Thursday, January 31, 2008

Star Trek 419: Statistical Probabilities

419. Statistical Probabilities

FORMULA: Doctor Bashir I Presume + In the Cards + Whom Gods Destroy + Melora

WHY WE LIKE IT: Damar and Weyoun. The mutants.

WHY WE DON'T: The preaching.

REVIEW: Bashir's new status as a "mutant" (a misnomer if I ever heard one) has to be explored, and so we have Statistical Probabilities. Actually, it's not bad at all! The episode goes a long way making his genetic heritage a part of his character as he attempts to integrate four "failed" mutants, each with his or her mental aberration. That's a perfectly good Bashir story type of set-up, but I could really have done without the round table discussions on whether or not mutants should be allowed to participate in society. They come off as staged and preachy, and worse still, they don't tell us anything new.

The new mutants themselves are an interesting enough lot, each distinctively drawn. The manic Jack might not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's exactly the point. The child-like Patrick is more endearing, it's a sweet performance, while Lauren's choice of never standing up (except to dance) gives her performance something extra. There's little to say about the more fully autistic Serina at this point, except that is was perhaps inevitable that she would become the most useful of the bunch.

Just because it's a human interest story doesn't mean there's not a war on, and the episode also advances the bigger arc. Damar has been named Cardassia's leader by virtue of being on the puppet government fast track and peace (read: stalling) talks brings him and Weyoun to the station. Merging the two plots, the mutants become intensely engaged by the proceedings and start unraveling the whole story from simple body language. Credulity might be strained on occasion, but for the most part, this is all well played and interesting.

Of course, they must go too far, and beyond uncovering the Dominion's schemes, they use advanced mathematics to predict the outcome of the war, and ultimately, that the Federation should surrender and let their descendants beat the Dominion. Cue Bashir's nihilistic rampage. The key is that Bashir claims that in their calculations, small disturbances even out over time so that the far future can be accurately predicted. However, Star Trek is about the difference one person can make, as indeed will occur at the series' end. The mutants' little ploy to betray the Federation is aborted by the actions of Serina, the random element, just so the lesson can be made clear.

The mutants bring a lot of humor and vibrancy to the episode, though I have to call padding when I see it. In addition to the overlong recap, there's an extra goodbye that comes mid-coda and is really strange structurally. The scenes poking gentle fun at O'Brien's relatively "feeble" intelligence are more fun, but just as unnecessary.

LESSON: It's not how smart you are... no wait. It IS how smart you are.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Certainly important for the political side of things, this episode remains dynamic despite its padded bits thanks to some great guest roles, some recurring, some as yet not.


Stephen said...

this espisode is great in that it doesn;t go the path you expect it to when you first start watching. you expect it to be about how bashir cures thembut he doesn't they are what they are. i like the preaching on whether they can contribute to society even though tit doesn't work because it's hard to find the analogy and relevance to the world we live in.

mwbworld said...

I actually enjoyed the episode quite a bit, despite the questionable predictive claims for their predictive mathematics.

Still it was fun.

De said...

Serina was originally supposed to have a line of dialogue, but it was cut from the final episode.

Just as well, I think the character spoke volumes without uttering a word.

Siskoid said...

I agree. Even the sudden "awareness" she has when Bashir convinces her seem too much to me. (It's where the dialogue would have been.)

Anonymous said...

Patrick has mellowed with age. Here he is a couple decades younger (advance to the 9:45 mark).