Distant Voices (**½)
The story credit for this episode goes to Joe Menosky and, no offence to the man, I just don't get why DS9 bought it. Menosky is the master of the high-concept sci-fi plot, which means that his episodes can be very hit and miss, and while he came out with a positive score from my Voyager review thread, his style just doesn't suit DS9. DS9 tried high-concept sci-fi several times in the first two seasons and it rarely ever worked, the show works best when it addresses characters, politics, and moral ambiguities. The writers of DS9 seem to have figured this out and that's where their attention has been drawn lately, so I don't understand why they decided to make an episode about Bashir entering a telepathic coma and walking around his own mind. It feels like this episode would have been more at home on TNG or Voyager. In fact, Voyager's Projections
had a similar premise involving that show's doctor (Shmully) and it pulled it off far more successfully, in my opinion.
I'm clearly not sold on the concept of this episode. This isn't helped by the fact that Behr and Wolfe didn't appear to know quite what to do with it. There's half-ideas scattered around the episode that seem like they should be significant but ultimately are not. For example, the rest of the cast represent elements of Bashir's personality, but does that really mean anything? When the Lethean kills them all off one-by-one, does that have an impact on the "core" Bashir? Not that I can see. It doesn't help that they're killed off randomly, such as Sisko being pulled into a wall, Odo and Kira being killed off-screen, and O'Brien suddenly being a corpse. It felt like an exercise in wasting time so that the 44 minute running time could be filled.
The episode eventually gets to the core of the story about ten minutes from the end, when the Lethean confronts Bashir with all his doubts that have been haunting him for years (allegedly). This part of the story works because it's character-related and that's what DS9's writers are good at. We get to see that this cocky, young, hot-shot doctor has regrets just like everyone else, and he overcomes them by accepting that he's pretty happy with where he is in his life right now. Or something like that. These snippets into Bashir's mind don't quite fit with Bashir's big secret that gets revealed later on, but that's hardly the fault of this episode.
While not a particularly good episode, it was okay. I liked the surreal visuals, such as tennis on the promenade, Odo melting in a corridor, and ops decked out with balloons. Also, the actors get to have some fun by playing distorted versions of their regular roles. And Garak was in this one, that bumps the episode up a point or three.
LETHEAN: Then let's talk about Lieutenant Dax. You like her, don't you?
BASHIR: She's my friend.
LETHEAN: But she could've been a lot more if you'd tried a little harder.
If he had tried any harder he would have ended up in court on a sexual assault charge. Hell, he was probably already on the bad side of a sexual harassment case if Jadzia had chosen to go that way.
GARAK: To think, after all this time, all our lunches together, you still don't trust me. There's hope for you yet, Doctor.
Doesn't Garak use almost this exact line later to Nog? It's a good line so it's understandable, but it sticks out.