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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

"Always look behind you before swinging a bat."

An old rivalry is stirred up when a visiting Vulcan and his all-Vulcan baseball team challenge the Niners to a game on the holodeck.

So, I am a British person with limited knowledge or understanding of baseball. We play a similar game called Rounders in primary school, which is then played mainly as a game for girls in secondary school (or it was when I went to school in the 1990s anyway!). But for adults, cricket has a much bigger following than baseball, and I obviously have no experience of all the other ways baseball works its way into American culture, like collecting baseball cards, or idolising baseball heroes.

I'm not sure if that makes me a bad choice to review this episode, or the perfect choice! After all, the majority of the characters on the show have no knowledge of baseball either. Luckily this means we in the audience get a decent amount of information about baseball incorporated into the script, though I don't know if that gets frustrating for fans who do know the game.

I don't know baseball but I do know Star Trek, and as a Trekkie one of my favourite things about this episode is that it's the only episode of Deep Space Nine that heavily features the Vulcans. I love the way it pits Sisko's rag-tag team of inexperienced players against the physically strong and coldly logical Vulcans. Sports stories focusing on pitting a more emotional approach against a more logical approach are often pretty effective, and of course, that tension is at the heart of original series Star Trek – the whole series was built around reconciling McCoy's emotional approach with Spock's logical one. So I loved seeing that reflected here.

This is one of two Season Seven episodes that take a break from the ongoing Dominion War storyline to do a light, comedic, holodeck-based episode. Deep Space Nine resisted holodeck-based episodes for a long time, but as the story arcs became grimmer (and following the introduction of James Darren's Vic Fontaine) the holodeck started to appear more often. It's something this otherwise fairly grim season really needed.

The use of the holodeck here is interesting, as the stakes are even lower than in a more typical holodeck-gone-wrong story – there's literally no danger here, the only thing at stake is the characters' relationships with each other (and Sisko's wounded pride). But sometimes those are the most entertaining stories, and we really needed to see these people just interact and have fun together, outside of dealing with war and death and grief. They're having fun, and so are we.

Bits and pieces

- Kira mocks Quark in the medical bay, saying that knitting a couple of bones together is not major surgery, and Quark says it is if they're in the back of your skull. I'm with Quark on this one, and indeed would be even if the bones were in an arm or leg – sports games played for fun should not result in broken bones! But then, I don't play paintball because I don't find being pummelled by pellets enjoyable.

- We get to hear the Anthem of the United Federation of Planets before the match, which is fun. Presumably Vulcan, Earth and so forth have their own anthems as well, since the Vulcans are also in the Federation, but the Federation anthem was most appropriate since the game is taking place on Deep Space Nine.

- Baseball episodes are common enough in American TV shows to have their own page on TV Tropes. The one that sticks in my mind is The X-Files' 'The Unnatural', which combines baseball and undercover aliens rather nicely, and of course this is actually Deep Space Nine's second baseball episode, after season one's 'If Wishes Were Horses'.


Sisko (on Rom): How many is that?
Nog: Today? I think he's missed 10.

Bashir (on chewing gum): What flavour did you infuse it with?
O'Brien: Scotch.

Sisko: War is an inefficient business.

Ezri (on being called "human"): Did I forget to wear my spots today?

Final analysis: A much-needed bit of fun. Three out of four baseballs.

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 love your review and your point of view!

    Two things. First, as I obsess over titles, I will point out what most people probably know: Take Me Out to the Holosuite is a twist on a well-known song, Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
    Second, Max Grodénchik, who plays Rom, was actually the best ballplayer among the cast and crew (and they had several very good players; Cirroc Lofton's uncle played pro). He had to play left-handed to look bad.


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