"Take Me Out to the Holosuite"
7.4 (aired October 21, 1998)
“When their captain challenged us to a contest of courage, teamwork, and sacrifice, I accepted on your behalf.”
“We will destroy them.”
-- Sisko and Worf
“It’s a strange sensation, dying. No matter how many times it happens, you never get used to it.”
-- Ensign Ezri Dax
Characters in ensemble dramas need episodes focused around them to establish who they are, what they want, and where they came from. There’s a tradition in shows like DS9 to have one member of the ensemble act as the protagonist of the hour, with the rest of the cast taking the role of foils or even antagonists. After introducing Ezri Dax, they couldn’t just sneak her onto the show and pretend she’d been there the whole time. No, she was going to need that spotlight.
“It’ll be just like old times. Except different.”
-- Ensign Ezri Dax
Terry Farrell leaving DS9 put the writers in a no-win situation. The first option, the one I preferred at the time, is problematic from the standpoint that the show was already a bit of a sausage-fest, and they’d just been forced to kill one of only two female regulars. Elevating one of DS9’s numerous reoccurring characters to regular status, say, someone like Garak or Nog, who are not only great characters on their own, but are in most of the final season anyway, would have certainly been elegant and organic. It would have also left a cast of nine with only a single woman.
“In times of trouble, some people find comfort in hate and fear.”
-- Constable Odo
With a quote like that, you’d think Odo was commenting on current events. That’s really what defines good science fiction: the ability to stay relevant many years after it’s released into the wild. Deep Space Nine is prescient to almost an absurd degree, but it’s no great magic trick how the writers managed this. People are people (as the philosophers of Depeche Mode once informed us), and as long as the stories spring from that essential idea, they’ll retain a position of truth. Odo’s not talking about current events; he’s talking about the persistent threads of history that have consistently led to the rise of organizations that feed on negative emotions.
“Take us to Cardassia, Mr. Nog.”
-- Captain Benjamin Sisko
Whenever I think about running a television show, my sphincter clenches up with the tensile strength of an industrial vice. Too many outside factors determine the stories you’re allowed to tell: your ratings, your network, your executives, your actors, and so forth and so on. Although we call them “talking props” in the industry, it turns out actors are creative folks with thoughts, ideas, and feelings about what they’re doing. And, sometimes, they just up and walk away.
“To Lisa, and the sweet sound of her voice.”
-- Chief Miles O’Brien
By this point in the series, the characters of Deep Space Nine are exhausted, and they all know one thing beyond the shadow of any doubt: It’s going to get worse before it gets better. All Sisko managed with his soul-staining gambit to pull the Romulans in has been to prolong an already brutal slugfest. The war is going to drag on, and it’s going to rack up a cost no one wants to pay.
“I am a Klingon warrior and a Starfleet officer. I have piloted starships through Dominion minefields. I have stood in battle against Kelvans twice my size. I courted and won the heart of the magnificent Jadzia Dax. If I can do these things, I can make this child go to sleep.”
-- Lt. Commander Worf
I had an elaborate reasoning behind why this episode was created. I believed it was because in season one’s “Battle Lines,” Kai Opaka handed Molly O’Brien a piece of jewelry before heading into the Gamma Quadrant to minister to Mike from Breaking Bad. The scene is played with such portent that the creators were telegraphing that this piece of jewelry would play an important part in the story.
“I know, ‘Females and finances don’t mix.’ But that can be interpreted in many different ways.”
More than any other medium, television and movies are collaborative. When everyone is on the same page, this can produce magic, as the creative processes of the entire crew is focused on adding details, depth, and meaning to the finished project. When the creative minds are at cross purposes, though, you get a mess. And when the lead actor hates a script, the director thinks it’s a dark exploration into a wounded family, and the writers think it’s a light farce, well, that’s when you get this week’s episode, “Profit and Lace.”
“We’re Red Squad and we can do anything!”
-- Captain Tim Watters
The heroes of stories almost never lose. It doesn’t matter the odds they’re up against. Doesn’t matter how badly they’re outnumbered, outgunned, or outmatched. For a story to be engaging, the hero has to be the underdog, so that when triumph inevitably occurs, it looks like the result of brains, guts, and maybe a few lucky breaks along the way. The fallout is that because we have spent our whole lives absorbing stories like this, it’s legitimately stunning to us when the underdog doesn’t pull that one miracle shot to win the big game/kill the evil despot/destroy the Death Star. We’ve forgotten the simple truth that the whole reason those victories are satisfying is that they’re so unlikely.
“You defied the will of the Prophets, and you did it because you couldn’t stand the fact that a human, an infidel, had a stronger faith than you. The Emissary was willing to sacrifice his own son to serve the Prophets.”
“My faith is as pure as the Emissary’s.”
“I think you’re confusing faith with ambition.”
-- Major Kira and Kai Winn
It’s a little awkward being both a Starfleet officer and Space Jesus. While technically the Prime Directive only applies to pre-warp cultures, becoming the messiah for an entire planet does seem to violate at least the spirit of the rule. At the very least, it’s unbecoming. There’s also not a thing they can do about it. It wasn’t like Ben Sisko showed up to DS9 and was like, “Hi, people of Bajor, I’m the Emissary of the Prophets.” No, they gave him that title all on their own.