Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Dramatis Personae"


Air date: 5/31/1993
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A Klingon ship returns from the Gamma Quadrant, virtually destroyed by an internal mutiny. When the DS9 crew beams aboard the only survivor, they also beam over a "telepathic matrix," which infects the senior staff and causes them to re-enact an alien power struggle.

"Dramatis Personae" does not have an inspired premise—the power play has been done before, and using a convenient sci-fi explanation to warrant erratic behavior is hardly conducive for real drama. However, what works to a degree here are some of the subtle details surrounding the concept, which makes it interesting enough to be reasonably entertaining.

The way Kira's mutiny grows out of the situation set up at the beginning of the episode—her disagreement with Sisko on allowing suspected Cardassian-aiding smugglers to dock at DS9—smoothly integrates the real plot into the contrived one. Also neat is how the different characters take on distinct personalities of circumstance once the mutiny begins to brew. The uncaring Sisko, the sultrily venomous Kira, the anecdote-spewing Dax, the strategizing O'Brien, and the "neutral" Bashir in the middle—all are characters who convey a weird persona that somehow adds a bizarre spin on the show's tone.

Odo's cleverness works decently in the plot, as he plays both sides long enough to resolve the problem. Most of the show's best moments are subtle touches that aren't crucial to the story, but raise the overall level of interest. Sisko's inexplicable clock-building is one welcome bit of strangeness in this 100 percent Joe Menosky concept. Still, the inevitable feeling of pointlessness that ultimately comes out of the forced situation is all but unavoidable.

Previous episode: The Forsaken
Next episode: Duet

Season Index

11 comments on this review

mike - Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - 6:48pm (USA Central)
"Still, the inevitable feeling of pointlessness that ultimately comes out of the forced situation is all but unavoidable". Oh, spare me. Star Trek is mostly characters in "forced situations" and this one in particular -- alien posession -- is standard Trek fare. If your major bitch about it is that it feels pointless, one wonders why you even watch the show. It's like complaining that Kung Fu movies "inevitably" have fight scenes.
Adam - Fri, May 17, 2013 - 11:56pm (USA Central)
"forced situations" is not standard fare for Deep Space Nine, or at least it ended up not being.
grumpy_otter - Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:20pm (USA Central)
Yawn. Once I knew something was infecting their brains--about the time Dax started giggling--I was bored. Because they had no control over their behavior, there was no tension or character development--and no plot tension as well since it was obvious Odo would solve it.

Unlike Jammer, I didn't find their behavior entertaining in the least because I knew it didn't mean anything.

A miss for me.

azcats - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 11:28am (USA Central)
wow, i guess the comments section wasnt opened as early as VOY? only 3 comments...

this was an okay episode. nothing great.
Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 8:49pm (USA Central)
I really like the episode. Odo, Kira and O'Brien make for a fun hour or political intrigue. At least they waited till the end of season on unless TNG to pull this stunt.

3 stars from me.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 2:08pm (USA Central)

Watchable but not very engaging. Another "meh" episode.

Dusty - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 10:49am (USA Central)
This was a blast. It was like an alternate universe, and the different personalities were really entertaining. Sisko is lazy and violent, Dax is scatterbrained and lost in the past, Kira's seductive and evil, and Odo is the only one not affected. I really felt like I was watching different people. I wish the episode summary hadn't spoiled me on the plot. But hey, I looked. xD
GATA4 - Sat, Apr 26, 2014 - 10:43am (USA Central)
Quite a fun episode, IMO, once you swallow the premise of this telepathic matrix acting out ancient history in any people it encounters.

The most interesting part for me though (brought on by binge-viewing DS9 again at the moment) is a throwaway comment by O'Brien right at the beginning, that keiko's taken a bunch of kids on an outing to Bajor. Its surely no coincidence that Winn turns up 2 episodes later ("In the Hands of the Prophets") at Keiko's school to sit in on one of her lessons, which is then denounced as blasphemous, presumably having got wind of Keiko's school through the Bajor outing. This is what sets DS9 above the other Trek series in my books, the way it's plotlines have been intricately laid out right from the start. Contrast this with Voyager, where promising antagonism between the Federation and Marquis crew was dropped pretty quickly by the end of Season 1.
Paul M. - Mon, Jun 23, 2014 - 8:59am (USA Central)
This one is a guilty pleasure for me. I don't care that it's silly and over the top, I like it! Agreed with Dusty above, it's like watching an alternate universe episode.
Quarky - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 8:02pm (USA Central)
Enjoyable episode. The one scene missing is the scene where Kira apologizes to Quark.

I like episodes like this. Back in the 90s I stopped watching because I can't stand stories about Bajor. I can't stand their race or their worshiping of the wormhole aliens. So I always wanted to see more episodes where weird things happened like this and the episode Visionary. Now later on I do like the long story arcs but I wish they would have gotten rid of 90% of the bajoran stories and added ones like this

Yanks - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 1:50pm (USA Central)
It appears that Enterprise learned a lesson from this below average episode.

'Observer Effect" is alien possession done right, this is not.

No drama, Odo was going to save the day. blah, blah...

2 stars because Rene Auberjonois again makes DS9 watchable.

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2014, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer