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Friday, 15 December 2017

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 2-09: Second Sight (Quick Review)

Episode:29|Writer:Mark Gehred-O'Connell & Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe|Air Date:21-Nov-1993

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'm starting to think they should've given Colm Meaney some sci-fi googles before setting off sparks right in his face.

I'm up to episode 29 of Deep Space Nine, the second season's Second Sight, which is the first episode to feature Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe writing together as a team. The two of them together would later give us some of the very best episodes of the whole series... and a bunch of those crappy Ferengi episodes too. There's no Ferengi in this one, but I remember hating it anyway, so I'm going to be lazy and only give it a quick review, without the long recap.

There'll still be SPOILERS though, for this and earlier episodes of Star Trek, so consider yourself forewarned.

Second Sight is basically a story about Sisko falling in love with someone's self-insert fanfic character that she created in her dreams as a solid telepathic projection to escape her marriage because her husband's ego was literally killing her.

But forget that for a moment, because the scene in this screencap has ruined every external shot of the Deep Space Nine station for me. It's a beautiful view from one of the pylons with the stars going by as the room turns, but seeing the station filmed from a static camera like this makes it really obvious that despite its rotation the shadows never change. It stood out to me because I can't think of any other reason why the station would spin other than to give everyone a turn at getting some daylight through their windows.

Anyway, Second Sight is the episode where Sisko begins to move forward from his wife's death and allows himself to fall in love with a mysterious woman with a knack for vanishing on him (because she's actually a figment of someone else's imagination). It's actually supposed to take place on the fourth anniversary of Jennifer Sisko's death at the Battle of Wolf 359, but I don't need to check stardates to know that doesn't really work. 90's Trek usually had its seasons span a year in-universe, with the cliffhanger season finales taking place around New Year's, so ep 9 of DS9 season 2 can't be an anniversary of ep 1 of Next Gen season 4 (also I checked and the stardates don't work either).

Sorry, I should really be writing some kind of review of the episode here, but I'm finding that I don't really want to. It happened, it's over with and I'm ready to move on. I mean it wasn't as terrible as I remembered it being, but it's a really laid back episode with bland dialogue, next to zero drama, and hardly any story. Plus it's all about Sisko finding that he's ready to get some romance episodes himself now, and I'd rather he didn't. I'd rather no one got any romance episodes on this series in fact, because it's not something DS9's very good at. When I look at other people's episode rankings, the episodes where a character falls for a guest star in five minutes are usually down near the bottom, mixed in with the Ferengi comedy stories. I can't see the appeal of super-rushed, inevitably doomed, zero consequence love stories and I don't get why they kept making them. Sometimes you get a City on the Edge of Forever out of it, but most of the time you very much do not.

I think part of the reason I liked this more the second time around is because I already knew all of its secrets, so I couldn't be disappointed by the reveal that Seyetik's wife Nidell was unintentionally projecting a 100% convincing solid duplicate of herself called Fenna half a mile across the station with her mind. It's not the most realistic ability for an alien to have and it's not the most satisfying resolution to the mystery of her twin either. Though I do like how it gives the title a double meaning, as you've got the obvious play on 'love at first sight', complicated by Fenna being two people, and Nidell's got 'second sight' as she's telepathic. Plus I always appreciate it when Trek breaks out the clever compositing to have the same actor play two characters in the same scene, even if one of them was asleep the whole time. They'd gotten really good at it by this point.

It's also cool that we finally got to see the runabout aft section set built for Next Gen's Timescape turn up on the Trek series with all the runabouts in it... though they've been reworked to form Seyetik and Nidell's quarters on the starship Prometheus (no relation to the USS Prometheus from Voyager). It's amazing to me that DS9 didn't take the opportunity to have just one episode where a character visits the back of a runabout before screwing with the set they'd inherited.

We also get to see DS9's favourite guest bridge set again, last seen in a scruffier form as the bridge of a freighter in The Passenger. It was also the bridge of the USS Saratoga, the ship Sisko watched his wife die on four years ago. Which is fitting because here he gets to helplessly watch his girlfriend's dreamer's husband die too! Nidell is headed for a bad end while she's trapped in her marriage so Seyetik steals a shuttle to personally ride his protomatter terraforming device into a dead star, singlehandedly resolving the issue and giving our protagonists nothing to do themselves but watch.

Seyetik's death isn't all that tragic though weirdly, as the guy seems so hyped about blowing himself up that it comes across less like he's making an incredible sacrifice to free his wife from their loveless marriage and more like he thinks it'll be an awesome end to his legend. He's so confident that ramming Genesis Device 2.0 into a dead star will reignite it that he doesn't even feel the need to be alive to see it happen. I guess part of the reason his death doesn't work for me is that the idea that his suicide is the only way to end his wife's suffering is really bizarre. We're told that 'people on her planet mate for life' but that doesn't seem like enough reason to drive your spaceship into a rock. Surely they could've maybe explored some less drastic solutions first?

Nidell is pretty much a non-character and Fenna isn't much better, but I thought Seyetik was one of the most interesting guest characters they've had on so far. He's a charming self-aware egomaniac and I could really understand how it could be fun to spend time with him for half an hour or so, but a living nightmare after that. Literally. Plus I liked that Kira couldn't stand him from the start but Bashir really got on with the guy; it makes sense seeing as he's like an alternate future version of Bashir from the universe where he hadn't mellowed out and become less of an asshole after season 1.

Hmm, what else did I like about the episode?

I liked that the back wall of Seyetik's shuttle cockpit is inexplicably all computer screens and he's obviously sitting behind that Cardassian computer console prop O'Brien was crouched next to when he got all those sparks in his face. I liked that O'Brien and Dax went to the trouble of pointlessly upgrading the Prometheus' engines to go warp 9.5 in the very next episode to air after Next Gen introduced a warp 5 speed limit in Force of Nature, like they were deliberately saying 'yeah, we're not doing that' (Dax claimed it was so they could escape a supernova if something went wrong, but how likely was it that it was going to explode faster than the speed of light?) I liked that the Prometheus' captain only had lieutenant junior grade rank pips, so that the DS9 characters got to have some authority when they were over there. And most of all I liked that the dull teaser eventually ended and released me from my torment.

Overall I think I'd rank Second Sight right next to Melora and Rules of Acquisition, two other love stories that I didn't hate as much as I thought I would. Looking at other people's ratings it seems I actually like it more than most viewers, which is weird but okay. Maybe it's just that I still have season 1 burned into my mind to compare it to. Deep Space Nine still hasn't become a series I'm hyped to watch more of, but I haven't been regretting watching it so much this year.

Deep Space Nine will return with Sanctuary. But next on Sci-Fi Adventures, I'll be writing about The Orville's season one finale, Mad Idolatry.

Anyway I'll shut up now and let you get on with writing up a comment.


  1. Oh, yeah. This episode. I didn't like it. I'd comment on some of the specifics, but damned if I can remember any.

    (Dax claimed it was so they could escape a supernova if something went wrong, but how likely was it that it was going to explode faster than the speed of light?)

    Hard to say. Praxis managed to knock ships light years away for a loop just minutes after exploding, so I suppose a supernova could do worse. Just ask Romulus. It doesn't make much sense, though, since we also saw stars exploding much more slowly in Generations.

    1. Yeah, I suppose when you've got magic sci-fi protomatter or whatever they were mining from Praxis the rules of science as we understand them go out the window. Okay maybe Dax DID know what she was talking about. Though if there was a risk of triggering a warp 9.4 supernova then perhaps it would've been smarter to leave the dead star alone.

  2. It's funny and also a pitty that the only time the runabout-aft was used in the series that invented and made heavy use of the runabout was as a another ship's interior.