Sunday, March 15, 2015

6-20. His Way.

Odo seeks romantic advice from
hologram Vic Fontaine (James Darren)















THE PLOT

Dr. Bashir has created a new hologram: Vic Fontaine (James Darren), modeled as a 1960's Las Vegas crooner. Vic is an unusual hologram, who actually knows he is a computer program on a 24th century space station. He has keen insight into human nature, recognizing without being told that Worf and Dax are married, that Chief O'Brien misses his wife, and that Odo has feelings for Kira.

When Kira visits Bajor to meet with First Minister Shakaar, her former lover, Odo fears she will rekindle that relationship. He accesses Vic's program, to solicit the entertainer's advice. Vic encourages him to pursue Kira, saying that since she already likes him and that he's "halfway there!" He tells Odo he needs to become more relaxed, and of his own accord creates a simulation of a Vegas act with Odo as the piano player, following that up with simulated dates to use as practice.

When Kira returns from Bajor, Vic takes one final liberty. He sets up a date between Odo and a "Kira hologram," holding back one small bit of information: That the Kira Odo is meeting is no hologram, but the real thing!


CHARACTERS

Capt. Sisko: After beginning his "lessons" with Vic, Odo catches himself singing while Sisko reviews a security report. odo stops as soon as Sisko brings it to his attention, but Sisko tells him not to, instead clicking his fingers and singing along with him. It's a perfect little moment that's just right for Sisko, but which wouldn't work at all with any of the other Trek captains.

Kira: When she returns from Bajor only to find Odo nervously avoiding her, she's clearly disappointed and confused - Which reminds me of her reaction to Odo's romance in A Simple Investigation, where she clearly wasn't happy about Odo being in a relationship. These cues make it more plausible when she is persuaded to go on a date with Odo. When both of them realize at the same time that Vic has lied to them about the nature of the date, Kira is angry - but refreshingly, her anger is directed only at Vic and not at all at Odo.

Odo: Another terrific performance by Rene Auberjonois, who perfectly captures the anxiety of a socially awkward man pushed into pursuing a woman. I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Vic pushes Odo into acting as the piano player during a performance of "Come Fly with Me." Odo starts out absolutely awkward, sitting at the piano and concentrating a little too hard on pretending to play it, clearly self-conscious even though there's nobody who isn't a hologram watching. As the song progresses, he starts to enjoy the music and the act and, by the end, he's showing off with the glee of a child make-believing himself to be a sports hero or rock star. Most of this is nonverbal, seen through his shifts in body language and facial expression as he sits at the piano, and it's marvelously well-done.

Quark: It's notable that, for all their constant bickering, Quark is the first one Odo turns to about his problems with Kira. For his part, while Quark enjoys needling the constable about his failure to pursue Kira, he does so with an undertone of sympathy. When Odo asks for a favor - to access the Vic program - Quark not only goes along, he thinks fast to stop Bashir from interrupting.

Vic Fontaine: The debut of Vic, the holographic crooner from Las Vegas' golden age. I'm not sure how I feel about him becoming a recurring character, but he works well in this episode. James Darren is just right for this sort of Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin hybrid, slick enough for us to believe him as a representation of a 1960's nightclub singer, sincere enough for us to believe that he genuinely wants to help Odo. Darren also has good comic timing and shows strong screen rapport with Rene Auberjonois, which goes a long way toward selling the episode. I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to more of Vic in future episodes - But I'm not dreading his reappearance, either, and that in itself is a pleasant surprise.


THOUGHTS

His Way is a likable little story, a bit of whimsy to light up the darkness that has dominated much of the season. A breezy romantic comedy punctuated by several well-performed musical interludes, it has much to recommend it: Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor are terrific, as always, as James Darren does a fine job of making Vic work as a character in his own right. The musical numbers add to the atmosphere, and even the regulars who are only peripherally featured feel "right." Objectively, this is a good episode.

It just isn't the kind of episode that particularly hooks me, which makes it a very difficult one to review. I wasn't bored while watching it. The story followed a very predictable pattern, but writers Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler know the characters so well that Kira and Odo never feel less than completely themselves, and director Allan Kroeker - who labeled this episode a personal favorite of his - does sterling work in every scene. It's enjoyable... It just isn't my particular cup of tea.

I do wonder whether putting Odo and Kira into a relationship is a good thing for the series. Yes, there have been indications that Kira enjoys at least knowing that Odo has feelings for her, and the two actors and their characters always play well opposite each other. I'm just uncertain that I will find this relationship a convincing one as the show moves forward. This episode also appears to be the final nail in any hopes I may have had that Odo's betrayal earlier this season will ever receive any followup, and that irritates me considerably.

But that's more a fault with the season's failure to address that plot turn than with this episode specifically. And as I said, by any objective measurement His Way is a good piece of television. Since my scores are representing my personal reactions, and not going for some objective measurement of merit, I refuse to give this a high score - But since it was well made and I didn't dislike it, I won't be giving a low one either.

If romantic/comedy/musical is the type of episode you enjoy, then you should add two full points to this score. But for me, this gets an unenthused but respectable:


Overall Rating: 6/10.


Previous Episode: In the Pale Moonlight
Next Episode: The Reckoning


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