Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Deep Space Nine, Season 6: His Way

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlDeep Space Nine, Season 6
"His Way"
Airdate: April 15, 1998
141 of 173 produced
141 of 173 aired


A semi-sentient hologram's advice precipitates Odo's successful romantic conquest of Major Kira.

Ooh, baby. When a kiss looks this awkward and unnatural, it must be good!

Matthew: This episode is the bastard child of The Outrageous Okona ("other" character using the holodeck to understand humanity) and Hollow Pursuits (using the holodeck to inappropriately recreate coworkers). To begin with, this episode is boring. There are a lot of slow, talky, darkly lit scenes, or scenes in which Odo mimes playing piano that go on FORRRR-EVVVVVER. But beyond that, the romantic comedy cliches that Kira-Odo are reduced to are painful and cheesy to watch. Any character work we get here for Odo has been done better in prior episodes. Now, he is a pining lech (willing to use a simulacrum of Kira for his own edification) instead of just a pining shy romantic. The Big Finale Kiss strains my credulity beyond almost any boundaries of the established parameters of both characters. The notion of these people putting their affection on such public display is laughable, which means that this climax is cheap and easy, and anything but realistic.

Kevin: Back in "A Simple Investigation," we saw Odo form a romantic attachment to a new woman, and the writers discussed at the time that they saw that as the final note on the Odo/Kira romance, and boy howdy should they have stuck to that. I don't even have a problem with Odo's action per se in "Children of Time." Even if he was not in love love with her, I could still see him taking drastic actions to prevent her death. But this resolution still feels unearned and out of nowhere. I agree that the climax is out of character, both play their personal lives extremely close to the vest.

Matthew: Odo and Kira should have too much water under the bridge to pair up. Odo betrayed her in the big multi-parter, and she said he was "way past sorry." He also murdered thousands of alternate reality persons, real people with real hopes and dreams, to save her in ""Children of Time," which ought to be a libido killer on a cosmic scale. But wait, you say. Didn't they hash things out at Dax's party in "You Are Cordially Invited?" Well of course they did. OFF CAMERA. I'm sorry, folks, the groundwork simply has not been laid for this romance to feel anything other than arbitrary and wrong.

Kevin: Maybe had the episode more directly engaged the actions of "Children of Time" and the war arc, I think this might have felt more substantive. The problem here is that infatuation and love are being conflated into one and the same. Odo has not been in love with Kira, he's been in love at her for several years. If your goal is a fade to credit "happily ever after," you can work with that, but if you're setting up something more, you need to resolve the obvious roadblocks to a relationship. If they were really serious about this, that could have been a fun path. You start with the goal of simply repairing an important friendship and that leads to something more, rather than paying off a plot thread invented back in season 3.

Matthew: Vic Fontaine is too self-aware and too autonomous. He jumps the shark when he breaks into Kira's program - this effectively means that he is some sort of tunneling self-aware computer virus, capable of breaking the bonds of his own isolinear programming rod and just doing whatever the hell he feels like on DS9. In another story, this might BE the story, but here isn't in service of a stupid rom-com setup, in which he lies (this is a hologram, mind you) to two sentient beings in order to trick them into necking.

Kevin: They will eventually learn to use Fontaine quite well I think, but he starts off too far too fast. It seems like someone managed to craft a hologram who, out of the box, is about the season 6 version of the EMH. It raises real ethical questions that you have created an apparently sapient, possibly sentient, being that exists only to entertain you. Mind you, I would watch the episode that explores said issues, but here, it's just treated as a novelty. That being said, I found his scenes largely entertaining, though again, I think they'll find a better balance later on.

Matthew: Probably the worst sin of this show is how it portrays female agency in romantic relationships. While we've been given (and given, and given...) plenty of evidence of Odo's feelings for Kira, we've been given none, zero, zilch indication that Kira returns them in any way, shape or form. She's just not into him. But wait, nerd boys with unrequited crushes! All you have to do is somehow cajole, trick, or stalk a woman into liking you! SIGH. 19 year-old me might not have picked up on this. But thirty-something me sees it immediately. Kira is not being treated as a rational being with agency by this story. She is a prop. It's insulting to all rational beings, not just to women.

Kevin: 16 and 32 year-old Kevin respectively has much the same assessment. It nagged me at the time, but really actively bothers me now. Particularly on the agency for Kira issue, Odo's actions merit a great deal of scrutiny. I would not go so far as to say Odo killed the colonists in "Children of Time," as I said in the review the progeny the crew will sire in the Alpha Quadrant has an much right to come into being as the ones in the Gamma Quadrant, unless you want to start talking about 'destiny' in a real way, but Kira herself was clearing fine with dying if it meant allowing that future to happen. There was not the slightest hint that she was ambivalent about the decision, quite the opposite. I guess we're really coming down hard on this because it's so pervasive, in fantasy and science fiction in particular of women being treated like a goal and not a person. If they had managed to develop her feelings better, I could at least buy it. Shows sometimes make decisions that I do not personally like, but if you can support it, I can respect it. Here, it was all done by fiat and a season after the entire thread was apparently resolved. There is one other element I kind of wish they had explored, and again, it may have saved the plotline: what does it mean to be in love/loved by Odo? If they wanted to find some spin on the relationship that explored Odo's otherness more effectively, that could have been fun.


Matthew: So. James Darren. He definitely has "cool Rat Pack guy" down. So there's that. What I don't know is whether he has anything else down. He has a certain charm, but I can't shake the feeling that he sticks out like a sore thumb in the Trek universe. His character is supposed to be self aware (or something), but I can't say that it impacts Darren's performance in any particular way. He can sing reasonably well, but isn't much more than a warmed-over Tony Bennett impersonator on that score. I'm pretty "meh" over the whole thing, I guess.

Kevin: Part of the problem is that he exists only to propel another plotline. They'll really put him to good use in "It's Only a Paper Moon," so I think they just need to work out the bugs. As it stands, I was sufficiently entertained by his performance, if not bowled over.

Matthew: Rene Auberjonois is traveling over well-trod ground, here. He's already done the painful unrequited crush thing, as well as the painful social awkwardness thing. I guess that painful piano impersonator thing is new, but I can't say I enjoyed it that much. Nana Visitor has a lot of heavy lifting to do, making us believe that her character has basically gone from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds with no warm-up. I don't think either actor was really committed to the story idea, and that it shows in subtle ways in their performances. I didn't really believe her conversion to the "Let's Screw Odo It's So Right" camp.

Kevin: I will admit to thoroughly enjoying her performance of "Fever." Plot issues aside, Visitor is a trained dancer and her stage roots showed. According to Memory Alpha, she picked the song becasue of a memory of a family friend performing it when she was a child. That probably explains why I liked the performance so much. There was actually something for the actress to hang on to in performing the song, and it showed for me. Both actors have discussed how after six years of working together, it felt vaguely incestuous to do a romance, and I agree it shows. They have rapport, but not necessarily chemistry. I don't think either phoned it in, certainly; they are professionals and it shows, but it does lack something, doesn't it.

Production Values:

Matthew: There were certainly some nice period sets here. Both the night club and the swingin' Vegas pad were well realized, though perhaps the club was a bit (understandably for TV) small. The stage and musicians had a ring of authenticity. A special shout out should go to the clearance rights for various lounge hits. They definitely added something to the tableaux.

Kevin: Yeah, I would place this on par with Sandrine's in Voyager. The set is certainly well realized, and I really liked the costuming as well.


Matthew: I can't go above a 2 here. I was bored, but also irritated. The Vic Fontaine character made no sense given established rules of Trek and holograms. The relationship felt completely inorganic, and Kira's agency did not feel like it was respected to me. I don't think it's a 1, because it has redeeming facets. But I don't like it.

Kevin: I'm forced to agree with the 2. Had they found some way to solve the problem of Kira's reciprocation coming out of nowhere, I could go with a 3, but as it stands, it just feels like they should have left well-enough alone. That's a total of 4.

1 comment:

  1. I completely and adamantly disagree with everything said in this review :) I dont think it is boring, cheesy, ridiculous, over the top or that Odo and Kira don't belong together.

    I can imagine how a 12 year old first watching this and being all for adventure and sci fi, would find it boring, but re-watching the show (or this particular episode) as an adult, I must say I loved everything about it, and let it be said that I dont like romantic comedies or romantic movies at all and am certainly not one to go for sentimentalities (i.e. The Inner Light). But this episode just feels so right to me. It is like a symphony, from start to finish - from the first note opening with Vic singing a Jazz ballade in a Vegas 1960s lounge act to the last scene where he does the same, it felt like one circle - one act you can follow note to note, beginning to end.

    Odo and Kira have come a long way as colleagues and friends and the timing of theri romance was perfect, as was the climax. Had we seen this in season 3 or right after "Children of Time", yeah it would have been lame and out of place, but at this stage in their lives, with all that's been said and done, all they have been through, it seemed right. Like they had earned it.

    In fact, one of the things I do love about the Odo/Kira romance is that things have not been rushed. Their romance doesnt feel rushed, fake and unreal like that of Worf and Jadzia or Sisko and Kassidy (good grief to the latter).

    The actions that took place when the Female Changeling had her fangs in him during the occupation of the Station as well as what Odo did during Children of Time are hardly deal breakers and irredeemable acts for a character. I mean, re Children of Time; that Sisko et al should all die and give up their lives and families so they can save all these people on some random colony was debatable to begin with, so whatever. I dont know those people, I dont care for them, so who cares?

    I also dont understand where that insulting female agency thing comes from. No, we do not get to hear much about how Kira feels about Odo in this very episode, but we dont need to. We have had 6 seasons to know that she cares for him deeply, that she respects him immensely and that their relationship means a lot to her. Yes, theirs is not the kind of obvious "I want to fuck your brains out you amazing human being" type of romance, but that is because they are not your typical characters. That doesnt mean they dont have a rapport and a very deep connection.

    Finally, Odo did not "cajole, trick, or stalk" Kira into wanting him. Vic did. If anything, Odo was the one who never felt entitled and never was pushy or manipulative. On the contrary. I mean the whole point about Odo is that he doesnt understand the human need for "pretext" and all these rituals. The need for romance and partnering up and all the other humanoid ways of doing things. How can he be accused of being a creepy stalker who manipulates women with his "good guy" sense of entitlement?

    He always struck me as a shy, insecure person (when it came to love and Kira) who knew his place and never wanted to cross the line or even utter a word, even if it came at a grand cost to him and his emotional needs (remember Shikaar and how he didnt tell Kira how he felt about her?)

    It was actually Vic who cajoled and tricked Odo into having dinner with the real Kira while letting him believe it was the fake one, so he lets his guard down. Odo never wanted Vic to do that for him.

    Anyway, I really do love the set up of this entire episode and truly found the Vic Fontaine/Kira-Odo fusion entertaining and delightful. Fontaine is an incredibly likeable character for me and his interaction with the crew is refreshing.