3.10: “Fascination”

Apparently this is considered one of the worst of the series, which I…don’t quite get? I mean, it’s pretty silly, and I wouldn’t call it one of the best, but I’d consider it fairly middling. Is it skippable? Probably. But it’s fun enough that I generally don’t skip it, which is more than I can say for “The Storyteller” or “Second Sight”.

A lot of the performances, I think, are fun — Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell, in particular, are great together, and Sisko’s increasing bemusement as the episode goes on is fantastic. It’s a true ensemble episode, as well, which I always enjoy watching.

Having said that…

I continue to have very strong and very mixed feelings about the O’Briens’ relationship

The Miles-Keiko fight was…well. As I’ve said before, while I like a lot of the basic elements of their relationship, the execution can feel kind of clunky and unnatural. The performances are the main redeeming factor; Meaney and Chao have really strong chemistry, and they do a damn good job with what they’re given, but even they can’t always pull it off.

As with previous stories for the O’Briens, the basic issue here, of two people trying to make a long-distance relationship work, feels very real, but the actual writing of the fight is just a mess. The entire thing escalates absurdly quickly, going from, like, a two out of ten to an eight or nine in a couple of scenes, and then suddenly everything’s fine again. Which, if this were a show about high schoolers, might make sense, but the O’Briens are old enough that it just seems ridiculous.

Maybe a bit more lead-up in previous episodes would have made it more effective — having occasionally tense moments while skyping talking via subspace, for instance, or even just having Miles mention in passing that it’s awkward not being with each other in person. Because, again, it’s not an unrealistic issue to have! It’s not clear exactly when they started dating, but if it was on the Enterprise, then even before they were living together they were on the same ship; that they’d have trouble adjusting to a long-distance relationship is completely understandable.

That said, at one point I got annoyed and yelled “you know, Miles, if you’re so sure this isn’t going to work long-distance, maybe you should just quit your job and move to Bajor with her”, so I was pleasantly surprised that…he was actually willing to do that? Good for him.

Maybe I just really like the visuals?

I love the look of this episode. It’s the third one Avery Brooks directed, and as with “Tribunal”, there are some really cool shots in it. Apparently the lighting team had a lot of fun with this one — they were able to use a wider color palette and different lighting effects than normal, to try to create more of a dreamy atmosphere. (They were typically told to stay away from using a lot of purple, for instance, since it was considered a bit too reminiscent of more cheesy older sci-fi, and were able to use it more in this one.)

One minor thing I really enjoy is that we actually see people in things that are neither uniforms nor pajamas? Even on TNG, which had less in the way of interpersonal stories and drama, it struck me as a little weird that people would still spend most of their leisure time in their uniforms, unless they were specifically, say, going to the holodeck or performing in a play. DS9 has a bit more of people just in regular clothes, but they still spend way more time in their uniforms than I would expect. It’s nice, on a special occasion, to see people actually dressing up.

Plus, Jadzia looks fantastic in that purple dress.

Lwaxana!

As noted in her first appearance, I feel that the different context of Lwaxana’s appearances on Deep Space Nine from TNG — she’s here as an ambassador, not Deanna’s overbearing mother. (Which strikes me as kind of funny, since DS9 tends to have a lot more in the way of family and interpersonal stuff in general, so someone’s overbearing mother showing up now and then would be less out of place than on TNG. Though I guess we do see Ishka, Quark and Rom’s mother, now and then…and now I want Ishka and Lwaxana to be friends, someone write that fanfic, please.) She’s still the same over-the-top character, but we see more insight from her — particularly with regard to Odo, which is all the more impressive given that she can’t read his thoughts. She’s the first person to recognize that he has feelings for Kira, and he seems genuinely touched by her words to him.

The early DS9 writers’ bible my mom has in her Trek collection includes her listed among the recurring characters, which makes me wonder whether they initially envisioned her showing up a bit more frequently. Granted, a little bit of her goes a long way, but I actually would have liked to have seen slightly more of her — again, I feel like the change in context from TNG is interesting, and I feel like interactions with some other characters might have been cool. (Did she ever meet Ambassador Curzon Dax at a major diplomatic function, for instance?)

There was apparently a cut exchange where Lwaxana explained how she knows about the Founders being changelings, saying that she learned it from Admiral Nechayev, who she describes as being like a sister to her. Possibly (probably?) we’re meant to interpret that as Lwaxana overstating the relationship, but I choose to imagine that she and Nechayev are genuinely friends simply because I find that possibility hilarious.

Other notes

  • Quark giving O’Brien a free souvenir is pretty damn generous, actually, considering it’s, you know, Quark.
  • Molly’s little toy targ is really friggin’ cute. Possibly I’m just biased, as I also had a beloved stuffed animal named Piggy as a young child. Mine was just a regular pig, though.
  • Kira’s festival outfit is almost painfully Trek-in-the-90’s, but I still love it.
  • Odo just…vibing to the music is really cute?
  • I was inordinately charmed by the moment when Jake tells Sisko that Mardah got into the science academy on Regulus 3, and Sisko, sounding genuinely impressed, says “that’s a good school!” He’s such a DAD, it’s delightful.

Horniness rankings

Everyone. Everyone is horny. From the very start, when Bashir jokes that he doesn’t know if his elbow can take Keiko being gone much longer, and my mom and I immediately snickered because we were both thinking that O’Brien’s elbow probably couldn’t take it, either, through to the end when the O’Briens were saying goodbye and I was like “okay, you two, settle down, you’re in public and your child is right there”. Everyone is horny from start to finish, the end.

2 thoughts on “3.10: “Fascination”

  1. I dunno if you’ve seen the TNG episode “Data’s Day”, but it covers the whole Miles-Keiko wedding, and also offers a brief summary as to why they should never have gotten married: they’re so bad at communicating that they use Data as their go-between.

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  2. I hadn’t seen this one in forever and I don’t think I was missing that much. Definitely not one of the worst of the entire series, but very weak. Lwaxana’s role seemed wasted to me – if there had been more focus on her attempt to connect with Odo, that might have been more satisfying. With what we ended up with, it came off as a lame gimmick appearance.

    I liked the idea of the gratitude festival as a Bajoran ritual that sweeps the entire station and crew together into some semblance of mutual shared celebration. Kira and Dax having developed a tradition of laying out the scrolls together, the Sisko-hosted party, and even Quark selling stuff were realistic manifestations of a work family that celebrates a holiday together with ritual and tradition. For Bajorans to be celebrating this observance on a Cardassian space station at the mouth of the Celestial Temple – which had been a prison camp for them just 3 years earlier – that feels special and is portrayed that way. (Although the juggler and the acrobats and whatnot seemed a little out of nowhere, like maybe Paramount had those guys sitting around without much to do that week and was like hey, come on this show, it’s crazy, we don’t know, juggle some fire sticks.)

    What didn’t work for me were the O’Brien plotline (just very poorly written) and the quick dismissal of Mardah. The opening scene with Sisko and Jake seemed poorly-edited; I bet a lot of material was cut to get it to fit into the teaser. The dialogue cuts immediately to Sisko telling Jake he’ll get over Mardah, which does not ring true against the way Sisko reacted to Mardah in “The Abandoned.” They were just trying to dispose of a plotline quickly and it showed.

    Sisko’s lazy, not-trying blocks of Bareil’s feeble attempts to fight him were hilarious, as was Jadzia’s no-nonsense slamming him to the deck. The opening scene with him talking about Wynn as a good choice for Kai was weird, but interesting, and might have planted a realistic seed of conflict between him and Kira, although I don’t remember the series coming back to that before killing him off.

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