intoning "That's a stupid question!" is always good for a chuckle.

Matthew: Maybe it's just our post-9/11 worldview here, but I disagree. I found the plot device unbelievable. Would someone in wartime, a war against changelings no less, be able to get past many, many layers of security and identity checks, purely on the strength of trying to embarrass people into inaction? I would have preferred faked credentials or something, a method that reinforced their superior skill and intelligence.


Kevin: Look, no one did a bad job per se. Even Siddig did his best with the material at hand. I bought his enthusiasm well enough. I just think it was a bad decision overall that made me not care no matter how good acting would be. I also was not overly impressed by chemistry between Faith Salie and Siddig. I think Salie, whom I otherwise really like as a regular panelist on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, did a good job with the seems of being enthralled and/overwhelmed by her new experience.

Matthew: To some degree of course, it makes sense that they have no chemistry. She's not actually even into him. Has she gone through puberty yet? Who can say. I agree that Faith Salie's performance sold the basic experience of coming out of a long torpor. I also believed Bashir's longing and isolation, and I can't fault Siddig for not playing things that weren't on the page. 

Production Values

Kevin: There wasn't really a lot here in terms of effects. The singing scene didn't light me on fire. Full disclosure however, I tend to not like singing in my sci-fi fantasy. I tend to skip right over the songs in Lord of the Rings while reading them or normally find characters singing in nothing in particular on to avoid copyright TV shows kind of awkward, which I did here. I get its utility as a plot device, but I just didn't enjoy watching it probably since it was all scales and random harmonies than anything terribly interesting.

Matthew: I agree that using music in a show like this is a tough proposition. The most successful application in Trek, obviously, is in "Lessons." "When the Bough Breaks" was also pretty good. What unites those episodes is that the music was quite good, qua music, and it fit the characters quite well, especially in "Lessons." Here, the music is pretty mediocre, and it doesn't really tell us anything about Sarina. Has she always wanted to sing, or something? I want to make a note on the makeup - I found the use of lip makeup on Faith Salie to be really distracting and unbelievable. Why do pallid lips indicate catalepsy, while red lips indicate engagement with the world? And how did her lips go back to pallid when she was faking being cataleptic?


Kevin: I have to go with a 2 here. The underlying ideas are there, but I am so, so annoyed by Bashir dating another patient that I just can't be generous to this episode.

Matthew: I think this almost reaches a 1 because of the ethical tone deafness of the writing, but baseline story and acting competency brings it back from the brink into 2 territory. That makes our total a 4.

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