Star Trek 361: The Visitor

361. The Visitor

FORMULA: The Inner Light + All Good Things...

WHY WE LIKE IT: It is so incredibly moving.

WHY WE DON'T: We don't?

REVIEW: A life hijacked by love, that's Jake's fate in this possible future. It's incredible to me how a story so obviously meant to end with a giant reset button can be this emotional. It shouldn't be because at the heart of DS9 is the bond between Ben and Jake Sisko. Sisko came to an empty shell of a station and turned it into a place his son could grow up in. The station is in many ways a show of love for his son, and The Visitor totally plays on that. Throughout the episode, both men care only for the other's welfare, no matter what.

The narrative device of having an older Jake tell the story to a fan allows all the info-dump to stay in the background during incredibly moving scenes between the Siskos. Emotion, not dialogue, seems to be the order of the day, and all three actors involved are in top form. The Visitor wouldn't work if Tony Todd (whom we know better as Kurn) couldn't pull it off. It must be especially hard to convey a range of emotion AND a sense that he is Jake Sisko grown up through a rubber mask, but he does so beautifully. Some of the things he does with his hands and eyebrows recalls Cirroc Lofton's performance as the younger Jake. And it's not all Tony Todd. Lofton gets some very strong moments too, especially the scene with Kira allowing him to stay on the station for a while longer. And Avery Brooks? Probably his best performance to date.

It's not all tears though. Part of the fun of seeing the future, even if that future won't occur, is to at least present potentials. For example, Nog has the potential to be captain some day, and Jake has the potential to be a great writer. Some of what happens is because of Sisko's absence though, and the religious and political ramifications aren't ignored (this is DS9, after all). It's quite fun to see Bashir and Dax still palling around and taking pokes at each other. But of course, Fate had other plans...

LESSON: When you're favorite writer is about to wipe your timeline, you damn well better finish his new novel right then and there.

REWATCHABILITY - High: An intensely emotional story about how deep the love between the Siskos can go, with wonderful performances and always cool peeks at the future. Many call this the best DS9 episode ever, and for many others, that makes it the best episode of TREK ever. After just watching it, I'm not in any frame of mind to argue the point.


Austin Gorton said...

First time I saw this, it just blew me away.

One of those episodes (along with Far Beyond The Stars, another favorite) that I think of when people say they don't like DS9, Star Trek, sci-fi, etc.

Watch this and tell me you don't. Even if you don't like the sci fi trappings, the emotions on display will suck you in.

Matthew Turnage said...

"The Visitor" is my favorite episode of any television show, period. The show is a masterpiece, and really speaks to me on a personal level. The secenes when young Jake breaks down with his father in sick bay and when old Jake says goodbye get me every time.

De said...

When this episode failed to earn an Emmy nomination for more than Outstanding Make-Up, is when it became clear to me that the Emmy Awards are the biggest joke on the planet when it comes to appreciating television.

Oh, and that's Andy "Garak" Robinson's daughter as Melanie. Each time I see him at a convention, he always mentions how proud he is of her for her work in this episode.

Siskoid said...

The Emmies are just the Oscars with a smaller screen. Same politics and biases apply. I don't know if SF or syndicated shows (most voting peers coming from non-SF, non-syndicated backgrounds), but Star Trek never did well.

Dan said...

I loved that they brought back the "All Good Things" designs for this episode. I always thought they were pretty cool, and it was nice to see them again.

Anonymous said...

I agree heartily that this is the best episode of DS9, and probably the best Trek episode ever. If anything, for once the Trek reset button is actually appropriate because it allows the episode to take the emotional arc of the characters far beyond the couple of days worth of time we usually get in the space of one episode. See, for example, "The Inner Light."

Anonymous said...

If you don't lose it at "To my father ... who is coming home", you have no soul.


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