WARNING: The following article contains spoiler information for DS9's "Second Sight". Those not wishing to see spoilers even once, let alone twice, should stop reading the article here and now.
So. Here we are. And ... just what was the point of that?
DS9 has, in general, been split down the middle this season. The shows have either been exceptional, best-of-Trek items (such as the first two parts of the opening arc and "Necessary Evil") or things which have left me with a feeling of "why bother?", such as "Invasive Procedures" and "Rules of Acquisition". With the exception of "[[Melora]", nothing's been flat-out bad, but as a general rule DS9 has been either terrific or pointless this year for me.
"Second Sight" falls pretty firmly in the latter camp, I think. There's not much in the way of specifics to complain about, but neither is there really much of anything to highlight as good. The whole thing felt like an hour's worth of filler, which is not the best of feelings to have about a show.
Part of the problem is that, while I like seeing Sisko as commander, I don't often connect to him as a PERSON. (Part of that is because the baseball theme doesn't do a thing for me, but not all of it.) Thus, Sisko-heavy shows where he has difficult decisions, a la "Battle Lines" or "[[In The Hands of the
Prophets]]" or "The Homecoming" are often compelling; but shows that deal with Sisko the man often aren't, generally. Thus, despite the fact that Avery Brooks did seem to be putting a lot of effort into this, I really couldn't get myself interested in the Sisko/Fenna relationship -- none of it felt real.
Of course, some of that could be that Salli Elise Richardson was somewhat less than wonderful as Fenna/Nidell. She seemed to be sleepwalking through a lot of the role, particularly as Nidell -- but there wasn't a single time when I thought to myself "this is an interesting character!". Unfortunately, in love stories, chemistry is a huge issue -- and Richardson joins the ranks of whoever played Aquiel, among others, of people that made a relationship seem like day-old bread.
That, no doubt, added to the larger issue: I didn't buy the Sisko romance for a second. Sure, it makes sense that at some point he might have feelings for someone in the post-Jennifer era, and he might have some issues to deal with in that. But I do not believe that those feelings would suddenly be sparked in a one-minute conversation at the end of a long day. Nothing that serious develops that fast. Since I didn't buy that, the whole plot surrounding it fell apart.
Richard Kiley was probably the only real source of energy in the show, but he went too far in the other direction. While he was supposed to be annoying to the regulars (that, at least, was shown beautifully just before the banquet), I don't think I was supposed to be that annoyed. I was -- and I happen to like Richard Kiley most of the time, too. The character was helped a lot by the fact that he at least knew he was a major pain in the ass and simply didn't care most of the time, but the overenthusiasm made him far less of a plus than he really should have been.
Lest I sound completely negative, though, there are character moments I definitely liked. The little Kira/Sisko exchange about trying to back out of the banquet rang true (not to mention funny), as did Bashir's "well, I kinda
like him" attitude. Jake's description of his dream felt mildly incongruous, but had some power to it; and this was one of those rare occasions where I really felt like Dax and Sisko were good friends. All those were pluses; unfortunately, they were the smaller portion of the show.
Then, there's the plot. The main plot at least held together, but also held no surprises; I had Fenna pegged as Nidell's hidden side about, oh, twenty milliseconds after Nidell didn't recognize Sisko, right down to Nidell being
a telepath. The subplot was just plain silly; even with the great plot device of protomatter, I have a lot of difficulty swallowing the explanation about how they'll reignite a star. (I also notice, with no small chagrin, that it's not only the Enterprise that lets shuttles slip out without so much as a by-your-leave; apparently it's standard goofy procedure on all Starfleet vessels.)
There was also no real surprise in Seyetik sacrificing himself to save Nidell, except perhaps in the sheer histrionics of Seyetik yelling "let there be light!" right as he crashed. (By the way, crashing into rock if he was
heading for a star is a pretty silly thing to show, too.) If the character moments are wonderful, I can usually turn at least half a blind eye to predictability, even on this level; but here, where the most crucial character moments were dull, this just made matters worse.
I'm afraid that about covers that. Except perhaps for Kiley's overacting and a couple of the most egregious plot problems (e.g. the shuttle-stealing), very little about "Second Sight" struck me as bad. However, even less of it
struck me as good -- I simply wasn't struck by it at all.
One minor short take, then, and I'll leave you to Thanksgiving leftovers.
That issue is this: Sisko's claim early on that it's the fourth anniversary of Jennifer's death is impossible. No stardate system ever created could justify that -- from 99% of the evidence at hand, 1000 stardates is one year, and we're only about 3 years and change away from the Wolf-359 battle. In the grand scheme of things, it's something easily fixed (say, make it their twentieth wedding anniversary or something), but it's a pretty serious editor's glitch, in my opinion.
So, on that happy note, a summing-up:
Plot: Few holes, but zero surprises.
Plot Handling: Some nice camera work here and there from Alexander Singer, but I found myself looking at my watch a lot more than usual.
Characterization: The subordinate characters were pretty good, but the three main ones were either dull or irritating.
OVERALL: Call it a 3.5. I figured this would be a letdown after "Necessary Evil", but not on this scale. Ooch.
Bajor is the not-so-promising Promised Land for some...
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"Yes, well, all living things would be pertinent to our discussion. Excuse me."
-- "The Remains of the Day"