DS9: S1E17: “Dramatis Personae”

In which I am so angry right now guys you don’t even know. 

Kira is pissed. A Valarian transport is scheduled to dock, and the Valarians have a history of supplying weapons-grade Dolomite to the Cardassians. This is kind of confusing. Dolomite is a sedimentary rock and Dolemite is a film about a man on a journey of revenge, and I think we all know which one of those it’s actually possible to weaponize, but I question how exactly the Cardassians used blaxploitation to oppress the Bajorans.

I am informed by Memory Alpha that it is spelled Dolamide, which appears to be a non-opiate pain reliever. So already we’re off to a rough start.

"You can't possibly understand what that film did to my people."

“You can’t possibly understand what that film did to my people.”

Now, what’s interesting here is that Kira is supposed to be representing the government of Bajor on a station that belongs to Bajor. Starfleet is only supposed to be there to administrate and facilitate. So why the hell does Sisko get final say on letting a species that might well be considered war criminals under Bajoran law dock at Bajoran property? Regardless of whether dolamide (non-capitalized and therefore non-trademarked, please do not sue me Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, for I have nothing) has civilian applications or not. Sisko’s only real concession is that if they do find dolamide and it’s weapons-grade, the Federation will ask them nicely to stop.

Keiko is off-station taking some schoolchildren to a gain factory, Kira is investigating the Valarian captain, and a Klingon ship has just come through he wormhole and exploded. Someone transported off and is stuck in the middle of beaming aboard, despite the fact that the send station exploded several seconds ago. That suggests a lot about the function of Klingon transporters – they have to be a somewhat self-sustaining packet of information. It was also sent to the pad at Ops, which is frightfully convenient. Perhaps some sort of emergency mode? He does require the DS9 transporter operations to reintegrate him, says “victory,” and dies on the spot.

The Klingon ship was in the Gamma quadrant on a bio-survey mission, or so their manifest claimed. Obviously, some sort of fight went down and they at least managed to last long enough to bring word of their ‘victory’ home.

Kira is giving the Valarians a hard time, based on their flight plan past some old dolamide factories. Kira is doing a terrible job of bringing them in without raising suspicion so they can be caught in the act. She’s screwing them over out of spite, when she could be inviting them in for complementary maintenance and slipping a word to the Starfleet techs that Bajor would be very interested in being kept appraised of any dolamide aboard the ship. I though resistance members were supposed to be full of crafty wiles.

"Psh, practical effects can go to hell. We have CGI."

“Psh, practical effects can go to hell. We have CGI.”

Odo is certainly making a go of using the goo he keeps in his head-parts to track down clues about the Klingon ship. Did I say crafty? I meant blackmaily. Turns out the Klingons thought they were retrieving a weapon from the Gamma quadrant, but as Odo leaves, his head goes all Scanners and he collapses. I’m a little surprised that Odo managed to keep his shape when he collapsed, actually. It suggests his humanoid form isn’t a conscious effort to maintain, and that he can sort of lock it in.

When he wakes up in sick bay, Bashir is being uncharacteristically cryptic. I have no idea where that came from. Kira is once again insisting that a trade route is proof of dolamide-smuggling, and she and Sisko are going head-to-head even harder than before. Some sort of mind-altering anger-wave-inducer is probably at work here. Particularly noticable when O’Brien starts sniping at Jadzia for literally no reason. And also thinks that being his enemy is scarier somehow than being Sisko’s enemy.

As these little vignettes play out, it becomes more and more obvious that battle lines and factions are being drawn up – Nerys goes to Odo to try to convince him to do a little spying. Now that it’s been made obvious, the senior staff manage to pull logs from the Klingon ship and of the snippets we catch, ‘captain,’ ‘insane,’ ‘executed two more crew members,’ and ‘energy spheres’ seem to be fairly important. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you need to brush up on your classics, because I refuse to have suffered through those alone.

 

That looks good and I want to be drinking it right now.

That looks good and I want to be drinking it right now.

The crew are also manifesting markedly different. Kira is a little all over the map, but Bashir was more cryptic than anything else. O’Brien is adopting an unfortunately stereotypical pugnaciousness. Sisko is introverting, and Jadzia is getting downright wistful. Also, I’m almost positive that in order to create that drink effect, the bottom layers are just solid, which is disappointing. Kira is attempting to build up a faction. She tries to sweet-talk Dax and break Quark’s head open. Quark’s so injured he tries to file charges with Odo.

Odo seems to be more or less normal. As the least biochemically non-standard person on the station, he’s likely the designated Lone Sane Man for the episode, and starts working the mystery and the clear connection to the happenstances we’re learning about the Klingon ship. When checking in with Sisko about the events, even though he ought to know it’s pointless, all he finds is that Sisko is sketching clocks.

O’Brien and Kira have now mostly locked down all the important systems, but at least the Klingon journal is complete, and talks about discovering telepathic energy spheres and a record of an ancient civilization destroyed by an internal power struggle. Gosh, ya think?

So, watching Odo handle Bashir’s weird paranoid is kind of great. Odo was only safe from the influence due to his non-humanoid brain, but what if Odo ‘and Bashir’ are the only ones not affected.

Mere minutes later, a fight breaks out in Ops and ends with Kira in control of the station, if not of herself. O’Brien and Sisko beam out, but instead of beaming out to the Valarian ship, the transporter automatically redirects them. The transporters are showing some pretty impressive automatic safety features today.

Purple Haze all in my brain / Lately things don't seem the same / Actin' funny but I don't know why /  'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Purple Haze all in my brain / Lately things don’t seem the same / Actin’ funny but I don’t know why / ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Odo does a decent job of stalling both sides long enough for Bashir to figure his technomagic out, and to herd everyone into a closed area (read: dramatic confrontation) so they can purge the conflict field via loud noises and violet energy. Really.

Really.

REALLY.

I ought to appreciate this terrible pun, but I  don’t know if it’s a VFX pun or if the writers literally just decided to write an episode based entirely around a Jimi Hendrix song.

Anyway, the energy field hovers in mid-air until Odo flushes it out an airlock and it disperses in space, and everyone seems more or less content to apologize for the past and get over it. Sisko did build a clock, though. As keepsakes go, it’s significantly less inspiring than, say, a flute and a thousand-year-old melody.

Did we miss something awesome?