"The Storyteller" is one of those lightweight shows that shouldn't really work as well as it does, but it manages to get past the part of your brain looking for probing drama and simply leaves you with a silly grin on your face. The two plot lines are fairly mundane, in which (a) O'Brien and Bashir travel to a Bajoran village to aid a dying leader, only to get caught up in a Bajoran ritual; and (b) Sisko moderates a negotiation for two feuding Bajoran areas on the brink of a civil war, only to find out that the leader of one of the sides is a young girl named Varis (Gina Philips) who looks to be about 15 years old.
The familiar A/B-story structure is nothing compelling, and the plot is hardly one of the season's more important. Yet this show works very well, because it's so well characterized, and it knows better than to take its plots too seriously. On one hand we have O'Brien and Bashir, who, paired for the first time, promise to be one of the series' most reliable comic combinations. Bashir is young, naive, and annoying, whereas O'Brien is an experienced, serious personality who isn't big on wasting time. Dropping O'Brien unwittingly and unwillingly into the middle of a Bajoran ritual situation is successfully milked for all the low-key comedy it's worth. Meaney plays the role straight—flabbergasted over being mistaken as the successor to the village's dying Sirah—which proves to be one of the show's best ideas. What doesn't quite work here is the idea of the Dal'Rok, a fantasy-like cloud of darkness that feeds off negative emotions to threaten the village—an idea rooted in Bajoran mysticism that really strains the boundaries of believability.
Meanwhile, the B-story, involving Jake and Nog's adolescent mayhem and the way they come to know Varis, is surprisingly palatable and very entertaining. One amusing scene features the three of them breaking into Odo's office to steal his bucket—a humorously appropriate notion. There's not much depth in this episode, but the execution definitely makes it good for some genuine smiles.
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