Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S01E18 – Dramatis Personae

In the eighteenth episode of the first season of Deep Space Nine, WHAT THE FUCK. Intrigued? Then it’s time to watch Star Trek.

What the hell was that, y’all??? You know, there was certainly an entertainment value to this episode, and I can’t deny that there was some fun in yelling at my television because I couldn’t figure out what was going on. In the first  half of this episode, I questioned whether anything was wrong or I was just imagining the odd tone and behavior in the crew. Seriously, I kept worrying that the telenovela style dialogue was just my perception, but thankfully, I wasn’t imagining it at all.

Yet what value does the increasingly bizarre and hostile behavior hold for these characters? I had hoped that Deep Space Nine would use their unique position within the Star Trek canon to avoid the kind of trope-filled, pointless stories that were a constant part of The Original Series and The Next Generation. But “Dramatis Personae” not only is perfectly resolved without a single consequence by the final scene, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. My problem here isn’t with the whole telepathic infection thing. It’s a decent device to tell a story. My issue is that the story told lacks any emotional weight or historical context. It’s not until nearly half an hour into this episode that we learn of the existence of the energy spheres and the imprints. What had we learned of this ancient conflict prior to this?

Well, we could guess from the actions of the DS9 crew that there were two sides to this conflict, though prior to learning why, this conflict is totally nonsensical. Of course, it’s supposed to be. We’re meant to feel like the actions of this crew are jarring and irregular. But who are they supposed to represent? What was this ancient power struggle that was so powerful it imprinted on energy spheres? There’s no detail provided to us whatsoever. Even worse? Dax’s characterization here is so weird, and IT’S NEVER EXPLAINED. What role was her psychic imprint in the original conflict? Was there just some dude who was so lazy and uninterested in war that all they did was spend their time reminiscing about the past? If so, WHY AREN’T YOU COMMUNICATING THAT TO US?

What of Sisko’s character? Was the leader of one of these groups just obsessed with clocks? Was one of them consumed by their own paranoia? Why aren’t we given any of this information at all? Instead, random archetypes are slapped on characters with no rhyme or reason, we’re thrown into this chaos, and the eventual explanation for it all barely covers what we’ve seen. I don’t understand it at all! HOW WERE THEY NOT ALL SUCKED OUT INTO SPACE WHEN THE CARGO BAY DOORS WERE OPENED??? Why did the telepathic imprint suddenly come from a gas?

I don’t get this episode. This is just bad writing, y’all.

The video for “Dramatis Personae” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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