Deep Space 9: s1e09 – The Passenger


The surprise

It’s going to be impossible to get through this entire post so let’s get it out of the way now: I am the Passenger, I ride and I ride. To an Iggy Pop soundtrack, let us begin.

Overall, this was a very well made, very carefully composed episode. Even the initially humorous open was folded in very clever manner, in a manner that could have alerted me to the surprise reveal even earlier than I spotted it. Kira and Bashir are returning to DS9 in one of the run-abouts. Bashir has just saved someone’s life and is being self-satisfied and smug about it to the extent that the Major is about to give him a good character-deconstruction when a distress call come in. The duo beam aboard a Kohbliad spaceship on fire, rescuing its passenger, Security Officer Kadaja and, very much against her will, releasing her prisoner, the highly dangerous Vantiko. The latter is in a very bad way but before Bashir can beam him to DS9’s emergency room he grabs the Doctor painfully by the throat, husks out ‘Make me live’, and promptly dies.

That’s not good enough for the excessively paranoid Kadaja, who’s been pursuing Vantiko for twenty years. He’s highly intelligent, murderous and dedicated to extending his lifetime and whatever expense, and he’s played dead far too often.

This time, and every test confirms this in every way, the guy is playing dead far too effectively, but Kadaja is not convinced. Vantiko was heading for DS9, where, by no coincidence whatsoever, a shipment of the life-extending compound, deuridium, is about the arrive from the Gamma Quadrant. Security is high: Odo is clashing with Spacefleet Security officer Lieutenant Primmin over arrangements, and Quark is in a plot to hire mercenaries up to his ear-ridges.

Since unaccountable things were going on, it wasn’t difficult to twig that the improbable Vantiko had lived, somehow.

I twigged to the idea that he’d somehow turned himself into Kadaja, but when the gang made a similar, but related, leap into suspecting her not long after, it was clear I was going to be wrong. Once Dax identified a thumbnail concealed transmitter device, then it became clear that Vantiko’s choke-hold had been to get his consciousness into Bashir’s body, where it could take over and carry out the hi-jack.

The rest of it was fairly straightforward. Primmin, who I’d considered as a possible villain, came up with the bit of lateral-thinking that kept the station from being switched offline during the hijack, but Vantiko decided to play a kill-the-hostage scenario that was slightly odd given that he was, effectively, the hostage himself and rather uncharacteristically willing – for someone obsessed with extending his lifespan – to shorten said lifespan terminally.

Fortunately, Dax had had time to come up with some decidedly clever nonsense to knock  out Vantiko’s control, allowing Bashir to surface in his own body again, and all was well.

One more piece of clever nonsense was used to ‘beam’ out all the Vantiko cells from Bashir’s head, and place them into something that looked like a very early Discman, which Kadaja promptly fried into a small black stain.

As I said, a good, solid episode, with plenty of opportunities to outguess the writers. It was enjoyable but lacked a certain solidity, something which I’m finding overall about series 1. We’re still very much a standard Star Trek operation, adventure of the week style, which is conspicuously insubstantial in a static situation. To date, practically every post-pilot episode could be screened in any order without it making a difference. I suspect it’s going to be some time yet before the show develops the confidence to use its continuing background for real joined-up storytelling.

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