July 23, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “It’s Only A Paper Moon”

Nog, in a dark place, retreats to Vic Fontaine's holographic world.

I’ve mentioned a few times having a friend and co-worker who I sometimes talk Trek with, and on this episode, he remarked that it was rather impressive that a whole episode was dedicated to two characters who weren’t even part of the main cast.  I mean, Nog has been there since the pilot, but he’s not a part of the main cast.  As for Vic Fontaine…well, he sure does sing well.

After the previous episode had Kira dealing with Dukat again, the thing was Nog had lost a leg in battle with the Dominion.  Replacing a leg is nothing too unusual for Starfleet and the Federation, but it does mean Nog was off getting a new leg, and I can say that the Kira episode just took place while Nog was away.  He’s back now, still using a cane even though he doesn’t really need one.  His pain is in his head.  He’ll still need therapy, something his father Rom and stepmother Leeta are concerned about.

Now, a Starfleet officer having psychological problems would mean a trip to the station’s counselor, and that would be Ezri.  Ezri’s time as station counselor has been, well, fine.  She helped Garek and…well, that’s about it for her onscreen work.  So, this episode would be a good way to show Ezri doing her job and doing her job well.

Except  that isn’t what happens at all.  She’s trying, but Vic Fontaine, the self-aware hologram, seems to be the one doing more to help Nog than anything else.  I’m starting to think Ezri is going to be about as useful as Troi.

Regardless, while Nog was first injured, Bashir had played a bit of Vic Fontaine’s singing, and the song was something Nog just put on repeat to the point where even Jake couldn’t take his roommate’s inability to at least listen to a new song, causing Nog to go see the real thing (so to speak).  And then, well, Nog decided not to leave.

The idea that the holodeck is a place that works best in small doses has been part of its basic concept for quite some time.  But Vic is a self-aware hologram, much like Voyager‘s Doctor.  He’s programmed to read people, remember things, and be something of a comfort.  Even from his first appearance, he’s been a guy who tries to help his customers.  He’s the one who helped Odo and Kira get together after all.  Maybe he can help Nog.

And, well, he does.  That wasn’t that surprising.  Nog throws himself into being a typical Ferengi, balancing Vic’s books and even looking to get him to expand.  Vic, by contrast, gives him a cane, but he also isn’t afraid to toss Nog out if he gets into a fight with Jake because Nog is in a dark place and doesn’t want pity or attention, so Jake’s date calling Nog a hero doesn’t work.  Ezri stops by once in a while, but this is mostly Vic allowing Nog to hang out until Vic basically decides he’s done.

Vic’s technique actually works as Nog had, without knowing it, over time stopped using the cane, and he likewise got Nog to open up.  Nog had PTSD.  That was obvious.  He likewise saw he himself wasn’t invincible and he got scared, but staying in the holosuite with Vic was just avoiding life.  He missed his father’s promotion party and a host of other things.  But mostly it was mortality.  Nog was afraid to die, and it finally sunk in after so many near misses and seeing so many people he knew die that it could also happen to him.

But oddly enough, Nog’s staying in Vic’s place for days on end actually allows Vic to experience life as well, something he likewise appreciated.  Meaning that, for all that Nog did start down the road to real recovery by episode’s end, he also somehow convinced Quark to leave Vic’s place on all the time so Vic could experience life himself.  Vic appreciates that, but I kinda wonder how Nog talked Quark into that since Quark grumbled at one point about how expensive it was to keep a holosuite like that one running all the time.

Anyway, yes, deep episode, well worth the look, but man, the thing it told me that it probably didn’t intend to is that, once again, when the counselor seems useless, go find someone with their own bar.