|Sisko and Jake share an adventure.|
Sisko returns from Bajor with a goatee and a new project. Having viewed designs of ancient Bajoran spaceships that traveled the stars using solar sails, Sisko has decided to build his own solar spaceship. As he constructs his exact replica, he comes up with an additional plan: To prove that it's possible that Bajoran legends about travelling all the way to Cardassia in these ships are possible.
Obviously, he can't take what would be a years-long voyage to Cardassia. But he can take four days to sail the ship through the Denorios belt, the most difficult part of the journey. If he can take the ship that far, then he will have proved that it was at least possible for the ancient Bajorans to make the trip. And by inviting Jake to be his co-pilot on the journey, he will get some rare time to bond with his son.
But the journey will bring with it a few surprises. All too soon, Sisko will find his trip is just a little more perilous than he had planned...
Commander Sisko: This episode marks the debut of the goatee. As with the first appearances of Riker's beard, it doesn't quite look right yet, but will in time come to suit his face - particularly when he gets around to shaving his head. This episode is a good one for both Avery Brooks and Sisko. Sisko throws himself into his project with enthusiasm, insisting on making every detail as authentic as possible, right down to using the same tools the Bajorans had used. Brooks, who has often been at his best in the more action-heavy episodes, here gets a chance to shine in the quiet moments. Particularly good scenes include a quiet moment with Dax, in which the two friends recall Sisko's building of Jake's first bedroom, and the scenes with Jake in which he pushes his son to accept the offer of a writing fellowship. fellowship.
Jake: The writers of Deep Space 9 have been careful from the first not to repeat the mistakes TNG made with Wesley Crusher. From as early as the pilot, Jake has been characterized as a fairly normal kid. He's smart, but no super-genius who regularly shows up the adult professionals at their own jobs. He's a decent young man, but still prone to getting into mischief. As a result, he's been able to emerge as likable, but he often hasn't been a very distinct character in himself. This episode sees some focus on Jake as his own person. We learn that he not only has an interest in writing, but a genuine talent for it. We also see that he's worried about leaving his father on his own, concerned about his father's lack of companionship outside of work. These are good character notes, and may help Jake to emerge more from the background in the future.
Dr. Bashir: In a "B" plot, Bashir deals with anxiety over the person who beat him out for valedictorian coming to the station. As was the case when Bashir was nominated for a prestigious award, we see how sensitive he is about being "second best," even though Deep Space 9 was where he wanted to be in the first place. He feels as if his accomplishments aren't quite truly his, because she could have taken this assignment away from him if she had wanted to. An amusing scene shows Bashir and O'Brien getting drunk together, showing how far their friendship has evolved from a beginning when, as the chief frankly admits, O'Brien had "hated" Julian.
Explorers is a quiet, character-based episode, which is exactly what is called for after the seismic shift of the preceding 2-parter. This isn't about sabre-rattling or grand plots. It's about characters in rooms, talking. Because the characters are people we've come to care about and the dialogue is well-written, it works.
There is no connection at all between the "A" plot and the "B" plot, but they still manage to fit together. Maybe it's because both plots are heavily character-based. The tone is also kept even. The Bashir material has nothing to do with the Sisko story, but it feels like it belongs in the same episode. Also, both plots use character pairs. Sisko and his son interact throughout the main story, while the subplot mainly sees Bashir talking with O'Brien.
Though the episode is mostly talk, it's still highly visual. The set design of Sisko's Bajoran replica is really well-done. The interior looks like something out of a Jules Verne novel, with dials and levers and even a porthole. It's also well-lit, enhancing the feel of being inside something akin to an old seafaring vessel. The exterior model makes a good match for the interior, and is also eye-catching. And the setting of this primitive vessel allows just enough action to be injected into the episode to keep things moving, allowing some incident between one dialogue scene and the next.
On the whole, an enjoyable piece. It provides a breather after the big events of The Die Is Cast, while working as a fun little episode in its own right.
Overall Rating: 7/10
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Next Episode: Family Business
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