Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"His Way"

**1/2

Air date: 4/20/1998
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You're not exactly the most lovable person in the galaxy. You're not even the most lovable person in this sector. Or on the station. Or even in this room." — Quark, trying to "help" Odo

Nutshell: Pick an adjective: Cute. Shallow. Amusing. Contrived. Pleasant. Inconsequential. Lightweight.

"His Way" is a troublemaker for criticism. I feel as if there are two opposite forces pulling at me, and now I have to find the fair middle ground. I hope I can find it before the feeling becomes one of being drawn and quartered (though I suppose that would require four forces rather than two).

When I said "pick an adjective" above, I meant that you can go one of two ways: You can elect to see this as an hour of pleasant, amusing, inconsequential fluff—or you can see this as a foray into shallow sitcom territory. In a way, the second option also brings with it many characteristics of the first; I often like to see the comic ingenuity that sitcom absurdity can bring along with it. The flip side is that, Ferengi episodes notwithstanding, DS9 is not a series I normally equate with sitcom silliness. Especially when dealing with situations that have long been serious and even weighty issues in the context of some stories, reducing those issues to sitcom stature seems just a little bit wrong.

In this week's case, that would, of course, be Odo and Kira and the years of buildup surrounding their relationship. This buildup, ultimately, has come down to one brief, over-glorified moment (read: kiss) in "His Way." We know Odo has had deep feelings for Kira since as early as second season's "The Collaborator," and whether or not they'd eventually pair up has gone back and forth for literally years (to the point that, a few times, I'd thought it had been permanently put to rest).

Well, now we have the new answer, but it's an answer that leaves many other questions unanswered (or unasked), because the episode that gives us the answer is mostly an exercise in superficialities. Personally, I was never all that compelled by the question "would they pair up?"; I've always been more interested in the historic bond shared between them. These are two characters who saw some really ugly things throughout the Occupation, and their sibling-like bond and mutual understanding was one of the most interesting things about them, making shows like "Necessary Evil" possible.

Now, I'm not fundamentally against them falling in love, but my hesitation is that romantic relationships on DS9 very often lose their subtlety and become as transparent as on many other TV shows. I guess what I liked about that sibling-like bond was that it seemed more sincere, complex, and original, whereas any chump TV show can do simple romance.

So throughout "His Way" I felt the duality of the enjoyable sitcom at odds with the possibilities of complex characterization.

On one hand, there's quite a bit to like here. The cuteness factor is about as high as they come without being overly trite or annoying. Something about the episode's attitude really clicks, and it kept a silly grin pasted on my face while I was watching. The comic timing is good, and watching curmudgeon Odo lighten up some was pretty entertaining and refreshing.

On the other hand, coming off the heels of the intriguing "Inquisition" and tremendous "In the Pale Moonlight"—one of the heaviest stories in the entire series' run—a fluff piece like "His Way" also serves to be a significant break in the momentum. This episode probably would've been more aptly placed in the lineup before "Inquisition." At this point in the season, I'm ready for meat and potatoes.

But fluff we have, so fluff I will analyze.

Most fluff stories have some sort of gimmick, and the big gimmick of "His Way" is the holographic lounge lizard Vic Fontaine (James Darren). Vic is not your ordinary hologram. He's completely self-aware that he's actually a program, and he's very good with people and an expert at improvising. In fact, I wondered at times if perhaps he was just a little too real. But given the previously established character of Minuet way back in TNG's "11001001" (not to mention Voyager's Doctor) the idea of Vic didn't really strike me as implausible if one considers there are probably expert holo-programmers out there somewhere.

Vic is an interesting character, and James Darren's performance is a delight, bringing an amiable aura of seasoned knowledge to the realm of romantic advice. Odo and Vic make good foils for one other—Odo always socially conservative and reserved, Vic always outgoing and outspoken. Auberjonois and Darren work exceptionally well together, and without getting into endless samples of dialog, I'll just say that most every scene between them is a pleasure to watch.

There were some other moments that worked well. I got a kick out of the scene where Odo starts quietly singing in Sisko's office, and then Sisko, unable to resist, joins in. It was very nicely done—understated and amiable. Of course, there's quite a bit of that sort of amicability in this episode.

Vic's advice to Odo is essentially that he needs to relax and have some fun, and not be such an "icicle." Odo's problem, Vic concludes, is a textbook example of "man has buried feelings for woman but woman sees herself and man as friends"—meanwhile, Odo can't stop worrying about Shakaar. Does Kira still have feelings for him?

Some of this discussion begins to turn shallower than I cared for. I for one thought we were done with the whole Shakaar issue a year ago, and I found the pretense that it was a potential problem for Odo's confidence to be forced and derivative. Another hesitation I have is the way the dialog is almost too "human." I know, I know; Trek is really about looking at human issues through different story devices—but the way it happens here (even knowing that Vic was specifically intended as a 1960s persona), I still couldn't help but get the feeling I was grounded in 20th-century romance, rather than 24th.

Those are relatively small complaints. My bigger problems with "His Way" stems from the fact that, in the end, underneath all the good performances, slick production design, and good music by Jay Chattaway, this is really a sitcom that doesn't try to be anything more than an hour of fluff. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem in many cases (especially considering how nicely executed this hour of fluff is), but the fact of the matter is this is the payoff of years of Odo/Kira buildup, and there were serious issues that could've been brought into the light.

Unfortunately, like a sitcom, this whole episode is based upon a series of contrivances, right up to the trick that Vic plays on Kira and Odo so that they meet in the holosuite, and Odo is led to believe she's a holographic simulation on which to "practice" his dating skills. As humbly and humorously carried out as the whole holosuite "date" was, and as much as I enjoyed it while it was happening, and as much as Odo's embarrassment made sense after the plan blew up in Vic's face, the end result still didn't ring true when I stopped to think about it. The reason: because it was all based on a trick rather than a truth. Some truths can be packaged in tricks, but this was done with total disregard to seriousness because it was simply too busy having fun.

And I'll totally come clean by saying that I thought it was fun. But fun only goes so far, and the final act, alas, was just a little to shallow for my tastes. The spontaneity of The Big Kiss seemed a little too much in the realm of sitcom mentality—both in the lead-up dialog and in Allan Kroeker's glorified direction over the event—though both Quark's and Dax's (especially Dax's) reactions were priceless. Kira makes an allusion to a "moment of clarity," in which she apparently realizes that she and Odo were meant to fall in love, but it seems a little more canned for the purposes of entertainment than it does for the purposes of natural character growth.

In the process, some interesting subtleties are lost. For starters, I can finally abandon my few clinging hopes that Odo's betrayal in "Behind the Lines" will add up to mean something in the scheme of the Odo/Kira relationship. And I can also stop wondering if Kira's distress over the alternate-timeline Odo's actions in "Children of Time" will come back into play. In short, I can stop wondering about all the little mysteries concerning Odo and Kira, because they're now a part of the past—a chapter in a book that I feel has been put on the shelf for good. I'm not saying that this book was a must-read to understand DS9 or even Odo/Kira, but it does seem a shame that the writers think it's worthy of stashing away to collect dust. On the other hand, maybe the book hasn't been closed, and Kira/Odo's new direction will still look back on some of these chapters. I wonder, though. It just seems that, based on the simplistic way this pivotal episode in their relationship transpired, we're not likely to turn back and look at these unresolved issues again, which feels quite unfortunate.

Perhaps I'm prejudging, but I'm not sure what else to do at this point. I hope more serious issues will be examined in the context of this new, "official" relationship; I guess we'll just have to wait and see. In any case, I can recommend a bulk of this episode for anyone who likes enjoyable, well-played fluff and comedy. As for more serious aspects, holding one's breath until next week may be the most appropriate course of action.

Next week: Sisko must answer to higher powers.

Previous episode: In the Pale Moonlight
Next episode: The Reckoning

Season Index

33 comments on this review

Jasyson - Sat, Jan 19, 2008 - 4:24pm (USA Central)
Maybe I am bit a bias but I think most of DS9 deserves three stars or more but I digress. So this was a ligh weight episode but considering it followed In The Pale Moonlight, it was a pleasent diversion and bringing in James Darren only added to DS9's class act. Btw, I have to agree that when Sisko starts singing along with Odo it felt like such a natural moment that couldn't have easily not been written.
Seth - Wed, Apr 23, 2008 - 1:27pm (USA Central)
I'm sorry, but DS9 suffered from the Moonlighting-effect once Kira & Odo got together. Their relationship was much more moving unconsummated. I could say the same for Bashir & Ezri, but she wasn't on the show long enough to make as much of an impression.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Mon, Feb 9, 2009 - 7:41am (USA Central)
I'm not totally pleased with James Darren's performance. While his acting is okay, his singing gets - especially in the higher regions of his voice - quite forced.
EP - Fri, Mar 6, 2009 - 9:53pm (USA Central)
I guess Sisko really didn't lose any sleep over the decisions he made in ITPM the episode before.

On top of that, during a war that seemingly claims millions of lives a week, with all the hand-wringing that occurs every week over the casualty lists, all Odo can think of is his lame and superbly-mousey infatuation with Kira.

On top of that, we've got Vic Fontaine, who, to me, acts in a manner so stereotypical that it rivals the Irish folk from VOY's Fair Haven for ethnically-challenged caricature of the year.

And don't blink, otherwise you'll miss a holographic Kira casually smoking a cigarette. I was almost waiting for a "DS9 is proudly sponsored by Lucky Strike" advert to come on.

This episode, along with Shades of Grey, Spock's Brain, and Sacred Ground, is one my brother and I automatically skip when we engage in one of our Trek marathons. It's like a gag reflex.

Ah, well. Good could not exist without evil.
Jay - Fri, Sep 4, 2009 - 11:06pm (USA Central)
Any episode with Vic in it has a 2.5 star ceiling. That includes the series finale.
Jayson - Sat, Sep 5, 2009 - 12:04am (USA Central)
I've never understood the dis-like for Vic Fontain. I loved every episode the character was in. In an ironic sort of way he was the counciler DS9 never had (minus Ezri) in a reoccuring role. Plus he was so hip and cool in a Vegas lounge singer 60's kind of way.
J - Fri, Nov 6, 2009 - 3:44pm (USA Central)
With respect, you're all crazy. :) I agree with Ira Behr that this episode was one of the series' triumphs. It's incredibly hard to do any sort of romance, a comedy, a musical in a Trek series; this is a little bit of all three and an introduction of a major recurring character and a payoff to stuff that's been simmering for a long time now--and it works. Jammer prejudges it as "either fluff or shallow." Why? Because it is a romance and not starships shooting at each other? Darren owns this episode, Odo finally gets honest with himself, Nana Visitor vamps it up, and we finally get somewhere on the character's feelings. What's not to like?
Destructor - Sun, Nov 8, 2009 - 5:05pm (USA Central)
I HATED this episode when I first saw it, but Vic must have grown on me over time, cause I didn't mind it when I rewatched it the other day. Not great, but Shades of Grey? Steady on.
Durandal_1707 - Tue, Nov 24, 2009 - 7:33pm (USA Central)
You'd think Kira would be pissed off at the use of her image as a hologram without permission. After all, she didn't like that the last time someone did that to her in "Meridian".
Lee Wilson - Tue, Jan 5, 2010 - 8:46pm (USA Central)
I thought the final big kiss was pretty forced and didn't seem believable, but actually, when they were dancing during their date, their attraction to each other seemed far more believable and true.
Lenny - Mon, Jun 7, 2010 - 1:06am (USA Central)
Anyone who doesn't like this episode is an icicle who needs to lighten up and have some fun
Nic - Sun, Jul 18, 2010 - 5:27pm (USA Central)
I'm on the fence with this one. I really love the kiss scene, I think it's the most sincere scene of the episode, and I did enjoy most of the other scenes. This is probably the best "sitcom fluff" episode DS9 has ever done. However, it's the scenes we didn't get that bother me, the scenes that pay off the relationship these two characters have had over the last nine years. So, they made a great light-weight episode, but I think the storyline deserved a more serious take.
Marco P. - Wed, Aug 18, 2010 - 6:06am (USA Central)
I just love when Trek doesn't take itself seriously. Lightweight episodes fall in that category for me, and as far as they go "His Way" was a pretty good one.

On another positive note, Kira & Odo can finally drop the "on again / off again" routine and the series can finally focus on more serious stuff. :P
vic fontaine - Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - 3:02am (USA Central)
This was the beginning of the end for DS9. WIthout a doubt my least favorite episode. It's like one of the producers got a huge hard on for lame lounge music and decided to whip his dick out in public to force everyone to not only look at it, but take a big whiff.

This is what happens when Hollywood douchebags get too much power, they can impose their personal fantasies on everyone else. Ira Behr is an idiot, and this more than dissolves and respect I had for the man's previous work.
Your mom has halitosis - Wed, Feb 23, 2011 - 8:46pm (USA Central)
"This was the beginning of the end for DS9. WIthout a doubt my least favorite episode. It's like one of the producers got a huge hard on for lame lounge music and decided to whip his dick out in public to force everyone to not only look at it, but take a big whiff.

This is what happens when Hollywood douchebags get too much power, they can impose their personal fantasies on everyone else. Ira Behr is an idiot, and this more than dissolves and respect I had for the man's previous work. "

And this is what happens when "douchebags" cowardly post their opinions online, knowing they have the anonymity of the internet.
What a twunt.
Vinarial Disease - Fri, Mar 4, 2011 - 11:26pm (USA Central)
I have no problem with the little get together of Odo/Kira. But I don't care much for how they did it.

The overall episode was fun, but.............look at it from this angle. Odo has been in love with Kira since the 2nd Season. But when exactly did Kira confess to having any sort of feelings towards Odo other than the friendly kind. Never. So in one episode we are suppose to believe they were meant for one another. Sorry. Not buying it. I could see if this episode was the beginning for a possible relationship in the future but not to just make it happen overnight.

It seems like the only relationship the writers did right was Sisko/Cassidy. All because it wasn't rushed. Hell, Worf/Dax relationship didn't start feeling right until after "Change of Heart." Oh well, can't get everything right.

I was thinking about how much fun it would have been if Quark/Kira had gotten together instead. Yeah I know, not possible, but to me it would have been more fun to watch then her and Odo. I mean she hates Ferengi's and can't stand Quark. But what if what Quark did in "Sacrifice of Angels" made her start to see him in a new light. Just curious.
Stubb - Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
Jam has a point about "His Way" following on the heels of "Pale Moonlight". A quirk in production vs. airdate order, no doubt. Perhaps this could have been rectified by having Odo go to Garak for romantic advice instead of Vic Fontaine. Now THAT would have been interesting.
Jay - Sun, Jan 8, 2012 - 1:22pm (USA Central)
There has always been a real prayer area for Bajorans to go to and pray...actually, it's where Jadzia is killed a few episodes later. But here Kira is in a holographic one just so that Vic can visit her. Lame...
Nebula Nox - Sun, Apr 1, 2012 - 11:33pm (USA Central)
I did not like this when I first saw it because I did not care for romance between Odo and Kira - I guess I am not a romantic! - but later, they grew on me as a couple. So when I watched this again I actually enjoyed it.

And Odo did need help courting Kira. Who could he ask? Julian? He has not had much success with women. Garak? Better to consult him about murder, and although Odo and Garak have an understanding since their escape from the Gamma Quadrant, he would never trust Garak with such knowledge. Quark? He's been Odo's closest confidant in this matter - mostly because he's so observant - yet Odo is too proud for this, and besides, Kira can't stand Quark, so his advice might not be so good. A holosuite adviser makes perfect sense, because it's so private - you can turn it off. Besides, we know that Odo was reading up on the subject earlier - he simply did not know what to do.
Justin - Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - 8:39pm (USA Central)
Nana Visitor really gave Peggy Lee a run for her money with her rendition of "Fever." Apparently she chose the song herself because it was a personal favorite.
Kayleen - Tue, May 1, 2012 - 8:10pm (USA Central)
I never felt the chemistry between Kira and Odo. The whole thing felt forced
Lt. Fitz - Sun, Jul 1, 2012 - 4:12pm (USA Central)
I was disappointed with this episode only because I felt that that it was a too silly and forced ending to the Odo/Kira love saga. I wanted to see them in some sort of serious situation that perhaps caused one of them to save the life of the other, and in doing so, realize how profoundly he or she would have missed the other if they were lost. There is nothing like lives in danger to really make us want to act on those things that we are putting off out of insecurity. I really wanted to see Kira deal with any sort of misgivings she might have about choosing to be romantically involved with a creature so unlike herself (how would making love work, anyway?). She has shown romantic interest only in Bajorans, understandably so, because it is definitely an easier and more natural route. I wanted to see something that would cause her to really be able to overcome that sort of instinctual drive we all have in our natures to be attracted to our own. Sadly, we get what the reviewer accurately described as silly sitcom fluff as well as it was executed.
Moegreen - Mon, Oct 8, 2012 - 4:25am (USA Central)
These characters deserved a better resolution than this. I could barely stay awake. DS9 and treacle don't mix especially with as complex and interesting a character as Odo. Vic Fontaine was the singularly the worst addition to the show and for them to make him recur weakened the last season especially, in my view. And he can't sing.
Jay - Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
Agree with Moegreen...Vic was an excruciating addition to the show. Just the sight of him triggers an instant fast forward.
William - Sun, Jan 6, 2013 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
I'm generally not a fan of holodeck outings, this episode included.

DS9 had generally done a good job with holodeck episodes up to this point. This was not a welcome addition. But it didn't suck. Just OK. 2 stars.
DavidK - Thu, Jan 24, 2013 - 4:05am (USA Central)
@Lt. Fitz "(how would making love work, anyway?)"

Erm, not to be too crass, but the dude's a shapeshifter...I suspect making love would work extremely well.

Also, "overcome that sort of instinctual drive we all have in our natures to be attracted to our own"

Wow, that would be offensive if we weren't the only consenting humanoids on this planet. Speciesism ahead of its time!
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:38am (USA Central)
Randomly (as I am not rewatching this show at the moment but TNG), I read the review and comments for this episode. I'm with Jammer on the drawbacks to this and think that the 2.5 stars grade is *very* generous. Jammer articulates the problem well. It is not that it's a bad thing for Trek or DS9 to do a lightweight fluffy sitcom plot. It *is* a bad thing for DS9 to do a lightweight fluffy sitcom plot that is a turning point in a generally serious relationship, without actually dealing with any of the reasons that relationship is interesting to begin with. Nor do sitcom episodes have to be meaningless (jeez, "M*A*S*H" was a sitcom and it's the definitive American *war* series), and Trek comedies can be things like "Deja Q" which have more to say about human nature than this does; a comedic episode could have still dealt with the landmines in their relationship ("Children of Time," "Behind the Lines") if it were careful enough.

And even then, I'm not sure if I could tell you what exactly "The Trouble with Tribbles" reveals about human nature, but it's both a lot of fun *and* doesn't weaken a central story. Similarly, "par'Mach" is not very deep and it is what gets Worf/Dax together, but it works okay because that relationship didn't have any of the baggage at that point that Odo/Kira do. Fortunately, the Odo/Kira story ends up working out okay later on, with "Chimera" the best episode of season seven and their scenes in "What You Leave Behind" some of the best there.

Incidentally, this episode begins a pretty terrible run at the end of s6 of DS9. The season up to "In the Pale Moonlight" has some lowlights but is generally very strong with several classic or near-classic episodes. *None* of the episodes from this episode through "The Sound of Her Voice" break 2 stars for me, and I'm not sure that I think "Tears of the Prophets" is actually good (though it is the best episode of s6 post-"ITPM"). I can't think of a 6 episode run in any of the first three (live action) series that I would rate as lowly as I do "His Way" through "The Sound of Her Voice," and that includes TOS s3 and TNG s1. (Yes, TOS s3 has "Spock's Brain" and "And the Children Shall Lead" within a few episodes of each other and the only Trek-low-point episode in this run is "Profit and Lace," but that run also includes "The Enterprise Incident.") (I can't think of one in Voyager or Enterprise either but that's because I'm not as much an expert in those, so I won't comment.) Fortunately, while I have mixed feelings on season seven it doesn't fall apart for a string of episodes the way the end of s6 did.
Nancy - Fri, Aug 2, 2013 - 10:42pm (USA Central)
Blech. This show was cringe-worthy. I see from the comments this lounge lizard becomes a recurring character- oh no! I wanted Odo and Kira to get together in an intense, epic way. That's what they deserved given the build up. Instead we get cutesy crap. Oh well.
Kotas - Sat, Nov 2, 2013 - 10:56am (USA Central)

I enjoyed it.

6/10
Corey - Wed, Jan 15, 2014 - 8:15pm (USA Central)
Masterpiece of an episode. Its a neat little comedy; newsflash the final kiss is a joke! Lighten up.
Jons - Fri, Feb 7, 2014 - 2:48pm (USA Central)
There's nothing I hate more than when Star Trek pretends that people in the 24th century will be interested or even know anything detailed about mid-20th century history or culture.
Jack - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 11:37am (USA Central)
"And this is what happens when "douchebags" cowardly post their opinions online, knowing they have the anonymity of the internet.
What a twunt."

What about people who insult people anonymously on the internet...I'm assuming your birth name isn't "Your mom has halitosis".

eastwest101 - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 - 2:38am (USA Central)
Cringeworthy mess that had me reaching for the FF button as well, I don't know how the crew kept a straight face when shooting the 'Fever' scene with Nana Visitor trying unsuccesfully to channel Michelle Pfeiffer from the Fabulous Baker Boys...

The "unfabulous DS9 mime?"

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