Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine



Air date: 10/26/1998
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Sarina, what are you doing here? How did you get in?"
"It wasn't hard. Your access code only has six digits."

— Bashir and Sarina

Nutshell: Extremely neutral. Acted with sincerity, but the story is all too pedestrian.

"Chrysalis" is essentially four acts inspired by "Flowers for Algernon," with a fifth act that departs the general outline of that story but unfortunately comes off as predictable and pedestrian nonetheless.

"Flowers for Algernon," a short story that was made into the film Charly (1968), is about a man with the mental capacity of a child who receives an operation that transforms him into a genius virtually overnight. The story follows him as he sees the world in a new light, and as he finds himself falling in love with his doctor.

"Chrysalis" is a story about Sarina (Faith C. Salie), one of the four "mutants" from last year's "Statistical Probabilities," and how she sees the world after Bashir performs an operation that brings her out of her deep, catatonic introversion. Keeping true to the Charly formula is the fact that Sarina and Bashir become romantically involved. As Bashir tells O'Brien, Sarina is "the woman I've been waiting for all my life."

Well, it's not so big a problem that the story is based on the cliche of "doctor falls for patient"; it's just that I didn't feel I learned anything new about Bashir in seeing this episode. We've seen before that Bashir feels a bond between those who, like himself, are genetically enhanced, and that he feels a sympathy and understanding for these four "mutants" in particular. There just wasn't much in "Chrysalis" that didn't feel like a rehash on one level or another.

In respect to Sarina's condition, there are some reasonably good moments, like the one where she stands on the promenade simply looking at "everything." One gets the sense that her world will be forever changed for the better. But some of the most interesting questions are the ones the story doesn't ask. Questions like: Will Sarina be accepted in society now that she has emerged from her cocoon? What kind of day-to-day psychological challenges would someone face in being overwhelmed by a new world as they perceive it? (Between this and Voyager's "Extreme Risk," it feels somewhat like psychology week for Trek—not that there's anything wrong with that.)

More questions: What's going on in her mind? How does she feel about it? What kind of challenges will she face in integrating into society while totally lacking previous social experience? This last question seems to be addressed somewhat by the fact Sarina doesn't understand the concept of love the way Bashir evidently hopes and expects she would, but there are more interesting questions, I think, that are missed because the story doesn't dig deep enough. Instead, there's too much implicit emphasis (handled discreetly, admittedly) placed on the "suspense" that lies within whether or not Sarina will return to her cocoon, and not in what it means for her to be out of it.

"Chrysalis" is slow, watchable, nicely acted, and quite uninspired. At this point in the series, I expect as given for everything to be "watchable" and "nicely acted." I have nothing against "slow" per se—the problem is that the story is too derivative, too uneventful, and fails to evoke any passion in me as a viewer.

A big part of the problem, I think, is in the story's perspective. Although a key rule in the Star Trek writing guide has always been "keep the emphasis on our regular characters," this is an episode that really should've been told from Sarina's point of view rather than Bashir's. At this point in the series, we know how Bashir reacts to these types of situations, so most of "Chrysalis" as a result comes off as extremely routine. O'Brien and Bashir Talking Things Over [TM] is always pleasant and well acted, but it's also routine. We needed something fresh here, or at the very least something interesting for O'Brien and Bashir to discuss.

Telling the story from the character who's waking up from decades-long catatonia would've improved things significantly; Sarina is a character with whom we're just enough familiar to care about, yet she also has plenty of uncharted waters to bring a fresh spin to the material. Alas, the "lonely, lovesick Bashir" angle just wasn't worth the time.

Overall, what bothers me most about "Chrysalis" is the obviousness of it all. I have no objections to a story's revelations being telegraphed in scenes leading up to the conclusion. However, when most of the show is essentially telegraphed from the moment the preview aired the week before, we've got a bigger problem. "Chrysalis" is such a case. Once it was clear Bashir would fall in love with Sarina, it became too obvious that the relationship would fail as a result of Bashir getting caught up in the situation and taking things too fast. Besides, as the die-hard formula always goes, no guest character can remain in a relationship with a regular character for more than the duration of a single episode.

The question for me then became just how closely the story would mimic "Flowers for Algernon." Even though the fifth act managed to break away from the "Algernon" tragedy formula, it still wasn't particularly unexpected or insightful.

Meanwhile, the rest of Bashir's crazies (or the "Jack Pack" as they've also been called), seem somewhat wasted. While I'll grant that this story is about Bashir and Sarina, the presence of Jack (Tim Ransom), Lauren (Hilary Shepard-Turner), and Patrick (Michael Keenan) felt more like the obligatory "Okay, let's have some quirky, funny scenes with these four in the tradition of what we did last time" than it felt like relevant use of them as characters. Jack fared the best as the source of adversity (though not nearly as well as in "Statistical Probabilities"), but just who are Lauren and Patrick? The answers, respectively: A sultry woman who finds Nog attractive, and an old guy who wants the furniture in the room to be arranged exactly the same as during their last visit.

Yes, I did enjoy the scene where Jack becomes fixated on stopping the universe from collapsing back onto itself. And the "do-re-mi" scene where the four of them improvise a song makes for a surprisingly effective musical number, even if the sentiment seems a little too proud of itself.

But aside from a few good scenes worthy of mention, "Chrysalis" is precisely the type of show that makes me wonder if the story being told was worth spending the hour upon. I'm all for DS9 episodes that are relevant to the DS9 universe. And I'm all for DS9 episodes that are interesting even if somewhat irrelevant to the core material. But "Chrysalis" simply doesn't have the ends to justify the means. It's certainly not a bad episode, but it really doesn't come with much to recommend either. It's merely there.

Between the less-than-stunning "Afterimage," the totally fluffy "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," and now the predictable and derivative "Chrysalis," I'm beginning to thirst for some crucial DS9. Fortunately, based on the preview, it looks like we're in store for just that.

Next week: A clone of Weyoun defects, and may offer Odo some crucial information. At last, some meat and potatoes.

Previous episode: Take Me Out to the Holosuite
Next episode: Treachery, Faith, and the Great River

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30 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Tue, Feb 10, 2009 - 7:52am (USA Central)
Why is it, that in DS9s first season featuring a counsellor among the regulars, I keep thinking: "Deanna Troi would be of help right now!" First Garak in "Afterimage" and now Sarina positively screamed for our lovely Counsellor Troi. Why wasn't Ezri trying to help Sarina? She only seemed to care about Julian - but, as Jammer said: So did the entire episode!
PM - Fri, Aug 28, 2009 - 10:35am (USA Central)
This is a mostly dull episode, but Patrick's masquerade as an admiral, and the reason it works, is some of the sharpest plain satire DS9 ever did.
Durandal_1707 - Fri, Dec 4, 2009 - 2:53pm (USA Central)
This episode makes one wonder whether Julian has any sense of professional ethics *at all.*
Destructor - Mon, Dec 14, 2009 - 6:16pm (USA Central)
Watched this last night and quite enjoyed it as a second viewing (hated it first time out). Not exactly ground-breaking, but a nice little bit of story for Julian. People seem to fall in love on Trek really quickly, however.
Ken Egervari - Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - 2:36am (USA Central)
Definitely not my favourite episode. Like the review says, the episode telegraphs what the conflict is going to be, and what the outcome is from a mile away. It's all too obvious to be engaging.

That, and the fact that the entire endeavor is pretty much pointless makes this a less than stellar episode. It has no real lasting impact on the series, doesn't really expand on the universe or the story in any way (significant or not).

I'm always a little disappointed with filler episodes in the final seasons of a show. I kind of expect one bang after another. You have so little time, why not make the most of it?

A story like this could have been done at any point in the series... even before Julian's genetically enhancements were found out, because as the story is told, it's not really about that - it's more about Julian's loneliness, falling in love too quickly, and him rushing things. Having said that, the show seems a bit late and could have been explored in season 6 instead... or just not at all.

There is a similarity to a show like Molara as well that makes this ground already covered.
Nic - Fri, Oct 8, 2010 - 8:18am (USA Central)
I've gotta say, I'm a sucker for Bashir romances because he is so much like me in that respect. Serina's character could have been explored a little more (I really don't understand her choice at the end), but she had been my favorite character from "Statistical Probabilities" and I thik this is the first stand-alone Trek romance episode where I actually hoped the two characters would stay together, despite their inevitable separation.

Durandal, I'm not a doctor, but could you explain what you think Julian did that was unethical? When he and Serina began their relationship she was already no longer under his care, so I really don't see what he did wrong.
Cloudane - Fri, Dec 3, 2010 - 7:36pm (USA Central)
I liked the message of this episode. Who in the male crowd *hasn't* gone chasing after some young and impressionable girl with what they eventually learn to be a misplaced hope of shaping her in his image? (everyone sticks their hands up. Oh well.)

There was some element of self in this episode, both this and some very heavy shyness on my part which isn't as bad as Serena's or have the same biobabble explanation but still makes me think "where's *my* Bashir?" so I would have to declare some bias.

I'm afraid I don't see the appeal of the other "crazies", nor did I the last time around. They're extremely annoying and 2 dimensional, bouncing around in an exaggerated fashion like 10 year olds having their first attempt at "acting" in drama class. I can tell they were having fun, which is great, but in general I find these characters cringe-worthy.

Overall very good for the quiet, careful examination of characters that I can identify with. Not perfect, but good.
gtr - Wed, Sep 14, 2011 - 5:15pm (USA Central)
Well, as the review says, regardless of whether this particular episode was predictable, we KNOW that something has to go wrong by the end of the episode because no relationship with a guest character ever lasts!

So aside from gripes about the predictability of this episode, there's a much wider complaint to be made about what is basically becoming a formula.
Nebula Nox - Tue, Apr 3, 2012 - 7:20am (USA Central)
Yes, we saw some of this in Melora but at least this time Julian had reason to think it might turn out well - Sarina was similar to him because they were both genetically enhanced. I liked this because I thought the characters were true to form -- I especially liked how Sarina simply did not know what she felt and was overwhelmed.

I also thought the musical morsel, although of course very unlikely, was wonderful.
Justin - Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - 7:37pm (USA Central)
I like this one despite its obvious flaws. Serena is an interesting character and the story is enough about her to keep my attention.
Paul York - Tue, May 29, 2012 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
Bashir violated a cardinal rule of doctor-patient relationships by getting romantically involved with Sarina. He is not emotionally mature enough to be a doctor, even though technically he is a good one, and he is compassionate.
Chris - Tue, Jun 26, 2012 - 6:28am (USA Central)
Sisko and Kasidy Yates is one example of a relationship with a guest star lasting more than one episode.
I think this episode departs from Flowers for Algernon in that the main character does not regress back to her previous state - she only pretends to, so it's far less tragic.
Jock Strapp - Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - 10:34pm (USA Central)
IMHO, it would have been a lot better if they brought Sarina back later in the season and had her & Bashir start back up where they left off. It would have made more sense than having him and Ezri get started up so suddenly.
John (the younger) - Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - 12:45am (USA Central)
I have to disagree with you a bit Jammer.

What this episode offered that was new was a more in-depth focus on Bashir's lonliness, which fits with how he's changed (and yet not changed) over the years and the direction they end up taking with him.

Yes they'd touched on the loneliness before (more as a way of tying up the Jadzia story) but this showed how easily he was able to slip into a blind and moderately unethical relationship with a patient that is struggling to come to terms with a new world and a new life.

That said, I agree with a lot of your other points.

Around 2.5 or 3 for me.
Arachnea - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 6:59am (USA Central)
I think this one is a bit underrated. It's all about being alone, even when you have friends.

This group is by definition alone in the world. All they have is each other and the nice singing scene shows how much they are in harmony despite their differences (I'll take this ten times over a Vic singing scene :p). They're like a dysfunctioning family but with a lot of love, they'd do anything for one another and that's what keep them going. They accept one another for what they are when everyone else have rejected them (they are what the society wants to hide although they could be useful in scientific projects).

Bashir is lonely and in need of company, that's what made him blind. Whoever that's been lonely once, knows how easily you can fall in love. What Bashir did wasn't unprofessional - he's stopped treating her and let another doc continue; besides, he's not his shrink either - it wasn't very enlightened due to his need to fill his loneliness.

Although, I would have liked to see this kind of romance develop on a long term (B-plots, like Miles/Keiko) instead of forgetting it ever happened for the rest of the season.
Amy - Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - 4:25pm (USA Central)
I am a little surprised to see that no one seems to realize what this episode was all about: it is a counterpiece to "Melora".
"Melora" was based on "The Little Mermaid", but in the end the heroine decided to be herself and not to give up her natural gifts.
"Chrysalis" is based on "Sleeping Beauty", and here, too, we have a more modern, not to say feminist interpretation of the fairy tale. After waking up, the sleeping beauty does fall in love with her rescuer, only after a while she realizes that she is beginning to revolve around him, to try to be what he wants her to be, mostly out of gratitude; so it becomes obvious she must learn to be herself and live her own life first and foremost. Julian, also having a more modern approach, understands and lets her go.

DS9 shows that Star Trek is going with time - even in a newly told fairy tale, the woman is no longer satisfied with a partner; she first wants and needs to love herself, because otherwise her love for whoever is by her side will be frail and, in the end, not truthful. An admirable new interpretation of two fairy tale classics.
William - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 10:01pm (USA Central)
I understand the sentiment that in the final season, we have too much going on to waste an episode.

But I'm not so sure it was a waste. It was a good follow-up to the previous episode, and as one-episode love stories go, not bad at all.

It won't make my Top 10 DS9 list. It won't make my Top 20. But all in all, another good DS9 hour.
DavidK - Fri, Feb 1, 2013 - 3:55am (USA Central)
I understand it's predictable but something about this one really gets to me. The two actors have a great, believable chemistry. Actually I think Siddig doesn't get enough credit, he turned into a fine actor as the show went on, given the awful first season stuff.

Also this episode deserves credit for having O'Brien say, in a Star Trek Romance Episode(TM), "don't you think things are moving a bit fast?" (!) Compared to what, every other romance in this universe? Ha!

Also I found her reasons for leaving quite moving. This is all new, she has no idea what she's doing, the idea of taking time to figure herself out before taking on a relationship is far more emotionally complex than Trek romances typically are. Kudos.

But as said above, I wish she came back for Bashir after a year, rather than having the whole Ezri thing happen. There was always something awkward about that pairing. I'm sure he loves her for who she really is and all that, but it still *looks* too much like "second time lucky", feels creepy somehow. Like a man's wife dying and him marrying her twin sister or something.
Kotas - Tue, Nov 5, 2013 - 8:11pm (USA Central)

OK episode.

Aaron - Mon, Nov 18, 2013 - 4:30pm (USA Central)
The writers made Bashir into a creeper in this one. The poor girl wakes up from a catatonic state, is experiencing everything for the first time, and all Bashir can do is try to get into her pants.
Trent - Wed, Jan 29, 2014 - 9:38pm (USA Central)
The musical sequence and the "we must save the universe!" subplot lift this one for me. I thought it was one of Trek's best romantic episodes, though the ending was weak.
Ric - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 10:35pm (USA Central)
In face of the previous abysmal episodes in this season (and most didn't even have any magictechnobabble going on), this current one that would usually be a bad episode normally ends up standing as above-average. Sad times for DS9.

Good pieces here and there, like the musical scene as a refreshment. Nice acting by both lovers. Sad interesting tone. But overall, in fact uninspired as Jammer has said. And totally forgettable.
Bravestarr - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 2:28pm (USA Central)
I could not be any less interested in a episode, and I spent 90% of it on my phone. Really hope this isn't the last Julian Bashir episode because the guy deserves more than this.

Who decided the genetic crazies needed a new episode? They weren't all that interesting last time and they aren't now.

Also, did anyone notice the kind of homosexual undertones with O'Brien and Bashir in this episode. Miles sounded alot like a jealous house wife.
Adrian - Sat, May 3, 2014 - 11:40am (USA Central)
The scene with the four "mutants" breaking into improvised song must be one of the most annoying scenes in Star Trek history. The "mutants" themselves are likewise some of the most annoying characters ever to appear on Star Trek.
eastwest101 - Wed, May 7, 2014 - 10:34pm (USA Central)
Only one star from me, a very safe boring and totally predicatble effort. Only saving graces were O'Brien getting to say "you cannot change the laws of physics", the singing sequence and pretty good effort by all the actors involved despite being given absolutely nothing to work with by the script writers....

Feels like the A team script writers were away (hopefully writing up the end of the season) and the B team had to resubmit their stuff which had previously been rejected.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 2:04pm (USA Central)
Patrick impersonating an ADM!!! LOL!!! “That’s a stupid question too” :)

Hey Sisko, Star Fleet isn’t interested in someone dressing up as an ADM… especially one of this group.

I'm glad they brought the "mutants" back. They are an enjoyable bunch to watch for an episode.

I'm glad Bashir was able to cure Sarina. Faith Salie's acting as Sariana comes to life was fantastic.

But this episode takes a HUGE nose-dive because Bashir .... I mean for gods sake. This is worse than Dax wanting to throw everything away in Meridian.

I would have given this episode a 3 star rating, but I can't. Bashir's transgressions knock it down to 2 stars.

Do the writers even give a shit anymore?

Are there any standards left on this show?
Eric - Thu, Sep 25, 2014 - 6:39pm (USA Central)
I found the musical number to be cheesy as hell. I couldn't even watch it all the way through.

On a side note, the current consensus among cosmologists is that the universe will keep expanding forever, not implode, but the writers can't be blamed for that, as this was written in the 90's.
Hlau - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 6:04pm (USA Central)
This episode was really about the work of the hair and make up department on Faith Salie, the subtle difference between the no make up make up to being catatonic.
Yanks - Fri, Oct 10, 2014 - 8:56am (USA Central)
@ Hlau,

Agree!!!! Part of what made her transformation so fantastic!
$G - Sun, Oct 19, 2014 - 8:44am (USA Central)
So this poor girl breaks out of her shell and Bashir asks her to stay aboard crappy DS9? Let her go, man. Despite Sarina not understanding love, she still seems to socialize pretty well. That kills it for me entirely, and all so Bashir can have an uncreepy romance that still ends up uncomfortable. Another 40-minute romance that goes nowhere and affects nothing.

1 star. Maybe worse than either "Resurrection" or "Meridian".

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