Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Passenger"


Air date: 2/22/1993
Teleplay Morgan Gendel and Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Michael Piller
Story by Morgan Gendel
Directed by Paul Lynch

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In a fairly routine plot-based mystery, Bashir's attempts to resuscitate the critically injured criminal Vantika fail, and the man dies. Kajada (Caitlin Brown), the security officer escorting the convicted killer to prison, however, is convinced that Vantika's consciousness still exists and may be plotting to hijack a supply of diridium en route to the station.

"The Passenger" provides a workable plot, with few unexpected twists, so the whole thing pretty much rides on the execution. In a word, this execution is "okay." Not much jumps out here, neither favorably nor unfavorably. The script's setup of the "possession" idea is reasonably done, though straining the bounds of typical, established plausibility. The show throws up a decent smokescreen as it hints that Vantika may have transferred his consciousness into Kajada's brain; but it really turns out to be Bashir, who walks around for the first four acts without knowing he's the villain. Once Vantika takes over Bashir, however, the story doesn't deliver the stellar last act it could've. Siddig El Fadil's performance as Vantika is a bit off-kilter, with bizarre line delivery (that is reported to have been over-dubbed in post-production).

The technobabble-heavy solution to overpowering Vantika's personality is unconvincing and dramatically unsatisfying. But most interesting in the show (and in tune with the series' nature of interpersonal conflict) is Odo's friction with Starfleet security officer Primmin (James Lashly), which shows that change never comes easy. One of the best scenes is one between Odo and Sisko, that highlights the commander's calm ability to diffuse tough situations with diplomacy.

Previous episode: Dax
Next episode: Move Along Home

Season Index

22 comments on this review

William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 11:18pm (USA Central)
I watched this a few days ago, and I've already forgotten about it. DS9 had a lot of episodes in its first two seasons like this -- entertaining enough for the hour, but then, there's nothing there afterward to latch the mind onto.

So many first-season episodes of Next Generation were spectacularly bad that they are memorable. This is just another DS9, no consequence mystery. Mysteries weren't their forte.
LastDawnOfMan - Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 4:47pm (USA Central)
Love how the antispam asks the last name of the captain on DS9, Sisko wasn't a captain until very late in the series, I understand. Anyway...

Just wanted to complain that a glaring weakness in this episode, and the whole series, is that Quark is constantly doing extremely illegal things and barely getting a slap on the wrist for it. It really renders a lot of the stories implausible and cheap and makes the series seem cartoon-like. I don't get why they couldn't have worked any of that out better.
Van_Patten - Tue, Sep 4, 2012 - 3:47pm (USA Central)
The Passenger is one of those episodes that is often overlooked in summaries of DS9, a middling 'standalone piece' which does little to advance our understanding of DS9 and in terms of character development is weak.

The basic plot is a routine mystery - Bashir is unable to save an Alien criminal from dying and the accompanying Security officer who has had a lifelong obsession with the criminal thinks he has evaded capture by 'transferring his consciousness' to someone else.

The aspects of this show that worked were for me, the 'B Story' involving Starfleet bringing in a new security office (James Lashly) to work alongside Odo. Once more the interaction between Auberjonois and Brooks is exceptional - I had forgotten how good the Odo character is, and this episode reinforces him as the strongest link in the cast.

Caitlin Brown as Kajada is reasonable but the denouement of events is obvious by the second act and the penultimate scene features an extraordinary ( in the sense of surreal) performance from Alexander Siddig as Vantika, which destroys the 'jeopardy' premise. Whilst the episode isn't bad, it's no better than mediocre overall. 2.5 stars from me.
kavatar - Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - 9:54am (USA Central)
As mentioned above Odo's storyline was the highlight of a so-so episode, but for me Siddig El Fadil's terrible acting just makes it unbearable to watch!!
grumpy_otter - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
Are all the DS 9 shuttles named after rivers?

I really liked Primmin. When he first showed up, I thought he was going to be the idiot who tried to prevent the "genius" from his work, so I am glad they let him be a smart guy who wasn't one-dimensional.

Not a terribly exciting episode, but Security Bounty Hunter chick was awesome. That's the only problem with shows like this--sometimes the guests are more fun than the regulars.
Eric - Wed, May 15, 2013 - 3:35pm (USA Central)
In this episode, did they even bother to hire science fact-checkers? They repeat that old "we only use a small portion of our brains" myth.
T'Paul - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 10:56am (USA Central)
Is it just me or is Bashir's evil disembodied voice here somewhat like Voldemort from Harry Potter?

Enjoyed the tension between Odo and Starfleet security guy... I wish this story had been explored a lot more throughout the series.
azcats - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 2:28pm (USA Central)
@LastDawnOfMan. um..unless things have changed...it says captain of ST:TNG. hmm..picard, not sisko

i dont like the staggard speech of the Doctor....with the alien in Bashirs body.

i didnt like..how they "just thought about how to separate them..." didnt even think about it...

something about having JUST my head being in the transporter would seem scary!

Jadzia..seems to sweet..i miss her sarcasm from Becker.

The best part of the episode was the conflict with Starfleet and Odo along with their interatctions with Sisko. 90% of the time the unknown security officer either dies or becomes the bad guy. great interaction. and i did like that he got to be a smart guy and not just a stubborn fool.

i loved the last scene...about time they executed a bad guy. i love that Jadzia had a smile on her face...SOOOO NOT STarfleet.

fun episode. 3 stars.
Peace of Landru - Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
I've been re-watching a lot of Star Trek on Netflix, and just watched this one again recently. It seems like anyone who's seen 'The Search for Spock' would have a pretty strong clue that Vantika transferred his consciousness to Bashir. The big reveal that it's Bashir then as Vantika is pretty ho-hum.

The technobabble problem and solution strains credulity. Most of the time, techobabble truly doesnt bother me. It's just a plot device and Star Trek is not hard science. But, they can't phaser the runabout because there's a chance the material dispersal would necessitate an evacuation. But...this is in space? Huh?

This episode does no favors to Bashir. I almost forgot going back to the season 1 episodes of DS9 what a lousy character he starts off as. He starts off as a condescending ass and ends up chewing the scenery as a possessed evil alien.

Still, Primmin and Kajada are excellent guest stars. The scenes with Sisko and Prmmin and then Sisko and Odo are excellent.
Snitch - Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - 7:55pm (USA Central)
Pretty standard body snatcher fare. Good guest stars but van Batten nailed the problems and highlights of this episodes. B-Plot was more interesting. 2 stars.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:47pm (USA Central)

Another forgettable season 1 episode. Not bad, not good.

tec - Fri, Oct 25, 2013 - 12:31am (USA Central)
With ho hum acting this is my lest favorite ep of DS9

And some good missed opprtrunaties like what mesure of a man even if he is just a micro genaratior did Kajada have a right to termenate him?

How about the crew of the dirituim? Killed whould that wight on you that they died by your on hand?

And Quark is an accorory to murder.

Zero stars from me the only DS9 ep that I rate this low
Dusty - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 3:13am (USA Central)
Pretty generous rating for this one. I'd give it 1 & 1/2 stars. Poor acting (especially with Bashir!), uninteresting body-snatching plot; Vantika-as-Bashir was not an impressive adversary. Only the Odo/Primmin subplot made it worth a watch.
Paul M. - Mon, Jun 23, 2014 - 8:54am (USA Central)
Yeah, what's with Siddig's acting here? The guy's an excellent actor as evidenced by a bunch of different projects he's worked on, but Prophets help me, he was terrible here.
Jammer - Mon, Jun 23, 2014 - 12:39pm (USA Central)
If memory serves, a producer told a magazine that Siddig chose to use a voice as the character that they realized during post-production didn't work, so they ended up having him re-dub all his lines in a different voice. That might explain the strangeness of the performance.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 11:30am (USA Central)
I'm in line with Jammer on this one.

I'll only give 2 stars because Alexander's performance once he knows he's the bad guy is just that bad.
Elliott - Wed, Aug 6, 2014 - 2:42pm (USA Central)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

The Bashir masturbating scene is pretty damned funny and Kira's wordless exasperation with him definitely hits home--my only gripe is, how old is Bashir supposed to be? Mid 20s right? I'm sorry but this degree of self-unawareness befits a teenager, not someone of his age and position. He's obviously a prodigy and that tends to inflate one's ego, but I don't remember Wesley Crusher being so clueless about social interactions (and that's saying something, isn't it?). So obviously, Bashir's arc in this story will be about confronting his motivations; does he act out of a need to heal or the demands of his ego, or some combination of the two? I'll keep my ears open for that.

The two of them respond to a distress call and Bashir is unable to save the prisoner, who gives him a friendly little trachea squeeze before passing on. Not a whole lot to look forward to, but the character stuff in the beginning was okay.

Act 1 : **, 17%

Apparently, the prisoner has some sort of life-sign masking abilities which have allowed him to fake his own death (maybe like the blue guy from "Suspicions"). We're told he was responsible for "horrors"--about which we hear basically nothing. Well, thanks to this little scene we now know that the guy isn't really dead, but faked it somehow. I'm sure that this will be revealed soon so the story can start saying whatever it is it intends to say.

I'm awarding an extra half star to this act for the following bit :

QUARK to DAX : "Iced Ra'qutajino, extra cream" [wink] "just like you like it." I'm a sucker for snuck-in innuendo.

Despite his purposefully gross delivery, Quark shows us subtly how he differs from the typical Ferengi. Yes, he greedily desires Jadzia for her body (one wonders why Ferengi would be so attracted to species which do not resemble their own), but he also speaks about companionship and familiarity--partnership in other words (to taunt Odo) which is at odds with the Ferengi sex code as we have seen it.

Odo, for his part, tips Quark off to an apparent security operation, much to the ire of Lieutenant Yellow Shirt (his real name is Primmin). The conflict between them is a precursor to the Eddington/Odo and Worf/Odo conflicts from later in the series.

Back to the A plot, the senior staff discuss the Kobliad ("a dying race") and their desperate need for deridium, which explains the dead Kobliad's criminal intent. It's all pretty reasonable until this line,

DAX : "Vantika has been the focus of Kjada's attention for most of her adult life. in a way, they were as intimately connected as any two beings could be." First, let me credit the director here who had El Fadil nod in such a way as to give us a clue about Vantika's whereabouts. But.....how in the hell does Dax draw a conclusion like that? Is she a therapist? Has she known Kjada for more than a few hours? This is such clunky, distracting exposition it's damned near infuriating. Can't think of way to *show* us that Vantika and Kjada are "intimately connected"? A little dialogue maybe? Nah, can't be bothered, let's just have some random character TELL us that were so we have to accept it. How freaking lame.

So Primmin is set up to be an Odo foil (again, à la Eddington or Worf). Primmin notes that Odo casually discussing a sensitive security matter in plain view and earshot of any number of potential criminals seems to cast doubt on his abilities as a security officer. And, well, he has a point, hasn't he? Sure, we know that Quark and Odo are "good guys," but that seems awfully risky for someone who likes things neat and tidy. Sisko's response is that it's "hard to keep a secret in a place like this." Okay, granted, but I'm sure it doesn't help to have the chief of security loudly gabbing about it in the bar. Not to mention, if "every knew about it," as Sisko claimed, why did Odo need to tip off Quark, who would surely know about it before anyone else? While this stuff is not nearly as aggravating as some of the other contrived conflicts on this show, it is another example of same. We want to be "controversial" so we're pitting the Starfleet by-the-books security officer against the seasoned frontiersman Odo. It's approaching cliché levels and we're not half way through the first season, folks.

So Primmin and Odo make up just in time for Kjada to make a dramatic entrance as it's "discovered" that Vantika isn't really dead, but alive and purging computer memory! Bwahahaha!

Act 2 : *.5, 17%

Okay, I don't understand why these people are arguing with Kjada about Vantika's apparent demise. If they think she's crazy, that's fine. She thinks she's right. Okay. Does it make a difference whether it's he or an accomplice of his crapping on station security? Why this conflict? Oh, I forgot that rule : YELLING = DRAMA! Moving on...I have to deduct that half a star back for the ridiculous blocking in this meeting scene. [Put your hands behind your back and play duck-duck-goose with those still seated]. Yuck.

Odo threatens to resign on the grounds that Sisko is an asshole. Hard to argue that point, but Sisko promises to let Odo be "in charge" during joint Starfleet-station operations (again, does Odo work for Starfleet or Bajor?), so he decides to stay.

Dax discovers a "clue" as to Ventika's whereabouts in the form a chip which contains a "map to the *humanoid* brain." Couple things ;

1) humanoids have rather different brains don't they? Betazoids, Vulcans, Romulans, humans--all have different brain "maps" don't they? What exactly can this map be?

2) while it's certainly convenient to the plot that Dax should find this clue, it makes no sense that she would consider a small data chip found in a cargo hold to be significant at this point. Vantika's abilities have not yet been discovered.

Speaking of, a cloaked man finds Quark after hours and tells him to make "preparations." El Fadil tries his best to disguise his voice (whispering, chewing his 'r's to sound less British), but you can still tell it's Bashir.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Kjada plants a little red herring as she "has trouble sleeping" and thus was unreachable by comm during the previous night's little scene. There's some nice little continuity in these scenes --Bashir remarks that Vantika is not a clone (harkening back to the switch from "A Man Alone") as well as mentioning synaptic displacement (à la "Wrath of Kahn"/"Search for Spock").

This is backed up by the suggestion that Vantika has hidden his consciousness in Kjada's body. Of course, the mechanism for this transferral has not been discussed and, if one recalls the teaser, there was no contact between the two prior to his death.

The act closes with an odd little scene that sees Quark collecting on some debts while Kjada snoops him out, and then "falls" awkwardly from the upper level. This would be the right time to point out that, again, there is so little tension built into these scenes--the acting is bland, the music is barely there, the editing is lazy. When there's not an interesting story to back it (like in "Dax"), it just about falls flat, pardon the pun.

Act 4 : ** , 17%


So Dax finally discovers the transference method, and it definitely requires direct contact. Okay. So, with whom did Vantika have direct physical contact before he died? .... gee that was like 20 minutes ago, I can't remember...

Has no one kept Kira up to date on Dax' investigation? I thought she was one of the only four people with security access. She would know immediately that Vantika had put his hands on Bashir.

Eh, whatever, we get the big "reveal" that Bashir "has been expecting" Quark and his party.

Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

So, Primmin takes a cue from Odo's deductive reasoning (is deduction really not something Starfleet trains its security officers to employ? Is this the best "frontier justice" has to offer? ho-hum). At least it provides a reasonable resolution to the Odo/Primmin conflict.

Yeah, yeah, Fadil's delivery for the final act is atrocious, compounded by the post-production voice-over. I won't harp on it. It's really bad, it was a mistake. Here's the real problem : at no point in this episode have we gotten an insight into Vantika's character. What's he like? He's a bad guy. What's his history? He's a bad guy. How do his experiences shape his choices? He's a bad guy. What psychological issues does he struggle with? His...um...bad-guy-ness. So, whatever Bashir has "become" with Vantika inside him has no shape, no purpose. There's nothing for us to connect with. He's just a cardboard character badly portrayed.

And cue the technobabble -- blah blah the blah blah and we can free Bashir from Vantika's control! Luckily, Vantiaka speaks so slowly, there's time for Dax to babble her technos. Bashir has a scalp attack and lowers the shields. They literally "beam" Vantika out of Bashir and cue credits....

Oh wait, there's the bit where Kjada destroys ("kills") Vantika's glial remains. Sure would have helped if she had just killed him to begin with right? I mean if she's authorised to do that without any due process...was this the payoff for Dax' "as intimately connected as any two beings can be"?...eh, whatever it's over.

Episode as Functionary : .5 stars, 10%

Do yourself a favour and watch "Warlord"--the sci-fi gimmick is virtually the same, but the premise is so much richer. Kes learns about herself, there's political motivation, consequences, real drama, and the gimmick is a means to an end rather than the end itself. It's everything this episode could have been. As it stands, this adds basically nothing to Bashir's character (aside from the teaser) and was an especially bland ride getting here anyway. All those questions from the teaser about Bashir's ego versus his profession are left totally dangling. No resolution. Only the bits with Primmin and Odo were entertaining enough to save this episode from the bottom of the barrel.

Final Score : *.5
dlpb - Sat, Nov 29, 2014 - 7:57am (USA Central)
Very entertaining, but completely lacking any real science. Totally preposterous. Especially, "Humans only use a portion of their brain". A common myth. Nearly the entire brain is used, and it all serves a function, even if we don't yet have a complete picture of it.

Swapping consciousness into another host is also totally impossible and not even remotely believable.

This is often the problem I have with Trek... it sets up some good stories but then makes me question every decision or part of it because of its faulty logic. Also, part of this premise has been stolen from Babylon 5's "Deathwalker" episode.
PositronicNet - Mon, Dec 1, 2014 - 4:34am (USA Central)
"Very entertaining, but completely lacking any real science. Totally preposterous. Especially, "Humans only use a portion of their brain". A common myth. Nearly the entire brain is used, and it all serves a function, even if we don't yet have a complete picture of it."
Precisely, except the total lack of plausible science really ruined it for me - I could not take it seriously at all. That small portion of the brain myth line was the first sign that this episode was going to be riding on the edge of a neuroscience-plausibility wave - in my opinion it failed to ride it. It crashed into the ocean too early to create a favorable impression and then proceeded to flounder helplessly in the water.

Scientists are struggling to find a neural correlate of consciousness and yet this episode expects us to believe that: 1) Dax finds it in less than 12 hours... under the pretenses of a technological mechanism she only just learned about.
2) Finds a way to disrupt it.
3) Magically transmits it to Dr. Bashir through a tractor beam.

No way. I am not believing any of that for a second.

It was heavily implied in The Measure of the Man in ST:TNG that the mystery of consciousness has not been solved in the 24th century since neither Picard nor Dr Maddox can say how to recognize it in another being, so this episode also fails at adhering to its own canon. If the neural correlate of consciousness is unknown, then what Dax did in this episode is completely implausible.

This episode deserves a 2/5 at most, IMO.
PositronicNet - Mon, Dec 1, 2014 - 4:38am (USA Central)
Though I should add that I probably would have given this episode 1/5 due to the nerd rage it induced in me alone.
Black_Goat - Wed, Dec 3, 2014 - 7:13pm (USA Central)
The Passenger: C-
This one…wasn’t very good. The plot gets lost in nonsensical technobabble, and though I take it this was supposed to be the first Bashir-centric episode, it provided very little insight into that character. I’ll admit, I only saw the plot twist coming a few minutes before it was revealed, but maybe that’s because I was preoccupied with the goofiness of the conscience-transfer. There’s not much in this one I’ll take with me.

The Good:
- I liked Odo in this episode. The Odo/Primmin subplot, while not mind-blowing, was a nice little reminder that DS9 is a jointly-run operation, and while the ending (aww, they’re starting to see value in one another) is very clichéd, I’m kind of hoping to see more of Primmin.
- By extension, I liked Sisko quite a bit here, especially his defense of Odo, although he was perhaps a trifle harsh toward Primmin.

The Mixed:
- I like that the episode opens en route back to DS9 – it’s a nice reminder that these people do more than just stand around at Command – but I wish the situation that Bashir and Kira had just finished dealing with had been better explained.

The Bad:
- So, where is O’Brien?
- Siddig is…pretty bad as possessed Bashir. Very hammy.
- Odo and Quark’s scene in this episode was their first that felt a bit repetitive. I get it, Quark is up to no good and Odo is onto him, while also being skeptical of human (er, Ferengi) emotions.
- Moments of action, like when Bashir and Kira transport onto Kajada’s ship or when Vantika and his thugs take over the transport ship, are still pretty poorly staged.
- I’m skeptical that Quark wouldn’t face any consequences for conspiring with a maniac and seriously endangering the station.
- The ending. Bashir is okay, everyone laughs, fade to black. A more mature show might have felt comfortable exploring Bashir’s psyche after sharing his brain with another. In general, I wish the doctor had more agency in this episode – perhaps he could have fought back against Vantika’s intrusion.
Black_Goat - Thu, Dec 4, 2014 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
You know, bumping this one down to D+.

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