Wednesday, August 4, 2010

DS9 Rewind Review – “The Passenger”

Review by Paul Steven Brown

‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’
Season 1 – Episode 8
“The Passenger”

“The Passenger” is extremely pedestrian Star Trek. There are no surprises, the mystery is clumsy, and the solution is steeped in techno-babble. Sadly, the core concept of a criminal that lives on in someone else’s mind as a stowaway is actually interesting. Unfortunately, the execution isn’t very good.

There is the half-hearted attempt as misdirection by casting suspicion upon Kajada, the police woman that had been pursuing Vantika for twenty years. But, the first suspect is usually not the culprit in a mystery, so she could be ruled out quickly. It didn’t help things that you could actually see a glimpse of Bashir when “Vantika” throws Quark across the bar. A quick finger and a pause button can reveal all.

I think another layer of misdirection could have helped things greatly. How about having Kira as the real carrier of Vanitka’s consciousness? She was there when he died, too. The writers could have had the crew and the viewers suckered into believing that Julian was the under Vantika’s sway when the entire time he was controlling Kira. Of course, this would depend on some subtle execution from the writers, director, and actors.

Something that was very unsubtle was Siddig El Fadil’s acting once Vantika took over Bashir’s body. The Shatner-like pauses between words were really goofy and absolutely did not convey any sense of menace. He’s not the best actor in the ensemble, but he’s certainly better than this.

At the end of the episode, I half expected Kajada to turn her phaser on Bashir. If she is that paranoid about Vantika coming back (even from a blinking coaster that they hand you at restaurants that vibrates when your table is ready), then why not take out the person that could possibly carry some residual traces of his personality? That would have made for a more interesting resolution to the episode and would have taken her obsession to an even more unsettling conclusion.

The one saving grace of “The Passenger” is the conflict of control between Odo and the Starfleet security officer, Lt. Primmin. Sisko is great during this situation. He shuts down Primmin and tells him that Odo is in charge. Also, he reassures Odo that he is ultimately in charge of security matters on the station, but he needs to understand that Starfleet will want to be involved in matters of high importance. Things end up all sunny and friendly between the constable and the lieutenant, but the matter does allow for more friction on a station that is a join operation between two militaries.

“The Passenger” is the weakest episode of this first season, so far. While there was some potential there, the end result is a murder mystery by numbers plot steeped in some sci-fi tech.

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