Deep Space Nine: s02e04 – Invasive Procedures

                                                  The Villains

After the three-episode extravaganza used to open season 2, I’m hardly surprised to see DS9 continue with a bottle-episode, confined to the staff and the cast. On the one hand, this led to a well-realised personal story, but on the other the programme was not best served by the unfortunate contrivances required to set it up, which rocked credibility.

The story was simple: Verad, an unjoined Trill, took over the station during a plasma storm in order to fulfil his lifelong ambition of being joined with a symbiont. He had been rejected as unsuitable, but evidently regarded it as being his right to have one: he deserved it, you see, the pathetic little heap of self-entitlement.

So he’d decided to take on, to take Dax from Jardzia, and never mind the consequences, i.e., Jardzia’s subsequent death. Nor was fleeing through the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant really running from his crime: Verad Dax would do so much good out there, after he’d realised his potential.

Under threat to the Command team, and with Jardzia’s acquiescence, to spare her friends, Doctor Bashir performed the transplant. And Verad Dax bloomed, inarguably. He also lost Sisko’s friendship for his refusal to hand Dax back.

So Sisko worked on Verad’s girlfriend, Mareel, pointing out that he was no longer the Verad she loved, and that she wasn’t going to form any part of his life in future, a fact she stubbornly resisted until it became too bloody obvious, whereupon she shopped him for his own good. That was one relationship that you couldn’t see lasting until the next Prom Night.

So all ended well, especially for Avery Brooks, who got to hug a near-naked Terry Farrell.

In that aspect, it was a tightly-knit episode that made good use of the commitedness of the central cast to the firm relationship they have as comrades and friends (does the Chief not still dislike the Doctor, then?) and it was a particularly string episode for Sisko. Which, in a way, was part of the problem in general for the episode.

I’ll return to that in a moment. First, let us consider the set-up. Deep Space Nine spends the episode in the middle of a plasma-storm which sees everyone evacuated, barring a skeleton staff. Which consists of the cast, naturally, and no others. How plausible is it that, in such circumstances, only the Senior Command, and all of them should remain. I have never been in any kind of military organisation, but that doesn’t strike me as to how it works.

The plasma-storm, and the near total evacuation of DS9, is essential for Verad’s plan to take over the station with his girlfriend and two Klingon mercenaries, and they gain entry to the station thanks to Quark bypassing security for them. Yet there’s nothing to indicate that this plasma-storm was foreseen by the station far enough in advance for that arrangement to be organised.

Then there’s Quark himself, who opened the door. Major Kira promises that that’s it, he’s finished, and in any realistic setting, he would be. But Quark will be back next week, unchanged, without interference. Granted, he seems to have been conned into thinking this was a smuggling exercise, rather than the truth, and his fakery of injury enables Bashir to start  the fightback by sedating the distracted Klingon mercenary no. 2, but his actions before that have gone beyond redemption. Knowing they will suffer no consequence demeans and diminishes the story if more than just Jardzia goes back to where it started.

And we come again to the elephant in the space-station. This episode is about Jardzia Dax, about her being the Trill. She’s the centre of everything, and yet she spends most of the episode lying on an infirmary table, partially covered by a surgical sheet.

The reason for this once again comes down to Terry Farrell being a pretty face, and insufficient as an actor to take on parts that involve a substantial range. Just as in the first season episode, ‘Dax’, though the episode centres upon her, she cannot be trusted to play an active role in it. Though the story wouldn’t exist without Jardzia, it is instead Sisko’s performance that is at its centre.

I hope I’m correct in recalling larger roles for Lieutenant Dax in the seasons I saw at the time, but for now she’s merely a deadweight, holding the show back, and it deserves better.

Finally, I’d just like to mention Klingon mercenary no. 1, played by Tim Russ, who would go on to play the Vulcan officer, Tuvok, in the next Star Trek franchise, Voyager.

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