Before I go too far, I must say the title of this episode doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Who, exactly, is the forsaken? You know, besides what the undead members of the Horde call themselves in World of Warcraft.
But then the real horror of this episode appears: Lwaxana Troi.
Now, before I go too much further, let me first say that my general disinterest in Lwaxana Troi doesn’t extend to Majel Barrett. She was a fine actress, doing double-duty for this episode as the voice of the station’s computer just as she did for every other Trek series up to this point. My issues come with just how overbearing and overall obnoxious she is, and she is that way by design. Heck, kudos for Barrett for taking on a role that asked her to be so much…that.
But then again, there is a part of me that wonders upon seeing her for the first time in this episode who exactly made that woman an ambassador.
I may be getting a bit ahead of myself. Some Federation ambassadors are visiting the station for whatever it is Federation ambassadors do. Sisko doesn’t want to deal with them himself, but since rank has its privilege, he can assign a more junior officer to do so for him, so he saddles Bashir with babysitting duty, and these ambassadors are generally rather pushy and awful with the possible exception of the Vulcan ambassador who just makes a request to look into all the reasons Sisko can’t see them, reasons that Bashir is clearly making up involving technical stuff Bashir assumed (incorrectly) would be of no interest to the ambassadors. Likewise, the Vulcan assumes Dax is rather young until Bashir tells the man just how old the “Dax” part of Dax actually is. And, for some reason, Lwaxana Troi is the ambassador from Betazed.
No, Lwaxana goes off on her own because, while gambling at Quark’s, her antique brooch disappears. Odo shows up immediately, and Quark is cleared since petty theft is actually not one of Quark’s usual crimes. But then Odo rather quickly finds the real thief to Lwaxana’s general gratitude, a feeling that turns into fascination for the security chief since she decides to woo the shapeshifter, a fact that makes Odo uncomfortable enough to ask Sisko for help, help Sisko can’t give him.
And then O’Brien scans a probe that comes through the Wormhole and an alien computer program gets into the station. Given O’Brien wasn’t happy with the station’s computer as it was, this will cause more problems as random things shut on and off as O’Brien and Dax try to figure out how to get the program off the station’s computer.
Now, these all seem like disparate plotlines with little connection to each other, and for the most part they are. The Odo/Lwaxana plot probably gets the most screentime, and the O’Brien/Dax issues come in a bit behind there as Bashir does his best to keep three squabbling ambassadors happy. The Bashir plot is mostly there for comedic purposes, and it largely works. O’Brien likewise figures out how to deal with the program when he realizes it’s following him around and trying to keep his attention. Dax had suggested the program was a lifeform, O’Brien likened it to a puppy, and they built a virtual doghouse for it to live in, knowing they’d need to “play” with it once in a while, and Sisko can’t really object to that.
Heck, Bashir gets high commendations by saving the ambassadors from a sudden fire and staying calm the whole time.
The actual dramatic heft to the episode comes from Odo really not wanting to let his guard down and appear vulnerable. The Cardassians who found him used him for party tricks, it took him ages to get hair more or less right, and despite Lwaxana’s offer to take him for a picnic lunch, he doesn’t eat. He does have to turn to goo at one point for his rest, and when he and Lwaxana get trapped in an elevator, well, he doesn’t want to show someone what he looks like in his most vulnerable state, especially since shapeshifting out of the turbolift isn’t possible because the Cardassians are that awful when they build these things.
But then we get to what maybe makes the episode work: Lwaxana shows Odo some vulnerability by taking her wig off, claiming no one has ever seen her without one before. I somewhat doubt we’ve never seen her without a wig, but then again, I am still a bit dumbfounded as to when and how she became an ambassador. I’m not that far into the Next Generation rewatch with Jimmy, so I will be keeping an eye out for that sort of news.
Then again, it may have just been an excuse to get her on the station and start some kind of relationship with Odo. Odo is so stand-offish even with people he presumably likes, so seeing him let go just a little bit to assume his liquid form in front of anyone, let alone someone he just met, means something deep, and it did show a compassionate side to Lwaxana when she’s usually all bombast and talking over people. So, that was nice.
That still doesn’t mean I want to see more of Lwaxana Troi on Deep Space Nine, but there are far worse characters, and this is the show that made the Ferengi work, so we’ll see what happens.