|Odo struggles to hold his solid form.|
A group of Federation ambassadors arrives, on a fact-finding mission to the wormhole. While they are visiting Ops, an unidentified probe comes through, and Dax has it brought to one of the docking bays for analysis. Not long after, the station begins experiencing power outages, with O'Brien deducing that a mechanical lifeform was downloaded along with the files from the probe, a lifeform that has become part and parcel of the station's computer.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) takes an interest in Odo. He does his best to avoid her, but she is relentless. When she chases him onto a turbolift, they get caught in one of the power outages... leaving Odo trapped with the overly amorous Lwaxana. Ops is unable to get the turbolift working again, and the situation steadily turns from annoying to serious. Odo is near the end of his regenerative cycle. He will need to revert to his liquid state soon... with no bucket on-hand to contain him!
Commander Sisko: Has a long-standing hatred of VIP assignments, and gives Dr. Bashir the job of keeping the ambassadors happy and "keeping them away from (him)." When he worked under Curzon Dax, Curzon took pleasure in deliberately giving Sisko such assignments, until the day that he hit an ambassador - behavior he makes clear Bashir isn't allowed to emulate.
Odo: Spends about half the episode trapped in a lift with Lwaxana. Odo is not someone who really likes to talk, and he soon all but begs Lwaxana to allow him to remain silent. As his situation worsens, however, he is coaxed into talking. He reveals that he was raised in a Bajoran lab. He attempted to fit in by entertaining his hosts. This made him the equivalent of a circus freak, imitating chairs and animals upon request. Auberjonois is superb, as ever, particularly when he is desperately clinging to his form as he begins to liquify (an excellent makeup job, by the way).
O'Brien: Has a sense of the Deep Space 9 computer, which he attempts to convey to Sisko. "Every computer has its own personality," he tells Sisko. Dealing with the Enterprise computer was "like dancing a waltz," while the Cardassian computer on the space station is more "like a wrestling match." His strong sense of the computer's personality alerts him when it begins behaving differently. As he figures out that it has become infected by an alien lifeform, and comes to compare it to a puppy, he comes up with a unique solution to the problem.
Lwaxana: Very far from my favorite recurring TNG character, and I was not pleased to see her pop up on DS9. The first half of the episode lived down to my fears all too well, as Lwaxana subjected Odo to the same style of harassment that made her interactions with Picard so aggravating. When the two characters get stuck in the lift, I gritted my teeth for more sub-sitcom shenanigans. And then, the unexpected happened: Lwaxana turned into a reasonable, compassionate human being. Majel Barrett is terrific in the second half of the episode, as she is genuinely compassionate to Odo, and the character becomes not only tolerable but genuinely likable for the first time I can remember.
Yet another first season episode that tries to appeal to Next Generation viewers by bringing over a recurring character. The series started with a Picard appearance. Not long after, it presented us with Q. Now, near the end of the season, we get Lwaxana Troi.
As with the earlier appearances, I comprehend the reasoning. Star Trek: The Next Generation was at its most successful point when Deep Space 9 debuted, and it was critical to the new series' success to hold onto as many of its viewers as possible. But I think that three appearances by TNG characters in less than twenty episodes smacks of insecurity... and given that this has been a very strong first season, there doesn't seem to be much reason for that.
The Forsaken is a better episode than Q-Less, at least. I'm not sure how many TNG viewers would have made a point of tuning in to see Lwaxana Troi, but those who did may have had their interest captured by surprisingly strong character work and a story that involves an artificial intelligence that is not deliberately malevolent. Colm Meaney gives another rock-solid performance as the frustrated O'Brien, and I genuinely enjoyed watching him wrestle with this situation.
The first act is rather weak, with most of the proceedings indicating a strained comedy episode. I can picture some viewers tuning out during that first act, before the script really gets interesting. It is an episode that gets steadily better as it goes, however, and the Odo scenes in the show's second half are extremely strong.
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