Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: Prodigal Daughter Space Nine, Season 7
"Prodigal Daughter"
Airdate: January 6, 1999
157 of 173 produced
157 of 173 aired


Ezri returns to her home world when Chief O'Brien goes missing there. Tangled business dealings and fractured family dynamics make finding a missing person even more complicated.

New Sydney looks like the GOP's fantasy planet. Drill, baby, drill!


Kevin: My initial issue with this episode is that it feels fairly shoehorned in. Most of the episodes this season focus at least tangentially on the war, so this one of itself a little jarring, and it's being done because Ezri needs some backstory and episodes where she gets the A story. That's not to say the episode is bad or anything, just that I can see the seams a little more than I like. The other issue is that the setup of chasing O'Brien chasing the Bilby woman isn't exactly scintillating. It wasn't an interesting episode that introduced this plot and I wasn't really eager to follow up on it.

Matthew: I didn't mind shoe-horning an Ezri origin story into DS9 at all. Her introduction was unusual, and it makes sense that her character would be unusual as well. But the inclusion of O'Brien was really forced, and you're right, utterly boring. Not being able to see this lady really blunted my ability to care what had happened to her.

Kevin: With those issues out of the way, there's a lot to recommend this episode. I like some of the world building. It's a nice reminder that not every non-human lives on their species homeworld, and they might even live on non-Federation worlds. The economics of the Federation don't bear too much scrutiny, but I can let that go. I also liked seeing Trills treat being joined with something less than outright reverence. That makes a certain sense that given that the party line at least is that less than 1 in a 1,000 are fit for joining that most Trills have to navigate their lives without ever being joined or probably even meeting people who are.

Matthew: I found the scenes between the two brothers, with no one else on screen, to be deeply weird.  It just breaks the usual convention of having a main cast member on screen at all times. It also features characters that aren't even in Starfleet or a similar space service as the main anchors of a scene. Was their story relatively involving? Yes. This is a look at a part of future life that has always interested me, the economic and manufacturing sides. I wouldn't say the story goes as deep as I might have liked, but the family stuff was interesting, too, especially since Ezri has the counseling background. I liked the aspect of her wanting to leave home ASAP but feeling guilty about it. It makes total sense for her Starfleet career. 

Kevin: The solution to the mystery tipped its hand a little early. Once we knew the family was doing business however unwillingly with the Orion Syndicate, it was obvious that someone in the house was the murderer. I liked watching Ezri navigate the fallout of that. I also enjoyed watching a fairly ordinary mildly dysfunctional family. I almost think it would be better if they had jettisoned the murder plot and just done a flashback (as annoying as they are) to when Ezri was first being joined to fill in this part of her life. The family dynamics themselves all worked well from a character standpoint. I bought the portrayal of the mother who built an empire, but the same skills that let her do that probably also make her a bit imperious with her kids. All three Tigan children neatly fit into the roles children do in these dramas. Janel is the oldest child who voluntarily/involuntarily bears the burden of responsibility. Norvo is the baby who rebels against the overprotectiveness of his family but is in fact unequipped to handle the world. Basically, this was August Osage County if Osage County were on another planet.

Matthew:  The last scene may have been telegraphed a bit, but I thought it worked. Ezri's mother asking for absolution (and not receiving it) was a really interesting scene. I think the economics were a bit squishy - an Orion Syndicate demanding money for help and capital makes sense in our world. But does it make sense in the Trek world? I think a little more needed to be done to explain it. I was kind of mystified why a world called "New Sydney" would not be under the jurisdiction of the Federation.


Kevin: DeBoer has to carry the episode and I think she does. I bought all her emotional reactions at each point in the story and she did a good job portraying a unique history with each of the members of her family. I also want to give a shout out to her comedy chops. Her recitation and reaction to the laundry list of gagh was pretty good.

Matthew: Her two best scenes were describing the gagh, in which I could really believe that her gorge was rising and she had to leave; and the final scene, when she couldn't comfort her mother. So all in all, it was a fine performance.

Kevin: Leigh Taylor-Young did a good job. There was an air of the 80s nighttime soap opera corporate bitch to her performance that I really responded to. Her sister is Dey Young, who played Hannah Bates in "The Masterpiece Society" and Arissa in "A Simple Investigation," and they both share that elegance combined with a sharpness that makes them good foils for the main case. I've liked Kevin Rahm in other things he's in, but I was a little underwhelmed with his Norvo. There just wasn't enough in the script for me to care about why he did what he did.

Matthew: I think Rahm did what he needed to do, even if the script let him down a bit. I think he effectively conveyed the "downtrodden artist" feeling that the character required. I found Mikael Salazar a bit underwhelming as Janel. He just came off as kind of a jerk, and not in an interesting way.

Production Values

Kevin: The Tigan estate is a fun matte painting, but I can't imagine people actually wanting to live there. The interiors were varied, if not decorated with some painfully 90s decor. Even with the addition of some caves, it's not the most diverse and expansive off world set the show has done. Not bad, but not great.

Matthew: The matte was the best in the franchise thus far, hands down. It looked like a real and interesting place, it had movement, and it had time of day changes. I liked the interior, too, personally. The dining and living rooms were very "Architecture Digest," while Norvo's room was convincingly artsy and slovenly at the same time. I thought they created some interesting art for Norvo, too.


Kevin: I think this settles into a 3. As character history, it's competent, but not extraordinary. Nicole deBoer does a good job acting like she knows these people and I like her enough to hang on through the episode. The O'Brien element just kind of lays there, though, and the result is an episode that is good, but not much more than that.

Matthew: Yeah, I agree on the 3, for a total of 6. The questions raised about the world were not answered in a deep enough way. But the Ezri story worked, and I was glad it was told.

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