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WARNING: This post contains spoilers for DS9's "The Passenger." Those merely expecting to be along for the ride in this post rather than spoiled will be disappointed.

Nicely executed in a few places, but all in all rather mundane.

"The Passenger" had a number of nice moments to it, and some interesting flashes of mystery, but there more minuses than plusses here.

Interestingly, some of the plusses *and* some of the minuses revolve around Siddig El Fadil. To take the minuses first, he went *way* too far over the top in trying to be both alien and "eeeeeeevil" when Bashir had been fully possessed by Rao Vantika. I'm sure the intent was to keep everybody off balance, but the effect was to make me feel that the scenes had been dropped through molasses. Ugh.

On the other hand, El Fadil is only getting better in his portrayal of Dr. Bashir himself. The opening of the show, with Bashir being oh-so-satisfied with himself about his abilities, is a scene that rang a lot truer with most of Bashir's actions than his flirting with bimbos in "Q-less" did, for instance. Bashir is young and talented, and thus has an ego the size of the station. (As Lisa said, "The annoying thing about it is that he's probably *right*, too.") Bashir's intemperance in "rescuing" Vantika was somewhat foolish, but perfect for him and his clear desire to charge in like a conquering hero. Watching El Fadil play Bashir was one of the high points of the episode.

On the other hand, it doesn't excuse several of the major characters being astonishingly shortsighted. Bashir is welcome to believe that Vantika is hiding in Kajada's brain, but Kira? Odo? Odo *never* trusts anyone else's opinions from what I can tell, and Kira saw rather vividly that Vantika had Bashir at close quarters -- she's the one that pried him off! To have both of those two (and Primmin, to some extent) blindly buy the immediate theory that Vantika is possessing *Kajada* is just a bit too convenient.

To add to that, there were opportunities for *great* misdirection with respect to us that went unfulfilled. Bashir-as-Vantika was such an obvious way to proceed that I found myself hoping it somehow really *was* Kajada --
or better still, Kira. (Given that Kira was one of the four people with full security knowledge, that would have made for *quite* an interesting muddle.) Some slight changes to Vantika's original "death" sequence might have made it much more open about the method of transfer and about who his receptacle was, which would've been much more entertaining. (I had Bashir pegged from about twenty minutes in.)

The Odo/Primmin conflict was also a bit too conveniently done in parts. The basic idea of it was fine, but did it have to start with Primmin being such a jerk? I think it could have been much *more* interesting had Primmin started off as competent as he was near the end, but also reasonable in his actions. Early on, he appeared to be critical without cause -- had he appeared to be critical *with* cause, it might have made for something a little meatier. This way, we unfortunately ended up with the "everybody learns something from everybody else and goes away happy" ending -- done with a certain flair, to be sure, but still too pat for my tastes.

That flair, on the other hand, was very definitely in evidence. Odo's confrontation with Sisko (his "resignation") was the highlight of it, both for the sparks in the acting and for the simple logic underlying it. The mechanics there were simple -- Odo had a very clear demand and Sisko had a very clear answer -- and it was all in the delivery and in the execution. Both Brooks and Auberjonois did a great job here. Many individual *scenes* in the Odo/Primmin situation were good; they just didn't seem to hold together into anything coherent for me. (The Odo/Primmin scenes themselves were the weakest scenes of the lot, but I'm not sure why. Both Auberjonois and Lashly did fine in other scenes, so it could be that they're just not working well against each other.)

Two of the points making it through the entire show, however (namely Vantika's scheming and Kajada's obsession), did seem to form nice threads. Caitlin Brown (who, if memory serves, we may have seen about two years back in "First Contact" as a hospital administrator) did a marvelous job showing Kajada's paranoia and its deeper reasons. Similarly, aside from the dumbing-down of the crew for Vantika's new identity, their conduct concerning the shipment *itself* was very sound, thus making Vantika seem like the very skilled plotter he was supposed to be rather than making the DS9 crew appear clueless. (Their final tactic, however, seemed very hokey to me.)

All in all, though, I don't feel that I came out having seen much of an addition to the series. I feel I know Bashir a *little* better, and the Odo/Quark scenes served to illustrate more of their differing points of view a bit, but there was nothing big to latch onto the way there was in every other show we've had save "Q-Less". This show was designed more around a particular plot and premise -- and without flawless execution, plot-driven shows usually come out looking weaker to me.

(Again, the exception was Kajada -- in fact, she was probably the best-defined character on the episode. Her execution of Vantika at the close of the show was a very natural outgrowth of what we knew about her, enough so that I'd have been surprised to see anything else.)

While the Odo/Q scenes may not have told us much we didn't already know about those two, they as usual served up a plethora of great lines. For those keeping track, this week I particularly liked:

"There's nothing wrong with a good delusion; I sell them upstairs to dozens of people every day."

and

"I resent that inference [that Quark helped a hijack plot]." "It's not an inference, it's a definite suspicion."

So there. :-)

There's not really that much to say this week (and I have a review of "Birthright, Part I" to finish :-) ), so it's time for some short takes:

-- All right, who told Paul Lynch to start taking after his namesake David? That scene with Dax looking under Vantika's fingernails for evidence -- I mean, *really*. "Special Agent Dax Cooper" jokes were the order of the
evening after that. :-)

-- Lisa's MST3K-ism: When Bashir woke up with his terrible headache, and Dax and Sisko are grinning that he's back to normal, her response was "Oh, good, he's in excruciating pain..." :-)

-- The semi-subtle reference to Spock's katra-transfer was nicely done.

-- Vantika's *real* hijack plan (bypass the station entirely) was impressive and well-thought-out. Cheesy takeover sequence, though.

That's about it. There was a good premise to this one and a good plot waiting to be done, but this wasn't quite it. All in all, this was a *decent* episode of DS9, but nothing worth writing home for.

So, the numbers:

Plot: 6. A few too many holes for my taste, and there wasn't *that* much reason to include the Odo/Primmin stuff.
Plot Handling: 6. Decent in most places, but the hijack sequence and Kajada's fall from the third floor were *awful*.
Characterization: 6. Not much was needed, but not much was *there*, either, aside from Kajada. It'd have been a 7 or 8 had El Fadil not been quite so voracious with his scenery-chewing towards the end.

TOTAL: Looks like a 6 to me. Not bad, but I've seen far better.

NEXT WEEK: A rerun of the first half of "Emissary".

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.caltech....@hamlet.caltech.edu
"There's nothing wrong with a good delusion; I sell them upstairs to dozens of people every day."
-- Quark

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