So after a pretty wild few weeks, this one is a bit more lightweight — even forgettable, at least insofar as, like Nidell with Fenna, I had completely forgotten it since my last rewatch just a couple of years ago, and I am not much more optimistic that I will remember it this time. “Forgettable” also means that, while not great, it’s at least not memorably bad, so it’s got that going for it, I guess?
“Lightweight” isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I frequently lament the current trend in TV to have much shorter seasons in which Everything Means Something Very Important — I feel strongly that Star Trek: Discovery could use a few more lower-stakes Weird Space Thing of the Week episodes, for instance. But the best thing about those more self-contained episodes is that they give us some kind of insight to the characters, or at least some fun character moments, even if they don’t really further significant plot arcs. And this one does have a few such moments, but they’re not very frequent — the fact that so much of the story involves Sisko and a character we’ve never seen before, whose entire purpose is to be mysterious and, quite literally, dreamlike and unreal, means that we simply don’t get much to work with, character- or relationship-wise.
Apparently this episode was meant to give people a little more insight into Sisko, which is an idea I am all in favor of, because you all know how much I adore Sisko. But it just…never really came together for me.
I thought the opening set up a potentially really lovely story, with Sisko ruminating on the anniversary of his wife’s death, and how he nearly missed it. Like, dwelling a bit more on the way that grief looks different as time passes, on how you can know intellectually that moving forward is healthy but still feel at some level that doing so is a betrayal of the person you lost — those are potential story directions that were set up by Sisko’s very first encounter with the Prophets, when they said that the reason they kept reliving Jennifer’s death with him was that “you exist here”, that his grief and trauma were keeping him stuck. If the ways he’s changed and life has gone on since Wolf 359, and the question of what mourning and missing her looks like now vs. what it did immediately after, had been more of a throughline for the entire episode, maybe, rather than just the setup to have a melancholy Benjamin wandering the station at night by himself, I think there might have been a bit more punch to the episode as a whole.
“She was just like you.”
OK, so, Fenna. First, let me say that I love Fenna’s dress. Apparently they reused it in both Voyager and the movie Generations, and I really cannot blame them, because it is excellent.
That said, uhhhhhhhhh…yeah. Like — I get that the whole point of Fenna is that she’s meant to be a dream figure, and dreams are usually very vague and shifting. But…maybe give us a little more information about Nidell, too? Something that isn’t being told to us solely by her husband? I mean, the resolution, with Seyetik sacrificing himself, was actually kind of sweet, with this generally unbearable guy trying to do the right thing in one of his marriages (with the added bonus of never having to try to top his biggest scientific achievement). But also — what about getting some of this from her point of view, rather than just his? Fenna’s existence is an indication that she’s unhappy, but she doesn’t remember anything of Fenna’s experiences, and Fenna herself is so full of non-answers that she doesn’t actually provide much insight into Nidell.
Like, that ending, when Nidell asks Sisko what Fenna was like, and he says “she was just like you”, was just…weird. Because…she wasn’t? Or maybe she was! But how would he really know? How do any of us know? She looked just like her, but that’s the only thing anyone, including Sisko, can be sure of. He doesn’t actually know anything about Nidell. He’s exchanged a dozen words with her before this interaction, and since she plans to return to her planet and stay there, he’s never going to see her again. And we don’t know anything more about her than Sisko does!
IDK. One note I kept making throughout this episode was that it felt very Original Series — the character of Seyetik in particular — but it doesn’t necessarily do so in good ways. (Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that the dress’s reuse in Generations is in fact when Picard meets Kirk in the Nexus.)
Let’s end this on a high note
Having said all of that, as I said at the beginning, this sort of one-off episode can deliver some interesting, or at least entertaining, character moments. And there were still some fun ones here, IMO!
The scenes with Jake are just fantastic. First — that opening scene was really friggin’ moving. The Siskos just feel very emotionally real as a family to me. Lofton and Brooks just have such a natural dynamic, and their scenes nearly always seem true and grounded. The way Jake’s voice just barely cracks at the end of describing his dream, when he says “all I wanted to do was find you”? Oof.
(Also, Jake’s dream doesn’t sound stupid at all! That sounds like a pretty creepy nightmare TBH!!!)
I also very much enjoyed their dinner later, when Sisko is telling Jake about Fenna. Mostly for the combination of Jake’s that’s nice, dad smile followed by him taking a drink and shooting his father a what the fuuuuuuuuuck look after Ben’s “she keeps disappearing”.
Some other small moments I enjoyed:
- Kira being confused bordering on offended by Sisko’s good mood. From start to finish, everything about the way Brooks and Visitor played that exchange about his morning beverage delighted me. She just needs someone to be her grumpy bro with her, this is very troubling!!!
- Odo’s polite nod when Sisko says he appreciates his help, followed by, as soon as Sisko leaves, a massive eyeroll.
- Basically I just really enjoyed the implication that no one quite knows how to deal with Sisko being in a good mood, except maybe Dax, who just wants all the gossip.
- Quark trying to get Sisko to come down to the bar and talk about relationship trouble with him was…weirdly charming? Partly this rewatch is just giving me more and more appreciation for Armin Shimerman’s performance, honestly.
- The faces on the rest of the crew when Bashir says he likes Seyetik.
- The ship Seyetik is on being named the Prometheus, which…of course it was. Bless u and ur complete lack of subtlety, Star Trek.
- Sisko is definitely horny for Fenna, but let’s be real, he is even hornier for ~love~. It’s sweet.
- Seyetik, for excitement and, to a lesser extent, for himself.
- Dax, for gossip. Honestly, #relatable.