Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Second Sight"


Air date: 11/22/1993
Teleplay by Mark Gehred-O'Connell and Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by Mark Gehred-O'Connell
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In "Second Sight," the brilliant Professor Seyetik (Richard Kiley) comes to DS9 to prepare a groundbreaking experiment. Meanwhile, Sisko meets an enigmatic woman and finds himself falling in love for the first time since his wife's death four years earlier. The woman, Fenna (Salli Elise Richardson), is like a dream—she has a knack for saying the perfect thing at the perfect time. The only problem: she keeps disappearing ... literally.

Many portions of this episode ring true. There are some genuinely engaging emotional moments in the romance between Sisko and Fenna; often present in the performances is a sweet chemistry that proves engaging and sometimes downright moving. Even more engaging are the typically effective scenes between Sisko and his son. One scene in particular ends with a big laugh, as Jake gives his father a look of utter bemusement. What doesn't work, unfortunately, is the "sci-fi" plotting used to explain Fenna's existence. The plot makes a less than stellar attempt to link Fenna to Seyetik's wife, Nidell, writing Fenna off as a nonreal figment of Nidell's convenient telepathic abilities.

As compensation for the gratuitous twist, the episode has Kiley as the egomaniac Seyetik. He's the type of guy who writes his own obituary because he wouldn't dream of leaving the task of writing something so important in anyone else's hands. You've gotta love this guy—he's arrogant, and he knows it. Kiley is delightful, bringing a great deal of humor and charisma to the role, with a final scene that is bittersweet in its theatrics.

Unfortunately, the more important issue here—that of Sisko's romance—ultimately falls short (and feels too much like a Reset Button Plot) because of the story's need to make his would-be companion nonreal—thus rendering the romance dramatically unfulfilling.

Previous episode: Necessary Evil
Next episode: Sanctuary

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28 comments on this review

Connor - Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - 3:24pm (USA Central)
Second Sight is a complete yawn fest. It Would scrape 2 stars from me.
Londonboy73 - Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - 7:04am (USA Central)
I like DS9 – I really do – but this episode highlights the major problem the series has:-

Avery Brooks. – HE CAN’T ACT!!

He is possibly the worse actor I have ever seen in a leading role. Every mannerism is overacted, every line is wooden. When he has to laugh or cry it is painful to watch. If he got the role how bad were the ones who were turned down??

Am I the only one who thinks this? Surely not!
Ian - Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - 9:56pm (USA Central)
Londonboy, I agree with you, at least in these early episodes...
He got better when he grew a beard and shaved his head and was able to renact his Hawke persona from Spenser for Hire...
Londonboy73 - Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
Thanks Ian. At least I am not alone

In the UK they show repeats of TNG and Voyager all the time but never DS9. It is not very popular and I think this is mainly to do with Avery Brroks.

Such a shame because if you get past him it's very good.
LastDawnOfMan - Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 6:26pm (USA Central)
I think this is a story arc that would have been improved if they hadn't been in a hurry to wrap it all up in one episode. The "romance" feels rushed. I get annoyed at stories where characters are falling deeply in love after an apparent 20 or so minutes of time together. Could have spread this arc out over a couple of episodes with some other story arcs, given both the romance and the old guy more time to grow on us. He was such an ass, as presented, I was happy when he threw himself into the sun, and couldn't feel too sorry for Sisko since he barely knew his so-called love interest.
Elliott - Sat, Aug 11, 2012 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
Brooks is not the only acting landmine one has to contend with--Visitor (only in this series it seems), Lofton, Ferrel, Dorn...and the occasional appearances of Sisko's wife (I've forgotten the actress' name) are only ever at best, competent and often laughable (there are a couple of exceptions to that rule). That's a major chunk of the main cast. Thank goodness the show brought in a recurring secondary cast of ringers who brought a real depth to their characters; Garak, Martok, Weyoun, Dukat--they really saved the show on the acting front.
Chris - Sat, Apr 13, 2013 - 9:46am (USA Central)
Penny Johnson Gerald! A bad actor! Nana Visitor (think back to last season's Duet). Michael Dorn never seemed that bad to me, considering the role.
Joe Misner - Mon, Jun 3, 2013 - 9:27pm (USA Central)
who played fenna on ds-9 Second Sight
azcats - Wed, Oct 2, 2013 - 4:09pm (USA Central)
yep, this one was pretty boring.
Elliott - Wed, Oct 2, 2013 - 6:58pm (USA Central)
@Chris: I was referring to the actress who played Jennifer, his first wife, not Kassidy Yates, his second. Nana Visitor had a lot of good material written for her and I have seen her act well--but there was something lacking in the chemistry of her character which made her acting weaknesses very present and hard to ignore.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 3:40pm (USA Central)

A silly episode. Pretty much a throwaway.

woah - Mon, Nov 4, 2013 - 8:49am (USA Central)
this entire comments thread was crazy. the episode a boring throwaway? avery brooks a bad actor? come on, guys. come on. please come on. come on.
Alex - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 11:45am (USA Central)
Personally I would have loved to see Salli Richardson return to become Avery's permanent love interest instead of introducing Kassidy Yates. I felt there was more chemistry between Sisko/Fenna in just this one ep than I've seen in his scenes with Yates. No surprise. Salli is ridiculously gorgeous. What man wouldn't fall for her in record time?

I never understand people's need to proclaim "he/she can't act" like there some professor on the subject. Why not just say "this person's acting style doesn't appeal to me". IMO, that would be a more understandable statement. Saying Brooks can't act is like saying Stewart can't act.
DLPB - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:56pm (USA Central)
woah, as hard as this is for you to understand, some of us can look at Star Trek without the blinkers on. Brooks is a pretty bad actor, and so are a few of the others. Star Trek in general is grossly overrated, and DS9 had some very bad episodes mixed in with the decent ones.
DLPB - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:58pm (USA Central)
Why not just say "this person's acting style doesn't appeal to me"

Are you serious? What has an acting style got to do with acting ability? Stop talking CRAP.
Vylora - Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - 1:47pm (USA Central)
If I thought a show was mostly crap episodes with a few decent ones, I would most likely not consider myself a fan of said show. I would go so far as to say I don't like that show.

That being said, I make it a rule not to waste time accusing a fan of talking crap in a comment session for a tv show I obviously do not like. That not only saves me face in that I am not being a potential troll, but it also provides an opportunity for fans to enjoy discussions on a on a show they like without belittling statements.

I for one am not a professor on acting nor have I taken any acting courses. Despite this I do enjoy well told stories on tv with characters that pull me into the storyline. This has to do with not only the dialogue characters are given but also what the characters do with what's been given. Deep Space Nine has actors portraying characters in a manner that pulls me into the storyline, for the most part, quite well. Thus, in my mind and therefore my humble opinion, it seems to me their acting or "style" thereof is not distasteful in the slightest...in fact I would go so far as to say it is done very well.

There's been plenty of shows where I find the acting to be underwhelming and I can't find myself having the patience to divest my time on them. Farscape is an example that comes to mind of a show with a strong cult following that is highly praised. Personally I can't get into the characters because, to me, they don't seem believable. I don't like their acting. They don't "pull me in" to the story. But that doesn't mean they don't for others who watch it. Though I do hear there is some great stuff in that show and I may come back to it. But I most certainly am not going to go to the fan site to troll just because I don't like the show (so far). Though I have gone to one of the fan sites to ask a couple of questions about it out of curiosity. I was polite to them as I should be, being a non-fan on a fan site, and they were polite back.

Imagine that.
Dusty - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 10:01am (USA Central)
Wow. What a negative and thoroughly unsatisfying slew of comments about a show we're supposed to like. (And if you don't like it, why even bother?)

I loved this episode.
Londonboy73 - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 10:27am (USA Central)
To be fair, my original point (way back in 2012) was that I DO like DS9 but Avery Brooks spoils it for me because if find him to be a poor actor. Yes I did say cannot act. Maybe should have used the phrase ‘in my opinion is a very poor actor’. That is just being pedantic with my words when the point I was making was very clear.

People are well within their rights to disagree with my viewpoint. In fact, I think it is only right that Avery Brooks is being defended by people who like his acting. However that does not mean that people cannot comment that an actor or indeed episode is poor.

I see nothing wrong on voicing a negative opinion on a Start Trek discussion forum. In fact, I struggle to think of a better forum to voice it on!
Robert - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 4:14pm (USA Central)
Just to throw my 2 cents in... I do feel that Avery Brooks is wooden at some points and could appear to overact in others... but I thought it worked. He was colder, more distant in earlier episodes but the back story for him is a guy that is destroyed when the series begins. It makes sense he wouldn't be so emotional. By the end of the series I honestly just felt Sisko to be a really passionate person and what some would call overacting just felt like acting choices and in the end I felt like it made Sisko Sisko. It just worked for me.

As for if someone was a bad actor or not... a character is a combination of the writing, directing and acting... and I can't judge a person's acting off one job. Sisko worked for me, but I'd need to see him in other things (which I haven't). For instance I think Mulgrew is an awesome actress but Janeway never worked for me (and not necessarily because of her, it just didn't).

If Brooks is a poor actor I don't care, Sisko worked for me. And Elliott, Visitor? Really? She had far and away some of the best scenes/episodes in DS9. She was a gem. You might fault her for only being alright if all you had seen were the first 10 episodes....
Londonboy73 - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 10:00am (USA Central)
By the way. Alex, your statement:-

"Saying Brooks can't act is like saying Stewart can't act"...

is one of the weirdest things I have ever read. It doesn't even make sense.

I am all for debating with someone but this is clearly a bizarre thing to say with no foundation whatsoever!!
GATA4 - Sat, Apr 26, 2014 - 10:22am (USA Central)
My first comment on my favourite Star Trek series (just bought the lot on DVD to replace my ageing VHS collection) . I have to agree with Londonboy73 - I often felt there was something awkward and off-kilter in Brooks ' delivery in the first 3 series. Usually when explaining things to people, like to the prophets in "Emissary". Or when asking Odo about Fenna in this episode. Visitor's usually reliable, though she has a tendency to grandstand a bit. Sid's a bit all over the place (and overacts dreadfully in season 1's "Passenger"), but then Bashir in the first 2 seasons is like a great big puppy, enjoying his frontier medicine (at least until The Dominion turn up) . Odo, O'Brien, Kira and Quark ground this series for me.
Elliott - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 5:28pm (USA Central)
@ Robert :

Compare Kira's reaction to Odo in "Things Past" with Janeway's reaction to Tuvok in "Prime Factors". Same basic emotional content displayed in two skill sets which are lightyears apart. By around Season 4, Visitor had found the rôle and was pretty good most of the time, but that's a lot of show to get through with only marginal acting success from one of your stars.
Robert - Fri, May 9, 2014 - 3:35pm (USA Central)
I'll grant you that the ending of "Things Past" didn't pack much of an emotional wallup (I actually wasn't a huge fan of that episode), but I feel like it was a blip by then (S5).

It certainly wasn't Kira's finest moment, but I'm sure I can find plenty of moments where Janeway didn't register well.

For me her character seemed to find itself at the tail end of S1 (I LOVE her in "In The Hands Of The Prophets" and "Duet"). By S2 she seemed pretty steady (like her goodbye scene in the opening trilogy).

And "Things Past" is one of very, very few scenes with Kira/Odo where I feel she didn't slam it out of the park. I love the wordless ending of "The Search Part II", the scene where she gives him the plant for his quarters, all of their scenes in Crossfire. Something kind of felt off with the entire episode for "Things Past". It should have been an awesome followup to "Necessary Evil" and it just fell much flatter.
Yanks - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 10:01am (USA Central)
OK, many folks here are echoing my observations WRT acting abilities in DS9. I'll go ahead and chime in, then speak to this episode.

The ONLY way this series stayed on the air is that the supporting characters/actors, Odo, Quark, Garak, Obrien, etc were exceptional.

Avery Brooks is a horrible actor by any standard WRT to acting. He can't convey ANY emotion without overacting. He can't even get the voice inflections right. He over pronounces words all the time. I to this day can't believe they couldn't find a better black male actor. If this series had been on a star ship where he was at the center of the stories more often, I believe the show doesn't make it past the 1st season. To compare his acting skills to Stewarts is ridiculous.

Alexander Siddig was horrible in the 1st season, but at least he did seem to get it right starting with season 2.

Nana Visitor, as with many trek actors over the years across all series, overacted quite frequently early on (Torres, Stewart, Burton, Dorn, Keating even Mulgrew for a period comes to mind). But she too got better with experience and time. The same with Terry Farrell, but I attribute her improvement to a change in writing the character. Terry wasn't very suited to the perfect princess characterization they began with.

In short, if I watch the show and it looks like they are acting, they aren't doing there job. I saw that with DS9 more than any trek series.

But, on to this episode.

I actually like this one, and to give credit where credit is due, it didn't have any Avery acting head-slappers for me.

I thought the "love that Fenna professed for Sisko was believable, especially once we find out why she comes into existence.

"In times of deep emotional distress Halanans sometimes lose control of these abilities (psychoprojective telepathy). My wife is very emotionally distraught"

It's logical that the projection would be haphazardly searching for real love here. Sisko was the first person she happened upon. Also, who can blame Sisko for being infatuated with Fenna? Remind me to send a Christmas card to whoever came up with that dress. Wow, Salli Elise Richardson is a strikingly beautiful woman. A comment about that red dress... so many times we see alien cleavage/under boob shots etc in DS9. This was just revealing enough to be tasteful without going overboard. Well done.

I REALLY enjoyed the Dr. Gideon Seyetik character and thought Richard Kiley excelled in this role. I thought he sold the whole thing well and I believed that he would sacrifice himself the way he did to free Nadell from her commitment. It came across as genuine to me.

I too enjoyed the Sisko/Jake moments. Jake sold both occurrences. The young kid has proven he's a pretty darn good actor.

I did have a hard time with the closing scene between Sisko and Nadel. It seemed to me like the only reason they had this scene was for Sisko to feel sorry for himself. (I'm surprised they didn't put her in the red dress) I think Sisko's interaction with Nadel should have included something like "you know he loved you". Maybe a tear from her or something? She seemed pretty unemotional for someone that just lost her husband, even though she might not have felt for him what she originally did I saw nothing that lead me to believe that he mistreated her. That's quite a sacrifice you know...

3.5 stars out of 4 for me.
Dave in NC - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 12:29am (USA Central)
An episode that depends on contrived plot twists and red herrings to keep the obvious from being obvious.

First off, Ben Sisko is a BIG fan of Professor Seyetik and his celebrated/celebrity career, yet he has no idea that he is married?! Much like the Geordi/Leah Brahms episode, marriage status doesn't appear to be publicly available information in the future. Except other episodes directly contradict this possibility, so what gives? Bad plotting.

Fenna and Sisko didn't have a relationship, you could barely call it a flirtation. The longest amount of time they spent together (traveling from the Promenade to the docking ring) we don't even see. What did they talk about in the intervening time? Whatever it was, it wasn't anything personal, judging by the dialogue we did see. I also thought it odd that Sisko didn't just say "Computer, halt turbolift, security authorization etc etc" when Fenna ran off in the docking ring.

In four years, THIS is the first woman that Sisko had any kind of infatuation with? A woman he spent maybe a half hour with? I'm not sure I'm buying what they're selling here.

When Sisko meets Odo in his office to find Fenna, it's strange that Sisko doesn't think it prudent to mention her doubly-pointy ears. I know there are a lot of species out there, but you'd think a pseudo-Vulcan would sort of stick out. Maybe because that would have solved the mystery in five minutes. Very contrived.

And when Odo DOES find out that the woman doesn't exist on any manifest, he makes the rather ridiculous claim that not one member of the Prometheus's crew has disembarked for Deep Space 9 in the three days it has been there (other than the Professor). And how did not one surveillance camera catch this woman? More bad plotting.

I also found it odd that his wife had conjured Fenna three times over two days (twice during the day) and her husband (nor any Prometheus crewmember) noticed it.

I didn't like the persona of his wife, she came across as a rather stony-faced grim enigma in the little screen time she was given. She didn't express any kind of spousal affection to her husband at all. I understand the actress was trying to draw a dichotomy between the two characters she was playing, but when Ben told Nidell at the end she was exactly like Fenna, I rolled my eyes. They were polar opposites.

I think we were supposed to hate the scientist character and his personality, but everything the plot and background information told us showed that he was indeed an accomplished and gifted man. Since the "douchebag husband consumed with work" characterization didn't ring true, Nidell's true reasons for being angry with her husband were never explained (other than a vague sentence from the Professor about her mating for life and some ensuing disagreements).

Come to think of it, if her species DOES mate for life, you'd think she would have taken more care in choosing a spouse, especially one who dresses in such a provocative boisterous manner. (Seriously, who is his tailor?!)

Nitpicks: Does Nidell have dreams of being a hairstylist and fashion designer? Those were some pretty banging threads for a dream made flesh.

Why is Kira so obsessed with Sisko's morning routine? It didn't seem to fit her character. (I sense a rewrite from an originally Dax perspective).

More nitpicks: Why didn't Nidell mention that she had conjured up this woman before? Why didn't Seyetik call sickbay when he finally did see his wife was in distress? Also too, the actor who played the Commander of the Prometheus was very wooden. Snooze!

And why exactly was it necessary for the Professor to ACTUALLY kill himself in order to free his wife? Surely the Federation would have helped him fake his death to spare his wife's life. More terrible plotting.

Unusually for any modern Trek show (since TNG Season 3), this show LOOKS bad. The lighting is noticeably too bright, the various camera shots seem to linger a second too long, the characters not their usual selves. Everything about the episode seems kind of off. Especially noticeable is the incredibly slow way Nidell starts to clear the table after dinner, and the ridiculous baby steps she takes on her goodbye walk in the final shot. This episode was padded to fill time, and then some.

The only things that really worked for me were the exploration of the father-son dynamic between Sisko and Jake, the crew banter before the banquet, and the actual rebirth of the star. Special kudos to the composer of the star-rebirth score, who managed to sneak in some melody despite the Producers commands to the contrary.

Not a very good episode at all. 1.5 stars (and only because I liked the too-few father-son scenes).
knight4444 - Tue, Oct 28, 2014 - 11:31pm (USA Central)
Wow, some of you people are really pathetic, I thought is was a great episode, it's NOT a full length MOVIE! it's a 47 min TV series, I'm assuming most of you television critics are just pimple popping TEENAGERS!
Charles - Tue, Nov 25, 2014 - 1:08pm (USA Central)
This *was* a very boring episode, with more loopholes than plot, and to contribute to the discussion, Avery is a TERRIBLE actor. The best DS9 episodes are those where the story revolves around the Cardassian occupation / war and where he is seen the least...

I totally agree with Yanks that if Sisko had been a normal Trek "captain" (in a roaming ship, the center of the story), the series would have been pulled after one season.
MsV - Wed, Feb 18, 2015 - 10:25pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed this episode and concur with Alex and one's opinion of whether someone can act or should be stated as such. Who made these people authorities on someone's acting ability other than their own opinion. Salli Richardson had great chemistry with Avery Brooks and I too would have loved to see them act together again. A lot of these people who post here are always contrasting DS9 with TNG and other Trek series, the point is it was supposed to be different. It was created to be different I am glad they see it that way. Someone else mentioned with all of the negative criticism of this show, why would they watch it. I have always enjoyed DS9 and it is my favorite Trek show. Sisko is not like Picard and vice versa, he wasn't supposed to be. My one concession is they can have their opinions, like they say "opinions are like butts, everybody has one"

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