The latest Deep Space Nine was not a candidate for episode of the season, but then again it wasn’t actually aiming for anything like that. It set out to be forty-five minutes of light entertainment, letting the episode’s principal characters – Chief O’Brien, Doctor Bashir and Quark – have a bit of fun without the need of any plot, character or series development at all.
To be honest, this was such a slight episode that I found it difficult to maintain my concentration, and given the list of significant guests stars, I was continually stopping the playback to enable me to Wikipedia to remind myself of where I knew them from before.
In this manner, I was able to identify K Callan (Alsia, the widow with an asteroid mine) as Martha Kent from Lois and Clark (which we knew over here are The New Adventures of Superman), Barbara Bosson (Roana, the widow with a unit on the Promenade) as Fay Furillo in Hill Street Blues (loved that series) and Chris Sarandon (conman and ‘listener’, Martus Mazur) as the baddie in The Princess Bride (one of the best films ever made).
Basically, the set-up was that Mazur was angling to con Alsia when Odo arrested him for fraud. Whilst in the cells, Mazur took over a weird little gambling machine from a dead alien, which brought him good luck. Charges were dropped, Mazur conned Roana into letting him set up a gambling hall directly opposite Quarks, and everybody on the station starts suffering from excesses of good or bad luck.
Meanwhile, O’Brien’s built a racquetball court (very futuristic design, unlike any one that I ever played on: mind you, squash was more my game, not that you’d think it to look at me, even then… Oh. Sorry. Got a bit distracted there, where was I?) only for Bashir to turn out to be not only younger and fitter and more talented than him. Miles gets obsessed with beating Julian, Julian gets worried about Miles having a heart attack and Quark counters Mazur’s gambling den by conning the pair into a match on which serious bets may be laid.
By this time, Dax has spotted that something’s not kosher and that probabilities are being effective, so she and Sisko turn up at Mazur’s and blast his full-sized devices, which returns everything to normal.
Like I said, pretty slight. What was worse was that every single beat was so predictable, even down to Alsia turning out to be a conwoman, which I’d sussed out from the open. When you’re so far ahead of the cast, you lose respect over their inability to spot the bleedin’ obvious, even though you’re being a bit unfair to them at times. It’s not all stringing it out to make sure that the closing credits don’t hit your screen after fifteen minutes: it just feels like it.
So, a perfunctory review for a perfunctory episode. My only regret was that the guest cast included a willowy, attractive redhead in a curiously designed costume of swirling opaque and transparent questions, whom I could have looked at for a little longer, but as she didn’t have any dialogue, her name doesn’t appear in any of the standard sources I refer to. It’s not the best situation when you come out of an episode with that as your main thought*.
However, I am led to believe that next week’s episode is a bit of a doozy. Can’t wait!