Star Trek 343: Fascination

343. Fascination

FORMULA: Sarek + The Forsaken

WHY WE LIKE IT: Bareil fist-fighting Sisko. The camera work. Piggy the stuffed targ.

WHY WE DON'T: Lwaxana's wigs. Bareil the stalker. Keiko, even in a red dress.

REVIEW: Fascination is a Midsummer Night's Dream-type of comedy, which is even more unusual than Brigadoon in space, and has probably taken a lot of flack for it. Which doesn't stop me from enjoying it a good deal. Yes, the hijinks inspired by Lwaxana's telepathic "love potion #9" are silly, but the carnavalesque direction gives the episode just the right pastoral tone to make it work. Bright colors, loads of street performers and beautifully executed tracking shots that link multiple scenes without breaking shot... We're in another world for the hour. The station looks completely different.

Lwaxana Troi is used sparingly, which is a good thing given that they've dressed her more horridly than usual. She's pretty much the MacGuffin here, though she gets to bring out some sweet comedy moments in Odo. With such a serious character, there's a real danger of humiliating him, but that doesn't happen. It works because he's resigned himself to Lwaxana's affections even if he hasn't responded to them.

The relaxed Kira is practically another character, full of joy and beauty, though once again, I can't get behind her relationship with Vedek Bareil. He's creepier than ever as Dax's stalker, but at the same time, his fight with Sisko is one of my favorite scenes ever. I find it incredibly funny how Sisko can take or deflect his hits like they were nothing. Well played. He's not exactly a Jem'Hadar, after all. Dax doing all the hand acting behind Sisko is pretty fun too. But back to Kira: She's the sensual center of this bacchanal with Jake and Bashir both after her. The former is merely cute. The latter is best known for having brought the two actors together in real life. That's one rehearsal that seems to have gone too far. Bashir's noticeable disappointment at being quarantined at the end is strongly felt.

In stark opposition to Kira, there's O'Brien. He's such a likeable character that we want the best for him. Unfortunately, his relationship with Keiko is written with more strife than joy. It creates the more serious conflict of the episode, but wow is Keiko ever a harpy in this. It's frustrating. I'm gonna go ahead and name Keiko as Fascination's weakest link (with both Lwaxana and Bareil too!), if only for her awful comedy reaction to Quark stroking his big ears on her. Throwing Quark in the mix was probably too much at that point anyway, who'd gotten his best laugh from his giant Bajoran earring.

The real love affair, if you'll allow me a rare fifth paragraph, is between Bashir and O'Brien. This episode reveals that forced camaraderie and open rivalry has given way to an actual friendship due to Keiko's absence. While she was gone, we learned they played way too many racquetball games. As soon as she leaves again, the racket comes flying from screen right. Another perfectly timed shot.

LESSON: Comedy didn't start with Vaudeville.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: People who don't like this one just haven't gotten into the mood of it, I think. It has its share of silliness, I agree, but enough fun moments to warrant watching it.


De said...

Peldor joy, my friend :)

Siskoid said...

Peldor joy to you.

LiamKav said...

This is the episode that cements DS9 as the Horny Show. Even before Lwaxana turned up we had horny Miles and horny Kira. I'm pretty sure all these characters did each other at least once off camera.

Also agree that the directing was really good. And it's Avery Brooks, who I have an idea had prior directing experience.


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