Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Shadowplay"

**1/2

Air date: 2/21/1994
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Robert Sheerer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

This episode is an amiable outing character-wise, but rather pedestrian and all too disconnected. Odo and Dax beam down to a planet only to find a small community of humanoids who are disappearing one by one. Surprisingly early in the story, it's revealed that the entire community—people and all—is an elaborate holographic simulation, and that people are vanishing because of the projector's malfunctions.

The premise makes for an obvious definition-of-life analysis (since these holograms are all sentient)—which, fortunately isn't stressed in the slightest. Instead, the writers choose to develop a surprisingly affecting friendship between Odo and the young girl, Taya (Noley Thornton). Watching the softer side of Odo emerge is pleasant, and a final scene where Odo morphs himself into a top is, well, quite cute.

The plot, however, is more or less perfunctory. Will Odo and Dax repair the projector and save the village? Are there stars in the sky? Also present is a somewhat unfinished B-story involving a romance between Kira and Bareil. And then there's the C-story involving Jake coming to terms with telling his father that he doesn't want to join Starfleet like the old man. These character moments are pretty much all effective. But there's probably one storyline too many, and the episode is so unfocused—endlessly switching back and forth between the three stories—that it gets hard to become particularly engrossed in any of them. "Shadowplay" is light and slight.

Previous episode: Paradise
Next episode: Playing God

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6 comments on this review

The Dream - Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 11:13am (USA Central)
No Comments? I will add the first one. I have seen this show many times due to my large number of 8 hour VHS tapes that I would play while I slept recovering from the night shift.

Anyway, great analysis. An obvious goof pointed out elsewhere on the web is the fact that Colyus says that he scanned for transporter activity and then was surprised that Odo used the transporter.

The also was another episode to drop hints about the Dominion. I thought they did a great job of gradually bringing this menace to the fore. It was nice to see Jake follow a different path, but I guess that this did not warrant its own episode or further exploration, but nicely handled by Sisko.
kavatar - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 9:13am (USA Central)
I agree with the above and the rating.

In retrospect this episode is quite disappointing. I mean it's fine and all but there was a lot of missed potential. Jake/Sisko, Odo/Changelings/Dominion and to a lesser extent Kira/Bareil were all major plot arcs which have a lot of ground work here. Unfortunately, it's all sort of flung together without making much impact.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 4:45pm (USA Central)

Not a compelling episode. Odo and Dax don't have much chemistry.

4/10
Corey - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 7:25pm (USA Central)
The FX shot that opens Shadowplay is the FX shot that opens Paradise in reverse. They just flipped the shot to save money.
Moonie - Mon, Apr 7, 2014 - 10:13am (USA Central)
Hmmm I would give this at least 3 stars. I always like episodes that deal with "what is the nature of life?" questions.

Also, it was an Odo-centric episode!! He's by far my favorite charctr, maybe in all of Star Trek.

I don't understand why this gets a worse rating than the terrible "Paradise".
Yanks - Wed, Jul 2, 2014 - 7:59am (USA Central)
I'm always a sucker for this episode. I guess I'm a pushover for cute little girls.

The "B&C" stories were OK. Of course someone has to mind the shop while Odo is gone, and of course Quark has to see if he can take advantage. So we get to see the kindling Kira/Bareil relationship. We also start to learn that Jake probably wont fall in his father footsteps and join Star Fleet.

A note about the holographic community. I believe this is the only instance in trek where "omicron particles" are used to generate the holograms. Not sure if I agree with this technobabble creation and don't really see the need to recreate the principles of holographic projection. It had no bearing on the story.

I loved how Odo and Dax met the town’s “protector” Colyus.
“ODO: Are we being accused of some kind of crime?
COLYUS: Have you committed one?”
Then of course Odo beams out, Dax says he’ll be right back etc. 

This set the appropriate tone for the story I thought.

But the whole episode for me revolves around this little girl Taya played very nicely by Nola Thornton and her developing relationship with Odo.

We see a side of Odo we haven't seen yet which was enjoyable and the dialog between these two is written and delivered incredibly well.

I don't mind that "rights" weren't dragged into this episode. It really had nothing to do with it anyways. The important part is haw Odo and Dax convince Rurigan that his feelings are real for these folks and their feeling count too. I thought it was very interesting creatively brilliant that the programming for these holograms was written in such a manner that they could have children if they chose to. Couple things caught my attention here. Holograms having children is one thing, but only if they chose to, not programed to, was very telling of the programmer intent from the start. He wasn't just creating window-dressing to make him feel better, he was creating a family(s). All this contributed to the episode and the premise of what he was trying to replace after the Dominion conquered his world. I also liked that Rurigan didn’t run the town, from what we saw the protector did.

Also, Odo's turning into a top at the end for Taya wasn't "cute", it was touching.

Very well done.

3.5 of 4 stars for me.

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