Friday, December 14, 2012

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: Invasive Procedures

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
"Invasive Procedures"
Airdate: October 17, 1993
23 of 173 produced
23 of 173 aired


The station is being manned by a skeleton crew to weather a passing ion storm. A ship, apparently in distress, comes to the station for help. The people aboard, however, quickly take control of the station and their leader reveals their real reason for coming to DS9. His name is Verad, and he is an unjoined Trill and wants Jadzia's symbiont, Dax. Separating them will kill Jadzia, but Verad threatens to kill everyone else if they don't comply. Will Sisko be able to save his friend?
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Kevin: This is a good episode, a very good episode in fact. It does what season one failed to do. It has both an interesting problem, and a drama driven by character interactions. Like last season's "Dax," the problem gives us a closer look into Trill society. We learned a lot about joined Trills, now we get a look, at apparently, the vast majority of society that will never be joined. I would have liked a deeper look, and maybe a little coloring of aristocracy in the joined Trill. Given that all the Trill we have met have been joined or aspiring joined Trills, and they only represent a tiny fraction of Trill society, it makes you wonder why unjoined Trills aren't more common in Starfleet or the galaxy at large. Still, it adds a layer to the Trill, and that's good.

Matthew: I liked this episode less than I did "Dax," and here's why. In that show, we learned quite a bit about Curzon, and the way that Sisko related to him, and to Jadzia. The contrast between the relationships was interesting and revealing. In this episode, we don't really learn a whole lot about anybody, with the possible exception of Verad. I agree that the look at Trill society was welcome, but unsatisfying. How many joined people are there in this society? How much of oneself does one lose to the symbiont? Are these people treated as celebrities? Are the ruling elite of Trill joined? How in the heck did this arrangement evolve, both biologically and societally? If the joining is so rare, why would all Trill have a kagaroo pouch ready for a passenger?

Kevin: The drama itself is pretty creepy. The unpopulated station is kind of unsettling, particularly in Ops, where the lack of extras milling about is noticeable. The threat is off a darker nature than most Star Trek villains. Rarely does the bad guy state so bluntly upfront his plan is in fact to kill a main character, not merely threaten it if he doesn't get his [insert vaccine/mineral/artifact here]. After O'Brien gets shot, and Jadzia agrees to go with them, it's really gripping, given where the characters and the audience knows about the stakes.

Matthew: I remarked to Kelly while watching this - "Well, here's one way to save on paying extras." And I think I'm right about it. There was really no reason story-wise for the storm. I hate to compare this to "Dax" again, but a very similar plot unfolded (abduction sequence leading to drama), but that episode had extras galore. As far as the plot went, I just wasn't as gripped as you were. I never once worried whether the symbiont would return to Jadzia.

Kevin: Like the last few episodes, the leavening moments of humor were great because they were all in character. Quark in particular was great, the fake screaming, and his joking dismissal of his suggestion that they leave Odo in the locked box were great. Other little moments, like Bashir comforting Jadzia after the surgery, or Kira coolly stating that if "Odo is free, you're not getting off this station," were great because they both propelled the episode in terms of drama, but were also exactly what you would expect those characters to say. I particularly enjoyed watching Sisko manipulate everyone. It was really well done, and it was clear that his friendship with Dax was informing his interactions with Verad, but that he wasn't above using it to try to outmaneuver him.

Matthew: I agree on Sisko. I think his was the only character we really learn something about - that he is more manipulative and devious than we might have suspected. The way he plays on his friendship with Curzon seems really weird at first, but then makes perfect sense as he turns the tables, using his knowledge of Curzon to appeal to a changed Verad. Where I don't think this went the extra mile is in making Sisko's friendship with Jadzia seem just as real. I don't think this episode could, unless the kidnapping had happened much later in the plot. The show has just done precious little in building their relationship (and, I hate to mention it again, but "Dax" is pretty much it outside of the series pilot).

Kevin: The episode is not perfect, however. Quark gets a lot of leeway, but this is really beyond the pale. I would have liked a still culpable but less morally bankrupt role for Quark here. He was too necessary for the plot to succeed for him not be held more responsible. Armin Shimerman has said something similar about this episode. If Jadzia actually died, he would be guilty in our legal system of felony murder, no two ways about it, so it's a bit of "reset button" issue that it all goes back to normal. Also, the plasma storm was a little too tailored to be a real thing. If it really presents a risk to the station, why would you want a skeleton crew? It's a big station and you figure you would need a lot of people to keep it going. Also, for all the threat the storm allegedly held, it was little more than fog, serving only to isolate the station or justify four people taking over the station.

Matthew: The Quark angle is ridiculous, and I can't believe it got past the editorial staff. It's the kind of thing that can ruin an episode for me.  If they had addressed it, if they had imprisoned Quark, or confiscated his bar, or fined him, or something, this could have been a really interesting development for the show, and for the Quark character. I got the sense the writers tried to redeem him a tad when he jumped the klingon, but it was played for laughs. You would think that Quark, who had expressed such attraction to Jadzia in past episodes, might be wracked by guilt. Nope. Nada. It's really pretty egregious as writing sins go. It's Abrams-level stupid. I don't like using those terms to describe real Star Trek. But I have to here. This is Kirk-not-graduating-the-Academy stupid.


Kevin: Great job all around. The change in Jadzia without Dax was great. There was something heartbreaking about the terrified young woman left behind. My issues with the character's consequences aside, Armin Shimerman was hilarious and he's really a master at pitching his humor to buoy, not distract from a serious episode. Brooks was really good, too. No shouting, just a quiet, expert play at manipulating the circumstances.

Matthew: I agree on the general all around praise, but I feel obliged to point out some leaden acting yet again from Siddig El Fadil. I just didn't get enough of what should be his emotional conflict. I didn't feel that he was so sorry. He's just not there yet.

Kevin: The guest cast was top notch as well. Verad was great by turns as the milquetoast dweeb and the confident man he became. I would have liked to see more of the eventual Ezri-style struggle with the personalities, but I always Verad Dax as a little closer to Curzon, willing to bend rules to get what he wanted, and overall, both characters were well done.

Matthew: John Glover was indeed quite good as Verad. He displayed a lot of range, and was truly compelling once "joined" with the symbiont.

Kevin: Megan Gallagher was great too. It was a lot in the writing, but she gave the character life and depth and credible motivation for what she did, from beginning to end. I really got the feeling that she had feelings for Verad and not just because the script said so. Tim Russ was great as T'Kar. Rewatching this after Voyager premiered, I immediately recognized him from his voice.

Matthew: It's funny to see a main cast member from another show in such a different role, but it really speaks to his range. Nonetheless, we can't reward his for future work. His work in this episode is quite nice, beyond mere adequacy. He was a really memorable Klingon. Megan Gallagher should have been given a regular role on some series. She is that endearing and fun to watch.

Production Values

Kevin: Aside from the blue fog, this was a total bottle show, but again, between Ops and the Infirmary, there's plenty of visual interest. The symbiont looked better here than it has in the past, but I'm glad we only got fleeting looks at everything.

Matthew: I was pretty unimpressed by the symbiont operation. They had built it up as being risky and complicated, and all Bashir did was trim it with some garden shears. The fog had a very jaggy, composited look, and never felt like anything more than a video toaster effect in the worst tradition of early TNG seasons.


Kevin: This is between a 3 and a 4. It's a good story, well acted, and at least adequate staging, so the question is how much does Quark's anomalous forgiveness, and the contrived nature of the ion storm set up ding the episode? Certainly down from a 5, but I am still okay giving it a 4. The character interactions across the board are really, really interesting to watch, and the comedy moments in the Infirmary were masterfully done, on top of which we expanded the character and people of a main character. I always really enjoy watching this episode, so I happy putting it in the upper quartile of the show.

Matthew: For me, the question is how much to penalize this episode for the Quark element. It has to be a full point, in my opinion, because it's both unforgivably stupid as well as character assassinating. So what would I have given this without the role Quark played and suffered no consequences for? I think I would have given it a 3. I think the drama is a bit blunted, because it never seems like a real threat that we're going to lose a main cast member. Given that, I want to learn some things. Our revelations about Trill society were unsatisfying, and the character territory had really mostly been mined previous to this. Kevin, I think you're perfectly justified in thinking this is a good episode. It's a question of pet peeves and how much they bother us. This pet peeve, a raging case of the stupids, is among my most hated. So, with the Quark deduction, this gets a 2 from me, for a total of 6.

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