In which the crew plays the Leverage RPG.
Julian and Miles are mixing their hobbies, asking Vic about the Alamo. He’s more familiar with the John Wayne movie, but they’re inviting him to step out of his program for a bit to check out their simulation. It’s a trivial transfer, but Vic’s not interested in wearing buckskin. He sings them Alamo, though, to get them into the mood, but in an instant the entire ambiance changes into a rowdy burlesque joint. Nobody’s quite sure what’s happening, although Miles suspects a file pointer fault, but Vic recognizes the newest named character, Frankie Eyes. Frankie’s just bought the hotel and has brought his bullneck Cheech to kick Vic out. And Miles can’t delete the problem characters, or even freeze the program.
The Frank character is a Made Man, and since the holodeck doesn’t seem to be responding, Miles’s technological solution – manually resetting it, would also reset Vic, which nobody wants. Julian’s going to go ask the dev what happened, meanwhile others on the station, starting with Nog, rally to Vic’s defense, for obvious reasons. And Julian has the answer to what went wrong – Felix, the designer of the program buried a time bomb in the holoprogram to shake the adventure up – they have to get rid of Frankie Eyes within the idiom of the program. And they have to do it without getting Vic hurt, because that could result in him being deleted from the program. They could still potentially reset the simulation (or maybe not, given how these things go) but either way the Vic they know would be dead. And then Sisko drops by to tell everyone to get back to work.
Later, Sisko’s having dinner with Kassidy, who’s also into the Vic Fontaine simulation. Vic’s is apparnetly something of a sore spot for Sisko that he doesn’t want to talk about. And speaking of sore spots, apparently Vic’s had the snot beaten out of him, as a reminder to pack up. Fankie doesn’t like Vic because Felix programmed in a tumultuous past and sports rivalry turned into smouldering enmity. I wonder how much more past Vic has, or if it’s basically just that plus procedural generation and friendly deflection anytime someone asks him.
Odo and Kira are doing a bit of reconnosaince, and Odo is also firmly bringing the show down on the side of beauty as a cultural construct rather than a factor of biology. She doesn’t mind him watching the show, but he winds up going to ingratiate himself with the hit men. Meanwhile, Kira loses some at blackjack and the program provides her with a character hook for Frankie.
They return with solid information – Frankie is in the service of a bigger player, Zimo, who’s bankrolled the aquisition, and who expects a little skim off the top. Zimo will be in town soon to collect, and Miles has an idea. Disrupt the collection by robbing the casino, getting Frankie in trouble Zimo. And in as much time as it took to type this out, they’re all agreed to pull off an Ocean’s 11.
I have to wonder just how open-world this scenario is. Obviously, this is a plot hook that Felix provided as one possible method of getting the casino back, but how many others do you think there are that the crew might have missed? And hands up if you want to play D&D or Shadowrun in the holodeck like right now, because like any good GM, the program lets the players use appropriate character types to recon and seduce anyone they need to. Odo’s known Cheech for like a day and already he has the pull to get Ezri a job. Meanwhile, Vic sets up a high roller.
Kassidy gives Sisko the blow-by-blow, which he’s not about even a little. Now he gives us the reason he has no cares to give about this – Vegas 1962 was not famous for being friendly to black people, and even if Sisko hadn’t been a history buff before, he’s had one or two experiences that would make things personal for him. Kassidy, however, provides an alternate take – you live in the future, scarcity doesn’t exist for anyone who wants that sort of life, and you work side-by-side with people who have transparent skulls. They have a heated, but real, discussion about the place of historical accuracy in retrospective media. And while the crew tries to come up with alternates to be the high roller, it seems Sisko has decided to damn the history books, he’ll be Mr. Big.
What follows is a textbook device – recapping the plan, once it’s been planned out, so that the viewers can see how it’s supposed to go so we’ll know when it all goes wrong. Also I could be wrong but I’m pretty certain the music is a lounge-lizard version of ‘Sunrise, Sunset,’ so that’s pretty great.
Everything in the plan is period-appropriate – even going so far as to use period-appropriate emetics rather than fancy 24th-century pharmas to make the count man pliant. They probably had to buy it from the druggist in the hotel. The only real talents they’re bringing from outside are Nog’s safecracking ears and Odo’s ability to turn into something he can carry money with – both easily-surmountable obstaces. But they have to practice in real life, with a replicated safe.
Despite the silliness, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the fact that the holodeck doesn’t provide changing rooms. Everyone get into position, and Bashir takes some time to order his Bond Martini the right way, not the movie way. Vic has to coach Sisko on how much to bet to be impressive – presumably, he was able to replicate or otherwise supply reasonably large sums of money for the role – do you think there’s an Out that Felix might have programmed in where they can just pay this Zimo guy an economy-breaking amount of worthless 20th-century currency to get him to go away? You know, if they didn’t want to play along.
Right away, the program throws a curveball by knocking over Ezri’s tray of spiked drinks with a patron, but Bashir compensates. However, the guy who was supposed to drink it is out with the Flu. Given that they planned the job in the holodeck, I really hope the program was parsing their plot and coming up with obstacles to overcome, both because that would make it the ultimate GM and because of the implications for the level of AI that lives in holosuites. Good thing Ezri is a psychologist and has the social stats to convince him to poison himself on the fly. Think the program has access to her professional profile as well? Actually, we know it does, because Vic can hack into the security office comms when he wants to.
As time counts down (because Nog’s run into an extra security measure on the safe) the rest of the plan starts accelerating towards disaster. Specifically, Zimo shows up on the night of the heist. As good drama demands – you want the players to get that adrenaline rush and get to experience their victory viscerally, particularly if you can set it up so that your safecracker unlocks the safe with moments to spare. Bashir’s able to squeeze a little extra time out of this too – it’s good to have a floating point man on crisis control.
Our heroes are clearly running low on distractions, but throwing money into the air winds up being just enough. And apart from Miles, whose part of the plan involves getting invasively searched as a distraction, everyone gets to watch Frankie get marched out of the casino and the old decor come back. O’Brien must suffer. But at least Sisko’s gotten into the spirit of things.