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January 7, 2013

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 16 - The Forsaken

I have to be upfront about something. I can't stand Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barret). I disliked every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that she was on, bar one. I find nothing funny or alluring about her and how she becomes a man-chasing harlot. If I see that she's in an episode, I cringe. So when I saw that she was going to be in a Deep Space Nine episode, I was horrified. After having seen "The Forsaken," I have to say that even this cast couldn't save it. Don't get me wrong, there are a couple of moments in there, moments where I wasn't sorry I was watching it (see what I do for you?). But those moments were few and far between.

Four ambassadors have come to the station to see the wormhole. Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) has been assigned to escort three of them around the station, and he's having a hard time of it. He just can't make them happy, and they're starting to get perturbed about how Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks) is avoiding them. The fourth, however, doesn't seem to mind. It's Lwaxana Troi, and she has formed an attachment to security chief Odo (Rene Auberjonois) after he finds a brooch that had been stolen from her. This fascination becomes an obsession, and she quickly starts pursuing him all over the station, even forcing him to seek Sisko's advice on how to avoid her advances.

Meanwhile, a probe has come through the wormhole, housing a giant computer. After downloading the computer's files into the station's computer (yeah, that's smart), things start going wrong. Power is interrupted, things start malfunctioning, and Odo gets stuck in a turbolift with Lwaxana. Will they get out before Odo's regeneration cycle is due and he turns into a puddle of goo? And will Bashir be able to finally make the ambassadors happy before he kills them?

I'll get the minor compliment out of the way first, though it's not that minor. Sisko shows great intelligence in not bringing the probe onto the station (O'Brien shows that he hasn't left the Enterprise and their bad decisions behind him when he suggests bringing it aboard). But then he agrees to download its computer? You don't think that might cause a problem, do you? However, if they had any safety protocols whatsoever, we wouldn't have an episode. In this case, that would be a good thing.

It's also episodes like this that, much like Roger Ebert, cause me to think about things I shouldn't think about. It's a Star Trek given that the crewmembers talk to themselves, telling themselves what they're going to do so that the audience out in TV-land can follow along. It's been a Trek thing since "Encounter at Farpoint," I believe. Usually I ignore it as a necessary evil. But when the episode is this bad, even those little things start annoying me. Half of O'Brien's dialogue in one scene is him talking to himself basically, or telling his co-worker what he's doing. Shouldn't she already be able to see what he's doing? Is she in training?

Ok, enough of that. How's the acting? For two episodes in a row, the cast phones it in. This late in the season, they were probably getting tired and when they saw a script like this, they gave it the energy it deserved. There's one scene when Odo and Lwaxana are trapped where she gives a monologue recapping one of the Next Generation episodes, and I really, really wanted to put my foot through the TV. Barrett tries hard, but she comes off as either shrill or just annoying.

The final scene in the elevator is almost passable, but it's written with so much sugar that a diabetic would go into shock. The other three ambassadors don't do anything exciting either. In fact, they're almost as annoying, except that they aren't in as many scenes. With their constant complaining, I wouldn't have blamed Bashir for blowing their heads off.

The only scene that really works throughout is between Bashir and Sisko, where Sisko's telling him that escorting ambassadors is a rite of passage, and how he dealt with the situation when Curzon Dax made him do it: by hitting one of them. "Don't hit any of them, Doctor. I won't be as understanding as Curzon was." The scene just works and it's well-played by both actors.

Another scene that almost works is when O'Brien (Colm Meaney) figures out what's going on with the computer, and converses with Dax (Terry Farrell) about it. Unlike their scenes in "Battle Lines," these don't actually seem forced and full of technobabble. Perhaps it's because it's only one scene instead of an extended sequence, but I also thought the actors pulled it off better. All of the regular actors do a competent job, with some flashes of brilliance (the look of fear on Odo's face when Lwaxana first comes on to him is priceless), but only Meaney moves past the silly script.

There's not much more to say about the episode, really. Lwaxana is generally the bringer of doom to any episode she's in, and "The Forsaken" is no exception. It's too bad, really. Deep Space Nine is in the first season's stretch run, and they can't seem to get out of the batter's box.

Memorable Quotes:

"Quark has plenty of reasons to feel guilty, but he usually doesn't have to resort to petty theft to please his clients." Odo
"Thank you." Quark

2 Stars


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