My DS9 Rewatch Odyssey

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by ananta, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    You make a good point. Most of the time she’s absolutely fine in this episode, even if she’s still not given a whole lot to do compared to many of the other characters. I’ll have to see if my opinion is any different this time around, but it’s generally not a good season for the character and the only episodes she does get she has to share with Dukat. From what I recall, she definitely loses something this season, but thankfully it’s only temporary. From what I’ve read, specifically comments from Rick Berman back in the day, was that they were consciously softening her character. A natural softening would be part of her overall arc, as she heals from her PTSD, but sadly season four reeked of executive meddling, in response to a subset of misogynistic fans who hated the character.
     
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  2. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    Haha, my thoughts exactly. I couldn’t rate “Warrior” a 10, as it’s not really among my favourite episodes of the series, but it’s still an excellent season premiere. Especially given that, with the behind the scenes mandates, this could have potentially been a “jump the shark” for the series.

    I don’t think I’ll watch “The Visitor” tonight. You have to be in the right frame of mind to wilfully inflict emotional evisceration on yourself...as happens every damn time!
     
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  3. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I know what you mean. When I did my rewatch a couple years ago, I specifically waited a day or two to prepare myself for that ugly cry.
     
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  4. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    There's one moment in the Visitor that is a little incongruous, that's when right before a fade to black (which I was told is normally used to insert a commercial break) Old Jake says that he's dying, and right after he corrects himself and says that he was just trying to attract Melanie's attention. I thought that was anticlimactic and in poor taste. And that's why I wouldn't give this episode the highest marks. Plus I didn't like the general pace of the episode. I thought it lacked excitement. But that's only my opinion of course.
     
  5. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    An episode doesn't need to have excitement to be a great one.

    "The Measure Of A Man", "The Inner Light", "DUET", "THE VISITOR", "CHILDREN OF TIME", "IN THE CARDS", "EYE OF THE NEEDLE", "DEATH WISH", "MELD", "BLINK OF AN EYE", "SHUTTLEPOD ONE", "COGENITOR"... none of those have 'excitement', but all are great episodes.
     
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  6. Sarxus

    Sarxus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    But wouldn't it have messed up all of the upcoming show if the time line wasn't reset? To me it was clear right from the start when I watched this masterpiece of an episode for the first time that the reset button will be used. I also don't think the point they wanted to make with the episode is making the watcher thinking "Jeeesus, Sisko is dead, oh no!" Id say it's rather meant to be a character episode between Benjamin and Jake, and it is in an excellent and powerful way.

    You forgot "Far beyond the Stars", although you could say it has a bit of excitement in it. I subscribe to your point though, those are all very calm and very great episodes. I'd like to add "The Drumhead" from TNG though. It always reminds me a little bit of "The Measure Of A Man" with the plot centered around a trial, but even though "The Measure Of A Man" is somehow THE classic of TNG, I personally find "The Drumhead" even better.
     
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  7. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was a joke (perhaps not a good one)--all the drama that made the episode good was erased when the timeline was reset.
     
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  8. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    “The Visitor” doesn’t impress me as much as it does many viewers….Jake turned into a tragically obsessed figure who sacrifices his marriage, his career, and his life trying to resurrect his father-- the temporal mechanics so contrived. It’s movingly portrayed, and certainly taps into the very real Ben / Jake relationship --just not a favorite episode for me.

    I appreciated this interview with Tony Todd in The 50 Year Mission:

    “The woman who raised me, my aunt, had passed away about three months before I shot that episode, and I was inconsolable. She was my best friend, she helped me become who I am, she gave me so many virtues, we used to watch Star Trek together, and I was depressed. Out of the blue they sent me the script for “The Visitor,” and it was like she had reached down and said, “Turn the page … now, fill the page.” This was my opportunity to not only bounce back in my life, but to try to channel her. If you watch “The Visitor,” there are certain mannerisms in older Jake, the way his hands shook, the way he laughed, the way the shoulders were hunched—all of it was completely borrowed from her.“
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Kira Nerys is the best character in the franchise. That is a hill I ready and willing to die on.
     
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  10. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I got the pleasure to meet Tony Todd at my first DragonCon, in 2006. In fact, one of the first actors I got to meet there. He told me about that, and we were sharing some stories because I had lost my grandmother about 10 months before that... she was my compass in so many ways. I frankly have never been the same since she passed. We chatted for a good 25, 30 minutes or so... one of the nicest, friendly, personable men I've ever met in my life. Huge guy, too... I barely reached his shoulder. But man, his heart matched his stature.

    "THE VISITOR" is something that speaks to so many people, because everyone has lost or will lose someone they love. Honestly, I can see myself being and doing exactly what Jake did. Nana and Pops (my grandparents) were among the best people this planet ever had... far better human beings than I. If I had that ability to bring them back in the same way, I don't think I'd even blink.
     
  11. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nice quote, good find, thanks!

    The temporal mechanics do feel contrived and just don't stand up to multiple viewings. Oddly, the "I'm going to kill myself and all will be well" subplot irks me more, but it is the 24th century and maybe temporal issues are so common... but it does succeed at pulling the emotional drawstrings, especially on the first viewing. Tony Todd deserved multiple awards for his perrmance as Jake (never mind Kurn), he's too underrated an actor. I rewatched it recently, but might do so again solely to see Tony's acting and his channeling. The story's contrivances doesn't hold up but the acting always had. And the basic concepts of mortality still have some merit, despite the contrived treknobabble.
     
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  12. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    Yes, Tony Todd came across as very warm and caring.

    I was surprised that Melanie, Rachel Robinson, is the daughter of Andrew Robinson-- Garak.
     
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  13. Swedish Borg

    Swedish Borg Commodore Captain

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    Well, their greatness is debatable but I agree that there isn't much excitement to find in these.
     
  14. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    The way I always read this was that he saw Melanie’s immediate discomfort and decided to backtrack to avoid an awkward and protracted exchange. I’ve experienced this myself—some people can’t cope when you tell them you’re potentially terminally sick, and you end up having to nurse them! So I found that an honest little touch.

    Interesting that this episode isn’t as universally loved as I expected! To me, it’s my favourite episode of the entire series...,although I do have to be in the right frame of mind to watch it!
     
  15. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    Really didn’t mean to sound negative --guess I tend not to like the “reset button” episodes. It does remind us all, painfully, of mortality, loss - for me, it’s my favorite brother who died way too young.
    As I see it, “The Visitor” is not about losing an aged parent, or a parent dying while still in their prime. It’s not so much about mortality or bereavement, as about being haunted by a loved one who isn’t dead, only stuck in some strange dimension that keeps them reappearing -- no closure is possible - tormenting you with the idea they could be brought back if you just try hard enough. In a way it reminds me of Kirk finding out Spock could still be restored, and risking everything to make that happen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
  16. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "The Visitor" isn't strictly a reset episode though; Ben remembers what happened and it's entirely possible that it informs his future relationship with Jake even if there aren't clear callbacks.
     
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  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always liked Rules of Engagement, but then I find I like a lot of court Trek (Court Martial, Measure of a Man, Drumhead, Deathwish...).
     
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  18. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

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    “THE VISITOR”

    [​IMG]
    I’m not crying—you’re crying! We’re all crying!

    I don’t think it’s possible to overstate just how much I adore this episode. To me, it’s nothing less than a masterpiece. It takes a lot to make me cry these days, much less television, but I always find myself in tears several times throughout the course of this episode. The reason for that is that it transcends Star Trek; it transcends science-fiction and even the medium of television. It’s storytelling at its most raw and human—a profoundly bittersweet tale of love, loss, grief and sacrifice. Interestingly, I’ve shown this episode to a couple of people who didn’t know much about DS9 and had little interest in Star Trek or sci-fi in general, but right from the opening shot they were captivated and enthralled by it. That’s the power of a simple yet inspired story that touches upon some deep and universal themes relatable to every human being.

    I really have to take my hat off to the writers here. Nineties’ episodic television was often as much conveyor belt product as it was art, and that’s largely due to unimaginable time constraints, not to mention budgetary concerns and executive meddling, which already profoundly shifted the direction of the series. That the show’s creative team were able to produce as many good episodes as they did is a wonder, but that they could create episodes as truly exceptional as “The Visitor” is nothing short of miraculous.

    The premise initially recalls “The Tholian Web” in TOS, but the fact it focuses on arguably the show’s strongest and most genuine and affecting relationship—Sisko and Jake—immediately lends it a far greater emotional resonance. The framing of the story, which is actually set in the distant future and related by flashback, is something of a gamble. It runs of the risk of alienating the audience from the get-go (“Who is this old geezer? And why’s he letting a trespasser into his home—is he crazy?”) but it absolutely works, in large part to the phenomenal acting throughout—particularly Tony Todd as the elderly Jake. It’s an attention grabbing opening and one of the most utterly intriguing hooks I’ve ever seen on the show.

    Some of the more cynical audience members might complain that we know Sisko won’t stay dead, and I might normally be one of them. The episode, however, is just so beautifully executed that it grabbed me by the throat and left me a blubbering wreck; and does so every damn time I watch it, even now, twenty five years later! I think part of the power is the authenticity of the Ben/Jake relationship. Rarely have I seen two actors convey such a bond and sense of genuine love for each other; something I know was actually real given Brooks and Lofton’s close relationship in real life. It’s genuinely gut-wrenching to see Sisko apparently die before Jake’s eyes and, although his part in the episode is actually quite limited, Cirroc Lofton gives the performance of a lifetime. His pain feels so real that it’s impossible not to empathise with him. Lofton conveys so much emotion in very little dialogue; a sense of being empty and lost and, when Sisko apparently returns, we feel his joy, hope and unspeakable anguish when his father is ripped away from him again. Beat for beat, the emotion feels genuine throughout and it’s totally earned as well. It feels as though we see Ben die in front of Jake’s eyes over and over again and it’s simply crushing.

    I used to think the episode was a story about grief, but it’s actually about what happens when grief is stunted. If the person you loved most in the world wasn’t killed but was alive and helplessly stranded somewhere, would you really be able to just forget about them and move on with your life? Everyone is different, I suppose. Ultimately, this being Star Trek, we know that Jake will find a way to rescue his father, but the price this exacts is a brutal one. We see Jake gradually age and, following a watershed moment when Sisko appears before Jake and his new wife, he becomes obsessed with saving his father and this obsession (a trait no doubt inherited from Ben, who displays such a streak on more than one occasion) takes over and destroys his life.

    One of the most painful moments in the episode is when Ben realises what has happened to his son: that, because of him, he’s sacrificed his wife, career and happiness, and become a traumatised shell of a man. My god, I want to cry just thinking about it. I often see people criticise Avery Brooks and claim he’s a bad actor, and I start to wonder if there’s a different DS9 starring a different Avery Brooks that I don’t know about. Brooks is phenomenal here; the pain in his eyes and the desperation in his voice as he begs his son to make a better life for himself before it’s too late is among the best acting I’ve ever seen on Trek. It’s truly heart-breaking.

    Brooks just shines throughout; perfectly conveying a wide range of emotions as he sees his son’s life flash before his eyes and, ultimately, come to an end. Some people consider the ending a cheat or a “reset”, but I don’t. Of course, it does reset the timeline, as it was always going to, but it was damn well earned, with Jake sacrificing himself and dying in his father’s arms. If no one had any memory of this at all (an issue I’ve had with other alternate timeline episodes in Trek) that would have been an issue for me. But Sisko most certainly does remember. Again, full credit to Brooks, who managed to convey an absolute world of emotion, his voice breaking as he simply utters the words “I am now, Jake...I am now...” The series would subtly call back to this episode again, if indirectly, and I’m certain it gave Ben a whole new appreciation and support for his son’s recent decision to become a writer.

    The real star of the show is unquestionably Tony Todd. He is superb throughout and he immediately captured my heart from the opening scene, delivering a remarkably tender, vulnerable and open-hearted performance. That he wasn’t at least nominated for an award proves there’s no justice in the world. Fortunately, and all importantly, Todd has a superb chemistry with Brooks in their short but pivotal scenes together, and that helps sell the fact Todd is simply playing an older version of Lofton’s character. Meanwhile, Mister Garak’s real life daughter, Rachel Robinson, is well cast in the role of Melanie, and she’s both charming and empathetic. In fact, the cast are all marvellous—with special mention to Nana Visitor for a short but beautifully played scene with young Jake in the airlock, and Terry Farrell and Alexander Siddig who provide a little light relief as the curmudgeonly future selves of Dax and Bashir. Despite his best efforts, I wasn’t quite as convinced by Aron Eisenberg and think it may have been better to recast older Nog as they had Jake.

    Alas, the episode does feature a fair bit of technobabble, although no more so than the average episode of Voyager or latter day TNG. Fortunately, it’s there to serve the story rather than being intrinsic to the story, and it’s fairly intuitive to grasp (I liked the analogy of Sisko and Jake being attached across time and space by a cord). I’m normally quite adverse to technobabble overload, but it serves a purpose so I can let it slide.

    Extra plus points for David Livingston’s excellent directing, some truly lovely set design and, finally, but by no means last, Dennis McCarthy, who provides one of the all-time best scores to any Star Trek episode. I can only assume that Rick Berman was on holiday that week, because McCarthy goes against Berman’s ban on melodic music, and composes an utterly beautiful and heart-stirring score which I have no doubt elevates the episode significantly. It’s no coincidence that in the ‘best of Trek music’ compilation released a few years ago, a significant portion of the track-listing came from this one episode.

    I’ve said enough. This is simply my favourite episode of DS9 and one that really touched my heart in a way no other quite did. More than it, it’s one of my favourite hours of television full stop—a tour de force of stellar writing, heartbreakingly superb acting, and wonderful music and directing. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this. Rating: 10+
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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  19. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was very happy that I got to show this episode to my parents last year, I think. They're not really Trek fans, though they're not vehemently opposed to it, so I'd been waiting for the right moment to do so for a long time (I only see them a handful of times each year due to distance).

    I wish I could recall how hard it hit me when I realized exactly what Jake was doing to bring his father back. It is foreshadowed early on, but easy to forget the first time through.

    As you mentioned, I also appreciate that this episode isn't strictly a reset-button episode, though it admittedly comes close.
     
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  20. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    A beautiful, moving review.
    Even Quark showed he had a heart here, letting Nog have time off to comfort Jake.
    I read that after this episode, Rachel Robinson was considered for the part of Ezri.
    It puzzles me when I see threads on this board about Brooks not being a good actor. I do think he enunciates every syllable clearly, which is occasionally a bit distracting, but it’s part of what makes him unique and distinguished-- kind of like Shatner having his own eccentric style of speaking… it becomes an endearing characteristic.
     
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