Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Forsaken"

**1/2

Air date: 5/22/1993
Teleplay by Don Carlos Dunaway and Michael Piller
Story by Jim Trombetta
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Forsaken," much like "The Storyteller" and "The Passenger," highlights how DS9 can deliver with character insight and development almost every time, even when the plotline fails to be remotely compelling. In this case, a computerized "entity" invades the computer system and causes problems throughout the station. Included in these problems is Odo and Lwaxana Troi being stuck in a turbolift—an unlikely character combination that provides a surprising amount of well-realized characterization.

Lwaxana's lusting after the understandably frightened Odo is initially annoying, but it slowly mellows into reasonable dialog that's unexpectedly affecting. The episode opens the door to some of Odo's mysterious backstory, and shows the constable in a moment of weakened personal pride. Lwaxana's reaction to the situation is nicely handled.

Also entertaining is the always-reliable Meaney as an O'Brien frustrated with a hopeless computer system, as well the notion of Sisko passing off the duty of entertaining visiting ambassadors to an unfortunate Doctor Bashir. What doesn't work here is the completely routine computer-induced mania and its predictable wrap-up, and the unnecessary imperilment of Bashir and the ambassadors in the lackluster finale. The characters work, but the story lacks originality.

Previous episode: If Wishes Were Horses
Next episode: Dramatis Personae

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13 comments on this review

Cail Corishev - Wed, Sep 12, 2012 - 9:16pm (USA Central)
Lwaxana is really charming here, and compared to some of her later appearances, almost understated. Her scenes with Odo in the elevator are excellent.

Good thing, too, because the rest is completely forgettable. I wince every time I hear someone talk about "uploading" data as if it destroys the old copy (Voyager was very bad about this with the doctor). No, uploading the data back to the probe wasn't going to make the virus go along, and even in 1993 we should have known better.
Chris - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
Yes, there's a lot of talk about the physics of Star Trek (even a book). But the worst kind of science in Star Trek is computer science.
Van_Patten - Wed, May 15, 2013 - 4:16pm (USA Central)
The First appearance of Lwaxana Troi on Deep Space 9 - hardly one of fandom's most well-recalled characters, although I have to confess whilst she had her fair share of total clunkers:(Anyone want to watch 'Manhunt' or 'Cost of Living' - thought not!) - she could be at least tolerable, 'Haven' or 'Half a Life' whilst not series high points were at least watchable. This, whilst not a must -see episode actually holds up quite well.

The basic plot is two fold - a computer anomaly invades the station and various mechanical and computer problems ensue. Leaving aside the weakness of the technical issues, this really does betray a lack of imagination on the part of the writer - I appreciate the Static setting makes the kind of adventures TNG had difficult to replicate (And part of the brief was to make this a different show from its forebear) but it really didn't work, and comes across as more than a little tedious.

The secondary plot involves the visit to the station of four Alien ambassadors, amongst whom is Lwaxana Troi - these are assigned to Bashir by Sisko who then delights in the Doctor's obvious discomfiture. As mentioned by Jammer, unarguably the highlights are the scenes involving Barrett and Auberjonois which really work, giving us a good insight into Lwaxana's character. It almost seems superfluous to praise Rene Auberjonois but his performance is consistently amongst the highlights of the First Season. The opening scene:

'When did you join Starfleet?'
'Dopterians are distant cousins of the Ferengi. Since you couldn't read Quark, it made sense you couldn't read this charming fellow either'

are dialogue highlights from what is an otherwise inoffensive but largely forgettable episode. Agree with the 2.5 star rating. Some good character points but ultimately not one to linger in the memory.
grumpy_otter - Thu, May 30, 2013 - 7:43pm (USA Central)
Odod continues to impress, but it is hard for me to watch Lwaxana episodes anymore--it just makes me miss Majel. This episode is a perfect example of how her character, when properly handled, was one of the most wonderful to ever come out of TNG.

I think if more people were like Lwaxana, as Majel portrayed her, the world would be a better place. It would have more joy, more fun, more vivacity, and more sex.

What could be wrong with that?
T'Paul - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 6:05pm (USA Central)
Yes, this is perhaps one of the most sympathetic portrayals of Lwaxana, the person behind the bubbliness, and perhaps an insight as to why she is the way she is... it's a shame her romance with Odo didn't grow, I think they make a lovely couple, much more so than Odo's later love interest (whom I won't name for those who don't know!)

And it is a shame she's no longer with us...
ZurielSeven - Fri, Aug 2, 2013 - 2:52pm (USA Central)
This episode marks one of the few times we get to see a Vulcan really put his foot in his mouth. :-)
azcats - Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - 3:40pm (USA Central)
best lwaxana show there is. she is usually so annoying.

speaking of computer science..

someone should tell her she sounds like a "computer...."
Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 8:46pm (USA Central)
I always liked Lwaxana on TNG, never got all the dislike from some fans. This episode works in the parts with her and Odo. Most of the other stuff is just filler.

2 Stars
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 2:06pm (USA Central)

Considering the appearance of Lwaxana, it could have been a lot worse. A "meh" episode overall. Watchable but not good.

4/10
Paul - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 10:40am (USA Central)
I think this is a good example of why some ST fans never warmed up to DS9. The first season was really uneven and episodes like this were just dull and bad.

The worst part of this episode is the overacting/overwriting in the Bashir subplot. Until the very end, Bashir just looks like an idiot and the ambassadors look like assholes. Also, I don't really buy Sisko completely ignoring the ambassadors. The way the episode plays, it's as if they visited the station with no set agenda (even before the emergency).

The O'Brien stuff is also fairly boring as far as O'Brien stuff goes. I guess the "pup" is an interesting sci-fi concept, but watching O'Brien and Dax jockey for ways to fix the problem in this episode is really dull.

The Odo/Lwaxana stuff is actually the best part of the episode, though Odo's discomfort is over the top initially. Lwaxana never bothered me the way she bothered some fans. She can be funny in the right situations and interesting in others.

This is clearly an example of DS9 still getting it's footing, something I don't think it really did until "The Maquis" in the second season.
Yanks - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 1:44pm (USA Central)
This is one of those stupid episodes that I really like.

Forget the whole computer thing; forget Bashir and Sisko overacting, etc, blah-blah…

The whole episode is watchable for me because of the Lwaxana/Odo moments. So well done. The light comedy before the elevator failure was fantastic. The two play great off each other so well and their moments were genuinely touching heartfelt. Odo is understanding and comforts her when she states she needs to talk and she undresses herself when Odo is falling apart. I almost cried when she took off her wig.

LWAXANA: It looks ordinary. I've never cared to be ordinary. So you see, Odo, even us non-shape-shifters have to change who we are once in a while.
ODO: You are not at all what I expected.
LWAXANA: No one's ever paid me a greater compliment.

Both reveal themselves to each other.

At this point in the series I’m wonder just how good of an actor is Rene Auberjonois? It seems that whomever he is paired up with during a scene is fantastic.

3.0 stars for me.
Elliott - Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - 2:40pm (USA Central)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

One little nit—why are ambassadors needed for a “fact-finding mission to the wormhole”? Aren't ambassadors charged with dealing with people, not “facts.” Sisko sticks Bashir with the task of carting them around. One of the four is Lwaxana Troi, who is sporting a hot pink hairdo that would make the local drag queens jealous. She ends up being robbed of a brooch and acknowledges that “Ménage à Troi” happened (ick) and that she knows where it hurts on Ferengis (double ick). Odo intervenes and manages to track down the thief using racism. Troi, in typical fashion, takes a shining to Odo.

Act 1 : **, 17%

So we get a cute little scene with O'Brien losing his patience (understandably) with the Cardassian computer. One bit I really liked was the use of the idiom “root canal.” Sisko is unfamiliar with the term (because the dental procedure is obsolete), but the idiom survives in an unrelated field, engineering. Miles doesn't know where it came from, but still uses it. It's an imaginative idea, instead of the usual replace-current-object-with-space-object approach to these matters (“quiet as a Maldorvian field-mouse”). O'Brien intends on totally refitting the system and receives Sisko's blessing. His good deed is rewarded by Bashir and the ambassadors cornering him and complaining about, well, basically everything (including the Wormhole special effect).

A probe emerges from said effect. We get another slap to the Vulcans—why would a logical being 1) presume to interfere in Station operations and 2) not recognise a Trill when he sees one. He's a freaking ambassador! They tow the probe in and Sisko sends the ambassadors away.

Lwaxana tracks Odo down in his office and starts hitting on him. It's the usual superficial kind of nonsense we often get with Trek flirtation scenes. I seriously wonder sometimes if any of the writers have had to flirt, or date or have sex. Or maybe it's the result of trying to portray adult relationships in a “family-friendly” way. Either way, it's usually bland, uncomfortable and incredibly sexist (it's almost always the woman who throws herself at the man).

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

O'Brien is pleasantly surprised that the computer seems to be cooperating for once. It's nice to see him smile.

Odo approaches Sisko for help in fending off Lwaxana (“have you tried punching her in the face?”). Back-tracking on the imaginativeness from Act I, we get a “Winoni Trace Hound” simile. Sigh.

The episode is fluffy enough that I can take some time for another tangent. Why is it the writers always have to justify romance with procreation? I mean come on, do you really think Kirk was looking to make half-green babies? I often get this very fundamentalist vibe when they tackle sexuality in this era; if it's not holosuite debauchery (which our noble characters would never partake in), then it's all just about having babies, reciting poetry and other clichés. Can't a noble character just want to get laid? No one ever hooks up on Trek anymore. It's all, cut-and-paste flirting leads to dating leads to marriage leads to babies leads to death.

Anyway, Sisko proves to be unhelpful while Miles continues to see startlingly efficient results from his computers. The probe proves to be *mysterious*.

Lwaxana returns, sporting a third hair style and continues to berate the poor Constable with her babbling (I actually think she was less irritating back on TNG; her lines feel a little bit too much like someone trying to be annoying rather than simply being oblivious to their her own eccentricity). I do like the “I can swim” in Odo's goo bit, however.

Odo and Lwaxana become trapped in the turbolift due to computer malfunction...with sexy results...

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

I do appreciate that the writers were trying to avoid making Odo look stupid by thinking up all the ways they might escape—the turbolift is down, as are the transporters, and the conduit is charged so he can't shape-shift his way out. It wouldn't really be necessary if the story were more absorbing, and frankly, feels more like a deliberate attempt to circumvent nerd rage than organic storytelling. Just an observation. There's a lot of time for that in this piece.

Lwaxana continues to try and flirt with Odo for a bit. Then we get this very sudden shift in tone, when she proclaims, “I don't think I can [sit quietly].” She tells him that she *needs* to talk. These kinds of people—the kind who never shut up—are unfortunately often very damaged. Chattering is a coping mechanism for dealing with loneliness, or stress, or depression. Lwaxana has always been portrayed has living a rather empty existence. She channels most of her energy into externalities—Deanna, her titles, her riches, her dalliances—but what is she actually about? What are her interests, her goals?

So remember that little joke about Sisko suggesting hitting an ambassador in the face? Turns out that is actually something he's done before. DS9, you can always be counted upon to bring parody to life! Thanks for that.

So, are all the turbolifts down? Is everyone just stuck? O'Brien still can't figure out why the computer isn't functioning, but he thinks the computer has been altered by the probe—it's being too cooperative, too helpful, “like a child” as Sisko puts it. Hmmm

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

I like that there isn't a lot of time spent speculating on “what could this obvious thing be?” They basically come up with a theory, settle on it and move on. Kira hones Sisko's simile from “child” to “puppy” (do Bajorans have dogs?). O'Brien devises a solution, and he's going to need a very big thumb drive.

Meanwhile, Bashir is still saddled with the remaining ambassadors, on the verge of pulling a Sisko.

Poor Odo is on the verge of reverting to his goo-form, while Lwaxana continues to prod. Say what you will about her—she's definitely irritating, but she doesn't just talk about herself. She takes a genuine interest in Odo's past and his life. One gets the feeling that Odo wouldn't ever open up like this if he weren't basically prised open by such a forceful personality as hers. He reveals a few bits about his past—shifting for the pleasure of others, submitting to Dr Mora's (not yet named) experiments. It's a lovely little scene.

The staff pulls a Kirk-outsmarts-the-computer trick by asking for several complicated operations, and the result is...a fireball nearly kills Bashir and the ambassadors. Wow, and you thought Starfleet tech was badly designed.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

“We're going to need a bipolar torch to get through it.” But, Kira, you're already right here! I crack me up.

Here's where the writing really hits a wall. So, we set up this simile about the computer virus being like a stray puppy. Fine, the simile helps create a allegorical framework for understanding it in more familiar terms. But it does NOT license imbuing the lifeform with all the corollary qualities of its simile! Pups don't like to be left alone, so this virus must be the same! Does it also like to pee on the plants? Why not rub its belly? Yeesh.

Odo is on the verge of reverting, and he expresses embarrassment in letting Lwaxana (or anyone) see him in that state. Lwaxana is beautifully sympathetic here, offering her hair piece, admitting that she has “never cared to be ordinary.” Odo lets go and allows her to take of him in his liquid state. It's a tear-jerker.

O'Brien manages to house his pup and allow the rescue team to reach Bashir and the ambassadors, who end up being singularly impressed by the young doctor's heroism (I actually thought Bashir was going to end up punching one of them).

Lwaxana leaves on a high note and O'Brien decides to keep the “pup” around. Not a terrible ending.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

I'm feeling a bit generous with this one. The plot about the “pup” is borderline stupid, but it's handled in a mostly subdued way, which really helps, and we're spared any histrionics. The Bashir stuff is rather pointless, but I guess since they booked the guest stars they had to do something with them. The Lwaxana-Odo stuff is, I'd say second shelf, but there are some great performances from Barret and Auberjonois (as usual), as well as making smart use of both their backstories. It would have been nice if they had been able to write a full-fledged character piece, locking Odo and Lwaxana in the turbolift for several acts with some more developed conversation and insight.

Final Score : ***
Elliott - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 4:52pm (USA Central)
Did the math wrong on this.

Final Score should be **.5

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