1.18: “Dramatis Personae”

First, a housekeeping note: for some reason this weekend the comments got FILLED with spam — not sure why now, but there it is. I think I managed to catch all the spam and keep the real comments, but let me know if one of your comments got swept up, too. I’m tweaking my moderation settings, as well, which will (hopefully) help, but let me know if you run into problems commenting.

My notes on this one are fairly sparse, honestly. It’s just kind of…aggressively okay? Not bad enough to cringe over, but not good enough to be really noteworthy.

The trouble is that usually even the worst episodes tend to at least have a couple of good character moments, but the very premise of the Weird Space Thing of the Week this episode precludes much of that. Since everyone’s “possessed”, there isn’t as much real character stuff going on (though there are a couple of small exceptions, which I’ll get into later). I would have liked, say, some indication of how people got the “roles” they did — Sisko and Kira were likely just chosen based on their ranks, since the scenario requires both a commander and a mutinous first officer, but it’s interesting, for instance, that O’Brien becomes Sisko’s right-hand man, rather than Dax, who’s known him for much longer and would seem like a more logical candidate, but who instead just becomes kind of a stoner.

I also feel like we’re still so early in the show that it can be hard to tell how these characters are acting differently from usual, so a lot of the impact is lost. Kira’s impulsive, not personally ambitious, and often struggles to be diplomatic, let alone charismatic, so seeing her scheming and trying to seduce people to her side should be shocking; Sisko cares deeply about his people and is very involved in the running of the station, so for him to say, flat-out, that he doesn’t care about what’s going on and lock himself in his office is similarly strange, etc. But this early on, when we haven’t had as much time for the characters and their relationships to develop, these changes don’t have nearly the impact they would in a later season. We just sort of have to take the show’s word for it that this isn’t them.

The aforementioned exceptions

All of that said, there were a couple of things I did enjoy. The first was Quark genuinely panicking and running to get Bashir when Odo has that…let’s call it a seizure? That seems like a decent analogy. I am a huge fan of the “no one’s going to take you down but me” trope, and DS9 has several more serious ones, but it also has the lighter variation on it of Quark and Odo, and I love it.

(Speaking of that sezure, it kind of seems like a wasted opportunity to add a ticking clock element to the story: Odo speculates that the thing was trying to possess him, and I guess it was intelligent enough to quit after it didn’t work the first time. If it instead kept trying and he got progressively worse, it might have helped to build tension, particularly once Odo became the main point of view character for the plot. Since we don’t get log entries or anything from him that indicates his emotional state, the tension just never really builds in a way that I find very compelling. A viewer who’s watched more than a handful of episodes of Star Trek already knows that they’ll solve the problem, and the only real question is just whether an unnamed security officer or two gets killed in the process.)

I also really, really love that Odo’s first clue that something more serious is up is…that Bashir is very involved and seems to be picking up on the subtleties of what’s going on around him for once. Actually, while I was watching, it went something like this:

Odo: And Bashir — since when is he so concerned about station politics?
Me: That’s a polite way of saying “since when does he know shit?”, Odo.

Audience participation time

One of my notes consists solely of “for fuck’s sake, Odo”, and I no longer remember what this might be in reference to. Feel free to put your guesses in the comments!

Horniness rankings

  1. Possessed Bashir, for drama, which…no judgment, honestly; he’s not trying to kill anyone, so being super into gossip and political drama all of a sudden seems like one of the more benign ways one could be affected by this thing.
  2. Possessed Kira, for power, but also in general. (This is like an early preview of the the mirror universe’s Intendant Kira, who is flat-out meant to basically just be Dukat, in which case the horniness would definitely go with the territory.)

One thought on “1.18: “Dramatis Personae”

  1. I *love* this episode, for no good reason other than that it gives the cast their first opportunity to act versions of their characters that are way out of the box, and I think the primary actors on this series do unusually well with that. Avery Brooks’ possessed-Sisko performance in this episode had me on the floor with how over the top it was.

    “It’s… a clock!”
    “Give me a phaser, I’LL TAKE CARE OF KIRA!”
    The beatdown scene where he goes after the Bajoran who tried to jab him, which goes on much longer than a standard Star Trek punchout.

    And later, the verbal shrug when asked why he built the clock. “I have no idea.”

    Granted, the plot is ho-hum alien possession, but what I like about it is how it riffs off and expands on areas of legitimate tension between the crew that existed before the possession occurred. Kira and Sisko are at odds over how to handle the Valerians, and it does represent in microcosm the Bajor-Federation tensions that have been at play since the start of the series. It is in O’Brien’s character to revert back to a Starfleet-centric way of doing things because he’s frustrated with the Cardassian infrastructure he has to work with on the station every day. This is all in place as the episode starts, and then the aliens amp it up to 11; it doesn’t really come from nowhere, and thus as it builds up slowly you can almost not notice it. (OK not really since this is Star Trek, but it’s a Star Trek version of subtle.)

    Dax… well, IDK, not sure why the choice with her was to make her a stoner. Maybe the spheres amp up whatever your greatest personality trait is and she is actually the Trill Lebowski, she just keeps it low key.

    I had a note “for fuck’s sake Kira” which was for when she tried to appeal to Odo by offering him the opportunity to declare martial law on the Promenade, which, honestly, might be really on brand for him.


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