Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “His Way”

“His Way”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 6, Episode 20
Production episode 40510-544
Original air date: April 22, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Bashir’s latest holosuite program from Felix—the guy who put together his secret agent program—is Las Vegas, 1962, and he invites Kira, Odo, Worf, Dax, and O’Brien to join him in watching Vic Fontaine perform. Fontaine is a self-aware hologram; he knows full well that he’s a “light bulb.” (“If you’re gonna work Vegas in the 60s, you’re gonna have to know the score. Otherwise you’re gonna look like a Clyde.”) He also immediately picks up on the fact that Worf and Dax are married, can tell that O’Brien is also married and misses his wife, and cops to the romantic tension between Kira and Odo, but decides to remain discreet in terms of mentioning it.

Apparently, Fontaine is good at giving advice to the lovelorn, as Bashir credits him with helping the doctor get a date with Ensign Walker. Odo overhears this, and is intrigued, especially since Kira is going to Bajor to see Shakaar. Quark, of all people, points out that Odo’s had over a year since Shakaar and Kira broke up to make a move, and he hasn’t done a thing about it. Odo then asks to use Bashir’s Fontaine program to ask why he refrained from saying anything about Kira and Odo. Fontaine saw immediately that he’s crazy about Kira but that she only thinks of him as a friend. Fontaine believes that Odo needs to loosen up. He has the constable “change” into a tuxedo and “play” the piano for Fontaine during his set (the crowd just appears, and the piano truly plays itself, but Fontaine wants Odo to sell the act of performing). By the end of “Come Fly with Me,” Odo is one cool cucumber….

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

But afterward, once the set’s over, Odo’s back to being like a statue. Two women show up, and they go out on a double date, a trial run for going out with Kira, as Fontaine tries to get him to relax.

The next day, Odo brings a report to Sisko. While the captain reads it, Odo starts singing under his breath. Sisko starts snapping his fingers in time, which is when Odo even realizes he is singing. The pair of them continue the song together.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

Odo continues to go to the holosuite every night for a week, and Fontaine introduces a new guest singer: Lola Chrystal, who looks exactly like Kira, and slinks all around the piano. Later, in Fontaine’s suite, Chrystal lights up a cigarette and Fontaine leaves them alone together. But Odo can’t actually be with an image of Kira—it needs to be the real thing. He leaves the holosuite in frustration.

Kira returns from Bajor, and when she goes onto the holosuite to meditate, she’s interrupted by Fontaine. He’s between sets while performing for Worf and Dax, so he transferred his matrix to her holosuite to talk to her about Odo. Kira is stunned that Odo has been spending time on the holosuite, more stunned that he’s enjoying it. Fontaine convinces her to have dinner with Odo on the holosuite that night. He then convinces Odo to come back to the holosuite because of the “overhaul” he did on the Chrystal hologram.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

Fontaine plays waiter for the pair of them, having a candlelight dinner of champagne and yummy food. Odo admits that he feels a little silly doing this in a holosuite, but he also is far looser and more relaxed. Kira is the one who’s tense, as this isn’t a side to Odo she ever expected to see. For Odo’s part, he’s very impressed with how well done the “hologram” is.

Fontaine’s band starts playing, and Odo actually asks her to dance. Kira doesn’t know how to dance to this kind of music, but Fontaine’s been teaching Odo, and the constable leads. Kira finally stops being nervous and enjoys herself, seeing Odo in a new light.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

However, eventually, Odo realizes that Kira isn’t a hologram and Kira realizes that Odo has thought her to be a hologram the whole time. Fontaine is unapologetic, but he shuts down the program as soon as Odo storms out angrily. Kira isn’t thrilled either.

Fontaine tries to apologize to Odo, but Odo’s pissed at being lied to. For her part, Kira talks to Dax about what she calls a moment of clarity. Dax encourages her to act on it, and so she confronts Odo on the Promenade in front of the entire station, saying they need to talk about their date. Odo doesn’t want to talk about it, but Kira thinks they should—maybe over dinner, and then maybe dancing, and then maybe kissing, and why bother with the date, why not just kiss now, and then all of a sudden they’re smooching on the Promenade, to the approval of everyone.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

Later, Odo goes into the holosuite to thank Fontaine.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Fontaine not only is aware of his status as a hologram, he has a certain amount of control over himself and his environment. He’s able to shut the holosuite down himself, he can transfer his matrix to another holosuite, he can construct a hologram of Kira using her image from the secret agent program (though it took him an hour to get rid of the Russian accent), and he can use the comm system.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

The Sisko is of Bajor: For the second time this season, we get to hear Avery Brooks’s singing voice, after Benny Russell sang to Cassie in “Far Beyond the Stars”—this time Sisko sorta-kinda duets with Odo on “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.”

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira goes to Bajor to brief Shakaar on the war effort. Dax, Bashir, Quark, and Odo all think that she’s there to rekindle her romance with the first minister, but they’re just friends, which opens the door to Odo, though he doesn’t realize it until the end of the episode when she actually says that’s why she was there. (Honestly, a lot of mishegoss could’ve been avoided if she’d said that in the beginning.)

Kira also sees Odo in a new light on the holosuite, for the first time seeing him loose and happy and a possible romantic partner.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: After learning that Fontaine gave Bashir advice on how to win Ensign Walker, Odo decides to go to him for advice on winning Kira—which actually works. We also get to see an Odo who bops along to music (which we’ve actually seen him do before), uses cheesy 1960s slang poorly, and looks awesome in a tux.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

The slug in your belly: Dax lets slip that Kira is visiting Shakaar, which Kira told her in confidence, reveals to a surprised Bashir that Odo is interested in Kira (which speaks more poorly of Bashir’s powers of observation than anything), and convinces Kira to act on her moment of clarity.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf’s sole response to Fontaine’s lounge act is to say that he prefers Klingon opera. He feels sufficiently strongly about it that he says it twice. But Dax drags his ass back to the holosuite for another set anyhow.

Rules of Acquisition: When they’re alone in Odo’s office, Quark reminds Odo that he’s had a year to make a move on Kira and has failed to do so. Mostly, as he puts it, because Odo’s not the most lovable person in the galaxy—or the sector—or the station—or that room.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: After the notion that Odo secretly loved Kira was seeded in “The Collaborator,” stated by Lwaxana in “Fascination,” stated by Odo to the female changeling in “Heart of Stone,” to Quark in “Crossfire,” and finally to Kira (albeit by a centuries-older iteration of Odo) in “Children of Time,” and after dancing around it in “Call to Arms” and “You Are Cordially Invited,” the two of them finally actually become a couple in this episode.

Also, for the record, Nana Visitor singing “Fever” is sex on a goddamn stick.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

What happens on the holosuite, stays on the holosuite: Apparently Felix can create self-aware holograms. The Emergency Medical Hologram (seen on Voyager and in “Dr. Bashir, I Presume?”) is also self-aware on purpose (as opposed to Moriarty in TNG’s “Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle,” who was made such accidentally), so the capability has been already established, although the ethical considerations are completely ignored.

Keep your ears open: “By the way, this is a high-class joint. That means coats and ties for the gents, dresses for the ladies. You guys look like a trapeze act.”

Fontaine’s response to the crew showing up in uniform to the lounge. (Sadly, we didn’t get to see how Worf and Dax dressed when they went back later—we already know Worf looks good in a tie and tails…)

Welcome aboard: Hey, look, it’s yet another recurring character! Actor/singer James Darren takes on the role of Fontaine, which will recur for the rest of the series; he’ll next appear in “Tears of the Prophets,” and show up in half a dozen seventh-season episodes. Plus Debi A. Monahan and Cynthia Pass appear as the female half of Odo and Fontaine’s double date. Monahan will return in a different role on Voyager’s “Critical Care,” while Pass will reprise the role of Ginger in the series finale “What You Leave Behind.”

Trivial matters: The notion of a Rat Pack-style character had been bopping around the writers room since the fourth season, when they tried to convince Frank Sinatra Jr. to take on the role. However, Sinatra was only interested in playing an alien—he had no interest in a role that evoked his father. In the fifth season, they worked Fontaine into the script for “A Simple Investigation,” hoping to cast Steve Lawrence. But the episode ran long and Lawrence wasn’t available, so they cut it. When they were putting this episode together, they initially offered the role to Robert Goulet, Tom Jones, and Jerry Vale, who all turned it down.

The episode’s title is a play on the famous Frank Sinatra song “My Way.”

Songs used in the episode include “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” “Come Fly with Me,” “They Can’t Take that Away from Me,” “Fever,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” “Fever” was chosen specifically by Nana Visitor because she had a very strong childhood memory of Doris Duke singing that song and playing it on the piano when she and her mother visited Duke. Visitor emulated Duke’s breathy style of singing it when she performed it here.

Kira’s image being used in Bashir’s secret-agent program in “Our Man Bashir” enables Fontaine to create “Lola Chrystal” in his lounge.

Kira and Shakaar broke up some time prior to “Children of Time,” which is also when Kira learned of Odo’s true feelings.

Among the contemporary performers referenced in the episode are Sinatra—whom Darren knew well via his friendship with Sinatra Jr.—Dean Martin, Liberace, Shecky Greene, and Victor Borge (a childhood favorite of your humble rewatcher).

This episode has yet another Cyrano de Bergerac riff. We got a more overt one in “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places” (not to mention a performance of it in TNG’s “The Nth Degree”). In addition, Chrystal’s choreography while singing “Fever” was likely inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance of “Makin’ Whoopee” in The Fabulous Baker Boys.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: His Way

Walk with the Prophets: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Intellectually, I hate the idea of the Vic Fontaine program. It’s silly, it’s frivolous, it raises all kinds of ethical conundrums that the show never shows the remotest interest in investigating (of course, given how horrendously Voyager would later tackle the same issues, that may be for the best), it’s not exactly the greatest period in Earth’s musical history—or even the 20th century’s musical history. It’s a little too much glorification of the past in a show that really should focus more on the future.

And yet, I sit, and I watch “His Way,” and I have a big-ass smile on my face every time James Darren opens his mouth.

Intellectually, I hate the idea of a Kira-Odo romance. She’s a Bajoran, he’s an animated pile of goo. Plus they have such an incredibly strong friendship, one that feels cheapened by shoehorning a romance into it. It’s a little too lazy a storytelling technique in a medium that all too often doesn’t know how to write male-female friendships and defaults to the romance when it isn’t the best option.

And yet, I sit, and I watch “His Way,” and I get the same “yay!” look on my face that Quark and Dax do when Kira and Odo kiss on the Promenade.

Credit to Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor, who totally sell the relationship between Kira and Odo regardless of the form it takes, and James Darren, for such an incredibly charismatic performance that can cover a multitude of plot sins.

The timing of this episode is particularly fortuitous, as we had a heavy episode followed by a really really heavy episode, so a lightweight fluffy romance was just what the doctor ordered. And it doesn’t get much fluffier than Vegas in 1962.

View this episode as eating a nice meringue after eating a particularly heavy, carb-and-protein-filled meal. This way you get a sweet dessert without worrying about filling up too much more.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido has a bunch of new things out, including Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution (reviewed on this very site!), “Time Keeps on Slippin’” in the Stargate SG-1/Atlantis anthology Far Horizons, “Fish Out of Water” in the Jonathan Maberry-edited anthology Out of Tune, “Stone Cold Whodunit” in the superhero anthology With Great Power, and “Merciless,” one of the adventures in the Firefly: Echoes of War role-playing game supplement Things Don’t Go Smooth.

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