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February 4, 2013

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 23 - Invasive Procedures

For some strange reason, whenever Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has an episode about Dax (Terry Farrell), the character herself is marginalized. "Invasive Procedures" marks the second episode where this has happened. Of course, this doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the episode (in some cases, it may heighten it because Farrell's acting can be spotty), but it is curious. The "Circle" trilogy ended on a flat note, so could "Invasive Procedures" bring it back up to the respectable level that we expect from this show? Unfortunately, no. I remember hating this episode when I first saw it, but watching it again has caused me to re-think it. Instead of being a waste of celluloid, it's just a very problematic episode with some good scenes that are pretty much wasted.

A plasma storm is sweeping through the area of space where the station floats, requiring that most of the crew be evacuated and the station be operated by a skeleton crew. Of course, that skeleton crew consists of all the regulars and nobody else, but at least they had Jake leave (that would have really stretched it). Odo (Rene Auberjonois) and O'Brien (Colm Meaney) are sweeping the docking area when they happen upon Quark (Armin Shimmerman) in an airlock. He claims he's pining for his brother and while Odo scoffs, they don't really do anything about it. Bad mistake.

A ship hails the station with a distress call, and when O'Brien and Odo go to meet it, they are swiftly overpowered by a raiding party of two Klingons, a Trill, and another humanoid. The crew is swiftly overpowered and subsequently finds that the Trill, Verad (John Glover) intends to steal the Dax symbiont from Jadzia, which would end up killing her. While Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) initially refuses to do the procedure, Jadzia insists that he do so to prevent anybody else from getting hurt. Once Verad gets the symbiont, Sisko (Avery Brooks) has to race against time to stop him and retrieve Dax before it's too late.

This episode suffers from one almost catastrophic failure: what Quark did is almost unforgivable. Kira (Nana Visitor) at least addresses the issue while they're all waiting in Ops for word about how Jadzia and Verad are doing (she tells him that no matter what happens, Quark is through on the station), but it's never addressed again. There's no way that the show is going to get rid of one its major characters, which means that there will be no repercussions. He does help in the resolution of the whole situation, but given the fact that they wouldn't be in it if it wasn't for him would seem to work against forgiving him, at least to the extent they seem to. And just to add insult to injury, in the execution of Quark's plan to save everybody, we get to hear more Ferengi screaming. Twice. Oh , joy.

The other problem with the episode is that it's predictable and, well, kind of dull. It's so predictable that even the characters can see the future. Sisko tells Mareel (Megan Gallagher) that Verad will change once he's joined. He won't be the same man. She denies it, saying that while he will be more confident, he will still be essentially the same man. Then, of course, she's proven wrong in scene after scene, and we get to see her face fall lower and lower. We got lots of Klingon yelling at people, which is to be expected when they show up (and so welcome, too!). There are barely any scenes in this episode that aren't telegraphed a mile away.

The guest cast is up and down. They are mostly competent, but only Glover excels in his role. He plays the two Verads (the weaker, hesitant one pre-Dax and the stronger, self-assured one post-joining) very well. He also plays the joining scene superbly too. You see him almost afraid, shivering. Then he's in pain as the symbiont is put into his stomach area. Then the look of ecstasy and enlightenment when the joining finally begins. Also of note is his passion when he talks about how he felt slighted when the Symbiosis Commission turned him down for joining. "They reduced my entire life to one word: 'unsuitable'." All in all, it's a great performance by Glover.

Tim Russ plays the main Klingon, and he's almost unrecognizable (he later went on to play Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager, for the two or three of you reading this review who didn't know that). I thought he was doing a fabulous job losing himself in the role, and then I decided that he was playing it way too *loud*. He was almost shouting all of his lines, and we have seen Klingons before who don't do that. I think he was trying a bit too hard. Then there's Steve Rankin as the Klingon, Yeto (what a…non-Klingon name you've got there). His performance is pretty bad, especially his scene with Quark where he keeps saying "You stupid Ferengi!" Couldn't this scene have been jettisoned out into the plasma storm?

There is one scene (or two scenes, I guess, but they go together) that make this episode, though. Right before Bashir removes the symbiont from Jadzia, they share a quiet moment where Bashir apologizes to her and reassures her that he will do whatever he can for her. Then, when she wakes up after the surgery, Farrell plays the scene wonderfully. She feels empty, alone (she's had the symbiont for over two years now) and desperately scared. Bashir does his best to reassure her. These are two beautifully acted scenes.

Brooks also does well in his scenes with Verad, where he's trying to convince Verad to put the symbiont back. He's laughing and cutting up with Verad, trying to show Mareel just how different Verad is now that he's joined, and then tries to convince Verad. When that doesn't work, Brooks delivers his lines with the venom of a man who's just lost his best friend, murdered and taken over by the man standing in front of him. It's very nicely done.

Ultimately, an episode like this lives and dies by the quality of the acting involved. The story is hindered by the "idiot plot" syndrome, which requires the characters to act like morons in order for the episode to proceed. Thus, the actors have to carry it. Unfortunately, they don't. With the exception of a few scenes (mostly what I've already mentioned), they walk through the episode like they know it's just a placeholder for something more interesting coming up (at least I hope it's coming up). Let's hope that something is the next episode, because this one just doesn't cut it.

Note: There is a groan-worthy in-joke in this episode if you're a Star Trek fan. Verad and Sisko are reminiscing about their past and one of them mentions "The Cliffs of Bole." Cliff Bole, of course, has directed many, many, *many* Star Trek episodes. I did almost groan when I heard it.

Memorable Quote:

"I know. I know. He couldn't find a cup of water if you dropped him in a lake." - Quark (about Rom)

3 Stars


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