Episode 1.18: Dramatis Personae

Dramatis Personae is another solid midseason episode, and it is one that starts a tradition of letting the actors perform outside of the role they normally play.  In later seasons, this is done mostly through the Mirror Universe storylines.  I know some who deride this episode type, especially the Mirror episodes, but I greatly enjoy them.  It allows the actors to demonstrate their range of acting ability.  Often, actors don rather villanous personae, such as Nana Visitor in the present episode.  This type of episode doesn’t advance any of the overarching plot nor will it challenge any particular character into growth.  It simply is fun to watch.  Not every episode needs to be epic and heart-wrenching (I’m looking at you, BSG).  A mark of a great show is one that can tell many types of stories and appeal to the viewer on many different levels.  “Fun story” is one of those levels!

Odo’s deductive work in this episode is noteworthy, and the way he manipulates all the participants is masterful.  He evades Kira long enough to keep himself out of the fray while simultaneously playing to Bashir’s allure for political maneuvering to get his help.  He gives O’Brien and Sisko enough breadcrumbs to stay in their good graces as well.  He can’t maintain this for long, and if this was a true coup, he would find himself without allies.  But the goal is the expulsion of the telepathic field, meaning Odo’s facade need only hold for just long enough.  The personae the other characters take reflect a character trait they all have.  Sisko’s detachment foreshadows his coming struggle with being the Emissary and the distance he wants from that label.  His hesitancy from the first episode (Emissary, Ep. 1.1/1.2) is echoed in his new persona.  Kira’s fears are amplified, as her distrust of the Federation becomes manifest.  Dax becomes lost in her memories unable to function in the present, a nod to her symbiont.  O’Brien is a fierce loyalist to his commander, as any regular joe should be.  Bashir finds the entire situation enjoyable, as he loves all the maneuvers and tricks played by the other participants.  This is naive, since in a real coup, it would leave him without allies.  Quark, as usual, is totally unaffected.  His compassion peeks through, when he tips off Odo to Kira’s change in behaviour.  He gets squeezed a bit by Odo early on, which again demonstrates Odo’s on-screen success in the criminal-vs-cop dance.  Quark plays the good snitch and coughs up what he knows.  Odo is the clear winner here, making me wince slightly.  The snitch is only a snitch as long as it’s worthwhile to him.  I did wish they put on-screen more of the times when Quark succeeds.  At the very end, after the field is gone, Kira shows some immense respect for Sisko by apologizing when she didn’t need to.  This is very against her nature, and shows her again striving to be someone new, someone who trusts the outsiders.

Overall, solid midseason filler and rounded episode.  It highlights the early series theme of Feds vs Bajorans while being a bit playful and light.  Next up is Duet, an episode I have been waiting all season for, followed by the Season 1 finale.  The end ramps up rather nicely.

Random Thoughts:  1) The clock Sisko builds will remain as an office decoration throughout the rest of the series.  2) Odo shows his deep knowledge of Kira, seeing her deceptive nature and recognizing the wrongness of it.  3) Terry Ferrell, the actress who plays Dax, does a fantastic job of making a story sound incredibly boring right from the start.  Kudos.  4) I marked this as a Mirror Universe episode for the story type; the actors play outside the role of their character.  It isn’t set in the Mirror Universe itself.

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~ by Joshua Black on October 3, 2012.

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