Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Fascination"

*

Air date: 11/28/1994
Teleplay by Philip LaZebnik
Story By Ira Stven Behr and James Crocker
Directed by Avery Brooks

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Marta was a mistake. She was too young, too immature for me. Major Kira is a woman." — Jake

Quite simply the most ludicrous episode of Deep Space Nine ever created (and quite possibly the worst), this one begins in the realm of plausibility then turns ridiculous by the end of the second act—only to be one-upped by over-the-top-ness with each succeeding scene.

Though it has a few laughs and two respectably plausible subplots involving (a) the problems of the O'Briens' marriage and (b) the affirmation of Odo's affections for Kira, "Fascination" features some of the hokiest moments in Star Trek history. Most of this show ranks right up there with the scene in Star Trek V where Kirk, Spock and Bones sing "Row, row, row your boat."

Where did this script come from, and what was its intention? It appears to have been conceived as a joke. Apart from the aforementioned subplots, there's not a moment in this episode that can be believed. Here lies a plot where Jake asks Kira out, Vedek Bareil starts chasing Dax around the station, Dax comes on to Sisko, and Kira and Bashir fall into each others arms. It could've been interesting or, at least, hilarious. But the plot wastes the premise on cornball jokes instead of using the characters' personalities to explore these strange, impulsive crushes in halfway intelligent ways.

The episode culminates in the wardroom where a party hosted by Sisko turns into a ridiculous romp where Dax decks Bareil because he keeps annoying her. (Bareil's part in this is quite stupid, and the usually honorable character instead comes off looking like, well, a complete schmuck.) The insanity balances very unevenly with the B-story resolution between Miles and Keiko, who kiss and make up in the same room where a disappointed Jake utters "Nerys doesn't love me."

Why is this all happening? Because, of course, Lwaxana Troi's amorous feelings for Odo are being projected to others who come near her, due to a Betazoid virus she happens to have at the moment. Uh-huh. Welcome to Contrivance 101.

Avery Brooks, a veteran stage director, has proven capable of directing DS9 with successful episodes such as "Tribunal" and "The Abandoned." He works with this crazy teleplay, but he's way off the mark. He ultimately has a convoluted mess, missing humor opportunities too many times—the Kira/Bashir scenes are horrendously inept. But even though dead from the start, "Fascination" has a sort of manic energy that, ironically, might be most appropriate on stage.

Previous episode: Defiant
Next episode: Past Tense, Part I

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34 comments on this review

Eddy - Sun, Dec 23, 2007 - 1:26pm (USA Central)
I find it interesting that you call it the most ludicrous and possibly worst. Was this review written before "profit and lace"? Just wondering.
Jammer - Sun, Dec 23, 2007 - 5:26pm (USA Central)
Yes, this was written three years before the "Profit and Lace" review. Pretty much all the DS9 reviews, except seasons 1 and 2, were written in order before the later episodes aired.
admirable chrichton - Fri, Mar 14, 2008 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
I don't agree that this was the worst episode this season. That award must go to the dire "Meridian". It's silly and utterly forced, but it does get better (I don't know why) after a few viewings and the scene where Bariel gets decked by Dax is (moderately) amusing, and Lwaxanas parting comments to Odo are quite nice as well
AeC - Thu, May 8, 2008 - 10:02pm (USA Central)
I've always liked this episode. It's inconsequential, but I always thought it worked as farce, and Brooks gets in some gorgeous camerawork during the Renewal Festival, including some complex, sweeping crane shots that tie several of the storylines (such as they are) together. I wouldn't want a full series of this, but for a one-off, it made me grin.
Dirk Hartmann - Sat, May 31, 2008 - 5:03am (USA Central)
Horrible, horrible episode. I hate it when characters have their personalities and behaviour changed so gratuitously. Feels like a rape to me. Zero stars.
Gatton - Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - 10:49pm (USA Central)
It's DS9's "Naked Time" (or "Naked Now" if you like.) Did Voyager have a "the crew get stupid" episode? They should have. It could be a Trek tradition :-).
Jakob M. Mokoru - Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - 2:01am (USA Central)
Well...I have said it before. At least episodes like "Fascination" trigger a response from the viewer, resulting in outbursts of humor, anger or the desire to post a comment on www.jammersreviews.com, while episodes like "Equilibrium" or many, many Star Trek Enterprise-episodes couldn't interest/anger/entertain people enough to do so.

It's one kind of success...
Destructor - Sun, Jun 28, 2009 - 7:29pm (USA Central)
I watched this with my gf last night and we laughed pretty much the whole way through the episode- we must be the perfect audience for it. Sometimes you just need to go along with the silliness. I'd rather have this frothy fun than 'Meridian', which was just a waste of time.
Jahy - Sun, Aug 16, 2009 - 2:46pm (USA Central)
This episode was totally 'orrid...worse even than Profit and Lace and Let He Who Is Without Sin...I enjoyed both of those on a superficial level at least...this one was just painful.
Nic - Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - 8:45pm (USA Central)
What amuses me most about this episode is that Nana Visitor (Kira) and Siddig El Fadil (Bashir) actually started dating around the time it was shot. Maybe there is such thing as a Contrivance 101 virus in real life?
David - Sat, Jan 30, 2010 - 11:08pm (USA Central)
What bothers me in this episode even more than the tone deaf, ham-handed lunacy, is the B-story involving Miles and Keiko. Their emotions run the gamut, yet neither is affected by Lwaxana's virus. Thus, the grand farce is undermined by the gravity of the O'Brien's marriage. Because every character was acting so nutty, I automatically chalked up Keiko's bizarre and sudden mood swings to whatever mystery element was at work on DS9 during the festival. When it turns out that Miles and Keiko--aside from suffering from headaches--are in fact acting "normal," as a viewer I felt befuddled. Are the O'Briens headed for divorce? Were the screenwriters too intoxicated themselves (intoxicated with lunacy) to accurately write Keiko's emotions on the page? "Fascination" ends up feeling like a mish-mash of various unsuccessful bits forced to coexist together. I'm all for silly episodes, but this silly episode made my head swim.
Mike - Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - 11:05pm (USA Central)
By far the worst episode of DS9. What a total waste, and a big joke. I don't mind little bits and pieces of humor once in a while, but I prefer my sci-fi to be more serious, otherwise I'd just watch a stupid mindless comedy or something. Almost makes me want to stop watching the series, if not for the fact that fans say it gets darker and more serious as the seasons progress. Wow, what a major turnoff though. Makes me now look at the DS9 crew as a bunch of clowns!
Nic - Tue, Apr 27, 2010 - 2:18pm (USA Central)
Mike, hang in there, you're almost to the good part. If you want an even better viewing experience, just skip the following episodes:

Bar Association
The Muse
Let He Who Is Without Sin...
Ferengi Love Songs
Profit and Lace
Jeff O'Connor - Fri, Oct 1, 2010 - 7:09pm (USA Central)
Mike, surely by this point you've seen such classics as "Duet", the Circle trilogy, "The Maquis" two-parter, "The Wire", "Crossover" and "Second Skin". Surely you should know that few shows don't have some unfortunate duds. Just know that there are far more hours closer to the masterpieces than there are hours within sensor range of "Fascination".
Jay - Sun, Dec 26, 2010 - 12:32am (USA Central)
This is the kind of episode that the ridiculously inaccurate UPN promo for ENT's Cogenitor seemed to be for.
Josh - Mon, Mar 28, 2011 - 9:39pm (USA Central)
Jammer,

I sort of think you've missed the point of the episode. You talk about how bad and over the top it is. That is the point. And since that probably WAS the point, then they hit the nail right on the head. I think it was made for laughs, and it is pretty funny.
Nathan - Fri, Oct 14, 2011 - 12:04am (USA Central)
"Did Voyager have a "the crew get stupid" episode?"
No, they had seven entire seasons.
Pogo - Sat, Oct 15, 2011 - 2:06am (USA Central)
I wish I could "like" Nathan's comment 39258923852 times.
Matt - Wed, Dec 28, 2011 - 2:53am (USA Central)
Contrivance 101. Ha, so true. The whole thing felt contrived, and that wasn't even the worst part about it. It was just awkward to the point where the actors looked embarrassed. Fascination had a few good moments but they were sparse and as as Jammer said it really fell apart after the second act.
Lt. Fitz - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 6:37am (USA Central)
Keiko has annoyed me before, but in this episode, she finally pissed me off. I, too, was surprised when it turned out that she was not affected at all by the virus. I thought, wow, Keiko really was just being a bitch when she got off the transport. And, O'Brien was so excited to see her too. What a let down for him. Actually, it reminded me a lot of my experiences with my own ex-wife. Couldn't please her even if I gave her what she wanted. Guess that's why she's my ex.

Anyway, yeah, the whole Lwuxana thing was contrived, and, quite frankly, I had hoped I had seen the last of her when I finished watching TNG. I guess because she has been such a big part of Trek and probably owns it in some way being the widow of Gene, I have to keep putting up with her obnoxious character.

I did laugh my butt off when that annoying, smarmy sex priest tried to attack Sisko with punches that could have come from a 9-year-old girl, and Sisko just blocked them effortlessly. Then when Dax punched him out, I cheered! That's how you deal with "spiritual" frauds. I know, he's supposed to be the good priest and all, but I just can't stand self-important religious nuts who constantly speak in a calming voice and walk around in robes.
Cail Corishev - Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 9:02am (USA Central)
It's painful to watch Chief doing everything wrong. Guys, if you want your wife to get bored with you and start sharing intimacies with her exotically-named co-worker, be a submissive, jealous, weak-willed tool just like Chief here. Compare and contrast with the later episode where he yells at the Cardassian scientist and she practically molests him. He should've told Keiko that she was being a bitch, and that he was going to dinner and expected her to show up -- in that red dress. Maybe I should just tell myself it was Troi's virus acting on him after all, because he wasn't this bad in other episodes.

Other than that, I didn't think the episode was terrible, but I don't have any need to see it again. That's true of most Bareil episodes, frankly.
DG - Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - 8:48am (USA Central)
My "excuse" for this episode's existence is "Bajorans are 'real' humans. I got the idea from a forum I read recently, and now, watching religion/Bajor is like watching Mormons/Utah culture. (guess where I'm from...)


So... The Gratitude Festival is Christmas. (it's not very Thanksgiving-y)

I watched it once and this time around I skipped over most of it. Gag gag gag and gag. Ew.
Late_to_Party - Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 11:54am (USA Central)
One of my favorite episodes, with a few lines that really tickled my funny bone. Jake:"You told me I could meet someone at the Festival" Sisko: "I did not mean Major Kira"

It's the rare slapstick episode of ds9, and I enjoyed it. Since most everyone was sick, they are not responsible for their behavior, thus no character assassination.

The Miles/Keiko stuff was painful, though. Everytime we see M/K they are miserable -- not a good advertisement for marriage! I wish they had been shown as a happy couple occasionally in the series.
ProgHead777 - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 2:21am (USA Central)
I agree with Admirable Chrichton completely. The scene where Bareil attacks Sisko and Sisko defends himself effortlessly while sporting nothing but a mildly irritated expression on his face was laugh out loud funny (I liked the Bareil character okay as just a religious figure but his expanded role as Kira's lover in his later episodes was always downright off putting in my opinion).

Lwaxana's words to Odo at the end were quite touching and the kiss she gives Odo was the only one (besides those shared by Miles and Keiko, of course) in the entire episode that didn't make me cringe.

Overall, I can't deny that the episode as a whole was silly and mostly pointless. I would add one more star to Jammer's rating, however. And no, this was not the worst episode of the series, even only up to this point.
Grumpy - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 12:14pm (USA Central)
"[Bareil's] expanded role as Kira's lover in his later episodes was always downright off putting..."

Agreed, though perhaps not for the same reason. Kira's relationships turn her into some kind of interplanetary Eva Peron. They elevate our humble militia major to a ludicrous, improbable status. Imagine if Riker had been shown knockin' boots with the runner-up for space-pope and the UFP president! (Well, he did seduce the queen of Angel One...)
ProgHead777 - Fri, Aug 2, 2013 - 12:36am (USA Central)
@Grumpy, Actually, I think it was for exactly the same reasons. I just didn't bother to articulate it as well as you. Well stated, sir.
nic - Tue, Aug 13, 2013 - 8:41pm (USA Central)
If meridian was 2 stars this should be at least the same. Although the premise was somewhat silly I thought the backdrop of the festival on the station was kind of interesting to see. Overall I would say that I am surprised that by this point trek in general has not moved away from this type of episode.

If you haven't figured it out yet, any time you see Lwaxana just change the channel.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 6:46pm (USA Central)

Absurd episode. The infatuations were funny enough to keep it bearable for me. Jake hitting on Kira was hilarious.

5/10
Cheyne - Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - 7:21am (USA Central)
It was silly, but as far as silly episodes go, not toooo awful.

The Sisko-Bareil fight was amusing, the Lwaxana-Odo scene at the end was at least a tiny bit moving, and all the characters did their crazy roles reasonably well.

Plus I think the Keiko-O'Brien scenes are reasonable, these tensions arise in couples sometimes.
Bravestarr - Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - 1:00pm (USA Central)
Jammer you are crazy, this episode was laugh out loud hilarious. A little humourous episode now and then breaks up the monotony and let's us know the show doesn't take itself too seriously.

I got to admit when I saw Lwaxana I groaned but this hour left me grinning from ear to ear. Just a side note though, does anyone find Kira's hair to be atrocious? I know it was the 90s and all and we all had crazy hair then but geez woman, get a stylist!
Dusty - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 4:03am (USA Central)
QUARK: "Commander, you throw one hell of a party."

This one wasn't as bad as Jammer says. Granted, there were a lot of things dragging it down. As usual, Keiko and Lwaxana are unbearable; Lwaxana because she bothers Odo way too much, Keiko because of her painful acting and shrewish behavior. It seems to me that Miles suffers way too much to make her happy, when she's just a naturally unhappy person. Bareil trying to act seductive around Kira (and Jadzia) is just plain creepy. I liked him better as a simple priest.

But let's talk about what DID work here. Jake falling in love with Kira was pretty funny, because she understandably doesn't know how to react. Dax coming on to Sisko was even funnier, because it's the one pairing that would have a tiny chance of working. Bashir and Kira making out was great, and I laughed my butt off when Jadzia finally decked Bareil. That guy always did get on my nerves.

What's actually interesting about this, and not just amusing, is Bashir's note that all of the spontaneous crushes here come from latent attractions on a subconscious level. "Best not to think about it too much." If there was ever an episode begging to be followed up on in silly fan fiction, this is it.
Quarkissnyder - Sun, May 4, 2014 - 11:02pm (USA Central)
I didn't mind the episode as a whole, but I hated the Keiko/Miles subplot. They are always annoying but their interactions were completely out of (their already annoying) character, and also overlooked the fact that Miles had encouraged Keiko to take the job on Bajor and that he promised that he would visit. So why hasn't he seen her for two months? And why doesn't he know anything about what's going on in her life on Bajor? Don't they talk while she's away? And seriously, a four year old kid who hasn't seen her dad for two months isn't going to immediately warm up to him, or she's going to be totally clingy. She's not going to go quietly to her room, again, to play with her stuffed animal.
Dave in NC - Sun, May 11, 2014 - 11:30am (USA Central)
Poor Miles. He could have done SO much better . . .
Yanks - Thu, Jul 17, 2014 - 10:34am (USA Central)
I'm one that actually like Lwaxana... I think her moments with Odo are precious. I think she was key in Odo realizing his feelings for Kira.

But this is a skipper for me. Bad actors trying to be funny just doesn't work.

Some funny lines yes, but damn...

Keiko is cringe-worthy once again, and this time Obrien is stupid too.

Having the crew be overcome by something that turns them into sexual predators seems to be just like having to have a "Nazi" episode.

Overused, old, blah - blah...

The words “Peldor joi” make me want to puke every time they are used in the series.

1.5 stars for me, because once again Mrs. Roddenberry graces the screen.

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