Saturday, October 5, 2013

5-7. Let He Who Is Without Sin...

Dax and Worf bicker while on vacation.


It's vacation time for Worf and Dax. And Dr. Bashir. And Quark. I sure hope the station suffers no tactical, medical, or science emergencies with all these top personnel vacationing at the same time; with even the bartender away, the remaining crew won't even be able to drown their sorrows. 

Despite the vacation, Worf and Dax are having troubles. Worf finds Dax's flippant nature irritating, and seeing her continue to happily interact with former lovers makes him worry that she doesn't take their relationship seriously. Dax feels that Worf is trying to control her, which makes her rebellious streak all the stronger.

When they reach Risa, Dax is reunited with Arandis (Vanessa Williams). When Worf learns that this beautiful Risan hostess is yet another ex-lover, this time of Dax's previous host, he grows even more sour... making him all too receptive to the message of Pascal Fullerton (Monte Markham) and "The New Essentialists," a movement dedicated to returning the Federation to its essential principles. Their first goal? Shut down Risa!


Capt. Sisko: Only present for the teaser, but that's plenty of time for the writers to have him behave out-of-character. In that scene, we see Sisko show an abnormal level of interest in station gossip, then earn the ire of Worf when he mentions having had good times on Risa with Dax. Worf's flash of jealousy would be something the real Sisko would either laugh at or promptly stamp out, but this weak and gossipy Sisko just stands there... Acting as something of a harbinger for the rest of the episode's problems.

Worf: Worf always had a tendency toward self-righteousness, but he was never as absolutely humorless as presented here. His behavior toward Dax is consistently judgmental and unstrusting, to such a degree that one could be forgiven for thinking that he's trying to push Dax into breaking up with him. There's a big speech (TM) meant to explain all of Worf's repression. Despite Michael Dorn acting the heck out of the monologue, it plays as shallow and obvious, nor does it excuse behavior that frankly should have Worf facing serious charges when he gets back to the station.

Dax: Though she comes off better than Worf (no surprise), how can she be surprised that Worf doesn't want to have a good time on Risa? The opening scene specifically tells us that it's not where he wants to go, and that she badgered him into it! Yes, his behavior is appalling - but I'd be a lot more sympathetic to Dax if she hadn't pushed him into going someplace he specifically didn't want to be. She does show her more thoughtful side in the second half, helping Arandis clean up the Essentialists' mess and reflecting on the reasons she wants Worf. But while her character isn't actively sabotaged the way Worf's is, she's still had far better showings, as recently as the previous episode.

Dr. Bashir/Quark/Leeta: This supporting trio actually manages to salvage a few small moments. Quark arrives at Risa brandishing horga'hns (the Risan "Me Want Sex" symbol) and generally throwing himself into having an obnoxious good time. Bashir and Leeta show enthusiasm from their first scene, having fun with their vacation as they make the dissolution of their relationship official in the most amicable way possible. The punchline to the subplot, with Leeta shocking both men by telling them she's leaving Bashir for Rom, is the one genuine laugh-out-loud moment in the entire episode, with a perfect button put on the moment by Quark handing Bashir ahorga'hn and saying, "You need this more than I do."

Hot Space Babe of the Week: Vanessa Williams was at the height of her beauty in the mid-1990's, so it is fair to say that the episode easily fills its "Space Babe" quota with her on-hand. Williams, a decent if limited actress, does well with what she's given, but her character is basically a sexualized saint, which means that she's never as interesting as her past relationship with Dax should allow.


Worf is a good character, well-played by Michael Dorn and consistently engaging on-screen. Dax is also a good character, played by a winning young actress who has terrific comic timing. The two actors have screen chemistry, and their friendship, then relationship has unfolded in previous episodes in a way that's been more consistently entertaining than any other attempts at Trek romances between regulars that I can think of.

So, faced with two popular characters who have been written into a relationship that actually works, Let He Who Is Without Sin... takes up the challenge of making both these characters and their relationship dull and unappealing. A daunting task, but two of the series' best writers are on hand to make it happen. Yes, this was written by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, because it takes top-notch Trek writers to concoct a Star Trek episode as bad as this one!

Behr and Wolfe seem determined to make the Worf/Dax relationship issues as strained and tedious as possible. But as if sensing that this isn't enough to make this episode anything more than forgettably mediocre, they bring in an external villain: Pascal Fullerton and his gang of Essentialists, whose plan to return the Federation to its core values is centered around... er, making a lot of speeches on the Federation's vacation planet. I could draw a Tea Party analogy, but for it to work the Tea Party would have to limit its activities solely to unbroadcast rallies held on Disneyland's Main Street.

With the Essentialists on hand, the second half manages to be even worse than the first half. Worf sides with the Essentialists and encourages them to commit a crime - with little, if any, indication that they would ever have done so without Worf's encouragement. But that's okay, because Worf has a heart-to-heart with Jadzia and then changes sides, stopping the Essentialists from continuing the crime that Worf started. Naturally, no one mentions that they were just a bunch of harmless crackpots until Worf came along to make them dangerous, nor are we led to expect any consequences.

In any case, three Trek spinoffs had Risa episodes: TNG with Captain's Holiday, DS9 with this episode, and Enterprise with Two Days and Two Nights. Given that Enterprise's Risa episode was the best of this uninspired bunch (and that even Two Days and Two Nights was only marginally above-average for Enterprise's underwhelming first season), I'm hopeful that this is the last Risa episode I'll ever have to review.

Overall Rating: 2/10.

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