|A wake for a lost friend.|
The Defiant is on its way home from a convoy escort mission when it intercepts a Starfleet distress call. Lisa Cusack (Debra Wilson), captain of the USS Olympia, is stranded on a planet whose atmosphere will not sustain her for long. When they make contact, they learn that she has barely enough supplies to keep her alive until they reach her. To monitor her condition, and to keep her from being alone as she waits, they agree to take turns talking with her over the intercom, in a series of conversations that become increasingly personal across the six-day journey.
Back on the station, Quark has a rare business opportunity, one that can only be completed if a wanted criminal can make his way onto the station undetected. Odo's vigilance would normally make this impossible. But, as Quark observes to an attentive Jake, Odo has been distracted since the start of his relationship with Kira. A nudge from Quark to celebrate their one-month anniversary is all that it takes to keep Odo clear long enough for the criminal exchange to take place.
Until Odo informs him that he plans to celebrate the anniversary of their first kiss - Which happened exactly one day after their first date. A delay of exactly one day... And with no way to reach his contact, that one day may leave Quark with a lengthy prison sentence!
Capt. Sisko: Kasidy Yates is aboard the Defiant, having served as convoy liaison officer during the escort mission... Something which makes Sisko uncomfortable. Not because she did a bad job - He acknowledges to Lisa when it's his "turn" to speak with her that Kasidy did a fine job of it. He's just not comfortable with the intersection of his personal life and his duty. At the end, when Sisko talks to her, it's clear that she fears he's about to end their relationship, and is visibly relieved when he tells her that his behavior was all about his issues, something he promises to discuss with her privately later.
Dr. Bashir: Has changed a lot. The war, likely combined with some feelings of isolation now that it's known that he's genetically engineered, has transformed the gregarious young idealist into a taciturn, even dour, man focused solely on his work. He isn't even particularly interested in speaking with Lisa, focusing more on his reports than on what she is saying - Something she calls him on, reminding him that it isn't enough to care - Others have to see that he cares.
O'Brien: Has also become more isolated due to the war, something that in his case is entirely self-imposed. As a veteran of the war with the Cardassians, he knows only too well the emotional danger of getting close to people who might not be alive tomorrow. He admits to Lisa that he won't talk to his friends or family about his feelings, and he doesn't like the idea of talking to a ship's counselor... Which leaves him to stew, even as he pretends to still be the cheerful engineer he used to be.
Quark/Jake: The "B" plot revives the rivalry between Odo and Quark, something that's been little-seen since the Dominion War started. I love the joy Quark feels at "beating" Odo, which gives him more pleasure than the prospect of the actual payoff. That makes his devastation all the greater when Odo throws a wrench into his timing. Jake makes a great straight man to Quark, performing what are effectively the henchman duties that traditionally have belonged to Rom, resulting in some fun exchanges between two characters who have rarely interacted. Yet again, even this late in its run, Deep Space 9 combines characters in a new way and creates an enjoyable new dynamic.
The Sound of Her Voice is basically a bottle show. It features the regulars, Kasidy, and one guest star who is present only as a voice over a communicator. Save for a brief sojourn to the venerable Star Trek cave set, it alternates between shipbound scenes and station-bound scenes, and features only standing sets. I strongly suspect it was made in part as a budget saver, squeezing a few pennies before the doubtless more expensive season finale.
In the hands of writer Ronald D. Moore and this most excellent of Trek ensembles, it is highly effective, if suffering from an entirely unnecessary indulgence in Technobabble near the end.
I'll deal with the Technobabble issue first, as it's the episode's biggest weakness. The basic ending is easy enough to see coming, and doesn't require a labored Technobabble explanation. This bit only works if we assume Sisko never checked records about the person he was diverting to rescue, and didn't exchange any messages with Starfleet about the situation during the almost week-long period it takes to arrive. It's a bizarre choice, one that undermines an otherwise very fine episode.
Fortunately, it is an otherwise very fine episode. The script is an ensemble character piece, with excellent scenes for Sisko, Bashir, and O'Brien (and some pretty darn good ones for Quark and Odo in the subplot). All the characters ring true, the actors are excellent as usual, and the material works. Alexander Siddig and Colm Meaney are particularly good in their scenes, and it's fitting that they get the best moments of the tag. Bashir's insistence on telling his friends how much he cares is a fine moment...
One which is immediately upstaged by O'Brien, saying the simple truth of the situation of the war and what he's decided it means to him (and handily foreshadowing the following episode at the same time):
"We've grown apart, the lot of us. We didn't mean for it to happen, but it did. The war changed us, pulled us apart... I want my friends in my life, because someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find that someone is missing from this circle. And on that day we're going to mourn, and we shouldn't have to mourn alone."
Overall Rating: 7/10. Would be an "8" without the Technobabble at the end.
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Next Episode: Tears of the Prophets
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