Sunday, February 20, 2011

2-9. Second Sight

Sisko is charmed by the mysterious
Fenna (Salli Richardson).


It's the fourth anniversary of the battle that claimed Sisko's wife. The commander, unable to sleep, takes a walk around the station late at night. He is looking out at the stars when Fenna (Salli Richardson) appears. Sisko finds an instant connection with this mysterious and beautiful woman - but as suddenly as he sees her, she is gone again.

Meanwhile, terraformer Gideon Seyetik (Richard Kiley) comes to the station. Considered one of the Federation's foremost minds, Seyetik is preparing for his crowning achievement: revitalizing a dead sun. But it's a risky project. If any of Seyetik's calculations are wrong, the sun will simply go supernova - taking Seyetik's ship, with Dax on board, with it!


Commander Sisko: As the anniversary of his wife's death passes, he isn't certain whether he is more distraught over the date or over almost forgetting it. The timing leaves him particularly vulnerable when Fenna appears, and makes him less guarded than we usually see him right from the first. Presented with a puzzle, however, he does focus on solving it.

Dax: Continues to observe the ways in which her interaction with Sisko has changed in this newest incarnation. When Sisko is reluctant to talk about Fenna, she sharply observes that he'd have told Curzon. She shows good humor, more needling him than anything else, but I'd guess she feels some hurt knowing the difference between their relationship then versus now.

Hot Space Babe of the WeeK: Fenna, played by the gorgeous Salli Richardson, seems at first to be a fantasy figure. She's beautiful, soft-spoken, almost poetic in her words to Sisko. Up until the scene in which Dax asks Sisko about the woman she saw him with, I actively suspected she was going to turn out to be entirely in Sisko's mind.

Pompous Space Terraformer of the Week: Gideon Seyetik (Richard Kiley) is a brilliant man, an artist, a gourmet, an author.  He's one of the foremost minds in the Federation, and he'll be happy to tell you so. At length. Richard Kiley, a theatrical actor with considerable charm and screen presence, does a good job of making Seyetik just charming enough to offset his egotism, but still so bombastic that you just know you would hate to be stuck in a room with him for any extended period. Kiley does particularly well with tiny moments in which you see cracks in Seyetik's armor, the hints of self-doubt behind the bombast.


After a few episodes spent very much in the background, Sisko gets to be the focus of an episode again. It's good to see the series remember Sisko's loss, so central to the series pilot and barely (if ever) mentioned since: "You exist here."  When he stands, staring out at the stars, realizing that he almost forgot that anniversary, there's a sense of that loss again.

Sisko's romance with Fenna doesn't actually take up much screen time. I doubt the two share even ten minutes on screen in the first 30 minutes. More interesting is the effect of those meetings on Sisko. For really the first time in the series, we see Sisko... happy, and distracted by his own happiness. Not to the extent that he neglects his duties, nor does he lay aside his authority - Note how quickly he shuts down Kira's attempt to escape from Seyetik's self-praise. But the darkness he carries around with himself seems to ease, at least for this one episode.

We know right away that this romance is a one-episode deal, and therefore something must happen to make it impossible for Sisko to be with Fenna. At first, I thought she was purely illusory, some manifestation of his late wife. That doesn't end up being the case, fortunately, but the ultimate explanation has much the same effect. And, as with most series' one-episode romances, I'm quite sure there will be no lasting impact on Sisko, meaning that this episode could likely be effectively skipped with no real impact on a viewing of the series.

That said, I enjoyed the episode. I enjoyed seeing a softer side to Sisko's characterization. I enjoyed the ending, even if it pulled the disparate pieces together in somewhat too pat a fashion. It's not a great episode, but it is worth watching.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

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1 comment:

  1. I very much enjoyed seeing a softer side of Sisko and you're right about this being a throw-away relationship, but it's nice to know that the dark and brooding commander has the capacity to be happy again.

    I laughed at your "Pompous Space Terraformer of the Week" title. Without his charm and affability, Seyetic's egotism could have gotten old fast, but on the whole, I liked his character.

    I was a little frustrated with the lack of explanation of how Fenna came into being. It's obvious that Seyetic knew who Fenna was and also that Nadell was aware of her, though she disclaimed any knowledge of her at the dinner. Once Seyetic saw that Fenna had manifested again, he said that the same thing happened three years ago. He explained, "Nadell is a psycho-projective telepath. Fenna's just another one of her projections." I would like to have heard more about her other projections, and what form they would take. Could she do it on demand, or was it strictly a subconscious thing? You'd think that if the race was all like that, they'd have learned how to control it, especially since it has the ability to KILL the person. He said that in times of deep emotional distress they sometimes lose control of their abilities. When it happened before, Nadell swore it wouldn't happen again. If it's subconscious, how could she say that?

    If you've read many of my comments here, you can tell that I'm always interested in explanations for things to help me get a better understanding of the Star Trek universe. I know it's fiction, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to know how things work.

    Familiar faces: Maybe it was the ears or the hair, but I didn't recognize Salli Richardson right away, though she's one of the stars of another of my favorite sci-fi programs "Eureka".

    I agree with your rating of 6/10 - worth watching, but not included in a "best of" collection.