Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Fascination"

1 star

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

◄ Season Index

97 comments on this review

Eddy
Sun, Dec 23, 2007, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
"Did Voyager have a "the crew get stupid" episode?"
No, they had seven entire seasons.
Pogo
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 2:06am (UTC -6)
I wish I could "like" Nathan's comment 39258923852 times.
Matt
Wed, Dec 28, 2011, 2:53am (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
"[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 (UTC -6)
@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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
Poor Miles. He could have done SO much better . . .
Yanks
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 10:34am (UTC -6)
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.
SoSoOdo
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
Why did the writers bring Keiko to ds9? They should have dealt with divorce which does exist in Star Trek. I understand couples have fights but 90% of the time Keiko is mean. Why did the writers write her like that? They should have had miles divorce her. I could have seen obrien and Kira hook up but they wouldn't have done that because of Odo. They could have had obrien be single. I mean there were so many times on ds9 where he went on missions where he was told there was a good chance he was never coming back. It's just a shame to see a nice guy with that woman. What did he see in her? They should have put him with a woman that was nice and knew how to have fun. Oh well
Diane
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 7:17am (UTC -6)
I really enjoyed this episode, especially when Dax decked Bereil, I screamed when he hit the floor. I love Lwaxana Troi she is hilarious. I think they should have kept Jennifer Sisko and killed off Keiko.
Icarus32Soar
Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 3:37am (UTC -6)
Yeah, Keiko was always a bad idea that should have been nipped in the bud, but for the rest of it, you guys literally missed the point of this episode. It's a spoof of Midsummer Night's Dream. Magic dust and mischievous fairies, in this case the gorgeous stupendous magnificent Majel, mistaken identities and everyone falling for the most improbable person, I was in 5 minutes into the episode. It surprises me how often Star Trek fans of all series loathe certain episodes because they can't identify the allusions these episodes make to other elements of western English speaking culture. It is one of the great strengths of the whole Star Trek that it does this.
DVMX
Wed, Mar 18, 2015, 1:06pm (UTC -6)
If they sold a DS9 box set, this ep and "Profit and Lace" should be separate from the rest and put on one disc as a "free coaster". At least that way you'd technically have all eps if you're a completest.
Del_Duio
Fri, Mar 20, 2015, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
"If they sold a DS9 box set, this ep and "Profit and Lace" should be separate from the rest and put on one disc as a "free coaster". At least that way you'd technically have all eps if you're a completest" - DVMX

Hahahaha, 100% agree! Though this one is crappy I feel it's much more watchable than Profit and Lace is. That is painful to watch, this one is just "regular" bad.
Gul Sengosts
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 6:24pm (UTC -6)
"Yeah, Keiko was always a bad idea that should have been nipped in the bud, but for the rest of it, you guys literally missed the point of this episode. It's a spoof of Midsummer Night's Dream. Magic dust and mischievous fairies, in this case the gorgeous stupendous magnificent Majel, mistaken identities and everyone falling for the most improbable person, I was in 5 minutes into the episode. It surprises me how often Star Trek fans of all series loathe certain episodes because they can't identify the allusions these episodes make to other elements of western English speaking culture. It is one of the great strengths of the whole Star Trek that it does this."

An allusion alone doesn't make a worthwhile episode though. You could argue that a female Ferengi taking off her fake ears was an allusion to Vincent van Gogh, but that doesn't make the episode any more pleasant or significant.

There's a lot of humour in Star Trek, in the case of DS9 mostly with Odo and Quark, or even better, Garak. I couldn't find anything funny in this episode. Just a "wtf was this for?" episode, like TNG's "Justice". A waste of time without any saving grace whatsoever.
MsV
Sat, Apr 11, 2015, 4:44am (UTC -6)
Regardess of how annoying Keiko is, she sure looked good in this episode.
Azdude
Tue, May 5, 2015, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
With all respect to the memory of Majel Barrett, any show the writers create with her in it is a dud. They always cast Lwaxana in the same role, be it with Picard, Odo, or whoever, as a desperate over the hill slut.
It's a shame, Majel deserved better.
Robert
Wed, May 6, 2015, 9:42am (UTC -6)
Over the hill and desperate maybe... but slut? That's pushing it don't you think?

And Mrs. Troi has had good episodes (although not many). Her scenes in "The Forsaken" were the highlight of the episode and "Half a Life" was particularly well done (especially for a Mrs. Troi episode).

The problem was that she was often TNGs version of "The Ferengi Episode" and Trek doesn't do comedy all that well (with some exceptions of course). When they gave her some elevated material she ran with it.

And I'm probably alone in this, but I loved her in the much maligned "The Muse". I just thought the whole thing was really nice for her character and Odo's. It was a better followup to "The Forsaken" than this episode...
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
I chuckled along when reading this review, because most of what Jammer criticised in this episode, I enjoyed. And I love Lwaxana Troi, who is my favourite minor character.* I like all the Ferengi episodes I've seen, too.

The episodes I don't care for are most of the Mirror Universe episodes, and--the worst: Meridian. I don't hate the last with passion. I just really dislike it.
--
*TNG's Half a Life is probably my favourite episode in that series.
jason
Sat, Aug 1, 2015, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
is it just me or does this have a lot in common with the naked and the naked now, especially with the crew losing their minds and trying to have sex with each other?
methane
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
Yes, there are similarities to the Naked Now. But the Naked Now was about lowering the character's inhibitions, revealing things they're hiding about themselves. If a crush comes out, it's significant; after all, there could be many other things on their mind. At the end of that episode, we've learned a bit about their characters.

The fact that the only thing that's revealed here is crushes means you can't really take any of them seriously. Adults know they may have one or more passing crushes at any given time; simply having one is no indication that you give it any weight. So this episode doesn't really tell us anything about our characters.

The fact that this wasn't followed up at all after the virus passes (you don't see Bashir & Kira hooking up again, nor do you see Dax confronting any hidden feelings for Sisko), confirms that none of these 'crushes' had any significance.

If you find it funny, it's worth it anyway. If you don't (like me, and most people here), it's a bad episode.

I will echo one of the above commenters in saying Brooks did have some nice camera-work during the festival. Watching the series on a TV that would have been considered gigantic in the 90's (not especially big in 2015) has given me a new appreciation for how big the DS9 set was, especially once they built that 2nd level.
S. Kennedy
Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 6:19am (UTC -6)
Awful. Reminds me of an extremely bad Season One Next Gen episode.
William B
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 11:19am (UTC -6)
Against the backdrop of the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, which is about, uh, gratitude, and whose primary ritual is the writing of one's troubles on a paper and burning them away (isn't "please make the things I dislike in my life disappear" sort of the opposite of gratitude?) are introduced four romantic plots: the unrequited pair (Lwaxana and Odo, and subtly Odo and Kira as well), the happy relationship (Kira and Bareil), the troubled marriage (the O'Briens) and the relationship ended (Jake and Marta, off screen). A love spell (sorry, Betazoid zinthi fever) shuffles these affections around. What insights will we and the characters learn about love?

Well, uh, not much, is the answer. A classic influence for this type of love-spell stuff is "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and I think the episode is maybe trying to capture some of the zany energy and "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" commentary on the arbitrariness of human affections of that play. I'm not opposed to that in principle, but the problems are 1) the episode is not very funny, 2) there are no insights into the characters affected by the spell themselves besides Bashir's very brief statement that there had to be some residual attraction followed by "Best not to think about it!", and 3) the show is too earnest and stolid about love most of the time for jokey commentary on lust-as-overwhelming-force to take hold. The episode could have gone the route where the crushes are revelatory of the characters' inner lives along the lines of "The Naked Time" (or "Now"), funny because they are satirical takes on the way the characters usually behave, or even the way *humanoids* usually behave, and I could imagine a version of this episode something like those, uh, classics like "Dramatis Personae" or "The Game" where an Outsider character (Odo, Wesley & Robin) observes the weird, crazy behaviour of a larger group (humanoids, adults) -- and, well, I don't really buy those episodes (except for "The Naked Time") as great Trek, but they hold a certain appeal. In this episode, the beginning and end to why it's funny is because, I guess, Jake doesn't normally hit on Kira, and now he does -- along with some straight-man reactions from the unaffected characters, which are also generally not funny. So as is, it's mostly a slog.

Another big problem is that it doesn't seem as if the spell, er, zinthi fever, should totally change people's personalities and their ability to perceive reality, like Bareil starting to punch Sisko or Jake not understanding why Sisko would disapprove of him dating Kira -- the type of distortion which does *not* prevent Bashir from diagnosing the illness and restraining himself from seeing Kira later on. (I could forgive some of this as just being spell having inconsistent effects if it were funnier, though.)

Worst directing moments: Jake runs and twirls around posts, then STOPS, then Sisko grabs him and spins him around and tells Jake to slow down. The Bareil punching Sisko thing struck me as very awkward rather than funny, like Bareil was pulling his punches (which no doubt he was). The whole comic-climax dinner scene felt like people milling around a room waiting for their cue.

One of the Trek precedents for this episode, which also demonstrates what is wrong with this, is "Sarek," in which Sarek's emotional imbalances lead to arguments among the crew and eventually a fistfight in Ten-Forward. This was, however, part of a larger story -- and had the metaphorical function of revealing how the strain of a great elder figure losing his emotional control creates ripple effects of instability among those near to him. I guess older women's horniness *maybe* causes people to get improbable crushes and fall into lust, but I kind of doubt it. Either way, though, as with *most* (but not all!) Lwaxana episodes, the pathos of her character is left mostly unexamined. The sadness of her emotional attachment to Odo (and Picard), who cannot and will not return her affections, is sort of gestured to at the episode's end, but only for a moment. Also what the heck is with her hairstyle? Poor Lwaxana. Poor Majel Barret. On a purely plot-mechanical basis, I'm not sure why Lwaxana's overwhelming *and unwavering* attraction to Odo and Odo alone makes other people get attracted to random people, though I guess a whole station's worth of people crushing on Odo would be a bit much for Odo to handle...though, well, I kind of think that would have made a better episode.

Lwaxana intuiting Odo's feelings because she is both fixated on him and recognizes unrequited love when she sees it is a moment I appreciate -- as is their earlier conversation where Lwaxana tries to console Odo on finding out his people were heading up that "awful Dominion," and Odo continuing to be the brave little soldier about his decision not to be with his people is good groundwork for the revelations later in the season that Odo is not as certain as he is making out. Odo's entering the Gratitude Festival for the first time seems to be both a way of getting closer to Kira and as a way of his trying to commit more to being a part of the solids' way of life -- so that he is not so badly tempted to rejoin the changelings.

The O'Briens material works okay-ish for me; I know a lot of people strongly object to it, but I take Keiko's standoffishness early on as being the result both of being tired and of trying to figure out how to bring up the idea of staying for another few months. I don't particularly see why Keiko shouldn't stay an extra few months, though I get why it bothers Miles; I'm also not quite sure why their visitations are so few and far between (Bajor is not *that* far by shuttle). I do think the presumption that Molly automatically stays with Keiko the whole time could really have been reexamined. Anyway, Miles' disappointment that their brief vacation time isn't happy and Keiko's fear and inability to brighten her spirits combining to make their time unpleasant is believable. I don't really think that the intensity things get, where Miles resigns and then Keiko *still* doesn't respond to that, makes sense to me; I get that emotions are running high, but they sort of act like they're on the verge of a divorce because of one argument, which reads to me as somewhat forced conflict, given where they were in "House of Quark."

Finally, Philip Anglim is so hard for me to watch. I do not know what it is, but I get kicked out of every scene he's in even when not under the spell. It may just be that I have trouble not guffawing at the whole sexy-monk thing. The Kira/Bareil scene in her quarters is so awful I can't begin to describe it, and this is before the spell! Kira changes her clothes before she and Bareil are horizontal in her quarters, but he's still wearing his vedek outfit, his earing dangling like it's about to swing and hit her ear. He says "We've both been so...BUSY," with BUSY said in a faux-sexy voice as if he's implying they've both been doing other people, then he spontaneously starts talking about Kai Winn while he and Kira are about to make out, then starts weirdly saying that he doesn't get why she and Dax are friends because Dax is unpredictable (?). I know the line is there to set up Kira taking it the *wrong* way, but what was the right way to take that? I mean, I guess he is already starting to perv on Dax, is what we are led to believe, or maybe he is already affected by the spell (?), but, you know. What?

Anyway, 1 star is fair -- but I will say that I don't find this episode as hard to watch as the A-plot in "Meridian."
Odo Ito
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
Lwaxana isn't a slut, she's a harasser. What she's been doing to Odo is nothing but sexual harassment.

Nana Visitor on the other hand is the worst kissing actor I've seen. Whether it's Bareill or Bashir, what she sells as kissing looks like it's from the 1950s. That's why the scenes with her working even less than anything else - you can clearly tell she's not comfortable doing this. And not just in this episode.

Overall, I find this episode at least watchable. The plot is stupid, but gets some laughs out of me.
"Meridian" on the other hand doesn't work at all, with it's forced romance and Dax being all kinds of silly. Here at least everybody has an excuse.

But yeah, it'S another totally pointless episode that doesn't advance characters or plot, just 45 minutes of filler that should have been used for more important things.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
Well that was a desperate, desperate misfire. All we needed was a vicar with his trousers falling down for the full farce experience. And you have to say that after an episode full of unlikely hook-ups that to say they were underpinned by a level of latent attraction....? You say what now? Justifying the unjustifiable!

Ironically, the Keiko/O'Brien story felt much more grounded in reality. Indeed, on such a farcical episode as this it almost seemed too grounded. Neither of them come out of it looking good, which really makes you wonder what the point was.

Best moment - when Dax punches out Bareil. But still only 1 star...
Luka
Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 1:30am (UTC -6)
Anyone else felt kinda bad for Lwaxana? She was a beautiful and charming woman and kept getting turned down. It's sad that Majel Barrett is no longer with us.
James
Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 4:36am (UTC -6)
Luka - not really. Lwaxana was an attention-seeking drama queen who, as we find out, was married the whole time.

RIP Majel Barrett. Who will play the voice of the computer in the new series?
Jason
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 11:39am (UTC -6)
You people are way too serious. I had fun the entire way through.
icarus32soar
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 8:48am (UTC -6)
Ta Jason,indeed some need to lighten up; some people on this thread, like Henry James in TS Eliot's famous words "have minds so finely tuned that no new thought can possibly penetrate them". They have no sense of humour, and mistake a fun ep for a bad ep, just because, without a shred of narrative, dramatic or cinematic evidence. Some ST is positively wasted on some Trekkies.
JC
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 9:47am (UTC -6)
Ha, I actually really liked this episode. I wouldn't ... recommend it to anybody, but it was kind of funny and a change of pace. It was more like a complete DS9 parody. I was actually a little bummed that we didn't get to see any awkward post virus closure between the characters; I think the ending was the biggest missed humor opportunity.

I always enjoy Miles and Keiko, as well, it was nice to see them on the screen together even in a joke episode.

Regardless of how ludicrous this episod, by the time the credits rolled I had more laughs and facepalms than any other episode, and even though DS9 isn't supposed to be a comedy, and this wasnt exactly the best job of it, I think it's fair to give the writers one or two joke episodes among a series of dozens.
Luke
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 12:42am (UTC -6)
"'Fascination' has a sort of manic energy that, ironically, might be most appropriate on stage." I've never thought about it that way but that's exactly right. This might make a half-way decent stage play.

I'll confess - I don't hate this episode. It's certainly not good by any stretch of the imagination, but there are things I like about it. The punchlines almost universally fall flat (Quark's "Commander, you throw one hell of a party" is about the only exception. The match-ups are actually kind of disturbing - Dax knocking Bareil to the floor especially so (basically this virus causes people to give into their subconscious desires and hers is to assault people who annoy her?) The Bashir/Kira make-out scenes are cringe-worthy in the extreme. Seriously, that has to be the worst "kissing" scene I've ever seen in any TV show or movie! And Lwaxana Troi is once again used inappropriately after being used really well in "Dark Page" and "The Forsaken".

But, I do really like watching the characters having a sort of celebration. Trek has never really done holidays before. There's no Space Christmas, no Space Thanksgiving, no Space Halloween, no Federation Day (which I would assume would be the equivalent of the Fourth of July). So it's nice to see something like the Bajoran Gratitude Festival (even if it's not very well developed - all they do is write notes and then burn them?!). It gives us some good camera work, more "energy" than normal and even a more vibrant color scheme. And, it's just downright enjoyable to see these people just taking a day off, kicking back and having a good time. Not everything has to be work, work, work. I mean, who wants to imagine a future where you'll never have the prospect of a three-day weekend or a good old-fashioned St. Patrick's Day style party? Well, I mean aside from Gene Roddenberry that is. :-P

The B-plot, on the other hand, suffers no problems. This quote from O'Brien says it all...."You're right. I'm an idiot, sometimes. When I don't get my way, I can be selfish and childish and pigheaded. I said some things to you that were pretty stupid. I wish I could take them back. But even if it's too late for that, there's one thing I want you to know, Keiko. I love you. I always have, and I always will. I want you to know I've left a letter of resignation on Commander Sisko's desk. I'm ready to move down to Bajor with you tomorrow, if you'll have me. And after that if you want to move back to Earth, that's okay too. I'll do whatever it takes. I just don't want to lose you."

MAGNIFIQUE!! I wish I spoke French so I could adequately express how much I love this. After all the complaining I've done about Trek never having characters sacrifice their careers for a relationship I want to make love to this scene and be the father of its children! Even if it doesn't end with O'Brien leaving with Keiko (because we know that wouldn't, couldn't, happen), just the fact that the writers were willing to have O'Brien make the offer was wonderfully satisfying.

So, please don't hate me for this, but....

5/10
Robert
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -6)
@Luke - LOL, no... you can give it your 5/10. I don't like this episode and 5/10 is a bit high, but I don't hate it either and O'Brien's plot is a nice focus on a relationship that sometimes doesn't work well.

But people hate Lwaxana and the O'Brien's relationship so this is going to be panned HARD in Trek, when the reality is that it's a perfectly good 2 star episode.

2 stars is far from "highly recommended" or anything, but I'd never suggest to anybody that it's a waste of an hour or that they should skip it.
Dinner Jacket
Sun, Apr 10, 2016, 12:23am (UTC -6)
I'll take this episode over Meridian any day of the week. At least Terry Farrell was good eye candy in the dress if nothing else.
SteveRage
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
I think Jammer got the scores for this and Meridian the wrong way round. Where as Meridian was utter dreck, at least this was a bit of fun. I have no problems with zany and wacky sometimes... plus I thought Sisko was a blast trying to deal with all the shananigans.

2.5 stars
Welchie!!!!!
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
What the hell did I just watch? I didn't like or love it but it was million times more watchable than "Meridian". The humour was mostly flat, but since I have grown to love these characters it wasn't a terrible ordeal sitting down to watch it. If it was a TNG episode I would have been filled with rage and hatred. This episode is easily a 257,976 out of 125,860,730,133.
Vii
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 10:17am (UTC -6)
Oh come on, this episode wasn't THAT bad. It was way more watchable than Meridian, which was a bit of a snooze. This one had loads of hilarious moments - ie Jadzia making off with Bareil's engagement bracelet, Bareil decking Sisko then being clocked by Jadzia, actually any scene with Bareil was pure comedy gold. Also the way she hid behind Sisko whist he tried to fend off Bareil's advances for her, and saying 'You tell him, Benjamin!' HAHA!

I thought this was a lot better than The Naked Now. TNN was so campy it was embarrassing. This ep on the other hand is a light comedy, not to be taken too seriously, and there are several genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
Peter G.
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -6)
You tell 'em, Vii.

That being said, I now know one person who literally watched this as their very first ep of DS9 and concluded that it was a stupid show, never to watch it again. So there is that :/
Matsu
Thu, May 4, 2017, 9:02am (UTC -6)
"You people are way too serious. I had fun the entire way through. "

Seconded. But that was only expected on this site. Utterly hilarious episode.
Rahul
Thu, Jun 8, 2017, 9:13pm (UTC -6)
What I did just watch?? Utterly silly episode that doesn't achieve what I think its objective is, which is to show the lighter side of life on DS9. The contrivance of Laxwana's virus just makes things stupid and with how easily it's resolved in the end.
Let's face it: the actors on DS9 aren't great actors. Their characters can have good interactions but the humor in "Fascination" doesn't accomplish anything - no character development or insight. Trek can do humor very well with good actors like TOS's "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "A Piece of the Action."
I admit I shuddered when Laxwana appeared - I do feel it is bad that for such an important actress in the Trek canon that she plays a mostly annoying character. She's a decent actress. She plays the role very well but it's such an annoying role.
I found the Miles/Keiko subplot painful - Keiko is annoying and Miles erupting in the bar was out of character. It is good to attempt to show the struggling marriage but how they do it work for me.
As for Bareil - he drags down episodes with his wooden acting but here I thought he was more interesting as a love-struck fool. He was less wooden here. It was more silliness with his attacking Sisko and getting decked by Dax.
0.5 stars out of 4 for me - worst DS9 episode I've seen thus far.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

I took my time deciding whether to post a reply to the following, and ultimately decided to do so:

"Let's face it: the actors on DS9 aren't great actors."

Taking this literally, I guess none of them are like Anthony Hopkins, no. But I take it rather to mean that they aren't that strong as actors. Instead of contesting this based on my experience or opinion, instead - for those posters who somehow feel that one or more actors on DS9 were weak or worse than on other series (like Voyager, heh) - I'll suggest a real-world litmus test and who is and isn't a strong action. And that test is to see who is working regularly and who isn't. The market itself, and other producers in film and TV are probably a good barometer of how good an actor is, or at least how presentable they are (which can be for reasons other than skill, including looks).

I love TNG and can hardly say enough good things about it. But look at the actors there. Do any of them really get work other than Patrick Stewart? And I would actually argue that some of them are quite good, including Frakes and Dorn, but others such as Sirtis and Spiner - well, let's just say they had a big break but were probably not suited to much more than that show. And Spiner really stole the show as Data more often than not, and even so I would say his range was probably limited to that character.

Now take a look at Voyager; who on that show gets real work? Mulgrew, of course. She was known before Voyager and I'd defend her any day despite how they wrote her character on the show. But what about the others? I've never seen almost any of them in anything else, except for Robert Picardo who gets the odd job I've seen. And of course he was the most celebrated cast member, so that figures.

Enterprise suffers from similar issues with its cast despite Bakula who was already famous. Although to be fair I do occasionally see Connor Trinneer (Trip) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm) do stuff, so at least there's that for that show.

But now look at DS9. We have Avery Brooks, who while by no means being a noteworthy actor, at least did have a prominent role in American History X. But of the others, Rene Auberjonois works all the time both on screen and on the stage, Colm Meaney also gets tons of work (and starred on Broadway with Kevin Spacey), Alexander Siddig works a lot and even gets the occasional high-profile gig (like on Game of Thrones), and Armin Shimmerman is very well known and happens to do a lot of work for the actors' union (iirc he was the President of Equity or something like that). Nana Visitor and Terry Farrell arguably fall in with most Trek cast members whose main career event was being cast in a Trek show. But most of this cast are serious working actors who get a lot of significant work.

The numbers speak for themselves, not that this in some way apologizes for this episode in particular (which I like but understand why most people hate it). And yeah, I do agree that in general Bareil was too wooden to be interesting much of the time, although on repeated re-watches I find that he does contribute something substantial to the world that can get lost on a first viewing.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
Whoa, first paragraph should read: "I'll suggest a real-world litmus test of who is and isn't a strong actor."
Rahul
Sun, Jul 2, 2017, 10:22pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.,

Thanks for replying.

I think you analyzed whether or not the actors are good in a logical way - i.e. what other parts do they get. That's useful to understand.

Thinking about things more and having seen more episodes of DS9, TNG, VOY, ENT (I've already seen all the TOS episodes) - I actually think DS9 is one of the better acted series along with TNG - better than VOY and ENT - but less so than TOS.

I think overall, the actors take on these Trek roles, and by and large that defines them. Perhaps some of the blame should fall on the writing/directing. But even within Trek, it seems to me that enough main actors aren't that compelling. I still find Brooks, Farrell, Siddig to be nothing special. However, I do think Auberjonois and Visitor are the 2 best on DS9. Shimerman's ok.

In re-reading my review of this episode, I think it left a particularly bad taste in my mouth, but what this episode provides is an opportunity to see these actors behave in an atypical way for the character. And I don't think they pulled it off very well. I think Shatner had a few episodes where he had to play very different personalities and did it quite well ("Turnabout Intruder", "The Enemy Within", "The Paradise Syndrome" for example).
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 14, 2017, 12:51am (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

I too don't think the acting in this one is the best. Actually what I enjoy about it is oddly the perverse directing, which tickles me even though it is bizarre for Trek. I'm surprised they let it happen, actually.

I think Siddig is easy to underrate because he often gets sort of facile treatment from the scripts (the whole I'M A DOCTOR syndrome endemic to Trek past TOS). I also agree that TOS had the best performances of any Trek series.
Brian
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 3:20am (UTC -6)
It seems like Jammer and some others (one of who came out and said it) almost refuse to accept a comedy episode when it occasionally appears, and judge it as though the show was meant to be serious. I don't mind the occasional funny show, and yes I thought this one was actually funny, and I think it works. The Miles and Koko stuff does strain credulity a bit but since this is a comedy I don't really mind. I generally have similar tastes to Jammer on the high rated episodes and I love "darker" sci fi as much as anybody (loved BSG) but unlike a lot of you that doesnt make me allergic to the Farengi and other light episodes, I tend to like them as well (with the noted exceptions of "Let He Who is With Out Sin..." and "Profit and Lace").
grumpy_otter
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
Well, it was no Naked Now/Time, but I thought it was fun, mostly.

I enjoy episodes when we just get to see characters doing their thing without some great tragedy on the horizon, and I actually thought the way they explained the virus was pretty cool. I had assumed it was just going to be some random disease--that it was coming from Lawaxana was fun. But as others have noted--they sure did mishandle Majel. She's shown she can be insightful and restrained--I wish we'd seen her like that more.

I also enjoy seeing various festivals from different cultures, so seeing that was nice, too.
Nolan Campbell
Mon, Jul 16, 2018, 12:28am (UTC -6)
lwaxana Troi, Keiko O’Brian, A 16 year old boy going after someone nearly twice his age, and a whole lot of Bajoran ritual bullshit. A perfect combo for a loser episode. Cringeworthy at every turn. Particularly Keiko. Did the writers intentially want us to hate her? If so it’s working. This is half a star at most. Maybe the worst episode so far.
Iceman
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 10:27am (UTC -6)
"Fascination" maybe isn't quite as bad as "Meridian", but it's a terrible episode regardless. The plot just doesn't work on tv. It's incredibly forced, awkward, and cringeworthy. I also hated the subplot. On the plus side, it's not offensively bad, just impossible to take seriously or really enjoy.

1.5 stars.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 2:46pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

Jake is a sad boy. It's the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, some kind of cross between Yamin Noraim, Thanksgiving and a state fair. Oof. Mardah has left DS9 for school and so she and her underaged companion have broken up. To remind us exactly why any argument that Jake has the maturity to handle an adult relationship is bunk, he crosses his arms and petulantly refuses to have any fun. Well, this is exciting.

Meanwhile, O'Brien is looking forward to a visit from Keiko and Molly. And so is Bashir it turns out. I guess their man-dates aren't doing the trick for Miles.

BASHIR: You know what all those games have proved to me? That I'm a poor substitute for your wife... I don't think my elbow can take that kind of abuse.

I always award points for subversive sex jokes on Star Trek. So, point.

What else? Nana Visitor is grinning like an idiot. Kira is helping decorate for the Festival and Odo is making an effort to “immerse himself in [humanoid] rituals.” Methinks he'd rather immerse himself in Kira if you know what I mean. [Give that man a point!] Unfortunately for him, and for us, Kira is expecting Vedek Driftwood to wash up on the station for the Festival. Sorry, Odo.

Miles and Kira await their sex-partners' transport together. Driftwood emerges, as horny a priest as ever, and walks off with Kira. Keiko follows, exhausted and decidedly not horny. One explanation might be their daughter, whose adorable smile belies the fact that she's not feeling well and bestows upon her dad that ancient symbol of gratitude, a lap full of vomit. Speaking of nausea, there's one more passenger to greet—Daughter of the Sacred House of Cards or whatever, Lwaxana Troi. Ah, gratitude.

Act 1 : *, 17%

Odo is briefing his substitute Gestapo agent—a gold shirt who isn't Michael Eddington because, I guess he's been on vacation for three months. Lwaxana lets herself in, of course, and greets him. Now, I thought “The Forsaken” was a pretty good season 1 episode, and that the Lwaxana/Odo material was the best part. Since then, we saw Lwaxana in “Dark Page”--an episode that I think failed on multiple levels—BUT—at least we did get to see Lwaxana in a light consistent with her better appearances, like “The Forsaken” and “Half a Life.” Pierrot characters like her or Neelix, eventually, work for me, so long as the “sad” part of the sad clown is present. If it's all clown, it becomes very irritating, very quickly. And wouldn't you know it, she's being insufferable.

She has learned of the backstory from “The Search II,” and has taken it upon herself to let Odo melt in her lap again to “delve into the pain.” Way to take a lovely organic moment and commodify it. That's fucking endearing. As she heads off to her quarters to ready herself for the festival, she is overcome by a headache, which are always totally innocuous in Star Trek. Totally.

Kira and Driftwood are engaging in their usual idiom of using plot exposition as sexual foreplay. We learn that Bitchwhore has made him a chief advisor to her reign of theocratic terror. But don't worry, the Prophets have a plan. Mhm. Kira decides she suddenly doesn't have time for sex, and Driftwood retaliates by complaining about how he doesn't like Jadzia.

Meanwhile, the O'Briens' reunion is somehow even less sexy. Keiko is a ball of stress, and I'm sorry to say, being written like an unreasonable shrew. I have always liked her character but all this DBI sitcom-trope-y insufferable wife stuff is pathetic and annoying. I feel for Miles.

And so begins the festival complete with some Cirque-du-soleil bullshit, high-school chemistry and the burning of little sheets of paper. Jake has a headache like Troi and then starts drooling over something. Oh good. It's one of *those* plots.

Act 2 : .5 stars, 17%

Turns out Jake was drooling over Kira as he almost impales her with a Jumja stick (ahem) while she's on a walk with Driftwood. While Jake is confessing his love for Kira, Driftwood is making the moves on Jadzia, you know, because he hates her. Completing this threnody of sexual harassment is Lwaxana forcing Odo to dance with her like fucking Pepe le Pew. Oh god, then Dax is having a headache, Quark is up-selling religious artefacts...there are jugglers...

Keiko and Miles discuss her gruelling new career, and she informs him that her assignment is going to take several more months than originally planned, and so the happy couple are fighting again. Both O'Briens are being rather tactless and generally very bad at being married people. Yay gratitude!

Act 3 : .5 stars, 17%

Jake is flailing about the promenade looking for Kira like some kind of horny teenaged Gollum. Sisko stops him (yeah, weird directing choice here, Brooks) and lets him know that he probably shouldn't pursue Kira. I don't hate that Sisko is trying to be a good dad here and protect Jake from heartache (as he should have done with Mardah), but this sincerity doesn't gel with the manic goofball nature of the, erm, I guess we'll call this a plot.

Sigh...so Quark gives Miles some sociological advice. Miles is unhappy because he was foolish enough to grant his wife freedom of movement, clothing and general autonomy. Yeah...let's hear him make this little speech to Mistress Grilka. Anyway, Miles' brush with...Brett Kavanaugh here is enough to convince him to find Keiko and apologise.

Kira bumps into her boyfriend, in an attempt to bump pelvises before dinner, but he's still on the hunt for Dax, putting Kira right into the friendship zone. Speaking of Jadzia, she's early to Sisko's for dinner. Sisko is again striking too a serious tone, concerned that Driftwood is cheating on his first officer, but this again contradicts the absurd mood when a post-headache Dax starts making the moves on Sisko.

Act 4 : *, 17%

When Sisko drags Jadzia off to the infirmary, she plays the whole thing off as a practical joke...and Kira is miserable...and Keiko is miserable...and then Miles' apology doesn't make a dent in his wife's armour so he's miserable, too. Sigh...apparently, Miles thinks this one fight might make Keiko *leave* him, so he's offering to resign or move or whatever it takes to keep her. Yikes. Of course, Keiko does nothing to assuage this irrational fear, leaving poor Miles even more dejected. Yay, gratitude!

For a fleeting moment, the characters begin to piece together that something goofy is happening, but then it's right back to headaches and Kira and Bashir are all over each other. Ugh.

Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

So just about all the main cast is either sexually harassing someone or being sexually-harassed by someone at Sisko's party. Sisko and Odo still haven't had any headaches, so you'd think one of them would call red alert or something. Bashir and Kira literally cannot keep their hands off each other. But no, the party must continue and the HR lawsuits pile up. Let's see...Jake and Miles are being sad boys together, but Keiko makes her appearance in that red dress he likes, and apparently she's decided that his gesture is enough to convince her not to get a divorce. Yikes, there's a stable relationship. And finally, the episode bottoms out with a farcical fist-fight between Driftwood, Sisko and Dax. Oh dear god, I lied. Quark gets himself a Lwaxana headache and starts groping Keiko (there's the basement) in plain view of Sisko and Odo who finally realise that the Betazoid is the culprit. She stares at them blankly, with all the dignity of a gorilla throwing semen at onlookers at the zoo.

So yeah, Lwaxana, because she's a horny old lady, has been causing the people around her to manifest latent sexual attractions and become unable to control those impulses with her crazy old-lady sex telepathy. Sisko quarantines the horny idiots and the day is saved, I guess. Lwaxana makes the subtext regarding Odo's attraction to Kira text, harasses the Changeling one more time and leaves. Keiko and Molly depart and Bashir comforts his friend by offering to make his elbow sore again. Ahem.

Episode as Functionary : 0 stars, 10%

Most of this episode is one gigantic DBI. The character interaction, aside from the sci-fi nonsense with Troi, is plausible, but is just so fucking tedious and banal. Save a the innuendo between Miles and Julian and the Quark/Miles scene, none of the jokes land. It's truly remarkable how immature the Trek writers tend to be when it comes to sex, descending to “Three's Company” levels of snickering pablum.

But this episode couldn't be content with being a failed comedy, no it had to have a serious plot to do serious damage to the O'Briens. Since neither Keiko or Miles were affected by Lwaxana's telepathic black fly, their mutually erratic behaviour should spell disaster for their marriage. But hey, she put on the dress, so, you know, gratitude!

And tragically, the Lwaxana/Odo stuff, which drives the entire plot, is given almost no examination. There's a sort of hint that they're both sad lonely people who could comfort each other, but really this is being generous, not to mention relying almost entirely on the backstory from “The Forsaken.” Another episode to skip.

Final Score : .5 stars
William B
Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -6)
I think in addition to the other problems with this episode, the way Lwaxana's attraction to Odo creates a psychic horniness bomb that surrounds the station sort of undermines the sweetness of Lwaxana and Odo. I think to some degree to go for the actual Shakespearean supernatural romantic comedy (Midsummer Night's Dream) vibe and to allow the pathos of Lwaxana to come forward, there should be somewhat more of a non-sexual component to the romantic longing that we see the characters engaged in.
Elliott
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
@William B

If memory serves, her last appearance in season 4 will redeem this somewhat, but yes, it's really a shame that all we get out of their relationship here is the ew-Granny-sex trope milked for sitcom laughs. Remembering the way she removed her wig and cradled Odo in "The Forsaken" makes their relationship here seem even more paltry and shallow than as written. I think Lwaxana is ideal to be written as this story's Oberon, but alas, the writers were too intent on snickering about sex to realise this possibility. I'm seeing a picture of Ira Behr with the caption "I am enamoured of an ass."
William B
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott, Yeah, although deeply strange and with some big contrivances, the Odo/Lwaxana plot in The Muse is okay and I think sort of wraps up her character story (from both shows) somewhat well.

I should add, the horniness bomb plot could have also been used better as an avenue to explore the character relationships (duh), and, in particular, what sexual attraction actually means besides the physical, what relationships are covering some other feeling that goes unexpressed, etc. IIRC you were down on about Conundrum when you commented on it, but the Riker/Ro story there does seem to suggest that underlying Riker and Ro's tempestuous abrasiveness is a kind of mutual respect, an excitement at pushing the other's buttons, a kind of unharnessed, improvisational energy...and not only does this say something about Riker and Ro, but arguably also about Riker's interactions with Shelby, Lavelle, and Tom Riker. It's not that Riker wants to have sex with...himself but that he tends to react badly to people who display traits in himself, but that is partly because he recognizes similarities, which in other cases he actually *really likes* to see reflected back at him. That this all happens when he's under a spell (sorry, memory-alteration technology) that demotes him to second officer from first and thus relieves his responsibility a bit and also removes certain painful conscious memories (say of his push-pull with his father or of his loss of his mother) and expectations for himself which maybe plague him more than he'd admit (regarding his ambivalence about command and Troi) makes sense. I can't think of anything in this episode, at least off-hand, that seems to have a similar character insight. I guess that the spell, I mean, psychic whatever wasn't affecting Miles when he defended Keiko sort of qualifies, but not even that far (how desperate a state is their marriage supposed to be in that "oh, there are still feelings there" is a reveal?).
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
I don't think it requires any sort of special character explanation about why someone would have attraction to someone else. In fact, the fact that it's so meaningless and random is exactly why it makes sense to portray it as arbitrary. Would a teenager have a crush on Kira? Sure, why not? It doesn't require fleshing that out because there's nothing to flesh out. It's a reality that people have irrelevant crushes sometimes that simply don't mean much other than the other person excites them on some level.

While on a writing level I might question why, specifically, they had Bareil go for Dax, as that was a weird one in particular, but in practice the arrangement seems to have been to daisy-chain the attractions so that they formed a choo-choo train of one-way idealization: Jake to Kira, Kira to Bareil, Bareil to Dax, Dax to Sisko, and I guess Sisko to no one? The Kira/Bashir one is an easter egg write-off because it's just a tongue in cheek joke about the fact that the actors were seeing each other (or married by that point, I don't know the dates). So I guess Bareil had to go for Dax to 'complete' the scenario, so fair enough I say. Asking for reason behind these things makes about as much sense as demanding reasons why you might suddenly be attracted to some person you know or run into. That there could be an actual reason for the Dax --> Sisko attraction is almost beside the point, although internally it's the more 'guessable' of them all. But real life shows us there's no need to assume things need to be guessable, or even make sense. Attraction just happens. In a case where those attractions became amplified greatly I don't wonder that things wouldn't become just as chaotic as they do in the episode.

And actually this is a much sanitized version of Midsummer Night's Dream, the latter of which really is just all about sex.
William B
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
I guess for me, it's just that Lwaxana's attraction to Odo, while being heavily a sexual attraction, is also really personal and specifically about who Odo is, and who Lwaxana is, and what she sees in him as a person, and, in particular, how her seeing him as a potential sexual partner is related to her being someone who intuitively sees him as fully a person than the false role of the shapeshifting notion of justice temporarily made flesh. As a result, I feel letdown that Lwaxana's feelings for Odo become the basis for purely physical crushes that have no deeper reason whatsoever. I do like the meta-joke of Kira and Bashir, though, at least as an idea (I forget how it plays on screen for me).
William B
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:38pm (UTC -6)
Although, yeah, this does have the advantage of drawing a contrast between the sexually charged but still love-based Lwaxana => Odo, Odo => Kira (possibly sexual) & Miles < = > Keiko (and maybe Kira/Bareil I guess) on the one hand and the vacuous, temporary, shifting sexual crushes that make up the story, so it's not without merit.
Elliott
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:42pm (UTC -6)
AMSND is definitely about sex, but it is a profound yet comical exploration of the topic, not a sophomoric exploitation of the topic like in this episode.
William B
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
Thinking some more, I guess I should elaborate that if I really enjoyed the episode as comedy, I wouldn't be that critical that there doesn't seem to be big character insight. I mean, yeah, it's true that crushes don't have to be for a deeper reason, and I'm not really saying that it's a "plot hole" or whatever that it doesn't work out that way. I don't really enjoy the episode for what it's doing, and so it makes me wonder about what the episode could have done to bring me around more. However, that's not really fair to the episode, which I don't like but is just trying something different than I want it to, and so while it's fun to speculate about what I might have enjoyed more, the "lack of insight" thing is not actually an episode flaw.

I fully admit that I was in "this is why it sucks" mode. I do think the episode undermines the sweetness of Lwaxana's feelings for Odo and stand by both the criticism and the tone I was using there, but on the "lack of character insight" point I should say I should have been in "wishlist" mode rather than "sucks" mode.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
"AMSND is definitely about sex, but it is a profound yet comical exploration of the topic, not a sophomoric exploitation of the topic like in this episode."

Well, like I said, Fascination is very sanitized. In AMSND there is cruelty as well in regard to the crushes in the forest, and possible topics in exploitation and infidelity involving Bottom and the Fairies, so it definitely looks at the matter from many more angles than Fascination does. But honestly I think the biggest difference between the two is that AMSND's sophomoric situation is portrayed through simply superior writing, and that makes all the difference. Fascination is just not clever enough to be a comic coup, which it sort of had to be. But despite these setbacks I thought Brooks did a good job keeping the fun in it and making sure it never got dark. It's actually so silly that it's hard to take seriously, which is perhaps why I like it but also why others hate it. I mean, they're not any sillier here than in your average buffo opera.
Elliott
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

DS9 has done good comedy—I would welcome an amusing farce, but this basically fails to be funny. There’s one joke: people who normally don’t want to have sex want to have sex now! Opera buffa, while still pretty shallow, tends to derive its comedy from mocking class conventions. Quark has frequently been lecherous and disrespectful toward women, so what’s the joke when he goes after Keiko? Jake’s while trying apparently is being into older ladies, so what’s the joke?
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
I like the episode because it's fun, but I generally agree that it's not funny. And it does need to be funny to work on the level it wants, and so the result is a fun and occasionally funny romp. That in itself is still not objectionable to me, it just means it could have been much more. I mean, Q-Pid barely passes muster any more than this does in terms of justifying its silliness but I've always enjoyed watching that one. You almost get your money's worth from the classic "I am not a merry man" and breaking the guitar, even if the plot is paper thin and Q's reason for proving anything ridiculous. Similarly, the structure of this episode doesn't hold up but when I know the writers are just going for something silly I like to roll with it if I can. In Profit and Lace I absolutely cannot because it's abhorrent. But here, and in The Magnificent Ferengi, and Q-Pid, I can. It's not awesome, but I do like it. And for the analogy to the merry man line, Sisko's face when Bareil tries to hit him is priceless to me. And I do get a lot of mileage out of the Bashir/Kira scene, as they make it maximally awkward with the sloppy kisses on purpose. And maybe this is something I shouldn't want, but I like that Bareil was made to look foolish for a change, which helps since I normally find him unbearably wooden. As an adult I see more in him than I did when I was younger, but all the same I was pleased that they gave him something fun to do here.
MadStupid
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 3:50am (UTC -6)
Peldar cringe
Springy
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 9:46am (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--O'Brien and Bashir with a good scene about O'Brien missing his family. But they're due for a visit. Bariel coming too. And Lwaxana!! Yuh-oh.

--Bajoran 26-hr Thanksgiving. They burn papers instead of the turkey.

--Lwaxana is so very overbearing. Why does no one "just say no?"

--Keiko and Miles on edge. Their banter is so good though. Very at home, every day, when both partners are feeling anxious.

--Quark with a Bajoran earring on his massive ear.

--Something going wrong with everyone. Very, very boring so far.

--Dysfunction at the holidays is traditional, but this makes my family look pretty good.

--Lame explanation. Oh, the stupidity.

--Keiko and O'Brien are the only saving grace.

Pass the potatoes.
Springy
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 10:48am (UTC -6)
After reading commentary:

William B said: "I take Keiko's standoffishness early on as being the result both of being tired and of trying to figure out how to bring up the idea of staying for another few months."

Agree, though I also had the strong impression that Keiko had had to endure Lwaxana's overbearing manner and non-stop chatter the whole trip, while Lwaxana kept giving Molly candy (no doubt despite Keiko's objections).

They're both on edge and anxious about seeing each other again. I think there's some suggestion, for Miles, that reality isn't meeting his fantasies of Keiko coming off the shuttle, glowing, adoring, fresh as a daisy, and preferably in a tight dress. And for Keiko, Miles disappoints her dreams of a smiling, encouraging, Miles, with his knee-jerk reaction to the need for another two months on Bajor.

It's all normal marriage/relationship stuff - and the ep is about reality vs fantasy. For the O'Briens, we see that their bond is ultimately based in reality.

This ep is bad, but not as bad as Meridian or Move Along Home. There's the O'Briens, a saving grace for me, and there the fact that it's meant to be a farce. It's a badly done farce, yes. But to me, that's better than a farce that is posing as something more.
Peter G.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
@ Springy,

Funny enough, I'm not sure I agree that the "realistic" portrayal of the O'Briens is a saving grace; for me it actually drags down the episode, and in particular makes Keiko look bad. Sure, relationships can actually be like this, but I don't really see the value in digging into how things can fail to live up to expectation when there's basically no redemptive element in how it's shown. "Things can suck"...ok, yeah...but what about the value of working through them? That element has to be there, or else it just ends up looking like a screed against marriage.

Contrast that with all the 'fascination' scenarios we see, where the mystique of realizing for the first time how wonderful someone is has people falling over themselves. In a way it's not surprising that it's only shown as being romantic/sexual, but the basic idea of seeing someone you already know and going "wow, how did I not see that before" is actually a beautiful one. And that's the sort of thing that should be happening in a marriage as well: you see your spouse, who you know, and yet allow yourself to re-experience the surprise of how amazing they are, as if for the first time. That would be the ideal, in any case, and maybe showing how that could be difficult - but still possible - would have been a better way to frame the O'Briens here. But just showing that all the mystery and romance is gone, that I do not need, and especially since in some other episodes they actually do show that the fire isn't burned out for the two of them.

Despite it being written and shot in an often silly and broad manner, I do like the portrayal of people fully acting out those little moments we can have of a spark welling up inside us when we see someone with great qualities. We don't act on them, of course, but an outer exploration of just how significant and powerful those sparks are strikes me as being well within bounds of good storytelling. My main problem here is that they don't really use it here to tell us something meaningful about the characters. Like, how does it help us to know that Bareil may secretly crush a little on Dax? It's totally useless and in fact we basically have to scrub it from our minds to retain our sanity. But on the other hand the Dax->Sisko attraction actually could have led to something fruitful if they had dared to go there, but maybe it's better they didn't. But at least there was the *potential* of something interesting there.

My point is just that I actually like the idea of expanding on secret and even small 'likes' towards others, whereas portraying Keiko as a harpy not only doesn't help us to appreciate others, but actually poisons us towards appreciating their marriage. So I guess for me that's my least favorite part of the episode, despite being the most sensible.
Iceman
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G-

The whole subplot is just a depressing drag that tells us nothing new, except further impress on us that the Miles/Keiko relationship should probably end very soon. It doesn't help that the acting is very stilted.
Springy
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Keiko, up to this point in TNG or DS9, has yet to be portrayed as a harpy.

In this episode, she starts out tired and irritated after a long trip that included dealing with Lwaxana Troi. This disappoints Miles. She and Miles are both on edge and have some minor communication issues, snipping at each other a bit. But then they go out for a nice dinner. Things are going well, but during dinner Miles disappoints Keiko with his angry reaction to her desire to stay two extra months, and there's a bit more snipping.

Miles regrets his anger, and very sincerely apologizes through the bedroom door. Keiko, still hurt from Miles' angry outburst, asks for time to think. She realizes how wonderful what he has just said to her was, and she puts on his favorite red dress to go find him and tell him how much she loves and appreciates him.

They're all happy smiles when they say goodbye.

That's how it played for me, and I'm mystified by the comments about Keiko being bitchy, divorce on the horizon, etc. They clearly love and appreciate and are physically attracted to each other. They've both made sacrifices for one another, over the years. They love their child. They have a good marriage.

While I agree that it serves no good purpose to portray Keiko as a harpy, I disagree with the notion that she has been portrayed as a harpy.
Cody B
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 3:31am (UTC -6)
Prejudice because of Luxwana Troi. This is atleast 2.5 stars if not three. The story isn’t deep but there is good acting and the episode keeps your attention. Some genuine funny stuff.
Hapworth
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
Gul Sengosts nailed it in his March 27, 2015 post. "Fascination" is a pretty obvious attempt at Shakespearean fantastical comedy, with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" being the clear template. There is the partner switching, the revelry, the heavily unreal atmosphere that hangs over everything. Still, the episode is a mess, but it at least becomes a more noble failure when one sees that the writers were not simply lost in the wilderness. They were aiming for something but missed the mark.
Mike
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
I felt embarrassed for the actors. Absolutely awful. Nearly stopped watching, but I am currently binge-watching the entire series, so gutted it out. Cringe-worthy.
NoPoet
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 6:37pm (UTC -6)
Any more episodew like this and I'm calling the Angry Marines.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Tue, Jun 11, 2019, 8:15am (UTC -6)
Noped out at the netflix episode blurb, came here to check my suspicions. Skip!
Daniel B
Tue, Jul 16, 2019, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
^ Eh, it's not nearly as bad as most of the complaints here make it sound. Dumb, somewhat silly. That's about it. Bareil trying to fight Sisko is actually hilarious - Sisko is clearly not threatened by him but isn't sure how to tactfully defuse the situation, and then Jadzia just walks up and slugs him.
Mary
Wed, Jul 17, 2019, 10:31pm (UTC -6)
I agree with you, Springy! I winced quite a lot of the time watching Keiko and Miles, but she is not a harpy. They are both strong-willed people, and they have differences, but they truly love each other. The realism of their relationship was contrasted with the craziness going on around them. I like both of them, and their marriage.

And I actually enjoyed this episode. The one element that makes ME cringe is actually Lwaxana Troi and the way she treats Odo. Someone further up in the comments said she basically harasses him. It's true. And it's a pity, because their previous encounter showed her capable of being kind, discreet, and even wise.

But, for the rest, this was a light episode that often made me smile, and that had a truly loving marriage at its core. I'd probably rate it 2 or 2.5 stars.

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