Monday, 8 September 2014

Invasive Procedures written by John Whelpey and Robert Hewitt Wolfe and directed by Les Landau

What’s it about: Dax has her symbiont removed and almost loses her life…

Single Father: Prepare for your eyes to stand out on stalks as Sisko kicks seven shades of hell out of a Klingon as if he is venting all of his frustration at the situation out with every punch. Whilst he is often portrayed as a thoughtful man, Sisko is really a man of action and when his heckles are up he is more terrifying than Kirk, Picard, Archer and Janeway put together. I would not want to be on the wrong end of that fist. Sisko is extremely manipulative in some superbly written scenes where he reminds Verad of some of the best times he and Curzon shared before bringing the horror of the situation home by also reminding him of some Jadzia’s finest memories. It is episodes such as this one that remind you what a fine actor Avery Brooks really is and sees him playing to his strengths and his fascinating chemistry with Glover makes their relationship one to watch. Sisko thinks that he can convince Verad to give Jadzia another chance but when he sees that his pleas are getting nowhere he declares their friendship over. 

Tasty Terrorist: Quark has crossed the line and Kira makes sure he knows if they get out of this situation that he is through on the Station. I was surprised to see Kira getting her ass kicked but at least Mareel is another woman who has grown up fighting. Kira and Odo kick in one of the Klingons together in a rather sweet moment of violent bonding.

Community Leader: Quark’s cover story that he is pining for Rom in the airlock would fail to convince even if you didn’t know that he was a conniving little git. I would not want to be in Quark’s shoes when Kira catches up with him for disabling the security net. Trust our favourite little toad to try and make some money out of the unfortunate evacuation of the Station. As usual Quark gets some of the best scenes and I was laughing my head off as he leaps on a Klingons back and is tossed unceremoniously across Ops and then tries to bluff his way through his treatment in Sickbay and gets a surgical instrument in the ear for his troubles. After questioning whether they should let Odo out of his prison Quark shows off his knowledge of lock systems (he has probably thieved his way through every kind in his life). 

GE Doctor: Bashir is very inconsistently portrayed in this story. His scenes in Ops are extremely melodramatic (go and watch how he shakes himself free of one of the Klingons) and yet his tender moments with Dax in the Infirmary suggest a casual intimacy between the two characters which makes some powerful drama. Siddig fudges the moment where he has to snap at Yetol because he rushes the dialogue. DS9 was clearly a learning curve for the actor and he is almost there. 

Nine Lives: Terry Farrell gives her best performance to date when she wakes up with the symbiont removed. With the words ‘it's gone’ she manages to capture all the pain and emptiness of having her personality reduced to a single life. Dax will always have a small piece of Verad in her head because she can remember everything he felt. Like Dax in series one it is fascinating that although she is the focus of the episode, it is how the other characters react to her and the situation that is most revealing.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I know…he couldn’t find a cup of water if you dropped him in a lake but he’s still my brother.’
‘When this is over Quark and I are going to have a little talk…’
‘Don’t call me Benjamin.’ 

The Good: I don’t know if they have shot some new model work but there are some beautifully angled shots of the Station weathering the storm. It's lovely to see Tim Russ let off the leash before he is forbidden to express any emotion for seven years of Voyager. He is literally spitting blood in this episode, it is a shame the extent of his performances on Voyager were so limited. Cult TV veterans Megan Gallagher (Millennium) and John Glover (Smallville) are big casting draws for the series and they really make the most out of the arresting relationship between Mareel and Verad. The way he leans on her before the operation and practically ignores her afterwards is played with a great deal of thought between the two actors. It's interesting to note that in Equilibrium we learn that far more people can handle a symbiont than the Trill Government leads people to believe and perhaps Verad (as on the edge as he clearly is) was cheated of his chance just to protect their secret. Imagine having your entire life reduced to the word unsuitable – ouch! You can almost begin to understand his resentment. O’Brien being shot is an effective moment because as Verad says it is his first criminal act so he may as well go through with ripping the symbiont from Jadzia because he will be punished anyway. The last shot of the episode is hauntingly staged by the director. 

The Bad: A case of very bad timing but having two episodes in a row that see the evacuation of DS9 makes the idea feel tired when just snipping the last scene of The Siege could have suggested that the people who left in that episode just hadn’t come back yet. Even Quark is left behind again just like in The Siege so it all makes perfect sense. 

Moment to Watch Out For: The look of wonder on Verad’s face as the symbiont is slipped into his face says more about the life changing experience of the moment than a million words could. It’s an exquisite moment of televisual psychology.

Result: Once again DS9 aces the bottle show and Invasive Procedures presents a hostage drama and a psychological thriller that hits some pretty profound notes. I love the ensemble shows on DS9 because the characters work so well together whilst all retaining very strong individual personalities and pretty much everybody gets a moment to shine in this episode. It’s a great chance to see Sisko tackle a problem physically and psychologically (I’m not sure which is scarier!) and Quark pretty much steals the show whenever he appears. Trill society is one that is often ignored in Trek so it is nice to explore the nature of joining and to see both sides of the coin (Dax being a confident success and Verad a mewling failiure). Les Landau takes advantage of the empty station to produce some effective long shots but it is odd how when removed of its personnel the Station feels more claustrophobic than ever. There are a few flaws (grunting Klingons and Bashir who hasn’t quite grown up yet) but overall this is a strong standalone episode: 8/10

1 comment:

Ed Azad said...

One of the nice, doubled-edged things about the Next Generation shows is the subtle flickers of characterization. We know nothing about Sisko from the start apart from Avery Brooks' own observation that he is "a quick thinker but also a deep thinker." He's unfamiliar to us just as he is to the station residents.

We later learn that he personally designed the Defiant-class warships at the Utopia Planetia shipyards, which implies a certain technical genius. His scenes with Dax tend to reminisce on his hotheaded cadet days, and we sense that Sisko has terrible anger issues. Perhaps that's why he was appointed to DS9 - Starfleet had no use for him at home (for political reasons), but tacitly agreed that his severe commanding style might be effective on the new frontier (and out of sight)!

This also works to Avery's strengths as an actor who doesn't like to do the obvious thing. My favorite Sisko moments come from this episode and "Past Tense", when he falls back on guile to charm his adversary into thinking he's joining them. You almost believe for a second that Sisko is willing to pick up where he left off with Verad Dax, just like you almost believe he's a trigger-happy thug in "Past Tense."