DS9 Spoiler: Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Dramatis Personae"

12 views
Skip to first unread message

Tim Lynch

unread,
Jun 9, 1993, 8:46:26 AM6/9/93
to
[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Dramatis Personae"
Review by Tim Lynch <tly...@juliet.caltech.edu>
===============================================

WARNING: This post contains spoiler information about "Dramatis Personae".
If you wish to avoid the melodrama of unexpected spoilage, then avoid this
article.

It works *once*, but definitely loses something in the translation.

"Dramatis Personae" was a series of interesting scenes in search of some
coherent thread to hold it together. That thread doesn't seem to exist in
any measurable form. Surprisingly enough, that doesn't hurt the episode much
on first viewing -- but once you stop to think about it (or watch it a second
time), the questions and holes begin to shine through.

For instance, the initial cause of tension between Sisko and Kira, the
issue of the Valerian ship, is certainly legitimate enough. Kira's got
grounds for griping, and Sisko behaved perfectly sensibly given *his*
situation. However, aside from being there to be used as a snowballing
agent, nothing happened to it -- including a resolution. We're never told
exactly what _was_ done with it, and that's a loose end that should've been
dealt with.

A similar, though far less important issue is exactly what it *was* that the
Klingons were after in the quadrant. Assuming Quark told the truth (which,
despite appearances, is not atypical in that situation), then the Klingons
definitely were after _something_ -- after all, a simple scientific mission
doesn't usually make one's enemies tremble. But we're given the definite
impression that the energy spheres were decidedly _not_ the prize they
sought. What was? This is a detail that's not particularly crucial to the
story, by all means, but even so it added to a feeling of incompleteness.

The bigger problem is the explanation for the crew's altered behavior. Yes,
having a telepathic matrix imprint other people onto the crew we know and
love is all well and good -- but here, it was done without _any_ evidence
given for why particular people were mapped onto the ones we knew. When
there's no link between them, that basically means that the story was "our
characters turn into someone else for half an hour until they're cured".
Somehow, that idea doesn't fill me with anticipation.

It's really disappointing (and somewhat surprising) that no such linkage was
shown here, because there were ways to do it quite easily. If each
individual had had some particular trait of their own amplified, we could
probably still have had the power struggle while keeping the semi-intact and
letting us find something out about them. Many of the changes we saw could
even be the same -- Sisko *can* get a little detached on occasion, Kira
is certainly not shy about fighting in some way or another for Bajor, and
O'Brien is nothing if not fiercely loyal. The only changes that would need
alteration, in my opinion, would be those of Dax and Bashir -- and so far as
I'm concerned, one of them would have been a good idea anyway. It's just,
well, disappointing, as I said.

Aside from that, the main thing worth discussing is the changes to each
character. So, on we go...

Sisko seemed to be in the situation of having not one, but *two* changes to
his character. The combination of bored, above-it-all "imperial" Sisko with
the maniacally violent Sisko towards the end is a little jarring, but I
actually rather liked it. Avery Brooks certainly had a hell of a time with
it, from all appearances. If the projection from the matrix was relatively
close to the original Saltah'nan personalities in the war, then I suspect the
reason for the original power struggle was the leader going completely
insane -- heaven knows Sisko was a long ways down the road to it. (Did
anyone else expect his plans for the clock to be an extremely schizophrenic
painting? I certainly did...)

Kira was double-edged, in my opinion. I liked her when she was being
ruthless and scheming, but for some reason her playing the temptress with Odo
(and in a couple of other scenes as well) failed to spark my interest in any
way. The highlight of her changes had to be two very small lines: "Put it
down ... *sir*," to Sisko near the end, and "Good," after hearing that Quark
"didn't hear anything." This one is iffy, probably due more to acting than
writing.

O'Brien's change was wonderful. Unlike his rather dull villain in TNG's
"Power Play", this new O'Brien played Sejanus to Sisko's Tiberius (with the
significant difference being that O'Brien really *was* loyal). O'Brien was
the first beyond the two leaders to take a stand, and the most deeply rooted
in that stand, down to persuading Sisko to order the "right" things. This is
the first time I've seen Colm Meaney really get a villain right, and it made
for great viewing.

Bashir was also a lot of fun to watch. After "The Passenger", I was a little
worried about how he might work as a villainous sort, but I needn't have
fretted. Bashir as Machiavellian schemer (and the sort who'd sell arms to
both sides if he could) was a radical departure from the one we know, but one
that el Fadil pulled off in virtually every detail. Of all the changes, the
new Bashir might have been the one I enjoyed watching the most (even if he
still remained a bit gullible :-) ).

Before I get to Dax, I'll tackle Odo, who didn't change. This was a great
show for him, and a nice way to bounce back from "The Forsaken". In "The
Forsaken", Odo was more or less only _reacting_ to things around him (and
doing so rather badly, in my opinion). Here, Odo was the driving force to
fix the problem, and had to become far more subtle and devious than I think
we've ever seen him before. His initial ploy with Quark was his usual blunt
attempt, but it provided a nice contrast with the way he played Bashir like a
fiddle near the end. He managed to engineer the solution to the mess as well
as any character I could think of, and seemed completely in his element while
doing it. Bravo.

Then, there's Dax -- and unfortunately, I don't have nearly the praise for
her I do for most of the others. What, exactly, was the point of turning
Dax, probably the character who's had the most development problems this year
anyway, into a giggling, storytelling oaf here? Dax was well _beyond_
useless here -- she proved somewhat detrimental to whichever side she was
helping at the time. (The one useful thing she did, signalling Kira when
Sisko went on his rampage, got her slugged -- somehow that's not the unspoken
message I'd have wished for with her character.) There certainly could have
been reasons for this particular change, but they weren't given -- and
without any such reasons, the suspicion is simply that nobody knew what to do
with her, and so somebody said "oh, hell; Terry, just act like a doofus,
okay?" Bleah.

As long as I'm mentioning characters, I shouldn't forget Quark, who was
definitely on form this week. His scene demanding charges against Kira was
terrific, and the line "Don't look at me that way -- I'm perfectly normal,"
while his eyes were bugged out and he had several pounds of neck brace on,
had me holding my sides laughing for a while. (It's all in the delivery, I
guess...) Praise to Armin Shimerman.

There really isn't that much else to talk about. The execution of the idea
was fun to watch, as were most of the character changes -- but with no
particular rhyme or reason for the changes, it was simply a half hour "dream
story", in effect -- and those get old fast.

A few shorter points, then:

-- One very swift bit of thinking on the part of Joe Menosky is worth
mentioning. The very early line about Keiko running a field trip to Bajor
gets rid of several characters who otherwise might be issues: Keiko, Molly
(possibly), and Jake -- particularly Jake, who otherwise would be expected to
wonder what the hell was up with his dad. Definitely in the running for this
year's "Best Use of a Throwaway Line" award. :-)

-- I expect there may be some discussion of how the other Bajorans and
Starfleeters were affected. My guess is that the two guards on Sisko's
quarters weren't -- after all, guard duty isn't THAT out of the ordinary, nor
is it something you're encouraged to question. Kira's followers, however,
struck me as people who must have been at Ops when the Klingon beamed aboard;
even if you're annoyed at the Federation, you usually don't try to
assassinate your commander.

-- What the *hell* was going on with that ending? There are several ways to
interpret Sisko's final actions with the clock, and I'm not sure I can find
any of them that don't give me the willies. Are we *sure* he's cured?

-- I think Bashir may have gotten the two best lines of the show this week.
First, there was telling Odo that he could leave, "unless you'd like to pour
yourself through my foretic (?) analyzer -- I'd love to see the results," and
then discussing the Klingon later: "He's still dead, if that's what you
mean." Love 'em.

That's about it. This was a nice bit of strangeness with absolutely no
guidance underlying it -- good once, but it won't age well at all, I bet.

So, the numbers:

Plot: 2. Where?
Plot Handling/Direction: 7. That's more like it.
Characterization/Acting: 7. Kira was a bit off, and Dax was _way_ off, but
the others were all top-notch.

OVERALL: 5.5. That's the weakest they've been in a while. Looks like
something under the heading of "worth it once", though.

NEXT WEEK: A rerun of "Captive Pursuit", then the last two shows of the
season (and, thankfully, the beginning of summer!).

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.ca...@hamlet.caltech.edu
"We've analyzed their attack, sir, and there is a danger. Shall I have your
ship standing by?"
"Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their
chances."
-- "Star Wars"
--
Copyright 1993, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...

Jill Hollifield

unread,
Jun 9, 1993, 11:18:58 AM6/9/93
to
In article <1v4m32...@newsstand.cit.cornell.edu> tly...@Juliet.Caltech.Edu (Tim Lynch) writes:
>[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Dramatis Personae"
>Review by Tim Lynch <tly...@juliet.caltech.edu>
>===============================================
>
>WARNING: This post contains spoiler information about "Dramatis Personae".
>If you wish to avoid the melodrama of unexpected spoilage, then avoid this
>article.
>

>Then, there's Dax -- and unfortunately, I don't have nearly the praise for
>her I do for most of the others. What, exactly, was the point of turning
>Dax, probably the character who's had the most development problems this year
>anyway, into a giggling, storytelling oaf here? Dax was well _beyond_
>useless here -- she proved somewhat detrimental to whichever side she was
>helping at the time. (The one useful thing she did, signalling Kira when
>Sisko went on his rampage, got her slugged -- somehow that's not the unspoken
>message I'd have wished for with her character.) There certainly could have
>been reasons for this particular change, but they weren't given -- and
>without any such reasons, the suspicion is simply that nobody knew what to do
>with her, and so somebody said "oh, hell; Terry, just act like a doofus,
>okay?" Bleah.
>

I interpreted her reactions slightly differently. Ture,
True, I was puzzled by her behavior, and still not at all sure it was
a good choice, script-wise or acting-wise, but . . . I just thought
that since Dax is really composed as *two* separate entities, perhaps
her loyalties were split: Jadzia for Kira, with whom she's good friends,
and Dax with Sisko, whom s/he'd known for a long time and loves and
respects. I saw her actions simply as overload - perhaps Dax was flooding
their shared consciousness with good memories to keep Jadzia on Sisko's
side. If they were both pulling in opposing directions, the result could
be statsis. I personally don't think the giggling portrayal actually
projected this inner struggle, but its the best explanation I could come
up with.

Jill


--
Jill Hollifield ji...@gopher.ccbr.umn.edu
Stagebenders - A Comedy Quartet of 1,000 Laughs 612/942-1337
Liberal, Soprano, Improvisationalist Chef
"You've got some explaining to do, Cookie Man!"

Joshua A. Laff

unread,
Jun 9, 1993, 10:53:59 AM6/9/93
to
It's summer, and that means time for the puns to start rolling... :)

And since you'll have needed to see the episode to get this one...

tly...@Juliet.Caltech.Edu (Tim Lynch) writes:
:)WARNING: This post contains spoiler information about "Dramatis Personae".
:)If you wish to avoid the melodrama of unexpected spoilage, then avoid this
:)article.

:)Sisko seemed to be in the situation of having not one, but *two* changes to
:)his character. The combination of bored, above-it-all "imperial" Sisko with

I think what you're looking to say here is "he had too much time on his
hands"... :)

--
Joshua A. Laff, CRL operator, UofI (217) 384-6249
email to: la...@cs.uiuc.edu (NeXT Mail accepted)
_______________________________________________________________________________
Disclaimer: If I were speaking for the UofI, I wouldn't be paying tuition.

Marguerite Petersen

unread,
Jun 9, 1993, 10:38:31 PM6/9/93
to

>Jill

I like your explanation. Maybe, because it is the same as the
conclusion I came to. We certainly saw plenty of the "I remember
when" that suggested to me that this was supposed to represent the
"Dax" consciousness. And I definitely think that the "Jadzia"
part has formed a friendship with Kira. This would certainly
provide conflict within the individual.

Marg

--
*************************************************************************
"Insufficient facts always invites danger, Captain."- Spock in Space Seed
Marg Petersen pet...@jacobs.cs.orst.edu
*************************************************************************

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages