Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Fascination”

“Fascination”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & James Crocker and Philip LaZebnik
Directed by Avery Brooks
Season 3, Episode 10
Production episode 40512-456
Original air date: November 28, 1994
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Jake is moping in his quarters rather than help Mardah put up decorations for the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, because Jake and Mardah are no longer a couple—not for any bad reason, but because Mardah’s been accepted to the Regulus III Science Academy. That’s great for her, but it’s 300 light-years away. Sisko, however, convinces Jake to go to the festival, anyhow, but he promises he won’t have any fun.

Elsewhere, Odo has decided to participate in the Gratitude Festival for the first time, though his plan to spend time during it with Kira (who’s the presider of the festival on the station) is marred by the fact that Bareil will be present as well. O’Brien, meanwhile, is nervous, as Keiko and Molly are coming back to the station for the first time in two months, and it’s only for a couple of days. Bashir is grateful, as he and O’Brien have played over 70 racquetball games, and his elbow’s giving out. Bareil, Keiko, and Molly all arrive on the same transport—as does Lwaxana Troi, who apparently gave Molly a little too much candy on the ride, as Molly proceeds to barf on her dad.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Odo leaves instructions for the Starfleet security guard who’ll be in charge during the festival (the Bajoran guards are all taking the festival off), only to be interrupted by Lwaxana, who’s worried about Odo after having learned what he went through in “The Searchtwo-parter.

Molly finally gets to sleep after she gets some medicine from Bashir, and then the O’Briens have a mild tiff over what to do, brought on by Keiko’s exhaustion (a shuttle trip with Lwaxana will have that effect on one), eventually crankily agreeing to go to the festival together.

Kira opens the festival (attended by Dax, the O’Briens, and Bashir in civvies; a mopey Jake; Bareil; Lwaxana; and Sisko and Odo both in uniform) by lighting a fire and placing the first renewal scroll within it. (You write all your problems on the scroll and toss it in the fire.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Afterward, Lwaxana (for the second time) shows signs of a headache, but this time both Bareil and Jake show the same signs as Lwaxana walks past them. Jake buys Kira a jumja stick and asks her out on a date, to Kira’s abject shock. Meanwhile, Bareil goes to hit on Dax, and Odo’s enjoyment of a Bajoran band playing music is interrupted by Lwaxana trying to get him to dance. While Quark is hawking commemorative scroll-writing pens, the O’Briens sit at their table in his bar (O’Brien’s first time sitting there since she left, which Keiko finds sweet). Keiko reveals that the survey’s likely to go longer than six months, which leads to another argument, during which O’Brien acts like a tool, and eventually Keiko storms off, encouraged to do so by her husband.

Kira has told Sisko about Jake’s asking her out, and Sisko tries and fails to talk his son out of it, while Bareil is reluctant to make smoochy-faces with Kira because he needs to find Dax. Dax, though, is hiding from Bareil in the wardroom in order to hit on Sisko (the look of bafflement on Avery Brooks’s face in this scene is a wonder to behold). Sisko drags her to the infirmary, but Bashir finds nothing wrong, and Dax pretends it’s a practical joke until they’re out of Bashir’s earshot.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

O’Brien comes home to see Molly playing with her stuffed targ, telling him that Mommy’s in her room, sad. O’Brien apologizes through the closed door, and announces that he’s put a resignation letter on Sisko’s desk, and he’ll move to Bajor if that’s what she wants. But she says she needs time to think.

Kira bumps into Odo, Lwaxana, and Bashir en route to the wardroom for Sisko’s dinner, but Kira’s not going because Bareil and Jake will be there. When Bashir mentions Dax’s odd behavior, they start to think something odd might be going on, so he goes off to the infirmary, joined by Kira. Lwaxana gets another of her headaches as those two leave, and as soon as they’re alone in the infirmary, they’re all over each other.

Sisko’s party is something of a disaster. Bareil’s chasing after Dax, who rebuffs him angrily, then goes over to goose Sisko, who’s dealing with a frustrated Jake who thought Kira was going to be there. Meanwhile, O’Brien’s sitting alone at a window. Finally, Sisko calls Bashir, but he’s too busy sucking face with Kira to respond. He sends Odo (accompanied, inevitably, by Lwaxana), who is shocked to see Bashir and Kira getting handsy and kissy.

Keiko shows up in the red dress that O’Brien always liked, thanking him for the gesture of the resignation, but saying he doesn’t have to.

Bareil gets fed up with Sisko getting between him and Dax (never mind that Dax put him there), and he finally punches Sisko. Sisko just defends himself, but Dax then decks Bareil. Quark, who’s serving desserts, walks by Lwaxana, and then starts hitting on Keiko, to O’Brien’s dismay.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Sisko figures it out: that it’s Lwaxana. Bashir examines her, and she’s got Zanthi Fever, a condition that some older Betazoids get that amplifies their empathic abilities so that they project their emotions on others. Her amorous feelings for Odo got projected on people she was standing near during an attack.

Lwaxana recovers from Bashir’s treatment, and tells Odo that his secret—his feelings for Kira—is safe with her. She pointedly tells him that she knows what it’s like to be attracted to someone who doesn’t return those feelings. She gives him a kiss before she departs. Elsewhere, Keiko and Molly head back to Bajor, and all is well in the O’Brien household after a night of serious nookie. After they depart, Bashir shows up with a racquet and a ball.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is probably relieved that his son is no longer dating a dabo girl, but that relief is short lived as Jake next sets his Lwaxana-induced sights on Kira….

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is the presider of the Gratitude Festival, which is a great honor. She has four different men after her this week, Bareil (at least until he walks too close to Lwaxana), Jake (after he walks too close to Lwaxana), Bashir (after they both walk too close to Lwaxana), and Odo (known only to Lwaxana).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

The slug in your belly: Dax spends the entire episode in an amazing hot purple dress, one which makes it clear that she was telling the truth when she told Deral in “Meridian” about how far down the spots go (not that we see all the way down, but we get a pretty strong indicator…).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo spends the entire episode with a Lwaxana on his arm. It’s to her credit that she, at least, sees what no one else does—he’d rather it was Kira. This is the first time he’s admitted to the attraction to anyone out loud. (Not that he admits it overtly, but he doesn’t deny Lwaxana’s assertion, either.)

Rules of Acquisition: For the duration of the festival, Quark hires out the bar to performers and also sells souvenirs and caters Sisko’s party—and also wears a Bajoran earring, which a) looks ridiculous on his oversize lobe and b) gives O’Brien something handy to pinch when Quark hits on his wife.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Where do I even begin….

Jake, having broken up with Mardah, hits on Kira, who is hit on (and hit on back) by Bashir and is no longer being hit on by Bareil, who’s hitting on Dax, who’s hitting on Sisko (leading to Bareil hitting Sisko). As an added bonus, Quark hits on Keiko. Given the red dress she’s wearing, I’d have hit on her too. And Lwaxana spends the entire episode hitting on Odo, to no avail, though she does get in a kiss at the end.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Keep your ears open: “Odo, don’t worry, I’m here to help you.”

“What kind of help do you mean?”

“Oh, well—a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, a lap to melt in?”

Lwaxana offering aid and comfort to Odo, complete with a callback to “The Forsaken.”

Welcome aboard: Majel Barrett shows up for her annual Trek appearance (after “Dark Page” on TNG the previous season) and second DS9 appearance (after “The Forsaken” in the first season) as Lwaxana; she’ll be back next season for the character’s final Trek appearance in “The Muse.” Meantime, we also get recurring regulars Rosalind Chao as Keiko, Hana Hatae as Molly, and Philip Anglim as Bareil.

Trivial matters: The Gratitude Festival was first mentioned back in “The Nagus,” but this is the first time we see it in action. The festival will come up again in “Rapture” and “Tears of the Prophets.”

This is Keiko’s first time back since going on the survey in “The House of Quark.” Given that it’s a Bajoran survey, it makes sense that she’d get a couple days off during a Bajoran holiday. We won’t see her again until “Accession” in the fourth season, when the survey finally ends.

Bareil mentions that Kai Winn has made him one of her advisors. This will become important in three episodes when Winn and Bareil both return in “Life Support.”

Quark’s commemorative pens include an etching of the station by a Bajoran artist named Ermat Zimm, a play on production designer Herman Zimmerman’s name.

This episode bears some resemblance to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to the point that the writing and production staff watched the 1935 film of the play with Ian Hunter, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, and Olivia de Havilland during the early stages of production.

Having Kira and Bashir succumb to Lwaxana’s fever is an amusing in-joke, given that Nana Visitor and Siddig el-Fadil were in a relationship during the run of the show, and Visitor’s pregnancy with her and el-Fadil’s child will be written into the show in the fourth season.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

Walk with the Prophets: “Commander, you throw one hell of a party!” I was dreading watching this episode again, so I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that it didn’t make me actually vomit. In fact, I found many parts of it rather amusing. Credit to Avery Brooks both as director (keeping a light touch) and actor (it’s a delightful performance as he tries to fend off Dax, talk sense into his son, and generally maintain order in a chaotic mess), and also to director of photography Jonathan West, who brightened the sets a bit and gave the whole thing a festive atmosphere, fitting both for plot reasons (the festival) and story reasons. Plus Rene Auberjonois does a wonderful job playing Odo as Margaret Dumont to Majel Barrett’s Groucho Marx, and seeing Kira and Bashir all over each other when the actors were dating in real life is a hilarious in-joke.

Having said all that, it’s still just an awful episode. We’ve seen this theme before with Lwaxana several times on TNG (with it only working in “Dark Page,” because that was actually about something instead of doing “let’s play the eccentric old lady for laughs” again), with the added not-a-bonus of lifting the plot of “Sarek.”

The B-plot with the O’Briens is another one that actually worked better for me this time ’round than expected. The argument that they have after Keiko disembarks from the shuttle is one I’ve had with SO’s in the past (with me both as Keiko and as O’Brien), and it’s what happens when nerves are frayed—O’Brien by his nervous energy in anticipating Keiko’s return, Keiko by spending four hours in a shuttle with Lwaxana shoving candy down her kid’s throat. That argument felt very real.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Fascination

The one in Quark’s felt real too, but was a lot harder to watch because it’s difficult to see both sides of that one. There, O’Brien is being a total douchenozzle. It’s not the first time O’Brien’s pulled the jealous-of-a-colleague act on Keiko—we also saw it in TNG’s “Night Terrors,” though there were even more extenuating circumstances there—and it reflects really poorly on ol’ Miles. His selfish pouting over Keiko’s mission being extended is exactly as childish as Keiko says it is. Besides, the man’s an engineer on a station that he’s still trying to wrangle after two and a half years, and he’s surprised that an ecological survey’s going to go past its deadline?

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido has autographed copies of many of the books and comics he’s written for sale. Information, including several new books dug up in the garage recently, can be found here.

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