[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Prodigal Daughter"

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Timothy W. Lynch

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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WARNING: Yea, my wandering brothers and sisters, come see
these spoilers of DS9's "Prodigal Daughter." (Best I could do on
short notice...)

In brief: Some interesting family dynamics in spots; good, but not a
standout.

======
Written by: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by: Victor Lobl
Brief summary: When Chief O'Brien goes missing, Ezri's attempt to
help leads her back to her estranged family.
======

"Prodigal Daughter" was an odd mix; like the episode it partially
follows up, last season's "Honor Among Thieves," it manages to
evoke some honest emotion and to present a nicely coherent story, but
at the same time leaves one feeling that it's a bit out of place given
DS9's setting.

"Prodigal Daughter" launches with a nice continuity nod. Last year,
we saw Miles O'Brien infiltrate the Orion Syndicate and indirectly
cause the death of Syndicate member Liam Bilby. At the time,
O'Brien felt quite guilty about what he had done, but ever since then
there's been no mention of it apart from Bilby's cat popping up in
Miles' quarters. Weddle and Thompson pick up with O'Brien's guilt,
and establish that he's been keeping in touch with Bilby's widow
Marika. Unfortunately, Marika has recently dropped out of sight, and
unbeknownst to anyone on DS9 except Bashir, O'Brien has headed
off to New Sydney to look for her. The episode actually starts when
O'Brien fails to return; Bashir then decides it's time to come clean,
and tells Sisko everything he knows.

As beginnings go, that's not a bad one: it gets Miles missing for a
plausible reason (at least, if you can swallow his initial job for
Starfleet Intelligence, the idea of him going off half-cocked to assuage
some personal guilt fits his personality pretty well), and it also gets
Sisko in such a bad mood that we have an excuse to spend the rest of
the episode off-station. :-) Placing Ezri's family in the same system
as New Sydney is a bit of a stretch, particularly since we've never
seen civilian Trills living anywhere but on Trill itself ... but it's not
bad.

"Prodigal Daughter" falters a bit after all that establishing material,
mostly because it's just a bit jarring. With the exception of a few
words of <tech> here and there in the Tigan family pergium mine,
there's really nothing here to make "Prodigal Daughter" even remotely
science-fictional. I don't mean by that that we need particularly exotic
locations or effects; it's that everyone in the episode, be they human,
Trill, Thadio Bokar's race, or whatever the heck the New Sydney
police officer's species is, acts no differently from plain old humans
you might see in any other story about a family beset by company
squabbles and internal strife. "Honor Among Thieves" wasn't hugely
different from a lot of mob-infiltration stories, but there were enough
different mindsets and tie-ins to the Big Picture (TM) that it still felt
like part of the DS9 universe. "Prodigal Daughter," in a lot of ways,
feels like a detour.

The other reason that I think "Prodigal Daughter" feels jarring in some
ways is that Ezri hasn't quite come together as a character yet, at least
for me. I recently read an article where someone said that she felt like
a pleasant guest star, but not one of the "inner circle" yet; I think that's
very apt. In some cases (like "Afterimage"), I think that feeling of
being an outsider was intentional, but based on the dialogue I have the
impression that she's *supposed* to seem like "just one of the gang"
to us by now. (Consider what she says at dinner to her family about
Kira, or the apparent lack of awkwardness everyone has around her at
Quark's.) To me, however, she hasn't quite risen above the level of
an interesting ingenue; she has her moments, but she's not quite
compelling enough to base an entire episode around. (The reason
"Afterimage" worked as well as it did is that besides Ezri, we had
Garak, who's almost always worth watching.) As a result, her
confession to Bashir that her family "never quite new what to make of
the old [Ezri]" falls flat; we never *knew* the old Ezri and scarcely
know the new one.

Given all of that, "Prodigal Daughter" comes off feeling a bit like a
movie-of-the-week rather than an integral part of DS9's story. Once
O'Brien comes back into the picture, that feeling eases off a bit, but
overall it just feels a bit odd.

Fortunately, as movies of the week go, this seems to be a fairly well-
produced and well-performed one. :-) Ezri, forced home as a
condition of her mother assisting in the search for O'Brien, quickly
finds herself caught up in old family squabbles. Ezri's older brother
Janel is handling the day-to-day operations of the family's pergium
mine, her mother is your classic overbearing corporate mother, and
her younger brother Norvo, a budding artist, is feeling completely
inadequate after rejection by the premier Andorian Academy and
unending doses of criticism from his mother and brother.

Early on, the focus seems to be purely on the Tigan family and how
Ezri's return affects everyone. There are certainly hints of something
more, such as references to the Orion Syndicate's interest in doing
business with the company, but we spend a lot of time watching Ezri
talk about her occasional confusion remembering who she is, seeing
Ezri comfort Norvo with her unshaken belief in his talent, and
watching Mama Tigan (apparently named Yanas, though it's never
mentioned on screen) generally try to bend everyone to her
considerable will. It's all reasonably standard material, but thanks to
the hints of what's to come and a particularly nice performance from
Kevin Rahm (Norvo), it flows reasonably well. (The weakest
moments probably come from Leigh Taylor-Young, playing Ezri's
mother; while Taylor-Young has done good work in the past, a lot of
her phrases and gestures, such as her criticism of Ezri's hair followed
by an immediate hug, seem way overplayed.)

The big change comes halfway through the episode, when Miles turns
up safe and sound, but battered by the Orion Syndicate. He's found
Bilby's widow -- well, what's left of her, anyway. It seems that
Marika's been dead for about six weeks, and evidence points to foul
play, which O'Brien naturally thinks is due to the Syndicate. From
there, he's called upon to help repair one of the mining drills, and a
chance encounter with a "broker" raises his suspicions that Janel is
somehow being pressured to do business with the Syndicate.

It's at this point that the episode becomes substantially more
interesting. Even though I more or less expected by now that
Marika's death had something to do with the Syndicate, and that the
killer would turn out to be someone other than Janel, elements of the
show still had an impact on me. The stunned look on O'Brien's face
when he discovers Marika was employed by Ezri's family is a
particularly good moment; no matter how much you might anticipate
his findings, seeing his entire demeanor shift in a few seconds from
curious to accusatory is a treat, and his immediate demand to know
whether Ezri knew about it or not is also well presented.

The revelation that Norvo killed Marika is one that could have been
trite, but actually manages to carry a fair bit of pathos to it, again
primarily due to Rahm's performance and some good direction. As
Janel and his mother are arguing furiously, it's only Ezri who picks
up on the deeper meaning behind Norvo's insistence that his brother is
innocent. The slow muting of everyone else's dialogue as she
gradually turns to look at him is quite a nice effect, as is Norvo's reply
when she asks him what he knows: "I'm the idiot brother. How
would I know?" While some of Norvo's later speech about not being
weak lacked punch, the overall sense was very strong.

As for the very end, "unsettling" is probably the best word, much of
which I think was intentional. The final scene with Ezri's family,
where Norvo is led away, Ezri advises Janel to move on and find a
new life, and Ezri's mother asks plaintively for reassurance that this
wasn't her fault certainly got that point across; in solving the
immediate problem of Marika's murder, Ezri and Miles more or less
wrecked the entire family. The final scene, where Ezri broods that she
should have gone home a long time ago, made a fair amount of sense,
but felt wrong somehow as an episode-closing scene; I'm not sure
why.

Other thoughts:

-- Ezri said that Jadzia ordered the gagh for Martok's birthday, but it's
also been established that she's been joined for a little over six
months. Did Jadzia really order all of this gagh 6+ months in
advance? That seems a bit odd. (I did like Ezri mulling over how all
the different varieties feel on the way down, though...)

-- Watch for yet another Alamo reference, this time in the teaser.

-- The exterior shots of the Tigan home were quite nice; there was a lot
of detail packed in there. (I particularly liked the fact that we could see
people moving around inside the house.)

-- One question resolved: when Trills are joined, the symbiont name
replaces the "regular" family name. Not exactly surprising, but
interesting.

-- While I'm glad Marika's death was solved, I seem to recall from
"Honor Among Thieves" that Bilby also had at least one child. What
happened to the kids?

-- Ezri's mother said that she ordered some tiles from "Andoria" for
the new solarium. I could swear it was called Andor, at least once
upon a time...

-- An interesting trend: a great many of the eleven episodes this
season have taken place almost entirely off of the "normal" DS9
setting, particularly the recent ones. (I'm including "It's Only a Paper
Moon" for that, actually, since 75% of the show takes place inside the
program.) I'm not quite sure what it signifies, but it's worth noticing.

That pretty much does it. "Prodigal Daughter" seems to be a vast
departure from the Trek norm into more typical television fare, but
does what it's trying to do pretty well. Watch it with that in mind.

So, wrapping up:

Writing: Not a lot of twists beyond the "typical" ones for a story like
this, but plausibly and crisply done. Ezri as a character is still
too much of a question mark, however.
Directing: Some good work in the last two acts.
Acting: Rahm gets particular praise for this; Taylor-Young was
surprisingly off the mark.

OVERALL: 6.5, for now. Respectable, but not a lot for you to
remember weeks down the line.

NEXT WEEK: A rerun of "Shadows and Symbols." See you in
February.

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tly...@alumni.caltech.edu <*>
"How dare you come in here and tell me how to be a mother? What
do you know about raising children?"
"Actually, I have three -- no, four -- lifetimes of memories about
raising children."
-- Yanas and Ezri
--
Copyright 1999, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the
author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.

Fordat1

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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>The revelation that Norvo killed Marika is one that could have been
>trite, but actually manages to carry a fair bit of pathos to it, again
>primarily due to Rahm's performance and some good direction.


Mr. Lynch,

If you go back review this scene, you fail to mention the scoring of this scene
by Dennis McCarthy.


Its the score that sells the sene. If you have any doubts, go back and play it
again.

In almost all of your reviews you NEVER mention the score.


And there have been many episodes that you've failed to mention that there was
any music in the episode.


I seem to recall that in "The Siege of AR 558", which IMHO had the best score
so far this season on DS9. You didn't even mention it.

You might want take more notice of this very important element in the
production of this program.


Ford A. Thaxton (for...@aol.com)

Robert Oliver

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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> In almost all of your reviews you NEVER mention the score.
>
> And there have been many episodes that you've failed to mention that there was
> any music in the episode.

In most episodes the music is completely and absolutely unmemorable. We
all know this is by design.

> You might want take more notice of this very important element in the
> production of this program.

Reviewers and fans might do this if Berman would allow his composers
more leeway. It is well known he does not like music to intrude on the
episode, and so far he has done a terrific job at it.

--

The Unofficial Wheel of Time Chronology
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/3513/wot.htm

SHARON A HAMILTON-16

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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>Reviewers and fans might do this if Berman would allow his composers
>more leeway. It is well known he does not like music to intrude on the
>episode, and so far he has done a terrific job at it.


I have taken notice of Star Trek music three times (not including the
opening themes). One: The Best of Both Worlds I, when the borg ship is
coming, at the end of the episode. Two: A recurring theme in DS9. I don't
remember any specific occasions, but if you play any instruments, you might
know what I'm talking about if you play the following notes for about 1/2
second each (no mark means a midrange octave, an apostrophe means go down
one octave)

E A D G' E A D G
(repeat)

Three: The opening of Insurrection. I probably noticed it because there was
no dialogue.

Chimerasame
Rob Hamilton

Shawn Hill

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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In rec.arts.startrek.current Timothy W. Lynch <tly...@alumnae.caltech.edu> wrote:

: "Prodigal Daughter" was an odd mix; like the episode it partially

: follows up, last season's "Honor Among Thieves," it manages to
: evoke some honest emotion and to present a nicely coherent story, but
: at the same time leaves one feeling that it's a bit out of place given
: DS9's setting.

Like, literally, since it wasn't on DS9. Think of it as a character
peice, a showcase for our newest, spunkiest cast member.

: the episode off-station. :-) Placing Ezri's family in the same system

: as New Sydney is a bit of a stretch, particularly since we've never
: seen civilian Trills living anywhere but on Trill itself ... but it's not
: bad.

I actually felt emotional about a familiar setting in this episode; when
Ezri prepares to embark for her family, and Julian sees her off, that
access tunnel to the airlock has never looked so lonely before.

: mostly because it's just a bit jarring. With the exception of a few

: words of <tech> here and there in the Tigan family pergium mine,
: there's really nothing here to make "Prodigal Daughter" even remotely
: science-fictional. I don't mean by that that we need particularly exotic
: locations or effects; it's that everyone in the episode, be they human,
: Trill, Thadio Bokar's race, or whatever the heck the New Sydney
: police officer's species is, acts no differently from plain old humans
: you might see in any other story about a family beset by company
: squabbles and internal strife. "Honor Among Thieves" wasn't hugely
: different from a lot of mob-infiltration stories, but there were enough
: different mindsets and tie-ins to the Big Picture (TM) that it still felt
: like part of the DS9 universe. "Prodigal Daughter," in a lot of ways,
: feels like a detour.

Or, kind of like a minor tributary. Agreed that its a stretch to think of
this as an s-f story; the only way it is, in fact, is that it enriches the
fabric of the Federation, building on the already established fantasy
we've all been following for so long. But, in another way, if Trek is
"Wagon Train to the Stars," then this ep was "Falcon Crest in Space."

: The other reason that I think "Prodigal Daughter" feels jarring in some

: ways is that Ezri hasn't quite come together as a character yet, at least
: for me. I recently read an article where someone said that she felt like
: a pleasant guest star, but not one of the "inner circle" yet; I think that's
: very apt. In some cases (like "Afterimage"), I think that feeling of
: being an outsider was intentional, but based on the dialogue I have the
: impression that she's *supposed* to seem like "just one of the gang"
: to us by now. (Consider what she says at dinner to her family about
: Kira, or the apparent lack of awkwardness everyone has around her at
: Quark's.) To me, however, she hasn't quite risen above the level of
: an interesting ingenue; she has her moments, but she's not quite
: compelling enough to base an entire episode around. (The reason

I'd disagree there, as the actress (Nicole Baer, sp?) is so far above and
beyond Terry Farrel that I think she's sparking creativity for the
production staff; they finally have a Dax who can rise to the challenge of
the scripts, rather than one always struggling to keep up. It's much like
what Seven has done for Voy; a good character meets a good actress, and
voila, storylines and plots change.

: "Afterimage" worked as well as it did is that besides Ezri, we had

: Garak, who's almost always worth watching.) As a result, her
: confession to Bashir that her family "never quite new what to make of
: the old [Ezri]" falls flat; we never *knew* the old Ezri and scarcely
: know the new one.

But if this episode wasn't about giving us a background on said unknown
quanity, what was it? And we may not have had Garak, but we had Miles (as
you aptly note below), who added so much to the ep as soon as he was
found, from "she's my superior officer" (what, someone showing Ezri
respect on Teegan property?) to his accent and his incredulous surprise at
their occasional rudeness (and his polite responses to their generosity).

: Given all of that, "Prodigal Daughter" comes off feeling a bit like a

: movie-of-the-week rather than an integral part of DS9's story. Once
: O'Brien comes back into the picture, that feeling eases off a bit, but
: overall it just feels a bit odd.

it was odd; but isn't coherent oddness better than predictable Scenes from
the War Part 22?

: moments probably come from Leigh Taylor-Young, playing Ezri's

: mother; while Taylor-Young has done good work in the past, a lot of
: her phrases and gestures, such as her criticism of Ezri's hair followed
: by an immediate hug, seem way overplayed.)

I think it was the writing, rather than the acting, that weakened her
role.

: when he discovers Marika was employed by Ezri's family is a

: particularly good moment; no matter how much you might anticipate
: his findings, seeing his entire demeanor shift in a few seconds from
: curious to accusatory is a treat, and his immediate demand to know
: whether Ezri knew about it or not is also well presented.

I felt very sorry for Ezri in those seens; pissing off O'brien is almost
as bad an idea as pissing off the Sisko.

: up on the deeper meaning behind Norvo's insistence that his brother is

: innocent. The slow muting of everyone else's dialogue as she
: gradually turns to look at him is quite a nice effect, as is Norvo's reply
: when she asks him what he knows: "I'm the idiot brother. How
: would I know?" While some of Norvo's later speech about not being
: weak lacked punch, the overall sense was very strong.

yeah, liked this part a lot. Very interesting direction this week; a lot
of nice little visual and aural touches (see my responses to Tropea's
review) added a lot to the basically formulaic story.

: new life, and Ezri's mother asks plaintively for reassurance that this

: wasn't her fault certainly got that point across; in solving the
: immediate problem of Marika's murder, Ezri and Miles more or less
: wrecked the entire family. The final scene, where Ezri broods that she
: should have gone home a long time ago, made a fair amount of sense,
: but felt wrong somehow as an episode-closing scene; I'm not sure
: why.

Think about the emotional feeling of it (Ezri's sadness at Norvo's fate;
she hadn't as much sympathy as blame for her mom still); and then Ezri's
words "I should have gone home long ago." And what, get caught up in
their crimes? Break her mother's will that much sooner, and end up as her
mirror image? Those people made their own mistakes, and Ezri's sense of
culpability is really a way of continuing to punish herself. Not very
rational for a therapist; then again, pretty believable as a response.

: -- While I'm glad Marika's death was solved, I seem to recall from

: "Honor Among Thieves" that Bilby also had at least one child. What
: happened to the kids?

Good question. He had a daughter, I beleive.

: Moon" for that, actually, since 75% of the show takes place inside the

: program.) I'm not quite sure what it signifies, but it's worth noticing.

boredom?

: OVERALL: 6.5, for now. Respectable, but not a lot for you to

: remember weeks down the line.

I went for 9.2; it was very entertaining on its own merits, if you left
the Trek stuff behind a bit.

Shawn
* . * . * . * .

Q: "Am I still your woman?"

A: "You're the captain's woman...until he says you're not."

. * . * . *sh...@fas.harvard.edu

Shawn Hill

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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Robert Oliver <rol...@mint.net> wrote:

: Reviewers and fans might do this if Berman would allow his composers


: more leeway. It is well known he does not like music to intrude on the
: episode, and so far he has done a terrific job at it.

There are also several instances where the music has been effective and
worth noting. Wait, let me think about it ....

Shawn

Nelson Lu

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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In article <77e0ti$dce$2...@news.fas.harvard.edu>,
Shawn Hill <sh...@fas.harvard.edu> wrote:

>There are also several instances where the music has been effective and
>worth noting. Wait, let me think about it ....

One of those instances happened recently -- with Voyager's "Counterpoint."

SHARON A HAMILTON-16

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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>>There are also several instances where the music has been effective and
>>worth noting. Wait, let me think about it ....
>
>One of those instances happened recently -- with Voyager's "Counterpoint."

Good point, I forgot to mention that in my above post. And, "Thie Inner
Light" of TNG.

Chimerasame
Rob Hamilton

Mike Gasper

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Jan 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/11/99
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Robert Oliver wrote:
>
> In most episodes the music is completely and absolutely unmemorable. We
> all know this is by design.

The only episode of DS9 that I can really say that the score was
outstanding (at list in my opinion) was "Call to Arms". In TNG I would
pick "The Inner Light" for best score. However, in both TOS, and Voy,
the music was (and is) generally cheesy.

--
Mike Gasper
------------------------------
"Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball."

John David Watker

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
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In article <77ebml$7...@newsops.execpc.com>, Mike Gasper <mcga...@execpc.com> wrote:
>Robert Oliver wrote:
>>
>> In most episodes the music is completely and absolutely unmemorable. We
>> all know this is by design.
>
>The only episode of DS9 that I can really say that the score was
>outstanding (at list in my opinion) was "Call to Arms". In TNG I would
>pick "The Inner Light" for best score. However, in both TOS, and Voy,
>the music was (and is) generally cheesy.
>

Actually, DS9 had a very good score in "The Visitor," if you've ever
listened to the 30th Anniversary Special CD, you'd really appreciate it.
Otherwise, the only other episodes that I can remember having good music is
"The Sacrifice of Angels" and "Far Beyond the Stars."
Voyager usually lacks any kind of good music, but the score to
Scorpion, Part II was very memorable. Otherwise, can't think of one episode
that the music stood out in.
TNG's music pretty much went down the tubes when Ron Jones was fired
and Rick Berman got his way. Jones (and McCarthy) did some great stuff the
first four years, with Jones score of "The Best of Both Worlds" being the
obvious standout. The music to episodes like "The Offspring," "Yesterday's
Enterprise," "The Emisarry," "Heart of Glory, "Skin of Evil" (During the Tasha
Yar memorial), and even the fifth season episode "Hero Worship" showed what
the composers of Trek could do without being restrained creatively.
Sadly, today's Trek music does suffer greatly from Rick Berman's
belief that the music shouldn't present itself in the show. He thinks it
should be wallpaper, while most other dramatic and Sci-Fi shows (especially
Babylon 5) allow the music to take on a life of it's own that add an extra
dimension to the show.

Michael Urban

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
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In article <77c34i$i...@gap.cco.caltech.edu>,

Timothy W. Lynch <tly...@alumni.caltech.edu> wrote:
>WARNING: Yea, my wandering brothers and sisters, come see
>these spoilers of DS9's "Prodigal Daughter." (Best I could do on
>
>-- Ezri's mother said that she ordered some tiles from "Andoria" for
>the new solarium. I could swear it was called Andor, at least once
>upon a time...
>

You've forgotten how to play the Continuity Repair Game. Obviously,
Andor is the world, and Andoria is its capital city. Sort of like
Brazil.

Aaron J. Dinkin

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Jan 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/12/99
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In article <77e2vu$pt5$1...@nntp.Stanford.EDU>, n...@Xenon.Stanford.EDU (Nelson
Lu) wrote:

> In article <77e0ti$dce$2...@news.fas.harvard.edu>,
> Shawn Hill <sh...@fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
>

> >There are also several instances where the music has been effective and
> >worth noting. Wait, let me think about it ....
>
> One of those instances happened recently -- with Voyager's "Counterpoint."

I thought of DS9's "For the Uniform" (I think) a few seasons ago,
particularly the scene where the Defiant, with its navigational systems
disabled, is taking off from the station.

-Aaron J. Dinkin
Dr. Whom

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