WARNING: The following article contains heavy spoiler information for DS9's "Invasive Procedures". To repel the spoiler invasion, leave the article alone.
In brief: Color-by-numbers. I'm not sure there was a single scene in here that couldn't have been anticipated pretty trivially, and I'm quite sure the characters could have been a bit smarter.
"Invasive Procedures" had a couple of big pluses and a couple of big minuses, but all in all it failed to provoke much of any reaction from me. It was just there, mostly.
By far, one of the biggest negatives was the "idiot plot" syndrome. While a big deal was made about Quark sabotaging the security net (which I assume must have been the weapons detectors only, since O'Brien wasn't surprised to see Mareel come through the airlock), it is both criminally dumb and way out of character for Odo to simply escort Quark out of the airlock without checking the thing out thoroughly right afterward. It's not like Quark was particularly subtle about it, either -- the sabotage device was sitting right by the door, blinking. Had Odo taken even thirty seconds to give the airlock a going-over, the entire episode wouldn't have happened -- and something that so easily could be avoided has one strike against it from the start.
A related negative was the whole "Quark's sold us out and gone too far" issue. While I found it gratifying that they did in fact address it, it was all dancing around for nothing, since DS9 isn't likely to remove one of its regular characters (and one of its most popular, I'm led to believe). Quark running his little ploy at the end to get back into their good graces was okay, but (1) it should have been subtler, and (2) it should have been followed up. As it is, we had Quark do that, there was no subsequent discussion about letting Quark stay or not, and odds are that next week we'll never hear a word about it. Bah.
Speaking of "never hear another word about it" frustrations, despite DS9's willingness to follow up issues I have a hunch that we're not going to see any change in Dax as a result of this incident. She says that she'll be carrying Verad's memories with her always now, but something in my gut tells me that we won't have to. I don't know why, but something about the way Dax has been treated in the past year or so suggests to me that there will be no tinkering with the character as a result of this. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
On the other hand, I rather liked the idea of a dispossessed Trill fighting to join the upper class, as it were, and Verad's line about being declared unsuitable definitely struck a chord. While I found John Glover a little uneven in spots as the original Verad (I found myself thinking about what Dwight Schultz would have done with the part), he did well enough that I felt for him.
And, more to the point, he did a wonderful job as Verad Dax. I actually did find myself believing that this being had a past with Sisko -- in fact, sometimes I found it easier to believe Verad Dax as a friend of Sisko's than I have Jadzia Dax. The scene with the two of them reminiscing, while a fairly obvious pose for Mareel's benefit, was one of the show's big pluses.
One of the few spots where I really found myself thinking that the show was being really intelligent was in the initial parts of the takeover, when the terrorists managed to get Odo safely out of the way. While it was a little
fortuitous that Odo was down there rather than O'Brien alone, it was very smart of them to keep Odo from running around loose, because he probably could have gotten rid of them very easily. That was some smart writing.
Most of the rest didn't stand out one way or the other, quite honestly. Bashir got a bit more screen time than usual, pretty much all of it good. Verad's cold-blooded shooting of O'Brien to get Bashir to cooperate was rather startling. Some of the strategizing was fairly good. On the whole, though, the rest of the show simply sat there and hoped I'd enjoy it, rather than really drawing me in the way the last several shows have.
The various "turning Mareel against Verad" scenes were almost completely by-the-book. I'm no scriptwriter, but I was saying most of the dialogue right along with Sisko and Mareel, sometimes before they did. That's not a particularly good thing. The one bright spot was Verad turning on Mareel with the "because he's my friend!" rebuff, which was unexpected and very strong. Unfortunately, the rest of it, while not exactly weak, was just very stale. (Quark's subterfuge and the overpowering of Yeto was pretty by-the-numbers, too -- and if I had to hear the whimpering about the ears for one more second, I'd have been tempted to throw something large at the screen.)
All in all, there were some good moments (and some bad moments, such as the "you Ferengi are so stupid" bit with Yeto, which is easily DS9's worst scene this year), but almost no surprises. "Invasive Procedures" wasn't particularly bad -- it just wasn't much of anything.
So, to wrap up:
Plot: One major bit of stupidity, but the rest was solid enough -- except, of course, the fake "issue" of Quark.
Plot Handling: Dull. Les Landau must have been sleeping on the job -- he's usually far better than this.
Characterization: Very bad on Odo, reasonable for everyone else. A fairly big plus for John Glover.
OVERALL: The pluses and minuses tend to even out, so let's call this an even 5. Very routine.
Back to politics, this time with Cardassian orphans. Looks meaty to me.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"They reduced my entire life to one word: 'unsuitable'."