|O'Brien is puzzled by the station|
crew's strange behavior.
O'Brien returns from a trip to the Parada system, in the Gamma Quadrant. Deep Space 9 is going to play host to a peace conference for the Paradas, who have been involved in a 12-year civil war. O'Brien has been briefed on some changes needed to the station's security systems before the conference can begin.
The morning after his return, O'Brien notices odd behavior among the people on the station. His wife is distant and evasive. Sisko is granting junior officers permission to begin work on the security network before O'Brien even arrives in Ops. Dr. Bashir orders him to undergo a physical that's far too intensive to be simply routine. There are little inconsistencies in statements made by different people. Slowly, O'Brien comes to the conclusion that something is horribly wrong here. If he's right, the Parada and their peace conference will explode into something horrible!
Commander Sisko: Initially friendly and professional with O'Brien. It isn't until Jake contradicts his father's story about bad grades that O'Brien twigs that anything's wrong with Sisko. Avery Brooks does "sinister" very well. His performance isn't very far removed from his usual work, but he has the ability to give it just a tiny extra shading that makes him a bit scary.
O'Brien: This episode is a showcase for Colm Meaney, who is terrific as an O'Brien who is increasingly isolated. We get to see exactly how formidable O'Brien can be, as he uses his engineering skills to override Sisko's attempts to lock him out of various parts of the station. When he finally runs near the end, he is able to overcome every security effort to thwart him.
Whispers is one of the very best episodes of the series thus far. It's essentially a genre riff. Just as Necessary Evil evoked classic film noir, this episode evokes the 1970's paranoid thrillers, with one man battling against an array of influential forces. There's a bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, too, as O'Brien makes allies in Jake and Odo, only to find each "taken over" when he meets up with them again late in the episode.
The episode is directed by television veteran Les Landau, who does a good job of playing with shadows and tight shots. The closeups of O'Brien are particularly effective, as he becomes more and more disturbed and isolated as the episode goes.
The episode does play fair. There's an end twist, one which adequately answers all of the questions raised and explains all of the regulars' strange behavior. While watching, though, most viewers would probably think there was some kind of "body snatchers" plot going on. Everything in the plot would have fit a return by the insect creatures from TNG's Conspiracy, just an example. But the end twist fits with everything we've seen, as well, and adds a perfect button onto a gripping episode.
Overall Rating: 10/10.