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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Sound of Her Voice

"To Lisa, and the sweet sound of her voice."

The crew of the Defiant try to help a Starfleet captain trapped on an inhospitable planet.

'The Sound of Her Voice' tells a story that recurs every now and again across genres. This is not a criticism, because there's nothing wrong with telling a classic story well – it's more an observation that how much you like this episode will depend on how much you enjoy this particular story.

(Can you tell that I don't enjoy it all that much?!)

The story in question is the story of The Voice Of The Trapped Person, which ends in tragedy. In contemporary drama, this will be a story about someone talking to someone else who is trapped, usually under a collapsed building. I'm pretty sure it happened on ER at least once, and I still remember the episode of British teen comedy-drama Press Gang, in which one of the main characters spent an entire episode trapped in a collapsed building after a gas explosion, talking through a pipe to a fellow survivor, only for the other survivor to die before help could reach her.

(British children's TV can be brutal. Every year my American husband and I argue over the relative merits of the British Christmas film The Snowman, in which the Snowman melts at the end, and the much more cheerful American Frosty the Snowman).

In science fiction, the twist can be even more brutal, thanks to the timey-wimey ball. Star Trek: Voyager had already played with a similar rug pull in their early episode 'Eye of the Needle', but this version is even more brutal. Actually seeing poor Lisa's dead body makes for a very grim conclusion to the crew's interactions with her.

Of course, this story is about much more than just that trope. Each crewperson's conversations with Lisa are used to explore whatever is going on for them personally as a result of the Dominion War and the trauma it's causing them all. O'Brien especially is able to work through some of his own issues and she is really able to help the Defiant crew in her last days, meaning their conversations have not been worthless, even if they weren't able to help her other than by providing moral support.

This tragic story is also offset by the much more upbeat B-plot on Deep Space Nine. Anything involving Odo and Quark and their odd frenemy-ship tends to be good for a few laughs and a lot of warm fuzzy feelings, and Odo allowing Quark to smuggle Denevan crystals is no exception. The balance of the sombre A-plot and the heart-warming B-plot helps to make this episode a well-structured, satisfying hour of television, without it falling into completely depressing tragedy.

It's still kinda miserable though.

Bits and pieces

- This episode continues the "grim war stories" theme of this season, like 'Valiant'.

- Sisko desperately wants to be a hero, obviously still smarting from the events of 'In the Pale Moonlight'.

- Odo and Kira's romance is carrying on nicely. I've never been much of an Odo/Kira shipper myself, but it's always nice to see people in love even when it's not your own preferred couple.

Quotes

O'Brien: The war changed us - pulled us apart.

Jadzia: It's called an Irish wake. It's a way to memorialize death, but celebrate life at the same time.
Worf: What are we supposed to do?
Jadzia: Well, drink, sing songs. Laugh, cry, talk about the deceased.
Worf: It sounds almost Klingon.

Final analysis: Like 'Valiant', this is a very good quality episode, but it's just so depressing. Three out of four Denevan crystals.

Juliette Harrisson is a writer, lecturer, Classicist and Trekkie. She re-tells ancient, medieval and early modern ghost stories on her podcast, Creepy Classics.

1 comment:

  1. I never understood the point of having the time difference. Why was that necessary? Perhaps to make sure she was truly dead, because otherwise the talented Julian would be able to revive her?

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