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November 12, 2012

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 3 - A Man Alone

"A Man Alone" was the third Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode aired, and unfortunately it's a bit of a let down from the previous two. Thankfully, the first two garnered enough good will that this minor speed bump did not derail the momentum the show had. But it was a close call.

Odo (Rene Auberjonois) truly becomes a man alone as he's suspected of murdering a Bajoran man, Ibudan (Stephen James Carver), who Odo had arrested and sent to prison during the Cardassian occupation. The episode starts (after an obligatory Bashir trying to pick up Dax teaser) with Ibudan gambling in Quark's (Armin Shimmerman) when Odo spots him, roughs him up, and tells him that he has 26 hours to get off the station. Later on, in a holosuite, Ibudan is murdered, and it looks like Odo is the only one who could have done it. No other DNA is found in the holosuite and there are no clues to indicate somebody else may have been there. Is Odo a murderer, or is something else going on?

A small second and a smaller third plotline occur as well. Keiko O'Brien (Rosalind Chao), a botanist by trade, is feeling very left out of everything. There's no need for a botanist on the station, she can't be on any ships that will be exploring the Gamma Quadrant, and she doesn't want Miles (Colm Meaney) to pull any strings for her. She doesn't know what to do. Until she notices Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) and Nog (Aron Eisenberg) getting into trouble because they don't know what to do either. She finally gets the idea to start a school for the few children who are on the station. The third plotline involves Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) chasing after Dax (Terry Farrell) but thinking he's been stymied by her interest in Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks).

This is a very uneven episode, with some good moments but some atrociously bad ones as well. It comes early enough in the series for us to have a sliver of doubt about Odo and whether or not he'd do something like this. Sure, he's a main character so you know he's not guilty. But the episode allows us to see what his sense of justice is like and we get a glimpse into his mentality. I could see him as a benevolent dictator, doing bad things "for the right reasons." Justice is more important to him then picky things like human rights. Ibudan's a murderer and a scumbag? Throw him off the station despite the fact that he's been granted amnesty by the Bajoran government. It's an interesting character bit, and we see that Odo is just that little bit different then the typical Federation ideals. We know he's going to be a nice contrast to the Starfleet types.

We also see Kira's (Nana Visitor) fierce loyalty to Odo, as she defends him against attacks from without and within. She can't believe Sisko would relieve him of duty even though he's the prime suspect in the case. The two confrontations between Sisko and Odo work very well, too. Sisko doesn't really know what to make of Odo as he's still getting to know him, so he's perhaps a bit harder on Odo then he would be after he gets to know him. Auberjonois does a wonderful job both in these scenes, as well as the one with Quark.

Tragically, the episode falls apart near the end, when we are shown the fallout from what happened. The people on the station become hostile to Odo, first shunning him (a somewhat effective scene) and then turning on him and wanting to hang him from the nearest balcony. This is all instigated by Zayra (Edward Laurence Albert), and it just doesn't work. Zayra is the one who starts convincing people that the shapeshifter can't be trusted. He's the one who incites the mob. He's the one who reports a conversation he had with Ibudan where Ibudan stated that he was afraid of Odo. It looks like he's part of the entire plot. But nothing happens to him. He just disappears and no mention is made of him after the resolution (though I may have missed it). So either he's just a passionate yet innocent man who was played badly, or it was badly written. Either way, the scenes don't work. Not to mention Bashir's conveniently timed solution to the whole thing which completely undercuts any dramatic tension in the scene.

In fact, Zayra's not being mentioned at the end brings up another problem with the episode. We get almost no resolution. After Odo does the unmasking, we get a voiceover and that's it (other than a scene involving the school). Huh? I sincerely hope that DS9 is not going to suffer from the Next Generation disease of abrupt endings. Spare me, please.

The other plot lines are competently handled, though they feel forced at times. Farrell hasn't quite mastered the "old but young" aspect of Dax yet, and her dinner with Sisko seemed very off. We do get some interesting insights into the Trill, but the scene itself was rather bland. As was the teaser scene between Bashir and her.

I've never been a big fan of Keiko, but here she does ok. You can definitely see the frustration in her face when she sees Nog and Jake misbehaving. Her complaining to Miles about feeling useless got a little shrill at times, but overall was well done. She does make it sound very easy to come up with a curriculum that will cover human, Ferengi, Bajoran, and any other race that has children on the station, but hopefully that will be addressed later in the series. Her scene with Rom (Max Grodenchik) was wonderful, by the way. She follows him around the bar trying to convince him to send his son Nog to the school using some very well-reasoned arguments, and finally, out of exasperation, he agrees to think about it. It would have been nice to see why Rom finally agrees, but I guess we're supposed to assume that he decide Nog was getting into too much trouble.

Overall, "A Man Alone" was a nice idea badly executed. The actors seem to be still trying to fit into their roles and aren't quite comfortable yet. At times they rise above it, but not always. This is one where they don't quite succeed.

Memorable Quote:

"Laws change, depending on who's making them. Cardassians one day. Federation the next. But justice is justice." Odo

3 Stars


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