Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Dramatis Personae written by Joe Menosky and directed by Cliff Bole

What’s it about: The crew become infected by a telepathic race who destroyed themselves…

Single Father: Considering he can be such an intimidating bloke at times (both his muscular frame and his quietly menacing voice) I find it even more unnerving to find Sisko sitting reflectively in his office designing a clock (what the hell was that all about?) with only occasional sudden bursts anger and violence. The way he whispers his dialogue like singing to a child is enough to give me nightmares. My favourite scene in this episode comes when Sisko starts his new clock in the last scene, it’s the one touch of thoughtfulness in all the sci-fi melodrama. I’m really glad the baseball from If Wishes Were Horses and the clock from this episode stick around – they might be two of the most disposable episodes of the season but they do have an impact on the series, at least in terms of decoration. 

Tasty Terrorist: It does seem a little odd given all the development since the beginning of the season that we should return to the feisty tension between Kira and Sisko that was highlighted in Past Prologue but at least we have got to the stage where she will concede to ‘try things his way.’ At least until the Klingon energy sphere invades her mind and makes her try to murder him horribly. Once she is possessed Kira is so ridiculously butch and aggressive it is hard to take her seriously. Firstly she tries to manipulate Odo by going for the heavy seduction approach and then she manages to bring Dax around by aggressively flirting with her too. Is this a trial run for the bisexual good time girl Intendant? 

Everyday Engineer: Amazing how unlikable Colm Meaney can make O’Brien by twisting a few of his normal characteristics out of joint (his casual racism and generally opinionated nature are both oddly charming usually). Meaney seems to enjoy the chance to the chew the scenery in Sisko’s Office, channelling his performance from TNG’s Power Play.

Unknown Sample: Odo tries the softly softly method with Quark by gossiping with him about the Klingons but as soon as that doesn’t work (or Quark tries to bribe him) he turns on the bad cop which proves much more effective. When his face starts playing pat-a-cake it looks really excruciatingly painful, Auberjonois is great at playing those moments of sudden hurt. Whilst the kinky dominatrix approach doesn’t work on Odo I bet her talk of giving him free reign on the station and banging up whoever he likes made him wonder if he should support Kira in this power struggle for a second. He’s such a crafty character, manipulating O’Brien, Kira, Bashir and Sisko all at the same time. 

Community Leader: Trust Quark to try and wangle some compensation out of this whole sorry situation, putting on a fake neck brace and crying out ‘I want satisfaction!’

Nine Lives: Looks lethargic for the whole episode. It's easy to sympathise at times.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘She must have spies everywhere!’ – O’Brien on Kira.
‘Never Get me a phaser, I’ll get rid of Kira!’ – scary Sisko.

The Good: Even though the writing is pretty vacuous the direction tries to make up for it by suggesting a state of imprecision in every scene. Even Odo waking up on a bed in Infirmary is filmed in a very peculiar way. As something of a horologist myself I adore Sisko’s clock – it is so beautifully intricate and unusual. Even though the regulars on this show are more at odds than you usually see on Star Trek when they finally turn on each other in this episode it is spectacularly nasty with Sisko literally kicking the shit out of a Bajoran officer who is trying to put him to sleep, O’Brien slapping Dax around the face and Kira coming at everything guns blazing. The last ten minutes are the best of this episode in that respect with Odo trying to get everybody where he needs them whilst convincing them he is on their side. The climax is rather exciting in that respect. 

The Bad: Dax is looking vacant immediately after the teaser – I probably would have let the audience think things were normal for a little longer. As soon a somebody starts acting out of character you know that more is to come. The constant cuts to the Klingon log does explain what is going on but there are far too many scenes of people sitting around watching it. The conclusion is spectacularly daft with Odo opening a cargo bay door and allowing the atmosphere to escape as everybody hangs onto consoles.

Moment to Watch Out For: Watch out for the scene where Kira picks up Quark and throws him across the bar and so hard he hits the wall and brings a ton of glasses crashing down. Do not get this woman angry.

Result: Dramatis Personae is basically all the ill feeling amongst the crew of DS9 turned up the nth degree. To someone who watches the odd episode you might not even distinguish between their behaviour here (Kira beating up Quark and arguing with Sisko, O’Brien’s strong opinions about everything, Bashir playing the field) and the last time you watched but anyone who has watched the entire season will have seen subtle changes in their behaviour as the regulars have started to gel. This used to be my least favourite episode of the season because none of the characterisation on display is particularly subtle but the regulars certainly all give it their all and it results in an episode that is at least entertaining camp trash. If you ever wanted to see Kira flirt with Dax, Sisko kick the crap out of someone, Odo walk a fine line between two camps, O’Brien putting his tactical skills to good use and a cat and mouse hunt between the crew then this is the episode for you. Personally I prefer the more thoughtful brand of DS9 and this is nothing but a bad TNG episode played with a little more spice. This is the case for all the Joe Menosky inspired DS9 episodes…he is definitely pitching for the wrong show. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he found a home on Voyager: 5/10

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