DS9 Episode 1.18: Dramatis Personae

In which Sisko finally gets some personality. It’s just not his.

Memory Alpha says: The crew becomes infected by a telepathic imprint of a culture that destroyed itself. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Okay, I’m writing this when I’m home from school on a Monday with a rotten cold that I don’t want to spread. What better medicine than Star Trek?

I do rather like the concept for this episode. Although they have to maintain a vestige of science fiction by calling it ‘a telepathic imprint,’ basically, they’re being controlled by ghosts, doomed to forever re-enact their own downfall, unless someone or something can break that pattern. This makes it similar to one of my all-time favourite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ‘I Only Have Eyes For You.’ And hey! Principal Quark’s in that!

Bullet points for today.

  • Weapons-grade Dolemite? How did they say that with a straight face? This is sillier than when they had aliens named after Ren and Stimpy.
  • That scene was very interesting for the awkward power dynamic between Kira and Sisko – when she says ‘All right, we’ll try it your way’ he says ‘Good’ in a real ‘No shit, Sherlock, I happen to be the commander’ tone. Still, there’s no suggestion in the scene of Kira being insubordinate or wanting his job – she’s honestly concerned and indignant about possible Dolemite smuggling and wants to be sure Sisko understands how serious it is.
  • Keiko has taken her school on a field trip to a grain processing centre on Bajor. Jesus that’s boring. They don’t have a zoo on Bajor? Probably not; I’ll blame the bloody Cardies.
  • Well, the Klingons went boom.
  • Why was Julian even there, other than to be convenient?
  • Once again, Julian is playing CSI. I have a job all lined up for him in Law & Order: UFP.He and Beverly will be the medical examiners, doing cool, gory autopsies, and he’ll also do field work with Geordi and Data. Obviously, I am now sucking in elements of the CSI franchise as well – and if I’m not stopped, probably Bones and Criminal Minds as well. Just stop a moment and imagine how profoundly bothered Temperance Brennan would be by Deanna Troi.
  • O’Brien is surprised by the idea of victory on a bio-survey mission. I am surprised by the idea of Klingons doing a bio-survey mission – except I do kind of like the idea that there are whole other tiers of Klingon society busily getting on with Science and Commerce and so on, but the loud, obnoxious warrior caste are the ones everyone has heard of.
  • Giggly Jadzia! First sign of one of the ghost personalities.
  • The Valerians are ugly.
  • Way to undermine Kira, Sisko. He really doesn’t have anyone’s back, does he?
  • Oh, those rambunctious Klingons. I like to imagine them just hurtling around the holosuite bouncing off the walls and yelling ‘AARGH! HAHAHA!’ like hyperactive little boys in Brian Blessed bodies.
  • You’ll notice that I don’t care about the plot at this point apart from always enjoying Odo and Quark fencing.
  • Dude, Odo’s head turned inside out. That was effectively gross! Curious that when he falls unconscious, he holds his humanoid shape.
  • Julian says that Odo’s body chemistry ‘defies analysis,’ but in ‘A Man Alone’ he had DNA, traces of which implicated him in Ibudan’s ‘murder.’ I always like picking up these little bits of retconning in the early episodes of a series, as they belatedly figure out some things they want in place.
  • I notice Odo sits straight up from a prone position, like Data.
  • I like how basically all Julian could do was put him on a bed. So he did that, because, well, he couldn’t do nothing, it would look silly.
  • Smarmy-voice ghost! Come on, Odo, ‘uneasy alliance’ wasn’t pretty clear already? You’re uneasy with Sisko yourself.
  • ‘Unless you’d like to pour yourself through my forensic analyser.’ What a line. And of course, because it’s Julian, it sounds flirtatious.
  • Love how Sisko arranges his arms over the secret project he’s started making. ‘I’ll just casually stand here bent double for a while.’ Then you can see him decide it doesn’t matter if Kira sees the project and straighten up, turning it over. All of a sudden Avery Brooks is being interesting to watch. All of a sudden Sisko has a personality besides ‘loves his kid.’ I know we’re supposed to think it’s sinisterly out of character for Sisko to be acting like an asshole, but really, not that far out of character.
  • ‘The natives.’ Racist imperialist ghost! Take up the white man’s burden, O’Brien. Actually, it’s been pointed out to me recently (I wish I remembered where, but it’ll be buried somewhere deep in a thread of LiveJournal comments) that ‘The White Man’s Burden‘ by Rudyard Kipling is an absolutely perfect poem for Gul Dukat. Except I suppose for him it’s the Grey Man’s Burden. Anyway, I always think it’s important to remember that the Cardies aren’t just the Nazis, they’re the Raj as well.
  • I also like how the ghost inhabiting Jadzia appears to be a nostalgic old fart. Perhaps it was drawn to her because of her inner old fart qualities?
  • Flirty ghost! Talking about Dolemite. You know, I would have thought that Odo would have no problem with snooping on the Valerian ship, if he thought there was something dodgy on board, regardless of what Sisko said.
  • I really like how Sisko and Jadzia’s body language is getting to be more noticeably that of their ghosts, and how this possession can just adapt itself seamlessly to whatever political situation it’s dropped into, and how just after O’Brien’s personal log included the suspicion that Kira has spies everywhere, we hear the word ‘spy’ in the garbled Klingon log.
  • I want one of those traffic light cocktails Quark made for Jadzia – and I like the fact that he describes it as ‘bright, and sweet, much like yourself.’ That’s not cheap flattery, Kira, that’s high-quality stuff.
  • Aw, Quark was actually being pleasant and charming; he did not deserve that ‘Get lost.’
  • So Kira’s ghost’s MO is clearly to hit on everyone until she gets her way.  Jadzia’s dreamy old fart manner is very, very sweet and endearing.
  • I like how completely unsmooth Quark is about overhearing shady shit – and how strong Kira evidently is (possession strength?) to throw him into the wall like that.
  • Now, does Quark have a ghost too, or is he just an ordinary person caught up in this nuttiness? I prefer the latter option. I’m tickled by how having his neck in a brace is causing Armin Shimerman’s rubber head appliance to shift when he tries to move his head.
  • ‘Don’t look at me that way. I’m perfectly normal.’
  • I love how Quark’s croaky injured voice disappears when he gets cross.
  • Now what are you doing in there, O’Brien? I also like how the ghost I’m thinking of as the Bodyguard has moved into O’Brien, the Starfleet character with military and security experience. It’s so nicely done so that the personalities overlap and interleave (with the exception of Kira trying to be sexypants).
  • ‘What are you doing here?’
    ‘Chief O’Brien’s orders.’ Which, from my tone, I evidently feel are a crock, but I can’t see any way out of them.
  • How do you have a fine afternoon in space?
  • Sisko looks from some angles like he’s doing embroidery. I’d like to see a big tough Starfleet officer relaxing with a spot of needlepoint.
  • I love how happy he is about his clock.

    Look at Avery Brooks act!
  • Nice noir crossed legs shot. You know, Kira, I’m not sure boobs even work on Odo.
  • I like how she tells the man she’s trying to corrupt that he can’t be corrupted.
  • Kira and O’Brien have cut the phone lines! Dun dun dunnnn!
  • I like how the Klingon officer even sounds pissed off heading up the title of his log entry.
  • Sisko’s clock really is beautiful. I like the coppery discs.
  • I really dig how we’re supposed to be thinking ‘But this couldn’t happen, because Federation people don’t plot behind closed doors and have power struggles!’ Yaaaaaay Deep Space Nine!
  • I’d love to know what Smarmy Ghost Julian was actually giving that fellow.
  • You know, it’s such a shame Garak wasn’t around for this, because he would have figured it out in parallel to Odo, perhaps even faster, and found it absolutely delightful.
  • And I love how cleverly Odo is working out how to work through Julian’s possession to get the help he needs (even when possessed by a smarmy ghost, he’s kind of easily led). Lots to love in this episode! I almost wish I’d started out doing a full summary, but I’m saving that for ‘Duet’ next time.
  • I hope O’Brien will later apologise to Jadzia for backhanding her. Smacking ladies in the face really isn’t his style.
  • And it’s the old take off your commbadge ruse! I’m really noticing, in the parallel early TNG episodes, how little the commbadges are used; people will often just have Wesley the Cabin Boy run a message. I guess they hadn’t developed all the rules of how they are used yet.
  • Full-on insurrection in the station, getting backhanded in the face, and Jadzia’s just bored and sleepy.
  • I’m surprised Julian hasn’t tried to betray Odo yet; the boy has no initiative.
  • I like the fidgety hand movements. Avery Brooks is just acting his pants off.
  • His speech now about ingratitude for his leadership is very Dukatty.
  • And purple lights fly out of everyone’s heads! And they make goofy pain faces!
  • And apparently they can all hold on tight enough, with their hands, to avoid being sucked out into the vacuum of space.
  • Well now. Don’t we feel foolish? I believe apologies are in order.
  • Well, it’s one way to do an exorcism. And at least Sisko got a groovy new clock out of it. Alas, he is back to having no personality.
  • So… so wait. Did the Valerians have Dolemite on their ship? Does it matter? Anyone? Bueller?

Well, next time, ‘Duet,’ which is pretty great.

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2 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.18: Dramatis Personae”

  1. solo Says:

    Read the poem. Oh Kipling, way to be you, saying things I wish I could claim were meant ironically but probably weren’t. But I recently read ‘Kim’ and it was really good.

    All I remember about this episode was the clock. I need to rewatch it.

    DUET! 😀

    • picardigan Says:

      I grew up reading and rereading the ‘Just So Stories’ in a rather nice edition my grandmother had, and it was impressed on me SUPER HARD that this was a SPECIAL BOOK that I was only allowed to read if I was EXTRA SUPER CAREFUL with it – like wash your hands right before touching it, don’t breathe too hard on it, don’t LOOK too hard at it in case you wear it out with your eye-beams.
      I loved the story where a little girl and her daddy invent the alphabet together BEYOND ALL REASON. I would just like to thank Kipling for making that a story about a little girl and her daddy, not a little boy.
      And I still think Taffimai Metallumai is a truly kick-ass name.


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