Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Passenger written by Morgan Grendel, Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Michael Piller and directed by Paul Lynch

What’s it about: Bashir turned psycho killer…well Duridium shipment hijacker at the very least.

Single Father: When Sisko tells Primmon you have to forget what you learnt at the Academy and not to throw it in anyone’s face I could have kissed him. Academy rules work well on Earth but seem to fall short of being effective as soon as you leave orbit and bizarrely it is only the characters on DS9 who seem to realise that. Janeway is still trying to adhere to the rules and she's 70,000 light years from home. Sisko likes Odo because he likes to know where he stands with people and (without a shadow of a doubt) there is no question of that with him.

GE Doctor: Bashir’s arrogance is unbelievable as he sits there telling Kira just how fabulous he is at his job. ‘Faith has granted me a gift Major. A gift to be a healer.’ No wonder she feels privileged to be in his presence. He's due for a sharp fall. I read something in a David A. McIntee review once which has stuck with me ever since – whenever actors are asked to act possessed they suddenly forget how to act entirely. Whilst there are a few exceptions to that rule it is for the most part entirely accurate and you can include Siddig’s unfortunate turn as Vantika in this episode. I have absolutely no idea who he is supposed to be channelling but his camp, monotonous delivery is inexcusably bad and lacks even a shred of menace. It's one of the few times I would say DS9 is genuinely embarrassing to watch (see also Fascination and Let He Who is Without Sin).

Unknown Sample: Dax seems to like spending most of her time alone which Quark suggests makes her the perfect woman for Odo. Primmon is so instantly unlikable our sympathies are completely with Odo. Anybody who comes onto the station and starts throwing their weight around isn’t going to get anywhere. Mr Worf, please note. Wonderfully flawed, Odo strops into Sisko’s office like a grumpy child to ask who is in charge out of him and Primmon. He needs clear jurisdiction on DS9 or he is out. The wonderful old curmudgeon. 

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Make…me…live…’

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘No more middlemen Sisko! No more delays!’ 

The Good: This is another episode boosted by a strong premise with a criminal who is obsessed with death ensuring that he can survive any attempt to kill him. Kajada stabbing Vantika’s corpse is deliciously gruesome. Trust Quark to be rummaging around on the floor after hours looking for dropped coins. When these are the only positive observations I can make about an episode then we are in trouble. 

The Bad: Later seasons are interconnected so that every story impacts on the overall story arc of the series. If you have what appears to be a standalone episode it usually adds depth to one of the major players be it the Bajorans, Cardassians, Federation or Dominion. To watch these early episodes where the standalone episodes feature alien races that we never hear from again seems…odd. In a hilarious moment of overdone theatrics Kajada turns up randomly at the end of a scene to tell everyone that Vantika is up to his old tricks. What a shame that Primmon turns out to be effective in this episode – I really wanted him to be shown up by Odo at every angle. The Duridium shipment crew seem to have no sense of self preservation. They just stand there looking shocked and waiting to be shot down. 

Moment To Watch Out For: If the plot hadn’t made it obvious enough that Bashir has taken on the conscience of Vantika then the scene where a mysteriously gloved man with a whispery British accent threatens Quark should seal the deal. That and the split second close up on Bashir’s face when he throws Quark to the ground. Oddly despite all these pointers they still dress up the possession as a revelation towards the climax. 

Only DS9: Quark is actively working against the task of the station personnel in a way that we would never see in another series. Whilst he only considers himself the middle man, he is employing criminals to steal something the Federation has pledged to protect. When characters on, say, Voyager act against the interest of the ship it is because they want to avoid having Janeway break the prime directive (Tuvok) or to continue their usefulness (Neelix). To be fair Seska is exposed as a traitor but she is kicked off as soon as they realise. Quark is simply too useful not to have around. He’s a profit monger with connections and proud of it.

Teaser-tastic: Once we get past Bashir basking in his own hubris, this is not a bad hook into the episode, especially Vantika’s creepy dying words.

Result: Such a ridiculously predictable episode I am surprised they bothered to dress it up as a mystery. The Passenger features the oddest performance ever seen in a Deep Space Nine episode in Siddig El Fadil’s take on Ray O’Vantika which is more likely to provoke laughter than chills. Paul Lynch tries to make this as dark as possible but the script is fighting him lacking the scares of a horror or the intensity of a good psychological thriller. Ruining things further is the inclusion of Primmon who annoys from the outset and is so ineffective he only hangs around for two episodes. Odd that the first Bashir episode should be such a flop because pretty much every other episode to highlight the character (Our Man Bashir, Dr Bashir, I Presume?, Inquisition, Inta Arma Silent Leges) would turn out to be absolute gems. Easily the weakest episode so far and exactly the sort of camp old nonsense that was dropped when the series found its stride: 4/10


Fanny Loveless said...

DS9 Rarely does the 'so crap its hilarious' stuff that Voyager perfected to an art form but this is one of the few ones. Siddig who was a great actor in later Seasons, and to be fair everything else I'v seen him in, was never the best in the early years. The bright eyed and bushy tailed character didn;t suit him at all and to be fair he probably found playing it boring, but saying that.... his generic bad guy this episode is terrible.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall reading that Sid initially did Vantika with an accent, but later they trashed it, and he may have looped all his Vantika dialogue over again. It certainly explains the weirdness in delivery.