This is one of those episodes where I like it, but I don’t really feel like I have much to say about it? It’s fine! On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a solid six and a half or seven, and if I make a list of episodes in the first season that shouldn’t be skipped, this would be on it! It’s not bad enough for me to have a lot to say, but it’s also not good enough for me to have a lot to say, either. So we may be out of here quicker than usual, let’s find out!
First, can I just say that I love the resolution to the Weird Space Thing of the Week being “ehh, let’s just leave it where it is”? It fits so beautifully into a thread that runs throughout the show, of the station being something of a patchwork on a technical level. Having built, and then used, a Hackintosh (a computer that runs MacOS on PC hardware), not to mention comparing the experience of upgrading/replacing PC parts to replacing parts on my Mac back when that was just difficult rather than functionally impossible, I just really love the fact that O’Brien is essentially dealing with Federation software on Cardassian hardware (and possibly a Cardassian operating system? the graphic interface definitely isn’t the same as it is on Federation computers), and then decides yeah, sure, may as well just add this non-biological alien to the mix, too.
I love even more that this is the last we hear of this alien that I can recall? It’s just happily hanging out in the little subprogram forever, apparently? I find this completely hilarious and I’m not totally sure why.
Sisko appreciation time
I know I should really focus on Lwaxana and/or Odo in this episode, and I’ll get to that, but I just really need to talk once again about how much I love Benjamin Lafayette Sisko.
- Oh my LORD, his face when Bashir shows up in Ops with the ambassadors, and he has to deliberately keep his back to the lift and school himself into Diplomatic Pleasantness. Honestly, with every rewatch, I appreciate more and more how brilliant Avery Brooks is at conveying Sisko’s emotions — and the fact that remaining “professional” and controlling one’s emotions in the workplace can be hard work — in little moments like that. (I’m also sure that there’s a great deal to be written about Sisko’s careful emotional restraint and stereotypes of African-American people as having less restraint/being more emotional than white people, though as a white woman I do not feel confident in my ability to do justice to the topic.)
- Sisko’s amusement-bordering-on-schadenfreude in assigning Bashir ambassador-wrangling duty, oh my stars. I don’t think it was intended this way, but I can’t help seeing it as payback for Bashir’s haranguing of Jadzia: congratulations, my guy, now you get to deal with people making endless demands on your time, attention, and energy! Sure, two wrongs don’t make a right, but it’s not like Sisko is relentlessly hitting on Bashir; someone needs to do the job, and this way Bashir gets a lesson in the importance of giving people some friggin’ breathing room once in awhile. Less “two wrongs actually do make a right sometimes”, more “two birds with one stone”.
- Sisko is so entertained by Odo’s confusion around Lwaxana’s interest in him and I LOVE IT, I stand forever by my tweet that everyone on this station is a messy bitch who lives for drama.
Speaking of Lwaxana and Odo…
Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed
I meant to rewatch at least some of Lwaxana’s TNG appearances in preparation, so I could refresh my memory and maybe go into some detail about how her DS9 appearances are (or aren’t) different. I did not do this. Fortunately, unlike Q or Vash, Lwaxana has a couple more appearances on DS9, so that’s something for y’all to look forward to when we get to “Fascination” in season three.
Certainly, in general, she’s very much the same brash, flirtatious person, but even with only having foggy memories of her TNG appearances, I feel like the change in context makes for some more interesting dynamics. She’s not here as Deanna’s overbearing mother, she’s here as an ambassador. Though she only has a few appearances on DS9, I feel like she has some interesting moments and growth — hell, she and Odo end up as close enough friends that he’s willing to go in on a marriage of convenience to help her.
Speaking of her and Odo…sighhhhh. I have no doubt it is evidence of a double standard on my part that I’m not nearly as annoyed by Lwaxana’s pursuit of Odo as I am by Bashir’s pursuit of Jadzia. And, you know, don’t get me wrong, I do find it annoying! But it helps a great deal that…
- We only have to deal with it a couple of times over the course of several seasons
- I know Odo and Lwaxana end up becoming close friends
- This is the first episode where we really get much insight into Odo’s past or his emotions, so the interactions between him and Lwaxana end up serving a purpose beyond “ha ha, not taking no for an answer is funny if it’s a woman (especially an older woman, since older women are unfuckable)”. Apparently Rene Auberjonois has named this as one of his favorite episodes for just that reason.
I also find myself in a place where I’m actually kind of annoyed with the show on Lwaxana’s behalf: like Quark, I feel like we’re not meant to take her seriously enough for her sexuality to be anything but a joke.
As with Bashir, who I’ve complained about a lot this season and has mostly been redeemed in the moments when we’re reminded that he does take his job really seriously and is also really friggin’ good at it, Lwaxana also gets a redeeming moment in this episode. Her connection with Odo, and their genuine shared intimacy, is just…really lovely? As with Bashir being genuinely competent, Lwaxana is shown to be capable of real insight, recognizing that Odo needs someone to demonstrate real emotional vulnerability first before he can even consider showing any himself.
(And apparently Betazoids can’t read shapeshifters’ thoughts or emotions, so that she’s able to recognize this and figure out how to connect with him in a meaningful way shows more perceptiveness and emotional intelligence than she’s typically given credit for.)
Still got some concerns about workplace health and safety tbh
Odo regenerates every sixteen hours. The station runs on a twenty-six-hour day, so that’s ten hours of sleep. OK, sounds fine. But he is…clearly not in great shape in his fifteenth hour! I’m usually getting sleepy in the hour before my typical bedtime, but I’m not in nearly as bad a state as Odo is. Is the implication of “every sixteen hours” meant to be that he usually does regenerate more often, and sixteen is just the absolute maximum? I hope so, because he should clearly not be staying up for sixteen hours regularly. Sleep is important, Odo! Take care of yourself!
I feel like I hardly even need to say it, but Lwaxana, bless her. LET LWAXANA BE HORNY AT SOMEONE WHO APPRECIATES HER, STAR TREK!!!
4 thoughts on “1.17: “The Forsaken””
Lwaxana works SO MUCH BETTER on DS9 than TNG!
Mostly because, revisiting her TNG appearances, and her interactions with Deanna — okay, I’m not saying that Lwaxana’s a narcissist, but Deanna definitely lurks on r/raisedbynarcissists for tips. That’s a very 2019 interpretation, of course, but Lwaxana’s preoccupation with Deanna’s appearance and sexuality has not aged well.
But separate her from that, and suddenly she’s a cool old lady who’s DTF. Not great with boundaries, but generally not harmful with it. And that’s a lot easier to watch and enjoy.
Mostly I appreciated this episode for some good one-liners:
“The thin beige line…”
“Sacrificing various plants to serve as tokens of affection.”
“I’ve always wanted to see an upper pylon!”
I couldn’t get too into the rest of it. Avery Brooks did do a marvelous job playing Sisko as The Most Patient And Pleasant Customer Service Representative in space. And I agree with Liz’s comments on Lwaxana with respect to how she interacted with Deanna on TNG. Other than in “Half a Life,” she never really had a story of her own (that I can remember, anyway) that wasn’t either centered on Deanna or that wasn’t just kind of embarrassing (cough “Manhunt” cough).
I can just imagine what happens when the next DS9 commander wants an IT report.
“The station computer was penetrated by a worm of unknown alien origin, you put it in a sandbox instead of purging it because you were worried that it was sophisticated enough to qualify for natural rights under In Re Data, and then you FORGOT ABOUT IT FOR EIGHT YEARS ?”
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