Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: Second Sight

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
"Second Sight"
Airdate: November 21, 1993
28 of 173 produced
28 of 173 aired

Introduction

When Sisko meets a strange woman on the station, his life intersects with that of an egotistical scientist. That's all I've got, folks.

Hey, baby, why so blue?




Writing

Matthew: Well, hello there, Season One. Long time no see! This episode returns us to the days of that season, when episodes dragged laboriously and stories failed to gel. Here, the parts that refuse to cohere are an egocentric terraformer (potentially interesting in a sci-fi vehicle) and a forbidden, disappearing love for Sisko (certainly something the character needed). I think, as with many season one shows, neither story gets the breathing room it needs, which is quite strange, given that so many scenes seem so padded and plodding.

Kevin: Where to start? I really do not like this episode. It is badly placed and unengaging. I agree the two stories are tacked together. I always skip this episode when rewatching season two. More than anything, this episode is painfully boring. I'll get to this more fully later in the review, but every source of conflict for the story is artificial and contorted to fit the need of the story.

Matthew: So, let's tackle Gideon Seyetik. I feel like the story didn't quite know what it was going for. Is he in fact someone worthy of his own high opinion, or is he a deeply insecure, broken man? It seemed like the story tried to have it both ways - it needed him to be compelling initially, it "humanized" him by making him feel insecure, then he went out with a blaze of glory at the end (which necessitated a case of the dum-dums, since Seyetik disabled the tractor beam on the Prometheus - guess security there kind of sucks, too). Which is it? And do I care? He tells Sisko that Nidell absolutely loves him, and he doesn't know why. Then, not ten minutes later, he tells him that she is desperately unhappy and wants out of the marriage. Was he lying? Are the writers just not keeping track? Why did Seyetik marry the chick at all, if he knew his track record for divorces? Then, she can't divorce "because Halanans mate for life." What does this mean? Is it a biological bonding, or just a cultural tradition? If the latter (or the former for that matter) how could it occur with an off-worlder?

Kevin: We've done egotistical scientist before, like Professor Stubbs in Evolution, but it had more layers there, and his ego served both A and B plot. Here it just served to make the character unlikeable. The Halanan's mating practice is just silly. It takes Seyetik from pompous to abusive to knowingly put her in this situation. Given more time to develop, they could have shown a loving relationship cracking under the stress of Seyetik's work pressure. As much as Sisko falls for Fenna because the script says to, so does Nidell for Seyetik.

Matthew: I kind of hate the "love" story. It suffers the flaws that so many trek love tales do, that the "love" develops too quickly and intensely, and fails to convince we, the audience of why it ought to exist. At least Sisko eventually states that what he and Fenna have "is only a dream," but he is still too willing to engage. But the larger issue is with the "psychoprojective telepathy" that is apparently a native Halanan ability. How and why would such an ability develop, if it threatens the life of the host being, and the host retains none of the information gained by the projection? I just don't see the evolutionary utility as stated in the story. If they had said that Halanans are too emotional and need the release, that might be something.

Kevin: I distinctly recall being slack-jawed at this explanation. How does it even work? How does a brain project a 3D object hundreds of feet away? It was tortured to make the problem we got. A real woman couldn't just disappear. A more integrated, rational use of the ability would have left a possible Nidell-Sisko pairing to clean up. They could have solved this by going for the more mature, interesting route. Have Sisko meet and fall for a woman, a mysterious but real woman, discover she is not only married, but married to the Federation dignitary of the week. It might read a bit like Perfect Mate, but at least that was a good episode.

Matthew: As someone who has purchased "The Universe Complete Series Megaset" and watched a good 3/4 of it, I have to take some serious issue with the VERY dodgy application of stellar science in this episode. Short of transmutation of elements, how does one "ignite" a "dead" star which is composed of elements heavier than both hydrogen and helium? Fusion of heavier elements than these leads to supernova, pure and simple. I just don't see how a small device could do such a thing, you'd have to either transport or replicate a stellar-sized source of hydrogen. And if you could do that, either you wouldn't need the dead star in the first place, or you'd spend a prohibitive amount of energy or time to create the reaction.

Kevin: Really any explanation of how they are converting heavier elements back to hydrogen or introducing more would have helped. I would have liked a shout out to Timicin's work from Half a Life.

Acting

Matthew: Though the script was lacking in terms of plot, there were some nice character moments that the actors took advantage of. Avery Brooks did a good job of humanizing Sisko during his interactions with O'Brien, Kira, Dax, Quark, and Jake (sorry Doctor and Odo...). I didn't really believe his interactions with Fenna, though, but this is more on the script than on Brooks.

Kevin: I always like Sisko's scenes of being a father. The dinner scene and a few of the investigation scenes were pretty good. His interactions with Fenna were really stilted. Given how much of his life with Jennifer we saw, we know he can play romantic and engaging, so I am willing to blame the script too.

Matthew: Fenna. Ugh. Salli Elise Richardson just didn't do it for me in either role. She wasn't fascinating as Fenna, and she was stiff and annoying as Nidell. Neither character seemed worth uprooting your life for, let alone hurling yourself into a star.  I liked Richard Kiley a lot as Seyetik, and I wish the episode had focused almost solely on him. If they had jettisoned the Halanan angle and just had he and Siko compete for one woman, it probably would have been pretty good.

Kevin: Yeah. Thinking back to Perfect Mate, Famke Jansen really leapt off the screen and for more than mere looks really made you believe she would be worth risking your career for. Richard Kiley was sadly wasted. He played Don Quixote in the original cast of Man of La Mancha, and whenever this episode comes up in the queue, I just go listen to that instead. He has a great presence and voice, and even with a weak script, he fully committed.

Production Values

Matthew: The star husk doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It looks like it is made out of stone, as opposed to heavy elements still smoldering with radiant energy. And what is the star husk lit by? The way the scene was shot just didn't convince me. Neither did the rebirth of the star, for that matter.

Kevin: I learned long ago to not question the ambient light in deep space. The star was not great. They should have just gone with a dwarf star.

Matthew: The Prometheus gives us our first extended look at a Nebula Class ship. Graceful and pretty it ain't. But it's still fun to see a new starship model in detail. Fenna's maroon dress was awful. The actress was somewhat pear shaped (though not unpleasantly) as it was, but this dress made her look really hippy and squat. The wrong look for the wrong woman.

Kevin: TNG got a lot of mileage out of a redressed battle bridge and DS9 should have borrowed it. The bridge was large and empty and oddly shaped. The whole ship look unfinished inside. The external shots were great. Fenna fell victim to the complicated up-do that has taken so many guest stars before her. Agreed on costuming. You can't be seductive if you can't move and both outfits seemed really stiff.

Matthew: Apparently, this was a bad redress of the STVI Excelsior bridge, FWIW.

Conclusion

Matthew: This is a really frustrating 2. Elements of the show could have been reworked and better emphasized, making this either a really good sci-fi story (stellar science) or a good romance (a true love triangle). Instead, we get a bunch of stuff that just kind of bores us and doesn't really teach us about anything, characters or science. But there is enough here to make it rise above "Move Along Home" status. Ugh. Definitely the worst of this season so far.

Kevin
: This is a 2 for me, too. More than anything, it's boring, almost unwatchably so. That makes for a sad return to a 4, a first for this season.

5 comments:

  1. The quality of the episode aside, I find it rather satisfying that he finally reached his unreachable star. (I might be a nerd. Might.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have no idea how mad I am at myself for not making that joke first.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why is Sisko always paired up with a black love interest everytime he is given a romantic interest? It really bugs me. I notice it in a lot of movies/shows from that time too: you have a black lead and then you have a black female introduced and then, what do you know, they become interested in each other and start dating/fucking. It is so lame and 20th century.

    It really bugged me that Cassidy also ended up being black. I thought race did not matter or was sort of like no longer an issue in the 24th century.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See also: Aquiel.

      Whatever its other faults, Enterprise did give Travis a non-black girlfriend. TNG did pair Geordi with Christi Henshaw in Transfigurations, but he was magically augmented at the time.

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