Star Trek 291: A Man Alone

291. A Man Alone

FORMULA: A Matter of Perspective + Thine Own Self + Unnatural Selection

WHY WE LIKE IT: The subplots.

WHY WE DON'T: The brain dead murder mystery plot.

REVIEW: It's the old "murder mystery in which one of our heroes is accused of the murder" plot, and the solution is patently absurd, complete with a Mission Impossible unmasking, a "to do" list that basically includes "Frame Odo", and a clone walking out of the infirmary to "join Bajoran society". It's stupid. The episode, in that case, is much better than it has any right to be.

Part of the reason is the way Odo deals with the accusation. He's right when he tells Sisko the commander has no reason to trust him at this point, and you feel his outrage when his office is vandalized. The mob outside it, however, is pretty poor. There's just no energy to this band of extras and I can't fathom "shape-shifter" being much of a racial slur. That Morn won't sit next to Odo gives weight to this still unnamed character though (et tu, Morn?).

The real reason A Man Alone works is all the subplots. DS9 is already doing this much better than TNG ever did, with running arcs on all the characters. Sometimes they don't really work, like Bashir's pursuit of Dax (and that frankly boring video game she plays), but it does show Quark and Odo as gossips who like to speculate on Dax's relationship with Sisko. In fact, the Quark/Odo relationship is already fully formed here, at once friends and enemies. Oh, and Odo has that famous speech about couples and compromises, as well as a bit from his character bible: To Odo, laws change, but justice remains the same.

The big subplot revolves around the first DS9 appearance of Keiko O'Brien and the school for wayward children she wants to found. Sisko still has to build that community after all, and a school makes perfect sense, while dragging a botanist onto an old mining station probably didn't. The catalyst is the budding friendship between Jake and Nog who are to become the resident troublemakers. Rom gets his name here, but he's still not the Rom we'll know (he's putting on airs, and indeed, that's why he DOES allow Nog to be taught by a female?). Dealing with Keiko advances O'Brien's story, and indeed we see the whole family here. That Molly sure is cute.

LESSON: If you build it, they will come... but you have to ring the bell, dear.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's amazing that the A-plot can be so disastrously dumb, but the episode still shine though characterization.


Anonymous said...

I remember at the time wondering if the story was supposed to be spoofing something I hadn't seen before. Or maybe done on purpose to show that they can turn even the worst ideas into watchable television.

Today, I have less faith and writers and just figure it was a bad episode that was lucky enough to end up on a good series.

De said...

What really caught my eye with this episode was the direction. The plots and subplots literally melt into one another without harsh cutaways.

Eddie Albert (the guy who played Mr. Zayra) originally auditioned to play the role of Rom in this episode. He was a guest on a local radio show at the time and mentioned he was going to play a Ferengi on "something called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Siskoid said...

He's certainly very good at playing "slimy".


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